10 Highly Effective Holiday Marketing Strategies

How your business can bring a little joy to the world this holiday season.

Ahh, the holidays. The most wonderful…or should we say busy…time of year. Many small businesses rely heavily on sales during the holiday season. We’ve got some great marketing ideas that will help you end your year in good cheer! So snuggle up with your Pumpkin Latte and read along.

  1. Always have a plan. In order for a good marketing strategy to work, you have to actually plan for it. And plan early so that you are ready. Like three months in advance early. Whether it’s online advertising, email marketing, a direct mail campaign or all of the above, make sure that you start planning now, before you’re tangled up in tinsel. Oh, and make sure you’re staffed to handle the holiday madness too.
  2. Highlight your brand promise. Your business has something to give. You fulfill a unique customer need. Give your customers a fun and actionable reason why they should purchase from you.
  3. Spread good cheer using video. You’ve heard it all year long, when it comes to marketing, video is hot! In fact, 64% of online shoppers say that video on social media helped them decide on a product to buy (click to learn more) Create a personal connection this season with a live video.
  4. Make it personal. Personally thank your customers for all that they have given you throughout the year. Who doesn’t love the warm fuzzies you get from a thoughtful thank you? (hint: direct mail is still super effective. Check out our previous blog on this topic here)
  5. Make it easy. The holiday season is fun, but also filled with shopping, parties, and many other obligations that take up a lot of time. Create a marketing campaign that highlights how you can give people more time to spend with their loved ones this holiday season, or how you can make their lives easier or save them money. Highlight your top sellers or offer gift suggestions.
  6. Make it social! Almost 50% of online stores receive significant traffic from their social media pages. Create holiday tips & tricks that are socially shareable. Everyone loves a good graphic. Create something compelling that features the product/service you provide and position yourself as a lifestyle choice. Consumers love to be a part of something.
  7. Consistency is key. As one of the key components to building a successful brand, being consistent across all channels is mission critical. It builds brand recognition and loyalty.
  8. Don’t forget your SEO. The best way to make sure that you show up in search results is to make sure you have a solid SEO strategy. Because many keywords are seasonal, you’ll want to also make sure that you are ranking well for your main keywords. SEO takes time, so the sooner you start the better position you’ll be in December.
  9. Make them customers for life. Don’t be short sighted this holiday season. First, it’s likely that if someone purchase from you earlier this year, that they may purchase from you again. Furthermore, if someone purchases from you during the holidays, they are likely to purchase from you again at some point the next year. Keep them coming back for more.
  10. FOMO is real. That’s “Fear Of Missing Out” for those of you who didn’t know. And it’s a real thing. So use it to your advantage when it comes to marketing. People don’t want to miss out. Limited quantities, limited time offers you get the idea.

The best and most successful marketing strategies are the ones that have been carefully thought out, planned for and executed in a timely manner. Hopefully you’re ready for a successful holiday season. If not, we get it. We can help make the season a little brighter for you. Just give us a call!

 

Pam Oulundsen
DARCI Creative
Project Manager & Data Analyst

low cost web page seacoast nh

10 Tips for a Successful Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is November 24, 2018

The countdown is on! Small Business Saturday is just around the corner. Don’t miss out on this opportunity as millions of shoppers show their love for local businesses!
Here’s a list of 10 super easy ways you can get ready and market your small business:

  • Update your social media with #ShopSmall profile pictures, cover photos and social posts
  • Take advantage of Shop Small’s customizable marketing materials. Click here to download!
  • Make shopping easy for your customers! Create holiday gift bundles for specific audiences…think…gifts for him, gifts for her, etc.
  • Create a compelling offer – even if it’s just free cookies and coffee while customers shop or free gift wrapping – an added incentive to shop local doesn’t hurt
  •  Send an email to your customers letting them know about #SmallBusinessSaturday and what you’re offering in store
  • If you are a local restaurant, use the #DineSmall hashtag on social media to remind and encourage your customers to support local restaurants
  • Extend your hours and take advantage of the day
  • Bring your community together, it’s what #SmallBusinessSaturday is all about! Collaborate with other business owners and team up for cross-promotions. Community over competition always wins
  • Be sure to staff accordingly. Top notch customer service is critically important. Be sure you are ready for the increase in store traffic.
  • Stay true to your brand and what’s most authentic to you.

