Author: CreativeWorks Marketing

Doug Hohener is the President of CreativeWorks Marketing. Doug has over 20 years of marketing experience gained through working for the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM) and media giant Alliance Atlantis, before opening the doors to his own business in 1995. He is a member in good standing with several industry organizations including IABC, Canadian Marketing Association, and the Internet Marketing Association (IMA). He continues to pursue professional development opportunities.

Ensuring Your Marketing Campaign is Politically Correct

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 11.10.51 AMMarketing is all about ensuring your target audiences successfully receive your brand’s message. So how do you ensure your message isn’t misinterpreted? How do you protect your brand from backlash in today’s highly attentive market?

Here are some of my suggestions to preserve your brand’s intended messaging:

Pay Attention to Common Sensitivities

Some examples of societal sensitivities are gender, sexual orientation, and race. Take a look at last year’s Dove ad, for instance, which many people interpreted as racist.

Before launching a marketing campaign, discuss sensitivity precautions with your marketing department or agency. Together, you may determine that setting up a focus group is in your business’s best interest. Sharing your marketing material with a controlled group of consumers is a precious form of market research. With it, you can test whether or not your messaging resonates with your target audiences. If multiple people come back with the same sensitivity concerns, you can make any necessary changes to the campaign before you go live.

Be Wary of Pop Culture References

While you may want to use current pop culture references or trends in your marketing, it’s important to know their historical background and what they really mean. Because of the rise of social media, marketing messages are more public and accessible than ever, allowing the general public and consumers to be more critical of businesses in an open forum. Not even art is exempt from political correctness, as the Art Gallery of Ontario recently acknowledged by issuing an apology for “racist costumes” at a fundraiser.

Avoid Getting Political

The reason many businesses succeed where others fail is because they learn from other businesses’ mistakes. For instance, you can learn from Pepsi’s marketing mishap last year. Marketing campaigns that choose to touch on political issues must address them with empathy and sincerity. Otherwise, your business may come across as selfish for taking advantage of a serious matter for personal gain.

Research Target Market Influencers

Where multi-billion-dollar companies use celebrity endorsements, you can use influencer marketing to maximize your audience reach. However, you must be extremely careful that the public figures that represent your brand have not been involved in past controversies. Before selecting influencers, thoroughly research what they stand for to ensure their values align with yours.

As a business owner, it is essential that you consider how every detail of your campaign could affect consumers. Even after reviewing your marketing campaign from every angle, there could be unexpected backlash. For this reason, you may want to have an action plan in place. Last month, a Starbucks PR nightmare was prevented because of the company’s swift response to rectify a racial controversy by implementing racial bias training. You could also consider hiring a community manager to advocate for your brand on social media.

For a second pair of eyes on an upcoming campaign or for further advice on how to recover from a recent backlash, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today.

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What’s the Difference in Selling Your Product or Your Brand?

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 12.02.57 PMAs a business owner, you probably hear about the importance of branding all the time. However, I’ve seen many small business owners confuse selling their product with selling their brand. You already thoroughly understand your product, but since 30% of Canadians base their purchasing decisions on their trust in certain brands, it’s essential to note the differences between the two.

When businesses come to me wanting a better ROI on their lead generation, I often find the issue is not with their product, but with understanding the difference between their product and their brand. If we push one without the other, the results can be sales stagnation. Products and branding should go hand in hand. To do this, you’ll need to understand how they are different. I’ve outlined below what I feel are the differences between products and branding and why these differences are significant.

Product

Your products are specifically the objects or services you provide to customers in exchange for payment. They fulfill your customers’ needs. There are likely many competing businesses that offer the same or similar products that would also adequately fulfill their needs, so it’s your job to convince your target market that your products are the best. That’s where your brand plays a key part!

Brand

Your brand is how your target market perceives you. When they think about your business, what words come to mind? If your customer surveys and reviews are coming back with negative descriptors like “slow”, “unavailable”, or “no follow-up”, it might be time to rethink your brand. The goal is for your brand to resonate with your customers.

Your product may fulfill your customers’ needs, but your brand fulfills your customers’ wants. When you and a competitor have similar pricing and quality, the business with the better branding comes out on top; it determines which business they want to purchase from.

Your brand is your promise to your customer. Your brand clearly differentiates your company from your competition, so your audience will not only understand who you are but also clearly identify your value and the benefits of buying your product. Strong branding equals increased business results. Believe it or not, businesses have just as much personality as people.

A short and simple way to remember the difference between your product and your brand is this: You sell your product, but your brand sells you.

For award-winning help with your branding and help determining your brand’s personality and the direction it should take, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today!

What We Should Learn from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica Fiasco

facebook, social media, marketing, marketing agencyIf you have accessed social media or any news source recently, you are likely just as dismayed as I am to hear about Facebook’s recent data breach.

If you’re not in the loop, here’s a rundown of what happened.

