7 Ways to incorporate media buying into your business plan

One of the most common questions we get from small and medium-sized businesses is how to craft a media buying plan tailored to their services. There is an unnecessary air of mystery around the process that can make media buying feel inaccessible to the average business owner. We have an entire department dedicated to business services marketing that can either handle the process for you, or empower you to do it yourself. To get you started, here are 7 quick and easy ways to begin incorporating media buying into your existing business services marketing plan.

1.Who are your personas and target audience: Media buying for business services starts with knowing your audience and the personas most likely to need your services. Before you invest a single dollar in a media buying spend, get clear on who you are talking to and where they are listening. By knowing your audience, you can spend less money on your campaigns, but maximize their effectiveness because your placements will be answering questions and directly targeting the right people.

2. Focus on time- and location-based targeting: Once you know who your audience is, you need to understand how to reach them. This is especially true when marketing business services. Understand whether your customers are shopping during business hours for their own companies, or whether they are confusing research at home, after hours. If your ads aren’t reaching them at the right time, they are going to waste. Tailor your media spend around the times and geographic areas that are most likely to yield results. The more you know about your target audience, the more effective you can be.

3. Set clear, measurable primary goals: Realize what you are trying to accomplish. Are you looking for leads? Trials? Sales? Brand awareness? The list goes on. Understand how your media buying fits into the marketing mix and what you hope to accomplish. We believe that if you can’t measure it, you shouldn’t do it — and this is no exception. Establish clear, time-bound, and trackable performance indicators. We encourage all of our clients to set up omni-channel marketing strategies that work together seamlessly to accomplish different goals. If you’re unsure how to do this, our services might be for you.

4. Understand your unpaid marketing potential: It might sound counterintuitive, but a good media buying strategy starts with knowing what you don’t need. Evaluate how your natural search results are performing and how your unpaid media on blogs and social media is impacting your brand, then only use paid media to fill in necessary gaps. Your media buying spend should work smarter, not harder for your dollar, which is why tracking everything is so important.

5. Understand how media fits into your creative, branding and content strategies: Anything you choose to invest in media buying should complement and support your work across other channels. A true omni-channel marketing strategy acknowledges that the customer journey doesn’t happen in silos. Customers move across devices, between content types, and through the purchase cycle more seamlessly than ever, so each of your marketing efforts should mirror and support each other — and ideally drive customers to other platforms to complete their journey.

6. Know the lingo: Take time to debunk any jargon, lingo, and marketing-speak surrounding your media buy. Even if you use an agency to support your business services marketing plan, it pays to understand what they are talking about. Knowing the difference between CPC and CPI can mean the difference in being over or under budget depending on how much money you have to spend. Never be afraid to ask questions. As a multi-platform agency, we are here to support your business — and that means helping you understand your marketing needs.

7. Programmatic and automated media buying: Last, but certainly not least, we encourage you explore programmatic or automated media buying opportunities. These emerging tools adapt your media spend to real-time data about your clients, campaigns and performance so you are spending just the right amount — not a penny more, or less. Click here to learn more about how these programs can support a more seamless and cost-efficient media buying experience.

New year, new trends: Break through social media noise in 2017

It seems there is always another trend to chase, another metric to follow, and another golden rule to adhere to, so we try to consolidate the most important pieces of information to help you make strong social media marketing decisions. Without further ado, here are our top five recommendations to break through the social media noise and clutter in 2017.
   1. Know your audience: Some brands are best suited for image-based social platforms (e.g., travel, retail). Some brands are best suited for education- or networking-based social platforms (e.g., financial services, education). You get the idea. It’s important to understand your audience so you can effectively choose which platforms to invest in and which platforms to steer away from. You don’t need to be everywhere for everyone to effectively use social media — you just need to be in front of the right people at the right time.

   2. Use every tool available: Once you pick a platform, use every single tool available to you. Facebook recently released a “donate” button for nonprofit organizations that can be added to event tags and fan pages, Snapchat just released customizable event filters to promote local and geo-based marketing efforts, and Instagram’s native image advertising seamlessly blends user-generated content with ads so effectively users don’t even know they are being served a campaign … just to name a few. Each platform has certain strengths, so carefully consider how you can use every tool int our toolbox to maximize your reach and customer engagement.

   3. Promote customer content: One of the most effective forms of social advertising — that also happens to be free — is promoting customer content. Simply sharing, commenting on, and promoting blog entries, social posts, and photos from past customers or potential customers can make your audience feel deeply connected to your brand and dramatically increase their likelihood to buy. For example, Nike is notorious for retweeting and liking budding athlete’s posts. When a first-time runner gets real-time social interaction as they post to the Nike+ app or Tweet about their run, they instantly feel connected to and supported by the brand in a real and authentic way that inspires action, it makes them feel good as an athlete, and will likely result in future goodwill and purchases.

