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Reward Your Best Customers

A loyalty program can cement customers to your side and keep them returning over and over again.

Most famous for his salivating dogs, psychologist Ivan Pavlov had the right idea—if you want a behavior to persist, you have to reward it. It’s a powerful lesson that small business owners should use in their worlds. How so? A loyalty program can cement customers to your side and keep them returning over and over again. People like to be rewarded for their loyalty. “The reward doesn’t have to be huge, but it should show that you acknowledge and appreciate their business.

Please understand there’s no loyalty program in the world that will keep customers coming back in the face of rude or inept customer service, poor product quality or bad outcomes. That being said (and assuming you have an expert handle on those aspects of your business), implementing an effective loyalty program can provide a welcome boost to your bottom line.

A successful loyalty program should be:

  • Straightforward for customers, the business owner, and staff.
  • Meaningful to customers, not just any old value-add.
  • Easily obtainable, with few hoops to jump through.
  • Built on clear, and very specific, goals for the business.

There are oodles of loyalty program software options on the market. And these might be a good way to go for some small businesses but can prove expensive if just starting out. There’s nothing wrong with taking an old-school stamp or punch-card approach, which many small businesses still utilize. The stamp program is designed to encourage repeat visits, make sure the program is uncomplicated (for every $100 spent, $10  is taken off the next purchase), and easy for customers to remember and for the staff to track.

Before launching a program, a bit of homework is required, such as taking a look at customer traffic and inventory trends and identifying the behavior you want to encourage. We recommend figuring out how you’re going to track the behavior or purchases, the reward increments, and what you’ll reward.

There are also a few things to avoid, stay away from tiered programs, such as: spend $50 and you get ABC or spend $100 and you get XYZ. These can be too complicated and time-consuming to manage. Also, avoid an expiration date on your reward—remember the goal is to build retention, and the last thing you want to do is disappoint a customer. Points that expire are bad. You’re forcing the customer to purchase when they may not need to because if they don’t, they end up losing their points and starting over again. These kinds of programs can backfire. They end up annoying people and making them less loyal instead.

 By By Karen Vujnovic,

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

Social Media Mistakes To Avoid

Make sure you’re not making these common mistakes on social media—and weakening your efforts to reach new customers.

You’re likely quite proficient using social media in your personal life, but deploying it effectively for business purposes is an entirely different prospect. Appreciating this reality is one of the first steps when it comes to avoiding the kinds of social media mistakes that can undermine your brand.

Of course, you know not to post controversial or questionable content that could offend, insult or otherwise drive people away. And you also know to keep emotions in check, responding with professionalism to any critical comments about your products or services. But when it comes to social media, there are other, less apparent, missteps that small business owners commonly make that can weaken efforts to truly connect; errors that you might unknowingly be committing.

One of the most common gaffes is thinking about social media as a way to advertise, rather than as a tool for connecting with people. Using social media to broadcast a campaign or initiative isn’t social media. Businesses need to stop tweeting so much and listen to what their followers are saying about their brands on social media. Too many businesses put emphasis on how many Facebook or Twitter followers they have or how many impressions they can get from a social media campaign. They’re skipping the most important step … connection, which leads to trust, loyalty, and relationships.

Common social media mistakes:

  • Confining social media to short-term campaigns or initiatives.
  • Making decisions without knowledge or full understanding of social media.
  • Allowing interns to set strategy.
  • Giving a public relations agency full authority to handle efforts.

Businesses can’t only use social media when it’s convenient for them and expects customers to remain engaged. A perfect example was during the last Olympics, Procter and Gamble had an amazing campaign about women and what inspired them. It was real and engaging. But the minute the Olympics ended, the campaign ended. It could have been ongoing.

In order to make intelligent decisions about social media and what platforms to use, small-business owners should make a concerted effort to understand these platforms, their differences and the purposes they serve. Although it’s tempting to assign this task to just any employee, we caution against this, as well as giving interns free rein to devise the strategy. Just because your interns understand social media platforms, it doesn’t mean they understand your marketing and brand. It’s fine to let them execute your campaigns, especially in a small business that may not be able to afford a lot of employees, but don’t let the intern build your social media strategy.

