Saving Money in Our Valley

Despite a few rainy April days, it appears spring has sprung in Southern Oregon. It’s time to plan summer vacations, rafting trips, rock climbing excursions, brewery and wine tours, and the list goes on. Some days it seems like there isn’t enough time to enjoy all these wonderful activities; however, anyone who knows the splendor of Our Valley knows the value in finding the time to explore it.

So, you’ve made time for all your activities. Check. What next? As you stare at your calendar, each day brimming with new adventures, you feel a little worried. All of these activities sound wonderful. But how will you pay for them?

Fortunately, Southern Oregon has a steadfast ally whose greatest power (and joy) is saving money – Captain Limelight! The Captain, working together with Limelight Deals, is proficient in finding great deals and bringing those deals to the people of Southern Oregon. In fact, he has rounded up some deals and discounts to help you save money while exploring our valley.

This week, we found five deals focused on Southern Oregon and all it has to offer. For those with an adventurous spirit, we suggest a ski boat rental at Lost Creek Lake. Then take the whole family to the Rogue Valley’s newest edition – Rogue Air Trampoline Park. Jump, bounce, and feel like a kid again while creating special memories with yours. Afterward you can relax and enjoy a wine tasting with friends. But maybe you want to be creative, too. How about a beading class? Limelight Deals is practical, too, and we can help with important issues such as your dental health.

If all of that sounds too enticing to pass up, you would be shocked to know we haven’t even scratched the surface of what Southern Oregon has to offer. Not only that, Limelight Deals provides you with cost effective ways in which to enjoy all those offerings. We promise to keep you coming back for more!

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Reach Your Customers Where They Are

Medford Advertising Audience

Source: C,M&B 2012

One of the most important things to consider when planning your advertising for your business is to know where your customers can be found.  You’d think this could go without saying, but thanks to a recent study here in Jackson County by Clark, Martire, and Bartolomeo, it is clear that many local businesses will want to reconsider their plans.

Radio Advertising

The data in the chart on the right is based on the answer to the question “Did you read (watch/listen to) _________ yesterday.”  So if you wanted to use a radio station to reach as many local adults as possible yesterday, you would want to choose to have your message on AM1440.  In that 24-hour period, over 14,000 of us listened to that channel, which is a great number for a radio station.

The problem, as you might expect, is that radio commercials are not 24-hours long.  Each 15 or 30-second spot is only heard by a fraction of that total audience.  This is not to say that you shouldn’t consider advertising on the radio, but doing so will not help you reach the majority of the adults here in Medford, or Central Point, or the other towns here in the valley.

Television Advertising

As you might expect.  The numbers look better when you consider your TV advertising alternatives.  After all, “everyone” watches television (we’ll address that in an upcoming post).  KDRV has the most of your potential customers watching, with about 57,000 local adults tuning in during a given day.

While that seems like a lot, as you are looking into how effective your advertising budget might be spent remember that this is a 24-hour total and your commercial won’t be on all the time.  (The study also didn’t ask who got up to make a sandwich during the commercials, but that’s something to consider for your business as well.)  On average a TV commercial will be seen by more people than that hear a radio commercial in southern Oregon though.

Print Advertising

In what should be no surprise to anyone, more local people read the Mail Tribune than any other newspaper or magazine.  While the 51,000 adults recorded in this study is a great number, it’s even better when you look a little closer.

  1. Your ad does stay “on” for the entire 24-hour period since the paper only comes out once per day.
  2. Since the newspaper is “invited” into these homes, people are paying in part because they want to learn about businesses like yours.  The ads are read along with the news.  No one is getting up to leave the room during your “commercial” in the newspaper.
So each individual message you put in front of your potential customer is much more likely to be seen by them, making the newspaper the best bet – still – of any of the traditional advertising options.

Internet Advertising

All that we’ve covered so far is great information for your business.  You should be aware of these figures and you should use them in determining how to best help your customers know why they should come see you today.  However, so far it also ignores the two largest columns on the chart.

Of the 160,000 adults in Jackson County.  Over 132,000 of them had access to the internet yesterday.  And even more importantly, 130,000 of them had the internet in their pocket!  The portable digital devices that were a part of this category include smart phones, iPads and other tablets, as well as readers like the Kindle or Nook.  What was interesting is that laptops didn’t count.  They aren’t portable enough!

