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Competing with Amazon for B2C Businesses


competing with for B2C businessesFree shipping. Deep discounts. Virtually unlimited product selection. Going toe to toe with the likes of around anything to do with price or delivery is next to impossible. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways your B2C ecommerce website can compete.

Packaging inserts are a great way to build brand awareness and generate revenue and something I’ve written extensively about in the past including this post on delivering exceptional customer service and this post on using product packaging to create amazing customer experiences. Here, we’re going to disect another really effective example from Tory Burch that will give you tangle ideas and tactics that will help you deliver something current and prospective customers will love—something they can’t get from Amazon.

Anytime you shop online, your order typically comes in a bag in a box. Am I right? Every once in a while, you might find some  inserts pushing other products or services but nothing that’s going to get you excited about your order—or make you more likely to keep coming back.

Instead of trying to compete on price or delivery, focus on customer experience. In this case--what happens from the second they get your package until they’re holding your product in their hands., a site for women’s designer apparel, definitely has packaging inserts figured out. When you open the cardboard box, the inside is branded with the Tory Burch logo. A nice touch. And a great way to reinforce brand awareness.

But what I love most about their packaging is the notecard embossed with their logo that starts by saying “Thank You.” Such a simple thing. But something I know I hardly ever see when I order anything online. The note goes on to say they “hope you found exactly what you were looking for” and “that you love it.”

ecommerce packaging insert example

Let that marinate for a second. They could’ve just thrown a catalog in the box pushing some of their other products. But they didn’t. Their messaging was about 1) saying thanks and 2) making sure you found what you were looking for and 3) that you love your purchase. They also took the time to attach the note with a really nice gold seal (also embossed) which, given their focus on women’s designer apparel, really fits their brand.

Even their packing slip, receipt, and return label was neatly tucked away in a white envelope with—you guessed it—an embossed logo.  

But even without the fancy gold seal or embossed card, you can still create an amazing customer experience—one your customers just won’t get from the likes of Whether a handwritten note or something you print off, including a nice, non-salesy message with each purchase will go a long way towards building customer loyalty.

What would you want to say or want your customers to know the second they opened your package?

Picture yourself having a face-to-face conversation. What could you say to get them even more excited?  

How can you reflect the unique personality and brand of your business with your packaging?

This could be anything from the packing materials you use, to how you wrap your product, to the tone of any messaging. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it.

What other messaging might be helpful?

For example, who I’ve written about in the past, included a diagram of their workflow process from the second you place your order online until your order arrives. They’ve also used their packaging to highlight their sustainable printing practices. Both of which were really nice touches.

Competing with Amazon? Instead of focusing on price or delivery, start with creating an unforgettable customer experience.

Picture your target customers.

Identify a few unexpected touches you can incorporate with your packaging that will bring a smile to their face as soon as they crack open the box.

Something more than a clear plastic bag in a cardboard box.

[Image: Flickr user Public.Resource.Org]

How to Get the Most Out of Every Conference Presentation


how to get the most out of conference presentationsHave you ever been to a conference presentation that felt really flat? One where the speaker seemed a little nervous walking on stage and the audience was in a lull from sitting in sessions for hours on end or not having enough coffee? I know I’ve definitely experienced both as a presenter and as an attendee.

Getting the most out of every conference presentation typically means you need to find a way to inject a high level of energy into the crowd and, most importantly, the presenter.

And that’s where the “Big Omaha standing ovation” comes in. If you’re not familiar with concept, it was started by Dave Hasuer, co-founder of, at the Big Omaha Conference in 2010—and continues to be a big part of the event each and every year.

Instead of holding your applause until the end of the session, with the Big Omaha standing ovation everyone is asked to give a standing ovation at the beginning of the session. I’m not talking about a conservative golf clap or a sporadic round of applause that sounds like the last 15 seconds of popcorn popping in the microwave, I’m talking about a standing ovation with people shouting, jumping, and clapping uncontrollably.

Talk about a great way to get people engaged and bring out the best from the speaker. Having watched a few presenters come out to the Big Omaha standing ovation, you can see the immediate reaction on their faces. Instead of being nervous, they’re smiling from ear to ear. Their posture is different. They’re more relaxed. And they’re more likely to deliver the best speech you’ve ever heard.

Check out this video below from the 25 - 45 second mark to see the reaction to the welcome from one of the speakers.

The crowd is also a heck of a lot more engaged. They’re up and moving around. They’re not sitting on their hands. They’re more likely to ask good questions. I don’t know about you, but if I’m spending 45 minutes or longer in a session, I’d much rather make the most of it instead of dozing off in the back row.   

If you are organizing a conference or plan on presenting anytime soon, give the “Big Omaha standing ovation” a try and let me know how it goes. I think you are going to find it brings out the best from the presenters, from the audience, and adds a lot of value to the entire conference.

Thanks to Kit from Fygment for the reminder about how awesome the Big Omaha standing ovation is. I can't wait until my next conference.

[Image: Silicon Prairie News]

The Best Way to Grow Your Email List at Events


best way to grow your email list at events

Growing your email list. One of the most effective ways to create a direct link between prospective customers and your business.

