Blog post by: Drew Rhodes, Baer Performance Marketing Intern

 

Relationships in business mean everything, and today, technology can further build and strengthen those relationships. Consumers are placing an increasing amount of trust in what they read online. First impressions are being made through profile pictures and social media advertising, and after a quick peek at a rating, we’re climbing into strangers’ cars and staying in other people’s homes while on vacation.

And while face-to-face recommendations and referrals will always be a part of bringing in new business, today, the battle is also won through positive online reviews. By inserting social proof online for potential customers to see and including it as part of your marketing strategy, you will build confidence with prospective clients and draw them into your business.

There are a few things any business can do when trying to build relationships with a faceless online customer:

 

Establish an Easy System

The first step in building positive reviews online is “establishing a system” that allows your previous customers to conveniently write a review about your company. Unless the customer has had a terribly upsetting or negative experience with your business, they probably aren’t going to go out of their way to leave a review. You must encourage them to do so while making the process as easy as possible for them. Consider placing links to your review profiles in other marketing channels, including email marketing, printed newsletters and your website.

 

Promotion Plan

Once you start collecting positive reviews from customers, be sure to have a plan in place with how you will promote them! Reviews can be incorporated into graphics and shared through social media or paid online advertising campaigns. They can also be displayed on your website to help build trust.

 

Reward Referrals

The best PR is a personal recommendation. In today’s technology-driven world, there are countless ways to generate referrals, but the most successful programs typically present some sort of value to both the customer providing the referral as well as the potential customer receiving the referral. UBER, for example, incentivizes referrals by offering current customers $5 off for every new rider they refer. The new customers are then given their first ride for free. UBER also makes it easy for riders to invite new customers through social media.

 

Conclusion

If your online marketing strategy relies on driving search traffic to your business’ website, then it also relies, to a major extent, on online reviews. And while you can’t expect every customer to take the extra time to leave a review or pass along a referral—even when you ask—if you develop a process or routine that can be followed consistently by your sales and marketing staff, you’ll see them accumulate.

 

If you have any questions or experiences you’d like to share regarding online reviews and referrals, please connect with us in the comment section!

 

 

Baer Performance Marketing is a marketing firm representing national, regional, and local businesses. Our company offers a diverse and fast-paced environment for expanding professional skills and career development.

Position Description:

The marketing internship is a temporary position intended to provide undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity for professional development in the rapidly-evolving marketing industry.

Interns will be assisting in media planning and buying, writing radio and television advertising scripts, writing media releases, updating social media, brand development, market research, blogging, preparation for client meetings, and much more.

The internship will last for at least 12 weeks, and the schedule is flexible. Exact hours will be discussed and agreed upon by the successful applicants, Aaron Baer (company President), and academic advisor (if internship is being used for class credit).

*****Please note that while this is an unpaid internship, many of the current clients provide perks for BPM’s interns.*****

Qualifications:

Interns will be selected based on applicable coursework and experience relating to Marketing/Communications/Public Relations. To be considered, applicants should have completed a significant amount of upper division coursework.

Necessary skills include:

· Strong communication skills, both oral and written

· Intermediate to advanced computer skills

· Strong critical thinking skills

· Demonstrated ability to manage multiple assignments

· Must be a go-getter and possess the ability and desire to bring ideas to the table

To apply:

Email resume and cover letter to Molly Behnke at molly@baerpm.com.

Please check out www.baerpm.com for additional information.

 

Analyzing marketing and communication from an external perspective is a priority for most business owners. However, it’s just as important to evaluate the success of internal communication. This is because employees are your most loyal brand advocates!

And to the surprise of many business owners, employees in 2017 are no longer satisfied with just receiving a regular paycheck—they want their work to matter and to make a difference in the world!  They want to feel like an important contributor to their company’s mission and success. They want to be empowered by their career. Internal communication plays a huge role in delivering all of these objectives.

However, executing effective internal communication doesn’t come easy! Below are five tips to guide your strategy:

Encourage Two-Way Communication

Listening to employees builds trust, and there are many ways to encourage two-way communication, including face-to-face meetings, polls or open-ended questions posted through social media, employee surveys, or town hall meetings with large groups or all of your employees.

