Firework alternatives

Firework Alternatives

To many people, fireworks are a staple of the summer, especially around the Fourth of July. But it’s not always the best option for everyone. Some of us have children with sensitive ears who have no fun during firework shows, or pets that get way too anxious from the explosions. Some people live in areas with super dry, windy climates (*cough* Utah *cough*) and probably shouldn’t be setting off fireworks in their neighborhoods. Despite this, no one wants to feel left out. Luckily, there are many alternatives out there that may not have the same pop but are still a lot of fun.

 

Party poppers

If you’ve never done any party poppers, well, where have you been? These are little plastic or paper containers that are filled with confetti. When you give the string attached to them a good tug, they pop open and the confetti comes flying out. They are fun, cheap, just the right amount of messy, and make noise without it being too much on little ears (though it may make your dog go running out of the room if they’re jumpy, so maybe do them outside if possible).

 

Glow-in-the-dark bubbles

Who doesn’t love bubbles? What about bubbles that look like something that came right out of a neon sign? If you mix these bubbles and spend the evening blowing them up and chasing them around with a blacklight flashlight, you are bound to forget all about fireworks.

 

You can check out a recipe to make your own glow-in-the-dark bubbles here. It’s super simple and looks very cool.

 

Glow-sticks

This may seem like an overly simple alternative, but you can have all kinds of creative fun with glow-sticks. After all, all kids love having glow-stick necklaces and bracelets. You can get yourself a horseshoe pole, bend the sticks into rings and play glow ring toss. Or you can put the glow-sticks into water bottles, paint a ball with some glow-in-the-dark paint and play glow bowling.

 

This site has all kinds of fun ideas of things to do with glow-sticks other than making the coolest jewelry around.

 

Elephant toothpaste

This one is especially cool if you have older kids who can help you put it together. Elephant toothpaste is a chemical reaction that makes what appears to be an ever-growing foam. If you mix it up with some food coloring, you’ve got yourself a fluffy color show!

 

There is a recipe for it here.

 

Diet Coke and Mentos

A classic and for good reason. All you need is a bottle of cola (diet is suggested so that things are less sticky) and a pack of Mentos. Just drop a couple of the Mentos into the cola and watch as a geyser of sugary, teeth-rotting goodness erupts from the bottles. If you want, you can experiment and create a show that could put the Bellagio fountains to shame.

 

Chalk fight

Water balloon fights can be a lot of fun, but they lack a certain color. Specifically, all colors, they just are not colorful enough. Which is why we think that you should check out this recipe for chalk bombs. With these you can have all kinds of messy fun everyone can enjoy (and will leave any other water balloon fight in the dust).

 

As you can tell, these are all things that you are going to want to do outside, where you can hose things (and, potentially, your children) down. This list, along with some of the others linked below, should give you some good ideas to make sure that your family has just as much fun, without the need for fireworks.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.sweetyhigh.com/read/fourth-of-july-firework-alternatives-062716

https://www.wired.com/story/diy-fireworks-alternatives/

https://keeparkansasbeautiful.com/news/14-safe-alternatives-to-fireworks/

https://www.parenting.com/holidays/10-fun-alternatives-to-fireworks/#:~:text=Plop%2C%20Splat%2C%20Kaboom!,-Price%3A%2410.00&text=Who%20says%20explosions%20only%20belong,a%20tarp%20or%20safe%20surface.


Social media

So, you’ve decided to run your own social media page

Well, first of all, let me just say, good job. In this incredibly digital day and age, it’s incredibly clear how important social media is for a business, especially a small business. Having a good, active social media page allows you to interact with your customers, answer their questions, and let them know about news regarding your business. We, here at Avant8, want to make sure you are getting the most out of your business’s social media accounts. So, here are some tips on how to make your social media posts the best they can be.

 

Know who you’re talking to

Remember when you were learning how to write a persuasive essay in school? Most of that stuff they taught you can probably just forget. The five-paragraph essay is never really used in the real world, and paragraphs can be as long or as short as you want. But the one thing they taught you that is gold, is that you should know your audience. The measure of a good social media account depends so much on how well it reaches its followers. But not every account has the same kinds of people following it.

