Marketing Strategy Blog Archives | Crackerjack Marketing Blog
No matter what your product or service, your Marketing Strategy will make or break the success of your business. It doesn’t matter if you make the best widget there ever was at the lowest price it could ever be, if you don’t market it properly, you might as well just stop making those widgets.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that blasting your sales message all over social media is a strategy. That’s a tactic (and the wrong tactic too!). Tactics are part of your strategy. We’ve worked with brands, both big and small, to help them create smart, effective strategies. Read through the following posts from our archives for practical advice and actionable information.
If you’d like to find out more about how working with a social media agency can help your marketing strategy, please feel free to contact us through the chat window (down there, in the lower-right corner of your browser) or contact us by filling out this form.
In life, we measure all sorts of things. Weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar all help keep tabs on our health. Measuring cups and spoons ensure your built-from-scratch birthday cake comes out beautifully. “Measure twice, cut once” is a mantra among both professional carpenters and DIY home improvement enthusiasts.
Measuring success in business involves paying close attention to key performance indicators (KPIs). These are metrics that provide you guidance on how your small business marketing initiatives are performing. If you’re not moving the needle on your business objectives, KPIs can help you identify why.
There are some KPIs that stretch across different content platforms. For example, conversions and click-through rates. Both apply to social media, paid advertising, and email marketing. Others are specific to marketing platforms. Social media marketing benefits from monitoring likes, comments, and shares.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/M_3s96ws-1.png6751200Crackerjack Marketinghttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngCrackerjack Marketing2023-04-24 09:30:002023-04-25 12:26:49How to Excel at Small Business Marketing: Top Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Track
I don’t need to tell you that as a small business owner, you have a lot going on day in and day out. One look at your calendar, inbox, or stack of voicemail messages paints a picture. In your position, it can often seem like you have to “do it all.”
Or should I say: one look at my calendar/inbox/whatever. It’s a disaster and I’m not proud of it, but it’s the life of an business owner.
Might there be a better way to accomplish your business goals? The short answer is yes. Outsource as much as you can!
This is a bit of, “do as I say, not as I do.” I’m really good at outsourcing some things, but sometimes struggle to let go of others. On the whole, though, over the nearly 13 years that my agency has existed, I’d say I’m winning on the letting go wars! And you can too.
If there are business and marketing activities that you wrestle with, outsource them!. Doing so will allow you to do more of what you’re good at and less of what you’re not. Before you head down that path, here are a few things to think about.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/CJMM1Hire-an-agencyDo-More-of-What-Youre-Good-at-and-Less-of-What-Youre-Not-1.png6751200Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2023-03-12 18:04:482023-03-12 18:08:29Small Business Best Practices For Outsourcing Business and Marketing Activities
Are you currently using buyer personas in your marketing and business strategies? If not, you should be! Creating buyer personas can be the difference between marketing that works and marketing that doesn’t.
Buyer personas help you understand who represents your target audience. They define certain characteristics that you can then use in your marketing efforts to generate lead generation. It’s more than just demographics. It’s about really understanding who your buyer is, how they think and what they feel. Buyer personas help you tailor messaging and creative elements across your marketing content and assets.
One question I would pose is, how diverse are your buyer personas? Are they “truly” reflecting an accurate representation of your target audience? By creating a diverse set of buyer personas, you open up opportunities to a wider audience and foster business growth.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/CJMF15-Marketing-with-diverse-personas-blog-3.png6751200Christina Stricklandhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngChristina Strickland2023-02-24 08:11:322023-03-08 17:19:55Championing Representation and Equality: Why Diverse Buyer Personas Are Important
Over the past few years, live events have been scarce, as many events moved to virtual platforms. While it was a good alternative when social distancing was necessary, many virtual events don’t quite have the same feel as in-person events, nor can they garner the same attention.
Now that more events are happening in person, there’s a great chance to make the most of social media marketing to boost brand awareness when you’re attending live events. For example, if you are a coach, consultant, or small business service provider attending a tradeshow and have a booth, social media can help you attract traffic. Or, if you’re presenting as a thought leader at a conference, social media is a great way to pre-network and invite people to attend your session.
No matter the type of live event—conferences, tradeshows, masterminds, workshops, summits—social media helps you build up your audience database, turning in-person contacts into online ones. And, even if an event continues to live on a virtual platform, these tips also apply!
