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Playing short. Thinking long.

The secret balancing act of modern marketers.

It’s one of the great marketing pressure points. Juggling long-term brand building with the need to deliver short-term results. We’ve talked about it before and we’re certainly not alone, with the issue forming the focus of an iconic 2013 study from UK-based Les Binet and Peter Field, “The Long and the Short of It: Balancing the short and long-term effects of marketing.”

On the surface they may seem diametrically opposed strategies. But there’s growing evidence working on your short game may actually hold the key to driving sustained, long-term brand value – especially  in an age of digital disruption, fragmented media and complex multi-channel campaigns.

Look after your long vision.

One of the biggest watch-outs for Binet and Field was the rising tendency for many brands to use short-term metrics to measure success. By looking only at the immediate road ahead, they argued this has dangerous long-term brand implications, and we can only agree. Central to their reasoning was the inherent struggle between ‘head and heart’. Specifically, they found that rational strategies, while good at delivering quick results, are typically far less memorable than emotional ones. In other words, more emotive communications are a lot better at building awareness and deeper brand connections that, ultimately, translate into better profits. Short-term sales spikes may look good on a spreadsheet but, as Binet explained, “emotion is where the really big profits lie.”

Strengthening the links between long and short.

It may seem a little counter-intuitive. But recalibrating existing short-term strategies can actually be an effective way to help drive longer-term brand value. In particular, bringing a more strategic and selective approach to your digital activations – classically seen as a short-term tactics – can help to build brands from the bottom up.

Social media provides the perfect case in point. While single interactions on Facebook or Instagram may only be fleeting in isolation, collectively they can create a powerful platform for adding long-term brand value. The trick, of course, is to be consistent in your message, tone and visual language, to leave a strong cumulative brand imprint over time. In this way, it’s a bit like a colony of ants. On their own, individual ants are small and can’t achieve much. But when they work together they can do amazing things and are pretty hard to ignore!

Creating frameworks for continuity.

One of the most significant challenges in the short-term vs long-term balancing act, is that long-term strategies, by their very nature, take time to build and show quantifiable results. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen – if you stay the course. Trouble is, when marketing teams are prone to chopping and changing, previous learnings and strategies can quickly go out of the window. As marketers, and managers, it’s essential to find ways to retain knowledge and ensure strategic brand continuity beyond any single person. Establishing more robust long-term frameworks with empowered teams of brand custodians is a good place to start, rather than having a brand’s destiny resting entirely in the hands of any one individual (who, frankly, may or may not even be there in a year’s time). It’s all about reframing short-term campaigns and initiatives through the overlaying of a longer-term brand perspective.

Want your short-term campaigns to drive better long-term value?Contact The Marketing Syndicate today.

Are you harnessing the power of purpose?

 

Whether you’re in the business of coffee or cars, phones or pharma, tech or transport, food or fashion, what you do will always be important. But increasingly consumers  and especially Millennials – are looking for even more. They want to see a deeper purpose from the brands they choose to support. This begs the obvious question. What’s yours?

 

Purpose creates connections.

It may seem a little ‘warm and fuzzy’ at first. But when embraced strategically, having a clearly-defined brand purpose can be a potent business driver. The magic of a higher purpose is it reaches far beyond your product or service. Rather it’s about aligning shared values and, by doing so, elevating a customer’s emotional connection – and loyalty – to an entirely new level, especially when compared with other brands that don’t have the same (or any) higher purpose.

 

Far from being merely a ‘nice to have’ for marketers, doing this is actually quite critical. More and more, today’s consumers expect the organisations and brands they support to behave in socially and environmentally conscientious ways. If your brand purpose aligns with something that matters to them, your brand is more likely to matter to them as well. The reverse is also true, of course.

 

Employees crave purpose too.

The advantages of purpose aren’t confined to your customers. It can also enhance your ability to engage and motivate your own workforce. Studies consistently show modern employees are likely to be happier and more effective when they have a greater reason to get out of bed than simply getting paid. In an era when personal and professional life is often intertwined, people want to be proud of where they work and find tremendous value in being part of brands that stand for something bigger. It can be an energising common goal.

