What are you most excited about when the latest iPhone launches? A better camera? Better color? A bigger screen? According to a report by Preply’s, 42% say it’s the release of new emojis that gets them energized.
Emojis date back to the 1990s when they were designed by a Japanese marketing agency with the intention of replacing words with pictures to enhance emotions and messages. With over 25,000 characters worldwide right now, there’s no denying that emojis have become a permanent part of our digital and everyday lives.
More and more brands are beginning to understand the power that emojis can bring to their marketing activities. Brands are using them to make their content more emotionally appealing, showcase their brand’s personality and boost audience engagement. And they’re doing so across a variety of channels—social media, paid advertising, email campaigns and more. Consider these stats:
Emojis within your email subject line can increase your open rate by 3-4%. Source: ReturnPath
Users who add ten or more emojis to their captions receive about 40% more interactions than those who do not use emojis. In addition, studies show that the more emojis you use, the higher the number of interactions you will get with your post. Source: Quintly
68% of millennials said they are more comfortable expressing emotions using images such as emojis. Source: Inc
Humans are naturally visual people, meaning they can process emojis faster than they can read and understand your sentences. Remember, your brain processes images 60 times faster than text and 3x faster than blinking! Source: International Forum of Visual Practitioners
So, what does all this mean for brand marketers today? If you’re not using emojis in your marketing, it’s time to start!
Interestingly, a recent study from Hubspot examined which emojis improved click-through rates. The results were a bit surprising— none of them include a face emoji. The emojis that have a positive effect on your click-through rates seem a little more uncommon and random. Perhaps they stand out more because people don’t see them very often.
Emojis in Action
While the marketers of the past may scoff at the thought of emojis, they can add a ton of personality to an otherwise dull message. Beyond style, emojis add real value to your marketing messages. Brands are increasingly finding that the addition of emojis can soften up an otherwise sales-forward message. In fact, Intercom found that messages sent by a business that contain emojis are four times more likely to get a response from a customer.
At the same time, emojis should be used wisely. It’s not as easy as taking the list above and incorporating them haphazardly into your next campaign to increase engagement. Always consider context and content and remember that some emojis may have double meanings.
For example, using emojis within in your paid advertising campaigns should be purposeful, helping support your message and aligning with your brand voice. But if you’re not using emojis across the marketing mix, maybe start by weaving them into your organic message so that your paid posts feel more authentic voice. Also consider A/B testing your ads to discover how your audience responds to the change before jumping in with both feet.
Whether your brand has begun to incorporate emojis as a part of its tone and brand guidelines or not, there is a lot to understand about these characters. They are way more than characters to text your friends and family. They are now a unique language that can enhance your message and personality when used strategically and evoke a sense of connection between your audience and your brand. So, if you want to promote greater interaction and engagement with your brand followers, make emojis part of your marketing language today. 😍🌎😁🤠👏🐞🥇🧡😘
Do you believe in the power of emojis? Please leave a #comment below.
Four years ago, I filed for my LLC and established Marissa Pick Consulting. Consulting was always a dream for me and the fear of the unknown and potential lack of consistency required a leap of faith. Ultimately, I made the decision to bet on myself, leaving my full-time role to start my own business. Looking back, this was the best thing I’ve ever done professionally. Scary, yes. But worthwhile, hell yes!
I would describe myself as someone who loves networking— I truly enjoy connecting with others and thrive in social situations. I’m a self-starter by nature and when I started my business, I was fortunate to immediately find a consulting role covering for a university Marketing Director who was on maternity leave. Coming from financial services, this was a totally new area, audience, and experience. After enjoying working with one client, I began to reach out to old colleagues, bosses, and peers and put feelers out on what could be next. After all, what did I have to lose?
Over the course of the next four years, I would learn much about myself— as a person and as a business owner. My entrepreneurial journey didn’t follow a straight line, but I wound up learning just as much from the twists and bumps than I did the smooth paths. In celebration of the past four years of running Marissa Pick Consulting, here are the four biggest things I’ve learned:
1. Invest in Personal Branding
As a believer in social media and content marketing I knew that ongoing brand visibility and self-promotion were essential. I have always believed that you must practice what you preach, and I decided first and foremost to focus on building a steady stream of thought leadership and content for my website and social media channels. I started by building content on my blog and reconnecting with friends in person as well as through local events and digital meetings. One client quickly became two, and soon I had amassed a sizeable business.
Just like I tell my clients, it’s important to develop a persona that is reachable and approachable. So, that’s what I continue to focus on. I learned that you must put your best self forward, even if you don’t feel like it or it’s difficult to do so. The reality is that social media has little to do with what we say about ourselves and has everything to do with what other people say about us. Treating yourself like a brand is the best advice I can offer to someone just getting started. Funny enough, many of us have been running a business just like this the whole time, we just didn’t know it. That business is you. So, invest in yourself!
2. Get Comfortable with Change
Back in March of 2020 as COVID rocked the world, my business took a major hit as I went from several clients down to one. Instead of freaking out about my business coming to a screeching halt, I joined several communities for consultants and took a deep dive into ongoing education for small business owners, connecting with others and networking, and being present with my family. I loved taking my two boys for long hikes, and wandering around with no fear of missing calls, meetings, etc. It was honestly exactly what I needed. I refocused, rebuilt, and enjoyed the time in the moment and worked on embracing change, an area where I’ve previously struggled.
Even though I prefer predictability, I learned to adapt, become more flexible and focus much more on my communication skills. Although this is still an area I’m working on, somehow knowing that the only thing that’s certain is change allows me to be more comfortable with the uncomfortable.
