The Importance of Branded Email

We work with a lot of startups and small businesses that have never used a branded email address. Many come to us with a Gmail, Yahoo, Aol or Bellsouth account. And while CompanyName@gmail.com may seem like the easiest email option, it can create problems as your company grows...

The Problem with a Generic Email Address

  • It makes the wrong impression. - Your customers may get the wrong idea about your business when they see a Gmail, Yahoo, Aol or Bellsouth address on your business card. The most common perceptions are…
    • This business must be brand new.
    • This business must be really small.
    • This person isn't very tech savvy. 
    • This person isn’t detail oriented. 
  •  It’s difficult to create additional addresses. - Your company is growing, and you’ve added an office manager or a new sales rep. Now what? Are you going to create an email address like OfficeMgrCompanyName@gmail.com? Your addresses will become more complex and increasingly difficult to remember as you hire employees. 

5 Reasons to Brand Your Email

  1. It’s professional. - An email address is one small piece of your marketing puzzle. Branded email feels credible. It also reinforces your brand and creates consistency among your marketing materials.  
  2. It’s convenient. - Many business owners enjoy the convenience of Gmail and don't want to give that up in order to have a branded email address. You can avoid complicated GoDaddy inboxes and obscure webmail servers with Google Business Apps. Once the setup is complete, you can access your @companyname inbox via Gmail on your smart phone, tablet or desktop computer. This solution has worked really well for the Rooted ID team, and we highly recommend it to our clients. 
  3. It’s affordable. - There’s no need to purchase email addresses through your domain provider. If you route your email through Google Business Apps, it only costs $5 per user per month. And at that price, you also have access to other great tools like shared contacts and calendars.
  4. It’s easy to setup. - If you are relatively computer savvy, visit Apps.Google.Com to get started. Prefer to let someone else handle the initial setup? Rooted ID is equipped to manage that process for any client utilizing our web design services. Schedule a complimentary call to learn more. 
Instagram Following in Facebook Footsteps

Instagram is moving to an algorithm based news feed. They made the announcement last week in a blog post entitled “See the Moments You Care about First,” and we quickly got wind of the change when the internet exploded with reaction. 

105.5 The Bridge listeners who caught last week’s Web Wednesday by Ashley T. Caldwell of The Modern Connection are already in the know. I encourage you to hop on over to her website to get the details if you missed her live.

Like Ashley, we can’t help but be a little disheartened about the news. Up until now, Instagram has been an un-adultered platform for promotion. Use the right hashtags, fine-tune your timing, gain followers and users will see your content. A lot of that is about to change. 

Instagram is owned by Facebook, and like Facebook it is quickly becoming a pay-to-play platform. Essentially algorithms limit your organic reach (i.e. your followers are only see a small portion of what you post). We would prefer to see Instagram stay algorithm-free, but all is not lost. Instagram will continue to be an extremely affordable advertising platform. Most Rooted ID clients that maintain a Facebook and Instagram presence run ads on both platforms in order to reach a larger audience.   

A savvy social media strategy starts with a clear understanding of your target customer(s) and what differentiates you from the competition. Need help laying a strong foundation for your branding and marketing efforts? Email Kendall@RootedID.com to schedule your complimentary call. 

Marketing with Purpose

General Mills Canada made a bold marketing move earlier this week. Beloved cereal icon Buzz the Bee has temporarily been removed from all boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios (in Canada) in an effort to shed some light on diminishing bee populations. It’s all part of their #BringBackTheBees campaign… General Mills has teamed up with Veseys Seeds to give out wildflower seeds. The goal is to plant one flower for every Canadian citizen, which will (hopefully, over time) promote a bumper crop of bees. Bees are vital to the agriculture industry (all food production, not just honey), so the issue (and this campaign) is drawing quite a bit of attention. #BringBackTheBees is informative, good for the environment, good for the global economy and pure marketing genius! What’s not to love?

Purpose-based marketing (commonly referred to as cause marketing) is gaining popularity among national brands attempting to reach millennials (a group that tends to gravitate toward socially conscious causes). But small businesses can be a force for good too! And millennials aren't the only ones seeking to conduct business "purposefully." We love cause marketing  for a few reasons: 

  1. It's Relevant - Your brand can participate in timely conversations about newsworthy topics that your customers care about.
  2. It's Engaging - Cause marketing gives you an opportunity to connect with other brands. Through collaboration you can reach a new or larger audience. 
  3. It's Credible - Traditional advertising and promotional strategies feel like a sales pitch, and no one really likes being sold to. Cause marketing feels more sincere, especially if your cause is directly related to your brand and target customer. 
  4. It's Fulfilling - Your business can and should give you a sense of purpose, but creating positive change in the world can make that feeling all the more fulfilling.

