The impact that partnering can have on your brand

July 28th, 2016 by Rob Goodman

amazon-300x300On the surface the idea of having your company partner with a larger company sounds like a good idea. With any luck your company will increase sales and possibly be able to create joint marketing opportunities like presenting together at an industry trade show or by writing a byline article together. However, sometimes there is another side that must be considered when partnering with another company, especially if that company is an 800-pound gorilla such as Amazon. The main drawback is that the larger company might dominate sales and marketing activities and thereby position your company as a small fry that doesn’t merit much attention. What’s even more important is that the larger company can have a direct impact on your customers and your company’s brand.

For example, during Amazon Prime Day (APD), a number of smaller companies spoke about how they approach customer service and want to be responsible for the creating a positive customer experience. One company, underwear retailer Mack Weldon, decided to opt-out of APD in order “to keep its long-term customer experience intact.” Another company, BedBand, sells through Amazon but the founder has “lost all trust in Amazon” when she saw her revenue plummet by half because Chinese companies were undercutting BedBand’s prices by writing positive, albeit false, reviews that appeared on Amazon.

In addition, as discussed in Investor Place, some brick-and-mortar stores, who also sell their products online, like to 2000px-TheHomeDepot.svgpromote the fact that customers can receive hands-on help by coming into the store. Home Depot said that its customers like to come into the store to get a feel for what they’re buying. Similarly, Ulta Salon, which is a cosmetics company, offers interactive experts in their stores for people who like to try different make-up styles and brands at the store.

When your company decides which partners to work with, do you take into account how that partnership will affect your brand? Immediate sales might look great in the short-term, but what about all of the effort you’ve put into building brand equity?

How important is your brand? Is it worth it to increase your sales simply to be associated with a larger partner even at the potential cost of hurting your customer’s experience? Admittedly, sometimes it’s hard to put long-term brand recognition ahead of short-term sales, but building and maintaining your brand is a goal that every company should strive for.

What type of interactive content is the best for building your brand?

June 15th, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

interactive contentInteractive content takes many forms, from online quizzes, surveys and assessments to fun, informative and engaging photos and videos. Often, people who are engaging with interactive content might not even realize they’re engaging with a clever marketing program when they click on a photo or take a quiz.

The value added to a brand from interactive content is substantial. When executed correctly, it can drive user engagement, increase brand awareness, generate leads and add to loyalty/retention and sales.

One form of interactive content is online quizzes. We have all seen them and I’m sure you have taken one like that in the past. This type of interactive content can be fun and encourages your audience to participate and engage, while simultaneously increasing awareness of your brand. Of course, not all quizzes need to be light weight. For example, if your target audience is engineers or software developers then your quizzes may be very technical because they love technology.  An interesting quiz that tests your customers’ or potential customers’ knowledge could be a great way to market your brand and engage your audience. Here’s an example of a quiz that our writing team developed for Tektronix about power supply measurements.

Assessments or surveys that ask insightful questions about user satisfaction are another great marketing tool. This form of interactive content not only draws in users, but it could also be a way to learn where improvements are needed within your company.

Multi-touch photos and videos are also useful; they give visitors a 360-degree view of your company’s products or services. Car companies or vacation resorts often employ this marketing method, which allows customers to have the complete picture before they decide to buy. This method can increase satisfaction and sales by making customers feel secure in their decision to purchase your product or service.

Interactive e-books or white papers are used to highlight the features of a solution, product or service. These are great tools for encouraging potential customers or clients to learn more about what your company has to offer. By creating an easily navigable version of a white paper or e-book, you will be able to help your audience locate relevant sections seamlessly.

An animated infographic that offers brief, helpful company stats is another great way to engage your audience and increase brand awareness. Just like with the multi-touch photos and videos, the more information your customers have, the happier they will be. No one likes making a big decision without all the pertinent information. Even worse, no one likes being disappointed. So make sure everything in your interactive content accurately represents your brand’s image.

