The Marketing Lessons That Corona and Limes Taught Us

What’s going on with the Beer Industry?

There has been a shift in the consumption of beer over the last few years that has been a growing concern for manufacturers across the United States.

In 2017, there was a decline in both dollar and volume sales for domestic premium beer. According to IRI Worldwide’s market research, “Domestic premium brands (Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light, etc.) saw dollar sales decline 2.9 percent, more than $398 million, to about $13 billion. Volume sales declined 3.8 percent” (Hop Take, Wolinski).

This change in course is more than likely caused by a number of factors. One threat to the industry is the shift in health consciousness with both Generation Y and Generation Z. People are aware of the negative impact alcohol can have on your overall health, and these generations have demonstrated their willingness to modify their behaviors.  

That is not to say that alcohol consumption is, by any means, coming to an end. However, people may be changing what type of alcohol they are consuming. Beverages with a lower caloric intake (wine, vodka, gin, etc.) are more attractive to the younger generations. Additionally, microbreweries and brewpubs have grown a faithful following, as people are now seeking out  ‘locally made’ flavors that invoke preferences for freshness, aroma, and bitterness level.

That being said, craft beer, domestic super premiums, and import beer dollar sales have increased, despite the overall volume consumed being on the decline. Ultimately, this movement reflects that the U.S. is spending more on beer, but drinking less of it.

How Corona Takes the Crown

While the beer business has been facing adverse times, shipments of Corona have inexplicably continued to increase. It’s undeniable that beer’s share in the U.S. alcohol market is shrinking, making Corona’s success a bit puzzling.

In addition to being the number-one-selling beer in Mexico, Corona is also among the most popular brands in the US. So one might guess that the quality of this summery beer must be superior to other brands. However, its taste ratings are decidedly on the lower end of the spectrum. So quality can’t be the reason it’s so eagerly embraced. 

What other factor could explain Corona’s standout sale volume?

The answer is marketing! 

Rather than simply selling an alcoholic beverage, Corona’s advertising sells an experience. When you watch a commercial with someone sitting on a beach beside a Corona and lime, it taps into something deeper than a desire for a drink. You don’t just want a beer—you want a Corona.

Here are some methods used by advertisers to connect to a viewer in this way: 

·      Use of pathos. Appealing to a viewer’s emotions is one the most effective ways to connect with an audience. From a psychological standpoint, utilizing emotional appeal is one of the most impactful ways to relay a message.

How Corona uses pathos: Corona is able to use pathos by targeting people who are busy, stressed, or overwhelmed. It draws them to the feeling of relaxation that appears to be affiliated with this particular beverage.

·      Make it personal. In order to really resonate with consumers, a company’s marketing needs to make people believe that the message applies to their life. This keeps advertisements from being skipped or overlooked. Pairing relevant content with the right personal interests is a very promising method to increase purchasing decisions.

How Corona makes it personal: Corona makes their advertising feel personal because it connects a popular set of interests with an available product. The interest is feeling relaxed and having a good time, and the product is a bottle of Corona. If a viewer’s goal is to unwind and be stress-free, Corona’s advertising makes this seem like a realistic outcome.

·     Be memorable. While the number of people you reach and the amount of impressions your ad receives are valuable, attention does not necessarily imply retention. Lasting results are less likely if the message wasn’t impactful or memorable. Consumers’ attention is trained to turn toward compelling content and topics that are personally relevant. Incorporating messages in an attention-grabbing way makes marketing campaigns much more powerful.

How Corona is memorable: Here is a compilation of Corona commercials.

While you may not remember what happened in every Corona ad over the years, you’ve probably caught on to a common theme—the beach! Corona has effectively marketed in a way that when you think of having a beer at the beach, you think Corona. This is a perfect example of incorporating a message (to relax responsibly) and making it impact viewers in a lasting way.  

 

https://www.adweek.com/digital/experts-marketing-is-boosting-corona-sales-even-though-no-one-likes-the-taste/

https://www.businessinsider.com/millennials-gen-z-drag-down-beer-sales-2018-2

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/272576

https://www.mdgadvertising.com/marketing-insights/how-to-make-your-advertising-more-memorable/

https://vinepair.com/articles/hop-take-beer-sales-trends-2017/ 

How Influencers Are Boosting Marketing Efforts

When it comes to growing a business, successfully reaching and influencing your target market can be tricky. Not only do you have to know the people who make up your audience, but you also have to figure out the language your audience responds to, what platform(s) work best, and which targeting strategies are most effective.

