Buying Behavior From The 2018 Holiday Season

Buying Behavior From The 2018 Holiday Season

Isn’t it fascinating to watch our shopping habits change year after year? It’s easier than ever to get what you want, fast. Buying gifts in-store is pretty different than it was ten years ago. You can research stores with the best deal on a pricey item you’re looking to buy your dad. Use your go-to coupon app to see which discount you can apply to it. Purchase it online and pick it up on your way home from work—all in the same day (if not hour)!

The International Council of Shopping Centers (known as ICSC) has collected data from the busy Thanksgiving-to-Christmas period in 2018 to record new trends and growing statistics, categorized widely by age. We’re here to break down the numbers for you.

We’re Shopping Differently:
It’s obvious that nearly everyone that shopped for holiday gifts made a purchase in a physical store this year (87% to be exact). More than half of all shoppers purchased online for some of their gifts. And they love being able to “buy online and pick up in-store” later that day—something that 37% of all shoppers took advantage of. You avoid the cost of shipping and get your goods the same day (and there’s no worrying if it will get lost in the delivery process).

We Still Love Shopping In-Store:
The #1 reason: we can see the item in-person. Why else? We get the item immediately; can use exclusive in-store discounts; we avoid shipping costs; and we can cross a few gifts off our list all in one stop.

We Increased Our Budgets:
Consumers reported that they spent more on holiday gifts this year than last year. Why? Number one, they’re increasing the number of people they’re shopping for. No longer single like you were last year? That means you’re buying presents for your significant other, and maybe their family, too. Number two, the items are just more expensive, especially if you’re upping your gift-giving game and spoiling your family with the newest tech or pricey designer clothes. And number three, when we see an item on sale, naturally we have to get one for ourselves too, right?

How Much We Spent:
The research team at ICSC looked at this in terms of how much Millennials (currently aged 23-38), Gen Xers (aged 39-53), and Baby Boomers (aged 54-74) spent, on average. Gen Xers spent the most out of the three groups, with an average spend of $1,119 to get their holiday shopping done. Next were Millennials (whose bills averaged $1,053), followed by Boomers (with an average of $1,038).

Where We Shopped:
Discount stores like Walmart and Target take the cake, as 71% of all shoppers made a purchase at this type of store. It’s easy to see why: these retailers tend to sell everything under the sun, for a good price. And as we learned earlier, when you have a longer list of people to buy for, you’ll naturally be on the hunt for bargains. Secondly, we like to shop at department stores like Macy’s and Kohl’s, where we can get an Instant Pot for our mother-in-law and Nikes for our brother, all in one stop. Runner-ups included dollar stores (where 24% of people shopped), electronic stores, off-price retailers like TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack, and sporting goods stores. Once in these stores, 73% of shoppers used a mobile device as a resource to compare prices, look for coupons, and check inventory, compared to the 66% of people who used one in 2017.

What We’re Gifting:
ICSC reported that 68% of all shoppers purchased a gift card over the holidays, making it the most popular gift category in 2018. Baby boomers purchased the most expensive gift cards, averaging out to $123 per gift card. Next up: apparel and shoes (which half of all shoppers bought), then toys and games at 46%. Finally, about a third of all shoppers purchased accessories and cosmetics, and foodie gifts like chocolates or pre-packaged food baskets. Do these items add up to what was on your shopping list?

The retail world is a busy, profitable, and ever-changing industry, especially from Thanksgiving to Christmas. When do you plan to wrap up your list this year? 47% of people started shopping before Thanksgiving in 2018. So if your “nice” list is growing this year, it might be wise to start buying now; Black Friday will be here before we know it.

Tips to Successfully Rebrand

Tips to Successfully Rebrand

Companies rebrand to keep up with current trends and modernize their business. Rebranding can be a great way to generate buzz for your company.. if it’s done the right way. A logo is essential for any business because it defines your brand and shows some personality. Your consumers recognize your brand and what you’re all about from your logo. If you’re thinking about rebranding and launching a new logo, there are steps to be taken to avoid customer confusion. We’re all used to seeing McDonald’s golden arches, Nike’s swoosh and Target’s red bullseye. Imagine how odd it would be if these widely known brands launched a new logo with no warning. Here are some pointers for rebranding (the right way).

