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marketing tips

Can ChatGPT Write a Halfway Decent Article?

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I’ll admit it, I was drawing a blank this month on what topic to write about.  So after staring at a blank screen for a while and overworking my foggy brain I decided to ask the robots for help.  And by “robot” I mean ChatGPT.  And by “ChatGPT” I mean our future robot overlords that will eventually turn us all into plugged in humanoids like in the Matrix.  Buuuut … in the meantime we can at least use them to help brainstorm stuff!

Anyway … a topic suggested to me by the robot was “Creating Memorable Dining Experiences: The Key to Word-of-Mouth Marketing.”  I’ll spare you the robot-written article, and instead give you the bullet points of what was suggested …

  • Ambiance and Atmosphere
  • Stellar Service
  • Culinary Creativity
  • Engaging Experiences
  • Surprise and Delight
  • Consistency
  • Embrace Feedback

I liked this idea not just for the food world, but to show some of the things that create successful word-of-mouth marketing, which can truly be the most powerful and effective way to grow our businesses. Reading a great review online from somebody we don’t know is all well and good, but when somebody we TRUST vouches for a company or a service, we are much more likely to be sold on that business. 

And what we have here is actually a pretty great list showing us some of the most important factors of word-of-mouth marketing (and not just for a restaurant).  I mean sure, “culinary creativity” is a little industry specific, but it also plays to the larger concept of coming up with creative and unique ways that our business stands out from a competitor.  

Another common factor in a lot of these suggestions is how they relate to the customer’s overall EXPERIENCE and how we FEEL about a business.  For true business growth and evolution it’s not just about doing the bare minimum and filling an order or providing a service, it’s about having your customer feel like they were part of something special.  

Now to be fair, I’m not suggesting that every customer experience must feel like riding the Avatar ride at Disney (which is awesome by the way). I’ve never expected a life-altering experience from my lawn guy, but he also does a great job, checks in constantly, and always provides suggestions to make the lawn look as good as possible.  So guess what? He now has multiple new regular customers that have been referred to him by me.  Bang!

So dear human … take these wise robotic pieces of advice and use them to your advantage before they’ve been implanted via microchip directly from King ChatGPT, benevolent ruler of the universe and controller of our free will!

What’s working on Instagram in April 2023

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Don’t call it a comeback, but … gasp … pictures may actually be returning from the dead on Instagram! Crazy right? The social media site that built its foundation on pretty pictures that soothed our souls and gave us the escape from our judgemental Facebook peers has finally realized that they’ve been screwing everything up and ruining why people liked them in the first place.

I get it … TikTok got all popular and stuff. So then Instgram panicked and decided that they had to copy all of the success of our Chinese overlords in order to hold the attention spans of busty influencers and 13 year olds everywhere, and they gave Reels a boost. OK … they gave Reels a BIG boost and basically threw everything else in the trashcan and assumed nobody wanted it anymore.

Well guess what? Reels are REALLY annoying to have to constantly create, especially if you’re a small business owner who has 647 other daily tasks and jobs to deal with. Now, instead of being able to produce some well-curated photographs that were on brand, you had to spend hours trying to come up with 60 second sizzle Reels all the time just to keep up with the stupid algorithms. And that ended up creating a large group of brands that started doing Reels because they HAD to, and not because they actually WANTED to, thus flooding the landscape with a whole lotta crappy Reels that nobody wanted to look at in the first place (or create).

Thankfully the team at Instagram finally came to their senses and admitted they had gone overboard on pushing Reels in the past year. Now I’m not going sit here and act like everything in world has been healed and crafting an Instagram page for your business that has solid reach and engagement is by any means “easy,” but at least we’re returning to a more competitive balance of content.

So what’s the big takeaway from all of this? I see two things …

1. Always always ALWAYS grab content in as many forms as possible. If you’re taking a picture, don’t just take that one picture and move on. Take a vertical picture. Take a horizontal picture. Take a quick vertical video. Take a quick horitonzal video. Take a LONGER video. Then save ALL of it. Never ever assume that whatever is “working” right now in social media is what will still be the standard in six months … or a year … or six hours from now for that matter. You’re spending the time to grab the content … take the extra minute to grab it in multiple forms.

