Technology: It’s Not Just For Trekkies Anymore

Trekkies!
The Original Series Trekkies at BayCon 2003
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Technology has permeated all aspects of society from the workplace to how we order pizza. (If you’re still phoning in your orders for the popular pies, get with the program.) You probably utilize technology throughout your daily routine and don’t even realize it. Why? Because it works. You don’t have to understand why it works or how it works as long as it does. You may not realize just how plugged in you are until there’s an interruption (like last weekend’s storms / power outages).

The uninterrupted access provided by technology offers us increased flexibility – in how we work and how we live. You’re no longer tied to an office to get work done; smart phones, laptops and wireless technology allow us to log in from virtually anywhere.

Because of this virtual landscape, technology items cross over from work to play effortlessly, resulting in increased usage and visibility.

When you promote your business with a branded technology item, it will be seen – again and again – lowering the cost per impression (CPI) to a miniscule amount. When recipients use – and like – the item you gave them, they recommend it to others and associate your company with that good feeling. Who should I go to when I need a service? Oh, there’s XYZ company on my USB drive.

Also driving exposure and CPI is technology’s lengthy shelf life, so to speak. Yes, it’s constantly evolving, but items don’t quickly become obsolete.

Remember when everyone thought we would be driving flying cars by now?

New features are introduced and items are redesigned, but at the end of the day, it’s still a digital photo frame. It’s still practical, stylish and occupies prime desktop real estate.

Think technology is out of reach on your budget? With the continued evolution, prices become more and more competitive.

Remember IBM’s first USB drives debuting at $50 for 8MB of storage? Your dollar will go a little further these days.

And don’t discount accessories. The technology arena has expanded to include embellishments that make your life even easier, protect your gadgets or just make them look cool.

The important thing to remember about technology is that it’s ingrained in every aspect of life for most of us. So when you delve into this popular category, you extend your reach into places your company could boldly never go before.

Cheers,
Jaime

Social Media: What Do I Say? (Part 2)

Original content isn't as hard as it sounds!
Photo credit: Daily Expansion with Michelle Cullison

In the last post, we discussed how to recycle quality content from other resources. As mentioned, this is a great way to continue to provide your fans and followers with compelling content while not bearing the load of always creating original content. It’s also a wonderful way to make connections on social media platforms and draw the attention of others.

Original Content
At some point, you will want to create original content as well. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sounds. There are several ways to quickly create engaging content to help draw your fans and followers into a conversation with you.

  • Successful case studies / testimonials — these are a great way to showcase what your business can do without saying so yourself. Customer testimonials or situations where you came through for a customer show other customers and prospects that you are a dependable business who will solve their challenges too. Check with customers before sharing specific information, such as their client names, order amounts or details of a project that may include proprietary business practices, etc.
  •  This / that questions — ask a question with two answers — this or that. For example, you see two new products at a tradeshow. Post pictures of both and ask your fans or followers whether they prefer product A or product B. It’s a great way to engage your fans and also garner feedback on what they like.
  • Pictures / videos — images are such a powerful way to break through the sea of text online and help to establish a human connection with your followers. Post pictures of your building, yourself with clients, product testing, at shows, etc. Don’t be afraid to mix in personal ones as well!
  • Quotes — inspiring or positive quotes can be a great way to make people smile and catch their attention. Quotes are often highly shared or retweeted, so they’re a great way to grow your follower base.

Don’t get overwhelmed with producing fresh content and stop updating your social media in fear of posting the wrong thing. Just use common sense when posting, and don’t be afraid to mix personal in with business. Yes, you have to be careful, but it’s a great way to show the person or people behind your business. Always remember…

People do business with people, not businesses.

They want to know who you are, what your hobbies are and the connections they have with you. Social media is a fantastic way to truly get social, and bring a human touch online and off.

Do you have other ideas on creating original content for social media? Please share in the comments. I would love to hear about them!

Jaime

Social Media: What Do I Say?

