Life Advice: Find Your Kreativ Korner™

Okay, be honest: How much are you getting done in a day? If the answer to that question is “Not so much”, might we suggest a change of scenery?

It might not seem like it affects your marketing strategy directly, but believe us, it does. Finding a place where you can get into your zone, rock out to Wham! and let loose is crucial to your creative process. Whatever your “zone” is, knowing how you work best will ultimately help you to create top quality work for your clients, which is a win for everyone. 

Sometimes, it really does start with finding the perfect spot to tap into your inner artist/author/data scientist to produce your best work. 

For Attiya, having a fixed spot at a desk with our air plant, Olivier, looking straight on, was the absolute sweet spot for chewing on data and generally making magic. For myself, as a Content Strategist here at O+S, that place was Kreativ Korner(™).

It turned out that for me, shoes off, stretched out on a sofa in the sunny patch in our office made for the perfect space to get into a brain bubble. I started calling it Kreativ Korner, because:

1. It’s important in this business to foster staying on brand, and

2. It’s where I found myself doing my best work

Here, ideas flowed with little effort, and work got completed a lot faster. It was the perfect combination of comfortable and inspirational. 

But that’s my story. Kreativ Korner looks different for everyone. It might be that you don’t have a place you love coming into work each day. It’s possible that your workday consists in some part of searching for a place where there is strong enough WiFi that you can send that proposal by any means necessary. No matter at what stage in the game you are, I’ll posit that there is a creative flow space, just for you.

Even if your Kreativ Korner is only in your mind, there are a few elements that make it possible for anyone to get their head in the game. 

Sound Game: Grab your best tunes and get cracking.

(Need inspo? Check out what we are listening to in our own Kreativ Korners). 

For me, the music I need to write is completely different than the music I need to attack a mile-long task list, but having it pumping is what fuels my day-to-day Kreativ energy (sorry, not sorry). Even if it’s silence that you need, honor that! Only you know how your creative process works. But the important thing is to be mindful of that, so you are producing your best work. 

Visual Landscape: Cute Kitsch vs. “This…Is…Sparta!” 

I’m a huge people person (more on that in a bit) and can work around nearly everyone. However, one thing that completely throws me off my productivity game is sitting in front of a landscape of rapidly multiplying desk trash, or dozens of “adorable” cat mugs. Maybe you are the same, or perhaps a stuff-populated visual field completely works for you. It’s not a bad thing! In fact, some studies show that clutter may actually help to get you thinking outside the box. But to get into your zone, know your limits and be real with yourself about when admiring your Star Wars Lego desk collectibles stops being inspiring and starts becoming distracting. 

No Man is An Island: But if you are, that’s okay

Everyone has their threshold for Others. I’ve already mentioned that I self-destruct if I’m not around people after a while, and my Kreativ Korner is no different. There is room for others on my sunny sofa and I like it that way. But on our very own team, we’ve got beloved members who prefer to work remotely, because their best ideas come to them when they are flying solo. Embrace your inner MBTI-vert, and pay attention to how you best absorb energy from the people around you. Ultimately your clients will love you for this.

…And everything else…

Whether it’s texture, temperature, color, light, or anything else, there are a thousand little elements that create the perfect environment for your best creative flow. It’s crucial to listen to that! We may not all have, at any given time, the opportunity to dive into the perfect creative space, but the first step is at least being aware of where you are at your best, because at least then you can take advantage when you do have the opportunity. 

In a highly creative job like digital marketing, you always have to be ready to tap into your best headspace. Honestly, inspiration is everywhere, and you have a lot of responsibility to tune into your client’s needs and communicate their particular brand voice, creating something (hopefully) beautiful. Being able to tune in and focus is the lifeblood that pumps through the heart of that process. 

Giving yourself a fighting chance to create the best product possible will give you a leg up in giving your clients your best. So whatever it takes for you to slide into your zone, listen to it, get to work, and get Kreativ!

What are some of your top productivity tips? Hit us up on Twitter and let us know how you get creative!