   4. Test to invest: Because social media gives marketers access to such a large body of people, it’s an easy place to begin testing and targeting your marketing campaigns. Don’t invest in any type of social media campaign without testing it first. Almost every platform has built-in testing tools that allow you to run multiple variations at once, track KPIs, and measure your success over time. Ignore these at your own risk. Testing allows you to verify what content speaks to your audience and helps you break through the competition and clutter.

   4. A small part of the whole: Realize that social media needs to be part of your larger multi-channel marketing strategy that should ideally extend on- and offline, across traditional and non-traditional marketing platforms, and seamlessly support your customer no matter what information they need. Social media often links one channel to another, making it an integral part of cross-channel marketing strategy. Social media drives people from one platform to another and pushes people naturally toward the point of sale or call to action, so choose your success metrics accordingly. Social media can be very effective at driving customers into certain parts of the funnel, rather than simply going for the sale.

To understand where your brand fits into the world of social media, and how we can help you break through the clutter, check out our capabilities as a social media marketing agency. We believe that social media is a strong foundation in any marketing campaign and want to get social with you today.

What to Expect in Marketing in 2011 and what you need to know

If 2010 was up for a marketing superlative, it would definitely be voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” This past year, we saw the launch of the iPad, the expansion of the Facebook “Like” button to other popular websites and the rise of singer-songwriter Justin Bieber, who can thank YouTube for the fact that he can now retire at age 16. But while 2010 focused on finding new, bigger and better vehicles to market products and services, 2011 will focus on tying them all together. Gunning for the “Best-All-Around” title, 2011 will be the year that we see businesses weave online, print, broadcast, mobile, and social media initiatives together into a greater marketing plan to achieve bigger goals. And the leaders of the pack will be those who recognize this need to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Read on to find out more about Covenant’s projections for 2011, and how big-picture thinking could lead to a big ROI.

1. Video

In the next three years, 90 percent of the Internet will be video, according to Cisco Systems. Video has become a powerful way to talk directly to your target audience and build upon or strengthen the relationship they’ve already established with your brand. Video can also be repurposed on multiple platforms, from your company’s website to its Facebook Fan page. Your customers can even share the videos with their friends and family by reposting links or by embedding the video itself onto other Web pages. And the unique thing about video is that it can still be viewed years after it is initially posted.

There are many ways that video can be utilized on the Web to not only promote your brand, but also to establish it as the go-to resource in your industry. If you’re a healthcare facility, add a five-minute tutorial on tips to avoid the flu before cold season (such as washing your hands, just like Mom always said). If you’re a homebuilder, show short clips of a remodeled cabinet you did, with before and after shots. The idea is to think of a topic that will interest your customers, and then hire a professional to do the work. While flip cameras are great for taping your grandma doing the electric slide at your cousin’s wedding, they won’t deliver the same professional look and feel that a production company can. In order to effectively position your products and services in your marketplace, it’s crucial to get the right message, sound and light in place before you start rolling.

2. Digital Marketing

The last time someone in our office used a phone book was to get to the last Sweet’N Low packet on a hard-to-reach shelf. And we would venture to say the same is true for many of our clients (unless they prefer Splenda). More often than not, consumers are looking online to gather information and pricing for the products or services they need. Therefore, companies will need to move their rates, discount packages, services, and offerings where their customers are looking for it: online.

In addition to making it easier for your customers to include you in their budget for the upcoming year, it’s also more important now than ever to include digital media in your own. With new channels and capabilities being developed daily on the Internet, websites are becoming far more complex than the five-page, static HTML pages they once were. They’re incorporating instant messaging, applications, video, podcasting, gaming, blogs, social networking, and dynamically generated content pulled by an RSS feed from other sites. All of these separate initiatives are great to keep your audience coming back for more, but this year, business leaders will need to develop an overall digital marketing plan to play out how each initiative will work together to achieve their company’s greater goals.

3. Social Media

By now, even old-school business executives that were once hesitant about jumping into the social media pool are taking the plunge. It’s no longer a question of whether or not you have social media, but rather how you decide to utilize it, and whether or not those initiatives have resulted in an ROI. Offering free giveaways or coupons to people who “Like” you on Facebook is a great way to build your audience in the beginning stages. But after you get their attention, it’s just as important to keep it there. This will happen by engaging your customer through relevant—and frequent—posts, messages, photos, videos, and other offerings. It’s also important to include a call-to-action in order to drive traffic where you want it to go, such as sharing a link to a new product or service featured on your company website. This year, expect to see more in the realm of Social Listening Research and Influencer Marketing, which allow you to analyze your target audience members to better understand your customers and their needs.

LinkedIn, a professional networking website, will also continue to be a social media platform to watch in 2011, with more than 12 million small-business leaders on its site, according to its blog last year. It’s become a huge resource for finding a job, finding a job candidate or making a connection with a potential business partner.

