Social Media Builds Small Biz Awareness

Nearly 40% of American small businesses use social media marketing (SMM) to build their brands – up from 10% last year and since everyone is looking to more effectively and efficiently hook up with their customers and its no surprise to me to see the growth of active brands in SMM.

Among brands using social media marketing, 39% say it has increased it’s brand exposure however 17% say their  brand has seen no benefit at all.

Why the difference? My bet is that it all comes down to strategy, execution and measurement.

Here’s how the the social media tool usage breaks down by the numbers: 27% – Facebook, 9% – LinkedIn, 8% – Twitter, 5% – Blog.

In my personal brand experience (e.g., with my own brand site and client sites) if only 5% of SMB’s in the study are using Blogs, then I’m not surprised to see their disappointment. Blogs ROCK by adding rich search engine friendly copy and help guide and customers. A Blog is a natural extension to your Website and email marketing and to not have one is a big mistake.

Blogs are a low cost platform for 1 to 1 and 1 to many conversations and discussions and they boost website traffic and help you manage your online reputation and so much more. And, I can’t think of a brand that could not benefit from having a Blog. And, a better Website! Lots of small businesses are not keeping up with putting forth a great Website presence – all of this interactive/social stuff needs to be integrated people!

You need to  remember that your customers now have their own audience and are a communication channel and the more you can improve your brand experience and customer relationships and be connected to them via social media marketing you will build bridges between you and them and their friends and family.

Sure this stuff takes time, but anything worthwhile usually does! And, the multiplier effect of this low cost communication tool (remember this stuff can help you save on advertising spending) will pay off far more than the time you invested in it if you truly ‘bring it.’

 

As people move more to mobile computer use, social media communication will skyrocket and all communication networks will be social.

We’re getting there pretty fact already – about 30% of Facebook users access their accounts via their phones now (check out Facebook Connect)!

Sources: eMarketer the American Express OPEN fall 2010 “Small Business Monitor.”

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Best Amusement Park for Kids and Families

Idlewild and SoakZone Best Park for Kids & Families

All of us at BrandMill are happy to report that one of our super clients – Idlewild & Soak Zone in Ligonier, PA (about an hour drive from Pittsburgh) – is now open and operating its 134th season of summer fun and has made a huge splash with its new water park attraction, “Wowabunga” Family Wave Pool.

New Wowabunga Family Wave Pool

 

Wowabunga features intermittent waves suitable for both younger and older guests as well as a “beach” area perfect for guests looking to soak up the summer sun. See awe-inspiring cirque entertainment all summer long at Cirque Extreme – Under the Big Top and enjoy the following special events – all included with the price of admission – and with free picnicking too:

  • June 13 – 17 & June 20 – 24 – BOGO Days
  • June 19 – Firefighter/EMS Family Appreciation Day
  • June 27 – July 3 – Showcase of Stars
  • July 4 – Fireworks
  • July 5 -8 – Antique & Classic Car Show and Parade
  • July 11 – 15 – Mister Rogers’ Neighbor Days
  • July 18 – 22 – Meet the Marvel Comic Super Heroes (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America)
  • July 25 -29 – Christmas In July
  • July 31 – Cheerleading Competition
  • August 12 – Italian Day Festa
  • August 22 – 26 – Car Load Days
  • October – Hallowboo!

For more details, check out this recent video on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today LIVE featuring Park Spokesperson Jeff Croushore.

About Idlewild & ZoakZone

Founded in 1878 as a simple picnic ground along the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, Idlewild & SoakZone is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and third-oldest in America. In addition, it is rated the best kid’s park in the world by Amusement Today magazine and the best park for families by the National Amusement Park Historical Association. Idlewild features seven fun theme areas such as SoakZone Waterpark, Story Book Forest and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe.  Seasonal operations run through Labor Day and “Hallowboo,” a Halloween-themed event, takes place in October. Idlewild is part of the Palace Entertainment family which hosts over 13 million visitors annually at 40 locations across the country.  With 8 theme parks, 11 water parks and 21 family entertainment centers, Palace is the largest operator of water parks and family entertainment centers in the nation. For more information, call 724.238.3666 or visit http://www.idlewild.com and http://www.palaceentertainment.com.

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A Memorial Day to Remember

As a marketer, I’m all for promotions and sales, but over the past few years, I have become increasingly sickened and saddened by the commercialization of Memorial Day.

Throughout this past week, my mailbox was overflowing with Memorial Day/Weekend sales messages and offers, my TV has been pounding me with offers and yesterday I awoke to find a free American flag in my front yard with a real estate agent’s business card attached to it.

So, when I discovered Steve McCallion’s series in Fast Company magazine about how to make Memorial Day for meaningful, it struck a chord with me.

I’ve always considered myself a patriotic guy, but confess I’ve strayed away from participating in the true message and meaning of Memorial Day. That’s why today and for future Memorial Days, I will pause to reflect and remember my family members who have served in America’s wars.

More importantly, I will pay homage and tribute to – and pray for – those who paid the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives in battle such as the following men who attended my alma mater Bishop Canevin High School in Pittsburgh, PA – Joel D. Coleman, ’63, James K. McAleer, ’64, Robert F. Bahl, Jr., ’65, James F. Engelmeier, ’66, Norman F. Benedik, ’66 and Ryan J. Kovacicek, ’01.

It is my hope that today and for years to come we Marketers and Americans will follow a new tradition of putting ‘Memorial’ back into Memorial Day.

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Honor Flight Pittsburgh

Remember this weekend (especially Monday) and EVERY day that, “All gave some and some gave all!”

We’re building a team looking to establish an Honor Flight hub in western Pennsylvania – there’s no hub in our state.

Ours is a simple mission – to raise funds to fly/escort World War II vets to visit their Washington DC Memorial (and other Memorials) to thank them for their selfless service for freedoms we enjoy and so often take for granted.

If interested in hearing more (or know someone who might be interested), please email us.

“We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” – Will Rogers

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Show and Tell More to Sell More

Just got back in town to Pittsburgh, from two glorious weeks throughout Italy and Switzerland.

Ugh!  What a state of depression I’ve been in since! Can’t wait to go back!

We saw some amazing, breathtaking sights such as the Sistine Chapel, The David (I’m a big Michelangelo fan), The Vatican, Pompeii , the Amalfi Coast, Capri, and much more.

However, one man/woman made creation that simply took my breath away as a marketer was the Gelateria (gelato) stands and stores throughout the various Italian cities we visited. They seemed to be on every street corner!

And, what a merchandiser’s dream of flawless execution.

Believe me, even if you were a severe lactose intolerant individual, you’d cave in to any one of these Italian gelato taste bud blowing experiences.

You would not be able to resist it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

As these pictures show, the merchandising of these Italian Gelateria’s are without peer. And, the taste delivers on the merchandising promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My question then is, “What are you doing with your merchandising to create a brand experience such as these Gelaterias?”

P.S.: For a great tour guide for Italy, the Holy Land and more, check out Fr. Anthony Nachef’s Proximo Travel. And, tell him Steve Wayhart sent you!

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Priory is SBA family-owned small business of the year

L-R - Priory co-owners Suzanne and John Graf and GM Tim McGlothlin. (Photo/Kelly Thomas)

Congratulations to a great client and family – the Graf family, owners of the Priory Hospitality Group in Pittsburgh, PA – for being recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the Family Owned Business of the Year!

See story here.

All of us at BrandMill are proud to serve as a marketing partner of the Priory Hospitality Group.

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