The Importance of Diversifying Your Marketing Strategy

The Importance of Diversifying Your Marketing Strategy

 

As social media platforms race to optimize their features and algorithms for the best user experience—and new channels enter the limelight more frequently—many small business owners feel pressured to stay on top of the latest trends. According to Buffer, while 58.8% of marketers claim that social media is “very important” to their marketing strategies, almost 20% are unsure of how to measure that effectiveness. It’s easy to get distracted by “vanity metrics,” or those that make you sound good, but don’t indicate any significant outcomes. Some of these include impressions, “likes,” shares, comments and followers.

Many times when we meet with new clients, they are preoccupied with improving their social media strategy to the point of neglecting other pieces, such as email, content and SEO. They are right to care about prioritizing social media; in fact, 70% of agencies state social is integral to their packages (Sprout). However, as we have learned a few times over the past two years, relying too much on social media can be disastrous and costly.

Before the world became collectively overwhelmed with social media in 2020, three of the largest networks “went down” in history for the longest social media outage ever in March of 2019. Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp users experienced partial outages for over 14 hours, costing individual small advertisers thousands of dollars in lost business.

2020 brought more social media perils for marketers: after several big brands were called out for tone-deaf messaging, many scaled back or took time to completely re-strategize. After the death of George Floyd, the #BlackoutTuesday movement called for brands to refrain from promoting themselves on social platforms for a single day. But amidst social unrest that stretched on all summer, many brands again decided to tone down their promotions out of respect or to simply avoid backlash. There was even a hot minute where we wondered if the latest app TikTok might be banned in the US market.

Cultivating a diverse foundation has always been a marketing best practice, but these examples show how dangerous it can be to rely on any single tactic more than others. And when all else fails, the assets you have the most control over will be your lifeline.

Marketing Plan Foundations

Foundational assets are those things that you own and have control over, such as your website and email list. While they may not seem as flashy as social media, they are definitely not static, one-off projects either. A regularly updated website and an active email strategy will both grow your audience while keeping them engaged with a stream of valuable content. 

The slow burn of your content and email distribution activities may seem dull, but they will fuel growth for the long haul.

Email Marketing

In recent years, many have speculated that email is on its way out—or already dead. But every time social media goes into crisis mode, marketing experts start singing the praises of the mighty Inbox. In this article, the author examines the myth of dying email and suggests it is actually evolving, stating that 59% of B2B marketers reported that email was the most effective tactic.

Brand Message First

Whatever tactics you ultimately include in your marketing mix, developing a clear, audience-focused brand message and consistently integrating it across platforms is mission-critical. Most companies invest in a brand strategy in their first year and update it every few years as they grow and evolve.

Branding specialists will develop your brand strategy and guidelines, but all members of your marketing team must be involved to implement them: from visual graphics (i.e., logo, tagline, color palette and typography) to internal and external communication styles (i.e., your voice and the way you communicate "who you are" to your organization and to the outside world).

A solid brand identity is based on a combination of what you want your customers to think about you and what they actually do think. We conduct 360 interviews to get a sense of how our clients are perceived, and we encourage them to listen attentively to different kinds of feedback they receive from their audience: questions and comments during sales calls, social media engagement and reviews, to name a few.

We love shiny new marketing tools as much as the next guy, but without solid branding and foundational assets in place, social media is a risky game. This is the one instance where we advise our clients to “walk before you run.”

 

A previous version of this article was published on Forbes.


The Year of Reckoning: A Refresher on the Marketing Industry’s Diversity Paradox in 2020

The Year of Reckoning: A Refresher on the Marketing Industry’s Diversity Paradox in 2020

 

Before the novel coronavirus and a rash of police brutality brought structural racism back into stark focus, and before advertising giants were taken to task for this year’s slew of tone-deaf commercials, we knew the marketing industry had a diversity problem. In the wake of Hollywood’s movement for racial equity (remember #OscarsSoWhite?) marketers took a look around the office and really started to notice, well, how white it was. Being at the forefront of understanding what potential customers want, we began recommending that the brands we represent start appealing to a wider audience.

