Celebrity Influencer Marketing Is Dead, Report Says–Real Employees And Customers Are Better

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While many (including me) have heralded influencer marketing as one of the Holy Grails of effective public relations, a new report from Sprout Social suggests that celebrity influencers are rapidly losing their power.

But before you hang up the towel on influencer marketing, consider this novel (and less expensive) idea: While leveraging actual people for brand awareness and engagement is still important, instead of shelling out your marketing dollars to Kendall Jenner or Arielle Charnas, why not hand the microphone to your customers and employees instead?

Real employees and customers inspire better marketing traction than celebrity shills.

Many savvy brands are heeding the plea from consumers to scrap the photoshopped, cookie-cutter models from their ads and include more authentic men and women instead. For example, Target is now publishing swimming suit ads unretouched. Designers Rebecca Minkoff and Diane von Furstenburg are eliminating professional models altogether in favor of “real” women, according to Glamour.

But for small businesses, why not follow the lead of brands like Macys, who are tapping their own employees for ads and marketing initiatives such as images on Instagram and other platforms. It’s a form of employee advocacy writ large: Macys.com is publishing short videos of employees and customer ambassadors to highlight their personal interests and show their style choices in actual use in various settings such as sports, bartending and other genuine activities. Participants receive commission on the sales their segments produce.

According to Tongal, a brand that is also trying out this format, one participant produced a total of $15,000 of handbag sales in a week.

Imagine what this could mean for your own small business. Instead of paying big dollars to “rent” a celebrity’s audience, you could tap individuals who understand your brand far better than a celebrity would, with commission payment on the back end for an influencer’s success. The opportunity would further cement employee engagement and customer loyalty, and the participant base would be naturally authentic and (hopefully) ideally diverse.

The program would also protect your company’s image from celebrity influencers who fail to deliver on commitments, whose audiences may be largely fake, and who may become the targets of scandals or crisis situations that by extension could tarnish your company’s image as well.

Real-world influencers solve the problem Sprout Social notes in the fact that while 49% of marketers believe influencer marketing is vital, only 19% have any budget at all for the program. Furthermore, current data is showing that people consume influencer content at a surprisingly low level across platforms—between 1-11% on average—which shows that current influencer programs aren’t driving the value marketers had hoped.

More data from the report:

The majority of marketers (56%) are looking for extended brand reach through influencers. Seventy percent of social marketers are use employees as influencers or advocates today or want to do so in the future. Consumers are almost twice as likely to consider a product recommended from a friend rather than an influencer or celebrity. Sixty one percent say they’d be more likely to research a product or service recommended on social by a friend versus only 36% for professional influencers.

The opportunity for brands large and small should be clear. Readers can obtain a copy of the full report from Sprout Social here.

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Email Marketing Is Still The Top Way To Generate Leads

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As the general public became familiar with electronic communications, mass postal-mail marketing campaigns gave way to email marketing campaigns. If you have been working in marketing prior to the social media boom, you surely remember when emails were the top marketing platform.

Over time, the popularity of email marketing campaigns resulted in personal email inboxes that were overflowing with the latest and greatest offers. Email campaigns grew and people grew tired of them. Laws that allowed customers to unsubscribe breathed new life into email marketing campaigns as customers could easily pick and choose the companies they were interested in.

Email marketing has long been a tried-and-true method for generating leads. This approach continues to enjoy a strong track record in spite of the rise of social media platforms. Email marketing is still an efficient way to generate leads at a reasonable cost.

One thing that hasn’t changed with email marketing is that you need to be strategic about how you word every part of marketing emails. One of the best things about email subscriptions of today is that you can count on your prospects having some level of interest in your product or service that encouraged them to sign up for your subscription list to begin with.

Write email campaigns that get results.

One of the first lessons that I learned about email marketing campaigns is to give sincere thought to how a customer perceives every component of the email, starting with the subject line. Media headlines grab your attention and get you to listen longer or read further. A meaningful subject line for an email offers the same punch. Subject lines should be relevant, interesting and genuine.

Journalism students quickly learn how the inverted pyramid style of writing gives readers the most important information first. The rest of the paragraph or article supports the initial information or offers additional details. Your email marketing customers will respond to the same style of writing. They want the big news first because they’re often reading your email while they’re commuting or at work. If they want the details, they’ll read the email again just before they buy.

Keep your emails simple and minimal. Just as a crisp, pressed business suit sends a professional message, a clean, uncluttered email tells consumers that you are professional. If you can’t create a professional-looking email, look for professional-looking templates where you can fill in the blanks.

Be cognizant of your purpose. Each of your emails should have a clear goal such as educating your customer, asking for referrals or getting them to follow your company’s social media platforms.

Engage your email readers with content that is short and to the point. Wordiness and fluff have no place in email marketing campaigns. Reveal your purpose up front and talk about how your purpose relates to the customer to get a connection started. Choose large fonts in an easy-to-read style. Your readers may be people who constantly read while they’re on the go or they may have poor eyesight. You’ll want them to be able to read and scan the email quickly.

Move the wording in your email toward your call-to-action section quickly and make the action that you want them to take ultra-clear. Try to think about the ways emails in your inbox grab your attention and those that cause you to hit delete.

Create customized emails for cold leads from all sources.

The main sources from which I get our leads are our blogs, organic traffic, pay-per-click ads and salespeople. No matter where you source your leads, use several email chains that are customized according to what those leads are looking for. Next, categorize them and get them in the right automated email chain. This places them in your sales funnel to warm them up and get them ready for sales.

Generate leads from blogs.

Our prospects love our informative blog articles. Use your blog as an opportunity to send them related articles. This primes the prospect for a call to action asking them if they want you to call them.

Move warm email leads to hot leads and make the sale.

It’s important to give your warm leads as much attention as your cold leads. When our emails move from the cold list to the warm list, I have a specific email that I send to nurture the relationship and make it a little warmer. I also include a thoughtful testimonial to help gain credibility.

After sending the warm email, follow up with a second email asking if they’re still looking for your services. Include a sale offer or coupon to move the lead closer to a sale.

Test and analyze email marketing campaign results.

There’s still a lot of power in A/B split testing. Testing emails reduces bounce rates, tells you more about your customers, increases conversions and is cost effective.

In analyzing my email marketing campaigns, I look for open rates at 30% or higher to know if they were successful. I don’t expect as much from click-through rates, where I like to see around the 5% range.

When a new approach to marketing takes marketers by storm, some marketers make the mistake of moving into new strategies full force, leaving methods that have worked well in the past smoldering in the dust. The best marketing campaigns use several marketing forms simultaneously. The key to maximizing results with every effort is to know your purpose, target the right customers and learn from your results.

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12 Marketing Strategies That Work For Small Businesses In Chicago

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With the Windy City home to an estimated 2,695,598 residents, there are plenty of opportunities awaiting canny entrepreneurs. Tapping into this market can make a business a household name, as well as create a faithful group of advocates who not only take advantage of a business’s services but draw in people in their network.

One way to get a business growing is by integrating its marketing initiatives with local events, community organizations and other local businesses. This can translate into revenue dollars for the company, as well as create a solid sense of connection and community. This can also lead to Chicagoans focusing their attention and resources, on a local organization, instead of taking their business to a company that resides outside the area they know and love.

There are a lot of different ways to get involved. Below, 12 members of Forbes Chicago Business Council provide the one locally focused marketing initiative they’ve successfully employed in Chicago to promote business growth. Here is what they recommend:

Members share a few ways Chicago businesses can reach out to their local market.

1. Partner With Other Local Startups

As we are a multi-sided marketplace, we have marketing initiatives that focus on multiple groups with very different interests and needs. We have made a point to network and explore partnerships with other local startups — those that either operate in the same space and have a similar target customer base, or operate in a different space but have a similar target user base. – Ben Margolit,Rentgrata, Inc.

2. Use Transit Advertising

Good old-fashioned transit advertising (we placed ads in the CTA trains and in one station) brought in a surprising amount of traffic. And this is only from surveying a small sample of customers to ask us how they heard about our new store. Social and influencer marketing were also very effective and helped cover our bases. – Anne-Marie Kovacs,Augmented Retail Company

3. Be Active In The Local Tech Community

Staying active in the Chicago technology community (through organizations such as theIllinois Technology Association and Executives’ Club of Chicago) has allowed us to do great work for our clients and then get organic referrals to new businesses. – Aurimas Adomavicius, Devbridge Group

4. Tell Unique, Engaging Stories To Stand Out

We launched an alumni blog series showcasing the success our graduates have had since being hired into various sales roles. They highlight their unique backgrounds, trepidations around pursuing sales jobs, and how we helped in numerous ways to lead to their present-day success. It’s a very genuine way to tell our story to help stand out from the loads of content out there today. – Brian Bar, Victory Lap

5. Attend Events And Build Relationships

Although we are a technology business, we are also a relationship business. We attend a lot of events for small business owners to hear their pitches and learn about up-and-coming startups. As a result, we meet a lot of entrepreneurs and get a lot of referrals this way. – Bobby Goodman, Truss

6. Organize Industry Events Or Tours

We sponsored and spoke at the "Digital Summit" tour in various cities where we have offices: Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, etc. In each city, we found that these were an incredible two days of learning and networking with the best of the best in the digital/tech/marketing ecosystem. Through the Summit Series, we reached several decision-makers and started productive conversations. – Ross Freedman, Rightpoint

7. Tap Into Your City’s Inclination For Social Responsibility

Chicago may appear to be all about business-to-business and SaaS ventures with promising return on investment, but it also has a sweet spot for social responsibility. For example, in partnership with theChicago Leadership Alliance, uBack and Techweek, we created the campaign TechweekGives. We brought together 50-plus Chicago companies to raise over $1 million in 90 days. – Ronny Sage,ShoppingGives

8. Encourage Users To Become Advocates

We have encouraged our users to become advocates to other partner locations. We ask them to tweet to other coffee shops about our service, so the other coffee shop will consider it. – Jonathan Treble,PrintWithMe, Inc.

