Four Commitments to Create a Great Content Loyalty Strategy

A great Content Strategy is not a sprint to the finish line; it’s a marathon. You cannot turn it on and off as you redirect resources to other company initiatives.

A great Content Strategy is not a sprint to the finish line; it’s a marathon. You cannot turn it on and off as you redirect resources to other company initiatives. It is a continuous dialogue between your brand and your customers. Think of it as a relationship that must be continuously nurtured.  To be successful, you must commit your organization.

Commitment #1

Every content strategy professes to build brand loyalty with existing customers. So why are the majority of companies engaged in content marketing focused on top-of-funnel goals like demand gen and brand awareness? According to Accenture Research, 66% of consumers spend more on brands to which they feel loyal. Commit to the goals of your content strategy and stay focused. Do not become distracted by requests from sales for leads. A lead gen strategy is not a loyalty strategy.

Commitment #2

Truly commit to the loyalty strategy. Reports show that marketers committed to using a long-term content strategy were 63% more likely to reach their goal of building customer loyalty. Your best new business opportunity is with your existing loyal customers and the word-of-mouth (WOM) they with generate on social platforms.

Commitment #3

Get comfortable using metrics to improve your work. Access to campaign metrics through platforms like Supermetrics, Google Data studio, and others will provide the data. However, it’s up to you to slice and dice the data for your application. To improve the effectiveness of your content strategy with metrics, be clear on your big picture goals. Make sure you are measuring things that indicated you are reaching your goals. Track performance against these KPIs every month. Create a spreadsheet that tracks marketing goals and KPIs. Regularly review your plan for gathering performance information and who will be responsible for collecting and reporting this data.

Commitment #4

Focus on loyalty. Educate your customers to nurture loyalty. Fill the informational needs of your audience with entertaining content.  Use social media stories, video and blogs to create your brand voice. By focusing on your customer, their wants and needs, your brand will become clear with your customers.

Today’s Snowstorms Could Launch Tomorrow’s Best Marketers

My little part of the country recently received our second major snowfall of the winter season. Not so little, actually. Millions of people were impacted by the storm that raced across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and New England portions of the United States in mid- and late January. Thousands were left without power and stranded on snow-swept roads. And more is undoubtedly on its way.

As I peered out my living room window to admire the beauty of that snowfall and to take inventory of any challenges it might present to my neighbors and me as we prepared to start our days, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing from that picturesque scene…. My buddies and me, maybe 12, 13 or 14, marching valiantly through the freshly fallen snow, shovels in hand, ready to save the days of those stranded in their driveways or on the roads.

Where were those hardy young entrepreneurs, layered in their winter gear with determination in their steps and dollar signs in their eyes?

Yep! I was lost in a moment of nostalgia. The sad truth is that the scene I longed to see is nothing more than a fond memory. I’ll wager a guess that, instead of knocking on doors or racing to their phones to call their friends and organize their crew of winter snow removal warriors, the kids on the particular Sunday morning I have in mind raced to their tablets and game consoles to wage war in pixelated worlds free from the frigid air and wet roads of that day’s reality.

“What a shame,” I thought to myself. Yes, I was mourning the loss of youthful drive and work ethic that seems to have been a 20th-century phenomenon. However, more so, I found myself shaking my head as a marketer. In that same moment, it dawned on me just how much opportunity today’s kids were missing to make some honest bucks. Because in today’s world, they wouldn’t have to patrol their neighborhoods looking for cars to dig out and sidewalks to clear. From their same tablets and smartphones, they and their parents could put the word out via their social media channels, email lists, text groups and instant messengers that they were available for hire. Man, the money my buddies and I could have made during those January blizzards if only we had had Facebook Live, Snapchat or Nextdoor!

Nextdoor bills itself as “the world’s largest and fastest growing social network for neighborhoods.” (I could have said that about the evening-long sessions of Red Light, Green Light my friends and I played up and down our street growing up.) However, times have changed. According to its website, Nextdoor is now active in nine countries, four of which (France, Italy, Spain and Australia) joined its ranks just in 2018.

