Tuesday, March 29, 2016
The Benefits of the Backstage Approach
One of the major benefits of this type of "backstage" approach is that it helps position you as a true authority on a particular topic. It's one thing for you to SAY that a product performs X, Y, and Z functions - it's another thing entirely to prove it by providing an unprecedented look into the design and development process. You can shed insight on your decision-making process, for example, helping them to not only SEE what your product does but WHY.
Taking a "backstage" approach to marketing also helps to strengthen the intimate, organic connection you're able to create with your target audience - thus helping to build brand loyalty. Think about it from the perspective of the entertainment industry, as celebrities, in particular, are masters at this. DVDs are filled with hours of special features outlining how a scene was shot, how a script was written, how a special effect was pulled off and more. This instantly makes something that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make seem smaller and more intimate, while letting audiences take their experience to a whole new level at the same time. Providing a similar look into your own operation will have the same effect for you, too.
Pulling Back the Curtain
Unless you're launching a product that is shrouded in complete secrecy, you can start pulling back the curtain pretty much right away. Even if it's something as simple as updating a weekly blog post with sketches, schematics, and other materials from the research and development phase, this will go a long way towards increasing transparency across the board. Have employees talk about the specific work they're doing on a daily basis and how even though they're all working separately, they're all contributing to a larger whole.
This startlingly simple approach helps to close the gap in between business and customer, making a customer actually feel like they're a natural part of the process. When you combine this with all of your other marketing techniques, you're looking at a striking amount of loyalty built just from publicizing activities that were already going on behind closed doors anyway.
These are just a few of the many reasons why providing a "backstage" glimpse can help bring your product or service to life. Not only does it help provide a valuable context to the particular product or service that you're trying to sell, but it also helps build a strong, positive impression of your company. People will stop seeing you as a faceless entity and will start looking at you more like the living, breathing, hardworking people that you really are. This will only deepen the connection that you have with your target audience and make interaction more meaningful in the future.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Luckily, the exact cause of these types of issues also happens to be one that is easily avoided. By creating an editorial calendar, you essentially create the backbone of your entire content marketing strategy. Your entire team can reap the benefits in a number of important ways.
Why You Need an Editorial Calendar
On the surface, an editorial calendar is a calendar that outlines the specific due dates for all important content launches well into the future. It's a wonderful, visual way to see where you stand and what you need to do in terms of your short-term and long-term goals.
Underneath, however, it's an invaluable resource to start putting better content out into the world immediately. Think of it like a daily planner - each day you know what type of content is going to be launching, who is going to be writing it, what important details are going to be included, and more. It's an opportunity to take this resource and bend it to your existing workflow. Instead of laying down guidelines for your team and forcing them to adjust the way they like to work to meet this new tool, the tool itself is inherently malleable by design.
An editorial calendar is also a great way to plan for the entire process of content creation from start to finish. Everything from idea conception to publishing is all handled through one centralized point of access, not only giving you all of the benefits of firm project management but also helping with communication. Everybody can be on the same page at the same time (no pun intended) because all they have to do is check the calendar to see where they've been, where they are, and where they're supposed to be going next. It doesn't get much easier than that.
Forming the Backbone of Your Future Content Planning
Once you've had the chance to get your editorial calendar up and running, you'll have access to a wide range of different benefits that would be difficult to get in any other way. For starters, a calendar allows you to custom build your content marketing strategy for specific audiences in a much easier way than ever before. Based on user preferences and behaviors you can clearly outline what types of content are making their way to which channels and, more importantly, when.
An editorial calendar also gives you the ability to plan keywords well in advance, letting you design the content around the keywords your users are paying attention to, rather than trying to cram those keywords into a piece once it is already finished.
These are among the many reasons why taking the effort to create an editorial calendar is well worth your time. The great thing about it is that it is a resource you only have to build once. As soon as your editorial calendar is up and running, everything from creating content to distribution becomes significantly less challenging and the results that you're after are well within your reach.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Best known for the most ubiquitous automobile on the road today, Ford founder, Henry Ford had a rocky start. Early on in his life, Ford worked as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. It was during this time that he built the first gasoline-powered horseless carriage in a shed behind his home. Due to a number of factors, including controversial views on politics and battles with the United Automobile Workers, Ford reportedly went broke three different times. Despite numerous setbacks, Ford went on to develop new methods for mass production that put the automobile within the reach of ordinary citizens.
