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Top Marketing Trends to Look for – and Master – in 2017

Business People Working with Technology

In 2016, the trends in content and digital marketing made great advancements. Changes in technology, social media platforms and content promotion styles were just a few of the things at the top of marketers’ minds. Moving into 2017, those trends will continue to grow and gain importance, but the new year will bring its own important trends. As millennials infiltrate the workforce and technology is ever changing, so are the marketing trends that are meant to keep up with it.

Here are some notable trends coming to the forefront in 2017 and why you’ll want to master them:

1.      Digital Content

Today, digital is everything. People go to the Internet to seek information they need on products, brands, companies and more. As marketers, we can put this information in the palm of our audience’s hands with exciting and informational content such as white papers, technical bulletins, newsletters, e-books, videos, case studies, infographics and so much more. In 2017, mastering the use of highly engaging and relevant online content is bound to increase your website visits, ROI and more. Continuing to develop these skills will pay off in the coming year.

2.      Cross-Device Marketing

The average consumer is connected through up to five devices – smartphones, tablets and desktop computers to name a few. Marketing across several devices is necessary, but it can be challenging. You need to enable data alignment and tracking capabilities, such as Google AdWords and Analytics, to make sure you’re recognizing your repeat consumers, tracking their actions across different devices, and developing personalized ways to reach them.

3.      Native Advertising

Users don’t want their sessions interrupted online, so native advertising gives marketers the chance to offer information in a format similar to the content on the site the consumer is using. Users are more likely to engage with this type of advertisement than they would with a banner ad that may come across as overbearing or out of place. These ads will help brands connect with their audience in an authentic manner, while continuing to boost their ad revenue.

4.      Live Video Streaming

It is essential for companies to present authentic, engaging content online 24-7. Marketers need to find new ways to engage their audience and keep their attention. Video marketing has taken many successful forms in the past – testimonials, webinars and Instagram videos. Now live streaming is starting to take over. Platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Periscope are making live videos the standard in their offerings, and brands need to take advantage of it. According to a survey from the Web Video Marketing Council, 73 percent of marketing professionals said video has positively influenced their marketing results, and we can only imagine this increasing with developments in live streaming. People are becoming increasingly attracted to live stream videos because they give them the chance to get an inside, unedited look into a brand or company that they may not have gotten on traditional platforms elsewhere.

Times and trends are always changing, but we all need to keep up with the changes to keep moving forward. Follow these helpful tips and you’ll be on your way to a successful marketing year in 2017.

Need help planning for the 2017 year? Contact the team at GREENCREST for all of your marketing, public relations, web design and social media needs.

 

The Secret to Creating Direct Mail Content That Works

newspaper-reading

Direct mail is meant to capture the reader’s attention, quickly get to the point and share important information. As a marketer, you don’t want to take too long to get to the “meat” of your content, otherwise you will lose the readers’ interest. A good direct mail piece creates excitement, interest, questions and pictures in your readers’ minds.

Follow these steps to learn how to create the most effective direct mail content that’s sure to spark the interest of your readers:

Readability

Making the content clear and easy to follow is the No. 1 rule when creating direct mail. Make sure your focus point is obvious and up front. People generally tend to “glance over” sales and marketing pieces, so if your message is clear, concise, and upfront, you’re more likely to keep the reader’s attention.

 

Tips for enhanced readability:

  • Use bullet points
  • Keep paragraphs and sentences short
  • Use intriguing headings and subheadings to help guide readers
  • Repeat the main point in different ways to help the message sink in

 

Strategic Angle

Find a clever way to present the information to help your piece stand out from others. Simply stating that you could save money with new software isn’t enough. Give exact figures or successes letting the reader know just how much they could save. Find a “hook” that will grab their attention and keep them reading to learn more about it.

