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May

23

2017

15 Fashion Brands You Should Follow on Instagram for Marketing Inspiration

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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No other B2C industry has thrived on Instagram quite like the fashion industry.

Between their carefully curated photos, expertly targeted ads, and decisive adoption of Instagram Stories, fashion and beauty brands have become masters of consumer engagement on the visual content platform. And brands from any industry could learn a thing or two from these inspirational feeds. 

Back in 2015, business intelligence firm L2 found that fashion and beauty brands were growing their community size and engagement rates on Instagram at a rapid rate. 


Source:
Digiday

The L2 report also found that among fashion and beauty brands, Instagram had firmly become the social media platform of choice — far outranking Facebook and Twitter.


Source:
L2

In 2017, the industry’s love affair with Instagram isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Digiday recently checked in with a number of fashion and beauty social media insiders at SXSW’s Decoded Fashion and Create & Cultivate events, confirming that Instagram remains a top priority in their digital marketing strategies.

“Instagram is always a priority for us,” Rosi Sanchez, a social media strategist at Fossil, told Digiday. “We have more reach and a larger new follower group there, so it leads to more conversions. Until we get to 1.5 million or 2 million followers, it’s going to be our number one priority.”

Fossil isn’t alone. Social media strategists from more established brands like L’Oréal USA, Shopbop, and Murad also indicated that Instagram was their top social media priority for the foreseeable future.

Brands from any industry looking to level up their visual storytelling chops should keep a close eye on fashion brands for inspiration. To help get you started, we’ve compiled a list of 15 fashion accounts — both big and small — who are crushing the Instagram game. Take a look below, and start planning your next big Instagram push. For a deeper dive on how to build a presence on Instagram, check out our complete guide to Instagram marketing

15 Fashion Brands to Follow on Instagram

1) Everlane @everlane

While Everlane’s account has no shortage of beautiful product imagery, they also feature photos of their customers wearing Everlane clothes, inspiring travel photography, and tips on food and art destinations in different cities around the world. 

  
 

2) Nike @nike

The behemoth athletic brand has enthusiastically embraced video content, and can be regularly found sharing clips with their impressive 7.1 million follows on Instagram. Their feed features a motivational mix of professional athletes and regular, everyday fitness enthusiasts. 

  
 

3) Teva @teva

Teva’s Instagram feed is perfect proof that it’s possible to give your brand a modern update without losing the spirit of what made you successful in the first place. Their feed includes customer-generated photos of their sandals out in the wild, as well as sleek product shots highlighting their new styles. 

  
 

4) Zara @zara

Zara has made a name for itself by emulating the marketing of more expensive, luxury brands, and their Instagram feed is no exception. Their account looks like a high-fashion magazine, with professional editorial shots of their men’s and women’s styles.

  
 

5) Fossil @fossil

If you like photos of neatly organized items, then Fossil’s Instagram is definitely for you. The accessories brand curates an impressive feed of food, fashion, and celebrity influencers like Kristen Bell. 

  
 

6) Kate Spade @katespadeny

Despite being a well-established label, Kate Spade’s Instagram has a distinct personal touch that sets it apart from similar brands. Their social media manager shares daily outfit pictures, snaps from around New York, and behind-the-scenes shots of the design process at the Kate Spade studio.

  
 

7) Fjällräven @fjallravenofficial

The Instagram feed for Swedish outdoor apparel brand Fjällräven is less about their products, and more about the adventurous spirit that has defined the company for almost 60 years. 

  
 

8) Madewell @madewell

Apparel brand Madewell is known for their relaxed, classic styles, and their Instagram clearly reflects this aesthetic. With bright, sunny images of their latest products and collaborations with brands like Vans, their feed is a fashion lover’s delight. 

  
 

9) The Row @therow

Another account that focuses less on their products and more on visual inspiration, The Row features vintage photos of art, architecture, and fashion — only occasionally sharing images of their actual products. 

  
 

10) Asos @asos

British online fashion and beauty retailer Asos keeps their feed updated regularly with colorful and bold product images and editorial snaps from their latest campaigns. 

  
 

11) Aerie @aerie

Scrolling through Aerie’s Instagram feed is like taking a tropical beach getaway. The lingerie and bathing suit brand has been applauded for their commitment to unretouched photos in their print ads, and they continue the effort on their Instagram account by celebrating a diverse range of women and body-positive messages. 

  
 

12) Eileen Fisher @eileenfisherny

Eileen Fisher keeps the emphasis on their quality materials and environmentally friendly production processes Instagram presence. By featuring images of women from all walks of life, they prove that style is truly ageless. 

  
 

13) Anthropologie @anthropologie

With colorful close-ups of their brightly patterned styles, Anthropologie’s feed is a visual smorgasbord of inspiration. We especially love the travel shots featuring their clothes around the world. 

  
 

14) Girlfriend Collective @girlfriendcollective

This leggings startup has yet to even officially launch a full collection of clothing, but they already boast an impressive 60.2k followers on Instagram. Thanks to a free leggings promotion they advertised earlier this year on Instagram and Facebook, the brand has enjoyed explosive social media growth. Their feed keeps customers engaged with stunning product photography of their minimal styles, and screencaps from inspirational movies.

  
 

15) J.Crew @jcrew

J.Crew has mastered the art of follower engagement on Instagram. With daily-updated Stories and regular contests to select new styles for clothes and accessories, their vibrant feed keeps customers inspired and interested.

  
 

What fashion brands do you follow on Instagram? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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May

17

2017

How to Leverage Social Intent Data in Your Next Nurturing Campaign

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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As marketers, capturing buyer attention is everything. Without it, we’re just throwing more content, emails, ads, and offers into the abyss. Yet, there has never been a harder time to earn buyer attention.

Thanks to advances in technology and the abundance of information on the internet, today’s buyers have a lot more knowledge and power. They can learn about our companies and products through many channels — online and offline.

Meanwhile, technology has made it much easier for marketers to create more content, push ads, and send emails, — and we’re doing it more, more and more.

The convergence of these two forces has resulted in diminishing returns for marketers. Our prospects are overwhelmed by the amount of content they’re exposed to, and they are tuning us out.

Consider that the average office worker receives 121 emails a day. With that staggering number in mind, it’s not surprising that people are unsubscribing from emails at higher rates. Research shows that the number one reason users unsubscribe from email lists is because they get too many emails in general, not necessarily because they don’t like the content.

At Socedo, our nurture emails get a 1% CTR on average. A 2% CTR is now considered “good”.

At this point, simply turning up the volume doesn’t work anymore. As marketers, we need make sure that our engagement is more targeted and valuable.

To get there, we need to listen to our customers before we act.

Instead of pushing what we “think” customers want, we should wait for them to tell us what they care about. Instead of starting a campaign because a senior leader thinks it’s a good idea, we can use customer data to inform the campaign strategy, content and execution.

What is Intent-Based Marketing?  

Intent-based marketing is a methodology of listening to signals that show a prospect is researching a specific topic or problem area so you can send the right message at the right time.

It’s the kind of marketing that aims to listen, learn, and then engage. For example, an intent-based email would be sent to a prospect as soon as they show interest in a relevant topic, and the email would reference the prospect’s interest and provide relevant content.

While intent-based marketing has been around for awhile now, marketers have traditionally just focused on buying intent.

But intent-based marketing is not just about serving the right ad or message to trigger a purchase. It’s about responding to people’s intentions in the right way, wherever they are in the buying journey. It is this level of personalization and relevant engagement that will make people choose your brand versus your competitors.

You can start this process by gathering intent data from the broader web.

What is Intent Data?

Intent data is generated from actions that tells you what a potential buyer is interested in.

It includes internal data (collected from engagement with your owned digital properties, such as website clicks, email opens, downloaded offers, etc.) and external data (collected from activities outside of your owned digital properties, such as social media platforms, user reviews, competitor mentions).

At this point, marketing automation platforms have enabled us to nurture leads, and personalize our emails, website content and ads based on the data we’ve collected. This is a great start, but it’s not enough.

If the only actions you’re tracking are email clicks, webpage visits and other engagements with your company, you are only tracking leads that are “in-market”, or actively in the buying process. In reality, the majority of the B2B buying cycle is over by the time a buyer lands on your website. According to Corporate Executive Board, prospects have made 60% of their buying decision before talking to a sales rep.

The buyer journey starts when someone starts to do research on the web to increase their understanding of a problem they want to solve. This is known as the Discover stage within the buying journey.

According to Forrester’s Business Technographics Survey in 2016, buyers use 15 vehicles during the Discover stage. More than half of these vehicles are online, and thus represent sources of digital insight.

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Source: Lenovo’s presentation on Intent-Based Marketing at B2B Marketing Exchange 2017

Social Media-Based Intent Data

Social media is a good place to start because there is a wealth of intent data that exists within social media platforms and much of that data is public.

55% of B2B buyers search for information on social media and 84% of CEOs and VPs use social media to make purchasing decisions.

Social intent data includes any action potential leads take on social media. Today, many people go to social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn to learn about and discuss news and business issues in our industry. Some of us go on Quora to get perspectives on how we might tackle certain business challenges, or go on Meetup.com to find in-person events where we can gain a broader view of our industry.

On Twitter, we can identify potential buyers based on their tweets and following relations. On LinkedIn, we could find potential buyers by looking at people’s group affiliations (i.e., specific product user groups), the influencers they are following, the articles they are sharing and commenting on. On Quora, we could do the same by looking at who is asking questions related to our product category. On Meetup.com, we could see people’s profiles and their meetup attendance history.

At this point, there are data providers that can tell you which contacts or prospects in your marketing automation database are showing interest in your space, based on keywords present in social media conversations.

With contact/lead level intent data from social media, you can start to segment your leads, use this data to trigger personalized emails in real-time, and to score your leads.  

How to Leverage Intent Data from Social Media

1) Start With Social Keyword Research

Finding the right keywords to use to target and trigger your marketing campaigns requires you to look at keyword research a little differently. You’re not looking for the keywords leads are using to find your website, because that’s only a small percent of their overall activity.

Instead, you want to know:

  • Which influencers your leads follow
  • What topics your leads research most
  • The events, news or keywords your leads care most about
  • Which competitors they’re following

Other than your own social accounts, who else do your leads follow? This information will give you a mix of obvious influencers in your industry, but it will also reveal connections that you may not have realized existed.

2) Look for Keywords and Hashtags Mentioned

This is another important set of social intent data that will tell you what topics your leads are researching — even if they aren’t actively performing the research directly on your site.

Social intent data means you aren’t limited to the keywords strictly associated with search research. Event hashtags, industry topics or other keywords could all indicate a good fit and need for your product or service — especially from your more passive leads who aren’t actively searching Google.

3) Identify Social Activity With the Greatest Opportunity

Unlike traditional lead scoring, where your leads’ actions are limited by the amount of content you create and promote, tracking keywords and social actions in this way could give you hundreds or even thousands of results. You can track as many keywords as you want, but you don’t want to create a campaign around every one. You want to prioritize the keywords where you see the most opportunity.

There are two main factors you should use to evaluate the opportunity of potential keywords:

  1. Volume: How many users are engaging with each hashtag or keyword in a set timeframe?
  2. Lead Engagement: How much do leads who take that social action engage with your company?

The first point is straightforward. The second point requires you to compare your social keywords with the lead scoring you already perform. If leads using a particular keyword also tend to visit your website, engage with your emails and download your offers, then other leads using that keyword are likely people you want to market to.

On the other hand, if a keyword has been used by a lot of leads in your system, but that’s the only thing these leads are doing and they don’t have a high lead score, you should not spend time crafting content on that topic.

Here is a sample report you can run to compare the minimum lead score of the different keywords identified in step 1. By comparing the keyword research above with your existing lead scoring you can gain an even better idea of which social activities indicate qualified leads. Eventually, you can incorporate social actions into your lead scoring model alongside email clicks and form fills, to keep your pipeline full with the most qualified leads.

This sample report has dummy data:

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Next, look at how many leads are using a specific keyword or social activity to know whether or not you should focus on it. We’ll talk about measuring and improving this list in the last step, but this data will give you a good place to start.

3) Conduct a Content Audit and Start Planning

When you perform research on social keywords, you may learn things you expect, i.e., your audience is engaging with a social keyword you’re already creating content around. You may also find a few surprising keyword opportunities that you weren’t focusing on at all. The least surprising keywords are where you want to start.

Before you begin creating campaigns, you need to determine what content you’ll use to educate and nurture the leads taking these specific social actions. This process begins by auditing the content you already have.

For each potential keyword, ask:

  • Do I already have content on this topic?
  • How does that content perform? Does it need to be rewritten or revised?
  • What’s my specific message or call to action for people who are interested in this topic?
  • What new content do I need to develop for this audience?

