Tracy Petrucci: Marketing Ideas Into Action: 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Vacation from Blogging

December is a busy month for everyone. I'm taking a break from blogging this month!

Plus, I started a little crochet page on Etsy and have been having fun making and selling stuff to my friends on Facebook for the holidays. http://www.facebook.com/OllieGcrochet

See you in the new year! (I may have a post or two regarding upcoming classes before then.)

Toddler Circle Scarf

Friday, November 30, 2012

Small Biz Tip: Space Happy Facebook Posts

A very sweet student of mine allowed me to share this post with you. She has a brand new business and is starting to use Facebook for marketing. Just a quick tip: Don't press RETURN/ENTER too many times on your posts or valuable information will be lost "below the fold" of the post.

Facebook will cut you off and say "See More" so you'll want to make sure the most important information is viewable above that clip off. For example, Basic NV likes to show a large photo of a product and then put the link to by it in the body of status. However the link is hidden in this post, so less people are likely to click on it, and places them that much farther away from buying it.

Just be aware of how much text is in each post, and how you space it out.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Small Business Saturday at Urban Solace

Well my Shop Small adventure is coming to a close. We decided to go to Urban Solace today. I've always liked chef Matt Gordon's philosophies and menu, but with a small child and a business to run, it's near impossible to go anywhere these days.

If you've ever been there, you might have had the same problem we did. . . we couldn't decide what to order! Two beers and an amazing appetizer later, we filled up on our entrees and barely made it out of there alive (with a grumpy tired toddler that is).

The kids were nicely corralled in this corner booth however, so us adults had a little bit of time to relax. For a second. 
The sweetest part was the little gift you received for recognizing Small Business Saturday. We got this amazing roasted tomato jam and a bag of cheddar biscuit mix. Thanks a lot Urban Solace, I am so glad I finally got to eat you!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Flavored Coffee

Oh, how could I have resisted the bright, cheerful holiday marketing of Dunkin' Donuts? There was Gingerbread coffee and Mocha Mint. And it looked so yummy, regardless my dislike for flavored coffee. In fact, last month they almost got me with the pumpkin spice. I mean, doesn't that look good? "Pumpkin Spice" . . . it's like I will brew it and magically have a creamy delicious 4 dollar latte in my own kitchen.

This time when the Christmas flavors came out, I caved in. And. . . well, it's just awful. It tastes like every other flavored coffee I've ever had, there's nothing special or magical about this one! It's going to have to be donated to a friend who likes this sort of thing. Any takers? The marketer was duped by the the marketing once again!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Secret Boards on Pinterest

Yahoo! Secret boards on Pinterest. I think that says it all.

Now if they'd let you do more than three I think many people would be even happier.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Small Biz Tip: HARO Help a Reporter Out

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a great resource for that little extra bit of PR support. It's a free service where people nationwide can submit a query when they are writing a story, blog post, or book. There are writers in every industry looking for products, services, experts, and so on, and you can respond to these queries instantly!

Check it out here and sign up if you want to give it a try. HARO sends three emails a day Monday through Friday, so it can definitely clog up your inbox if you don't have time to scan them regularly. Use your email's filtering and labeling system to file them into their own folder so they don't overwhelm you, and when you have time, scan through a few of them and look for some PR for your business!

If you want help, shoot me an email and let me know what you need. Good luck!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Small Biz Tip: Use Bitly To Track Clicks

Bitly has made it even easier to see and track your link clicks. So why would you want to go through the extra steps to shorten a link, especially if you already have analytics set up on your sites?

Many times, the link you are posting might be to someone else's website. It could be a link to a payment page on Paypal. It could be linking to your friend's new blog.

You'll want to be able to see if any of your followers clicked on this link so you know if the content was interesting to them or not. This helps you determine what you should be posting more or less of. In the case where it might be sending them to a payment page, you'll want to see if people clicked through and stopped short of buying. These are just a few examples of why it's nice to have more control over the analytics of your content links.

Also it's nice to have a small shortened link instead of a really long cumbersome one. That reason alone sometimes warrants the few extra seconds it takes to shorten a link.

Go check out bitly.com and start playing around!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Small Business Saturday Tool Kit

Constant Contact is providing a nice tool kit to small business owners who want to take advantage of Small Business Saturday. You can download it here, and get started now so you are organized and ready for this awesome day that is specially designed for your business.

You can thank American Express for this, FYI. I really never thought it would blow up the way it did back when it first started, but it's amazing, and now you can gracefully bow out of Black Friday and stop trying to compete with the huge big box companies that can afford to do things you simply just can't.