 

Tell a Story

Storytelling can be a sure-fire way to capture (and keep) the interest of people that are reading your direct mail piece. You want to lead them through the piece so they can easily and clearly follow your message, pick out the main points, and find a way to relate to the end result. Include content that sets your product or service apart from others and why — whether it’s all of the amazing benefits, its point of distinction, or how it will solve the readers’ problems. The goal is to instill a need or desire and to have readers apply it as the solution in their own situations.

 

After creating your direct mail content, ask yourself:

  • Is it interesting?
  • Is it easy to read?
  • Is there a story or angle that your readers can relate to?

If so, you are on your way to presenting content that is sure to drive interest and help generate leads or sales!

Not sure if your direct mail content is up to par? Contact the experienced team at GREENCREST, and we can help create content that actually works.

 

Marketing to Millennials – Everything You Need to Know

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Millennials are the generation of the future, and therefore tend to be some of today’s biggest decision makers. In marketing, whether you’re trying to promote a new brand or product, bring awareness to your newest startup or influence consumers’ purchase decisions, it’s important to do so in a way that is best received by your desired audience. If your audience happens to be the millennial generation, however, this can be a little tricky. You’re likely going to have to do more than just inform them about product benefits or store discounts; you need to get them excited.

Traditional marketing methods are a thing of the past to this generation. Millennials desire fun, new, exciting technologies and marketing platforms (it makes them feel “ahead of the curve”), so marketers like yourself have to work harder and smarter to make authentic connections through these platforms.

Below is a list of some of the newest, interactive platforms you should master to best reach millennials:

Snapchat

Snapchat allows individuals to take photos, customize them with text or filters and share them with the world – or whichever part of the world they want. The photos or videos have a lifespan of just a few seconds, and then they are gone forever. “Stories” is a newer feature that allows users to keep up with the rest of the world, but it’s also an opportunity for advertisers to reach specific markets.

Whether you’re hosting an event to launch your startup, or you want to promote your new product line, Snapchat stories give you the chance to give users an inside look into your brand that they may not have known of or seen from traditional advertising. It’s much more exciting to see other millennials out at an event supporting a new company or product launch in real time than it is to read a newspaper article that recaps what went on three days earlier.

Periscope

Similar to Snapchat, Periscope is another rising social media platform that gives people the chance to look directly into the lives of others in real time. The app gives users an up-close and personal look into your brand by providing them with live streaming of events, broadcasts, Q&As and more.

Millennials love having what feels like unlimited access to everything and anything happening in the world, and Periscope promotes this notion with its easy access to thousands of people, companies and locations. If you want your brand to stand out in the crowd, hosting frequent talks and events on Periscope is sure to help!

YouTube

Increasingly, YouTubers are becoming the new A-list celebrities to teen and millennial generations. To this generation, YouTube stars seem more relatable; they aren’t movie stars being paid to endorse companies and brands. The “human” factor makes these individuals and their posts much more relatable to the everyday person. However, while the individual may not be the one endorsing a brand or product, their YouTube channel can be. For advertisers, posting your content on related YouTube channels is a great way to catch the attention of these young viewers.

For example, if you work for a hardware company and have a new brand of tools that you’ll be carrying, you can advertise on a YouTube channel of an individual who posts do-it-yourself home repairs. His/her viewers will click one of the videos to see how to hang Halloween decorations, but see your ad for the new tool kits you have before the video starts. While this isn’t as interactive as Snapchat or Periscope would be, you’re still reaching millennials in their environment, which means you’re more likely to make a lasting impression than if you just threw your ad in the next publication of Better Homes & Garden Magazine.

Of course, technology and social media are bound to endlessly change and advance, which means marketing strategies will too. Make it your goal to keep up on the latest social media and technology trends, and you’re bound to come up with some great ways to reach the millennial generation. Just remember to be unique, be creative and – most importantly – be human.

If you want to learn more about reaching your audience through these platforms, contact the social media and marketing experts at GREENCREST to get the answers!

The Biggest Content Marketing Trends of 2017

 

online marketing

The new year is just five months away, and with it comes new content marketing trends and opportunities. In order for your business to achieve success in 2017, it is important to start planning early.

