Archives for category: Social Media

2011 has felt like the year of the Bayer Brakke Study. Most of what has been written in the world of practice management, seminars, and conversations between managers, have ended up talking about the Bayer Brakke study.

This was finally summed up for me when attend a one day workshop held at VSCoT by Butler, Bayer, and Jessica Goodman Lee, CVPM of Brakke consulting, on the study itself and what to do about it’s findings.

I felt it might be interesting for me to give my personal view point on some of what I took away from this presentation, the Bayer Brakke Study in general, and what it means for the veterinary profession, clients and pets, as a whole.

1: The profession needs to change and it needs to take the change seriously.

The 1998 Brakke study made 19 recommendations and the only one that was adopted by almost all veterinary practices was to raise fees. Now that was a good thing – fees need to rise, but the other recommendations we’re also important. Inventory management and reducing expenses, for example, were the recommendations with the next highest adoption rate and they were adopted by less than 50% of practices.

Just raising fees is fine when the economy is doing well, but does not bode well recessionary times and helps explain why visits are down and some practices are have had a significantly hard time over the last couple of years.

What was valid five years ago is not valid now – never mind 10 years ago.

2: Normalcy is not an excuse for inaction.

One of the elements that the study points out is that many practices believe that all they have to do is “weather the storm” and everything will get back to normal. What is currently being misunderstood is that the industry has changed. New competition, with different business models, have arisen partly in response to these challenging times, and who is to say that these will end anytime soon? Only 20% of practices expressed serious concern about the changing market place.

The other major issue is that business itself has changed. As Jim Lecinski points out in his book “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth” buying, consuming and even reviewing habits have changed. As a business you ignore these changes at your peril.

3: We Live, or Perish, by Communication with our Clients.

59% of dog owners and 56% of cat owners would bring their pets in more often if they could prevent problems and extensive treatments later on. The figures are almost identical when owners believe that their pet will live longer by bringing them to their veterinarian more often.

In addition, 56% of clients feel that their veterinarian does give them clear instructions as to when they should bring their pet in.

4: Cats – the Great Opportunity.

As I personally experienced while helping with the pet evacuation due to the Monument Fire in Sierra Vista, cats are woefully undeserved by the veterinary community. The bottom line is that cats do not get brought into the vet enough or sometimes ever. It is difficult for the owner, difficult for the cat, and difficult (from the client’s perspective) for the veterinary practice.

If a veterinary practice sees 25% cats and 75% dogs, and there are 13% more cats that dogs in the U.S. the opportunities are enormous both for the business of the practice and in improving feline health.

5: It is all about money – except when it is not.

Getting inventive about payment options, whatever they might be, are seen by clients as needed services. That does not nessecerally mean that veterinarians have to become banks, but it does mean that we can’t wash our hands of the financial issue. The practices that are able to provide options will find clients flocking to them. It is also important to note that choice is not always a good thing. It can send a a mixed message to clients who are looking for a recommendation. Pet insurance is an obvious area where having a practice provider of choice in terms of recommendations can make a big difference to clients.

Trumping the financial issues, however, is communication as mentioned above. If we do not explain the value of what we do and why we do it (exhibit A: the lack of feline visits) how can we ever expect clients to?

I can sum a lot of what I have written above by one word: Management.

The industry needs to embraise management (this may seem like a self serving argument as a practice manager, and to an extent it is, but it does also does not make it any less true) as a key ingredient for practice health. It is no accident that the Bayer Brakke Study shows that the variables most constistant with increased visits were: seeing the same veterarian every time, wellness exams considered the most important service, marketing and advertising as important to practice success, and the active use of social media. The variables most consistent with decreased visits were: advertising undermines credibility as a veterinarian and lack of referral arrangements with shelters, groomers etc. These are all areas where good management can make a significant difference. Managers have to be allowed to manage, but they also need to manage well.

Proper practice management is not just the responsibility of the managers. Of course, managers must manage, but there has to be a sea-change in understanding that proper practice management actually effects patient health and outcomes.