When reaching large numbers of people, it’s difficult to personalize your message in away that connect to your whole audience. Ads through Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc., use pictures and videos that resemble organic content, which initially proved effective when connecting businesses with social media users. However, as more and more ads and sponsored content showed up on newsfeeds, users started to become desensitized to these types of postings.

So how did businesses deal with ad apathy? By switching gears.

Enter influencer marketing.

What is influencer marketing?

Businesses know organic content is king when it comes to social media marketing. So instead of marketing to the masses, businesses are now paying “influencers” to promote their products/services for them. Rather than B2C marketing (business to consumer), this trend presents an exciting opportunity to encourage C2C (consumer to consumer) marketing.

Why is this important?

Why has influencer marketing created such a big wave in 2018 (especially with millennials)?

One word: Authenticity.

People trust people more than advertisements. When someone posts about how a “diet tea” changed their life, for example, their followers know that this is a real person, not a model or actor in a commercial. They believe their testimony to be true and therefore have greater confidence in the product.

Who can be an influencer?

While celebrities and public figures do an excellent job reaching vast numbers through their endorsements, social promoters don’t necessarily have to be famous.

In fact, influencer marketing is most effective when promoted by an individual who has a community of followers with shared interests and curiosities. The ultimate goal is to give brands a human voice that will connect to audiences in a more sincere way.

How can I make influencer marketing effective for my business?

The best influencers are social media users who have:

·      Taken the time to build their own brand and audience

·      Patiently grown their popularity by collecting one organic follower at a time

·      Cultivated a community that looks to their tastes and preferences as benchmarks to make personal choices about products and brands

While you want to find a social promoter with a respectable audience size, a loyal and engaged following is much more likely to have a real impact on marketing efforts. Someone with a bunch of paid-for followers will not yield the same outcomes! In other words, quality is greater than quantity when it comes to an influencer’s followers. The results are much more favorable if you take the time to find the right person with the right fans to vouch for your brand.

What about video?

Another way to make influencer marketing more effective is through the use of video marketing. Video, by nature, is an engaging and dynamic way to influence audiences and drive sales. “Vloggers” (video bloggers) are likely to have a faithful following made up of people who are looking for advice on what products they should invest in. Utilizing Snapchat, Facebook Live, YouTube, Instagram Stories and IGTV creates opportunities to advocate for a brand with a genuine voice.  

Make sure everyone wins!

Influencers and businesses should have a relationship that is mutually beneficial. Considering they have very different motivations for their social media use, making incentives for each party to reach the same goals is imperative.

Research is an important element in making this affiliation work. Be organized, form a strategy, and develop a schedule. Working together to generate the best results helps everyone gain from this arrangement.

So go ahead and experiment with influencer marketing, build your credibility, and track your ROI. Embrace this trend and connect with audiences in a new and different way!

 

Resources:

https://mention.com/blog/influencer-marketing-trends/

https://influencermarketinghub.com/what-is-influencer-marketing/

https://www.singlegrain.com/content-marketing-strategy-2/what-is-influencer-marketing-chris/

SSL Certificate: What It Is, and Why Your Website Needs It

What is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate is a security measure websites take to encrypt (meaning to conceal using codes) the links between server and client. This is done to ensure that the connection between a website or browser and a mail server is private. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, as this security protocol means no one besides the mail client and the website can access the information you share with a site.

Here’s a real-world example. Say you were to subscribe to a monthly newsletter from Harvard Business Review, or you signed up for a rewards program with Target, Walgreens or Nike. When the websites where you enter your personal information for these subscriptions have an SSL certificate, your information stays between you and the site you shared it with.

Do I need it for my website?

If you run a business, then you likely have a website. You may have been deliberating over whether or not you should invest in an SSL certificate. Does your site really need it?

The short answer is yes.

Here’s why:

1.     As of July 2018, Google has started penalizing websites that do not have the SSL certificate. Without it, your website will be marked as not secure in the URL. Additionally, Google will begin intervening with a warning page, informing website visitors that their connection when visiting your site is not private or secure.

Effects: While internet users and consumers can technically bypass the security warnings if they choose, they’ll probably be less inclined to visit your site with these visible warnings, worrying (rightfully so) that their private information won’t be protected.

2.     In addition to warning pages and URLs, Google has started de-ranking sites that are not secure. This means that your website’s positioning will be shifted to a lower and less visible position on all search engines. Even if your site’s keywords and content are what an internet user is searching for, your positioning will drop significantly from the top.

