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Witmer Group Negative CommentsDon’t let negative reviews destroy your online business reputation!  Everyone has heard the phrase, “any press is good press”. Vanna White has been credited with this statement. But, does this sentiment still hold true? Nowadays the inclination seems to be along the lines of, “bad news travels fast”. People now have an easily accessible venue to read and write reviews about you and your business. Unlike yester year, when the press was limited in range and the reach of your bad press was easily managed, anyone and everyone have courtside seats to your businesses lowest moments.

Let’s face it, no person and no business is without moments of failure. Although the following statement is obvious, it is often ignored – you have to make right your wrong. Keep in mind the following steps can help you manage your negative reviews and business press:

  1. Have a person on staff or contracted whose job it is to monitor your businesses web presence.  Keep yourself in the loop. You’ve got to know what is being said about your business. When negative reviews emerge quickly tend to the issue!
  2. Have a strategy for dealing with negative feedback. Prepare for possibilities. And when it happens, determine which comments and reviews are most damaging to your reputation and get a response out that will show you are taking their concerns seriously!
  3. Listen to what the review says. If people are taking the time to write down their “beef” with your business, take it seriously. Acknowledge the problem, address the issue and present a solution.
  4. Be professional! People looking at the reviews of your business will see the negative review but they will also see the professional way your business handled the problem.
  5. Inundate the web with your positive SEO content. Use articles, press releases, blogs, white pages, videos and social networking to drive the negative press to the bottom of the search. Keep the positive content new and fresh.

The bottom line is, “any press can be good press”, if you follow the 5 steps above. Learn how to optimize your damage control and use these opportunities for creating positive feedback.  So for now, I guess Vanna White is still right!

You don’t have to tackle this alone, Witmer Group can help you monitor your online presence and create positive SEO content. For more information contact us now.

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Witmer Group Branding StrategyThere is considerable talk about branding strategy among marketing strategist as to the appropriate guidelines for branding businesses. The most apparent struggle stems from the debate over personal branding vs. corporate branding.

Almost all marketing strategist agree that you need a clear distinction of what your business branding strategy entails.  Naturally, in a smaller business the line between personal branding and business branding can become very blurred. More often than not, they are massively entwined. As a business owner what can you can you do to promote your closely linked personal / business brand and where should you draw the line?

  • Great Minds Think AlikeHire employees with similar branding goals (this does not mean hire clones). From a core brand perspective, this will insure that your image is replicated in your staff’s social media outlets and that your company brand is respected.
  • Everyone Needs A Little HelpBudgets continue to be stretched and require creative thinking. Vendors are often part of this process. When using Outsourced Marketing Solutions, make sure there are brand and philosophy guidelines that everyone is aware of and follows. Often external resources can give a company even greater insight over their competition and in defining what their external brand image is.
  • What’s Your Point?  While self-promoting for your business, it can sometimes be easy to forget your point. The point is continuing to provide your audience with useful content that is in line with your business goals. These can be achieved through considering visible venues like blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, etc. Always keeping in mind your basic search optimization goals.
  • You’re Human…Go Ahead And Act Like One!  Much in the same way it is hard to connect with a person with no visible humanity, it is hard for people to identify with a business with no soul. People actually like a human element. The question you have to ask yourself is, “how much is too much”?    Many business owners, ranging from freelance to executives, procure individual blogs that clearly state their personal intent but always seem to be in line with the practical business images. It might make the most sense for you to make your business blog less robotic by adding some humanity. However, if this is not the company culture you want to promote, then consider creating a personal space where self-promotion might come more naturally for you such as plus.google.com/authorship, Technorati.com or WordPress.com.

Find out what your small business branding goals are. Contact Witmer Group to assist you in finding distinction between your personal and business branding strategy.

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Witmer Group Branding ValuesWith the recent tragedy on the East Coast leaving people without basic comforts and the loss of life it is important to remember that in branding strategy, the needs and moods of your consumers change.  Whether you are providing a tangible product or a service it is imperative to stay on top of current events in your target communities. You don’t want present an unconcerned or insensitive message to your audience.

