Are You Marketing To Yourself Or To Your Target Market?

November 11th, 2009

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Message from Michelle

I can hardly believe it’s November, especially with the warm weather we’ve had in Charleston. This weekend was absolutely gorgeous and we were able to celebrate Halloween and Mama Mia’s Birthday outside.

I’m busy preparing for my speech tomorrow at the Queens University MFA alumni conference, where I’ll be sharing with writers, editors, and publishers how I married my love for writing and adventure and started a copywriting company. As I look back over the last two years and what I’ve learned about writing effective marketing copy, I thought I’d share some of that knowledge with you.

Marketing copy. It’s what persuades prospects to buy from you. If the message is not clear, if you do not tap into your prospect’s needs and desires, if you focus too much on your company or the products / services you offer, you fail to connect and prospects are less likely to purchase from you. This issue’s feature article encourages you to take a good look at your marketing copy and see if you are marketing to yourself or to your target market.

Feature Article:

Are You Marketing To Yourself Or To Your Target Market

Whether you’re writing copy for your website, a brochure, landing page, or press release, you must write for your target market. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But it’s a common mistake many companies make. One of the best ways to tell whom you are marketing to–yourself or your target market–is to see if your copy is too focused on the features of your products or services.

When your copy focuses too much on your product / service and all the great features that go along with it, you’re straying far from what your target audience wants to hear. What they care about is how it will fulfill a need or desire they have. Only when you tap into their needs and desires will your prospects want more details.

How do you know if your marketing copy is too product-oriented?

Does your copy speak about the product features and not the benefits your target market will receive? If so, your copy is too product-oriented.

Your copy should effectively communicate how your products / services will fill your target market’s needs. In order to sell your product, your target audience must perceive your product in a certain way. Why? Because perception drives purchasing decisions. Prospects must believe your product / service will satisfy their needs.

Purchasing decisions are influenced by several unconscious and conscious factors. When people think about purchasing a product, they analyze the features and the benefits associated with the product / service. Then, they associate certain features and benefits with emotions. They might ask: Will this product fulfill my need and desire? How has a product / service such as this made me feel in the past?

No matter the product / service, making a purchase must provide a logical solution to their needs as well as an emotional solution. When you win over both the rational and emotional side of your prospect, prospects will purchase from you.

Does your copy allow your target market to connect with your company? If not, your copy is too product-oriented.

When your copy is too focused on your product, your target audience will not feel a connection. When there is no connection, they are less likely to purchase from you. Prospects can’t connect to features, but they can connect with benefits they perceive about a product / service. Features are empty?there is nothing to connect with until there is a benefit. In order to effectively connect with your target audience, you must illustrate your business message in a clear and concise manor and show your prospects how they your product / services will satisfy them.

Does your copy encourage your target audience to perceive your product / service the way you would like them to? If not, your copy is too product-oriented.

People perceive themselves and their environment in specific ways. It is up to your marketing copy to tap into your target audience’s desires, needs, and emotions and influence them to perceive your product / service in a specific way. You must convey a clear brand message?one that ignites a prospect’s emotions in a positive way and persuades him or her that their need will be satisfied. Your target audience’s perception is a reality.

Tip of the Month

According to a report conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, the percentage of used-vehicle buyers who used the Internet as a primary resource for locating cars for sale increased 6% from 40% in 2008 to 46% in 2009. 31% of these people found the car they ended up purchasing via the Internet. Only 28% of buyers found their car at a dealership they visited.

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Has Your Business Been Implementing The Constantly Evolving Trends In Public Relations?

November 9th, 2009

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The world of public relations has constantly been evolving, but now more than ever, we have seen a large shift in public relations practices thanks to the dramatic increase in online technology.

In this exclusive interview with Vladia Jurcova-Spencer, co-founder and publicist for Stylee PR & Marketing, Vladia illustrates the shift in public relations practices and shares her proven tips for integrating word-of-mouth promotion into your public relations practices.

Sumer: As a public relations professional who has been involved with the industry for more than twelve years now, you’ve witnessed the transformation of how companies and publicists approach public relations. With the rise of new online platforms, specifically social media, how does word-of-mouth marketing factor into PR campaigns?

Vladia: We have seen the industry change significantly in the last few years. Although what many call PR 2.0 really just launched with the introduction of the Web 2.0 applications, major changes started happening almost ten years ago.

When it comes to word of mouth, there are certain rules that apply. Either we are talking about traditional PR or PR 2.0, which today heavily involves social media. Word-of-mouth marketing campaigns are based on the principle that people love to talk and it doesn’t matter if they are having a face-to-face conversation or if this conversation is happening on social networks. Companies still need to develop unique stories about their products and services in the hope that these will inspire people to talk. Having an interesting new product or thinking outside the box are two good reasons why people will talk. One thing to keep in mind is that happy customers occasionally talk, but unhappy customers will certainly share their unpleasant experience.