At the end of this process, you should have a clear idea of the buyer personas you’re targeting for each keyword and the message you want to send to properly nurture them. Your keywords will end up in one of three buckets:

  • Keywords you’ve actively targeted and rank for. These have always been your main SEO focus. You have good quality content on the topic and know the best way to target the audience.
  • Keywords you create content for but haven’t made a priority. Before this research, you may have known there were opportunities here but didn’t realize how valuable they were. The content created probably needs revisions and you may need to create some new content to support it.
  • Keywords you didn’t know your audience cared about. These are the ones that really surprised you. You currently have no content to support these campaigns and need to develop the right messaging to approach this new audience.

All these keywords still present strong opportunities. As you begin creating campaigns, you’ll be able to test out the process on keywords you know you have strong messaging for while you build out your content and messaging for the rest.

4) Leverage Social Intent Data in Your Email Nurturing Campaigns

Once you have the social actions that indicate a qualified lead, you can create marketing campaigns around lead actions like following a relevant influencer, mentioning a specific keyword, or using a relevant hashtag. 

Start by focusing on two to three of your strongest keywords, and build campaigns around those. Based on your content audit in Step 3, you should be able to identify a few “low hanging fruit” keywords where you already have good content to share. Your early concern shouldn’t be building out long sequences either. Create one to two follow-up emails per campaign and see how they perform.

Once you feel like you are getting good results in terms of email open rates and click-through rates, you can expand these initial campaigns and move on to other keywords where you already have content to promote.

Here at Socedo, we are currently sending 500-1000 real-time emails per week that are triggered solely from social media actions. Here’s an example of the email we send out when a lead uses the keyword #ContentMarketing, a topic we blog about frequently:

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This email averages a 38.8 % Open rate and a 4.8% click through rate. It performs twice as well as our typical nurture emails.

Depending on how broad each social action is, you may need to further segment your campaign or send it to everyone who uses that hashtag. For example, we found that while leads using a keyword like #ABM had a variety of job titles, almost all the leads following particular accounts are senior decision makers.

Consider Leveraging Social Intent Data

By turning to intent data from the broader web and social media, you can understand your buyers, segment your accounts and prospects into the right campaign tracks, trigger real-time emails and more accurately score your leads.

Use these five steps to start your intent-based marketing campaign but remember to constantly return to each step to further improve and refine your campaigns as you learn more about your audience and the right way to target them.

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May

12

2017

The Best Advice for Marketers in 2017: Insights from 11 Experts

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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Don Draper wouldn’t know what hit him. Gone are the decadent days of the liquid lunch, three-piece suits, and Madison Avenue dominating the marketing landscape. Modern marketers have to be a jill-of-all-trades, with one foot in the real world, and one in cyberspace.

We live in an age of digital disruption and a constantly evolving marketing playground. 96% of B2C marketers believed they were experiencing “significant change” in 2014. That number would likely be 100% today.

Radio, television spots, billboards, full-page spreads in glossy magazines, and direct mail packages have been replaced by their online counterparts. In fact, companies with a comprehensive strategic vision combined with digital tactics perform 26% better on average.

Even online, though, certain tactics have already become obsolete. Banner ads and email blast campaigns, for example, don’t really cut it anymore. Evolve, or perish. Embrace digital, or be left behind. Diversify your channels, or risk being invisible.

Today, your marketing mix should include social media, SEO, influencers, PPC ads, a mobile-first mentality, segmented and transactional email, remarketing, content marketing, detailed buyer personas, big data, analytics … and probably about a dozen more components I’m forgetting at the moment.

Obviously, that’s a lot of moving parts. So what’s a marketer to do? Where do you focus first if you want to improve?

As always, you turn to the experts. I reached out to a handful of experts and influencers, asking them two simple questions:

  1. What’s the most important advice you can give a marketer in 2017?
  2. What are some traits and qualities that make a marketer successful?

Here are their responses. Read, learn, enjoy.

Marketing Advice for 2017 From the Experts

1) John Rampton, Due

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A prolific contributor to The Huffington Post, Forbes, and Entrepreneur, Rampton is an online influencer, serial entrepreneur, and CEO of Due

Question #1: “Don’t get stuck in a rut, relying on the same tactics year after year. Continually reassess what you’re using and doing because online marketing, social media marketing tools, and audience preferences change faster than you realize. You will be left behind. I re-evaluate what we’re doing at least once a year and stay on top of new platforms and channels I need to incorporate in an upcoming marketing strategy revision.”

Question #2: “A successful marketer needs to be flexible, open, an active listener, and creative.”

2) Ann Handley, Annhandley.com

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Handley hardly needs an introduction: she’s a bestselling author, keynote speaker, LinkedIn influencer, and chief content officer at MarketingProfs. Forbes named her the most influential woman in social media. See what all the fuss is about at her personal website.

Question #1: “Us[e] voice and tone consistently across all channels and accounts to convey brand. Your tone of voice is a differentiator in a sea of same, yet most organizations vastly undervalue it. Most spend a lot of time on the visual elements of their brand — but not a lot on tone of voice (what you sound like). So — embrace tone of voice as your gutsiest, bravest asset!”

3) Hiten Shah, Quick Sprout

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Shah’s list of SaaS startups reads like a who’s who of success: He’s the co-founder and former CEO of Kissmetrics, co-founder of Crazy Egg, and co-founder of Quick Sprout.

Question #1: “Always strive to find uncommon ways of marketing yourself and your business. That’s how you’ll discover some of the biggest, high leverage opportunities that others have not caught on to yet.”

Question #2: ” A childlike curiosity will serve you well not only in marketing, but also life in general. Never lose it.”

4) Michelle Killebrew, Nomiku

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With over 16 years of high tech marketing experience, Killebrew has led teams at both IBM and Fisher Investments. She describes herself as a marketing technologist, and is currently working with Nomiku.

Question #1: “This advice is a longstanding truth: Always put the customer first. Customer-centricity has always been a foundation to good marketing, but it’s becoming exponentially more critical as the customer has more control and less attention, more options and less tolerance for poor experience.”

Question #2: “Marketers must be inquisitive with a true thirst for learning. The landscape is changing daily — everything from the consumer expectation and attention, effective channels, strategies and methods, and the technology required to execute it all. Marketers must be inventors with a love of experimentation and iteration to serve their customers well and stay competitive.”

5) Michael Lykke Aagaard, Unbounce

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Aagaard is an international speaker and senior conversion optimizer for Unbounce, the landing page and conversion specialists. With stints in Europe and North America, Aagaard describes himself as a practitioner and theorist on the subject.

Question #1: “Do everything you can to understand your target audience. The better you understand what reality looks like through their eyes, the easier it will be for you to make the right marketing decisions. In online marketing, we’re seeing everything through a digital lens. It can be easy to forget that you’re in the business of influencing real human behavior and decision-making — not just moving numbers around in a spreadsheet. Your marketing activities will only be effective if they have real impact on your real target audience. My best advice is to invest heavily in customer insight and market research.”

Question #2: “Having a strategic approach to problem solving is absolutely crucial. You need the ability to approach a complex situation, look at the data, cut through the clutter, carve out the best way forward and then ‘attack’! Also, being bold enough to admit when you’re wrong is very important. Stubbornly clinging to cherished notions and personal darlings rarely leads to insight or better results.”

6) Michael Brenner, Marketing Insider Group

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He’s the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, an internationally recognized keynote speaker, and an in-demand author, blogger, and contributor. Brenner has passion for and insight on both leadership and marketing strategies that work.

Question #1: ” Set a measurable and customer-centric goal focused on the impact you create for them and your company. My favorite metric to use is subscribers. Subscribers will tell you if the content you create is actually helping your customers. And subscribers have the added bonus of having real value to your company!”

Question #2: “Successful marketers have the courage to support the best ideas from across the organization. Not the stuff you did last year, or the thing your boss thinks will work, but the ideas that create real impact for customers.”

7) Laura Bilazarian, Teamable

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Bilazarian is the CEO and founder of Teamable — an employee referral and diversity hiring platform. Previous investment banker, Vietnam hotel builder, and rugby player, she’s a graduate of the Wharton Business School.

Question #1: Be authentic and hold yourself to a high standard in terms of the quality of content that you associate with yourself and your brand. Make it genuinely data-driven and tactical. Go back to the standards of a college thesis with the content you create — cite scientific sources, offer unique and contrarian insights supported by data, and so on. Learn real data science so that your experiments lead to the right conclusions with the minimum input. Understand how to optimize ROI with limited resources. Learn from your cutting edge customers and put what they’re doing out into the world, again in a scientific manner, so that the discipline your product supports evolves forward.”

Question #2: “Data-driven, creative, contrarian, and intuitive. That’s the kind of marketers we need today.”

8) Talia Wolf, GetUplift

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Wolf was previously the founder and CEO of Conversioner, and is the founder and chief optimizer at GetUplift, a boutique conversion optimization agency. She’s a guest blogger, keynote speaker, trainer, and advocate for using emotional targeting and persuasive design.

Question #1: “You’re not the hero of the story, your customer is. Most businesses tend to focus their entire marketing strategy by talking about their product or service, the features they provide, and their pricing. However, no matter what you’re selling, customers care more about the why than the what. If you make it about them, they will listen, they will read, they will convert, and they will come back.”

Question #2: Skills and techniques can be taught, but passionate, dedicated people are extremely rare and should be held on to. It’s not about how advanced they are, or if they know how to set up a campaign in AdWords or a variation in an A/B testing platform. It’s about their passion to learn, grow, and drive the company forward.”

9) Jason M. Lemkin, SaaStr

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Lemkin is a SaaS founder, investor, and enthusiast, as well as the driving force behind SaaStr, a company that provides advice, wisdom, and investment funds to four to five SaaS startups each year. He previously worked at Adobe, and is a top three most popular author on Quora.

Question #1: “Understand what playbook works at which stage. Eventually, all playbooks converge. That, and protect your brand at all costs. Later, that and the quality of your team is all that will matter.”

Question #2: “Humility. A great marketer knows what she knows how to do, and what she doesn’t, and she seeks out help wherever she needs it. An arrogant marketer — or worse, a defensive marketer — is one destined for a series of short stints.”

10) Shama Hyder, Marketing Zen

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Hyder is a digital marketing strategist, bestselling author, CEO of Marketing Zen, a web and television personality, and a prolific guest contributor to sites including Forbes.

Question #1: Marketing today is an entire ecosystem and it is evolutionary. The best marketers approach it in that way — by constantly learning, measuring progress, and focusing on the bigger picture.”

 

11) Lars Lofgren, I Will Teach You To Be Rich

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Lofgren is the senior director of growth at I Will Teach You To Be Rich, the lifestyle and finance company started by Ramit Sethi. He previously worked in growth and marketing for Kissmetrics before switching to his current position.

Question #1: “If there’s only one thing you do as a marketer, work to be a solid copywriter. It’s the foundational skill of all marketing and also has the highest leverage. It’ll help you with every single campaign and every single project. It also teaches you the core concepts of marketing such as target market, value props, positioning, persuasion, sales, and so forth. And as most marketers are terrible copywriters, it’s the fastest way to uplevel your own career and set you apart.”

Question #2: A relentless drive for truth. The best marketers don’t delude themselves about what’s working and what’s not. They’re great at self reflection, taking feedback, and understanding when the market wants something different than what they’re offering.”

What Marketing Means in 2017

If there’s a running theme here, it’s that you need to be excruciatingly careful with your brand, and an all-consuming sense of curiosity is worth more than any formal credential.

Your brand is your digital word. Protect it. Your curiosity can keep you on top of emerging trends, new tech tools, and developing platforms, channels, and tactics. It can allow you to stand out.

Modern marketing isn’t about where you studied the field, or what company you interned for, or even how clever you can be with taglines and slogans. It’s recognizing that not only have the rules changed, but it’s an entirely new game. It’s customers first and foremost: where are they (online), how are they accessing (mobile), what do they want and expect (premium service and experience)? Your job is to identify and then think like them.

Are you up for the challenge? Do you have the right people in place to make it happen? The individuals here are walking the walk, and talking the talk. Their advice is good advice.

Are you set up to follow it? If yes, then do. If not, make the necessary changes. Your future self will thank you.

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May

10

2017

5 Podcast Episodes That Will Make You a Better Agency Leader

Published by in category marketing agency | Comments are closed

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It’s one thing to read thought leadership on where a certain industry is going, or to talk about theoretical best practices in a given role or situation. It’s another thing entirely to get tactical, practical advice on what to do today about a specific problem — delivered by someone who’s actually been in your shoes.