Small-business owners should also appreciate the differences between a public relations agency and one that specializes in social media. Social media is about building connections and this involves a fair amount of thoughtful and well-planned sharing—which is in direct contrast to the mindset of most agencies. The DNA of public relations firms is ‘less is more and control the message.’ The DNA of social media that you want to embrace is to give out as much information as possible, see where it leads, and then join in and guide the conversation.

If there’s money in the budget for outsourced help, agencies specializing in social media are typically a better option, but it’s vital to confirm that the team understands your brand and voice and that they have sufficient personnel to handle the task and remember It’s not about numbers; it’s about connections. Focus on engagement, sharing and connection metrics.

By Manta

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

 

It was Neale Donald Walsch who said: "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

And it cannot be truer if you think of life as the journey towards our purpose, our true calling, the fulfillment of our true potential.

Most people live out their lives in their comfort zones. Afraid to change, afraid to step out, afraid of the unknown, they stay where they feel safe and where they know all the rules of the game.

Then there are the rest, who take those steps, who embrace change and who leap into the unknown, for they know that true human potential knows no bounds.

They know that staying in your comfort zone is the greatest evil you could fall prey for.

Test your limits

How often do you test your limits?

Most of us live our lives within the limits that we have set for ourselves regarding what we are capable of achieving.

These limits are born out of fear. We dread what lies beyond what we already know. People are not even ready to imagine a situation where they overcome these fears.

What do you do when somebody asks you to run a marathon? What about writing a novel? What about speaking in public? And many other things like that?

Sure we admire people who do all these things. But when it comes to doing one of these ourselves, we invent a dozen excuses as to why “I” cannot be doing it.

The mere thought of doing something that they have not done before makes most of us uncomfortable and defensive. And then we see and hear only what makes us feel safe. All the possibilities that lie beyond the fear are not seen or considered.

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is the limitation. Look with your understanding. Find what you already know and you will see the way to fly” – Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Know that there is no human endeavor that is impossible for you.

You don’t need to always stand on the sidelines and admire the marathon runners. You could be running it too. You can write a novel. You can do a speech and receive a standing ovation from the crowd. No, not in a day, but definitely.

The first step is to step over the fear. Get out of your comfort zone.

Remember, what makes you comfortable never lets you grow.
Use comfort as a flag

One of the best ways to avoid falling prey to the lure of comfort is to use it against itself. Be aware of the time when life seems to be too comfortable. Look at the situation with the understanding that you are capable of achieving anything.

Most of the time, what we call comfortable is what our mind conditions us to believe is comfortable. Most of the time, we settle in our comfort zones, we are settling for mediocrity. Those boundaries that your mind constantly reminds you to not cross, those were placed there by your mind itself, and they do not in any way represent your potential.

And when you recognize this and deliberately push the limits you have set for yourself, you start seeing that there is a whole new world out there, that is far more satisfying than what you were comfortable with earlier.

Embrace change

If there is one thing that is sure to come your way in life, it is changing.

Everything in life is gonna change at one point. Even if you cannot fathom the reasons at this point in life, the changes are gonna happen whether you like them or not. The only way to deal with change is to embrace it.

Those who try to resist change are the ones who dwell in past and live in constant misery.

Being attached to your comfort zone can cause so much sloth and inertia that you start resisting change. When you are comfortable, it’s very easy to believe that change is something that happens to other people and that what you are enjoying now will remain so forever.

Even if you believe that change will come sooner or later, you may dismiss it with the thought that you will adapt to it when it arrives.

This is a mental trap. Not only will you be unprepared for the change, but when it comes, your attachment to your comfort zone will make you cling on to the past and make life miserable for you.

The best way to beat this is to embrace change even before it comes knocking on your door.

When you realize that you’ve been in the comfort zone for too long, when you recognize that your growth is stagnating, when you realize that you have not done anything new or exciting for the last one year, call Mr.Change in.

Make changes, big changes to your life. Learn where you want to take your life and move in that direction.

If that calls for a career change, do it. If that calls for a change in a relationship, do it. If that calls for a change in where you live, do it.

Make the changes that you were afraid to make all along.

Ask questions to yourself and realize the limits you have placed upon yourself. Push them. Break them.

