How Creative Fatigue Impacts Your Marketing

Marketing is a creative endeavor. No matter what you're promoting, you need to consider your customer's needs and figure out the best way to communicate with them. There's no such thing as a perfect marketing campaign. Even when you're successful you need to constantly revise your message and keep it fresh. This is where creative fatigue often sets in. You find yourself in a rut, unable to think of new and exciting approaches. Let's look at why this happens and what you can do to overcome it.

Topics: Marketing Strategy marketing strategies

What is Integrated Marketing, and Should Your Agency Promote It?

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: integrated marketing. No matter what that means, it sure sounds fancy. That's probably why so many marketing agencies now claim to be experts in this field.

And yet, as you probably already know, there is more to marketing than fancy jargon. Sure, you have to understand exactly what integrated marketing actually means. But once you do, you might come to the same conclusion we have: it's such a natural concept that it shouldn't even be mentioned. When you get to that point, you might just reconsider how you evaluate potential marketing partners.

What is Integrated Marketing?

While the general concept is as old as corporate communication itself, the first formal definition hails from the late 1980s. In his landmark book Integrated Marketing Communications, Don Schultz (a professor at Northwestern University) formulated a strategy to bring all brand-related communications under a single roof.

The goal: to manage "all sources of information about a product which behaviorally moves the customer toward a sale and maintains loyalty." If that sounds elementary, it just might be. But it's important to understand that during this time, marketing communications was fragmented. Media relations, advertising, and other channels were often represented by very different departments and purposes.

Formal integrated marketing seeks to unify the process of communication with internal and external audiences. The idea is to focus on the consumer. For your business, PR and advertising may be different functions. But for your audience, they're both different expressions of the same brand and should be treated consistently as a result.

In today's fragmented media environment, that concept is more important than ever. Consider, for instance, an average female in her late 20s. During a given day, she may:

  • Listen to Spotify on her way to work
  • Check her phone for Instagram and Facebook updates
  • Browse Google or Apple News for relevant stories to her work
  • Drive past a billboard on her evening commute
  • Watch Hulu on her tablet or laptop.

During any of these (any countless other) activities, this member of your target audience will get countless brand messages. Even as a potential B2B buyer, she will interact with a wide range of digital and traditional media. The only way to stand out is to take a multi-channel approach, reaching her in various ways to break past the noise and competition.

Of course, she will only make the connection if all of the messaging follows the same, consistent patterns, visuals, voice, and tone. That, in a nutshell, is integrated marketing.

Why Do So Many Agencies Claim to be Integrated?

Because it sounds good. Is that too simplistic? Maybe. But at its core, that's exactly why so many marketing agencies tout the fact that they are fully integrated. 

Make no mistake: as established above, integrated marketing is a positive concept. In fact, it might even be essential to any modern marketing success. So naturally, agencies are bumping each other looking to get to the front row of potential clients' eyes. Look at me! Aren't you impressed with how integrated our marketing is?

At first glance, you might be. Which is exactly why their promotional materials highlight that fact so much. It's just one of those jargon words, used by those you expect to be authorities in the field. So as a result, an  increasing number of marketing agencies are using it to establish themselves as just that.

4 Reasons to Not Fall for the Promise of an Integrated Marketing Agency

Agencies claim to be integrated. Now, you know exactly what that means. So should you be persuaded by it? At first sight, the answer may appear to be yes. But then you look beyond that first impression, and the reality is not as pretty. In fact, here are 4 reasons you might not want to partner with an agency that bases its expertise and credibility on the fact that they're 'integrated.'

1) It Doesn't Actually Say Much

Over the years, IMC has gone from being a relatively new business concept to status quo. In the process, the term itself has gotten diluted. You will now see countless agencies claiming it as their own, without actually explaining what it means.

When they do, the explanations all tend to be similar: we build your business by integrating multiple media channels. But for any marketing agency offering services beyond a single channel, that should be a given. The term has lost its meaning, simply because it's a core assumption of any successful marketing today.

2) Real Marketing Results Might Differ From Claims

Be wary of any vendor or partner who cannot back up their claims. It's easy to build an entire web presence around the fact that the agency offers integrated marketing services. But is that actually the case?

It might be. Then again, it might not. Look not just for the tagline or business mantra, but real-life evidence of integration. That evidence should present itself in case studies, client portfolios, and third-party references rather than a brand-based marketing claim. 

3) The Chicken and Egg Argument of Credibility

As you evaluate potential marketing partners, pay special attention to the causation of any integrated marketing claim: is it based on a history of actual, tangible integration, or used purposely to build credibility in the eyes of potential clients?

