How to Use Big Data on a Small Budget?

There is not bigger buzzword in the marketing atmosphere today than Big Data.

But when most of us hear “big data”, we think big budgets. Don’t let that association scare you off. Because there are plenty of ways to take advantage of the data trend without investing millions of dollars.

Firstly, what are we talking about when we say “big data”?

Big data refers to using the information at our disposal to make more informed business decisions. Over the last decade or so, our ability to collect and use data has exploded. More information is available for more people, and some really smart people have figured out how to organize and analyze that data to improve business processes and results.

Here are five ways your company can take advantage of big data on a small budget:

  1. Google Analytics – installing and utilizing a free tool like Google Analytics allows you to track all of your web activity and spot trends that you can use to make decisions about your website. You can learn more about who is visiting your site, how they are finding you, what they are looking for, and how they engage once on your site. Effective, data-centric marketers use website analytics to spot trends and make changes that will improve the usability and effectiveness of their site.
     
  2. Remarketing – Companies like Google, Retargeter, and AdRoll all offer services that allow you to advertise to those most likely to turn into customers, the people who are already interacting with you online. Placing a simple tracking pixel on your site, and targeting those people that visit with ads, helps you advertise more effectively. And you can customize the messaging of each ad based on what the person is looking for or looking at on your site.
     
  3. Lookalike Audiences – Facebook now offers a great big data marketing tool in its ad platform. Lookalike audiences allows you to upload a list of your customers (assuming you know their email address) and it will identify other users on Facebook who “look like” those customers. You can then target only those people with advertising, people you know are a lot like your customers.
     
  4. Email Marketing – Implement an email marketing program where you collect information about your subscribers that allows you to segment your lists. Instead of delivering the same email at the same time to your entire list, you can use what you know about their interests, habits, demographics and geographic location to send them customized and personalized messages. This is a proven strategy to increase the effectiveness of your emails.
     
  5. Surveys and Focus Groups – Listen to your customers. They will tell you things you never knew. Basic surveys – whether they are done online, in person, over the phone, or through the mail – can help you further define who your customers are, what they like, who they buy from, and how you can help them better. Use that research to craft better messaging, improve your products and services, and find more people like them in the marketplace.

The Case for Paying Your Employees Less Money

It’s no secret that for the bottom 90% of Americans, wages have stayed basically flat for the past thirty or so years. And there is a lot of buzz these days about whether or not to raise the minimum wage. That certainly won’t solve the problem, but it’s a good start.

When you are running a company, you have to decide how you will set compensation across your organization. There are a couple of competing ideologies at play. Some say pay employees more, some say pay them less.

Here is the case for paying them less:

  1. Salaries are expensive. In any company, employee pay is going to be one of the biggest costs of doing business. And it’s easy to look at the total salary number as a percentage of revenue and think about how you can lower it.\
  2. Tie salaries to production. Keeping base salaries low and paying performance-based bonuses is not necessarily keeping wages low, but it is a way companies can attract talent without broadly raising wages.
  3. Salary waste. For each position with your company, you can look at what you’re paying vs what you’d be paying a new hire with the same qualifications. If you are paying someone more than you would pay for something new in that position, it’s easy to view the difference as waste.
  4. Profits and investor returns. The lower you can keep salaries, the higher your earnings.
  5. Job growth. If salaries are lower, you can generally afford to hire more workers. If all salaries go up, many companies worry about the need to cut staff.

Yesterday we made the case for paying them more. Check it out here.

The Case for Paying Your Employees More Money

Vox ran a good article last week about the case for transparency when it comes to salaries.

It’s no secret that for the bottom 90% of Americans, wages have stayed basically flat for the past thirty or so years. And there is a lot of buzz these days about whether or not to raise the minimum wage. That certainly won’t solve the problem, but it’s a good start.

When you are running a company, you have to decide how you will set compensation across your organization. There are a couple of competing ideologies at play. Some say pay employees more, some say pay them less.

Here is the case for paying them more:

  1. Higher salaries leads to happier employees. High morale leads to increases in productivity. And increases in productivity should lead to more innovation, more growth, and more success.
     
