Just like marketing in general, it’s good to have a strategy when it comes to building your marketing team. You need to be purposeful when deciding who to hire—if your team is unbalanced you’ll have a difficult time getting all tasks completed. Even if you decide to outsource some or all of your marketing activities, this guide should help you identify the best partner.
Determining the Structure of Your Marketing Team
The exact structure of your team will depend on your business goals. For example, if you’re primarily focused on lead generation, you’ll want more resources devoted to content creation. This includes blogs, video content, ebooks, checklists, etc). You also need to maintain your digital presence, including your website and regular posting on your social media accounts. Another content focus should be developing lead magnet activities like email marketing sequences and value-driven webinars.
On the other hand, if your main goal is branding (aka getting your name out there), youll have different priorities. You still want to maintain your online presence but you’ll also want to have resources focused on tactics that engage the community. This could include event sponsorship (local or virtual), public relations, and thought leadership. Thought leadership is particularly effective if you want to build your brand’s reputation as a leading expert.
It’s easy to imagine that each priority will have a different person responsible. Yet for most small and even midsized businesses this just isn’t possible. Not only for the obvious financial reasons, but also because each responsibility isn’t typically a full 40 hour per week job. A better way to structure the team is by grouping tasks based on the skills needed to complete them – like graphic design or analysis. Most people are skilled in multiple areas, so your designer might also be tech-savvy and lead your webinars. Or a writer might also be adept at creating and managing campaign schedules.
The Types of People You Need On Your Marketing Team
Someone who makes decisions. If you’re building the team, this is likely one of your roles. Having one person in charge of the department is important to operations. Someone needs to be the final say on what needs to be done and who is going to do it. It’s also helpful for others in the organization to have a single point of contact for all department communications. In a small business, the decision maker for marketing might even be the President or CEO! Just remember that unless your background is in marketing, you should hire well so that you can listen to and trust your team’s recommendations.
Someone who loves planning and organization. This trait is extremely important in marketing because we’re responsible for so many tasks and have a lot of balls in the air. There’s no point in developing well thought-out campaigns if you blow the deadlines. This person is a great candidate to learn all about your tech stack – the software and programs that assist your marketing activities. Maybe you use a social media scheduler and build campaign schedules in Airtable. Whatever way you track all your marketing tasks, someone needs to be aware of the daily to-do list and keep things running smoothly.
Someone who writes well. Writing is a critical skill that applies to every single touchpoint of your marketing. It’s hard enough to write clear copy that engages your audience, but throwing SEO optimization into the mix challenges even the most seasoned cooywriter. Even if creating long form content isnt a priority, you shouldnt ignore the power of communication. It’s just as challenging (if not more so) to craft short yet compelling copy for an ad as it is to draft a 1,500 word blog post. Being able to write well is my top most desired skill when interviewing marketing staff because its not something thats easy to teach on the fly.
Someone with design skills. I’m a believer that you either have an eye for design or you don’t. I’m not talking about classically trained skills – some people just know what looks good and what doesn’t. Specific programs like the Adobe Creative Suite can be taught (and there’s always Canva). But without someone who has a basic eye for design, you’ll struggle a LOT when creating pleasing social posts or presentations for clients. As a side note, if you’re just starting out and need a brand identity suite (including a logo), you should consider hiring a professional. That’s usually not a task for an entry-level designer.
Someone who is tech-savvy. This person doesn’t necessarily have to be on your marketing team if you have an IT department. But as previously mentioned, there are so many martech tools available and someone should be able to figure out which ones to use and how best to use them. Not to mention navigating all the different social media platforms and the backend of your website, which can be a beast all on its own! Again, unless you’re building the most basic website, I recommend engaging with a professional web design company to develop your site and get it done right. Your staff can then make updates and maintain the site once the structure is built.
Someone who is analytical. Not all marketers are right-brained creative types! It takes a logical mind to analyze the myriad data available from marketing activities and determine what it all means. Each social media platform will give you analytics on your posts, the audience you’re reaching, your engagement, and more. You’ll have similar analytics from your website and email marketing platforms. And then there are more manual activities, like tracking exposure from event sponsorship or media mentions. The best analysts will be able to draw conclusions from all this data and use that information to direct your future activities.
