Strengthen your brand without creeping out your customers

October 19th, 2016 by Rob Goodman

The Internet of Things (IoT) presents a great opportunity for marketing executives. As noted in Forbes, “Data analytics and IoT – two emerging keystones of the digital economy – are fueling something of a feeding frenzy of grand proportions in the tech space…Much of the action was driven by the push to adopt IoT and data analytics capabilities and intersection between the two.” While the growth potential seems to be limitless, I often wonder if technology is going too far.

customersI read an article in Business 2 Community that talked about how the IoT provides marketers “With such abundant user data and the availability of instantaneous consumer feedback, brands should consider themselves in direct, near constant conversation with their customers.” Shifting gears, I turned to Chief Marketer and read about how “The information from these devices will allow marketers to better understand how customers interact with different platforms. These insights will lead to radically new ways of capturing people’s attention and engaging their loyalty.”

Which begs the question of how do marketers leverage the IoT to improve customer experience without annoying their iotcustomers? We recently placed an article for our client, e-Spirit, about this issue in The Marketing Scope titled “Leveraging The Internet of Things To Turn Content Into Revenue.” What is most interesting to me is the idea of empowering marketers with the ability to deliver personalized content to help consumers make better decisions. For example, what if I’m in a store where my friend registered for her wedding and the location-based app points me in the direction of items on my friend’s registry? That type of service helps me spend less time searching for the gift and more time with my family, which sounds pretty good to me. Plus, I don’t consider it an invasion of privacy or badgering by the retailer.

For marketers the IoT presents a great way to share relevant information with customers without overloading them with worthless information. At McKenzie Worldwide we work with a variety of technology companies that help improve the customer experience. Can we help boost your company’s marketing power?

Building brand the right way

October 13th, 2016 by Rob Goodman

brand-2Branding is a buzzword that’s tossed around all the time in the marketing world. I Googled the term—define branding in marketing—and came up with this definition: “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets.”

Why is this relevant? I just read in the Portland Business Journal that retailer HHGregg is closing all of its 222hhgregg_logo_a_e
stores on Thanksgiving. Company CEO Bob Riesbeck said that “It’s important to us that our associates are able to be home with their families on Thanksgiving, and we are encouraging our customers to do the same – knowing great deals will be available online on Black Friday and through the weekend.”

This giant retailer is not the first company to take this path. But other companies in this space, namely Macy’s, Target and Kohl’s, are open on Thanksgiving as they try to complete with the growing online retailer community. You can argue the issue on many levels but my interest lies in the branding aspect.

Does closing its doors on Thanksgiving so that employees can be with their families make you want to shop at HHGregg and avoid Macy’s? Last year Apple launched its Apple Global Volunteer Program. Locally, Nike has its Nike Community Impact Fund. Do I now have a preference to buy products from Apple and Nike simply because they give back to the community? Maybe and maybe not, but knowing about these types of programs raises my awareness of the companies which, in turn, helps them to build a positive brand.

When your company designs marketing programs, do you take into consideration how the product or program will be viewed? Is it worth it for large retailers like HHGregg to take the financial hit by closing its doors to allow their employees to focus on family first during the holidays? The impact on the bottom line might not be positive, but the impact on your brand and your employee well-being certainly will be.

How successful marketers turn content into revenue

September 26th, 2016 by Rob Goodman

Delivering the right content to the right person at the right time on the right device is a big challenge for marketers everywhere. With so many channels available to reach customers—desktop, mobile phone, tablet—it’s hard to know which technologies are the best for delivering your message to your target audience. Another important issue to consider is which channel a customer likes to receive content on. Personally, I’m a big fan of email but many people I know prefer to receive content on their mobile device. What’s a marketer to do?

For one of our clients the growth in this area offers a huge opportunity. e-Spirit recently launched FirstSpirit CaaS which allows companies to streamline content delivery across multiple channels. As noted in a recent article in CMSWire, e-Spirit’s Andreas Knoor stated that, “Companies that rely solely on traditional content management will sooner or later find themselves unable to take advantage of the enormous business opportunity the Internet of Things (IoT) presents, or keep pace with app and smart device innovations. The result will be an inability to satisfy the needs of today’s digital consumer.”

iotSo why all the hype around the IoT? Some people feel it’s just a buzzword, but those people are missing an important point. According to research firm Gartner, the IoT is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment. The growth of the IoT is incredibly important to retailers because personal electronic devices can receive fresh content from retailers which opens up a huge channel to connect with customers. How big are the stakes here? Gartner estimates that by 2020, more than 20 billion connected things will be in use across a range of industries and the IoT will touch every role across the enterprise.

As mentioned in InformationWeek, Gartner says that the growing importance of the IoT and how connected devices, along with the data these devices collect, are changing the way IT is viewed within large businesses and enterprises. Gartner also states that “business analysts and developers of information-centric processes need to have the expertise and the tools to implement IoT aspects that play a role in their systems.”

So the question becomes, how can today’s marketers provide their customers with the content they need on the right device at the right time? At McKenzie Worldwide we have extensive experience working with some of the world’s leading Web content management, enterprise content management and customer experience companies. We can help you navigate through the complex worlds of these markets and provide the best communications strategies to help you take advantage of the IoT opportunity.

Surviving and thriving in market chaos

September 21st, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

market-chaosIt can sometimes be difficult to get publications interested in certain topics – some more so than others. Leadership development (who hasn’t read about that a million times?) falls into one of the more challenging topics.

The trick is to make the shop-worn topic relevant in today’s world. We recently placed an article in Training Magazine for our client Cerebyte by leveraging the trend of market chaos — the idea that almost every industry is undergoing disruptive change.

Take a look at how Uber has disrupted the taxi industry or how Zoom Care and Urgent Care have disrupted the healthcare industry. We are constantly being disrupted by mobile computing and if your industry hasn’t faced disruption yet, chances are it won’t be long until technology fundamentally changes the rules.

These changes have put pressure on training programs as well. The Cerebyte article, Embrace New Leadership Programs to Survive in Disruptive Markets, discusses the need for innovative transformational leadership programs and provides readers with its own leadership development methodologies.

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.


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.

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