Here are some of the upcoming content marketing trends of 2017 you should consider incorporating into your marketing plan:

Getting Personal

Content should speak to specific personas and focus on groups of people with similar interests in order to provide value to the recipients. Study your audience and make sure that the content you’re developing is as relatable as possible. This will keep readers more engaged and interested in not only the content, but your brand or business as a whole.

Interactive Content

Create content that is interactive and engaging to keep your readers following along. Provide users with additional, relevant links or clips based on the information they’re already interacting with.

Mobile is a Must

In 2017, the option of mobile advertising will be anything but an option. If you want your business or brand to stand out in the constant clutter of content marketing, you have to be accessible via mobile device. A Smart Insights study found that more than 80% of people use smartphones to search the Internet, meaning your content needs to be compatible with users’ devices if you want to keep their attention.

Mastering New Platforms

When it comes to B2C marketing, social media platforms like Snapchat and Periscope will rise to the top in 2017 as the go-to way to reach the younger audience on a personal level. With real-time posting options, the platforms give marketers the opportunity to humanize their brand and give an inside look at aspects of the company that normally would go unseen.

 

Technology, people and trends change every day. This constant evolution makes it hard for marketers to keep their brand top-of-mind. However, with these tips and insights into what we can expect in the coming year, you have just enough time to master the trends and be successful in 2017!

Need help preparing for the upcoming year? Let us help you create the right plan and content for your business! Contact the GREENCREST experts today!

 

5 Marketing Myths that Cost Companies Customers and Sales

 

website design and development

 

There are dangerous marketing myths that are currently holding companies back from increased profits. The truth is, good marketing is integrated and includes a blend of social media, brand development, advertising, public relations, and website and search engine optimization (SEO).

Many companies are still struggling to incorporate essential aspects of digital marketing into their business plans — such as social media and mobile marketing — because they think it is too expensive or they don’t need it. However, with the continuous growth of e-commerce and social media, companies can’t afford not to invest in marketing.

 

Let’s take a look at the five most common marketing myths and how to overcome them.

 

1. “I have a small budget and I can’t afford marketing”

Some companies don’t want to invest in marketing because they don’t see the value. However, a solid marketing plan can help boost awareness, improve sales and help a company gain more customers. Marketing is an investment, not a one-time purchase.

 

2. “I already have a marketing plan”

 While companies may have a marketing plan, it is often incomplete. The best marketing plans encompass an integrated approach — such as print advertising, public relations and trade shows — and digital media — such as social media, website/SEO and mobile marketing.

A comprehensive marketing strategy evaluates the worth of various marketing tactics and implements the best traditional and digital media options for a company and its budget.

 

3. “My business is doing well, so I don’t need to invest in marketing”

While business may be doing well, that can change in an instant. No new business pipeline can mean you’re out of business if a customer has to cut their budget or chooses to go in a new direction.

Marketing is a great tool to engage with customers, nurture prospects, generate leads and boost sales. Positive interaction with clients will help them remember your company and create a lasting relationship. And, nurturing inactive clients can encourage them come back to you.

 

4.  “We already advertise, so we don’t need marketing”

Advertising is an important part of an overall marketing strategy, but it’s not the only part. Various tactics contribute to a successful marketing plan, not just advertising.

It can be difficult to select which marketing strategies to implement, but it’s important to evaluate which will work best for your company.

 

5. “Social media is a waste of time for my business”

Not being on social media is a lost opportunity—it decreases your business’s online credibility in the eye of the consumer. In fact, many customers, especially the millennial generation, research a company and their social media sites before making a purchasing decision.

While every social media outlet isn’t the best option for all companies, it is important to research the target audience. Social media allows companies to interact with clients and build meaningful relationships that can greatly impact customer purchasing decisions, thus affecting the bottom line.

 

We can help!

If you’re not sure where to start, GREENCREST can help. GREENCREST specializes in traditional and digital marketing strategies. We can help your organization navigate the marketing world and create a solid, integrated marketing strategy. Speak with a marketing expert today!