Bee the Change You wish to See

Like General Mills, we all have the power to be the change we wish to see. Need help creating or executing your purpose-based campaign? Entrepreneur.com  has some great tips, and our team would love to get involved. Email Kendall@RootedID.com to schedule a complimentary consultation. 

Learn More about Local Bees & Honey Production

Diminishing bee populations aren’t just affecting Canada; the problem is pandemic. South Carolina's honey production and commercial beekeeping industry has suffered as a result. Read more about the impact of diminishing bee populations on agriculture here, and click below to learn more about local honey production and bee initiatives...

Photo from thebeecause.org

Photo from thebeecause.org

Know of another local bee initiative that deserves some attention? Comment below or email Kendall@RootedID.com to be added to the list.

Another Exciting Year

2015 was a busy year! The Rooted ID team completed 23 PLANT Sessions, 15 new websites, 10 logo designs and no less than 85 print collateral designs. Every project is special, but the design work that follows a PLANT Session is uniquely special. A powerful brand identity forms when written and visual messages collide, and that is what PLANT is all about!  Here are few businesses who completed that process in 2015...

THE TRADITION -  COPYWRITING, LOGO, WEBSITE & PRINTWORK

Year1.png
Year2.png
Year3.png

BARONY TAVERN - COPYWRITING, WEBSITE & PRINTWORK

Year4.png
Year5.png

SHARP CASUALWEAR - COPYWRITING, LOGO, WEBSITE & PRINTWORK

Year6.png
Year7.png
Year8.png

MCSWAIN HIOTT CPAS - WEBSITE & PRINTWORK

Year9.png
Year10.png

Rooted ID is on track to serve even more businesses in 2016, and we look forward to sharing more highlights with you soon. 

We hope that your business is gearing up for an exciting year as well! If you have plans to enhance your branding and marketing efforts in 2016, please take a moment to learn more about our PLANT. FEED. GROW. process, and contact us to schedule a complimentary call. Until then, happy New Year!

Don't Forget to #SHOPSMALL

I cannot begin to express how excited I am about Thanksgiving! Come Thursday, I will be donning my Cam Newton jersey, eating fried turkey and enjoying some much needed family time. I hope you are gearing up for an equally festive celebration... even if you are a Dallas Cowboys fan.

Thanksgiving tends to be a mad-rush, headlong dive into the holiday season. And prepare as I may, it has a way of sneaking up on me. Things get lost in the holiday shuffle, and I imagine that many of you experience that too. That is why I am reminding you to shop small next Saturday!

For those of you who have a business of your own, don't forget to take full advantage of the Small Business Saturday campaign. Free marketing tools are available from American Express, and the following step-by-step guide may help you to maximize your marketing efforts:

  1. Prepare - Download free materials and claim a free listing on shopsmall.com. You will also want to firm up the details of any discount or special promotion that you intend to offer on November 28th.
  2. Promote - Let everyone know that you are participating in Small Business Saturday! Post signs, send an eblast and spread the word on social media. Use hashtags like #shopsmall, #smallbusinesssaturday and #charleston. That last one will link you to others in your area, and you can even try something more specific, like #shopsmallchs. Hashtags can be used when sharing photos of event prep/setup. You can also use them to preview your offer (i.e. "Visit us on Saturday to take advantage of a special #shopsmall discount! All cupcakes BOGO free!"). 
  3. Keep the Momentum Going - Share photos and live updates on Saturday, and encourage patrons to share photos/tweets/status updates too. You can grease the wheels by offering free promo items or a fun photo prop.  Keep the party going all year long with occasional #shopsmall Saturday discounts and offers throughout the year. 

We look forward to seeing what your business has in store for Small Business Saturday! 

- Kendall Flock, Turkey-loving Panther Fan & Marketing Consultant

Panther fans celebrate "Black Friday" every Friday during football season. Please note that the Rooted ID team does not officially endorse the Carolina Panthers (even though they should)

Panther fans celebrate "Black Friday" every Friday during football season. Please note that the Rooted ID team does not officially endorse the Carolina Panthers (even though they should)

All Rooted ID team members do however, happily support Small Business Saturday. 

All Rooted ID team members do however, happily support Small Business Saturday. 

Jennifer Morrow
Encouraging Young Entrepreneurs

The College of Charleston School of Business (my alma mater) is hosting a contest for social entrepreneurs next week, and we are pleased to announce that Jennifer will be participating as a guest judge!

Project IMPACT

Project IMPACT is for students who have an idea to create social change. Eight finalists will present their ideas for a chance to win $1000 at an event on November 19th at the School of Business. The event will be held in the Wells Fargo Auditorium and is sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship, Enactus and the Honors College.

Jennifer looks forward to hearing student pitches and learning more about their exciting ideas!
 

