Strategy

Social Media – Are Your Lights On?

Social-Media11There really is no other medium quite like it! Social media has the unique ability to not only reach thousands of customers instantaneously, but also to influence their buying decisions. It is a marketer’s dream: an inexpensive medium to leverage when creating brand awareness, influencing opportunities, and online marketing campaigns.

It seems there are new social media channels popping up every day, and although they may be tempting, before you add the latest one to your marketing arsenal, I’ve outlined below a few social media guidelines worth considering when evaluating your social media approach to help you decide which new shiny social media platform is right for your marketing objectives.

  1. Do Your Homework

One rule of thumb I tell my clients is to do your research; make sure your audience is listening. If your audience is not on the platform you’ve chosen, then how will you measure results against your marketing objectives? One way to conduct research for social media could be to actually ask your customers in an online poll or quick web survey. By finding out which channels your customers are on, you can narrow down your choices and easily make a decision about which channels you should put your efforts towards.

  1. Who is the Platform For?

Many businesses believe that having a presence on many channels can bring them the most exposure for their brand, but each platform targets different demographics and opportunities. Take a look at the platform, read what people are saying about it, check out the content and get a flavour for the postings, look at the advertising opportunities, and then decide if it’s right for your customers.

  1. Be Strategic and Consistent

As with all marketing, social media needs to be implemented strategically and then implemented consistently. You’ll need to create a plan, schedule, and “voice” to be successful. No one will follow a brand that is in their face one second and then disappears for the next month.

  1. Do You Have Enough Bandwidth?

Once you’ve decided on which new platform(s) you’d like to add, consider your resources. Some of you may already have a presence on many channels, so consider the extra work involved. It’s better to have a strong presence on a few channels that matter to your customers, than spreading yourself too thin and getting a weak performance on several.

There is no doubt about it, social media is a great marketing tool for business, but you’ll need to be clear about choosing the right platforms, scheduling the content and remaining consistent online. If your social media platform has not been active for as long as a week, to a potential customer it could feel like you have turned off the lights and locked the doors!

Does Snapchat Fit Into a B2B Marketing Plan?

indexWith new platforms on the rise, you may be wondering if it’s worth jumping into new, untested waters.

While you’ve been posting, tweeting, and networking, Snapchat has been quietly booming. It now has more than 200 million users who share more than 800 million photos and videos every day, according to Business Insider. You can now find companies that vary in size, building their image and engaging with followers on a platform that can easily engage as many as a quarter of active followers. The content they’re sharing through stories and videos is unlike anything you can find on other platforms.

At launch, Snapchat was a way to share pictures and videos that would only live for about 10 seconds. Snapchat has since added a new functionality, stories, that extend the life of these snaps. Stories save multiple snaps from a 24-hour period and allow users to view those snaps within that day.

Snapchat is about sharing your personality and portraying your brand image. Use snaps to connect with users through humor, personal touches or time-sensitive information. Snaps are not supposed to be earth-shattering revelations, it’s a way to live in the moment and build on relationships. While it’s easy to think of ways a B2C brand could develop a strategy for this network, what does Snapchat for B2B brands look like? I’ve outlined a few examples.

Your Snapchat strategy is part of a larger, omni-channel campaign

Rather than planning a siloed Snapchat campaign, target audience members should be directed to subscribe to a brand’s snaps via Twitter, email or Instagram. Snapchats are not broadcasted and displayed publically in a feed for on-demand viewing like we’re used to seeing on other social channels. Paired with an inability to browse and explore other users and accounts, it’s imperative that users are reminded to subscribe to your snaps on a regular basis by way of traditional social media platforms. Snapchatting brands should look for opportunities to create content around a central idea or theme. Snapchat users either want a way to incorporate themselves into the content or special access to something.

It’s location specific

Capitalizing on location-specific content is key to successful B2B Snapchatting. It’s what makes average content fun, exciting and highly relevant. Geofilters (special overlays for snaps that can only be accessed in certain locations) are one of the app’s best features. They play in integral part of what makes our stories so fun and engaging. The functionality never changes, but fresh filters from new locations give Snapchat a daily refresh to keep users coming back for more.

