While data-driven insights undeniably play a crucial role in marketing and communications, there are times when being led by data without considering its context and potential biases can lead to flawed decision-making. We explore when to listen to your gut over the numbers and how embracing your instincts can fuel innovation and success.Continue reading
By Chance Shay —Director of B2B and Infrastructure Development
Marketing communications in silos doesn’t work. If your PR efforts aren’t aligned with your content marketing and your digital marketing is on a different frequency, you’re setting yourself up for a not-so-fun conversation with your CMO. In a time when the average attention span is eight seconds and where humans are producing the same amount of data in two days as was generated in all of human existence leading up to 2003, it’s easy to see why each individual marcomm channel is less effective in isolation.
But with a challenge comes an opportunity. By syncing up all of their efforts, marketers are able to make the overall impact of marcomm efforts far greater than their individual sums. This is integrated marketing.
Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is the only marketing strategy that is effective in 2017. It optimizes the communication of a consistent message from a brand to stakeholders by integrating communication channels and harnessing the benefits of each channel, which amplifies their impact beyond what they could achieve individually.
The entertainment industry has done this for years. At Comic Con, you’ll see the same message about a new movie being promoted on advertisements (paid), conveyed during interviews and editorial stories (earned), used on social media (shared) and said during the panel discussion with the movie’s stars (owned).
B2B brands have to take this same approach, but with a few key changes. To help, we’ve put together a foolproof, five-step guide to help any B2B brand nail its integrated marketing plan.
1) Define the business objective
An obvious first step, but it’s essential that the integrated marketing flow from the brand’s overall business objective. Whether stealing market share or creating a new category, the brand’s big picture goal will drive everything from strategy to KPIs and execution.
2) Know thy audience
More than just understanding the type of business that’s a good fit for your service or product (i.e. a SMB in cleantech with $10-25 million in revenue), a brand must have a rich, granular picture of who is most likely to purchase their product and why. The “why” is important for establishing and framing the unique selling proposition for any good or service, but the “who” is the most important for structuring your IMC plan. Is your customer likely to be innovative or more risk adverse? What’s important to your customer in how they operate their business and the culture they create internally? Is a top tier trade outlet or a general news daily with huge name cachet more influential to them? For example, if the decision makers for your prospective customers are millennials, you’ll want to know they are 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites than older generations. That impacts strategy in a meaningful way, so get as holistic a view of your audience(s) as possible.
3) Set SMART communications goals that support the business objective
Like with most sound strategies, for IMC planning you must start with the end goal and work backward to develop a plan for how to get there. What is it – in a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time dimensioned way – that you’re wanting the plan to achieve. Is it to drive a 20 percent increase in free trial sign-ups? Is it to grow website traffic for key landing pages by 30 percent? At the end of the day, for B2B brands it all boils down to driving revenue. The marcomm component is meant to move new business prospects down the marketing funnel from being brand aware to being brand loyal. Setting SMART goals and KPIs for your integrated efforts will help ensure you’re on the right track.
4) Select your weapons of choice
Not all platforms and mediums are right for every brand. In some industries, trade shows have a higher demonstrated ROI than weekly vlogs on YouTube. For others, the best way to reach decision makers is on LinkedIn and not through content marketing. The first question to ask when determining where to focus marcomm resources is, “Where are my customers spending their time and how are they influenced?” Almost as important is asking yourself, “What channels allow me to showcase my brand’s strengths?” If your brand offers something innovative but a bit dense and niche, then Instagram as a platform would be challenging to generate traction. Instead, speaking opportunities at conferences where you (or your CMO) have more time to explain nuances would be more impactful.
Remember, you have all the PESO (paid, earned, shared, and owned) channels at your disposal.
For Paid, consider if your audience is actively looking for your solution or if you have to be proactive in helping them realize they need your product or service. When thinking of earned coverage, would contributed by-lined articles support your communications goals or would an analyst evaluation be better? On Shared channels, selecting the platform must flow from determining the strategy for how social media will help reach the communications goal – whether by creating a community, showcasing thought leadership, engaging in the digital conversations prospective customers are having or otherwise.
Part of how IMC for B2B brands is different than for consumer brands is how owned content is leveraged. Owned content should be valuable to your customers and your customers’ customers. Your customers want to know you “get them,” but they also appreciate content that reinforces their value. The ROI is clear when you consider that B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month. If your content is targeted, that increase in traffic means an increase in leads. Of course, that’s just one data set, but wouldn’t you like 300% of the traffic you’re getting now?
