How to Develop a Digital Marketing Plan for 2020

You don’t need 20/20 vision to see that the new year is right around the corner. With the new year comes new goals for yourself and your business. You have some important questions to ask yourself, such as: what sort of hurdles do you want to overcome? What new levels do you want to reach and rise above? Where does digital marketing fit into your business plan in 2020?

A new year means a new start for your business and a time to reflect and make changes for the upcoming year. HighClick is here to help with those changes with a helpful guide on how to develop a digital marketing plan in 2020.

Analyze Your Marketing Strategy

Growing up my mama always told me “Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” The best way to plan is to reflect on what you did the past year and what were the outcomes.

What sort of marketing did you do during 2019?
What marketing trends did I follow?
How successful were those campaigns?
Did you do any digital marketing?

If you didn’t track your analytics in 2019, yesterday was now is the time to start.

When you track your analytics, it helps you understand how your campaigns are running in real time. You’ll be able to see what your customers respond best to and modify future campaigns to reflect this outcome. Analytics allow you to understand how your money is being spent and where to allocate funds in the future.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter give business accounts access to basic analytics free of charge for easy tracking.

Now that you’ve analyzed your previous year it’s time to set some…

Marketing Goals for 2020

Do You Want to Focus on a New Website?

Analysis of your previous year gives you insight on how effective your strategies were and how responsive your audiences were to those strategies

Do you want to focus on a new website? If your website hasn’t been updated since 2017, the answer should be yes. When you spend marketing dollars on a professional website design, you are not getting a disposable product in return. An updated web design is a gift that keeps on giving.

                  Our gift to you is an optimized website you’ll love

Will you spend more or less time on social media campaigns this year? Social media marketing is one of the backbones of a successful digital marketing campaign with how it aids brand awareness, but you don’t have to spend every working hour cultivating it. With the help of your analytics, figure out which platforms best help your business grow, engage with your community, and bring people to your website or storefront. Then decide on how exactly you want your channels to look this year. Will you keep the same post style, or change it up?

Our advice: let your business’ story tell itself. Be authentic in your posts, and your customers and community will help with the rest!

If you’re going to give a business a new website, you’ll need to give it updated search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is an algorithm that helps you pop up in search engines. Search engines crawl your site to find keywords and phrases to help them identify you, and bring you up on the search results page. If your website is not optimized, there’s a chance you won’t show up at all.

The Benefits of Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Will you give yourself an edge on the competition and invest in pay-per-click (PPC). PPC is an online marketing tool where you pay a search engine a sum of the fee each time your gets clicked. If they read your ad but don’t click, you don’t pay! PPC is a fantastic option for businesses who want new leads fast.

Everything is helped by content marketing. As the adage goes “content is king!” Content marketing helps with social media posts, website updates, and SEO. It’s the type of marketing that happens all year round, regardless of a sale or not. Content creation can range from the blog post you typed up, or that new video you’ve worked hard on to showcase your business – it’s the chameleon of the digital marketing world. Content marketing shouldn’t explicitly promote a brand or product, but instead, spark interest in the brand or product.

Everything interacts with one another. A website gives your business a hub for new and existing customers to find you. Your social media channels give your customers a way to interact with the business on a new level and learn about your website while boosting brand awareness and promoting your content. Content marketing helps boost your SEO, at the same time providing content for your social media channels. Without proper SEO, finding your business will be a struggle for you but a boon for your competition, and with a calculated PPC campaign, you can be sure to come out on top.

(Psst. Find more content marketing for beginners here!)

The challenge here will be how you allocate your time and funds to these various digital marketing types. It’s finally time to…

               

Create a 2020 Marketing Strategy

Be S.M.A.R.T

How do you want to do this? While running around like a chicken with its head cut off is an option some people like to go with, to run a successful business and not stress yourself out is a sounder marketing strategy. When we previously talked to you about Social Media Optimization, we told you to be S.M.A.R.T. – an acronym to help you strategize your marketing goals.

Be Specific. Now is the time to make a list of marketing goals that align with your business goals, but what exactly are your goals? “I want to post on these holidays.” “I want to run sales around this time.” “I want our brand imagery to look like this now.” “I want our voice to sound like this now.” These are building blocks to writing out your marketing goals, but be more specific.

When you are specific, you give yourself a road map that is easy to follow and won’t get you lost. It’s the first step, arguably the most essential step in your S.M.A.R.T. planning.

Examples:
“These products and services will be at the forefront of my marketing.”
“I will be at 5000 followers in 5 months.”
“I will celebrate every major holiday with a sale.”
“I will work for more reviews left on my Facebook and Google pages.”
“I will create this type of content every other week.”

Be Measurable. How exactly will you know if you’re reaching your campaign goals? Is it with clicks or impressions, increased traffic or sales? This helps “future you” with revisiting old campaigns to see what worked and what didn’t. Planning ahead helps for years to come!

Be Achievable. What is in your power to accomplish? We all want to be the next Amazon, and there is no reason why we can’t, but each journey towards success starts with one foot in front of the other. With each achievable goal, you surpass in the new year, reflect on how it exceeded your expectations and how you’ll take those lessons into the next goal and campaign. With each campaign, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s achievable and what isn’t.

Be Realistic. Can you realistically achieve it? Again, we all want to be the next Amazon, but realistically speaking there will never be another Amazon. Are your goals within your marketing budget? Are they one brand for your company? Do you have the time or manpower to achieve them? Do you know a friendly local marketing company that is here to help?

Be Timely. When exactly do you want to accomplish it? We’ve talked on and on about goals and what happens before and after you accomplish them, but not so much on when you’ll do it. Giving yourself a time table of your marketing strategy is imperative! Content calendars are superb tools to help you plan out when and where your marketing will be. This will aid you in being timely with your posts, and help you visualize your plans for each month or quarter.

Need a little help? Twitter released its 2020 content calendar to help marketers and business owners alike.

Conclusion

PLAN! If you fly by the seat of your pants, you’ll business will reflect that. Don’t let your marketing efforts go to waste! Every successful business owner had a strategy on how they marketed themselves. You owe it to yourself and your company to have a marketing plan (a digital marketing plan at that) in place for 2020 that will help you elevate your brand.

One of those plans should be to contact HighClick Media, your local digital marketing agency. Elevating brands is what we do. We’ll work with you to create an on brand, highly focused, digital marketing strategy and campaign to fit your budget and vision. Reach out to us today, and be ready for the new decade.

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Navigating the New Normal: How to Market Your Business in a Post-Pandemic World

Navigating the New Normal: How to Market Your Business In A Post-Pandemic World

In the span of a few short weeks, our whole world has changed. A deadly virus that very few saw coming has forced workers to stay at home for their own safety, businesses to shutter temporarily, and entire economies to be shut down. As a result, instead of developing long-term business strategies, working to achieve ambitious growth targets, and readying the launch of new products, small and large organizations alike have been prompted to hit a pause-and-reset button.

Even now, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as infection and death rates continue to rise. In the face of what’s sure to be a severe economic recession, businesses, in general – and marketers, in particular – are struggling to find a way forward. How long this recession might last and what shape it will take are open to speculation. Though a great degree of uncertainty remains, what’s clear is that the immediate future is going to look dramatically different than the one we’d planned for at the start of the year.

With lockdowns beginning to ease and the scale of the economic challenge coming into clearer focus, companies can start to measure the initial impact the global pandemic has had on their businesses. If profits are lagging – as they inevitably will be – business owners may seek to cut costs by scaling back their marketing efforts and curbing ad spend. However, as we will see, this is not the time to “ghost” our customers. Companies that do so, in times of crisis, often struggle mightily to regain market share once the economy eventually recovers.

As unemployment skyrockets, money will inevitably be tighter for consumers as well. We can expect that customers will behave differently than before, since their immediate needs and short-term priorities will have drastically changed in the past few months. In order to rebuild the trust in their company’s brand, products, and services, marketers must alter their approach to their customers. The message must be restructured to fit the tone of the moment, or else it may come off as tone-deaf at best, or offensive at worst.

Let’s be clear: there will be no “winners” from the COVID-19 pandemic. But it is possible for companies to come out of this crisis stronger than before by leveraging a combination of shrewd crisis management, sincere empathy, and a depth of understanding of the “new normal” we’re all facing.

8 Strategies for Marketing Your Business in a Post-Pandemic World:

 1)  Customer Insight

Knowing as much as possible about our customers and prospects has always been a hallmark of any successful marketing campaign. In a post-COVID world, insight will still be of vital importance, but we must closely monitor consumers’ current preferences, needs, and even their feelings, as these will change often and rapidly.

In the wake of this global crisis, a few trends have already emerged. Consumers seem to respond best to positive messages brimming with confidence, reassurance, signs of hope, and a clear path for recovery. Customers have also shown a greater desire for more sustainable products, as well as an increased intent to buy locally.

As marketers, we must be willing to dig deep to understand what consumers care about, what they don’t, and what they’re anxious about at any point in time. Using social media and data analytics to track behavior will help us understand what potential customers value most and what concerns them. A clear marketing strategy, now as before, successfully links what a brand has to offer to what potential customers want.

2)  Communication & Engagement

The need to engage with clients has never been more important as it is now. Failing to do so effectively risks damaging long-term relationships with customers. While it’s understandable that companies may be unsure of what to say, how to say it, and when to reach out to customers, it’s crucial that we keep the lines of communication open.

More than ever, people crave a human connection. Brands that can relate to customers at a human level, by initiating new and meaningful conversations, will not only see a boost in exposure but the increased potential for new clients as well. We, as marketers, should strive to provide consumers with relative, informative content when they need it most, being mindful of their short attention spans and the need for instant gratification. All communications should be carefully monitored and altered as necessary to meet the changing needs and interests of consumers.

3)  Empathy & Sensitivity

As marketers, we must get to know our audience well enough that we can credibly ask them to trust our solutions to provide for their needs. In order to do that, we have to be able to empathize with our customers. Empathy goes beyond merely thinking about customers’ needs and being sympathetic to the challenges they face. Genuine brand empathy requires marketers to forge a deep, emotion-driven understanding of what customers are going through during these troubling times. This isn’t something we can fake or pay lip service to with empty clichés like “We’re all in this together.”

