Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Smart Snugglie Marketing in a Down Economy

Let’s cut to the chase: A Snuggie is a blanket with sleeves. A blanket with sleeves that we all guffawed and mocked. A blanket with sleeves that sold five million units of just the blue version in the period of a year. A blanket with sleeves that did this in a down economy.


It’s not that Snuggie was an original product. Before it, there was the Slanket. There’s also the Freedom Blanket and the Blankoat (as someone who works from home, I’m very familiar with the blanket-as-clothing options. Let’s just say on a good day, I dress like Mrs. Roper and on a bad day, it’s a towel held up with a banana clip).

It’s also not that Snuggie is the best quality of the bunch. If you do a search for Snuggie vs. Slanket, you’ll see that the Snuggie is actually on the cheapo side, barely a step up from a giant piece of felt.

The difference was marketing.

1. Snuggie ponied up when no one else would. When everyone else was tightening their ad and marketing purse strings, Snuggie was (and is) everywhere. With less demand in the marketplace thanks to everyone else scaling their ad buys back in response to the recession, Snuggie was able to negotiate big chunks of ad time at much lower rates. They flooded TV stations with their product.
2. Snuggie let go of their brand (in a good way). No sooner did Snuggie commercials roll out did people start mocking them. Loads of people made their own parody videos, blogged about Snuggie, made sarcastic Facebook “Snuggie appreciation groups” and so on. And Snuggie laughed right along with it all. You might be surprised how many companies are quick to shut down anyone who tries to use their brand or product in a way they believe is unflattering.
3. Snuggie continued to react. Snuggies should be gone by now as far as memes and pop culture interest goes, so they keep giving more. There’s now Snuggie for Dogs and Designer Snuggies – which were recently launched during New York Fashion Week (for reals).

How does this all translate to you and your business?:

1. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. A changing economy can be scary, but it can also present opportunities. Listen to conventional advise, but realize that’s what everyone else (including your competitors) are doing too. By going against the grain, you can often find prospects and room for negotiation.
2. It takes money to make money. Yes, there are great cost-effective ways to get business – web content marketing being one of them – but some people have even scaled back on these. How do you expect to maintain or grow business by shrivelling your marketing budget? Doing nothing will result in nothing. There is a gamut of marketing services and tactics that range in budgets – find what works for you.
3. Take business seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. No one likes a company that is humorless and uptight. Prove you aren’t with your web content and marketing efforts. Put some personality in your blog, video, web conference and Twitter updates. Do this while still being great at your core business. And what if people are having “fun” with your brand or product (see: mocking it relentlessly)? By loosening the reigns and going with the flow, you might just laugh all the way to the bank.
4. Don’t rest on your laurels. Did you launch a great product, service or message this year? Great! Congratulations! So, what’s next? If you have an audience, listen to them, engage them and find out what they want. Look for ways to improve your original idea, give more options or come out with complimentary products.

Sure, the Snuggie is beyond silly. We’d bet half of the purchases were “ironic” in nature and gag gifts. But the money they’ve made? It’s nothing to laugh at – and it’s something to learn from.


Need help with your marketing? Call RedFire Media 706-951-4608 |



Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Most Important Social Media Strategy for Making Money

As found at

The Most Important Social Media Strategy for Making Money
By Chris Crum - Sun, 07/26/2009 - 08:52

WetPaint CEO Talks Business Social Media Use

Earlier this week, WebProNews reported on a study from WetPaint and the Altimeter Group, which indicated that brands who engaged with customers more through social media performed better financially. Judging from our comments, there is a lot of skepticism about the accuracy of this information, but Wetpaint CEO Ben Elowitz shared some further insight with WebProNews about how companies can most effectively utilize social media.

Elowitz also talk a little bit about the ENGAGEMENTdb site, which was announced along with the study. On the site, businesses can match their own social media efforts up alongside those of successful brands.

