Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

The other day I was sharing my Pinterest account with a friend and trying to explain my facination.  The challenge of explaining a purely visual medium with only words didn’t work, so I went online and explained.  She noticed a pin board I have called Garden Tour 2014.  I explained that the board links to photos of a blog I wrote about garden design, and how Pinterest actually works well to drive traffic to that blog.

She asked the next logical question any good business owner would ask “So how can I use Pinterest to grow my nursery?”

If I was selling plants right now, this is what I would do…

1. Set up a blog on my website.  Develop a schedule for updating it, and make it very visual with only brief but keyword rich text.

2. Set up a Pinterest account and create a board called My Nurseryor something like that.  You might consider several other boards for personal interest or other plant pictures so you can develop a broader following (and have some fun too!)

3. With every blog post include a photo or two, then pin that photo to your nursery’s pin board.  When people click on the photo they will be brought to your website.

4. Make sure my blog is integrated into my website so once people get there they are no more two clicks away from the most important info, which might include special offers, ordering information, directions, contact, etc.

5. Set up a Facebook page and add blog posts there as well.  Also your pins will be included in your timeline on Facebook as well.

These are good ways of keeping three platforms current without recreating content.

Father James DiLuzio

I have to write a post about this incredible performance I witnessed recently.  Luke Live! is a one man show performed by Paulist Father James DiLuzio in which he reads and acts out, from memory, the Gospel according to Luke.  In the segment of the show I saw, he read chapters 7 and 8.  It was amazing.  I read the Bible like I do most things, in fits and spurts.  When I do read however, it tends to be the Gospels.  In an hour and a half tonight I had these two chapters opened up to me in ways I hadn’t previously experienced.  I had a chance to talk about it with Father afterwards.  I shared some of the insight I gained, and he further explained his mission.  I love talking about religion and politics, but that side of this post is best saved for another place.

I first heard Luke Live! was coming to our parish though standard communications.  An ad was placed in the church bulletin, an announcement was made before mass.  I knew it was going on, but none of these things stirred me to want to go.  It turned out that the religious formation class I teach was going to be attending, so I eventually found out I had to go, but again, that in no way excited me.  Then came the hook:


Just like a movie trailer or that free demo version of your now favorite paid app, I got a free sample of the performance.  Father DiLuzio delivered the homily and sang a song at mass the Sunday before Luke Live was to start.  I was hooked.  He delivered such a high paced, well thought out, rehearsed and organized set of ideas that I knew I had to hear what he had to say over an hour and a half! I know that Father showed up at mass that day because it is what he does, he evangelizes.  I am sure he just saw that homily as a logical extension of his ministry.  But it was well executed marketing at its finest.

In many businesses that are not tech based, the idea of giving it away for free can be scary.  There are other good examples of this in the food industry:

Rita’s Water Ice: I don’t know about where you live, but here in SO-JO if it is the first day of spring, it is free water ice at Rita’s!  We drove through two obnoxiously crowed parking lots this year just for a free cup of flavored frozen sugar water.  Why?  To ensure you get in the habit early of finding your local Rita’s of course, and the press coverage doesn’t hurt either.

Dunkin Donuts: I am a D and D junkie.  Every once in a while I get frustrated that coffee there costs more than other place (with one notable pretentious exception of course) and try a local deli or something.  It almost seems that Dunkin’ knows this, and just when I start thinking I will stray something ‘Free Coffee Mondays’ come around or an online deal like this one.

Chick-Fil-A:  Seriously, if you are still going to other fast food places, stop, find a Chick-Fil-A, and thank me later.  Not sure about chicken for breakfast?  Keep an eye on your local circular because they will invariably send you a coupon for a free breakfast sandwich at some point, and you will forget all about your McMuffin…

I struggled with this in my landscape design business.  Looking back I would have tried a product giveaway to compliment my services, rather than ‘free service’.  Any tangible product has an implied value that promised service does not.  That is of course one of the biggest challenges with marketing a service based business.

Important to note: while I said earlier that the print marketing didn’t stir me to action, it was important.  Without it, I may have been overwhelmed and unaware and the ‘freemium’ content would have gone passed me.  Marketing needs to be integrated to be effective.

Yes that’s right ladies and gentlemen, that was the most clever title I could come up with for a StumbleUpon article.  I know, I know, I can and should do better, but it is late and that is about what I got left in the tank today.

So why am I writing about StumbleUpon.  Quite simply it is a great tool if you really don’t know what you want to see on the internet, but you know you want something good.  I have never had to stumble more than 3 times in a row (and rarely more than once) to find something of interest to read or view.  In an internet where truly random searches are harder and harder to get, StumbleUpon has lead me down some great paths, like finding this site for example.

It is also potentially a great tool for growing a blog as outlined in the great article from the well respected bloggers at . I have not used it for this yet, but plan to.  We will see how it goes.

