Why Internal Marketing is Key

Employees

What do you think of when you think of marketing? Television ads? Brochures? Social media? When you think of all of these things, who do you envision as the target audience? I’m guessing your answer is customers and potential customers. And you’d be absolutely right. I mean, without customers, you’re out of business, right? But besides customers and potential customers, there’s one group that many marketers overlook, and that’s employees.

While it might not be quite as easy to measure the return on investment (ROI) of internal marketing, it’s very important – especially in this social age where your employees have more of a voice than ever. Social media empowers employees to become either friends or foes of your brand. It’s up to you to either empower them to be brand ambassadors or allow them to fade into the background – or even worse, give your organization a bad reputation. Remember, happy employees are productive employees. And productive employees are INVOLVED. This is where internal marketing comes in.

Whether you like it or not, your employees are talking about you and your organization. They’re talking to their friends and family in person, posting things on social media and going to websites such as Glassdoor.com. Try and make those conversations positive ones by keeping your employees informed. The public is going to listen to people that are on the “inside.” Prevent misinformation from spreading like wildfire by keeping your employees in the loop. Forget the old hierarchal system of information. Be open and honest with your employees and trust them to know what to share and when.

Once you’ve decided to treat your employees as advocates, you need to market to them just as you would the community. Set up communication channels such as social media pages for employees, employee newsletters and emails, or even an internal website (Intranet). This will give employees access to the information they need to help your organization succeed. Make it easy for them to become involved and encourage others. Employee events are another opportunity to get people excited and share some of the wonderful things your organization AND ITS EMPLOYEES are doing.

So the next time you’re putting a marketing plan together, don’t forget about including some internal marketing practices to help keep your employees stay motivated, happy, and informed.

What are some other ways organizations can market to employees and get them involved? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

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5 Things To Avoid When Talking To The Media

Marketing

Most of the time, when you get the opportunity to talk to the media, it’s a good thing. It’s a chance to gain exposure and market your business – even if the story isn’t about you or your organization. Basically, it’s free advertising. Of course, there are always times during delicate or sensitive situations when you may not want media coverage. Perhaps something came to light that isn’t exactly in your favor. Even then, remember, talking to the media is a chance to have your side of the story be heard. But regardless if media attention was sparked by a positive or negative situation, there are still things you should always do – and more importantly things you should NOT do when talking to the media. In this post, I’ll share with you 5 things to avoid during an interview.

1. Don’t use terms like “we” or “us.” Again, anytime you get the opportunity to speak to the media, it’s an opportunity to plug your organization. Remind people what the name of your organization is. People tune in and tune out, listen to the television from the other room, or may have missed the beginning of the radio program where you were introduced. At every opportunity, state your company name. Instead of saying “We love hosting this event,” say “Company XYZ loves hosting this event.” The more often people hear your name, the more likely they are to remember it.

2. Don’t ramble. Remember that there’s a lot of editing that needs to be done once your interview is over. Get to the point and talk in short, concise quotes or “sound bites.” This is especially true for television and print. The people in the editing room don’t always know what the most important things are that you want to communicate, so make sure to communicate only those points. Just be careful to not be too short with your answers – still be friendly and provide enough content to fill up a story. Just make sure it’s the story YOU want told.

3. Don’t be negative. This isn’t always as obvious as it sounds. First (and this is likely the obvious one), never, under any circumstances, say anything negative about another person or business. Take the high road. As an organization you don’t want to get caught up in mud-slinging. Stick to the facts and speak about you, your organization and your mission. The not-so-obvious part of not being negative is by not restating something negative that the interviewer said or something you believe the community may be thinking. Even if you disagree with the negative statement and are simply setting up your counter-argument to state something positive, it’s best to just say the positive part. Again, you don’t have control over what happens in that editing room, so make sure you don’t end up being featured as the person making the negative statement you were trying to combat.

4. Don’t say “no comment.” By simply answering “no comment,” your lack of an answer could easily be perceived as negative or look like you’re hiding something. If a reporter or interviewer asks you a question you’re not comfortable answering, simply redirect your answer to talk about something you’d like to say instead. Let’s say, for example, a reporter asks about allegations that certain parts of your operations may have a negative impact on the community. Instead of saying “no comment” you can say “Company XYZ cares tremendously about our community. In fact we’ve recently (insert something you want to talk about here).” They’ll either choose to air your positive, redirected comment or throw out the question altogether. Either way, you’re not trapped into answering something you don’t want to. Just be sure to NOT LIE.

