Author: rpatterson

Early this morning, news broke confirming something that many who keep an eye on the tourism industry had predicted would happen sooner or later.

 

Thomas Cook, the longest operating tour provider in the world, has declared bankruptcy and ceased all operations; leaving hundreds of thousands of tourists stranded abroad. While many countries and insurance companies are sorting out how to get these folks home, the unfortunate news also has many here in Lapland concerned about the upcoming winter and what repercussions it will have on an industry that had been experiencing exceptional growth over the last 5+ years.

After being hit hard by the recession in 2007, and ultimately bottoming out in 2010, Lapland has seen a return to the old days and even better. For the last three consecutive years, registered overnights and total tourist numbers have broken records in Lapland; and not only in Rovaniemi. Massive investment & infrastructure projects at Rovaniemi, Kittilä and Ivalo airports were initiated to accommodate the increased flow of tourists and to provide greater accessibility to even more remote areas of Finnish Lapland. All of this is great and will yield benefits for years to come, but what happens when the bubble bursts?

Alright, let’s not look at it like THE bubble, but rather one BIG balloon in a handful of many. You still have a handful of balloons that are pretty, but missing that big one sure makes what’s left look a lot less impressive. That’s what happened when Thomas Cook declared bankruptcy and a large majority of the tourism companies in Finnish Lapland looked at the “balloons” they had left.

They’ve still likely got a beautiful and colorful assortment of “balloons” that will get them through, but what do they do next? Replacing a big balloon like Thomas Cook isn’t easy, but now is the perfect time for tourism and hospitality companies in Finnish Lapland to dive into the nitty-gritty of digital marketing and to find new sources of potential customers. Here are a few ways that they can start:

 

Google Analytics

 

Many tourism businesses in Finnish Lapland have very little idea how they have acquired the customers that they get. Sure, they may have them complete customer information cards upon arrival, but where did they actually discover your company or determine how to choose you over your competitors? Google Analytics is probably a good place to start to help you answer some of these questions. GA can help businesses to identify from where prospective customers live, what pages and content they are the most interested in, from what source your customers found you (direct, search, social, etc.) and much more. By utilizing the information provided through Google Analytics, tourism companies can then expand into two other areas of digital marketing: SEO & SEM

 

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

 

In addition to providing your the geographical locations, user behaviors and sources from which customers are finding your website, Google Analytics also provides information that can help you to optimize your website so that it will perform better in organic search results. Is your page loading to slowly? Are you lacking essential meta descriptions to differentiate your offerings from your competitors? Are people just coming to your website and then “bouncing”, and if so then why? Having a professional look into the structure, organization and content of your website could be the difference between you doing just alright and setting new sales records year-in and year-out.

 

SEM – Search Engine Marketing

 

Another great thing about Google Analytics is that is provides you with detailed information concerning how people are finding your website and which terms they are using in organic search. Most tourism companies in Finnish Lapland know what keywords their customers are searching for when they’re Googling them, but if their content isn’t in tip-top shape they may never reach those potential markets. Additionally, without knowing where your sources of traffic are coming from, you could be investing important marketing budgets into areas that aren’t yielding a solid ROI. The solution? A targeted and carefully tailored paid-search campaign. Google AdWords allows you to get started with a small budget and then grow out from there. See a steady stream of traffic coming from a country that you haven’t had customers from before? Now’s maybe a good time to run a test campaign to see if there’s potentially a new flow of customers. Google does provide a good set of basic guidelines for introducing it’s users to AdWords, but finding someone to explain the intricacies and manage the building, tracking and reporting of your campaign is your safest bet and will ensure that you’re not going to end up getting a huge bill that exceeds your budget for paid-search marketing.

 

What does Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy mean for Finnish tourism?

 

It’s too early to tell just what kind of impact Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy will have on the tourism sector in Finnish Lapland, but there’s no denying that it will cause far-reaching and potentially long-term repercussions in the region. It’s not necessarily a time to fear the future, though. Now is the time to work smarter; not harder. To spend a little money to make a lot of money. By investing in digital optimization, tourism businesses in Lapland will not only be helping to bring themselves into the present day and update their practices, but also begin to plan for the future and beyond so that the home country of Santa Claus can continue to welcome guests from around the world for the foreseeable future.

