How to Market the Sciences

It doesn’t matter how big or small, general or niche they may be, all companies in all industries need marketing. It’s not enough to sell a service or product, a business needs to make itself known and stand out from the crowd in order to continue growing. As our CEO Ryan likes to say, when you start a business you begin by selling to friends (you know, those people who you already know like and trust you), until you run out of friends to sell to – that’s where marketing comes in. By actively making your business known to the audience you want to reach, you’re creating an opportunity for them to become new customers.

It may seem difficult, or sometimes impossible, to create effective marketing campaigns for businesses in non-consumer-based industries. We’ve already discussed building strategies for B2B businesses and the benefits of niche marketing, but what if you’re in a science or biotech industry? Science-based companies often struggle to reach audiences effectively because the content and general nature of the subject matter is very specific and technical. We don’t want to use the word “boring,” but marketing is about creating a connection between a brand and its audience and using strictly science jargon can make it hard to do so.

So how do you captivate an audience if the only people who truly understand what you do are your employees (and even they sometimes may wonder)? In short, it’s about sticking to the basics.

 

1. Be clear about your ‘why’

When developing written and visual brands for clients, we always make sure we (and they) are clear on why they do what they do. It seems like a very simple question, but you’d be surprised how difficult it may be to answer. Before developing goals for the growth of your company and looking to marketing to help reach them, it’s vital to go back to the beginning and remember why it is you began your business. Not only will this identify the overall desired trajectory for your business, but it will help form the foundation for your story.

Human beings love stories, it’s in our very nature. It’s how we make sense of the world and how we connect with others. Having a strong brand and marketing strategy always begins with a story. This is especially true for science and biotech companies, whose content can often feel a little ‘dry.’ While the product or service you offer may be extremely specific, your reason for starting your business, finding a solution to a specific problem, is a story everyone can connect to.

 

2. Know your audience

This isn’t the first time we’ve brought up this point, but with good reason: it’s just that important. From a marketing perspective, knowing who you are communicating with and why will dictate everything you do. Are you trying to reach scientists who are experts in your field, or provide information for patients with a specific condition that would benefit from your services? These are two very different groups with whom you would share a different message, tone and vocabulary with. Your marketing strategy would ideally include insights into your target audience, allowing you to develop tailored key messaging for each. Your way of reaching them will also differ, as one audience may be more receptive to white papers and the other to social media and traditional news.

 

3. Tailor your language

As mentioned, once you know your audience, you’ll need to adjust your messaging to ensure they receive the information they need in a way that will resonate with them. While it may seem difficult to do so, one of the most important things to remember when marketing the sciences is to minimize the use of jargon. An audience not well versed in your organization’s vocabulary will glaze over if the messaging they’re receiving is too technical and the aim of developing a connection will be lost. That being said, there is a fine line between not using technical jargon and “dumbing it down.” Don’t underestimate your audience – utilize laymen’s terms where you can, but don’t oversimplify the information you want them to obtain.

 

Once you break it down into understandable terms, weaving in the “story” element will not only ensure the information is received, it will make it memorable. Even the most technical, niche, B2B business can have highly effective marketing if there is an emotional appeal people can grasp onto, whether it be the CEO of a target partner or a client looking for additional equipment or resources.

The key to effectively marketing the sciences is developing robust insights into the business and industry, and in turn, creating a brand that resonates with target audiences. Understanding who you are will help you determine what you want to achieve and how marketing can take you there. This is a crucial, and often difficult step to achieve. Luckily, William Joseph works within a variety of industries – including various in the sciences and biotech scope – and can help you develop a marketing strategy that’s right for your business. Need help? Give us a call.

 

The New Age of Influencer Marketing

In the age of social media, platforms such as Youtube and Instagram have become the ultimate resource for product research. When we can’t get the information we need from our friends, we turn to social media to learn about and discuss products and brands in great detail – after all, the people talking about them are just like us. Naturally, those that develop honest, trusted content that appeals to the masses will become more popular and their opinions will be revered and valued – enter the birth of the influencer.

Who is an influencer? An influencer is someone who people turn to for enjoyable content that is, for the most part, informative – therefore ‘influencing’ social media trends and, in turn, the culture around them. It makes perfect sense then that followers would be interested in the products these influencers are talking about. So while authentic word-of-mouth can never be replaced, it only makes sense that influencer recommendations would become a strong marketing strategy as our lives becoming increasingly intertwined with social media.

Influencer Marketing – the act of partnering with an influencer to promote a product or business – has become more and more popular as social media platforms continue to grow. As influencers become an increasingly trusted source for their audiences, marketing agencies are working with them to promote targeted brands and products. And while most influencers are now (transparently) being paid for their services, most make it an ethical point to be honest in their reviews, thus maintaining their integrity amongst followers.

Because of the visibility and authenticity it offers, Influencer Marketing is an extremely effective tool for many brands, both large and small. If you’re thinking about working with influencers to promote your brand, here are some ways you can ensure your efforts are effective:

Identify Your Target Audience

While an influencer may love your product so much they feel the need to shout it from the social media mountaintops, your brand won’t benefit if the right people don’t get the message. A crucial step in developing marketing tactics is identifying your objectives and ensuring they are tailored for the correct audiences. If you’re selling a product meant for people ages 40-60, engaging with an Instagram influencer most likely will not help you achieve your goals. Understanding what your audience is interested in, how they use social media and where they get their information from will help you identify the kind of influencer you want to partner with.

Have a niche product that you want to market to a very specific target audience? A micro-influencer may have just the right amount of clout to reach them effectively.

Understand Your Social Media Landscape

Now that you know who your target audience is, you need to learn which influencer(s) will be best for your marketing campaign and why. Are you targeting a specific city, or is your campaign national? Is it important for audiences to simply be exposed to the content, or do you want them engaging through comments? Answering key questions such as these will help you choose the right influencer that will help push your marketing efforts further.