Less is Sometimes More

A recent study found that professionals spend half of their work day (around four hours) using email, with many reporting they are working longer hours because of their time spent on emails. Furthermore, a staggering 39 percent of U.S. workers regularly check and send work-related emails outside of the office.

Bottom line: Sending too many emails will make your staff miserable! Emails after office hours keep employees handcuffed to their smartphones and computers. Plus, if you’re cluttering your employees’ inboxes with irrelevant or redundant messages, your email  communication will soon be ignored!

Support Show and Tell

Millennials seek out work settings that are “fun and social.” And in general, people enjoy sharing the positive aspects of their lives with others.  Establishing a bulletin board in the office or an online platform where employees can share ideas, quotes, photos and videos can help strengthen employee relationships and boost morale.

Timing is Key

It’s vital your staff hears important business-related news directly from you. Before info about a merger or layoffs is printed in the local newspaper, hold a meeting. Tell your employees everything they need to know, and be prepared to answer their questions.

Measure Your Efforts

To truly improve the effectiveness of your internal communication strategy, you must first determine how you will measure your success. Consider using employee feedback and surveys to gauge your employees’ perceptions and level of satisfaction. You can also analyze qualitative data, including employee retention rates and changes in profits.

An effective internal communication strategy is essential to any business, regardless of size. By constructing a cohesive plan, you can expect to reach goals more efficiently, see higher employee engagement and, ultimately, increase company profits!

Looking for more communication tips? Click here to learn how to effectively harness conflict and challenge ideas!

 

 

Blog post by: Drew Rhodes, Baer Performance Marketing Intern

What is brand awareness? Investopedia defines it as the “extent to which consumers are familiar with the distinctive qualities or image of a particular brand of goods or services.”

Brand awareness is important when launching new products and services, and it drives consumers’ decisions when differentiating between competing companies. It encourages repeat purchases and leads to an increase in market share and incremental sales. Brand awareness is also very important to businesses that are marketing proactively through social media sites.

Being Proactive Through Technology and Social Media

Because we are in an era of constant advancements in technology, brand awareness is especially important for every business. This is because people always have some type of computer in their hand, whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet, or an actual laptop/desktop, which means they are able to quickly communicate with others in a matter of seconds.

This could either work in favor of, or against your business. It all comes down to how you go about using it and adapting to these many technological advances. Being proactive in brand building through social media will lead to a better brand experience for existing customers while turning prospective customers into loyal brand followers.

The Drive For Repeat Purchases

According to ISPO news, “90 percent of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. We use mental shortcuts to skip the process and avoid being overwhelmed by the number of available options from competitors.” With a good marketing campaign focused on your brand and business model, you will more effectively narrow in on your target audience and encourage them to feel connected to and empowered by your brand.  Brand awareness affects perceptions and attitudes, which drive brand choice and even brand loyalty. This means that without brand awareness, repeat purchases are less likely.

Increased Market Share and Sales

By building brand awareness, you can also increase your market share. If you are the first to the punch in getting your brand fused into customers’ minds, you will raise the barrier to other companies that are trying to enter the market. According to the Strategic Planning Institute,  “Aggressive marketing and advertising, are the key factors in increasing brand awareness and converting awareness into market share.” Brand awareness does not have a financial value on its own, but it is part of the collective marketing effort that drives incremental sales.

There are many ways you can go about boosting brand awareness amongst consumers, and making a brand mean something to consumers when they look at it is just as important as a sales pitch. Your marketing strategies may vary year-to-year, but a consistent brand message will help make your business top-of-mind when your target market is comparison shopping.

As the leader of a not-for-profit organization, you work hard to bring awareness to a cause and improve your community. You’re also likely trying to achieve these goals with a very limited budget and staff. And with success often being determined by a community’s level of commitment to your cause, social media marketing is an easy, cost-effective way to strengthen that dedication and awareness!

Facebook, for example, is more than just a tool for connecting old friends and new acquaintances. Nonprofits, charities, and churches all use the social network to more effectively boost awareness, connect with corporate sponsors and power donors, and raise funds—all while allocating minimal time and staff to the effort!

Follow these five social media tips to effectively engage supporters and encourage awareness for your cause:

 

1.) Simplify Your Message

A simple, straightforward message is critical when trying to leverage social media. Start developing this message by answering these questions:

  • What or whom is your nonprofit supporting?
  • What goals are you looking to achieve?
  • Through what steps or actions do you plan to meet these goals?
  • Where are you at in meeting these goals? What has already been achieved?
  • How can someone support your organization?