Pants on Fyre: 5 Key Takeaways Marketers Can Learn from the Festival that Never Was

You guys. It’s here. We are deep in the midst of summer.

Love it or hate it, summer is the time of year that brings the heat, and if you’re lucky, some time off to unwind as well. But what is hands-down, one of the best things about this season? Music festivals. 

That’s right, Festival Season is upon us, and if you are a music lover like we are, this may be your favorite time of year. What’s not to love? Musical lineups, plenty of opportunities to vibe out to great tunes and enjoy the sun with friends.

But what if a music festival offered even more? 

When Billy MacFarland came up with the concept for the now ignominious Fyre Festival, he saw the enormous potential of what a “luxury” music festival like the Fyre Fest could have for expanding the reach of his credit card company Magnises. MacFarland partnered with rapper Ja Rule, among others, and began a partnership that drew in more and higher investing collaborators into the scheme.

In an event that boasted of influencers, celebrities, swag, and incredible music, all located on a private island, MacFarland had all the ingredients for a festival that would go down in history. And indeed it has… but for one incredibly unfortunate reason: the hotly anticipated Fyre Festival never actually happened. 

In one of the most embarrassing and expensive marketing messes in recent memory, the fraudulent Fyre Festival implicated tons of (now) shame-faced celebrities, destroyed businesses, and cost festival goers thousands of dollars, resulting in the most epic festival fail of our lifetimes. But you have to hand it to MacFarland’s marketing team, the festival hype was legendary, for reasons both good and very bad. 

 

Still, nothing is a total failure if you learn something from it, and the Fyre Festival has offered up some pretty incredible lessons for marketers everywhere. Here, in the spirit of Festival Season, we list some key takeaways that every marketer can learn from the festival that never was.

Takeaway #1: Know Your Target Market & Give Them What They Want

Stop. Picture the average festival goer in your imagination. Who are they? What do they need? And how could you get it to them? 

Any successful marketer knows that one of the first steps to creating a successful brand strategy is truly getting to know your potential clients and customers. 

MacFarland knew he wanted to attract the kind of audience who could not only be persuaded to book a flight to a private island filled with celebrities, but also those that would spend incredible amounts of money while there. The fact that there was a large demographic of millennials in attendance who were armed to the teeth with their parents’ plastic (or a metal Magnises card) was no accident. Ethics aside, developing a user persona for your target audience is a key part of having a strong marketing strategy.

Takeaway #2: Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver

Unless you’re Ja Rule, the fact that the Fyre Festival never actually happened has to make even the lesser involved collaborators cringe. 

What was promised to attendees as “luxury villas” ended up being shared geodesic survival tents from FEMA, with no electricity to speak of… and that was if festival goers even made it out of the airport at all. Suffice it to say, there was no luxury, and certainly no music. 

It can happen to the best of us. What starts off as an incredible idea needs to become more than that, especially when client budgets, timelines and a team is involved. You need more than an idea: you need actionable steps to put those ideas in place. In short, your product needs to match your promise.

Takeaway #3: Effective Marketing Gets People in the Feels

The Fyre Festival capitalized on prospective festival goers’ sense of FOMO to create an unmissable sensory experience for them. In effect, people were willing to front their life’s savings to go to this once in a lifetime event that they would be sure to tell their grandkids about, barring the fact that Ja Rule’s efficacy wouldn’t be lost on future generations, which is another story for another day. 

Psychology plays so strongly into buyer behavior, and marketers for the Fyre Fest knew that. What they got right was the effective play on their target audience’s desire to belong to something exclusive, making the end product incredibly tantalizing.

Takeaway #4: Strong Visuals Have the Power to Get Things in Action

Whether it’s a landing page or video content, user experience is important. And nothing quite engages a potential client like strong visuals.

There is a reason that MacFarland persuaded some of the biggest influencers in the game to take to Instagram and build hype around this untested festival. 