 

According to a 2016 study by Deloitte, almost 90 percent of Millennial workers believe the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just financial performance.

 

Act with purpose, don’t just say it.

Having a purpose is a lot more than just choosing a popular cause. You need to live and breathe it in everything you do. If you don’t, watch out! Commercial opportunism gets called out very quickly, and often brutally, in social media. Profit may follow purpose, but it should NEVER drive it. Brands that fail to understand this are routinely held to account by the very people they’re looking to serve and they can pay a high commercial price. Millennials know when you’re faking it – so do it right, or don’t do it all.

 

Finding your purpose.

Different purposes will resonate more strongly with different brands. Yours might be related to healthcare, sport, international development or perhaps helping young people in underprivileged communities. You need to be guided by something that’s meaningful, relevant and, ideally, has a logical connection to what you already do and believe. Also keep in mind people generally react best when brands take a stand on an issue or injustice they can personally identify with – and then use their influence and resources to help create genuine and lasting improvements.

 

Ready to harness your brand purpose?

Need help to identify it?

Contact The Marketing Syndicate today.

 

Same, but different. Why it’s vital to get your content strategy and brand strategy working together

 

 

Do you know the difference between a brand strategy and content strategy? They’re both key parts of a modern marketer’s arsenal. But while closely connected, they aren’t the same thing. It’s worth understanding why.

 

What is a brand strategy?

Your brand strategy is your overarching marketing bible. Sitting above all else, it guides everything to do with building your brand – from clearly articulating who you are and what you do, to what you believe and how you should communicate.

 

What is a content strategy?

Your content strategy is a powerful – but not the only – tool for executing your brand strategy. More fluid than your brand strategy, it outlines how to use content to communicate who your brand is and what you’re all about as business.

Clearly, they’re both pretty important. While they should ideally work closely together, often they don’t.  In fact, in our experience many businesses don’t have a content strategy at all! (According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Benchmarks report, only 37% of marketers in the USA currently have one and it’s no doubt a similar story here in Australia). The obvious question is, why?

 

Short-term ‘brand’ blindness.

When timings are tight and to-do lists are long, there’s tremendous pressure to take a short-term approach to just get things done. Unfortunately, this means day-to-day tasks and tactics often begin to supersede all others, and the brand strategy often gets relegated to ‘another day’, replaced instead by an eclectic array of project-based content and campaigns.

Now, in the short-term this may not seem like a big deal, especially if sales and revenue still seem okay. But when it continues month after month, year after year, the long-term threats to a brand can become very real.

Without a well-defined brand strategy guiding your content, even the best brands risk becoming muddled. When a brand loses clarity, its emotional connection with customers quickly falls, as does customers loyalty. This leaves it at mercy of commoditisation and competitors who may be doing a better job of nurturing those same connections.

 

Be true to who you are

Regardless of the media channels you use, the consistency and relevance of your content is pivotal in building and maintaining a healthy brand. While you want your content ideas to be interesting, it’s also important they truly reflect who you are. Remember, people want to support brands with shared values, and content is a powerful way to communicate these. The flip side is the wrong content can also undermine your values – so be careful!

 

Brand Guidelines

Inconsistency is the enemy of any brand. That’s why, if you haven’t already done so, we strongly suggest you formalise your brand identity and tone of voice through the creation of brand guidelines. In addition to including things like your positioning, tagline and values, it should also provide clear rules around your preferred content style. It’s also a great idea to include specific examples outlining approved ways to talk, write, post and even tweet about your brand. Another thing well worth considering is appointing a Brand Champion within your business to help ensure the brand guidelines are understood and adhered to at all times.

 

The relationship between your brand and content strategy is a very important one.  Your content program should articulate your brand. Your content pillars should support and tell your brand story regularly and consistently. No strategy is set in stone – to make your content as effective as possible, experiment, test and adjust your content strategy according to your results.

 

Could your brand and content strategies be better aligned?

Do you need help creating brand guidelines?

