Author Archives: John Foley

About John Foley

John Foley is the founder of Grow Socially (www.GrowSocially.com) which was founded in 2010 to help companies with their online marketing efforts, with a focus on social media. These services include discussing and creating marketing plans, strategies, tactics, and goals that align with each company’s needs. In addition to his role at Grow Socially, Mr. Foley serves a CEO for interlinkONE, an integrated multi-channel marketing web solutions company serving the print and fulfillment industries and marketing departments. As Chief Executive for the company, he is responsible for corporate vision, strategic alliances, and technical leadership. He is widely recognized for his visionary approach in designing internet marketing business applications that meet the changing needs of dynamic print and fulfillment service provider organizations. Mr. Foley holds a B.A. in Business Management and Computer Science from Lesley College. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the Mailing Fulfillment and Services Association (MFSA), National Association of Printing Leadership (NAPL), Printing Industries of America/Graphics Arts Technical Foundation (PIA/GATF), Printing Industries of New England (PINE), Boston Business Marketing Association (BMA), and was recently inducted into NAPL’s Soderstrom Society.

Storytelling in the Business World

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Recently I’ve been thinking about why stories are so important to the growth and development of an organization. How do stories have such a profound ability to influence the way we think, and why do they matter so much to a brand’s identity? I started listing what it is that draws me to a story, especially in business, and I narrowed it down to three key points, which are as follows:

  1. Stories are memorable. What I mean is that in today’s competitive world, organizations in the Graphics Arts industries need to stand out to their prospects. Any marketing or advertising professional will tell you that the best way to do this is to elicit emotions; why? Because feelings are what stay with a person long after a conversation takes place. If you’re talking to a potential customer about the value that your solutions bring to their print job, how do you ensure that they feel they need that value?
  2. Stories connect. Next, stories connect. They are embedded in our nature and they’re how we get to know one another both personally and professionally. Think about when you first start dating someone; do you spend that initial time together going through the chronology of your life, or do you tell relevant stories to connect with that other person? Those are the stories that show who you are and how you see the world around you. They give others insight and understanding as to who you really are; the same can be applied to your brand.
  3. Stories are relatable. Have you ever noticed when a huge national or global story hits, within a few days local news outlets are finding a way to relate that story back to the community they report for? That’s because stories are relatable. People are constantly trying to connect and relate to one another because it helps them to better understand the world around them. By telling stories about your brand, you are opening the door for a potential client to understand and relate to the solutions you provide.

The bottom line is that nobody wants to be sold anymore. If you’re looking to truly connect with prospects in today’s information savvy world, it’s vital to find interesting and subtle ways to make the value of your organization stand out, and stories are the best way to do just that. I’d love to hear your experience with storytelling in the business world; please share in the comments below!

4 Ways to Take Advantage of Local Marketing

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Are you tapping into the power of local marketing? Location-specific marketing is a marketing trend that should not be ignored. From enticing customers with offers, to tapping in to the community calendar for good local connections, adding the right local touches to your marketing builds engagement with your customers.

Here are four areas you can start implementing local color into your marketing today:

1. Mobile Advertising

Mobile marketing jives well with location specific marketing. The use of local “check in” sites and features on social networks means you can target customers in your local area to increase footfall. Location specific coupons and offers give customers a reason visit your brick-and-mortar business. Don’t stop there – you can also explore creating an app or embracing text messaging as a way to reach nearby customers. Don’t forget to remind your customers to check in by advertising your location specific credentials.

2. In-Store Promotions

In store promotions offer a lot of scope for location specific advertising. Of course, if you’re part of a chain you will be part of some nation-wide promotions too – location specific advertising should supplement your other materials, not replace them. But adding some tailored promotions can allow you to take advantage of your store or restaurant’s bestselling items, or tap in to the local calendar and special events.

