Category : Marketing Strategy

Holiday MarketingHow to Market Meaningfully During the Holidays

How to Market Meaningfully During the Holidays

The holidays are busy for just about everyone, including businesses. Between last minute product orders, tight deadlines, and personal obligations, executives in the B2B marketplace are not likely to want to take your calls, open an eblast, or read a lengthy blog on your latest product or service. This is why so many marketers fall back on “fun” and “light” holiday content that doesn’t actually provide meaningful information to their audience, hoping that a heavy dose of holiday cheer will be more readily consumed. Though this type of content might seem more digestible, it tends to be equally useless to both the industry and your brand. Here’s how to create content that is both relevant and eye-catching during a time of the year when your target market doesn’t have much time to stop and listen to you.

Substantive Content Can and Should Relate to the Holidays

It turns out that you don’t have to choose between content that matters and content that’s relevant to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Every business has needs and concerns specific to the holiday season. Almost any product or service can be dressed up with special Holiday pricing or messaging. At 360 Direct, we’ve marketed everything from robots to cardboard during the holidays, so you can trust us on this one. Finding the right holiday-related topic can be as simple as asking your customers how their business changes from October through December. Do orders slow down or speed up? Do their operations experience problems with consistency, efficiency, or workplace safety due to higher stress and shorter deadlines? Does their fiscal year end with the calendar year, and thus they are in the middle of spending the rest of their budget or determining new contracts? Find a way that your business can help mitigate those problems and market it.

A pretty eblast wishing your email list a generic “Happy Holidays” is a lot less compelling than one that addresses a problem your target market is experiencing right now, because of the holidays.

Timing is Everything During the Holidays

At the very least, time your messages wisely. You can still discuss business that isn’t holiday related, but maybe don’t send your email the week of Thanksgiving or few days after the holiday when everyone is inundated with Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails. Avoid the days directly surrounding a major holiday, when many people use PTO to travel. Even the days after a holiday, when people are getting back to the office, but they have to catch up on a full inbox of everything they missed.

It’s not just about emails! If you are sending a direct mail piece, double check to make sure it won’t arrive to its destination when people are out of the office. You don’t want it to sit in their mailbox for a full week before they finally get around to going through days and days of mail.

Keep Holiday Marketing Short and Sweet

Remember, in B2B marketing, your target is likely short on time and patience during the holidays. Even if they happen to be in a particularly cheery mood, you shouldn’t bank on their willingness to dig through a dissertation for relevant information. Whatever substantive content you have to offer, get the point. Bring in a professional copywriter to fine-tune your messaging and make your content compelling, maybe even fun if it it’s applicable to your audience. Keeping your holiday marketing positive, informative, and solution-oriented keeps your audience motivated and engaged.

Now there’s nothing wrong with sending your prospective customers a Christmas card, or posting a holiday-themed graphic on Twitter, but your marketing does not need to be limited to unsubstantial content. For more tips on B2B marketing during the holidays, connect with one of our marketing experts via our Contact page.

photo credit: Theo Crazzolara Weihnachstkugeln via photopin (license)

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When should you fire your marketing agency?When to FIRE Your Marketing Agency

When to FIRE Your Marketing Agency

Marketing agencies can take a business to the next level. They should help your business grow and achieve goals. You know that, that’s why you hired them to begin with! But if your agency seems to be hindering you more than helping you, it’s time to rethink your relationship with an agency. Using a marketing agency requires a trusting relationship between the company and agency. While a marketing agency may use tactics that are new to your company – after all, you hired them because they are marketing experts and you wanted to expand your efforts! – you should be very involved and feel included in all efforts. Here are some signs you need to look elsewhere.

They are out of touch with your needs.

An agency should be responsive to your needs. While there should be a general plan, it should be flexible within the scope of your working relationship with them. The agency should be flexible enough to adapt to your goals and needs, not using a one-size-fits-all template of services. If you request specific efforts or marketing campaigns, and they refuse to alter or consider other opportunities or strategies, you need someone who better understands your goals.

The materials or services they provide for you should be mutually agreed upon. If an agency is providing materials you don’t need or can’t use, find someone who will create what you need! The assets made for you should work – what good is a website if it doesn’t work the way you need it to? Any reputable agency will be upfront with you if what you are asking is not something they can provide. Even if it is something they cannot provide in house, they should be able to point you in the right direction or let you know the limitations of what you are asking for.

You have no idea what they are doing.

