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Build a Recession Proof Marketing Plan

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Marketing tends to be one of the first things to go during an economic slowdown, but it shouldn’t be. We all know that the ups and downs in business are inevitable, so we should set in place a marketing strategy that is recession proof.

 

Saving Money Is a Priority

When marketing budgets get slashed, the CFOs are essentially preparing for less cash flow. They are also pulling back their spending on new projects and taking the planning of them in house, if possible. This has been especially true for those in the construction industry. They have to cushion their bottom line during times of a depressed economy.

 

Marketing Opportunity

In 2005, a year before the great recession, I remember how spending was cut way back in the marketing department of the company I worked for. This happens every time. To make matters worse, pulling funds away from marketing will hurt sales. But it’s hard for CFOs to loosen the purse strings.

So, marketing has to be a priority. That’s why we need to be strategic and plan ahead, because it’s actually a time for more opportunities to outshine the competition.

 

Digital Marketing

The online world has brought people closer. It’s created stronger relationships between people and the brands they love. All things digital are no longer an option, they are the norm, and they are necessities.

You really need to have your digital marketing game in play prior to a recession. Every aspect of your digital presence should be established:

  • Mobile friendly website
  • Pay-per-click advertising (Google Ads)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Video
  • Email and text-based marketing
  • Social media
  • Organic search (content marketing)

If you don’t have your plan in place now, there probably won’t be any money for it in the budget when the recession hits. The great thing about digital marketing channels is that they are relatively inexpensive. They tend to be much less expensive than traditional marketing and they are easier to measure, so you can take your great results back to your CFO and prove that every penny was worth it!

 

Be Innovative

To capture more attention and a little more share of the market, you’ll need to start doing a few things differently. Otherwise, you’ll end up getting the same results you’ve always had, which is typically not what you want during a downturn.

It’s time to get creative and step outside the box. Innovation often comes from shoestring budgets and lots of positive energy. That energy could be the differentiator in a prospective client’s decision.

Start thinking about what you can do that no one else is doing in your industry. Making yourself more available through new lines of communication is one way. Creating authentic client success stories with an original twist is another. Show them that you’re expert in your field. Start telling your story in new ways, on new channels.

 

Maintaining Contact

One of the biggest challenges for any business during a recession is to maintain in contact with their clients. You don’t want to fall off their radar just because you are doing more with less.

When you maintain a steady presence online and at conferences or events, you’ll stay in touch with your clients. They’ll know that you’re still there for them. Your marketing can do this and there are cost-effective ways of doing it.

Pinstripe has helped local and nationally-based businesses with every aspect of their marketing. We specialize in discovering their personal traits—their corporate character—and putting them on display. Our creative team consists of listeners and discoverers that have an innate ability to help you achieve your vision. Contact us to tell us more about your company and the marketing goals you envision.

Try This Quick Time Saving Tip for Busy Professionals

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Usually, around six o’clock, I am amazed at how fast the day went by. And it always seems like I’m rushing to get out of the office for a meeting or dinner with my family.

But, did you know that if we took 15 minutes at the end of our day, we can be more prepared for tomorrow? Recently, I started to take just 15 minutes at the end of my day to get organized and it works. Here’s how.

 

Prioritize Those 15 Minutes

What better time to review your day than at the end? It allows you to do three very important things:

  • Review
  • Reflect
  • Prepare

You can briefly review what happened throughout your day by jotting a few notes, which will strengthen your  memory and recall. It’s also a good time to check off the items on your agenda and make sure that you’ve logged your time correctly. Research has shown that taking account of completed tasks lowers your anxiety and stress levels.

Simply taking a minute or two to review your day will also help you organize your evening. Figure out dinner or check in with loved ones. Are you picking something up? Need gas for the car? These things often get forgotten and make tomorrow a little more hectic. Plus, it gives you time to organize the work you are taking home with you.

 

To-Do List or Not To-Do List?