The explosion of internet connected customers – and those that connect via mobile devices – represents a true sea change in the way most of you should be doing business.  Never before have you been able to reach so many adults in such an intimate way.  The first important step for you to consider here is to recognize the importance of the mobile internet to your business.  If you are able to find new customers in the smaller columns in the above chart, imagine what these larger ones can do for your business.

Mobile Internet AdvertisingThe next step is to learn enough about these new dynamics to make smart choices for your strategy.  One thing that is certain about the web is that there are plenty of ways to waste a lot of time and energy.  The potential to grow your business is here as well, but let’s make sure that you move smartly through this new landscape.

And that’s where your SOMG consultant comes in.  Our business was affected by this change early and dramatically.  Count on our experience, research, and expertise to guide you quickly into this area so you get there ahead of your competition and in as cost effective way as possible.  Save yourself the time associated with the learning curve so you can start taking advantage of these new tools today.

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

 

Posted in Strategy | Leave a comment

How Do I Get My Business to the Top of Google?

Search Engine Optimization TipsOr Bing, or Yahoo…

Getting your business found when your potential customers are shopping for a business like yours – that’s a big deal in 2013.  Increasingly, your potential customers are looking to Google to tell them where they should spend their money.  You absolutely want your business to be there.

Many, many words have been written about search engine optimization over the last decade or so.  If you are still confused by the topic, and many southern Oregon business owners are, where do you start?

Our internet marketing team, Marketing Blacksmith, answers that very question in this latest post.  The great news for your business, is that Content is King when it comes to helping your website out rank your competition.  It’s a quick and easy read, and helps you to understand the single biggest way that you can improve your business’ visibility when people are looking for what you sell.

The next step, of course, is to make a plan that ensures you are doing this at least as well as your competition.  You can continue reading – here or elsewhere – to gather all the necessary info.  Or you can give us a call.  With access to all of the latest research and trend analysis that we have, we are your built in shortcut.

Spend the valuable time you have working on improving your situation.  We’ll answer all of your questions and provide you with the necessary data to help you choose your next steps wisely – and the cost for this assistance is free.

And if you find that your current website doesn’t allow you to get the maximum benefit from the recommendations, the talented Marketing Blacksmith team is available to do your heavy lifting for you.  (This part comes with a reasonable cost.)

For now, your first step is to check in on the Marketing Blacksmith post and make sure you have the first part of the plan to dominate your competitors understood.  Go get them!

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

 

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Customers are Punishing Companies That Annoy Them on Social Media

That’s the strongly worded title of a new study from Vanson Bourne on what your customers think of business’ attempts to connect with them via Social Media. In my experience, the people in charge of marketing for businesses here in southern Oregon don’t set out to “annoy” their potential customers. But because of the nature of the medium, their social media efforts can have that affect.

65% of the shoppers in this survey said they would stop buying from a company that they find annoying on social media. How do you make sure your messages aren’t annoying? Effective social media marketing is hard work. Don’t make the effort only to be “punished” by the very people you are trying to reach.

Why Are They There?

The first thing to do is remember why people are on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Think about how you use these sites when you are there without your marketing hat on. Do you ever login to Facebook thinking, “I hope a company has posted a message here trying to sell me something!” I doubt that anyone has ever thought that, so be very mindful of that when you are reaching out to your potential customers via Social Media.

  1. Don’t post too often. Less is more.
  2. Don’t post blatant sales messages – unless that message includes a significant discount.
  3. Do be seen as a resource. Solve problems. Tout good causes. Recommend the business next door.
  4. Do ask questions of your customers on what they would like you to do better. And don’t get defensive when you get feedback you may not like.
  5. Do answer questions when your customers reach out to you.

What Do They Want?

There is good news in this report. The same study found that these shoppers say that they like hearing about your business – from their friends. 68% said that they had researched a company that had been recommended to them by a friend online, and this research led to a purchase about a ¼ of the time. Those are great numbers! But what does that mean for a business in Medford?