Any agency should be able to give you a schedule of when to expect various tasks to be done, whether that’s a press release, blog, video, website build, sell sheet, or postcard design. If they can’t commit to a timeframe, or if deadlines comes and go and the only thing you get are excuses, it’s time to reconsider. An agency should keep you informed of how projects are coming along, and once deadlines are agreed on they should be met.

While agencies are not employees working in house, where you have the option of strolling to their desk and asking a question, they should be accessible within reason. You should be able to call or send an email and receive a response within a reasonable amount of time, including project updates, answers to questions, or time/cost estimates. If you can’t reach your agency and don’t receive regular contact or updates from them, that is a red flag.

You are worried about losing everything.

If you are unhappy but are sticking around because you don’t have the log in information for your accounts, or because you think you’ll lose your website if you change companies, that’s a surefire reason to leave. That problem does not resolve itself, and it only gets worse with time.

If this is your situation, read your agreement carefully to see who “owns” the website or other creative assets. Unfortunately, there will be few options if your contract states they retain ownership. But that doesn’t mean you should stay with a company who is holding your company’s assets hostage! Look for an agency that gives you complete ownership, and realize that you are going to have to rebuild many assets. Before you tell your current agency you are thinking of leaving, start speaking confidentially to other agencies or coders to determine how long it will take to remake those assets, always ensuring that you will retain ownership once they are complete. They will help you proceed with minimal disruption to your business.

How does your situation stack up?

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time to revisit your options! Your company deserves better marketing, and you deserve someone you work well with. The company/agency relationship is critical for marketing success. Finding a good fit is essential.

It’s for these reasons and more that 360 Direct doesn’t use long term contracts or retainers – instead we prove our worth every month for you. We also guarantee you retain ownership and access to all your accounts – including your website! After all, this is a relationship, not a hostage situation. We believe in transparency on all levels. You can count on us to be upfront, even if that means we can’t fill your needs. To start a conversation about whether or not we could be the agency for you, contact us!

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Why Marketing Design Matters ImageWhy Marketing Design Matters

Why Marketing Design Matters

It’s easy to neglect updating the marketing design in your materials. Many times, companies use the same design for their marketing materials and just plug in updated specs and product information.

Over time, it’s easy to fall into complacency and lose that critical eye towards pieces that have been working for you. After all, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Many companies are satisfied as long as the information is correct. Unfortunately, that’s not enough! There are a lot of companies competing for your prospective customers’ attention, and with our shrinking attention spans, individuals are becoming accustomed to making snap judgments. Your product information could be saying you are leading your industry, but your marketing materials may be telling a different story.

Print Materials

Most B2B companies understand the continued need for print materials in their marketing mix, but even those marketing staples have evolved to incorporate updated marketing design. People now spend less time than ever digesting what’s in front of them – about seven seconds! Gone are the days when individuals sit and read large chunks of text they are handed or receive in the mail. It’s all about bullet points, sub headers, and an appealing design.

If you are taking your updated information and plugging it into the same brochure, sell sheet, or postcard template your company has been using for years, your materials likely aren’t as effective as they could be. People have complained about the amount of advertising they are exposed to since 1759, and the advertising clutter continues to grow annually. There are two ways to increase your odds of prospective clients paying attention.

  1. Get to the point. Companies have to assume their materials are only given a cursory glance before a reader decides to put it aside or to delve in and read more. Give your readers the information they are looking for as quickly as possible in a straightforward manner. Provide easy options for them to get more in-depth information, should the want it. Your layout should be easy to follow; colors and font should be crisp and clear.
  2. Get creative. How many postcards and flyers do decision makers receive in year? A month? A day? Make sure yours are standing out and not getting lost in the shuffle. This doesn’t mean gimmicky. Some well-placed images, a less common size, or a memorable and fitting cutout or insert could be all it takes.

Even with a robust print material campaign, most prospective clients will check you out online before calling to make an appointment or purchase. Which leads us to…


Even if you don’t know anything about the technical aspects of websites, you know an outdated website when you use one. It’s hard to navigate, it’s difficult to use on phones, and overall takes a long time to find specific information when you have a question. Companies that continue to have a website that is not “mobile friendly” are immediately creating an unnecessary barrier for prospective clients, since 42% of B2B decision makers use their mobile device for research.