Reflecting upon your day will help you restructure your to-do lists. Priorities are always shifting. Some tasks gain a higher level of urgency.

As for to-do lists, I have seen a lot of opinions on them. Lots of consultants don’t like them and one in particular simply believes that to-do lists don’t work. However, research, lots of research, says otherwise. I’m a proponent of them, but with this caveat—I don’t put everything on it.

One major complaint of the to-do list is that it causes more anxiety, usually because there’s a list a mile long with things on there that should have been done weeks or months ago. Too many trivial things on it will cause anxiety.

One novel idea is to move the important things off your to-do list and placing them on your calendar. This raises their priority, while reduces the clutter of your list. Here are some other ways you can create a more effective to-do list:

  • Shorten the list to three things,
  • Use small Post-It Notes or index cards,
  • Organize your list into smaller lists (calls to make, things to delegate, to purchase, etc.)
  • Prioritize tasks in order of importance,
  • View one task at a time.

You need to be faithful to the idea of ending your day thinking about tomorrow. This lets you get organized before you even step foot in the office, tomorrow.

 

Better Planning of Your Time

Time is the most important asset we have, yet we don’t value it enough. Meetings and late lunches can get in the way. There’s also the occasional drive-by meeting—”impromptu” for the visitor—but an inconvenience for you.

Taking a few minutes to prepare for your day, tomorrow,  may get you out of a meeting or conference call that really isn’t important. With these final moments at work, you can also follow up with your employees regarding important projects. Even better, you can delegate tasks from your list to them.

 

Better Organization = Less Stress

Let’s face it, you’re only given so much time in a day. Organization doesn’t give you more time, but it does allow you to spend more time on the things that are truly important. Typically, these are the things that affect the bottom line.

You won’t regret using this time-saving tip. It will help you be more productive and less stressed about work and home. Give it a try for a month. If it works, pass it on to a friend or coworker of yours that could use it.

Content Marketing Deconstructed: Legal Considerations at Every Stage of the Process

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When a person, brand, or organization creates its own platform to share and influence, a content marketing initiative is born. This practice has been going on long before digital capabilities made it as accessible and mainstream as it is today. It’s also these digital aspects that make it all that more complex for the modern marketer and the companies driving the ecosystem.

  • Who (or what robot) is creating your content?
  • Who is the rightful owner of the content and the intellectual property inside it?
  • Where and how is this content being distributed?
  • Are the laws relevant to the content being followed (or do we even know what those are)?

As a content creator myself, through a variety of media including blogging, video, podcasts, newsletters, and more, I understand the level of detail that can go into each and every project. It’s a big investment of time, talent and treasure, and that’s why it’s worth protecting at every corner.

I’ve seen legal hiccups at virtually every link along this chain, with rising complexities around content ownership and licensing, and emerging risks with more automated content solutions and accountability.

If you break down the process, you’ll find there are various and unique legal issues at each phase that can get in the way of progress. What’s my strategy to beat them? Plan ahead.

Here are three key junctures with reminders to help keep your content marketing campaigns secure:

1. Strategy, Talent & Content Sources

Before the first word is written, or pixel is placed, think about your end goals. In addition to the brand building and sales nurturing aspects, content marketing offers the opportunity of creating intellectual property for your brand, including in both the outputs and processes.

  • Is this something you will own and use in the future, or repurpose for other business opportunities?
  • Are you creating content in-house, using outside partners, freelancers or partners, or possibly integrating external, more automated and AI-driven content services?

You will want to ensure you own the rights to your work, so you have complete freedom in the future for promotions, repurposing and other applications.

For your content strategy and execution, ensure the same levels of agreements are in place for any partners or employees creating content on behalf of your company.

