You Have 20 Seconds …Use These Techniques in 2020

This applies to everything — meeting someone new at an event, a post on social media or a cold call to someone you want to connect with.

If the first 20 seconds of your communication is all about you or your products and services, maybe it’s time for a rethink. Why is that? Why do we consider the opening part of the call to be the most important?

The best advice comes from professionals who do it every single day.  This advice from mtd Sales Training Specialists focuses on sales and how to start off on the right foot. Here’s what they shared about the first 20 seconds of an initial call.

This is outstanding advice whether you are trying to gain the interest of a journalist, a new client, an event producer or anyone who doesn’t yet know why they need you!

Think: What state or frame of mind is my prospect in when I call?

Think: What might they have been doing the moment before they took my call?

Think: What do they need to hear in the first 15 to 20 seconds that will at least make them listen to me for a further 15-20 seconds?

Whatever your answers, I doubt whether they included anything about being pushed towards a product or service they aren’t using at present.

What can you do, then, to lengthen this first call?

Of course, you grab their attention and interest by talking, not about you, but about them or something that can help them.

That first 15-20 seconds is golden time because it can make or break the next few minutes of the call.

You need to make it personal and specific to your market, but it should sound something like this:

“Hi, this is Bill Smith with Acme Widgets. Reason I’m calling is we recently helped a company in the (customer’s) industry increase their sales by 10% while reducing their marketing spend by the same amount. I wanted to see if we might be able to do the same for you.”

Now you’re talking about them. You’re talking about results. You’re asking if those kind of results would interest your prospect

When you talk about results, that is what the buyer would really be interested in.

It makes them curious and allows you to go into more detail as they are intrigued with what this might be about.

Of course, you need to be honest and truthful. Don’t lie about figures just to get an appointment.

You’re setting expectations that can’t be met if you do, and that will only cause more problems in the long run.

Did you notice that you didn’t mention your products or services in that first part of the conversation? It’s not relevant or necessary.

What you need to do is build their interest to know more.

You may have heard about the ‘AIDA’ principle before. That acronym stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

Many salespeople go straight to their product pitch early on in the call because they are frightened of refusal or they think the product will sell itself. It won’t.

In any type of marketing, it’s important to get the prospect’s attention straight away. Without doing so, you risk the prospect saying they aren’t interested.

As the acronym states, you can’t build interest until you have grabbed attention. If they reply early with ‘I’m not interested’, it’s because you haven’t attracted attention first.

Think about when you go to the cinema. What comes on before the main feature? That’s right, trailers for upcoming attractions.

Filmmakers do that to grab your attention and build your interest for what’s to come. Treat your call like a ‘teaser’ or ‘trailer’ for what’s to come.

Just as you wouldn’t start off on a journey without knowing your end destination, think about what the end destination of your call needs to be. You’ll then realise that the opening of the call is the most important part.

So, talk about results and solutions, not products.

Designing Future Business – Hire a PR Pro To Curate Your Unique POV

With the litany of tasks and costs that come with running a business, should you prioritize hiring professional publicity? What can you expect to get in return? We asked five publicists and designers, and the answer is more concrete than you think (even the publicists told us there is a wrong time to hire them). Here’s exactly how to figure out when it makes sense to hire PR and when it’s better to go it alone.

Hire a publicist when…

You want to tell the story of your business

“As long as there’s a story to tell, we’ll have PR,” says Ari Heckman, founding partner and CEO of ASH. “It’s about brand awareness.” No matter where you are in your career, a publicist’s job is to tell people who you are as a designer. And there’s more at stake than just reputation. Sarah Natkins, head of Camron US, tells AD PRO that PR is key to growing your business and boosting your bottom line. “Building awareness in a smart and strategic way can have a huge impact,” she says. ”If done in the right way, it can help expand a studio, and drive the right business.”

This doesn’t just apply to emerging designers; the right messaging can also help more established firms reach a new clientele. “A great publicist is especially helpful if you’re trying to speak to a particular audience or get the message out about a product you’re creating,” Heckman says.

How will you know when your PR strategy is working? Laura Bindloss, founder of Nylon Consulting, says although everyone’s business goals are different, you should regularly see your name in a variety of publications. “You want a real smattering and you want it consistently,” she says. “You want coverage monthly that can range from quotes to full features, and you want it in a variety of outlets. You want to be positioned as an expert in your field.”

You have a point of view

In order for a publicist to do their best work, Natkins says a designer needs to have a clear brand identity and know who their ideal client is, although they don’t need every detail hammered out. “A good publicist will work with you to help figure this out, and then develop a media strategy that communicates your vision,” she says.

Sarah Barnard, principal at Sarah Barnard Designs (WELL AP, LEED AP), doesn’t currently work with PR, but she credits a previous publicist with encouraging her to craft a specific message and find a niche in the market. Says Barnard, “We really care about a few specific things and those are the things we repeatedly stand on, come back to, and share.”

Bindloss says her firm, Nylon Consulting, wouldn’t take on a client who didn’t have a strong point of view and a professional website. “The first place we’re going to drive people is your website, and if your website isn’t communicating what we’re trying to pitch, there’s no point in paying us because you’re going to lose the customer when they get to your site.”

You have work to show off (and plenty of projects in the pipeline)

Publicists need finished work to publicize, so wait to hire one until you have plenty of projects under your belt and can hit the ground running. “Ideally, you want to hit a critical mass of work,” says Bindloss. “Enough to give a publicist so that they can run for six months with everything you have currently.” Usually, this means between five and 10 projects that are photographed and ready to publish, with several more lined up over the next six to 12 months. Remember, there’s no benefit to paying a monthly retainer until you can fully take advantage of a publicist’s time and expertise.

You’re better off on your own if…

You can’t comfortably float the fee

“Don’t hire a publicist if it’s a cost that’s going to keep you up at night,” says Bindloss. Although fees depend on the scope of the work, she says, it’s usually about the price of hiring a full-time employee. “Don’t think about PR as a monthly retainer but as an annual cost, like you would be bringing head count into the firm.”

Natkins agrees that monthly retainers tend to vary significantly, depending on what that client needs. “A small firm might start in the 6K range, a more established studio could be upwards of 10K, and a large firm with many projects around the world would go up from there,” she says.

If that sounds too spendy for your business right now, it’s probably best to wait until you have the cash to do it right. Publicity really is a “get what you pay for” service, says Heckman. “Probably like anything else in life, working with a publicist is a good idea if you work with a good publicist. I don’t know that it would have any value if you were just to hire anyone.”

You haven’t found someone you really connect with

A publicist can make or break your reputation, so be sure you take the time to find the right person. “Wait until you find someone you really trust,” says Bindloss. “This is someone who represents you to the press, so make sure you’re proud to have them speaking on your behalf.”

Heckman, whose firm, ASH, has been represented by M18 public relations for the past seven years, says they chose to work together because of a similar culture. “Our companies were aligned, both in their history and trajectory, and shared values,” he says. And, he points out, it’s a two-way street. Just as you’re searching for a firm to represent you, most publicists want to sign clients with a similar worldview. “A good firm is not just going to take on a retainer from any client. They realize that their credibility as a mouthpiece for their clients is based on who their collection of clients are.”

In fact, Heckman says, you can use a firm’s current client list as a guide to help evaluate if it’s a good match for you. “Probably one of the best ways that someone can go about identifying which firm they want to work with, is to find a firm with clients who share your vision, growth strategy, and aesthetic.”

You’re happy to multitask

“There is the small road also, for those who have the fortitude to do it,” says Barnard. As the owner of a small design studio, she prefers the grassroots approach over professional PR, because the authenticity is more representative of the actual experience her clients will have. “The primary benefit is I’ve maintained control over how I present myself to the world because it really is me. An overly polished, less personalized, sterile presence wouldn’t be a match for what they [the clients] are getting anyway. That level of refinement is not real.”

And some social butterflies just love the hustle. Gail Davis, principal at Gail Davis Designs, says she loves meeting people at events, and she’s gotten many opportunities by simply striking up a conversation. “You need to be authentically nice to people, not looking to get something, because you never know who will think about you for a job,” she says. “That’s how it has really worked out for me. We can all benefit by helping each other.”

Both designers stress that, especially if you forgo PR, professional photography is something you should never skimp on. “Snapshots on a job site for your Instagram feed—totally,” Barnard says, “but when it comes time to document your finished work, always hire a professional architectural photographers. A filter can only take you so far.” Davis agrees: “Pictures really tell a story and I want to make sure my story comes across clearly, and that person will think, Yes I need to work with her.”

Thanks to Architectural Digest, from their ADPRO online newsletter.

What’s Your Plan? – What ALL Marketers Can Learn From Real Estate Professionals – Part 2

The job of a real estate team doesn’t end when the transaction closes. In fact, that is just the beginning. A thriving real estate business depends on two vital components: repeat clients and referrals.

A few years ago, I was contacted by someone in my sphere of influence to help them find an agent to list their house and represent them on a purchase. I knew who had helped them buy the house they were selling—he is a great guy and a solid real estate agent. I inquired with the client as to why they were not using him again, and I quote what his response was: “He was a great guy and we loved working with him, but we can’t remember his name.” His lack of follow-up cost him approximately $20,000 in business that should have been his—if he had only nurtured the relationship.

If your team does a good job in the transaction, then you should expect to do business with the client again in the future, but only if you continue to nurture the relationship, which means you must stay in touch—forever!

At minimum, a 12-month marketing plan should include some kind of touch every 21 days, and should also include:
  • Birthdays (phone call, video message or a card in the mail)
  • Relationship anniversary (phone call, video message or a card in the mail)
  • Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents’ Day (phone call, video message or a card in the mail)
  • Home anniversary (include a reminder about their warranty expiring)
  • Market updates on their home values (annually or biannually)
  • Quarterly phone calls followed up with a handwritten card in the mail

In addition, a high-touch relationship marketing plan should also include, at minimum, one client appreciation event per year. It is recommended that you plan 6-8 events throughout the year where you are getting in front of and face-to-face with your top clients and sphere of influence. Some ideas include holiday open houses, movie events, happy hours, Thanksgiving pie giveaways, photos with Santa, sporting events, bowling parties…the list goes on and on.

Lastly, social media has created a unique opportunity for us to elevate our relationships, so pay attention to what people are sharing—they are begging for someone to make them feel seen, heard and appreciated. I will wrap up by sharing one of my favorite quotes from undoubtedly one of the best saleswomen ever, Mary Kay Ash:

“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”

Always be looking for ways to connect with your database and you will take your team’s real estate business to a whole new level.

 

I am on hurricane watch right now …

Yes, it’s a fact – as I write this, hoping the power and my internet stay on, the eye of Hurricane Dorian is heading toward Florida. Walt Disney World is closed, the Orlando airport is closed and so are schools, businesses and many others.

Like most publicists when things get serious, we get busy.

Hurricanes and other weather issues, tragedies, unusual circumstances, holidays and other out-of-the-ordinary occurrences are times when our companies and clients need us the most.

Image result for closed due to hurricane sign

Here are a few examples:

  • You are closing when you are usually open, or the reverse (think Black Friday)
  • You have a message for your customers on how to stay safe
Image result for open during hurricane sign
  • Your products or services are essential to help others through (think gas stations, grocery stores, tree trimmers, etc.) and you are available.
  • Times or venues are being changed, but the event is still on. (think sporting events that are held outside )
  • Because of the occurrence you are doing something extraordinary like donating food or fundraising for others in need.
  • You want to reach out to your customers to say you are thinking of them and you care – this outreach can go to your entire audience, but be written for those being affected.
Image result for football game rescheduled
  • Times or venues are being changed, but the event is still on. (think sporting events that are held outside )
  • Because of the occurrence you are doing something extraordinary like donating food or fundraising for others in need.
  • You want to reach out to your customers to say you are thinking of them and you care – this outreach can go to your entire audience, but be written for those being affected.

A PR pro knows how to deploy the message – get it out, reach people who need to know and do it visually and with words chosen to have the right tone, at the right time.

Image result for open during hurricane sign

Members of the media, social media channels, direct communications and every normal communications channel are all pathways to get the message out, and do it right now.

PR tip: Don’t make your drama the focus – unless you have something useful to offer; don’t add to the noise.

But when possible and appropriate, humor is memorable, and how smart of Waffle House to be the one place we all look to for food and information!

Insanely Good Ideas – What ALL Marketers Can Learn From Real Estate Professionals – Part 1

No one has more interaction with a client over a longer period of time, than a real estate professional.  All marketers can learn from them and so in this two-part blog I will share with you the advice they have for growing your business.

Some of these tips may be ones you have done for years, others could be new and worthwhile, take a look and let’s continue to learn from marketing pros in many different industries.

In Part 1 you’ll learn how to create your vision, identify your audiences, develop marketing goals, establish your Unique Selling Proposition (message) gain 1,000 impressions with a 3-week Instagram campaign and how to do all this within a budget.  Take a look at HubSpot for more excellent ideas.

12 Insanely Successful Real Estate Marketing Ideas from Top Agents

As a real estate professional, you want to grow your business, and marketing plays a large role in capturing the attention of potential clients. A 2018 study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found 87% of home buyers purchase their home through a real estate agent. It’s evident there’s a market for real estate agents. But how can you reach prospects?

Below, I’ve compiled some real estate marketing ideas top agents use to promote their businesses. Whether you’re just getting started or are an experienced realtor looking to attract new clients, these marketing tips will help you create a successful marketing plan.