3. Printed Materials

Printed materials often require a significant investment. Depending on your business you may not want to invest in different materials for different locations. But with some planning and a clear goal in mind, you can leverage local information in your printed materials to great advantage. Why not talk about your location and your history there in your brochure, or create a flier around a local event that you are tapping in to?

4. Social Media

Social media is wonderful for connecting with customers all over the world, but what about connecting with customers locally? Talking about local events or weighing in on local topics of interest on social media can foster a sense of connection with the local community. Just remember to keep your brand voice strong and share the information in a way that will inform or entertain, rather than sharing for the sake of it.

Location specific marketing can both connect you to your local community and help you take advantage of passing footfall to increase your trade. Start looking around at local life today and deciding how being part of it could be advantageous to your business

10 Ways to Get Creative with Content Marketing

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Boring, wordy blog posts and repetitive social media updates are a surefire way to get your content passed over. If your content is stale and redundant, why would customers and prospects come back for more? Trust me, I understand that coming up with great, image rich content when there’s so much going on is no easy task, especially when it feels like you’re aimlessly staring at a blank screen scratching to come up with anything for the next blog post or newsletter. So, the next time you find yourself out of ideas, try these ten tricks to kick start your creativity and inkjet new life into your content:

  1. I know this may seem redundant, but hang out on social media. Find out what your audience is talking about – what are their worries or concerns? Once you know where the conversation is at, you might find inspiration in your genuine input.
  2. Ask questions. If you’re not sure what to write next, ask customers or prospects who engage with your content what they’d like to see more of. Review your tools set in place to measure content, and give them more of what they’d like to read!
  3. Take a look at a viral piece of industry content and review an article. Pointing out what does and doesn’t work can help to not only get you in on the conversation, but also position you and your business as go-to thought leaders.
  4. Interview someone. Interviewing members of your business community, or a person who has insight in the field of a prominent vertical of yours will give you plenty to post about, and provide valuable information to your audience.
  5. Local journalists have this practice where they take a national story and relate it to their community, so why can’t you? Take a big story and make it relevant to your audience; this can also be something going on in pop culture, as long as you find a way to make it applicable. It will capture their attention and keep them wanting more!
  6. Brag a little. Go ahead, tell your viewers what you did right! A strong success story with an emphasis on learning new things will not only give them great insight into your business, but also show them what you can do.
  7. Explain a past mistake of others or maybe even your own, and share a lesson you’ve learned. Sharing this kind of information is a brave step that when done right, as it shows the human side of your business, which is relatable. Just be sure to cover something that was resolved in a positive, productive way – when you talk about past learning experiences, make sure you focus on present and future success.
  8. Curate content. List ten of your favorite blog posts in your industry, five must-see videos, or three books your customers and prospects should really look into. Provide a steady stream of curated content and soon enough your audience will look to you for great ideas.
  9. Put it out there and let people know that you need ideas. Let your coworkers know you’re out of content and ask them to freely send you over anything that crosses their minds, or ask them for guidelines. You might find their ideas will provide months worth of content, and you might open the door for someone in your office to show off their creativity.
  10. Create themes and stick to them! Often times I find it’s easier to come up with a post or an idea for a piece of content if it fits into a category. This can be a “How To” chain on the blog or a print video series on YouTube – the possibilities are endless!

Producing strong content is a skill, one you can improve on with practice. While you’re using these tips to gather ideas, make sure you take note of which ones you want to return to later. Don’t let your ideas get away – and use them to keep your content fresh.

4 Ways to Get More Followers on Twitter

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Having more followers on Twitter is a direct reflection on your success as a micro-blogger. The more followers you have, the louder the voice you have. Being personable, engaging, and having a personality can go a long way when trying to gain Twitter followers. Below are some important housekeeping tips to keep in mind when creating an appealing Twitter account.

