Category Archives: Marketing 101

Optimized Merchandising for the Thanksgiving Season

Getting started on your merchandising can be quite the challenge at first, but knowing when and where to distribute your goods is a practice that gets easier over time. Many big retail corporations plan out very specific diagrams for their store managers. But this becomes mundane and redundant.  merchandising

Consider changing things up so that customers are drawn to various parts of your store. Having a custom display allows flexibility on how to present merchandise to the taste of the local shoppers and trends, but there is a better way to maximize your sales year round.

The simplest way to start is with seasonal displays and it is crucial to start them at least two months before the indicated holiday. This method lends more time for ‘word of mouth’ to spread from regular shoppers and their friends and family on the special goods your store has to offer. It’s November, folks, time to infuse Thanksgiving into your marketing.

Mind the Seasons Right

Having seasonal end caps are a great way to easily sell both holiday items and hard-to sell-items that barely leave the shelf. Start by making a list of the bottom twenty items as good tie-in ideas for your custom retail displays. These custom displays should be a highlight center for products, such as seasonal items, that are distributed to the highest traffic areas of your store. These areas are not necessarily where your regular top selling items are displayed. Most stores have these areas lodged at the front door but depending on your store layout, this is not the only high traffic area to be considered.

Use a highlighter on your floor plan and make note of any special interest spots. For instance, if your store has hand baskets distributed throughout, consider using a hand basket station to lure your customer to your custom retail displays. This type of lure can create more foot traffic to neglected aisles.

Incorporate the Goods… and Not so Good

Once you have your custom retail displays mapped out, it’s time to decide which products to be used and how they should be placed. Whether your display is a stand alone structure or an end cap to an aisle, it is important to draw attention to these special items with colors and banners. Balloons will do the trick but anything unusual should draw the needed attention across the floor.

Consider the shelving when placing key items. Your hard to sell items should be at eye level and then distributed evenly among the key items, which will force attention to the whole of the display and not just the goods. Use your bottom twenty list to match ideas that are related to your key items. If, for example, you are creating a Thanksgiving display this might be the time to push otherwise hard-to-sell products like napkin holders, uncommon tupperware or toothpicks.

So Fresh and So Clean

The more neat and organized the pattern of products, the more lingering time it will draw from the customer at your custom retail display, increasing the chance of a sell. A great way to tie in items is to use ‘dead space’. These spaces are usually corners that don’t have a flat surface to hold an item. Consider instead using smaller items on a clipstrip to hang from shelf corners. Clipstrips are long ribbons with hooks running down the ribbon. These ribbons are then fastened by a bigger hook at the top corner of a shelf, displaying the items in an uncommon space. Many impulse items are displayed this way, so it is a good idea to keep and reuse these strips for your custom retail displays.


Once you are finished, review the layout of your store. Are your key items dispersed throughout the store? Are they evenly distributed among hard-to-sell items? Do they have attractive banners or hand basket stations to lure the customer across the floor plan? Do the custom retail displays look organized and orderly? Once you have checked these main points off the list, your store is now properly ready to receive the incoming season.

2013 Advertising Trends

Ten years ago, advertising was pretty straightforward. You could buy ads on television, the radio or in the newspaper. If you wanted to get really fancy you could also do direct mail. Today, though, there are a lot more options that are available to you. So how do the ad agencies keep up with the changing trends in marketing, promotions and advertising?

Super Specialty

Some advertising agencies have dug in and continue to specialize in “traditional advertising.” They specialize in television, radio and newspapers. Some agencies are choosing to specialize in “niche” advertising, which means that they are choosing to take on just one kind of promotions or marketing.

The benefit of working with a specialty or boutique agency is that you know that you are working with an expert. Specializing means that the people you work with are going to know their stuff inside and out. This can be a huge benefit to you because you won’t have to worry about the lines getting blurred as you work to come up with a marketing campaign for your product.

Combo Style

A lot of advertising agencies have chosen to eschew the traditional idea of specializing in a specific type of promotions or advertising. They are choosing, instead, to become a hybrid agency. This means that in addition to doing traditional promotions they are also well versed in internet based advertising and marketing.

The benefit of working with an agency of this type is that it cuts down on the work that you have to do. You don’t have to worry about how well what one agency wants to do will coordinate with what another agency will do. Because all of your campaigns are happening under the same route, they will be more cohesive than they would be if you went the specialty route.

