Marketing Strategy

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!

Second Place Is A First-Rate Strategy

With almost 20 years in this business, it’s not that often that I come across a TV commercial that actually gets me excited, but Classico’s pasta sauce competition commercial has done it. It’s not because of the creativity or the out-of-the-box thinking, but because of the strategy! The commercial establishes a pasta sauce competition, the opponents being a group of Italian “Nonnas” and Classico pasta sauce chefs. When the winners are announced, the Italian Nonnas take home the gold, while the Classico group stands cheering. It ends with a voiceover that says:

“Homemade pasta sauce will always win, but with inspiration from the regions of Italy, we’re a close second.”

WOW! I wasn’t expecting that ending! And that is why the commercial is so effective. The commercial has the ad sponsor, Classico, celebrating the fact they didn’t win a pasta sauce competition, and promoting the fact that their brand was, indeed, second place in the pasta sauce game.

Brands usually don’t take this type of risk by admitting defeat, but by doing the unexpected and taking this risk, and creating a strategic approach, it’s a win-win.

Classico hasn’t created a major marketing campaign for over 10 years, so this ad needed to create some serious dialogue. After conducting some market research, Classico found that their consumers frequently make homemade pasta sauce on the weekend and believe that a store-bought pasta sauce will never live up to something made from scratch. They also found that; while their consumers appreciate homemade sauce more, “for those nights when they want to deliver a great meal, but don’t have a lot of time, they want a high quality pasta sauce alternative.”

Knowing this, Classico launched their “Second only to yours” campaign. Admitting their sauce will never beat a delicious homemade sauce appeals to consumers looking for brand honesty, and as I discussed in last week’s blog, honesty is key in a marketing campaign. Classico knows their consumers value high quality sauce, so by informing them that while they are not going to beat their homemade version, they are still a close second, appealing to this busy target market.

In 1962, this strategy was also met with great success when Avis embraced their second-place status as a way to hype the brand’s customer service with the tagline, “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder.” They retired the slogan last year after finally slipping into third place behind Hertz, 50 years after the tag line was created.

As we can see, this risky strategy worked well for both companies. Classico’s ad has now become a viral video, and Avis produced a popular slogan that was used for half a century. However, if everyone started a marketing campaign claiming they were number two, we might be in trouble. These two case studies are great examples of how well-researched marketing strategies can go against the grain and pay off big time.

Social Media is Not a Do-It-Yourself Project

Social media isn’t just about tweeting where you ate last night, posting vacation photos on Facebook  or finding a date on Tinder. It’s serious business for companies that are serious about attracting and  driving targeted customers to their website and converting leads into customers. In response to the  importance of social media in business, colleges and  universities now offer degree programs in social media – Seneca College (Certificate in Social Media), University of Florida (Masters Degree in Social Media) and Georgetown University (Certificate in Social Media Management) are just a few offering social media degrees. And there’s a rise in social media-oriented M.B.A. programs.

What can social media do for your company?

Every company can benefit from social media. Here are 10 great benefits that your company can derive from a well planned and well executed social media campaign.

  1. Generates leads in a very cost effective manner
  2. Helps establish your brand & increases brand awareness
  3. Builds brand loyalty
  4. Increases website traffic
  5. An excellent platform for engaging with your customers
  6. Helps you reach a targeted audience
  7. Expands your reach
  8. Helps build relationships
  9. Delivers higher conversion rates
  10. Decreases marketing costs

 

Who is using social media for business?

According to the Social Media Examiner, 96% of marketers are using social media.

Why isn’t social media working for my company?

Unfortunately, social media is not a do-it-yourself project. It’s a specialty that requires a particular expertise and skill set. Just as you’re the expert in running your business there are professionals whose expertise is social media.

They understand the science and art behind it and the subtle nuances that can make a big difference in results. Social media requires a strategy, the content that will deliver results, and the analytics to measure those results.

It’s not as simple as just writing a tweet, hoping for the best and expecting results. If you haven’t been seeing results from your social media efforts, I strongly urge you to contact a marketing agency or a consultant to manage social media for your company. With proper expertise in place your social media campaigns will deliver results.

