Facebook Ads Have Evolved, So Should Your Strategy if You Want to Win

When I heard that the cost of Facebook Ads had gone up 171% in 2017, I knew that I had to do something to help out my fellow entrepreneurs.

Here’s what’s happening… in a nutshell:

  • There’s a war over cold traffic (people who have never seen or heard of your brand). Big brands are spending a lot of money on broad targeting to build their audiences so that they can remarket to those audiences at a lower cost, including using Facebook Ads (more on that later).
  • Inexperienced advertisers are improperly targeting Facebook ads and guessing which audiences are most likely to convert (i.e. to get them to purchase their offers). There is a much more effective way of doing this.
  • People aren’t using the proper tools and ad objectives to properly optimize their Facebook ads. That leads to ads that are trying to accomplish too many goals at one time. Like, trying to increase their audience (Facebook page likes), getting people to engage, and getting people to purchase all at the same time. WHEW… that’s a lot for one ad to accomplish. This used to be possible (like 5+ years ago), but now the game has changed entirely.

Facebook Organic Reach Just Isn’t What it Used to Be

Read more

Getting to Know Your Customers: Demographics and Psychographics

I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s become increasingly difficult to be heard amongst all the noise out there. Businesses large and small are competing for millions of potential customers that are searching for and engaging with content daily… and of course the green in their wallets.

In some cases, this struggle has created a divide between the haves and the have-nots where the playing field is seemingly tipped in favor of businesses that have large budgets, big marketing teams, and technical know-how.

As with anything, there’s a way around all of these disadvantages for new and small business owners who are seemingly at a disadvantage.

Start with the basics: getting to know who your customers are

I was at a SCORE.org workshop about 10 years ago listening to a marketing expert talk about advertising strategy for huge companies like Nissan. He asked a very interesting question: Read more

Slingshot Aerospace Website Redesign Phase I [A Look Before & After]

Another website has made it off of our launchpad!

We did it! Phase 1 of Slingshot Aerospace’s new website redesign has officially launched, and we’re pretty proud of it.

Slingshot Aerospace is a forward thinking company providing cutting edge solutions in geospatial analytics. So when they approached us to redesign their website to match the progressiveness of their company, we were up for the challenge!

Redesigning a website for an aerospace company.

Slingshot uses data gathered from remote sensing and ancillary data sources to solve everyday problems for businesses. The challenge for their previous website was that many of their potential clients weren’t able to ‘see’ the solution that Slingshot had for their business pain.

We needed to not only make the website attractive, but communicate the need for the product in a way that was easy to digest from the customer’s perspective. The end result was an attractive and mobile friendly website that both amaraREPS and Slingshot are excited about.

“amaraREPS went the extra mile to really understand what we are all about and the message we needed to convey with our website.The new site looks great!”  

Thomas Ashman,

Chief Product Officer, Slingshot Aerospace

One Small Step for Slingshot…

This launch marks Phase I of their redesign. The website will continue to evolve as their business evolves; they will have the ability to add SEO rich content, additional services, and much more over time.

We wish them luck as they lead the charge in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (aka solving the world’s problems).

 

For companies trying to illustrate a potentially complex or technical product via their website, we recommend starting with the following steps:

First, clarify the audience you’re targeting.

  • Slingshot Aerospace planned to use their website to attract customers, team members, and investors; they knew that their purpose and value had to be crystal clear to maximize their potential.

One way to do this is to make sure you have a comprehensive business plan that includes buyer personas and your strategy for funding and generating revenue.

Learn more about buyer personas as discussed in our CMO’s 10 Essentials of a Winning Marketing Strategy article.

Second, try explaining your product in the simplest terms possible.

  • We challenged them to create content that painted the picture of their products and services so that their target audience(s) could easily understand who they are and what they do. It wasn’t an easy task, but with our collaborative process, we were able to make it happen.

RESULT? We avoided complicating an already difficult subject.

 

Third, make sure you describe real life applications of your product versus just mentioning them.

  • For example… rather than just listing “Residential Property Intelligence,” the team at Slingshot Aerospace provided more clarity on the nature of their solution with descriptive bullet points.

Now, your everyday real estate insurance company, fraud investigator, or development firm understands the value of Slingshot’s solutions; solutions they may not have even known existed before.

 

To learn more about Slingshot Aerospace and the services they provide, visit their About Page, or contact them directly at 844-496-2200.

[UPDATE] 17 JUMPSTART IDEAS FOR YOUR EDITORIAL CALENDAR

 

We’re refreshing our 2017 post to enable you to pull-it-together this year and maximize on Editorial Calendar practices that help the big brands and Fortune 500 companies slay the holidays.