3. Don’t be Afraid to Pivot
As the world began to reopen, so did my business. Eventually I built up a steady workflow to the point of having to decide whether to scale up or make a change. I made the difficult decision to leave my own business and go in-house full time to lead a performance marketing team at an AI-powered SaaS company. I quickly realized how much I missed working for myself, the flexibility of a desirable work-life balance, and being my own boss. After six months I decided to leave this role on good terms and re-focus on re-building my business.
I realized that life is too short to be unhappy or wonder about the “what-ifs.” Yes, I made a choice to try something new, but ultimately it wasn’t what I wanted. So, I reversed course and returned to working for myself. These decisions weren’t easy, but you must be willing to go through the mud at times to understand what will provide the most happiness and fulfillment. You may come out the other side messier, but you may also come out stronger.
4. Find What Makes You Smile
Achieving work-life balance can be overwhelming, and some days it’s hard to not get lost in the fast-moving pace of life. The highlight of my day is having my kids run into my arms off the bus after school and tell me about their day. I find that kids have a view of the world that is so innocent, pure, and refreshing. My boys’ curiosity and hopefulness inspire my husband and me every day to smile and have fun. This really helps offset the daily stressors of running a business. Whatever it is that makes you smile, recognize it, and make it part of your daily routine.
Looking Ahead to Year Five
As we approach 2023, I believe that being open minded and welcoming others into your world is going to be the key. This doesn’t mean you will agree with everyone, nor them with you, so we must keep an open mind and be comfortable acknowledging others’ views and giving space even if you don’t agree with them. Easier said than done at times, but necessary none the less.
I want to thank my friends and family and my extended network, especially my colleagues from Hey Mamma, The Upside, and Dreamers & Doers®. They have all been trusted navigators on my entrepreneurial journey. And I truly couldn’t’ do any of this without my husband Brandon Pick. He’s always believed in me and supported me and I’m lucky to have as a partner.
Four years later, I am even more open and positive about what the future holds. I look forward to continuing to network and meet new people, embracing change and finding joy in the everyday. Above all, I will continue to bet on myself as my business continues to grow.
What lessons have you learned in your own business journey? Please leave a comment below and let me know.
When networking is done well it can be the most powerful form of marketing— for you and your business. Yes, it can feel overwhelming at times— no one likes walking into a room full of strangers and having to start a conversation— but it a surefire way to elevate your brand or business.
Earlier this year I ran a session on how to turn networking into sales during InEvent’s 20 in 30 Webinar Series: Future of Content & Digital Trends. Within the session we explored how to learn and apply new skills and strategies when networking in events as a means of creating new business opportunities.
This got me thinking, how can we continue to build on the idea of turning networking into sales for the remainder of 2022 and as we start to think about 2023? Here are a few key learnings:
Create a strong online presence
Remember that the first thing someone will do before hiring or working with you is to check you out online. Potential customers need to know you, like you and trust you ahead of buying from you or doing any business with you. Therefore, the need to network and gain access to a referral network is crucial and having an online presence is a must. Additionally, many businesses refer customers and have strong relationships within their industry so the ability to network, connect and grow your relationships becomes of the utmost importance when you’re working on building your sales pipeline.
Carefully craft your content marketing strategy
Another way to enhance your online presence and bring added value to your network is through content marketing. In a crowded digital environment, providing consistent high-quality, and engaging content impacts audience decision-making more than any other technique. According to Hubspot’s 2022 State of Inbound report, content creation is a top priority for 80% of marketers and on average, accounts for 26% of B2B marketing budgets. First impressions matter and having a digital footprint does as well.
Develop visual and snackable short content
When developing your content marketing strategy, keep in mind that Microsoft research found that the average human attention span is now only 8 seconds (compared to 12 seconds in 2000). People have little patience to read through long form written content and may even be turned off it it’s too long or comprehensive. How do you make a big impact in the first eight seconds? By developing short and snackable content, which is digestible and informative.
In addition, think about site speed. Research by Nielsen found people do not read content on web pages word for word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. Some of these tips can go a long way in grabbing and keeping attention:
· Highlight important keywords
· Use bullets to make important points stand out
· Use subheadings to break out key sections
· Focus on one idea per paragraph
Again, the “snackable” content is what catches our eyes and can help to generate leads. The more an audience views your content, the more likely they are to purchase from you in the future!
Develop User Generated Content (UGC) to stand out
When a brand generates User Generated Content (UGC), it helps consumers feel like they’ve been seen. Who doesn’t love being highlighted by a brand they love? Content creation involves gathering, reviewing, and sharing the most relevant and impactful content with your audience. More than 86% of companies today use user-generated content as part of their marketing strategy. And users who create and share content on social media channels get 28% higher engagement compared to standard company posts. Think about how to incorporate UGC into your content marketing strategy to stand out and cut through the noise to captivate your customers’ attention.
One of my favorite brands, Warby Parker, has become well known for shipping customers frames to try on at home before purchase, a service the company continues to promote via an ongoing UGC campaign. The brand has launched series of high successful social ads using different formats of UGC content including video testimonials, camera photos from customers trying on at home, and motion GIFs. This has allowed Warby Parker to highlight both its stylish frames and its convenient home try-on option in a genuine way.
Lean into video
Content has a reputation for being “king,” but I believe that video is now taking over the crown. According to a Cisco study, by the end of 2022 82% of all online content will be video content. Video content is one of the most engaging forms of content and in my opinion will soon dominate social media and emerge the clear winner over all other types of content. Whether it is short-form videos like those popular on TikTok or Instagram Stories or long-form content viewed on YouTube, videos are the future of social media content.
