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Online Presence: Trade Show, Networking Event & Cocktail Party Wrapped into One

As we look to 2021, anticipating what the future holds for us personally, socially and in business, one thing is for sure for business, more than ever before  – the importance of the brand online and leveraging online marketing.

Here are a few suggestions to help fine tune your online presence and marketing:

  • Google” your business.  It’s always good to check in every month or so, by putting the name of your business in Google (not your URL) and seeing what others see when they google your business name. Read all the descriptors for each page of your website that appears. Social media accounts should appear as well. Are all descriptors up to date? If there are reviews for your business, are there any you haven’t responded to? Whether a great review, or not so good, it is a good practice to stay engaged with consumers that take the time to review your business – not only to build a loyal client base, but, prospects who are reading reviews, take notice when a business cares enough to respond.
  • LinkedIn is the new trade show, networking event and cocktail party wrapped into one! If you are a #B2B organization or Non-Profit, this is your most important tool for marketing. In addition to making sure the LI company page is up to date with any new services or products, don’t neglect your personal profile. LI is where B2B purchasers go to research their options. The executives and team that go along with those services or products are as important, if not more, than the company page. A few pointers:
    • Headshot – Should be current, professional attire, and one-color background. Not a social shot with someone’s arm around your neck.
    • Headline – When a search is done on LI for people, the results show headshot and headline. Make sure the headline catches their attention. What not to have is your title, that is easily found in About and Experience. What should be found is a succinct one liner that tells them what you do, a differentiator.
    • Experience – Make the most of it, fill up the descriptor with terms your audience uses to find your businesses’ products or services. LI is the #1 search engine for B2B products and services.
    • POST, REACT, ENGAGE like you would if you were at an event or tradeshow. When posting, post content of value to build trust. The focus should be 80% value-add to build relationships. Most people don’t want to be sold to.

Contact Heidi O’Leska, Founder, Vintage Juice Brand Marketing, for a complimentary assessment of your online brand presence:


Facebook Advertising-99% Fail Rate

Facebook is one of the fastest growing ad networks – in fact, the number of advertisers (2 Million+) using Facebook has more than doubled in the last 18 months. (Source: Facebook has nearly countless ad targeting options (because of all the data they have collected about us).  All that being said, the average click-through rate is .90% less than 1% . That means advertising fails 99% of the time…

With all the targeting options, why isn’t that number better? .90% is equivalent to mass mailings to residents via snail mail that is MUCH less targeted. In the past, I’ve actually been a big proponent of FB advertising for my B2C clients, because it just seems like it should work! And, in some cases we’ve defied the odds, the most successful being a restaurant client, e.g., “food porn” photo, great discount, snow storm, advertising to residents within a few blocks of the restaurant – party! Full bar within an hour of the post/ad. But, it is not often all the stars align, especially for professional services, which falls in line with the less than 1% click through.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for staying in front of a very targeted (most profitable) audience on a consistent basis, so your product or services are top of mind. If you aren’t too concerned about click-through rate, views/impressions to a very targeted audience can be very high, and if the ad is super creative, it can go viral, and views are off the charts. For high ticket items (whether a high-end jeweler, cosmetic dentist or IT services), it’s a matter of ongoing advertising so that when the time is right for your audience, they visit or pick up the phone and start the conversation. However, it’s expensive to continually advertise.

So, what’s the right marketing approach to reach your target audience and get results? How do you select a restaurant, a dentist, an attorney or an IT consulting firm? By an ad? Most likely not. Most likely search. Whether from your phone, asking a trusted colleague, neighbor or friend. A key emphasis on trust. Your audience doesn’t want to be told, they want to discover, and once they discover your offering, they must trust it.

Enter marketing strategy… What is your most profitable target audiences’ biggest need or pain point as it relates to your product or service? This is where many organizations fail. They don’t take the time to find out real needs, and they don’t develop their offering and messaging to a point that truly differentiates them from the competition. Instead, they think spending more money on advertising will bring in more people. And, they don’t understand why it doesn’t work. We see it over and over.