Know Your Company’s Purpose

First, understanding your company from the core is essential. Become fully aware of your company’s tone and style. How do you want your brand to be displayed to consumers? Image Marketing Consultants’ brand is professional, bold and a little feminine. We’re an all-women agency, after all. Plan how you want your business to retain customers and attract new ones. Will you have a fun and playful tone, or be more serious? If you’re creating a new logo, you want this to imitate the brand’s visual tone and personality.

Who Is Your Audience?

It’s important to know your audience to find out how to appeal to them. Carefully come up with a list of your audience’s attributes. They should align with your company’s tone. If your brand appeals to a younger generation, having a bland and serious logo will lead this market to become disengaged. Try to find out what will engage your audience versus what will detract them from your brand.

Take it Slow

Hype up your customers before the relaunch! Launching your new look all at once will confuse customers. What we recommend is the trickle effect. Slowly introduce your company’s new vision. Drop subtle hints that your company is changing certain aspects. For example, slowly introduce your logo’s new color scheme into some of the content you’re sharing. Speak out about some logos you’re loving lately. Drop hints without overwhelming your audience; they’ve already become familiar with your current look.

Make a list of all the materials that need to be changed to correlate with the new brand image. Everything from your business cards to sign out front will need to be updated. Ensure all team members are on board with the rebranding process and keep the launch date a secret!

The best way to prepare for a relaunch is over social media. About 77% of the US population has a social media account, so it’s no doubt using a social platform generates hype. Posting photos on Facebook and Instagram will allow consumers to comment and think about your company’s image.

Launching

Get the media involved. More people will see how you have changed your image and won’t get confused in the process. Have a local writer do a piece to announce that you’re changing your look. You want to get your new logo as much press as possible for people to see and become familiar with. Maybe even throw in an Instagram story with a poll after the launch to see how consumers like your rebranding.

Contact

If you’re looking to rebrand, contact Image Marketing Consultants. Our graphic design team can work with you to create a new look that’s on par with what your company is all about. We’ll help with the rebranding process from start to finish– we’ll even alert the press! Connect with us today to learn more about our services for you to get the best experience out of your relaunch.


Attainable New Year’s Resolutions

Attainable New Year’s Resolutions

Now that the new year is here, you’re more inclined to see advertisements attributed to changing your diet and working out. While a good amount of people set these as their New Year’s resolutions, they often jump in too quickly and easily fall out within a couple of months. Starting off small can lead you to success in the New Year. This applies to your business as well. Here are a few attainable (and out of the box) New Year’s resolutions to help get you started:

Learn Something New

Instead of being unrealistic with workout resolutions, try exercising your brain power. Becoming trapped in the same tedious routine can make your work seem monotonous after time. Learning one new thing can prevent this repetitive cycle. Constant stimulation is even proven to be beneficial for brain growth! This resolution gives you the excuse to follow your dreams and pick up that one hobby or language you’ve been wanting to learn. Listening to Podcasts or taking an online course can help you start to expand your your knowledge and become an even more valuable team member.

Our Digital Marketing Coordinator, Amanda, has a goal to develop more skills around SEO as it continues to prove its value in the marketing industry. She wants to be able to use this additional knowledge to better assist our clients’ digital presence.

Be More Organized

Can’t find that number you wrote down a while back that you swore to yourself you would remember? It can be easy to fall out of organization, especially when there’s a million other tasks to be completed. Avoiding simple routines can start to become a routine in itself. Create a checklist every day to keep you on track and feel more productive. Carry around a journal to make this easier and write additional notes that you need to remember throughout the day. Follow a routine to keep you on track with your to-do list by making a general guideline for your day. This will allow you to automatically complete the tasks right away instead of procrastinating and waiting. Put that essential phone number you had to quickly jot down in a designated place right away. This will ensure that you will be able to locate it when you need it.

Take More Risks

Taking risks can often lead to a variety of successes. This may seem contradictory because the idea of risk can sometimes be related to the fear of failing. Failure is essential for growth- both personally and professionally. Uncertainty is always there, but overcoming your fear of failure will give you a confidence boost. With great risk comes great opportunities, which can help you to build your company or career into a bigger picture.