9. Leverage Larger Networks To Communicate Vision

Veterans want to start businesses. As a veteran-owned business who has achieved relative success, I leverage groups with larger networks to communicate my story and vision to a captive audience with a simple message: You don’t need to be the sharpest tool in the shed to pursue a dream, rather to have the self-discipline to overcome obstacles, time and time again. – Carson Goodale,FanFood, inc

10. Recruit Locally

We’ve run successful transit ads throughout the city to build awareness of our brand and technology. Chicago has incredible talent, so we’ve worked extensively with Built in Chicago to recruit and market our services. – Darren Guccione, Keeper Security

11. Collaborate On Finding Talent With Local Universities

At the end of the day, it’s our people that will ensure our success. Establishing a strong relationship with local universities like Northwestern and theUniversity of Chicago has allowed us to attract some of the best data scientists around. – Dan Wagner, Civis Analytics

12. Send Out Street Teams To Build Engagement

We sent out a street team to visit venues that have UPshow’s Social TV screens to generate excitement and engagement around the product. The street team would visit bars and restaurants to engage patrons in sharing on social media and being featured on UPshow’s Social TV screens. – Adam Hirsen, UPshow

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77% Of Marketing Execs See AI Adoption Growing This Year

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Just 6% of marketers are making use of advanced AI capabilities including personalizing campaigns with collaborative filtering and predictive models. Marketers with advanced data access including the option to personalize data are up to 2.8X more likely to succeed with collaborative filtering and predictive models.

These findings and more are from a study recently completed by Blueshift in collaboration with TechValidate titled Activating Customer Data for AI Powered Marketing (17 pp., PDF, opt-in). In February 2018 TechValidate and Blueshift conducted an online study involving 200 marketers from 198 companies in nine industries who are involved in business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing. A series of e-mail campaigns targeting respondents included a cash incentive to increase response rates. Additional details of the methodology and respondent demographics can be found on page 15 of the study.

Key takeaways from the study include the following:

43% of marketers are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) including machine learning for expanding their audiences today. Also just over a third (39%) are using AI & ML for audience targeting. 28% are using these technologies for product recommendations. Just 26% are using AI & ML for campaign optimization. One of the fascinating areas of innovation occurring in marketing technology (martech) today is the real-time optimizing of campaigns to attract new prospects, cross-sell and up-sell new prospects, and increase lifetime customer value. 64% of all marketers are planning to increase their use of AI in marketing campaigns over the next 12 months.
Just 6% of marketers are making use of advanced AI capabilities including personalizing campaigns with collaborative filtering and predictive models. There’s significant upside potential for marketers to get more value out of the advanced AI & ML capabilities their apps and platforms provide. 16% of marketers are segmenting customers using predictive affinities analysis based on AI and ML. Enterprises’ adoption of advanced AI capabilities is being constrained by the continual marketing technologist talent shortage, need for more real-time integration and access to data, and more effective approaches to standardizing and streamlining data analysis in their firms.
Marketers with advanced data access including the option to personalize data are up to 2.8X more likely to succeed with collaborative filtering and predictive models. Marketers with advanced data access are 2.4X more likely to use predictive affinities for segmentation. Advanced access is defined in the study as having full access including the ability to drive advanced personalization and alerts or triggers without IT or Data Scientist help.
Marketers who have direct access to customer data across their enterprises are 1.6X more productive than their more data-constrained counterparts. 35% of marketers are using 50% or more of the available data in their enterprises for campaigns. Access is often manual, IT-controlled and limited by the available time of system analysts and IT teams to get to their requests. Enabling marketers to have advanced access sets the foundation for more campaigns to be created and revenue results achieved.
54% of marketers say that completing more in-depth analysis of customer data hold them back from getting the full potential from their AI and ML apps and platforms. Recruiting marketing technologists, providing more internal training on AI & ML apps and platforms, and standardizing reporting including self-service apps will help enterprises overcome their top challenge of getting more analytics value. Gaining access to data (46%) with more effective integration, being able to segment the data more quickly (43%) and unifying (41%) or creating a system of record are additional challenges. Due to these challenges, 46% of marketers are fortunate enough to be using 50% or more of customer data, delivering greater contributions to revenue as a result.
Marketers who have real-time access to data and regularly use it for segmenting customers are 1.7X more likely to exceed revenue goals. When marketers have 75% or less of the available customer data in an enterprise, 50% of them on average will attain their revenue goals. Providing real-time integration for increasing the percentage of customer data available over 75% leads to a 1.4X increase in marketers attaining revenue goals. When marketers have the majority of customer available in real-time and use it to complete segment analysis and optimization strategies, there’s a 1.7X increase in the percent who attain their revenue goals.
77% of marketing execs see AI adoption growing this year. Individual contributors in enterprises also see AI adoption accelerating next year, with 6 in 10 anticipating increased use in the next 12 months. The majority of marketing executives (57%) believe their departments and enterprises are using more marketing data than individual contributors say they are (39%). This 18% gap in perceptions is a very positive sign as marketing executives will most likely want to close this gap and make sure their departments and companies are using the majority of customer data real-time to drive more revenue.

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Growth Stories: Marketing Agency to Data Business

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From marketing agency to software product business to data business – it is a transition that can create huge amounts of value today. I talk to Ben Harris, CEO of Decibel, about how he did it. There’s an odd side to the story. These transitions always provoke some resistance, but in this case the resistance came from an unusual direction – his management colleagues. How do you reorient a business while " being ridiculed" by your colleagues for wanting to do it?

Alastair Dryburgh: To start off, Ben, tell me a little bit about Decibel and what it does.

Ben Harris

Ben Harris: Decibel is a marketing technology. It’s designed to help businesses improve the experience they provide their customers on their websites or their apps. We track everything that someone sees in the screen as they see it at that moment. We collect all of their interactions, how they move their mouse and how they scroll, into one single database. And from that, we then harvest a new set of metrics not seen before that help people to understand what happens between the clicks and touches on devices.

Dryburgh: So if I were looking at a website and I moved my mouse over and hovered around a particular button and then went away from it, and then went back to it and then went away from it and clicked off to another site altogether, you’d be able to register that.

Harris: We start to learn that behavior, yes. In the past, people have relied on traditional analytics, which tend to track clicks. Our technology tracks what happens between clicks and through machine learning reveals how visitors behaved, why they behaved that way, how they feel about those interactions and automatically flags if someone had a bad experience. Traditional analytics looks at things like bounce rates, i.e., visit the site and leave again, or number of clicks. We’re looking at things like that, but also the distance someone moves a mouse and the velocity of that mouse, the number of directional changes, the angle of those changes, the amount of page they expose, and the speed in which they expose it. And those types of metrics give us a new picture of what’s really going on. We can decipher the user’s state of mind. We can assess whether they’re really engaged – even down to reading behavior. We can also show if they’re confused and they moment they get frustrated. And so we’re starting to gain an understanding of both why people interact in the way they do but also how they feel about those interactions, which can enable companies to create a much better, more meaningful communication.

Dryburgh: And where did the idea originate from?

Harris: Well, I started a digital agency 16 years ago. We were trying to help clients to do a better job of keeping customers on a site, helping to convert them, and also encourage them to come back again. We were using Google Analytics and we found that actually even though there was lots of interesting data, it didn’t reveal what was really happening to customers. We felt there was a better way of doing it, so we decided to build some heat maps as a starting point. And having done that, the reaction that we got from clients was so strong that we decided to develop the concept further and have launched a Digital Experience Intelligence platform. The first ever. We’re also releasing a new scoring mechanism to help businesses understand what’s going on not just by seeing but actually by having a number to understand to what degree people’s overall digital experience is improving or degrading.

Dryburgh: Technically, how easy or difficult was it to do?

Harris: Well, there’s a number of things. One, is building technology. The second is creating a new company while one exists already. And the third was encouraging a change in direction for the company. And that was challenging, very challenging.

Dryburgh: Tell me a bit more about this, achieving the change in direction of the company.

Harris: We had to start by re-educating everyone on what this sector was. We actually were already doing most of the right things given our experience in and exposure to analytics. We just hadn’t really encapsulated it in those terms. And when people started to understand that, we said, "Well, 80% we’re doing. Now we need to learn that extra 20%." So it became important that everyone in the business was trained and understood the space, which we invested in doing. That raised awareness, and people started reading more. And then we bought an entire library of books and encouraged people to start taking them away and having a look at them. Some of them didn’t get returned.

Dryburgh: Am I right in thinking that you probably had a majority of people in the company who had come from a design, marketing or advertising background rather than technology?

Harris: Exactly. We were building technology already for our clients and we patched this onto it and then we launched the whole thing as a separate business and then we broke a little bit off. So there was a series of stages to get there, but definitely my biggest challenge was encouraging the management team, who were very embedded in the digital agency scene, to change direction and become more of a software company.

Dryburgh: I always tend to think in these sorts of cases, you’ve got three groups of people. You’ve got the group of people who immediately get it and get really enthusiastic and fired up. And then you’ve got the people who just really don’t like the idea because it’s not what they joined the company to do. And then you’ve got a group of people in the middle who are open to persuasion if you can make a case. So roughly, what sort of proportions did you have among those three groups: the enthusiasts, the resistors, and the middle?

Harris: We did already have a technology team building this stuff. They were interested because this was a slightly different way of working. We were building our own product and that was very compelling to them. So that wasn’t that difficult, and bit by bit, they spent more time on the actual product itself. As for the design team, I think they could open their mind to doing some of it. But then the account managers were busy doing what they were doing and weren’t necessarily that engaged with it.