Video can also help increase conversions and sales. In fact, according to Insivia, adding a product video on your landing page can increase conversions by 80%. Video can also lead directly to sales. A wyzowlstudy show that 74% of users who watched an explainer-video about a product or service subsequently bought it. So, if you’re looking for a new way to increase sales, think about a fun and dynamic way to showcase your brand and product through video!
Embrace the metaverse
Many experts look at the metaverse as a 3D model of the Internet. Basically, a place parallel to the physical world, where you spend your digital life. A place where you and other people have an avatar, and you interact with them through their avatars. I would argue that the metaverse in the truest sense of the term doesn’t exist yet, but marketing professionals are working through how to adapt this online space and build it into 2023 plans.
During the pandemic it looked as though livestreaming and hybrid streaming would become the norm, but the metaverse offers several upgrades to that model. I think the metaverse will be the next frontier for advertising and e-commerce and brands are quickly figuring out how to incorporate it. The question is not if, but when people will adopt it. In my opinion, companies should invest in creating virtual experiences for their customers and audiences within the metaverse today, so that they can be first to market when the technology is more widely adopted. The metaverse is “always on” and will continue to evolve but it allows us to develop virtual identities, presence, re-invent peer-to-peer interactions and more.
Today, the cost to develop advertising and e-commerce technology for the metaverse is a barrier to entry for most businesses. As time goes on there will be platforms that are much easier to utilize by average merchants. For now, it’s a good idea to map out how you might link physical objects in the real world to virtual objects and experiences in the metaverse and put this on the road map for building your sales and marketing funnel.
Remember, your digital footprint matters!
There are plenty of tools and tricks to leverage social media, marketing, video and more to help build your network to drive sales. The bottom line is that your digital footprint matters. The first impressions you make through your online presence- whether it be through your written or video content, UGC, or the metaverse— can make a significant difference in your ability to turn networking into sales. As you think about your 2023 planning, what else would you add? Leave a comment below.
There’s one particular Bill Gates quote that has continued to resonate with media professionals, in which the Microsoft founder said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” It’s high praise of the efficacy of the art of PR from one of the most important business minds of the 21st century. It’s also a telling indication of just how effective a campaign can be in drastically altering the course of a business’ trajectory.
Public relations, in simple terms, is the management of a person, business, or brand’s public image. For smaller companies, it’s mostly about trying to secure press coverage, but it can also be about creating the right kind of buzz, and knowing how to protect against and navigate crises.
When people pursue PR for the first time, they often assume it’s interchangeable with marketing or essentially serves the same purpose. But crucially, PR is not something that directly translates into sales, and even the most viral of campaigns don’t guarantee a direct correlation to extra dollars. Instead, the priority of PR is establishing brand credibility by securing coverage in the media, which translates into something more valuable: consumer trust.
Below are four key reasons why PR is important when scaling your business.
PR Establishes Credibility, Solidifies Your Brand
One of the hardest things any growing business faces when starting out is establishing credibility in the public eye. How do you prove to a complete stranger that you are worth trusting, and — eventually — putting their hard-earned money into? It’s a hard sell, but one that becomes far easier once you have press and media featuring you, or referring to your employees as expert sources. If you can prove that your opinion is trusted in thought leadership publications like Entrepreneur or Forbes, then that’s an indication know your industry. As Powderkeg writes, it’s your “stamp of approval”.
This goes hand in hand with establishing an authentic, strong brand image. Having a clear, consistent brand story across the board also helps your employees to be confident in your brand image, who will grow more comfortable in sharing their expertise as thought leaders. Additionally, if you can identify a story that makes you different from the competition, PR will help you pique media interest, which in turn gives prospective customers a reason to connect with your company on an emotional level.
PR Boosts SEO, Drives Web Traffic
Have you ever tried Googling yourself or your company? If so, did you like what you saw? Are there similar businesses ranking higher, or is there even anything to see at all?
When you’re dealing with prospective customers or clients, you can be sure that they’ve probably Googled you, maybe even just to look at reviews. Although, nothing says “trustworthy” more than a glowing page one of search engine results, full of highly-ranked publications. It’s also an opportunity to increase the number of backlinks your site has in other publications, which helps earn a higher domain authority. That way, when a prospective customer is conducting a Google search for the service or product you product, you’re more likely to rank higher in the results they see.
Not only this, but PR professionals are experts at spotting potential opportunities for brands or businesses in markets they might not have considered. It could be that there’s a particular story angle that will resonate in a different country or industry. Algorithms and elusive variables create alternative search results in different locations, but aiming for breadth as well as depth in specialist PR campaigns will help to improve your online presence across the board.
Word of Mouth Marketing
Word of mouth (WoM) is the holy grail of marketing for any business, and it’s always going to carry more weight than traditional advertising. WoM inevitably becomes the most trusted source of information, because it usually comes from family or friends. A 2018 report found that 83% of Americans say WoM marketing is more likely to make them purchase something. However, it’s something that can be tricky to manufacture, but it can be encouraged by creative PR campaigns and favorable coverage. This is something that can spread like wildfire on social media, and you’ll often hear media teams say that all it takes is one viral event.
The most important thing to note here is that a good story is the best way to get people talking, as humans are naturally drawn to narratives more than anything else. As they say, a story changes minds and wins hearts. We react to stories because they make us feel and communicate in a naturally intuitive way. They serve as a “collective sensemaking process,” according to Liz Neeley, former executive director of Story Collider. PR helps you dig out and celebrate the stories you might not have seen yourself. You might also find that it is actually more costly being boring than it is to invest in developing your brand story.
Storytelling is More Economical Than Digital Marketing
Marketing, of course, has its place in every business. And while there is certainly a way to find the intersection of marketing and storytelling through PR, the strategies for each one are different.
