Blogs and insight related to content marketing in the digital world.

Professional photographer capturing images for marketing materials.

Photography in Marketing: Three Elements to Enhance Your Brand

Pictures speak louder than words. Images can evoke emotion that text can’t. And photography is a visual representation of a story. To most businesses, content equals text, but quality pictures and professional photography is essential if you want to attract more customers. Regardless if some individuals are visual learners or not, it’s been proven that people are drawn to pictures much more than text. This is why having a solid mix of text and photo content is essential for your marketing material.

So how can you judge what would be known as quality photography? How can you incorporate that quality photography into your marketing strategy? Three main elements will help you stay on course with that.

Authenticity

Steel worker loading delivery truck for a photography shot.

Authentic photography can evoke powerful emotion regardless of industry subject matter.

High-end cameras are available to the general public pretty easily these days. Even smartphone cameras now possess the capability to capture high-resolution images. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make whoever is holding the camera an expert in “capturing the moment.” When representing your company, you want truly authentic visual images. Images evoke emotion in viewers, so it’s important that you are displaying photography that will create the feeling you want your viewers to feel in order to attract customers. Hiring professional photographers or art directors to capture those types of images is worth the cost if you want a well designed website or well designed print content.  

Hiring an art director or professional photographer can be very helpful in evolving your brand. It’s pretty easy to tell which businesses use stock photos for their marketing. Although stock photography isn’t a distasteful means of content and certainly should be utilized at times, it does at times give off a “cheesy” feel. Website viewers may be turned off by inorganic and inauthentic photos being used to convey the actual business or product. Professionals will know how to capture the story of your business and use those pictures to develop your brand in a visual way.

Uniqueness

Machinery cutting wood with sawdust flying off.

Photography can capture the uniqueness of your brand with the simplest details.

Expanding on the idea of stock photography as a replacement for your personalized images is that stock photos are available to the rest of the online public as well. After a while, it becomes easier to identify certain stock images because they quickly become overused. The tighter niche your business is in, the more difficult it will be to find stock photos that represent what you offer. You may even find yourself asking “have we used this one before?”.

Having a cache of photography offers your marketing department a much wider array of options for marketing material. Not only that but the collection of photos that you will have will be unique to your business only. They will highlight your performance as a company, and be representative of what you specifically offer your clientele. Your own photography then becomes an extension of your brand.

Quality

High angle imagery of a steel cutting machine in a steel production warehouse.

Professional photographers use lighting and camera placement to capture quality imagery for marketing.

Because online customers are more likely to look at images as opposed to text, it’s important that quality remains central to your photography. Remember, photography is an extension of your brand, so you need to make sure your images are sending out the right messages, and that they are representing your business in the best light possible. This is why good photography is vital to a successful brand.

If you’re thinking about when you will have the opportunity to showcase these images, you must realize that there is endless amounts of possibilities to use and reuse your professional photos. Professional photography is truly an investment for your marketing efforts because the images that come from it can be used in print resources, website pages, and even social media posts. Keeping your content fresh and appealing will help build a stronger following of brand advocates and customer base.

For Social Media Success, Focus on Your Personality

So we’ve established that we need to get hip with the times and hop on the social media bandwagon. We need to tweet, post, instachat, linkbook… and stuff. It’s how we connect to our customers, it’s how we gauge their interest in us, it’s how we stay relevant and facilitate a conversation with the world about who we are and why we’re important. Let’s talk about the importance behind figuring out the who in this process.

WHO AM I?

When putting together your social media presence, think about the culture of your business and how to translate that into a social media personality. A business specializing in construction work is going to have a very different personality than an interior design firm. Think about who you will be online.

life-style-lifestyles-thinking

If your business were a person, what kind of person would they be? Do they have a sense of humor? What types of blogs or websites do they follow? Where do they find their news? Is their speech more casual or scholarly? What are their hobbies? What do they wear to a party? What are they an expert at? What kinds of friends do they have, and who are the people they want to hang out with?

It may be helpful to have a brainstorming session and work together within your team to understand across departments the type of personality you want your viewership to understand and encounter. Having a concrete personality will not only help when making decisions about social media posts and engagement, but this personality will permeate your work culture as well. Taking ownership of this persona will even help in decision-making at levels out in the real world. Your team will know what they are a part of, they’ll want to be a part of it, and invest this personality into their work.

 

WHO ARE THEY?