The Ultimate Goal: Relationship Building

B2B selling hinges on relationships. If you’re not ready to dive in head first with a branded Snapchat account that utilizes geofilters and takes advantage of their ever-evolving advertising options, consider adding Snapchat to your sales and marketing team’s toolboxes. Behind every B is a C – this means that behind every business there is a human that is making the decisions.

Just as YouTube is no longer just for entertainment anymore, lookout as Snapchat is heading in a similar direction!

 

So You Have a Marketing Strategy, But Do You Have a Plan?

indexI know that as business owners or senior marketing professionals you are pulled in multiple directions when it comes to what marketing you should be doing to help grow your business.

You are bombarded by web guys selling SEO, email marketing guys selling email packages, and Hubspot selling, well, Hubspot. So which one should you choose and why?

I understand the need to see marketing activities happen, especially in the SMB market, but the expression “penny wise and pound foolish” comes to mind as tactics not tied to a plan or a strategy fail time and time again.

Before you invest thousands of dollars on executing tactics, it is crucial to have a marketing strategy and a marketing plan in place.

Would it surprise you to know that according to the BDB, 54% of business owners have difficulty developing and executing a marketing plan?

A second step to the development of a strategy is the creation of a marketing plan, sometimes referred to as a tactical plan. I have outlined below the key aspects of a marketing plan that will answer the question of what a marketing plan will do for your business:

  1. Tie into your marketing strategy
  2. Outline overall themes or areas of focus for each month or quarter, including events and trade shows
  3. Break the areas of focus down further to tie into your objectives: e.g trade show: to increase sales on product/service X by 10%
  4. Clearly state your objective: lead generation, awareness, introduce new service/product
  5. Type of media: e.g. social media, video, direct mail, web, online advertising, call-outs, etc.
  6. Details frequency: e.g 3 videos, one a month for 3 months
  7. Details of integration: e.g. video and call-outs, direct mail and video and call-outs
  8. Placement of media: TV, radio, which apps, which websites, which trade pubs, etc.
  9. Measurement: How can you measure the success of each campaign e.g. leads coming from the website, number of times video was watched on YouTube, the number of Likes on FB, etc.

To reach your marketing goals, I recommend starting with a strategy and following through with a plan before moving on to the execution stage. Having defined deliverables will identify the road map your need to reach your marketing goals.

Automated Marketing: It’s All About Targeting Your Customers

blogNot a day goes by that I don’t read an article about automated marketing,       re-targeting, or how large multinationals are re-tooling their marketing departments to make way for this new era in marketing. It appears that a new marketing game is afoot and we in the marketing field are all facing a shift in what will surely be the new norm.

At its core, automated marketing uses software to more effectively market your brand on multiple online channels like social media and websites and automate repetitive tasks. Whether through the use of cookies, profiling tools, database or sales platform integration, these automated systems provide the holy grail for marketers: specific details on your customers needs and wants, so you can specifically target them with advertising that addresses these needs. This type of marketing provides the customer with something you know they want.

Sounds amazing and it is, but it will require businesses to work more collaboratively with their sales and marketing teams, which is no easy feat! The more these two teams can be seamlessly integrated, the better able you are to develop strategies that receive increased ROI.

I know I consistently speak about the importance of strategy, but in automated marketing it becomes even more important because you are researching and mapping out your customers’ behaviours so you can target them with the appropriate type of advertising. Without a strategy of this type, your automated marketing will fail.

This is one of the greatest changes our field has seen in years, a chance for sales and marketing to really work together and focus our attention on what really matters—our customer.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll share a few insights on getting started in automated marketing.

Has your company created an automated marketing strategy? What are some of your challenges?   I look forward to an active discussion!

Do You Have A Blog Strategy?

shutterstock_86238016When quickly scrolling through my emails, I came across an email from a business offering blog writing services.

The email proceeds to detail how they are a large business with a wide range of expertise in blog writing. The company extolled the value they offer and the savings they can provide, at $10 a blog! WOW! I dig a little deeper to find spelling errors, inconsistencies and learn that the company is based in India.

Although it would be fabulous to have blogs written for $10, you do get what you pay for. My thoughts then turned to my clients – what if they received this email? Would they be tempted to hire this company because they are affordable or would they know that a blogger must know a lot more about a company in order to write a valuable blog?

