All posts by dalecrangle

I am a freelance writer in the Mississauga area. My work has included articles in niches such as health, technology, metal fabrication, furniture, tourism, travel and investment and much more. As a freelancer, I will be happy to work closely with you to help you get the results you need in any writing project. Web content, press releases, or any other type of writing will be professionally written and delivered by your deadline.

Keys to Starting a Successful Marketing Campaign

Marketing campaigns can be a scary prospect for entrepreneurs, especially if you don’t have a marketing background, but there are a few things that you can do to get your campaign off on the right foot. It’s also important that you realize that even experts aren’t successful all of the time, and even some of the best campaigns can fail. You don’t need to be a marketing expert to get a successful campaign started, you just need a little guidance in doing it. Following these steps will ensure that your efforts—whether it’s in social media, print, video, or any other medium—will maximize the return on investment for your new strategy.

Working SMART: The Best Way to Start Your Strategy

Making sure that your campaign meets its goals starts with the SMART strategy. This simple acronym can be used for many types of goals, and isn’t limited only to marketing.

  • Specific: Goals should not be general. They should be clearly defined, and there must be no ambiguity in order to avoid misinterpretation. Saying, “I want to add subscribers to my blog,” gives no definition for success. Instead, say, “I want to add 100 subscribers to my blog in the next month.” This gives a specific number of subscribers along with an exact time frame to achieve the goal.
  • Measurable: Not knowing if you reached your goals means not knowing if your plans have been a success. Continually collect and evaluate the data that matters to your campaign: page clicks, phone calls, dollars sold, or other information that can show which strategies are working. Don’t just measure your goals at the end of a campaign, but do it throughout. This lets you react to changes, and allows you to see what methods are either successful or not.
  • Attainable: Unattainable goals can be deflating and lead to risky behavior. The goals that you set out for your marketing strategy should be something that can be attained by you and your team. Setting unachievable targets can demoralize everyone involved in the campaign
  • Relevant: The goals that you set for your campaign need to be relevant to the business you’re in. If your customer base is made up of older professionals, then it’s likely irrelevant for you to want to increase your Instagram followers, which is primarily a much younger demographic. Making relevant goals will keep your business from chasing the wrong targets, ensuring you work toward something that will benefit your business.
  • Timely: Goals need to have a timeframe attached to them. If they don’t, and you leave your goals open, you may not feel the pressure of a deadline, and your goals can fall by the wayside.

Making sure that your marketing goals are aligned with the SMART method will ensure that you end up with goals that will actually benefit your business, and that you can analyse to ensure that it meets all your needs. Using SMART is not the only way to set up a successful marketing campaign, though.

Doing Your Homework Pays Off

In order for any marketing campaign to be effective, research is the key to your business success. Knowing your audience will tell you the best media to advertise your products or services, and will also inform you about the type of voice your campaign needs to have.

Doing a little research into your target market will help your small business compete with larger ones, and will make your marketing efforts more efficient. Many aspects of a target audience can be evaluated, making decisions easier for your campaign. Take, for example, Instagram, where 90% of its 150 million users are under the age of 35, and where video is found to attract much more engagement over images. If your ad campaign was focused on women over 35, and used images, it would be more beneficial for you to know that 42% of females on the Internet use Pinterest. You are then able to focus your efforts on posting images to Pinterest, where your target market is much more likely to see it.

It would also be beneficial to you to look into what your competitors are doing. Looking at successful (or even unsuccessful) campaigns from other businesses with the same target market can help you define what does or doesn’t work. Is it better to use videos for similar products? What hashtags are popular on Twitter? Are case studies more effective than white papers? What kind of headlines get attention? All of these things should be researched and their effectiveness measured by your business.

Don’t Overdo the Analysis

At some point, you just have to stop researching and analyzing and just go for it. This is where the “relevant” part of the SMART program comes in. Looking at all types of data for a marketing campaign can overburden you or your marketing team, causing more time to be spent on data analytics than on actual marketing. Determining key performance indicators (KPI) at the beginning of a campaign, can prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed with data.

Large companies can fall victim to data paralysis just as easily as entrepreneurs can. Teams can lose sight of what’s important, and get stuck on even the smallest details that are actually irrelevant to the overall marketing strategy. Knowing when to stop analyzing and just start campaigning will keep your campaign on track.

