Let’s POSE the question – what’s the most efficient marketing?

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Let’s POSE the question – what’s the most efficient marketing?

ROI is only achieved and then improved if your marketing:

  1. has a clear goal
  2. is measured on real business value

To achieve a real ROI then, your business can’t rely on only one marketing tactic. OK, sure you can try – go ahead… we’ll hang out here and wait for you – but I’m 100% convinced it’s not going to get you anywhere. We’ve tried. The results are dismal.

It’s all about integration. But when we start integrating multiple marketing tactics, we come across some problems:

  1. it can cost more (not to be confused with return – ideally more cost means more return), and
  2. how do we effectively measure one tactic over another?

We need a clear strategy.

Fear not, my intrepid marketing/boss person. We have a solution that has been working extremely well. It’s rooted in traditional media relations, is all about content creation and will boost your SEO (so I think we hit all the hot buttons). In time, I’m sure you can use AI and Big Data to really excel in this area (2018’s hot buttons).

To make it easy to remember, and even more trendy, we refer to it as POSE. It is the integration of:                                                            

  • P - Paid Media
  • O - Owned Media
  • S - Shared Media
  • E - Earned Media

Want to know how to implement it? Then read on…

The strategy goes like this:

1 – What are your goals?

This is a conversation for another time, but you need goals. If you do not have goals now, do not pass Go and do not collect $400.

2 – Who is your audience?

You need to know who your prospective customers are. Think closely about your target audience and their personas. Our recent blogs will help you with What is a ‘Buyer Persona’ and How Can It Boost Your Sales? And Buyer Personas to Prequalify Prospects.

3 – Build your content. One of the easiest ways to do this is to first think about the messages:

  • Main message
  • Secondary message/s
  • Sub message/s

Once you have your message, you can actually write stories. We define stories as long form writing that reinforces your messages, but isn’t ready for the outside world yet. That’s because it needs to be tweaked depending upon how you’ll use it (POSE).

4 – Paid Media – part 1. Hold that thought – we’ll come back to this…

5 – Owned Media. Now you have the content, you can use your owned media to distribute this. This includes websites, blogs, newsletters, emails, company magazines etc. This is not going to cost you much so long as you have great processes in place.

The secret, of course, is creating and nurturing your own databases. If you can do this, you have plenty of owned media opportunities. Owned media should be the media with the highest ROI for you.

6 - Shared Media. This is social media – you remember… Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and all the other platforms you love.

Once you have a process, then again this is pretty simple, and shouldn’t cost much.

For example, every time you translate a ‘story’ into a blog, you can write the specific social media you need. So, every time a blog goes live, you have related LinkedIn, Facebook, and (let’s say) three Twitter posts ready to be scheduled.

Some of your ‘stories’ can be social media campaigns.

What’s ROI like here? Well, the cost is low, but really your ROI objectives here are getting a direct contact (not getting clients). You can measure exposure, likes, re-postings etc, but what does that really mean in terms of sales? 

7 - Earned Media. Aka traditional media relations. The cool thing about having your owned and shared media going, is it is kind of like a test-bed to what will be successful in earned media. Look, you know how to do PR, so we won’t go on about that.

I’m sure you already have ROI measures in place for media relations.

8 - Paid Media – part 2. Revisited. You can view paid media in two ways. Sometimes you need to pay to promote your shared media. Yes, you know that your social media Facebook posts are only hitting 10% of your followers – so the only way to reach them all (and new prospects) is to pay-to-play.

Paid media is also advertising – be that online or in more traditional media. Both have their places in a successful integrated marketing campaign.

Whatever your paid media strategy, you’ll no doubt be measuring that ROI too.

 

There you have it. You have the content and you’ll use shared media to distribute it, paid media to amplify it, and earned media to rubber-stamp it.

Want more advice on improved marketing strategies for your business? Give us a call to find out how we can help you.

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What is a ‘Buyer Persona’ and How Can It Improve Your Marketing?

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What is a ‘Buyer Persona’ and How Can It Improve Your Marketing?

