Strategy

Earth Day – 4 Key Elements of a Cause Marketing Campaign

Cause marketing refers to the alignment of a brand with a cause that produces profitable and societal benefits for both. Today, consumers want to know what your company stands for and what you’re doing to make the world a better place. As a result, for many brands, cause marketing is now becoming the norm rather than the exception. You may be surprised to learn that cause marketing was first introduced in 1976. The two trail blazers involved were the Marriott Corporation and the March of Dimes. They worked together to promote the Marriott’s family entertainment complex in Santa Clara, California while raising funds for the March of Dimes. The campaign was a success for both parties and cause marketing was born.

In celebration of Earth Day this April 22nd, I’d like to encourage you to consider launching cause marketing campaign this year, and I’ve outlined the four key elements of one for you to consider:

  1. Simple, inspiring message: What you call your campaign matters. It should be simple, descriptive of your initiative and inspire you to want to participate. Motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson teamed up with the environmental organization The Nature Conservancy with its cause marketing campaign “Renew the Ride”. This campaign was designed to mobilize Harley Davidson’s global community of riders to raise funds for the planting of 50 million trees worldwide by 2025 so that the open road can be preserved for future generations of riders.
  1. Visual storytelling: Studies show that people read only about 20% of today’s web pages and are driven more by an image or short video than they are by anything else. Coke and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) teamed up to support the conservation of polar bears with their Arctic Home campaign. Who among you hasn’t been moved by the wonderful video spots that Coke and the WWF have created about polar bears? Those videos move us more than any written story could.
  1. Social sharing, ‘earnedmedia: The most effective cause marketing campaigns develop multiple media designed to maximize the effectiveness of each channel. Dell is doing a great job inspiring people to care more about the health of our oceans and marine wildlife through its support of actor Adrian Grenier’s the Lonely Whale Foundation. The campaign has gained great momentum thanks to Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms. And, Coke and the WWF used the web, apps, social media, text messaging and other technology to drive brand awareness for the Arctic Home campaign.
  1. Big world issues, small personal action: While most cause marketing campaigns are calling people’s attention to a big issue, they need to inspire them to take a small personal action. Habitat for Humanity is working towards a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. They teamed up with Home Depot. As part of an employee engagement campaign, Home Depot employees can volunteer to work on a Habitat for Humanity project while being paid by Home Depot. This small personal action of volunteering makes a big difference in improving big world issues.

I believe cause marketing has many benefits for your business including positioning your brand to stand out from the rest while at the same time helping a cause and ‘doing the right thing’.

Is cause marketing important to a brand? 87% of consumers would switch from one brand to another if the other brand was associated with a good cause, according to a Cone Cause Evolution Survey. Is a cause marketing campaign right for your company and your brand? It’s certainly worth considering.

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Podcasts – Digital Marketing’s New Best Friend

Although podcasts are not new, I’ve noticed a recent resurgence in their popularity that’s worth noting.

If you may recall, podcasts are digital media files that feature audio recordings, and originated in the early 2000’s, but it wasn’t until technology advanced and distribution methods expanded that podcasting exploded in popularity. In fact 2016 alone, there were an estimated 57 million monthly podcast listeners, a 75% increase since 2013.

Much like blogs, podcasts are used to deliver great content to your audience and have become a key tool in many company’s content marketing strategy. You may be thinking, “why use a podcast when I already have a blog?” Well, let me explain a few of the key advantages that podcasts offer:

Attract New Audiences: Some people prefer to consume their content through listening rather than reading text. By adding podcasts to your marketing mix, you are pulling in a new demographic and gaining more leads.

Multitasking Capabilities: One of the biggest advantages of podcasts is that they can be listened to on-the-go and while doing other tasks. This is great for your brand, as it means your message will reach your audience more frequently during the day.

Hidden Advertising: The casual, conversational nature of podcasts allows you to include a few “hidden” advertisements in the audio without it sounding too blatant. Advertising in your blog, on the other hand, tends to come across as too overtly promotional.

Brand Loyalty: Think about your favourite radio show you tune in to in the morning. Does it keep you hooked? Well, podcasts are very similar. When you offer engaging content, you’ll begin to create a following. And when you create a following, you’ll develop brand advocates for your business.

Stay tuned for my next blog, which will outline some tips you might want to consider when incorporating podcasts into your marketing mix.

