Thursday, December 17, 2020

CSIT 155 FA 20 GregB - Week 16 Wrapping it Up

When I first started thinking about taking this class I  discussed this with our owner and her response was that Social Media was primarily for connecting with old friends and would not offer much value. But now having taken and finished the class I realize that there is a huge impact on how a business can communicate with both existing customers and potential new ones and increase our companies brand. Durable Casters has to get with the program and think outside the box. This class was our first step in evolving. 

At the end of 2019 we had signed up for and planned on participating in at least 10 trade shows. The Covid pandemic caused all of these live events to be cancelled. Therefore, I had to develop a new strategy for reaching clients. The timing for me taking this class could not have been better. I now realize that the traditional ways of calling on customers has changed. And Durable Casters needs to adapt to keep up with the changing marketplace. We can still pass out and mail out catalogs but the biggest and best return will require a marketing strategy that uses Social Media.

By developing a Facebook page and signing up for Instagram I see the benefits. Several of my existing customers have reached out to me and complimented me and my company for trying to develop our brand online. There has been an impact. For example, one of our primary dealers in Orange County noticed my Facebook page and linked this with my Instagram post on our new Hi Temp Bakery Rack Wheels. We received an order based off this information.

I now understand that Social Media is not just about looking up old friends. Social Media has transformed us by allowing Durable to get in front of a target customer. 

With the use and development of LinkedIn we now change the way we communicate with potential customers. I have been able to expand our online presence and the days of handing our catalogs and business cards are a thing of the past.  We have danced around with this site for few years but now I understand how to use it.

I looked up some statistics and about half the world is on social media every day so its makes sense that we now incorporate this as part of a marketing strategy. I feel excited that I can convince our staff that we can build long term relationships with our customers. Once our clients become more aware of our brand I can utilize this to find new markets that we currently do not serve.

Durable does absolutely no business with the US Military and we plan on developing a strategy to penetrate this market segment. We know that buyers are online shopping and the next step is to profile a select group of casters that will be approved by the military.

Finally, for me personally, I will continue to learn about the various social platforms and explore ways to connect and stay relevant. I understand the evolution of social media and how it can help Durable Casters grow. The changes in technology are coming more rapidly everyday and for a guy that started out his career using a pager I have come along way. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

CSIT - 155 FA 20 - Greg B - Week 15 Marketing Plan

I plan to use and implement several of the social media sites that we learned about in class.


As discussed in the text, Facebook is the number one social network in the world and up until the time I signed up to become a member my employer,  Durable Casters had never signed up or taken an active role in developing our brand through this site.

I now understand this is not just website for looking up and connecting with old friend but rather a marketing avenue to connect with others as friends and improve our company through the use of likes, connecting profiles, joining groups, and most importantly for our business using the Facebook, " pages ", to build our brand and engage both potential customers and existing customers.

Facebook can offer Durable a tremendous opportunity to spread our footprint and engage in enough content to promote likes that in return help us improve our name in the industry.

Currently, very few of my competitors use Facebook and they have not yet learned the advantages of using this platform as a marketing device. I am hoping they stay ignorant and ignore it. Because I plan to focus on this aspect of our business.

As discussed in earlier blog posts, our business model has changed due to the Covid crisis and customers and potential clients are using the internet to find casters for their applications. Which means we have to change and adapt.


Instagram is my favorite social media site that we discussed this fall term. This is a free photo sharing site and the ability to share images is the best thing that I have found. I think our casters translate well through images and videos and I plan on using this to promote our capabilities. The text mentions that Instagram works best when you have something beautiful to share. I like the idea of promoting new casters, wheels, accessories, that my customers can see. Additionally, by using generic hashtags I think Durable can come up with categories that a customer can search and find using this site.

Instagram provides our caster company the following benefits:

More businesses are joining so this is a growing sector. Its easy to target my audience ( buyers and engineers ). Customers like the visual aspect. We can engage with customers and identify where they spend there time. Finally, its great for building our brand and building up user content.


Before taking this class I though this platform was strictly for finding a new job. But I have learned there is much more that I can do with this site to improve our business.

Lead Generation: Though networking and keeping the company page up to date Durable USA can brand itself as an expert and help potential customers identify which caster or wheel to use.

Increased Exposure  - With a company page that is constantly updated this is a great way to gain attention for your business.