General Traits All Marketers Should Have
To me, the top desired traits in a marketing team member are innovation and creativity. Both are indicators of someone who is able to think outside the box and come up with unique solutions. Along this path of thinking, you should look for someone who has initiative and is willing to take risks. Once they’re trained and have an understanding of how the department and company operate, they will be able to suggest new ideas and implement those ideas (with your approval). If they are a naturally risk-averse person, they might not be open-minded enough to truly innovate. You need someone who is willing to suggest big moves that lead to big payoffs.
Other helpful traits I’ve identified over the years include an interest in watching industry trends, good research skills, and a commitment to learning more and improving their skills. And of course the traits that apply to all positions – organization, attention to detail, time management, punctuality, and a generally good attitude – are valued in marketing as well!
Even if you’re hiring for an entry level position, you should look for candidates with work experience. Before you get up in arms about that statement, I don’t mean required industry experience! Entry level should mean exactly that. But candidates who have prior experience in retail, food service, and other customer service positions will already have some of the skills necessary to be great in marketing. If a candidate has a marketing internship on their resume, definitely snatch them up! This is golden experience that built on their education and opened their eyes to real-world marketing operations.
What If I Can’t Afford a Marketing Team?
If your business is very small or you’re just starting out, you might not be able to hire multiple people for marketing activities. I’m sure it’s tempting to try to do it yourself, but again, unless your background is in marketing, don’t fall into this trap! Marketing is more than just posting on Instagram and calling it a day. You need a strategy that is aligned with your business goals and tactics that bring the strategy to fruition. And even if your background IS in marketing, you have many other business tasks that only you, as the owner, can take care of. It’s best to invest in staff that are solely devoted to marketing.
If you can’t afford an entire team, you can start with just one full-time marketing hire. Look for someone with the organizational skills and initiative necessary to keep everything on task. Content creation, like writing and design, can be outsourced easily. You can even outsource your marketing strategy by partnering with a fractional CMO—an expert whose time you pay for only as much as you need it. This person should work to learn as much about your business and your goals as possible. Then they can craft a strategic marketing plan and work as an extension of your business to guide your marketing efforts.
If you’re tempted to skip marketing altogether to save money, I’ll simply wish you luck on your venture. You’re gonna need it!
How strong is your customer loyalty? Do your customers return to you as soon as they need your services or products? Or do they shop around for the lowest price or most convenient path?
If you know me at all, you know that I am a Coca-Cola fanatic. I will not drink Pepsi. If a restaurant doesn’t serve Coke, I drink water. But a little-known fact about me is that I used to drink Pepsi! When I was in high school, there were only Pepsi machines around the campus and I was fine substituting while on campus.
Since then, I’ve been choosing to drink Coke. I’ve convinced myself that anything less is just worthless (even Coke Zero). Psychologically, I just know that Coke is the best. What led to me becoming so loyal to Coke?
Short answer: consistency.
Using Consistency to Build Customer Loyalty
The secret to building customer loyalty is being consistent. Not just in any one area, but in ALL touchpoints.
1. Visual branding
Coca-Cola was the most common consistency example cited in my printing classes. It’s the brand that was always used to emphasize the importance of reproducing an exact color on any and every substrate. From cardboard boxes to magazine ads to aluminum cans, Coke red is always consistent. They even had their own PMS color created just for them!
Beyond the color, Coke has had the same font for their logo since 1886. It’s been tweaked slightly over the years, but the script has remained largely the same for almost 140 years. This type of consistency means that the image is instantly recognizable to consumers.
2. Brand Reputation and Values
Reputation is difficult to control in a lot of ways. It’s the expression of what a collective thinking is about your brand, and it can be incredibly challenging to change a bad reputation. However, reputation is strongly tied to your brand’s values.
Continuing the Coke example, their values include bringing people together. Ads are always about sharing a Coke with someone and use emotional marketing to resonate with consumers. The name campaign (where they printed names on bottles) was an innovative way to encourage people to buy and share Coke. Yet it fit right into their desire to bring people together.
When people know what you stand for and you’re consistent about representing your brand, they’re more likely to feel good about supporting you.
3. Product or Service Quality
No matter where you travel in the world, you can find a Coke. It’s always refreshing and always delicious!