 

At first, we recommended that big brands look at new ways to engage with different audiences, including finding new and fresh voices, creative elements and various perspectives that directly appeal to a more nuanced target audience. Under the old guard of media and advertising, the norm was to create ads and campaigns targeted at a mass, primarily white population. It was still a relatively new idea to explore the things that African Americans, women and other cultures liked that deviated from the status quo and create specific campaigns for those audiences.

 

Major campaigns appealing to various age groups, women and minorities, and in some cases, even social movements, showed promising results. For example, following the #MeToo movement, Twitter, Google and Nike all jumped on board with various advertising campaigns designed to empower women. All of that sounds like a positive step in the right direction, and the ads were generally well-received, but something still wasn’t quite right. These big ad agencies were recommending their clients shift their communication to a more conclusive, diverse message, while they themselves remained (and still remain) almost entirely dominated by white males.

 

We’ve come to understand this problem as the “diversity paradox,” and though industry-wide numbers haven’t changed much in the past couple of years, we are starting to see individual companies and coalitions create plans that go beyond talking about our industry’s issues and take steps towards solving them. For example, Nike ousted several leadership-level employees to combat their reputation as a “boys’ club,” and it has made a huge impact on its business and its relationship with their ad agency. 

 

Even clients have noticed the diversity paradox, and they are demanding more. Back in 2016, The New York Times published an article claiming that big brands wanted ad agencies to diversify. In 2017, highlighted in an article published by AdWeek, an Adobe study aimed to understand the diversity issue and plunged into why agencies were having difficulty fulfilling this request. The reasons cited in the study are the standard boilerplate expressions of why women and minorities struggle to gain success in any industry, which, to our ears in 2020, sound like lip service from a group of happily successful and secluded white males.

 

At this point, marketing firms with a conscience recognize that it’s disingenuous to recommend our brands and clients be more diverse and inclusive while we continue to only offer that opinion from our singular perspective. And the problem goes all the way to the top: Diversity and Inclusion experts have made it clear that it’s very difficult to retain diverse hires in low-level positions without mirroring that inclusiveness in company leadership. No matter how hard you may try, or how much market research you do, it is impossible for an agency full of white males to create authentic work that appeals to the greater audience. Representation has to stretch all the way from our audience to the C-suite.

 

As I already mentioned, the numbers have still yet to improve. But as we marketers love to do, the industry has begun gathering data to set benchmarks and create realistic goals. Just this September, a benchmarking survey of 165 agencies representing more than 40,000 employees—found that Black and African American employees make up just 5.8% of the industry, while 8.68% identify as Hispanic or Latinx, 10.7% as Asian/Asian American, 4.23% as “other” and 70.51% as white or caucasian. Of the less than 6% who are Black or African American, 68% are admin or entry-level, 43.5% are non-management professionals, 27.6% are managers or directors and just 4% are vice presidents or higher, excluding C-suite roles. 

 

We found several examples of big agencies shaking up business-as-usual to make way for diversity and inclusion: According to Forbes, Ad agency Horizon Media created resources for different employee groups such as Black, African American, LGBTQ, Hispanic, Latinx and Asian employees, as well as working parents while also looking outside the ad industry for talent. GM has created a scorecard to measure progress in all outgoing creative from their agencies, and Havas is conducting extensive internal research. Ad Age and Facebook have formed a collective of advertising, marketing and media leaders focused on a different objective every year (2020’s theme has been amended to “confronting unconscious bias in the wake of the new normal). Legacy organization She Runs It has launched the #Inclusive100 movement, a drive for agencies to commit to specific initiatives and participate in an annual benchmarking report.

 

The male-ness of the marketing industry hit home for us at @revenue when we saw how skilled working mothers are being pushed out of our own industry. As marketing leaders in our community, we felt that it’s past time for us to follow suit with these industry giants and not just talk about our diversity problem, but take drastic action to fix it. This year, the data, the goals and the strategies are finally coming together in an actionable way. And we are ready to do something about it. It’s time to change the way we hire, promote, manage and appreciate our teams. We need to listen to stories and open our internal offices to inclusion. There is no other way to understand and be better than to start doing and try it, track it, change it. Let’s start a revolution.

An earlier version of this article was published on Forbes.


