Marketing In a Post-Covid World

 

Many things have changed since Covid-19, but what have remained constant are the fundamentals of marketing. While marketing strategies might have evolved, the goal has not. The purpose of marketing is to educate and convince your audience to purchase or utilize your products and services. You still need to find and examine how your target audience is interacting with the various online platforms available to them and then invest in the channels that are right for your company. And….you still need to show value and offer your customers a solution.

How to Market Taking A Stand

Sometimes the solution is taking a stand for causes that are important to your customers. The idea of brands supporting different causes certainly wasn’t a new concept pre Covid-19, but that strategy hasn’t drawn as much attention in the past as it is now. Last year we saw hundreds of companies and brands take a stand for racial equality, diversity, and inclusion, along with implementing new green practices and sustainability. Nowadays, consumers expect their favorite brands to become more socially responsible, and it will become even more common, as time goes on.

So, what does taking a stand look like in terms of marketing? Take LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton for example. Early on in the pandemic, this company switched from making perfumes and cosmetics to focus on producing hand sanitizer for Parisian hospitals. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton also donated 40 million masks to frontline health workers. This switch not only incited love from their current customers, but they also gained an entirely new set of customers, who had reexamined their opinion about the luxury company.

“Helping Hands” for E-commerce Marketing

E-commerce’s popularity has significantly increased with consumers ever since quarantine, and it make sense. People are still being cautious due to Covid concerns, and even when they begin to feel safe shopping in stores again, the e-commerce trend isn’t going to slow down. According to the 13 countries that were surveyed by McKinsey, 65% of people stated they have tried and will continue to shop online.

Marketing for e-commerce requires specific digital marketing tactics and strategies in order for you to achieve the best possible results. Some of these tactics have been around for a while like SEO, product reviews, content and social media marketing, and other digital marketing strategies.

However, with consumers shopping e-commerce now more than ever, these original marketing tactics may need a “helping hand”. These could be anything from adding a “buy” button to your social media posts, more detail to your Google shopping information, a more streamlined landing page experience and more.

How to Stay Customer-Centric

During the world-wide pandemic, consumers have been looking for comfort and understanding from the brands that they are loyal to. In order for brands to earn and keep consumers’ loyalty, they will need to walk the talk, not just talk the talk.

What does this mean? For some brands it means stepping up their personalized marketing strategies, offering AI programs that solve consumer problems quickly and effectively, or offering personal shopping sessions online or in store. For others it means offering timely blogs and vlogs speaking to consumers’ pressing needs, or having an educational landing page that is about specific topics they want to know more about.

Another strategy that could help to keep your audience loyal is to provide them with case studies or whitepapers. These allow them to see your success and help make a compelling case for why they should choose your product or service.

Now is the time to reacquaint yourself with your audiences’ needs, goals, and interests as well as explore new marketing opportunities. 360 Direct can assist you with developing a strategy to fit your audiences’ needs, and your business goals. Contact a team member today!


Online Reviews Do What?

 

Online reviews have become an important way of communication between the clients and the business. These ratings help show store owners the areas of their business where they are providing great service, or where they may need some improvement. Online ratings are also a way for buyers to promote products and services to fellow shoppers — as long as brands take the time to manage customer concerns and feedback.  

The Pros and Cons of Online Reviews  

Customers are always online searching for the best deals before deciding to click “add to cart”, and with all of the latest technology at their fingertips, it’s easy for them to find that information. 90% of customers say that they read online reviews before deciding where they will take their business 

The top platforms used by consumers today for product/service research are Google, Yelp, Glassdoor, and Facebook. Online reviews can have a great impact on your business, both positive and negative. When your company receives positive reviews, they indicate that your organization is reputable and these can help influence the consumer to purchase your products or services. Conversely, 94% of online customers have stated that a negative review will influence them to take their business elsewhere. 

How to Handle Negative Online Reviews 

Unfortunately, negative reviews are a part of life. Regardless of whether it’s a major company or a local establishment, some people are not going to be satisfied with the products or services they receive. However, the way you handle negative feedback is of the utmost importance.  

