Ten Marketing Tips for your Business or Brand

Jun 6 2016

by Cheri Leavy

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If you are in Atlanta and a UGA Alumnae, join me for a Women of UGA luncheon on Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 11:30 at Terra Terroir (3974 Peachtree Road).  Cost is $30 and you can register here.  We will talk marketing and I will share some tips to help you grow your business or brand.

Here are my top ten marketing tips if you can’t make the luncheon …

  1. Have a professional pitch ready

Be able to explain what you offer in the time it would take to ride with someone on an elevator. Your elevator pitch must be clear and concise. For The Southern Coterie, our PR firm (leapfrog PR Co.) teased that it is not a 20 story building. To create your pitch, think of what words describe your brand? What are your brand’s values? How do you differentiate yourself from competitors? You need three strong sentences stating your mission.

Create a Dropbox that includes your style sheet listing your fonts, colors and taglines as well as your logo saved in a few formats (vector pdf, eps, tiff and then if you have stacked and horizontal versions and even a black and white version). Be sure everyone on your team has this information and follows it. It is great to send to anyone creating marketing collaterals for you or for advertisements. Even if it is to participate on the little league t’shirt, noone wants to see their logo misshaped or in a new font.

I believe in creating a one-sheeter or media kit that includes a mission statement, brief bios of the owners, stats or prices if relevant, testimonials, photos and examples of work. You need a way to tell your story quickly and professionally over email to media inquiries or potential clients. For Bulldawg Illustrated and guide2athens, we have printed and digital versions of our media kits since sometimes we need a leave behind piece. Have high quality professional photography on hand. Top Chef Hugh Acheson once told me one of the reasons he gets featured frequently in magazines and blogs is because when they call, he has seasonal recipes with photographs prepared and ready to send. So he is efficient with his response, which means when there is an editorial hole to fill at the last minute, they remember Hugh is an easy ask and will send good content immediately.


  1. Create a strong website

Your website is your 24/7 sales machine. Don’t ignore it. Invest in a strong design that reflects your best work. All three of our sites (www.bulldawgillustrated.com + www.guide2s.com + www.tscoterie.wpengine.com) are now on WordPress with custom features. I recommend Shopify for e-commerce as clients rave about its capabilities. Your website is your calling card. The first thing people do these days when they meet you is google you. Be sure your website makes them want to do business with you. Evaluate your google analytics so you can improve your page views and know what your visitors like most on the site. If you don’t understand the analytics and SEO, then hire someone that does to help you. Insert the hand raised emoji here.


  1. Email marketing works

Our biggest mistake is not starting to get email addresses sooner. Get your database going immediately and start sending newsletters. Invest more time in this than social media because it is YOUR network. Set up a pop up on your website that stays up for five visits asking for visitors to sign up. Let folks know when they opt-in how often to expect emails or have different offerings so they can choose frequency so they don’t feel flooded in their in-box and opt out. For Bulldawg Illustrated, we send monthly until football season and then we do one with each game. We send The Southern C on Thursdays at 6 a.m. so they start their day with us sharing entrepreneur tips and spotlights on the faces behind the brands we love. Folks that also sign up for Summit newsletters get more. Guide2athens sends monthly round ups of our blog posts about local businesses and their owners. We use Emma and they have good analytics and a blog with best practices for improving your click-thrus and open rates. For all three, we strive to use beautiful photography with well-written teasers to drive readers to click thru for more.


  1. Print advertising still works even in a digital age

Print advertising isn’t dead. Higher levels of newspaper and magazine readership also correlate closely to higher income levels and higher education levels (reported by Nielsen Scarborough). Print readers are highly engaged with the publication. The news and features in print are viewed as more important than if shared online so they give it focused attention. It made it in print! Leverage the media in which you place the ad so be sure you select a publication that features your demographic of customer so you are establishing your brand in that readership’s marketplace. Be sure your ad is memorable and for a return on investment, you must have a clear call to action. What do you want the reader to do when they see the ad? Print has a shelf life and more than one reader in a household. People put them on guestroom bedside tables and coffee tables they linger in office waiting rooms.

