ElementsLocal’s Social Media Manager Integration Announcement

Another great element has been added our Social Media Manager Dashboard: the addition of Google+.

With similar abilities as using the Facebook on our Social Media Manager Dashboard, this Google+ integration will include the ability to:

  • Manage your Google+ Page
  • Publish updates, statuses, links and photographs on your Google+ Page
  • Oversee and respond to your Google+ Page connections
  • Delete your own posts/ comments
  • Delete any comments made by others on your Google+ Page
  • Acquire analytics and reports



For more info about our Social Media Manager, and all of the recent integrations please contact:

Mike Bruton

mbruton@elementslocal.com

(805)547-1160 Ext 210

ElementsLocal’s Social Media Manager Android App Update

Recently, ElementLocal’s Social Media Manager announced the launch of their new app for Android, and it is free to all Social Media Manager users.

This app will allow you the convenience of using your Social Media Manager on the go. With this app you have the ability to:

  • Update all your social networks at once
  • Obtain your Social Media Manager address book
  • Save unfinished posts
  • Manage the scheduling of your messages
  • Share photos via your social networks
  • View reports and statistics

For more information on this new app for Android and our Social Media Manager please contact:

Michael Bruton

mbruton@elementslocal.com

(805)547-1160 Ext. 210

 

10 Questions to Qualify ANY Franchise Opportunity

Here at ElementsLOCAL we have used this list as our mantra when working with franchise systems. We do this to keep everyone’s interests in mind; from the franchisor down to the franchisee. What is your favorite business mantra? Comment below, we’d love to hear it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LaDuque Leads Internet Power Training

Recession proof your business at the first Marketing Bootcamp. The Marketing Bootcamp brings together several top nationally known marketing experts and companies to help you stay the course while the economy gets back on its feet as well as stimulate business growth.

Learn how to use the power of the Internet and your website for more than just information exchange with Jeremy LaDuque, CEO of ELEMENTS, Inc. LaDuque will teach you to leverage your website to set and attain your marketing goals, analyze your statistics and tailor key performance indicators (KPIs) to fit your business and objectives.

INTERNET POWER TRAINING 1:50 – 3 PM

MARKETING BOOTCAMP- Learn Everything You Need to Know to Grow Your Business and Brand!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
8:00 am-4:30 pm
The Embassy Suites in San Luis Obispo

THIS EVENT IS SPONSORED BY: Central Coast Magazine, Mission Community Services Corporation, Central Coast Women’s Network, Pacific Coast Business Times, New World of Media, Elements, Inc. and Whizbang Ideas!

Riding Out the Recession – 8 Marketing Strategies for ’09

While the President-elect Barack Obama readies an economic stimulus plan to revive our failed economy, franchises can turn the current recession into positive and successful sales and marketing opportunities. There are a myriad of ways to help you ride the storm, one of them is to revise your marketing strategy.

John Quelch, a professor at Harvard Business School and known worldwide for his expertise in global marketing, branding and communications, discusses this issue in the Harvard Business Review. His original blog was posted in February 2008 and outlines some excellent ways to address marketing revisions.

Quelch was one of ten marketing experts profiled in Conversations with Marketing Masters, (Laura Mazur and Louella Miles). He also co-authored Greater Good: How Good Marketing Makes for Better Democracy (Quelch and Katherine Jocz). Additionally is a non-executive director of WPP Group plc, the world’s second largest marketing services company, and of Pepsi Bottling Group. He served previously as a director of Reebok International.

Please read the full article at the HBR, John Quelch, Marketing KnowHow: How to Market in a Recession.

The ripples of our nation’s recession have gotten wider and more far-reaching, touching everyone. Effects from the subprime mortgage crisis have stretched consumer confidence and spending (on credit) to its limit, both of which have been keeping our economy afloat.

Your 2008 marketing strategies are probably already updated this late in the year. We’ve distilled Quelch’s eight factors here. Give yourself some flexibility and consider these principles for your 2009 plans.

1. Know your target customer.
The economy has left consumers with less diposable income and everyone is now more frugal and savvy at finding the good deal. We will spend more time searching for goods and services, drive a harder bargain at the counter, or will trade off: put off purchases until a better deal comes along, settle for less, or buy less. We weigh: want vs. need more heavily. Although brand loyalty is high and those brands can pull off a new product launch, think about limiting new product lines and new brands – they may not be so successful in this market.