Check out your competition. If you’re a small chocolate shop that’s been around for a long time but hasn’t yet made the leap toward a social media presence, you’ll want to check out what other chocolate shops are doing. What’s Coco Cathy in the next town over posting on her social media pages? Research other small chocolatiers to find out what they’re talking about, and take note. How are they connecting with their client base? How are they plugging into their community to facilitate positive relationships and presence in real life?

Within the competition, you’ll surely find some that stand out more than others. Feel free to follow them! We are beyond the days of stealthy spy-like moves when it comes to checking out the competition. If you “like” and “follow” other inspiring businesses in your industry, it fosters camaraderie and builds a network of support. Chances are, these trailblazers will reciprocate by following you back or even welcoming you(!) which only increases your opportunity to flourish. Don’t think of other businesses as something to conquer, but as an opportunity to learn and grow from one another.

goats-competition-dispute

Once you’ve compiled a solid idea of what the conversation is around chocolate on social media, you’ll know what to start posting and blogging about in order to draw an audience toward you. Of course you don’t want to copy everything, but checking out what others are posting and talking about is a great building block toward your own success. This gives you a foundation to build off of. This gives you a space from which to start thinking, “Okay, how are we going to do this even better? How are we going to stand out? How are we going to be a part of this conversation?”

 

WHO’S FOLLOWING ME?

Take a step even deeper. Who are the people engaging in your social media pages? You can look into Facebook’s Insights to learn more about the people following your page.

What are their ages, gender, geographical location? What do they click on, what are the posts they enjoy?  

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By doing some investigating you’ll be able to get an idea of who your audience is beyond just clicks, likes, and views. If you aren’t quite to a place where you can do this investigating within your own social media pages, snoop around a little to see who’s following your competition.

Once you’ve gathered this information, you’ll be ready to create what’s called an Audience Persona. You can check out a step by step guide here, but basically you want to really get into the nitty gritty of who your audience is. Just as you personified your business, personify your audience. It’s very easy within the world of social media and marketing in general to see people in terms of numbers and statistics through a screen. This is the downfall of many businesses in a world where people are asking for authenticity, honesty, and connection. Your audience consists of moms, students, lawyers, teachers, and more. They are people with real ideas, feelings, and interests. Make your audience real in your mind, because they are real.

crowd-at-the-concert

By tapping into who you are and who your audience is, you’re better equipped to connect and engage. You’re now positioned to notice common threads between the types of people engaging in chocolate shop social media pages. You’re also set for tapping into those common threads by introducing yourself and engaging people in a new and different way. Cheers!

How to Ace Social Media in Less Than a Day

We hear it all the time, “I just don’t have the time to keep up with Social Media.” For a small or medium sized business looking to grow, sometimes social media engagement ends up on the back burner or ignored altogether. Perhaps it’s because you’re not convinced it would be time well spent, perhaps because you don’t believe you have the time, or (more typically) because Social Media has left the impression in your mind of an unmanageable and overwhelming technological beast. The fact of the matter is, your social media presence comprises up to 15% of your Google ranking. That means, all other variables the same, if you don’t partake in social media you will suffer against your competition. In order to win at Online Marketing you must at least take a jab at the Social Media Beast. Today we’re going to debunk all your worries and show you how to take charge of social media management in house.

9:00am:

Coffee, Email, Notifications

I walk into the office and grab a cup of my favorite local brew. The warm mug between my hands is the signal to my brain that my day is officially off to a start. Opening up my emails I check for any fires to be put out, native content from clients, or articles sent my way to use as postings for the week.

9:30am

Buzz, All The Free, and Google

BuzzSumo.com is a great tool for finding what’s trending on any topic.  

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Here you can see we searched the word, “Trending”. On the right we can see where articles are being shared and how popular they are. We use these numbers to inform where and how we will post to our own pages. On the left we can specify the timespan for better filtering. Of course we always want the most recent and most popular curated content. Posting content that was created more than a year ago is a big no-no. We want the latest and greatest to bring followers to our pages.

AllTheFreeStock.com is the best stock photo bank we have found thus far. 

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Enter a description for the type of photo you’re looking for, and reap the benefits. When choosing, make sure you keep your target audience in mind and pick photos that are eye catching.

Want a quick “Happy Monday” meme, or other simple image? Easy as pie. Post as is with catchy copy, or load into a photo editing program like PhotoShop for a different look. In just a few minutes you can customize your image to make it uniquely yours.

