E-commerce Season is Approaching! Here’s How to Prepare Your Business
E-commerce season is upon us, and the competition to get your business seen will be more intense than ever before. Here’s what you need to know about preparing your business before the holiday orders start rushing in… or not!
Plan out your marketing and email campaigns.
As e-commerce season approaches, it’s time to start thinking about how you will market your business and reach your target audience. Chances are you’ve already received seasonal emails or marketing. It’s important to put pen to paper, or characters to a google document now in order to plan, create and implement your marketing and sales campaigns so you aren’t missing out on turning viewers into buyers. Email campaigns are a great way to reach a large number of people without breaking the bank. Plus, they’re easy to set up and track.
If you don’t have an email list yet, now is the perfect time to get started on one with free tools like Hubspot or Mailchimp. Running a contest or giveaway is a good way to gain interested consumers’ contact information.
Some consumers have already started.Twenty-five percent of shoppers either began their holiday shopping last month or plan to begin shopping in September, perBankrate. Another 25% expect to begin in October, while only 40% plan to start shopping in the final two months of the year. (Sept. 2022, Insider Intelligence)
Ensure your website can handle the uptick in traffic.
Regardless of what you’re selling, it’s important to ensure your website can handle the uptick in traffic. Delays, errors, or issues impact your bottom line. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your site stays up and running during this busy time:
Perform a stress test on your website. This will help you identify any potential bottlenecks so you can address them before they cause problems.
Make sure your hosting plan can accommodate increased traffic. If necessary, upgrade your server or consider using a cloud-based solution.
Consider having someone manually audit your website at least once per year, especially if you’re planning significant changes in layout or design. The extra review may catch something that might have been missed otherwise due to the hectic pace of the holiday shopping season.
Plan ahead for supply chain delays.
The holiday season is a busy time for businesses, and e-commerce businesses are no exception. If you’re selling products online, planning ahead for potential supply chain delays is important. Here are a few tips:
Start planning early by considering the inventory that will be needed to meet customer demand.
Consider storage requirements: Do you have enough space for inventory? Does your space need temperature controls? What about security?
Consider logistics: Is there adequate space in the warehouse, or does the product require special handling? For example, if items are fragile or breakable, do you have systems in place for sorting and packing?
Get organized: Make sure all necessary information is available so staff can keep track of shipments; print packing slips; create labels; calculate shipping costs; track orders, invoices, and payments.
Consider a more flexible return policy.
As the e-commerce season ramps up, it’s important to consider your return policy. Many customers shop online with the intention of returning items that don’t work out, so you’ll want to be prepared. A flexible return policy will show customers that you’re confident in your product and care about their satisfaction. Plus, it can help you avoid costly returns down the line.
Leverage social media.
As e-commerce season approaches, now is the time to start thinking about how you can leverage social media to promote your business. If you’re not already active on social media, now is the time to create accounts on the platforms where your target audience hangs out. Once you’re up and running, make sure to post regularly and interact with your followers. Use hashtags, run contests, and offer discounts to encourage people to buy from you.
It may seem like a lot of work to prepare your business for the e-commerce season, but when all is said and done, it will help you reach more customers with less effort in the long run. Contact Dolomites Consulting Group to learn more about how you can accelerate your business growth with our advertising and consulting expertise.
Many people can confuse the profession of business consulting with solely providing advice to clients. Yet, it is much more in-depth and beneficial than it may appear on the surface.
In that case, what does the service of consulting mean? By definition, it is defined as “the practice of providing a third party with expertise on a matter in exchange for a fee”. (Source Myconsultingoffer) In metaphorical terms, consultants are doctors for a business. They are professional problem solvers analyzing and offering solutions to complex problems within an organization. To simplify it even more, consultants deliver outsourced, unbiased, and data-driven solutions.
From identifying the right problem, gathering company data and analytics, providing a strategic plan of action and agreement, to conducting timely follow-ups, a business consultant is able to assist the company in achieving sustainable and high returning results. At Dolomites Consulting, we specialize in strategy, management, branding, sales, operations, and marketing consulting.