Unique Real Estate Marketing Ideas

  1. Create a website
  2. Build a blog
  3. Develop email marketing campaigns
  4. Employ virtual staging
  5. Try experiential marketing
  6. Partner with local businesses
  7. Run paid Instagram promotion
  8. Use drone photography
  9. Create a Zillow profile
  10. Ask for referrals
  11. Make Your Own Videos
  12.  Co-Host a Webinar

1. Create a website

Many consumers search the internet to investigate products and services before they buy. Creating a website for your real estate business will show prospective clients what you have to offer. Include listings on your site and update them regularly — this will keep prospects coming to your site as they search for properties. And add something a little unexpected to set your website apart. Take this mortgage calculator, and easy value add for visitors.

   2. Build a blog

You can also start a blog and create content optimized for SEO. This ensures your posts show up in prospect search results every time. Tools like Google Analytics and Ahrefs can help you find the search terms and keywords your target clients are looking for and will inspire you with fresh topic ideas.

Make it easy for them to navigate to your main website and link to your profile pages on other real estate sites so they can learn more about you and your business.

And don’t forget to create interesting images for your posts. This infographic would make a great addition to any blog post or email marketing campaign.Image source:

  1. Develop email marketing campaigns

Send a monthly newsletter roundup of your blog content, and reach out to contacts when new property listings are available. Include images of the properties that link to the full listing, a video walkthrough of the property, or a virtual staging of the home.

  1. Employ virtual staging

How can you pique buyer interest? Give them a sneak preview of what the home looks like by using a virtual staging website. Online staging saves you the time and money of physically staging the property. And a 2018 study of 4,200+ homes found 85% of staged homes sold for 6-25% more than unstaged homes.

  1. Try experiential marketing

Experiential marketing engages your prospects and “invites an audience to interact with a business in a real-world situation.” Host a tour of the area you’re selling in, hold an event to teach area homebuyers about the process of buying a home, or arrange an open house and invite buyers to view the home.

  1. Partner with local businesses

Use your local connections and partner with clothing boutiques, home decor showrooms, and coffee shops to promote listings, and invite them to participate in an open house event. For a unique way to encourage prospects to visit your open house, set up pop-up shops in different rooms of the house.

This encourages potential buyers to explore each room, and you can work with the local businesses to determine discounts on goods that can be offered to the home buyers.

  1. Run a paid Instagram promotion

Instagram is another tool to get in touch with home buyers, promote your listings, and grow your brand. And your most beautiful images can reach even more people with a paid promotion.

Instagram ads allow you to pick a target audience, budget, post type (e.g. image, video, carousel), and length of your promotion. And you can use targeted hashtags to ensure posts are presented to the people you’d like to reach.

  1. Use drone photography

Take sweeping shots of the home’s exterior and surrounding landscape using drone photography. Purchase a drone or use a drone service, like HouseLensor Sold by Air, to capture the perfect shot.

Use the photos to add an excitement factor to your listings. Video can be used to supplement your virtual tours or walkthroughs and show exterior features like patios and pools.

Don’t have the drone photography chops you need to show your clients’ homes in their best light? Services like Drone Base have thousands of experienced photographers around the globe and specialize in both residential and commercial real estate.

  1. Create a Zillow profile

With over 188 million monthly viewers, Zillow provides the opportunity to get your business in front of thousands of new prospects. This resource from Zillow lists the steps to set up your own profile. Your profile allows you to share your listings with a large audience and connect with potential clients, increasing the likelihood of gaining a new buyer.

  1. Ask for Referrals

Did you know 39% of sellers using a real estate agent found that agent through a referral from friends or family? If you’re not asking for referrals, you should be.

Follow up with buyers a few months after they’ve settled into their new home to ask how they’re doing and include a referral request in your email.

Does it feel like home yet?

Hello [Buyer’s name],

I hope you’re settling into your beautiful home! You picked a great neighborhood to buy it, and I’m so happy to have been able to help you through the process.

I so enjoyed with working with you. If you have any friends or family looking to buy or sell in the area, I’d love the opportunity to work with them. I’m hosting a happy hour next week to talk with people about the current market.

Feel free to share this event link with anyone you think might be interested: [Insert link to event page]

Regards,
[Your name]

Some realtors will offer to plan a housewarming party for their new homeowners and use the party/guest list to meet with potential buyers.

  1. Make Your Own Videos

It’s no secret that video can be a powerful tool for realtors. And it doesn’t have to cost thousands. Whether you go for a highly produced video like the one below featuring client testimonials, or use video software to record a message from your laptop pitching your services to a potential client, video can be a way to set yourself apart from the crowd.

  1. Co-Host a Webinar

Want to make it easy for potential buyers or sellers in your area to understand the current market? Partner with a local lender, title company, or even your favorite staging service and host a webinar on a topic that will interest those thinking of making a real estate move.

For example, you might team up with a local home improvement service to conduct a webinar on the top five most valuable improvements sellers can make to their home to boost sales price. These changes and tastes can differ per state, so this can be valuable information sellers can’t find online.

Real Estate Marketing Plan

Now that you have some marketing ideas, the next question is, “What’s the plan?” Without clear goals for your real estate business and marketing strategy, it’s difficult to measure success. Consider the following points when developing your marketing plan.

  1. Create a vision statement

What do you want to accomplish in the short- and long-term? Develop a vision statement to identify the goals you’d like to reach. This makes it easier to lay out steps for reaching your business’ vision.

  1. Identify your target customer

Who are you marketing to? Will you be marketing to sellers, renters, first-time home buyers, etc.? Identifying the personas you’re selling to paints a clearer picture of who to target with your marketing efforts.

  1. Develop goals

Set goals for your overall marketing initiatives, and summarize which strategies you’ll use to accomplish these goals. What are the business goals you’d like to reach? And what criteria will you use to decide if these goals have been met?

  1. Determine your unique selling proposition

Think about what differentiates you from your competition. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when developing your proposition:

  • What can you offer that others can’t?
  • How does your unique approach or personality create value for prospects?
  • What are the latest pricing, selling, and buying trends in your market?
  • How can you discuss these trends (including the numbers) with prospects?
  1. Determine tools and budget for each strategy

Pick the top marketing ideas that will work for your business, selling proposition, and ideal target market. From there, calculate how much of your budget to allocate to each strategy.

  1. Measure performance

Once you’ve identified the tools you’ll be using to market your business, write down key metrics to measure their success. Determine the timeframe for the strategy or campaign and set a goal. Let’s use a paid Instagram ad as an example:

Campaign: Instagram post promotion

Length of promotion: 3 weeks

Goal: The post should gain 1,000 impressions and have a click-through rate of 1%

With these marketing ideas, you’re sure to wow your potential customers and attract them to your services.

Creating a marketing plan will help you set goals for your marketing campaigns and develop the steps to reach these goals.

Written by Meredith Hart

Do You Have BLUE in your logo? Let’s Explore The Color of Trust!

Maybe this is why our corporate leaders wears so much blue?

What color is the logo of the organization you represent?  Do you share qualities with other brands of the same color?

According to Fast Company. “The implications of color’s effect on people’s emotions are far reaching, and understanding your customers’ connections to certain colors could increase the effectiveness of your company’s branding methods.”

Blue is often thought of as a male color, and since my father’s eyes were the most beautiful blue and this is his favorite month – Blue is this month’s color!

Note:  Over the decades I have worked on logo design, 99% of my male clients choose blue as their logo color of choice! Women tend to choose from all over the color chart.

 

logo color 2015 BLUE

Research complied by web design and marketing company WebPageFX, people make a subconscious judgment about a product in less than 90 seconds of viewing, and a majority of these people base that assessment on color alone. In fact, almost 85% of consumers cite color as the primary reason they buy a particular product, and 80% of people believe color increases brand recognition.”

What can be learned here?  I’d love to hear what you think!

With thanks to Fast Company for this great article –infographic from WebPageFX, written by Rachel Gillett.

Making Deals At Dinner – Much More Than Great Food

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Dinner parties are “on par” with golf for being an opportunity to enhance and expand a relationship; and to make a deal.  

#1 – For you, the host and your staff this is not social, it is work.  Each person sits at a different table, with the skill to keep the conversation light and appropriate.  Training must include potential worst case scenarios, a few ‘what if’s”, how to steer away from topics that could ruin the mood and to steer toward key moments that make the event memorable. Plan the evening with your ultimate purpose in mind.

#2 – Low centerpieces, if any – low-ish lights, soft music and comfortable chairs are all a must.

#3 – Food that is easy to eat (BBQ ribs are a no-no), dietary options and not too much emphasis on the wine and cocktails.  

#4 – A beautiful, calm setting, a team that knows how to guide a successful evening and staying focused can turn a dinner into a deal.

Below is a wonderful article from Claire Hoffman in BizBash (with thanks), that asks the experts how to plan and execute a successful dinner event:

Small, seated dinners have long been a popular way for companies and brands to thank their employees or entertain V.I.P. clients in an intimate setting. But as any event planner knows, hosting an effective dinner takes much more than just gathering guests for a great meal.

While social dinner parties might be focused on reconnecting with friends, corporate dinners are usually a bit more strategic—the company wants to convey some sort of message to key stakeholders. As such, ease of communication is crucial, and that goal should bleed into everything from the decor and the catering to the seating chart and the timing of toasts.

“Corporate events [need to] think ahead to a sound system, a scripted message, and who is sitting next to whom to promote a positive networking environment,” explains David Merrell, the C.E.O. and creative director of AOO Events in Los Angeles. “There needs to be a certain return on investment for the money the company is spending [on this dinner].”

But that doesn’t mean the dinner needs to be all business, adds Christopher

Confero, the owner of Atlanta-based design firm Confero. “Just because it may be in a setting with fellow professionals, don’t forget to soften the space. Dim the lights, add beautiful decor pieces—anything that communicates to the guests they are appreciated and highly valued as employees and colleagues.”

Here are some more tips for creating effective dinners for corporate groups.

Design everything with the goal of facilitating conversations.
For seated dinners, centerpieces should either be below or above the sight line, so guests can talk throughout the meal. “If you place your elbow on the table and sit your chin on the palm of your hand, low decor should always be below that height,” says Confero. “If you raise your arm all the way up, tall decor should be above palm level there as well.”

It’s also important to avoid super-wide tables. “You want to be able to speak with the person across from you in a natural tone,” notes Jennifer Coman, the director of marketing and events for Los Angeles catering firm Haute Chefs L.A. “Comfortable chairs are also key, and something with a cushion is always appreciated.”

Entertainment-wise, it’s nice to have ambient noise in the background to cut down on awkward silences. Confero suggests live jazz music, or light music piped in through an audio system.

But if the event’s host wants more extensive entertainment, such as a performance of some sort, make sure it’s chosen with purpose. “If you are going to grab their attention away [from conversations], that distraction should be tying them back to the message, brand, or purpose of the event,” says Merrell.

Lighting is also an important consideration. “It is one of those things that when done well, it transforms the environment,” says Coman. “With corporate dinners, you need lighting that is not so dim that it feels like a club, but you don’t want it so bright that it feels medicinal.”

Confero suggests using a lot of candles on the table. “The more the better, with varying heights and varieties,” he explains. “Typically candles will be a bit cheaper than other centerpieces, and everyone looks ravishing in candlelight.”

Prep the event’s host on ways to keep the conversation flowing.
The dinner’s host should be responsible for keeping guests engaged and comfortable. One way to do that is with planned conversation topics. “With social or corporate dinners, many times guests aren’t familiar with the person sitting next to them,” says Merrell. “Lead questions from the host can break the silence, so always have some in your back pocket.”

Confero notes that this method also works if the party has multiple tables. One person seated at each table should be prepared with talking points. “Always put one large personality at each table,” he suggests. “If there is a lull in energy, they can jump in to pick things up. But be aware that you haven’t cast a bulldozer in this role—you don’t want someone dominating, only facilitating.”

One out-of-the-box way to facilitate conversation with a smaller group is the Jeffersonian Dinner method, where the entire table discusses one topic rather than having their own conversations with their seatmates. (BizBash covered this topic in a GatherGeeks podcast with Convers(ate) founders Taylor Buonocore Guthrie and Mollie Kinsman Khine.)

Toasts are also a great way for the host to thank everyone for coming and remind guests of the events’ purpose. “Make sure you have a sound system, or that the person giving the toast is loud enough for everyone to hear,” notes Merrell. “I also always encourage guests to not just toast with alcohol, wine, or champagne, but any drink that the guest has—you don’t want to promote drinking if [not all attendees] drink.”

As for timing, Coman says that toasts and other speeches should never be planned right before or during dessert. “We’ve seen it done, and you lose the crowd,” she says. “The best time for any ‘talking’ is going to be right when guests are getting warmed up and freshly seated, and between the first and second course.”

Think through the seating arrangements.
While assigned seating may be a good idea for dinner parties in general, it can be especially crucial for corporate dinners, says Merrell. “Meaningful business conversations and networking is one of the most important outcomes of the event,” he notes. “Seating configurations, the makeup of the guests attending, and the purpose of the gathering always dictate who is close to whom, and should always be considered separately from one event to the next.”

Confero adds that the client or host company should be involved in this process, since they know how best to group guests.

For dinners with multiple tables, it might make sense to play what Confero calls “a simple game of musical chairs.” “Each of your three courses is spent at a different table with various guests,” he explains. “It takes a bit more work for whoever is creating the seating arrangements—and of course on the kitchen and servers—but if you don’t have a large number of dietary restrictions it’s highly worth it to spend as much time as possible with different guests.”

Ask for dietary restrictions in advance—and keep catering simple.
In a corporate environment, it is especially important that guests with dietary restrictions don’t feel uncomfortable in front of their peers. “It is almost a given nowadays that you ask for restrictions such as allergies, gluten-free, or vegan,” says Merrell. “Asking up front sends the message that you care about the guests’ experience.”

