Tag Archives: social media

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Can You Be Too Social With Social Media?

Plucked from a recent headline on a national news website: “Rich kids are oversharing on social media – are yours?” The story went on to detail true life examples of wealthy youth using social media to boast about luxury private jet travel, $100,000 bar tabs and the use of #ferrari, #mansion and #hamptons Twitter hash-tags. These cases surely got due attention from their parents, but they also clearly illustrate how high-net-worth individuals and their families are in the crosshairs of a new generation of risks created by social media that can quickly harm a family’s reputation.

Equally as confounding are the security issues social media participation presents. With GPS locators on cell phones and sites like Foursquare, social media immediately lets the world – and the underworld – know the whereabouts of these youth 24/7/365.

A few years back, web security meant passwords, firewalls and anti-virus software. Today, a secure Internet presence is defined by an individual’s ability to influence what the web says about them and their family. For instance, if you are wealthy, do you want others – business partners, friends, employees etc. – to know that your children are flying on private jets and racking up $100,000 bar bills?

Indeed, wealthy individuals and their families face online reputation challenges because they are high profile, easy targets. And in many ways, they often have the most to lose since they are tasked with protecting what is often a hard-fought family legacy.

Historically, and certainly today, the wealthy have always been the subject of wanted (and unwanted) media attention, but with social media the stakes are much higher in that anyone can play the part of publisher. This includes unknowing youth who might, even mistakenly, miss-use that power to broadcast their actions and whereabouts. In addition, media coverage used to come and go quickly and would only live-on in archives or dated press clippings. Not so today as web content, including social media, is readily accessible and easy to revive and proliferate on an ongoing basis.

Wealthy families need to manage these risks and establish clear boundaries with their children and, to an extent, their children’s friends. Unless they manage these risks, they will leave themselves vulnerable to damaging effects on their family, friendships, business associates and on their own personal lives as well.

The building blocks of online reputation management include:

  • Ongoing risk evaluation and education
  • Targeted campaigns to remedy problems as they arise
  • The creation of family contracts on privacy management
  • A pre-defined crisis response plan that can guide a family when a true crisis hits

The task of managing online reputation for high profile individuals can be daunting, but worthwhile. Management of a family’s cyber presence is the foundation upon which the family’s legacy may rest for generations.

Online reputation risk must be managed proactively, not reactively, as it is nearly impossible to put the proverbial “cat back into the bag.” Once the damage has been done, it’s done. To be sure, it’s a lesson that families of some jet-setting youth recently learned in spades.

 

Patricia M. Soldano is chair of GenSpring Family Office’s western region which includes Phoenix. To learn more, visit www.genspring.com.

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10 tips to succeed at social media

Every business knows about social media, many businesses have some sort of social media presence, but very few have implemented a comprehensive and successful social media strategy that maximizes benefits and mitigates risks.  Why is this? The answer is simple: The Three “C’s”.

Steve Nicholls, author of the best-selling book “Social Media in Business” (www.SocialMediaInBusiness.com), explains that most businesses take an approach to social media that is often too narrow.  They are far too worried about Content and not focused enough on Context and Conditions.

They view social media solely based on Facebook or Twitter Content which they believe is just a marketing, PR and website function.  But to be truly successful, social media needs to be implemented at the senior level and trickle down into the DNA of the entire organization as a core competence.

Senior leaders must understand the Context of the environment in which social media operates.  This means understanding their industry, their competition and their internal environment.  Then they must be responsible for creating the Conditions necessary for its successful implementation in their organization.

Of course, Facebook and Twitter will be an integral part of any good strategy but in today’s business community there must be a more holistic approach to answer the tough questions executives are faced with, such as:

How does this help achieve my business goals? What are the benefits and how do I manage the risks?  How do I write a social company-wide media policy, enforce it and update it? How do I get everybody on the same page?

Nicholls offers the following ten tips to help business leaders understand The Three C’s and succeed in social media:

1. Get with the Program: Social media is here to stay.  Think of how far it has come in the last five years and then imagine where it will be in the next five.  Embrace it or be left behind.

2. Be the architect, be the Leader: As the CEO or leader you need to create a vision of what social media looks like for your entire organization – just like an architect has a model of the building that he is going to construct.  Really support social media at the senior level not just the people that look after your web site.

3. Understand the Culture and Mindset: Defense contractors, for instance, will have more of a closed culture because of the nature of their business as compared to a company with a Silicon Valley feel to it.   Opening a company’s culture is perhaps the greatest challenge a CEO faces. Banning social media is not a solution any longer, even autocratic political regimes have failed to do so, but using it within a conducive yet regulated cultural framework is the ideal response to the Internet revolution.

4. Create a Common Language: This is crucial so that everyone company-wide knows their part and what they are trying to achieve. Create a common language so that everyone can participate in the discussion, not a just a few experts who know the jargon.

5. Achieve your business goals: Create social media goals in the context of how they will achieve the business goals. The organizational goal could be to increase the repeat customer percentage in order to increase revenue by X %. Another goal could be to have a more effective customer relationship management strategy. You need to develop the social media strategy to support your goals.

6. Understand ALL the Benefits: Most view social media as a way to interact directly with customers.  In addition to that function, there are other business opportunities that can benefit your company both internally and externally through communication, collaboration, collective intelligence and community opportunities.

7. Avoid the Dangers of the Dark Side: Social media can open a company up to danger and risk including security issues, PR issues and HR issues.  While these risks are very real, it is essential not to let them inhibit progress.  Social media is too important in global culture.  The key is to develop a sound social media policy that identifies the risks and mitigates them.

8. Craft a Strong Social Media Policy: Work with legal and social media experts to develop a safe and effective social media policy that makes clear what is and is not acceptable. This will protect the organization and the employees while maximizing benefits and mitigating risks.  Just because a policy is written does not mean it will be followed.  Many “unwritten” rules will take shape and the company needs to be vigilant and continuously reshape policy to match what is happening “on the ground”.

9. Have a step-by-step formula: A winning social media strategy will be one that is adaptable, implemented step-by-step and is an ongoing model within the context of the organization that sets the right conditions for successful implementation.

10. Time: Rome was not built in a day and the same goes with social media.  Time is the most significant cost. Implementing a social media project hastily may bring more problems than benefits, which is why CEOs need to weight the time factor properly and make sure the project is carefully studied before and during its application.

LightRailQuestion

C-K Unveils Branding Campaign For Arizona Science Center

Have you ever wondered how one car can tie up traffic for miles or what causes that one wobbly wheel on a shopping cart? Arizona Science Center has the answers as it launches its new branding campaign – Never stop wondering.

Created pro-bono by Cramer-Krasselt, Never stop wondering is designed to ignite interest in science and stimulate the innate curiosity within people of all ages well beyond the confines of a classroom or museum by posing fun, thought-provoking questions about everyday things, places and scenarios. The campaign’s innovation is that the messages are incorporated into the medium in which they are presented. Appearing in unexpected places, including building rooftops, sidewalks and bathroom stalls, the questions will prompt people to find out more about the world around them.