Just ask all those cats!

These are just my take always, any others or any other ideas? Lets here from you in the comments. Abuse, as always, very welcome.

For a field supposedly bereft of metrics, social media is full of them.

I have more Facebook fans / Twitter followers / blog subscribers than you do. My tweets get re-tweeted more often, more people are talking about this on Facebook, and every blog post has a hundred comments. And, of course, the crowning achievement, my Klout score is higher than yours.

I’ve had a couple of run-ins lately with social media envy. The first was a blog post that was very popular for all the wrong reasons – I took a position that lots of people disagreed with. I don’t regret that post (or the sentiment it contained), but it did get me thinking on the nature of why that post was so “popular” compared to others on my blog. Certainly, it has been a long understood concept that controversy boosts readership (just ask a tabloid journalist). However, what really made me start thinking on this topic was why would readers engage more just to tell me I’m wrong? Does this kind of thinking carry over into more corporate blogging? Should I start my next vet practice blog with the words “I hate pets?”

Obviously, you won’t find any anti-pet blog posts from me any time soon. But it led me to start reassessing as to why I decided to start blogging in the first place.

The next thing that really set off the social media envy was Facebook. Working in small communities, and have having a very successful Facebook presence on the two major pages I have run as a veterinary practice manager, I believe I am justifiably proud of both the number of fans and the level of engagement, without vast sums of cash being sunk into the pockets of Mark Zuckerberg. My pages have had significantly better engagement, and fan bases than my competitors, or other local businesses. Of course, it is therefore disheartening to come across others who seem to be doing a better job – with more fans and better engagement, even if they are not in your market. Social Media envy I hate you.

The bottom line, however, is that social media envy, like envy and jealously in general is pointless and stupid. The real questions to be asking ones self when faced with social media envy are:

1: Does my presence achieve what I want it to achieve?

2: If someone else is achieving more than I am how can I learn from them and is it even possible for me to do something similar? There is a big difference, for example, in running a Facebook page for a rock band versus running a page for a veterinary hospital or a restaurant.

3: Am I making forward progress and do my clients, and potential clients, like what my online presence delivers for them?

Social media, is a element of a marketing strategy, not a marketing strategy in itself. It is a tool to achieve your goals. And those goals can be quite ethereal. If social media is not working for you, then it is time to try something else or learn from those who doing what you want to be able to do.

It is not a race.

It is not a competition.

It is a tool.

It makes no sense to judge yourself, or even the tool, by how others use it.

Comments, good, bad, and indifferent are always welcome – flame away!   

For those who do not use Twitter, you might not know about Friday Follows. The idea is that on Fridays, Twitter users recommend other Twitter users to follow.

It has fallen out of favor of late a little, the Twitterverse can be fickle, and I’ve never been a big believer anyway – preferring to retweet (repost others messages) on a regular basis. But it has always been nice to get one.

Yesterday, however, I got the best Friday Follow ever from Jim Dougherty who goes by the name @leaderswest on Twitter.

Jim’s Friday Follow took the form of a short – talking to camera – video, explaining to users why they should follow me, and others, on Twitter. The genius of the idea is that each subject gets their own short video making it very easy to view and share by the subject.

This is great content marketing.

Easy to consume, relevant, and selfless – which of course reflects very well on the content creator like all great content marketing. It would be interesting to see if all recommendations will eventually be like this: personal, short, and on video. It has certainly got my wheels turning considering just how effective I find the video below. Interestingly, Jim used Keek for this project. Keek is hoping to be video Twitter.

Please follow @leaderswest on Twitter, after you follow me!

Video Friday Follow about @mike_falconer from @leaderswest

(Keek's embedding does not work very well in WordPress yet - just click on the image to take you to Jim's Keek page and his video post about me!)

Well, what did you think?

Let me know in the comments and take a look at Jim’s other Friday Follows in the same page.

