Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Marketing Tips for Small Businesses – It’s Not Too Late!

Small business owners can maximize their holiday sales with a few timely tips:

Fine Tune your Holiday Online Campaign
Consumers are bombarded with countless email offers. So how does your business stand out from the crowd?
  • Keep it simple -- Organize your website by categories such as “Gifts under $50,” “Gifts for Him/Her,” “Popular Items,” etc. And if you’re unable to do this on your website, use emails, e-postcards and e-newsletters to group and highlight your inventory along these lines. It’s easier for people to wrap their heads around instead of wading through long lists.
  • Offer gift suggestionsOffer up gift ideas and suggestions, even though we’re just a couple of weeks out from Christmas. “Last Minute Gifts” or “Corporate Gifts” are two categories that should still be out there.
  • Use shipping deadlines as a motivatorClearly state shipping deadlines on all emails and on your website. Use this as an incentive for customers to take action ASAP.
  • Get creative Use the 12 Days of Christmas to engage with your customers. This is all about raising your brand profile during a busy time while promoting action. For example, send out daily riddles on social media and reward winners with a special offer. Another option is to promote a “catch of the day” deal on each day of your campaign.
  • As December 25 and other holiday deadlines approach, offer upgrades on shipping services – For example, 5-day shipping orders placed on December 17 could be upgraded to 2-3 day shipping at no extra cost.
  • Build urgency into your subject lines, Tweets and Facebook postsThe week before Christmas or other gift-giving days build some urgency into your messaging. “There’s still time…,” “It’s not too late…,” etc.
  • Offer ideas for those last minute impulse purchasesWhether it’s a gift for a party hostess or an office “Secret Santa” party, start giving your customers gift-giving ideas in the last week before Christmas.
  • Drive customers offline and into your storeAs shipping deadlines, use your email and social media presence to remind people of in-store deals and keep feeding them gift-giving ideas.
  • For those absolute last minute shoppersOn December 23 and 24, reach out to those who are still looking for gift ideas but have missed shipping deadlines by spreading the word about gift cards or downloadable e-gift cards.
Don’t Forget Super Saturday
The last and busiest Saturday for buying gifts is December 22 this year. Mark your calendar and plan accordingly – this is the time to offer targeted promotions and incentives. For bricks and mortar retailers, why not do a little more to entice your customers to come in during the last few shopping days before the holidays, perhaps a warm glass of apple cider or a free shoulder massage for your frazzled holiday shoppers (or their spouses)!

Restaurants and Food Service Businesses – Target the Holiday Crowd
Restaurants can do a roaring trade during the holidays, but there’s always room for more! Here are some ideas for boosting your share of holiday profits this year:
  • Work on attracting last-minute office parties or lunches Many smaller companies wait until the last minute to treat their staff or customers – think of ways to entice this crowd. Talk to your regulars, train hostesses and servers to mention your party services when they speak to customers on the phone or in person. Promote special incentives for parties that make bookings on quiet days/nights.
  • Target the New Year’s Eve crowd Offer incentives for customers to come and dine outside and either side of peak hours so you can maximize bookings throughout the night. You could also offer an incentive to New Year’s Eve revelers to move to the bar after they’ve dined with you.
Good luck and happy holidays! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Walk the Walk

How many times have you heard the expression, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” Likely the answer is “too many times to count.”  There is such truth to that statement and it’s extremely evident in smaller regions like the Warwick Valley, or “Mayberry” as we like to call it!

If you're going to conduct business in the Warwick Valley, you need to understand the business and social climate here. You need to know that the core philosophy is to keep it local, and that local mindset helps all of our businesses to thrive. You don’t’ visit the big box stores before checking with the local hardware store. Likewise, why visit a chain restaurant when there are perfectly wonderful eateries right in town? And chances are you’ll run into one or two people you know. Businesses here support one another, as so do community members. If there is a need expressed here, it is met with tremendous volunteerism.

As a business owner anywhere, it’s important to network and that is especially true here. Part of what made our Creative Vision partnership so vital was our strong belief in being involved in the community. We are both firm believers in giving back and have individually devoted our time to causes and organizations that we care about. As a result of that, we’ve cultivated many wonderful contacts throughout the Valley that have supported us in our business efforts. Some have already become clients; others have become business vendors and sources for us to subcontract or share work. And still others have shared their expertise in their given fields, which greatly enhances our knowledge base and helps us to avoid small business pitfalls. We thank these supporters and friends and look forward to passing on their kindness and wisdom.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Getting LinkedIn

We are absolutely astounded by the number of books and websites there are to guide you in your use of LinkedIn. It highlights the importance of this online business tool for those who are job seeking, businesses that want to expand their customer base (and who isn’t), professionals seeking references or testimonials, finding peripheral consultants, building brand awareness, driving sales – the list is quite long. The point is LinkedIn is a tool that can help businesses to achieve their goals quickly and easily.

