These marketers are moving digital icons on a table

Stop Trying To Do It All Alone! Why You Need A Marketing Firm

Are you looking to build your business's brand or sell more products?

You likely need to invest in your marketing budget to get over the hump.

Anywhere from 5% to 25% of your budget might go to marketing, depending on your industry.

But if you don't see a good return on your investment, what's the point in spending it?

If you're a small business owner, you probably don't have the time, let alone the expertise, to work with that kind of budget.

That's where hiring a marketing firm to handle your digital marketing can deliver optimal results.

Not convinced yet?

Let's run through the reasons why working with a marketing firm should be top of your business agenda.

You Have No Marketing Experience

Unless your background is in marketing, you won't have the professional experience that a marketing professional will have.

Considering the money you could spend on marketing that could go nowhere, trying the DIY route is likely to be a gamble you can't afford.

That isn't a downside...

It isn't a bad thing you don't have the marketing experience you need - a jack of all trades is a master of none.

Digital marketer multi tasking while working at his desk.

If you admit this early, you can save your business money and move forward with a marketing strategy that can increase sales, rather than hurt your profit margins.

It's better to bring in outside help than attempt to master skills when you don't have the time or money to lose.

Spend Money, Nothing Happens

It may already be too late to avoid a DIY marketing strategy.

That's not a problem though. Sometimes, we learn the best lessons by seeing results in action.

However, if the marketing results you've seen in the past have been poor, that's another reason to look into hiring a marketing firm for your efforts instead.

There are many variables that marketers will look at that you won't even know of.

Marketing isn't just buying ads, spending money and crossing your fingers. It involves careful analysis and refined strategies.

In the end, it's all about results.

If your return on your marketing investment has been poor in the past, look to bring in outside help.

You Can't Afford an In-House Hire

We've talked about doing it yourself, but what about hiring somebody to do your marketing for you? That'll save you time, right?

It's not that simple because of the costs involved in bringing somebody on board.

Need one marketing professional on your team?

Hiring one could cost you around $80,000 a year on average. An entire team could cost you a million dollars or more.

Marketers on computers working to grow business numbers

That doesn't include the cost to train and develop their skills, and it's no guarantee of performance or quality.

Hiring a marketing firm could cost you half of the budget you'd need to hire a single marketing manager, and with no need to invest in their training or development.

Your Focus Needs to be Elsewhere

Business owners have a tendency to want to run and do everything, especially if their business is in its infancy.

That's why the best business owners balance their priorities and outsource some of their business needs to other workers.

Can you afford to spend several hours of your day focused on marketing?

The time you have to spare will depend on the business you're running.

If you're running a retail business, you need to think about stock purchases, employee hires, premises, cash flow... to name a few!

Can you afford to lose time in some of these areas to get to grips with marketing?

Ask yourself, "Are there marketing companies near me that can do the job better?"

Speak to a marketing firm about their average day.

It's unlikely you could fit in the same time commitments at the same skill level, without giving up resources elsewhere.

Marketing Experts Are at the Top of Their Game

These marketers are depicted on top of a structure made of books

We've already mentioned that hiring somebody in-house can require significant training costs.

With a marketing firm contracted to help you, that is not the case.

Marketing experts already know their stuff. They're experts in their field, with skills that range from social media marketing to copywriting to graphic design.

They're already at the top of their game, and you need to take advantage of their skills coupled with your knowledge of your own space to get the best return possible on your marketing budget spend.

If you're looking to hire an expert, you also must decide whether to hire a marketing agency or consultant to help.

Do you know the difference?

Decide for yourself with our helpful guide on deciding whether to hire a marketing consultant or agency.

Hiring a Marketing Firm Could Save You Time and Money

Your business needs marketing services if it will make a name for itself in the vast and competitive marketplace. That doesn't mean you'll be burning away cash, however.

Investing your marketing dollars into a marketing firm can deliver the kind of results you desire.

They're experienced and familiar with the latest marketing trends and focus all of their energy on building your brand.

By hiring a firm to take on your marketing for you, you can free up your time and resources for other important areas for growth such as business development.

Time to take the plunge?

Drop us a message and we can discuss how we can bring your next marketing campaign to life and deliver a fantastic return on your marketing investment.


7 Content Marketing Trends For You To Be On Board With In 2019

Are you looking to step up your content marketing game in 2019?

Last year, content marketing took the digital advertising world by storm.

For good reason, too!

Consumers are craving authentic, personalized brand content. Every business owner can meet this demand with a clear content marketing strategy.

Effective content marketing, however, goes beyond mere amazing content.

It's important to keep pace with the industry's trends to stay ahead of your competitors.

Read further for insight into the top content marketing trends of 2019, or watch our quick summary below:

1. Streamlined Web Content

Your website is your ultimate digital marketing tool!

Your site plays a key role in delivering the first impression of your company to potential customers.

It's also designed to educate website visitors.

Visitors aren't interested in wandering around a website packed with useless content.

They want to visit your website deliberately. They want streamlined verbiage that can give them the answers they are seeking.

This isn't far off from Google's own stipulations for Google-friendly sites. It urges site owners to develop content that gives users what they want.

So, high-quality, streamlined web content can also have a hand in how highly you rank on search engines.

What do we mean by streamlined web content?

Streamlined content gets rid of any unnecessary fluff. It cuts straight to the chase. It is easy to navigate, clear to read, and 100% transparent.

If your website isn't living up to these standards, it could cost you.

How to Integrate This Trend

Don't weigh your visitors down with too much content. Give them the essentials only.

This doesn't mean crafting a skimpy site. You can easily deliver your message in succinct pages organized with a simple navigation scheme.

In fact, you may even want to use a single-page website format. This includes all site content in one, scrollable page, making it easy for visitors to navigate between key sections.

Use visuals, headings, and bullet points to your advantage. Integrate larger fonts to enable easy skimming.

Integrate internal links wisely, thinking about a standard visitor's journey from impression to conversion.

2. Long-Form Articles

Blogs took center stage in the content marketing world last year. They remain just as vital in 2019.

Marketers have recognized the value of incorporating blog posts on their sites. Blogs inform visitors, helping companies establish authority in a field.