WebProNews: What do you think is the most important way for a company to utilize social media to have the biggest impact on revenues?

Ben Elowitz Ben Elowitz: For a company to be effective with social media, it has to actually react to the conversations that take place. If the company does, it validates the consumers they engage with and creates even greater loyalty. Beyond that loyalty, engaged companies tend to have products and services that customers actually want. No wonder – those customers actually played a role in creating them. And when you sell products that closely reflect the desires of the customer, you’re better able to drive premium pricing. Better pricing, better margin, better profitability.

WPN: How important is it for a company to have a dedicated team working on social media efforts on a full time basis?

BE: A full time team is great but it might not be a reality. If a full time team isn’t possible, what needs to happen is a couple people within a company that can serve as evangelists and spread the social media word internally. Often times when social media gets started in a company, people are resistant because it’s viewed as another thing someone has to do in their day-to-day job. However, an evangelist can sell the benefits and keep the momentum going to help transition social media from ‘another daily task’ to something that becomes part of the natural work flow.”

WPN: ON the ENGAGEMENTdb site, companies can rank themselves. Can you tell me a bit about the ranking process?

BE: The "Rank Yourself" feature is a quick 5 question survey asking about a company’s social media efforts. Based on those answers, we correlate it to the data we gathered for the ENGAGEMENTdb report. Based on their particular answers, we’re able to generate a report that compares their efforts to the world’s most valuable brands.

WPN: On average, how are the companies (outside the top 100) ranking?

BE: We're seeing companies rank all along the spectrum from Social Media Mavens to Social Media Wallflowers. Since the results are private, we think the self assessment is a pretty good indicator of what companies are really doing in the social media space.

WPN: How much progress needs to be made?

BE: The social media space is evolving so quickly that it’s pretty easy to say we all have a long way to go. The key thing to remember is that the data we’ve been able to gather suggests that there is a very strong correlation between high social media engagement and better financial results. Companies that experiment now and learn the ropes are going to be so much better off than the ones waiting for just the right moment to get involved with their customers.

Wrapping Up

I'd like to thank Mr. Elowitz for answering my questions, and sharing his thoughts on social media practices for businesses. How do think your own social media efforts stack up to those of the big brands? How about to other smaller brands? Share your thoughts.
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Looking for social media ideas?.... Contact RedFire Media at 706-951-4608 or

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Successful Email Marketing

10 Step Plan To Successful Email Marketing
by Matt Jackson, founder of WebWiseWords, offers SEO copywriting and a range of other web content writing services to increase traffic and improve conversions for your website.

When website owners and marketers talk about online marketing, they often refer to SEO and PPC. Email marketing can sometimes be overlooked despite being one of the most powerful methods to reach potential customers and to keep existing customers coming back for more. Perhaps a factor in this is that direct email campaigns are commonly associated with spam emails, but careful list management ensures that this need not be a problem.

There are a number of stages to a successful email marketing campaign and by nailing as many as possible you can improve your results. The key to success, though, most commonly lies in the planning stage if this is your first foray into email marketing then be prepared to treat it as a test run. The more direct email marketing campaigns you run, the more opportunity you have to optimize the process and improve your results. Here are ten of the most important steps to an effective email campaign.

1 Determine Your Ultimate Goal
This might sound obvious, but having a clear goal in mind will help to concentrate your efforts. There are many effective uses of an email marketing campaign from increasing brand awareness to pushing a new product or seasonal promotion. Each of these uses typically demands a different campaign with its own style and its own components.

Increasing traffic to your website is not usually a bottom line target. The reason for increasing traffic to a website is normally to improve sales and increase profits. In the majority of cases, it is more desirable to attain greater sales through fewer visitors, than having a site awash with visitors but with a poor conversion rate.

A prolonged and careful email marketing campaign will naturally help to improve brand awareness. Your readers will naturally remember your name and the products or services that you sell as they gain more and more exposure to your marketing emails. Similarly, as long as you produce relevant and useful emails, your potential customers will grow to trust you making it more likely that they will purchase from you now or in the future.