Be Clear About Your Ask

Brands are often put off by Influencer Marketing because of its perceived inconsistency. Not only is its effectiveness difficult to measure, but the content created by the influencer is often not what the brand envisioned. However, if this has happened to your business, you should ask yourself if you were absolutely clear with the influencer about what you expected out of the partnership. Did you send them a product to test without any explicit request for review on their platforms? Did you think they were going to make an Instagram post but instead they only shared the product on their Instagram story?

As influencers are working with more and more brands on a daily basis, it is crucial that you communicate exactly what it is you want from them in terms of coverage. That way there is no ambiguity and both parties will be clear on what is expected.

 Ensure Transparency and Authenticity

While you may be explicit in the amount of posts you’d like them to share with their audiences, it is important both to the influencer and their audiences that the content remain authentic – and it should be important to you too. As previously mentioned, the reason Influencer Marketing is so effective is because audiences have developed a level of trust with the influencer and are confident that the information they share is honest. If you believe in your product so will the influencer and, in turn, their followers.

That being said, audiences want to know when an influencer is being paid to promote something or has a partnership with a brand. Transparency is highly valued in Influencer Marketing, so if an influencer wishes to express that the post is paid or they are working closely with your brand, let them.

As we become increasingly more connected with the world around us through social media, influencers will continue to be a source of reliable information for consumers. However, identifying whether or not Influencer Marketing is right for your brand is not always easy. At William Joseph Communications, our years of experience will help you identify the right marketing strategies for your business  – feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

The Most Effective Social Media Platform for your Business

Social media can be an incredibly powerful way to market your business. The benefits of real time communication, mass audiences, and the advantage of having a presence literally in the palm of customers’ hands are hard to overlook. But if you’ve spent any time planning a social media strategy, or more significantly, implementing one, you know just how time consuming social media marketing can be. Even with the use of social media management software like Hootsuite or Sprout Social (on-line platforms that make it possible to preprogram social posts in advance) the time it takes to schedule your posts and create content really adds up.

We all know time is money when it comes to business, so how do you control the costs associated with social media marketing? If you’re a small business or a startup, chances are you won’t have the time to invest in a broad social campaign, and if you’re in a position to hire a social media manager, you’ll still have a budget to adhere to. Over and above the time cost of social media marketing, blasting out content over every available platform isn’t the most effective way to get your message across. Just like every other form of marketing, your social media posts should be carefully targeted. Certain platforms attract certain users, so it’s worthwhile to do a little backend research on which social media platforms are the best choice for you. Doing so can save you hours in payroll costs and make your efforts much more effective in terms of ROI.

Let’s breakdown the basics on the most popular social platforms for marketing:

Facebook

Men and women between the ages of 25 and 54 make up the bulk of regular Facebook users – about 32% are women, and about 20% of that group are men. If your target market is younger than 25, Facebook probably isn’t the platform for your business (only 9% of Facebook users fall between the ages of 18 and 24.) If your target market is older though, you should consider making Facebook a major component of your social marketing. Statistics show that 44% of Facebook users check the platform multiple times a day.

LinkedIn

If you’re a B2B marketer, you can’t afford to not to have a LinkedIn presence. According to LinkedIn stats, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn and 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content. LinkedIn users are folks who are looking to solve a professional problem, and the place to find expert help is on this platform. An effective LinkedIn strategy will give your company incredible exposure and great credibility too. What’s more – LinkedIn’s advanced audience targeting capabilities ensure your posts are highly likely to convert to solid leads.

Instagram

With 500 million users – 59% of whom use the app every day, Instagram has incredible reach. That being said, this highly popular platform has its downsides for marketing purposes. Instagram uses an algorithm that prevents posts from being seen chronologically, which means you can’t be sure how many of your followers will actually see your post while they’re scrolling through. On top of that particular inconvenience, Instagram doesn’t allow for clickable links on any posts. This platform tends to be great for brand building (lots of pretty pictures and streaming video) but not so fantastic for generating sales.

Snapchat

Surprised this made the cut? If the answer is yes, chances are you’re older than 24. This particular social platform is alive and well among younger millennials, with more than 100 million users consuming a minimum of 30 minutes of content every day. Live video, behind the scenes footage, interviews with influential people and tons of unique content keep traffic on this app steady, which makes it a great tool for free marketing to young customers.

Pinterest

If your product has anything to do with fashion, food, home décor or art, Pinterest should be a go-to for your social media marketing strategy – particularly if your target customers are women. The age demographic among women on Pinterest is wide; 35% of users are between 18 – 29, and 28% are between 30 – 49. What’s even more impressive is that 42% of all women who use social media are Pinterest users. And with the Pinterest buy button, sales are just a click away.

The landscape of social media is constantly changing, with new users and different apps being developed every day. Staying on top of what social platforms are best for your business is time consuming in and of itself – which is why it’s always a good idea to get the advice of experts. We at William Joseph do the backend research for you and will help steer the course of your social media marketing going forward. Nailing down where your business fits on the social media spectrum will give your marketing efforts on social a much better result.

Top Trends for Social Media in 2018

 

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

When Bob Dylan wrote that iconic song (The Times They Are A-Changin’) back in 1963, he couldn’t have imagined that it would apply so perfectly, 55 years later, to a social landscape of a different kind. Social media has revolutionized our culture, and it continues to evolve at a pace so rapid that many of us have a hard time keeping up with it.

As marketers, it’s our job to keep up with social media trends. If we don’t, just like Dylan says, we’re doomed to sink like stones – losing the attention of important audiences and inevitably, losing out on revenue too.