  1. It means that you need to make it easier for your best customers to brag about you online. Bonus points if you make it lucrative for them too – even if in very small ways.
  2. It means that you may need to take the time to identify who your best customers are. Do you know them? Have you told them how much their opinion means to their friends – and the success of your business?
  3. It probably means that you need to give them info to share. They probably don’t know your business well enough to know to announce your anniversary sale, or your Cyber Monday specials. But hopefully they would pass this info along to their friends if you made it available to them in a way that didn’t seem “annoying” to them.

Where Are They?

In the last interesting nugget from this survey, customers said that they are most open to company messages on Facebook and YouTube, while businesses most often use Facebook and Twitter. Oops. You should focus your efforts where your customers are open to them. While that may be Facebook and Twitter for your business; this study shows that YouTube is an underutilized opportunity. For your particular business, the better place to be may also be LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Google+. The point here is to make sure that your efforts give your business the best chance of success, even if that strategy is different than what works for the business next door or mentioned in the business section of the Mail Tribune.

What Do You Do Next?

Use the data found here to check in on your strategy. Keep doing what is working, and consider a course correction on the parts that haven’t. Or launch the things that would help that you haven’t started on yet. And that’s where we can help. Our marketing consultants are available to you free of charge to help in the planning of your strategy. Leverage our talent, training, and research to ensure your business has the best chance to succeed as you roll forward into 2013.

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

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The New Way to Use Print Media

Mark Dennett

One of the smartest people I know is Mark Dennett.  He is America’s Marketing Coach, and one of the most creative marketing minds around.  He’s once again shared some timely insights in a recent blog post about whether businesses should continue to use print advertising in their marketing mix.

Mark makes the point that there are now two kinds of journalism in this country.  One is the traditional, high-quality brand that offers in depth analysis and perspective.  This type offers a loyal audience who appreciates the quality of the news reporting.  The newer type strives to be “good enough” and builds a business model through quantity of news instead of quality – and these companies tend to be shedding their print products in favor of a completely online (read: less expensive) model.

Mark’s recommendation to companies like yours is to align your company’s advertising message with those companies who continue to offer a strong printed product with a loyal audience, but who have also embraced the digital world with a robust website or tablet app.  I couldn’t agree more.  Mark further recommends that your advertising campaign be leveraged across both the printed product and the online site – so long as the media company rewards you with a discount for doing so.  Absolutely.  That clearly makes sense for you and your company – and is a better business model for the media company too.

As the largest media company in southern Oregon, SOMG is best able to help you follow Mark’s advice.  Ready to learn more on how to find more customers by leveraging the best of the old and the new?  Give either Mark or your SOMG marketing consultant a call.

 

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

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2012 Holiday Shoppers will Shop Online

In a new study that should not surprise anyone, US shoppers will be leaning on the internet to make their shopping easier.  According to a study cited in MediaPost.com’s recent article, shoppers will be spending as much or more as last year, on average, and doing much of their planning online.  Average spending will be approximately $500 per family.

Given that we have about 80,000 families in Jackson County (source: CMB) in round numbers, that says that your business will be fighting for a slice of a great big pie.  A $40 million pie.  That’s great news!

There are a couple of good news takeaways for our local businesses.  Even though the survey was taken online and sponsored by an online shopping site, 41% of the respondents say that they prefer shopping in local independent retail shops.  If you own one of those “mom and pop” type businesses, this good news!  The real percentage in southern Oregon probably skews even higher, given our population make up relative to the study sample.  So you have a chance to have a great Christmas season.

When we dig a little deeper into the data though, there are some potential to do items that crop up for you to consider.

88% of shoppers plan to research online before shopping in order to find the best deals.

Can they find you when they do?  We are busier than ever, and heading out just to “shop” doesn’t happen for most of us anymore.  We visit local stores in order to buy.  The shopping part is done ahead of time, sometimes by calling ahead, but most often anymore by searching the internet for the best deal, best selection, closest location, etc.  Your business absolutely has to be easy to find when your potential customers are looking for what you sell.

Shoppers will look long and hard for the best place to buy.

