This year, SRB Communications is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Since starting in the third bedroom of the home she shared with her husband in 1990, the company has evolved into a full-service boutique advertising and marketing agency with offices in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and New York City.
The company and its CEO, Sheila Dean Brooks, have won hundreds of local, regional and national awards. And former employees have gone on to jobs at major corporations, media companies and the U.S. government. During the process, Brooks has gone on to receive her master’s degree and Ph.D. From Howard University.
Those are all incredible feats, especially considering that one-third of small businesses in the U.S. fail in their first two years of operation, and half are gone in five years.
“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of being a lifelong learner and staying ahead of the curve,” Brooks says. “The digital landscape has truly transformed our world. We can see now, more than ever, how important it is to the way we do business and live our lives.”
Sheila Dean Brooks started SRB Communications in 1990 with a business partner in the third bedroom of her home in suburban Maryland after spending nearly 13 years as a television reporter, producer and news anchor in markets in Texas, Washington state and Washington, D.C.
The company started as a partnership focused on television and video production, but quickly within a few months evolved into a sole proprietorship.
The following year was critical in the growth of the company. Brooks hired her first employee and received its first government contract. By 1992, SRB moved into its first “real” office space, at 15th and K Streets, NW, in Washington, D.C. one block from where the company is today.
By 1995, the company had purchased production equipment and became a full-fledged TV and video production company, with a slogan From Script to Screen. Clients included TV One, America’s Most Wanted, BET, and WBAL-TV in Baltimore.
By 2008, with the housing recession in full swing, and the TV and video production business changing quickly and dramatically, SRB pivoted into advertising and marketing with a focus on multicultural audiences.
Today, the company has won more than 200 national and international awards for production and advertising and marketing campaigns. Clients include Exelon Corp., Pepco, Washington Gas, DC Water, Baltimore Gas and Electric, University of the District of Columbia, Bowie State University and Events DC, which operates the DC convention center and sports arena network.
“My passion in serving multicultural audiences has led me to a purpose that is both profitable and valuable,” Brooks says. “I can’t give up on that. The work I do is not solely for me. I’ve invested in so many lives and so many people have invested in me.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – SRB Communications won two International Communicator Awards of Excellence for its work on Pepco’s Annual ZooLights Campaign and the DC Water Hydrate DC Branding Campaign. Judges of the 26th Annual Communicator Awards received more than 6,000 entries from across the U.S. and around the world. The agency also won a Silver International Telly Award for its work on the Alexandria City Public Schools High School Project Informational Video. The 40th Annual Telly Awards receives more than 12,000 entries from all 50 states and 5 continents.
“I am extremely proud of our team. These awards are a tribute to their hard work and creativity,” says Dr. Sheila Brooks, founder, president and CEO of SRB Communications. “We are also proud and excited about the opportunity to create and execute an integrated marketing campaign with DC Water, a leader in the water utility industry.” The brand awareness campaign proved to educate local DC Water customers on the value of water.
SRB Communications captured the Telly Award honor for our work with the Alexandria City Public Schools in the non-broadcast educational institution category.
The Communicator Awards are judged and overseen by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA). The Communicator Awards is the largest and most competitive international awards program honoring creative excellence. Entries were received from top ad agencies around the world, i.e., interactive agencies, production firms, in-house creative professionals, graphic designers, design firms, and public relations firms. The annual competition honors the best in advertising, corporate communications, public relations and brand identity work for print, video, interactive and audio.
The Telly Awards is the premier award honoring video and television across all screens. Established in 1979, The Telly Awards receives over 12,000 entries from all 50 states and 5 continents. Entrants are judged by The Telly Awards Judging Council—an industry body of over 200 leading experts including advertising agencies, production companies, and major television networks, reflective of the multi-screen industry The Telly Awards celebrates.
SRB Communications, LLC is an award-winning, full-service boutique advertising andmarketing agency specializing in multicultural markets and content production. For 30 years, the agency has provided services to energy and utility companies, higher education institutions, transportation and government agencies, political campaigns, convention centers and sports arenas. The agency is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with satellite offices in Baltimore, Maryland and New York city.
If you’re interested in helping to advance your business through the magic of digital marketing and video production, contact us today.
