Author Archives: Hilary

7 Big Tips from Social Media Marketing World

Last week I had the opportunity to travel with a colleague to sunny San Diego to attend Social Media Marketing World. Many of the big names in the social media industry were there including Guy Kawasaki, Mari Smith, and Chris Brogan. Our goal was to learn about the latest and hottest trends, and to understand from these experts how we can maximize the return on investment in social media marketing — both for ourselves and for you as you market to pet owners. What did I learn? Lots, including you’re never too old to learn how to use this powerful marketing tool. Full disclosure, depending on who you talk to, I’m either a Baby Boomer or Generation Xer.  So, for those that can relate to that let me share some key points that stuck with me proving you’re never too old mature to learn a few things about the latest trends in social media.

1. Video continues to grow as a powerful tool.

YouTube is still big. In fact, YouTube is the second biggest search tool after Google. In 2015, 56% of marketers want to improve their knowledge of YouTube, and two thirds of marketers plan to increase their use of it. However, both Facebook and Twitter have seen the power of video and Facebook is now degrading YouTube video exposure in their newsfeed. Still, you should create some videos of your practice to share on YouTube. It will help with search engine results and it will be interesting for existing clients and potential ones. You should consider at least one professionally shot video but then don’t be afraid to whip out your smartphone and have some fun.

2. Native video is now the best content to post to Facebook.

Video is now automatically played in the News Feed, which helps entice people to stop and watch. Facebook now even allows you to embed your videos into your blog posts, similarly to how you can embed with YouTube. Twitter has also entered the ring with the announcement of their new Video on Twitter feature in February. Now, instead of just 140 characters, you can share 30 seconds about whatever content you want to share. This is a great opportunity for you to tell your story more effectively and also allows you to show your personality and become more human for your clients. 72% of marketers plan on increasing their use of video in 2015, so whether you hire a camera crew or whip out your smartphone, it’s time to make video a priority in your marketing strategy.

3. Podcasting is growing.

Although still small in comparison to other tools, with only about 10% of marketers surveyed participating, podcasting is growing and 42% of marketers plan to learn more about this option in 2015.

4. Metrics are key.

It’s not just about posting on Facebook and hoping good things will happen. Measuring effectiveness and ROI in on the rise. Nearly half (42%) of marketers are now able to measure and report on social ROI. A surprising 78% of marketers say they are now able to show that social media increases traffic to their websites.

5. Facebook is still BIG.

Even though Facebook has changed their algorithms for businesses to get their content seen, 51% of marketers still say that it’s the most important social channel. In fact, the use of Facebook for marketing is actually growing, with 62% of marketers saying that they are increasing their use of Facebook in 2015.

6. Blogging is great for SEO.

Blogging on your website is a great way to boost SEO results and build a loyal customer following. The struggle is time and creativity. One great tip is to look at your sent email files. What are people asking you? Share that with everyone! Never waste a good conversation by having it in private. CLICK TO TWEET

7. Customer service is the new marketing.

Customer experience is the new marketing, and by 2020 it will likely be the single most important factor in a purchasing decision — ahead of product and price. You may wonder what that has to do with social media, right? Facebook and Twitter have provided an easy platform for customers to voice their opinions of products, services, and companies. You need to use these same tools to “hug your haters,” as Jay Baer says. Use social media as an effective venue to embrace complaints and turn bad news into a powerful business opportunity. There was a lot more great information I learned at this conference, but these were the highlights for me. The influence and impact of social media is growing and it should be an important part of your overall marketing plan. And remember, age is not a factor.

How to buy a car in today’s high-tech world

As technology continues to makes great strides and cars become more and more complicated, it is increasingly difficult to make informed decisions on your choice of transportation. There are several key steps to take to ensure you are making a wise investment.

  1. Research

The first step is use the many online resources available to review and compare vehicles. These sites could include such organizations as caranddriver.com or the automaker’s own sites. Based on that information you can narrow your search and begin your on-site research at dealerships. Once there it is important to thoroughly inspect and test drive the car to experience the nuances of the car.

  1. Budget

Based on limited monthly funds, it can be very enticing to lease a brand new expensive vehicle at a very attractive monthly amount. However, a smart alternative to look at a slightly used car that has already had the depreciation paid for by someone else. Usually, a three-year-old vehicles coming back from a lease is your best bet.  End of year deals for last year models are not always the best bet. Newer, redesign models, may offer substantial features and looks that make the previous year model much less valuable.

  1. Negotiation

You need to come armed with a thorough knowledge about the value of the vehicle including what other dealerships are offering. Make sure you know exactly what you want and don’t want.

  1. Trade-in

Trade-ins represent an important money-making proposition for the dealership and so it is wise to not bring that factor into your negotiation for your new vehicle. Negotiate on the price of the new car (not the payment) and then discuss your trade-in. Another option is to sell your old vehicle yourself separately.

  1. Financing and Extras

Do your homework. Understand the local bank rates so that you can make an informed decision when being offered financing through the dealership. As usual, read everything carefully and never sign a document without fully understanding all the details and facts.

Purchasing a new or used vehicle can be a stressful time but if you do your research and homework upfront the process can be easier and pay big dividends.