 

7 Tips to Enhance Your Lead Generation Marketing Efforts

Above view of several business people planning work at round table

 

Finding new customers is the lifeblood of most businesses. Few of us have customers lining up at the door, so “hunting” for new customer leads is a critical component of generating revenue. Yet, according to a research report by BPM Forum, most companies never follow up on 80 percent of the leads they generate.

With some strategic efforts, you can ensure that valuable lead generation efforts are not wasted at your company:

  1. Use the Right Marketing Tool — Make certain you’re using lead generation tactics, if you’re trying to generate leads. Marketing tactics such as email, direct mail, trade shows and pay-per-click ads are designed primarily to generate leads. Other marketing tactics, such as print ads, public relations, and social media, are better at creating buzz and brand awareness. Make sure you are using the right tool for the right job.
  2. Map Your Lead Process — Marketing is expensive and you don’t want to waste precious dollars on leads that fall through the crack. Create a written procedure that maps exactly what happens to every lead the moment it enters your database.
  3. Track and Measure — Measuring and counting leads is one of the easiest metrics in the marketing tool bag, as is tracking which marketing tactic does the best job of generating the best leads. Metrics like cost-per-lead are a good start, but lead-to-sale ratio is even better, because with a little effort you should be able to track a lead all the way to a sale.
  4. Define a Good Lead versus a So-So Lead — Work with your sales and marketing teams to describe the ideal customer in terms of demographics, job title, and job function. But don’t stop there; dig deeper to identify the customer’s needs, desires, and concerns. Armed with this information, you can tailor your messaging to the customer’s specific needs.
  5. Develop a Lead Scoring System — Once you’ve defined a good lead, develop a lead scoring system based on demographics, as well as actions the customer takes. Visiting your website, stopping by your trade show booth, attending a webinar, or downloading a white paper from your web site, for example, can all increase the lead score assigned to a potential customer. The higher the score, the more likely the customer is to make a purchase.
  6. Keep Trying — Don’t throw away a lead just because they say “no” the first time. Send the lead back to the marketing team, so it can be nurtured until the lead is ready to re-engage with the sales team.
  7. Marketing and Sales Alignment — Make sure the sales and marketing teams are on the same page when it comes to leads. The marketing team should keep nurturing leads until the lead achieves a certain score in your lead scoring system. At that point, the lead is ready to be turned over to sales. Both teams need to agree and align on this process.

Taking these simple steps will improve your efforts to attract new customers. They also will help you properly vet each valuable lead before turning it over to your sales team. More importantly, you’ll be able to determine which of your lead-generation marketing tactics performs the best, and then you can adjust accordingly.

Contact us today to learn about how our strategies can help you enhance your marketing skills and generate more leads!

From Smart Business 

 

4 strategies to improve bottom line, generate leads

Image of two young businessmen discussing project at meeting

Most business owners know that the best time to sell a business or attract potential buyers or investors is when that business is healthy. And one mark of a healthy business is a strong bottom line.

It pays, therefore, for business owners to pay attention to how well they are attracting sales leads and making sure that customers can find you where they searching for solutions — online.

To break through to your audience, here are four sure-fire strategies to generate leads and cement brand loyalty for years to come.

Make it easy for people to find you

The first rule of online lead generation is to make sure customers can find your website. Make sure you have an optimized website.

You can optimize your website by identifying the keywords and search terms customers use to find services like yours. Then, once you know the most popular search terms, make sure you use them prominently throughout your website.

You can also pay to make sure your page shows up first in search results by bidding or paying on keyword phrases relevant to your target market and search engine. In addition, social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter offer ads that will target a specific audience.

Listen and offer good advice

Social media can be a tremendous source of leads. But in order to succeed, you must educate and not try to sell. People are tired of the constant barrage of marketing messages.

Instead, customers are looking for useful, educational information that will help them do something better. Listen in to the conversations on social media.