Bad feedback, subtle (and not so subtle) digs on Twitter, your mistakes pointed out for all to see, and then you go make it way worse…

In your online life, just like your business life, it can be hard to take criticism. We are not married, after all, to our peers – business is personal. But just like in person, going ballistic certainly does not help the relationship, how you are perceived by other people, or even your own equilibrium.

I seemed to attract a deluge of criticism online and off recently. In addition, I had a management issue that felt like backhanded criticism. Although my first instinct was to react as if these were attacks, by standing back, taking a deep breath, and actually trying to see what the other person was saying, I realized that they all had merit – and in some cases, there were things that needed addressing.

What is so odd, for me, is that, I consider it a key function of my job to address client issues when they come up about my practice. I survey every client who visits us, so thanking clients for positive feedback, and trying to address negative feedback, is part and parcel of what I do.

Learning the lesson that bad, even unjustified, feedback about your business is not a personal attack was an easy lesson to learn. Understanding, that personal business criticism should be handled in a similar vein is harder to learn, but ultimately even more important.

Comments welcome (please be gentle…)

This week, I take pot shots at webinars and why I think they are a waste for speaker, and the virtual attendee.

Webinars, where a speaker presents over the Internet, at a predetermined time to an audience sitting at home or at their desks, have always seemed to be a classic example of having your cake and eating it too. By the way – that expression makes no sense whatsoever. If I’m having cake you better believe that I want to eat it!

Anyway, I digress…

The problem with webinars is that they have all the disadvantages of actually going to see someone speak, with none of the advantages. The timming of the webinar is decided by the speaker, or organizer. The transfer of information is limited to that timing window and whatever notes are issued.

From the speaker side, webinars offer the possibility of actual interaction with participants. However, because the interaction is one way, unless initiated by the viewer, the speaker has no idea as to how well the presentation is going and therefore how to tailor it to address potential issues.

I also cannot help shaking the notion that webinars are, for the most part, the lazy way out. If online delivery is what is required, let’s have proper content. Presentations that can be downloaded, shared, and watched again and again on the viewers schedule. YouTube, Slideshare, or even PowerPoint all make this very easy.

While saying all this, I do think there is great value in physical meetings and presentations- particularly for the conversations that happen before and after the meeting. Social media, is an excellent way of approximating this offline interaction of a physical meeting- online, but the realtime contraints of a webinar don’t really lend themselves to this interaction.

Plus, who doesn’t need more great content.

You build a marketing strategy, craft your brand, have a good grasp of your online identity, lots of likes and followers on the various social media platforms, and even have developed great connections to your local media…and then you do something really stupid that could potentially blow it all.

Nobody is perfect, and we all makes mistakes – I’ve made some doozers. But there is a real difference between making mistakes, admitting those mistakes and then trying to fix the problem, as opposed to declaring war on your customers and ultimately your own business.

Lets take this little Twitter gem for starters courtesy of the Daily Mail. A customer in your restaurant overhears a waiter being rude about another restaurant owner who the customer happens to know personally. Your customer is not to thrilled with the service already, and finds this behavior to be rather off, so they Tweet about it. What you do not do, as a restaurant owner, is call up from home, ask to speak to the customer in question, curse at them down the phone, and then demand they leave. That, however, is exactly what happened. In the ensuing Twitter onslaught, the restaurant came off far worse and created a massive (the restaurant is in Texas, the Daily Mail is a UK newspaper as an example) amount of negative publicity over a customer service issue. An apology, and a courtesy meal or bottle of wine, could have turned this incident into a minor win instead of this major fail.

Next up, the auto-body shop that after using a photographer’s work on their Facebook page without permission, proceeded to threaten and abuse the photographer on their own Facebook page for all to see. Needless to say, the page went viral over Twitter and Facebook. With the almost universally courteous, and intelligent, posts from supporters of the photographer, and gangsta inspired vitriol from the body shop it could only be seen as a massive marketing failure right in front of the businesses own 500+ fans. I believe the page is now been taken down as I can no longer find it, but if anyone knows if it is still up please drop me a line so I can share the link.