Communicate the benefit of your offering, how it solves their problem and how truly unique it is from competitors. For your audience to believe your claims, it must be supported with customer testimonials and / or case studies. This is where Facebook is golden for B2C. Non-promotional, daily posts on your business page, to current customers who already love and trust you is the first prong in continued success. If they have a good experience, they are going to share with a colleague, friend or neighbor. It’s the perfect platform for sharing the love!

Organic Search. Content is still king and so is Google. Content that is fun, informative and build’s trust. Content that uses words/terms that people are using to search for your product or services (do the research, don’t assume or guess what those terms are). For B2C, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ Business page and blogs. For B2B, LinkedIn, Blogs, Google+ and articles in trade publications – online. Google likes activity, these platforms are active. And, Google likes when you play in their sand box (Google+ is imperative to your organic search optimization). If you are using the right terms, and posting often, you will be found. Just make sure when your prospect gets there, they like what they find!

Cha, cha change… Facebook is at it again. Time to rethink your strategy.


Social Media Examiner: Michael Stelzner

Facebook’s Head of News Feed (Adam Mosseri) outlined the coming changes. Adam also made a public interview and posted in media groups.

Some refer to this change as Facebook Apocalypse and others as Facebook Zero.

What I will bring you below are the facts, as presented by Adam.

Fact 1: Adam said, “space in News Feed is limited.”

Fact 2: “We’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses,” he said.

Fact 3: “Pages may see their reach, video watch time, and referral traffic decrease,” said Adam.

My opinion: It’s been my experience that historically they have said, “may or may not.” I interpret this may as a “will.”

Fact 4: “Over the next few months, we’ll be making updates to ranking,” said Adam.

Mark clarified, “We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed.”

My opinion: I’ve heard reports from people in our community that they are already starting to see a different type of experience. I anticipate a wide scale change as early as February.

So here is what we know so far:

#1: Video will get less watch time. Inference: you’ll see less video in the News Feed.

#2: Links to external pages will get less visibility. Thus, they won’t be showing as many links to blog posts, news, and so on.

Now at this point, you might be wondering, “are you kidding me?”  You might be thinking, “how could it get any worse?”

I have more data to share. Here we go.

#3: ALL posts from people and pages will be impacted. In Facebook’s News, Media, & Publishing group (which I belong to), Adam said the following, “The update applies to all post types, from pages and people.”

So if you’ve been thinking, “I use my personal profile. This doesn’t apply to me,” think again.

If you’re thinking of starting a group and hoping that will allow your posts to be seen, that’s not the solution. Those are still posts from people and the content itself is still subject to the News Feed algorithm.

So what are the important ranking factors?

Facebook will “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactionsbetween people,” said Adam.

In a recent Wired Magazine exclusive interview, Adam said, “we’re going to be (weighing) long comments more than short comments,” and that “comments are more valuable than likes.”

So, actual “meaty” dialog between people (not pages and people, see the language distinction) is critical for News Feed exposure.

Now to video. Adam said, “video is, primarily, a passive experience. You tend to just sit back and watch it. And while you’re watching it, you’re not usually liking, or commenting, or speaking with friends.”

I believe this means a lot fewer shorter videos, a lot fewer Tasty-style how-to videos, and a lot fewer video animations.

At this point it should be very clear that your strategy has got to change.So what are the important ranking factors?

Facebook will “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactionsbetween people,” said Adam.

In a recent Wired Magazine exclusive interview, Adam said, “we’re going to be (weighing) long comments more than short comments,” and that “comments are more valuable than likes.”

So, actual “meaty” dialog between people (not pages and people, see the language distinction) is critical for News Feed exposure.

Now to video. Adam said, “video is, primarily, a passive experience. You tend to just sit back and watch it. And while you’re watching it, you’re not usually liking, or commenting, or speaking with friends.”

I believe this means a lot fewer shorter videos, a lot fewer Tasty-style how-to videos, and a lot fewer video animations.

At this point it should be very clear that your strategy has got to change.

I’m working my keynote slides for Social Media Marketing World 2018 and have given a LOT of thought to what the next steps are for us marketers.

I’m going to lay out some of my first ideas below:

Step 1: Scale back your frequency of posts. Less is more here.

Step 2: Figure out how to create content that will get people talking to EACH OTHER, not just you.