These secrets are sure to help you have the most successful #SmallBusinessSaturday yet! But don’t forget to keep the momentum going! After you’ve recovered from your successful day, be sure to post a thank you to your customers on social media and send an email to your list enticing them to come back soon. Include images or videos of the day. I little thank you can go a long way!

 

Pam Oulundsen
DARCI Creative
Project Manager & Data Analyst

Your employees are your most powerful advocates!

Don’t underestimate the power of your staff – ask them to get involved and see your results soar.

Managing social media is time consuming when you do it right. Many businesses spend loads of time and money creating posts that end up with little or no traction. As a result, we’ve started to take a closer look at Facebook and Instagram algorithms that impact the success of using social.

There’s a saying we like that goes like this: “Trying to grow your business without advertising, is like winking at a girl in the dark.” And, with so many small businesses relying on social media as a core strategy, in order for it to work — it has to get seen. In order for it to get seen, people have to like it, respond to it and share it. You probably already knew that. But you might be wondering how you can make it happen. Turn your employees into your Brand Ambassadors. “Social media employee advocacy is a real thing.” What is it, exactly? It’s when marketers (and businesses) rely on their own employees to share a company’s posts on their own personal pages, also known as brand advocacy.

Your employees are your greatest asset, right? You’ve hired the best and the brightest and put them to work to make your business soar, so don’t underestimate what they can do for your business on social media!

Believe it or not, word-of-mouth is still one of the most effective marketing strategies. What’s changed is how we receive word-of-mouth communication. Today’s digital landscape means that word-of-mouth comes by way of Facebook recommendations, Instagram followers and post sharing and online reviews.

I’m not suggesting that you force post sharing or that you ‘make’ your employees spend lots of extra time on social. What I am saying is that if you create an environment where social media sharing is encouraged and supported, your team’s advocacy can have a positive effect on your social media influence and results.

The best way to make this happen in your organization is to lead by example….and to provide some support. Some employees may need some direction about what to say and what not to say, some may want a list of applicable hashtags. Provide them with the tools they need to be comfortable and successful. A little bit of training and support will increase their wiliness to participate.

The ultimate goal of your social media marketing efforts is to elevate your Brand and let people know who you are, and what you stand for — getting your employees involved just makes sense!

 

Pam Oulundsen
DARCI Creative
Project Manager & Data Analyst

What is Roadmapping?

What is roadmapping? It’s defined as: “any plan or guide to show how something is arranged or can be accomplished.” Roapmapping is the first and most important step in the Brand Muffin process. It’s when we help define who you are, how you want to be known and where you want to go.

It’s mission critical.

Roadmapping is the first step toward baking up the perfect muffin for our small business clients. In order to get that delicious bite that leaves you wanting more, you first have to identify the key ingredients. Just like baking, strategic brand design requires the right ingredients, to keep your customers coming back for more, again and again!

How does it work?

Teamwork makes the dream work, baby! You’re the closest to your business, and that gives you a unique perspective. Yet, sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. We get that. That’s why we’re here. We’re a team of marketing experts, who will help you get clear on key ingredients of your marketing strategy. Our goal is to bring clarity to what’s working and what’s not so you can move forward in fresh new ways.

The end result:

Clarity. By digging deep and gaining clarity on who you are and what sets you apart in the marketplace, we’ll have a starting point on creating a Brand that really work for you.

Think your business has all the right ingredients, but you’re just not sure how to mix them up? Give us a call! One of our head bakers (eh hem, marketing experts) would love to talk!

 

Pam Oulundsen
DARCI Creative
Project Manager & Data Analyst

SEO and website design for small business portsmouth nh

Six Actionable “On-Site” SEO Tips for Small Business Websites

(Part 2 of 3 in our Introduction to SEO for Small Business series)

Welcome back! It’s time for part two of a three-part series on SEO for small business. In the first post of this series, we introduced some basic SEO concepts and how they apply to a small business website. We touched on the relevance of keywords and how their placement within a site can help Google to better understand a business. We mentioned the benefits if amplifying a website’s presence with links from other sites. Also, we talked about how there’s no quick trick in SEO, making attention to detail so important. In this follow-up post we go over specific actionable tips that can be done to improve your small business’s SEO.