 

So, when starting on your social media page think about your customers/clients. Who are they? What do they like (besides what you have to offer)? How old are they? These are all questions you should be able to answer seeing as they are people that you deal with every day. If your customer base mainly consists of people 60+, don’t use youthful slang. They’re not going to know what you’re talking about without having to go onto Urban Dictionary. Don’t make anyone’s grandma go onto Urban Dictionary, please. If you mainly deal with parents, don’t make posts talking about how great it is to be a nonparental person. Make a post that has tips about parenting or about how parenting can be so stressful/rewarding. Just as you tailor your business to your customers, you should be tailoring your social media to them as well.

 

Fun for you, fun for your followers

This may seem like it goes without saying, but it always bears repeating, people like fun and interesting posts. Informational posts are great! They’re even better when they make people laugh or smile. The best way to get people to engage with your posts is to be engaging. Make posts that create conversation. Make your posts relevant (I don’t necessarily mean political or anything unless you want to. Mainly, we mean make posts geared toward Halloween in October. That sort of thing). Have interesting graphics or videos with your posts. Have some sort of call-to-action within your caption for example: “Check it out on our site!” “The link is in the bio!” “Tell us about it in the comments!” Basically, do whatever you can to encourage people to interact with your post.

 

If you’re struggling to figure out where to start, take some time to study accounts that you really like that are similar to your own. Make a note about what you like about them. You should also note what posts have the most likes and comments. Odds are there are some uniting factors between these posts. Try to figure out what those are something you can do. Basically, I’m just giving you permission here to spend hours on social media.

 

#hashtagsforlife

I know they can sometimes feel a little obnoxious, but they get the job done. Hashtags are a great way to get your posts out there. They are so helpful in gaining new followers and engagement. When you put relevant tags on your posts, they reach more people who are either wandering down that rabbit hole of randomly scrolling through social media or are genuinely looking for a business like yours.

 

The way that we like to use our hashtags, here at Avant8, is to essentially “put them below the fold.” After writing the captions we add a few periods in a vertical line. At the end of that line, we start the hashtags. That way the tags are more likely to appear below a “read more” drop-down, instead of taking up room next to the caption. When you leave the tags by the caption, the caption tends to drown in them, and it distracts from the message you’re trying to send to your followers. That just makes you look spammy. No one wants to look spammy.

 

Data = helpful

When you start running your social pages, there is going to be an experimental phase. You are going to have to test the waters a little to see what works with your clientele and what doesn’t. The best way to know how well these posts do is not just to look at the number of likes. You should be looking at the analytics. This usually consists of the number of likes, number of comments, number of shares, number of saves, number of clicks, and number of profile visits. This way you know what kind of engagement you are getting on your posts. When you look at these, you can get an idea of what is working for you and what isn’t.

 

Most social media sites offer basic analytic information for free for business profiles. Some also have paid versions that give you more information and even let you “boost” your post, making it visible to more people. There are also programs like Hootsuite, which allows you to schedule posts (making your life much easier). It offers analytics on the posts that you schedule through their service.

 

Social media can be such a powerful tool for your business, so it is always good to know how to use it properly. These tips will hopefully give you a good idea of where to start. If you’re thinking that this all sounds way too complicated for your taste and would rather hand it off to someone else, then you’re in luck. Right now, you are on a website belonging to experts in all things social media and the digital beyond, Avant8. We love doing stuff like this.


PPC trends

PPC trends to try

If you’re anything like me, when you first heard “PPC” you were in a college course named “Digital Journalism.” Now that I look back on it, perhaps I should have paid a bit more attention in the course (maybe I wouldn't have had to do so much research for this particular blog post). Nevertheless, we continue. PPC or Pay-Per-Click is an internet marketing strategy that uses ads to get folks interested in their websites. If one of the ads is clicked, the advertiser is charged. Basically, you’re paying for visits to your site. This is not a particularly organic way of earning visits, but it gets the job done.