Business Consulting: Marketing
Now, let’s add marketing into the mix! Marketing consultants are most commonly involved in the planning, implementing, and examining stages of a marketing strategy. They assist the company in creating a detailed marketing plan, effectively communicating and defining the marketing message to the target audience. Also, they take part in developing marketing strategies and observing results afterward. In other words, marketing consultants provide guidance and expertise throughout the entire marketing campaign.
Marketing consultants have a wide spectrum of specialized skills including:
How do you know if your business may need assistance or an outsourced strategy from a business consultant? Maybe you lack market share, need extra support, or want to modernize your business but don’t know how? These are just a few of the customer pains points we have discovered in our experience at DCG.
A few other reasons one may need guidance from a consultant are:
Case Study: Two Shepherds Taproom
One of our most exciting clients at DCG is Two Shepherds Taproom– Tampa’s first and largest fully off-lease A/C indoor/outdoor dog park and bar, for guests ages 21+. The bar has a special outdoor area with over 10,000 square feet of space on K-9 grass artificial turf- making it the perfect spot to enjoy a beer and socialize without leaving your best friend at home. DCG has assisted in elevating Two Shepherd Taproom’s position in the dog-friendly bar industry through its services of branding, advertising, event planning and coordination, and social media management.
We have assisted in strengthening Two Shepherd’s brand by creating a style guide that reflects their mission statement and values. We use this style guide to create consistent content and increase their engagement and traction on their social platforms. Our style guide for Two Shepherds includes:
Logo Variations – This allows us to choose which variation fits better when creating event banners or Instagram stories and their logo more recognizable.
Color Palette – We reflect Two Shepherd’s logo with the color of beer and the title with the two dogs while adding more colors that blend well with the logo.
Typography – We chose fonts that were eye-catching and fun to represent the lively atmosphere of the dog bar.
Voice – In our posts, event descriptions, and more, we use a welcoming tone and frequently use emojis and dog jokes to keep the mood fun and playful.
Imagery – We take or coordinate high-quality photos and videos of happy or playful dogs and enhance the brightness and color saturation to be eye-catching. We also use this method of imagery with food truck highlights, beer, and wine selection, and event highlights.
Event Planning and Coordination:
Two Shepherd’s Taproom is always hosting fun events all week long. We have assisted in creating more awareness of their events through branded stories, CTA’s on social media posts, Eventbrite and Facebook events, social messaging for their target audience, and more. For example, we were able to assist Two Shepherds in getting the most registrations and guests ever to come to their Barks N’ Bubbles Foam Party with Fetch Social!
Not only do we assist in generating more registrations and awareness of Two Shepherds Taproom events, but we also create them as well! For example, many of their guests have Golden Retrievers, so we assisted in planning a Golden Meetup for people to come and socialize with the same breed! At DCG, we strive to be creative in event planning while ultimately focusing on the needs, interests, and preferences of our clients and their target audiences.
Social Media Management
Lastly, we run our social media management services for Two Shepherds Taproom. This includes scheduling posts to attending events at the bar for live promotion (tagging social handles of dogs, sponsors, etc.), collecting content for later, and mostly, enjoying the fun atmosphere!
Business consultants don’t just give advice, they deliver outsourced, unbiased, and data-driven solutions
Marketing consultants are most commonly involved in the planning, implementing, and examining stages of a marketing strategy
It’s important to define your company’s pain points and seeking assistance from a business consultant can give you clearer answers
If you are a small business looking to further enhance your strategic position, where to begin, or need expert advice in consulting or marketing, contact the DCG Team and we would be happy to assist you!
A fractional CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), also referred to as an outsourced CMO, is a marketing executive brought in on a temporary consulting basis to implement strategic marketing programs, guide personnel, and help companies achieve long-term growth. The fractional element refers to the interim basis on which your company chooses to utilize this person’s expertise. A seasoned CMO can cost over $90k, not including benefits. Hiring a fractional CMO provides your business the same expert knowledge without the weight of executive-level costs.
You have the freedom and flexibility to create your own timeframe, depending on your company’s needs. You can work with your fractional CMO for 10, 15, 20 hours, or more per week and decide if you want them on-site or off-site, full-time or part-time. Typically, these directors are brought in for six months or more to establish a relationship and guarantee a strong level of commitment while ensuring your new marketing strategies will have time to gain momentum.