2. Content Development

Beyond the clear copyright rules and plagiarism risks surrounding content creation, there are several less obvious aspects that companies need to watch out for:

  • When featuring any other existing content, first get written permission from whomever owns the content (you would be surprised how often this step is skipped), and then cite proper attribution of any content sourced from, or linked to, from third party resources.
  • Gather and track licenses and use rights for images or artwork incorporated into your content and know the limits of those licenses.
  • When making claims within content, in addition to being true, claims need substantiation. Misleading by omission is just as off-limits as making an express false claim. Ask yourself about the substantiation before you publish the claim.
  • Include all needed trademarks with permission, or with adequate disclaimers if they are the trademarks of some third party.

There are many resources out there for education and reference, including this Skyword article, Original and Accountable: How to Detect Plagiarism, and Avoid It in Content Marketing. What’s key is making sure everyone involved keeps a vigilant eye on this, because your company becomes liable for any infraction.

3. Publishing, Distribution & Promotion

There are various considerations and rules surrounding content of all types that your company is publishing and promoting.

  • Copyright infringement or the use of content without permission or improper attribution.
  • Compliance failures in disclosures of endorsements, testimonials and all things influence marketing.
  • Native advertising or failing to distinguish clearly between paid content placed in a native ad context and the surrounding editorial content. Confused about what that is? Check out Robert Rose’s overview on Content Marketing Institute: What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing, Branded Content, and Native Advertising?

Additionally, email and data privacy rules continue to reign, brought to the spotlight more recently in GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (remember the CAN-SPAM act of 2003?). No one should be using purchased or rented lists for email or relying on the “opt out” at inception as law favors the initial “opt in,” and making sure that “opt outs” are managed properly.

To summarize, wherever your content is going… make sure the destination is legit!

Send the Right Message

With the massive flood of content pouring through digital channels for more than a decade, and more and quicker ways to produce and distribute it, companies continue to seek ways to get their messages through in an overly crowded environment.

Take the time to educate yourself, your employees, and everyone else in your content universe on the legal risks at each step of the content journey, and stay on top of evolving rules and regulations.

Article by Sharon Toerek of Legal + Creative by Toerek Law.

Sharon is an intellectual property and marketing law attorney, with a national Firm based in Cleveland, Ohio.  She devotes her legal practice at Toerek Law to helping creative professionals protect, enforce and monetize their creative assets.

She has a particular concentration of clients in the advertising, marketing and creative services industries, and counsels them on legal issues including copyright and content protection, licensing of creative content, trademark and brand protection matters, marketing agency service contract issues, freelancer contract issues,  social media issues, advertising compliance, and direct marketing regulations. To learn more about Sharon, visit www.legalandcreative.com.

Zodiac Marketer: Leo

Our next zodiac sign is Leo: birthdays between July 23 – August 22.

Leo is a fire sign with the strengths: generous, cheerful and humorous. They are also creative and passionate, but we’ve had quite a few zodiac signs with these traits, so we decided to go with some we haven’t done before. Leo’s weaknesses are arrogance and self-centeredness. We’ll explore some of the obvious, and not so obvious reasons, that you should embrace the positive and avoid those negative behaviors.

 

Generosity in Marketing

Generosity is definitely something to have in abundance for your business and marketing campaigns. In fact, some forms of generosity are great marketing tactics!

There are many ways to be generous from a business perspective. As a business owner, sometimes you have to be generous to your customers or clients. Generosity could be a free coffee giveaway or a plate of cookies waiting at the door. You could support a charity once a month by donating 10% of sales.

Have you considered offering a membership with perks or recurring visitor discount? This can mean giving them discounts, offering coupons or other promotions. After all, these are the people who support your business, so why not reward them with incentives.

Think about the generosity you receive from the businesses you frequent. What can you do that is similar to say “thank you” to your clientele?

 

Cheerfulness in Marketing

Being cheerful and positive is always putting your best foot forward. Do this naturally and try not to fake it. People want to be around cheerful people. They are uplifting, have a positive outlook on life, and thus a positive outlook on many things.

In one of our previous Zodiac Marketer articles, we talked about avoiding moodiness by leaving all your bad day blues at the door, particularly when meeting with clients. What better way to approach a potential client than with a genuine smile and greeting.