The dog eat your homework?

It’s back-to-school time and, even if you think this doesn’t apply to you, it’s a great time to get a new planner and finally get organized. 

 

A planner/editorial calendar

 

Luckily for American businesses, there are many holidays and annual traditions, like back-to-school shopping, that can trigger content inspiration for the savvy business owner.

When looking to increase the number of valuable blogs, social media posts, marketing campaigns or newsletters you share with your audience, these annual events can act as simple inspiration.

An editorial calendar helps you to PLAN AHEAD and CAPITALIZE on the times of the year when the nation is on the same page in terms of what they are interested in.

Grab a new calendar from your local school supply store and think about which of the following holiday-inspired ideas make sense for your buyer personas (discussed in our CMO’s 10 Essentials of a Winning Marketing Strategy article).

1. Monday, September 4th is Labor Day.

It may be too late for you to pull off an elaborate campaign here, but you can still do something nice for your employees that could translate into positive PR!

Throw them an appreciation lunch if you’re not able to be closed on Monday (after all, it was established in 1894 as a “tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers”).

2. Tuesday, October 31st is Halloween and you don’t have to be a candy manufacturer to participate.

This is your opportunity to inject a little fun into your marketing campaigns – if you’re clever.

Do you offer cleaning services? How about an eblast that says “Are you scared of your garage? We’ll clean it up!”

Want to refresh your client relationships? Your eblast subject line could simply be “BOO! We miss you…”

In retail? This is a great time to stock up on items in chic and shiny colors like black, eggplant, silver and gold. Dress your storefront (even your digital storefront) with these items and send out a pic on social showing your Halloween #inspo.

OR, reference the top-grossing movies of the year for a great, timely theme for an office costume party. Your staff will probably share their pics on social and show the world what a fun work environment they enjoy (subtly giving you exposure).

3. Thursday, November 23rd is Thanksgiving, followed by Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and who knows what else they’ll come up with.

This is the beginning of your deep discount phase in retail and it is one of the most difficult times of the year to get your buyers’ attention due to competition in the space.

See our solution to this problem in #4. Hint, it helps retailers capture last minute shoppers.

You may think that direct mail campaigns are not worth the paper they are printed on, but you could reach out to ONLY your best customers with a premium offer.

OR, go with a message of “thanks,” wish them a happy holiday season, and leave it at that. Make a positive connection with them at a hectic time! After all, who gets good mail these days?

4. Hanukkah kicks off the religious, gift giving holidays that make December the fourth biggest retail month of the year.

YEAH, FOURTH! But, in the hospitality world this is one of the ‘gravy’ months! Your holiday promotions need to be communicated to staff 3-6 months out, and to your customers 2-3 months in advance, in order for them to plan their holiday entertaining.

Meaning, you really will need a “Christmas in July” meeting to start your planning.

If you are in the services industry, this is a great time to send some holiday cheer to your best clients. You can put it off until New Year’s if you really need to, but you’ll need to order them this month. We like a few of these “Customer Holiday Gift Ideas That Don’t Suck” by Groove.

In the past, as an agency, we have employed the “12 Days of Giving” strategy, inspired by the advent calendar to keep our retail clients in front of last minute shoppers. We still recommend due to its great performance. 

5. NYE may be the most universal celebration in the western world and it’s on a Sunday this year.

These were the top 7 resolutions of 2017, based on Google searches.

#1 Get Healthy

#2 Get Organized

#3 Live Life to the Fullest

#4 Learn New Hobbies

#5 Spend Less/Save More

#6 Travel

#7 Read More Books

Think…how can your brand help people? These resolutions could inspire daily social posts in January, monthly eblasts throughout the year that relate to the resolution or a special package/subscription that ties into keeping on task through 2018.

Even if you are in services, you can give people the gift of time towards their resolutions by providing them that service.

If you’re a dry cleaner near a cycle studio or cross fit gym, you could say “Laundry day is the new gym day – drop your wash here on your way to the gym.”

6. Monday, January 15th is  Martin Luther King Day.

(ATTN. Travel Industry – you’ll want to check out #10)

This is a great day to share a quote that you find inspirational from Martin Luther King.  I love to use Goodreads.com for quotes because they pull from a wide variety of sources.  This gem would be a great reminder of the wisdom that the Reverend Doctor shared with the world and could easily be shared on social.  

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”  -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Don’t forget that your customers are people too and sometimes it’s just nice to connect to them on a human level.

7. Wednesday, February 14th is Valentine’s Day.

If you’re in the food industry, Valentine’s promotions may help save your Q1!  