The last form of interactive content that I will touch on is live chats. These are commonly used by tech and utility companies, but could be a great form of interactive content for any brand. Live chats allow your customers to chat online with a live person in order to ask questions and receive help. This tool can add to customer satisfaction by saving customers time and hassle. Don’t you hate being placed on hold for too long or having to browse a company’s website in vain searching for an answer? Live chats allow users to get their issues resolved quickly and efficiently.

These forms of interactive content can help market your brand, while satisfying and engaging your customers or clients.

If you’re wondering which type of interactive content might be best for your brand, just give us a call. We can help you develop a strategic program where we are creating the best interactive content to help your company achieve its business goals.  Our goal is to create great interactive content that will not only engage and satisfy your audience, but also market your brand in a positive and valuable way.

 

Marketers it’s time for some spring cleaning on social media

May 18th, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

SM spring cleaningWe are in the midst of a crisis and no I’m not talking about the economy or politics, I’m referring to a social media engagement crisis.

According to research and consulting firm Forrester, per-follower interaction rates on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus have drastically fallen in the last year. The only social media platform that showed growth in engagement was Facebook, but Forrester attributes this to paid advertisements on posts.

What’s odd is that followers and numbers of posts have actually skyrocketed in the past year. Forrester recently conducted a study of how the top 50 global brands market use social media platforms. The study included 11.8 million user interactions on 2,489 posts made by 249 brand profiles.

The research found that the top brands on average have 18.1 million Facebook followers, which is double what it was in 2014. In addition, the average number of Instagram followers reached just over 1 million—five times higher than last year. Lastly, follower counts on Twitter and Google Plus have almost doubled.

Forrester also shows that marketers are posting more than ever. The top 50 brands post 18.3 times a week on Twitter and 6.5 times per week on Facebook (on average), which is more than 2014. On Instagram, brands post on average four times per week—a 50 percent increase over last year.

So what is going on? Followers and posts have risen and yet engagement has dropped.

This lack of engagement indicates the challenge of cutting through the noise – more low quality, poorly targeted content is not the answer. With all these social media platforms engagement starts, appropriately enough, with engaging content. Marketers need to put in the extra effort to create content that will resonate with audiences. Moreover, it’s important to carefully adapt your content to be appropriate for each social media channel.

It’s vitally important for a brand to interact and engage with its audience. Why have thousands of followers if they’re not interacting with you? If you don’t have great content in your posts, people won’t engage and isn’t that what’s important?

So what do we at McKenzie Worldwide suggest? For starters, try introducing guest contributors – experts and luminaries with a real point of view. Ask probing questions to get people to respond, engage and comment on your posts. Make each post interesting and about something timely that will get people talking. Focus on the quality of the content first and foremost and engagement will happen. It’s all about building a connected community and a positive culture.

Is it time for some “spring cleaning” to clean up your social media programs? Give us a call to learn more about how we can help you boost engagement with your audiences.

Don’t forget the strategy when it comes to your Content Marketing program

May 16th, 2016 by Rob Goodman

e-Spirit logoOver the past year I’ve seen quite a bit of coverage devoted to Content Marketing. Many people I’ve spoken with and articles that I’ve read highlight the importance of having a content distribution machine in place to deliver content to the masses. However, the reality is that while many companies talk a good game, most don’t have a content strategy in place and many don’t follow up on the plans they do implement.

According to research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 55 percent of B2B marketers say their organization is unclear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like. The same report indicates that only 44 percent of B2B marketers meet daily or weekly to discuss the progress of their content marketing program. The bottom line is that while many companies continue to crank out content to share with their customers and prospects, many don’t have a plan in place designed to ensure success.

One of the companies we work with, e-Spirit, just recently had an article published in CMSWire that our team wrote and placed in the publication that focuses on the CMSWire logoimportance of having a content marketing strategy in place. In addition, the article highlights the importance of being able to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.

Does your company have a defined content marketing strategy in place? More importantly, does your company regularly check to see if it’s following that strategy?