Social Media is a conversation!
Photo Credit: Active Garage

While hosting a series of interactive sessions on social media, the #1 question I received was about content. (Most) attendees understood the value of social media to their businesses, how these platforms could increase their search engine optimization and really help them develop relationships with customers, prospects and partners. “But what do I say?” is always what we circled back to.

Recycled Content
The good news is that you don’t have to necessarily create all of the content you’ll use. There are a plethora of great information sources available, depending on the type of content your audience is interested in. Not sure? Following are some great places to start recycling content for your social media platforms.

  • Your blog and/or website — fresh, interesting content ready made to push out to your networks!
  • Industry organization trade journals, websites, blogs, etc. — the leaders in your industry are probably putting out some great content, so reuse it. You’ll have content to share to your followers and fans while helping these organizations gain greater reach as well. [Note: make sure anything that you share is appropriate for your customers.]
  • Mashable — if your customers are on social media, chances are they are interested in it and technology in general. This is a leading site in these areas that generates interesting content daily.
  • Share other social media users’ content – find companies or individuals that provide compelling content and follow or like them. You’ll be able to share or retweet their information from your timeline or Twitter stream so it goes out to your followers or fans as well. Sharing or retweeting content is a great way to establish connections or be noticed by others on social media. Remember to thank those who are gracious enough to share your information.

Do you have other favorite sources for recycled content? Please share! We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Coming on Thursday… Social Media: What Do I Say? (Part 2) focusing on original content creation.

Jaime

Sports & Leisure: Scoring Points and Creating Fans

sports fans
Fun times at the Kentucky Derby!

It’s no surprise that fan is the root of fanatic. People are passionate about their sports teams, so why not make your brand an integral part? From game day giveaways to local team tie-ins, you can elicit as much passion about your company as the home team.

Becoming a part of game day is a great way to get involved with the local community. Brand popular giveaways, such as noisemakers, signs, stadium cups or lanyards, to hand out at the gate or pre-game tailgating events. Help fans become the 12th man by giving away branded rally towels or shirts to create a ‘black-out’ effect – a sea of black across the stands (or use any team color). Shoot t-shirts with your company’s message into the stands during stops in the action to keep the passion and energy high.

Not going to the game? Bring the excitement into the office. Make your employees the MVPs of a celebration honoring the local sports team or a season kickoff, complete with branded giveaways and merchandise. Pair this special day with a cook-off or potluck to foster team spirit and company pride within your organization. Reward winners or all participants with prizes to acknowledge their efforts. Giving branded merchandise to employees that they’ll use outside of work is an unobtrusive way to spread your message and potentially generate new business.

Don’t limit creating fans of your company to the field or the office. Branching out into leisure time activities is an easy way to build rapport with potential customers, who are everywhere – shopping at stores, strolling parks, attending community festivals, etc. Sponsor teams or leagues, donate branded giveaways for fairs or partner with fellow local companies to create programs that will benefit the community and generate goodwill about your company at the same time. For example, a casual healthy eating restaurant could partner with a fitness center to promote healthy living. Both companies promote the program (and each other) by offering discounted products and services (15% off a fitness center registration with a receipt from the restaurant), helpful information (healthy living tips) and rewards to encourage participation (a free ‘healthy eating set’ after working out at the fitness center 10 times). Not only does partnering with other companies help promote your organization, it can also help with advertising costs. Split the cost of co-branded merchandise, so it’s a winning situation for both companies and the community.

Don’t forget the face paint…

Jaime

Event Planning: You Need to Have a Plan

Have you ever tried your hand at event planning before? Even the most basic party or get-together (in your mind, at least) can turn into a stressful occasion when you’re in charge of all the details. Now think about putting on a conference or tradeshow for 500 or more of your closest friends.

No matter the size, the key to event planning is having a plan.

The most mundane details can pop up to haunt you onsite if you haven’t tied them down ahead of time. Trust me, I’m as spontaneous and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants as they come, and I’m serious about having a plan for any event I’m putting on. Masking drape color, onsite inventory and task lists, personnel schedules and dress all need to be thought of before the big event.

