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If your website is outdated, with poor design and inaccurate information, you could not only be missing out on sales now, but hurting your chances to acquire future customers as well.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

Best Practices: Advertising on social media in 2020

As the economy slowly begins to reopen and the country continues to reel from the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s become apparent that the way we do business has been greatly altered. For some, the outbreak and subsequent closure left business owners re-evaluating their marketing strategies, trying to pivot more to online sales and marketing than before.

Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter provide small business owners with excellent ways to execute paid advertising campaigns. Here’s a quick list of digital advertising “best practices” your business should be sure to follow if you’re just starting to wade into the waters of social media advertising campaigns.

Know your Objective

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when getting started in social advertising is throwing a lot of money at a lot of ads on a lot of platforms, without really taking the time to first identify their objective. Are you trying to drive traffic to your website? Or are you trying to gain more signups for your email list? Are you selling products? Or does your business provide a service? All of these questions will change the type of campaign you setup within your chosen social media platforms.

Another area to identify when narrowing in on your objectives is to select the proper social media channels — not everything that will resonate with an audience on Facebook is going to be best suited for Twitter. Without taking the time to analyze the pro’s and con’s of each platform’s advertising capabilities, you could be throwing money away.

Identify your Audience

You don’t necessarily need to spend “big money” in social media advertising to get your desired results. Utilizing customer data and current social audience data, identify your key demographic and their interests, purchase behaviors and more using your chosen social media platform’s advertising dashboards. Facebook, for example, will let you narrow your audience down to not only geographical locations, but specific interests — like other pages, publications or products on the platform.

By identifying your audience early, you can help reduce the amount of “wasted” money spent on those that may not convert, instead targeting an audience that is highly likely to follow through on your desired objective.

Keep it Short, Focus on Visual

No matter the social platform, the emphasis has shifted from text to organic, engaging content. For Facebook and Instagram specifically, it is important that your organic posts keep the text to a minimum. When posting to these platforms, make sure you’re keeping your text to a minimum of 1-3 sentences, at most. Also, avoid using links in the text, when possible on Facebook (you should NEVER use links in text on Instagram), instead using the link preview that Facebook provides.

You should also, if possible, try to utilize high-quality video (over images) when creating your ads. Social posts containing video see over 48% more engagement and interaction, with a share rate of 12x that of generic text and/or static image posts. However, if video isn’t readily available, be sure the imagery you are using is high-quality, and relevant to the ads themselves.


At times like this, SmartSolutions understands that managing the current state of your company in the midst of a global pandemic can be a massive undertaking. Our team can help assess your company’s marketing strategies and efforts and help you create a plan that will not only help you get through the COVID-19 outbreak, but thrive in the online space well after. 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: Marshall Grain Co.

Every company has a story — and at SmartSolutions, we’re passionate about helping them tell that story. Our latest client spotlight feature is Marshall Grain Company in Grapevine, Texas — known as “nature’s merchant” since 1946.

In their own words

Marshall Grain Company is dedicated to making the organic gardener a successful gardener.

“Marshall Grain Company is dedicated to making the organic gardener a successful gardener. We believe that means delivering personalized service across the full spectrum of lawn-and-garden services.

Whether you are a “Do-It-Yourselfer” who’s seeking a quick organic product solution, a homeowner looking for full-scale landscape design and installation, or someone with long-term organic maintenance needs — we’re here to help. In addition, our huge plant nursery is stocked with Texas Natives and adapted plants that will thrive in our harsh North Texas climate, as well as in-season herbs and vegetables, tropicals and houseplants.

Dogs on-leash are always welcome inside our store. We hope you’ll come to see us soon!”

More about their products

From landscaping services to organic gardening seminars, pet products and their new online shop, Marshall Grain Co. has anything an organic gardener or pet lover (of any skill level) might need.

To learn more about Marshall Grain Co., you can visit them at marshallgrain.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!

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!

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!

Social Media Image Sizing Cheat Sheet

Keeping up with the latest social media image sizing trends can be confusing, we understand. 

What looks good on Instagram won’t show properly on Twitter, and what populates in an Instagram link won’t look the same as LinkedIn. Allow our (free to use) social media image sizing cheat sheet to help!

