marketing

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!

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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.

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 Does It Really Mean Series: Native Advertising

570074655_1280x720Next in our “What Does It Really Mean” series is Native Advertising. This is another one of those confusing industry buzzwords, but one that’s important because native advertising is everywhere. With more people turning off traditional forms of advertising, marketers are employing more subtle forms of messaging. You may have engaged with native advertising and not even know it. Let me demystify native advertising for you.

What is native advertising?

Native advertising is paid advertising that’s so artfully created that it blends seamlessly into the non-paid content that surrounds it. It’s designed to trick you into believing that these native ads are actually part of the content. As a result, they’re much less disruptive and more engaging than traditional advertisements.

How does native advertising differ from traditional forms of advertising?

Traditional display ads are the boxes and banners we’re all used to seeing at the top of search engine results pages. These ads are obvious promotions with calls to action; their purpose is to get you to buy. Native ads are totally different. They’re created to match the look and feel of the content they’re seamlessly integrated with so that they appear to be part of the content itself. When executed well, you shouldn’t be able to pick out the native ad in the content. They’re not designed to sell; they’re designed to influence content, generate brand awareness and improve site traffic. It’s quite a piece of clever trickery.

What are the benefits of native advertising?

As consumers, we’ve become ad savvy. We can spot paid ads a mile away and we don’t trust them. Many of us don’t consider traditional ads relevant anymore and as a result we block them. According to a new report by PageFair, ad blocker usage surged 30% in 2016. There were 615 million devices blocking ads worldwide by the end of 2016, 62% (308 million) of those mobile. Desktop ad blocker usage grew 17% year-over-year to 236 million. As a result, native advertising is proving to be more successful than traditional online advertising. On mobile devices the average click-through rates are four times higher for premium native ads versus non-native display ads (Business Insider). Native ads are not easily identified as paid advertising and therefore there’s a greater chance that the consumer will trust a native ad and engage with it. According to Forbes:

  • People view native ads 53% more frequently than traditional ads
  • Native advertising can increase brand lift by as much as 82%.
  • Purchase intent is 53% higher when consumers click on native ads instead of traditional ads
  • Native ads containing rich media can boost conversion by as much as 60%

Are there any disadvantages to using native advertising?

Native advertising is very effective as long as people remain unaware that they’re reading and possibly engaging with an advertisement. The potential problems arise if the ad’s cover is blown. You then risk a backlash by people who feel tricked and could potentially develop a negative mindset against your brand.

If you’re interested in learning more about native advertising or would like to incorporate it into your marketing campaign, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today. Our expert advice, strategy, planning and execution can make a significant difference to your bottom line.

What Does It Really Mean Series: Marketing Automation

Marketing AutomationThere are so many buzzwords being tossed around these days in the marketing world that it’s hard to keep up. It’s important that you understand what these terms mean so that you can make an informed decision on what’s right or wrong for your company. That’s why I’ve created this new series: What Does It Really Mean? I’ll take each of these confusing buzzwords, one by one, and explain them to you in “real people speak”. The first in our series is Marketing Automation.

What is marketing automation?

Although the term marketing automation makes it sound as though the art and science of marketing has become entirely automated, nothing could be further from the truth. There is much more involved than the click of a button. Marketing automation is a category of software that can automate certain repetitive tasks such as social media, lead management and tracking and monitoring campaigns. Marketers use marketing automation to help us keep up with the many platforms we’re often engaging with on a daily basis. It allows us to be more operationally efficient and help you to grow revenue faster.

How can marketing automation help your business?

  • Save time and money. Labour intensive process that traditionally have been done manually, such as scheduling social media, can now be automated, saving time and money and increasing productivity.
  • Increase efficiency. Multiple campaigns can be scheduled well in advance and fewer touch points reduces errors.
  • Simplify multiplatform management. Consumers can be found on any number of platforms and it seems that more are cropping up daily. It’s become increasingly difficult to keep up with the management of all of these platforms. Marketing automation can help monitor multiple platforms on a daily basis.
  • Improve lead management: Marketing automation systems can integrate with your CRM system so that you’ll be able to nurture your leads, not lose track of them.
  • Improve customer retention. Marketing automation collects data that provides relevant insight to your customers, allowing you to anticipate your customers’ needs.
  • Personalize the experience to the user. Marketing automation tools allow you to personalize your relationship with every customer with strategies like lead qualification.
  • Track and monitor. Marketing automation can help track your marketing expenditures and monitor the responses to your marketing campaigns.

What are the pitfalls of marketing automation?

The number one pitfall of marketing automation is not having the resources or training to make it work. This is why I strongly recommend that you engage with a reputable marketing agency. Left to your own devices, you may automate the wrong processes. In addition, many people are under the misconception that marketing automation does marketing and lead generation for you; but that’s not the case. You have to build a pipeline of targeted, pre-qualified leads before you engage marketing automation. Only then can it help you manage and nurture your leads.

How can you integrate marketing automation to complement your marketing activities?

I read an article recently that described marketing automation software as the “Swiss Army Knife” of the software world because it’s so versatile. Marketing automation software works with your marketing activities; it doesn’t replace them e.g. it can leverage your data to tell you which leads are your hottest prospects and give you greater visibility into which marketing campaigns are generating the best ROI. It can streamline manual processes, improving efficiencies, increasing productivity and saving time and money.

Marketing automation can provide many benefits for your company as long as you have a clear plan and a strategy to execute. In order to realize the benefits, you need a marketing automation expert on your team. CreativeWorks Marketing has the one-two punch – expertise in marketing and marketing automation. Take advantage of our 20+ years of marketing knowledge and contact us 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!