With some exceptions depending on the group demographics, corporate dinners are usually not the time to get too experimental with catering. “Corporate dinners tend to stick more comfortably in the fish, chicken, and beef categories, and rarely venture beyond that,” says Merrell. Coman agrees. “Seated corporate dinners call for a plated, coursed meal with an option for restrictive diets and an easy switch-up for anyone with a serious allergy, for example. With our corporate clients, they always have a list of any executives that have allergies or dietary restrictions. In the rare case they do not [have a list], we work with our client to design a menu that is amenable to on-the-spot changes without sacrificing flavor,” she explains.

Like every other aspect of the dinner, though, food should never take away from the conversations. “You’d never want to be left ‘holding a skewer’ or having appetizers that take more than one easy bite in a corporate setting,” notes Coman. “It can cause for an awkward moment when needing to have a professional conversation.”

Confero agrees, adding that serving soup and pasta are not always the best idea. “There are always exceptions, but they are usually messy and loud,” he notes.

But, he adds, the dessert course may be a chance to get a bit more creative. “After a large meal, get guests up and moving around,” Confero suggests. “Make the dessert course something more relaxed and interactive. With space permitting, instead of serving the final course at the table, make it a couple stations scattered around the room.”

What is the Secret to Reaching Millennials? If you are producing an event…

Capturing the attention of millennials and the Gen Z crowd (also known as iGen) has been the holy grail of goals for meeting and event planners in recent years. Old-school methods and formats aren’t effective anymore. This new generation of attendees demands innovation and interactivity and expects social media shareability.

At the Center for Generational Kinetics, which specializes in generational research and solutions, an in-house team of experts, keynote speakers, and consultants work with clients, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups across industries such as automotive, banking, financial services, restaurants, hoteliers, and retail, to figure out what works and what doesn’t. (Hint: PowerPoint, no. Video, yes.)

The center deems those born between 1977 and 1995 as millennials. The center’s president, Jason Dorsey, who, at 40, rides the cusp of this generation, has spoken in front of many millennial-packed audiences at events, meetings, and conferences, including the Financial Brand Forum, GS1 in Mexico, Ultimate Connections Conference, and EO Nashville. Here, he shares his insights into planning a meeting or event that successfully taps into the mindset of this group.

What are the key elements that millennials look for in events?
Millennials want to be included in all aspects of the event. This means not having to sit in the back of the room because they have more junior titles or fewer years of experience. Millennials also want digital integration, fewer PowerPoint slides, more video, and more all-around interactivity. We have come of age in a time of instant feedback and collaboration, and we want our in-person events to include more of this before, during, and after.

What’s the main difference between reaching a Gen Z audience as compared to millennials?
Gen Z are younger than millennials, in some cases 15 years younger, so they are on the very front end of their careers. [Right now, Gen Z is up to age 22.] We find they value training on how to make the most of events, how to use technology to connect with people and resources at events, and interaction that drives new connections—as they likely know fewer people at the event than other generations. Gen Z also looks to other social media platforms, such as Snapchat rather than Facebook, which changes the type of digital interactions they want to create while at an event.

What’s the best way for planners to reach millennials at conferences and meetings in particular?
In our work with planners around the world, the best way to reach millennials is to create the foundation for a great event before the event happens. This includes videos, behind-the-scenes collaborations, and building up the excitement for the event before it takes place. Our work with meeting planners who have events with lots of millennials also reveals that millennials want the event to be tailored to them, when possible, and to give them options to find content and tracks that meet their specific needs including career and life stage. Millennials want speakers that are high energy, engaging, and who pull into the message and meeting, rather than traditional PowerPoint-heavy presentations with someone behind a podium.

Lastly, continuing the conversation after the event is key so that all the great content doesn’t just disappear, but drives engagement, enthusiasm, and action when everyone returns to work. We frequently work with meeting planners to film videos and create other content that is specifically designed to be delivered before and after the event, including live conversations post-event.

What types of speakers are most effective at engaging millennials?
Millennials get fired up about my take on our generation because I explain how millennials are actually two generations [early and late millennials], not one. This is a big deal and why many of us feel like we don’t fit in the generation. Other speakers I’ve seen that resonate with millennial audiences include Jay Baer, Rory Vaden, Erik Qualman, and David Horsager. All of them are very entertaining presenters with lots of great stories and humor, which is important as millennials have very high expectations for entertainment when it comes to speakers.

Is there anything that’s a major turn-off for millennials in terms of events? 
Yes, boring speakers with lots of slides, being treated as if they are not as valued an audience member as those with bigger titles, not having diverse food options, and events that are in hotels where they charge for Wi-Fi.

This article was posted here with thanks to the writer Michele Laufik and came from BIZBASH. http://www.bizbash.com.

What are Hashtags (#) and How to Use Them on Social Media

Once upon a time, the ‘#’ was a simple pound sign or hash mark. But then the social blue bird flew onto the scene and turned this mundane symbol into an online sensation. Today, whether you are on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or any other social media channels, you simply cannot escape the all encompassing presence of the #hashtag. But what exactly is a hashtag? In case you always wondered but were too afraid to ask, we’ve come up with a clear and concise explanation of everything you need to know about this Internet phenomenon.

#lovelabpuppies

Not only that: once you’ve mastered the “what”, you’ll probably want to know “how” to use hashtags. Strap in because this article will help all levels of social media addicts. If you’re relatively new to the game, we understand that at first glance, hashtags might seem confusing. But once you understand them better, you will see that they are a powerful tool to grow your social impact and engage your audience – oh, and did we mention: all for the cost of $0.00? If you’re more advanced, you might want to know how to optimize your hashtags, in order to raise brand awareness and get more customers.

As a long time user and fan of WIX, the great advice below, with links left in, is so good I wanted to share with my blog readers. #bennettaboutmarketing  #greatPRadvice  #marketingnews  #lovelabpuppies

Here is a complete guide on  hashtags and how to use them efficiently:

What is a hashtag?

With thousands of images published every minute on all social platforms, it can be hard to stand out amongst the crowd. The possibility for your post to be seen isn’t promising, unless they are one of your followers. That’s where hashtags come into play. A hashtag is a keyword or phrase preceded by the hash symbol (#), written within a post or comment to highlight it and facilitate a search for it. Essentially, by including hash marks in your post; it can be indexed by the social network so that it can be discoverable to everyone, even if they’re not your followers or fans. For example, if your company has to do with extreme sports you can add the #bucketlist to your Instagram posts to snag those people with a passion for adventure and fun.

Why should you use hashtags?

Thanks to hashtags, your posts aren’t limited to just your followers. By adding one of these bad boys, your content will be accessible to all other users interested in similar topics who search for your hashtag. Choosing the right hashtag can greatly broaden the reach of your social media posts to thousands of potential followers, fans or customers. For example, if you have a healthy juice bar, it can be tempting to go for the obvious #fruit, but beware! With over a million posts and growing the chances of being seen are as slim as a banana peel. Now if you throw on a more specific tag like #drinkyourveggies, your looking at better odds. This is all the more relevant with the recent update on Instagram, where you can now follow specific hashtags just like you would friends or companies. So it goes without saying: make sure you don’t just slap # on any word.

Three powerful families of hashtags to use on social media

Content hashtags: If you are totally new to hashtags, first consider using some that directly relate to your product, service, market or area of expertise. We can call them the ‘content hashtags’ because they relate to the content that your content would be naturally associated with. As you can imagine, they will greatly expose your brand to potential customers on those social media platforms who weren’t previously familiar with your brand. For instance, at Wix we primarily use content hashtags related to websites – such as #SEO, #Illustration, #Photography or #SMB.

Trending hashtags: Another great way to boost your brand’s visibility is using existing hashtags that have grown popular among millions of users, also known as ‘trending hashtags’. Watch out: before you add the ‘#’ symbol to a trending topic, remember to first ask yourself whether your social media posts are adding value to the existing conversation. Value can be interpreted in many ways: a unique piece of information, an original look or opinion at what’s is going on, or simply a funny statement or image. If your post does not add any value, it is highly likely to be ignored and lost in the plethora of posts. If however your post is informative, funny or viral, it will get re-shared by fellow users ultimately increasing awareness of your brand. Generally, trending hashtags are a lot of fun! It can range from holidays to random spur of the moment games like the Tweet below:

Brand-specific hashtags: Sometimes, the problem with using generic or popular hashtags is that your posts might be lost in the noise of hundreds of messages using the same hashtags. Hence, it is a good idea to create your own dedicated ‘brand-specific hashtags’. These can be used for general branding, promotions, events, contests or other marketing campaigns. The key to creating an effective brand-specific hashtag is to ensure that there is no one else using the same hashtag. It has to be unique and memorable. For general branding, use a short motto or tagline. When creating marketing campaign-specific hashtags, make sure to give users a compelling incentive to use them. For example, you could get users to post with a campaign-specific hashtag to stand a chance to get discounts or win prizes. In return, your brand stands to benefit from major viral marketing publicity. A brand-specific hashtag that we hold very near and dear to our hearts is #WixPhotography, which we use on all of our relevant social media platforms – like Facebook.

Brand-specific hashtags

How to use hashtags wisely?

To create a hashtag, all you need to do is include a ‘#’ and a relevant keyword or phrase. This, you already knew. But what you didn’t know is that not all hashtags are born equal. In fact, they are only powerful when handpicked and used wisely. Here are two crucial general tips that apply to all social media and businesses:

Keep it short: To save everyone the headache, don’t squish too many words into one hashtag. Nothing turns people off more than overly lengthy hashtags – #YouDontWantToTryThisAtHome.

Don’t overuse: Another thing you want to avoid is writing your entire caption with one hashtag per word. #Because #its #not #really #fun #to #read #like #this #is #it? The number of hashtags you can allow per post depends on each channel. But as a general rule of thumb, only put an hashtag next to word that are really significant.

Think strategically: This applies to the ‘content hashtags’. By definition, since you won’t have created them, they are probably used by other brands. Which is a good thing, since people will look after this hashtag. But at the same time, when a hashtag is overcrowded, you can be sure that your content will go unnoticed. So it’s highly recommended to mix content hashtags with a high volume, with other hashtags that are more specific. For example, let’s say you have a restaurant and you want to post a picture of your latest gnocchi dish on Instagram. #Food is an obvious choice, but with over 258 millions posts using it, you have no chance to stand out. Try and find more ‘niche’ hashtags, such as #gnocchi or #gnocchiday. As always, a little research will go a long way. Hashtagify is a good place to start. And of course, nothing will beat the good old trial and error: experiment, learn and have fun as you go!

What are the best hashtag practices for each social media

Twitter

How many hashtags per postResearch shows that the optimal amount of hashtags is two. Over that, the tweets have a significant drop in engagement.
How to find the best hashtags around: It’s important to make sure people are engaging with the hashtags you use. A great place to start is Hashtagify, it allows you to check the popularity and recent popularity to know if your hashtag is relevant.
Where to place them: While you are more limited on Twitter with the amount of #’s you are less confined as to where they should go. It can be used at the end of a Tweet or incorporated as part of the sentence.

Instagram

How many hashtags per post: The more hashtags you use, the more engagement you see – up until a certain point. After about 10 hashtags, you risk losing out on some of that engagement.
How to find the best hashtags around: Head over to the search box and check what your audience, competitors, and industry leaders are already using. Pay attention to the number of posts, and how many likes the first images received.
Where to place them: In order to keep everything organized and neat, it’s best to put your hashtags at the end of your caption preferably separated by either dots or asterisks. If you’re a neat freak, you can also add your hashtags in a comment to your post.

Facebook

Believe it or not, hashtags are not important on Facebook. We recommend limiting the number of hashtags to a minimum. Indeed, concise captions tend to perform better on this platform. Of course, using your ‘brand-specific hashtags’ won’t hurt.

LinkedIn and G+

Same as for Facebook: hashtags can be added, but they don’t really have an effect on your post.

Pinterest

How many hashtags per post: Pinterest themselves recommend you add no more than 20 hashtags per Pin.
Where to place them: Hashtags only work within the Pins’ descriptions.

Ready to make an impact online? It all starts with a stunning website from Wix!

Tali Marks
By Tali Marks
Community and Social Media Manager, Wix About the Wix Blog

Event Marketing – 10 Ways To Go BIG

Have fun, get your attendees engaged and incorporate these 10 onsite ideas into your next event… or any other situation that you think could use a smart boost!