The campaign launched on August 6 throughout the Valley, including display boards at shopping centers, on grocery carts at supermarkets and even Phoenix headquarters of major companies, many of which have volunteered their own space to help further the reach of the campaign. To date, sponsors include the Arizona Diamondbacks, APS and Desert Ridge Marketplace.

“Never stop wondering challenges Arizonans to be curious, ask questions and seek out answers about the workings of the world around them,” said Chevy Humphrey, president and CEO of Arizona Science Center. “The campaign brings to life our mission of inspiring, educating and entertaining people of all ages about science and reinforces our role as a vital resource for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.”

Most of the advertising will include a Quick Response (QR) code that will guide smartphone users to easy-to-understand video clips and text answers on Arizona Science Center’s website. Questions include everyday head-scratchers such as “Why do scary movies give you goose bumps?”, “How does the light rail stays on its tracks?” and “Why does your stomach growl when you’re hungry?”

“We are surrounded by technology and natural phenomena, yet many of us may not understand how or why these things work or occur,” said Ian Barry, SVP/executive creative director, C-K Phoenix. “By posing questions we’ve all pondered, we immediately engage with people and give them an approachable and fun way to experience science. Never stop wondering encourages people to reconsider the role of science in their lives and ultimately discover more at Arizona Science Center.”

“We are immensely grateful for the many generous corporate sponsors that will help share this inspirational message,” said Humphrey. “Ultimately, Arizona Science Center hopes to inspire a new generation to become leaders and innovators in science and technology.”

In addition to traditional and guerilla advertising, Arizona Science Center will host an ongoing series of experiments where Arizonans of all ages will have the chance to summon up their inner scientist and have a hand in seeing science first-hand. Details about the inaugural large-scale experiment will be announced later this month.

us airways center

US Airways Center Relaunches Website

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, US Airways Center has relaunched its official website (USAirwaysCenter.com) and is hosting a sweepstakes to give away 20 prizes to visitors of the site.

Between now and July 14, visitors to USAirwaysCenter.com may enter to win ringside seats to WWE’s “Money in the Bank” on July 15, or tickets to see The Fray and Kelly Clarkson on Aug. 1, Jason Mraz on Oct. 2, or Disney’s Phineas & Ferb LIVE in October. Additional prizes include tickets to the Phoenix Suns’ 2012 home opener, as well as autographed memorabilia from Suns players such as Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye, and Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi.

“We decided to break the mold of the traditional venue website,” explained general manager of Sports and Entertainment Services, Ralph Marchetta. “It’s not just about tickets anymore. We want this to become a destination site for sports, music and entertainment fans.”

The new-look website includes information on all the upcoming events at US Airways Center, which first opened its doors on June 6, 1992, but also features a visitor’s guide of downtown Phoenix and unique editorial content. Online guests will enjoy exclusive behind-the-scenes videos, photo galleries from events throughout the year, desktop wallpaper from past shows, insider blogs, social media updates and interviews with select performers.

Visit the US Airways Center website at USAirwaysCenter.com. It is also accessible via mobile smart phones and tablets.

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Suns Launching New Smartphone Mobile App

Just in time for the 2012 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns have joined with Verizon Wireless to launch their first-ever smartphone mobile app, available for Android, iOS and BlackBerry operating systems. Fans that download the free smartphone mobile app before 9 p.m. on draft night, June 28, 2012, can enter to win a personal phone call from the player the Suns select in the first round.

Fans can download the smartphone mobile app by visiting Suns.com/app on their compatible smartphone’s mobile browser, or by searching for “Phoenix Suns” in iTunes, Google Play or BlackBerry App World. The app is also accessible by scanning the attached (or below) QR Code with their smart phone’s reader.

The official smartphone mobile app features the latest Suns news, blog posts, photos and on-demand video, from the producers of Suns.com. Verizon Wireless customers with Android or BlackBerry operating system smartphones will have access to additional exclusive video content using the app.

Social media users can get the latest Suns Facebook updates, Instagram photos and aggregated tweets from the team’s front office and players, and send tweets and post comments from within the app, as well as “check-in” via Foursquare or Facebook Places while attending games.

The official Suns app will be a must-have for fans on game nights, whether at US Airways Center, at home in front of their TV, or for those out-and-about looking to keep tabs on all of the action. With real-time scoring, box scores, play-by-play and shot charts, the Suns’ app is loaded with live statistics. Fans within Arizona will also be able to listen to the Suns’ radio broadcasts, featuring Al McCoy and Tim Kempton.

Fans attending games, concerts or events at US Airways Center can quickly find the nearest restroom, concession stand or team shop via the app’s map functionality.

“We are always exploring new ways to connect with fans,” said Jeramie McPeek, Suns Vice President of Digital. “Working hand-in-hand with Verizon Wireless and our developer, YinzCam, we believe we have built an app that will enhance the experience of being a Phoenix Suns fan.”

The Suns plan to introduce a tablet version of the app during the 2012-13 season for both Android and iOS platforms, as well as new game elements, contests, special offers and video replays for fans in-arena. The Suns were the first NBA franchise to fully integrate wireless tablet technology into both their business and basketball operations in February of this year.

For more information on the Sun’s smartphone mobile app, visit the Sun’s website at www.nba.com/suns/fans/mobile_app.

Pinterest Copyright Issues

Pinterest For Business: Avoiding Copyright Issues

Pinterest copyright issues can prove problematic for business proprietors.


Since its inception in 2010, social networking website Pinterest has become the third most-popular social network in the U.S. Only social-media giants Facebook and Twitter surpass it in total monthly visits, according to Experian Hitwise.

With more than 100 million visits each month, Pinterest has created a massive opportunity for businesses to get their names and products in the public eye. From mega-retailers like The Gap and Nordstrom, to fast-food chains, local frozen yogurt shops and individual Etsy storefronts, countless companies are making use of the site’s potential for driving traffic to their own websites.

While the benefits of this kind of visibility can be invaluable, the very nature of how Pinterest is generally used can be problematic and could expose businesses to a litany of legal issues.

“The vast majority of images [posted to Pinterest] are copyrighted,” says Stephanie Fierro, an attorney with The Frutkin Law Firm, PLC, in Phoenix.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, certain “Safe Harbor” provisions protect online service providers, such as Pinterest, from copyright infringement liability on material posted by the service’s users. The users themselves, however, are not protected.

According to Fierro, individual users are often protected by fair use copyright exceptions, but this generally doesn’t extend to moneymaking enterprises.

“ ‘Fair use’ allows for the use of copyrighted material for commentary, criticism or news reporting purposes,” Fierro says. The problem, she adds, is because companies are using Pinterest to market commercial products (i.e make money), the fair use exceptions do not apply.

“Imagine you’re a cake decorator,” Fierro says. “You post a picture of one of your cakes next to someone else’s picture of a beautiful wedding scene to say, ‘Look how great this cake would look in your wedding.’ This could leave you exposed as a business owner.” If the owner of the rights to the image of the wedding scene decides he or she wants a piece of your cake-selling action, you may end up in hot water.

Fierro believes that businesses are doubly vulnerable, compared to individual users, because companies are seen as having deep pockets and assets worth going after.
With all this to consider, the question becomes whether it is worth a business owner’s time and effort to market his or her products or services using Pinterest. Fierro believes the answer is clear: It depends.