If you feel like you’re becoming paralyzed with all the data, take a step back and breathe. Figure out what is important to your campaign, and what data has actual relevance to your business.

While running email campaigns, for example, you need to look at things like open rates, and click rates to make things a success. Looking at your increase or decrease in Twitter followers likely has nothing to do with email, and should be put aside until it becomes important. Simply knowing what is important to your marketing success will keep you on track and moving forward.

A Final Word

Setting up a marketing campaign for success is a tricky prospect, and even marketing professionals sometimes get it wrong. Sticking to SMART principles, researching your target markets and the best media to reach them, and then simply moving forward with the campaign is the first step.

For help in writing your marketing materials, contact me today. Case studies, blog posts, customer-facing emails and white papers are all an important part of marketing your business to your customers.

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The Power of Social Media: How a Celeb Post Boosted a Pharma Stock

We all know that social media is used by companies and individuals to reach the masses. It’s a powerful marketing tool that can boost a company’s brand loyalty, convert customers and create brand awareness.

There are companies out there who have benefitted greatly from the power of social media, and this post takes a look at one Instagram post that raised the stock of a drug company.

Diclegis

As medication used to combat morning sickness in pregnant women, Diclegis was approved for use by the FDA in 2013. It’s a combination of dicyclomine and doxylamine, which was originally introduced in 1956. It was eventually removed from the market due to claims that it caused birth defects, even though there was no such evidence.

Once re-approved by the FDA, the drug was marketed as Diclegis and manufactured by Duchesnay Inc. Studies of the drug showed that it was both safe for fetuses, as well as effective when treating morning sickness, when other methods hadn’t worked.

Diclegis and stocks in Duchesnay received a massive boost in social media in 2015. Pop culture icon Kim Kardashian was, at the time, pregnant with her second child and was experiencing morning sickness. In an effort to reduce the morning sickness she used Diclegis, and found that it worked for her.

The Big Boost

In July, 2015, Kardashian uploaded this post to Instagram:

OMG. Have you heard about this? As you guys know my #morningsickness has been pretty bad. I tried changing things about my lifestyle, like my diet, but nothing helped, so I talked to my doctor. He prescribed me #Diclegis, I felt a lot better and most importantly, it’s been studied and there was no increased risk to the baby. I’m so excited and happy with my results that I’m partnering with Duchesnay USA to raise awareness about treating morning sickness. If you have morning sickness, be safe and sure to ask your doctor about the pill with the pregnant woman on it and find out more www.diclegis.com; www.DiclegisImportantSafetyInfo.com

The post was accompanied by a photo of Kardashian holding a bottle of the medication.

Kardashian, at the time, had 42.4 million followers, and the post quickly went viral with 450,000 likes, and causing a 500% increase in digital chatter about the drug in the month of July. The company’s stock jumped, as did brand awareness. Suddenly, 42 million people were now aware of the drug, many whom may never have heard of it otherwise.

The Instagram post was better advertising than the company could ever have dreamed of, and was likely shared and retweeted many more times through the accounts of other users.

A controversy about the post followed, with the FDA warning Duchesnay that it failed to properly warn people about side-effects, even though a link directed people to further information. The company complied with the FDA, and the post was subsequently removed.

Despite what followed, social media boosted a drug company’s brand awareness and stocks with a single post, and the importance of this kind of public relations is not diminishing. In 2014, 92% of marketers told Forbes magazine that social media was important to their business and increased traffic to their websites.

With increased brand awareness, opportunities for conversions, higher conversion rates and improved brand loyalty, every business should be participating in social media marketing.

Private Internet: Why Your B&B Needs It

Bed and breakfast inns used to be considered a place where people could go to get away for the weekend, but cell phones, laptop computers and tablets have changed all of that.  Increasingly, people who used bed and breakfasts also bring their work with them.  They check emails, work on their laptops, make use of company credit cards and access sensitive information.  This happens with personal information, too.  Credit card numbers, banking information and passwords are all used on Wi-Fi networks provided by bed and breakfast owners.

But here’s the problem: these networks aren’t secure, even if they are password protected.  Any device connected to a network is visible to all the others on that network, making your guests vulnerable to snooping and data theft.