Dress as in the clothes you’re going to wear? Yes, the last thing you need to worry about while running around onsite is not having appropriate shoes or forgetting formal clothing for that big Awards Dinner. Think about each day or event and what you will be doing in order to avoid wishing you had packed a whole lot differently (or any embarrassing moments).

Don’t assume that you’ll remember anything onsite. If you do, it will be a bonus. If you’re giving a speech, at least have note cards on hand in case you draw a big blank when looking out at the audience.

Another reminder that applies to any event you’re throwing… have any contact information you could possibly need on hand (preferably in your phone). Then you’ll be able to quickly get a hold of your hotel contact, colleague, caterer or sister-in-law when something comes up — or goes down — that you need help with.

Events can be fun to plan and rewarding when done well, especially when you plan to perfection.

I hope that everyone enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend, and a sincere thank you to all who have served, and continue to serve today, to protect what makes America great.

Jaime

50 Things I’m Grateful For…

Courtesy of Searchquotes.com

I came across a post recently talking about things the author was grateful for. What a great idea! In our busy lives, oftentimes we allow ourselves to get mired in the frustrations and minor inconveniences of the day-to-day grind. Below are 50 things that I’m very grateful for… what are yours?

1) Waking up this morning with no alarm
2) Seeing the beautiful sunshine today
3) Technology that allows me to work without being tethered to a desk all of the the time
4) A fantastic group of friends, some of whom I met in elementary school
5) Working for myself
6) Finishing my first half-marathon (and soon, my second)
7) My brother who always (well, almost always) let me tag along
8) The amazing people I’ve gotten to know in the industry I work in
9) Being American and enjoying all of its freedoms
10) My Little Miss Sunshine mug

11) My first home, which I’ll forever love no matter where I move
12) The best parents I could ever ask for
13) Watching the Kentucky Derby from the infield
14) Sky diving
15) Swimming in the ocean
16) My Italian roots
17) Martinis in a bag!
18) Piggy back rides on the Vegas Strip
19) Lounging on the beach at Hilton Head
20) Being able to give back

“Being grateful is a good way to end your day. Not in a repressive way, more like a celebration. To life. To the living.”               ~Unknown

21) My time at Kent State University
22) Things that make me laugh
23) Hiking in Hocking Hills State Park
24) Sports, every last one of them
25) Books and books and books…
26) Casablanca on the big screen
27) Catching an Aeros game at Canal Park
28) My love of the outdoors
29) Maya Angelou for speaking her mind
30) Elvis for changing music forever

31) The Bible
32) Dropping out of the corporate rat race
33) Running through Hardesty Park
34) Watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve
35) Experiencing and participating in the Pay It Forward experience
36) On Writing by Stephen King (what a mind!)
37) Religious freedom
38) A steaming hot caramel latte
39) Sitting by my fireplace watching the flames
40) All the little princesses & monsters at my door on Halloween

41) That Garth Brooks concert so many years ago…
42) Kind words and well wishes
43) Watching the *famous* sunset in Naples, FL
44) God’s incredible grace
45) Turtle soup
46) Homeless shelters, especially Haven of Rest & ACCESS, who help people get back on their feet
47) Evernote for capturing my random thoughts no matter where I am
48) Lounging on my back patio while listening to my water feature and nature
49) The Ten Commandments
50)  Michael J. Fox for his courage and bringing much needed attention to a great cause

There’s my 50… what are yours? I would love to hear from you! This is a great exercise to remember everything good that you have in your life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Moms out there!
Jaime

Need an Idea? Just Walk Away…

Are you trying to come up with a creative idea that’s eluding you? Whether it’s a great idea for an article, the basis for a new campaign or some way to improve a current situation, it can be frustrating to come up with nothing. But don’t let frustration get the best of you! Following are some tips on inspiring some creativity in your life:

–> As the title of this post implies, walk away! Sometimes the best ideas come to us when we’re doing something completely unrelated to the task at hand. Go see a movie, spend time with family or friends or have fun with a hobby you enjoy.

