A company’s corporate identity is the driving force behind how they interact and present to their target audiences. Successful organizations have carefully curated how they show up for their audiences, ensuring that their corporate identity is in line with their corporate culture.
What does corporate identity include?
For many organizations this conversation comes back to branding, which is a great place to start, but it doesn’t end there. Companies with a strong corporate identity are instantly recognizable by their branding elements. This includes everything from logos to social imagery to stationary and other collateral. However, true corporate identity is driven by how the company is wired internally. When the values and intentions of the business are driving the brand strategy, corporate identity will shine through.
How do you build a strong corporate identity?
1. Get clear on your brand strategy:
If you haven’t taken the time to determine your company values, vision and mission, start here. If you have an established set of internal guidelines, review quickly to determine if they are still relevant. Next to consider is your corporate messaging, brand voice and positioning. Lastly, look at your visual assets, logos, typography, colour palette, etc.). Ensure that everything matches up with your values, vision and mission. When you lay it all out, you may find elements that no longer drive your brand vision, be sure to adjust as needed.
2. Take a look at your current corporate identity:
Take an honest look and determine whether the way you are being perceived by your audiences (externally and internally) really lines up with the strategy you outlined in step 1. Remember, image and identity are not always the same. Your image is how the public perceives you, your identity is how you wish to be perceived. If the two do not match up, you may have to make some changes to your corporate structure and then go back into step 1 to adjust as needed.
3. Create your corporate personas:
Understanding how your customers want to interact with your company should be one of the key factors in creating your corporate identity. The way to ensure this is to get really clear on who your audience is. Creating brand personas will give you a firm outlook on who you are trying to reach and how to effectively reach them.
4. Do a competitive analysis:
Pay attention to what your competitors are doing in terms of how they are showing up. Analyze their language, positioning and branding. Look for opportunities to stand out.
5. Bridge the gap:
Lastly, take all of the research from the first four steps and find the opportunities for growth. Look for gaps between your image and your identity. Your corporate image is how you are perceived, your identity is how you show up. Are there spaces in the marketplace you can fill? Filling those gaps may mean you’ll need to further refine your branding and messaging.
What are the Benefits of a Strong Corporate Identity?
Companies with a strong corporate directive have a defined road map that each stakeholder can rely on. This ensures that your outputs are consistent regardless of who is generating them. Internally, it creates a framework that drives all messaging and decision making. Externally, it provides a predictable and familiar platform for clients and potential clients to engage with. Consistent outputs build trust and promote loyalty.
Let’s just say it, it’s a weird time to be creating and planning social content.
Regardless of industry, niche or intended audience, we are working within unprecedented circumstances. As a result, many businesses are in a holding pattern; unable to open at all or innovatively pivoting operations to stay afloat. With so many people experiencing financial uncertainty, health anxiety and the fall out of global unease, knowing what to say socially can be overwhelming, to say the least. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be.
The point of all social content is to create connection.
Whether you’re offering advice, telling a story or delivering a call to action, the ultimate goal should be connection. If you haven’t built a relationship with your audience, the ability of your content to convert is very unlikely.
This is why I use the 3 Es of content development in my planning. Each ‘e’ is based on a type of connection.
Let’s chat a bit about types of content.
Most content will either fall into two buckets: curated or created, with a few variations of each mixed in. Curated content is material sourced externally, meaning you didn’t create it. 80% of your social feeds is likely curated content. User-generated content, where you share content about you that was posted by someone else, is a sub-set of curated content. Created content, on the other hand, is original content, created, generated and written by you. Earned content, where a news source or publication quotes or features you is a sub-set of created content.
In this article, I’m going to take you through the 3 Es of Content Development. The 3 Es are actually a content creation tool I use quite regularly when creating content plans for my clients. I used them in pre-crisis times and will return to them in post-crisis times as well. They take on a bit of a different vibe now, but the concepts behind each one can help build a strong content strategy regardless of the global atmosphere.
The Know. Emotional connections are those that elicit a shared emotional response between the viewer and the poster. It is important to note that not all of your audience will connect with everything you post. That is OK.
Look for something that elicits the type of emotion in you that you’re trying to provide for your audience.
During times of crisis, people are looking to sources they trust to help justify their own feelings. In this particular crisis situation, people can be feeling any number of emotions. These may include fear, sadness, anger, hopelessness, gratitude, feelings of overwhelm, worry or any number of additional emotions within those spectrums.
The types of curated emotional connection content that work best are:
The types of created emotional connection content that work best are:
Personal messages via video or photo with caption
An impactful and supportive original quote
Behind the scenes photos of how your team is supporting each other or others within the community
#2: Educational Connections
The Trust. During this uncertain time, many businesses have adopted a ‘serve, don’t sell’ methodology for their social content planning. In other words, they have opted to deliver content that is aimed at enhancing their audience’s feeds. For many, this will include supplying and directing educational resources.
Sharing impactful sources of information can help to establish you, and by extension, your business, as an expert within your niche. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you are sharing from trusted sources. Be sure to thoroughly read and verify sourcing before sharing educational resources. Share direct links, do not make your audience search for content from your source.
The types of curated educational content that work best are:
Niche supporting or locally relevant news articles, books, e-books, podcasts, or press releases
User-generated posts showing how a suggested resource was helpful
If you’re looking for examples of curated educational content, you can check out my Pinterest board here.
The types of created educational content that work best are:
Niche-centric original blog or vlog posts
Original photos with educational captions/messages
Niche focused live videos/segments
Earned content pieces where you have been featured as an expert
#3: Entertainment Connections
The Like. This final E of social content planning, is the one where you can connect with your audience on a personal level. The type of entertainment content you post will typically reveal a great deal about your personality. Sense of humour is a common source of bonding between people and your connection through social humour is no different.