An intensely visual platform, Instagram is the perfect stage for getting gorgeous visual content to go viral. The surge in IGTV has only built out this platform tenfold. During that time, prospective festival attendees were lured into the dream of luxury, moderate debauchery, and the chance to hobnob with their favorite celebrities through, among other things, the Fyre Fest Instagram account.

The takeaway?  If effective marketing is the kingdom, strong visuals are the queen. With the limited attention span most users have, it’s crucial that the visuals command them into action.

Takeaway #5: Building Trust is Important

The final marketing takeaway takes form in what didn’t happen: Building a sense of trust with clients.

When Fyre essentially burned to the ground, it took everything with it.  Customer money, labor, and the livelihoods of the island workers. It’s a fact: errors can come with a big expense. For both businesses, and their clients. 

The market can sometimes be unpredictable, and as much as we’d all love not to, there are times when miscalculations are made. It’s not the end of the world, but being honest and taking responsibility is key. In Fyre’s case, no reparations were made to any of the victims–only further attempts to draw them into the scam. 

So what happens if you take a wrong step somewhere in your marketing strategy? Own up to it, revise your strategy, be better, and be thankful that it wasn’t a full-scale, buying a private island with borrowed funds-sized error.

Even if we can look back at some of the biggest fails of our time, or even look back at some of our own, it’s helpful to come back armed with the lessons that they can teach us in our future marketing strategy. And if you lose your way somewhere? Give us a shout… We’re here to help get you back on track. 

Content Marketing Myths to Toss Out the Window

The online business boom in recent years has sent the need for digital marketing skyrocketing. And with good reason. Content marketing is at the very heart of effective communication between businesses (B2B) and between businesses and potential clients (B2C). Among the many things that it encompasses, it can focus on a range of strategies, from email marketing, to social media channels, and search engine optimization (SEO).

Research has shown that quality content drives sales by increasing user traffic and conversions. The rise in demand for this knowledge also means that there is a lot of misinformation out there too. To help you navigate through it all, and avoid any consequent mixed messages, we’ve put together a handy list of five major content marketing myths that you should probably toss out the window.

Ready? Let’s go!

Marketing Myth #1: Content Marketing is something you can manage on the fly.

NOPE! There is a huge difference between adding new content ideas to your editorial calendar as they come up vs. just winging it with your posts based on whatever idea comes to mind. Having a roadmap that fits into your overall digital marketing strategy is crucial. If any of this sounds unfamiliar to you, it might be helpful to step back and take some real time to develop your overall marketing strategy. Need help with this step? We’d be more than happy to show you how!

Marketing Myth #2: Quantity trumps quality.

A common myth often heard through the digital marketing grapevine is that it’s best to keep pumping out content regardless of the quality. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, continually pushing lackluster content actually erodes brand credibility over time. Consider this example using a well-known website: Wikipedia was one of the many high-traffic sites to feel the wrath of Google’s Panda update when they were penalized for overproduction of thin content in 2011. While Panda updates are a thing of the past, it is only because they are now integrated into the tech-giant’s core algorithm. The moral of the story? Quality content is always the way to go.

Marketing Myth #3: Quality content speaks for itself.


We hate to break it to you, but… nothing speaks for itself! Producing quality content is a great start, but you really shouldn’t leave it at that. The next step is making sure that your worthy content actually reaches and gets read, ideally by your target audience. With the over-saturation of information people have to deal with every time they jump online, it’s not easy for them to find their way to the good stuff. You need to come to them.

 

Marketing Myth #4: Prioritizing content marketing is the express route to success.


While a solid content marketing strategy has been proven to generate great results, this doesn’t tend to happen as fast as people think or would like it to. Mostly because the focus with content marketing is that of building a trustworthy reputation as a means of creating a growing, loyal customer base. And often, this takes time, testing, and most of all, patience.

A great example of this is the IT giant, Cisco. Having joined social media networks as far back as 2008, they knew they could benefit from establishing their presence among these channels, but weren’t initially able to demonstrate how. They launched their new router, using only social media to communicate about their product, Over time, their strategy paid off: using only social media saved them over $100,000 over time. And while this strategy looks different for everyone, there really are huge benefits, if you have the patience to let it pay off.