4. Multi-channel and Integrated Marketing

It’s great to market your company across different mediums, from online, print and broadcast to mobile applications and social media platforms. But if the vehicles you’re using to promote your brand don’t cross promote one another, you’re missing out on a lot of business opportunities you could have had if they did. For example, this can take the form of a billboard with a QR code (barcode readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones), print advertising with a mobile phone SMS call to action, or a link on a company website that redirects to its Facebook page to “Like” them. It should always come full circle. You want to engage your audience to interact with you and your brand, not just hit them once with a well-designed piece that leaves them thinking, “OK great, but now what?”

It simply isn’t enough to just do a newspaper advertisement or buy a radio spot anymore. It must be integrated into multiple platforms and, consequentially, be strongly branded to your company on those platforms. This will change the role of your audience members from recipients to participants.

5. Personalized Marketing

You may have already noticed this on Facebook, but in 2011, expect to see more websites with personalization capabilities. This means that if you frequently visit a website, it will track the keywords you search for and post and store this information in its database to customize what’s displayed on the site the next time you visit. It not only determines what’s displayed based on the keywords you search, but also by the pages you visit within the site and, for first time visitors, even the referring URL that linked you to the site.

With the astronomical growth of Groupon and LivingSocial in the past two years, smart startup companies are starting to use geo-location capabilities to drive foot traffic to their local businesses. This acceleration would largely be driven by discovery via location-based social experience sharing. The explosive growth of Instagram is also an early sign of this experience-sharing trend, and we will witness a whole lot more in the coming year.

6. Print

This just in: print is not dead. Print has reinvented itself more times than Cher and Madonna combined and, like their careers, it thrives by changing its look to stay relevant. In an “all-about-me” marketplace, printers have learned that in order to stay in touch with consumers, they have to get personal. Literally. Data-driven print (also known as 1:1 printing, variable data or personalized printing) is continuously growing in popularity and often involves strategically placing a customer’s name onto an already printed piece.

For example, vacation timeshares may put a customer’s name on the back of a white robe hanging in the closet of a bedroom. A sports clothing brand might put a customer’s name on the back of a football jersey. The options are endless, and it’s a great way to get creative and grab your audience members’ attention by reaching out to them by name.

7. SEO

Ah, the ever-elusive concept of Search Engine Optimization. In recent years, the most common question we get from clients is hands down, “What can we do to become No. 1 in Google’s search results?” This isn’t surprising to us since your customers, like you, are probably using search engines as their primary means to find the information they are looking for. But the answer is much more complex than the reason behind the question. Although there are definitely ways that marketing professionals can help improve your SEO through keywords, tags and content, there is no silver bullet for getting the No. 1 spot. With the introduction of new search engines such as Bing in the U.S., Baidu in China and Yandex in Russia, Google’s not the only player in the search engine game anymore. In addition, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are also becoming popular resources for searching, making it even more difficult to solve the equation to get to the No. 1 spot. In 2011, look for things to get even more complex as search engines advance, mobile phone searches get thrown into the mix and geo-location searches also become a factor in where you fall in search result listings.

Even if there isn’t a foolproof formula to guarantee your ranking, there are certainly ways to improve your SEO. Marketing experts have conducted plenty of research in this realm and can advise you of small things you can do to make a big impact in the long run.

In conclusion, the key to a successful year in marketing will be to engage your audience, be strategic in your initiatives, customize your offerings and keep your overall goal in mind. But if all else fails, post a really funny video of your cat sneezing on YouTube and watch the TV interviews, book deals, magazine covers, and sports drink sponsorships just roll in.

In need of a little guidance in order to continue on the right foot? Contact our team of marketing experts today to develop the perfect approach for your brand in 2011 – and beyond!

How to Identify Different Types of Ad Agencies Right Away

Advertising is one of the earliest concepts of human economic activity. This has developed with the coming of every new technology and continues to grow each day. Drawings, printing, telephone, television and more recently the internet and social media marketing have all made their mark in the history of advertising, and who knows what tomorrow might bring.
Advertising can be done individually, or by the use of a marketing agency. Depending on the kind of product or service that you wish to market, and the population that you wish to meet in terms of the strata of the population as well as whether the population is local or if you are looking for a worldwide distribution, you will want an ad agency that is able to handle your proposal effectively as well as reach the target population.

You will also have to make this choice based on the advertising strategy that you think is efficient for you and thus make sure that the agency you chose is specialized in this aspect of advertising.

[quote]Ad agencies are normally classified based on the media that they specialize in, and because of this classification, it is easy to see ad agencies that specialize in television ads, radio ads, newspaper ads and more recently web and new media ads. [/quote]

Marketing agencies are usually classified based on their scope. You might want to check if the agency serves a particular location as in a Orlando marketing agency or if the agency is has a global network and therefore a wider reach.

