The Bizz by AnyPromo.com

Business & marketing advice, news and features, design inspiration, and the art of gifting.

How Social-Media Marketing Boosts Sales by 30% in the Video Game Industry

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By Fausto Mendez

    The effectiveness of SMM (social-media marketing) is a widely debated topic, but the video game industry is done with that debate. And its verdict is in. It turns out SMM may be its most powerful marketing channel yet. 

     Twitter broadcasts over 400 million tweets everyday. That’s a lot of talk - most of it gibberish, but the video game industry is learning that guiding those conversations towards upcoming video-game releases has a very significant impact on sales, according Twitter and Deloitte LLP. Twitter UK commissioned Deloitte LLP to measure the impact of those 400 million daily Tweets on the sales of 100 best-selling PS3 and Xbox 360 games, and you can see the results for yourself in the full infographic below (click to enlarge it). 

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The Lesson: Creatively Integrate Multiple Channels in Your Marketing Campaigns

    The point is not to rely solely on Twitter - or even social-media marketing - but to shape your campaign using a variety of tools that guide your audience towards positive online conversations about your products or brand. 

    Now, let’s use this lesson to design an effective marketing campaign for a company like Rockstar, maker of the famed Grand Theft Auto series. As a marketer for a major gaming company, you have to think bigger than an unforgettable TV ad, a beautiful billboard, a hilarious Twitter author, or a well-designed Facebook page. You want to design marketing tactics that start conversations that move to and from various marketing channels. 

The Example: How to Move Customers From Channel to Channel

    For example, you might design a set of TV commercials that confuses and surprises viewers. Throughout the commercial, you’d display a unique hash tag at one of the corners of the screen. The confusing ad would encourage users to search for the video or the hash tag online. The confusing ad also airs between 4PM and 8PM because that’s when the target audience watches TV. By 9PM, the audience is most likely playing video games and/or browsing the Web.

    At this point, those gamers that aren’t gaming are probably searching for the video or hash tag in order to discuss it and share it with their friends. After discussing with their friends, they probably want more information, so they would search for related websites later that night. This campaign would have three important effects.

+ By adding social and online components (that are easily searchable and sharable) to the TV ads, the ads are viewed by many, many more people than if they were developed without those social and online components. 

+ Conversations with friends about upcoming games has a more powerful effect than ads that intrude on the audience’s time and attention. Friends are often entertaining, welcomed participants in such conversations. Ads that try to dictate how you think, on the other hand, run the risk of being an annoyance if they appear in the wrong situations. In other words, your friends’ excitement for the next Madden NFL game is more effective than a tv ad for the same game, but the conversation that exposed you to that excitement may have never occurred if it wasn’t for the TV ad in the first place.

+ The search-engine performance of your website is increasingly becoming dependent on the performance of your social-media profiles and content. As your profiles and content are shared across social-media sites, your website’s SEO grows too, so by catalyzing conversations that involve your social-media profiles, critical keywords and links to your website, you should increase the traffic that your website receives from search engines beyond the traffic that arises from curiosity just after a new ad airs. 

Why does it work?

    In the previous example, the process starts in the living room. That means you have to know when your audience will be there. If you do your homework, your customer will see your ad on TV at the perfect moment. They would then search for your hash tag or video online (which would cause the initial search-engine traffic boost). As the audience start conversations about the video and any related content, they would share this content on social networks, and then you get a second search-engine traffic boost as Google notices that your brand name and content are being shared on social-media sites. As excitement, rumors and information spreads, sales grow. Just rinse, and repeat.

    Whether you’re ordering promotional products for a trade show or finalizing the details for your next TV commercial, a strong and wise marketing campaign can go a long way. Take notes, people!

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Businesses Are Losing the Right to Ask Customers for Zip Codes? Yes, But It Doesn’t Matter.