I’ve been a member of Nextdoor for more than five years. I didn’t use the app very often in my previous neighborhood, primarily because I already knew many of my neighbors and knew where and how to reach the local services I needed. However, when my wife and I moved to our current neighborhood two and a half years ago, I was the new kid on the block and had to start from scratch. Our first full summer, I needed help in ridding our lawn of moles. I went to Nextdoor for help. I posted my need, and within minutes received recommendations. I hired a service based in my general area, and he delivered. By delivered, I mean he caught six moles on my property in three months and advised me on how to keep them away. Moments ago, I went to Nextdoor again to search on snow removal for my neighborhood and found about a half-dozen options, mostly private citizens simply offering up their shovels and snow blowers, either free of charge or to make some walking around money (for when the snow is removed). Of course, my page also filled immediately with roughly a dozen ads for landscaping and snow removal companies.

For safe measure, I visited Facebook and searched on “snow removal services near me.” I received more results than I had time to review, some as recent as just hours earlier and some as old as 2012. Those listings also included videos showing snow removal capabilities.

I even tried Craigslist for my geographic location. I was more amazed by what I found here than on Nextdoor. I saw 10 listings for snow removal of some kind posted within just three days of our impending storm, many of which appeared to be no more sophisticated than individuals offering their services and plows. A few featured photos of a tractor or cleared parking lots.

I’ll take this moment to revisit my childhood. Before I accepted my first “real” job as a teenager, I spent a summer walking my neighborhood asking if I could mow lawns for any of my neighbors. Within a couple of weeks, I had a half dozen or more clients…enough to the point that I had to buy an appointment book to track my customers and my billings. I was in business. I should add that by this time, I was now living in Florida, where the lawn-mowing business lasted nearly all year. I made enough money to keep me in movies, fast food, gas, and car washes.

My point is that if I had had today’s technology, I would have saved time knocking on doors, and instead would have had customers coming to me, especially when they compared my “neighborhood teen with his dad’s lawnmower” rates to those of established landscaping companies.

One last thing: every day, we see or hear stories about young kids who are making millions on YouTube playing with toys or video games because they’re viewed by millions of other kids their age and younger who then know what “stuff” they want their parents to buy them. These child “influencers” are reaping the rewards of the technology the rest of us take for granted. I’m not recommending that each of us launch a YouTube channel or Instagram page for our children so they can start paying for their college and our retirement before they’re out of training wheels. I’m merely suggesting that we leverage the technology they already love to help them learn the value of hard work…also, targeted marketing.

We should do what we can to instill in our kids the notion that using technology can put real dollars in their piggy banks, rather than racking up Fortnite V-Bucks or World of Warcraft tokens. And the bonus for parents might be shoveled driveways…without a visit to the chiropractor.

Why Owned Media Matters

In our business, we talk a lot about the intersection between owned, earned, and paid media. I would argue that it’s part of our fundamental perspective and drives most of our work. O’Keeffe was founded on earned media – PR, media relations, and AP style. We added owned (and paid media) later with a particular focus on content. How we define owned content changes, but it always includes things like a blog on your website, white papers, or other deliverables that you wholly own. Sometimes we throw social media in the mix, but that’s a misnomer at this point. The fact is this: social media is no longer owned media.

Before you come after me with pitchforks, let me explain.

Who Owns Social?

If you had asked me five years ago if social media was owned, I would have said yes. Mostly. But these are dark days, my marketing friends. The decline of organic reach, the lack of clarity on metrics, and the changing algorithms all present enormous problems for us. Have you tried to pull historical data on Instagram lately? Try going back further than a week without some help, and you’ll find yourself frustrated beyond measure. And may Providence help you if you didn’t connect that tracking platform yesterday because the tracking will start right now, not when you need it.

The big problem is the lack of clarity regarding those metrics. Say you dug into Facebook and pulled out one of those great CSV files. Beautiful, right? Look at all of those numbers and columns! Columns for days! But what in the world do all of those columns refer to? And once you finally stumble on the metric you need, you better make sure you write down exactly what you did and then pray that platform doesn’t change its UX tomorrow.

Who’s Down with D-A-T-A?