5. Don’t assume that anything is “off the record.” Always be mindful of what you say when you’re around the media. Now, I’m not saying media professionals are out to get you – in fact the media can be your best friend – but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Mistakes can be made. Things can be misunderstood. Don’t say anything, at any point, that you wouldn’t be comfortable having shared with the world. Commit this to memory: There no such thing as off the record!

For more interview information, check out Larson Communications’ The Seven Do’s and Don’ts of Media Interviews. Do you have any other tips when speaking with the media? Please share them in the comments below!

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Is Your Marketing Sensitive? Here’s 4 Things to Keep in Mind…

Sensitive Marketing

When I first began my career in marketing, I worked for a technology company. We manufactured a variety of widgets for the real estate and construction industries. It was all pretty straight-forward and I didn’t have much to worry about when putting together marketing campaigns other than if it was compelling enough. It wasn’t until I started working in animal welfare and healthcare that I learned there’s a lot more to marketing than simply grabbing someone’s attention and selling your product.

There are a number of industries in which emotion plays a large role. And trust me, if you say the wrong thing, simply use a single wrong word, or choose the wrong image, you can expect a mob of angry people with pitchforks and torches at your front door (hypothetically speaking of course). But it really can hurt not only your campaign, but your overall brand and image. So here are 4 things to consider when putting together marketing materials.

Helmet Safety Marketing1. Analyze every detail of your photos. What do you see in this photo? A cute picture of a kid riding his bike? Well if you work in healthcare or any sort of public safety or welfare sector, be prepared for some serious outrage that the child is not wearing a helmet. It’s all in the details of photos and if you want your ads to be well-received, it’s important to consider everything about the imagery you use. Otherwise, you may come across as being irresponsible.

2. Be mindful of your choice of words. It’s pretty easy to identify some blatantly offensive things you should never say in any form of marketing, but what about the not-so-obvious things that are more industry specific? For example, when I first started working in animal welfare, I had to retrain my brain to say that we weren’t “selling” pets, but “adopting” them. We didn’t “get rid of 20 cats at the event” we “found homes for 20 cats.” My initial statements may sound insensitive now – as they clearly are – but I came from manufacturing and I was used to speaking in a certain way. So just make sure your words and lingo translate appropriately. Here’s a great guide to copywriting with sensitivity.

3. Audit your work environment. This is an easy one. If you have meetings at your office of any kind – or if you ever have the media come by, make sure your work area is clean and professional. Stay away from anything that could be perceived as offensive. This isn’t just for your image to the public, but is also common courtesy for your employees.

4. Monitor your employees. Now let me disclaimer this by strongly suggesting consulting with Human Resources on this one because I’m no HR expert. And I’m not recommending that you regularly police your employees or become a “big brother.” But it is important to remember that your employees represent your company. Both at work and at home (or rather, online). Knowing what they publicly post on social media may present opportunities for training and coaching to make sure your employees and your company are always communicating with sensitivity.

What are some other areas in which you need to be sensitive and mindful in marketing? Tweet your thoughts to @jhachquet or comment below.

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5 Tips for Marketing a Startup

startup marketing

Marketing a startup company can be challenging. One of the biggest challenges is lack of resources – both financial and manpower. I’ve personally worked for a couple of startup companies and know first-hand how frustrating they can be to market. I’ve compiled 5 tips that will hopefully help guide you through the process of marketing an organization that’s in the early stages of development.

1. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Unlike a well-established business, you need to be more reserved when marketing a startup company. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Before you start marketing your business, you need to make sure your company, products and services are ready to be promoted. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make sure you work out all of your bugs and operational issues before you start implementing any serious marketing. Meanwhile, put together a marketing plan – both short term and long term so that when you’re ready to start marketing, you can hit the ground running.

2. Start with the basics. Startups in the beginning require a lot of grassroots efforts. It’s a lot about the sales teams (or often times in the case of a startup – a single person that is also the founder), making connections and setting up first meetings and pitches. Focus on creating support materials for those meetings. Put together a nice flyer or brochure and an engaging PowerPoint presentation. Those first meetings really matter as that’s where you’ll start to build a customer base. Make sure you have the appropriate collateral ready. And when you do get those first customers, collect testimonials and analytics. Those are powerful tools to help your proof of concept in future sales meetings.

3. Create a website. Your website doesn’t need to be over the top, but it does need to exist and look clean and polished. In today’s world, if a potential lead is interested in you, the first thing they’re going to do is visit you online. If you don’t have a nice website in place, there’s a good chance the lead will discount you. You absolutely must have a website to appear credible. There are plenty of easy, build-it-yourself web tools with plug-and-go templates such as WordPress, so there’s no need to worry about hiring a web developer right away. However, I would highly recommend putting this as a top priority once you’ve got some funding in place. As I mentioned in a previous post, your website is the face of your company and you want that face to be a good one.