Being a marketing expert, I believe you can still hire an ‘experienced’ blogger but before you do, you’ll need to give them a blogging strategy. A strategy is important because it sets the stage and provides purpose for the blog. Without this, how could a writer know their objective and their audience? Let me share with you some key questions that must be answered through a well-developed blogging strategy:

  • What is the company known for?
  • What’s the brand of the company?
  • What is the tone of the blog?
  • Who is the target audience that will be reading the blog?
  • How long will the blog be?
  • Will there be several contributors?
  • From what perspective is the blog written?
  • Does the blog endorse other brands?
  • Is this blog a working partnership with other writers?
  • Is this a conversational or formal blog?

The answers to all of these questions set the stage for a valuable blog. By following the criteria, you can ensure that the blog is positively reflecting and enhancing your brand. This is your business’ voice, so ensure that the messages will be properly conveyed by those that really know your company.

Have you used a discounted blog writer in the past? Did you feel that there was value for the price? Do you have a strategy for your blogging practices? I look forward to a lively discussion!

Do You Know What Your LinkedIn Strategy Should Look Like?

building-your-linkedin-networkLinkedIn is the world’s leading professional social media website and growing at the rate of one new member per second. LinkedIn is increasingly used to connect businesses and develop connections amongst professionals. Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn serves as a useful business development tool.

Social media has become a large part of business marketing strategies all around the globe. I know that many of you have a strategy in place for your business’s social media, but does the strategy break down the different platforms?

Just as you wouldn’t use a net to catch a whale, you can’t use a Facebook strategy to engage your audience on LinkedIn. Different audiences require different strategies and being as LinkedIn’s is focused on connecting businesses, your strategy needs to be focused on developing areas of your business.

Start your strategy by outlining your objectives and goals – these could be financial, brand exposure, or even partnerships. You then should decide on who you are interested in connecting with – C-level individuals, influencers, etc. Once you know whom, then you might consider the vertical e.g. financial, insurance, manufacturing, etc. With the groundwork laid, then you will want to consider how you are going to engage with these individuals – via connections, invites, notifications, group discussions, referrals, etc.? Once you have made the connections, how do you plan to keep in touch with them? As a final step, you’ll need to measure your success against your objectives.

Having a LinkedIn strategy that is different from other social media strategies is crucial to developing your marketing success on this platform. Consider your current LinkedIn practices and explore how they could benefit from a strategy.

Have you ever considered the need for a specific LinkedIn strategy? Is it different from other social media strategies? I look forward to a lively discussion!

Is Your Brand Honest?

Men_HandshakeWe’ve all become aware of the recent media incident involving an employee of Hydro One acting inappropriately, resulting in his swift dismissal due to their code of conduct policies. Although it has raised several social issues, it has also given many of us pause to rethink the importance of brand honesty.

Strong brands are built on a business’s values and beliefs, and as a business owner in the marketing industry, I know how challenging it can be to stand behind those values and beliefs, particularly when faced with an issue in the public eye.

While it’s clear a brand exceeds far beyond just a logo, and integrates into the lifestyle of your consumers when they interact with the brand, we need to be mindful of and be committed to upholding our brand values even when it may not be the most popular thing to do. The public’s perception of Hydro One now as opposed to a couple of weeks ago lays bare just how important brand values can be and the role they can play with your audience.

McDonald’s relies on the public’s opinion and/or perception of them to sell their products. They are often in the media with bad press related to the quality of their food, which may be influencing a public shift to healthier fast food alternatives elsewhere.

To combat this perception, McDonald’s created the “Our Food Your Questions” campaign, which introduced a series of videos to address some of their customer concerns. The campaign features hundreds of video questions from actual “real people”, which are then answered from third-party suppliers to McDonald’s. Questions like “Is your McChicken actually made from chicken?” and “Is your burger 100% beef?” are posed, and are then answered by chicken and beef farmers respectively.

Although it appears that these videos are honest and unbiased, I am not convinced that they have changed customer perception of their food quality. I find myself wanting to believe but still questioning the sincerity of these farmers and testing labs.

Changing the perception of a brand is no easy task. Acting swiftly and with conviction as in the case of Hydro One sends a powerful message not only to their employees (i.e behaviour outside the workplace is just as important as in the workplace), but also to us as consumers. Regardless of how you feel about their decision, there is no denying their brand honesty – to stay true to their values and beliefs.

How do you think consumers perceive your brand? What challenges are there in changing the way people perceive a brand? I look forward to discussing this further!