Step 3: Up your live video game plan.

Adam said, “live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook–in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”

Step 4: Avoid engagement bait. These are posts that encourage people to comment. Adam said Facebook will “demote these posts in News Feed.”

Step 5: Master Facebook ads: This will be one of the only reliable ways you’ll be able to drive traffic off of Facebook.

Step 6: Learn Messenger Chatbots: Moving conversations into Messenger and using bots will be a huge trend that will allow you to nurture leads and sell.

A lot of the above steps will likely require a complete shift in your current Facebook strategy. If it helps, share this email with your boss, clients, or friends.

B2B Branding & Marketing – Digital Transformation Effects More Than IT

As digital transformation disrupts how most companies do business e.g., forcing major technology changes, new business processes and new challenges for HR – it’s imperative that the brand and marketing succinctly and boldly communicates these changes – whether B2B or B2C Branding and Marketing.

A few brand related questions to consider as you invest in new technologies, processes and people to stay ahead of the competition, better serve your customers and improve communication between all stakeholders :

  1. Does your current brand reflect the benefits of the new and improved business? Ask your customers, ask an outsider.
  2. Have you determined the primary (most profitable) target audience that will benefit?
  3. What is your marketing plan to introduce the new offering to that audience – current clients/customers as well as inactive clients that might return?
  4. What new audiences will your brand now resonate with ?
  5. If one of the new audiences are Millennials, they are researchers, want all information before making a purchase decision. Do you have a mobile website or better yet, a mobile app to provide that information to them?
  6. Does your brand appeal to them? A smart daring message and sharp graphics?
  7. How are your competitors communicating changes to their infrastructure? Better yet, what aren’t they saying? There’s your opportunity.
  8. What new marketing opportunities does this digital age provide?
  9. Is your website optimized for the new offering – i.e., content and search engine optimization?

Change isn’t a bad thing…

In answering the above questions, you might determine your logo, tagline, key messaging no longer supports your new approach. Don’t think of it as hurdle, it’s the perfect opportunity to relaunch your brand to current customers, gives you a real reason to contact them and introduce your new and improved level of service. And, it adds substance to reaching out to media. A rebrand forces executives to come together and articulate key differentiators, how to communicate the benefit of them, and identify new marketing tools to reach new audiences.

Learn More About Re-Branding Steps

Exactly Who is Your Competition? Key to standing out in a crowded market…

As part of a brand or marketing analysis, it is very important to determine:

  • what your competitors are communicating online and offline
  • what their customers are saying about them
  • and most importantly, what competitors aren’t saying that your business does well

The Real Competition – A traditional competitive analysis, detailed above, is the baseline. It is good to keep an eye on similar products/brands. However, the building blocks to ongoing marketing and product/service improvements should not be based on what competing brands are doing. Instead, day in and day out, concentrate on your real competition: every “obstacle your customer encounters along their journey to solve the human, high-level problem your company exists to solve.” (Harvard Business Review, Competition, Obsess Over Your Customers, Not Your Rivals by Tara-Nicholle Nelson).

As mentioned in the Harvard article, focusing on competitive products/services often leads to “me-too” products which puts you into a pricing war (i.e., commodity) or could potentially be pointing you down a path of creating and pushing an offering that customers might not have liked that much in the first place!

You and your team’s efforts should be spent truly understanding who your most profitable target audience is, their needs and desires, and the obstacles your company solves for them. That audience may or may not be the majority of your current customer base. Maybe there is a problem that exists that your product or service solves, that is not being communicated?

Research is key, and it is at your fingertips.  For example:

  • IT Consulting Company? Start a LinkedIn group, asking CIOs and CTOs to join the conversation around the topic of hurdles to overcome to maximize ROI in technology and services.
  • Medical practice? Read the Yelp and Google reviews for your practice and similar practices, take notice of trends the reviews might highlight, i.e., we love going to Dr. Smith, she accommodates our schedule with weekend and early morning appointments.
  • Retail? Talk to your customers… Give them products they don’t normally buy to try in return for a 10 minute conversation with them after they use the product. What did they love, what didn’t they like and most importantly, what problem did it solve?