The ability to pull correlational historical data is imperative, and it’s one of the biggest things missing from media that isn’t owned. Take your website, for example. Google Analytics may have some updates, but, generally speaking, I’ve been able to pull the same primary data for a decade. How I use that data may have changed, but as long as my website is connected and online, I can get historical data in a platform that actually helps me get what I need.  Your website is 100% owned media. You control that journey, you control how you guide your audience, and you can completely pull the metrics you need with little help from Google. Heck, you can even get immediate, crazy-cool tracking and other marketing goodies if you start linking additional platforms like Pardot. With owned media, you’re not at the mercy of another platform.

Okay, so we know that owned and paid media are different. You might be saying, gosh, Megan, but I don’t use paid social. I’m not paying for Facebook ads, and I’m certainly not boosting posts on LinkedIn. I can’t be paid if I’m not paying, right?

Wrong.

Dollar, Dollar Bills, Y’all

These platforms don’t exist so you can reach your audience. Come on, folks. These platforms exist to make money. There’s a reason why they make their metrics so annoying to pull (I’m looking at you, Facebook), and why their organic reach is declining. Instagram didn’t update how it displays posts so you would have better experience. It updated its algorithm so that you wouldn’t be guaranteed even to be seen, so you feel compelled to sponsor posts. Even Twitter, which I would agree has the most consistent analytics tracking experience, updated its feed, so it wasn’t chronological.

The big four don’t want to make it easy for you to engage with your audience unless you spend money. It’s that simple. You may not be sponsoring posts, but the platforms are now designed to be a paid experience. Social media is not owned. Social media is paid, whether you’re paying them directly or not.

Beyond the Default

We used to talk about the difficulty of building a brand on social media, but it was always in support in creating your website or app and not ignoring the channels that you own. We always cautioned about spending all of your time on Facebook when the platform may disappear and take all of your branding with it. We’re now in a time where social is a default part of any marketing strategy, despite the declining engagement and reach. Don’t get me wrong – paid social is still a comparatively cheap way to reach your audience. But don’t kid yourself and think that posting semi-regularly is enough.

This brings us to another point. Metrics and analysis. Remember that sweet, sweet historical data I mentioned earlier? It’s getting harder and harder to pull. I used to be able to grab an apples-to-apples comparison and industry benchmarks easily. We all used to know where we stand. More is better. More engagement, more impressions, more clicks. These days I can’t promise that. I can apply all of the best practices in the book. I can build creative campaigns. I track everything to the heavens and back. But without that paid budget, your campaign is entirely at the mercy of the platform itself.

But Wendy’s!

Now, I fully realize some brands have found massive success on social platforms. And you may be saying, Megan, this isn’t optional. I need to be one of those brands. Most agencies will promise you the world and deliver an island. We’re not like that. We value honesty and an authentic relationship with our clients. I’m not going to set you up for failure. But I am going to do everything in my power to make you one of those success stories, and I’m going to use all of the analytics at my disposal to create strategies to guide you.

Now here’s the flip side.

You’ve heard the digital space is crowded. Floral for spring. Groundbreaking. And now I’ve told you that social is a wasteland without a lot of time and some spending money. What’s a company to do? Maybe your budget is tiny, and you can’t afford to boost anything. Maybe your budget is massive, but you’d rather not burn piles of cash.

Clean Your House

Your first step is to make sure that your house is in order. When is the last time you updated your website? Are you ready for voice search? Please tell me that you’re optimized for mobile. Review your copy. Does all of this content speak to who you are? Are you answering your prospect’s questions? Is your sales team aligned? Do you have a documented content marketing strategy? If any of these things aren’t there, focus on these first. Your main priority should always be owned media. Paid and earned can layer into this, but you have to be clear about who you are and why you matter.

Your driving mission should be authenticity. We’re beyond a manufactured; white bread easily approved content strategy. Don’t produce white papers because you’re supposed to. Don’t post on Twitter because you have to. Pull together your owned, earned, and paid media into one voice and get strategic about how you spend your time. Know which stories are great for PR and which stories are better as sales content. Research to discover where your audience is and what they want to know.

#Latergram

Social media was one of my first loves in the marketing world. The ability to create instant conversations was pure magic, and I loved finding ways to drive engagement. The days of live-tweeting a conference and expecting a huge return are over. Focus on your owned media and the rest will follow.