How Do You Remain Competitive

This is going to depend largely upon the type of client that you are trying to attract? Typically, though, the agencies that can offer a variety of different promotional styles are going to fare better in the current market. The Internet isn’t a fad, it’s a way of life and business professionals understand that.

As the owner of an ad agency, it is definitely to your benefit to offer a variety of different advertising methodologies and expertise. This helps keep your clients “in house.” Why would you encourage a client to spend money somewhere else when they can spend it with you?

The advertising field has changed dramatically over the last decade. There are two ways to react to this change—you can choose to go hyper-specialized or you can expand your knowledge base and attract more clients. Which route feels best to you?


Recognizing When It’s Time to Get a Web Server

By Jenna Smith

Businesses need websites and web services for customers. Nearly 20 years ago, the Internet came into widespread use, and businesses could get away with not having an online presence. Those days are now gone. As they did then, free website services still exist for businesses and individuals to use. However, there comes a point when a business needs to purchase a web server.

Free Service Limitations

Most free website services are only for personal use, but there are a few for business use. They usually come with two limitations: ads and data restrictions. For blogs, online publications, periodicals and other writing-related businesses, ads are almost expected. However, if your business isn’t one that usually displays ads as a part of the online presence, there comes a time when they detract from your overall appeal.

Data restrictions are a worse than ads in some ways. Data restrictions usually come in the form of caps on bandwidth, which translates into the amount of people who can look at your site, download content and otherwise interact with your business online. The more people start visiting your site, the more you need increased bandwidth to accommodate them. Not only do free services tend to cap the amount of data you can send and receive each month, they often put your site on a slower connection. That means that your website will load slowly for visitors.

Free Your Business with a Web Server

Slow websites tend to make visitors find another business that offers the same or similar services. A free website service can actually impede your business’ growth because of slow connections! In addition to extremely limited bandwidth, free services also provide very little in the way of space for files and limited email capabilities. As your business expands, your website will too, and you will need more email addresses.

Web servers like the ones available at can help a business expand its online presence with various packages and encourage growth. Transfer your small business website to a hosting package, and upgrade to a web server later on. The cost is low for a small business, but your site will have faster speeds for visitors, more space for expansion with no downtime and more email capability.

Even though free services seem like a good deal at first, most individuals grow out of them within a month or two. Businesses outgrow them even faster. Choose a web server option that fits your needs and your business will likely expand exponentially.

Tips for Managing a Booth at a Conference or Trade Show

By Jenna Smith

A booth at a conference or trade show cane be a great way for a small business to increase their exposure ad attract new business. However, managing a booth takes some careful thinking and smart planning to make it a success. Follow these tips to ensure a successful booth that will attract lots of new customers.

Make It Look Professional

It is not necessary to drop tons of money on the flashiest booth at the conference, but do spend enough to ensure that they display looks solidly professional. It should be easy-to-read and let people know why they should stop at the booth. Attention-grabbing headlines are a great way to do this. Do not mess around with putting up homemade signs. They will turn off potential customers and lose business left and right.

Get a Sense of the Past

Do some research and see what kind of booths have worked in the past. It should be easy to contact someone that organizes the conference to ask them about some of the most popular booths during past years at the conference. Following in the footsteps of previously successful booths is a great way for small business owners to move down the path towards success at the conference.


It is important to do lots of promotion before the event in order to ensure a successful booth. Send out invitations to customers to stop by and take a look at the booth. Call important customers to set up a time for a private appointment to take a look at the booth. This is a classy touch that will be rewarded with business deals.

Everyone Loves Free Stuff

Take advantage of this fact by giving away things at the booth. People are much more likely to take the time to stop and look at a booth’s offerings if they know that there is free merchandise involved. The giveaways do not have to be big items. Small little things like pens, key chains and pads of paper will work fine. Just be sure to put the company logo on every item that is handed out.

There’s an App for That

There are some great event apps out there that will help in the planning of an event. Take a look at app stores to see what is available. Planning a successful booth at a conference is easy with a little help form an app.

Get Attention

It never hurts to have a little eye candy to generate attention for the booth. Hire some attractive models to stand outside the booth and help pull in traffic. Once customers are attracted into the booth by the models, they will have the opportunity to take a close look at everything the booth has to offer.

Keys to Success

Do the proper planning, make it look professional, attract attention and give away free gifts. These are the crucial steps in ensuring that a small business has a successful booth at a conference or trade show. Follow these steps and it will be a smash success.

What is Internet Reputation Management and Why Do I Need It

by Jenna Smith

Online reputation management is the new online marketing trend and there is good reason for it. This is a method of preventing a bad review or comment from affecting your online reputation.

