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Develop Your Campaign Strategies using QR Codes and MS Tags

We discussed some of the basics regarding QR Codes and MS Tags, so let’s think about our QR code campaign strategy.

To create a winning QR code campaign, it is essential to(i) identify with your target audience; (ii) have clear purposes; (iii) and above all else provide incentives to convey a favorable user experience.  First let’s keep in mind the bigger picture and keep it simple for starters… Communication – There’s no boundary to how, or even how much, you can share with QR codes or MS Tags.  A video, squeeze page, or landing page is easily shared and common. You could go further and share an entire eBook and even multiple pieces of content that share a common link, or pay with PayPal.

QR code “Like” button JJ Duling International, Inc. Facebook page.

Your Social Network is build through communication and sharing, and one of the favorite places for doing this is Facebook.  You can use Likify to create a QR code that links your mobile device to a fully functioning LIKE button for your Facebook page.

This really makes the process of assimilation your other communities with your Facebook page much easier since it is all accomplished in one click.  The “thumbs-up Like” signature clearly suggests the purpose of the code.

Every website should have a call to action, a response you want users to complete.  After building a social network, the next logical step is to rally them to take action.   Do you want users to complete a contact form, signup for a newsletter, opt in for a free eBook, or volunteering their time?  Whatever are you trying to accomplish, the call to action is key.  Below you can combine your Like code and direct them to an opt-in /Like page to build your list.

The QR code above takes visitors to a Facebook page welcome tab where the calls to action are Liking the page and a List Registration opt-in below.

The QR code above takes visitors to a Facebook page welcome tab where the calls to action are Liking the page and a List Registration opt-in below.

Here are some ideas and considerations to help you get started building your strategy.

Prepare and map your QR or MS Tag strategy.

Identify with Your Target Audience:

  • Will consumers have to change their behavior to accommodate QR codes, or is it part of their journey?
  • Does your audience need instructions about the use of QR or MS Tag codes?
  • Does your audience need to use a specific type of code reader?
  • Where will the codes be scanned…i.e. indoors, dark (restaurant) or light room or outside, is there an internet connection?
  • Will this alienate consumers who are not digital-savvy / do not have smart-phones?
  • You can also get an easy to memorize short URL from bitly or other traffic tracking URL shortening tools
  •  Does the content you are linking to ADD VALUE to the customer?

Have Clear Objectives—Here are some possibilities:

  • Cultivate your social network
  • Grow your email list
  • Increase Likes for your Facebook page
  • Increase your blog subscribers
  • Grow you subscription site
  • Improving customer communications

Provide Incentives—Here are some options:

  • Download a free eBook or MP3
  • Offer a discount for paying with QR Code
  • Contest- enter to win different prizes
  • Provide a discount coupon for a service, meal, or subscriber
  • Talk to a live agent
  • Provide a virtual tour
  • Use a Video to demonstrate a product or service
  • Provide Special access to a certain area…i.e. Training

You should always provide an incentive, if you are attempting to improve your email list or your Facebook LIKES.  The one thing your strategy needs is for you to understand that the person scanning the code expects something more.

You can, but don’t send them to your website. You can, but don’t just send them to your Facebook page. Send them to the next step in something grand.  Send the user to insightful informational content about the product in question or the company itself.

Have a code on your menu? Send them to a list of exclusive recipes. Have a code on your business card? Send them to a video that explains the benefits you get from signing up for the company e-newsletter, and then have a link there to let them opt in to receive it. Have Tags implemented on caps or table toppers? Send the user to informative content about the product in question or the company itself.

If businesses fail to deliver value with their QR code campaigns, consumers in general will become bored with them and more reluctant to scan them in the future. This will make it increasingly necessary to provide clear incentives and deliver on them.

Produce quality codes and make sure they work

While there are a variety of 2D code formats, we have mentioned the two most commonly used worldwide; QR codes and Microsoft (MS) tags. Both of these technologies are free, your selection of which to use will largely depend upon your audience and other market factors.

The QR code technology is free to use. This gives QR codes the benefit of being in the majority with regard to use around the world, and that familiarity is currently working to their advantage.

The MS tag technology is proprietary, which provides for absolute control over the entire user experience of generating, reading and tracking the tags. MS tags are also easily tailored and customized. One can embed images or logos into the codes using a number of options like Photo Shop or Microsoft PowerPoint.  See my logo.

As you would expect the widespread application and use of the QR technology has attracted lots of developers who want to cash in on the trend. Bear in mind, when technologies are open like this, there is always the risk that generally accepted standards will not be followed. QR code generators and scanners are only as good as the developers creating them, so you have to do your homework. If your QR codes don’t work, your reputation and brand are damaged.

Here are some fundamentals that will maximize your success with QR codes and MS Tags:

  • Make sure your QR code is not too complex and contains too much information.  If your code is complex it will generate comparatively smaller pixels and many QR scanners on lower quality smart-phones may not be able to read it properly.
  • Test your QR code to see whether it is working properly using various QR Code readers and on various devices and also make sure it can be tracked in your web analytics tool…
    • If you are using coupon codes, make sure they are properly working.
    • If you are pushing the QR scanner to a specific URL, make sure the URL is properly working.
  • Use link shorteners to create clean codes.
  • Avoid using colors that do not provide sufficient contrast—a potential problem with both QR codes and customized MS tags.
  • Make your codes at least 1″ x 1″—larger is better.
  • Provide a sufficient white space around the code.
  • Steer clear of using 2D codes on highly reflective surfaces.
  • Consider where your codes will be scanned.  Is there is an Internet connection.
  • Use a quality QR code generator. My favorites are ZXing Project and BeQRious. Another that has worked well for me is Kaywa, a site created by Datamatrix.  You can use these enhanced generators to create QR codes that link to a web page, text, phone numbers, or SMS.  One with even greater capabilities, including customizing the color and format of your codes is Kerem Erkan.
  • Use a quality scanner or reader. Some excellent choices are QR Reader for iPhone, QR Scanner, Qrafter and i-nigma. Qrafter is unique in that it is both a code generator and scanner in one app. The QR code reader app that works well on my iPhone is the i-nigma.  It accommodates virtually any type of camera phone. For the android, you can also try Barcode Scanner. If you already own the popular price-checking app Red Laser, they’ve recently adapted their technology to accommodate QR code reading.