A History of Storytelling

Storytelling is an essential component of the human experience. Rob Dietrich shares a history of storytelling from caves to epic poems to modern technology.

Storytelling has always been an essential component of the human experience. Humans have an innate desire to tell and listen to stories. A child asks her parent for a story before bedtime. A teacher tells his students a story to help make a lesson stick. Friends share advice by summarizing past experiences with each other. Stories entertain and educate us. They help us relive the past and prepare for the future.

From Caves to Epic Poems

The first example we have of human storytelling is on the walls of caves in Chauvet, France. In 1994, archeologists discovered paintings that depict various animals- deer, lions, wooly mammoths- as well as the eruption of a volcano. Researchers believe the inhabitants of the cave valued these illustrated stories so highly that they considered them to have sacred or magic properties. Carbon dating places these illustrations around 36,000 years old.

The ancient Egyptians took storytelling to the next level. Their hieroglyphic language, a series of pictographic symbols, is widely considered to be history’s first example of a written language. Developed around 5,000 years ago, this writing system allowed them to communicate more detailed ideas. Decoding this alphabet revealed ancient Egyptian stories about life at the time, beliefs about the afterlife, kings, wars and plague. The stories also revealed the evolving complexities of storytelling, such as humor and satire.

Around 2,700 years ago, Homer united the ancient Greeks with his epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. These stories were recorded and distributed to the surrounding city-states, and have been credited for establishing the Greek culture. It is highly likely that this was the first time humans realized the fantastic power contained by a good story!

“If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

Storytelling Meets Technology

As history progressed, humans took and improved upon the stories written by the generations before them. The ways and types, along with the manner of telling stories became numerous. Shakespeare captured the imagination of the masses with his plays. In 1556 the first newspaper was published in Venice, covering the economic, political and military happenings of the time. Improvements in printing press technology and the spread of community theater allowed a wider circulation of stories and ideas. Then the 20th century arrived bringing the radio, movies, and TV. These media opened up a whole new world of ways to tell and share stories, removing any barriers that lack of education and an inability to read previously put forth. Then, of course, came the Internet and the digital age of storytelling and idea sharing.

While the complexity, styles, manners, and themes have changed over history, storytelling has been around since the first prehistoric humans were able to point and grunt. Whether they’re creating a culture and unifying a nation or lulling a child to sleep, never underestimate the power of a well-told story.

Want some help telling your story? We can help!

Five Reasons Why Traveling the World Can Make You a Better Marketer

In celebration of graduating Northern Kentucky University with my Master of Science in Business Informatics, I recently traveled to Cuba, making it the 17th foreign country I’ve visited. During my trip, I reflected on how I got there, why travel is so important to me, and how it has impacted my professional, and personal, life.

Traveling can give you a much-needed break and disconnect from the office, along with the 24/7 stream of messages flowing into your inbox. While that’s true, there’s plenty of benefits to your career and professional development that you will take home with you. Think of these five reasons as lifelong souvenirs after taking that trip abroad.

Open Your Eyes to New Perspectives

Like presents, people come in all different shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. Being a successful marketer requires having a great deal of empathy. You must know what your audience cares about, what their pain points are, and what they are sensitive to. The best way for you to grow your sense of empathy and ability to shift the lens of how you see the world is to see the world, put yourself out there, and meet others that are different.

Think about creating audience personas. It’s a best practice to create an audience persona, with an actual name so you can make this process more personalized, and then discover the persona’s wants, needs, pain points, lifestyle, and so on. The foundational skill for this process is empathy, and no marketing textbook, influencer, whitepaper, or conference can teach it to you.

Develop a Sense of Multiculturalism

A large chunk of managers who are sent abroad end up failing. If getting an overseas assignment is something that excites you, then you’ll want to get a head start on getting experience abroad. When working with, and marketing to, people of other cultures, it’s critical to be aware of their cultural norms and sensitivities. This includes having at least a basic working knowledge of their language, political climate, history, food customs, religious practices, culturally-specific phrases to say or avoid, and nonverbal communication, including tone-of-voice, hand signals, gestures, and spatial orientation.  If you get any of these wrong in your marketing tactics, then you might do some massive damage to your brand, or even get into legal trouble.