If you need help setting up your plan, let me know. You may decide to tweak the timeline of announcements, or a few other things they've recommended. But check out the kit and see if it gets you inspired! I started planning this out two weeks ago for clients, so get moving!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Small Biz Tip: How to Publish and Unpublish a Facebook Page

Recently a student asked me if it was possible to work on their business Facebook page without anyone being able to see it. Yes absolutely! To publish or unpublish your page to the public, follow these steps:

1. Go to your page
2. Click "Edit Page" at the top of your admin panel
3. Select "Manage Permissions" from the drop down menu
4. Check the box next to "Page Visibility" to unpublish
5. Press "Save"


Friday, September 28, 2012

The Pinterest Black Hole

I am curious, how many people actually go back in and look at all their pins?

Pinterest reminds me of my "To Read" folder in my inbox and my "To Put Somewhere" folder on my desk.

I feel good about putting these things somewhere, but I never actually get to them.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Small Biz Tip: Text to LIKE on Facebook

News flash to me. You can text to "Like" a Facebook page. I've been giving my clients the code for customers to sign up for email marketing via text, but I've found out you can do this for Facebook too, and this is old news.

It just goes to show how much there is always to learn about social media marketing. . . it never ends people.

To do this, just text the word like and then the business page username to the number 32665 and you will become a subscriber to their page.

 
For example:
Like tracypetrucci to "32665"

This only works if the page has at least 25 fans and a user name. Plus, it will only work if your mobile phone is connected to Facebook from THIS page. 

Remember, you can have the Facebook App on your phone and get notifications, but it's still different than having the account connected to your mobile via the settings page from a computer, so check that out if anyone has problems.

This is a great tool for marketing on the go. If you meet someone at an event, during a networking mixer, or anywhere out and about, if they are interested in your business it's an easy to get them connected.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Good Facebook Cover Photo

I really like this Facebook cover photo by Arrowhead. Just wanted to share! They've integrated the profile picture into the cover photo and it makes a more seamless header image overall.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Small Biz Tip: Social Media Buttons

Many websites already have social media buttons on their home page, or possibly embedded on every page of their site. However if your business just recently started using social media, your website might be lacking these navigational helpers.

Quick tip: Always have your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blog, etc buttons where people can easily find them. This would be on your home page, your contact page, or even on the header or footer of every page on the site.

Be careful that the links actually work or are going to the correct places, especially if you are attempting to perform this upgrade yourself. And don't get carried away putting so many buttons that people don't even know where to go. Stick to your core accounts and the places you actually go, use, and stay up to date with.

There's no excuse anymore! Make it easy on your followers, friends, customers, and fans to stay in touch!

Friday, August 31, 2012

2012 Passat Road Trip Commercial

I am on vacation right now, a road trip in fact. We started the weekend off at a wedding in Malibu, worked our way up to San Francisco, camped up in the Redwoods at Jedediah Smith National Park, traveled up the Oregon coast, zipped (very slowly) over to Crater Lake, stayed a night in the super cute town of Ashland, and we're now visiting friends in Mt. Shasta.

We saw this commercial on our trip and we thought it was pretty funny! Especially because I love audio books and my husband hates them. Funny marketing VW, funny marketing.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Marketing Classes Coming Up

I will be teaching two courses this fall for small business owners and entrepreneurs. One is held in Poway on Monday nights from 6-8p starting Oct 1 and one is held in Solana Beach on Tuesday nights from 6:30-9p starting Sept 11.

The classes are ideal for business owners who need either an introduction to online marketing methods and social media, or those who have working knowledge but need to learn strategies and new techniques to achieve different results.

Class description:

Friday, August 3, 2012

How To Add A Pinterest Tab To Your Facebook Page

Thank you WooBox for the amazing and simple app that allows you to add a Pinterest tab (and actually all your pins too) to your Facebook page.

Just visit here http://woobox.com/pinterest and click Install Pinterest Tab and you can walk through the super simple steps in probably under one minute.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is It REALLY Spam?

Quick tip:

Be careful when marking SPAM in your inbox. Is it really spam, or are you just sick of seeing it, not sure where it came from, or forgot you signed up for it?

Come on, you know what real spam looks like. But when you rate an email as spam, it hurts the company's credibility, and sometimes the relationship with their email management system. If a company sends more emails than you'd like to receive, that does not qualify as spam.

Take a moment to see if there are options for which emails to receive and how often, or simply unsubscribe from them all. If you're getting tired of seeing them come in faster than you can read them, but don't want to unsubscribe, check your email settings and see if you can filter them through your inbox and into a separate folder to get to when you can.

On the flip side, as a business make sure you let people know how many emails they should be expecting when they sign up, and give them as many options as possible to help segment them into categories they care about.

Always be checking in on your email system's analytics to see which emails are getting unsubscribes and spam reports, and see if you can identify a trend to improve your open rates.

For me, it has been a spam-free summer!



Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pepsi's Live For Now Campaign

PepsiCo's Live For Now campaign has caught my attention finally. The splashy billboards and advertisements of young happy peeps having fun made me stop and think. . . but it wasn't really a good thought I had. It was more like, "Hey this is marketing that makes you go Hmmmm" and I'm not sure I like it.