These days, it’s virtually impossible to lump all customers together and try to market to them the same way. Thanks to ecommerce and other consumer-empowering changes in the marketplace, the audiences you aim to serve have moved from one large, undifferentiated mass to many subsets with individual tastes and preferences, needs and challenges.

If you’re not careful, your team can waste valuable time and resources chasing after unqualified prospects who don’t really want or need your products. That’s what happens when a business relies upon a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing.

So, how can you adjust your marketing efforts to identify qualified prospects and best serve your company’s various niche markets? One key strategy involves building “buyer personas.”

You already have broad-based demographic information about your customer base. But creating buyer personas “takes that a step further to include psychographic information based on actual current client and target prospect research to focus on why your target customer makes a purchase decision.”

Here are four tips to help construct buyer personas that fit your business and industry:

Organize your search for relevant data. A thorough profile of your customer emerges from numerous sources. Start by asking your current customers why they buy your products or services (as opposed to those of your competitors). What specific problems do your offerings solve? How do these products improve their own businesses and/or lives? Also, reach out to former customers and ask for candid assessments of what you did right (and wrong) when they were buying from you.

Look at trends and solicit online information. Most leads follow a certain pattern or trend; the key is analyzing the data to see what those patterns indicate. Have your sales team look closely at which customer appeals are most effective, and with which group of customers. Compile information relating to customer age, gender, location, job title, education level, etc. Make sure the team understands why customers make the decision to purchase your products—and, conversely, why other prospects choose not to buy.

Focus on solving problems. One or more buyer personas will emerge from all this data. You’ll have a fairly sophisticated profile of what your customers are like. The key from there is looking beyond who these people are and concentrating instead on what it is they require from you and your business. What problems do they face that you may not have considered before? Are there ways to upgrade your products to better solve these problems?

Create an ideal customer experience. By understanding a buyer persona, you can alter your messaging and the content you share on your website and social media. This will inform every stage of the marketing process, including product packaging and advertising, and customer follow-up after a purchase is made. You know the people you’re marketing to, so you can reframe your message in ways that genuinely resonate with them.

Often, crafting a buyer persona will narrow the scope of your leads—since you’re not trying to attract everyone with one generic message across the board. There’s always a concern when your team is reaching out to fewer prospects. But, by leveraging buyer personas and other pertinent data, the result will likely be a higher percentage of qualified leads, ready to move through the sales funnel, with less time and money spent on the qualification process.

Want more advice on improved marketing strategies for your business? Drop us an email to find out how we can help you.

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Five Strategies You Must Look at in 2018

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Five Strategies You Must Look at in 2018

Planning for 2018 before we finish 2017 seems like a futile task, but we get it that in many corporations that is exactly what is required. Luckily, we can share with you the sure-fire future trends. How do we know? A combination of time-travel, crystal ball and the fact that we have lived this for 20+ years so are beginning to see some of the writing on the wall.

1 - Media Fragmentation and Loss of Trust

This is not new, but we believe in 2018 both media fragmentation and loss of trust will become more prevalent both in the U.S. market, and internationally.

There has been a clear trend in the past few months that the national U.S. media is less trusted. OK, I have not seen the research to support this, but frankly I haven’t looked for it. We can feel it. Oh, and an impromptu survey of 60 millennials we asked last night also corroborated this. The ‘big traditional media’ (predominantly owned by larger media moguls) is less trusted by the public.

Who do the ‘public’ listen to? Smaller, more niche media.

From a media relations perspective, there is a change in ‘credibility’ perception, and we better know where to get the placements if our messages are to resonate with the target audience.

2 - Getting Noticed in Growing Media

The more media that a target audience can experience, the harder it is gain their attention. If we look outside of traditional media (let’s include newspapers, magazines, their online versions and even blogs in this bucket), at the new (dare we say ‘dark’) media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchap etc, it’s clear that social media is taking more attention from the traditional.

To incorporate this trend in the future, marketers need to understand that they need to take control of social media platforms from non-qualified internal resources and develop either a comprehensive in-house policy (along with a branding manual that incorporates tone of voice), or outsource to a PR agency writing in the voices of the client on these same social platforms.