Many accounts are dedicated solely to this content sub-section. While it isn’t necessary for all of your posts to make your audience laugh, it is worthwhile to include posts that will display your personality.
The goal here is to create relatability with your intended audience.
Your likability factor will largely depend on how your audience feels when engaging with your content. Specifically, your entertainment connection content. Try to avoid polarizing content.
The types of curated entertainment content that work best are:
Funny (but respectful) quotes, stats, comics or memes (static images)
Interesting and amusing videos
Feel-good amusing stories, local or national
If you’re looking for examples of curated educational content, you can check out my Pinterest board here.
The types of created entertainment content that work best are:
Behind the Scenes photos or videos
Original infographics with an amusing content base
Timely posts based on viral trends
How to implement the 3 Es
Using only the 3Es can make a very impactful social content strategy. To have maximum impact, however, you will need to infuse promotional content and calls to action. Given the current crisis situation and the current status of your business offerings, including sales messaging at this time may not make sense. However, in the absence of a clear sales message, these social content planning branding prompts can prove very helpful in maintaining a relationship with your audience while on temporary hiatus.
If you’d like to discuss how to use the 3Es to build a social content plan for your business, or how to pivot your current strategy, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to book a complimentary meeting, I’d love to hear what you’re up to! If you do use any of the content in the Pinterest boards, be sure to tag me @everydayimbranding on Instagram or Facebook so I can share your posts!
You’re not alone if the thought of creating social media content makes you cringe!
Making a choice to create consistent social media content will have huge effects on your business, if you do it correctly, but building new habits takes time.
The most important step is getting started!! Here are a few tips and tricks to consider as you move forward:
Consistency is key
Don’t worry if you’ve already missed a few days of the month, in fact, don’t worry if you miss a few each week! Aim to post 3-4 times/week to start. Honestly, you may even find that is the ideal frequency for you forever. As long as you post consistently and stay on brand, the frequency is less important. Choose topics and post types that are easily executable for you and don’t be afraid to batch, ie. create content for several posts at once, which will save time and energy!
You don’t have to recreate the wheel
Look for curated content (content created by others that you can easily share), as long as you include a personal caption that ties it back to you or your brand, it will have impact! Try google searches for popular quotes, motivational quotes, memes or even search by platform, ie. Instagram images. You can find some pretty cool graphics this way! Make sure to give credit to any photos or graphics where source is stated.
Patience is the other key
It takes time to build an engaged following. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a lot of traction right away. The main thing is that you’re adding content, and whether people engage with it or not, they are seeing it and seeing you and your brand. Think of it this way, if you’re telling a story face to face, just because the recipient doesn’t interrupt at every pause to tell you they are listening doesn’t mean they’re not. Your audience is there and they are listening, just make sure you’re giving them enough of the story to keep their attention.
Get over yourself
It is daunting and overwhelming to post content that features you, but you have to do it! Think of your social platforms as virtual networking events. You wouldn’t show up at an event without showing your face, would you? Potential clients want to know YOU. While that doesn’t mean your entire feed needs to be your face, you should make regular appearances. The more informal the better! Let your audience get to know you, and chances are, they will like you too. People do business with people they like.
To get started, take a lot of selfies, delete them if you must, but get comfortable taking them. Start taking a few small videos, delete those too if you feel uncomfortable watching them, but keep doing it until you’re ready to start watching them, then start posting them. Remember, it shouldn’t be perfect! Think of the people you find the most influential on social media, chances are it is because you can relate to them!
So, that’s it, stop reading, grab your camera, take a selfie or a video, search for a cool quote or photo and get posting!
If you have any questions about any of these tips or tricks, please feel free to get in touch!
Andrea was looking for a total revamp of the ECDA site. Using footage from various performances, we created a dynamic video compilation to use as the featured slider, capturing viewer attention immediately as they enter the site.
The site also features several animated photo galleries, online registration, studio information, class descriptions and teacher bios. We brought in their instagram feed to bring more attention to their social media and also allowing for new content to appear every time a viewer revisits the site.
The look is clean and the punch of movement when you visit the site really brings the entire project to life!
Sandra Pike has a background in marketing, and it’s obvious.
She entered the realty industry eight years ago, after working in a variety of fields. Her pursuits included law enforcement, group home counselling and franchise ownership before breaking into the realty industry as an advertising sales representative. It didn’t take long before she realized that what she really needed to do, was become an agent herself.
So, she did…with gusto.
If you mention Sandra or her brand persona, ‘Deals in Heels’ to anyone in the Halifax region, they’ll know who you mean. Chances are, they, or someone they know, has recently worked with her to buy or sell their home.
It wasn’t always an easy road though.
At first, Sandra’s forward-thinking approach to real estate marketing had many in the industry scratching their heads. Despite this doubt, Sandra forged into the unknown, and created a path that has helped her become one of the most well-known real estate agents in the area. Her tenacity has led to multiple speaking opportunities, recognition on a national and international level and the creation of a highly successful team of her own, The Pike Group.
So, what is her secret, you may ask?
Well, as Sandra says, “it’s social”.
Social media, that is. When she entered the industry, she started sharing any and all accomplishments on her social media platforms. Her ‘centre of influence’; family, friends and close acquaintances took it from there and shared these achievements. This was all it took to get the ball rolling. From there, she began adding custom graphics and positioning to her posts. This attracted more engagement and a growing following. Leading to a referral frenzy that continues to fuel her business today.
It took four years in the industry to build up the courage to launch her brand persona, ‘Deals in Heels’. As an avid shoe lover and collector, this persona allowed Sandra to connect with potential clients on a personal level, one that was authentic to her, and it worked.
“Branding is your connection to yourself and your clients.” Sandra says in reference to her brand persona, Deals in Heels.
