Setting Your Marketing Goals for 2018

shutterstock_578273836With 2018 now in full force, it’s likely you have your strategic business goals prepared and ready for execution. Hopefully, the marketing aspect of your business received just as much love during strategic planning sessions for this year, but in the off chance it didn’t, or if you’re looking to optimize your marketing plan for the new year, read on!

When setting your marketing goals for 2018, I highly encourage you to consider these points. In doing so, you’ll have a robust plan that is easily understood, integrative, and ready for execution:

  1. Identify what did and didn’t work in 2017

Like anything in life, it’s best to learn from your shortcomings; the same mentality should apply to your business and how you market it. Begin by reviewing any marketing or campaign-specific data you may have from the year prior. This data may stem from Google Analytics or any other web analytics tool your company may use, social media analytics, email marketing results and lead tracking (web or otherwise). Upon reviewing the data, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Where did these leads come from? Did they result from a campaign or organic search?
  2. Was the messaging tailored to a unique audience?
  3. Was my website, landing page, or collateral optimized for conversions?
  4. Did customers interact with my brand the way I intended them to? Did I follow-up with them as often as I should have?

You may notice that while you had great campaign ideas, the execution was off. Slight tweaks of the same campaign based on answers to the above questions could result in an entirely different outcome!

  1. Consider your resources

As small businesses, we often don’t have the luxury of having a marketing department or team. Your marketing team may only consist of a coordinator or manager, or perhaps even just yourself! Bearing that in mind, make 2018 the year you introduce automation to your business. With automation, you’ll provide your marketing personnel with more time to focus on tasks that really matter, such as strategic planning and business development.

Or, if finances permit, expand your marketing team. Get specific with what you need. Do you require a generalist who can complete as many different tasks as possible, or is a specialist of some sort what you require? You may consider hiring a marketing agency that has all of the above and more, and can be more cost-effective than hiring an additional full-time staff member.

  1. Be realistic

First things first, yes, all companies want to grow and make more money; however, it’s important to remain realistic with the amount of growth you achieve and how quickly you attain this growth. Remember, good marketing takes time. While you’ll want to see a direct impact on your ROI, the fact of the matter is, revenue growth from new leads and customers will not be noticed until the next quarter or even later on in the year; or, years to come. Of course, this all depends on the type of business you have and the industry you’re in, but the importance remains that you should be focused on building your funnel at this time.

What are you waiting for?

I too often hear from business owners how they require assistance with marketing their business, yet it somehow is always placed on the back burner. By setting your marketing goals now, you’ll have a clear and concise plan that you can refer to throughout the year. If you require assistance with developing a marketing plan or executing marketing tasks, give CreativeWorks Marketing a call today!

Advertisements

Marketing in 2018: What’s Next?

p-247-ae-0040-lIt’s hard to believe that 2017 has come and gone, but if I’m being honest with myself I tend to have that same thought every year. As business owners, our time and attention are focused on year-end financial statements this time of year, analyzing what went right and wrong for our businesses.

You may find that certain things worked well when it came to marketing your business, and others, not so much. Don’t fret! As in year’s past, this is an exciting time for marketing, and with the right strategic approach, you’re bound to find something that works for you.

If you’re looking to change things up in 2018, you’ll definitely want to consider some of these trends as part of your marketing mix:

  1. Live Video and Augmented Reality
    The past couple of years have seen the explosion and experimentation of live video on social platforms, and Augmented Reality on mobile apps, with wild success. In the next few years, expect to see even more of it, and in different applications, so users can really become a part of the brand experience. When consumers are engulfed in these experiences, not only do they enjoy them and come to associate positive emotions with your brand, but they also come to trust it more – which in turn could lead to more sales.
  2. Content Marketing
    Content marketing is becoming an increasingly powerful way of connecting with your audience. Not only does the content provide relevant information for your customers, but it can also position you as thought leaders in your industry and excite the Google gods by improving your online presence. What are you waiting for? Start up a blog and tell your clients what you’re up to! Your blog is both a creative and inspiring way of reminding your clients as to why they are working with you.
  1. Video Marketing
    Voice recognition software and chatbots are becoming all the rage with many companies. While this is certainly a good goal to have, start off with creating some quality videos that will let your clients know everything about your unique business. The benefits of video are simply undeniable.

BONUS: AI Technology

The day has finally arrived, and robots are now fully integrating into all aspects of our lives; marketing included. This innovative technology can streamline marketing processes by way of extreme personalization; according to VRTY CEO Kingston Lee-Young, “Marketers will be better able to understand the likes and dislikes of a customer and determine what specific branded content should be served to them. Because customers are more loyal when they see marketing specifically targeting them based on their behaviors, these advances will allow marketers to more effectively engage with their prospects and customers”. The technology of course isn’t cheap, but it’s proven to be very effective in its early applications.