There has been a bit of dust up recently over the way Google manages individual profiles and tailors search results accordingly.  More and more as online profiles become online personalities, the web is trying to create custom experiences.  The danger in this is it takes the ‘wild west’ analogy for the web of about a decade ago and tears it town.  The web is now closer to a gated community than the wild west, only with out the homeowner association fees (yet).

Enter StumbleUpon.  Not new, but I think increasing in value for web surfers who really want to find something that is not so carefully selected for their tastes.  StumbleUpon does what it’s name suggests, with nothing more than a vague category selection (like marketing, for example) it sends you directly to a random page.  Sometimes its good, sometimes it not, but my experience lends to good more often than not.  So in one of my Stumbles I found this article and thought it was worth sharing because: :

1. It is originally from INC Magazine, a great publication I consider a trusted source.

2. I got to the page via StumbleUpon, a great search tool I started using recently and will be using more.

3. Pictures and video are really the future, they tell stories, stir emotion, and lead search results.  Dare I say Pinterest

Here is the article which includes the 10 videos.  Enjoy and thanks for reading:

10 YouTube Videos Every Entrepreneur Should Watch | – StumbleUpon.

In light of my posts earlier this week, I thought this would be of interest.  See the article below from PC World explaining how Pinterest just changed their terms of service.

Pinterest Responds to Concerns, Changes Terms of Service | PCWorld.

This is designed to do a few things, including manage potential copyright infringement, but something I found interesting is they are ‘paving the way’ for private boards.  This would make Pinterest available to use like a personal diary or even vision board.  Something to look for in the future.

Web Wednesdays

Posted: March 21, 2012 in Design, Marketing, Pinterest, Social Media

Pinterest Logo

One thing is certain, there is SO MUCH CONTENT out on the web one does not even know where to start.  I am constantly following blogs I don’t have time to read and still adding new ones that I find interesting.  So, here is where I am going to help you filter through it all.  Wednesdays I will highlight something I think is the ‘best of the web’, and Thursdays will be the ‘Best of the Rest’, or a link list for some of the great content I find out there.

So this week, this first Wednesday of Web Wednesday’s, I am taking a cop out.  I am going to highlight Pinterest.

I know, I know, you didn’t need to read my blog to hear about Pinterest.  Clearly I am not breaking ground here.  Consider this more of a confession… Hi, my name is Dominick, and I am officially addicted to Pinterest.

I use Facebook and find it a useful tool for both personal and business communication, but I don’t think I ever got hooked.  I came closer with Twitter because it provided for a little more random interaction.  But with Pinterest I find it not only useful, but fun, motivational, and random enough to be exciting.

And for savvy retailers, graphic designers, landscapers, and other visual professionals, an incredible marketing tool.

The other social and search networks work primarily on a text interface that also supports graphics.  Even for all the photos on face book, your status updates are all about your words.  I am blogging, so I appreciate words, but there is something about the overwhelmingly visual nature of Pinterest that can be very influential.  Someones pin board can not just share some info, but tell a story.  It like Facebook + Google images + StumbleUpon all in one.

So how could you use Pinterest for business?  Let’s say you are a tattoo artist.  You could start a Pin Board that includes you favorite ink from around the web, talk about what you do and why you like it, and reference how it compliments your own style.  You could also have a Pin Board for your own work that shares the link to your own web gallery so people who search Pinterest for Tattoos will find your work, and have a path to get back to you if they want it.  The ease that this could happen might be the best feature of Pinterest for businesses.  Much like Twitter, the beauty is in the simplicity.  Pining images, searching the site, liking, and commenting is very easy.

If you are not already signed up, do it.  Now.  Go.  Thank me later.

Tucking In The Kids

Posted: March 20, 2012 in Customer Service, Marketing

As happens most nights, I am the last one up at my house.  For reasons I have never quite figured out I am at my most productive between 9 and midnight.  It is also best time of day get a good politics fix (thank you Hannity and Stewart).

I always check on my kids before bed.  Tonight I gave my 3 month old back his pacifier, and put a blanket over the 2 year old.  I took the magazine off my wife’s lap, turned off her light, then got into bed myself.  Even though this is pretty standard set of events, I was thinking tonight about how important these things are to the family dynamic, and of course, what are the marketing lessons from them….

Neither son, nor my wife, will know I tended to them when they awake.  Thats fine, and its kind of the point, right?  These are not things that are done for credit or for reciprocation, they are genuine acts of affection and caring for thier well being.

Do you tuck in you customers?  To you fold their magazines and turn their lights off after they fall asleep?

Customer service needs to happen even when your clients are not paying attention, for two reasons.

1. It means that they will be more satisfied, even if they don’t know why.

2. It means you really care about your customers, clients, and ultimately that you really care about yourself and your own success.

Next time you are tempted to promote every little thing you do in your business, ask yourself, is there anything I do to tuck in my clients, and is best if I don’t wake them up to the fact that i am doing it?