A consummate trend setter, Sandra began introducing selfies, virtual walk throughs, entertaining video segments and drone incorporation in her listings.
She was disrupting the Halifax real estate market and people were noticing. Lots of people, including executives at Facebook, who contacted her to become the first realtor in the world to initiate their artificial intelligence chatbox program on her website.
To stay top of mind, Sandra and her team use a mix of platforms to engage with their clients.
She treats Facebook as her storefront, where she posts new listings, events she is hosting and an ever-mounting number of success stories. Instagram is her relationship building portal, where she shows her personality through authentic content, infused with nods to mainstream fashion and fun video segments.
As her team grows, Sandra accredits consistency and industry leading service standards to their continued success. Her authentic approach to her business, her brand and her life, is apparent in her success.
Success, not only as a real estate agent, but also as a social media disruptor, industry trend setter, educator and overall Powerhouse, in heels.
Throughout my career, I have worked with over 60 brands and have created content for countless websites and social media accounts. As a result, I have developed a unique and proprietary approach to social media strategy and planning.
In it, I use a customized matrix comprised of elements from each of my proven content quadrants. Client content plans maximize the reach, engagement and conversion ability of each social media posting.
Each content plan begins with a monthly content calendar. The calendar has a detailed outline of weekly themes and a suggested daily post topics combining both curated and created items. Customized content designed to speak to their target base, allows for more engagement and interaction.
Clients have raved about the freedom that these plans have created. In fact, they have revelled at the hours that have opened up to focus on the revenue generating activities they enjoy most. If you’d like to chat about your content creation plan, please reach out!
I began my creative career as a salon marketing executive in the beauty industry. As the salon Marketing and Branding Director I worked with many stylists and other beauty enthusiasts. As a result, projects like this are almost like a coming home for me.
I love working with other creatives!
Elizabeth was looking for a fresh new look for a very successful and established salon brand. Working with lighter shades and infusing white space enabled us to give the brand a new look and take on a new life!
As Elizabeth’s business continues to grow, this new branding will be able to grow with her, its timeless lines and space will be relevant for many years to come. To accompany the new brand mark, we build a new web presence. Again, using white space and clean lines to draw attention to the content on the site.
Making sure clients can find important salon information easily and efficiently played a large part in the site layout. An expandable menu allows for multiple price tables on one page. Enabling the user to easily move between service listings.
Stacy Chestnutt, Race Director for the Sole Sisters race series, has completed 60 marathons, 5 ultra-marathons and 8 Ironman competitions.
She is a machine.
Stacy has always been a runner, but she didn’t always want to be a Race Director. In fact, her debut in race direction was simply meant to be a fundraising vehicle for her passion project. Girls Gone Gazelle is an organization that focuses on building self-confidence for girls through exercise and community during a very crucial point in their development.
How it started
That first Sole Sisters race, the one that was intended to be a one-time initiative to raise much needed funds, took on a life of its own. It had a perfectly positioned focus, catchy name and inclusive approach. The event was not only a massively success, it was the birth of a community of women working toward a common goal; building confidence through communal movement and physical activity.
Since then, the Sole Sisters brand has developed into a household name in Halifax and surrounding maritime towns. Each year, the series of race events consistently draws more than 3000 women from across the country and beyond.
This brand is a natural evolution from its Gazelle-based roots. Both programs aim to create an inclusive environment that promotes the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the mental health benefits of physical activity and community for girls and women.
The main event is untimed, eliminating the pressure and intimidation that can sometimes deter less experienced runners or walkers. When you add in chocolate stops, fire fighters, hugs and the best damn swag in the industry, it is the perfect recipe for an event that has evolved into a strong and powerful brand.
For Stacy, however, the business aspect is not where she is most focused. “There are better businesses, but they’re not about the people. Sole Sisters is about the people.” She says as we have coffee in a crowded café. Her passion is palpable, you can feel it in the air as she sits across the table regaling stories from the past seven years of race events.
As the race grew in popularity, so did Stacy’s dedication to the experience she was providing. She pays meticulous detail to race attributes to ensure the event is accessible to all women, regardless of physical fitness level or lifestyle. To bring women together in the months leading up to the event, she began organizing socials across Nova Scotia. Creating an experience that women couldn’t wait to be a part of, joining in droves, as teams, as families.
At the heart of it all, however, is the one-of-a-kind Sole Sisters race kit. Each year, the kits feature a signature purple tutu, (of which a new design debuts each year), the most blinged-up metals in the country (maybe the world?) and running shirts and gear that actually fit AND you’ll want to wear again. Vendor partners are researched extensively to ensure that they fit the race series brand and mandate; improving the lives of women and girls.
This brand story is woven with tales of success and personal growth. One that sticks out in Stacy’s mind, and still brings her to tears when retelling, is the tale of two sisters that she coached as Gazelles who had graduated to become Sole Sisters Ambassadors. She remembers a day when they were attending one of the social events leading up to the event. The two were brimming with excitement as they had finally convinced their mother to join them. Their mother, whom had previously felt that attending a race event was out of her realm of ability, was inspired by seeing others participating and seeing this and the excitement and confidence that her daughters had gained gave her the courage to participate herself. These type of full circle experiences happen every year at the Sole Sisters events and it is powerful.
The event continues to grow, year over year. This growth is largely attributed to word of mouth exposure, a true indicator of the level of establishment and strength the brand holds. Additionally, successful social campaigns like #betheinspiration, #runHER and #TutuPower have shown success by disarming the common fears associated with participating in a race of this nature and making it an experience that is available for every woman.
As the success of the Sole Sisters brand grows, so does the amount of time and effort to continuously offer an empowering and rewarding experience for its participants. Stacy doesn’t mind though. While we wrap up our chat, she casually throws out “If there is something that you can love, it’s ok to work all the time. You have to have authentic passion to be successful.”