The majority of the content you share through social media should answer these questions.

 

2.) Tailor Your Content for Each Medium’s Audience

Tell stories about the people or families you are helping through Facebook. Share organization updates or cause-related news through Twitter. Use Instagram and Snapchat to give a behind-the-scenes look at your volunteers’ hard work. Your content strategies should be developed based on each social network’s strengths and audience demographics.

 

3.)  Tell Stories Visually

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words—and this holds especially true on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The attention span of online audiences is waning every day. So it is crucial you get your point across as quickly and concisely as possible. Photos and graphics are an easy way to accomplish this. They boast an 87 percent interaction rate on Facebook and boost retweets by 35 percent!

 

4.)  Incorporate a Donate Button

Facebook’s ‘Donate Button’ for nonprofits isn’t new, but Mark Zuckerberg and his team have progressively improved the feature. Organizations can now add it to pages, posts and even paid advertising through the social network.

A post incorporating a Donate Button provides supporters with an easy and direct way to contribute straight from their News Feed. The feature helps boost awareness by enabling the supporter to share their donation with his or her Facebook friends.

The Donate Button also collects email addresses from contributors—making follow-up easy!

How to Add a Donate Button: Navigate to your nonprofit page’s cover photo. Click “Add a Button,” select “Make a Donation,” and then input the URL for your organization’s fundraising webpage. Then click “Add Button.”

 

5.) Promote Your Wish List

Pinterest is a great place to promote your nonprofit’s needs. Design and pin a graphic including your wish list along with instructions on how users can donate the items. For example, if your organization is a homeless shelter, your list will likely include items similar to underwear, socks, pajamas, shampoo and soap, and diapers. These graphics can also be uploaded to other social networks, eblasts, and blogs.

 

Social media has forever changed the way people interact with friends and family, business associates, and brands—and nonprofits are no exception! By harnessing these networks’ power, you will be able to engage current supporters, build energy and momentum around your cause, and build a new community of advocates.

If you’ve been leveraging social media to promote your not-for-profit organization, we encourage you to share the marketing and fundraising tactics you’ve found to be effective in the comment box below!

 

Blog Post By: Ian J. Jennings, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Baer Performance Marketing

Your business is imaginary, and your products and services probably solve an imaginary problem. No matter where you work or what you do in business, your position and the company exist to solve a problem. If the company makes cheese, it exists to provide cheese to people who desire it. Lacking cheese is a big problem if you want to make a grilled cheese sandwich or omelet. It’s an even bigger problem if you don’t own the means to make the cheese yourself, because now you must hope enough people also agree not having cheese is a real problem. If they do, someone will come along and try to solve the problem for profit.

But is needing cheese a real or imagined problem? I think you know the answer. Nobody requires cheese to survive. They want cheese because they like the taste, have been raised to believe it’s nutritious, or simply can’t ‘imagine’ life without cheese curds. Nowhere in any of this reasoning exists an objective/biological requirement to consume cheese. Survival is not on the line here.

This stands in contrast to real problems. If someone believes they don’t need to consume water to survive, they will die. It doesn’t matter if they don’t believe it. The need for water to sustain human life is an objective fact. No matter how badly someone wants to avoid believing water is necessary, they’ll be wrong. The same could be said about fire. It will burn you. It doesn’t matter if you think it won’t. It will burn you every time.

Your company most likely solves an imaginary problem, that is to say, a subjective problem that enough of us have agreed to believe in. Even better, your company is imaginary itself. It only exists because enough people working there believe it does. Some person or persons at some point in time decided to solve a problem, agreed how to do it, and probably filed legal paperwork to make it official. If everyone at the company stopped believing the company was a company today, it would cease to exist. Let me explain.

The Packers exist because enough people decided sports were necessary, fun, and entertaining. They didn’t exist when the Roman Empire ruled the civilized world. Hell, they didn’t exist when Teddy Roosevelt occupied the White House. If enough people collectively decided football was unnecessary, it would just go away. The Packers exist simply because we imagined a need for them. Think cricket. Americans don’t care if it exists, and many have probably never heard of it. If countries where it’s played stopped believing it needed to exist, it would stop existing. Americans haven’t imagined a need for it. The same can’t be said about water or fire. The entire globe can’t imagine water or fire out of existence no matter how hard they try.