Supporting Social Entrepreneurship

As champions for small business, we get pretty excited about young entrepreneurs! Our eagerness to support local entrepreneurs has lead Jennifer to a number of networking groups, including a chapter of Social Enterprise SC. SESC – Lowcountry encourages local entrepreneurs to develop businesses that will positively impact the community and environment. To learn more about social entrepreneurship and how to get involved, visit the SESC – Lowcountry Facebook page

Hashtags #UNITE a Community

Bible study resumed last night at Mother Emanuel AME. Congregation members have reclaimed a space that was so heinously violated only a week ago, and families will begin laying loved ones to rest in the coming days. The Charleston community has entered a new phase of mourning and healing… It’s a time for reflection.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with the friends and family of the 9 who were taken. We admire their strength and resolve, and we are proud to be part of a community that seeks to live out their example. 

Messages of love, support and unity are the most important takeaways from this past week, but the way in which those messages were spread is also noteworthy. Charleston’s response to the June 17th shooting has gone viral on social media. The consistent and persistent use of hashtags has helped us to unite quickly and has given the outside world a real-time, inside look. 

#CharlestonStrong

The Charleston Chamber of Commerce has used #CharlestonStrong to help local business owners rally in support of the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund. They created a web page with details, and participating businesses used #CharlestonStrong to join what is now a national conversation.

#ChimeWithCharleston and #CharlestonUnited

The Charleston Area CVB quickly organized and began promoting the #ChimeWithCharleston event on June 18th. Posts went out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram…

Image from Instagram @explorecharleston

Image from Instagram @explorecharleston

Within a few short days, hundreds of churches received the message and were ready to chime in on the 21st. 

The CVB closed the loop with some follow-up posts encouraging churches and community members to share video footage with the world. 

Image from Instagram @explorecharleston

Image from Instagram @explorecharleston

#BridgeToPeace 

The Unity Walk, which quickly became known as the “Bridge to Peace,” was organized by Darcy Creaturo, Dorsey Fairbaim, Lauren Vicars and Gnosha Burk. These “ordinary” citizens teamed up with The Town of Mount Pleasant and The Mount Pleasant Police Department to create an official city event. The press release (available on the MMPD blog) went out on June 20th, and the following day, thanks to a Facebook event and a whole bunch of shares, more than 15k people joined hands on the Ravenel Bridge. 

Image from Facebook

Image from Facebook

Event specific hashtags, which were closely linked to other conversations (like #Charleston and #PrayForCharleston), have and will continue to reach millions. 

Hats off to the Charleston community… to the individual voices that joined to spread a singular message of support and love. #CharlestonUnited 

Google's "Mobile-Friendly" Update

We shared a few articles about Google's "Mobile-Friendly" Update on our social media pages last month, but we feel as though its impact is something that bears repeating.

Mobile display is now a ranking signal for Google searches. The change, which went into effect April 21st, will negatively impact Adobe Flash sites and other platforms that are not optimized for mobile display. Sites that feature responsive design or mobile versions will benefit from the Google update. Currently the algorithm change only applies to searches made on mobile devices, but keep in mind that 29% of all searches made in the US last year were conducted with a mobile device.  

Mobile Optimization Options

Websites that are optimized for mobile display typically feature one of the following:

  • Mobile Versions* - Independent versions for smart phone, tablet and desktop display. 
  • Responsive Web Design** - Websites that scale or re-adjust automatically according to the device used. Responsive design eliminates the need for multiple versions. 

Take the "Mobile-Friendly Test"

Is your website optimized for mobile display? Google wants your website to load quickly on smart phones, and content must fit on the screen in such a way that links and buttons aren't too close together. There is an easy way to test all of that... Visit Google's webmaster tool for mobile-friendly testing, and type in your URL.

Learn More

If your website fails the mobile friendly test, it's time to consider an update. The Squarespace platform is an appropriate fit for many small business owners (from a cost and content management perspective), and all Squarespace sites are responsive (optimized for mobile and tablet display). We believe that Squarespace is a one-size-fits-most solution, but no solution is one-size-fits-all. A Rooted ID team member would be happy to explore options with you! Schedule a complimentary call to learn more. 

 

*Sites designed within the Squarespace platform (like RootedID.com) are responsive. 
**Custom websites designed by Rooted ID feature mobile versions.

Rise of the Rest

The Rooted ID team spent yesterday afternoon aboard the USS Yorktown! We had the pleasure of attending the Rise of the Rest event, which was hosted by Steve Case, founder of AOL, and The Harbor Entrepreneur Center. It was a three part-event consisting of a Fireside Chat (with Governor Nikki Hailey and Steve Case), Pitch Event and Happy Hour.

