Effectively listening to your audience is essential

In marketing, it’s our job to communicate to our audience, inform them, and engage them, right? Yes, but there is more to it. As marketers, a large part of our job is listening.

Effectively listening to an audience is essential to the growth of any organization or business. It helps to cultivate relationships, build rapport, increase loyalty, and better direct development, leading to a stronger, more sustainable business. But, how do you listen effectively?

Continue reading to learn how to be an effective listener and why it will benefit your business.

Why you should effectively listen to your audience:

Build meaningful relationships-

Your audience and customers want to feel truly understood and heard. According to NewVoiceMedia, feeling unappreciated is the #1 reason customers switch away from products and services. By genuinely listening to your audience, you are shifting the communication from one-way to two-way, which promotes meaningful relationships.

Increase customer loyalty and retention-

Listening to your audience can help you create meaningful relationships, which can benefit your business in many ways. First, it helps your business increase customer loyalty and retention. When making a purchase or investment, 64% of people find the customer experience more important than price, according to Gartner. Your audience is more likely to remain loyal to your business if you listen to their feedback, and provide them with a relationship and experience that they value.

Build rapport that leads to referrals-

Another benefit of listening to your audience is building a rapport that leads to positive referrals. Customers are not afraid to share their business experiences with friends, family, and even strangers. With the unlimited reach granted by social media and the internet, a customer’s experience never goes unnoticed. According to Extole, 83% of customers are willing to refer after a positive experience with a business. The more you listen to your customers, the more they value the relationship with your business, which will make them more likely to refer others to your services or products.

Better direct your marketing efforts-

Many of us remember being told to listen with “ears open and mouths shut” so that we could learn in grade school. Although it may seem like a child’s lesson, it’s applicable to many aspects of life, including marketing. When you take the time to listen to your audience, you are able to learn more about them: their likes, dislikes, behaviors, and attitudes. This information can be used to better your marketing efforts, customizing them to your audience to get the best reaction and engagement. You can also implement direct suggestions or feedback from customers. This will help improve your business, cultivate meaningful relationships with your audience, and show that you care about their feedback.

How to effectively listen to your audience:

Take part in active listening-

First and foremost, it is important to understand the difference between listening and active listening. When someone chooses to actively listen, they focus on what the other person is saying and try to fully understand the other person’s point of view.

Active listening is essential when communicating with your audience because it helps to show that you are genuine and that you care about what your audience has to say. Actively listen by focusing on what your audience is communicating to you. If given the opportunity, repeat their communications back to them to ensure that you fully understand what they are saying. This will show your audience and customers that you are trustworthy and are invested in their ideas.

Participate in social listening-

Social media is a very important resource when it comes to effectively listening to your audience. Your audience will take to social media for a variety of reasons: to compliment, criticize, complain, or to ask for help. Because of this, social listening a very important thing for your organization or business to partake in.

According to Hootsuite, social listening is the process of monitoring social media platforms and channels for when anyone, especially your audience, mentions your brand, competitors, products, and more. By social listening, a business is able to gain insights into what their audience is thinking and understand what is being said about their brand.

Rely on analytics-

When businesses and organizations consult data, they are using trends in their audiences’ behavior to infer their audience wants, likes, dislikes, and needs. Analytics like website traffic, social media engagement rates, email open and click rates, CTA response, and many others are pieces of data that allow you to listen to what your audience wants.

Understanding the importance of analytics and using the data to listen to your audience will help your organization identify big-picture ideas that can influence other, more specific areas of your marketing strategy.

 

As shown, listening to your audience is vital to the success of your business or organization. But, listening takes time. PivotPath offers a wide range of services that work to effectively listen to audiences. Contact us today for a free consultation, so we can assist you in your listening efforts. PivotPath understands that listening leads to meaningful relationships, and meaningful relationships lead to growing success.

 

A Guide to Spring Marketing

When developing a spring marketing plan, you may notice that there is not a lot going on during this time of the year. With the passing of several major winter holidays and events, it may seem difficult to create clever and relevant marketing strategies for the spring. But, do not fear, this is where we come in! PivotPath is here to provide you with a detailed guide to marketing during the spring. Continue reading to uncover helpful tips and strategies when marketing this season.

Pick a relevant spring theme for your marketing campaign:

Springtime is associated with many things: growth, renewal, blooming flowers, spring cleaning, longer days, and rain. So, capitalize off of these associations, and make your marketing campaign spring-themed. Using a spring theme can help give direction to your content, and create a more cohesive and appealing campaign. For example, a non-profit food bank that is focusing on the theme of “spring cleaning” could have content that looks like this:

“Jump into spring cleaning by cleaning out your pantry! And when your pantry is organized and cleaned out, give back to your community by donating the food to us!”