There are about 2.5 billion social media users out there today. In the ocean that is modern social media, what trends will keep your marketing afloat? We’ve narrowed the list down to a Top 3:

  1. Live Video Content

According to Facebook, live streaming video receives 6X the engagement as non-live video. That’s a statistic that can’t be ignored, and the nuances of it are changing. Facebook recently announced a test run for what they call Watch Party – a feature that allows admins to choose any public Facebook video and show it to a group along with a dedicated comment real. The idea is to create a shared and active viewing experience, one that is more intimate and creates an immediate sense of community among selected viewers. Facebook’s VP of Product, Fidji Simo, says, With everyone watching, commenting and reacting to the same moments together, it creates a shared viewing experience for video that helps build the kind of community and engagement we’ve seen with Live.”

Other social platforms offer live video features too. All kinds of businesses and brands are using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to live stream content, engaging users by including them at events they otherwise would not be able to see.

  1. Messaging Apps as a Means of Customer Communication

Most people think of apps like Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat as nothing more than an alternative to SMS or iMessage, but the marketing implications for these popular modes of quick communication are massive. An astounding 4 billion people use some form of alternate text messaging, and smart companies are utilizing this direct line of communication with individual customers in way that is transforming the face of customer service. The Hyatt chain of hotels, for example, is using Messenger as a means for guests to make reservations, ask questions, and get information for their trips. Texting apps are a faster and easier method for customers to get information or assistance they need from your businesses, and they’re a benefit to you in terms of cost efficiency and scalability. It’s a win-win idea, and it’s gaining steam.

  1. Virtual Experiences

If you want customers to engage with your brand, you need to reach them on a human level – and virtual experiences do just that. The rise in popularity of videos and features like Instagram Stories make it possible to connect with customers one-on-one in a deeply personal and memorable way. Virtual experiences put your followers (i.e. customers) within the story you’re telling, and the impact can be profound.  Take this terrific Virtual Giving Trip video created by TOMS Shoes for example:

https://youtu.be/jz5vQs9iXCs

The effect is better when you have a virtual reality headset or viewer, but you get the idea. Customers get to see (and feel) the impact of their TOMS purchase in a meaningful way. The feel-good factor of this virtual experiences cements users to the TOMS brand in a way that only human emotion can.

According to the Consumer Technology Association’s 2018 Tech Trends to Watch, virtual experiences are expected to generate up to 18% more revenue and 25% more units sold this year for companies that utilize them, so if you’re already dedicating some of your marketing budget to video, you should consider devoting a portion of it to virtual experience.

Yes indeed, the times for social media marketing are definitely a-changin’, and these three examples barely scratch the surface of it. Want to know the other social media trends your business should be aware of in 2018? Hit us up for a meeting. We’d be happy to share.

Our Favourite Christmas Campaigns of 2017

Ohh, the holiday season. Who doesn’t love the abundance of holiday baking, extravagant gifts, eggnog, and quality time spent with family and friends? The best part about the holiday season for team WJ? All the ambitious Christmas advertising.

This is the time of year where retailers “make their money back” – literally. In 2013, North American’s spent US $3 trillion over the holidays, which reflects 19.2 percent of the sales from the entire year.

Many businesses recognize their potential to bring in the big bucks over this short two-month period. You may have noticed that advertising efforts have been revved up, and large-scale marketing campaigns and holiday ads are everywhere you look. With a piece of a three trillion-dollar pie at stake, retailers know that spending a little extra on an innovative or touching campaign is worth it, even if it means getting the smallest piece of that pie.

This year, businesses are using a variety of methods to reach their audience. Whether using emotion, humour, or visually-stimulating creative, here are just a few of our favourite holiday campaigns of 2017.

Compelling Visuals: Asda – “The Imaginarium”; This advert follows a young girl and her grandfather as they enter a world of wonder – the Christmas Imaginarium. The one-minute ad is chock-full of bright colours, special effects, and grandiose ideas of Christmas come to life. This keeps viewers engaged and in a state of wonder as they anticipate what creative images will be in the next frame.

Humour: Spotify – “2018 Goals”; Humour is one of the most effective way of reaching Millennials, who are one of the largest generations in history, and who spend $600 billion a year. Spotify, an online music streaming platform, recognized that to get Millennials to pay attention to an ad, they would need to really entertain them. The campaign was entitled “2018 Goals” and featured witty one-liners such as “2018 Goals: Be as loving as the person who put 48 Ed Sheeran songs on their “I Love Gingers” playlist” and “2018 Goals: Take a page from the 3,445 people who streamed the “Boozy Brunch” playlists on a Wednesday this year.” Well done Spotify, well done.

Controversy: Greggs – “Nativity Scene Sausage Roll”; Without question, a primary goal of any marketing is to get people talking, and by any means possible. Controversy is a tried-and-true tactic to accomplish this, and Greggs, the largest bakery chain in the United Kingdom, made it their mission to get tongues wagging. Greggs released their holiday campaign in November 2017, and it featured a nativity scene, with just one small difference – baby Jesus was replaced by a sausage roll. The ad went viral, with critics denouncing the ad as disrespectful, blasphemous and offensive. Blasphemous or not, it made the world aware of Greggs, so they haven’t entirely lost.

Emotion: The Children’s Hospice – “#FirstChristmas”; This minute-and-a-half video meant to portray the “true meaning of Christmas” certainly pulls at the heartstrings. It depicts a couple who are experiencing their first Christmas since losing their son, and whether you have experienced this type of personal loss or not, it is difficult to watch this advert without being touched.

No matter what hooks you, there is a lesson in marketing that can be found in each of these examples. The trick? Weaving in your brand’s story, in a way that is also appealing, and speaks to, the masses. Need help refining your story, or your brand? info@williamjoseph.com

Changing Behaviour Through Social Marketing

We’ve all seen the advertisements: Don’t litter, do recycle, don’t eat fast food, do eat your vegetables. As consumers, we are constantly inundated with marketing messages telling us what we should and shouldn’t do, all with our own benefit in mind. However, are a few ads really enough to shift our thinking and ultimately change our behaviour? And, if they aren’t, then what is?

Cue the mastery of Social Marketing.