2. Home sweet home.
It’s human nature to retreat to the hearth-and-home in stressful times. Rethink and gear your advertising images from action-packed, extreme, and fear factors toward warm-and-fuzzy family images. We spend less by staying in, but still want to be connected, therefore, we will still spend on things that make our homes more comfortable (furnishing and entertainment), as well as greeting cards, telephone and internet use.

3. Maintain marketing spending.
As competitors cut their advertising budget, companies increasing their advertising during a recession experience a high level of success. They improve their market share and lower their return-on-investment. As more consumers stay in, television watching increases and lowers the rate of cost-per-thousand impressions. If you need to reduce your marketing, maintain your frequency of exposure by shifting to shorter advertisements; incorporate radio and direct marketing, possibly giving you more immediate impact on new sales.

4. Keep product line essentials.
Companies need to re-evaluate their product lines and trim the weaker products. Consumers look for good values now more than ever and opt for multi-purpose over specialized products; private label/store brands over more expensive national brands; goods and services a la carte rather than bundled. If you’re launching a new product that puts pressure on competitors by addressing current consumer needs, focus your advertising on a high level of price performance rather than trying to extend your corporate image.

5. Support distributors.
Give your distributors added incentive to stock your full product line by offering early-buy allowances, financing and flexible return policies. Acquiring some strong distribution channels that have been let go by other company and phasing out your own weaker ones may also be good way to beef up your sales force. Beware of damaging the strength of your existing distributors and brand image by expanding into lower-priced channels.

6. Make the price right.
Consumers are hungry for the best deal in tough times. Sweepstakes, mail-in rebates and other promotions requiring a customer’s time and effort are not very attractive. Offer temporary price reductions, lower quantities for bulk discounts, extended credit (trusted customers) and better pricing for smaller pack sizes.

7. Protect your market share.
In this present economy, market share can be a matter of survival, not just a battle for a share. Before implementing cuts or consolidations, make sure you know your cost structure to avoid adversely impacting your customers. Strong national companies with productive cost structures have the best chance at a possible gain in market share. Smaller, but still profitable companies can also vie for a bigger share by acquiring weaker competitors.

8. Put people first.
Companies have had to implement different cost saving strategies, including letting employees go, closing facilities and the like. Executives need to maintain employee and customer morale and confidence by focusing on quality products and services and continuing to provide these to their clients. In a recession when concerns are redirected toward profit and loss, it’s easy to concentrate on balance sheets and managing company capital instead of managing relationships with people – internal and external.

Our ElementsLocal™ online solution provides franchise systems an unmatched ability to give franchise leaders BrandSecure™ online marketing tools. ElementsLocal puts the power of online marketing in your franchisees’ hands, while consistently driving your brand across all web properties.
For more information, call us at 805-547-1160 x205 or visit us at http://www.elementslocal.com/cm/Home.html.

In today’s internet world, there are great online tools, what are your favorites?

As an interactive marketing agency, we are always trying to find new ways to save time, provide better quality, or to check in on the ‘Jonses’ and see what they are offering their customers

Widgets

This first tool is a customer service dream. It’s called ‘Jing‘ and essentially, it allows you to take quick pics and videos of your screen and then share it with other people. If you’ve created an image, Jing will allow you to use some general tools to make the image more lively, such as an arrow or text box.

What’s even cooler, is that this tool comes with a very useful feature, a free account at Screencast.com when you give Jing a try. Once you have uploaded your image or video to Screencast, it auto-generates a link for you to send to someone else who can now view your newly created image or video. Screencast even auto-generates embed code…WOW!

Check out this image I created.

And here is a video I created.

For more info, go to techsmith.com, a great company with great ideas.

Lets move onto some real fun. I play a little game here at the office. It’s called, ‘Copy-Mac.’ The rules of the game are simple:
1. Listen to the cool features Mac users say they have that PCs do not.
2. Find a PC tool that copies those features exactly.
3. Show them…

One feature many Mac users love, is the tile-window feature. I have recently come across a tool that lets me continue to play this game. The tool is called ‘Admiral’ created by Mexircus and it’s not only useful, it’s fun to use, especially if you are like me and have tons of windows open at any given time.

Compare: here is the PC view with Admiral; and below that is the Mac version,

PC View:

Mac View:

These are just a couple of tools that I have found to be fun and useful.

Photo Sharing

Flickr – almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world – has two main goals:
1. We want to help people make their content available to the people who matter to them.

Flickr is the WD-40 that makes it easy to get photos or video from one person to another in whatever way they want.