Working with Jacquelyn LeRue, Founder and Director at The Parlour Salon is like working with a true style visionary. Her boutique salon is located in the prestigious Larry Uteck development of Bedford. The Parlour prides itself on offering only the best. The best stylists, the best product lines, and the best blow-outs!
Jacquelyn was looking for a web presence that better represented the sophisticated and professional service The Parlour team offer their guests. We infused personality by using colourful images from one of their signature product lines. For balance we used a generous amount of white space and small accents. As a result, we were able to put together a website that truly represents The Parlour.
We built an e-commerce enabled site to accommodate a new membership program that allows guests to purchase directly from the site. Thinking proactively, we also built in the ability to include online booking should that become something they would like to consider in the future.
Amanda Wallace is an artist and Interior Designer living in Calgary, Alberta. Amanda was looking for a website that could be completely dedicated to her art and design services as her practices grows.
To properly showcase her art, we built an e-commerce capable site where she can add products, sort by category or attribute, control inventory, take custom orders and showcase her interior design portfolio.
we Last month, I touched on several of the traditional marketing heavy hitters including insight on how to best implement each in an impactful marketing mix (if you missed that riveting post, not to worry, you can find it here).
For the second part and conclusion of this series, we will delve into several modern and emerging marketing mediums. In many cases, the development of these types of initiatives has provided small businesses with the opportunity to engage in marketing campaigns that were previously unattainable due to budget or target audience segmentation limitations.
For many, however, navigating these newer platforms is an intimidating and overwhelming undertaking. This month’s post will offer a little insight in an effort to help ease the transition.
LET’S GET DIGITAL, DIGITAL.
Digital advertising is extremely popular due to its versatility and micro-focused targeting. Typically categorized as static or dynamic, a digital ad is considered to be static if it includes a single image, without animation or video properties. Most Leaderboard banners, (typically found at the top of a web page) or Big Box banners (typically found along the right-hand side of a web page) are static ads. However, they may also include dynamic content. Dynamic ads will typically include a series of images in sequence, animation or produced video. Dynamic content may also pop up on a web page as a viewer interruption or be shown before popular videos as what is known as pre-roll positioning.
In both cases, digital ads are designed to drive conversion by directing viewers back to a dedicated landing page. The major benefit to digital advertising is the ability to micro-target an audience. Digital advertising campaigns are unique in their ability to target based on specific user behaviour and patterns. They also inspire direct conversion with an easy gateway (link) to a specific landing page or offer. They are 100% measurable, providing precise consumer demographic information such as age, gender, location, interests, income and more. Digital advertising statistics allow companies to build a detailed and highly accurate buyer persona, meaning that their campaigns have the opportunity to grow in effectiveness as they progress. And with the ability to make changes to message or imagery in real time, most digital campaigns result in above average conversion and/or brand awareness.
Keeping in mind that viewers have grown accustomed to digital advertising as a regular part of their internet experience, companies that are creative with their imagery and intuitive in their message will typically see better results. It is important to ensure that the user’s landing position is as promoted, the message is succinct and there is a clear call to action. Failure to institute these characteristics will decrease the chance of conversion dramatically.
Certainly, having amazing and impactful content encourages engagement and increases reach, however, organic content-generated conversion often takes time to materialize and can be difficult to pinpoint. As a result, many companies opt to supplement their content plan with a social media advertising campaign.
According to Big Commerce, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Snapchat are the six social networks that generate consistent Return on Investment (ROI). Determining which network will work best depends on a number of factors. Advertisers will want to consider how their targeted customers are using social networks, which groups they are part of, which networks their customers are deemed to be most available on, and finally, where target customers are most likely to engage with ads. Each which will require a certain amount of research to determine.
The beauty of social media is its ability to specifically target an audience and easily scale campaigns. These platforms collect an enormous amount of information about their users, which can be used to create targeted and impactful ad experiences, which, if implemented correctly, are guaranteed to generate conversions.
Social media advertising is a broad topic, one that could easily support its own blog post, however, for the purpose of this article, I will offer a brief overview of the most popular networks with a few useful links for anyone looking for more information on any of these platforms.
Facebook Facebook is described by BigCommerce as THE universal social media network. Facebook’s ad platform is most effective for lead generation, email collection and ecommerce conversions via landing pages or specific offers. You can find useful links on building, budgeting and targeting your Facebook campaign here.
InstagramRecently acquired by Facebook, Instagram is quickly becoming a contender in the social advertising stratosphere and is considered to have one of the highest audience engagement rates. It appeals to sellers with visually appealing products or services, given its heavy focus on imagery and typically appeals to a younger demographic. You can find useful links on building, budgeting and targeting your Instagram campaign here.
Twitter With a following that is almost 50% more likely to shop online than non-twitter users, it is often used to boost ecommerce platforms and direct conversions. Many companies use Website Cards which feature call to action buttons, imagery and direct links to encourage traffic to their site. Website Cards associated with tweets significantly increase the likelihood of engagement. You can find useful links on building, budgeting and targeting your Twitter campaign here.
Pinterest Pinterest is one of the most powerful social media tools for ecommerce sales. Highly visual and skewed toward women, it boasts high engagement, opportunities for custom product promotion and holds a captive and actively seeking audience. You can find useful links on building, budgeting and targeting your Pinterest campaign here.
LinkedIn LinkedIn’s focus is geared largely toward B2B marketing. Its audience is considered to have higher than average disposable income and tends to produce the most productive B2B leads. As a result, its ad platform includes sponsored content, sponsored InMail and targeted text ads. You can find useful links on building, budgeting and targeting your LinkedIn campaign here.