But my biggest issue was with the management team, just showing them that there was a better opportunity for us by having recurring revenue rather than still working with clients on a project by project basis. They ended up throwing me out of the building, because I was spending more and more time on the new business. We moved our technology team into a separate building nearby and then they said I had to go and join them.

Dryburgh: This is quite interesting because the story you very often hear is the management team who get the new idea and then try to pull the rest of the company along behind. In this case, it was almost the opposite.

Harris: They fought me on it every step of the way. They told me I shouldn’t be doing it.

Dryburgh: And you were chief executive at the time presumably?

Harris: Yes, and by the way, after I left they said, "You‘re never here!"

Dryburgh: Carry on with the story. What happens next?

Harris: Well, having the agency business while we started a software business enabled us to bootstrap it effectively. We didn’t need any outside investment. We got the business into a place where we could go to market. We already had agency clients but we wanted to go bigger. So we started the brand for the technology in its own right—Decibel Insight. And we started winning some customers and learning about the business. And we got to a stage where we started to grow at a good pace. And we were starting to plan a bit more, be a bit more organised about what we were trying to achieve. And last year, we raised a $9 million Series A investment, our first institutional money, which was a big deal to me.

Ultimately, I had the realization that we were growing quickly and the numbers were quite big, so to sustain ourselves as we grow we needed to protect cashflow. I took some advice from a successful company that got bought by one of the large tech companies in the same sector as us. The ex-CEO had a look at my numbers and said, "Look, I think you can get through, but nothing’s guaranteed. You’re not sure. It will take a while to raise money. So if I were you, I’d get going." And after I heard that, it made me more confident that I should start the process.

And then once you’re in the process, it starts revealing just how useful it can be and what it can mean for the business if you bring on investors. It becomes a different business. You don’t start a business thinking I’m going to exit in 5 minutes. You think about building the business the way I did, slogging away for 15 years. When you start to raise money, the conversation right at the beginning is exit, which is a very different type of way of working. So if this is where you want to get to, we have to work back from that and work out our strategy for it. And through this process, it enabled me to start being more strategic about how we would get to that end point.

Dryburgh: Talk about a couple of specific things you did then to become more strategic?

Harris: Originally we were selling to mid-level VPs in analytics and optimization. And it was very clear from the investors that we needed to have a more strategic proposition that we could sell to a more senior level. We realised that whilst we had built the platform around a series of features, what was really interesting was actually the underlying data. We have data that no one else has. And we knew we had more modern technology. That gave us a unique proposition and with it the potential to create multiple products, but it also gave us the potential to create a product for senior level executives, which is where our DXS score is all about. It’s about giving senior level people a number they didn’t have before that they can use to assess their organisation and then a series of things that cascades down the organisation. It gives us a much stickier proposition.

Dryburgh: So you’re getting right into the backbone of the organisation and its reporting lines.

Harris: I think people often try to sell to a senior level stakeholder for them to then apply to their teams. We’re saying here’s something that can apply to your teams but also can apply to you. And you can use this as part of your overall dashboard.

Dryburgh: At what point did you separate the technology company from the digital agency?

Harris: Well, we thought about transitioning the digital agency to become the professional services arm of the technology business, doing some consultancy around using our product. But it was clear they were on their own route and it didn’t make sense to re-orient them around a different role. And then a lucky opportunity came up. Someone was interested in recruiting the director of the agency business. I happened to know the interested company so we had a conversation and he offered to buy the business. This allowed Decibel to focus on the one proposition, which is what we really wanted to do.

Dryburgh: This is a completely hypothetical question but it’s an interesting one. If you could go back to the early stages, would you have tried to separate out the agency business earlier or would you even have tried building the technology separately from the very beginning?

Harris: I don’t think having the agency held us back. I think it was an advantage. First of all, the skills and grounding that it had given us as a company because most companies are shy of user experience and understanding the importance of usability. And we had our own agency who were highly skilled and could design our interface from the beginning. For me personally, it was obviously challenging because all the time I was still being questioned for focusing on the technology side of the business. But ultimately, it worked out. I loved the agency business, but that said, it was the right move At a pivotal time for the business and I wouldn’t have done it any earlier.

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How To Infuse Design Thinking Into Your Marketing And Storytelling

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"Design thinking is one of the many tools you can use to solve difficult, complicated problems." – Purin Phanichphant

From the iPhone to everyday furniture, design thinking has enabled some of the world’s beloved brands like Apple and Ikea to design intentional and human-centric products. Often used in product and experience development, more marketers and startups are now incorporating design thinking in the way they approach marketing and branding initiatives. Design thinking encourages marketers to be more empathetic in their approach in communicating with customers. In other words, putting themselves in customer shoes to understand their needs, desires, and potentially problems. Rather than selling features, we should be emphatic and tell stories.

Today, I am joined by Purin Phanichphant to break down the why and what behind design thinking. And more importantly, how marketers can apply design thinking in their work to tell more authentic stories. Purin is currently a lecturer at the UC Berkeley’s Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation where he teaches Visual Communication Design. Prior to teaching at UC Berkeley, he also taught storytelling and design thinking at Stanford’s d.school and Graduate School of Business. Purin was a principal designer at the leading design firm IDEO, along with tech companies like Pulse News (acquired by LinkedIn) and Microsoft.

Why And What Behind Design Thinking

Tai Tran: At its core, what is design thinking?

Purin Phanichphant: Design thinking is one of the many tools you can use to solve difficult, complicated problems. It is less of a linear process, but more of a mindset. Being conscious and mindful of what methods you can use to help get you unstuck and move along is more important than religiously following the prescribed process.

Instead of starting from technological innovations, say, “we’ve just built a faster computer chip, let’s make a product out of it!” or business-driven decisions like “we can make lots of money from selling X” or “we’ve figured out an innovative business model to sell Y,” design thinking start from getting to the hearts and minds of potential users, uncovering latent needs and using those to spawn off product and/or service ideas.

TT: Why should marketers care about design thinking?

PP: Marketing is less about money and more about connecting to humans on the receiving end. Successful marketing campaigns touch the hearts and souls of the audience. Instead of purely going by quantitative market research numbers, imagine if you get qualitative data from design research that lets you empathize with potential customers. Imagine if you can understand not only how much they would pay for something, but why they buy something.

Another big component of design thinking is storytelling. Being able to craft your message around human needs on top of product features allows you to connect to your audiences at a more personal level. Ads that make the audience laugh or cry are much more powerful compared to ones that only talk about product features and cost savings.

How Marketers Can Apply Design Thinking To Their Work

TT: How can marketers, especially CMOs, apply design thinking to their work?

PP: Here are a few strategies you can employ in your work. Again, these are more like mindsets to be in, rather than prescriptive steps to follow:

Human First:Think of your customers beyond just numbers. Be curious about their feelings, hopes, fears, and the unique stories they have to share with you. Once you get to know and empathize with them, you may think of your product and how you market it in a completely different light. Combine qualitative design research with quantitative market research, and your intuition for marketing decisions will be much better informed. Flare-Before-Focus: In design thinking, we use divergent thinking, or “flaring,” methods to discover opportunities and explore ideas. This includes gathering a wide range of user stories to better understand the opportunity space, as well as going for quantity and deferring judgement when brainstorming. Once you have a myriad of themes or concepts in front of you, use convergent thinking or “focusing,” methods to narrow down choices and make informed decisions. Knowing when to flare and focus will certainly get your creative juices flowing while getting the project done within time and resource constraints. Make-To-Think: Imagine investing in a big campaign push, only to discover that it didn’t resonate with your customers after having spent so much time and resources on it. In product design, we have a similar problem, where the cost of failure significantly increases further along the process. One of the ways to lower these risks is by constantly testing our hypotheses, by making our concepts tangible and testable with users from the early stages until the very end. Knowing how to give and receive feedback, using “I like…” and “I wish…” statements together, leads to a culture of openness and constant improvement.

How Coca-Cola and Volkswagen Incorporated Design Thinking Into Their Storytelling

TT: Can you name a few brands that have successfully incorporated design thinking into their creative and marketing efforts?

PP: One campaign that sticks out in my mind is Coca-Cola’s Happiness Machine video. There’s something very human and authentic about it. The Coke machine is something very familiar to most people, and to use it in a candid, unexpected, yet scrappy way is quite ingenious. The candid camera angles capture the joy and happiness of those in the video, which in turn, connect to my emotions as an audience watching the video.

Another campaign that resonates with me is Volkswagen’s Fun Theory, specifically their Piano Stairs one. Again, it feels very human and candid. But I particularly like the question they pose in the beginning: “Can we get more people to choose the stairs by making it fun to do?” The piano staircase is a very tangible prototype, and throughout the video, you can see how the passers-by prefer it over the escalator. And while the campaign itself has little to do with VW’s cars, the “Fun Theory” does give the brand a boost for human-ness and wit.

Additional Resources

TT: For readers who are interested in learning more about design thinking, what are some resources you would recommend them checking out?

PP: Having had teaching experiences at the Stanford Design Program, the d.school, and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, as well as my former role as a principal product designer at IDEO, I find the resources below particularly relevant and comprehensive. I still refer to them to this day for my own practice and for teaching my students at UC Berkeley:

Like what you read? Tweet to Purin (@purincess) and Tai (@taictran). Share your thoughts on LinkedIn by tagging Tai with #designthinking.

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Compare 15 marketing automation platforms

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Marketing organizations of all sizes are being inundated by data from multiple digital marketing channels and an increasing number of consumer devices. Faced with challenging market dynamics and increasing ROI pressure, more B2B marketers are using marketing automation platforms to manage complex multitouch buyer ecosystems.

The latest edition of MarTech Today’s “B2B Marketing Automation Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide” examines the market for B2B marketing automation software platforms and the considerations involved in implementing this software in your business.

This 48-page report is your source for the latest trends, opportunities and challenges facing the market for B2B marketing automation software tools as seen by industry leaders, vendors and their customers. Included are profiles of 15 leading B2B marketing automation vendors, capabilities comparisons and recommended steps for evaluating and purchasing.