“Are you OK with your images being used elsewhere? Is [marketing on Pinterest] going to drive good traffic to your website? Are you going to derive real financial benefit from this kind of marketing? In the case of the cake decorator, who makes money by selling cakes, the answer is probably ‘yes.’ If you want to make money from the use of your images by others, it probably isn’t for you,” she says.

If a business owner does decide that he or she wants to make use of Pinterest as a marketing tool, there are several precautions that can be taken to avoid any copyright or trademark violations.

“Ownership or permission is always best,” Fierro says. “Barring that, always make sure the material is properly credited. Link the photo back to where it came from. The goal is to always make sure proper credit is given to the original source.”

Fierro says you should never copy pictures you find on Pinterest for use on your own website. You don’t know where they’ve come from or to whom they belong. Just don’t do it.

As the website continues to grow, copyright issues on Pinterest may or may not grow along with it.

“All it would take is for one picture to be used in the wrong way,” Fierro says. “The issues with Pinterest have been talked about for a while. I’ve had to defend clients against similar claims of infringement, as well as made claims on clients’ behalves for infringement on their work. It’s necessary for people to make these types of claims so they don’t lose the rights [and the value of those rights] to their work.”

For more information about Pinterest’s copyright & trademark rules, visit pinterest.com/about/copyright.

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Eat, Drink and Be Social: Dining Apps

Dining out? Check your phone first (if you aren’t doing that already); here are some dining apps for you to consider.


With today’s plugged-in landscape and social media savvy society, websites, blogs and smartphone applications are quickly becoming the go-to source for daily tasks like hunting down recipes, shopping for restaurant deals and connecting with friends. From check-ins to secret menus and Twitter notifications about the next happy hour, social media is the inroad to “what’s good” at bars and restaurants.

At Sapporo, social media has allowed us to give diners a backstage pass to our food and how we make it as well as provide a tailored personal experience. Hungry for a certain dish? Don’t worry; Sapporo has you covered. By liking Sapporo on Facebook, users can ask questions and checkout the new and most popular menu items and what people are saying. Through Twitter, users can follow and find out about upcoming events and exclusive promotions.

Whether you’re looking for a fine-tuned menu, a trendy, foodie destination (like Sapporo) or just wanting a burger, below are some social media app suggestions that will have you eating, drinking and being social in no time.

Digital dining promotions

Remember the days of cutting coupons? Cut no more; with today’s social media landscape, getting the best deals on restaurants is literally at the click of a button. With daily deal sites like Groupon, Living Social and Doozy of a Deal, diners can pre-purchase coupons and print them off to use them at their leisure. But that’s not all, more and more restaurants are utilizing their own social networking pages like Foursquare and Facebook to offer exclusive deals and promotions to help drive traffic through the door and create customer loyalty.

There are dining apps for that

For those who may be hungry but too lazy to make a reservation or order food, there’s an app for that. Today’s social landscape makes it easy for diners to get rid of their hunger pains by the push of a button. At Sapporo, an app called Open Table allows diners to make reservations through Facebook. Other restaurants have also created their own mobile applications that allow customers to place food orders from the convenience of their smartphones and even pay for their purchases.

Table tweets

Dining with social media isn’t just about getting the best deals; many restaurant guests enjoy the connection social media allows them to have with the restaurant and its chef. Through Twitter, many restaurants, chefs or owners will actively engage in conversation with the customer base by posting events, recipes, up-to-date menus and photos. Some even take customer interaction one step further by coming out to greet those patrons tweeting from their table.

Mind your mobile manners

“No phone at the dinner table” is a phrase everyone has heard at one time or another. Since mobile technology has improved and diners are more social media savvy, it has become socially acceptable to multitask during meals. Today’s guests are eager to check-in, snap photos or tweet about where they are and what they’re doing. Not sure what to order? Foodspotting and Forkly, apps that can be downloaded to a mobile device, allows diners to snap photos and share dishes so customers make better-informed purchasing decisions.

Dine and dish

After a dining experience, there is nothing more guests like to do than dish about what they ate and how amazing, or not amazing, it was. Several social networking sites have created a space where patrons can share their tips, reviews and rate restaurants. Urbanspoon is an app that allows customers to view ratings for the specific type of food or restaurant they are looking for. Yelp is another app that allows users to search for the restaurants closest to them and read reviews before choosing a specific restaurant.

In the past, dining out may have involved navigating an unfamiliar neighborhood aimlessly searching for a restaurant, unsure of what to expect on the menu ― but not anymore. Look no further than your smartphone, where restaurants like Sapporo are engaging in the social space and guests can stay in the loop and experience a new type of dining experience.

For more information, menus, hours and location of Sapporo, visit SapporoScottsdale.com  or call (480) 607-1114.

social media tweet bird

Social Media: Turning Tweets Into Tourists

Used correctly, social media can pay off for the hospitality industry

Over the holidays, the JW Marriott Desert Ridge built a giant village out of 800 pounds of gingerbread and 250 pounds of chocolate to display in its lobby. For four weeks, the cookie town was posted on the JW Facebook page and fans were invited to guess how many gumdrops, pounds of dough, poinsettias and twinkling lights were decorating the resort. Winners received a weekend stay.

Did the campaign succeed?
Definitely, according to Jennifer Whittle, account supervisor with the Lavidge Co., which represents the resort. The goal was to increase fans on Facebook, a figure that doubled in a month. “Additional objectives were to drive traffic to the resort’s website and property,” she said, “and to position the resort as a fun place to visit.”

But still, just as with traditional advertising, marketing or public relations, it can be tough to measure how social media translates into revenue in the tourism industry.

Measuring whether this new medium is working depends on what a business wants to achieve, said Rebecca Seymann, Lavidge director of interactive campaigns. Some businesses believe that the more people who “see” them on Facebook or on a blog or in an app, the more awareness of their brand will grow, thus driving up sales.

But businesses do try to compute results. “Many hospitality businesses use social media, email, their websites and aggregators to promote special offers and then measure direct sales using a variety of tracking tools,” Seymann notes. And many use social media to respond to customer complaints as well.

One attraction of social media is that the cost of use seems minimal. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are all free. Writing the copy and getting the photos or videos for social media do cost something; as does monitoring the site. A cottage industry has grown to help businesses interpret the data from social media; but some measuring systems are still free.

“Facebook has metrics built in that don’t cost anything,” says Christine Carlson, advertising manager at Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel, which flies out of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. “And we also use Google Analytics, which is free as well.”

So Allegiant can find out how many Web users click on its Facebook page and repost the page to other fans; how many viewers like the company’s site; even how many viewers switch from Facebook to the Allegiant Web site to book a trip. But if a Facebook user looks at the company’s website, signs off and then comes back four days later to book a trip, Allegiant can’t easily track that. In its brief time using social media, Allegiant has attracted more than 50,000 fans on Facebook.

social media icons

For some hospitality businesses, such as W Scottsdale, the main objective of a social media campaign is to “engage in conversation with our fans,” according to Joe Iturri, director of sales and marketing. The hotel uses Facebook and Twitter particularly to promote W happenings to fans first. The events often involve fashion design and music. “W often gives fans insider access, like sending information to them first about our big New Year’s Eve event,” he says.