According to Pepsi, "'Live for Now' embodies a mind-set that is true of Pepsi loyalists around the world, while still connecting with a large and growing number of consumers who share the same values." And while I don't doubt this is true, and the slogan probably positions them perfectly for their first global campaign, I still don't love it.

I know what you're thinking, "Who are YOU to bash a major marketing campaign for a company like PEPSI?" But isn't one of the major points of marketing and branding to evoke a certain feeling in the consumer? Well, this is the feeling I keep getting when I see a Pepsi ad.

I am a total supporter of BEING in the moment, or living in the moment. It's something I strive for all the time when I'm playing with my toddler, working on a project, or even doing laundry. But for me personally, Live For Now, when talking about soda, makes me think of the irresponsibility associated with living in the moment.

It's hard to take an ad campaign seriously that is essentially saying don't worry about the crap that's in soda, just live for now and pop open a Pepsi! Woot Woot!

With that being said, I do think it's a good ad campaign for them, considering the product they are selling, their goals, and the attitude their customers and prospective customers embody. And in all fairness, what marketing isn't trying to sell something that chances are, we probably don't need?

But it still makes me stop and go, "hmmm."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Networking and Lunching

Once again someone has introduced me to yet another amazing spot I didn't know about! Julie from Nosh San Diego and I met at a San Diego Chamber mixer last week. We got together for coffee to talk about my favorite subject, marketing!

She suggested Caffe Calabria in North Park. Needless to say, I ended up with a Peroni and a sandwich, and the desire to tell everyone I know all about it. I love when people suggest a location to meet up since I've found some of my favorite places this way. I have two other little secret spots to share with you from some previous meetings, but those can wait for another post.

Here's Julie from Nosh and her ancient day planner. Yes, she still uses a day planner. . .  I'm kind of jealous.

Check out her urban food tours, they sound like a lot of fun. Oh, and check out Caffe Calabria too!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Milano Coffee Co

My client suggested we meet at the Milano Coffee Co today and I am so glad she suggested it. There's a beautiful park outside with a huge fountain, a river walk, and lots of parking. Plus free wifi, comfy seats, and refills on coffee. You would have no idea you're in the middle of Mission Valley at this joint.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Facebook Marketing: One Hour A Day

I just went to a talk recently about Facebook Advertising. The speaker did a great job and I actually learned a couple things. And one of the best parts of the night? I won this book!

I'll give it a read and see if there's anything fabulous to share...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thank You Dear Clients

It's been a really tough year in my world, but things are about to change starting on July 1st. I wanted to say THANK YOU to my clients who have stuck by me through marriage, moving, and having a baby. Somehow I've managed to grow my business while growing a toddler, with lots of early mornings, late nights, and quick hi and goodbyes to my husband while he passes through between his two jobs and college classes.

People have said they don't know how we do it... and there have been times where I've wanted to answer that I'm barely hanging on. But after a year of discussions on the matter, my husband has decided to quit his day job, watch our 18 month old Olive, and I'm going to work full time, growing my business once again.

I think it's going to be quite an adventure, but we'll both finally be working more regular hours and can create some normalcy in our lives. I feel extremely blessed... Now let's just hope my husband learns how to cook for Olive's sake ;)


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Local Business: Diego & Son Printing

This post is part of my Small Business Saturday business profiling series.
 
Lordy, they're 40!
Recently I attended a San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce event which was held at Diego & Son Printing. What an absolute delight it was to tour the place. It's very impressive to say the least. . . not to mention it has the kind of story attached which is exactly why I love local businesses.

"A block away from Diego & Son Printing was an abandoned looking building with graffiti all over it. Betty Aguilera stopped by to talk to the muffler shop next to the abandoned building where they told her that it was not theirs and the owner of the building was Mr. Krasner who had his office down the street. Betty went over to his office and to ask if he needed help to paint the building because it was an eye sore on the community. He told her that he did not want to paint the building and if she was so concerned with how it looked that she should just buy the building.

She replied “I didn’t know it was for sale” and he said “it wasn’t but if you want to buy it I’ll sell it to you”. 

She immediately went to the shop to discuss this with Diego and Nicholas then went back to Mr. Krasner to let him know that they were interested in buying the building. They negotiated on a price and went to SBA for a loan and in 1986 they moved a block away to their new location."

When Betty and her husband retired in 2005 they gave 100% of the business to their children, Nicholas and Rebecca. Since then they've become a state of the art facility spanning 11,000 sq feet of pure printing bliss. You know what else? They are Forest Stewardship Council certified. My history as a sustainable retail buyer gives me the know how that this is a great thing to have! Congrats to them for being on the leading edge of printing with social responsibility.

My favorite thing about touring the facility was seeing the super old printing press set ups they still have. Seriously, beautiful!

