How To Use Social Media

For many people, social media is nothing more than a way to keep up with friends and family members.  But, to the astute social media user, Faceboook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat, and many others are an ocean of business opportunities.

If you are a small business owner trying to grow your business through social media, but you can’t expand or grow your audience because you lack the time, lack ideas on what you need to post, don’t know which social network to focus on, or you’re not sure how to gain more fans and followers, follow these steps to build a more engaging audience and increase your social brand.

Step One: Pick Your Networks

Don’t focus on every social network – there are hundreds of them – instead, pick two different social networks to focus on and then expand from there based on how your audience responds to your posts. The “big 5” social networks are: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Linkedin. Don’t feel that just because everyone is on these netwokrst your audience will be there too. Youtube may not be the best network to find an audience that likes stationary pictures. Likewise, twitter may not be the best place to write a novel. Find your audience, find your network, and get to work.

Step Two: Post Consistency is Key

Social Media takes time and commitment. You need to post every day – if possible. Posting a picture or sharing a status update every-once in a while is not going to get you very far.

When you do post, make sure that you post relevant content that matters to your audience. If you are a travel agency, share topics that are relevant to travel: Destinations, Places to Eat, How to Negotiate Hotel Rates, How to Stay Safe, How to Plan a Trip – all of these are “topics” that are relevant to traveling. If you want to grow your audience, share content that makes your audience want to come back for more.

Don’t try to sell to your audience on every post. If you had a friend who tried to sell you a service every time you two socialized, would you want to socialize with them in the future? Probably not. Your audience is the same way. Only about 10% of your posts should actually be “sales” while the other 90% should be social media development: Motivational Images, Inspirational Quotes, Relevant Articles, etc. (Anything that your audience will like to share)

If there are trending hashtags, then use them to reach a wider audience. By using a hashtag, you make it easy for people to find your status updates and images on Social Networks.

Step Three: Be Part of the Community

When you go to a networking event, you listen to people. You learn about who they are and what they do. You try to find strategic partners and try to find friends and acquaintances. Social media works the exact same way.

Don’t just focus on trying to sell your services. Actually try to connect with potential strategic partners or customers. Follow their profiles and engage with them – as a friend. When you follow a person, they usually get a notification. When they get the notification, they usually click over to see who followed them: who are they and what do they do? They usually follow you back – especially if you are sharing interesting posts.

If you engage with them – like their posts, comment on their statuses, etc. – they also get a notification, and often times they follow you back because you are someone who is interested in what they have to say. This is how we build friendships in the real world – it’s not any different in the virtual world?

Step Four: Follow Through with Your Audience

If your audience leaves you a comment, try to reply back to the comment as quickly as possible. If a client comes to your store and complains or compliments your work, do you stand there with a blank stare? or do you engage with the customer? Don’t leave your audience hanging. Reply back to all their comments. Reply back to all of their reviews.

If an audience member leaves you a positive review – reply back to it and thank them for their kindness.

If an audience member leaves you a negative review – reply back to it and try to offer them a solution – then thank them for taking the time of bringing the situation to your attention.

Remember that social media is supposed to be all about creating and developing conversations.

Step Five: Patience is a Virtue

Social media takes time, it’s not something that happens over night. A well developed strategy can take months to work, but the longer you wait, the longer is going to take to give you a positive ROI. When done correctly, you will have a small but passionate group of people ready to do business with you and your company. You don’t need thousands of followers to see a positive ROI, you just need a couple of hundred people. Even 50 people (if they’re passionate about your brand) can give you some serious results.

DO NOT EVER buy followers or likes. If you do, you will destroy your social media page. Think of it as setting up an auditorium full of people: Would you rather have 50 people that love your product, or 5,000 people that hate your product or what you stand for?

Closing Remarks

Social media is very important – today more than ever. If you don’t have the time, don’t know what to share, or don’t know where you should focus your attention on, we recommend that you hire a company to assist you with your social media needs. We offer a free 1 hour consultation for our Virtual Assistant Services. We can use this hour to help you understand what you’re looking for and then help you find solutions that fit your budget.

The Importance of Audio… In Video

We’ve been around enough to recognize that one of the last things most people consider when creating a video, is audio. In particular the music and sound effects that accompany the video. Choose the wrong music, and your video will be cheesy. Make the wrong selection with a sound effect, and the only effect you’ve made – is ruining your video.