What is the difference between a marketing consultant and a fractional CMO?
Marketing consultants and agencies typically work independently from companies. They use their industry knowledge to assess your current programs, develop marketing strategies for your team, and finally, send their recommendations to a key source within the company. These partnerships remain external and relatively hands-off while still delivering data-driven results.
Conversely, fractional CMOs hold an official leadership role within your company. They provide a plan for overall growth, integrate new marketing strategies developed with your team, and are held responsible for monitoring budgets, and increasing ROI. Because they are typically working with your company for a longer period of time, they have a substantial investment in your overall success. Evaluating your business from the inside gives them the advantage to spot the problems that are slowing you down.
Businesses are not one-size-fits-all and both of these options are viable depending on your specific needs.
Six Skills To Look For In Your Fractional CMO:
Companies hire fractional CMO’s to do the most valuable part of being a CMO: strategizing and driving key initiatives without getting stuck doing the day-day “fire drills”. While it may be impossible to find someone who is good at everything, below are a few skills they must possess.
1) Leadership Ability
An outsourced CMO fills in any gaps in leadership you might have. They step in and take charge to strengthen your weaker areas, whether it’s your marketing tactics, team alignment, brand recognition, or sales force that needs the extra help.
A strong leader can diagnose your problems and give clear direction to your team. They know when it is time to enforce change and when the campaign you’re working on needs more attention. They communicate regularly with executives and inspire morale and confidence in the company’s employees. In short, the leadership ability of just one person can positively impact an entire organization.
2) Team Building and Mentorship Experience
You want a marketer with experience creating and leading programs and teams on a variety of different budgets. They understand the hiring process and they have developed methods to yield the best results. They’ve built and managed strong teams, mentoring employees so when it is their time to leave, everyone has a firm understanding of their role in the organization.
3) Fits Your Company Culture
Compatibility is the most important quality to look for in a marketing leader. While it is necessary that this person has industry specific-knowledge, it’s even more vital that they align with your company’s values and vision. A skilled leader who also understands your company will work well with your team and know how to create a customized strategy that adheres to your long-term goals.
4) Understanding of Analytical Data and The Key Metrics That Impact Sales
Strategic plans require a firm understanding of key sales metrics to lower costs, track conversion rates, and improve your growth. Your marketing plan directly correlates with your sales funnel, and an experienced interim CMO will know how to leverage the important data in order to drive business.
5) Multi-layered Skill Set
An outsourced marketer must be able to formulate a strategy while also being hands-on in the daily execution and direction. Your team members require support along with driven initiative, so you must identify someone who can do both tasks simultaneously.
6) A Proven Methodology and Toolset
The work they’ve done in the past has yielded results and they have the metrics to prove it. They’ve acquired tools and methods along the way and these will be passed down to your company.
Six Benefits of a Fractional CMO
This seems like a no-brainer benefit. Your interim leader is a marketing expert with experience driving a variety of initiatives, team building, and training, setting clear goals, and achieving results. This isn’t their first rodeo.
2) Cost Effective
A fractional CMO provides extensive value for a far lower price than paying an in-house team or hiring someone full-time, which can cost you as much as $300,000 or more. In addition to reducing costs significantly, you can pour these savings into new marketing initiatives developed with the aid of your interim leader.
3) An objective, outsider’s perspective
The saying, “you can’t see the forest for the trees,” has relevance in the business world as well. It is often difficult to see what is right in front of you, especially when your own bias is involved. Your business may need honest feedback from a trained and impartial eye to foster new ideas and produce change.
You will not only receive candid feedback, but their breadth of experience will benefit your team and supply knowledge you may not have otherwise acquired. They will be able to leverage knowledge from previous campaigns that have succeeded in similar industries while understanding how you compare to the competition.
5) Stays up to date with the latest trends and best practices
The CMO must be conscious of the newest trends in the market. “An outsourced CMO may be better positioned to recognize and capitalize on those trends than a startup executive wearing multiple hats.” Your company will have the flexibility to explore new marketing approaches without the long-term commitment.
