The Experiential Factor: How Event Design Drives Engagement

EventMarketingExperiential marketing gives businesses the chance to get back to basics and take their product directly to the customer. This innovative and flexible approach to marketing breaks down the business-consumer divide and puts the customer back at the heart of your business. When executed correctly, events can allow you to make profitable connections – in terms of potential leads and experience – and create B2C relationships that traditional advertising strategies just don’t have the potential to facilitate.

So how does it happen?

Why event marketing works

Last year, the Content Marketing Institute reported that 74% of B2C marketers think that in-person events are a more effective form of marketing than any other tactic. Although commercial advertising undoubtedly still has a place in any marketing arsenal, it doesn’t hold the consumer’s attention or allow them to experience a brand in the same way that an event can. Consumers are becoming progressively less impressed with tired and outdated promotional tactics, now searching for a more authentic business-to-customer experience – and it’s one-on-one engagement that makes this possible. Event marketing provides you with the opportunity to treat your consumers as individuals rather than statistics – and this acknowledgement of their worth is a way to convert brand loyalty into sales of your product or service.

Breaking the barrier

At the heart of experiential marketing, the aim is simple: to break down the barrier between the consumer and the brand. Once this divide is removed, you can begin creating authentic relationships with consumers – and this can have a monumental impact on your business.

Immersing your customers in a unique and memorable live experience means they’re not only likely to enjoy the event but also stand a greater chance of remembering your brand and what you stand for. This sort of positive engagement makes consumers more inclined to share their experience of interacting with your business with their friends and perhaps even other businesses. This all helps to spread the word of your brand – meaning you could end up reaching thousands of people by making a handful of connections at an event.

Your event

Event marketing is unique in that it provides one platform which can be utilised in a number of ways, according to each business. From bespoke companies to corporate chains, events provide a platform for everyone. When it comes to planning your marketing event, there are three golden rules to keep in mind:

  1. The consumer – Your target demographic should be at the heart of the whole process. From the way you initially approach them to any future contact, the purpose of the event is to reach out to prospects and immerse them in your brand by making authentic connections – and, done correctly, this will ultimately lead to future sales.
  2. The message – Events are an opportunity to showcase your brand, and this can be effective from the moment a consumer arrives at your stand. From your choice of colour scheme to the way you encourage audience participation, your presentation should be representative of your business in every possible sense.
  3. The follow up – Many businesses work hard to make their events a success by securing strong prospects, but they fall at the final hurdle by failing to follow up. Make sure you don’t lose out on a killer lead by contacting potential clients in a proactive and timely manner.

Experiential marketing allows you to take a flexible approach to the way you present your product – using face-to-face business-consumer engagement to create a powerful brand bond. Once this is established, the real brand experience can begin. By creating and implementing an airtight engagement plan, from event to follow up, you can keep the customer at the heart of your business at all times.

 

Sam WrightDisplay Wizard provides professional banner stands, pop up displays and exhibition stands to entrepreneurs across the UK, helping your brand leave a lasting impact.

 

What is a Reddit AMA and is it Right for My Client?

ama_screenEach month, reddit.com receives over 100 million unique visitors and billions of page views. With over 9,000 active communities centered around various topics and demographics, it is time for marketers to take a serious look at reddit as a marketing platform. One of the most rewarding strategies that marketers can start with is a reddit AMA.

What is reddit?

Reddit is a content sharing and community platform. The main unit of content on reddit is a “post”, which can only be submitted by users with a reddit account. People visit reddit to consume content and participate in communities (called “subreddits”) centered around their interests.

What is a reddit AMA?

A reddit AMA is a question and answer session between a reddit user and a reddit community (AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything”). AMAs are interesting because they are an efficient way for an individual to have an intimate conversation with a large community. The secret is reddit’s voting mechanism which allows the community to vote on the questions they submit to the user. Questions that are “upvoted” are pushed up the page and questions that are “downvoted” are pushed down the page. This allows the user to focus on the questions that are supported by the community and ignore the rest.

Here is an AMA by author Matthew Reilly:

During this AMA, Matthew responded to over 100 questions from reddit users. You can see in the copy of the AMA that Matthew linked to Amazon where users can buy his book.

