By Friday, the oppressive New York City humidity and heat broke.
So my husband and I declared it beach day!
One of the perks of working for yourself is making your time work for you. Don’t interpret this to mean you can work whenever the spirit moves you.
Rather, you must figure out how to schedule work around the times you’re most productive so you have time for activities you find fun and rewarding. As my husband reminds me, no one ever had the words “I wish I had worked more” engraved on their gravestone.
For us, it’s getting up early, slathering ourselves with sunblock, and taking the express subway to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn to avoid the noisy crowds. Unlike having a beach house, the ritual and time to get to and from the beach makes each trip feel special.
With one swipe of our New York City MTA cards, we’re on the ocean beach listening to the waves in less than an hour and a quarter. And this includes stopping at Dunkin Donuts for coffee and muffins.
Mind you Brighton Beach isn’t the overpriced Hamptons you see in the movies. It’s a public New York City beach with relatively clean restrooms.
What Brighton Beach lacks in Instagrammable moments, it makes up for with local color like the Ukrainian restaurants on the boardwalk.
As summer races towards Labor Day, we feel how short our remaining beach time is.
With 2 more weeks of August, what summer activities are you making time for?
Marketing Lesson of The Week
► What Back-To-School (aka: BTS) Means For Your Marketing
When I was in grade school, my mother never researched the best Back-To-School (BTS) deals or shopping options.
After the first day of school, she took us to the local toy store to buy the list of supplies our teachers requested.
I loved getting my new blue cloth 3-ring binder and a package of lined paper. It signaled a fresh start even if my worn textbooks needed paper book covers.
What did I dread?
Writing the “What I Did For My Summer Vacation” homework assignment.
Because the words never flowed. [HINT: Writing on demand rarely does.]
Instead, I’d crumple page after page trying to get the right beginning because my brain couldn’t get past the title.
Looking back, I wish one of my teachers had taught me that I could start writing wherever my ideas were and rearrange the piece later.
I learned that lesson when I decided to become a writer and took night classes taught by published authors. By then, I had a laptop to make editing easier.
Want to improve your writing? Here’s help:
► Back-To-School Goes Shopping
I live in a neighborhood packed with colleges and art schools. So Back-To-School promotions translate to lots of activity at the big box stores.
Outside of Bed, Bath & Beyond and The Container Store, students jam the sidewalks. They wait with overflowing shopping carts for Ubers, Lyfts and yellow New York City taxis to get their newly acquired stuff back to their dorms and apartments.
2022 National Retail Federation Research found (Note: Survey methods weren’t stated.):
- Back-to-School (K-12) spending will average $864 and
- Back-to-College spending will average $1199.
The biggest difference is the cost of furnishing dorms and apartments.
Here’s what parents say about their BTS spending (Source: Deloitte):
- 37% expect to spend more on BTS in 2022 than they did in 2021;
- 57% worry about inflation on BTS products;
- 77% will change brands if prices are too high;
- 63% expect BTS stockouts; and
- 50% buy sustainable BTS products whenever possible and spend 22% more on average for these items.
Despite the stress of schooling at home during the pandemic, 8% of parents homeschool their children. They spend about 15% less than average on BTS buying. (Source: Deloitte)
Regardless of what products and services your business sells, it’s worth examining the BTS data to understand how customers shop.
Deloitte’s research shows that Millennial and Gen X buyers use social media to accomplish a variety of pre-purchase actions including:
- Browsing products,
- Reading reviews and recommendations;
- Finding promotions;
- Receiving coupons; and
- Posting feedback and reviews.
3 out of 5 online shoppers start their search by going directly to Amazon. (Source: eMarketer 2022) This number continues to increase over time. It helps that Amazon is one of the largest shopping content sites and many buyers have Prime Membership so shipping and handling is free.
Respondents plan to use new digital shopping options (Deloitte):
- 16% of respondents plan to use shoppable content;
- 12% of respondents plan to use “Buy” buttons on social media;
- 12% of respondents plan to use live/interactive video streaming; and
- 10% of respondents plan to use voice assistants.
Actionable Marketing Tips
- Understand that shoppers regardless of income level are concerned about inflation. So they look for lower prices even if they have to change brands. In some cases, they reuse products they already own.
- Offer prospects an array of options to find your products and pricing. If they don’t find your product when, where and how they search, they’ll purchase from another supplier.