Effects: Search engines are incredibly helpful for optimizing website traffic. However, positioning in these search engines is extremely important. People tend to only look at the first page of results from a search, which may be only the first 5 or 6 links listed. If your site ends up being thrown onto page 3, it will be hugely detrimental to your website traffic. Regardless of how relevant your material is, Google can still penalize you for not having your SSL certificate.

3.     Last, but certainly not least, an SSL certificate is important for your website because it increases security! If you believe you should invest in one simply to avoid Google’s slap on the wrist, we urge you to consider the security benefits of SSLs as well. Without one, private information on anything from a check-out page for making purchases to a simple contact form is at a greater risk of being accessed. 

Effects: Protecting your viewers’ sensitive information and warding off cybercriminals goes a long way! Cyber-attacks, bad actors, and other malicious internet threats are a growing concern. Protecting your online business and internet assets is crucial for not only your site’s safety, but also for its reputation. With SSL certificates, people can see a trusted encryption is in use, giving your website a sense of credibility.

Always remember that building trust and brand power helps your business reach its full potential! When you think this way, it makes potentially tough business decisions much easier to make.

 

Heather. (2018, July 28). This is Why You Need SSL by July 2018 – Google Changes | WordXpress. Retrieved from https://wordx.press/why-you-need-ssl-by-july-2018-google-changes/

Hitadmin. (2018, June 11). Trusted SSL Certificate: Why your website needs it before July 2018. Retrieved from https://hyperspaceit.com/hit-blog/ssl-certificate-why-your-website-needs-before-july/

Sharma, T. (2018, June 18). Why Google is Forcing You To Have SSL Certificate on Your Websites. Retrieved from https://serverguy.com/security/google-forcing-ssl-certificate-websites/

Guiding Principles for Ethics in Marketing: Keeping Our Eyes on the Horizon

Business marketing is defined as the research, promotion and sales of products or services. Pretty straightforward.

Except that it isn’t!

Trying to persuade consumers to believe that a business is valuable (even with the best intentions, we are technically manipulating customer perception) can put us smack in the middle of a moral gray area.

While the benefits of honing in on your marketing efforts can be huge—boosting brand awareness ultimately leads to increased sales—it is critically important to remain cognizant of the means by which we influence others.

This is especially significant considering that the marketing world is ever-changing, and the use of technology is becoming more and more prevalent. The average person is not exactly familiar with how businesses use their information to target them through advertising.

If you’re wondering what the harm is in this arrangement, consider that when customers are kept in the dark, it makes it impossible to form a mutually trusting relationship between people and businesses. When marketing practices are unethical, everyone eventually suffers.

Here’s a handy summary of what constitutes unethical marketing practices:

·      False or exaggerated claims

·      Misleading facts or a distortion of reality

·      Withholding important information or side effects

·      Slandering rivals

·      Discriminatory messages

·      Exploitation

So how do you optimize your results without trading away your brand’s integrity?

1.     If you are guided by a single principle when it comes to ethics in marketing, let it be this: Practicing ethics requires the distinction between good and bad/right and wrong, regardless of the legality of the situation.
From a business standpoint, you should ask yourself, “Am I doing more harm than good?” (Penn, 2018). If having no regard for others is the price for achieving success, you can be sure a business is falling short ethically.

2.     Another excellent guiding principle is to concentrate on promoting sincerity and fairness.
This requires balancing the company’s financial interests with social responsibility (Ethical Marketing). In short: Make money, but think of others while you do it.

Simple enough, right? Not quite! Ethically speaking, there are still a few loose ends.

Artificial Intelligence

It’s no secret that technological innovation can be both a blessing and a burden. Looking ahead, artificial intelligence (AI) appears to be the next morally ambiguous entity we have to prepare for.

AI can rapidly recognize patterns and meaning in human behavior, which is advantageous when incorporated into marketing practices. However, the amount of sensitive personal data that is being collected on people is unprecedented.

We’re not just talking about a person’s geo-location or knowing her go-to online shopping sites. The algorithms can (and will) pick up on your values, impulses, vulnerabilities and motivations. AI knows you so well, in fact, that advertising can be tailored in a way that controls and accurately predicts your behavior. It’s like having a data-driven, algorithm-comprised follower that knows everything about you, but you know nothing about them.

Generally, people care about protecting personal information and maintaining a certain level of privacy. Collecting sensitive data has become all the more worrisome considering the prevalence of data misuse, breaches, and threatened cyber security (Facebook, we’re looking at you).