Aligning Social Media Marketing with the Event Timeline
One way to approach social media marketing for events is to consider the before, during, and after timelines of the event.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/CJMJ10-Blog-2-Supporting-events-with-social-media-3.png6751200Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2023-01-30 13:10:512023-01-30 13:10:52Social Media and Live Events: Promoting Your Small Business
For many years, we’ve been told that email marketing is dead—or, at the very least, on its way out. It makes one wonder who, exactly, is putting that message out there. Because nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we think there’s an email marketing resurgence!
In fact, an anonymous quote that one of my colleagues discovered captured email marketing’s place in the greater scope of marketing strategy: “Email marketing is like Jason Bourne. It will never die.”
If you’ve been receptive to the notion that email marketing should be dead, that it’s not an effective marketing tactic, there are plenty of facts to dispute it.
Death? Talk About an Email Marketing Resurgence Read more
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/EmailJason-Bourne.png6751200Sylvia Andersonhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngSylvia Anderson2022-11-08 08:00:002023-04-11 09:56:06Email Marketing: The Jason Bourne of Marketing Strategy
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/CJM-Blog-Images.png6751200Sylvia Andersonhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngSylvia Anderson2022-08-16 14:12:472022-08-17 10:36:26How to Use Email to Get More Leads
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/podcasts-for-CMOs.jpg440844Christina Stricklandhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngChristina Strickland2018-05-21 07:00:192022-06-10 22:05:1110 Podcasts Every CMO Should Be Listening To
There are billions of people using social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and these people all represent current and prospective customers that you can reach with your brand. There are a number of ways brands can interact with each of these platforms; essentially it comes down to using either organic social media or social media advertising.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/The-Difference-Between-Social-Media-Marketing-and-Social-Media-Advertising.jpg440844Christina Stricklandhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngChristina Strickland2018-05-14 07:00:502022-06-10 22:05:11The Difference Between Organic Social Media and Social Media Advertising
There are many reason why you should encourage customer reviews in your marketing strategy, even if you’re in a B2B (business-to-business) industry. If you’re a software company, you can often find helpful reviews on software review sites. For other types of B2B companies, using reviews from actual customers provides potential customers with real use cases, which can better help them make a decision whether to use your services or product, as well as improve trust in your company. Consumers today highly value other consumers feedback and opinions, and often rely heavily on reviews for purchase decisions. When you solicit and display B2B customer reviews on your site or in your marketing materials, you create social proof that your business has been valuable to others.
As a social media consultant, I get asked this question all the time: Which social media platform should I use for my business. And my answer is always the same: It depends.
Of course, there are many variables to consider when determining your marketing strategy, and your use of social media platform(s) should be part of that strategy. And your personal preferences, or available resources, must be part of the decision making process. If you hate yourself on video, YouTube may not be your first or best choice of social channels for your business. If you don’t like to take and manipulate photographs, Instagram won’t work for you.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Business-Social-Media-Farming-vs.jpg440844Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2018-01-09 01:22:352022-06-10 22:05:12Business Social Media: Farming vs. Fishing
Whether your objective is to grow an audience for your blog, sell a product, or provide a service, you first need to build trust. If you want people to come to you for your travel tips or sign up for your online course, you need to give them a reason to choose you over the sea of other options out there. It sounds like this could be quite the difficult task, huh? Well, that’s not necessarily the case as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.
If you’re ready to open up and be transparent, not only about your brand but also the person or people behind the brand, you’re going to have a lot more success.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/how-to-humanize-your-brand-featured2.png440844Christina Stricklandhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngChristina Strickland2017-08-31 08:00:252022-06-10 22:06:08How to Humanize Your Brand and Why You Need To Do It
When you think of marketing genius, the team behind Apple, Inc. may come to mind. The technology company dominates the internet, cell phone, and entertainment use across the globe. Apple is synonymous with success and technological innovation.
A business with no blog or website is left open to the possibility of false representation. Of course, current or prospective clients can Google you, and chances are they will find something about you online. This information could include anything from a Yelp review of your business, your personal Facebook page, or maybe even a comment you left on a forum years ago. Though none of this may hurt your business, it may not be the impression you’d like to project.