Social marketing, as per the Community Tool Box, a global online resource for those looking to build healthier communities and bring about social change, is “an approach used to develop activities aimed at changing or maintaining people’s behaviour for the benefit of individuals and society as a whole.” Social marketing is a strategy employed by marketers that, when done correctly, can change behaviour – not just how people think about an issue or topic. It is frequently used by non-profit organizations, government organizations, the health-related field as well as marketers to connect with audiences, shift mentality and, overarchingly, to change behaviour. These organizations employ a consumer-centric approach to their strategies to truly understand their audience’s behaviours as a means of identifying how to change them.

At the very core of this marketing strategy is the idea that, as Sustainablebrands.com eludes, the new behaviour should have a seemingly higher value than the current behaviour. There are many different tactics advertisers use to encourage this change. Here are just a few examples:
Emotion: Fear, shame and guilt can prove to be effective triggers in changing behaviour. Think about ‘Stop Smoking’ campaigns, for example, which use scare tactics as a means of getting powerful messages about the negative impacts that smoking can have on life, health and family to consumers. From disturbing images on cigarette cartons to emotion-evoking commercials, these tactics are also employed by other organizations, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), recycling initiatives, health-related non-profits, and so on. A study conducted by Brennan and Binney (2010) found that use of fear and other such emotions to target a group of people can invoke emotions of self-protection and voluntary compliance, whereby people are likely to act if it is in their own best interest. A sample of one commercial can be found here.

Alternatively, positive emotions such as pride, self-confidence and self-worth are common themes in the beauty industry for inspiring change and provoking brand or product adoption. Think of the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, which encourages women of all ages, ethnicities and body types to look at themselves differently. The campaign went viral by relating to the emotions felt by almost every woman at some point in her life. Through consistent messaging, expressive visuals and messaging, as well as strategic consumer targeting, Dove won the hearts of many: Check it out here.

Education: Using education and knowledge as a means of shifting attitudes and changing behaviours is no new concept. As the Guardian (sustainable business) identifies, achieving sustainable behaviour change lies “in understanding your consumer and then using this understanding to offer them an exchange they will value.” We often see this employed with health-related and eco-based organizations and initiatives, such as fitness facilities, specialized health programs, green marketing initiatives, and so on. Using education as a means of changing behaviour can be a challenging feat as social change is not always based on using convincing facts, important information or logic. In fact, more often than not, social marketing digs a bit deeper, connecting with the very emotions of target audiences (which is probably why, in some cases, playing on emotion works better than education).

As Chris Pemberton of Gartner for Marketers discerns, “Increased social activity does not automatically lead to positive business results.” So, what makes for good social marketing?


A well-defined audience

Defining your audience is a key part of social marketing – how can you change behaviour if you don’t know who you want to engage?  Effective social marketing cannot be painted with a broad brush. To be successful, you need to see things from your audiences’ perspective. You need to understand them, how they think, and why they do whatever it is they do. Essentially, they must be clearly defined to best determine how to connect with them based on their motivations, values, social norms, buying habits, and so on.

An emotional approach to building connections

The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) indicates that people are not always driven by logical, rational, or coherent internal motivations when it comes to social marketing. Rather, effective social marketing often plays on emotions over an extended period of time, drawing the attention of audience and relating to them by connecting with them and demonstrating a desired behaviour or thought process. Entrepreneur.com describes that authenticity is equally important in social marketing, and that quality over quantity is valued, especially when trying to change behaviour over the long-term.

An effective, consistent strategy

As we mentioned earlier, successful social marketing strategies must have a long-term goal. A consumer-centric approach to strategy, with good communication, a detailed audience analysis and a long-term lens will make for an effective social marketing strategy. As CEPSM advocates, breaking down big behavioural changes into smaller pieces will make efforts more impactful, and increase the long-term sustainability of the changes. While this long-term approach will require more resources than a short-term plan, the results of consistent, on-going messaging prove to be drastically more successful.

Social Media Best Practices

Social media: the “be all, end all” of 2017 marketing strategies, and for good reason. Businesses operating in both B2B and B2C contexts use social media to start conversations with consumers, increase brand recognition, generate leads and, of course, generate loyalty. In short, social media marketing is good for business. The issue is that it is in a constant state of change, rapidly evolving and expanding at a pace that most businesses are finding challenging to keep up with. Amidst the confusion, some businesses (both big and small) are opting out.

Are you one of those businesses? If so, we’re here to help convince you otherwise. A report released by WeAreSocial.com found that there are currently 2.56 billion global mobile social media users (34% global penetration), with 1 million new active mobile social users added every day. This is a MASSIVE market that your business can and should capitalize on, despite the challenges that the fluidity of the social world presents.

How can you take advantage of social media, you ask? First, let’s dive into the WHY.
WHY SOCIAL MEDIA

Are you looking to grow quickly? Reach a wider target audience? Or, perhaps, just connect with your consumers? Not only does a strong social media presence encourage two-way dialogue between you and your target audience, but social media allows you to develop targeted grassroots campaigns, engage with your audience, and build brand equity. Just to name a few other reasons, social media allows your business to:

  • Build on your current marketing efforts and drive traffic to your website
  • Tell your brand story
  • Increase awareness of your products and services
  • Share current, relevant and targeted content
  • Build credibility, both in the digital and physical sphere
  • Improve your SEO
  • Generate more leads
  • Establish your brand as an industry expert
  • Managing your online reputation
  • Direct conversations to your target audience, no matter how niche they are
  • Evaluate how good you’re doing by monitoring your competitors, and using that knowledge to stay one step ahead of them
  • Be approachable, engage, and respond to praise and criticism

If your business is looking to grow, expand into new markets, attract new customers, or just be successful in general, you need to be present (and active) on social media. Based on experience, here are our top 5 social media best practices for businesses of all sizes.

