The Empowered Buyers

It is interesting to see how the power is shifting from sellers to buyers, and how this changes marketing. We used to plan our shopping trips based on the stores’ opening hours, and seek professional services based on their schedules. In the past, most of the information available to us to make purchasing decisions came to us in the form of advertising, and perhaps an occasional review in the media. Nowadays, we have more options!

Let’s consider a few examples of how buyers are more empowered now than ever before:

  • As buyers of any product or service – for home or business – we have a multitude of sources to learn from and evaluate our decision. Reviews are available everywhere from Google, to Amazon, to social media.
  • We no longer have to wait for a store to open to learn about product or service offerings. Websites operate around the clock, and we can make purchases online for practically anything now. Furthermore, we expect sellers to respond to our queries 24/7.
  • Most of us are no longer surprised when our browser or social media feed presents us with topics or advertisements for things we have searched on a completely different website or app, or at another time. We have learned to accept this intrusion on our “private” browsing.
  • Referrals have changed too! You may not peek over the fence anymore to ask your neighbor about a lawyer or a plumber recommendation, but you probably do so on social media.
  • ‘Try before you buy’ in various forms has become commonplace. Most sellers willfully exchange or accept a return, and most professionals offer free consultations or advice to entice us into making a more meaningful commitment.

“Empowered buyers” does not mean powerless sellers. It means that successful businesses have adjusted their offerings to this new reality – Have you? You can tweak your operations, your processes, and your online behavior. You can actively influence your reputation online and control how you disseminate information to meet customers’ preferences. Waiting for customers to come to you, just because you’ve “built it”, is not an option anymore. You must actively and vigorously market yourself to find those who are most likely to benefit from what you have to offer.

At Fractional CMO & Marketing we help our clients do just that every day. If you want to get our ‘take’ on how it can be done for your business, we are only a phone call or an email away – We’ll be happy to help!

Duke Merhavy, MBA, Ph.D.
President & Chief Marketing Officer

What Is Fractional CMO & Marketing?

Fractional CMO & Marketing is ‘Your Outsource Marketing Department’ when you need expert marketing leadership and marketing services to accelerate growth and improve profitability, but you’re not quite ready to hire a full-time Chief Marketing Officer or your own marketing department. Our unique arrangement is the most efficient, innovative, and cost-effective formula for you. Click on the image to the left to watch a short video.

We Help When You Need To:

  • Generate more of the right kind of leads
  • Close more sales faster
  • Get repeat sales
  • Formulate a more effective message
  • Produce powerful sales tools

  • Establish brand awareness, recognition, and preference
  • Differentiate your brand from the competition
  • Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Develop lasting relationships with customers
  • Introduce new products

What You Should Know About Business Cards that Bateman and Allen Clearly Didn’t

By Ginger Mace, Editor and Producer

You don’t have to have your own memories of being a 1980s yuppie to appreciate the business card scene in the 2000 film adaptation of the book American Psycho. And, thankfully – much, much more thankfully – you need not be a serial killer to either.

These self-important, egotistical, one-upping narcissists might be young, upwardly-mobile, urban-dwelling VPs in Mergers and Acquisitions, but put either them or their respective business cards in a line, and you wouldn’t really see anything distinguishing or memorable among them. Your business card is a handheld impression that the people you give it to will use to help remember who you are – it helps to distinguish you and what you do from others. For this reason, subtle, inconsequential differences like ‘bone’ versus ‘eggshell’ just don’t cut it in the real world.

Definitely Who, What, and Where… Maybe When, Why, and How

A business card should have the basics of who you are, what you do, and where you do it (meaning the company name and location, and any relevant social media handles). QR codes can be used to link a website, email address, or phone number, and they can save space for a less cluttered feel. Depending on the type of organization or your position within it, you may want to include ‘when’ information. A 24/7 veterans crisis hotline or a club promoter are good examples here. When adding why you do what you do to a business card, the text is usually taken from the company’s slogan, tagline, or mission or vision statements. Including it might be more relevant in some industries or company cultures than others. How the business does what it does is probably better left for discussions, as you don’t want to give away information that may prevent a prospect from contacting you or hinder a sale from closing. However, you could drop a subtle hint that makes people want to find out more. No matter what, your business card needs to have the basics. There is a style that reflects a minimalistic look and feel, but we’ve seen cards that have no contact info or social media information. While someone could go out of their way to find it (probably?), why make it more complicated for them to reach out to you?

Materials and Special Features

Again, this depends on the industry and company, but for the most part, you can’t go wrong with a high-quality cardstock. Generally speaking, these cards are inexpensive, even an order of a few thousand can be printed and delivered within a few days to a week, and there are many websites you can order from (and at least one of them has a sale going on at any given time). A good quality, appropriate stock makes the business card thicker and sturdier, better able to make the long journey packaged in trade show materials, then laid out on the table in your booth, grabbed and put in your pocket before the nightly mixer, handed out during those social events, back into either your pocket or into someone else’s, then either the cycle starts again with you, or the card is extracted from the recipient’s pocket and your details entered into their contacts. That’s really a lot to go through for what’s basically a really thick piece of paper. And the corners – oh, those crumpled corners – we’ll talk about those in the next section.