Rise+of+the+Rest+Charleston.jpeg

Fireside Chat

Hailey and Case addressed a variety of opportunities and challenges facing local entrepreneurs, but collaboration was the persistent, underlying theme. Hailey, Case and representatives from The Harbor EC stressed the importance of connecting with other entrepreneurs, mentors, mentees, community leaders and elected officials. In a competitive marketplace, where an idea is only as good as its execution, Case cautioned entrepreneurs against holding ideas too closely. While some exceptions do apply, the benefits of strategic collaboration exceed the dangers of sharing proprietary information. 

Pitch Event

Of the 8 startups competing to win $100,000, 7 were technology based businesses. The lineup came as no surprise given Case’s resume and emerging trends (like globalization, crowdfunding and the rapid adoption of new technology). Pitchers, who were composed, thoughtful and highly entertaining, pursued the American Dream in front of the Stars and Stripes... 

Photo from Twitter

Photo from Twitter

The Bidr team, creators of web-based software that automates raffles, silent auctions and other fundraising events, delivered an impeccable presentation and took home the grand prize. The team looks forward to investing in company infrastructure that will benefit the local economy. Their software has been tested and well-received in Charleston and is now available to anyone. Consider using Bidr to amplify your next event! 

Charleston Accelerators Pitch Event

For those of you who may have missed our social media posts this week, Jennifer had the pleasure of attending the Charleston Accelerators Pitch Event (C.A.P.E.) on Tuesday. The event was co-hosted by The Harbor Entrepreneur Center and CofC’s ICAT program.

Groups from CofC and CoHort 3 (of The Harbor) presented pitches in a two part event. Eight teams from CofC competed for a chance to win a $10,000 prize, and CoHort 3 contestants competed for a package of business services (some of which were donated by yours truly, Rooted ID).

Two winners, Yawper and Team SpotIt, were crowned from the CofC group. Both were recognized for app development. Yawper is a social networking app that makes real-time bar and restaurant information available to users. SpotIt helps users find convenient parking. Organizers originally announced that the prize money would be split between the two winning teams, but Tommy Baker (of Baker Motor Company) stepped in and generously offered an additional $10,000 so that both teams could take home a full prize.

Teamphoria brought home first place for CoHort 3. Founders Andrew Strickland and Prashant Katwa have created employee engagement software that helps to create and measure company culture. It’s the first software platform of its kind, providing real-time employee engagement metrics that allow an organization to monitor internal interactions. Software features focus on employee recognition, improving communication, capturing feedback and enhancing individual performance.

The Rooted ID team is looking forward to working with Teamphoria, but we thoroughly enjoyed learning about all the C.A.P.E participants. Keep up the good work, guys!

Can You Afford A Marketing Agency?

Hiring a marketing agency…. That sounds expensive, right? It certainly isn’t the cheapest option available to small business owners, but it may be more affordable than you think.

Small Business Marketing Options

Every successful business reaches a point in which the owner can no longer do everything on their own. When that happens, the options are to hire one of the following:

  • Intern
  • Freelancer 
  • Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Agency

But the question is, which one? 

Let’s consider the “leading value” of each option…

  • Intern – Affordable
  • Freelancer – Flexibility (avoid commitment or overhead)
  • Marketing Manager – Availability
  • Marketing Agency – Expertise

We could make a decision based on those characteristics, but a more thoughtful analysis may reveal that those leading values can be rather misleading. 

Let’s draw some comparisons…

HIRING AN INTERN

Marketing+Intern.jpeg

Meet John – John is a full time college student who is eager to build his resume. What he lacks in experience he more than makes up for in enthusiasm. 

Proficiencies – Social Media, Blogging, Microsoft Office Suite

Salary – John works part time for $10/hour. He makes $800/month.

John writes 2 blog posts a month and posts to social media profiles several times a week. He is doing a pretty good job, but website traffic could be better. John has expressed an interest in email marketing and graphic design, but “learning on the job” makes it difficult to gain any marketing momentum.    

HIRING A MARKETING MANAGER

Marketing+Manager.jpeg

Meet Sarah – Sarah is a college-educated professional with 3 years of marketing experience. She’s organized, clever and fun to work with. 

Proficiencies – Social Media, Microsoft Office Suite, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Blogging 

Salary – Sarah works full time for $18/hour. She makes $2,880/month ($34,560/year), and there are other costs (benefits, taxes, software subscriptions, etc.) associated with her employment. 

Sarah writes 2 blog posts a month and posts to social media profiles several times a week. She creates good content, but without graphic design experience, she struggles with visual aids. Sarah uses Microsoft Word to create flyers, but it’s a time consuming process... Sometimes she pays freelance designers to help out when she needs something to look more professional. The best thing about Sarah is her availability! Her coworkers love that she can help out with customers and administrative duties, but those things tend to distract her from marketing tasks.   