Marketing Myth #5: Anyone can write blog content, and for cheap too!

Oh dear, there are two shades of bogus to this statement… Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

1. Content marketing is so much more than just ‘blogging’ – it’s a strategic approach to communicating with your customers to building a lasting relationship with them based on tangible value and credibility. It also requires factoring in other tools like SEO, infographic creation and online user behavior trends. 

2. Anyone can? It’s fairly common for many businesses to let their budget concerns override their consideration of who is actually going to be doing the content writing. Unfortunately, as far as quality content is concerned, this approach doesn’t get companies very far at all. Good content writing is a serious skill, and no serious skill deserves to be undervalued – especially when it’s been proven to be a huge driver of conversions. Reasonable and respectable rates for a job well done is key in today’s professional world.

Hopefully this has helped give you a clearer understanding of what content marketing entails, the importance of building a solid strategy for it, and the value it can create when you get it right. If you still have doubts as to where to get started, you can always count on us for help to develop a tip-top content marketing strategy. All you need to do is reach out to us here!

How Well Do You Know Your Target Audience?

Image via Carney

There are opportunities for success and failure in marketing your brand every single day. Actually understanding – not just guessing or assuming – your target audience on a fundamental level, as well as what they want, is at the foundation of every successful marketing campaign. Without this, moving your brand to total obscurity could be one poorly targeted advertisement away.

Why this understanding is so important should be pretty obvious, but what many tend to struggle with is knowing how to jumpstart that process of learning about their target audience. In a recent post from Carney that we enjoyed, it goes into a great example about why this is so darn critical:

Let’s take a trip back in time.

In 1958, Honda made the decision to enter the U.S. motorcycle market. At this time, the US motorcycle market was dominated by Harley Davidson, Indian, and Triumph. Riders of those motorcycles were exactly who you think of when someone says, “biker.” They were leather-wearing outsiders.

Back to Honda, when the Japanese company decided to enter the U.S. market, they went after the leather-wearing biker audience. They built some large motorcycles that could compete with Harley.

How’d that work out?

It was a huge success for Hond…ehh, just kidding. It was actually a total flop. Their large bikes barely sold. In the early ’60s, no leather-wearing outsider wanted to switch from a Harley or Indian to a Japanese bike.

While the US Honda team was trying to figure out why no one wanted to buy a Japanese bike, they noticed something unexpected. Urban-living, non-traditional motorcycle riders were taking interest in Honda’s small lightweight bike, the 50cc Super Cub.

In Japan, the Super Cub had always been incredibly popular among the urban-living, younger audience. But, Honda decided to ignore that market in the US and try something completely new.

Eventually, Honda shifted their marketing strategy to target this urban-living audience. Instead of trying to get traditional motorcycle riders on a Honda, they targeted young buyers who had no interest in the black leather jacket persona.

This was the same audience who loved their motorcycles in the Japanese-market — people who just wanted inexpensive, convenient, individual transportation for short trips around town.

That’s where the famous, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” ad campaign came from.

The Super Cub’s massive US success eventually allowed Honda to move into the traditional motorcycle market, and it wasn’t too long before they captured 63% of the US motorcycle market.

So, what’s the point?

Honda almost became a footnote in US automotive history because they didn’t understand their target audience. Luckily, they realized it and pivoted before it was too late.

Had Honda originally focused on their strongest audience, they wouldn’t have wasted time and money marketing to an audience who was never going to buy their motorcycles.

 

The author goes on to describe some of their tried-and-true ways to really begin understanding the target audience for your own situation. While no two businesses are exactly the same, these methods will give you the jumping off point needed to create a successful marketing campaign.

  1. Sit in on sales calls with your sales team. Pay attention to the questions their prospects ask and how the sales team answers them.