Using spring colors, fonts, and photos will also help to create a cohesive marketing campaign. Bright, pastel colors like pinks, yellows, greens, and teals, are very popular in the spring! Use these colors along with floral graphics to create eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing content.

Incorporate contests/giveaways in your campaign:

Many businesses see spring as a lull in their marketing plan, but one way to rejuvenate a marketing plan is to incorporate contests and giveaways. Contests and giveaways, which are typically run on social media, can be a great way to engage and grow your audience.

A contest or giveaway usually incorporates rules, qualifications, and a prize/reward. Rules outline exactly what the viewer must do to enter. Including rules such as “tag a friend,” “comment and tag a friend,” or “share this post” help expand your brand’s reach and audience. Other rules like “follow our page” and “like this post” will boost your brand’s following and engagement. Most importantly, choose rules and qualifications that are the best for your business and the goals you hope to achieve.

When choosing a prize or reward, it is important to choose one that is desirable and relevant. Your prize should always reflect the effort required to win it. For example, if you ask viewers to fill out a long survey, enter personal information, and follow your social media accounts, you must choose a high-value prize to incentivize people to put in the effort. The prize or reward should also be relevant to your business. This will encourage continued interaction with your business and your products/services.

Research unique national or international holidays:

Spring can seem spiritless when compared to the busy winter holiday season. Use this opportunity to give your audience a reason to celebrate! Amidst the better known holidays in spring:

St. Patrick’s Day: March 17th
April Fools Day: April 1st
Easter: April 4th
Earth Day: April 22nd
Cinco de Mayo: May 5th
Mother’s Day: May 9th
Memorial Day: May 31st

…there are many unique holidays that your business can also mention when marketing! Conduct research on national or international holidays for each month, and choose which holidays are most applicable to your business. For example, here are some unique holidays in March:

Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day: March 1st
I Want You to be Happy Day: March 3rd
Employee Appreciation Day: March 5th
National Frozen Food Day: March 6th
International (Working) Women’s Day: March 8th
International Day of Awesomeness: March 10th
Plant a Flower Day: March 12th
National Pi Day: March 14th
Everything You Do is Right Day: March 16th
Awkward Moments Day: March 18th
International Day of Happiness: March 20th
National Goof Off Day: March 22nd
National Puppy Day: March 23rd
Make Up Your Own Holiday Day: March 26th
Something on a Stick Day: March 28th
National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day: March 29th

Your business can incorporate these holidays when crafting content, planning promotions, and creating contests. Implementing unique holidays into your marketing strategy will help you stand out, create excitement and celebration, and engage your audience.

Focus on your community and give back:

Because springtime is seen as a time for growth and renewal, many people associate the season with community events and giving back. When looking for marking opportunities, search on community groups and pages to get your business involved, visible, and to give back to your community.

Getting involved in community events can offer your brand an opportunity to interact directly with potential customers and heighten your brand awareness. Set up tables full of relevant swag, like branded fans on a hot day, to encourage people to get to know you, your business, and your products/services.

Another marketing strategy to increase visibility in your community is to give back. Consider devoting a day for your business to volunteer at a local charity. This will benefit your community and benefit your business by making your brand more recognizable and positively received.

When preparing for your spring marking plan, do not hesitate to reach out for help. PivotPath offers a wide range of services to help your business spring into the season. Contact us for a consultation today!

Why Branding Should Be the Focus of Your Social Media

In the world that we live in today, almost all businesses use social media channels to promote their brand. What are some social media channels you utilize that build your brand awareness? Are you using them effectively? Using social media to grow your business helps consumers remember you and your brand based on what you present to them. This is why understanding the tools of different social media platforms help you to focus on letting your audience know who you are and what your business stands for.

Social media is a vital tool to get the word out about your business.

Inevitably, social media is the heartbeat of our digital marketing world. Thus, marketers use social media to increase brand awareness and grow their consumer base at an accelerated rate. Your business thrives off what your customers perceive about you. That said, how you design and present yourself through social media is a key factor by how customers will remember your brand.

How can you use social media to know who’s interested in your brand?

First, it is important to establish your marketing goals before thinking too ahead of your social media presence. It is important to understand the “why” behind your social media platforms because this will  impact your overall brand. Here are some useful benefits of using social media.

  • Measures your key performance indicators (KPI).
  • Gives you a platform to connect to your growing audience.
  • Provides user-generated content.

These are a few tips on how social media can measure your consumer base as you execute your marketing goals. In addition, they help serve you to bring awareness of what is trending on the market.