Too often, it's the latter. Be weary of cheap marketing tricks designed to seem authentic. Yes, the agency might have been built during the times when Schultz first coined the term. More likely, though, they were simply looking for the words most clients respond to. Anytime you see integration used as a way to build instead of showing credibility, look in a different direction.

4) If It's Essential to Marketing, Why Even Claim it?

Modern marketing is integrated. It's impossible to stand out in today's noisy media environment without building a multi-channel approach. A customer-centric focus is familiar to any company looking to build its marketing strategy on the basic buyer's journey.

That, in turn, leads to a simple conclusion: any modern marketing agency, almost by default, needs to be integrated. Promoting it as a core competency is stating the obvious. It's akin to a dairy farm claiming that its milk is fresh. That should be a basic assumption, not a differentiating factor.

As you look for potential marketing partners, should you consider how well they integrate an omnichannel approach to build a single voice for your brand? Absolutely. But in today's environment, that just means finding a competent marketing agency. It's a core assumption of the business. Any vendor who seeks to specifically highlight it might not be the right fit to truly elevate your marketing efforts. Contact us to get started on finding the right partner.

 

SPEAK TO A STRATEGIST

Topics: marketing tips marketing strategies Integrated Marketing

Three Ways to Make Better Content Faster

'Better' is a tricky idea. When you're creating content, of course, you want high-quality productions that establish your expertise and persuade leads to become customers. But your audience has a clear-cut view of better: immediate answers, entertaining or easy to absorb information, and topical articles. Here's how to make them:

Topics: Marketing Strategy Writing succesful content content engagement marketing strategies

5 Behind-the-Scenes Tactics for Reaching New Audiences with Your Content

Writing a good blog post isn't the only way to create good content. If you want to be seen by as many potential customers in your target market as possible, your content needs to be just as diverse as your audience. Textual, audio, and image-based content are all great ways to reach your audience. You can also reach your audience through email, social media, and on other people's sites. Both the material type and the platform can change to broaden your message. 

Topics: Content marketing Writing succesful content content engagement marketing strategies

How to Build Your Email List to Support a Consulting Business

Every business needs an email list. Even though email is one of the oldest forms of online communication, the tool is still going strong for every possible type of personal and business communication. With the right tools, like automated email marketing tracks and customized templates, it can be an even stronger way to reach your market.

But every business also needs a slightly different email list, so measure your lead nurturing stats to see where you need to focus. If you sell products, then you need to build up a list of people who need a specific product and subsequent, related products. If you sell a subscription service, you want a large group of recipients who will continue to have the same problem over a long period of time. Even these two categories aren't enough to specify the specific audience you need based on the types of products and services you sell. 

If you have a consulting business, your target market is a very particular set of individuals, and that means you need to craft a specific strategy to reach consumers and business owners. Luckily, the type of consulting work you offer won't change the general outline of the steps you need to take. Whether you offer professional advice on how to become an optician, how to set up self-employment retirement accounts, or how to grow an appliance repair business, there's a process to build your email subscribers. Here's what you need to do:

1. Create a free course.

Content marketing is the best way to increase traffic to your site. Through blog posts, content giveaways, and white papers, you can build up SEO credit and convince human visitors that you're an industry expert. 

But that type of content marketing isn't the only way to reach new audiences with content. Instead, showcase your knowledge on a third-party course site like SkillShare or Udemy. Audiovisual content is often more attractive to audiences than wordy, long-form articles, and it also puts you in the place of being an authority. Even better, the people who find your course are already in the mindset of wanting to learn a skill or solve a problem. They're halfway down their buyer's journey and you can step in easily.

Your first free course shouldn't be a gold mine of everything you know. Instead, it should be a basic overview showing your target market how to solve a problem at the very beginning of their journey. For example, if your business offers consulting services to independent opticians and medical offices, give a basic overview of how to become an optician or the X number of crucial elements to running a medical office. This is simple, basic information that you don't have to invest a lot of time in but which can be invaluable to someone just getting started.

When users on most platforms join your course, you build an 'email list' of sorts through the site. It won't be a downloadable list of names and emails because the third-party site needs to protect that information. They also have an incentive to have you communicate to subscribers through their system only. However, this is still a list of interested consumers who you know are already invested in your subject matter.

 

2. Grow your student base with more courses.

One free course isn't enough to get traction. Build up your expertise and your audience by adding new courses that dive deeper and deeper into the subject matter. At this point, not all of your courses have to be free. In fact, many of the most successful course-makers start their courses as being available for free before establishing a price once they have high ratings. 