A facepalm worthy example of a brand shooting itself in the foot is the United Kingdom based Tesco supermarket running a Ramadan promotion featuring smoky bacon flavored Pringles. Think about that for a second… There was also this rough example of people publishing a post so wrong that it landed them in jail. A pair of Instagram influencers focused on travel who posted a revealing picture of their butts at the world-famous Wat Arun temple in Thailand, a Buddhist country (wow did they mess up!). They were arrested for this picture and deported back to California after spending two weeks in jail, although they could have faced several years in prison. For additional context, many temples in Thailand require modest apparel to be worn out of respect (shorts aren’t even allowed at some), so that single Instagram post was an enormous disrespectful slap in the face to the Thai people.

On a positive note, having a multicultural bent enables you to ask questions and do your research before launching a new marketing campaign. Not only will you avoid an embarrassing blunder, but you will also be able to cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation of a culture different than your own. This makes you a smarter and more engaged global citizen while also empowering you to build authentic connections with people different than you. Ultimately, you’ll be able to engage more in-depth with a culture and reap the rewards both professionally and personally. As the United States is a very diverse country, having multicultural awareness and communication skills will benefit you at home and abroad.

Discover Different Ways People Receive Information and Communicate

People around the world communicate in different ways and through different platforms. As marketers, we need to understand where our target audiences spend their time, how they like to get their information, and which communication channels they use. Knowing this information allows us to craft relevant marketing campaigns for our target audiences and optimize content that’s deliverable to them.

By traveling, you’ll get a better understanding of a society’s culture, which has a major impact on how they receive information. If you’re in PR, you’ll need to know which media outlets operate in that country, what their reputation is, and if they have any bias towards a certain topic. While researching this information, the knowledge you gathered on your trip could help you weed out certain media outlets or digital platforms quickly.

Being Adaptable and Able to Switch Gears on the Fly

You can have the most ingenious marketing campaign or strategy crafted, yet things won’t always go your way.  Your targeted audience might not respond to your ad, your content calendar might not cultivate much engagement, or your campaign might not yield conversions. It can happen to the best of us. What will set you apart is your ability to take these circumstances, adapt to them immediately, and make changes to improve the outcome.

How does traveling play into this? Well first, no travel itinerary goes 100% according to plan. I’ve had my fair share of “WTF do I do now?” experiences in unfamiliar countries.  This recently happened to me within my first hour of being in Cuba. I forgot to ask the taxi driver who picked me up from the airport to call the Airbnb host and let him know I would arrive at the apartment momentarily. So, I got dropped off on the street in the middle of Havana in front of an apartment building without the host anywhere to be found. With my elementary level Spanish, I asked a senior woman on the street, who luckily happened to live in the same building, to call him. She and I could barely understand each other, but she was very kind and helpful, and he showed up 15 minutes later!

As marketers, we need to understand that plans don’t always go as expected. Creating contingency plans is always a good business practice, but sometimes weird things happen that not even the contingency plans cover. That’s why it’s important to train yourself to be adaptable in unfamiliar situations and scenarios where things go wrong.  Traveling gives you the skills to shift your plans, think creatively for outside of the box solutions, and ask for help from people at a moment’s notice.

Discovering, Appreciating, and Capturing Beauty in all its Forms

When is the last time you looked down the street, stopped, and thought to yourself, “Wow, this is incredibly vibrant and beautiful with many stories behind it,”? It can be easy to glance over, but even typing that very sentence made me take a closer look down Main Street in Covington’s Mainstrasse (my neighborhood) and have a moment of appreciation for all the culture and history behind it. Traveling gives you that appreciation for all the beautiful things that the world and life have to offer, which can directly result in a more creative eye. Visual content is the trend in marketing right now with no end in sight. On social media, your posts better at least have a compelling image tied to them if a video isn’t possible.