Image Marketing Consultants creates goals year-long to achieve greater growth within the company, with clients, and as professionals in the field. If you’re looking for your company to have a higher brand image and online presence, connect with us today!


Marketing Tip Tuesday: Social Media Manners

Marketing Tip Tuesday: Social Media Manners

We all make mistakes on social media. But how does that affect the growth of your brand? There are certain social media posts that might not do what you want them to. The last thing that you want your brand to be doing is pushing followers away!

Here are some social media ‘manners’ that are safe to follow:

  • When you make a new post, make sure that you don’t overuse your hashtags. While your post might be found from clicking on a hashtag, you don’t want to annoy your followers. A simple rule of thumb is picking the top theme of your post, then putting a few hashtags after. If you are posting a picture your office, pick the top hashtags that are trending. Try looking on Hash Tracking to see what is trending.Hashtag-Printing-In-Ireland
  • Don’t beg people to follow you. If you reach out to someone that liked your post and not your page, you can say, “Thanks for the like on my post, have you seen some of our other great content?” and lead them in a good direction. Don’t say, “Thank you for the like, follow my pages @—–.” It is an easy way to lose people. You can even answer questions that they have for you, or check out what they have are up to as well.
  • Posting the same post on all social media platforms. People may follow you on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and they want to see different types of posts. While double posting is sometimes okay, try to come up with creative and new content for each social media outlet. Double posting is seen as an easy way out of coming up with more posts. IMG_0033
  • While we had a blog on what posts work for your business, there is something to think of; overdoing the posts that work. If you are constantly posting the same thing, your followers will get bored. So it is great to find a variety of posts that will work for your business.

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How To Make A GIF For Instagram With Canva

How To Make A GIF For Instagram With Canva

Videos are quickly becoming one of the best ways to keep your followers interested and engaged in your content on Instagram. We’re here to tell you it’s simple to keep up with the growing trend when you use canva.com. If you’re not familiar with the term, GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. It’s essentially images that move. You might be wondering what’s the difference between a video and a gif? Well animated GIFs and videos are the same concept, but they differ in implementation. GIF started out as a normal image, and the animation was tacked on later. An animated GIF is a series of frames. Also, no sound. A video, on the other hand, can use a large variety of formats with sound. Some video formats show only the pixels that have changed from frame to frame.

GIF videos are fun, interactive, and allow you to say a bit more to your audience online with just one post. You can choose to make an illustration look animated or make your GIF more text based! It’s up to you to decide how customized your post will be. Get creative with it!

“Sports Illustrated, People Magazine, and TIME have seen almost 90 to 100 percent increases in their video output from May 2016 to May 2017. When Instagram first launched video, there was a 15 second time limit. Now, Instagram videos can be as long as 60 seconds, giving publishers more time to make an impact.”

(https://www.newswhip.com/2017/06/photo-vs-video-on-instagram/)

If you have a Canva For Work account, you can choose to download your design as an animated GIF or movie. Keep reading to find out how you can make your first GIF for Instagram just like the pros. 

Step 1: Select the social post format you’d prefer. In this case it’s Instagram!

Step 2: Upload the image you want to use for your background (it will be static in the back of your moving elements). There are some gorgeous free images on pexels.com or unsplash.com.

Step 3: Resize it to the size you’d prefer.

Step 4: A GIF is made up of multiple different layers. Click on the “elements” option – and then you can drag the corners of whatever shape you choose to resize it! You can also change the shapes color.

Step 5: Click on “text” next and play around with the various options. Remember to use the same font if you want your GIF to be consistent.

Step 6: When your graphic is done, click on download and make sure to select Animated GIF/Movie. This will convert your images from flat and static to an image that’s moving.

It’s important to preview your GIF to make sure it’s working to your liking. Download and get ready to convert your file for Instagram!

It’s simple with an app called GifLab. Click on GIF for Instagram once you’ve opened the app and select save and share on Instagram. It’s really that easy. 

Spreading Goodwill During the Holidays and Beyond

Spreading Goodwill During the Holidays and Beyond

Many religions have important holidays during December; some even celebrate with festivities into January as well. Businesses often schedule community outreach events during this period to give back to the community, but it is important to remember that goodwill can be spread throughout the year, not just during the holiday season.