If you aren’t using Cvent, take a look at what they offer and read these 10 tips from their blog written by Emily Vera.  Outstanding ideas Emily, thank you!
Our agency uses the Social Wall at every major event, it is worth every dollar and tracks your success in real time!  Love it!
You want your attendees actively posting to social media and using the mobile event app. These two besties can do wonders for your event marketing efforts and your onsite attendee engagement! However, finding new and creative ways to incorporate social media into your events can be challenging. As Cvent’s social media manager, I’m constantly researching new, fun ways to make social media an integral part of the event experience. So whether your event audience is full of social media novices or professional second-screen multi-taskers, I hope you’ll find these ideas helpful when planning how to incorporate social media into your next event!
  1. Networking Photo Challenge – Set tent cards around your networking event with different photo challenges. Not only does it serve as an ice breaker, it encourages attendees to get social! Make sure your hashtag is included on the challenges. Some examples to consider – “Take a photo with someone new you’ve just met!” “Take a photo with someone wearing the same color outfits as you.” “Take a photo with someone who shares your birthday month.”
  2. Larger than life hashtag – Who doesn’t love big signage? Give your attendees the perfect backdrop to their Instagram photo as well as a big reminder of what your event hashtag is. In fact, put the hashtag on all of your signage, branding and even on attendee name badges!
  3. Mirror Selfie Stations Everyone will have to use the bathroom at some point. Bathrooms also tend to have exceptionally good lighting, perfect for taking selfies! Create removable stickers to brand the bathroom mirrors – especially full body ones – with your event hashtag, quote bubbles, or emojis.
  4. Mobile + Social = Besties – Best friends do everything together! Make sure to take advantage of all the ways a mobile app can enable the social experience. Prominently feature the event hashtag on your splash screen and banner ads. Use push notifications to remind attendees to share. Ensure all social icons are linked to your brand’s accounts as well as encourage speakers, attendees and exhibitors to link their social accounts to their event app profiles.
  5. Social Swag Your event hashtag is almost as important as your brand’s logo when it comes to swag. Ensure it is on all swag items and consider giving out swag that encourages social behavior. Some ideas to consider – device chargers, “Tweet Me” / “Snap Me” stickers for name badges, selfie sticks, photo booth props, pens with stylus or hashtag temporary tattoos.
  6. SocialWall – Integrate the social content being generated by your attendees as part of your event design with SocialWall. This event technology displays the content on your event hashtag practically anywhere using a projection screen or TVs. Attendees sharing will get excited to see themselves on “the big screen” and attendees not participating will want to join in on the fun!
  7. #GoodEats – Food and beverage are integral parts of your event planning process and people love to take photos of food! You can keep it simple by incorporating the event hashtag on napkins, glassware, or even on the food itself. Get more complex by hosting a “name this dish” contest or have attendees vote via a Twitter poll on what should be served at the after-party.
  8. Create Social Currency – Challenge your attendees to think of tweets as dollars and Instagram photos as upgrade passes. Set up a Twitter activated vending machine that dispenses whenever an attendee tweets a specific hashtag and username. Create a photo challenge that can only be completed on Instagram and once completed “unlocks” a pass upgrade for a VIP area.
  9. Interactive Polling Stop asking attendees to raise their hands! Instead, launch in-app polls to instantly receive attendee feedback or facilitate a Q&A during breakout sessions. Try embedding real-time in-app poll results into presentations to create a more social event experience.
  10. #Help – Have a dedicated area where attendees can access social media and mobile experts for help with everything from stepping up a Twitter account to posting to Facebook from their mobile device. Hold an #AMA (Ask Me Anything) style in-person chat to answer questions for an audience that’s at various levels of social media savviness.

Be Part Of The Bliss That Comes With An Out-of-Office Message

So incredibly smart!  Heathrow airport, offers a ready made Out-of-Office message for travelers.  You have to sign into an airport Wi-Fi so while you are at it, why not use their Out-of-Office message too??

This article from ADWEEK, ran July 3, just before Independence Day in the USA – but offers us so many ideas for all the businesses that add joy/special moments of bliss/fun/escape – you-fill-in the benefit to our lives – think of what hotels, recreation, destinations, retails, transportation and so many more could offer.. think about it – how do you add joy to your customer’s life?  Now produce a video or message for use not only as an out-of-office message but for social media channels.  

Now if you are a toy store, pet shop, ski resort, beach bar or more – you might just go wild with this idea – have big fun!

An entirely new way to send your corporate message!  

Though people across the pond won’t be celebrating the Fourth of July on Wednesday, Heathrow Airport still understands the sentiment of a holiday week—as it proved in a new spot that’s all about embracing your vacation days.

Havas London, the British-based agency behind Heathrow’s now-famous ads featuring a pair of bears returning home for the holidays, created this new spot for London’s landmark airport. In it, a woman drafts her out-of-office message while sitting at her gate at Heathrow. As she finishes, she laughs with her two children before the family giddily gets up to board their plane.

Heathrow: Out Of Office  – link here: https://www.adweek.com/creativity/heathrow-out-of-office-ad/
“Heathrow is just as much about those longed-for week-long summer holidays as it is about weekday business trips and round-the-world epics,” Lynsey Atkin, creative director at Havas London, told Adweek of the spot. “We wanted to celebrate the small moments that have great significance when it comes to our precious time away with those we love. Setting an out of office is one such moment, where the world of work is packed away and our focus shifts to the really important people in our lives.”

The ad’s approach is simple: A reminder of the feeling that comes along with the seemingly-minute, yet instantly relief-inducing act of setting up an out-of-office message before heading out on an awaited-for vacation. Atkin says that going into the campaign, the Havas London team wanted “to tell a seemingly small story that had big resonance.”

To make the family interactions feel natural and relatable, the spot’s director, Tom Green of Stink Films, worked with the cast for two days of shooting “to allow for natural action and dialogue that feels utterly relatable and part of the fabric of family interactions that play out every single day across Heathrow,” Atkin said.

The campaign aims to highlight Heathrow’s “Closer” tagline, meant to showcase “the airport’s ability to bring people closer together for special moments every day,” according to a release. Beyond the video spot, also included in the campaign are several out-of-home ads featuring images shot by Christopher Anderson. In these ads, close-up photos of different faces are featured. At the bottom of each image, there’s a personalized out-of-office message.

“At its very heart Heathrow is about bringing people Closer to each other,” Atkin said of the message behind the Closer tagline. “And in a time when that seems increasingly rare, it feels fitting that a place that knows the power and emotion of being together should be flying the flag for it, however big or small.”

Credits

Project name: Out of Office
Client: Heathrow Airport Limited: Simon Eastburn – Director of Marketing, Modupe Adeboye – Senior Marketing and Brand Manager, Kellie Heath – Campaign Marketing Manager, Silvia Cardinale – Campaign Marketing Manager
Creative agency: Havas London
ECD: Ben Mooge
Creative Director: Lynsey Atkin
Creative: Tom Manning
Account team: Caroline Saunders, Oliver Lester, Claire Petzal, Naomi Hollowday
Agency producer (film): Kiri Carch, Adrianne Godfrey
Agency producer (print): Hatty Middleton
Planner: Clare Phayer
Media agency: Carat
Media planner: Hanna Puggaard
Production company: Stink Films
Producer: Ray Leakey
Director: Tom Green
DoP: James Laxton
Editor: James Forbes-Robertson at Whitehouse Post
Post-production: The Mill
Soundtrack composer: Roots Manuva ‘Fighting For’
Audio post-production: Jon Clarke at Factory

 

Thank you ADWEEK for another smart and creative story.  Laura

Have You Decorated … your social media channels?

10 Creative Marketing Ideas for the Holiday Season

Yes it is the holiday season, and nothing matters more the other times of year than our social media efforts, so include them in the holiday spirit too! #BennettHolidayMarketing  #HappyHolidays2018

As a long time PR professional, I am always looking for really great ideas, that are business-like yet have impact. 

Thanks to Wix (where I host the wwww.BennettandCo.com website), here is a list of 10 great and creative marketing ideas, and examples of how they were implemented for the Wix brand:

Months ahead of the holiday season, retail stores start decorating shelves with tinsel, candles and festive lights. It seems that every year, the holiday prep starts earlier and earlier. Call shop owners overeager, but planning ahead actually has its perks. This is especially the case when it comes to marketing. Planning for these predetermined dates can prevent your business from getting hit with unexpected snowballs – like last minute promotional campaigns, holiday re-designs, and battles with creative blocks.

As a small business owner, it’s worth taking a lesson or two from these retail giants. Although you’re going to need to put in some work, we promise that it will be nothing short of fun. That’s because we’ve included inspiration for holiday content for your website, decked-out social pages, creative newsletters and much more to dress up your business in festive and seasonal attire. And after you’ve implemented these holiday marketing strategies, your business will be just as jolly as a proudly-standing snowman (carrot nose and scarf included). So without further ado, here are 10 effective and fun marketing ideas you can implement on your site for the holiday season:

01. Decorate your social media channels

Just like putting up lights in your front yard or garnishing your front door, the point of decorating your social channels is to signal that your small business is well aware the holidays are in full swing. So, how will you begin? Pull out your digital arts and craft supplies and start creating some holiday content. For social media, upload a new cover photo that features a design of a simple festive image, a holiday wish written over a patterned background, or a promotion of a holiday sale. If you want to create your own designs, you can use a graphic design tool, like Canva, which allows you to choose your social media image size, then easily layer that base with customised photos, shapes, and text. Once you save your design, you can simply upload it to the corresponding social channel.

You can also use your FacebookInstagram, and Twitter profiles to post some holiday cheer. To create social posts, one effortless tool is Wix Social Posts because it enables you to simply pick a pre-sized, flawless design, then drag and drop your text, and add stickers (graphics) and images for a personalized look that speaks to your brand identity. Then, save and upload your design onto the social channels of your choice – or even onto your website. The type of content you can share is anything from upcoming events to promotions for the holiday season, such as contests, themed sales, and blog posts full of holiday inspiration. And don’t worry, we’ll cover all of these points and more in the tips to come. Just focus on filling your pages with joy and spirit for now.

holiday marketing ideas for social posts

02. Create a themed version of your logo

A logo certainly holds the core position of your business and branding efforts. It also represents your business’ personality – like Google’s playful color palette, for example (learn why they chose a green ‘L’ with this cool article about the stories behind famous logos). As an ambassador of your personality, it only makes sense that your logo reflect that your business is also celebrating it up during this holiday season. This holiday version can be as simple as replacing the dot on an ‘i or the letter ‘o’ with hanging lights or candles. Even if these letters don’t apply to you, you can incorporate a tinsel or glittery border into any design. Get as creative as you wish here.

If you don’t have a logo, not to worry we’ve got a solution. You can always turn to a trusted logo creation platform that can create a professional logo for you in seconds: Wix Logo Maker. All you need to do is simply answer a few questions about your company, industry, and style preferences. Then, watch the artificial intelligence technology work its magic and generate numerous logo options faster than you can wrap a present. And the best part is that they’re all completely customizable, which will allow you to make it as cheerful as you wish.

Creating a themed logo is a holiday marketing idea

03. Invent a festive hashtag

One proven way to get people talking about your brand is by creating a unique hashtag. In short, a hashtagis the combination of a ‘#’ symbol followed by a keyword or phrase that allows the accompanying post to become searchable. There are millions of popular hashtags that can certainly help with post engagement, particularly on Instagram and Twitter. However, a self-created seasonal hashtag or one related to a specific holiday date will stimulate a potentially viral campaign.

But first, let’s take a step back and discuss the phrase ‘user-generated content (UGC).’ This is the concept where everyday users create content for your business and share them online – essentially advertising your brand for you. Typically, these online posts are accompanied by hashtags, which funnel all of the UGC content to one central location. So, let’s make up an ultra specific campaign idea. For example, say you have a business, Ruth’s Vintage Apparel, and you want to host a costume contest. There are two requirements: participants must wear a clothing item from your online shop, and they must post about it using the hashtag #RuthsCostumeContest. This will generate hype around your brand because consumers will be enthusiastic to participate and check out the competition (hence, they will browse more of your posts for items from your store via the hashtag). It will also benefit your business by expanding your promotion reach much more than physically possible to do on your own.

04. Hold a competition

Anything from an ugly sweater contest, to a race to sign up for a free scented candle, will generate buzz around your business. It’s similar to the previously mentioned concept of creating a hashtag. User-generated content is certainly relevant here, as well, in order to spread the word about your company. Yet, the main difference between a hashtag and this strategy is that a contest needs to be incentivising. Whether you’re giving away a product, gift card, or featuring a customer on your website, you need to offer something in return to the chosen winner of your contest.

While the options of the type of contest you hold are endless, there are a couple of basic competition guidelines you should consider:

  • Set a clear goal: All that you do regarding your marketing strategy should have one clear goal in mind. Is it to get more followers on your Instagram account and Facebook page? Or is it to promote your newest holiday product? You’re going to want to come up with a game plan of how you can reach that goal. This includes everything from choosing the platform to researching the guidelines of hosting a contest there.
  • Entice your audience with a prize: Let’s face it. This is the entire reason consumers will be interested in playing. Whether it’s a gift card to your online store or a holiday gift (really, everyone loves scented candles), keep it relevant and in the spirit of your chosen festivity.
  • Include all of the rules: For legal purposes and overall transparency, this step cannot be neglected. Think about all the possible factors that go into your contest and write them down somewhere. It can certainly take up a lot of room on your social feed, so it might be worthwhile to make and link a PDF at the bottom of your contest post, include it as a section of your website or even create a one page website dedicated to the competition.
  • Promote your competition: Some promotional efforts are free (like email marketing), and others might cost you a bit of money (like Facebook advertising). Decide on your budget, content, and design. Then, throw your flyers into the wind.
  • Post about your winner: The final place you can truly make sure your first goal is met is by sharing the results. It’s the last opportunity you have to generate more content from your activity. So, make sure to create exciting content centered around your winner and company, and share it all around – your website, your blog, a newsletter, your social media, and more. Just don’t forget to get the winner’s permission first.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fwix%2Fvideos%2F10155805870270429%2F&show_text=0&width=560

05. Send a holiday shoutout

The most effective form of marketing proven again and again is email marketing. In fact, over 80% of retail professionals claim that email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention more than any other form of digital marketing – and yes, that number even takes social media into account. And the last, most important reason, is that it’s free or extremely cheap to send effective newsletters.

Have we convinced you to implement this holiday marketing idea yet? If so, send out a beautiful, easy-to-design and fully customisable email from your business’s own custom email address in order to make sure that your business looks as professional as possible to consumers this holiday season. If you’re a Wix user, you can easily send out a newsletter right from your account thanks to the all-in-one email solution, Wix ShoutOut. This tool allows you to customise your templates, sync your contacts, send out newsletters, then go back and track your stats to learn more about your community and how you can improve based on feedback and statistics.