Make sure your codes are Linked to mobile-friendly or mobile-optimized sites

One of the more common mistake marketers make with QR codes  and MS Tags is having them resolve to a standard web page that is not mobile-friendly. You must take into account the video format of the site.  You cannot have a code connect to a site with Flash video, which is not supported by the iOS devices (iPhones and iPads) that account for a majority of the code readers in the world.

Mobile-optimized is better than mobile-friendly.  When building a mobile site:

  • Build your site around the desired user experience. Remember to put all the most important information that you want mobile users to see on the top of the page like site search and navigation. It can be time consuming to browse through a mobile site, not to mention tedious to read through. Make your mobile site design convenient for your consumers.
  • Smaller images and solid colors load more quickly. The phrase “less is more” holds true to mobile design. Avoid using unnecessary graphics.
  • Keep download time in mind.  Avoid background images… they can reduce readability in certain lighting conditions. Combine smaller images, like icons, into one file and use CSS to position them on the page. This reduces the number of http requests your device has to make. Lastly, reduce size of images and minify JavaScript.
  • Design for fingers. Click targets should be a minimum of 30-40px in size and use whitespace in between elements to ease click-ability. Size your links and buttons to be touch-friendly.
  • It is easiest if your site is coded using either XML or XHTML, with your character encoding set at UTF-8.
  • Use succinct copy—sentences rather than paragraphs.
  • You have to consider that different mobile devices have different screen sizes. Design and build with a “fluid” layout in mind.
  • Test, test and test again—on iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms. Your site must use CSS for the layout to ensure maximum compatibility. Avoid using tables.
  • Forms can be difficult to use on a mobile device. Since text is time consuming to enter, you may want to offer your user the convenience of radio buttons and lists, which they can choose from depending on what they need. Also, reduce the number of screens a user passes through to complete a form. Form labels should be top aligned rather than left aligned to save space.
  • Forms should require the minimum amount of data input and should remember the data for the next time a user visits the site.

The principal benefit of 2D codes is encouraging action. This can be accomplished by connecting to multimedia content such as video that shows a product or service in action. Other logical actions include activating a phone call or social sharing.

Here’s a list of the most requested features for mobile-optimized sites:

  • Social sharing links.
  • Google maps integration.
  • Tap to bookmark.
  • Tap to call links.
  • Tap to email links.
  • Tap to SMS (text).
  • Links to other mobile-optimized sites like Yelp, Youtube, and Vimeo.

If you are not ready to mobilize your site, there are services available to do that.  DudaMobile is one I have not used, but have heard good reports.  If you are using WordPress, there are some Plugins that do most of the work and provide a great experience.

Measure your campaign-Analyze and examine your scan data with code management systems

The success of the QR code campaign will not only depend on the number of scans it accomplished daily, but worth more while making an user spent some time interacting with your website which helps engaging with the business.  QR codes and MS tags can presently track basic data. However, if you use a QR code management system, you can gather even richer data. These are all in the early stages of their development cycle. Most of these services are free for limited used. According to Microsoft, “MS tags have the capability to accurately determine the location of a scan and report that data in real time.” This sets up a number of code management prospects, such as delivering diverse content depending upon the location of the scan.  One could provide directions to the store or a discount coupon for those in or near the store. It also can be helpful in advertising through online portals, social media, etc. to make a successive campaign. If the number of scans drops, it will be an indication for reduced user experience.

The Consumer Experience Is Ultimately What Matters- Provide value and a positive user experience

QR Codes and MS Tags are just tools, and how you use the tool determines the value derived from it. What is most germane is that you as the marketer are the one who gives your codes value. Provide clear incentives and deliver on them.

QR codes and MS Tags can serve many specific uses for you.  The most prominent would be as a lead generation tool. You don’t have to necessarily replace your current lead generation programs; you can often just modify them. If you can use what is working for you now and make it even better, you are likely on the right track.   If you can identify tangential opportunities and make it more attractive or easier with QR codes or MS Tags, you are likely speeding down the right track. One of the fundamental rules of marketing is you have to meet your customers where they are, and customers today are ever increasingly mobile. A successful mobile marketing strategy using QR codes or MS Tags will place your business there in real time.

Precisely.

Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with

 

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QR Codes and MS Tags=Successful Mobile Marketing

QR Code for Home Page

In October, we posted an article “QR Codes- a big deal? Precisely.” which was a general introduction to QR codes.  If you’re not yet familiar with QR codes, they’re similar to the barcodes used by retailers to track inventory and price products at the point of sale. The key difference between the two is the amount of data they can hold or share.   Here is the QR code to Precise Strategy Homepage:

While QR codes are still considered an innovation here in the United States, they’ve been actively used for over a decade in Japan where they were invented.  QR is a registered trademark of Denso Wave, which is a subsidiary of Toyota.  The reason for their widespread use is that Denso Wave has elected not to exercise their patent rights of QR.