First, do not let negative reviews go unanswered. Acknowledge the issue a customer has and apologize for any inconvenience. This response shows that you genuinely care about your customers’ experiences and want to make it right. You might even be able to change that negative review into a positive one!  

Another tip? Don’t get defensive. Instead, promote your business in a tactful way without sounding condescending to the customer. By responding positively, you are allowing the customer to feel that their grievances have been heard. When you reply to a negative review, be authentic and personal. This will show how sincere you are. Also, provide your name and a way to contact you directly, so the customer doesn’t feel their complaint isn’t being generally dismissed 

Finally, don’t let them draw you into an online battle. The best thing you can do with a negative review is to learn from it. Use it to look into your products or services to see if there are any improvements that can be made or if the review was detailing an isolated experience.  

How Online Reviews Impact SEO 

Many times reputation management is overlooked or it’s the last thing to be reviewed when trying to increase SEO. However, Google uses online reviews to validate your business to consumers. Ratings send Google a signal showing positive interactions customers have had with your company. Even negative ratings help by showing how problems were resolved.  

Online reviews can even help boost your conversions. Positive ratings let potential customers see that your business promotes customer loyalty and trust, which often sways them into purchasing products and services. While helping to increase conversions, ratings can also help search engines understand your brand better, which can allow you to achieve greater website visibility. When a potential customer searches for products or services you offer, Google may show them your ads, increasing brand awareness.  

While it can be scary to ask for reviews, they can help funnel consumers to your website without having to spend extra time and money.  

Need a hand setting up a place for reviews? 360 Direct can help! Contact one of our team members today. 


5 Steps To Keep Business Afloat During COVID-19

 

5 Steps To Keep Business Afloat During COVID-19

If we were told in February that we would be working from home and quarantined due to a virus, we wouldn’t have believed it. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, life hasn’t been the same. Some businesses have had to close their doors, festivals cancelled, no sports on tv, and you have to wear a mask just to go to the grocery store. 

Fortunately for 360 Direct, we are able to work from home, but that’s not the case for everyone. Businesses, big or small, such as coffee shops, salons, and even gyms, have had to close their doors until this pandemic is over. For some companies this could mean closing their doors forever. Thankfully there are some steps businesses can take to help keep their doors open and their customers loyal.

Steps To Keep Business Running Smoothly

Step One:

Take on a “people first” mentality. What do we mean by that? A business’s first priority, whether big or small, should be to its employees. Making sure to communicate transparently with your employees and ensure their health and safety. Employees aren’t going to be able to work when they’re thinking about the health and safety of their families. Which leads us to our next step.

Step Two:

Invest or offer remote working stations. To help put your employees’ minds at ease, offer them a way to work remotely, if possible. This not only helps your employees stay safe and healthy, but it also helps to keep your business open so that you can still offer services to your customers. Having the option to work remotely in place transitions us into step number three.

Step Three:

Develop a response for disasters/pandemics. It’s no secret that many businesses didn’t have a plan in place when COVID-19 struck. But now is the time to create one. Having an already-created response will help make the transition smoother the next time a disaster or pandemic occurs. It also helps to reassure your employees and customers. Which brings us to step four.

Step Four:

Engage with customers. Stay connected with your customers. Let them know that you’re still open, or keep them informed on when you’re going to open again. Let them know if they can buy their supplies online, pick them up curbside, or order them through a third company for delivery. This helps to keep your customers loyal and lets them know that you’re thinking of them, which leads us to our final step.

Step Five:

Use social media. Keeping an online social presence not only helps your business but it helps you stay engaged with your customers. By using social media you can reach out via ads, boosted posts, or messenger. You can also take this time to reach out to new audiences. Now is the time to be on social media since the majority of people are stuck at home and are on their devices even more than usual.

Utilizing these five steps will help keep your business afloat during COVID-19 and will help you have a plan for the next time a disaster or pandemic strikes. 

Need help setting up your COVID-19 marketing strategy or social media? Contact one of our team members today!


The Power of Branding Your Company

What is a Branding Statement?