Giving customers tools to make their conversations easier is where social media and its accessibility come in play. Sharing links, photos, videos, and up-to-date information on blogs is the fastest way to spread news and create word of mouth. We see many companies today that engage customers through free offers on their websites. Large corporations especially have incredibly interactive websites that pull you in. Good examples are Ethan Allen and Ikea, which allow you to create your own designs.

When creating a word-of-mouth campaign for our clients, we focus on targeting talkers. It’s not hard to find them; we all know that one person who is up-to-date on every new product or happening. These people are our talkers and will help us spread the word. Inviting them to special events and launch parties and sending them free samples are great ways of engaging them.

Although companies were always encouraged to join the conversation, it has never been easier than today. Social media is a new tool that allows us not only to listen to conversations happening online, but also take part in them. Our clients use Twitter Search or Google Reader to keep track of these conversations and take part in them when it is appropriate. It’s important to avoid spamming.

The last and most important part of a successful word-of-mouth campaign is tracking the results and understanding and measuring what people are saying.

Sumer: How do you get people to talk about clients and promote them via word of mouth? Please give specific examples.

Vladia: We use different tools to promote our clients. To give some examples, when we first launched FireFly vodka we focused on getting the product in front of people. Free samples worked magic for us with this client. Also, developing a product or offering services that are trendy and in demand is essential in getting people to talk. In my career I have seen too many companies that created a product first and then tried to find out if there was demand for it.

We of course also work with clients that cannot hand out free samples; in that case we create special events that are unique to the market. In 2005, Stylee PR & Marketing created the Palette and Palate Stroll for our client the Charleston Fine Art Dealers Association. We produced it as an exclusive event that paired the finest local restaurants with some of the best local galleries. We also picked July as our preferred date as it is a fairly slow month for Charleston (most popular events take place in the spring). It was a gamble that paid off, and so far we have sold out every year.

The fine art and fine cuisine event has brought hundreds of visitors to Charleston when hotel occupancy is low, so the whole community is benefiting from the event. Pairing art with fine food on such a scale had not been done before in our city. Today, we see many similar events in Charleston, but we were the first ones to introduce it to the city. You know that you have a great thing when people start copying your ideas. This year, we actually set a trend on Twitter with most tweets and retweets about the Palette and Palate Stroll.

Sumer: What are some amazing results you have seen for your clients as a result of word-of-mouth promotion?

Vladia: In 2005, a former client created very exclusive Chocolate Tours of Charleston that immediately received attention from local and national media. We created special hotel packages for chocolate lovers and people flocked to Charleston to do the tours. The word spread quickly and the tours sold out. We could have sold four times as many tours if we had the capacity. I still get emails from people coming to Charleston interested in the tours.

Some months ago, our client rehava real estate store, which offers half of its commission back at closing to buyers (why pay more!), made news all over the country when RE/MAX decided to oppose its logo trademark registration, claiming that rehava’s logo is too similar to their own. After a couple of articles in the local newspapers and online, all hell broke lose for RE/MAX as the public came to defend rehava. Over fifteen thousand people cast their vote on (later reported as an all time record for the Post and Courier) in support of People sent emails to the CEO of RE/MAX and we recorded thousands of comments online within two days of Stylee PR breaking the news. RE/MAX decided to withdraw its opposition and rehava got its trademark. Using word of mouth in combination with the traditional and social media, we managed to spread the word about the potential lawsuit to hundreds of thousands of people.

Sumer: What direction do you see the public relations industry heading toward in the next two to three years? Specifically, what trends do you see evolving and how do you think those trends will shift public relations?

Vladia: Traditionally, most people got their news by reading newspapers and watching TV. According to the latest statistics released in a Pew Research survey concerning public accuracy of news, 71% of the public gets most of their news from TV, more than 40% get most of their news from the Internet, and only 33% cite newspapers. These numbers, along with the speed at which newspapers and magazines are going out of business, give major indications of in which direction our industry is heading.

Many prominent newspaper editors left their positions to join the blogosphere. Top blogs get more visitors on their sites than well-established newspapers do today. Consumer behavior is fundamentally changing, and public relations professionals will have to learn these new behaviors and follow the consumers. The most important thing for any company is engaging in a conversation, whether it is with existing or potential consumers.

Since there is less money to spend on advertising due to the economic collapse, more and more companies are looking for new online technologies. Social networks open a door to a meaningful exchange and communications with consumers. The public relation industry has to embrace this change and new online technologies. The demand is already there. I get phone calls from individuals or companies looking for help with the new media or social media. If I had tried to propose a marketing campaign that involved social networks to my clients two years ago, no one would have even understood the concept and the power of what I was talking about.