Snapchat Considered one of the newest platforms, Snapchat is the most used network by young adults, which is often its most redeeming feature for potential advertisers looking to reach the millennial market. There are a number of ways to advertise including static or video infeed ads, sponsored lenses, Snapchat Discover and Sponsored Geofilters. While Snapchat offers interesting and innovative ways to reach your audience, it is considered to be one of the more expensive platforms. You can find useful links on building, budgeting and targeting your Snapchat campaign here.
CHECK YOUR INBOX
Mass emailing gained popularity in the 1990s. In fact, it hit with such an impact it initiated the development of the Data Protection Act. Instituted in 1998, The DPA was created to marshal the massive amounts of spam emails being sent without user approval by requiring an opt-out option in every mass email sent. Further legislation was later put in place to help curb the massive spam and virus epidemic associated with email marketing, the most recent example of this being Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation( CASL).
While these legislations do make email database collection a more difficult and tedious undertaking, email marketing remains to be a very effective advertising means, mainly as it remains the most used application, beating out social media and search engine platforms across the board.
A few things to consider when crafting an email marketing campaign include:
Get permission! Not only is this good business etiquette, it is also the law (see above CASL link). Gaining consented email lists can be achieved in a number of ways. The most common approach is to offer a free download or other incentive with an email signup or via a newsletter subscription form.
Use a third-party software. Using an email program allows advertisers to easily include an opt-out link as legally required, automatically remove users that choose to opt out and ensures that promotional emails come from a professional looking address without jeopardizing the integrity of your email list.
Deliver value. Once a company has gained permission, it is important to follow through with consistent and relevant content, at the frequency expectations they have set. This can be accomplished by crafting a thought-out annual campaign before sending any content to an email list.
Track and adapt. Most email marketing programs will offer statistics including the percentage of people opening emails, clicking on links or forwarding to someone else. Actively tracking these metrics provides the ability to increase the effectiveness of email campaigns.
You can find useful links on building, budgeting and targeting your email marketing campaign here.
UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Influencer marketing is taking social media by storm. Influencer marketing places the focus on influential people rather than the target market as a whole. Companies identify the individuals who have influence over potential customers, and then orients their marketing activities around these influencers.This endorsement-driven content relies on adequately selecting brand advocates to reach the target market by using the advertiser’s product or service and sharing their experience with their followers, which are typically pre-deemed to be the correct target market by the advertising company. For potential clients who may distrust large companies, the personalized endorsement from someone they trust, or respect can have a lot more impact than traditional routes.A few things to keep in mind when considering brand advocate partnerships include:
Social Media Reach. Bigger is not always better. Certainly, reach is important, however, having lots of followers or fans doesn’t always equate increased engagement, particularly given the algorithms in place by most social media networks to drive paid ad sales. Advertisers should consider past engagement, keeping in mind the aim of their campaign and finding the balance between reach and engagement necessary to meet their needs.
Audience Segment. Advertisers should research potential partnerships to ensure the influencer’s audience matches their target demographic. Substantial reach has little impact if the product or message doesn’t resonate with the audience.
Approach. Influencers that take a natural approach, that is, show value rather than actively sell something, typically have more a more engaged and loyal following. Successful influencers know that there is a balance necessary between sales posts and lifestyle posts.
To track ROI for these types of campaigns, advertisers may consider offering a specific offer for each influencer so that they can easily track the effectiveness of each campaign. You can find more information on these points and more here.
While this isn’t a comprehensive list of modern marketing mediums, I have touched on some of the most popular for this article, that said, if you have questions about anything not mentioned here, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Thanks for reading, if you’d like to read previous entries, you can find the archive hereand please feel free to share this content if you feel it could be beneficial to a business owner you know! ~ Alix
FINDING YOUR IDEAL MARKETING MIX – PART I The marketing media landscape can be a daunting and overwhelming terrain to navigate. With so many options to promote your brand or message, it can be difficult to understand which may work best for your product or service. How do you ensure that you are reaching the right audience?
Can you measure the return on investment (ROI)?
What is the most effective budget, frequency, message and call to action?
Without a full understanding of what is available and how it works, many businesses end up wasting precious marketing dollars on campaigns that yield little to no ROI. Once a marketing plan is deemed ineffective, business owners will often shy away from marketing initiatives altogether, missing out on many opportunities for growth.
In an attempt to circumvent this behaviour, this month’s blog post is dedicated to breaking down traditional marketing mediums. I have included a brief introduction of conventional mediums used today, the types of business and industry they are best suited for, how they can have the most impact and, when appropriate, suggested methods for measurement.
Print is alive…sort of.
Many say print is dead, and while it certainly isn’t effective for all businesses, it still has impact for many industries. Depending on whom you are trying to reach, print can be a very effective method, however, it remains highly expensive. Industries that continue to see benefit in newspaper advertising include auto dealerships, real estate brokerages, theatre companies, event organizers and recruiters. High end fashion and beauty retailers still see large returns on glossy magazine spreads and professional services firms can typically see a decent return by advertising in industry specific trade publications.
Generally speaking, print readership tends to be dominated by established, middle-to-high income households. In order to have impact, you’ll need a decent sized ad space and you should consider hiring a professional designer to properly convey your message through catchy and demographic appropriate imagery. Depending on the campaign, you may also have to consider several insertions to see maximum results. Other then front page/cover, ideal placement lies within pages 3 or 5, and as likely assumed, colour ads typically have more impact than black and white.
Many service-based companies are seeing benefits by contributing sponsored content in what used to be called advertorials. This is when you submit your own article content or work with one of the publication’s writers to create content that is displayed as an article. This will sometimes be considered more authentic in terms of messaging, however, be careful when contributing this type of content, if your sales pitch is only thinly veiled, it can have the opposite effect in terms of establishing credibility.
Look up, way up.
