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4 Ways Content Creates Customers

The bygone days of a majority of the nation listening to a radio broadcast or tuning into the nightly news are over. Now we have a thousand and one ways of finding information at the click of a button. Not only has the medium of communication changed, but also the way consumers respond to marketing. People are exposed to so many traditional marketing messages per day that they have actually developed a form of “attention immunity” and have stopped responding to them. If businesses want to succeed, they must find a new way to reach customers, and content marketing provides the perfect answer: fulfilling the need to search for information, versus the search for products.

 

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If you think content marketing takes too much time or money, or is too complicated, read the reasons why it’s worth the investment below and think again.

 

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Consumers have more trust in marketing from brands they are familiar with. This doesn’t mean your marketing efforts will be fruitless if you are a new business or in need of a refresh; it just means you will need a different strategy to get noticed. Content marketing is all about creating a credible relationship with your customer, and a blog can be a great way to introduce your business to consumers in a way that addresses their needs and answers their questions. Think about your target audience – you don’t want a ‘one and done’ sale, you ideally want to create loyalty and access their network of friends. To do this, you must let them know why they should buy your products and services.

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Consumers don’t want to be sold to; they want to be provided with a solution to fit their needs. Traditional marketing focuses on the call-to-action and sale, while content marketing utilizes “The Golden Rule” of treating people like people and not a revenue stream. Although the goal is ultimately to increase traffic and sales, content focuses on providing useful information to the consumer. Because consumers are not bombarded with a sales pitch, they feel more comfortable engaging with your business, and in turn, forming a discussion that can not only make your future content more relevant, but engage more consumers in the process.

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 If word of mouth travels a mile a minute, engaging online content travels ten. Traditional marketing doesn’t usually travel well; you may reach your intended audience, but not far beyond that. On the other hand, social media has no boundaries, so you might even reach audiences you didn’t know existed. By creating content that resonates and builds rapport with viewers, you can grow your network tenfold when they share it with their friends and colleagues, who share it with their friends and colleagues, and so on. This provides you with a globetrotting reach that might cost tens of thousands of dollars through traditional media.

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Every business strives for the benefits above, but most don’t have millions of dollars to spend on their marketing efforts. The good news is that online marketing has sophisticated analytics and progressively accurate tools to measure results, making it easier to adjust your marketing to fit user needs than traditional media.

Still need more convincing about how your investment in content can go a lot further than other marketing methods? According to a study done on content marketing ROI by Kapost and ELOQUA, content generates three times more leads per dollar than traditional media. Not only that, in the long run it also generates 31 leads for every $1,000 spent, versus nine from paid searches, and the cost is 31% lower for a mid-sized business than paid search marketing.

While content marketing is a great way to make a lasting impression on consumers, it is important to understand that it is not an advertising campaign, but a long-term effort to actually become the media and earn an audience versus renting one, which requires the investment of time and money. The benefit is that once you’ve built an audience through content marketing, you own it and it continues to grow and generate greater results. Unlike traditional marketing, you no longer have to continue paying for more and more advertising placement. Let SMG put our energy into creating content that is valuable and useful to your consumers, making a lasting impact on your business.

3 Things Your Marketing Strategy Has to Have

Once upon a time, marketing was as simple as taking an ad out in the local newspaper, making sure your company was listed in the yellow pages, and having great word of mouth (and a radio ad or two), but that was twenty years ago. This type of outbound marketing worked – but technology has helped the world become more personalized, and your marketing strategy has to keep pace if it is going to reach the right people. Times have changed, and your marketing strategy has to change with them.

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Be Proactive: Marketing is what you do on a daily basis to connect with consumers. It is all about the impression you leave and the value you create in the consumer’s mind. Being proactive means that you are putting your customers’ wants and needs at the forefront of your company’s focus. It isn’t enough to just post things on your websites and social media pages and hope the right people see them — you have to actively connect with your customers.

Being proactive is the number one habit of highly effective people, and it is a characteristic of most successful marketing campaigns. Companies that are proactive in their marketing efforts tend to have better competitive positioning, use their marketing budgets more efficiently, and develop better brand loyalty.

