At the dawn of the Internet, the focus by advertisers was on broad, mass appeal advertising. Brands were consumed with generic level keywords and dominating positions around these terms was the sole focus of many companies – and make no mistake, it worked well for those fortunate enough to dominate the search landscape. Over time, things have changed….Web users are savvier, they don’t want generic answers, they want specific answers. This scenario has created a world of opportunity for advertisers who can now more firmly focus on a niche rather than just a broad based objective.

A focus that I feel adds value to brands is understanding what their identity is and truly defining their demographic. By working to segment your target audiences and understanding how they engage with your product offering or service, smart marketers are able to offer different channels for prospects to enter and engage. For example, if you run a company that provides repair services to cell phones, you need to find customers who need this service. You break down the needs around different demographics and create funnels for the consumers to enter. I always feel semantics play a large part in driving the right targeted traffic. In many cases, we recommend setting up several different websites with very specific niche focuses to entice customers to engage.

The Internet is a large, ever growing playing field. The more real estate you have on the Web, the more chance you have of being found. The ability to focus in on a niche and dominate the niche while expanding that same process across to your other demographics will provide you with a campaign strategy that outpaces your competition.

International Franchise ExpoIf a company is franchised, it’s safe to say that they’re doing something right. Franchising is a business practice that’s experiencing an impressive level of global growth in the current business world. Becoming a franchise is equated with success in large part because it takes a business plan that has proven to be successful to grow in such a way, and because such growth creates job opportunities and a place to put collaborative ideas to work, it’s easy to see why hundreds of thousands of small businesses aspire to join the movement.

E-commerce and online marketing is part of the reason franchising is becoming so popular on the global scale. Now more than ever, business owners have access to the tools, storefront platforms, and audiences they need to brand themselves and secure new clients.

Since helping businesses gain traction is what WebiMax is all about, the International Franchise Expo in NYC is an event we’re thrilled to attend. As the largest franchise expo in the United States, this event is an opportunity for attendees to network with over 400 of the country’s top franchises, learn how to grow their own franchises, find opportunities with others in their field, and gain insight about ways to catalyze their business’s growth. Whether you’re looking to get on board with an established franchise or seeking tips as a new franchise owner, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

No matter what industry you’re interested in, the International Franchise Expo is going to have an opportunity for you. The event is put together specifically to connect investors and those seeking opportunity with franchises that have opportunities to offer. It’s a unique and invaluable experience for franchisees to learn the ropes and find out about new and exciting industries. The event runs this Thursday through Saturday, the 20th to the 22nd, so drop by our booth if you’re going to stop in! We’ll be at booth number 373 for the entirety of the event. Hope to see you there!

2013 Paradigm Awards Last Friday, I attended the 2013 Paradigm Award ceremony at the Hyatt at the Bellevue’s Grand Ballroom in Philadelphia, PA and I was fortunate enough to witness this year’s honoree, Denise Morrison of Campbell’s Soup Company, accept the prestigious award.  Presented by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the yearly luncheon was organized to celebrate and recognize prominent professional women in the area and their contributions to local businesses.

As President & CEO of Campbell’s, Denise’s guidance has helped the company achieve success across the board, but what intrigued me the most about Denise’s acceptance speech was learning that one of Campbell’s biggest apparent challenges as a business is adapting their model to the digital age.

While Campbell’s is a brand name that has long been synonymous with soup, several competitors have emerged in the industry within recent years and have quickly gained ground, both offline and online.  This competition has given Campbell’s incentive to maximize their marketing efforts and reach a new audience on the Web while still striving to maintain their significant offline presence, as well.

Many of the Paradigm Award attendees understood Denise’s goal to build a stronger presence online, as these local business owners and managers have worked to enhance their marketing strategy in recent years.  With a stronger focus on their social media marketing and on-site user experience, Campbell’s has been able to tap into the lucrative Internet market and businesses (both locally and nationally) have followed suit.

The Internet has changed many businesses on a fundamental level and even large companies like Campbell’s are no exception.  As a truly forward-thinking and innovative CEO, Denise Morrison’s push to make Campbell’s a more Web-focused business has not only enhanced their brand recognition but helped to increase their revenue, as well.

WebiMax congratulates Denise Morrison on receiving the Paradigm Award and we look forward to next year’s ceremony!

For more on the Paradigm Awards, visit the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce website at www.greaterphilachamber.com/paradigm.  Want to know when WebiMax will be attending a conference or networking event near you?  Follow us on Twitter: @WebiMax to find out!

I love Andy Cohen.

For anyone who isn’t a reality TV junkie like me, he’s the Executive Vice President of Development and Talent at the Bravo network. He also hosts the Real Housewives reunion shows and Bravo’s late night show Watch What Happens Live.

Basically, he’s who I can thank for bringing level-ten drama and hilarity into my living room every night.

I could go on and on about the reasons why he’s so great, but I’ll spare you the countdown of my favorite WWHL moments and focus only on what’s relevant here: Andy Cohen has an exceptional ability to use social media to connect with his audience, build his brand, and generate buzz for the network.