The Airbnb saga, has been done to death but is instructive because even very smart people can do really dumb things. The basic outline is that Airbnb is a service that allows homeowners to rent out a room on a short term basis like a hotel. Unfortunately, when an owner returned to find their apartment trashed, and their identity stolen, Airbnb basically stuck their heads in the sand and appeared to try and discredit the victim to stop her blogging about her experience. After a major backlash, Airbnb added safeguards, an insurance policy, and tried to do the right thing by the victim. But it could be too little too late considering their model is very easy to copy and already has a number of competitors. Most people had never even heard of Airbnb until this story exploded.

Finally, something a bit closer to home, how would you, or your staff, feel about having this tweeted from your hospital by a doctor, or about your pet?

Twitter vet image blanked out

Not only is this amazingly unprofessional, but all it will take is a single person to make the connection between hospital and Twitter account (the account does not identify the hospital, or the doctor, but I have still blanked out what is there in the interests of fairness) and this will become a huge problem. I’m sure it violates the hospital’s social media policy and I’m sure you could make an argument for it also being damaging to the profession to boot!

The bottom line is that your reputation and your brand are fragile. It is very easy for it to be damaged by just forgetting the basics of customer service. Never do anything, or say anything online, that you wouldn’t want on the front page of the paper or on a billboard. This is an age where it is easier to get your message out than ever before, but it is also just as easy for everyone else. And nothing travels, or goes viral, quite as well as scandal or bad news.

Does anyone have disastrous stories they would like to share or other examples they have seen online? Share with the rest of us in the comments!

(Click on the image above to view the book on Amazon!)

With possibly the longest subtitle ever: “Move your business forward through the convergence of search, social & content marketing,” Accelerate! cannot be accused of false advertising.

Quiet simply, Accelerate is a blueprint for successfully using 21st century tools for small business online marketing. Written by Arnie Kuenn, the president of Vertical Measures in Phoenix, and a co-founder of the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association; Mr. Kuenn certainly knows his stuff. In fact, it is one of the few criticism of the book that I have, is that it gets a little dense at times, particularly early on. The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) section while being very detailed gets to be a little much and will require a couple of readings for all but the most experienced of readers. However, the style does settle down, and it would be a mistake to give up on the book as and what you are left with in the end is, a user friendly handbook for search, social media, and content marketing.

The book covers all the major players as you might expect; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google; but is also covers a lot of the less mainstream sites. Accelerate! plucks a number online tools out from the magic geek SEO toolbox to help with almost every aspect of the radical overhaul of your marketing strategy that will undoubtedly unfold once you have finished the book. I myself, am already looking carefully at how I put posts together for my site and have joined a number of social bookmarking sites directly because of this book.

A self published book, also available in a Kindle edition, I was initially concerned about the physical binding on Accelerate! I’ve had problems in the past with the spines of self published books cracking and then loosing pages after a single reading. I’m happy to report that this is not the case with Accelerate! I did take care not to be too absusive to the spine, but i needn’t have worried, the book is in great shape and looks the same as when it arrived.

I mention the self publishing issue, not just because of quality, but also because the text of the book directly references it as well. With a subject such as search and social media marketing, it is easy to get very out of date very quickly – Google+, for example, is not mentioned once. As the text explains, being a self published book, in addition to being an E-book, allows for easier updates than traditional publishing. I, for one, hope we do get new editions on a fairly regular basis, because this a great resource and one I know I will be referring to for quite some time. In fact, I found it quite odd to see URLs in the footnotes and be unable to click on them – should have got the Kindle version!

Mr. Kuenn’s book will not tell you how to brand and create a marketing strategy for your business – hopefully that is why you read my blog! What Accelerate! will do, however, is tell you how to navigate the waters of the increasingly complex world of search, social media, and content marketing. This still might not mean that you still don’t need to hire someone of Mr. Kuenn’s caliber, or the man himself, to work with you on these magic things. But if you do you’ll at least know what they are talking about and why.