 

With this being said, what trends are up and coming in the world of marketing in this bizarre year of 2020? Here are a few that you may want to try out.

 

Automation: PPC automation uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning. Automation helps you manage all the networks and platforms available so that you can free up your time to work on top-priority marketing aspects. Some of automation’s benefits are:

  • Bid management
  • Ad and creative copy
  • Reporting

 

Video Advertising: Written content is great, but, bringing in video content is a step that you should not skip. Video advertising on websites engages users to stay on your site longer. Videos are great for communicating your company's voice to your audience. Video is nothing new but is a great way to engage new audiences. For example, look at TikTok (yes this is a social media platform but it’s relevant) the videos that you’re able to upload are 15-60 seconds long and users spend hours browsing through. Think of what using a 6-second bumper ad on YouTube could do for your company.

 

Amazon Paid Ads: Generally, when you think of PPC you think of Google or Facebook Ads but, Amazon ads may be a better choice. We all know of how powerful and popular Amazon has become. These ads are used on the Amazon site as well as off. Although Facebook and Google have a large audience, Amazon users have buyer intent. This way when someone sees your ad on Amazon, they are more likely to click and therefore you get more bang for your buck.

 

Responsive Search Ads: These ads are quite popular because they adapt to whatever device the user is on. It uses AI to find the most popular combination for that particular for a headline to reel in that particular user. This matches their search term content to your ad and therefore could assist the PPC’s performance.

 

These PPC trends are just the beginning of what PPC has to offer your company in 2020 and beyond. Of course, this blog post was written by a PPC noob but, there are plenty of PPC experts out there to help you (like the ones who work at Avant8). Marketing is always changing so being up to date on the latest trends and tips/tricks should be a top priority to help get your business on top.


Color contrast

Design looks better in full color

Imagine that you designed a website from the ground up and then that work was completely lost to a percentage of viewers. Imagine that, worst of all: you didn’t even know it was happening. Right now, without you even knowing it, your viewers can be seeing a different website than you think. Hard work can get lost between the screen and your viewer’s eyes if you haven’t used a color palette with sufficient contrasting. If like me, you may or may not have found a color palette or two on Pinterest, read on.

 

Accessibility

Colorblind viewers may be seeing a whole different color palette than what you’ve selected. While most people have three sets of cones and rods in their eyes, allowing them to perceive the range of visible colors, colorblind viewers’ eyes may have only two sets of cones and rods. This makes it so there is less perceivable contrast between colors like green and red. With over 7% of the population experiencing some kind of colorblindness, that’s a lot of viewers to lose to what is essentially an error in translation.

 

“Well, they’re used to it,” you may think about those colorblind viewers. But the truth is that most of us aren’t walking around thinking about what we’re not seeing. Check out this colorblindness generator and see how dramatic certain differences can be. If your CTA color and background color aren’t separated by at least 2.5x color saturation, 8% of viewers may not be getting the experience you designed and/or engineered. That may not seem like a lot, but it could add up. Plus, why take the risk? That 8% could include serval important clients that would love to give you money. If only they could read your website...

 

If you’ve done government design work, it’s possible that you’re more familiar with these standards. In theory, all government websites are required to meet sufficient standards for contrast, but they often don’t.

 

The Work

Familiarize yourself with WCAG Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines have three conformance levels from A-AAA. Then, be willing to adjust your color palettes! We know! We feel it too: the resistance to change a good design. But, remember if it really is a good design, it will stand up to scrutiny and will be usable by the largest number of people! We love this post from @thefuturishere on ways to improve color palette design. To learn more about tools and plug-ins that help manage ADA compliant design, check out this list and this one.

 

Making sure your website is accessible and attractive at the same time is always in your best interest. But don’t worry because you are not alone in trying to get it right. There are a lot of resources out there to help you find the right level of contrast for your site. Of course, if you don’t want to spend your time figuring it out, reach out to our design experts here at Avant8. We’re well versed in making sure websites are accessible.


Facebook ads

Are Facebook ads even worth it?

