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Nancy Birnbaum-Marketing Maven


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[Infographic] Top 10 Typography Trends to Know

I’m sure that I’m not alone when it comes to using the “right” typeface when marketing or designing collateral for a business. In fact, there are so many (43,000 typefaces for the web alone!), that it’s hard to know where to begin.

When you’re tasked with picking a typeface for your brand, it can easily become overwhelming. So here’s a handy Infographic that shows the most popular fonts of 2017 and the trends to watch going forward. You may find some surprising info.

#BetterLettersIn2018 <3!

Infographic by Web-design and marketing agency Branex.



Optimizing for Voice Search: Four Tactics for 2018

With all the talk about the future of marketing, we marketers forget about the changes happening right now, right in front of us. Voice search is one of those phenomena, and it’s affecting search results as you read.

And it’s a trend that marketers can easily capitalize on with the right optimization techniques.

How important is voice search optimization today? Some 40% of adults now use voice search once per day, according to comScore, and Google voice search queries were up 35 fold in 2016 from 2008 levels, according to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends report.

In short, it’s time to optimize your website for voice search.

Fortunately, doing so is not rocket science. You can have your website ranking for certain phrases within a few weeks, if you start using the following four strategies today.

1. Questions Over Keywords

Sure, keywords are vital to search engine optimization (SEO). And, yes, that still applies when we talk about voice searches. But voice searches are largely about answering questions, not about focusing on individual keywords.

If you’re trying to optimize a website for a flower shop, you wouldn’t focus on short-tail keywords like “fresh flowers” or “[insert city] flower shops.” Instead, you’d aim to address a consumer’s specific question, such as “how to setup a flower arrangement for a patio area?”

This favoring of long-tail keywords is the prevailing trend in SEO, in general, but it applies most aptly to voice search.

The easiest thing you can do to start addressing those sorts of questions is to add an FAQ page to your site. If you can answer a series of questions with “value,” drawing on your industry expertise, Google’s search bots will recognize these efforts and reward you with a prominent voice search result, as will other search engines. Like so…

Voice-search-courtesy of

If you’re having trouble formulating a good set of consumer questions to address, don’t be afraid to perform some outreach. Join forums and message boards, and use Quora to interact with consumers and fellow marketers alike. You can also reach out to your email list to identify which areas your customers need the most help in.

2. Local Search Optimization

Have you ever found yourself visiting a city for the first time and relying on your phone to tell you the best restaurants and places to visit? That is one of the largest applications of voice search today, and it’s a growing trend.

Optimizing for voice search means optimizing for local SEO. Here are the two main areas of overlap between the two:

  • Google My Business listing: Make sure your business address, phone number, and website are listed accurately.
  • Reviews: You want to collect lots of positive Google reviews. When somebody asks Siri for “best Thai restaurants in LA,” they’ll be shown places with the most reviews first. (Study after study comes to the same conclusion: Consumers use positive reviews to inform their purchasing decisions.)

3. Mobile-Responsiveness

It goes without saying that most voice searches are performed on some sort of mobile device. So you’d better make sure that your site is good to go on mobile.

Moreover, Google has announced mobile-first indexing, which means that it doesn’t really matter how responsive your desktop site is; if your mobile site is a dud, your search ranking will be a dud, period.

Creating a positive mobile experience means your content must be digestible to the user. Long paragraphs should be reconsidered in favor of short, 2-3 sentence tidbits.

Think about your own experience reading content on a mobile device. How many times have you given up on an article for no other reason than it was too long and clunky to read?

Content for a mobile site should be succinct and concise, and it should clearly answer the question you’re trying to rank for in voice search. If it’s too roundabout, if it fails to directly address the question, and it’s written like a 500-page novel, don’t expect to be rewarded in voice search results.

4. Video Content Creation

Finally, a great way to sneak into voice search rankings is to post a YouTube video that answers the specific topic you have in mind.

It turns out that YouTube videos do show up in voice search results.

Here’s an example for “how to tie a tie”:

video-content-screenshot-courtesy of

We’ve known for a while that YouTube videos can outrank static Web pages in normal SERPs, but this is apparently true for voice search as well.

If you’re camera-shy, fear not. You don’t have to go in front of the camera if you don’t want to. Instead, you can answer a question using graphics and voiceover: in short, explainer videos.