Lastly, make sure to keep an eye out for Attribution Requirements. Best practices are to at least give a shout out to the source.

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Google.com, of course we can’t get through the task of finding relevant and trending information without mentioning Google.

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Again, by utilizing the filtering features to find the most recent and relevant information for your topic you’ll be able to quickly find outstanding content to engage your users.

10:00am

Scheduling

Now that I’m up to date on the latest and greatest in my field, and I’ve found rockstar content for my page, I’m ready to schedule my posts for the week.

If you don’t already use Hootsuite, Buffer, or a similar social media management platform, we highly recommend the investment. Most platforms are able to accommodate modest budgets for emerging businesses. If you have questions please reach out and we’re happy to offer a free consultation.

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Within your platform you’ll be able to load in all of your social media pages to see both what you’re posting as well as what is trending on your home page. By following similar businesses, interests, or topics, you’ll be able to establish your online network. Sharing and reposting from those you’re following is a great way to foster these relationships, gather followers to your own pages, and get your posts in for the week! Of course there’s a fine line between promoting the competition and making connections… but that’s a topic for another day.

By scheduling your posts for the entire week all at once, you save time and energy to put toward other tasks. If you notice some breaking news after you’ve already scheduled your posts, it’s simple to post more than one piece of content in a day.

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Here you can see that by clicking on the Calendar Icon, we were able to schedule a day and time in the future for this post to go live.

11:00am

What’s Next?

Welcome to an early lunch. What’s on your plate for the day… roast beast?
Photo credit: Book Worm Laser & Design via Visual Hunt / CC BY

Case Study: Regional Distributor

BACKGROUND:

A regional distribution entity of an international manufacturer collaborated with us to set up an automated online lead generation system for their four Michigan Locations. They struggled with leads coming from their website being less cost effective than others.

IMPLEMENTATION:

First we customized an analytics framework and implemented advanced conversion tracking techniques to give them a better pulse on their online lead platforms. Then we focused on increasing exposure for their digital assets. We started SEO, as well as display advertising across a potential of 90% of websites online. We also began to retarget their existing user base. We were then instrumental in developing a social proof program – gathering reviews from an existing customer base and distributing display based reviews via social media.

RESULTS

With the integration of multiple advanced techniques, we were able to not only double their expected website leads per primary season, but by automating their lead processing, we decreased their cost-per-lead by 62%.

casestudy2

Case Study: Consumer Products

BACKGROUND:

A well-known, international outdoor recreation products manufacturer hired Paramount to engineer an online marketing and advertising structure for two of their best selling products.

IMPLEMENTATION:

After being instrumental in the redesign of their website and copywriting almost all of the content and product descriptions for a 200+ page website and e-commerce engine, we went to work getting the word out about their signature products. We implemented SEO for the entire site and developed an advertising structure that include everything from PPC, to Display Ads and Behavioral Retargeting. Our team even connected them with a popular national outdoor television show, to expand their reach into a vital market.

RESULTS:

With the proactive approach and customized blueprint for their online program, Paramount was able to increase their web traffic by an average of 175% every month for the next 12 Months – many months seeing as much increase as 250%. This brought their company’s average traffic from 30,000 to an average of over 70,000 visits per month.

Website traffic month over month

new marketing trends in 2017

Lead Scoring – Buyers earning points for your time.

Lead Scoring Defined:

  1. Lead scoring is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organization. The resulting score is used to determine which leads a receiving function (e.g. sales, partners, teleprospecting) will engage, in order of priority.

       From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_scoring

 

Ranking prospects and understanding their buying potential is an art, but the methodology is logical, strategic and proven. Lead scoring increases your organization’s efficiency and effectiveness because instead of repeatedly marketing to the same leads, you can develop a good lead scoring framework to ensure you’re spending the bulk  of your time on leads that are ranked the highest: or HOT leads. You will shorten sales cycles, improve conversion rates, and yield higher-than-average contract values. Ultimately, our goal as full-service marketing automation strategists is that the practices  will be extremely apparent in your organization’s bottom line.

The User’s Journey

Behavioral and psychological aspects are important to take into account when developing a good lead scoring system. Many organizations struggle with behavioral scoring and only score on basic behaviors such as  web visits, downloads, and form fills. But tracking where the user is at in the buyer’s journey is the most integral and impactful solution lead scoring can provide.

