7 Technology Savvy Ways to Generate Business Leads

Companies are always on the lookout for the most effective ways to generate solid leads for their business. With the advent of technology in virtually all business sectors, some formerly “speculative” methods and tools are becoming the new tried-and-true.

The question we must ask ourselves is this: are we effectively harnessing technology to help produce leads, ignite business and grow revenue? Let’s take a look at some contemporary marketing strategies that can substantially increase your business agility, and the technology tools that make them possible.

1) Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM)

Make sure you are utilizing a CRM system to improve your relationship with existing customers, find new prospective customers, and win back former customers. CRM systems allow you to house and manage your contacts and effectively view and manage your pipeline, ensuring improved customer relations, better external and internal communication, and an in-depth understanding of your customers’ needs and behavior.

Tools: SalesForce, Act, Insightly

2) Email Distribution Software

Email distribution tools allow you to send out marketing emails in “blast” fashion, i.e. a whole lot at a time, from an address associated with your company. The software then provides analytics and immediate notifications of who bites the lure and when, allowing you to jump faster on qualified leads and up your conversion rates. These tools are great for narrowing and categorizing your targeted audiences, tracking and optimizing your distribution methods, and improving communication with your customers.

Tools: Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor

3) Marketing Automation Software

CRM and email mass distribution software are only the beginning. Marketing Automation integrates it all into one streamlined system that helps you manage and schedule complex digital marketing campaigns. Lead generation, nurturing and scoring, targeted audience segmentation, scheduled social media campaigns, customer lifecycle marketing, cross-selling and up-selling, customer retention, and marketing ROI measurement are all benefits of utilizing this behemoth of marketing technology.

Tools: Pardot, Eloqua, Sharp Spring

4) Webinars

Putting on a webinar is a great way to showcase a skill or topic and educate your audience about a particular subject. You can use this tool to help qualify a prospect and turn them into a true, bonafide lead.

Tools: Google + Hangouts, Webinars OnAir, Skype, GoToWebinar

5) Online Surveys

Using a survey is a great way to connect to both customers and prospects alike. By targeting your surveys toward specific audiences, you can even help convert prospects into leads.

Tools: Survey Monkey, ZOHO, Survey Gizmo

6) Commercial Social Networking

Just about everyone understands the importance of social networking these days. This is just another way to beef up your networking database and connect with influential people and targeted markets.

Tools: LinkedIn, AngelList, Beyond

7) Database Development

Using a database development tool to locate targets and get their information added to your database is crucial and a great way to connect to your desired prospects.

Tools: InfoUSA, NetProspex, AggData

At Brand Iron, we think it’s critical to figure out what you are trying to accomplish with your marketing activities and then take a detailed look at the best technology tools that can help get you there. Map out when and how you are going to use these tools, then get going. It’s never too soon to start generating more leads and driving revenue.

Donald Trump – Media Champion

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Whether you love him, hate him, or tolerate hate, one thing is for certain Donald Trump knows how to grab headlines like no other presidential candidate. Donald Trump has to believe in the old Public Relations adage that “all publicity is good publicity,” even if the facts don’t necessarily support all of his claims or you don’t like what he has to say.

Looking at Twitter this morning, Tweets regarding Trump are well over 1 million over the last several days. Even with the media going crazy over his Muslim comments and views, he knows how to harness media attention and stay in the headlines leaving all other candidates in the dust. Both the media and the public are going haywire over his comments, not only this week, but also regarding immigrants from Mexico, Megyn Kelly, and the list goes on and on since he announced he was running for President.

It may seem crazy, but it sure seems like Donald Trump is playing the media and using them to promote his run for President of The United States. I think he strategically says controversial things knowing it’s going to grab headlines and keep him in the headlines. When things slow down or there is a big media event he jumps into the fray, says something, and knows all too well he is going to get headlines and stay front and center in the news.

Can’t stand the guy or love him, Donald Trump is a Media Champion, like the kind we have never seen. As long as he stays in the Presidential race, we can continue to expect him to keep grabbing headlines and playing the media like fiddles in orchestras for media headlines and to become the next President of these United States.

3 Tips for Spring Cleaning your Social Media Strategy

spring cleaning

Although snow, ice and frigid temperatures are still recent memories for Denver, spring is technically here; and that means it’s spring cleaning time. But as you’re cleaning out the spare rooms and closets, don’t forget to de-clutter your social media strategy. These three tips should help you streamline your approach and continue the year with a simpler, more effective strategy.