Agency leaders get plenty of the first type of guidance through industry publications and events. But when it comes to the second bucket, they’re often out of luck. Unless you have a group of networking contacts to talk shop with, you’re often left flying blind, potentially doomed to repeat the exact same mistakes peers at other companies have made countless times.

In need of some tactical advice? In lieu of dramatically increasing the time you spend networking and building your cadre of personal contacts, Drew McLellan‘s podcast is the next best thing. 

Each episode of “Build a Better Agency” affords listeners a sneak peek into the world of someone deeply entrenched in the agency world, and the conversation always ends with at least one tactical takeaway. 

We’ve partnered with Agency Management Institute by becoming the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast because we’re confident that the insights and real world examples in every episode will help our agencies grow and profit.

Here are a few of my favorite episodes, sorted by the issues discussed. Take a listen if you’re grappling with the same problems.

1) Defining Your Agency

  • Guest: Jami Oetting
  • Listen if: You can’t quite seem to get your content off the ground

Does it feel like you’re putting in a ton of work into your content, but it’s not quite working for you? Learn how to create content that actually delivers results from someone who built an agency-specific publication from the ground up, as well as how to adjust unrealistic expectations on time to ROI.

2) Increasing Your New Business Odds

  • Guest: Peter Levitan
  • Listen if: You’re not getting new business as often as you’d like

Sales doesn’t always come natural to agency leaders, but learning how to effectively pitch and win new clients is critical for survival. Discover some of the mistakes you could be making when it comes to selling your services, and learn a few practical ways to differentiate yourself against competitors.

3) How to Do Website Development and Still Make a Profit

  • Guest: Brent Weaver
  • Listen if: You’re almost ready to swear off website redesigns because they’re so painful

A website overhaul is never as easy as it seems in the beginning — but it doesn’t need to be as expensive, time-consuming, and painful as they often end up becoming either. Heading off future roadblocks by doing rock solid discovery at the start of website projects is the key; learn how to do just that and save yourself a headache.

4) What Your Agency Needs to Do to Charge a Premium

  • Guest: N/A — this one is all Drew
  • Listen if: You’re ready to seriously up your agency’s game

You might think that your agency is dominating, but could you be leaving opportunity on the table? Take your rose-colored glasses off and get practical tips on how to assess whether or not your agency is best-in-class — and if not, how to get there.

5) How to Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader

  • Guest: Aaron Agius
  • Listen if: You’re having a hard time standing out

Increase your mindshare, increase your market share. Discover how to create a distinct voice that gets noticed by prospective customers and keeps current clients engaged. 

If you give one of these episodes a listen, let us know what you think in the comments. If you’re looking for more advice or personalized guidance, head over to the Agency Management Institute’s website and peruse their content, workshops, and remote coaching options.

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May

9

2017

7 of the Best Mother's Day Ads We've Ever Seen

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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Sometime in early May each year, search volume for “When is Mother’s Day” begins to reach a panicked spike.

Consider this article your official reminder: Mother’s Day is this Sunday (May 14th), and we have a selection of hilarious and heartwarming ads about moms to get you in the spirit.

From a lighthearted garden gathering with the royal family to a moving tribute to mothers of sick children, each of these campaigns celebrate those authentic moments that bond us with our moms.

A word of caution to those of you currently in the office: you might want to get some tissues ready. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

7 Great Examples of Mother’s Day Advertising

1) Moms Explain What Their Kids Do in Advertising | MRY (2015)

If you work in the digital marketing or advertising space, you’ve probably struggled at some point to concisely explain what your job entails to your family. To celebrate Mother’s Day 2015, the folks at digital agency MRY posed a seemingly simple question to their moms: What do you think I do for a living?

The answers — delivered via web cam by the moms themselves — range from “Online Advertising Through the Computer for Any Kind of Internet Kind of Thing” to “Annoying Pop-Up Creator” — and more than one childhood art project is unearthed for some unsolicited praise. 

 

2) The Body Shop | British Roses for the Queen (2016)

The Body Shop enlisted the help of London-based agency Mr. President to produce this candid, home video-style ad featuring a cast of (very convincing) royal family doppelgangers celebrating Mother’s Day in the royal garden.

Allison Jackson, a BAFTA-award winning director best known for her lookalike photos of celebrities, was brought on to ensure the video looked authentic. 

 

3) SickKids vs. MomStrong | Sick Kids (2017)

A somber follow-up to the SickKids vs. Undeniable ad released in 2016, this Mother’s Day spot from SickKids Hospital underscores the agony and strength of mothers with chronically ill children.

If the anguish depicted seems real, that’s because it is — Cossette Toronto, the agency behind the ad, cast real mothers in the short video, gently revealing personal, often unseen moments of pain and resilience.

 

4) FlyBabies | JetBlue (2016)

After watching this ad from Boston-based agency MullenLowe, maybe you’ll think twice before judging the mother with the screaming baby on your next flight.

For Mother’s Day 2016, this JetBlue stunt offered passengers a 25% discount on their next round-trip flight every time a baby cried on the plan. With four babies on the plane, their odds of getting a completely free flight were pretty good. This ad ultimately achieves the unachievable: getting airline passengers to clap and cheer each time a baby cries.

 

5) Swear Like a Mother | Kraft (2017)

74% of moms admit they’ve accidentally sworn in front of their kids before. The other 26%? “Full of sh*t”, suggests Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing.

To champion Kraft’s message of giving yourself a much-deserved break once in a while, CP+B Boulder asked Mohr to share some of her tips for those not-so-perfect parenting situations. Because being a mom is tough, and it’s healthy to remind yourself you don’t have to be perfect.

 

6) Texts From Mom | Samsung (2015)

Long ago, your mom taught you how to do things like eat, roll over on your belly, and use the bathroom. Some things are just not as intuitive as think, so don’t be too hard on your mom for her lack of texting expertise.

This R/GA-produced Mother’s Day spot takes a hilarious look at some of the texts you might get from your mom, and reminds you to give her a call this Sunday.

 

7) Tattoo | American Greetings (2017)

In this heartwarming spot for American Greetings, MullenLowe took inspiration from a friend of creative director Allison Rude. After her father died, the friend discovered a card from her father, and got a meaningful handwritten line tattooed on her wrist. In the ad, a daughter gets a similar inked tribute to her late mother. 

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May

5

2017

The Responsibility of Advertising and PR to the General Public in 2017

Published by in category marketing agency | Comments are closed

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There’s been a lot of talk recently about the responsibility of journalists to tell the truth.

However, there seems to be one part of the news-making equation that has so far been given a free pass, and that’s the information provided to newsrooms by PR.

Due to cutbacks in journalism, and the demands of the new media environment we live in, short staffed newsrooms are tasked to produce high quantities of content every day. Some are even faced with unprecedented output quotas to compensate for the newly diminished workforce.

Something has to give in this scenario, which means an increasing percentage of journalistic output is reliant on the information fed through by PR.

According to the PR Census 2016, the PR industry employs 83,000 people in the UK. In comparison, a Labour Force Survey released in June 2015 discovered that 64,000 people were involved in a job role concerned with journalism (e.g. editor, reporter etc.). That’s a big difference, so perhaps it’s time we started talking about the responsibility those working in PR and advertising have to the general public.

This responsibility is one taken seriously by the vast majority of PR professionals. David Woodward is a former journalist who is currently a strategy director at Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s leading public relation firms. He is acutely aware of the situation PR currently finds itself in.

Our business is founded upon relationships with a free press. Professional journalists rely on us to tell them the truth, and in turn share that information with audiences who hold all of us accountable. Increasingly, we are also content creators ourselves. Of course, branded content is not journalism. But we must never deceive and always be completely accurate in what we say and advise our clients to say.

In an industry which has the sole purpose of spreading the good word about a client, towing the ethical line when pitching to journalists has been a stumbling point for a selection of brands throughout history.

This needs to stop. As an industry we need to ensure a certain code of ethics is adhered to. And while agencies are bound to the rules of bodies such as the PRCA, legislation shouldn’t be the only thing stopping false claims getting out into the world.

Here are three ethical pillars of public relations and advertising professionals — that under no circumstances should be breached. It’s a steadfast list, which leaves the door open for the odd superlative here and there. After all, we are in the business of marketing.

1) Tell The (Whole) Truth

This is the over-arching theme for this entire post, so to include it as a separate point might appear redundant. However, I believe it’s an area worth indulging in. As does Becky Merchant, an account manager at the Stand Agency in London.

It is the responsibility of Public Relations practitioners to ensure that all their communications are accurate and they offer truthful and insightful stories to cover. While organizations no doubt have to be more transparent these days, 2017 is no different from other years; it’ll always be the responsibility of PR to represent clients in an accurate and honest way.

While accuracy and honesty might have been the responsibility of PR ever since Edward Bernays set up shop in New York City back in 1919, it’s certainly the case that things have come in leaps and bounds since then. Take the 1940s for example, a time where claims like the one below were allowed to go out in front of millions without being questioned …

Camel Ad Image via AdAge

Camel cigarettes actually ran with this slogan for eight years, and it was even featured as an advert in the American Medical Associations official journal. It will come as no surprise to learn that the recent nationwide survey was carried out by an agency who had supplied said physicians with cartons of camel cigarettes just days earlier.

While it’s tempting to look back and laugh, it’s worth reminding ourselves that these practices are still happening today for example …

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 2.43.58 PM.png
Image Credit: Apple

Yes, the iPhone 3G courted controversy when the announcement press release read like this…

Just one year after launching the iPhone, we’re launching the new iPhone 3G that is twice as fast at half the price.

Neither of these claims turned out to be true, and when consumers decided to complain, the matter went to court. Apple’s lawyers responded with a less than solid defense

No reasonable person in the plaintiff’s position could have reasonably relied on or misunderstood Apple’s statements as claims of fact.

Arguing that consumers shouldn’t believe their own marketing messages is probably the exact opposite of what you should be doing. As you would expect, this bonkers reaction generated a lot of negative coverage across the media. The whole thing could have been avoided through a bit more honesty from the get go.

2) Don’t Misrepresent Statistics 

As the previous point touched on above, calling something a nationwide survey — when It really isn’t — is bad form. Besides the fact that journalists will probably ask for at least some documentation to back up your claims, lying about the public’s perception of certain issues is just not cricket.

When it comes to sharing internal statistics or survey results, there really is no excuse for anything but the cold hard facts.

Here are a few golden rules to stick to when carrying out your next piece of market research.

  •  If you’re commissioning a survey through a third party, ensure they adhere to the market research societies code of conduct, these are based upon the ESOMAR principles.
  • For UK wide surveys, a pool of 1,000 respondents is the minimum response rate to be considered usable by most media publications. Of course, the more comprehensive the research the better, and the number should certainly be higher when tackling serious topics.
  • The statistics need to be 100% accurate. Manipulating data in order to support your message or branding will inevitably blow up in your face. Just ask Volkswagen …

Image credit: Fortune Magazine

 Around 10.5 million Volkswagen cars worldwide were sold under the pretense that they were fitted with a ‘ground-breaking clean diesel’ engine … that never actually existed. In September 2015 it was revealed that in fact these vehicles were emitting 40 times the level of emissions they said they were.

Civil suits could inflict Volkswagen with an excess of $45 billion in fines, and the company’s reputation has been almost irreversibly tarnished. And let’s not forget about the environmental impact of all this.

While manipulating data led to more green-thinking consumers purchasing a Volkswagen in the short term, it has put a big question mark over the future of the company in the long term. Now that’s what I call bad PR.

3) Be Thorough 

Contrary to what you might think after reading this article, not all misinformation is down to PR. Some of it is down to a message being misconstrued by journalists.

A hastily put together press release which is not clear can be just as damaging as one that is full of bare faced lies.

As explained earlier in this blog, the pressure on journalists in 2017 is astronomical, meaning the time dedicated to sub-editing copy is at a minimum. This means mistakes are more likely to get through unless your press release is clear and concise. If it’s not, you run the risk of being ignored completely, or your message being lost in the final story.

To avoid these outcomes, you need to be competent on the fundamentals, and it’s always handy to brush up on these in an industry that moves at a thousand miles an hour.

  • Keep your messaging clear. If a journalist doesn’t know what the news hook is within the first two lines, you haven’t done this.
  • Your copy must be spot on grammatically. Because this isnt’ acceptabel.
  • Your information must be correct. (See points 1 and 2)
  • If you’ve included a contact for journalists to follow up with, make sure they are available to talk to. The line “XXXX was unavailable for comment” never looks good.
  • Be prepared. Brush up your knowledge on the publication you’re pitching to, and always have additional information and imagery on hand, just in case.

The Rewards

Brands being open and honest with the public is proven to be the most important thing to consumers time and time again. An industry survey conducted by Cohn & Wolfe in 2014 stated that the number one behavior people demanded from brands was “to communicate honestly about products and services.”