Give your audience a designated place to visit where they can find more information about you. A blog or website will be the reflection of your business that you choose to put on display. It will provide information and answer clients questions, but that’s only scratching the surface. Let’s dive a little deeper.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/the-difference-between-a-blog-and-a-website-featured.png440844Christina Stricklandhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngChristina Strickland2017-07-12 08:00:042022-06-10 22:06:09The Difference Between a Blog and a Website in Your Marketing Strategy
Top Reasons Why You Should Be Using Video Captions
These days the idea of making your content “mobile friendly” is top-of-mind for many of us in the content-generation business, but are you also thinking about making it as “people-friendly” as you can? You probably already know that as a best practice you should strive to make sure that your content is accessible to as many people as possible, but you may not be considering captions as part of that accessibility strategy. Here’s why you should.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Video-Captions-Not-Just-for-Watching-CNN-at-the-Gym.jpg440844Crackerjack Marketinghttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngCrackerjack Marketing2017-06-01 08:00:482022-06-10 22:06:10Video Captions: Not Just for Watching CNN at the Gym
Can you use a part-time social media manager to achieve your online marketing goals? Will hiring a part-time social media manager be enough to achieve your goals? Isn’t social media marketing simply making announcements to a network of people who have signed on to receive your news and tidbits? Isn’t it simply sharing links, images, and videos you find interesting or inspirational? Or is it all about building relationships and finding ways to engage with your prospects and customers? These things are definitely part of social media marketing, but they don’t tell the whole story.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/part-time-social-media.png440845Christina Stricklandhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngChristina Strickland2017-05-25 08:00:562022-06-10 22:06:10Social Media is More than a Part-Time Position
You try to create the most compelling marketing messages. You know how important it is to speak directly to your target audience and share ideas, features, and tips that will capture their attention. But try as you might, it seems like you’re pushing a bunch of boulders up a super-steep uphill. Your messages seem on-point to you, but your audience doesn’t seem to remember them. And if they do, they don’t seem to remember them long enough to buy your products and services. Never fear! You do have options—good options, actually.
There’s no denying that visual content has taken over our generation. With more than 3.7 billion internet users in the world and smartphone users expected to reach 2.32 billion by the end of 2017, from Snapchat to Facebook to Instagram, there is practically no end to our appetite for visual content.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Role-of-Images-in-Content-Marketing.jpg440844Archie Alibasahttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngArchie Alibasa2017-03-02 08:00:542022-06-10 22:06:11What Makes Visuals So Crucial to Content Marketing Success?
Facebook is an excellent place to post ads for your brand. Why, you ask? Though most advertising questions don’t have a simple answer, this one definitely does. Essentially, just about everyone is on Facebook in some capacity or another, so advertising there means more and better chances to reach your audience. Just what do we mean by everyone? Well, upwards of 70 percent of adults spend time on this platform. With well-targeted ads and a good strategy, you can reach a significant portion of your audience, whether you’re targeting a B2C or B2B audience.
Of course, the fact that everyone is on Facebook is really just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also the fact that Facebook really makes it easy to hone in on a particular audience based on locations, demographics, interests, behaviors, and connections. And once you target a particular audience, there is so much you can use Facebook ads for, including boosting likes and engagement and increasing website clicks and conversions. You can do all of this on the budget you set AND use Facebook’s tools to track your progress, so you can easily optimize your ad campaigns.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you can probably tell we’re all aflutter about Twitter. Even though we wonder why Twitter is so darn difficult for people, we’re big advocates for using Twitter as part of your overall social media strategy. It’s a powerful tool for building your business.