As a marketing leader and business owner with nearly 20 years of experience, I’ve seen several trends come and go, but one thing is for sure: Having a strategic approach to all that you do, especially with marketing, will result in a better ROI for your business. Are you as excited for these trends as I am? Contact CreativeWorks Marketing today for help putting together a marketing mix that’ll make sense for your business in 2018!

Does Your Brand Walk the Walk?

k-10-ice-3210-20370-lyj0923-02-brandingWhat happens when brands talk the talk but don’t walk the walk? Well, recently, employees from one of Canada’s largest and most-recognized telecommunications company have made claims that the company does not represent the values it stands for in one of its most successful campaigns.

If you follow my blog closely, you would have read by now the importance I stress on branding and having a brand that is true to what you and your company believe in. But if your brand lacks synergy with the reality of your operations, as is with the case mentioned above, there can be real and damaging consequences to your business.

In my 20 years as a marketing leader and expert, I’ve helped craft brand identities from tried and true methods but have also bared witness to countless brands that have failed to resonate with consumers due to various reasons.

So, what can a brand misalignment mean for your business?

  1. Upset Customers, Bitter Employees
    In today’s digital age, there’s no hiding from a disgruntled customer. Social media and review sites have paved the way for upset customers to air their bad experiences with the click of a button. According to AdWeek, 81% of customers conduct online research before making a purchase. A good brand will ensure that the sales experience is a pleasant one and is based on the entirety of a customer’s experience with your company; not just your logo.

    Additionally, employees have influence over your brand’s perception as well. With websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed, future hires and even customers can get an inside glimpse on what it’s like to work for a company – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  1. Bad PR
    There’s the old saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. I would humbly disagree. Remember when the documentary Blackfish was released and SeaWorld’s stock dropped by half since 2013, even though they “protect animals and the wild wonders of our world”? Or how about when Target failed to secure their customers’ data from a breach resulting in a loss of at least $148 million and leading their customers to “expect more” from the company? For a small business, a drastic hit in revenue caused by bad PR would likely mean closing shop.

Luckily, even the most established of brands can revitalize themselves. Here’s how you can ensure you walk the walk when it comes to your brand:

  1. Be True to Who You Are
    A brand can make any claim they want, but they need to be able to back up their claims if and/or when they are questioned on them. If your company is known for its excellent customer service or award-winning products, use it to your advantage! Basing your brand on real, positive experiences of customers will give you an edge over the competition’s brand ambiguity.
  1. Brand Values Start From Within
    Your employees are an extension of your brand. Much like how you would turn to customer perception for assistance in developing your brand, your internal staff should also play a role. Ask them what they think the company stands for, and find a common theme that you can pull from to establish a relatable brand for all stakeholders. The more your employees feel included, the better they will represent the brand in their roles!

No matter the size of your company, a successful brand will ensure that its values are felt throughout the company. In the end, baseless or contradictory claims will only cause more harm than good. If you need help creating a cohesive brand identity, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today!

What Went Wrong: Dove’s Soap Ad

4c1cef69993af497-2048x1024

Image courtesy of The Daily Dot

In the next of our, “What Went Wrong” series, I’d like to explore a recent controversial advertisement aired by Dove. For years, Dove has created a brand that’s reflective of “real beauty” for women, meant to relate to all women despite their physical characteristics. The personal care brand has launched several successful marketing campaigns in the past; most notably their Dove Campaign for Real Beauty which aims “to celebrate the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves”, according to the company.

But what happens when your brand values are misinterpreted in advertising, thus resulting in public backlash?

If you’ve yet to see Dove’s latest commercial, watch it here.

Here are the reasons why I think this campaign failed in its execution:

Issue One: Lack of attention to racial sensitivities

It makes sense that Dove would cast models of different ethnic backgrounds in their ads. They are, of course, a company that prides themselves on inclusion. But central to the failed execution of this campaign is the order in which they chose to introduce each woman combined with the product they were selling. This lack of attention to detail led to public outcry of Dove being racially insensitive.

The ad was criticized because many people interpreted a black woman ‘changing’ into a white woman to be an inappropriate message – especially for a beauty company. It’s important to note that the reaction to this ad was swift and clear, with almost no one coming to the more positive conclusions that Dove intended.

Tip #1: Before releasing an advertisement of any kind, show it to a few people who come from diverse backgrounds. This exercise will provide you with important feedback and allow you to make any necessary changes to the ad prior to it going live.

Issue Two: Failure to learn from competitors

Yet again, and much like the last campaign I analyzed, brands fail to learn from past mistakes. Dove is not the first company to be in the spotlight for airing a racially insensitive commercial. Remember this commercial that sparked public outrage last year?