The Rule of 2/3

There Are No Unicorns: Making the Hard Choice for Good/Fast/Cheap Marketing Support

 

You've heard of this rule before. It’s basically a law of physics in the business world: you've seen it applied to various industries of service providers, but that doesn't make it any less true. Marketing professionals know this rule all too well, but it can still be a stumbling block for our clients because it doesn’t seem fair and it’s not fun to think about. The hard truth is that the killer deals and 10-in-1 unicorn gadgets that exist in the retail product world just don’t exist in the realm of professional services.

 

The Rule: GOOD. FAST. CHEAP. You can only choose 2.

 

In short, it translates to this: you can’t have it all. If you don’t have a bottomless budget or all the time in the world, anyway, something else in the equation has to be sacrificed. While we would love to promise you that your great marketing strategy will pay for itself, we know that’s not exactly how budgets work. Instead of urging you to dig deeper into your pockets and put a strain on your business to put a top-tier marketing plan in place, we would much rather walk through the Sophie’s Choice situation with you and help you make the decision that’s best for your business right now.

The Options

CHEAP: You are always looking for a deal. It is our human condition to try to find ways to save money and retain the best value for the work we are paying for

FAST: You also want your projects done as quickly as possible.

GOOD: Not only do you want it done quickly and for less money, but you want it to be good. Good design, good strategy, good in every way.

Why can you only choose 2?

VALUE: The value of quality marketing work is not necessarily synonymous with the amount you pay. Value is provided when something is done well, with intention, and provides both instant results and long-term outcomes.

CHEAP + FAST: When you're choosing two, cheap and fast end up being a likely option. After all, those are your two primary motivational factors—get it done now and get it done for the least amount possible. The problem with this strategy is that it forces your marketing team into a situation in which they have to cut corners, spend less time finding the best possible solutions

and instead finish a “quick and dirty” version of your project. That means the thing you have sacrificed is GOOD. Your project will still have a lot of positive attributes, but will it be everything you hoped for, and be perfect without any missteps? Definitely not.

CHEAP + GOOD: In the above situation, it seems like the issue is one of time: by combining cheap and fast you lost quality, which is what you need in the long run. Choosing cheap and good could be a better combination because you save money while getting a higher quality completed project, which could ultimately mean higher value. The sacrifice here is time. In order to perform high-quality services at a lower rate, your team will need to manage this project differently. And you may be one of many projects in process, so in order to spend the time wisely on your project and make it beneficial to the team, they will need to take extra time.

FAST + GOOD: Yes, this is an option. Yes, we can do what you want in the quality that you want in the timeline you want, but that will mean our team will have to work double-time, triple-time, and that means itʼs going to cost you more because you will have to pay for that time and extra time spent.

Keep this in mind next time you are trying to hire a marketing company or any other service provider: you may have three options, but if you’re looking for real value, you will have to sacrifice one of them. Unicorns are hard to come by, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Which 2 would you choose?

Need help deciding? Get in touch with us and let’s talk it out. 


How to keep going when everything is f....unky

Having trouble staying productive? The @revenue team has compiled some of our favorite tricks and tips to help you find ways to keep going and get everything done!

 

Marie Hale, CEO

Her #1 trick? “Plan and prioritize!”

The best advice she’s ever received or given? “Eat that frog! Do the hard stuff first! Block time on your calendar and hold it sacred. You deserve to work ON your business!”

 

Andrea Keirn, Marketing IntegratorAndrea Keirn

Her #1 trick: “Make a list and get addicted to the checkmarks!”

The best advice she’s ever received or given? “ Listen with the intention of understanding, not the intention of responding- it helps you get better at accomplishing things more efficiently and more completely the first time”

 

Joshua Lally, Special Ops

His #1 trick? “Put away the phone and other distractions”

Best advice he’s received or given? “Following the philosophy of "done, not perfect." Get it across the finish line, then work on beautification and perfection, but don't risk being late because you're stuck on details.”

 

 

Michelle Kidd, Executive Assistant

Her #1 trick? “ The most important thing is to take breaks. If you burn yourself out early in the day, you won't be as productive overall. Take 30 minutes to get away from your desk and watch an episode of a tv show, have a snack, go outside, or whatever you can do to rest your mind and spirit.”

The best advice she’s ever received or given? “Start with the thing you really don't want to do. If you get it out of the way, then it's done and it won't be looming over you anymore.”

 

Carolina Franca, Graphic Designer

Her #1 trick? “setting the right mood to power up concentration. For example, music usually puts me on the productivity track.”

