Jan 18, 2016

Creating great visuals for social media

social mediaVisual media is an important element of your marketing. It grabs the attention of the viewer and tells a meaningful story in a glance. Visuals help you create brand recognition, highlight events, promote products and create a curated catalog of your business.

The kiss of death for any visual social media is poor-quality photos. You don’t want blurriness, undersaturation and low exposure to distract from the content of the photo. There are many ways you can go about the production of your social media photos, ranging from a professional photographer to a high-quality smartphone camera. The following tips will help you create the best photos and videos for your social media marketing campaigns:

Professional Photographer

If you have the funds for a professional photographer, hire one. Professional photographers have the artistic expertise and the camera equipment needed to produce outstanding photos. The photographer should at the very least have three different lenses, a tripod, a detachable flash and studio lights. You can generally hire a photographer for a project-based rate, rather than an hourly rate.

Make sure to check out online profiles when you shop around for a photographer. A portfolio gives you an idea of the photographer’s range; it reveals if he or she is a one-trick pony or if he or she can take high-quality photos in multiple genres with a variation in tone.

DIY Digital SLR

If you own a digital SLR, (more…)

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Jan 15, 2016

5 Simple things to remember for your marketing plan

marketing planA strong marketing department or a marketing consultant in whom you have confidence can relieve a lot of the stress of running a business. In this business we tend to get fancy with our concepts in order to feel like we’re bringing some new, innovative strategy to the table. As important as it is to understand the “customer experience” for example, or to maximize “sales enablement,” we can get distracted by the bells and whistles. The customer experience is the collection of steps people take to buy your stuff. Sales enablement means supporting your salespeople with the best processes, tools and training possible so they can do their thing.

Whether you’re a CEO of a Fortune 500, a growing company big enough to afford a marketing person or two, or a small business where you’re wearing the CEO, CMO and a billion other hats it all boils down to a few basic things. Here are five simple things to remember when you’re building or reviewing your marketing plan in 2016:

 

  1. Marketing is about failing forward. No one really knows what works 100% of the time. As market conditions change, tactics that used to work sometimes stop working. For those reasons and others you should think about the concept of failing forward. Learning from what doesn’t work can be just as important as learning from what does. Fear of failure paralyzes a lot of businesses. It’s why many small businesses stick to their tried and true print ads. Or why large corporations “steal” marketing departments from others to try to mimic their success. Look how well that worked for JC Penney. Develop a marketing mindset that expects results but welcomes the failures, particularly early on.
  2. Have confidence in your approach and stick with it. The problem with most business owners (and often shareholders) is that they don’t have the patience to give tactics time to work. This doesn’t mean that you should throw away money for years, but marketing takes time.  If you’re frustrated that something isn’t working, check yourself so that you’re not reacting out of impatience or fear. And if something does fail, analyze it carefully without beating yourself or anyone else up. Remember those failures contain nuggets of valuable information. Staying true to strategies but tweaking your tactics is one way to think about it. (Here’s more on strategy if you’re intrigued by that idea.)
  3. Don’t rely solely on the numbers. It can be very easy to live in the left side of your brain, especially if you do a lot of digital marketing because numbers are comfortable. Numbers are great but they don’t tell the whole story. You need to apply some creativity and have at least a couple of qualitative goals in your plan. Not only does this help keep your tactics evolving – which is important when things stop working – it keeps you moving forward. I teach a marketing course for PRSA, and I’ve seen many KPI-dependent communicators experience “aha” moments while we’re brainstorming on strategy and tactics. Numbers aren’t always right and they don’t always have to add up. Chew on that one for a while.
  4. Keep your eye on specific, targeted customers. I always talk about knowing your best customer and your plan needs to be focused on those people or businesses if you’re B2B. Just like a camera lens, a good focus might need some adjustment from time to time.  The more confident you are that you know your best customers, the more confidence you’ll have in your plan. And again, don’t just rely on numbers and demographics. Know them as people, with hopes, values, and the like.
  5. Finally, keep your marketing plan short and actionable. My plans must be less than five pages, and I shoot for two pages.  If you hire a marketing consultant and they bring you a plan that you cannot implement then they have failed. Your plan should have measurable goals with strategies and tactics that clearly align with those goals. The main points should be ones you can stick on the wall and look at often.

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Jan 7, 2016

New Year, New Marketing Plan in 15 Minutes a Day

marketing ebook“New Year, New Me” may be a tired old phrase, but “New Year, New Marketing Plan” is a great resolution to set your business off on the right foot for 2016. If you’ve never created a marketing plan before, or if your plan could use a refresh, my free eBook How to Write a Marketing Plan in 15 Minutes a Day makes it easy for you to come up with a plan that will truly benefit your business. As the title suggests, the exercises in the book, accompanied by insight, take just 15 minutes a day. In 1 month, you’ll have the foundation of a robust marketing strategy.

