November 25, 2009

Cooperative marketing will increase sales, instantly!

Cooperative marketing is a surefire way to drum up additional business. Simply put, cooperative marketing is when businesses with a common theme cooperate to market each other’s goods and services.

For example, an electrical contractor may join forces with a plumbing contractor and produce fridge magnets bearing both business names and contact details, and leave one of these co-branded magnets at each job either business goes to.

Another example is when you visit a hotel to find menus and advertisements of local restaurants in the compendium.

The Trust Factor

One of the key reasons that cooperative marketing works is due to the “trust factor.” Each business is putting its reputation in the hands of the other businesses within the marketing cooperative, at least to some extent.

If you had the electricians from the above example come and fix a fault, and they were on time, courteous, and cleaned up, you would naturally assume the plumbers on the shared magnet would demonstrate the same behaviors.

Another example of the trust factor playing a role is in direct mail campaigns. A cold postal mail out, perhaps without even the recipient’s name, will have a much lower success rate then a mail out to a cooperator’s database bearing their logo and a personal introduction.

Everybody Play Nice

Naturally, the flip side of the trust equation is that if a cooperator does the wrong thing, it can reflect poorly on all the members of the marketing cooperative. Be sure to pick your friends wisely, and more importantly, clearly define the relationship and agree on ground rules.

These ground rules may include determinations on:

  1. Cases where members offer a common product or service
  2. What to do when a dispute or complaint arises
  3. How hard a sell should be
  4. How costs associated with any printing, postage, promotional items, etc. will be split
  5. Who is responsible for content, artwork, etc. and what the approval process is before distributing

A Match Made in Heaven

For obvious reasons, businesses whose products and services overlap may not make the best bedfellows. Where products and services do overlap, ideally the businesses should be targeting different markets, for example geographically, price-wise, or business sized in a B2B situation.

The best outcomes however, occur when business owners start to think laterally about whom they could partner up with.

Here are a number of potential common denominators that could yield a good marketing cooperative, with examples:

  1. Physical location – the La Porcetta in Cairns is next door to the cinema, so they offer a “Dinner and a Movie” package deal.
  2. Income bracket – a luxury car dealership could partner with a high-end jeweller.
  3. Point of difference – an after hours medical centre and late night pharmacy can direct patients to one another.
  4. Complimentary services – at 1300 Web Pro, we work with Shayne and the guys from Evolution Studios to get high quality video on customers’ websites.
  5. Age bracket – a day care might share their database with a children’s clothing store.
  6. Unique type of customer – a vet surgery might partner with a pet food store, or a gym might partner with a health food store.

Another way to think laterally about potential matching cooperators is to think about your typical customer and their buying habits.

In the end, you need to find a business that doesn’t necessarily sell the same thing as you, but does sell to the same group of people!

Ok, Now What?

After finding a good partner, or group of partners, to launch a cooperative marketing campaign, you simply need to come up with the campaign itself. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking in the right direction:

  1. Shared mail piece to the collective database (flyer, magnet, whatever)
  2. Common loyalty program (how many ways can you collect Qantas points or Woolworth’s discount vouchers these days?)
  3. Invoice footers or bag stuffers (include a plug for your partner business on the bottom of your invoice, or as a flyer in the customer’s shopping bag, and vice versa)
  4. Running a joint fundraiser for a community group
  5. Offering discounts to one another’s customers
  6. Offering first dibs on hard to get items (luxury brands frequently arrange early access to theatre tickets and sporting events)

Wrap Up

Only a few weeks left before Christmas, which happen to be some of the highest grossing weeks for retail businesses annually. Have a quick brainstorming session in the office and think of two or three businesses that could participate in a cooperative marketing campaign to ensure you are maximising those holiday sales.


Has cooperative marketing worked for your business in the past? Please comment and share your experiences.

We had great feedback last week; thanks to John Gray from John Gray Marketing, Chris Thomas from Dream Machine, and Dave Granfield from Star Gardentown Café for your input. Click here to see what they had to say.