 

Does your website need an optimization overhaul? Are you interested in exploring a paid-search campaign for your business? Could you use some help with getting your social media rocking and rolling? Call or email us today to set up a meeting and we’ll see what we can do to help!

 

Google, and its expansive product offerings, can often intimidate small businesses; leaving them missing out on things that can truly help them improve their sales and reputation management.

 

It hurts my eyes every time I see it when I search for a prospective or new client’s business on Google.

“Own this business?”

It’s worse than nails on a chalkboard to me, for so many reasons.

Claiming, verifying and completing your Google MyBusiness profile is one of the most important tasks/mini-projects that you can do to help your business look better online. With Google currently owning nearly 90% of the online search traffic, it’s not that difficult to see why having your ducks in a row with Google MyBusiness is important, but let’s break down the top 4 reasons why I personally think that having a super-spiffy Google MyBusiness profile is important to the success of your business.

 

Reviews & reputation management

 

Unless you have gone completely off the grid, it’s likely that you have used online reviews to influence or at least help you make a decision. In fact, 91% of consumers aged 18-34 trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations from friends and family. That’s a number that is too big to be ignored. If you haven’t claimed and verified your Google MyBusiness profile, you could be missing out on a treasure trove of positive feedback that you could be using to help your business succeed! Or, you could be neglecting people that have had negative experiences and it looks like you’re ignoring them. These negative reviews could keep you from acquiring new customers, just because one person had a less than stellar experience.

 

Who, what, when, where & how?

 

Google MyBusiness lets you complete and edit all of your business’ information in an easy-to-use and attractive interface. It’s changed and evolved over the years, but you can essentially turn your entire profile into a small website of sorts where you can include you opening hours, where you’re located, who works for you, how to contact your business, what services you offer and more. When you consider that so many potential customers and clients are finding you for the first time through your Google MyBusiness listing, it’s increasingly easy to see why having this information completed –and up to date!– is important.

 

Analyzing who has found you and from where

 

Love it or hate it, Google has somewhat forcefully carved its way into our every day lives, one way or another. If you have an Android device, you’ve likely been prompted to review places that you have been at — or places that you have even been close to. Anytime anyone accesses your business profile on Google, it uses your location information to show the business owner where you are and what actions you have taken; whether that be looking for directions, visiting your website or calling your business.

This information can be incredibly important to your business’ marketing efforts and can help you to emphasize areas of your business that are already interesting your customers. If you see that people from a certain zip code are finding you more than from another, a Google Adwords campaign could help you to further expand your operations in that geographical area, as well as familiarize others with who you are and what you are doing. The more people that know about you, the better your chances are at growing your customer base and increasing sales!

 

It’s all about being social

 

I would feel great remorse if I didn’t mention Google’s failed social network, Google+. What seemed like a great idea at the time, Google never really was able to establish the network in a way that it could compete with Facebook, Instagram or even Twitter. Although Google is a powerhouse, they still have had their fair share of failures and duds, but with Google MyBusiness they have taken the remnants of Google+ and made them incredibly functional and practical.

Posts made through your MyBusiness account are visible for a week and then they kind of “disappear”. This is good for a few reasons. First, it requires businesses to be more active and engaging with their customers, which is exactly what the modern customer wants. Second, your MyBusiness account allows you to see what your competitors are posting and talking about too. Is a competing tour provider running a promotion for a day-tour? Do you have something similar or even better than what they have? Throw it into a post, create a call-to-action and see how it performs.

Like all social media, it’s a process of trial and error, so don’t be afraid to play around and get creative. This is an extremely handy feature that allows you to create a dialog with your customers that allows you to build trust and a solid reputation with the public.

 

Do you have questions about Google MyBusiness and how it can benefit your business? Do you need help getting your business claimed, verified and looking pretty on Google? Give me a call or drop me an email today, and let’s talk!

As a whole, digital marketing is still very young and under-utilized in Finnish businesses. Chances are that if you are one of the people that is working in this field, then you’ve likely had co-workers and family members ask you,”what exactly is it that you do?”

