Tag Archives: social media

A Decade of Marketing: a journey through change and transformation

18 Dec

When I began my career in marketing over a decade ago, my world was very different. Reflecting upon this time with what I now know, I admit that there was a lot of guesswork, trial and error was often a “strategy,” and the concept of tracking was a “nice to have.” It wasn’t just because it was early in my own career; it’s just how things were done. At the time, most of my clients were focused on their newspaper and direct mail efforts and were obsessed with the creative side of things. They reluctantly dabbled in digital media [which was barely a “thing”] with a “state-of-the-art” HTML website – and this was only when they had a few dollars left in the budget and were told ad nauseam it was a good idea. These approaches were acceptable for the time, but there’s been a LOT of evolution at a breakneck pace over the past decade. As a marketer, I’ve continued to run to keep up [and have enjoyed every minute of it]!

Truth be told, during the early 2000’s it was a bit of a “churn and burn” approach to marketing – which campaign can we implement now to obtain a few new customers, never to think about them again after purchase? Since there wasn’t much data analysis, when a client “felt” like something didn’t work, they’d pull the plug and often prematurely abort an otherwise successful program. Plus, social media was in its infancy and you were lucky if you carried the latest flip phone…

Fast forward to [almost] 2015 and it’s truly a different world. There are many things I’m grateful for – the focus on segmented, targeted messaging, a high level of importance placed on tracking and analytics and the power of the consumer. The last point might be the most significant switch – as marketers we need to constantly focus on customer experience, retention and communication preference. 10yrsThis concept is a wonderful touchstone to consider when planning and implementing marketing strategies. We now find ourselves continuously asking: What resonates with the customer? How do they like to be reached [via text, email, direct mail, etc.]? What does “great” look like to them? How can we better reach, speak with and connect with our customer?

Successful communication with the customer is hinged upon targeted messaging via the appropriate medium, not just about the creative campaign – this is a significant cultural shift in the world of marketing. The mass messaging approach of yester year is a waste of time, energy and resources. Today’s consumer is highly educated and motivated to purchase based on their needs and preferred buying habits. Understanding these preferences – and communicating to each consumer in a relevant way – is the key to capturing their business, making them a repeat buyer and [hopefully] obtaining referrals for your business and/or product.

The main way today’s consumers become so informed and savvy is through online research, including price  shopping, product reviews, and referrals from peer-to-peer interactions [social media]. These are the main reasons that today’s marketing strategies and tactics are so digitally focused. It’s important for potential clients to be able to find your business via online mediums. You’ll want to ensure that you’re online reputation is stellar; this is accomplished through online reviews, social media exposure and ongoing content [regular blog postings].

Regardless of the industry, times change and marketing is often a significant driving force. I know that both my professional and personal experiences have changed because of marketing. Those who pay attention to the changes, embrace the journey and transform along the way are the ones who’ll have the most success!

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Automate Your Marketing

23 Apr

What if there was something you could do to make marketing for your business easier? Marketing planning and implementation doesn’t have to be a cumbersome process. There are ways to make it easy, through planning, organization, reporting and partnerships with marketing professionals. Just as there are different professionals who work on homes – contractors, electricians, plumbers, painters, etc. – there is a diverse group of marketers available to help consult on and implement your overall strategy. Choosing experts to handle each task can help you maximize your return and stay committed to your overall strategy. So who are some of the potential partners who can assist you with marketing planning and implementation?

  • Strategists: Help you develop a budget, plan and calendar by incorporating initiatives with goals of increasing sales and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Designers: graphic artists who develop the creative and bring your marketing ideas to life. Designers should understand your industry, audience, goals, and objectives to deliver a product relevant to your customer’s needs.
  • Direct Mail Vendors: many direct response marketers provide a turn-key service, making it cost-effective and easy for you. These professionals provide tested direct mail designs, obtain prospect mailing lists, and handle printing and mailing of your direct mail marketing projects. Some direct mail vendors are industry specific and can provide samples and benchmarking data (how often they “get the phone to ring”) that appeal to your target consumer.