3 - Paid vs. Earned

It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish editorial content and advertising. Just surf over to your favorite online media and see if you can distinguish native advertising from editorial content.

While some PR professionals will argue that ‘true’ media relations should only include earned media, what is important here is that if you are planning strategy and budget, you better include paid-for placements as well.

4 - Influencer Marketing Evolution

Let’s call it what it is - influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the larger target market.  Often in today’s market this includes celebrities (real and imaginary).

But, let’s just face it, this is exactly what PR professionals have been since the 1930’s (if not earlier). But now it’s just a little more complex, as the ‘influential’ don’t just consist of editors of large newspapers.

When it comes to planning your influencer marketing, it requires both an understanding of the much larger media landscape and a more laser like focus for where it will count. Don’t think this is a 30-minute discussion.

5 - Artificial Intelligence

Beyond the obvious, such as media monitoring, basic research and other mundane chores, AI has the potential to automate some of the most important PR functions.

It’s a trend that will need time and budget so you can research and stay ahead of the curve. We don’t think you’re going to see much cost saving in 2018, but if you don’t stay ahead of this curve, you may be overtaken by your competitors.

Put that in your 2018 budget and smoke it.

 

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Five reasons why your company needs a PR agency to close out 2017

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Five reasons why your company needs a PR agency to close out 2017

Media relations as it encompasses traditional and digital placements, social media, influencers, events, etc is the top of a sales funnel that leads to profits. Simply put, it’s the power behind the: visibility plus credibility equals profitability.

Here are five considerations on how a PR agency will help you reach your 2017 goals.

1. Knowledge, Experience & Time

Your business has at least one of the following objectives – if not both – to increase revenue and to mitigate risk.  Both are critical to the success and future welfare of you, your team and the organization. Critical success factors should not be passed to an intern, the front office secretary, or anyone that is not fully trained, has impressive experience and the appropriate time to carry out the function.

Even if your company is at a size that it could hire a PR professional internally, how much of that employee’s time is going to be taken up by internal meeting and bureaucracy? You need PR focus and often that comes from outside of your core team, so you can focus on what you’re core product/service is.

2. Perspective and Objectivity

Having an external PR Agency (i.e. not owned by you and without any direct or staff augmented employees) will bring new ideas and a fresh approach to each campaign. 

If you were a graphic designer, would you rather work internally for a Pizza company, designing pizza menus, flyers & marketing exclusively for one pizza company – or would you rather work for a design agency that provides design services to several companies? Well, apart from the obvious free pizza, I think you would want some variety and thus learn over different accounts, expand your contacts, knowledge and experience and bring fresh perspectives to each campaign you work on.

It’s the same from a PR agency. By working over multiple accounts, and viewing the client from an external perspective, the whole client/agency team can be more effective and efficient.

3. Contacts Cubed

The media relations world is all about, well, relations. It’s a people business. It’s all about the connections and relationships. Sure, anyone can find the contact details of someone in the media, but we need more than that -  we need to know the individual, what they write about, what excites them and what they’re working on.

Unless your company is significantly large, you won’t be able to justify more than one full time internal PR professional. If that’s the case, there is just no way – however pleasant that person it – that they can know and get on with every media professional. With an agency, you’ll have several people, all of whom have different media relationships you can utilize.

4. Priorities & Speed

A PR agency’s priority can be set very specifically, but is probably going to maximize positive media coverage and minimize negative coverage. If you work internally and must carry out a media relations function as well as other duties, then you will get torn in different directions as well as suffer from internal politics.

In addition, media relations is a speed game. The effective PR agency is on point and can react to a news story to capture attention, and respond to a media professionals request because they are looking for it, can prioritize it and can react without any other priority getting in the way.

5. Let’s Launch Something New

When you have a new product or service to launch, everyone involved in your company can expect to work harder than normal. Resources are going to be spread thin, and you need a team that have the time/resources and can stay focused at the task in hand.

So, should you hire a PR Agency?

A great PR agency becomes an extension of your internal team, working in conjunction with the rest of your company and pulls together the inputs of several stakeholders to create a unified PR plan that considers traditional and digital media relations, social media, influencers, events, etc. Most importantly, a great PR partner can assist the organization to meet its business goals and objectives.

