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Zodiac Marketer: Aries

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Our next zodiac sign is Aries: birthdays between March 21 – April 19.

Aries is a fire sign with the following strengths: courage, determination, confidence, enthusiasm, optimism, honesty and passion. As with Pisces, there are plenty of Aries traits that apply directly to marketing. We’ll also take a look at Aries’ weaknesses: impatience, moodiness, short temperament, impulsive and aggressive. Some of these are definite no-no’s in marketing and bad for business as a whole.

Courage in Marketing

Some of the best advertisements and marketing campaigns are incredibly bold and, quite frankly, take a lot of courage to execute. Enter an agency brainstorming session and you may hear some off the wall ideas being tossed around. Sometimes it’s the gutsiest, most implausible idea that ends up being the winner! As a creative, you have to be willing to push the envelope and try something new to stand out from the crowd.

Confidence in Marketing

Confidence is essential in any profession, but in marketing—this ever-changing industry with state-of-the-art technologies, popular culture, and creative trends—you have to exercise extra confidence in your campaigns and business choices in general. One of the best ways to maintain confidence in the marketing world is to educate yourself. Staying on top of creative and technology trends, or knowing about them, is a step in the right direction. Finding a great application or software that you tested and decided to fully integrate into your workflow is even better. You can use and test technologies to be able to recommend these beneficial products to your audience, your clients, and your colleagues. This positions you as a cutting-edge industry leader.

At the same time, having confidence in the creative aspect of your work is essential. When a business is considering hiring a marketing agency or when you are pitching a new idea for a campaign to your vice president, you want to have confidence in your idea and your ability to execute that idea. If you don’t, there are a dozen others who know their design ability is incredible and worthy. If you want someone to have enough confidence in your work to hire you, you first must demonstrate confidence.

Enthusiasm in Marketing

It’s difficult to market a product that you don’t feel connected to at least in some way. Enthusiasm for what you’re selling, whether it’s advertising or marketing, gives an authenticity to the work you do—without it, your copy may feel forced, the creative may wilt, and your interaction with the client or audience will feel fake. And, if you can be passionate about what you’re marketing, even better—you’re sure to create amazing campaigns that excite your audience.

Avoid: Impatience in Marketing

As the first sign of the zodiac, Aries often have a tendency to be impulsive and rush out to be first. However, great design doesn’t happen overnight and neither does great copywriting, or really, any element of marketing. Of course, there’s the occasional fluke where you get that winning idea in the shower, but don’t bank on those ideas.

A good example is website design and development, which can be an incredibly heavy workload, even when you stay organized and precise. Patience is key during a process of this magnitude, and not just for the creators. You have to learn how to manage the expectations of your stakeholders, so they fully understand the amount of time you need to do your best work for them. It’s ok to compress a timeline here and there, but be realistic about your deadlines and don’t let an impatient person rush you. Rushing a set of design mockups into development is not going to produce great work, and you may end up revisiting the rushed piece and spending more time and money in the long run anyway.

Avoid: Moodiness in Marketing

This one applies to nearly every aspect of life, but it’s especially true in the marketing world where you may be dealing with tight deadlines, budgets, and stakeholders. We know that being moody in business is taboo. Sometimes personality matches between teammates, employees, clients and vendors are as important as the work itself.

Moodiness also hampers productivity and morale. So, if you or your colleagues have a stressful project load with tight deadlines and budgets, having a moody co-worker adds more unnecessary stress. Check your emotional status and leave the mood swings at home.

We hope that you can take some of the above recommendations and apply them to your business or marketing plan. Stay tuned for the next zodiac sign, headstrong Taurus!

Your Best Client is the One You’re With

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You’ve seen the meme. A young couple is walking down the sidewalk and he spins around to take a look at another girl walking by. The meme is funny because … well there is truth in the attraction to something new. The grass appearing to be greener on the other side of the fence. Of course, most of the people reading this article would never behave so atrociously. We would never fail to appreciate the wonderful person we’re already with. Or would we?

How much attention do you devote to your existing customers versus prospects?  It’s very easy to become so focused on new business development that we ignore the great catch right in front of us.

No one likes to feel unappreciated, but rather than sending you a meme (You. Me. New Business.), that customer will more likely decide to finally take that sales call from one of your competitors. And where does that leave you but frantically “wining and dining” a new prospect to bring a new business relationship to the level of the one you just lost.

The good news is that your customers know you have other clients. Our business relationship vs. dating analogy only goes so far, and rational people understand this. Most estimates are that the marketing effort necessary to retain a customer is only about 20% of that needed to land a new account.  Why not resolve to give your current customers at least that minimal amount of attention necessary to keep them satisfied and feeling “loved.”

Now you could assess your marketing budget and say one in five dollars needs to be devoted to existing clients, but it may be just as effective to look at the issue from the standpoint of hours rather than hard currency. Devotion doesn’t have to be measured in cash.