In 2015 a survey revealed that 85% of people were more likely to support brands that are open and honest. And just last year, a survey by Label Insight found that 94% of consumers said transparency from brands and manufacturers was important and impacts their purchasing habits.

So with that in mind, how can an open and honest PR and Marketing agenda reward your brand?

You’re doing your bit for journalists, and stemming the tide of fake news.

This is not just good news for society as a whole, but will result in better relationships within the media – leading to increased coverage of open and honest stories.

Customers will appreciate your transparency, and be more inclined to buy into your marketing and use your services.

The stats don’t lie. And while this is easier said than done in a world of shareholders, quotas and deadlines, companies who strive to stick to a core principle of ethical responsibility will reap the rewards.

You stay out of trouble!

The less time spent in the courtroom the better.

It’s a cut throat world out there, where companies with the best marketing thrive and the rest settle just to survive, if they can even do that. And while journalists and bodies like the Advertising Standards Agency  and the PRCA are in place to protect the public from spurious claims, it’s vital that individuals assess the ethics workload and ensure the information the public is exposed to is legitimate. 

I’ll give Weber Shandwick’s Woodward the final word on the responsibility of PR…

“The top line is this: we help organisations manage and protect their reputations, either through what they say or what they do. When fake news damages or harms reputations and breaks the public’s trust, we will take steps to undo the damage by insisting on truthful reporting. We have to hold our partners and vendors to the same high standards. We won’t intentionally do business with any business that deliberately traffics in fake news or distributes content to fake news sites.”

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May

3

2017

3 Strategies to Increase Employee Retention

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

employee-retention-strategies.pngYou started young. You were still growing when you started your first business. You felt the thrill of making something out of nothing. Or maybe you needed a taste of the real world and you got a job after college. Either way, here you are now.

You’ve got a business.

You worked through the tough times. You had credit card debt and you put it all on the line because you knew there was something there. Now your relentless entrepreneurial commitment has, at the very least, led to putting food on the table. Or even better, perhaps you’re killing it, driving a Tesla to your hip office with brick walls and an industrial ceiling.

Check out our comprehensive guide on how to start a business. 

The only problem … one of your key employees left this week. It wasn’t about the money. It was “about the future … the opportunity ahead. It’s not you. It’s me”.  

You’ve got other key players in your business that you need to stick around to make it tick. What are you going to do to make sure you don’t lose another?

I was the one that went to college, got my MBA, and stepped on the first few rungs of the ladder. I worked for some huge software companies and consultancies. I was told by my manager one day that I “lacked a sense of urgency.” He offered some advice … when I walk down the hall, I should “walk faster and smile less, because perception is reality.”

I was fired.

I started my own software business on the antithesis of his advice, and sold to private equity 14 years later. I built a culture that attracted some of the best talent and kept them around for the long haul.

Through the years, I learned three strategies that you can begin to implement today to ensure you keep your key employees around not only through thick and thin but, as Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, says, “coming to work on the balls of their feet climbing the stairs two at a time.”

3 Strategies to Increase Employee Retention

1) Motivate from the inside.

Look at the organizations around the world that drive their followers to do unbelievable things. Look at SpaceX, Google, HubSpot, and the tens of thousands of charitable entities driving people to do amazing things.

What do they all have in common? They have followers and employees that believe in a vision and mission so much so that it’s aligned with their personal values or even becomes their own mission. These are the people that are passionate and committed. They are not leaving that organization any time soon. So what can you do to motivate and therefore retain your key employees?

Try it out: Start the dialog around why you’re doing what you’re doing. Bring your employees into the conversation. Spend weeks on this, if not months. Don’t rush it, but be deliberate about it.

Identify a purpose. The why… Watch Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” TED talk. With purpose comes dedication. With a purpose comes the person that goes well beyond the job description. With a purpose you have an employee who is by your side faithfully.

It’s not the salary. It’s not the bonus. Those are nice, and the money is necessary, but it’s not what really drives people and keeps them around. You may even find a couple other little things like a vision and values come out of this little exercise, as well.

2) Trust your employees like they’re family.

I don’t mean trust that they’ll pay you back for the $20 you let them borrow at the casino 3 months ago. And I’m not talking about the trust it takes to open up and spill your soul. I’m talking about the trust it takes to give them something important to figure out, knowing that it’s going to be ok.

Giving them a project without necessarily weighing in on it, uninvited. Give them a little dang breathing room. If failure is too common, figure out why, but have some faith that you hired the right people for the job. Because, here’s what happens: The employee starts to own it. I mean really, really own it. They begin to take pride in it. And nothing drives someone as much as pride, except maybe autonomy and mastery… Yep. That’s Dan Pink.

Try it out: The next time you give someone a project or something to figure out, let them own it. Give them the desired outcome and ask them to report in on regular milestones.

Here’s the one rule: You need to let them own it and intervention can only happen if it’s going to hurt the business. That’s it. Mmmmm. Try it. Hey, try it at home with your kids too. But don’t hold me responsible for that one.

3) Create a cadence that form good habits.

So think about all those nasty habits you have. Ok, you don’t have any, but others do … like your grandmother who smokes a pack a day and she’s almost 90. And your college friend that hasn’t grown up yet still drinks too much because cool kids drink, right? Why is it that we don’t do good things as habitually?

Well, we do actually. You have a morning routine. I’ll bet you work out, brush your teeth, and clean yourself. Let’s open that up to the office now. Every business has a cadence — your team meetings, your company meetings, your financial reporting, Taco Tuesday, etc … There are other things, however, that you can start to make routine that will help drive employee engagement and therefore retention and loyalty.

Sustainability is all about the habit forming cadence. Recognition and feedback often lack consistency. Cadence. Career and professional development often lack consistency. Cadence. Attention to strategy often falls on the way-side. Cadence.

Try it out: Identify a few things in your company that are hard to keep top of mind. For example, employee recognition. This is something we tell ourselves we need to do better. I’ve even talked to some entrepreneurs that set calendar reminders to give props to their employees. It can be easier.

Get your employees helping you out. Establish a peer to peer recognition program and set it up with a cadence that creates a habit. It might be a weekly or monthly routine. Or find something else you need to do better. Turn it into a cadence. Turn it into a habit.

At one point, while building my business, we ran into a difficult period. We were losing money. We needed to either let some people go or reduce compensation across the board. I reached out to my key employees and told them the scenario. I needed to ensure they were behind me on this. All of them confirmed they were on board. I made the difficult announcement and over the six month recovery, we didn’t lose a single employee.

We had built a strong culture and money was not the key motivator. There was trust and autonomy. And our best habits were driven by a cadence.

Put These Strategies Into Practice

If you’re successful at embracing these three strategies, you will never ever lose another key employee, even in the tough times — or at least it reduces the likelihood.

In fact, you’ll have their friends hitting you up for jobs. You’ll have customers and clients asking to work for you. And you’ll see your employees walking in the door with smiles on their faces. They’ll arrive to work in the morning “on the balls of their feet climbing the stairs two at a time.”

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May

2

2017

13 Project Management Terms You Should Know [Infographic]

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

The legendary management consultant Peter Drucker once famously wrote, “There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.”

This nugget of wisdom is especially relevant to project managers. Effective project management is all about cutting through the clutter to focus on the things with the biggest impact on the project’s bottom line — the basic pillars that hold your project up. There’s no use optimizing the details if your core process is flawed. 

This handy infographic from Taskworld identifies 13 basic, big-picture project management terms you should know to keep things running smoothly and on-schedule from kickoff to post-mortem. 

Some of the areas listed might seem self-explanatory, but they’re worth your attention as you start planning out your next big project. They’ll help you communicate your goals effectively, allocate resources efficiently, and keep your team focused and supported. Check them out below.

How do you make sure your big projects stay on track? Let us know in the comments.

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Apr

28

2017

Why Agencies That Conduct Market Research Grow Faster

Published by in category marketing agency | Comments are closed

You’re a busy marketer. Your days are full of client meetings, brand research, marketing strategy sessions …

Who has time to do market research for their own marketing agency?

If you think market research is for clients only, better think again. As a marketer, it’s equally important for you to understand your market, its wants and needs, the state of your competition, and your place in the marketing ecosystem and pecking order.

Make no mistake — market research for your own firm is no purely-academic exercise. Think of it this way: the better you know your audience, the more easily you can turn prospects into clients. Incredible as it may seem, most professional services firms, including marketing agencies, don’t know their audiences as well as they should. As a result, they’re missing out on opportunities to gain more clients and get more business out of current ones.

So why don’t more marketing firms do research? Well, because many think, for some reason, their clients are “different” so that the input won’t yield any insights. Others think research simply won’t impact growth.

We beg to differ.

We’ve conducted our own research on research (yes, really) and discovered that there are some significant benefits for marketing firms. Firms that regularly research their client markets (at least quarterly) grow more than ten times faster than firms that don’t conduct research. 

If you’re willing to go all-in and conduct research on a frequent, more-than-quarterly basis, your firm can really take off, compared to agencies that do no research. Our research confirmed that more than one-third of high-growth firms conducted target audience research regularly and at least once a quarter (see below chart). Virtually none of the no-growth firms conducted frequent research.

Data from Hinge’s 2017 High Growth Research Report

Research not only drives growth, it also impacts profitability. For instance, when Hinge studied the effects of research on growth and profitability, we found that firms that conducted frequent research realized 19.9% profitability, whereas firms that did not conduct research reported only 11% profitability.

What makes research so effective? There are a number of ways that firms become better positioned to secure prospects and grow their client relationships through research. These include:

  • Having a clear understanding of emerging issues and trends in order to determine which services to develop and offer.
  • Uncovering areas in which your firm has misjudged or misread their clients, such as what market influences are keeping them from growing their relationship with your firm.
  • Identifying purchasing or other types of patterns that you haven’t noticed since you are so deeply engrossed in your day-to-day interactions with your clients.

As Hinge has done research for ourselves and our clients, we’ve identified ten research questions that can drive growth and profitability. Below is a sample of the questions we have found to have a big impact for our clients.

Why do your best clients choose your firm?

Understanding what great clients find appealing about a firm can help the firm attract others like them.

What are those same clients trying to avoid?

This is the flip side of the first question and offers a valuable perspective. The answer can provide clues as to how to avoid being ruled out during the early rounds of a prospect’s selection process. The answer can also help shape business practices and strategy.

What is the real benefit your firm provides?

Firms are often surprised to hear the true benefit of their service, as viewed through their clients’ eyes. Once they understand this, they are able to enhance or even develop new services with other real benefits.

So what’s the best way to conduct research?

Believe it or not, Rule Number One is do not do it yourself. That’s right. Have someone else do it for you. Why? Because respondents are more likely to provide honest answers to a third party. If you insist on doing the research yourself — which is better than doing no research at all — be aware that you may capture only a portion of the overall picture.

Here are three more tips for conducting effective research:

1) Phone interviews are best. 

Nothing beats a live interview. Even reluctant participants will open up to a skillful interviewer. In fact, the greatest insights are often volunteered outside the scope of the questionnaire.

2) Online surveys are second best—but they don’t have to be second rate. 

An online survey will never capture the same insights as an interview, but a well-crafted online survey can still reap valuable information. Surveys also tend to be easier and less expensive to implement. Just remember, your response rate is likely to be very low.

3) Don’t limit it to your current clients. 

Cold prospects are more difficult to get on the phone, but they provide—by far—the most accurate picture of your marketplace. Clients who got away offer invaluable insights into your weaknesses. Similarly, lapsed clients can help you understand how to become more relevant and engaged.

And what should we do with all this research?

There are any number of ways you can use it, limited mostly by your goals and imagination. Here are just a few ideas on how you can use your research to enhance your reputation, generate leads and bring in more clients:

  • Tweak or redefine your positioning to differentiate your firm from competitors.
  • Introduce new services that prospects have indicated want.
  • Use it as an entrée to bring former clients back into the fold.
  • Offer new services to current or former clients.
  • Anticipate clients’ needs.

Most important, you can boost your credibility with your target market and increase your visible expertise by pulling data and results from your research findings to write blog posts and articles that address urgent market challenges, to publish a research study, and as fodder for speeches, seminars, and webinars.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get researching. The sooner you get started, the sooner your firm will reap its rewards.

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Apr

27

2017

10 of the Best Ads from April: Hygge, Apocalypse, and a Robot Baby

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

Although we haven’t been fortunate enough to see more than a few scattered days of sunlight here in Boston, I’m told it’s technically spring.

In addition to rain, April also brought us some stunning new creative work from agencies around the word. Our monthly ad round-up features a German-produced animated short, a delightful Danish beer ad, and a clever insurance spot from Japan starring a rugby team from New Zealand. 