Choosing to volunteer only during the holidays may come across as pointed and fake. While the urge to volunteer may be the strongest during the holiday season, finding year-round volunteering opportunities supports the public perception that your business is an integral part of the local community, rather than capitalizing on the holidays themselves.

Whether you choose to have your company volunteer with local charity organizations or sponsor a canned food drive, spreading goodwill is a fantastic way to build relationships with those in the local community first and foremost. By donating time and energy to support worthy causes, businesses receive well-deserved attention in the public eye- the cherry on top of it all.

What companies forget is the need to serve their community year round. Doing so is both beneficial for those in need, as well as to the company’s public relations image. Volunteering time and resources for a worthy cause casts a warm glow onto those who offer their time, thereby enhancing the image of their employer.

If your company is looking for new opportunities to volunteer time during the holiday season, consider reaching out to local community service organizations or a food pantry. If your team is interested in making a long-lasting impact, think about partnering officially with a charity organization to provide year-round support.

Some employees may even choose to volunteer for community service opportunities on their own. When companies support their employees in these initiatives by offering the ability to volunteer on the company’s time, others notice the shared values of the company. Building a reputation of a being heavily involved with the local community is beneficial for all, as those in need receive the assistance they deserve, and the organization is rewarded with boosts to their public relations perception.

Building a successful public relations strategy involves consistent demonstrations of brand (and personal) values. Just as Patagonia maintains its charitable giving and activities supporting the national park service year-round, try doing the same for your business when it comes to spreading goodwill during the holiday season. Kicking off a volunteer campaign during the holidays is great, but it should be upheld consistently throughout the year to support the local presence that is so important for all involved.

Image Marketing Consultants embodies this philosophy and is committed to connecting businesses with strategic partners for year-round volunteer activities. Consider adding volunteer activities to your company’s overall brand and public relations development strategies- a practice that is beneficial to all stakeholders in the community. After all, how often do marketing campaigns offer the ability to feel good about a yearlong commitment that is virtually free? Reach out today to learn more.

5 Ways to Launch Your Business Into the Public Eye

5 Ways to Launch Your Business Into the Public Eye

Creating a name for your company and increasing awareness of your offering are two crucial steps to building a positive image in the public’s eye. Regardless of the size of your business, if your customers do not know your business’s name or location, it will take a longer period of time for your business to grow. Grand openings are a fantastic tool to help launch your business into the public eye, but what you may not know is that there are four additional tools you can leverage to execute a door-busting business launch.

Launching a new business isn’t just about getting customers into the door; rather, it is about convincing them to come back repeatedly. Here are five ways to propel your business into the public eye and drive reoccurring foot traffic:

  1. Grand Openings- Grand openings are a momentous occasion for a new business as they offer the public a chance to experience new offerings in their area. Inviting the public to attend such events leverages marketing tactics to bring awareness that may otherwise go unearned. A successfully executed grand opening ensures that the local community has a reason to try something new.
  2. Newspaper Publications- Even with paper-products disappearing from our daily lives, newspapers remain highly relevant and function as a far-reaching public bulletin board to announce the latest news for the region. With steady readership, purchasing an ad or covered story in a local or regional paper can help spread the word about a new location opening. The best part about newspapers? Readers can easily cut out and save the pieces that interest them- ensuring that your announcement serves as a salient reminder to check out what is new and local.
  3. Television Appearances- TV exposure is beneficial for your new business as it affords a targeted, broad reach in addition to offering the authority that comes with appearing on television. Rather than paying for advertisements, focus your efforts on reserving airtime on local news segments that highlight small to medium-sized businesses similar to yours.
  4. Partnerships- Just at the old saying goes: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. Occasionally, launching a new product or service requires support from similar companies already in the area. By partnering with a well-established company (not a direct competitor, of course!), you can leverage knowledge of the market and existing relationships with local customers. Successful partnerships are the product of bringing together complimentary services (for example between apparel and shoe stores) that share “the same” customers. Sharing a target consumer base ensures that great co-marketing and promotional opportunities are on the horizon.
  5. Social Media (a.k.a. buzz marketing)– Perhaps one of the best uses of social media in launching a new business is not actually the targeted advertisements and information pages (although these represent two other valuable digital marketing strategies), but rather the buzz that can spread like wildfire through customer’s own social media posts. As long as you take care in the image that you create for your business in the public’s eye, you can leverage the power of social media to drive buzz and attention.

