Friday, July 27, 2012

Email Marketing What you need to know

Email Marketing - What you need to know.

This is a great info-graphic (What is Email Marketing, created by Arjan De Raaf, posted June 30, 2012) that has been passed around and pinned/re-pinned on Pinterest recently. Email marketing is a common tactic, though often done poorly.  

Used effectively, email marketing will keep your customers and prospect engaged and informed. Like all other forms of engagement, to be effective, it is most important to start you email marketing program with a strategy.  

Because of the transition from outbound (broadcast) to inbound (search) marketing, having an effective email program that utilizes opt-in permissions is a must, especially for small and medium size business.  The concern I hear most is the investment. We just discussed this at our local networking group and really, the investment in time to set up the program, segment your email lists, recognize what gaps exist and put a plan in place to effectively communicate with all the various groups is an investment in time that will constantly reward you down the road. 

The numbers in the info-graphic back up the need; 74% of commercial users, prefer email for their communication needs, 58% of consumers check email first thing in the morning (are these reflective of you, be honest, your the only one looking). According to the Direct Marketing Association (US), the return on investment for email marketing in 2011 was $40.56. This is far superior to most marketing efforts. To achieve these numbers, your email needs to be attractive and relevant. By relevancy, we mean that your email has meaning or value for your audience.  

The key is your plan. Understand who your audience is, what you are trying to achieve with your email program (lead generation, awareness, customer service, new product education, etc) and how do you want to make your email attractive (compel the reader to take action).  With your plan in place, your email audience will know what they are going to get from you and how easy it will be to engage.

Hope this helps. I've included some other resources that you might find of value. 


Additional Resources:

Email Marketing Power - A blog I wrote for TDG Marketing Inc.

Email Recommended Best Practices - Industry Canada's Email Marketing Best Practices (Reduce Spam)

Creating a Good Email Marketing Strategy - Ed Henrich published in ClickZ

Email Marketing Services Comparison - Published by Top Ten Reviews - I've included this as a reference only and encourage you to do your own research to find the system that best suits your needs and desires. Please utilize your networks to find out experiences from your trusted sources.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Encouraging Creativity - Spencer and Pinterest

I work for a full service marketing and advertising firm located in Brantford, Ontario.  I also have a wonderful son, who within a few weeks will be turning 10.  Ever since Spencer's be able to walk, he's been included in my work endeavors.  He learned social responsibility and acceptance of others while I worked to raise funds for a local charity as the development officer.  He took part in volunteer activities, in fact for the last three years, he's had more fun setting up Easter Egg hunts for other children, than hunting himself.

Since returning to the pure marketing world, Spencer has become ever more interested in video production, web and graphic design.  When we were looking at adding a "Fun Friday" post to our social media efforts, Spence really wanted to pitch in.  

Spencer created the scenario and with a little guidance, decided on the topic for discussion.  As he's only 10 and we weren't sure if we'd be allowed to actually use the materials corporately, Spencer decided to use some of his stuffed animals as his actors (they work real inexpensively).  Unfortunately, for the viewing audience, he drafted me to be the other participant and after much coaxing (okay none really) Joan stepped in to act as our director and videographer.

The topic was the latest social media trend - Pinterest. Spencer had heard of it but really didn't know what it was all about.  He enlisted Pollie Bear as his interviewer and Pierre Panda to be his guest social media presenter.  Pollie's job was to get Pierre to share with the viewers, what the viewers needed to know about Pinterest and why they should get involved.  After seven takes, we had something that Spencer was happy with (besides his curfew was fast approaching for bedtime).  

We won't subject you to that, but instead would like to share a couple from our "blooper" file.  As a father, the best part was playing with the family, as a listener, the best part is Spencer's laugh - one of the world's greatest sounds.

This is blooper number 6 and we've entitled it "Fallen".

Blooper number 2 "Audience" 

Hope you enjoy and thanks for obliging. 


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Favourite Homemade Soups

We've been doing more planning and home cooking of late, especially given that we are working with a personal trainer.  The cookbook above, has been a standard for me for many years and was the inspiration for our last two batches. Both made with loving care and our sous chef, Spencer (good to get the nine year old in the kitchen).