The Main Point

Poring through all the statistics, data, and case studies about voice search can be headache-inducing; so, rather than overthinking your strategy, which can lead you to crash and burn, try to break it down into the basic principle of answering your consumers’ questions.

Of course, figuring out those questions is where the grunt work comes in (keyword research). But once you’ve decided on a set of questions, created content with actionable solutions, and optimized it for voice search and local SEO, you might well be surprised to see how much your hard work pays off!

Article by Michael Peggs. Originally published on

Need help with any of these options? Get in touch!

What Is Participatory Propaganda? And Why Your 2018 PR Campaigns Need it

Public Relations and traditional propaganda have been most effective when publishers control the narratives. Today, however, people—not the publishers—have greater control in the broader Social Media arena. The future of marketing, the key to setting the narrative is the amount of participation, not publication on its own.

Following the 2016 US presidential election, a fake news site held the top search result for “Election Results,” and the article stated (falsely) that Donald Trump had won the popular vote. That article had over 325 backlinks, hundreds of comments, and over 450,000 shares on Facebook; the CNN “Election Results” page, on the other hand, had only 300 backlinks, no comments, and 1/10th of the shares on Facebook.

Proving that participation is more powerful than publication…

Alica Wanless is the queen of “participatory propaganda,” and in her article on La Generalist, she contends that it is the key reason Brexit, Trump, and ISIS have been so successful as of late.

Wanless writes. “Propaganda is changing in a Digital Age. Audiences are no longer passive consumers of persuasive content, but active in its creation and spread, helping to further the agenda of propagandists whose messaging resonates with the target’s world view.

Participatory propaganda moves beyond a one-way form of communication (the propagandist using mass media to persuade a passive target audience), to a “one-to-many-to-many more” form of communication (the propagandist engaging in dialogue with the target audience such that more people are recruited to spread persuasive messaging to others, essentially snowballing the effect). Participatory propaganda offers the ability to truly dominate the information space through volume of messaging, delivered through a mix of real people and automated accounts, effectively making it difficult to discern where fake ends and authenticity begins.

In the Digital Age, this traditional approach is evolving into a participatory propaganda model in which the target audience is no longer mere passively consuming persuasive messaging but also becoming active in producing and distributing such content. The original propaganda message triggers, reinforces, or exacerbates pre-existing sentiments associated with the message in a way that prompts the consumer to actively engage in its propagation through available social networks, both on and off-line. Even if modified through the consumer’s own interpretation, the core message remains intact, and even acquires ‘new life’. At the same time, online monitoring tools enable the original propagandist to follow and assess the spread of his or her messaging, adapting strategies in a constant feedback loop.”

“Participatory propaganda is the deliberate, and systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, direct behaviour, co-opting grassroots movements as well as recruiting audience members to actively engage in the spread of persuasive communications, to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.”

Her article outlines the steps necessary in the application of a Participatory Propaganda model: In reviewing the Donald Trump 2016 presidential election campaign, seven steps emerged that clearly demonstrated this:

  1. Conduct hyper-target audience analysis;
  2. Develop inflammatory content that erodes faith in the opponent and manipulates audience cognitive biases: Fake news; Memes; Data Leaks/Hacks;
  3. Inject this content into echo chambers identified through audience analysis;
  4. Manipulate Feed and Search Algorithms;
  5. Mobilize followers to action;
  6. Win media attention: Be a trend; Stage a Scandal; or Commune with the news; and
  7. Rinse and Repeat.

Click here for an analysis of each of these steps.

PR is about controlling the narrative, and in our modern world collective engagement has proven to be a more powerful at narrative-setting than placement or coverage. The future of PR is participatory.

Do you need help negotiating the slippery slopes of PR? Contact Us for a no-obligation consultation.

Zen Moment: Zen and the Art of Marketing for Good

These are turbulent times, and it takes an effort to make sense of it all.

In today’s blog I take a look at how the business and marketing community can benefit from a Zen-like approach to relate to today’s fractured and often alienated audiences.

As the Dalai Lama said,

“To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible. If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant. What we must do therefore is to strive and persevere and never give up.”

― Dalai Lama XIV

Strive and persevere and never give up.

Inspiring words…

Marketing – the Bellweather of business confidence

Businesses are naturally concerned about recent events. And marketers particularly so as marketing spend is often viewed as a Bellweather or indicator of business confidence.