A branding statement used to be identified as an organization’s name, logo, slogan, sign, symbol, design, or a combination of all of these. These days, a branding statement is what makes an establishment stand out from their competition. A company’s branding statement is a promise sent out into the world that sets the tone for a customer’s first impression of the organization. For example, 360 Direct’s branding statement is “Growing businesses one dream at a time.” When a customer sees or hears this tagline, they connect it to us, 360 Direct. From this simple statement, our customers know exactly what we do, and why we do it.

What Makes a Good Branding Statement?

In today’s fast paced, technical world, a good tagline is important. If an organization’s marketing brand statement is not visually appealing, or is too difficult for the customer to understand, they probably won’t remember the business. However if the branding statement is colorful, fun, and easy to remember, the customer will be more than likely to return to that company when it comes time to purchase a product or service. An establishment’s tagline should promote trust and loyalty from customers, and should communicate effectively with the demographics they are selling to. A good branding statement makes the customer want to purchase the products or services, and keeps them coming back.

How to Find and Create Your Branding Statement

Ask yourself what makes your organization stand out from the rest. Is there something special that your do that your competition does not? Are you an innovator, a visionary? Is your business a leader in the industry? Don’t be afraid to brag about your company. Once you have an answer to these questions, create a branding statement that highlights the uniqueness of your organization. After you have put together your branding statement, incorporate it into your website and across all of your marketing efforts. Place it somewhere that your customers will see and remember it. 

Finding and creating a branding statement is important, but can be overwhelming. If you’d like help creating yours, contact a 360 Direct member today!


10 Marketing Lessons Learned Over 10 Years

10 Lessons Over 10 Years of Marketing

10 Marketing Lessons Learned Over 10 Years

 

Experience isn’t everything, but we’d be a very different agency without it. Through 10 years of bull markets and bear markets, a nation-wide recession and a manufacturing renaissance, experience has taught our team a few things about marketing in the real world. Here are 10 things we’ve learned about what it takes to grow businesses, one dream at a time.

Measurable and Adaptable

1. Marketing Plans Should Be Measurable and Adaptable

As a business grows, marketing strategy should grow to accommodate it — because when marketing stagnates, so do businesses. By measuring the ROI of your current marketing, you’ll know which tactics to cut and which ones to keep as market trends and business plans change with time.

2. Know the Power of SEO

Over the last 10 years, Google has changed the game — repeatedly. So, marketers had to change along with it. Content strategy and web design can’t just look and sound nice anymore, it has to serve a function, too. That’s what SEO is — everything from copy writing and graphics to social media and backend web design is a potential tool for getting found.

Power of SEO
Take Risks with Digital Advertising

3. Take Calculated Risks with Paid Digital Ads

Over the last 10 years, paid digital strategy has become an essential part of many solid marketing strategies. It helps guide targeted pools of web traffic to the information they’re most interested in ways nothing else can. This winds up benefiting both internet users and your business’ bottom line. Beyond that, rapidly growing social media followership almost requires a paid digital strategy these days.

4. Don’t Discount Traditional Advertising

The popularity of digital marketing can make traditional methods seem a lot less intriguing – but they can work when done well. We’ve had both successful calling campaigns and direct mail campaigns, even in 2019. It all depends on your business and what your specific target audience will respond to. And let’s be honest: some folks just like to keep it old school.

Don't Discount Traditional Advertising
Power of Local Media

5. Harness the Power of Local Media

Taking the time to hash out a simple press release during important events or community involvement can go a long way towards boosting your local profile. Over time, your relationships with local press will pay dividends with new and better opportunities to get your name out there.

6. Focus on What the Customer Wants, Not What You Think Is Important

Business owners can sometimes have a very different idea of what sells compared to what customers appreciate the most about a business. Learn what speaks to your target audience – especially if they are very demographically different from the business’ executive leadership. Don’t assume that what speaks to you will connect with the customer.

Target Customers Know What They Want
Target the Right Customers for Your Business

7. Learn the Difference Between “A” Customers and “C” Customers

Don’t drain your resources on low profit, high maintenance customers. Retool your marketing to draw in the A List — aka your best customers. Expanding your A List will make your business more sustainable in the long run, and allow you to move through growing pains with less, well, pain. A List identification and growth is something that marketing is uniquely capable of accomplishing.