How can you use social media to promote your brand?

Be active on social media.

When using social media, it is imperative that you are consistent with the content that you post. Posting on a daily basis tells your customers and audience that you are active and it makes you stand out from your competition. No one wants to follow a business that rarely posts content let alone interact with its consumers. Also, being active daily gives the opportunity for consumers to reach out through direct messaging. They can reach out on anything regarding their consumer needs/wants and questions about your products or services. Choosing to be attentive to your customers’ needs will help set you apart from your competitors.

Grow your consumer base by answering their questions on social media.

Focus on how your design attracts consumers.

What attracts a consumer, when scrolling through a business’s social media page is its design. Your design should ultimately represent what you are selling to your audience. It has been proclaimed by interior designers, artists, and color psychologists that color absolutely affects moods.

  • Does your color scheme match your brand’s values? 
  • What type of mood or emotions do you want to demonstrate to your brand? 
  • Does the design complement the mood of your social media page?

In short, these are a few questions to consider when forming the layout of your social media pages. Consider how your business’s values can influence your graphic designs on social media.

So, why should you focus your branding on social media platforms?

We live in a world where we are constantly connected to many different networks. In the business world, social media networks are a valuable asset to build on your communications with prospective buyers. In this case, using multiple social media platforms helps build your brand identity so that other networks notice your business.

Having a strong social media presence establishes credibility.

When a consumer is looking into buying anything of good quality, it is important that factors of trust are established between the business and consumer to influence the purchase of that product or service. That said, having a professional presence on social media establishes credibility on your end as a business.

Standing to your missions and values and actively participating in those factors are noticed by whom you are trying to reach. When posting content for your audience, remember that you are also representing your company’s values. So, everything that you demonstrate through your social media platforms represents your organization’s efforts and overall brand.

Having a strong social media presence makes your brand recognizable.

Today, some brands that are recognizable in social media are GoPro, Nike, and Spotify. They implement effective strategies on each of their social media platforms that influence their consumers’ future spending habits. Here are a few tips on how to make your brand more recognizable to various audiences:

  • Use multiple accounts for different audiences.
  • Do research on which platform is geared towards different age groups.
  • Choose one platform that can build on customer service.
  • Again, stay consistent with your social media accounts.
  • Tailor your tone and voice that fit different social media platforms.
Did you know that 81% of small and medium businesses use social media platforms?

Knowing the similarities and differences of each social media platform gives you strong awareness of whom you should reach that fit your buyer personas. In the world that we live in today, social media networks are one of the fastest-growing industries. It’s important that your business uses social media to gain a following network. We access information at our fingertips which revolutionizes how we perceive our networks. Posting sharable and valuable content helps your audience understand what you stand for. By doing so, it helps create lasting connections with your consumers that increase creative and effective strategies based on what your customers want out of your social media pages.

  • Check PivotPath’s services on how we can boost your social media branding.

Always strive to learn different effective marketing strategies that increase your brand awareness in an influential and impactful way. 

Thalia Rodriguez is a Communications major with a double minor in marketing and professional writing at Grand Canyon University. When she’s not practicing writing, she can be spending time with family and friends, going on hikes, or cooking delicious plant-based dishes. Check out her LinkedIn profile here to connect.

How Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) Improve Marketing?

Did you know that 23% of businesses use artificial intelligence (AI) into their services? AI is one of the greatest innovations in marketing while enabling the ability to quickly meet your customers’ needs.

AI improves user interaction and the personalized experience.

It is evident that AI provides many research opportunities that go beyond what the human mind can absorb. It seeks information about different marketing segments at a specific time range. Also, AI is the development of multiple computer systems that require human intelligence. It computes and navigates algorithms that foster problem-solving skills, visual perception, speech recognition, and translation between languages.

There are many benefits of AI and how it improves business-to-consumer (B2C) experience. AI allows businesses to market more effectively and efficiently. Here are a few points to consider:

  • AI helps businesses build their marketing strategies at a simpler yet effective rate.
  • It helps answer marketing’s most complex questions.
  • It serves customers to have more control over what they want to search on a web page.

Digital Platforms that Implement AI Boost the Marketing and User Experience

The internet has revolutionized society by enabling individuals to have access to unlimited amounts of information. This broadens the door to global communication and ultimately changing how consumers and businesses communicate. Before getting into the heart of AI, it is important to understand how digital platforms evolved marketing strategies.

In the business world, the internet has transformed distribution into an e-commerce industry. This is where people can easily navigate and purchase items online. This also includes recommendations, web design, and customer interaction when users are new to an e-commerce website.