Businesses must acknowledge customers’ anxiety, grief, and frustration and respond with compassionate, relevant content that’s in tune with where customers are in this moment. Customers should feel as though we have their best interests at heart. If we truly do, we must back up our words with actions and help provide tangible solutions.

Pretending like nothing extraordinary is happening is both tone-deaf and irresponsible. People will remember how brands handle their marketing during this time. Negative association with a brand can cause irreparable damage to a company’s reputation and its continuing business operations. We must be vigilant to ensure that the information we’re sending out is sensitive to both our customers’ needs and their recent experiences.

4)  Digital Transformation

Over the past several months, a global population in lockdown has flocked to the internet in droves. From online grocery shopping to video-conferencing to telehealth, digital media has been able to meet people’s most pressing needs like never before. The internet has also played host to a variety of entertainment options for the homebound, from gaming to social media to live TV and news. Ecommerce has grown exponentially in recent months as well. The digital landscape has been expanding and evolving for some time now, but the rate at which it has done so during the pandemic is staggering. The majority of these digital users, new and old alike, expect their reliance on digital media to increase or, at least, remain at the same level for the foreseeable future.

Some brands have spent the past couple of years investing in their online customer journeys – developing websites, applications, and implementing live-streaming, to name a few – are now reaping the benefits of these efforts. A multitude of retailers and other businesses have spent the last two months scrambling to set up an online presence, with mixed results.

Now more than ever, businesses are realizing they must turn to digital channels such as social media to maintain connections with customers, as well as sow seeds for future growth. Advertisers and marketers alike have taken advantage of digital media’s unique ability to reach customers in real time and adapt messaging quickly as needed. Everywhere an organization exists digitally is a potential customer service channel. As marketers, we must expand our efforts to find, engage, and serve customers everywhere online. Advanced targeting and personalization allow marketers to track customer sentiments more efficiently and adapt messaging to current moods and behaviors.

Going forward, companies would be wise to invest in creating positive digital experiences for their customers. Social media pages should be updated frequently. Websites should be responsive in design, optimized for mobile, and as user-friendly as possible. First impressions of a business aren’t just made in person anymore.

5)  Cultivate Trust & Brand Loyalty

Creating trust and cultivating brand loyalty are critical to remaining competitive in a post-pandemic world. Brands that build strong relationships with their customers in the short term will reap the long-term benefits of those connections.

As much as is possible, businesses should continue delivering on their promises, respond quickly and effectively to customers’ concerns, and maintain brand visibility. We, as marketers, must be able to demonstrate a deep awareness and understanding of the positive outcomes and experiences our audiences want to achieve, not simply focus on transactional behaviors that we want to drive.

Winning over new customers in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis may be difficult. Our focus should be on re-targeting previous patrons. Keeping in touch with past customers via social media, email marketing, and targeted ads is key to maintaining close relationships with our customers.

6)  Creativity & Innovation

Our job, as marketers, is not only to keep our businesses moving in the right direction, but also to build and maintain truly meaningful partnerships with our customers. By creating content that engages in memorable, surprising, and personalized ways, we can inspire customers to take the next step in their journey. We should focus on producing content that’s more personally resonant, situationally relevant, and emotionally intelligent. Providing trusted information, some much-needed comic relief, or anything in between can help our clients get through this difficult time.

The pandemic offers a unique opportunity to rethink the way we’re presenting our products – the manner in which we talk about them, the topics in these conversations, and the context around our customers’ experiences. Too many advertisers and marketers are using the same tired strategies to reach out to their customers during this time. We are tasked with making sure our brand stands out while also appealing to what our customers want.

A valuable exercise for marketing teams to explore is brainstorming how we can create content for platforms we haven’t employed previously. By expanding their organic reach, brands can stay top of mind in a global audience that’s actively seeking new media.

7)  Agility

Throughout the pandemic, businesses small and large have shown the capability to pivot quickly to address the changing needs and priorities of their customers. Being prepared ahead of time to adapt to an ever-changing market is critical to future success.

Businesses must examine their goals and strategies and consider new approaches, services, and products they may not have considered previously. Marketers must continually reassess who their potential customers are, how they make their purchasing decisions, how likely different groups will respond to marketing, and how messaging and content should be modified for different audiences.

The way we do business has changed dramatically in a few short months, thanks in large part to the increasing number of remote workers. Organizations that were previously leery of allowing employees to work from home have quickly developed and implemented strategies to make remote working a functional reality. Businesses are realizing that this arrangement can be a cost-saver, as working from home reduces the need for office space and other infrastructure. As a result, this practice will likely gain greater acceptance going forward.

8)  Everything Is Marketing!

During these challenging times, companies can continue to build their brands by treating everything they do as marketing. From employees’ community service efforts and corporate social responsibility work to company communications on social media, everything an organization does shapes people’s opinions of our brands and influences their decisions about whether to do business with us, now and in the future.

We, as marketers, must ensure that every activity we engage in reinforces and interprets our brand’s positioning and personality. We have the ability to turn interactions with employees, business partners, communities, and customers into potent messages about our brand. By transforming everyday actions into extraordinary ones, we can improve brand perceptions and attract greater attention to our business.

The Forecast

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses cannot simply dust off the old marketing playbook and pick up where they left off. Brand personas, methods, and messaging must evolve to confront the new realities. The effect on consumer behavior and values will almost certainly continue for years to come.

Marketing will play a key role in our recovery. Companies that have been able to prosper during lockdown – grocery delivery services, for example – may experience significant setbacks once consumers return to in-person shopping. Businesses that may have been forced to close temporarily will have to find ways to persuade customers that their products or services are safe once more. Still others will have to implement strategic plans to win back customers who may have adopted new daily habits while working from home. Throughout all this, information and communication will be vital. Marketers who make the most of these unique circumstances will be best positioned to help restore the economy.

It’s still too early to know what the “next normal” will look like, which behaviors will persist, what attitudes may shift permanently, and what technologies will have taken root in the lives of consumers. As marketers, now is the time to double down on what we do best. We need to make sure our brands are at the top of searches, our social media pages are constantly updated, and that we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to connect with our audiences.

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Taking the Shame Out of Shameless Self-Promotion

Taking the Shame Out of Shameless Self-Promotion

They show up multiple times a day on social media. You see them in endless TV commercials. They’re loud, they’re annoying, and they’re everywhere! They are the shameless self-promoters of the business world.

When you examine the strategies and tactics of the most effective attention-getters in history, you’ll find an extensive list of notable individuals – P.T. Barnum, Richard Branson, and Donald Trump, to name a few – who are incredibly talented in the art of self-promotion. Regardless of how you feel about the people who have employed these techniques, it’s undeniable that their efforts have been remarkably successful.

Yet many business owners feel extraordinarily uncomfortable when it comes to self-promoting their ventures. Why is that? Where in our journey did we determine that self-promotion is bad? Why do we accept that as the truth? Why do we associate expressing joy, confidence, or pride about our work with something for which we feel shame?

This article will attempt to answer these questions, examine the specific tactics employed by shameless self-promoters, and provide action steps to help you, as a business owner, feel confident about promoting your enterprise to prospective clients.

Zara Larsson Self High-Five

WHY IS SELF-PROMOTION IMPORTANT, ANYWAY?

At its essence, self-promotion is getting your proverbial foot in the door with potential customers. No matter how outstanding your product or service is or what amazing value you can offer, if prospects don’t know you exist, you’re never going to have the opportunity to do business with them.

Selling yourself can feel awkward, arrogant, and agonizing. But if you want your business to prosper and you want your work to have a positive impact, you’ve got to learn how to master it. When you don’t actively promote your services or products, you are robbing people of the chance to do business with someone who truly has the customer’s best interests at heart.

If you aren’t willing to market your talents, expertise, and products, people will quickly overlook you. Business strategist Debbie Allen sums it up like this: “The world isn’t going to beat a path to your door unless you lead the way.”

SHAMELESS AND HEALTHY SELF-PROMOTION: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Not all self-promotion is shameless. It all depends on your approach.

Understanding how to recognize shameless self-promotion allows you to distinguish it from the kind of healthy self-promotion that genuinely serves your business. If you can’t tell the difference between the two, you’ll never feel entirely confident in talking about what you do with potential clients.

Tooting your own horn is fine, just as long you keep it in moderation and know when to put the trombone away. Knowing where to focus your efforts and where to draw the line are important components to self-marketing success.

Healthy self-promotion is all about spreading ideas, knowledge, and a higher vision. When you promote ideas, you give people something to cheer for, a cause to support.

What makes self-promotion shameless is how often you do it, the intensity with which you approach it, and to whom you’re promoting yourself. It’s generally unwelcome, unlikable, and quite often insensitive.

Shameless self-promotion involves repeatedly mentioning your business, services, products, or accomplishments without any real concern for the people the business is purported to be helping.

In short, you’re a living, breathing, nonstop sales pitch – for yourself.

Ryan Serhant Sell It Shameless Self-Promotion

SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION TECHNIQUES TO AVOID

There are many positive, healthy ways to self-promote. Some methods, while they might seem harmless at first glance, can actually be detrimental to both you and your business.

Asking Friends and Family to Support Your Business

When you launch a new project and you’re excited about it, the first thing you want to do is tell your friends and family. Those closest to you may not personally have a need for your products or services, but they might know someone who does. They may not be able to patronize your business with a purchase, but they can still add their encouragement or share your posts.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with asking family and friends to endorse your new enterprise, it’s important to understand that they’re under no obligation to do so. And if they don’t, you shouldn’t pester them about it.

Making Every Conversation About Your Projects

While it’s obviously okay to talk up your business, doing so all day, every day to every single person you encounter is not an ideal plan. In fact, it’s a very quick way to lose people’s attention and respect.