8. Marketing is About Relationships

Not only are you building relationships with your audience, you should be building relationships with industry publications, fellow businesses, and community leadership. Marketing departments are uniquely positioned to foster these relationships in a way that promotes your business and gives sales staff new tools and opportunities.

Relationship Marketing
Keep Your Marketing on Brand

9. Keep Your Marketing on Brand

Be careful that your next big idea or trendy marketing tactic doesn’t deviate from your company’s core messaging. Marketing that results in brand confusion actually does the opposite of what you intend. Consistent marketing, on the other hand, solidifies your relationships with customers and continues to remind them of who you are and why the work with you.

10. Treat Marketing Like and Investment, Not an Expense

Marketing should always pay for itself and then some. By investing properly in the right talent, tactics, and strategies, you can reap the highest rewards for the risks you take. No marketing tactic is guaranteed to work, but with research, expertise, and planning, we can increase the chances of success. This makes both marketing and doing business more cost effective and profitable in the long run.

Marketing is an Investment

If all of that seems like a lot to wrap your head around, don’t worry, we’ve already done most of the homework for you. For more information on how to craft game changing marketing without contracts, retainers, or wasted resources, contact a 360 Direct team member today.


Getting results with digital advertising

Should I Be Doing Digital Advertising?

Getting results with digital advertising

Want to know more about the difference between SEO and PPC? Check out our infographic!

Paid advertising is faster than building SEO or organically growing an email newsletter list, but it’s not necessary for every single industry. There are some industries in which online advertising is so prevalent that it’s basically a necessity in order to compete. Other industries don’t use it as much. That means you can get away with not adding it to your marketing strategy, but it could also mean that you have a huge opportunity to set yourself apart from your competitors.

What is digital advertising?

Digital advertising can encompass: 

  • Paid ads on social media 
  • Ads that appear in search results on Google or other search engines
  • Video ads that appear before or during other video content
  • Image-based ads that appear on all kinds of websites (not limited to search engines or social media platforms)

Digital advertising, often referred to as pay-per-click or PPC, can be custom designed to reach your end goal. You can use it to build brand awareness, generate leads, or make sales. You can use it to build your social media following so your content has a larger organic reach. While it’s called pay-per-click, you can also pay per conversion or thousands of impressions.

Part of what makes digital advertising so flexible and appealing is the ability to target the ads to very specific people. Different platforms have different capabilities, but you can target people by what they are actively searching for or in the market for, by their interests, by their demographic (age, sex, income, marital status), job title or industry, and so much more.

How Much Does Digital Advertising Cost

One of the benefits of digital advertising is that, unlike a print ad or billboard, you can decide what you want the budget to be. Most online tools – Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Bing – will predict the range of results you will receive for that budget. Your exact budget will depend on your goal – brand recognition, website traffic, sales, or something else – and the industry you are in. 

Digital advertising offers a lot of budget flexibility and control. You can start and stop your ads anytime, and best of all, reallocate your budget based on results. Digital advertising platforms have some of the best measuring tools of any marketing tactic. As your campaign runs, you can monitor the results and adjust your targeting, content, and budget to get the best ROI possible.

How to Get the Best Results with Online Advertising

One manufacturing client took a chance on digital ads when print ads were out of budget, and has results 5x the industry average. Check out the case study!

The key to getting great results on digital advertising is to be flexible. The initial campaign you set up is very unlikely to generate the best ROI possible. Consistent testing, measuring, and adjusting, is necessary to achieve the best results. Remember that the goal is to find your audience where they are and speak their language. It’s very possible that your target audience doesn’t know all the technical terms you use internally, or use your product’s specific name when they have a need. 

How many companies would stop R&D because “our competitors don’t do it that way”? Don’t be afraid to try something new, or to stop doing something that isn’t working. Online advertising is one of the most measurable forms of marketing, which makes it perfect for testing different messaging or targeting. Data doesn’t lie! If something’s not working, test some changes to discover what will get better results. 

While digital advertising isn’t absolutely necessary for every single business, there are so many custom options that most industries can benefit from a well targeted digital ad campaign. If you want to learn more about how your company could benefit from digital advertising, connect with us here!


