Media Relations Matter

If you are anything like me, you work hard to move the needle. And I’m always looking for ways to layer on different communications tools that can effectively work within existing campaigns.  

Too many organizations and businesses keep their story inside their four walls, totally missing opportunities to expand their reach through earned media.

Why do media relations matter in the first place? Like it or hate it, media is influential in shaping public opinion. Whether you are trying to persuade elected officials or you want to tell your story to a broad audience, media can help influence on your behalf. And for the most part, media is trusted. As a trusted ally, media can help legitimize your message.

Earned media matters. Now let’s talk about the best strategy for engaging local media.

When determining the type of media you’d like to pitch, think first about whom you are trying to reach. At Targeted Persuasion, we’ve found that we get older and politically engaged segments when articles run in the daily newspaper, and we can hit a large portion of the population through the right local television station. We usually aim for the station that has the largest viewership first.

When we need to reach a younger group, we’ll seek out local influential social media stars. Based on the content and target, we will often reach out to independent print and digital news outlets. However, don’t discount the ability of your local paper and broadcast affiliates to reach younger audiences. Many of them have beefed up their social and digital presences. If you can craft a message that resonates, readers will often share with their friends further expanding your reach.

This is a very brief overview, and obviously the devil of any media outreach strategy is going to be in the details. Next week, we’ll take a more in depth look at earned media strategy and how to craft your message.

In the meantime, if you have a story that you want to tell, it’s never to soon to start the discussion. Email us today and find out how Targeted Persuasion can help.

Your campaign checklist

Whether you’re an advocacy organization working on a grassroots campaign or a business launching a new product, it’s important to have a toolbox ready to go to effectively launch your campaign. These tools working together can take your campaign to the next level. Here are just some of the items you’ll need.

1. A robust email list.

Have you been keeping a list of partners, influencers, customers, and supporters? How can you supplement your list to make sure you’re reaching everyone that cares about your product, service, or cause?

2. A well-designed website or landing page.

When people click on that email or social media link, where does it take them? You need a sleek and easy to read website where customers and supporters can quickly ascertain the benefits of your product or cause and how to purchase or contribute.

3. A follow-up plan.

Once someone had donated, purchased or participated, your communication doesn’t end there. That person needs to become a life-long customer or advocate. Do you have a follow-up plan for keeping these people engaged?

These are just some of the tools you’ll need to make your next advocacy or advertising campaign a success. To see how the complete toolbox works together, check out this case study from a real-life (and extremely successful) campaign that Targeted Persuasion ran earlier this year.

8 Tips to Create a Marketing Email

When you’re starting from scratch, writing a complete and effective marketing email can be overwhelming. We’ve compiled a list of tips to ensure that your emails are effective and engaging.

  1. Stick to the point.

Keep your email short and sweet. Only give relevant information- stay away from fluff! Your subscribers have limited time to spend reading your copy. Make sure your point comes through. What’s the goal of your email? Keep that goal in mind for every sentence you write.

  1. Provide value.

If you’re not providing something of value to your subscribers, they will unsubscribe. Who wants to get marketing emails that don’t help them at all? If you’re releasing a new product, describe how it can help them. If you’re having a sale, give details and a big link to your site. If your email doesn’t provide anything of value to your subscribers, rethink sending it until it does.

  1. Make it easy to read.

The easier your copy is to skim, the more information your subscribers will see. Try using bullet points, italics, and bold key information. Don’t go overboard here, as excessive use of bolding, italics, and underlining can do more harm than good.

Paragraph breaks will also do wonders- giant blocks of text are daunting to read, and you want eyes on your main points- so make them easy to find!

  1. Know your call to action.

You should have a clear goal for what your recipient will ideally do when they receive your email. Your call to action should be clear and visible- there should be a big button or link moving them closer to this goal.

Selling a new t-shirt? Provide a picture of the shirt and a big “buy now!” button linking to your website. The easier it is to follow through, the more recipients will do it.

  1. Personalize, if possible.

People are much more likely to read information that is addressed to them. If you have their name from a subscription list, set your email marketing service to address the email to them. (If you aren’t sure what email marketing service to use, check out our top five picks here).