Maybe cardstock doesn’t speak to you, and that’s fine because there are many other materials options out there. Just be ready to invest more money, and don’t expect to have an order of 1000 with a turnaround time of 3 days. Many organizations have some of these extra-special cards for certain events or prospects, and round out their supply with regular cardstock ones. Acrylic, wool, metal, coins, wood, leather, plastic, balloons, nail files, recycled materials, and cork are possibilities. Even clothespins and popsicle sticks can be used, and perhaps maybe your dry cleaner, local craft store, dessert shop, or seamstress will have them someday. Molds can be created to imprint chocolate with some business card information. While this, and other edible cards, are intriguing and would draw a lot of admirers, after the ‘cards’ are eaten (gone), what’s also gone is what little data about your organization fit onto that little chocolate bar or other snack. Be sure to arrange for transmitting your information to these people prior to the person leaving so you are certain they have it.

In addition to choosing a material, you’ll need to consider special features, and when applicable, where you want them to be on the card. Raised lettering, lamination, different coatings, rounded corners, die-cut shapes, triple-layers, oversized cards, edge coloring, back printing, metallic ink, and more options are available. Rounded corners are one of those simple additions that looks beautiful and expensive, holds up incredibly well over time if necessary, and makes it so there are no 90-degree corners that will bend (making the card look almost previously used) or poke anyone.

What Will or Can the Cards Be Used For

The most straightforward use of a business card is to share your contact information. In the two examples above – the hotline and marketing for a club – there is additional data that one would need when they are ready to use it (like making sure this particular hotline is the 24/7 one, and planning to go to the club Thursday night to get the special cover charge rate). They’ve been around for dozens of years, but magnetic business cards are still one of the most popular “special” cards.

Here are a few of the additional or unexpected uses we’ve personally seen for business cards:

  • Acrylic card with ‘spotlight’ magnifying (LASIK surgery practice)
  • Die-cut card with comb on lower edge (beauty supply company)
  • Pop-up cutouts of card owner’s image (design studio)
  • Card breaks apart, folds, and notches into a simple machine (design engineer)
  • Condom with contact info on wrapper (divorce mediator)
  • Bottle cap opener in center of card (beverage distributor)
  • Card is a map that folds down into a small square (maps and travel guides supplier)
  • Balloon printed with info, given out uninflated, exercises lungs to inflate (chest physician)
  • Scored so they can be used for a filter (cannabis/hemp industry)
We’ve really only just scratched the surface of options and considerations, but we hope we’ve got you thinking how your next design, or a special order for a big trade show or event coming up, might look. As part of our complimentary marketing needs assessment, we can take a look at your business cards, and make recommendations as part of an entire marketing strategy.

Podcast Series: Intro to Podcasts

By Ginger Mace, Editor and Producer

September 30th is International Podcast Day. In 2014, Steve Lee created the event to celebrate podcasting for educating and entertaining. Mr Lee is from Modern Life Podcast Network, which connects listeners with broadcasts of interest. Podcasts, in their simplest format, are audio broadcasts about a topic of interest, but they can be video as well. The broadcasts can also be live or pre-recorded (the latter offering the opportunity for edits). Their popularity has exploded in the past 10 years. Probably the biggest podcast news to date was announced by Joe Rogan in May 2020, who signed a $100 million multi-year deal for The Joe Rogan Experience to only appear on Spotify (disappearing from all other podcast networks on August 31, 2020).

Within the next few years, 1 million podcasts will be available for listening, publishing new episodes, and adding to the over 30 million ones currently ready for streaming. If you’re in the US, over the age of 12, and have a device to do so, there’s a 1 in 2 chance you’re listening to at least one podcast. 75% are eager to learn something new. 2 out of 3 tune in using a mobile device.

While podcasts can be money-making ventures, don’t expect Spotify to come knocking with your six-figure deal anytime soon. Rogan’s podcast has been on for over a decade, and it took a lot of work from everyone involved to build it into the powerhouse, megahit it is today. It is reasonable, however, to think a podcast could generate more business for your company, either through your own podcast or guesting on another one with some sort of connection to your industry or company. Sponsorships are also a possible way to generate income.

There are five main formats for podcasts:

  • Interviews – Podcast host conducts guest interviews for most of the content
  • Conversations – Host and co-host(s) go back-and-forth, banter, and have natural conversations (as opposed to Q&A-type discussions)
  • True Storytelling – Historical fact, technological breakthroughs, new discoveries, news stories, and other non-fiction information
  • Monologue – Podcast features the host only, speaking about any kind of topic, usually these are most successful if host’s personality, information delivery, and demeanor resonate with audiences
  • Theater – Akin to radio shows of the early 1900s, fictional stories created by the host, cast, or other writers.

Do you listen to podcasts? What have you learned from them? Have you ever considered hosting one for your company? Next month, we’ll discuss why you should consider starting a podcast.

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