Google has been evolving its algorithm (in secret) since the company was founded twenty years ago. Although no one outside the Google headquarters can say for sure, we do have plenty of insight on what gets factored in as pages are ranked. There’s so much to get right, it would be impossible to mention everything in one post, but you’ve got to start somewhere, so let’s begin with these tips for “On-Site” SEO:

#1 Site Speed

Like any business, Google wants to please its customers. Google knows its users prefer sites that load quickly. No one wants to sit around waiting for a website to load, so check your site speed. A couple good speed graders are WebPageTest, Pingdom and Google’s own PageSpeed Insights. Not only will you get page load time (hopefully under 4 seconds), but also recommendations for improvement. Often slow load times are seen with pages that have images containing overly large file sizes. Did you compress your high-resolution images? Next time try https://tinypng.com/ before you upload. Another common site speed issue can happen with websites that do not have “static caching” (Brand Muffin sites use a WordPress plugin to solve for this). By the way, don’t forget to update your plugins!

#2 Site Security

Another SEO factor is security and Google has publicly stated that it was giving a slight rankings boost to websites that have increased security by adding an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate. Chrome, Google’s browser, even marks all sites that haven’t adopted SSL as “not secure.” So, having an SSL certificate is not only important for that algorithm rankings boost, but also for brand credibility. A site has SSL if the URL begins with https (not http) and you see a padlock near the URL. If you find this confusing, learn more in this recent Forbes article.

#3 Check for Broken Links

A “404 Error” message is often seen as a result of a broken link. For example, say a business no longer sells a product that it once had a page on its website for. When the product was retired, the page was removed. However, somewhere on the website, maybe in an old blog post, there is still a reference to that product and a link to that (no longer existing) page. If someone were to click that link they’d see a “404 Error” message. Google frowns on these. You can correct 404 errors by updating or removing the broken link and potentially creating a permanent redirect to a similar product that has an active page. The free webmaster tools Google Search Console and Screaming Frog are great assets for uncovering all types of page issues including 404 errors.

Keywords!
Remember from our first post, your keywords are the words and phrases that a potential customer might enter into a Google search when they are looking for information related to your business. They need to be planned for and placed within a webpage, both where users will see them and in where applicable in the page’s code. To better explain how this is done, let’s imagine we have a small business that sells kitchen supplies online. We have a new muffin pan coming out and we are making a new page for the product. We’ve decided that our best choice for this page’s primary keyword is “ceramic muffin pan.” If we want our new muffin pan to be ranked highly on Google, we can follow these best practices….

#4 Keyword in the page title

Let’s say that the new ceramic muffin pan is called “The Bake 8 Supreme” and our website’s preliminary title for the new page is, “You’ll Love the Bake 8 Supreme – On Sale Now!” At first this page title seems eye-catching enough, but we need to remember what word or phrase a potential muffin pan buyer may be entering into Google. They are only beginning their pan buying journey and would not yet be Googling the specific brand name of the product, right? Instead we decide to call the page… “Looking for a Ceramic Muffin Pan? You’ll Love the Bake 8 Supreme!” This way the keyword is in the page title. When a Googlebot indexes our new page, it will see our keyword, “ceramic muffin pan” right there in the page title. This increases the likelihood of Google showing our page when someone searches for “ceramic muffin pan.” It sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often keywords are not used in page titles.

#5 Keywords within the page copy

We tastefully use the keyword and variations of the keyword throughout the page copy. Along with “ceramic muffin pan,” we will work “muffin pan with ceramic coating,” and “non-stick muffin and cupcake pan” into the webpage. In doing so making sure not to “keyword stuff,” a now forbidden old SEO practice where the same keyword was used over and over again on a page. It is spammy and earns negative points with Google.

#6 Keywords as names of the images

The new product page for the muffin pan will have images and they should contain the keyword in the image name. This is a great opportunity to incorporate a keyword into a page’s code. So frequently this is missed and you’ll see a photo named image_003.jpg or tom_eating.jpg that should have been named ceramic_muffin_pan.jpg. Adding keywords to the image’s ALT tag is important as well.

Have you noticed that everything we’ve gone over here takes place on the website itself? Adding keyword, fixing 404 errors, improving site speed and security are all done within your website itself. We call this “On-Site” SEO. In the third and final installment of our intro to SEO series, we talk about using other websites to amplify yours, and cover “Off-Site” techniques absolutely crucial for SEO.

Sam Costanzo
DARCI Creative
Digital Marketing Manager

Introducing Elaine’s Unique Finds

Helping a Brick & Mortar store enter the online world.