What do you do when the ideas just don’t flow as readily as you’d like? What can you do when you’re long on enthusiasm but short on compelling ideas for tweets? No worries! We’ve compiled a list of ideas you can use to get you through those difficult times as well as great resources for finding content to share.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Tweet-Like-a-Pro.jpg440844Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2016-06-23 08:00:002022-06-10 22:07:56How to Tweet Like a Pro
Content is king, right? But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write every word of it. After writing blog post after blog post and article after article, with an eBook or white paper thrown in, you may feel as if you’re penning the Great American novel rather than marketing your business. The good news is you don’t have to type until your fingers fall off. Original content is certainly good, but content curation helps get the job done too.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/what-is-content-curation.jpg440844Christina Stricklandhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngChristina Strickland2016-06-17 05:00:452022-06-10 22:07:56The Art of Content Curation and Making it Work for Your Brand
Do you know a teen or young adult who isn’t tied to their mobile phone? According to Pew Research, 80% of 18-34 year olds own a smartphone – and they’re all using them a lot. If you want your brand to appeal to this audience, implementing an effective mobile marketing strategy is the way to go. But how do you capture the attention of individuals who are always on the go? A good start would be to capitalize on the channels that they always access on their mobile devices.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/3-Ways-to-Use-Mobile-to-Reach-Millennials.jpg440844Archie Alibasahttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngArchie Alibasa2014-02-28 02:08:472022-06-10 22:08:463 Ways to Use Mobile to Reach Millennials
We hear a lot about top digital brands and wonder what sets them apart. It’s not just a lot of luck. It’s not even offering a product or service that no one else sells. Instead, these brands earn this designation through hard work, creativity, and effective strategizing. According to digital agency 360i, there are 7 Habits of Highly Digital Brands – and adhering to most, if not all, of these habits can set a brand far ahead of the pack. The 7 Habits are:
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/7-Habits-of-Top-Digital-Brands.jpg440844Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2014-02-24 02:08:072022-06-10 22:08:467 Habits of Top Digital Brands
There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle most things in life, and that includes crises of the technology hacking variety. Two recent hacking crises do an excellent job of illustrating how companies handle crises. One, involving Buffer, occurred in October 2013 and was handled quite well while another, involving Snapchat in January 2014, just wasn’t. One of the major differences between the crisis management demonstrated by these companies? The apology. Customers want to know that the companies they patronize care.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/How-To-Apologize-To-Your-Customers.jpg440844Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2014-02-12 02:05:512022-06-10 22:08:47How To Apologize To Your Customers
Some things just aren’t one-size fits all, and content is one of them. To effectively engage your audience, you’ll need content that caters to the specific types of consumers you are trying to reach. And how can you get that? Start by creating customer personas that fit your audience members, and then tailor content to fit each persona. Essentially, you’ll use these personas to drive your inbound marketing strategies.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Creating-Customer-Personas-for-Inbound-Marketing.jpg440844Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2013-12-04 01:57:432022-06-10 22:08:49Creating Customer Personas for Inbound Marketing
The social media revolution was – is – all about talking. It’s about putting your ideas out into the world to see how they connect and collide with others’.
But if the social media revolution is about talking, the social media revelation is about listening. (See what I did there? Eh, eh?)
Social listening is a hugely important piece of successful online engagement because it has everything to do with understanding our audience(s), developing a sense of empathy, and speaking to our customers in a language they can relate to. Unfortunately, though, it’s also the step that’s easiest to ignore. Why is that?
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.png00Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2013-11-12 01:55:522022-06-10 22:08:49Social Listening Like a Rap Star
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/6-Tips-for-Video-Marketing-Success.jpg440844Christina Stricklandhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngChristina Strickland2013-09-17 04:51:522022-06-10 22:09:116 Tips for Video Marketing Success
Recognizing that many consumers have become bored and disillusioned with traditional ads, many businesses are looking to create new types of advertising. Although technology makes it easier than ever to create and post attractive ads online, and many advertising opportunities are fairly inexpensive, consumers less likely to pay attention to them. Therefore traditional ad options just aren’t as attractive as they used to be. Sponsored content, also called branded content or native advertising, is filling a gap for advertisers.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Pros-and-Pitfalls-of-Sponsored-Content-for-Brands.jpg440844Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2013-06-13 01:44:562022-06-10 22:09:12Pros and Pitfalls of Sponsored Content for Brands
With so much discussion of online sales tools and social media, it may seem that cold calling is a thing of the past. Many might say good riddance, as they dreaded making cold calls anyway. Before you strike it from memory completely, however, consider the point of a cold call, which is to make a personal contact with someone who needs your product or service. That point is far from obsolete.
The alternate title for this post is: A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words, because given the rise in visual sharing platforms today, including Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and more, it’s imperative that brands have a plan for creating compelling visual images.
Some brands have in-house graphic designers or can afford to hire one, which partially solves the problem. But designers need ideas, and ideas need to be aligned with marketing plans and goals.