4. Setup social media accounts. Social media is not only free (which is great for starving startups), but it’s one of the most powerful tools in marketing today for any business. Social media platforms allow you to communicate with potential customers, engage them in what you’re doing and build a community of customers and ambassadors. Create accounts for your business on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other platforms that may be relevant to your business (such as Instagram). Just make sure you use social media to ENGAGE and not SELL. Start conversations and ask for input. Social media is about talking WITH your customers, not AT them.

5. Don’t forget about public relations. In a recent post, I mentioned how PR is great for non-profits because of budget constraints. The same is true for startups. Identify some unique things about your business. This can range from the products/services to the founders themselves. Find some newsworthy talking points, put together a press release, then start connecting with media outlets and bloggers to help you get the word out about your startup and all the great things you’re doing.

Have you ever worked with a startup company? What are some things you did in your early stages of marketing? Please share in the comments below.

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6 Reasons Why No One Is Watching Your Marketing Video

Marketing video

You dipped into the budget and created a marketing video, but for some reason you’re not seeing that return on investment you’d hoped to get. People aren’t commenting or sharing on social media, the views on your website are low and sales aren’t reflecting any sort of increase. Marketing videos can be a huge asset and great sales tool, but unless done properly, marketing videos can be a huge waste of time and money. Here are 6 reasons why no one is watching your video. Avoid these faux pas in the future and your next video might have more success.

1. The topic isn’t interesting. First and foremost you need to make a video that interests people. If the title and topic of the video doesn’t grab people attention, there’s no reason for them to click on it. Pick a topic that appeals to your market and couple it with an enticing title or headline.

2. It doesn’t have any real value. Shameless self promotion isn’t going to cut it. Your video needs to have a purpose and add value to the viewer. According to Video Brewery, you need to prove that value in the first 10 seconds . If you haven’t proven the value of the video in 10 seconds or less, 20% of people will click away. By one minute you will have lost nearly half of the viewers, so make sure to outline the benefits of the video early on.

3. It’s too long. Speaking of time, the length of your video will also determine whether or not people are willing to watch it. The longer the video, the less likely people are to click it. Keep it as short as possible. A general rule of thumb is no longer than two minutes at maximum. However, different types of videos have different “magic” number. Check out this blog post on The Next Web to learn more about different video length times. Of course, with any video, the more compelling your content is, the longer your video can be. Just be careful not to include any information that’s unnecessary. Edit. Edit. Edit.

4. It’s not entertaining. Consumers are absolutely saturated with advertising and promotional videos. In this day and age, they expect to be entertained. If your video is boring or has poor production value, people aren’t going to watch more than a few seconds. Even more importantly, they’re not going to share it. Entertainment doesn’t mean it needs to be silly or have Hollywood-style special effects, but it does need to keep the viewer’s attention.

5. It’s been done before. Just because another company got 1 million views from a cat video, doesn’t mean you will too. Be unique with your idea and let viewers know why it’s important to watch THIS particular video. Sure, sometimes spoofs can be fun (and effective) but be careful not to produce a video for the sake of jumping on a trend bandwagon. People don’t want to watch the same video over and over again.

6. You’re not promoting it. Or not promoting it enough. Even though the video itself is a promotional tool, don’t forget that the video needs to be promoted as well. People aren’t going to watch something they don’t know exists. Make sure to push your video out through your various marketing channels (social media, YouTube, email, website, etc) to improve your chances of people watching it. Remember, it’s not going to promote itself.

What are some of the best (or worst) promotional videos you’ve seen online? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Are You Suffering from “Marketer’s Block?” Here’s 5 Solutions.

Marketing Block Ideas

Everyone’s heard of “writer’s block” but what about “marketer’s block?” While marketing professionals tend to be creative people, we all get stuck once in a while. Coming up with new ways to market the same product or service over and over can sometimes be challenging. But don’t fret, there are a number of things you can do to jumpstart your brain to keep your marketing fresh and effective. Here are 5 things to try the next time you feel tapped dry.

1. Have a good old fashioned brainstorming session. Get some of your team members together in a room and just start throwing ideas around. The key is to make everyone comfortable and remove any filters or fear of judgment. Remember the first rule of improv – never say no; say “yes and” and continue the dialogue. Make it fun and you might end up with a gem of an idea amongst all the nonsense.

2. Try a change of scenery. Have you found yourself just staring blankly at the computer not knowing where to begin? Try getting inspired by a simple change of scenery. Go for a walk in the park or visit a local coffee house. Clearing your head and changing your surroundings might be just the thing you need to get those creative juices flowing.