  2. Spend time with customer service too. You can learn a ton from both happy and dissatisfied customers.

  3. Talk to your customers. For real. Reach out to 10 or 15 customers and ask if you can just talk to them for 15 minutes.

  4. Check out online forums. There’s a really good chance that an online community exists for your target audience. Start with Reddit. Do this for 30 minutes per day for 2 weeks. You’ll learn a lot.

  5. Read review sites. Sites like Yelp, Google, G2 Reviews, Capterra, etc. can be a gold mine for customer info.

 

You can head to the Carney website here to view the entire article about how audience research is driving marketing today.

Need some help with understanding your own target audience? Feel free to reach out to our team to see how we can help. 

Social Balance: How to Choose the Right Social Media Channels for Your Business

There are a lot of social media channels out there, but just because they exist doesn’t mean that your business should be active on it. Companies can sometimes spend way too much time, effort, and advertising budget on social channels that just aren’t right for them.

Social Media Channels: Where to Begin, Anyway?

With so many social media channels in existence today, it can be difficult to decide which selection or spread might be the best one for your brand. Here, we’ll list some of the most popular social media channels in 2019 with businesses, and (more importantly) discuss how they work to best for businesses.

Facebook

The classic. Facebook has been around long enough at this point to boast friendships on it lasting — at least — ten years. As far as social media networks go, Facebook can proudly label itself the gold standard of the social media community, because its primary goal is just that: building a community.

Source: https://www.musicalamerica.com

Any business that wants to see any life at all online quite simply needs to have a presence on Facebook. Through ads, mentions, and engagement to a full-blown marketplace, Facebook has skyrocketed in relevance since its inception. Over the years, Facebook’s explosion has created a myriad of opportunity as well as risk. The biggest risk for businesses, though (beyond not creating and maintaining an active profile) is relying on it as a lone vehicle to increase their web traffic.

  • Great for: An up-to-date and well-maintained Facebook page is the first step to establishing legitimacy for any business. At its best, it is a vehicle for online and physical business traffic and is effective for businesses of almost all sizes to build awareness of their brand, as well as establish relationships with their online community.
  • Pitfalls: The popularity of Facebook and the recent changes to its algorithm affects what users see in their feed. Marketers need to be strategic about what they post and when so that their business is well-positioned to reach as many users as possible.

Instagram

It’s almost impossible these days to have a product or service on the market that isn’t in some way marketed through Instagram. And can you blame it? Audiences are intensely visual, and this is a fact that is increasing over time.

Source: https://www.instagram.com

Instagram relies on this as a method to reach a wide range of audiences. Its newest feature, IGTV, is ever expanding their reach to new levels, in an attempt that rivals even YouTube as it makes its move to position itself as a competitor to streaming giants like Hulu and Apple TV. The strength of Instagram is that it is a fantastic way for businesses to build brand awareness and generate leads through storytelling and real engagement with its audience.

  • Great for: Great for very visual products and services, but also is a great opportunity for marketers to be creatively strategic, as there are so many ways to get creative about showing your brand in action.
  • Pitfalls: Traditionally, it was difficult to make conversions through IG, because the options for direct sales were limited. Things are changing now, as businesses are finding ways around this through the use and continued development of add-ons that make Instagram feeds instantly more shoppable.

Twitter

Twitter has long made its mark in social media by being the long-running voice of the people. Businesses have come to rely on Twitter as a great way to get audiences involved in their brand’s day-to-day marketing voice. Twitter functions a lot like the voice of a brand and is able to provide near to constant communication with an audience.

Source: https://www.twitter.com/calacademy

The way Twitter functions allows users to be involved in the day-to-day discourse of trusted figures and brand ambassadors, so Twitter has established itself as a reliable and accessible brand voice over time. This has been expanded even more recently as Twitter has extended its trademark 140 character limit to encompass 280 characters. It seems like a small feat, but in actuality allows for everyday users become reliable brand ambassadors themselves for businesses or causes.