As the volatile stock market demonstrated today, any major surprise (or calamity, depending on where you sit) has the power to either;

A) ignite creativity


B) create fear and uncertainty

Zen and the Art of Marketing for Good

The world is shrinking and we’re more globally aware and connected than ever before. We should ideally use the communication channels available to us for good, and look out for ways to improve lives in the process.

“Marketing for Good” is the term I’ve chosen. By which I mean using creative, lateral and inclusive thinking to deliver effective marketing with ethical outcomes.

Education, Sustainability and Fair Trade initiatives have for some time been a way for multinationals such as Kerry Group, Unilever and Coke to demonstrate their social conscience and win favour with consumers, and smaller companies should also consider what part they can play in similar initiatives.

Here’s a quick list of some of the “Marketing for Good” trends of the past decade that spring to mind…

  1. Social corporate responsibility whereby all kinds of companies align with charities (this Huffpost article delves into the CSR topic),
  2. Contextual marketing allows brands and companies to provide real time, location-specific information and experiences (this Púca blog explores the opportunities for marketers)
  3. Exergaming is simply gaming plus exercise. Win-win! It is related to contextual marketing in terms of integrating location based information. Pokémon GO is just the beginning…
  4. Evolved Customer Experience sees public and private organisations using apps and other digital strategies to listen to, inform and empower their customers
  5. Business efficiency apps are reducing reliance on paper-based forms, fuel costs and other environmental impacts
  6. Mobile payment solutions are allowing consumers to quickly channel donations to charities

I’m hoping to see marketers continue to foster “marketing for good” initiatives that benefit the environment, socially disadvantaged and other worthy causes. The brands that do so will deservedly win the affinity and loyalty of their customers.

So what’s my conclusion?

I guess it’s simply that Marketing for Good is all about nurturing our social conscience alongside our sense of creativity, innovation and fun. I feel that as long as marketers stay positive and creative and continue to think digital, then their brands or clients will continue to thrive.

Originally published on The Pulse.

#russianriverpr #marketingzen #corporate-responsibility



Easy How To: Write a business plan that will get noticed

I found this well-written article on Shopify (the new-ish, easy-to-use way to add commerce to your website). Thanks Jessica!

“Ah, the dreaded business plan. A frightful phrase for many, the very idea of having to write a business plan to apply for bank financing or equity crowdfunding can conjure up feelings of frustration or even dread!

That’s why so many business owners put off their funding applications and procrastinate about completing their business plans, even when they know finishing the task is in their best interests.

But if you need a business bank loan to grow your retail or ecommerce business, then you can’t avoid the business plan. Fortunately, you can use an approach that’s productive, interesting, and even (dare I say it?) fun, to develop a business plan that helps you apply for financing and becomes an important tool for guiding your company’s growth.

The “Ideal Customer” Approach to Business Planning

Gone are the days of the 80-page novella with reams of meaningless hockey stick graphs and business jargon. Your business is new and innovative, and your business plan should reflect that. Start with a simple question:

Who is my Ideal Customer?

Every single other piece of content you write for your business plan should be written with the answer to this question in mind. Once you have defined the one perfect customer for your business—the one you would simply clone thousands of times if you could—then you have a foundation for your market research, your marketing plan, your operations manual, even your financial projections. With a clear understanding of what problem your business solves and who you solve it for, writing a business plan becomes an exercise in how you’re going to make your ideal customers happy.

A business plan should be an exercise in how you will make your ideal customers happy.

[Click to tweet]

Suddenly, a business plan becomes something actionable. Something you can actually use to guide your business and evaluate your progress.

It also becomes something focused, specific, and clear. It’s no 80-page tome. It’s a succinct breakdown of exactly what your business will do and who it will do it for. That’s pretty compelling.

I’ll tell you this: if you write your business plan with this focus, you will be able to excite any lender or investor who reads it.

What to Include in Your Business Plan

Even with this new approach, your business plan should still be laid out the way lenders expect to see it. I recommend starting with this general outline and customizing it to your business.

1. Executive Summary: An overview of your business plan. Summarize all the important points in one page.

2. Business Overview

a. Products & Services: What you sell and who you sell it to

b. Company Ownership/Legal Status: Who owns your company, and what percentage of the business does each owner have? Is the company a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation? How much money has been invested into the company by the owners to date?

c. Start-up Summary: How much money do you need and how will you spend it?

d. Mission/Vision: What’s your purpose for being in business? This is an important part of the story you want to share with your customers and your lender.

e. Goals & Objectives: Include at least one short-term (within year 1) and one long-term (3+ years) goal for your business, and 2-3 smaller objectives that will help you reach those goals.