Did you miss any of these ads from April? Scroll down to check them out, and get inspired to tackle your next big project. 

10 of the Best Ads from April

1) AIG Japan

New Zealand’s national rugby union team, the All Blacks, hit the pedestrian-heavy streets of Toyko in this unexpectedly charming spot for AIG Japan. The three-minute ad opens with the uniform-clad players tackling seemingly random (and reasonably stunned) Tokyo residents — but things quickly take a heartwarming turn.

About half-way through the TBWAHakuhodo-produced video, it becomes apparent that the All Blacks were actually saving people from unpredictable disasters — a car running a red light, a pile of debris falling from a construction site, and a sudden laptop fire.

“[The ad] was an arresting way to show our fantastic relationship with the All Blacks, demonstrate the idea of risk prevention, and create a strong connection to the Japanese audience,” said Matthew Walker, AIG Japan’s senior vice president and regional chief marketing officer.

 

2) Carlsberg

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen ponders the secret source of his home country’s enviable happiness in Carlsberg’s latest UK campaign. Produced by London-based agency Fold7, the ad follows Mikklesen as he peddles his way through Copenhagen, magically passing through hedges, into stylish, minimal apartments, and over a rustic table set for a hyggelig gathering.

His tour ends (where else?) at a Carlsberg brewery, where Mikklesen enjoys a cold Carlsberg pilsner and decides that this is the real secret of Danish happiness … probably.

 

3) Student Flights

If you’re young, you better enjoy traveling while you can — before you become an uncool, perpetually exhausted parent. That’s the message of this spot for Student Flights, a company that specializes in travel deals for the university set.

To really drive that message home, Johannesburg-based agency TBWAHunt Lascaris convinced a hip millennial to carry around a wailing, pooping “Babybot” for a few days at a music festival. The poor guy in question, Loyiso Madinga, is promised a free trip to New York if he can survive a weekend with Babybot unscathed. His initial assessment of the challenge? “How hard could this be … right?”

As expected, having a baby at a music festival isn’t super fun — even if that baby is Wifi-enabled and made of metal. 

 

4) Netto

Ever wonder where the Easter Bunny came from? European supermarket chain Netto teamed up with German agency Jung von Matt and production house Mill+ to share their whimsical imagining of the egg-laying rabbit’s origins (Hint: it starts with a hen and a rabbit meeting each other at a night club.)

Set to a innocent, heart-wrenching rendition of “Beautiful, Always,” the animated short packs a surprisingly poignant punch. It’s sure to make even the coldest little hearts grow three sizes.

 

5) The New York Times

Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky (of Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan fame) lends his talents to this Droga5-produced spot for The New York Times. The stark, one-minute ad series is part of the Grey Lady’s first brand-focused ad campaign in a decade.

Aronofsky met with several New York Times photojournalists, asking them to recount their experiences covering some of the most impactful stories from recent years. As the photojournalists discuss their fieldwork and motivations, images from the trips in question flash across the screen.  

 

6) Unilever

Pricey, trendy beauty products aren’t necessarily worth the hype, according to Unilever’s latest marketing stunt. Vice’s digital agency Carrot invited a group of real beauty influencers to try a fake new shampoo: Evaus (Spoiler alert: that’s just discount hair care brand Suave spelled backwards).

Packaged in a sleek, minimal bottle, Evaus products were a big hit with the influencers, who raved about how shiny and soft their hair felt after 10 days of using the line. When producers reveal that the “startup” hair care brand is really just $3 Suave shampoo poured into fancy schmancy bottles, the influencers are shocked — and then seemingly delighted at the great value.

“We found seven of 10 women think higher-priced brands are more trustworthy,” Jen Bremner, Unilever marketing director explained to AdAge. “That really was the inspiration. We wanted to peel back the labels and convert the skeptics.”

 

7) Entourage

To promote Entourage, a French app aimed at reconnecting neighborhoods with their homeless populations, TBWAParis decided to take an unconventional, offline approach to viral marketing: writing directly on banknotes.

The agency asked homeless community members to pen short messages directly on paper bills. Each hand-written note reveals something that homeless people wish everyone else knew. Take this example from the case study video below: “For me, Pierrot, homeless for 19 years, this bill has a lot of value, but not as much as a hello.”

The hope is that the simple messages with encourage Parisians to download the Entourage app, which helps people offer support and make social connections with homeless folks in their neighborhood.

 

8) SubHub

When the inevitable robot apocalypse finally spells fatal disaster for the human race, won’t you wish you shelled out to see that Sia concert?

Goodby Silverstein & Partners produced this cinematic, YOLO-fueled spot for StubHub, encouraging you to buy those concert tickets “before it’s too late.” The ad balances sleek, action-movie pacing with an unexpected, hilarious ending.

 

9) Pedigree

BBDO New York resurrected a little-known story from the Revolutionary War to promote Pedigree’s “Feed the Good” campaign.

In 1777, General George Washington and his troops were in the midst of a battle against British Forces Commander-in-Chief William Howe when one of Washington’s men discovered Howe’s dog wandering lost near the American camp. Instead of harming the lost pup (as some of Washington’s men reportedly suggested), Washington benevolently returned the dog to Howe with a kind note. The true story reflects Pedigree’s belief that dogs bring out the best of us.

 

10) Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Here’s one for the IT guy or gal in your office.

In this playful Publicis New York-produced ad for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, a sad, bobble-head IT employee named Brian is forced to deny his colleagues’ earnest requests due to inadequate legacy technology. That is, until his office gets Hewlett Packard Enterprise — at which point Brian transforms Pinocchio-style from a plastic bobble head doll into a guy who can finally say “yes.”

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Apr

26

2017

7 Steps to Documenting a Content Marketing Strategy That Works

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

I already know what you’re thinking. You saw the words content marketing and strategy together in the headline and thought, “Oh, cool, another article telling me how important it is to have and actually write down my strategy — just what I need.”

Don’t worry, that’s not what this is.

You already know that having and documenting your strategy is important because you’ve probably read the same reports and case studies that my team and I have read. But there’s a pretty big difference between knowing you should do something and knowing how to do it — which might explain why 89 percent of B2B marketers use content, yet only 37 percent have documented strategies.

The marketing team at Influence & Co. spent the last couple months of 2016 carefully researching, planning, and creating a content marketing strategy for this year. What follows is an exploration of exactly which elements our team determined a successful plan must include to drive results, empowering you to create your own documented content strategy.

How to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy

Part of what makes a documented strategy so powerful is that every person on your team — from your content creators to your senior-level directors and everyone in between — can see what, why, and how your company is communicating.

This alignment makes it easier to get buy-in, crowdsource content, and pull employees into the distribution process, and it makes your efforts stronger because it extends your reach beyond the marketing team.

For your strategy to be helpful to your whole company and not just your immediate marketing team members, it has to address a few major questions, like:

  • Why are we utilizing content marketing as a strategy?
  • Who are we trying to reach with our content?
  • What are we hoping to accomplish?
  • How does this fit into our overall marketing strategy?
  • How will we measure success?

If you start with these questions in mind, the actual pieces of your strategy should come easily. In fact, each of the following components of your strategy should help you clearly answer those questions, align your team, and hold you accountable. Here are seven key elements your content marketing strategy must include:

1) Overall Mission

Before you get too far into the weeds, ask yourself, “What’s the real reason we’re investing in content?” And if the answer is anything close to “Well, we just know we should be doing content,” stop immediately and spend more time thinking about why you’re making this critical, valuable, and time-consuming investment in the first place.

If you do have a well-thought-out answer, write it down. Are you preparing to use content so your marketing team can generate leads and attract new customers? Are you trying to build brand awareness and credibility?

No matter your reason for investing in content marketing, it needs to take a prominent place at the beginning of your strategy; that overall mission will guide the rest of your document and keep your team on track when it’s time to execute.

2) Target Audience Personas

You may have included some general ideas about your audience members when you outlined your mission, and while that’s a helpful place to start, it’s not nearly detailed enough to start creating content for them.

Before you craft any content or develop any distribution plan, you have to know who you’re trying to reach. You aren’t creating content for the general public, you’re creating it to attract specific individuals who can contribute to your company’s goals.

You need to research and create detailed audience personas. If your personas inform the content you create, your content will do a much better job of speaking to the exact audience you’re targeting.

3) Content Mix Plan

Once you know why you’re creating content and for whom, you can determine what type to create. Depending on what your marketing funnel looks like, you’ll need a couple different types: content that educates and engages prospects at the top of the funnel and encourages them to learn more, as well as content for the bottom of the funnel that answers very specific questions and addresses objections to working with you.

That content can take any number of forms, from guest-contributed articles on online publications to blog posts, white papers, email campaigns, sales enablement materials, and more. What’s especially important here is thinking through the variety of earned, owned, and paid media you’ll need to keep prospects moving through this funnel.

4) Content Creation Process

You could follow each of the above steps exactly and still fall flat on your face when it’s time to actually put pen to paper. Creating content of your own and turning your company leaders into content creators takes time and effort.

So before you dig into executing your content plan, determine which processes, workflows, and resources make the most sense for your team. Perhaps taking advantage of content creation tools will make your job easier, or partnering with an agency to help may be a better solution.

5) Editorial Calendar

Consistency is key in content marketing. It’s your opportunity to build trust with your audience members, nurture them, and become a resource for them. Once you know what kinds of content you need to create, it’s time to develop a calendar or schedule to make sure you deliver.

Your editorial calendar should detail how often you need to publish to keep your audience engaged and when you’ll distribute your published pieces. Mapping out your target deadlines for different pieces will keep your process on track.

6) Distribution Plan

Distribution is all about getting your content to the right people at the right time. That can mean publishing articles in publications your target audience members are already reading, using a paid distribution plan on social to attract readers to your white paper, or simply including your content in your email newsletters.

Your distribution plan should be part of your documented strategy because knowing where and how you plan to distribute your content informs the type of content you create, how often you do it, and which processes you utilize. It’s a key part of your content marketing strategy, so don’t start executing the strategy until you’ve thought it through.

7) ROI Calculator

Remember when you identified your overall mission at the beginning of this document? You need to identify from the beginning how you’re going to measure success with this campaign, and now’s your chance to match metrics to your goals to gauge how well your content is helping to achieve that mission.

Set some benchmarks you want to hit concerning traffic to your website, leads generated, or opportunities created through content, and set up a plan for tracking this using anything from your own modest spreadsheets to a robust software package.

If this documented strategy seems like a lot, that’s because it is. Nobody said that content marketing was simple, but it’s well worth the investment, especially when you set yourself up for success. And with these seven must-have elements detailed in your documented content strategy, your team will be off to a fantastic start.

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Apr

19

2017

4 Strategies to Spark On-Demand Creativity

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

Back in the “Mad Men” days, only writers and artists were held accountable for driving an agency’s creativity. Today, that dynamic has expanded to include just about everyone.

Whether it’s the account services team bringing fresh ideas to clients, the business development team finding new ways to engage with prospects, or creative services producing content, everyone has to be creative for the agency to succeed. Individual contributors also must be able to tie their creative efforts to measurable ROI.

Why is creativity so important? Because for agencies, creativity is currency. The successful execution of good ideas separates top agencies from closed shops. The barriers to entry for marketing are lower than ever — anyone with an idea and an hour can build a website or whip up a logo. Agencies must communicate their value proposition as the owners of the best ideas and know how to measure that value.

But creativity alone is not enough. Agencies and the people within them must be creative on demand. To do that, every department and every employee must become part of a culture that excels at creative problem-solving.

Bringing New Ideas to the Table

Often, creativity is talked about like it’s a magical ability of the chosen few — something we have little control over that strikes at random. But Jason Keath, founder and CEO of Social Fresh Conference, says universal creativity is not as hard to achieve as some entrepreneurs would imagine.

I spoke with Keath recently, and he said that creativity is less about inspiration and more about learning to solve problems. “Anyone can be creative,” he says, adding that creativity is a process that we fail to teach in schools or in business environments.

This is good news, though, because it means creativity isn’t something the muses bestow upon you. Rather than wait patiently for lightning to strike, you simply must learn the process. If you want to teach people to become creative on their own and within a group, a lot of it comes down to management, Keath notes.

The first step in bringing new ideas to the table is banishing the notion of bad ideas — early in the creative process, bad ideas are an essential building block to create a better final product. A lot of times, a bad idea can trigger a better idea.

“One person might have a bad idea he considers to be the obvious solution, but he doesn’t mention it to avoid looking stupid,” Keath says. “However, as obvious as that solution might seem to one person, it probably hasn’t occurred to 80 percent of the people in the group. Plus, even the most obvious solutions are useful to put on the board because connecting to that is another idea.”