Best advice she’s ever received or given? “It's better done than perfect", because sometimes I may be a perfectionist, but when time is ticking, it's required to prioritize what is fundamental to get the job done and set aside what isn't.”

 

Rotimi Kehinde, Artistic Director

His #1 trick? “ 30min Tasks 5-Min Breaks Using the Pomodoro Technique”

The best advice he’s received or given? “You are who you are today because of what you put into yesterday.”

 

Kelsey Hoff, Copywriter

Her #1 trick? “For writing, I set a timer for an hour and I have to concentrate on my project until the hour is up--many times the hour will fly by and I will keep going after it's up.”

The best advice she’s received or given? “Keep it BIC (butt-in-chair)”

 

 

Danny Bernardo, Social Media Manager

His #1 trick? “Starting each week by identifying my goals, not only professionally but artistically and personally as well. I then take those goals and allocate time throughout the week to make sure they get done.”

Best advice he’s received or given: “"You can only be accountable to yourself. Prioritize the things that absolutely must get done but take time for your own well being as well."

 

Raihan Reza, Marketing Support Specialist

His #1 trick? “ Stay focused, have a plan!”

The best advice he’s received or given? “ Be calm and continue doing it.”

 

 

Need more inspiration to stay on track? We’ve got you covered. Here are our favorite tools and resources to help you stay organized, manage your time wisely and get it done!

Tools we Love:

Read & Watch:


Benefits of Hiring a Fractional CMO in 2020

In the unfolding economic crisis of 2020, most business leaders are pushing forward into new territory in one way or another, whether it’s internal restructuring or a complete overhaul of your offerings. Marketing is a high priority to not only survive these relentlessly uncertain times, but also to make sure the work you’re doing now is building towards a more sustainable future for your business. Many early-stage and small businesses are finding that they don’t have the marketing leadership in their C-suite to keep up. 

There are plenty of ways companies end up in this situation: maybe you’ve gotten by without a CMO thus far, but other roles are too busy to manage marketing right now, or maybe things are changing fast in your industry and you need an expert with a wider range of experience. Maybe your company is growing faster than you anticipated and you need a marketing leader who can step in and chart the course until you can afford a full-time executive. An agency could do the trick, but you need a dedicated person “on the ground” with you who can strategize and implement with your team. 

The short-term, big-commitment marketing leader you’re looking for does exist: meet the fractional CMO. This role is typically brought in to build up or manage your company’s marketing function on a part-time or short-term basis. From a cost-benefit standpoint, fractional CMO services deliver an incredible amount of value for much less than what an in-house team of their caliber would cost. The average salary for a full-time CMO is $174,573, and they usually have a marketing director or marketing manager working under them to carry out tactical work (earning average salaries of $87,915 and $65,399, respectively). And that’s before any benefits, payroll taxes or bonuses. All told, hiring a team with all of these roles plus support for digital and social implementation would cost over $400,000 per year in salaries alone. Working with @revenue for fractional CMO services costs about 30% less than that—around $280,000. See what we mean by fractional?

Take a look at some of the benefits a CMO offers that you won’t find with a consultant or a typical agency:

Evolves existing strategies and processes

When tried and true marketing channels aren’t working like they used to, it might seem like you have to abandon your entire strategy and start from scratch with a new approach—especially if you see your competitors finding success with new technology, social channels, etc. and you can’t keep up. Trusting an agency to make these calls for you can feel like a huge risk, and it is. If you don’t know where to start with new channels or how to make the transition without breaking the budget, a fractional CMO will take the time to get to know your existing strategy and make incremental changes to evolve it along with new tools and best practices so you can keep your momentum and your audience as your marketing processes change. 

Crafts and manages a unified strategy with your team

Maybe you’ve tried some new marketing channels and been burned by one-stop solutions that didn’t do what they promised. Opening up new avenues for marketing takes an integrated strategy with someone experienced at the helm keeping a close eye on your metrics and making adjustments as you go. It takes a level of communication with your CEO and your team that most consultants and agencies don’t have the capacity for, but a fractional CMO is flexible to step in and actively manage your strategy in real-time.