James Deck
1300 Web Pro
Web: www.1300webpro.com.au
Twitter: @1300WebPro

Image credit: lumaxart at flickr

November 16, 2009

What's your opinion on Virgin Blue's mass e-mail stuff up?

As more and more businesses use mass e-mail as a marketing tool, we are seeing more and more stuff ups which put a serious dent in the sender’s credibility.

For example, about one year ago, a local law firm sent me a bulk e-mail with every one of their contacts visible in the “cc” field. To make matters worse, the recipients were identified by their relationship to the law firm, as in “Client – James Deck.”

Virgin Blue committed a major snafu last Friday. They sent an e-mail to a large number of their customers saying that because they were so close to reaching the airlines “Gold” status, they have been given a complimentary upgrade to “Gold.”

Hours later, Virgin Blue sent a second e-mail retracting the original e-mail, blaming Friday the 13th. While the e-mail offered the apologies of Virgin Blue, there was no further compensation.

All weekend, writers for new sites, blog sites, and Twitter have been afire with posts ranging from humorous to downright angry.

Yesterday at technology news site Gizmodo, Nick Broughall admits he is “unsure whether or not [to] be bemused or outraged at the mixup,” and asks readers “to suggest an emotion” for him to take towards the incident.


This week I would like to know:

What's your opinion on how Virgin Blue should have handled their huge mass e-mail stuff up?

Do you think they should have honored the offer? Do you think that customers should forgive them, because “everyone makes mistakes?”

Please visit the comments section on this blog post to share your opinion, and read what others have to say.


How do we prevent embarrassing mass email sins in our business?

Every week I receive e-mail newsletters that clearly originated in Microsoft Outlook. Indeed, the law firm mentioned at the beginning of this article used Outlook.

Using Outlook has several major drawbacks. The two biggest are:

1) The likelihood that you or your staff will eventually inadvertently cc: your mailing list instead of bcc:
2) In Australia there is anti-spam law that legally requires things like “double opt-in” and easy methods of unsubscribing. Outlook may not satisfy the anti-spam regulations.


The solution is very simple, and in many cases, free for small businesses!

There are a number of mass email providers that allow you to lodge your emails via a website, providing features like list management (covering all the anti-spam requirements), detailed statistics, sign up forms for your website, and send scheduling.

At 1300 Web Pro, we use Mailchimp. Mailchimp is free for databases of up to 500 subscribers. It is a very powerful platform and very easy to use. We have recommended it to other businesses, such as Star Gardentown Café, who also have great things to say about it now.


Wrap Up

I look forward to reading the responses to my question – what would you do if you were the Virgin Blue CEO? Remember to visit the comment section and share your opinion.

If you send mass e-mail to your customers, please consider using a tool like Mailchimp.

If you don’t send mass e-mail to your customers, it might be a good thing to start thinking about…

James Deck
1300 Web Pro
Web: http://www.1300webpro.com.au/
Twitter: @1300WebPro

Image credit: Nick Broughall's article at Gizmodo

November 10, 2009

Here’s a quick way to protect your organisation’s name online


Cybersquatting” is a term that is used in the Internet world to describe one party registering another party’s name without permission, specifically to prevent the rightful owner from registering it.

There are several different types of cybersquatting. One of the most popular is domain squatting. This deals specifically with domain names (web addresses) ending in .com, .com.au, etc.

In the last few years, as sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, (collectively referred to as “Social Networking” sites) have gained notoriety, cybersquatting has spread to these mediums.

Companies such as Telstra, Jetstar, Dominos, and iiNet are actively engaging with their customers through Twitter. While we won’t be able to determine the true long term traction or adoption for at least another 12 months, it is very important to register a business or organisation’s name now to avoid being cybersquatted.