Here’s the story:

For five years our client, Elaine, has been successfully curating and selling treasures that she carefully selects at reputable estate sales across the region. Her unique finds can be found at Glorious Possibilities in downtown Nashua, NH. But the opportunity to place an ad in a very targeted publication got Elaine thinking…should I be doing more? Is it time to get online?

The solution:

The answer to Elaine’s questions was a resounding YES! Which is what lead her to purchase one of our perfectly baked Mini Muffins, designed to help small business owners just like her grow and thrive.

The execution:

Elaine’s shop is essentially a store within a store, so we set out to create a Brand that reflects her unique style and would truly help her to stand out in the way she deserves. During our roadmapping session, we dug deep to really understand what Elaine does, how she selects her pieces, and the incredible research that she does for many of the items she selects. So when you make a trip to her shop, she enhances the experience by telling you the story behind the piece, where did it live before? Has it been loved? Who cared for it? And, because she’s so selective, we wanted folks to know that she’s sure to find “The Very Thing” you’re looking for.

Once Elaine’s brand identity was clearly defined we applied it to her gorgeous new website…something Elaine hadn’t envisioned she’d ever have. But with the help of the Brand Muffins bakers, she’s ready to take her business to the next level.

The result:

Elaine’s Unique Finds successfully launched her new website with a brand that truly reflects who she is. And, she couldn’t be happier!

We’re excited to share Elaine’s Unique Finds, where we know you’ll find The Very Thing! And next time you’re in Nashua stop by to say ‘hi’ to Elaine — tell her the Brand Muffins peeps sent you.

 

Pam Oulundsen
DARCI Creative
Project Manager & Data Analyst

Seacoast NH Website Design and Digital Marketing

Premier Seacoast NH realtor, Mary Strathern, launches her new website with Brand Muffins!

Go ahead, search for a realtor online. It’s very likely that you will come up with pages upon pages of real estate agencies. Does that really help? Whether you are buying or selling a piece of property, you want to make sure that you are working with someone who is committed to helping you buy or sell your home with the highest level of expertise in your local market.

That’s why our client, Mary Strathern came to us. As a premier real estate agent at the Gove Group, Mary came to us to help her stand out from the pack. We developed a brand for her that highlights why she’s been able to achieve Real Success In Real Estate, and then we created a new website, www.marysellstheseacoast.com as a resource for anyone looking for real estate on the Seacoast of NH.

With so much competition out there, how are you going to stand out from the pack? Brand Muffins is the perfect solution for any small business looking for big agency expertise on a tight, small business budget. We not only build websites, we build brands.
Mary has built a remarkable track record of delivering results throughout her 14+ years in real estate on the seacoast of New Hampshire. We’re proud to support Mary with the launch of her new website, www.marysellstheseacoast.com. Check out this powerful real estate resource for both buyers and sellers!

New Website Project Manager and Data Analyst Pam O

 

Pam Oulundsen
DARCI Creative
Project Manager & Data Analyst

Do you have an elevator pitch for your small business?

It may seem like a silly question, but do you have an elevator pitch for your small business? Defined as a succinct and persuasive sales pitch, an elevator pitch is definitely something you should have in your toolbox. You never know when opportunity will knock and it’s best to be prepared.

So…. How would you define your business in a concise yet compelling introduction that can be shared in the short amount of time that it takes to ride the elevator to your office? (okay, so maybe you don’t ride an elevator…but you get the point!)

Having the ability to communicate who you are and what you do quickly and effectively will enable you to confidently get the most important ideas across in your short conversation. Stumbling on your words will take away from your professionalism. And remember, our attention spans are very short, so it’s best to get to the point!

The best way to start is to write it down. Put pen to paper. Make a list of the most important messages you want to relay about your business. Is there a unique service you provide? Do you have a specific area of expertise? What sets you apart from the rest? Write it all down.

Your list may be long, and that’s okay. The next step is to organize it. Maybe re-write it in order of importance. Now that you’re a little more organized, see if you can put what you’ve written down into a few short sentences. Then read it out loud. Does it make sense? Is your message clear? Are you getting the right points across?

Finally, practice your elevator pitch on everyone and anyone who will listen – friends, family, the dog – it doesn’t matter, just practice it enough that it becomes natural. Like second-nature. Giving someone your elevator pitch is an opportunity to spread the word and possibly gain new business. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make sure you’ve practiced enough that you sound confident and authentic.