Don’t take it personally – I was that ‘social media guy’ at the place I worked before I started Nutmegger PR in August 2014, and I’m pretty sure that most of my friends and family think that all I do is play around on Facebook all day. Suffice it to say, and believe me when I say, “I hear you and I feel your pain.”

Misconceptions and misunderstandings aside, business is changing and with that change comes the need for professionals that know how to adapt and grow in an ever-evolving business landscape. Change can yield both positive and negative results, but in most cases it comes down to the strategy and how that plan is implemented as to whether or not your efforts will succeed or fail.

Here’s the good news.

Something great is happening in Finland right now. Businesses that have been around for years – many of them even several decades – are starting to invest resources and educate themselves in digital marketing in an effort to reach new generations of consumers; primarily millennials and teens. Making the changes and taking the steps to do so is great, but the old adage of, “a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”, doesn’t always apply- especially in this instance. Just wanting to change and hiring a bunch of hot-shot, hipster-esqe  recent-grads isn’t going to do it, and just because your new-hires have 500+ followers on Instagram doesn’t mean they know how to professionally manage your business’ corporate social media presences. In fact, if you want to really use any saying to characterize the direction of digital marketing and business operations, “it takes a village,” would probably be the most accurate.

“It takes a village?” Yes, and it’s really easy to understand why when you think about it. Although usually attributed to the raising of children by a community, “it takes a village” can also be used to illustrate that true success in a digital marketing is dependent upon many factors and parts within a business working in unison to best achieve the goals and expectations that are being laid down as you enter this brave new endeavor that is digital marketing. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and successful digital teams and plans weren’t put together overnight.

Educating your staff, bringing in consultants, and working with freelancers can be a great way to introduce yourselves to this new sphere of operations. Luckily, there were some early-adopters -yours truly, included- that are determined to help businesses of all shapes, sizes, and industries succeed in the evolving, Finnish economy.

Bottom line – if you’re going to wade into the digital marketing waters, make sure that you have a lifeguard there to teach you how to swim. A lifeguard like Nutmegger PR!

Did you know that October is International Breast Cancer Awareness Month? During this month, women all over the world take proactive steps to help prevent breast cancer by attending their annual mammogram. For Wake Radiology – one of our wonderful clients – this is also one of their busiest times of the year.

Although we had been primarily helping Wake Radiology with their social media optimization over the past year; they asked us to flex our design and creative muscles for their Breast Cancer Awareness Month across all of their social media channels. To help them with this we decided to create three, Wake Radiology-branded infographics to help illustrate three important themes: providing breast cancer statistics, highlighting the importance of early detection and the often-overlooked topic of male breast cancer.

Here are all three of those infographics; in that exact order.

BCAM-infographic
EarlyDetection-purple800px

MaleBCAW-infographic800px

 

 

2015 has been a very busy year for Nutmegger PR. From developing social strategies and digital communications plans to translating texts for businesses entering the Finnish market and delving into more graphic design work; we’ve absolutely kept ourselves busy. The remainder of 2015 promises a busy schedule with plenty to do, but before we get into too much of that, we’d like to first talk about some work that we’ve been doing with a very exciting client: Amcham Finland.

Amcham Finland is a dynamic and fast-paced non-profit organization that is completely member-funded. They’re led by their inspiring CEO, Kristiina Helenius, who took the Amcham Finland reigns in 2007 and has expertly led this Northern European business hub and its staff of about 20 to new heights and continues to grow their member-network  while boasting a 90% retention rate. Some of their most recognizable members include Stora Enso, Kone, Fiskars, Wärtsilä, & Nokia – some serious heavy hitters not only within Finland, but on a global scale too. It’s not all about the ‘big boys’ with Amcham though. In fact, with members spread out across more than 20 different industries of business; Amcham is one of the most diversified and international organizations for business growth and development that has yet to even reach its full potential.