Let go of the limiting beliefs and thought patterns that don’t serve you in attaining your goals.

This new year, trace the ends of your comfort zone and take the step beyond. Life begins there.

Written by Vinod.

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

How Your Small Business Can Compete With The Big Guys

You don’t have to compete on price with big corporations. Instead, focus on what makes your small business unique.

Thinking about the competition is enough to keep a small business owner tossing and turning all night. And based on what you know, this seems understandable. After all, how are you supposed to go up against larger, well-established competitors? What chance do you have? Just who do you think you are?

Well, it turns out you’re quite something! There are loads of reasons why competitors, no matter their size, should be losing sleep over you. There’s never been a better time for small businesses—and the movement to shop local and shop small is on the rise. Customers seek to make personal connections now more than ever, and it’s far easier to get this extra attention from a small business. Consider the popularity of farmers markets, or craft-beer breweries, or service companies that latch on to the local community for their brand.

Worry can paralyze people. If you pay too much attention to what the competition is doing, they end up guiding your strategy, not you. You do need to be aware of what they’re doing, but the key thing is to focus on what you’re doing right.

A common concern is pricing—it’s pretty much impossible to compete against the muscular purchasing power of large corporations. And although there will always be consumers who are entirely price-driven, for a great many people, pricing alone isn’t the determining factor. Capitalizing on areas where you can deliver a better experience can make all the difference.

Try to:

  • Focus on customer service with a personal touch.
  • Empower staff to get to know customers and act on needs.
  • Provide special perks and deliver personally (e.g., educational seminars online or in-person).
  • Get involved in the community beyond donating funds (e.g., staff volunteer days or sponsor a local sports team).

Since they are generally closely connected, small businesses are more responsive to customers. They can act swiftly as there aren’t layers of management to work through in order to make specific customer accommodations. This kind of speed and agility ranks high with most consumers. Isolating what changes you can make to set your business apart from the big guys, whether that’s in your sales cycle, general customer service or retention strategies, (and actually making those changes) will set your business apart.

The size of your business doesn’t necessarily matter. Sure bigger companies have lower prices, but if you’re a small business, you’re operating in a whole different way and going after a different customer. Focus on really knowing your customers, giving them what they want, serving them well and wowing them. You’ll find there’s plenty of room for competition.

By Manta

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

How to Get the Most out of the Marketing Agency you Hire

If you, as a business owner or manager, are able to find the right marketing agency, this new relationship will probably result in great things for your company. However, just finding the right marketing agency is not enough. You also need to have a great relationship where you get the most out of the professionals you hire, their expertise, their tools and their experience.

This is exactly what we will be talking about today –getting the most out of the marketing agency you hire.

Make Sure They Are the Right Hire

Even in today's world, where the web is packed full of information on just about anyone and anything, there are businesses and business decision-makers who hire the wrong marketing agency, for whatever the reason. Sometimes they think the most expensive is the best or that the cheapest will get them at least something. Others do not bother to find out how this marketing agency fared in their industry in the past, while some do not even bother sitting down with the agency people.

In order to have a great relationship with your marketing agency and get everything you deserve from them, you have to be 100% sure they are the right agency for you. Or at least 98% sure. They need to be experienced (sometimes a super-fresh agency can also be good), they have to know your industry or at least be ready to learn about it, and they need to be up to date on the latest marketing developments and trends.

Above everything else, they need to be willing to tell you exactly what they will do for you and what kind of results they will provide for you. If they start throwing buzzwords at you and they do not give you cold, hard numbers, search on.

Be Clear Where You Stand

A relatively common issue in the client-agency relationship is that the client either does not know what they want or they do not know how to convey it to the agency they hired.

Because of this, it is always a good idea to find out something about the basics of marketing, if nothing else. Depending on the kind of work your company needs doing, this can involve everything from branding, advertising to online marketing and some more specialized types of the art.

When conveying your message to the agency, it is absolutely crucial to be as direct and as forward as you can be. If you are looking for an increase in customer base, tell them what you had in mind. If you are looking for a specific increase in revenue, tell them that. Make sure everyone is on the same page when KPIs are in question.