Louis Pasteur was a French Chemist and Microbiologist most well-known for his invention of pasteurization, a process that kills bacteria in food through extreme heat. Beyond making food safer for people for years to come, this below-average chemistry student is also responsible for creating vaccines for anthrax and rabies. Not bad for a student ranked 15 out of 22 chemistry students!
George Lucas...the man that brought us Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader, and the Force, fueled every kids' dream of being a fighter pilot in outer space. It's hard to imagine that a franchise worth over $30 billion began with rejections from every studio in Hollywood before 20th Century Fox finally took a chance on it. We shudder to think what would have happened had he just given up and went home.
He's what George Lucas says about failure: "If you're creating things, you're doing things that have a high potential for failure, especially if you're doing things that haven't been done before. And you learn from those things. No matter how you cut it, you say, 'Well, that didn't work,' or, 'Well, this didn't work,' or 'That was not the best idea.' And you use that information that you've gotten, which is experience... Failure is another word for experience."
Known for his fanciful theme parks and animated children's tales, Walt Disney wasn't always living in the lap of luxury. Countless instances of adversity rained down on Disney in his early years as an animator. After having to dissolve his company in 1921, he was unable to pay his rent and was living on dog food to survive. Later, after gaining some success with a cartoon character named Oswald the Rabbit, Universal obtained ownership of the character and hired all of Disney's artists when Disney tried to negotiate with Universal Studios to increase his pay. Not surprisingly, Disney reportedly suffered from depression during his long career. The suffering and perseverance paid off, as assets of the Walt Disney Company are currently in excess of $89 billion in 2015.
Who would have thought that one of the most well-known and revered children's book authors had trouble getting his writing career off of the ground? It's true, though. The crafty "Cat in the Hat" creator was reportedly rejected by 27 publishers for his first book "And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street." The 28th publisher, Vanguard Press, took a chance on the young author, ultimately selling over 6 million copies of that first book. Since then, Dr. Suess has published over 40 books and sold over 600 million copies. The best part is how he made a positive impact on the lives of millions of kids around the world.
Remember, you write your own stories, so you are in control of writing your ending. Will those "failures" become opportunities or excuses to quit?
Friday, March 18, 2016
The truth of the matter is that this content is still high-quality because you wouldn't have sent it out into the world if it wasn't. It's a shame to write it off so quickly, especially when you can use just a few, simple techniques to increase its overall return on investment beyond what you originally thought was possible. If you want to guarantee that you're getting maximum mileage out of your marketing content, there are a few, key tips that you're definitely going to want to keep in mind.
Repurpose Whatever You Can
Creating a piece of high-quality, original content from scratch is not only expensive but time-consuming. This isn't exactly a secret, but it is a problem that marketers are creating for themselves more often than not by insisting that every last piece of information going out into the world has to be wholly original from the top down.
The fact of the matter is that it doesn't - sometimes repurposing a piece of older content is a great way to not only get maximum mileage out of those materials, but it can also help fill gaps in your editorial strategy and more.
For example, say you hosted a webinar that went off without a hitch. Those ideas don't have to die the minute the last viewer logs off. Take all the notes from the webinar and turn them into a slideshow for your website or use them as the basis for a direct-mail flyer to go out in the near future. You get the benefit of building FROM something instead of creating from scratch and also get to stretch the ROI of that original content as far as it can go at the same time.
Redistribution: Using Changes to Your Advantage
Another one of the most important ways to get maximum mileage out of your marketing content involves careful redistribution. Consider how things may have changed since that original piece of content went out into the world. Maybe you designed a post for Facebook that was hugely successful but now a new social media network has entered the marketplace. A few key adjustments could make that old piece ready for a brand new audience.
The same can be said of taking something from the print world and bringing it into the digital realm, and vice versa. Take that informative print flyer you sent out a few weeks ago and use it as the framework for a blog post. You get the benefit of increasing the longevity (and again, the ROI) of that original content and you get it in front of a whole new crop of people at the same time.
While many people think of content marketing as "disposable," it absolutely does not have to be that way. A good piece of content is a good piece of content - period. By carefully practicing techniques like redistribution and repurposing, you can stretch the value of that content as far as it will go, and get as many miles out of it as you can.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
A legendary hack-a-thon ensued, spanning an entire month. The result? We now have the choice to not just like something, but to LOVE something, laugh at something, or express shock, sadness and anger. To express our new emotions, all we have to do is hover over the traditional blue and white thumb and six new emojis emerge. For mobile users, simply hold down the thumb and your new emojis will appear.