Music sets the tone for your video. The pace of the music needs to play in harmony (pun mildly intended) with the feel of the video. For example, you don’t want fast-paced music under an heart-wrenching interview. Not that you would do that, it’s just an example. But you certainly don’t want to have overused corporate crap playing under your video either.

Whether you realize it or not, the music you choose says a lot about your organization. Heavy synthesizers might imply your company’s too old. Heavy beats per minute might make the viewer think you’re trying too hard to make a boring position look more exciting than it actually is.

This is why we spend a lot of time selecting music for our projects. Sometimes, it feels like the most difficult part of the process. It takes a keen understanding of how you want the viewer to feel when watching the video. What works right for the tone of the footage or interviews. How you can edit in concert with the music. All of these things go a long way towards finding the right music track.

And then there is (the often overlooked) use of sound effects. I’m not talking about the sound of a shot gun, or a starting a lawnmower. For this post, I’m referring to swooshes, hits, drones, etc. that accompany cuts, transitions or camera movements. Most of the times, the viewer isn’t even aware of them. That’s a good thing. Sound effects should be used to enhance motion graphics, or complement an editing style. They should never call attention to themselves. If they do (in our opinion) they’ve failed.

Here’s a link to fun example of great use of music and sound effects to capture the emotion of what they were going for. It’s a little bit of a twist – a parody of contestant reality shows. However, it’s a great example that we feel goes to show the importance of using the right music and sound effect in a video. This example would simply not work at all without the music selections and sound effects:

Stock Photos and Layouts – Can They Hurt Your Vision?

Engaging stories start with solid brand identities, and solid brand identities start with designers, writers, videographers, and photographers. This tends to be an understandable point of contention for new marketers; creatives cost money, after all, and money is usually in short supply at the start of any venture. Worried that their budgets can’t take the hit, these marketers decide to do it all themselves — and ultimately end up making a fraction of the impact they could have made with a little help.

Let’s illustrate this with a theoretical test. Suppose you were in the market for a new rug and decided to browse a few websites to find the best option. You’ve narrowed it down to two choices: Website A features an impactful logo, intuitive structure and simple but emotional tagline, and Website B is crammed with stock photography, poorly written text and a difficult browsing system. Even if both sites offered the same rug at the same price, most consumers would gravitate to Website A. It feels credible and distinct, but the second feels homemade and potentially untrustworthy. What’s more, Website A’s punchy logo could stick in a customer’s memory and eventually drive repeat business.

This is not to say that you don’t understand what makes your brand tick. Of course you do; it’s just that professional writers and designers understand the DNA of creative impact. They know why customers react to certain words, images and even fonts. They know how to spin a tagline into this year’s buzz phrase and turn a logo into an instantly recognizable image. You make the product, but creatives make it sing. What’s more, you don’t have to spend millions of dollars at an ad agency to find competent writers and designers.

 Send a note to us or give us a call at 412.889.3495. You’ll find professionals willing to help without incurring Louis Vuitton-level prices.

How To Combine Your Direct Mail Campaign with Your Digital Strategy

As a marketing professional every time I meet a client I’m faced with a we do this or we don’t do that mentality in planning a marketing initiative. However there’s one thing that I can’t impress enough, and that is there is no limit to the number of channels of marketing tools we have at our disposal. Yet, sometimes due to resource restraints we’re forced to make tough choices.

Making those tough choices can be difficult, time consuming, stressful, and quite frankly overwhelming! For example, if you already have a database full of leads, you might be tasked with finding the best way to convert them into paying customers. Some options might be to send them an email, use direct mail, engage with them in social media, or have your sales team reach out. But how do you determine which option is best?

Over the past several years data has become easier and easier to sift through and digest both for digital and direct mail. With the addition of call tracking, reputation management, landing pages and online reviews this combined digital and print campaign becomes completely trackable.

Utilizing two channels (both print and digital) you are creating a brand identity while at the same time giving the potential customer reviews to read, places to go to see what it is you offer and why you’re different.


Feeding Digital with Direct

We have established that direct mail and digital marketing are a team, where one stream feeds another. Consequently, ALL marketing campaigns should always be approached with this mentality.

Use direct mail marketing such as postcards or brochures to redirect recipients to your online landing page, social media profile, or shopping cart. There’s no escaping the fact that a large percentage of sales and research today happen online, so driving traffic to a website that is ready to convert prospects and leads into a paying customers is a highly valuable marketing tactic. There’s a wide range of call-to-actions direct mail can promote to your target audience, so test them out and find the best fit for your product, industry, or audience to improve your customer journey experience.