They also offer marketers further material for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes. You can share blog posts across multiple platforms, broadening a company's digital reach.

However, blog post length will have a new spotlight this year. Successful marketers find that long-form (rather than short-form) posts have a higher payoff.

Specifically, blog posts or articles longer than 500 words are more likely to earn a click in search results. Ones that push (or even go beyond) 2,000 words may enjoy even more success.

Why is this?

Long-form articles don't intimidate users. They can be broken into key sub-headings for easy skimming and organized in a reader-friendly fashion.

These articles are often info-dense. Remember the point we made about education customers?

Users are more likely to trust brands that can deliver a lot of information about a subject. They may spend more time with a 2,000-word piece accordingly.

How to Integrate This Trend

If you maintain a blog on your site, aim to generate posts that are longer than 500 words.

Prove your industry expertise on a certain subject by releasing long-form articles. Ensure that these are easy to read, too.

If you want to broaden your reach further, consider publishing long-form pieces on platforms like LinkedIn, which has a publishing feature.

Share this content on your website and across social media.

3. Video Content

Video is every content marketer's ultimate tool. Why?

Simple. Video content is almost always engaging. It enables marketers to combine compelling imagery, audio, and messaging in a handful of seconds.

Plus, anyone can create a video. Even a clip shot on an iPhone can leverage a brand image and captivate followers.

Video was hot in 2018. It's keeping its popularity this year for the same reasons, appearing on new platforms and in fresh capacities.

How to Integrate This Trend

Ensure that video content appears in at least one of your digital marketing campaigns. Integrate multimedia ads on Facebook, for example.

Or take advantage of Instagram's story feature, which integrates ephemeral video content followers can enjoy.

Both Instagram and Facebook enable live video capacities. This encourages business owners to engage in real time with clients, a huge boon.

Video isn't only central to social media marketing. You can embed video on your website itself and upload video blogs (vlogs) as well.

4. Brand Storytelling

Consumers are becoming more curious about the brands they follow. In fact, they are more likely to follow brands they can relate to.

Marketers can take advantage of this in 2019 by using brand storytelling.

This refers to telling a story about a specific brand. This narrative shouldn't just be about how you got to where you are today.

Brand storytelling talks more about the experience your brand can offer specific customers.

It discusses the narrative behind your company's success. It often mentions the obstacles faced before delivering an amazing experience to current customers.

These stories are designed to engage customers in a different capacity. Rather than strictly attempting to sell something, brand storytelling explains the "what" and the "why."

It often brings emotion on board. This has the added effect of personalizing a specific brand, making it an experience rather than a product.

How to Integrate This Trend

It's difficult to integrate brand storytelling if you haven't already done so. There's a difference between talking about yourself and talking about your brand's story.

Once again, video content can be a great way to tell your brand's story and captivate customers. Use video ads to quickly and succinctly engage with prospective clients.

You might want to incorporate a video on your website's "About" page to accomplish the same goals.

Video blogs can also integrate little segments of brand storytelling. You can still inform your followers about relevant subjects while telling your brand's story.

It's possible to tell your brand's story without relying on video.

Brand storytelling can occur in long-form social ads, many of which enable marketers to strike a conversational tone with users.

It can also happen in blog posts, articles, and your website content itself.

5. Original Content

The internet is absolutely saturated with ad content on a daily basis. After all, ads are how companies like Google and Facebook make most of their money.

With growing global access to the internet, the worldwide web is becoming a veritable marketplace for everything under the sun.

The problem with this ad-saturated market is precisely that:

Users are tuning out.

More importantly, they are picky about the content they focus on. They are skeptical of any ad content that seems deliberately sales-driven.

They prioritize content that is highly authentic. They really do want to see something they haven't seen before!

When it comes to 2019 content marketing trends, original content tops the charts. Content marketers will see a huge push for 100% authentic content 100% of the time.

How to Integrate This Trend

This can be a tough trend to respond to.

How is it possible to be entirely authentic as a marketer in such a vast market?

Brand storytelling can help. Your brand is unique to your company alone.

We also recommend checking out your existing competition and brainstorming ways to surpass their content. What are your competitors doing to reach customers? How could you do this differently (and better)?

Try to get on your users' level as much as possible. Understand your target market as precisely as possible.

Drop by public online forums like Quora to see what your ideal users are talking about.

Write about what they are talking about. The more you can engage intimately with who you are trying to reach, the more authentic your content will be.

6. Google AdWords

Most marketers have become well-versed in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO enables all site owners to optimize their content for key search terms, boosting online visibility.

SEO isn't everything in 2019, however.

Successful marketers will supplement existing SEO efforts with Google AdWords campaigns.

Google AdWords uses the same principles as SEO. It enables keyword-based ads to surface in key search results. Marketers pay per user click on each ad.

How to Integrate This Trend

First, be sure that your SEO game is on point. Launch an AdWords campaign after conducting thorough keyword research.

Use it to supplement existing SEO efforts. The two should go hand-in-hand.

You may wish to hire a PPC campaign manager to assist, especially if the world of bids and keyword research seems daunting to you.

7. Brand Integrity

In the wake of data protection scandals, consumers are very careful about entrusting their information to certain brands.

Ad content this year is emphasizing brand integrity. This means drawing users' eyes to a company's values of transparency and authority.

Brand integrity also relates to data governance.

Companies may market their own ability to protect and respect customer data.

How to Integrate This Trend

Clarify your company's data governance policies. Aim to promote content that is entirely transparent.

Cater to your users' needs for brand integrity in your ad content itself, be it in the form of social ads, Google Ads, or email marketing.

Content Marketing Trends in 2019

Content marketing is a vital component of every successful digital marketer's toolkit. Make sure you keep pace with these trends as the New Year begins.

Now you know all about content marketing trends for 2019.

But how do you bring these to life in your own company?

That's where we come in. Learn more about the digital marketing consulting services we offer here!


Brands Beware: Amazon Resellers Are Beating You And Here's Why It's Terrible

I ♥ coffee.

When my wife and I first got a Nespresso machine as a gift last year, we both immediately fell in love...with the machine.

The whole Nespresso experience was magical - the coffee was phenomenal, the machine was easy to use, the packaging was incredible and they even recycle their pods. I felt very comfortable with this brand, the product along with their mission.

After finishing our initial variety pack that came with our machine purchase, we realized we could not recall which ones we liked, and which ones we didn't.

Rather than purchasing full sleeves of pods we were uncertain of, we determined it would be best to try another variety pack.

...and here is where it all went downhill.

Watch article video summary here:

 

My first instinct was to check for them on Amazon.

The screenshot is above is who I made my highly anticipated purchase from.

I could not have been more excited to drink my new Nespresso pods.

That was until my shipment arrived and I saw the contents inside...

I received my variety pack outside of the normal branded Nespresso packaging I had become so fond of. The pods were packaged loosely and most were crushed. The messaging was inconsistent with Nespresso, and they weren't even all the flavors I had ordered!

(Source: The Black Peppercorn & Amazon)

My wife and I were extremely disappointed and felt Nespresso pulled a "bait & switch" us.

The dented pods felt gross and tainted my brand image of Nespresso. I couldn't get the visual out of my head of who could handle a product like this and be ok with sending them to a consumer (it felt like second-hand coffee).

Amazon has given us the power to leave negative reviews online, so I was on a mission to leave my honest review. After closely examining this listing, I quickly realized it was a 3rd party reseller.

What did this 3rd party Amazon reseller do?

They purchased their own Nespresso pods in bulk and put them into their own packaging to resell at a higher price for profit since Nespresso does not sell variety packs.

Imagine how I felt as a loyal customer who shelled out my hard earned money for a product I had become so fond of.

At first, I felt like I got robbed and fooled, but then thought to myself, "There's got to be something that Amazon or even Nespresso can do to remedy this." Much to my dismay, there wasn't.

Amazon stated that they "do not get involved in disputes brands had with resellers or distributors", and Nespresso said since I did not purchase directly from them there was also nothing they could do.

But how was I to know? As a marketer myself, I thought I understood how this stuff works. I even work with many clients where I help manage their Amazon listings. But the page above literally says "Amazon Choice" and "by Nespresso". When you click the "by Nespresso" button, you're taken to the official Nespresso Amazon page.

But the product was not directly from Nespresso...

Amazon has done a fantastic job by optimizing the buying experience so that consumers don't even know what or from whom they are truly buying.

That said, I've examined this listing and if you are good optimizing listings on Amazon, you can manipulate the listings and out-compete brands themselves.

I was close to putting my negative experience online and telling my friends about my terrible Nespresso experience. That is why I want to apologize to Nespresso. Even though I am not in the power of massive influence, I would have spoke negatively about something Nespresso did not even do. So, if you are a Nespresso employee reading this. I strongly recommend you review your Amazon listings.

Now, let's examine how brands are being hurt by Amazon.

Have you ever purchased something through Amazon?

With 35 deals closed per second and over a billion purchases yearly, chances are you have.

When you make a purchase on Amazon, you have the option to buy from the actual brand itself or an unauthorized 3rd party Amazon reseller. Just the name itself implies you should go with the brand, but it's much more complicated than that for many online consumers.

These unauthorized Amazon resellers often offer brand name products or "alternatives" at a discounted rate, giving potential buyers an offer they can't refuse. Established brands would argue that there is no guarantee that the product packaging and language in messaging will be similar or identical.

This is now tainting consumer's perception of these successful brands in circumstances that it's not even their fault.

So, what are brands doing to combat this?

A few years ago, Birkenstocks removed their entire official product selection from Amazon, stating that they don't do enough to remove counterfeit products from their storefront. This followed a feud because of Amazon running "typo-targeted" ads to users who misspelled "Birkenstocks" in a Google search.

Birkenstocks are not alone, there's a long list of brands who have run into similar dilemmas. At least in my case, I received what I believe to be legitimate Nespresso pods (albeit dented), but Amazon also is dealing with counterfeit products altogether - not just packaging and advertising.

If you want a full list of Amazon controversies, I suggest you look at this Wikipedia page that outlines them all.

I will say this, Amazon is not entirely evil. They've worked with certain brands to develop exclusive partnerships that disallow unauthorized retailers to sell Apple products on Amazon without their consent. Amazon removed these listings as of Jan. 4, 2019 and moving forward sellers will need to apply with Apple to become legitimate authorized resellers.

Though this will come with more grey areas that need definition, I believe it's a step in the right direction, so I commend them for that. It will still likely only be for large brands who can afford it and make Amazon enough money where it offsets it.

Nike, for instance, also became an official wholesale, first-party seller with Amazon about a year and a half ago. After a few months, their sales numbers on Amazon dropped significantly. Third-party Amazon resellers continued to pop up on the site and Amazon Choice favored them.

Amazon Choice is literally allowing marketers to outsmart brands and beat them at selling their own products.

When Amazon slashed prices, they forced Nike to do the same through their own website. Amazon listings also did not always follow the same branding strategy as Nike, which confused consumers and reduced trust in the brand.

Conversely, Calvin Klein has publicly reported success with their exclusive Amazon partnerships, though it was moreso on a campaign basis rather than an all-in approach like Apple and Nike.

What did I learn from this?

My advice? Stick with brands pages on Amazon so you know what you're getting.

If they don't have an official brand page, go with the company website and avoid Amazon all together. As mentioned in my experience, the product I purchased links to the official Nespresso brand page and earned the Amazon Choice badge, which is where things get tricky.

No one knows for sure how Amazon Choice works, but it has something to do with sales, reviews, returns and customer support. This is where an Amazon Expert can trick Amazon's search algorithm and out maneuver brands.

I'd also suggest reading recent, old, positive, and negative reviews. Look for reviews with images of the product and packaging so you have a better idea of what you can expect. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, and if it seems sketchy, it probably is too.

All Amazon resellers are not scam artists, and all brands aren't always perfect. So, I encourage you to take everything I've said here and use your best judgement when purchasing on Amazon.

For now, I'll likely purchase from a brand website for certain items rather than Amazon because I'm still not sure who to trust.

Have you had a similar experience with purchasing a coveted product from an unauthorized 3rd party Amazon reseller? Did you have a successful experience?

I want to hear your feedback. Let me know in the comments below and let's talk.


word of mouth marketing blog

How this brand got millions of free views by leveraging their fans

The next wave of marketing is here. It’s not search engine optimization, video, social media… it’s word-of-mouth marketing.

Successful marketers, particularly in the online and digital sectors, are taking a step back and getting back to basics. A brand that did this flawlessly is Spotify.

Before we talk about this marketing method, let’s examine why this approach is so powerful.

Why should I care about word-of-mouth marketing?

In the 90’s it was about salesmen pushing products to uneducated consumers. They created trust between the consumer and salesman because the salesman knew everything about the product or service they are selling.

In the 2000’s, the internet and marketing closed the gap between consumers and salespeople. It became about leveraging creative content and analytics to drive conversions. Consumer’s had the power of the internet to learn about a product. So the trust in salesman faded...

Today, marketing fills the internet with spam, generic content, busy social feeds, endless amounts of email marketing and invasive advertising. As powerful as the internet is in connecting brands with consumers, it is also desert were marketing campaigns just decay. We lost trust in salespeople, and now we are losing trust in what we see online produced by brands.

Why? Here are reasons I think consumers are losing trust in brands online:

  • Facebook - What are they doing with our data? Are they manipulating us to profit? Are brands doing the same? 
  • Content Online - The earth is flat. I don’t believe the earth is flat, but if I look hard enough online, I can validate this theory through blog content, forums, Reddit or Quora question. It’s so easy to publish content, but who is publishing this content? What credentials do they have?
  • Online Reviews - these are easy to manipulate. If I told you, I will give you 50% off for a review, would you give me a bad rating? Or let’s say you get a bad product, you complain to the vendor and they’ll even let you keep the product and send you a new one as long as you don’t leave a bad review. Can you really trust reviews online? Maybe...

I strongly believe the next frontier is Word-of-Mouth Marketing or let’s call it Word-of-Mouth Enablement and it’s here to stay.

By developing a Word-of-Mouth Enablement program, your delighted customers become your greatest marketing tool. If you “wow” your customers and users, they are more likely to organically (although incentives always help) spread the good word to their friends, families, and followers because trust is already created.

Now let’s examine Spotify’s successful campaign

Spotify launched their 2018 edition of “Spotify Wrapped”.

Spotify Wrapped is a micro-site built by the music streaming platform that pulls in all of your Spotify listening data from 2018 and runs a statistical analysis.

It displays data such how much time you spent listening to music, and top artists, songs, genres, and can even show you the top astrological sign of artists you listen to (because we all want to know that info, right?).

It may seem simple, but it’s brilliant

When I was first introduced to this through an email, I quickly overlooked it. Then something magical happened on my Instagram feed, I saw all my friends sharing their stat sheets.

friends stat sheeetNaturally, I was curious to see my data. The process was seamless, and I received my numbers...I found out I spent 30 full days listening to music in 2018.

glenmont stat sheet spotify

At the final stage of Spotify Wrapped process, they encourage fans to share their so-called “stat sheet” across various social channels with a neat little social graphic that was uniquely created for us. Everyday users are doing this and are more or less giving Spotify free publicity.

...and lots of Spotify fans are actively doing it.

Here is where this strategy really excels

Imagine you are a musician on Spotify. Wouldn’t you like to know how many hours people listened to your music? Or, would you like to thank you fans on social media? Or just to show off.

Well, Spotify struck a chord with musicians (all puns intended). Artists can generate their own reports, and put together a similar social graphic that displays their number of streams, fans, hours listened, and countries where their music was played.

Here's one of my favorite artists - Kygo

 

Here's another one by Zedd

What this strategy has successfully accomplished is getting their active users and artists to all be sharing their Spotify stats. This is getting their branding out in front of literally millions of followers who may not be active Spotify users.

Power to the People

Delighted customers are the biggest new driver of growth, according to CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, in a recent Harvard Business Review article.

This was an effective “frictionless” campaign run by Spotify, meaning it was simple for consumers to run the listening analysis and share to their pages.

Have you seen any noteworthy word-of-mouth campaigns recently? Let us know in the comments!


perfectionism blog title image about marketing

Top Tips to Overcome Marketing Perfectionism

If you’re a digital marketer or have marketing responsibilities, you’ve surely felt the pressure at one point or another to be perfect at your job.

But it’s not that easy to achieve perfection, and not just in marketing, but in any realm.

Let’s dive into a quick example.

The Perfect Game

perfect baseball game

Sports Illustrated Cover: August 3, 2009

Major League Baseball (MLB) has been around for over 140 years and they have played over 210,000 games. That’s a lot of opportunity for “Perfect Games” are defined by a professional baseball pitcher lasting nine innings and allowing no runners on base, whether it be from hits or walks.

Doesn’t seem that hard, right? There has certainly been no shortage of opportunities.

Well, there have only been 23 perfect games pitched over all that time, and no pitcher has ever thrown over one. That means that 0.01095% of games have been “perfect” according to baseball standards - not a groundbreaking amount.

That’s not to say only 23 pitchers have had successful baseball careers. Some players who threw perfect games aren’t even thought of as great pitchers, and some of the greatest pitchers don’t even have perfect games on their resumes.

Numbers don’t lie, and it makes little sense for these athletes to put their constant focus around being perfect. So as online marketers why do we seek perfectionism in our marketing?

Enough about America’s pastime, it’s time to tie this concept back into the digital marketing profession, as most of us aren’t getting paid millions to throw a ball 100 miles an hour at other men swinging wooden bats.

First, we need to better understand it truly defines what perfection is. Then throughout the rest of this article, we’ll hit on some key points on both the perils and positives of perfection in marketing.

What is perfectionism?

According to Dictionary.com, perfectionism is a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less.

And what is perfection? It means doing something a task excellently or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement. Being perfect means that failure is never an option, and you might be afraid of it.

Now we have that out of the way, let’s look at the three primary types of perfectionism, and touch on how they cause marketing problems.

Self-Oriented

When you are highly critical of yourself. These people set high standards in all aspects of their lives so they can accomplish their personal goals, but don’t rely on others for a push. They are very organized and structure, but can also struggle with insecurities and indecisiveness.

Although these types of perfectionists are flawed, as we all are, they include some of the most successful marketing minds our world has seen.

Other-Oriented

When you are highly critical of others, or vice versa. This perfectionist may have a hard time building productive work relationships if they are too busy knit picking and pointing out the defects of others.

If you let external expectations of perfection to get in your head that can have negative impacts on your productivity and functionality.

Socially Prescribed

When you think society expects you to be flawless (if they really do), social pressures follow.

In our world, many of these pressures we create by unrealistic expectations and body images that social influencers have instilled in their fans. The illusion of perfection if you will. This concept leads to many marketing problems, not to mention on self-esteem.

Perfection Pressures:

Just like a pipe with too much pressure, our pressure to offer perfect marketing services builds, and eventually will burst. And by then, it’s too late.

We’ve talked about the three types of perfectionism, now it’s time to go into detail on some pressures that lead to perfectionist tendencies.

Background/Upbringing

They say you are a product of your environment, and while as we age that becomes less and less of a viable excuse, there is a merit to it.

If you grew up with parents or family members who constantly pushed you beyond the point of just giving your best effort and instead expected perfect results that may impact how you approach tasks in your adult life.

Especially if there were negative consequences for imperfections that can have a lingering psychological impact drips into your day to day and work life.

Competitive Work Environment

Similar to your background and upbringing, you might have become a product of your work environment.

Particularly if you work for a digital marketing agency or hold a role in this field, your boss or clients may always expect impeccable output and nitpick your work, which may put added pressures on you that hinder your production. Perfectionism can literally kill creativity.  

On the flip side, if you have other coworkers and colleagues are attempting to run a perfect marketing campaign, and you see them both successful rewarded for it, that may push you to strive for that.

It’s never a bad thing to reach for better results, but when it limits your output and impacts your ability to get things done, that’s when it’s become a serious issue and is difficult to overcome.

Pride and Personality

Many digital experts are their own toughest critic, which can just as easily be a blessing in disguise or a curse. They want no one to catch a minor grammar error in an email or on a social media post.

None of us want that, but sometimes you need to set your pride aside and get the task at hand complete. Move on to the next item on your list and don’t look back.

Fear of Failure

This is big. Too many of us are so afraid to fail that we use our perfectionism as a crutch when work isn’t complete.

This is where the difference between good and good enough to come into play, and can become a problem with time-sensitive tasks, such as getting a blog posted about a current event or launching a new website site.

If you’re so caught up on making sure the email, project, or post is flawless, you might miss your opportunity to get it out to your audience timely, which can cause trust issues, and fans will drop off.

Negative Impacts on Productivity:

Hard to start (and stop) projects

Let’s touch on a few perfectionists marketing problem examples. Being a perfectionist will add more work to your marketing projects. You’ll check your work over and over to make sure there are no errors, to a fault.

I will not sit here and say you shouldn’t check your work thoroughly before publishing or completing something as I have made many errors in my day from not doing so, but there needs to be a strategy.

Can you relate to this?

After checking and checking, someone points out there is a spelling error. Then you wonder, how did I miss this minor detail? It is because you become blind to your own work.

You shouldn’t just be checking over and over in no particular order. This over thinking can also lead to you missing out on things you would normally pick up on.

This is common for professionals who have made errors in the past that have received a negative reaction to them. When that occurs, it becomes difficult to block out from your mind and move forward.

Prevents you from doing your best work

When you’re having a hard time both starting and stopping, you’re not putting out your best product. Some work takes hyper-focus, and it’s been said it takes up to 25 minutes to get back on track with a task after you have been distracted.

If you’re constantly going back to rework what already should be complete, or it freezes you in place and to get yourself to begin, your quality of work will suffer. You’re stretching yourself too thin and losing sight of the original marketing objective.

Hurts team dynamics

This point lines up pretty well with the competitive work environment discussion we had above. If you are constantly being pushed to be unrealistically excellent, or you are the one pushing others, that can cause tension in the work environment.

Perfectionists also don’t like change. They may always think they have the best strategy and are not willing to try others' ideas, when some of these ideas may help them achieve the unblemished results they so strongly desire.

If you are a perfectionist, and somebody criticizes your written content or a project, it can have a negative impact on your self-esteem and your attitude towards the rest of the team.

Both situations can lead to the pipe we also talked about earlier bursting and the result is a toxic work environment.

Or if you’re lucky, it may turn into a diamond and you thrive from it. Everyone is different.

Drives you nuts

marketing campaign image

There is no such thing as a perfect digital marketer. The stress from always wanting to be without fault, and not doing so, will drive you crazy. It causes you to over-think situations and leads to self-doubt.

Positive Impacts of Perfection

In this article, I have more or less demonized perfection, but striving for improved results is not a bad thing.

Here are a few positive benefits of perfection

Have high standards for yourself and others

Nobody will ever accuse you of not caring about your job, whether it’s your clients, family or colleagues. Perfectionists always put their blood, sweat and tears into the work they put out, and it shows.

Attention to detail

As a marketing perfectionist, you will always put out a polished final project. You may be better at catching errors in your own work and others and require less future rework.

Not everyone has these abilities and it can’t always be taught, so it’s important to leverage in a way that is beneficial.

Streamlined and organized work processes

Perfectionists keep things organized, and while their organizational structure may not translate easily to other colleagues, chances are it keeps them themselves on track.

Whether it's a tool, checklist, naming conventions, perfect marketing managers develop their own workflows and improve efficiency.

Admiration of others

If you’re consistently going above and beyond to put out a high-quality product, that allows for others you work with to have confidence in your ability to get a job done, which leads to raises and career growth.

It may also make them envious of your accomplishments, and push them to strive to make themselves better, which can be beneficial for the growth of the team or organization.

Overcome marketing perfectionism and get more done

Start small and take things one step at a time

I know it sounds odd, but when starting on a task don’t always focus on the bigger picture. That will get you stressing about all the different details and your mind racing in a million different directions about things you’ll never be able to get perfect at first glance.

Start with some small, actionable steps to get a flow and trust that the rest will come as you progress. Trust the process and the tools at your disposal.

Put yourself in other’s shoes

Consider how your perfection impacts others. Whether you’re the one pushing others to be perfect, or others are putting unrealistic expectations on your own shoulders, having a good understanding of how the other party is feeling can go a long way.

Also keep in mind that if you’re always trying to be perfect, but it causes you to miss deadlines or not complete projects, that can impact other's perceptions of you. You may think what you are doing is making the work perfect, but really it’s causing tension and you’re losing their faith.

If everyone understands how they are making each other feel, it helps you avoid future conflict stemming from perfectionist problems.

Celebrate achievements/accomplishments

Sometimes it’s ok to celebrate when things go well. That doesn’t mean every time you send out a perfect Tweet you stand on your desk and dance. But you can reward yourself for your marketing success from time to time.

Especially on things you’ve messed up in the past, that you now learned from and did correctly, those deserve a pat on the back.

If you’re just stressing about being perfect but not reaping any rewards when you are, what are we working for?

Be confident, be shameless

Ok, so here’s a shout out for a one of our clients of ours, Shameless Inc, but I think their message can resonate with everyone.

Shameless is a body positive women's lingerie brand and encourages women to literally “Be Shameless” with their bodies to reshape society's definition of beauty.

If digital marketers along with everyone in all walks of life would adopt the confidence of Shameless and its message to the market, the world would be, dare I say it, a perfect place.

Find a balance

Not every square can be a perfect square. There are many types - some are tall, some are wide, some are rectangular. There are also rhombus’, trapezoids, and parallelograms, none of which are perfect, but are all functional squares by definition. They’re also more quirky than basic squares.

Now that this final section has “taken shape”, focus on finding a balance in your work. Strive to do a great job, but don’t let the pressures hinder you do the point where productivity and quality suffers.

A perfect conclusion:

Do you know how many times we edited this article? A lot.

Can we continue to edit this article? Definitely.

Is it perfect? By no means.

But, the message in this content is what we wanted to communicate to you. Good enough is better than good. Productive is better than perfect. Focus on progress, not perfection.

Let go of your perfectionist tendencies and get your work done!


Is your website forcing too much content on your users?

Meatballs!

Figuratively speaking.

Before you get too excited, these meatballs are metaphorical. Imagine for a moment, you and your plus one spot a quaint little restaurant as you stroll down the block. Curious, you pause to learn more about it. “Meatballs”, someone shouts at you! “Caesar salad, vegetable soup, branzino!” You haven’t even gotten through the door and looked around before the host is shouting menu items at you. What’s the likely response you’d give? You might be confused, mildly amused or suspicious. If you were really hungry you might ask for details, such as a table for two or if the meatballs come on a plate. Probably, you weren’t going to reach for your wallet and hold out your hand for a meatball.

This scenario is exactly what we’re seeing on a lot of websites. We arrive on the page and wonder what it is the company actually does. As we look for some simple and direct explanation of their primary purpose, we see lists of problems to solve, icons of services provided and menus filled with industry-specific needs. Strange as this may sound to website owners (and developers), these services don’t necessarily tell visitors what the company is about.

We’ve all heard the term User Experience or seen the shorthand (UX). I think there’s even a college degree in UX now. However, what does this really mean? For most, this is customer service. In essence, it is a little more than that. Much more, if you consider customer service as merely fixing problems, answering questions and taking sales orders. Experience with a capital X is the key element here. Walking away from that little restaurant, purchase or no purchase, what would you remember about the brand? The little Italian-style plaque beside the door or the smell of freshly baked bread? The checkered tablecloth or the waiter’s flour-stained apron, maybe? I’d wager you’d remember the screaming host yelling in your face about meatballs and how surprised and awkward you felt. Given enough time, you may forget about the actual behavior, and simply associate the restaurant with that awkward feeling. This is probably not the most conducive to being re-engaged, even if you find yourself nearby and hungry once more.

Keeping up with consistency.

Perception is another thing entirely, and shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to cohesion. For this, you should strive to understand and embrace your customer’s perception of your brand. If you sell swimwear, for example, your brand perception is likely to include warm weather, beaches, sun tans and sexiness. A dark blue background split by a white-hot lightning bolt over the words, electric swimwear, might be executed with beautiful artwork – but its design is noticeably lacking. Your product, packaging, brand and overall message should be consistent with brand perception as well.

If your brand is spread out over many products, concepts or services, it might be hard to establish a cohesive message. Consider creating individual brands or collections that each carry a cohesive messaging related to their product, appearance and perception. Creating a style guide is a great way to help organize your branding and brand assets and provides a good visual representation of your umbrella brand. A style guide also formalizes how those assets can be used to provide consistency. With or without a style guide, before designing a large offering, consider how each segment might or might not fit into any existing brands or if any new brands are needed. Of course, you can always outsource such an assignment ;-)The user’s experience is important for a few reasons, not just to get them to make a purchase or call your salesman. This interaction with your brand might mean a lasting impression and the difference between someone who’ll tell others about you and someone who might avoid your business in the future. A memorable and positive experience can yield repeat business, larger orders, brand ambassadors and quicker sales. Visitors to your site might be checking out your brand before they stop by in person or after they met your salesman. Maybe they’re comparing you to a competitor. Even if these visitors aren’t looking to make a purchase right now, their experience will directly affect your success.

Take a look at your own website, or as you think about having one built for you, consider what a potential customer might think of it. It might go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. You, your employees, your friends or your family may not be your target audience. Even if they are, they may not represent your average audience member. Consider what a potential customer might think when they first arrive on your website. Perhaps they aren’t experts in the industry (maybe they should be, or they only work for someone who is). The first thing a visitor expects to see is some indication of what the website owner does. Not lists of services you provide, they want to know how you can help them, even if they don’t understand how you do what you do. A bold elevator pitch, mission statement or straightforward claim is the website version of a welcoming handshake and introduction. If your industry is technical, but your clients aren’t necessarily experts, this concept is even more important. Perhaps your target client is a business that might purchase your technical service. Are you designing the experience for the decision maker who might agree to hire your company or the technician who will be working with your product or service? Remember to include them both in your design, at the appropriate page. Industry experts might skip over your homepage looking for those service lists, while other types of customers might want to read the very first words on your website to get a sense of who you are. All the clever service names, reassuring icons and industry jargon can wait till later. First, tell them they are in the right place. Tell them you have a nice table for two by the window and when they settle in and have a moment to look around, you can offer to read them the specials and tell them about your meatballs.


What can the medical industry from the twentieth century teach us about social media

What can the medical industry from the twentieth century teach us about social media

If I told you that social media marketing is taking the same direction as the medical industry did during the early 1900s, would you believe me? Before we dive deep into this analogy, I’d like to give you a brief history of the medical practice and education industry.

During the turn of the twentieth century, the medical industry in America was pretty much unregulated. People were preaching untested and unproven cures, with financial success being their main motivation.

"Here, have a glass of radium water; it will cure your arthritis and impotence."

Source: Oak Ridge Associated Universities

It is crazy to imagine that people actually paid for this product, but people believed that it helped. Clearly, today we have natural and proven prescription drugs to help.

Of course there were lots of outstanding doctors and scientists, but they were more focused on their research and building the foundations of modern medicine. However, there were lots of “doctors” diagnosing people to drink radium water, because there was no license required.

So, what made the industry shift away from these radical practices? In 1910, Abraham Flexner—who was notably a teacher, not a doctor—surveyed the American medical education landscape and published his report. This resulted in the closing of at least one-third of the existing medical schools—mostly for-profit schools. This helped bring about formal licensing for doctors, and lay the scientific foundations for the medical industry.

Fast forward to today and digital marketing

Let’s relate this to today’s digital marketing, specifically in the social media landscape. What makes someone a social media expert? Because I understand technology and I am extremely photogenic, can I run your company’s social media profiles?

Let’s examine what is plaguing the marketing industry:

The Instant Social Media Marketing Agency

Background: I have an iPhone, a Macbook Pro, and managed a family friend’s company’s social media profile. This gives me instant credibility to manage more business profiles and start selling social media services.

Results: They produce great photo content, create posts using the same stock photos, edit photos using tools like Canva, and get you likes. You ask the question (or should ask), ”How much business does my social media generate?” It is pretty hard to provide evidence on your ROI, so most of the time you will get reports on “engagement,” “number of likes,” and “we are building your long-term profile.”

The Intern Farm Agency

Background: These agencies leverage their interns to help in the content production process. Most of the time, they hire interns for little to no pay.

Results: Companies will pay a hefty price tag for social media services from these agencies, which employ free labor. As above, they’ll report about engagements and likes and, “your long-term profile”.

Real Life Example: One of my clients requested that we transition from social media management to other digital marketing services, which was for the best interest for my client. We found a great intern to manage their profiles. Shortly thereafter, another agency pitched their services to this client at five times the current cost. We soon found out that this agency had hired the same intern, but this was a non-paid position.*

Thought Reversal - Medical Industry and Social Media

The Robot Agency

Background: These agencies are the ones which guarantee likes and followers. This sounds great and looks good on paper, but this is achieved by using automated bot services.

"This bot walked right into that one..."

Results: Your company will build fake followers, likes, and engagement. You may have more fans, but do they care about your business? Again, you have been trained to focus on likes and followers, not ROI.

Unregulated Influencers

Background: The influencer industry is one of those areas that is really difficult to understand and to scale. There is no formula for how much an influencer should cost; rather, it is simply what they want to charge.

Results: You spend an endless amount of time reviewing influencers. Some influencers will ask for thousands of dollars, while similar influencers will do it for free in exchange for products. My least favorite “influencer” is the one which uses bots to build fake followers. They post content on their profiles, you prepare for sales to come in and…no sales.

These are just some examples of what is plaguing the marketing industry. Even if you get over the hurdle of working with these agencies and influencers, you still have another challenge to deal with: Facebook. With all the negative press, their growth rate leveling out, and reduced organic reach, what is a business supposed to do? It really depends, but if you don’t know what to do, then do nothing. Let the dust settle and then re-enter the social media market. It is too chaotic and takes too much time to figure out.

That is probably not the answer you wanted to hear, so here is what we are doing:

The social media market needs to grow up and mature. Mark Traphagen (Stone Template) claims “that these changes are a good thing, because they will finally force social media marketers to grow up and act like REAL marketers, not hackers or tricksters.”

Take that concept and start focusing on marketing, not gaming the system. We strongly believe that if agencies and marketers don’t transition away from trick marketing tactics, they will find themselves forced out of this industry as companies start to focus on measuring their results. While industry cleanses itself, take that time and start focusing on boring, non-flashy marketing activities like search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, post nurturing customers, or even try print media.

Let’s continue to use one of our clients as an example. We transitioned from heavy social media management to SEO and email marketing. We continue to advise and support my client for their social media needs, but it is mainly managed by an intern that is given direction. Now that we have focused on SEO and optimizing email marketing, sales are up 65% and organic search traffic increased about 40% within one month. When we have conversations with our client, they are able to see the ROI on their marketing dollars. Again, we are using data to make our marketing decisions; without the use of data, we are just guessing. Remember radium water? Imagine this: if we ignored the fact that people die from ingesting radium, we would still have salesmen pushing this product.

We understand that this may upset or contradict your beliefs. Are we saying social media marketers and influencers are con-artists? No, absolutely not. There are many social media marketers that are doing great campaigns for their clients, but there are just as many that are not. We feel that there is a strong disconnect between social media marketers and business objectives. When the barrier to entry is this easy (iPhone, laptop and a license to Hootsuite) and unregulated, you end up with people that enter this market to make a quick and easy dollar. If you have a full-stack marketing consultant, they will contact and notify you to pivot your marketing dollars away from social media. If they don’t, they just may not understand your business well enough. Hey, if you are measuring your social media success on likes and followers, then your social media team is doing the exact job you hired them for.


Don't Let Your Business Fall Into The Wrong Hands

Don't Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

Don’t Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

You've Been Hurt Before

Don't Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

Recently, we met with a client whose branding and website we are now developing. As part of our assessment process we reviewed the history of her business, how it had evolved and where it had become stagnant. We discovered that she had worked with other companies before. Apparently, she left her business in the hands of a developer who did not understand her needs. When we uncover this sort of thing there is usually some reasoning that made some sort of sense at the time. Maybe it was someone’s relative, or a friend owed her a favor. Maybe the concept of an internet presence was so out of her comfort zone that she was easily swayed into believing that only a web expert could help her. Whatever the reason, our client ended up using a developer who wasn’t aware of what she wanted to accomplish.

Putting your business in its entirety into the hands of a web developer would be akin to leaving your business under the control of the builder who constructed your office space. Our client needed a web professional, but she also needed her brand and her product to have the right story, the right treatment that would introduce it to the world. If you aren’t going to work closely with your developer, to create the ideal space for your business to function in, then someone you trust should do it. If your developer isn’t interested in any sort of tailor-made environment for your business, you should take a long hard look at your budget and your goals and then find another developer.

When marketing and design come together, wonderful things can happen.

Your Business Is Unique

Don't Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

Over the course of the past four years she had worked with multiple providers to create and evolve her branding and she was very disappointed with her end results. She was so dissatisfied with what she had, that she was actually embarrassed to promote her business and crippled to move forward.
Working with generalist providers made it difficult for her to make progress. There was no tangible process and no measures taken to help her reveal the goals she wanted to reach. Without a deep understanding of her product and business, no objectives were ever determined, and consequently none were to be realized. She went through the process of outsourcing many trivial creative projects. She ended up with lesser components and no comprehensive way to sew it all together. With unsatisfactory deliverables and no roadmap in hand she found her way to us, and prepared herself to start all over again.

We’ve witnessed this pattern repeat itself time and again over the years: generalist firms selling template solutions for complex problems. It had become apparent to us some time ago that this could have the potential to become a very real problem for a great many people. We’ve witnessed these providers repeatedly treat symptoms with no attempt to diagnose the deeply rooted issues festering below the surface. Without having a deep knowledge of the intimate space it would be impossible to know the best way to solve industry specific problems.

With only providers that lack the unique expertise, specific to your industry, there is definitely something missing from the equation. From what we’ve seen, the likelihood of successful outcomes has been predictably low in cases where the client uses only a generalist firm. Unfortunately, that is the space the majority of our clients are in when we meet them. They have been failed by other companies that are unable to see the big picture. They are not used to working with a company that cares about their brand or a provider that understands their industry. Companies should get involved and become informed about the product or service that they intend to represent. Firms should understand the consumer they plan to sell to, and value the ideals of their clients.

Many companies are only capable of building a website or designing a logo and they do not address what ties it all together. That is what they know and that is what they sell. We work differently. We go far beyond mar-comm and creative services. We dive deeply into every aspect of the business to discover your unique obstacles and offer clarity and guidance toward the ideal results you want to achieve. You know what you want for your business. Select a partner who understands your needs and can help you realize your goals.


The Difference Between Marketing and Design

The Difference Between Marketing and Design

The Difference Between Marketing and Design

A Marketer and a Designer Walk into a Bar...

The Difference Between Marketing and Design

Designer: “You know what would be cool? It should be a clean black pallete, representing the existential state of your being and then we finish with a single, dramatic product image, resonating the importance of the product with the viewer.”

Marketer: “The consumer must be informed, we have to communicate that our product is all natural, low fat, never animal tested, environmentally friendly, high fiber and contains more than six times the recommended daily value of phosphorous. They shouldn’t be confused by alternating brand messages or fun fonts. Just the facts.”

When The Chips are on the Table

The Difference Between Marketing and Design

We are using this hypothetical example of chips because it’s a good example of what we’re talking about, though what we’re saying really has nothing to do with chips per se. Insert any product here, we’ve all seen examples of how design or marketing can pass or fail out there in the boardroom and on the sales floor.

When brand imagery, be it product packaging, web presence, presentation materials or the like, are created without a carefully rendered balance of marketing and design, there is a significant portion of your message that can become lost. Designers look first to create something visually appealing to capture the attention of the viewer, considering dramatic presentation, sensationalism and composition as some of their primary goals. Meanwhile, marketers know that they have to set their brand or product apart from the competition, establish or validate what they do and how they do it. They need to demonstrate the features and benefits of the product as well as explain why it is more valuable…and never the twain shall meet, right?
Wrong. They must meet. They will meet, and when they do, it will be amazing. It is your job to make these factors balance. Or your boss’s job, or your subordinates’. Whether you outsource your artwork and marketing, or you have in house teams or you are the designer and the marketer, someone must be (or should be) carefully considering the balance of both the design and messaging of all of your brand’s content.

When marketing and design come together, wonderful things can happen.

A Delicate Balance

The Difference Between Marketing and Design

This balance is delicate, and to do it successfully not only do you need to consider and align all your touch points and editorial calendars but also connect the right team together to pull it all off. Figuring out why you do what you do (and I’m not referring to profit) is an important step and exponentially valuable. It will not only help you to select the team that believes in the core values of the organization and the products, it will help you to identify who you are marketing to. If you know the why it can be relatively simple to seamlessly align design and marketing objectives all while targeting the audience that believes in what you believe, making selling much easier from every way you look at it.

Often times we see successful marketing that does not seem to be balanced between dramatic or artful imagery and clear messaging or seems more weighted in marketing or in design, but it somehow works. Why?

This ad isn't the whole story.

How Much of your Story Do They Already Know?

The Difference Between Marketing and Design

This might seem to be both wholly dramatic and hugely successful to you. But consider that this ad isn’t the whole story. Apple is a company that’s been creating innovative products since the 1970’s and their marketing has evolved drastically over the past 40 years. You know the brand, you know their beliefs and you know this product already. You already know what the product does. They have created such a powerful brand identity that they don’t need to waste time or space telling their customers what they already know. Today an Apple ad can focus on any one element and bring to mind the other parts of their overall message. They have so successfully communicated their belief that they “think differently” that those who subscribe to the same beliefs will wait on line for hours to buy the newest product release.

For the rest of us who aren’t Apple or insert mega brand here, we may not be currently enjoying the same massive success but we can analyze and learn what makes them so successful.

When you or your team combines marketing with design, consider what the target audience already knows about your brand, or more aptly, what they don’t know. Consider which touch points will promote the different aspects of your message and where in your marketing you will introduce more. Remember that you must capture and hold their attention long enough to tell them your story so decide what part of the story you want to tell. You’ll want to create a content map to help to organize how and where to focus on features and benefits or your mission statement. When marketing and design come together, wonderful things happen.