Monthly Archives: December 2015

Three Marketing Goals to Keep Front and Center in 2016

By | Marketing | No Comments

We aren’t particularly keen on the term ‘trend’ since it often signifies something that’s only cool or interesting for a short period of time. And while many companies can afford to experiment in this arena, other businesses have to be mindful of focusing on more solid strategies.

As we enter the new year, here are three things that we know are relevant and won’t lose traction come Q2 of 2016:

Be Transparent.

This sounds more simple that it is. Many brands work endlessly to appeal to the masses. You know the whole, “We can be everything to everyone” mantra. More often than not though, this does not work.

Here’s a perfect example. We have a real estate brokerage client who is downright hip. Their brand, their office, their agents, the technology they use screams fresh and modern. Initially, their brand strategy was to appeal to the masses – various demographics in a variety of areas. They couldn’t understand why it wasn’t working for them.

When we sat down with the client to learn more about their current strategy, it didn’t take long for us to illustrate why this ‘one size fits all’ approach was disjointed and not producing the results they were hoping to obtain. So, we worked with them to shift their position.

We not only identified ‘who they were,’ but also ‘who they were not’ as a brand. We built this into their advertising, marketing and general company culture.

We conveyed this via messaging and visuals that were conducive to their brand. And guess what happened? They started seeing the traction that was lacking from their initial approach. This example isn’t just applicable to real estate. It’s an exercise we go through with clients from various industries.

Similar to humans, brands can only ‘fake’ it for so long before their true colors shine through. Our advice? Stop faking it. Take a look at what value your business provides and to what audience. Focus your energy on conveying this versus ‘working on’ who or what you think your audience wants you to be.

Not only will this philosophy be beneficial to your brand, but it will also save you the embarrassment of consumers seeing through the fakeness. In today’s world, there is nothing that people hate more than feeling misled.

Don’t Follow the Masses.

Even if your business is thriving (and we hope it is), frivolous, non-strategic spending is never a good thing. Here are two recent conversations we had with two different clients from two different industries that drives this point home.

Our client, who runs three very successful restaurants, said they wanted to take money from email marketing to launch a paid, online advertising campaign – Google AdWords and Facebook. We asked them a question we often ask, “Why?” Their answer –  because other restaurants are doing it.  

So, we dug into analytics and reporting and shared with them that a great deal of their business was stemming from their email marketing campaigns. People were not only opening their emails, but also sharing them and citing them when they came into the restaurant. These patrons were also repeat customers, visiting the restaurant on average two times per month.

We posed the question, “Why would we stop doing something that is working to do something simply because our competitors are?” One thing that businesses often forget is that doing something different is what is actually contributing to their success.

So, what did we do? Our client respected our recommendation and didn’t pull money away from email marketing. Instead, we allocated a small portion of their budget to ‘test’ the online advertising that interested them. The moral of the story: don’t ever stop doing something that is bringing in money and growing your business because of “shiny object syndrome” (i.e. wasteful distractions).

Now, onto our second client. We had a similar conversation with a real estate brokerage who expressed an interest in ceasing print marketing to buy online leads. We knew from managing the company’s marketing for months that 90 percent of their buyers and sellers were coming from a solid farming strategy and referral and repeat business. The client explained they read an article that ‘print is dead.’ So, we went to work and presented the client with ‘hard’ facts. Based on a tracking system we had set up from day one, we were able to share metrics that illustrated the success they had from their print marketing campaign.

Here’s how we explained it to them. Everyone in their market was obsessed with online marketing (paid ads, buying leads). They had a unique advantage, as they had delved into (and thrived) in the opposite end of the spectrum. Again, signifying that doing the same is not always advantageous.

Why be where everyone else is when you could shine doing something consumers aren’t seeing everyday?

Like with our restaurant client, the real estate brokerage stuck with what was working and growing their business. No two businesses are the same, so why would their marketing strategy be the same? Three words: it should not.

Invest In Content.

We’ve all heard the saying ‘content is king.” Well, guess what? This saying will hold true well into 2016. In addition to our own internal observations, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any statistics that support the contrary.

Like with any type of marketing, your unique market, business model and objectives play a role in what will work (and won’t work), but one thing is clear: consumers adore content. It makes them trust and feel connected to a brand. It makes them see a brand as a subject matter expert.

Another thing that we love about content marketing is that besides being an asset to growing your client base and brand, it is also extremely helpful to search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines have become smarter over the decades. Long gone are the days that copying and pasting an article to your website provided benefits (now it results in the complete opposite, like a virtual slap on the wrist). Google loves unique, relevant and meaningful content and will reward your website accordingly.

Whether you implement content marketing via blog posts, case studies, email marketing, press releases, short videos or infographics, you’ll see positive results with both prospective and current clients, along with search engines like Google.

To execute a solid content marketing strategy, start with a calendar.

  • How often will you write?
  • What channels will you use to circulate your content?
  • What metrics will you use to measure the results?
  • Will you need outside assistance to efficiently execute your plan?
  • Are you taking into account both the reader and search engines?

We encourage you to kick off the year with a rocking content marketing plan. You have our word that it will be worth its weight in gold. Unsure of where to start? Get in touch! This is the sort of thing that gets us out of bed in the morning.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Graphic Designer

By | Design | No Comments

Like with any new relationship, it is important to ask certain questions and learn more about the person prior to making a commitment. Graphic designers are no different and come with various levels of experience, aesthetics and costs. In turn, you will want to ensure that you are hiring the right person or agency before signing on the dotted line.

Sadly, we have had a number of clients retain our services after realizing that they did not ask the right questions. Incidentally, they received a deliverable that was not in-line with their expectations.

