20/20 Vision

Having 20/20 vision isn’t what it really means in the business world.  According to a study completed by Partners in Leadership, over 50% of businesses surveyed did not have a goal or objective clearly defined to be reached by the year 2020.  Of the 1,000 companies surveyed, 83% of those that did set a 2020 goal called it a “somewhat to aggressive” stretch goal.

The benefits of having defined goals have been well documented.  Having goals that are clear to all employees creates cohesiveness among staff; can generate enthusiasm for projects; help with understanding long-term objectives and offers a “rally” point for companies.  The Partners In Leadership survey offered that having a defined goal or objective can provide “organizational alignment and effective professional development.”

Creating clear, understandable and sustainable goals offers those vested in the business some to strive for:  success through goal achievement.

The United States Election Project (http://www.electproject.org/2016g) tracked the 2016 election cycle.  Nearly half of eligible voters (46.9% of the 231,556,622 people) did not vote in the 2016 election.  Of those who remaining who did vote, the divide between major party candidates came down to tenths of percentage points for the popular vote.  In August 2016, the Pew Research Center ranked the U.S. 31st out of 35 countries for voter turnout based on the voting age populace, among the mostly democratic nations that are a part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Perhaps it’s the lack of clarity in goals and objectives that keeps people on the sidelines in one of the most important civic actions they can take.  It may be malaise for politics in general or overall apathy for the direction being offered by a candidate.  Or it may be the lack of clearly communicated goals (other than reaching a particular political office) that is the culprit in low voter turnout.

Establishing goals for your company – looking ahead to the year 2020 – is much like creating the planks in a political platform.  Determine the path you feel your business will need to travel for success; what strategies will you employ to make that travel as direct as possible; and what contingencies you may need should unforeseen obstacles arise.

With goals and objectives clearly laid out and more importantly, clearly articulated to your employees and contributors, you’ll find the vision will be clear.  And you’ll have a stronger than average turnout when it comes to electing that plan to a successful outcome.

For help in creating your own clear campaign trail, call Manning Media in Frederick, 301-620-7700 or in Hagerstown, 301-733-4500, or fill out our online request form by clicking HERE.

Answers to the Top 5 Questions About Your Digital Advertising Campaign:

  1. Why Don’t I See My Digital Ads When I’m Surfing the Internet?

The probability of seeing your ad “live” is very slim. Even if you type in the keywords we are utilizing as a part of your campaign or if you try to get yourself “Retargeted” from your own website the likelihood of crossing paths with your ad is minimal. This is because there are millions of ad impressions available on the internet and your campaign is but a small percentage of those millions of impressions. Subsequently, we do not bid on every impression or win every impression we do bid on. We will however, give you detailed monthly report that will show you where your digital display ads are placed and how successful each placement was. This allows us to make adjustments that keep your advertisements in front of the right audience.

  1. How Many Clicks Will My Ads Get?

The national average click-through-rate is .07%, meaning that for every 100,000 impressions delivered, there should be 70 clicks on the ad. However, during the third quarter of 2016, Manning Media provided 9,039,551 ad impressions and from the 9 million plus ads delivered, 18,488 clicks occurred, generating a superior .20 % average click through rate (CTR). And we also have the ability to track “View Through” impressions which means you can expect data on the number of people to come to your website after seeing your ad – even when they haven’t clicked on it!

  1. How Many of the People Who Click Will Convert Into Leads or Sales?

To figure this out you need to know  your typical website conversion rate.  In other words, of the people that typically visit to your website, how many of them take the action you want them to take?  If you know this percentage, multiply it by the number of clicks your ad is generating.

Example:  If you are running 300,000 impressions you should expect at least 210 people will click on the ad (that is using the national standard of .07% from above).  If you typically convert 5% of the visitors from your website, that would be 210 x 5% which means 10 conversions will be expected.

  1. Why is Driving Traffic to My Website So Important? 

Traffic to your website helps your improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Google uses data such as traffic to your website to help determine your raking in search results.