There are several other software companies that have created 2D type codes that work much like QR codes.  Of course Microsoft is likely the most noteworthy.  Microsoft developed their own proprietary software to create codes known as MS tags.  However, unlike QR codes, which can be read by a number of different readers, MS tags can only be read by the Microsoft Tag Reader.  Here is the same example as a Microsoft Tag.

MS Tag for Home Page

Whether you choose to use QR codes or MS tags is a really an individual choice.  It looks as if MS tags presently allow for more possibilities for creative graphic designs, such as incorporating images and logos into the tag.  Nevertheless, those capabilities have to be weighed against the reach and ease of use of open-source QR codes.

These QR and other two-dimensional (2D) codes can be quickly integrated into your business marketing practices to carry your online content to a mobile audience in real time.  Have a look at the video below to refresh your memory regarding some uses and history.

 

Video

Although we discussed this at some length in our previous article, let’s review some ways for using QR codes that are mostly in practice now.

What can you use QR or MS Tags for…

  • Share your business URL to take users directly to your site
  • Valuable coupons and special offers
  • Recommendations for complementary products and services
  • Link to social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Namesake, Foursquare etc
  • Newspaper/Magazine Articles: Making your voice heard and allowing comments in print media is a hard task. However, at the end of each article in newspaper and magazine, you can print the QR code to make them go to the URL of the article and help them to make comments on the online article and make them more engaging.
  • Newspaper/Magazine Articles:  If your are  advertising in a newspaper or magazine, wouldn’t it be nice if you can show your newspaper audience a video advert in your mobile website? You can do this with QR Codes.
  • Installation instructions
  • Customer feedback forms
  • Send out v-cards
  • Share assets – images, videos, other media
  • Sources for replacement parts and service
  • Share your address for instant directions
    The process for hiring your professional services
  • Free mp3 downloads
  • Accept Paypal payments

I’d be here all day if I listed all the uses that come to mind. There are so many creative ways to use these it’s ridiculous other than the cut and dry ones I mentioned above. Use your creativity in making your print media audience visit your site.

Where you can use QR or MS Tags…

  • Convention and event nametags
  • Restaurant menus for coupons
  • Event ticket stubs
  • Billboard: You can direct people to a site or shop via QR Code on a billboard…make sure it is not on an expressway.
  • The back (or front and back) of your business card 
  • Newspaper/Magazine Ads
  • Various other print media
  • Your brochures and other marketing materials
  • The sides of trucks and trailers
  • T-Shirts and Promotional Souvenirs
  • Product tags and packaging
  • Point-of-sale receipts.

How you can you maximize your success with QR or MA Tags…

  • Alleviate the fears of the non-technical
  • Give reasons to come back
  • Test modifying the size, location, and color of your QR codes
  • If you are using coupon codes, make sure they are properly working
  • Study your analytics
  • Test your QR code to see whether it is working properly using various QR Code readers and on various devices and also make sure it can be tracked in your web analytics tool.
  • Provide explanations about their use and benefits
  • Encourage actions that support your marketing plan
  • Make the process fun, such as a games
  • Test and experiment with different programs and split tests…be creative.

The possibilities for QR Codes and Tags are unlimited.  I think we can certainly predict that the current social media experience will be enhanced. The subsequently generation of barcodes will hold yet more information, so much information that an Internet connection will not even be needed.  The content will be for practical purposes embedded in the code.  It’s really incredible to consider where this can go.

In the next post we will talk about ideas to help you get started building your QR code  or MS Tag strategy and look at a couple of applications.

Precisely.

Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with

 

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Halt the Fault Assault

The fault-assaltJohn had a partner in business who took advantage of their relationship and embezzled money from his firm and other investors. He was caught and convicted. However, John and the investors determined to drop the charges if he agreed to repay the money. This allowed both men to gain freedom from a wrong committed.

In business and life the opportunity to harbor bitterness for a wrong suffered is vast. I have and I am sure you have been are given plenty of opportunities to grow bitter from relationships that bring hurt and pain.  It can be a business clash or a personal relationship that goes sour.  The enemy of our souls has a very specific strategy to destroy relationships. Whether these relationships are in business, marriage, or friendships, the strategy is the same. A disagreement arises, conclusions are drawn, judgment is passed, and feelings are hurt. What happens next is the defining point of whether the enemy gains a foothold, or the grace of God covers the wrong.

The author of the Hebrews passage “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15) cautions us not to miss the grace of God. He admonishes us not to take up bitterness as a response to life’s pain. He warns us against this because he knows that a bitter root grows and matures until it ultimately defiles many others. It not only affects that person, but it also affects all others who are involved. It is like a spreading cancer. If bitterness is allowed to take root, we become bound by it and imprisoned to it. God’s grace will no longer have as notable an effect in our lives. We become unproductive, unfeeling, and spiritually dead. We can even become physically ill from it. God does not live in bitterness. He lives in grace. He has provided grace for every person to walk in.

There was a time when I was challenged to deal with an individual who hurt me horribly. I was faced with a decision. Would I choose bitterness or would I choose grace? Oh, how my natural tendency wanted to choose bitterness and revenge. I recalled a time when I was the recipient of grace I did not deserve from another.  I recalled the grace God had afforded me.  And over time, God provided the courage to choose grace. With that grace came freedom – a freedom to love and even accept the person who was the source of such pain.

This is the real place where Christ’s power is most revealed. Forgiveness and grace cannot happen when either party “feels” like it, for none of us will ever feel like forgiving. It is simply a choice we make.  It is only our obedience that allows God’s grace to cover the wrongs suffered. This grace prevents those involved from becoming victims. We cannot live without His supernatural grace. If we want to be used in a great way by God, we must be willing to forgive those who may be a great source a pain in our lives.