One tactic to encourage your team to get over their fears of offering “bad” ideas is to require anonymous ideation prior to creative meetings. This allows people who don’t normally consider themselves creative to contribute to the solution. “Judgment kills great ideas,” Keath says. “To preempt judgment, ask people to come to the meeting with 10 or 20 possible solutions to the problem. Have the person organizing the meeting anonymize the answers, and suddenly, ideas can be discussed on their own merit without fear of rejection.”

4 Tactics for Cultivating On-Demand Creativity

If agency leaders want to infuse creativity and new ideas into their agencies — and communicate that value proposition to clients — the path is twofold. First, leaders and team members must learn to take new steps as individuals. Second, agencies need to create an environment that enables creative individuals to collaborate. Here’s how to accomplish both:

1) Encourage individual growth.

Most creative people have a core competency that they build upon by brushing up against life. This means seeking out new experiences and connecting them to the areas they know most about.

That connection between the known and the unknown encourages people to seek out new experiences rather than hide within their comfort zones. A hiker might not know much about photography, but learning to take better pictures of hiking spots combines a known pursuit (hiking) with an unknown (photography) and allows the person to explore new ideas without feeling overwhelmed.

2) Pursue new experiences.

To achieve great output, you first need great input. According to principals of neuroplasticity, experiencing new things enables us to make connections and think in ways that would have previously been impossible. Experiences big and small can inform our decisions in surprising ways down the road.

Think about it like this: You’ve just returned home from a long trip. You need to cook something to eat, but you’ve been gone for a while and the kitchen is bare. Now, compare that to a kitchen that has been stocked with a variety of ingredients. Creativity works similarly: It’s much easier to create something interesting when we have a lot of raw materials to work with.

3) Always present two ideas: one safe, one scary.

We constantly hear CMOs complain that their agencies are phoning it in. Same old ideas, same old approaches, same old results. Of course, CMOs share the blame by selecting safe ideas, but that doesn’t mean their point isn’t valid.

No matter how many times your agency’s wacky idea gets shut down, you need to continue to bring new thoughts to your presentations. The unusual idea won’t get selected often, but bringing something new to the table shows clients that you’re willing to do things differently. And if a client decides to go with the crazier idea, that provides an opportunity for an agency to showcase its talents.

4) Host company outings.

Most of us haven’t had a field trip since high school, but they can still provide meaningful learning experiences for adults. Whether it’s catching a new animated movie, visiting the art museum, strolling the zoo, or something completely off the beaten path, getting your team out of the office together in a low-pressure environment can generate surprising discussions. The more inputs people have — especially when they share those inputs outside of work — the more creative connections they can forge.

We love to tell clients to think more broadly about their goals, but if we don’t mix up our own experiences, we fall prey to the same traps we ask them to avoid. By seeking opportunities to broaden our own horizons and building processes that facilitate creative discussions, we can transform our agencies into creative powerhouses that are capable of handling any challenge.

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Apr

18

2017

How to Pick the Perfect Font Pairings for Your Website: 7 Free Tools

Published by in category Daily, Design, marketing agency | Comments are closed

With so many custom fonts readily available for download, selecting a combination of typefaces to feature on your next project can be an unexpected time sink. There are seemingly endless pairing possibilities — how can you be expected to choose?

Whether you’re diving into a major website redesign or a creating a simple infographic, you need a font combination that looks professional, polished, and doesn’t distract from your content. And you need it fast. 

These designers have heard your cries for help, and developed free tools to help you make better typeface pairings faster and more efficiently. Pairing fonts doesn’t have to be a lengthy guess-and-check process when you have the right tools at your fingertips. 

7 Free Tools for Selecting Font Pairings

1) Google Fonts

You’ve probably used Google Fonts at some point to select fonts for a web project, but did you know they also offer suggested font combinations?

From the list of available fonts, hover over a typeface. In the bottom left of the typeface preview area, click See Specimen.

This will open up a font preview page where you can enter preview text, adjust the background color of the page (using the paint bucket icon in the upper right corner of the page), and view information about the typeface’s history and usage. Towards the bottom of the page, you’ll see a section called “Popular Pairings with X.”

In this section, you can preview a selection of popular font combinations featuring your selected typeface. You can add complementary fonts directly to your Google Font library by clicking the “+” symbol beside each recommended pair. When a pairing is selected, you can use the up/down arrows beside the font names to change which typeface is used in the preview as the headline and which is used for body copy. 

2) Typ.io

This expertly curated database allows you to view trendy font combinations used on real websites, and take a peek at the CSS designers used to style and format them. Spend some time browsing through Typ.io’s impressive archives or categorized lists, and when you find a site that catches your eye, simply click “Get Under the Hood.”

This will let you view the exact fonts used on the website, see where the fonts are available for free download or purchase online, and scope out how the designer plugs them in on the back-end of things. Even if CSS isn’t really your area of expertise, Typ.io is still a useful tool for viewing professional typography combinations in action.

Typ.io also offers a useful search feature, enabling you to filter websites by primary font, desired font type, and font availability. You can even see which font combinations are popular on different types of websites (e.g., blogs, portfolios, etc).

3) Web Font Blender

Web Font Blender is a quick, intuitive way to test font combinations in a minimal environment. Set up like most text editing programs, this tool lets you mix and match different web font combos, edit the body, subheading, and headline copy, and adjust the styling of the preview text to your liking.

Choose from a wide selection of popular web fonts and play around with the settings to find a group of fonts that work well together. Once you have a combo you’re happy with, you can even grab the CSS for your creation under the “Grab Code” tab. 

4) Fonts In Use

Fonts In Use is an independent archive devoted to showcasing creative typography from designers around the world. Whether it’s a website, a print campaign, a package design, or something else entirely, the curation team at Fonts In Use is committed to uncovering interesting font combinations wherever they appear.

Scan through their archives for seemingly endless pages of inspiration, or check out examples of popular typography in your specific industry using the “Industries” option from the top drop-down menu. If you have a font in mind you want to use, but aren’t sure what font to pair with it, you can also filter results by typefaces.

5) Canva Font Combinations

This simple tool from Canva lets you select a font and instantly discover complementary typefaces and examples of your chosen font in action. Just pick a starting font from the main drop-down menu, and the tool will automatically produce some aesthetically pleasing combos for you to peruse.

Once you get a perfect match, you can edit the preview text to see how the fonts will look with your content.

6) Font Combinator

Font Combinator is a sleek typography tool developed by Typotheque, a type foundry and design studio based in The Hague, Netherlands. If you’re looking for a way to preview font combinations with lots of customization options, look no further.

Use the drop-down menu in the upper left to select a pre-made font selection designed by the Typotheque team, or use the settings to build and test custom font combinations of your own. You can adjust the size of any text group using the sliding bar above each section. Not loving the current combo? You can introduce a new font to the mix by dragging and dropping from the typeface list on the left.

7) Font Pair

Hayden Mills, a design student at Indiana University, developed this tool to help designers quickly and painlessly find proven font combinations using Google Fonts.

Organized by typeface categories, each of the combos featured on Font Pair are curated by Mills himself or suggested via a Google form available on the site. Want to plug in your own copy? You can click directly into any of the font pairing examples and edit the preview text anywhere on the site.

What are your current favorite font combinations?

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Apr

14

2017

6 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Freelance Graphic Designer

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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Hiring the wrong freelance graphic designer can make or break your brand or marketing objectives. A designer that can’t complete projects on time, lacks the ability to adapt to your brand aesthetic, or has never taken on the type of work you’re doing could cause you to lose business.

Regardless of the type of project you’re hiring a designer for, it’s important to make sure you’re bringing in the right person for the job. Pose these six questions to each candidate before making a hire.

6 Freelance Designer Interview Questions

1) What motivated you to apply for this project?

This question can reveal a lot about whether the graphic designer you’re interviewing is genuinely interested in your company and what they’ll be working on. If they aren’t, it’ll show in the final product — and that’s a losing situation for everyone.

Ask questions that gauge their knowledge of your business and goals, and observe how well their skills and interests align. You want a graphic designer who fundamentally understands what you are building and why it’s important. Ideally, they’ll already be familiar with your company or will have interacted with you as a customer in the past.

2) What is your workload like?

There’s a big difference between the level of attention you’ll get from your freelance designer if you’re providing a significant portion of their income versus sending them a small project here and there.

Before committing to a contract, set clear expectations around your requirements. Will you need closer to five or 40 hours of their time each week? Find out how booked up they are with other clients and if it’s realistic for them to take on your project given your expectations and their other commitments.

3) Can you describe your design aesthetic?

A critical factor to consider when hiring a graphic designer is whether their work aligns with the overall design aesthetic you envision for your project.

If the designer you’re considering has a portfolio full of edgy, hand-illustrated black-and-white cartoon characters, they might not be the best fit to work with a mature brand that wants to appear authoritative. It’s a good idea to look through the designer’s work to get a sense of whether their aesthetic jibes with your vision before getting too far into the interview process, but be sure to ask this question regardless.

4) What is your design process like?

The graphic designer you’re considering should be able to articulate a clear path to achieving your desired results. An inability to do so could mean they don’t have enough experience to suit your needs.

For example, here’s how veteran graphic designer Ian Paget of Logo Geek kicks off a project with a new client: “I start my design process by creating a list of goals that can be used as a tick-list to refer to during the design phase and when selecting the best solution. We cover areas such as the brand’s story, values, competition and target audience.”

Having a well-defined, agreed upon design process like this is key to the success of the designer-client relationship.

5) How would your other clients describe working with you?

When a graphic designer has a page of their portfolio website dedicated to testimonials or keeps an offline copy of positive reviews they’ve received from past clients, it tells you their customers are happy with their results and willing to publicly vouch for them. If they don’t offer to share, just ask.

However, if they’re unable to produce a few positive testimonials, that’s might be an indication they are unable to sustain good client relationships or produce quality results. Tread lightly.

6) Do you have a blog?

Graphic designers who have a blog and actively take steps to showcase their domain expertise are more likely to bring additional value, advice, and experience to the table –beyond the deliverables you’ve agreed upon. The right graphic designer with an active social media following or established personal brand can help create more than just a new style for your company; they can become a worthy advocate, too.

As for who should be asking the questions: If your graphic designer will be working hand-in-hand with other members of your content team such as writers and marketers, it’s essential these stakeholders have a say during the interview process. Aside from being able to weigh in on whether they like the designer’s work or not, your other team members’ inputs are valuable for a few reasons: they will have a close pulse on anticipating the timing for upcoming projects, an understanding of the deliverables, and will likely be the ones interacting most with the designer on a day-to-day basis.

These six questions will ensure you come out of the interview with a clear sense of whether the graphic designer candidate is right for the job. When you and the person you hire are on the same page, you’ll cultivate a better rapport and get mutually beneficial results.

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Apr

12

2017

15 Common Logical Fallacies and How to Spot Them

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

Logical fallacies — those logical gaps that invalidate arguments — aren’t always easy to spot.

While some come in the form of loud, glaring inconsistencies, others can easily fly under the radar, sneaking into everyday meetings and conversations undetected.

Having an understanding of these basic logical fallacies can help you more confidently parse the arguments and claims you participate in and witness on a daily basis — separating fact from sharply dressed fiction.

Our list is by no means an exhaustive guide to every formal and informal fallacy, but it should help you build better arguments and identify logical missteps. 

15 Common Logical Fallacies

1) The Straw Man Fallacy

This fallacy occurs when your opponent over-simplifies or misrepresents your argument (i.e., setting up a “straw man”) to make it easier to attack or refute. Instead of fully addressing your actual argument, speakers relying on this fallacy present a superficially similar — but ultimately not equal — version of your real stance, helping them create the illusion of easily defeating you.

Example:

John: I think we should hire someone to redesign our website.

Lola: You’re saying we should throw our money away on external resources instead of building up our in-house design team? That’s going to hurt our company in the long run.

2) The Bandwagon Fallacy

Just because a significant population of people believe a proposition is true, doesn’t automatically make it true. Popularity alone is not enough to validate an argument, though it’s often used as a standalone justification of validity. Arguments in this style don’t take into account whether or not the population validating the argument is actually qualified to do so, or if contrary evidence exists.

While most of us expect to see bandwagon arguments in advertising (e.g., “three out of four people think X brand toothpaste cleans teeth best”), this fallacy can easily sneak it’s way into everyday meetings and conversations.

Example:

The majority of people believe advertisers should spend more money on billboards, so billboards are objectively the best form of advertisement.

3) The Appeal to Authority Fallacy

While appeals to authority are by no means always fallacious, they can quickly become dangerous when you rely too heavily on the opinion of a single person — especially if that person is attempting to validate something outside of their expertise.