Out of home (OOH) is any type of large-scale advertising that you would see when, you guessed it, you’re out of your home. This category includes things like billboards, bus boards, back lit bus shelter posters, and the like. As OOH can be a costly option, you will see many national brands taking advantage of this medium. However, with the proper budget, it can be highly effective for quick shots of brand awareness or one-line promotional messages. You typically have about 10 seconds of the passerby’s attention for OOH activations, so your message should be succinct with well thought out imagery. Typically speaking, you’ll need a minimum campaign length of 4 weeks to see impact with OOH campaigns. ROI can be difficult to determine for both print and OOH campaigns, be sure to ask your provider for up to date traffic counts before committing to a location. Lastly, be sure to work with their in-house creative team or a professional designer to make sure you are using maximized font sizes and graphics that will have impact.
Tune in or tune out.
Depending on your message, radio can be a very effective way to reach a large volume of people. The key is making sure that the people you’re reaching are your target audience. When meeting with radio stations, make sure to tell them exactly who you are trying to reach and ask them to provide information on where they rank within those demographics. You’ll want to ask about how many people in your target demographic you can reach with their station. This is information they should be able to provide, broken down into what is referred to as ‘day-parts’, meaning they can tell you how many people are listening at various times throughout the day. Depending on the format of the station and your geographic location and population, there will be different listening patterns to consider. For more urban areas, drive times are often considered to be peak listening times. Booking sponsorships of daily features, such as traffic, weather or news, can be a great way to ensure your message is played during these peak times. For more rural areas, community features such as farm reports or event bulletins may be a better way to reach your audience. Lastly, consider the format of the station; for best results, make sure the type of music and content they are playing match with your company’s values and message before enlisting in a campaign.
No flyers please.
Before email and internet marketing became mainstream, the best way to geo-target was through direct mail. Direct mail campaigns use a series of postal codes to determine where promotional material will be sent. While this can still be a useful medium, there are certain factors it doesn’t take into consideration, such as occupation, interests or household income (although this can sometimes be inferred in certain postal zones). Many industries still use this medium faithfully, particularly fast food chains. Your local post office should be able to provide you with the postal codes in your area, you can also check the postal service website which contains a large database that you can query to create your campaign. This can be a costly method of advertising, aside from the per household fees, you may have hefty printing costs to consider. Including an exclusive code or offer is a great way to measure your conversion rate.
Go big, or go home. As relationship building is often the key to business building, attending industry appropriate trade shows can be an extremely beneficial marketing tool. The key is to research each show before investing as an exhibitor to find out what is included in the exhibitor package. Having booth space can be great, however, you’ll want specifics on the space, amenities available, competing companies, exhibition layout, sampling opportunities and conference attendance. The expo is typically only a fraction of the activity for a convention or conference so make sure your package includes entrance to all of the major networking events.
Likely the most important thing to remember when considering attending a trade show is who you will send to represent your company. Working trade shows is an interaction intensive undertaking. You will want your best sales people to attend to represent your brand. Consider a show specific offer or booth activation to draw people in and to help you stand apart. Lastly, make sure you are including a way to build a follow up contact list from those visiting your booth. Whether you offer a prize draw with a ballot (including email address and opt-in message) or access to your newsletter, have a way to collect information from those visiting your booth so you can reach out to them after the fact.
Align, align, align. Corporate sponsorships are one of the more difficult marketing expenditures to measure ROI. Sponsorships largely serve as a mechanism for brand awareness and extension. Partnering with like-minded events or charities is a great way to build community brand loyalty. Often, there are numerous opportunities to physically display your branding, address the audience before events, distribute literature or product samples and send members of your team to network dinners or events. A few things to consider when sizing up a sponsorship opportunity are: the audience demographics, the event’s message and/or value system and the potential exposure benefits for your company. If you’re planning an activation at an event or conference, make sure to consider the demographic attending for maximum impact.
TV or not TV, that is the question. Despite the shift in viewing patterns and viewer control, TV remains a well-used marketing avenue. While you will mostly see national brands taking advantage of the wide net that TV can cast, in smaller cities, there are often opportunities for companies to advertise on local channels at a more affordable rate. However, even in this case, you will still have to invest in quality commercial production, which can be prohibitive for a lot of smaller businesses.
A more cost-effective way to take advantage of this monster medium is to have your company sponsor closed captioning or another service your local station offers. Often, all you will need to do is send your logo and you’ll get exposure at the end of your chosen program(s). This medium is better suited for brand awareness campaigns as it can be very difficult to measure a direct ROI.
Can I interest you in a…
Depending on your product or service, sampling can be a very effective conversion mechanism. Obviously, it isn’t a method for everyone, however, if you have a low production cost, your ROI for this type of initiative can be substantial. For tangible products that are best expressed by experiencing, such as health and beauty products, food and drink or fitness products, this is a proven way to drive immediate conversion.
A few things to consider when promoting effective sampling programs are:
a.) location and audience; will there be adequate foot traffic? is it the right demographic fit?
b.) What is your call to action? Is there a way for a potential buyer to convert on-site? If not, what is your take away to promote a conversion once they are able to purchase?
c.). Who is handing out your samples? Are they equipped to answer any and every question they may receive about your product?
Companies are often tempted to employ students for this type of initiative, however, if they aren’t properly trained and educated on your products, the entire initiative could be a huge and costly bust.
Stuff we all get. Some people think SWAG stands for stuff we all get, I’m not sure whether or not that is true, but it’s not wrong. We all get swag, and most of the time it ends up in the garbage or on a thrift shop rack. However, there are ways to have effective promotional product campaigns. What you need to focus on is creating stuff we all want. The key to success is providing a product that people will use and thus adequately represent your brand. Having your logo on an item that ends up in a junk drawer or hanging next to a ’Where’s the Beef’ t-shirt, isn’t an effective use of your marketing dollars. So before ordering any product, ask yourself:
Who am I trying to reach with this item? Will it be used where others can see it? How long will it last? Will others ask about it?