2. Never ever EVER try to copy somebody else just because something seems to be “working” for them. This goes for a small business trying to copy another brand on social media just as much as it goes for the multi-billion dollar social media company themselves that tried to copy another one. They didn’t do it becuase they genuinely believed in the process, they did it because they were merely following something that looked like it was working for a competitor.

Personally, I don’t understand why all of these gigantic tech companies feel like they need to monopolize EVERY market. Why can’t they do one thing really well and serve their customers instead of feeling the need to be a retail outlet, streaming service, game hub, health care provider, social media network, and whatever the heck else they can try to control?

When you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody.

Keep that in mind when working to grow your business. Do what’s genuine to you and what you do well. The rest will follow!

This Article May Save Your Life

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What if I told you that by the end of this article, I would give you the single most important piece of information for your small business?  If nothing else, I’d say between the overly dramatic title of this article and that opening sentence, I at least have your attention, don’t I?  And that, my friends, is what we’re talking about today … the branding of your business and how to convey it to your audience with a sense of URGENCY.

I hosted a morning radio show for 20 years, and it was widely understood that you had approximately seven seconds to capture the audience’s attention before they changed the channel.  Seven seconds!  So if you thought it was a good idea to start your segment with, “Hi .. good morning … my name is Zack … this is my co-host … how are you today?” BUZZER!  Wrong answer! They’re gone.  They’re bored and moved on.

But if I started out by saying, “I’m going to tell you about a slice of pizza I ate last night that was so delicious it changed my life,” well now you wanna hear about this magical triangle of destiny and you’re going to hang with me until the end of the story. (Unless you’re some kind of monster that doesn’t want to hear about a life-changing pizza, in which case I don’t want you as my audience anyway.)

I help out once a month at a get-together for small business owners in Roanoke (it’s free and fun, email me if interested), and recently we were talking about the “elevator pitches” of our company.  After hearing “Hi my name is blah blah and I own a company called blah blah,” a few times I knew it was time to talk about how we promote our brand and the sense of urgency necessary to capture our audience.

When we try to reach our audience, we are in a constant battle for their attention between competitors in our field and pretty much any other distraction … Netflix, Candy Crush, annoying TikTok videos, or whatever else.  So it is absolutely VITAL to get our message across as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The good news is, once you have their attention, then you can take the time to explain your brand or your services and show them why you’re so dang awesome.  But if you waste that first seven seconds?  BUZZER! Wrong answer! They’re gone.

OK … now that we’re at the end, this article may not ACTUALLY have saved your life, but I do think this piece of advice is crucial for the success of your business, so it’s definitely saving SOMETHING!

Don’t Go to Jail!

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Ahhh jail.  I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid I was always afraid I’d end up “in jail.”  I didn’t have any plans to commit big heists or anything, but I think TV had it ingrained in my head that you could simply end up “in jail” for a crime you didn’t even commit.  I mean, have you SEEN “Shawshank Redemption?”  That’s some pretty bad jail right there!

And guess what everybody?  Jail is back and better than ever!

OK … you’re not going to be shivved in the yard by a rival gang, but “digital jail” is something you could easily end up in (or already have).  “Digital jail” is when our social media robot overlords decide your content has somehow violated one of their 6,523,222 unspoken regulations and you are summarily sentenced with little to no chance to argue your case.  Huzzah!

If I tried to list ALL the ways to avoid digital jail, the finished product would be the size of one of those giant old books on “Game of Thrones,” but here’s some of the most popular ones …

  • DON’T: Run contests asking for likes, shares, and tags

We’ve all done this one (and probably gotten away with it), but Meta is very clear that this one is against the rules.  Additionally it just kinda looks sleazy and desperate.  What you CAN do instead is run a giveaway and ask people to contribute with relevant comments.  Example:  An outdoor store could offer a $25 gift card and ask, “What’s your favorite winter outdoor activity?”  That’s totally fine, and in many cases will actually help boost page engagement as more people comment on the post.

  • DON’T: Use banned hashtags

Explicit and defamatory hashtags are obvious, but what you may not know is Instagram has an unpublished list of “shadowbanned” hashtags.  These are seemingly normal tags that have been hijacked by spam accounts, so IG starts hiding posts that use it.  Example: #adulting is currently shadowbanned (who knew?) and will get your post crushed by the algorithm. Use Google to find more.

