Last December I attended a webinar with Main Street America where Lindsey Wallace spoke about her organization’s approach to community transformation based on four pillars:
2. Economic Vitality
As we juggle multiple crises from health care to economic prosperity, climate change, and inequality, I believe this is a model that can lead to a sustainable future for communities that can rally together behind some common purpose.
The first pillar Organization calls for strong leadership and broad community engagement to identify priorities and forge partnerships across sectors.
Economic Vitality invites a diverse economic base, and smart investments that contribute to a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Design plays a critical role in creating an inviting and inclusive atmosphere that incorporates historic preservation, energy efficiency, and accessibility.
And Promotion is all about marketing the community’s defining assets and unique attributes while supporting “buy local”.
Business trends that will continue to shape our communities are the expansion of broadband, remote work, e-commerce, and lifestyle changes that are here to stay like for instance slowing down, investing in self-care, and developing contingency plans.
Complementary brands with a similar audience or marketing goals often engage in collaborative marketing, in other words combining resources and efforts, to amplify outreach and boost sales. Benefits of collaborative marketing include reaching out to new audiences, cutting costs, combining expertise, and benefiting from brand association. Successful collaborations enhance customer experience and sometimes even offer products and services that are exclusive to the said collaboration.
As the holidays approach, companies think creatively about marketing their products and services.
Collaboration with complementary brands may include:
Exclusive deals and discounts
Blog guest posting
Social media shout-outs
Frequently bought together items on Amazon for instance may give small businesses some workable ideas.
Here are some examples of collaborations that we love:
deals and discounts partnerships between hotels and ski resorts;
joint advertising between apparel and outdoor activities;
partnerships between gyms and personal trainers;
joint events between bookstores and coffee shops;
cooking classes hosted by farms and restaurants.
Finding the right partnership is key to a successful marketing campaign. Collaborative alliances ought to be designed as a win-win situation for both parties. The terms of participation must be clarified since the get-go. Often times these efforts lead to ongoing cooperation.
Ogilvy released a report called “Hope Creates Impact: Six Shifts from the Intersection of Culture and Commerce” that analyzes the shifts and the brands’ response to them in making the world a better place. As a backdrop, the company highlights the intersection of “Apocalypse Now” and “Hope for Tomorrow”, two co-existing and competing trends defining our current time.
As detailed in the report, the shifts were identified after months of tracking the intersection of culture and commerce and discovering what has made an impact. Fashion, movies, art, music, advertisements, new product launches, business, gossip, and news – they were all analyzed to uncover ways in which human behaviors, desires, and motivators have shifted during these tumultuous times.
Six key shifts were identified:
1. Beta-Testing Self 2. Kind Connection 3. Slow Down 4. Net Positive 5. Heal Yourself 6. Feel Alive Again
Beta-Testing Self is a shift in how people approach life choices, including career opportunities – we are all now in a state of permanent beta-testing, exploring new things and new avenues. Brands are capitalizing on this trend and enabling self-making and adaptability.
Kind Connection is a shift in how people view relationships. To quote from the Ogilvy report, “The pandemic was a big driver of this trend, as it equated solitude with safety. But more than that, the lockdown brought clarity and fresh perspective to our relationships. We realized who our true friends were, and we deepened our connection with them.” A manifestation of this trend is what Ogilvy calls “COVID weddings” – the ballroom ceremonies were swiftly replaced with intimate affairs that only included a handful of guests.
Slow Down is a shift that, once imposed by the pandemic lockdown, has forced us to re-assess the cost of the old way of doing things. Moving to the country, embracing remote work, and other lifestyle choices are here to stay. Intimate, outdoor, and mindful experiences are what people are looking for, and brands are capitalizing on that.
Net Positive is a way of doing business which puts back more into society, the environment and the global economy than it takes out. The pandemic has accelerated this trend. According to the Ogilvy report, “ninety percent of consumers believe that companies have a responsibility to take care of the planet and its people.” That is something that brands cannot ignore.
Heal Yourself is a shift caused by the pandemic that has led people to consider their health as something crucial to protect. People are making lifestyle choices and are also creating contingency plans like never before. And brands are called upon to enable meaningful changes.
Feel Alive Again is a shift emerging as we come out of the pandemic lockdown, and once again seek excitement and experiencing life to its fullest extent. The Ogilvy report mentions The Immersive Van Gogh Experience in Chicago and New York City as one such new way of feeling alive in a post-pandemic world. It is estimated that the experience economy will be worth $12B or more by 2023.