Here are some ideas for incorporating photos (or short-form video like Vine) into your brand marketing plans, fueling your visual social networks at the same time.
Today’s world is growing ever more mobile. It seems that everyone, from the youngest grade schooler to the happy retiree, has at least some sort of mobile device, and it’s more and more likely that device is a smartphone. These devices aren’t used for just entertainment anymore. Today’s users rely on them for everything from driving directions and work productivity to research and shopping. Since you need to be where your customers are, you need more than a mere mobile strategy or mobile campaign. You need to make your business mobile.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Mobile-Is-Not-a-Strategy-Its-a-Necessity.png440844Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2013-02-05 01:29:052022-06-10 22:09:37Mobile Is Not a Strategy, It’s a Necessity
Looking for more (and better) leads for your business? Hoping to turn more of your leads into actual sales? Generating leads and converting them into sales is a tough, ongoing process, no matter what type of business you’re involved in. Here are 5 tips for more effective lead generation and conversion:
Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! Oh, my! There are many different social media venues to choose from. While each one might have a place in a social media strategy, not all may be right for your business.
We presented this free social media class entitled “Which Social Media Platform is Right For Your Business?” last week. In case you weren’t able to attend, you can view the presentation right here:
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.png00Christina Stricklandhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngChristina Strickland2012-08-02 01:15:412022-06-10 22:09:39Which Social Media Platform is Right For Your Business?
As a small business owner, referrals should be part of your game plan. Unlike other ways you can get business, referrals don’t cost you anything, except a little effort. And even better than that, people who are referred to you are ready to trust your expertise and buy your products and services. Since people they trust and care about have referred them to your business, they are primed and ready, with little selling on your part. Remember, each customer and business associate has a whole network of people who might need your services. Can you really afford to pass that up?
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.png00Christina Stricklandhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngChristina Strickland2012-06-19 01:14:382022-06-10 22:09:39How to Get More Referrals
I’ve been really angsty of late, worrying about things I shouldn’t worry about. That’s the life of a Jewish mother, I suppose. But it’s also the life of a social media marketer who is valiantly trying to stay on the right side of the law. The FTC law on sweepstakes rules, that is.
No doubt most of you are aware that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) regulates advertising and marketing practices here in the U.S. They’re the governmental group who has brought us the CAN-SPAM act (email marketing), COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) and, more recently, their Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which helped to bring about a more open and transparent level of disclosure by bloggers about their relationships with brands, organizations and events. The FTC is also one of the governmental bodies which regulates Contests and Sweepstakes (others being the Postal Service, the Department of Justice, and regulatory bodies within each of the 50 U.S. states).
I’m on the verge of losing sleep because of the FTC. It’s because I get upset every time I see something like this in a blog post:
What’s wrong with this picture? Well, just about everything. This “giveaway” is actually a sweepstakes and, as such, it violates U.S. and state regulations in about a half-dozen ways, not to mention Facebook’s Promotions Guidelines as well.
The bigger problem? That there are hundreds, if not thousands, of these “giveaways” on blogs each and every day. Don’t you think that at some point the Feds, or one very consumer protection-oriented state (like my own state of New York), are going to sit up and realize that bloggers are mostly doing this wrong? And what’s going to happen to the brands whose stuff is being given away in these “giveaways?” Just as with the Endorsements guidelines, the burden is more likely to be on the brands than the blogger to make sure that every giveaway they are involved with is being run in a manner that complies with federal and state guidelines.
A Sweepstakes is a giveaway where winners are chosen at random.
A Contest chooses a winner based on some merit: best photo, funniest tip, etc.
A Lottery is a prize drawing where people pay money for a chance to win. Lotteries are even more highly regulated and brands (or bloggers) should never run a lottery without strong legal guidance.
Thus, most giveaways are actually sweepstakes: a winner is chosen at random based on an entry (like leaving a comment).
Sweepstakes Prize Value
Sweepstakes prizes valued over $5,000 must be registered and bonded in the State of New York and Florida (so don’t offer prizes over $5,000 unless you have the time and money to register and bond your sweepstakes).
Any prize over $600 is required to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). (The reality is that bloggers must pay taxes on anything they receive with value over $25, but that’s another story entirely.)