Top 5 B2B Marketing Trends 2019

Top 5 B2B Marketing Trends of 2019

2019 has proven so far to be another great year for marketing. Take a look at top trends you could capitalize on that are dominating the field.

Top 5 B2B Marketing Trends 2019

Download the full infographic here. 


Case Study

Case Study: Manufacturer of Complex Machined Parts

Case Study

Client Description

360 Direct began working with a precision machined parts manufacturer in 2017. This company specializes in machining, welding, and fabricating high tolerance parts used in agricultural, mining, and construction equipment. The machine shop has an international customer base, and has roots dating back to the early 1900s.

360 Direct designed this client’s marketing plan to focus on sustainable growth in various inbound marketing metrics that ultimately lead to growth in revenue. Metrics include web traffic and inbound leads. Additional goals included better name and brand awareness and a more diverse customer portfolio.

The client’s monthly program began with email marketing, social media, and blogs, alongside a new website build. As results began to show themselves and the value of marketing made itself apparent, the client has expanded their program to incorporate editorial writing and PR, case studies, internal signage, and digital advertising, as well as tackle additional projects like video and photography.

 

Strategy & Tactics

Website

This company began with an out of date website that they didn’t enjoy showing prospects. 360 Direct built a website that was much more modern, responsive to all screen sizes, and easy for users to navigate. The site features their company video and updated imagery. 360 Direct continues to update the website regularly with new blogs, press, and photos.

By using website and SEO best practices, their organic web traffic increased 50% from 2017 to 2018, and continues to grow year over year.

2017 & 2018 Comparative Analytics

2017 and 2018 Comparative Analytics
PR and Editorials

360 Direct leveraged its relationships with various industry publications to feature the machine shop in many different manufacturing magazines including, Manufacturing in Focus, The Fabricator, Industrial Machinery Digest, Manufacturing News, and Advanced Manufacturing. These opportunities included press releases as well as printed editorials highlighting the company. This earned media resulted in exposure in a very targeted market at no cost to them. The cost to get a fraction of the space in each magazine would run tens of thousands of dollars.

Google Ads

The client wanted to get a little more aggressive in their marketing to capitalize on some of the attention they were getting from various industry publications. 360 Direct suggested the use of Google Ads as a cost effective alternative to traditional advertising with excellent results. Their CTR (Click Through Rate) for Display Google Ads is currently over three times the industry average.  

The Client’s Average Display Ad Click Rate:

Average Display Ad Click Rate

Social Media

Social media was activated and regularly updated as part of their marketing program. Over the course of two years, their Twitter was grown from zero to 534 followers, while Instagram topped over 100 followers in the first 4 months after activation.

Email Marketing

A monthly email newsletter is sent to keep customers and prospects informed of everything the company has to offer. Their team has made the most of these email newsletter campaigns by following up with recipients who click on a link. This maximizes their sales team’s time.

Photography

The client needed photography to include on their website, social media, and for editorial opportunities. Photos included featured machines, headshots of key employees, and action shots. Now, every opportunity they come across can be quickly enhanced by relevant imagery.

Video

This client wanted to take advantage of how effective video can be, but needed to keep projects cost effective. 360 Direct has edited videos taken in house, created no-frills training videos, and pulled out all the stops for more polished videos fit to present with.

Their company video was a few years old, and quite a bit has changed since then. They opted to shoot a new company video and an HR video for recruiting new employees. 360 Direct shot both videos at the same time to make the projects more cost effective.

Special Campaigns and Projects

There are some opportunities that don’t happen often, and this client is highly motivated in taking advantage of them when they come along. Part of having a scaleable, flexible marketing agency is being able to grab onto opportunities when they arise. Projects have included:

  • Signage and collateral for job fairs
  • Filming training sessions and creating internal signage and collateral for staff
  • Photography, signage, and a press release when a federal-level politician chose the company as their site for a Town Hall meeting
  • Print ads for local partnerships

 

Client Feedback

This company is always finding new ways to grow and positively impact the local community, and 360 Direct is honored to help them achieve success. With their newfound international business partnerships and their ongoing efforts to close the skills gap, they are an inspiring company to market.