Some “not so common sense” should be used when handing your PR. We can start with Madonna, who received a huge backlash performing in Denver with scenes of gunfire and movie theater massacre. In light of the Aurora Movie theater tragedy it was offensive and insensitive. Hopefully, that was not her intention but someone should have been thinking it through. Or take into account Kenneth Cole’s Tweet during the Cairo riots.

The same negative reaction was received when Gap, American Apparel and Urban Outfitters Tweeted, during the Tropical Storm Sandy, to take advantage of sales if bored during the storm. Obviously, the intention is to draw business but the mention of devastating events rubbed many people the wrong way.

When Tweeting, posting, or other promoting make sure you are considerate of your audience. Of course your business needs revenue but never at the expense of your companies humanity.  How should your business deal with disasters in your target audience?

  • If your business can provide resources and help in wakes of natural disasters, doing the right thing, is the best thing you can do to bring attention to your organization.
  • Acknowledge the tragedy but leave sales or any sort promotional message out of the equation.
  • Provide useful, helpful information. Keep your audience informed. (Such as, “The Mayor has issued an evacuation notice in city, state. Take cover and take care!)
  • Consider future print campaigns that may already be in progress. If they seem insensitive in retrospect it’s better to pull the plug, lose the money and start from scratch then offend your audience (don’t do a Madonna!)
  • If you have something to promote during a tragedy that is only affecting a portion of your demographic it’s best to not mention the tragedy during that online promotion.

If The Gap, Urban Outfitters and American Apparel had just tweeted, “lots of sales tonight”, no one would have thought they were being insensitive. Mentioning the storm, then passing over it with promotion was the worst of the combinations. For a smaller business it is easy to keep an eye on the mood and events surrounding your consumer, but large businesses must consider bi-coastal or even multi-continental considerations in their branding strategy.

For more information on how Witmer Group can help you in your branding strategy, contact us today!

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Dallas MarketingThe Dallas economy is blooming with no slow down in sight.  According to Forbes.com Dallas-Fort Worth has a projected economic growth rate of 4.9% through 2016. Texas added more jobs in 2012 than all other 49 states combined. New industry is drawn to the Dallas-Fort Worth for very simple reasons: taxes are low, its location in the central U.S. eases logistics, access to an educated work force, and real estate is inexpensive.  These factors draw companies from all other parts of the country and they are all landing in our back yards.

More local business means more competition for consumers’ attention. With the expansion in local industry, we are seeing an increase in population, an increase in competition, but also the increase in opportunity. This means your company has to become savvier with their local marketing tactical plan. If your business is dependent on local customers, focusing your resources on proven Dallas marketing strategies is vital to your bottom line.  Dallas marketing IS local marketing.  Local is where it is at.

Key Strategies for Local Marketing success:

1.    Event Based Marketing – EBM has become an increasing local marketing favorite because it allows serviced based businesses the opportunity to bring potential clients into an event that captures their attention for extended periods of time.  Additionally, it is a great chance to collect feedback from people that really use and understand your product or service. The key is to create an event where people feel they are leaving with something useful, not just filled with sales pitches.

2.    Targeted Email Marketing Campaigns – With a reported 300% increase in the number of emails that are opened on mobile devices, it seems obvious that email is an optimum communicative strategy for your business. Successful targeted email marketing campaigns can be achieved through lead tracking on your website.  Using integrated tracking technology tools can provide some key points that need to be incorporated when developing your client-targeted emails. For instance, emailing what people are interested in is vital. Following email marketing best practices is also a must.

3.    Targeted Social Media Marketing – We live in a “show-me” age. Consumers like visualizations of what your company is about. What you are really doing when using social sharing media, like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, you’re selling your story, branding yourself and creating an loyal brand community.  Social media marketing can be highly successful when content is shared frequently, when content is a balanced mix of entertaining and informational, and when content is relevant to your online community. Photos, client quotes, infographics, event announcements, contests, trivia – these are all great elements to fold into your social sharing content mix.  Social media marketing requires time and consistency to be successful, and some business owners’ love taking on this marketing tactic. If you don’t “get” social media or just don’t have the time, strongly consider talking to a local Dallas marketing firm that can help.