  1. Control your tone.

It can be difficult for humor to come across in a text-based format, so avoid using humor or sarcasm unless you’re absolutely sure that it’s appropriate for the situation.

We know that you’re probably excited about the information you’re sharing, but avoid using too many exclamation points and excessive punctuation. It can appear unprofessional, and even hysterical, if you overuse the exclamation point. A good maximum is one exclamation point for every three sentences.

  1. Revise, revise, revise.

Once you’ve drafted your email copy, congratulate yourself. And then go back to it. Read it over. Check and double check your spelling and punctuation. Errors will appear unprofessional to your subscribers and undermine your credibility.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re sticking to your goal for the marketing email. If a paragraph doesn’t support your goal, delete it or edit it until it does.

Another tip- get someone else to read it over, or read it aloud to yourself. This way, you’ll be able to catch mistakes that you may have missed when writing it or reading it silently.

  1. Add artwork.

You’ll want to add a few well-placed, tasteful graphics appropriate to your messaging. Avoid stock photos, as some recipients may find these off-putting. Keep in mind the medium – you’ll want to avoid larger images that may inflate the size of the email too much. They should also fit well with the formatting of your email.

Hopefully our list gave you some helpful dos and don’ts for your email marketing. Good luck!

The Path To Digital Dominance

When I started my first company over 10 years ago, I didn’t have a lot of resources to make things happen. I had some experience and knowledge from years of working in the communications industry – but no budget that I could build my business with. As I’ve stressed to my clients, kids, and anyone who will listen, lack of resources are never the real problem, unless you lack resourcefulness.

Fortunately with the world of online media, it’s now easier than ever for people who are virtually unknown to the wider world to build a thriving business from the ground up. I count myself as one of those success stories. It wasn’t easy to do though. There were no text books guiding me down the path. There was a lot of trial and error.

Now, all of these years later, I’ve written the book (or at least a book) on building your online influence. The lessons I learned truly made a difference, and allowed me to build a thriving business. I never intended to write a book about those lessons, but I couldn’t resist sharing my hard-earned knowledge with the rest of the world.

The main lessons I learned that I needed to spell out were:

– How to Generate and distribute content (with very little effort)

– How to Build their audience (even if you have no following now)

– How to Engage their followers (even if you hate talking to people)

In my new e-book, Pixels Are the New Ink: 3 Steps to Digital Domination in Your Industry, I lay it out in an easily digestible format. I truly believe the lessons in this book will be transformative for any businessperson, politician, community activist, or leader of any kind who wants to build their brand online.

Check it out here and find out the secrets that will help you dominate your industry.

– Jeff Tippett

Resourcefulness, Not Resources. Start Fundraising Now.

If you’re running an association or non-profit, chances are raising money is already a big part of your yearly routine. Membership dues and donations are the lifeblood of your organization, and a crucial funding pipeline for day-to-day operations.

However, sometimes an opportunity to create lasting impact for your members arises, and you find yourself without the spare funds to make it happen. Running an effective grassroots or marketing campaign can incur a lot of unplanned expenses, but the good news is that this doesn’t have to be prohibitive. If you can develop a message that sells the benefit for your members, you can raise the money faster than you ever expected.

As I wrote in this blog post back in January, lacking financial resources is not your problem, resourcefulness is.  I interviewed expert fundraiser Clarenda Stanley-Anderson in this same blog post, and it’s a great place to start for anyone interested in raising money for their organization or special projects. Read it here now!

You have several options to raise the money you need. If your team is stretched thin, you could hire an outside fundraiser. There are many individuals out there that work for non-profits and associations that are willing to offer freelance consulting services.  Many firms, like Targeted Persuasion, also offer fundraising services for clients who need to raise money for other communications work.

Remember that not all fundraisers are alike and that you need a fundraiser with applicable experience. How they raised the money is just as important as how much. If you need cash fast to fund an imminent campaign, an expert grant writer probably isn’t going to do the trick.

The bottom line is this: don’t let current lack of funds dissuade you from investing in your organization’s future. If the campaign you want to fund is valuable to your stakeholders, you can find the funds. All you need is a good message, a strategy, and a little bit of time to make it all happen.