Don’t go with the status quo. Allow time to take a step back, analyze the real needs of your audience as compared to your passion. Why did you start your organization ? Are you being true to your “why”? It is often the intersection of the business owner’s why and the real needs of your audience (problems solved) that bring profitability and most importantly, joy in what you do. It matters.

Spinning Your Wheels on Marketing?

More than likely, it’s not the marketing, it’s the message. 

I often hear from clients, we spend tons of money on direct mail (or print advertising or social media) and results are less than 1% ROI. No bueno.

So, what’s the answer? 

  • What’s your Why? People don’t buy what you do, but instead, why you do it. They want to be inspired, appeal to their gut feeling/intuition.
  • Pinpoint what your business does differently and better than competition (based on your why).
  • Define what audience is eager for that offering, and within that audience, which is the most profitable
  • Create messaging around that offering that is bold, creative – a true stop them in their tracks and make them think, want to learn more
  •  Research and develop a marketing plan to deliver that message or series of messages to your most profitable target audience using the communication tools they are most likely to use.

Differentiators – Best Quality, Best Service, Lowest Prices are NOT differentiators, most people say that, most customers don’t believe it until they experience your product or service, don’t waste time saying it, especially in the 8-10 seconds you have to first catch their attention. What’s the true differentiator? The intersection between what competitors are NOT saying and the true, genuine WHY you started your business. I facilitate messaging workshops with business owners and executives that includes taking an objective look at what competitors are saying and compare that to the true WHY of the organization, as well as its weaknesses. The methodology always results in a differentiator resonates – as well as creative ideas to communicate it.

Most Profitable Target Audience Your business cannot be all things to all people, unless you have a boatload of money to spend (throw away). The most successful businesses start with one very specific target audience and offering. Reaching 10,000 high-income residents within 1-2 miles of your business with a message that appeals to their lifestyle has resulted in 30% response rates vs. a generic message to the entire population with less than 1% return. Even if 1% of a larger population nets the same number of individuals reached as the 30% of 10,000 (3,000) a generic message to all falls flat, resulting in:

  • lower sales per person
  • one-time customers, never to return
  • often, bad online reviews. Why? They don’t understand your WHY, they aren’t your audience.

As part of our methodology we conduct focus groups and one-on-one interviews with our clients’ various audiences. With data in hand, we narrow down the most profitable audiences and develop personas for each, as the go-to for all new marketing initiatives.

Bold Messaging  – Don’t wimp out. And, don’t try to develop it yourself. Shameless plug, but, creative agencies are objective and well, creative!

Targeted Marketing – With your most profitable target audience in mind…

  • Millennials? – Facebook and even your website is a thing of the past to Millennials, concentrate on Instagram and getting great Yelp and Google reviews. Don’t even consider print advertising.
  • Baby Boomers? – Facebook, Facebook, Facebook – the MOST targeted advertising available. Print in a local magazine that is well respected by residents, with your BOLD message, remember, don’t whimp out
  • Generation X or Y – A combination of the above, dependent on your product and what is available in your region.

Interested in a 30 minute, complimentary assessment of your brand? Call me (Heidi O’Leska, President, Marketing Strategist, Vintage Juice Brand Marketing), 703 922 2442.

Branding & Marketing Agency based in Alexandria VA.

Take the Funnel Cake. Leave the Sales Funnel.

Rethink the funnel.

Customer intent is the winning ticket.

I am in complete agreement with the excerpt below from Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google. Instead of pushing buyers through a metaphorical funnel, view prospects and customers in the four stages of their “intent.” See, Think, Do, Care. It takes more strategy, and more custom marketing (and thus resources), but I have seen this type of direct marketing to a very targeted audience, time and time again, work very well.

The “See” cluster is the largest addressable qualified audience. For example, Kaushik described a financial institution whose “See” cluster (its broadest target audience) was people who had responsible spending habits and complex financial needs. This financial institution defined the “Think” cluster as people who are gainfully employed and have had a life-changing event. In the “Do” cluster are people in the later stages of financial decision. And in the “Care” cluster are not just customers but loyal customers who have been with the financial institution for more than two years. Ultimately, Kaushik said visualizing potential buyers by their intent, which we can discern by their online behavior, is a far superior approach than the traditional strategy of viewing prospects by their demographics.