Popular promotions include pre-fixe dinners, two for one purchases, and freebies all themed to celebrate l’amour.

Retailers will often offer specialty items or gifts with purchase, but even free gift wrapping can be of value.  

If you’re a realtor, or other service provider, this is a great time to send a “We Love Referrals” email as a tongue-in-cheek play on the holiday.  

Increasingly, there are Anti-Valentine’s Day campaigns as well.  Hello, singles mixer?!  

These may not work for your audience, but you get the idea.

8. If all else fails, there’s also the long weekend for President’s Day, February 19th.

There is a lot of competition with big-chain businesses offering 20-60% off.  You may be able to capitalize on shopping traffic without having to do a deep discount. Try giving a ‘sales tax’ discount (which in California would mean that you would lower your prices by 7.75%). It may be a minimal amount, but it will give you something to talk about.

This is also the time that you need to start focusing on Mother’s Day if it applies to your business. Remember, 90+ days out for internal planning and 30+ days out for promotion.

9. Saturday, March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day.

If you have a retail store, this is a great time to offer a discount on anything green.  

People are looking for items in this lucky color to wear, or decorate with, throughout all of March.  Try to start the sale a week before the holiday to maximize the weekend’s numbers.

This is also a great time to create and promote signature cocktails and Irish dishes for our restaurateurs.

In services, do a giveaway and capitalize on the theme of “luck” by having a contest or drawing and share it on social encouraging people to email you to enter. You’ll be able to send them an email in return asking how they’ve been since you last spoke (if you know them) or asking them to opt-in to your email list (if they aren’t a customer yet).

There’s always the option of saying “we’re lucky to have such a great team” too. Recognizing your team on social media is a great and subtle way of gaining positive PR which people are prone to engage with. Plus, it’s the right thing to do!

10. Passover, Easter, April Fools…They all tie into April this year. But are any of those right for you?

You don’t have to specifically celebrate these holidays! “Spring is Sprung” campaigns are a nice alternative to religious themes.  

“Spring Renewal” and “Spring Fever” catch phrases work at this time of year too – they speak to health, wellness and self-improvement. This is when we’ll start to hear the phrases “dad bod” and “bikini body” even if we don’t want to.

This is also the beginning of Festival Season, so break out your boho vibes (if you have them) and join the conversation on social. Share what you can in terms of fashion, trends, even camping gear.

U.S. schools also usually choose to time their “Spring Break” around these holidays.  Meaning this is an increased time of travel and family get togethers.  

Attention. If you are a travel agent, you should have started promoting Spring Break specials in February or March.

To that point, this is the month you’ll want to finalize your summer promotions so that you have enough lead time to execute them with your team.

11. April is also a time when people start their spring cleaning.  

Whether that means cleaning up your home and business in order to donate items to a charity for positive PR or offering to help with a community event for Earth Day on Sunday, April 22, you can find something worth tooting your horn about this month.

We are intentionally leaving out Tax Day, Sunday, April 15th. We don’t think we need to explain why.

12. Sunday, May 13th is Mother’s Day.  

The MOTHER of all spring holidays is always the second Sunday in May, but somehow people tend to forget it.  

Why not send out a friendly email blast 2 weeks ahead with some sort of tie in to the next week’s holiday?

Whether it is a story about your own mother, a friendly reminder to book a table at her favorite restaurant or a line-up of Mom-approved gift ideas, almost all of us have a mother-figure that we like to spoil this month.

Those in the hospitality, beauty, and service industries will want to finalize their plans right after Valentine’s Day for this major, competitive holiday.

13. Monday, May 28th is Memorial Day.  

This three day weekend is informally known as the kick-off to summer.  

This is a great time to introduce summer fashions or get rid of remaining winter items in your stock room.  

It’s also a popular weekend for a White Party, thanks to Sean “Puffy” Combs. Start a new tradition with your staff by having a themed office party and share the pictures on social.  

Whatever you do, get geared up for the warm weather to come.

14. Sunday, June 17th is Father’s Day.

Much more toned down than Mother’s Day, this is a great time of year to celebrate manhood in general. Think tools, barbecues, camping, boating, workshops, Daddy daycare, men’s grooming and so on.

Put together a great Dad’s makeover outfit grid to display in your store and share it on social.

Do you offer goods or services?  Consider doing a discount or a two-for-one if you can.  

Whatever you do, advertise your special the week before (and again, two days out).

If you’ve followed our suggestions, you’re mid-way through the year and you’ve already done 14 campaigns.