They will let you know whether they can do it or not. It is essential you agree on the basics and that nothing is left unsaid because you think there is no need to say it out loud.

Nurture Constant Communication

Once you talk about your macro goals with your marketing agency, your relationship has only begun. It is now time to keep the lines of communication open and make sure everyone is clearing up everything that might be unclear.

For example, if someone from your company notices that the new marketing campaign is perhaps misinterpreting some of the data or a relationship you have with your customers; it is essential that you inform your marketing agency of this and that they make a correction.

If your marketing agency needs something from you, they need to know that they can approach you or your team any time of day and night. Your people should also be encouraged to provide a helping hand to your new partners if ever the need should arise.

Constant communication is key if you want your marketing agency to provide you with the service they are capable of.

Stay On Top Of Things

While it is important to be in a two-way helpful relationship with your marketing agency, it is just as important to remember that they are providing you with a service and that you have every right to make sure you are getting what you paid for.

This is not saying that you should become a hawk, obsessing over every single move that your marketing agency makes, of course. Still, you should definitely stay involved and find out whether you are being provided with great service.

Mistakes are human and sometimes, even with the best of intentions, something can go wrong. Other times, the best people from the agency may not be working on your account and you need to make sure you get the biggest experts.

There are a number of ways in which you can do this, from having regular meetings with the people from the agency to employing tools that will track how efficient they have been. If the marketing agency uses Basecamp or a Basecamp alternative, find out whether you might be given access to projects that have to do with your account, simply to make sure they are giving their best.

Closing Word

You should always keep in mind that these are professionals you are dealing with and that they are, in the vast majority of cases at least, looking to do the best job possible. Your job is to help them do the best they can do for you.

Dan Radak is a marketing professional with ten years of experience. He is currently working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies. He is also a coauthor on several technology websites and a regular contributor to Technivorz.

 

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence

Quote of the day.

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race."

Calvin Coolidge

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The Benefits Of Blogging

Considering the marketing benefits gained with a blog, it’s an effort worth undertaking.

Getting your message out there is critical, and if you’re intimidated by starting a blog, you may want to reconsider—it’s much easier than you think. Since it involves writing, the thought might be a little overwhelming initially, but in reality, there’s probably little difference between blogging and what you’re already doing. And considering the potential benefits gained with a blog—such as heightening awareness of your business and establishing yourself as the go-to expert—it’s an effort worth undertaking.

The first thing to understand is that unlike your website, which remains fairly static, a blog is dynamic, requiring a fresh injection of content on at least a weekly basis. Also unlike your website, a blog is more about providing visitors with content they can use, rather than serving as a vehicle for selling your products and/or services. For example, a pool builder’s blog might provide tips for winterizing a pool. A hairstylist might talk about the latest trends in color or style. And a carpenter may list three ways to make stairs safer. You get the idea.

A blog should contain actionable advice, as well as information or tips relevant to your audience. Many people worry about giving too much away, concerned that they’ll lose a potential job, but they don’t need to worry. There might be some do-it-yourselfers that will take that information and use it, but many people lack the expertise and/or the time to do it themselves and will hire you instead.

How do you get started? Try a four-pronged process:

  • Consider your audience and what content would be relevant to them. What are they looking for?
  • Think about what you want to share with them, how often, and how much. (When it comes to the latter, err on the side of giving too much rather than too little. The more you give, the more positively people will view your business and remember you.)
  • Research and use one of the many established blogging services (e.g., WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr).
  • Then, just start typing and hit submit. (But keep it short and use images.)

Blogs should be no more than 500 to 1,000 words. Also, including photos or other graphics, breaking up the text with white space or bullet points, and presenting the information in short paragraphs (with space in between those paragraphs), make a blog more visually interesting and easier to read. And be sure to focus on creating compelling headlines that will catch people’s attention.

We recommend that although you should stay mindful of grammar, spelling, punctuation and writing style, don’t let worries about these issues paralyze you. The best way to become a more confident writer is to jump in and do it. Get started, do your best and you will improve with practice. And if you just can’t handle the thought of tackling this on your own, consider hiring someone to do it for you.

Finally, don’t write about yourself. Content that is just about the writer is terrible. People are searching for information relevant to them, their needs and concerns. You need to write about the business in a way that is important to the readers. People want information before they will buy from you.