Below are the places every business owner, school principal, and non-profit coordinator needs to visit to register their names, along with the cost of doing so. Note, it is not necessarily to start using the names immediately, so don’t let the technology scare you. For those who are interested in actually using these tools, stay tuned to future posts on the issue.



.com Domain Names
Cost: $20 per year
To check availability: Visit our parent company, NGE
To register: Ring us on 1300 932 776 or e-mail me



.com.au Domain Names
Cost: $60 per 2 years
To check availability: Visit our parent company, NGE
To register: Ring us on 1300 932 776 or e-mail me



Twitter
Cost: FREE
To check availability and register: http://twitter.com/signup



Facebook “Fan” Page
Cost: FREE
To check availability and register: http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php



Google Local Business Centre
Cost: FREE
To claim your listing: http://www.google.com/local/add


YouTube
Cost: FREE
To check availability and register: http://www.youtube.com/create_account


With .com and .com.au domain names, at 1300 Web Pro we always recommend purchasing both where possible. If you only own one or the other, please be sure to check and see if the other is available and register it before your competition does.

If any of my Internet savvy readers have other registrations they see critical to protect oneself from cybersquatting, please post a comment with your suggestion.


But it all sounds so hard!
The above links are mostly free, and the signup processes are very straight forward, but if you still don’t have the time, inclination, or are a wee bit scared of the Internet, give us a ring at 1300 Web Pro on 1300 932 776 and ask us about giving you a hand.


James Deck
1300 Web Pro
Web: www.1300webpro.com.au
Twitter: @1300WebPro

November 03, 2009

The Secret to Successful Brochures

During the last two weeks, we have been helping a new business get off the ground. Being entrepreneurs at heart, at 1300 Web Pro we love working with startups!

In addition to a website, 1300 Web Pro has created a logo, business card design, and brochures for this particular client. When it came to brochure design, I provided a few basic tips. None of these things are rocket science. It’s one of those situations where we all know what to do, but when it comes time to execute we ignore all the rules!

Use the following seven points as a checklist when creating your next brochure.

Be Brief

Particularly for initial sales material, where the customer is still a “cold” lead, keep the word count to an absolute minimum.

Dot Points

Putting items in a bullet list allows the reader to quickly scan through the concepts. It also forces the author to “get to the point” (no pun intended).

Headline Is Key

The headline should be big, bold, in a catchy color, and should be more prominent then the advertiser’s logo.

Making the logo the sidebar is sometimes a difficult pill for a business owner who is proud of his or her brand to swallow, but consider which is more powerful:

Option 1)

Some Crazy Bank

Make 30% Interest

Option 2)

Make 30% Interest

Some Crazy Bank

Focus on the Difference

Open up the Yellow Pages to your organisation’s category. How many dot points are repeated through several of your competition? Make sure that every point made is genuinely unique to the business, and something the readers care about.

Don’t be Afraid to Format

Liberal use of color, font size, bold and italics, and lots of white space are perfect for drawing attention to key points.

In the brochure for our startup customer, we changed the color of three words to improve the point’s impact:

“We turn bad debt into cash.”

Use a Designer

Using a professional graphic designer will always provide a more professional appearance that will translate into better campaign results.

If you work out what you want to say, and how you want to lay it out, in advance, then using a professional designer is generally not very expensive. Designers charge by the hour, so if you don’t waste their time, you save yourself money.

Don’t Depend on a Designer for Marketing Advice

Remember that designers are trained in making things look “nice.” Whilst some designers may have marketing experience as well, don’t assume that all professional designers are capable of advising on how to lay out an advertisment.


Wrap Up

At 1300 Web Pro, we regularly use our design and marketing skills to assist customers in producing a raft of promotional material. Next time you design a brochure, utilise these seven points to create a great layout, then give us a ring on 1300 932 776 or e-mail us for help with getting it ready to print.


Do you have any “golden rules” for creating effective brochures? Please post your suggestions for other readers to enjoy.


James Deck
1300 Web Pro
Web: www.1300webpro.com.au
Twitter: @1300WebPro