However in marketing, the term “type of advertising” is used to describe the primary focus of the advertising message and it can be classified as:

Product-Oriented Advertising

Image Advertising

Advocacy Advertising

Public Service Advertising

Therefore we can infer from these that type of advertising agencies will also fall within these categories.

Product-Oriented advertising

A product can be an idea, a service or a good that is the result of a company’s or a person’s activity. Product oriented advertising refers to advertising that is meant to promote this product or service to a particular audience. Here Ad agencies may use informative advertising to furnish information about the product; persuasive advertising where the approach is to try and convince people to buy, and comparative advertising that tries to show consumers how the product compares with others on the market.

Image advertising

Image advertising is the type of advertising that focuses on building up a company’s image to make it more attractive among its peers. They use strategy that increases the importance of a company and as such do not focus on particular products. This strategy is usually used in cases where a company has taken on a new name due to mergers or change of ownership, or due to negative publicity a company may need to rebrand itself.

Advocacy Advertising

These are usually advertising efforts that use the company’s public stance to voice certain opinions as concerns them or their future. In this way they companies can even sway public opinions on political issues and other debates that may affect them in one way or the other.

Public Service Advertising

These adverts are usually free of charge depending on the country and the policy of the agency that handles the advert. They are usually for the public good. It is important for nongovernmental organizations and humanitarian organizations to publicize themselves and to call for financial resources and personnel such as volunteers.

There are ad agencies that do not specialize in any one of these sectors, but embrace all the different sectors. There are also some that specialize in one or two of these and it will usually be to the advantage of the advertiser to choose the marketing agency whose profile is adapted to the kind of advertising he wishes to undertake.

Interested in obtaining more information about your target audience, and ready to enlist the expertise of an ad agency? Contact us today to schedule a consultation!

Advantages of using social media to promote your business

Social media is generally used to describe interactive communication and dialogue that is common to the internet today. This is sometimes referred to as web 2.0 and at the heart of this is what is known as user generated content. It included software and tools that allow users to create and share content among each other and this power of interaction can be sourced by entrepreneurs to promote their businesses.
Social media includes the use of internet forums, weblogs, blogs, micro blogging, podcasts, video diffusion, social bookmarking and site rating.

One of the advantages of using social media to promote your business is that it is relatively inexpensive and easier to use than traditional promotional media such as newspapers, television and radio. Therefore anyone with any level of expertise can use social media for self promotion and advertising agencies that do internet marketing are also able to use this to their advantage. Here are a few reasons why it’s so advantageous to use social media to promote your business:

Increasing and improving website traffic

Everyone that is interested in building a website for selling ideas or products knows that the greater the traffic to your website, the greater the chances you have of making a sale and once a customer is satisfied with the service on your site, the greater chance he has of coming again for the same product or another, and the greater the chance of recommending your sites to peers through social media.

[quote]You can also serve your company by including links in your social media posts and by sending information about your site to your network of friends that becomes propagated through the process.[/quote]

Creating space for your business

In order for your business to be recognized in its niche, you have to do marketing by spreading the information around and social media is one of the interesting ways for creating buzz about your business. Social media will permit you to build a following, and send your name about which will enable you to create a name or brand recognition.

Social media can help you engage with customers in an entirely new way

Using social media can enable you to get personal with your clients. This can create customer loyalty especially if you are there to participate in discussions, offer your opinions and regularly answer questions. Just like in normal day to day business interactions where we tend to go to the shop where the owner engages us in conversation and become friends with us, so too your customers will keep coming for more.

Social media can help boost sales

Social media has been known to return in sales, and has been one of the driving forces in internet marketing. By connecting with your peers and diffusing information and new product information, these links create interest and thus generates sales.

Social media can help with image management

Every business man takes care of his image and the company’s image and rumors have been known to destroy businesses. However with social media, you are able to keep on top and know about changes in your reputation as well as reply quickly and work to change the destructive comments and rumors.

Social media can help with marketing research

You can use social media to conduct marketing research. You can encourage people in your network to offer reviews as well as just influence the comments in a particular direction to see what your competition is doing or which product or service is hot at the moment. This can help you plan for future services and product releases.

Cost effective marketing with social media

Social media is cheaper to learn, source and use and therefore it can be very effective when used and a few minutes of your day concentrated to this activity can produce a great deal of returns for you in the long run.

It is important to establish from the outset what you want to achieve from engaging in social media. This way you can easily see whether social media provides you with a return on the investment of your time. Keep measuring your success against your goals. If something isn’t working then don’t be afraid to change it or try another type of social media.

Looking for more strategies that allow you to play up the advantages of using social media to promote your brand? Contact us today to learn more!