3. Ask Your Customers. Who knows more about what your customers want than your customers? If you’re stuck on how to appeal to your market, consider putting together a survey or focus group. Ask your customers what they like, what they don’t and why. Some of the feedback may surprise you and be just the fuel you need to spark an interesting idea for a new campaign.

4. Think about some of your favorite campaigns. These campaigns don’t need to be related to your product, service or industry. Simply think about some general ads or slogans that have stuck with you. Sometimes as marketers, we get so hung up on the market research related to our products and industries that we get stuck inside a box. Try stepping out of the box and think about how something interesting happening somewhere else could be modified and applied to what you’re working on.

5. Bring in an advertising agency. Sometimes having a fresh set of eyes on a product or campaign is the best solution. You might be too close to the project or perhaps you’re on a tight deadline to come up with a stellar idea. In these instances, don’t forget about advertising agencies. They may not always know your products as well as you do, but sometimes that can be a good thing where the best ideas are born.

What are some things you do to combat marketer’s block? Please share in the comments below.

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4 Tips for Marketing Your Non-Profit

Non-profit non profit not-for-profit Marketing

Throughout my career I’ve worked for several non-profits. While basic marketing principles hold true when marketing a non-profit, there are unique challenges. Lack of a substantial marketing and advertising budget is a common one. But you don’t always need deep pockets to get big results. Here are 4 tips to help market you non-profit…

1. Spend time developing and nurturing strong community and corporate sponsors. You may not always have the money to advertise your non-profit the way you’d like, but other people do. Reach out to for-profit businesses that support your mission. Large corporations often have dedicated community-outreach departments and funds set aside for non-profits just like yours so make sure you take advantage of that. Sponsors also like to advertise their partnerships to illustrate their good will, so often times you’ll get twice the advertising in these mutually-beneficial relationships.

2. Apply for grants, contests and awards/prizes. You’d be surprised by how much money is up for grabs for non-profits. And you may be even more surprised to learn that some grants are specifically for marketing and advertising, not just operations. Check out online resources such as The Non Profit Times to see what grants are available in your field. Beyond grants, enter your non-profit in competitions. Even if you don’t win, there’s always marketing surrounding competitions and awards which helps get your organization’s name out there. It’s also great content for your own website and social media efforts.

3. Create a team of ambassadors. Employees, volunteers, partners and satisfied customers are all potential ambassadors for your organization. Empower them to help spread the word through social media, events and their every day lives. When you work at a non-profit, everyone already knows how invaluable dedicated employees and volunteers are so remember to treat them as such. In turn, they could be some of your best marketers.

4. Focus on public relations. One of my previous posts is titled “Why PR is Your Best Friend.” This is especially true in the non-profit world. Don’t forget to take advantage of media opportunities to promote your organization. This is a great way to get the word out through a third-party media outlet at no cost to you. It’s not often that the media will come to you though, so spend time creating and identifying news-worthy topics about your organization and send press releases to the local, regional or even national media. And don’t forget to reach out to those bloggers!

If you have a favorite non-profit that you think could use these tips, please share on social media using the buttons below.

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4 Things to Consider When Planning an Event

EventsEvents are a great way to attract attention to your organization. But they’re also a lot of work. However, proper planning and execution can make events an extremely effective marketing tool. How do you know if your event will be a success? Here are 4 things to consider when planning an event.

1. Purpose. Sure, we all love a good party, but when you’re spending marketing dollars, your event needs to have a purpose. What are your goals? To attract new clients? To raise money? To boost employee morale? There are many different reasons to host an event, just make sure you have a clear vision in mind. And make sure that vision has some sort of return-on-investment.

2. Target Audience. Your target audience ties into your purpose. Depending on the type of event you’re hosting, you’ll next need to determine who your target is. Is it investors? Donors? Shareholders? Customers? Prospective customers? From there, depending on your budget (which we’ll talk about next) you may need to drill down a little further. If your target is prospective customers, just as with any other marketing effort, get granular. Take a look at the demographic, geographic, psychographic, and other market segments to narrow down your target.

3. Budget. Your budget plays a very important role in the planning process for obvious reasons. It’s the difference between a potluck and an international extravaganza. But there are also some not-so-obvious things to consider when budgeting for your event. Keep in mind, that even with a standard seminar-type event, things add up quickly. The first thing you need to look at is the venue. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Will you have catered food? Tablecloths? Centerpieces? And you’ll need to advertise your event of course. You’ll also need to consider entertainment, giveaways, permits, etc. And don’t forget about your administrative costs. The devil is in the details. Make sure you map everything out in advance to ensure your event is worth the investment. Check out How to Build A Basic Event Budget to learn more.

