Social Media for Business

Social media continues to gain momentum in the press and in our personal lives. Our inboxes are full of emails promoting new platforms, changes to existing platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) and clever ideas to help leverage these as tools for business growth. So, why don’t more businesses take advantage of social media platforms to create more opportunities

These user-friendly “tools” are at our fingertips just waiting to be utilized. If more businesses were to engage in the use of a solid social media strategy and consistently execute on that strategy, surely the door would open to more communication, allowing others to learn more about a given business. And we can borrow ideas from each other and adapt best practices that both inform and entertain the communities we want to engage.

The following are links that show examples of creative and clever ideas that accomplish the goals of engaging and informing:

From Smart-Fab comes a Facebook campaign to demonstrate, through a video and an accompanying lesson plan, how to use Smart-Fab in a classroom. Check them out on Facebook or visit their website.

Tombow USA engages users on Facebook with a video in the Cover Photo.  The video shows, through simulated illustration, how Tombow products are used.  This is a very creative and engaging use of social media. View it here.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact us at Midwest Resource Group.

Content Is King

The Creation and Management of Operational and Rich Content

I wrote this blog, originally in 2014.  While looking at today’s business landscape, I realize how valid and urgent it is to meet reseller and end user demands.  We’ve all heard the phrase, “Content Is King.”

The creation and management of operational and rich content requires strategy, creation and integration to effectively impact sales. Time, creativity, discipline and an understanding of how content is syndicated in the industry is required.

Operational content is either accurate or inaccurate. Managing the correct size, width, depth, etc. of a product(s) requires discipline. As critical as operational content is to selling a product, operational content alone is just the starting point.

Rich content requires a very different investment than operational content. Producing and managing rich-selling copy, images and video requires creative thinking and execution to clearly show the key selling features and benefits of a product or product category. Rich content demands the combination of an effective sales presentation and a creative concept to self-educate the end user.

In the process of creating rich content, we always start with a strategy keeping the end user and reseller(s) in mind. This process may be for a single reseller with specific needs or a broader development for a variety of resellers. We encourage the collaboration between our sales and marketing staff on the development of rich-selling content.

Often we will develop rich content based upon the collaboration of sales goals and objectives for a product or product family. For example, a strategy might be to reduce return rates while increasing customer loyalty via consumer reviews. During a recent presentation, we identified that negative reviews on a product were a result of several end users expressing concern over a product’s tendency to rust. The manufacturer immediately responded that the product has now been now powder coat painted to avoid rusting. Unfortunately the copy, image and lack of video did not adequately explain the product changes since the last review was posted. As a result, we are confident that the manufacturer will be creating a series of infographic images to address the negative comments. The rich content needs to ensure that the end user clearly understands the product application. We can do that by simply answering consumer questions before they are asked.

It is vital for the long-term success of any product in distribution to have robust selling copy, images and video. The integration of the new rich content needs to be carefully executed. Rest assured, our long in-depth industry knowledge is backed by a clear understanding of content syndication. This complex selling process has resulted in significant growth for many of our industry partners.

It is important to proof and verify that the investment made in rich content is executed by the resellers.

We love rich content and the significant impact it will have on increasing sales while reducing operational expenses.

To learn more, feel free to contact Midwest Resource Group and ask for Steven Glass.

 

Staying Focused on Your Goals

People are overwhelmed by the volume of messages they receive – texts, phone calls, emails and even old-fashioned letters. According to Forbes, on average, office workers receive 200 emails alone every day and spend up to 2 ½ hours writing and responding to emails daily.

Some of these messages are just noise. They demand an immediate response, but they don’t advance our business and they distract us from focusing on our goals.

Runaway Projects

These disruptions threaten to become “runaway projects” when you need to pull in additional individuals to help you resolve them. A data request, for example, might lead you to emailing someone in sales for information, which might lead to emailing someone else in operations for more information, which might lead to emailing an administrative assistant for support in putting together a report. Suddenly, the task is a team effort. Individuals are working outside their lanes and putting time into an unplanned project with no end in sight and no clear benefits to your business.

Managing Time Efficiently

While some of the channels of communication we use are relatively new, the challenge of managing distractions has been around for a long time. As far back as the 1950s, the famous Eisenhower quadrant, also known as the urgent-important quadrant, became popular as a business productivity tool to guide decision making about task management.

Prioritize to Maintain Your Focus

So, how can you stay focused on your goals in the face of so many “need it now” messages?

Over the years, various approaches to time management have emerged to help people be more productive. What these systems all have in common is a daily practice of identifying goals, listing and prioritizing the corresponding tasks and tracking progress.

The number of incoming messages you receive won’t decrease anytime soon, but with discipline and determination you can stay focused on what really matters and avoid getting sidetracked.

~ Dan Glass

Thoughtful Video Assets Boost Online Sales

How much does video influence end users’ online purchasing decisions? These statistics published in a Forbes blogpost by Matt Bowman speak to the power of video to persuade viewers to buy:

  • 90% of viewers say watching a video helps them make their buying decisions
  • Videos increase viewers understanding of a product or services by 74%
  • Viewers are 64% more likely to buy after watching a product video
  • Adding a video to marketing emails can boost click-through rates by 200-300%

Inform the end user

Videos deliver a 24/7 online sales pitch on resellers’ websites. A quality video tells the product story, informs viewers about features and benefits, describes the product’s unique value proposition and demonstrates how the product is used or works.

The more targeted a video is, the more effective it serves as an online sales pitch. Each SKU offers something special and different. When videos communicate these nuances, they provide meaningful details that engage viewers’ attention. Viewers become convinced that they’ve found the product they’re looking for.

Engage with meaningful video assets

If you’re using one overarching video for a series of products, you may be losing out on the opportunity to make the sale. The more product-specific video assets you provide to your reseller, the more optimized their website is to sell.

Of course, not every single SKU requires a distinct video. If an item comes in various sizes, for example, one video may be adequate. On the other hand, color differences could be highly relevant to end users. For the product presentation to resonate with them, they need to experience the item in the color option that appeals to them.

~ Dan Glass

The Value of Repositioning Your Product for Multiple Uses

In the days when desktop computers were first introduced into the workplace, use of typewriters began to decline. A manufacturer of mobile typewriter stands saw the writing on the wall: demand for their product would drop significantly as new “workstations” were being designed to accommodate computer usage.

Responding to Change

Around the same time, fax machines were also becoming standard office equipment. One day, a sales representative for the typewriter stand company had a breakthrough idea: why don’t we sell typewriter stands as fax machine stands?

The manufacturer changed almost everything. New name. New description. New label and packaging. New promotional materials. But one thing they didn’t change was the product itself. They successfully sold it as a fax stand for many years.

Multiple Categories Reach Multiple Markets

Repositioning a product worked back then and it works today. In fact, our capabilities for positioning products for multiple uses across multiple channels is greater today than ever before.

Take a utility table designed for an industrial setting. We might develop a strategy that repositions it for use in a high school STEM classroom.  That same approach can work with a broad range of products from office supplies to furniture to technology aids.

When repositioning, it’s important to work closely with resellers’ organizations to identify appropriate product categories. Sometimes it’s a matter of rewriting product descriptions to emphasize different details or putting a different prop in the product photo. It may even be necessary to change the product title.


If you’d like to explore the possibilities of repositioning your product for multiple uses, contact Stuart Glass (stuartglass@midwestrg.com) of Midwest Resource Group.