I recommend a mix of a print and digital buy with a media company for the best results. For guide2athens, we are selling it that way. You become a member for the year of the print edition of the book, which means inclusion in blog posts and social media support along with the two spread layout in the printed and digital guidebook and your own landing page on the website. Many publications are moving to this model of integrating their clients in all of their platforms. Leveraging the media and the brand’s loyal fans in both directions. Branded content is king in print and digital if done in an authentic way and not too advertorial. Blogs have loosened print up on this topic. Even if you try to have a clear line between church and state and editorial and advertising, it’s inevitable the lines get blurred and you want to support each other. Frankly, when I am looking for a resource for editorial inclusion, the people I am most familiar with their stories are my clients so naturally they land in the pages past their ad spaces.

Depending on the size of your business and your marketing budget, an analysis of other media opportunities like billboards, tv and radio is prudent. But avoid the pitfall of feeling like you have to do them all.

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  1. #connectcollaboratecreate

This is our mantra at The Southern Coterie. Find people and businesses that align with your brand and collaborate with them. If you are jewelry designer and want a shop to sell your line then start with having a trunk show there. If you create food videos then partner with a cookware line. In Athens, we often do trunk shows for local artists in shops with neighboring chefs creating the food and everyone networks and shows off their talents. If you have created a cocktail mixer then partner with a spirit brand and a food blogger to make a signature cocktail for an event at an interior designer’s shop – sips and shop. Strength in numbers!   Do giveaways with brands that have similar customers to yours. Offer your services for free the first time to forge a relationship. Feature each other on your blogs and social media. One of my clients, The Vine, has created an advisory board of business people they respect. It has be an invaluable resource for their growth.

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{Collaboration with Schermer Pecans + Sea Island Forge – Photo: Lilly Jo Photography}

I will dedicate five of the ten tips to social media because it is a necessity in marketing your brand or business in 2016 and here is why …

BY THE NUMBERS provided by Waiting on Martha


  1. Social media is a conversation with your customers

A conversation means it should be a two-sided exchange. Validate others ideas. Respond to all comments on posts promptly. Follow your clients and comment on their posts. Share others photos and posts but always tag and give credit. This will grow your reach organically and increase brand loyalty, which converts to sales.


  1. Participate in the social media where your customers are

Don’t join every social media and fragment your time and efforts. Do the research and choose the platforms where your customers spend the most time and do a jam up job there. If customers visit your feed and you haven’t posted in six weeks or even six days, then they won’t return so if you join a platform then you must be consistent and post regularly.


  1. Speak the correct language on each platform

Each platform requires a different language and serves a different purpose so participate wisely.

Facebook for all three of my companies is the highest referral to links to our website’s posts. For us, the goal is get them on our site reading our content and engaging with our sponsors. Facebook might be my least favorite but it is the most effective for driving traffic to our site and therefore a necessity. These days the way the algorithm works, you can’t post too much. And the demographic skews older but my UGA interns still use it even if they prefer snapchat. Facebook has so many bells and whistles so be sure to utilize their facebook ads for boosting posts, increasing conversions on your website, raising attendance to your events and they can zero in laser focused to your demographic you desire. Link your newsletter sign up on your page, utilize their analytics to understand your followers better and if you have a spotify shop then set up their free shop app.

Twitter is fabulous for headlines about current events for our media company and I mean current as sometimes you hear it on twitter before it can make the 24-hour tv news! It’s a great quick way to connect with your followers. We share links and it is a good driver to our sites too since folks are on their mobiles and happy to click a bit.ly link over for a read. We get conversations going by sharing photos or statements about local happenings (guide2athens) or sports updates (Bulldawg Illustrated) and it’s great during the Summit to share quotes from presenters or photos of sponsors and their pretty set ups (The Southern Coterie).

Instagram is the highlight reel! It’s my personal favorite but I am a visual person and love pretty photography. Quality photography is imperative. My husband Vance will send me a photo for instagram and I will politely tell him that it is going to be great on twitter. People are likely following national magazines and brands so to share a photo of poor quality in their feed will stand out and get an unfollow. We do two posts a day (a.m. and p.m. so you start and end your day with us) on all three of our accounts and we just started using Planoly to organize our feeds. This lets us work as a team to decide what posts look good in what order – you should always evaluate your feed in its quilt of nine photos and be sure it is consistent and flows with some up close detail shots and some blue sky further out shots and colors mixing well. Be sure to have enough negative space throughout the feed.