If you think it may be time to put the spark back in your existing relationships, here are a few tips presented as phrases that you’re probably familiar with. (And you’ll notice they aren’t costly at all.)

“How was your day?” Find out what’s new with your customers’ businesses, what changes they’re experiencing, and what trends they see. You may find an opportunity where you can help (or know someone who can – see below).

“You were on my mind.” Reach out to old clients you haven’t heard from in a while. It’s possible they’ve found someone new, but it’s more likely they just haven’t required your services. Ask them the same questions as those directly above to find out what is going on in their worlds. You’ll be surprised how often you hear, “I’ve been meaning to call you.”

“Let’s go out on the town.” For those of us in sales, we spend a lot of time at networking events. Ask your clients to join you and introduce them to the people you know. Networking isn’t always about what you can get, it’s also what you can give. Give the gift of new connections, and your clients will never forget it.

“This made me think of you.” Books, magazine articles, blogs or videos … there are likely dozens of things you read on a weekly basis that could be of interest to your clients. Pass them along.

“Have I told you lately …” We purchase a lot of goods and services in our daily lives — for work and for business. When was the last time you were thanked? A sincere ‘thank you’ or a handwritten note goes a long way.

As long as you are in business to make money it would be ridiculous to “stay true” to just one customer. Unfortunately, what’s expected is even tougher. You need to remain true to all of them. Love the one you’re with.

Things to Consider When Hiring a Marketing Firm

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The marketing firm you choose will be in charge of your brand, so you need to make good decisions on who you hire.

When it’s time to hire a marketing firm, you have a lot of choices to pick from. There are more than 500 advertising agencies, public relations and digital marketing firms in the Tampa Bay area. Many of them are highly specialized, while others can offer a large suite of marketing services. It’s important to be prepared before handing the reigns over to a firm in charge of promoting your brand.

Some Important Questions, First

Going into a relationship with a marketing firm takes some homework on your part. A little business self-awareness goes a long way in understanding the type of relationship you’ll need with the firm.

  • Do you know what your brand is?
  • Who is your ideal client?
  • What geography do you cover?
  • Are your clients local or online?
  • Is there a budget in place to handle all marketing costs?
  • Have you set goals for your marketing?

If you don’t have an answer to those questions, work with your team to determine the answers before hiring a marketing firm.

 

Choosing a Local or National Firm

With all of the choices available locally, it’s rare to go out-of-state to hire a firm. The goal is to hire a firm that fits your needs exactly. There are local firms in the Tampa Bay area that carry a national presence and national companies with a local presence.

The choice really is more about what you prefer when hiring a service. Do you prefer meeting face-to-face? Or can your marketing be handled through video conferencing, email and phone calls? Both are effective ways to communicate and build very successful relationships. In our experience, having a good mix of each one leads to stronger relationships.

 

Setting the Search Criteria

When considering to hire a marketing firm, the following 10 things to consider should be used as a checklist.

  • Portfolio – The firm should impress you with their design and implementation.
  • Experience – A lack of experience could cost you money.
  • Industry Knowledge – Having a firm with industry knowledge reduces the learning curve for them regarding your business. Something to also consider is if their industry knowledge works against their ability to be creative or think outside the box.
  • Capabilities – Smaller firms offer more personalized service, yet may be limited in capabilities, but this is not always the case. Be sure to do your research and ask the right questions.
  • Business Savvy – A firm with solid business acumen will understand the big picture and not just work from project to project. They are more adept with problem solving, too.
  • Channel Expertise – Strong marketing firms understand the channel directions for most industries. This makes them better marketers. They are better at forecasting and seeing the next big thing on the horizon.
  • Technical Knowledge – Marketing is technology heavy. Both print and digital marketing are driven by advanced technologies. The firm you pick should know how to harness these technologies for successful campaigns.
  • Network – How extensive is their business network? These connections can be valuable assets.
  • Communication – Everyone is looking for fast and friendly. How about clear and concise? Honest and thoughtful? Those are special qualities, as well.
  • Personality – It’s a business relationship. Your personalities should mesh well together. What makes them unique is something that can differentiate your company from others.

Make sure each one fulfills your criteria. If no one fits it, then look at what’s really important and how many do fulfill those needs.

At Pinstripe, we have experience with companies across the United States—from entrepreneurs to the Fortune 500. We are passionate about creating tailored campaigns that generate results. Our team has decades of experience within a wide range of industries. Contact us today to learn more about how we can provide the best marketing experience for you.

Public Relations Need to Be Transparent, Like Wonder Woman’s Jet

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Transparency is a very important policy for any public relations campaign. In this article we find a connection between transparency and Wonder Woman’s jet.

According to Wikipedia, it all started with an invisible plane that first appeared in 1942. Over the years, that plane evolved into a jet with the ability to travel almost three times the speed of sound and hover in place to allow for tricky landings. In the TV show, we could see Wonder Woman in her invisible jet depicted as a white wireframe that surrounded her. The symbolism of the invisible jet in the era in which it was born may still be relevant to this day, but today we’ll use it to explain a little bit about public relations.