6) Save time with clear objectives and action plans
When you hire a fractional CMO, you are paying for the highest quality elements of marketing without the waste of energy on day-to-day tasks. They know how to get to the basis of your issues and clear out the cobwebs to drive key strategic initiatives.
Five Reasons Why You Need A Fractional CMO
1) Your company isn’t ready for a full-time marketing executive
If you are a small company or start-up without a big enough budget to afford a full-time executive, outsourcing a CMO for a short period of time will be more cost-efficient while delivering the structure and proficiency to help your company mature.
2) Your marketing materials are coming from different sources
Maybe you’ve downsized your marketing team due to the pandemic, or you don’t have one person/department leading marketing. You may even have a talented team of creatives, but their efforts need guided direction. In cases like these, your materials may not align or ineffectively represent your brand image. A fractional CMO will organize the process and create a clear strategy, crafting your vision into a reality.
3) You lost your head of marketing
In their absence, it may be beneficial to fill the position with an interim leader to give your marketing needs immediate attention. A fractional CMO can offer relief and make sure you maintain momentum while you’re searching for a full-time candidate. They will also assist in the hiring process to allow for a quick and easy transition.
4) You are spending a large chunk of your budget on marketing, but not seeing the desired results
A fractional CMO offers an affordable plan and the ability to direct your efforts. Their knowledge allows them to enhance your strategy and drive revenue so you aren’t wasting your time or money. At a certain stage, every company reaches a plateau, and bringing in an expert to assess your pain points could help you avoid this rut.
5) You want to take your company in a new direction and don’t know how
Maybe you want to launch a new product or service and you need a little extra guidance, or you’re struggling to keep up with the competition. Someone with an unbiased perspective can step in and assess your needs with transparency while giving your brand an extra boost. Companies need to prepare for the future and outsourcing leadership will help you gain new insights and update your strategies and tools to keep up with the latest marketing trends.
Marketing is an ever-changing industry and companies will need to adjust in order to prosper in the future. As you can see above, a fractional CMO only serves to help you. They are experts with the ability to align your team, boost your brand, enhance your marketing strategies and raise your ROI, all within a realistic budget and time frame.
If your company is in its infancy, lacks marketing organization and direction, or can’t keep up with the competition, hiring a fractional CMO is a smart move for you.
A fractional CMO provides your business the same expert knowledge without the burden of executive-level costs.
Your company will benefit from the diverse experience they’ve acquired working with a variety of clients and industries.
The most important quality to look for when outsourcing a CMO is their compatibility with your company’s values and vision.
A fractional CMO is different from a marketing consultant because they work directly with your team for a longer period of time to ensure the success of your strategies and goals.
Your interim leader will say it like it is, and this honest feedback can be just what a business needs to move to the next level.
If hiring a fractional CMO makes sense for your business, contact the DCG Team and we can help you find the perfect fit today!
As if digital marketing trends don’t move fast enough, 2020 saw a significant and unanticipated increase in users’ time online (eCommerce, Video Conferences, Social Media Time, Email Communication, etc.). Companies were forced to adapt quickly to capitalize on this phenomenon, and the lack of in-person interaction saw the birth of major shifts in what behavior trends this increased time online. Though seemingly unpredictable, a lot of these trends were merely brewing under the surface, and the pandemic was the catalyst that brought them to the forefront. Let’s take a look at what’s here to stay, and which key trends will help your business shift with the digital tide in 2021 and beyond.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. eCommerce sales grew more than 30% between the first and second quarter of 2020. The reason for this dramatic increase is very clear: as citizens remained socially distant at home, they spent more time purchasing products online. However, the sheer volume of online sales astounded even the most prepared and efficient companies. In some cases, sales halted altogether when businesses just couldn’t keep up with the demand of their customers.
No store was safe from the purchasing pandemonium, whether they were brick-and-mortar businesses or strictly online, like Amazon. Toilet paper became a valuable commodity! And because these businesses’ supply chains weren’t prepared for the influx of demand, they weren’t able to replenish their shelves quickly enough. This is a prime example of an opportunity for entrepreneurs to fill a need. Any gap within the business landscape is an opportunity.
