Forgot Password?

0

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Four Calling Clients

Posted on Dec 16, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

The Client List: 4 Types of Clients, Pain Points and How to Deal

At HMG, we love our wonderful family of clients and customers. But, like any large family, there are a few that can, well, drive you a little crazy. Throughout my time working at PR, advertising and creative agencies I have noticed a distinctive trend in some of the “problem child” clients that take extra time, energy and effort to work with. While there are dozens of categories and sub-categories like law of attraction (I can’t wait to read the comments!), I have done my best to narrow down the 4 most common, and troublesome, types of clients that make Account Managers across the country face-palm almost every day.

 

1.     The Defensive Line
Think 260+ lbs., Texas born and bred defensive players.  Their goal? To keep the offense from proceeding down the field, of course.  And this is exactly how most of us feel when faced with a Defensive Line client. These clients or individuals tend to halt any forward progress you and your agency tries to make on their behalf. But they hired you, right? Last you checked you were the expert on hand to provide guidance on communications and lead the company to new, exciting territory. Well, not always.  Frustrations and confusion almost always accompany this type of client as agencies feel they are working against, not with your efforts.

Telling Signs:  Emails including the phrases: “This looks great, but..” “This is a little too much change for us.” Or “Let’s stick with what we already have in place.”

Symptoms: Stillborn campaigns, Account Executive migraines from beating on desk, drained agency hours with nothing to show, bi-polar or apathetic creative team

Remedy: Remember that you are on the same team. Try to understand and communicate with the client on intentions when creating a new strategy or creative direction. The client either wants the assurance of your capabilities (should they finally commit to change), is appeasing a task from higher up for new ideas or at the end of the day is protecting a brand that they built and a shift will be incremental, if any.  If the client appreciates and likes your work, congrats. They know your value. I guess the questions for the agency would be: Is having a solid offense strategy enough or are you tired of standing on the sidelines in this game?  Regardless, identifying and understanding this client is key to a stress-free relationship.

Continue Reading →

0

On the Third Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Three Experts Blogging

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

At HMG Creative, we know that like most things in life, blogging is better when done with friends. So we searched from coast to coast to bring you some of the most-respected marketing experts in the business. We know it is important to not only share our thoughts and insights, but impart the expertise and perspective of others; and we think these 3 individuals got it going on. Enjoy opening these 3 gifts from industry experts and friends of HMG Creative.

6 Ways to Use Images to Improve Your Web Conversion Rate by Tim Ash
CEO SiteTuners, Author, Landing Page Optimization

5 Types of Blog Content That Drive Engagement by Shelly Kramer
Founder and CEO V3 Integrated Marketing, FORBES Top 50 Social Media Influencer

3 keys to Scaling Content Marketing Success by Lee Odden
CEO TopRank Marketing; Author, Optimize

0

On the Third Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Lee Odden Blogging

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

I had the pleasure of meeting Lee Odden and his awesome right-hand lady, Ashley Zeckman, at a marketing conference here in San Diego. Lee has a reputation that precedes him, and for good reason. From search, social to PR and optimization, Lee knows how to breakdown valuable and actionable information whether he is speaking to a crowd of hundreds or taking pen to paper in his book. Enjoy this post from Lee on content marketing, think: “sharable.” 

And for more insights be sure to follow him on Twitter @leeodden.

 

3 Keys to Scaling Content Marketing Success

 

Is Your Content Findable, Engaging & Shareable?

“KISS” is probably the best advice when it comes to giving advice (Keep It Simple Stupid) and for that reason this post is short and sweet on the topic of how to ensure your great content attracts, engages and converts.

Whether your goals are narrowly focused on revenue or more strategic involving branding and community as well as growing the business, the scalability of effective content is essential in today’s competitive marketplace.

No matter how much you invest in content marketing strategy, planning, production, amplification or analytics, there are three key requirements that each content object should satisfy. Great content isn’t great until it’s discovered, consumed and shared.

Findability – A lot of our work involves content development and the way many organizations are structured, content discovery isn’t a driver, but more of an afterthought.