Unfortunately, the world lost Ken last year in April, but his many recipes live on.  Since I've been asked to share the recipes for both the "True Potato Soup with Parmesan" and "Mulligatawny" lately, I've decided to post them here.  The recipes are from the book above and I have a tendency to tweak the spices. If you are a fan of soups, should be a stable in your library.

Mulligatawny (Serves 8) p.138

2 Tbsp olive oil                                       1/2 cup rice
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts          1 tbsp curry powder
2 stalks celery, chopped                           1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 small red onion, chopped                       1/2 tsp dried basil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped                   1/2 tsp salt
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped          1/2 tsp white pepper
1 red bell pepper                                     1 bay leaf
1 tsp grated fresh ginger                          6 cups chicken stock (low sodium)
1 cup apple juice                                     1 cup half/half table cream

In a large soup pot, heat the oil.  Add the chicken breasts and cook until no longer pink.  Remove pot from heat.  Cube the chicken and set aside.  Return the pot to the heat; add celery, onion and garlic and sauté for three minutes. Add the apples, red pepper and ginger; sauté another 2 minutes.  Add the cooked chicken, rice, curry powder, cinnamon, basil, salt, white pepper and bay leaf, stock and apple juice.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in cream and simmer another 5 minutes or until heated through.  Remove the bay leaf before serving and enjoy!

(Note - this is especially good reheated the next day or the longer you allow the spices to blend).

True Potato Soup with Parmesan (Serves 4 - 6) P. 32

2 tbsp olive oil                                 1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped                     5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups vegetable stock                       1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme                           1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper                          1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley             1/2 cup sour cream (optional)*

In a large soup pot, heat the oil.  Add the onion and garlic; sauté for 2 minutes or until the onion is translucent.  Add the potatoes; sauté, stirring  to keep the potatoes from sticking to the bottom.  Add the stock, basil, thyme, salt and pepper; simmer 15 minutes.  Using a hand blender, puree the soup.  Stir in the Parmesan and parsley.  Place a tablespoon of sour cream (*we use plain yogurt) on each serving.  Serve immediately.

I've truly enjoyed experimenting with the recipes in this book and I hope you and your family enjoy it as well.


Source: Ken's Soup Crazy, Penguin Canada 2000 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Getting Out

Top of the Bruce Trail, Excursion with Treks in the Wild - Pretty River Provincial Park, Collingwood ON(From left to right, Greg, Katie, Val, Joan and I)

Joan and I had the great pleasure of exploring the Collingwood ON area via snowshoe this past long weekend to celebrate Family Day in Ontario. 

The trip was organized by Treks In the Wild, out of Brantford Ontario and we met Andy Tonkin and the other adventurers at 9:45am in Collingwood.  

The transition from green and barren ground to a winter wonderland was unbelievable.  About 10km from town not only did the landscape become increasingly rugged, the traffic increasing congested, it was as white as a newly opened bag of cotton batten.  

After meeting Greg, Katie, Val, and Andy, we headed off to Pretty River Provincial Park to start our hike.  For the first time in years, I was knee deep in powder and it was a real joy.  We went on and off trail and climbed to the top of the Bruce Trail (picture above).  Unfortunately with all the snow and a weather system coming in, we didn't get to enjoy the vistas, but we were able to enjoy each others company and the pleasure of being outdoors and active.

After a great meal at Collingwood's hidden jewel of a country store/restaurant Ravenna Country Market, just outside of Blue Mountain (the soup alone is worth the trip) we met up with 2 new friends Tara and Ajeeth and headed back out to Loree Forest.  The trail here is flatter and takes you to the lift at Georgian Peaks Ski Resort.  The view from the top of the hill, looking down over Georgian Bay is stunning.  

We enjoyed another 2 hours of snowshoeing before heading back home.  We paid for it the next day but the adventure and fun was worth it.  If you get the chance, being active and outdoors, no matter the weather is one of life's best experiences.

Find what you'd like to do and get out there!