If you want to get serious about search, social media and content marketing, you need to buy this book – it does what is says on the cover!

(Clicking on the cover above will take you to the book’s Amazon page and contribute to my book buying habit / problem.)

So far in this series we’ve looked at how your brand and marketing strategy are perceived and reacted with by your clients – but what about your staff?

Without your staff on-board no marketing program will succeed. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that probably one of the most important elements of any marketing program is having staff buy-in. But how to get it?

Simplicity

This is not a dig at your staff, but rather those overblown and meaningless missions statements that seem the populate the corporate world. Your brand and your mission statement should be one. They need to work together and be given as much thought as each other. A mission statement should also be able to be understood by mere mortals and, in an ideal world, be able to be remembered.

A great example of this is talked about at length in Stick, a book by Chip and Dan Heath that I reviewed here. Southwest use the slogan “The Low Cost Airline.” This slogan, which is the central part of their mission statement, informs the decisions that both management and staff make everyday –

“Should we have sandwiches on this flight?”
“Does that make us the Low Fares Airline?”
No because the added cost of the sandwiches might increase the fare price.

“Should we joke about a flight attendant’s birthday over the intercom?”
“Does that affect us being the Low Cost Airline?”
No it doesn’t – so go ahead.

Having an overriding statement, that is the building block of your mission statement helps, give your staff a sense of mission and purpose. If you use it to define your decisions everyday, and tell them why it fits into that statement, they will soon see the benefits of this kind if thinking and hopefully adopt it as their own.

Keeping Staff Informed

It is a surprisingly common mistake, I’ve made it myself several times, but your staff should not be the last ones to find out about any kind of marketing program. Not only does it frustrate the staff, it upsets the client and creates the exact opposite impression in their mind that you were probably trying to create in the firs place. It is also a great idea to have staff involved in the planning stages of any marketing program. This stops it from being “your” marketing program and makes it “our” marketing program – a much better solution all round.

Explain What is Out There

It might come as a shock, but staff do not cruise their employers website, social media pages, and review sites at night, when they get home from work, as a method of relaxation. Take the time and effort to explain these resources to staff so that they, in turn, can be knowledgeable to clients when they ask.

Provide Reminders

If you are promoting particular products, ensure that staff have the tools, training, and reminders to be able to effectively do their jobs. What do I mean by reminders? Well it could be as simple as a poster or you asking about their progress on a daily basis and it could be as technical as power point presentations running where both clients ad staff can see them. As Seth Godwin says “Competence is the enemy of change.” In other words, when you give your staff new products, protocols, and ideas to work on, you are making them less efficient for the time it takes them to learn all the new things. Naturally, they might be a little resistant to that. All the help you can provide will make the transition to a new state of competency as straight forward as possible.

Be Emotional

If you care about an idea, concept, or product – show that you do. Tell stories about how this product, idea or concept will affect your clients, your staff, or whom ever. But if you cannot show that you care about something, how are your staff ever going to care? You don’t have to have them high fiving and lifting you on their shoulders, and there is an element of risk with putting yourself out there – they might not respond. But without that emotion and, for want of a better word, passion your pitch to your staff will become just as important as the text from an instruction manual.

How do you promote your ideas and strategies to staff? Have you found some other great ways to get people onboard? Leave a comment below to share with me (seriously, I don’t have all the answers) and other readers.

Next week: The Double-Edged Sword of Media Relations

(Click on the image above to download the book from Amazon!)

Being, essentially, 128 pages long (the appendix takes it up to 163 pages) and a free download it would be difficult to complain too much about the e-book: “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth.” Luckily you really don’t have to, as it makes for an engaging, and brief, read. It also has the potential to become an important work for those of us who care about marketing our businesses and the tools that we use to achieve that.