Recently, Amcham Finland struck a deal with Nutmegger PR to help develop and implement a communications strategy to focus on their US operations that began in Autumn 2014. This broad project has taken the first steps in promoting Amcham Finland’s American members, with the goal of growing their US member-base and to encourage more North American companies to test the Nordic business waters. That brings us to purpose of this post – to brag up our client (Who, BTW, is awesome. In case you hadn’t figured that out yet.), and to show off the first of what will probably be four infographics that we will be creating and releasing between now and the end of 2015. It may not look like much, but it’s brief, to the point and helps to provide a little bit of insight as to why Finland is an excellent ‘Business Destination’.

BizDes-Finland

3 Things People Want From Your Brand On Social Media

So you’ve built your strategy and laid out your expectations for your brand’s social media presence. You’ve read and studied about the intricacies of how to win in social media, but you’re still a little foggy as to how you’ll be able to really succeed in this new and challenging endeavor. You recite the same sentence over and over in your meetings; “if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” You realize that in order to win, you first have to play. It’s a risky wager, but quite possibly a very rewarding one; especially if you know how to interact and communicate with your online community to effectively represent your brand.

Recent studies have taken a whole new look at customer feedback and what your community is most likely to desire from their interactions with you and your brand via social media. Social media and digital marketers consistently find themselves in situations where they have to defend the value and opportunities that social media provides. Thankfully, these reports have gathered and presented the information necessary to be able to provide those of us in the industry – or those looking to establish themselves within the social media sphere of operations – the hard facts and supporting numbers to help us succeed in this battle against the naysayers!

1) It’s called Social Media for a reason.

It always blows me away when brands and community managers wonder why they haven’t seen the results that they want from social media, but they don’t make the effort to really interact with their community on multiple channels. According to a study conducted by Hubspot, online consumers and social media users expect their favorite brands to be actively participating with their communities on at least three different social networks. So wait, you mean to tell me that people actually want to communicate with us on more than just Facebook and Twitter? Yes, and not only that, but they want you to be actively engaging them! Don’t sit back and wait for everyone to come to you. Reach out and put your arm around your audience’s shoulder and talk to them. Stop agoraphobic behaviors and start communicating with your community!

In addition to Facebook and Twitter (the top vote getters for social networks in this category), consumers listed Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+ as the next five most-desired places for brands to have a social presence.

2)We’re here to listen and help, not just post memes.

Many new ventures in to social media lack the content plan that is necessary to succeed and meet company expectations. If you think sharing memes and posting photos of office antics will give you a mark in the win column, then you’d better reevaluate your plans and goals for social media. A large part of managing communities is listening to and working to resolve issues that are brought forth and voiced by you community members. Going back to the whole idea of being social in social media; people will expect your brand to provide added value by utilizing social media to manage customer service and relationships. An excellent study, recently released by Parature, provided solid insight and figures into how communities expect to interact with and receive customer service via social media. Here’s a few highlights from their findings:

  • 35% of consumers have sought out customer service help through social media.
  • 35% have used social media to complain about a brand or its customer service.
  • 52% have used social media to praise or compliment a brand or its customer service.
  • 59% said that the brand responded to their interaction and that by doing so, 51% of those said that the acknowledgement and interaction with the brand provided them either a somewhat more or much more favorable opinion of the company.

It’s easy to see the positive correlation in the figures above, but does the amount of time needed to respond impact a community’s view of a brand’s level of service? You bet it does. The same survey and study found the following to be true of users seeking out customer service help via social media:

  • 38% of customers expect a response within one hour of posting their feedback. That 38% is further broken down like so: 8% within five minutes, 16% in less than 30 minutes, and 14% in less than an hour.
  • 29% expect a response within 24 hours of their initial contact.
  • 8% expect their feedback to be addressed within 48 hours.
  • 24% don’t expect a response at all.

The most glaring figure, of those listed above, should be the last one listed. 24% of users do not expect their voice to be heard or acknowledged by the brand that they are trying to communicate with. Not only is that figure entirely too high, but it’s an easy one to improve upon. The power and importance of social customer service and social CRMs will only increase over time as the spread of digital services only continues to grow day by day.

3) Hey man, can you do be a favor? Umm, no.