This applies to customer service as well. Would you rather buy something from a grumpy, negative person? Making people feel comfortable and cared for is a large part of the customer service recipe. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and think about how would you want to be treated.

 

Humor in Marketing

Who doesn’t enjoy someone with a good sense of humor? As long as the theme is appropriate and not offensive, go ahead and toss out those quippy one-liners to get the board room roaring with laughter (or at least a good chuckle).

Don’t force it! Again, it’s important to be natural here. There is nothing more painful than a terrible or inappropriate joke that falls flat. If it’s a meeting with a prospect, you will not be getting a call back and you certainly won’t win the business.

In your marketing campaigns, humor is a welcome and wonderful thing, but be careful not to overdo it or make anyone uncomfortable. Your marketing and advertising team should be pros at this and have no problem discerning the good humorous copy and design from the bad.

 

Avoid: Arrogance in Marketing

There is the obvious arrogant behavior that no one likes to be around. Also, be aware of some more subtle behavior that could be misconstrued as arrogance (particularly in marketing campaigns).

Let’s assume that we are all striving to be the best at what we do and make. You truly believe your product or service is better than anyone else’s and you want to shout it out to the world. Be wary of stating it in a way that can come off as arrogant, such as bashing your competition, dismissing negative feedback from customers (we wrote an entire article on negative feedback!), flipping the bird to naysayers, and all manner of similar bad behavior that is rude and offensive.

This goes for your employees too! They are brand ambassadors and should conduct themselves as responsible stewards of the brand at all times.

 

Avoid: Being Self-Centered in Marketing

Being self-centered as an individual is already bad enough. Being self-centered as a business can be downright fatal to your brand. Think about it this way. We live in a diverse world with people from a mosaic of backgrounds, preferences, and needs. It is possible that your target audience is quite specific, therefore you are trying to appeal to a certain demographic of people. Don’t let this be the catalyst for a narrow vision in your marketing campaigns.

In other words, think outside of yourself and your target audience, by always putting yourself in the shoes of other potential audiences who may not be your particular target. Are you alienating or offending them? Are your campaigns inclusive enough to perhaps draw in a new client base? If you can step outside your own bubble and take a bird’s eye view of your marketing campaign, you may find that a self-centered approach that was born inside a vacuum is actually harming your efforts.

Being more inclusive and thoughtful can create a richer business environment with more prospects for you, and at the very least, you will be in harmony with the diverse community in which we live.

Have you ever experienced any of the above traits in your marketing campaigns or business? We’d love to hear your stories!

Ginger Reichl Appointed National Student Advertising Competition Chair for the 4th District American Advertising Federation

Pinstripe Marketing is pleased to announce that its president, Ginger Reichl, has been appointed 2019-20 Chairperson of the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) for the Fourth District American Advertising Federation.

Each year, a sponsor provides more than 2,000 college students with a real-world case study and an outline overviewing its product and their current advertising plan. Students must learn about their product and research the brand’s competition in order to develop a new campaign plan for the company. The college chapter members then develop a comprehensive plans book and an accompanying 20-minute presentation. This new campaign strategy is then “pitched” by each team to a line of judges. The judging panel is comprised of professionals from the communications industry. Students from AAF college chapters from Florida and the Caribbean will compete in April 2020 and the winner will go on to compete in a semi-final round where the top eight compete at ADMERICA, the AAF national conference in June.

Ginger was a member of Florida State University’s NSAC team during her senior year in 1993 and says it was one of the best experiences of her college career. She later served as Fourth District NSAC Chair for several years prior to taking a hiatus from board service.

“I have a big soft spot for advertising education and the NSAC,” said Reichl. “Working with the AAF, district leadership, and the team advisors is always rewarding, but seeing the student’s work always leaves me energized and inspired. These are the best of the best in the next generation of advertising professionals.”

The 2018 NSAC sponsor is Adobe.