Additionally, a recent study by Invoca determined that 92% of calls to businesses in 2015 were driven by digital marketing and a 2015 Deloitte Digital survey determined that 64 cents of every dollar from in-store sales was influenced by the information derived by Internet search.

  1. Why Do You Require a Minimum Number of Impressions?

Digital ads, to work effectively, need frequency because the effects are cumulative. You need time for retargeting to kick in, conversions to be tracked and time to optimize.  In addition, the average person is exposed to 10,860 ads a month according to SJ Insights and only 3% of those impressions make an impact.  You need frequency to break through all the noise.

The expert marketing consultants at Manning Media can help answer all your questions about the best practices for radio, digital, interactive and mobile media that will get your business the attention it deserves. Call us in Frederick at 301-620-7700, in Hagerstown at 301-733-4500 or fill out our online request form by clicking HERE!

Communicating with Your Customer: Think Like a Jeopardy Contestant

People won’t buy from you simply because your company has the best product or the best service. They will not buy from you just because you are the nicest, the funniest, or the most charismatic sales person (though this certainly can’t hurt). People buy things that fulfill their personal needs.

This simple fact is true whether you are selling yourself, selling a product or selling an idea; selling to an individual consumer or selling business to business. The personal needs of whomever is wielding the credit card will undoubtedly play a major role in the decision to buy or not to buy.

According to Gene Bedell, author of “3 Steps to Yes: The Gentle Art of Getting Your Way,” the personal need to win or succeeded, the need for security and/or predictability, and the need for acceptance and approval are cited as three of the strongest personal needs rooted in the decision making process. Though there are many other needs that can influence a person’s purchasing choices, Bedell emphasizes that these basic three should never be discounted when your persuasive efforts are being applied.

If your version of “persuasive efforts” entails dumping a load of features and benefits into the customer’s lap, it is likely that this will not have the success rate you most desire because this method of selling does not provide the opportunity to learn what your customer really needs. To accomplish this you must engage him in conversation and shape your sales pitch into the form of a Q&A.

But according to hubspot.com, it is not enough to ask questions. You must also ask questions the right way. Blogger, Tony Alessandra offers “10 tips for Asking More Effective Sales Questions.” The ten suggestions for framing your questions provided by Alessandra are a good match to Gene Bedell’s idea of appealing to personal needs. If your sales pitch, even formulated into a question and answer format, bring about the feeling of uncertainty or hint at unpredictable outcomes this may make even the most highly qualified prospect skittish but by keeping your questions nonthreatening and avoiding unnecessary jargon, you help to make choices more risk free. Additionally, when you engage the consumer in this way, you take time to learn his needs and you may discover a competitive advantage that you didn’t even know you had.

Call Manning Media’s marketing experts today: 301-620-7700 in Frederick or 301-733-4500 in Hagerstown, or fill out our online request form by clicking HERE and get the answers to those $1,000,000.00 marketing questions that could keep your business out of jeopardy.


Bedell, Gene. 3 Steps to Yes: The Gentle Art of Getting Your Way. New York: Crown Business, 2000. Print.

Alessandra, Tony. “10 Tips for Asking More Effective Sales Questions.” Web log post. HubSpot Blogs | Marketing. N.p., 26 Feb. 2016. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. <http://blog.hubspot.com/sales/10-tips-ask-sales-questions-si#sm.018533on161pfj511ke1q0wbvlx94>.

Optimizing Your Call to Action (CTA)

Whether you are doing direct mail, digital display, radio, television, email marketing, print, or developing web content, a good marketing campaign must include a well-crafted Call to Action. It is widely agreed that the Call to Action, or CTA, is the most valuable component in your campaign since it serves as the definitive invitation to the consumer to respond to your message. This might be an obvious point but all-to-often a generic CTA is hastily slapped onto an inspired concept as an afterthought without weighing the implications.