Effective content marketing is about creating information that’s useful for specific audiences and with certain outcomes in mind.  While intent and context are often satisfied, the question of findability is usually underestimated. In particular, I’m talking about optimizing for search or social discovery. There are also promotion channels such as email, cross linking from existing content, 3rd party editorial links, news release distribution, social promotions, pay per click advertising and social media advertising.

What good is the great content you’re creating if no one can find it? By ensuring findability through optimization and promotion, the reach and amplification for content can be extended dramatically and for a very long period of time.   If you set goals for social and organic search traffic for the content being produced, those involved might become as thoughtful about content optimization as they are about content quality. This isn’t either or, expect both.

Engaging– Competition is tough and as more brands employ content publishing in their mix, it’s important that the content being produced considers engagement. How? Relevance, context and experience are good starters.

Is your content object relevant for the audience that will discover it? Is the information useful? Does it provide utility? Is it thought provoking? Does the information help satisfy the reader’s goals and at the same time, help bring them closer along in the buyer journey?

The notion of engagement can be very subjective so be sure to identify goals for engagement whether it’s a combination of page views, comments and social shares or traffic and conversions. Monitor interactions with content to discern trends so you can optimize future content object performance.

Sharability – A lot of optimization for search and social media performance is about making it easy for buyers to do what you want them to do. Adding social share widgets is part of that. Writing compelling titles that work for short character counts in social sharing situations like Twitter is also a best practice. Content quality and relevance come in to play for sharing as well.

Are you creating content that’s so good, people will want to share it with others? Have you made it easy for them to share?  Sharing for sharing’s sake isn’t going to solve any business problems, so make sure you know: Does the act of sharing help fulfill your objectives for the content?

There’s a lot of great brand content and story out there that isn’t getting the exposure that it could, simply because content producers are not tasked or accountable to one or more of these three simple requirements: Findability, Engagement and Shareability. Ensuring these characteristics are present for each content object through a process is a sure way to scale content marketing effectiveness whether your goals are social, PR, customer service or marketing focused.

0

On the Third Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Tim Ash Blogging

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

This post comes from a new friend of HMG Creative in San Diego, the man who knows it all about landing page optimization – he wrote the book on it! Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTuners is an engaging speaker, author and truly understands how to convert clicks into customers. Enjoy another great one and be sure to follow him on Twitter @tim_ash.

 

 

6 Ways to Use Images to Improve Your Web Conversion Rate

Many people who have heard me speak know that I’m not a fan of using gratuitous images just to spice up your web design. By its very nature, the web is a visual medium, and the wrong image can create a visual distraction that pulls your visitor away from your key message points and/or call-to-action. Aside from causing a distraction, images can create confusion (if they aren’t aligned with visitor expectations) and even make a visitor feel insecure (if the quality is low or is commonly used as “stock” imagery.) Naturally, all of this leads to lower conversions.

But I do need to set the record straight: I’m not against images altogether. In fact, the right images, properly placed, are an important element of every website, especially if you’re marketing a product or service online. Images can help engage visitors and focus attention on your value proposition and/or call-to-action. Used correctly, the right graphics and images can help personalize your organization, especially if your customers’ first (or only) contact with you is online. Here are six ways you can use images to increase your web conversion rate:

1. Get emotional. Like it or not, decisions are made emotionally. Neuroscientists have shown that, of the three parts of the human brain, our choices are driven by the emotional “reptilian” brain. Many interesting books have been written on the subject, but if you remember just one thing about the reptilian brain, make it this: the reptilian brain is visually oriented and responds rapidly to images. Choose your images very carefully to be sure that they will evoke a specific emotion that will help push your visitor’s buy buttons. While this is more easily done for a lifestyle product or service (restaurants, travel, consumer products, etc.), creating emotions through photos and images should be done for all websites. Your job is to figure out what emotions will help drive the purchase of your product or service, and work to create those feelings through your pictures.

2. Be original. We have all seen them: the image of three professionals hovering around a conference table or the shot of the female phone operator smiling into her headset…stock photos that get overused so often they become laughable. Stock photos are a cost-effective way to include images in your marketing materials, but they can adversely impact your web conversion rate. Even if you have the most innovative products in your industry, you may lose a lot of customers if your cookie-cutter images make you seem like a cookie-cutter company.