High-level partnership

Speaking of communication, if you’ve made a big pivot recently and need to maintain consistency at a big-picture level, a fractional CMO often has the business leadership experience to take part in those C-suite conversations. Lots of companies are finding themselves in need of a high-level manager with the experience to build up a new marketing foundation while sales are lower than usual and they are still smoothing out the operations of a new business model. It can be a challenging time to hire the kind of full-time support you will eventually need, but a fractional CMO will fit the bill until the time is right.

Supports your sales team

Is your sales team struggling to work as a team while client responses are turbulent? Do they have any strategic marketing support, or are they creating their own materials? Often when there isn’t a robust marketing department, the onus falls on the sales team to generate, develop and close their own leads. Trying to get by without a dedicated marketing leader is a recipe for sales team burnout. A fractional CMO will find the gaps that are costing you sales and fill them so your salespeople can do what they do best.

A fractional CMO delivers the marketing leadership you need to keep growing your business while you need to keep cost, commitment and risk to a minimum. But the key factor that can really make or break this decision? The relationship you build with your fractional CMO is mission-critical. You have to find someone you trust, who will tell you the hard truths that will make for a better strategy in the end. At @revenue we call this Professional Love, and we insist on loving all of our clients, especially through their most difficult times.

But all good things must come to an end. Your team might absorb the new processes after the initial implementation, or the new revenue you generate might open up room for a full-time marketing executive. It takes about 6 months to see the full ROI from your CMO, but you may decide to work together for several years. Our team is great at documenting processes to hand back to your team whenever you’re ready. 

Are you as excited as we are about the benefits of a fractional CMO? Get in touch with us and let’s talk about it!


5 Ways to Use Your Marketing Budget to Save Money

The big question when it comes to marketing is always, “how much is this going to cost?” Generally speaking, marketing services are perceived as an expensive project and many business owners are hesitant to spend valuable dollars on something that may or may not have the return they hope for. At least, that’s one way to look at it.

The dollar amount you spend on a marketing project is only one small factor in that project’s performance. If you want to make your marketing budget work harder, it’s important to understand what the other factors are and how to make them work in your favor. It’s not just how much you spend, but how you spend it that makes the difference between just-okay and extraordinary results. 

Unlike other business expenses, your marketing budget can have a direct and exponential effect on your bottom line if you manage it well. Finding the right marketing partner will also help you understand when and why to spend money on marketing. Use these tips to get to know your marketing budget a little better and uncover the best opportunities for your business:

#1 Separate Marketing and Advertising Line Items

Most business projections have a single category that accounts for both marketing and advertising. If you didn’t know this already, we have a secret for you: marketing and advertising are not the same things, and treating them the same way in your budget spells lower ROI for both. Simply put, advertising is the amount of money you need to pay to the media you place your campaign in while marketing is the planning, messaging, and design behind that campaign. You need both to make a splash, but they really should be viewed as two separate expenses.

#2 Compare Average Budgets

Taking a look at the benchmarks for similar-sized businesses is a good way to see if your marketing budget is on track to be competitive. For established businesses, The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7-8% of your gross revenue for businesses under $5 million, and closer to 10% for those over $5 million. New businesses should be spending somewhere between 12-20% of your revenue or expected revenue. This percentage of revenue should be split between marketing and advertising.

#3 Reserve a Marketing-Only Portion of Your Budget

The marketing-only piece of the budget should be around 5% of your expected gross revenue. This 5% should be allocated towards things such as the ongoing marketing implementation of a solid foundational strategy. These are the day-to-day tactics that engage your audience, the advertisements you place with specific media and tactics like email newsletters, video, content, and so forth. You should also expect to use more than 5% on big projects, such as website updates.

However, spending money on these day-to-day items will certainly be a waste of funds if you do not have a solid foundation.

#4 Build a Solid Foundation

To keep your sales pipeline moving and make the most of day-to-day activities with existing clients, you will need to invest in a solid marketing foundation. Since this generally includes the necessary larger projects, it will cost closer to 10% of your budget.

The foundation includes items like branding, strategy, website and social media. Working on these items to create a solid strategy that highlights your best target audience, the messaging and branding for those audiences and putting together a road map of strategy pieces paired with the big projects like a website will give you a healthy starting point. Once these things are completed, not only will your day-to-day activities will have a much higher conversion rate, but you will also have baseline KPIs to assess future campaigns.