Matthew’s AMA was done in the “IAmA” subreddit (pronounced “I am a”), which is a community dedicated specifically to reddit AMAs. The subreddit has over 7 million subscribers and is one of the largest communities on reddit, however, AMAs can happen in any subreddit. The IAmA subreddit is great if you want to connect with a general audience, but you can also engage more targeted communities by finding the right subreddit.

View Matthew Reilly’s AMA on reddit.

Why do a reddit AMA?

A reddit AMA is an opportunity to have an intimate conversation with a community that is interested in your client. An AMA can produce hundreds of positive interactions between your client and the community. AMAs often generate valuable feedback, interesting stories, and overlooked complaints.

Additionally, an AMA is an opportunity to promote something to a targeted community. AMAs are often used to promote product launches and events. They can also be used to simply generate brand awareness or to touch base with a specific community.

Is my client right for an AMA?

Determining if your client is right for a reddit AMA is very important. A client that is not ready for an AMA can have a bad experience that could negatively affect their brand. Here are the key attributes that make a client a good candidate for an AMA.

Unique experience, expertise, or authority

The client has to bring something to the table. A unique experience is interesting and entertaining to reddit users. Expertise ignites the curiosity of reddit communities and gives them someone that can answer their questions. Authority connects a reddit community to an influential leader and gives them a sounding board for their ideas.

Willing to answer almost any question about themselves and their business

Reddit users understand that some questions cannot be answered, but AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything” and they will hold the client to that if they think a question is fair. Do not suggest reddit AMAs to clients that have problems with transparency or authenticity.

Ready to put in the time and effort to connect with a reddit community

An AMA is not just another interview. The client must work with you to plan the AMA and be willing to learn about the reddit platform and reddit AMAs.

Also, the client must spend at least 1 hour answering questions during the AMA. These answers must be quality and detailed responses if they want to connect with the reddit community.

Next Steps

After you have identified a client that is right for an AMA, it is time to start planning the AMA. We created The Marketer’s Guide to reddit AMAs, which is a free and comprehensive guide to planning and executing a successful AMA. Download the guide here.

Bonus: I am happy to answer any questions you have about reddit and reddit AMAs. Post your questions in the comments section and I will help however I can!

 

david_digiovanniDavid DiGiovanni is a reddit marketing consultant. He helps clients engage their target audience on reddit with AMAs, advertising, and community development. He writes about reddit marketing on his blog, MarketersGuideToReddit.com.

 

5 Strategies Agencies can Use to Scale their SEO Business

Today’s guest post is from Dan Olson - Enjoy!

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photo credit:dreamstime

Trying to add and scale a marketing services function on top of everything else you do for your small local business customers is not easy! Miscommunications are commonplace in your overloaded inbox, and the inquiries from clients can seem never ending. It’s important for you to work with your team to set up winning strategies and continuously stay informed of campaign status, project progress, and marketing successes.

At UpCity, we recognize that you likely wear many hats as you execute campaigns for small businesses. We’ve talked to many consultants in your position, and have seen how steps to streamline processes and leverage technology can translate to substantial increases in efficiency, better working relationships, and ultimately, the ability to serve more clients more effectively.

We believe these five useful steps can help guide you and help you scale your SEO marketing consulting business.

1) Define Key Account Management Processes

The first strategy to scale your SEO marketing business is to define the processes by which your company  onboards new customers, contacts customers on a regular basis, and clarifies how much work it takes to achieve marketing success.

This will help to prevent future surprises and headaches (on both ends!), and ultimately help you to build be a successful account management function. Not only will your clients get a great first impression but they will know what to expect from you. Setting the ground rules for your team will allow you to hit the ground running with your scale strategy.

2) Client Education and Expectation Management

As many consultants and digital marketing specialists know, it is very difficult and time intensive to educate your prospects and clients on how SEO works, your search engine optimization process and the amount of time it can take to get results. Creating collateral and sales materials around these key areas can be really effective in this process. We also recommend utilizing reporting tools and systems to run audits to help the customer understand what they are doing well and maybe not so well, how that compares to their competition and what you can do to help them. Once the clients are better educated through this process, it is also important to set expectations on the time it can take for SEO strategies to be effective. As we all know, SEO takes time to see true results so setting those expectations early on will help build trust and position you and your client for long-term success.