But W’s use of social media can be even more up-close and personal in pursuing contact with potential customers. When fans post messages saying they will visit the hotel soon, W’s social media rep tries to chat online with them about their likes and dislikes. “We’ll ask what wines they like, for example, and when they arrive, we have a bottle of a great wine in their room. Or we’ll find out whether they like foam or feather pillows,” Iturri says. Facebook and Twitter get top billing. Other channels used: YouTube, FourSquare, Yelp.

When favorable posts come in about a past visit, W responds, too. Or if there is a negative review on TripAdvisor, “we contact the poster and try to resolve the problem to the best of our ability,” Iturri says.

In 2009, the hotel hired a full-time social media person to answer postings around the clock, Iturri says. That employee checks Twitter, Facebook and other channels several times — both night and day — on a laptop and responds to questions and postings both favorable and unfavorable. The first person to hold the job was so successful that she was transferred to the W Hotel headquarters to start national programs.

That all might work for a national or international company, but what about the little guy — the independently owned restaurant or boutique or small resort?

For smaller businesses, social media can pay off, too, says Josh Kenzer, online marketing manager for the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. The big issue for a smaller business, though, might be the labor costs in maintaining an up-to-date Facebook page, for example, adding pictures and news regularly.

“A business owner needs to be honest about the time he can devote to it,” Kenzer says. “Here at the bureau, someone has to spend about 30 minutes to an hour a day adding new content. You also don’t want someone to post a message on your page that says, ‘I’m here this weekend and what can you do for me?’ and then you don’t reply to them.”

Social media is also not a silver bullet. “Like website management, pay-per-click, SEO and banner campaigns — and like print, radio, public relations — social media should become a regular recurring marketing activity and a budget line item that incorporates key marketing messages to target audiences,” says Seymann of the Lavidge Co.

Arizona Business Magazine March/April 2012

Fitness Apps

Fitness Apps: A Rewarding Way To Achieve Your Goals

Yes, “there’s an app for that.” Some provide the most important element – FUN! They can be rewarding, literally rewarding. I’m talking about real cash and prizes. Whether you’re just getting started or feel the need to accomplish more, a great software application can give you an edge to achieve your fitness goals. Many integrate social networking, which adds encouragement, competition and the chance to make new friends. Cost and convenience are primary reasons for the growing popularity of exercise and fitness apps.

They’re significantly cheaper than gym memberships and personal trainers, and these fitness apps perfectly fit your schedule and demands because you’re in full control. So take control and wield it as any skilled craftsman would a prize tool.

Use caution

I reviewed a few below, but there are some things to remember. The fitness app doesn’t do the work for you. In our modern society, we need to add it to the list — no perfect exercise, no miracle pill, no magic diet, no special app. Living life takes effort, and you must take ownership of your actions, or lack thereof. Many provide detailed instructions with adequate audio and visual aids, but this is not a substitute for a trained and experienced teacher. There is the potential for injury and be certain you are medically approved to attempt the program. Take the time to learn, listen to your body, and solicit qualified advice if you’re unsure.

Fitness apps:

Nexercise – iOS, FREE; $2.99 upgrade

This Facebook of fitness apps can track more than 90 activities. Key features include chat and comments with friends and the ability to earn points and medals for accomplishments. These can then be redeemed for real prizes or discounts on various goods and services. GPS tracking verifies location and routes to keep everyone honest. This fitness app is for tracking purposes only; it is not for exercise instruction or planning workout routines.

MapMyRun – iOS/Android/Blackberry, FREE; $2.99 upgrade

This app has all the great tracking information a running app should have with voice prompts to keep you updated on your progress while you’re exercising. It integrates social networking, including photo and story sharing for added motivation and the ability to search for local events for added competition. Join sponsored challenges to win prizes. This app is great if you love to run, but it doesn’t have options to mix in other types of fitness.

GymPact – iOS, FREE

This one is simple and straight forward. Set an activity goal, such as number of gym sessions completed in the next 30 days. Complete it, and receive a small cash reward, but fail, and you pay. GPS allows you to locate a nearby gym, check in, and log time spent exercising. This app is for tracking purposes only. It is not for exercise instruction or planning workout routines, and the only social interaction is to share your routine.

Nike+ – iOS, FREE; $1.99 upgrade

One of the original and continually evolving fitness apps, it can be enhanced with the purchase of additional technology, such as a sensor wristband. They have since expanded into general fitness with workout routines and exercise instruction. Nike has also partnered with Kiip to offer rewards for completing achievements. There is some variety with Nike, but not an all-in-one app to satisfy your demands.

Zombies, RUN! – iOS/Android, $7.99

Turn running into an actual game. Complete missions and story lines, or just run for your life while listening to voice prompts and your own playlist. You can use it anywhere, even on a treadmill. It lacks performance tracking and social networking, but the developer is promising upgrades soon.

FitnessBuilder – iOS/Android, FREE; $9.99 upgrade

This is the king of fitness apps with 750+ workouts and 5,600+ exercise photos and videos. It also includes a virtual personal trainer, performance and body composition tracking, as well as the ability to customize your own routine. There are event options for professionals to track group or individual client performance. You can share workouts and ask questions, but it would be nice to have more social networking capabilities.

You Are Your Own Gym – iOS/Android, $1.99

Based on the book by Mark Lauren, this fitness app teaches you to use your own body to exercise anywhere. In includes customizable timers and lots of instructional photos. Developers are promising videos and the ability to ask questions to a trainer, maybe even a little social networking because it always more fun with friends.

Public Relations

Understanding The Why And How Of Public Relations

Marketing and promotions focuses on selling the products and services a company provides. In most cases, for marketing to succeed, companies need to find ways to stand out from the crowd — which may explain the $1 million-plus spent on 30- and 60-second Super Bowl commercials showcasing some of the most outrageous and creative work in advertising. The real value, though, comes from the after-buzz in the media and hits on YouTube. In other words, it comes from the publicity generated. While a majority of business owners cannot afford to run an ad during the Super Bowl, they can afford public relations to promote the company’s attributes.

Public relations can be utilized to strengthen a company’s image and develop public perception showing how the company is credible, active and innovative. It can help differentiate a company from its competitors and highlight its benefits. Public relations can also be an economical way to reach a target market to stimulate awareness of and demand for a company’s products or services.

But how does it work? Many start-ups and small businesses start with Facebook and Twitter, but this alone is not likely to do the trick. Building buzz, attracting followers on social media sites and new customers through your doors can be done with ongoing coverage in the media in the form of news articles and interviews. Then, when a company receives press coverage, they can utilize social media platforms they have in place to expand that coverage and to reach an even larger audience. Think of how many media outlets discussed Super Bowl ads in the following days and how many companies posted their Super Bowl ads or articles about their Super Bowl ads to their Facebook and Twitter pages. In addition to reaching a larger audience, social media can leverage publicity to help drive traffic to a company’s website by increasing its search engine visibility and organic results.