Every course you add makes all of your other courses stronger. Depending on the specificity and competition in your niche, you can quickly dominate the knowledge field. Once your profile is on top for delivering the content your target market needs, it will be very hard for a new competitor to dislodge you. 

At the point where you're charging students for your courses, congratulations! You are a consultant, even if it wasn't on the platform you originally imagined. Many course-makers interact with their students in the comments and can come to additional arrangements for direct consulting hours. The more you stay active on your course platform, the more opportunities you have.

3. Offer email courses for more technical depths into your courses.

Once people trust you as a knowledge resource, courses aren't going to be enough of a workable format. You can garner more interest in different types of subjects by opening up email courses, too. If you want to help your subscribers develop technical skills and procedures, the best way to do it isn't by giving them the information all at once.

Instead, break it down into bite-size chunks of daily tasks and tips. Some things, like reorganizing a database system or setting up a website, involve too many steps all at once. That can overwhelm your customers and make them stop listening. But email courses provide structure and simple advice.

Even better, this format gets you direct subscribers that want to open emails from open. Most email list growth occurs on a tit-for-tat system. You'll offer a PDF or a coupon of sufficient value to make your audience give you their email, but that's no guarantee they'll want continual communication with you. With an email course, you know those subscribers want to hear from you.

 

Why are courses a great way to reach your consulting business's target market?

People who are likely to pay for consulting services know they have a dream but are missing some of the technical knowledge to make it happen. That means courses — free, paid, and over email — are precisely what they need to get started. If you can give burgeoning business owners the information they need without hassle or gimmicks, they will trust you and keep coming back.

Even better, this is a target market that will actively find you. One of the biggest drags in growing a business is finding a steady supply of leads. Content marketing means you're available when potential customers are ready to find you, especially if you couldn't otherwise find them.

People who need your services the most aren't leads that you can search for. They won't have a social media presence or profiles in local business directories. If they have such an established presence that you can find them, their customers can find them. While that doesn't mean your services won't apply to their situation, it means you have less to offer and they might already have a consultant.

Building your email list is just the beginning of your digital marketing strategy. Go to BOLD Worldwide for more tips on how to build every part of your content and inbound marketing strategies.

Topics: Marketing Strategy marketing strategies email strategies

How to Avoid Marketing Strategy Inconsistencies

Marketing Strategies Need a Roadmap for Consistency

Whether you're a business owner, a director of a non-profit organization, a middle or a senior manager, or simply new to the world of entrepreneurship, you need the clear and concise direction that a marketing roadmap delivers.

Topics: Marketing Strategy marketing strategies

2 Key Factors That Make Your Social Media Posts Sink or Swim

Social media has been in the news recently, and not in a good way. If you haven't developed a robust social media strategy, all of the recent controversies about data and fake accounts might make you leery about getting started. But social media is still one of the most under-utilized marketing avenues. The earlier you start reaching out to customers and your target market across multiple channels, the stronger your brand grows. 

Topics: social media social media marketing marketing strategies

5 Clever Ways to Boost Your Local Marketing Campaign

Marketing a large online business is the norm. Almost all digital marketing guides assume you are some big or growing brand focused mainly on some form of e-commerce service. The tactics are all also nearly identical. Use Google Ad Words, competefor global keywords, and try to get ahead in the page results game. Local marketing, however, is different. While you are still reaching out to your audience through online means, you have a far greater variety of opportunities to spice up your campaigns and specifically target the people who matter most: your own community. Local marketing has the potential to be much more interesting, creative, and engaging than traditional digital marketing because you are weaving the digital experience into a personal experience as well.  

Topics: Marketing Strategy marketing strategies digital marketing

12 Ways to Boost Your Twitter Marketing Responses

When building a promotional campaign on social media, and on Twitter, in particular, one of the trickiest steps is to get people to start responding. Once the conversation starts, it often quickly cascades into hours and even days of lively discussion but there are a few elements you need before the process can begin. First, you need to have generated a certain amount of interest and a growing community of people who pay attention to your feed. Second, you need actually engaging content that makes people think of interesting responses they will want to share. Finally, you will need to create an environment of light-hearted sharing so that people feel safe and welcome to respond to your posts with discussions, even if they have a differing opinion. When all three of these requirements are met, the conversation will start flowing. 