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By Fausto Mendez

    It’s expected that businesses make some kind of effort to obtain the personal info - including phone and address - of their customers. That’s why I was surprised to hear that it’s becoming illegal for businesses to ask for customer zip codes in the US. It was even more surprising to me when I learned that this has been illegal in California since 2011.

    Now that I think about it, a business hasn’t asked me for my zip code since my college days. That’s because California considers zip codes to be a critical piece of identifying information, and with just your zip code, they can accurately guess your home address and phone number. Whether you like it or not, it seems that as California goes, so does the rest of the nation. Massachusetts is the next state that’s outlawed the collection of zip codes during customer transactions, and there’s no reason to assume this trend will reverse itself anytime soon. Fortunately for marketers (and unfortunately for consumers), this isn’t a big deal. Consumer information is more available than ever.

    The rise of online marketing and social-media marketing makes these laws irrelevant. Let’s put it this way: if a marketer gains access to your Facebook profile, they probably have a lot more on file than just your zip code, phone number and home address. And by connecting with you on Facebook, they have a much faster and more convenient way of communicating with you than annoying junk mail or telemarketers. 

    As a result, these laws are generally perceived as good for the public, but they won’t protect consumers’ info from prying eyes - at least not in this day and age. The new laws may force marketers to rely on the online world even more, and in the digital realm, it’s much easier to get the same info and a lot more. In the end, these laws only coerce businesses to rely on easier and more effective web-based methods. Though that’s great for the marketing industry, consumers are not receiving any effective protection by the passage of these laws

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

(Source: Business Insider)

Finished Work: T-Shirts for El Segundo’s Run For Education

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    Our partner AnyPromo.com is a promotional products supplier/retailer, and the company’s graphic artists love to show off their finished work. This is just another design of the many, many designs they finalize on a daily basis.

    El Segundo’s Run for Education 1K, 5K & 10K runs just happened over the weekend, and we were honored to be a sponsor of the festival. AnyPromo supplied the staff and runner shirts for the students, parents and teachers involved. Check us out on sponsors list printed at the back of every shirt.

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    This marathon illustrates the power of promotional apparel. When everyone at the event is wearing your shirt, you can’t be missed. Check out the staff shirts below.

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    At a more commercial event, you might also print the biggest sponsor on the front of the shirt to gain more exposure, but this non-profit event was all about the children. So we didn’t do that. In any case, the rear is prime real estate too. Not everyone’s looking at your front, after all.

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    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Why Social-Media Marketing Works: The Psychology of SMM

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By Fausto Mendez

    I’m honored to be a guest contributor at SmartBlogs, one of the most useful digests for marketers, business owners and industry leaders that seek to improve both their own day-to-day performance and the performance of the organizations that they steer.

    This is an excerpt from my latest post on the psychology of social-media marketing at the SmartBrief blogs.

"Today, social-media is one of the most effective marketing channels for any company. Why? Most experts explain away the phenomenon with the how, not the why: "social is an excellent venue for content sharing and a useful tool for subscribing to news of your favorite brands." While that is true, it only scrapes the surface. There must be a better answer, and I’ve found it.

Social media is unlike any other marketing channel because it requires the customer to reach out to the brand before the brand reaches out to the customer with a message that leads to customer action. Normally, it works the other way around, but why is it so effective when the roles are reversed? The explanation boils down to a basic rule about relationships between people.”

    Read the rest of “The Secret Psychology of Effective Social-Media Relationships” at SmartBlogs.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Finished Work: Custom Glass Beer Mug / Pitcher for Engine 403 Medic Truck

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    Our partner AnyPromo.com is a promotional products supplier/retailer, and the company’s graphic artists love to show off their finished work. This is just another design of the many, many designs they finalize on a daily basis.

    This promotional glass mug, or pitcher (depends on how thirsty you are), starts production this week. The fire fighters from the City of Fairfax just approved the design, and we’re excited to ship it out with a new design. This mason jar turned promotional drinkware is one of our favorite glass mugs in the AnyPromo catalog, which includes about 40,000 to 50,000 different promotional giveaways, customizable office supplies and personalized gifts!