Now that you’ve nailed your elevator pitch, get out there and use it! Whether it’s at a networking event or a board meeting or maybe it’s during one of your kids’ soccer game or while you’re out at a bar, it doesn’t matter where or when. Just give it a try!

 

Pam Oulundsen
DARCI Creative
Project Manager & Data Analyst

The Power of a Good Tagline.

I’m a huge fan of great lines. It’s so awesome when something is delivered in a few words that really captures the reader (or the listener) and communicates the essence of a company or product. Like a lot of marketing terms these lines go by several names: slogans, taglines, straplines, or even mottos. But I refer to them as Positioning Lines to my clients. That’s because the string of words that you place alongside your logo and your company name are key critical to establishing your position within the market place.

Here are 5 tips to creating a great Positioning Line. 1. ID: It needs to support — and stay consistent — with the brand name. (eat fresh) 2. Sticky: Great positioning lines stick around because they’re memorable. (‘Does she… or doesn’t she?’) 3. Positive Benefit: You want to convey the consumer benefit for using your product or service in a positive way. (Just do it.) 4. Shine: With so many competing messages in an overcrowded playing field it’s important to set yourself apart with a creative and original Positioning Line, ie, don’t be boring and don’t do what others do. (Have it your way.) 5. KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. This is one of the toughest things to achieve. One word is rarely enough and 7 is usually too many. (Stronger than dirt.)

I think “mmm mmm good” is a much more successful line than, “It’s amazing what soup can do.” What do you think?

 

Darci Knowles
Owner & Creative Director
darcicreative.com

How To Avoid A Summer Marketing Slump

It’s vacation season! For some small businesses that means you’re about to hit your busy season, while others may be headed for a summer slow-down. If that sounds like you, we’re here to offer up some tips to avoid a summer marketing slump. Take advantage of this time to set yourself up for real success later in the year when you’re busy again.

The worst thing you can do is to do nothing at all. While business may be quiet, it’s still super important that you continue to stay top of mind to your audience. Remember, consistency is key. Just because your audience is on vacation, it doesn’t mean that your business should go on vacation too. Use these strategies below and you’re sure to beat the summer downtrend!

#1 Keep In Touch: Social Media is a fantastic tool when it comes to keeping in touch with your audience in the off-season. And trust us when we tell you that your customers are still perusing social media, even on vacation. Utilize fun strategies to stay in front of your followers. Create a contest, or a poll on Facebook and/or Instagram. Share relevant content, fun facts, special promotions and tips and tricks related to your products or services are always a good idea. Help promote local events and happenings that you think your followers may be interested in. For example, if you’re a ski shop, help promote events and happenings at local ski resorts in the off-season. Community over competition is always a win.

#2 Write Something Relevant: Whether you choose to write a blog or share your thoughts in an email newsletter, by all means, please be sure to write about something useful and relevant. The idea here is to provide some value. Don’t write something fluffy just so you can say you did it. Think about what your clients need and want from you. Now is the time to consider your customer needs and share how you provide the solution. Spend these slower months building their trust in you by responding to their needs. For example, back to our friends at the ski shop, if during the busy season your ski customers continue to ask if they really need to get their skis tuned every year, respond in the off-season with an information packed blog or email about the benefits of tuning. Then offer a discount for them to come in and get it done early.

#3 Ask For Reviews: Customer reviews and testimonials are the golden ticket. Think about how often you ask a friend for a referral, whether you’re looking for someone to help with your landscape, a new dentist or a great place to eat on the seacoast, to name just a few. We start with our friends and neighbors and then most likely follow it up with an online search. A business with lots of 5-star reviews and great testimonials will surely get more business than those who don’t. So, use your off-season to gather and post reviews and testimonials.

#4 Get Creative: Now is the time to think outside the box and maybe even try something new! Is there a target audience you’ve been trying to tap into? A small niche that will open up some doors for you. Create a campaign just for them. Offer some great sales promotions that get people to engage with you.

#5 Plan For The Future: You know that busier times are ahead, so why not spend these lazy days of summer planning, writing and scheduling your marketing content for the next half of the year. Create your content calendar so you know how to plan for what’s ahead. Go ahead and create and schedule those posts, blogs and email blasts while you have a clear head and sound mind to do it! You will be so happy that you did once busy season hits.

We all love to enjoy the dog days of summer. Just remember a little planning goes a long way.

 

Pam Oulundsen
DARCI Creative
Project Manager & Data Analyst