Strike when the opportunity is hot

May 13th, 2016 by Rob Goodman

One of the more important aspects of public relations is being able to uncover opportunities and being agile enough to ensure the best outcome for your clients. When an opportunity to help a client presents itself, you need to move fast. But it’s not just about turning around something quickly, it’s also about knowing the company’s audience, understanding market issues, and presenting a coherent discussion. Being smart, agile and quick can lead to great results.

For example, when a busy reporter was about to decline a time-sensitive story idea about the Portland CyberPatriot Camp recently, we seized the opportunity to offer up a guest column instead and drove hard to get it turned around in a day. Since many of us at McKenzie Worldwide are former journalists, we know what makes a good article or guest column. We quickly identified one of the leading companies in cyber security (Galois, Inc.), discussed the opportunity with the company’s marketing team and quickly wrote up the guest column for the CEO.

We ended up developing a guest column on behalf of Galois that focused on hot trends in the cyber security space and also promoted the Portland CyberPatriot Camp (an event that McKenzie Worldwide is sponsoring) which was published in the Portland Business Journal within two days. We also promoted The Galois Foundation’s sponsorship of this cyber security camp for high school students while highlighting their focus on supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

It was a win-win for Galois and provided great exposure for the event.

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Content marketing: Not just another fad, but the path to real results

May 4th, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

C.M. photo 3Are you sick of tracking marketing fads? Direct marketing morphed into digital marketing, which is giving way to content marketing. Very often there is plenty of substance behind the fad – which is why it became popular in the first place – but only if you do it right.

Another challenge to throw into the mix is the issue of shifting technologies and customer preferences. Over time, traditional digital marketing – essentially non-stop email blasts – has devolved into a less-than-mediocre form of marketing, due in part to the rise of the Internet and social media over the past 10 years or so.

Anyone can easily slap some ridiculous YouTube video up on Facebook and capture many opt-in leads that are then spammed into submission. However, these low-quality, high-volume approaches rarely lead to the kind of results digital marketers are hoping for in their programs.

Looking for a better way, many folks are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon. Unfortunately, effective content marketing takes much more work than many marketers anticipate.  Simply putting up a few random posts on a blog isn’t content marketing. Content marketing, just like digital marketing before it, can be effective when it’s backed up by smart strategies and appropriate levels of investment.

Of course we’ve all heard the phrase, “content is king.” Without question, this statement is true on many levels. The right content tailored to the right audience is critically important, but many people seem to have missed the memo. You can’t simply write a white paper or freshen up a data sheet and call it content marketing. That’s not quality and is unlikely to generate the kind of long-term engagement and loyalty that you’re looking for in your company’s customer relationships.

Content marketing is all about delivering information that your customers and prospects find useful. If they see you as a resource they are going to be much more inclined to turn to your company when the time comes to make a purchase. Effective content marketing and strategies cut through the noise and the clutter, offering useful information and real value to readers.

Now, of late, people are asking if content marketing is just another fad. After all, isn’t there enough superfluous amount of “junk” on the Web already?  Indeed, there is. But there’s never enough useful, valuable information that people need.

At McKenzie Worldwide, we’re here to add quality content back onto the Web and into your company.

Wouldn’t you much rather have your company benefit from earned media attention from respected publications and quality self-publishing streams resulting from smart strategy and the dedicated work it takes to build trust in your brand? False followers and a bunch of random likes due to another click bait blog post are not going to get you there.  Let’s talk.

What implications will Facebook’s latest updates have on marketers?

April 26th, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

facebook eyeballFacebook has made some new changes to its News Feed. The changes are so subtle that, like a gentle breeze, you may not have even noticed.

In an effort to improve overall user satisfaction, Facebook asked thousands of people daily to rate their experiences and make suggestions on how the News Feed can be improved. The survey was called the “Feed Quality Program.” After collecting and analyzing the data, Facebook discovered that what people share, comment, click on or like on their News Feeds doesn’t always tell the whole story as to what they are interested in viewing.

For instance, if a family member dies or there’s been some horrific natural disaster, those stories will be meaningful and important to a user; but he or she is not going to “like” the content. This does not mean the person won’t want it on their News Feed.