Credibility - One can show off a new product and through the " Recommendations Page " I can receive more referrals based on positive comments by past customers.

Accomplishments  - I can build up future clients and show off a bit by touting our products that others have purchased.  This is almost, like a testimonial that helps customers select our company and products rather then the competition.

We plan on hiring a full time digital marketer to help develop our social media strategy. This will become a monthly business strategy whereby we promote either a new product or a success story each week or maybe quarterly.

Calendar 1st Quarter for Social Media Marketing Plan - Durable Casters


January - Begin posting weekly pictures of our spring catalog on Instagram.

February -  Introduce Durable Casters in Facebook.

March  - Produce new company video of our new Canadian Factory located in Ontario. This will be posted in both Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

April  - Introduce new short promotional video on our Guatemala Factory/Distribution Center located in Mexico. This will be posted on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

May -  Create a new, branded, success story on both all three websites with a brief synopsis on how we solved a problem for our customers.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

CSIT 155 - FA 20: GregB - Homework Week 14 Social

Durable USA

Part 1

My company is a manufacturer and distributor of industrial casters and wheels. In order to build our online presence and increase our maximum search engine optimization I think we could benefit by using the following metrics through Google Analytics.

1. How do we stack up against our competition? Fortunately most of our competitors still think the business model for the caster & wheel business is a traditional brick and mortar type of business. After taking this class I now realize we can expand the scope of our footprint by taking steps to increase our web identity. This does not mean setting up an online website whereby customers can order but rather engaging in a more dynamic marketing program that tells our story vs. the competition. We need to sell potential customers on our brand.

Facebook allows us to help identify some of these statistics to help examine our marketing program. One example, is measuring the amount of likes we receive. 

2. We can measure what regions are customers are located. This would help areas of growth opportunities. For example, should we target market food equipment manufacturers on the West Coast vs. the East Coast or South.

3. It would be useful knowing knowing whether customers are downloading our catalog or prints to distinguish buyers from shoppers.

4. Analyze which websites are sending us traffic or visitors. This information would help us focus on which search engines are helping us in referrals.

5. Our ranking on Google, which right now is very low.

6. Finding out what products our visitors are looking at. This would help us structure the particular casters to promote.

Finally, do our customers that engage on our website actually buy?  Difficult to measure but by using such a website as Facebook the more likes we have the better our chances for increasing sales.

Part II

I don't have anywhere near enough likes to process the data from Facebook but I will try to extrapolate using the data from Aztec as it applies to my business.

The Covid Pandemic has also affected our business in numerous ways with many unforeseeable results.  In the Spring we saw a huge spike in orders from customers that were trying to convert and use existing and most often idle machinery and utilize their workers to build equipment for Covid related applications. Ventilators,  respirators, IV Poles, you name it and we were shipping casters for these type of requirements. So for a few months it was all hands on deck and business was booming. Most of the requests came from either an existing customer or a referral. For example, I sold 80,000 2" casters for IV poles for the State of MI. I would summarize by stating our reach was extending to all sectors of the market all over North America. Even saw a boost in orders from Canada.

After the initial rush, things began to slow down and we hit a lull during late summer. By Fall, business started picking up again and has remained steady with several new projects in the pipeline. So the data would show two peaks and valley with a rise starting in late August.

Most of the reach was existing customers using our stock to fill hot orders.

One can infer likes are growing and we are engaging with many new clients. Some were from linkedin since we are posting more and on a more consistent basis. But the data does not lie and we have seen a spike in non traditional customers due to the buzz in the marketplace.

Friday, November 20, 2020

CSIT 155 - 1689 FA 20 GBurke - Week 13 Online Ads Part A & Part B

Part A

I am a car guy. Enjoy looking at all the new models. Currently, I am in the market for a new car and have been looking at cars online and specifically was looking at new SUV's. I liked the Toyota Brand ads that are on Facebook. The photos' show multiple photo's of various cars and videos of cars. I think these types of ads are effective in generating some enthusiasm for the models and brands. For someone in the market for a new car they draw you in and are both visually appealing and as mentioned the imagery of a new car is enticing.

The most effective car ads that encourage you to buy are the testimonials from everyday owners that endorse a particular model. It encourages brand loyalty when you read how happy an owner is with their car. I do read and take in consideration another car owners experience. I think a positive review is persuasive. For me, this is part of the process of purchasing. Getting feedback from owners.