  • 29% will spend up to 2 hours shopping online
  • 38% will spend 3-6 hours shopping online
  • 14% will spend 7-10 hours shopping online
  • 19% will spend more than 10 hours shopping online
The good news here is that they are putting in effort.  Even if your website doesn’t list at the top of their search results, they may hunt for you until they find you.  But imagine how much more lucrative that your season will be if you make yourself easier to find?

Shoppers will be starting early and shopping well into December.

When asked to guess when the best deals will be available, the survey respondents said:

  • Black Friday – 28%
  • Cyber Monday – 16%
  • After the Thanksgiving Holiday – 33%
  • Month of December – 23%
What this most likely means for your business, is that after the initial rush, there may be a steady rise in business as Christmas gets near.  A marketing strategy that covers this period, as opposed to a flash-in-the-pan approach may help you to generate the a larger market share through the season.
My grandpa used to always say how important it was to make hay while the sun was shining.  A $40 million Christmas season after the way things have been recently, is a sunny day indeed.  Not sure how to effectively make sure you get your fair share?  Your SOMG marketing consultant is available to help you plan out your strategy.  With extensive training in print, online, television, radio, and direct mail advertising strategies, you can consider them your free advertising agency.
Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

Posted in Strategy | Comments closed

Social Media Best Practices for 2012

See video

You’ve heard of social media.  You’re probably on at least one platform, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest…  You’ve probably even made an effort to help your business grow through Social Media.  There are certainly enough reports out there about how this is THE NEXT BIG THING.  And it can be.  But has it helped you to grow your sales yet?  If it has, does the increase in sales offset the effort required yet?  And have the recent changes on Facebook put a damper on this growth for you like it has for so many others? What do you need to do about it? The social media landscape has changed – and fast – this year.  Your marketing strategies need to adapt accordingly.  Southern Oregon Media Group is putting on a new seminar series to share with you the latest in research, the new best practices that are helping businesses to take advantage of these changes, and how you can continue to win customers away from your competition in these challenging times. Come and learn the latest. The information will be presented by Greg Thompson, Digital Manager for SOMG.  He is responsible for researching the latest trends in online marketing strategies, and helping our company as well as many local businesses utilize these developments.  Greg gets asked to present on various internet advertising topics across the country and is once again sharing the newest data here in southern Oregon.

Join us to learn the answers of these and other questions:

  • • How many of your customers are using social media?
    • Which site(s) will help your business most?
    • How to tell if you are getting a return on your investment?
    • Investment? I thought Facebook was free?!?
    • The newest, most effective strategies?
    • The one thing social media CAN’T do for you?

The class is offered two different times to allow you to fit it into your busy schedule:

  1. Tuesday, November 13th @ 8:30am
  2. Thursday, November 15th @ 12pm
Allot about an hour for the discussion and there will be ample time for questions from the audience as well.  You are guaranteed to have all of your questions about social media answered, and more likely than not, you will learn information that is completely new to you as well.
The seminar is free to attend, but an RSVP is required as materials specific to your business type will be provided.  If you have any questions, or to sign up over the phone, please call Marilyn Zimmers at 541-776-4427.

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Your Customers Are Looking Online for Your Business

Can they find you?

A funny thing happened on the way to the recovery from the recession.  Technology happened and some businesses adapted.  They invested in a website, or a better website, a mobile website, and social media.  Customers found these improvements helpful.  Customers started to shop with these businesses that made it easy for them to do so.  So many of us have less to spend these days and so we like to research where we spend so that we get the best bang for our buck.  These businesses have by and large pulled themselves up out of the recession as evidenced by news of hiring and expansion.

They ended their recession not by waiting for the general population to all get rich again, but instead by increasing their market share – by taking customers away from their competitors.

For the foreseeable future, that’s the best chance any local business has to grow.  What can your business do to make it so that it is easier to do business with you than your competition?  There are lots of little things that come to mind, all in the name of providing better customer service.  In fact, most businesses that I talk to today point to their service as a competitive advantage.  That is 100% necessary.  If a customer has found you, what can you do to make sure that they love their experience with you? Figure that out  and do it over and over and over again.

However, there’s a step that proceeds that one that may be even more important, and in Jackson County often over looked by our local businesses.  This missing step, is to make sure that your customers can find you when they are looking for you.  In 2012, this means being available on the internet – and more specifically on the 1st page of the Google search results.