Getting an authority figure to back your proposition can be a powerful addition to an existing argument, but it can’t be the pillar your entire argument rests on. Just because someone in a position of power believes something to be true, doesn’t make it true.

Example:

Despite the fact that our Q4 numbers are much lower than usual, we should push forward using the same strategy because our CEO Barbara says this is the best approach.

4) The False Dilemma Fallacy

This common fallacy misleads by presenting complex issues in terms of two inherently opposed sides. Instead of acknowledging that most (if not all) issues can be thought of on a spectrum of possibilities and stances, the false dilemma fallacy asserts that there are only two mutually exclusive outcomes.

This fallacy is particularly problematic because it can lend false credence to extreme stances, ignoring opportunities for compromise or chances to re-frame the issue in a new way.

Example:

We can either agree with Barbara’s plan, or just let the project fail. There is no other option.

5) The Hasty Generalization Fallacy

This fallacy occurs when someone draws expansive conclusions based on inadequate or insufficient evidence. In other words, they jump to conclusions about the validity of a proposition with some — but not enough — evidence to back it up, and overlook potential counterarguments. 

Example:

Two members of my team have become more engaged employees after taking public speaking classes. That proves we should have mandatory public speaking classes for the whole company to improve employee engagement.

6) The Slothful Induction Fallacy

Slothful induction is the exact inverse of the hasty generalization fallacy above. This fallacy occurs when sufficient logical evidence strongly indicates a particular conclusion is true, but someone fails to acknowledge it, instead attributing the outcome to coincidence or something unrelated entirely.

Example:

Even though every project Brad has managed in the last two years has run way behind schedule, I still think we can chalk it up to unfortunate circumstances, not his project management skills.

7) The Correlation/Causation Fallacy

If two things appear to be correlated, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that one of those things irrefutably caused the other thing. This might seem like an obvious fallacy to spot, but it can be challenging to catch in practice — particularly when you really want to find a correlation between two points of data to prove your point.

Example:

Our blog views were down in April. We also changed the color of our blog header in April. This means that changing the color of the blog header led to less views in April.

8) The Anecdotal Evidence Fallacy

In place of logical evidence, this fallacy substitutes examples from someone’s personal experience. Arguments that rely heavily on anecdotal evidence tend to overlook the fact that one (possibly isolated) example can’t stand alone as definitive proof of a greater premise.

Example:

One of our clients doubled their conversions after changing all their landing page text to bright red. Therefore, changing all text to red is a proven way to double conversions.

9) The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

This fallacy gets its colorful name from an anecdote about a Texan who fires his gun at a barn wall, and then proceeds to paint a target around the closest cluster of bullet holes. He then points at the bullet-riddled target as evidence of his expert marksmanship.

Speakers who rely on the Texas sharpshooter fallacy tend to cherry-pick data clusters based on a predetermined conclusion. Instead of letting a full spectrum of evidence lead them to a logical conclusion, they find patterns and correlations in support of their goals, and ignore evidence that contradicts them or suggests the clusters weren’t actually statistically significant. 

Example:

Lisa sold her first startup to an influential tech company, so she must be a successful entrepreneur. (She ignores the fact that four of her startups have failed since then.)

10) The Middle Ground Fallacy

This fallacy assumes that a compromise between two extreme conflicting points is always true. Arguments of this style ignore the possibility that one or both of the extremes could be completely true or false — rendering any form of compromise between the two invalid as well.

Example:

Lola thinks the best way to improve conversions is to redesign the entire company website, but John is firmly against making any changes to the website. Therefore, the best approach is to redesign some portions of the website.

11) The Burden of Proof Fallacy

If a person claims that X is true, it is their responsibility to provide evidence in support of that assertion. It is invalid to claim that X is true until someone else can prove that X is not true. Similarly, it is also invalid to claim that X is true because it’s impossible to prove that X is false.

In other words, just because there is no evidence presented against something, that doesn’t automatically make that thing true.

Example:

Barbara believes the marketing agency’s office is haunted, since no one has ever proven that it isn’t haunted.

12) The Personal Incredulity Fallacy

If you have difficulty understanding how or why something is true, that doesn’t automatically mean the thing in question is false. A personal or collective lack of understanding isn’t enough to render a claim invalid.

Example:

I don’t understand how redesigning our website resulted in more conversions, so there must have been another factor at play. 

13) The “No True Scotsman” Fallacy

Often used to protect assertions that rely on universal generalizations (like “all Marketers love pie”) this fallacy inaccurately deflects counterexamples to a claim by changing the positioning or conditions of the original claim to exclude the counterexample.

In other words, instead of acknolwedging that a counterexample to their original claim exists, the speaker ammends the terms of the claim. In the example below, when Barabara presents a valid counterexample to John’s claim, John changes the terms of his claim to exclude Barbara’s counterexample.

Example:

John: No marketer would ever put two call-to-actions on a single landing page.

Barbara: Lola, a marketer, actually found great success putting two call-to-actions on a single landing page for our last campaign. 

John: Well, no true marketer would put two call-to-actions on a single landing page, so Lola must not be a true marketer. 

14) The Tu quoque Fallacy

The tu quoque fallacy (Latin for “you also”) is an invalid attempt to discredit an opponent by answering criticism with criticism — but never actually presenting a counterargument to the original disputed claim. 

In the example below, Lola makes a claim. Instead of presenting evidence against Lola’s claim, John levels a claim against Lola. This attack doesn’t actually help John succeed in proving Lola wrong, since he doesn’t address her original claim in any capacity.

Example:

Lola: I don’t think John would be a good fit to manage this project, because he doesn’t have a lot of experience with project management.

John: But you don’t have a lot of experience in project management either!

15) The Fallacy Fallacy

Here’s something vital to keep in mind when sniffing out fallacies: just because someone’s argument relies on a fallacy doesn’t necessarily mean that their claim is inherently untrue.

Making a fallacy-riddled claim doesn’t automatically invalidate the premise of the argument — it just means the argument doesn’t actually validate their premise. In other words, their argument sucks, but they aren’t necessarily wrong. 

Example: 

John’s argument in favor of redesigning the company website clearly relied heavily on cherry-picked statistics in support of his claim, so Lola decided that redesigning the website must not be a good decision.  

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Apr

11

2017

What Color Should Your Logo Be? How to Pick the Perfect Color [Infographic]

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

Color has a major impact on how we perceive the world around us. 

Research has shown that the psychology of color can not only influence the way food tastes, the way some medicines perform, and the way we feel — it can also play a massive role in our brand preferences and buying habits.  

But selecting the right colors for your company logo (or a client’s logo) can be tricky. You want the color scheme to attract your company’s target consumers and elicit positive emotions, but your own personal color preferences can easily get in the way. 

Just because blue is your absolute favorite color, it doesn’t mean your target persona feels the same way. You need to put yourself firmly in their shoes to find a color scheme that reflects their preferences, habits, and interests. 

How to Pick the Perfect Color for Your Logo

This quirky flowchart from the folks at 99designs can help you select the perfect colors for your next logo design project. Just imagine your brand is a person, and answer the questions below. The flowchart will lead you to a color combo that suits your brand’s personality and reflects the image you want to project to consumers. 

Image Credit: 99designs

What colors are your favorite brand’s logos? Let us know in the comments.

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Apr

7

2017

The Most Searched Agency Services, According to the Time of Year [New Data]

Published by in category marketing agency | Comments are closed

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According to the latest Top Agency Trends Report from Agency Spotter, marketers and brands search for different services depending on the time of the year. Knowing which services to offer and emphasize at different times of the year could help your agency stand above your competition. These search trends, based on seasonality, come down to a couple of different factors based on what companies are looking to accomplish at different times of the year.

The report covers marketing services trends based on data from more than 120,000 unique users and three years, data on service seasonality, the top 25 agency services being searched, and the rise of project-based engagements.

Let’s dig in.

Marketing Services Searched More in the First Half of the Year

As companies begin the new year, they are looking to establish initiatives that are relatively quick fixes and do not take as much time to implement. Business leaders often take a look at their marketing data from the past year and see which areas need more attention or may have fallen down the to-do list.

Looking at the Trends Report, we can see that services like content marketing, PR, SEO, data analytics, shopper marketing, and events all perform better in the first half of the year. From the top 25 agency services for 2016, content marketing took the 7th spot as the most searched service from marketers all year. Interestingly, if you divide the list into H1 and H2, you can see that content marketing was 9th in H1 but did not even make the Top 25 in H2.

Content marketing is becoming increasingly important for all companies to utilize because it helps attract and inform customers and potential customers. But if you think about it, companies don’t generally set a content calendar at the end of the year — they tend to do that at the beginning of the year. Same thing goes for SEO and PR.

Check out the list below to see which keywords fall off or perform better at a certain time of year, and then optimize your site accordingly.

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Agency Services Perform Better in H2

Taking a look at the data, services like ecommerce, branding, UX design, email marketing, and CRM automation all perform better in the second half of the year. These align with initiatives that take more planning and are services that many companies want to have ready before the start of a new year.

Design-based services like ecommerce, branding, and UX all have to do with experiences that directly interact with customers. A website redesign or branding makeover are usually planned in the middle of the year so that companies are ready to debut their new look in the new year.

As you can see in the report, ecommerce went from 18th most searched in H1 to 5th in H2, branding from 12th to 6th, and UX took the 9th spot despite not even appearing on the H1 list.

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Services Shopped Consistently Year Round

There are also agency services whose demand remains stable throughout the year.

The big services like advertising, web design, digital, social media, and marketing perform all year. Use this data to better understand the behavior of your customers and when they are searching.

Finally, here are the biggest shifts from 2015 to 2016:

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Knowing what services perform better throughout the year can help your agency strategically position business development, staffing, and other factors to help your agency rise above the competition. For more information about the marketing service industry, download the free Agency Spotter Agency Trends Report.

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Apr

5

2017

Marketers, This Is the Best Way to Truly Serve a Nonprofit

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

We all want to do good in the world. Agencies have a strong tradition of taking on pro bono work for nonprofits — this sometimes means designing a logo or creating a brochure; other times it’s sponsoring an event, or even just simply offering advice.

Those things serve an immediate need, but they don’t necessarily make a lasting impact.

If you want to make a substantial difference, dive deeper: Adopt a nonprofit for one year, and treat it like a paying client. It’s a mutually beneficial strategy: The nonprofit gets high-quality attention and resources, and the agency gets an infusion of positive exposure.

How Agencies Can Serve Non-Profits

Finding a Great Match

There are thousands of amazing organizations out there — choosing just one is difficult. To select a nonprofit that will benefit from your services, send out an application that asks organizations to explain their mission and goals.

One requirement of your adoption should be that your agency will make a quarterly presentation to the nonprofit’s board, updating them on progress and next steps. Why does this matter? Because community and business leaders tend to be active in the nonprofit scene, so the potential connections could prove invaluable.

When making your selection, consider each nonprofit’s board membership. Does the board include individuals who would be beneficial for your agency to get in front of? Any potential business prospects? The nonprofit itself probably won’t be able to hire your agency after the yearlong adoption, but if you can score just one client from its board, that’s a great return on investment.

Partnering with a nonprofit benefits your agency beyond the bottom line. According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, nearly two-thirds of CEOs are increasing their corporate social responsibility efforts, in part in pursuit of intangible benefits such as bolstered consumer trust. Studies have shown that workplace philanthropy initiatives improve employee morale, increase motivation, and boost the company’s reputation among employees. It will also improve your agency’s reputation and broaden its exposure.

Begin the relationship like you would with any other client. Take the nonprofit through your discovery process to learn everything you can about what it’s trying to accomplish, the resources it has available, what’s worked for the organization in the past, and what’s been challenging.

An All-Around Win

When you adopt a nonprofit for a year, you change its trajectory. My agency has been doing this for more than a decade, and we’ve never had a nonprofit say we didn’t make a difference.

Just taking nonprofits through our discovery process points them in a better direction. We help them articulate their message. We force them to get clear about who they are, what they do, who they help, and what they need from the community to deliver those services. 

How can you make the biggest impact? Help nonprofits create events or improve upon them. For instance, one nonprofit we adopted held an annual event that brought in $25,000. We revamped the soiree, and it now nets more than $300,000 each year. Talk about a sustainable, lasting difference.

Adopting a nonprofit is, of course, about leveraging your resources to do good, but there’s no reason why you can’t get some traction out of the initiative, too. Once you make your selection, send out a news release. Throughout the year, report on your progress and what your partnership has accomplished.

5 Steps for Making a Big Difference

Any work you do for a nonprofit helps it carry out its mission. But to maximize the good your agency does, take these five steps.

