Author Archives for MM Editor


04.11.2018
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Presenting with Success

It has been estimated that 75% of all people experience some degree of anxiety or nervousness when it comes to public speaking. Surveys about our fears commonly show that fear of public speaking tops the list, as our fear of standing in front of a group and talking is greater than even the fear of death. Here, we share some tips about how to give a presentation like a pro!

Prepare

Preparation doesn’t just mean standing in front of the mirror and running through your presentation repeatedly. Being prepared with your content is a given, but a good speaker needs to know their audience and what they expect and hope to take away from the presentation. Obviously, a presentation before a roomful of CEOs will differ from a roomful of assembly workers.

BONUS: Know your presentation space! Problems arise when speakers find themselves in a room that’s too big, too crowded or not set up properly. Make sure you check out the space where you’re going to be presenting in advance to see any limitations and solve them prior to taking the stage.

Start Strong

Many presenters begin by stating their name before uttering, “Let’s get started.” This stale approach could begin an hour-long snooze fest. If you start your presentation with a boring tone, you’ll lose your audience before you start. In an era of engaging entertainment, you need to start with a bang. Incorporate a compelling quote, story, stat or question to engage your audience and then introduce yourself and your topic.

BONUS: Don’t feel you have to stand behind a podium if there is one; it can become a barrier between you and the audience and make you appear stiff. If you’re comfortable and the space permits, walk around a bit and gesture naturally. It will help keep the attention on you and make the audience more comfortable as well.

Conversation, Not Presentation

When planning your presentation, you should have a couple of points where you plan for an interaction with the audience. This makes your presentation more useful and interesting for audience members. A conversation allows the audience to ask questions and talk to you like a human, rather than a presentation robot.

BONUS: Great presenters can tell stories that captivate the attention of the audience. Stories shouldn’t be told just for the story’s sake, they need to illustrate key points of your presentation, which helps make your presentation memorable.

Design Effectively

When it comes to presentation design, there is often a confusion between beautiful design and effective design, and when to use each. If you are presenting in front of a room full of interior designers, you may want to make sure you add a little artistic flair, while a room full of lawyers may care more about the content of your speech rather than the design. You need to have a clear idea of your message, your audience and your delivery style.

BONUS: Your visuals should enhance your presentation, not repeat it. Avoid cramming so much onto each slide that the audience can’t read it. Reduce each slide down to its essence, and go into detail during your remarks.

Market Mentors Is Here to Help!

Every professional speaker benefits from coaching to help with presentation skills. At Market Mentors, we can help you learn better presentation skills, plan your presentation effectively, offer design suggestions–or design the presentation top-to-bottom–and give you all the tools to become a presentation professional!

Recently, our president, Michelle Abdow, was invited to speak at the 2018 ADAM Annual Meeting and delivered a presentation on All Things Media. By employing the tactics detailed in this blog, Michelle’s presentation was well-received. You can celebrate similar results. Contact us today to get started!


03.21.2018
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All Things Media: Paid, Earned, Owned and Shared

Media plays a major role in the sales funnel, which from top to bottom, includes awareness, interest, decision and finally, action. But with the average consumer being exposed to about 30,000 messages daily, it can be hard to cut through the clutter.

One strategy is to understand and deploy a variety of types of media—including paid, earned, owned and shared—in combination to drive the results you want.

Paid Media

Paid media is advertising—paying to promote your products or services. It offers immediacy, scale and control. If not done well, however, it may simply add to the clutter, costing you money without much reward. Many businesses default to a “spray and pray” approach, in which they spend a lot of money on placement, but without a focused message and targeted buy. In addition, because anyone can buy an ad, paid advertising typically does not enhance a brand’s credibility.

The three essential components of paid advertising are reach, frequency and message. Reach tells you how much of your target demographic you are reaching. Frequency tells you how often your target audience will be exposed to your ad. And of course, your message is what you are saying, and how you are saying it.

Syndicated media measurements should be used to determine reach and frequency. It’s why we are one of the only agencies in the region to subscribe to the top sources for this information: Nielsen TV and Nielsen Audio. All too often, we see companies who buy the media they watch or listen to the most, even when they aren’t in their own target audience. Syndicated media measurement allows us to home in on your demographic without personal bias, giving you the biggest bang for your advertising buck.

Earned Media

Earned media is public relations. Through press releases, media alerts and media relations, our public relations specialists work to gain you media exposure in news segments, feature stories and bylined articles, positioning you as a thought leader in your field. And unlike advertising, there is no cost for the coverage—just time and effort.

Done well, the result is a third party talking about your product, service or brand, enhancing your credibility and providing you with shareable content that you can use on your website to enhance SEO.

Earned media can be a challenge, however, as there is little control and no guarantee the media will share your message. That’s why partnering with an agency like Market Mentors, with a broad network of media connections, can be beneficial. We know how to align your goals with the goals of the media to create a win-win situation for everyone.

Owned Media

You likely already own some media, including your website, videos, collateral, blogs and case studies. These are assets you control that can help you build long-term relationships with existing and potential clients. They offer longevity and the ability to reach niche audiences, and can also be used as sales tools.