Topics: Marketing Strategy content engagement marketing strategies

6 Ways to Enhance Your Digital Marketing Strategy with Promotional Items

In the modern digital world where almost all marketing and customer interactions happen online, you might be surprised just how much of a place promotional items can still have in your marketing strategy. You just have to adapt for the new patterns of engagement, conversion, and customer relationship enhancement. Whether you've still got a case of company T-shirts in the back or are looking for a new and innovative way to spice up your current campaign, we've got five fun ideas for using promotional items as part of a great digital marketing strategy.

1) Social Media Contests

Companies are always looking for new ways to engage on social media. Quizzes, surveys, and discussion starters are the stock and trade of a skilled social media manager keeping the community lively and chatting. But nothing gets an active social media community more interested than a contest with a real prize. This is your opportunity to make one of your promotional items coveted all or most of your following so choose something nice and possibly funny that your audience will love. This could be anything from a t-shirt featuring your brand and one of the community's favorite jokes all the way up to a branded juicer. The reward should match the challenge and prestige of the contests. For instance, a soda can koozie might be the right reward for a quick trivia game but a branded pen or wireless keyboard might be better for the winner of a story writing contest.

Don't forget that promotional items can be incredibly varied. You don't have to go with the generic options you're familiar with or the selection from the first promotional supplier you check out. Play to your brand and choose items that fit like portable pet bowls for an animal-oriented company or branded flower pot and seed packets for an eco-friendly brand.

2) The Referral Reward

A great opportunity to send two different customers a branded reward that can be carried in a pocket or sit on a desk for years is by rewarding referrals. This is your opportunity to design some clever matching promotional gear that can be sent out as a two-halves pair to the referrer and the person who was referred. Alternately, if you have someone who is a regular referer, you might consider designing a custom referral-themed promotional item congratulating them on having so many friends or being a networking guru in your industry.

Referral rewards should be carefully chosen and designed based on your industry and the kind of relationship it's safe to assume a referrer and newly referred customer will have. Where appropriate, aim for humor combined with a "thank you / congratulations". Thank them for sending someone your way while congratulating them for being so well-connected. You may also send promotional items to people who have just been referred that includes a fun reference to the person who referred them.

3) A Little Something Extra in the Box

Another interesting way to reach out in the real world to customers who buy from you online is to throw in a little something extra into your shipping boxes. This is actually becoming an increasingly popular trend because people are almost universally delighted to find an additional gift in the package they ordered. Sometimes this is as simply as a friendly greeting card while others include items of real value and use like a bag, a water bottle, or a USB accessory that they will keep at their desk for months.

Promotional items in your shipping boxes is a great way to reward customers just for being your customers and without adding any hassle of choosing or trying to get the promotional item. It's just an extra gift from you. Most companies choose which item to send based on the contents and total cost of the order so that you're sending pencils to $5 orders, flashlights to orders over $25 and so on.

4) Welcome Packages

Building a strong relationship with first-time customers is often a big priority for companies which can lead to an unreasonable number of "how do you like our service?" follow-up emails. Rather than filling an inbox, take the old-school route and actually send a welcome package to your newest valued customers. No need to shell out for an entire cheese and chocolate gift basket. Instead, put together a thoughtful kit of items and material that will actually be useful to new customers and mail it to them either separately or with their first shipped order. Kits are great for welcome packages and can be fine-tuned to your business from beach vacation kits complete with tote bag and cool shades to a zombie survival planning guide. Choose wisely based on your brand and your audience preferences.

5) Birthday Presents

Birthdays are another great opportunity to send your audience promotional gifts because they're expecting to get stacks of gifts. The clever way to do this is to time your shipment service to ensure that the package arrives exactly on their birthday. This is your opportunity to pick one of your promotional items that will seem truly personalized. Check their shopping and buying history along with any notes made in the CRM on their desires. Alternately, put together a great birthday package and send it to every customer who has a birthday. Just don't forget to change up the packages for long-time customers who have multiple birthdays as a part of your community.

6) Commemorate Anniversaries

Finally, there is a second annual excuse to send your customers promotional items: To celebrate how long they've been your customer! This is your chance to make a lot couple-jokes about you and the customer talking about how long you've been together, how well you know each other, and how much you want them to still feel appreciated after all these years. A fun way to do anniversary promotional items is to set one item or package per year or set interval like how the first anniversary is paper, the second is cotton, the fifth is wood, and the list goes on. Be funny and genuine with your promotional gifts to encourage customers to continue your positive long-term relationship.

At first glance, you might think that promotional items have no place in the digital marketing world but in reality, they are the perfect way to rekindle that real-world connection with your online community members. For a comprehensive strategic approach to your digital marketing goals, contact us today!

2019 Marketing Assessment Tool

Topics: Marketing Strategy marketing strategies