Note: all image sizes are listed in pixels.

Facebook

One thing to remember when sizing images for Facebook is that different images will display differently on mobile vs. desktop. With most of the traffic nowadays being mobile traffic, be sure that when you’re creating your social images, you’re using mobile-friendly images and templates. 

Your profile photo will be the photo that universally represents your brand across searches and posts on Facebook, so be sure you’re selecting the proper logo and displaying it properly.

A cover photo is particularly tricky, as the image will display differently on both mobile and desktop — so be sure to create an 820 x 312 cover photo, while containing the messaging or particular imagery to 640 x 360.

One of the most common ways of sharing on Facebook is to share links — and with verified domains, you can customize the image with the accompanying link. This is one of the most popular ways to share custom content on Facebook.

 


 

Instagram

One of the most popular photo-sharing social networks (and really, social networks overall), Instagram is the best place to showcase your company’s visual experiences and creativity.

With Instagram being based on visuals and pictures/videos, it’s important to be sure you’re using the correct dimensions. 

You can choose one of several photo sizes on Instagram, but the best is to either post a 1:1 (1080 x 1080) or a 4:5 (800 x 1000) ratio image. While 1:1 fits within the grid more uniformly, the 4:5 ratio choice takes up more of the news feed, giving your brand optimal exposure.

One of Instagram’s hottest features at the moment is stories, a format that allows users to view uploaded videos and photos that are only available for a 24-hour period. The best format when posting created content (that’s non-organic) is 1080 x 1920.

 


 

Twitter

With over 313 million active monthly registered users, Twitter is known worldwide as the “engagement” platform. If there’s a discussion happening around your brand, or support needed, chances are it’s coming from a Twitter account.

Similarly to Facebook (and every other social channel, really), your profile picture will be the main image that represents your brand or company across the platform. Next in importance when setting up your profile will be your cover photo, which will maintain the same aspect ratio on both mobile and desktop.

And finally, the in-stream images, one of the staples of the Twitter timeline. Make sure to keep the image to 440×220 (or 2:1) as any other aspect ratio will display improperly.

 


 

LinkedIn

With over 460 million registered users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest social media network dedicated specifically to the professional realm — so it is imperative that your company’s LinkedIn profile look professional as well.

When it comes to LinkedIn’s imagery style, the most apt comparison is Facebook. The cover photo, profile photo, and shared images are the most common images needed to get your profile on the right track.

 


 

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!

Why Marketing Matters in a Fan, Like & Follow World

When it comes to putting together a business plan for your company, the tasks can seem a bit intimidating. From planning out long-term campaigns to summarizing short-term objectives, to social media marketing, advertising and more, there are many more details that one would originally think.

One of the most integral pieces of a marketing strategy, yet often the most overlooked, is a company’s social media strategy. 

Social media marketing has skyrocketed in importance, and is increasingly separating the good from the bad when it comes to interacting with companies online. Considered your “digital footprint,” it can also be viewed as a “welcome mat” to potential (and existing) customers — meaning when they Google your company, it’s one of the first things they see.

So why does the social piece of a fully-integrated marketing plan matter so much?
 

Creating Brand Experience

In a recent survey done by GlobalWebIndex, 54% of those polled stated they used social media accounts of companies and brands to research products or services before purchasing.

By properly utilizing social media, your company is able to not only dictate and create an experience around your brand, informing your customers and potential customers, but also allows your company to quickly respond to and resolve support issues or complaints from the customers themselves.
 
 
 

Building Trust

Once your company has made a sale or provided a service, the focus shifts from creating a customer to maintaining that customer — in other words, creating “brand loyalty.

Social media not only helps create a trust and loyalty with your current customers, but helps provide some of the most powerful word-of-mouth marketing possible. Over 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that brand to their friends and family (via HubSpot, 2018).
 
 
 

Continuously Growing

Every minute, there are 400 new users on Facebook, 54,000 links that are shared, 147,000 new uploaded photos and 317,000 status updates. And with nearly 42% of the world’s population, or 3.2 billion people and growing, already active on social media every day—the potential reach of your company or brand is seemingly limitless.

 


 

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!