Ah, Facebook ads. Those things that show up along the sidebar while you're falling deep down a rabbit hole of loose acquaintances' photos at 1 AM because you can't sleep. If you are a small business owner, you have probably wondered whether you should do some of those. There is also a chance you decided it wasn't worth it. If that's you, you should seriously reconsider because Facebook advertising works. Really well.

 

One of the main reasons that Facebook ads work is that they have massive reach. Facebook has about 1.5 billion active users. Yes, billion. With a "b." Considering that there are about 7 billion people on the planet, that's pretty impressive. So, with a Facebook ad, you know that at least one person is going to see your ad. It's more likely to be a lot more than just one person, though. That also means that you are pretty much guaranteed to find your target demographic on there. Facebook has groups for everyone: knitting enthusiasts, Dungeons and Dragons players, deep-sea fishers, Botox fanatics. Whatever floats your boat, you can probably find something about it on Facebook. Which means whatever floats your business is on there too.

 

Another reason is that Facebook has some pretty good algorithms. It's an ongoing debate about whether or not Facebook knows too much about its users. Does it know too much? Probably, but here's your chance to use our digital overlords' all-seeing eyes to your advantage. After all, having a wide audience is excellent, but having a specific audience that is more likely to buy your service/product is even better. When posting your ad, you can get really specific about who you want to see your ad. For example, when making an ad for protein powder, you can target it to males, ages 20-30 who "like" lifting and Vasa Gym. Of course, if you know that your product attracts a not-so-stereotypical demographic, you can specify whatever applies.

 

The fact that the ads are visual helps a lot too. Who doesn't like things that look pretty? Visual appeal and beautiful aesthetics are going to stick pretty hard with people when they see them. Even if they see them while scrolling through photos of their friend's unfortunately ugly baby (or in that case, would the comparison make it stand out?). Pretty ads, fun ads, ads that make people think are all going to catch the eye and stick with them. This is true of all visual media platforms, but now people are going to see it while wishing their sister's boyfriend's co-worker a happy birthday.

 

If the information above hasn't convinced you, this might; Facebook ads are cheap, dirt cheap. Like, $0.24 per click cheap. Which, yes, does add of if you are getting a lot of clicks. But in theory, if you are getting a lot of clicks, you are getting a lot of business. So, that's not too bad. The prices do vary depending on what you are advertising and what format of ad you are using. But the averages never get higher than $3.77, which is much cheaper than a TV ad (and will probably work better in these days of streaming services).

 

There is one crucial thing we need to address is the annoyance factor. We have all been annoyed by Facebook ads at one point or another. When ads annoy you, do you click on them? Probably not. If you're like me, you probably store that brand away in a file in your head marked "Don't give these guys money" and spend the rest of your life actively avoiding them. If the ads bug you enough, you may even mark them as spam, or say they aren't relevant to you or do whatever it is that you need to do to make the ads go away.

 

You are going to want to keep from making people block your ads or avoid your company like the plague. The best way to go about that: make a list. I know, a content writer advising you to write something, what else is new? But I mean it. Try making a list of the ads that annoyed you and why they annoyed you. They were poorly made; they had nothing to do with you; they made wild claims that are impossible. Now, do the opposite. Having that all laid out in front of you can be so helpful when you start making your ads.

 

Another thing to pay attention to when making your Facebook ad is to what you like about ads that you, well, like. What is it about them that you find appealing? Is it the images they use? Is it the content on the ad? What about them makes you want to click on their ad to buy or learn more about them? If you can pinpoint what that "it factor" is for you, you can then translate it into your ad. But remember your demographic. What may work on a woman in her 30s may not work on a man in his 60s. You may have to do some adjusting to fit your company's overall vibe.

 

The short answer to our big question is, yes. They are not expensive; they reach a lot of people, especially your target demographic, and, if you do it right, people won't find your ads too annoying. They could help bring in a lot of new business and remind old business that you're still there for them. If you have decided against Facebook ads in the past, it may be time to look into them again.