Owned media can be difficult to disseminate without the benefit of a plan that incorporates other forms of media used in combination to maximize its effectiveness.

Shared Media

Also referred to as social media, shared media provides a personal approach to promoting your brand. It allows you to develop relationships with your customers, which can help grow loyalty, and provides easily trackable analytics. It also provides a great, no-cost, way to share what you are doing for paid, earned and owned media.

However, without a clear understanding of the many social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and more—it can be easy to miss the mark. In addition, each platform continues to evolve, and your social plan needs to keep pace.

Bottom Line

The best marketing strategies encompass all things media because each can effectively reinforce and bolster the other. Strategically placing your paid media in concert with earned news coverage and sharing it through your owned and social media channels is an art all its own. Let us help you paint a masterpiece.


02.13.2018
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Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

It’s generally known in the business world that happier employees do better work. When team members are satisfied and energized, they’ll produce stronger results and put in the extra effort needed to meet their goals. However, too many executives believe that happiness is a function of salary, benefits or job title, rather than considering less obvious factors that contribute to an employee’s happiness in the workplace.

One such forgotten factor is the element of teamwork and camaraderie. While it may seem like camaraderie in the workplace is nice but not essential, feeling connected to one another can actually improve happiness and productivity in the office. Studies have shown that companies with a highly engaged workforce realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity. Team bonding has proven to help teams perform better, work more collaboratively, and boost employee retention rates.

Imagine walking into an office each day where you don’t really know anyone or don’t like the people you do know. You’ll probably want to bolt out the door as soon as you can! Conversely, when you head into an office and are energized by your colleagues, you’re more likely to want to stay until a project is done and bring energy and enthusiasm with your work. When your workers genuinely like each other, their work on team-based projects greatly improves. Communication levels on projects will be high with co-workers playing off each other and deferring to those who have stronger ideas and more experience. When your workers are connected with their co-workers and engaged in their work, employees are more likely to remain with the company in the long term rather than employees who lack camaraderie at the office.

Camaraderie Indicative of Leadership

Camaraderie is the spirit of trust and friendship and is actually a crucial indicator of successful leadership. Leadership is a social process used to engage a team of colleagues to meet and overcome challenges, and it’s been found that the best organizations engage their workers through camaraderie. Camaraderie can be nurtured through four leadership behaviors.

  1. Leaders should regularly express appreciation to associates for their work and team efforts.
  2. Leaders must make a habit out of soliciting ideas from colleagues and use the collective ideas and energy of the team.
  3. Transparent communication is essential to growing camaraderie. Transparency and participative management foster teamwork and trust.
  4. Leaders must take a genuine interest in the careers of their workers. Mentorship breeds camaraderie.

How to Build Workplace Camaraderie

Workplace camaraderie is an important environmental necessity within a company. When a team of people grows together, enjoys each other’s company, and supports each other’s strengths, it can only grow stronger. Here are some ways employers can help build workplace camaraderie…

  • Create a company culture that is open to relationship building: An employee who is a good culture fit believes in the company’s mission, upholds its values and meshes well with team members. When employees feel at ease in the office, employees are more likely to engage in deeper, more meaningful conversations with co-workers.
  • Encourage group participation in projects: Have a team work together on projects. Teamwork means helping each other by working together to achieve the same goal, which is the success of the company.
  • Set up socializing time: Get the team together for socializing events after hours and encourage people to share stories about themselves. At Market Mentors, we recently took a team trip to the City Steam Brewery and Brew Ha Ha Comedy Club for a night of food, fun, and laughs!

Working with Your Friends

When you were in grade school, teachers never wanted you to work with your friends in fear of reduced productivity. The opposite has been proven in the workplace! Research shows that workers are happier in their jobs when they form friendships with their co-workers. Employees report that when they have friends at work, their job is more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile and satisfying. A Gallup poll found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.

Andrew Carnegie summed it up nicely with the thought, “teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows the common people to attain uncommon results.”

At Market Mentors, our teamwork drives results for our clients! Find out how our team and your team can work collaboratively and with camaraderie!


12.21.2017
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Never the Same Auld Lang Syne: How We Made 2017 Count

In reflecting on the past year, and then on all the years before it, I’ve developed a new respect for an old cliché. That’s because what I see here at Market Mentors is a clear and genuine trend, and there’s just no better way to describe it: Each year truly has been better than the last.

New partnerships, significant internal growth, amazing teamwork and unprecedented community engagement marked an exciting 2017, representing the very types of success for which we continually strive. Because our valued clients are at the center of all we achieve, some of the following highlights may ring familiar to you—and I am incredibly proud to share them.

Market Mentors long has been a full-service marketing, advertising and public relations agency. What we’ve done over the last year, put simply, is become even fuller. We’ve welcomed new talent across several specialties, including content marketing, web development, social media and more, enhancing our capacity to design expertly integrated strategies. Best of all, we continue to do it all under one roof, which is more than just convenient when it comes to building your business. One-stop shopping ensures streamlined collaboration and the ability to organically deploy media campaigns. In short, we’ve got one well-oiled operation—and that’s what drives results.

