Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Challenge what is normal! Rethink everything!

Yesterday I posted about digital coupons... now... SHOES.

This article on SmallBusinessTrends.com talks about 4 new types of shoes that entrepreneurs are bringing to market with mass appeal. First Crocs... and now shoes that actually have a purpose (besides looking foolishly comfortable). The shoes in this article are all designed around providing some type of hyper functionality. Who would have thought that anyone could be successful with "functional" shoes going up against Nike, Reebok and all the other major brands! These entrepreneurs were able to look at a product category that has been dominated, saturated and full of innovation for decades and still break the mold!

As much as it may seem that this posting is about shoes, it isn't! It's about remembering to never be complacent about your product or service offering, your marketing or your business in general. Constantly look for new, innovative ways to market, grow and manage your business. Start with the most obvious parts of your business and challenge the norm. Then, start to look at places you'd least expect to be able to make an impact... like coupons and shoes (metaphorically speaking).

Seriously George?? Not you too! ...

Monday, January 14, 2008

The next generation of COUPONS: digital!

Proctor & Gamble and Kroger are testing a new coupon distribution strategy that eliminates paper and scissors! Here is how it works:

Step 1: Visit Kroger.com and browse coupon offers.

Step 2: Pick the coupons you want to use and load them onto your card (I’m not sure if it is your Kroger card or if you have to get a special card… I’m hoping it works with the Kroger card).

Step 3: Go to Kroger, buy your groceries and present your “coupons” digitally via plastic!

I have to admit that I have never clipped a coupon my entire life but there is something about this idea that entices me to start saving! Maybe because it changes the entire “feel” of the coupon process. It eliminates the hassle of looking through hundreds of pages of newspaper garbage and clipping a few things that are actually worth buying. It also eliminates the hassle of organizing all the coupons and having them available when it’s time to check out.

In fact, it is almost like “pre-shopping” and loading store credit onto a GIFT CARD! That will be the appeal to non-coupon shoppers! It’s not about “saving money” it’s about taking advantage of free money!

When I heard about this I was so happy to see that even the COUPON business can be modernized and improved thanks to the World Wide Web.

If Kroger wants to hit a HUGE home run, maybe they should tie in functionality that allows users to make and print their shopping list online, then automatically show relevant coupons and add the discounts to the users card. This creates yet another convenience factor for visiting the website allowing Kroger to generate additional ad revenue from manufacturers hoping to influence what is on YOUR list.

Click here to visit the Kroger/ P&G co-branded site.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Search Marketing is for Everyone! Especially Small Businesses!

I talked to a woman yesterday who is starting a "pet sitting” business. She has very little money to invest and is only interested in targeting people within 10 miles of her house (with gas prices she would have to charge too much to go any further). She has done some very basic grassroots marketing efforts but has only generated four customers. Knowing that she really doesn’t have a budget we can work with, I wanted to give her an idea that would be relatively inexpensive and have a high probability of generating an immediate return on investment.

Let's see...

Direct Mail – No… very high cost per thousand people reached... out of her budget
TV/Radio - would take months to get results, target is too broad (entire city) and WAY out of her budget
Yellow Pages - I hate the yellow pages and only find it useful for companies targeting senior citizens. (Side note: If you are younger than 40 and are thinking, "But I use the yellow pages," you should really spend some time online.)

So, we need a solution that is geographically targeted, low cost and highly effective.

Behold the power of search marketing.... for small businesses.

One part of search marketing is the process of bidding on key terms that people use to find something online (i.e. pet sitter, dog walker, pet care). You can bid on those terms and your advertisement will be displayed when someone searches them. The best part is that you pay nothing when you ad is displayed. You only pay when someone clicks the ad and goes to your website.

For the pet sitter business, she needs to create a very strong landing page where she will direct traffic from her search engine advertising. The landing page should have very strong messaging, overcome objections quickly and have MANY call to action points... i.e. her phone number at least 5 times throughout the page and many "click here to contact us" buttons that are bright and shiny.

Then, she should create her Google adwords campaign. Here is the secret weapon though… Google allows you to only show your ads to people within a custom geographic area. In other words, she can tell Google to only show her ads to people who are sitting at their computer within a 10 mile radius of her home!! This way, she won’t waste money on people who are 15 miles away and not a profitable customer.

Once all of this is in place, she can start very slow with the campaign. She can set a daily budget of $10.00 for the first week and see how many people click her ad and then how many of them convert to a customer. If all signs are positive, she can continue to increase her daily budget and drive more traffic which will lead to more customers. If she is getting traffic but no customers, she will need to reevaluate the search terms she is bidding on and take another look at the landing page to make sure it is doing a good job generating an immediate response.

Geographic targeting is an extremely powerful tool for small businesses. Some other examples of how it can be used across multiple industries:

Home builders: new communities overtime start to display migration patterns. If you plot all of the resident’s previous addresses on a map, you can usually identify the specific areas people are moving from to that community. Geographically targeting those areas via Google Adwords is a great strategy for optimizing your online campaign performance.

Restaurants: most restaurant owners know how far people are willing to travel to eat at their establishment. They can set a radius around each restaurant or pick specific cities if they have multiple locations.

I often see geographically confined businesses advertising nationally through Google Adwords and wish someone would tell them how much money they are wasting! If you are a small business and have never tried search engine marketing because you didn’t think you could afford it, with this tool, you can’t afford not to.

Go to: http://www.google.com/ads/ and set-up your account…. Email me with questions!