 

If you're worried about your ads not looking or doing great, check out this article from Forbes that talks about the dos and don'ts of Facebook ads. If you would rather not have to worry about making the ad at all, shoot us a message here at Avant8. We're pretty good at this stuff.


Speaking up at work

Speaking Up at Work

People think being good at public speaking is about not being nervous in front of crowds. As someone whose work reviews tend to use phrases like “team player,” I’m here to tell you that’s a dirty lie. I’ve led meetings, taught seminars, performed theater, managed workshops, done standup comedy, emceed, and speaking up during the morning meeting still makes me nervous sometimes. Thousands of years of evolution is invested in making sure that our hearts pound like crazy when we speak to more than a handful of people. It’s literally a survival instinct and those are not designed to be easily overcome.

 

However, the instinct to listen quietly in the corner can be dangerous professionally! Verbally oriented learners (people who develop ideas and retain information best by verbalizing them) are often perceived as having more leadership potential, being more engaged, and to be identified as contributors. An inconvenient truth indeed, but one worth remembering! If you tend to “keep your head down” and could stand to speak up more often at work, here are some simple perspective shifts you can make to take some of the sting out of speaking up.

 

Process over Product!

Part of the reason people don’t speak up during the learning/getting up to speed phase is because they fear they don’t understand it yet and will say something “wrong.” But don’t forget that discussion is a part of learning a new concept. People who “say the wrong things” because they are engaging with unfamiliar ideas can pick up new concepts faster than people who are too intimidated to make public mistakes. Try to think of the discussion phase as an integral part of the process, like the rough draft or brainstorming part of the process. Just finding the words to talk about the project with your team can help you clarify your contribution before even beginning.

 

Identify YOUR contribution

When you say something that’s incorrect (also known as the “learning process”) you don’t just benefit yourself and contribute to some kind of myth that you know everything. You also empower your team! As the old saying goes, if you have a question about something, it’s very likely that someone else in the group does also. I can’t tell you how many times a freshman’s “stupid question” led to the breakthrough in the discussion that helped a half a dozen other people really grasp a new concept. Thinking about yourself not just as an individual, but a member of a team can help make it easier to speak up and take risks in your work.

 

Break up the crowd

I’m assuming the old “picture them in their underwear” adage is some kind of attempt at this philosophy, but a significantly less invasive way to make speaking to a crowd easier is to help your mind begin to break the crowd up into individuals. If you can think of “speaking up in a meeting” as a smaller task like “asking Ross a question” or “following up on a previous conversation with Kara,” that makes that moment of tension a little more bearable.

 

If you feel particularly vulnerable speaking up to a certain group, try to imagine a mentor you are speaking to a mentor who has supported you in the past. Pretend that you’re talking with just that one individual who understands that you’re thinking aloud and wants to see you succeed.

 

Talk About It

If lending your voice to the group is your goal, speak it! Tell a manager that it’s something you’d like to improve. They can help hold you accountable and reinforce your inevitable success! Write it down. Make a goal to contribute once to the next meeting you’re in, then twice. Sometimes, writing things down ahead of time can help clear your mind so you can bring your A-game to the table. If there’s a topic you’re particularly nervous to address, try doing some freewriting about it. No judgment and you don’t even have to keep it after the fact. It’s just a tool to get your thoughts percolating.

 

Natural Leaders

Groups can tell when a leader is tense towards them, even if that tension comes from the very natural pressure that comes up when speaking in front of a crowd of peers. Try to remember that this group wants you to succeed. You all want to succeed together! Practice in low stakes situations and then slowly start amping up how often and for how long you speak to a group. It’s not that a leader feels confident in everything they say. Leaders just know that other goals are more important than potentially looking foolish.

 

Tell us in the comments about a time you said something silly in a meeting!


ACF

What is ACF and why does it work?

Digital marketing is filled with acronyms that can be more than a little intimidating to those of us who are unfamiliar with them. Talking with someone who works in digital marketing can feel like a conversation in a different language. You’ll hear things like, “The best way to go about optimizing your SEO is through things like PPC and ACF. Of course, updating Alt Texts help because then you’ll be ADA compliant.” Then you’ll just nod along and smile and hope they don’t notice that you have no idea what they are talking about.