We’ve all had someone like this in our lives. The friend that you’ve known for years and you get along with just fine, but they seem to always be asking for favors. It’s not that they’re difficult or make you feel as though you don’t want to be friends with them anymore, but it’s the constant asking without the possibility of returning the favor that bugs you. Whatever form it’s taken in your life, you know who we’re talking about, and as a word of caution and advice: don’t be that person with your brand on social media. Social media is a place where people go to interact with friends, talk about their lives with others and find entertainment in the forms of funny photos or amazing videos. The quickest way to get a bad reputation and lose members of your community is to go sales-heavy with your content. Constantly pitching products and services, bragging about your own achievements, and neglecting your community are sure-fire ways to fail at social media and alienate your consumers. People don’t use social media to buy products. That’s why search engines like Google and Bing have spent so much time and development on making it easier to find what you want when you want it.

The best way to establish and integrate a sales strategy through social media is to utilize the total social experience to engage your target customers. By providing value and useful knowledge to your community, you’re able to increase the position and power of your brand through a more natural and organic interaction. A 2014 Gallup study revealed that 35% of consumers stated that their interactions within social media had an influence on their purchasing decisions. This figure may not seem that impressive, but take into account the vast amount of personal opinion and feedback that is available to consumers via social media in the form of reviews and complaints, then it’s rather difficult to deny the far-reaching power a brand’s reputation can have over a consumer’s decision making process. Whether directly or indirectly, it’s safe to say that social media can make or break a sale for many companies and brands.

The most important things to take away from this, are that you manage your brand well on social media by being social and engaging, listening to and servicing your communities, and by being patient and strategic with your sales tactics. If you can do these well, then you’re on the right track to succeeding with social media.

SocialCRM1

It’s Saturday night and you’re out with your friends to see the latest superhero movie that just hit theaters. That shouldn’t be too hard to image, considering they come out every couple weeks or so – or perhaps it just feels like they do. You buy your ticket, get your drink and goodies from the snack bar, and finally head in to enjoy your movie. If you’re lucky, you’ve only been scalped for 30 bucks, and although you really wanted to see this movie, you’re a little peeved because what used to cost you the same price as a meal at a fast-food joint, is now the same as a three-course meal if not more! You decide to express your emotions in the most common way in today’s world; so you share them on social media. You update your Facebook status, Tweet at the movie theater, and post a photo of your receipts on Instagram before switching your phone to silent and start watching the movie.

A couple hours later, the movie is over and you check your phone. Two missed calls from your Mom (no matter how old you are, she still panics when you don’t answer), a couple texts from friends, and a handful of notifications from Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram with people liking, favorite-ing, and heart-ing your posts. After calling Mom back, you read the comments on your posts and realize that the theater has responded to you and wants to learn more about your customer experience. You decide to reply and strike up a dialog that leads to you receiving free movie tickets and vouchers to use at the snack bar. You feel special, as though this is the first time this has ever happened in the history of the social media. Well, you may be special, but this is not an abnormality anymore. You’ve just been personally introduced to social CRM – the customer service of the present and future.

I can see you scratching your head now. What is ‘Social CRM’? Simply put, social CRM is the practice of using social media to engage with and manage a company’s relationship with their customers. You may not realize it, but when your favorite brewer posts a photo of their latest seasonal beer and asks you what your favorite is, you’re being engaged in their social CRM. By liking, sharing or commenting on this post, you have now volunteered to become a part of their conversation and open yourself to the possibility of being contacted. Social engagement is a key indicator in measuring the success of a company’s social media campaigns. Promotions and giveaways are other great examples of the engagement side of social CRM.

The other side of the social CRM pillow deals primarily with customer service. If we go back to the opening scene of this post, we are able to see how many companies are now utilizing social media to manage their customer service interactions and reputation management efforts. Before the advent of social media, the general consensus was that three positive reviews could overcome one negative review. Whether for better or worse, this is not the case any longer. Although debated by many, let’s say that for every negative review your company has, you need ten positive reviews to maintain your standing with your customers. In the age of social media, examples of poor services and experiences can spread faster that wildfire. The companies most concerned with customer service and their reputation have been eager to adopt a more pro-active approach to social CRM. An excellent example of this is in the case of McDonalds.