  1. Use social media, just not all of it

Just because a platform exists, doesn’t mean your business should be using it. Twitter, for example, is an excellent tool for news organizations to quickly disseminate breaking information and updates; however, if your demographic is the 65+ age range, Twitter shouldn’t be your main social media outlet. According to the Pew Research Center’s data in 2014, just 10 percent of adults ages 65+ who use the internet also use Twitter. On the flip side, Facebook and Instagram are incredibly popular among young adults ages 18-29. Respectively, 84 and 53 percent of the internet users in this age group use these platforms as well.

The nature of your product or service should also be a factor. An indie rock band likely would not benefit from aggressive LinkedIn use, and Instagram and Pinterest wouldn’t be very helpful for a bank or financial services company. It’s not difficult to locate the big players in social media, but before you create an account, consider whether the platform is the best way to highlight what you have to offer.

  1. Map out your content strategy

Posting for the sake of posting never did anyone any good. Whether it’s posting infrequently or posting far too much, unplanned social media activity is at best ineffective and at worst unprofessional. Before actively engaging with any social media platform, plan your content strategy in a calendar format. Similar to the editorial calendars used by newspapers and magazines, a social media editorial calendar should include the days and times you plan to post as well as the types of content—both your own and others’—you plan to post.

Use the “measure twice, cut once” principle in your planning, making sure to identify possible pitfalls. For instance, will you really be able to post as often as you say you will? Do you have enough content of your own to post (case studies, blog posts, etc.) or will your social media strategy need to include sharing content applicable to your company from other sources?

Bonus Spring Cleaning Tip

Once you’ve cleaned out unnecessary posts and streamlined your posting strategy, consider a social media management tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to further simplify the nitty-gritty of daily posting.

  1. Aim for quality, not quantity, of followers

This one’s personal. Not so long ago, when I was an employee of a small newspaper, I attempted to drum up a social media following on Facebook by asking for followers, all of whom were my friends and most of whom didn’t live in the area at all. Needless to say, the followers I gained almost never interacted with the page. Where my strategy went wrong was that I neglected to appeal to the newspaper’s target market. Sure, our likes went up, but they were essentially empty followers because of the lack of engagement. With that in mind, don’t bother paying for followers (remember: it’s generally frowned upon by most social media sites). Instead, focus on gaining real, engaged followers and avoiding irrelevant or uninterested ones.

Further Reading





Stop Using Hashtags Outside of Social Media

One of the biggest mistakes a company can make trying to connect with a young audience is using social media slang in any marketing initiative outside of social media. Hashtags are a great tool and completely appropriate for any business to use on social media. However, using hashtags in print, radio or television could alienate the very people you are trying to connect with.

Everyone can remember a time when someone tried to use a slang term and used that term in the wrong context. Odds are that person did not impress anyone with their knowledge of the slang term. More likely, that person brought attention to a cultural gap and lost credibility.

This exact same thing occurs when companies use slang terms outside of social media. It is pandering and young audiences do not identify with it. It is more likely to turn off the target audience then win over any new audience.

OMG, LOL and BTW should not be used in marketing, and neither should #anything. So please think before you hashtag, and remember which medium you are using.



U.S. Men’s Soccer: Boom or Bust?


Every four years, the flags, the chants and the colorful scarfs come out from hibernation in preparation for what is one of the largest sporting spectacles in history.  Already into the midway point of June, the hoopla that is the World Cup is in full swing.  Will the U.S. soccer team shock the world or will they succomb to the doubters who believe their group is too difficult of a foe?  With the renowned and decorated but unproven Jurgen Klinsmann at the coaching helm and the absence of our American soccer hero, Landon Donovan, the team heads into its first match against Ghana with many questions.   Two major changes for the face and brand of the U.S. Men’s Soccer team without one single World Cup match under their belt.

But with doubts there are always hopes.  Hopes of a bright future for U.S. Mens Soccer.  Hopes that the Klinsmann move was genius and finally brings the American soccer talent and brand to the forefront.  Hopes that the combination of inexperienced and young will prove to be a darkhorse. Many people fear the unknown, but in the case of the U.S. Men’s Soccer team, the unknown means little to no comparison to previous failures and letdowns.  So it may be safe to say that there are hopes with little expectations.  The moment the U.S. was given their draw in the intimidating and strong “Group G”, Americans’ hearts dropped.  Was it that FIFA was possibly worried of the U.S. potential or maybe that it was only fitting to place the United States in the strongest group in Brazil, staging the match of Klinsmann against his home nation of Germany?  We will never be certain the reasoning but we do know the Americans are heading into a David versus Goliath story.

