Quick & Easy Retail Marketing Tips

When it comes to helping your business stand out in the crowded retail industry, a well thought-out marketing strategy and proper execution can be what sets the good retailers apart from the great. And if you’re looking to improve your marketing efforts, there are a few quick, easy things you can do right now to help improve your visibility.

Updating Your Brand Identity

One area that many businesses can improve their marketing is by making sure they are presenting a proper brand identity. Your brand identity is considered to be all the visible elements of your brand — think color, design, logo and signage — that help identify and distinguish your brand in a customer’s mind.

Many businesses, especially those that have been around for decades, may have a mixed brand identity, e.g., some social media channels show old logos, while using new logos on their website.

By taking the time to ensure your brand identity is streamlined across all of your touchpoints with customers — including social media, email marketing, website and various business listings — you are providing them with the important benefit of making your brand recognizable. With a streamlined brand identity, customers immediately identify a certain color, shape or logo with your company, making it easier to connect with your company and separating you from other retailers.

Improving Your Website

In the digital age, it’s not just local retailers that you are competing with, but also national brick-and-mortar and online chains. Companies of all sizes are using search engine optimization (SEO) on their online stores to move up in Google’s search results in an attempt to acquire more customers.

If your website is outdated, with poor design and inaccurate information, you could not only be missing out on sales now, but hurting your chances to acquire future customers as well.

Some simple steps business owners can take right now include updating the website’s information — such as hours, sale information, location information and more — to ensure you’re providing your customers with the most accurate information.

Another way to help your website is to make sure the design is updated to reflect the same logos and branding, and keeping a streamlined look with your social media channels, as previously mentioned.

Finally, you can do some work on your SEO presence to help move your website up in Google’s search results. Some of the small changes to make right away are including your company’s story directly on the home page, considering adding a blog (and updating it regularly with fresh information and customer-oriented topics) and including great, high-quality photography throughout the website.

Making Social Media Adjustments

If your company isn’t currently using social media, setting up the appropriate social media channels for your business should be a high priority.

Nearly 42% of the world’s population — or roughly 3.2 billion people — are active on social media each and every day, and that number is constantly growing. Furthermore, according to GlobalWebIndex, over 54% of consumers will browse a company’s social media to research products or services before making a purchase.

All of your social media channels should have a single, streamlined look — with matching profile pictures (which should just be a company logo), similar cover photos (for Facebook and Twitter) and similar company descriptions and categories across all platforms. By using a single brand identity, your company is recognizable by customers on any platform, eliminating any potential confusion over official company profiles.

Once you optimize your profiles, it’s time for content. A great way to get customers — and potential customers — engaging right away is to interact with them by responding in a timely manner to comments, inquiries and messages on any channel. When producing content, your first thought should always be making sure you’re sharing what customers want to see and information they might be looking for. Social media is also a great place to promote deals, exclusive products, coupons and more.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a nearly unmatched way to help increase your business’ exposure. Over 99% of customers open their email at least once a day, according to the popular marketing company HubSpot. But even more than just increasing exposure, email marketing gives you company new ways to present your customers with different purchasing opportunities.

There are a variety of email marketing platforms that you can set up in just minutes and easily implement into your company’s website, including MailChimp, Klaviyo, and Constant Contact. Almost all of these platforms offer easy setup, customizable options and drag-and-drop email template editors.

Once your email marketing is set up, the various platforms give you an opportunity to get creative and help incentivize your customers to shop with your business. On your website, for example, you can offer your customers exclusive coupons in exchange for signing up for your email distribution list. Using emails to send offers on special product releases, coupons and exclusive deals are another great way to use your email marketing strategies.

Be Informative

One of the most important — and underrated — content tips a business can use today is to create and share informative content with their customers. Having a blog isn’t just a benefit for your company’s SEO — it can also help in providing thought-provoking content to your customers. A business can use a blog on their website to share product tips and techniques; this is a great way to not only drive customers to your website, but to establish your store as an expert.

You can also use email marketing the same way you use a company blog. By sending out weekly or monthly emails with the latest blogs on your website, news from around your business, or even industry information, you can connect with your customers on an informative level — continuing to establish credibility and drive more potential customers to your website.

On social media, posts that contain an informative video (rather than just a promotional post) see an average of 48% more engagement and interaction. Using videos across your social media platforms to share the same information given in the examples above can be a great way to drive traffic and engagement.

Creativity and engagement are the name of the game across all of the digital marketing channels in almost every industry, especially retail. And by just implementing even one of the items above, it can go a long way in helping increase your business’ visibility to customers online.