Like many manufacturing companies, this client came to us knowing they needed more marketing, but unsure if anyone would actually be interested in reading about what they do. After we emailed them their first blog, they replied, “Wow- I just read this blog and it’s impressive because you have produced an article on machining that is interesting to read, not just an outpouring of facts and figures…. I like this!” With each editorial, blog, or web update we produce, the client is enthusiastic about the work we do and is consistently impressed by the results they see.

The machine shop is thriving and successfully growing into new markets with a marketing strategy tailored to their goals. In 2019, 360 Direct and the client have new projects and campaigns planned to take their business and their marketing to the next level and keep up the pattern of aggressive growth.


Successfully Engage Your Audience

Successfully Engage the Audience You Want, One Event at a Time

Successfully Engage Your Audience

Whether you�re hosting an event, or simply participating in one, there are plenty of ways to engage your potential customers. Event marketing not only acts as another avenue for brand recognition, it gives prospective customers something to get excited about with your company. As a B2B company, the true success of an event is how many hot leads or actual sales you get from it and engaging your audience effectively is the key to pulling those leads further into your sales funnel.

If You Build It, They May Come

The first step of pursuing event marketing is deciding what type of event you want to do. It�s important that you focus on the wants of your target audience and where you can find them in order for your event to perform successfully. A popular event is only beneficial to you if it�s popular with your target audience. In some cases, a smaller event with a more narrow appeal will work better for you.

Once you figure out the type of event you want to pursue, how do you plan on getting the word out? Events are great opportunities to not only gain the interest of people you haven�t connected with yet, but also to engage with your existing contacts. Through the use of free and inexpensive tactics (examples listed below), there is potential for the marketing of your event to garner tremendous reach.

  • Press Releases – This is a free way to push the relevant information about your event to publications and on your website.

  • Website Landing Pages – Having an event-specific page on your website that has all the details and a contact form for more information is perfect for tracking how many potential leads are interested. Use this in your press releases, emails, and on social media to make sure it garners the attention it needs. Also, using Google Analytics, you can see precisely who your website page is attracting.

  • Digital Advertising – Google Ads and Facebook Advertising are both inexpensive yet highly effective options for pushing event promotion for your company. The reach can be extremely targeted and it is important to utilize channels that your audience is using for professional and personal use – just make sure that you make use of things like these fb reporting tools! You’ll want to make sure that you are using Facebook effectively and correctly. Use these tools to your advantage and you should be good to go, just make sure to keep an eye on things. You could look into hiring a facebook ads agency to help you with promotion and upping you ROI at the same time.

  • Email – If you utilize email marketing, another simple way to get your event information out to your audience is to include a section in your monthly or quarterly email newsletter on your event. This could simply be a graphic with a description and call to action to learn more on your website landing page.

  • Social Media – Creating an event page on Facebook. This is easy, free, and increases the visibility and reach of your event.

Using tactics like these, you can potentially reach thousands of prospects while re-engaging with your current customer base and keeping them informed of your progress. Targeted landing pages and digital advertising are especially helpful with events because of their trackability and reporting capabilities to analyze the success of the event.

What to Offer – The Importance of Incentivizing

You now have a chance to be creative with your prospects so that they willingly give you their information and stick around to learn more about your company. When you are asking a prospect for their email or phone number, they�ll be much more likely to comply if they receive something of value in return. You can raffle a prize, or you can dig deeper and offer them something that relates directly to your company, like a trial of your product or a consultation. That has the added benefit of being typically lower cost to you, and moving them further into your sales pipeline.

SWAG items are often popular. While they aren�t often enticing enough to get a contact point in return, they are a useful tool in keeping your brand in front of your prospects. In order for it to be worth the cost, the SWAG item needs to be of interest or of use to your prospect. How many stress balls does an executive have on his desk?

Engaging your event audience is crucial to the success of your marketing efforts, especially if it�s executed with trackability and consumer value in mind. Whether you�re unsure what event could be right for you, or have ideas but need help putting everything together, visit our Contact page and get in touch with one of our marketing experts today. Our team has the tools and expertise you need to help you engage the audience you want.