Beyond that, the book also delves into specific tactics (yes, there’s a difference between strategy and tactics – the book covers that, too!) you can use to grow your business this year. From identifying your best customer to evaluating your existing programs and culling what’s not working, to employing integrated marketing communications to increase marketing ROI, the eBook is full of wisdom that can make 2016 the year your marketing succeeds.

Find out more about the eBook or download the PDF and get started. As always, I’m here if you have questions, so comment away!

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Dec 17, 2015

James Bond and the transformative brand

From the smooth, gadget-fueled epics of Sean Connery to the tight blue swimshort-wearing Daniel Craig, the character and style of James Bond films have developed and evolved a great deal through the years. In fact, they often define an era of film-making as well as push the boundaries of filming capabilities. With so much being written about transformative brands, it seemed like we should continue the conversation we started earlier in the week about Mr. Bond.

Staying relevant to the brand, James Bond has had to transform with the times while maintaining a strong identity. With the arrival of Daniel Craig, the return to Aston Martin (after the disastrous Brosnan/BMW combination) was applauded. The Aston Marton brand represents more than just a vehicle to Bond’s identity. It is British, stylish and above all as smooth as Bond’s own chat-up lines.

On the flip side, a transformation from the cliché-ridden films to a more realistic portrayal helped James Bond adapt to modernity with much greater effect. This brand has grown and evolved along with its audience.  We can learn from this evolution as, ultimately, all brands have certain characteristics that are timeless and should be celebrated, whether it’s a borderline alcoholic spy with a license to kill or a distinctly British heritage.

In the latest Bond film, Director Sam Mendes wove together previous plot lines that ensured Spectre was not another film but part of something much greater. The audience is eager to see how Bond’s character will be further developed from a franchise so well known for its transformation. The evolution excites and scares them, especially as Spectre might be Craig’s last stint as 007. With every film there are discussions about how well it stays true to the Bond identity.

Just like Bond, brands need to understand the difference between heritage and baggage. Embrace what works, but ensure that the brand continues to be relevant, not yearning for former glory.

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Dec 17, 2015

Best Blogs of 2015

 For the last two blogs of the year,  we decided to create a roundup of our most popular blog posts of 2015. These are the posts that were most shared in social media either straight from the blog or from our syndication partner Business2Community.com. The following is a short description to the posts, and a jump for your convenience. Happy Holidays from Wax Marketing!

The IMC Report Card. Integrated Marketing Communications is a powerful way to boost your results quickly. Figure out how well you’re using IMC and set goals for 2016 with this simple tool.

IMC Campaign of the Month – Amazon Prime Day. Consumers berated the brand on social media and much of the post-Prime Day press suggested that the event was a dismal failure. But was it? Even though the social media world may have panned Amazon’s first Prime Day, at least three good marketing lessons can be learned:

5 Video Lessons from Big Brands. Most big brands fully embrace the concept and use video marketing to its fullest potential, and small businesses need to take notes. Here are some great reasons to have a budget for video in 2016.

Build Your Toolkit of Linked Tactics.  Every brand has a unique set of linked tactics. But the timing of those tactics, and the messaging strategies are still different for every brand. Here are ways to collect tactics that work specifically for you.

Why Some Marketers Hate PersonasPersonas are typically based on real data about customer demographics and behavior. The information used to build personas comes from surveys, online and social media analytics, past customers and plain observation. But not every marketer is a fan.

 

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Dec 14, 2015

5 Things we can learn about branding from James Bond

Why are Bond films so successful? First, you start with an incredible hero brand. Enter the dynamic James Bond — a man with a hypnotic and cheeky personality loved by both men and women. He owns the coolest gadgets and cars on the planet and saves the world from destruction and terror. What more is there to love?

Throw in a far-fetched espionage script with exotic cinematography set in stellar locations coupled with electrifying stunts. And finally, no Bond film is ever complete without a creepy assassin and an uptight British supporting cast. Energy, suspense and sheer entertainment — therein lies the secret sauce. (No, not the martini.)

For more than 50 years, this recipe of success has not changed. And why should it? The Bond brand has kept its core audience and gained new fans along the way. Producer Albert R. Broccoli figured out how to make a ton of gold bullion and keep people coming back 50 years later, despite repackaging the lead a number of times.