At SmartSolutions, our team can help assess your company’s marketing strategies and efforts and help you create a plan for your digital marketing channels.

Contact our team today to get your free consultation!

 

Every company has a story — and at SmartSolutions, we’re passionate about helping you tell that story. 

Better Business: Utilizing unexpected downtime to learn new skills

While many find themselves spending more time at home or in isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners are finding themselves facing new challenges — particularly, more downtime than they might be used to. But just because we have more time to ourselves than usual doesn’t mean we have to stop improving while the world slows down around us. 

From internet courses and webinars to Facebook groups and forums, we are surrounded by a wealth of resources when it comes to bettering ourselves and learning new skills. Here’s a few different ways you can continue to better yourself as a person and business owner altogether. 

Bring your team together

With all of this unexpected downtime and isolation, teams are more spread out than ever. But thanks to modern technology, that doesn’t mean we have to be “disconnected.” 

Use the downtime to bring your team together, whether it be over the phone or a virtual Zoom video chat, and talk to your team about ideas they may have or ways they would improve your business. Harnessing the power of collaboration can help you better understand how to improve your business for not only your customers, but for your employees as well.

Another benefit of using this time to brainstorm with your employees and managers, listening to their ideas and empowering them to voice their opinions, is that it can not only lead to an improved workplace morale — it may also lead to innovative new ways to expand your business.

Learn something new

We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, fortunately for business owners, that tends to be untrue — especially among entrepreneurs, who are learning new things each and every day.

Maybe you want to learn more about coding, to help you build or improve your website. Or maybe you want to improve your writing skills because you want to craft better marketing materials. Perhaps, even, you want to learn more about digital design work, so you can start creating custom designs (or just apply them to your company’s marketing efforts). 

Enter Coursera, an online “university” of sorts offering thousands of courses on a variety of topics, in collaboration with universities and companies like the University of Illinois, Duke University, Google, IBM and more.

While pricing varies, you can earn certificates (and even degrees) from some of the most prestigious institutions in the world, all from the comfort of your own home. There are thousands of topics you can choose from, ranging from digital design to social media marketing, business leadership and management, information technology and more. To learn more about Coursera’s catalog of learning opportunities, visit Coursera.org.

Improve your customer service and sales skills

As a business, there’s never a bad time to improve your customer service skills and sales techniques.

One free option comes from Bob Phibbs, also known as the Retail Doctor. Phibbs’ “Retailing in the Time of COVID-19” course contains eight video lessons that cover operations, marketing, sales and customer service, all free-of-charge. In addition to the COVID-19 course, the “Retail Doctor” also offers the SalesRX program — a comprehensive sales training program to “get more out of your existing in-store traffic and transform your sales staff with customizable online sales training” for all levels. To learn more about these programs, visit RetailDoc.com.

Get better at social media and email marketing

One of the areas business owners can seemingly always improve in is their social media and email marketing strategies and execution. While social and email marketing can seem daunting, even the slightest of improvements can make a large difference in the online sales your business sees.

Over 99% of consumers open their emails at least once a day, while more than 70% of consumers who have interacted with a business on social media have elected to make purchases from that very same business (HubSpot, 2019).

Popular marketing platform HubSpot offers what they call the “HubSpot Academy,” a resource of courses dedicated to not only helping businesses understand the digital marketing landscape, but help them get better at execution in the process. Courses range from understanding search engine optimization (SEO) to introductions to e-commerce marketing, content marketing, social media strategy and more.

HubSpot’s comprehensive catalog of courses are mostly free, and can generally be completed in under three hours — with some courses even being less than 45 minutes. For more information, you can visit Academy.HubSpot.com.


In short, there are plenty of opportunities to better yourself, your team, your community and your business with all of the extra downtime. By connecting, inspiring and helping one another to improve, businesses can not only survive the current challenges— they can thrive, and will be stronger on the other side.

At SmartSolutions, our team can help assess your company’s marketing strategies and efforts and help you create a plan for your digital marketing channels.

Contact our team today to get your free consultation!

 

Every company has a story — and at SmartSolutions, we’re passionate about helping you tell that story. 

Client Spotlight: Great Lakes EXPO

Every company has a story — and at SmartSolutions, we’re passionate about helping them tell that story. Our latest client spotlight feature is the Great Lakes EXPO, the premier trade show for fruit and vegetable growers, greenhouse growers, farm marketers and more.

 

In their own words

“Over three days, the program includes sessions on fruit crops, vegetable crops, other specialty crops, greenhouse crop production and marketing, farm marketing ideas and operations, farmers’ markets and organic production and marketing. There will also be sessions covering a diversity of general interest topics, including food safety and labor.

