8 quick ways to GRAB attention during the holidays

Engaging customers at holiday time

Yes, holidays are hectic for most of us. But there are ways that you can still engage your customers and make November and December profitable months for your organization.

Below are 8 tips for attracting customer’s attention:

  1. KISS — keep it short and social
    Less is more. We’re busy. No time to read volumes.
  2. Offer holidays specials — that are truly special
    Provide incentives that make it worth the effort. If you ask me to answer a 10-question survey or enter a contest to get a $1  off coupon, I might not bother, especially in November or December.
  3. Consider adding a countdown promotion
    The 12 deals of December. What a great reason to contact your customers via email daily. Just remember tips # 1 and #2 above.
  4. Take Tip #3 a step further and add a progressive deal
    Customers must open each email to receive the next — and each deal is better than the one before. With an email provider such as Contact Contact, you can segment your mailing list based on who has opened each email.
  5. Create a sense of urgency
    We all wait ’til the last minute. Make your offer a priority.
  6. Subject lines matter
    Communicate the offer and deadline in your subject line. We’re busy. A well-written subject line may keep your message from being trashed without being opened.
  7. Provide special offers for VIP customers
    Everyone likes to be a VIP. Let them know they are your VIPs. Thank past customers with great incentives.
  8. Partner with a worthwhile charity or organization.
    Offer your customers a way they can buy from you and be philanthropic at the same time. Win-win-win

These 8 simple tips can help you stay “top of mind” with your customers even during these hectic holidays and throughout the year. We’d love to hear your ideas on how you’ve engaged customers, particularly during the holiday season.

Promotion idea: 30+ unique November holidays

Stumped for ways to engage your clients?

Try celebrating unique holidays with them. Here are some idea starters for November:

November 7, Hug-A-Bear Day is your opportunity to hold a photo contest of your customers hugging their bears.

Not beary interesting to you?  Take on National Clean out your Refrigerator Day by asking your customers to find the most expired item in their refrigerator. Offer them 30% off an order.

But for something that isn’t so chilly and that is easy to do, have a Name your PC Day contest. Encourage customers to come up with the most creative, clever name for their PC and recognize the customer and their PC on your website.

November month long holidays

International Creative Child and Adult Month

Family Stories Month

November week long holidays

First week: World Communication Week

Second week: Pursuit of Happiness Week

November daily holidays

1 – National Author’s Day

2 – Cookie Monster’s Birthday

3 – Sandwich Day

4 – Use Your Common Sense Day

5 – FM Stereo Birthday 1933

6 – Daylight Saving Time Ends

7 – Hug-a-bear Day

8 – General Election Day

9 – National Young Readers Day

10 – Area Code Day

11 – Veteran’s Day

12 – National Pizza With The Works Except Anchovies Day

13 – Artificial Snow Birthday 1946

14 – Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day

14 – National Clean out your Refrigerator Day

15 – America Recycles Day

16 – Button Day

17 – Homemade Bread Day

18 – Mickey Mouse’s Birthday (1928)

19 – National Family Volunteer Day

20 – Name Your PC Day

21 – Tweety Bird’s Birthday

22 – Start Your Own Country Day

23 – Eat a Cranberry Day

24 – Thanksgiving Day

25 – Black Friday

26 – National Day of Listening

27 – National Bavarian Cream Pie Day

28 – National French Toast Day

29 – Electronic Greetings Day

30 – Mark Twain’s Birthday (1835)

And of course, take advantage of Black Friday!

You can also create your own holiday to match the needs of your business. Celebrate it yearly, make it fun and get creative. Creating holidays to celebrate your business’s milestones and successes is another good way to draw attention to what you have accomplished.

Whatever unique holidays you find on the calendar, or whatever holidays you choose to create, make sure they are fun and exciting! They are a great marketing tactic to get customers to notice you and spread the word!

Is Email Marketing Dead?

Is anyone reading email anymore?

Q:  What do Mark Twain and email have in common?

A:  Those tolling the death bell for both may have been premature on their proclamations.

