Rather than sending flowers or a gift card, I started a small Facebook advertising campaign for my mom’s retail store, Betsy’s Sunflower in Brooklin, Maine for Mother’s Day. She had no idea at first. Then all of a sudden she was frolicking in customer interaction, inquiries and new fans leading up to the important Mother’s Day gift buying season. I left her wondering “why the surge?” for a couple of days, then let her in on it.
Clearly, this is not an option for everyone. In my case, my mom runs a small retail store on the Maine Coast that is filled to the brim with things moms like. The timing was perfect. It was also an opportunity to do something extra strategic with Facebook (my gift giving needs and for my mom’s holiday biz), rather than just doing it ‘cuz you should.
Here mom. This $30 is for you. Hope it’s better than brunch. Read more
When a potential Vermont small business client approaches me with ample buzzwords, excitement and expectations for taking over the internet in his or her industry or location thanks to social media my first task is to get a read on whether their goals are in line with the amount of time, effort or money they plan to allocate to reaching those goals.
Often times since many social media tools are free, there is a sense that it’s cake. Magic will happen automatically with little effort, time or skills. All they’ll need to do is show up at the party and promote their business. If only it were that simple. Many are initially staring at a recipe for mediocrity and little results for their efforts. Or worse, potentially wasted efforts that get abandoned down the road. I start to fix this right away. Read more
We’ve all seen them. Brands that could/should have valuable and growing online tribes that are equivalent to third party marketing bullhorns. Sadly, the simple realities of how social media operates is not part of that brand’s delivery in the online space. Offering direct tips to help them can even be seen as threatening, so it just marches on. We’ll talk about obvious fixes for email marketing, twitter, your blog, your video and your website in future posts. Let’s start with Facebook content.
Post less. Once per day max. Twice if you have actual breaking news to fit in. Relevancy drops due to over posting meaning your info is seen by less and less of your fanbase. Read more
Yes, that’s a brutally obvious search term in the headline. If you are in Vermont and are either currently advertising on Facebook or thinking about it, then it served it’s purpose. Everyday I am served ads on Facebook for local products and services, which is great! The problem is that these ads are clearly not being optimized by the administrators. They are set up, launched and then hope becomes the strategy. I am currently overseeing a monthly spend for an employer and I spend some time each day checking in on our current ad renditions to make sure we are not needlessly burning budget on expensive cpc ads. Each day I create a few more versions tweaking the target audience, copy, bid, graphic, geography and more. In one day I had an ad deliver high fan conversion at a cpc of .37 and one deliver low fan conversion at a cpc of 1.10. Thankfully I shut off the 1.10 version after its first click. Had I let it run even a few more hours, it would be taking clicks away from my other lower priced ads.
Which ad do you want to shut off ASAP?
If you are spending say, $25 a day and paying $1 for them that’s 25 clicks. If you are paying .30 for them, that’s over 75 clicks. Think about that on a larger budget scale. Holy cow! If this is not something you can or are willing to do, hire someone, or hire me – the simple marketing solution to otherwise complex challenges. It helps if you are within a 45 minute drive of Waterbury, Vt. We’ll hang out.
The times when this is most important is right before you go to bed and right when you wake up. Why? Because that decreases the amount of hours that your campaigns are running unchecked. You don’t want to burn half your daily budget on bad ads because you didn’t shut them off do you? Facebook can be one of the most effective ways to target your local audience, but only if you have the know how and desire to properly manage and optimize your campaigns. That starts with a clear goal, continues with ongoing attention to detail in pursuit of that goal, and ends with a beer celebrating such targeted and verifiable results. It feels good to know you got the most for your money.
Maybe you’re asking well why don’t you just only buy the low-priced cpc performing ad groups? The answer is that Facebook determines cpc price based on a never-ending auction. You only control your bid price and the cpc is determined after it is running and being clicked on. Thus the need to watch and act quickly. You may want to run up to 30 different renditions of an ad group over the course of a few weeks. Most of them will be shut off quickly, the highest performers will take you to victory. Victory being the highest possible amount of targeted visitors or fans for the budget you have set. $100 can net you 100 visitors unmanaged, or 350 if you pay attention.
My most recent client was present on facebook, but was doing so as a friend page instead of a fan page. This meant that guests would need to request friendship to become connected and thus would offer all of their personal information to the campground. Both of those are major hurldes to participation. Also facebook can eliminate your profile at any time if you are improperly using the platform. That’s bad. You also miss out on social plugins for your main website. The list goes on.
“Converting” to a fan page is not the conversion that I’d like to look at – it’s a no brainer. Get it done if you have not. The important conversion to be aware of is in regards to how the newsfeed functions. The newsfeed is where your brand wins or loses on Facebook. You can have the best intentions and content on the internet, but if folks have not clicked “like” on your business, it will not make it to their eyeballs within Facebook’s platform. Sharing it? Not a chance. Sure they could come directly to your page, but that’s just as likely as visiting your website, which would not be taking advantage of why you are on Facebook to begin with.