Growing Strong

As our team has grown, so has the range of industries we’ve had the opportunity to serve and explore in earnest. One that comes to mind is education, where we’ve proven studious, passionate learners; we led the marketing charge around a brand-new preparatory high school and recently began working with the region’s oldest community college. We’ve “conducted” exciting new publicity around Springfield’s most cherished performing arts tradition. We’ve promoted a national retailer with locations across the East Coast, and we’ve channeled our creative energy into the power supply industry. We’ve done all this and much more, meeting some very inspiring people and establishing dynamic new relationships along the way.

All our efforts are team efforts (no “I” in Market Mentors), and there’s perhaps no better illustration than the 2017 election season. Employing our collective knowledge, ideas and skills to build effective campaigns, we helped lead some highly qualified individuals from early candidacy to well-earned victories. One reaffirming, another locally game changing, these triumphs represent the good things that come from tireless commitment and cooperative hard work.

Commitment to Community

At Market Mentors, community involvement is more than something we prioritize; it’s part of who and what we are. This year, you could find us serving up a Mexican feast for residents of Ronald McDonald House, hosting our 9th Annual Kids Safety Expo at the Basketball Hall of Fame and, as winter approached, partnering with the Salvation Army on its annual Coats for Kids Drive.

Though endeavors like these dot our yearly calendars, the most notable one of 2017 was far from planned ahead. In the devastating wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria this fall, we reached out to clients with a proposal to help those affected—and received an immediate, overwhelming response. Together with these generous local businesses, we raised a total of $10,000 for the Salvation Army’s hurricane relief efforts. We already knew the kinds of people we’re proud to call our clients; this experience served to strengthen that.

As we prepare to close out another prosperous year, I am filled with gratitude for everyone who’s been a part of our journey. We look forward to rebranding that old cliché—and making 2018 the best year yet.


12.08.2017
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Browsers and Search Engines: Not the Same Thing

Do you know the difference between a browser and a search engine? While this may seem like Internet 101 for some, the two are often confused. Simply, a browser is your access to the internet, and a search engine allows you to search the internet once you have access. You have to use a browser to get to a search engine.

Browsers

There are many browsers to choose from, but the most commonly used right now are Chrome, Firefox and Edge. At Market Mentors, when we develop a website for a client, we ensure the site will work across these popular browsers. This ensures that when your customers enter your web address in their browser, your site comes up and is fully functional.

We also closely follow the industry to make sure that our sites work with the most-used browsers, as they can change. For example, for many years, Internet Explorer was the top browser, but now its status is in limbo as Microsoft develops a new browser, currently codenamed Project Spartan. If and when a new browser becomes prominent, we’ll make sure websites we develop will work with it.

As a business, you want to make sure that your website works on the most popular browsers. As a consumer, you should be using one of the popular browsers to ensure that the websites you are visiting are functioning as designed. If you are using an outdated browser, you may find access to some sites glitchy or impossible. Download these browsers here: Chrome, Edge, Firefox.

Search Engines

It likely won’t surprise you to know that Google is the king of the search engines. Bing is in second place. Search engines are how your customers find you when they enter keywords and search terms that trigger your site to come up in search results. For example, if you enter “marketing agency western mass” in Google, you will see Market Mentors in the results.

Where in the results your website comes up is determined by the search engine’s proprietary algorithm to return only what it determines are meaningful results. To come up on top, you can either pay the going rate for that search (these results are noted as “ads”), or ensure your site is well optimized so that it comes up high in the results organically.

That’s where the art and science of search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. When we develop your website, we make sure it is populated with the keywords and phrases that people are most likely to use when searching for your type of business. But there are other factors that play into maintaining SEO, and the algorithms used by the search engines are always changing, which is why it’s not enough to simply build a website––it also needs regular refreshing, updating and care.

Whether you are concerned about your website’s functionality across the most common browser or you want to optimize your site for the most common search engines, we can help. Contact us today for an assessment.

 


11.28.2017
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Area Companies Join Forces to Raise Money for The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services

Market Mentors, LLC, and nearly 20 local businesses participated in hurricane relief effort and raised $10,000

 

Market Mentors, LLC, a full-service marketing firm located in West Springfield, partnered with several local businesses to raise money in support of The Salvation Army’s hurricane relief efforts.

A total of $10,000 was raised to present to the Salvation Army, a nonprofit charitable organization that exists to meet human need wherever whenever, and however it can, for its long-term disaster recovery efforts for U.S. citizens affected by the recent devastating hurricanes.

This marks the fifth year that Market Mentors collaborated with local businesses to support a worthy cause. Over the past four years, $22,500 was raised and donated to Rays of Hope at the Baystate Health Foundation.

“This year, our staff and clients were strongly affected by the plight of Americans reeling from the devastation after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and were looking for a way to help,” said Michelle Abdow, president, Market Mentors. “Our clients understand the worth of corporate social responsibility initiatives and once again gave generously. Thanks to their considerable efforts, we reached our goal of raising $10,000.”