Why is a Business Online Reputation So Important?

Social media websites changed the way people saw the Internet. It made it possible for anyone to write, comment or review anything. In some ways, this has damaged many people, as this information can often influence the way others think of the person or business being talked about – even if the posted information isn’t true.

What is internet reputation management?

As a business, you should work at making sure positive reviews, and information is posted about your business to compensate for any negative information posted there. So if negative information is ever posted it won’t be so damaging. That’s where professional internet reputation management services come in to play. This type of service ensures there is more favorable information on the web when your company is Google’d than unfavorable.

How can a Negative Online Review Damage my Reputation?

Studies by online marketing experts show that most people review or look up a company online when thinking of using their services or purchasing their products. However, when researching a company and only finding negative information, these same studies show that about 50% of potential buyers have a change of heart after reading such reviews.


To prevent the above scenario from happening, businesses prefer to implement online reputation management procedures to create a positive reputation. The online reputation management team will implement several simultaneous tasks. These tasks work much like SEO tasks, but instead of placing your website in an easy to find position on the search engines, an ORM expert places favorable information about you that is easily accessible by readers.

Services a reliable online reputation management (ORM) handles for you. While the tasks will vary depending on the information already available online, most incude:

- Forum posting to improve our credibility and establish your company as a reliable source of industry information

- The right ORM company will run contests and surveys to get your previously satisfied customers to post positive reviews on your website and other review sites, as well as social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.

- Social media management – by posting comments, answering people’s questions and offering up industry related links the ORM company can help cement your favorable online reputation.

While these are not difficult tasks they do take time, and sometimes you are just too busy with other tasks that are important to the operations of your business. But important ORM tasks also take persistent work, so hiring a professional company to do the job for you.


The Consultants’ Challenge — How to Give a Sample of Your Service

I had just gone into business for myself as a consultant.  Business was slow and I was so frustrated that I decided to stop moping and get some grocery shopping done instead.

I was walking through the Sam’s Club and noticed the samplers stationed strategically around the frozen food section.  A nice lady, that sort of looked like my grandmother, offered me a sample of marinated salmon with a smile .  I plopped the contents of the plastic container into my mouth and thought “YUM!  That is so much better than I thought it would be.”  I went down the isle and snapped up a $13 box of marinated salmon I would not have purchased otherwise.  Good going Sam’s.

How to Sample When You’re a Service

As I got all my stuff in the car and saw that box of salmon, I realized that I had purchased something purely because of the sample that I received.  I remember thinking “Gee, I wish I could sample my services!”  That way my prospects would get a “taste” of what it was like to work with me and I would probably get sales I wouldn’t normally had closed.

Samples are nice.  Samples increase sales.  Samples and demos are a fabulous marketing tool.  There’s only one problem, it’s hard to give someone a sample of an experience or a relationship.

So I got to thinking about creative ways that consultants and freelancers can sample their potential customers:

  • Free Consultation/Conversation: With the advent of Skype – there’s really no reason why you can’t give people a good idea of what it’s like to work with you by having a basic conversation.  Phones are just as good – but a video Skype call gives you the opportunity to really see HOW you are.
  • Webinars – Most people mention webinars as a marketing strategy to generate leads or build a list.  That’s perfectly fine – but also consider this as a way for your prospects to get an idea of what they will get when working with you.
  • Templates: Templates are not just popular with freebie seekers, they are popular with search engines and they will give your prospect an idea of how you think.  Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling does an outstanding job of giving her audience lots of samples of what they will get out of the book.

You’ve probably got wonderful ideas of your own – leave a comment with your best “Free Sample” idea!

How a Toothpaste Package Became the Deciding Factor

toothpaste packaging

Do you live with one of those people that doesn’t put the toothpaste cap back on?!  My none-year-old son is that person at our house.  Thankfully he has is own bathroom, so I don’t have to live with the crusty toothpaste all over the sink on a daily basis.  I thought that having him clean the crusty toothpaste would make him realize that putting the cap back on was a good thing.  Nope.  I thought that having the toothpaste crust all around the top and no longer come out of the tube would make him adjust his behavior.  Nope.

I could see that it wasn’t bothering him nearly as much as it was bothering me.  I needed a solution – and one that didn’t require him to do anything.