  • DON’T: Share other people’s stuff without permission

In some ways this is silly where a person enters YOUR business, takes a picture of YOUR stuff, and tags you in the post and yet it’s still totally against the rules to repost without permission. Even though 99% of people don’t care, take the extra minute to shoot them a DM and ask if it’s OK to repost.  All it takes is that 1% to decide to complain and you’re in trouble. 

OK friends … that’s all we have time for today.  Good luck staying out of jail!

The JPG Top 3: SEO isn’t as hard as they make you think it is, the suckitude of organic reach and more

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We comb the interwebs to bring you the top 3 stories for small business social media marketing, branding, and engagement. Get it even sooner by subscribing to our FREE Top 3 email. Subscribe now

#3 SEO isn’t as hard as they make you think it is

Ahhh … good ol’ SEO.  First and foremost, SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.”  The digital marketing world LOVES to throw out goofy acronyms all the time to sound smart like SEO, KPI, RFP, HIJKLMNOP … you name it and there’s an abbreviation for it.

When I first started in this industry I was someone who didn’t have a fancy marketing degree or whatever.  I just happened to be a person who knew how to tell a story and reach an audience.  Then all of a sudden I saw all these acronyms and thought, “OH MY GOD I AM SOOOO DUMB AND THESE PEOPLE ARE ALL WAY SMARTER THAN ME!!!”  I was totally intimidated by all the terms being tossed around and wondered if I was making a huge mistake trying to get into this business.

Then I actually sat down and looked at everything and realized that a lot of these terms and metrics that sounded hard were actually very basic.  So then I thought to myself, “Well why the hell did they have to make it sound so hard?” 

The reason?  So YOU will be super intimidated and will just fork over ungodly amounts of money to pay an “expert” to handle it for you.  We don’t roll that way at the JPG Agency.  Our goal is to actually empower YOU with the information.  Sure … we can help you (for a reasonable price) but we also want you to understand the HOW and the WHY behind everything.

So today here’s a great read that helps simplify SEO in a way that is much easier to process

#2 Privacy changes and your ads

Things continue to evolve after Apple’s iOS privacy changes, and one is a decreased ROI (oh crap … one of those acronyms again!) on your digital ad spend.  Now let’s be super clear, there are still a TON of ways to target specific audiences this way, but it has gotten a little more harder to figure out.  Additionally, many are heralding this as the rise of influencer marketing as a way to combat these privacy changes.

We are on board for influencer marketing as an effective way to reach your audience, and we also encourage you to think SMALL when it comes to your strategy.  You don’t need to shell out millions of dollars to get Mr. Beast to promote your product.  Simply find members of your industry or local community and utilize the passionate and engaged followers that they have (and for way less money).

And just a further reminder that the single BEST way to reach your audience is to OWN YOUR AUDIENCE.  We say it here all the time.  When you control the engagement point, you control everything.  You also don’t have to rely on somebody else’s algorthims and motives, which leads us to …

#1 The continued slow death of organic reach

Social media marketing is a beast for many many reasons.  It is absolutely necessary to tell the story and create the voice of your brand, but is also an endless grind of frustration. Not to mention the constantly changing landscape where you’re seemingly at the mercy of a bunch of robots and their algorithms (side note: you are). 

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “it sure does feel like my post performance stinks and nobody is seeing it.” I’m here to let you know there’s a really good reason for why you feel that way … because it IS that way.  Organic growth continues to get crushed by both Facebook and Instagram, and here’s a great analysis that highlights exactly that.

So what the heck do we do about it?  First and foremost, you need to shed the concerns about any of the vanity metrics given to you by these platforms.  Ultimately, what does it really matter how many likes or comments a post gets?  What truly matters is your business being successful and making MONEY.  So start thinking of your content with that filter … does this post tell the story of my brand and invite my audience take action?  If the answer is yes, then you’ve done the right thing regardless of what some algorithm tells you.

Second, it comes back yet again to the OWN YOUR AUDIENCE mindset.  Don’t sit there and rely on Instagram to arbitrarily decide how many people will see your post.  Instead, figure out ways to collect direct contact information of your audience and use it to your advantage.  Take control of your information!