For more resources on fundraising efforts, visit the Association of Fundraising Professionals at www.afpnet.org. To find out how Targeted Persuasion can help you fund your next communications campaign, contact me at jeff@targetedpersuasion.com.

5 Email Marketing Services To Consider For Your Business

The market today is flooded with email marketing services. It can be difficult to figure out which would work best for your business, so we have put together an abbreviated list of email marketing services, highlighting what they’re best used for. Hopefully, our list of features will help you to decide which will be most useful for your business’s needs!

 

  1. Drip

Drip is one of the newer contenders in the email marketing space. It is a lighter weight program than the others on this list – you can integrate it with your website with just a few lines of code – and it starts at a low price. If you have under 100 subscribers, it’s free, and it can rise to $99+/month for the full featured version.

Drip’s main advantage is in its “if, then” rules. These offer a customized experience for every one of your subscribers. For example, say you run a business selling shirts. Your email has a section for men’s and women’s shirts. One of your subscribers clicks on the women’s shirts link. Now, Drip’s software can allow a follow-up reaction. If she clicks on women’s shirts, then she’ll get more emails from your women’s clothing department, allowing the marketing she receives to be more targeted.

Drip also allows for event tracking, meaning that it is capable of tracking when one of your subscribers takes a certain action. You can then tag them for later so you can market to them more intelligently. Other features offered are email capture, web analytics, and lead nurturing.

If you’d like a budget-friendly, lightweight email marketing service that has highly targeted marketing tools unlike those offered by any other company, Drip may be for you.

Standout Features:

  • Lightweight
  • “If, then” rules
  • Event tracking
  1. Constant Contact

Constant Contact is one of the industry heavyweights. It is easy to use and beginner friendly, and has easy to manage email lists, contact lists, and email templates available for your use.

Constant Contact also allows for email tracking, and it comes with built in social media tools. For example, if you send out an update about a new product you’re offering, there will be buttons for your subscribers to click so that they can engage and spread your message via a variety of social media platforms. Also built in is an image library populated with fair-use images, and you also get a whole gigabyte to store your files with Constant Contact.

Support options are good, with live chat, email, and community support. With the ease of use and built in storage and social tools, it may be a one-program solution to a small business’s email marketing needs.

Constant Contact offers a 60 day free trial, and it’s $20+/month after.

Standout Features:

  • Beginner friendly
  • Built in social media tools
  • Image library

 

  1. AWeber

AWeber is another heavyweight in the email marketing space. It has all the standard tools- email templates, list management, autoresponders, and email tracking.

Its main advantage, alongside its standard features, is its connective abilities with most other platforms that you may have used to build your website. WordPress is one example. You can create a pop-up for your website visitors allowing them to input their emails so they can get your newsletter. AWeber will use this information to populate a list of new subscribers. This is a great way to grow your subscriber base and get your message out to those who have asked to receive it.

AWeber offers good support, with live chat, phone, and email support, alongside free how-tos and tutorials. AWeber starts with a 30 day free trial, and is $19+/month afterward.

With its integrative capabilities and its standard marketing features, AWeber is best for small and medium businesses who rely on subscriber sign-ups to get business returns.

Standout Features:

  • Integration of other applications
  • Templates
  1. GetResponse

GetResponse is an email marketing service that is best for absolute beginners. It has a drag and drop builder to create campaigns, segment contacts, and to send content to specific groups. It also comes loaded with beautiful easy-to-use forms, landing pages, tracking, and autoresponders.

GetResponse also offers seamless integration with third party lead generation software such as Salesforce and ZenDesk. These tools will help beginners to optimize their sales toolkit, and will provide good initial returns on the small investment of $15+/month after the one month free trial.

Support, needless to say, is geared toward beginners, with phone support, live chat support, email support, and a comprehensive help section. If you’re a new business owner who has never done email marketing before, GetResponse is a great program to use.

Standout Features:

  • Drag and drop builder
  • Integration with lead generation software
  • Comprehensive support
  1. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is a robust email marketing service that combines email marketing with automation, CRM, and sales. If your goal is to upgrade to smarter email marketing campaigns, consider using ActiveCampaign.