From a social standpoint, we are all feeling liberated at our ability to express more than one emotion without the necessity of typing out a complete thought. But what does this mean for businesses and people marketing on Facebook? Quite a bit actually...
Aside from the obvious point that you can now identify and quantify how many people feel about your post, there are some handy things you can now do as a business owner that may give you an upper hand with your competition. Because these emotional responses are public, you can do some recon work and check out how people are reacting to your competitors' content as well. Based on your gathered intel, you can now customize your content to better reflect what people are interested in.
This new functionality can also enable you to get more bang for your buck while advertising on Facebook. If you go to your Insights page on Facebook, you can access data on people's reactions to each post. If one or more posts are engaging more individuals or are loved by more individuals, you can choose to boost that post for a fee. This takes the guesswork out of deciding where to spend your advertising dollars.
We are all well aware of the reality that it's just not realistic that you're going to "like" every post that makes it into your feed because sooner or later the content will be about some atrocity that's being committed that you want to stop. So, instead of liking the post, you, like most people, just keep scrolling. It's not that the post was not engaging, it's just that people don't want to "like" the content. With the new reactions, people can express sadness or anger at the content of the post, letting them know that it was read and stirred some emotion. The upside for your business is that you can post more meaningful content about issues that are important to them and not worry about losing points for attention because all of the reactions count as "likes" on your page.
Have you ever had one of those days when your server goes down or your payment processing company is having issues? It can really derail your day and cause some ruffled feathers with your customers. People love to go negative on social media if they feel they're not being heard. The reaction emojis can now help you avoid negative comments in your feed if something is not going quite right with your company. Next time this happens, try pinning a post to the top of your page explaining the situation and perhaps offering a discount to anyone who was inconvenienced by the event. Ask them to show some love to your company by clicking the heart emoji and watch a potentially negative experience turn into an opportunity to engage in a positive way with your customers.
As these reactions catch on, you can be sure more creative ideas will begin to flow on using them to benefit your company. You may even try holding a competition for a free giveaway while also showing people how to use the new reaction emojis. Ask people to show some love in exchange for a free product or service that you offer. Not only will you boost your likes, you will also make people loyal fans. Get creative and have fun. After all, it's what the new emojis are all about.
Friday, March 11, 2016
At the end of each day, do you take stock of what you've done and feel as though you were constantly busy, but you can't for the life of you figure out how your time was spent? As days turn into week and weeks into months...we often feel exhausted, but with no real accomplishments to show for our efforts.
The problem is, most people see time as an infinite resource. They approach life like they're driving down the street and miss a Starbucks, but happy in their knowledge that there's another one a mile down the road. Likewise, we alway think "tomorrow is another day" and promise ourselves we'll keep track of our time and use it wisely then. This mindset is the best way to never accomplish what you want in life.
When we think of money, though, our mindset is a bit different. Our society encourages us to work hard when you're young and invest your money so that when you retire and no longer make money, you'll have that nest egg to spend. If you invest in your time, though, really spectacular things can happen.
Understand your productivity cycles.
Ernest Hemingway wrote in the morning because that was his most creative time of the day. Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, on the other hand, reportedly didn't get out of bed before 11:00 am, preferring to work late into the night. Having a solid understanding and respect for when you are at your most productive will enable you to reserve your most important work for when you're at your mental best.
Make a list of the most important things you want to accomplish.
Making a list of the things you need to accomplish can help us overcome what's called the Zeigarnik Effect. No, it's not a mosquito-borne virus. You've experienced the Zeigarnik Effect on those nights you can't sleep because you're endlessly trying to remember everything you need to do and keep it organized in your mind. This happens during the day as well, when you're trying to concentrate on the task at hand, but your mind is still whirring in the background keeping your list organized. Give your brain a break and write it all down. Take a few minutes to prioritize those items for better efficiency.
Do the most important things first each day.
By doing the most important things first, you can always be assured that something important is done each day. Night owls, fret not, you can still save the most brain-intensive or creativity-intensive items for those 2:00 am writing sessions, just make sure that if something absolutely needs to be done in the morning, it gets done.
Don't discount small blocks of time.
As a society, we've taken to killing time on our phones during those periods of time when standing in line, or commuting on a bus or train. Time is too valuable to kill! Instead of checking Facebook while waiting for your coffee, identify things on your list that take up small amounts of time and get those done while you're waiting instead.