3. The Market

a. The Ideal Customer: Who is your customer avatar?

b. Market Size: Discuss your overall market and how big you think it is.

c. Market Segmentation: Your products and services will appeal to a few different kinds of customers. Describe your market segments, and indicate which one your ideal customer falls into.

4. Industry Trends: What are the local and global trends in your industry? This is also a good place to talk about switching costs, suppliers, and the potential for new competitors to emerge.

5. Competition: List your major competitors along with their strengths and weaknesses. Include an explanation of the benefits they offer to buyers.

6. Marketing & Sales Plans

a. Competitive Advantage: What sets you apart from everyone else who sells what you sell?

b. Marketing Plan: What will your initial and ongoing marketing activities look like, and what’s your budget for those? How many new customers should your marketing activities bring you? How many subscribers? How much website traffic?

7. SWOT Analysis: Analyze your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What are the best things about your company? What are you not so good at? What market or industry shifts can you take advantage of and turn into opportunities? Are there external factors threatening your ability to succeed? Add a paragraph discussing how the business will overcome its weaknesses and threats.

8. Operations

a. General Operations: What are your opening hours? What is the process for bringing on a new customer? How about getting reviews, feedback or referrals? Do you have a clear sales funnel (the path people take to become your customer)? What does a typical day in your business look like?

b. Location: If you have a location, describe it and why you chose it. If you’re choosing to do business online instead, explain why.

c. Distribution: Are all your sales direct to customer, or do you sell wholesale or through affiliate partners?

d. Suppliers: Who are the major suppliers for your business, and how did you choose them?

9. Management & Personnel

a. Management Overview: Describe your management team’s background and explain their roles in the day-to-day operation of the business.

b. Personnel/Staffing: Summarize your personnel needs here, including your hiring schedule, approximate wages, and your organizational chart. Explain what each staff member does on a daily basis. It’s your people who operate your business, so you need to explain what they do to make it tick.

10. Exit Strategy: Do you plan to operate this business forever, or eventually sell, license or franchise it? Lenders need to know how they’re going to get their money back.

11. Financial Projections

a. Assumptions: Everyone skips this part, but it’s the most important part of the financial forecasts. Explain your assumptions about revenue, sales growth, and expenses here.

b. Break Even: Briefly summarize when you expect your company to start breaking even—that is, earn enough revenue to cover all operating costs.

c. Profit & Loss: Highlight your projected net profits and explain whether they are higher or lower than the industry standard, and why.

d. Cash Flow: Explain your credit policies and offer a plan for what you’ll do if your cash balance starts to get low.

e. Balance Sheet: Briefly explain the expected debt (loans or lines of credit) to equity (owner or investment contribution) in your business, and why you chose this balance.

Know When to Stop Writing

It’s so easy to go overboard with market research and analysis. Keep it focused mostly on your ideal customer, with just a short paragraph on each of your other market segments.

In your Personnel section, you don’t need to provide complete job descriptions. In most cases, just a line or two will do. In the competitive analysis, review only your top 3-5 closest competitors; if you have many competitors, as restaurants and retail stores often do, group them into categories instead of analyzing each one individually.

Lenders don’t have time to read really long business plans, so don’t write them. Usually, a lender will review your Executive Summary and Financial Projections first, and if they like what they see, they’ll move on to review the rest of the plan. Make sure your Executive Summary summarizes your ideal customer, your financing request, your estimated loan payback period, your profit potential, and your team’s capability to make it all happen—all in one page.

I repeat—your Executive Summary should only be one page long.

And don’t try to write it until the rest of your business plan is finished. It’s always the last task you should tackle, when the plan is still fresh in your mind and the most important points are easy to recall.

When you’ve done all of this, you’ll have a concise business plan that probably won’t exceed 20 pages.

What to Do With Your Business Plan After You Get Funding

With a business plan focused on your ideal customer, you hold in your hand a powerful tool for keeping your business on track. Assuming you set clear goals and objectives in the plan, you can go back and review these to evaluate whether or not you’ve achieved them.