Pic I took in 2012
Diego & Son Printing Grand Opening Party 1972. Betty and Diego Aguilera in front of their new press.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An Urban Garden

We live in San Diego in a very large apartment building. And although we may not be faced with as small and as expensive living standards as other cities like New York, we are making due with a small one bedroom. We let our daughter have the bedroom and we set up our living room like a studio. But the best part about our apartment is our huge patio.

I really want to grow my own food, and I considered renting a plot in a community garden. But let's be realistic, I run a business, take care of a toddler, and hardly see my husband at all. Now is just not the time.

So I set up my own patio garden, thanks to our good friend James Hubler for getting me started with this planter box. The planter box slants down so water can drain into a bucket. This is especially helpful for people who have balconies that may drip water.

This is my first time actually gardening, so we will see what happens. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I needed a hobby that was easier to do while having a toddler and working so much. The patio gets half sun and half shade all day, so this will be very experimental.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

SBS: Outdoor Travel Adventures

This post is part of my Small Business Saturday business profiling series.

Outdoor Travel Adventures is a woman owned business in Point Loma, CA. I've met with Wendy Pacofsky and I have to say, the vibe this organization puts out is one I stand behind! The company aims to really provide people with life enhancing experiences, and offers packages for honeymooners, families, divers, and most importantly, adventurers! Here's a little 411 on OTA.

 
How does a travel agency work? A lot of people don't actually know. . .

"When a client contacts us, they may or may not know what they want. We make a point to learn about their preferences, interests, time frame, budget, etc, so that we can recommend the right experience and meet/exceed expectations in the end…every trip should be the trip of a lifetime! We can typically assist with all aspects of the booking, including flights, accommodations, and adventures. Service fees are minimal, and usually apply only to air tickets. The rest of the arrangements are often at prices that are the same or better than what you can get elsewhere or by going direct to a resort…but you have the benefit of a US-based contact who knows the destinations, can vouch for the quality of various accommodations and tour companies, can help minimize the hassles of the planning process, can take care of payments to foreign countries, and can be your advocate in the event of unexpected travel disruptions.

I know I have had horrible experiences with international travel when I didn't have good referrals. How can people watch out for shady agencies?"When seeking out a reputable agency, one can look for a Seller of Travel number (in the state of California), which indicates that the agency is following proper protocol to operate within the law. It’s also a good idea to ask for references of satisfied customers and/or check review sites."

How has OTA changed since it was started in 96?

"Technology upgrades and economic changes have affected the travel industry a great deal, and have propelled our company into a new way of doing business. Gone are the days of communicating solely by fax and phone…email, Skype, and messaging make communication easy and instantaneous…and the internet puts a treasure trove of information at our fingertips. While many traditional storefront agencies have struggled over the years, our niche business has found its place by specializing in certain destinations and types of travel that require a certain level of expertise and support to the consumer, and constantly adapting to economic trends. Our balance of an online presence with a high level of customer service bridges that gap between the online processing sites and the traditional agency."

Have you found any benefits from being a woman owned/operated business?

"One of the most rewarding benefits is having other women see us live out our dreams of worldwide adventure travel, and become motivated to do the same for themselves. Life is too short for “later” or “someday”, or to be afraid to try something new…whether it’s a new activity, a strange food, or an exotic destination. If we can inspire other women to explore the world and find their inner adventurer, that is the greatest benefit of all!"

How have you used marketing or social media to help your business grow, or have you seen any benefit to it?

"Since the early days, we have seen the value of online marketing over traditional print marketing to reach more potential customers who are actively seeking an international adventure. We’ve also jumped in on the recent rage of flash deals, and found great success with moving volumes, increasing destination awareness, and getting our company name out to millions who wouldn’t have otherwise known about us. However, the flash deals are just one component in an overall marketing campaign. The social media platforms seem to give us an opportunity to stay connected with our clients and followers who are interested in international adventure travel, but we see social media as more of a relationship building opportunity as opposed to a direct sales tool. It’s an ever-changing environment, though!"

Do you still get to go on adventures today?

"Absolutely! We try to visit our key destinations on a regular basis, especially the South Pacific and Australasia. My last adventure was to the Cook Islands…scuba diving, snorkeling, quad biking, fine dining, and an island tattoo! In order to succeed, we need to be experts, and first-hand knowledge of a destination is invaluable. All in a day’s work!"

Sounds rough. I think if I could start over I might have tried for a career in travel! Is it too late to change professions? Thanks to Wendy for shedding some light on the travel agency industry.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

SBS: Small Business Saturday

American Express has made the annual Small Business Saturday a huge success, but why wait until one day a year to celebrate? Introducing a new blog series with a different spin on Small Biz Saturday. I will be posting a new profile or interview of a small business each week, just to spread the love around all year long.