In an effort to better determine what stories, posts and articles are important to users Facebook is now factoring in the amount of time a user spends reading a post.

To make the process even more streamlined, Facebook can also take into account the time between clicking on an article and reverting back to the original News Feed. For example, if that time is a matter of seconds, that would suggest that the article wasn’t what he or she expected.

In addition, the clock doesn’t start ticking until the post or video has loaded to better gauge how much time is actually spent on one post. With all this data, Facebook will give users more of what they’re actually reading and watching.

Users will no longer need to weed through the uninteresting posts to find something appealing to their own personal tastes. Everything of interest will be there from the moment a user logs on.

The update could have positive and negative implications for marketers, as well. For one, marketers can rest easy knowing that information pertaining to their products or services is only being viewed by those who actually care about it and are interested in it. In short, marketers will be able to target their specific client base.

Here’s the caveat: marketers could be losing out on potential customers. There will be some people who will never hear about your product or service, people that might have turned into customers if only they saw your post.

If you want Facebook users to see your post, we suggest creating an enticing and eye-catching headline complete with rich content. This will not only get users to click on your post, but also continue reading. It’s easy to get clicks, not so easy to get people to keep reading.

That’s why at McKenzie Worldwide we work hard to develop content for our clients that is interesting to readers and compelling enough to promote brand engagement.

Bottom line, the longer people read your Facebook posts, the more news from you they will see.

Instagram’s new change will force brands to focus on quality content

April 11th, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

InstagramIn the next few months, Instagram will be unveiling a slight “timeline tweak” with a new algorithm. Don’t panic! This change will actually be a good thing for brands.

Currently, the photo and video sharing platform employs a chronological timeline. This format optimizes a post based solely on its popularity, which is great for people who only look at the number of followers and not the quality.

The new algorithm, on the other hand, will take into account the relationship between a poster and a viewer and reward them for interacting with each other. Oh, the horrors! You mean that now we actually have to engage with our audience? Seriously… communicating with each other is obviously a great thing for brands. This change will encourage marketers and brands to produce high-quality content that speaks to their audience.

However, many people in the blogosphere and on social media are not too happy about the extra work this Instagram change will entail. Let’s face it, creating quality, compelling content that engages your audience is no easy feat. But, at McKenzie Worldwide we are extremely happy about this change and the end of the “filler” posts that some companies think will work on Instagram on other social media platforms.  Why are we so happy? Because at our agency we specialize in creating high-quality content that’s compelling and engaging. We also specialize in developing overall social media programs that increase the level of engagement with your customers.

Look at it this way: If you have 5,000 Twitter followers, but the majority are scams, fake or are irrelevant to your brand, does it really matter that you have that many? Isn’t it much better to have 1,000 loyal followers who are engaged and active with your brand or company? What’s needed most and seriously lacking these days for brands is loyal, interactive and engaged followers.

Like a great teacher, Instagram is not letting people strive for mediocrity. The social media company is forcing brands to get more creative, produce high-quality content and engage with their audience. Perhaps we will start seeing less “junk” on the Web. One can only hope.

Here at McKenzie Worldwide we have a team dedicated to producing high-quality, engaging and compelling content for your brand. Give us a call to see how we can help you build trust in your brand!

Twitter is now 10 years old, but where’s the innovation?

March 23rd, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

twitter birdTwitter celebrated its 10th birthday on Monday this week but it left many experts asking, “Where’s the innovation?” A decade ago Twitter exploded onto the social media scene. Since then seemingly everyone from millennials to journalists, entrepreneurs, celebrities and even world leaders like President Barack Obama, have been tweeting their thoughts non-stop, all within 140 characters or less.

However, in recent years, Twitter has struggled to grow. The fledgling San Francisco-based company has seen its stock plummet, a chief executive leave and its staff slashed. This year Twitter’s stock prices hit an all-time low—nearly half of its price after going public in 2013. What’s even more troubling is that even as its revenue grows, the company is still racking up losses.

So, how could a company that has more than 320 million users be doing so poorly? First, that number of users has been stagnate since the end of 2015. Second, the company can’t seem to keep up with its fast-changing, ever evolving rivals, like Facebook.