Our fearless leader, President and CEO of SRB Communications, Dr. Sheila Brooks, has quite a bit going on for the next few months. June marks 30 years in business for SRB Communications; her book, Lucile H. Bluford and the Kansas City Call: Activist Voice for Social Justice is getting its paperback release and she was recently spotlighted by Washington Women in PR. The article written by Florence Sumaray was published on WWPR’s website, but check it out below:
Meet Sheila Brooks, Ph.D.,Founder, President and CEO of SRB Communications
Sheila is the founder, president and CEO of SRB Communications, an advertising, marketing and PR agency based in Washington, DC. SRB Communications will be celebrating 30 years in business in June 2020.
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Sheila spent nearly 13 years in television newsrooms across the country, first as an anchor, reporter and producer, and eventually as a news director and executive producer. Throughout her career, she has taught courses in journalism as a college professor, and she currently teaches multicultural marketing in the Strategic Public Relations program at the George Washington University.
In 2015, she returned to the classroom and completed a Ph.D. in Media, Culture and Communications at Howard University. Over the years she’s won numerous awards including two Emmys, the inaugural Pat Tobin Media Relations Award from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the 2019 NABJ Ida B. Wells Award. She was also nominated for the 2019 NAACP Image Award for literary work on publishing her first book, Lucile H. Bluford and the Kansas City Call: Activist Voice for Social Justice.
Leading SRB Communications
Over the past decade, Sheila’s job as CEO of a minority- and woman- owned business, has evolved from working “in” the business to working “on” the business. Her talented team of eight to 10 employees handle the day-to-day accounts under the leadership of No. 2, Adiya Mobley, SRB Communications’ Vice President of Marketing and Communications. Sheila enjoys closing deals and developing and executing a growth strategy for the agency.
Sheila joined WWPR to connect with some of the most talented PR professionals in the country. It also provides opportunities for her and the staff at SRB Communications to network and share new ideas.
Outside of the office
Sheila serves on the Federal City Council as a member of the Board of Trustees and as chair of the Board of Visitors for the Global School of Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University. She also serves on the advisory board of the Jim Vance Media Center at Archbishop Carroll High School. Sheila finds her many decades of serving on boards for journalism, educational and entrepreneurial organizations proves to be rewarding. She also enjoys giving back to the community and is specifically committed to sharing her experiences with young people.
Staying busy during COVID-19
Sheila generally loves to cook and entertain. Since COVID-19, she has spent more weekend time with her husband at their beach house, only an hour away in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland. They social distance walk with friends, barbecue, and just enjoy the serenity of the Chesapeake Bay. Additionally, during the week when she’s home in Silver Spring, Maryland, she is loving her Peloton.
Defining the “new normal” for SRB Communications
SRB Communications has been working remotely nearly three months while continuing to provide clients superior services and value add. The company has been fortunate to work from home daily during the COVID-19 pandemic, which the team at SRB Communications realizes is a privilege many people aren’t afforded.
Besides working from home, it has been business as usual for the most part. They have daily team and client meetings, and new business efforts keep them busy regularly. They are also excited to be celebrating their 30th year anniversary this year with a year-long roll out of campaigns to introduce to the public and their stakeholders.
Keeping up with trends in communications
Sheila can’t emphasize enough the importance of being a lifelong learner and staying ahead of the curve. Keeping up with digital trends is essential for SRB Communications to stay ahead of their competition. To do so, Sheila personally reads two books per month, and as an agency, they subscribe to several information resources. Some of those resources include following the right marketing thought-leaders and influencers, taking advantage of the many resources their partners have access to, networking with other marketers in the field through Meetups and networking sites. Lastly but most importantly, remaining agile and embracing new technology as it is introduced to the public. They also prioritize attending webinars and annual conferences like the National Association of Black Journalists, AAF-DC and ColorComm.
How the industry has changed in the past five years
In the past five years, the digital landscape has truly transformed the world, and the SRB Communications’ team now understands more than ever how important it is for their business and their lives. There have been so many advancements in the way people communicate through technology. The digital space is ever-evolving, and as marketing and communications professionals, it is our responsibility to stay abreast on the latest technologies driving the day-to-day work.