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  • Digital Marketing Specialists: in a constantly evolving digital marketplace, creating a content rich website and incorporating search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social media, blog development, video integration and responsive design is no small undertaking. Partnering with a digital marketing specialist will help you integrate online initiatives into your overall marketing strategy, drive traffic, update and maintain your site, plus grow and change with the evolving landscape which is critical to your overall marketing success.
  • Professional Video Production: if your budget permits, working with a professional production company on a regular or consultative basis will help you incorporate professional video into your online strategy, public relations campaign and in-office POS.
  • Marketing Analysts: working with a marketing analyst to track your return on investment (ROI) is a critical component of your marketing plan. Assessing your results on at least a quarterly basis is the best way to compare your marketing ROI against industry benchmarks and adjust your plan accordingly.

When choosing a marketing partner (or partners), open communication is key to creating a successful working relationship. When looking for a new vendor partner, consider the following questions:

  • Does the prospective vendor communicate their capabilities in a clear, precise and easy to understand format?
  • Are the prospective vendor’s costs comparable to the industry standard? Did you shop around?
  • Will the prospective vendor be able to provide solutions for your growing business?

You don’t have to go it alone. Working with marketing professionals, especially those who understand your industry, will help you achieve your goals and objectives, stay within your budget and assess the efficacy of your initiatives.

 
AHAA Marketing can help and/or recommend industry partners. Interested in learning more? Please contact Amanda Baker, Marketing Account Executive, at  abaker@ahaanet.com.

How About LinkedIn?

7 Apr

You Need a LinkedIn Strategy

Why?

Simple, because as the largest professional network on the Internet you will find anyone who matters to your business on there — from customers to prospects, from business partners to employees. The network adds two new members every second and is home to more than 250 million members worldwide. LinkedIn has become the place for professionals to gather. And, when you have so many interconnected entities gathering in one place, you need to have a plan.

LinkedIn Has Gone Beyond the Job Search

Your employees? They’re all over LinkedIn. From sales reps to the people in the back office. Most are on it weekly, many are on it a few times each day. They check it on their smartphones during breakfast and on their laptops during conference calls.

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LinkedIn – Can you afford to ignore it?

Sure, some employees will be job-hunting, yet the majority are using LinkedIn in many other ways. Ways that could benefit your business. They’re getting management advice from business thought leaders. They’re keeping up with industry trends. They’re searching for prospects. They’re building relationships with business professionals who will: buy from you, sell to you,or work for you. LinkedIn is bigger than the recruiting department. It touches all aspects of your business.

The People You Want to Connect with are on LinkedIn

People don’t buy from brands. They buy from people. When a client or prospect searches for people they’ve met, their LinkedIn profiles are likely to come up first. Employees use LinkedIn to represent both themselves and indirectly your company too. From a brand perspective, those profiles should be compelling. Ask your employees and most will reply, “I should do more with LinkedIn.” Yet, most of them are doing it poorly. Their photos aren’t professional looking, their profiles undersell their experience, and their networks are not relevant. These are the people who help create your brand, and they are often part of the first impression others will form of your business.

Help Yourself and Your Employees

There isn’t a simple solution to this issue. Each person’s use of LinkedIn depends on his or her role, as well as the industry, your company go-to-market strategy, and your overall company branding and messaging. For your company to get value from LinkedIn you will need to know what you want to accomplish, how your organization will get there, and how you will measure success. In other words, you’ll need a strategy.

Like all marketing programs (and make no mistake about it, this is also a marketing program) you have to set a strategy, then work toward implementation in a clear and deliberate way. Start small, focus on bang-for-the-buck; create a consistent brand message about your organization then ask your staff to use it in their profile. Develop a company page, so that when other people run across your employees the company information is clickable and exactly how you want it. Encourage your teams to build relevant industry contacts and ensure they are connected to one another right away. These are all solid building blocks.

Also, allow time for exploration and investigation. That time your staff is using to learn a leadership skill will manifest itself positively if you let it. The industry contacts that are cultivated from posting to related groups and interacting with regularity will have long-term value. Even the job hunting activities are beneficial in some ways, as keeping employees happy is often a matter of having a realistic perspective on market conditions.

Regardless of what you do, or how you prioritize it, give LinkedIn the respect it deserves. Craft a strategy then set about making it happen.