The Zero Moment of Truth is an attempt to update a model, first coined by Procter and Gamble in 2005, used to describe the marketing’s effect on the consumer. The model goes something like this: Stimulus; in the form of an advertisement, First Moment of Truth; when the consumer sees the product on the shelf in the store, and Second Moment of Truth; when the customer experiences the product they have bought. Although the terms were coined in the 21st century, the concept would be understood by a character on the TV show Mad Men. Zero Moment of Truth is an attempt to explain and define how search, and social media, has changed our buying and consuming habits as now there is now an additional step to this marketing model. This additional step is that advertising is now prodding us, the consumer, to research, ask our friends, and ask even complete strangers, about the product online before we get anywhere near the store or an e-commerce site.

Inter-spaced with video introductions to each chapter by marketers and search professionals, the book neatly dissects what the Zero Moment of Truth means for all of us – including consumers. It particularly, has no time for manufacturers who feel that their product does not generate the interest for social media – I wish my business had as many fans as “Bounce dryer sheets” to give you an example!

Another, potentially even more important, concept in the book is the idea that customers do not talk about bad experiences online. Obviously, it is not always the case, but Mr. Lecinski puts forward a compelling case that in the majority of circumstances, clients want to give good reviews far more than they want to give bad ones – preferring to forget about bad experiences. This being the case, the book argues, that unless you have a serious problem in your business (and you’d probably want to know about it if you did) reviews and comments are a chance to engage your clients and should not be ignored.

Since Mr. Lecinski is managing director, U.S. Sales & Service, for Google a book that extolls the virtues of search and reviews (Google places anyone?) could be seen as a little self-serving. This is probably fair, but it does not make anything that is said in the book any more relevant and important. Although, it does have to be said that the lack of mentions of Facebook (mentioned five times) and Twitter (mentioned twice) can be a bit jarring when compared to Google (mentioned 72 times). This is a minor gripe, however, and a great book from a very clever marketer.

I do, however, have a major gripe about this book and others of its ilk.

I read a lot, and when I do I listen to music – like I imagine most people do. Adding video into the mix is a logical extension of the e-book medium and I think it has a place – particularly in a book such as this – is logical. The problem with video content in books, however, is when the producers decide that they have to add background music as they would if they were producing a spot for television. Some basic understanding of the way your product is being consumed please people! I don’t want to have to mute what I’m listening to at the start of each chapter just so I can listen to someone speak!

This is still a very good book and well worth your time even if you never watch the videos – which I suggest you do – just remember to keep the remote for the music handy.

Over the past few weeks we’ve looked at creating a marketing strategy, branding, social marketing and the various ways of creating an online presence, whether it be websites, social media and some of the other online tools that allow you to market your business. Traditional advertising, however, should still have a place in most marketing strategies.

Where traditional campaigns fail is when they are not part of a much larger effort which includes online social media efforts and the client’s experience in your business. Think about how you, or even better, your clients, find businesses and products. They will probably see a traditional ad, and then do some research online. But if there is not an ad for them to see then this initial driving force never happens.

A well designed ad, whether it be online, in a newspaper, on the radio of television will solve a problem that your potential client has. Your entire branding strategy, in fact, should be geared around this not enough to tell customers that you exist – you have to tell them why and why that matters to them!

Newspapers

Yes, there are people who still read newspapers, and even some who buy them.

In smaller towns, newspapers are still the main source of local news which can be difficult to find from the major media outlets. Newspapers in smaller towns, also recognize that the game is changing and have pretty comprehensive websites with pay walls. If you are in a major metropolitan area you may not have experienced this, however, even in bigger cities, newspapers still have their place.

Ads in newspapers can have a spotty reputation, but a lot of this has traditionally been due to badly designed campaigns and a lack of metrics to track results. Lucky, the internet and new technology is there to help you. A specially tailored URL (website address) for your campaign, or a QR code (bar codes that can be read by a smart phone), in a traditional printed ad that leads the reader to a specially designed landing page on your website makes for easy tracking. A good example of this is on my desk in front of me. It is a piece of junk mail trying to get me to subscribe to the Arizona Republic and offering me a special price for Sunday delivery. If I want the offer, I am told that I should visit “J7.AZCENTRAL.COM,” scan the QR code or call a special number. If I go to that address I am taken to a special landing page with an electronic version of the prepaid card I might have filled out in the past.