At its best, AI can be a great tool for connecting people with exactly what they’re looking for. While the pay-off of using AI is rewarding, with powerful technology comes great responsibility. As we wade out into these uncharted waters, what we need is to form an infallible set of ethical guidelines that instill transparency and allow people to be a part of the process rather than be targeted blindly.

The most important take-away from this is that taking the moral high ground can actually give you a significant competitive advantage. As we’ve talked about before, being upfront and honest can actually create a more trusting and long-lasting relationship with your customers, especially with millennials. Sticking to ethical guidelines can build you a promising reputation (valuable) and ultimately, foster brand loyalty (priceless).  

Penn, C. S. (2018, January 05). What is ethics in marketing? Retrieved from http://www.christopherspenn.com/2018/01/what-is-ethics-in-marketing/

Ethical Marketing | What is Ethical Marketing? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.marketing-schools.org/types-of-marketing/ethical-marketing.html

The Impact of the Facebook Data Breach

There were 2.2 billion active Facebook users at the end of the first quarter of 2018.

This means 2.2 billion people trusted Facebook to store a substantial cache of their private information.

This definitely makes the Facebook data breach quite the wake-up call for Facebook and all of its users. In case you aren’t familiar with what happened, here’s a quick recap-

A data mining company, Cambridge Analytica, collected profile data from tens of millions of users to build psychological profiles and ultimately influence elections. This was done with the help of Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American psychology professor at Cambridge University. The data was collected through an app called thisisyourdigitallife, built by Kogan separately from his work at the university. Hundreds of thousands of users agreed to have their data collected for academic use.

What wasn’t foreseen was that this app would also collect information from the test-takers’ online friends. Facebook’s platform allowed for the collection of friends’ data to improve user experience and prevented it from being sold or used for advertising. In the end, 87 million people were likely affected by this breach. Facebook even believes most users have, at the very least, had their public profile information dug into by scam artists and/or experienced cyber security threats at some point. 

So what does this mean?

Your privacy has been violated. Facebook—your favorite way to relax at the end of the day, your collection of irreplaceable photos and memories, your outlet for self-expression, the way you connect with family and friends—feels less safe.

In the last few years, Facebook has become an extremely effective marketing and advertising tool. From a business perspective, this platform acts as a direct route to audiences and holds an absolute wealth of information on target markets. This is all great stuff—except that Facebook users never got a chance to opt out of being targeted or having their private information collected.

So what’s best for the business isn’t always best for customers. This means we’re running into an issue with ethics in marketing.

How will Facebook deal with this ethical crossroads?

Facebook has come to the realization that being a social media giant means they have huge social responsibilities—with global consequences.

Facebook has already gone to great lengths to remedy this situation. In the months since the data breach, Facebook has been in damage limitation mode, updating security to protect user data and even banishing 200 apps through their site-wide audit.

Nearly all of Facebook’s users have received a message titled, “Protecting your Information,” which informed users what apps they use and what kind of information is being shared. Privacy policies have been updated to restrict access to profile information from third-party apps. They have also eliminated the ability to search users by entering an email address or phone number.

But how does this impact the marketing industry?

It’s not just Facebook who felt the backlash from data misuse—most businesses are feeling it, too. With new privacy controls, less potent targeting, and weaker consumer data, media performance through Facebook is not expected to do quite as well as it has in years past.

What’s the next move for businesses?

While Facebook may not be able to reach audiences to the same degree, the fact of the matter is that Facebook is still by far the most efficient social network platform with the ability to reach the greatest numbers.

So keep using Facebook. Use customer relationship management (CRM) systems and create custom and lookalike audiences. Use your own data to help grow awareness and engagement. 

Additionally, it isn’t a bad idea to expand your horizons. Try out other tools, like Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and YouTube. Diversify your portfolio and continue creating content. This can improve your overall results.

Biggest takeaway: You can still build your brand while Facebook rebuilds trust.

Anderson, M. (2018, April 06). Facebook privacy scandal explained. Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/facebook-privacy-scandal-explained-1.3874533

Wang, F. (2018, April 02). What the Facebook Data Breach Means for Brands. Retrieved from https://www.likeable.com/blog/2018/what-the-facebook-data-breach-means-for-brands/

 

 

Artificial Intelligence: Why We Shouldn’t Fear This New Marketing Frontier

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the development of computer systems and machine learning to perform tasks that usually require human capabilities. AI gathers an incredible amount of data and can identify patterns and themes to develop insights and solutions.