Building a business from scratch or expanding an existing operation can be stressful and challenging. The Image Marketing Consultants team is staffed by public relations, marketing, and event planning experts to help reduce worry and guide you throughout the journey. If you are interested in introducing your business to your community on a grand scale, reach out today to schedule a 15-minute call with one of our strategists.

4 Ways To Get Your Business Ready For Small Business Saturday

4 Ways To Get Your Business Ready For Small Business Saturday

If you’re a small business with BIG goals, Small Business Saturday is a day you won’t want to miss. It’s a day founded by American Express to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities. You might have noticed it’s becoming an essential part of the holiday shopping season for entrepreneurs across the country. Keep reading to find out how you can get your store and even your whole neighborhood ready for a day of shopping small.

Now that over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017, it’s never been easier to find nearby small businesses where you can use your Card, #ShopSmall, and support your community. (americanexpress.com)

  1. Plan to host a shop small event at your retail location to bring everyone together! Come up with a special deal for your customers – like 50 percent off if you show a receipt from another participating shop in the area. Collaborating with other stores will only increase your sales and allow you to make valuable connections, too.
    Create a Facebook event and make sure to mention all that you’re offering customers.
  1. Give out Shop Small swag. Tote bags, posters, balloons, and so much more are available for any small business to enjoy. Grab some shop small merchandise from your local “neighborhood champions.” These are essentially ambassadors in your community ready to spread the word about all things Small Business Saturday. You can find the champions in your area here.
  1. Make sure to promote your business on social media leading up to the day! Let everyone know that they should #ShopSmall during their holiday shopping this year. Create your own marketing materials using the Shop Small Studio for free. It’s an amazing tool where you’ll be able to design custom graphics with Shop Small branding.
  1. Work on freshening up your checkout area. It’s important for customers to feel that they have a clear path to where they need to go. It sounds simple, but can be absolutely essential for an influx of shoppers. Put out some type of greenery for an organic and inviting vibe. It also helps to light a large candle with the warm holiday scent of your choice. You won’t regret making this space comfortable for your new clients!

If you’re shopping on Saturday, you’ll want to use the American Express Shop Small Map to find all the participating businesses near you. Join organizations across the country in supporting your local small business! Where will you be shopping this year? 

Interested in promoting your small business after Small Business Saturday? Contact Image Marketing Consultants to get the results you want this year and beyond.

5 Pinterest Tips For Your Small Business

5 Pinterest Tips For Your Small Business

There’s one platform that’s taking over the image organization game. If you’re constantly brainstorming ideas for your next big project, looking for the best DIY inspiration, or hoping to expand in your small business – Pinterest is your new best friend. You’ll be pinning and advertising your company in no time when you sign up. If you’re not already familiar with Pinterest (you’re seriously missing out), it’s essentially a virtual vision board where any user can compile images in separate boards they setup. Pinning to these boards takes little to no time and simply means that you’ve placed an image you LOVE into a group of similar items. Sound simple? Keep reading for 5 Pinterest tips you’ll need to implement into your marketing strategy before the new year.

Set up organized boards that relate directly to your business:
If you’re promoting a pet company on pinterest, you’ll want to organize your boards to best fit your target audience. Think about what your customers do with their pets. Are they at the dog park on weekends? Do they often buy treats and accessories from your store? Start with the main products you offer, and expand from there! Try organizing an accessories board with your dog collars, toys, and clothing. Make sure your images are high quality, cohesive to the board you’re using, and eye catching.

Create and pin brand specific content to advertise your products/services:
You can actually design your own pins using platforms like canva.com. Make sure to use fonts and colors that represent your business! Once you’ve made your pin, you’ll click “create pin” in your account and link your website, etsy shop, or shopify to the pin. If you’re unsure of what to post first, it’s fun to promote a promo code on your graphic for new customers to enjoy. Still hesitant? have the Image Marketing experts design content that you can use. 