This is not to say that it’s the same formula everywhere you go. Just like McDonald’s has different menu items to better serve customers in other cultures and countries, Coke has slight differences depending on where you go. (For example, Mexican Coke is renowned for its use of real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.)
But the point remains that, regional differences aside, you always know what to expect. I can buy a Coke at my local grocery store and get the same taste as I’d get from a gas station in Colorado. That’s consistency, and the guarantee of getting what I want every single time has cemented my customer loyalty.
Products aren’t the only thing that can be consistent. Service providers should also strive for consistent quality through every experience. If your maid service is sometimes fantastic and other times lackluster, you’re more likely to explore other options. But if they’re on top of things every single time they visit, you’ll be so happy that you’ll have no need to see what else is out there.
4. Product Placement
If your company is a B2C business serving consumers, you need to be consistent in where they can find you. I know that I can go into pretty much any retail establishment in the United States and find a Coke. Even if you’re a niche business that crafts vegan hemp dog collars, you should have your product always available where your customers expect you. If you sell on your website, you’d better make sure your site doesn’t go down. If you sell at a retailer, you should have a stocking schedule that allows for representation. Nothing is more disappointing than expecting to get what you want and having it be unavailable.
5. Customer Experience
This is your area to shine! The experience is paramount to building customer loyalty. Consider your buyer’s journey and the decisions they make that lead them to your product or service. Then look at every touchpoint between the decision to purchase and the transaction being complete. Have you provided excellent service? Have you delighted the customer with little details? Do these things every time and for every interaction, and you’ll have a customer for life.
When people know what to expect and know they’ll get it every time, you’ll build a loyal following who call you first when they need you. Better yet, you’re their ONLY call because nothing else compares. Build customer loyalty with consistency and you’ll win every time!
This post was contributed by Sadie Aram for Silverbrook Marketing.
Celebrating gratitude is one of the most fulfilling parts of the holiday season. Although it’s fun giving gifts during the holidays, remember that appreciation should happen year-round—especially when it comes to your customers. After all, they play a crucial role in your company’s success. No matter the size of your business, implementing a strong customer appreciation strategy can set you apart from your competitors.
Think of going the extra mile for your customers like a chain reaction. When you openly recognize a customer’s value, they become more loyal to your business, increasing your customer retention. Loyal customers are also more likely to refer your business to their friends and family (and referrals are also likely to be star customers).
If customer appreciation isn’t on your radar, it could be one reason you’re losing customers. Almost 70% of buyers abandon a company because they believe the company doesn’t care about them, compared to less than 15% of buyers who abandon a company due to product or service dissatisfaction. Fortunately, upgrading your customer appreciation efforts can start with these 7 tips.
1. Handwrite thank you notes.
In a world where commerce is highly digital, showing authentic gratitude can go a long way. Sending a personalized letter is a great approach! It shows your customer that there’s a human behind the company that wants to form a connection. If you’re short on time, try drafting automated emails for specific occasions instead. You could thank customers for recent purchases or even celebrate milestones like their “customer-versary.”
2. Spotlight loyal clients.
Promoting customers or businesses on social media and via email can be equally fun and productive. You do this by posting a customer’s story, highlighting a rave review, or grabbing an existing bio if your clients are other businesses. By consistently featuring supporters, you make customers feel good while also creating content for your company.
3. Give discounts and freebies.
Gifts of any size are sure to flatter your customers. It can be as small as a coupon for their next order, a free sample with their purchase, or branded swag like a t-shirt or a mug. If you’re feeling extra gracious, offer an upgrade to their current service or send them their favorite product free of charge. Remember to be thoughtful; consider sending your handwritten note with the gift to deliver the full package.
4. Build a loyalty program.
Loyalty programs are an effective way to express your gratitude to your most supportive customers. Discounts on future purchases, early access to new products, and other perks are sure to keep your customers happy and coming back for more. Programs can be based on different tiers of membership, points earned from each purchase, or a simple “punch card” approach.
5. Encourage (and reward) referrals.
Incorporating a referral program is one of the most highly praised marketing methods, as it generates several quality leads per customer. Like a loyalty program, a referral program is beneficial to both your customers and your business. As mentioned before, regular clients are likely to recommend your company to others. Since that helps your business, why not reward both parties for it? Cash back and free service offers are foolproof ways to encourage customers to refer a contact to your company.
