Snap South Brisbane provides an excellent example of how to integrate offline and online marketing through the use of a creative business card. Snap was a traditional printing business that has diversified into web design, online marketing, email marketing, e-publications and QR Codes. In the process, Snap offers integrated offline and online marketing services. This integration is reflected in the Snap South Brisbane business card.
Integrating offline and online marketing through your business card
Who would have thought that the business card (the old bastion of offline marketing) would be an important means of integrating offline and online marketing, particularly in this era of social media marketing? Snap South Brisbane illustrates this integration through their own business card.
You can see from the Snap business card pictured above that it incorporates images depicting their various services as well as QR Codes for mobile marketing. The marketing solutions offered by Snap and illustrated on the business card include graphic design, print, web design, creative concepts and online marketing.
The reverse side of the business card has the tag line, “We do more!”, along with icons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. This is illustrated by the business card for the Group Manager, Sales and Marketing, Jeff Polley:
Using the business card as stimulus, you are able to quickly access social media sites for Snap South Brisbane or alternatively you can access these sites via the Snap website through scanning the QR Codes with a mobile device such as an iPhone or iPad.
The relevant social media sites for Snap South Brisbane are:
I think there are some lessons here for other small to medium businesses not only in the way Snap has reinvented itself to take account of the Internet age but also through its own creative marketing. Snap South Brisbane offers integrated offline and online marketing and illustrates this integration though its creative business card.
It’s difficult to develop a small business plan when you are confronted with an economic crisis which impacts differentially in parts of your market. Some aspects of your marketplace may suffer severe downturn while others experience growth. Even in our marketplace, the public sector, you can experience severe downturns. The challenge is to develop flexibility to build organizational resilience. However, as the image above shows, behind every dark cloud, there is a silver lining.
One of the results of an economic crisis, is that you are forced to go back to basics and rethink why you exist, who you serve and how you are doing things. This was what we experienced in the Global Financial Crisis when our human resource consultancy business lost 50% of its income in 6 months owing to expenditure constraints imposed by the State Government and the loss of a major client.
What I found sustaining in that situation (and in our current economic crisis) is our vision – to enable the public service to be the best that it can be. We pursue that vision through the human resource services we provide – recruitment and selection, psychometric assessment, career development, development of HR policy and practice, organisational design, training and development, organisational development, research and analysis, management development and team building.
We are very conscious that if the public service delivers effectively and efficiently, the quality of life of many people in the community will improve – whether in transport, child safety, education, economic support, childcare, health, public safety or other arenas impacted positively by quality public services.
[Photo: Copyright Ron Passfield – Sun breaking through dark clouds in an autumn sunrise in Brisbane]
Options for a small business plan in times of economic crisis
When we were confronted with the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) we adopted two core strategies for our business:
broaden our client base
broaden the range of services/products we offer.
These are classical strategies frequently discussed in the strategic marketing books and articles. When we adopted these strategies for our human resources business, we were able to rebuild our income after the GFC. What we did not do enough of, is expand our client base within the public sector and this has left us more vulnerable to the current economic crisis for our small business resulting from budget measures introduced by the new State Government in Queensland.
The State Government has introduced a freeze on public sector recruitment, travel and non-essential (non-front line) training and conferences. This effectively freezes our major sources of income and is likely to have an even more dramatic result on our income than the GFC had.
When considering expanding your client base, you really have to revisit why you exist as a small business and who you want to serve. We had explored the idea of expanding into the private sector but decided that the public sector is the client group we want to serve because this group is more closely aligned to our values – including service to the community.
When you are considering expansion of services/products, it is important not to over-extend yourself beyond your areas of competence. We were lucky enough to have untapped core competencies amongst our human resource consultants to make this service expansion an easy transition. The challenge has been to extend our branding to incorporate these new services.
A small business plan when your business-to-business market dries up
With the freeze (of indeterminate length) on recruitment, travel and non-essential training/conferences in the State public sector, we are confronted with a short-term drying up of our business-to-business market. The challenge for us now in our small business planning is to find innovative ways to provide our services and products to a wider client base.