Tip 1: Choose the right platforms. Don’t senselessly try and be present on every social platform. It’s not realistic. Choose what’s right for your business – analyze your target audience, and base what platforms you use off their activity on those platforms. In other words, understand the strengths of each platform. Are you a photographer attracting millennials? Instagram is the way to go. Are you a recruiter hiring for a variety of positions? LinkedIn is your best bet. Based on your marketing and social media strategy, create and share content that is relevant to that platform, and to the audience using it.

Tip 2: Get visual. Let’s look at the stats: Posts which have appealing images increase a person’s willingness to click that post by 80%, and 51% of marketing professionals agree that video content produces the best ROI (Meetsoci.com). HubSpot similarly found that visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. This includes videos, photos, infographics, memes, snaps… the list is endless. The more visual your content, the better.

Tip 3: Keep the “social” in social media. Social media is the perfect setting to have two-way conversations with your audience. It’s an opportunity to listen, see what’s being said about your brand (both directly and indirectly) and respond. Interact, be present, and be an accurate representation of your brand. This is also a good opportunity to look at your competition and see how they are managing their online brand, who they are targeting and what content they are publishing. Free analytic sites such as Fanpage Karma and LikeAlyzer for Facebook, which allows you to copy the URL of any Facebook account, gives basic metrics and a general analysis of how a page is performing. Use them to learn from your competition, what they are doing right and wrong, and plan to be a step ahead.

Tip 4: Don’t stray from your brand, but don’t be afraid so break some rules either. Staying true to Tip 3, you need to identify your brand’s voice and tone across all of your accounts. While you will receive positive feedback, it’s equally important to pay attention to the negative feedback, and address it. Don’t lie to make your business or services sound better than what they are. Be authentic, be human, and build trust by being honest with your audience. Consider Wendy’s, for example, and their combination of honesty and humour across social accounts to communicate and relate to their audience. When being challenged on their products or services, or when consumers argue that Wendy’s competition is better, they counter the negative feedback with a positive answer:

Tip 5: Have a social media strategy. The importance of this step cannot be overstated. According to smartinsights.com, social media strategy “defines how your organization will use social media to achieve its communications aims and the supporting platform and tools it will use to achieve this.” A well thought-out social media strategy will help define your target audience, identify key messaging, determine which platforms should be used (as per Tip 1) and determine which content should be used for those platforms. The strategy will also house a schedule for your posts, allowing for you to pre-plan your content and schedule posts using Hootsuite or a similar platform. With social media, consistency is key, and a well-defined strategy will help you ensure you are being consistent.

 

Content Marketing – What Is It?

Here at William Joseph, it’s our philosophy that marketing is meaningless without great content.

Traditional marketing has become less compelling, and forward-thinking businesses are recognizing that content can be an effective vehicle to carry their brand, message and business. As the energy sector rapidly evolves, and consumer demands evolve alongside it, quality over quantity matters now more than ever in terms of powerful marketing. So, how do you stay ahead of the marketing curve while operating in a dynamic and challenging industry?

Introducing content marketing.

What is Content Marketing?

Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, defines content marketing as:

“…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

While there are many varying definitions of what content marketing is, a more basic way to look at it is that content marketing is essentially using all forms of content – text, video, audio and images – to stimulate curiosity, develop trust and inspire action. In other words, it’s developing and publishing valuable content that specifically attracts your audience into getting to know more about your business, your brand and your products/services.

Particularly in the highly-scrutinized oil and gas industry, building and maintaining a consistent and reputable brand can be a challenge; however, content marketing has many benefits and can help combat this present-day challenge. Here are some of the benefits of content marketing:

  • Effective content marketing has a high ROI and compliments your current efforts to accomplish business goals
  • It’s good for your bottom line, and helps build your brand and reputation by creating trust between your brand and consumers
  • It attracts prospective customers in an engaging and relevant way, and educates them on the value of your products and services
  • It can increase sales or new business and leave consumers wanting to know more about your brand and business

The difference between content marketing and traditional marketing is that traditional marketing efforts typically “tell” consumers how amazing your brand is. Content marketing, however, “shows” them. Research indicates that effective and consistent use of content marketing is good for your bottom line, and many corporate giants have specifically used it to stimulate growth and establish positive connections. A tangible example of how content marketing “shows” value is WestJet, who don’t just share social media posts about their products, services and flights, but often share emotionally-charged and compelling stories, videos and photos of their employees and consumers. These stories consistently embody Canadian values and emphasize WestJet’s commitment to doing business differently by putting people first.

B2B Content Marketing

The image above, taken from the 7th Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report for 2017, shows that 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing to some degree.

The report, conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, found that 63% of businesses in North America are extremely committed to using effective content marketing, and details that 19% of all businesses surveyed are very successful in their content marketing approach, while 53% (the majority) are moderately successful. Keeping these statistics in mind, the question is, what do they contribute this success to? The top three factors include:

  • Spending more time developing effective and quality content (85%)
  • Spending time on developing or adjusting current content marketing strategies (72%)
  • Making content marketing a greater priority (53%)

So, why aren’t some businesses successful when it comes to B2B content marketing? The report identifies the main factors contributing to B2B marketers’ stagnancy in success in content marketing are:

  • Not enough time devoted to content marketing (52%)
  • Content creation challenges (49%)
  • Strategy issues, including a lack of strategy or lack of strategy adjustments (49%)

While these factors present challenges in developing successful content marketing strategies, consistency, commitment and the development of a goals-driven strategy can help overcome them. This is not to say that content marketing will drastically increase your profit margins within the first few weeks; but, if delivered consistently over time, making content marketing a priority means that there is a greater chance of your marketing efforts being far more successful.

One thing is certain – if 89% of B2B marketers are using content marketing, your competition is definitely using content marketing too (you snooze, you lose, as they say). Don’t fall behind and lose potential business. Make the most of your brand, and invest in developing an effective and consistent content marketing strategy today.

Curious about how you can develop an effective content marketing strategy? Give WJ a call, and we’d be happy to help you get started.