 

If you read that example and knew exactly what it said, then congrats! You should probably check out one of our other blogs instead (also, I’m impressed). This big world of web page building is still relatively new, so don’t feel bad if you are still learning about it.

 

And in case you were wondering, yes, I do fall into the group of not knowing what ACF is (at least until the writing of this blog). I’m a content writer. Someone says, “Write,” and I say, “How many words?” I’ve never really had to worry about what exactly goes into websites that isn’t written out on a word doc. But learning new things is fun, so let’s do it together.

 

ACF stands for Advanced Custom Fields. It is a plugin that you can install on your WordPress site. It essentially allows you to organize your site better. It makes it so you can add categories to posts and pages on your site. This blog post gives an example of a dog rescue center. ACF allows the volunteers to specify what gender and breed the dog is when making a post about them on the site, as well as adding their name and a description. This form of indexing makes it easier for those looking for a dog to rescue to find one that will work best with their lifestyle.

 

ACF allows your site to look cleaner and work in a way that is much more efficient. It allows for more control over your content and as a result, making your site easier for your employees to use and your clients to browse. The easier a site is to use, the more likely it is to draw people in. After all, how much does it suck to try and browse someone’s site, find it confusing, and then just give up? ACF could help you avoid that.

 

That link to that blog above (and I’m just going to throw it here again, because why not) goes into a lot of detail about how exactly ACF works, the best way to go about using it, and all other kinds of detailed information. If you’re like me and don’t know a ton about web development, it’ll probably go over your head. But if you are a web developer or understand it well, then check it out. ACF is not a tool to just toss aside. If your site needs to handle complex data tables at once and still be accessible to a layman, ACF could potentially make or break your site.

 

Of course, if you want your site to be lovely, easy to use, and pretty, but don’t want to build it yourself, then may I recommend the services of Avant8? This is what we do (don’t worry, I won’t be building the site, I’ll just be writing your content).


Customer service

Customer Service 101: Que the “let me speak to your manager”

We have all been the customer, many of us have likely dealt with customers at one time or another but, one thing is for certain: they are the reason a lot of people have jobs! Every position that I have ever had has been customer service related, so, you could call me somewhat of an expert. Whether you work in clothing retail (my forte) or in the food service industry, knowing how to deal with a difficult customer is of high importance. So, how do we communicate with those tough “let me speak to your manager” folks? Here are a few tips.

 

First, remain calm. Nothing is worse than getting in a “who’s right” battle with a customer. While the customer is explaining why they are upset/need more information take a few breaths to level yourself. While you’re remaining/calming yourself it’s important to use reflective listening. Reflective listening is a tactic that shows the customer that you actually are listening rather than just trying to appease them. Instead of responding with a “I totally understand…” try responding to their frustration with “So what I am hearing is…” and reflect what they have said to you. This way your customer is feeling heard and valued.

 

Thank your customer for bringing this issue to attention. Just simply thanking the customer shows that you’re willing to assist them and may even calm their anger. If you’re working IT, throughout a phone conversation, keep thanking them by saying “thank you for bearing with me as I troubleshoot this problem.” This shows that you’re actively working on the problem as well. Saying “thank you for helping our team become better” is a great way to end a negative call/conversation.

 

But, before ending a conversation, explain the steps you’ll be taking to solve the problem. This creates a timeline for customers to follow so they know you’re being proactive. List out each step you’ll take to solve the problem and what customers should expect to see from each step. If needed, set up a follow-up. Hopefully, in most cases, there will be no need to follow-up. But, if it’s needed, setting up a time to follow-up on the problem being solved shows your customer that you want to make sure all is right.