In addition to being able to recognize marketing concepts and solutions, AI can also interpret emotion and communication, just like a human would. It can predict common occurrences, trends, reactions and responses. Ultimately, it understands causations and how likely these events are to repeat.

Don’t freak out just yet.

You don’t have to see AI as an opponent. Instead, see it as a business advantage. You are on the same team! With AI, more can be accomplished in far less time. AI essentially eliminates the tireless busywork of compiling data and conducting human analyses, allowing you to boost return on investment and your brand’s performance without exhausting your efforts.

Here are just some of the competencies of this efficient, results-driven technology:

·      More effective online ads. AI has intelligent algorithms for advertising that collect information about the type of ads people respond to. Using keyword searches, social profiles, and other online data, AI is able to produce better outcomes with online advertising. Rather than bombarding internet users with a million potentially irrelevant ads, AI can personalize their experience, making advertisements more effective.

·      Refined targeting. Audience analytics are so specialized with AI that they can capture insights beyond demographic information. Through analyzing internet users’ search patterns, AI identifies the key areas of interest. It processes behaviors and trends on an individual basis for more concentrated targeting. If you have been searching for vacation getaways for the past couple weeks, for example, AI can help direct you to your ideal location, as well as promote flights, hotels, and things to do in the area. AI’s refined targeting helps you find what you were looking for more efficiently.

·      Improved customer service experience. AI bots play a huge role in problem-solving and customer retention and engagement by providing consumers with immediate answers and information at any point in time during their interaction on a website. This allows employees to redirect focus and better assist potential new customers by already understanding what they are seeking.  

Accepting that artificial intelligence is here to help is the first step to enhancing your business practices. With these processes of continuous machine learning, marketing efforts can reach greater heights than ever before. AI solutions will optimize your outreach, improve conversions, be capable of rational decision-making, and effectively minimize waste. Save your time and efforts for what’s necessary, and leave the rest to powerful technology.

We also want to emphasize that this powerful tool can be used without compromising our moral principles.

Google Assistant is an example of a virtual helper powered by AI. This technology can be used across a user’s devices and can even engage in two-way conversations. Google Assistant helps you schedule tasks and to-dos, calls and texts your contacts, answers your questions, and performs over one million other actions. This is a great example of how AI makes life easier and improves productivity.

AI is even being used to better the world. Thorn is a prime example of artificial intelligence practicing good ethics and making a real difference. Founded by Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Thorn uses AI to rescue children from sex trafficking and stop the spread of child sexual abuse material. By the end of 2017, Thorn had identified 5,894 child sex trafficking victims, rescued 103 children from sexually abusive situations, and disrupted 6,608 bad actors. None of these impacts would be possible without the capabilities of artificial intelligence.

The novelty and change brought about by big tech innovations can certainly be intimidating, but learning what artificial intelligence has to offer and how to use it responsibly can be valuable to businesses as well as human beings. AI has unlimited potential to help us with our daily efforts and achieve more than we’ve ever thought possible.    

 

Manthei, L. (2018, May 29). What Is Artificial Intelligence Marketing? Retrieved from https://www.emarsys.com/en/resources/bog/artificial-intelligence-marketing-solutions/

O'Bannon, E. (n.d.). Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Marketing Data Analysis. Retrieved from https://www.meetcortex.com/blog/artificial-intelligence/applications-artificial-intelligence-marketing-data-analysis

 

 

Millennials: A Guide to Getting their Attention Through Content Marketing

The Generation Ys of the world, also known as millennials, are accustomed to all things fast-paced and ever-changing. Technology and millennials are inseparable, and they’ve created a world with more connections and fewer boundaries than ever before. Growing up under these conditions has yielded some pretty unique personality traits—all of which have been the center of abundant commentary.

Besides being known for a surplus of confidence and self-absorption, for example, millennials have evolved to become excellent multi-taskers. They are tech-savvy. They are image-obsessed—in both the literal and figurative sense. Also noteworthy is the fact that work-life balance is more important to them than to previous generations.

Perhaps most unique, millennials are driven by a need for peer approval and a desire to fit in. They celebrate themselves with endless selfies (studies show that they are expected to take around 25,000 in their lifetime—that’s about one selfie per day) and feel a deep sense of obligation to share regular personal updates on social media.