Securing media coverage starts with a well written press release or story pitch. Although simple in theory, getting the attention of the media can be challenging as they are inundated daily with emails and phone calls from many people pitching various story ideas. To help both the media and the public take notice of you and your business, consider the following:

  • Think about what your business has or does that may be newsworthy. Have you hit a new milestone? Are you introducing a new product or service? Are you hiring someone new to head up one of your departments, or are you doing something significant in the community? The media won’t publicize information if it is too promotional — that’s what ads are for.
  • Make yourself (or someone on your team) available to the media as an expert source. The media is always looking for business experts to comment on topics they are writing about. Letting writers and editors know who you are, what you do and how your knowledge and expertise may provide credibility to an article they are writing can be an effective tool for getting press.
  • If you haven’t done so already, consider adding a blog to your website and keeping it current by posting to it at least two to four times a month. A blog provides a platform for educating your target market about your industry, services, products and other related information that the public may want to know. Integrating your blog with social media can increase your exposure, support SEO and help expand your reach. It also helps establish your company as an expert in the industry and tell your company’s story.
  • Become a guest writer or radio guest. If your industry has a trade publication or radio show, find out if you can be a regular contributor.

In order to successfully launch a public relations campaign of any magnitude, it requires dedication from the company and expertise from someone within the organization or an outside consultant to lead and facilitate. In essence, a business owner or company leader needs should expect to be involved in the public relations process, but much of the writing and legwork can be done by a public relations specialist. Although a business owner can take on these responsibilities, it is usually more effective to hire a professional to advise and execute.

Juliet Straker is president of marketingworx, a Phoenix-based public relations and marketing communications firm founded in 2002. For more information on marketingworx and its services, visit www.marketingworxpr.com.

 

Facebook's IPO

Is Facebook’s IPO A Chance To Get Rich Quick For Valley Residents?

With the announcement of Facebook’s IPO, many want to get to get their hands on the stock in hopes of a chance to “get quick rich.”

The eight-year-old company Facebook filed to go public by May and raise $5 billion in what could be the largest-internet IPO. Facebook reported $3.7 billion in revenue and $1 billion in profit last year alone, doubling the $1.97 billion in revenue it registered in 2010.

Facebook now boasts 845 million members since CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg started the social media giant. With the proposed stock filing, Zuckerberg will have 28.4 percent of Facebook’s shares making his personal worth a staggering $24 billion.

According to Valley macroeconomic expert and CEO of Online Trading Academy in Phoenix, Ken Beckrich, the answer of if local Valley residents should invest is definitely “no.” Unless you want to get crushed by big bankers with deep pockets, Beckrich warns the average individual from investing his/her life savings in Facebook’s stock.

The major investor in Facebook, Morgan Stanley, will only provide their best clients shares of the stock in order to create a supply and demand. This will then leave very little accessible and affordable shares for the everyday trader.

As many look for investments to “get rich quick,” Beckrich advises for less risky investments that don’t include powerhouse names or whatever the latest fad is. Rather, educate yourself on an investment that will have the highest return on investment rate.

For more information about Beckrich or the Online Trading Academy, visit tradingacademy.com.

Small Businesses

How Small Businesses Are (Mis)Using Social Media

It’s no mystery that social media has become an important tool in marketing for small businesses. In fact, building brand awareness on Facebook has become the most popular, with nine million small businesses utilizing the platform today. However, many of these businesses aren’t taking full advantage of its potential.

This infographic, from Intuit, illustrates how small businesses can better leverage their social media efforts to create new opportunities and reach more customers.


Does your company use Facebook to its full potential?

How small businesses use social media - infographic
via: Intuit Websites


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Infographic Credits, courtesy of Intuit:

Source: Intuit
Designed by: Column Five Media

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Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing For Startups

Social media is a continuous topic of curiosity for small and large businesses alike. For startups, social media can help get the initial word out, create a buzz around a new product or service, and reach a diverse demographic. This infographic, by Udemy, examines how startups can leverage social media efforts as a tool to grow business.

Just starting out? How have you used social media to leverage your startup, and what results have you seen so far?

social media marketing infographic
Source: Udemy Blog

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Infographic Credits, courtesy of Udemy:

Source: Udemy
Designed by: Column Five Media

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social media marketing

Moving Forward: Social Media Marketing In 2012

Moving forward: Thoughts on social media marketing in 2012

With the holidays upon us, the realities of the year’s end have set in. It’s time to begin clearing out inboxes, archiving 2011 files and preparing for 2012. It’s time for reflection and anticipation.

When it comes to social media marketing in 2012, the first step is looking back at what worked during the past 12 months and then, based on those results and the business goals for 2012, developing a plan for the upcoming year. For many companies, 2011 was the year for implementing social media.

Those still questioning the point of social media, should consider the facts provided by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn:

  • Facebook has more than 800 million active users.
  • Fifty percent of Facebook’s active users log on in any given day.
  • The average Facebook user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events.
  • More than 350 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices.
  • Twitter currently has about 110 million users.
  • On Twitter, there are more than 600 million searches done every single day.
  • Twitter is accessed by more than 30 percent of users via their mobile phone.
  • Twitter is now serving a quarter billion tweets each day — more than one million tweets every six minutes.
  • LinkedIn’s members have reached 119 million, although this figure is an approximation provided by LinkedIn.
  • The standard user of LinkedIn is male (58.5 percent) and between the ages of 25 and 54 (70 percent).

Why followers and fans matter

With a majority of the population now visiting social media sites like Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, creating a brand presence on these sites is becoming an essential part of doing business. Customers will turn to social media to learn more about products and services in real time.

Unlike any other marketing tool, social media allows companies to speak to customers in a more personal way, as if they are talking to a friend not a company, which helps build trust and rapport. It also assists in building online visibility to drive traffic to your website and ultimately through your doors, much like a word-of-mouth referral.

Social media can also help leverage public relations efforts by pushing press coverage out to a larger audience and pulling media people in, enticing them to learn more about your company and its brand.

Social media marketing in 2012: How to improve your pages

If your company already has established Facebook and Twitter pages, it is important to examine the content you are posting to make sure that you are providing value. For example, if you have a retail store or restaurant, post photos of products or dishes and utilize social media to let your customers know the specials of the day.

If you have a company that provides a service to other businesses, post helpful tips and educational articles related to your field. Remember, social media engagement is not one-sided.

As well as posting content, it is important to reach out and follow others and “Like” business-related Facebook pages. Then, they in turn may follow or like your page and interact by commenting on your posts. The other crucial factor in integrating social media into marketing is frequency and consistency.

Strategic planning and implementation

While it sounds simple in concept, before launching a social media campaign, companies need to remember, these pages are a voice for the company and represent the brand, it is not something that should be taken lightly. You should establish internal guidelines and a strategic plan specifying how your organization is going to manage the social media sites.

Figure out who is going to be responsible for the actual posting and what kind of information you want to share. In some cases, an in-house marketing or communications person is best. If there is no one in-house equipped to handle things, enlisting a public relations firm to manage an integrated public relations and social media campaign is the best approach. A public relations firm will know how to create online messaging and content that speaks to the public.

Mix it up

With the push to build a presence in social media clearly on the rise, it is tough to know where to focus your marketing efforts. The key to any marketing plan is developing a strong consistent message that reaches your target audience — social media is one tool to help make that happen.

