Running a successful business is largely about keeping your pipeline of new and repeat business filled. One of the best ways to do this is through an inbound marketing system. Why? Because it can give you the greatest reach for your cost. This is especially true for startups and small businesses that may not have the budget to hire and train an effective sales team.
A strategically sound, targeted and measurable marketing plan is key to marketing (and therefore business) success. Personally, I love researching, creating and developing marketing plans with Make Happy’s clients. However, getting the plan down on paper is just the beginning. The next step is to actually see it through.
I’ve noticed that many organisations seem to struggle to stick to their marketing plans. There are many reasons for this. Market conditions change, disasters and triumphs take place and businesses have to be ready to respond. Often, we see that marketers are asked to put aside their long term strategy in favour of responding to short term needs: a drop in sales here, a change in leadership there.
However, we know from experience that true and lasting marketing success comes from developing a marketing plan and seeing it through consistently. If you do this, your business will grow and marketing will drive the attainment of the organisation’s goals.
Of course plans may need to change, and you should allow for some flexibility and agility (we tend to follow the 80:20 rule, i.e 80% of your activity is planned, 20% is responsive and agile). However the systematic drive to achieving your objectives, following a formal plan, is a sure way to maximise ROI from investment in marketing.
Here are a few tips to ensure to help you stick to a marketing plan, even when :
- Get buy in to your plan from all the key stakeholders in your business. Take them through it at the start of the year and show how it will bring the vision of the business to fruition. Use facts, figures, case studies and past performance to back up your planned activity. This will make it so much easier to argue for sticking to the long term plan later in the year when people begin making short term demands of you.
- Make sure your marketing plan is realistic and achievable. Devote plenty of time to considering what is attainable within your budget and resource.
- Break your plan into specific actions and tasks, assign each task to a person, and give them a deadline. Assign one person to overseeing the whole plan, and ensuring that each person completes their set activities.
- Celebrate small wins as you go along. When a milestone is achieved – share the success. If you meet a target, let everyone know and thank the people who got you there. This will keep your people inspired and motivated to keep pursuing the plan, even when it gets hard.
- Finally, keep at it! It won’t be easy but it will be worth it. And like anything, the more systematic and consistent you can be, the easier it will get.
This mid point in the year is a great time to take stock and see just how much of your planned activity you have executed. It’s never too late to get back on track!
Close to two-thirds of US adults are now gamers (Nielsen, 2015) – a finding shared by Peter Jonas at this year’s film music and technology festival South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas (March 11-20). The head of North American games and mobile app sales at Facebook told us the reason the number is so high is because it includes casual mobile gamers, who would not consider themselves to be in the same category as hardcore console players.
The number-one game genre on Facebook is slot machine games played by “mobile whales” (big spenders in-app) – of whom 73% are married with children. “Would these people identify themselves as gamers before they identify as parents, friends, executives?” asked Jonas. “The answer is no. [As a brand], are you breaking out of the stereotypes?”
Kym Nelson, senior vice-president of sales at live-streaming platform Twitch, agreed that games continue to offer huge opportunities for marketers: “[There are] 146 million women in the US who play casual games,” for example. And while mobile gaming is on the rise, it’s not cannibalising traditional console gaming: two out of three console gamers also play on mobile.
As an example of what’s possible when advertising and gaming meet, Nelson talked through the Chappie Challenge, a Twitch campaign promoting Sony’s sci-fi movie Chappie. Over a six-week period, Twitch players were able to challenge the eponymous robot to the game Evolve, with the chance to win $15,000 in prizes. The result was more than one million streams of Chappie content, 24 million impressions, and “incredible chat interaction and engagement” on Twitch.
Utility is the key for marketers when it comes to engaging gamers, according to Nelson: “Brands need to think about what value they’re offering the user playing the game.” She pointed to Covet Fashion, a fashion app that currently boasts more than three million users, as an example of a perfect symbiotic relationship between game and brand, as users “click to buy as they play the game”.
I recently read an article in HBR about how storytelling is a great way to explain a business’s purpose. I couldn’t agree more.
To me, purpose is about understanding and aligning a business’s values (who you are and what you stand for) and value (what you do and how it benefits others).
To activate purpose, you need to set a narrative. As with any good story, you need a beginning, middle and end.
You need to tell a personal narrative, focusing on real events in the founder’s life and explaining how these incidents established the personal values that will later link to the values of the organisation.
You then need to connect these values with broader shared values of the audience, clients and employees. You can aim to do this through sharing values, experiences, hopes and aspirations. By doing so, you can create a common narrative.
Once a connection has been established, you then need an urgent call to action for those who want to share the business’s purpose.