  1. Keep a simple Twitter handle. First and foremost, keep a simple Twitter handle. Having a complicated handle can get difficult to search and confuse existing and potential followers. By doing this, it helps people easily remember who you are. Keep in mind that the first thing someone will see when they search you is your bio. Tell them about yourself and use hashtags; believe it or not, they still work in your bio. This is important to remember because when people are searching a random hashtag, your bio could pop up and they can realize that you offer value to what they are looking for.
  2. Start with your tweets. Are they real? Do they sound robotic? Are you asking questions? These questions are important to keep in mind. If you present monotone and dull posts, they will prevent people from following you and may even cause existing followers to unfollow you! Posting a link to an article with a long URL will not cut it; you need to inform the people why they want to click your link. Show them the value that you can bring, giving them a reason to follow you by providing them with knowledge and useful information. However, don’t forget to be a real person. Show that you have an engaging personality by posting pictures of what happens in your business as well as your personal life; and remember, don’t be afraid to be humorous every once in a while!
  3. Engage your audience and ask them questions. When someone feels as though their opinion matters, they feel like they are now of value to you, which they definitely are! Building a strong relationship with followers is important when trying to relay your company’s information. If you can get them to enjoy talking to you and like what you have to say, then the retweets will start. When you have followers essentially recommending you to their group of followers, that’s when you can get some real attraction.
  4. Take a break from the computer! Lastly, try getting off the computer. Not all advertising is done online and you can attain followers from printed materials. It is very important to put your Twitter handle on your printed materials such as your business cards or postcards for events. This is also one of the most powerful ways to get your name out there. Give them your Twitter handle directly so they know exactly how to find you!

By following these tips and making quick adjustments, you will have a successful Twitter account. Remember to give your followers a reason to follow you, by providing them with information that they can benefit from. Show who you really are in a professional way to excite your followers.

5 Tips to Increase Email Open Rates

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As every marketer knows, mastering email marketing is an ongoing process that is necessary for the success of your organization. Between sending out promotional email blasts, content marketing, and writing personal emails to customers and prospects, it has been proven to be a great way to connect and communicate with your audience. However, it does have some downfalls, especially if your businesses’ email open rates are low. Below are some helpful tips to consider when trying to improve your email open rates.

  1. Pay attention to the sender. When creating an email campaign, make sure you pay attention to who it is coming from. Your audience will be more likely to open an email if it’s coming from a name they recognize at your organization. With this in mind, make sure you don’t always use the same sender. It’s important to keep a variety so your target audience doesn’t assume every email from your CEO is spam.
  2. Entice your audience with a strong subject line. The first thing your audience will see is the subject line of the email, so make sure you have an intriguing one. Similar to who the email is coming from, it’s important to change up the subject lines depending on the goal of the email and the audience. Sometimes, it’s better to be more direct with what you’re offering in the email, whereas other times, you may want to keep it vague to convince a large group to open it. Keep in mind to not make the subject line sound too much like a sales pitch, as that’s a sure way to get your email sent to spam boxes or see an increase in unsubscriptions.
  3. Personalize the subject line occasionally. By adding a touch of personality to your email campaigns, starting with the subject line, it will increase your audience’s interest and likeability. By personalizing it with their first name from time to time, it shows that you are taking an interest and care about who you are contacting. It also gives a sense of importance and grabs their attention.
  4. Test out times. Is your audience on the east coast or west coast? Will they be more interested in what you’re offering during a work day or weekend? These are things you need to consider when sending out your emails. It’s important to A/B test the times you send your email campaigns, as well as the subject and senders, to see what they respond best to. Some organizations find success sending emails early in the morning before a hectic business day starts, whereas others have reported great results on the weekend. Unfortunately, there is no secret formula for timing your email blasts, so testing and learning your audience are vital.
  5. Remain consistent. After testing, it’s time to come up with a schedule for your email campaigns and stick to it. No one wants to receive 3-5 emails per day from the same business. Once you set a schedule, your audience will learn to expect your emails and be ready for them, and with the number of emails being sent every day to consumers from businesses of all kinds, it’s important to remember not to be overwhelming.