So the real question is, what implications does this personality profile have on the future of marketing? Obviously, social media plays a huge role in everyday life; however, treating millennials as a general niche with mass marketing has been shown to be a waste of time and dollars.

In our experience, there are approaches that can effectively appeal to their distinct preferences.

§  AUTHENTICITY. Say what you will about millennials—this is a generation that values the truth. These young men and women are all about feeling and connecting, and crave authentic, real-life scenarios they can identify with.
What you can take away: If you can include examples of diversity and social issues in your advertising, and then blend in honesty, irony, humor, or optimism, you have yourself a winning combination.

§  INFLUENCE. Millennials may catch shade for their inflated egos, but with that extra confidence comes tremendous optimism. When these two traits meet, it yields a person who wants to make a difference in the world and be an instrument of change.
What you can take away: Think about how your product or service can meet these desires. Is your product better for the environment than similar brands? Does a percentage of consumer purchases benefit people in need?

§  ACCEPTANCE. Why are peer approval and social acceptance so important to millennials? It may have to do with being raised by parents who were generous with praise. Whatever the reason, feeling understood and accepted for who they are is their happy place.

What you can take away: Now that you know you’re marketing to an audience who values recognition and approval, let it influence your brand’s voice, but remember—they also value authenticity, so one of the goals of your content should always be to maintain trust.

§  INSTANT GRATIFICATION. Millennials have reshaped our culture into one that demands convenience and accessibility. Their phones are basically extensions of themselves, and they’re constantly using them to consume information.

What you can take away: This audience is hungry for information, so your efforts should be mobile-friendly and offer fast, reliable, thorough solutions. For example, a millennial will almost always opt to watch a video on how to do something rather than read about it. After all, video is faster and easier.

According to the Journal of Behavioral Studies in business, “The key words for Gen Y are ‘collaborate, connect, co-create, and control’...mostly, with their peers” (Williams and Page).

If you want to pique the interest of the Internet Generation, place an emphasis on relationships with peers while utilizing the allure of technology innovations.

Resources:
Williams, K. C., & Page, R. A. Marketing to the Generations.

http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/10575.pdf

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

According to a 2012 Oxford University study, 50% of your potential happiness is based on genetics. Another 10% is influenced by your circumstances (like geography, family, health, etc.). That leaves you able to control 40% of your potential happiness. Today’s blog is about that 40% slice.

Having started my business nearly two months ago, I’m beginning to understand how critically important it is to have a healthy balance between my personal life and my career. I’ve noticed lately how my internal pendulum needs to swing between both pieces of my life, because each plays a major role in my senses of accomplishment, purpose and happiness.

Because we are human beings living in an imperfect world, it’s easy for us to forget how the slightest imbalance of our internal pendulum can impact our colleagues, family members, friends, and most importantly, ourselves! Burnout in one aspect of our lives means trouble in another. There’s no getting around it.

To maintain a sense of peace and happiness, we have to monitor our work-life balance constantly. For many reasons, it’s not always possible. But it doesn’t mean we can’t work at it.

Major corporations in the United States are starting to embrace this concept. Why? Because happy employees are productive employees.

Quick—what do you think of when you imagine people working at a Fortune 500 company? You see money. You see suits. You see long hours spent at a desk in front of a computer, torturous commutes and back-to-back meetings.

And yet: “The Fortune 500-dominated Corporate Executive Board ranks work-life balance as the second most important workplace attribute.” Come again?

According to a report by the Corporate Executive Board, which represents 80% of Fortune 500 companies, “employees who feel they have good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t.” These companies have begun offering employees opportunities towork from home during the week. They’ve started to cut hours on Friday afternoons. They’ve been offering catered lunches and team bonding exercises to improve morale and establish genuine camaraderie.

If Fortune 500 companies place such importance on work-life balance (and therefore on mental health), then why shouldn’t you?

I know what you’re thinking. I don’t run my own business, and I most certainly cannot ask for this kind of treatment in my own work place.

Forbes highlighted a recent study performed by Stanford where they address this stigma. Workers typically believe that if they ask for “special treatment,” it would harm their reputation and might even mean the end of their career. Employees think that giving in to this type of request would mean the end of productivity in the workplace.

I say to you and your workplace: RISE ABOVE THE STIGMAS! A healthy balance can be achieved between happiness and productivity. Equilibrium has to be maintained by closely evaluating and reevaluating the systems set in place between employee and employer, but it most certainly works when done correctly.