After you have a good feel for the dialogue, chime in with your own unique insight. Better yet, start a blog and post at least twice a week.

Do everything you can to capture email addresses

Just attracting people to your website is OK, but convincing a Web visitor to give you their email address allows you to continue the conversation.

The best way to do this goes back to point number two, and that is you should offer visitors to your website something of value. Free infographics, white papers and e-books are some of the many types of content people want, and they will generate online leads.

Maximize your hard work

You’ve created good content and you have a list of email addresses. But to maximize your efforts, you must stay in touch with those leads to avoid letting them get cold.

If they liked your white paper, send your eBook next. Follow up a few weeks after that with another piece of content.

Meanwhile watch your website to see if they return. If so, it’s time to turn this valuable lead over to your sales team.

Four bonus tips

  1. Update your company profile in online directories.
  2. Make sure your website is mobile ready.
  3. If your business is local, make sure you register with local directories.
  4. Don’t forget, customer reviews are a powerful tool for adding credibility. Look into services like Yelp or Google My Business.

From Smart Business. 

3 Remarkable Stats that Prove the Power of Video Marketing

3 remarkable stats that prove the power of video marketing

2016 has been heralded by many as “the year of video.” According to Cisco, more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic will be video content by 2019. Video marketing isn’t just the future, it’s now: 96% of B2B organizations use video in some capacity in their marketing campaigns, and 73% report positive results to their ROI, according to a survey conducted by ReelSEO.

With so many incredible stats, it’s hard to believe some companies still have not added video to their marketing plans. If you haven’t yet added video to your strategic marketing plan, maybe these numbers will change your mind.

3 Reasons to Include Video in Your Marketing Strategy:

 

1. Branding

The best way to tell your brand story is through video. Not just telling, but showing users who you are while eliciting an emotional connection to your brand through video will turn prospects into customers and raving fans. A customer loyalty study by Mori found that emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely to recommend the brand, three times more likely to re-purchase, are much less price sensitive and are less likely to shop competitors. (44% rarely or never shop around)

 

2. SEO

Websites with video will experience higher rankings in Google because video is considered rich media and valuable user content. According to older reports, video is 50 times more likely to get organic page ranks in Google than plain text results. In 2016, Brightcove found that video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines.

 

3. Conversions

Video can improve rankings, increase traffic and quickly explain brands and products, but can it actually convert?

  • According to Eye View Digital, having a video on your landing page can increase conversions by 86%.
  • Vidyard reports that 70% of marketers using video claim video produces more conversions than any other content.
  • Another study found that using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%.
  • 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

 

Interested in learning what video marketing can do for your numbers? Contact GREENCREST and talk with a video marketing specialist today.

 

 

Growing revenue by nurturing leads

image of a businessmen stretching out their hands towards each other, the future handshake

Generating leads — for most companies — is a relatively straightforward process of attracting website visits, trade show contacts, buying lists, outbound email campaigns or telemarketing, among other things.

The problem is that most of these leads (73 percent, according to MarketingSherpa) are not yet ready to buy — or to even talk to a salesperson. But it’s a mistake to ignore those leads. Studies report that 80 percent of leads not ready to buy today will go on to buy from you or a competitor within the next 24 months.

This is where lead nurturing fits in.

Lead nurturing defined

Lead nurturing is the process of creating a relevant and consistent dialogue with potential customers through regularly scheduled, customized communications.

Lead nurturing is typically focused on converting leads that are already in your database, with a goal of earning their business when they are ready to buy — next month, next quarter or next year.

How it works

Envision your sales process as an upside down funnel. Leads enter at the wide end of the funnel. Once leads are in the funnel, you need to nurture them with helpful, relevant information that moves potential buyers through each stage of consideration at a natural pace until they’re ready to be passed on to sales.

It starts with building a number of different customer tracks to address various products of interest, pain points and common objections during each stage of the sales cycle. Leads are placed on a track based on what you know about them.