Kicking off the series will be an interview with the locally woman owned business, Outdoor Travel Adventures. More to come on Saturday.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Shops At Target

I was really excited to see The Shops At Target get rolled out. Once again, Target sets themselves apart from other big box retailers (and even farther away from Wal-Mart) by adding in another sophisticated touch to their product mix.

As a supporter of independent and local businesses, this concept helps bridge the gap between large and small companies. Let's be honest, it's not like Target is saving the world by picking a few cool companies and blowing them up, but it's a thoughtful step in the right direction, and it should speak directly to Target's hip and somewhat mindful customers.

One thing that disappointed me was how The Shops are organized. From the commercial, you hear a business owner say, "This little nook of Polka Dot will be in Target stores around the country." I immediately think about how cool it is to have a little corner of Target set up to reflect these brands in each department they belong. However the products within each brand are split up and spread around the entire store, and don't quite have the same charm and appeal as if they were merchandised together.

For example, Privet House has a small end cap display in various areas of Target, and I think it takes away from the impact and their brand by splitting their products up.

Target does do an excellent job of signage, I give them that, but I just wish they kept the products within a brand all together in one area.

Has anyone else enjoyed The Shops?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Marketing On Birthdays

Last week was my birthday and I got tons of different media pertaining to my special day.

As a marketer, I don't just have reactions when I'm marketed to, I have reactions and then I analyze why they happened, and what could be done to alter them if the reactions were negative.

Timing
I think it's a great idea to send your customers a message on their birthday. However without proper execution, the efforts will be wasted. For example, one of my favorite yoga studios sent me an email saying,

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Floor Seat

This is my comfortable office chair while we move apartments. It's been a crazy few days, but Friday we will have faster internet and a new view. Already looking forward to next weekend!



Friday, April 27, 2012

Entrepreneurial Mom

I came home from a morning San Diego Chamber of Commerce meeting today, kicked off my shoes, and enjoyed the fact that as an entrepreneurial mom I have the best of both worlds.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Never Leave a Macbook Unattended

People always look at me funny when I carry my MacBook Pro to the bathroom. But I think anyone who doesn't take their computer with them when they get up is the strange one. I'm certainly not going to risk having such an expensive computer taken!

This is coming from someone who has had three Apple computers stolen. One Macbook from the airport, and an IMac and MacBook Pro from my home. There is NO WAY I would ever leave my computer unattended in a public place after such depressing events.

I'd like to recognize the Pt Loma Library as having one of the nicest bathrooms in the area, perfect for photographing on your way in or out with your computer.




Friday, April 20, 2012

Branding Yourself- Are You Interesting?

My new client is not the norm for me. He's a hardcore business man, a real estate investor to be exact. But when we were strategizing his new marketing plan, including his blog and its categories, I discovered something. . . outside of his business skills, this man is really interesting!

He took me outside and picked me two beautiful artichokes, an exotic papaya, swiss chard, kale, and soon to be, a pineapple. Turns out he's quite the organic gardener. He plays tennis, has awesome dogs, and holds a very extensive video collection of his scuba diving adventures.

When branding yourself, these kinds of things are golden opportunities to make strong and authentic connections with possible business partners. Adding a post about your latest scuba diving trip in between one about the real estate market and a recent remodel, can turn you from "just like everyone else" in your industry to a completely interesting and desirable candidate to get to know.

If you haven't noticed, businesses are relying more and more on real life, real time connections they can make with their audience. Take advantage of the ease and FUN of having a blog, and don't think you need to stick to your industry topics all of the time! If you're the face behind your business, go crazy. . . branding yourself is just as important as your business. Plus, if you ever change direction in your work, you'll likely have a strong following wherever you go. Here's a little bit more on the subject of getting personal in your blog.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Has Motherhood Replaced Sexism?

There is quite a buzz already about the newly published article, "Has Motherhood Replaced Sexism?" by KJ DELL'ANTONIA.

The article gets into the controversy of the just released book by Elisabeth Badinter, "The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines The Status of Women." I'll admit it seems pretty extreme from the sound of it, not your average moderation is key, middle of the road approach to life. Elisabeth writes about how women under no circumstance should leave the workplace, and the trend of parenting where mothers are so on-demand and hands on is setting back the progress of women. She believes too many are being influenced by the "modern natural parenting movement" - and somehow this is a bad thing?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How To Promote Your Business On Facebook Without Annoying Your Friends

If you're an entrepreneur with two Facebook pages, sometimes it can be hard to decide where to advertise yourself. Do you promote on your personal Facebook page, or your professional one? 

This problem is most commonly seen with those who grew their personal page first (musicians, people in the public eye, or even businesses who used the wrong format from the beginning) and have a split in their fans. Some of the friends are not fans, and some of the fans are not friends.

If you are thinking about creating a Facebook page for your business, but have already built up a rapport on your personal page, think hard about how to proceed. If you don't do a lot of self promotion, you might be ok to just keep adding friends as you have in the past with no need to change your strategy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mega Deal or Mega False Advertising?