Choose grace instead of bitterness. Then you will be free to move past the hurt, and a root of bitterness will not be given opportunity to grow. Is there someone who needs your forgiveness today? Are you in need of grace today? It is there for the receiving. It will take courage to accept it and walk in it. This will be your step to freedom.

Precisely.

Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with

 

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Take a Special Interest in Pinterest

So in the last post we talked about setting up your Pinterest account and getting started.  We also mentioned that Pinterest is not only flourishing in social media circles, it is fast becoming a proven source of traffic for blogs and websites and possibly outstripping current favorites.

While many are talking about the impressive statistics of Pinterest, under the radar some small businesses and even larger companies are using this new tool to pin their way to better customer engagement and creating a visually appealing brand.  We have already mentioned a few general reasons:  Networking: Your Pinterest profile is yet another chance for you to promote your blog, product, or URL. This is no different than any social network or forum.  Finding images to use: Pinterest can be a great source of pictures for your posts. Just remember to track down the owner of the image and get their permission to use it first. Bookmarking: Pinterest is being used as a bookmarking tool. Your blog’s header or web address can be pinned by some people as way of noting places they like to visit much the same as a favorites file. Drive traffic: People will see images from your blog or website on Pinterest, and then click through for more information. Promote products: If you sell products or eBooks via your blog or website then you can “pin” them to Pinterest for extra promotion. However, like Facebook and Twitter, you should not use Pinterest as purely a self-promotional tool.

Let’s dig a little deeper and take a more comprehensive look at including Pinterest as part of your content marketing plan.

When starting off:

  • Feature your business/brand name on your profile to increase exposure. Use your business name as your username, or change your profile name to your business name after your profile is set up.   Don’t forget to add your website URL in your profile.
  • In the “About” section on your Pinterest profile, be sure to add a paragraph about who you are and what you’re interested It will show up right under your photo, and again give you increased exposure.
  • It will help you gain followers if you “Connect” your Pinterest account with your Facebook and Twitter accounts. This “Connecting” will it help you increase followers and by making this connection you will automatically add social media icons under your profile picture that link to your Facebook and Twitter profiles.
  • Incorporate your Pinterest account with Facebook’s timeline feature, so you post content in both places at once.

Take action:

  • Come up with original and interesting board names. They get shared whenever you pin something, so make them appealing. You need to keep your board names short, there isn’t enough room for lengthy descriptive titles.
  • Pin plenty of stuff. Pin content regularly, instead of in spurts, this will tend to maximize your exposure and engagement.
  • “Like” other people’s “pins” to give an affirmation when you want to recognize great content.
  • Comment on other people’s “pins”. This feature hasn’t really caught on yet, so use it regularly to really connect with other users. As I mentioned before regarding etiquette, use good manners and common sense just like you would when commenting on a blog or other social media site.
  • Just like with commenting, not many people are using Tagging yet. Tag other Pinterest users in your “pins” by using “@username” in your descriptions. This facilitates networking with other professionals and vendors in your field and it’s a great way to build your following and stand out.
  • Variety is important on Pinterest, so pin from lots of different sources, instead of just from one or two sites.

Pinning hints:

  • Pin your own blog posts, but don’t over-promote. Follow the common etiquette rules of any other social media site, and don’t be the impolite one at the party who only talks about himself.
  • When you pin an image, add a description under it.  If the image is something from your own site, categorically use your business name in the description.  Be clever about these descriptions… a good description will stay with an image as it gets “repinned” all over the Pinterest world. “Repinning,” is repeating someone else’s pin to your followers. This is just like a Retweet on Twitter.
  • Combine pinning your own unique finds with doing lots of “repinning.” The person whose image you “repin” is notified via email, and they also get a credit on your pin, which boosts their following.
  • Pin a new image using the Pin It Button (see last post or go to Pinterest browser bookmarklet). The neat feature here is you can use its built-in social media prompts to re-share your pin on Facebook and Twitter.
  • In that connection, you can use Pinterest’s embed option to publish “pins” as content in your blog posts and website pages. Since Pinterest is still new, you may need to tell your users that they need to click on a Pinterest image to get to the original source.
  • If it is applicable, you should create seasonal or holiday boards that relate to your brand. As an illustration: New Year’s Resolutions, Fourth of July, etc. are popular with social site users.
  • Want to distinguish yourself? Pin videos! Pinterest has a particular section just for pinned videos, and there are far fewer videos than images on Pinterest at this point. Any YouTube video is easy to pin.
  • If you are promoting products or services, add prices to your “pins”. To add a price to a pin, just type the $ or £ symbol followed by item’s price in the pin’s description. You have just created your own Pinterest shop. A side benefit is that when you add prices to your “pins”, they may be featured in Pinterest’s “Gifts” section.

Do some Research:

  • Click on the “Popular” link on your Pinterest home page to research what’s catching on with pinners, then include those trends in your content strategy.
  • Search for new images to pin (or again for trends) by using Pinterest’s search function. The search bar is in the top left of every Pinterest page.
  • If you want to find out who’s been pinning your stuff you can Go to: http://pinterest.com/source/yoursitehere.   Check your site’s page often to discover which posts and images are catching on with Pinterest users, and you can use that information to form your content strategy.
  • If you are a bit more sophisticated you might want to find out when you’re getting the most “repins”, likes, comments and referral traffic by regularly analyzing both your Pinterest profile and your site traffic stats.  Do a spit test or test out pinning on different days of the week and times of day to maximize traffic and audience engagement.
  • Check out your major clients’ boards to get ideas for special thank you or holiday gifts.