You can use your financial forecasts to compare to your company’s actual performance, and quickly see if anything needs to shift. And when you’re making decisions about marketing campaigns, you can review your ideal customer profile to make sure your marketing dollars are being spent in places that will resonate with the people you want to sell to.

See? A business plan can be an interesting and useful tool for your business, as well as an essential document for getting a business loan. When you see your plans actually start to manifest, you’ll be very glad you did all of that work and didn’t shove it into a desk drawer when you were done.

Originally published on Shopify Blog


Planning your Small Biz Marketing in 2017

It’s time to start thinking about updating your marketing plan for the New Year. Not to worry, RussianRiverPR is here to help you find the best plan for your small business and budget. Happy 2017! It’s all about your plan. Do you have one yet?

Here’s a good pre-planning list from our friends at RIPL.

How do you know how effective your marketing efforts are if you don’t know what you want to accomplish?

The first step to being prepared in 2017 is to pick a goal. Make it specific and attainable. Start by reflecting on last years accomplishments and failures. There’s a lot of opportunity to learn from what worked and didn’t work for you, your business, and your customers.

Your marketing goal should be a statement of what results you want from your marketing efforts. For example your goal for 2017 could be to:

  • Achieve $500k in revenue (or overall sales)
  • Sell 75 homes
  • Get to 1000 customers in your loyalty program
  • Reach a 5 star rating on a third party site

What tactics will you use to accomplish your primary goal?

Think about the activities that will help you reach your goal. These should focus on customer acquisition, retention, and engagement. Creating awareness, generating interest, closing new sales and continuing customer engagement. Break it down – yearly, monthly, weekly, daily – to help you stay on track and reach your goals.

  • Email Newsletter to my customers (weekly, daily, monthly – depending on your customers and business)
  • Grow email list by 10 each week, 40/month, 480/year
  • Post regularly (weekly, daily, bi-weekly) to social media
  • Create 1 blog post per month
  • Grow Instagram followers by 500 each month (6,000/year, 125/week, 17/day)

Think about your target audience. . . who is your customer? What sets you apart from the competition? Consider consistent and creative messaging across all your social media, websites and customer-facing content. Video will continue to be a strong trend in 2017 across social media and marketing.

Think about your customer buying cycle. . . how do your customers find you? Decide to buy from you? And keep returning? What do you communicate to them during each of these steps or phases along the way? How are they thinking and feeling when making these decisions to purchase from you?

Answering these questions will help you come up with activities and content to achieve your main marketing goal.

How will you know success?

Measure, measure, measure and be data driven. Measuring starts with documentation. Document where you’re at now and where you’re going along the way. At Ripl, we use Google Sheets to help us stay organized and track changes week over week. Measure, evaluate, learn, and adjust!

Revisit your goal weekly or monthly and make adjustments along the way if something isn’t working or doesn’t seem attainable.

What are you waiting for? Start working on documenting your marketing goals and activities to prepare for a successful 2017!

Originally published by RIPL –

Contact Us now to learn how easy it can be to develop a marketing plan or just get some much-needed help. Email RussianRiverPR at

Common Mistakes Made in an Ecommerce Business

(Originally published in the Blog)

Building an online business can be difficult, especially if it’s your first time. However, just because it’s your first time doesn’t mean you need to make first-timer mistakes. There’s a famous quote that says “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

In this post, we will look at seven of the most common mistakes new ecommerce business owners make and how you can avoid them.

In no particular order, here they are:

“If You Build It They Will Come” Mentality

They won’t. Building your business (and traffic) takes time, energy and effort. According to Internet Live Stats, the internet has about 1,202,012,086 websites at this very moment, and according to WorldWideWebSize there are 4.44 billion pages. Take a moment to think about that. When you create your store, you will be website number 1,202,012,087. How are people going to find you?

Building the most beautiful site and filling it with great products won’t make customers come. When you start a business, you have to realize that launching your store is just the first step in a great journey to building your business. There are however many steps that come after launch.

No Logo

A logo is usually the first thing a visitor sees and one of the first impressions of your online store. Most if not all ecommerce platforms will display your shop title in standard text if you don’t upload a logo yourself, but this isn’t good enough.

So why do so many people launch stores with no logos?

Usually it’s because most people still think that in order to get a logo made, they need to find a designer and spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars. The fact is though, this isn’t true. Far from it. There are so many options available now for creating a free or very inexpensive logo that there’s no reason your shop should be using a default text logo.