Content marketing is a critical component of digital marketing given its effectiveness in increasing brand awareness, engaging online communities, generating new leads, and increasing sales.
What makes content marketing effective is that people trust editorials more than they trust advertorials. In essence, content marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on creating, publishing and distributing creative content for a targeted audience to generate leads and sales while informing and entertaining. Traditional marketing focuses on pitching products and services, while content marketing focuses on publishing engaging content.
Although content marketing gained traction during the digital age, the practice is nothing new. In 1895 John Deere founded The Furrow, a magazine designed to educate farmers about the latest advancement in the field, and help them find solutions to their problems. The magazine continues to exist today, not just in print but in digital format as well; it has a large social media platform, and is published in several languages around the world. The magazine helped crystallize the John Deere brand, and grow its market.
Forms of content marketing include: how to guides, white papers, newsletters, presentations, blog posts, social media posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, product descriptions, reviews, testimonials, and others.
#GEInstaWalk is a clever example of content marketing which allows the company’s Instagram followers to take a peek into GE’s facilities where cutting-edge technology is being manufactured. Amazon’s Building Your Book for Kindle free e-book is another clever example designed as a free guide to creating and publishing e-books. This is a great tutorial during the consideration phase when aspiring authors are weighing in their options. An example you might be familiar with is the Phyllo Shells recipes on the back of the package – the recipe itself might be enticing enough to make one buy the product, or vice versa. This isn’t something unique to Phyllo Shells however; there are plenty of food brands that offer recipes on the back of their package. It’s an ingenious form of content marketing.
Two local examples that stand out are the Catskill Dream Team’s real estate blog, and The Roxbury Motel’s whimsical themed rooms as featured on social media. How to Buy a Home in One Year: A Step-by-Step Guide, for instance, educates prospective buyers, but it also builds expectations of a lifestyle, and that’s exactly what a real estate blog is about. The Roxbury Motel’s internationally renowned themed rooms also have stories to tell. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for instance, designed as a tribute to Audrey Hepburn, has the walls stained to match Tiffany’s flagship store on 5th Avenue. The chandelier that hangs above the bed matches the mini chandelier in the Tiffany window at the opening of the movie when Audrey is eating a croissant and staring in the window. The owners of the motel confess that in their twenties they would go around Manhattan re-enacting scenes from the movie. The following Audrey/Truman Capote quote guided the design of the room: “Tiffany’s! Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.” These fun facts shared on social media are bold examples of clever content marketing.
Moz identified four phases of content marketing, which one of them carrying out distinctive goals and types of content to pursue:
Align your content style, tone and voice with your brand’s personality (set up guidelines)
Documentation (governance rules and workflow)
Content ideation, creation, promotion and distribution (team, tools and infrastructure)
Analytics (metrics to evaluate success)
Depending on the size of your project, building an adequate infrastructure will help carry out the tactics and the execution of your content strategy, both creation and distribution. Often enough the work is outsourced to content strategists, writers, editors, and coordinators equipped with tools to designing and implementing an effective strategy.
In sum, content marketing works because:
It provides valuable information;
It provides entertainment;
It sparks conversations that bring people together;
It forms communities;
It converts potential customers into actual customers;
Writers in the Mountains (WIM) introduces a six week long Business Writing workshop with Dara Lurie, running from August 11 to September 15, 2016. The class will be held Thursdays from 4 to 6 pm at the Phoenicia Public Library.
This class, dubbed Author Breakthrough, is a program for small business owners, artists and freelance writers who wish to create valuable content and great marketing copy. No one understands the heart and soul of your business better than you do. Now it’s time to communicate your vision using effective stories and expert content. You do not have to be a professional writer to create great content. The most important function of your content – whether it’s a book, blog, story or expert article – is to connect with your core message and bring that message into sharp focus for your audience.
In Author-Breakthrough you’ll have access to the experience of like-minded entrepreneurs who will provide the valuable feedback you need to develop and refine your message. The class includes engaging writing and dialoguing activities, content development sessions, creative think-tank environment to develop and test your ideas. By the end of the program you’ll have ready-to-publish articles, stories, or blogposts, and client-attracting copy for email or social media posts as well as an action-plan for best use of your content and copy.