Here are five things Agent 007 can teach us about branding:

  1. Know your audience. Cater to them and give them everything they expect and love from your brand. Don’t mess with your brand. Think Coca-Cola — don’t mess with a good thing.
  2. Keep the message simple. Don’t convolute your product message. You can’t be everything to everyone, so keep it simple. Brands like Dove, Apple, KFC and Tiffany & Co. all stay closely aligned with their brand purpose and so should you.
  3. Stick to your core product design. We like the tux, we want a catchy theme song, and we relish the villains. Like Bond, stay with what works for you.
  4. Deliver an indelible brand experience. Make your customers feel and appreciate what you do at every touch point. Make them ambassadors of your brand. (Me writing this blog post is an excellent example!)
  5. Keep the brand fresh. Although you have to know what works, you also must ensure your brand is relevant for current audiences. You may be 50 years old, but you’ve got to keep it fresh. This is what we mean by a “transformative” brand. (Thank you Adele for singing Skyfall.)

(more…)

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Dec 8, 2015

K-Factor – the math behind viral marketing

business growthIt’s every marketer’s dream to create a viral sensation with a website, produce or service, generating an enormous amount of positive word-of-mouth and a slew of new customers. What most people don’t understand is that viral marketing is more math than art.  As a marketing person I’ve found myself using my math minor more and more (not to mention my IT background) as the business becomes more about numbers and less about copy. Here’s a quick primer on how marketers use K-factor to chase virality.

In marketing, K-factor is the formula by which we can calculate the growth rate of just about anything. Roughly, it goes:

k = i * c

…where k (K-Factor, or virality) equals the number of invites to a product, website, etc. (i) sent by customers resulting in conversion (c is the percentage rate of the invites’ conversion). (more…)

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Dec 3, 2015

Top 5 reasons some marketers hate personas

persona-exampleI’m a huge fan of using personas to help drive strategy and tactics, as you probably know from recent blog posts.  It always surprised me, however, that many traditional marketers (outside of the food and beverage industries) shy away from personas.  In most cases, it’s a lack of understanding and an old-fashioned perception. Here are the main misconceptions about creating and using personas I’ve run across with marketers

  • Personas don’t describe behavior, so they’re useless for targeting.  If you’re really trying to boost your marketing communications results, personas must contain a huge amount of information about behavior. If you’re involved in influencer marketing, you need to know where those influencers receive their information. If you’re selling glasses, you need to understand the common problems experienced by those in spectacles. Some (mainly traditional) marketers only think of their customers in terms of demographics, psychographics and possibly values. They don’t understand how to analyze for behavior and therefore are unable to add that information to their personas.
  • Digital marketing is all about the numbers therefore personas are irrelevant. On the flip side of this argument, we have a large number of digital marketers who insist that everything can be achieved if you analyze your quantitative results often enough. This is the “blast” approach, where you’re making changes to influence some kind of conversion but you really know nothing about the actual people buying your product or reading your content other than when they are more likely to read it and which message is most likely to convert. Arriving at this information is a failing forward process that takes a lot of time and testing. Personas move the starting line much further ahead and help you get to the results much more quickly.
  • Personas are too narrow and you’ll miss customers. This is the old-fashioned argument that we’ve been hearing for years. What happens if you choose the wrong personas? What if you’ve missed the mark on your target customers?  I would argue that it’s much easier to move the target than it is to blindly shoot thousands of arrows at once. I have chosen the wrong persona many times, but that exercise has helped me reach the right persona much faster than if I’m trying chase after a wide demographic. Plus, messaging to a huge target audience is impossible. It becomes so generic, it’s worthless. Better to aim and shoot your arrow at a few targets at a time, refining as you go. Have some confidence in your experience and intuition to create your first set of personas.
  • Personas are fine for B2C but won’t work for B2B.  Many of the persona conversations I’ve had with my B2B clients often downgrade into an endless argument about specifics like name, age, etc. This is often because B2B still relies heavily on a field sales force who like to regard every client experience as unique. Developing those human connections that are crucial to sales means that cookie cutter approaches (as personas are often viewed) wont’ work. It’s a massive reason why sales adoption of marketing content is so low, and why they still develop their own slide decks. Within a B2B environment, sales and marketing needs to understand that personas can help get them to that face-to-face encounter more quickly. They don’t supplant the human connection, they just help us get there faster.
  • You need to meet real customers, not hide behind fake personas. This is an argument I hear often, surprisingly from many content marketers. The problem is, you can’t meet all your real customers. And the ones you CAN meet might not be enough of a sample to derive the type of behavioral information you need to drive strategy. I personally hate focus groups because I believe people are influenced within the group and are not always telling their honest opinion. I feel the same way about real customers except in one case – when they’re mad. When customers are angry, you get the best information possible. More on that later.