Celebrating SRB Communications’ 30th anniversary
If you asked Sheila his time last year what they would be doing to celebrate SRB Communications’ 30 year anniversary, she never would have guessed celebrating during a global pandemic. However, here they are, celebrating … in the midst of a global pandemic.
Even though they are all quarantined and safely social distancing, they have decided to transition their celebratory efforts to the digital atmosphere. They’re excited to reintroduce the SRB brand and newly designed logo to the public. They also have a few content and storytelling campaigns rolling out across their social media channels throughout the entirety of the anniversary year. To kick off 2021, they’ll be releasing their 2021 Multicultural Marketing Trends Report outlining the latest and greatest happenings in inclusive marketing and campaigns. Make sure you follow them on social media to get the latest 30th anniversary update: Twitter, FacebookandInstagram.
Lessons learned during this pandemic and how to stay positive
If you don’t walk away from this pandemic having learned something new, whether about yourself or about the broader community that we live in, then you’ve missed a huge growth opportunity. Sheila has learned that as a community they are stronger together. She has seen that play out even within the SRB team. She has watched the team stay resilient in the face of this pandemic and stay committed to their client’s work and the agency business. She stays positive because of her advisors and her fellow business owners that are supportive with regular phone calls, emails and texts.
Like many fellow business owners, Sheila has also learned how to work from home. That’s not something she thought she would be able to do, but the team has done it and hasn’t skipped a beat. Sheila has faced other crises over the past 30 years in business, and through them all, she’s learned to embrace the challenges, create opportunities, stay innovative, and most importantly, trust in her unshakeable faith. She is truly fortunate to be able to do this work with honor and a sense of responsibility at this moment in time.
Five lessons learned from 30 years of running a successful marketing and communications firm
Sheila’s passion in serving multicultural audiences has led her to a purpose that is both profitable and valuable. She can’t give up on that. The work she does is not solely for her. She’s invested in so many lives and so many have invested in her. You can’t stay in business and keep people working if you don’t make a profit. You have to keep that in mind.
Five lessons Sheila has learned in running a successful marketing and communications firm:
Know when to pivot the business. Stop selling what you have. Sell what the client needs.
Keep a customer-first mindset.
Obtain a bank loan or line of credit before you need it.
As marketers, we hold a great deal of responsibility during this global pandemic. While healthcare staff, first responders, and other essential workers focus on the physical health and security of citizens, it is the responsibility of marketers to help people cope with our “new normal”. This not only benefits society as a whole, but it will help position your company as a community partner and a brand that your customers can rely on during times of crisis. So, here are 4 things you can do to manage your marketing strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Determine Your Company’s Position in a Pandemic
If you are a marketer, odds are you are in the middle of managing a number of different campaigns and editorial calendars. A crisis of this magnitude can easily overshadow your promotion and marketing efforts, so you’ll have to determine if it’s fiscally and socially responsible to continue your campaigns. In some cases, you can pivot the campaign to address the crisis and provide content that is beneficial and relevant to your customers. Obviously, every business is unique and will be impacted differently, so there is no exact answer to what should and shouldn’t be suspended. As a rule of thumb, you should determine if your business is uniquely positioned to speak to the pandemic and how you can show up for your customers in the time of crisis. From that point, you can make a better judgement call and decide if you should stay silent or shift your messaging and content offering.
2. Revise Your Content Calendar
If you do decide to continue your marketing campaigns, it’s imperative you review all scheduled content to determine if it aligns with community health measures and messaging, and then adjust accordingly. The words and images you use, no matter how small, delivers a message to the people who consume it. When designing creative, avoid using pictures with people interacting closely with one another or using language like “get in touch,” or, “come meet the…” as this could be taken as tone-deaf or out of touch messaging during this time. As a marketer, you can help endorse the new normal by incorporating our new social guidelines into your creative and messaging.
Ultimately, follow the strategy that fits to your company and consumer’s needs best. Reevaluate your content and creative and know that the best strategy may not be selling your products at this time, but rather showing how your company can help people overall.
3. Market Your Beliefs and Values
In recent years, we have seen consumers become increasingly more aware of societal issues and have expected the businesses they frequent to share their social and environmental values. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses will try to use this as an opportunity to sell their business or product, but cause marketing is not about capitalizing on a global crisis. Cause marketing is about developing and strengthening your relationship with consumers by connecting with them on societal issues that matters to them the most and aligns with your company’s values.
There are many ways your company can contribute to the effort to curtail this pandemic. Some companies have started to manufacture and donate essential items like ventilators and masks to those who need them the most. Other companies have donated hotel rooms to healthcare workers on the frontline or donated money to hospitals and other organizations fighting COVID-19 cases. These are all great ways to showcase your support and company values and can provide a great opportunity for marketing that helps companies build credibility and trust among its consumers and helps keep them abreast of the efforts you are doing to help end the crisis.
This brings us to our next point.
4. Build Deeper Connections Through Human Stories
People are looking for something to be hopeful about. Everyone loves a story that they can get behind, especially stories that are relatable. Let the story be yours. It’s the perfect time to deliver human-driven stories that provide a way for people to connect while stuck at home. Employees are a great resource for developing personable content. Your employees are affected by this crisis just like everybody else. Highlight what they have been doing to stay busy and active during this time. Sharing their story makes your audience view your company as more just a faceless entity, it’s a collection of real people. As their leader, keeping them positive should be a priority too. Show your audience the ways you and your team have stayed connected and upbeat. Also, try to utilize your audience to produce user-generated content and engage in a campaign that is optimistic and engaging. That being said, you have to be aware of your positivity. Blind optimism is a poor mindset to have in a time of crisis. Don’t pretend everything is fine and ignore the issue. No one likes the band playing music on a sinking ship.
It’s clear that the economy has been crippled by the recent pandemic and many small businesses are hurting because of it. In order to curtail company spending, leadership often makes large cuts to the marketing budget during hard economic times.
However, this does not mean you can or should stop marketing. In fact, companies that continue their marketing efforts during times of economic crisis have steadied or even increased sales. Take the time to review the budget you do have to ensure you’re using it the most efficient and effective way possible. Here’s a few tactics to help you market on a tighter budget.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that quality content is important. Marketing revolves around content, so when you’re operating on a small budget, quality is paramount. The content must be useful to the consumer while also being easily digestible. Find out what your audience needs and make sure you are supplying them with valuable information to meet those needs.
Research is an important part of creating quality content. A reader can go anywhere to receive content, so why should they consume yours? Providing sound information backed with research and complemented with your own perspective via anecdotal experiences or exclusive company data adds value to the content and establishes you as a unique source of information. Once you’ve done the research necessary to write or speak intelligently about your content topic, figure out the best way to deliver it to your audience.
With technology advancing faster than we can blink, there are so many mediums to choose from with little to no cost (i.e. infographics, podcasts, videos, blogs, newsletters, live stream, etc.). It’s important to think about your topic and who is your target audience when determining how to deliver the content. Some people are likely to interact with a particular medium more than others. For example, podcasts are generally listened to by a younger audience. 84% are under 55 years old according to Edison Research. If your audience skews towards an older demographic, podcasts may not be the best place to reach them.
Like beauty, the value of your content is in the eye of the beholder. Your audience determines how much value they received from the content and the overall quality of it. If you don’t deliver your content to the right audience, they find no value in it. Choosing the right content for the right audience is about knowing who will receive the most value from it and delivering it to them in the medium that they are looking for.
Social media is a great tool for marketing on a budget. It allows you to create a following of engaged users and distribute your content to new masses. The best thing about social media is the constant development of new platforms and the reach it provides. Whether you’re looking for an older audience on Facebook or a younger one on TikTok, there’s a platform available that is right for your target audience.
There are two ways to reach users on social platforms. One is known as an organic reach. You are directly engaging with consumers without using money to reach them. You should create engaging, quality content that attract users to follow you. More followers mean more reach and hopefully, more engagement.
Engagement with your audience is one of the most valuable resources you have. Interact with them via comments, likes, direct messages, etc. and create personal connections with your followers. They respect the time it takes to do that, and it won’t be forgotten when they discuss your business. People are more likely to trust the recommendation of a real person whether that is on social media or on a blog. A suggestion from a friend about your business goes a long way.
The other way to use reach users is paid promotion. This includes paid or boosted ads on social media. Paying for ads on social media is a good way to stretch your dollars because it’s much cheaper than advertising on broadcast or radio and it allows you to target specific audiences based on demographics, interests, etc. more effectively.
As your audience grows, you can utilize their influence more. User-generated content on your social media platforms is a great way to expand your reach. This method basically lets users create and distribute custom content for you cost free. Not to mention, this content can seem more authentic to users than a traditional ad. To do this, you’ll need to create a call-to-action that gets your audience creating meaningful content for your business. Look to other companies for inspiration, but it’s important to make it relevant for your service or product offerings while putting a personal touch on it.
People are always looking for something new and different. Give them a reason to interact with your company. A base of followers is just a long list of potential sales. You can use your profile as another platform for selling while also increasing your brand awareness to a larger audience. The more recognizable your brand becomes, the more trustworthy you become to consumers. People will always buy from the companies they recognize and trust.
SEO is Gold
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is your best friend when it comes to low budget marketing. You can do everything above but if you ignore SEO, no one will find your content. So, what is SEO? It is designing your website and content to be relevant and easy for search engines to find. Since Google has more than 90% of the searches on the internet, most of the SEO guidelines are tailored to their methods. Implementing these methods are often very low-cost. Let’s walk through the basics.
Keywords are the “key” to everything (pun intended). Keywords are the words the user will search. For example, if I wanted to find a coffee place to go to, I’d search, “coffee near me.” This is just one combination that someone might use, your job is to account for as many keyword searches as possible, both short and long tail. Think about the keywords people would use to find your company and try to be specific as possible.
The next step is understanding the technical side of SEO. Google has to find your website, search the content on the site/page, and then index it on their own search engine. In order to do this, Google sends out “crawlers” which find and catalog your site. This means you should have relevant content via your keywords for them to catalog. You don’t want the crawlers to bring something to the users that is irrelevant to their search; that’s why a good understanding of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), the code used to create that your site, is helpful. Doing the research necessary to master and implement SEO best practices will bring more users to your site and help generate stronger sales leads for your business.
Ultimately, there are so many clever ways to successfully market your business while on a tight budget. Do the research and think outside of the box to stretch your marketing dollars because marketing is important to your business. It’s as important as the business itself.
Life moves fast, but technology moves faster. It sometimes seems impossible to keep up with the trends. What’s the latest iPhone? Which virtual reality system is best? Then, of course, there is social media. There are the tried and true media giants like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, however, other companies are constantly competing to be the next big platform. For any business, it’s key to keep track of who the emerging players are and incorporate these platforms in an effective way.
TikTok It seemingly came out of nowhere, but since 2018, TikTok has accumulated around a half billion active monthly users worldwide and is currently rated the #1 free app in the App Store. It is a short-form video platform that evolved from apps like Vine and Musical.ly and lets users edit videos overlaying them with music or dialogue, text, emoticons, special effects, hashtags and/or filters. It is heavily used by and targeted towards Generation Z, people born between 1997 and 2010, as a form of entertainment. It is because of this reason that many companies have joined the platform to try and engage with the younger demographic. Companies like the NBA, Mountain Dew, Chipotle, and even the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have started accounts. TikTok is most attractive because it is not nearly as saturated as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and as a result, is a much cheaper platform to advertise your service or product.
Caffeine Caffeine is a live-streaming service battling for market share against similar streaming platforms like Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube. The service lets users create a live broadcast where viewers can, in real-time, interact and comment on the broadcast being hosted. However, unlike other streaming services, Caffeine prides itself on its use of internal moderators and machine learning to prevent inappropriate content from being discovered on its platform. With a heavy push for celebrity content focused on sports, entertainment and pop culture, Caffeine is trying to create curated live-streaming experiences that allow for social discovery through the streams your friends are watching or brand promotions. Caffeine shows great potential for businesses looking to host live Q&A’s, showcase an unveiling, or give a tour of their facilities.
Lasso by Facebook Lasso is a direct competitor of TikTok but with only a fraction of the users. Facebook has seen a large decrease in young users on their site, so Lasso became its method to capture their attention. Lasso allows you to create short videos with filters and music overlaid the same way you’d see on TikTok. Users are able to share their videos with other platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Although small, many believe that Lasso stands a good chance of becoming the next big social platform since it is owned by Facebook and has access to its massive resources. It may be almost an exact copy TikTok, but Facebook and its partner companies have a way of surpassing their competition and dominating market share.
So, the next question is how do you use this technology effectively for your business? Adding newer social platforms into your marketing strategy is just another way to expand your reach as a business and acquire new audiences. You can use it in a similar way you would use Facebook and Instagram by tailoring content to the channel and audience. The key to success on any social medium is creating compelling content that elicits an emotional response (i.e. joy, empathy, excitement, anger, etc.) through authentic storytelling. By being an early adopter of these newer platforms, you won’t be competing for attention with millions of other brands and you can create smaller, personalized communities that are more engaged with and loyal to your brand. If it makes sense for your business, it can be a smart and affordable strategy to incorporate emerging social media; you never know when it might pay off.
If you’re interested in helping to advance your business through the magic of social media marketing, contact us today.
Challenge: Pepco and its parent company, Exelon, have long been leaders in diversity and inclusion programs, but they wanted a stronger presence with DC’s multicultural communities particularly among its LGTBQ customers. As Pepco’s multicultural agency, SRB Communications was uniquely positioned to engage with this diverse group in a compelling and highly targeted way. Our main objective was to build brand awareness of Pepco’s key initiatives as they relate to the underserved populations in the District. However, it was also important to position Pepco executives as inclusive leaders who understand the nuances and experiences of LGBTQ communities it serves.
The Work: To address the objectives, SRB Communications executed a sponsorship on behalf of Pepco with the Washington Blade. The Blade is the oldest LGBT newspaper in the U.S. covering the latest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender news in Washington, DC and the sponsorship coincided with the its 50th anniversary. Through the sponsorship campaign, we were tasked with creative direction for both digital and print advertisements placed with the Blade and content writing for four thought leadership articles highlighting Pepco’s executives who have focused on creating safe and meaningful spaces for the LGBTQ community in the workplace. Our executed media buy and advertising placements with Washington Blade consisted of (8) run-of-site digital ads on the Washington Blade website, (23) full-page ad placements in the Washington Blade print publication, (5) dedicated email blasts which featured the four thought leadership articles and (6) weekly email blasts.
The digital ad campaign achieved an overall 298,700 impressions
Dedicated e-blasts garnered an impressive 2.21% CTR
Print ads were circulated to a readership of 2,100,000
Overall, we were able to provide a strong, consistent presence within the LGBTQ community that Pepco services throughout the year. But most importantly, the work was meaningful, and we couldn’t be prouder of the impact.
Since we are nearing the end of 2019, and quickly approaching Q1 of 2020, we thought we would give you a heads up on what marketing trends to consider when you’re trying to reach your customers next year.
Video Remains King – This one is a no-brainer. Many surveys and studies show that video has been and is increasingly becoming the preferred way customers learn about products and services. These videos need to be easy to digest, transparent, and short.
Nobody is going to watch a three-minute, highly technical video, on Instagram for example, that explains your product or service. Those videos are helpful once you have already drawn the customer in, but for marketing purposes, keep it simple, visually appealing, and short.
Consumers and other businesses know when your message isn’t authentic, so stay true to your brand. Transparency with your marketing can go a long way to help you gain trust of your intended customer.
Another thing to consider is the platform your video will live on. In general, you want to shoot video horizontally, but for platforms like Instagram or Snap Chat, you should shoot vertically.
Google Ads – You may not know that Google Ads have been around now for 19 years. While it has always been a great, cost-effective marketing tactic for businesses, it is getting even better, and will become one of the standard marketing tools, moving forward. The smart bidding and automation on Google Ads allow for real-time optimization that will allow you to maximize conversions for a lot less money than you might spend with traditional marketing avenues.
Social Media Ads – You may have noticed by now that there is a theme here of digital marketing. You want to reach people where they spend most of their time. Social media apps are where people spend loads of time, so going into 2020, you definitely want to put marketing dollars into social ads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snap Chat (depending on your target market). Of course, not all these platforms work for all industries, so research which ones your target demographics use. Like Google Ads, most of these apps allow for real-time optimization so you can see what ads are working and which may not be.