Starting a new business is a full-time job. As a budding entrepreneur, it’s likely all you’ll think about for a while. Because it’s easy to believe everyone else is as invested in the project as you are, you might be tempted to converse about it constantly. Even if you’re unaware that you’re doing it, it’s still fairly shameless – especially if you’re trying to solicit funds from people.

Spamming Your Contacts Via Email and Social Media

Using social media to garner interest in your business is perfectly acceptable. Where it becomes shameless is when you use these social networking platforms to spam your contacts with constant updates about your business and ask that they share them.

The same goes for email – if people start receiving too many messages from the same businesses promoting their products and services, they’re probably going to end up trashing them. If you only send the occasional email with enticing offers and shy away from being too salesy, it’s more likely to be read.

HOW TO APPROACH SELF-PROMOTION IN A POSITIVE WAY

Don’t promote yourself – promote what you believe in.

By promoting what you believe in instead of making conceited claims or rattling off a catalog of services, you can more clearly convey what kind of business you run, what you represent, and the true value of what you do. That’s why people will choose to do business with you.

Start circulating your ideas.

Create genuine value and interest by bringing something new, or at least a fresh perspective, to the table. Let people know what you stand for, particularly as it relates to issues that are relevant to your audience.

Make your vision as unambiguous and well-founded as possible. Brand yourself and your ideas as original and exclusive. Although few ideas are genuinely unique, your expression can be.

Engage with power brokers in your field of interest and advise them why they should promote you. If they won’t, create influencers from within. As Nathan Hangen succinctly states, “Build others up until they have the power to build you up.”

Not everyone will approve of your ideas or your approach, and that’s alright. Acknowledge your critics, but don’t hesitate to challenge them, either.

People Helping People. It's Powerful Stuff. Shameless Self-Promotion

Focus on helping and serving other people.

When done effectively, self-promotion is an art form. It comes from a place of service, from your passion and commitment to support others first. Effective self-promotion comes naturally when words and actions connect your head and heart.

Demonstrate that you truly care about solving people’s problems and making their lives better. Step outside business-related topics every once in a while to promote worthy causes. Good people want to do business with other good people who share their values.

When you start to look at self-promotion as a way to serve others, it becomes far less intimidating.

Let your passion for what you do shine through.

Passion is both inspirational and infectious. When you passionately believe in yourself, your ideas, your services, and your products, people will start to have faith in you as well and champion your business proudly. You won’t need to shamelessly self-promote; others will do it for you.

100% Real John Crist Shameless Self-Promotion

Be authentic in everything you say and do.

People can spot a fraud from far away, and nobody wants to do business with one. Pushing something you really don’t believe in is actually worse than shameless self-promotion.

When you say something about yourself, it’s a claim. When someone else says the same thing, it’s a fact. And that’s a heckuva lot more potent than shameless self-promotion.

Be confident.

People who have a difficult time selling and marketing seldom succeed. In order to move forward with your business, you must become absolutely sold on yourself, your abilities, your products, and your services – or no one else will be!

Muhammad Ali was one of the consummate self-promoters in history. He was well-liked not just because he truly was “the greatest,” but also for his integrity and the audacity of his ideas. Mike Tyson’s accomplishments were magnificent, but he never projected a greater vision that made us cheer.

Don't Let Your Dreams Be Dreams Just Do It Shia LaBeouf Shameless Self-Promotion

Learn to live by the “Three Rules of Shameless Success.”

Rule #1:  Have your own personal style. No one can compete with you when you’re comfortable enough being your own person – someone who shares their own ideas and their own mind.

Rule #2:  Never give up, even when other people don’t believe in you or your ideas, or tell you that you’re crazy. No matter how many roadblocks get in your way: move around them, over, through them, and keep going!

Rule #3:  Stand out and get noticed. Find a way to position yourself in front of the right people who will listen and pay attention, and ultimately support your success.

Final Thoughts

Some entrepreneurs and business owners view shameless self-promotion in a negative light, because they fear it will be misconstrued as a form of endless bragging. Unfortunately, as a byproduct of this fear, they often choose the opposite extreme – not talking about their business at all.

Don’t let this happen to you! Your ideas need you. If you have a vision, don’t let anyone get in the way of achieving your goals. Learn to talk about yourself and your vision in ways that are genuine, engaging, warm, and generous. Share your ideas in the form of anecdotes, stories, and conversations with other people – particularly people who may find that information valuable or relevant. Being generous means that you’re able to both relay your own news and welcome the news of others.

Perhaps entrepreneur Marie Forleo said it best: “It’s time for all of us to untangle these feelings of shame and self-consciousness from the act of expressing our gifts, and offering our services to the world. Instead of calling it shameless self-promotion, let’s take the shame out of it altogether!”

Keep in mind that while self-promotion is extraordinarily important, it’s only one aspect of running a successful business. Make sure you’re offering products and services that people want and providing them with an excellent experience. Those two things alone can be more beneficial than any amount of self-promotion when it comes to sustaining or growing your business.

If you need help getting started with promoting your business, especially online, HighClick Media can help! We can develop and implement a digital marketing strategy tailored to your specific business that will get results! Call us today at 252.814.2150!

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Why You Can’t Afford to NOT Practice Ethical Marketing

Why You Can't Afford to NOT Practice Ethical Marketing

As difficult as it might be to describe what ethics is in terms of marketing, it’s simple to describe what it isn’t.

For example, if a product pricing landing page conveys inaccurate information, or conceals the price entirely. Or when an enticing advertisement on social media alleges that a product will do X, Y, and Z – but when you order it, you realize it can only do Y.

These kinds of questionable, dishonest, and nefarious marketing techniques are perfect examples of what it means for a company to behave unethically.

While unethical marketing can potentially be successful in the short term, it’s not a viable long-term strategy. Eventually, customers will lose trust in your brand altogether, and you’ll discover that it’s hard to find brand advocates who are inclined to spread awareness about your products or services through word-of-mouth marketing.

In a nutshell, unethical marketing will make a marketer’s job much more difficult in the long run, not easier.

In order to ensure that you’re observing best practices to create ethical solutions to all your marketing challenges, it’s important to evaluate the crucial role that ethics plays in modern marketing – and leadership overall.

Ethics in Leadership

We should probably begin by defining what ethics truly means.

While it’s easy to characterize ethics as “the difference between right and wrong,” it actually goes a bit deeper than that.

The concept of “right” and “wrong” is generally a somewhat subjective one. What’s “right,” culturally speaking, in the United States might be strongly discouraged in Asia, and vice versa.

According to the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the term “ethics” can be defined in two distinct ways: “Well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific values. Ethical standards also include those that [command] virtues of honesty, compassion, and loyalty.”

Additionally, “ethics refers to the study and development of one’s ethical standards. Feelings, laws, and social norms can deviate from what is ethical. So it is necessary to constantly examine one’s standards to ensure that they are reasonable and well-founded.”

In the framework of marketing, ethics relates to the practice of nurturing fairness, honesty, and empathy in all marketing pursuits.

One of the simplest ways to support ethics in a business sense is to make sure that it’s rooted in your company’s culture and values.

It’s not enough just to have a set of principles and a clearly defined mission statement. Genuinely ethical companies have an obligation to put these values into practice every day.

Joan Harrington, Director of Social Sector Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, explains further: “The key to integrating ethics in organizations is leadership. The leadership must set the example by living the organizational values and incorporating them into all aspects of the business.

Having a code of ethics or a set of values in a handbook is not enough to shape an ethical culture. Employees need to be trained on, or at least exposed to, how to make ethical decisions. Ethics is not about what you think is right versus what I think is right. It is how we – in all of our different relationships – ought to behave.”

In a perfect scenario, Harrington proposes, an entire organization will undergo ethical decision-making training. But there are certain aspects of an organization that are higher-risk for ethical issues than others – for example, engineers occupied with projects involving artificial intelligence that could affect millions of people. For those higher-risk groups, these ethical decision-making training sessions should be compulsory, not voluntary.

“This is not to say that there may be more than one ethical response,” Harrington continues, “but it is not purely subjective. In training, people need to be exposed to real-life situations, relevant to their jobs, so they can really work through how to identify, approach, and decide ethical issues.”

To foster a sincerely ethical culture, it’s important that leaders embody ethical behaviors and values, build a strong community, and develop ethical systems in which all employees can prosper.

To do this, leaders must “use goals, mission, and values to make decisions about compensations and other rewards, like promotions,” says Ann Skeet, Senior Director of Leadership Ethics at the Markkula Center.

Fundamentally, ethical leadership needs to be integrated into the processes, not simply a side note. Thus, it isn’t just the responsibility of one person to speak up and say that something doesn’t seem fair. Rather, the foundation of the organization needs to be built upon ethical mainstays, including integrity and equity, so that each business decision is executed with these principles top of mind.

Ethics in Marketing

Ethical marketing involves a marketer’s obligation to make sure all marketing campaigns abide by core ethics principles, including integrity, humility, and honesty – both inside and outside the organization.

To further distinguish between internal and external marketing ethics, consider this example.

Suppose that your marketing team enlists the services of a design agency for a new marketing campaign. In the midst of the campaign, your team finds out that the agency doesn’t treat its employees fairly, and that it doesn’t square well with your ideals with regard to environmental and social responsibility.

Even if your customers are unaware of this association, it’s still in your best interests to sever your working relationship with the agency as quickly as possible, and realign yourself with agencies that support the same values you’ve established for your team internally.

Just as important, of course, is the public-facing element of ethical marketing. This includes making sure you don’t exaggerate or flat-out lie about your products or services – including pricing, performance, release date, current customers, etc. – in order to entice new customers.

In addition, ethical marketing involves treating workers equitably, using renewable resources, and supporting environmental or social causes deemed to be important to your brand.

Consider Toms, the notable footwear brand, which gives away $1 for every $3 it makes and has donated nearly 100 million pairs of shoes to people in need since 2006.