The Principle of Transparency

Transparency in public relations is about how the public “can see how you got there.” People want to see through the fluff to the heart of the issue, just like we can see through Wonder Woman’s plane to find her and her passengers very much revealed. Bad things happen and often do, but it is how you handle those crisis situations that matters. It’s about openness and your ability to share the right information. This builds trust and makes everything you do visible to the public, so there are no questions or, even worse, insinuations from outsiders looking to mar the company’s reputation when something bad happens.

Building transparency shouldn’t appear contrived or fake, especially during a public relations crisis. Being open and honest about your challenges, as well as forthcoming with information, will demonstrate that you are managing the situation and lessen any damaging effects. Honesty, authenticity and requesting feedback are often used to show transparency. And it’s this transparency principle that builds trust and empathy.

Strategy for Communicating

The general public has become less trusting of advertising and marketing. That’s why it’s important to be honest or you may lose their trust and support.

Truth and honesty create authentic messages. You are being honest and forthcoming when you share your challenges alongside your successes. This humanizes your brand. Whether it’s during a crisis or not, clients can gain a deeper understanding of what’s going on, which allows them to be more forgiving and builds empathy for your situation.

Empathy is a powerful tool to help you gather feedback and build support. Gaining support can protect you against future challenges or repair any damage that may have occurred during a crisis.

Transparent Communications

The rise in social media has made it easier for PR campaigns to be more proactive and honest about challenges. These platforms can carry your authentic message to a larger audience and be a point of light during difficult times. To take advantage of this, make sure to be proactive rather than reactive. Social media is immediate – you must be agile and get ahead of any problems or social media can work against you. A great PR campaign spots potential issues and crises before they happen. Keep pushing out positive, honest messaging on all channels so when anyone searches for your company, they find the good things first, those authentic messages that build trust. It’s these kind of transparent communications that I believe in strongly, because they let others know that you really do care.

 

This article is part of a series on how Wonder Woman inspires our marketing philosophy. Throughout the year, we will be featuring more on this topic, so let us know how you feel about it in our comments section below.

 

Budget Season Coming Soon!

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I know, it’s still summer and I’m writing about marketing budgets. How about this? Instead of writing about budgets, I could write about something fun, like branding and networking. But we wouldn’t get to do any of those fun things without a budget. Am I right? So, let’s talk budgeting for your marketing and I promise to make it worthwhile.

Budgeting for What’s Next

You have a budget in place, but it probably needs to be tweaked a little to fit next year’s needs. Marketers have a lot more data to go on these days, so they know what brings in returns and what’s stale. Staying on top of the data means getting the right activities into your mix. There are several activities we think you should put as line items in your budget, if they aren’t in it already.

Building Communities

We are in an engagement economy where businesses need to engage with their clients and their employees to strive for success. When you build a community for your clients, you’re creating a stronger network and engaging with them as an industry leader. This type of engagement opens new possibilities and leads to organic growth through word-of-mouth recommendations. So, it definitely deserves some consideration in your budget.

LEGO has a great example of engaging with their community through LEGO IDEAS. This interactive community setting allows everyone to contribute ideas and vote on great designs. Communities like this are a two way street—offering enthusiasts a platform while providing valuable marketing data. Another example of a great community is the Oracle Interactive Community. This is mixed-use site with a forum and lots of information to support their users better.

To build a community, you’ll need a cause for your platform. Usually, the cause you pick is something that separates you from the competition. It’s how you add value to your business. Then, you can pick your platform where this cause is supported. This will need social media and maybe an interactive website. How about an annual event? Print materials? You’ll definitely need employees to run it all. Starting slow and small to test the waters is always a sure bet.

Public Relations

This area of marketing has changed quite a bit over the past 10 years. I’ve seen how it’s changed and why. Good public relations have developed into consistent, positive messaging that crosses multiple platforms. It also helps with search engine optimization (SEO) and keeps your community connected. The press release is still the foundation, but how it’s used and why have evolved. Spreading the word means spending more time and energy.

Looking at ROI

There is more data available to us than ever before. Marketing is no longer a guessing game. It’s strategic planning and implementation. Contextualized data will show how your clients are engaging with your marketing campaigns. If you’re having trouble seeing what works and what doesn’t, beef up your data gathering and analytics. This may be in the form of analytics software or statistical research.

Striking a Balance

Some experts believe that many traditional marketing activities no longer work. That’s why it’s so important to engage with clients and customers in a more authentic, one-on-one basis. Building a customer community is the perfect thing to do using content marketing, social media, and possibly a website to interact with them. Investments in public relations and getting a better grip on ROI will help your bottom line. These are definitely things we need stay on top of in this dynamic marketing landscape.