Party City’s Halloween Tricks And Tweets

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In one of those wacky crystal ball-type of studies, Americans are predicted to spend more on Halloween this year than they did last year. According to economists, Halloween is always popular in tough economic or political times as it provides a “welcomed break from reality.” We could argue that strong hallucinogens provide the same effect without having to conform to a specific time of year, but the point is that Halloween is just one of those holidays where everybody gets to act like a big, silly kid. So social media marketers are hauling out the big guns this year to help scare our troubles away – and it makes perfect sense that the country’s largest party supply retailer is jumping on board early to lure in shoppers.

The folks at Party City have really kicked up the company’s online and social media presence this Halloween season, and the timing couldn’t be any better. Party City’s Facebook page has links to articles on Halloween decorating ideas, a costume fashion video and a cool virtual dressing room where you can put a jpeg of your face on some costumes available at Party City without ever having to leave your laptop.

Party City also has taken to Twitter to scare up some business with a cool promotion called Trick-or-Tweet. The promo invites tweeps to participate in a scavenger hunt on the company’s website. Party City will tweet clues daily to its followers and the first responses win gift cards to the store. The chain is using Twitter to hand out promotional codes to customers that provide discounts on selected items at its online store, too. Promotional codes via Twitter are a great social media marketing trick, regardless of what time of year it is. The Twitter page also deserves a look simply because of the conversational tone and friendly interaction Party City has with its followers.

Odd and perhaps inappropriately sexy costumes aside, everybody can agree Halloween is fun; so it’s cool seeing companies like Party City using social media to entice ghosts and ghouls looking for a good time.

6 Essential Questions For Marketers To Ask SEO Pros

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In this second checklist in our two-part series, we cover the questions important to ask SEO professionals before hiring.

6.) What is it that you do, exactly? This simple yet crucial question will separate the snake oil salesmen from the real deal. If you’ve sat down with someone who can clearly explain to you what services they will provide and what to expect when you get the invoice, you’re in the presence of a winner. If they answer with a bunch of promises of huge success without really explaining how they’ll achieve said miracles, quickly show them the door.

5.) Could you show me some clients you’ve worked with? By asking to see their current list of clients and their websites, you’ll get a clear idea of what caliber of clients they’ve brought in. The clients should show growth and the SEO expert should be armed with numbers, facts and exact services they used. Feel free to ask for client references so you can get their feedback. Again, if the customers and their websites are suspicious or out of order, don’t be afraid to holler out “next!”

4.) Can you guarantee a top ranking on Google? We admit it. This is kind of a trick question, as nobody – and we do mean nobody – can make such a promise. Yet this question will serve as the ultimate BS detector. The best SEO pros will acknowledge this request and politely explain to you the techniques and tools they can use to improve your ranking while not promising you’ll become the next Amazon.

3.) What do you think about our website? Here’s a great getting-to-know-you question. Hopefully, your SEO expert has taken a long look at your company and come up with creative ideas spurned by tireless research. In addition to technical know-how, SEO ninjas should be armed with dozens of secret weapons designed to make the most out of search engine optimization for your business.

2.) What tools will you use? Does the hopeful rely on keywords? Do they favor article marketing? What tracking devices do they use? Finding out what is in their bag of tricks will ultimately help you decide if they are the right match for your business.

1.) Do you offer a variety of packages for me to choose from? This comes in at No. 1 for a couple of reasons. First off, if your SEO dude only offers one big, flashy pricey SEO package not tailored to your specific needs, he’s probably not going to work out. Secondly, a variety of properly-explained services to choose from means there’s most likely an SEO package tailored to fit even the tiniest of budgets.

6 Steps for Marketers to Take before Hiring an SEO Pro

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This is part one of our two-part checklist series on hiring an SEO professional for marketing and creative professionals. Wednesday’s list will cover 6 Essential Questions to ask SEO professionals.

6.) Phone a Friend: Before sitting down with an SEO pro, ask trusted friends in your field or fellow small business owners their thoughts on SEO utilization. Dig for the dirt on their success stories as well as their horror tales. Find out what to look for as well as what to avoid. See what’s worked for folks whose success you admire and don’t be afraid to”¦

5.) Ask for a Recommendation: Meeting with an SEO genius with a proven pedigree is preferred over simply just grabbing the first name that comes up on Google. Your colleagues will most likely be happy to share this info with you, but if they don’t have a good recommendation”¦

4.) Do Research: Take the time to thoroughly read over the online portfolios of prospective SEO pros. Bookmark the pros whose clients you recognize and avoid the ones with patchy or vague information, as well as those who’ve worked for companies that no longer exist. Once you’ve picked your hopefuls”¦

3.) Schedule Multiple Appointments: Much like trying on a pair of jeans, finding the right fit for the job is going to take some time and plenty of options. Make the meetings for no more than an hour and don’t commit until you’ve gone through all of your options. Before the meetings happen, don’t forget to”¦

2.) Learn All You Can about SEO on your Own: Don’t sign a thing or hire a soul until you’ve taken time to learn as much about SEO as you possibly can. Use a dictionary to look up all the technical mumbo jumbo you don’t understand or bribe your IT guy with donuts in exchange for some translation. There are some great books on the topic, but for firsthand knowledge, go right to the source and read blogs written by SEO professionals. We’re big fans of the entertainingly-written but easy to understand SEO blogs SEO Chicks, Graywolf’s SEO Blog, Search Engine Land and, of course, the premier SEO expert Matt Cutts of Google’s blog is a must-read. It’s essential to know exactly what you’re getting into and what to expect so you can”¦

1.) Write a List of Thorough Questions: This last step is crucial. Having your concerns and questions down in black and white will help you remember to ask for exactly what you want. The questions will keep you from being distracted by shiny promises and sparkly sales pitches. Also, sticking to your script will keep the meetings short and to the point.