Three Tips to Design a Content-Heavy Website

Does your website need to provide audiences with lots of information?

As websites have evolved, we have seen the need to fill more space and hold more content than ever before. Many businesses have struggled with pulling off the tricky balancing act of designing a good website that is content-heavy. Do it wrong and you risk information overload, and your audience is quickly frustrated and navigates away from your website. Get it right, however, and you gain a new audience member who not only understands your message, but also might just spread the word on your website. Based on our experience designing and developing websites for over 15 years, we have summarized three key factors you should consider addressing when designing your website.

Three tools to tackle the challenge of creating content-rich websites

  1. Whitespace

Misunderstood and underappreciated, whitespace allows content room to breathe. It improves legibility and invites the audience in. Whitespace makes the audience feel more comfortable, and make it easier for them to absorb, and therefore remember, your message. The two ads below show the difference whitespace can make to the message:

The two ads use the same content and photography, but the ad on the right utilizes whitespace to create a different look and feel. Notice how whitespace gives text room to breathe, and is more inviting than the ad on the left.

  1. Visual Hierarchy

An important way to make webpages easy to grasp in a hurry is to ensure that the appearance of elements on the page accurately portray the relationships between the elements on the page. This means visually implying the relative importance of different content in a clear manner. Important elements should be larger, bolder, in a distinct colour, set off by more white space, or some combination of the above. The example below shows clear visual hierarchy, where elements that are larger, bolder, and set off by more white space are implied as more important.

The important elements are made clear because they are larger, bolder, and set off by more whitespace. It is clear to the audience which elements are more important, so the audience is able to scan for the content they are looking for.

  1. Grids, Boxes and Borders

Segment the information into visual categories to show how they are related. The audience is more comfortable scanning organized buckets of information rather than a jumbled mess of data. By organizing content into a rigid, consistent structure, there is less effort required to process it, and the audience can navigate without frustration. The example below shows how grids and boxes can be used to segment a content-rich website.

The grid structure combined with boxes and colour identifiers (i.e., Orange for “News”, Purple for “People”, etc.) effectively segments information into buckets. This enables the audience to find content that interests them in an intuitive manner.

Wrapping It Up

As the examples above show, it is possible to create a website that is both content-rich and engaging for an audience. The challenge is designing strategically, deliberately planning the layout, typography, and graphical elements to ensure that the website is both welcoming and engaging.

At William Joseph, our team of strategists and designers rely on research and design strategy to accommodate all your content in a compelling website. We carefully craft visual designs that present dense content in a clear and effective manner, and encourages your audience to visit and read what you have to offer.

Understanding Push and Pull Strategies

Companies, both B2B and B2C, engage in a range of marketing strategies to get their message and product to customers. One way these strategies are categorized are as Push and Pull or Outbound and Inbound marketing.

What are Push and Pull Strategies?

Simply put, a push strategy is to push a product at a customer, while a pull strategy pulls a customer towards a product. Push strategy is a quick way to move a customer from awareness to purchase, while pull strategy is about creating an ongoing relationship with the brand. Both serve a purpose in moving the customer along the journey from awareness to purchase, however pull strategies tend to be more successful at building brand ambassadors.

While some companies decide to adopt one or the other it is important to find a complementary balance between the two. Choosing your marketing strategy and tactics should be done carefully and with a thorough understanding of your business, current brand awareness, and target audience. For example, launching a new unknown product would require more push than an established brand.

Push and pull tactics within the larger strategy should work together seamlessly to move the customer through their journey. For example, the impact of a flyer in the mail is lost without a website for the customer to visit to learn more. Modern consumers are savvy and require several interactions with a company and product before engaging.

Facebook: Using Push and Pull within the Same Tool

Facebook continues to be one of the most popular social media sites with 1.94 billion monthly users worldwide (March, 2017).  As a platform, Facebook provides an easy to understand model of how to create a complementary balance of push and pull marketing strategies. For example, drawing users to your page can take a combined approach.

Push Strategy: Facebook Advertising and Boosted Posts
One of the necessary tenants of push marketing is to know your audience. Once you have established your audience you can target them through Facebook advertising and boosted posts. Facebook allows you to specifically target users by age, demographic, location, socio-economic status, and interests. An ad that runs in a potential customers feed will push them to your Facebook page and/or website to make a purchase.

Pull Strategy: Search Engine Optimization
Potential customers who have a need will search keywords. If you have a robust Facebook About description and an active presence on Facebook, top hits will pull users to your Facebook page.

Now You’ve Got Them: Keep Them Engaged
Once potential customers have been pushed or pulled to your page, the next step is to keep them engaged with your company or product and convert them into brand ambassadors. Avoid broadcasting to your followers, but instead start a conversation that pulls them to you. A strong conversation and interesting content will generate word of mouth.

Watch other social media channels and track trends to know which conversations to have and how to keep things relevant. Cultural commentary can often be just the thing to pull others to your brand.

Analytics Are Your Friend
Traditionally, push strategies were targeted and pull strategies threw a wide net in the hopes of catching the right prospects. Online or on Facebook you are still throwing a wide net, but digital mining and analytics help to understand who is engaging with what you put out there. Use these analytics to better understand your audience and then apply this knowledge to your push strategy by further targeting your ads.

Facebook analytics will help you to understand who comments on your posts and most importantly who clicks to purchase as a result. These analytics are key in understanding what works and what does not.

Conclusion

Like any marketing strategy or initiative, push and pull strategies require planning and consideration of the audience and the marketplace. Each tactic and campaign should be monitored, reviewed and revised on a regular basis. Digital analytics enable marketers to develop a comprehensive understanding of their audience allowing them to determine the best possible push and pull strategies to move their customers from awareness to purchase and beyond into raving fans and ambassadors.