Certain companies have adapted to this major shift to online shopping, most notably Instagram, and the substantial updates that were made to the app within the last few months of 2020. Instagram put a heavy emphasis on Reels and their shopping feature, encouraging users to spend directly on the app and giving brands the ability to add a new video-making platform to their marketing strategy.
2. Social Authenticity
As we social distance, there’s an opportunity to close that distance with authenticity, transparency, and relatability. Recognize the problems that your audience could be facing, and connect with them through that recognition. There doesn’t even have to be a concrete solution to the problem – you don’t have to have the solution or the answer. Acknowledging difficult experiences in an honest way can make a monumental difference in the way that your brand is perceived.
3. Companies with Standards
Consumers are actively searching for companies that hold themselves to higher standards, be it ethically, environmentally, socially, etc. They want to give their business to brands that they feel are making a positive impact on the world, and by purchasing from those brands, they are inadvertently contributing to that impact.
Human connection, especially important in times such as these when we have to interact with each other at a distance. With the controversy that TikTok has faced in the past few months, Instagram decided to answer it by facilitating the use of Reels by making it a featured button at the bottom of the app’s homepage. We expect to see more platforms adopting this style of video, including “duet” and response style capabilities.
Activities that once we would never dream of hosting online have now become the new norm. Every business has been forced to adapt and make this adjustment, and while it has introduced many difficulties to the usual processes, there are many positive developments to come out of these hybrid events and work environments.
There are millions of employees all over the world performing their job duties from a remote location, an ability that they never thought possible before COVID-19.
Try hosting your own virtual event! You have the potential to invite new customers who might otherwise have not been involved or showed up in person, but the virtual aspect makes it much more lowkey and convenient.
Social Media for Customer Service
Don’t be afraid to use your brand’s social media as a method for customer service. There is something very powerful and special about connecting with your customers via social media platforms. Rather than being a company that simply spits out content, interacting with customers through your accounts gives them a sense of importance and satisfaction. It makes people feel sought out and important, and it will also encourage more interaction from your followers, thus raising the engagement on your social media and giving you the potential to get more eyes on your pages.
It will be easier and more important than ever to incorporate social monitoring into your marketing strategy. There are many benefits to social monitoring, including proactive crisis management, determining your brand’s market positioning, understanding the behavior of your customers, etc.
As a means of crisis management, social monitoring will allow you to observe the way consumers are reacting to various events in the world, and gauge how you need to respond to these events in order to make the deepest and most lasting connection with your audience. It keeps you from being tone-deaf and saying something that could put your brand in a bad light. Always be aware of what your particular consumer base is saying about current affairs and never take for granted the value of such knowledge can be.
Social monitoring can also help you understand where your brand is in relation to the market. Listen to the market and to where the demand is, and this will help you locate a particular group of consumers whose needs aren’t being met within the current marketplace. Really listen to what it is that people want/need.
Understanding your target audience’s behavior is essential in order to deliver the best service possible and to prepare for future purchases. If you know your audience well enough, you can predict what their future actions will be, what type of messaging and advertising appeals most to them, and how to turn them into loyal customers.
Convenience is the name of the game. Make sure your website and social media are optimized for voice search. People are searching the web differently, and video marketing is one of the most affected types of content so far. Voice search is having a big effect on SEO because of the difference in speech patterns versus typed searches. Speech is more colloquial, more free-form, and on the spot, while typing a phrase or question into the Google search bar takes a little more forethought. Most of the time, typed searches involve inadvertently searching keywords or ideas. Voice search is more centered around the thing itself, is often phrased in the form of a question, and is much less rigid or predictable (making SEO more complicated than ever).
With so many people working from home, video content has become more frequent and casual, with glimpses into the life of someone who works at home and what a typical day is like. With the freedom and confidence to make more video content, we are seeing a rise in these more interactive posts that will continue to grow as the months go by. The lack of in-person connections has brought about the desire for continued interaction through social media, and what better way to feel as if you could be hanging out in real-time with someone else than through videos?
Certain platforms, most notably Instagram, are beefing up their video features to encourage users to take advantage of this specific type of media. Instagram has been pushing Reels hard ever since TikTok’s privacy policies were called into question, and Reels has even become the main focus on the homepage of every Instagram user.