Promote:

  • Be sure to get the Pinterest iPhone app. Just like with Facebook and Twitter so you can “repin” on the move, pin from your camera and add a location to your “pins” so others can find your images.
  • Include a Follow Me on Pinterest button to your website to advertise that you’re a pinner.
  • Use images in every single post you write, in this way your posts can be shared on Pinterest. This is vital for bloggers as well.  Keep in mind if you don’t use an image in your post no one will pin it. And remember — the more attractive the picture is, the more it will get pinned. When choosing your images, keep them powerful, emotive, and poignant – these are the  images that appeal to Pinterest members.
  • Review your blog archives and add photos to those text-only posts.
  • If you’re using your own images on Pinterest, one of the best ways to help your image stand out is adding text to them.  Add a clear description to the image itself.  You can also add a watermark with your business name or logo. Make sure it’s clear and it doesn’t block out the main subject of the photo.
  • If you have a WordPress site, you can highlight your recent “pins” in a widget in your WordPress sidebar by using a Pinterest widget.
  • Use keywords in descriptions of “pins”, so pinners can find your images and boards when they do their own searches.
  • Add a Pin It! button added to the footer of each of your blog posts so your readers can quickly and easily share your content on Pinterest.
  • RSS Feed. Your Pinterest page has its own RSS feed.  You can find your Pinterest feed by clicking on the RSS symbol under your profile photo, then use it anywhere you can use a feed (Facebook, LinkedIn, for syndication on other sites, etc.) Publicize your Pinterest feed to your readers and ask them to add you to their RSS feedreaders.
  • Just as you would do with your Blog you need to become an information keeper for your niche. Gather the most recent and top resources on your boards. Become am expert and trusted source of information on Pinterest — your following will grow precipitately.
  • Bring to light old content on your blog so that people can “repin” your archived posts. Use the LinkWithin tool to add a footer to your blog posts that features images and links pulled from old content.  This will give your fellow pinners the opportunity to pin previous articles.
  • Create “pins” that give special promotions for following you on Pinterest.
  • Organize a Pinterest contest. Invite your readers to pin images from your site that have been most beneficial or motivating to them. Offer a meaningful prize from your product portfolio and offer to promote the winners’ Pinterest boards on your site..
  • Create coupons, and add them to your boards.

Board concepts:

  • Create a board that tells the story of your company or brand and communicates your core values. This can be made available to people as part of your sales process.
  • Pin tutorials on your boards. See #7 under Hints… Pin your videos and presentations on special “How-To” or “Tutorial” boards. This can be very effective if you need to walk a client through how to use your products or services.  You can create free how-to videos to use as promotional materials or really anything you may want to teach your clients can be made into a tutorial.
  • Create Pinterest boards to tell client stories. Spin uninteresting written case studies into powerful visual stories.
  • If you are a products provider, create quick-start guides or owner’s manual boards for your products. If you’re primarily a service provider, create a “How to take full advantage of Working with Us” board with thoughts and ideas on get the most out of your service relationship.
  • Think about creating “thank you” boards for clients. You could create a thank you board that observes the launch of a new client’s large project with your company, or a product launch of your own.
  • Creating a dedicated testimonials board can showcase how grand your business really is.
  • Create a distinctive board to draw attention to some of your company’s team members or a select department. Use the description under each photo to write a bio of each person.
  • Create a unique board showing behind-the-scenes photos of your company. Demonstrate a process…people love understanding how you make things or why you are passionate about your product.
  • Create moderated boards for your pin fans or clients to express their support for you. Allow and encourage them to add videos, blog posts and photos from your events.
  • Create unique boards just for your premier clients that include resources and ideas tailored to their individual situations. This will really make your company stand out if done regularly and properly.
  • Construct boards for referral sources, affiliates and strategic partners, and let them add to the boards. Connect with your partners let them know they are appreciated.
  • Produce boards for seminars and conferences that you or your team attends. Add instructions to business cards on getting invited to post on that board, or add it to your website if you use QR Codes, the conference attendees will like this.
  • If you promote products or services via webinars you can create boards for the webinars you teach, and use them as supplemental or follow up material for your attendees.

Pinterest does seem like a natural place to promote your small business, but I will remind you again to do so with caution. It’s frowned upon to spam your Boards with nothing but your own products, services, or projects. That certainly doesn’t mean it’s prohibited, but you need to contribute more to the community if you want to stay in its good favor. Use this opportunity to build your brand by linking and connecting to people who share similar interest and related styles, or by pinning images that inspire your company’s work. You can use Pinterest for self-promotion, use some of the ideas above and just do so creatively.

Precisely.

Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with

 

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A Vested Interest in Pinterest?

Pinterest is a vision board-styled social photo sharing website for social visual bookmarking that you share with others.  Users create online picture collages and can effortlessly share those “pinboards” with other users.  It’s a grand way to create and manage theme-based image collections.

You can keep track of all those things you’ve wanted to try, a splendid way to share things you like, catalogue places you have been, and a great way to discover new and inspiring ideas. It is a relatively new social networking site, but it is catching on quickly and spreading rapidly.  If you have not heard a lot about Pinterest over the last few months then let me share.  Not only has the company received $27 million in venture funds, but the site’s popularity has exploded from 1.2 million users in August to over 11 million unique visitors today. The image-based the site at first seems a bit touchy-feely.  I would not let that fool you, it will quickly become yet another tool for your business and brand. 

But first some basics….