Ask for it?
As with anything, there are price breaks if you order a higher volume of products, however, think realistically about how, where and when you will distribute each item, as having an inventory closet full of items without a distribution plan, will have little impact. *** That concludes this month’s look at traditional marketing methods. Next month, when we delve into some of the more modern marketing mediums, we’ll look at the difference in targeting, budgeting and application that have opened up over the last ten years within the marketing landscape. Thanks for reading, if you’d like to read previous entries, you can find the On my Mind archive here and please feel free to share this content if you feel it could be beneficial to a business owner you know! ~ Alix
Point Pleasant Child Care Centre (PPCCC) is an organization that is close to my heart. My son attended for several years and I also served on the board for a few more once he had graduated to ‘big kid’ school.
Having recently completed a positioning exercise, a new narrative was built around their mission statement, ‘Passionate about Possibility’. To complete this further defined positioning, they needed a more streamlined website to accommodate the ever present waiting list and allow prospective parents to have a small glimpse into the wonder they cultivate each day.
Authenticity, while not a new concept, is certainly a recent buzz word in many facets of consumer life. It is a common and consistent theme in self-care dialogs, parenting discussions and personal growth platforms, to name a few. The philosophy of being authentic is nothing new, but its importance to consumers is. With the billions of messages that we consume in the run of a day, having an authentic brand strategy is one way to make sure your message is noticed and engaged with by potential customers or clients.
Today’s consumers want to feel like you’re in it with them, not for them.
Are you offering messaging and content that will resonate with who they are? Will it speak to their values? If the answer is yes, you are much more likely to make a connection with that person, and connection means a much more probable conversion. Brands that succeed at relating to their audience tend to generate content that speaks from the core of their brand to the core of their consumer’s. If your content is authentic, it will feel natural, and potential customers will recognize and relate to that.
Consumers crave predictable activity from their favourite brands. Consistent output builds client loyalty. Once consumers trust what your brand is saying and doing, they will want to engage with you and eventually, to align with you. Setting a consistent footprint will also allow customers to develop expectations for your product or service deliverables. The great thing about client expectations is being able to exceed them, this leaves room for creating that wow factor for clients and securing their relationship with your brand, for life.
So if we now understand the importance of authenticity in our brand strategy, the next question is, how do we achieve it?
Step one: Values.
Corporate values are the foundation for optimal brand performance. Think of it this way, when you are facing a decision about your business and one of the alternatives really doesn’t feel right, that is likely because it goes against one of your core values. Whether you have consciously gone through the exercise of determining them or not, you have moral guidelines that feel right for you and that make you unique. The same can be said for your brand. Having a set of parameters that you can use as a measuring stick for every business decision, content idea or message communicated will ensure that your message is consistent. Consistency is the backbone of your authentic brand strategy.
There are many exercises out there designed to help facilitate this activity. You can easily find a free download to help get started. You may want to consider making a professional development segment out of it by including your team. Having the team participate will ensure that they feel ownership, and this will empower them to live to these values, both in their interactions with your clients, and with each other.
Step two: Authenticity Drivers.
Once your values are in place, it is important to create a series of statements, or drivers, that will serve as your brand service guidelines. To do this, take each of your values and build a statement, or series of statements, to determine how they can be enforced in practical terms. For example, if one of your values is found to be Integrity, first agree on what that means to you or your team. If you agree that the definition of Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, then a few possible authenticity drivers might be:
We do what we say we will.
We are transparent in our decision making
We own our mistakes
Having these drivers in place will not only support the authenticity of your organization’s decision making, it will shape your authentic culture.
Step three: Narrative.
Building a corporate narrative is perhaps the most important, and most neglected, step in the brand authenticity process. Having your values and guiding principles in place is a start, but determining how they will be interwoven into your organization will be the key to successfully integrating your authentic brand strategy.
Your narrative includes the storyline derived from your values and principles. It will be used to describe your company, your culture and your offerings. It will dictate how you use this language and how it will manifest itself in your service standards and internal interactions. It should be inclusive from your front-end sales language straight through to your website content, social media output and internal memos. Your team must live and embrace this new narrative in order for it to have an impact on your end consumer.
In short, your narrative is your brand story; your organization’s shared passion. It may encompass any combination of: your tagline and positioning statement, creative outputs, marketing campaigns or messaging and communication tactics, however, what it is really communicating is your why. Your narrative should describe where your company has been, where you are now and where you are going. You should be taking consumers on the ride with you. It should encompass what your company values, what drives its authenticity and where it brings value to the end user.
Once these steps are complete, and your authentic brand strategy is in place, you will find that decision making becomes almost effortless, your customer loyalty will grow and your internal culture will then mirror your external output. Above all else, you will feel good about the product or service you are delivering and as a result, those around you will as well.
Alix Robinson is a Halifax-based graphic designer, branding specialist and owner of Every Day I’m Branding Virtual Marketing Management.
Believe it or not, the hashtag has been around for more than a decade.
Back in 2007, when twitter was in its infancy, a Google developer named Chris Messina suggested in a tweet that perhaps the easiest way to group things by subject would be to throw a pound sign in front of them. His suggestion was based on historic use of the pound sign to categorize within the world of programming and other technological avenues, and despite the fact that it did indeed work, it didn’t catch on right away. Throughout 2007 it was used sparingly within the tech community, aspiring political parties picked it up to encourage voting in 2008, but it wasn’t until Twitter itself began promoting hashtags in 2009 that it’s use became mainstream.
These days, even though hashtags are common place, many business owners don’t really understand how hashtags work or how they can use them to boost their marketing efforts. Choosing hashtags that have impact on your business can be daunting and overwhelming for even the most experienced business owners. However, there are a few best practices to consider to help optimize your posts for maximum reach.