I also like ads that Toyota has on Facebook showing their cars out on the highways. They are well done and relatable.

The ads that I find that are annoying are basically the same ones that I clicked on to see what they have to offer.

Both Omaha Steaks and Harry & David come to mind. I have ordered off both websites before for gifts but once the user looks at their ads they never stop coming. They relentless and bombard you with daily specials that I neither want or care about. I think they both go overboard with their tenacity and if fact probably turn off potential customers. Enough is enough.  

Traditionally, I would look at ads in magazines or newspapers. I can remember I even bought my first life insurance policy based on an ad in the San Diego Union. But those days are gone and everything is geared to social media.

Historically, traditional marketing, i.e. radio, tv, newsprint, magazines, is expensive and you need to commit to a long term plan and deal with budgets and costs.

I think Social Media is much more affordable. Basically, you need to spend your marketing dollars in a more strategic manner. For example. we use to send out tons of catalog at Durable to potential clients. This is expensive and also very difficult to measure a return. We never really were able to ascertain if this type of approach actually resulted in sales revenue.

Today, we can plan a strategic ad through a social media website and get instant feedback on whether we are generating any interest. The costs are cheaper and the results are much easier to define.

Reporting and analytics are easier to ascertain on Social Media websites like Facebook. Statistics can be updated in real time, with hard information. From there we can decide which ads to use or take down.

In conclusion, its much easier to market your products through Social Media and I can now target a specific market segment and avoid the uncertainty with our traditional, mass catalog mailer.

Part B  - Advertising

I have three ads all downloaded and posted both on my Instagram account and my blog. The objective to alert our customers about new products.

The first ad is our new hi - temp oven rack wheel. This wheel is for the baking industry.  Anyone that is involved in industrial baking i.e. bread, bagels, churros. etc. has to use racks that slide in an out of ovens. The ovens are industrial size and each rack holds up to 400 lbs. This first ad is targeted to that specific application. My target customer would include both Costco and Sam's Club. The call to action would be my email for the contact. I did consider adding a price but decided against that.

My second ad for our non marking bumpers. The bumpers are used on carts for both the protection of the cart and the particular application  -  office, restaurant, or the hospitality industry. The corner bumpers are especially useful and can be mounted on each corner of a cart for protection.

My ad details outlines the product offering with contact information.

   The final ad is our new Conductive Wheels. These are used in the electronic manufacturing industry.
   The wheels were designed to dissipate electrical currents. This is relatively new area of opportunities     with chip manufacturers like Intel as a target customer.  Enclosed are phone and website to stir some 
   potential quote activity which leads to sales.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

CSIT - 155 - FA Greg B - Homework Week 12 Business Tools Online

 I am reviewing Yelp, a service called Blue Corona, and Twitter.


Yelp is a website that has become significant for influencing online comments for a particular business or to share information on an experience. It is one of the most popular social networking sites and features user generated content, that is based on your personal experience.

I frequently use this website to make many of my daily decisions. For example, where to eat, where to stay, what to visit, who to use. Its become part of my decision making process. I rely on the comments from others to help make my decisions. So Yelp has a tremendous amount of influence in generating revenue for a business. If the reviews are favorable ( from other users ) then I will usually go with their recommendations.  This online networking site is influencing customer behavior and thus something I need to consider for my company.

One uses Yelp by signing up, and creating a personal account. You create a profile and once signed up you are now part of the Yelp community and post reviews.

The major benefit that I can take away from using Yelp for my companies business is to have positive word of mouth reviews recommending Durable Casters for your caster needs. We don't have any reviews now on this site but I think it may help us.

The negative aspect would be if a customer had a bad experience and posted this. Could have adverse affects to our reputation and business. So it is important that you fulfill the clients experience in a positive manner. Many businesses currently suffer from people posting bad reviews. This can hurt you. Yelp uses a star type of review system. With 1 star a bad experience up to 5 stars which is excellent. It would be very important that your team, especially, the customer service team realize that they need to provide quality service. As mentioned, a negative review based on a bad review could convince others that are online and reading this information to avoid buying our casters.

My competition: I looked up several caster companies that I compete with and although several are listed on yelp none had any reviews. Not sure why but buying casters more often then not is a one time purchase. The products tend to last forever with some exceptions so this is not like say a restaurant or retail operation. Products are primarily sold wholesale. I may be able to take advantage of this fact if we decide to sign up.