Request Your Invite.  Pinterest has taken a similar Google+ initial approach to get people interested in the site – you have to be invited to participate. You can request an invitation right on the site, but it can take some time before you will get one. If you have a friend who is already on Pinterest, ask them to send you one. You can also ask for Pinterest invites via twitter and Facebook and someone is always willing to help out. The brilliance in this plan is simple.   Requiring people to secure an invite is just a great way to spread the word about the site.

Set Up and Login to Your Account.  There are several ways. You can sign in using your current Facebook account or Twitter account. The advantage of using one of those social media accounts to sign in, is that you can find people on Pinterest that you presently interact with via those other sites. You also can log in to Pinterest using the email and password you establish when setting up your account.  Keep in mind, that if you are on Facebook, they will encourage you to use Timeline.

When signing up, you will be encouraged to create some boards. Pinterest suggests a few basic boards with titles. You can accept those and then edit them later on.  If you want to edit them at this point, just go ahead and change the names to topics you think you might be more interested in.

Find Friends and make Connections.  Your Pinterest experience will be completely formed by who you follow. You will see “pins” from the people you choose to follow and so they will create the content of the site. Then you can refine your own interests as you explore and become more at ease. When you create your account, you might be automatically following others from the social network you used to sign in. You can also choose to “unfollowed” anyone if they “repin” links and images that might not reflect your appropriate values.

You can use the Find Friends drop down to help you find people you might already know or to invite them.  Once you have a few friends to follow, explore their “pinboards” and see if you can find anyone else who looks familiar or interesting. You can always unfollow them later on.

Create Boards.  It’s time to create your own “pinboards” and start pinning.  Some chose not to “repin” and just use Pinterest to follow others. That is perfectly fine, but it’s even more enjoyable and market savvy when you get involved. You can like “pins” which is the same as adding them to a “favorites” file. If you “repin” them, you will want to arrange the “pins” into boards. After browsing through a few “pinboards” from friends, you will probably have a pretty good idea of what topics you want to focus on. You can always rename and rearrange, or delete your “pinboards” so no need to worry too much about getting them perfect.

Here’s an example of some boards:

It’s also useful to be sure each board is categorized properly – this helps others find your “pins”. Just click on “edit” for each board and select the most appropriate category.

Begin Pinning.   The easiest thing to do on Pinterest is to “repin” something that is already there. As you are browsing on Pinterest, find the image of photos on a wall that you want to “repin” to your own boards. Once you find them, hover over the picture with your mouse, the option appears to either “repin” or “like” it. Choose “repin” and it prompts you to categorize it to one of your boards. In the example below, I will simply choose Places and click on “repin”.  Once it is pinned you can also automatically share this pin by email or on Twitter or Facebook by clicking on the picture and choosing how to share it from the buttons on the left.

If you want to pin something you find on another site or you can upload an image from your computer.  Go to “add a pin” and then enter the address (URL) and description.  The easiest way is to just add the Pin It button by dragging the “pin it” link to your browser toolbar.  This is easy, just follow these instructions regarding installing the bookmarklet (it’s basically a matter of dragging and dropping the bookmarklet to your toolbar). Then, you surf the web, find an image you like, click the “Pin It” bookmarklet.   When you do that a box with all the images on that page will pop up and you then select which ones you want to add to your boards.

I use the Pin It button from the browser all the time. When I’m reading through articles, I use this tool to add “pins” as I find ideas and concepts that I want to set aside.

Etiquette.  Since Pinterest is still a fairly new, the etiquette is still developing. It’s just clever to follow good general guidelines that would apply to any social site. You should steer clears of too much self-promotion, post polite and kind comments, do not infringe on copyrights, and give credit to the original sources.  “Pins” are intended to be shared on Pinterest, but infrequently, someone might request a “pin” removed because of a copyright issue. If you want to share the “pins” you find outside of Pinterest, use the tools provided to share on Facebook or Twitter. You can also embed the image on a blog using the embed tool Pinterest provides. In this way the credits and source of the pin will remain intact.

Here are some Pinterest links to check out:

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with just pinning pictures of cool stuff all day, Pinterest can be a really valuable tool for people with a precise purpose in mind. For instance, a bride-to-be can replaced bulky binder wedding planners with the simplicity and portability of a Pinterest account. Artists will certainly use it to organize inspiring images for their work. You might create a Board for each room in the house and then pin decorating ideas for each room. If you like to cook, it is a grand place to keep an online recipe box. From a business perspective, Boards can have multiple contributors, so collaborating with co-workers on a project is easy with everyone’s ideas and insight in one place.

So now you have your Pinterest account.  Pinterest has nearly five million users, and is rapidly growing.  You can do the math; almost 1.5 million unique users visit Pinterest daily, spending an average of 15 minutes a day on the site.

If you assume those inspirational image boards are just fun and attractive and don’t result in referral traffic to websites and blogs? Think again. Just this last month, Pinterest pushed more traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, Reddit, and Youtube combined.

Quickly, (must save some for the next post) here are some basic reasons you might want to consider adding Pinterest to your social strategy….

Networking. Your Pinterest profile is yet another chance for you to promote your blog, product, or URL. This is no different than any social network or forum.

Finding images to use. Pinterest can be a great source of pictures for your posts. Just remember to track down the owner of the image and get their permission to use it first.

Bookmarking. Pinterest is being used as a bookmarking tool. Your blog’s header or web address can be pinned by some people as way of noting places they like to visit much the same as a favorites file.

Drive traffic. People will see images from your blog or website on Pinterest, and then click through for more information.

Promote products. If you sell products or eBooks via your blog or website then you can “pin” them to Pinterest for extra promotion. However, like Facebook and Twitter, you should not use Pinterest as purely a self-promotional tool.