Professionals just make sense - you leave surgery to a doctor and taxes to an accountant. If you are serious about media relations you should seriously consider investing in a top PR agency to be your communications partner. 

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Content Creation Cheat Sheet

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Content Creation Cheat Sheet

When it comes to content creation, just sometimes the ideas dry up. Wouldn’t it be great to have a list of the most successful blog posts to keep the creative juices flowing? Sure it would! So, here are the top 16 ideas that we keep as our go-to:

1. Tutorials and How-to Guides

Tutorials and how-to guides are probably the simplest type of blog post you can work on. They are easy because they involve you talking about things you are already familiar with such as your product or service.

2. Latest Industry News

Summarize what is going on in your industry – and make it quicker & easier for others to get a grasp on the latest news.

3. Controversial Subjects

Controversy is always newsworthy — so stick your neck out and get controversial. Have fun while you do it.

4. Checklists: Do you have all that you need to ____?

Checklists are quick to put together and make a quick read, which could be why they are so popular.

5. Infographics

From facts to charts to lists, everything you can think of can be made into an infographic. Everyone loves them!

6. Case Studies & Testimonials

Success stories are easily accessible by readers which is why they can be so powerful.

7. Interviews

You can perform an interview in a matter of minutes. Who is an important person in your area of interest that you believe would spark the interest of your readers?

8. Reviews

Do you look for reviews before purchasing? Sure you do. So, why not write a review for a book, software or some other area of interest for your readers?

9. A Glance “Behind the Curtain”

Let people know how the expert (you) creates success.

10. Quizzes

By creating a quiz or test, your readers can interact with you… and better still, compare their results with others (which will make them feel smart).

11. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions are great posts because you can answer the most common questions you are asked.

12. Beginner’s Guides

Take your expertise down to the beginner level and make it accessible to everyone.

13. Recent Tools You Use

Have you tested out / tried any new apps, software or tools recently? Share your thoughts.

14. Guest Bloggers

Consider having a guest blogger. Ask someone to substitute for you for your next post.

15. Myth vs. Fact

It may be immediately obvious to you, but I bet there are others who don’t know the difference – so let them know.

16. Monthly Updates and Stats

We all move forward, and have measurements that we can compare to last month.

What other content creation ides do you turn to for killer blog posts?

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Everything These Days is Growth & Vision. Growth & Vision.

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Everything These Days is Growth & Vision. Growth & Vision.

The new reality in business is bold, stark and contrary to what we have experienced previously. It’s also exactly why your PR department (or the local PR agency) is about to get really busy.

Unless you have not been listening, large business is changing radically. Gone are the days when profit was king. Today, all that matters is growth and vision.

But don’t take it from me – read a recent insight from McKinsey & Company, Invest, Create, Perform: Mastering the three dimensions of growth in the digital age that starts off by pointing out that, “almost half of the 100 largest companies on the New York Stock Exchange 30 years ago that enjoyed strong shareholder returns but did not post top-line growth had been acquired or delisted 20 years later.”

For a more entertaining view of the same facts, you should watch Scott Galloway’s talk on How Amazon is Dismantling Retail.

The take away is that large business now – if it is to survive – needs to concentrate on growth (even at the cost of no profit / breakeven) and promote vision.

So, the question is, if you move away from advertising (that can be used, oh so successfully, to bring sales at a measurable ROI), what marketing tools are at your disposal for growth and vision?

The answer is, well many, but the most effective and efficient is media relations.

Without any doubt, if you want to promote the vision of a product, company or brand, you have to turn to media relations.

Media relations boosts an organization's vision and credibility, because it'll operate through numerous trusted intermediaries. Plus, these intermediaries communicate to a certain audience which looks to them to filter out all noise. If messages are chosen to be communicated, they'll gain credibility due to the intermediaries' credibility.

Potential consumers and investors are far more influenced by people they trust—and that includes not only their real-world friends but also journalists and bloggers whose voices and opinions they know and trust.