When you prepare your email, include everything from the subject lineCTAs, and content, to themed images. (Here are some email marketing tips to get you started.) While crafting your email plan, make sure to think creatively, as you certainly won’t be the only business sending out a holiday email this year. You’re going to have to put in some work to stand out. Here are some creative examples for your inspiration:

  • Launch a countdown leading up to a specific holiday date: For example, you can list X number of products (with links to your online store) in descending order to entice readers to scroll through the whole email.
  • Animate with videos and GIFs: These are two engaging forms of content that will get visitors interested in your email.
  • Send a holiday gift: Anything from a voucher for an actual product to something much simpler, like a coupon or printable greeting card that they can share with their loved ones.
  • Announce a sales campaign: Sales are as inescapable as cut-out cookies during the holiday season. This is why you should considering creating a sales campaign for your eCommerce website.
  • Give out warm holiday wishes: Create a digital greeting card with a festive photo of you or your team – including your pets if you have any (because really that’s what people care about the most).

Wix Shoutout Email holiday marketing ideas

06. Highlight a sale on your website with a Lightbox

No, we aren’t talking about the box of string lights you stored away from last year, although we are sure that you can find something festive to do with those, too. Digitally speaking, a lightbox is an interactive message that appears on your website immediately upon a visitor’s arrival and then prompts them to take a specific action. So, if you’re hosting a sale, this is the perfect way to ensure that you’ve grabbed your audience’s attention. When you create a Lightbox for your Wix website, you can customize everything, including content, colors, fonts, layout and background images. This way, you can create a specific design to suit the holiday theme that you want to target. In addition, it’s possible to personalize the call-to-action (CTA) for your lightbox, such as a signup form to receive your sale discount or a link to your store’s sale page.

07. Write a festive blog post

Hmm… We wonder where we got this idea from? You can certainly take this article as an example for a holiday marketing blog post idea. Furthermore, not only is blogging a great practice to increase your SEO efforts, it’s also something that your customers will appreciate. If you don’t have a blog already, creating one is easy with this step-by-step blog guide. Here you can highlight anything holiday related at your company: a sale, a holiday gift or recipe guide, or a countdown of something. Then, once you’ve completed it, make sure to share your posts on your social media channels and marketing emails.

08. Wrap up your year with content

We can all learn from Spotify’s Wrapped Campaign. The music streaming platform used an algorithm to compile playlists for the top songs and artists of the past 12 months in order to ‘wrap up’ their year. You can use this awesome marketing campaign as inspiration for your business, whether it’s a list of best-selling products, the top social media posts, or other successful stats like new email subscribers and followers on Instagram. You can proudly display those results in any form you choose: an infographic, a blog post, Instagram Story, video, or Facebook post. This is one piece of content that can be promoted everywhere. It’s your time to flaunt the outcomes of your hard work and celebrate what your company has done this year.

09. Shoot a themed video

Consumers are 85% more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it. This and many other video marketing statistics explain why video content is the way of the future. If you’re scrambling to find a topic or theme to create a video about, then the holidays is the perfect excuse. Some ideas include describing a product, giving a behind-the-scenes look at your business, or ‘writing’ a blog post in video form. Just remember to make it festive 🙂

Based on the latest social media trends, it’s apparent that short videos are much more effective than their long-form counterparts. So, don’t stress about creating one longer than a minute, or even 10 seconds for that matter. You can turn to one of the many different video creation platforms to start building your mini film, like Magisto and iMovie. Once you complete your creation, save it, then share it on YouTube, Facebook, and your website. With Wix Video, you can effortlessly upload videos from YouTube or Facebook to your site, showcase them in stunning layouts, and then track their success through detailed stats.

10. Create a holiday Pinterest board

Pinterest and holiday inspiration go together like hot chocolate and marshmallows. That’s why the holiday season is one reason to create an account on the platform and start using it for the excellent benefits it provides, like growing a community, increasing brand awareness, and driving traffic to your website. Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that allows you to find and share ideas for projects. Here, users can follow accounts, brands, businesses, and boards.

Pinterest Boards are the backbone of the platform, and each one represents a different category. You can create as many as you like on any topics you like. That’s why filling a holiday-themed board is an excellent way to bring in the festivities. Use this as a chance to share anything related to your company in holiday version, from recipes to beauty products, gift guides, infographics, design inspiration, and so much more. New to Pinterest? This guide explains everything you need to know about using Pinterest for your business.

Ready to hang some lights and sprinkle fake snow all over the Internet? Create a stunning website with Wix today!

 

Jennifer Kaplan
By Jennifer Kaplan
Community Writer, Wix About the Wix Blog

9 Reasons Why Your Website Might Not be Showing Up on Google [Infographic]

Writing Is The Unicorn Skill – Uh-Huh We Knew It All Along

  • Note from Laura:  We’ve always known; writing is a master skill and much needed.  The ability to communicate, story tell, sell, divulge and engage are the ingredients of public relations, marketing, advertising and sales – not to mention management.                                                                                                              
  • When I saw this 3 MINUTE READ – from Co.Design – I knew I had to share.  We have THE UNICORN SKILL – add that to your resume and be so proud!

Forget Coding: Writing Is Design’s “Unicorn Skill”

In a new report, John Maeda explains why writing is a must-have skill for designers.

Forget Coding: Writing Is Design’s “Unicorn Skill”
[PHOTO: HERO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES]

These days many designers can code–an increasingly important skill for landing a job. But few are just as fluent in their own language as they are in Javascript. That presents a serious problem in terms of design. Users still depend on copy to interact with apps and other products. If designers don’t know how to write well, the final product–be it a physical or digital one–can suffer as a result.

In his “2017 Design in Tech Report,” John Maeda writes that “code is not the only unicorn skill.” According to Maeda, who is the head of computational design and inclusion at Automattic and former VP of design at VC firm Kleiner Perkins, words can be just as powerful as the graphics in which designers normally traffic. “A lot of times designers don’t know that words are important,” he said while presenting the report at SXSW this weekend. “I know a few designers like that–do you know these designers out there? You do know them, right?”

 Design is changing fast, and design schools risk producing students without fundamental skills needed in the industry today. Writing is one of them. After all, content is still king.

By pointing to writing as the next most important skill for designers, the report suggests a corrective to an overreliance on the interface–to the extent that writing itself has been left behind as a design skill. “A core skill of the interaction designer is imagining users (characters), motivations, actions, reactions, obstacles, successes, and a complete set of ‘what if’ scenarios,” writes designer Susan Stuart, in a blog post highlighted in the report. “These are the skills of a writer — all kinds of writers, but particularly fiction, screenwriting, and technical writing.”

Learning how to write isn’t just an important skill for the future: It’s applicable right now. Trends in digital design emphasize clean lines and few words–giving language itself more weight. “Art direction and copywriting are as fundamental to the user experience as the UI,” as Paul Woods, COO of the digital design firm Edenspiekermann,wrote here on Co.Design. “Sure, you can have a beautiful UI/frame, but once you have that (we all know a great UI is an invisible UI), all the viewer cares about is what’s inside: the artwork, the story.”

[PHOTO: ILYA PAVLOV VIA UNSPLASH]

It’s not just that designers should treat their copywriters better, as Maeda mentioned at his Design in Tech SXSW talk. As chatbots and conversational interfaces become more popular, writing becomes the vehicle for experience design–so much so that writers are being integrated into those design teams. Companies are already starting to use AI to customize language for users on a mass scale. This writing-based design could transform the very nature of UX.

“We talk about the power of words—both content and style—all the time,” writes R/GA brand designer Jennifer Vano in blog post featured in the “Design in Tech” report. “When it comes to friendships, romance, work dynamics, and, dare we even mention it—though nothing is more telling, more relevant—politics, words have the power to change our opinions, incite action, divide or unify us, move us. Words can shape reality.”

As a well-known voice in the design world, Maeda’s report will help cast light on the issue–but design schools also have a role to play, as well. The report details how design education is falling short in other areas, as well. For instance, the top three skills needed by designers in practice–data, business, and leadership skills–are not available to them in most basic coursework.

Social Media is an every day task – here is the ultimate social media checklist

Feeling swamped by the endless ‘things-to-do’ for social media?  Think of it this way… the more you do the better you do… the bigger and better the results.  So start with a little organization and things will be smoother.

TIP:  Saturday is one of the best days for getting your posts read, don’t limit them to weekdays only.

See the terrific chart on this blog?  It’s from Social Media Today, one of my go-to sites for smart advice.  Print it out and use it for a week and see the difference.

Now you can go beyond this and think bigger and better.  Like what?  Consider these additional bits of guidance:

Your starting place – do a quick communications audit.  Are your colors right?  Do your key words line up on all platforms?  Establish a benchmark number of how much engagement you are really getting… and then beat it, and elevate it and be proud of the difference this is making in sales.

Exhale, remember success of any kind does not follow a straight line, and enjoy the process.

40% of US Consumers Began Holiday Planning and Shopping YESTERDAY! And… a terrific infographic

The Importance of Holiday Marketing in October – Less Cost +More Results

According to recently published research from Adroll, marketers should definitely consider launching their holiday campaigns in October (or mid-August for PR) in order to maximize performance and response.

Instagram Connects You With Your Younger (and Future) Customer

Instagram for Business: Everything You Need to Know

Instagram is a mobile photo-sharing app and social network. It was created in 2010, and in 2012, Facebook purchased it for $1 billion. According to Instagram, more than 500 million people use it daily, and it has more than 800 million monthly active users.

Instagram is photo- and video-centric. Users can edit and post images and short videos, record Instagram stories, and go live with video. Before using Instagram for your business, here is what you should know.

Although it can be viewed on a desktop, Instagram is primarily a mobile app, so you need to download it before you can sign up for an account. Instagram is free in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store.

To sign up, you can either connect your Instagram account to Facebook or enter your email.

You will want to convert your brand’s Instagram profile to a business account to receive access to analytics and insights. To do this, you’ll need to connect the account with your business’s Facebook page by following the in-app prompts from the Switch to Business Profile option under Settings.

Once your Instagram account is created, you can go to the Profile tab and tap the Edit Your Profile button to change your name, username and profile picture, or to add a website and a short biography. To change the app’s settings, tap the gear button on the top right corner.

When you open the app, you’ll be taken to the home page. Here, you’ll see an endless stream of posts from the users you follow, sponsored posts based on your interests and your own posts, if you’ve added any.

  • Home button: This takes you to your home page or your feed.
  • Search tab: This tab helps you find interesting content and users to follow. Using the search bar, you can look for certain content, users or hashtags. If you don’t tap a category (People, Tags or Places), the app defaults to Top, which shows the most popular results for that search term. You will also see a horizontally scrolling row of photos called Trending Tags and, below that, a feed of popular posts, called Explore Posts. These features are great ways to find other people and brands whose interests align with yours, and following users with similar content may even earn you some followers.
  • Add button: With this button, you can add a new photo from your gallery, take a photo or shoot a short video.
  • Heart button: On the activity page (heart tab), you’ll see two tabs at the top of the page: Following and You. The You tab is the default; this is where you can see recent notifications showing who has followed you or liked your photos, comments other users have left on your photos or mentioned you in, and posts you’ve been tagged in. When you switch to the Following tab, you’ll see recent activity from the users you’re following – other photos they’ve liked or commented on and users they’ve followed.
  • Profile: Your Profile tab is where you can see all your posts and story highlights, edit your profile and update your settings.
  • Geotagging: Instagram allows you to add your location to your photos when you post them. Adding your location to photos displays that location above your photo in each post that has been geotagged. You can toggle your location on and off before posting an image.

To post a new photo, tap the add (camera) button on the bottom of your screen. This will open your phone’s camera, and you can either take a new photo or record a short video, or select one from your camera roll.

Upon clicking Next, you’ll be taken to a screen with multiple options, including Instagram’s filters and an Edit button, which allows you to adjust the photo by changing the brightness, contrast, structure, warmth, saturation, color, fade, highlights and shadows. You can also add a vignette or tilt-shift the picture.

Once you’ve edited the photo to your liking, click Next. Then you can write a caption to describe the picture, add a location to geotag it, tag people and share it on other social media platforms. You also have the option to turn off comments, found at the bottom of the Advanced Settings page.

Before posting public photos, business owners should consider adding hashtags to their picture for optimal exposure. If you want to change or add something after you’ve published a post, tap the ellipses (…) button on that post and select Edit to update the caption or add a location or tags. You can also share the post on other social networks or delete the post if you’re unhappy with it.

Now that you know how to create a profile and post photos, here are the different ways you can use Instagram to promote your business.

Instagram Stories are photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. At the top of the home page is a horizontal bar featuring photos of the people you follow and one for yourself. When you select the photo of yourself, it opens another screen with eight options to add to your story.

  • Normal: With the normal option, you can take a regular, still photo.
  • Live: This is for live videos.
  • Type: Type is the only option that doesn’t require a photo or video. Instead, you can choose from different background colors and fonts and type whatever is on your mind.
  • Boomerang: This option creates a GIF.
  • Superzoom: Superzoom allows you to zoom in during a video with dramatic sound effects.
  • Rewind: Rewind lets you post a video to your story that’s in reverse.
  • Hands-free: Records a video without requiring you to hold down the record button.
  • Stop motion: With this feature, you can take a long series of photos and Instagram turns the photos into a GIF.

With all options, you can draw, type and place stickers and polls on photos and videos. These features are very similar to those on Snapchat, so if you’re familiar with that platform, it should make it much easier to navigate. Instagram stories are a great way to promote a new product, give a behind-the-scenes look at your business or show a new blog post.

With Stories Highlights, you can group stories together into highlights and feature the groups on your profile below your bio. Highlights stay on your profile until you remove them. To edit or remove a highlight, just tap and hold it. Instagram also automatically saves your stories when they expire and keeps them in the Stories Archive, which is accessible on your profile.

In addition to Instagram Stories, users can take and stream live video that disappears – sort of like a combination between Facebook Live and Snapchat. You can give customers a live look behind the scenes of interesting aspects of your business, show products or answer live questions through the comments.