    New customers, don’t forget to enter promo code “AnyPromo” during checkout for a 10% discount on orders of $250 or more. 

  Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis.

Recipes to Boost Focus & Mood in Meetings: Snickers Popcorn

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By Fausto Mendez

Pitching to a hungry audience is shooting yourself in the foot, so we always recommend that you bring along some tasty treats, preferably sugary stuff, to boost client focus and mood. It can make a significant difference in the success or productivity of your meeting. This week’s recipe: Snickers popcorn.

    Making Snickers popcorn is actually pretty easy. All you have to do is cook up the syrup, chop up some Snickers bars and coat the popcorn. It breaks down to a few simple steps.

Step 1 - Stir up the Syrup

+ Start by popping some kernels. An air popper works best. The popcorn should be plain, no butter. Next, make the popcorn’s caramel coating. It consists of brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. You stir up, and boil it for about five minutes. Be careful. Don’t burn the syrup. 

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Step 2 - Mix and Bake

+ Put it all together. Drizzle the caramel over the popcorn. Add peanuts or other nuts, if that’s your thing. Bake at 200 degrees for about an hour.

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Step 3 - Top it Off

+ While it bakes, chop up some snickers bars. Slightly thin slices work best, but you can do whatever you want. You can also try crumbles instead of slices. Finish it with melted chocolate drizzles. Let it dry for a few minutes. Then, dig in. 

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    Thanks to Cookies and Cups for the recipe, and make sure you check in next week - same time, same channel - for another recipe that’ll help you conquer hearts and minds.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Social Media Has Taken Over SEO and Online Marketing: What You Need to Know

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By Fausto Mendez

The old saying goes, “content is king.” This is still true, but recent developments in search-engine algorithms have forced marketing professionals to rethink their SEO strategies. Older SEO techniques are just about useless and, in some cases, dangerous to a brand’s reach, authority and reputation. Why is this happening? More importantly, what can you do to fix your SEO strategy?

    For better or worse, social media has taken over online marketing and search-engine optimization (SEO). The direct force behind these changes appears to be the search industry, but the real driving force is the online marketing industry. That’s because, in the past five to ten years, online marketers have learned to game search engines too well, so search companies were forced to rethink the way their search engines work in order to serve more relevant search results, not just the results of the companies with the most cash to spend. 

How Did Social Media Take Over SEO?

    The marketing industry’s relentless gaming of the system actually caused a significant drop in search performance, which is really bad for the good ol’ fashioned web surfer. And that’s really bad for the search companies, which are arguably the heart and veins of the Web.

    Marketers would game search engines by manipulating backlink counts. At the time, Google assumed that pages with the most backlinks are the most relevant and carry the most authority. For example, a New York Times article may be reposted, curated and outright copied thousands of times across the Web, which would create tons of backlinks to the original article. Google realized that such articles must be important because it is the target of so many links. But what happens if an online marketer pays a few teenagers to build some artificial backlinks to that article?

    What if it’s not a few links; what if it’s a few thousand links? What if it’s a few million links? In Google’s eyes, the page must be important, but if its backlinks are not genuine, chances are it’s not relevant to the end user. As a result, fake backlinks became a real problem, real fast. 

    Google had to diminish the SEO power of backlinking, but how would it measure authority without giving backlinks so much weight? Google learned that another signal of important content is social engagement, meaning the sharing, “liking”, reposting, commenting, etc. of keywords, content, links and brands. This is why social media has taken over SEO.

How do you adjust your SEO strategy?

    Now, how can your company take advantage of the new search algorithms? First, read Google’s just-released-to-the-public Search Quality Ratings Guidelines, which the company hands out to evaluators that manually rate pages for search relevancy. You’ll learn some critical stuff, but we’ve also made a quick and dirty best-practice list to help you get started fast. Check it out below: 

+ Google and search engines prefer user friendliness over relentless keyword optimization. Over-optimization can actually hurt you, and hiding keywords with invisible text or coding tricks is a red flag to Google. It was a cheap trick that worked back in the day, but those days are over. 