5 Things You Might Have Missed List

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brandsplat's 5 things you may have missed Muto

Happy Fall! We have raked up the crispy leaves of online marketing info and placed them in a neat little pile we like to call “Our 5 Things You Might Have Missed List.” Jump in!

1.) How To Get Blog Post Ideas: We hear, although it’s never happened to us, that many blog writers struggle to come up with daily, informative posts. So we’re happy to help out by turning you on to this excellent blog by Bob Nunn at Search Engine People. Nunn outlines tips to help get the blogger brain flowing, like starting with keywords and mixing up your blog topics.

2.) Fantastic Fest’s YouTube Channel: Austin’s long-running genre film festival – which celebrates cult horror, fantasy and sci-fi films – kicks off this weekend. To celebrate, festival organizer Tim League was invited to curate a YouTube channel. Filled with the kind of bizarre stuff midnight movie watchers love, the channel hosts a whacked-out assortment of short films that bring a taste of the festival to viewers around the globe. Personally, we love the graffiti-come-to-life movie Muto.

3.) NBC Tweets Community: This smart social media promo for the returning sitcom Community uses Twitter to connect with fans of the show. Community characters tweeted humorous musings leading up to Thursday night’s season premiere. NBC deserves major props for embracing social media to push the beleaguered network to new audiences.

4.) The Fast Food Facebook Feast: This week saw a plethora of crazy marketing ideas from fast food restaurants, like the much-blogged-about Double Down sweat pants. But Facebook was the place of some of the most creative campaigns. Carl’s Jr invited wannabe writers to come up with captions for photos featuring their Famous Star character. The winner gets 10 spins on the page’s Wheel of Awesome, which hands out prizes like free food.

5.) Love and Other Drugs Baffling Ad Campaign: This “huh?”-inspiring marketing push for the new film starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway is a befuddling mess for a movie that appears to make no sense. Is the film about the invention of Viagra? Is it about Hathaway’s character dying? Or like the print ads suggest, is it just a chance to see both stars naked? Who knows. All we can figure out is that the studio and advertising team behind the film aren’t really sure either.

AXE’s Viral Video Success Smells Surprisingly Good

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Just typing the words “AXE body products” makes us smirk – we admit it. I mean, the relentless cheesy television spots with bimbos and clipboards, the over-powering fragrances that launched a thousand Jersey Shore-wannabes and the misogynistic marketing are, let’s face it, hilarious. You have to give the brand credit for being so unapologetically ’90s. AXE is like that annoying 15-year-old chauvinist-in-training who never grew up. That being said, when it comes to viral videos and video marketing, AXE has an almost frightening pinpoint accuracy for its demographic.

Take, for example, the new commercials for the AXE Detailer. While they’ve been circulating internationally for a few months, the ads starring former My Name is Earl babe Jamie Pressely have hit the Internet and national television big time over the last week or so. The commercials spoof infomercials, with Pressely as a former tennis pro who helps the audience, umm, wash their balls. It’s a juvenile joke that was done better by SNL years ago, but Pressley has great comedic chops and the ad is sure to inspire chuckles from both AXE haters and AXE appreciators. Launched online by AXE on the 13th of September, all versions of the video have garnered hundreds of thousands of views, with the million-mark right around the corner.

Pressely’s ad is the latest from a company that has had big-time viral video success in the past. We live in the Old Spice Guy era of viral video, and AXE asserts itself as a true contender. What we can learn from AXE, aside from how to clean balls, is the importance of consistent branding in viral video campaigns. Sure, everybody wants a video hit, but it’s helpful if said hit is actually selling product, too.

Toot Your Own Horn With Social Media and PR

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Let’s face it, we live in very self-congratulatory times. Anytime a company or a celebrity does anything worth note, it is instantly touted, tweeted about and championed. From Lady Gaga to John Stewart and anybody named Kardashian; it’s become customary to tell planet Earth how much you rule. Yet as tiresome as the whole “pat yourself on the back just for being awesome” routine is, it is something for small businesses to think about. After all, neighborhood joints should be, in fact, celebrated for staying alive, thriving and growing. And thankfully, the online PR machine and tools of social media marketing are available to everybody.

Here are 3 of our favorite ways to pat your company on the back:

Tweet Me Right – While tweeting each time you buy a pumpkin muffin may be compelling, let’s reign in our Twitter usage to provide great PR for our businesses. Twitter is a fantastic tool for breaking news about company accomplishments. Record sales, hot new services and products, links to positive reviews and feedback can be instantly tweeted to your followers. It sure beats the old press release mill and can be updated quickly and regularly.

Be a Facebook Hero – Having success with a recycling project? Partnering with a local school to raise money? Donating goods to a benefit auction? Then, by all means, you should celebrate by adding a new tab to your Facebook page. Call it “Giving Back,” “Pet Projects,” “Causes We love” – whatever. New tabs to your pages take literally minutes to create. Fill them with photos, links to your press coverage and information on how to get involved. Also, Facebook pages are great places to tout awards and accolades. Remember, Facebook is the one place where outward narcissism and egotism are totally acceptable – so use it to your advantage.

Write About You – If you can’t get profiled in your local paper, don’t worry. Articles about your business and all of its radness now can be created by you, distributed by you or someone else and marketed by you. Again, the iron gate of media penetration has been knocked over. Article marketing stories that relate to your business and field can take full advantage of the new freedom. Article marketing also is another nifty addition to your SEO master plan.

So get out there and tell the world how amazing your business is!

(And not to toot our own horn, but if you need help with any of the above tips, contact one of the nice people here at Brandsplat today.)