As the Social Media Manager at WebiMax, I have a deep appreciation for the way he integrates his fans into all of his television episodes. Here’s a list of 5 social media tips that any brand or marketer can learn from Andy Cohen.

5. Be Approachable

Part of what makes Andy so successful on his late night TV show and in the social media world is that he’s as relatable in the WWHL Clubhouse as he is in his Facebook posts and tweets. He even takes Instagram “selfies” from his dressing room and shares them on Twitter:

selfie

When it comes to social media marketing, brands should make an effort to be personable. It’s this approachability that encourages the user engagement that is so important to a successful campaign. Humanize your business – put faces to the names of your execs; let their personalities shine.

4. Reward Your Fans

Andy Cohen is always rewarding his fans: he sends signed copies of his book to those who call into his show and he even invites super-fans to be guest bartenders in the Clubhouse through a video contest called “Raise the Bar.”

raise the bar ss

Turning enthusiastic fans into brand advocates who tweet and blog about your products or services is a smart way to get more value from social media marketing efforts. Rewarding these engaged customers for their loyalty will help you create a powerful marketing force that will generate sales for you. First, find out what these fans want the most and find a way to indulge those cravings.

3. Be Consistent

Every episode of WWHL has a formula: every night there’s a secret drinking game word; Andy announces his “mazel” and “jackhole” of the day; he has “game time!” with his guests; viewers call in with their questions for Andy or whoever is in the Clubhouse that night; and Andy takes a poll in which viewers vote on an answer to a question that usually has to do with the most recent drama on any of Bravo’s reality shows and announces the results at the end of the episode:

bravo ss 2

As an avid viewer, not only do I look forward to each one of these components of his show, but now I expect them. Consistency is a basic marketing concept that should be applied to your social media posts in order to create a sense of reliability that people respond to. The first 100 times I saw one of these polls on WWHL I didn’t bother to vote, but now I find myself wanting to chime in every once in a while – a perfect example of how consistent messages and methods boost engagement.

The key is to also be persistent. Just because you don’t get a ton of user engagement right away doesn’t mean people aren’t seeing your messages or relating to them. Being consistent and persistent with your content and strategies is an effective way to get the most out of your social media marketing.

2. Engage, Engage, Engage

In addition to the WWHL poll questions, Andy Cohen is constantly soliciting questions from his fans for his guests via Facebook and Twitter. Then he chooses the best questions to ask during his live show which makes the viewing experience interactive:

andy cohen fb ss

He built his persona by interacting with fans on Twitter and commenting on his show’s online forums, so Andy Cohen is a pro when it comes to engaging with fans. Integrating these tactics into WWHL and his Real Housewives reunion shows by reading viewer questions accomplishes two things: it allows viewers to participate in the shows they love, and it rewards those who take the time to enter their questions.

Social media marketers take note – fostering action and engagement by talking with your audience instead of AT them is most effective. Interacting with fans and followers by asking what they think, feel, and need encourages them to treat your brand like a true friend and ultimately encourages behaviors that help promote the brand.

1. Listen to Your Audience

A few months ago, Andy Cohen invited Jill Zarin, a former Real Housewives of New York cast member, to the Clubhouse for a special episode of WWHL to discuss how the decision was made by Bravo to fire her from the show. Andy explained,

We were looking to shake the show up. The viewers were the ones that, to us, dictated that they wanted something to change. That last reunion, I think you would agree, was incredibly toxic for everyone involved and when it was over the viewers and then the producers and then Bravo said ‘What can we do to change it?’

Notice how Andy listed the viewers first in the series of people who contributed to the decision to fire Jill and some of her cast mates. Because Andy Cohen is so engaged with the Bravo audience, he is in tune with what they want. And, he’s prepared to give it to them, as he proved when he awkwardly dismissed Jill from her role on the show.

Listening to your audience and giving them what they want is the most important part of social media marketing. Hearing what your customers have to say about your brand is only one part of the process; putting those opinions into action is the step that takes engagement and user feedback to the next level.

How do you achieve social media marketing success? Is there anything you think I’ve left off this list? Do you love Andy Cohen as much as I do? Share your thoughts by leaving me a comment.

Most marketers, I hope, are familiar with traditional push-pull strategies.  But, me being me, I don’t like to assume things–we all know what happens when you do that.

If you’re unfamiliar with push and pull marketing, here’s the gist of it:

  • Push marketing aggressively seeks out the consumer, often incentivizing them with discounts and special offerings.  This strategy touts, or pushes, these deals to customers so they’ll buy.
  • Pull marketing generates brand awareness, essentially pulling the customer in because they want to learn more.

Not clear enough? Let’s look at some examples.

Traditional Push Example

Anything that urges you to strike while the iron is hot or claims to offer an unbeatable deal is typically a push strategy.  Think “limited time hotel deals” and the “McDonald’s Dollar Menu.”