Traveling will give you that curiosity to explore, appreciate, and capture beauty in all its forms. As you snap and record away, you’re going to refine your photography and videography skillset. You’re also going to learn to look for appealing visual content in ways that you never did before. For me, my first trip abroad to Italy in high school solidified my interest in photography and travel, and then taking a professional photography class while studying abroad during my undergrad in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Costa Rica, has given me an eye for capturing visual content that I wouldn’t have otherwise. You don’t need to be a professional photographer or videographer to capture beautiful visual content worthy of sharing; you just need to know how to look for it, recognize it, appreciate it, and then represent it through the appropriate marketing channels.

Final Thoughts

In the end, traveling alone won’t make these five reasons come to life for you. You are responsible for that. Travel is the vehicle, and you’re the driver. You own these experiences and the outcomes of them. If you go to a country and just want to spend time at the all-inclusive resort’s pool while only interacting with people who can speak English, then you’re going to lose out on a lot of experiences and context that will help you grow. Successful marketers think outside of the box, are willing to take some risk to be innovative and reap great rewards, have an open mind, and are adaptable to all the unexpected curve balls that may be thrown at them. Traveling the world will help you build and refine these skills. No marketing class, book, whitepaper, blog (even this post), or whatever piece of content can teach these to you. There’s only one way to do that, and that’s to experience the world yourself.

In case you’re wondering, Cuba is an amazingly vibrant, beautiful, fun, and safe country to explore. To get a glimpse of what I experienced in Cuba, check out my album!

Meet Jocelyn Summers

Hi everyone! My name is Jocelyn Summers, and I am the newest member of O’Keeffe PR. I love storytelling and exploring the impact of the written word on people’s attitudes. I am a fanatic of all things digital but have a love-hate relationship with HTML. I have experience in corporate communications and have developed public relations strategies for local non-profits. I approach every day as an opportunity to learn a new skill.

What drew me to O’Keeffe was their culture. From the moment I stepped through the door, I knew they were passionate about their team and equally passionate about their clients. I am excited to be a part of the tribe!

Why did you choose this industry? 

I have a passion for writing. When I was a kid, I convinced myself that I was going to be the next J.K. Rowling. But through the years I learned that you don’t need to write a novel to tell a story. So, here I am!

What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the industry?

Be tenacious. I know that this is easier said than done, but if you fall, get right back up, take a lesson from it and try again. If you listen to feedback and constructive criticism, you will be amazed at the skills you develop.

If you could tell our clients one thing, what would it be?

We do care about each of our clients. The passion I sensed my first time meeting the team has only grown since I’ve joined O’Keeffe.

What was the last book you read?

A friend of mine gave me “You are a Badass,” by Jen Sincero for my birthday and I have read half way through it. It’s a fact I already knew, but I appreciated the reminder.

Favorite word?

Cattywampus. Say it out loud; you’ll love it too…

Least favorite word?

Definitely. I spelled it wrong in the 3rd-grade spelling bee, and I have second guessed myself on it ever since.

What profession other than marketing would you like to attempt?

As you may have guessed from other information in this post, an author. Move over J.K. Rowling, J. Summers is the new kid in town!

What is the best thing from your line of work?

I love that I don’t know exactly what my day is going to look like when I walk into the office. I thrive off of the energy and fast pace of being a part of an agency.

Tell me two truths and a lie.

I have a great sense of direction. I am allergic to cats. I am a vegetarian.

The Fifth Marketing Wave

Will the Art of Creative Marketing Become a Science?

Robert Keith wrote an article “The Marketing Revolution” first published in the Journal of Marketing in 1960. Keith examined the marketing practices of the Pillsbury Corporation between 1869 and 1960, almost a century of evolution. From his research, he identified four different eras of marketing that correspond to the evolution of both technology and the marketplace.

Keith called the years up to the 1930s the production era. The era was characterized by an abundance of raw materials and new technologies and mechanical processes which fueled investment in mass production. Many companies concentrated on mass producing one single item. Marketing efforts generally consisted of informational brochures and catalogs.

From the 1930s to the 1950s, companies began to get more aggressive in their search for a competitive edge. What emerged was the sales era. Sales campaigns were devised to persuade customers on the advantages of a specific product over others. The customer’s wants’ and needs became important. Evolving technology and infrastructure sparked development of distribution networks.