#5 Consider the Cost of Client Acquisition

When making your marketing budget, the most important thing to remember is what your potential ROI will be. Consider what a single new client means to your bottom line. For example: imagine you have not built your foundation and you are relying on a salesperson to convert customers. You probably see the direct correlation between what you pay that salesperson

to what the conversion of each customer is. Letʼs say you currently spend $2,000 per new customer with your sales rep and he or she can convert 1 new customer per month. Provided that each new customer is worth more than the $2,000 you spent, you are happy.

But consider this: perhaps you built your foundation and were able to add a highly converting website and social media channels in addition to your sales rep. Using the 5% rule, letʼs say you spend $1,000 per month on digital media tactics and can convert 2 additional customers per month. You've increased your customers by three times while only spending a fraction of the cost and in a shorter time period.

Thatʼs where marketing becomes a saving vs. a spend. Looking at your current marketing budget is only the starting point for a strategy that should elevate your entire business. The key is finding a marketing partner who can work with you on the foundational items, but also on a long-term implementation and execution process. This is where you will save the most.

What are you looking for in a marketing partner? Let’s start a conversation and see if we’re a good fit. 


How to Support Your Small Business Community During the Coronavirus Outbreak

It’s almost become a campaign cliche that small business is the backbone of America; but in the year 2020, amidst a viral outbreak like we’ve never seen before, the strength and flexibility of that “backbone” is being tested. Without much direction or aid coming from the government, we’re looking to each other to make a way forward—but there’s so much noise it’s hard to make some sense of it all. Our responsibilities as business owners have changed overnight and we’re asking ourselves where the money will come from, if and when we’ll have to let someone go, and how to go about making sales in a quarantined market.

Without a doubt, it’s an urgent time to support our networks while offering the opportunity to support us back. Nobody wants to come across as taking advantage of this awful situation, but what does one do if they want to appear authentic and actually help? Our team had a meeting of the minds this Monday; we came up with our best ideas to help you get through this time and come out on the other side with a team that believes in you, a customer base that knows that you care and partnerships that are even stronger.

Spend Wisely: Support Small

The #1 way to support your fellow business owners right now, as always, is to shop small. It’s especially important to think about brick and mortar businesses that usually rely on foot traffic, like restaurants and retailers. Many are scrambling to build online stores, but some have gift cards available on their existing websites. One of our favorite tricks for lunch meetings on lockdown is sending a GrubHub gift card with a list of locally-owned options.

Everyone’s budget is in flux, but necessaries like cleaning products can be found locally instead of at big-box stores. Think about any birthdays coming up and any other gifts you need to buy soon. Spend some of your downtime searching these local business directories to find what you need right now:

Communicate Mindfully

As we all huddle up to our laptops to stay in touch with the world, we live and do business through our online presence, and our messaging becomes more critical than ever. Be sure to communicate with each of your audiences—yes, everyone—clients, partners, employees, the public, about any changes that will affect their business with you. Communicate with your existing network first before reaching out to new contacts. Post important information in a central location, like on your website, and use appropriate channels to share it.

Just as important as spreading the word about the changes in your business is putting other news on hold until you know for sure that it’s still moving forward according to plan. And even if it is, think twice about whether or not a big announcement is still appropriate. Blaring good news while so much is being canceled may come across as tone-deaf. News about product launches and events may need to be softened or postponed.

Manage Your Fear and Be a Leader

Fear of the unknown is a whopper, especially when you have a team (or a small community) looking to you for answers. While it’s an important time to show resilience, being honest about the things you still haven’t figured out is a much better look than withholding information.

If we didn’t know it before, it’s becoming abundantly clear that a business isn’t run by technology and systems: it’s run by a group of people with a shared goal. And when your mission is bigger than any single person on the team, you can have real faith that it’s all worthwhile. We at @revenue seek out other mission-driven businesses to work with because we believe this so much. Remind your team and your clients how important they are to you, and that no matter what else changes, your mission will drive you forward because it’s bigger than all of you.

Take Action

While you’re waiting on your bigger answers, take action on the things you have the power to do right now. If you need to get out of the house, My Block My Hood My City is accepting donations and organizing volunteers to distribute viral response packages to seniors. Reach out to your network and ask what kinds of support they are looking for.