 

Why Your Company Needs to Invest in Marketing

Marketing is not an option; it’s a necessity. And not just for the giants like Coca Cola and Nike. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 or a company of one, you need to invest in marketing in order to be successful.

What does marketing do?

One of my favourite explanations of what marketing does comes from the often quoted Peter Drucker. “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself”. Mr. Drucker is right. You can have the best product and/or service in the world but without marketing, it’ll be the world’s best kept secret.

Marketing isn’t just one thing. There are many components to marketing – advertising, promotions, websites, social media, content strategy, SEO, SEM, public relations… – all of which are designed to introduce and promote your products/services to potential customers and as a result, generate sales. Marketing:

  • Builds your brand
  • Reinforces your brand
  • Introduces your products/services
  • Promotes your products/services

What questions should you ask yourself before investing in marketing?

Before you invest in marketing you need know everything about your product/service. I suggest that you ask yourself these seven questions:

  1. What is my product/service?
  2. Is my product/service well priced?
  3. What is my value proposition?
  4. Who are my potential customers?
  5. Who is my competition?
  6. How am I different from my competition?
  7. What are my objectives?

How much should my marketing budget be?

I understand that you may be trying to save money, but marketing is not a DIY project and it’s definitely not one-size-fits-all. I’ve seen all sorts of numbers tossed around, but the truth is that there is no hard and fast rule about how much your marketing budget should be.

Every company has different goals, needs, and objectives and these have to be addressed individually. A good marketing consultant/agency will be able to work with you and help you establish what your budget should be in order to realize your objectives. Here’s a great download to help you in your search.

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.

Your Marketing Checklist: Checking it Once, Checking it Twice

3d small people - installation of check marksEarly December is often one of the busiest times of the year for many businesses as we feverishly try to shore up fourth quarter sales orders, wrap up year-end projects and campaigns and start planning for 2016. By mid to late December, businesses wind down as we take off time for the holidays; it can act like the calm before the storm, knowing that as soon as January comes, we will hit the ground running!

Statistically, 60% of SMBs create marketing strategies, but lack the resources to implement them or fail to measure their success. This December, invest some time into taking stock of your marketing, to reflect on your achievements and objectives over the past 12 months. Think about what your strategy was coming into 2015 and whether what you planned measured up to your expectations and met your objectives.

I’ve outlined below my top 10 critical marketing questions, which are derived from what is considered the necessary components to produce successful marketing results:

018665-glossy-black-icon-symbols-shapes-check-box-psMarketing Strategy

  • Did you have a marketing strategy for 2015?
    • If not, why not?
  • Do you think it is something you’d consider for 2016?

018665-glossy-black-icon-symbols-shapes-check-box-psMet Objectives

  • How did you plan to achieve your objectives outlined in your strategy?
    • Print collateral e.g. brochure/flyer/postcard
    • Social Media campaigns e.g. FB contest
    • Broadcast Advertising e.g. radio or TV
    • Digital or online advertising e.g. banner ads, Google Ads
    • Marketing automation
    • Video productions
    • Trade shows
    • E-blasts
    • Website and SEO
    • Other

018665-glossy-black-icon-symbols-shapes-check-box-psCustomer Intelligence

  • Did you make an effort to learn more about the needs of your customers i.e. conduct any market/customer research?
  • How did you measure customer satisfaction/engagement/user experience?
  • Did you make an effort to learn more about the competing products or services of your competitors i.e. conduct any market/customer research?
    • If you conducted some research, did you implement new strategies based on the findings?

018665-glossy-black-icon-symbols-shapes-check-box-ps Planning

  • Did you plan the timing for implementing your tactics i.e. create critical paths?

018665-glossy-black-icon-symbols-shapes-check-box-ps Measurement

  • How was each tactic measured for ROI?
  • Did you assess your success of each tactic? What did well and what didn’t? How could you have improved on your approaches?

018665-glossy-black-icon-symbols-shapes-check-box-ps Improvement

  • When you compare your goals with your achievements, what could you have done better?
  • How will you revise your strategy for 2016?

 

In planning for 2016, what will you do differently to produce better results than last year?