The greatest value you get from media relations is that the stories you help publish will be available online to reference forever, whereas marketing is usually a temporary campaign that will soon get buried on social media or removed from websites. A good marketing strategy will use a story, but PR is about getting other people outside of your own team to scream and shout about it. This creates organic media coverage, which can then be picked up by other outlets and republished to gain you greater coverage of your story. Marketing might earn you sales as intended in the short term, but storytelling through PR helps set the foundations for long-term success.
Furthermore, investors care about a brand story more than your snazzy videography skills or attractive website landing page. “Stories are engaging, compelling, and persuasive; it is far more interesting to hear yarns of how a fund manager met with the CEO and toured the new factory, rather than discuss probabilities and uncertainty, which are almost always more relevant considerations in an investment decision,” one author writes at Behavioral Investment. Where you could spend months trying to pull together impressive figures for your pitch deck, words and stories are always going to stick more than numbers.
In a market where an estimated 90% of startups fail, PR helps you find your edge, and then shouts to the world about it. Nevertheless, it’s important not to wait until you’re down to your last dollar to start working on your PR.
The Above is a Guest Post from Melanie Parncutt
Melanie Parncutt is a publicist at Otter PR in St. Petersburg, Florida. In Baltimore, MD, Parncutt studied writing, technology, communication, and design with a focus on leadership studies. She has extensive experience in public relations, marketing, and advertising including media planning, content writing, and marketing, ghostwriting, corporate partnerships, and broadcast productions.
She has worked with clients in over 10 different industries. She enjoys clients who are actively making a difference in their community and driving innovative change. Parncutt has developed strong media relations experience working with journalists from around the country. Some of her clients are contributors for the Forbes Councils and Entrepreneur Leadership Network and others have been featured in Fortune, USA Today, MarketWatch, LA Weekly, Tech Times, NY Weekly, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, CBS TV Miami, and more.
If we’ve learned anything the past two years is that the only constant is change. And change is hard. As the owner of Marissa Pick Consulting, I’ve certainly felt the bumps in the road throughout the pandemic, but I’ve learned how to adapt to change and remain agile, ready to shift with the changes that are sure to come.
With rapid change comes choices, which can make it challenging to make decisions, especially when business and personal lives collide. Whether it’s choosing a career to pursue or a snack to eat, our lives are full of decisions. But how does our brain decide between an apple or Fruit by the Foot when we go to the snack cabinet for a mid-day treat? Even with routine choices, decision-making is a complex task that involves assessing the information we have (there are so many kinds of snacks on my shelf), determining our choices (which snack do I like?), examining our experience with these choices (I remember liking Fruit by the Foot as a kid), and ultimately picking what we think is the best option.
We can’t escape the need to choose, nor can we control the consequences of our decisions or the choices of others. We often put too much pressure on our choices. And somehow, we don’t put on enough pressure. This causes us to mess up at both ends. But by taking control of the process, here are some ways I was able to embrace the “paradox” of choice so that my business could continue to grow.
Embrace change. A self-described “Type A” personality, embracing change in my own life isn’t easy. But the pandemic forced me to tackle my issues with change headfirst. A planner by nature, I really struggled with the uncertainty surrounding all aspects of life. It was like a constant question mark was looming above me and it was extremely uncomfortable. As someone who thrives on predictability, accepting and welcoming change was a scary experience. But by focusing on my communication skills and leaning into a more flexible mindset, I learned that change doesn’t have to be scary. I realized that “not knowing” can sometimes be liberating and inspire you to see your world and the responsibilities that come with it in a different light. Since I stopped running away from change, routines in my business and household spheres have become a bit steadier. And if things become rocky again, the difference is that I’m more equipped to handle that.
Try to plan ahead. There are many times in life that we know change is on the horizon, forcing us to choose a path. Whether it’s following market dynamics, trends or just gut instinct, there are many ways to get ahead of the “selection process.” With my marketing clients, I’m a big proponent of prep work. I try to do as much research as possible to outline the “nice-to-have and must-have” elements of any marketing plan. For example, there are a plethora of technologies available to add efficiencies to our work, but which ones will best justify marketing budgets and boost performance?By weighing options upfront, you’ll be in a better position to provide sound counsel and judgement.
Before you start looking for ways to embrace change, you need to identify what the change is and how it will impact you. Many people think that any change which throws our plans off-course is undesirable. However, it is important to not feel pessimistic or lose hope. Review where you stand after things settle down. Identify the areas which need attention and allocate resources to them accordingly.
Reframe your thinking. Change will happen regardless of our decisions, so it’s important to identify how change makes you feel. Are you feeling sad or anxious? How can you break negative patterns or step back and reflect on your feelings? Taking timely action after adversity or change will enable you to embrace it. For example, if you break your arm, you may be unable to type, write or do other important work for yourself. However, you can look to dictation services, voice to text software, or even hire someone to support and take notes for you. By reframing your thinking and addressing a situation in a different way, you can feel more in control of the aftermath of change.
Count your blessings and smile. Life is overwhelming, and some days it’s hard to not get lost in the endless circus of life. The highlight of my day is when my kids run into my arms after school and tell me everything about their days. Kids have a view of the world that is so innocent, pure, and refreshing. My boys are so inquisitive, curious, and hopeful about the future. Every day, they inspire my husband and me to smile and have fun, and they remind us that family comes first, no matter what. Whatever it is that makes you smile, recognize it, and make it part of your daily routine. Change makes the world go around, and we are fortunate to live in a country where we hold the power to make choices (even if there are more than we would like, at times).
In the words of Bob Dylan, “Your old road is rapidly agin’/Please get out of the new one/If you can’t lend your hand/For the times they are a-changin’.” When you’re able to re-think your relationship with change, you may be surprised to discover how many more possibilities you can unlock for yourself and your business.