ActiveCampaign includes an email template editor and mobile friendly sign up forms for your audience. You can segment contacts based on a number of criteria: actions, location, behavior, and social data. In addition, you’ll have unprecedented access to your subscribers’ information– ActiveCampaign allows you to fetch additional data on your contacts using only an email address.

If all this isn’t enough, ActiveCampaign also integrates with over 150 third party applications, including eCommerce tools and lead generation tools.

ActiveCampaign’s services start at $9/month, but can get quite high. If you have the money to spare on an aggressive marketing campaign that does the work for you, ActiveCampaign is perfect for your business.

Standout Features:

  • Combination email marketing, CRM, and sales
  • Mobile friendly
  • Contact segmentation
  • Fetch subscriber data
  • Integration with third party apps

From simple and lightweight to integrated with over 150 apps, the email marketing space is populated with a wide range of services catering to a wide range of needs. Hopefully our list has cleared up any confusion you had on which email marketing service is right for you!

Top 4 Tips to get Media Involved

Do you want to get free coverage for something your business is doing in the community? Have no idea how to approach news outlets? Check out these four easy tips for getting media involved with your event or story.

  1. Do your research.

You need to be informed about your local news outlets and reporters if you want to intelligently pitch stories. If you watch and read local news and keep an eye out for stories pertaining to your industry, you’ll gradually learn which reporters tend to cover stories like yours.

For example, your company repairs computers, and you’re having an event where community members can get their computers repaired cheaply. You watch the local news station three nights in a row and you identify one reporter who tends to have stories about technology. You know that this is the reporter that you should contact about your event, and you discovered that merely by watching and observing your local news station!

Another useful tip: set up Google news alerts for keywords in your industry. This saves you the time of doing research on a given topic and lets you know when issues that impact your industry are in the news. This way you can stay informed with little effort, get to know the reporters on issues you care about, and look for opportunities to engage.

  1. Set up a press contacts list.

You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute when something newsworthy comes up. You want an index where you can easily find contacts to tell about your event. Creating a spreadsheet with press contacts for both print and TV news will do you a world of good.

You’ll want the newspaper editors’ names, emails, and phone numbers, as well as the name of the newspaper. It will also help to have the contact info for community calendars and general news desk email addresses.

For TV, you’ll need the news director and program director’s names, emails, phone numbers, and station name. It will also be helpful if you include a reporter’s info who is relevant to your industry.

  1. Offer photo opportunities.

For TV news, good visual are essential, and for newspapers, photos can do much to flesh out a story. When contacting reporters about your event, you’ll want to describe in detail what photo opportunities will be present.

In our computer business example, say you’ll have a raffle where you’ll give away a top-notch computer. You might describe what that would look like, so the reporter knows what kind of material they’ll be getting if they cover this event. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

  1. Send out a media advisory.

Media advisories will be easier for you to send out than press releases. These are shorter than press releases and simply give the information about the event to the news outlet. You should include any appearances by VIPs as well as the basic who, what, when, where, and why of the event.

Media advisories should be sent out to your best contacts three to five days before your event takes place to give the news outlet ample time to prepare, and so it will be fresh on their minds. Remember that media advisories are only to be used for newsworthy events!

Now that you know the top four ways to get media involved with events relating to your business, you’ll be able to get the free news coverage that will help to improve your reach in the community. Good luck out there!

Top Website Building Services to Create Your Own Site

Need to create a website for you business? Do a quick Google search and you may be overwhelmed by the options. You could hire someone to build one, do it yourself from scratch, or use one of the many free or paid tools to help a coding novice build their own website. This list is a small compilation of some of the best website builders out there. Hopefully, once you know the features of each, it’ll help you to decide which one to use!

WordPress

More than 27 percent of the top 10 million websites use WordPress, and for good reason. It is a free and open source content management system, and can be run through WordPress’s own server. When you sign up to create your own WordPress site, you can choose from templates (three shown below) if you don’t know much code. You also have the option to write your own HTML or CSS code for your site, making it perfect for a more do-it-yourself personality type.