Even if you don’t avidly use social media for your business (which you may still want to consider), there is much to learn from this scandal. Here are my takeaways from a marketing perspective:

Continue Collecting Data

Whether you collect data from surveys, social media, loyalty programs, or any other form of data collection, don’t let Facebook’s data breach deter you. Data collection is essential in marketing. With it you can send customized offers and gain valuable product feedback for future improvements. Marketing without client data is marketing while blind.

Be Honest

When conducting a survey or asking clients to register for your loyalty program, it’s obvious to them what data you are collecting. What isn’t as obvious is what you will use the data for. I suggest including a disclaimer at the bottom of the survey or loyalty program confirmation email that states your intentions. Is there a chance that you may provide their information to a third party? If so, say so. It’s better to be honest now and get one less survey response than to be hit with a lawsuit later.

Review Your Privacy Policies

Now that you know some best management practices for client data collection, ensure that your existing privacy policies meet your clients’ expectations. If they don’t, now is definitely the time to update them with a fine-toothed comb.

Many of your clients likely won’t mind sharing personal details in order to receive some discount or other benefit from your business, but they are entrusting that data to you and only you unless you state otherwise. The trust between you and your clients is essential for your continued success; don’t squander it.

If you would like to discuss how data breaches might affect your business, call CreativeWorks Marketing today!

Celebrating a Milestone this Year? Make it a Marketing Success!

MilestoneCongratulations, your company is approaching a significant milestone! This is cause for celebration. You’re hyped, your employees are hyped, but how can you turn this into a marketing opportunity that also gets your clients hyped?

I believe that an anniversary milestone is a great way to highlight your legacy and communicate with clients what has led to your success. Here are a variety of different initiatives I would suggest to mark the outstanding occasion:

Update Your Brand

If the milestone you’re celebrating is an anniversary, it may be time to consider updating your brand. Your target audience, the market, and technology are constantly changing – perhaps you should too. I’ve seen many businesses keep stale brands for far too long, resulting in clients showing decreased interest.

You are your brand, and it is likely subconsciously analyzed every time a client visits your website, social media, trade show or conference booths, etc.  Updating your brand is a simple yet effective way to inform clients of the milestone and to let them know you are a leader of the future, backed with years of experience.

Generate Leads

I personally think that all businesses should make it their priority to learn as much as they can about their client base and target audience. The celebration of a milestone is an excellent opportunity to urge potential clients to submit their personal information for a chance to win a prize. Social media contests are proven to drive traffic and awareness of the company, so I suggest utilizing all of your existing social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. If you aren’t already on social media, now is the time to start!

For your existing clients that can’t get enough of you, show them your appreciation and generate new leads with a referral promotion. Offer a discount or another milestone-related incentive if they refer a new client.

Client Appreciation

As a thank you to the clients that helped you get you to where you are today, I recommend organizing a time-sensitive sweepstake, during which anyone who reaches out to you receives a small prize. And of course there’s no better way to show client appreciation than to invite them to a party! On the official day of the milestone, invite staff and clients to a celebration with food, drinks, music, and games.

I often find that celebrating important milestones boosts your employee morale, encourages client engagement, and increases your sales, propelling you to towards your next milestone goals. If you require assistance with your milestone marketing plan, give CreativeWorks Marketing a call today!

Marketing Agency vs. Internal Hire: Which Should You Choose?

Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 2.25.49 PMIt’s a question I hear often when meeting with small business owners: “Why should I hire a marketing agency over an internal resource?” Undoubtedly, it’s a fair question to ask, and one that I would encourage any small business owner to ask when seeking marketing expertise. The answer will be different for every business because each business has its own unique goals and challenges it faces.

With that said, here are some things to consider when deciding whether a marketing agency or internal resource will be the best asset for your business:

  1. A marketing agency is full-service and more cost-effective

Think about it – at a marketing agency, you’re given access to a full team of marketers and specialists, including project managers and strategists, web developers, graphic designers, and so on. When looking to hire an internal marketing coordinator, for example, it can be difficult to find someone who is proficient in all of these skills. By hiring a marketing agency, you’ll receive top-level quality work for less than what you’d typically pay a full-time coordinator.

  1. An internal resource will know the intricacies of your business

With a full-time internal hire, they’ll be exposed to your business for at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. As a result, they’ll know every little detail of your business, from service and product details to customer policies. An agency will only become aware of these intricacies if and when they are shared with the team. It’s important that internal resources share as much information as possible with their agency to get the best results from their marketing.

  1. A marketing agency will increase productivity of your internal team

As briefly mentioned in the first point, a marketing agency provides a full team of resourceful marketers waiting to be called upon for their knowledge and assistance. By hiring a marketing agency to support your internal team, you’ll provide them with more time to focus on their core tasks, while additional marketing-related tasks, whether strategic or tactical, can be assigned to the marketing agency to handle. By burdening your existing staff with an extensive list of actionable items, you may be contributing to a decline in productivity due to burnout or exhaustion.

So, what’s the verdict?

While it truly does depend on the needs of the business, I find that the best outcome for most businesses is often the result of a collaborative approach between internal resources and marketing agencies. Each party has value in its own right, and when internal resources are able to share business goals with their marketing agencies, that’s when you’ll see the most from your marketing efforts. Contact CreativeWorks Marketing to begin your collaborative marketing journey today!