In addition to the mobile friendly aspect, load times and content layout dramatically impact how long a prospective customer stays on your site. In fact, if your load time is more than three seconds, many people could leave your site before ever seeing the content. (Remember that 7 second attention span?) Of course, outdated information is sure to be noticed. As prospective customers gain information on their options, they are sure to check you out online. Make sure they like what they see! Current marketing design practices for websites include ensuring your site is responsive and contains relevant images and videos to further engage prospective clients.

Many companies find themselves stuck with a webmaster who built their site but doesn’t do great updates or are unwilling to keep up with best practices. The task of building a new site can seem daunting and even impossible. That said, it is well worth it to invest in a responsive website that will be easy to update and make changes to in the future. The internet will continue to evolve; if you are already behind, it will only get worse until you make that investment.

Regardless of what industry you are in, the design of your marketing materials matters. Your marketing design is as important as the machinery or materials you use for your products. You wouldn’t go years without considering an update or evaluating best practices, and the same should be said for your marketing efforts.

If you are concerned your marketing materials don’t align with today’s best practices, contact us for a free discovery appointment, where we will evaluate your current materials looking for opportunities – with no commitment from you.

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How Businesses Can Find ContentHow Businesses Can Find Content

How Businesses Can Find Content

Savvy businesses understand the need for current, relevant content for their followers. Whether it’s blog posts, email blasts, or social media posts, businesses need content to present to their followers and keep them engaged and interested in the brand. Developing a content strategy, on the other hand, is often easier said than done. The first hurdle is determining what is newsworthy to your followers, and how to find the news within your organization.

You can’t write about everything, every time.

If each email you send looks like a rundown on all the products or services you offer, there’s some room to grow. Anyone can look at your website to get that information! If the information in your emails remains the same, what is the incentive to continue opening the emails and clicking on the content? The same can be said for social media channels. If the information being presented is more like catalog listings, there is little reason to continue to actively follow your organization. That’s not what you want!

These followers have already made the emotional investment to like your page, sign up for your email, or click on your blog. They are asking for deeper engagement. Don’t give them a catalog listing, give them something to dig into! Narrow your focus and provide rich content on a specific product or news item.

How do you find your focus?

Your company likely has several offerings or areas of focus. How do you choose what to focus on? You want to choose what is most relevant to your company and the industry. A newsworthy item could be a new product or service you are introducing. Time sensitive information, like a new award or an upcoming trade show you are attending, is also an example of something you want to ensure your followers hear about.

Of course, you may not have breaking news on a weekly or monthly basis. That doesn’t mean you have nothing to talk about, though! This is a chance to highlight your company’s offerings with content that differentiates you from your competition. Don’t regurgitate information readily available on your website, brochure, or catalog. Add value to your content.

If you have great relationships with your clients, write a case-study that showcases an instance where you really solved a major business pain for them. This kind of piece can require some legwork and elbow grease, but can really move perspective clients. Work with your client and get their permission before embarking on this path. Ensure that you will not share any proprietary information, trade secrets, or other competitive knowledge. Instead, focus on what problem you solve for them. Is their process faster now? Their turnaround time shorter? Are you saving them money, making their products safer?

Are your products doing good in the community? Create a human interest piece by focusing on how your products benefit the community. If your products or services don’t lend themselves to any feel-good stories, what about the rest of your company? If you have any community programs or service projects, let the public know what you are doing!

Lastly, highlight an existing product or service. The key here is to offer more information than what people would be able to read in your brochure or catalog. Companies can use this opportunity to address any common misconceptions, FAQs, or to focus on largely unknown or underutilized features.

When selecting the product or service to highlight, there are a few things to keep in mind.


  • Select an area of your company that you excel in.
  • Choose a line that you want to expand in, and have the capacity to do so.
  • Focus on a product or service with a good ROI for your company.


  • Pick a product or service you are discontinuing or trying to get out of. (Unless you are highlighting a sale!)
  • Write about a product or service that you don’t have the capacity to expand in.
  • Highlight something with a poor ROI for your company. If your content drives new business, you want it to be business you want.

Strategize when to release your content.

Once you have content, decide when to release it. Some content is evergreen, but if your product has a cyclical lifestyle, it’s important to think about the timing of your release.

Releasing your content during a high volume time, when your product or service is used the most, will hit followers at a time when they are actively thinking about your product more and experiencing a business pain. You’ll be more likely to grab their attention, but less likely to make an immediate sale, since they will already have providers in place for that cycle. On the other hand, if you have a feel for when your target audience is reassessing their processes and considering new providers, that’s a great time to have deeper engagement with them via a well-thought piece of content.

Quality content is not a continuous sales pitch, regurgitating information from your website, brochure, and catalogs, and you don’t necessarily need to offer sales to get your target audience’s attention. Your content strategy should use what your organization is already doing to generate relevant, engaging content that will keep your followers interested in your company.  360 Direct is a Milwaukee and Chicago Marketing Company.  We can help you execute these strategies!


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email marketingEmail Marketing’s Place in a B2B Industry

Email Marketing’s Place in a B2B Industry

Email marketing has been a popular choice for years now, known as an inexpensive option to directly reach consumers. Emails consistently have the highest ROI of all marketing channels. But are they still working? And are they more fit for B2C companies?

The answers are, “Yes, they are still working, and they are just as fit for B2B companies!” In fact, B2B companies have a higher Open Rate and CTR than B2C companies when it comes to email. Let’s take a look at a few reasons your B2B company should employ a robust email marketing campaign.

For one, emails can help establish your business as a forward-thinking thought leader in your industry. Presenting new, helpful information to decision makers will keep you at the top of their mind when they encounter a business pain that needs a solution you already provide.

Second of all, emails have a higher rate of engagement than social media. This could be because people who sign up for your email list are already more engaged in your company than those that click “like” on social media, or it could be because people are in the mindset for reading more and deeper connections when they sit down with their email than when they casually scroll through social media channels. Regardless, emails has proved in multiple studies to be more effective than social media. Not to mention, many of your client and contacts may not be connected to you on social media!

Lastly, emails are a great way to stay in contact with clients and interested parties with long buying cycles. You are well aware that B2B sales are relationship based. Nurture and grow that relationship by providing interesting and relevant information for them in between sales calls.

So now that we’ve covered why B2B companies should send emails, what should be in them?

Email Marketing in a B2B IndustryEmail marketing is a great tool for both B2C and B2B businesses, but those emails are very different in terms of content.

A B2C email typically has a call to make a purchase, but B2B emails are best when they present new information. B2B emails should focus on being educational and informative, encouraging recipients to “Learn More” rather than “Buy More!”

This is a great opportunity for B2B companies to reach decision makers and educate them about problems they may not know about and introduce them to the solutions you provide. Rather than list your products, show them an in-depth case study so they can see how your company can affect change and solve their business pain. It’s also the perfect place to announce new products or services you offer, trade shows you will be attending, and other developments that are relevant to your clients and show that your company is constantly growing and developing.

Even when content is rich, detailed, and informative, don’t bog down the email by making it too lengthy. Post your case study, whitepaper, or product announcement on your website. The email should contain enough information for your recipient to determine if it’s information they want to learn more about, and then provide a link for them to do just that – on the company website, of course.

As with all email marketing campaigns, only send an email when you have something interesting to tell you recipients! For many B2B companies, an email a month is frequent enough. As always, monitoring your results can guide the decision making process for adjusting any marketing campaign to achieve best results.

While there are some differences in B2C and B2B campaigns, there are similarities as well.

Segmenting your audience to get the most pertinent information to your recipients realizes the best results, particularly for larger companies with several focuses. Otherwise, companies run the risk of recipients getting into the mindset that emails from you are not always relevant or helpful.

As always, only use email addresses that people have willingly given and opted-in to receive correspondence and give a clear opt-out option in emails. If your company is getting ready to add email marketing to your marketing mix, ensure recipients are told in their first email what your emails will be used for and how frequently they can expect communication.

Companies that take the time to develop great emails will reap the rewards in better client relationships and a great ROI. If you aren’t currently investing in email marketing, it’s never to late too begin and see how your business benefits.

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Marketing Inspiration From A Brand IconMarketing Inspiration From A Brand Icon

Marketing Inspiration From A Brand Icon

In June 2016 Coca-Cola celebrated being a source of successful marketing inspiration for 130 years. A dominant global force and world renowned iconic brand, every company marketing a product can learn from them.

Coca-Cola’s sustained success is largely attributed to marketing strategy, innovation and goal-based ad spend. So what can we learn from them? Even iconic brands do not take a break from marketing.


Without a strong and precise marketing strategy it is hard to achieve desired results. Coca-Cola are famed for having an extremely disciplined strategy and as such it is no surprise that they have been so successful over the years. However, this is not to say that all of Coca-Cola’s marketing tactics have been successful. Over the years there have been some failed campaigns:

“Things Would Have Been Better With Coke”—This advertising campaign featured historical figures who had unhappy endings to their lives, such as Julius Caesar and Marie Antoinette. The premise of this campaign: If only Coke had been there, then maybe things might have turned out differently. Sales were down after this campaign and thus Coca-Cola needed to revise the advertising plan.


If you look at the genesis of innovative marketing tactics such as coupons, sponsorship and event marketing Coca-Cola are never too far behind the trend. They realize the importance of brand recognition and by starting a sponsorship with the Olympic Games in 1928 they ensure that every 4 years the world is reminded of their global presence. By not being afraid to innovate when necessary Coca-Cola now has an 88-year long sponsorship with one of the worlds biggest events.

With the bravery to innovate does sometime come the risk of failure. Coca-Cola are no different to this phenomena and “New Coke” is a famed historical example. Whilst it was a failed product, it actually gave Coca-Cola a wake-up call from becoming too passive:

“I think we were lazy in really recognizing that we needed to reactivate or reposition the brand. If we had done that through an advertising process, I don’t think New Coke would have ever happened, but there was such resistance to any kind of change in the advertising position of the brand that we introduced a change in the taste,” Mr. Zyman said. “I know, you’ll say that’s ridiculous, and I agree. But it happened.”

More recently Coke has been re-positioning itself as the embodiment of happiness. “If you’re able to own that emotion in people’s mind space, that’s a very powerful thing,” said Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer Joe Tripodi. Once again Coca-Cola are trying to follow the trend and associate a human emotion with a brand. Much like many marketing experts Coca-Cola’s founder believed that you had to advertise and get your product out to the people. Iconic brands know that maintaining a marketing plan consistently throughout the year will reap benefits, that constant evaluation of the brand’s positioning will keep the brand at the forefront, and that resistance to change can hold a brand stagnant. What is your brand’s emotional connection to your consumers?  How can you use that emotion to connect with your consumers?

Ad Spend

Flashback to 1922 when Coca-Cola reached an unheard spend of $1 million for their ad budget. Today, the company spends $2.9 billion globally on advertising across 206 markets. Though Coca-Cola’s marketing spend is unattainable for most, the spend did contribute to Coca-Cola becoming the worlds most recognized brand. This marketing spend may be scary, but a marketing budget should not be. A marketing spend needs to be a relationship between your comfort zone and the goals you want to achieve.

Be Aware of the Relationship Amongst All Business Activities

New Coke taught Coca-Cola much about how their business practices and marketing activities relate to each other. For instance, Coca-Cola ran into a challenge of communicating with the bottlers when New Coke was introduced, which partially lead to New Coke’s demise:

“It was very exciting at the beginning, because all of a sudden we had almost a rebirth, a renaissance of the brand. Consumers were looking at it and business was booming. Consumers wanted the brand; they appreciated the brand; they knew what the brand was all about. And it was a great opportunity for us to actually reformulate the overall proposition of the brand. But the system was very tired, the bottlers were very tired. Remember, a bottler is in a small community. They were attacked by their neighbors. People in the golf club made fun of them and all that. They wanted a break. So the company lost focus again. I got very frustrated, and I left the company.” —Sergio Zyman, marketing executive.

Stay focused, understand business relationships, and know the importance of asking and listening. Marketing, when used correctly, should work with all components for a successful business.  A company is most powerful when all aspects of business understand and integrate with each other. Take advantage of the relationship value of each activity to each other, and eliminate silo thinking.
What Should You Do?

We can all say, “Wow, 130 years, congratulations Coca-Cola!” How does your brand stay around for 5, 10, 30 years? 360 Direct is available whether you need a marketing consultant, or a full marketing team. We help you establish strategy, goals, and a budget that fits your particular needs. Call 414-464-5000 or email us today, and get a complementary 30 minute discovery consultation.


“Best Global Brands.” Business Week. Retrieved from

Zmuda,Natalie. (2011, May 2). “At 125 Years Old, Coke’s Story is StillBeing Written.” Advertising Age. Retrieved from

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Lululemon’s Lucrative Layout StrategyLululemon’s Lucrative Layout Strategy

Lululemon’s Lucrative Layout Strategy

According to Wall Street Journal, March 21st issue in 2012, the Canadian retailer Lululemon has higher sales per square foot than Neiman Marcus, while its price to earning ratio is 48. It’s shocking that this yoga gear retail store does profoundly better than other retailers, when having fewer stores than them. So, what’s the marketing magic to Lululemon’s success? The answer points to staying in close contact with its customers and using scarcity to their advantage by having quick life cycles. Instead of following the typical layout strategy other retailers employ such as creating many new stores, offering large discounts and using software to collect customer information, Lulu uses completely different marketing tactics. Lulu stores are relatively small size and focus on fast-moving, short-live styles. Lulu’s layout strategy is to not keep items on the shelves for long. With this in mind, their goal is to sell their merchandise at full price and condition their customers to buy immediately when they see an item, rather than wait or put it on hold. Lululemon is able to keep the store “fresh” by having short week cycles and their aim is to get the product right and keep it scarce. So, is this working? Yes. In December 2012 their hot-pink color “Paris Pink” was launched and was meant to have a two-month life cycle, but rather sold out in its first week. Lulu stores also use a different strategy in creating customer relationships. They spend hours each week observing how their customers shop, while listening to their complaints in order to compile feedback to spruce up the stores and products. On top of this, Lulu trains their employees to listen in on their customers conversations. In order to do this they use strategic placement of their clothes-folding tables by placing them on the sales floor near the fitting rooms rather than in a back room. By doing this, they optimize their ability to react to their customers’ needs. Lululemon’s lucrative layout strategy has proven to be a winning combination for them.

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Reaching more target marketDon’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em – Strategic Alliances

Don’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em – Strategic Alliances

How do you reach more of your target demographic—the group beyond your current client base? One answer to this question is to form strategic alliances with other businesses.

Strategic alliances can appear in many forms— referrals, supply agreements, joint ventures, co-marketing, and shared production to name a few. Such partnerships benefit your business because they team you up with other businesses that target the same or similar demographics, but don’t offer the same services or products as your business. Strategic alliances open the door for opportunities to increase consumer awareness, gain new customers, and grow your business.

So how do you choose an alliance partner? Identifying a good fit can be difficult because there are several factors that come into play. Determine the appropriate alliance for your business, then seek the best partner or partners for you. For instance, if you make cakes, consider a bridal boutique or a wedding and event planner. If you’re a building contractor or home remodeler, think mortgage brokers and banks. Now that you have candidates for potential alliances, ask the following questions to help determine the best partners.

  • Are your businesses compatible?
  • Are you both going after the same market with a different product or service?
  • Do you share similar values and goals?
  • Is your potential strategic alliance partner someone you can trust?
  • Will you have equal or similar amounts of control in the relationship?
  • Are you capable of working together?

cultivate the relationshipIf the answers to these questions are ‘yes,’ you have most likely found a good alliance partner. You don’t have to completely open the gates and share your entire business and plans; maintaining identity, independence, and important trade secrets are vital to every business. Instead, for example begin to build a business relationship by starting out small with referrals. When you identify a client with a need your alliance partner can meet, refer that client to your alliance partner.

Continue to cultivate this relationship. Doing so puts you in front of more customers within your target. These are your partner’s customers—people that fit your ideal client criteria, but currently aren’t in your customer base. Because you and your partner do not offer the same products or services, you can feel comfortable continuing to refer business back and forth. This is a twofold benefit that grows the customer base for your business and your partner’s, while simultaneously providing those customers with trustworthy resources to meet multiple needs.

Once you’ve been working together for some time (strategic alliances can often take a year or more to build) and you’ve established a solid, trustworthy business relationship, you can continue building upon that foundation.

For example, strategic alliances create opportunities for some businesses and their partners to offer informational seminars. These seminars place you face-to-face with more of your combined customer base. Seminars also allow you to speak directly to a targeted, relevant group about what you offer, and the benefits your product or service can provide. Providing such valuable information establishes you as the expert in your field, making customers more likely to visit your business and refer others when needs for your services or products arise.

As with any relationship, it is important to evaluate your strategic alliances continually. Perhaps your alliance is only for the short term. If a long-term partnership is what you have in mind, open communication is important. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page, that your goals are in line, and that you still share the same values. Doing so will ensure you have a flourishing, lasting, and mutually beneficial strategic alliance.


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Trends-in-Marketing-for-2016-and-Beyond2Trends in Marketing for 2016 and Beyond

Trends in Marketing for 2016 and Beyond

Marketing is a dynamic field constantly evolving and never resting. 2016 is no exception to this rule. Each year, exciting trends in marketing cause marketers to scramble to keep up with marketing Joneses.

Innovation, not stagnation, is the best rule of thumb when approaching a marketing strategy for this year and beyond. Though the basic tools of online marketing haven’t changed, how we use them fluctuates as consumers expand their usage of social media and online platforms from year to year. So what does this mean for marketers?

1. Content Marketing

Roughly 80% of marketers use content marketing as part of their business plans according to Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs 2016 Content Trends. On average companies save about $20,000 a year using an inbound content strategy versus traditional outbound efforts. Like we saw in 2015, content marketing continues to be extremely cost-effective strategy, and there is no indication yet that this method will cease to be productive any time soon.1

2. Digital Marketing

North America has the largest digital ad market. Marketers in the United States will have spent $62.07 billion on digital formats in 2015, a 16.8% increase over 2014. This year, 31.8% of total media ad expenditures will go toward digital formats, a share which is expected to reach 41.4% by 2019. The steady increase in consumer usage of the online platforms is why larger and larger percentages of marketing budgets will be spent on online advertizing as opposed to traditional methods. Expect your team to make suggestions on budgetary shifts in the general direction moving into 2016 in order to maintain a connection with an increasingly digital market.2

3. Social Media Channeling Versus SEO

In 2016, social media companies from Facebook to Snapchat are looking to bolster their innovative ad offerings and continue growing into major players for ad dollars. According to the Pew Research Center, 65% of adults used social media in 2015, nearly ten times the number in 2005. Facebook and Instagram alone make up 1 billion and 400 million users respectively.

There is a slowly developing change in user behavior when it comes to searching out information on products and services. While using search engines like Google or Bing to find information is still the most common behavior, there are many users who are skipping the search engine and performing their searches directly on social media. This means that online advertizing specifically on social media channels is going to become more and more popular.3

4. Video Content

2016 will likely be a landmark year for online video. Social networks Facebook and Twitter are investing heavily in both the promotion of video and providing new ways of consuming it. Companies will have an increasing range of options to reach consumers with video, creating both new opportunities and new challenges as the extremely rapid rise of Facebook as a video content platform demonstrates. The overall trend for online video in 2016 is almost certain to be overwhelmingly positive.

In an online survey of B2B companies about their video marketing strategy, 96% of B2B organizations are engaged in video content marketing and moreover 73% say that video has positively impacted marketing results.4

However, the expansion of digital tools doesn’t mean that old marketing knowledge doesn’t still apply – we just apply it over different mediums. Even the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, still agrees that, “People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” We aren’t abandoning the person-to-person trust that helps companies succeed. 2016 and beyond is all about utilizing digital advertizing methods to expand that personal reach, and connect people and businesses from all over the world.

Following the trends in marketing for 2016 will help keep your business on the upside of marketing innovation. Use new trends and traditional tools in your marketing strategy to create effective campaigns in 2016 and beyond.






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The Video “Hook” and Why You Need ItThe Video “Hook” and Why You Need It

The Video “Hook” and Why You Need It

Recently, I attended a business presentation on Videos being the new “Hook” and it got me thinking. If using video is “new”, then how come it’s been used to drive engagement for over a decade? Because it’s only recently that sharp marketers have begun to use it to their competitive advantage. The lyrics from “Hook” by Blues Traveler, a song near and dear to my heart, were used to describe what marketers try to answer everyday. How can videos be used as a company’s “Hook?”

“Because the hook brings you back
I ain’t tellin’ you no lie
The hook brings you back
On that you can rely”

Videos are rapidly replacing text as the content strategy driving online engagement. Videos keep people on sites longer, have higher conversion rates and increase search rankings. According to HubSpot, using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% with a whopping 65% increase in click-through rates.

But wait, there’s more. As a matter of fact, the statistical backing for why companies should use videos to increase engagement and get higher ROI’s keeps pouring in:

  • By 2017 2/3rds of information sharing will be done in video form.
  • 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute to YouTube according to a Google spokesperson.
  • Sites that include video have on average an extra 2 minutes of dwell time compared to those that don’t.
  • 52% of marketers name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

So what can companies do with that information? They can use it to inform and add to marketing ideas, like the following:

  • Client Testimonials
  • Website leverage
  • Virtual tour of your company
  • Product demos
  • Company culture

These are standard, tried and true aspects of marketing, but adding video enables them to be more effective in a perpetually digital space. If building your own video marketing strategy seems like a daunting task, contact us to learn how we can help.

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