–> Have a brainstorming session. No, you shouldn’t have left these powerful pow-wows behind in college. Write down every idea; nothing is too silly or worth skipping over. Giant sticky notes to stick to walls are great, but that could just be my affinity for sticky notes. If you don’t have anyone near to bounce ideas off of, take advantage of social media. Hold a chat on Twitter (use a hash tag to follow your conversation) or take advantage of the group capabilities on Google+.

–>Get physical. Go for a walk, run or bike ride, even for a short duration. Stuck at work? Take a walk up and down the stairs or around the parking lot. Physical activity engages our brains and can help the juices flow.

–> Write it down. Yes, I can be old fashioned when it comes to certain things. However, paper still serves a purpose in this digital age. The power of putting pen (or pencil, crayon or marker) to paper can do wonders compared to being overwhelmed by a blinking cursor on a blank screen.

–> Embrace failure. Creative people aren’t necessarily geniuses; they just keep trying. Most great inventions came after thousands upon thousands of failures. To keep this in mind, remember this great quote. “Accept failure. Enjoy it, even. Embrace the suck, for the suck is part of the process.” –A.J. Jacobs

–> Look at the challenge from a different point of view — literally or figuratively. Sit on the floor or look out your window. Ask yourself how others view the situation. Remember, there’s at least two sides to every issue.

I hope one or more of these tips help you the next time you’re in a creative bind. Or do you have a tried-and-true solution that you turn to when the creative wheels are stuck? If so, I’d love to hear it! Please let me know in the comments section. I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas!

Cheers,
Jaime

Who are you talking to?

Determining your target audience can make or break your campaign or message. Basically, who are you talking to? By narrowing down your target audience, you will save money, resources and receive a higher ROI (return on investment).

For example, direct mail can be a great way to break through the clutter of advertising today. A clear message, effective graphics and personalization can all help your marketing piece hit home. However, it won’t do much good if you send your message to recipients who won’t be interested or have no use for your product or service. Also, you’ll end up spending more money than necessary, receiving a low ROI and wasting materials.

A prime example –> I received a direct mail piece from a cable/phone/Internet provider advertising a great rate for new subscribers. The problem? I was already a subscriber, and therefore, not eligible for the rate. Not only did the company waste money, paper and ink, they irritated a good customer. The special rate was well below what I was paying for the same services.

So when you’re planning a new marketing message or campaign, stop and think about who you’re talking to.

–Who is most likely to be interested or have a need for your products or services?
–What is the best way (or ways) to reach this audience?
–What type of message will cause this audience to respond?
–What’s the best call to action for the crowd you’re targeting?

Narrow your focus to the right target audience, and your message is more likely to get through.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Cheers,
Jaime

An Introduction

Thanks for visiting my blog! It’s a pleasure to meet you virtually, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you and your business in more detail. I hope that you find my little online haven a great place to pick up valuable marketing tips, from communicating clearly to event planning and more. If you have any questions, please ask!

First, an introduction. I’m Jaime Shine, Owner of Clearly Conveyed Communications, and a creative and multitalented marketing consultant with valuable experience in event planning and writing for various platforms and audiences. I love utilizing strong written and verbal communication to maximize the impact of your message. Market research, brainstorming, strategizing and planning are all pieces of the puzzle too.

See, while most kids were playing with blocks or dolls, I was publishing magazines and newspapers – feature articles, ads, sports box scores, the whole nine yards. From promotions director to advertising roles to branding projects, I’ve always been interested in all forms of marketing. That interest blossomed into a career path and led me to open my own business, which has always been a dream of mine.

Yes, I’m a dreamer. Hence the head in the clouds blog name. I’m a big believer that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to and work hard enough for. What are your dreams? For your business? For yourself? I’m hoping that I can help you achieve those dreams by delving into my marketing-focused mind and offering some insight. From innovative ideas to clear, creative copy to successful strategies and more, I’m ready to help you move forward.

Until next time,
Jaime

%d bloggers like this: