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  • May 22, 2020

    A Marketer’s Role During COVID-19

    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.

     

     

  • May 15, 2020

    How to Market on a Budget

    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.

     

    Quality Content

    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

    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.

  • May 14, 2020

    Women in Marketing and Communications

    As we come to the end of Women’s History Month, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight some women who are making meaningful and powerful change in the communications industry. These profiles provide only a small glimpse into all of the vast accomplishments these women have made in their life. We encourage you to learn more about these women and inspire yourself through their journeys. Happy Women’s History Month!

    Name: Imani Greene
    Company: GreeneGroup
    Current Title: Founder and Principal Consultant
    Education: Hampton University

    About: After honing her marketing skills as Vice President at Meredith Xcelerated Marketing for 2 years and then as the Senior Vice President and Media Director at Ogilvy for 9 years, Greene decided to start her own business, GreeneGroup. For 6 years now, GreeneGroup has offered advertising and communications solutions to businesses in almost every vertical and industry. Greene is well-versed in advertising strategy, campaign design/development, media planning/buying, content distribution and discovery. She has provided work for clients such as CDC, ASAE (American Society of Association Executives), NEAMB (National Education Association Member Benefits), MetLife, and Washington Nationals. On top of the exceptional work at GreeneGroup, she also sits on the boards of the National Press Foundation and Dress for Success Washington DC. She is devoted to serving her community through her over 20 years of mentoring, tutoring and volunteering. Imani has even established “Everyday Inspirations,” an organization connecting young mothers to trailblazers who can help inspire them.

    Accomplishments:

          • MediaWeek’s Media Plan of the Year – ($10-25MM category) for Smith Barney
          • Led numerous integrated advertising/PR campaigns that received prestigious industry awards, including AdWeek Media Plan of the Year, American Advertising Federation, Effie
          • Written up in multiple case studies for superior innovation, by Google Business and Twitter Business

         

    Name: Lisa Osborne Ross
    Company: Edelman
    Current Title: U.S. Chief Operating Officer and President of Edelman’s Washington, D.C. office
    Education: Marquette University

    About: Lisa Osborne Ross started her professional life in politics, even serving in the Clinton administration working on policy development and issues management. From there, she co-founded the Washington Area Women’s Foundation. The organization offers services and training to women and girls in the Washington area. Having ventured on her own, she transitioned to a 15-year-long career at Ogilvy as head of public affairs. After, she moved to APCO Worldwide, where she was managing director of its Washington, D.C. office. Eventually, Lisa transitioned to Edelman where she was just appointed U.S. Chief Operating Officer and President of Edelman’s Washington, D.C. office. She has been called, “gutsy – both as a leader and a practitioner,” by the current CEO at Edelman, Russel Dubner.

    Accomplishments:

        • Savoy Magazine’s Most Influential Women in Corporate America
        • An honoree for Washington Women Who Mean Business
        • A Diversity Champion by the PR Council

     

     

    Name: Kathy Baird
    Company: Nike
    Current Title: Senior Director of Editorial and Experiences
    Education: George Washington University, Georgetown University

    About: Kathy Baird spent nearly six years at Ogilvy in many different roles before eventually finding herself in leadership as Managing Director, Head of Ogilvy Washington Office. She previously had started an improv comedy theater and has said that her experience with improv comedy has helped her career, personal performance, leadership and culture building. As Lakota/Oneida and a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Baird has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion within her industry. In 2017, Baird was awarded the ColorComm Circle Award for making a profound impact for woman of color in the communications industry. Since leaving Ogilvy, Baird has started working in a newly created role at Nike as Senior director of editorial and experiences in the global employee communications team. In the few months she’s been with Nike, she already is creating change. She held Nike’s first-ever Footprint summit, which brought together leaders across Indian Country to help Nike create pathways that increase their Native employee population.

    Accomplishments:

        • ColorComm Circle Award
        • Cannes PR Lion Shortlist Award
        • American Marketing Association M Award
        • The Pollie Award
        • The Addy Award

     

     

    Name: Emily Graham
    Company: FleishmanHillard
    Current Title: Partner
    Education: Babson College, Southern Methodist University

    About: At just 32 years old, Emily Graham made partner at FleishmanHillard. She is the lead strategic communications for clients across multiple industries. Her clients include BlackRock, ZX Ventures (part of InBev), Western Union and Group1001. Graham’s work has not only been exceptional for the clients she serves, but for the business itself too. As head of FleishmanHillard’s Diversity and Inclusion program, she started FH Perspectives, to promote all diversity and inclusion initiatives. FH Perspectives aims to welcome, explore, and celebrate employee’s unique perspectives and experiences. This department does so by attracting & hiring diverse talent and perspectives, nurturing and celebrating a culture of inclusion, and accelerating leadership and partnerships. In 2018, FleishmanHillard saw a 15% increase in diverse hires at the senior level thanks to her leadership.

    Accomplishments:

        • North America SABRE Innovation Award
        • PR Professional of the Year
        • Gold US SABRE Award Nominee for Best Executive Leadership Campaign
        • MWW Matter More Award
        • Global SABRE Award – Executive Leadership Campaign
        • Gold US SABRE Award – Best Executive Leadership Campaign
        • Silver SABRE Award for Best Employee Program of the Year

     

    Name: Stacie Burgess
    Company: American University
    Current Title: Director of Public Affairs
    Education: Howard University

    About: With over 20 years of experience in the field of communications, Stacie Burgess is an expert with a wide variety of experiences. Burgess has a strong background in strategic communications, media relations, public affairs, public policy, crisis communications, digital communications, marketing, publications management and internal and external communications. She spent close to 3 years working for Baltimore County. There, she held two executive positions, first as Communications Director with the Office of the County Executive and then as Chief of Communications and Constituent Services with the county’s Department of Health and Human Services. In this position, she established a network for the county to communicate with the community using Nextdoor free interface. More recently, Stacie has moved to the role of Director of Public Affairs at American University, where she is responsible for issues management, crisis communications and public engagement on key proactive and reactive matters, working in close conjunction with university officials. More recently, Stacie has been tasked with communicating with students and staff of the ongoing pandemic. She is constantly providing new information on the university’s steps and actions during this trying time.

    Accomplishments:

      • Association of Women in Communications
      • Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
  • March 27, 2020

    What’s New? What’s Now? Top Marketing Trends For 2020

    As we continue to move through the year and these unprecedented times, we’ll continue to share trends that will shape marketing for the rest of 2020. These trends are more than, “check out this new social media platform!” They are the consumer behaviors that will impact your content strategies, the technology that is coming whether you’re prepared or not, and the unorthodox ways of looking at pre-established concepts. The future is a constant uphill battle that never ends. The smartest thing you can do is stay informed and adopt early. You never want to be last to know.

    People Are Reading Less

    It should come as no shock to anyone to hear that people are reading less. Since the dawn of the internet, we have been headed towards a society based on visuals and audio. To be honest, we’re still surprised people haven’t started writing entirely in emojis yet. As this trend continues, it’s important to adapt your content accordingly. There’s two main ways that eliminate the need for any of that pesky reading and keep your audience engaged.

    Video marketing can easily replace the standard written content with some major benefits. Videos are more flexible creatively. Visuals allow consumers to connect further with the product or company more than the words on a page can. It also allows for an interactive experience that written content cannot. Videos keep the consumer engaged with the content. People can get a little restless. They might start to read something but if they’re not immediately hooked by the content, they’ll give up and move on. Visuals keep the attention of the viewer and delivers the same information at no extra effort to the viewer. Something to remember with video marketing is that YouTube is not the only platform to release video content. As the world becomes more mobile, it’s key to remember apps like Instagram or newer ones like Tik Tok, utilize the vertical video model. These types of videos are a great return on investment (ROI) as they usually require low production costs. They are more sharable than other forms of content and also allow for consumers to interact with the content personally.

    Podcasts are similar to videos in that consumers are not “plagued” with having to read. Although podcasts lack the visual aspect that videos have, podcasts come with a distinct advantage. Videos require the consumer to limit the kinds of activities they can perform while watching. Podcasts are much more consumable because they don’t have visual component. You can listen to a podcast anywhere, even while driving, running, biking, trying to fall asleep, working, etc. On top of this perk, podcasts can be basically cost free and have the ability to be interactive with the audience. An important thing to mention is the low competition within this market. Every business is most likely producing content on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter but most have ignored podcasts. That being said, podcasts continue to grow in popularity. According to Apple in 2018, there were 550,000 podcasts and 18.5 million episodes. Now, there are 850,000 podcasts and 30 million episodes. The earlier you add this strategy into your marketing plan, the less competition you will have later. Podcast listeners are notoriously loyal; the larger the audience you can gain early on, the easier it will be in the long term.

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) Is Here to Stay

    Regardless of whether computers will eventually take over the world or if your smart speaker is secretly listening to you, for now, AI is a useful tool for you and consumers. As it becomes more prevalent, it’s important that you notice how it affects consumer behaviors while also utilizing it yourself to change your strategies.

    As Siri, Alexa, and a slew of others continue their battle for dominance in the smart speaker industry, the behaviors of consumers have changed. People are increasingly using their smart speakers to search things. Language is a very odd thing. For some reason, we write differently than we speak. For instance, if talking to a smart speaker you might say, “Hey Alexa, where’s the closest grocery store?” However, when searching on Google you would likely type, “Grocery store near me.” This may not seem like a monumental difference to you, but it has a significant impact for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is why adding “long-tail keywords”, 3-5 word long conversational phrases or questions people use to search, into your content is important if you want to try to secure a prestigious Alexa shout out.

    On the flipside of AI, it’s making the lives of businesses easier too. When marketing, you have to try to think of every variable possible and make sense of all the numbers. This can be extremely hard, and patterns can become lost among the data. However, AI can recognize patterns in consumer behaviors, which individuals are most likely to buy, and identify potential customers. AI can also learn the type of consumer that is interacting with your content and adjust accordingly. Similar to how Facebook will target you with certain ads that are personalized or how Spotify will recommend new music that is based on what you like, AI can do the same for your content. Doing this creates a personalized experience for the consumer and are more likely to return because you supplied them with content relevant to their interests.

     

    Micro-Influencers Continue to Gain Popularity

    Conventional wisdom tells us to reach the largest audience possible to maximize our reach. If you team that up with the influencer industry, you probably believe that an influencer with millions of followers has the best return on investment (ROI). Well, turns out, the little guys are much better at their job.

    Micro-influencers have a very unique and coveted ability. Unlike large influencers, they can actually – you know – influence. Micro-influencers have a following of between 10,000 and 50,000 on social media. These small numbers have prominent advantages. The smaller your numbers, the more engagement you get from your followers. People often feel drowned out in a larger audience. With fewer followers, people open up more and feel they’re able to engage more personally with the influencer. These people also feel like they’re having a more authentic experience with the influencer given that the influencer is able to interact with a larger percentage of their audience. The audience the influencer has cultivated is extremely specific too. Choosing the right influencer that fits your verticals ensures that the people viewing the content are the ones most likely to engage with your business. This audience is also more likely to buy something that the influencer recommends than from a larger influencer. Teaming up with micro-influencers is cheaper than gambling on a big shot with millions of followers.

    At the end of the day, you have to choose the trends that are best for you company. Not every new tip or trick will be helpful, but knowledge is power. There’s no such thing as staying too informed and you never know when some piece of information will come in handy.

     

  • March 4, 2020

    Diversity and Business: A Recipe for Success

    We’ve all seen it before. A pride month like Black History Month comes around and it seems like every other company is tweeting a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. and then calling it a day. Supportive? …Not really. There’s so much more a company can do to enact real change in their own business practices to support diversity and inclusion. You can talk the talk. Now here’s how to walk the walk.

    Diversity – In your business, it is extremely important to include people of all backgrounds and experiences at every level of the company. Many groups are often underrepresented in business environments and the effects can be seen when trying to reach diverse communities through advertising and marketing. Prioritizing diversity in your company gives access to new financial and social capital for these underrepresented groups. This not only allows your company to be more inclusive of everyone but is also great for the business’s future success. The more diverse your staff and leadership team becomes, the more perspectives you have to innovate and propel your company to new heights. Diversity is not skin deep, behind each person is a different experience, idea, and outlook. Business is unpredictable, you constantly need to adapt and think creatively to solve problems. That’s where diversity comes in, each unique perspective is another opportunity to solve the problem faster. And as we all know, time is money.

    Staff Training – Diversity is obviously very important in business, but it’s what you do with that diversity that matters. Inclusion is the next step in encouraging opportunities for multicultural groups. Diversity is an asset for businesses and ensuring that staff members are able to recognize where an employee’s unique perspective benefits the company is paramount in utilizing it. Position their talent in an effective way that highlights their skills and their story. Diversity is just as important in the top tiers of the business as it is on the lower tiers.

    Training your staff is also about familiarizing them with different cultures they may not have ever experienced. It’s important to realize that most of the time people aren’t being purposely ignorant of other cultures. Unfortunately, many people have never had the opportunity to interact with these cultures and training is a great way to introduce them. Having your staff understand new cultures provides a healthy environment among employees. A major part of business is keeping your employees happy and the best way is creating a workplace where everyone is comfortable with whom they work with. This level of comfort is also transferred to customers. The more comfortable and accepted everyone feels in your business, the more customers will be driven there.

    Professional Development Programs – A great way to promote diversity and inclusion in your business is to give minorities an avenue to move up in the company and develop or create new skills. Johnson & Johnson has been on the forefront of this. They offer resource groups, mentor programs, and have even established a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer that reports directly to the CEO. Creating similar programs can help your company’s overall diversity and truly support the variety of cultures you employ. Once you have a flow of people in programs such as these, it brings the whole thing full circle. You now have diversity being implemented in your business promoting innovation, creating a healthy environment, and high-level employees familiar with diversity to continue to the progression within your company.

    These steps create ongoing changes to a business to support diversity and equality for employees. It promotes real change within these groups and provides them with opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable. Showing support is one thing, actively supporting is another.

  • February 17, 2020

    3 Emerging Social Media Platforms Every Brand Should Be Using

    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.

     

     

     

  • February 7, 2020

    The Washington Blade: A Case Study on Multicultural Advertising in LGBTQ Communities

    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 Results:

    • 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.

  • December 17, 2019

    Marketing Trends for 2020

    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.

  • December 6, 2019

    HOLIDAY MARKETING TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

    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.

    SPIRITED CROSS-PROMOTION

    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.

    Branding

    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!

    Production

    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.

    Outreach

    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.

     

    HOLIDAY ADVERTISING

    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.

    Display Ads

    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

    To learn more about social media platforms that you can use to increase your ROI please take a look at our blog post on Cost-Effective Ad Types for Small Businesses.

    Remarketing

    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”.

    Email Marketing

    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!

  • November 26, 2019

    A HOW-TO GUIDE TO LIVE VIDEO MARKETING

    Have you ever thought about streaming live video for your brand or business? Here’s a quick and easy guide to producing and promoting your next live video.

     

    What is Live Video?

    Live video is streaming video content sent in compressed form over the Internet and displayed by the viewer in real-time.

     

    Live video gives brands the opportunity to connect with fans and customers on a far more genuine, personal level than polished and produced videos.

    Used strategically, live video can leverage a brand’s audience as content producers, creating truly authentic content.

    Consumers can view live content through services such as Twitter, Snapchat and Twitch. According to eMarketer, Facebook Live, YouTube Live and Instagram are among the most preferred channels to view live video.

    Why Live Video is a Winner

    According to eMarketer, U.S. companies will invest heavily in video content with special attention given to live video (i.e. Instagram Stories, newsfeed videos, live streaming, IGTV, etc.) in the next 12 months.

    For brand awareness, relationship building, and even direct sales, live video will become an increasingly effective marketing channel that will shape the industry for years to come.

    Marketers should consider live stream video for the following purposes:

    • To connect with your audience in the most genuine, human way possible

    Live video allows brands to meet fans in person since the event is happening “face to face” and in real-time. Live video gives you a chance to show there are real, caring humans behind your business, which in turn helps to builds trust and leads to more business prospects in the door.

    • To answer questions in real-time

    Interacting with fans and followers doesn’t have to be limited to when we are checking back in our social media pages. Live video also allows for the opportunity to answer followers’ questions in real-time, which provides an opportunity to engage with viewers when they’re most interested.

    • To showcase an event to people who couldn’t attend in real life

    Live video is a great way to broadcast events and connect with fans who aren’t able to attend in person. Just make sure the internet connection is strong and permissions to stream the event live have been secured before going live.

     

    Live Video Event Ideas

    There’s an overwhelming number of ideas out there about how to create a viral live video, but little practical advice. These four techniques will show you how to do just that.

    Interviews

    While how-to videos might be one of YouTube’s most-searched video types, they’ve become incredibly popular on Facebook Live, as well. You can use the live streaming platform to not only demonstrate how your own product or services work but also to show how to perform tasks related to your industry. Doing so builds your reputation as a helpful, trustful brand.

    The best strategy to do this effectively is to create a recurring series where you share information around lesser-known facts about your respective space and answer fan questions as they come up.

    To nail this strategy:

    • be consistent with the time and day of the week you go live,
    • feature hosts that aren’t afraid to show off their personalities,
    • and ensure you have someone ready to monitor questions so you can answer them either in real-time in the comments or in the actual broadcast itself.

     Behind the Scenes

    Generally speaking, your fans only see the forward-facing side of the brand — the side that markets to them and wants to continuously impress them with engaging content. But if you use live video to take them behind the scenes, you’ll find brand loyalty and interest will grow. Give your audience a peek behind the curtain, almost always taking them someplace they couldn’t otherwise go.

    You can do this by:

    • showing fans preparations for a highly anticipated event,
    • revealing the process of how something is made,
    • providing a BTS lens into talent’s media interviews or PR stunt,
    • or by letting them follow along with a particular expert employee’s “day-in-the-life” or daily duties.

    Challenges

    Everyone loves a good challenge! If your brand has an idea for a competition or challenge which can be broadcast live, don’t hesitate to do so via live video. You’ll attract your fair share of viewers, but you’ll also reap the benefits of views on the archived live stream or in post-promotion of the video. Encourage your audience to share in the challenge at home (if they’re safely able to) and report on their experiences in real-time using the chat feature.

    Demos/How-To Events

    How-to videos have become incredibly popular, especially on Facebook Live. You can use the live streaming platform to not only demonstrate how something works related to your company’s brand but also to show how to perform tasks related to your respective industry. Doing so builds your reputation as a helpful, trusted brand.

     

    How to Promote Live Video Streams

    While most of the live video content is followed up with consistent promotion, it’s important to remember live videos are more like an event than a blog post. In other words, you need to generate interest before the experience if you want to get that all-important viewership. The good news is most of the social channels supporting live video lets you target specific audiences and groups with your promotions. This is perfect for a more focused advertising campaign.

    Pre-Event

    • Social media announcement 1 week prior to the event.
    • Consider creating an event page for it on Facebook with a dedicated cross-promotion on your company’s Facebook page.

    Pre-Event

    • Publish reminder posts in the week leading up to the event (3 organic posts across social platforms max as to not inundate the audience with promotional messaging).

    During the Event

    • Publish tune-in posts to drive viewers to live event.
    • The event should go live at optimal posting times when the audience is most engaged.
    • Engage with viewers of the live event and take questions from the audience at moments throughout the discussion.

    Post-Event

    • Continue to promote the recorded live video following the broadcast for further viewership.

     

    Tips for Great Live Video Streams

    When setting out to produce a live video event, you should always follow the standard video production process as you would follow for any other video production. Here are a few more best practices to follow as you produce live video, specifically.

    Choose the Right Camera

    Mobile phones are best for “run-and-gun,” in-the-field moment, and though HD cameras are great, they sacrifice agility for higher video quality. Either way, be strategic about what video quality is necessary to tell your story best.

    Pre-Test Live Video

    Before going live, test things out by creating a practice video restricted to your eyes only on a private account on the platform you intend to go live. This will allow subjects to “get loose” and comfortable on the camera and will help ensure the lighting and sound are up to standards.

     Check Your Connections

    Connectivity is key. Test your connection before going live to be sure your broadcast does not cut out. Time permitting, go to the location shoot a day or two early and test connectivity. Decide beforehand if you will use Wi-Fi or cell service. And make sure to have a backup plan, because going live depends on solid connectivity.

    Face a Window

    Facing a window will give subjects a beautiful source of natural light and make them appear clear in the video frame. Additionally, remove the subjects’ glasses when filming. Glasses can pick up additional glare and can be distracting when filming.

     Film Horizontally on the Mobile Device

    Mobile phone users have the natural urge to film vertically since this is just how most are used to using a phone, but flipping the phone to a horizontal view yields a much nicer sized video. Horizontal videos look better all around, especially when displayed on the news feed.

    Audio is Still Important

    Best practices for radio also apply to live video. While you’re thinking through the production, don’t forget about audio. Low-level, off-mic or distorted audio will cause your audience to turn away.

    Among the practices to keep in mind:

    • Choose the right mic for the environment you’re in
    • Hold the mic close to the subject
    • Select the shot locations based on how it looks and how it sounds
    • Use a windscreen

     Smile, and Be Properly Caffeinated

    Listening to a monotone, unfriendly voice talking about a topic will put everyone in the audience to sleep. On the other hand, watching a video of an individual with an energetic and friendly demeanor will evoke positive feelings in your viewers and keep them hooked. Subjects should speak with a smile, wake up with some caffeine, and most importantly, be themselves. When possible, avoid a talking-head, broadcast model. Always look for ways to add interactivity or visual value.

    Optimize Go-Live Time for Pacific Standard Time (PST)

    Remember to schedule the live event at a time that offers the best chance to catch people’s attention. Optimize the go-live time for Pacific Standard Time (PST) to allow for more people to attend the stream. Consider scheduling the Live event for 2pm PST to catch West Coast viewers during the afternoon slump, East Coast viewers as they’re getting off work and European viewers as they’re tucking into bed.

    Have Someone Monitor Comments and Feed Questions

    With live video, it can be hard to host your video and reply to comments at the same time, which is why you should have a colleague answering your comments in text form, and prompting you to answer the most relevant questions during the actual broadcast.

     Talk Back to the Audience

    Interaction on live videos gives the audience a vote of authority and provides new viewers with confidence that they’re not wasting their time on snooze-worthy content. During the broadcast ask questions, and then ask your viewers to reply in the comments. Ask them to like and share the post. Perhaps even run a live contest asking them to like, share and comment on the post to be entered into a free giveaway raffle.

     Call Out Commenters by Name

    When answering questions over the broadcast make sure you call out the user by their first name. This helps build even more of a connection and will make them feel special that you chose to answer their question live.

     Give an Actionable Sign-Off

    After the broadcast, tell viewers what we want them to do with a strong call-to-action. Do you want them to like the company Facebook page for a discount subscribers code? Share the recording on their page or in their stories? Whatever it may be, be sure to end your live video event with something actionable for viewers to do.

    Promote the Video Post-Broadcast

    Once the video is done livestreaming, publish organic posts for fans who were unable to attend the live event. Additionally, consider boosting the post and running an ad campaign just like on the other Facebook videos and posts. Take advantage of the audience and geo-targeting features to get the recorded live video in front of a larger but still relevant audience.

     Analyze Performance

    After the video has been up for a few days, take a look at the analytics and see how the live video performed. There you’ll be able to see metrics that matter most to your live video event depending on the platform like minutes viewed, unique viewers, video views, 10-second views, average % completed, number of reactions, comments, and shares. Facebook, for instance, provide metrics specific to live video around peak live viewers, total views, average view time people reached, and demographics of who watched. Using these metrics will allow you to continue to perfect your live video strategy going forward.