As a budding business owner in New York City, you can set yourself up for success if you follow a few rules and avoid making the same mistakes many startups make. Instead of cutting corners, prepare thoroughly for this new venture. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid.
Not Having a Business and Marketing Plan
Your small business will have a better chance of thriving if you develop a business plan that provides a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish, how you will achieve it, and when it will happen. By doing so, investors and partners will be more likely to be interested in your idea, whether it’s based around products or services.
With approximately220,000businesses located in NYC, it’s important to make yours stand out. Create a go-to-marketing strategy template that can help keep everything on track for a product release. Using a pre-made go-to-market strategy template can help you streamline the entire process instead of creating your own from scratch. Expecting your product or service to speak for itself as a new business owner is a pipe dream.
Not Taking Advantage of Technology
Small businesses have a lot to gain from technology since it can make things run smoothly and boost profits. The use of inventory management software, project management platforms, cybersecurity protection, and cost savings can benefit your business. Other benefits of technology for your business include:
Communication with customers: Your customers can get information about your business online 24/7 through FAQs on your website. In turn, this facilitates smooth communication between your business and the public.
The efficiency of operations: Technology can help you better understand cash flow needs and save you time and space. Meetings can be held online with tools like Zoom and Skype rather than renting a physical space.
Security: Data protection and client security are vital in any industry. Make sure you invest in solutions that increase security and improve operations.
Choosing the Wrong Type of Business Entity
The wrong business entity can have a significant impact on your business as you could end up with additional taxes or be liable for issues with your business. Consider the following:
Business creation and ongoing costs: Partnerships are typically the simplest to set up, but LLCs come a close second. Corporations require more paperwork and filings.
Indemnification: Consider your assets when choosing a business structure. LLPs and LLCs are better options for securing your private assets than sole proprietorships because they separate your business from you.
Taxes: Corporations are often the most tax-efficient, depending on how you structure them, but LLCs are close behind.
One of the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs make when launching a new product is underpricing. If you underprice, you won’t make money no matter how hard you work. Research your target market to determine a suitable price.
Setting Up a Business
Running a business requires a lot of groundwork and needs careful thought, from creating a business plan to choosing the right structure.
The pandemic put content center stage, reminding many marketers that they must develop content that includes purpose, context, creativity, and integrity. To do so, content must add value and enhance the conversation with brands’ target audiences to facilitate engagement. It’s clear that people are looking for ways to be inspired and entertained, making it even more important for content marketers to find creative ways to connect with their audiences.
Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs released their 12th annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report last month which portrays an encouraging and optimistic future ahead for content marketing. The research within the report confirmed what many of us already knew: content marketers are some of the fiercest business pros around. In the most difficult of times, they get the job done– and many come through more creative and stronger than before.
I wanted to break down some of the key themes highlighted in this report.
Video and Events Present Prime Opportunities for Engagement
Ninety percent of content marketers say that short articles and posts (such as blogs) have been within the mix this past year. That is followed by videos (66%), virtual events/webinars/online courses (64%) and case studies (61%). But which tactics produce the best results? Virtual events, webinars, and online courses were named by 58% of respondents as a top performer (including 66% of those categorized as “most successful”) and research reports and short articles/posts were tied for second at 48%.
B2B marketers remain at a critical inflection point as we prepare for the future of events. The pandemic rapidly accelerated the digitization of events, profoundly changing the live events industry as we knew it. I maintain that most events and conferences will remain virtual until the end of 2022, but agree that the opportunity for virtual events, webinars and online courses showcases the importance of virtual and hybrid events as a MUST next year.
Given the results of the survey it’s no surprise that the top two planned areas of investment for next year are video and events. It’s clear that content marketers are looking for ways to more immersive engagement with their audience within a fundamentally altered environment. The good news for content marketers is that there are several opportunities to keep virtual events as an integral part of fostering connection and engagement.
Earlier this year I wrote an article for InEvent about the 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Virtual Eventwhich discussed the importance of developing great content. When you begin planning your virtual event, it’s important to remember that content is often viewed hand in hand within the overall program. That is why it’s so important to take the time to put together a cohesive look and feel and ensure you’ve outlined branding for your online event. Make sure that the content you develop promotes your speakers, sponsors, and every aspect of your program. Eye-catching and captivating promotional materials are key.
LinkedIn Remains King for Organic and Paid Social Media
It’s no surprise that LinkedIn is the top social media platform to distribute both organic and paid B2B content. It’s a viable content marketing platforms and when content is relevant for the proper audience and complimentary to the features of LinkedIn it can really pay off in the end.
B2B content marketers in this survey rated it as the most effective for both organic and paid social media. When it comes to producing results with paid social media, LinkedIn was ahead of the next-highest rated platform by 25 percentage points. For organic results, the chasm is even wider.
Overall, more than three-quarters of practitioners said their paid distribution spending has either increased or remained steady. Social media advertising and promoted posts were the most common paid distribution tactic (77%), beating out search engine marketing and pay-per-click (65%).
Content Marketing Budgets Are Rising
Although the pandemic brought a lot of businesses uncertainty, many haven’t pulled back their content marketing investments, which was at one point considered “discretionary” spending. Forty-three percent of respondents familiar with their organization’s spending said their content marketing budget increased in 2021 compared to 2020. Meanwhile, 66% say they expect their content marketing budget to grow in 2022. Very few saw decreases in budget this year or expect them next year.
The Top Marketing Challenge Ahead
Creating content which appeals to multi-level roles within the target audience and accessing subject matter experts to create content are still a major challenge. It may be because more marketers are leveraging content collaboration tools, or because so many people have been changing jobs over the last 18 months.