Official Sweepstakes Rules
All sweepstakes and contests must have Official Rules associated with them, prominently available to the entrant (attorneys I’ve spoken to always prefer that an entrant must check a box to say that they’ve agreed to the Rules, though I’ve also been told that if the rules are prominent enough and verbiage says something like “by entering your name below you are agreeing to the Official Rules” you may be covered.
Key points for Official Rules:
Must state “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY”
Must include eligibility requirements (age, residence – it’s generally problematic to include entrants under the age of 18 in your sweepstakes, and, given that every country has its own requirements for promotions, it may be wise to limit entrants to U.S. residents only)
Duration and deadlines (when does it start, by what date must you enter, etc.)
Entry procedures (Can you also enter by mail? What, specifically, do you need to do to enter?)
Prize descriptions (very specific – including an approximate retail value of the prize, if no actual retail value is available)
Odds of winning (this may be “The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.”)
How a dispute or mistake will be handled (disclaimers for technical failures or typographical errors; identity disputes related to the winner)
How and when winners are selected (you must set a date for winner selection and also for how long winners have to claim their prize)
Right to obtain winners’ names and how to do so, as well as the right to publicize their names and likenesses (if for whatever reason you’re not collecting their name on entry, you’ll want to get their name when you certify them as the winner; at the same time, you’ll probably want to have the right to use their name and photo for promotional purposes)
Method of distributing prizes not claimed (often something like, “If potential Grand Prize winner forfeits or does not claim the prize, prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion.” and “All prizes will be awarded.”)
Liability release (this holds the company harmless in the event that the prize or sweepstakes in some way negatively impacts the winner; this is often done alongside the certification of winner, where the winner must furnish proof of identity, address and birth date to win the prize, and at the same time sign the liability release)
Sponsor name and contact information (mailing address at the very least, plus email address and/or phone number)
Legal venue (in what state or jurisdiction is the sweepstakes being regulated in?)
Also state “VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW”
Additional Info for Contests
Most of the same rules and requirements apply to contests, with a few additions. If you’re running a contest where you’re collecting any materials from the entrants (photos, essays, artwork, poems), you should state how those materials are to be used and returned (if at all). As well, it may be necessary to restrict photos to images of people over 18 (to stay on the right side of the COPPA laws) and also to state that any inappropriate materials will result in automatic disqualification (be sure to define “inappropriate” for your specific contest).
If you are running a contest, there’s another whole discussion your lawyers will want to have about voting for the winner vs. judging the winner. Go ahead, ask them. Double-dare you. It’ll be a long discussion. The upshot: lawyers don’t like voting on contests. So make the final winner selection based at least 60% on judging by an “expert panel” vs. voting by regular people. Or vote for round one, then have the panel pick the winner out of a number of finalists. There’s too much randomness in voting, which makes it a sweeps vs. a contest. Lawyers don’t like it when lines blur like that, you know.
Advertising the Promotion
If the “giveaway” is to be referenced in any other place besides the actual sweepstakes page itself, there are additional guidelines for advertising that apply. Each reference to the giveaway must state the eligibility requirements (age, location), deadlines, how to obtain Official Rules, and must also include the two phrases “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY” and “VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.”
Children and General Privacy
I’ve referenced COPPA law a couple of times now, and can’t state emphatically enough how important it is to steer clear of the issues related to marketing to children under 13. However, a few states, such as Maine and California, have recently written new laws governing the collection of personal information for minors under the age of 18. Given that state laws vary on this point, it’s far safer to restrict your sweepstakes or contest to those over 18, and to require proof of age for winners upon certification of the winners.
Facebook: A Whole New Can of Worms
Facebook adds a whole new additional of complexity to promotions with their promotions guidelines. Sara has a good round-up here; the basics on this are that you cannot use any of Facebook’s native applications to enter people into a contest. Native applications include the Wall, the Like button, photos, videos and using Facebook to notify winners. Meaning, in the really bad example above, requiring people to “friend” someone (or “Like” a page) in order to gain an extra entry into the giveaway is not allowed. This is a topic for a whole other post, and many people have already written it, so I’ll just suggest you Google “facebook promotions guidelines” and you’ll get an earful. Or eyeful.