The Costs of Cyber Crime

cyber-crime_4
You may have heard about some of the high-profile data breaches in the news:

  • American retailer Target was hacked in 2013, and hackers gained access to 40 million credit card numbers. The breach cost the company $39 million in settlements.
  • In 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment revealed that personal information, including 47,000 Social Security numbers had been stolen from their network, along with electronic files, unreleased films, movie scripts, and email messages.
  • An enormous data breach at the United States Internal Revenue service saw hackers steal information from 330,000 individuals, resulting in the theft of $50 million in federal funds.

It’s important to keep in mind that these successful hacks happened to large
organizations with extensive IT departments.  If it can happen to them, imagine how much more difficult it would be for small businesses, such as a bed and breakfast inn, to defend against criminals.

Data theft is estimated to cost over $400 billion annually.  It’s a low-risk activity, where a criminal can connect a computer to a Wi-Fi hotspot, then simply read the data on the network.  Hackers can also set up an “Evil Twin” network—one that looks official, but isn’t—and have people log into it.  Users can access the Internet as usual, but hackers can log everything they do.

How Online Safety Relates to You

If you think that data theft can’t happen to you or your small bed and breakfast, think again.  Between 2010 and 2012, 72% of all data breaches involved companies which employed 100 employees or less.  On top of this, Symantec’s 2015 Internet Security Threat Report shows that the hospitality industry is in the top ten sectors breached by cyber criminals, with 1.8 million identities exposed that year.

Top Ten Sectors

Three quarters of Canadian bed and breakfast operations employ fewer than five people and, with most having little or no technical knowledge about network privacy, they can be easy targets for hackers.  With no IT departments for the industry, owner/operators are left to fend for themselves when it comes to online safety.

As for your guests, a recent Symantec survey in the European Union found that 59% of the people reported previous problems with data protection, such as email accounts being hacked, stolen bank details, online identity theft, and more.  An even more telling number is that 88% of respondents say that data security is the most important factor when considering doing business with another company.

When you take these numbers into account, it becomes obvious that your guests are deeply concerned about their online privacy, and many are taking steps to help keep their private information safe.  Unfortunately, they often leave devices like cell phones or tablets unprotected.  Without proper privacy measures, this often leaves them vulnerable when connected to Wi-Fi networks.

VPN Hardware: A Simple Solution

Computer internet cable and lock

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows devices to safely connect without being visible to others on the same network.  Many different VPN services are available, but these still carry risk to the user.  When connected to public networks, data can still be vulnerable to criminals with the right tools and knowledge.  At the same time, software must be installed on the devices themselves, and limits on the number or types of devices that can use the service are also in place.

Using VPN routers eliminates any restrictions on devices.  This hardware runs in the same way as an ordinary router, but offers encryption of data from the point of connection.  Any device is compatible—phones, tablets, laptops, even gaming consoles—so guests can be sure of their privacy, regardless of how they are accessing the network.  There is also no software to install, making connection for guests no different than connecting to normal Wi-Fi networks.

An additional advantage to guests is the ability to “roam at home” while using the network.  A VPN can show a user as accessing the Internet from their own country, and allows them to view all the websites and content that they get at home.  Benefits like this can add value to a visit from a foreign country.

The installation of VPN hardware is no different than the installation of a normal network router: plug it into your Internet access point, plug in the power, and it’s ready to go.  Some VPN routers allow for automatic updates, keeping the firmware current with security measures and patches.  VPN routers with this ability need minimal technical skills for owners to maintain them.

Featuring safe, private Internet access as a standard amenity can appeal to the many people who consider data privacy to be important.  Bed and breakfast inns that actively advertise this feature will likely seem more attractive to business people, and other guests who seek better protection from criminals.

Data protection is a growing industry, with businesses and individuals more concerned than ever about the safety of their personal information.  In a highly competitive market, advertising private network service to guests can make a difference to everyone who is concerned about the issue.

About the author:  Dale Crangle is a freelance content specialist.  He has written a number of projects for tech companies, software developers and various other industries.  He currently lives with his wife in Mississauga, Ontario.

Confidence Gained: How Dreaded Freelance Content Mills Helped Me

A boy, a Mississauga freelance writer, works on a white paper while using a typewriter.
When I was younger, I used to dream about writing for a living. Now, I’m actually trying to do it.