This challenge can be compounded if content marketers only focus on creating content that appeals to those in the C-suite, as research from Netline Corporation shows that the vast majority of content consumption happens within roles outside the C-suite. Marketers must find relevant subject matter experts in 2022 to develop relatable content appealing to numerous roles within their target audience.
I discussed the future of content generationon my blog and just like any other content marketing strategy, repackaging content is all about consistency. I recommend brands create 2-3 additional content assets whenever they publish a new article, such as developing a piece of audio content, adding a voice over, or turning a presentation into a video. Through videos, user generated content, and a variety of content types they can begin to home in on what content resonates most.
Despite the challenges of the recent past, it’s an exciting time to be a content marketer. With new approaches and channels to develop content and engage with audiences, refreshed budgets and agreement that content is king, it’s clear that there is a world of opportunity for B2B content marketers in 2022.
Do you want to add a personal touch to your sales strategy?
Does reaching out and building relationships with important businesses and customers make you happy and increase the number of sales your business makes?
It’s true that strong communication between a business and a potential customer is crucial to enhancing sales.
Just think about it; let’s say you build a good daily relationship with your local newsagent. You become familiar with the people that work there and the value of the deals in the shop. This encourages you to return and buy more from that newsagent.
Today, you can bring this relationship to the next level by personalizing your sales. By capturing information such as buyer data, online purchases and social media activity, businesses can tailor sales to the customer in the most personal way possible.
Moving leads through your pipeline needs a clear plan and strategy. If you try to sell without a defined strategy, you are likely to miss out on potential sales.
A good place to start is determining how the sale will affect the customer’s business. You are likely to capture attention by making the customer aware of the positive changes that your sale will bring.
This post shows you the best ways that you can improve your sales strategy in 2020, including keeping your first email short and sweet, creating buyer personas and using storytelling.
1. Keep your first email to the point: You need to truly engage your prospect in the first email. They will likely have hundreds of emails to get through, so yours really needs to stand out from the crowd. Keeping things simple and showing that you have done your research is a good place to start. You don’t need to pitch your solution immediately. Establishing trust with the lead is the important first step you need to take. The first email is better off being short, possibly bullet pointed and as clear as possible. It should be clear why your solution is relevant to the prospect. You should arrange a meeting with the prospect in the first email. This is then followed by a simple summary of what you like to discuss.
2. Understand the company’s challenges. Following the first call, you are likely to have a better understanding of the company’s challenges. This can be used for greater personalization in the next phase. For example if the business told you they had an issue with their CRM and you were selling this service, you can use this to your advantage. Sharing valuable content that provides solutions to the company is a good next step. By reaching out to them and sharing an article about alternative CRMs, you will show that you listened to your first conversation and care about helping them. Building a relationship with the prospect is always important to improving your sales strategy.
3. Add that personal touch to your sales strategy. We all want to feel valued in a business relationship. This is no different when it comes to sales. Adding that personal touch when discussing a potential sale will set you apart from the crowd. This can be anything from finding out more about the prospect’s hobbies and interests, or the sports team that they follow. This is usually best achieved after an in-person meeting, where you can give them a handwritten note about something they are interested in. You can establish trust with them quickly as this is a physical connection that will help create a bond.
4. Become trusted. Becoming trusted in sales is hugely important. Once you build a strong relationship with a customer, this can then snowball into further relationships such as becoming partners. A sale does not have to be the end of the relationship! Once you become trusted you will become a partner of the client. This can lead to upselling and more renewals, which will increase revenue for your business. You will also get more referrals from being trusted. It’s common sense that customers will refer to someone that they know and trust. Whether it’s a sales strategy for startups or a sales strategy for real estate, building relationships is key for improving your sales strategy.
5. Don’t get it wrong! Making sure that you don’t get it wrong when it comes to personalization seems obvious. However it’s surprising how many people do get it wrong! You need to promote products that are relevant to the prospect. It’s also important to get the name, gender and other personal information right. You need to be sincere when reaching out for the potential sale, otherwise no one will take you seriously
6. Be relevant. Always try and provide value to the person you are talking to. With this at the back of your mind, you will keep the prospect genuinely interested in what you are saying to them. Your content needs to be tailored to the person you are talking to, so watch out for spam like emails or badly personalized content.
7. Honor your commitment. It’s important to deliver what you promised once you have built a relationship with the prospect. Let’s say you tell them you will provide a discount on the product. You need to honor this. If you forget to give them the discount or take too long in giving it to them, then the prospect might feel that the relationship is not being respected. This comes back to nurturing the prospect in the sales funnel and keeping them satisfied with the business relationship.
8. Be careful with personal information. It’s no secret that businesses are collecting more personal information about customers than ever before. This doesn’t make everyone feel comfortable though! Be careful with the amount of personal information that you show to potential customers. They won’t want to feel as though you are stalking them!
9. Create Buyer Personas. It’s essential to develop clear buyer personas for your brand. With these in mind, you can target your product to the type of person that will be interested in your product. Having precise data about your customers is a must have, so make sure you have the best resources available to you. Let’s say you are developing a sales strategy for hotels. If you own a hotel that also features a golf resort, you can target your hotel to people who play golf. Similarly if there is a state of the art leisure centre you can focus on people who are interested in fitness.