Brand marketing emerged during the marketing era spanning the 1950s to the 1960s which corresponded with the development of broadcast technology. Advertising began its golden age. Companies created marketing departments, and what became the art of modern marketing and advertising methodology. The brand manager emerged as the individual responsible for all marketing activities associated with a brand, and competition increased as marketers concentrated on persuasion to influence consumer purchasing.

The period from 1960 until recent years has involved an increased focus on the customer, such as identifying needs, wants and buying behaviors. Market research emerged in the form of consumer surveys and focus groups. In the 1980s, what is known as “relationship marketing” became a common marketing practice, still, very much an art form as reliable measurement tools didn’t exist.

Today, a fifth era has emerged: the era of customer data and analytical insights. Technology and data capture has enabled the science of consumer insights. A 1960’s CPG brand manager made decisions to change the packaging design based on a focus group of a dozen individuals and his or her instincts. Today, marketers have access to the collective data from millions of consumers in real time distilled into actionable insights. Marketing, once exclusively an art, has made a giant step towards evolving into a science.

Will there still be a place for creative marketing in the future or will science, and data alone drive marketing? My answer is yes. The science can tell us definitively what works and what doesn’t. That’s a potent tool. But content and messaging will always play a vital role in the marketing equation so long as people, not machines, make buying decisions.

 

When You’re a Marketing Team of One

When you’re a marketing team of one, things get more complicated. Things like schedules and strategies and goals can quickly get usurped for the latest marketing fire unless you’re able to get ahead of the rest of the organization. I should know –  I was a marketing team of one for a good chunk of my career before joining the O’Keeffe tribe.

Here are the top five things I wish I’d known early in my career as a marketing team of one.

  1. Documentation is your best friend.

It sounds like a no-brainer, right? Document things. Easy peasy. But when you’re a team of one, you’re likely juggling priorities across the business and, depending on the history of the organization, and who you report to, you may be dealing with conflicting ideas on how you should move forward.

Hence documentation.

It’s more than just a recap of emails after meetings (although those are essential). Think about how you can best communicate your strategy and your wins across the business. Would a monthly report help? How about a note breaking down wins via email with a why it matters summary? Find ways to bring your leadership and the rest of your organization along on this magical marketing journey with you.

  1. Stay connected within the marketing community.

As a marketing team of one, you will likely be the only person who gets excited when a significant client tweets at you or when you double your open rate on that biweekly email send. Find your local marketing community and make nerdy friends. Sometimes a lunch spent talking segmentation is the boost you need to push out your new content strategy. Your local AMA is an excellent resource for this, but so are Meetups, user groups, and events or conferences.

Make friends, and you’ll always have someone to call to celebrate a big victory or talk you off a ledge when Salesforce breaks.

  1. Keep a roadmap.

Depending on the nature of your organization and whether you’re setting the long-term strategy, you’ll need to keep an eye on your initiatives. Sometimes you’ll be working through a tough time with your sales team, and you’ll need a way to refocus on what’s next. Your roadmap will be your strategic marketing bible and help you cut through priorities. It’s easy to get overwhelmed as a team of one. Being able to reference that roadmap can help your leadership stay focused on where you can make the most impact.

  1. Do the math.

Let’s face it: pulling your monthly analytics isn’t a high priority when you’re managing a giant marketing strategy. But it’s also the one thing that will help you see the light at the end of the long, complicated white paper you’re writing. Being able to see your progress is hugely motivating, and that process of continual optimization isn’t possible without a historical perspective on your efforts. It’ll also save you if you ever want to find a new home because showing concrete results is the best way to land your next gig.

  1. Find time to get creative.

When all of the pressure rests on your marketing shoulders, it’s easy to stay head down and ignore the outside world. You’re just trying to knock out this week’s social posts – there isn’t time for nerding out with a whiteboard and reviewing your personas. The single best way to stop stress and burnout is to stay creative and engaged in your work. Make the time to develop new strategies, review fun ideas, and learn skills that help set you apart. It keeps your brain fresh and your marketing strategy even fresher.

Being a marketing team of one isn’t easy. I’d wager that it’s one of the hardest roles to fill as a marketer. That kind of ownership and responsibility can be insanely fun if you’re able to ride through competing priorities, times of loneliness as you long for a team, and all those conversations explaining just what exactly you do to the rest of the organization.