Tracking behavioral scoring can lead to errors and poor leads if the buyer’s journey isn’t considered. The key to lead scoring is understanding what criteria is necessary to determine if this is a viable lead or something that wastes valuable time. If you know that your product or service is only suitable for organizations greater than $50m in revenue, then qualifying an organization for $1m is a waste of time for both the buyer and the seller. Determine what demographic keys are necessary in order to produce the highest quality leads for sales, prioritize those criteria, and score accordingly.

Don’t forget to stay focused on the buyer in order to position them correctly. It is also extremely valuable to be able to score intent as well as behavior. Impossible you say? Think of this in terms of a more traditional sales cycle: simply because you are talking to the decision maker in your target call and a need has been established for your product or service, does not necessarily mean that they are ready to buy right now. How immediate is the need? To get an idea of timeline, don’t ask when they will be making a decision. Instead, ask how important it is to spend money to fix this problem within the next three months. If they provide a low value for that query, they probably aren’t moving forward anytime soon and you can put them into a follow up nurturing campaign.”

Collaboration Wins

For high-quality lead scoring to work properly, it is absolutely vital for sales and marketing to work together. Timing is LITERALLY everything. It’s important to have a clear sense of when a buyer is ready to be approached by the sales team. The sales team will be competing for their attention if they are too late, but going in too early is a waste of sales time and resources. I saw this quote from Cliff on Marketo’s Website:

Cliff Pollan of Postwire (@cliffpollan) knows, “The goal of lead scoring is to get the ‘right’ leads into the hands of sales at the right moment. Flood the team with too many leads, and they spend too much time on leads that are not qualified and miss getting to the ‘good’ leads. Often, we think of lead scoring as helping to identify needles in the haystack. More likely we are trying to identify the best needles in what looks like a stack of needles.”

The Sales Cycle

The role of sales teams in lead scoring cannot be overstated and is vital to the sales process. Salespeople can monitor what type of leads convert, and give feedback on the timing of the sales cycle and when, in their experience, are the best touch points.

We recommend that sales and marketing teams (in many cases, we’re our clients’ 360 degree marketing team) to meet regularly to review the cycle, look for trends, and adjust the scoring process as factors change. Here are some potential review topics we suggest:

  • Take the top 10 leads for the month, as determined by the software, and discuss what made them the top. See which leads moved most quickly from lead to true opportunity.
  • Take all (or 10 or so) deals that closed last month and review their lead characteristics.
  • Look at leads sourced by sales, and determine the variables of each that became opportunities and/or closed. Try applying those same principles to your lead scoring strategy. If those leads are converting better than those sourced via online channels, you might be missing something in your scoring process.
  • What happened to the lost leads – why were they lost? Were they given to sales at the wrong time? Where they not the right people – not the decision maker? Is their market segment not a good fit for your business?

The Simple Sell

If your marketing team is scoring leads properly, then the sales team will have the right customer at the right time. Although building a lead scoring process takes time and testing, good communication and collaboration between sales and marketing teams will bring home wins more often guaranteed. As mentioned above, we partner with our clients to offer full circle marketing solutions, and lead scoring is single-handedly one of the most impactful solutions we offer. Start with a free web analysis on our site, and we can talk more about what’s possible.

SEO and Social Media are the Ketchup & Mustard. Not the Burger.

Across every industry, whether selling to consumers or other businesses, organizations are embracing content marketing. Many are evolving their marketing departments to include roles like Chief Content Officer and Brand Journalist. Along with this, the digital marketing industry is fast-developing best practices and new tactics to understand and leverage the psychology behind how users engage with content online.

While most digital operators realize the synergy between content marketing, search engine optimization and social media exists; many organizations still don’t fully grasp how to integrate them properly for maximum effect. As content marketing evolves and does so swiftly, there are also some misconceptions about what content marketing really is.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the realities of incorporating your online marketing effectively. We’ll offer ways to focus on the best of search, social and content marketing and the common myths that keep impactful integration at bay.

Be the Best Answer

In this day-and-age, hungry users are bombarded with information all day every day. But the key there is “hungry”. We can assume people WANT the information, products and services you have, otherwise you wouldn’t be in business. But the digital world is noisy, it’s consumers are busy, and it’s competition is fierce. In order for organizations to be credible, and cut through the crowd of their competition; they’ll need to focus on optimized, socialized and publicized content.  While SEO delivers rich, relevant, at-the-ready answers to buyers via search, social media offers an opportunity to engage and connect directly, and publicity through influencer relations provides credibility and additional reach: they ALL rely on content to achieve success.   

