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Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

By Jeff Pett, Fleetwood Group

We are beginning to do the last-minute, mad-dash preparations for this year’s NSSEA School Equipment Show in Phoenix.  The planning for this event actually began for us the month after last year’s show.  We met with our whole sales team and talked through the 2009 show in terms of what we thought went well, what products showed well, and what we thought we should do differently the following year.

At that time we decided to commit to the same amount of floor space as we have for the past several years, and made some early decisions as to what we might want to show again in 2010 and what kinds of new products we might want to highlight.  Then we set that whole planning process aside for a few months.

In midsummer, we pulled out those early plans, dusted them off and started laying out our prospective booth and placing furniture in it.  In early September, I thought we were solid with the furniture we would show.  Then, when our sales team met later in September, we made some changes to show some new and different products.  The plan actually changed quite a bit!

The result is that this year, in addition to showing some old standby products that will have a “freshened” look, we will be showing several products we have never shown before.  We will even show a product category that we have been building for a few schools that people would not normally associate with Fleetwood Group furniture.

And that is part of the fun of this show!  Since over 30 percent of what we build each year falls into the category of “specials”, we are always creating ways to meet unique needs of our customers, so we always have something new to show.  All the manufacturers will be doing the same kinds of things, trying to show what they are capable of, and what kinds of creative solutions they have brought to market or are about to.  And, of course, relationships are renewed with old industry friends, and new ones are forged… a dynamic that is more important in this business than in any other I have been a part of.

Rumor has it that a number of manufacturers are sitting out the show this year, and many dealers are attending with fewer of their team members.  We are hopeful that people will rally around this show and make it a worthwhile event for all.  The event needs a certain critical mass to be viable, and even in tough times an event like this one is a kind of crossroads where commerce is centered, and being there is important in and of itself.  Like so many other things in life, this show is probably a “use it or lose it” event.  Let’s support it!

See you in Phoenix!

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An article in BusinessWeek entitled “Storytelling Tips from Salesforce’s Marc Benioff” highlights seven tips from salesforce.com’s co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff that can help you shape and articulate your vision for your brand, through the use of storytelling.

Benioff’s seven tips for articulating your vision for your brand include:

1) Committing to transparent communication.

2) Making friends with reporters and bloggers.

3) Telling classic stories.

4) Making your own metaphors.

5) Keeping everyone aligned.

6) Encouraging presentation skill development and

7) Displaying confidence.

The article also mentions that Benioff credits his company’s success to his use of storytelling and it also mentions his new book, Behind the Cloud that describes how salesforce.com went from being a thought to a being a $1 billion company in less than a decade.

Can storytelling help your business? For more information about the article “Storytelling Tips from Salesforce’s Marc Benioff,” visit: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/nov2009/sb2009112_279472.htm and let NSSEA know your thoughts!

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By Emily Raij, Maupin House

Online marketing today is all about creating communities. The following are some tools educational publishers and suppliers can take advantage of to reach out to customers in new, more relevant ways.

Virtual sampler. This virtual version has the same pagination and look of a print product. Most samplers let readers turn pages, click on links, and use special features like bookmarks and searches. Publishers save on production and mailing costs associated with printed review copies and can also use online sampling to draw traffic to their website and get valuable statistics on their readership. Virtual samplers are also a great way to offer up an online catalog for any type of company with links taking customers to the company e-commerce site. Sampling online also allows publishers to test a product before committing to a print version and even sell “chunks” of content that customers can personalize and select, rather than an entire book. Impelsys and Nxtbook Media are two companies that offer e-publishing solutions.

Book Widgets. A widget is a portable chunk of code that can be placed in different places like blogs, social-networking sites, and websites. Widgets can contain page samples, links, and other content that can even be updated automatically. These make nice sales tools because they provide back-links to a publisher’s website, which enhances traffic (that’s an example of SEO, or search engine optimization).

Book Previews. Similar to virtual samplers, these previews also allow publishers to limit the content available for viewing. Maybe readers can only read a certain percentage of the pages of a book or certain parts like the table of contents, introduction, and index. Amazon’s Search Inside is an example of a preview program that has had a very positive impact on book sales.

Blogs. Blogs are nothing new, but they do offer more possibilities than publishers might know about. Review blogs let publishers get (hopefully positive) feedback that can be used on social-networking sites to help spread the word about a book. Author blogs can be used to attract a following for the author before the book even comes out. These blogs let authors showcase their expertise, announce signings, share videos and free content, and interact with readers who might otherwise be inaccessible. You should definitely have a company blog, too, where you make announcements, run contests, and offer tips and tools to readers that aren’t just related to your product sales.

Author Social Network Profiles. Encourage your authors to post their profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, or more niche sites for their area of expertise. Here, authors can start groups or pages and create communities of people interested in their topic. Most sites offer tools for taking polls, sharing event calendars, hosting contests, creating subgroups, and extending the interactive relationship with readers. Having public profiles online lets readers find authors and their books more easily through simple searching.

Author Videos. From promotional book trailers to longer how-tos and demonstrations, author videos can really bring in the readers. As we all know, free video-hosting sites like YouTube (or niche video sites like TeacherTube for educational videos) get lots of traffic and can bring the same benefit to publisher websites. Through videos, authors can share readings, presentations at conferences, or quick tips with readers.

E-newsletters and E-mail Campaigns. If you haven’t done so already, take advantage of your website by promoting an opt-in e-newsletter. The email addresses you collect are invaluable, and e-newsletters are great tools for promoting new releases, offering information, providing subscriber-only discounts, and sharing other benefit-heavy content with customers new and old. Just be sure to make your newsletter information-driven and not just a sales tool. Readers should get more out of your newsletter than just a push to buy your products. Programs like Constant Contact provide easy design templates and maintenance of e-mail lists.

 Social Reading Lists. Personal online booklists maintained by readers usually show books they’ve read, books they intend to read, and books they own. Readers can share lists with each other, provide rankings, and discuss favorites, all while maintaining an online bookshelf of their reading. Social-networking sites like Facebook offer applications to post reading lists to user profiles. Popular reading list sites include Shelfari, LibraryThing, and GoodReads.

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