By Karen Austin

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine.

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

THE TOP 10 HIGHEST-PAYING COMPANIES FOR TECH JOBS

It's safe to say that tech skills are in demand. And some of the best known companies in the world are willing to pay for those skills. Job site Paysa analyzes over 35 million salary data points for over 100,000 companies along with tens of millions of résumés to paint a clearer picture of what employees can expect if they're looking to work in tech.

10.

 

This online restaurant-reservation service is based in San Francisco.

Average pay: $251,000

Average base salary: $138,000

Pay range: $165,000-$346,000

In 1999, the website began operations serving a limited selection of restaurants in San Francisco. It has since expanded to cover more than 30,000 restaurants in most U.S. states as well as in several major international cities. Reservations can be made online through its website. On June 13, 2014 the company announced it had agreed to terms with The Priceline Group to be acquired in an all-cash deal for $2.6 billion.

The company's home market consists of the United States. However, this has expanded in recent years to include Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Reservations are free to end users; the company charges restaurants flat monthly and per-reservation fees for their use of the system. According to the company, it provides online reservations for about 37,000 restaurants around the world and seats about 19 million diners per month

 

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Mix Up Your Marketing Strategy

If you want a healthy business, you need to mix up your marketing strategy to get customers talking.

The key to a healthy diet, according to nutritionists, is variety. Without this, you risk missing out on nutrients that can support your body’s energy and vitality. The same philosophy holds true when it comes to your business advertising. If you want a healthy and robust business, you need to mix it up, using a variety of vehicles—online and old-school—to get people talking.

But you can’t take a scattershot approach. In order for your advertising efforts to truly work and deliver results, the calculation is required. One of the best ways of doing this is the three Ts:

  • Target
  • Track
  • Test

Target advertising by drawing a clear picture of who your customers are. Think about what’s important to them. For example, are your customers on a budget and therefore price-driven? Or, are you selling to a high-end customer, where money isn’t a primary concern and instead, other attributes like prestige or high-quality or extraordinary customer service, resonate with them? Knowing your customers will help determine the best advertising vehicle to use.

Although it’s tempting to rely entirely on social media and your website to drive folks to your business, especially if your advertising budget is slim, this is a big no-no. You also need to reach people when they’re not online. So, think flyers, billboards people always read the bus and subway billboards—radio, and newspapers and magazines. You need to use a combination of social media and traditional advertising.

Your customer often defines the approach. For example the owner of a martial arts studio in Boston who wanted to reach the parents of younger children. Instead of traditional advertising, she went to the various elementary schools in the area and handed out flyers directly to parents as they were dropping off or picking up their kids. It was a huge success.

With time and ad dollars at a premium, tracking how well your advertising is working is essential. And tracking results doesn’t have to be a complicated effort. It can be as simple as asking customers where they heard about you or including a promotional offer that allows for tracking. For your online efforts, we recommend tracking via Google Analytics. The free (basic) service provides detailed statistics about website traffic and can help measure conversions and sales. You can use the data to figure out where people are coming from and enhance advertising for these channels.

Utilizing a variety of advertising vehicles and tracking the results allows you to test which tactic is right for your unique business. But remember, it’s important to give advertising initiatives enough time to hit home. Although you don’t want to let it go on too long, especially if you’re not getting the desired results, don’t pull the trigger too soon. For the most part, advertising is about repetition and consistency.

Finally, don’t forget one of the best, least expensive, and most old-fashioned forms of advertising available to any small business: word-of-mouth. Network every chance you get. If appropriate, ask people for referrals. Join your local chamber of commerce and small business groups. Go to community events. Hand out cards. Word-of-mouth is invaluable.

By Karen Austin

 

Fivenson Studios is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, our graphic design team specializes in logo and web page design, as well as marketing campaigns for social and print media. From flyers and brochures to targeted landing pages, we aim to bring your company into the spotlight and reach a greater range of potential customers.

Fivenson Studios: Michigan's #1 Graphic Design, Web Design, & Digital Advertising Agency 

Let's Get Social | http://fivensonstudios.com | (734) 224-9696 | Info@FivensonStudios.Com

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