Another assumption we can make, in addition to consumers having a desire for what you offer, is that consumers go to the internet to answer questions. 60% of online consumers START their buying process via a search engine. It is the goal of a search engine to offer the most relevant and authoritative result for any and every possible query. This means, it should be the goal of your organization to “be the BEST answer” to every question related to what you do.

SEO is the Ketchup, Not the Burger

More than keywords and links, search engine optimization is an important part of the success equation when it comes to content marketing. While SEO has traditionally been able to drive online marketing performance on its own, search engine updates to address content quality and the more conversational nature of search behavior have combined with the growing popularity of social networks to change the SEO landscape forever.

We all regularly hear of the algorithm changes happening within Google consistently. While keeping up with this fast-paced chase of cat and mouse can be daunting, this is how Google maintains their household name for the best possible place to answer any possible question. And you want to be a part of that action. Still, while SEO has traditionally been able to drive online performance on its own, Google’s updates have increasingly emphasized content quality as well as addressed search behavior that is able to assist an increasingly “conversational” searcher. Combine this with the growing popularity of social media networks – and Google HAS addressed this too – and the SEO landscape now looks quite different than it did even a couple years ago.

Think of SEO this way: If a customer-focused content marketing program is the burger, then SEO is the ketchup. It touches nearly everything and enhances the overall flavor of the burger. But on it’s own, it’s not something that tastes that good.

Chicken or the Egg?

SEO to drive content, or content to drive SEO? Well, unlike the chicken before the egg analogy, the SEO to Content relationship has transformed to reveal an actual answer/ In fact, content marketers are focused on creating more content or creating content as a means to attract links. When social media became popular in the SEO world, the idea was similar. Social networks and media use was focused on attracting attention to further attract links, not to create relationships, engagement or inspire transactions and referrals – like its clearly utilized for now.

Understanding the difference between mechanical strategies and meaningful results is an important distinction when working on your content marketing strategy. Understanding this nuance can mean the difference between a keyword cluster of shallow content, or a content portfolio that serves real customer interests and proudly represents your organization.

Cultivate Your Opportunities

Your marketing, by its nature, should be opportunistic. At Paramount, we talk all the time about “developing online opportunity”. The truth is, in the universe of online marketing, new opportunities arrive daily. Competitive advantage is more cut-and-dry than ever. Which is why it’s vital to employ an opportunistic approach to your online marketing. For example, at Paramount, each time a major trend in online marketing emerges, from blogging to social media to email automation etc, we have almost instinctually adapted and engineered our discovery to realize every possible and legal workaround or tactic to create a marketing advantage for ourselves and our clients. This opportunism has extended to the not-so-new trend (but new buzzword) of content marketing as well.

Operating within the guidelines of best practices, such adaptability is a highly valuable perspective to have. Truthfully, to have success, this perspective has become a must-have. Too often opportunism bleeds into manipulations outside the scope of search engine guidelines and the risks can turn out to be brutal for a business.

But here’s the good news: Google is a battleground for optimizers and those with real experience have been able to adapt successfully can become some of the most valuable marketers you will ever find.

Being both creative and analytical as well as lateral thinkers, marketers with an opportunistic (and optimized) state of mind are particularly good at finding solutions to complex marketing challenges. But there are still many optimizers that are stuck on content marketing as “more fuel for keywords” or social media as link building. Both should be avoided. If you hear this often from your digital marketing team, you may consider challenging your crew to update their approach.

Social + SEO Focused Content Marketing

There are plenty of benefits for engaging a SEO focused agency for content marketing and social media implementation. They each play essential roles for content amplification at all stages of the buying cycle. Here are a few common characteristics of each:

SEO Focused Content Marketing

  • Organic amplification is “built-in” to content creation
  • Content promotion, link building and social promotion
  • Good SEO is good user experience
  • Technical optimization
  • Performance is focused on search KPIs and conversions
  • More content equals more search presence
  • Topics derived from actual search demand and real-world FAQs
  • Keyword managed content plans tied to performance
  • Continuous cycle of performance improvement using search analytics

Social Media Focused Content Marketing

  • Amplification is often organic but increasingly paid
  • Influencers engaged to co-create and promote through social
  • Performance is based on views and engagement
  • Conversion and ROI are more difficult to measure with confidence
  • Topics focused on brand and messaging
  • Shorter form content: status updates, blog posts, image tiles
  • Topics managed by social content calendar
  • Social monitoring surfaces new, real-time content opportunities

So, what should you focus on?