Where you appear in the newspaper is incredibly important. I personally stay away from any special section like TV listings or “weekend” sections, unless they are targeted at your audience – pet adoptions sponsored by a veterinarian or pet shop are a good example of what can work. The main part of the paper is where you want to be – that is why people are buying the paper! That is the bit they, in general, read the most. It does tend to cost a little more – that alone should tell you something – but it is worth it.

Radio

Radio, although facing some serious competition, can be a relatively inexpensive way to reach a large part of your client basis. Your radio station will look after production of your ad and can make some really helpful suggestions. Small radio stations may also be willing to work with you on infomercials, which can dramatically increase your exposure for little increase in costs. The trick with infomercials is to have a great idea. I’ve used a weekly vet tips section, which combined with lost and found pets from the local shelter gave dramatic exposure at an excellent price and also gave the radio station some great content that their listeners were interested in.

The great advantage that radio has is that listeners tend to like the station, not the individual programs. That means your ad / program has a far greater chance of being heard because it will not get glanced over (newspapers), or fast forwarded through (Television).

Metrics and tracking with radio can be tricky, but again a URL that is geared to your campaign can work wonders.

Television

With the advent of cable and the fragmentation of the television market it is now possible to have a TV spot running on a popular network for less than you used to pay for a yellow pages ad. This, of course, varies greatly on the market, the cable company and the channels and show you want to be associated with. If you do get an ad – make sure that the cable company will let you use it on YouTube – thereby you can embed it on your website and get the maximum value for your television budget.

A word of warning about YouTube, Facebook, and combining them with traditional campaigns. Don’t make your potential clients go to Facebook or YouTube to get “exclusive content” or to view your new ad. Because once they are there, the chances are that that website will entice them onto something else and they’ll forget about your website that you were hoping you would go back to. Embedding is your friend, and it helps keep the customer where you want them – looking at your content or advertising.

Yellow Pages

As my friend Dave Nicol puts it so sucictly in the title of his excellent book: “The Yellow Pages are Dead” (you can read my review by clicking on the title but not until you’ve finished this article please!)

With all the respect in the world to Dave, I think it is probably nearer the truth to say they are dying. When was the last time you picked up a yellow pages? And if you did, did you then go look at them online to see what you could find out about them? Being in the main yellow pages directory for your area is important, however, the days of the full page ad are over. A listing – maybe a small box ad, depending on your target customer, will be more than enough. Of course, ask your customers, or look up your existing measurements of how people find you and then make your own decision. In areas where there are multiple books pick the best one, or if you can find out, the one your customers use.

Do not buy enhanced online packages from the yellow-pages companies. They are not very good at it, on the whole, and you can find much lower cost solutions. If your marketing budget is an issue the yellow pages are a great area to cut. Don’t be swayed by the “your competition is in our book” argument. Let your competition waste their advertising dollars – be smart about where you place yours.

Directories, Maps, Etc.

These really are a waste of money and probably always were. My favorite I saw recently was a printed directory which had an enhanced picture of smart phone on the cover show what was inside the guide. And no they did not have an app. This cover, all sense of irony removed, was just trying to be hip, and was actually showing off why the publication was irrelevant.

Finally, the Internet

The internet is an incredibly powerful tool, and it is possible to have a marketing strategy and a marketing campaign only using just it. A traditional marketing campaign, however, must have an internet and social media component and all the elements show be designed and work cohesively.

It is also important to remember that ads, even if not very successful in their own right, can help with your general brand awareness – your internet and social media components should be able to tell you if this is the case.

I believe that a good marketing strategy combines lots of elements and disciplines – including the running of your business. If your potential clients know the name of your competitor, but not yours they are not going to be looking for anything other than your competitors name online, …or even in the phone book.

Next Week : Internal Marketing

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