Once the video ends, it lives on your Instagram stories where it stays for 24 hours. If you want video that remains on your Instagram feed, you can upload video you’ve taken or shoot video directly through the app to post. If you choose to shoot or upload video, you can still add filters and change the cover. You also have the option of including sound.

There are many ways to interact with other users on Instagram. For instance, you can tag other users in your photos or privately message people.

  • Liking: Liking is a simple way to connect with other users. To like a photo, either double-tap the image or tap the heart button under the post.
  • Commenting: Next to the Like button is a Comment button – just tap it, and the app will take you to the Comments page for that photo with a text box where you can enter what you want to say and hit Post when it’s complete.
  • Mentioning: As on Twitter, you can use the @ symbol to tag other users in your Instagram comments or post captions.
  • Tagging: Instagram allows you to add tags before you post an image or video. To do so, tap the Tag People option before sharing your photo, and then tap where in the photo you’d like to add a tag. The app then prompts you to type in the person’s name to search for his or her account. Once you’ve tagged other users in your photo and shared the image, other users can tap on the photo to see the people who are tagged.
  • Direct messaging: To access Instagram Direct, go to the home page and tap the button in the top right corner. Here, you can send private instant messages, photos and videos to other users. To send a new direct message (DM), tap the + button in the top right corner, and select Send Photo or Video, or Send Message. Once you’ve sent the message, you and the recipients can message back and forth. Users who are not already following you will be asked whether they want to allow you to send them photos and videos before they can view your direct message

Using hashtags is a great way to help other users find your content on Instagram. Hashtags can include letters and numbers, but they can’t contain any non-numerical characters. For example, #DaveAndBusters works as a hashtag, but #Dave&Busters does not.

Because users can both search for hashtags and click on hashtags they see in posts in the app, using relevant hashtags can be a highly effective tool for getting noticed. However, make sure you’re using the right hashtags for your brand and don’t go overboard.

Hashtags such as #nofilter (a photo that hasn’t been heavily edited with filters), #selfie (a picture of yourself) and #tbt or #throwbackthursday (old photos) are all incredibly popular on Instagram, but they may not work for you or your brand. It’s a good idea to look at other established brands or even personal users and bloggers in your industry for examples of what to do when it comes to hashtags.

Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags in a post or comment, but using that many would be excessive. The fewer hashtags you can use to get quality responses, the better. Using a lot of popular hashtags might earn you a lot of likes from other users, but it probably won’t increase your following all that much, and the interactions you get will likely not be from people who are interested in your brand but rather those who just saw and liked your image.

Once you understand hashtags, you can branch out and experiment to find which ones work best for your brand. It’s also smart to create a custom hashtag for your business or even an event you’re hosting. This way customers can use hashtags, and it’ll be easy to find their posts as well.

Like other social channels, businesses have the option to advertise on Instagram. There are three formats for advertising:

  • Photo Ads: These look like regular photo posts, but they have a Sponsored label above the photo. They also have a Learn More button in the bottom-right corner, under the photo.
  • Video Ads: Like the photo ads, these look like regular video posts, but with a Sponsored label on top.
  • Carousel Ads: These ads look identical to photo ads but feature multiple photos that users can swipe through.

All three ad formats appear in users’ home feeds. These ads support four objectives: video views, click-throughs to your website, mobile-app installations and mass awareness.

For more information about advertising on Instagram, go here.

Not sure how you can use Instagram for your business? Try some of these cool strategies:

Show off your products or services. Take pictures of cool new products as you get them in, or share pictures of your most popular products. Or, if you run a service business, like a hair salon or a restaurant, take the time to take photos of your work.

Go behind the scenes. Take pictures and videos to show how your products or goods are made, especially if the process is unique or interesting, or something customers ask about often. This not only provides interesting content for your Instagram account, but it shows your customers and followers exactly what goes on in the background.

Include your employees. Make your brand’s Instagram page more personal by including your employees in your posts. Share pictures of your team members hard at work or having fun at company outings.

Ask your customers to show off their photos. Put your Instagram handle and custom hashtags on your products or promotional materials to encourage customers to tag you when they share photos of your product, service or work. This way, other users who want to know where it came from can find you easily. Just make sure you’re checking them out, liking them and commenting on them.

Post exclusive deals on your Instagram. Give back to your Instagram followers by offering them discounts for following you. Share an image with instructions on how to use the deal. For example, you can create a coupon code users input when purchasing something on your website. Another option is you can ask users (when they’re paying for a product or service in-person) to show that they follow you. This will make your followers feel special, and it’s likely to get them telling their friends about your business, too.

To get the most out of your Instagram account, keep these tips in mind:

Links don’t work in Instagram captions. The only place you can share a working link that actually takes users to a website is in your profile. Links don’t work in captions or photo comments, so if you’re trying to direct people to a specific web page, you can change the default link in your bio to that particular page and note in the caption that the link is on your profile.

Make sure your posts relate to your brand. It can be tempting to share photos of food, fashion and animals because they’re so popular on the platform, but if your business has nothing to do with those things, this could make your social marketing look disjointed and confuse your followers. However, if you can find a way to incorporate pictures like these while still making them relevant to your business, it could make your social marketing strategy more successful.

Run giveaways and promotions. Post an image advertising your giveaway, sale or contest, and ask users to repost that image with a specific, custom hashtag to enter. You can then search that hashtag to see who has reposted it and pick a winner. Promotions like this allow your customers and followers to market your brand for you by talking about your promotion on their personal pages, and it drives more people to visit your profile.

Respond to other users’ comments. When people comment on your photos, reply to them. Interacting with customers and followers shows that you are paying attention and that you care about whether they see your photos and what they say. They’ll be more likely to continue following you and interacting with your pictures if they feel like they matter.

Embed Instagram posts on your website. From the desktop version of Instagram, you can get an embed code to add specific images and videos to your company’s website. This can show visitors that you’re active on Instagram and help you gain more followers. Just select the photo you want to embed, click the ellipses button in the bottom right corner and select Embed. This pulls up a box with the embed code and gives you the option of whether you want to display the caption. From there, copy and paste the code where you want it to go on your website.

Use Instagram influencers to promote your business. Influencers are people who have a large following on Instagram. You can pay influencers to market your products to their followers in a natural way. These sponsored posts typically are subtle and don’t look like an ad. This is helpful because people typically hate advertisements.

If You Are Not Focusing On Women Over 50 – You Are Leaving Big $$$ On The Table

  • IF the money is controlled by woman

  • AND women over 50 have the most disposable income

  • WHY aren’t advertisers and marketers focusing on this huge and important market?

As a female marketer I have long wondered why so many brands and services are so clueless.

Look at the photos on this blog – both groups of women shop in similar ways, both groups are having fun – and both groups are either researching or purchasing online – but when you look at the photo of the older women – you should think to yourself, now they are spending money! p.s.  I had a hard time finding photos of women over 50 in any venue, and that was on paid photo sites!

Who is in the photos on your website and in your ads and posted on your social media?  If they are all men or a mix of men and young women – you are missing a huge, inclusive message – a message that says ‘you are our buyer’.  And please be sure to have diversity too!

Your company and your marketing can be the smart ones, be data driven and go where the money is!  Take a look at this research:

article: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2018/01/24/nearly-three-quarters-women-over-50-shun-all-advertising

72% of women aged 53 to 72 – dubbed ‘babyboomers’ – don’t pay attention to advertising, according to a report examining the evolving relationship between women and marketing.

Elastic Generation: The Female Edit sought the opinion of women aged 53 to 72 from the JWT London Innovation Group, in an effort to pin down an accurate depiction of this key demographic.

It found that 91% of respondents wished advertisers would treat them as people and not as stereotypes with 90% agreeing with the statement ‘I’m not going to start dressing in beige just because I’m over 50 now.’

In a similar vein 71% stated they were still a ‘kid at heart’ while 73% expressed displeasure at how their generation was patronized with regards to technology. Adding weight to these findings 81% of women polled said they did not recognise themselves in advertising supposedly targeted at their generation.

As such brands are encouraged to think beyond age as a number and get to the bottom of what really motivates their target audience while ensuring that depictions of older people in advertising are authentic – binning outdated stereotypes once and for all.

Such findings will be highly worrying for marketers given that 78% of over 50’s command the purse-strings in their households, with the age group accounting for half of all consumer spending.

More to come on this topic!

Time is $ – Here’s How To Make Your Meetings Maximize Both

At my agency we track hours, right down to the 10 minute block – it’s what’s fair for our clients and keeps us all on track.  Most days it feels good to finalize those timesheets and know you had a successful day with tasks checked off your to do list and added to the time sheet.

But if you are the owner of the agency, like I am, you can’t help but grimace at the number of hours spent in meetings and other time not billable.  It comes to at least 30% of the time spent every day in an office.  Add in holidays, sick and vacation days and other non-billable time – and it adds up!

When I saw this superb article by Jim Sullivan in Nation’s Restaurant News I knew he was hitting on all cylinders and I want to share it with you. Here are a few of his key points:

  1.  Leave an open chair at the table — this is for your customer.  Powerfully visual.
  2. End of time.  No matter what and make sure your agenda has a sense of purpose with most important items first on the agenda.
  3. Accountability and Thanks – they go together.

Here is Jim’s piece in Nation’s Restaurant News – an industry where every minute counts and ‘you can’t serve the same customer the same meal twice’.

As any employee (or spouse) will tell you, the No. 1 challenge when two or more people work together is communication. The No. 2 challenge is accountability. And since a good deal of a restaurant leader’s time is spent in meetings with team members (and vendors), perhaps the best place way to improve communication and accountability is by learning how to plan and execute more effective employee meetings.   

A restaurant leader’s work life is chockablock-full of meetings. You probably just spent the last 60 days in planning, budgetary and performance appraisal meetings. Restaurant GMs meet with their fellow managers and Area Directors weekly or monthly, and then there’s the all-important but routinely overlooked daily Pre-Shift Meetings with your hourly associates. Since we spend so much time in meetings, I thought it may be helpful to share some industry best practices for getting the most out of them.

1.     Consider the ROI first. Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you can’t get more time. And the weekly/monthly manager meeting is one of the more commonly overlooked controllable expenses a restaurant has. Consider the collective salary/wage cost of each person at the meeting, along with the expense of what’s not getting done while you’re meeting. If you had to write a personal check for your next meeting, would you still have it, or would you plan it or run it any differently? Begin manager meetings by saying something like, “Today’s meeting will collectively cost our company approximately $715 in salary in the next hour, so let’s make this investment and meeting worthwhile.”

3.     Leave an extra chair open at every sit-down meeting. Even though they aren’t present, every meeting should include a ceremonial place for customers at the table to remind us how every decision should relate to making their experience with your brand better. Amazon employee meetings have employed this visual touchstone for nearly two decades.

4.     Have a plan and stick to it. Ambiguity is the source of most conflict between managers and teams in the workplace. Strong meetings foster clarity. Planning is paramount, whether it’s a routine weekly meeting with your fellow managers or a company-wide annual conference in another state. Commence each meeting with three stated objectives that relate specifically to the quarterly goals or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you’re focusing on. Share the agenda, objectives and expectations with participants ahead of time.   

5.     Skinny the monologue, fatten the dialogue. Effective meetings are both productive and developmental. Attendees should leave feeling: “That was worthwhile and I know more now than I did before the meeting.” Structure each meeting to simultaneously inform and teach, and build discussion into each decision topic. The meeting leader should not dominate the discussion, otherwise you’re more effective sending an email.

7.     Bring and share two best practices each. The foodservice industry is a free university if you pay attention. Ask every manager to write down and share two things they learned at work since the last meeting. Compile their insights in a Key Learnings list and update it every meeting. You’ll be amazed at what great insight you’ll accumulate over the next 12 months. Share the lists with your new managers and post it on your company intranet. None of us is a smart as all of us.

8.     Determine and assign pre-shift meeting topics. One of the most important things you can do in a manager meeting is to identify what you’ll collectively focus on as a team between now and the next meeting. And the best way to do that is to agree upon and assign a specific topic to every pre-shift meeting over the next two weeks. Align the pre-shift topic to the KRAs you’re focusing on. If managers don’t give their hourly teams specific goals each day, they’ll presume you don’t have any, and then they’ll substitute their own. For a free downloadable template for planning and executing daily pre-shift meetings, visit Sullivision.com.

9.     Pursue the bright spots. Too much leadership time is devoted solely to fixing problems when just as much progress can be achieved by identifying outstanding performers and figuring out how to replicate their performance. Don’t just talk about what to fix. Discuss how to scale and replicate the innovation that team members demonstrate.

11.  Always end with energy and positivity. Thank people for their contributions. Keep the meeting upbeat throughout. Summarize key items. If you have exceptional news to share, the end is usually the best place to do it, not the beginning.  

Meetings are like elevators. They can lift you up or bring you down. Planning, purpose and productivity are the key elements of the kind of meetings that maximize efficiency and value. These are the kind of meetings we anticipate instead of dread.  

Jim Sullivan is a popular keynote and workshop speaker at restaurant leadership conferences worldwide. 

 

Panels that WOW – whether you are the organizer or a speaker

Have you ever…

…had a panel moderator who liked the sound of his own voice a little too much?

…sat through a discussion where one of the panelists hogged the stage so other panelists never got to speak?

…watched as the audience wasted time with a bunch of irrelevant questions?

A great panel moderator fixes that!  See the 28 tips below, thanks to MeetingsNet, written by Need James

accomplishment achievement adult african

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

But not all moderators are great. You need to focus on finding a moderator who will create the best experience for your audience by educating, entertaining, and interacting with them.