Choose hashtags that are relevant to your content.
It isn’t about reaching the most people, it is about reaching the right people. Make sure your posts include tags that are popular with your target audience. Research what your competitors and industry influencers are using in their posts and whether they are having success with them. In Instagram, you can easily search for terms or words that are specific to your industry and then select the ‘tags’ tab to see which hashtags are being used frequently within that content stream and remember to also look at the related tags when conducting those searches, as that can be a great resource as well.
Follow the trend.
It is worthwhile to do a little research on hashtags that are trending. If any of the current trending tags are relevant to your content, consider including them in your posts. If a hashtag is trending it is more likely to come up in popular searches. However, this can also be problematic if you don’t have a strong following as your post can be more likely to get lost in the stream of tagged posts. Various social media algorithms favour posts with a lot of engagement and will bump other posts down from the top, making it easy for trending tag posts to get lost in the shuffle.
Choose quality over quantity.
Although it seems to be a popular practice to include a laundry list of hashtags on each post, research suggests that this should be avoided and is frowned upon by many popular platforms. Both Facebook and Twitter suggest not using more than 2 hashtags per post and while you can include up to 30 in an instagram post or 10 in a story, the magic number for maximum engagement is thought to be 9 or 10, however that doesn’t mean you need to include that many in every post. The more relevant your tags are to your content and your targeted audience, the more impactful they will have, regardless of quantity.
Follow performance metrics.
If you upgrade your account in Instagram to a free business profile, you will gain access to insights on the effectiveness of hashtags you have used in your posts. This can be a huge asset as your content evolves. This is also why it is important to use unique tags for each post and avoid copying and pasting that laundry list of tags. Instagram users have the ability to request that your account’s content not show up for a certain tag if they don’t like what you are posting, having enough of those requests from users can drastically impact your reach. Twitonomy will provide Twitter hashtag statistics and sites like RiteTag can give you information on tags that typically perform well.
Let your fans feed your content generator!
By asking fans or followers to use a specific hashtag when they post about your content, you create an easy way to collect content for reposting, but it also enables your fans to advertise for you. The key is to create a tag that is relevant, easy to remember and unique to your brand. You can use an incentive to drive the call to action, or simply make sure to repost as many as possible so your fans feel valued and recognized.
Hashtags aren’t going away any time soon, your best bet is to do the research and start using them in an effective manner as they can be a huge exposure tool! A few last tips to take into consideration before you become a tag master:
Make sure your Facebook posts are public if you want them to come up in hashtag searches.
Check hashtags before you use them to make sure they aren’t somehow affiliated with a subject matter that you don’t want to be known for.
Alix Robinson is a Halifax-based graphic designer, branding specialist and owner of Every Day I’m Branding Virtual Marketing Management.
I get asked all the time by clients and associates, how can I get more people coming in the door without spending a fortune on marketing? How can I build awareness ‘organically’?
Certainly for small businesses, marketing budgets are tight, which makes an organic growth plan much more attractive, however, it is also the hardest to cultivate.
Here are a few steps to take to help your organic growth strategy take off:
Take a Look in the Mirror.
The first step when building towards organic growth is to take a close look at your corporate culture. Do you have corporate values to use as an ethical and professional benchmark? Are you living up to them with every client interaction? If the answer is no to either of these questions, it makes sense to first get very clear on your company’s values and guiding principles to make sure you are consistently providing a product or service worth talking about. Word of mouth can be a very powerful tool for your business, however, by the same token, it can have a devastating effect if something goes wrong.
Get Really Clear on who you are Serving.
Take a look at your existing client base and then take a look at who you are targeting with your current messaging and positioning. If the two are not in alignment, then either your offerings have to change or your marketing approach has to change. When a business experiences organic growth, it is typically within a similar demographic to that they are currently serving. So if you have an existing client base that doesn’t match who you are targeting with your message, it may be time to step back and develop your ideal buyer persona. This type of exercise will help you to develop a better understanding of who your target audience is and then you will have a better chance of effectively reaching it.
Share the Love.
Word of mouth may be the strongest organic growth influencer there is, but alone it doesn’t always drive conversion. An effective way to seal the deal is to initiate a referral program. A great referral program not only rewards the new client, but also rewards the referring client for their loyalty and endorsement. It becomes easy for your clients to bring you up in conversation and when a need arises that your company can solve, it is much more likely that your product or services will be recommended. If a referral program isn’t the right thing for your business, consider loyalty gifts or client recognition programs instead.
Be a Content King.
Social media has changed the face of marketing and exposure. To gain organic growth via social media you have to offer content that is important to your target audience. Important meaning that they have some type of emotional attachment to it. Be authentic, be relatable, offer something new and engage with your audience. Encourage interaction and be quick to respond and create conversation. Posts should be relevant to your target demographic (revisit your buyer persona if necessary), be in alignment with your corporate values, topical and SEO optimized for driving organic traffic.
Remember that Consistency is Queen.
Once you’ve established your values and buyer persona, stick with them. Every decision should be in alignment with your values and relevant to your persona, if you are considering a message or promotion that doesn’t, start over. Consistency in your branding, your corporate culture, social media, positioning and your offering is important to build loyalty, which in turn builds endorsement and eventually, organic exposure. To ensure a consistent schedule, set up a content calendar, however, rather than ‘set it and forget it’, be careful to measure the success of each post and use those analytics to continuously adjust your content for maximum engagement.
Organic growth takes TIME. The best things always do. Stay the course, stay consistent in your interactions and offerings and continue to produce authentic content and the rest should slowly – but surely – fall into place.
Alix Robinson is a Halifax-based graphic designer, branding specialist and owner of Every day I’m Branding Virtual Marketing Management.