Keep in mind these five tips as you work on your email campaigns and you’ll be on your way to better open rates. If you have any questions, have additional tips, or need additional suggestions, please feel free to comment below – I’d love to hear!

5 Tips for Creating Must-Scan QR Codes

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Whether it’s for your business, or for a customer, QR codes are a great way to add value to the pieces you print. Why are QR codes so valuable to print? Because they provide a quick and convenient way to connect your customers and prospects with content, and to track their interaction with your marketing materials. Unfortunately, most of us don’t just scan QR codes out of curiosity, which is why it’s up to you to make your QR codes appealing and easy to scan. Follow these steps to make your QR codes irresistible:

Step 1

Have a plan – don’t just randomly use a QR code because everyone seems to be doing it. Know what your goal is – do you want to get traffic to a web page, get Facebook likes, share a promotional coupon, or get some information from your customers? Know your end destination before you create your QR code.

Step 2

Know your customers – what can you find out about the kind of data they access on their phones, or the QR codes they like to scan? Find out all you can so you can create a QR code campaign that fits well with your customers’ existing behavior.

Step 3

Make the code easy to scan – putting your QR code on a t shirt might look cool, but those wrinkles will get in the way! Make sure your QR code is in a location that is easy to scan – magazines, posters, mail, and packaging are popular places for QR codes. Your code should be the right size to scan easily with a mobile device, with enough white space around it.

Step 4

Give them a great destination – no matter how compelling your QR code campaign is, you’ll lose out on getting the results you want if your end destination is unappealing. QR codes will be scanned on a mobile device, so make sure your destination is mobile friendly and visually appealing.

Step 5

Call to action – a QR code needs a call to action. Make it easy for your customer to understand why they should scan your code with a simple enticing sentence. For example, “scan here for your 20% discount code” or “scan here to see why this new car is the best you’ll ever drive.”

QR codes are a straightforward and cost effective way of expanding your customers’ experience. Plan your QR codes carefully and use a strong call to action, then release them into the wild to do their work for you.

5 Tips to Manage Your Business’s Social Media

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Running social media for an organization, no matter what size, certainly can be difficult and time consuming. From making sure your posts go out on time to creating content that’s intriguing to your audience, it’s a challenge to succeed at all aspects of a social media campaign. Maintaining social media that is organized and personable, yet also professional, can be a difficult task, but by having a strategy you will find it a lot easier to manage.

In order to help you begin developing a social media strategy for your business, I’ve created a list of my top tips for managing social media campaigns that will allow your business to reach its goals and actually see results!

Learn how you can achieve the social success by downloading, “5 Tips to Manage Your Business’s Social Media,” free for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilink.me/5SMTips! Do you have any additional tips for social media management? I’d love to hear your feedback below!

4 Mobile Marketing Technologies for Printers

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To the average person mobile advancements are convenient, but to a marketer or advertiser, mobile is clutch. Over the past few years mobile media has made a lasting impression on sales for organizations of all different shapes and sizes. My point in 30 seconds or less? Mobile is important. No matter what your business or target audience, you need a mobile strategy if you want to stay (or get) on top.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the mobile marketing boom is that advertisers and marketers in all industries are adopting mobile practices and technologies that integrate into their already established markets. For example, in the world of print (ads, mail, packaging, and labels), several types of mobile marketing have become increasingly popular and left a momentous effect.

Here are a few types of mobile marketing technologies that printers throughout the world have been adding as part of their services and offerings. Keep in mind that offering a customer a direct mail campaign is great, but offering a direct mail campaign that has mobile components is a sure way to increase the life and success of a campaign.

Popular Mobile Technologies

SMS

Short Message Service, better known as SMS, has given new life to brand labels everywhere. In this day and age, consumers are hungry for information. Now with their mobile devices in their pockets, the world is at their fingertips.

Adding a SMS call to action on, for instance, a beer label, creates a new way to engage customers with the product and their mobile phone.