6. Correct your mistakes.
Since there are humans behind every business, occasional mistakes are inevitable. While you can’t go back in time to prevent the mistake, you can control how you take accountability and apologize. In fact, 78% of customers will forgive a mistake if their customer experience is excellent. You can quickly turn a customer’s poor experience around by promptly fixing the problem and going beyond what was initially asked.
7. Give back to a cause close to your customers.
Free stuff can be the way to some people’s hearts, but customer loyalty runs much deeper to others. Show your consumer base that you care by donating to a charity that aligns with their values. You could even consider making a few small donations in each client’s honor to show that they played a role in the support. Having a consistent corporate social responsibility initiative can also contribute to a strong brand identity.
These tactics are a great way to foster beneficial relationships with your clients, but they’re not a “one-and-done” deal. Practice gratitude frequently and genuinely to send the right message to your customers.
This guest post was written by Sadie Aram for Silverbrook Marketing.
The United States is home to over 4,000 higher education institutions, and each one is competing for the attention of prospective students. If that doesn’t produce enough stress already, college enrollment numbers have been on a decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, it’s important for higher education marketing teams to implement engaging and effective campaigns to reach future attendees. If you’re struggling to spread the word about what your school has to offer, make sure you have these four strategies in your marketing plan.
1. Personalize the experience.
Use emotional marketing to connect with potential students. They will be better able to see themselves at a school that recognizes and addresses their unique needs. Tailor your message to specific groups based on marketing personas developed from existing demographic data. A persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal candidate that can help you envision the audience you’re appealing to. It can look something like this:
“Alexis is a 19-year-old high school senior. She is a section leader for the marching band and excels in her honors classes. She hopes to pursue a career in engineering when she is older. Alexis values a strong community and hopes to have security in her adult life.”
Each student has a different motive for pursuing higher education, so your institution should develop multiple personas appealing to small groups with like interests. For example, you wouldn’t market to a high school student the same way you would market to a mother looking to further her education.
2. Spotlight success.
College is no small commitment to make, so students want to get a glimpse of what’s waiting for them. Showcase student, faculty, and alumni achievement to demonstrate to prospective students the influence that their education could have on their future.
Showcasing success doesn’t require someone to be the next Albert Einstein or Brad Pitt. Are professors conducting innovative research? Are alumni holding impressive positions at high-profile companies? Are student organizations making an impact on the world? These are all feats to celebrate, and they could be strong factors in someone’s decision to choose your school.
And don’t stop at academic success! Any achievement—whether in athletics, art, entertainment, etc.—is a great way to spotlight your institution in a positive way.
3. Highlight the numbers.
When making critical decisions, we tend to rely on data evidence to inform our choices. Numbers help prove the effectiveness of your institution in a tangible way. Data reinforces your school’s success, and numbers are easier to consume than a chunk of text that portrays the same information.
Does your college have an impressive selection of majors and minors? A high freshman retention rate? A small student-to-professor ratio? Don’t be afraid to brag and show them off! Have general facts and figures easily accessible as well, such as total number of students, price of tuition, and average test scores of admitted students.
4. Adopt a digital-focused approach.
Most of today’s students belong to Generation Z, a group characterized by more digital media usage than ever before. Establishing a space for your institution in the digital world is a foolproof strategy for grabbing your audience’s attention. Here are a few ways to do so:
- Build a responsive website: Your website is often the first place students will look for more information about your school. Additionally, over half of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Because of this, be sure that your website is well-organized and mobile-friendly. Make requesting more information easy and use your website as a gateway for your other digital platforms.
- Improve SEO: Most people rely on search engines like Google to find the information they need. However, 75% of Google users don’t click past the first page of results, so search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to your digital success. You can bolster your SEO rankings by producing a variety of content and researching the best keywords to incorporate, but this is a highly technical field. The best results often come from the help of an expert.
- Email with intention: Students prefer email over direct mail, but you don’t want to end up in their spam folder. Remember to personalize your messages to peak your reader’s interest. You can streamline this process by using email automation software like Constant Contact or Mailchimp.