Visit the Stylee PR & Marketing website at You can contact Vladia and the team at 843.345.3275 or via email .

Vladia’s Bio:

Vladia Jurcova-Spencer is a publicist, photographer, and a world traveler. Vladia graduated with a Mass Communication degree from the University of Charleston at Charleston, WV. Originally from Slovakia, she coordinated international relations activities for the Ministry of Land Economy of Slovakia prior to relocating to the United States, marketing major government projects to financial institutions across the globe. In 2004, she co-founded Stylee PR & Marketing; she is devoted to creating unique and effective PR and marketing campaigns that keep her clients one step ahead of the competition. Vladia is the president of the Zonta Club of Charleston, and also serves as a PR and Marketing Chair of the Charleston Arts Coalition.

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Top 5 Reasons Your Target Audience Leaves Your Site during the First Few Clicks

November 6th, 2009

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Your products / services are perfect for audience, but still they leave without buying anything or without even looking around. Why?

The following is a list of easily remedied reasons why your perfect customer isn’t giving you a chance:

1) Unappealing Design: Despite being told since we were children not to judge a book by its cover, we still do. No matter how well-written, informative, and helpful your website is, if it’s unattractive or appears unprofessional, visitors will assume that there is nothing of value on the site and move on.

How to fix it: If you aren’t a designer, hire a professional to design your website. It may cost more up front, but it will result in visitors who stick around longer and are more likely to purchase your products or services.

2) Lack of street signs and breadcrumbs: Websites are built with an expectation of how visitors will get from point A to point B, but, similar to real life, people rarely follow those defined paths–consider how often people choose to walk across the grass rather than stay on the sidewalks. If visitors arrive at a subsection of your website and either don’t know where they are or don’t know how to find earlier sections, then they will get frustrated and leave.

How to fix it: Make sure your navigation is clear, regardless of what page visitors arrive on. Every page needs to have your company logo, a page header, and an easy-to-understand navigation bar in order for visitors to know where they are on the website. For more complicated websites, you might consider laying out breadcrumbs such as Home>Services>Lawn and Garden>Mowing–this will show visitors where they are now, and how to get to previous navigation levels. Keep in mind that users won’t always be able to just press the back button, so make sure users never find themselves stuck on a page.

3) It takes too long to reach the content: Internet users are impatient. How long are you willing to wait for a page to load before leaving and trying a different site? Thirty seconds if it’s something you really wanted to see? Five to seven if it’s a random site you were linked to or found through a search engine?

The same is true of content. If it takes the visitor too long to reach the content they’re looking for, whether it’s because of a lengthy splash page, too much required reading, or too many pages to click through to reach what they want, they’ll look for their information elsewhere.

How to fix it: Don’t waste your visitors’ time. Avoid fancy splash pages unless you have reason to believe that your target audience will love them. Tell visitors the most important information about who you are, what the purpose of your website is, and how you can help them right away. Make your navigation simple enough for them to click directly to the page they want, instead of needing to click through several pages to reach it. The longer it takes visitors to find what they’re looking for, the less likely they are to stick around.

4) Your Website doesn’t appear to meet their needs: Have you ever read every page of a site and still had no idea what products or services were being offered? When visitors arrive at your site and don’t immediately understand its purpose, or it doesn’t appear to be what they want, they’ll back out of the site and try another website.

How to fix it: Stop trying to impress your visitors and just talk to them. Make your content simple and straight forward don’t hide behind fancy phrases and words that you think make you sound good. Also, make sure that your website design matches your brand. If users are visiting because of a serious matter and your website design is fun and bouncy, they’ll decide this isn’t what they’re looking for without even reading your content.

5) No encouragement to look beyond the landing page: Many times, people are linked directly to a page within a site, usually a blog or video of interest. They read or watch the one item of interest and leave without looking at anything else.

How to fix it: First, make sure the purpose of your website is clear and consistent on every page. This can be as simple as having a short byline at the end of each blog that says who you are and what you offer (Example: Michelle Salatar is the CEO of Sumer, LLC, a company that specializes in web copy writing, SEO copywriting, and the promotion and marketing of websites after they launch). It should be unobtrusive so as not to annoy regulars, but explanatory enough that new visitors aren’t required to search for who are and what you do.

Second, link to similar articles, videos, or games (Example: If you like this, you’d also like . . .). This will keep users on your website longer, and if they find multiple things they enjoy, they’re more likely to subscribe to updates and return at a later date.

Third, include a short call to action, such as Subscribe, Share and Enjoy, or Follow me on Twitter. Don’t make these hard to find because most visitors are unwilling to search for them.

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Confessions of a Boring Blogger

November 4th, 2009

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I used to have a blog called the Michelle Show. I was a travel writer back then, and I used to chronicle my adventures around the globe. Last night, I read over some of the old posts I have on my hard drive–How to Tick off Passengers in Your Safari Vehicle and How My Mother Wrangled a Family of Fruit Flies.