If you’re like me, you spend hours each day creating and responding to emails. Yet, there are some in the industry who would like you to believe that email marketing is a waste of time.

I beg to differ. Reciprocate’s results have me encouraging clients (and prospective clients) to jump into email marketing as a viable, and profitable, marketing vehicle. Last month, less than 48 hours after I emailed the October issue of the Reciprocate newsletter, four prospective clients contacted me for more information. In less than a week, each of the four had signed a Reciprocate Letter of Engagement for services!

As a Constant Contact Solution Provider, I constantly study email marketing. Here are some interesting email tips I’ve learned:

4 email marketing tips

  1. When should you send an email for the best open rates? Send emails between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursdsay
  2. How long are the best subject lines? 5-8 words with a maximum of 40 characters
  3. What is the average time spent reading an email? Just 52 seconds. Wow! Be brief!
  4. What are 3 ways to write the best subject lines? Make them:
    1. Useful
    2. Urgent
    3. Unique

The Value of Email

We found this infograph by Smarter Tools Incorporated that shows the value of email in relation to social media powerhouses Facebook and Twitter as well as some other interesting statistics. Did you know that the total number of searches on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing combined equals only 1.1% of all email traffic?

Imagine how powerful your email would be if you sent valuable content to people who had money to buy. Contact Reciprocate today for help with your email marketing strategy.

Promotion Idea: 31+ Unique October Holidays

Build your business and reputation with a little creativity 

Marketing your small business with creativity builds interest and gets your business recognition. So why not find a unique way to get your name out there? Fun and wacky holidays and business promotions can attract customers and help with word of mouth PR.

Confused about where to start? Take some of these October holidays and run with them.

Try October 7, National Frappe Day: ask your customers which coffee drink is the best and offer 50 cents off each purchase for them to put towards a coffee shop coffee for the day.

Not your cup of coffee? How about National Dictionary Day on October 16: have a contest to see which customer can find the wackiest word in the dictionary and send them a coupon for 10% off a later purchase.

Looking for a different type of contest? October 25th is Sourest Day. Run a photo contest with the best sour face winning a sample product. (Thanks to mlblogselisha06.wordpress.com for the great sour face photo above!)

For a more traditional holiday idea, use Halloween to your advantage. “Dress up” your prices for the day, playing your pricing scale as the “ghost of good things to come”.

You can also create your own holiday to match the needs of your business. Celebrate it yearly, make it fun and get creative. Creating holidays to celebrate your business’s milestones and successes is another good way to draw attention to what you have accomplished.

Whatever unique holidays you find on the calendar, or whatever holidays you choose to create, make sure they are fun and exciting! They are a great marketing tactic to get customers to notice you and spread the word!

October Month Long Celebrations

Computer Learning Month

National Cookie Month

Energy Awareness Month

October Week Long Celebrations

Oct. 3-7     National Customer Service Week (first week)

Oct. 10-14 Home Based Business Week (second week)

Oct. 17-21 Business Women’s Week (third week)

October Holidays

1 – Walt Disney World Birthday 1971

2 – National Custodial Workers Day

3 – Virus Appreciation day

4 – Leave It to Beaver Birthday 1957

5 – Balloons Around the World Day

6 – Physician Assistant Day

7 – National Frappe Day

8 – American Touch Tag Day

9 – Leif Erikson Day

10 – Columbus Day

11 – Eleanor Roosevelt’s Birthday (1884)

12 – Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work Day

13 – World Sight Day

14 – national lower case day

15 – Sweetest Day

16 – National Dictionary Day

17 – Boss’s Day

18 – No Beard Day

19 – Hagfish Day

20 – Get To Know Your Customers Day

21 – Electric Light Birthday 1879

22 – Make A Difference Day

23 – TV Talk-Show Host Day

24 – World Development Information Day

25 – Sourest Day

26 – National Mule Day

27 – Cranky Co-workers Day

28 – Statue of Liberty Birthday

29 – Hermit Day

30 – Haunted Refrigerator Night

31 – Halloween

What is Google Plus?