Did you read this and think, gosh, I wish I had a marketing buddy like the O’Keeffe tribe? We’d love to work with you and help you tell your story. Send us a quick message and let’s talk.

Why your business needs visual content

Regardless of the industry you work in, you’ve probably already heard that visual content is an effective form of communication. Actually, in my opinion it’s becoming the most effective form of communication.

Whether you’re in B2B or B2C, it’s still H2H (human to human). Humans are visual beings, and in today’s world of information-overload, visuals can help your message rise above the clutter.  If you aren’t focusing on visual content for your marketing, social media or email campaigns, it’s probably time to start.

Visuals grab our attention.

There are 1.5 billion units of content generated each day. With so much information floating around online, businesses need to find ways to grab the attention of their target audiences. Using visuals, rather than text, is a much more effective way to accomplish this.

We remember visuals.

Did you know that people retain 80 percent of what they see? This is compared to 20 percent of what they read and ten percent of what they hear. Big difference. If you want your audience to remember what you are communicating, show them using visuals.

Visual content gets more views.

Content featuring compelling images averages 94 percent more total views than those without. It’s also 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than posts with only text. By including an image, you can drastically increase people’s willingness to read, listen or see what you have to say.

Visual content can influence human emotion.

Images, videos, infographics, and other forms of visual content include color that can appeal to your target audience’s senses and influence their emotions. Studies show that colors not only affect emotions, but also influence how people will take action. Additionally, visual content acts as a universal language and can appeal to all audiences and emotions.

To practice what I preach, I’ve included an infographic that brings this message to life.

 

Infographic from Ethos3
Infographic from Ethos3

 

Is Your Brand Utilizing Facebook Live?

As of June, 2016 Facebook reported over 1.71 billion monthly active users. As you can imagine, when the company launched Facebook Live, it peaked the interest of marketers everywhere. Whether you are a B2B or B2C company, these real-time video posts can create real opportunities for your brand to engage with your audience. If your company hasn’t tried using Facebook Live yet, it might be a good time to start.

What is Facebook Live?

Facebook Live videos are real-time video posts that show up in your followers’ Facebook news feeds. Your page can broadcast in real time for up to 90 minutes. While broadcasting, your company can keep track of how many people are viewing the video, read and monitor comments and respond to them directly. Your fans can even subscribe and get notified the next time you start a live broadcast.

Facebook Live can help your brand:

Reach a wide audience.

Video is King, and there are plenty of statistics to prove it. And, Facebook has recently tweaked its news feed algorithm to prioritize live video because of research that shows users spend three times longer watching a live video compared to a pre-recorded video. This means that your brand’s video will show up on more news feeds than a typical Facebook post, and your organic reach will be much higher.

Target the right audience.

Facebook allows you to target who your live stream will reach. You can target by age, gender, language or location, so your video will reach those who are relevant.

Be more human.

Facebook Live is just another tool for you to showcase your brand’s personality. Your audience will get to know your brand better and feel better connected with live video, which will make them more likely to come back to your pages for more.

Understand your audience.

By listening to their real-time reactions and comments, your brand can test new ideas and get immediate feedback. You are also able to see the total number of people who watched at least a portion of the video, along with how many viewers you had at different points in time during the video. This information is helpful to determine when your audience is on Facebook and what they want to see.

Should my company use Facebook Live?

Facebook live can offer plenty of benefits for both B2B and B2C companies. But, with all social networks, it is important to think about where your audience lives. If you have customers, potential customers or industry peers who are active on Facebook, then Facebook Live is a great tool to use to answer questions, hear what’s on their mind and share new information with them.

For example, if your company offers business classes or workshops, you can broadcast interviews with attendees about the best tips they received during the session. As a construction company, you might broadcast a drywall installation or a walk-through of a completed project or building. If you are a restaurant, you can broadcast a “how-to” video of your chef cooking a quick and easy dish.

Live streaming is all about connecting and engaging with your audience in real time. Facebook Live breaks down barriers and creates a connection that traditional marketing cannot. So, go ahead and give it a try!