Finally, schedule in some down time for yourself. Nothing kills productivity more than a burned-out mind. Take a look at how you're spending your time and see how you can better spend it using these easy tips.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Luckily, there is a way to accomplish all of this and more. By spending your marketing dollars pre-emptively and teasing the launch of your product or service well in advance, you can build the type of hype that will continue to pay dividends for a lifetime.
The Most Efficient Marketing Engine on the Planet - Disney
Perhaps the most powerful marketing machine in existence belongs to The Walt Disney Company - and this isn't just because they seem to have unlimited financial resources at their disposal. Consider the masterful way that they built anticipation for "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens." Starting a full year out from the premiere of the movie, a teaser trailer was released to build anticipation. Since that opening salvo, we were bombarded with a steady stream of marketing content, from tie-in comic books to a toy launch event that was treated as a national holiday, and more. Anticipation for a new "Star Wars" film could not have been higher going into its release, but what did all of that marketing really tell us about the film itself?
The answer is "not much." People knew what it was called, knew who was in it, knew it had the words "Star Wars" in the title and very little else. So, why was the hype going into the release of the film so massive if people actually knew next to nothing about it, let alone whether or not it would be good? Because of the power of "anticipation" in action.
Little By Little
When building anticipation for a product or service ahead of its release, the key is to understand just how powerful saying very little can actually be. You don't want a print marketing material to literally say "this is what this does and this is why you want it." Doing so removes the air of mystery from the proceedings, which is one of the key ingredients when building anticipation. You need to focus on core images or small facts that only hint at a much larger whole. You want people to say to themselves "I NEED to know more about what this is," because at that point you've got their attention. Once you have their attention, the actual product or service itself can help make sure that you never let go.
Focus On the Problem, Not the Solution
Say you had a product or service that made it easier for stay-at-home moms to get the kids off to school in the morning. If you wanted to build anticipation in your print marketing materials, you might focus on that particular problem above all else. The different waves of your campaign would be devoted to essentially confirming what they already know - "kids tend to not be cooperative in the morning, if only you had more hours in a day, it's difficult to manage your own schedule and theirs at the same time, etc." Then, you might tease with a bold statement like, "We're about to change all that. Stay tuned for more information," and continue to hit them with additional marketing materials in the run-up to the actual launch.
Not only have you appealed to their sentiments and hinted at how you're about to change their lives in an emotional way, but you've also begun to build anticipation at the same time. The great thing about anticipation is that it tends to snowball - if you can get a customer excited today, your focus can then become on KEEPING them excited, which is significantly easier and less time consuming than getting their attention in the first place.
Anticipation is one of the single best assets that you have in your quest to connect with your target audience in new and meaningful ways. If you can play the "anticipation game" in the right way, you won't have to worry about convincing people to engage with your product or service when it launches. They'll come directly to you - they practically won't be able to help themselves.
Friday, March 4, 2016
The most successful mountain bikers stick to these simple words of wisdom - "look where you want to go." For some strange reason, your brain sees you looking at something and interprets that as, " I want." So, your brain does its' best to give you what you're paying all that attention to. If you're cruising down the road staring at a tree chanting, "please don't hit that" under your breath, chances are, you're going to look yourself straight into that tree. To avoid the tree, you simply have to look at the road you want to travel.
These same words of wisdom can have many applications in life, especially when it comes to your business strategy. How many times have you heard of businesses failing for one reason or another? Is it possible that the owners' focus was not on the success of the business, but rather on the fear of failure? Did those owners "look" their businesses off of a cliff because they were so afraid of failing? Probably.
Like those successful mountain bikers, the most successful business owners focus on success and not on failure. They have a clear view of the path they want their business to take. They have a clear view of the customers they want to serve. They have a clear view of what their business is about. How do they get that focus? It's really a three-step process.
Re-train Your Mind
As human beings, we have a natural fear of the unknown. If you've never done this particular business, you have very little idea of the exact plan that will make your business profitable. This is scary, no doubt. But, if you can train your mind to be ok with that unknown, you can focus your energies on the success of your business, rather than sitting in the fear of the unknown. How do you do that? Well, a good way to start is to understand when that fear starts talking to you; when the only thing going on in your head is worry. Understanding that that is fear and saying to yourself, "I don't know what's going to happen and I'm ok with that," can turn off the worry and allow you to focus on success.