In the past, there are many historical examples of soap and personal hygiene ads utilizing racially charged images. Some of these include overtly racist images of people of colour scrubbing their skin to become white, and some show more subtle images of women using makeup and beauty products to make their skin lighter. However, there are numerous examples of ads with this messaging that have consistently provoked outrage, and it’s important that companies study past marketing mistakes in order to avoid them in the future.

Tip #2: If you’re launching a new campaign, conduct competitor research first to gain insight on what has and has not worked for the competition.

A successful campaign is not necessarily one that has an infinite budget. As a small business, if you put in the time and energy to know who your customers are, you’ll be able to create tailored messages that resonate with your audience, and thus convert more leads. For assistance in finding out who your customers are, contact the team at CreativeWorks Marketing today!

What Went Wrong: Kendall Jenner and Pepsi

spl1473920-006

Image courtesy of New York Daily News

In our next series, coined “What Went Wrong,” I’ll be discussing recent controversial marketing campaigns and providing an analysis of why I feel they may have failed.

My goal of this series is to share my analysis of a campaign so that you can see that even the ‘larger’ brands don’t always get it right and also to give you an opportunity to learn from these mistakes and avoid them when it comes to marketing your business.

This week, we’ll look at Pepsi’s Live for Now advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner.

If you haven’t yet seen the “canned” commercial, click here to watch it.

Here are my reasons for why this campaign may have failed to resonate with consumers:

Issue One: Wrong message at the wrong time

It’s no secret that the U.S. is currently in a hyper-politicized state. The intended aim of this campaign was to provide commentary on the current social and political injustices in the country. How Pepsi chose to do this though, in regards to their solution to these injustices, is what led to public outcry.

Shots from the advertisement appear to mimic Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, with a particularly well-known image of protestor Iesha Evans facing two police officers in Baton Rouge. When Kendall Jenner simply hands a Pepsi to one of the police officers, the outcome is joy and applause; if only solving racial injustices was that easy.

Advertisements that choose to make a commentary on societal issues must address them with empathy and sincerity, or risk coming across as tone-deaf, or worse, exploitative.

Tip #1: Be mindful and cautious of the stances you take on politically charged issues, even if your heart is in the right place.

Issue Two: Utilizing controversial celebrities

Celebrity endorsement is nothing new when it comes to selling products or services, especially for big brands. But selecting Kendall Jenner to be the new face of Pepsi proved to not be so wise. While Kendall Jenner has achieved tremendous success in her career, she has also received criticism in the past for appropriating black culture and for copyright infringement.

Businesses must be extremely careful that the public figures that represent their brand have not been involved past controversies. These past missteps should have been taken into account, especially in an advertisement that seemed to mimic Black Lives Matter protests.

Tip #2: Similar to celebrity endorsement for large brands, you may want to choose influencer marketing as a marketing technique. Before selecting an influencer, ensure the influencer you choose aligns with your values and is free from controversy that may tarnish your brand.

Issue Three: Not learning from past mistakes

In 2013, Pepsi-owned Mountain Dew released an advertisement featuring an injured woman on crutches identifying a criminal from a police lineup of 5 African-American men. The ad was immediately criticized as insensitive towards the serious issues of violence against women and systemic racism in the criminal justice system. It’s crucial that businesses understand feedback and criticism and ensure that past mistakes are not repeated.

Tip #3: It’s always important to publicly address negative criticism in the online world. If your business has received a negative comment or review on a social platform or search engine, take some time to respond to the unhappy consumer by addressing their concern and providing any assistance in resolving the manner. That is, of course, if the comment does not contain obscene wording or profanity, in which case deleting the comment would suffice.

As a small business, it’s important that your marketing is executed in a strategic manner. As we’ve seen with this controversial story, one wrong move could lead to the demise of your business. Contact the professionals at CreativeWorks Marketing today for assistance with your marketing campaigns!

What Does It Really Mean Series: Video Marketing

video-1606945_1280.pngIn the last of our “What Does It Really Mean?” series, I’d like to explore the term Video Marketing. Although you may not be familiar with the term Video Marketing, you’ve no doubt come across video while interacting on social media platforms, using mobile apps or watching television. Video is everywhere and becoming more popular by the day! A Cisco study predicts that by 2019 video will represent 80% of all Internet traffic.

What is video marketing and what can it be used for?

Of all the terms we’ve delved into in this series, Video Marketing is the simplest to explain. It means using video to promote or market your brand, product or service. Video Marketing is incredibly versatile and it can be used very effectively on your website, social media channels and YouTube for many things including:

  • Promoting your brand
  • Product demonstrations/information
  • Testimonials
  • How- to videos
  • Corporate training
  • Live stream events
  • Entertainment
  • And more

What are the benefits of Video Marketing?

There is an abundance of data proving that Video Marketing can raise awareness of your brand/products/services, promote your company, drive sales and/or engage your customers.