For those who haven’t delved in or made the most of their LinkedIn participation, here are some tips that we’ve come across that may be helpful:

·         Make the most of your LinkedIn profile
In addition to your personal profile, company profiles are used to provide additional information about the company, its products and specialties, employees and company news. Your company profile can be a great tool to drive traffic back to your Website, as well as a way to reach out to other businesses. Use keywords that will draw your preferred audiences to you.
·         Get seriously connected
This not only includes business people you know, but should also include those you want to know. Join numerous groups on LinkedIn that pertain to your business interests and be prepared to be active there. Plan to spend an hour per week in discussions so that you may get to really know more about the various players. This is where you will gain and share industry news.
·         Connect with your discussion partners
These are the people you’ve already been “speaking” with and getting to know.  If you find that they are business prospects, offer to connect via phone or Skype.
·         Ask for recommendations
Participate and make recommendations within your network for business associates, partners, vendors and employees when appropriate. Recommendations for you and your company add valuable credibility.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Making the Most of Facebook

Many of you have opened your first Facebook page, which can be an extremely powerful tool to broaden your customer base and to keep you top-of-mind amongst your customers. Here are some strategies that Creative Vision offers to our business clients to maximize their Facebook benefits:

Rule #1 Set a Goal
Do small businesses need a Facebook presence? For the majority of businesses, the answer is a definite “yes.” But it’s not just about having Facebook page simply because you know of other businesses who do or because experts say you should. You’ve got to have a specific goal in mind when you begin. Is it to gain more contacts for your marketing database? Would you like to increase store traffic? Be clear at the outset.

#2 Use Custom Tab Applications
To get custom tab apps, Shortstack and other sources gives small businesses the ability to create their own custom tabs with ease and at a low or no cost. Custom tabs are useful, so take advantage of them!

#3 Be Interactive
You don’t want to be like most other businesses whose page contains a bio, a map and some photos. Be creative. Users want to engage through interaction. If your content is stagnant, you’ll lose their interest and they will likely stop visiting your page. Try using contests or sweepstakes to grab and keep their attention.

#4 Be Available
You can’t just check your Facebook page once or twice a week, no matter how busy you are. This needs to become a priority, just like answering emails. You need to be responsive to your “fans” and get back to their questions quickly. Fans = customers, and you certainly wouldn’t leave your customers hanging so don’t be unavailable online! Check your Facebook page several times a day or assign the task to one of your staff.

#5 Take Action
When your “friends” provide you with feedback, use that information. It’s gold. Remember that there are few marketing vehicles that will provide you with such instantaneous feedback. Use it to make any necessary changes, resolve issues, and even to enjoy compliments. Use that info to take action!
For more information, contact Creative Vision at or (845) 988-8858 and don’t forget to click the thumbs up and  “Like” Creative Vision on Facebook! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Want to Reach Women Purchasers? Think Pinterest

Businesses need to take heed of Pinterest (, a social media newcomer, but apparently one that is already beating Twitter and Facebook when it comes to trust among women in the U.S. At Creative Vision, we have been adding Pinterest into the marketing programs for some of our clients who have products or services that fit into many of the top Pinterest categories such as food, lifestyle, weddings and travel, among others.

Consider this: According to BlogHer’s annual study on women and social media, when asked whether they trusted different social media sources, 81 percent of women representing the general U.S. population said they trusted blogs and Pinterest, while 67 percent said they trusted Facebook and 73 percent said they trusted Twitter. (The questions were asked of those who indicated that they used each of the social media services.)

The study also found that when asked if they’d ever made a purchase based on a recommendation from one of the various sources, 61 percent said they’d acted on a blog recommendation and 47 percent said they’d acted on one from Pinterest. Just 33 percent said the same about Facebook and 31 percent said that about Twitter.

For the fifth year, BlogHer polled women across its own network of 3,000 blogs and a sample of the online U.S. population to explore trends in how women are using and engaging with social media. For BlogHer, the study shows that “there’s no one a woman trusts more for advice, recommendations and guidance than another woman in her circle,” Lisa Stone, BlogHer co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

According to the study, while women indicate that they use Facebook for fun and connecting with family and friends, they turn to blogs to learn about new products, to read product recommendations and make purchase decisions.

Among the sample representative of the U.S. population, 77 percent said they use Facebook purely for fun and 87 percent use it to stay updated on family. Just 17 percent said they use it for purchase decisions—compared to 36 percent who turn to blogs for that reason—and 24 percent said they use Facebook to get product recommendations, as opposed to 41 percent who read blogs.

The study also compared Twitter and Pinterest, revealing that the newest tech darling already rivals (if not exceeds) the social media giant when it comes to relevance. When asked about the social media service most appropriate for making purchase decisions, 21 percent said Twitter, versus 18 percent who said Pinterest. But Pinterest topped Twitter for getting product information (26 percent vs. 18 percent), finding out about new products (39 percent vs. 24 percent) and seeking advice and recommendations (30 percent vs. 29 percent).

Despite the numbers showing the power of Pinterest and blogs, the study also shows that social media in general is still an emerging source of trusted of consumer information. When asked about the point at which they turn to an online or social media site when they are on the verge of making a purchase, 41 percent of the general population sample said they don’t “go online or to social media for a shopping decision.”

While Pinterest is trusted and growing quickly, the study highlighted that general adoption is still relatively low. Just 19 percent of the general population sample indicated they use it at least weekly.

However, the size of the Pinterest community could be a factor in the high level of trust women associate with it. With more than 11 million unique visitors a month, it’s an impressively fast-growing and vibrant site. But its traction was helped by interest from the design community. As the company scales up and attracts new users who find new uses for the pin boards it will be interesting to see how its culture and relationship with users evolves.