Don't use false advertising. Nobody likes it. The definition of false advertising according to the legal dictionary online is:

"Any advertising or promotion that misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities or geographic origin of goods, services or commercial activities."

One of the biggest offenders of this is Babies R Us. I have seen this coupon over and over again, month after month, and I find it almost humorous at this point. 20% off ANY one baby item. Any in big, bold print.


However when you turn it over you find out:

EXCLUDES:
ALL toys, baby food, diapers, formula, wipes and then ANYTHING from any of the good baby brands.
Ameda, Baby Brezza, Baby Joger, BOB, Britax, Bugaboo, Cybex, ERGObaby, Mamas & Papas, Motherhood, Maternity, Nap Nanny, Pediped, Peg PĂ©rego, Phil & Teds, Robeez, Tommee Tippe, Under Armour, electronic learning toys, netbooks, tablets, video game hardware, video games, Apple products, FAO products, RobotGalaxy

Essentially you can choose from thousands of items, just as long as the item has nothing to do with babies or toys, of course.

How do they get away with this? No I really want to know, HOW DO THEY GET AWAY WITH THIS? This is the perfect example of marketing that makes me go, hhhmmm.

Friday, March 23, 2012

6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers

I just read an absolutely amazing article, and I almost threw it in the trash! I receive the top news in my industry to my email, and after scanning, picking & choosing, and reading many, I grew tired and decided to delete 6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers. Then I decided, what the heck let's have a look.

It reminded me of some of the things I was taught in a global leadership class in college, taught by my favorite professor Gary Oddou. Some of things he said have stayed with me all these years, and I always felt like he had the little gems of knowledge we need to question life and find true success. Although this is a relatively short article, it gets some of the same points across, at least revealing the tip of the iceberg to these little gems.

I want to highlight some of the best parts about it, but I can't decide, so I urge you to simply read it yourself. I also want to add, that I think although business leaders should possess the qualities written about, I think many of them can also be applied to the day to day or the "regular" Joe. The article can be found here, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Should Tourist Centric Businesses Bother With Customer Service?

Well, I know you know the answer to this... the answer is yes!

I just returned home from a week in Kauai, visiting friends and family. There is good coffee on the island of Kauai, and there are good coffee houses. But are all the coffee houses created equal? Definitely not.

From time to time, I discover a business who thinks since most of their sales come from tourists, they don't need to be as thorough with customer service and marketing. The employees may feel they will never see the people again, or that they don't need to bother making a good impression or building a rapport with their customers. This attitude could not be more damaging. Here are some reasons why a tourist centric business needs to be mindful of their actions:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Vacay

I've been working hard this week in preparation for a vacation that starts Monday.

As it so happens, I will still be working while away. . . but let's hope the work load is a little lighter while I soak up the sun (or rain) on my trip!


Monday, March 5, 2012

The Fuss Over Facebook Landing Tabs

When landing tabs and welcome pages started becoming popular on Facebook, I wasn't sold. I told my clients that honestly, I felt the default page of Facebook should be the wall, because that's where everything is happening. To land on a page that looks just like a website, with the whole corporate facade, just seemed to go against the idea of why you're using content driven social media in the first place.

I remember thinking the first thing I wanted to do when I landed on a welcome tab, was go to the wall anyway. I wanted to see what kind of activity was going on!

Of course as time went on, and studies and reports came out about how important a welcome landing tab was, I found myself conform a little, and I got used to seeing them and designing them. I always stayed true to the idea that they were not that great, but the numbers don't lie. . . they help conversation rates.

However the day has come where Facebook Timeline is taking over brand pages. No longer can your page send people to a default landing tab. That's right, so you better get back to making sure your wall looks engaging and interesting!

As a marketer I should be annoyed by this. But, my instincts always told me I didn't like it, so the change doesn't bother me that much. There are plenty of other changes that I don't care for however, but I'll save them for another day.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reduce Risk, Reap the Reward

The World Trade Research Institute introduces a webinar: Reduce Risk, Reap the Reward

No export deal can be considered successful until payment reaches your account but there are risks on both sides of the transaction.

In this one hour webinar, you will learn about the range of payment methods used in international transactions to reduce risk. This information will help you evaluate which is best for your business. You'll also learn about how the U.S. government provides support to for international transactions through export credit insurance and loan guarantees.


Thursday, March 8, 2012 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM (PT)
 
 
Attend


This one's for all you global people.

Friday, March 2, 2012

How Pinterest Is Helping The Green Movement

This is my latest article for Care 2:

Anyone who is online these days has probably heard of Pinterest. The social media site has become one of the fastest growing sharing platforms this year, allowing Internet surfers to “pin” and organize photos of things they like online.

You’ll find the usual inspirational quotes and phrases, women’s dream wedding ideas, new recipes, art, and trendy style, just to name a few. But what I really like about the site is the way it’s helping green and sustainable ideas become more accepted.