 

Brand Storytelling: Why It Still Matters

once-upon-a-brand“Storytellers, by the very act of telling, communicate a radical learning that changes lives and the world: telling stories is a universally accessible means through which people make meaning.” – Chris Cavanaugh

With almost two decades in the marketing business, I believe that storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to add life and character into your brand. Capturing and sharing stories gives your brand and identity (it’s also a great content marketing approach!) that takes your target audience on a journey where they can find a personal connection with your brand.

The goal of storytelling is to increase your consumer’s emotional involvement in your brand by being well integrated into their daily online and offline lives. Although the idea of brand storytelling isn’t a new one, the emergence of digital media, content marketing, and social media, has presented opportunities for brands to share their tales in a strategic way.

What is a brand story?

A brand story is far more than a narrative with branded content. Everything you do tells part of your brand story. From the colours you use and the staff you hire, to the texture of your business cards and what your tagline is, each element should convey a truth about your brand to your intended audience.

Your brand story should be authentic, creative, and inspirational, and go beyond what’s written on your website and in your brochure. I tell my clients all the time that their story is not only what you tell people, but also what they perceive you to be, based on the messages your brand sends.

Speak the truth with some personality.

Try to keep in mind honesty and transparency are important when crafting your brand story. Your story should be rooted in the reality of your brand, industry, products, and services, and should follow the three primary steps of brand building: consistency, persistence, and restraint. If your stories are inconsistent, they will complicate things for your customers, which will set them off in search of another brand that meets their expectations. Be creative and keep your brand promise in mind.

Remember – brand stories are not marketing materials, advertisements or sales pitches. Exciting brand stories, full of personality, will attract and retain potential customers!

Create characters your audience will identify with.

Emotional branding has great potential to drive revenue and keep customers coming back. Since brands are a matter of perception, how a person feels about your brand typically determines whether or not they will buy your product.

When you tell a story that represents human challenges and triumphs, you create an experience that resonates with potential and existing consumers. Creating well-crafted characters that your audience will like and root for will deepen the bond customers have with your brand, and as a result, increase brand loyalty.

Why should you tell your brand’s story?

Without a brand story you are just another commodity with no way to distinguish your brand or business. However, creating a brand story isn’t all about getting noticed – it’s about building something people can care about and buy into. Frame your brand’s weaknesses, dictate your brand’s strengths, and help customers think beyond the usefulness and functionality of your products or services.

If I can leave you with one final thought – a potential customer’s relationship with your brand most likely begins before they buy your products and/or services (those are only part of the story). Your brand story is the foundation of your brand, and a strategy for future growth.

Does your business have a brand story? Share your brand stories with me and tell me how they have helped you reach success.

Digital Collateral – To Go Paperless or Not To Go Paperless?

Business concept of flat design smartphone with handPrint media has taken a backseat in the last decade to make room for digital. However, even in this digital age, print isn’t expected to go away any time soon. We’ve seen a large shift in businesses using available technology to transfer print collateral into more meaningful, interactive and engaging material.

Business materials that have traditionally been printed – like brochures, business cards, newsletters, flyers, sell sheets and catalogues (to name a few) – are all considered “Marketing Collateral”.

Business owners frequently ask me if they should go paperless with their marketing collateral and I see the benefits to both, though I’d say a large part depends on the size of your company, your strategy, and whether you’re B2B or B2C. Let’s examine the benefits of going paperless.

Benefits of Going Paperless

Excessive use of paper is bad for our planet, and can also be bad for business by draining your time and money. When thinking about going paperless, here are a couple things to consider.

  • Content Marketing is now A “Thing”: Digital collateral is ready to take center stage with marketing moving towards a more content-based approach. Creating digital collateral for your business that has original content and is easily shared means you’ve got original resources on hand!
  • Digital is Agile: Easily transferable and shareable, digital collateral and digital publications can be updated quickly and used to share any type of collateral online (including brochures, catalogues, magazines, direct mail, newsletters, reports, postcards, and other business documents).
  • Cost Efficient: In short, digital collateral means lower production costs, and increased reach (hello social media!).
  • Leverage Your Social Media Presence: A PDF posted on a static page of your website isn’t going to stir up excitement in a potential customer. Digital collateral on the other hand, provides you with original, user-friendly resources, which can also be shared through other platforms to help spread your mission and message.
  • It’s Green: You save paper when you use digital collateral. You can also avoid having boxes and boxes of unused and/or out-of-date materials laying around and cluttering up your workspace.