Great stories. Funny material. Beautiful photos.

Recently, a few of my blog readers asked me to share a bit more about myself on my blog. They said they want to see more of Michelle in the posts. They want to see the main character in Sumer’s brand story.

I said I’d think about it.

This Friday I’m speaking to a room full of writers, editors, and publishers at the Queens University MFA Alumni Conference. I’m talking about how I made a business out of what I love, writing. As I prepare for this speech, I’m reminded of why I decided to marry my passion for writing and adventure and start a copywriting company. I’ve also been thinking about my story, the story of how I ended up where I am, and of how Sumer came to be.

Story. I’ve built a business telling stories. Telling other people’s stories. But somewhere along the way, I lost myself somewhere between blog posts. I became distant in my own company messaging. Lost in obligations. Lost in meetings.

People want to feel connected. They want to feel a sense of belonging, as if they are a part of the story. That’s what makes successful writers. And that’s what makes successful brands.

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Attract More Clients: Take a Lesson from a Fisherman

November 2nd, 2009

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Message from Michelle:

With my “The Secrets to Influencing Your Online Market” bootcamp starting next week, we’re busy promoting and preparing for the class.

Earlier this week I announced we have two new expert guests joining us on the call. Jonathan Kauffmann of Nest Realty (2009 Inman Innovator Award for most innovative brokerage firm) will be sharing how his real estate firm uses Twitter and blogging to attract clients and sell homes. And, blogger Heidi Farmer, owner of The Good Stuff Guide will share tips on how to approach bloggers with a product / service. If you’re still on the fence, this is a class you don’t want to miss.

This week’s issue of Sumer’s Secrets is about knowing where and how to attract clients. PR 2.0 is about building relationships with people–peers and prospects–who can make markets. You must first find where these markets hang out online and then listen to the conversation. If you want to achieve different results–more clients, more press, more credibility, more online exposure–you need to approach your market in a whole new way.

If you missed the preview call, feel free to listen to it here:
Connect With Me Online at:



Feature Article

Attract More Clients: Take a Lesson from a Fisherman

We’ve all heard the phrase fish where the fish are when referring to attracting clients, but have you ever asked yourself if you’re doing just that? If not, why? Or have you ever stopped to consider what it means to fish where the fish are and the results you would see if you actually did it? If not, it’s time to take a fishing lesson.

Fishing and attracting clients require the same skills. Below is a breakdown of skills required for fishing successfully compared to the skills required for attracting clients.

Skills required to successfully fish:

* Fish where the fish feed. If you’re looking to catch a spot tail bass, you need to head to the salt water flats. Or, if you’re fishing for flounder, you want your baited hook to be on the ocean bottom, not floating on the surface.

* Tackle is key. You need to know what you’re fishing for, what they eat, and feeding habits. Certain species of fish won’t even go near your bait or lure tackle if you aren’t enticing them properly. These fish know how their prey behaves before they strike, which is why it takes the proper skill to emulate authentic prey movement. If you’re using tackle but aren’t flicking your rod to imitate real movement, then the fish you’re trying to catch will sense that your tackle isn’t a real insect or other aquatic creature and completely avoid your line.

* Be patient within reason. If you drop in your line and don’t get any bites immediately, it doesn’t mean the fish aren’t there. You just have to be patient and allow the fish to see your bait, trust it, and choose to bite. But, if you don’t have bites within a certain time period, you might want to consider switching fishing holes. They’re not there.

* Hook, Line, and Sinker.

Skills required to attract more clients:

* Be present in places you know your target market congregates. If your target market can be found online reading and commenting on industry blogs, discussion forums, and / or social media sites (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter), then you want to make sure you are present on these online platforms as well.

* Attract clients with the right strategies. Phony and unauthentic strategies aren’t going to get you anywhere with your target audience. If you want your target market to purchase from you, they must trust you first. This is why a transparent business model crucial for online marketing success.

* Be patient within reason. When you start to implement marketing strategies on social media sites and across a variety of online channels, you’re not going to see immediate results. It takes time to build relationships and connect with your target audience. You can’t expect them to trust you and purchase from you right off the bat. You need to continue your efforts and wait for the results. They’ll come to you.

* Now that you’ve got potential clients in your funnel, it’s time to get them to take action. Whether that action is to call or email you for further information, purchase a product online, or visit your store, you must use a call-to-action to encourage them to follow through.


Tip of the Month

According to . . .

  • Radio took 38 years to reach 50 million users.
  • TV took 13 years to reach 50 million users.
  • Internet took 4 years to reach 50 million users.
  • iPod took 3 years to reach 50 million users.
  • Facebook took 9 months to reach 100 million users
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