2 - Your Opt-In Email List
There are a couple of key aspects to this section. YOUR opt-in list will generate better results than the use of somebody else's list. If you have taken the time and put in the effort to grow your own list, then the members of that list will already have some degree of awareness for you, your products, and your website.

Developing your own list can take time and money. To get a head start it is possible to buy or rent email lists from others. In these cases it is particularly important to pay attention to the second important factor the list MUST be an opt-in list. Every member of that list must have opted in to receive marketing communication from you and they MUST be given adequate opportunity to opt out of future communication.

Particular care needs to be taken with your list management techniques to ensure that you are not deemed as being spam. If you purchase lists or partial lists then members that opt out need to be recorded separately. If you purchase another list that includes the same name and you subsequently email that person without their express request to be re-included in your list then you face the very real possibility of being flagged as sending spam email.

3 - Establish Performance Tracking Techniques
Tracking the performance of any advertising campaign should be foremost in your mind. This is the only true method of determining its worth and is the only way you can optimize your advertising to generate the best possible results. Web analytics are an absolute must-have, and with the wealth of affordable and even free choices available today there is no reason not to have a good analytic package in place.

Tracking code can also be placed into an HTML email. You need to operate a degree of caution when implementing code into HTML emails, because it could lead to your email being blocked by over zealous spam filters. If you can use hyperlinks that include tracking code, and your analytics package includes referral data, then this can generate the majority of the information you require.

The more information you can gleam from an advertising campaign, the better. You will be using these results to fine tune future advertising campaigns, so too much information is better than too little. If in any doubt then consider using an email marketing management service to conduct the tracking on your behalf.

4 Ready Your Website
Directing visitors to your website is only a portion of the battle ahead. Once a reader clicks through the links in your email, you then need to be confident that your web pages are optimized to complete the sale. Conversion rates need to be high on the pages you direct traffic to, but you also need to target the traffic to the most appropriate pages and vice versa.

Consider the anchor text, or link text, that you will be using in your email. If you are encouraging readers to learn more about a product then don't direct them straight to the purchase page unless that page includes the inferred information. Similarly, if you have pre-sold your readers so that they are poised and ready to buy, and your CTA (Call To Action) indicates that this is the next step then you can navigate readers through to a more direct sales page.

Introducing a new product or a new concept will usually take more information than you can provide in a single marketing email. If necessary, add a page or multiple complementary pages, to your website. Direct readers to these pages so that you can combine the use of your email marketing and your optimized and informative content to really persuade and hammer the message home hard.

5 An Effective Subject Line
The subject line of your email is the first thing your readers will read, and you need to ensure that it won't be the last. Human spam filters can be just as difficult to avoid as software spam filters, even for genuine email. You should certainly avoid the use of typically spammy subject lines and opt for a more effective approach.

There are many ways to write an appealing subject line. A newsworthy subject line will often grab the attention but only works effectively in limited cases. Otherwise, try to evoke an emotive response from the reader. The strongest emotions include greed, love, and even hatred or controversy. With these latter two it is again important that you exercise appropriate caution otherwise you may alienate your readers against this and future marketing emails.

Intrigue and appeal work very well. An intriguing headline will draw your readers into the main body of the content and the subject line will have then done its job effectively. Never mislead in the subject of your email but do try to peak your reader's curiosity to the extent that they can't help but open the email and read it fully.

6 - Email Body Content
Finally we reach the main body content of the email. That it's taken to point six to do so is an indication of how important the planning and preparation stages are. The subject line has hopefully driven a good portion of your list to open the email, and those readers should be intrigued enough to want to read more.

Research shows that the more personalized the message, the more likely it will be to succeed. Start with a personalized greeting and use a friendly, even conversational tone, throughout the message. Inform readers of what they need to know but do so informally and in as friendly a manner as is possible by email.