+ Set up sharing buttons on all your posts or product pages. If you run an e-commerce store, set up the sharing buttons on the product pages. You also need obvious links to your blog and other social-media accounts. A user shouldn’t have to think twice after deciding to take a few seconds out of his day to visit your brand’s social-media profiles. 

+ Content is still king (you just have to make sure it’s shared over social media). Before this year, you could submit your latest blog post to your SEO company, and suddenly you’d have hundreds or thousands of backlinks that push your post to the top of search-results lists. It’s not so easy anymore. You need real fans, not dead social-media profiles, to share your content. Work on social-media recruitment, and stop relying on services that fill your social-media profiles with fake fans. 

+ Use a tool or company to find poor quality backlinks, and remove them. If you paid for backlinks, chances are they are now hurting your search engine performance. 

+ If you need real fans and followers, that also means you’ll have to work on improving your content. Ugly, over-optimized content just don’t cut it anymore. It must really appeal to your fan base. Otherwise, it’s dead in the water. Amazing content is king.

+ Don’t forget about your robot.txt file and other website optimization. This makes it easy for search engines to find relevant content on your website, and it also boosts load speed to prevent impatient users from leaving too quickly.

+ Take advantage of Schema.org microdata markup. This is the next level of meta tagging, and all the major search engines use it to read and understand the content on websites. In the eyes of a search engine, it defines content, such as “article” or “product”. Otherwise, content is just code and keywords, which is not good enough if you want to boost your SEO to the max. Schema.org also competes with Facebook’s Open Graph protocol, so Google will use it more as Open Graph becomes more widespread. Actually, Schema.org may prevent the widespread adoption of Open Graph since it’s more open and doesn’t require integration of Facebook’s proprietary API, JavaScript and other Facebook annoyances. Also, it was launched and widely implemented before OG.

    If you plan to integrate your business with OG, the best thing to do is to learn it, understand it and, if you decide it’s worth your time and effort, plan it into a long-term strategy. This is exactly our strategy at AnyPromo.com.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

This is Why Good Design Powers Big Business

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By Fausto Mendez

Good design goes beyond aesthetics; it’s about the whole experience. When done well, design is virtually invisible. It gets out of the way to allow you to get stuff done. As a result, when your business, its operational materials and its marketing materials are designed well, your customers never have to think about engaging in business with you. It just happens, like walking or breathing.

    We thoroughly enjoyed 12most’s article on good design as the investment that differentiates good businesses from great businesses. We break down the “hows” and “whys” below, but the whole thing is worth a read if you have more time.

+ It makes you stand out. Spend a little extra on an exceptional artist for your logo and any costumer-facing marketing materials to make the most of every moment.

+ It impacts the public’s perception of your brand. I’m sure you’ve heard the following nugget of wisdom before: “It’s not about what you say. It’s about how you say it.” For example, Starbucks doesn’t just sell coffee. The entire coffee-buying experience at Starbucks is unique in a way that makes it easy, enjoyable, effortless and - most importantly - thoughtless.

+ It makes your message understandable and memorable. Consider the difference between an encyclopedia and the Discovery Channel. Whether you’re talking about aesthetics, creative copy or user experience, you want to produce a message that is easy to swallow (and tasty too). Last week’s article on how to improve your marketing copy is a good place to start if you’re thinking about improving your writing talent.

+ It makes for an enjoyable customer experience. No matter the industry, customers want to enjoy themselves. Also, the more enjoyable a moment, the more likely it is to be remembered.

+ It makes you relevant or credible. There is an old saying: “If you’re right, appear right.” In other words, people make a connection between what they feel is true and what is actually true. If those two line up perfectly, you’ve hit the jackpot. If they don’t line up, you’ve successfully confused your customers and maybe even your own employees.