Google Plus defined

With all the recent changes to Facebook, there has been a lot of noise about a fairly new social network option called Google Plus.  So what exactly is Google Plus and how does this fit into the marketing plans for small businesses and nonprofits? The best description of Google Plus comes directly from Google.  Visit their short tour by clicking on the graphic to the right.

As of mid-September, there is not a business option on Google Plus. There is talk of a business option along with a number of other updates and improvements to Google Plus in future releases.

Will Google Plus replace Facebook?

Early on, there was speculation that Google Plus would overtake powerhouse Facebook. According to comScore, Google Plus reached 21 million visitors in 21 days and 25 million users in its first month. Google reached that benchmark 36 times faster than Facebook, which took 36 months to reach 25 million users. Tthe jury is still out.

Here’s what several social media industry heavy-hitters had to say about Google Plus:

What’s ahead for Google Plus?

According to Google Plus Product Manager Christian Oestlien, “The business experience we are creating should far exceed the consumer profile in terms of its usefulness to businesses. We just ask for your patience while we build it. In the meantime, we are discouraging businesses from using regular profiles to connect with Google+ users. Our policy team will actively work with profile owners to shut down non-user profiles.”

In the meantime, Reciprocate is recommending our clients continue with their current social media marketing strategies.  The 25 million Google Plus subscribers were early adapters curious to see what the buzz is all about.  Google Plus is not currently being used by the mainstream. Entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofits who are working with limited resources — time, money, and staff — should take a wait and see approach before devoting time to Google Plus.

We encourage you to register for the Reciprocate monthly newsletter where we’ll include updates on Google Plus and other internet marketing opportunities.

Developing A Social Media Strategy #1 | Socialnomics

Developing a Social Media StrategyThe first step in developing a social media strategy is understanding the impact of social media on everything we do today.

The first step

Understanding the impact of social media and social networks in today’s society is the first step in creating an effective marketing strategy for an organization.  The video below is the latest in the most watch social media series in the world.

Social Media Revolution 3 is based on the #1 international best selling book, Socialnomics by Erik Qualman.The four-minute investment you will make in watching this video will shape your thinking and possibly change your mindset — critical as you develop an effective and efficient social media strategy.

Competing with the big boys | The Action Plan

How to level the playing field


The Internet has helped to level the playing field between small business and the “Big Boys.” Entrepreneurs have the same online real estate as “the Big Boys” — each business gets a Facebook business page, a Google places page, and a main website.

Karen Emanuelson discusses the concept of online real estate during her podcast on The Women’s Information Network with Bonnie Ross-Parker.

The Action Plan

Here are several basic actions to enhance the online reputation of your company:

  1. Determine the keywords that people use to search for your company, products and services. The podcast includes several tips.
  2. Learn why it is critical that you build the descriptions that use those keywords. Again refer to the podcast.
  3. Claim your Google Places page at http://www.google.com/places/.
  4. Set up a Google Alert at http://www.google.com/alerts.
  5. Use keywords in directory listings for your company across the Internet. A list of 15 free directory listing sites is available under the “Free Stuff” tab on the Reciprocate Facebook Page.

Need additional guidance? We’d love to help. You can send us an email or check out the other social media tips on our website.

 

LinkedIn: 3 Easy Ways to Stand Out

With more than 100 million people on LinkedIn, how can you stand out?

Differentiate yourself using these three easy techniques:

1. Personalize your connection requests

Modify each LinkedIn connection request. Instead of the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” email,  tell your prospective connection why you want to connect. Some ideas:  where you met, what you like about her LinkedIn profile, how you know her, and, most importantly, why you want to connect.

2. Respond to connection requests

When you receive a LinkedIn connection request, respond promptly. Read the profile of the person sending the request. If you decide to connect, send a quick follow up email immediately after you accept the connection. LinkedIn makes it easy. Once you’ve accepted the invitation to connect, click “Send a message” to start your new relationship on LinkedIn.

Thank your new connection for her connection invitation. Comment on something you know about her — either from her profile or her background. By clicking “Send a message,” you are continuing the email string from the connection request and have the ability to scroll down to see the sender’s original message, making it easier for you to personalize your response.