A great example of activating purpose can be seen with Kickstarter. They use storytelling as an impactful way of asking people to join their team. Their narrative begins with the founder telling the story of the company. Their website then includes pictures and short descriptions of each company employee. Finally, the narrative finishes with a call to action, asking the reader “Love Kickstarter? You’ll fit right in.”
Although the process of storytelling can seem daunting, it’s a powerful tool that builds passion, motivation and buy-in for the stakeholders of any organisation.
Image: FlickrCC/BY/2.0 Jim Penucci
Heritage has long been a keystone for luxury brands. From Chanel, to Aston Martin to Phillipe Patek, brands have traded on their history and long-established prestige to drive aspiration and desire for their goods.
However, as a new report by Stylus suggests, smart luxury retailers are refocusing on a new generation of customers for whom a venerable logo matters little. As Stylus comments, these brands are ‘reframing heritage’. They are doing this by emphasising the core values that made these brands great to begin with, and communicating them with modern storytelling.
A great example of brand that is doing this successfully is Tiffany’s. For generations this brand was synonymous with chic uptown-New York ladies. Now they are appealing to a more diverse demographic of young women, experimenting by bringing their classic style to pop ups in edgy, down-town locations.
As well as this, they famously ran an advertising campaign last year featuring ‘non-traditional’ couples, such as a same-sex pair and unmarried parents. Whilst still staying true to their core values of classic elegance and high romance, Tiffany’s told a story that resonated profoundly with their new generation of customers.
The trick, for luxury brands, is the get the balance right. They need to recalibrate their brands for the modern age without losing touch with the essence of what they do best.
I know next to nothing about the world of high fashion. However, one show I do watch every year is Burberry. I like the designs, the music. I like the way I feel, even as a viewer, that I’m part of a distinctly British spectacle. In short, I like the branding.
A recent Guardian article explains that, as technology and fashion increasingly become one, brands are finding new ways to engage, personalise and communicate with their consumers. In an era of a universally democratic “open-to-all” fashion, instantaneous purchasing and technological innovation, the “indulgent showcase of designer theatrics,” (that is, the shows) may be falling flat.
Is this why I’m so attracted to the Burberry brand? If so, what exactly is the company doing to adapt to a stagnating environment?
Last week Burberry became the first company to be blessed with its own branded channel on new streaming service Apple Music. An extension of its Burberry Acoustic endeavour that showcases new British musical talent, the move signals the company’s repositioning as a lifestyle brand.
They’ve started giving consumers the option of designing their own clothing exactly the way they like it.
The company have upped their Instagram and Snapchat game in efforts to keep up with millennials. Last week it became the first high fashion brand to premiere its Spring/Summer 2016 collection on Snapchat ahead of its London show.
Popular campaigns starring rising supermodel and teenage-favourite Cara Delevingne signals their commitment to capture the imagination and purse of the millennial demographic. A recent campaign with Delevingne and Kate Moss is a confident blend of the ‘old’ and ‘new’; a transcendence of eras that suggests the timelessness of its brand.
It’s expanded and started selling perfume and cosmetics in addition to their original tailored clothing.
The fashion industry is supposed to be innovative by nature. It forecasts trends, sets the agenda and promotes creativity as well as beauty. Despite this foundation the industry is built upon, however, it holds a self-defeating paradox: fashion resists innovation just as much as it’s promoted.
The turnaround that Burberry has seen in the past 10 years has happened without our questioning of it. The brand’s transformed from a tartan signifier of the working-class to a high-end boutique of £1,000 trench coats. This is all down to its confident, transformative marketing approach. In my opinion, this is why Burberry are innovators.
Connecting with young people is a constant challenge for brands. How can they build meaningful, long lasting relationships with the most self(ie)-aware, technologically advanced and media savvy generation ever to have walked the earth? Recent research by State of the Youth Nation suggests a possible answer to this question: feminism.
Of 1,000 16- to 24-year-olds surveyed, 65% agreed that the way brands depict women is generally too sexualised, and 75% stated that feminism is important. Three quarters also agreed that brands have the potential to empower women, if they depict them in inspiring and respectful ways.
So then, a more thoughtful approach to the treatment of gender in brand advertising seems like it has the potential to help brands build trust with younger people. Many brands have started attempting to do this, from the Always Like a Girl campaign to Pantene’s Labels against Women spot. Increasingly, brands are attempting to build campaigns around a feminist(ish) message.
However, for me, the real opportunity lies not in coming up with one off campaigns centred on a commercialised version of feminism. Media saturated young people will quickly see through any inauthentic attempts to jump on the girl power bandwagon.