+ It makes you trustworthy. Good design requires intelligence, creativity and an above-average sense of the human experience, and people tend to trust people with those qualities - whether they realize it or not.

+ It boosts efficiency. When you automate processes and remove paths that lead away from the end goal, everything happens with less effort, less confusion and less waste. Good design also makes it easier for managers to understand the way their company works, which helps them have a greater understanding of company as a whole.

+ It makes your employees feel better. Putting on the right outfit for work can make a huge difference in your confidence and capability. In the same way, working for a company that is designed well is great for employee morale. Employees hate working for a company that can’t recognize and fix its faults.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Introducing Customizable Water Bottles by Bobble

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    AnyPromo just picked up these smart water bottles (with internal filters) by Bobble. Customize them with your logo. Then, hand them out to potential clients, clients and partners to boost brand awareness. This is a brand new addition to the AnyPromo catalog, so you might have to call to order. 

   Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

How to Make the Ultimate Cake Pops

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You probably know that giving out food, especially sweets, is an easy way to boost potential clients’ focus on your sales pitch, but it also helps to provide exceptional delights in the meeting room for added emotional effect. After all, the more emotional a moment, the more memorable it is.

    We love this tutorial on baking and making the “ultimate” cake pops, courtesy of the Frugalette. I warn you: use this power wisely. Everyone that eats these pops may come back to you for more, so don’t give ‘em to anyone you don’t want to see again! 

   Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

Ford’s Scott Monty Shares Three of His Social-Media Marketing Tactics

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Social-media marketing is an ever-changing landscape of innovation and creativity, so it’s important to take notes when a marketing giant, such as Ford’s Scott Monty, shares the “how” and “why” of some of his more successful social-media campaigns. 

    Monty is Ford Motor Co.’s official head of social media for the entire globe, so he knows a thing or two about leveraging social audiences to achieve long-term goals. Over an interview with Entrepreneur, he shared three of his social-media principles - each one backed up by a real-world example that produced significant results. 

+ Marketing is often about sharing stories, but it’s your fans and followers that should be the main story tellers on social media, not your company. Back in 2009, Ford launched a campaign called the Fiesta Movement, which allowed 100 drivers to borrow a Fiesta for six months - gas, insurance and all costs paid by Ford. The enthusiastic drivers shared their experiences via social media, generating over 6.2 million views on YouTube, about 750,000 views on Flickr and 40 million impressions on Twitter. 

+ Don’t treat social media like another broadcasting system. It is not like a TV; it’s more like a room full of people in front of a TV. In other words, engage your fans and followers in conversation. Don’t just talk at them. For example, Ford created a “spokespuppet” that appeared in several YouTube webisodes that promoted the Ford Focus. It subtly increased awareness about the Focus in YouTube’s younger demographic as the video was passed around for its comedic value.

+  Don’t treat your fans like a commodity, and reward your fans in ways that encourage them to further engage your brand. Just prior to premiering the 2011 Explorer to the public, Ford launched a Facebook page for the new car. The page featured sneak peaks at new features and interviews with the design team and chief engineer. Ford boosted interest in the page offering exclusive access to some industry events, and the page also served as a survey for customer interests and new features in future models. 

    The three tips make up some of the best social-media advice we’ve come across this year, but I believe that Monty is leaving out one critical aspect of his social-media strategy. In addition to everything he mentions above, Monty also engages the marketing industry by regularly offering useful advice in various forms. These documents get passed around social networks and blogs in a way that adds an above-average professionalism to his brand, which tends to increase the respect that these professionals have for Ford since he is engaging them on their terms.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+, and stay updated with marketing & business advice, news and more.

Brands Are Becoming Mainstream Content Creators

Brands are now joining television stations, film studios, magazines and publishers as mainstream content creators. Sometimes, it’s accidental, such as with the Marco Rubio / Poland Spring incident, but it’s happening nonetheless. In 2013, expect content marketing to soar to new heights.

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