3. Keep it real. If you use testimonials on your site (and I hope you do), you know that your customers can be your best salespeople. But have you considered using a photo alongside each letter of praise, or even shooting a video testimonial? Include photos and videos of your customers throughout your site, not just buried on a testimonials page, to help build trust and confidence in your organization. Showing real people who have benefitted from your products or services can make a huge impact on your conversion rate.

4. Be symbolic. Your company may not have immediate brand recognition, but you can still use high-value logos and recognizable symbols to inspire confidence and reduce any doubt that your company is worthy of your visitors’ business. If your company has been written about in the news, include the logo of the media outlet. If your clients represent well-known companies, display their logos to show who you’ve worked for. And if you allow transactions online, use symbols to assure the visitor that her information will be safe with you. Symbols and logos are key elements to building trust online. They can help validate you in ways that words simply can’t.

5. Be photogenic. One of the best ways to connect with your customers and improve your web conversion rate, especially if you have a local brick-and-mortar business, is to display candid photos showing visitors what it’s like to visit your establishment. For example, if you own a local restaurant, you probably want to show diners having a good time and enjoying your cuisine. Even if all of your company’s transactions happen online, showing photos of your staff and your environment can help assure potential new clients that you’re an established organization and not a fly-by-night company run out of someone’s garage. Let your website be a window into your organization, and invite your visitors to peer in.

6. Create a cheerleader. Want to get really creative? Think about inventing a mascot for your business. Studies show that consumers not only buy brands they recognize but, specifically, the face of those brands. Consider the Coca-Cola polar bears, the Geico gecko, and the E-Trade baby. You could create buzz, brand recognition, and instant credibility by being the only company in your industry to have a real character.

Implementing just one of these strategies can boost your web conversion rate and increase sales. You may not have the time, creativity, or internal support to create a mascot for your company, but can you switch out some of your stock photos with images that truly connect with your customers? Even this small change can deliver surprising results.

0

The Guide to Take Big Brand Ideas by Rediscovering Your Own- Part Two: Fresh Content

Posted on Dec 05, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

There is a reason that there are thousands of articles online that address ways to improve your company’s social media presence — Social media is fun to talk about, tough to implement and an even bigger challenge for companies to be creative and stay consistent.

The truth is there is no cut and dry answer to social media. It’s subjective, ever-changing and ideas must be adapted to fit your business and brand. Wait, what was that? Yes, adapted means you have to do some work. Perhaps this is why so many struggle with social media. We hear words like “strategy” and “content creation” and we automatically cringe at the thought of where we should start climbing this beast of a social media mountain.  It’s simply too much work. Your company is not that complex, Right? (These are probably some of the same people who said four years ago, “I don’t have time for social media” or “My customers don’t use Facebook.”) Think again.

“Shop the World, Steal from the Best.”

You do learn some things in school. An advertising professor at The University of Texas said the above quote and it holds true for many aspects of marketing in any industry. (Don’t take the word “steal” literally, please.) Shop around for strategy and tactic ideas like Instant Profits with Instagram . Check out all kinds of brands and companies across the board, on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Note what you love and what you don’t. Take a look at regional competitors in your space and similar companies in your industry across the country. See how they engage fans from contests, images, blogs and other creative ways like highlighting clients or staff. Save pages that impress you and that you would one day like to achieve. Even if you aren’t sure how to implement something immediately, put it on a wish list so it can be top-of-mind when planning.  Social media is an a la carte approach, shop away.

Think Big, Be Simple, Stay Fresh.

This section is key to implementation. (Where most of us drop off, me included.) Don’t be overwhelmed or discouraged after looking at brands like Coke or Chobani; adapt (ahem, work) their tactics into your own social strategy. Note: Be sure to share unique content on each social media platform, not everything on Twitter needs to be on Facebook and vice versa.  Remember no company is too small to utilize these ideas; you just have to make them your own and don’t over complicate the concepts. Below are some items to think about and examples on what to adopt and why.

