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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Remi Group BOOK CLUB: Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah

The Remi Group BOOK CLUB is back with a rave review of Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. The authors met at MIT as graduate students and in 2006, started Hubspot – an inbound marketing software company; Brian Halligan is the Chief Executive Officer and Dharmesh Shah is the Chief Technology Officer. Today, Hubspot is a multi-million dollar company with over 4,000 customers in 31 countries.

That being said, Inbound Marketing was written with the intention of sharing not only the why of inbound marketing, but also the how. The book is 226 pages spanning 16 chapters, which are broken up into four parts – Part One: Inbound Marketing, Part Two: Get Found by Prospects, Part Three: Converting Customers, and Part Four: Make Better Decisions. Each part addresses specific issues encountered when implementing an inbound marketing strategy; and there is a helpful “To Do” list at the end of each chapter.

As a newcomer to marketing and part of a team that has a significant outbound marketing strategy, I found myself taking pages and pages of notes and creating my own to do list while reading the book to help create a unique and valuable inbound marketing strategy. One of the main themes throughout the book is to create remarkable content on a variety of different sites (i.e. company website and various social media sites) to give prospects different avenues to engage the company. The other recurring theme is to always track your progress by any means available, i.e. # of followers, subscribers, or sites linking to yours, Google Analytics, or Marketing Grader.

Like other companies out there who are fairly new to inbound marketing and social media, The Remi Group has come a very long way and is actively participating in a company blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube, and periodically publishes white papers and webinars. However, there is always more to learn. While reading Inbound Marketing, there were two parts in particular that stood out the most for me. The first was Part Two: Getting Found by Prospects, in particular Chapter 6: Getting Found on Google. The “On-Page SEO” section gives extremely helpful tips on why and how to influence website page rankings on Google. The chapter also recommends using Hubspot’s Marketing Grader (formerly Website Grader) – a tool that grades a website based on three areas of concern: bringing visitors to the website, converting traffic into leads, and analytics. The second was Part Three: Converting Customers, in particular Chapter 8: Converting Visitors into Leads. The chapter discusses the importance of creating various and compelling calls-to-action on every page of the website.

In conclusion, the book met and exceeded its goal of sharing not only the why of inbound marketing, but also the how. Amazon users give Inbound Marketing 4.5 out of 5 stars, calling it “…remarkable… fantastic and easy to read” and I would completely agree. The book is chockfull of helpful tips in laymen’s terms and examples of inspiring success stories. The book is a comprehensive guide to inbound marketing that is perfect for those marketers who are brand new to internet marketing and social media, as well as those who have some experience looking to make some improvements.

Have you read the book? How many stars would you give it and why? Share your thoughts with us; we’d love to hear from you.

Monday, March 5, 2012

How to Put the “Fun” in Fundraising at the Office

So your company has chosen a particular charity to support and it’s your job to get the fundraising ball rolling. There are a handful of details that need to be ironed out first before you start brainstorming fundraising ideas. In particular, what is the monetary goal to be donated? This might help determine what fundraising ideas should be considered. Does your company prefer to host or sponsor one large or several small fundraising events? Will employees be encouraged to participate? Will business associates, friends, and family be encouraged to participate? Once some of these questions are answered, then it is time to form a fundraising committee. The more support and volunteers you have, the better. Check out the National Service Blog from, titled Volunteering in America: 8.1 Billion Hours Served that contains some interesting volunteering statistics in the form of an infographic.

If your company has chosen to host or sponsor one large fundraising event, the fundraising committee can plan a gala, golf tournament, silent auction, or maybe a local excursion. There are various ways to go about getting corporate sponsors that can be researched as well. It’s best to get as many goods or services donated at no cost or traded for free advertising; therefore allowing the maximum amount of money to be donated to the company’s charity of choice.

If your company has chosen to host or sponsor several small fundraising events, below is a list of fun and free or inexpensive ideas that can easily involve employees, business associates, friends, and family.

  • Penny Wars – employees are broken up into teams and the team with the most pennies in a jar wins a prize (i.e. free lunch, gift card, PTO day).
  • Give a Buck – sell paper shamrocks, balloons, sneakers, etc., basically any image related to the company’s charity of choice for $1 each. The buyers name can be written on the front of the image and then hung in a designated area.
  • Jeans or T-shirts Day – employees can purchase the privilege to wear jeans or their favorite t-shirt for $2 a day.
  • Raffle – raffle off donated items, gift baskets, or special privileges (i.e. reserved parking spot for predetermined time period) for $1 a ticket.
  • Corn Hole, Wii, or PlayStation III Tournament – employees pay to enter the tournament and compete to win the title championship.
  • Used Book Sale – sell donated books.
  • Chili Cook-off or Bake-off – winner receives a trophy and the chili entries are sold for $3 a bowl at lunch or the baked goods are sold for $2 a slice.
  • Pizza, Soda & Cookie Lunch Special – the company purchases pizza and cans of soda to sell for lunch at $5 a combo.
  • Breakfast Buffet – employees bring in their favorite breakfast dish and sell a trip through the goody line-up for $7 a person.
  • Donut Eating Contest – employees pay a cover charge to watch the contest.
  • Afternoon Snack – sell popcorn or nachos & cheese and a can of soda for $2 a combo.

There are so many more fun, inexpensive, creative, and successful fundraising ideas out there. You and your fundraising committee should leave yourselves plenty of time to brainstorm, plan, and eventually implement your fundraising events. The ultimate goal is to spend as little money as possible and raise as much money as possible to benefit the company’s charity of choice.

Do you have another free or inexpensive fundraising idea to add to the list? Has one event worked better over another? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.