So coming up….I’ve been considering how existing users are utilizing Pinterest to grow their businesses and connect with their customers and clients using these tempting online boards.  Stay Tuned….

Precisely.

Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with

 

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Social Failure?

There are many factors that limit the effectiveness of a social media website presence.  Here are my “top ten” reasons that advertising and promoting on social networking sites just might fail.

1. Not enough Activity:

The biggest reason marketing on public social networking websites provides frustrating results comes down to one easy thing: absence of action.  A lot of individuals carry the incorrect impression that all one needs to do is sign up for a public social networking site, and the floodgates of self-promotion will open wide. But nothing could be further from the truth! You must be active on your social networking site in order to get noticed and attract attention to anything you may be marketing. Otherwise, the site’s members will have little or no information about you, which will render your exposure all but non-existent. The best way to prevent this problem is to simply take the time to log in each and every day, and take advantage of the site features by searching for individuals, subjects, or articles that you like. Additionally, it’s essential to publish up-dates about yourself as often as you can. This practice ensures that you maintain a level of awareness and interest about you among the site’s members. By staying lively, you increase attention and interest in you, right along with knowledge about the product, service or idea you are marketing. Be active and involved, or risk being invisible!

2. No Details about You:

When you sign up for a public social networking site, take plenty of a time to fill out the details about yourself. Making the effort to do this instantly creates the feeling that you more friendly and relatable. People like to know your desires and aversions, from your preferred movie, publication, or activity, all elements that are especially essential if you are marketing items that you might produce. If you are marketing a publication, you would want to say your preferred publication, of course, is your publication! These techniques bring more perceptive and awareness to the items that you are marketing. If you neglect to provide details about yourself, you are more likely to be rejected when you send out friend or connection requests.

3. No Profile Picture:

When you sign up for a social site, depending upon what it is that you are marketing, you’re likely to find it beneficial to incorporate a profile picture. Refrain from using a cartoon image, a flyer picture, or any kind of thumbnail image. You need to post a picture of yourself. People like to converse with people they can see, and having your picture posted helps site visitors to experience the real person behind your social site profile. Once you’ve made the decision to include a profile picture, make sure that it is going to equate to whatever it is that you are marketing. If you are a attorney, you want to make sure that you’re dressed for the part by wearing a suit in your photo. If you are a trainer, a business casual look may be more appropriate. If you are somebody that works from home, then your style of dress should echo a work from home atmosphere. Most importantly, make sure that your picture is in good taste and looks professional. There’s nothing like a dreadful profile picture to turn somebody off very quickly from one of your friend requests. It is essential, essential, essential, to include a profile picture, and if that picture is going to do its job for you, it has to put you forward in the best possible light.

4. Unappealing Profile:

Simply stated make sure that you dot all your I’s and cross all your T’s. It’s vital that your social site is well put together. For instance, on many social sites, you are able to create your own backgrounds or even your own custom layout. If that kind of flexibility is available to you, make sure that you use it sensibly and keep the look of your pages clean and stylish. Avoid the inclination to go over the top by having too much going on with busy backgrounds or themes, and go for the neat look (you might try “thinking Google” in this regard). White space and less clutter means more readability, which ultimately brings more attention to your social site and therefore, to you.

5.  No Interactions or the Incorrect Connections:

The right connections are essential to achieve success from using a social networking site. You must have friends, and you have to have connections. Without friends and connections, it will be impossible for people to learn about you. The best way of marketing is almost always through word of mouth, so the more interactions that you have, the more popular you look and by association, your message can be disseminated far more effectively. I have seen many social networking sites where people may have hundreds of friends, and because of their connections, they are sharing relevant information about themselves throughout all of their friends on their social sites whenever they send an update. This creates a much broader awareness of what is going on with whatever company or service you are trying to promote. Being active is key, but if you are active and you have no friends, then you might as well be talking to yourself. Accordingly you want to make sure that you are making new connections as often as possible, that you’re sending friend requests, and that you grow your relationship with your connections as much as you can. In the end, having a friend that doesn’t know about you is the same as not having a friend at all.

6. Cold Communication:

Sometimes, people will create a social site and just send bit quotes, back to back; again and again. A better approach is to make sure your communication is specific and linked directly to you, such as revealing something interesting you did during the day or something relevant about your business. You always want to reinforce the fact that there is a real person behind this social site and not just some android creating random or extraneous things. By commenting and providing personal views, you and ensure that your site gives your visitors a feeling of comfort, so that when they visit your site they witness a real person doing real things. This helps to keep your site personable, and thus enhances the likelihood that people will want to return for updates about you on a regular basis.

7. No Feedback or Reviews from Other People:

If nobody is leaving comments or providing feedback on your social site pages, you may discover that the image of your business will suffer. The top way to encourage feedback on your own social site pages it to leave comments on other people’s pages.  That gives them the opportunity to respond back to you, thus creating increased communication involving you. (It also helps them). You might try complimenting others, or mentioning something about what you learned from their business.  Or perhaps you make a comment regarding your conversation when you met them at a networking event. It is always important to have feedback on your social site pages, if for no other purpose than to facilitate word of mouth advertising. When visitors come to your site and see that you have positive feedback from an event that you attended, or something that you have done, something bought or sold, it elevates your credibility in their minds. This improves the confidence people have in your products, as there are few endorsements more powerful than seeing a little bit of positive feedback from somebody else. Keep in mind, it is wise to always stay active, and be sure to leave many comments on the social sites of others so you can maximize feedback to your own site profile.