From research on Yelp I found that 92% of Yelp visitors make a purchase after visiting this social network. 42% will make the purchase the same day they read your reviews. So this site has some major influence on your business.

The keys are the following: For Durable Casters to receive good, consistent reviews: Sign us as a company with our profile,  provide excellent customer service ( both on the phone and proper email etiquette) earn good ratings from customers, this is very important,  respond quickly to a negative review, and with ratings that increase with more stars enjoy more sales growth. After all we are a profit oriented company and the bottom line is to increase revenues.

Blue Corona

I found this Social Media Marketing Service by browsing the internet.

Blue Corona offers a number of service to help you market your company on the internet. What I found interesting was the Social Marketing program. They emphasize: Tracking, Test, Tweak, and Repeat. So they focus on a strategy that uses data to help achieve your sales goals.

Blue Corona will conduct a competitors analysis and check out why we may be losing out on customers. What is the competition offering that has increased their audience size. This would be very helpful. Next, help us Post and scheduling regular posts that monitor interaction and find out if customers our engaging with us.

Next, create data driven customized target campaign to help grow our brand.

Track our social campaigns which at this point are very limited.

Mange our social reputation and feedback and finally integrate these efforts through a social website like Facebook.

I think Blue Corona is hitting each aspect that would be important to Durable Casters. I liked all of their proposals and although their is a cost it may well be worth it.


I decided to look at Twitter because its always on the news with the President tweeting and I really don't understand it. Why should I care about Twitter and can it help my business? It was my understanding that this is a strictly social network ( I was wrong again ) but after reading up on this site it does have an entire business element that may be useful.  There are over 275 million active users so I think this is something we need to get involved with. If there are that many users then there must be something of value to this.  I found that much like the other marketing sites you need a profile and a create a Twitter handle. Twitter recommends something short and easy to remember. Easy enough.

Twitter states that they are the number #1 platform for discovery. And that 53% of the people on Twitter are more likely to be the first to buy new products. So they have a very large following. And if the data is accurate this results in purchases.

By doing some research online I have found the that 80% of all Twitter users mention a brand in a tweet. Currently, Durable does not use Twitter but if this true then perhaps I need to sign us up. That is good exposure and excellent word of mouth advertising.  Much more effective then our traditional way of mailing out catalogs and brochures. The caster business is not exactly cutting edge.

The main goal as I understand it is to create a Twitter Marketing Strategy - Well ours would be simple. Promote the Durable Brand. We want new customers which equals more sales.

So Twitter much like Blue Corona and others helps you identify the competition, next audit your account ( review and critique the performance of your Tweets. Are we posting the right content, is the posting consistent.  Next, see if you can quantify a return on your investment.  ROI is important and necessary if we are going to devote our limited resources to this program.

Twitter also places emphasis on leads and are the leads turning into sales. After all that is the reason we would sign up and dedicate resources to tweeting.

Finally, this is not a one time shot in the dark.  To use Twitter effectively this process has to be given sufficient time to work. So we would need to stick to a strategy for at least a year and repeat our tweets to achieve our sales goals. 

In conclusion, Twitter looks like it would be good for reaching new customers and this is another effective,  marketing tool for increasing our sales. I am going to recommend we sign up for this.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

CSIT - 155 - FA Greg B - Homework Week 11 Marketing & Using LinkedIn

I remember the first time I was introduced to LinkedIn. It was several years ago and I was meeting with a customer in Tempe, AZ and he asked me if I had joined LinkedIn and created a profile. I told him that I had no clue what he was talking about. My customer told me this was a new way of connecting with customers, competitors, and potential clients. I remember going back to my hotel that night and looking up their website to check it out. 

The next day I met with another customer which happened to be U - Haul which is also located in Tempe. In the course of our meeting I happened to ask the Purchasing Manager about LinkedIn and he had also joined up and was told by his boss that it was the latest, and greatest thing to do. Everyone was doing it and this was a great way to stay connected to everyone. So I followed the herd and joined the site.

That was all it took to convince me to sign up and check out the site. Heck if the buyer at U Haul said its good then I better get on board.  That night in my hotel room, I filled in my profile and being naturally suspicious refrained from posting too much information I wanted to see what this new networking platform was all about and what I could use it for.