As a boy, I used to dream about writing for a career.I only just started seriously freelancing in the past few months.  Writing is something that I had wanted to do when I was much younger, but was very hard to get into.  There was no internet in the 1980’s, and it was just coming into its own during the 1990’s.  Once the millennium came around, I had given up on writing and moved on to other things.

Brand-New Start

So, now that I’ve decided on a brand-new career path, I feel like I’m starting over again.  Writing has changed a lot since the time when I learned to write in the 80’s and 90’s and I had to relearn a lot of what it meant to write in the information age.  So I read a lot of other people’s articles, how-to articles and job postings.

Everything that I read from anyone who is in the know about freelance writing says, “Stay away from content mills.”  They pay slave wages, they don’t help you write solid articles, the jobs there don’t allow you to repost articles for your portfolio.

All of this is true.

I’ve been working on a content mill writing articles that are 60 cents per hundred words—that’s horrible pay and I can practically hear other freelance writers groaning out loud.  I can’t link any of the articles to my own website and I know I’m spinning my wheels there.

+1 to Confidence

So, I haven’t made a lot of money as a freelancer.  I’ve yet to land a real client that pays professional wages, but there is something that I can take away from writing for websites like this:  I can write content well, I can write it reasonably quickly and writing a few thousand words doesn’t scare me now.  I know I can do it because I have been doing it.  I just need to do it for better pay.

For me, writing for a content mill is something that I needed to do in order to figure out how to write again and learn what topics I’m interested in writing about.  When I got my first (relatively) well-paying client from that site, the prospect of writing a 1400 word article didn’t scare me anymore.  The fact that I got paid $150 for doing it finally convinced me that there are people who will pay much better rates and the fact that the client gave me repeat business showed me that people like the final product.

Now, it’s on to bigger and better things.  I’m finally at the point where I’m inspired to push harder for what I want.  I feel like this is something that is achievable for me.  I’m nervous about the whole thing, but the content mill part of my career has helped me out, and that alone is worth it.

The Rise of Netflix

From Humble Beginnings

It’s interesting to think back to a time when Netflix was simply a movie rental company that sent you DVDs in the mail.  You could order from a catalog of titles and it would appear in your mailbox for your viewing pleasure.  You’d then return it to them, regardless of how long it took you to watch, and you’d receive another in its place.  There were no late fees and, at time when brick-and-mortar video stores were much more common, this was a relief to those of us who were too lazy to go return the movies on time.

Once Netflix started its online streaming service, television viewing was on a crash-course for revolution.  No one could have predicted the wild success that the company has enjoyed since, and its new shows are outshining most, if not all, cable companies and even broadcast networks.

Rising Stars

Providing a huge catalog of movies for its subscribers for a small monthly fee is what made Netflix the force it is today.  Not only could you rent movies which were difficult to find in a traditional video store, but you could also watch movies at home via your internet connection and a computer.

Eventually the streaming service continued growing, and people started paying attention.  Hollywood blockbusters became available online, alongside classics that we hadn’t seen in years.  TV shows that we watched growing up could be streamed at our leisure, as well as current shows.  With the streaming service the term, “binge-watching” was brought into the mainstream vocabulary.

Independent Network

Beginning with the runaway hit House of Cards, Netflix was now producing original content in the same way that networks and cable channels did.  Netflix had become a TV network-that-wasn’t-a-network and continued producing shows.  Orange is the New Black was another critical and fan success, along with shows like Lillyhammer, Marco Polo and the comedy The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

On top of the original programming, Netflix resurrected another cult favorite: Arrested Development.  The show ran from 2003 until 2006 and gained critical success as well as a number of awards and nominations.  Netflix then licensed the show and released them on their streaming service, and producer Brian Grazer has recently said that there will be another season of the show.

Most recently, Netflix debuted Marvel’s Daredevil, which currently holds a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  The show brings a darker edgier version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to fans.  Daredevil dares to push the envelope for violence in the Marvel Universe, as it isn’t restricted by broadcast network standards, or the PG-13 restrictions placed on the movies.

Not content to stand still, Netflix will be bringing more Marvel to our screens with shows involving Comic heroes Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.  If that isn’t enough geek for you, it will be followed by a Defenders miniseries.

Stormy Weather

It hasn’t all been roses for Netflix.  With success comes challenge, and there have been some that have given Netflix something of a headache.