10. Provide the solution to the problem. When you start your sales outreach, remember to relate to the problems that the business is facing. The potential customer likely won’t be interested in your pricing plans or product features at this early stage. That’s why it’s important to do your research to try to understand what issues the prospect is facing and how you can solve them with your product. This level of personalization will capture the prospect’s attention immediately. It shows that you have put work in to helping them. You understand what they are aiming to do and which obstacles they will face. Instead of talking about how great your product is, show how your product provides the solution to their problems. They are also much more likely to become loyal customers if you take this approach
11. Showcase end results of your sales strategy. Another thing you need to highlight when you are selling your product is the end results it will provide. They need to know exactly what will happen as soon as they start using the product. People want to know how their problems will be solved quickly and easily by using your solution. If it’s the first time they are using your type of product, you need to show them how to get set up, how much time it will take and the amount of support they will have available to them. It would also be good to show them the expected results short-term and long-term from using the product. This will motivate them to stay with the product as they will also want to succeed
12. Be flexible. It’s important to remain open minded when trying to close a sale. Different businesses will have different objectives and issues, so you need to change your approach depending on who you are talking to. Again, solving the problem of the person is key to being successful in sales. And everyone will have different issues! Make sure to always be open to solving the problem. Don’t say that you can’t or it’s not possible to provide a solution. If you are unsure of how to help the prospect, tell them that you would love to assist them and go away to research the issue. Even if this means offering a minimum order quantity you will come closer to closing the sale and remaining flexible to the situation.
13. Start with smaller markets. Having clear segmentation for your product is crucial. You need to define small groups of people who share a common problem that you can solve. By doing this, your sales strategy will feel more personal and be much more effective. Think about it – your pitch will be so much better if you have a similar and smaller group of people to target. This will allow you to improve on certain areas of your sales pitch and help to keep the prospect engaged.
14. Reach out to the decision maker. You don’t want to waste time talking to someone who doesn’t make the decisions in the company. Reaching out to someone who makes crucial decisions for the company’s future will always improve your chances of making a sale. Finding the right person is an important skill to master. Platforms such as LinkedIn are probably best used for connecting and messaging the people in control. It also allows you to identify the CEO/Marketing Manager of the company by job title. You need to provide value upfront to the decision maker and initially not expect anything in return. By building the business relationship in this way, you can provide immediate value and get that value back as the relationship develops.
15. Use storytelling. It’s true that storytelling is important to capturing your lead’s attention. Telling an effective human story that involves your products is sure to keep the prospect engaged. People have always been interested in great stories, and it’s no different when it comes to sales. Storytelling is also a great way of building trust with potential customers. You can tell stories of how previous customers overcome their challenges by using your product. This will make them trust you enough to go to the next stage and use your product.
16. Stay attentive during sales calls. This should be an obvious one, but you need to concentrate during your sales calls! The person on the line needs to feel that you are giving them your undivided attention. If you are calling from a busy and loud office space, try and move somewhere quieter where you can 100% concentrate on the lead. Constant communication during the call is a must, as well as being an active listener. This will allow you to respond to anything the person asks you during the call. Keeping engaged really is an essential part of making that sale!
17. Listen carefully to your prospects. Similar to the last point, but you really need to listen to what your prospects are saying. You will get valuable feedback on the quality of your product from these calls. This can be shared with your team to gradually improve your product and also to keep your prospects happy. It’s also important to determine whether the feedback is valuable or not. Try not to share feedback or implement changes that don’t fit into your roadmap or from people who are not in your target market.
18. Using the BANT framework. It’s important to use the BANT framework when qualifying leads. This stands for budget, authority, need and timeline. Does the prospect have the funds to allow them to buy? Are you talking to the key decision maker in the business? Is it possible to solve their problems? Over what time period are they planning to invest in a solution? By asking these questions, you can quickly determine if the prospect has a need. If they have short answers then it could mean they are not interested.
19. Knowing when to automate. Streamlining your sales process with great automation tools will save you time. Automating steps of the follow up process is always a good idea. Any task that doesn’t need you there should be automated with great software! Ask yourself the following questions; Can it be eliminated? Can it be automated? Can it be delegated?
20. Getting the timing right. Creating effective and timely follow-up emails is an important strategy. If someone doesn’t respond to your first email, don’t worry! You need to think about how you will capture attention in your follow up emails. A simple message, asking for an opinion on the first email usually works well. You can also provide interesting results that have helped customers, or share valuable content. If you plan this email sequence over time, you are likely to get results!
21. Use internal growth strategies. Keeping an open mindset and trying everything with your sales strategy is always a good idea. If you are in any way unsure of your sales strategy, trying things like email marketing, video marketing or setting up appointments with people is a good idea. This will allow you to understand what’s working in your sales strategy and what isn’t. After implementing these ideas, make sure to follow analytics and decide which idea is working best.
22. Achieve a win-win. Trying to achieve a win-win is a crucial strategy in any area of business. You need to provide value to the person you are communicating with. This way both parties come out benefitting from the conversation. Think about it from their point of view. You want to get a sale across the line, but they want to receive genuine value for their buck and be satisfied with the product. If you keep this in mind you are much more likely to succeed.
23. Be honest about risks in your sales strategy. Be honest about any risks related to your product. This will be appreciated by the person you are selling to. As well as highlighting the best aspects of your product, you should tell them about any possible risks from using it. This will show that you are an honest salesman/saleswoman, and are much more likely to be trusted. For example, with a sales strategy for solar products you would need to tell the prospect of any risks from using the solar product.
24. Have a strong mindset. You need to have a strong mindset when it comes to sales. There is no doubt that you will receive plenty of rejections when you start off. Becoming used to this and taking rejections as a positive is a good place to start. Any great business starts by having people who are not afraid of rejection and will continue to work on if they are being told no.
25. Give demos of your product. Showing the prospect how your product works in person is always a great idea. This will help them to understand how the product works, and how it might solve a particular problem for them. It’s best to meet the prospect in person and show them face-to-face, as this develops trust and a clear demonstration of how the product works.
