Friday, 27 March 2015 19:08

The new funnel

For many years there was a predictable purchase process, especially in B2B, which we know as the sales funnel. But, research from Google provides insight that turns the traditional sales funnel on its side. 

Friday, 27 March 2015 18:38

Hardest-working sales person

Your website is a powerful tool to reach your potential customers on their terms.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015 18:23

Think ahead!

We’ve talked a little before about raster versus vector particularly in relation to your logo files, but it’s not just your logo where the differences matter greatly.

Friday, 27 March 2015 18:16

If you fail to plan...

Consider building a website like building a house; you must begin with a solid foundation.

Friday, 13 March 2015 00:00

Coding without CSS

If content follows function then design follows content.

Thursday, 12 March 2015 00:00

Facebook for Business

Over the past few years, we have run into businesses who share their Facebook page with us. Sometimes, though, these personal pages being used for business.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 00:00

Watch: Make Your Marketing Matter

The full video from the January Make Your Marketing Matter event featuring Brian Halligan and Stephanie McLaughlin is now available.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015 00:00

My website looks funny

Internet users are consuming online content on many devices, from desktop computers to tablets and mobile devices running different operating systems and different browsers. Ensuring that your website looks the same across all these platforms can be a daunting task.

Monday, 09 March 2015 00:00

Landing page optimization

Landing pages are a key element of your inbound marketing or lead generation strategy, which makes optimizing your pages for increased conversions paramount.

Friday, 06 March 2015 00:00

Anatomy of a good Tweet

It may  only be 140 characters but, sometimes, composing a compelling, attention-grabbing Tweet is more difficult because of its brevity.

Thursday, 05 March 2015 00:00

What is Quality Content?

We all know the importance of “quality over quantity” and that Google is looking for quality content; but what does quality content look like?

Wednesday, 04 March 2015 00:00

Offline counts still

In the modern digital era, offline tactics still have their place.

Tuesday, 03 March 2015 00:00

Tactile Communicatiion

With emerging mobile technologies,, it was easy to jump to the conclusion a few years ago that traditional business cards would become extinct. But advances in printing and in paper make business cards a powerful visual and tactile communicator of your brand.

Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

Facebook Advertising

Cheap, targeted and easy to create, Facebook advertising is a great media buy for generating website leads.

Friday, 06 February 2015 00:00

SNHHUGLE up to Inbound Marketing

The Southern NH HubSpot User Group (SNHHUG - pronounced “snug” - for short) is one of almost a hundred Hubspot User Groups (HUGs) around the world. These groups were created to build a community and provide networking and learning opportunities for inbound marketers as well as anyone interested in inbound strategies and/or HubSpot software. The events are held quarterly.

SNHHUG is for HubSpot customers and non-customers alike. While we do discuss specific Hubspot tools with regard to inbound strategies, SNHHUG focuses on generating interest in and discussion of inbound marketing techniques in general. It’s for people who love and practice inbound marketing and for people who are just learning about inbound marketing. It’s for those currently employed in a marketing role and those who aren’t direct marketing practitioners. 

Marketing has changed with unsettling velocity in recent years. You may have noticed that your customary marketing efforts have lost effectiveness. New marketing disciplines are evolving to meet these challenges and they’re not beyond your reach. SNHHUG wants to help you explore the new tools and guide you through the “inbound playbook.”

SNHHUG meets at The Shaskeen Irish Pub in downtown Manchester. The Shaskeen’s back room offers a casual meeting space where you can network and learn in an intimate and unintimidating setting. We provide light appetizers to help bridge the gap between work and dinner, and we’ll even buy everyone a drink.

For SNHHUG’s Q1 meetup, we’ll focus on lead generation.

Lead generation refers to a conversion process of website visitors from their initial exposure to a “call-to-action” to their subsequent completion of information on a landing page and the thank you page that makes good on the promised offer. With inbound, you attract visitors or potential leads through your blog, keywords and social media. You then use forms, calls-to-action and landing pages to convert those visitors into leads.

We’ll discuss best practices regarding the above elements and persona-targeted content based on your buyer’s journey through the “stages” of the decision making process. We’ll also look at ways to be more efficient with your lead generation using content mapping tools and content recycling. 

Interested? 

Visit the SNHHUG website or Register now!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015 00:00

Time to go

Stop using these outdated web features in 2015.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015 00:00

Six Questions

Interviews make great content and promotion.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015 00:00

Mega Menu

The good, the bad and the ugly of  mega menu navigation.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015 00:00

Sharing made easy

Extend your reach by making your content easy to share. Having great content that is shareworthy is great. But if it isn’t easy to share, then it won't go anywhere. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015 00:00

A little bragadocio

Find unique ways to let people know what you do (and brag a little)

Wednesday, 31 December 2014 00:00

Evolution of SEO

Get caught up on the latest and greatest changes to SEO landscape.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014 00:00

Represent!

Your logo communicates your brand. Shouldn’t it be strategically designed?

Thursday, 08 January 2015 00:00

Moving billboard

Adding graphics to your company vehicles lets you maximize brand impressions.

Monday, 05 January 2015 00:00

Give your site some TLC

Perform regular updates and maintenance for a well-performing website

Friday, 16 January 2015 00:00

Make Your Marketing Matter

Exclusive opportunity for Savoir Faire contacts and clients

Tuesday, 23 December 2014 00:00

12 Days of Christmas

Blog + social media effort to promote seasonal offerings

Savoir Faire is abuzz with preparations for Thursday’s Make Your Marketing Matter event, which will feature Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot, the leading marketing automation software company. Brian coined the term “inbound marketing” in 2005 to describe how he saw marketing changing along with the evolution of how we use the web.

We’re looking forward to hosting Brian in the 603 to talk inbound marketing with a group of business owners and marketers who are eager to learn how to connect with customers and prospects more meaningfully this year.