Digital Audio – If you listen to music or podcasts, there is a good chance you’re using a service like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, iHeart, etc. Guess what? It’s likely that your customers are too. Placing ads on these platforms can sometimes be costly but have shown to be very effective. These platforms have hundreds of millions of users per month and half of those users use free accounts that contain ads.
Spotify’s granular targeting allows you to narrow your audience by age & gender, language, interest & behaviors, playlist, genre, platform, location and time of day. That means you can get in front of the people you know are interested in what you are offering and not waste dollars on people who might just tune you out on traditional radio, for example.
Personalized Marketing / Retargeting – This is going to become a very important marketing tactic in 2020. Traditionally, marketing has been a company putting out generic ads to general market or targeted audiences. Customers want to become part of the experience and see your brand where they spend time. They are also more likely to engage with your brand if they feel they are getting something in return. Trends have begun moving into the personalized marketing space by offering coupons, free white paper downloads, etc. but this will become increasingly important moving forward.
This can seem overwhelming and challenging but utilizing a content personalization engine can make it easier. With this, you can capture information about audience such as where they are visiting and clicking, how much time they spend on a site, their purchase history, search terms, and a lot of other data. Then you can determine who your intended audience is, where your ads should go and how you can stay in front of them and provide them valuable recommendations based on their behavior.
Of course, there are other trends to watch out for in 2020 that you should begin to utilize to create an effective marketing plan. Other things to look for are:
Interactive Content – This is content that is geared mostly to mobile users, which is where users are spending their time more and more. This includes marketing content, such as quizzes, surveys, guides, tutorials, VR content, calculators, etc.
Voice Search – With the advent and popularity of Apple’s Siri and Google’s ‘okay Google’, it is important that your SEO search terms, and marketing are optimized to work with these services.
Over-The-Top Marketing – marketing to the cord-cutters who use services such as Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, etc.
Marketing is a constantly evolving and fascinating world. The technology available enables marketers to quickly and cost-effectively reach their intended audiences like never before. Customers now demand easy and fast to digest, personalized content. Using the above-mentioned trends, you will set your business up for a prosperous 2020.
It’s beginning to look a lot like… the holidays! In the spirit of this festive season (and all of the creative brand campaigns going around,) we wanted to share some marketing tips with our fellow small businesses. There are many affordable ways that you can grow your customer base and help others in the process. Take a look at these three holiday-friendly marketing strategies that will help expand your client base and profits.
What do we love more than fusing creative talents? Very few things. Below are examples on how to collaborate with companies that tap into your for-profit side and your charitable heart.
Partner with another small business
Pepco and Smithsonian’s National Zoo made magic a few years ago by partnering for ZooLights powered by Pepco. Animals and power might not have been the most obvious connection, but it has turned into a holiday tradition that activates the Zoo in the colder, less visited months of winter. The website boasts that “more than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland!” Visitors can do their holiday shopping, enjoy live performances, eat goodies, and take advantage of the social media worthy moments including a step-and-repeat and photo frame (one that SRB actually designed…shameless plug)!
What if you’re a small business? Partnerships can happen at any level. Holiday classics like sweaters and hot chocolate are an easy connection to make. If you are a purveyor of fine knits you should definitely find your local chocolate artisan and create co-partnered holiday packages to warm hearts and minds. Sell them online, promote them on both of your business social media handles, or maybe even host a co-sponsored pop-up. Make sure to keep your customer in mind and consider other areas of their life where you can find a good partnership opportunity. Brainstorm a list of other businesses that fit your mission and reach out. If you want to feel extra inspired make sure you stop by the Zoo, take a photo, and use the hashtag #DCZooLights.
Partner with Local Charity
Tis the Season! We have all seen the prompt to donate a dollar to a good cause when checking out at the grocery store. D.C. is filled with socially-conscious millennials that wear Toms and Warby Parker because of their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” commitment. At a time of the year when everyone is buying gifts for loved ones, companies can encourage the good tidings of shoppers and bundle in a free item with purchase or donation to a charitable organization of your choice.