The email absolutely has to be grammatically and factually correct, and must not contain typos. These types of errors can be an instant turn off for readers. Run a spell check. Twice. And then check it manually and have somebody else check it again for you. At the same time check the links and ensure that they do indeed direct to the proper pages.

Include a Call To Action, or CTA, rather than just a link. A CTA is a direction that points your visitors to perform your desired action. This could be to click a link, make a purchase, or even forward the email to friends. The CTA needs to be clearly defined an, obviously, as effective and accurate as possible.

7 - Hyperlinks To Your Site
The entire point (although probably not your ultimate goal) of your email is to get readers to click on links and visit your website. Include two or three links in the body of your email and make sure they are relevant without being too obvious. Lead readers to click the links rather than directly point it out and find something more effective than click here to use as your anchor text.

Two to three links is the ideal number. Too few links and your email won't prove effective at driving traffic, while too many links will detract from the actual content of the email. If your email is very short then offer two links, or offer three links within longer messages. Contextual links (that is, those that appear within the body of the email rather than at the end) are usually significantly more effective.

Check and double check that links work and direct to the correct page. Once you've done this, have somebody else check them too. The number of marketing emails that have failed because of broken or incorrect links is alarmingly high and this is not a trap that you want to fall into.

8 - Choose The Best Time To Send Your Email
The time you send your email can have a significant impact on its effectiveness. During the night, most people's emails fill up. In a lot of cases, this can mean that your reader will be faced with tens of emails in the morning, many of them rubbish. This leaves a very real chance that they will simply ignore or delete your email without noticing who sent it, what it is about, or whether they have any interest in reading it.

Consider your target market and when they are most likely to be sat in front of their email. Those with a global market may find this more difficult because of the time difference, but otherwise bear this in mind too. Not every website or marketing email is geared towards residents from the same country.

9 - Test Email
Initially, send a test email to yourself, friends, family, or colleagues. This is more to determine that it arrives looking as expected. Once you have done this and are happy with how your email looks, you should then move on to send a second test email to a small selection of your list. This gives you ample opportunity to make any last minutes changes or tweaks according to how this small test run performs.

You might even consider sending several tests out to different groups, if you have a large enough list. This enables you to test the subject line, content, and product price, by making alterations before each test run. Be sure to test the different components separately, though, so that you can determine what needs changing and what works well.

A test email also gives you chance to check that you are set up and able to track the results and any other information you want to track. A good email marketing service will do this by default, because the test email can prove to be one of the single most effective ways to improve the performance of a one-off email shot.

10 - Monitor, Optimize, And Start Again
Being careful not to send emails too frequently, you should send regular communication to your list. An unloved list will be more likely to unsubscribe and readers become most responsive after approximately seven items of communication from you. Monitor results, check bounce rates, and look for ways that your campaign could be improved.

Once you've found the best ways to improve a campaign make the improvements and begin the procedure again from the beginning. This process of monitoring, optimizing, and starting again will help to increase exposure, improve brand awareness, and generally improve results and profit levels.

Why Your List Is So Important:
A list can last you a lifetime and it is possible to continue selling to the same list members over and over again. In fact, once a list member purchases from you, and presuming that everything goes smoothly during and after the sale, they will be more inclined to purchase from you in the future. You will have won their trust, gained their favor, and they can be relied upon to help you with extra sales in the future.

Look after your list and your list will look after your profits.
For assistance with your next email marketing campaign, contact RedFire Media at 706-951-4608 or

Article above by Matt Jackson, founder of WebWiseWords, offers SEO copywriting and a range of other web content writing services to increase traffic and improve conversions for your website.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Don't underestimate your own value

Believe in Your Unique Value Proposition
Oral history and difficult design clients don't have much in common at first glance. Yet for Molly Joss, these two have paired up as unlikely teachers. The lesson: Don't underestimate your own value.

