Business Strategy

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!

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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!

Here’s Why You’ll Want to Introduce AI to Marketing in 2018

hand-2722107_640.jpgIf you’re looking to keep up with the competition in your market, there’s no doubt about it; artificial intelligence (AI) is where you need to be. But what exactly does it mean, and how can you introduce it to your marketing mix? Introducing something new to your business can be intimidating, especially if it’s technology related, but AI is surely one of those things you don’t want to miss out on.

What is AI?

Simply put, AI is any intelligence displayed by a machine that mimics the natural intelligence of humans. This might be displayed through any function that we typically associate with thinking, such as learning, problem solving or decision-making. Have you recently visited a website that had a chat box pop up from what appeared to be a real customer service rep? Were they helpful? Maybe. Were they real? Probably not. This example is simply one application of AI, but there are various other applications that can be used to optimize the marketing of your business.

So, why should you introduce AI to marketing your business this year?

  1. You’ll know your customers better

I often hear from business owners that they know exactly who their customers are. While I don’t doubt that they have a solid understanding of their average customer, they’re likely just scratching the surface when it comes to knowing their purchasing habits and other influential factors. With AI, you’re not only able to analyze more data, but different types of data too. What this means is that you’re able to learn more intricate details into the lives of your customers.

  1. You’ll communicate with personalized content, in real-time

Now that you know who your customers are, this means that you can curate highly personalized content to target them. According to a study by Demand Metric, 80% of marketers say personalized content is more effective than “unpersonalized” content. Gone are the days of annoying, irrelevant pop up ads, because now, online ads will be personalized to the interests of shoppers using data from several of their tech devices.

What’s more exciting is the ability to communicate with your customers in real-time. With certain applications of AI, stores are able to send real-time discount offers to customers. Instead of waiting to entice customers with a future promotional offer, businesses can capitalize on customers making a purchase the moment they search for a related item.

  1. You’ll save time and money

By introducing AI to your business, you’ll save countless hours on traditionally time-consuming tasks like data analysis and crunching numbers. Additionally, AI will allow you to respond to consumer requests quicker than ever before. Even large tech giants like Facebook have recognized the importance of this, and have recently introduced auto responses for inbound messages received through a company page. With AI, you’ll shorten the length of your sales cycle and convert more viable leads.

Although AI can help you better know and interact with your customers, it won’t be necessary in every aspect of your marketing strategy. Not everything needs to be automated—automation works best when the task being completed can be done so more efficiently by an AI than by a human. Designate simpler or more repetitive tasks to AI systems so that you are freeing up more time to dedicate to the really difficult challenges of your business strategy that require human input. Are you ready to jump on the AI bandwagon? Contact CreativeWorks Marketing today to discuss how AI can be introduced to your marketing strategy for 2018.

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!

What Went Wrong: Dove’s Soap Ad

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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!

Influencer Marketing: Is it Right for Your Business?

CWM Aug 1We all know that in the digital world the only thing constant is change. It seems that every day I hear about a new social media platform emerging and with it a new “superstar”. These “superstars” are not famous for anything except their ability to influence online buyers making them in some ways just as or more powerful than that of actors, actresses and athletes. They have millions of followers on various social media platforms who hang on their every word and accept what they say as gospel. Leveraging these influencers to promote your product or service can be extremely lucrative for your company, but is it right for your business? I’ve outlined below some information on influencer marketing and a few tips to get you started.

What is influencer marketing?

If you are wondering what is influencer marketing; it engages key individuals with large followings to leverage influence among their followers. In essence it’s about having a person of influence drive your brand’s message to a larger market in a way that’s perceived to be authentic and organic. As people ignore traditional ads in ever increasing numbers, the most lucrative opportunity for companies looking to drive brand awareness and sales is influencer marketing.

Does influencer marketing work?

When an influencer speaks about a product or service it comes across as a genuine recommendation, not an ad or marketing campaign. It’s believable and people respond.

  • 94% of those who used influencer marketing believe the tactic to be effective (Lingia’s State of Influencer Marketing Survey)
  • Influencer marketing’s top benefits entail creating authentic content about their brand (87%), driving engagement around their brand (77%) and driving traffic to their websites or landing pages (56%) (Lingia’s State of Influencer Marketing Survey)
  • Marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising. And of those that were acquired through word-of-mouth had a 37% higher retention rate (McKinsey)
  • Twitter reports that 49% of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers
  • 40% of Twitter users said they had made a purchase as a direct result of an influencer’s Tweet
  • 20% said that a Tweet from an influencer inspired them to share their own product recommendation

Now that you know what influencer marketing is and that there are solid stats to support that it does work if done properly, stay tuned until next blog when I’ll outline a few tips on how to get started.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the power of influencer marketing contact us today!

Building a Cohesive Brand Identity

489783302I know companies understand that they need to have a brand, but many miss the mark on creating a cohesive brand identity. Although many may see this as ‘fluff’, creating a strong brand identity can be a complicated process that’s difficult to master.

As I tell many of my clients, brand identity is not just a logo; it’s the entire visual language that your company uses to communicate with its audience. It’s the art of portraying the right message and making a lasting, first impression.

Brand identity answers the questions what do you want your story to be and how do you want to be perceived in the marketplace? I’ve outlined below 7 steps that will I hope will help you in developing a cohesive brand identity:

  1. Review your current brand and your competition: Think about how your brand is being perceived in the marketplace and whether the message you’re delivering is clearly understood and reaching your target audience. It’s not enough to just review your brand; you need to understand what you’re up against. Have you done your market research? If not, now is the time.
  2. Audit your audience: Know your audience! Build a brand around what they want (not what youwant). It’s a competitive world out there. If your customers don’t find what they’re looking for from you, they will find it from someone else.
  3. Choose your theme: Choose your theme wisely. A well-conceived theme creates a powerful and effective communication platform which will deliver a higher ROI. A theme is compelling and engaging because it’s able to communicate your brand identity more effectively. It takes brand identity to a whole new level.
  4. Develop a consistent colour palette: Your colour palette is typically defined by the colours in your logo and is the foundation of your visual brand identity. The colours don’t have to be identical to those in your logo but should complement them. Very important – your colour palette must work well with your website and printed material.
  5. Don’t go overboard with fonts: There are hundreds of fonts to choose from but don’t go overboard using too many fonts that may look creative but are difficult to read. Less is more. You can use a different font for headlines than for body text, but the font must be easy to read, and be consistent across your website and print materials.
  6. Use custom design elements: Looking off-the-shelf isn’t going to help you stand out. Custom design elements can be a huge asset to your brand identity. A professional graphic designer can create your logo and various elements of your website. The images don’t have to be the same throughout your website and print materials but all of the visuals should contribute to a consistent look and feel.
  7. Use a consistent tone of voice: You can’t tell your story without words. It’s important to give a great deal of thought to what style of writing will be consistent with the image that you want to portray in the marketplace and mesh well with your imagery. Consistency is key to a successful brand identity. A professional writer will be able to understand your voice and produce work consistent with it.

Every company needs a cohesive brand identity to compete in the marketplace but many miss the mark because they attempt it on their own. You need a professional marketing agency with strategists, graphic designers and professional writers. CreativeWorks Marketing has over 20 years of experience helping companies like yours build cohesive brand identities. Give us a call today and maximize your return on investment.