You’ll likely need a little out-of-the-box creativity when designing your direct mail campaigns in today’s competitive market. Mailbox real estate is at a real premium, and it is becoming ever more difficult to stand out from the crowd. In addition to creatively designed postcard to drive traffic to your website, should consider additions like promotions, incentives, and memorable marketing campaigns to help compel your consumers to visit your website and ultimately funnel them through to the checkout or sign up form.

What is a Sell Sheet?

Once the concept of a product has been fleshed out, developed and finally transformed into an actual tangible item for presentation to the public, the next step is marketing and sales. If you’re launching a new product, one simple marketing material you must create along the way is a product sell sheet.


A product sell sheet is a one-page sheet used in sales to attract attention to a new product. The sell sheet is commonly distributed through the mail, presented at a meeting or provided via email to interested parties. The goal of sending out a product sell sheet is to make the other party interested enough to call the manufacturer to discuss terms of buying or publicizing the product.


The sell sheet should contain full-color pictures of the product — preferably from all angles. Include a short description of the product, as well as a list of specifications. It must also list the product’s most attractive features and benefits. To allow interested parties to order the product, the sell sheet should also include the product’s SKU, UPC or item number.


A product sell sheet is useful when you’re preparing a media or press kit. It is also a useful addition to a product marketing plan. When you are selling a product to retailers and distributors, they need to see these important details to make a decision on whether to carry it in their stores. When you are seeking publicity for the product, know that media contacts will want to see a sell sheet so that they can accurately report on the product.


When you make a product sell sheet, take the time to make it look professional, neat and simple. Some marketers make the mistake of trying to fit many different types of products into one sell sheet. The ideal format is to have one featured product with the item’s full specs listed on the back. However, if you have other products to sell, put the featured product on one side with a few of the others listed on the back. Print your sell sheet in full color on paper that is slightly heavier than the type you see in a standard printed catalog.

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Raise Awareness of YOUR Business

The heart of your business success lies in its marketing. Most aspects of your business depend on successful marketing. The overall marketing umbrella covers advertising, public relations, promotions and sales. Marketing is a process by which a product or service is introduced and promoted to potential customers. Without marketing, your business may offer the best products or services in your industry, but none of your potential customers would know about it. Without marketing, sales may crash and companies may have to close.

Getting Word Out

For a business to succeed, the product or service it provides must be known to potential buyers. Unless your business is known in the community and have communication with your customers readily available, you have to use marketing strategies to create product or service awareness. Without marketing, your potential customers may never be aware of your business offerings and your business may not be given the opportunity to progress and succeed. Using marketing to promote your product, service and company provides your business with a chance of being discovered by prospective customers.

Higher Sales

Once your product, service or company gets on the radar screen of your prospects, it increases your chances that consumers will make a purchase. As awareness becomes a reality, it is also the point where new customers start to spread the word, telling friends and family about this amazing new product they discovered. Your sales will steadily increase as the word spreads. Without employing marketing strategies, these sales may not have ever happened; without sales, a company cannot succeed.

Company Reputation

The success of a company often rests on a solid reputation. Marketing builds brand name recognition or product recall with a company. When a company reaches the high expectations of the public, its reputation stands on firmer ground. As your reputation grows, the business expands and sales increase. The reputation of your company is built through active participation in community programs, effective communication–externally and externally–and quality products or services, which are created or supported by marketing efforts.

Healthy Competition

Marketing also fosters an environment in the marketplace for healthy completion. Marketing efforts get the word out on pricing of products and services, which not only reaches the intended consumers, but also reaches other companies competing for the consumers’ business. As opposed to companies that have a monopoly on products and services that can charge almost any price, marketing helps keep pricing competitive for a business to try to win over consumers before its competition does. Without competition, well known companies would continue to sell while lesser known companies or new companies would stand little chance of ever becoming successful. Marketing facilitates the healthy competition that allows small businesses and new businesses to be successful enter and grow in the marketplace.


Although marketing is hugely important for a business to succeed, it can also be very expensive. In its first year, a company might spend as much as half of its sales on marketing programs. After the first year, a marketing budget can reach as much as 30 percent–sometimes more–of the annual sales. A marketing program that gives your company the best chance is a healthy mix of different forms of marketing, such as website development, public relations, print and broadcast advertising, design and printing for all print materials, trade shows and other special events.