If you are a marketer looking to adopt a marketing automation software platform, this report will help you through the decision-making process. Visit Digital Marketing Depot to download your copy.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

That’s why they flock to SMX Advanced. This is your only opportunity to unlock advanced SEO and SEM tactics to help elevate your campaigns and achieve expert-level success. A 5-star speaker lineup, thought-provoking topics, powerful networking, and enviable amenities make SMX Advanced a hot commodity in 2018. Don’t miss out on this always sold-out event. Register today!

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SMB marketing survey finds only 3% use outside agency or vendor

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BrandMuscle recently released a “State of Local Marketing” report for 2018. The sprawling document captures marketing and ad-spending trends among US small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that participate in co-op or MDF funding programs where brands help subsidize local marketing by their dealers, retailers and affiliates.

The report offers a snapshot of tactics and attitudes among US small business marketers as a whole. It segments SMBs into three categories by number of locations, headcount and revenues:

Less than $500K in revenues, 0 to 4 employees and a single location (58 percent of survey respondents). Less than $5MM in revenues, 5 to 20 employees and 2 to 5 locations (26 percent of respondents). More than $5MM in revenues, 21+ employees, more than 6 locations (16 percent of respondents).

The report finds that the vast majority of these small businesses are doing their own marketing in-house. In the majority (64 percent) of cases, the business owner is doing all the marketing himself or herself (which generally means poor execution). Only 3 percent of these survey respondents were using an outside agency or vendor; only 7 percent had a dedicated marketing person on staff.

In 2017, these SMB marketers adopted a range of new tactics. The largest group tried three to six new marketing tactics. However, the top three tactics used by all the groups above were websites, Facebook and either email or direct mail. For the smallest SMBs, direct mail substituted for email marketing in the top three tactics.

[Read the full article on Marketing Land.]

That’s why they flock to SMX Advanced. This is your only opportunity to unlock advanced SEO and SEM tactics to help elevate your campaigns and achieve expert-level success. A 5-star speaker lineup, thought-provoking topics, powerful networking, and enviable amenities make SMX Advanced a hot commodity in 2018. Don’t miss out on this always sold-out event. Register today!

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How Do You Use Social Media for Marketing?

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I started to work for this guy about seven years ago, when I got out of college. At the time he was married and I never saw him outside of the office, but about three years ago his wife left him and in fact she had to pay the guy a great deal of alimony and split up a lot of property with him. She had just inherited a huge sum of money from her grandfather. In hindsight she should have got a pre nuptial agreement. At any rate right now I am looking to buy instagram followers, or more specifically trying to figure out how to market the thing that he is working on. Continue reading “How Do You Use Social Media for Marketing?”

7 marketing and promotion tactics to get your content discovered

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It’s no secret a well-executed content marketing campaign can deliver a solid return on investment.

According to Demand Metric, content marketing generates three times more leads than most outbound marketing strategies at 62 percent less cost.

As marketers pad their budgets with more money to invest in content marketing this year, one strategy that often gets overlooked is content promotion.

According to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute, 55 percent of B2B marketers were not even sure what a successful content marketing campaign looked like!

Content without promotion is like link building without links or creating a landing page without a call to action. That’s why promotion should take equal focus with creation.

Let’s look at seven tried-and-true content promotion strategies that will drive traffic to your content and website.

1. Paid social promotion

Paid social promotion can be one of the most precise strategies available to market your content to people who are interested in and most likely to engage with your content.

For example, by using Facebook’s Audience Insights, businesses can segment audience lists by select boundaries, such as demographics, psychographics and intent. This allows marketers to create audience segments that are more in line with their brand and specific topics of content on their website. There are several benefits of paid social promotion:

Increase website traffic with relevant visitors. Generate more conversions by marketing to people with high purchasing intent. Familiarize users with your brand.

Even advertising content over native or display ads can help to increase brand recall for customers who come across your website in future searches. Only now, they’ll think of your brand as a bit of an authority because they’re already familiar with your brand.

Paying to promote your content over advertising channels is a good way to cut through the noise and the competition.

Paid promotion is also an excellent strategy to target users who have interacted with your website or blog in the past month. Remarketing not only increases your chance of reclaiming a missed conversion, but it also helps to foster brand loyalty by providing them useful content based on their past consumption.

Before undergoing a paid promotion strategy, it’s key to have your goals outlined. These can include increasing readership for your content or generating more conversions on your website. With these in mind, you can quantify the impact of these strategies and assess their success.

2. Targeted sharing

Facebook is no longer the business to consumer (B2C) marketing giant it once was; after its last algorithm update, it limited organic reach for business posts on the platform.

One way to reach more people over social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram is through targeted sharing.

Targeted sharing is essentially tagging someone in a post in hopes that they will share your content with their audience. Here are some ways to do that:

Link to people in the snippet who would be interested in your article. Link to sources featured in the article directly in the snippet. Directly engage industry peers with a question or point of debate in the snippet to curate conversation over a topic.

Twitter’s advanced search tool allows you to find people in your niche who are close to you geographically, using certain hashtags and more:

Instagram recently introduced a “follow” hashtag that allows users to view content in their newsfeed using a certain hashtag. This has opened up an entirely new platform for businesses to reach more customers over Instagram who are already interested in your industry.

3. Use videos over social media

Another proven method to cut through the noise on social media channels is to include videos in your content.

The statistics around video marketing are truly staggering:

Google states that half of internet users “search for a video related to a product or service before visiting a store.” Views on sponsored videos on Facebook increased 258 percent between June 2016 and June 2017.

From my experience, including a video on a landing page can significantly increase your conversion rate. In my opinion, the demand for video content over social media far outpaces the demand for written content.

Video can also be more engaging than written content. A compounding or viral video is the definition of a gift that keeps on giving.

Of course, there’s always a caveat. Hosting a long, informative video on your content can discourage click-throughs to your landing page, especially if it’s used to promote written content. I suggest posting a teaser video, an eye-catching image or a graphics interchange format (GIF) in your content to entice users to navigate to the landing page.

4. Influencer marketing

I believe influencer marketing is one of the most underutilized tools in our industry.

Influencer marketing is powerful in theory. Not only will influencer shares expose your content to a new audience, it confers credibility in the eyes of that audience.

According to a study from MuseFind, 92 percent of people trust influencers more than advertisements or celebrities.

There are many ways to approach this strategy: You can reach out to influencers directly in your industry to share your content or engage in a promotion partnership.

Consider using tools like Followerwonk and Intellifluence to find active influencers in your industry to reach out to.

You can also mention an influencer within your content or link to them in a social media snippet to attract their attention. This increases the likelihood that they will share your content to promote their own brand. In turn, this increases your content’s quantity of shares and link opportunities.

5. Content syndication

Content syndication is not new to search engine optimization (SEO), but it’s not often the focus of many content marketing strategies. Content syndication is a great strategy to instantly expand your audience reach with little effort.

Do your research before identifying a site for syndication. Ask about their analytics to see what their visitor traffic is like and monitor keywords to identify the topics of discussion being held.

If you decide to syndicate content on sites like LinkedIn, Medium or community forums, it’s best to be picky. Only share your best content.

If you do participate in a content community, understand that half of your responsibility is also sharing other people’s content to remain an active member. This will help establish relationships across your industry for potential link opportunities and shares.

6. Link building

Link building remains one of Google’s three most important ranking factors when determining organic rank. It is a good idea to increase your content’s reach and visibility by improving its organic backlink signals.

It’s important to remember that link building needs to be strategic when promoting a specific webpage. I wouldn’t put a lot of effort into building links to a topical blog post, evergreen content or webpages that serve a valuable function in your website’s information and sales funnel.

Here are just a few basic link-building strategies to promote content to a wider audience:

Guest post on authoritative publications with a contextual link back to your content. Engage in broken link building using manual outreach to offer more value to existing content. Email industry thought leaders about a piece of your content that would be valuable to their future research.

Ironically, the best link-building strategy out there is to craft high-quality content that people organically link back to on their own. Of course, this requires promotion for people to find this content in the first place, but hopefully, you’ll get some ideas from this post to help with that.

7. Personalized email marketing

Email marketing is a great way to market to customers who are already interested in your brand. Email marketing has the benefit of increasing customer retention while also delivering shares and links right to your content.

Not everyone on your email marketing list will jump at the chance to read your next blog post. Here are some basic strategies to increase email engagement:

Design an e-newsletter to promote recent posts to your blog or showcase your most viral content for the month. Segment subscriber lists based on their interaction with your site. Personalize emails to include the name of the recipient, as well as pertinent information related to their engagement on your site. Include interactive content, such as a fun GIF or video, to make emails stand out and warm up subscribers to future emails. Conduct split testing on headlines and messages and measure their impact.
Final thoughts

Content marketing has taken on a life of its own as a buzzword in our industry. With reduced organic reach over both search and many social channels, it’s never been more important to focus on promotion strategies that cut through the noise and get content discovered.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Attend the largest search marketing conference on the West Coast: SMX West! You’ll get useful, proven tactics in SEO, SEM, conversion optimization, social media, mobile and more. Register now!

About The Author

Kristopher Jones is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and best-selling author of "SEO Visual Blueprint" by Wiley (2008, 2010, 2013). Kris was the founder and former CEO of digital marketing and affiliate agency Pepperjam (sold to eBay) and has since founded multiple successful businesses, including ReferLocal.com, APPEK Mobile Apps, French Girls App, and LSEO.com, where he serves as CEO. Most recently, Kris appeared on Apple’s first TV Show, "Planet of the Apps," where he and his business partner, comedian / actor Damon Wayans, Jr., secured $1.5 million for an on-demand LIVE entertainment booking app called Special Guest.