If you’re still skeptical, think it through in your head over your morning coffee. Look around your house. Do you need the carpet in your living room, or did someone at some point decide it looked and felt nice, thereby spreading an imaginary need for carpet? Do you need a living room at all? Or did our society imagine a need for one at some point? I’d be willing to bet that King Tut did not have carpet in his pyramid, but here we are today.

So where am I going with this? I’ll get to the point. Your company and products are imaginary. Even if you sell water, a necessary element of human life, your company is still imaginary. We have oceans, rivers, and streams, not to mention filtered water in almost every home in America. We don’t have a need for Dasani or Fiji Water. We imagined one, or more accurately, a marketing department imagined one for us, and we bought it hook, line, and sinker.

That’s marketing in a nutshell. If almost every business and product solves an imaginary need, imagination is the thing that must be shaped to grow your business. There are millions of companies that sell carpet, glass, lawn ornaments, and coffee cups because they know an imagined need exists for such things. I can drink coffee out of anything that holds liquid. I don’t need a coffee cup. I just believe I do. An imagined need must be created for your specific business, or it will fail, and herein lies your marketing strategy. Your company must decide how it will take the established imaginary need for its product and influence it to become a specific imagined need for your specific company’s product. It’s easy if you own a company like Facebook. Facebook solves a ton of imaginary needs, and does it better than everyone because it has convinced us to imagine a world where we can be in constant contact with every person we know on earth. We certainly don’t have an objective need for this, but we’ve chosen to participate in the farce. Another company can copy Facebook, but we can’t imagine leaving Facebook for a competitor because enough of us have bought into the idea that we NEED it to perform the tasks it facilitates. We don’t of course, and if we stopped believing that tomorrow, Facebook would go out of business.

To grow your business, you must identify and understand how these imaginary needs came to be, how people think and act on these imaginary needs, and how you can influence their imagination in a way that leads them to purchase your product or service. Your company exists because you and others imagine it does. It doesn’t need to exist, and likely won’t if we look far enough into the future. The success of your business relies entirely on your ability to make others believe in your company and your product, despite both having no objective reason to exist. Imagine that.

Like what you’re reading here? Get weekly marketing tips through the Baer Performance Marketing eNewsletter. Sign up at http://eepurl.com/bN6YRH

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Amber Brownlow, and I attend the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. I am a Communication major with emphases in Organizational Communication, Public Relations, and Mass Media. I am graduating this semester and will be searching for a full-time job (wish me luck). For the past three months, I have been interning at Baer Performance Marketing as a Public Relations and Marketing Assistant. This means I created media lists, sent press releases, wrote web content, wrote for the weekly blog, created social media posting calendars, conducted market research, and I even helped with brand development. It certainly has been a journey.

I learned a lot while interning at BPM. Getting to intern at BPM was a lucky shot. I took a chance on something last-minute, and it just happened to be one of those times when I jumped on something that truly paid off. Since writing is a passion of mine, I fit right into my position here at BPM. My tasks were mainly writing-based, and I enjoyed tackling new challenges and producing content for real clients! I believe that just about every task I completed at BPM provided value as a learning experience that I can take with me into my career. For example, conducting market research was something I hadn’t done before that will prove useful, and I was also able to expand my writing skills. For example, before this internship I had no experience with writing web content or blog writing, and now I can confidently say I know how to complete those tasks when I get into my career. I also found out just how dynamic the marketing industry is from working at BPM and how much thought and analysis goes into the process of creating an effective marketing plan for a specific client (as their needs are all very different). If I get a position in marketing following graduation, I will be very glad that I learned how to complete so many different tasks while interning at BPM.

What can I take away from the experience? Something I really enjoyed while interning at BPM was being able to utilize what I have learned through my Communication major and apply it to marketing tasks. Even when I didn’t realize it, I was utilizing knowledge gained at school, and I think that showed me how much I have grown in the last four years and the things I am capable of. Working at BPM showed me where I can improve (writing a little more concisely at times), that marketing is something I am interested in pursuing after graduation, and most importantly, I learned that I can have more confidence in myself. I handled a lot of tasks pretty independently, and I did them well. Through this, I discovered the level of value I can provide to an organization, and that is a huge eye opener.