The Age of Influencer Marketing

Some could argue that word-of-mouth is the original social media platform. We care a lot about the opinions of those nearest and dearest to us, which is why personal recommendations carry such weight in our decision-making process. Social media has taken the concept of word-of-mouth to a whole new level, characterized by the frequency, immediacy and influence we come to expect from our favourite social platforms. For business owners, engaging online is a must to build awareness, expand your audience and ultimately drive sales and one of the most powerful ways of creating digital connections is through Influencer marketing.

There’s been a lot of buzz around Influencers lately, but how exactly do we define these elusive entities, and how do you target the right Influencers for your brand? There’s a huge misunderstanding online when it comes to the term “Influencer” since many who bear this label are really just popular. Influence is the ability to actually persuade someone into taking action.  Simply put, Influencers are normal people who have an above-average impact on a group of consumers active in a specific niche demographic. An Influencer doesn’t necessarily just have a large following on social media, they have the right following: namely, your target audience.

First determining your target audience and then identifying the people that they connect with is key before trying to track down an Influencer to engage. Tools like Snapfluence and Klout can help you determine who is most actively engaged with your target audience. Another trick for finding Influencers is looking to those who are already in your network and following your activity. While perhaps not on the same scale as some Influencers determined via a tool like Snapfluence, the people already engaging with your brand can be powerful promoters within their own personal networks.

Influencers have built trust within their online community and are seen as thought-leaders. One of the best ways to engage an Influencer is to provide him or her with a compelling story surrounding your product and service, and define the action you’d like their audience to take once your product or service is shared.  It’s important that your story be authentic, since people who follow Influencers resonate with their personal brand and the messages they share.  An Influencer’s ability to craft and curate compelling content is what sets them apart and helps fuel their digital community-building. As such, Influencers are a great resource for helping develop content, but remember: Influencers are highly passionate about their niche interests and the information they share with their followers. Make sure you communicate your expectations clearly and recognize the importance of genuine connection and relationship building.

Influencer marketing can help you reach a larger audience within your interest area and as an added bonus, encourages the creation of user-generated content (one of the most powerful forms of promotion online.) When developing an Influencer marketing campaign, prioritize posts that inspire community engagement. Leveraging the power of the Influencer’s network in helping promote the creation of user-generated content builds awareness while creating new connections. Branded hashtag campaigns, photo sharing and liking the content created by those in your network are powerful ways to share your brand and build your digital audience.

Influencer marketing can empower your brand and help grow your following organically. The trust that Influencers have built within their digital networks can be leveraged to promote your products or services in a way that’s authentic, and resonates with your target audience. Once you’ve identified the right Influencers who speak to your target audience, giving these key figures the opportunity to tell the story of your brand to their followers will drive engagement and encourage others to connect with your brand, which is the ultimate goal.

5 Creative Valentine’s Day Campaigns

Valentine’s Day, once relegated to the saccharine realm of romance, now provides the perfect platform for brands to channel their creativity and connect with customers. Businesses are thinking outside the chocolate box with clever marketing campaigns that leave a lasting impression. Important to note, effective Valentine’s Day campaigns don’t have to necessarily reflect your business’ service offerings. What’s important is that they build brand awareness and create an emotional connection with the customer. Here’s a look at some of our favourite Valentine’s Day campaigns.

WestJet
An undisputed champ of viral video campaigns, WestJet’s #WestJetLove commercial details the love stories of two unassuming couples. The airline flies the pairs out to the Barbados and sets the stage for an epic, surprise proposal. The ad doesn’t make mention of WestJet’s business, but rather appeals to its customers’ emotional sensibilities and succeeds in hitting the heart strings. This all-around feel-good video spot is aligned with WestJet’s previous video campaigns and effectively celebrates its commitment to customer connection.

Ford
This Valentine’s campaign for Ford takes speed dating to a whole new level. Unsuspecting speed daters go for the ride of their lives in a Ford Mustang, and it’s all captured by hidden camera. The campaign is effective in grabbing our attention and keeping it while showcasing the product’s features and functionality. It’s the awkward and amusing dynamics inherent to a blind date that help build an emotional connection, however, that drive the success of this campaign.

https://youtu.be/3Nyr1Ao7iZA

Doritos
This Canadian-centric Valentine’s Day campaign allows fans to send a free, festive bouquet of twelve Ketchup-flavoured Doritos roses to that special someone. The campaign website www.doritosketchuproses.ca features a crafty DIY tutorial, a kitschy video and above all, comedic value. Nothing says I Love You like the perennial Canadian classic, ketchup chips.

Netflix
As the preeminent source of the cultural phenomenon that is binge-watching, the Valentine’s Day spot titled Binge for Love resonates with anyone who has lost a day (or three) to a Netflix marathon. This light-hearted video speaks to the things we do for love – in our modern era, that looks a lot like catching up on the subject of our affection’s favourite show. Cultural relevance: check. Cheeky sing-a-long: check. Budding romance: check. The Valentine’s Day trifecta.

https://youtu.be/pWCOwJD0r9w

Deadpool
With a release date scheduled for Valentine’s Day 2016, the Deadpool movie posters were re-worked and given the romantic-comedy treatment to showcase the film in a different, albeit amusingly misleading light. Under the guise of the rom-com oeuvre, the re-imagined posters perfectly complement the film’s witty, sarcastic tone and foreshadow Deadpool’s irreverence to Superhero norms. For those unfamiliar with the Deadpool brand, these Valentine’s Day posters would also be suitable on April 1st.  This tongue-in-cheek campaign succeeds by appealing to fans of the franchise who are in on the joke, while sparking curiosity in the minds of unassuming others.

Original Movie Poster:

Valentine’s Day Movie Poster:

Brilliant Holiday Campaigns 2016

Ah, the holiday season. The time of the year that has us brimming with anxious excitement, as we try to ensure everyone has a gift with their name on it under the tree, enough sugar cookies have been baked, and all the loose ribbons have been have been tied up.

This is also the time of year when the media begins to become peppered with Holiday campaigns, large and small. At first, the smattering of green and red themed commercials is light, but as December approaches, the media is engulfed, by the good, the bad, and the funny.