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Generational Context Is Key When Marketing For Places

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Whether you’re marketing liquor, toothpaste or a vacation destination, the strategies and tactics employed to persuade are undoubtedly different. Specific messaging is used in each case to influence intended targets, whether that’s a 40-year-old male who has an affinity for scotch, a young mother of three looking for a toothpaste her kids won’t refuse or a retired couple who have expendable income and are seeking a tropical refuge for a few weeks out of the year.

The ways in which any firm or agency goes about marketing to these groups looks, feels and sounds different. And it’s nearly the same recipe when talking about places. How we market communities and destinations depend on our target audiences or those defined groups of people we’re trying to convince, sway or effect.

Most people know it’s a marketing death sentence to use the same marketing methodologies across all targets. Think about it: Do you consume marketing and advertising the same way your mom does? Your boss? Your kids? The grocery store checkout attendant? The Blue Apron delivery driver? Even though you may interact with all of these people on a daily basis, their habits, likes, dislikes and behaviors are vastly different. The way marketers speak to and connect with people has to be customized, tailored and authentic.

Generational Context For Place Marketing

When we promote places, our No. 1 priority is defining the “why.” Why would I visit, relocate my company or purchase this product? Leadership expert Simon Sinek calls this The Golden Circle. Sinek believes that humans, at our core, are most motivated by knowing why we do things. If we understand our why, then we can increase our overall impact.

And while this is undoubtedly the most important question to ask, we can’t uncover all of the why without (almost) simultaneously defining the "who." Who are we trying to reach? Who are we trying to target? Who are we trying to influence? When issuing any kind of communication, generational context is crucial — it further defines the who.

Kim Lear of Inlay Insights, a group dedicated to identifying emerging cultural trends that impact the way we work, buy and live, says honoring generational uniqueness is key. Lear told me, “Each generation typically has hot buttons that can prevent a message from getting through. For example, highly aspirational messaging usually turns off Gen Xers. They tend to be more receptive to objective communication. Understanding these generational hot buttons can give the communicator a competitive edge in the marketplace.”

Practice Makes Perfect

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Customer Service Is The New Marketing

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Customer service is the new marketing. This statement may sound suspect coming from me, a customer service consultant: an example of “when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” thinking on my part, or even the drunk-looking-for-his-keys-under-the-lamppost-because-that’s-where-there’s-light phenomenon.

But if you consider consumer behavior and thought patterns today, you’ll realize that it’s incontrovertibly true. People have lost their faith in gimmicky and overstated mass marketing campaigns and place more stock today in what they experience directly with your company, what their friends have experience, and what the people they listen to online have experienced.

Which means that:

Every return you handle seamlessly and thoughtfully is marketing.

Every repair you make for a product that proves defective, even after the warranty has expired, is marketing.

Every time you provide a “wow” customer service experience, adding emotional transportation to the experience of your customer, it’s marketing. (There’s more from me on wow customer service here and here, plus some wow-inspiring examples here and here.)

When you assist a customer’s family members, even though they’re not directly your customers (like my travel agent did recently for my aging dad), that’s marketing.


A well-designed customer experience is also marketing:

• A warm and inviting entrance experience.

• A seamless exit experience, and a payment experience that doesn’t slow customers down.

• FAQ’s that are actually helpful.

• Self-service that actually works.

So, it’s time to ask yourself: How’s your marketing, your newly-defined marketing, going so far?

If the answer is "not so well," or "We’re not really sure," it’s time to get to work, to look at the customer service and customer experience you provide, whether in person or digitally, at every step of the customer’s journey,and revamp it, as need be, until you can answer confidently in the affirmative. You’ll be amazed what a difference this makes to your bottom-line position now, and its sustainability, looking forward.

Micah Solomon is an author, consultant, keynote speaker, trainer. Customer service, customer experience, customer service culture, hospitality, leadership, innovation (email, web).

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Everything a CMO needs to know about video marketing in 2018

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When’s the last time you were choked up by an AdWords sentence? In 2018, text is easy to skim right over, thanks to the many platforms that bombard us every day with the written word.

Video marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools online right now, and it gets more popular every day. To boost your online campaign with the most effective ROI you can get with a marketing tool, video cannot be ignored.

What does video marketing consist of in 2018?

While basic video marketing is still a strong campaign tool, there are some recent developments in the world of video content that you can employ to boost your efforts. For 2018, there are three things to focus on including in your video content strategy:

Live video: Thanks to livestreaming services being added to most of the big social media platforms, like Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope, live video has become more and more common. Statistics have shown that consumers spend three times longer watching live videos than pre-recorded videos, which gives you a huge opportunity to share your message. Virtual reality video: This is one of the newest trends in video marketing, but it has the potential to lead the way in the coming year. Facebook has recently unveiled a new VR headset that’s expected to ship this year, and digital marketing gurus are predicting it will change the landscape. Get in on the ground floor with this fast-growing video trend. 360 videos: The use of omnidirectional cameras got its start in 2014, but only recently have marketers begun to grasp the potential here. Still, case studies conducted by magnifyre and Google suggest that people engage more with 360-degree video as compared to standard video, so keep an eye on this trend to explode this year. It allows you to give your viewers a sense of immersive space, and the tech to create these videos gets cheaper by the day. Video funnels: In the same way that email campaigns can nurture someone once they have opted in, you can use video funnels to drive audiences over time from awareness to consideration phases using several videos. Facebook and other platforms let you create custom audiences based on their behaviors, which allows you to retarget based on behaviors.

The year of 2018 is also set to be the year that even more small players in the online business world will be getting into video and dominating the scene. We’ve already seen examples of this with brands like Dollar Shave Club, which invested in a video campaign and, according to a New York Times interview with the founder, received 12,000 new orders in the first 48 hours of the video’s launch. That one campaign turned this little-known subscription service into an internet darling with a big following almost overnight.

Though Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin told The New York Times he only spent $4,500 on the video, the fact that Dubin was both actor and producer (with the help of friends) made it possible for him to keep the budget down. I’d estimate that the video would have cost closer to $32,000 if you had properly paid everyone involved in making it, as you should. But even at that price, it would have returned an amazing ROI.

Video marketing stats: Why you should care about video

Still not convinced that a video campaign could be just what you need to jumpstart your marketing efforts? Take a look at some of the statistics gathered by Wyzowl in a December 2017 survey of 570 marketing professionals and consumers:

81 percent of businesses use video as a marketing tool (up from 63 percent in 2017). 85 percent of businesses regard video as an important part of their marketing strategy (up from 82 percent in 2017). 95 percent of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service. 81 percent of people have been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video. Where both video and text are available on the same page, 72 percent of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service.

With such booming statistics showing clear success for video — particularly for video’s ability to convert viewers into customers — it’s not hard to see why this is a must for your marketing.

What video can do for your business and how to get started

The reason that video is so powerful is twofold. First, it allows you to tell a story very quickly, and in a way that consumers have been trained to enjoy through a culture of movie- and TV-watching.

Second, it gives you the ability to connect to the viewer’s emotions, which helps users connect with your brand in a meaningful way. You can create videos with very specific intent, targeting specific audiences and getting specific reactions, in mere seconds.




How to develop your video marketing strategy
1. Understand the user: Personas and consumer journey

To capitalize on video’s ability to connect with the consumer, you have to ensure that you are crafting the right message for your target audience. This is why it’s very important to spend time gathering consumer insights before launching your video. Unlike text, which can be easily edited if it’s not drawing attention, video must be remade and relaunched to adjust the message — so it’s best to get it right the first time.

Evoking emotion from your target audience should always be your goal, but be aware of what emotion you want to evoke. For most businesses, awe and admiration will be important for building your brand reputation. But if your customers are blindly loyal to a challenger brand, you might need to use humorous logic or even intense FOMO (fear of missing out) emotions to stir them out of their comfort zone and get them to listen up.

I have used all types of emotions in my work, and they all work on the right audience. It just depends on getting the right audience.

2. Create goals and KPIs for your campaign

The next thing you need to do to use a video marketing strategy wisely is to create a measurable KPI for your campaign. You can’t reach your goals if you don’t know what they are. As with other marketing strategies, it’s important to do some A/B testing to learn what works best for your audience.

3. Understand what type of video is correct for your goals and the platform

There are multiple ways to present your videos to your audience, such as:

YouTube. Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and other social media. E-publications. TV and other traditional media.

You’ll need to research each to learn where your audience is, and which platform best suits your message. Social media platforms that are more fluid, such as Twitter and Facebook, make it easier to share content, but that content is often very short-lived. That means that these platforms are often better for short-form and live video, or for content that you’ll pay to promote.

Longer videos might be better suited to YouTube or traditional media platforms. YouTube is an excellent platform if you intend to create a series of related videos because you can easily create a playlist and encourage subscriptions for your viewers to follow along. With YouTube, the active browsing feature allows you to use SEO to attract audiences, so you have other options beyond paying to promote your content.

4. Create video that’s effective and cost-effective

There are many things to keep in mind when creating a video. Be sure to keep your branding in mind — just as your website and social media profiles are branded for immediate recognition, so should your videos immediately signal to viewers who you are. Consider what story you are telling about your brand with your video. Be sure to show, instead of tell, your viewers, what your message is all about. That is the power of video, after all.

You can create videos in-house or have a video marketing agency create them for you. In-house video allows you better control over video and makes it easier to feature personal touches, such as messages from actual employees. But it can also cost you more in time, lost work productivity and money as you learn the best video creation techniques. An agency gives you a professional-looking video right away from experienced creators. Keep in mind that whichever option you choose, you’ll have to make sure that the technical team and the creative team communicate clearly and frequently.

Not sure if you should go in-house or outsource? Phil Nottingham of Wistia makes it incredibly clear in this image below. If it’s a low-budget, low-risk effort, stay in-house. If you’re ready to take it seriously, hire an expert:

Video case study with Plated

When you’re going for that professional level and a video marketing strategy comes together, what does it look like? This case study with Plated gives you a great example of what you may be able to expect from a video marketing campaign:





Create intent with video

In the first video at the beginning of this article, I discuss how the call to action in a video is a powerful motivator for viewers. The statistics show that audiences are much more likely to take action after watching a video, rather than after reading text.