How Can AI Increase User Experience (UX)?

In today’s digital world, capturing the attention of consumers is of the utmost importance. With the introduction of AI, marketers can create personalized experiences for potential leads. For example, on a business website, design teams can implement user experience (UX) technologies such as personalized landing pages or heat mapping.

AI is enhancing websites to become more valuable and more personal for users than ever before.  AI’s goal is to provide complete control for the user. Better control shows sharper preferences on social media platforms and the influence of their future spending choices.

The marketer has complete control over how an algorithm will advance their website’s tracking efforts.

AI goes beyond search history, saved sites, and the like of a post that will lead users to view similar posts. In addition, AI helps boost marketing by improving search engine optimization (SEO). By boosting SEO, it helps businesses target their buyer persona. Also, AI uses speech recognition and content recommendations to better personalize UX. Today, users see AI take over in many of their social media platforms. For instance, ads that correlate with their likes and/or interests on a certain topic or product of their choice is a branch of AI. There are a few points to consider in which AI is transforming how we see marketing-related topics.

1. AI Personalizes Pages and Recommendations

In this day and age, many consumers prefer to have a more personalized user experience. Rather than taking more time to search the web page for an answer, users want answers that are quick and reliable. AI is a useful tool for many well-known companies since it predicts the spending habits of its customers.

For example, Amazon uses AI to tailor specific preferences of a consumer based on their previous spending habits. This generating tool helps customers have a simpler and quicker browsing time when purchasing products.

  • So next time you are browsing on Amazon, your customized experience is all due to AI

Essentially, when marketers implement AI into their marketing strategy the end goal is to reach the needs of the user based on their preferences. 

2. AI Pursues Customer Interactions: Chat Rooms

Understanding the needs of your customers is vital for the productivity of your business. Chat rooms are more prevalent on many websites because it creates a more interactive and user-oriented experience. AI revolutionizes chat rooms that provide essential information to answer a user’s questions. AI pulls information through its installed algorithms that can provide automatic responses to FAQs.

Businesses can benefit from this tactic because it builds trust between the user and the website. For instance, the needs of a user include that they are being heard and taken into account to help their purchasing decisions on a website.

The bottom line is that your business needs to ensure a user’s trust. Your business can tailor an algorithm that provides helpful answers for users while assisting them in making essential purchasing decisions. 

How Does AI Improve Marketing Research?

AI improves marketing research by saving time and money by helping marketing researchers perform their jobs more efficiently. AI saves time by using algorithms to create a data analysis of consumer needs.

With generated natural-learning processes that are implemented in AI, marketing researchers have a sharper scope on their marketing research. By having a sharper scope, it provides a better understanding of who the target market is. When having sharper information about a certain segment, it helps marketers build better marketing strategies that best fit the segment’s needs.

AI quickens marketing research at an effective rate.

How Does AI Improve Pricing Strategy?

Also, it is important to note that AI helps predict dynamic pricing. This helps marketing researchers to understand better strategies when it comes to product pricing and placement that best fits their tailored persona. Knowing what users and consumers wish to buy is important to build your business brand and increase profit.

In order for AI to thrive in tomorrow’s leading innovation, it is important to understand how algorithms are either benefiting or hindering your marketing efforts. The goal of pursuing AI is to ensure that it will be a useful tool to advance customer experience and business relationships. With that in mind, implementing useful technology such as AI serves as a useful tool to strengthen your business’s goals to better your customers’ needs. 

Thalia Rodriguez is a Communications major with a double minor in marketing and professional writing at Grand Canyon University. When she’s not practicing writing, she can be spending time with family and friends, going on hikes, or cooking delicious plant-based dishes. Check out her LinkedIn profile here to connect.

Resources for Small Businesses

Hacks for your business.

If you have ideas but don’t know where to start, this guide is for you. As a small business owner, or someone interested in starting a small business, you probably know that the right resources are vital to your business. Some resources are easy to find while some require you to dig a little deeper. Here is a basic business startup resource guide.

Legal Know-How

At Incorporate.com, you can incorporate your business (i.e turn your business into a company formally recognized by the State it is incorporated in). They also offer a free guide to LLCs and corporations with an easy application process.

Another resource is Rocket Lawyer. They offer an easy application for incorporation. You can sign documents online, chat with lawyers by phone or email and get a 7-day free trial when you sign up to be a member.

Websites and Magazines

A community is important when starting a business. With online journals and magazines, you can find a community of startup owners like you and also find answers to the questions you have.

Forbes is a popular magazine but there are others like The Wall Street Journal: Small Business and the less popular, Startup Nation. Utilizing various sites and magazines will help you find different perspectives for your business.