Contact The Marketing Syndicate today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 musts for any social media strategy

 

Like businesses around the globe, chances are social media is occupying more and more of your time and energy, especially when it comes to marketing. This is no great surprise given the increasingly ubiquitous nature of social media and the endless ways we now use it to manage our relationships with family, friends, colleagues and, yes, brands.

Clearly, the implications of this are pretty seismic for marketers. It means having an effective social media strategy is no longer just a ‘nice to have’, it’s an essential part of modern business.

Of course, as we’ve already explored in previous blogs, getting social media right is a lot more complicated than just posting ‘stuff’ on Facebook or Instagram. While every business (and industry) has its own unique social media landscape and challenges, there are a few things that remain true across the board.

 

  1. Influencers work

Influencer Marketing is big news for younger audiences such as Millennials and Gen Z (born mid-1990s/early 2000s). If some, or all, of your customers are 35 or younger, it’s really something you should be considering. What is it? Simply fostering partnerships with respected brand ambassadors – aka influencers – to help advertise your brand or products, either overtly or subtly, via posts and videos their own existing social media networks. It can be a powerful tool as we know consumers tend to respond far more strongly to connections with people on social media than they ever do with brands. It’s more human, intimate and engaging. The key, of course, is finding relevant and appropriate influencers who are a good fit for your brand and its values. Financially speaking, the bigger an influencer’s profile and following, the more it’s likely going to cost to get them on board.

The perception of influencer marketing can trick many brands into thinking it is something that’s only meant for the big brands with the even bigger budgets.

That’s not necessarily the case—particularly with the rise of the micro-influencer. These influencers with a smaller audience, have a highly engaged following and make this marketing tactic available to companies of all sizes.

Micro influencers can be extremely cost-effective, especially for small businesses or brands that are looking to activate an influencer marketing campaign but can’t invest a big budget up front (or ever!). They are highly trusted and valued by the people who follow them—meaning they can be equally as valuable when it comes to promoting your brand.

 

  1. Know your ideal Customer Persona

This seems obvious, right? Trouble is, no matter how hard we try it’s virtually impossible to ever completely know what your customers are thinking – especially when it comes to an intimate personal medium as social media. But… with the right type of research you can get a gist of the types of things your customers and prospects are looking for, then base your social media strategy on these insights. Creating a ‘customer persona’ is an excellent way to do this. It’s essentially a personal profile that describes your ideal customer, which then allows you to more effectively target your social media to: (a) reach them; and (b) get their attention.

Some of things to consider when writing and refining your customer persona include:

  • Where do they work?
  • What are their interests?
  • How much do they earn?
  • Where do they live?
  • How old are they?
  • How do they share content?
  • What do they enjoy?
  • What stresses them out?
  • What are their life goals?
  • What’s their family situation?

 

  1. Make it Emotional

In a world filled with rationality and responsibility, many people use social media as an escape outlet. This is why appealing to people’s emotions is one of the best ways to engage them with your brand and your posts. Nowadays the most engaging types of social media content is emotive and immersive. As much as possible, make your posts dynamic, thought-provoking and original. By all means demonstrate creativity, but also invite your followers to get creative in the ways they interact with your product in a campaign. Make them part of your brand story too.

 

Ready to turbo-charge your social media campaigns?

Contact The Marketing Syndicate today.

3 keys to maximising social media engagement

 

You’ve done your research. You’ve designed and written your content. Then you post it on social media. And….nothing happens 🙁

 

One of the big mistakes businesses make when using social media is thinking that simply posting is enough to promote their brand, product or campaign. The reality can be very different, because a social media post that fails to generate consumer engagement is about as effective as a billboard in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

 

Highly-engaging Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter pages (or any other social media platform for that matter) rarely happen by accident. While they may seem simple enough on the surface, behind them you’ll almost always find a clearly defined and evolving content strategy – structured around ways to keep the current audience captivated, while also attracting new followers.

 

The good news is, while building a loyal social media following isn’t always easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated if you follow a few simple rules. Here are three of the big things we always recommend to our clients when it comes to maximising their social media engagement.