No Proper About or Contact Page

A lot of store owners end up underestimating the sales potential of their About page. Have a look at your own analytics and you’ll likely find your About page is either the second most visited page or in the top three. That means this page is important to visitors.

Even though this is one of the most important pages for your visitors, many new online merchants tend to skimp on this page. Don’t.

Let’s look at some of the biggest mistakes people make on their About and Contact pages:

No Story – Who exactly are you? How did your store come to be? What’s the story of your products? How are they made? You don’t need to create an elaborate story, however, a few paragraphs that store visitors can relate to are hugely beneficial.

No Location Details – Yes, you’re an online store, but that doesn’t mean people don’t look for an address. Many visitors still want to know where you’re located and where your products ship from. For many visitors, it’s just an issue of trust, for others they want to know if they need to consider customs and duties if your products ship from another country.

Using A Generic Email Address – Yes, Gmail is great but that’s not going to cut it for your business. So many first time merchants are guilty of using a generic, throwaway email address. What does that say to customers? Take the time to set up a proper domain name ( and set up proper email addresses to let your customers know you’re in it for the long haul. (This is my top “Pet Peeve”).

Not Actually Thinking About Overall SEO Strategy

Probably the most common problem with new online stores is not doing any SEO or not doing it properly. It’s not rocket science but it’s not easy either. Coupled with the fact that SEO can take a while to show any signs of success and it ends up being a complete afterthought (if even a thought at all) for most new online businesses.

The thing is, SEO is quite necessary and can be one of your most powerful tools as it can continue to bring in targeted traffic to your site, day after day after day. Unlike channels like Facebook and Google Adwords which stop delivering traffic the second you stop paying.

Can you list the top 10 keywords you’re trying to target in the long term right now? If you can’t, it’s time to actually think about your SEO and keyword strategy.

Focusing On Too Many Things

Business is hard and complicated. Imagine a brain surgeon doing multiple surgeries at one time. It would be disaster! The same holds true for building a business. Sure someone’s life isn’t on the line, but the life of your business likely is.

All too often, entrepreneurs get scattered, chasing their tails, the next shiny app or growth hacking tactic instead of finishing that they started. This leads to a scattered approach that will rarely show positive results for the business.

Building a business is hard work, however, no matter how much work you put in, the small details as outlined in this post can sabotage your efforts and hard work.

Make sure you regularly take some time to take an objective look at your store (or business), your marketing channels and your goals to make sure you’re on the right path and you’ll be well on your way to more traffic and sales for your online store (or business).



Hiring a Marketing Consultant: What should I pay?

You already know that there’s no simple answer to this question. I will however, attempt to delve into what you can expect to get for your hard-earned bucks.

What should I expect?

Consultants offer all types of services, from full-on Marketing Plans to social media marketing help. They can help you with advertising, help you put CRM (or database) management in place, provide content to use on your website… In fact, they can help you build your online presence with a website, social media and the ever-important SEO!

What’s A Fair Hourly Rate?

That will depend on some of these aspects…

  • What type of services you need or want. Consulting, coaching, mentoring or full-on “take it over for me!” services. Do you need to start at the beginning, and develop a marketing plan? Do you need a new website? Are you just discovering Social Media but don’t know how to begin?
  • How much experience do you require? You’ll pay more for someone who has years of work under their belt, but could possibly get by with someone who has a big social media network.
  • How fast do you need the work completed? Be prepared to pay up to a 25% add-on charge for rush jobs.
  • Is this a one-time gig or will you want a long-term relationship? You should ask about discounts for on-going services.

Hourly Rates for Online Marketing Consultant Services with RRPR

Though I usually charge by the project, I use the following hourly rate schedule when putting together my marketing proposals. These fees are based on a one-time client contract with a one-time project.

  • Marketing Consulting: (including Marketing Plan development) $80/hour
  • Marketing Coaching/Mentoring: $75/hour
  • Strategy Session: $75/hour
  • Social Media Marketing: See my 4 Levels of Services here
  • Content Creation: $45/hour (I charge by the article for on-going writing)
  • Website Design help and populating: $45/hour
  • Website Management: $40/hour
  • Search Engine Optimization: $60/hour

The fees noted here are general hourly fees, but as I stated, most consultants will work on a project basis. I am certain that I can develop a project that will fit your budget. Please Contact Me for a free initial consultation.