If you don’t know why she reached out to you, ask!  Here is the response I received when I asked Jeff Hill, a recent LinkedIn connection of mine, why he reached out to me:

What made me want to link with you…first thing that got me interested was your last name.  Its kind of rare and I know a guy in Dallas with that name.  Then, I looked at your profile.  Wow!  Very nice!  16 people have recommended you.  Very, very nice.  Incredible, really.  Your use of the Summary section–awesome.  Tons of info; plenty of white space.

Wow!  How cool is that?  Thanks, Jeff! What a great way to start our LinkedIn relationship. Now instead of being just another connection, Jeff stands out because he took the time to differentiate himself.

3. Offer to help

Instead of asking for introductions to someone else’s contacts, be proactive. Reciprocate. Share what you know. Offer to help. Reach out to your connections — new and old — and ask them who would be a good connection for them.

Virtually introduce your LinkedIn connections who might have synergies. Both parties will be grateful to you for your thoughtfulness and will reciprocate freely.

Networking online through LinkedIn shares many of the attributes of traditional, face-to-face networking. Spending a few extra minutes to differentiate yourself in the sea of LinkedIn users will go a long way toward your success.

Promotion Ideas: 30+ Unique September Holidays

How to take your marketing to the next level

Tired of the same ol’ promotions? Looking to make things more exciting for you and your customers? Interested in making people excited to come check out you and your business?

Your concerns have been heard and you have come to the right place. We have a great idea for you! Holiday promotions. While this may sound like something that happens seasonally, especially around winter holidays, it can actually take place daily. Every day of the year is filled with fun and unique holidays and interesting ways for you to bring in more customers while having fun.

September 1st offers a good example of a fun way to create a promotion. Emma M. Nutt Day honors Emma, the first female telephone operator. Celebrate her success by offering a special discount for customers who call in their order. And, if that doesn’t seem like the right fit for your company, try September 10. On Swap Ideas Day, get online and talk with your customers. Offer advice in return for some advice from them. Still not unique enough for you? September 30th, Chewing Gum Day, offers up a great photo contest. Have customers submit photos of them blowing bubbles with chewing gum. Give the biggest, best bubble a discount!

You can also create your own holiday to match the needs of your business. Celebrate it yearly, make it fun and get creative. Creating holidays to celebrate your business’s milestones and successes is another good way to draw attention to what you have accomplished.

Whatever unique holidays you find on the calendar, or whatever holidays you choose to create, make sure they are fun and exciting! They are a great marketing tactic to get customers to notice you and spread the word!

In addition to Labor Day, September is the month to celebrate:

  • National Courtesy Month

  • Fall Hat Month

  • ADHD Month

  • Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month

  • International People Skills Month

  • National Coupon Month

  • Celebrate these unique holidays with your customers:

    1-      Emma M. Nutt Day (first woman telephone operator)

    Celebrate US Bowling League Day

    2-       National Beheading day

    3-      US Bowling League Day

    4-      Eat an Extra Dessert Day

    5-      Be Late for Something Day

    Cheese Pizza Day

    Labor Day

    6-      Fight Procrastination Day

    Read a Book Day

    7-      Neither Rain nor Snow Day (mail)

    8-      International Literacy Day

    9-      Teddy Bear Day

    10-   Swap Ideas Day

    11-   Make Your Bed Day

    National Grandparents Day

    “I want to start my own business” Day

    12-   Chocolate Milk Shake Day

    13-   Fortune Cookie Day

    Positive Thinking Day

    Uncle Sam Day

    14-   National Cream-Filled Donut Day

    15-   Make a Hat Day

    16-   Collect Rocks Day

    Mayflower Day

    National Play Doh Day

    17-   Constitution Day

    18-   National Cheeseburger Day

    19-   International Talk Like a Pirate Day

    20-    National Punch Day

    21-   International Peace Day

    World Gratitude Day

    22-   Business Women’s Day

    Elephant Appreciation Day

    23-   Dogs in Politics Day

    24-   International Rabbit Day

    National Park Free Day

    25-   National Comic Book Day

    26-   Johnny Appleseed Day (Also March 11)

    27-   Crush a Can Day

    28-   Ask a Stupid Question Day

    29-   Happy Goose Day

    30-   Chewing Gum Day

    Social Media: How to compete with the big boys

    Understanding your online reputation

    Karen Emanuelson joins Bonnie Ross-Parker on the Women’s Information Network to discuss how small business owners can compete with the “Big Boys” using their online reputation and the opportunities available online.