Has Q1 Come and Gone with No Real Marketing?

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 2.40.10 PM.pngWe’re already two months into 2018, and if your company has been playing the guessing game when it comes to marketing, it’s time to take action! Even if marketing wasn’t a focal point of your annual strategic sessions, or if you don’t have the time or resources to make a robust annual plan, there’s one thing you can do, in particular, to ensure your marketing is as effective as possible: create a quarterly marketing plan.

Here are some reasons why I recommend creating a quarterly marketing strategy:

  • Quarterly results provide the motivation to continue. Although a quarterly marketing strategy is more detailed than a simple checklist, it is still a checklist of sorts. Once each part is completed, you earn a sense of accomplishment that urges you to continue.
  • Quarterly goals are less intimidating. With annual goals, it’s easy to delay tasks until the following week, month, or couple months down the road. Many of us are prone to bouts of procrastination if we allow them. Don’t allow them! Procrastination kills goals.
  • Quarterly goals give direction. If you don’t plan out where you want to go, how can you expect to get there? Going with the flow without a map could lead you to a dead end.

How to Start Your Quarterly Marketing Plan

  1. Identify your target audience. If you haven’t already done so, it’s important to define who is most likely to purchase and use your product or service. Market research is one of the most effective methods of figuring this out.
  2. Learn their behaviours. Is your audience online, or are they more prone to seeing your brand through traditional mediums such as print? You want your message to appear where your target audience is most likely to see it.
  3. Compile a list of key dates for the upcoming quarter. Do you have an upcoming tradeshow? Undoubtedly, you know you’ll need collateral for it. Running a webinar? With no promotion prior to the event, how else do you expect to drive attendance? By outlining upcoming initiatives or events, you can better plan what’s required to allow you more time to focus on attaining your goals.
  4. Set realistic goals. Marketing is intended to support the growth of your company. With that said, aligning business goals with marketing goals makes sense, and it ensures accountability for the entire company that does not rest solely on the marketing team.
  5. Make it a one-stop shop. Include all upcoming campaigns, ad buys, content posts, and other relevant promotions that provide both a macro and micro look at the quarter. This approach will help you allocate resources where need be, and will ensure you stay organized with all things marketing-related.

Remember, a quarterly marketing plan will be more beneficial than having no plan at all. Once you’ve hit your quarterly goals, don’t stop! Marketing isn’t a temporary, one-time solution. Stick to the plan you’ve made and make changes to it if necessary.

There’s no doubt in my mind that you will start to see better results from your marketing once you have a blueprint to follow. As always, if you need help with developing a quarterly marketing plan or anything else related to marketing, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today!

Marketing ROI: Is it Guaranteed?

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 12.06.14 PM.pngIf there’s one question I hear most often from business owners, it’s “how can you guarantee a ROI for marketing?” It’s a fair question, indeed, but one where the answer isn’t clear-cut. Undoubtedly, it’s good business sense to expect a return when you invest in something for your business; but when it comes to marketing, there are various factors business owners need to consider before axing a tactic that yields a low ROI.

Consider these factors when deciding if your marketing dollars are being spent wisely:

  1. What strategy or technique did you use?
    Marketing is a practice that incorporates many different tactics and techniques, and some strategies will have a direct ROI while others will not. For example, if you’re launching a lead generation campaign on Google AdWords, you can directly track the leads coming in from this source, while comparing the profit made from these leads against your budget. You’ll be able to clearly determine if the ROI is there or not. A similar approach can be used for trade shows. Did the revenue made from the show at least cover the cost of the booth and any other expenses it took to attend? Lead generation campaigns will be easier to track, but even still, some level of leniency should be applied when determining ROI. As I’ll explain, not all conversions are immediate, and this is something you definitely need to take into consideration.On the other hand, marketing practices such as branding or content marketing won’t necessarily yield a high ROI for your business. Does this mean these practices aren’t worth your time or investment? Absolutely not. These types of marketing tactics are important to keep your brand relevant and relatable for customers. No one likes a stale brand, and you should think of these tactics as a support to your lead generation campaigns.
  1. Is your pipeline robust?
    There’s value in building your pipeline. For every customer that converts into a lead, there are dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of other customers that come into contact with your brand and marketing messages. Some, if not many, of these other customers will result in future sales. That’s why consistent communication with both your current and potential customers is so important. Traditionally, it takes seven touches before someone notices and engages with your marketing message. It’s also why having a strategic marketing mix is vital to your marketing success, so customers are exposed to your brand through various mediums.Even if you have a transactional business, a well-defined brand experience will increase the chances of repeat business. And don’t forget: every customer is an influencer.

So to answer the question of whether marketing ROI is guaranteed: it depends. As business owners, it’s important we see the value in all facets of marketing that may not exactly yield a high ROI; however, I would highly recommend that past marketing initiatives be used for guidance when developing future marketing budgets. If you require assistance with developing a budget or marketing mix, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today!