At your next event, implement a BDA (that’s just my way of saying before, during, and after) process, and ask your moderator to consider the following strategies:

Before the panel:

  • Create bullet points for discussion and share with the panelists.
  • Organize a conference call so the panelists can connect.
  • Get photos, social media information, and short biographies of panelists.
  • Provide three questions to panelists in advance to help them prepare.
  • Keep those questions contextual so panelists can be flexible in their responses.
  • Prepare case studies and examples you can add to complement panelist input.
  • Manage logistics: i.e., make sure everyone has water, individual microphones, and seating, and advise panelists to silence their cellphones.
  • Determine the social media strategy: What hashtag are you using? Who will manage questions that are tweeted by audience members?
  • Determine the seating and speaking order; begin with a strong panelist.

During the panel

  • Kristin Arnold, a Certified Professional Facilitator, says, “Start with something interesting to get your audience to lean in to the topic. A simple tactic is to take a poll so that you and the panelists can focus attention on what really matters to the audience.”
  • Make the first question easy, and allow the audience to get to know your panelists.
  • When asking a question, direct your attention to the panelist and then look out into the audience (that will encourage the panelist to look at the audience when they respond).
  • Advise the audience about social media guidelines and what the hashtags are.
  • Encourage the audience to share learnings from the panel on their social channels.
  • Project the panel’s contact information, social media profiles, and conference hashtag on the screen for people to easily connect and tag them.

Managing the panel

  • Keep questions contextual—don’t let panelists stray.
  • Ask them to focus all their responses to benefit the audience.
  • Shut down any sales pitches of products and services.
  • Provide a variety of good and bad examples and case studies for the audience (don’t just share good news case studies).
  • Allow the panel to talk to each other (and over each other a little, but not to be rude).
  • Allow debate, not stage hogging.

Managing the audience

  • Always repeat the question for the benefit of the audience and the panelists.
  • Ask audience members to state their name before they ask their questions.
  • Ask audience members to ask questions that the whole room will benefit from.
  • Use microphones for all questions.

After the panel

  • Share the panelists’ contact information with the audience again.
  • Encourage the audience to meet the panelists one on one.
  • Send thank you notes to the panelists.

Having just been at a conference that schedules one panel after another, the ones that prepare like recommended above are the ones that WOW the audience, and are memorable.

Whenever possible use visuals on dual screens beside the panel stage – tutor your panelists to have slides and images that can be photographed, use large type and have lots of definition.  Please no gray type and gobs of copy – remember if you are wowing the audience they’ll be using their cell phones to photograph these images and posting across the web.

Think about what you ask them to wear, seating arrangements, microphone testing, sound levels and signage – all the better for those social media posts that will amplify your message and give you reportable results!

 

Turn Those Upset Customers Around: Best Practices For Customer Service Recovery

How do Marriott employees handle angry customers?  They call it LEARN, at Starbucks it’s called LATTE (of course) … both offer excellent examples of how to respond when there is a need for effective and immediate customer service.

In the article below Micah Solomon calls it “customer service recovery’.  Whatever term is used, it’s more important than ever to resolve a customer issue before it hits social media and you have to work much harder to erase a bad image.

Turn Those Upset Customers Around:

Best Practices For Customer Service Recovery

Every business needs a framework for customer service recovery–a sequence of best practices–for those times when the situation hits the fan and the customer hits the roof.

Before I get to my recommended customer service recovery framework, let’s talk about why you need one.

First, because even in the best of times, it’s hard for most of us to improvise entirely from scratch, without a framework to guide us and to fall back upon.

Second, because a situation that calls for service recovery is far from the best of times. When things haven’t gone smoothly, and a customer is upset, you’re likely feeling embarrassed or defensive, or put-upon, or angry (or all of these, at once). With so much emotion flying around, it’s hard for even the most seasoned and equanimous customer service professionals among us to do their best.

Third, because some of our human instincts are flat-out wrong, and need to be moderated or even turned around by what has, over time, proven to work in these situations; for example, getting past the tendency of professionals, including customer service professionals, to want to decide for themselves what an appropriate solution entails, rather than taking the time to get there together with the customer.

Every great business has a framework for customer service recovery. At Starbucks (where they have an acronym for most everything, to help employees mentally walk through the steps when struggling with a situation), it’s LATTE:

Listen to the customer

Acknowledge the problem/situation

Take action and solve the problem

Thank the customer

Explain what you did

At Marriott, it’s LEARN:

Listen

Empathize

Apologize

Respond

Notify

At the triple Five Star Broadmoor resort in Colorado, it’s HEART:

Hear

Empathize

Apologize

Respond

Take Action

Follow up (Yeah, maybe this means it should be HEARTF, but that’s a lot less effective as a mnemonic.)

Any one of these time-tested sequences will stand you in good stead.  And, as you’ve probably noticed, they’re all pretty similar.

However, if you’re not already hooked on a competing system, let me brazenly offer you my own five-step AWARE™ service recovery framework, devised and refined during my time working with great companies as a customer service consultant, listening to the concerns of thousands of customers, and observing the best practices used by hundreds of customer service professionals in such situations.

If you’d like printable version of this, email me at micah@micahsolomon.com and I’m happy to hook you up. (This is an update of prior versions I’ve published in these pages and elsewhere.)

Micah’s AWARE System for Customer Service Recovery

Acknowledge

Widen

Agree

Resolve

Evaluate

Acknowledge

• Immediately stop whatever you’re doing.

• Acknowledge the situation and apologize sincerely. Even if you have no reason to think you’re at fault, you can—and should—start off by immediately apologizing for the confusion or the situation. Convey that you recognize and regret what your customer has been through.

Note: If this situation calls for a larger apology (by which I mean that the customer feels it calls for such an apology, whether or not you think it does), make it a real apology, not a fake “I’m sorry if you feel that way.” The key to an effective apology, to getting back on the right foot with your customer, is to convey from the very outset that you are going to take the customer’s side and share the customer’s viewpoint.

• Don’t interrupt with questions or explanations.

• Learn more about the situation by probing for what the customer is specifically upset about; encourage and assist the customer in explaining what’s gone wrong from the customer’s point of

• Widen your viewpoint to be open to the “other side” or a different/unexpected side of the situation: a viewpoint that is not only different than yours, but may be one that you had never thought of in this context before.

• Include your customer in the process of developing a solution that works for them (and is something that is possible for you).

Note: You may, in the course of this widening step, discover that the customer is entirely mistaken in their assumptions about the cause of the situation, but under no circumstances—other than safety- or health-related misunderstandings—should you baldly say that the customer is wrong.

Agree

• Assure your customer that you take their concerns seriously, and that you will personally and immediately take definitive action.

• Spell out the agreed-on solution to your customer, as you understand it.

• Commit to exactly what you will do to resolve the issue, and by when.

Repair

• Take care of the issue as promised.

• Follow up with anyone you assigned it to.

• Follow up with the customer to ensure all is well.

Evaluate

• Document the error in two separate places, both of them important:

a) the customer’s profile

b) your company’s QC (quality control) system.

• Examine the error with an eye toward identifying systemic issues and choke points (for example, repeated complaints of long lines on Tuesdays).

• Strive to learn from the error and, where appropriate, to make it a part of staff training and systems.

Reprinted in its entirety with permission from Micah Solomon.

SUPER Influencers A Key To Super-Success

Influencer marketing is without a doubt a trending area for marketers and public relations professionals.

In retail, travel and entertainment, savvy marketers are connecting with people who have a great number of followers — and influence — and compensating them with cash, gifts or an experience, such as a stay in a resort or a cameo in a show.

The idea of connecting with the right people and working those relationships is both a refreshing and seemingly simple approach. However, how does influencer marketing apply to complex selling environments, such as within regulated industries (financial or healthcare, for example) or with enterprise software sales?

Without exception, a pithy Instagram post or a Tweet from an influencer is not going to have a meaningful impact on shortening long sales cycles or getting a chief security officer (CSO) to narrow solutions they’re considering for their global operations. In my experience, there are, however, people and organizations that have pull with buyers and industry organizations that are worth investing in relationships with.

This article comes with thanks to Forbes and Scott Mills, a member of the Forbes Agency Council.  

 Your team’s success is made easier with positive relationships with outside influencers.

To use the financial industry for illustration, which is one I’m quite familiar with, reaching and persuading bankers to buy into new concepts, strategies and solutions is without a doubt a difficult assignment. When selling something that represents a sizeable investment for the financial organization, it is likely that the company has to accomplish several things. It must:

1. Sell the business-side leader (head of retail banking).

2. Satisfy a host of people involved in the decision, which may include the board of directors, IT department and procurement.

3. Assure the bankers they will remain in compliance (not run afoul of regulators).

4. Demonstrate that your company is financially stable enough to satisfy the client.

For technology sellers, companies are also faced with demonstrating integration with at least one other existing critical system, such as a “core” platform and demonstrating that the company is operationally mature and disciplined enough to handle the prospect’s business.

Marketing to everyone within a bank who needs to buy — or at least sign off on — the agreement requires a highly coordinated effort. It is made easier by reaching third parties who have influence with the prospect and the industry as a whole.

Who are the super-influencers?

Super-influencers are people who advise or provide services to your prospects. They are trusted industry authorities or other vendors that are already serving the bank. Some examples of super-influencers include:

• Attorneys who advise bank boards.

• Accountants who serve the risk committee and CFO.

• Consultants hired to manage a transition or guide strategy.

• Executives of industry associations who drive education and governmental affairs.

• Industry analysts covering specific operational areas.

• Regulators who advise what changes would be acceptable to them.

• Key vendors that are already entrenched in the bank.

• Media who drive conference agendas and what topics are elevated within their channels.

While media is often the target for public relations outreach, trade media is frequently made up of industry experts in their own right. These people deserve an intelligent approach to building relationships.

Super influencers typically have the power to sway a decision. As such, super-influencer marketing is a programmatic approach to identify them, reach out and build relationships.

A super influencer’s value is based on their reputation.

Just as you expect a trusted friend or mentor to provide sound counsel, so do those who turn to their accountants, attorneys and key executives for professional services. As such, these super influencers continue to invest in their development and understanding of forces shaping their industries. Doctors read about new treatments. Researchers seek answers to challenging questions. And educators study, write and publish to broaden their understanding and to influence others. This quest for knowledge is the basis for connecting with super influencers. So is the story you want to deliver. When determining the story, consider the following:

• How are you changing the industry?

• Is there an example of a client company that is achieving outstanding results?

• Are you applying lessons from another industry?

• Do you have research that suggests a shift in the market?

• Is your solution reducing risk? If so, what kind?

Regardless of the channel or communications tactics, the underlying strategy for reaching super influencers has to be based on appealing to their curiosity, helping them broaden their understanding of their industry and doing a better job for their customers and business community.

Many super influencers are paid to recommend the right solution or company or provide an informed opinion or guidance. Consider the people and organizations you know with strong reputations — protecting their reputation drives their actions and decisions. The bottom line is that tactics found in retail or entertainment influencer marketing programs do not translate well to business-to-business (B2B) super influencers because they do not trade their reputation for short-term profits or trivial gifts.

In broad strokes, utilizing super-influencer marketing requires you to build and prioritize audiences, determine what assets or content you’ll need for them and continually foster mutually beneficial relationships.

So, what is fair game for leveraging these relationships?

While some relationships can be based on information sharing or leads, others can provide opportunities to work together on projects that would reflect well on both parties. For example, an attorney and PR practitioner could collaborate on articles about crisis planning and responses. An accountant and consulting firm might create webinars that address operational risks associated with new regulations. And two complementary software companies might create co-branded educational materials about transforming a segment of the industry.

If you are a B2B marketer operating within a complex environment or regulated industry, you know there are no shortcuts. Embrace the complicated and practice these super-influencer marketing tactics — together they represent your competitive advantage.

Note from Bennett – there is a fine line between paying someone to support your PR campaign, and finding mutual benefits with no payment.  This is not a new trend as celebrity endorsements have been around as long as we’ve had speech – an outstanding tool, maybe even SUPER if used with intelligence and as one portion of a well-considered campaign.

Smarketing – Finally!

When you saw “smarketing” did you think: 

“oh yes that is a combination of Smart and Marketing”. 

Or did you immediately know it was a combination of Sales and Marketing?

Let’s just say we finally have a term for Smart Marketers Who Are The Crucial Element In Sales!

Here’s the article from Forbes, (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2017/09/26/why-b2b-companies-need-to-embrace-a-smarketing-approach/#6dcaeeef42db) and see what you think.

We all know that marketing and sales are rarely aligned, right? I can see your heads nodding in agreement now. In fact, you don’t have to spend more than two minutes on Google to find numerous articles written about the cost of sales and marketing misalignment to businesses.

Factor in the new interest surrounding account-based marketing and you quickly realize that, despite entrenched thinking that marketing and sales will forever be at odds, it’s time to consider that we might need to find a way to align them.

According to Grad Conn in Adweek, “the relationship with the prospect is [now] based on value—through relevant content or through tailored experiences which have value to the prospect. It’s a ‘give/get’ model, with the seller making the first value move. This pay-it-forward approach to sales is anathema to the cold-calling Glengarry Glen Ross-style selling of the past.”

 It has become clear that sales and marketing alignment is necessary today, particularly for business-to-business (B2B) enterprises.

We live in a post-consumer world.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) but also B2B companies have to compete on the value they offer in our post-consumer world — a world in which there are more products and services than there are people and companies to buy them. That’s why value, not false promises or merely good-enough products and services, is what will ultimately sell consumers on your goods.

What do companies need to do to communicate value from the first touch to the last? At my company, we call it “smarketing” (sales + marketing): the combined and aligned effort of marketing and sales to communicate the value of any product or service from the first touch to the last. Smarketing is the idea of marketing and sales working together so closely that it merits a new word. It is the antithesis of the standard and assumed misalignment between marketing and sales.

It’s time to kill the trope.