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Nov 30, 2015

5 Ways to Make Your Business More Mobile Friendly

Depositphotos_31274533_s-2015As a business owner, you are always on the lookout for ways to attract more customers. If you have “become more mobile friendly” on your to do list, you are wise; Annalect notes that the smartphone-loving millennials are more likely to expect the places they shop to have a mobile-friendly website or app. With this in mind, the following tips can help your business operations to mesh with mobile technology:

1. Incorporate Responsive Design

It’s imperative to have a business website that is easy to access on a wide variety of devices. The responsive design method involves using flexible layouts and images and will let the site determine which screen size the potential shopper is working with, and then alter the layout according to this information. Thanks to responsive design, website developers can make a site that customers can view on smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops, instead of creating a separate mobile-friendly website.

2. Have a Solid Social Media Presence

While some of your customers will learn about you solely from your business website, don’t underestimate the power of social media. Post your various social media links on your most important social media outlet and post regularly to keep your content fresh and the audience engaged. A great example of a company that handles social media very adeptly is LifeLock; on its Twitter account, LifeLock regularly tweets stories pertaining to current issues that relate to identity theft. For example, a recent tweet was about new microchip credit and debit cards and how they relate to identity theft. The company’s Twitter page is clearly well-managed and the numerous tweets encourage customer engagement.

3. Make Sure Site Contains Easy to Use Buttons

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Nov 19, 2015

The rise of the dogfluencer, our IMC campaign of the month

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 3.42.11 PMWhen you think of a brand ambassador campaign, you probably think of either a) a Klout (or similar) perk that may garner no substantial reviews in return for the product or b) a disparate smattering of blog posts that become difficult to track and measure, and may have little actual influence apart from inbound links.

That’s because while the concept of brand ambassador is still popular and relevant, determining ROI can be hard. Measurement is a cornerstone of IMC. How do you truly measure the reach of a brand ambassador campaign apart from determining which influencers send the most traffic? Things become a lot easier, and a lot more powerful, when you add additional channels like social to the mix.

That’s why the #DysonDogs campaign is  our IMC Campaign of the Month.

#DysonDogs, on the surface, may seem like any other brand ambassador concept. They’ve enlisted influential dogs – i.e. dogs with significant following on blogs, video, social media, etc. – to talk about their vacuums. Instead of leaving it up to the influencers (let’s call them “dogfluencers,” because why not?) to spread the word through their own networks of readers, followers and friends, Dyson gave them a good outlet to voice their opinions about the product – the #DysonDog hashtag campaign.

#DysonDog exists wherever hashtags work. A quick search of Twitter and Instagram, the obvious networks for the job, shows a plethora of pups posing with their new Dyson vacuums, along with grateful and pretty glowing reviews from their owners. Beyond dogfluencers, Dyson also capitalized on the #DysonDog hashtag to let people tag photos of their dogs with the vacuum’s grooming tool at a “grooming parlor” set up at special events, like the Crufts Dog Show, one of the largest in the world. You may have noticed our IMC Campaign of the Month feature often involves live events. They really work, and yet are so often overlooked by brands in the digital era where everything is expected to be served up on a screen.

Along with the outreach to ambassadors and dogfluencers, Dyson created an easy-to-navigate, highly functional landing page for their vacuums to showcase the products and their effectiveness on dog hair. The landing page prominently features video, a cute advertisement that shows the vacuum handling the toughest messes dog owners encounter. Any time video ads are incorporated in a marketing campaign, their signal can be boosted beyond their initial reach on television, YouTube or anywhere else they may be displayed. People really like to see products in action, and Dyson has done this – as well as tug at the heartstrings of dog lovers who can relate to the circumstances in the video. All in few effective seconds that won’t lose anybody’s attention.

The end result of this tour de force of brand ambassador, social, event marketing and video advertising is a campaign that took on a life of its own as proud pet owners tagged #DysonDogs even when not compensated to do so in any way. Dog owners are part of a large culture online, and making your brand at home with that culture can send your signal viral. Unplanned messages like those in the Dyson campaign are truly the holy grail of IMC.

By appealing to dog owners in places like dog shows and blogs or Twitter accounts with significant audiences, Dyson created something other dog owners wanted to join. Their vacuums have always had a sexy appeal; they’re sort of the equivalent of Apple’s electronics, only in the realm of picking up dirt and dander. Now vacuums like the V6 Absolute  are becoming increasingly well known as a solution to common cleaning problems for pet owners, but desirable for more than just their function. The company has managed to brand Dyson Dogs as true dogfluencers, so the everyday dog owner wants to join the #DysonDog movement, too.

Disclaimer: My dog, Bart the Dumpster Dog, is a dogfluencer sponsored by Dyson. Follow him on Twitter.

Bart the Dumpster Dog

Bart the Dumpster Dog

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