15. Wednesday, July 4th is Independence Day.  

When this type of holiday falls in the middle of the week (Valentine’s Day is another example this year) you can  S Q U E E Z E  a little extra out of the marketplace by offering an entire week of promotions.

You can take this idea for free

“1, 2, 3, Happy 4th!” That’s a great initiator for a four day drip campaign to your clients, potential customers, and social following. No matter what you sell, it’s a great way to capitalize on the buzz in the air.

You can anticipate your employees being a little unproductive on the 5th. You may also see a decrease in call volume and traffic due to the holiday hangover effect. So, this might be the right time for an office clean up party and left-over potluck, smorgasbord.

16. Restaurants may be a little light on business on the 4th. Why not throw a Fourth of July pre-party on Sunday, July 1st?  

This is a great way to juice the lemon!

We’ve even seen great results in this industry from restaurants that close early to dodge lost profits due to costly overhead. When coupled with a pancake brunch on Sunday for businesses that usually only serve lunch and dinner, it’s a creative solution to ‘business as usual’ losses.

Think outside of the box and offer something that people aren’t thinking of.

If you can’t figure out a special for this day, send a simple message to your audience to have a safe and wonderful holiday. Mention to them if you will be closed or trying the ideas above.

17. Lastly, celebrate YOUR personal milestones!  

When did you open your business?  Have you added any staff to your company?  Is there a birthday to celebrate?  Are you opening a new location?  Did you hit a thousand followers on Instagram?  

Your communications with your audience don’t always have to be a promotion or sales pitch. Give people a look at who you are and what you are all about. This will make them feel like there’s dimension to your brand.

Your company is not a cookie cutter and there is no way to design a one-size-fits-all calendar

This is just the beginning of a conversation.  

Take time to look at a holiday website and chart out what makes sense for you.  

Another great tip that doesn’t cost anything?  Subscribe to a national retailer’s newsletter list today.  Next year, you may be able to use their publishing habits as inspiration.  

If you can find a competitor to subscribe to, then do it…

A word to the wise, make these campaigns your OWN.  There is a fine line between flattering imitation and copy-catting; your audience will probably know the difference.

Business Planning for Transitional Aged Youth [Acknowledgement Credit]

We recently had the pleasure of working with Deena Saunders-Green, of Green Pines Media, who graciously mentioned amaraREPS in her newly released business planning workbook: Transitional Age Entrepreneurs. Deena, a graduate of California State University, has worked with at risk juveniles since her internship as a therapist in juvenile hall. Through her experience as a Southern California social worker and various other non-profit organizations, she was awakened to the disturbingly high rates of homelessness and lack of life skills among the youth she often served.

Transitional Age Entrepreneurs  is written specifically as a guide for young people who fall under the term “Transitional Aged Youth” (TAY) who would like to start a business, but need some guidance. This 100 page workbook is an especially extraordinary project, as the would-be entrepreneurs who fall under this category are considered to be high risk during a time when they are transitioning from foster or state care into society on their own (typically between the ages of 16-24). Young adults in this category are considered to be “at risk” because they are at an age where adolescents are normally faced with making several life-changing decisions. These could be things like getting ready for college, getting their first job, or moving out on their own. Because children in the foster care system, or those who have aged out may not have support and guidance of a typical family system, this makes an already stressful time even more challenging.

 

“I wanted to use indie publishing and podcasts to raise awareness about the challenges facing emancipated foster youth. The problem was, I knew nothing about starting a business. Social work taught me the value of collaboration, so instead of spending hours and hours on research, I sought business consultants with a proven track record. amaraREPS was the solution. They guided me through the process of building a solid business plan. They also made marketing much easier for me to understand.”

-Deena Saunders-Green, Green Pines Media

 

The publishing of Transitional Aged Entrepreneurs is just one of the ways Green Pines Media is raising awareness about the challenges facing transitional aged youth, with additional efforts in the form of speaking engagements on the subject.

amaraREPS is honored to have the opportunity to help Deena not only as an entrepreneur, but because she has dedicated her business to helping others. Because she has decided to help other young entrepreneurs, we’re doubly excited to be able to offer the unique and valuable expertise she has chosen to share with others. While this book is meant to serve transitional aged youth, I would also welcome you to share this with young folks who aspire to start their own businesses, as business planning is a crucial step in the entrepreneurial process.

The new workbook, as well as other publishings and information about Green Pines Media can be found on their website, www.GreenPinesMedia.com . You may also find the workbook on Amazon. Supporting the book helps to further Green Pines Media’s efforts to support children transitioning out of foster care, so please… spread the word or share this workbook with a kid that has BIG dreams and BIG ideas. 🙂

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