  1. Do you possess experience specific to MY needs?

    Most likely, the designer or firm possesses some type of experience or you would not be in contact. But, there is a big difference between general experience and experience that is specific to the work that you need done. For example, if you are looking to have your website designed, you will want someone who has experience with web design, not just print. They are two very different worlds that require varied and unique skill sets.

     

  2. What is the turnaround time?

    If you need your project completed by a specific date, be very clear about this upfront. Good designers will be honest with you if they are not able to meet your deadline, allowing you to shop elsewhere for someone who can. Besides asking about the final deliverable date, inquire about milestones. Does the designer have mini-deadlines for first round design and applicable edits? If not, you might want to think twice about working with the designer, as micro-planning is key when working to meet a final deadline.

     

  3. How much will the project cost?

    Obviously, this is an important question! Even if the designer possesses extensive experience related to your project and can meet your deadline, there is no point in moving forward with the conversation if you cannot afford their services. In addition to obtaining a fully-loaded end cost, ensure that you are clear about what the proposal will entail. For example, how many rounds of edits are included? What is the hourly rate if you go past the edits included in the price?

     

  4. Can I see samples of your work?

    It is important to see actual pieces that the designer has created. Given that the finished product may be heavily influenced by the designer’s client, try not to focus on if you like the colors or fonts, but rather the attention to detail that was paid to the piece.

     

  5. How much time will be required of me?

    This is an important one. Design firms all operate in different ways, so it is important to understand what will be expected of you. Is there a timeframe that you will have to provide feedback within to stay on schedule? Are there required calls you need to be on to review the design progress? While you should be required to provide approval and feedback, you should not feel overwhelmed by the amount of time requested of you.

By asking these questions, you will not only get the answers you need to make an informed decision, but you will also have the opportunity to get to know the person or firm you will be working with. Obviously, the last thing you want is to have to interface with someone whose personality does not match yours. Go with your gut on this end! Design projects should be a fun process, so you certainly do not want to end up working with someone who puts you in a foul mood.

If you have any questions about graphic design services, feel free to contact us!

How to Get the Most Out of Your Print Advertising

By | Analytics | No Comments

Print Is Not Dead

At Realitas Group, we are firm believers in this statement. Creating, executing and managing an intelligent and well-thought-out print advertising/marketing strategy can be an invaluable piece of your marketing arsenal. Of course, the first step you will want to take is identifying the purpose of the campaign, the objectives you hope to reach through it and the channels you will use to convey the messaging.

Once you have completed these steps, it might be tempting to start thinking about your beautifully designed ads or how awesome it will be to have your brand seen throughout your local area. Stop right there! Prior to launching a print campaign of any kind, you will want to figure out how you will measure the results of the time, money and resources that you invest.

Create a Print Marketing Tracking System

When we work with clients on creating and managing any print initiative, we figure out how we will measure success. And while there are solid ways to do this, we also remind clients that a portion of any print objective is branding and many times that metric cannot be immediately measured in a quantitative state. (We will address this topic in another post, as there is a lot of great information that we would love to share with you.)

Create a Custom URL for the Printed Piece

Let’s say we are working on a “Just Listed” postcard for a real estate agent. This postcard will be sent to a geo-specific area where people who are most likely to buy this home are located. Instead of including the URL to the real estate agent’s general website, we might create a custom URL like 123MainStreet.com. The URL is short, easy to type into a browser and is directly associated with the property we are marketing.

Create a Redirect to a Page on Your Website

Working from our example above, 123MainStreet.com is not an actual website. So, if someone were to go to that web address, they would not be taken to an actual page. In turn, you need to redirect that URL to an actual page on your website. To do this, you need to create a 301 redirect. Once this is done, if a person goes to 123MainStreet.com, they will instantaneously be directed to the URL you established via the 301 redirect.

Set a Few Parameters in Google Analytics

Working under the assumption that your website has Google Analytics setup, you will want to login and set some parameters for the campaign. (If you do not have Google Analytics on your website, you are doing yourself and your business a disservice. If you are not sure how to do this or why it is useful, contact us. We can help!)

Within Google Analytics, you can set campaign parameters that will easily (and quickly) allow you to see how the printed piece is performing. Here are the three that you will want to focus on:

  1. Source: This should be specific to the printed piece and the traffic generated. Based off of our example, we might use ‘postcard.’
  2. Medium: This parameter refers to the medium that the message is being delivered through. So, for our example, that might be ‘mailer.’
  3. Campaign Name: This refers to the overall campaign, which might be ‘123 Main Street.’ One of the coolest things about setting this up is that you can pull in other sources that relate to the same campaign. For example, the 123 Main Street campaign might also be leveraging Zillow ads or an email newsletter campaign. If we create parameters for those other sources within the same campaign, we would be able to see where our best performance is coming from!

Monitoring the Print Advertising Results

One of the biggest fails is taking the time to set this all up and then not monitoring the valuable data that you will be receiving. The best way to avoid this from happening is to set a recurring schedule. As the campaign gets into full swing and more data comes in, you will want to pay close attention to performance levels.

Are certain sources clearly outperforming others? Is there a particular medium that is blowing another out of the water in more than one campaign? Is one campaign with the same sources and mediums as another just not faring very well?

There are a lot of variables, so try not to make any rash judgements based on one campaign or numerous campaigns that take place within a very short window of time. Look at the data from an aggregate standpoint, make some conclusions and then begin drilling down to make definitive discoveries.

The beauty of setting this up in Google Analytics is that you will be able to access all of your data in one central location, even if you are using third-party providers for email marketing or pay-per-click campaigns.

If you have any questions about our print marketing or marketing strategy services, please do not hesitate to contact us.