Here is an example of three tracks based on key customer questions:

  • Early stage — education: Do I have a problem? Does it impact my business? How are others solving it?
  • Middle stage — solution: Will this solve my problem? Is this the best way to improve my business?
  • Late stage – selection: Can I justify this expense? Is this vendor a trusted partner?

A common mistake marketers make is to think of lead nurturing as email communication. Instead, think of it as a workflow or series of communications in which every step has a clear and concise objective, whether it is moving someone to the next stage, or driving another desirable action.

The end result

Nurturing has the power to significantly speed up your sales cycle, with plenty of research to back up this assertion:

  • Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. (DemandGen Report, 2014)
  • Companies that excel in lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost per lead. (Forrester Research, 2014)
  • Successful lead nurturing breeds educated, gratified customers who channel their satisfaction into their purchase sizes, making 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Kapost, 2014)

A planned lead nurturing process actively builds new relationships with prospective customers and keeps a company top of mind.

With a nurturing program in place, prospects are no longer getting barraged with generic sales emails — instead they are receiving targeted communications based on their inquiries, interests and more. Perhaps that is why the sales results are dramatically better.

From Smart Business

Engaging employees to live the brand

brand team

The Chief Marketing Officers Council and Executive Networks Inc. collaborated in 2015 to produce a report titled, “Making the Workplace a Brand-Defining Space.” The report explored ways in which marketing and human resource leaders could engage employees to bring a company’s values, ethics, commitments and qualities to life within the organization.

What I loved about the report is that it explored social media platforms being used by leading consumer brands to retain and recruit, build customer-centric cultures, recognize and reward innovation and output, and drive productivity, performance and motivation by “gamifying” the workplace.

Start the conversation

According to the report, areas of conversation included such questions as:

  • Does your company have a formal brand platform with shared values, ethics and collective buy-in?
  • How important is your brand persona to employee recruitment and customer gratification?
  • What value does management place on organizational branding and employee engagement?
  • Do you have a well-defined corporate culture that is universally embraced by the organization? If so, how has this been achieved? If not, what is lacking?
  • How well do your employees reinforce and deliver on brand promises and claims
  • How are you encouraging, rewarding, measuring and amplifying this?
  • To what degree is your brand personality reflected in your people and workplace?
  • In what ways are you engaging, motivating and recognizing employees to underscore brand qualities?
  • How are work styles changing and what are you doing to adjust to the millennial mindset?
  • Which platforms, methodologies, mobile applications or protocols are you using to do this?
  • Which business events, milestones or commitments require active employee participation and partner support?
  • How does your organization use social media, and how are employees and partners contributing to this?

These questions are a good starting point for assessing where your organization stands and may provide some insight to ways you could better align the company’s brand clues within your organization.

Finding the disconnect

Here are some of the report’s findings, as gleaned from the executive summary.

Nearly 70 percent of marketing and human resource leaders believe their management teams are strongly committed to their company’s image, identify, culture and collective ethos, as well as shared values and employee participation in organizational branding. Yet, just 37 percent say they have a well-defined corporate culture that is universally embraced by the organization.

Brand persona is seen by almost 90 percent as essential, very or moderately important to attracting new hires and building a lasting relationship with customers. Only 62 percent, however, reported having a formal brand platform that defines shared values, ethics and collective buy-in to a singular value proposition.

Leaders first

In order for marketing and human resources to succeed in making the workplace a brand-defining space, a company must first uncover its brand. This is a top-down, CEO-driven initiative with the company’s leadership team as the main brand ambassadors.

The leadership must first embrace the value of the brand and its impact on the company’s future growth, customer loyalty and employee satisfaction, as well as its ability to drive greater profitability and competitive advantage.

From this foundation, a brand that is enculturated into an organization is a game-changing, transformational market advantage.

From Smart Business

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    GREENCREST Chief Strategy Officer Kelly Borth brings together today’s great marketing thought leaders in one book that helps business owners identify strategies to transform their business.

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