Dara Lurie is an author, workshop leader and book coach who helps writers of all levels discover their passionate and original voices in stories. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Film & Theater from Vassar College and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Hunter College. Her first book, “Great Space of Desire: Writing for Personal Evolution” is a memoir and creative guide for writers. For over twelve years, Dara has facilitated writing workshops and retreats in diverse locations from college classrooms in New York City and the Hudson Valley to an open-air pavilion in the Costa Rican Rainforest. This year, she launched a new online mentorship program for small-business owners who want to create inspired content and marketing copy to grow their business.
To register, call Jean Stone at (607) 326-4802, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. To register online, visit writersinthemountains.org. Class fee is $100, if you register and pay by July 21, and $125 after that.
Writers in the Mountains is a 501 ( c ) (3) not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation and sharing of creative writing. Online at writersinthemountains.org.
A quick overview of what’s new and trending in the publishing and content marketing industries.
First and foremost, news from Amazon: Amazon authors may have received news about changes in the European Union (EU) tax laws regarding the taxation of digital products (including e-books). The Value Added Tax (VAT) used to be applied based on the seller’s country, but beginning January 1st this year the VAT is being applied based on the buyer’s country. Kindle authors were asked to re-visit their pricing strategies, and make adjustments moving forward.
Also, Amazon had gradually expanded its Kindle Unlimited services to include countries like Spain and Italy (since November 2014), France and Brazil (since December), and Canada and Mexico (since February). Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service that allows customers to read as many book as they like and keep them as long as they want for a monthly subscription fee. This is different from being an Amazon Prime member: anyone can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited services for a $9.99 monthly fee.
Authors who have enrolled their e-books in KDP Select, and have made their titles available to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library ought to know that all titles enrolled in KDP Select are automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited as well. Authors do get paid royalties once a customer has downloaded and read at least 10 percent of their books. But there are concerns that authors actually earn less, as a result of fierce competition from other titles (Kindle Unlimited currently has a library of over 750,000 titles). You can read more opinions about Kindle Unlimited here. To learn more about authors’ royalties, visit https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A3BQJE2QV37M1B.
Mark Coker from Smashwords listed his predictions for 2015, which, as expected, include the increase in digital reading and independent publishing, but also some unexpected considerations. I find particularly interesting Coker’s prediction that independent authors will in fact face increased competition from traditional publishers in 2015, and also the fact that Coker expects many more indie authors to just give up. Coker also thinks that major publishers will begin experimenting with free products in 2015, a strategy that has been far too common among indies. At the same time, Coker warns that freebies aren’t what they used to be, because there are so many free books already on the market. We’ll see what 2015 bears for both traditional and independent publishers.
Social media will continue to evolve and bring ever more changes to the way we’re doing business. The landscape is becoming so complex, that analysts recommend an increased specialization in this field. While integration across multiple platforms has been unavoidable for some time, 2015 is seen as the year brands can no longer avoid paying for ads on social media. Video sharing is rapidly spreading, and gaining more popularity. SlideShare is also becoming trendier, as it plans to introduce video sharing capabilities this year. As a novelty, Twitter and Facebook may introduce a “Buy” button so users can make purchases without leaving these platforms. According to trend analysts, in 2015 interactive brand personas will become ever more common. To read more about social media trends, visit http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-predictions-for-2015/.
How often do you review your ideal client profile? Do you do it once a year? Twice? Quarterly?
I am used to reviewing my client profile at the beginning of each year, when I also update my resume and re-assess my best products and services. It’s a process that helps me set a new direction for my professional goals in the year that is about to start. It gives me a fresh perspective.
Hence, I look at:
1. Who Is My Client?
If I understand my client’s business and what makes it unique, I can better serve his / her goals.
2. What Is My Client Looking for?
Is my client looking for marketing plans, white papers or other media products (i.e., newsletters, books, blogs, or websites)? Is he / she in need of brand enhancement or development? Perhaps strategic planning? Fundraising?
3. Where Are My Clients?
Are my prospective clients in the Catskills / Hudson Valley area? Or, are they in New York City? How do I facilitate a meeting?
4. When Is My Ideal Client In the Market? What Is His / Her Purchasing Behavior?
When is my prospective client most likely to re-vamp a website, publish a newsletter or a handbook, look for market research, organize events, or engage in strategic planning? How do my services respond to these needs?
5. How Do Prospective Clients Find Me?
Most of my clients are repeat clients. Others find me through referrals, word of mouth, business meetings, or social media.
Also, to better understand my clients, I regularly conduct surveys and gather insights. It’s important to me to know how my clients find me, what they like about my services, and what else they’d like to be offered.
What is your advice? How do you go about reviewing your ideal client profile?