I’ve seen a variety of statistics in regards to organic conversion on Facebook, meaning percentage of folks who like a brand when viewing their facebook page upon arriving at the wall. These have ranged between 10% and 30% depending on the brand. It’s low. They need help. A reason to join the club. The #1 way to gain more facebook conversion is to make sure that your primary website contains social plugins allowing visitors to like you without ever seeing your facebook page. Yup – you’re in the newsfeed and if your content is good (i.e. inspires interaction) then you can reap the rewards of a growing outbound network. The #2 way is to make sure that when a visitor reaches your facebook page and is not currently a fan, they are met with a reason to click like, rather than a mish mash of wall content. Here at Camp Gulf, they wanted to make the switch and do it without any development costs so a free landing tab for non fans that inspires conversion was the way to go. If you are not a fan, you’d see the like option right above the image on facebook.
Facebook can be a fantastic outbound communications medium, or it can be a time suck where you communicate only to a group of squeeky wheels or super fans. The difference is in how much effort you put into fan conversion and content that inspires interaction. Added bonus - be sure to grab your vanity url so it’s easier to direct folks to your page when interacting in a offline environment (i.e. facebook.com/yourbusiness). This looks a lot better in a brochure or on a business card when compared to ”search for us on facebook”.
The crackpot idea of trading my pickup for an RV, relocating the family to Vermont over the course of the winter months and offsetting the costs by securing marketing work along the way actually panned out (knock on wood since we still have miles to go).
We’ve made it to Florida and I’ve done work for eight different entities since January. The final of which is underway here at Camp Gulf, in Destin Florida. I’m hands-on consulting with a number of the staff here to help modernize their approach. On the docket? Switching them to a fan page, conducting practice sessions on Facebook and Google PPC campaigns, claiming and building out their Google Places listing, and most importantly writing an RFP so that they can tackle the process of building a new website with their design and CMS needs well documented and represented to potential vendors.
Though it’s only mid-March and our plan is not to arrive in Vermont for another month, from a business standpoint, our trip is wrapping up. The remainder of our stops are likely to be of the quick 1-3 day variety rather than extended stops where I deliver marketing services for a host and/or local businesses. What does this mean to you? It means I no longer have to keep the content on my homepage laser focused on RV Park content aimed at our next potential host. Hooray! For me it means more of a focus on what’s going on in Vermont where I’m seeking either two half time clients or one full time brand. Excited to finally be there in person.
So it’s time to shift back to my musings about modern day marketing communications and/or Vermont stories. Well, almost. We have about 1500 miles to go. I’ll take suggestions on what folks would like to see from the South or Appalacia. Here’s a bit of what we saw in New Orleans. They are called Cats Domino, or at least that’s what was written on the paper bag the CD came in. Been looping the 23 old timey tracks ever since. These guys need a promoter!
Here’s a copy of my article that was included in the December 14, 2010 edition of TSIL.
SALES CHANNELS EVOLVING AS DIGITAL PLATFORMS MATURE
Gaining access to large groups of customers by offering discounts or commissions is not new, but the mediums in which these transactions occur are evolving rapidly. Liftopia has been a leader to emerge in this space and currently services resorts across the US and Canada, allowing resorts to offer specific inventory and reach a wider audience.
What’s next? An upcoming session at the National Ski Areas Association Western Winter Conference and Tradeshow in Alta/Snowbird entitled “Channel Surfing” will dive into the topic of evolving sales and marketing channels. Some resorts are moving quickly into this new space while others are using the latest digital tools to become their own online inventory broker.
Groupon is a recent entrant into the bulk lift ticket sales market. Burke Mountain, VT recently reported sales of 600 tickets at a 50% yield in a one-day sale. Keystone Resort, CO saw similar impressive sales numbers through a Groupon offer in the fall of 2009, but craigslist and eBay resales, along with the significant commission, were noted as challenges, according to Christian Knapp, Keystone’s senior brand director. Knapp is slated to be on the NSAA “Channel Surfing” discussion panel.
Direct selling through social media channels remains generally a faux pas, but “Facebook Friday” at Sunday River is entering its second year and seems to have found an audience, thanks to simplicity. Built as an “event,” attendees simply select that they will “attend” and in doing so they get a discount on the upcoming Friday lift ticket. Friday, Dec. 10 saw 482 “attendees.” Nick Lambert, Sunday River’s VP of marketing and sales, points to several positives: the “bring a friend” likelihood, making two-day weekends into three-day weekends, and snow conditions awareness.
Mike Henderson, social media strategist at One to One Interactive, noted that some resorts are focusing on addressing third party sales in a manner that appears to be a repeat of the recent decrease in mainstream media buys. He says that by building and cultivating the audience you want via an internet strategy – inclusive of SEO, SEM, email, advertising and social – the need to pay others to communicate or sell on your behalf decreases. – A.K.
Here’s one of my all time favorite graphics that is reasonably accurate, actionable, and can make sense across many levels of an organization. It might even be so good that you want to print it and hand it out at the next meeting. I didn’t make it, but I sure was pleased that day I found it. It helped to get a lot of people on the same page about how our goals, aligned with our strategy, and led us to the tactics we were employing on a day to day basis.
I'm a PR and marketing guy from Vermont who spent most of the last decade representing large ski/golf resorts coast to coast. I provide consulting, PR, social media and video services here in Vermont and to ski business clients nationwide. I'm also the Online Editor and Sales/PR Wrangler for SkiTheEast.net.
You'll find thoughts and tips on marketing, PR, social media and multimedia production. There's a three month cross country trip blogged in here too. These thoughts are my own.