2. We want to enable new ways of organizing photos and video.

Once you make the switch to digital, it is all too easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of photos you take or videos you shoot with that itchy trigger finger. Albums, the principal way people go about organizing things today, are great — until you get to 20 or 30 or 50 of them. They worked in the days of getting rolls of film developed, but the “album” metaphor is in desperate need of a Florida condo and full retirement.

In Flickr, you can give your friends, family, and other contacts permission to organize your stuff – not just to add comments, but also notes and tags. People like to ooh and ahh, laugh and cry, make wisecracks when sharing photos and videos. Why not give them the ability to do this when they look at them over the internet? And as all this info accretes as metadata, you can find things so much easier later on, since all this info is also searchable.

Others:

Webshots
Share your pictures through photo messages, online photo albums, custom prints and gifts. |

Snappages
Fully flash built interface with 3D slideshows and an image editor.

Fotki
Free unlimited photo hosting for blogs, 9 cent prints, and photo contests.

Shutterfly
Free unlimited storage, 12 cent prints, as well as calendars and photo books.

Contacts/Business Network

Linkedin – Your professional relationships are key to your professional success. Our mission is to help you be more effective in your daily work and open doors to opportunities using the professional relationships you already have.

LinkedIn is an online network of more than 25 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries.

Others:

BNI International Web Site
BNI – International Website … BNI is the largest business networking organization in the world. We offer members the opportunity to share ideas, …

Ryze business networking
Ryze Business Networking, make business connections, make new contacts and … The prospects of social networking sites that focus on business-oriented …

Project Management

Basecamp takes a fresh, novel approach to project collaboration. Projects don’t fail from a lack of charts, graphs, stats, or reports, they fail from a lack of clear communication. Basecamp solves this problem by providing tools tailored to improve the communication between people working together on a project.

Others:

AceProject.com
Ace Project PM Software website. Commercial.

EasyProjects.net
EasyProjects PM Software website. Commercial.

ProjectInsight.net
ProjectInsight PM software website. Commercial.

People Search

Spock is “Google,” but for people. I use Spock to find out more about other companies or people I interact with. If i know more about them, I can probably help them more effectively. Of course the most relevant use is to find old friends, collegues, or even your boss…

Others:

Wink
Search using the world’s largest people search engine. Find people by name and get their phone number, address, Websites, photos, work, school, more.

PeekYou
PeekYou’s free people search engine allows you to find, contact, and track anyone online. Find photos, links, work, school and family info and much more.

Video Sharing

YouTube
Hosts user-generated videos. Includes network and professional content.

Break.com
Hosts user-generated videos. Includes network and professional content.

Viddler
You need to be logged in to use this feature. If you don’t have a Viddler account, you can join Viddler right now. It’s easy and free! …

5min
Find the best how to, instructional and DIY videos.

The list could go on forever…

What are your Favorite online tools?

Keep ‘Em Coming Back for More – The Write Way

Cultivating users and customers who return to your site is no easy task. What? Your business doesn’t offer a product that you can advertise as “special clearance!” or “for a limited time only!” that will entice users back? Well, developing repeat customers the “write” way can keep you connected to them as well as build your reputation as an industry leader, grow your brand awareness and spark interest from prospective clients.

First Things, First

Unless you have a way to capture your users’ contact information, you won’t be able to send out an online marketing campaign. You’ll need an online marketing manager that includes a database to store your client information list.

That in place, include a “join us” or “sign up” call to action prominently on your website, in multiple places (tastefully). Whether the user visits your site once or several times, or visits one page or explores your entire site, that call to action should always be available.

Special E-livery

For any company, e-newsletters and/or e-mail campaigns are a logical start. Make no mistake, however, compelling and successful campaigns take work

  • ~ Share your knowledge and choose a topic relevant to your client base to focus on. Whether it’s an intro or advanced level topic for a service, clear and direct copywriting will always inspire learning. Include tips and advice – builds trust and shows your expertise.
  • ~ Providing an in-depth view of a product or service may also introduce clients to something new. Emphasizing benefits rather than features encourages the customer to view you as a solution-provider. How are you leaps and bounds in front of your competitors? Leading with benefits inspire confidence in your company, your brand and your product.
  • ~ If your clients experience a Success Story, write about it. Testimonials about your product or service increase your credibility. Real life stories also give your campaign another dimension and human touch – your customers relate to each other.
  • ~ Q&As and interviews are a creative way to break up the content of the newsletter while offering quick nuggets of information. Generate participation by inviting your clients to submit questions and choose a few to answer. Or, a more interesting approach is to interview another expert in the field answering the question. Your partner should offer a product or service that complements your own.
  • ~ If you do offer a product for sale online, sending an e-mail campaign featuring products often encourages return visits. Whether it’s seasonally, monthly or weekly, schedule the email consistently so that your customers look forward to “what’s next?”