Application. To reach the warmest potential client i.e., the “Do” cluster, based on previous client intent/habits, what is driving the fact they are in the later stages of a financial decision? Marriage, new job, baby on the way? If so, you can target them with value-add posts on Facebook, by selecting behaviors, i.e., maybe they are signing up for Lamaze classes, maybe they are searching for the best schools… a timely post about saving for your child’s education would resonate and if creative and eye catching, it is a good probability the post will cause action.

Take the funnel cake. Just leave the sales funnel.

If Disney can’t get its messaging right…

“Disneyland.” “The Happiest place on earth…?”

1992 – Disney opens Disneyland Paris, their first theme park in Europe. They advertised how amazing the rides were, they sold the roller coasters as thrill rides…  But when the thrill seekers showed up to the park, they left pretty disappointed.

Have you been to It’s a Small World…?

phone-1160876_640When the park was at the brink of closing, they realized what their problem was.

It wasn’t the park.

It wasn’t the market.

It was the offer.

They’d been trying to sell the park as a thrill-seekers paradise…  And forgotten that people don’t go to Disneyland for the rides.

They go for the Disney Magic.  They go for the experience they can have when they’re in the park. The wonder and awe a child has when they meet their favorite character.  So they changed the “offer,” and customers flocked back to the park.

Disney parks alone are a $15 BILLION per year industry. And if THEY need to focus on getting their offer right, how much more important is it for YOU to make sure you get your offer right the first time? More importantly, your messaging about your brand from the start?


Thank you Zach Johnson from for the story!

Using #LinkedIn to grow your business

Two of my best clients are a result of LinkedIn, and not by me asking them for business…

I own a branding and marketing agency. I have “optimized” my profile to include terms that potential clients would use to find my services. Optimizing includes making sure titleLinkedInScreen shots are  NOT “President” or “Owner”, instead “Marketing Strategist” and “Branding Strategist”. Who searches for “owner”? It includes optimizing all titles for past jobs, as well as filling out each job description paying careful attention to using marketing, brand development, B2B, B2C, etc.

Connect, connect, connect. But NEVER the generic invite provided by LinkedIn. Take the time to discover the connections you have in common and most importantly, determine what would be of value to the person you want to connect with. Is there an event you can invite the person to that would benefit that person/business? Is there an article that would be of interest to the individual? Is there a person you can introduce to help them grow their business? Connecting in this way, makes you memorable. Ask one of the people you have in common if you can use them as a reference.

Stay in touch, again, value add. Updates at least 3 times a week, with the 80/20 rule. 80% value add, only 20% or even less, promotional. I offer articles on marketing and branding, business tips to help grow your business. On occasion, I post the launch of a new client’s website – as promotional as I get. If your updates are of great value, tips they can use in their business, your updates will get red, liked, commented on, and more eyes will be on them.

Write recommendations whenever possible. It not only helps your colleagues/connections, it is a great way to stay in front of them, more often than not, if they’ve worked with you, they will recommend you as well. Next time someone asks them for a great “xyz”, if you’ve just given them a glowing recommendation, most likely, you will be top of mind for the referral. The more recommendations you have, especially ones that use the terms/services prospective customers are searching for, the higher you will be in the search.

Join a group that is mostly your target audience (as opposed to colleagues). Be active, start conversations, ask questions and make sure they are educational/informational/help grow their business. Position yourself as the authority on what you do, and give, give, give. Don’t join groups that are full of posts with no discussions, be diligent, check out how engaged the group is, are they serious about business? You only have so much time to spend on LinkedIn each week, make it worth your while.

One of my best clients (web design firm in Boston) found me on LinkedIn searching for a marketing strategist in the DC area. My profile was well optimized for the term, and I came up at the top. Another client is a good friend from church, that moved to North Carolina. I never talk about work at church. After a year of getting my updates, when he started an IT consulting company, I was top of mind to call to brand his new firm.

I feel LinkedIn is all about relationships and helping your colleagues. Not a big fan of advertising services to prospects that you have not earned their trust. Advertising for employees is beneficial of course!