Companies who made a significant donation of $1,000 include:

Additional participating organizations:

While there are many organizations collecting funds for hurricane relief, Market Mentors selected The Salvation Army as the recipient of this year’s efforts for several reasons. Amanda Moyer, director of client services at Market Mentors, was recently named chair of the Advisory Board for The Salvation Army of Greater Springfield, where she has volunteered for over six years.

“I am delighted that we are supporting the efforts of an organization dear to my heart,” said Moyer. “The entire Market Mentors team and I believe in the amazing work done by The Salvation Army, often the first group that responds during a disaster, and the group that stays the longest to help with recovery efforts.”

Abdow and Moyer both note that more help is needed. “Recovery will be measured in months and possibly even years,” said Abdow. “We hope the efforts of all of our partner organizations inspire others to act as well.”

Donations can be made to The Salvation Army at springfield.salvationarmy.org


11.27.2017
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A “Small” Holiday with a Big Impact

Small Business Saturday is an American shopping holiday conceived by American Express Corporation as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday as a means to stimulate local economies, initiatives and organizations.

As the name implies, the holiday is centered around small, local businesses who traditionally offer incentives to encourage patronage of their stores, either the brick and mortar shops or their e-commerce sites. In turn, American Express has offered cash back incentives to those who make purchases on their company’s credit card with these local establishments.

Beyond these financial incentives are many other benefits you may have not before considered. We hope to give you some food for thought before you make that online or big box store purchase.

Shopping local:

Supports your local economy

Studies have shown that local business on average generate up to 70% more local economic activity per square foot than a big box retailer. In short, this means that your hard-earned money is staying within your community as small business are more likely to make transactions at other local businesses, service providers, farms, etc.

Supports community groups

Shopping local also helps many small non-profit community groups who depend on the support of local businesses for donations to fund services.

Helps to keep your community unique

Many towns have stores that sell unique gifts and toys that you simply cannot find anywhere else. These stores help make a community home and are an important part of tourism.

Helps to create jobs

Shopping local helps create and maintain jobs within your community. According to a study regarding big box retailer, Walmart, it was discovered that for every new job created by Walmart, 1.4 jobs are lost as existing businesses need to downsize or close. When you shop at a local business, your contribution to job growth doesn’t stop there: local businesses are likely customers of other local establishments like printers, accountants and attorneys, expanding opportunities throughout the community.

Invests in your community

Local businesses are owned by people who live in your community and therefore are less likely to leave. Additionally, these people are more invested in your community’s future, since it is closely linked to the future of their businesses.

Market Mentors is committed to helping local businesses. Our team is poised and ready to help design your new brochures or flyers, boost your social media presence, help with your media planning and buying—and just about everything in between. To find out more about our full-service agency, please contact us to see how we can help.


11.20.2017
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Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing Good Is Good Business

At Market Mentors, we know the value of a worthy cause. Beyond the feel-good factor, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an excellent way to build teamwork, enhance employee engagement, support your community, engage your customers—and yes, even provide benefit from positive public relations.

According to Deloitte’s 2017 Volunteerism Survey, 70 percent of employees would volunteer if they had more time. The survey also found that 89 percent of working Americans believe companies that sponsor volunteer campaigns offer better working environments than those that don’t.

With that in mind, here are some of the things we’ve learned over the years:

1. Make volunteering fun.

At Market Mentors, we all enjoy being around each other, so we don’t mind volunteering outside of work hours for worthwhile events. Our volunteer time allows us to practice what we preach—promote good deeds and have a good time doing them.

For example, this year marked our 9th annual Kids Safety Expo at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Free and open to the public, the event provides families with invaluable services to protect children. Our team, along with our event sponsors, brought games and fun attractions to each booth to make the event fun. More importantly, we brought energy to make sure the event was memorable for people of all ages.

As the Expo continues to grow, we see how it brings out people and local businesses who just want to be a part of it and help make things happen.

2. Pick causes that hit close to home.

Selecting causes closest to our hearts is a top priority. We look for volunteer opportunities that we’d be involved with regardless of our work.

That’s why we created in the annual Pink Day Initiative to raise funds for the Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research. The effort had deep meaning to everyone, and it was a big hit with the community––many of our clients and partners gave generously. Over the course of four years, we raised more than $25,000 to support breast cancer services and research for the Rays of Hope Center.

This year, we were stunned by the devastation we witnessed after the hurricanes in our country, so we turned our focus to raising funds for the Salvation Army for hurricane relief efforts. Stay tuned to learn how much was raised!

3. Volunteer for things you can do.

Inspired by National Volunteer Month, we found a way to volunteer as a team by preparing a meal for the children and families at the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield. We decided to make a Mexican-inspired meal, including a taco bar, rice and beans, guacamole, fajita-style vegetables and assorted frozen treats. And it turned out to be a smash hit.