We preach goals and accountability. For an integrated approach, here are three of your most important considerations to ensure content works for your customers and your brand.

  • Attract –  How will your piece of content attract exposure? Will it function as an on-going narrative? Will it be a part of a sequence tackling a complex explanation? Will it be connected to other content objects through links, curation, or repurposing? Where content is promoted on social networks will matter for attraction as much as what phrases and questions are used for search engine optimization.
  • Engage – How will you make the content object meaningful to the reader? So meaningful that they interact, react and respond to it?  What context needs to exist in order for it to be so relevant that it inspires action? Social Media and Search both play a role in developing the context for engagement. When they interact with what they find, does the customer think, “That’s exactly what I was looking for”, or something else?
  • Convert – Often overlooked is how the optimized content object will persuade the viewer to take the next step? Each content object can play a role in walking the reader from one stage to the next in a genuine but automated customer relationship. From awareness to purchase to advocacy, conversions are happening at each stage whether it’s a simple as social share, subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a white paper, or more committal as in signing up for a webinar, filling out an inquiry form or making a referral.

Within your content plan, explore and implement ways to make these actions easy and intentional for the target audience.  An optimized content plan means being accountable to the customer’s discovery of you. Don’t inspire them to consume your content and leave them hanging. Make sure you’re always looking at better things to do with your viewership once they arrive at your content.

IN SUMMARY

Remember, content is the reason search engines started in the first place.  Taking an  optimized approach to integrating search engine optimization, social media, publicity and influencers with your content marketing programs means you are always searching for ways to increase performance. This process of always refining your strategy will ensure your content is accountable for attraction, engagement and conversion. With that focus on accountability, an investment in high quality, optimized and socialized content will pay returns for years to come.

Jumpstart Your Content Marketing: Digital Goals

Content-Marketing-Goals

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Set your content marketing goals, and track them properly.

Start with the BIG PICTURE goals and work your way down to your department or sphere of influence. Set goals high enough to rise above the crowd of competition.

Organization Goals:

• Increase organic search engine traffic by X%.
• Improve repeat visits/registrations by X% year over year.
• Drive down customer cost/acquisition by X%.
• Decrease bounce rate for top pages to X% below site average.
• Increase new business sales by x%.
• Decrease customer service costs by x%.
• Shorten the sales cycle by X amount of time.

Content Marketing Goals:

• Brand Awareness
• Moving Leads through the sales funnel
• Client retention
• Establishing authority in your niche
• Education your audience
• Audience engagement
• New client leads
• Solving problems for your audience

TIP: Validate your goals. Collaborate with your team to adjust these appropriately and get investment into the goals. Set up software to measure and track resultsMeasuring is so important because it validates your strategy and tactics and proves your ROI.

Take the Two-Way Street

In Traditional Marketing, the relationship and communication between the advertiser and the audience is only one-way. You’re rarely able to measure results directly, relying on eventual sales metrics to analyze success. With digital & content marketing utilizing social channels to increase engagement, there can be plenty of direct contact between the audience and your organization. This includes valuable feedback that you can measure and use to improve your products or services.  Measurement is vital because it validates your strategy and tactics and proves your ROI.

Adaptability

Traditional marketing tends to be planned out for a while – sometimes seasons ahead of time. The campaigns typically covering a long period of time following a specific rollout schedule. Once the campaign is set, it must run it’s course, and little adjustment can be made. Though digital  and content marketing does involve long-term planning of scheduling and initial campaign strategy, there is much more room for maneuverability along the way. Data is used from existing campaigns to optimize and adapt for better performance.

Whether you’re looking to gain authority in your niche and strengthen your brand, or find a way to connect with and attract new customers, a content marketing strategy is an integral part of an overall online optimization strategy. Collaborate, do research, and listen to feedback to create the most impactful content marketing streams for your audience.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Jumpstart Your Content Marketing: What is Content Marketing?

CONTENT MARKETING VS TRADITIONAL MARKETING?

We get the question all the time here at Paramount: What is content marketing and how is it different than traditional marketing? Well this guide is intended to help answer those questions. We often say that traditional marketing talks AT people, content marketing talks WITH them. At its core, content marketing is all about creating content that helps people. By developing content, you’re helping your customers understand your business or your products. Rather than “renting” space on a billboard, or radio spot via traditional advertising, you depend on the online footprint that you own to inform, educate, and entertain your audience.