Marketing plans must still incorporate a mix of more traditional sales and advertising efforts like targeted print, radio and online ads, along with public relations outreach to increase visibility and generate sales. While social media will continue to evolve and remain a powerful tool, an integrated campaign is optimal for any successful business.

For more information about social media marketing for your business in 2012 and how to implement a marketing plan, visit marketingworxpr.com.

Penn State Scandal: How to Handle Media When Crisis Hits

Learning From The Penn State Scandal: Handling The Media In A Crisis

In the age of Facebook, managing media relations is more important than ever, especially when media attention results from something or someone gone wrong — for example, the Penn State scandal. With news released in a matter of seconds thanks to social media and online news alerts, individuals and companies must respond quickly.

When the news broke about Penn State, in an instant we saw news reporters swarm the  campus, and journalists camped outside of coach Joe Paterno’s home. As the nation sat on the sidelines watching the story unfold, almost every news station and newspaper across the country had it covered. The University’s failure to respond with a statement, even days after the grand jury indictment of Jerry Sandusky, left social media buzzing and news reporters to speculate about what Penn State officials and, more specifically, coach Paterno knew and did.

The story is horrific and has impacted the lives and careers of many, which may not have been salvageable, given their failure to speak up in 2002. Yet there is still much we can learn from the errors of Penn State and coach Paterno when it comes to dealing with the press and damage control.

1.    Be upfront
When crisis strikes, don’t hide or engage in finger pointing. Assign a public face to address the problem at hand, specifically the CEO, company president or another top executive spokesperson. Have them meet with key targeted media outlets to explain the issues and what management plans to do about it. Follow through and provide updates with promises to rebuild credibility and deliver them.

2.    Say it straight
Keep your internal and external communications simple, direct and frequent so that everyone is kept informed of your progress. Let the public know your side of the story; be positive and proactive.

3.    Involve the team
In a crisis, situation control is essential, but keeping discussions behind closed doors can be more damaging. Keep employees in the loop, alerting them to what is going on, and how they need to communicate to customers and the public. Getting past the damage takes a team effort.

4.    Get your message out quickly
Utilize your website, blog and social media handles to help spread the word. In addition to sending out a news release statement, take to online to control the message and clarify misinformation. This also helps push out new content on Google, burying old news.

5.    Monitor and respond
Keep tabs on what others are posting and saying online. Follow up with editors, journalists and bloggers; make your spokesperson available, answer questions, and clear up the misconceptions.

6.    Turn a negative into a positive
If someone in the organization made a mistake, admit the wrong doing and make it right. If the company is incorrectly accused of a wrong doing, educate the public and lead by example.

When a crisis hits, the damage from negative publicity can be felt for quite some time. By taking a proactive approach and putting together a communication plan that allows you to tell the story, the situation can often be rectified. In the case of Penn State, only time will tell.

 

ShopTab, Coca Cola's Facebook Store

ShopTab Offers Retail Innovation

Social networking has become the ultimate platform for business development. In order to excel in growth, companies turn to these sites as outlets for promotion and customer feedback. ShopTab, a “Facebook Store” founded by Arizona residents Bret Giles and Jay Feitlinger, allows businesses to conveniently sell their products through the Facebook website.

With thousands of store owners in more than 50 countries, 40 currency options and an impressively low cost, customers use ShopTab as an answer to modern retail strategies.

“Whether you’re a person or a business, if you want to have a transaction, we provide a commerce engine to do that,” says Kevin Gralen, president of ShopTab.

Gralen explains how the product is unique to typical social network investments, as it provides an ROI, or return on investment. ShopTab allows businesses to utilize social media to its fullest potential by providing an outlet for substantial revenue.

Gaining a 40 percent store increase since June 2011, ShopTab proves to be a successful resource for clients looking to expand. With the international growth of Facebook itself, ShopTab has expanded internationally as well.

Whereas a year ago, most of the business was U.S.-centric, this month probably 40 percent will be U.S. and 60 percent will be the rest of the world,” Gralen says.

Aside from the focus on international growth, partnering with other companies has contributed to the success of ShopTab.

“We have a partnership with a company called ProStores, which is owned by eBay,” Gralen says. “Their customers can click a couple of buttons and immediately start a Facebook Store.”

ShopTab receives the most traction through these business strategies. Two additional partners have been signed in the past few weeks, also contributing to the growth of international connections.

Because ShopTab is established through Facebook, Gralen notes the importance of maintaining the social media appeal through blog posts and Twitter. Video content creation is also coming into play, which will demonstrate marketing suggestions for clients. ShopTab is not only for selling, but promoting businesses socially.

Clients experience different results with ShopTab, and Gralen encourages businesses to test the social networking waters before fully committing.

“The ones that get the result are the ones that invest in building their fans and their social presence,” Gralen says.

If your company has yet to establish a fan base, social networking skills and relatively consistent sales, ShopTab might not be useful just yet.

“When they’re socially savvy, they love what we have,” Gralen says.

With that being said, some smaller companies have also excelled through the use of ShopTab. In fact, some case studies have been established to determine the most efficient ways of helping smaller clients.

The success and exponential growth of ShopTab serves as a model for other entrepreneurs interested in reaching their company goals. Gralen encourages others to thoroughly understand their business model before moving forward. Everything from the value of your products to the transaction value for your clients should be considered.

He also stresses the importance of an open mind when starting a business. Take into account customer feedback and suggestions. Much of the ShopTab application has changed due to valuable client input.

Entrepreneurs have great ideas, but customers usually give you the best feedback,” Gralen says.

Based on its own customer feedback, ShopTab will soon establish sales resources for real estate agents and property managers as well.

For more information about ShopTab, please visit www.shoptab.net.

 ShopTab, Barneys New York Facebook Store ShopTab, Coca Cola Facebook Store

 

AZ Virtual Studios

The Importance of Website Videos With AZ Virtual Studios

We’ve been thinking about videos a lot lately here at the AZNow.Biz office. We know adding them to your website is great for SEO, but we had many questions, including: What videos work on websites? Which should we stay away from? How many do we need to put on the website? And how often should we post them?

And then we stumbled up on this:

Uploading a short video onto your website can drastically increase your page ranking! We can assist you with the creation of a powerful social media video that pulls in more clients.

Found on AZ Virtual Studios‘s website, we contacted them right away and shortly after sat down with John Koop, COO of AZ Virtual Studios.

AZ Virtual Studios is a production company in the Phoenix area — boasting the largest green screen in the state — that can produce any type of video, including 3D animation, from start to finish. We asked them the video-related questions that were on our minds.

Koop discussed the clients they’ve created videos for in the past, including Boeing and Freeport-McMoRan, as well as the importance of adding video content to your website(s). He told us what kind of videos work; he touched on the viral videos they’ve worked on and more.

[stextbox id=”grey”]For more information about AZ Virtual Studios, visit www.azvirtualstudios.com.[/stextbox]

 

Twitter Political Campaigns

Twitter Political Campaign: Promoted Tweets And TwoSides

Twitter Political Campaign: Promoted Tweets And TwoSides

By Victoria Fortnum and Alexandra Huskey

Twitter & Political Campaigns

Twitter recently announced they were going to begin selling sponsored ads to candidates and political committees and their political campaign. Adam Bain, Twitter’s president of global revenue, released a statement explaining how the company believes this new idea will allow users to connect with the issues and candidates they care about.