Some of the strategies that you could adopt in this kind of constrained environment are:
switch from a business to business (B2b) focus to a business to consumer (B2c) focus
offer free seminars/workshops/e-books to retain and build client loyalty and expand your client base
expand the geographical offering of your face-to-face services (e.g. offer them interstate)
offer your services in a different format (e.g. by webinar instead of face-to-face)
develop products such as e-books, podcasts and videos that you offer globally rather than locally (break through the local geographical barriers)
explore under-utilized capacity
develop capacity in anticipation of the release of pent-up demand.
Every economic crisis forces small businesses to build flexibility and innovation into their small business plan if they are to survive and grow their income.
It’s the time of the year that we look down from our holiday unit or survey the ocean before us and do a brainstorm of New Year resolutions. Well that is what I have often done and sometimes it works out for me and other times I still have a long list of New Year resolutions at the end of the year that have not been actioned. Does this happen for you in your personal life or in your small business?
I recently came across two people who questioned this practice and effectively asked independently, ‘Do you need New Years resolutions or a single whole hearted ommitment?’
Seth Godin in discussing intentions to improve productivity for the year, concluded sagely:
You don’t need a new plan for next year. You need a commitment.
He suggests that once you make a real commitment, then all the tips and hints in the world will not be needed – the commitment will drive the improved productivity.
In an earlier post, I mentioned a conversation I had on Google + that started with Chris Brogan recommending a video by Tom Terwilliger. Tom’s video, Get Audacious in 2012, recommends:
…invoking some real passion by setting an empowering, challenging and audacious goal for the new year.
As Tom illustrates in his video, setting an audacious goal will drive other sub-goals and activities in line with the goal. So instead of setting a dozen New Year resolutions around health, fitness and diet, you might set a single goal – ‘To get fit so that I can play actively with my energetic children. This goal, if fully committed to, will drive changes in your behavior such as more exercise and a better diet.
I have found personally that a single overarching, challenging goal has led me to change lots of things that were getting in the road of achieving that goal – e.g. my goal to create a blog post daily has led to changes in the way I spend my time on the Internet (a lot less aimless browsing), reduced the time I spend reading email, limited the time I spend watching TV or movies and increased my commitment to walk daily. The daily blogging schedule is driven by my desire to develop an online business in small business marketing, in addition to my offline business.
So as the New Year gets underway, are you going to persist with your New Year resolutions or commit to a single overarching goal that is audacious and captures your passion and creativity?
As 2011 comes to a close, it is instructive to reflect on the massive changes to small business marketing that occurred during the year and to look at their implications. These changes were driven by a number of landmark events that spawned innovations.
One of the key drivers of the changes that small business marketing confronts today, and into 2012, is the direct competition between Google and Facebook for Number One position on the Internet (and all the revenue that goes with this position). The impact of this competition is being felt throughout the Internet marketing world and in social media. There are many people becoming disengaged by the endless changes created by the two Giants of the Internet as they try to outpace each other. One possible prognosis is that this could open up the arena for another player who undermines the customer base of the both the big players, as Facebook did to MySpace.
I want to focus on seven (7) key changes as a way to highlight the impacts from a small business marketing perspective. This approach is in line with my suggestion to write blog posts in sets and sevens. So here are the seven key changes in 2011 affecting small business marketing:
1. Google Places upgrade and resurgence
Google introduced improvements to Google Places, the platform for local businesses to highlight their location, hours of business and their products/services. Along with these changes, Google gave new prominence to Google Places in local search results, changing the display and increasing the value of a Google Places web presence. Sadly, very few small businesses understand the value of this change and have failed to take up their allotted Google Places website. In 2012, Google Places will be an absolutely essential part of your small business marketing. Without it, you may find yourself dropping deeper and deeper in the list of local search engine results as your competitors make full use of this facility (one which Google itself hosts!).
2. Changes to Facebook Pages
The big news of 2011, was that Facebook had more web traffic (visitors) in March than Google and took over the Number One position in terms of search engine volume. The race is now on and Google and Facebook are involved in a head-on tussle to capture (or retain) the number one position. This competition has generated many changes on both sites. Facebook has made major changes to its Facebook Pages to make further inroads into the business market. These changes have complicated the scene for small business marketing. It has meant that many small business owners have had to ignore Facebook or engage small business marketing consultants (who are struggling themselves to keep up with the changes). But how can you ignore the Number One source of web traffic that is also a social media site with over 700 Million members?