Should You Go Digital?

In my experience, business owners can get a little nervous if they don’t have tangible marketing collateral (because as a business owner you want people to believe and trust you as a real company, not just a virtual one). So why not have both, digital collateral and traditional print collateral?

Digital and print mix well together – it’s all about finding the right balance. Traditional marketing tools have a longer life span, however in some cases (like for smaller businesses) digital collateral, when done right, can save the day!

Refer back to your marketing strategy (if you don’t have one then have one created – it is imperative!) to see what’s appropriate for your business. One thing to remember when making your decision is “paperless” means less paper, not no paper. If you choose to go paperless, like any major change you should start small. Here are tips that can make the transition easier:

  • Keep business cards in the traditional printed format: Business cards aren’t going away any time soon! I believe printed business cards are a staple for all key employees, and are necessary for networking.
  • Create a digital version of your main piece of collateral: Be it a brochure, postcard, sell sheet, or flyer – it will be beneficial to you and your business to have a digital copy on hand that you can send off or post on the fly!
  • Start an E-Newsletter: this is a great way to communicate online with your customers and get the online conversation going!

What do you think about going paperless? What is your biggest concern with going paperless? Do you have a marketing strategy that speaks to having digital collateral?

Share your thoughts and stories with me in the comment section! 

Super Bowl – Promoting A New “Good Dad” Image

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.03.53 PMTo say the Super Bowl attracts a huge audience is an understatement, but for advertisers the Super Bowl’s massive reach and potential to raise brand awareness with about 112 million people tuning in to the 2014 game, the Super Bowl remains not only the biggest televised sports event in the U.S. but the year’s most anticipated advertising showcase.

On one level there were some notable differences this year in costs and advertisers: a 30-second spot ran for an unprecedented $4.5 million, and we saw fewer auto ads, notably none from Honda and Volkswagen, and incredible film-quality ads with highly-paid celebrities like Pierce Brosnan, but we also saw more opportunities for first time advertisers like smartphone accessories-maker Mophie, and web development platform Wix.com.

On a deeper level, this Super Bowl is unlike any other not because of the deflated balls scandal, or the non participation of a few auto manufacturers to renew their ads, but because of the sheer number of NFL players in the spotlight for sexual assault charges. You may recall a few months ago, when we saw video footage of Ray Rice assaulting his fiancée and subsequently receiving a mere slap on the wrist for his crime. This incident, and the previous track record of many NFLers who have also been accused of assault, including Ray McDonald, CJ Spillman, Darren Sharper (and many more) caused a media stir, outrage and a demand for justice – spelling bad press for the NFL. So in an unprecedented move, the NFL created some powerful spots (PSAs and commercials) aimed at raising awareness of domestic violence. Then other advertisers leveraged this sentiment, and launched their entire Super Bowl campaigns around being a better Dad; from Nissan, Toyota and Unilever with grass root-type style videos aimed at how to be a better dad, even featuring current and former professional football players and their children discussing their relationship with their fathers, the focus was less on beer drinking, physical strength, and fast car driving and more on the “how to be a better man”. These brands built buzz online by promoting hashtags like #withdad, #realstrength and #oneboldchoice.

Sincere or not, we will never really know, but as a dad of a couple of young boys, I am thrilled to see change afoot with where advertising is going; a chance to bond with this “man’s” game and watch ads that reflect strength in character; that no longer reiterate the old 1950’s approach of how to be “a man’s man”, but showcase something much richer, something that more closely reflects the values of I want to instill in my boys – love and mutual respect – after all isn’t that the #realstrength of a man?

Up for discussion this week is how did the new breed of ads affect you? Do you think this type of ad will become the norm or was this just a one-off and a simple money grab due in part because of the criminal cases facing the NFL? I look forward to your feedback.