Harrington concludes: “Marketing has its own, built-in ethical issues. For nonprofits, do they do ‘storytelling’ about their clients in an ethical way when they are engaged in fundraising? How are they representing their clients? Have they included clients in deciding how to present them? Are they operating from stereotypes? For all organizations, to figure out whether marketing is ethical, you’ll want to ask whether marketers are operating transparently. Is the product accurately described? Is the marketing ahead of the actual product? And is there undue pressure on potential consumers?”

In 2020, ethical marketing is more crucial than ever.

Take into consideration, for example, that it costs five to twenty-five times more to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one. Brand loyalty is vital to the enduring success of your company.

Furthermore, consumers don’t trust businesses these days to the extent that they did previously. As a matter of fact, 81% of people report that they trust their friends and family’s opinions over advice from a business, 69% distrust advertisements, and 71% are skeptical of sponsored ads on social networks.

In essence, there’s only one long-term solution to the ever-increasing challenge of a cynical customer base: ethical marketing.

Indeed, it’s essential to bear in mind, ethical marketing should have an effect on every aspect of your marketing strategy, not just one or two areas. You must demonstrate honesty, transparency, and integrity in every instance – from the Facebook posts you publish, to the product presentations you give.

Who We Are

HighClick Media is a full-service digital marketing and web design agency providing comprehensive digital media and online marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re looking for a fresh web design, brand development, or digital marketing solutions, our highly skilled web design and digital marketing team will help you boost your business success. Call us at 252.814.2150 today to find out more!

*** This article is greatly indebted to a recent article on HubSpot’s blog, both in its inspiration and content. ***

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How to Grow Your Business by Giving Stuff Away

How to Grow Your Business by Giving Stuff Away

Integrating a giveaway campaign into your overall marketing strategy can be incredibly advantageous. A well-executed giveaway can help advance your business rapidly and at a relatively low cost. In fact, this type of campaign can yield a return on investment as much, if not more, than traditional marketing channels.

While large-scale prize draws were formerly the domain of powerhouse organizations, the internet has since devised tools that will allow your company no matter how large or small to effectively manage nationwide campaigns.

How can a giveaway help achieve rapid growth for your business? What is the secret that has historically made these campaigns so successful? Is a giveaway campaign worth the time, effort, and resources it will take to run it? This article will attempt to answer these questions, and many more besides.

8 Benefits of Giveaway Campaigns

 

Giveaway campaigns are mutually beneficial for consumers and businesses. People are enamored with the idea of getting something for nothing. Marketers take advantage of this “love of anything free” to reap a number of benefits for the businesses they represent:

Increase Brand Awareness

Brand awareness consists of two main components: brand recognition and brand recall. Brand recognition is the ability of a consumer to recognize one brand over other brands, based on its attributes and design elements. Brand recall refers to the ability of the consumer to correctly generate a brand from memory when prompted by a product category. By putting your brand out there in lots of places to let people know about your giveaway, you’re also gaining a lot of attention for the business itself.

Promote Your Products

Whether you’re launching a new product or you just want to get more eyes on your existing line of products, a giveaway offers an ideal opportunity to accomplish this. Some people may not have realized you existed previously (see “Brand Awareness” above), while others may have heard of you but never known exactly what kinds of products or services you offer.

Generate Fresh Leads

By having participants sign up for your giveaway by submitting their email address or other contact info, you are, in essence, creating new leads for your business. These leads may or may not become future customers, but you have at least gained an inroad to communication by their participation in the campaign.

Boost Your Sales

Let’s face it unless you’re running a nonprofit organization, you  need sales in order to stay in business. During economic downturns or particularly competitive periods, you may need a little something extra to push you over the hump. A successful giveaway is capable of doing just that.

 

Continued...

Build Your Social Media Following

An effective giveaway campaign can help enhance your following on popular social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Since most giveaways are promoted and shared on social media anyway, this is the perfect opportunity to gain lots of new followers for your brand. You can even choose to make “liking” your brand page as a condition of entering the contest.

Increase Your Email Subscriber List

One of the most popular and simplest entry methods for giveaways is the submission of your email address. By capturing the email address of participants and adding them to your newsletter, auto-responder, or blog update lists, you can quickly and easily build your subscriber numbers.

Show Appreciation for Your Fans & Followers

If you’re an established business, chances are you already have a dedicated “fan base” of satisfied customers. This is something that businesses often take for granted, but the truth is that your customers are free agents who can choose to shop elsewhere at any time, and for any reason they choose. By actively engaging your already-happy customers in a giveaway campaign, you show them that you’re thinking of them and care about their continued business.

Create Better Engagement with Existing Prospects

If you’re like most businesses, you probably have a number of “followers” who aren’t actual customers…yet. Since they are already following your page, they’re likely to see any updates you post. When they’re made aware of your giveaway campaign, they may be intrigued enough to not only enter the contest but to finally give your products or services a try as well.

8 Common Types of Giveaways

Giveaway marketing takes a variety of different forms, all of which involve the distribution of free merchandise or services in some form or fashion in order to promote your business. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of giveaways, and explore how they could work for your organization.

Pre-Sale Giveaway

When companies introduce a new product to the market, they often give away free samples. They might hand out products to consumers in person or send free coupons in the mail. They might also offer free e-coupons to people who “like” the products or brand pages on Facebook.

While some folks may be hesitant to try something new if they have to pay for it after all, if they’re disappointed, they will have wasted their money many people will try anything once if it’s free. If consumers feel that the product is good, they’ll come back to buy it even when the product is no longer free.

With this kind of giveaway, companies target likely purchasers. They give away free products to people who are already in grocery stores shopping or at the restaurant eating, or to people who are paging through the Sunday coupon circulars. Marketers already know these people buy similar products, making them far more likely candidates to like the new product as well.

Gateway Product

Amazon often offers complete e-books for free download for a limited time – from a day or two to a month or two. Anyone with a Kindle or a Kindle app on their phone, tablet or computer, can download and read the whole book without paying a penny. At first, this sounds crazy, since neither Amazon nor the writer or publisher of these books makes a penny on the download. But authors and publishers have discovered that offering a book for free can create more sales for the author’s other works. If a reader likes what they read, they often return to see what else they can find by that author, and this time they’re willing to purchase the book. On Amazon, free books climb the bestseller lists, becoming more visible, so that more people will likely see the book and be inclined to buy it even after it’s no longer free.

Loss Leader

A loss leader strategy involves offering a product or service at a price that is not profitable with the intention of attracting new customers or selling additional products and services to those customers. In a loss leader giveaway, you give away something for free in order to get customers in the door, in the hopes that they’ll buy something else while they’re there. If enough people buy the business’s other products, then the giveaway is a worthwhile campaign.

Free Publicity

Sometimes a company uses a freebie campaign as an opportunity to gain attention it couldn’t afford to buy. A famous example of this is when Oprah Winfrey, in the year 2000, gave every member of her studio audience a new car. GM, the car’s manufacturer, received tons of positive press for donating nearly 300 of its new Pontiac G6s. Every newspaper in the country reported about the extravagant giveaway, alongside television, radio, and internet coverage. An ad campaign with similar coverage would likely have cost GM considerably more than the giveaway itself. Not only did they get everyone talking about their new car, GM got to be the good guy, enhancing its reputation with the public.

Continued...

Branded Giveaways

This popular type of giveaway combines your company or product logo along with your marketing slogan on unrelated, low-cost products. These practical items are distributed to targeted audiences who, in turn, will keep and use them for extended periods of time, and are therefore reminded of your brand over and over again. 

Your Own Products

Product giveaways are a simple, low-cost way to encourage your target audience to try your products. This type of promotion banks on the quality of your product when compared with others on the market and prevails only if your product has the wherewithal to truly have an impact on consumers.

A number of supermarkets invite manufacturers into their stores to conduct sample tasting in hopes that consumers will be enticed by their brand’s product enough to make a switch. In certain cases, these trials also succeed at introducing customers to a new product that they wouldn’t have tried otherwise.

Partnerships

Partnerships between any two small, non-competitive businesses help minimize the cost and expand the scope of giveaway marketing efforts. Such partnerships can have a tremendous impact and elevate the reach of your brand considerably.

Trade Shows

A trade show giveaway is a reliable way to garner interest from fellow businesses and consumers, regardless of the industry. This type of giveaway often differs from traditional customer giveaways in that the attending audience has already demonstrated an interest in the showcased industry, simply by being there.

Trade shows offer a forum where products can be directly evaluated, side by side, by both industry experts and consumers. To that end, these giveaways should be more focused on making an impact than evoking a sentiment of goodwill. Creativity can give your company an edge over its competitors in such a setting, and any giveaway that culminates in more visitors to your trade show booth is considered to be a triumph.

Potential Problems & Possible Solutions

While there are obviously a ton of benefits to giveaways from a marketing standpoint, there are a few potential challenges that some businesses may face when running such a campaign.

PROBLEM: Giveaways Invite “Freebie-Seekers” & Treasure Hunters

Let’s be honest. Some people are just entering your contest to get something for free. Successful giveaways often end up with thousands of entrants, very few of whom have any interest in your company whatsoever.

When you start using the email list you’ve gathered during a giveaway, you’re likely to see both low “open” rates and high “unsubscribe” rates. The latter can actually be quite damaging, as this designation can result in your emails ending up in spam folders if enough people report abuse or mark them as spam.

SOLUTION: Find the Right Barrier to Entry

Engineering a giveaway expressly to discourage entrants might seem like the opposite of what you want, but it’s worth thinking about. When it comes to leads, quality beats quantity.

On the other hand, asking for too much info is a surefire way to deter even potential entrants who truly are interested in the prize.

A good compromise is asking participants for an email address, but offering them an extra chance to win if they share something perhaps involving a hashtag on Twitter or elsewhere.

Social media is still a very personal space, and most people won’t share something unless it corresponds with the image they’re trying to portray there. People who might become excited about your brand or product and may have friends who could be as well have a likelier chance of entering (and winning).

PROBLEM: The Prize Is Underwhelming

Let’s say you’ve decided to give away the latest iPhone. Not a bad prize lots of folks like iPhones. But lots of folks already have iPhones. These days, iPhone and iPad competitions are everywhere, so they just don’t have the intended effect of enticing entrants the way they used to.