Keep it Simple: One of the bad things about living in a highly personalized world is that consumers are hit with dozens of marketing messages every day. They pop up on television, they appear in games, they are on the top and side bars of every web search. It can be overwhelming. So what is the number one thing that makes one company stand out from another?

According to this article in the Harvard Business Review, the answer is “decision simplicity — the ease with which consumers can gather trustworthy information about a product and confidently and efficiently weigh their purchase options.” In other words, your customers want to be able to weigh their options, so make the pertinent information easy to find. In fact, companies that simplify their marketing messages find that customers are 86% more likely to purchase their products and 115% more likely to recommend them. This concept is the basis behind Apple’s classic “I’m a Mac ” ads and Miller Lite’s “Great Taste, Less Filling” ads. Simplicity works.

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Stay Modern: Today’s consumers are increasingly tech savvy, and that trend is only going to continue going forward. Make sure your marketing efforts keep pace. Most companies do not use the marketing technology they have available to them very efficiently. At the same time, many companies are too busy to be aware of all the emerging opportunities technology presents. In contrast, most successful marketing strategies stay modern.

According to Forbes, marketing teams have people who “monitor the marketplace, identify business opportunities, collaborate with product people and run promotional campaigns.” They are also responsible for “identifying emerging opportunities, meeting with start-ups and running test-and-learn programs to evaluate their true potential.”

Developing a marketing strategy takes skill and time. You have to identify your customers’ needs and find ways of communicating the benefits your product or service offers, all while delivering those messages in the most modern way. Most companies do not have the luxury of having a dedicated marketing staff. Luckily, you can hire one! To learn more about how SMG can help you develop a successful marketing strategy for your company, visit our website!

Not Sure If Marketing Is In Your Budget? Think Again.

Thousands of new and developing companies are on a tight budget, a budget that does not allow them the same freedom and ability to experiment that established and larger reputable companies have. Marketing, a staple in practically all major brands and industries, is deemed a necessity to help gain and retain a solid customer base. But what about the new, budget-conscious companies that have to think about every dollar they spend? For these brands, marketing dollars are almost always on the chopping block, but why?

What Your Marketing Dollars Really Get You, by JD David, is an enlightening article featured on LinkedIn that said it well: “Marketing is designed to engage, not sell.” Although the effect of utilizing a marketing strategy is not always tangible in terms of return on investment (ROI), it will have a profound and noticeable effect on your brand’s image and the perceived experience it gives customers. Bottom line: it will get customers knocking on your door!

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One solid reason marketing works is that it creates an experience that entices customers to walk in your front door. It engages them without their knowing, and without advertising, the experience and effect you want to create around your brand can be lost quickly. So although your sales department may ultimately get your sales, often what gets customers to the point of purchase is seeing your eye-catching commercial or following your social feed filled with useful information. Your marketing efforts are giving the potential customer a first impression, and you want that first impression to stand out. This is what the article is getting at; although it is sometimes hard to see the direct effect of your marketing strategy (or dollars), it’s still an essential component of your brand’s success.

New start-ups, companies having difficult economic times, or those that are re-branding have the greatest need to adopt this way of thinking. Even though marketing dollars may seem like a sacrifice, they will give your brand the ROI that you can’t always see coming, and that will always make a difference.

So the next time you are allocating your brand’s tight budget, remember why you should put some of that towards your marketing strategy.

Don’t forget to take a look at that “What Your Marketing Dollars Really Get You” article featured on LinkedIn, and stop by our website to see what services we can offer your brand.

3 Best Marketing Practices for Your Growing Business

Inbound and outbound marketing are very different ways of engaging with your customers. One focuses on broadcasting a message while the other is a much more personalized experience, but both methods are necessary to succeed in today’s market. The best companies differentiate their marketing efforts, meaning that they use both inbound and outbound marketing techniques. Here are three examples of today’s strategies on inbound and outbound marketing.

Know Your Audience

Take for example President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. His staff used inbound marketing to increase his reach to younger voters, but rather than trying to create the sort of rallies that draw a younger crowd, they took their pitch to where their prospective audience already was – social media. The Obama campaign was active on twice as many social media platforms as the campaign for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, and provided nearly four times as much content.

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Take a Stand

Another way to use inbound marketing to grow your business is to take a stand on an issue. It could be directly related to your business, such as a restaurant that does not serve GMO foods writing about associated health risks, or it could take a broader approach, like Oreo did in 2012 when the company released a series of gay rights ads on Facebook during Pride Month to commemorate the cookie’s 100th anniversary. Not all the reactions were positive, but it got people talking. Over 143,000 people “liked” the post and over 18,000 people commented on it.

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Create Engagement

According to Variety, almost 70% of people record television shows on a DVR so they can avoid commercials. Rather than fight it, Netflix-rival Hulu came up with a different strategy – choose your own experience. Before watching many shows or movies on Hulu, viewers are asked which ad experience they would prefer, like PayPal’s “People Rule” campaign that gave viewers a choice between ads centered on the service’s speed or its security. By introducing a choice, viewers were engaged with the ads in a way they never would have been had they aired on television.

Reaching your audience, talking about issues that matter to them, and creating ways for existing and prospective customers to engage with your company will help take your marketing efforts to the next level. To learn more about how SMG can help you develop successful outbound and inbound marketing strategies for your company, visit our website!

Top 3 Ways to Properly Use Hashtags

Ahhhhh, hashtags… If you or your brand have been on social media at all in the past few years, then we can only assume you’ve been confronted with the use and misuse of hashtags. Plus, in recent years, it’s been almost impossible not to see multi-million-dollar campaigns with hashtags as their main focus on a daily basis. What exactly is a hashtag? A hashtag symbolizes a trending topic (such as #SuperBowlXLIX or #JeSuisCharlie) that makes itself visible on social media by placing a good old pound sign ‘#’ in front of the topic. By using a hashtag, a social media user can click on the link created by the hashtag and see additional articles, posts and images concerning the same subject.

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Hashtags are incredibly popular for social media marketing use; however, they can be very overwhelming and confusing. This is why it is so important to use them properly – especially if you are a brand trying to obtain and maintain followers on multiple social media platforms. Take a look at our top three ways you can properly use hashtags in your social media marketing strategy.

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1. Use Sparingly – Since hashtags symbolize trending topics, it’s important to remember that in a Facebook or Twitter post, you should not go “hashtag happy”; not every word is in itself a trending topic. Limit the amount of hashtags to an average of one to three per post, depending on the length and content. For example, let’s say if you are posting about a giveaway your brand is doing during a football game, your post could go something like this:

“Don’t forget! Submit a picture of your favorite game-day traditions and you could win tickets to the Wildcats’’ next home game. #GameDayGiveaway #GoWildCats”

2. Look to Other Trending Topics – Although implementing your own trending hashtag can be forward-thinking, sometimes picking up on an already trending hashtag can make you incredibly visible across multiple social media platforms. However, you have to make sure you complement the hashtag with rich and meaningful content that will stick out amongst the rest. For instance, if you are adding to the trending topic #GoldenGlobes, you’d want to add thoughtful and critical remarks about the films and television shows that were featured, and stay away from typical or convenient remarks like “We loved to watch [Insert Actor’s Name] win an award!” This would get lost in the messy clutter.

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3. Ensure They Are Crystal-Clear – If you take away only one thing from this blog, let this be it! Making sure your hashtags are understandable is of the utmost importance. So many times we find ourselves re-reading hashtags to make sure we understood them correctly; this is because either there are too many words included in the hashtag, the letters are all in lower-case, or they are not used properly in the sentence or post. To ensure your hashtags are read properly, it is best to separate each word in the hashtag with a capital letter (for example, #BringBackOurGirls is much easier to follow than #bringbackourgirls). It is also important to keep the hashtag fairly brief when possible. For example: #LetsGoGreenBayPackers is way too long. #GoPackGo would do just fine! Remember, it’s incredibly important to re-read your hashtags before you post and make sure others can comprehend them before you deploy them on social media.

Of course, hashtags can work seamlessly in various areas of your brand’s marketing efforts. They incorporate and create trending topics in a slick, easy way that can link your brand to other brands and people focusing on similar issues and topics. If you use them properly, you will undoubtedly start to see a growth in your number of followers, shares, likes, pins, and re-tweets!

#HappyHashtagging, everyone!