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Snapchat is the behind the scenes and more candid and less edited. I advised a shop recently to show boxes getting unpacked with new merchandise, styling a display, creating an outfit of the day for an instagram pic #OOTD. Let them get to know the staff and brands in a natural way but keep it professional or it is a liability not an asset.

Pinterest is so great for aspirational sharing and folks looking for something. It’s a great place to share entertaining ideas, recipes, DIY, fashion and interiors.  Keyword rich descriptions help with search. Organize your boards well and you have the option to add a category to your board, which will help your pins receive more exposure on pinterest. Pinterest awards you more exposure the more you pin but don’t pin all at once and flood the feed – schedule posts. Create and contribute to guest boards for more exposure. Apply for rich pins. Vertical images and photos with multiple dominant colors (red and orange outperform blue) get re-pinned the most. I create blog boards for my topics and pin all my posts there so I have a Georgia Girls board with all my Q&As with Women of UGA there and sometimes I promote the board so they can browse the whole line up of interesting UGA graduates. I do boards on pinterest for The Southern ( C)ity Guides and have Coterie members in the towns contribute to them and share their favorite spots in the cities.  I have been negligent on this platform and after Mandy Rye’s session at the Summit, I am renewing my efforts.  We have signed up for Tailwind, a scheduling app for pinterest that gives good analytics so you know what is working.

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Periscope is a twitter platform. Much like twitter, it is very current. People join in live while you are showing them something. We have used it to let people have access to something they are not attending. For instance sometimes we periscope the halftime show at a Georgia game or a coach speaking at an alumni gathering. We have periscoped a food truck festival in Athens for guide2 and asked cooks and attendees to share about the offerings. For the Summit, Mandy Rye of Waiting on Martha periscoped her session and we took questions via twitter and periscope and our audience for that became so much bigger than the ballroom where she presented.


{Mandy Rye of Waiting on Martha presenting at Summit – Photo: Kathryn McCrary}

  1. Grow your audience organically

Don’t worry about the numbers and definitely don’t buy followers. It will be obvious, as your engagement won’t match up and people won’t trust you. And it’s the comments and likes that are more likely to equate to conversion to a purchase. You want your followers to truly be interested in you and what you offer. Quality followers over quantity.


  1. Use one social media to promote the other

Be sure to share what is going on over at your other social media. Use them to drive traffic to each other. Share your pinterest board as a link on facebook. Tweet that you are periscoping live. Share a photo on instagram and say for the behind the scenes of this outfit, watch me style it on snapchat.


  1. Carefully use your social media like an advertisement

For Bulldawg Illustrated, we do a lot of videos interviewing the players on our youtube channel and we have sportscasters and writers join us for podcasts on our Soundcloud channel. We share links to all of this on social just like we share links to our blog posts. Our advertisers are floating run of site and in our digital issues and they are a priority. Our intent is to have great content and great sponsors that we present and they want to support. On The Southern C, we promote our sponsors and attendees by sharing their news and successes. Guide2athens is a curated collection of Athen’s best businesses and we spotlight them on our feeds. We try our best to do it all in an entertaining way and not too advertorial but let’s face it, we aren’t spending all this time on social media purely for the fun of it. The point is to engage potential customers and convert them to sales. I can’t tell you how many times folks have said to me I drooled over the guide2athens picture of Mama’s Boy big pimento cheese biscuit and drove over and ate there that day. SCORE!

{Home Page Photo of Emily Ley Brainstorm Books for Summit – Photo: Lilly Jo Photography}





Cheri Leavy View More Blog Posts from this Author

Cheri Leavy is a connector, cheerleader and marketing consultant for fellow entrepreneurs.
Building rapport and strengthening a sense of community:
• A community of female entrepreneurs through the The Southern Coterie and The Southern C Summit
• The faces and places of Athens that make our city so vibrant through guide2athens
• A community of devoted football fans through Bulldawg Illustrated
- Contributing editor to Coastal Illustrated, Executive Board Member of the UGA Alumni Association

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8 responses on “Ten Marketing Tips for your Business or Brand

  1. Molly Read Woo

    What a great presentation at the Women of UGA luncheon today! Thank you, Cheri Leavy, for the inspiring and practical suggestions for marketing and outreach. Looking forward to putting these ideas to work at Planet Atlanta!

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