David and Goliath

Posted: November 17, 2011 in Marketing

Small business are like David, and big business is like Goliath, right?  This is the analogy that is often used when the ‘little guy’ wins.  But what about this famous bible story should small business owners pay attention?

David was not the only one on the battlefield.

For forty days Goliath challenged the Israelites, and for forty days no one accepted the challenge, until David.  David was only on the scene to help his older brothers and bring them food.  Most business are not in a truly unique industry, but it is often the small business owner with the guts to stand up and take on seemingly impossibly challenges that reaps the greatest rewards.

He was guided by faith.

When David stood out from the crowd, he did it with confidence.  He knew that God had his back, because he knew what he was doing was right and good.  What are you conflicted about?  If you have doubt and reservations that constantly nag at you, it will be hard to ever stand out from the crowd.  A healthy amount of perspective us good, but if you gut is telling you what you are about to do is wrong, you might want to have a sit down with your gut before you make a big leap.

He played to his strengths.

The future King opted not to brandish a sword and body armor, but rather just take his sling.  Sometimes the best way to battle a competitor is to fight on your terms, not there’s.  What is your unique selling position?  What gives you an advantage over larger competitors?  If you are truly a small business you are probably more connected to the community, can react faster, and have less red tape to slow change.  Capitolize on your strengths, it is the best path to victory.


Pandora Radio IconIf you are in business, you have customers.  Some are loyal, some are transient, but all have one thing in common, they like what you do, and pay you to do it.  What would you do if you received an email from one of your clients (not your best client, just any old client) thanking you for a job well done?  Maybe they tell you about a bad experience they had somewhere, and how they are now happy with you handling their business.  What would you do?  Reply and say thanks?

Over dinner tonight a friend of mine told me a story of his interaction with Pandora Radio.  He had purchased a new HD radio and was very unhappy with the sound quality.  He also was not happy with the quality of his satellite radio.  He was surprised actually that the best sound quality he got in his car was when he was streaming Pandora off his phone.  For no other reason than to be nice, he emailed Pandora to tell them their quality was good, better than HD Radio, and he was happy.  He also sent an email to the manufacturer of the radio.

The radio company replied with a brief technical explanation of what the problem might be, but offered no recourse to fix it.  Pandora sent him a free t-shirt.

Pandora was not running a campaign to give away free t-shirts, and they were not doing to make amends.  My friend was already happy with their service.  What they did was realize that if you don’t give your customers a story to tell, then they have no reason to talk about your company.

We all want word of mouth, it has always been the best form of marketing, and the one you can’t buy.  In business it is a knee jerk reaction to fight to keep the unhappy customers, so much so that the good customers can often be taken for granted.

So next time an average customer acknowledges your work, ask your self, what is my ‘free t-shirt’ that might turn this passive customer into and active evangelist?

Thumbs UpIn a last minute change of schedule I find myself presenting on Social Media Success less than a week from now.  The focus this NJNLA meeting, the audience for which is mostly landscape professionals, is a primer for the business owner that keeps getting told he needs to ‘do social media’ but doesn’t have the time or understanding.

Here are the five points I think are important to anyone starting out in social media for their business.

1: It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it

One of the things I hear most is “I don’t get it.”  Facebook and twitter is not just about seeing what your niece had for lunch or how many row crops your sister planted in Farmville.  If you don’t like it or don’t understand it, that’s fine.  But here is the question you should be asking: Do my customers get?  Are they using it?

2: New marketing tools don’t negate old marketing rules

I often get the impression from people that starting in social media marketing is a binary decision: keep doing what I am doing, or start doing social media.  You need to do both.  Social media channels give you new insight into clients and prospects you never had before, but marketing this way is still about gaining trust and building relationships, same as it has always been.  Which brings me to number three…

3: What is the number one point businesses get wrong when starting in socail media?

They forget the most important word: Social.  These new tools are about having conversations, listening, having some fun, and building relationships.  Setting up a Twitter account, only to post “Click Here to see great photos of my last job”, is too much yelling, not enough talking.  Ask questions, read what others have to say, and learn what it is your clients want.

4: Facebook is not for everyone

I include this because Facebook is the point where most beginners begin.  Mostly because there kids or spouse or friends are on it, so that is where the pressure comes from.  Facebook can be great for a small landscape business, but there are lots of social media channels, and it is good to know your options.

5: It’s harder than you think, but don’t worry, there is an app for that…

Like any component of your marketing plan, social media needs a plan, and that plan needs to be executed on.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress and Youtube are all free to join, but the investment comes in the time.  There are tools available that will help you schedule in advance and save you time, like Tweetdeck and Hoot Suite.

Anyone can get started in social media, but knowing some of the in’s and out’s will mean the difference between a fruitful marketing campaign and just getting frustrated and going to play Farmville.