The tweets will appear as Promoted Tweets, identified by a purple check mark. The Promoted Tweets will appear in the timeline of Twitter users who follow a certain campaign and under various search terms. Candidates and political committees will also have the option to pay to show up on search trends and as a suggested ‘Tweeter” for users to follow.

Twitter ran its first political ad on Wednesday, September 21st, from GOP presidential prospect Mitt Romney. Some political figures have already made their mark on the social networking site. Only time will tell how Twitter’s new ad campaign will affect the 2012 elections.

Comparing View Points for Politics

We have already heard how President Obama utilized Facebook for his political campaign in 2008 and still uses it to stay in contact with his followers, but a new site helps you compare the stand points of all candidates.

TwoSides is a site created to compare candidates view points in a more effective way than has been done in the past.  This site will cover not only simple issues but more button-pushing stances as well.

Not only does this website want to share the viewpoint of the candidates but also wants the views of the people viewing the site. TwoSides allows you to comment or, according to Jennifer Van Grove of Mashable, allow you to share your ideas of the subject and how you really feel about a political issue. If you agree or disagree with an idea, you may also voice your opinion and see the percentage of others that feel the same.

This site will be a great tool for the 2012 elections and allow people to learn more about issues that they may not have known prior.

 

 

SEO — A Quick Guide to Search Engine Optimization

SEO — A Quick Guide to Search Engine Optimization

This infographic illustrates several Search Engine Optimization components from keywords to link building to pay-per-click campaigns.

SEO ( Search Engine Optimization ) has become a major catchphrase in today’s Internet-driven market. But what exactly is SEO? And how does one build a successful campaign?

Study over this guide for some beginning tips:

A Visual Guide to Search Engine Optimization, courtesy of Visual.ly

via

 

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A Visual Guide to SEO, courtesy of Visual.ly:

Source: Visual.ly
Published by: BloggingPro
Designed by: Unknown

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Facebook Timeline

What Facebook Timeline Means For Job Seekers

An Intro to Facebook Timeline

It might be time to brush up on your Kierkegaard, because Facebook is about to become very existential. The new profile, called Facebook Timeline, is not concerned with what you are doing. It wants to know who you are. See the dramatic video below for a brief overview, or take a look at this article for a more detailed description of the changes.

 

 

As you can see, the most important parts of the profile will be static information, like where you went to school, where you work, what your interests are, and who you have been in a relationship with. The profile tells the world your history, or at least the history of your time on Facebook. These changes will have a big impact on the way people use Facebook, especially in a world where social networking is becoming a large part of the hiring process. So what do job seekers and employers need to know about this new Facebook Timeline?

Practical tips for job seekers:

Facebook Timeline essentially makes your profile an online resume.

So like a resume, try to emphasize your professional accomplishments and good qualities. Don’t just write where you worked, write about what you did while you worked there. Make sure your employment history is up to date.

Familiarize yourself with Facebook’s privacy settings.

The more control you have over your information, the better. Timeline will make it much easier to view a person’s entire Facebook history. Employers don’t need to see pictures of your 21st birthday or politically incorrect wall posts from your freshman year of college. Update your privacy settings so only close friends can see this type of information.

Go back through your history to find flattering posts and pictures to share publicly.

This information will help you present a consistent and positive story about yourself.

Pick a good cover photo.

The new profile has a spot for both a profile pic and large cover photo at the top of the page. This picture will represent you, so choose something that looks nice or shows off your creativity.

The new profile places more emphasis on your Likes.

So avoid liking things that might be considered distasteful or controversial.

Be aware of how you use third-party apps; some may publish a log of your activities.

For example, an app could show which music/movies you’re steaming or what articles you have read.

 

What employers need to know:

Don’t place too much emphasis on Facebook profiles during the hiring process.

There will be a wealth of information available on Facebook Timeline profiles, but not all of it will be accurate, verifiable or complete. You don’t want to make hiring decisions based on unreliable information.

Be aware of possible legal issues.

Companies that look up protected information like race, religion, or age run the risk of violating anti-discrimination and hiring laws. It might make sense to hire an outside firm for background searches; a third party can provide your company with information useful to the hiring process, but protect you from the data that you’re not supposed to see.

 

 

modernmedia-featuredimg

Modern Media And The Consumer

Who uses modern media to get their news? And specifically, what kind of media outlets do they prefer? This infographic, from Flowtown, explains how people find news using media sources, what kind of news they are getting, and where exactly they are getting their news on the Web.

Visual.ly Infographic

via

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Modern Media Consumer Infographic Credits, courtesy of Visual.ly:

Source: Visual.ly
Published by: Flowtown
Designed by: Unknown

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National Bank of Arizona Video Contest, YouTube

National Bank Of Arizona Holds Contest For Business To Win $10,000 Prize

The National Bank of Arizona is holding a contest for all Arizona businesses – with the winner taking home a cool $10,000.

The contest is titled “Arizona’s Next Great Business,” and any Arizona business can submit a video application to prove how it has made an impact on the Arizona community.

National Bank of Arizona

To enter, a business must upload a 90-second video to YouTube that explains how it has made a difference in Arizona – by creating civic pride, impacting the quality of life for Arizonans, redefining technology, or establishing energy efficiency.

The business must also explain how it plans on utilizing the grand prize.

“The biggest challenge of a business is to get the word out about them,” says Alycia Perry, vice president of National Bank of Arizona’s Internet and Interactive Channels.

Perry adds that other challenges include the need to redefine, reinvent and “how to keep innovating as you move forward.”

With the $10,000, a business will have the opportunity to make improvements – by purchasing supplies, establishing a budget for a new employee, or investing in new technology.

Perry says that the contest is a way for both National Bank of Arizona and Arizona businesses to put themselves into the social media world and public eye.

“Looking at what is going on with the economy, there’s been such negative press and a gloomy outlook,” she says. “We looked at this as an opportunity to promote businesses facing challenges.”

By having the contest entry be a video submission versus a written application, Perry says National Bank of Arizona believes that it is a better outlet for businesses to break into social media.

National Bank of Arizona’s social media campaign has grown immensely this year. Its goal is to raise awareness about the company by reaching out to customers and letting them know that National Bank of Arizona is a full-service bank.

The social media campaign has included sweepstakes, giveaways on Facebook and other contests that drive customers into a National Bank of Arizona branch to claim their prize.

Submissions for “Arizona’s Next Great Business” will be accepted through Oct. 30. More information on entering the contest can be found on National Bank of Arizona’s Facebook page.

Online viewers can vote for their favorite company’s video Nov. 2 – Nov. 16, with an official announcement of the winner on Nov. 23.

 

 

7 Marketing Tips & Strategies, Entourage Marketing

7 Marketing Tips To Help Grow Your Business

Michael Hunter at Entourage Marketing provides you with seven marketing tips to help your business grow.

1. Create a catchy name and a solid brand

The naming and presentation of your brand is vital. You want to create a name that both represents your product or service and is memorable.