One thing we know for sure is that this isn’t going to be over quickly; businesses that don’t already have a tech stack to support working from home will need to pull one together. Our team is working on a webinar to help you get digital quick, so watch out for more details! As always, let us know what else we can do to help.


You might need to hire a marketing agency if…

Let’s face it-- not every business needs a marketing agency. I know, it may seem counter-intuitive because every business needs a marketing strategy, but not everyone needs to go out and hire a professional to do the work. Whether you are just starting out or have decades of experience, marketing professionals aren’t free and when investing your time and finances you need to be sure that your business is ready.

That being said, there comes a point that professional support is what will take your business to the next level. Here are just a couple of signs that the time has come:

  1. If your parents don’t know what you do. You have no idea what your “brand” is and no idea how to talk about your business. You don’t need to be able to explain the intricacies of what you do, but you should be able to narrow it down to a couple of sentences. Marketing will help you to refine your message and give you crystal clear direction on how that gets expressed. Everything from colors and fonts to your voice and values needs to get expressed in a consistent manner that is easy for others to understand.
  2. If it gets pushed off your plate due to time or procrastination. You didn't open a business because you feel the joy of writing a good newsletter, or perhaps you avoid social media like the plague. Writing blogs, posting on social media and making website updates not only take valuable time but to do well it takes years of experience. Calculate your hourly rate by the number of hours you spend on marketing activities and see if you have some wiggle room to hire someone else to do it. Chances are when you leave it to an expert it will be done better than if you keep trying to do it yourself, and you may even save yourself some money & time along the way.
  3. You're ready for more business, but you don’t know how to ‘make’ it happen. If you've ever been asked "where do you get business from?" and your only answer is referrals, you are not in control of your sales... Let’s face it, hope isn’t the most effective strategy. If you are looking for more business, your marketing team should lay out a clear path to success and a pro will be able to recommend the right channels, strategies, and tools to get you there.

Agencies are great at providing the tools, resources, strategy, and implementation of marketing, but if you don't know your market, this is all a guess. Marketers work best when you know your business, and they help you communicate it. So go out there, talk to your customers, find out what they want more of and get clear on where your business is going. Then find a marketing firm that knows how to listen and provide great insight - they go hand in hand.

Although marketing might seem like the next step to growth, let’s not leave out it’s best friend: SALES! These two disciplines work hand in hand to drive more revenue. If you are out of balance, you will waste time and resources going down the wrong path. Schedule a complimentary consultation with our team @revenue to learn the best direction for your organization.


Personal Branding: 4 Rules to help you Rule

Personal branding - the term is everywhere in the marketing world and experts and owners alike are diving headlong into creating a magical personal brand of their very own. As part of a larger strategy, personal brands can be a powerful way to establish expertise and connect with new audiences, but on it’s own a personal brand is not a revenue generator. Turns out, people don’t want to give you cash for just being they you-iest of yous!  And at the @revenue office, the motto is: if it doesn’t help generate revenue, then it’s not for you.

One of the biggest questions you should be asking before you embark on creating a personal brand is: Do I know EXACTLY what I am going to be selling to the leads generated from this? If the answer feels ambiguous take a step back and map out what your offering will be. Even if the answer is products or services from within your current business, what it will take to fulfill them, and where you can create economies of scale to help you make more money in less time? (you get bonus points if it has a Monthly Recurring Revenue stream built into it). Know what success looks like before you start so you have a direction to go, because no matter how many likes, follows or watches you get, you are not going to be happy about the investment you make if it never pays you back.

As an expert, crafting and rolling out a personal brand will give you certain flexibilities that should happen outside of your business brand. Using your personal brand to reach out and create more one on one conversations, put you on stages, and increase your social media reach are all great goals to have. What then becomes important is how you will expect it to turn into income. Typically we will want to see a sales model with a personal brand that includes the following things:

  • Paid speaking engagements
  • Direct leads for your business
  • Digital courses or materials like books, podcasts, etc.
  • Advertising dollars for your YouTube Videos and podcasts
  • Partnerships that will boost your business

Personal brands also take a long time to take root - this is no quick win. And what’s worse, is that a back-fire in your personal brand will follow YOU around, not the name on the company. So…. how can a personal brand backfire? Oh, let’s share some stories, shall we?