 

  1. Post regularly, post relevantly

Quality engagement requires regular, quality content. But what’s relevant for one brand may be very different for another. This makes it essential to learn what type of content engages your audience – and what doesn’t. Obviously in time you’ll be able to see for yourself what works best for you. But in the shorter term, why re-invent the wheel? One of the easiest ways to get started is simply to study your competitors and other similar brands. What’s working for them?

 

  1. Curate, don’t just create

If you’re pushed for time (and who isn’t?) one of the best social media strategies is to think of yourself as a ‘curator’ instead of a creator. The internet is filled with so much amazing content, there’s really no need to try to build your audience solely from original content. In fact, curated content – that is, content shared from other pages and websites – is how some of the world’s most popular brands have built social media audiences in the millions. By sharing content that’s topical and relevant – and adding your own insight or commentary around it – you can effectively piggyback off trending topics and major news events. That’s so much easier than starting every social media conversation from scratch!

 

  1. Make your posts visual

It may seem obvious for Instagram. But visual posts consistently perform better on almost every social media platform when compared to text-only posts. Think about how you can optimise your use of visuals everywhere from your profiles and page headers to your actual posts and content. Use relevant emojis to accompany your text. Make sure the posts you pin to the top of your page always contain interesting imagery. Choose high-impact feature images for any article links you share, as people will be far more likely to stop and take notice when you do. After all, a picture (or video) really does speak a thousand words on social media.

 

For all brands, another strong consideration when looking at social media engagement is investment in influencer marketing, more specifically in micro-influencers. It’s a relatively new term and if you are a brand reading this, you may be asking yourself why you would want to invest in an influencer with a small following as part of your influencer marketing strategy.

 

Micro-influencers (someone with an audience within the follower range of 2,000 – 20,000 followers) are brand advocates who have a deeply engaged, niche audience and often have a higher than average engagement rate because their community is very invested in their content. Authenticity plays a vital role in influencer marketing – it is this personal and often intimate content, everyday people sharing their passion and personal recommendations which enables micro-influencers to build an engage community that brands can tap into and leverage.

 

Lookout for our upcoming blog specifically looking at the rise of micro-influencers and the impact they are creating for the brands they work with.

 

Looking for ways to increase your social media engagement?

Contact The Marketing Syndicate today.Ingrid@themarketingsyndicate.com.au

3 ways to improve every creative brief

 

How can you reach your destination if you don’t know where you’re going?

It may seem pretty logical. But generations of creatives have been left to ponder this exact question over the years, faced with incomplete or confusing information about the challenge they’ve been tasked to solve.

Even if you’re fortunate enough to be working with highly experienced creatives, the result of this confusion is typically a lot of wasted time, wasted energy and, ultimately, wasted marketing dollars.

The key to avoiding these all-too-common situations is to treat your creative briefs like a road map, ensuring they’re always crystal clear, complete and easy for others to navigate. True, it will probably take you a little extra time upfront to do this. But the pay-off down the track will make it well worthwhile.

Here are three things we always try to deliver with our own creative briefings here at The Marketing Syndicate.

  1. Inspire, excite, motivate!

A motivated creative is a far more likely to be an effective creative. It’s your job to fire them up! From the language you use and the props you bring (did someone say snacks?), to your choice of location for the briefing itself, the more you can do to peak their interest and inspire them via the briefing process, the better their ideas are likely to be. Remember, they’re probably working on other briefs at the same time too, so you need to make sure yours gets plenty of love!

  1. Insight delight

Whether you tap into learnings from past campaigns, market research, customer focus groups or even the wider strategic direction of your brand, the best creative briefs are almost always rich in specific consumer insights. In fact, these are the exact things your creative team will most likely seek to leverage in their ideas. Avoid generic claims and sweeping generalisations at all costs, especially when it comes to writing your single-minded proposition (SINGLE, being the key word here.) Specific ownable insights are what it’s all about.