SOLUTION: Give Away Something That’s Valuable to YOUR Audience

What would make your ideal customer’s life simpler? If you can’t determine this yourself, ask your current customers. Just be sure to enter them in the giveaway as a courtesy for giving their feedback.

If your brand sells its own products, this is much easier. A free product or one-year subscription probably won’t cost you too much, but it’s extremely useful to someone who genuinely likes your product.

Continued...

PROBLEM: Marketers Often Neglect to Adequately Follow Up After the Campaign Is Over

Sometimes marketers allow an interval of months to pass between setting up a contest and sending the first email to the resulting list. This is a huge mistake!

By this time, the average person will have forgotten about signing up for your emails in the first place. They’ll probably assume you’ve bought the list from someone else and are now spamming them. First impressions are crucial, and this isn’t the one you want to make when you’re sending what’s likely a promotional email.

Whether you’re following up about how to earn additional entries or notifying entrants about when the winner will be drawn, you can start testing how responsive your new list is before the contest is even over.

SOLUTION: Craft the Ideal “Loser Email”

Send a follow-up email when the giveaway is over to let entrants know that they didn’t win the competition (which they may have even forgotten they’d entered). Include a clever subject such as “You’re a loser” which is far too enticing to ignore or automatically delete.

The follow-up email should announce that a winner has been drawn. This is a critical step when you’re giving away a product or subscription. If you fail to announce a winner, some contest entrants may hold off purchasing from you indefinitely “just in case they win.” Let the “losers” know that while the winner has already been drawn, they can still receive a discount on the featured product.

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How to Run a Giveaway Campaign

Understand the Upsides & Downsides

Like any other marketing approach, not all giveaway campaigns will be successful. The internet is a congested space, with tons of free stuff being offered. It’s conceivable to spend a great deal of money on a giveaway campaign and generate any income or acquire a single subscriber. Attention still transcends free products.

Not all industries or websites will garner massive amounts of shares. A subscription to a specialized industry tool won’t propel hundreds of thousands of tweets. Neither will a product with mass appeal attract the right kind of attention nor get seen by the right audience.

So-called “spy tools” such as SEMrush or Ahrefs enable you to evaluate share metrics from your competitors or other industries. As part of your planning process, take a look at previous giveaway campaigns so you can set realistic expectations.

Set Goals for Your Campaign

Based on your current strategy and budget, work to define your marketing goals and determine  specifically how the giveaway fits in.

Is your aim to gain more email subscribers? Boost sales? Get lots of shares? Increase brand awareness? Some combination of all of these things?

The fact of the matter is, whenever someone is giving away free stuff they’re going to be popular. Making a person’s day is always fun, and it’s totally fine if that’s your primary goal but be sure to communicate that in advance.

Identify Your Audience & Choose Your Prize

Determine what specific audience you’re targeting and what product you’ll offer to entice them. The product you select as a prize will likely dictate not only the breadth of your audience, but also the type of audience to which you’ll present your business.

Unimaginative prizes, such as the latest Apple products or Amazon gift cards, will elicit a practically limitless audience. But you’ll also have a next-to-impossible task trying to get their attention. Since this kind of prize is neither directly associated with you nor your audience, the underlying message is that there are strings attached therefore, there’s no reason for anyone to truly pay attention.

If your aim is to attract brand advocates, leads, or prospective customers, offer a prize that will engage people who are, at the very least, moderately likely to become customers. Some marketers are of the opinion that “a lead is a lead” and ultimately, the more the better. While it’s true that some leads generate revenue, boost your brand, end up becoming devoted customers, other leads simply join your contest because they’re interested in winning a prize.

As a general rule, the larger the potential audience, the greater the prize needs to be. The more targeted the audience is, the more targeted (and desirable) the prize needs to be.

Define & Devise Your Promotion Plan

As with any other kind of content, you need to have some type of promotion plan. How will you notify people about the giveaway? How do you plan to spark their interest? How are you going to establish trust? (Most people recognize that there’s usually a catch.)

Begin with your current audience, then expand to an audience you don’t already have. Paid social media can be a helpful option, since that’s where most sharing will take place anyway.

Identify ways you can target specific audiences that might take an interest in the giveaway. Reach out to prospective clients who follow websites that are complementary to yours. See if their followers might be interested in your campaign as well.

Try to strike a balance between over-promoting and under-promoting. Employ a crafty mix of stunning visuals and compelling copy to get your message across. But, by all means, don’t spam people in order to get noticed. This is rarely effective and often detrimental to your business.

Configure Your Infrastructure

Take advantage of “plug-and-play” giveaway software such as Gleam, KingSumo, Rafflecopter, and PromoSimple. These useful tools are designed to help you collect entries, manage your campaign, and select a winner in addition to providing a smooth and optimized experience for users.

Encourage Social Shareability

Incentivize participants to share the giveaway with friends and family in order to gain extra entries. Additional sharing creates a viral factor which will translate into more email addresses and participants that you would likely have received with pay-per-click ads or more organic promotions.

Announce a Winner & Award the Prize

After the contest has ended, your giveaway tool of choice will automatically select a winner. You will then give final approval based on predetermined contest rules and verify whether or not the entrant has confirmed their email address.

You then notify the winner and deliver the prize to them. Announce the winner to all participants. It would be great if you could get the winner to share a picture of themselves with the prize. This delivers social proof and encourages participants to enter future giveaways that you might hold.

 

Follow Up with Your New Email Subscribers

While some participants might have initially only been interested in free stuff, it’s possible that they might be at least mildly interested in your email marketing. Giveaway entrants might not show an interest in your current offer, but there’s no reason you can’t go back and reach out to them with a new offer in the future.

It’s essential that you clearly spell out what people are signing up for somewhere in the fine print of the giveaway itself. Allow them to opt-out if they’re no longer interested in your marketing emails landing in their inboxes.

Once the giveaway is over, “scrub” the unsubscribes and non-responders from the final metrics and start email marketing to all your new subscribers!

Analyze Your Results

Run your landing page URL through a sharing tool to generate final share metrics. Examine your analytics to view total sessions and your email platform to note the number of email addresses submitted. 

Evaluate the results of the campaign based on your previously set goals. If the cost of the giveaway prize turns out to be less expensive than acquiring the same number of new subscribers through pay-per-click or other channels, then your giveaway is a marketing success!

Conclusion

Sometimes creating social virality for its own sake can be a worthwhile endeavor. A giveaway campaign is an extremely powerful marketing technique that can go a long way toward making that happen. However, giveaways and other contest-style tactics are best employed in tandem with your other ongoing marketing efforts. They will never be able to replace the entirety of your promotional strategy. You’ll need a variety of different campaigns, contest-based and otherwise, to achieve the best possible results. And, as always, make sure you have a strong sense of who your target audience is and how best to reach them.

HighClick Media is a full-service digital marketing agency specializing in targeted online marketing solutions. We can help elevate your brand by developing a smart marketing strategy that actually works! Give us a call today at 252.814.2150!

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10 Lessons Marketers Can Learn from Political Campaigns

10 Lessons Marketers Can Learn From Political Campaigns

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty tired of seeing and hearing political ads. Whether you’re flipping through a newspaper, watching the morning news, listening to your favorite tunes, checking your mail or email, or even surfing the web, political ads are simply unavoidable. And that’s probably the point.

While traditional political advertising – print, television, radio, and “snail mail” – is far from “dead” from a marketing standpoint, it’s obvious that digital political ads are on the rise.

Case in point: I like to watch true crime shows on my phone – but the app that I use doesn’t have an ad-free option. So every ten minutes or so, I’m forced to not-so-patiently wade through two to three minutes of advertising before I can get back to my show. And what kind of marketing content is ID Go exposing me to? You guessed it: political ads.

In my downtime at home, I occasionally find myself playing games on my phone. One such game that I frequently play is called Flippy Knife. It’s a decently fun way to pass the time, but it’s simply riddled with advertising. Sure, I could pay $2.99 for the ad-free version, but I’m a bit of a cheapskate.

So, I endure the ads. And can you guess what kinds of ads Flippy Knife has been showing me lately? You got it: political ads! At least these are outside the norm, though.

One memorable ad I saw just yesterday simulates an ‘80s-era video game and depicts a highly pixelated version of a well-known political candidate stating his positions and urging me to vote for him this November 3rd.

Like I said, it’s unavoidable.

Marketing Lessons Political Campaigns

That being said, there’s a lot that marketers like myself can learn from these political campaigns, especially as they increasingly go digital.

Here are 10 takeaways that I’ve been able to…well, take away…from this frenzied election cycle:

Understand Your Target Audience

Marketing and political campaigns alike typically divide customers (or voters) into three major groups: their own pool, their competitor’s pool, and the undecideds.

Own Pool

These are the faithful customers (voters) who are already familiar with your brand (candidate) and are most likely to repurchase (vote for you). These are the people your campaign must diligently focus on to establish loyalty.

Competitor’s Pool

These customers (voters) are loyal to your competition (political opponent). Hence, your strategies toward them must be centered on why your brand (candidate) is superior to the competitor’s. To effect any changes in their way of thinking, you must emphasize your strengths as a brand/candidate as well as your opponent’s weaknesses.

Undecided

This pool of customers (voters) is still on the fence. Simply put, they’re looking for a reason to trust a particular brand (candidate) over another. Your aim, then, is to amplify your brand’s strengths and advantages in order to shift them in your favor.

Marketing Lessons Political Campaigns

Conduct Systematic Targeting

Seldom will you see a political ad targeting a neutral, general-audience message. They almost always have a partisan lean, at least to some degree. That’s because the people running these campaigns know that it can be exceptionally difficult, if not impossible, to attract and win over the general public as a whole.

If political campaigns excel at anything, it’s this: they know who their supporters are. Campaigns expend a tremendous amount of time and resources to identify candidate supporters, how passionately they feel about the candidate, and how likely they are to actually go out and vote.