Presentations will be made by researchers and Extension educators from Michigan State University, other Land Grant universities and industry. Many of the education sessions will offer credits for Michigan and Ohio Private and Commercial Pesticide Applicators and Certified Crop Advisors.”

The 2019 Great Lakes EXPO and Michigan Greenhouse Growers EXPO, held at DeVos Please Conference Center and the Amway Grand Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, features more educational opportunities and trade show exhibitors than ever. With over 4,000 visitors from over 40 states and seven Canadian provinces, the Great Lakes EXPO features 70+ educational sessions and workshops and over 450 exhibitors in an expanded trade show over a three-day period.

 

Learning more

From beginning organic production to farm marketing, to utilizing social media marketing and more, any of the EXPO’s over 70 educational sessions and workshops will help growers from all walks and industries learn more about improving their businesses practices. To see the upcoming 2019 lineup of educational sessions, click here.

Early bird registration is now open. Register by Friday, November 15th to receive early bird pricing discounts. To learn more about the discounts, pricing and registration, click here.

To learn more about the 2019 Great Lakes EXPO and Michigan Greenhouse Growers EXPO, such as educational session information, pricing, registration, event details and more, you can visit them at glexpo.com.

 

Every company has a story — and at SmartSolutions, we’re passionate about helping you tell that story. 

Looking to give your company’s social media marketing presence the boost it needs to start seeing a more positive return on your investment? Click below or call us today to get your free consultation!

SmartSolutions Social Media Marketing Quiz

Now more than ever, a strategic digital marketing plan is vital to the successes of any business, no matter the size. Think you know what makes social media marketing a successful element to this digital marketing plan? Take the SmartSolutions Social Media Marketing Quiz below to get your score!

 

Need help with your digital marketing strategy? At SmartSolutions, we are passionate about utilizing the power of communication to bring people and businesses together — and we are equally as passionate about your story. Our team of expert marketers bring their unique perspectives and diverse experiences together to provide a one-stop, full-service marketing solution to help your business thrive. Click below or call us today to get your free consultation!

 

Top 5: Instagram Business Accounts

In the world of social media, there are as many bad examples as there are good examples. But in today’s day and age of focusing on the negative, we’ve decided to do the opposite. Here’s a look at five of our favorite business Instagram accounts, from inspirational images to innovative marketing ideas.

SmartSolutons — @smartsolutionsmktg

Alright, so maybe we’re a little biased. But look — we believe that in the world of social media, there can’t be enough motivational quotes and business conversations. And on our SmartSolutions Instagram page, that’s what we strive to create. Head on over and give us a follow!

The Checkdown (NFL) — @thecheckdown

While normally a sports league’s official Instagram account might not be considered incredibly information or riveting, the National Football League’s approach is intriguing because they have multiple accounts. While their official @NFL account is dedicated to team news, highlights and more, a few years back they created an in-league brand, “The Checkdown.” This account mimics popular meme- and highlight-styled accounts that feed off “virality,” yet is completely controlled by the league itself.

Business Insider — @businessinsider

Looking for the best business news, updates and behind-the-scenes looks into some of the biggest companies in the world? Business Insider’s Instagram account offers just that. From looks at some of the country’s biggest college football powerhouses and their multi-million dollar locker rooms, to the latest Amazon news and trends on the rise of cannabis, BI’s Instagram page has a little something for every business person.

Taco Bell — @tacobell

While many fast food brands get nationally recognized because of infamous Twitter interactions, some of the chains are beginning to become more active in Instagram. One of the great examples of how to have an effective, yet aesthetically-pleasing Instagram page is Taco Bell — who not only plays on their products, but also some of the more viral items, such as a Taco Bell cruise, merchandise and more.

Costco — @costco

Sometimes, the best example of a good social strategy is just keeping it simple — which is exactly what Costco’s Instagram, very much like their business concept, does. Costco’s profile is all about highlighting some of the exclusive products and deals that only their members can get, helping tease the “exclusivity” of a Costco membership.

 

Every company has a story — and at SmartSolutions, we’re passionate about helping you tell that story. 

Looking to give your company’s social media marketing presence the boost it needs to start seeing a more positive return on your investment? Click below or call us today to get your free consultation!

How To: Setup Facebook Business Page

Congratulations, you’re finally ready to get your company’s presence on Facebook up and running. But now, you’re curious how to actually set the business page up — and for that matter, set it up correctly. 

One of the first steps in getting your profile optimized is making sure that you setup as a business profile, which not only helps users differentiate people from brands, but also gives your followers more ways to contact you and discover offerings.