Companies can no longer afford to tolerate the push and pull between marketing and sales. Gone are the days of marketing bringing in leads with clever headlines and unverified promises and then throwing them over the wall to sales. Cutting through the noise to grab the attention of and engage with prospects is too expensive for marketing to neglect after sending them to sales.

Add fierce competition to the hard reality that marketing must touch a prospect 13+ times to achieve engagement, and you’ll suddenly be willing to kill the trope that marketing and sales never see eye to eye, let alone work together.

Do You Know Your Lemons? … and other #creative hashtag campaigns

Thank you Sprout Social for this well written article about engaging your customers through creative hashtag campaigns. #lovethis!

The hashtag frenzy has been an important element in the rise of social media. It’s hard to achieve true brand awareness without at least one or two hashtags in your repertoire.

Not only does the right hashtag help you to connect with targeted audiences on social media, but a branded hashtag can also help give life to your digital identity, providing additional reach, impact and personality.

With approximately 81% of Americans using social media in 2018, companies can’t afford to overlook one of the most important resources in social.

But it’s not always as easy as it looks to craft, create and strategize your hashtag campaign. But don’t worry–we have you covered. To help inspire you for your next hashtag campaign, let’s look at eight creative campaigns in the last year or so:

1. #KnowYourLemons: Worldwide Breast Cancer

Often the best branded campaigns on social media are those with an important and meaningful purpose. In 2017, the Worldwide Breast Cancer organization launched its hashtag campaign #KnowYourLemons to convince women to check their breasts for signs of cancer more frequently.

The catchy concept went viral almost instantly. It was a fun and interesting way to give women the important information they needed to spot the lesser-known symptoms of cancer. The charity launched its own Facebook member’s page where people could take part in conversations about the subject. This extra step made the experience more engaging for everyone involved.

#KnowYourLemons Infographic

What We Loved About It:

The creativity in this hashtag campaign was a fantastic way to raise awareness for an important cause. However, the most exciting element of the strategy was that it made crucial information accessible to everyone. You didn’t need a doctorate or a high literacy level to learn more about breast cancer.

Using a light-hearted concept to convey a message about a serious subject, the Worldwide Breast Cancer group exceeded their Just Giving fundraising target by 317%.

2. #TeamVisa: Visa

At the beginning of 2018, Visa jumped on the Olympic fever bandwagon for the winter games. Since 2000, Visa has earned a reputation for accepting athletes around the globe into its “Team Visa” program. The program provides people with the resources they need to achieve their sporting ambitions. Ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Visa launched a special campaign to demonstrate how athletes can get involved with #TeamVisa.

The great thing about Visa’s campaign is that it takes advantage of a trending topic to draw attention to an existing product. The company teamed up with influencers who were sure to get plenty of attention around the winter games. Everyone from Billy Morgan to Elise Christie got involved.

3. #BrandBowl: Twitter

While there are 330 million monthly active users on Twitter, some experts suggest this social media platform isn’t seeing as much growth as its competitors. Fortunately, the channel decided to tackle this problem with a hashtag campaign of their own at the beginning of 2018.

Twitter announced at the end of January they would launch their #BrandBowl campaign alongside the Super Bowl. This was perfect timing to be involved with one of the most talked-about events on social media. The #BrandBowl campaign was a social contest designed to award companies for different achievements, like:

  • The brand with the highest number of tweets
  • The brand with the highest tweet per minute score
  • The brand with the most retweets

View image on Twitter

What We Loved About It:

To help improve engagement, Twitter combined the excitement of a social media contest with the appeal of an important trending topic. #BrandBowl gamified the concept of talking about companies, to ensure that everyone was chatting on Twitter during one of the most important sporting events of the year.

4. #ORIGINALis: Adidas

2017 was a highly successful year for Adidas. The company managed to cement its position as both a fashion icon and thought leader with its #ORIGINALis hashtag campaign. The promotion centered around the new Adidas Originals line, and asked people to re-think the concept of being unique.

Adidas partnered with some of the biggest names in the hip-hop world, including Stormzy, Snoop Dogg and ASAP Ferg to promote their new lineup. The brand even created a video to help link its products back to the idea of hip-hop culture.

What We Loved About It:

The first thing that makes the #ORIGINALis hashtag campaign so effective is it’s targeted appeal to Adidas fans. On top of that, in a world where influencer marketing is one of the best ways to generate trust for a company, Adidas managed to partner with some of the most influential figures in the hip-hop environment.

Overall, Adidas just goes to show that the best brand hashtags can help to establish credibility for a company and elevate its position in any marketplace.

5. #WeAccept: Airbnb

Sometimes the best brand hashtags are the simplest. And that’s certainly the case with Airbnb’s campaign from 2017 revolving around the hashtag #WeAccept. This popular branded hashtag was a great way for the travel giant to share the universal nature of their company while showing their support for a crucial ethical issue.

The campaign began with an inspirational video posted on the Airbnb branded social media feed. It continued with a selection of emotional photos delivered by people from different backgrounds and places around the world.

What We Loved About It:

It’s not always easy to produce an effective political campaign. This is particularly true on social media where everyone has an opinion that they’re ready to share. Fortunately, this hashtag campaign saw an incredible response, with hundreds of thousands of supportive likes and comments.

The theme of acceptance helped Airbnb to present themselves as a more approachable and authentic company on social media.

6. #WhatsInYourBag: RYU

People don’t just visit social media for information and news. We also use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to add a little bit of fun into our lives! That’s why building an Instagram hashtag campaign around a giveaway or competition can be such a great idea for building engagement. Ryu did this with #WhatsInYourBag campaign.

Ryu’s campaign was a great example of a social photo contest that leveraged the trend of Instagram Stories to increase their follower count to well over 20,000.

What We Loved About It:

Hashtag campaigns with gamified elements like competitions or giveaways are a great way to build engagement for a company and encourage your customers to share user-generated content on your behalf. Ryu’s branded hashtag prompted people to share more photos in relation to the brand. This instantly expanded awareness for the company and helped to add a little fun to their identity.

7. #TrippinWithTarte: Tarte Cosmetics

It seems like everyone is investing in the power of influencer marketing lately and Tarte Cosmetics are no exception. In 2017, the company flew a gang of fitness and makeup influencers to an island off the coast of Australia and followed up with them with plenty of Instagram-able excursions like candlelit dinners, yoga, hikes and more.

The hashtag #TrippinWithTarte also encouraged followers of the makeup brand to get involved with their own outdoor experiences, sharing photos that highlighted the versatile nature of the company.

What We Loved About It:

Not only did this creative campaign give Tarte Cosmetics plenty of great content to share on social, it also presented a great opportunity to reach out to new audiences. The influencers were all picked carefully based on their follower count and industry niche, meaning that Tarte could connect with thousands of new users within a matter of weeks!

8. #OpenYourWorld: Heineken

During 2017, Heineken decided to follow the trend of using social media to shed a light on important social concepts by conducting their very own experiment. The beer company used #OpenYourWorld to see how easy it was for people with opposite social and political views to accept each other when they went through a series of team-building activities together.

When everyone at the end of the experience shared their political or social views with the other, Heineken offered them the opportunity to share a beer and discuss their differences–something they all chose to accept.

What We Loved About It:

The #OpenYourWorld hashtag campaign addressed a meaningful concept in a new and heartwarming way. The first video achieved around 3 million views within the first week of its launch and around 50,000 shares in its first month too.

Heineken shows how addressing an important idea with your social media campaign can help to get people talking about your brand and strengthen new relationships.

 SproutSocial.com is one of my go-to resources for smart writing and great ideas – consider adding them to your must-read list too.

Then the assistant asked “what’s your favorite vegetable?”

https://www.fastcompany.com/40465774/10-questions-for-getting-to-know-your-direct-reports-faster?utm_source=postup&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Fast%20Company%20Daily&position=8&partner=newsletter&campaign_date=09182017

The other day my hairdresser’s new assistant asked me what my favorite vegetable was.  I thought she was asking in some context related to hair, but she told me she had a series of questions she was using to open conversations with the salon’s customers and thus improve her communication skills too.  That was a first, and it worked as we went on to talk about other topics and got to know one another.

The link above will take you to a Fast Company piece on using 10 questions you can use to get to know your team better… you might even learn they love artichokes!

When you hire a new team or inherit someone else’s, your first instinct as a manager might be to assess the situation for the best way to move forward–and fast. But if you aren’t careful, you’ll create more problems than solutions for you and your new team. Before you start diagnosing your team’s challenges and look for ways to improve, it’s crucial to take a step back and get to know your new direct reports.

The key is to learn how to support your team in the most effective way for them, not just for you. To do that, you have to listen first, diagnose second. Just as in relationships outside the workplace, the better you get to know someone, the better you can collaborate. That takes time, but there’s one way to jump-start the process: These 10 questions can help you quickly take the pulse on your new team members and their hopes for you as a manager.

1. WHAT ARE SOME FEATURES OF YOUR BEST WORKING RELATIONSHIPS WITH PREVIOUS MANAGERS?

Knowing what qualities your team admires in a manager can help you quickly adjust your style for each direct report. You may learn that they crave autonomy, or that they prefer more active support. This can help you graduate from instinctively providing the management support you prefer to intentionally providing the management support they prefer.

Plus, asking your team to describe traits they’ve admired in previous managers–rather than in the abstract–also ensures their answers are grounded in specific, real experiences, which may prove more actionable for you.

2. WHAT ARE SOME FEATURES OF YOUR WORST WORKING RELATIONSHIPS WITH PREVIOUS MANAGERS?

Learning about the bad side of your team’s past management experiences can be just as instructive as hearing what worked. Whatever created friction with previous managers is usually something to avoid, adjust to, or just keep an eye out for. And because it’s sometimes harder to articulate positive feedback than negative feedback, you may find you learn a lot more by asking this question than you do by asking about positive qualities (even though both are important).

3. HOW TRANSPARENT DO YOU PREFER MANAGERS TO BE?

Some teams prefer the full play-by-play as it happens. Others would rather skip the details and just be kept in the loop only as necessary. While some teammates love to follow every step of whatever changes might be happening, others find that distracting and even demoralizing. As a leader, you’ll be privy to information others won’t be. So finding out what level of transparency your team expects from you is an important factor in how, what, and when you communicate to your team.


4. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO USE OUR ONE-ON-ONE TIME?

Every one-on-one meeting is different. While one team member may come to you with a list of updates and specific actions they need you to take, others may use the time to brainstorm solutions to a certain problem, while still others may arrive with no agenda at all. You can certainly find out your team members’ preferences by experience, but asking this question up front encourages them to think more intentionally about your time together, and how you can best support them.

5. HOW DO YOU LIKE TO RECEIVE PRAISE?

You expect your team to do great work–so how do they like to be celebrated when they do? Here, too, everyone you manage will be different. Where one person might love public recognition, another may cringe in the spotlight and prefer one-on-one or even written praise. Check in with them early on to avoid inadvertently embarrassing your direct reports.


 

6. HOW DO YOU LIKE TO RECEIVE CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK?

Feedback is essential to your direct reports’ growth, and it’s your job to help them improve in big ways and small. But depending on the person, feedback can be something they dread or something they hunger for. It may be something they prefer to hear in real time, or something they’d rather get after the fact so there’s time to reflect on it. There are many ways to deliver critical feedback. If you’re not sure what the best approach is for your direct reports, just ask.

7. ANYTHING I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOUR WORKING STYLE?

Working styles are highly individualized. Some people prefer meetings in the afternoons and thinking time in the morning. Others value getting home early enough to put their kids to bed. Where one direct report may crave structure, another may seek opportunity in chaos. What does it take for your team to do their best work? Ask your direct reports to self-reflect so you can identify what it takes to help them feel happy and productive.

8. WHAT EXPERIENCES MAKE YOU HAPPY AT WORK?

Which environments, situations, or projects get your team riled up? Do they enjoy projects that draw notice from elsewhere in the organization, or would they rather focus on work that makes an impact outside of the spotlight? Do they prefer to collaborate, or to keep their heads down to get the job done? Knowing these preferences early on helps you figure out which projects, staffing, meetings, or even desk areas best align with the types of things that make your direct reports happiest at work.

9. WHAT EXPERIENCES MAKE YOU STRESSED OR FRUSTRATED AT WORK?

On the flip side, what drains them? What makes one person jazzed can cause serious stress for another. For instance, too much socializing can be challenging for more introverted types on your team; too much solo work can make your more extroverted direct reports feel isolated. Knowing what triggers stress in the people you manage can help you avoid potentially frustrating scenarios before things get out of hand.

10. WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU’RE HOPING I CAN HELP WITH?

As a leader, you may have a mental list of your strengths and be ready to share them with your team. But the strengths you see in yourself may be different from the strengths your direct reports see in you–or the ones they need from you.

For instance, if relationship-building comes naturally to you, you may take it for granted (“that’s just who I am”)–but someone on your team may see and admire that quality in you, and hope to learn from you in that area. On the other hand, if you know you’re a strong presenter, you might be inclined to teach others that skill, too, when unbeknownst to you, what they really want your help in is running more effective meetings and setting better agendas. Asking this question helps you understand the delta between the help you’re preparing to offer and the help your team members are hoping to gain.

Needless to say, while these questions can be helpful, they’re just a humble start to getting to know your team. They’re not enough to replace your long-term efforts to build strong relationships with the people you manage. That takes time, but with this 10-question “intake form,” so to speak, you can get a running start on a process that might take other managers weeks or even months to begin.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ximena Vengoechea is a design researcher, writer, and illustrator whose work on personal and professional development has been published in Inc., Newsweek, and the Huffington Post. She currently works at Pinterest as a qualitative researcher.

I’d really like to ask Zimena about her job at Pinterest, perhaps that will be a future column … enjoy your day, and eat your vegetables!

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