  • Video is an SEO gold mine, helping build backlinks to your site, boosting likes and shares (which can affect search rankings), and driving traffic to your site (Content Marketing Institute)
  • Adding a video to your website can increase the chance of a front page Google result by 53 times (Comscore)
  • Almost 75% of marketers agreed that video is key to driving conversions (Demand Metric survey)
  • After watching a video, customers are 64%-85% more likely to make a purchase
  • Some statistics indicate that on Facebook, a video post offers a whopping 135% greater reach than a post with a photo (Demand Metric survey)
  • Email subject lines that include the word “video” see a 19% increase in openrates, and a 65% boost in click-throughs (Content Marketing Institute)
  • Marketers who are using video are seeing 49% faster growth in revenue (Aberdeen Research)

Are major brands using Video Marketing?

Absolutely! Major brands worldwide have jumped on the video bandwagon. A well-planned, well-executed Video Marketing campaign is a great way to showcase your brand, differentiate you from your competition and help you build an emotional connection with your audience in 60 seconds or less.

Brands including Nike, Hotels.com, Airbnb, Under Armour, Coca Cola and Toyota are just a few that have embraced Video Marketing with a passion. In fact, major brands are not only creating their own YouTube channels but 61 of the top 100 brands now embed YouTube videos on their websites (Content Marketing Institute). Some brands are combining professionally produced content with user-generated content like candid reaction videos. The results both engage and entertain, and that’s the goal.

Should you be using Video Marketing?

Video marketing is so effective that I recommend that every marketing campaign incorporates video into the mix. However, this is not as simple as point and shoot. A badly done video is worse than no video at all. Although user-generated video can be used with professional video in a campaign, it should not be used on its own. Producing a video requires a professional expertise that’s not typically found in-house.

Our production arm, CreativeWorks Productions, is a full-service video production company with well-seasoned producers, and a highly skilled crew with decades of experience working on video productions for private companies to public ones such as the CBC, CTV, Rogers, and Alliance Atlantis. Contact the professionals at CreativeWorks Marketing today to discuss how we can integrate Video Marketing into your marketing and deliver professional results.

What Does It Really Mean Series: Mobile Friendly

electronics-1851218_1280Next in our “What Does It Really Mean?” series is the term Mobile Friendly. I admit it sounds odd to think of mobile in terms of it being friendly or unfriendly. However, the reality is that for most businesses to succeed in this competitive marketplace, understanding what Mobile Friendly is all about is very important.

What does it mean to be mobile friendly?

We typically think that mobile friendly means responsive design – a website detects the screen size of the user and delivers your site’s content in a way that’s optimized for that screen size. However, mobile friendly refers to more than just websites; it means that all aspects of your marketing and sales efforts play well on mobile devices. After all, don’t you engage with your customers via email and on a variety of social media platforms? These forms of engagement can all be impacted by mobile.

According to Google, a website must include the following features to be classified as “mobile friendly” by their Googlebots:

  1. It avoids software that’s not common on mobile devices (like Flash)
  2. Uses text that is readable without zooming (don’t make users pinch to zoom)
  3. Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  4. Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped (design for the fat finger)

Why is it important for your company to be mobile friendly?

Last year, the CRTC stated in its Communications Monitoring Report that there are 28.8 million wireless subscribers in Canada. As well, a new Pew Research report states that 67% of Canadians own a smartphone. As the use of mobile devices increases, Canadians are spending more time on mobile apps than ever, even as global growth in mobile app use slows down. And, you need to be where your customers are – on mobile devices. According to Flurry, Canadian mobile app use grew by an average rate of 74% in 2016, far exceeding the global average of 11%. The top five categories of apps all had 55% growth or more:

  1. Health
  2. Fitness
  3. Shopping
  4. Business
  5. Finance

How being mobile friendly improves the customer experience

The best way to differentiate your company from the competition is by providing an exceptional customer experience. Being mobile friendly is an increasingly important part of that customer experience. With more of your customers engaging on mobile devices, you have to ensure that not only your website, but your company, is mobile friendly. Your customers’ experiences have to be consistent across all devices. You want your customers engaged and coming back for more. Unsatisfied customers look elsewhere.

Geo- location targeting can also enhance the customer experience. A mobile device can identify its location and report it to an ad server that maintains a database of location data and ad campaigns. When a customer enters a particular location, the ad server will send relevant ad notifications to their mobile device. Have you ever walked in a store and immediately got a text message offering you $10 off on your next purchase of $50 or more? That’s geo-location targeting.

Marketing campaigns use geo-targeting to reach the right audience because location does impact demographics and buying behaviour.

In order to reach your customers on all devices and provide them with a stellar customer experience, I believe that it’s important for every company to be mobile friendly. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming mobile friendly or are ready to take the plunge, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today. We have the technical expertise to ensure that your customers are engaged and coming back for more. And we’ll be to explain everything to you in real people-speak and work with you to determine the best approach for your company.