Whether you love or hate the Golden Arches, McDonalds has instituted one of the strongest social CRMs to focus on customer satisfaction and service; they even have a Twitter handle dedicated specifically to this! McDonalds isn’t alone in this respect, but they are extremely punctual with their responses and although it may sound a little automated and robotic, they generally solve their issues in a timely manner and are able to satisfy the majority of their customers. The same can be said for budget airlines like Norwegian.

In August 2014 I had an issue with a booking being changed while travelling back to Finland from the USA. I decided to contact the airline and voice my dissatisfaction on their Facebook page because, having personally used social CRMs and communities in my own work, I wanted to see how well an international, budget airline would deal with this issue. Within minutes, someone had replied, apologized for the situation, and provided me with another avenue through which to contact them. Although they didn’t change the booking back to what it originally was, they did show that they cared and were attentive to my concerns. You can’t win every time, but it sure felt good knowing that I was being cared for in the same way that I had cared for my own communities.

Hopefully this will give you a taste of what social CRM is all about. As this topic is only growing in popularity, keep your eyes open for the next article in this series as I explore the intricacies of what makes social CRM such an intriguing and exciting topic.

ChecklistIt’s Monday morning and you’ve just set up at your desk with a fresh cup of coffee. You like to get in early, to help you ease into your day, so you turn on your internet radio and open your favorite news outlet’s website to see what you may have missed over the weekend. You check on the standings for whatever sport is in season, read a few personal interest stories, and finally get around to the news so that you’ll be prepared with possible topics for water cooler discussions later on in the day.

You get a couple sentences into the second paragraph and then there it is. You see it and at first you don’t pay it too much mind. Then you read it again. Something isn’t right so you read it out loud to yourself and you realize that something is wrong and are now a little annoyed. You’ve found a rather simple spelling or grammar mistake in the article that you were trying to enjoy, but because of this gaffe -which is growing larger and larger by the second in your mind- you’re instantly turned off from the article and now wonder to yourself as to how in the world a professional writer made such a stupid mistake that could now be read by thousands or even millions of people. Maybe you consider changing it up and trying a new publication that has higher standards and better accuracy in their text. Just like that, your old faithful has now become a second-rate tabloid to you and who know how many others. This publication has now lost some of its valuable readers, but it all could have been avoided if the author would have just included a few simple steps in their process.

Remember, proofreading takes practice and you won’t become a professional overnight, but hopefully these five handy tips will help to guide and transform you into being your office’s word-wizard!

1) Focus on one thing at a time.
Pick one at a time – sentence structure, spelling, or punctuation – and read your work through entirely before moving onto the next one. Don’t confuse yourself by trying to look for all of your possible mistakes and correct them all at once. Being systematic and precise will result in a higher quality and more consistent work, with fewer mistakes.

2) Break your paragraphs down.
The acceptable length of a paragraph could be debated for forever and a day. The most important thing to remember when writing is to maintain cohesive and comprehensive thoughts in your paragraphs and to not overload them with too much. Does that last sentence feel a little out of place? Try rewording it or using it in your next paragraph instead.

3) Read slowly and out loud.
When all else fails; read your work out loud. Yeah, your co-workers may give you a weird look when you start talking to your computer screen, but I would wager that 95% of all mistakes in writing can be identified and corrected by simply reading your text out loud. If something doesn’t sound right, then it probably isn’t. Remember to emphasize punctuation when reading out loud too. Pause when you come to a comma or semi-colon. Come to a complete stop when you encounter a period. Read your text the way you want it to sound and you’ll cut down on your mistakes faster than you could have imagined.

4) Crowdsource for support.
No, you’re not trying to get funding for your Kickstarter, but asking a co-worker that you trust to check your work is always a good idea. This can be tricky if time is tight, but if you are serious about improving the quality of your writing and have someone that you are able to bounce your text off of, then accounting for this time in your production process will absolutely be of benefit to you in both the short- and long run.

5) The wolf in sheep’s clothing – spellcheckers and grammar checkers.
Never place all of your trust in spellcheckers and grammar checkers! These wonderful little helpers of the word processing world often miss simple things and can be more harmful than helpful. They do have their upsides in that they’re great for catching longer words or ones that you may have been a bit unsure of, but don’t be fooled; they’re, there and their do not mean the same thing.

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