Apparently, I’m not the only person that has this issue.  After decades of uncreative, basic tube packaging, toothpaste started coming in packages that weren’t tubes!  This was definitely an improvement.  Then, the other day, I was in the grocery store, looking at toothpaste packages and wondering which one would crust the least, when I saw the new Sensodyne package.  It wasn’t a tube at all.  It was a CAN with a  dispenser that looked more like it was meant for make-up than toothpaste. That was all I needed to see.  I snapped it up lickety split.

Don’t Forget About Packaging

While I’m sure that the Sensodyne marketing team wasn’t really targeting kids or even people who don’t put the cap back on – their packaging was a HUGE influencer in my buying decision.

Packaging creates first impressions, it communicates it’s it’s own kind of billboard.  Yet, unless we’re in the consumer market, we often don’t spend as much time on packaging because we don’t always realize how powerful it can be.  Yet packaging is really the voice of your product or service that reaches out and speaks to your audience when you are not there.

In what ways can you use your packaging as the factor that makes your customer choose you?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Is it OK to Take a Break From Blogging?


I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post!  Like everyone else, I got sucked into a series of priorities that left Strategy Stew totally on the back burner.

So that makes me ask the question “Is it ok to take a break from blogging?”

The overall pat answer is “No.”  I could say that depends – but I’m going to stand with “No.  It’s not ok.”

Starting a blog is a commitment.  It’s a long term investment in communicating with your community and simply dropping out isn’t really nice.  It’s like going to an event chatting it up and then just abruptly leaving.

I’m sure that I’ve paid the penalty for dropping out – people stop reading regularly, you drop off the Feed reader and they forget.

Google forgets about you.  The less you post, the less frequently you get indexed and that means you don’t get found.

How to keep blogging when you don’t have time?

  • Invite guest bloggers to submit articles
  • Write a few articles in advance and post them at least once a week.
  • At least throw in some link love.

But whatever you do don’t stop posting!

Sources for Trend Information

It’s the end of October and time for one of those really scary activities — watching for trends.

I’ve decided to give you a little roundup of articles and resources where all you marketing types can go to shine at your next meeting or planning session:

Online Publications

Small Business Trends: If you want to see what’s hot in the small business market – check out Small Business Trends. You’ll not only get a sense of what tools, books and products small business owners are into, you’ll actually get to see their comments on products and articles. Cheaper than a focus group, more authentic and real than a Friday night at the pub.

Trendwatching: With a little more focus on the consumer and macro side of things, Trendwatching is really on the cutting edge of what you might be seeing in the world of product design. I like to read it for hints on what people really want – what people are going to copy next.

Trendhunter: This site is so darn interesting – you could spend hours just clicking around and getting inspired. I like to look at the products they feature and see what else pops into my mind regarding complementary products and services that might suit the trend.

Tools and Resources

SRC Free This is much like the census data that you get from the Census Bureau, what I liked about this is that you can point and click on the information you’re interested in, and the site gives you a report which you can then download into Word, Excel or simply print.

Prizm Market Segments: This site is so much FUN. They’ve literally characterized people by zip code and buying habit. I’ve used this FREE data to identify potential store locations for a client. It’s idea for any kind of retail research you want to do.

Blogs with Great Articles

Luxury Trends: During a time when everyone is whining, it might be healthy to read this little ditty about the growth of luxury brands. All I can tell you is that this article says that research shows that when we know that something is expensive – it releases happy chemicals in the brain. How can you argue with that?

10 Strategic Technologies for 2009: This article outlines the trends and all you have to do is see how you can take advantage of them.

Global Food Trends: I love how this article is laid out. There are sections such as “Indulgence” with a clear description of the trend in such a way that you can easily come up with ideas about potential opportunities.

General Trends: This is a great first place to start reading. It outlines trends from a variety of categories and lets you focus in on what you want. Trends range from “More home cooked meals” to “more time in education”

If you’ve got some favorite sources for trends- send them here and I will create a roundup.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Get Within Arm’s Reach of Your Customers

I’m writing this post from a sunchair at the Jersey Shore . Every thirty minutes or so a man comes down the beach sometimes screaming, sometimes yelling and sometimes singing “Ice cream! Fudgy Wudgy, Italian Ice…” and a long list of descriptive, yummy sounding treats. That”s distribution atat its best.

There is a boardwalk about a quarter mile away with more ice cream than you can imagine — but that would mean thata I would have to go to the ice cream. But this guy brought the ice cream to me.

That has me thinking of the many creative ways we can put our offering within arm”s reach of our customer – and maybe charge more for the convenience.

Get Within Arm's Reach of Your Customers