4.    Get Acquainted with Online Local Search Tools and Claim Your Online Business Listing – Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other online directories have free or basic online tools to help local businesses get found in local internet searches.  This means getting found by local people who are looking for what you sell.  These are people within close proximity to your business. If you are a local business, this truly is a must have for your Dallas marketing toolkit.  Write detailed descriptions about your business and include photos, coupons, and definitely maps. Please don’t forget your website link and phone numbers!

These online services will help your business get found and connect with customers in the Dallas – Forth Worth area:

Failing to take the time to incorporate these local marketing campaign steps thoroughly and properly is where many organizations fail.  If your internal marketing resources are already stretched, or maybe nonexistent, please consider consulting with a Dallas marketing firm that can offer their perspective on your local marketing strategies.  Outside guidance can be incredibly valuable and often more affordable than you think.  Consider the cost of not keeping pace with your competitors in the booming DFW economy.

Make sure your business is staying ahead of local growth by engaging in key local marketing strategies. Contact Witmer Group today.

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Witmer Group Email MarketingEmail communication is an integral and often successful component of a marketing campaign. For many years, it was a sure fire way to stay engaged with current and potential customers.  Increasingly sensitive email engagement filters are now changing this dynamic. The email communication you just sent may or may not find its way to the top of the targeted inbox.

In the past, email programs mostly looked at content to determine if an email should be relegated to the spam folder or it was an active selection by the reader. It was an easy method for email marketing campaigns to work around. The latest email engagement filters are no longer just looking at content to determine if an email is spam, the filters are looking at how people are engaging with the emails in their inbox.

Email filtering programs track human behavior patterns? Yes. Your targeted client’s email engagement patterns will influence email deliverability.  Will the email go to the inbox?  Travel folder?  Recipes? Or, the most dreaded of them all, spam, the purgatory between the inbox and the trash folder.

Email technology is also able to connect emails back to the same source. Data that is taken into the equation includes: the sending IP address, the “from” email address and also email fingerprinting.

Email fingerprinting takes components of an email, creates a hash for each component, and then compares them with other hashes stored in their database to see if it has come in before.  If your emails reuse a template or even the contact information in the footer, there’s a good chance the email providers can link your past and future emails together. (source: http://blog.mailchimp.com/email-marketing-engagement/)

It truly is a brave new email marketing campaign world.  Which is why the question, how nimble is your email marketing strategy, is an important one to consider.

To be fair, not all email programs have fully adopted these technologies.  Adopting is not an if question, it is a when.  If you notice your email engagement rates are taking a nosedive and the time to open rate is increasing, it is probably time to revisit your email marketing strategy.  Better yet, don’t wait for the dip and be proactive.

Here are some things you can do to fine tune your email marketing strategy and improve email deliverability rates:

  • Utilize permission based email marketing campaigns and keep content aimed at what your customers are interested in.

  • Follow ISP and filtering guidelines.
 Your email communications will be filtered.  Email marketing campaigns that rely on a high volume of email promotions, send emails to untrusted lists, or create user complaints are more likely to be identified as spammers.

  • Reduce the risk of finding your IP address on an email black list by implementing a double opt-in campaign. Set up your email subscriptions to send an opt-in confirmation email immediately after a subscriber signs up. Request they confirm the subscription. When your subscribers say “yes” twice, your IP address is less likely to have deliverability issues.

  • Maintain a consistent from address and subject line. 
By using a consistent “from” name, your email subscribers will be familiar with receiving email from you and will be less likely to hit the “SPAM” button.

  • Strongly consider using a reputable email delivery tool, such as Exact Target.  Being able to track who opened your emails, what was clicked on, who bounced and who unsubscribed, allows you to have a deeper understanding of who your audience is and if your communications are meeting their needs and interests.

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