1. It’s not you.

Personal brands are all about authenticity. If your goal in crafting a personal brand to make people think things about you that aren’t true. This is where those idiosyncracies will come crawling into the daylight. Allow me to present Exhibit A: the photoshop fail.

2. It’s all about you.

This sounds contradictory at first, but your personal brand should include your thoughts on other things besides yourself. If every image you post, a comment you make or video you produce is part of a conversation then make sure you are talking to and about the world around you. You will exhaust your audience if every image is a hyper-filtered shot at exposing how fabulous your every moment is.

3. That’s right. You tweeted it and it was dumb.

We don’t have to reach too far into our consciousness to pull out a news story or two about an ill-timed tweet or tone-deaf message. And thanks to that cool little screen grab gadget it can live forever! If you are combining your personal brand with your private life brand be sure that you know that what you say will reflect on you and could possibly damage your business. 

4. Repping Products

If you do have a personal brand that lends itself to promoting products, you must ask the question, are they aligned with MY brand? I shudder at the term ‘influencer’ because of how much it’s been abused, but the things you recommend will become part of your reputation. As an expert in your field, you do not need to hashtag every cute cupcake unless your personal brand aligns with supporting that business or eating cupcakes like it is your job. Which it may be - and if that is your real job please call us immediately, we want in. 

Building a personal brand should be purposeful, strategic and hopefully a lot of fun.

If you want to learn more about building your own brand and how @revenue can help you integrate it into your marketing strategy let’s have that chat. marie@atrevenue.com 

 


The Click to Purchase Myth.

When small brands roll out big dreams.

There are billions of marketing books, articles and gurus all claiming they have a silver bullet to generate leads while you sleep and get you that beach house in a matter of months. Like most things, what you read will rarely transform your life. Why is that? One word: execution. So, after a couple of attempts on your own, you hire a marketing agency, armed with the knowledge by experts and prepared to make an investment that will generate high returns.

This may seem like an exaggeration, but in reality, it isn’t too far from the truth. Businesses see the opportunity and desire a “click to purchase” product or service. This is where you build your digital marketing machine with paid ads to generate leads and a website to purchase. Sounds simple and the books will give you formula after formula to make it happen. And then they hit the wall- where are sales?

Assuming that marketing will be your sole driver for revenue is one of the biggest mistakes we see business owners make.

If you are ready to launch a product or a click to purchase service, here are a couple of things you should keep in mind and be prepared for. Consider this your reality check:

  1. If you want to build a digital empire be prepared to have deep pockets. It takes a lot of money to get enough traction and analytics to make a dent and even that first sale will take time and refinement. Know that you will learn lessons along the way, and they will be expensive.
  2. It will take time. Nothing worth having comes easily or instantaneously. It takes a lot of testing, refining and optimizing to get your targeting and message right. It takes at least 3 months to create baselines, understand the market and get a good feel for where you want to go. Even those digital marketing gurus had thousands of things that didn’t work out until they found their golden goose; even if that’s all they talk about. Know that it will take you time too.

If that sounds unappealing, know that there is another way to get your click to purchase solution launched. Take the uncertainty out of the equation and build a business that lasts, not just until the next Google algorithm change.

You are going to need to sell the first several solutions or products. Yes, it’s true. You will need to talk to people, understand what motivates them and how your digital solution solves their challenges. By skipping these early sales conversations you will need to invest much more time and money in marketing proving out different hypothesis. By having the conversations and connecting with these customers, you gain valuable insights and feedback that will help your business exponentially.

Let’s face it, a consultative sales process where you get to understand your customer, build a relationship and find solutions is at odds with a digital play. On the internet, you have to guess at what their challenges are,and feed them information, facts, proof that you are awesome. When you have a consultation you build connection and learn about your clients. This just can’t be done authentically digitally until you understand it in the real world.

What this boils down to is sales process. The more complex the offering, the more complex the sale. Make sure you aren’t just building a marketing machine, but a sales process that aligns with your values, your business, and your customers needs.

Depending on marketing to solely drive your revenue from the get-go is a risky business. We believe in creating sustainable programs that support elevate and grow businesses, not that ARE the business. If you would like to learn more about what a sales and marketing strategy looks like for you- it's time for us to talk! info@atrevenue.com