Traditional Pull Example

Unlike push strategies which tend to be rather blunt, pull strategies are much more subtle.  They don’t simply use low prices to market their product.  They aim to build brand awareness.  Think Apple and Red Bull.

Apple rarely pushes their products onto their customers via special offers.  Innovative advertising and word-of-mouth pulls customers in.  Red Bull, which also uses innovative advertising, uses sponsorships–X Games, Formula 1, etc.– as well to rope people in.

While some companies lean heavily on the push and some heavily on the pull, most companies try to strike a balance between the two.  After all, it’s tough to generate awareness without putting your name out there.

Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about traditional marketing.  How does this tie into what you’re really here to learn about, online marketing?

A New Push-Pull Strategy for Online Marketing

Make no mistake about it–online marketing is still marketing.  All the general principles still apply.  And with Panda, Penguin, and any future cuddly updates, online marketers are being forced to get back to basics.

That being said, the Internet is a relatively new medium for marketers.  With social networks popping up left and right, the people, the customers, are out there. We’re no longer marketing to “Internet users.”  We’re marketing to people with faces, with online profiles full of information.

With those customers at our finger tips, it puts marketers in a unique position.  They have the ability to push products (*cough* spamming *cough*) but they also have the ability to study their customers and develop ways to pull them in.

Websites and blogs are pull strategies.  By fine-tuning them with on-site search engine optimization tactics, we’re improving that pull strategy.  Your website and your blog are your brand and you need to build that.  Even your company’s social media profiles, which may seem like push strategies on the surface, can in fact be pull strategies.  If used properly, they build brand awareness.

That brings me to content marketing, currently the industry’s biggest buzzword.  Companies are now their own publishers.  They create what they believe to be useful content for their customers and publish it on the web.  However, with customers so close to us on social media networks, it’s easy to push when we mean to be pulling–just think of all those “social profiles” who simply pump out articles and blogs without any real commentary.

In the end, you’re likely to see more long-term success through pull marketing online.  Of course, like I said before, though, some push is needed to help you get off the ground.  For example, an e-mail campaign, which can be effective if done correctly and sparingly, is a push strategy that I encourage you to employ.  You can also push certain offers through your social media profiles as long as that’s not all you’re using it for.

Marketing certainly isn’t anything new.  The Internet and how it’s used today is though.  That means we need to adapt our traditional strategies for the web while maintaining a healthy balance between pushing and pulling.

 

MOUNT LAUREL, NJ (AUG. 21, 2012) – Inc. magazine today ranked WebiMax No. 37 on its 31st annual Inc. 500, an exclusive ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States.  In addition, WebiMax is the highest ranked New Jersey-based private organization on this list.

Kenneth Wisnefski, founder and CEO WebiMax, a leading online marketing firm founded in 2008, announced “in our first year of eligibility for the Inc. 500, WebiMax is pleased to be included in this famed list and be placed amongst the nation’s top tier of private organizations experiencing explosive growth.”

The 2012 Inc. 500, unveiled in the September issue of Inc. (available on newsstands August 21 to November 15 and on Inc.com), is the most competitive crop in the list’s history. To make the cut, companies had to be founded in 2008, and have achieved a staggering minimum of 770% in sales growth. The Inc. 500’s aggregate revenue is $15.7 billion, with a median three-year growth of 1,431 percent. The companies on this year’s Inc. 500 employ more than 48,000 people and generated over 40,000 jobs in the past three years. Complete results of the Inc. 500|5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at http://www.inc.com/500.

“WebiMax is one of the fastest growing private companies not just in the United States, but also in our industry,” states Wisnefski.  “Our commitment to delivering high quality and innovative online marketing services to more than 800 clients worldwide has earned us this distinction and I thank the individuals at Inc. magazine for this representation.”

Methodology

The 2012 Inc. 500|5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2008 to 2011. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2008. They had to be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent—not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies—as of December 31, 2011.  The minimum revenue required for 2008 is $100,000; the minimum for 2011 is $2 million. As always, Inc. reserves the right to decline applicants for subjective reasons. Companies on the Inc. 500 are featured in Inc.’s September issue. They represent the top tier of the Inc. 5000, which can be found at www.inc.com/500.

About Inc.

Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures, Inc. is the only major brand dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies, with the aim to deliver real solutions for today’s innovative company builders.  Total monthly audience reach for the brand has grown significantly from 2,000,000 in 2010 to over 6,000,000 today.  For more information, visit http://www.inc.com/500.

About WebiMax.

Led by serial web entrepreneur Kenneth Wisnefski, WebiMax has become the leader in online marketing services, including a focus on Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Paid Search and PPC, Website Design and Development, Reputation Management, and more. The company was named to the 2012 Inc. 500 (No. 37 overall) and was also selected as one of America’s Most Promising Companies (2011) by Forbes Magazine (No. 30 overall).  The company employs over 100 personnel in 12 offices including 8 U.S. based, and 4 International. Visit http://www.webimax.com/ for more information.