Are You Making These Big Mistakes in Your Social Media?

Your Brand’s intention may not be to deceive consumers, but you may be unintentionally stretching the truth when it comes to disclosures when it comes to endorsements.

When someone endorses your product in return for gifts, money or free product, you are ethically bound to  be honest and disclose it.

Of course, brands want to sell more products but consumers want more transparency. It comes down to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Endorsement Guides. Here, the belief is that the average consumer wants to know the truth – whether or not endorsers work for the company or receive something in return for their testimonial. People care about authenticity. They want to know if the reviewer is an authentic advocate without bias or if they’ve been motivated by other factors.

I write a Tech & Gear column for a national magazine. Sometimes, companies send me their products to review. Sometimes I review them. Sometimes I don’t. I don’t usually “endorse” the product, but rather, I review it – sharing both pros and cons so that my readers have a better feeling for the produ
ct before they decide to buy. I’ve always tried to be clear if I cross that line, to tell my readers (and the Publisher) that if I endorse the product and have received something from the company that produces it, I will state that upfront or at the end of the article.

You can learn from the most common mistakes made by brands, so you won’t have to repeat them. Complying with the FTC’s guidelines will allow you to be viewed as a trusted advertiser and transparent brand, and serve to help keep you out of trouble.

Here are the top Three Big Mistakes when it comes to Social Content.

1. Omitting Proper Hashtags

Many brands run influencer marketing contests or campaigns to gather user-generated content (UGC) to help promote a product… and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, the brand needs to provide the influencers, or endorsers, the proper guidance for what is required to include in their posts. Someone viewing a shared social image or post should understand clearly that it’s part of a promotional contest to validate and disclose authentically.

“Entry into a contest to receive a significant prize in exchange for endorsing a product through social media constitutes a material connection that would not reasonably be expected by viewers of the endorsement,” says Mary Engle, the FTC’s Associate Director for advertising practices.

I have seen this over and over again on Facebook. Companies offering a prize for a free enforcement when the Follower doesn’t even know that they are indeed, endorsing the product!

Endorsements need to be properly labeled with a #Ad or #sponsored hashtag because a contest hashtag alone doesn’t provide the average consumer with sufficient disclosure.

2. Failing to Obtain Earned Media

No matter how you spin it, UGC and influencer marketing strategies are used as a form of advertising. Influencers’ posts about their experiences with brands and products effectively are influencing consumers to buy more than traditional advertising tactics do. So, brand marketers are actively curating social proof from all major social networks. However, curating content does not give brands the right to use it; they need to earn the media.

Marketers should avoid repurposing UGC without obtaining permission from the content creator. For example, when you come across an Instagram video that beautifully showcases your product, you must ask the user who posted the video whether you can publish it on your marketing channels. Without someone’s explicit permission, you run the risk of subjecting your brand to not only legal repercussions but also the loss of consumer trust.

Even though UGC is shared publicly, the person who originally created and published the content has full rights to control how that content is used later on. Which could mean denying a brand the right to use it.

For the most part, people are more than willing to let brands use their content if they simply ask. Asking permissions is a very easy price to pay to earn such valuable media.

3. Having Unclear Communication and Concealed Relationships

The amount of influencers that brands are recruiting to advertise and promote their products is rapidly increasing. With this growing trend comes added responsibility for brands and marketers to clearly communicate to endorsers the requirements for posting and how to disclose their brand affiliations and relationships.

For example, most bloggers share opinions about their favorite products because they want to inspire their readership to try something that will positively affect them.

On the other hand, those bloggers may be approached by brands to blog or post about specific products and services in exchange for compensation. A reader can’t easily decipher which posts are authentic and which are influenced by brand partnerships without properly disclosing how an influencer is associated with a brand.

Disclosing influencer relationships is not just something a brand should be concerned with; influencers should be equally as mindful. For influencers, working with hot brands is very exciting. However, the most successful influencers know it is more beneficial to grow relationships with a few brands that fully embody their same lifestyle and personal mission than to promote numerous brands and varying products.

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According to the FTC, under the law, an act or practice is deceptive if it misleads “a significant minority” of consumers. Some readers may understand social media advertising and influencer marketing guidelines, but many consumers don’t. Do your homework and make sure your ads and campaigns are compliant with the FTC guidelines. The risk you take by not complying isn’t worth the penalties and undesirable PR you’ll get trying to cut corners.


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