It is clear that the space provided by 2020 has been filled by what people want, and more than ever, the digital world is being dictated by how the general public (and your future audience) is using their time, melding personal behaviors with business opportunities. Luckily, social platforms are fighting hard to evolve to suit the behaviors of the public, which happens to coincide with an opportunity for business.
If 2020 showed us anything, it’s how quickly things can change/are ever-evolving/adaptable. It’s likely that this list doesn’t cover everything we’ll see in 2021, and the best advice we can offer is to stay vigilant, pay attention to how digital platforms are changing and why, and check in on online consumer behaviour regularly.
A sales funnel is a tool used for understanding a customer’s journey from thought to action, that will help you define your sales and marketing strategy to reach your business goals. It’s important to have a strong brand communication strategy and know where to find your target audience. You must define what mediums they are on, and what your outreach strategy will be.
AIDA model is a simple and effective model used to understand the path of buyers from their first interaction with your brand to a desired conversion. Below we guide you through each step of the funnel and provide practical tips to keep your efforts focused on elements that will drive success.
Grabbing attention is the start to generating a prospective lead or desired action in the sales funnel. This stage is not only the first introduction to your brand, but can also include several touch points in which consumers form opinions. First impressions are lasting.
Getting attention in a competitive marketplace takes creativity and clear communication. Be sure to focus your efforts on quality content over quantity, where spreading yourself too thin from producing a larger number of posts can often hurt your efforts more than it helps.
Any form of communication that your audience may be consuming has the potential to impact your brand awareness. Examples of attention grabbing content include:
A Well-Designed Email Newsletter
An Eye-Catching Social Media Post
An Aesthetic Website Landing Page
A Well-Crafted Blog Headline
Once a potential customer’s attention is piqued, they’ll want to know more. Quality content is crucial in this stage of the sales funnel to make sure consumers don’t continue to pass you up. What can you do to set yourself apart from your competitors? If you’ve done your research, you will have examples of content that your target audience likes to consume, and be able to have a launch point for developing your own content. Develop a variety of content on multiple platforms to increase the likelihood of reaching your potential clients.
Ways to make your content valuable:
Answer Consumers’ Questions
Relate to Your Target Audience’s Pain Points
Use A/B Testing to Determine the Best Content
Provide Relevant Statistics
Shifting a consumer from displaying casual interest to intentional action involves building a relationship that encourages trust and continues to provide value. Consumers are hesitant to provide their information such as email addresses if there isn’t enough perceived value in the exchange. To foster a feeling of desire for your products or services, relate to your audience and show your value proposition in terms of how it will solve the consumers’ problems or make their lives easier. This can be achieved by purposeful, customized, and segmented content.
Here are a few examples of going above and beyond to create a deeper connection with your audience:
Educate Consumers with a Webinar or Newsletter
Develop Interactive Social Media Posts and Campaigns that Encourage Engagement Such as Polls, Contests, and Series
Master Storytelling to Share Your Company Culture
Segment Your Messaging (Ex. Demographic: “Hey Moms, we know you could use an extra hand.” or Geographically: “Can’t wait for warmer weather?”)
Build Your Reviews and User Generated Content to Increase Social Proof
In this final stage of the sales funnel, it’s time to advance closing in on the desired action. If all of the previous phases were successful, the action stage will be a natural transition in consumer behavior. The prospect has become aware of your brand, the content piqued their interest, and you have discussed their needs and offered solutions. Now you have built trust and communicated the benefit customers receive from your product or service. If an individual understands and believes in your value proposition, you will not only encourage conversions, but foster long-term and repeat business.
A few tips to ensure you nail the sale:
Make Sure Your Process is User Friendly and Functional
Follow Through with Exceptional Customer Service
Ask for Feedback, and Update Your Strategy Accordingly
Sales funnels are like plants, they require continued nurturing to grow.
Don’t reinvent the wheel, use real life models to give you blueprints of successful practices.
Create an outreach strategy with your brand voice in mind.
Know your target audience inside and out.
Data and analysis is necessary to better your funnel and increase your sales.