  2. Employees spend less time looking around. When your employees are happy with their salary, they don’t spend nearly as much time looking for new opportunities. They become more dedicated to their current role.
     
  3. Attract top talent. When your company is offering higher wages than your competitors, you will end up hiring better workers.
     
  4. At a macro level, if all companies pay higher wages, consumers have more money to spend. A consumer-spending driven economy, like the one we have in the US, relies heavily on the spending of the middle class. When middle class workers earn more, they spend more, and the economy grows.

Tomorrow we will make the case for paying them less, in the interest of seeing both sides of this argument. 

The Three Worst Ways to Make a Decision

Dont1.jpg

Decision making is a skill. It is a skill that many people have to learn. But it’s vital for the success of companies and marketing teams.

The ability to make the right decision is something we all aspire to. And while it’s true that making any decision is better than not making a decision at all, there are good ways and bad ways to approach any situation where a decision needs to be made.

Here are the wrong ways:

  1. Ignore the facts. A lot of decisions are made on gut instinct. We see what other companies are doing, we know what we would do ourselves, and so we think we know the answer to the problem. But often, there is information out there that could help you. Try customer surveys or A/B tests, things that could provide the answer to you without relying on your own opinions.

  2. Dictatorship. One person decides that this is how it’s going to be and is unwilling to listen to any naysayers. When this happens, it’s almost always the wrong person taking the reins, like the boss.

  3. Too many cooks. Get everyone in a room and let everyone have a say. While this might sound like the right thing to do, too often you end up with a compromise that is worse than any one dictator-style decision. When you try to please everyone, you usually end up pleasing no one.

Can an Agency Help Market my Small Business?

Consideration was received for the publishing of this post.

Starting and running a small business can be a confusing and exciting time for anyone. Troubles often mount quicker than solutions materialize and when it comes to marketing most business owners readily admit they haven’t a clue or a budget. Some mistakenly think they don’t need to market their business at all and some avoid it simply because they are intimidated.

There is no singular demographic and the type of business you own makes no difference in its need for exposure. Businesses are always looking for ways to save time and money on their marketing while still attaining an often elusive return on investment (ROI), a marketing agency like MediaWhiz can help. Agencies will walk you through the process, as well assist with marketing materials like business cards.  Agencies also can take ownership of your online presence to maneuver your traditional and social media advertising, PR, and more.

Do you really need a marketing agency to help?  It's up to you, honestly. Know that even established small business owners are looking for help in order to gain or at least retain market share in today’s economy. Enlisting the help of a marketing agency can answer important questions like these with insight and experience:

  • What is the difference between “marketing” and “advertising”?
  • Do I need to spend a lot of money?
  • What are the most important marketing materials I need?
  • Do I have to advertise?
  • What can I do myself?
  • Does social media really work for businesses?
  • ·         How can I capitalize on my unique market place?

What Can a Marketing Agency Do to Help Your Bottom Line?

1. Market and Industry Analysis

A marketing agency will help you with consumer perspective and buying trends. They are able to access industry and consumer statistics that most businesses cannot. Many business owners understand their own product or service, but not their customer. An agency will define who your customer is in order to find effective ways to target them.

2. Strategy Leaders

Ideas can be great, but without a plan or strategy to execute them, they are only ideas. Not every strategy is appropriate, no matter how “fun” in may sound. A marketing agency will have better insight into what promotions or campaigns will work for you and how.

An agency will cover all the bases needed to pull off your campaign with flying colors.

3. Leveraging, Negotiating, and Bartering

Armed with statistics and other market information marketing agencies can negotiate and barter on your company’s behalf garnering you a better deal. Often times business through agencies gets better rates and a deeper attention span of marketing and advertising venues who want their (your) business. In addition, agencies have long standing relationships within the industry that they will leverage on your behalf.

It’s no secret the economy is more than challenging and other businesses are going bankrupt at astronomical rates. From 2005 to 2009 there were 60,837 new businesses that went bankrupt. The number one reason a small businesses goes bankrupt or otherwise folds is a lack of cash flow. Without a constant stream of consumers/customers there is no cash flow. Consistent and effective marketing is the only way to ensure a constant stream of prospects. A marketing agency can give you the leg up you need to succeed.