5) Use an umbrella to make it rain
Traditionally, an umbrella blocks the rain from hitting you. But for B2B brands, you need an umbrella that covers all of your IMC to bring in new business and make it rain. The umbrella, of course, is an overarching theme or idea that ties all of your marcomm efforts together. It could be owning a position or using some fun, quirky euphemism to convey the unique selling proposition of your product or reinforce a brand identity. This doesn’t mean that all efforts across all platforms need to look exactly the same. In fact, solid marcomm utilizes the most impactful features of each platform, but the umbrella campaign theme or concept keeps everything cohesive and consistent. When deciding an umbrella theme, think big picture about how it would translate across each of your decided platforms and whether it syncs with your strategy for how you intend to utilize each channel.
With audiences diversifying and a fragmented media landscape, there are no silver bullets for achieving communications goals. To be effective in moving the bottom line needle, communications – from advertising to PR, from social media to content marketing – need to be intentional in both strategy and timing. Check out a few ideas here, then follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to crushing the IMC plan and impressing your CMO.
By: Kara Dement
In more ways than one, social media is at the heart of how most organizations communicate with their audiences.
‘Heart’ is a good metaphor since it’s both central to the communications strategy and the source of how the organization looks and feels—and of course the ‘look and feel’ is the definition of a brand. So how do you make sure your organization’s look and feel are accurately and consistently portrayed through social media? Here are five expert tips to keep your social media strategy on the brand:
Establish and maintain a consistent voice
Buffer defines voice as, “your brand personality described in an adjective. For instance, brands can be lively, positive, cynical, or professional.” If you want people to listen, you need to inject some personality. Know your brand’s voice and ensure it’s aligned with your company culture and your target audience. Then make sure you use the same voice across all platforms so that you don’t come across as a split personality.
Choose the right platforms
Understanding each platform’s audience can help you identify what social media platforms are the right choice, and then you can use your brand voice to share things that are relevant to that target audience. Snapchat users on average are between the ages of 18-34 according to Omnicore Agency, so using Snapchat to discuss retirement planning probably won’t work. Also, not all voices work across all platforms. If your brand voice doesn’t have a playful side, you should either look into developing one or steer clear of Snapchat altogether.
Select appropriate visuals
When it comes to describing your brand, a picture is worth a thousand words. So select imagery carefully and make sure it is consistent with and helps augment the story your voice is telling. Speaking of consistency, it’s also important to maintain visual consistency across all social media platforms. Having the same colors, logos, etc. is a given, but even your photography, video and shared stories should all align with your brand’s personality.
Nobody wants to have a conversation with themselves, plus that goes against the whole point of “social” media. For a brand to have a credible personality, it needs to be responsive on social media, or people will assume no one at your organization is listening. Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert, found that 42% of consumers expect a 60-minute response time, so being engaged with the audience’s comments, questions and concerns is critical to meeting your audience’s expectations. It’s also a great way to build trust and rapport so when you want your customers to engage with you, they’ll be ready and willing.
Offer relevant and killer content
At (W)right On, we go by the 80/20 rule. Meaning, 80% of content should be “check this out”, so long as it relates to the brand, and 20% should be “check us out”. Talking about yourself all the time is a turnoff, and not the kind of personality that brands want to be perceived as having. If you stick to the 80/20 rule, it will help prevent the pitfalls of constant monologue and will help develop your brand’s personality by giving it depth beyond your own organization.
Need help developing your brand’s voice and personality on social media? Call or email our team of social media pros to help! You can reach us at (858) 755-5411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kat Beaulieu—HR Communications Strategist
There is a too common perception among donor-reliant nonprofits that targeting Millennials with fundraising efforts is a waste of time and resources. If the big donations tend to come from the bequests and corporations associated with older audiences, why put effort into trying to reach Millennials?
Engaging Millennials to support your nonprofit organization can have far-reaching benefits that positively impact your bottom line.
Here are four crucial reasons to reach out to them.
Millennials are now the nation’s largest living generation.
That alone should be enough incentive. What business plan ignores the largest living demographic? A short-sighted one, that’s what. Through their sheer numbers, Millennials can make social media posts go viral, providing a tremendous awareness boost to charitable giving campaigns. Just look at the reach of initiatives like #GivingTuesday. And as a direct result of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which took social media by storm, scientists discovered a new ALS gene.
Because there are so many of them, Millennials are in tough competition for jobs.
Those who want to get ahead understand the value of having volunteer experiences on their resumes. Talented and eager Millennials will work for your organization for free on labor intensive but meaningful activities like events, emails, and social media. This can save your organization time and money. Pair your Millennial volunteer with an experienced individual who will share all the intricacies and nuances of the role. Imagine the awesome results when your paid Volunteer Coordinator explains the complexity of volunteer scheduling and the Millennial researches and implements the latest scheduling software, shaving 10-hours off the Coordinator’s weekly workload.
Millennials want to be part of your boards–they just don’t know they’re invited.