Entrepreneur.com is tailored for small business owners and small business starters. It offers business plan guidelines, templates, interactive business planning tools, and online workshops and podcasts.

Government Resources

The Small Business Association’s (SBA) website is a must know when starting a business. It offers a lot of free guides and planning guidelines including a section that guides you on drafting your own business plan.

SCORE is an SBA resource partner. It offers one-on-one counseling, business tools and training programs to small business starters.

Hiring Personnel

According to an Entrepreneur article, community colleges are a great place to find the talent for your business. Besides just community colleges I believe any college would be a great place to find people to hire. Colleges are filled with people eager for experience in the work field. Colleges also offer certificate courses which can help your workers if they need some extra training. Whether it’s interns, part-time, or full-time workers, don’t forget to check out your local college.

Do you know of any resources that help small businesses? Share them in the comments below.

Lois Olowoyo is a telecommunication-production major at the University of Florida and an avid story lover. When she’s not writing a story of her own or acting one out, she can be found listening to, watching, or reading someone else’s story. You can learn more about her and view her work at loisolowoyo.wordpress.com. Check out her LinkedIn profile here.

10 Best Small Business Podcasts From the PivotPath Team

Podcasts have been around for sometime now, and are becoming an increasingly popular way to stay current and informed about the latest trends in business. Many entrepreneurs tune into podcasts because they are an easily accessible medium and allow the most optimal way to engage within a wider business network.

Over the years, more and more business influencers have entered into the world of podcasts, providing relatable guidance for startups and business owners seeking to combat their challenges with tangible solutions, takeaways and tips; often times providing knowledge based on previous business challenges of their own.

If you are looking for highly engaging and interesting podcasts, the Pivot Path team has come up with our Top 10 picks for you!

1. The Art of Hustle

This popular business podcast was created by Anthem Salgado, a small business coach and marketing guru. Each episode provides business advice and training designed to “untangle your to-do list and clear a pathway for new forward movement.”

2. Rise and Grind

Rise and Grind is hosted by one of the most prominent names in America’s businessworld today: Shark Tank presenter Daymond John. In each episode, John interviews a leading business figure on issues related to productivity, power and performance.

3. Marketing Over Coffee

This podcast is designed to help small businesses with marketing. Each episode provides tips on social media marketing, copywriting, SEO, affiliate and all things digital marketing. As the title suggests, “Marketing over Coffee’ is recorded in a coffee shop by hosts Christopher Penn and John Wall.

4. Entrepreneurs on Fire

Created and presented by John Lee Dumas, this award-winning podcast features John chatting with successful entrepreneurs on topics intended to guide those starting out in their journey as entrepreneurs.

5. Mixergy

Hosted by successful business owner and entrepreneur Andrew Warner, each show dissects a different aspect of running a business and features entrepreneurs who have found success and aims to inspire new entrepreneurs. Whether you only have a business idea or have an existing, stable enterprise, this show provides inspiration and actionable insights.

6. StartUp

The StartUp is hands down one of the most reputable podcasts in the world today. This popular business podcast is hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow. It focuses more on the realities of launching a startup and features the experts and professionals in various business sectors.

7. The Marketing Companion

If you are looking for a “fun” approach to podcasts, try this one hosted by the globally-recognized marketing author, consultant and blogger Mark Schaefer, alongside Tom Webster. This podcast is witty and provides a unique insight to all things marketing. They claim to be the “world’s most entertaining podcast” and we agree as keep us engaged while sharing new trends on how to improve business marketing strategies.

8. Startups for the Rest of Us

This popular podcast is hosted by the experienced web app professional and author Rob Walling and programmer analyst Mike Taber. This podcast helps technology-driven decision makers and designers improve launched software products in the market.

9. Hack to Start

Each week co-hosts Franco Varriano and Tyler Copeland interview guests on how they’ve “growth-hacked” their way to the top. The most popular show topics include innovations that successful startups have used to become reputable and world-renown.

10. Business Wars

If you enjoy listening to the inspirational stories on how small startups became brand leaders, this is the podcast for you. Business Wars host David Brown (former anchor of Marketplace) provides real insight on how brand giants like Netflix and Nike tackled business challenges, encouraging new entrepreneurs to overcome their own obstacles and “just keep swimming”.

No matter what your interests are – tips on pitching a business or marketing techniques for a nonprofit- there is definitely a podcast for you. If you’re searching for a new podcast to subscribe to, one of these shows will definitely provide content that’s in-depth, creative, intelligent, and most importantly, aimed to help you grow your business and tell your story.