We asked Brian to get started a little early and answer a few questions about inbound marketing and what’s next for companies who want to make their marketing matter.

Friday, 19 December 2014 00:00

Share visually!

Using images in social media can increase brand recognition and engagement.

Friday, 19 December 2014 00:00

SEO isn’t just about keywords

Creating mobile friendly and mobile responsive sites improve SEO.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 00:00

Create familiarity to increase engagement

Using fonts, colors and effects consistent with your established brand can increase engagement.

Friday, 19 December 2014 00:00

Mix it up

Increase fan engagement by utilizing a variety of images and visual content.

Friday, 12 December 2014 00:00

Inbound marketing

At its core, inbound marketing is about being found online.

Monday, 17 November 2014 00:00

Cost of Design Services

Are you doing your design in-house to save money?

Friday, 19 December 2014 00:00

Leggo my logo

Can’t you just use the logo from my website?

Thursday, 11 December 2014 00:00

Have you heard about inbound marketing yet?

I talk to a lot of business owners and managers about their marketing efforts. In most conversations, we get to a junction where I ask the question above. Most times the people I’m talking to get some faraway look in their eyes and answer some version of: hmmmmm; I think so; I may have; or even a flat out “no.”

Inbound Marketing is an emerging discipline in marketing. It has developed in concert with the evolution of technology and how we use the web. At its core, it’s about being found online. Business owners and managers are starting to hear the phrase whispered around the periphery but the practice will soon become mainstream.

You see, traditional advertising and marketing was all about one-way communication of messages boiled down to the lowest common denominator. Traditional advertising vehicles reached a mass market, so your messages had to connect with as many people as possible to warrant the huge investment it took to place them. Hence: Bud Light was for guys who watch football and ogle scantily dressed women. Plenty of people drink Bud Light, I would hazard, but that’s the lowest common denominator – and it worked….for a time.

Now, we can fast forward through commercials, avoid telemarketers with caller ID, throw away “junk” mail and generally avoid advertising messages when we choose to.

Thursday, 20 March 2014 00:00

Cats win the internet.

Taking a less traditional approach can produce big results.

Thursday, 07 November 2013 00:00

Client education

Helping you help yourself.

Monday, 19 May 2014 00:00

Direct mail

Traditional direct mail event promotion tied with online registration can lead to greater event attendance.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014 00:00

Client survey and analysis

Know what your customers want.

Thursday, 30 October 2014 00:00

Mailchimp integration

Mailchimp integration for your mailings keeps your site protected and your users informed.

Thursday, 30 October 2014 00:00

UI/UX architecture

A great website needs a great foundation.

Thursday, 30 October 2014 00:00

Membership website

Powerful 3rd-party membership tools integrated in Wordpress.

Thursday, 30 October 2014 00:00

Website redesign

Attracting new members requires a modern website.

Tuesday, 03 June 2014 00:00

Brand consistency

Consistency is the key to building your brand.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014 00:00

Monster invasion

Tame your marketing monster with Savoir Faire.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 00:00

Retail signage

Let passersby know where you are and what you sell.

Monday, 13 October 2014 00:00

eCommerce promotions

Magento lets you create great promotions. But complex rules can make getting it right an adventure.

Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:00

24/7/365 sales team

A powerful ecommerce system needs a powerful team; SFMC can create an ecommerce site that sells for you 24/7/365.

Monday, 24 November 2014 00:00

BOOM!

Throwin’ down some graphic design

Monday, 03 November 2014 00:00

Hippo ads

Small ads; big impact.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014 00:00

Inbound 2014 Agenda Overview

There’s only a week until Inbound 2014 in Boston and we couldn’t be more excited! We are looking forward to some exciting keynotes along with the nitty-gritty learning opportunities during the sessions.

As with last year, we found the online Inbound 2014 schedule a little daunting and the “at a glance” version didn't contain any session titles or room numbers. We created our own schedule for last year’s Inbound 2013 that turned out to make our lives a lot easier. Thus, we thought a more usable and planning-friendly schedule could help everyone out for this year’s Inbound 2014 as well!

We realize we’re probably not the only ones who had issues with the schedule provided on inbound.com, so our version is available for free download for those interested. It prints out at 9 pages, landscape orientation, on regular-sized paper. The PDF header links to the full agenda if you want more information about a presentation.

Also, caveat: this was created based on the current schedule on inbound.com. There will likely be updates and filled holes between now and conference time.

We hope this proves useful for you as you dive into Inbound 2014. We’ll see ya’ll there!

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See what our team will be up to at Inbound 2014:

Stephanie:

Excited to check out: I always love the keynotes. They’re inspiring and I find they give me some great new language to take back to my clients and my business. Beyond that, I’m interested in some of the SEO sessions, since that’s such an important piece of a digital strategy. And, if there’s time, there are a few partner-focused sessions that look like they’d be valuable for me.

Janna:

Most interested in: The deep-dive sessions. Learning new tools or applications helps progress my skill set and gets the wheels turning for improving what we already do.

Joanna:

Can’t wait for: Buyer Personas in Hubspot. Having a clear idea of a target consumer is so valuable. I’m looking forward to really digging into how Hubspot supports this.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014 00:00

The #icebucketchallenge, McLaughlin style

I try not to get too personal on the company blog but I can’t resist this story.

By now, you’ve no doubt heard of the ALS #icebucketchallenge, the stunt that has taken over social media for the past three weeks. The effort has achieved the manna of “going viral,” the hope and dream of every online marketer. It has also raised awareness and a dazzling amount of money for Lou Gehrig’s disease. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 00:00

Turn Your Website Into a Marketing Asset

Marketing has changed dramatically in recent years, specifically in terms of how consumers respond to information. Common methods of getting the message out about a company’s products and services like direct mail, print ads, radio and TV ads and cold calling are losing their power. Most consumers use the internet for much of their communication, shopping and paying their bills. What they read online, in their e-mail, and on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook as mediums influences their decisions, though experts disagree on how much that influence weighs.