  1. Less is more

One of the most common creative briefing pitfalls is the temptation to overwrite them. It’s easy to think the more information you include the better. After all, you don’t want to miss out something important, right? Trouble is, when you include every conceivable detail the result is almost the same: confusion. There’s no surer way to stifle even the best creative teams than to overwhelm them with an avalanche of data. Think of yourself as an information filter. Cut through the clutter and clearly identify those key things and messages that are MOST important for your campaign to be successful, remembering it’s a very fine balance between including too much and not enough.

Ready to talk about your next creative brief?  

Contact The Marketing Syndicate today.

 

THE POWER OF SILLY STUFF

This week I discovered the new RSPCA NSW campaign for cats. It is called “Cat Ballads, Music to Improve the Life of Cats” and I found it funny and engaging. Not only is there an album and videos of singing cats highlighting responsible cat care, there is also a track and video created with scientists designed to calm cats and kittens in shelter environments, who may be generally stressed or left at home during the day. Goodbye Grumpy Cats!

This started me thinking about using humour in advertising.

Many memorable ad campaigns tend to be funny. Audiences like to be entertained, but not pitched to and people will pay more attention to a humorous commercial than a factual or serious one, opening themselves up to be influenced.

The key to funny advertising is assuring the humor is appropriate to both product and customer. The balance between funny and obnoxious can be delicate; and a marketer must be certain the positive effects outweigh the negative before launching a campaign. The best products to sell using humor tend to be those that consumers have to think the least about. Products that are relatively inexpensive, and often consumable, can be represented without providing a lot of facts, and that’s where there’s room for humor.

It is also worthwhile considering that different things are funny to different people. A commercial that leaves one person in stitches may not be as hilarious to someone else. The target market must always be considered. It is interesting to note that humor in advertising tends to improve brand recognition, but does not improve product recall, message credibility, or buying intentions. Variety is key, once a commercial starts to wear thin there’s no saving it without some variation on the concept.

Mark Levit of Partners & Levit Advertising writes “Humorous campaigns are often expensive because they have to be constantly changed. Advertisers must remember that while making the customer laugh, they have to keep things interesting, because old jokes die along with their products.” I wonder, as the world speeds up and digital advertising evolves, will this continue to be an issue?

If you want to check out the Cat Ballads Album, click here

You can also donate while you are there.

SEARCHING FOR THE PERFECT SHOT

Stock photography has come a long way in recent years, the quality, affordability and choice has improved dramatically. If a client is working to tight budget, stock shots can be the perfect solution.

In turn, most graphic designers will be required to delve deeply into a stock library to find the perfect shot at some stage. Some look at this task with trepidation, imagining hours of fruitless searching. Me, I love it. It doesn’t matter what search criteria you type in, without fail a random, bizarre, unrelated image will pop up to break the boredom. Often I will flick to the final page of the search where the least popular images are, this is where the “nuggets” are often found.

It seems, I’m not alone, there’s is a great article by Patrick Burgoyne highlighting the research of Andy Kelly who has also discovered the less visited corners of stock library archives.

Check it out here

Why don’t you try it yourself, my last search turned up “Strange person in black cloak sitting on a toilet and thinking in the middle of the desert”. I was looking for sadness concepts. Funny thing is, I didn’t find it sad at all!

Jo, Senior Designer

GIVING BACK – PARTNERING WITH KYDS

What’s New in Digital Marketing in 2017

In 2015 TMS approached UnLtd to see if they were able to match us with a charity who needed  pro bono help. Unltd share our passion for helping troubled teens and introduced us to KYDS who were looking for help with their brand and marketing assets.

KYDS is a registered charity helping young people understand and manage difficult issues in their lives. They achieve these goals through easily accessed, personalised counselling and mental health support services, family counselling, and early intervention well-being workshops and information events. It was a perfect fit for us.

Our first project required us to update the KYDS logo and create look and feel relevant to teens today while keeping the donors and board members happy. KYDS do not receive any funding and are 100% reliant on donations and sponsorship so it was important to ensure the new look satisfied everyone involved.

STAGE 1: We began by presenting 8 logo designs with supporting web and advertorial examples to give an overview of each concept. We used the existing logo as a base and created designs that were evolutions and others that were totally new.