When developing a new marketing campaign, any good marketer should ask who your potential recipients are. If your message is geared towards generating new business you will create different content than you would for an established customer base and therefor a CTA suggesting a firm action such as “call today” or “sign up now” might be premature, since the first step to attracting new customers is to establish interest.campaign direction flow chart

Another factor to consider when wording your CTA is whether or not all the information needed to make a decision is available. Marketing pieces such as direct mail, digital display, radio, television and print advertisements are designed to establish interest in your product or service but do not typically provide enough information for the consumer to make a final decision. Therefore, your call to action should be an invitation to gather more decision making data.

The desired goal of any marketing campaign is, of course, to convert interest into desire for your product or service but knowing where the consumer is in the conversion process can be a bit of a mystery. You can use the CTA to help unravel that mystery. By offering more than one Call to Action you can establish levels of interest and further convert consumers to prospects. The use of multiple CTAs is not a new concept but because traditional advertising puts limits on space and time, multiple CTAs have not always been the most desirable choice but now there are some new digital tools that make multiple CTAs a very viable option.



Mobile Conquesting or mobile ads that expand to fill the screen of your smart phone when clicked or touched are one such means of offering multiple choices that also greatly simplify the “Action” portion of the CTA. Up to three CTAs can be used in one Mobile Conquesting ad.

Using Java Script, your phone number is programmed into the mobile ad so users can take advantage of “tap-to-call technology”. Additionally, the advertisements can be programmed so that physical locations can be pinpointed and driving directions are generated based on GPS coordinates in the user’s phone. And, like all forms of digital advertising, the user can click through to your website where there is plenty of space available to educate and inform.


desire flow chart



Your website is the ideal location to utilize multiple CTAs. There you can offer different levels of commitment that match the prospects level of interest – allowing you to build trust, establish a track record of success, and fuel desire for your products and services.

Manning Media’s expert marketing consultants can help you tailor an invitation that will get consumers to commit. Call us in Frederick at 301-620-7700, in Hagerstown at 301-733-4500 or fill out our online request form by clicking HERE!

The Business Report Card: Using Surveys to Achieve an A+ Performance

The reason we receive report cards while attending school is to monitor our progress, determine the quality of our efforts and provide a baseline from which we can improve our performance. Some approach the day these documents are delivered with dread while others display gleeful anticipation and that outlook certainly has some correlation to performance.

As business owners and managers you certainly hear random comments and critiques from employees and customers and your initial reaction may be to disregard these evaluations as baseless bellyaching from the “Negative Nellies.” You may be inclined to brush the comments off or you may be listening to the rumblings but, since they are issued at random intervals, may have difficulty seeing the trends.

So, why not come right out and ask your employees and/or customers to give your business or your products a report card? We understand it can be difficult to hear frank reviews but just like the goal of the educational report card, direct and open feedback can help your business to grow and a survey can serve as that report card. Surveys can be an invaluable tool for gathering the random comments and complaints into a collective data source that can help you improve and help your business thrive.

According to Survey Monkey, the online survey platform, “Customer satisfaction surveys give you the insights you need to make better decisions. In fact, they have found that businesses who regularly measure customer satisfaction are 33% more likely to describe themselves as successful over those who do not perform any kind of business evaluations.”

Surveys can be used for all sorts of data gathering, not just to assemble a performance report card or customer service satisfaction levels. Survey your employees to see how you can help increase work/life balance or create a more harmonious corporate culture; survey expo attendees before attending a trade show to get a gauge of what they are expecting or what information they are most hoping to gather; survey the readers of your blog to find out if you are providing information on those topics they really want to read more about…the possibilities are endless.

The analytics, marketing and testing blog, Kissmetrics, confirms the value of the survey but makes it clear that the survey is only as good as the questions you ask. I have created the survey below by following the guidelines from their blog post, “Survey Questions that Work, How to Unlock Your Customers’ Deepest Desires.”   The primary factor I applied was to Keep It Simple – as the name of the blog implies.

Please feel free to send me your feedback and I will do my best to take your suggestions and apply them to future blog posts.