 

Be sincere. Remaining calm with an upset customer is very important but, so is being sincere. Customers can tell when you’re speaking with an angry or patronizing tone. Be respectful because no one likes being undermined in a conversation. Yes, as an employee at your workplace it’s highly likely that you know a bit more about your work than a customer does. But this does not mean that you have the right to be rude. With that being said, if a customer is being disrespectful to you or if you feel threatened in any way, ending the call or stepping away to get a manager or another employee involved is okay. You have a right to feel safe in your workplace. Being aware of your verbal and non-verbal cues is an important skill to have. When listening to a customer try to make eye contact so they know you're listening. Try not to interrupt and make sure your voice is at a level tone. Also, be aware of facial expressions, I used to accidentally roll my eyes when people would raise their voices at me. This was wrong, 100%, but it was my reaction to feeling uncomfortable (don’t worry this habit has been stopped). Some people may have negative facial expressions and not even know it! Try to be aware of what you may be showing the customer.

 

Letting go of fear is another important aspect of problem solving. More often than not we fear a negative outcome with a customer. Your job is not to produce an instantaneous solution. Fear doesn’t help our problem-solving skills and tends to make us want to control things. We may fear that we may lose our relationship with the customer because we can’t fix the problem in front of us. There are certain problems that can’t be fixed because of policy. The best we can do is listen, understand, and explain what steps to take moving forward.

 

Use your support system. That’s right call in the manager! When you’ve done all, you can to ease your customer’s problems and they are still unsatisfied, using your support system is great! With some difficult customers they will demand to speak to a manager in the first place, if that is so, go get them and save the trouble of escalating the situation. Most managers are trained to deal with difficult customers and have likely given off more authority. Never be afraid to ask for help.

 

Also, never take anything personally. This is something that I had to learn over and over again until my skin was thick as nails. If a customer is upset, don’t take it personally. Their anger has nothing to do with you or your work. They had a certain expectation of an outcome and didn’t receive it. If the issue actually was your mistake taking responsibility is important but, move on after correcting it. There is no need to get upset if your customer is angry because their coupon expired 3 months ago. That’s not your fault.

 

Go on. After all is said and done, you have to carry on. Unfortunately, conflict is a part of the service industry. There will always be people who be a bit harder to work with than others. That doesn’t mean your place of work cannot be a joy to work in. The important thing is to make sure that you have the correct tools to battle such issues with grace. And as they say, “the customer is always right” (even though that may not always be the case).

 

 

Links: https://blog.hubspot.com/service/how-to-deal-with-difficult-customers

https://www.vendhq.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-difficult-customers/


Low budget marketing

Low budget marketing tips pt. 3

Odds are that if your business is still here. You’ve already made or been forced to make some compromises about what your company looks like. But it’s summertime and we’re all looking for ways to trim the fat, so to speak (Also literally. We’ve been padding on more than just the bottom line since we all started working seven feet from the fridge). We want to review some low-budget ways to make sure your business is operating at maximum efficiency.

 

The upside of downtime

Now’s a great time to do training or team building. If there were programs you wanted the team to learn or courses you had put on the back burner for another time, welcome to Now. It’s also a great time for team-building exercises that can help normalize our crazy circumstances and create more community at a time when we’re all striving for it. Encourage your team to communicate about their circumstances and any current difficulties so people feel seen and heard during this crazy time! Support your team in having healthy conversations now and you’ll reap the benefits of a productive, happy team for years to come.

 

Quick, rewrite it

Rework your manifesto or messaging framework. Maybe now that priorities of consumers at large are different, now is the time to pivot your business strategy with them. Consumers have more time to consume content than before. Maybe now is the time to grow that branch of your marketing strategy. Check out our blog post on Content Writing for Noobs for all the secrets to writing content that lasts and is useful!

 

 

Take advantage of skills already present in your team.

It’s likely that there are literally fewer of your team members around. Now is a great time to lean into their skills. They are likely more efficient at the skills they find more natural. And who isn’t looking for a way to cut down and increase their production if at all possible?

 

 

Trade services with other businesses

If nobody is buying what you’re selling right now, consider working for trade or future services. It keeps you working and talking to your hard-won clients and industry contacts. Could you give a lecture or find a way to collaborate and share audiences with another industry?