Content Contempt

At the end of last year, I wrote a blog about the lessons we learned from marketing in 2016. One topic I touched on in that blog was about purchasing content on the Internet. I’d like to delve deeper into this issue because as a marketer, content creation is one of my main responsibilities.

So what exactly is content marketing? The Content Marketing Institute describes it as “the technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience.”

Content marketing is key to the marketing process because it adds value to your business in the eyes of your customer. Your business’ page is not just a website where you can purchase a service, it’s a website where people can go to learn about your business and what you stand for. That’s why I was surprised when I started noticing a lot more pay-for-content websites appearing online. These websites are essentially content stores; a user can go in and purchase a generic blog or a video while gaining the usage rights. Who is writing the content about your business and for your customers seems to be not too relevant or valued. Although you can pay extra for it to be “customized” content, the writer does not know your voice, your brand, your company, you, or the value you bring to your customers.

While this content is quick and easy, as a professional marketer, I know how important it is to know my customers before I can write for them. Whenever I finish a blog or an article, I have to look at it and say, “Would my client say this?” If not, I have to re-work it. If blogs are used as persuasive text written by an industry authority to inform a targeted audience about an industry issue, then that content needs to be an informed and educated one.

The blog writing process can be lengthy and it can be difficult to fully capture someone’s voice and opinion on a subject, which is why bloggers often interview, create outlines, have many conversations, discuss topic ideas and angles before writing the first word. This process is not part of the “buy a blog” dot com experience; in fact it is quite the opposite.

I have personally tested many of these online content sites, only to find spelling mistakes or generic content that adds no value to the conversation online. I have downloaded a blog on LinkedIn, only to find LinkedIn spelled incorrectly. If small business owners were to simply buy and post the content, what would be the result?

I have heard that from a Search Engine Optimization perspective, these online sites offer great content, but blogs contain SEO based on the sheer fact that they are online content, not just based on keywords thrown in. More importantly, I don’t feel a quest for SEO results should detract from the value of a good blog.

I work with a lot of small businesses, and one of the main things they want to promote to their customers is the personalized quality of their service. I am not convinced that any online content provider site can create this level of quality prose, simply because there is no investment in understanding exactly what the client’s value is to their audience.

When it comes down to it, marketing isn’t a commodity. It’s about the relationships you form with your clients and the work you produce for them to get them the results they want. I love the feeling of writing something amazing for my clients, because I know that both themselves and their clients will get value from the message.

So next time you are shopping online for content, remember: if you don’t value the content on your site, how can you expect your clients to?

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.

3 Ways to Leverage Instagram for Your B2B Business

1115_instagram_365_244colo-24-42-70-10Over 400 million people are on Instagram these days. This creative, visually led social network is rapidly becoming a place where people engage with brands and share content. Yet, many B2B companies dismiss Instagram as not being right for their brand. Instagram doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of B2B marketing, but there are huge opportunities to promote your brand values.

Storytelling has become a great way to give B2B brands a personality. Storytelling is about connecting with your audience and moving away from the self-centred, sales-orientated advertising that just doesn’t work for B2B brands anymore. The key to leveraging Instagram as a marketing tool for B2B brands is to not think of it as a marketing tool at all.  Instead, you want to think about Instagram as a way of telling your story as part of a larger online marketing strategy. Here are three ways that Instagram can help you tell your brand’s story:

  1. Establish long-term connections

B2B brands need to embrace the fact that marketing on Instagram is less about selling the benefits of your products and services, and more about establishing deeper connections with people including industry thought-leaders, employers, and prospective clients. Instagram is about building and maintaining awareness of your brand. Think of Instagram as a way to grab the attention of industry influencers and potential clients at a time when they’re not really in work mode, as they’re not going to be interested in being sold to.  This is your chance to seamlessly integrate your brand values into their Instagram feed.

  1. Humanize your brand

Another way you can give people an insight into your company culture is to use Instagram to offer a behind-the-scenes look, as people love seeing what goes on in other offices. It can be as simple as snapping a quick photo at your company’s event, or taking a photo of one of your employees to publicly wish them happy birthday. B2C brand’s social media channels thrive on being relatable and yours should be too.

  1. Contribute to the conversation and be part of the community

As well as interacting with clients’ photos and comments, responding to big news stories, industry developments and trending hashtags can be a great way to engage your followers and show the world that you have your fingers on the pulse. Give your brand a personality through comments and thoughtful posts in the public space.