The team at WJ has been diligently keeping our eyes peeled, searching high and low for the perfect campaigns to gift to you, and here is what we ended up buying… into:

HotelTonight , “Visit, Don’t Stay”

HotelTonight is a mobile travel app that allows users to search for discounted hotel accommodation. Being that the holidays contribute to a huge influx in travelling plans, the company launched a campaign that taps in to the widely-spread notion that while a bit of family can be great, sometimes a lot of family can be… a bit too much.  HotelTonight uses a multitude of mediums, including social media, print, and audio ads, to display comical, yet relatable messages to invoke people to “visit, not stay”, at their relative’s homes over the holiday season.

Waitrose, “Home for Christmas”

British supermarket chain Waitrose created a commercial that appeals to the emotional side and tugs at the heartstrings. The advert tells the tale of the onerous odyssey a young robin endures, in order to return home in time for the holidays. The robin battles against obstacles such as stormy seas, eagle talons and hungry weasels before being reunited with his mate and enjoying a holiday mince pie. The 90-second underdog story connected so genuinely with viewers that it is now being developed into a book.

H&M, “Come Together”

Retail giant H&M jumps aboard the trendy train of using big name actors and directors to create highly stylized and visually appealing commercials to showcase “H&M’s holiday collection full of relaxed, wearable elegance. It’s about mixing the informal with a sense of occasion, capturing the holiday mood for both dressing up and getting cozy with loved ones.” The short film tells the age-old story of passengers travelling to reunite with loved-ones for the holidays, but does so in a chic and elegant manner, marketing H&M apparel in an appealing manner throughout.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDinoNRC49c

The moral of this Christmas campaign story is simply this: there are numerous ways you can connect with your customer through your marketing campaigns. Whether you choose to use humour to break down the walls of tough-to-crack Millennials or tell an emotional story to touch your audience and strike a chord, it is essential that you tell your story and share your message with authenticity and honesty.

Making Digital Content the Foundation of Your Marketing Strategy

Why Content is Critical

Prospective clients in most industries now rely on websites, web searches, e-mail, and social media more than any other source of information to evaluate companies. Success in marketing now requires that companies have a healthy digital presence and marketing strategy. People expect to be able to engage with companies and evaluate them on their own terms and they are likely to forget about a service provider or supplier if they are not continually engaged. To thrive in this environment, companies need to demonstrate a high-level of expertise and engage prospective and current clients pre- and post-purchase. Smart content supported by an effective digital content strategy and strong digital tools is often the most effective means of doing this.

Marketing through smart content is not a new concept. For decades, consultancies and other professional firms and businesses have built their reputation partly on this concept. Since its founding, McKinsey & Company avoided outright promotional initiatives. Starting in the mid 1900s, the firm began sending current and prospective CEOs informative pieces of content authored by the firm. These “thought-leadership” pieces, so coined because they led thinking in the field, positioned the firm as an authority that stood above other experts in its field. Content makes up the core of most consultancies’ outreach to this day, and it has become a key fixture of their digital marketing strategies.

Though any company seeking to build a strong digital presence would benefit from an effective content strategy, companies selling complex solutions that have long or involved sales processes do especially. These companies need to establish credibility and expertise. For them, brief, captivating messages or a bullet point list of features and benefits does not do enough to demonstrate the company’s credibility or build confidence with prospective buyers that the company can offer effective solutions to sophisticated business needs. If you operate in this space, content, such as blog posts, white papers, and presentations, is an excellent cornerstone.

Along with demonstrating expertise and establishing credibility, content also keeps prospective buyers and clients engaged over a long buying decision process and between projects. Content is an effective way of staying top of mind without being overtly promotional. It positions the company as a helpful advisor instead of one constantly seeking a sale.

How Can You Create and Leverage Effective Content?

To create effective content, you need to offer real value to your target audiences. You can subtly promote your services by writing about topics related to them and the industries you serve, but think about the questions and concerns of your customers. Don’t be pedantic or use too much professional jargon, instead speak in terms that resonate with your audience and really try to impart your knowledge to better equip the reader in his or her own professional career.

Once you have a strong piece of content and your data shows people are actually reading and sharing it, be sure to amplify its performance and distribute it through many channels and mediums: Begin sending out weekly, monthly, or quarterly e-newsletters that curate your best content, post it on your personal and company LinkedIn page, distribute it through Twitter and Facebook, and even use it in the real world. Talk to your customers about your content, turn high-performing content into talks for events, and package several as part of a magazine.

Content Alone Does Not Build a Strong Digital Presence

Content alone is not enough though. You should treat your content as one piece of your digital marketing strategy. Use small pieces of content to attract people to your main marketing asset, most often your website or mailing list, and give them so much value they want to subscribe to keep receiving more. This way you’ll be able to keep people engaged and will have built an audience you can stay in contact with at nearly no cost. You’ll often find that strong content is a much more cost effective tactic than more traditional display advertisements. If search traffic is an important source of leads for you, such as with a small business-focused law firm, content embedded with effective keywords will allow you to capture the interest of people searching key terms in your market.

Before you can benefit from your excellent content and tie it into the rest of your strategy, you have to ensure your other digital tools are in order, especially your website. Your strategy should be focused on building owned and earned media assets, which means you want to create assets that achieve your marketing objectives without you having to pay others for the attention. Your website is key in this regard. It is like your digital headquarters, and you never want to invite people over if your space isn’t in order. Doing so could lead others to lose confidence that you are a successful, credible organization. You don’t want an effective content strategy to drive traffic back to an ineffective website.

Conclusion

Strong content can—and often should be—the cornerstone of many businesses’ digital marketing strategy, but it must be tied into a larger digital marketing strategy and supported by strong digital tools, such as a website, e-newsletter, social media, and others depending on the organization. Are you using strong content backed by an effective strategy and even stronger tools to keep your customers engaged?