8. No Website Links:

If you are trying to promote any kind of service that you do on the internet, and you’re not linking back to your personal website, then what is the point of being on the social site? You should provide website links within every social site that you sign up for. Do it whenever and wherever the opportunity exists, including on your friends’ home pages (when you obtain permission) or where status updates are posted.  Constantly include your website link, no matter where you are on that social site. This will help create a higher rating for you on search engines, and it will also create a buzz to encourage people to visit your site.

9. Excessive Spam:

Social networking sites are not designed to facilitate freely spamming people with your idea, your event or your business. Be careful to avoid the appearance of spam with your marketing efforts so that your visitors don’t get the wrong impression about what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Spam is a huge turn off factor. Social networking sites are designed to create relationships and promote networking.  They are not designed to be a 24-hour source of nothing more than commercials and advertisements.  In view of that, your mission should be to create relationships, maximize networking opportunities, and foster new friendships, so that down the line your status updates and site activities will come to be positive things that people associate with about you.  There is nothing wrong with occasionally offering your product.  But, there is no need to add gimmicky lines, or any kind of false information, to bring more attention to your social site. Actually, these things only serve to leave a sense of distaste with your visitors, so work hard to set yourself apart from the gimmick masters and spam producers. You will find that an informative and expressive site will be a refreshing break from the day-to-day avalanche of advertising spam people have to contend with. And that break may be just the one you need to put your business firmly at the front of your visitors.

10. Too Much Going On:

I have seen too many people that sign up for social sites for the purpose of marketing their business make one central mistake: they mix too many social site features with the business elements on their profile pages. If you are using your social site for marketing your business, then show your visitors that you are a business minded person. Don’t confuse your message by signing up for things like trivia games. You want to make sure that you are keeping your look as professional as possible, keeping in mind that people will clearly notice what it is that you do on your site. Therefore, for anyone intending to promote that you’re a lawyer a doctor, or a network-marketing expert, you want to be careful about excessive use of the non-essential social site features that you join. Again, you want to demonstrate that you are very professional, that this is your business, and that you stand out in your field of expertise rather than social site pastimes or contests. Too much mixing of business and pleasure can serve to turn someone off immediately, so do your best to keep it simple and keep it all about business. If you want to take advantage of the entertainment aspects social sites offer, then consider having a separate social site for your personal use. But be careful, because some people may be of the type to research both your personal site and your business sites, so always use caution and good judgment about what you post. Personally, I prefer keeping everything that I do on my social sites completely business related.

There are many factors that limit the effectiveness of a social media website presence. Try to avoid these “top ten” common mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way to revealing yourself in a beneficial and successful way.

Precisely.

Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with

 

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Business Blogging Success is on the Increase

What first started out as a social outlet, web blogging, or blogging, is now growing at a rapid pace of more than 5.5 million new blogs being created each month. With so many people participating in this interactive pass time, more and more business blogs are emerging as a way for companies to expand and grow their customer base by reaching more Internet savvy prospects.

Now the Internet Marketing community is starting to take notice, and with the advent of social media marketing helping to make blog posting even easier with inter-connected technology, we’re starting to see many more blog businesses online.

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that we were all experimenting with blogs, and commenting on other blog sites to share our opinions and expand our reach, but the last decade has seen some major changes take place with hi-tech social marketing sites coming on board to make it much more exciting with an interactive experience.

As we see the trend move towards more business-oriented blogs cropping up, what used to be dull and boring business initiatives has dramatically changed to become a most enjoyable way to do business. Plus there’s the advantages for small business owners of being able to grow a business, build long-lasting relationships with customers, and make money online.

Research indicated that business-marketing blogs are rapidly increasing in number, but large percentages are left with initial posts to stagnate. Some savvy marketers are earning a generous income by taking training courses on business blogging to leverage the most out of these trends.

I’m happy to announce that after six weeks locked away the Precisely Team has just put the finishing touches to our latest training package that I know you’re going to love.

Barrel Loads of Precise Blog Traffic

This training package is aimed at blog marketers that have failed to reach the level of success that keeps their passive income continual. Particularly to those that haven’t managed to make any money yet. (I know, there are many!)

I could really see the need for a training system such as this that focuses on generating targeted traffic to business blogs, because the lack of this is one of the main reasons why many blogs fail today.

By reading this guide, you will have a far better understanding of how to setup a blog, and you’ll know about many proven methods that you can use to:

 

  • generate quality free traffic…
  • gain more exposure…
  • brand your business…
  • generate more sales for higher profit…

 

As a result, your increased credibility as an expert in your niche will be established, while your business expands dramatically for long-term success and sustainability.

If you’d like to transform your existing blog into a money-maker, or simply start off in the right way with your first blog, then this package is definitely for you.

The Barrel Loads of Precise Blog Traffic digital is 59 pages encompassing 10 modules, each overflowing with all the information you need to know to setup and operate a highly profitable blog business that attracts customers on a regular basis. Also included is a companion worksheet, checklist and process map to ensure you always know exactly where you’re at, and what needs to be done next.

 

As always, I’ve specifically structured this training package to make the learning process quicker and easier than normal, and to even make it enjoyable. Yes, it’s true… Learning CAN be fun!

I highly recommend that you secure your copy of Barrel Loads of Precise Blog Traffic today, and take your business to the next level for ensured success with a profitable blog.

 

Click here for more details about the guide… Barrel Loads of Precise Blog Trafficif you would like a Free Report that explains how to Leveraging Other People’s Blog Traffic just click here!

Now Is The Perfect Time To Take The Information In This Package To Empower Yourself & Transform Your Business Into An Exciting, Money-Making Venture.
Precisely.

Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with

 

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