Facebook is consistently updating, changing and improving, which has kept it relevant and exciting for the past decade. I had a Facebook account when that company was still a baby, roughly nine years ago. Back then Facebook was primarily just for college students. The layout of the site was entirely different. It was bland and lacked all of those colorful emojis. Also, instead of typing in whatever status you felt like, there was a drop down menu where you would select which emotion you felt at the time. For example, if I was feeling tired I would select “feeling tired.” Those words would pop up next to my name. I could also choose from a pretty limited selection of “bored,” “sad,” “happy” and “hungry,” among others. Back then Facebook was, well, uninspiring. However, it was the best social media tool available at the time.

If Facebook had stayed that way and never changed, it might never have surpassed the one billion user mark. Facebook’s evolution throughout the years has kept the brand in the forefront of everyone’s daily lives.

If Twitter wants to get its mojo back, it needs to change; it needs to improve and find a way to stay relevant. On the other hand, it’s clear that with all the users and celebrities on Twitter, some people do love the social media tool. Twitter is a great tool for business people to share their thoughts during tradeshows. Politicians use it to tweet their campaign strategies or to announce upcoming events and celebrities use it to give their loyal followers a peak into their personal lives.

However, for a growing number of people, it appears Twitter isn’t the top choice. Flight VC partner Lou Kerner noted recently that Twitter has been showing signs that “people have tired of it.”

Although, according to Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group, Twitter isn’t dead yet. “Watching all the metrics, you see they are not getting a lot worse but they don’t seem to be getting better either.”

Based on the numbers and what people have been saying, it’s obvious that Twitter needs to do something to not only grow, but to also stay in business.

What do you think Twitter needs to change to stay relevant?

What is the brand impact of a CEO Statesman?

March 22nd, 2016 by Rob Goodman

In a recent article titled “On the Stump,” the Economist positions CEOs from tech companies as the new CEO Statesman. “He is an evangelist, out to persuade theStriped_apple_logo world of the righteousness of his chosen causes.” The genesis of the article came from news about Apple CEO Tim Cook who is garnering headlines about privacy and government regulations with regard to unlocking a terrorist’s iPhone. While media-savvy executives and CEOs who seek the spotlight have been around in the tech industry for many years— think Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison—I started thinking about the impact their actions can have from a PR perspective.

“The CEO-statesman is not content with just accepting a job in the government; nor does he simply lobby behind the scenes. He is an evangelist, out to persuade the world of the righteousness of his chosen causes.”

Taking a stand on a legal or socially responsible issue, such as child labor laws, partner benefits or equal pay, is seen as a noble effort. Similarly, Mr. Cook’s issue with the government isn’t about the technology behind the iPhone. Rather, it’s about personal privacy vs. governmental need for security. He’s taking a stand on behalf of his company which, to me, is a noble gesture. Are his efforts helping or hindering sales of the iPhone? It’s hard to say. However, what he is doing definitely has an impact on Apple’s brand.

I see Mr. Cook’s efforts in a positive light. He’s doing what he believes is right, regardless of the consequences, and I applaud him for that. But, what if he was leading a charge against a hot political issue like abortion? Would I stop buying products from Apple because I disagree with his political stance?

Starbucks_Coffee_Logo.svgLook back at what Starbucks head honcho Howard Schultz did last year. At his request, baristas were asked to write “Race Together” on paper and plastic cups in an effort to get people talking openly about race relations. While the media backlash was quite negative, I thought it was an interesting move by Mr. Schultz to get people to start having an open dialogue about an important social issue.

From my perspective, the CEO Statesman can have a huge impact on a company’s brand and I applaud those CEOs who take that role seriously regardless of the impact it may have on their company. For instance, outdoor retailer REI gives employees paid days off to get outside or volunteer in the community and this makes me want to purchase their products. Part of building a brand is about what the company stands for and if I know that a CEO is willing to stick his or her neck out, as well as their company’s stock price, I am inclined to support them and their company.

What do you think about having a CEO Statesman for your company?


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