  • Great for: Businesses that need to share news, specials, and rapidly changing information with their clients. Serves also as a great vehicle to mobilize their audience to share brand-specific information with other users.
  • Pitfalls: The sheer volume of tweets on Twitter make it entirely possible to get your message completely lost along the way, which means it never lands where your target audience is most likely to see it. That makes strategic timing and planning of tweets crucial so that your messages don’t end up being, well, just noise.

Snapchat

Snapchat isn’t just for kids. Savvy marketers know that even though there are many SM channels that utilize the smart features that Snapchat originated, like disappearing stories and the ubiquitous filter technology, Snap just keeps growing!

Source: https://www.snap.com

In 2018 alone, Snapchat was slated to generate over $1.2 M, from advertising and branded content. And those trends show no signs of slowing. What’s the secret behind Snapchat’s success? Well, it’s highly visual and makes use of users’ shrinking attention spans. And for younger users that are saturated with the contrived ads they’ve grown up with, it can be an incredibly effective tool to see branded content in use in an authentic way, by people they can relate to.

  • Great for: Authentic marketing, targeted to a younger audience. This is perfect for larger businesses that have highly visible content, and products or services that can be seen in use.
  • Pitfalls:  Snapchat doesn’t currently have the capability to allow users to like and comment on each others’ rapidly disappearing content. So for now, influencers and representatives have to rely on their perceived influence, as it doesn’t foster the more personal engagement that users can find with other social media channels. And as advertising is available through Snapchat, it can end up being costly for smaller to medium-sized businesses.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a goldmine for audiences that are looking to get inspired. Try to remember a time before you’ve heard the term “Pinterest-style (wedding/party/living room).” It’s nearly impossible. That’s because this highly visual platform is an effective tool for users to curate their online experience by selecting highly visual content that helps them to create a series of mood boards featuring their favorite photos and products representing a common theme or idea, and all according to their taste.  

Source: https://business.pinterest.com

This means that they are more likely to be looking to purchase items or products that they find once they have been added to their curated collections. Why is this huge for businesses? Pinterest utilizes nearly every stage of the traditional marketing funnel to build interest, build relationships between the community of users and the businesses, and to lead potential customers to make purchasing decisions.

  • Great for: It’s great for products because often users want to create a custom list to shop from and Pinterest’s idea boards make products accessible and easy to shop.
  • Pitfalls: Pinterest has a weakness, and which is that it is all too easy for businesses to create spam that erodes user trust over time. Marketers need to be strategic about maintaining links about available products so that users can rely on them, and businesses can maintain credibility.

Finding the Balance in Social Media Presence

With so many options available, how do you know which is the right choice for your business?

Let’s take a look at a few steps that will help you determine some deciding factors to choosing the right option for your brand.

Step 1 – Figure out your goals for social media

This may be the most important step in any marketing strategy. At what part of the marketing strategy are you hoping to reach your audience? Determining whether you are trying to build engagement, or actively convert leads into returning customers will be your first step in deciding which social media channel is right for your business.

Step 2 – Define your target audience

Who do you want to engage with your brand? It’s so tempting to get ambitious here because it’s natural for businesses to hope to court as wide an audience as possible. But your best strategy here is to build a marketing persona and market to your target audience strategically.  Putting some research into who they are, what they would like, and what their needs are will help to determine an effective social media strategy.

Step 3 – Figure out where your target audience (and competitors) are operating online

What’s your audience doing online? And who (or what?) are they engaging with while they are there? This takes the strategy of defining your target audience to the next level. Using analytics tools, and A/B testing will help you to determine what SM channels your target audience (and competitors) are engaging with and will give you a clearer picture of how to narrow down your focus, and strengthen your social media strategy.

If you are trying to get your brand out there to reach your audience, you’ve got to know who your audience is, what they are looking for, and how to work with where they are looking online! Knowing the strengths and downfalls of the most popular social media channels will be the first line of attack in determining how to create an effective social media strategy.

If you need help determining how to best position your business in the ever-shifting market on social media, don’t be afraid to reach out. We stay on top of the latest in social media trends so that you can do what you do best!