WordPress is fully customizable, with some features easy to use without code, and some requiring code changes. Since the site is used to handling large amounts of web traffic, your website won’t crash if you have a traffic spike. It also comes with analytics tools so you can monitor your site traffic. The more informed you are about who’s visiting your website, what they’re using to access it, and how long they’re staying there, the better you’ll be able to meet your audience’s needs.

WordPress sites are SEO optimized, so they’ll show up closer to the top if someone does a Google search for your business. Social sharing is easy with WordPress, so your audience can quickly hit a button and share your web pages on their own social media, helping you to reach a growing audience.

A good option for a frugal DIYer, WordPress’s free price tag and easy to use design can be enhanced by knowing a bit of code.

Squarespace

Coming in at 12 dollars minimum per month, Squarespace is the most expensive website builder we are highlighting in this list. But with that price tag comes quality. Squarespace shines with its high-quality, minimalist website design. The templates are dominated by clean lines and look professional and sophisticated. The content on each site is delivered very quickly, giving your Squarespace site an edge over slower sites on pages of search results. Security is also a top priority of Squarespace– they offer a SSL certificate to each website every year, keeping security watertight for you and your users.

For the small business owner, Squarespace has its own set of goodies. There is no limit to the number of products you can offer or sales you can make via your website. Merchandising is easy, with drag and drop inventorying, and the checkout is sophisticated, giving you the ability to add coupons and customized shipping fees by location.

If you have the money to spend on exceptional design and eCommerce services, Squarespace would be a good choice for you and your business.

Weebly

Weebly is a web-hosting service that can be free or paid. The paid version starts at 8 dollars per month. Weebly is one of the easier to use web hosting services, with its simple drag-and-drop feature to design your website. It offers templates if you’re not design oriented, and you’ll have the capability to check on your website and edit it from a Weebly mobile app, shown below.

Weebly offers SEO tools and professional email creation – so your site will be easy to find on Google, and your contact information can be customized to your business (yourname@businessname.com). There are analytics with site traffic stats, allowing you to monitor your audience’s traffic.

Weebly is another good one for hosting E-Commerce, as it allows for easy inventory management, customized shipping, and coupon code capabilities. There is no limit on the number of products you can sell through your Weebly website, making the site good for online stores selling either physical products or services.

Wix

Wix, like Weebly, can also be free or paid. If you want to use eCommerce or remove ads, consider the paid version, which can be very affordable at $4.50 and up per month. Wix combines professional looking, high quality templates with drag-and-drop capabilities.

One of Wix’s key selling points is its ADI, or artificial design intelligence. This software can use your previous design choices, or your answers to questions, to create even better designs and layout for your site.

Wix uses an App Market that will allow you to search for the best app to perform a function on your Wix site – i.e. an app that will embed videos for you. E-Commerce is also easy with Wix, which will allow you to sell your products through your Wix website.

Wix’s best strength is its customer support. There are help/support buttons everywhere when you’re editing your site, so if this is your first website or if you just need help getting your photo formatted, the Wix team is easily accessible.

If you aren’t so sure about web design but don’t want to spend too much money, Wix is a good option for you, with its ADI capabilities and E-Commerce capability.

We hope this list helped you discover what’s out there in terms of website creation. Maybe you realized you have a need for tools you never knew existed, and good luck with your website!

Top 6 Social Media Sites for Your Target Audience (Part II)

Last week we told you how Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram can help you build your brand with your target audience. This week, we’re covering Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

  1. Twitter

Twitter has over 300 million monthly active users, and it’s easy to create a company profile and begin tweeting. Most companies use Twitter as a platform where they can share content and interact with customers, network, and manage their brand. Twitter is a more social interaction based service, so if your business model requires constant customer interactions, Twitter might be right for you.

Since many public figures, minor and major celebrities, and other brands use Twitter, connection with influencers is most important here. If you want to reach your target demographic through the other people they follow, Twitter is the platform for you.

More resources: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/twitter-marketing/

  1. LinkedIn

With 500 million users, LinkedIn is a platform catering to professionals, providing a networking space online. If your product or service would be useful to businesspeople in professional settings, LinkedIn would be a perfect social media site to advertise your content.