Call Manning Media Inc. in Frederick at 301-620-7700, in Hagerstown at 301-733-4500 or fill out our online request form by clicking HERE! We can help you with gather the data that will having you facing customer and employee feedback with gleeful anticipation.

Learning from the Fair

The event known to us today as the “Great Frederick Fair” was originally organized in the early 1800s by the Frederick County Agricultural Society as a cattle show and competition with the goal of promoting the livestock producers of Frederick County and to bring together producers of all sorts of farm commodities in one place to buy, sell, barter, trade, and share…

Today, the fair is representational of this original event, but has grown into an organization that brings the whole community together to share and learn from one another with an emphasis on educational programs such as 4H and Future Farmers of America (FFA). And In their efforts to nurture said programs, The Great Frederick fair has honed the skill of using entertainment to promote education and outreach for the agricultural industry.

Attendees to the Frederick County Fair, on average, 230,000 of them, are greeted with such a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, smells and tastes that they are blissfully unaware that they are being educated. Since all commercial entities have the job of educating, what businesses can learn from the fair is that by making education look more like fun and entertainment you can engage a much larger audience.

As the owner or manager of a business, you set the tone – enthusiasm for your product of service will transfer to your customers, transforming indifference into interest. You don’t have to fry Oreos and make funnel cake to get people’s attention but if you exhibit the sort of delight for your business that is exhibited at the fair, you will make a connection with the public.

This year marks the 154th Great Frederick Fair, taking place, as it has since 1867, on the 21 acres of land located at 797 East Patrick Street. Take some time to visit today, enjoy some “fair food”, talk to future farmers, and while you are there, think about ways to make your business more engaging, more like entertainment.

Want to talk to some entertainment experts? Call Manning Media Inc. in Frederick at 301-620-7700, in Hagerstown at 301-733-4500 or fill out our online request form by clicking HERE!


Get Customers to GET OUT – Out from behind their computers and into your store.

The number one reason consumers cite as their primary motivation behind shopping online is convenience. Conveniences such as 24 hour access to the products you want, delivered to your front door, while you are taking care of other, more important things.

Yeah, yeah – we hear you and we do not disagree – but is shopping online truly that convenient? It turns out that it is really not a fast process. Not when you consider that the average consumer can spend months researching products online, especially anything considered a “big ticket” item, comparing brands and reading reviews of both products and those who sell the products before spending a single dollar. And just think about how much of your Saturday slips away when you spend it in front of the computer looking for a single small ticket item like a pair of shoes.

If you are a brick and mortar retailer who is sitting in a physical location, wondering how to get people to walk through your doors, maybe it is time to examine the list of reasons why, like convenience, consumers do their shopping online – or better yet, why they do NOT shop online and use those reasons to your advantage…

According to Social Times, 69% of consumers who do shopping research online, ultimately do not buy online because they believe the return process will be too complicated.

In a past blog “The Importance of Great Customer Service” we stated the primary difference between you and an online retailer is the opportunity to provide a quality customer experience. Providing great in-store customer service is paramount and making sure your staff communicates policies like your return policy provides customers with confidence in their buying decisions but adjusting your policies to reflect the concerns of that afore mentioned 69% could mean the difference between an online purchase and one made in your store. Post statements such as “No Hassel Returns” on your website and throughout your store. Include a testimonial of a client who was wowed by your helpful return policy and you have boosted consumer confidence even more.

Many consumers choose not purchase items online because they do not want to pay the shipping costs or because their product will not be delivered soon enough for their particular needs.

This particular reason for not buying on-line is what will continue to drive shoppers into the retail space. However, many retailers are now making the choice to stock fewer item in their stores because of the decreased traffic. Then, when a consumer does come in the canned response from sales staff is typically something like, “I can order that for you.” However, do not be surprised if the consumer’s reply goes something like “I can do that myself” thus driving the consumer right back to the internet.

Social Times suggests that 54% of consumers long to touch, feel, see, and try on the products they are purchasing and even if your product is not something that requires a perfect fit – those tiny images on the internet can leave something to be desired.