Your Website is Your Opportunity to Interact with Your Customers and Prospects

Your website can be a powerful tool - It tells your story. It pitches your products and services.  Too often, though, consumers visit websites only to turn around and leave. One-way sales messaging provides little reason for a consumer to stay on the site. With no reason to stay, there’s no way to convert this visitor into a customer. No longer does a glorified brochure website serve you well. Your website should be a marketing asset – something that draws visitors in and gets them to engage with your company.

Solution: create consumable content.

Content gives visitors a reason to engage. Today’s consumers want to get to know you and why you’re different. And they use the Internet as a vehicle to educate themselves and learn from “experts” in their area of interest.

Consider this: With the evolution of how people use the Web, the way people make purchases has also changed. The traditional purchase process has been turned on its head. Traditionally, there was “information asymmetry” in the sales process. This meant that the seller had most of the information about the product, service or company and the buyer had very little. As a result the seller had leverage in the sales process. This is no longer true. Today, web-enabled buyers are doing their own research and have very likely qualified you in some way before they even become known to you.

Creating quality content on your website allows you to provide valuable information to consumers considering purchases, whether in their business or personal lives. The availability of good content entices consumers to return to your site, or to follow you through social media. As such, you become a hub (lots of two-way interaction) rather than a megaphone (limited one-way interaction), fostering consumer engagement.

Your Own Expertise is Your Best Content

You are your own best source of content! What have you learned from being in the industry? How did you decide to differentiate your business from your competitors? What are three things most people don’t know about your field?

You are the expert!  Your personal knowledge, skills and expertise are ultimately what consumers will base their purchase decision on. Remember: people don’t do business with companies. They do business with people they like and trust.

Use your company’s story, skill sets, and history as content that allows your prospects to get to know you. Creating engaging content base on your expertise allows your products/services to sell themselves and allows a prospect to develop a level of trust with you and your company.

Online Content Ideas:

  • Blog Posts: 1-2 page articles and posts on new, interesting topics relating to your products/services and the industry at large
  • E-Books: in-depth discussion of a subject or how-to outline of a concept or process
  • White Papers: 5-10 page papers educating the marketplace about trends, challenges, and methods in your industry
  • Videos: 1-2 min. about your industry, processes and products
  • Webinars: Live, interactive presentations made to a group online about a relevant topic
  • Podcasts: 10-20min audio programs, “talk shows” or interviews on industry topics
  • Webcasts: Live video shows educating or interviewing about industry news and topics


Developing a Program

At this point, people are usually nodding their heads, with an understanding that content can help them engage with visitors to their website and that engagement can lead to conversion from visitor to lead to customer. It’s the next part that’s difficult for most companies: developing the program.

Most of the time we hear “we don’t have anything interesting to say,” or “we’re not writers,” or “have you seen how engineers try to explain things?”

That’s where we come in. in a one-hour assessment of your marketing efforts, we can help you identify the areas in which you could make an impact online and give you ideas for how to turn your website from a pretty brochure into a productive member of your sales team.

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Thursday, 10 April 2014 00:00

Do You Have What it takes to Convert?

A Guide to Creating Landing Pages

Landing pages are a common and vital part of a business’s online presence. They're a key element of an inbound marketing strategy. Don't be fooled by their simplicity! Engaging landing pages speak to a clear target audience and provide a streamlined user experience.

The goal of a landing page is to capture a visitor’s information so that you can communicate with them during their purchase process. If done correctly, a landing page will convert a visitor into a follower. 

Factors such as the style of messaging and where information is placed affect how a visitor experiences your page. This will ultimately determine whether or not they are willing to engage with a brand. Thus, becoming clear on key points such as your target audience, your offer, and your call to action will make a big difference in how visitors interact with your page.

For an overview landing pages marketing strategy, Savoir Faire has created a short guide for reference. Click the button below and check out our landing page!

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Friday, 13 September 2013 00:00

Forget newsjacking; try weatherjacking!

You've heard of newsjacking, where you put out a press release or some social media campaign that uses a hot news story to capture interest. Yesterday, we tried a topical twist we called "weatherjacking," in honor of a wild tropical weather pattern blowing through the Northeast. Between thunder and lightning flashing and booming most of the day and the bouts of torrential downpour, we thought creating a little something fun would be just the thing for a stormy Thursday afternoon. What do you think?

Calculate your distance from lightning
Calculate your distance from lightning
Tuesday, 10 September 2013 00:00

Facebook for Business: Quick Start Guide

If you’re a small business owner, no doubt you know that marketing and advertising have changed dramatically in recent years. In fact, it likely makes you crazy. Old tools no longer work as well (if at all) and the new ones, while more accessible (read: less expensive), require time to learn how to use them effectively.

The business owners we talk to wonder if it’s worth the investment of time – and the accompanying change of focus from core business functions – to master these channels. Our answer: it depends but, most likely, yes.

Friday, 16 August 2013 00:00

Inbound 2013 Agenda Overview

We're looking forward to attending  Inbound 2013 next week in Boston. Looking at the agenda, though, we found ourselves scrolling, flipping and zooming to try to get a view that allowed us to create a  plan of attack for our team. We felt that the full agenda on inbound.com was a little too unwieldy for our liking (it prints out at 54 pages!) and the "at a glance" version didn't contain any session titles or room numbers.

We created something that we thought was a little more usable for planning. Then we realized that we may not be the only ones having this issue so we wanted you to have it, too.

Help yourself to our PDF overview. It prints out at 8 pages, landscape orientation, on regular-sized paper. The PDF header links to the full agenda if you want more information about a presentation. Also, caveat: this was created based on the current schedule on inbound.com. There will likely be updates and filled holes between now and conference time.

Inbound 2013 Agenda Overview

See you next week in Boston!