The key was to be realistic about what we could bring them and what they would want. Even a simple idea like a taco bar turned into unique meal, and experience, for everyone involved.

4. Pick your spots.

To paraphrase best-selling author Tom Peters, if a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade. At Market Mentors, we’re always on the lookout for new CSR opportunities, for ourselves and our clients. That’s why when we were offered the chance to work with the Salvation Army’s “Coats for Kids” program, we seized the opportunity.

One of the most renowned charitable drives in western Massachusetts for 30+ years, “Coats for Kids” has given tens of thousands of coats to needy children. After we got involved with the revival of the program, we were effectively able to collect more than 3,000 coats over the past three years.

 You can do it!

There are many sources of pride we’ve had as a company, but none have been more powerful than these experiences that help our communities, bring people together, and even result in positive press for our partners.

If you are looking to launch your own corporate social responsibility program, you can start small. There are many local agencies and organizations who appreciate having volunteers to help with their endeavors; their websites often offer ways you can help.

If you need help organizing your efforts, give us a call. A CSR plan might just be the one thing you need to push your marketing strategies to the next level.


11.01.2017
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Market Mentors Honored among the Region’s “Super 60”

As the region’s largest and most trusted full-service advertising, marketing and public relations agency, we are thrilled to have again been named one of the 2017 Super 60 winners by the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Super 60 awards program, now in its 28th year, celebrates the success of the fastest-growing and privately-owned businesses in the region that continue to make significant contributions to the strength of the regional economy. The program recognizes 30 local companies with the highest revenue and 30 with the fastest growing revenue. Market Mentors qualified in both categories and was recognized in the area of revenue growth at the awards luncheon Friday, Oct. 27 at Chez Josef in Agawam.

Super 60 Award

Michelle Abdow accepts Super 60 award.

We are honored to again be included on this list of successful local businesses. Our agency brings together a vast amount of experience across a range of industries, including automotive, banking, higher education, health care, insurance, law, manufacturing, politics, retail and more. Despite the sometimes-turbulent economy, we have experienced steady growth thanks to the strong partnerships we develop with our clients and the results we deliver to them.

To be considered for the Super 60, companies must be based in Hampden or Hampshire counties or be a member of the Springfield Regional Chamber, have revenues of at least $1 million in the last fiscal year, be an independent and privately-owned company, and be in business at least three full years. Companies are selected based on their percentage of revenue growth over a full three-year period or total revenues for the latest fiscal year.

I founded Market Mentors in 2003. In the past year, we have expanded to 20 full-time employees and now offer a depth and breadth of experience that is hard to match in western Massachusetts and the region. And we continue to grow; to learn about open positions, visit marketmentors.com/careers.

Many people are surprised to find such a robust and experienced agency in our local market. We offer a suite of services not typical at other local agencies in the region, offering expertise in all things media––paid, earned, owned and shared—making us a true, full-service agency.

 

 

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10.20.2017
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Get to Know Your Customers

Forming meaningful relationships with your customers will inspire them to continue visiting your business. Plus, having their feedback will help you improve your bottom line.

Here are three easy ways to engage:

Host a reception

Hosting an event in honor of those who frequent your business will be a hit! It doesn’t have to be too elaborate, simply having a few refreshments and snacks will go a long way. Send invitations in the mail to preferred customers, or make it an open event for everyone. Either way you decide, holding an event will give you the opportunity to speak to customers and hear their feedback, not to mention strengthen relationships and reward loyal customers while gaining new ones. When a customer feels like they know you, they’ll be more likely to continue coming to your business.

Be social

Many businesses may not have the time or resources for frequent customer appreciation events, so social media is a great alternative. With that said, the communication needs to be two-way. If a customer comments on your Facebook profile, send them a message thanking them for their feedback. Businesses who take the time to interact with customers virtually build relationships in “real life”. Get into a habit of going online and conversing with your customers!

Send a survey

Whether you send a survey through the mail or via email, you’ll be able to determine your customer’s demographic and satisfaction level. When you send a survey, remember to include a message saying, “thank you for your patronage” and offering an incentive like a coupon with a discount or giveaway for responding to the survey (who doesn’t love free stuff?). Positive reinforcements will likely urge them to continue giving you their business, and potentially tell others about your company.

Each business is different, and your customers will have different needs, so if you still aren’t sure how to get to know your customers, consider a brainstorming session with your employees. Taking the time to acknowledge your customers will help solidify a relationship with them and keep them coming back!

Loyal customers are what makes every business successful, so turn an ordinary day into something extraordinary for the people who patronize your business. Make it a point to get to know your customers a little more and make them feel like they are important, because they are the backbone of every business. A small token of appreciation will go a long way, and soon you will be seeing them come back again and again.

Want to learn more about how you can benefit from all the expertise we can provide to you through comprehensive marketing, advertising and public relations? Contact us today.


09.20.2017
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The Price of PR: Grow Your Business with Earned Media

Marketing is a powerful business development tool, and with the rapid (and costly!) changes occurring in the media landscape, many businesses are struggling to find the budget to keep marketing in the business plan. That’s when public relations––one of the most cost-effective marketing initiatives connecting your experts with the public through the use of media––becomes even more important than ever.