Though the United States is a member of this “Group of Death,” the team and brand of soccer in the U.S. has taken a step in the right direction.  In order to be successful and prevalent in this sport, it was necessary that a change of direction was made.  Did the Klinsmann hire seem out of the ordinary, crazy, but potentially brilliant all in one?  Perhaps.  Did the cut of Donovan make the entire nation second guess such hire?  No doubt.  But with back to back exits in 2006 and 2010 to Ghana, a team who also joins this Group G, there wasn’t time to second guess or hesitate.  The Americans have a score to settle with Ghana beginning tonight and if they succeed with this revenge, a tone can and will be set.  The “I believe that we will win” montra will truly turn from a coined chant to true belief and confidence that we can win.  The U.S. soccer name and brand has gotten stronger within the last decade and the euphoria surrounding this team since it bowed out in 2010 has been building at a rapid rate.  Will 2014 be the year we are propelled as a legitimate competitor or will such hopes be crushed within 90 minutes?  We are one and a new beginning starts tonight…Ole Ola.

3 “Lucky” Traits for Every Entrepreneur

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are the traits according to Entrepreneur that entrepreneurs and business professionals can adopt from the Irish in order to create their own luck!

1. Be courageous

Learn from these Irish leaders who had to fight for their freedom: Queen Maeve who ruled Ireland in 100 A.D., the “Pirate Queen” Grace O’Malley who beat Queen Elizabeth in a battle and Irish politician Michael Collins, who lead the Irish cessation from England. As an entrepreneur, you may need to put your security and financial life on the line. You need courage to surmount past whatever battles may come your way. “Maybe you’ll be lucky straight off and maybe you won’t, but you can take a note from the Irish and increase your odds of luck by being courageous in your entrepreneur endeavors.”

2. Be creative

Learn from the famous Irish poet William Butler Yeats, literary James Joyce, artist group U2 and songstress Enya who tapped into their creativity to achieve success. “Creativity promotes flexibility of the mind and a flexible mind is a great tool for creating ‘luck’ out of opportunities and challenges.”

3. Be persistent

The first female president, Mary Robinson served Ireland from 1990 to 1997 but did not stop there. She was appointed the United Nations high commissioner for human rights from 1997 to 2002 and founded Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative to influence policy makers about securing human rights on a global level. Robinson currently also serves as the chair to the board of The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. “Be persistent of the things that really matter to you and be open to opportunities that will help you in unexpected ways”

Protecting Your Brand Name

At Brand Iron, we see companies looking to make changes to their brands everyday. Often times this means changing the name of a current company or coming up with a brand new name for new company. Naming is a vital step in laying the foundation for creating a successful brand name.

Finding a name for your company can be difficult and when you’re changing your name there are many things to consider. The process can be time intensive, but at the end of the day the name of your company will be the first thing your customers will relate to. You will want a name that is creative, relatable, and protectable.

Research is the first step and most essential step to finding a name. It is highly important to analyze your industry and competitors. You want to choose a name that will differentiate you in your industry and make you stand out in the eyes of your customers.  Ian Gibson, a California trademark attorney, who specializes in trademark law gives advice in one of his recent articles, he says, “A basic tenet of branding is the importance of crafting a name that sets you apart. Ideally, this is a unique identity that instantly gives your customers a feeling about your brand and clearly identifies your business as the source of certain goods or services.” Gibson continues on and makes his most important point, “No matter where you are in the branding process, it’s important to ask: how protectable is your brand name?” He stresses the importance of trademarking your brand. If a brand is left unprotected competitors will be able to use your brand name to take market share and dilute the value of your brand.

The most effective way to assert exclusive rights to a business name is to have your name registered as a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). When trying to register a name with the USPTO there are many things to keep in mind. Understanding the process will give you the best chance to find a name that is effective and protectable.

First, we need to understand a bit about how trademark applications are evaluated. Understanding what type of name you have will directly relate to the opportunity you have of obtaining a trademark. Below is the continuum that all names are analyzed by.

Generic — Descriptive — Suggestive — Arbitrary — Fanciful

(shown left to right from weakest to strongest)

Generic and Descriptive names will have little chance of being protected through trademark because protecting them would give an unfair advantage in the marketplace. Giving one company the sole right to use generic descriptions in that industry would make it impossible for other companies to marketing their services without infringing on trademark laws. Therefore the USPTO will never allow you to trademark those generic industry terms.

One of the most effective naming strategies is to create your brand using arbitrary names, created by using words with common meanings in a way that has no connection to the goods or services offered — i.e., APPLE is used to for a tech company. However, for the best way to get your brand name protected by USPTO is to create a fanciful name. These are brand names that have come from invented words with no prior common meaning or are completely out of common usage, made for the sole purpose of functioning as a trademark or service mark. A few well known examples include PEPSI, CLOROX and EXXON.

It must be noted that when choosing Arbitrary or Fanciful brand names you will have to educate your target audience on what your company does since the name does not naturally imply the services or products offered. You will have to use marketing and advertising strategy to inform your audience and create your unique brand and industry distinction. However, by building your brand you will be able to stand out in your industry creating future brand value.