Use secret boards to your advantage:
Secret boards are exactly what you’re probably thinking – it’s a tool for you to keep secret boards on your profile if you’re not ready to make them public quite yet. This can be helpful if you’re trying out new top secret products!

Join group boards:
There are so many other small businesses out there that you can connect with on Pinterest. Group boards allow users to support each other whether you’re starting your own or requesting to join another group. It will allow you to share pins with other small businesses like yours! Pick groups that are related to your niche and you’ll find a community perfect for you.

Enable rich pins:
Drive traffic to your account with rich pins! “Rich Pins are a type of organic Pin format that provide more context about an idea by showing extra information directly on the Pin.” (pinterest.com)

Check out these rockstar pinterest accounts for inspiration.
Anthropologie: Notice how they feature boards like home “decor and design” or “travel guide”
Their content is brand specific and relates to everything in their store.

Birchbox: This brand knows exactly how to reach their target audience with beauty tutorials, hair inspiration, and lifestyle tips.

Martha Stewart Living: This account features really high quality photography of food for recipes, DIY projects, and of course Martha Stewart!

Pinterest has an amazing help center if you’re trying any of these tips for the first time. 

Happy pinning!!

Image Marketing Consultants specializes in creative content design and social media management for clients, regardless of industry or domain. If you are interested in learning more about how we can craft a branding, creative, or social media marketing strategy for your business, contact us!

3 Ways To Recover From A Public Relations Nightmare

3 Ways To Recover From A Public Relations Nightmare

A Public relations crisis can be the death of a business if not handled properly. Small incidents such as misspelled social media posts all the way to a scandal involving illicit activities can tarnish the reputation of a company in the public’s eye.

Legally, companies must protect their customers. Socially, this duty expands beyond safeguarding their best interests to doing so in a way that maintains a positive brand image at all times. Small public relations incidents for businesses, if not handled swiftly and professionally, can cause a revenue-declining backlash that is hard to recover from.

In August of 2018, one sick employee contaminated a batch of food at a Columbus, Ohio area Chipotle restaurant. When word of the contamination spread, Chipotle faced a significant amount of negative attention in the press. It took over a week for the company to own the fact that the incident, while not directly their fault caused harm to the very people they are supposed to delight.

The response from Chipotle’s senior management team was emotionless at best. Rather than getting out in front of the problem, taking actionable steps to solve it, and apologize for their mistake, Chipotle fell silent.

This silence, in conjunction with additional instances of bad press, caused consumers to harbor a lot of distrust with the brand. Revenues have declined by 5% over the past year, and have yet to make a return towards the green.

These incidents often happen, regardless of industry or the size of the company. To recover from a fumble, companies in trouble can follow three fundamental steps to recover from a public relations nightmare, regardless of the incident’s scale.

  1. Own It – mistakes happen. Regardless of whether the incident is the direct fault of an employee or not, owning the event is crucial. The public associates the locations and employees of the company as being one and the same, and anything that occurs between those key things falls under the responsibility of the business.
  2. Apologize – saying “sorry” helps. Apologies further demonstrate the sense of ownership and remorse that is important for building and repairing trust with your clientele after a crisis incident.
  3. Make Amends – seeing is believing. Saying sorry is one way to correct a problem, but it is often just the first step in a more extensive journey that involves making it up to those wronged or harm. Words are a powerful tool to make amends, but they require an act demonstrating the sincerity of such to have an impact.

These three steps to help recover your business from a PR nightmare may seem like common sense but are forgotten frequently in the heat of the moment. Finding a trusted partner who can ensure that your business’s positive image is maintained at all times, even when you are busy putting out metaphorical fires at your company, is one way to ensure that any unforeseen “black swan” events do not cause any irreparable harm or damage time-honored hard work.

Do not wait until it is too late to have a crisis management plan in place. Neglecting to plan ahead can be detrimental to your business, just as Chipotle experienced in August.

Image Marketing Consultants specializes in protecting and maintaining positive public relations for clients, regardless of industry or domain. If you are interested in learning more about how we can craft a public relations or marketing strategy to protect your business’s image, reach out, and a member of our team will schedule a time to discuss the future of your business in this ever-changing world.