HIRING AN AGENCY

Rooted+ID.jpeg

Meet the Rooted ID Team – The Rooted ID team is comprised of professional designers, copywriters and marketing consultants who are passionate about the small business community. Experience and complimentary skill-sets ensure that marketing initiatives are executed efficiently and effectively.

Proficiencies – Graphic Design, Copy Writing, Website Management, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Web Design, Blogging, Branding, Marketing Strategy 

Cost – $1,200/month.** 

Rooted ID writes 2 blog posts a month that enrich site content and enhance SEO. They post to social media profiles several times a week and manage Facebook advertising. The monthly fee also includes website management, some graphic design (up to 3 ads or 1 flyer per quarter) and other general marketing support (advertising recommendations, etc). 

Please Note: John and Sarah are not real people. If they were real, they would probably be super cool, but since they are not, you cannot hire them. You can, however, hire Rooted ID. Schedule a complimentary call to learn more. 

**$1,200 monthly marketing fee is based upon services rendered in the hypothetical example. Fees and monthly marketing services vary from client to client. Monthly marketing services start at $300/month. For detailed rate information, please contact our office for a proposal. 

Keep Your Mailer Out of the Trash

Printed pieces can be expensive. Direct mail can be REALLY expensive. And if all of it ends up in the trash, you’ve basically flushed money down the toilet.

Today we’re going to share a few marketing mailer tips… Specifically how you can keep them out of the trash can (at least temporarily).

Today’s post was inspired by a recent FedEx delivery. Our office doesn’t receive a lot of snail mail, and we weren’t expecting any packages. We were surprised to be getting anything at all, and we were even more surprised by its contents…

download.jpeg

Sprint paid to FedEx a personalized letter and flyer about the new iphone. 

So why is this significant? Well we opened it for one. Had this been an over-sized postcard, it would have ended up in the trash without a second glance. 

When it comes to mailers, an envelope can work to your advantage.* You may not be able to FedEx every marketing piece, but simply thinking outside of the business envelope can help to get you noticed. Invitation sized envelopes work well, and if you have the time to hand address it, I can pretty much promise you that it will get opened. 

Soooooooooooo I have one more funny Sprint story before I sign off… My husband and I are longtime Sprint customers, and last December we received (what appeared to be) a hand addressed Christmas card from Sprint’s CEO. Of course it wasn’t actually hand addressed (under close scrutiny you could tell that it was a cleverly designed font), but I determined that only after opening it. My husband and I thought it was so funny, that we actually displayed Sprint’s Christmas card with the others that we received from friends and family. A marketing piece hung in our house for about a month, and was the subject of several passing conversations. 

Kudos to Sprint on the creativity! 

Ready to put some creative thinking to work for your small business? Email Kendall@rootedid.com to schedule a complimentary call. 

*Direct mail (postcards) can be an extremely effective marketing tool. Cost, message and target audience should be considered when deciding between direct mailer or targeted mailings. 

Hashtag Tips for Small Business Marketing

Hashtags can help your small business gain exposure on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Here are a few “best practices” to get you started…

 #RESEARCH 

Before assigning “#” to every keyword and phrase, it is a good idea to do a little research. Hashtagify.me will give you an idea of how many times a hashtag is used and what topics are used in conjunction with it. Random example… I searched #makeup and saw that there was a correlation between #selfie and #makeup. My brand (let’s pretend I sell makeup), could tap into a new audience (the selfie crowd) by mentioning #selfie in some posts (like “#Makeup tips for the perfect #selfie). This isn’t a very dimensional example, but you can see where I’m going with it. 

KEEP IT #SIMPLE

Don’t go hashtag crazy. #Longhashtagscanbeveryhardtoread and #this #will #make #you #seem #crazy. Try sticking to 1-3 hashtags per post.

#IDEAS TO TRY

  • Host (or Attend) an Event – Events are wonderful hashtagging opportunities. If you are hosting an event, create a unique hashtag (ex. #711OpenHouse). Promote event details with that hashtag (ex. “Join us January 1st for a networking event. Drinks and refreshments will be served. Party starts at 6:30pm! #711OpenHouse”). Encourage event attendees to share photos and comments with the hashtag as well. When attending an event that is hosted by someone else, you can participate in event conversations the same way. 
  • Promote a Contest – If you are promoting a contest on social media, make sure to hashtag it consistently. Get participants in on the action by asking them to share/hashtag for a chance to win some sort of prize.
  • Create Something Unique – You can start a new conversation with your brand at the center by creating a new hashtag. It could be as simple as #YourCompanyName, or you may want to get a little more creative. You could use your company’s tagline or find a clever way to make your brand relevant to a timely conversation. 
  • Join a Conversation – Hashtags don’t have to be unique in order to be effective. What are your customers/clients talking about? What hashtags are they using? Join their conversation.