Take the time to understand the benefits of using Instagram to communicate your brand’s values to potential clients and industry influencers, if you’re looking for new ways to engage with your B2B community.

This visually led social channel might have its roots in B2C marketing but, with over 400 million subscribers, you might want to take a look to see if this platform is right for your B2B business.

5 Reasons Email Marketing Adds Value to Your Brand

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One of the most valuable content marketing tools that can showcase a business’ brand to their customers regularly and share relevant information is email marketing. Email marketing is a cost-effective solution that gives businesses the power to reach customers in a place most people visit every day – their inbox.

According to a study by MarketingSherpa, 91 percent of adults in North America like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with. As a business owner, I believe that building successful email marketing campaigns has never been more important than it is now.

In a recent conversation with a client, I was surprised to hear how he defined email marketing. His email strategy was simply sending notices out to clients, and that was very different than what I, as the owner of a marketing agency, perceive email marketing to be. It then occurred to me that everyone’s definition of email marketing is different, as I believe that email marketing is a constant communication and relationship-builder between you and a client.

No matter what your definition is, email marketing is without a doubt a value-add to your brand. Here are a few ways email marketing can strengthen your brand and create strong, lasting relationships with your customers:

  1. Building credibility
    • To build strong customer relationships, it’s important to have an effective tool to communicate with the people who matter most to your business. Email gives you the ability to stay top-of-mind and keep people engaged.
  2. Generating Leads
    • Email gives you the opportunity to capture new visitors’ attention and nurture relationships with helpful and informative content. You can also share your updates on your own social networks to bring new people to your business.
  3. Learning what works
    • Email marketing gives you the metrics you need to see how your emails are performing. These insights help you market smarter and give you the advantage of better understanding the needs and interests of your customer base.
  4. Reaching your customers on any device
    • With nearly two-thirds of all emails read on a mobile device, email marketing is one of the best tools that can help a business take advantage of the growing popularity of mobile technology.
  5. Looking professional
    • Email templates aren’t just easy to use; they are also designed to make sure you look professional and consistent when you reach your audience’s inbox.

If your business doesn’t have an email marketing strategy, and you don’t feel you have the time or skill-set to write them, consider hiring a marketing agency. An agency can create the content as well as an email schedule for you that are integrated with your brand and business direction. 

Do you use email in your business? If so, what is the value to your business?

How To Kick-Start Marketing Automation for Small Businesses

indexThere is so much “talk” about marketing automation, and we all know it is here to stay, but there is very little talk about what this means for small businesses.

Online conversations surrounding marketing automation have predominantly been about choosing or reviewing the marketing automation tools with players like HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, and Eloqua. However, many small businesses are not even at the “tool” step in their process – they still need to understand how this applies to them, and if it can dramatically increase efficiency and output as it claims to do for so many larger brands.

I’ve outlined below a few tips on how to get started with your marketing automation. I hope that it will help you determine if this is even something worth investing your time, and if so, whether to start on a small scale or outsource it to a marketing agency.

Assess Your Needs: Before you can determine if you need MA, first review your current level of online marketing tools including PPC, web, and social media. Look at what is working and what is not. Look at your lists – how large are they and what type of responses are you getting from them? Are you running individual online campaigns that require manual segmenting of email lists? How much time do all these tasks take and what revenues/leads are being generated by them?

Create a Strategy: For best results, you need a marketing automation strategy and it should be revisited regularly, adjusted, and optimized. You need to clearly spell out what type of MA you are willing to invest in, what lists you will use or acquire, and most importantly from where you will get your content.

Content Development: In the world of MA, content is still king, so you will need a content library. Do you have an in-house resource or will you work with an agency that can provide you with content? These need to be value-add pieces that resonate with your audience.

Just the Basics: Consider starting out small with a technology that offers very basic functionality, but once in place can yield significant results. Even if you don’t have time initially to take advantage of all of the capabilities of marketing automation, just building one or two early-stage lead-nurturing campaigns can increase your quarterly volume of qualified leads by 120%— a very small time investment for game-changing results.

We as small businesses are set to become some of the biggest beneficiaries in the age of automation, but whether it’s the right time for your business or if it’s even the right fit for your business is worth exploring.

Do you think you know enough to start assessing the value for MA in your business?   If not, what would you like to know more about to help you decide if it’s right for you?