Steph, Janna & Mark

When we start working  with a client whose “identity” has already been established (logo, business cards, letterhead, etc. have been created), we often need to request copies of their logo artwork files for use on materials we are developing. We usually receive a JPG or PNG file that was saved from their website or we are asked, “can you just grab it from my website?”

Saturday, 15 December 2012 00:00

Hold the news media accountable

My Fellow Americans,

We wake up today in the aftermath of unimaginable horror. We wonder how we’ll ever feel safe sending our children to school again and how we’ll even discuss these events with them. There’s no way to protect them from the stories; if you don’t tell them, someone else will.

By the dawn of the next day, however, I believe that there is more than one criminal responsible for perpetrating horrors upon us. Yes, a 20-year-old committed a heinous act that will affect the families, friends and communities in Connecticut. But the horrors the rest of us are facing are mainly caused by another perpetrator: the media.

They have gone too far.

Monday, 29 October 2012 00:00

Talk about customer service!

Something AMAZING just happened.ER Cleaners

I picked up dry cleaning on Friday and a pair of pants was missing from the order. The friendly associates at E&R Cleaners told me the pants would be in on Monday morning. I told them I was traveling for business on Tuesday and that it was important I get the pants.

At 9:50 this morning, my phone rang. It was one of the girls from E&R telling me the pants were in and that they'd be there until 6:30 tonight. Good customer service, right?

HA! The powers that be at E&R scoff at mere customer service!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011 00:00

Victoria's Secret's Folly

Dear Victoria's Secret: In need of some new bits, I visited one of your stores yesterday and was reminded of one of the more annoying things about your stores: In the dressing rooms, there are these square bumps along the wall that will conceivably hold a hanger with one of your sassy bits hung on it. However, to try on your bits, I must first remove my clothing. When I do, where the hell am I supposed to put it?

Tuesday, 06 September 2011 00:00

My website looks funny

We recently launched a new site for a client and, while they are happy with it, they asked some pretty pointed questions about why it looked different in different browsers. As I put together my response, I realized that they’re probably not the only ones wondering why their site shows some minor differences in different browsers.

First off, while you may test your site in multiple browsers, the average user of the site is not going to look at the site in three different browsers at the same time so the inconsistencies you may see are not going to be apparent to your visitors. By and large, people have one favorite browser they use. Even if they were to use another browser to look at the site, they likely wouldn’t do that at the same time.

Why the site displays differently in different browsers is a more important consideration.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 00:00

Selling and the uncomfortable client

I was waiting for a call back from a client this afternoon and spent my few extra minutes scrolling through Seth Godin's blog posts. One from May about selling vs. inviting caught my eye. As a business owner, I am not only responsible for making the business go, I'm also responsible for making it grow.

The line I liked the most from that post was this:  "The salesperson's job: Help people overcome their fear so they can commit to something they'll end up glad they invested in."

I have a handful of clients who I know are glad they are investing in marketing efforts that are building their businesses. We worked together to help them overcome their fear and say "yes" to possibility, growth and success.

On the other hand, I spoke to a business owner today who is hesitant to invest money into marketing his business. He's waiting for that elusive sale that will give him the money to make that investment. Since he's been at this for two years now, the question is, when that sale comes (and it will, I'm sure of it; a few of them have already), won't there just be another reason not to take that leap?

Several of my clients have said that one of the reasons they like working with me is that I make them uncomfortable. I push them beyond their comfort zones. I don't let them stay where it's safe.

Before I started working with most of my clients, they typically did some form of marketing in-house, themselves. They did what they knew. They got some results.

The reason I make them uncomfortable is that I bring new ideas a new point of view and different thinking to the table. For those that allow me to make them uncomfortable, we achieve great things and they're happy they made the investment. For those who think they need to stay where it's safe, let's talk a little longer so you can commit to something you're glad you invested in.

Ready to break free of the status quo? Contact us!
Monday, 11 July 2011 00:00

Sending unintentional messages

Last week I was nearly run off the highway by a tan BMW emblazoned with the name name of a local dealership. I was so shaken, and so pissed off, that I was compelled to call the dealership and tell them what just happened.

After a not-really-funny comedy of errors to simply get a manager on the phone, I told him what had happened and the license plate of the car. The manager said that it was probably a customer using a loaner car while their car was being serviced, as if that were either:

a) a good enough explanation for my frightful run-in with his company, or
b) a reason for him not to take any accountability for my experience.

What this manager doesn't understand, and what I told him was, anyone bearing the name of your company is an ambassador for your company. In this case, that ambassador was driving like an a-hole and nearly caused an accident at 70 miles an hour.

Perhaps this dealership should consider taking its name OFF its loaner cars since they have no control over the behavior of the people inside them and, hence, no control over the messages those cars send about that company.

I'm sure the managers of this dealership paid to have their names on these cars because they thought it would improve visibility for their dealership. However, I'm not sure what I experienced is the kind of image they want to cultivate for their organization. I certainly won't be going there for my next car and you'd better believe that's the kind of story that gets told over and over again via word of mouth.

Where is your company name displayed? Are you sure you have control over what it says about your business?

New Call-to-action
Friday, 08 July 2011 00:00

Mind your manners

I was at a business networking event last week with a roomful of very important muckety mucks and the most strange and wonderful thing happened.

I met a gentleman early in the event and we began a conversation that I felt we never finished, which gave me a wonderful opening to follow up with him later. When I went to leave the event, he was talking to two other men, but I didn’t want to just disappear. So I went over to the group, excused myself to the two new men and asked it if was ok for me to say goodbye to my new acquaintance before I left. What happened next blew my mind.

The two men I had interrupted, and whom I did not know, commented to me that I was the only person in the room who had shown that courtesy. Their impression of this event was that, apparently, in a room full of VIMMs, everyone believes they’re the most important and, hence, that their time is most valuable, so they just go around butting in on everyone.