By creating the right intent with your video — inspiring the audience to buy a product, invest in a service, explore your website or take any other action — you’re taking advantage of the driving force of video marketing. You can create intent with the storytelling techniques in the video, the music, the visuals, the structure and more.

Put video to work for you in 2018

Remember that video doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, some of the most popular video campaigns in the world are extremely simple — and their power rests in their simplicity. It’s more important to target your audience is a smart way than to create a complex video.

Keep in mind that more and more companies are turning to video for their messages, which only works to train your audience to respond to video even more. Even small companies have embraced the power of video marketing for the future, and they are using trends like live video and virtual reality to boost their reach. This year, embrace video in your marketing strategies, and don’t be left behind.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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How To Incorporate Charity And Volunteer Work Into Your Marketing Strategy

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Millennials, who comprise the largest living generation in the U.S., care about causes. They are more likely than members of other generations to do business with companies associated with a cause and they like to work for companies that give back. They also account for more than one in three workers in this country and will make up nearly 50% of the workforce in a few years.

"Millennials are more receptive to cause marketing than previous generations and are more likely to buy items associated with a cause," wrote Jeff Fromm, who speaks and consults on millennials. "They also expect companies to support the social issues and causes they care about and will reward them if they do."

Non-millennials like to do business with companies that do good, too. So it makes sense to incorporate charity and volunteer work into a marketing strategy. But how do you do that without making it feel like marketing?

Choose the right cause.

If you want to make philanthropy part of your marketing strategy, it’s important to choose the right cause. If food is your business, align yourself with a program that feeds the poor. Look for a cause that needs your product or service. You want something that aligns with your corporate vision, but make sure that your efforts aren’t solely about self-promotion.

Get everyone involved.

The more the merrier when it comes to giving. When you’re working philanthropy into your marketing efforts, get as many people involved as possible. This year, RAGS, a Utah company that makes limited-stock rompers for kids, got employees and customers engaged in its giving project. It promoted a toy-donation event for a local nonprofit, Community Action Services, on social media and encouraged fans to use a hashtag to promote the event. It teamed up with a few other businesses and had high-demand gifts for people who came to the event with a toy to donate. Fifty people received a free backpack-style diaper bag and 100 people got a free RAG. There also were raffle prizes donated by the venue. With the toy-donation drive, the company helped a charity in the community and connected with existing and new customers.

Don’t over promote yourself.

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5 Marketing Metrics That Don’t Mean What You Think They Do

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If you want to take full advantage of marketing trends in 2018 and improve your efforts, you have to be able to monitor your progress and set the right goals.

Your marketing efforts are essentially only as good as your ability to measure them. The last thing you want to do is spend a ton of resources developing a content strategy, creating content, and promoting it to your audience without knowing how it’s performing. And part of assessing that performance is making sure you’re looking at the right metrics.

Say you prepared a meal for your family. You wouldn’t determine whether it was a meal your family liked by the amount of time you spent making it, right? No. You’d probably judge it by how much everyone ate, the kind of feedback they gave, and whether they asked for it again in the future.

The bottom line is that if you want to take full advantage of marketing trends in 2018 and actually improve your efforts, you have to be able to monitor your progress and set the right goals. That requires metrics that are useful. Here are five common metrics that don’t necessarily mean what you think they do — and how to do better:

1. Number of social shares.

Yes, social media is one of the top content distribution tactics, but relying on share count totals alone probably isn’t going to uncover a lot of useful information about how your distribution efforts are doing.

For social share numbers to be helpful, you have to dig into those shares. Who’s sharing a piece of content? On which platforms? Examine what this information tells you about your audience, your content, the publication you contributed to, or any number of other things aside from your “popularity.” All that information is more valuable to your distribution plan than the total number of shares.

2. Number of followers.

One of the greatest benefits of content marketing is the way it helps your team build and nurture online communities — ones that turn to you for insights and love your content. Those audience communities are powerful.

But a following of 1 million probably does more to boost your ego than it does to deliver real value to your audience. True influence isn’t measured by how many accounts follow yours; it’s measured by engagement. And as we see organic reach on certain platforms continue to decline, it’s important to remember that simply having an abundance of followers doesn’t guarantee you can get your content to the right people.

3. Brand awareness.

I won’t deny that getting your brand in front of your audience is important to opening the door to future engagement. Yet if I’m being completely honest, “brand awareness” as a standalone goal is pretty vague, which makes it a weak KPI. You need to know why brand awareness matters to you and how you plan to measure it, then work backward from there.

To meet any kind of meaningful business goal, you need people who trust you enough to act and then advocate for your brand. Trust isn’t the result of someone simply being aware of you — though that’s a good first step. It’s built through a series of touchpoints that you hit consistently, often through content. So, set smaller, content-specific goals that you believe will contribute to brand awareness instead.

4. Time on site.

Need I state the obvious here? More or less time on your website isn’t necessarily indicative of a positive action from your visitors or even a positive impression of the content they’re seeing.

You could argue that more time means the visitor is consuming more content. But without tracking that behavior, all you have is your assumptions, and we all know what assuming does. If you don’t also monitor and analyze where visitors go, where they’re coming from, or what converts them, time on site won’t shed much light on performance.

5. Site traffic.

Obviously, it’s encouraging to see people arriving at your site, but if your goal is just lots of people every month, that’s kind of a shallow goal. Examining site traffic without taking a closer look at where that traffic is coming from and what visitors do when they arrive won’t tell you much.

Think about it this way: Would you want to host a party where boatloads of people show up but none of them even talks to you? It’d be a shame to waste all your time inviting people and spending money on food and drinks only to have no one even acknowledge you. You want the right people coming to you and engaging with the right content, and that requires a closer look at sources and site behavior.

Now, don’t get me wrong. You’d probably benefit by taking each of these metrics into consideration when you’re measuring your success — but remember to dig deeper and truly understand the context around each one to fully understand your performance. Otherwise, these metrics could be wasting your time.

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This Guy Wants Me to Go in on This

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This guy at work is trying to convince me to go in with him on an idea he found on the web. They call it an 7 figure cycle review and I read about it as much as I could without paying them for the information.It is not so difficult an idea, but I have been trying to figure out how to make it work for me. You find a product and then you buy it, after that your part in the thing is all but over. You would not really do that much else in fact. Instead of getting the product yourself, you would have it sent to a place called a fulfillment center. Amazon and a lot of other similar web based e commerce sites are running these things. They have a simple purpose. You would sell the stuff on a part of Amazon’s web page called the Amazon Market Place. Continue reading “This Guy Wants Me to Go in on This”

Too Social? – Why SMEs Shouldn’t See Social Media As A Marketing Panacea

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Social media doesn’t always drive sales

“Does social media help you engage with your customers? Maybe. Does it drive sales? Probably not.”

So says James Hammersley, CEO of Good Growth, a UK consultancy offering a range of services, including help with digital marketing and customer relationship management. New research carried out by the company finds that while investment in social media marketing is continuing to rise, there is actually very little evidence to show that this most trendy and current of marketing channels delivers a big enough return on investment to justify the time, energy and money spent on mounting campaigns.

Hammersley is particularly concerned that entrepreneurs and SME managers might be putting too much faith in power of social media. For founders who have come of age in the digital age, social media marketing is often seen as a way to engage with customers, spread the word about new products and ultimately drive sales, without having to spend significant sums on print or broadcast advertising. So in theory at least, social media is a great leveler. Those who understand it can use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the rest build an army of loyal customers who eagerly consume every tweet and post. The ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ of those core followers, in turn, create a ripple effect that engages a much wider community of friends and family.

But does it actually work. According to Good Growth, 50% of marketers plan to increase their spend on social media, but 67% say they have no way of measuring ROI and only a relatively small number (33%) are tracking sales.

This is perhaps not a big problem for large companies with budgets to burn, but an SME that is relying on social media to deliver sales may be disappointed.

As Hammersley explains, the Good Growth research covered all aspects of social media activity, including advertising and posts. “What we found was that whatever the activity, social media does succeed in driving engagement,” he says. “The assumption made by marketers is that this engagement ultimately drives sales. But the relationship between engagement and sales is nuanced.”

The Benefits of Social Media

Hammersley stresses that he is not dismissing social media as a marketing tool and he stresses that for startup or an SME launching a new product or expanding into a new market, it can play an important intelligence gathering role. “One thing that it can help you do is to understand your market," he says. For instance by posting online, engaging with customers and listening to their responses, a business can find out what potential consumers are looking for and what they like and dislike about a product.

Testing Testing

However, if an SME is investing in social media specifically to drive sales, he advises that the business should focus on measuring the results. “If a business is marketing using, say, e-mail of advertising, there will be clear KPIs,” he says.

So when you begin to use social media what you can do is test things. Set up comparisons based on weekly or monthly spend. Over those periods look at the results. Has traffic to the website gone up? Have conversions gone up.

At the same time it is important to make comparisons between spending and results on social media and the return generated by other channels, such as mail.

Equally, Hammersley says it is important to test different social media platforms. Good Growth itself found that Linkedin was particularly useful in generating leads. Further testing is then required to establish what works best in terms of headlines and content.

“You should also take a look what your competitors are doing to attract customers to their websites,” he adds.

Social media is a powerful tool but it is not a panacea. Blogs, posts and even games all provide a means to engage with customers but the depth engagement will depend on the skill with which you deploy content on the various available platforms and – to be honest – your understanding of social media itself and how consumers use it.

But let’s assume that a millennial entrepreneur is indeed fully conversant with social media and succeeds in building an army of followers who dutifully share and like. That in itself will not guarantee sales or leads. The key is to experiment to find out what works and what doesn’t, make comparisons between channels and measure results.