Want to learn even more? Visit workflowmax.com for additional hashtag tips.   

Would you rather someone else manage this stuff for you? Contact us to schedule a complimentary call. 

Super Bowl #Marketing

For most of us, the Super Bowl is already a distant memory (one that Seahawks fans everywhere are intentionally repressing)… But we’re not here to talk about game highlights.

Last week we encouraged you to keep your eyes peeled for hashtags. Hashtag use wasn’t quite as prevalent this year (down to 50% of ads from 57% last year), but more users than ever took to social media to comment on Super Bowl advertising.  

Here are just a few hashtags that got major attention last Sunday:

  • Budweiser - #bestbuds
  • Coca-Cola - #makeithappy
  • Dove - #realstrength
  • Nissan - #withdad

There has definitely been a shift in the way major brands approach Super Bowl ads. The tone is slightly more serious, with many brands advocating for social/societal change… 

BIG WINNERS: MICROSOFT AND ALWAYS

Microsoft’s #empowering ads were a big hit in my book. They may not have been the most memorable spots, but they contained positive messages in which Microsoft was positioned as a solutions provider. 

The Always #likeagirl ad was arguably one of the most memorable and touching ads of the night. I’ll have to admit that I may like the Microsoft spot more (since it links Microsoft to solutions), but #likeagirl received an overwhelmingly positive response on social media. 

THE BIG LOSER: NATIONWIDE

Social media exploded after #makesafehappen aired. I hate to jump on the critical bandwagon, but the campaign was way too dark for Super Bowl Sunday. It was also (in my mind) ineffective marketing. The melancholy nature of the ad affiliates Nationwide with a huge problem (childhood death by preventable accident)… More effective advertising affiliates the advertiser with solutions. 

I love marketing that makes an impact, but I’m not sure how I feel about ultra-serious Super Bowl advertising. I understand the shift… Personally I have become immune to advertising that is over-the-top silly, but Super Bowl Sunday has traditionally been a light-hearted event. I would love to see more brands use marketing messages that are thoughtful AND fun. Consumers are multidimensional. Brands should be too. 

STAY TUNED FOR HASHTAG HOW-TOS 

Want to harness some hashtag power for your small business? Check back in with us next week for some simple tips.

A Marketing Guide to Super Bowl Sunday

Our office is comprised of Panthers, Falcons and Saints fans, but it’s time to face the music. The NFC South just didn’t produce any Super Bowl contenders this year. 

Oh well, we plan to enjoy the big game anyway!  Your favorite small business marketers love Super Bowl Sunday for two reasons...

1. IT'S A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY

We talk about Super Bowl marketing every year, which may leave some small business owners scratching their heads. Local businesses may not have $4 million to spend on advertising, but there is a lot we can learn from big brands. Pay attention to ad themes:

  • What is appealing? 
  • What isn’t?
  • What gets the most attention (shares and media mentions) after the game is over?  

TV ad spots are king on Super Bowl Sunday, but the marketing doesn’t stop there. Pay close attention to social media channels too:

  • How do big brands encourage engagement and content sharing? 
  • How do they use hashtags? 

2. FOOTBALL FOOD

As far as I’m concerned, there is one thing that is better than the game and ads combined… THE FOOD. The following are a few of our favorites. Feel free to share yours in the comments section below!

Avoiding the Kitchen

Natalie, Saints fan, and Bailey, Panther fan, prefer to take it easy on game day. Bailey recommends calling Wild Wings. But speaking of wings...

Photo from DamnDelicious.net

Photo from DamnDelicious.net

Kendall’s Pick – Honey Sriracha Wings

I’m a proud Panther fan. A lover of both Cam Newton and puns, my 2014 Fantasy teams were affectionately named “Cam Do Attitude” and “Catch Me if You Cam.”

Ingredients: 

2 pounds chicken wings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Sesame seeds, for garnish

For the glaze:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup Sriracha

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

Directions: Visit DamnDelicious.net for the full recipe. 

Jennifer’s Pick - Corn Dip

Jennifer prefers college ball, but she roots for the Falcons on Sundays.

Ingredients:

1 block of cream cheese

1 can of yellow whole kernel corn

1 can of white niblet corn

1 jar of jalapenos

Directions: Soften a block of cream cheese over low heat. When softened, add both cans of corn(drained). Continue stirring over low heat. Add 1/2 jar or so of chopped jalapenos (drained). Add more or less jalapenos based on how much heat you can take. Continue stirring, then transfer to a small casserole dish. Serve with Tostitos Scoops. It's sure to be a big hit, and you can throw it together in less than 10 minutes!

Kaelyn’s Pick - Black Eyed Pea Hummus

Kaelyn is a Georgia native and Falcons fan. Wonder how her Panther loving boyfriend feels about that?