Campaign officials are well aware of which demographics their candidate appeals to the most. They are continually monitoring the opinions, trends, and political demands of their supporters, shifting the campaign’s focus as necessary to deliver solutions to their audience’s most pressing concerns.

This logic-based approach to audience targeting allows campaigns to spend money and time on potential or likely supporters rather than squandering those resources on individuals who will never be swayed to vote for their candidate.

Likewise, in order for marketers to reach their ideal base, they must first have to identify who these people are. This is where the concept of buyer personas comes in. Personas are fictional characterizations of your perfect customer. In crafting these, you’ll be able to identify which pain points your business is best-equipped to meet and how to go about communicating your value to that specific type of persona.

Far too many marketers are concentrating their efforts on a group of people that will almost certainly never buy the product they’re selling. Whether actively or accidentally, they’re overlooking a multitude of prospective buyers who may even already be geared up to become customers.

Sometimes, it’s because they’re unaware that this customer base exists. Other times, they neglect to look beyond the customer base that they do know. They can’t even fathom a particular demographic buying their product.

In both marketing and political campaigns, it’s always best to direct your efforts toward leads that are the most likely to convert. Start with the low-hanging fruit. Go for the near-potentials. Skip the probably-nots.

Execute Strategic Planning

Here’s where political campaigns and digital marketing are exactly alike. Voters and consumers are continuously seeking candidates or brands that have a message or a mission to work towards.

In the same way that a political party takes the time to carefully craft its position on hot-button issues, so must marketers devote ample time and resources into planning what their brand stands for.

Create Data-Driven Content

In the political world, data is nothing new – after all, the first political opinion poll in the United States was conducted in 1824. However, the way this data is collected and analyzed today is certainly more advanced.

With the right data in hand, political campaigns can get answers to crucial questions, like:

  • Is their message resonating with voters?
  • How many people support your candidate?
  • How many support their opponent?
  • Who are these people, and what do they care about?

Thanks to the growth of digital marketing, it’s now easier for marketers to measure, analyze, and review a whopping amount of data in real time. The key is effectively converting this information into content as innovatively as possible in order to send clear, captivating messages.

These data-driven messages are used to address present conditions and outline how your brand can aid in improving these conditions. This helps build trust with customers and increase awareness for your brand.

Unfortunately, many small- to medium-sized businesses don’t concern themselves with data – like, at all. They exhaust their meager marketing resources haphazardly and can’t actually identify what’s working and what isn’t. But today’s technology is cheaper and more accessible than ever. With user-friendly tools like Facebook Insights and Google Analytics in existence, you’re likely collecting valuable data – even if you’re not examining it. Since your competitors are already wielding this data to their advantage, you need to be as well.

Marketing Lessons Political Campaigns

Tell Your Story

Speeches, campaign fliers, and other political marketing materials are teeming with stories – miniature narratives about a candidate’s hometown, their family and friendships, early-career adversities, and their “everyman” vision for the country. These stories help soften a candidate’s image, while still making them appear accomplished and trustworthy. They’re designed to resonate – and the best ones do just that.

Small- and medium-sized businesses often fail to remember that they can and should tell compelling stories. Sharing your story helps personalize the company – and today’s consumers are looking for that kind of personalization in the businesses they purchase from.

It’s important to recall that consumers don’t spend their money logically. Purchasing, not unlike voting, is an emotion-based action. People want to feel like they know where their money is going and in whom they’re investing.

Businesses that tell – and live out – engaging stories will attract and retain more customers and land more referrals. When establishing your brand and formulating your marketing strategies, make sure that you integrate a decent measure of storytelling into the process.

Marketing Lessons Political Campaigns

Everyone’s a Marketer

It’s difficult for a small marketing department to keep pace with companies that have more personnel, more capital, and more expertise. What’s the solution? Make marketing everyone’s job.

Political campaigns have entire marketing departments dedicated to drafting messages, producing commercials, sending out mailers, and the like. But have a chat with any campaign staffer – from the lowly intern to the campaign manager – and they’ll rattle on indefinitely about why their candidate is the best.

If you’re doing your job, the team you’ve hired and the people you’ve surrounded yourself with are “true believers.” They understand that every dollar matters, because they have a vested interest in the company’s success. These natural brand advocates are capable of recruiting their friends, posting about the business on social media, editing and writing blog posts, and so much more! Marketing doesn’t have to be in their job description – they just have to be given the go-ahead to do it.

Build a Community

Businesses make mention of referrals all the time – and it’s no surprise. After all, people are four times more likely to purchase something if it’s been referred to them by a friend or family member. With all the amazing technological advances in recent years, word of mouth is still one of the most indispensable tools in your marketing toolbox.

Political campaigns have always been very successful at this. Referrals, sharing on social media, personal outreach – these are the things that help develop new relationships and bolster existing ones. Campaigns understand that their success or failure relies on building and maintaining relationships – with constituents, supporters, volunteers, and donors. The most effective campaigns leverage the personal networks of each and every member of their team.

Customers can be great assets when it comes to recruiting new customers, helping you find new markets for your products and services, and sharing your brand story. The way to make this happen is to create a strong community around your brand.

Invest in Social Media

Since the 2008 U.S. presidential election, social media has become an integral part of every major political campaign. Not only can candidates put themselves and their stances front-and-center where the majority of the population already spends a lot of their free time, they can also engage with audiences through live video, boost fundraising efforts, recruit and manage volunteers, and ask/answer questions from potential supporters.

In the business world, it’s clear that if you don’t have some sort of presence on social media, you’ll be disregarded as old-fashioned and out of touch. Having a solid social media marketing strategy for your business can open the door to a much larger prospect pool than you may think. Social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter keep your brand consistent and up-to-date on market trends.

Not only can you keep an eye on what your audience finds appealing, you can also monitor what your competitors are up to. Be mindful of what you choose to share, though. As beneficial as social media can be, it can also go wrong pretty quickly. Careless typos and inaccurate info can put an unwelcome spotlight on your brand in front of the community and the world at large.

Engage with Your Audience

From local politicians canvassing constituents door-to-door to presidential contenders and their arena-sized rallies, political candidates are well aware that in order to gain the trust (and votes) of the populace, they need to connect and interact with them personally.

Similarly, your business’s marketing and sales teams should be acutely aware of how crucial it is to exercise personal engagement in an attempt to capture leads.

From consultative selling to SMS marketing, it’s essential to get up close and personal with your customers. The more you can make your business relationship feel like a partnership rather than a dispassionate exchange, the better.

Connect with Influencers

Influencer marketing has undoubtedly proven to significantly benefit both politics and digital marketing. Influencers bring authenticity and trustworthiness to a brand or candidate. This helps both with positive public relations and moving your influencer’s followers in your direction as well.

Marketing Lessons Political Campaigns

Have a Contingency Plan

No matter how much you prepare and perfect a project, mistakes are bound to happen. Sometimes things fall through the cracks. Fortunately, it’s not always the mistake that your audience will remember. It’s how you handle it after the fact. Political campaign managers understand this well.

There are lots of moving parts in a campaign – not unlike there are in a business – and the key players understand that they need to have backup plans for their backup plans. Damage control is part and parcel of politics. The same can be said of marketing.

Not every marketing initiative is destined to be a success. You can fall flat in your messaging or have the project come apart at the seams before it even goes live. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a Plan B in place

Final Thoughts

It’s clear that – as annoying and repetitive as those ubiquitous ads may be – political campaigns have a lot to teach us about marketing.

As this election cycle winds down to its (undoubtedly) dramatic conclusion, organizations large and small would be wise to pay attention to the marketing strategies on display in the political realm. 

We may even be able to rip a page or two out of the  politicians’ playbooks that we can use for our own businesses!

If you need help developing a digital marketing strategy for your business, contact the friendly folks at HighClick Media! We’d be more than happy to help you #elevateyourbrand!

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How to Differentiate Your Products & Services in a Saturated Market

How to Differentiate Your Products & Services in a Saturated Market

 

Here’s an experiment for you to try. Type the product or service that your business provides into a search engine. No business name, no location, just the sector you serve. Did you get millions of results? Yeah. I did, too.

The fact of the matter is, in some areas, the market is simply oversaturated. In certain spaces, standing out can be really difficult.

Whether by lowering your prices, boosting the quality of your products, or making the buying experience simple and convenient, you have to find ways to establish your brand as superior to the competition within the same space.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider these five strategies for distinguishing your business in a crowded market:

Know Your Competition

All those search results you came up with aren’t necessarily cause for concern for your business. As a matter of fact, you can put those results to good use by clicking on the top hits to see what you’re up against. After all, they are your competition.

Examine their features, price points, and return policies. Pay attention to their branding and messaging. Try to locate info on their suppliers as well as their purchasing strategies. Browse through their social media pages, paying special attention to one-star and five-star reviews.

Anything consumers dislike about your competitors is an opportunity for you to do more successfully. Something at which your competitors excel should be a foundational area of focus in regard to your products or services. 

Find Your Niche

Within any market there are an endless number of niches. Some landscaping companies specialize in lawn care; within lawn care, some providers concentrate on either residential or commercial services.

In an oversaturated space, it may seem as though every niche has already been spoken for. If that’s the case, don’t try to directly compete with others; rather, create your own niche.

If your product or service has already been launched, you may be forced to pivot. Before committing to redevelopment, do some research. Is the niche you’ve chosen large enough to support your company? What are consumers’ specific areas of concern? Before jumping in headfirst, make sure you’re capable of addressing these pain points profitably. 

Streamline Your Channel

How do you distribute your products? In certain markets, complicated supply chains cause products to pass through half a dozen hands before making it to the end user.

Cutting out some of the intermediaries will not only help you price your products more cost-effectively, but it will also allow you to create tighter feedback loops with your customers. Perform a comprehensive supply chain audit to identify any steps you could eliminate from the chain.

Develop Your Street (Or Online) Cred

In a crowded market, credibility is key. Consumers frankly don’t want to bother with researching a thousand different brands, so they pick the one they know and trust.

Establishing a trustworthy brand is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep tabs on your social media pages to see what customers are saying about your products and services. Read every rating and review you receive. Be mindful of what customers like and dislike about your products, customer service, and delivery.

Don’t respond in anger when you encounter negative reviews. Instead, strive to make changes that speak to those concerns and emphasize your best features. Being quick to react will cultivate consumer trust and translate into positive buzz around your brand.

Don’t Simply Make Sales – Build Relationships

There’s another good reason why branding takes time. It’s because building rewarding relationships with customers doesn’t happen immediately.

Making genuine connections with customers is akin to cooking an authentic dish: The proper ingredients – exemplary customer service, a dynamite product, and a pinch of personalization, to name a few – must be blended properly and simmered steadily.

Regardless of the density of your market, setting your business apart from its competitors is no easy task. If you want to inspire loyalty from old customers and sway new ones to choose you, you’ll have to do your homework.

If you need help distinguishing your brand in a crowded market, digital marketing can be a great solution. The friendly folks at HighClick Media are experts at all aspects of digital media, including search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, and email marketing. Give us a call at 252.814.2150 to see how we can help you elevate your brand!

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Are You Using Chatbots to Grow Your Business?

Are You Using Chatbots to Grow Your Business

 

Some entrepreneurs can be overwhelmed by advanced technology. With conversational interfaces powered by artificial intelligence (AI) experiencing greater use in sales and marketing, business leaders must either take the bull by the horns or hire a professional in order to make the most of the technology.

Since social media and chat marketing are vital to ecommerce and startup retention, overlooking the benefits of chatbot automation can be detrimental.

Read on to find out how your growing business can increase sales, become more efficient, and respond to online inquiries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the use of automated chatbots.

 

Top 3 Benefits of AI-Assisted Chatbots for Businesses

 

Deliver Real-Time Sales and Marketing Communication

Selling products online and marketing on social media both require engaging with consumers 24/7/365. Chatbots give you a competitive advantage because they produce leads and answer customers’ questions around the clock. By interacting and providing solutions in real time, chatbots can even help dissuade visitors from abandoning your site in favor of the competition’s.

A big shift in consumer behavior is emerging with regards to messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and SMS. People are increasingly using these apps for more than just texting, performing actions such as booking reservations, conducting research, scheduling meetings, and making purchases.

Since “revenue-facing” chatbots can steer consumers down the funnel to an eventual sale, organizations are able to identify a direct route to ROI and greater efficiency.

Provide Site Visitors with Contextual, AI-Powered Support

AI-driven bots have become formidable tools for marketers and businesses. A common misconception is that a chatbot’s primary benefit is answering FAQs, when actually the opposite is true. Customer support is just one of the many significant advantages of chatbots.

When a chatbot does deliver customer support, it’s value-driven and contextual. Bots employ the data they have on a customer combined with AI to engage with each customer exclusively and provide them a delightful, efficient, and unforgettable experience.

For most startups, the major benefit of chatbots is to answer the typical questions about the business’s products and/or services. Bots increase customer engagement and satisfaction, while also affording owners more time to oversee the business and employees to boost sales.

Organizations must optimize automated responses for clarity, conciseness, and conversational language. With chatbots, businesses should concentrate on assisting the customer at each step of the way.

Responsiveness places the firm in a positive light. According to a Salesforce report, 62% of customers say they are likely to share their negative experiences with others.

Make a list of your customers’ most common queries and be sure to optimize each response. It’s crucial to pinpoint what consumers are looking for from your platform. What do they want and how are you assisting them in their pursuit?

According to the 2018 State of Chatbots Report, the top three use cases for chatbots are: obtaining a quick answer in the event of an emergency (37%), resolving a problem (35%), and receiving a detailed answer or explanation (35%). Simply put, conversational bots reduce friction in a customer’s journey.

Seal the Deal with Buyers

Consumers inquiring online or on social media are often prepared to make a purchase decision at that precise moment. Companies should endeavor to “close” visitors who are asking purchase questions in real time in order to prevent them from visiting the competitor’s site.

According to a 2018 Accenture survey, 57% of executives report that conversational bots can deliver a huge return on investment with very little effort on the part of the business. Additionally, 61% say they anticipate a boost in employee productivity while 60% expect improved handling of client inquiries thanks to conversational bots.

Conclusion

When executed successfully, bot applications present a clear-cut and replicable path to ROI. Consumers have loftier expectations these days. Accordingly, more businesses are utilizing this burgeoning technology because people prefer real-time interaction with customer support. Chatbots provide businesses with the capability to be extraordinarily responsive.

Are you using chatbots to grow your business? If not, now’s the time to take advantage of them! Not sure how to get started? The friendly folks at HighClick Media will be more than happy to assist you. Give us a call at 252.814.2150 today!

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Why do Brands Fail to Engage with Women?

Why Do Brands Fail to Engage with Women?

If you’ve ever questioned the buying power of women, check out these stats: in 85% of households, women are the chief decision-makers with regards to purchasing consumer goods. They also make a whopping 81% of the decisions connected with grocery shopping.

With that many women out there making these everyday decisions, it would be unwise for any brand to neglect to connect with them in both their branding and marketing efforts. Worse still, it could be disastrous for a brand to try but thoroughly fall flat when attempting to reach out to women.

There are any number of reasons why your marketing to women may be unsuccessful: it might be ill-conceived humor, ignoring certain demographics, or depicting antiquated concepts. Regardless of the reason, these missteps should never happen to begin with, as it could prompt women to shy away from your brand altogether.

If you want to make certain that your marketing to women always yields results – and who wouldn’t? – be sure to avoid these infamous blunders.

How Brands Fail to Engage with Women

Dignifying Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pressing concern that far too many women worldwide have to endure. One of the most highly publicized cases of domestic violence transpired between rapper/singer Chris Brown and pop star Rihanna.

While it would clearly be in poor taste for any brand to exploit this situation as part of an ad campaign, that was apparently not the case for Snapchat.

In 2018, the social media platform promoted an in-app game using an ad that directly made reference to Brown’s 2009 assault.

The ad did not get past Rihanna, who lashed out at Snapchat in an Instagram story with an unequivocal call-out to the social networking site:

Several notable public figures, including Chelsea Clinton, took to social media to back up Rihanna and condemn the ad. All of this caused considerable repercussions for Snapchat, as $1 billion was promptly erased from the value of the brand’s parent company, Snap Inc. Shares in the company abruptly plunged by 5% as well.

Marketing Specifically to Moms Rather Than to Women In General

One clear-cut way to curtail your connection with women is by being restrictive to particular demographics. If you choose to overlook certain groups of women in your ads and branding, there is no chance these women will acknowledge your brand when they’re  seeking new products and services.

Tanya Williams, author of A Childfree Happily Ever After, explains how companies that only single out mothers are guilty of this:

“One of my pet peeves, and something I’m trying to change, is how most brands think they need to market to moms not women. I’m so sick of seeing ads for anything to do with the house and lifestyle, making the assumption that you’re a mother if you’re a woman!”

Contemporary ad agencies and marketers must get with the program and recognize that not every woman is a mother. Indeed, nearly 1 in 4 women are now opting to be childfree. In response, marketers must keep pace and exemplify what’s actually happening in reality, not merely what they think is.

Catering to mothers might have been a shrewd strategy a few decades ago – when the average number of births was markedly higher than it is today – but now, ads squarely aimed at mothers often spark contempt and criticism.

Ads that do depict women merely as mothers are frequently characterized as sexist. Case in point, this 2013 Asda ad:

In this television spot for the UK supermarket titan, an exhausted yet ever-exuberant mom is saddled with the difficult task of readying her family for Christmas – from grocery shopping alone with the kids, to seeing to all the decorations, and preparing the big family dinner.

Not only did this ad overlook women who aren’t mothers, it also caused a huge backlash, as many viewers felt the stereotype of the frazzled mother planning the entire Christmas celebration on her own was exceedingly misogynistic. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – a major advertising watchdog in the UK – received 600 complaints categorizing the ad as offensive and sexist.

Not Including Women with Disabilities

Appealing exclusively to mothers isn’t the only way a brand could be regarded as neglecting a specific demographic of women. Employing a homogeneous cast of women for ads and branding can also prevent companies from effectively reaching out to crucial minority groups.

Lisa Cox, an author, speaker, and consultant explains further:

“We are only ever presented with a monotype – but women of all different ages, sizes, abilities, and more are consumers with money to spend. This lack of representation is bad for society and bad for business. As a disabled woman, I’m now working with mainstream brands to better educate them around the value of representation – for me and for their bottom line.”

The disabled community has over $266 billion in purchasing power, so it would be irresponsible of brands to exclude women with disabilities from their marketing campaigns. Not only would businesses be missing out on all this potential spending, but it could also trigger significant fallout for them.

By way of example, take a look at what happened to Vogue Brasil in 2016. The fashion brand used an Instagram post to promote the Paralympic Games by showcasing two of the game’s celebrity ambassadors. There was just one problem, however – neither ambassador was actually disabled, and the image had been altered to remove a limb from each of the athletes.

This image – alongside the caption “We Are All Paralympians” – was seen as highly insensitive, and media reaction against the brand was swift and intense.

On the flip side, a brand that has been favorably recognized for its use of differently abled models is Tommy Hilfiger. In recent years, the international clothing brand introduced its Tommy Adaptive line, which is exclusively targeted towards people with disabilities. Marketing campaigns centered around this line have featured actual disabled models as well.

Taking the initiative to accommodate physically disadvantaged fashion enthusiasts, Tommy Hilfiger has seen its revenues and profits skyrocket. The clothing line launched in early 2018, and – coupled with heavy investments in new data and technology to modernize its brand – the Tommy Adaptive campaign helped push sales to $4.2 billion, a massive increase from the $3.3 billion it reported just three years earlier.

A Lack of Diversity in Brand Marketing

Many brand campaigns in the past have also notably disregarded women of color. Nowadays, the vast majority of brands incorporate minority models into their marketing ads. However, one realm where there’s still a lack of diversity is social media influencers, a large number of whom are white.

In 2018, the American clothing brand Altar’d State encountered criticism over this very issue when they posted photos from a “blogger adventure” which they had hosted. Followers hastily drew attention to the fact that all the influencers and bloggers who took part in the event were white. In fact, the attendees were so similar that it wasn’t difficult to spot that they all had blonde hair – aside from just one influencer who was a brunette.

One commenter weighed in with this scathing reply: “Why is your Instagram account all skinny white girls? This is 2019! There are a lot more diverse girls out there who need to be seen. I like your stuff, but this is not OK. Wish there was more diversity in your marketing.”

By only involving a very specific group of women, Altar’d State was unwittingly conveying the message that their clothing and this experience were not intended for “others.” In essence, it demonstrated that the brand was designed exclusively for thin, blonde white women.

In a nation where Black women comprise 14% of the population and have a spending power of $1.2 trillion, that the brand was implicitly turning down the potential of huge quantities of sales and revenue – all while discounting a huge segment of the populace (namely non-whites) – was inconceivable.

Excluding Plus-Size Women

Another way that brands can fail to connect with women is by not being considerate of the size of models used in their social media posts and marketing ads.

Claire Jensen, a stylist based in Australia, has personally experienced this:

“As a style 14 to 16 in Australia, I find the fit of garments is so out of touch with how women’s body shapes actually are at this size. For me, and many of my clients – who are various sizes – the hips, bottom, and thighs fit tightly, and the waist is far too big.

“In Australia, the average woman is a size 14 to 16 – but the general size of a curve [plus-size] model is a 10 to 12. So, there’s a huge discrepancy there alone. While some brands are stepping up in this department, there’s still a lot of work to be done. I don’t think using a size 12 ‘plus-size’ model is cutting it anymore. For many consumers, and for my clients, they want to see a vast representation of not just different cultures, skin tones, [and] ethnicities, but also shapes. Even brands that utilize influencers to help build brand awareness or boost sales need to start looking outside of sample sizes.”

Claire mentions the Australian clothing retailer Country Road as an example. Although the brand has recently started to showcase models from a broader range of backgrounds and ethnicities, they’re still not up to scratch when it comes to their use of plus-sized models.

“As a store that offers up to a size 16, there’s nothing on the site or across their socials to show their garments on someone of this size. So, as a customer, it’s hard to really know how that’s going to look on a curvier shape. I work with a lot of clients who range from a size 12 to a size 20 – and so many of them tell me they find it hard to know where to shop, based on the fact they can’t see someone who reflects their size or shape in marketing or on online stores, which deters them from making a purchase.”

One apparel brand that directly experienced the damaging effects of not creating plus-size clothing was Lucy & Yak. Known for producing ethical and sustainable clothing with an emphasis on comfort for the wearer, the brand has done remarkably well over the past few years thanks to their savvy  social media strategy and by teaming up with influencers across a variety of platforms.

Be that as it may, behind the scenes the brand has repeatedly been questioned by plus-size consumers as to why their clothing line was not size-inclusive.

This all simmered to a boil in September 2020 when popular Instagrammer Aja Barber confronted the brand directly with a variety of concerns, including a lack of size inclusivity, exploiting influencers as free labor, and not sufficiently addressing any of the criticisms leveled against them.

Lucy & Yak’s founders took to Instagram and posted apology videos, but these didn’t go over well with their customer base – who regarded them as strictly performative.

As if that wasn’t enough, the matter quickly intensified when the brand allowed comments under their apology video to go unmoderated for an entire day. During that time, there was a great deal of racist and bigoted invective aimed at Aja Barber for daring to speak her mind. Ultimately, Lucy & Yak was compelled to issue a statement in which, amongst other things, they laid out “action points” that could be put in place to create a safer space for online followers and vowed to form an advisory panel.

Devaluing Women’s Successes

You might have observed how some brands continue to depict women working in the kitchen instead of calling the shots in the boardroom.

As Lisa Sweeney of Business in Heels points out:

“Brands continue to fail women with ongoing stereotyping and by downplaying their success. It’s amazing that successful entrepreneurs who have made it, who now have big teams and an office continue to be depicted in their kitchens. When was the last time you saw a male entrepreneur in his garage?

“Incredibly inspirational women end up with more coverage about their appearance than their content, and we still are given a perception that you need to be a slim, well-dressed woman to be successful.”

One such condescending campaign is the “Girl Boss” ad from PeoplePerHour. Unveiled across London tube stations in 2019, the ad featured a laughing woman accompanied by the caption: “You do the girl boss thing. We’ll do the SEO thing.”

As Emma Sexton proposed on Twitter, the ad could have been vastly improved simply by changing a couple of words: “You do the CEO thing. We’ll do the SEO thing.”

In minimizing the woman’s success by designating it as the “girl boss thing,” PeoplePerHour risked alienating a significant portion of their target audience. Unsurprisingly, there were serious repercussions on social media, and – after receiving a number of complaints – the ASA banned the ad.

As Megan Thudium, Senior Consultant at MTC | The Content Agency, stated:

“Women are now holding more leadership positions in 2020 (29%) than in previous years. Marketing messaging that still references sexual innuendos or graphics of only men in corporate offices should be challenged. Marketing should speak to the needs of the market, and the women of this market are telling brands ‘enough is enough.’ We demand inclusive marketing.”

Further Consideration

Each of the brand blunders described above could have been easily averted, chiefly by challenging stereotypes and featuring a broader lineup of women in all their advertising materials. The aftereffects of failing to do so could be catastrophic for businesses from a public-relations standpoint, not to mention the potentiality of lost sales and revenue.

To safeguard your brand against these and other similar issues, think conscientiously about women as your target audience. Pay attention to them as the diverse group that they are, and ponder what they might want to see in targeted advertising.

What inspires them? What are their wants and needs? By answering these questions, you should be able to craft brand marketing that engages women and motivates them to take a closer look at your business.

For more expert advice on how to effectively connect with women in your advertising and brand marketing, reach out to us at HighClick Media by calling 252.814.2150 today!

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6 Unconventional Strategies for Connecting with Customers

6 Unconventional Strategies for Connecting with Customers

If you’re like most businesses, you’re always on the lookout for new and effective methods to connect with your customers. Proven tactics, such as customizing messages to small sections of your audience and looking for new techniques to add value, are all well and good. 

But how do you engage with customers in such a way that causes them to respond positively toward your content? In this article, we’ll explore six unconventional strategies to better relate to your customers and keep them coming back time and time again.

 

What did you call me? ~ Mohawk Girls

Label Your Customers

If you ask anyone point-blank, they’ll probably say that they don’t like to be labeled or compartmentalized. But recent research paints a decidedly different picture. When voters were designated as “politically active,” their turnout was 15% higher than those not given a specific label.

From a marketing standpoint, when a business chooses to label a customer or group of customers as “elite” or “platinum,” it provides these individuals with feelings of superiority. This may prompt customers to view themselves as specifically catered to by your company.

Yes, we have definitely started something. ~ Gilmore Girls

Serve As Your Own Devil’s Advocate

Social psychologist Charlan Nemeth discovered that interjecting a devil’s advocate into a debate doesn’t typically compel a person to reassess their particular way of thinking. Rather, it has a tendency to toughen the resolve of the individual being questioned.

When your business puts forth a brand statement like – “Some might say that our Rocket Blaster is complex, but let’s face it…rocket scientists aren’t known for being simple!” – you’re encouraging your customers to go all out in supporting your brand and not disparaging it.

You definitely have to give and take. In anything. ~ TLC

Cultivate Reciprocity

It’s one of the more enigmatic of customer responses, but offering patrons a small, complimentary gift has been legitimately proven to boost response rates. As surprising as it might sound, even something as simple as a free soda can heighten a customer’s sense of commitment to your company.

You can experiment with a wide range of fringe benefits, from stunning your customer with an overnight delivery simply to dazzle them, or adding in a bonus “Thank You” gift as part of their shipment.

You're like a bad guy, right? SHAZAM!

Identify an Adversary (Or Even an Archenemy)

People are deeply connected to their social groups, even when the dissimilarities of “outsiders” are seemingly negligible or even irrelevant. Roasting a rival company or simply declaring “this is how our customers differ from our competitors’ customers” can be an effective method for fostering brand loyalty.

This technique isn’t necessarily about discrediting your competition. In fact, it’s much more productive when you employ it as a method to demonstrate your core values and how they set you apart from the rest.

Don't just stand there! Do something! Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Stand For Something

Taking a stand for something offers advantages far beyond eliciting a customer response. Allowing your customers to join you in a cause is an ideal way to form a lasting connection. In recent years, consumers swarmed to purchase Toms footwear not just because they were comfortable shoes, but also because the brand provided a convenient way for customers to embrace its overarching mission: to donate a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair they sold.

If you haven’t already pinpointed a way to give back to the community, make sure to opt for something that dovetails with your brand. For example, if your business specializes in organic, homemade pet treats, consider how you might be able to support a local animal shelter by organizing a puppy food drive or spotlighting pets that need to be adopted.

Oops, I did it again! Britney Spears

Acknowledge Your Shortcomings

When something goes awry, you can transform it into an opportunity to engage with your customers. While you might be inclined to respond defensively or clarify why what transpired isn’t truly your fault, that’s not your wisest move.

Based on research from social psychologist Fiona Lee, customers will respond more sympathetically toward a business that assumes responsibility for a slip-up and outlines how they will rectify it. While it may be true that outside forces precipitated the problem in the first place, a company is more likely to be regarded by customers as capable of overcoming the issue when they are willing to take ownership of it.

I love making connections. David Rose, Schitt's Creek

 

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the best way to connect with your customers is by communicating to them on a personal level about how your product or service adds value. The more individualized your messaging is, the better. 

By employing one or more of the tactics outlined above, you can expect dramatically improved response rates which can help further strengthen those connections.

Want to know more about how you can harness the power of digital marketing to make even better connections with your customers? Give the friendly folks at HighClick Media a call at 252.814.2150 today!

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