News coverage is free

Unlike advertising, or paid media, public relations generates “earned media.” This means that when a reporter or editor interviews you, the reference in a news article is free of charge. There is, however, a cost (time) associated with the development of press releases or media outreach. But it’s worth remembering that successful public relations outreach can generate articles and broadcast stories that would cost considerably more if the space or air time was purchased through advertising.

Public relations builds awareness and credibility

Sometimes the most difficult part of business development is just getting your message in front of people. From new products and services to everyday best practices for living, there are many topics a reporter or editor may want to use your expertise to support.

Public relations professionals build relationships with the media to connect them with sources, which is often why contracting a marketing agency can be helpful. Just one article or broadcast story can amplify the awareness of a product, service or brand. What’s more, once reporters, editors and producers have an expert as a contact, they are likely to call back for other stories. Repeat appearances and regular guest columns are often the result of successful media outreach, which catapults awareness.

Credibility is one of the strongest arguments for the value of public relations. While a business or brand can say they are the best at what they do or produce, it does not ring true unless others think and say so, too.

Public relations opportunities

News coverage should be just that, new! Here are a few general ideas about topics that may intrigue media targets:

  • New products and services that offer value to their audience
  • New hires and promotions
  • Success stories
  • Accreditations, expertise and awards
  • Special events
  • Local expertise about trending topics

Overall, the benefits of public relations opportunities are vast. Understanding that it takes time to develop a relationship and rapport with key media targets and influencers is important. Equally important is how to facilitate media relations; for example, by being responsive to fast-paced deadlines and providing well-written, compelling press releases.

If done effectively, public relations is a cost-effective and persuasive marketing tool that businesses should consider as part of any marketing plan. When you’re ready, contact us––we have exceptionally strong connections with the media and a great record of producing results.


09.14.2017
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In a Creative Rut? 10 Ideas to Get Unstuck

Suffering from creative block? It happens to the best of us. At Market Mentors, however, our success often depends on our creativity, so we employ a variety of methods to keep our creativity flowing. Here are our top 10:

  1. Lisa T. turns to something creative in a different way, like painting or gardening. One form of creativity often leads to another.
  2. Sometimes, it’s hard to get out of your own way. Laura peruses creative websites to help jog her imagination and approach things from new angles.
  3. Silence is not always golden. Amanda, Shubhada and Sue S. turn up the tunes––just don’t try to get them to agree on what tunes!
  4. You got to move it, move it! Sarah and Shubhada both find dancing helps them relax and loosen up. In the same spirit, any sort of physical activity can help unblock your creative juices. Ashley lifts weights and Lisa G. likes to hit the gym.
  5. A change of scenery can change your perspective, which is why Amanda and Shubhada sometimes take a walk. The fresh air works wonders as well. Michelle often comes up with some of her best ideas while driving (or eating ice cream!).
  6. Group activities can improve the creativity of a whole team, provided it’s something everyone enjoys. We’ve done group paint nights, created succulent gardens, volunteered together to help local causes, and more. Escaping the confines of the office together adds an extra dimension to our work.
  7. Sue S. finds activating her left brain often stimulates her right brain, so she’ll play a quick game or two of Scramble with Friends or Bejeweled Blitz.
  8. Shubhada recommends journaling or coloring––those adult coloring books are popular for a reason!
  9. Our whole team knows that laughter can work creative magic! Our brainstorming sessions can get a bit silly, but we recognize that sometimes even the most outlandish ideas lead to something special.
  10. Wine a little! While we’re not promoting alcohol consumption, your creativity is often unleashed when you are at your most relaxed. Whether that includes a glass of wine, a relaxing bath or shower, or time with family, some down time can result in a boost of creativity.

Still stuck or want help executing your idea? Contact us. That’s what we’re here for!

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A handful of books
08.09.2017
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Staff Picks: Books That Have Helped Us In Our Careers

One of the best ways to learn something new is to read a book about it. Most of us at Market Mentors have been inspired in our careers, or have learned how to do what we do even better, thanks to books we’ve read. Here are some of our favorites, in no particular order:

Sue Spiry, Marketing Specialist

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. Many people panic when faced with a blank page they have to fill, even seasoned writers. Anne shares the advice her father gave her 10-year-old brother when he was faced with having to write a report on birds: “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” Anne’s words will inspire you from “Getting Started” to “Shitty First Drafts,” all the way through “How to Know When You’re Done.” And she’ll keep you laughing out loud along with way.

Nick Olds, Public Relations Account Executive

Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s about common themes and behaviors of exceptional people. It’s actually really interesting because Gladwell has a theory of the “10,000 hour rule” where if you practice something for that many hours, you’ll become world class in your field. Whether that’s true or not, I recommend this book because it presents a lot of really interesting ideas about practice and its impact on anything a person might want to do for a career.