Recently, a new text messaging application came out for smart phones. The only reason why it was successful was because of the name. Kik Messenger did not feature any additional functionality that other applications did not have. People talked about it just because they wanted to say “Kik me later.”

Be conscious of how your brand is perceived in the marketplace. Bad names go nowhere.

2. Focus your message

Before you start writing any of your content, you must be very clear about who your audience is. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Your message should be laser focused on your target market and demographic. When your ideal client comes to the homepage of your website, reads your brochure, hears your advertisement on the radio, etc. they should have no need to look anywhere else. Your message should expose a common problem and positioning your product or service as the solution to that problem.

Your message isn’t just your written word; it also ties into your branding and visual communication as we explained above. For example, if an investment firm had a product targeting very wealthy individuals; it would disinterest clients if their logo and branding was in big, fluffy pink letters … It doesn’t matter how great their products are, the message their brand conveys does not align with who they are trying to target. The same company would have much more success with a clean, simple logo that communicates professionalism and success.

3. Get organized

Great marketing takes time and organization. The more organization you have and the more systems you can create, the less time it will take. A timeline is a great way to stay on task and execute a multi-step marketing campaign. It’s also an effective way to set deadlines and manage a team. Multiple people working on the same project are likely to be more productive when they have clear deadlines and an understanding of how their assignments contribute to the big picture.

4. Build a database

To be successful in business you must, must, MUST build a list. Big money is in a big list. Most businesses spend 90 percent of their marketing budgets on trying to get a new customer to walk through their door or use their service, yet once that customer walks in the door, most businesses don’t collect any information on them, allowing them walk right back out with no means of future contact.  The best way to build a list is to give something good away for free in exchange for their name and contact information. The more value you provide for free, the more valuable your paid services are perceived to be. People think to themselves, “WOW, if they are giving this away for free, what do I get when I pay for something?”

5. Establish promotional partnerships

Most people that call themselves entrepreneurs are really “solo-preneurs;” Meaning, they try to do everything by themselves. Marketing is not a do-it-yourself thing. There are plenty of ways for you to leverage other people to produce great results for a minimal investment of your time. Promotional partnerships are one of these ways. Instead of lighting your hair on fire trying to make it all happen by yourself, put your mind to work and think of different people that can help you grow your business. For example, say you happen to be an expert in branding. Instead of trying to find clients and build systems to get new clients, partner with local business consultants or coaches to leverage their established relationship with their clients as a way to grow your business fast. Imagine partnering with a business consulting firm that has built solid relationships with 25, 50, or even 100+ clients.

6. Referral programs

As we all know, word-of-mouth advertising is the most powerful form of advertising there is. If your product or service is good enough, people will talk about it naturally; but why not give them an incentive? Structured client referral programs are a great way of maximizing something you are already doing to some extent, by providing great service and asking for referrals. Some of the biggest companies in the world are leveraging referral marketing tactics to grow their business by offering incentives to their employees to refer business to them. Other companies leverage and incentive-ize their customer base to bring in business. Just the other day, I saw a sign in front of a very nice apartment complex that said, “Refer a friend to us that signs a lease and get $500!”

In the online space, referral marketing is called affiliate marketing. There are many people that make a significant six-figure income simply marketing other people’s products and services. You no longer have to worry about content creation. You can market someone else’s product to make you money and vice versa; you can create a product and establish promotional partnerships with other people to take your message to the marketplace.

The bottom line is: Find a way to reward your customers for bringing their friends to you or for promoting your product or service.

7. Integrate social media into your entire marketing campaign

Social media is the new buzz word in business. Everyone knows they need to be on it, but most businesses have no idea what they are doing. Just creating a Facebook page for your business does not mean you are “on social media.” Social media (when used correctly) is the glue for your entire marketing campaign. Traditional forms of marketing like print, television and radio are great at sending a message to the masses, but lacks engagement with the recipient of the message.

Business today is all based on relationships. It doesn’t matter how great the advertisement on TV looks, if a friend tells you they had a bad experience with the product or service, chances are very high that you will not try it yourself. If a TV advertisement is terrible, you have no interest. Sometimes it’s so bad that you even change the channel. However, if your friend comes to you bubbling with excitement about their experience, chances are very good you will try it out, too. See, we like and do the things that our friends like and do; it doesn’t matter how much money someone spends on mainstream marketing. Social media is, at its core, founded on real-life relationships. Facebook just recently reached 600 million users and is still growing; Twitter has over 200 million users; LinkedIn just hit the 100 million mark. Social media is here to stay, and your business must be on it — and do it well.

The reason why social media is so powerful is because it has the ability to create a community around almost anything. Social media is a powerful marketing tool that all your other marketing materials should be driving traffic to and building a database of people that “like” your product or service.

For more information about marketing tips or Entourage Marketing, visit www.entouragemarketing.com.

10 Great Customer Service Success Stories - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011

10 Great Customer Service Success Stories And Tips

Troy Hazard, author of the best-selling book “Future-Proofing Your Business”, offers these 10 tips for great customer service:

1. THE ANGRY CUSTOMER: In an argumentative situation, think of how you would feel in your customer’s shoes. Take time to consider his or her personality and position. The faster you start talking in your customer’s language, the quicker the route to an amicable result.

2. WHEN SERVICE GOES WRONG: Try these customer service tips practiced by an airline with flight problems: Acknowledge the problem and take time for face-to-face when possible. Anticipate the needs of the customer and make the customer comfortable. Communicate the solution and offer as much information as you can.

3. PERSONAL TOUCH: After buying a car, the salesman, would send information about things I was personally interested in. The salesman ended up selling $1.5 million to my friends through endorsement or referral.

4. TRUE CUSTOMER APPRECIATION: Sometimes we think we are rewarding our loyal customers when really we are offering them a bribe. A random thank you note that says, “Thanks for being a great customer, please accept this voucher as a sign of our appreciation” is a reward.

5. KEEPING IT REAL: When I owned an advertising business, I did not try to be what I was not. I did not make promises I could not keep. And it got me the client.

6. PROVE YOUR WORTH: Instead of trying to convince potential customers that you can do the job better than your competitor, simply demonstrate to them a service that your competitors simply won’t do.

7. THREE QUESTIONS OF CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS: Two of the most important aspects of building customer relationships are communication and consistency. Ask yourself:

* How often are you reaching out to your customers outside of the times they come to you?
* How often do you offer them something that is good for them, which has nothing to do with you selling them another product or service?
* How often do you train or retrain your staff on how to build better customer relationships?

8. INFORMATION OVER BRICKS AND MORTAR: There is only one way to truly build solid customer relationships — understand their needs and do not assume their expectations. Ask them why they purchase from you and how that purchase affects their lives. You can then use that data to develop a significant emotional connection.

9. ANTICIPATE EXPECTATIONS: Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and think about what they will want tomorrow — and deliver that product or service today.

10. BE SOCIAL ON SOCIAL MEDIA: As you launch your business into the world of social media marketing, remember that it is just that — social. It’s a means for your customers to praise or punish you.

[stextbox id=”grey”]For more information by Troy Hazard about good customer service, visit his website at www.troyhazard.com.[/stextbox]

 Arizona Business Magazine September/October 2011