 

 

Review your subscriptions

Trim the fat. Subscriptions can pile up way faster than we think. Between stock images, online storage, HR software, billing software, scheduling software, video conferencing accounts, Google Suite, Microsoft suites, operating systems, analytics, servers, hosting, internet, and any industry softwares your business uses, just missing out on coupons or deals can spell big losses over the long term. Keep subscriptions tight. Don’t be afraid to call and ask if it’s possible to pause subscriptions that aren’t necessary right this minute for a month or two. There are even apps out there that will review your bank statements for any sneaky recurring payments you might forget.

 

Find ways to fix your budget

Speaking of budgeting apps, there are a lot of them out there. One in particular that has caught our attention is Divvy. This is a budgeting app that is focused on business. It is a great way to keep track of expense reports without having to scan receipts (truly a blessing).

 

As our week of low budget tips comes to an end, we hope that you have learned something new. That you have been inspired and are now going to engage in some creative marketing that costs little to nothing.

 

Of course, if you are looking for some guidance, contact us here at Avant8. This is what we do after all.


Low budget marketing

Low budget marketing tips pt. 2

Marketing doesn’t always have to cost an arm and a leg. There are ways that you can market your business for only a fingertip or even a tooth.

 

So, here are a few more tips to help get your marketing off the ground when you can’t throw a lot of money at it.

 

Go to conventions

As of the writing of this blog, conventions seem like a thing of the past. After all, even when there isn’t a global pandemic, cons always seem like a good place to get sick. But don’t let that scare you off. Conventions and tradeshows are great ways to gain new customers and connections.

 

If you’ve never been to one before, they’re pretty simple. As a vendor you can rent a table at the convention, there you can sell your stuff. That’s basically it. Every convention has a specific theme, so you can find one that fits your brand and will bring in your target audience. A lot of people learn about new businesses (or businesses that are new to them) through cons and tradeshows. Plus, at these events you can meet some of your colleagues. You can make new connections and learn about what new and exciting developments are happening in your field.

 

This is not always the most low budget option though. There are some tradeshows that are very expensive. So, you may want to shop around. You may even have to start with a really small one. That’s okay, it’s a good way to get your feet wet and learn about what other tradeshows are coming up.

 

Share the love

Have you ever thought about partnering up with another company? They don’t even have to be something that is super relevant to your work. Just make sure that it is a company that your target audience would be interested in patronizing.

 

These partnerships can be something as simple as mentioning each other in your social media posts. Or you can work with them to create some sort of discount for shopping at both places. For example, if you run a bakery near a cute bookstore, work with them to offer your customers half-off a cupcake and a particular cookbook. This could bring in readers that have never been to your bakery and baked-goods-lovers who have never been in that bookstore.

 

There are a lot of ways you could go about it. So, find someone you like and reach out to them. Odds are, they’ll be up for it.

 

Reuse, repurpose, and recycle

No, I don’t mean recycle used paper and plastic products (though you should be doing that anyway). I’m referring to templates. If you have something that you’ve used in the past, like a particular image in an ad, and it worked well, reuse it (if you have the rights to do that, of course). This could save you time and money because you won’t have to make a new image or find one in a stock photo gallery. Just remember that if you use the same images too many times, people might notice. Be sure to include new material every now and then.

 

This could also apply to templates. If you’re trying to design a new website, don’t be afraid to reuse templates that you’ve used and liked before. Just be sure to freshen it up a bit. Change a few things here and there.

 

Are you out of ideas for your social media? Do a few throwbacks. Dig down deep into the bowels of your social media, pull out the first handful of posts, and repost them with #throwback. Everyone likes a good blast from the past.

 

You can also reuse old content. If the content you have is still relevant, re-spin it. Reword the sentences and change the order of a few paragraphs (as long as it makes sense). Just know that this is really only something to do if you are running out of ideas for your new content. Fresh content is always preferred.

 

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas for what to do when you have to market on a shoestring budget. But if you are ready to take your marketing to the next level, feel free to contact us, the digital marketing experts at Avant8. After all, helping out small businesses is our thing.