After entering your page’s information and selecting a category, it’s time to get the page setup aesthetically. Whether you have pre-made designs, or need to use a tool like Canva, you need to get a proper profile image and cover photo. If you need help on how to properly size your social media images, we’ve got you covered.

Then it’s time to complete your company’s profile. Head on over to your page and select the “about” tab to enter all pertinent information that helps consumers and fans understand what your company is all about. This includes writing a “story” to tell more about your company, complete hours and business information, add contact information such as a domain and website, and set up your “Learn More” button.

Once your page is setup, it’s time to start planning out your posts and a creating a marketing strategy.

Need help connecting your Facebook page to your Instagram profile? Click here.

 

Every company has a story — and at SmartSolutions, we’re passionate about helping you tell that story. 

Looking to give your company’s social media marketing presence the boost it needs to start seeing a more positive return on your investment? Click below or call us today to get your free consultation!

Best Small Business Marketing Tools

As social media becomes an increasingly prominent piece of a company’s marketing strategy, there are more marketing platforms, organization tools and tips and tricks than one can keep track of. Allow SmartSolutions to break down some of the best small business marketing tools to help take your company’s marketing to the next level.

Social Media Management Platforms

Hootsuite

Best described as a “simple” social media management platform, Hootsuite offers businesses a cheap and wide-ranging alternative to some of the more expensive marketing platforms available. Starting at just $99/month, Hootsuite maintains its holding at the cheaper end of social management platforms, with customizable analytics and easy bulk-scheduling features.

Buffer

Similar to Hootsuite, Buffer also holds as one of the cheaper social media management platforms available to small business owners. With it’s “social queue” scheduling and in-depth analytics, Buffer offers small business owners and marketing pro’s alike a uniform platform to expand your company’s reach.

Organizational Tools

Asana

An organizational tool, Asana provides businesses with a way to manage projects, deliverables and custom branding plans across all teams members. This solution provides teams with means of communications, project tracking and more to help your company stay on track.

Content Creation Tools

Canva

Looking for a way to create custom images for your company’s marketing or print advertising, but not sure where to start? Canva offers simple photo editing and custom creation tools that can be best described as an “Adobe Photoshop” for beginners.

 

Every company has a story — and at SmartSolutions, we’re passionate about helping you tell that story. 

Looking to give your company’s social media marketing presence the boost it needs to start seeing a more positive return on your investment? Click below or call us today to get your free consultation!

Best Social Media Platforms for Your Business

In 2019, every company needs to have some sort of social media presence, that’s not debatable. And as a business owner, you probably understand your company needs social media, but are having trouble navigating some of the finer details such as what platforms to use and how to create and size images, among others.

First, as a business owner, it’s vital you understand why a social media presence is an integral piece to your company’s marketing strategy. Nearly 42% of the world’s population, or more than 3.2 billion people (and growing), are active on social media each and every day. Thus creating a seemingly limitless landscape of possibilities when it comes to marketing your company to a specific audience.

1. Set your goals and determine your audience

If you’re just deciding to get your company’s social presence going, odds are you’ve asked yourself this question at least once before.

Before selecting your company’s first social channel(s), it’s important to identify your target audience and overall goals. Is your goal to sell more product? Or drive awareness to specific events? When it comes to your audience selection — are you looking to reach as many people as possible? Or maybe you’re looking to target a specific demographic? Or, more specifically, even a subset of that demographic?

These questions above are what you really need to focus on before deciding to take the plunge and selecting a social media channel for your business. Without identifying your goals and audience, social media can become a very time-consuming task of scheduling hundreds of posts. But by narrowing down your goals, it becomes easy to identify the perfect two or three social platforms for your business.

2. Select the appropriate social channel

If you have identified your company’s need for social media, and you’ve already identified your target audience and overall objectives, congratulations — you are already miles ahead of many business owners around the world. Now, it’s time to compare those goals with each social channel’s primary strengths. The social channels listed below are ranked in their popularity with businesses when it comes to marketing.

Facebook — If you’re looking to maximize your advertising money, as well as reach a much broader audience, Facebook is the perfect social channel for your company. Most companies would (and should) make Facebook one of their first selections, simply for the size of the audience, amount of integrations (such as Shopify, WooCommerce, event-based scheduling and more) and their superior advertising structure.

Instagram — If your company has a lot of visual properties, such as a restaurant showcasing menu items or a store featuring new arrivals, Instagram is the ideal social platform. Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, they share a lot of the same advertising properties, and you can even tie the two platforms together to maximize your advertising dollars.