QR Codes

QR codes are a type of barcode that, when scanned by a mobile device’s camera, can link to a URL, email, phone number, and so on. Putting one of these on a print ad is an awesome way to bring a prospect from a physical piece of advertisement to a corresponding mobile part of that campaign. Remember, engaging customers on various channels and through multiple media sources (including mobile devices) is the best way to achieve marketing success.

There are several advantages of QR Codes, including creative branding and consumer interaction.

NFC

Near Field Communications (NFC) is a set of standards that allow smart devices to communicate with each other when they are in close proximity. This has resulted in several trends and new ways to integrate mobile in marketing.

AR

Augmented reality (AR) is basically the application of taking graphics from a media device and integrating them into real-world environments.

In conclusion, if you want to be successful and keep your marketing and services relevant, mobile matters. Mobile has completely integrated itself into our everyday lives, and is now the bridge we can call “opportunity” between customers and businesses.

Has your business had success with any other mobile marketing technologies? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below!

5 Mobile Marketing Tips

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Whether you’re in a large business or a small retail store, mobile marketing should play an important role in your marketing plan. With nearly 64% of American adults owning a smartphone of some kind, businesses are bound to take their marketing mobile. According to an eMarketer study, only five years ago, 2.1% of all digital search ad dollars were spent on mobile devices. That number increased to 22.1% in 2013, and is continually increasing, with expectations to be at 59% within the next two years. Making sure your business is up to date with the latest marketing trends is important, especially with the amount of competition in the marketplace. Below are five tips to help improve your mobile marketing.

  1. Make sure your website is responsive. With the major increase in the use of smartphones over the last couples of years, making sure your website is accessible and responsive to the average user is necessary in the business world. With so many customers using smartphones to shop online, having a well-organized website results in more sales, increases your search engine optimization, and improves your company’s reputation.
  2. Don’t have irrelevant content. When customers visit your company’s website or social media page, they want to read information that’s engaging and relevant. When posting content, make sure that each time you have a purpose. Businesses need to make sure that they are creating and sharing content that is aligned with the customer’s needs. If you’re getting bored reading it, chances are, your customer will be too!
  3. Time your communication. When contacting anyone, especially a potential client, you need to make sure that you are sending information at an appropriate time. Notifying someone through a mobile device is great way to connect but it means nothing if they receive the message too late. Leave enough time in between when you actually send it and when you want the customer to make a move.
  4. Have a strong call-to-action. The purpose of having a mobile-friendly site is to make it easier and more accessible for the user. Having a designated spot on your site for someone to purchase a product, contact your company, or receive more information will make it more convenient. They need to be able to quickly press the CTA button, because the more time they spend looking for details, the less interested they become.
  5. Don’t forget about desktop! Though mobile marketing is continually growing, consumers are constantly switching between devices, making your desktop website just as important. Pay attention to all aspects when designing your site and content, as all laptops, mobile devices, and tablets play a key role in having a successful business.

The digital environment is continually growing, making marketing on any mobile device important in your company’s marketing plan. In order to reach your targeted audience, you have to adapt to their preferences, while delivering relevant content. By using these five tips to help guide you, your chances on becoming a more successful and well developed business will rise.

Do you have any other mobile marketing tips to share? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below!

Integrated Marketing Software: A Must-Have for 2015

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No matter what type of industry, the ultimate goal is creating an organizational structure that is as efficient as possible. That’s where integrated marketing software comes in. Every print, mail, and fulfillment organization needs effective marketing that powerfully portrays their products or services, and captures their data and information in a central repository. However, with the threatening circumstances that many of these companies face today, most of these businesses don’t have the time, money, or resources needed to make this happen.

With integrated marketing:

  • Cut costs
  • Save time
  • Improve organization
  • Build relationships
  • Use ONE centralized solution to manage ALL of your business needs

To ensure future success for your business’s marketing efforts and learn more about what an integrated solution can do for your organization, please download “The Benefits of Integrated Marketing Software,” by clicking here!