Ingredients:

Frieda's Blackeyed Peas1 (11-ounce) container Frieda’s fresh Blackeyed Peas (found in the produce section)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional

1 large shallot, peeled and finely minced

4 fat garlic cloves, divided use

2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)

3 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For dipping: Toasted pita bread wedges, tortilla chips, or vegetables (beet slices, radish slices, broccoli florets, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes)

Directions: Visit ShockinglyDelicious.com for the full recipe.

Cheers to learning lots and eating tons!

Lifestyle Content Marketing for Small Business

We talk a lot about content marketing. If you are new to the marketing game or need a refresher, here’s a quick definition…

Content marketing is the process in which a business creates and distributes content
in order to attract or engage a target audience. 

Pretty simple stuff right? Believe it or not, it’s the grease that keeps your marketing machine going.

Attract Your Target Audience

The key phrase in the above definition is “target audience.” Reaching a lot of people is good, but reaching the right people is better. Effective content marketing starts with a clear understanding of your target customer and what your brand offers them.

Engage Your Audience with Lifestyle Content 

Content marketing is not a new practice. Marketers have been creatively touting the benefits and features of products and services for years, but big brands (and small businesses) are really stepping up their content marketing game in order to maintain consumer attention. 

Traditional content marketing employs promotional marketing messages. For example…
A company that manufactures surfboards announces the launch of a new product via social media. They share helpful tips as to how to use/get the most out the new board. 

Lifestyle content marketing takes target audience interests into consideration and is less promotional in nature. For example…
A company that manufactures surfboards regularly shares information about contests, videos of accomplished surfers, etc.

Effective marketing strategies use a combination of the two.

Learn from Lifestyle Content Pros

Patagonia produces phenomenal lifestyle content. Their Facebook page is a great example, but they have taken lifestyle content to a whole new level with Worn Wear - a channel that is specifically designed for user generated content. Patagonia encourages loyal customers to share their stories, and it is marketing gold! The channel clearly promotes the brand without marketing/promoting a single product. The channel also presents opportunities for promotions like the “Worn Wear Swap,” an event where Patagonia lovers can trade vintage Patagonia clothing.

Ready to explore what content marketing can do for your business? It all starts with a clear understanding of your target customers and the ability to articulate your brand message. Schedule a complimentary call to learn more. 

Facebook Advertising Basics

Most small business owners are eager to harness the marketing power of social media, and it’s easy to understand why. There are more than 1 billion active users for Facebook alone! Social media can help your business to (cost effectively) reach a whole new audience. It can also be a source of frustration.  

Are you getting very little return on your social media investment?

If so, some basic education may help. Take Facebook for example… Your company page is VERY different than your personal profile. I know this because I work for a marketing agency, but I’m finding more and more that small business owners aren’t as familiar with the interworkings of social media. Mostly it’s because you’re busy, but Facebook (in my humble opinion) does a very poor job of explaining the limitations of your company profile and the importance of investing in ads. They tell you how great targeted ads are and neglect to tell you why you really need them…

Let’s step way back for a moment, and think about how the “typical person” uses Facebook. We log in, and BAM! There’s the news feed. Unless we’re prompted by a notification to go elsewhere, we spend the next few moments scrolling through that feed. We click on pictures, comments and articles that are of interest, and we ignore the rest. If we share a photo or status update, we can rest assured that all our friends (per our privacy settings) will see it in their news feed very soon.   

Here’s what Facebook hasn’t told you (at least not plainly) about your company profile… Your posts don't end up in every follower's news feed. In fact, they end up in very few.

In order to preserve user experience, Facebook limits the number of promotional posts that appear in personal news feeds. They have an algorithm that takes links, language, hashtags and a whole lot more into consideration… Your posts are displayed to a select number of your followers based upon the result.

Facebook for Small Business: Regular Posts vs. Sponsored Posts

The following is a real life example that may give you a better understanding of how small changes can increase the effectiveness of your social media strategy.

Client ABC spends between $500 and $1000 per month on content creation and social media management. The business has a Facebook page with 3,500 likes. 3,500 LIKES FOR A SMALL BUSINESS IS AMAZING! The company posts at least three times per week. 

The Problem - A lot of posts were only getting seen by about 50 people.

The Solution - We’ve managed to increase exposure two ways:

  1. Engaging Content – We do our best to create content that is timely, interesting and “share-worthy.” The goal is to encourage likes, comments and shares. The more Facebook users interact with your post, the more likely the post is to be seen in a news feed. Client ABC regularly shares important information about local events… These posts (which receive a few likes, comments and the occasional share) usually reach between 150 and 250 people. 
  2. Facebook Advertising – Content that features special offers and/or events are great material for sponsored posts. A small budget ($5-10 each) can dramatically increase the exposure a post gets. Client ABC recently spent $5 on an ad that reached a targeted audience of 1,800 people. 