As it turned out, not much. I did receive emails from recruiters looking for potential candidates for their open positions but other than that I did not see the value of signing up. After all, I already had a job and was not interested in leaving.

Soon I figured out that if I began surfing the search bar I could find information on companies that I wanted to set up as new customers. Ok, I finally, found some value in this and began to use this as a marketing/prospecting tool for chasing down new customers.

I mentioned this aspect to another dealer I had in the Bay area and they cautioned me about connecting with potential customers. I asked why and he told me that my competitors could see my contacts and reach out to them and use my information to lay claim to my clients. That was a reality check and since my by industry is small and filled with insidious, cutthroat competitors  I backed off on using LinkedIn for fear I was feeding my competitors.

So for the next several years I barely looked at my profile and was only mildly interested and really only looked at the site when I received a notification by email that someone was checking me out. 

However, within the last year when the Pandemic hit I was forced to change how I go about finding customers and staying in touch with potential customers that things began to change for me with regards to this site. I was forced to find a new way to stay connected I could no longer travel and see clients.

Today, I actually use LinkedIn.  Reasons Why: I have connected with former customers, and former employees. This had lead to some new sales. Which is a good thing. People move around and change jobs. So this is one way to keep in touch. If you actually make a new contact or resurrect an old one which leads to a deal then that is a success.  Next,  I participated in some networking events which are hosted online. Another good way to mingle and I don't even have to pick up the bar tab. Furthermore, I was attracting questions through the site from companies asking for some advice on products. Much like a consultant. So I found value in sharing this information.

Most people use this to look for a new job or in many cases fill out a job application through the site. This is now a common practice. And I get that is one of the primary functions for anyone joining.

But for me I use this to write messages ( I have the free version so not all contacts want unsolicited comments, if you pay $$$ you an get more access )  and stay in contact with both current customers and potential customers. I probably log on it at least twice a week.  For anyone considering this I would now recommend it and sign up and create a profile. You want to invite people to join your network and that way you can gather contacts and connect with other LinkedIn users. It is all about creating new opportunities and that is how you boost your profile.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

CSIT 155 FA - GBurke - Week 10 Email Marketing

 Email Marketing

1. My company sends a monthly email promotion which is intended to both introduce customers to potential new products and also inform which industries may use these products. So at least 12 times a year we are either introducing something new or attempting to resurrect a new product launch.

We sell casters and wheels and I am in charge of growing our sales so everything we do to generate sales. Our customers are looking for new products to promote. Currently, our customer base is 60% distribution and 40% OEM. 

Most of the promotions of all our promotions are aimed specifically at our dealers that may be unaware of our newest products or we tend to recycle some existing products and we are trying to remind them and solicit new orders.

We try to balance the amount information we send out and with short email blasts that are attached at the bottom of our email signatures.

We are not sending out newsletters.  Personally, I receive a ton of random, unsolicited emails for business promotions and almost 95% of the time I hit the delete button. I just don't have the time or interest to read everything sent to me.

I can only think of a view such type of emails that I might open up and check out to see if there are any specials that might be interesting. I do read the emails from Omaha Steaks, and Harry & David to see if there are any food specials that may perk my interest. But both companies overwhelm you with daily emails so that can get annoying. 

2. The information that my business is trying to convey is specific and aimed at a certain target market segment. For example, we have identified the electronic rack and enclosure industry as a new growth sector. Many social networking companies are now investing in their own hardware services and we have provided casters casters for Facebook, Salesforce, and Google. So we created a mailer for these type of customers. The business machine caster listed below is an example.

I am enclosing a few other examples of some email signature promotions that we have used this year. With the Pandemic I have had to change our strategy for reaching customers. Only within the last month or so have I made any in-person sales calls. 

I sell casters and wheels which are used in an industrial applications. This is a niche market and I have found that most of my customers are interested in short, bullet point type of presentations.

Part 2.

I commented Palomar Sports, Julia's Deserts, and Jumping Jelly Bean. Some good ideas. I think the newsletter that Jumping Jelly Bean  wants to send out monthly is a great way to connect with your customers.

CSIT 155 FA 20 GregB - Week 16 Wrapping it Up

When I first started thinking about taking this class I  discussed this with our owner and her response was that Social Media was primarily ...