These two men, who I learned were new to this group, had been butted in on several times that evening and had a foul taste in their mouth from the event because of it. They told me that I was unique and that I stood out from the crowd, simply because I used the manners my mother taught me as a child.

I found this revelation strange because I can’t believe that of all the impressive people in that room, I’m the only one with any manners.

And, I find it wonderful because if it’s that easy for me to stand out in a crowd of very impressive people, then I’ve got it made!

Mind your manners, people. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also good for business.

~Steph.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011 13:24

Printer error…

It's been an emotional roller coaster here at SFMC HQ in the past hour: the printer stopped printing just as I needed to print a document for a client. Nothing dramatic, just stopped.

Called Epson support; reached a human being (yay!). They say hardware error and can't be fixed via reset over the phone (boo!).

They direct me to a service provider here in town (there's an actual service provider within 3 miles of my office? YAY!).

Call the service provider; they can fix it and they would recommend the maintenance as it's a quality machine (yay!).

Cost will be less than $100 (yay!).

Repair will take 3-5 days (boo!).

What to do in meantime? Pull old printer and install a printer I got two years ago "free" with purchase of a laptop. Box has never been opened (feeling quite pleased with self; hoarding does actually pay off sometimes).

No USB cable in box. Boo!

Wait! Same USB cable as old printer. YAY!

Printer drivers won't install - Windows 7 not supported (boo!).

Ultimate outcome: Go to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

And, find something that will print documents for next week. (Anyone??)

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

~Steph.

We had a catastrophic computer failure here at Savoir Faire HQ last Friday morning. You know, the kind of thing that will put a small business out of business for a few days? Nothing interesting happened, just the blue screen of death and then a crunchy little "click" and the computer shut down. For good. There may as well have been a puff of smoke wafting out of the keyboard for emphasis.

After panicking, getting calm again and taking control, I headed out to my local Staples store to get some help. Or so I thought. I walked in the door ready to buy a new computer on the spot, providing that they could transfer the data from my old one to the new one quickly.

(A tech friend had done a remote diagnosis and identified that it was probably a motherboard failure and that the data was probably all still intact. P.S. The computer is less than two years old.)

After explaining to the nice boy behind the Easy Tech counter that I was currently out of business and panicking and needed to get back in business as soon as humanly possible, he told me that their services were first-come, first-serve and that it would be four to five days before they could look at my computer. That wasn't a good enough answer for me, so I sent him off to look for another option.

He returned and told me that they had a mobile service where the technician comes to your location and does all the work within 24 hours. Fantastic! Sign me up. Who cares that it's an extra $200? I have to get back up and running now. Today, money is no object. How soon can we schedule that?

The nice boy returns to tell me that their mobile tech is on vacation this week. So what about the mobile tech for the other nearby stores? No, this is the mobile tech for all of Southern NH and, P.S., there's no one covering his vacation, making the 24-hour mobile option worse than the original. The closest mobile tech is in Western Massachusetts, making me wonder if  this is a multi-million dollar, industry-leading conglomerate, or a local mom and pop shop with service when someone decides they're available.

I sent the nice boy to talk with his managers to see if they had a better answer. They started making some phone calls and returned to tell me that there was a tech at the Manchester store that could start the work right away. Except that, upon arriving, no one in the Manchester store had heard anything about this and they told me that immediate data transfer couldn't be done.

Well, that was until Dave walked in the door and got up to speed on my story. We all figured Dave was the one the managers from the first store had spoken to since he was out on lunch when I arrived but it turns out he didn't take the call, either.

No matter, he smiled, picked up a screwdriver and took out the hard drive of the old machine. He identified that the data was all there and started pulling it off while Chip took me over to pick out the new laptop. Dave said he'd work on it that night and I left the store confident that my problem was in good hands and would soon be solved.

I went back to the store on Saturday mid-afternoon, about 24 hours after my first visit, and the computer was ready. We turned it on to look for the data and found that some of it was still missing - and critical pieces like all my client files. This time, Andy pulls out the hard drive on the old machine and started the whole process over again.

By Sunday, not quite 48 hours after walking into my first Staples store with the toasted laptop, the new computer was loaded with all of my important client data as well as music, pictures and all the other personal and professional data we all keep on our computers.

(Before anyone gets on my case about backing up my machine, it is continually backed up online by Carbonite, but pulling the information off the old computer was the quickest way to get up and running again quickly - providing I could find someone to do the work.)

We don't often find customer service that amazes and delights us, but I certainly found it at a Staples store in New Hampshire last weekend.

I would like to loudly and publicly thank Dave, Andy and Chip at Staples Manchester for getting me back in business in 48 hours, when their colleagues down the road said it would be almost a week. They deserve a full-on, cape-and-tights Superhero Award for service, attention and  responsiveness.

Are you listening, Staples executives? These men truly deserve your praise in addition to mine.

Stephanie.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011 13:23

Marketing that suits your business

I have seen some of the most outrageous analogies to tell stories about marketing. As a creative industry, I suppose it’s up to us to come up with engaging ways to tell stories you’ll remember. Mostly, I wonder how people come up with these things but now I can say that I have too, and it was really quite easy. I was folding laundry yesterday and had a thought about a discount store turtleneck that I’m not particularly fond of.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love style and fashion.  And, as a well-made woman, it’s sometimes challenging to find clothes that fit just right.

While there is no truly ‘average’ woman’s body, it seems to me that skinny girls have a lot more clothing options than some of the rest of us. They can get away with clothes from discount stores and still look great in them. Make no mistake, that’s envy you hear in my words.

If I put those same pieces on, you immediately see the flaws or lack of detail. A curvy hip shows poorly stitched seams; a buxom upper half illuminates gaping where there should be draping. You go up several sizes to fit one asset (fantastic for the confidence, by the way) only to find whatever item you’re compromising for to be desperately ill-fitting in another area. These issues aren’t as apparent when the same clothes are on an ‘average’ woman; the clothes hang well because the form doesn't push their limits.