Mary Lempke, Copywriter

The Wizard of Ads, by Roy H. Williams. A classic. Written nearly two decades ago, but the wisdom is timeless in this book that explores what works, and what doesn’t, in the world of advertising, and why.

Laura Stopa, Senior Designer

Leadership and Self-Deception, by The Arbinger Institute. This book offers an interesting way to think about how you interact with others and yourself. It’s written as a story, so it’s an enjoyable read. It gives you a way to determine when you are deceiving yourself, helps you take an unbiased look at how you treat and talk to people, and see how that affects others. A good choice for leaders/ managers/ employees who wonder why they have issues with other people in their work and personal lives.

Amanda Moyer, Director, Client Services

Start with Why, by Simon Sinek. I like that this book encourages people to think about context before they begin a project to ensure that each person on the team is on the same page from the start. It really makes you slow down, stop and think, which is important in our fast-paced environment. It’s important to share the big picture first so that people can think beyond what they are doing to why they are doing it.

Amy Scribner, Manager, Account Services

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shade Our Decisions by Dan Ariely. Ariely refutes the common assumptions that we behave in fundamentally rational ways; from drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a new car to choosing a romantic partner. He also talks about how we consistently underestimate and procrastinate, and yet all these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless––making us predictably irrational.

Paula Lynch, Media Coordinator

Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy. This book offers ways to stop procrastinating, focus on accomplishing the tasks that are most important, and get more done in less time. The concept is based on a quote from Mark Twain who said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Lisa Grenier, Account Executive

Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson. I am of the belief that we have a great amount of responsibility for our own career success. There are many who will continue in an environment that is not beneficial and yet not take the action required to change the environment. I sometimes think of the quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Once you stop expecting others to fix your problems, you become responsible and therefore more in control of your destination.

Michelle Abdow, President

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. If you are going to learn, you might was well learn from a master. This classic affirmed my belief to just be me, to be genuine. Carnegie’s advice is as relevant now as it was when he wrote this book over 60 years ago.

Meet our team. Want to learn how you can benefit from all of the expertise we’ve gleaned through books and decades of experience? Contact us today.

Brand Consistency Across Media
07.18.2017
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The Dos and Don’ts of a Successful, Integrated Campaign

Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you’re doing but nobody else does. – Stuart H. Britt

 

All too often, businesses adopt the belief that “if you build it, they will come.” The truth is, all products and services, no matter how good, will go unused if no one knows about them. Don’t be the best-kept secret. An advertising plan, no matter the scale, will increase awareness of your brand, and ultimately, your bottom line. The key to the success of your advertising campaign is inherently tied to your commitment in supporting it both philosophically and economically, and your vigilance in seeing it through, all the while maintaining consistency of voice and imagery.

Easier said than done, right? Not to fear. We’ve compiled the following advertising Dos and Don’ts to help you plan a successful, integrated advertising campaign.

1. DON’T fall victim to ‘me too’ messaging or imagery. DO differentiate.

“For all your needs.” Sure, maybe you do it all, soup-to-nuts, but proclaiming to be all things to all people, in addition to sounding cliché, is a missed opportunity to stand out. So many of your competitors are relying on canned, generic marketing-speak to convey their message. Why not capitalize on their lack of creativity and instead put forth a meaningful message to promote your brand or service?

Differentiating yourself visually is just as important as creating brand-specific messaging; be careful with stock photography. If the image you are using in your advertising campaign is not rights managed—meaning, you are paying a royalty to own it and block others in your target market from using it—you run the risk of driving down a main thoroughfare and seeing what you believe is your billboard, only to find out a competitor has selected “your image” for their own advertisement. Just as you would not choose to use the same logo as an existing company, so, too, should you refrain from sharing imagery with another business.

2. DON’T (try to) shove 10 pounds of anything in a 5-pound bag. DO clearly articulate your message (and make it concise!).

Take a minute and try to think of a slogan of a well-known brand. Perhaps NIKE’s “Just Do It.” came to mind. Or maybe you recalled the line made famous by MilkPEP (Milk Processor Education Program) in their national campaign: “Got Milk?®

What do these messages have in common? They’re short, catchy and above all else, concise. Why then, do so many companies fall prey to mixed messaging, industry jargon and never-ending copy in their print ads, radio spots and television commercials?

Trying to communicate too many messages doesn’t do anything but confuse your audience. Consumers have a small attention span so it’s often better to deliver one, focused message rather than a handful they will gloss over. If you’re keen on delivering a number of messages, consider advertising campaigns that focus on one message or benefit at a time. Targeted campaigns make better use of advertising resources and ultimately will increase your return on investment.

3. DO remain consistent. DON’T throw in the towel prematurely.

How fortunate if the advertisement for your product or service is played at the precise moment a consumer is contemplating it, and they are paying close attention. In the real world, this rarely happens. It is more likely that your customers only hear part of your advertisement and don’t retain your phone number or website.