But while it’s easy to fixate on collecting more email signups solely from your website, you definitely don’t want overlook opportunities at events such as trade shows, sales presentations, and industry conferences.

When I was promoting my first book, I thought it was enough to just give people a handout about—you guessed it—my book. But what is the likelihood that someone would take that handout with them and then refer back to it to visit my website and then find my email signup form and share their information? Needless to say, you can’t assume handouts will automatically help you grow your website traffic or your email list. Handout or not, once people leave your event the chances of you capturing their email can drop like a lead balloon.

Paper signups can be effective, but they’re time consuming for everybody involved. If you have a strong turnout at a trade show, there’s a chance people could end up waiting in line to sign up—and that might not be a good thing. And once you get those paper signups, that means somebody is going to have to enter all of that information in—and that typically eats up time you just don’t have.

And then there’s the fishbowl. Beyond having to buy an actual fishbowl and get it to the event without breaking it, similar to paper signups—you’re still left with entering or scanning all of those business cards into a database, email marketing solution such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, or salesforce Marketing Cloud.

I think we can all agree that all of the above have their share of limitations.

Enter smartphones and text messaging. Most (if not all) of your current and prospective customers have them, use them, and can’t live without them. Instead of wasting time and missing opportunities to grow your email list by relying on handouts, paper signups, you can capture an email address from any phone in seconds.

Join By Text, an email sign up web app from Pittsburgh-based JA Interactive, has helped businesses and non-profits capture more than 50,000 emails via text messages in the first year of their rollout—eliminating the need for paper signups and saving organizations a substantial amount of time by completely automating the signup process.

If you’re already using an email marketing service such as MailChimp, Campaigner, or Hubspot to connect with your subscribers, that’s even better. Join By Text integrates with more than of the top 10 platforms which means you’re able to save even more time uploading your email signups.

Best of all, they have plans starting at as little as $19 per month—or what you would spend on 3 fishbowls.

As a consumer, I used Join By Text to signup for the Pittsburgh Tweetup email list and the process couldn't have been quicker or more seamless. Definitely something I'd recommend to businesses looking for a more effective and more efficient way to collect emails offline.

So, if you are looking for the best way to grow your email marketing list at events, be sure to check out Join By Text. You can also watch this quick video to see how it works...

Already a Join By Text customer or using a similar platform? Share your feedback in the comments below.

[Image: Death to the Stock Photo]

Writing Newsletters for Internet Marketing


Writing Newsletters for Internet Marketing Pittsburgh

A while back I wrote a post called “5 Highly Effective Email Newsletter Examples.” In that post, I shared some of my favorite examples of B2C and B2B newsletter examples for internet marketing including specific callouts of what makes them so great.

Creating an effective email newsletter requires the perfect mix of persuasive subject line, relevant content, targeted calls to action aligned to your marketing goals, and formatting/visual appeal—something I spend a lot of time focusing on when working with my business clients.

You’re competing for the attention of customers in a crowded inbox along with dozens of other businesses and organizations. To get noticed, your internet marketing and your newsletters need a rock solid strategy.  

[Image: Death to the Stock Photo]

Move The Crowd


marketing engagement pittsburgh

I spend a lot of time doing competitor benchmarking for my clients. And one of the first things that always jumps out is which companies are squarely focused on marketing.  

They understand their brand value

They’re able to clearly and concisely articulate why they exist and distill everything down into a few core themes that permeate all of the marketing messaging while also consistently reinforcing their brand value

Just the other day I was looking at marketing messaging for a company and was really impressed with how they were able to highlight their core themes throughout their website, videos, and all of their marketing content. If we asked people to describe that business based on their marketing materials, you better believe those same themes would come up time and time again.

They understand the importance of content marketing

It’s one thing to describe what you do—to talk about your products and services—but it’s another to actually get people excited about them. For that to happen, you’ve actually got to be excited about them.

Once you identify those core themes that are central to your business brand, you’ve got to look for opportunities to establish credibility, communicate value to prospective customers, and differentiate yourself from your competition. For example, you can “work with brands” or you can “partner with the world’s best brands.” Which one would grab your attention?

They align their marketing and business goals

What do you ultimately want people to do when they visit your website, read your brochure, or watch your video? I know it might sound obvious, but I’m always surprised at how many companies either don’t include a targeted call-to-action or bury it so far down on their website that it will never see the light of day.

If you want people to request a demo, make sure that’s the primary call-to-action on your website. That includes your top-level navigation and any relevant pages. Where it makes sense, incorporate any supporting materials you think would increase the likelihood that someone will take action including testimonials, awards, and screenshots (especially effective for SaaS companies).

They understand their competition

In most cases they have an intimate knowledge of who and what they’re up against. That way they’re able to quickly identify opportunities and gaps, and take action to stay ahead of the game.

If your marketing is going to get people to take action, you need to be able to understand your brand value, communicate that value through your content and messaging, align your marketing efforts to your business goals, and know your competition.

How will your marketing move the crowd?

[Image: Flickr user Martin Fisch]

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