Add to that the fact that there is no universal, or even common, sizing system for women and it makes shopping for something that fits and makes you feel good quite a challenge.

Well isn’t that little anecdote just the perfect metaphor for marketing your business?

On the other hand, if you pay a little more for an item of clothing, you’ll usually find that it’s better made and more forgiving. It very likely made of higher quality material and there has been attention paid to the details. Plus, when you have the patience to do the extra legwork to find that great piece, you might even find a store whose clothes seem that they were made just for you. Wearing anything you buy there will make you feel happy and confident and ready to take on the world. Rejoice and return often, I say.

Of course, the top end of the scale is haute couture, which, to those who don’t follow as closely as I do, is custom-fitted, hand-made clothing. It’s made to order for a specific person and is made from the highest-quality fabrics available by the most experienced dressmakers.

Read: one-of-a-kind.

Translation: expensive.

Couldn’t you say the same thing about marketing your business? While there are no truly ‘average’ businesses and no ‘average’ marketing needs, many practitioners would have you believe that what works for one business will work just as well for another.

There are definitely inexpensive options out there that will fit some businesses and they may even work great for them. Your friend or colleague may recommend, sometimes with uncommon vehemence, that you examine the services of Marketer X because they did such great things for that business.

And maybe you engage with that person but it’s unlikely you will see exactly the same results and that’s because the solution didn’t fit your business the same way it fit your friend’s business.

Most businesses can’t afford haute couture marketing. The big brands can, of course. That’s who it’s intended for. For most other companies, however, it takes some extra legwork to find the solution that's most appropriate. It doesn’t always mean paying more; it just means taking the time to find what fits right for your business. It’s easy, and quite enticing, to choose the most obvious option because it’s immediately available and easy to find. However, with a little more work on your part, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to find something that suits your business much better (pun sincerely intended).

Steph.

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 13:21

Got your library card?

Some days I wish I was as smart as some of my friends. Today, that friend is Andy Xhignesse, a colleague in Canada doing similar work to what I do here in New England. I read his recent blog post about the content you post online and was inspired by the wonderful metaphor he used for the Internet as it relates to your content.

Andy says, quite rightly, that the Internet is like a library, which makes the search engines Dewey Decimal experts with their little spectacles hanging off their noses while they perpetually catalog the contents of the Internet. Much of the time, he notes, visitors don't want the whole book; they just want the chapter or paragraph on the particular subject they're interested in.

The Internet allows companies to develop online content that can be indexed by individual words and phrases, rather than solely by titles of the whole book. And, to continue the metaphor, the "books" on the Internet can be single pieces of information, pictures, videos, blog posts, news articles, press releases, your website, case studies, tweets, powerpoint presentations, announcements and as many other types of content as you can imagine and optimize.

For a time I was the associate publisher at a statewide business magazine. It was exciting to be developing and creating and publishing something that so many people would read and refer to and talk about. This was before the Internet went social and online content became king.

Today, we don't need access to paper and ink and printing presses to develop the same level of influence. As much as I still adore print media, it's no longer the only game in town. Now you can become a publisher and your company can develop and create and publish content that your customers, clients and prospects - not to mention your colleagues and competitors - will find valuable and informative.

And the finding it is the key point. By creating content that is based on your expertise and targeted to your audience, you will naturally create content in certain subject areas. By using keywords  and phrases to optimize that content, you can ensure that your content is located in the right "section" of the library for your audience to find.

As to Andy's last point, the more 'books' your company has on the Internet, the more likely visitors will find you and 'check out' yours. Even better, nobody has to worry about late fees at this library!

Best,
Stephanie.

Thursday, 20 January 2011 00:00

Social media and the night sky

How many social media presentations have you been to? Whether free or paid, taught by a social media ‘industry’ person or someone doing it well in a company, an hour or a day long, there have been hundreds of these kinds of events just in my local business community in the past year or so. I’ve been to enough of them myself to know that finding an excellent program is not easy.

Here’s one of the things about most of these presentations that drives me absolutely nuts.

The presenter gets up there and starts talking. Their first slide is the name of their presentation, their company name and maybe the date or the group being spoken to. Invariably, the second or third slide is that horrible slide with a hundred social media logos on it. You know the one.Social

The presenter uses this slide as a way to show you, the audience member and non-social media user, what kind of opportunity awaits you in the land of social media.

The problem is, that audience member and non-social media user looks at that slide and thinks,”Shiitake mushrooms! I have to learn all that to get involved with social media?”And then they go along their merry, non-social way and continue to live their life without wading into the pool. The presenter’s message may even be that you can ease your way into social media, but the audience member is already tuned out, thinking about what project they need to work on when they get back to the office or checking emails on the blackberry.

I see two problems with introducing people to the ‘world’ of social media via a keynote speech or even a longer ‘boot camp’ event:

1.       There needs to be a fundamental change in how a person approaches marketing before you can even talk about how to utilize social media successfully to promote or market a business. I may be good with my hands but that doesn’t mean I can sit down and play a piano without some acclimation to what I’m supposed to be doing and why.

2.       There is so much involved with it that you can do about as much to introduce someone to social media in an hour-long seminar as you could to introduce them to the cosmos itself.


In fact, astronomy may be a very good metaphor for the study of social media. Each social media tool is like a planet, a star, nebulae or a galaxy. There are probably a few significant ones that you can start with (Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, YouTube) and there is a whole ecosystem of knowledge about their particular attributes to learn before you know how they will act in relation to the night sky.

A second reason the metaphor works is that the landscape doesn’t stand still. There are new developments in social media on a daily basis. No one person can say they are the ‘expert’ of it all because it is a constantly moving target the same way researchers and scientists are learning more about the planets and galaxies that our planet shares the sky with.