The users mainly pin photos of beautiful things, designs, or ideas they want to replicate.n And you better believe a huge percentage of these inspiring photos floating around are recycled products. In fact, users are creating more and more boards for their pins with titles such as “Eco-Friendly Design” or “Making a Difference.”

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

SEO Tip: 301 Redirect

Lately many of my clients have needed to set up a 301 redirect for their websites, and most of them had no idea what that meant. . . So what the heck is a 301 redirect and why should you care?

A 301 redirect is a way to forward one web address to another. People most commonly use this if they have changed their website address and want people who type in their old address to be permanently forwarded on to their new one. However there's another reason to consider a 301 redirect that many are not aware of.

Did you know that http://www.tracypetrucci.com is not the same thing as www.tracypetrucci.com, even though when you type them in they will take you to the same place? Search engines do not see these two as the same, which can hurt your ranking in search results.

For example, if both of these addresses have 25 inbound links, each will only rank according to the 25 links. But if the two were connected with a 301 redirect, the website would be ranking as having 50 inbound links, which is a little more desirable.

Want to find out if you need to set one up? My favorite quick and easy website to use is called Pear Analytics. No hassle, so signing up, just type in your website address and see what they spit back at you! By the way, it's likely there will be me many other things that come up which require updating for better SEO. Don't be overwhelmed, just handle one thing at a time. Pear Analytics is great too because they will prioritize your to-do list for you!

Now get to work. . .

Monday, February 20, 2012

Is Direct Mail Making A Comeback?

I have not designed a direct mail marketing item in years. I, like many marketers, dropped the archaic old method and started focusing on online marketing. Snail mail is expensive, a shot in the dark, and it's- starting to work again?

I've read a few studies which have found the response rates are double and tripling in regards to direct mail campaigns, as of late. But those studies are not what made me start questioning this. I have been receiving these in the mail, weekly (and in this case, in one day's delivery):


It's definitely not winning me over, because I get one every day, no joke. BUT recently they got my attention, finally. They sent a different shaped postcard, sort folded into a booklet. I opened it up, and there was this incredible deal for cable (which we don't currently have). It almost got me. Almost.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

FIDM Materials Conference

I went to the latest FIDM Materials Conference tonight, most specifically to see a speaker from Patagonia discuss the company's environmental moves.

You may not know it, but I'm pretty into sustainability. When I was a buyer for an eco-friendly lifestyle store, I saw my fair share of designers trying to pawn off their companies as "green". What I liked most about Elissa Loughman's presentation was the transparency.

Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
–Patagonia's Mission Statement

First and foremost, they want to build the best product. How do you do that and also claim to be making moves as a sustainable leader? Patagonia is doing great things, I'm really excited to delve into this deeper. Please stay tuned for my Care2 article on this subject. Trust me, it's really something.

Friday, February 10, 2012

To Use Or Not To Use People's Names In Email Marketing

Do you use your customer's names when you send them an email? Lately I've been coming to a few realizations about this technique, and I have a little rant for you this afternoon.

For the most part, I don't use people's names in my client's emails because the business does not always have the name available. Customers may sign up with a pad of paper in the store, and simply scribble a barely legible email address, or they may enter their email in a subscribe box that doesn't ask for a name. Whatever the reason may be, this happens often.

I don't see a problem with it because let's face it, we pretty much know when we are getting an email produced for more than our own private eyes. We are not fooling anyone by saying, "Dear Tracy" are we?

Monday, February 6, 2012

You Can't Win Them All

As I've been saying for a while now, you need to pick your battles in social media and marketing. There are so many outlets, so many places to be, and unless you have a HUGE marketing budget, you just can't do it all.

It's time to get real and realize some platforms are better suited for certain businesses, cut your losses, and deal with it.

A few months ago, I was using Pinterest for my business. Not to promote it, but as a way to keep a tab on things I wanted to write articles about, or marketing articles I wanted to read later. I'd been looking for something like this for a while, and it was not supposed to be looked at. And happily, nobody was.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Turning Little Into Big

The way things are moving in social media these days seems to be empowering the small, local, or independent designers and creative peeps who used to get stomped all over. It's a good trend.

New methods of online sharing can move around the photography, art, and creativity of people who would otherwise not be equipped to make such an impact.

Can you name this social media site? It's growing every day...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Time, Please Stop Ticking

Wow! Was it just me, or did January go by really, really fast? I have been working on some extra projects, and they are fun!

I am also tapping in to some new and less obvious marketing techniques that I hope can cut the clutter filling our online experience these days.

Well February, you're a short month, so it's time to pull out all the stops and be as productive as I can be. Time can't possibly keep moving at this accelerated rate, can it?




