Greg Magnus

AIM Custom Media Websites Blogs Glen Allen, VA 23059

Month: November 2007

What is Cyber Monday?

The term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday; the first Monday after Thanksgiving Day. It is considered the ceremonial kick-off of the online holiday shopping season. Whereas Black Friday is associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, "Cyber Monday" symbolizes one of the busiest days of the year for online retailers although the busiest online shopping day of 2005 was actually December 12.

The idea was that consumers would return to their offices after the Black Friday weekend and then make online purchases – buying all of the stuff they didn't find in their local stores.

Cyber Monday has evolved into a significant marketing event, sponsored by the National Retail Federation's Shop.org division, in which online retailers offer low prices and special "today only" promotions. Here are a few "current" examples: Continue reading

Searching for Business Online

The results are more compelling now than ever. If you think a line item for online marketing in your 2008 budget is an option, consider this:

  • Odds are strong that your customers will read online content developed by your competition in 2008 (articles, testimonials, blog comments, e-newsletters, PR news, e-reports, etc.)
  • Your competition more than likely has a budget for search marketing (either paid or organic SEO) and they intend to place relevant ads in your client's conscious – a click away (display ads, rich media, video, classifieds, sponsorships, referrals, e-mail, etc.)

Forrester Research's "Get Serious with Search Marketing" (Aug. 2007) reports 65% of marketers surveyed are using search marketing tactics.

"Local" search is on the rise and eMarketer's "Local Online Advertising" report (Aug. 2007) projects an increase from $2.9 billion in 2007 to $4.6 billion in 2008 (U.S. total).

  • Your competition is working on their blogs, widgets, wikis and websites right now to capitalize on the red hot social networking trends. 

Frankly, you don't need me or anyone else to tell you online marketing is important and that every business owner should be paying more attention to it.  The majority of our clients tell us, "What we need is a better understanding of the tactics, costs and resources necessary to build long-term relationships with our existing clients, increase referral rates and capture new business using online strategies."  

Where do you start?

Start with a reality check. Do you have a written strategy for marketing online? Do you have the human resources and a budget to support your plan? For example, if you run a small business and you plan to use email marketing (basic strategy everyone should be using now), how much should you spend on generating quality content? How frequently do you plan to update your content?  And, most importantly, what marketing tools do you plan to use to deliver the content to your existing clients and your target market?

  • Monthly website updates (new testimonials, industry news, articles, press releases, etc.)
  • Dynamic blog content – subscriptions, weekly updates with RSS feeds and automated email delivery whenever new content is added (organic SEO)
  • Email newsletters with a summary of relevant industry news and articles important to your clients (link your newsletter to your email signature, website pages, and publish an archive on our website)
  • Participation in social networks that increase referral rates, etc.

A recent survey of thousands of marketing pros indicates that email is still considered one of the strongest marketing tactics (highest ROI) when compared to other marketing tools. (see our previous post here for more on this survey)

If you are a small business owner and your company generates more than $200,000 in gross revenue, consider budgeting at least $6,000 for online marketing in 2008. As a rule-of-thumb, your marketing budget should include a minimum of 2-3 percent of your projected 2008 gross revenue – varies by industry and your competitive strengths.

Are you producing static or dynamic content online? Are you providing your clients with a compelling reason to visit your site frequently or read your emails? Whether print or electronic media, "Content is King." If necessary, pay someone to design your newsletter (custom publication) and write professional articles in your name. Publish your newsletter content on your website and/or blog and publish the articles on external websites as well (article marketing).

Join the conversation – visit relevant industry websites and/or blogs and leave comments (start now, your are welcome to leave a relevant comment on my blog). Let it be known that your company is an expert in your field and you are willing to help others.

As always, if you need assistance preparing your marketing plan or just a little advice on the budgeting process feel free to contact us. We'll be glad to answer your questions no charge – no strings attached.  

 

 

Legal Sources For Free Stock Photos

As a custom publisher I'm always looking for images to use for client projects. Most often, our graphic artists will create a custom images that fits the purpose of the communication. Having the right image is important – savvy marketers know that 93% of communication is non-verbal and that your prospects and clients – are more effectively persuaded by solutions that they can see.

If you have a hobby site or more time than financial resources (i.e., it is better to outsource your graphics to a pro given their importance), then consider spending a few hours surfing for free images. Today, I stumbled upon this site with a great list of legal and free sources for stock photos. Here's an excerpt:

If you’ve ever tried to design a website or blog, you’ve probably felt the need to add images to your creation. It can be easy to see the Internet as a free-for-all, but images belong to the people who created them. Staying legal means you’ll have to either create your own images or buy them from stock sites. Fortunately, there are a number of sources for free images, and we’ve collected them here. So read on for 100 sources where you can find free stock images: and don’t worry — they’re all legal! << More Here >>

Guide to Buying Toys Online

What websites should you visit when buying toys online? Thousands are vying for your holiday dollar but few have the credibility of the market leaders Amazon and Walmart. From a marketing perspective, Amazon has made a significant investment in technology during the past year that puts them at the top of everyone's list when shopping for toys.

With innovative search features and videos on every product page, Amazon has turned a frustrating shopping experience into a very merry melody. They gained popularity over the years with consumers by leveraging customer-to-customer communications; product reviews provided by people like you or myself that have purchased the product. Amazon continues the trend by giving their customers the ability to select the season's hottest toys. 

BUSINESS WIRE, Nov. 01, 2007 Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today unveiled a new section of its Toy Store called Amazon's The Holiday Toy List, featuring new, innovative navigation tools and videos on every product page for over 450 of this year's top toys, video games and sporting goods. Utilizing search features from its popular shoe website Endless.com, customers can now quickly narrow and expand search results by age, gender, price, category, favorite characters and preferred brands simultaneously. In addition, each product page will feature video content demonstrating the toys in action that customers can e-mail to family and friends as well as options for customers to upload their own video reviews or download and print a PDF of The Holiday Toy List.

"Amazon has made it easier than ever for customers to discover the perfect gifts for their kids, by creating the ultimate holiday toy destination that's simple to use, convenient and fun," says Mark Randall, vice president of the Toy and Baby stores for Amazon.com. "The Holiday Toy List is a place where parents can really engage and learn about the products their kids are asking for by watching interactive videos of the products and reading customer reviews and ratings from other parents."

Walmart continues to be the low-price leader but lacks the tech savvy served up by Amazon this holiday season. However, it appears Walmart is making a move to appeal to a slightly higher end demographic. A few weeks ago I noticed significant changes at our local Walmart; cleaner, more overhead banners, and several upscale products in premium spots – I couldn't resist the T-bone steaks and they were excellent. The entire store looked better but the website stills trails behind Amazon's innovation.

Other online stores such as Overstock.com are aggressive when it comes to affiliate promotions and their pricing models but the websites also lack the technical luster of Amazon.com:

Here's a few toys expected to be consumer favorites this holiday season:

I can't believe the holiday marketing blitz is upon us already – shop 'till you drop, enjoy. 

 

 

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