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU

Talking about yourself too is considered self-focused and rude. In contrast to traditional marketing, where it’s all about you, content marketing is all about your audience. What content can you create that will help them answer questions? What customers really want and need today is information that speaks to their needs, their problems, and their current challenges. With your content marketing strategy, give them what they’re looking for.

PICK A COMMON QUESTION, HOT TOPIC, OR RELEVANT ISSUE

Content marketing can be highly topical and should attempt to ignite conversations on social media platforms. Your content can also be more functional, addressing the common needs of your audience. The goal is to keep your content marketing relevant by highlighting the issues that really matter to your customers. Write about these issues specifically. Explain them. Unpack all the details for your potential customers. Let them see, hear, and experience how you explain complex challenges. Getting content of this kind out there helps potential customers know the “why” behind your business and start to form a relationship with you.

Real World Example: In the building materials industry, “what are the most energy efficient building materials?” is a question that has generated millions of dollars in sales because Fox Brothers Company decided to answer that question in a blog post. That blog post continues to pay off today.

Don’t forget that it is the goal of a search engine to find the most relevant possible result for EVERY possible query. These days, it’s extremely common for internet searchers to use full questions in search engines as their query. This means, if you’re actually ANSWERING questions, your content WILL show up on search engines.

BACK IT UP

Many people believe things because they read it on the Internet. But that doesn’t mean you should be that company that uses data and doesn’t source it. Add credibility to your content by sourcing your stats. This makes your content – and you – more credible.

TAP INTO SATISFACTION

A picture is worth a thousand words… so is a satisfied customer. Make sure you are encouraging your best customers tell their stories about experience with your company. Use photos, quotes, and their narratives to support your products and services. When people are making buying decisions, they want to know why others have made theirs. Reviewing online has become the modern day word-of-mouth.

CAPTURE ATTENTION

Article titles on the Internet leave much to be considered. Along with SEO potential, as well as industry relevancy and varied platform presentation; You’ve got to get the user’s attention with a captivating headline. Proper titling is one of the most important aspects to content marketing. You want to not only capture their attention, but keep it. With our attention spans shortening every day, keeping your audience’s attention long enough to show your value can be even more challenging. If you have a long article, break it up with images, videos, bullets, and subheadings. Otherwise, it will look like a research project and you’ll lose your reader.

This is just Part I to the Content Marketing Jumpstart Guide. Check out Parts II, III, and IV for the complete guide (Coming Soon!) For any questions, or to talk with one of our experts, just reach out to us!

integrated marketing display on an iPad

The Importance of Integrated Marketing

Integrated Marketing:

“a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.”

Have you ever sat down at your computer and saw an advertisement from your favorite brand then shortly after turned on the television to see that same brand with the same message but now formatted to your TV? Well, if your answer was yes then you have been exposed to an integrated marketing message.

Having an Integrated Marketing message is what gives small businesses a big impact on consumers and also helps to provide an increase in ROI from marketing and advertising efforts. An integrated message is vital in today’s fast moving world where consumers are advertised to almost everywhere they go. It now takes even more to crack into their minds and actually have them acknowledge your brand and the message you are trying to communicate with all of the advertising clutter around them.

Including the digital landscape in your integrated marketing campaign is a must today. With digital now becoming a way of life and millennials at the forefront of consumers, having a strong digital presence and reaching these consumers is a necessity. To be where your customer is and communicating with them in their realm, helps to pass the message along more successfully and will help you earn a position on the brand ladder in their minds. It is important to understand that in this digital age, most consumers choose digital in one form or another.

Within the digital space itself, integration should also occur between digital mediums. For example, your Facebook Page should not only look and feel like your twitter page, but they should also have similar ways and times that they are being posted on. That way your page is easily recognizable at a glance, but also the voice being used online feels consistent between all of the channels. This will help reinforce your brand and your message in the viewers mind.

If your brand can integrate digital into your efforts and integrate a single, concise message within all of your efforts, you will set yourself up for success. This is the direction advertising is headed to battle the clutter and the brands that don’t keep up will fall behind in the long run. The digital age is here and by the looks of it, it is here to stay!

Read more about IMC at:

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-integrated-marketing-communications-73248.html