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Review: Accelerent (Business Development Platform)

16 Nov

Accelerent LogoPoint 3 Media decided to get involved with a business development platform earlier this year called Accelerent. It’s a significant investment of both time and dollars, but we felt it was worth it for one main reason: we wanted to do more local business to build the economy in Middle Tennessee. We spent many years building our client list outside of the state, but are now focusing on helping businesses close to home.

So far, Accelerent is exactly what it says it is: a business development platform. I know that Larry, Sheilah, Jessica and I have had a fun and productive time going to the various events, and meeting all of the different partners and their clients. I’ve met more people in the past two months of being involved with Accelerent than in the past two years of living in Nashville. It’s been great on a personal and a professional level. Plus, what a great way to distribute your business cards!

The events encompass everything from one-on-one meetings to wine tasting events. There is also a monthly breakfast where Accelerent brings in a speaker to educate business leaders. They’ve included: Merril Hoge, Peter Vidmar, and Vernice Armour. They’ve all been great and so inspiring. I really learned a lot from Peter Vidmar – he’s a US Olympian and motivational speaker. He can still even do his pommel horse routine and he’s over 50! Peter spoke about motivation – ROV (Risk, Originality and Virtuosity) – and how those three elements should insure that your business outperforms the competition. You should definitely read about his story here.

All of this networking would not mean much unless there was measurable ROI. One of my tasks is to track how many meetings we have, how many proposals we deliver, and how many clients we do business with because of Accelerent. Utilizing the Accelerent platform there is a longer term prospecting process, however, the potential return on investment is great. That being said, now that our Accelerent partners are familiar with what we do, business is steadily flowing. We have many appointments booked each week, which is great, but it can be overwhelming and that’s why I’m here to help. I’m excited at a new opportunity for Point 3 Media, and am looking forward to expanding our family of clients.

Why Experience Marketing Matters

13 Aug

happinessIs it me, or does the pursuit of happiness happen to have had a resurgence in the past year? The more the economy turns down, the more families and friends are spending nights at home together playing board games and throwing dinner parties. What a great time for Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose to hit stores! The book is a smash hit with bloggers and CEOs alike. It dives into corporate culture and how to increase happiness for employees, investors and customers. It’s a must read for HR staff, C-level staff, and anyone interested in creating a fun work environment while working hard.

Recently, my financial adviser asked me to read the NY Times Article from August 7 titled But Will It Make You Happy? He was asking me to read it for my personal edification, but little did he know that it is a gem when it comes to trending for marketers. What a great read!  The article talks about why American consumers are downsizing and what their purchase decisions mean for America’s economy. Not only are consumers purchasing fewer material goods, but they are actually increasing their purchase of experience-oriented products and services. (Think pasta-making classes, hiking trips, vacations, board games, etc.). I am definitely inspired to take a look at what I’m really buying. I think marketers should do the same for their products.

Since consumers are spending their money on experiences, not physical goods, it is more important than ever for consumers to make an emotional connection with a product. We’re seeing a shift from German-thinking of consumerism and keeping up with the Joneses, to a more French-style of thinking. The French might not have a car or a huge home, but they enjoy fine dining experiences and being with family.

If marketers can find a way to make shopping and buying an experience again, they will be successful in today’s market. Take Apple for example. They have created a shopping environment that is not only an experience, but a place where consumers know they are going to get outstanding customer service, and have the ear of an employee for as long as they need to make a purchase decision.

Here are some questions to think about if your brand needs a boost:

  • What need does your product or service fulfill?
  • Does your brand invoke an emotional reaction?
  • If so, how do you or will you capitalize on it?
  • Is your product or service something you can turn into an experience?

How to Develop Your Social Media Strategy Part 2

3 Aug

After you evaluate where you stand, you should now be equipped with enough information to make an informed decision about the sites you want to maintain a profile on. Define your list of social sites for your company, and then determine how much time and resources you would like to dedicate to the social marketing strategy.

Social Media Landscape
FredCavazza.net

If it makes more sense to focus on B2B leads for your company than B2C, go after professional networks, microblogs, social newswires, listing services and start thinking about developing your company blog if you haven’t already done so. If you are focused on B2C, definitely go after websites that your customers are on like social networks, sales/deal websites, social bookmarking, product/service review websites, and blogs. We are no longer in an age where pushing a marketing message works. You MUST stay actively engaged with your audience (whether B2B or B2C), and be true to your brand.

Once you develop a strategy, give yourself a time frame and goals. Gauge how much time you need to spend on each website based on what your company’s overall marketing goals are. If you want to engage with customers, you will spend more time on developing relationships on Facebook and Twitter than you will promoting your product or service on YouTube. If you rely heavily on viral video to promote your product or service, develop a YouTube following and don’t spend as much time on Flickr.

(Side note – video is becoming the most popular way to consume media. If video isn’t part of your strategy, media production companies can help you with content.)

Expect to spend no less than 6 hours a week on implementing your social strategy, and don’t get frustrated! It can take as long as a year to develop a 2,000+ following of legitimate Twitter friends. Would you rather have 30 qualified sales leads or 3,000 unqualified sales leads? Think about the quality of your friends/followers in the same manner. 3,000 people unready to buy could be considered a waste of your time! Any marketing and advertising agency will agree.

What is the biggest reason you want to get involved with social media? How are you going to go about using social media to achieve your company’s overall marketing goals?

How to Develop Your Social Media Strategy Part 1

2 Aug

How do you know if a social marketing campaign is for you? Here are some indicators:

  1. People are already talking about you online
  2. You have great employees who want to talk about your company
  3. You have a small advertising or marketing budget and are looking to get the most bang for your buck
  4. Your company culture is so fun that random people start showing up at your company parties
  5. Philanthropy is part of your company culture and you want people to know about it and support it

social-media-bandwagonIf you don’t like talking to customers, or don’t believe in word-of-mouth marketing, social media is decidedly not for you. But if you read any of the 5 points above and thought “YES!” then you are ready to start thinking about your social marketing strategy!

So how do you get started? Think back to your original marketing plan. Most likely, you spent a great deal of time thinking about strategic business planning for different phases of growth for your business. You, or your marketing consultants, defined your target market, the 4P’s, your competitive advantage, and conducted marketing research. Keep all of those items in mind when you develop your social marketing strategy.

What you want to do first is define your target audience. Who is it? Where do they hang out online? Not sure? Check out websites like Quantcast.com to see who is on each network. How do customers try to find you? What types of keywords do they type into Google to find your product or service? You can answer these questions by utilizing services like Google’s “Wonder Wheel” or Google’s “Keyword Tool – AdWords” and by conducting informal surveys at your place of business or through your email marketing.

Compile these keywords into a list and save them. You will need them because they will serve as a guide of keywords to include in things like your website’s “meta tags” and even give you ideas on what types of blogs and content to post to your other online touch points.

The next thing to do is listen. Set up Google alerts for the topics that apply to your business, as well as the name of your business. It’s a great way to start listening to the culture online and gauge sentiment. It’s also a great way to find where potential customers and existing customers are already talking about you. In addition to Google alerts, you can use services like Technorati.com and Hootsuite.com to monitor sentiment and conversation on blogs, microblogs, social bookmarking sites and social networks.

Marketing PlanNow that you have your target market defined and have an understanding of the online culture, it is time to evaluate where your company stands online. If you are a bank, can you find your website by typing in your company name into Google? What about if you type in “bank + city”? Where does your website rank? Is it on the front page of Google, or is it on page 15? Compile a list of online touch points and evaluate how they rank in search, what the traffic is like, and how many people are interacting with your existing content.