So, combine this desire to interact with the product with the power of the internet by stocking several samples for the touch, feel, see, try on factor and provide an in-store electronic kiosk such as an iPad on a locked stand, loaded with product apps from the manufacturers, as a cool interactive catalog for selecting the particular color and/or design desired. Offer to drop-ship their selections to their home address and then supplement their need for instant gratification by upselling them with products you do have in stock.

Remember that the best way to get consumers to come through your doors is to invite them. It is too easy to stay at home and shop in your pajamas, so you have to give people a really good reason to show up. Manning Media’s expert marketing consultants can tailor an invitation that will prompt people to put on their pants and walk through you doors. Call us in Frederick at 301-620-7700, in Hagerstown at 301-733-4500 or fill out our online request form by clicking HERE!

A Holiday of Your Very Own

Many of you may already know the history of how Labor Day came to be but I have forged ahead each year simply looking forward to the long weekend and the knowledge that the kids would soon be immersed back into the daily routine of school.

I suppose intrinsically, I knew that the day had its connections to the Industrial Revolution and to the hard won institution of the modern American work force given its obvious title but on this weekend of barbeque (crabs here in Maryland), picnics, and parties it is easy to overlook that Labor Day is a celebration of the endowment of all those hardworking Americans who came before us as well as our very own contributions to the prosperity of our great nation.

So, from all of us here at Manning Media Inc., who know how hard you work all year, we wish you a safe and happy holiday weekend!


But hey – be ready to get back to work on Tuesday, September 6th because on that day, there will only be 79 days until the official start of the holiday shopping season (Black Friday).

Local Meets Digital

Local businesses are the heart of any community and the “Buy Local”/”Shop Local” movement, which began during the past recession, has been gaining momentum as municipalities as well as shoppers become more aware of how buying from independent business owners, as opposed to shopping online and at the big box retail chains, impacts their local economy.

Communities around the country have formed organizations and launched events dedicated to growing this awareness. The Buy Local Challenge was proposed by Frederick County, Maryland Office of Economic Development to encourage residents to purchase locally produced food items each day during Buy Local Week. By doing so, “in Maryland, if every household purchases just $12 worth of farm products for eight weeks, over $200 million will be put back into the pockets of our farmers.”

According to CNN Money, Local First Utah, an organization formed by Salt Lake small business owners, teamed up with the American Booksellers Association to perform an economic impact study and they were able to demonstrate that 55.3% of revenue earned from locally-owned businesses goes back to the local economy versus only 13.6% from the national chains.

While internet sales did account for as much as $808.59 Billion in B2C sales in 2014, the internet has also afforded small business with an ever growing source of digital tools to reach consumers more effectively than they ever could before. Not only do these digital tools help business owners increase their visibility and brand awareness but by employing certain specialized marketing technologies, businesses can connect with customers on a personal level that eclipses Facebook events and email blasts and can help bring people through the doors.

With tools such as Geo-Targeting, Geo-Fencing, and Mobile Conquesting you can reach right into your local market using digital display advertising that targets not only by demographics, but also behavioral traits and you can do all of this within a particular radius.

Driving Times to Local Businesses InfographicBright Local produced a consumer survey that asked consumers how far they were willing to travel for particular products and services.

If you know how far your consumer is willing to drive you can draw a circle around consumers within that geography and deliver your ads to that target.

If you know that your ideal customers are attending a particular event, you can draw a circle, literally longitude and latitude coordinates, around that event and deliver your message to those attendees.

Remember that big box retailer we mentioned, you can even draw a circle around that particular business location and deliver an alternative shopping experience to consumers who walk through their doors as well as dynamically updated data that shows the user the exact distance they are from your location (as well as a map to show them how to get there).

Manning Media, a locally owned and operated business, is using location based targeting combined with demographic and behavioral targeting to reach local consumers with display ads on their mobile devices and we can help you improve your reach into the local market too.

Call us in Frederick at 301-620-7700, in Hagerstown at 301-733-4500 or fill out our online request form by clicking HERE!