3) Discovery and Data Capture

Now that you have established some key account management strategies above, it’s important to lay a solid foundation for your marketing operations practice. As part of bringing on a new customer it is important to have a solid discovery process by which you gather key inputs on high level items like business strategy and key differentiators as well as tactical items like website address, location information (name, address, phone number, hours of operation, etc) as well as all social assets and content. As you can see it’s a lot! It’s important to store this information in an easy, secure place (CRM systems, some marketing platforms) that all team members have access to and can leverage as they complete tasks on behalf of the customer.

4) Workflow Creation and Management

Once the inputs have been gathered in the discovery process, it is extremely important to create processes to determine what work or action plan needs to be implemented for a customer. When working with small local businesses, it is extremely important to start to standardize checklists and process to ensure key items are completed but also important to customize the process given the customers industry (ex. lawyer), geography, CMS and many other differentiating factors. Once these checklists and action plans have been determined then it’s important to be be able to delegate the right types of tasks to the right types of people within and outside of your organization. Having your action plans in robust systems instead of spreadsheets really allows you to scale your marketing operations practice and get it ready for serious growth. 

5) Measuring and Client Reporting

This final strategy may be the most important strategy need to scale your SEO services business. As many in the industry know it’s important to provide information and deliverables to clients but without a strategy this can require a significant amount of time and energy. It’s really important to clearly define the reports that are most important to a customer (ex. Analytics, Keyword Rank, Tasks Completion, etc) and work with systems to easily create and deliver these reports to your customers on a consistent basis. In the small business SEO world, monthly reporting seems to be the right frequency and should include an email and/or client meeting to talk through the reports and continue the client education process.

By following a couple of these five strategies above, you will definitely be positioning your SEO business for significant scale in 2015!

Don OlsonDan Olson is the Co-Founder and CEO of UpCity.com, the industry’s most robust SEO software and inbound marketing platform designed to help clients achieve local digital marketing success. Designed by pioneers in the search engine optimization industry, UpCity makes getting free traffic even easier. With a built-in “task engine,” UpCity creates personalized action plans and performance tracking reports to help guide each campaign to achieve measurable SEO success. As a stand-alone technology solution or as an extension of your services team, we partner with agencies to help them acquire, retain and scale their small business relationships.

 

 

The Importance of Competitive Intelligence

competition
Photo via PhotoPin

Competitive intelligence is a key factor in developing your business and gaining customers. What is competitive intelligence? As John says, “It is the under-developed muscle of marketing.” It is taking marketing, sales and consumer data about our competitors and using it to make strategic decisions for your company. Rather than just the typical grouping it into corporate strategy, competitive intelligence needs to be woven throughout our marketing plans and the marketing plans of our customers.

This week, we welcome Margaret Dawson, CMO of RivalIQ to talk more about integrating competitive intelligence into all aspects of our marketing plan.

During the Breakthrough Training Series call, Margaret walked us through the 10 core steps to marketing competitive intelligence:

  1. Market opportunity
  2. Positioning & messaging
  3. Developing your voice
  4. Prioritizing marketing channels
  5. Content marketing
  6. Social media
  7. Packaging & pricing
  8. Influencer marketing
  9. Report on your successes and learnings
  10. Make CI a core competency!

We would love to have you as part of our team!  Interested in learning more about the bi-weekly training calls and the rest of the benefits of joining the Network?  Click here to sign up for our next Discovery Call.

Shape up your buyer persona profile – 3 reasons, tips & mistakes to avoid

Today’s guest post is from Alexandra Recasan– Enjoy!

BuyerPersona (1)
photo credit: textlibrarian.com

How would you define success in marketing? Conversions galore? Skyrocketing ROI? Sprinkling  that with an attractive and efficient promotion and good interaction? That is a nice scenario we all want to share. But how do you start it all? By setting the right buyer persona.

Nowadays,  when consumers are allocating less attention to ads, we can undeniably say that we’re in the race for attention. In this context, unsurprisingly, we’re more inclined to take for granted opinions and advice from people we know, rather than the sponsored ads or email messages or you name it.