    Online Reputation

    Every entrepreneur needs to understand that they have an online reputation. Customers and potential customers “Google” everything. What they see when they Google your name, your company name, your products or your services has an enormous impact on their decision to click through to your website or to your competitors’.

    How do you find out what your online reputation is? It’s easy — Google yourself. Learn the best practices for handling your Google results. How do you combat a negative online reputation? How do you take advantage of a positive online reputation?  

    Promotion Idea: 31+ Unique August Holidays

    Do your marketing messages lacking creativity and excitement?

    Are you in search of a new way to pull in customers and offer promotions?

    You’re in luck! We have a great idea for you! Holiday promotions. While this may sound like something that happens seasonally, around the winter holidays, it can actually take place daily. Every day of the year is filled with fun and unique holidays.

    Take for example August 7, Professional Speakers’ Day. Take this as an opportunity to find local speakers and partner with them. Bad Poetry Day, on August 18, is a great time to offer a promotion to your customers. Run a poetry contest with the goal of having the worst poem submitted. Or take advantage of Banana Lover’s Day on August 27 and peel away from the competition with a discount or promotion for new or returning clients. (A search for “banana” on YouTube reveals some interesting idea starters.)

    Here are some August holidays to inspire your marketing creativity:

    August Month-Long Celebrations

    Happiness Happens Month

    National Inventor’s Month

    What Will Be Your Legacy Month

    August Holiday Weeks

    1: National Fraud Awareness Week

    2: Elvis Week

    3: Weird Contest Week

    August Daily Holidays

    1: US Air Force Day (Last observed in 1949), Rounds
    Resounding Day (Learn to sing a round)

    2: National Night Out

    3: National Watermelon Day

    4: Coast Guard Day

    5: First Income Tax (1861)

    6: National Mustard Day

    7: Professional Speakers’ Day

    8: Sneak Some Zucchini On to Your Neighbor’s Porch Night

    9: Smokey The Bear’s Birthday (1944)

    10: S’mores Day

    11: Presidential Joke Day

    12: IBM Personal Computer birthday (1981)

    13: National Garage Sale Day

    14: National Creamsicle Day

    15: National Relaxation Day

    16: International Tell a Joke Day

    17: National Thrift Shop Day

    18: Bad Poetry Day

    19: Hug Your Boss Day
    Sesame Street’s Snuffleupagus’s Birthday

    20: Sandcastle and Sculpture Day

    21: Sit Back and Relax Day

    22: National Be an Angel Day

    23: Buttered Corn Day

    24: Pluto Demoted Day
    Strange Music Day

    25: National Second-hand Wardrobe Day

    26: National Dog Day
    Toilet Paper Day (Invented in 580)

    27: Banana Lover’s Day

    28: Race Your Mouse Around The Icons Day
    Crackers Over The Keyboard Day

    29: More Herbs, Less Salt Day

    30: National Toasted Marshmallow Day

    31: Eat Outside Day

    We’d love to hear how you’ve used these holidays to generate customer interest. We encourage you to share your ideas below.

    SCORE Social Media Boot Camp II

    Take your social media to the next level

    Reciprocate is a proud organizer and sponsor of the SCORE Minnesota Social Media Boot Camp II. Here’s the press release we wrote to promote this amazing event. We hope to see our Minnesota connections there!

     

    Social Media: Do you really need to play the game?

    During a recent appearance on The Peter McClellan Show, Reciprocate’s Karen Emanuelson discussed a number of thought-provoking questions including:

    Entrepreneurs need social media. Or do they?