Board appointments are another powerful reference Millennials would love to have on their resumes. Imagine the impact of replacing some of your retiree board members with Millennials. Instead of having people who have nothing to prove, you’d have people who have everything to prove. Again, you need to set them up for success. They’re new at this, so setting clear goals and expectations is key, and assigning a mentor is even better. But the time and cost-saving results of having an enthusiastic Millennial heading up or assisting on a board project can be remarkable.
For Millennials, there is a connection between volunteering and donation amounts.
In fact, by a margin of more than two-to-one, Millennials who volunteer for nonprofits are more likely to make donations. Also, Millennials who form long-term volunteer relationships tend to give larger gifts and encourage friends and family to give and volunteer as well. This means there’s an exponential effect to engaging Millennials in volunteer work. Not only will the volunteer work likely lead to donations, but the Millennials will pull their friends and family in too.
These are four good reasons why your nonprofit should be engaging Millennials, but perhaps the most powerful one is that you’ll be benefitting now while building a relationship with future bequestors and corporate decision-makers.
Now that you know the ‘why’ allow us to help you with the ‘how’ to attract and engage Millennials to your nonprofit organization. Get in touch and let’s get the conversation started!
By Aisha Belagam
Fashion bloggers jet setting to tropical destinations wearing the trendiest floral prints. Genetically blessed Instagram influencers promoting weight loss pills after an early morning session at Equinox. From selfies to flat-lays, these are the types of personalities and formats that typically come to mind when you hear the term ‘influencer’. But these personalities won’t do much for your B2B marketing strategy.
As with B2C, B2B influencer marketing is about connecting with influential people in your community and leveraging them to build trust and credibility, driving your message. In this digital age, where social media is becoming a regular part of everyone’s lives, influencer marketing is becoming a vital part of the communications strategy. And yes, you can and should use it for B2B companies. The C-Suite is engaged on social media and 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions. Here are three tips to consider when developing your B2B influencer marketing strategy:
1. Where are they and who do they look to?
Who and what influences your target audience? Don’t get deflected by focusing on who has the most followers. A million followers do not necessarily equate to a huge influence on your target audience. This isn’t a popularity contest. Plus, upcoming thought leaders are more likely to have the capacity to pay attention to your brand. Focus on influencers who receive a large amount of engagement on topics relevant to your vertical. These are the thought leaders you’re looking for. The analysts, industry experts, authors, speakers, and media folk who are actively involved in industry discussions, leading the way with their expert insight and educated opinions. You’ll find most of them on LinkedIn and Twitter.
2. Look within
Who understands your brand better than your team? No one. That’s why you should leverage the CEO, employees, and clients as part of your strategy.
Employee advocacy is a powerful thing. Encourage your employees to promote your brand, whether it’s through social posts and blogs, at speaking opportunities, or by getting involved at industry events. Empower those with the most knowledge, the ones who work on your brand daily, to become the thought leaders opining and engaging, increasing your brand’s visibility.
C-level executives are an integral way for B2B brands to make a personal connection. They are the thought leaders bringing the brand to life. Using C-level executives is a key way to build relationships with analysts and the media, increasing coverage and establishing credibility.
Share results. Success stories from your customers can be packaged into consumable case studies, infographics, and testimonials. It’s great to have your team promoting your brand, but there is an obvious bias. Your customers, on the other hand, don’t have the same stake in your company and their experiences add a layer of authenticity.
3. Don’t just promote your own agenda
Build a real relationship with your influencers so they are engaged before you need them. It’s a two-way street. Think about how you can help them while promoting your brand. Reference them as experts, quote them in your blog posts, give them access to your products or services, engage with their social content, and stay top of mind. When the time comes, they will be more familiar with you and more likely to go the extra mile to help your brand.
Influencers can help a B2B brand through numerous channels. Think about your goals and identify what your brand needs. Influencers can do everything from collaborating on social content to hosting a webinar, from being an ambassador at your tradeshow to quoting you in their latest interview.
As interest in traditional forms of advertising plummets, influencer marketing is becoming a more important part of the integrated strategy. Collaborating with influencers in the ways outlined above can help your brand become more influential in itself.
Want to learn how your brand can leverage influencer marketing? Drop us a line. With proven influencer marketing results with national brands in both the B2B and B2C sector, we can work with you to develop and implement an integrated strategy that brings your brand targeted, measurable results.
By Julie Wright—President and Founder
Last month I attended the Ragan PR Daily PR measurement conference in Miami. The two-day event was crammed with hot tips and excellent case studies on PR measurement–how to design measurable campaigns, incorporate analytics, conduct surveys and develop metrics that matter.
It is increasingly clear to anyone in the public relations profession that PR measurement is something our industry needs to embrace. With marketing budgets and margins under constant pressure, companies are looking to optimize their investments across paid, earned, shared and owned strategies. Not only does PR need to stack up against highly measurable digital strategies, it also needs to take digital paid, shared and owned tactics under its wing to produce more integrated, measurable campaigns.