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Why Marketimg Is Essential To A Successful Business

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Any business must promote itself in order to bring in clients. Even if a business might be the best in its industry, if it does not spend time to market what it offers, no one will know about it. There are many approaches to marketing. Here are a few of the different methods.

Print marketing is one of the oldest methods. This includes publishing an advertisement in a magazine or newspaper. It can also include mailing out flyers to the target audience. Print marketing can involve placing the company name and logo on giveaways in order to increase brand recognition in the public eye.

Ever since society embraced the Internet, businesses have been directing their attention to digital marketing. Sending out promotional emails is one way. An email sent to a lead can reinforce the company’s message and call the recipient to action. A thank you email sent to a customer who has just purchased something online can build up good customer relationships. An email that announces an upcoming sale and which contains a coupon code can give recipients incentive to purchase again, thus reinforcing customer loyalty.

Another type of digital marketing is through the use of social media. By attracting followers with an interesting post, a compelling message, or a special deal, the business can encourage their followers to share the message with their friends and family, thus spreading the word about the company and increasing the company’s brand exposure.

A marketing strategy that is executed effectively can bring in more customers and increase company sales. It can help a company retain its customers and promote customer loyalty. Marketing is a way for a company to reach out and communicate with their target audience. It is essential to the success of any business.

Why Your Digital Marketing Strategy Needs to Incorporate New Tech

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You’ll need to consider and control many factors if you want your digital marketing strategy to be successful. Your branding efforts, the types of campaigns you choose, the amount you invest, and how you stitch those campaigns together all matter—but you may not realize how much the advancement of your tech plays a role in your success.

Of course, you’re already using tech in your digital marketing strategy, otherwise it wouldn’t be “digital.” You’re likely relying on portable devices, cloud management platforms, and communications technology every day. But you may be missing some of the most important ways that tech can—and does—influence your digital marketing campaigns.

Improving Efficiency

Newer technology is simply more efficient. With faster processors, higher connection speeds, and new features, your employees will be able to get more done in less time. Even a few seconds of reduced lag per task, over the course of hundreds of tasks per day and dozens of employees, can amount to substantially reduced man-hours invested in trivial tasks. That enables your marketing team to focus their efforts where they belong—on marketing.

New tech tools also tend to open new doors in terms of how many people you can reach (and how cost efficiently you can do it). Access to more data, access to new communications platforms, and more integrated platforms all mean you can accomplish more for less money. This is one of the main reasons I created both my companies Due and Calendar. Both are there to help business owners like yourself improve efficiency within your business.

Improving Employee Morale

New technology may also be able to boost employee morale, if for no other reason than the fact that it causes fewer headaches with slow processing or malfunctioning. Purchasing new computers, phones, or other devices for your marketing team helps them feel more confident walking into a presentation, and gives them better tools to do what they do best. The higher their morale is, the better they’re going to perform, and the more loyal they’re going to be to the brand.

Improving Security

One of the most important reasons to keep your technology upgraded is to keep your data (and your customers’ data) safe. Up to 43 percent of all cyberattacks target small businesses specifically, and one of the easiest methods of attack relies on exploiting security holes in old devices or old pieces of software. The newer your technology is, and the more reliable the manufacturer or developer, the more secure it’s going to be.

Combined with best practices for ongoing security (such as secure, regular password changes), you’ll stay far better protected.

Making a Better Impression

The technology you use and how you use it will have a significant impact on your clients’ perceptions of your brand, especially once your campaign moves beyond the “exposure” phase and you start trying to close deals.

For example, if you show up to a meeting with a full desktop computer that requires a physical cable to connect to the internet, you’ll look foolishly behind the times. Showing up with some of the latest technology available shows that you have the funds to invest in quality materials, and you understand the latest technology trends. By 2021, more than half of US households will be using IoT—so if you want to make a better impression (especially with new clients), your marketing and sales staff should be using similarly advanced tech.

Staying Cost Effective

If you had unlimited funds to invest in your business, you’d probably spring for best-in-class technology for your organization on all fronts. Unfortunately, most startups and small businesses don’t have much wiggle room in their budgets, meaning you’ll need to be mindful of costs in addition to benefits if you want to succeed.

These are some tips that can help you do that:

Sell your old devices. When you’re upgrading to a new generation of devices, don’t simply throw your old ones away. It’s bad for the environment, and represents a waste of money. Instead, wipe your hard drives and either resell them to someone new or sell them in bulk to an e-waste recycler. Centralize your platforms. Having too many management platforms is unwieldy, even for the savviest Instead, try to consolidate your functionality to one platform—or as few platforms as possible. Reduce redundancy. If you have two platforms that do the same thing, get rid of one. Redundancy is a waste. Consider buying used. You don’t need to have your staff on the latest model of phone the week it comes out; instead, wait a few months, and buy a used or refurbished model. It could easily save you several hundred dollars on every device.

Your tech has an even bigger impact on your digital marketing success than you might have realized. Consider these factors carefully if you want to help your team see better results.

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13 Marketing Quotes From The Marketing United Conference

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Marketers from around the globe convened to listen to top marketers share insight and advice at the recent Marketing United conference. What follows are some of the best quotes from the conference.

“Advertising doesn’t fix a bad or broken product.” Tom Webster, Edison Research “Whether you are a global brand or a smaller brand that’s just getting started, the rules still apply: you have to make me feel something.” Matthew Luhn, Pixar “Marketers who use manipulative tactics are the problem…not the technology.” Oli Gardner, Unbounce “Marketing is all about creativity, humanity, and authenticity.” Jay Baer, Convince & Convert “We tend to think marketing is everything, but really, it’s all about changing my mind or making me do something.” Scott Stratten, Unmarketing “It’s about crafting a story that moves you—a story that inspires emotion and causes you to change the way that you live your life.” Mike Nagel, Evertrue “You can pay for views, but you can’t pay for shares.” Jenny Leahy, Microsoft “At this point, there’s no excuse for any brand not to be plugged into the voice of the consumer.” Curtis Midkiff, Southwest Airlines “Email proves time and time again to be one of the most valuable marketing channels a brand can use.” Justine Jordan, Litmus “Most people are scared to change the way they do business. Find someone in your organization who isn’t—they’re going to challenge your process like no one else can.” Mitch Lowe, Netflix “Map your user journey, then make sure you’re constantly removing barriers that prevent users from hitting goals.” Ben Jabbewy, Privy “If you try to write for everyone, you’ll end up connecting with no one.” John Lane, Centerline Digital “Go narrow, not broad: We have a tendency to think ‘if I go broad, I’ll capture more people.’ But the more tightly you define yourself, the easier it is for your people to find you.” Tamsen Webster, Speaker

The Marketing United conference was hosted byEmma, a provider of email marketing software and services. The objective of the conference was to bring digital marketers around the world together to learn, network, and get inspired by some of the smartest minds in the industry. Marketers do their best work when they are all sharing ideas and learning from one another.

Join the discussion: @KimWhitler

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What Are The Different Types Of Internet Marketing?

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Internet marketing, also referred to as online marketing, generally refers to marketing and advertising efforts that utilize the Internet and email to help drive sales through electronic commerce (e-commerce). Internet marketing and advertising online are generally used in conjunction with advertising efforts that are more traditional like magazines, radio, television and newspaper.

There are several different Internet marketing models that marketers and companies can use to provide more value to their prospects and customers.

Mobile Apps

As technology becomes more advanced, so do the ways that marketers and companies can interact with their leads and customers. After downloading your app on their electronic device, your leads and customers can learn more about products and services. Apps also allow them to be more engaged. The more engaged you are with your customers, the more you and your company can build credibility.


Technology has also been responsible for the increase in online shopping. This is a business model that is very straight forward. You simply sell your goods and/or services through an online marketplace for a profit.

Although this is a simple idea in theory, in reality, to make money with this model unless you are consistent in promotion and engagement.


This is another online model for Internet marketing. It is very popular because it is relatively inexpensive to get started. In fact, you can start using this model by using a free blogging platform.

The purpose of starting a blog for business is to create valuable content related to your niche. However, there are two stumbling blocks that can interfere with a marketer’s success. One stumbling block is the technical aspects, and the other is the difficulty some marketers have with creating valuable content on a regular basis.

These are some of the business models you can use to increase your online marketing efforts. With persistence and hard work, you can see increase sales and customer engagement from your efforts.

6 Marketing Strategies to Make Your Startup a Raging Success

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The vast majority of new companies fail over the long haul.

I’m not trying to bum you out or anything.

But you need to know what you’re up against.

One study says the failure rate is around 50% after five years but can reach as high as 75%, too.

Again: Don’t be discouraged. I’ve had my own million dollar mistake.

The important point is to learn from your missteps so that you can figure out what went wrong and never repeat them again.

In this article, I’ll share my experiences from successfully growing multiple million-dollar companies so that you can learn from my previous mistakes without repeating them.

We’re going to talk a lot about successfully getting your name into the marketplace because most new companies simply don’t do enough to break through obscurity.

But first, you need to make sure you’re entering the right marketplace for your business. Here’s why.

1. Get your positioning right first, then worry about distribution

Many companies fail before they even get off the ground.

Here’s what I mean.

People in software always talk about “solving their own problems” when they create something new.

But you don’t pay yourself. Your customers do!

In other words, solving your own problems is fine. But until you start solving the problems of other people, you’ll never make enough money to last.

That means you go out into the marketplace to see if the same problems or pain points resonate with what you’re thinking.

For example, I used to watch The Daily Show all the time with Jon Stewart. Now I don’t any longer.

It turns out, I’m not alone. Nearly 40% of Jon’s previous audience demographic has stopped watching, too.

It’s not that the new host is bad. He’s just different. And he wasn’t the right fit for this old, existing audience.