    The answer may surprise you.
    Before diving into a business Facebook page, Twitter account or even spending time building a LinkedIn profile, entrepreneurs need to evaluate their target markets and understand where their potential customers are. Are your customers online? How can you find out?

    Will social media replace email?

    Parents of high schoolers and preteens will tell you that their students don’t respond to email. Estimates are that by 2013, more than 50 percent of all Internet interactions will be conducted via mobile — tablets and cell phones — not PCs and laptops. How can you best prepare your business?

    Why is your website so important?

    Your website is the hub of your online reputation. Before you spend any time on social media sites or money on Search Engine Optimization, you need to ensure that your website is capable of projecting the best image of your company, products and services.  Where can you turn for help with a website evaluation?

    These are just some of the questions answered during the July 5, 2011 Peter McClellan Show on Business Radio AM1570 featuring Reciprocate LLC’s owner Karen Emanuelson. Click here to listen to Segment One of their discussion. The Wall Street Radio Network features The Peter McClellan Show weekdays from 4-5 p.m.

    Promotion Idea: 31+ Unique July Holidays

    Searching for new ways to gain more customers?

    Looking for innovative marketing or advertising themes? Try holiday promotions. While this may sound like your typical holiday season advertising, it is a year round way to get your customers excited and coming back for more.

    Take for example, July 6, Take Your Webmaster to Lunch Day. Even if taking your webmaster out for lunch isn’t an option, offering discounts to webmasters or restaurant gift certificates is a great way to attract a target audience.

    Searching for a fun way to offer a contest? Take advantage of All American Pet Photo Day on July 11 by offering a gift card for the best photo submitted.

    Want to learn more about  your customers? Celebrate Get to Know Your Customers Day on July 21 by sending out a customer survey. Let your customers know why you picked that day to send your survey. They’ll appreciate the gesture and you’ll gain an insight into your audience.

    Want to get more creative? Celebrate Harry Potter’s Birthday on July 31st with shipping or service fees magically disappearing for the day.

    You may even create your own holiday to match the needs of your business. Celebrate it yearly. Make it fun and get creative. Creating holidays to celebrate your business’s milestones and successes is another good way to draw attention to what you have accomplished.

    Whatever unique holidays you find on the calendar, or whatever holidays you choose to create, make sure they are fun and exciting! They are a great marketing tactic to get customers to notice you and spread the word!

    Here are some July holidays to inspire your marketing efforts:

    Month-long celebrations

    National Anti-Boredom Month

    National Cell Phone Courtesy Month

    Holiday weeks

    1st week  of July:   Take Charge of Change Week

    2nd week of July:  Sports Cliché Week

    3rd week of July:  Promote Playful Professionalism Week

    Daily holidays

    1: Zip Code Day

    1: Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day

    2: Freedom from Fear of Public Speaking Day

    3: Compliment Your Mirror Day

    4: Independence Day

    4: Sidewalk Egg Frying Day

    5: Workaholics Day

    6: Take Your Webmaster to Lunch Day

    7: National Strawberry Sundae Day

    8: Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Omelet Day

    9: Intern Appreciation Day

    10: Don’t Step on a Bee Day

    11: All American Pet Photo Day

    12: Bill Cosby’s Birthday (1937)

    13: Embrace Your Geekiness Day

    14: Tape Measure Day

    15: Be a Dork Day

    15: Cow Appreciation Day

    16: Parking Meters Debuted (1935)

    17: Yellow Pig Day

    18: National Get out of The Doghouse Day

    19: Stick Your Tongue out Day

    20: Ugly Truck Day

    21: Get to Know Your Customers Day

    22: Hammock Day

    23: National Hot Dog Day

    24: Tell an old Joke Day

    25: Candles on a Cake Day (First Birthday Cake 55 BC)

    26: All or Nothing Day

    27: Take Your Houseplants for a Walk Day

    28: National Milk Chocolate Day

    29: System Administrator Appreciation Day

    30: Cheesecake Day

    31: Harry Potter’s Birthday

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