That is why consistency and frequency in messaging is critical to the success of your advertising campaign. Your phones will only begin to ring after your message has been delivered to your target audience a number of times. The “Rule of Seven” is an old marketing adage that says a prospect needs to see or hear your marketing message at least seven times before they take action and buy from you (and with the media saturation that exists today, that number is likely much higher now).You will become tired of your campaign long before your customers, as it only gets through to them a limited number of times.

As difficult as it may be to wait for results to be yielded, the benefits will come in time.

4. DO take advantage of earned media opportunities. DON’T look a gift horse in the mouth.

Earned media opportunities are part of a well-rounded advertising plan. While free of cost in terms of placement, the amount of work that goes into securing them can far surpass the effort to purchase, for instance, a print advertisement in the very same publication. If you manage to secure time with a writer, editor or other news persona, it is imperative to work around their availability, even if the scheduled interview doesn’t perfectly align with your own busy schedule.

While it is difficult to measure effectiveness of many public relations activities, the credibility earned media provides proves invaluable in overall strategy and long-term planning. Further, the additional “mentions” allow your brand to remain top-of-mind with your target audience.

5. DO know your audience. DON’T assume you are a part of it.

You’ve just invested significant monies into producing, editing and placing a television commercial promoting your business. You pop some popcorn, settle in for the night in front of your television, waiting expectantly to view your masterpiece. As the night wears on and your eyes begin to droop, you’ve yet to see it flash across the screen—how could this be?

Before you get upset, ask yourself—are you the demographic you are trying to reach? Or do you just enjoy seeing your commercial on television?

An important aspect of advertising is targeted reach. It is just as important to refine your target audience as it is to refine your message. It’s important to know your audience and understand that may not be a part of it. If that’s the case, you want to place your messages where they will hear them, and you won’t.

Final Thought

If developing a successful, integrated advertising campaign still seems daunting, let us help. Our expert team will work with you to create and place your messaging where it needs to be to drive results.

Email Oops! Button on Keyboard
06.22.2017
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Email Do’s and Dont’s

Sending emails to your boss, co-workers, prospects or existing clients has the potential to be a minefield of professional correctness/decorum, with each inappropriate joke and incorrectly capitalized letter a disaster waiting to happen. Sending an email is obviously very convenient but should not be used to upset or avoid someone.

  • Don’t use emails to avoid personal contact – If you’re sending an email that could potentially confuse or be emotional for the recipient, call the person or speak with them face-to-face.
  • Reply to all emails sent to you – If it appears you were sent a message by accident, still reply to make sure it was a mistake. Also, try to respond to emails within 24 hours on the next business day.
  • Email is not private – Email is considered business property, so assume the email will be read by everyone. Also, don’t use your business email for personal matters.
  • Very important! Check over your email twice before sending it out – Not only do you want to make sure it’s clear, and words are spelled correctly, you also want to verify: subject line, correct contact information and add any attachments.
  • Add the email address last – You don’t want to accidently send the email before you have finished writing or proofing the emails. Also double-check you selected the correct recipient.
  • Keep tabs on your tone – For sensitive emails, have a trusted colleague read it and provide feedback on the tone or words that may be misinterpreted.
  • “Reply All” Use “Reply All” when you are dividing up responsibilities for a group task, or you have a question about a group task or event that everyone in the email group needs to have answered. Another rule of thumb, use “Reply All” if your answer will affect others’ plans of action. And if you need to target only a few members of the group, use the FORWARD function and enter the members’ names manually.

There are a variety of pitfalls we all succumb to when emailing and we should be mindful to avoid them. Starting with the subject line to the closing, email should be thought of as an important piece of communication that should be used wisely.

  • Include a clear and straightforward subject line – The recipient will decide if it’s worth opening now or later based on the subject line. Great examples include “Proposal ideas” or “Presentation date changed.”
  • Don’t use Bcc (blind copy) to keep others from seeing who you copied – Bcc should only be used when sending to a large distribution list so recipient’s messages won’t be cluttered with a long list of email addresses. Only Cc people who are directly involved.
  • Use professional salutations – Salutations such as “Dear”, “Hi”, or “Good Morning” are appropriate – depending on how familiar you are with the recipient, you may use their first name, their last name (with Mr., Ms. Mrs.) or a combination of the two.
  • Use phrases such as – “Sincerely”, “Yours sincerely”, “Thank you”, “Thank you again”, “Respectfully yours”, etc. Also, don’t forget to thank the recipient for their time. Lastly, include your name and title, your employer’s name, the business’ postal address, and business phone number.
  • Keep messages brief and to the point, concentrating on one subject per message if possible – At one point, everyone has had to wade through clunky, wordy emails that took two paragraphs to ask one question.
  • Don’t be careless with grammar Don’t write in all caps, as IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE YELLING. Don’t write in all lower case, because it looks lazy. Use exclamation points sparingly and only to convey excitement. Most important, use good grammar. Not only are you representing your company, you are also representing yourself. Don’t use abbreviations such as “ain’t”, “LOL”, or BTW, etc.
  • Don’t use fancy fonts – They are unprofessional and not everyone is able to display these images.

And there you have it: emails: keep it to-the-point, clear, and classy and you shouldn’t have any problems.