So before we can even talk about using strategies and tactics to scale your business, you need to make sure you’re in the right market first.

You have to be ready and primed for growth before it’s going to happen. Here’s one way to figure that out.

The first trick is to look for ‘echo chambers’ online that already have big, engaged communities. For example, just start by looking for popular blogs (because these are going to be your promotion partners later).

I just picked a random idea off the top of my head to try this out.

I literally Googled “Gluten free blog” half a second ago and here’s what popped up.

There are two awesome things to note here already. The first is the market size: 15,800,000 results!

And these are just blogs with content creators. So think about how many people are reading these sites.

The next thing is that BeyondCeliac.org is already helping to feature the biggest gluten-free bloggers.

That means there’s a big market here, there’s an ‘infrastructure’ of leading organizations supporting it, and you already have a list of new potential promotion partners.

Now you know there’s already a market for what you have. The next trick is to figure out how you’re going to make your product or service stand out in this crowded space.

Marty Neumeier wrote a book called Zag: The Number One Strategy for High-Performance Brands in which he talks about “creating a category of one.”

Basically, the idea is to ask yourself a few key questions to make sure that you’re not going to be competing against a ton of other people with the same basic commodity (otherwise your risk of failure skyrockets).

So ask yourself:

Is the value of your product or service easy to understand (and implement for the end user)? How are you going to change features, pricing, and other factors to be the only person who takes your unique spin on this problem? And are you supported by a trend where the market’s growing? (See that ‘echo chamber’ above.)

The Lean Canvas is one of the best ways to help figure this out.

In the early days, your ideal solution or product would evolve over time. You might think it’s going to be one thing, but it might change as you get real feedback from customers (who pay the bills).

And that’s OK.

For example, Cirque Du Soleil has become one of the biggest entertainment acts in the world over the last decade.

You can’t walk into a Las Vegas hotel without seeing one of their shows.

But when they started, they had to iterate a little to find the right formula. They obviously knew there was a huge market for live shows and a circus-like experience.

However, their innovation came in recognizing what was broken about the traditional circus and how they could change the rules of the game for themselves.

So they didn’t even bother with animals, for example, while at the same time, they added new elements like a show theme and a more refined venue.

The result was some weird cross between a circus and theater, but it worked.

There’s never a single moment that says you’ve figured it all out.

Instead, it’s a constant process during which you tweak your strategy based on feedback to continue moving in the right direction.

That helps you avoid making the same mistakes that often sink companies. They’re too stubborn to change or evolve over time, but you won’t fall into that trap.

Once you’re on the right path, you can start thinking about going for growth.

2. Start ‘piggybacking’ on other people’s platform

Moving too slowly is usually what kills new companies.

Nobody knows who you are, which means they don’t trust you yet, and they definitely aren’t searching for you by name.

So the best strategy in the early days was to simply piggyback on other people’s platforms.

Here’s what I mean.

Airbnb also started as a nobody. However, they embraced that and instead looked for places where their customers already were.

Back in those days, people still used Craigslist to find people in cities where they wanted to travel (or to offer up their own couch).

So Airbnb started by going after the people who were listing properties on Craigslist first.

They did that through a set of simple tools that would easily allow these people to also cross-post their property listings on Airbnb’s platform.

This worked well, but they still needed more. The only way to get the young company off the ground was to put their foot on the gas pedal to get more listings.

So what they did was both clever and borderline shady.

Airbnb created scrapped Craigslist contact information and then sent out mass emails to people, like this one:

The good news is that you don’t always have to do something spammy or technical to get the same results.

For example, Unbounce was a brand new company only a few years ago. They were also self-funded, so they didn’t necessarily have the same resources that some software companies have to ‘make a big splash’ when they launched.

Instead, they had to create their own news.

Co-founder Oli Gardner spent countless hours creating The Noob Guide to Online Marketing.

It contains a 15-million-pixel infographic that shows 60 different tasks in detail, along with a six-month course to help you figure out how to put all of that information into practice.

That’s pretty impressive, right?!

With something this big, your first natural inclination would be to put it on your own site so that you can receive all of the benefits.

However, that’s not what Unbounce did.

Instead, the company posted the entire thing on the Moz blog for free.

The reason was simple.

Unbounce needed attention and customers. Moz had those things.

So it was a match made in heaven.

You can replicate this same strategy almost anywhere you look.

For example, software companies will also help each other run cross-promotions or partnerships when there’s an overlap in their users.

Treehouse teaches people to code. Many of those people will freelance at some point. So Freshbooks is a perfect fit.

These can be ‘back-scratching’ relationships where no other value is traded hands. Or you could incentivize the bigger partner by giving them a cut of all the revenue that you generate through the partnership.

You can even form these same types of partnerships or platform plays and take things offline.

3. Piggyback on other people’s news, too

Almost everyone made fun of the new GAP logo when it was originally announced.

Seriously, everyone hated it:

Scrappy startup 99designs saw an opportunity and quickly took advantage.

99designs helps people crowdsource new logo designs. That way, you can get tons of different direction options as well as feedback to avoid making the same mistake as the Gap.

So it was a perfect fit!

The company created a competition on its own platform to basically help Gap design a better logo.

The competition raised a ton of awareness because they were piggybacking on something that was already in the news.

All they did was capitalize on a trending topic that led to them getting written up in tons of different places (all positive) based on some other big brand’s miscalculation.

4. Attend, organize, and volunteer at events

People like doing business in person.

It’s infinitely easier to gain someone’s trust and have a fruitful discussion around your ever-evolving positioning.

In the early days, the founders from Hakka Labs would attend local meetups to find out more about what the engineering community was interested in.

The discussions were excellent, but there was never any record of them afterward. In other words, the information and insight exchanged vanished after the event was over.

So they started recording the talks and making the audio available for users on their website.

The file would be shared with the organizers, who would then happily help share the information with all the group members.

You can then scale this approach by inviting more people to attend more events and repeat as necessary.

This approach proved so successful that they eventually expanded into hosting their own meetups. Before long, they’d built an entire conference for the same communities they were reaching.

This early traction then helped them pick up a $500k angel (after bootstrapping this entire time).

It’s the same basic platform piggybacking strategy, but you take it offline and meet people in person.

This type of strategy also helps you stick out, too.

Think about it: Everyone is sending out cold emails to get noticed.

But those are terrible! The response rate is abysmal, so why waste your effort?

Instead, do something different, like meeting people at events or sending new prospects something in the mail to get noticed.

It takes more effort, but it also helps you actually stand out and get noticed.

5. Turn early customers into word-of-mouth referrals

Did you ever have a Hotmail account?

I know I did. Almost everyone did!

That’s because Hotmail came out with the first completely free email service decades ago.

Each email you sent, however, contained a simple text link that encouraged the recipient of your email to get his or her own free account with Hotmail.

This strategy was incredibly simple, but it helped the company gain millions of users in no time.

Now, can you think of another more recent company who did something similar?

This simple little trick was single-handedly responsible for driving Dropbox’s early growth (way more than PR, SEO, or advertising did).

The best news is that there are pre-built options to help you add this same feature for almost any kind of business.

For example, ReferralCandy works with e-commerce companies to do something similar.

Every time someone helps bring in a new customer, they’ll get rewarded with a new little bonus.

I love this simple tactic because it doesn’t cost you anything.

The only time you ‘pay’ is when someone spends more money with you first.

That helps you avoid spending a ton of cash on advertising or other channels instead of reinvesting it back into hiring people, purchasing more products, and other growth-oriented expenses.

And that helps you avoid negative cash flow. Now business wants to find itself in that position.

6. Find an influencer (or become one yourself) to help increase your brand’s visibility

Influencers also have the big, pre-built audiences you need access to.

What they don’t always have, however, is money.

So tons of influencer marketplaces, like Tribe, have been popping up to help connect brands and influencers in an easy, DIY, mutually-beneficial relationship.

For example, you can go on many of these platforms and simply list your products or describe your initial campaign idea.

Then you’ll either search for the influencer or get matched with those who have a perfect audience fit.

A few hundred bucks can help you instantly get access to hundreds of thousands of followers (leading to more traffic, leads, customers, and more).

The co-founders behind Luxy Hair had the same end goal, but it simply decided to pick up a video camera and start rolling instead.

Over the course of five years (and tons of video segments), it has been able to rack up over three million subscribers.

A simple B2B example is either guest posting or even conducting a webinar for a larger brand’s audience.

For example, Kissmetrics hosts new webinars every month. So it’s constantly on the lookout for new experts who can step up and deliver excellent content.

Sure, it might require some time to prepare the content.

But otherwise, you get new brand awareness, traffic back to your own site, and new potential leads or customers.

The extra side benefit is that this also gives you credibility. Kissmetrics, in this case, is an established brand in the marketplace.

People have come to know and trust it.

So you’re also going to get the benefit of the doubt by associating your brand with theirs.

In the early days, you’re constantly short on cash. So putting out some effort and elbow grease to get attention is one of the easiest possible alternatives.

The trick with all of these strategies, though, is that you’re not asking these people for help.

Instead, you’re helping them first.

Give each of these big brands, partners, or platforms what they want or need. And you’ll get what you need, too.


Your success is going to come from other people in the early days.

Nobody knows who you are, why you exist, or why they would ever want what you have.

So the very first thing you need to do, before promotion, is to actually figure out what people want!

That sounds trite and simplistic, but it saves a lot of headaches and hassles down the road.

You need to make sure there’s a viable market out there before you launch your business because, down the road, many of those same people will also be your springboard to success.

You’re going to need to piggyback off of their platforms to ‘borrow’ some of the same attention they already have.

There’s no shortage of techniques to try here. But the important thing is that you figure out how to help your potential partners first.

Then they’ll be much more inclined to give you access to their eyeballs, which might result in your first few customers.

What’s your favorite example of a strategy that a big company used to become successful?

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