There simply is no other marketing dollar that is more effective for promoting vision.

And that’s the simple reason why public relations will be a growing industry in the years ahead as smart businesses begin to understand how to survive and prosper. I mean, who wants to be delisted?

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How Business Psychology Can Help Your Marketing

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How Business Psychology Can Help Your Marketing

There is a ton of psychology involved in doing business, and if you look after marketing you must understand that people behave in certain ways and can be influenced with the right triggers to purchase your products or services. There are many examples of how to use basic psychology to get more customers and if you are savvy, you can use these to your advantage as you market. If you want more information, check out applied psychology programs online or courses where you can learn these skills in a business sense.

Using Social Proof
When people have an opinion on something, you will put more weight into that opinion even if they didn’t conduct any in-depth research and haven’t compared the pros and cons. Businesses use social proof in the form of reviews, ratings, social media mentions, and buzz to bring attention to their products and services. They know that if they build a positive conversation around their business, it’ll create a momentum that will attract new customers. Use positive reviews like these to improve your customer reach and to market your business more easily.

Don’t know how to do this in practice?  Then speak to us and we’ll help.

Using Authority
You are more likely to trust a business if some kind of authority is attached to them. For example, if you see an endorsement given by a well-known figure or celebrity, you are more likely to trust the company that’s being endorsed. Sometimes the authority is built around reputable roles like doctors, law enforcement, physical trainer, etc. If you can establish authority around your business, you’ll increase your credibility and make it easier for new customers to trust you.

One of the simplest ways is to position the leader in your company as the authority figure. Working with your marketing department to positon your CEO as a spokesperson within your industry takes time, but reaps great rewards.

Scarcity
A psychological trigger that you often see used in infomercials is scarcity. People are generally attracted to things that are harder to get. Some get emotionally worked up by the possibility of losing something valuable. Infomercials often use this trigger by building up value in bonuses and discounts. The kicker is that the bonuses and discounts are only available for a limited time. This creates scarcity and often triggers customers to buy when they may not have done so under normal circumstances.

Again, media relations can use the this tactic to build your brand and to increase sales.

While psychology is an incredible way to gain customers, you still need to realize that your customers are people too. Don’t insult your audience by making it obvious that you’re trying to use a gimmick to get them to make a purchase. You have to walk a fine line and embed psychology into your communication in a way that is respectful while also impactful. Consumers have become more educated about marketers over the last few decades, so it’s important to learn how to use psychology the right way for the right products.

Need more advice on gaining more customers? Give us a call or drop us a line.

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Make Your Marketing Message Contagious

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Make Your Marketing Message Contagious

Jonah Berger first caught my attention in this Fast Company article (“Fifty Percent of ‘The Tipping Point’ is Wrong”). The article positions him as the new Malcolm Gladwell and challenges some accepted theory of The Tipping Point.

Berger is a Marketing Professor at the Wharton School of Business. At Stanford, he was a student of Chip Heath, author of the marketing classic Made to Stick. Made to Stick describes why messages stick with audiences. Berger has taken this concept a step further in his bestselling book Contagious: Why Things Catch On. Berger examines why certain products get more word-of-mouth marketing and why some online content goes viral...

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Let’s Ban Press Releases

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Let’s Ban Press Releases

In a memo sent out to staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in January, the Trump Administration has prohibited press releases, social media postings, blog posts or new content placed on the agency’s website.

I’m a big fan of this policy.

Not only do I think, as a media agency, we’ve worked for several organizations who should have put this out to all departments (it would have saved some heartache for some them), but it just makes sense.

I’ve just come back from teaching a crisis communications lecture, where students very effectively showed that many a company CEO has led their organization to crisis (at the very least, a loss of revenue) by talking about their personal stance on something and it being represented as from the company.

Let’s take Dan Cathy (president of Chick-fil-A) and his comments against LGBT rights. It led to loss of traffic for Chick-fil-A (which continues today despite a damn tasty chicken sandwich) and several new restaurants (notably on University Campuses) that never opened.

It’s near impossible for a CEO to talk to any media outlet and not represent the organization that CEO leads.