After two full days of discussion in Miami, I was even more convinced of these truths and returned to San Diego fired up to confront some of the biggest whoppers about PR measurement head on. So here are my top five falsehoods. I’d love to hear your take on this list and maybe together we can all help move the PR field in the right direction.
LIE #1: PR just isn’t measurable.
If you are in PR and truly believe this, you’re toast. Sure, PR is not as easy to measure as digital marketing, but it is far from impossible to measure!
It requires a little more legwork and setting aside some campaign resources to do it well. But, keep in mind, the gold standard for PR excellence has always started with research and ended with evaluation—a.k.a. measurement.
- Read “Public Relations Research for Planning and Evaluation” by Walter K. Lindenmann on the Institute for Public Relations’ website.
- Check out the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation in Communications and their Integrated Evaluation Framework. AMEC has developed an interactive online tool that walks you through each step in the PR planning and evaluation process. The tool is designed to help support campaign evaluation; however, you can just as easily use it to guide campaign development to ensure you’re creating measurable campaigns from the start.
- Read how others have designed measurable campaigns. AMEC has an annual awards program and shares case studies about the winning campaigns.
- Check out the measurement resources provided by the Public Relations Society of America. It has collected all the measurement resources and links you could wish for in one place.
LIE #2: Our campaign goal is to raise awareness.
This is also a lie. As Joseph Ogden, BYU public relations professor, threw down in Miami, “If anyone tells you their only goal is awareness, they’re lying.” No one wants their PR campaign to simply raise awareness. They want their campaign to drive people to take some measurable behavior—to buy a product, drink less soda, visit a destination, attend an event, enroll in a course, submit their email, visit the website, vote, download the white paper or make a donation.
It’s easier if you start by developing an objective that clearly states the behavior you want your stakeholders to take, by when and how often. Once you know your behavioral objective, work backwards and think about your informational objective–the message or knowledge your stakeholders need to receive and internalize—and the motivational objective—the emotional connection they need to make—to drive them to take the desired behavior.
Once you’ve set your intention from awareness through motivation and behavior, you can start to research your stakeholders to find out what their level of awareness and knowledge is and what motivates them so you can develop your strategy.
LIE #3: PR people aren’t numbers people.
That’s B.S. Don’t be boxed in by this lie. Good PR people are good storytellers, and one of the most powerful storytelling elements available to you in 2017 is data. Don’t shy away from it.
IBM Digital Experience Manager Brandi Boatner put it another way during the Miami conference: “Congrats, you’re all data scientists.”
Boatner pointed out the many data streams at our disposal today. There are internal sources that are coming from your advertising, website and internal processes. Analyze them as well as external streams you can study such as news trends, social media trends and competitive intelligence.
Google’s Louis Gray pointed conference attendees to Google Trends, a site where you can see in real-time what the world or the U.S.A. is searching, what news stories are trending and find interesting reports on search behaviors.
If you’d like to dig deeper into your audience’s awareness, beliefs or behaviors, check out Google Survey. Use this tool to cost-effectively add your questions to consumer surveys pushed out to targeted demographic groups via a network of publishers.
Or if you have data of your own that you’d like to put into an impressive visualization, Gray pointed to Google Public, a data visualization tool. And don’t forget plain old Microsoft Excel. It will recommend the optimal charts and graphs for you based on your spreadsheet data.
It’s a data-rich world. Your company and clients are collecting data all the time. Extract that data to find amazing trends or to dispute conventional wisdom. Maybe there’s a surprising correlation between weather patterns and shopping behaviors, or day of the week and donations. The point is, you won’t know if you don’t look. And you won’t look if you think it’s outside of your skillset.
So, call a meeting with your company’s data guru and start spit balling with your new best friends in I.T.
LIE #4: More data is the answer.
It’s not about metrics. It’s about insights. And it’s not about the quantity of data points. It’s about their relevance to your goal.
Over a third of social marketers reported recently that they struggle to “distill data into insights and actions.” And it’s no wonder. Facebook and Google Analytics are just two sources that can generate a massive amount of data on your target audiences’ behavior.
Going back to your informational and behavioral objectives, it’s important to pinpoint a handful of key performance indicators to show that your message is reaching your target audience and that they are taking the behaviors that your client or boss really cares about.
You don’t need to track them all. You just need to focus on the metrics that matter and then go beyond tracking to analysis.
The old saying applies here: you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
It is not a failure to set measurable objectives and then fall short of them.
The failure is in not understanding why you didn’t meet your objectives. Were they not SMART enough–specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time dimensioned? Was your strategy missing an element? Was your target getting the information but not motivated sufficiently or too inconvenienced to take action?
If you’ve set measurable goals, you are forced to ask yourself these questions and better understand your successes and challenges, which will make you better.
The only real failure that should scare you is the failure to even try. Or as another old saying goes, no one plans to fail, they just fail to plan.