Facebook Advertising Tips

Set a Goal – Marketing strategies should be crafted with a measurable goal in mind. Facebook offers analytic data so that you can track the performance of your post. Evaluate post engagement (audience size, clicks, etc.) and compare that with other desired results (increased revenue, transactions, inquiries, etc.).

Experiment with Advertising Options – A lot of “social media marketers” will tell you to never boost a post. I tend to disagree… Facebook gives you two options when it comes to advertising: the easier “boost” option and the more time consuming “create ads” option. “Create ads” will give you greater control over targeting, but if you just want to make sure a post is seen by your loyal following, the “boost” option works just fine. 

Let’s Collaborate

There may be an opportunity for us to collaborate on your next social media campaign! Contact us to schedule a complimentary call.  

#TOYOURSUCCESS

2014 has been a phenomenal year! Rooted ID brought two new team members on board last spring, and together (along with some AMAZING clients) we've accomplished a lot. Our crowning achievement has been the launch of 19 custom websites...

CALIPSO

Charleston Home Rentals

Charleston Real Estate Group

Deas Heating and Air

The Governor's House Inn

Healthy Plate Cooking

The Hebron Center of Johns Island

Historic Charleston Apartments

Live the Good Life

Lodging Source

Maes Law Firm

Olde Towne Vet Clinic

Pink Dot Beauty Bar

Relish Distinctive Catering

RiverTowne Country Club (Weddings)

Shady Slim's Tinting

Snee Farm Country Club

Southern Ear Therapy

Vencor, Inc.

We've thouroughly enjoyed working with each and every one of you. Cheers to your continued success in 2015!

CELEBRATE WITH US

We invite you to celebrate all workplace victories - both large and small. Share the success of your employees, coworkers and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #ToYourSuccess!

Ugly Christmas Sweaters and eCommerce Success

If you’re a Shark Tank enthusiast (or lover of Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties), this story may sound familiar. In December of 2013, the founders of Tipsy Elves, Evan Mendelsohn and Nick Morton, made their national television debut and pitched a tacky Christmas sweater business to the Sharks. 2013 sales prior to that appearance were $750,000. The company received a $100,000 investment from Robert Herjavec in exchange for 10% equity, and Herjavec describes the transaction as his best Shark Tank investment to date. Earlier this year, Tipsy Elves projected to hit $6 million in sales before the close of 2014. 

RECIPE FOR ECOMMERCE SUCCESS

At first glance, the success of Tipsy Elves seems to be purely based on a funny idea or dumb luck, but online stores can be a dangerous business. It’s difficult to sustain interest in novelties, and ecommerce success is difficult to obtain. 

Understanding eCommerce: Common Misconceptions

  • Running an online store is easy.
  • I won’t need to employ any staff.
  • The overhead for an online store is super low.
  • I won’t need to spend much to promote an online business. People will just find it.

The truth is that online stores require active management, and the SEO game (increasing website visibility) can be expensive.

Capitalizing on Opportunities

The founders of Tipsy Elves understood ecommerce challenges and made strategic decisions to gain a competitive advantage over other online retailers. Mendelsohn, who has a background in SEO, noticed an extremely high search volume for Christmas sweaters. Once the SEO opportunity was identified, the partners developed a unique product in order to differentiate their business from the competition. 

Can a seasonal business based on novelty products sustain this kind of success? The jury is still out on that one, but feel free to comment below with your thoughts and/or favorite ugly sweater designs. 

Holiday Email Marketing Ideas for Your Small Business

Tis the season for email marketing! Your inbox is likely overflowing with messages and offers from major retailers. We’ve been harnessing the power of email marketing for some of our clients as well. Most of those messages have pertained to Cyber Monday or other seasonal deals, but we’re also encouraging small business owners to think outside the box when it comes to email marketing. A mix of traditional offers and creative content will help to keep your audience (prospects and customers) engaged. 

TRADITIONAL EMAIL MARKETING TACTICS

  • Share coupons or offers.
  • Reward customers with free shipping.
  • Announce a seasonal sale.
  • Share an end of year newsletter.

MORE CREATIVE EMAIL MARKETING IDEAS

  • Create and share a useful gift guide.
  • Advertise special discounts/deals for locals.
  • Announce seasonal products or special offerings.
  • Announce extended store hours.
  • Promote a holiday event.
  • Promote upcoming events and activities that will occur in the new year.

Interested in implementing email marketing strategies for your small business? We encourage all business owners to consider their brand promise and target customers carefully before deciding on any particular initiative. Let's discuss what makes sense for your business. EmailKendall@RootedID.com to schedule a complimentary call.