What Can New Do For You?

“New” and “free” and “Improved”…but especially “new” and “free” attract us like…well, you know. They are probably the most attractive and potent words product and service providers can use in marketing and advertising. There are studies that show that something in “new” activates a reward center in our brain. And whether the reward is to be the first to get the newest, shiniest widget, or to learn something new, it’s a great tool for online marketing as well.

Advertising new products on your site and in your e-marketing campaigns is a no-brainer, the novelty is built in.

If your company doesn’t offer a product? This “new” does not necessarily involve developing a new service each month…it’s you “new” content. Keep your site content (articles and images) updated regularly. Your users will return often to see what’s “new.” If your content doesn’t change for months and months, your web analytics return rate will probably reflect that.

An excellent source of new content is your own company news – New and Press, Press Releases, Media, Press Center. Give your news some prominence on your home page, include a spot for it in your main navigation and make it easy to find. More importantly, keep on top of issuing your news – being diligent about this takes commitment and dedication. Sending out monthly news is good; sending out weekly news is great!

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It

  • ~ Your writing should paint a picture in your client’s head: write in the active voice (who did what, rather than what was done by whom.
  • ~ Be persuasive and clear: avoid the $25 paragraph to say 25-cents worth of message.
  • ~ Be engaging in your approach: clever writing balanced with professionalism in a tone that is appropriate to your message: urgent-action needed; helpful; warm-fuzzy; fun.
  • ~ Write to inspire action: think about radio spots or movie reviews – they’re quick and evocative, and they make you want to see the movie.

One-on-One

Write as if you were talking to your best user or client. Your ONE best user or client. Writing as if you were presenting your widget or widget service to your entire client list takes away from the personalization of your message. Writing on a personal level, like a one-on-one conversation addresses your client’s individual needs…just the way he or she receives your e-mail or e-newsletter – as an individual.

Journalism 101

Learn the upside-down paragraph used in journalistic writing. Write general to specific. Remember to lead with benefits, so start with that in your headline. Repeat that benefit early on in first paragraph and include a few more benefits as well. Detail the features and logistics of how your company delivers your benefits in the following paragraphs. Learn it, use it, live it!

4 Laws of Effectiveness and the 80/20 Rule

There is a general consensus that 80 percent of results are produced from 20 percent of the work. Think about this statement for a second. What this is really saying is that 80 percent of the work you do only contributes to a small amount of the results you produce. It also means that 20 percent of your customers or clients are responsible for 80 percent of your revenue. How much time do you spend each week working with the 80 percent of your clients who don’t buy from you?

I remember when I discovered the 80/20 Rule (Pareto Principle) – I was plugging away at a development project which looked like it was about to go over schedule and over budget. I looked at what I was doing and realized I was using a lot of time answering phone calls, emails, and building modules that didn’t need to be built to get the project out the door. I turned off the phone and email and focused completely on the required parts of the project. I finished the project in two hours!

After this experience I realized that I could apply this to many areas of my life and ended up developing a simple set of rules for getting through the work day:

1. Batch process as much as possible: This means taking common, repetitive tasks and grouping them to a specific time of day. For me, this means I read and respond to email only twice per day. This was hard at first; people would come by my desk (and still do) to see if I received their email. I setup an auto-response message letting people know when I am available to answer their email and if they needed me immediately they could send a message to my cell phone. This one step saved me at least three hours every day.

2. Get rid of the distractions: Turn off the email program and disable any audible notices that sound when a new message arrives. Turn off the ringer and all phone calls go immediately to voice mail. I have an out-going message stating that callers can email my cell phone for emergencies, otherwise I returns calls at a specific time. This saved me another hour each day.

3. Automate as much of the work as possible: ElementsConnect and ElementsLocal are built on this principle. We create a template or templates (we can provide this service) that websites will use and choose a default for new pages that need to be created. We also built a set of page layouts (we provide several of these upon install) that can be inserted into content pages once they are created, again with the ability to select a default.