MAKE YOUR BRAND FESTIVE
There are several marketing tactics that can expand your visibility and reach this season. Take a look at a few examples below to leverage branding, production and outreach.
Show that your company is showing off its holiday season from your most visible piece of branding. Give your logo and website a holiday refresh. Add a little Santa Hat or make a holiday background for your social media avatars. We had a little fun with our own logo!
Video content has increasingly become the most engaging form of digital and social advertising. Shoot a few creative videos of your staff in the holiday spirit or your products and goods packaged for the holiday.
To really get a true sense of your impact this season, get a true head count on engagement. Open the doors at your location or arrange a pop up where you can let the holiday spirit increase your bottom line. You can have commemorative pictures with Santa, pass out hot chocolate and cookies, participate in or hold light display contests, while attendees purchase your goods and services. Even if you aren’t selling anything at your event, your brand will stay top of mind for the future. Make sure you grab their emails; they will come in handy later.
Digital campaigns can be an affordable way to reach a targeted new audience and your existing client base. Reward loyal customers with special holiday discounts (…and pssst offer the same discount to new customers, we won’t tell). It’s all in the messaging, use this time to be creative and personal.
Google, Facebook and Instagram have very user-friendly ad platforms that allow you to control your spend and reach your target market with fun holiday content. You can even market yourself organically on your own page. Here is one simple promotion we love from the local multicultural beauty shop The Brown Beauty Co-Op. #brownbeautycoop
Now is the time to turn up the lights and frequency on your remarketing campaigns. If you have taken advantage of digital advertising, you should really be allocating a portion of spend to customers who have engaged with your site and left. Bring them back with fun little graphics and phrases like “Santa told us you left something in the cart”.
Use your impressive collection of customer email addresses to send end of the year well wishes and holiday promotions. What a great time to offer a gift to your loyal customers and their friends for inviting new loyalists to your email list. Try something trendy and attention grabbing, especially in the subject line of the message. Pop out in your customer’s inbox with “Yuletide Greetings, 20% off all consultations!”
Whichever you decide to make this season a marketing success, SRB Communications wishes you a Happy Holiday!
For the first time ever, Refinery 29 took their interactive exhibit, 29Rooms, on the road and this year’s theme, “Expand Your Reality”, promised to “connect you to your curiosity and unlock your sense of wonder through mind-bending creativity and bold collaborations.”
The DC event took place at the DC Armory with installations that were a mishmash of art, activism, marketing and corporate sponsorship under the Refinery29 brand. The exhibit allowed visitors to meander through 29 distinct experiences created by local DC artists Kali Uchis, Yvette Mayorga, NNEKKA and many others.
Here is a quick overview of the installations that really caught my eye:
Dream Doorways (Collaboration with Kali Uchis): This room put you in a surreal alternate universe to interpret your thoughts, dreams and unconscious.
29 Questions: This room was a social experiment that asked visitors to disconnect from technology and engage with a stranger by asking each other questions.
The Art Park (Collaboration with Yvette Mayorga, Dan Lam, NNEKKAA, Hanski, and Trap Bob):A climbable staircase that created a canvas that explored unique ways of showcasing art through playful and creative composition.
Dance Break: This room got people dancing by offering up an awesome soundtrack.
A Long Line of Queendom (Collaboration with Unbothered): This room was a celebration of and dedication to Black millennial women and the truths that make up their experiences.
In terms of corporate sponsorship, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) did the experience better than others. ACLU’s exhibit, The Values Stand, was an Andy Warhol-like “news stand” that fit in seamlessly with Refinery 29 branding. It pushed a message of community activism by getting people to pledge to better their communities through voting and signing up for ACLU’s community volunteer teams.
Other brand sponsorships at the event felt a little out of place at the exhibit and there seemed to be a disconnect between the sponsor’s brand and the Refinery 29 brand.
Personally, I believe the intent of the exhibit was to showcase the art and create space for conversation about the cultural landscape and political climate. But in reality, I don’t think that 29Rooms pushed enough to expand that conversation, rather it offered up an opportunity for people to take selfies with corporately branded art.
With that being said, the event was a really fun time. It provided a great introduction to the creativity of some of DC’s best artists and I now have enough selfies to get me through the next few months of #throwbackthursdays.