In September, 2013, the Canadian CRTC demanded that Netflix hand over user data to verify that Canadian content was being provided to subscribers as per Canadian regulations.  Netflix refused to hand over the data, and the CRTC response was that Netflix would be ignored in future talks about television in Canada.

In another public battle in the war over net neutrality, Comcast, an American ISP, demanded that Netflix pay for access in order to provide proper streaming service to its customers.  Netflix fought back, but Comcast began throttling streams from Netflix.  A settlement was reached, with Netflix paying an undisclosed sum.

The Future is Bright

Netflix is going nowhere anytime soon, and that’s great news for subscribers.  The company only continues to grow.  With anticipated new shows on the horizon, such as the Marvel shows and Sense8, the network’s popularity will only increase.

It was just revealed that Netflix has now overtaken CBS in market capitalization.  Seeing has Netflix is smaller than any of the other major conglomerates, this is an astounding feat.  It shows that the company’s management is doing something right.

So, it’s time to get the popcorn and sit back on the couch.  Binge-watching is here to stay, and Netflix is aiming to have the best content when and where you want it.  That’s not bad for the little movie rental company that could.

Hello, [Insert Your Name Here], Buy Our Stuff!

Personal digital advertising is already somewhat upon us.  All you have to do is browse the web for a while and it would be hard to not see that the ads that pop up on many web pages are tailored to your previous searches.  Technology can now take a look at your browsing history and show you advertising based on your interests.  Netflix has similar technology which gives you suggestions based on movies or shows that you have watched and ranked highly in the past, as does Facebook, based on the things you like or links you click on.

Moving forward from online activity, researchers are developing technology that could feel more like a scene from Minority Report, as Tom Cruise walks through a department store or subway station and is bombarded with in-store ads personalized to his taste based on previous shopping.  Well, science fiction is (once again) taking another step to becoming reality.

One day, you could walk into a Tim Hortons donut shop and the menu boards will change based on your interests to give you a personalized menu for browsing.  This technology may feel like something out of Minority Report, when Tom Cruise walks through a department store or subway station and is bombarded personalized ads, but science fiction is (once again) taking another step to becoming reality.

Cineplex Digital is headquartered in London, Ontario, and has supplied roughly 33,000 advertising screens to various retailers around the world, including Tim Hortons and McDonalds restaurants and banks.  The feeling in the advertising community is that, in today’s world, advertising must be flashy and kinetic in order to get people’s attention and keep it away from social media.

Recently, Sport Check opened a store in the West Edmonton mall that has over 800 screens in the store.  These allow you wave a shoe in front of the screen in order to get more information about the shoe (or other items).  Screens in store also allow you to interact with them and personalize your team jersey or see photos mailed in to the store from local community sports teams.  The rest of the screens flash advertising from many different manufacturers, hoping that you’ll spot something that interests you.

Cineplex Digital is looking to further advance this kind of advertising, using mobile devices.  Installed apps would communicate with the store’s computers and provide you personalized ads either on your phone or on the screens.  It could provide customers with suggestions that complement their shopping by providing other products related to the store.

Services like this not only provide customers with additional suggestions, but they also cut down on the perceived wait times at stores.  Just yesterday, I was in line at a local Pizza Pizza showing movie trailers on one of its digital boards.  I stood and watched the trailers and hardly noticed the time it took to get the order ready.

Restaurants are even getting in on the act, using digital tables which allow customers to order directly from the table top with interactive menus.  Some tables even allow for credit cards to be placed on the table in order to pay for the orders.  In the meantime, patrons can play table top games while they wait for their orders.  I’m sure it’s only a small step for tables to be able to show sporting events, or allow patrons to set up an account that tracks their orders and shows them other foods they may be interested in.

Although it may be a far cry from the retinal scans of Minority Report, the concept itself is upon us.  Depending on your views, that could be both good and bad.  I get irritated with pop-up ads everywhere, but at the same time, personalized advertising does work.  I’ve clicked on many ads that I’ve seen in my browser, leading me to something I might not otherwise have found, and I have watched digital screens while standing in line at a restaurant.  As technology moves forward, so does the advertising industry.  Regardless of how you feel about advertising, it’s clearly here to stay and we will start to see more and more of it used in creative ways.