To that end, I hope you will never hear me refer to myself as a social media ‘expert.’ I prefer the term ‘student of social media.’ I’m the astronomer in the observatory with the stories’-high telescope, keeping a watchful eye on the night sky and charting the course of the objects moving in it.

Monday, 17 January 2011 13:17

Samardo Samuels, me and marketing

Admission: even I get nervous about writing a blog and I’ve been writing professionally since I was 16.

The first time I got paid for my writing, I was a junior in high school and some publishing house found me and wanted to use a story I wrote for the high school paper in a journalism textbook called "Reading the Newspaper." That’s right : a TEXTbook; like to teach other people how to write. And I was only 16!

Since then, I have written extensively for The Boston Globe, Business NH Magazine and The Hippo. On top of that, I write on behalf of my clients almost every day. I write Web copy, bylined articles, marketing materials, presentations, brochures. You name it. I write it.

And yet the thought of writing a blog stops me in my tracks.

What will people think? Am I qualified enough to offer my opinion? Aren’t there other people out there doing it bigger, better and faster than I am? Aren’t other people thinking more profound thoughts than I am? These are the thoughts that have prevented me from starting this blog for the couple of years I’ve been thinking about it.

No more!

A couple things crossed my mind recently that I found to be salient to this effort.

First, I am currently in the midst of a course on selling marketing services. It is a partnership between Hubspot, the inbound marketing experts, and Kurlan & Associates, a sales development organization in Massachusetts. The first step in this course was an extensive assessment of my skills as a sales person. I won’t bore you with the details, but the important finding in this context was that one of my weaknesses is “need for approval.”

What that means is that I want you to like me and I’m going to tip toe and tap dance so that I don’t say anything that would make you not like me. Now, if we were dating, that might come in handy (at least for the first few months), but we’re not dating and I realize that my need for your approval (whoever the hell you are) has been holding me back.

Secondly, I participated in a webinar given by Michael Katz last week. Michael is the Chief Penguin at Blue Penguin Development and the guy who writes newsletters about newsletters. He’s smart and funny and I’m a huge fan. Last week’s webinar was, appropriately, “How to be a Leading Expert,” and it talked about how to position yourself as an expert in your industry. He used a mind-bending analogy that I want to share here.

Samardo Samuels is an NBA basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He may be among the worst players in the league with an average of less than 15 minutes of playing time per game and fewer than 5 points per game.

Do you think Samardo Samuels is qualified to teach you basketball? Is he qualified to write about basketball? Is he qualified to talk about basketball?

Did you know that, in 2008, there were a grand total of 432 players in the NBA? And, according to the US Census, in 2009, there were 42,670,000 men in the US between the ages of 20 and 39, which I’m going to call 'professional basketball-playing age.'

That means that Samardo Samuels is in the top .00001 percent of potential basketball players in the country. Higher than the top hundred-thousandth of the top 1 percent!

Now do you think Samardo Samuels is qualified to teach, talk or write about basketball? I would say he is.

One of the reasons I lose my confidence is because I think of the stars of my industry, like Seth Godin or Guy Kawasaki. I could probably come up with 25 more names right off the top of my head and without looking at my bookshelf. No doubt they belong at the top of the league. They have earned their positions.

However, when I apply the Samardo Samuels paradigm to myself in the marketing universe that I work in, I do believe that I have a place at the table.

As you well know, marketing isn’t quite as exclusive as the NBA. Almost anyone can call themselves a marketing expert, and many people do.

But think about this, according to that same US Census, in 2009 there were roughly 184,015,000 people in the United States between the ages of 20 and 64. I’m going to call that ‘business age.’ What if I just want to be among the top ten-thousandth of a percent? Then the question for me is, do I think that I belong among the top 18,401 marketing thinkers in the country? Even if we assumed that these people were distributed evenly among the 50 states, do I think I belong among the top 368 marketers just here in New Hampshire? Yeah. You’d better believe I do!

So, am I qualified to talk and write about marketing, even teach a course on social media? Ab-so-get-down-lutely. And that’s just what I’m going to do. I hope you'll join me in that conversation.

Best,
Steph.

Friday, 07 January 2011 13:15

New Year, New Ideas

I’m not really a New Year’s Resolution kind of gal. If I make them at all, they don’t usually last that long and then I just feel bad. Instead I try to work on personal growth all year long, trying the things that sound intriguing and making those that work well for me a part of my life.

That being said, I do tend towards reflection at this time of year and I’ve been thinking a lot about Savoir Faire recently and what its next iteration looks like.

During a conversation with a very good friend recently, she pulled something from our conversation that stopped me in my tracks:

Always learning.
Always inspired.
Always empowered.
Always accountable.

These are things she said about Stephanie McLaughlin, the person but, upon hearing them, these are things that I would like to bring to Savoir Faire, the business, to use as guiding principles. (Hopefully you'll even see them in some updated Web copy soon!)

The reason I liked this so much is that it becomes a two-way promise; it’s how the business operates and it’s a bargain I would like to make with my clients as well.

Always learning
It’s true, I’m always interested in what’s new. In relation to Savoir Faire, I’m constantly on the lookout for what’s next, what’s going on, what new developments are taking place in the marketing, public relations and social media worlds.

Always inspired
I’m always on the lookout for inspiration and actively in search of it. I believe it can come from anywhere so it's good to keep your eyes open and your mind tuned. Something you learn in one area can inspire you in a completely different area. According to my good friend, it’s also something I impart in many of my personal interactions through the enthusiasm I have for what I've learned and how it can be applied.

Always empowered
I’m not typically an ‘ask permission’ kind of gal.

Always accountable
For me, this is the other side of the ‘always empowered’ coin. Whether my decisions are right or wrong, I am accountable for their outcomes.

Now that you know a little more about me, let’s talk about how these ideas can apply to clients who are working with Savoir Faire.