► How To Support Your Community
Located in Washington, DC and Maryland, Loyalty Bookstores does a great job of supporting their local community by spotlighting Black and other minority authors with their tailored selection of books. They complement this with a calendar chock full of virtual events.
As a booklover, I stumbled onto their website and have received their email newsletters ever since. They do interesting things to attract audience attention.
What’s the key to this small business’s success?
The laser-focus of founder, Hannah Oliver Depp, to diversify the book industry to better serve communities of color and queerness.
As a result of their community work, Good Morning America (aka: GMA) asked Depp to be part of their Black Business Celebration month. As a result, Depp had a larger forum to discuss why diversity on bookshelves and within independent bookstores matter.
Here’s the link to the GMA segment with Depp.
Even better, GMA surprised Loyalty Bookstores with a check for $20,000 to continue their community outreach work.
What did Loyalty Bookstores do with this amazing opportunity?
They discussed it in their email newsletter entitled “Loyalty on Good Morning America for Black Business Month!”
While it’s generally not good to toot your own horn, you have to make a judgment call regarding when it’s appropriate. In this case, Loyalty Bookstores filled their newsletter with lots of photos to share their joy.
Actionable Branding Tips
- Laser-focus your brand on serving a specific niche.
- Consistently use your brand across every platform and IRL. Once your branding is established, this is a low budget branding tactic.
- Expand your brand by creating audience-focused events to celebrate them.
► How US Teens Use Social Media
Do you know how US teens use social media in 2022?
The answer might surprise you.
Among teens 35% say they use at least one of these 5 platforms “almost constantly:”
- 95% use Youtube,
- 67% use TikTok,
- 62% use Instagram,
- 59% use Snapchat, and
- 32% use Facebook.
Teen usage of these 3 social media platforms declined since 2014-2015:
- Facebook use decreased 39 percentage points,
- Twitter use went down 10 percentage points, and
- Tumblr use declined 9 percentage points.
After the pandemic caused many teens to increase their social relationships online, roughly half say it would be difficult to give up social media.
Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip
- Monitor the social media landscape regularly. Pay attention to how your target audience uses various platforms since they constantly change and evolve.
► Back-To-School Means Study Time
Regardless of where your formal education ended, the reality is you never stop being a student. So Back-To-School is a great time to catch up on your business and marketing reading to stay up-to-date.
While many college and university classes have required reading lists, during my years as a professor, the only time my students read the assigned materials was when it was on a test.
At some of the universities where I taught, I was told I couldn’t ask students to purchase expensive books because they were a financial hardship. So I had to create my own materials.
To help you cull the best of the business and marketing options, use these 2 book lists:
Lately, I’ve been reading David Meerman Scott’s 8th edition of his marketing classic, The New Rules of Marketing and PR. When I taught at NYU, I used earlier editions of this
book as part of my required readings. This hefty tome is definitely not a beach read since the paperback edition clocks in at 434 pages.
While many authors include their website, newsletter and/or email address in their bio, David used the last 2 pages to promote his business, namely
- Sign up for his Online Master Newsjacking course and
- Book him to speak at your event.
Using the last pages of a book to promote other books by the same publisher or author isn’t new. Paperback publishers have done this for years.
Actionable Marketing Tip:
- Cross-promote related content offerings and other products in your content marketing. Ideally use a human to handle this curation to ensure that it will make sense to your audience.
Download this free eBook from Content Marketing Institute to sharpen your storytelling, speed your writing process, and strengthen the impact of every word.
You’ll also receive a $100 discount to attend Content Marketing World 2022, September 13-16 in Cleveland.
Plan Ahead: Mark Your Calendar
If you missed Heidi Cohen’s talk with Jeff Coyle of MarketMuse entitled “How Getting Your Business Heard Changes Your Content Strategy,” then listen to the replay on your schedule.
► Content Marketing World
September 13-16th in Cleveland, OH.
The one event where attendees learn from the best in the content marketing industry.
October 10-13th, 2022 in Arlington, VA.
The market for Voice/AI solutions is growing exponentially. This conference brings together the top people working to transform the user experience.
► MarketingProfs B2B Forum
October 12-14th, 2022 in Boston.
Ann Handley brings B2B back to Boston with 49 Sessions. 4 Keynotes. Immeasurable connections and shenanigans!
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