26. Using the PAS framework. The PAS framework is a great concept to have in mind when approaching sales. This stands for problem, agitate, solution. Again, finding the problem that your product will solve for the prospect is essential. You need to identify what the biggest problem is. Then, you need to agitate them by reminding them of how dangerous this problem is. You then need to present your product as the number one solution to solve this.
27. Be Helpful. This seems like an obvious one, but it’s always important to remain helpful. During your sales call or meeting you need to assist the person in the best way possible. Make sure to answer any questions quickly and clearly. When discussing a potential sale, you need to personalize for the prospect and ensure they know you have done your research.
28. Ask for a referral. Usually when you ask for a referral there is rarely a follow-up. You can get higher quality referrals if you take your time and identify your prospects in advance. A good way of doing this is on LinkedIn where you can browse connections and previous companies they have worked for. Giving your connection a referral candidate and handing them the ammunition to contact them straight away makes everything easier.
And there you have it! These are 28 simple ways that you can evolve your sales strategy and grow revenue. From providing solutions to prospect problems, using the BANT framework and having a strong mindset, these ideas allow you to bring your sales strategy to the next level and create a better selling experience for both you and the prospect.
David Coen is a Digital Marketing Associate for Design Wizard. Having completed an MA in Journalism and Certificate in Digital Marketing, David enjoys building relationships with bloggers and social media influencers! He realizes the importance of long-lasting relationships with like-minded businesses and aims to help them with easy-to-read content.
Yesterday was my birthday! Not my actual birthday, but the birth of my business. One year ago, I was hired by my first client and officially became a consultant.
It was the scariest, yet most exciting and satisfying decision I’ve ever made. Would this work? Could I really make a living being my own boss? Luckily for me, the answer has been yes. Early on, I took a number of interviews and phone screens and drove myself crazy, but after I turned down a great job offer early into my venture and made the decision to fully commit and haven’t looked back since.
Throughout my career, I’ve led global teams, traveled the world and managed numerous agencies and consultants. To this day, I continue to learn from my mistakes and re-calibrating for ongoing success. I’m constantly learning how to figure out what I don’t like doing or where I struggle so I’m able to get help.
Below are some takeaways from the year that was, I hope you find these helpful!
“You must learn from your past mistakes, but not lean on your past successes.” – Denis Waitley
Small successes feel absolutely incredible.When I worked for other people, achievements in the business were exciting, but they never really felt like my successes since they were part of a greater organization. Now, every time something exciting happens, I feel like an owner. Every step forward motivates me and pushes me to work harder since I know what it took to achieve. It feels good to know that anything I’ve achieved is well earned.
Set Goals. If you start a business with some success, your offerings and mind may shift. It’s like a little alarm telling you that you did something you once thought impossible, and now nothing really seems very impossible. It’s exhilarating however it can open up the flood gates allowing a million ideas that you may way to do roll in. I recommend that you set a quarterly goal for your business. Make it specific and set up an action plan to help you achieve it. It’s easy to get sidetracked and over promise to clients but staying true to myself and the goals I set for this past year has worked (so far!).
People don’t understand what I do, and that’s okay. Friends and family may not always understand or consider my job “a real job” since it’s outside the normal “full-time” description. I don’t work 9-5 in an office or a traditional setting. Others perception has been one of my major frustrations over the last year. My business is important to me and it makes me happy. I try to share what I do in a way that people understand. I’ve learned there are ways of having productive conversations and getting what you want out of an interaction. It’s been helpful for me to be honest with my friends and family about where I’m at with my business and letting go of any frustrations I maybe holding onto.
Support is key. I’ve always loved having alone time, but I get a bit stir-crazy being home all day. Building a great business means you need a great network of people to help you. Getting out of the house and doing work from a coffee shop or a friend’s couch has been a lifesaver. I’d describe myself as a creative soul and often I get ideas from my friends within other industries and outside of my house. I encourage people to build relationships with the people who can help to get your business idea off the ground. Connect with individuals who will give expert advice and save you from making startup mistakes and take a break to network and get out!
If you’re thinking about it – do it! I’m a firm believer that things always work out the way they should. It they don’t at first, you have to keep fighting through. Too many small businesses fail because they were never started in the first place, if you have an idea then give it a shot. I’ve been able to eliminate hours of commuting, travel, busy work for others and so much more. And what’s the best part? Having the ability to spend more quality time with my children and family. Until this past year, I never had time to join my children’s activities at school, meet friends for coffee whenever I wanted too, visit my parents in the middle of the day, or have breakfast with my children. My life was a state of constant rush, drop the kids, rush to make a train or an early call, work and hustle to catch another train home to grab the kids from daycare to get home in time to put them to bed. After my second son was born, I had a harder time spending 11+ hours away from my boys in daycare every day even though I was only in the city a few times a week. I wasn’t happy and it was really taking a toll on me and my husband realized. He pushed me to follow my dream of setting up my own business and has been my constant cheerleader over the past 365 days. He believed in me and kept me going, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.
It’s been a wild ride this past year, but one I plan to stay on for some time! I’d love to hear any advice you may have for a small business owner or someone new to entrepreneurship. Please leave a comment below or reach to me directly!
These influential marketing professionals specialize in areas suchas ABM, influencer marketing, digital marketing and more. I’m honored to be included alongside 18 such influential and powerful icons within this list.
On a personal note, this has been quite a transformative year for me. I left my full time role last fall to dip my toes into the world of entrepreneurship and setup my own marketing consultancy, Marissa Pick Consulting. It’s been several months since I made the change and I’m enjoying getting my hands dirty developing marketing strategies, content marketing campaigns as well as expanding my work across new fields and alongside some fabulous clients which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.