When you work with Savoir Faire, I want you to be learning. You don’t need to learn about inbound marketing or search engine optimization or website design but you should learn about how what we’re doing is going to impact and affect your business and what you can do to leverage the work we’re doing for you.

Working together, I hope we inspire each other to keep reaching new heights and doing better and better work. When you learn about what I’m doing and how it can boost your business, I hope it inspires you to think of additional ways we can work together to drive results. That, in turn, will energize me and my team to keep stretching on your behalf.

I may not be an ‘ask permission’ girl in my personal life, but I will need your permission to do great work for your business. That may mean letting go of some of the details or trusting my team to do good work for you without understanding exactly how it all works. In turn, I will do my part to give you what you need to run and grow your business, whether that’s information, explanation, reports or coaching.

Likewise, I will need you to hold up your end of the bargain. If that means writing a post for your business blog once a week or getting on the phone with me regularly, then that’s what you need to do. You see, I’m going to need you to do your part so that I can do mine effectively. In my experience, I have found that careful plans and marketing strategies don’t fail; people fail implementing them. If we are both accountable for our pieces of the puzzle, then our strategies will succeed and your business will benefit.

My approach is based on delivery and, in order to deliver for you, I’m going to need for both of us to be learning, inspired, empowered and accountable. Together, we’ll get great results. I look forward to working with you!

Best,
Stephanie.

Monday, 27 December 2010 00:00

Time for new shoes

As with much of the wisdom I've accumulated in my life, the answer to the question in my last post was given to me by my mother. What do you call a a late-adopter who was aware of something when the early-adopters were adopting it and has been watching and studying it ever since but hasn’t yet adopted it themselves (until now)? An academic, of course. But that’s not exactly what I want to be. I aspire to be one of those fantastic adjunct professors who actually does what they teach: a practicing academic.

I don’t know how many times I’ve said to my clients, prospects, friends and colleagues with a self-deprecating chuckle, “you know how it is; the cobblers children have no shoes.” Well it’s winter now and the kids can’t walk to school barefoot in the foot-and-a-half of snow that fell overnight so it’s just plain time to do something about it.

To that end, I am going to try to implement the kind of marketing, communications and social media programs for Savoir Faire that I recommend and execute for my clients. 2011 is the year the kids got shoes, baby!

(And, if you know anything about me, you know those shoes are going to be fantastic!)

Best,
Steph.

Monday, 06 December 2010 00:00

Hello World!

What do you call a late-adopter who was aware of something when the early-adopters were adopting it and has been watching and studying it ever since but hasn't yet adopted it themselves (until now)? I don't know, either, but if you come up with something, let me know so I know what to call myself.

So, blogging. Yeah. Easy enough so far, right? Sixty words in and it's going well.

Now for the hard part: coming up with something compelling, or even merely interesting, to write about on a regular basis. Hopefully that something will be engaging enough to start a conversation with friends, followers and colleagues. That something will very likely be focused on subjects that are of interest to me professionally: marketing, communications, storytelling, identifying and locating audiences, social media, websites and the use and promotion thereof. The something might also include running and growing a small business and the trials, tribulations and triumphs that accompany it.

So, my homework for tonight is to do what I recommend my clients do and create an editorial calendar. Traditionally, an editorial calendar was used by print publications to identify the sections, features and subjects that will be covered in upcoming issues. It serves to maintain that publication's editorial focus in a particular area or ensure that they cover certain subjects at certain times of the year. For my purposes, an editorial calendar will help me keep my focus with this blog, which will make it more effective for me as a business tool and, hopefully, more relevant for you as a reader.

While I'm sure you'd all love to hear about my personal antics and escapades, as they are hilarious hijinks, that won't serve my business all that well and I'm guessing that you'd stop coming back pretty quickly (except of course you, mom!). Also, if I'm going to invest my precious time into maintaining a blog, then I would like for it to have some value for my business.

So there it is: my first 'walking the walk.' To those of my clients who I have been advising, imploring, cajoling and educating about blogs, here's me putting my own words into practice.

Best,
Steph

Monday, 08 April 2013 00:00

Branding Guidelines

Creating a branding guidelines document can be helpful for guiding your marketing materials and keeping everything visually complementary 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011 00:00

Retail signage

Signs tell  stories in different ways

Tuesday, 14 May 2013 00:00

Java Jackets and Aeropot wraps

Fun with goats and ancient Chinese warriors

Friday, 07 June 2013 15:21

Increase Facebook Engagement

Do you know what your Facebook fans are responding to? So what are you doing about it? 

Thursday, 07 March 2013 00:00

Artists for Earth Day

A Facebook contest can grow fans and increase fan engagement

Friday, 07 June 2013 15:26

Come SNHHUG-le with us!

The next meeting of the Southern NH HUG is June 26. Meet and network with other inbound marketers.

Hampton Terrace ran a co-promotion with a spa in NYC. Each company gained exposure to a new audience and two lucky winners got something fabulous. 

Monday, 17 September 2012 00:00

So you’re going to a show

A professional, cohesive trade-show display can help your company make a positive impression at an event. 

Monday, 10 June 2013 16:30

Can’t help but toot our own horn!

How do you let your network know when you make a move?

Thursday, 27 September 2012 00:00

We love monsters!

Something fun when you lose your place

Monday, 27 January 2014 14:19

Inbound leads need a different approach

When prospects find you via inbound techniques, you can’t put them through the same old sales process. 

Thursday, 15 August 2013 00:00

The Verdict is In

Ad series for A&E Coffee included in NH Creative Club Juried Show

Tuesday, 29 May 2012 00:00

Have you spotted these?

Billboards for Senior Financial Resources build visibility in Manchester and Nashua

Tuesday, 26 February 2013 00:00

Share the spotlight

Sometimes, tooting your own horn sometimes sounds off-key. When you toot others as well, it gets much more musical.

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