If there’s one thing we know that works when driving a brand message, it’s storytelling. Storytelling is something we talk a lot about in marketing, and are very aware that the right narrative can take your brand from ho-hum to resonating with an audience of thousands.
In an effort to expand my storytelling skills and knowledge, I will be attending the Storynomics masterclass with acclaimed film and TV project consultant and author of Story, Robert McKee. After years of creative success, he’s taken his storytelling approach and adapted it to a set of teachings to help marketers transform their stories from interruption to entertainment. In addition to the hands on training McKee will provide, Tom Gerace, CEO of Skyword will also be presenting on how to use storified messaging to achieve marketing and brand goals.
I’m looking forward to attending the seminar and embracing the learn part of Walker Sands’ three pillars, learn, support, do. If you care to join me on March 29 in Chicago, register here using code WALKERSANDS.
Last week, a few members of the Walker Sands team visited Catapult, Chicago’s peer-selected tech hub. We were joined by a handful of the current residents to help answer their questions and facilitate insightful conversation around how marketing can help to elevate their brands and reach their company goals.
Our very own John Fairley and Meghan Spork led the conversation and fielded questions surrounding the traditional PR and digital aspects needed for a well-rounded marketing program. The companies attending had diverse backgrounds ranging from law, travel to fintech, which led to interesting perspectives and fun conversations full of lots of new learning.
Here are a few key highlights from our discussion and helpful information for other startups looking to add marketing to their strategy:
- Press Releases – Too often startups issue a press release and think that reporters will come calling. That may have worked 15 years ago, but not anymore. And when operating with a limited budget, it’s important to understand when to issue a release over the wire and when it’s best just to post it on your website. Press releases are a great way to archive your company’s milestones and should live in a newsroom on your site. They’re great for SEO, helping to theme your website and can act as a good resource for you and prospects to reference.
- Social Media – When you’re running a business on limited resources, social media is an effective resource for grassroots marketing. Different platforms attract different audiences, so tailor your posts to who is reading. LinkedIn is a better place to reach VC firms and other possible investors, while Facebook and Twitter are better platforms for reaching your customers or potential new hires.
- Account Based Marketing – It’s the biggest buzz phrase for marketing in 2017 and for good reason! We touched on the psychological factors behind creating personal messages that go beyond your basic mail merge. Before you send out any personalized videos, emails or other content, it’s important to refine your list and target prospects based on their stage in the buyer journey and customize messaging that will resonate with them.
At the end of the discussion, we left the companies with a comprehensive tip sheet to help them integrate marketing into their startups. Here’s a few of key bullets from the sheet to help ramp up your marketing as well:
- Customers – Your initial customers will inject their passion for your product to help fuel vital content and collateral that can be used for promotion. Maintaining these loyal relationships will be crucial in launching your first marketing initiatives.
- Bandwidth and Focus – Forget about the CEO running the business and doing a little marketing on the side. It doesn’t work. Establish a marketing contact. This is your go to person who is focused on marketing and isn’t the founder—they’re fully immersed in the industry and have time to devote to setting up campaigns and looking into returns on your efforts.
- You’ll Need a Story to Get Press – Think critically and creatively. Gather your team together and think of all the possible angles you can take to leverage your brand. Does your founder have a story? Great! Recent product launch? Even better! As long as you have something interesting to share with the press, you’ll have an easier time getting placements.
When we approach planning with our clients for the new year, it’s usually about how we can help grow their companies. We discuss how we can target bigger audiences, execute on more creative campaigns and secure more media placements and leads than we did the prior year.
For marketers, a new year also means an opportunity to grow, learn new skills and refresh your marketing strategy. In the spirit of growth, here are five resolutions that should be on every marketer’s list in 2017:
- Track, measure, repeat: Accurate and consistent tracking are key for gauging the effectiveness of B2B marketing campaigns. Though it can be easy to get caught up in the hustle of a campaign, it’s important to make time to thoughtfully analyze how to move forward. By leveraging analytics, you’ll be able to ensure you’re targeting the right people with the right message while capturing some useful insights for future initiatives.
- Develop better content: Content was king in 2016, and the same will hold true for 2017. This year, marketers should ramp up their digital marketing efforts by integrating relevant SEO keywords into their content. To retain your brand’s status as a thought leader, create an editorial calendar to ensure you’re regularly publishing original content, newsletters and on social media.