- Stay active on social media: A recent study showed that 94% of Gen Z use social media, so it’s a no-brainer that you should, too. Be sure you’re frequently posting consistent content to entice your audience. Consider posting various formats and subjects, including photos of campus, infographics, videos, and live streams.
- Leverage user-generated content: Amplifying images, videos, reviews, and other assets created by your followers is a great way to influence potential students. Having many different viewpoints from your connections gives your brand an authentic presence and gives students an exclusive look into the university lifestyle.
What do you think? Have you tried these strategies? Are there any that I missed? We’d love to hear from you!
This article was contributed by Sadie Aram for Silverbrook Marketing.
Are you struggling to find the missing piece of your marketing strategy? Introducing your new secret weapon: HARO. Although some would argue that marketing and public relations are separate entities, there’s no doubt that the two go hand in hand. If you’re a public relations beginner, don’t worry—with the right techniques, you can be a HARO pro in no time.
What is HARO?
HARO, which stands for “Help A Reporter Out,” is a mailing list where reporters submit queries to connect with sources that can give information to use in their articles. Think of it like a dating app—if you have the insight that a journalist is looking for, then it’s a match! Using HARO is a more efficient way to secure media coverage than spending hours writing the perfect press release and blindly sending it to journalists who rummage through hundreds of emails per day.
Receiving press exposure is an effective way to amplify your business without paying a cent; it just requires a bit of time and effort. A simple quote can make your company visible to a new, wider audience, which will set you apart from your competitors. Earning mentions from the media can increase the credibility of your business, allowing you to become an opinion leader in your field.
How Do I Use HARO?
To use HARO, you must sign up to become a source. Create a free account using your name, email address, and company name and act on relevant queries as frequently as you like. HARO is made possible by mutual trust and support, so be sure to read the rules for sources before replying to queries. Once registered, you will receive three emails each weekday at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m., and 5:35 p.m. Each email will contain requests categorized by industry, like business, sports, education, and more. You can also choose to receive industry-specific emails. Here are a few examples from the HARO Twitter, where urgent requests are posted:
“Seeking experts to provide information on how often credit card declines occur, and how to prevent it from happening in the first place.”
“Seeking the latest tools, gadgets, etc. for coffee and tea lovers who brew the perfect cup at home.”
“Seeking experts to discuss career planning as a parent”
“Seeking people with enormous Halloween decorations.”
Top Tips for Using HARO
As you can see, requests can vary greatly. While mastering HARO takes experience over time, here are a few dos and don’ts to follow when getting started:
- DO act fast: Journalism is fast-moving and queries are time sensitive. Improve the chances of your response being chosen by moving just as fast! Read HARO emails as soon as they are sent and compose a response once you find a relevant request.
- DO keep it concise: Giving a reporter exactly what they need is the best way to get noticed. Leave out “fluffy,” distracting information that steers attention away from the real message. Consider including direct quotes so journalists can pull directly from your response.
- DO include the full package: Attach a headshot, a short bio, and other appropriate details like your contact information and your company’s website. Avoid asking for an additional comment or interview, though. We’re still in the fast lane!
- DON’T reply to every request: Always double-check that you meet the requirements and bring the right expertise to the table. If your reply is irrelevant to the query, your response will go straight to the journalist’s trash bin. It’s okay to wait for the right query—especially if you have a unique angle for their story.
- DON’T do it for the backlinks: If a writer uses you as a source, they will often link back to your website. Yes, this is beneficial to your website’s search engine optimization (SEO), but it shouldn’t be the leading motive of your HARO responses. Think of it as a plus for helping reporters get the quotes they need for their next articles.
- DON’T self-promote: Unless a query is specifically asking about a certain product or service (i.e. “Seeking gift ideas for doctors and other medical professionals”), leave sales out of your response. More than half of publishers will decline a pitch that’s too promotional. Respond with value and focus on what your expertise can contribute to the topic.
While incorporating HARO into your marketing routine, keep in mind that your first response will likely not get your company into the New York Times. While it may take a few attempts to secure media coverage, be consistent with HARO to see the best results. When a journalist uses your response, say thank you and share the article on your social media pages. Developing a relationship with a journalist can help you land more placements in the future!