Instead, this research suggests, to me, that brands could connect in a much stronger and more authentic way by finally leaving behind the tired, gendered tropes that our industry always seems to fall back on: the bikini clad girl, the saintly mother, the domestically useless man. The real opportunity here is to forge a new language more powerful than simplistic gender types, that resonates with a young audience that is increasingly questioning and resisting these norms.
If you’re posting without a hashtag then you’re missing out on the opportunity to increase your exposure.
A hashtag is not just a tool that helps group social conversations, it brings together a vocal community of users by opening posts to be viewed by all accounts. When these users are brought together in the right way, the value of the hashtag increases.
Famously, Cancer Research UK found social users posting pictures of themselves with no makeup along-with the hashtag ‘#NoMakeupSelfie’ in order to raise donations for the charity. Impressively, in just 6 days over £8million had been donated through user generated hashtagging.
It’s not just charities that can benefit from a useful hashtag. Lancôme asked their followers to post ‘bare faced selfies’ for the launch of the DreamTone serum. Not only did they receive positive engagement on social platforms, but remarkably, the selfie gallery on the company’s website generated a 4% conversion rate for the product.
The power of a well thought through and executed hashtag has been proven time and time again. Here are three tips for using hashtags more effectively.
1. Give your hashtag a purpose:
You must be selective about the topics you’re associated with. Make a list of the 4 topics you want to become involved with and do some research into what thought leaders in those areas are already hashtagging. This will give you a baseline understanding of what’s trending in those areas.
2. A brand hashtag that resonates.
Choose one #hashtag that represents your brand’s values and also engages users to click-through or start a conversation. For example toilet paper brand Charmin uses #TweetFromYourSeat to open and encourage engagement from social fans.
3. #Don’t #overuse #the #hashtag.
Using too many hashtags actually devalues their strength. It can even cause further damage by causing a loss of followers and permanently damage your branding. Instead, Twitter officially recommends that you use no more than two #’s per tweet.
Some people use hashtags for fun, others to promote their brand, regardless, you want your posts to be simple and filled with useful content that engages the user to click on your link, visit your website or even buy your product. Hashtags, used correctly, open these posts up to a new audience.
Image: CC/BY/2.0 Ognian Mladenov
Ghost writers are essentially writers for hire. They are paid by the named author to write copy but take no credit for the work produced. Books, blogs and social media are all examples of platforms that a ghost writer may be hired to write high quality copy for. According to Ebyline, 80% of published books are ghost written.
As the Washington Post reminds us, ghostwriters have channeled the thoughts of politicians, celebrities and business leaders with little or no credit since the 17th century. Those who hire a ghost writer usually do so because they have neither the time or desire to write. It’s a ghostwriters role to help them convey both the meaning and message of whatever subject is of importance to them.
However, a reader must be convinced that the author has written the copy themselves. Failure to capture the persona effectively can be damaging to the author’s career. Vlogger Zoella’s book ‘Girl Online’ presents as perfect example of ghost writing gone wrong. After failing to capture Zoella’s online identity, readers and journalists hounded the Vlogger on Twitter until she eventually admitted to using a ghost-writer. The scandal forced her to ‘quit the internet’ leaving her 4 million followers behind.
Here are my three tips for successfully ghost writing an online persona:
Who are you writing about?
One of my authors, “X”, is a very successful 62 year old male entrepreneur. I am a 21 year old female graduate who loves a good use of an emoji. Needless to say we have completely different interest, opinions and ways of expressing our thoughts. Understanding the author’s tone of voice is crucial at this stage. If possible, ask to spend time in a meeting where the author will be talking and engaging with others. From this you can begin to analyse their sentence structure, thought processes and expressions.
Understand the purpose.
Whether you’re writing a book, blog or speech you must understand the purpose of the project. For “X” the purpose was to raise the entrepreneur’s profile in order to become a thought leader. For this to be successful, there should always be at least 3 main topics to write around. We sat down with “X” and entrepreneurship, leadership and growth were the topics that were most suitable. I have the general knowledge to write across these three topics, but general knowledge will not convey the appeal of a thought leader. I had to immerse myself in the world of entrepreneurship, leadership and growth in order to not only report on news, but to also have a strategic point of view.
On a visit to “X’s” offices we had overheard his staff talking about their boss’ great new social media page, that was the moment I realised that I had the tone of voice and topics right. People who interact with “X” all day were not aware that a ghost writer was responsible for the content or activity. It wasn’t an overnight process, we went through vigorous trial and error testing for content, sentence structure and opinion.
The real reward for ghost writers comes in the form of successfully remaining unknown to readers.
Image: Flickr CC/BY/2.0 JulienDft_Photo