Given the situation, having a down to earth, true voiced and non-cliche buyer persona will make or break your business. It’s that simple. Let’s say that  if you were invited  to talk at a conference about coffee brewing, you wouldn’t share with your audience insights about pruning roses – unless there would be a secret link between coffee and roses.

In marketing, success arises from a deep understanding of “thy customers” – seeing through their eyes without having a magic customer scanning lens.  Let’s make a walkthrough the main benefits of developing the right profile, steps to achieve that and some piece of advice on how not to get sidetracked.

Why you should definitely develop that Buyer Persona?

  • Because your marketing  strategy, product development or brand message will turn out as good as your understanding of your audience. By setting a buyer persona  you can be more targeted  in a well-established context and thus become more relevant.
  • Because having  crafted your buyer persona will make the brand message building and tone of voice more true. Once that achieved the real conversation can begin.
  • Because a great buyer persona profile will guide you through finding  out what triggers activate your audience for long term engagement and eventually purchase.

Having settled that up, let’s get down to business and see what steps to consider when creating the buyer persona, besides the general known approach of gender, age and location.

Step 1: Check out on your existing customers

Which one of us would mind if someone asks us – How you’ve been lately? How are things going? Can I help? I for one wouldn’t mind at all. On the contrary. Same with your existing customers. Don’t overwhelm them with new promotions or giveaways announcements. Instead, open up and set up an online survey asking for their input on your products – how long have they been using it, how was the experience and what are they looking for when shopping for your products and services? That way you’ll get more than demographic data. You’ll get your buyer persona’s needs and expectations. Useful stuff right there.

Step 2: Discover the everyday journey of your customers

When designing it all you could well enough sit at your desk and imagine the journey of your customer, what a day in his lifetime looks like or… you could just get out there and be one of them.  Customer journey mapping allows you to step into the customers shoes and analyze customer experiences. That way new insights will surely pop out – valuable ones that could bring out that essential differentiator, that tone of addressing them without any corporate voice barrier. Your choice.

Step 3: Map their online behaviour

A good buyer persona profile is based on great insights from various mediums – and the online one is among the top. So, go ahead, start finding out what they are most likely to do online.  Are they consuming news, reading blogs, socializing, hunting promotions or giveaways? Afterwards track the time spent – how much of it is dedicated to reading, how much on socializing and so forth. Move on to discover their topic preferences – are they more into politics or education, sport or trend articles?  Knowing all that will further help you leave out generalities and shape a clear-cut profile. A recommended tool to start is Google Custom Audiences that offers  more flexibility in targeting users based on their interests.

Step 4: Nuance your buyer persona data

The more adapted to reality your buyer persona is, the better. And reality has a lot of aspects. Buying has a lot of prior stages. That’s why your customer profile shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all but well adapted to the typical marketing funnel – Awareness, Consideration, Decision. This allows you to understand how your buyers behave at each step of the process and to segment your communication strategy.

Mistakes to avoid when creating your first persona

Don’t rely your profile just on one individual – Maybe, who knows… Luck strikes and one day when you do your outdoor research you’ll meet that one customer that meets the quintessence of your desired buyer persona. It’s tempting to stop right there and draw conclusions but take a friendly advice – don’t yield  to that. A proper buyer persona profile is shaped of all your primary customers.

Let the “hunch” aside – Your customer’s age gender and location won’t tell you about their interests and needs. Conclude your research and let your customers speak up. Your buyer persona should be as real as possible and not a projection of your speculation.

Keep away from generic traits – Your persona shouldn’t be “between 30-45 years old.” It should have an exact age, specific interests  etc. Create several personas to represent different customer segments and make sure that each one represents one of your main groups of customers.

All things considered, keep in mind that the buyer persona is a perfectible tool which calls for a constant update in order to keep it clear-cut and meaningful.

Alexandra-RecasanAlexandra Recasan is a PR specialist with 123ContactForm, the form and survey builder that helps businesses streamline their feedback-gathering and other marketing processes. She works with small businesses and educational institutions on building their forms for data gathering, information management and more.