So what about happiness at home? Sources say we need to ditch technology when we finally make it through the front door. Apparently, 45% of the time we spend awake—15 hours and 45 minutes for the average adult—is wrapped up in using technology. That doesn’t leave much time for connecting with others (or yourself).

So find a thing. Your thing could be collapsing into a comfy couch and curling up with a good book. Or a loved one, furry or otherwise. It could be cooking a delicious meal for your family, or maybe going for a walk and using that time for reflection and meditation.

Whatever it is you do to unplug, make space for it in your life—at work if possible, and at home always. You own a body, mind and soul. When you take care of all three, you’re able to recognize the next exciting adventure or opportunity that lies ahead!

THE RIGHT CHANNELS

You know how websites have that little cluster of social media icons in the right-hand corner? When you browse, shop or research online, you may notice that one website links to a brand’s Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts. Another company might invite you to connect on Google + and LinkedIn. Yet another may encourage you to follow its Pinterest and Instagram accounts, while some brands have icons for all of these platforms.

As the owner or marketing manager of a small business, you may be asking yourself: Which social media channels will help us engage with our target audience successfully? It’s a good question.

When it comes to acing social media, start with these guidelines:

  1. Beware of overcommitting. The FOMO (fear of missing out) effect can mislead you. We’ve seen businesses under its influence create more social media accounts than they actually care to manage. Unless it’s your full-time focus, maintaining brand consistency across multiple channels is surprisingly demanding. Each platform has its own unique “personality” and is useful for different reasons. Don’t overcommit. When it comes to social media, it is worse to have a static social presence than a non-existent one. In other words, it’s better to manage one social media account very well than to poorly manage several of them.
  1. Figure out your goals. Seriously—take some time to think about your company’s goals and how a social media presence could help you reach them. Here are some wheel-turners:
  • Do I want potential customers to visit my website?
  • Do I want to increase awareness of my business?
  • Do I want to share my company’s unique culture?
  • Do I want to manage and invite people to upcoming events?
  • Do I want to advertise products/services to a specific market?
  • Do I want customers to be able to reach out with questions/concerns?
  • Do I want to be able to update a fan base with relevant information?

Once you’ve chosen a platform that fits your needs, study how that platform behaves. Watch how other companies engage with their audiences, and also note where they fall short so you don’t make the same mistakes. Apply, observe, adjust and repeat. If your efforts are deliberate and consistent, you’ll find success.

  1. Identify your target audience. Without this piece, the rest is moot. If you’re not marketing to your business’s demographic, you might as well be talking to a wall.Read this blog for insights about pinpointing your audience.

Once you’ve nailed down your business goals and identified your target audience, you’re ready to decide which social media platform is the best fit to reach your consumers where they live.

  1. Figure out where your audience is and meet them there. Identifying your target demographic allows you to reach them through the channels they use. Each social media channel has a somewhat distinct primary demographic.

For instance, Instagram is a social network tool that caters to a younger audience through imagery and hashtags. According to recent polls, there are over 77 million Instagram users in the U.S. alone, and more than half of them are under the age of 30. Though this platform continues to dramatically expand, sources predict it will hit its peak in the near future and younger audiences will gravitate toward newer social platforms, such as Snapchat and Vine. That’s right—even social media gets wrinkles.

Facebook, however, has a background all of its own. Born in 2004, it’s the oldest in its peer group. At first, it was only available to students at Harvard University (where it was invented). Then Facebook expanded to allow users from nearby universities, then most U.S. universities, and then to anyone over the age of 13 with a valid email address. Today, it’s the top choice for catering to a more mature market. Recent studies state that 58% of adults use Facebook. So rather than going stale and petering out, Facebook has reinvented itself by becoming a powerful tool for businesses that want to advertise and measure metrics (clicks, hits, conversions and so on).

  1. Engage expertly. Users follow business accounts that have relevant and interesting content. It might seem obvious, but this simple fact is often overlooked. If your page becomes saturated with self-promotions, your business will lose engagement.Luckily, there’s data to help you understand the impact of your posts. If you have a business page on Facebook, for example, you can check your metrics to keep an eye on the success of your posts and ads. When read correctly, the data helps you learn which posts get the most engagement so you can tweak your strategy accordingly.

For most industries, we recommend abiding by the 80/20 rule when it comes to your page posts. Roughly 80% of your content should be interesting, informative and industry-related while 20% of your content should promote and advertise your brand.

Know that the world of social media cannot be fully understood in one day. It takes time and effort to grasp the complexities of this growing, changing phenomenon. The goal is to make it work for you.