Check out the USPTO’s “Basic Facts About Trademarking,” for information.


What’s Stirring Up at SXSW?

After seeing these four letters – SXSW – everywhere this past week, I was intrigued – what is this SXSW craze?

According to Wikipedia, SXSW (South by South West) is a “set film, interactive and music festivals and conferences that take place every spring” in Austin, Texas. This year it began this past Friday, March 7, and runs through Sun., March 16. SXSW is the highest revenue-producing event for Austin ($190.3 million estimated revenue in 2012) and largest music festival of its kind.

SXSW’s original goal was to create an event that would act as a tool for creative people and the companies they work with to develop their careers, to bring together people from a wide area to meet and share ideas.” SXSW is much more than a typical music festival, packing in key note speakers, mentor sessions, workshops and more – ideal for generating connections and even making deals.”

Not only is SXSW an event for new artists, film producers and tech start-ups to get discovered (this happened to John Mayer and James Blunt), but major brands are getting noticed as well. I gained insight in the fact that SXSW is a HUGE marketing bonanza. The most clever tactics involve satisfying needs or solving problems for attendees. Entrepreneur reports companies providing survival kits, along with some notable mentions. Samsung delivered new phone batteries on bike to people who texted #PowerOn, PPLConnect sent a representative to wait in line for you if you downloaded their app and Cottonelle offered a Refresh Lounge with free massages, makeup touch ups and hair blowouts. Attendees are likely to remember these brands more than if they were just given a pen or note pad. These brands delivered real experiences and likely made a difference in their day. Rescuing people from a dead phone or melted make-up can go a long way.

Pinterest Marketing Tips

Don’t think you have time for expanding your social media activity to networks like Pinterest? Think again. Pinterest boards help tell your brand’s story with visual engagement that boosts referrals to your website or product page.

“According to Sprout Insights, Pinterest’s share of social-media referrals soared from .68 percent to a whopping 26 percent in just one year, generating more than 400 percent more revenue per click than Twitter and 27 percent more than Facebook.”

In order gain from time and effort spent on Pinterest, we must remember that prime objective with Pinterest is not to pitch to your potential customers, but appeal to them by offering value, such as “humor, statistics, interesting facts and beauty.”

  1. Share infographics and checklists with interesting facts about your industry, consumer habits or your product/service
  2. Evoke emotions with images, words and phrases that trigger the five senses
  3. Engage with videos from YouTube
  4. Use a call to action with text like: “Click Here, Repin This, or Comment Below”
  5. Grab them with teaser text: “10 Tips for…, How to…”
  6. Boost your SEO with keywords in the About section, on pins, in board titles, captions, links and hashtags
  7. Schedule your pins with Viraltag or Curalate

Brand Iron Critiques NEW 9News Website

9News launched a new website yesterday – we very well know that this is an exciting moment. It’s the time to celebrate the hard work, the evolution, the transformation of a vision into a reality. You’ve already spent time crawling the site and making fixes before the launch – glitches, dead links, images that don’t load, etc. However, there’s bound to be  a need for additional adjustments post-launch. That’s why this is also a critical time to make those adjustments before you drive away your visitors.

So what’s new? The new website incorporates some of the latest web design trends:

  • Grid-style layout (think Pinterest) with dynamic image captions
  • User-friendly icons
  • Lots of images & videos accessible from the home page
  • Animated transitions (news articles pop-up instead of bring you to a new page & the page “slides” across when traveling through pages)


Now that you know some of the new elements, our Graphic Designer Jon Lambert and Web Developer Anthony Simone, dove deep into the site to give you the pros and cons according to design and user experience.


  • The logo and main navigation bar move and reorder when you scroll down the page.
  • Dynamic content is continuously loading. New articles are brought up without having to reload the page.


  • The site rearranges itself based on window size to an extent, but doesn’t give any options for medium to small sized desktop and laptop screens.
  • Past the top level navigation, the pages seem cluttered and a bit confusing to find your way around.
  • Animations aren’t responding consistently throughout the site.
  • Right sidebar repeats the content on the left (see picture below).


Recommendations for Improvement

  • If the site is going to respond to window width but also have a separate mobile version, allow the responsive aspect of the site to go down to at least tablet or small laptop size for usability.
  • Having the small elements (i.e. individual articles) load dynamically without page reload is great because it allows for easy access. However, making the entire high level sections of the site load dynamically has diminishing returns in regards to usability and seems to affect the proper function of the site on some tablets.
  • Replace repetitive content in the sidebar with items like “Featured Video” and “Producer’s Picks.”

9News – we understand you are currently in post-launch adjustment mode working out the kinks to reduce the “visual headache.” We hope this is constructive and doesn’t tear you apart like some of your critics: