When managing a company is your responsibility, a lot of important detail work gets put on the back burner.
So what’s simmering on your back burner?
Updating your web site with fresh page content?
Better utilizing social media?
Updating the navigation of your site?
Making sure your web site if properly protected?
Preparing trade show materials for your soon-to-be-released product?
Or maybe it’s larger than that. Perhaps what you don’t have the time or energy left to do is revamp your marketing strategy to bring in new business.
Interestingly, what’s relegated to your back burner can have a huge impact on the very thing that’s stressing you out right now. Such as your last quarter ROI.
That’s because when your marketing is taken care of strategically with a practiced eye towards your industry, your job gets a little less intense as your ideal customers begin to take notice of what your company can actually provide to them.
What you do
Carve out a 90 minutes to meet with us when the time is right for you. Tell us what you don’t have the time or the people to do, and what results you’d like to see. Give us your parameters, financial and otherwise.
What we do
When you say go, we do the work, providing you with feedback, details and a few fine-tuning decisions along the way. We don’t make assumptions. We research your niche and come up with several positioning approaches that tell your story to the right people — in a compelling and memorable way. We also adjust to your budget and your timeframe.
What we do is eye-opening. Don’t be surprised if we uncover a few fascinating things about your own rapidly shifting marketplace that raise your eyebrows. Or help you determine how your company can make the most of its sweet spot through well-placed ads in carefully researched places you may not even be aware of.
At FocalPoint, the answer is, “Sure, we’d love to be your go-to company on your website project. But let’s talk about this before we get started.”
If this is our first work with a new client, we initiate a lot of conversations before we touch the cursor. We like to think of this as “Website Design and Development 101.” It really is a prerequisite before we begin work.
Why? Because the best place to begin is to really consider why you want a website in the first place.
Is this to replace or update an existing site? Why replace it? What was right and what wasn’t about the existing site?
What is your single most important message and why?
What does the site need to do?
Answer questions about what you do or be a resource to provide info or tools to existing customers?
We want to be sure that your website is more than a place to talk about who you are and what you do. If that’s all your website does, it won’t drive traffic. It will probably just sit there as a line on your business card.
For a website to do what it’s supposed to do, it has to:
Provide you with needed information right off the bat. In three minutes, a potential customer should know who you are, what you do, and why your company matters
Be strategically engineered to drive readership
Built around intuitive navigation (i.e., making your key points easily understood and getting eyes further into the site to provide more information)
Set a strategically considered tone with color, visuals and copy.
Once we begin communication with new clients around the strategic design of their website, we often uncover previously undiscussed topics, for instance:
What really sets you apart from your competition?
How does what you do matter?
Does your logo accurately reflect a sense of what you are/what you do?
Does your tag line provide memorable new information about your company, or just sit there because you’ve used it for ten years and never thought much about it?
Even after the site work is begun, we’re really just getting started. Because once that website is up, you’ll need to manage it to keep if working for your business, adding fresh content from time to time.
So yes, we can help you build and design that new website. But with us, the site will be much more than new.
It will provide the right information to your audience at the right time. It will drive the right kind of traffic to your business.
It will also provide your potential client with a reason to contact you to learn more.
Social media is changing so fast today. Having worked in the marketing and technology arena for over 25 years, I realize it’s the nature of the beast. However, I feel like in just the last six months there of been an incredible amount of breakthroughs on the big social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
It got me thinking, if you are a business that isn’t engrained in social on a daily basis as part of your marketing strategy – figuring out where to start would be mind boggling. So much so, I think it’s no wonder that this uncertainty often creates paralysis when it comes to social media marketing.
If you’re a business you may be wondering…
How am I supposed to keep up?
What am I missing out on?
Most importantly, you’re probably trying to figure out what actually makes sense for you and what type of budget it requires.
To me, this very topic hits right at the core of any great client-agency relationship. You see, our job at Focal Point is to help you navigate the latest updates updates and put together a social media marketing strategy that actually makes sense for your business.
With that said, I am going to give you the quick, 30,000 ft. view with what’s going on with some of the big players in social media right now. There’s a major trend/common thread I see continuing throughout 2017 and beyond. And that trend is video on social.
Video Is Everywhere on Social Media
I read a prediction recently that suggested in the next couple of years, 80% of all social media will be video posts. That’s right, 80%. I can’t say I disagree with that. In fact, I recently wrote a blog post about how you can get the most out of video by using it to propel your marketing strategy.
There’s no doubt toward the end of 2016 and into 2017, we’ve seen an explosion of video across all social networks. More specifically, live video. Social networks are betting big on live video. But should you? I’ll get to that in a moment.
Facebook has also added more features for brand pages in the way video is delivered. This includes built-in calls to action (CTA’s) and automatic closed captioning features. This is big as many people view videos on social with the sound off at first.
Even more is on the way, too. 360 degree photos area already here and video is next.
On the Twitter side of the equation, we’ve also seen the rise of live video. Periscope (live video broadcasting tool that used to be a standalone app) is now baked into Twitter and you can go live right from your Twitter account. Additionally, Twitter increased the video length to over 2 minute videos and media (photos and video) no longer counts toward your 140 character total.
While there has been some buzz about the future of Twitter…it’s clear to see they’re investing big on video as well.
Speaking of Snapchat, the new(er) kid on the block is certainly making some waves out there. With over 200 million users and updates to its advertising capabilities, Snapchat is sparking some interest from businesses. And guess what – they’re rolling out more video features. You can now add videos to your Stories, send a video Note and have a video Chat.
Organic Social & Paid Social Advertising
It’s worth noting that this trend toward video is happening majorly on both the organic and paid side of social media advertising. Soon ads will be a part of most video experiences on social media, including live video. As more and more videos are viewed via social media and on the web, I think advertisers that have traditionally used television will begin to make a shift in their ways as well. It’s this simple: more eyeballs will be on mobile devices than TV screens consuming video.
So, What Next?
Now you’ve got a better understanding of this social shift that is taking place across networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. But what are you supposed to do next? If you’ve never even published a video from your business on a social media network, you may be overwhelmed with all of the things to consider.
Then there’s live video. Just because it is available and on the rise doesn’t necessarily mean it makes sense for your business. In fact, I’d say there are some things you should definitely consider before you jump into live video. All things that I’d be happy to discuss.
My hope is that I’ve started a conversation with this post. It’s a conversation that needs to take place if you’re at all in the game of social media advertising. And it’s a conversation I’d love to have with you. Here’s how to reach me…
Spearheading a new product launch or marketing initiative? Although all of us understand change is ubiquitous and needed, it does seem to be in our very nature to resist it. And that we all do, in big ways and small.
If the marketing launch you are undertaking is massive, here at FocalPoint, we recommend taking small steps from the gate. Here’s what we mean:
For instance, separating communication about the initiative from action. Start by outlining what’s changing and provide a clear “why.” Customers, staff, senior advisers and folks on down the line – even the voice in your head – all need that.
Follow that first step by parsing out a series of additional ‘bite-sized’ steps, and attach a dateline to each. This way, you can provide those in your organization with a chance to taste success one step at a time, and build confidence along the way.
Every couple of weeks, provide a status update and remind your team (and your customers, as appropriate) of the big picture.
Breaking any big marketing change down into smaller elements while keeping the big picture in mind can help everyone in your organization appreciate the ultimate goal, gain positive momentum and contribute to its ultimate success.
More than a few famous poets, authors and songwriters have waxed poetic about the point along the road where one has to decide which direction to take.
At FocalPoint, we think the key to making the best decision about the road less travelled, the road not taken, or the fork in the road is NOT the crucial part of your journey. We think that first you have to SEE the fork, and recognize it for what it is.
That’s a huge thing in marketing and communications strategy. Many, many organizations misstep by failing to see that there is a critical decision to be made at a particular juncture — and do not understand the importance of the fork in the road.
How does one develop the insight to take the right path? At FocalPoint we set out these reminders for ourselves:
Stay focused on shifting currents
Be open to change and stay nimble
Be accessible and approachable
Consult with others and listen
Understand the way it always was is not the way it is
Recognizing the significant, life-altering twists in your company’s path is difficult. It helps having a company by your side to help you anticipate change.
Together, we can decide which new direction to take to forge ahead.
Some years ago, I met with a potential marketing client over lunch. It was the president of the company. I had heard from him that he was not pleased with his existing marketing program, so this meeting was an opportunity to listen and learn about his business and talk to him about FocalPoint’s work. I was thrilled to get the appointment and wasn’t sure what to expect.
After talking about his present marketing strategy and how it didn’t seem to result in the sales volume he had hoped for, he asked me a pointed question he knew would put me on the spot.
“What can your company do that will get us where we want to be?”
At first it appeared to be a golden opportunity to plunge in and talk up our firm. But frankly, I didn’t want to give a sales pitch based on platitudes, in fact, I never give sales pitches.
“I honestly don’t know,” I said. There was a stunned moment of silence. I was pretty sure I’d lost the opportunity, but I also knew I didn’t have the background on his business that I needed to provide a qualified answer.
“I don’t want to be presumptive and offer you something that sounds good, but is based on nothing. You know much better than I do about what is going on in your industry and your business. I need to know much more before I could even begin to come up with marketing strategies that might make sense for you.”
I was being brutally honest. I wasn’t ready to talk about specific strategies to market his business. But I wasn’t sure how my answer would be received.
Interestingly, everything about that meeting changed in that moment. Instead of having a typical business meeting, we began to have a real conversation. We both dropped our pretenses and did a lot more listening than posturing or selling.
Although that happened a while ago, it fascinates me how life lessons present themselves in unexpected ways. This one has stayed with me at FocalPoint, and it’s one I share with those I work with. Being frank and open and asking a ton of questions is a big part of the way we handle new business.
So, what can you tell us about your business so that we can begin to work together as a part of your trusted marketing team?
Utilizing social media for customer service is no longer optional, it’s mandatory. While many digital marketers have heard stories about large companies who are using social media effectively as a customer support channel, there are a lot of small to medium size businesses who are missing the boat. Many businesses still see handling customer requests and complaints via social media as a burden rather than the incredible opportunity it really is. These businesses see it as an area that requires time and resources, instead of an area that can create die-hard brand advocates. But as I look at the social media marketing landscape as a whole, I see not having an online customer service plan as an Achilles heel.
If you remember, it used to be that in order to direct message someone on Twitter, they first had to be following you. This created another layer of friction when dealing with customer service online. Let’s say I had a complaint about a cold cup of coffee I received at a Starbucks. I would be forced to post that complaint publicly on Twitter as a regular @ reply unless Starbucks was already following me on Twitter (highly unlikely). Then, in order for them to respond to me via a direct message, I would have to be following their account. Kind of messy, right? Not only did it mean more complaints posted publicly, it meant additional steps just to get something resolved. This often added frustration to these type of communications online.
Now Twitter has done away with these added steps. On the downside, it means anyone can direct message you which could be a little strange, but on the plus side it means customer service on Twitter is easier and faster than ever. And when you really stop to think about it, that’s the way it should be. Customers expect to get response and get them fast using social media. In fact, often times they’ll use social media when unable to get through to someone using other traditional types of communication such as a phone call or email. Twitter has made it easier and faster than ever by rolling out this update to make it the preferred social network for customer service. Why? Because you are limited to just 140 characters, so you know it’s going to be fast!
Facebook is driving more attention than ever to its messages. Each time a message is received by a brand page, there are additional notifications (beyond the standard number icon) showing how long the average response time is and how many messages have not been responded to. Facebook is urging brands to respond to all messages as fast as possible. In fact, if you average less than 5 minutes responding to 90% of your messages, a special green icon and notice can be adding to your Facebook page letting fans know you have extremely fast response times.
Further, Facebook recently made it possible to save replies; even creating pre-populated messages that can be used to answer FAQ’s. There’s personalization that can be added to the messages such as a greeting which automatically pulls in the Facebook user’s first name and email signature style closings which can even use saved photos and emoticons. This makes it easy to build up a library of answers which can be reused over and over again further speeding up response time. I think there’s plenty more to come from Facebook yet in 2015 on the customer service front, but this was a great start.
Moving forward, it’s clear there will be even more of an emphasis on using social media for customer service than ever before. This gives businesses who “get it” a distinct advantage over those who show up late for the party, or don’t show up at all. It’s going to be expected more and more that companies of all sizes are staffed and prepared to respond to requests via social media in a timely manner. That’s just the bottom line. And those who fail to do so, will risk gaining a poor reputation by getting blasted in online reviews and comments. It must be a part of any social media marketing strategic plan moving forward.
Everyone loves a good hashtag…and there have certainly been some good ones (where would we all be without the #selfie). But do they actually accomplish anything when it comes to a strategic marketing plan? Does it make sense for a small to medium sized business to develop a hashtag as part of its social media marketing efforts? I’ve often found myself asking these questions and I have come to a final answer. Hashtags can be BOTH lazy and effective in online marketing; depending on the context of course. Let me break it down the way I see it…
Hashtags Are Lazy Online Marketing When…
Hashtags are lazy marketing when there’s no conversation or plan built around the hashtags. Sadly, I see this all the time. Even from some huge companies that should know better. What is the point of using a hashtag if there’s not going to be a specific goal in mind? Often times hashtags become an afterthought and something that just gets tacked on at the end. It’s kind of like adding links to all of your social media accounts to an email marketing template just because. If the purpose of the email is for people to connect with you socially, then add them. If the purpose is for someone to click back to read your blog post, then they aren’t necessary. Same with hashtags. While they may be trendy and cool (kind of like QR codes used to be) they aren’t necessary.
Not only do you need to have a plan for hashtags, but you need to reinforce them at every possible opportunity. I think some of the Super Bowl commercials this year really dropped the ball on this and can provide an example of what not to do. One that comes to mind is the Kim Kardashian T-Mobile commercial. While the concept of the commercial is OK, the hashtag of #kimdatastash just gets lost at the end. I mean, it’s literally on the screen for around one second. Let me say that again – one second. You look down to grab another chip while watching the Super Bowl and it’s gone when you look back up! Why not keep something like that on screen the entire time? As an online marketing professional, I have to ask that question.
I was curious about if there was something that I missed here, so I went to search.twitter.com to check it out. At the time the commercial aired and the day after there were hundreds of tweets using the hashtag. That’s to be expected. I mean it is a Super Bowl ad and it is Kim Kardashian (love her or hate her) that we’re talking about. But what happened after those first couple of days? Well, sure enough there have been less than 30 Twitter mentions of the hashtag #kimdatastash – less than 30! We’re talking about one of the most followed people on social media and Super Bowl commercial here. If you were going to use a hashtag in a commercial been viewed on one of the biggest stages in the world, wouldn’t you want to make sure the conversation continued? I would have to classify this in the category of lazy hashtag marketing.
Hashtags Are Effective Online Marketing When… Hashtags are effective online marketing when there’s a conversation or plan centered around them. I would encourage any online marketing professional to do some research around hashtags in the target market then work backwards. What is the goal of using the hashtag? Does it really make sense to create a new one? If the purpose is to reinforce branding, maybe it does make sense. Another time when it might make sense is if your company is involved in a specific event and you want to monitor conversation around. However, if the purpose is solely to increase online visibility, then tapping into existing hashtags could save boat loads of time. When it comes to online marketing, it’s much easier and takes far less resources to join a conversation that already exists than to create a new one.
One great example of this was the #shareaCoke campaign from Coca-Cola. Clearly they had an incredible strategy ready to go build around this concept and hashtag. It reinforced the brand, was very creative, yet a simple and fun way to engage its customers. This is the perfect use of a hashtag in my opinion.
How Many Hashtags Should I Use? It’s also a good idea to know how many hashtags to use on each of the social channels. After all, part of using hashtags effectively is including the right amount. For example, Facebook and Twitter posts see the most engagement with 1-2 hashtags while Instagram posts get the most engagement out of a whopping 11 hashtags. When I think about the number of hashtags, I can’t help but remember this popular skit on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon featuring Jimmy & Justin Timberlake. Take a look…
In all seriousness, I didn’t pull the recommended number of hashtags to use on each social channel out of thin air. Here’s an extremely helpful infographic from the folks at Quicksprout called The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags that has these numbers plus much more info. Take a look and use this as a resource to help your posts get seen more and monitor what’s going on in your particular niche.
What a great year it has been! I want to take a moment to thank all of my readers and clients who have helped make this another successful year for Focal Point. As a small business in Indianapolis, we couldn’t do what we do without our wonderful community and your support.
To bring things to a close for the year, I want to share 4 of my most popular articles all about marketing trends and things to look forward to 2015. One thing I learned this year in my writing is that some of my most well received posts were all about creating a strategic marketing plan moving into the new year. Whether this is your first time reading my blog or you’ve been here before, I know you’ll find some valuable information below.
4 Questions Every Business Should Be Asking This Time of Year
It seems like just yesterday that I hit “publish” on this post, yet here we are at the end of the year. Originally published at the beginning of Fall, this post is all about taking the time to evaluate your online marketing plan throughout the year. How can you define what “success” means to your business without having some sort of plan in place?
As we head into 2015, this post can serve as a reminder to schedule time in your calendar during the new year to take a look at your big wins, the areas where you fell short and put a plan in place to improve performance throughout the year. I recommend making the time to do this on a quarterly basis. This seems like the right amount of time to get good data on if your marketing plan is working while giving you enough time to make adjustments as needed. Find out all 4 questions to ask yourself in the full post here!
3 Movements Every Digital Marketer Must Watch Now
There are some big movements taking place in the digital marketing world that’s for sure. As marketers, it’s important that we are aware of these dynamic shifts as they will greatly impact the way we reach our potential customers and they way our customers do business with us.
New SEO is Now Online Branding?
In my latest post prior to this one, I pose this very serious question. It has been said that SEO is dead, but is is possible that online branding is simply taking it’s place?
With Google acting more and more like a human and less like a robot, it’s more important than ever to establish a good online reputation and brand trust. I recently watched a webinar from Rand Fishkin of Moz where he unveiled some of the big changes and tactics to position your brand for growth. Get all the key points on how to increase your online branding here!
There’s less than 2 months left in the year and all of us want to close out 2014 strong. It’s times like these when marketers and business owners tend to just go, go, go. But, when it comes to marketing strategies these busy times can cause us to lose focus and over complicate things as a result. With so many websites, so many ways to communicate, and so many things you want to do, now is the time to think about how to simplify your marketing success. Let me tell you how.
I believe all successful marketing campaigns have 3 simple ingredients. While these ingredients are very simple, they are often overlooked. I see it happen time and time again. Missing one of these ingredients is like trying to make a loaf of bread without flour. It just doesn’t turn out well.
Let’s think about it for a minute – every time a customer or prospect takes the action you want it’s because 3 things happened. 3 very simple ingredients came together just right.
Ingredient #1 – Right Message. You sent your customer or prospect exactly the right message to capture their attention.
Ingredient #2 – Right Time. They received your message at the perfect time.
Ingredient #3 – Right Device/Medium. You reached them using the right method of communication.
Take a look at this short video to see these 3 ingredients come together perfectly…
Example #1: Meat Pack Shoe Store – Hijack
Watch this video from the Meat Pack shoe store in Guatemala to see these 3 things come together perfectly…
Think about this video for just a minute. Why was this “Hijack” campaign effective? The answer is easy. The potential customer was offered a significant discount (right message) while they were in a competitor’s store, likely close to a purchase decision (right time) on their smartphone (right device). At that point, converting on this campaign for anyone who was targeted was super easy (and even fun) to do.
Sure, this WestJet example involved plenty of planning, but when you think about it the concept was simple. We’re going to give awesome personalized gifts/go above and beyond (right message) while people are traveling for the holidays (right time) and do so in person (right device).
What Do These 2 Examples Have In Common?
Not only do Meat Pack and WestJet nail all of the 3 must-have marketing ingredients, but they create a truly unforgettable customer experience. The type of experience that captures attention and the type of experience that customers WILL tell others about.
1. Right Message – What is the message you want to send to your customers or potential customers? Maybe it’s an educational message to help them better understand how a product or service works. Maybe it’s a special discount on Black Friday to help drive some immediate sales. Whatever your message ends up being, make sure it’s incredibly clear. Too often we get caught up in all of the other things that come along with an online marketing campaign and lose sight of what our actual message should be. Don’t be the person sitting there asking yourself again, “what was it we actually wanted our visitors to do?”
2. Right Time – Timing is everything when it comes to planning an effective marketing strategy Does it make sense to send your message immediately before or after some type of business transaction? After that, how long is too long? Getting your timing right can be the difference between a 5% response rate and a 15% response rate. Look at data, ask your audience ahead of time and test it until you get it right.
3. Right Device – In the marketing industry, especially in today’s world we say “device,” but really it’s any method of communication. In one instance, sending a text to someone’s smartphone immediately after a purchase offering $10 off the next purchase in exchange for feedback about their experience might be just the right device. In another instance, sending a hand written follow-up note at the end of the year to your customer along with some holiday goodies might be exactly the right “device.” I guess what I am saying is that just because we have all of these technological advances and new “devices’ available, doesn’t mean we should lose sight of some of the “old school” ways to communicate. A hand written note or even a face-to-face transaction can be just the right “device.”
At Focal Point, we make sure our customers get the 3 ingredients to marketing success right, every time. If you’d like some help with your next online marketing campaign or need some assistance when it comes to strategic planning, please get in touch with us today. We can help you create that customer experience you’ve been wanting to deliver.