3. Introduction of Google Plus and Google +1
Google quickly responded to Facebook’s resurgence with the introduction of its own social network, Google Plus. It also introduced an equivalent to the Facebook “Like” in the form of the Google +1 button. There are other major changes in Google’s search algorithm and results display that accompanied these changes. The challenge for small business owners is, “How can you keep abreast of these changes and their implications for small business marketing?”. Again, you cannot afford to ignore the Google changes or your competition will be appearing in a much more prominent way than you as Google attempts to “reward’ those who get on board with its new social network and related changes.
4. The resurgence of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the world’s largest online network focused on business and in 2011 grew to over 130 Million members. LinkedIn is a new and growing force in small business marketing. Depending on the nature of your business, it can be a critical component of your small business marketing, particularly in the light of the overall growth of social networking which looks like continuing unabated in 2012. The introduction of status updates by LinkedIn is an attempt to utilise its growing power to move into the Big League occupied by Facebook and Google.
5. The growth of local marketing
During 2011, there was a massive switch of focus by Internet marketers from affiliate marketing to local marketing. This was driven in part by two influences, (1) the decline of affiliate income owing to the depressed economy in the US and (2) and the recognition that around 80% of business for offline businesses comes from within a 5 kilometre radius. The changes to Google Places and the emergence of social networking ‘review” sites, intensified this new focus. What it means for your small business marketing is that you have to make the most of online local marketing tools because your competitors are being courted daily by Internet marketers who see this area of consulting as a the new “goldmine”. The new superstars of Internet marketing generate their income from monthly retainers paid by businesses, small and large, for local marketing services.
6. The massive growth of mobile marketing
With the advent of the Smart Phone and the associated growth of mobile usage, mobile marketing has taken off as the new frontier for Internet marketing. This growth is being aided by the focus on local marketing and has spawned the development of thousands of apps for mobile phones. Two new areas of online riches are emerging, (1) the creation and sale of mobile phone apps and (2) the development of mobile marketing strategies and tools (software). As a small business marketer, you are going to need mobile compatible websites and mobile marketing tools. One advantage of Google Places discussed above is that it is already mobile-compatible – which is another reason why it is so critical for small business marketing.
7. 2011 – The Year of the PlugIn
With so many changes on so many fronts, WordPress developers have had a field day. There has been a massive growth in WordPress Plugin development in 2011. I receive an invite every day to purchase two or three new plugins. It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep abreast of these software innovations. However, the WordPress plugins are designed to make it easier for you to accommodate your small business marketing to the changes that are occurring in Internet marketing. Many of the plugins help you to automate your small business marketing process.
In succeeding posts, I will further explain these 2011 changes and highlight their implications for small business marketing moving into 2012.
Christmas is a very special time of the year for many people worldwide but do you know how many of your customers do not celebrate this festive season?
There was an article in ‘The Australian‘ newspaper recently that highlighted the fact that our old assumptions about demographics could be very wrong in relation to the religion of our customers. The newspaper reported that parents at one Montessori School in an inner suburb of Sydney were ‘up in arms’ over the lyrics used in Christmas songs at the school. Apparently, the words, ‘We wish you a happy holiday’ were substituted for ”We wish you a Merry Christmas’.
Some parents were really upset that all reference to Christmas, Santa and the birth of Christ were omitted from the lyrics, despite the children singing five songs.
The Montessori school’s response reiterated the ‘inclusive, co-educational, non-denominational’ nature of the school which includes educating children in multi-cultural awareness.
The Principal explained the shool’s policy in these terms:
Out policy is that we give children keys to the world and we show them many celebrations including Christmas. We look at cultures and the particular ways that people celebrate such as Easter, Christmas and Chanukah.
Apparently, the teacher involved was trying to accommodate the fact that there were Hindus and Jewish children in their classroom.
But it does raise the issue about what assumptions you have about the religious make-up of your customer base. Do you assume that everyone is Christian? Have you accommodated other religions in your marketing?
A Happy Christmas to those who celebrate this Festive Season