STAGE 2:  After initial feedback, it was evident that we were going to refine the existing logo and retain the colours and hand drawn letterforms. We began by substituting the font for other hand drawn typefaces, replacing the person with a letter and experimenting with the placement of that letter.

STAGE 3: Following more feedback we were able to refine the logo further by tweaking the letterforms to give the logo more energy, we simplified the colour palette choosing vibrant hues to compliment the refreshed design.

STAGE 4: Once the logo was approved we developed a logo family which included a male and female specific version and began work on stationery and supporting collateral.

Since completing the logo and supporting assets, we have been involved with 2 annual fund raising events and have produced a bequest brochure. TMS have been delighted in the transition we’ve been able to bring to KYDS. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Felicity and look forward to continuing this mutually beneficial relationship.

To find out more about KYDS or to make a donation, click here.

WHAT’S NEW IN DIGITAL MARKETING IN 2017

What’s New in Digital Marketing in 2017

2017 brings with it a wealth of new possibilities for digital marketing professionals throughout the world. Between developments in mobile technology, virtual reality, and graphics development, it is becoming rapidly clear that a fresh take is needed to help marketing teams best reach their target audiences. We have identified some exciting changes that both present new opportunities and challenges for marketing departments and agencies worldwide.

The Continued Rise of Content Marketing

As web searching tools grow in complexity and capability, the focus for content developers and marketers has shifted from a pure keyword based optimisation strategy to a focus on fresh and high quality content. The emphasis is now on the creator to make certain that the information contained not only is indexed readily, but is cross-linked with similarly informative pieces on other high-ranking sites.

When tied in with social networking, it is possible to leverage multiple indexing and ranking services to rapidly reach a large audience in a targeted demographic or geographic zone. For instance, an article shared throughout Facebook, as long as its content is truly informative and accurate, will rank higher in users’ feeds than general posts.

Ad Blocking Technology Will Become a Default Feature

Google Chrome is rumored to be developing a standardised ad blocker for its web browser that will automatically banish the most blatant and irritating advertisements. There are many reasons for this, ranging from improved security to user preferences and general performance, though the main reason may very well involve advertising revenue.

One of the greatest challenges digital marketers have faced over the last three years is the rise of third-party ad blocking tools that have made it an exceptional challenge to monetize web content provided on the open net. Even with “white lists” enabling nonintrusive advertising the potential for revenue generation has dropped significantly. Google is trying to counteract this by implementing a tool that only removes the worst offenders while providing a framework for modern accepted advertisements Social Media Marketing

Web development is a continuous process that destroys as often as it creates. In the span of less than 20 years we’ve seen the rise and falls of titans like MySpace and GeoCities, along with the awe-inspiring rise of current time usage champions Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Since the users are the product for these services, marketing developers have to follow the platform’s rules in order to even have a chance at success. (mention content is owned by the platforms and not the businesses/brands?)

The middle result, the first being blatant ads that turned off viewers, was the creation of multiple advertising platforms with their own development guidelines and tools. This led to the rise of platform specific platform advertising specialists and a cottage industry in helping end users avoid those ads.

Now, in 2017, a new paradigm is beginning to emerge. The largest platforms are implementing a combination of content-and-popularity aware automated ranking with promotions to enable businesses to leverage social marketing alongside now-traditional PPC advertisements. With the emphasis being placed on connectivity and quality content, it is rapidly growing easier to develop engaging content that leverages the strengths of every platform (i.e. short shareable missives for Twitter, longer articles for Facebook and LinkedIn, and infographics for Instagram.)

What Are Your Thoughts?

The shifting marketing industry has lead to many theories about where it is headed in the future. Do you believe that the shift to open standards, greater connectivity, and a focus on content will be the true guiding posts for marketers in 2017 and beyond?

 

We’re a boutique Sydney promotional marketing and creative agency trusted by some of Australia’s biggest brands. We’re 100% passionate about what we do, and that passion shows through in the quality of our work. Give Ingrid Ambrosius a call if you'd like to know more about The Marketing Syndicate and our services.