Since users self-input their position, full name, location, and more, LinkedIn ads can be targeted specifically to certain demographics. If you want to reach, say, high-level business development professionals, LinkedIn provides a service to target them specifically and can be very affordable – as low as $10 per day.

More resources: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/linkedin-ads-guide/

  1. Pinterest

At 100 million pinners, Pinterest is a platform that allows users to curate content, or “pins,” on various themed “boards.” The main benefit for brands here is that Pinterest acts like a search engine, so users searching for content like yours will be able to find it.

Favored by women and heavily image-centric, Pinterest’s demographic will be likely to buy concrete visually-oriented products, such as jewelry and home goods. Pinterest users also use the platform for advice and ideas, so if your product can be condensed to an infographic, it would do well with the Pinterest crowd. Below, company DesignMantic created a dos and don’ts infographic for web design. Clicking the pin would take the user to their website, driving traffic for their services.

With analytics available for businesses to see how well their various pins are doing, Pinterest allows for brands to play around with content and see what gets the most engagement. If your product or service is visually oriented and you want users to be actively searching for content like yours, Pinterest is a great platform for you to use.

 Source: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/pinterest-for-business/

Top 6 Social Media Sites for Your Target Audience (Part I)

Marketing on social media may sound simple, but with so many platforms it can be difficult to decide where to spend your time and marketing dollars. With social media playing an increasingly large part in brands’ marketing, it is important to have a strategy.

Each social media platform has distinct strengths and weaknesses for marketing, along with a sometimes highly specific user base. Knowing the main demographic for your product or service and choosing a social media platform that will provide the most targeted marketing could make or break your brand. Here are the six top social media sites, and who their user bases are:

  1. Snapchat

Snapchat has over 1.5 million daily users, most of whom spend over 30 minutes on the app each day. With the vast majority of users under 36 years old, Snapchat is best for reaching younger demographics, who tend to prefer more interactive and interesting ads. Regarding gender, more than half of Snapchat users are female, meaning that brands that tend to have more female customers, like cosmetics or jewelry companies, may want to look into Snapchat marketing.

Snapchat allows marketers to create ads that will show up amidst users’ stories, allowing thousands of potential views. With Snapchat’s “window into people’s lives” format, ads on Snapchat should follow this model. Personifications of the brand, using phone cameras and first person POV shots, will lend themselves well.

Snapchat also offers users specialized filters to place on their photos, which marketers can engage with when creating their ads. Brand-created filters can be placed into Snapchat’s rotation and used by the Snapchat users themselves. Above, the (RED) campaign’s Snapchat filters can be seen in action. Needless to say, the more engaging and relevant the ad, the more eyes it will gain.

More resources: https://blog.hootsuite.com/snapchat-demographics/

  1. Facebook

With 79% of Internet users logging onto Facebook daily, this social media platform has one of the potentially widest reaches of all. However, the demographics of users vary almost as much as that of Internet users in general, so a more targeted approach is necessary when marketing to Facebook users.

Fortunately, with Facebook’s ad targeting service offered to advertisers, users can be broken down into demographic segments, or even broken down based on their hobbies or interests. With just a few moments spent choosing interests or groups that your customers belong to, Facebook advertising can be highly effective, with up to 89% accuracy in targeting potential buyers.

More resources: https://www.facebook.com/business/a/online-sales/ad-targeting-details

https://sproutsocial.com/insights/new-social-media-demographics/#facebook

  1. Instagram

With over 400 million daily active users, Instagram is preferred more by millennials. With it, advertisers can upload permanent pictures and videos along with a short caption.

With its algorithmic newsfeed, Instagram advertising shows up similarly to Facebook ads. But with its younger, hipper user base, Instagram is the platform to use if your target demographic is mostly aesthetic-oriented millennials. Keep in mind that for content to stand out on Instagram, it must be almost excessively photogenic, so if your brand specializes in visually oriented products, Instagram is the platform to put your energy into.

More resources: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/instagram-vs-snapchat/

Interested in hearing about the other 3? Check out our break down Twitter, Linkedin, and Pinterest here.