Monday, January 30, 2012

Postage Goes Up. . . Again

If you haven't heard by now, postage will be increasing again at the Post Office. Although many will be frustrated at this, some companies are finding a way to get on your good side through the annoyance.

Less than a year ago, Hallmark introduced postage paid cards, and I saw a lot of promotion for it over the holidays. My first reaction was, "What a good idea!" No digging around for stamps and little 1 cent additions, or fighting the crowds at the post office for holiday stamps.

I'm sure the cost is built in the card price, but still. . . it's the convenience that matters sometimes, right? Would you pay a little more for a postage paid, ready to go card?


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Local Event: In the Executive's Chair


The CSUSM College of Business Administration proudly presents Bill Walton, In the Executive's Chair. Join COBA to hear about Bill's experiences on and off the court, being a great leader and following a great leader (John Wooden), and the successes and failures along the way.

In the Executive's Chair is free to attend and open to the community. Please RSVP here if you would like to attend Bill Walton's presentation. Seating is limited and will all be first-come, first-served.

-Thought I'd pass this along to my San Diego colleagues who are eager to learn about leadership.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Down N Out

I've been sick for most of January this year. As soon as I start to feel better, something else gets me and I'm down again.

Yesterday I thought I was finally in the clear, but as night fell, and today approached, I find myself at square one again. I miss coffee, and I miss red wine. They just don't sound good when you're sick.

Posting will resume once I'm better. Until then. . . tea and tissues.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blogging: It's OK To Get Personal

Did you ever take a journalism class? I did, a long, long time ago in junior college. I actually really enjoyed it because it was straight forward, fact reporting. Almost. . . easy. Times have definitely changed, and today hard hitting news is just one of the sources of information that floods the net.

The popularity of blogging for business has taken off, but a repeating question I seem to encounter from my clients is, "How personal can I get on my blog?"

The answer is simple: As personal as you want. What is your business? Who are your customers? What is the goal of the blog? There are a few things you need to determine before you can set a blog strategy, but unless you are trying to compete with a major news network (and most small business bloggers are not) relax, you can be as personal as you feel comfortable! It's YOUR blog!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New PR Special

During January, I am giving my clients a month of free PR as a thank you/Happy New Year gift. It was not full blown PR of course, but just towards one of the sources that I use. So far it has resulted in some great exposure for them and a reminder to me that I love doing a little PR here and there!

I'm offering a special of $75.00/month for the service through May 2012.

Three times a day, Monday through Friday, I scan for pr opportunities for your business. You will be notified when you can submit a tip or product, and I will complete the submission for you once I gather the details from you.

Get in touch with me if you want to know more or get involved.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Big Idea: Funky Water Saving Lights

Environmental artist Tanya Clarke has made "Liquid Lights" with recycled pipes and taps as a reminder to turn off and reserve water in your home. When you buy one, 5 percent of the sale will go to water education charities.

It's obviously very industrial looking, so I'm not quite sure where it would fit in my house. But I can imagine it somewhere very cool, someday. I'll be doing a longer post on this concept soon for Care 2, so stay tuned.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Cost Per Click- Let Those Facebook Ads Run Wild!

There are two types of Facebook ads- Pay per click and pay per impression. Normally I am running both kinds at the same time for my clients. One reason is to judge their performance and then switch to the more cost effective method. But here is the thing, if you have pay per click ads running and nobody is clicking on them, let them run!

It's not costing you anything, and it's still free exposure. Let's use my favorite example of the ballet flat shoes again (see my post on choosing a good ad photo here). I see this ad every single time I'm online. I think I clicked on it once, but I didn't do anything after that.

However I see it over, and over, and over again. I'm memorizing their brand name and the message they are sending, and eventually it is going to stick. Eventually I might even buy the shoes, or tell someone I know about them when I am in a relevant conversation.

If your ads are not performing well with click through rates, try some new ones. But you don't necessarily need to delete the other ones either. All those impressions have a value all their own.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Game Mechanics: Rewards or Punishment?

There's a new app in town, and it's taking game mechanics to a whole new level.

Gympact just launched its iOS app, rewarding users for keeping their goals to work out each week. Well, that is if you keep those goals to begin with. If not, you're looking to pay a price.

Users set a goal for the week, plus a price in dollars they are willing to pay if they don't follow through. If they miss the goal, they pay. If they make it, they get a portion of the cash that everyone payed out when they missed. Participants have to check in for at least 30 minutes at the gym for it to even count. No drive by check ins!

Can we say brilliant? Seriously. At first I thought, "How ridiculous, I'm not going to PAY money if I miss the gym." But they added the reward of getting paid when you do keep your goals. The idea behind it came from a Harvard economics class when founders realized people are more motivated by the idea of loss than gain.

That is the fundamental difference in this type of reward app and the rest out there. And it's one that makes a lot of sense to me. I'm going to keep an eye on it and see how it develops before I decide if it is for me or not. Here's more of the article you can read for more info.