Create Your Path
Before you start your business, and periodically after that (think one-year plans), sit down for a few hours and write about your business. What is your product or service about? Who does your product or service appeal to? Where do these people hang out? How can you reach them? Having a clear understanding of these things will help you focus your marketing energies moving forward.
Travel Your Path
Now that you're looking towards the path of success, you can move forward. You have the time and energy to focus on the discrete marketing strategies that will make your business a success. Whether it's shooting YouTube videos about what you do, or traveling to meet with the people that you want to serve, you have the right mindset to go about making your business a success.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
All Eyes Are On You
Perhaps the biggest factor to understand when it comes to social media and customer engagement is the idea that a conversation between a business and its customers is both more intimate and more public than it has ever been. If a customer has a positive experience with a representative of your brand on their Twitter page, they're never more than a mouse-click away from telling all of their friends about it. The reverse is also true - a negative experience on a site like Facebook can have huge potential ramifications due to the public nature of that conversation in the first place.
If you search for your brand's name on Twitter and see users talking about an issue they're having, you can easily interject with some troubleshooting tips to help them get the most from their product or service. Not only did you solve their problem, but they also didn't have to ask for help - this is a "win-win" scenario as far as customer engagement is concerned.
There Are No More Small Problems
Consider the public relations nightmare that Entenmann's created for itself, for example. One day, a social media marketer at Entenmann's hopped on Twitter, looked at the current worldwide trending topics and noticed that one happened to be #notguilty. Sensing an opportunity to both interject into a popular conversation and craft a pretty solid pun at the same time, the brand sent out a tweet asking who was "#notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want."
The issue with this is that, as it turns out, the #notguilty hashtag was created as a result of the highly controversial Casey Anthony trial - the verdict of which had just come down earlier that day. Suddenly a seemingly innocuous tweet about snack cakes turned into a national nightmare for the brand as they were seen as obtuse at best and highly insensitive at worst - all of which could have been avoided had the marketer just clicked on the hashtag to see what it was actually referring to. This is the type of major issue that simply didn't exist five years ago before social media became such a permanent fixture in our lives.
These are just a few of the many ways that social media has changed just about everything in terms of customer engagement in the digital age. We believe that success in this field requires a deeper understanding of the game that you're now playing as a business owner, so to speak. It's now easier than ever to pay attention to the conversations that your customers are having with one another and interject in positive and meaningful ways. This is a two-way street, however - one wrong move and you're potentially looking at a PR nightmare on a massive scale, so making sure that you're always putting your best foot forward is more important than ever.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
What Your Typography Says About You
The term typography does not refer to any one particular type of font, but rather an entire family of fonts. Serif and Sans Serif are two different fonts, for example, but they both belong to the same family. Serif and Times New Roman, on the other hand, are two completely different font families.
Simple typography selection can actually be a great way to make a particular impression on your reader even before they've had a chance to digest what your marketing materials are saying. Serif fonts tend to invoke a feeling of professionalism or traditionalism, for example, while fonts designed to mimic handwriting tend to come off as much more casual and approachable. Script fonts tend to be perceived as more formal. As a result, when crafting your buyer personas you should be thinking about not only what they want you to say, but how they want you to say it. An older target audience would likely respond more to Serif typography, whereas a younger audience may prefer the additional friendliness that handwriting-style typography conveys.
One of the major benefits of making strong typography choices in your marketing materials feeds back into the larger idea of brand consistency. Take the typography of your corporate logo as just one example. By making a strong typeface decision early in the designing process and using the same overarching idea across all mediums, you can make all of your communications feel like they're coming from the same place. If your print flier uses the same basic typography selection as your website, for example, they suddenly feel like they're coming from one place even though they're being digested via two incredibly different forms of communication.
Controlling Pace with Typography
Typography can also be a great, subtle way to dictate the speed at which certain marketing materials can be read. Say you have a 500-word print flier that you can't edit to be shorter, but also are afraid may be overwhelming to the reader. By using a different typography selection to highlight certain key points, you're immediately commanding the reader to stop and pay attention to those lines. All of the information is still there, but if their eye is naturally drawn to the contrasting typography (as it likely will be), they can skim the entire flier if they want and still walk away with the message you wanted them to receive.
These are just a few of the ways that typography ultimately feeds into how successfully your message is received by your target audience. By taking a deeper level of control over typography, in addition to crafting the specific message you're trying to convey based on word-choice, your brand stands a much better chance of making the type of positive and meaningful impact on your target audience that you were after in the first place.