This covers 20 percent of the effort needed for getting a site up and running, and 80 percent of the work is done! Hiring a copywriter is a good way to produce your site content. I had an excellent experience with elance.com (craigslist.org also has a lot of freelance listings). The copywriter I hired from elance.com gave me a very affordable rate and produced some of the best content I have ever read. Once your copy is ready, copy and paste it into your pages and your site is nearly done. The navigation builds itself, as do the sitemap.xml and robots.txt files. You may want to add a few extra features here and there (slide shows, a blog, etc.) but your site is effectively complete. Automation is your friend!

4. Duplicate relationships that bring you the most benefit. For example: if you have two clients who responsible for 80 percent of your orders, and twenty that you are always talking to but never buy anything from you, stop calling those twenty people. Concentrate on finding more clients like your two high volume customers. For me this was finding more people who I could have interesting discussions with, which eventually lead me to meeting my wife.

There you have it, 4 simple rules to make your life easier to manage. The hard part about all of this is getting everything in place – and having the strength to put down the Blackberry.

‘How may I help you?’

Excellent customer service practices can help a good business become great and keep your company in the forefront of people’s minds. I’d like to share some tips that have helped make Elements successful.

Everyone in the world has dealt with someone from the a customer service department. However, not everyone is satisfied at the end of the interaction.

Two statements come to mind when I think of this topic:
“The customer is always right,” and “You can’t satisfy everyone.”

The biggest problem for customer service departments is that these two statements contradict each other. So, if your business follows these beliefs, throw them away.

Instead, keep this thought in mind;

“How may I help you?”

The customer is not always right, but they are justified in needing assistance, which is why they have contacted you. That being said, you cannot always make everyone happy, but you can try to help reach that goal, by keeping “How may I help you?” in mind when ever dealing with clients or potential clients.

In some cases, your company may be too big, or too small, to assist the client, but you can always give them a reference, or some tips, or just be there to listen to their complaint.

By striving to ‘Help’ a client or potential client you will accomplish two things.

One: you will potentially win a life-long client or at least have good word-of-mouth from their interaction with your company.

Two: you have neutralized a client’s attitude and allowed yourself to become part of their solution, rather than their problem.

You may not fully satisfy the client’s issue, but by offering anything to move them closer to their goal, you will move further and further away from an upset or angry client. You’ll turn clients into happy individuals who are confident in seeking your assistance, opinion or tips because of your professionalism and desire to ‘Help’.

For example:

I deal with two communication companies:
One lacks general service areas, but excels at customer service, while the other has incredible service areas, but I cannot reach a representative when I need to resolve an issue.

I’ll give you one guess as to which company I refer, look forward to working with and will renew my contracts with. Need a hint? It is not the company I have trouble reaching.

My point is, follow these easy tips and you will find an increase in customer satisfaction and a decrease in customers leaving your company for your competitor.

1. Be honest!

  • If you don’t have the answer, but promise to provide one … follow through and do what you say you’re going to do.

2. Be Realistic

  • Nobody wants something they are not looking for. If a customer comes to you with a email issue or product issue, don’t try to sell them a product or service that doesn’t solve the issue they came to you with.

3. Create relationships with other companies

  • If a company can highlight your services with their own and you can with theirs, create an open dialogue with them on how you want to refer them and have them refer your company.

Elements did just that with two companies: Digitalwest & Mind Body Online. Both are great companies, with great customer service that share the same values as we do. It was a ‘no-brainer’ to become partners and because of this relationship all parties have benefited.

Take some simple steps to ‘Help’ your clients and you will see BIG retuns in the long run.

New to Web Publishing?

As the primary trainer for ELEMENTS software, I work with many first-time users. It’s been my experience that working on a website is intimidating to many people. I also encountered this same fear when I first began working on websites.

Let’s focus on items first-time users should become very familiar with.

Kid’s Play with Links and Images

Websites are like play dough: there is little that cannot be tweaked or fixed. I always tell my users, get your hands dirty because it is the easiest way to learn; you’ll always be able to fix or undo something you didn’t quite intend to happen.

I would recommend learning to do these 2 items first:
1. Add an Image
2. Create a link

Images will allow users to become more familiar with a product or service you are displaying on your site. Links will allow users to move freely from one page to another. Links can also be used to highlight partners or affiliates, and allow them to view their own websites as well. Both features will increase the amount of time your users spend on your site.

With very little effort you can move to the next step, combine these two features and create exciting ‘Pop-up’ images. By mastering these two, simple, but key items, you will find yourself quickly editing your website making it more interactive and user-friendly.

One of the top ways Google determines website ranking is by how many different websites link to your website, which will be discussed in a future Elements Daily.