Elements of an Effective Brand Identity

If you’ve been in marketing very long you have probably heard the phrase: Your logo is not your brand.
That concept is pretty easy to understand but it’s often difficult for marketers to wrap their head around all the other elements that make up the construction of a brand identity framework. So, in this post, we’ll look at terms like logo, brand, and brand identity and list the 8 essential elements you need to develop your own brand identity.

What is brand identity?

Let’s start by differentiating between “brand” and “brand identity”.  Seth Godin has a excellent brand definition to help on this point:

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

So a brand is somewhat intangible – like an experience. But the elements that help define the brand can be broken down into various pieces:

  • Logo
  • Typography
  • Personality (think tone and style)
  • Customer service
  • Product quality
  • Corporate responsibility

A good place to start the process of developing your brand is to build a Brand Essence statement. This is a single phrase that captures what your company is about in a unique and inspirational way. It can be a great tool to build and visualize your key positioning statements. Often it becomes the company tagline.

Brand identity is a subset of the overall brand and is the visual component of the brand. It is the face of the brand the consumer sees. This includes logos, typography, colours, and messaging. These elements need to match the organizations tone and style designed as part of the overall brand strategy designed to attract and retain customers in a particular market.

Key Elements

  1. Logo or Wordmark
    A logo is a graphic representation of a brand, whereas a wordmark is the company name set ins specific style. Think Nike for logo and Coca-Cola for wordmark. Your logo or wordmark (or both) is the core of your brand identity. You will need several variations of the logo to accommodate different uses. For example, both a colour and black and white version.
  2. Colours
    The corporate colour palette is often defined by the colours in the logo. These would make up your key colours and then you need to choose several colours that will complement those. To ensure consistency publish the pantone, CMYK or RGB values to these colour so that everyone that is involved in creating content can maintain the brand values.
  3. Typefaces
    Decide on a small number of fonts to be used across all content. These typefaces should complement the brand’s tone. Again, ensure rules are set for how these fonts will be applied.
  4. Typographic Treatments
    Beyond the font selection, you must create guidelines or editorial standards. These rules would govern the style of writing so that there is consistency among all contributors.
  5. Images and Graphic Elements
    Again, to match the brand elements consistently, create rules around image selection – colour palette, black and white, etc. Similarly, other graphic elements for website or content, such as icons, need guidelines established.

After you establish your brand essence and identity you’ll want to create a brand guide that will ensure consistency among anyone who represents your brand.  This document will help build a solid foundation for your ongoing marketing efforts.

 

 

 

Does Your Family Need The Nannybot?

As a kid, I loved the Jetsons.  Their futuristic house, awesome flying jet and super cool robotic nanny.  I mean who doesn’t want someone who can whip around and help them keep the house tidy?

Looking to shape the future, 5e Robotics NannyBot.  This robot has an integrated camera so that the parents can keep an eye on their children.  It can follow the children projecting video and audio back to the parent’s cell phone or computer.  The parent can also drive the robot remotely to see a larger picture of the children’s environment.

5e NannyBot has an optional basket accessory to hold children’s toys.

Designed to inspire and connect with children, 5e NannyBot is three feet tall and very cute.  The robot runs on a rechargeable battery which lasts around 8 hours.

The robot can be used indoors and outdoors (in good weather), is available with many different language options and has customizable messages that it can say to your children.

“Parents are going to love the freedom and flexibility this robot will add to their lives,” says CEO Wendy Roberts.

The only question here is does it make lunch?  Oh that and what will the ticket price be for a Rosie replacement?

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village-winter

Tips for Preventing Pipes From Bursting During Winter Months

With temperatures dropping below -10 over the past week, homeowners should take extra care to ensure they don’t end up with frozen pipes.

village-winter

Because water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes, the expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the “strength” of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break.

To keep your home safe this winter here are some offers tips for homeowners to prevent pipes from bursting:

  • Open cabinet doors – Keep cabinet doors in both your kitchen and bathroom open to allow warm air to circulate.
  • Insulate pipes – Invest in a pipe sleeve or heating tape to provide insulation.
    Frequently run water – Allow the faucets to drip lukewarm water in order to minimize freezing.
  • During the Summer or Fall look around the home for areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Cover outdoor faucets – Outdoor water faucets are extremely susceptible to freezing. It is best to always unhook water hoses for the winter. Consider covering the faucets with insulated sleeves that can be found at hardware and home improvement stores.
  • If the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Turn up the thermostat – If your home is built over a crawl space, turning up your thermostat will increase the air temperature in the crawlspace by projecting heat energy through the floor into the space.

If a pipe does end up freezing, it is important to locate the water valve and cut it off. Though using a blow dryer or additional types of heating methods to thaw out a frozen pipe might help, there is still a potential danger that a professional plumber can adequately address.

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Entrepreneur Exposed

If you’ve thought about the possibility of ending up being an entrepreneur there are 8 qualities that are essential in explaining the best entrepreneur.

Danger Taker Entrepreneurs understand that in order to earn a profit they will need to presume a certain level of financial danger.

Company Manager Entrepreneurs have an eager understanding of financing and are well geared up to manage the financial resources of a company.

And, have you thought about……

Organizer Entrepreneurs are well equipped in the area of arranging all elements of the business for long-lasting and current growth.

No, Really?

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