Would you like to know more about other platforms or how to engage YOUR audience through social media? Let us know! Drop us a line at info@profectamarketing.com.

Resources:

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/12-social-media-facts-statistics-know-2016/

https://www.marketingtechblog.com/social-media-demographic-infographic/

The History of SEO

In a world where search engine optimization (SEO) is becoming the pinnacle of web presence and brand awareness, fresh and evolving content is crucial for keeping brands afloat in a sea of competitors (it seems we really like our fish metaphors over here). Whether we like it or not, search engines impact our digital world and dictate how marketers work each and every day. Most businesses can’t afford to let their web content go stale. So where do you start?

With search engines.

A QUICK BACKGROUND

Where, oh where would we be without the web browsers we use for online searches—Yahoo, Bing, and the great giant, Google? Get this: Google alone has reported an average of 2.3 million searches per second, with 1.17 billion searches per month. Though our brains can barely comprehend numbers this staggering, they do paint a picture of the amount of time people are spending online.

In the early days of search engines, businesses could get noticed by going into the back end of their websites to “keyword pound,” or enter every conceivable keyword even remotely related to their business. When consumers typed one or more of those keywords into their search engine of choice, that business popped up. Easy.

It doesn’t work that way anymore.

What happened? What changed, and why? The short, very simple answer is “oversaturation.” At some point, everyone realized having a website was important. Considering there are currently over one billion websites on record, search engines could no longer operate efficiently based off the “keyword pound” principle. This method simply became inefficient at generating relevant and correct information for users, which to be fair, was frustrating for them. Now search engines actually penalize websites that contain a high volume of keywords per page. How? By shoving them way down the totem pole in organic rankings. Tricky.

“That’s when search engines did something unprecedented … they manipulated their algorithms to reflect how people interacted with websites.”

In 2015, there was a big push for “exact keywords” to nudge search rankings in the desired direction. This meant each unique page on a website included just one or two keywords that were very specific to each page’s content. As a result, every business owner, blogger and entrepreneur started changing their website’s SEO to avoid getting a slap on the wrist.

This was a good start, but it turned out it still wasn’t good enough for the end user. That’s when search engines did something unprecedented: They stopped defining a functioning website by how many clicks it gets. Instead, they manipulated their algorithms to reflect how people interacted with websites.

This is amazing, because now data can determine something previously intangible—user satisfaction. Now we know how long a user stays on a page and therefore whether or not that user found what s/he was looking for. Thanks to algorithms, Google knows how much time your target audience spends on your site and when and how often they return.

Other details the new algorithms measure to determine your site’s functionality:

  • How long does it take your site to load a page?
  • Have you compressed your image files?
  • Are there meta tags* ingrained in all of the pages of your website?
  • How much content is on each page?
  • How often is your content updated?

*Meta tag – the snippet of content in a page’s code that tells search engines what the page is about.

And this brings us to the present, where website functionality and content relevance have become the biggest factors to consider for search rankings.

HOW’S YOUR CONTENT?

If users leave your site because it takes too long for a page to load, or they find stale or outdated content, the fact that they clicked in the first place no longer matters. Even if your website functions seamlessly, your content still needs your love and attention. Think of it this way: Why would someone visit a website to see content that never changes? If a person wished to be informed, why would they return to your site if they always knew exactly what to expect?

Good organic content strikes a balance between being informative, engaging and helpful to users. And it should be generated often.

The most popular solution is blogs. When it comes to blogs,

  • Strive to be specific and informative.
    Don’t keyword pound. Don’t add fluff just to hit a certain word count. Search engines are too smart for that now!
  • Be thoughtful in your messaging.
    Think about YOUR users. What are they looking for when it comes to your industry? This is your opportunity to expand your business services or products in a new vein.
  • Feel free to use industry terminology—just explain.
    If someone is new to your product or service, s/he may not understand your lingo. Don’t talk over anyone’s head. Be user-friendly.
  • Be a source of information, even if means no immediate sale.
    A trusted business with high user return rates brings your organic search engine ranking up. And that’s good.

Was this topic useful to you? There’s more where this came from.

If you struggle with a specific marketing question or topic, let us know and we can 1. Write a blog about it and 2. Meet for coffee this week and see what we can do to help.

Resources:

Smith, C. (2016, May). 100 Amazing Google Statistics and Facts. Retrieved May 24, 2016, fromhttp://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-gigantic-list-of-google-stats-and-facts/