By Molly W. Joss
Thursday, February 24, 2005

The other day, I was talking to a friend who wants to expand his fledgling freelance writing career. He has a small business creating oral history tapes for families, and he wants to write about the process for a woman's magazine. He'd asked me to critique his article query; that is, the letter he'll send to prospective publishers of his story. During our conversation he told me about the tape he'd made of his grandmother in which she'd mentioned a personal relationship she'd had after her husband died.

As soon as he told me the anecdote, I suggested he change his query. The real story, I said, is your relationship with your grandmother and what made you decide to capture a little of her life on tape. "Any good writer who's done the research could turn out an article on making an oral history tape of a grandparent," I told him. "You're the only person who has shared that experience with your grandmother. You need to have faith that you've got a good story to tell."

That discussion, coupled with a recent decision to fire a client, taught me a valuable lesson these past few weeks. When you run your own company and all you have to sell is you -- whether you're a designer or an artist or a writer -- it's too easy to sell yourself short. You owe it to yourself not to do that.

A Client Not Worth Keeping
I fired the client because I realized finally that the company would never agree to pay me what I'm really worth. It's a non-profit organization with a small budget, so I agreed to an hourly rate that is much lower than my usual fee. Even though the work has grown more complicated over the years, I had never asked for an increase. Needless to say, they'd never offered one, either.

During the several years I worked with this client, I put up with snippy e-mails, demands for re-work, and, generally unacceptable behavior. The more I accommodated, the more the client figured I wasn't going to fight back, and their unprofessional behavior escalated.

I began to change my mind about the client when I started doing similar work for a new client at a much higher hourly rate. This company is happy to pay me the going rate and is happy with the results. Plus, their e-mails and phone calls are professional in wording and manner. The final straw was when I discovered that the problematic client was paying another contractor nearly ten times my hourly rate for comparable work.

I didn't bother raising my rates with the other client. I have learned over the years that clients who pay two contractors vastly different rates for the same kind of work think taking advantage of people is good business. This is not the kind of client you want to keep on the roster.

I'm not a Kenny Rogers fan, but I like his song The Gambler. It contains useful instructions for knowing when the game is finished and it's time to go. Like the song says, "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run�" It was time to fold �em and walk away from the querulous client.

House Rules
Back to my friend and his article query. He didn't feel that people would want to read about him and his grandmother because he wasn't sure his experiences were more valuable than his information. I'm not sure he believed me when I said his skills can be duplicated but his experiences are what make him irreplaceable.

I can't say that I blame him; on the face of it, there's not much evidence that the world appreciates distinctiveness over information. Maybe what's truly precious is the understanding you gain from your experiences mixed with the skills you derive from knowledge. This is the unique value proposition that all creative professionals have. In other words, nobody can tell your story or do your job the way you do--nobody.

And nobody can take advantage of you without your permission--not for long, that is. It's possible to be caught unaware, and it's kind to give people the benefit of the doubt. Just don't repeat my error. If I had believed in what my work was worth and had been determined that good work is worth good money, I would have fired the client long ago.

Don't let a client bluff you. Believe in yourself and in the unique value of what you do. Then you'll be holding a winning hand.
~ ~ ~
This article printed from - where creative business clicks.
All materials copyright 1999-2003 and unless otherwise noted.

Friday, February 22, 2008

An Introduction to RedFire Media

Every year, some advertisers invest millions and get nothing back, while others invest a fraction as much and get spectacular returns.
The difference isn’t just marketing, it isn’t just research.
It’s the power of a hot idea, well executed, to move and motivate people.
It’s also being accountable for getting results.
It’s what we do.
At RedFire Media, we are committed to helping our clients get results!
Call or email Rusty Molton |
GA: 706-951-4608 | NC: 828-376-0013

Start of BLOG

This is the beginning of the RedFireMedia BLOG. More to come.