- Attend industry webinars and conferences: Though conferences and workshops require travel and professional development budget, they provide marketers with valuable takeaways. Make a case for your presence at industry events, work it into your budget and make the most of every minute you’re there. Check out The CMO Club’s Spring Innovation Summit or the 2017 Marketo Marketing Nation Summit.
- Read a new marketing book: Between hectic work schedules and personal obligations, reading is something many people just don’t make the time for. But setting aside some time each week to read a new marketing book can reinvigorate passion for your job, provide new knowledge and expose you to new industry research. “Hacking Marketing” by Scott Brinker and “Driving Demand: Transforming B2B Marketing to Meet the Needs of the Modern Buyer” by Carlos Hidalgo are two of our go-to books.
- Try new things and think big: To jump start the year, hold a brainstorming session with your team to think of ways you can inject more creativity into your marketing efforts. It’s easy to fall into the same routine of what’s worked in the past, but marketers can avoid this mentality in 2017 by making a daily effort to think more creatively and come up with out-of-the-box ideas for their companies. Technology can also help marketers streamline their efforts — freeing up time for more strategic efforts. With the influx of new marketing software and devices, it’s important that marketers are open to trying new things this year.
While this is by no means an extensive list of the ways you can grow as a marketer, it’s a good place to start thinking about how you want to improve your department in 2017. Write your resolutions down in a spot you see often, and lean on your colleagues or friends to ensure you execute on your goals.
Marketers, what professional resolutions are on your list for 2017? Tweet us @WalkerSands!
In a rather unsuccessful attempt at escaping the bitter Chicago cold, I traveled to Texas for Digital Summit Dallas, a marketing conference focused on content, SEO, UX, strategy, and design. There were tons of great speakers from a wide variety of companies like Google, Cisco and Starcom. I was amazed at how much information they packed into two short days. Here are three quick insights, pulled straight from my 25 pages of type-written notes!
- Marketing is a massive fight for attention and we are rarely given permission. Keynote speaker and bestselling author Seth Gogin [google “Seth” to find his blog] explained how we are constantly vying for the attention of people online. The internet is the first form of mass media not intended for marketers but indefinitely abused by them. We demand a lot of our audience, with very little pay-off for them. Wouldn’t we be more effective if we talked to people who want to be talked to? Permission is letting your audience decide what is valuable to them and what is not. If you have the permission of people who a truly interested in what you’re selling, you can build a real and lasting relationship.
- Leverage your existing content to increase organic search traffic. 71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search. Marketers can improve their organic search results by keyword-optimizing content already on their site. Vertical Measures Director of Marketing, Quinn Whissen, advises that you look at pages that are performing poorly and revitalize the content with 1-2 target keywords and a couple of synonyms (semantic keywords). Republishing pages is a great way to get a lot out of your marketing efforts, and timely content does better in search engines. Quinn astutely quoted John F. Kennedy’s “a rising tide lifts all boats” to illustrate the SEO benefit to your website from refreshing its content. Increasing the search value of your pages will go a long way towards generating more traffic and leads site-wide.
- The website should be the focal point of the marketing mix. A common goal of PR, email, social and SEO/PPC campaigns is to drive traffic to the website. If the onsite user experience is horrible, all your marketing efforts are essentially nullified. No amount of traffic is going to capture qualified leads when your users can’t figure out what your services are. Why spend time and money on a PPC campaign that directs users to an overwhelming landing page with outdated messaging? Make your website worth your users’ time. If conversions are low and exit rates are very high site-wide, it might be time to revisit your website strategy and UX.
Overall, the conference focused on improving the experience of users across all marketing channels and provided a good combination of tactical and aspirational insights. Anyone who is involved in marketing would benefit from this conference series; there are multiple U.S. events throughout the year. I am thankful for the opportunity to experience a new city and receive some great takeaways for the new year in digital marketing.
A year ago, Walker Sands published the first State of Marketing Technology whitepaper, indicating that the industry’s evolution and adoption of new marketing technology was taking a full speed ahead approach. This year’s report found that the momentum has remained steady, and marketers show no signs of slowing down.
Walker Sands’ MarTech team conducts an annual survey to over 300 marketers; analyzing their actions and and attitudes towards making technology purchase decisions. Each year, the findings are compiled into a white paper. This year’s study is titled Walker Sands State of Marketing Technology 2017 Closing the Gap Between Martech Innovation and Adoption. In the video our martech thought leaders discuss how marketers are eager to embrace best-of-breed solutions rather than single-vendor suites, and give predictions for the year ahead.
Watch the video to learn more about our findings in the 2017 State of Marketing Technology study.