Twitter — Twitter, known by many as the “interaction network,” relies heavily on engaging directly with customers and followers. Most companies choose to use Twitter as more of an outlet for support vs. custom content and advertising. Unless your company is planning to heavily interact directly with customers or respond to support issues, most businesses don’t elect to have a Twitter account.

LinkedIn — If your company leans more business-to-business (B2B) instead of business-to-consumer (B2C), then LinkedIn is the perfect platform to boost your company’s social presence while connecting with potential leads. However, most B2C companies don’t have a need to be well established on LinkedIn.

Pinterest — Similar to Instagram in visual nature, Pinterest is best for niche industries such as shops, restaurants and boutiques looking to showcase products and recipes. Unless your business falls under one of these more visual categories, your company is most likely to choose one of the other platforms.

YouTube — For companies where videos are prominent in marketing strategies, a YouTube channel is a must-have. However, most companies don’t opt to have YouTube channels. If your business showcases recipes, how-to videos, product demos or more as part of a marketing campaign, it might be beneficial to have a channel you can link to, but otherwise, YouTube remains as more of a personal content-based platform vs. a business marketing tool.

Understanding which social platform is best for your business will not only save you time, it will help you work towards your goals more quickly. That doesn’t mean, however, that there will be less time involved. When it comes to social media, the amount of work you put into the channels is directly tied to the return you will see. Working diligently on your social media profiles and maintaining proper response time to engagements from customers is critical to succeeding in social marketing.

 

Every company has a story — and at SmartSolutions, we’re passionate about helping you tell that story. 

Looking to give your company’s social media marketing presence the boost it needs to start seeing a more positive return on your investment? Click below or call us today to get your free consultation!

Top 5: Business & Marketing Podcasts

Podcasts can simply be described as the new generation of “talk radio,” but can be played anywhere, at any time, from nearly any device. The difference between talk radio and podcasts, however, is the vast variety of topics and personalities — virtually anybody can host a podcast.

But how does this apply to the world of marketing and your business? 

One of the most popular podcast niches is the business, advertising and marketing worlds — specifically social media. As a business owner, we understand you’re always looking for ways to better your business. Here are the top five business and marketing podcasts currently available for download.

 

Seeking Wisdom — David Cancel & Dave Gerhardt

A podcast for people who want to get better every single day.

Hosted by David Cancel and Dave Gerhardt, Drift’s podcast Seeking Wisdom is considered a must-listen by all entrepreneurs and business owners. The podcast, primarily focused on business management and marketing practices, also delves into topics such as wealth, learning and health for business owners. 

Click to listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts

 

Marketing over Coffee — John J. Wall & Christopher S. Penn

One of the best “short listen” podcasts available, Marketing over Coffee features hosts Wall and Penn recording from a local coffee shop, designed to be a casual conversation (over the traditional news-styled podcast).

Each podcast, roughly 20 minutes in length, sees the two sharing tips on marketing, social media, search engine optimization, copywriting and taking listener questions.

Click here to listen to Marketing over Coffee’s most recent episodes

 

The Science of Social Media — Buffer

Social media management platform company Buffer prides themselves on their organic content creation — so it shouldn’t be any surprise that their podcast, The Science of Social Media, is any different.

Whether you’re brand new to the idea of social media marketing or a seasoned veteran, Buffer’s podcasts offers insights into best practices, mind-blowing digital marketing statistics and a great flow that makes for an easy and informative listen.

Click here to listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts

 

StartUp — Gimlet Media

An award-winning media company, Gimley’s podcast, StartUp, gives listeners a real and unbiased glimpse into what the process of getting a business off the ground is truly like. Hosted by Gimlet CEO Alex Blumberg, a wealth of experience and knowledge provides business owners with a great resource for learning.

 

Click here to listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts

 

Social Media Marketing Podcast — Social Media Examiner

A weekly podcast dedicated to the latest and greatest in the world of social media, Social Media Examiner’s podcast, Social Media Marketing, is hosted by Michael Stelzner and various other members of the SME team. 

In this podcast, which is a longer-form podcast of roughly 45 minutes per episode, SME’s team breaks down the latest in social media news, talks about best practices and new strategies, and features some of their favorite examples of proper social marketing tactics, and is a must listen for any marketer or business owner looking to level up their marketing strategies.

Click here to listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts

 


 

Every company has a story — and at SmartSolutions, we’re passionate about helping you tell that story. 

Looking to give your company’s social media marketing presence the boost it needs to start seeing a more positive return on your investment? Click below or call us today to get your free consultation!