During my experience at BPM, I got to learn things I never could in the classroom, be a part of a new company culture, gather insight from people in the marketing industry, and produce materials worthy of real clients. I recommend that everyone take advantage of internships while in school. I can say with complete certainty that I would be one hundred times more nervous going out into the real world had I not had experience with internships in college.

You can learn a lot from those you work with. I never expected to get so much support and advice from my co-workers, or to learn as much as I did from them. They were honest with me about what to expect when I graduate, and offered bits of advice that would help me during my internship and after. It was truly amazing to be in an environment where I not only felt valued for my talents but was provided so much support and encouragement as a student and as a young professional. I think if I were to redo the internship, I would make sure to ask a lot more questions because I think we often underestimate how much we can learn from those around us.

My time here at Baer Performance Marketing is at an end, but the skills I gained here will stay with me into my professional life. I am so thankful I decided to come in for an interview and that I got my chance to intern here before I graduated. BPM is a great place to work, with wonderful people who are fun to be around and clearly know what they’re doing. Internships are truly the best way to get an inside look at an organization and how things work, and it was great to be a part of this company culture for a while. I learned a lot here, and I feel that this internship will help significantly with my transition from college to a career. BPM was able to provide me with an experience that makes me feel more confident heading out into the real world, and that is exactly what every intern hopes an internship will do. So thank you to everyone at BPM; I have enjoyed my time here, and I encourage current students thinking about going into marketing to consider interning at BPM.

Inbound marketing is all the rage right now. It’s hard to talk marketing or business growth without the term coming up. But what is it? Is it new? Is it possible for small or medium sized businesses to do it? How hard is it? Is it affordable? Moreover, will you ever understand it?

No. Yes. Depends. Yes. Soon.

Inbound marketing is basically the creation of content like blogs, social media posts, branding videos, email newsletters, landing pages and white papers. It should also include search engine optimization (SEO). That’s a whole other article. Content is essentially any form of media created to communicate a company’s value to potential customers. This type of content is also passive in nature compared to traditional forms of advertising, meaning the content is being published strategically and designed to attract attention, but the customer has a choice in how and when they consume the content, if at all.

With the rise of digital platforms like the internet and all that goes with it, companies have more outlets than ever to put out information about themselves and their products. Many of those outlets are free and present an opportunity to reach millions of potential customers. With that in mind, a strategy can be formulated to create and publish content that attracts either the eyeballs of potential customers or provides value to existing customers, the goal being that when the customer makes themselves known through the consumption of the content, the company will then attempt to convert that lead into a sale.

This process utilizes content to attract the potential customer, impress them (ideally), identify them to the company, convert them to a paying customer, and provide added value after purchase in the form of offers, tips, tricks, and other options. This process is not new, despite what various inbound marketing companies will tell you.

Creating content for customers to consume is a fundamental part of marketing that has emerged in the past decade as being important. You might miss the boat, but not because there isn’t enough room. Every company can create content themselves or hire a marketing agency to create content to attract customers. Every company should do one of those options. It is essential to building a growing and prosperous business.

Ideally, content should be created to be unique to your business, but there are options our there where a software company can disperse content across the internet, but it most likely won’t be unique to your business. That’s not an ideal option but does make sense for some businesses. To create unique, relevant content, companies must figure out what their value is and use it to create content that informs the potential customer. Easier said than done, I know. Writing is hard. It’s harder when you’re a businessperson managing employees, operations, and the overall success of the company. Managing blog posts, social media, email newsletters, white papers, and the like is an incredibly large investment of time, and on top of that, you have to have the writing talent and marketing knowledge to pull it off. There are several effective ways to promote the value of a company, and even more ineffective ways to do so.

Inbound marketing can be a powerful tool for growth, but can also have the opposite effect when done sloppily or improperly. Writing knowledge is a must. Keeping the message consistent and relevant is paramount to sustained success. This type of marketing is not “fire and forget,” as they say. It requires attention, interaction, maintenance, and small but subtle tweaks if it is to be done right.

The bottom line is this: Companies must do their homework. Business is about solving a problem for the customer. If the problem is solved and the experience was pleasant enough, they will come back. But how will they know if your product solves their problem in the first place? Tell them about it.