Back to politics for a moment. This isn’t the first instance of a government agency being told to cease social media postings or communications in the new Donald Trump presidency. During Trump’s inauguration, the National Park Service retweeted two posts teasing Trump about his inauguration crowd size and hitting the administration for deleting references to climate change.

Dude!  If this was any professional business, heads would be rolling. There is no instance when one sub-department or rogue employee should be teasing the CEO of a business on social media. So, as PR pros we must make sure this is not possible.

So, I say, all press releases should be banned. Let’s face it, it’s a lazy tool that good PR pros just don’t need. There is no instance today that needs blanket press releases sent out, when a dedicated team couldn’t reach out personally to multiple press contacts to get the story right. I know you think I’m off my rocker or joking, but seriously, media relations needs some relations that are personal – not mass market. Leave that to advertising.

Next up, no one – no one at all – should be speaking to the media, unless cleared and managed by a senior PR person representing (I don’t care if it’s in house or through an agency) the organization. Today, there is too much at stake. Seriously – no one. Not the founder, not the owner (in fact especially not those two), not any person.

We need to wake up and smell the digital communication highway. Founders and CEO’s are brilliant people, but that doesn’t make them brilliant at the nuances of media spokesperson. Yes, they can be very desirable as their quirky, entrepreneurial, shoot from the hip, style makes them very quotable. But there is a lot at stake. One wrong soundbite and it can be echoed around the world and back again leading to considerable financial loss.

So that’s my drive for 2017. Ban press releases and tighten control so no one can speak to the press unless it can be controlled by a media pro.

Anyone with me?

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Profitability through PR

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Profitability through PR

Growing a company into a global brand is all about building reputation and doing it over and over until potentially millions of people know and love what you do. The process for this success is relatively simple.

Visibility + Credibility = Reputation + Profitability.

Please note, this is a process, and not a formula.

First your brand must be visible in the community (ideally your target market). That is when people know who you are and what you do.

Over time, you establish credibility. Credibility is when people know who you are, what you do, and they know that you are good at it.

And then and only then do you get to reputation.

You know when you have reached reputation, because that will result in sales, which in turn should lead you to profitability.

So, what does that mean in the word of marketing?

Step 1 - Visibility

The best way to get visibility to a mass audience is to go straight for that TV commercial in the Super Bowl. That spot ran at $5 million for just 30 seconds of air time this year. So, maybe, just maybe, that’s not going to be the best use of your marketing budget.

Luckily, you are probably not targeting the 110+ million people that tune into this sporting event. You can probably target a little better than that. Nope, you can target a lot better than that.

Targeting takes skill and research, but it is time well spent. Once you know your target and what media they consume, you can build a plan to speak to (not reach) them.

Most media contain two elements – the free section and the paid for section – the media relations section and the advertising section. 

Placing ads is just great, if you have a large budget and a short amount of time. The trouble with advertising is well documented and can best be summed up by the pioneer in marketing, John Wanamaker, who famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half”.

For those with slimmer budgets, the world of media relations is the way to go. PR is wonderful for creating visibility, because it is amazing at educating an audience. With PR you can get into how and why of your product / service. You can get deep.

It is going to take time - effective frequency is a controversial topic. Some say you need to see a message seven times for it to be effective. Some say it’s twenty. Whatever the mathematical accuracy is for your brand, sooner or later there will be visibility.

Step 2 – Credibility

Too many people and brands don’t recognize the need to move to step two – credibility - the quality of being trusted and believed in.

Advertising is not great for gaining credibility. Your customers – irrespective of whether you are in a B2C or B2B business – see through the ads pretty quickly. Be honest, so do you when you are a consumer.

Media relations, on the other hand, passes the smell test. There are all kinds of articles that can be placed for build credibility such as getting testimonials from clients/experts and sharing business insights / information with customers without selling to them directly.

In fact, we would suggest to you that media relations is the best marketing tactic for building credibility (and if you don’t believe us, speak to one of our customers or read some more of our great articles).

When will you know when your credibility campaign is working? Your reputation grows through word of mouth and profits will follow.

Just don’t forget – credibility is where the magic happens.

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