1) Create your adoption plan.

Drum up a PR plan for how to get the word out to nonprofits about your adoption initiative. Press releases work well — it’s a feel-good story, so the local media will usually be more than happy to spread the information. Consider calling up your local United Way and asking it to notify the nonprofits it serves.

2) Select the nonprofit.

Use specific criteria to select the perfect nonprofit for your agency. The organization should align with your company culture and champion a cause you and your team care about. Also, consider what difference you’ll be able to make in both the short and long term — even if your team is passionate about a cause, it won’t be a good partnership if there’s not much of an impact to be made.

3) Align with the proper vendors.

In some cases, the nonprofit may have needs that go beyond your agency’s skill set. If that’s the case, it helps to have a network of vendors you can call on to join the cause. These vendors can include audio companies, videographers, web developers, photographers, or others.

4) Treat the nonprofit like it’s a paying client.

The discovery process is essential for figuring out what the nonprofit needs. Learn what resources it has available and what its team can take care of. Think through what you can do for the nonprofit, as well as any skills or strategies you can add to its toolbox so it can sustain the marketing strategy year after year.

5) Keep the process going.

If you’re doing things right, word will get out about your nonprofit work. Be sure to maintain a spot on your website to outline your initiative, share news, and provide the application for other organizations to apply next year. Make sure the application deadline remains the same year after year so nonprofits always know when to apply.

If you want to truly make a difference, adopt a nonprofit for a year. The organization and the community it serves will benefit, your agency will get great exposure, and, if you do it right, you’ll net some new clients along the way. It’s good for business, and it’ll make you feel good, too.

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Apr

4

2017

7 Creative Stunts People Used to Land Their Marketing Dream Jobs

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

If you want a creative job in a competitive industry, sometimes the traditional resume and cover letter combo just doesn’t cut it.

To get the attention of a hiring manager at a top agency, you’ll need something that highlights your assets, proves your intense interest in the agency, and differentiates you from a crowd of people trying to do the exact same thing — all without seeming too over-the-top, gimmicky, or creepy.

No sweat, right? 

For your inspiration and amusement, we’ve put together a list of seven creative approaches used by real job seekers in the marketing and advertising industries. While flashy stunts alone aren’t likely to land you the job, they just might help you get your foot in the door. Check out the marketing stunts below.

7 Creative Stunts People Used to Land Their Marketing Dream Jobs

1) Pretending to be a Prospective Client

August Laustsen, a young art director from Denmark seeking an agency gig in Sweden, was having difficulty landing an interview. Despite sending his resume to all the big agencies in Stockholm, he couldn’t seem to even get a call back. Instead of throwing in the towel, Lausten devised a sneaky and brilliant way to get some agency attention.

The thing is, when you’re looking for a job in another country, it’s impossible to get through if you don’t have any connections,” Lausten said to Adweek. “None of the CDs [creative directors] knew me, or any of the work that I had done, so I knew I had to take it a step further to get their attention.”

Lausten contacted a number of Swedish agencies pretending to be the marketing director of a firm looking to hire a new agency. He called his fictional firm EMERIH (Yep, that’s “Hire Me” spelled backwards), and set up a website revealing his true intentions as a job seeker.

So did the fake prospect stunt work out? Agencies received Lausten’s bold move “very positively,” and according to his website, he’s now employed as an art director at Round&Round in Stockholm. 


Image Credit: August Lausten

2) Brewing a Custom Beer Resume

If there was ever a foolproof formula for ensuring your resume doesn’t end up at the bottom of the pile, it’s probably this:

Resume + Beer = “Resum-ale” 

Looking to start his job search off with something memorable (and tasty), graphic designer Brennan Gleason decided to brew up a custom beer and design the packaging himself. Each bottle in the four-pack was printed with a portion of his resume, as well as a QR-code to view his full resume online.

“As I was nearing the end of University, the time approached where I needed to start getting my name out there,” Gleason wrote on Behance. “I wanted a resume that would both show off my work, but more importantly who I was and what I loved. I brewed up a nice Blonde Ale, and while that was fermenting I set out to create a packaging design that would reflect my personal identity.”

According to his Dribble account, Gleason currently works for Vancouver-based agency Domain7


Image Credit: Brennan Gleason

3) Personally Delivering Donuts

When 25-year-old Lithuanian marketer Lukas Yla moved to San Francisco, he knew he’d have to do something unconventional to break into the extremely competitive marketing and tech scene.

His solution? Dress up as a Postmates delivery courier to personally deliver donuts to the companies he admired — with his resume attached, of course. In October 2016, Yla made over 40 donut deliveries across the Bay Area, dropping off treat-filled boxes emblazoned with some catchy copy: “Most resumes end up in the trash. Mine — in your belly.”

Yla admits the sugary stunt was “a bit odd,” but it ended up earning Yla some much-deserved viral attention . More importantly, the move scored Yla multiple interviews (although according to his LinkedIn he’s still on the search for the perfect marketing gig). 


Image via Adweek

4) Buying a Billboard

After Pasha Stocking was laid off from her job as a marketing and sales director in Connecticut back in 2009, she took all the usual steps to find a new job: sending resumes to prospective employers, going to job fairs, and even registering with temp agencies. After toughing it out in a harsh job market for eight months without any big leads, she knew it was time for something big.

Stocking took $2000 out of her savings and purchased a massive billboard overlooking a busy highway in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She kept everything straightforward and uncomplicated: just a picture of herself, a link to her website, and copy that plainly spelled out her ultimate objective — “HIRE ME!”

While the billboard didn’t end up getting Stocking any offers she seriously considered, it did lead her to start her own print advertising company, specializing in — you guessed it — billboards.


Image Credit: The New York Times

5) Hacking the Agency’s File-Sharing System to Deliver a Resume

As the Chief Creative Officer at 72andSunny, Glenn Cole has witnessed his fair share of stunts from eager agency job seekers. But what has really stood out to him over the years?

“I’ve had a couple of people hack personal accounts to get my attention, which I find really clever,” Cold told Fast Company. In one instance, a prospective candidate hacked the agency’s internal file-sharing service and sent an email containing their resume to every creative director at 72andSunny. The email appeared to be sent from Cole himself.

While the bid for attention impressed Cole, the candidate ultimately wasn’t offered a job (although Cole says they’re still on the agency’s radar for future positions). 

Disclaimer: We don’t recommend hacking a prospective employer to get attention.


6) Writing a “Hire Me” Song

With a Marketing degree from Bentley University and several unpaid internships under his belt, Alec Biedrzycki still wasn’t getting job offers in his field. So he picked up his guitar and wrote a song about it.

“Hire Me” is a three-minute music video Biedrzycki created back in 2009 to use in place of a traditional resume and cover letter. While alternative video resumes are more common today, they were still relatively unheard of when he started sending his song out to employers.

Did the video really help Biedrzycki break into the industry? “I … was jobless and discouraged post-graduation due to the 2008 market crash,” Biedrzycki said. “My career didn’t really start until I launched this in 2009. Connections were made, interviews were set up and I eventually landed a job at an agency later that year. Launching this made me feel like I could pursue a career in marketing, even if the odds were against me.”

Today, Biedrzycki is a Principal Tech Partner Marketing Manager at HubSpot. 

7) Buying Google Ads for Advertising Executives’ Names

When Alec Brownstein was searching for a new job in 2010, he stumbled upon an unlikely opportunity for self-promotion. 

“I was doing a little bit of research on who I wanted to work for, and of course I was using Google, and I noticed when I Googled their names, that there were no sponsored links at the top, no ads there,” Brownstein said to CBS News. “And as someone who Googles myself sort of embarrassingly frequently, I realized if someone were to put someone at the top of my result, I would notice it.”

So Brownstein went ahead and purchased the top result for “Ian Reichenthal,” a creative director at Young and Rubicam. It cost him 15 cents. 

Sure enough, Reichenthal saw the ad after Googling himself, called Brownstein, and ended up hiring him


Image Credit: Alec Brownstein via YouTube
 

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Mar

31

2017

6 Steps to Transform Your Agency Leaders Into Consistent Content Creators

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

If you’re fortunate enough to work at an agency full of brilliant individuals, you’ve probably experienced the following:

You’re in a leadership meeting debating different approaches to solving a problem, and a lot of ideas are on the table. Suddenly, someone’s voice cuts through the noise, and what she shares is so inspirational and well thought out that you find yourself scrambling for a pen and paper to write it all down.

She’s one of your agency’s subject matter experts.

She understands the industry, your clients, and your company so well that ideas and solutions come to her like in a dream. You know your audience would benefit from her knowledge, and you know she should be creating content.

But how does your team turn that realization into reality? Here’s what you need to do to transform your internal expert into a consistent content creator.

First things first: Put yourself in her shoes. If you’re active in your industry, involved in your company, and leading your team forward in such a way that you’re a great candidate for thought leadership, do you think you’ll have extra time to get into the weeds with any one area of your agency — especially inbound marketing? It’s just not realistic.

You can’t go up to this leader and say, “Hey, all those amazing things you said in our meeting? I’d love for you to write 800 words about it, follow these publication guidelines, and fit the documented content strategy that Marketing put together. Thanks!”

She’s going to need a team to help her. Whether you budget for an in-house content marketing team or decide to outsource, you’ll need at least a project manager, a content strategist, a writer, an editor, and a distribution specialist.

Next, you need to think about tools. You’re probably already using a number of different tools to support your marketing and advertising efforts today — about 12 of them, on average. Take stock of what you’re working with already, and compare their functions to what you need to make content creation easy for internal experts. Different teams may want different platforms to help with their specific functions, but there are three types of tools every team can benefit from:

  • A knowledge bank: This customizable tool stores and organizes all those amazing ideas your thought leader has.
  • An editorial calendar: Built with your agency’s goals and capacity in mind, this calendar keeps your team and your content on track.
  • Social distribution tools: Content isn’t finished once it’s live; it’s up to your team to distribute it to your audience.

Finally, consider the process. The process your team puts in place to work with your thought leader can make or break the experience — and the success of your agency’s efforts. Some experts are natural writers and may want a larger role in the process; others enjoy the act of storytelling but prefer to leave the details to their teams.

Each agency’s process is unique. Based on my personal experiences and what I’ve learned from five years of leading a company that helps thought leaders create content, the best processes include these six steps:

1) Discover the thought leader’s passions and expertise. 

To keep your thought leader engaged, tackle topics and projects that truly interest her. In those first meetings, encourage your team to uncover what she’s passionate about and where her strongest expertise lies. What they learn in this step will guide their content strategy.

2) Determine the best strategy to communicate that passion and expertise. 

Next, your team will need to document the strategy that will help your thought leader communicate her passion and expertise. It can be as robust or as simple as your team likes — as long as it includes a description of your agency’s goals for thought leadership, which publications you’re targeting, who your audience is, and how you’ll bring those elements together. Documenting this strategy will remind your expert of the rhyme and reason behind the content your team creates, and it will align your various marketing efforts.

3) Set up a process for knowledge extraction that plays to the thought leader’s strengths. 

Knowledge extraction is your team’s way of drawing expertise, examples, and personal stories from your thought leader to fuel the content. Rather than ask for a write-up from your expert, your team can ask her specific questions to gain the raw material needed to craft an article. That material can be stored in your knowledge bank and even used to write future pieces of content.

A Q&A process works well here, and depending on your expert’s strengths, your team can aim for a written Q&A or an interview in person or over the phone. Tailor the approach to how your thought leader best communicates and what saves everyone the most time.

4) Create awesome content she’ll love.

This is your thought leader’s chance for a break. With the answers collected in the knowledge extraction phase, your team’s writers and editors can get to work crafting the content. By removing the thought leader from the heavy lifting of actual writing, your team utilizes her time intelligently — and all that extra time means she’ll have the chance to review the finished work and ensure it’s written in her voice.

5) Coordinate publishing.

Unless your thought leader’s expertise somehow happens to be in online publications (and she has the time to manage those editorial relationships), your content team should take the reins here, too. Enlist your distribution specialist to pitch content to your target publication, work with the editors there to make any necessary changes, and publish your thought leadership content.

6) Coach her on promoting the published content.

Take advantage of the time between content acceptance and publication to prepare materials to help your thought leader promote her published content. Encourage your team to write social media posts, and suggest online communities for your thought leader to participate in. Draft emails to share content with your partners and clients. Prep your sales team on ways to leverage this content in sales conversations. The better her content performs, the better your shot will be at contributing to that publication again.

Remember, your subject matter experts probably won’t have the time or know-how to run a full content team, become a published thought leader, and maintain consistency all on their own. Pair your internal experts with a fantastic content team, the right tools, and a solid process, and you can create engaging, authentic content that drives results for your agency.

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