  • Relevancy:  This goes back to your audience. Take current industry news and re-write your own opinion in a short blog post or repost to your fans. You don’t always need to start from scratch or re-create the wheel.  If a story is timely, your followers will be more likely to engage.
  • Consistency:  This is about expectations. If you are consistent with posts, fans will know what to expect.  One good tactic is posting specific content each day of the week; you can try utilizing weekly hashtags the community will look forward to and share, posting tips or advice on certain days — make it fun, be creative, but be consistent.
  • Engagement: Remember, your job is to stimulate desire and action from your audience; how you do that is determined by your goals and creativity. Pictures and videos are one of the best ways to get instant engagement and can be an opportunity for fans to share among their friends.  Don’t constantly pitch your work , but this is a great way to do it, sparingly.  Offer a coupon, have a small contest or solicit feedback from your followers. Whatever combination you choose, offer value, be genuine and ask for engagement — your audience will respond.
  • Quality of Posts/Credibility: The more cohesive your approach is, the more credibility you will have. Want to become a credible resource? Provide advice related to your industry, share industry events, community happenings, quotes from experts and of course your own words as well.  Make sure you provide value to your fans and loyalty will follow.

Don’t be Afraid to Flop.

Social media is a living breathing strategy. You aren’t always going to score a home run but you have to start somewhere.   Now is the time when you can come up with actionable items. When you make your own rules, you are more likely to abide and succeed. The goal to creating fresh content and injecting big brand ideas starts by reevaluating yours.

Have some success stories of your own? More ideas to share?  Comment and help other professionals stay creative when delivering social media content.

0

The Guide to Take Big Brand Ideas by Rediscovering Your Own- Part 1: Get to Know Your Brand

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

Many professionals get jazzed up after reading a social media article, but the excitement and strategy escapes as soon as the page is minimized in exchange for the next enticing link in their Twitter feed.  I see it all too often, a quick high followed by complete memory-loss on what they have just read.  It sounds good on screen, but do those tid-bits of advice make it past your monitor?

Yes, Your Brand is Interesting, Now Keep Them Interested

Content marketing isn’t just for the Fortune 500 and effective social media isn’t reserved for the companies packed 20+ deep in their communications department. But your social strategy isn’t going to be served to you on a silver platter, either.  If you don’t change your actions, you are destined to get the same results. And that shouldn’t be a surprise.  Social media is fun to talk about, tough to implement and an even bigger challenge for companies to be creative and stay consistent.

Getting started is often the hardest part of any task, and social media is no different.  But having a better understanding of your brand will help you navigate and create a social media presence that truly makes an impact.  Get in touch with your company and only then can you begin to create fresh content and a strategy that you can rely on.

Rethink Your Role.

First, we must look at ourselves. If you are a business owner or a professional eager to make big changes with your online strategy for your company, own it. You are now a social media ambassador. You don’t have to be a PR professional or in your 20s to understand the social media game.  Thinking different is almost always a catalyst to act different. Don’t be afraid to jump in with both feet and explore ways to discover and redefine your brand and communication. Mental blocks are your fabricated obstructions, drop them.

Rethink with Your Brand. (If you don’t think you have a “brand,” you do.)

  • Find Your Voice:

The kind of content you create centers around a common tone. For some it’s professional, casual, witty, conversational or sarcastic if that’s your shtick. You can be a few things, but not everything. Decide now.

  • Identify Goals:

Like a dear friend of mine says: You have to know what you want to get what you want. Increase exposure, gain fans/followers, increase engagement/comments, get more newsletter subscribers, get new leads, position your brand as a resource, educate on a certain topic, find partners, etc.  Decide what you want to gain out of social media and make sure that all content addresses one of these goals.

  • Choose Channels:

Not all channels are for every company. Not everyone needs every social outlet under the sun. But brainstorm how each platform could be leveraged and decide what makes sense for you. And you don’t have to launch all platforms at once. Set yourself up for success. Start with Facebook, Twitter and a blog. Then branch out when you have mastered those tools and see how to effectively integrate others.

  • Identify Fans/Followers:

Know your audience and always keep them in mind. Outline in brief, categories of your fans and then things that interest them.  Clients, partners, prospects, local businesses, etc.   Create content tailored to your audience and what is important to them. This will help keep you on track when deciding what to post or blog about.

  • Have a Baseline:

To know where you are going you have to know where you have been. Note your number of fans and followers so you can track your growth as you move forward. Also use tools on Facebook to see current demographics, which posts were seen by the most people and what was the most viral.