4. Promotion. You want people to show up to your event, don’t you? Well then you’ll need to promote it! Make sure you create a solid marketing plan for your event. Think about how you’ll get the word out to your target audience. You may want to send invites. Perhaps advertise on local TV, radio, and newspaper. The mediums you use is entirely dependent on the type of event and your audience. But every event needs promotion, so plan ahead and be sure to account for promotional costs in your budget.

What are some other things to consider when hosting events? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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Consumers Just Want One Thing…

Marketing

What do they want? INFORMATION! When do they want it? NOW!

We’re living in the age of information. Between the Internet and smartphones, consumers have an endless supply of information. Anything they want to know is literally at the tip of their fingers. Armed with this endless supply of information, consumers have become disconnected from sales representatives. In fact, according to YouTility by Jay Bear, people complete 60% of their decision process before ever speaking to a sales rep. As consumers pull away from sales, it’s up to marketing to pick up the slack.

These days, getting people to buy your brand really is as simple as supplying them with information. Transparency is key. You can’t hold anything close to the vest anymore. If consumers can’t find the answers they’re looking for, you they’ll move on to your competition. So give the people what they want already! Give them information. Information about your products. About your company. About your operations…sustainability…environmental impact…management…EVERYTHING. Different people have different values and you should be ready to address them all.

Beyond being open and honest, it’s about becoming a resource for consumers. What does this mean? It means providing something of value, for free, without trying to sell anything. I’m sure you’re familiar with the old saying “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” Well in today’s commercial world, you’ve got to give away milk in order to sell the cow. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but my point is that you need to offer something of value—real value, not sales or weekly specials—in order to get peoples’ attention.

The good news is, that the digital age also works in your favor. As people demand more information, it’s easier than ever to supply it. Offer tips on Facebook. Post informational videos on YouTube. Answer questions real-time on Twitter. Blog. The point is to make sure you’re accessible and ready to provide the information your potential customers demand. The more information you provide, the more likely it is that you’ll be the company people choose to do business with.

Do you agree that more information is better? Or do you see problems with delivering too much information? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Do Your Blog Posts Have These 4 Essentials?

Blog

Everyone and their mom is blogging these days. Heck, I’m blogging right now. But just because there are millions of blog posts floating around the Internet doesn’t mean they’re worth reading. So how do you get your target audience to read your blog? All you need to do is remember 4 simple letters: BLOG.

1. Brilliant Headline. Okay, “brilliant” might be a bit extreme, but your headline needs to be pretty great to catch people’s attention these days. There are a number of “magical” formulas marketers and professional bloggers swear by. A couple of proven techniques include asking a question and/or including a number (5 great ways to…). Check out How to Write Hypnotic Headlines That Drive People to Your Blog to learn more about how to write headlines that perform.

2. Links. Including a few hyperlinks in your blog can help with your SEO. Whenever possible, link back to your own blog posts. This not only helps with SEO, but also gives you the opportunity to showcase some of your past posts and knowledge. Linking to other blogs or websites is also beneficial. Just be sure that the site you’re linking to is credible as it’s a reflection on you. One thing to keep in mind: while hyperlinks have many benefits, don’t overdo it. Include just a few links in each post to keep your blog readable.

Bonus Tip: When creating hyperlinks in your blog, make sure to select the “Open in a new window” option. This opens the linked webpage in a new tab or window, which keeps your page up in the background. This is another way to improve your SEO and encourage people to continue reading your blog after they’ve closed out of the new window.

3. Obvious Share Buttons. If you’re writing a blog to market yourself or your business, your goal should be to get as much engagement as possible. In order to maximize engagement, you need to reach as many people as possible. Social sharing makes that easy. But simply having share buttons isn’t enough. Make sure your share buttons are identifiable, easy to find, and easy to use. Don’t overdesign or get too creative. Keep it simple. The easier it is to find your share buttons, the more likely people are to use them.

Bonus Tip: Make sure that your Twitter share button is linked to your Twitter account. This ensures that your Twitter handle is included in the Tweet whenever someone shares your blog post. This allows people to not only find your blog, but your Twitter account as well.

4. Great Content. Even if you have the best headline in the world, if you don’t have great content to back it up, don’t expect people to share your posts or return to your blog. It’s important that your blog has valuable information for your readers. Forget the fluff. Write about topics your audience cares about. Include helpful tips they can use in their lives and careers. And don’t forget to include keywords!

If you know bloggers that are missing any of these elements, please share this post. If I’ve successfully followed my own advice, the share buttons should be pretty obvious and easy to use. Go ahead, give it a try!

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