Google reports that across all searches on their site, 96% of all searchers never make it past the 1st page.  Google will return thousands, if not millions, of possible results each time your customers look for you.  However, your customer seems satisfied with the 1st 10-12 recommendations.  If you aren’t one of them, your business is invisible, and the likelihood of you making that sale is somewhere very close to zero percent.  If you are among the chosen few, there is a very good chance your phone rings all the time and the recession ended months ago.

If you want to learn more about how well you are doing on all of the keywords that are important to your customers, we offer a free report that will tell you exactly that.  Give us a call and let us know to run your specific report for you.  If you are still in a recession, you already know that the results aren’t what they should be.  Let’s instead talk about the (often easy) steps you need to take to get found up near the top of that all important 1st page.

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

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What’s the Big Deal About Google+

If you are a regular reader of this column, or if you are just the person in charge of “figuring out the internet” for your business, you’ve heard of Google+ by now. You may have even checked it out. While not much is happening locally on Google+ yet from a social interaction standpoint, one huge thing is happening from a business standpoint. Google has decided to give businesses who adopt Google+ a HUGE boost in their search rankings.

I tell business owners that I talk to these days that Facebook is probably important to include in your marketing strategy because you likely have lots of potential customers there you can friend. I also now tell them that to include Google+ in their strategy because that’s the place where Google wants to be their friend.

As you grow your company’s online footprint, one of the first (or next) pieces you want to add is a business page for your company on Google+. Here’s a link to mine to show you some of what is possible.

Yes, I realize that you won’t find many customers there yet. They are coming though. The important part for now is that the information that you share here will climb the search rankings very, very fast with Google. One of Facebook’s best kept secrets to date is how much Google doesn’t like them. These multibillion dollar companies are bickering like 10-year olds on the play ground. Only your business is being affected by their actions.

Google has gone out of its way to make sure that data shared on Facebook doesn’t come up on a Google search if at all possible. AND they have also gone out of their way to make sure information that you share on Google+ trumps almost anything else out there on that particular topic.

This is important to you because if someone is actively shopping for what you sell, they don’t typically turn to Facebook to begin their research. We don’t say, “I’ll Facebook” it after all. We say, “I’ll just Google it.” So make sure you are doing the things that Google wants your business to do in order to rank well when your customers look for what you sell – and the most important thing you can do these days in this regard is to set up and use your business Google+ page.

Not sure how to start? That’s OK. I’ll show you.

Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

 

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Internet Marketing Rule #8

Local is the newest big buzzword on the internet. Search Engines like Google and Bing are going out of their way to show local business information to local shoppers in the search results. What does that mean for businesses in Medford or Grants Pass, or even Eagle Point and Talent? The answer is that it is “mostly good.”

The reason I say, “mostly good” and not “unbelievably awesome” is that there is a catch. While Google in particular has done mom and pop stores a HUGE favor with their recent changes, the businesses that are benefitting are the ones willing to meet the search engines in the middle. These businesses HAVE to make their information available to the internet in a way that Google appreciates. The ones that commit to doing so are enjoying the new customers that are coming their way. The ones that haven’t continue to struggle. It takes some work to play by these new rules, but the work is clearly worth it.

It doesn’t have to be hard work though. There are plenty of great tools to make the job easier and more efficient. Your Southern Oregon Media Group consultant can help you wade through the various options to find the set of solutions best able to help your business – getting you the most bang for your buck. As always, the advice is free. The internet is changing all the time so know that you can count on our advice to point you toward the alternatives that are best for you in the long term.

Here’s one of those tips. Your customers are writing reviews about your business online. Positive online reviews are one of the quickest ways to the top of the Google search results. You probably know all of that. What you may not know is that where those reviews are located can influence how seriously the internet takes them. While national sites like Yelp are popular with customers, your online footprint will grow more quickly if your reviews are listed on eSouthernOregon.com instead. As a site that only lists local businesses, the reviews found here are given more weight by search engines than those listed on any of the national sites.

Want to know what other simple little tricks like this are available to help your business do better in this challenging economy? Give me a call and let’s talk.

 Greg Thompson
Digital Manager
gthompson@mailtribune.com

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