In short, “giveaways” are nothing to mess around with casually. There is no such thing as a “giveaway,” they are all sweepstakes, and, as such, are governed by myriad federal and state laws to which attention should be paid. If you’re a blogger who runs giveaways the wrong way, I really hope this post gives you pause: please step back, evaluate, and decide if running the giveaways brings you enough monetary value to either a) hire an attorney to help you setup your giveaways correctly, or b) to fight a lawsuit if a disgruntled non-winner (or winner) decides to take you to task for not following the law. If you’re a brand running giveaways via bloggers, it truly behooves you take control of the situation for yourself, and to sic your attorneys on this matter immediately.
Now go forth and giveaway. Properly. This angsty Jewish mother thanks you.
DISCLAIMER: I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. The information provided herin is not legal advice and is only based on my own experiences as a marketer with sweepstakes and contests, including counsel I have been given by numerous attorneys over my many years as an internet marketer. None of the above should be considered a substitute for you consulting your own legal counsel who will guide you and your company (or blog) in how to create and manage sweepstakes and contests.
This post originally appeared in on Social Media Explorer, where I’m used to be a regular contributor on social media topics.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.png00Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2012-01-10 00:08:322022-06-10 22:10:09What’s The Most Important Thing To Say About Your Business On Your Website?
As social media grows and matures, it seems pretty clear that there are a few aspects of this integrated discipline that are becoming increasingly important, yet are undeveloped skills in most social media practitioners. One such aspect is search marketing.
Just a few short years ago search engine optimization (SEO) was a highly specialized discipline, and primarily was being executed within standalone SEO firms and some digital agencies. The guys (yeah, mostly guys, though a few gals too) who were search experts often had coding backgrounds, and they really understood the nuts-and-bolts of how the search engines, and websites, worked. They used this info to help static websites get noticed by the engines, and then they extended that knowledge into paid search, also called PPC (pay-per-click) or search engine marketing (SEM). Blogs came along and they figured out the best ways to optimize those too. If you needed to build a website or blog, or run a PPC campaign, you knew who to call.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.png00Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2011-12-07 23:49:132022-06-10 22:10:10We’re All Search Marketers Now
You may have heard the term “call to action” and perhaps you even know how it applies to an advertisement or TV show. When you are watching a television ad and they say, “order now!,” that is a call to action.
In social media, most of your writing will probably not end with “order now.” If you want to see results, you do, however, need to have a call to action for any marketing effort, social media included. But since social media is more about establishing a relationship, establishing authority or humanizing your brand, the call to action is going to have a different tone than the screaming TV ad.
In social media content, a call to action might tend to be more about asking for people to engage in conversation with you. On Facebook, you may ask a question like “Share your favorite experience using ___” or “Tell us what you think about___.” That will get you more engagement than simply posting pictures and links. On a blog, you might end with a question, asking people to weigh in on a topic you have covered or answer a question that came to your mind while writing the post. These types of calls to action are asking for engagement, and they set just the right tone for your social media presences.
On your blog or website you can put more explicit calls to action, asking people to connect with you in social media (with your Twitter, Facebook or blog icons and links) or to sign up for your newsletter (with a signup box right there). Remember, when you ask people to take that a step that requires a commitment, whether it is receiving your newsletter or Liking your Facebook page, remember to tell them why they should do it. Answer the question which will be on their minds, “what’s in it for me?,” with information about what you will be providing through that medium, whether you’ll be giving them special offers, free e-books, new product announcement or tips and ideas.
You are putting your efforts into social media for a reason. To make sure you get out of it what you want, you’ll have to ask for it. Don’t you agree?
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.png00Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2011-08-25 23:42:052022-06-10 22:10:11What Is A “Call To Action?”
Knowing your customers, understanding their wants and their needs, and getting feedback quickly on new products and services, is critical to your business success. One of the best tools available for getting that information is offered by a company called Survey Monkey. It’s free for a basic service that allows up to 100 responses per survey. For a relatively small annual charge, you can get thousands of responses and a wide array of survey types and analysis through simple or complex customer surveys.
https://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.png00Stephanie Schwabhttps://crackerjackmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CJM-Header-Logo-New.pngStephanie Schwab2011-07-19 23:21:182022-06-10 22:10:29How To Survey Your Customers Like A Pro