by Sunny Branson, General Manager
As we approach the end of the year, it’s important to take a look back and think about what worked and what didn’t in content creation and marketing communication over the past year. How could things be improved for 2019?
To start, we suggest taking an inventory of your content marketing efforts for the past year. Were you heavy on press releases but light on social media? Were your efforts a bit light in a region where you’re hoping to expand? Were you hitting your key themes for SEO? Were your messages consistent across all communications vehicles?
Taking an inventory of the past year is a great way to start planning for the coming year. Here are some things to think about as you consider your 2019 planning.
- Competitive Positioning
How does the market view you? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see opportunities … or threats? Are there perceptions that need to be changed? To whom are you losing sales and why?
- Forward-Looking Goals
What are your goals in 2019? Are you looking to penetrate new markets or delve into new regional territories? Will you be launching new products or services? Do you have an acquisition on the horizon? Thinking all this through will help you define your priorities.
Based on these priorities, what events make sense for your business? There are a lot of industry trade shows, but you shouldn’t feel as if you must do all of them. Which ones will help you reach your goals? Once you have identified target events, start thinking about which events warrant content-creation projects, such as a trade show preview document, application note, conference presentation, etc. Will you have big news at show time? If so, perhaps a press conference or one-on-one press meetings are in order.
- Social Media
Where have you seen the best results? What types of posts get the most attention? Are there specific campaigns you could schedule? Are you considering new social media tools? Do you need to change your social media strategy? If you haven’t been active in social media, it might be time to re-evaluate the importance of social media in your overall marketing strategy.
- Media Spending
You might think PR is better than advertising because editorial is more credible, and we would agree. But even with a crack team of PR pros working round-the-clock, you can’t get enough coverage to be everywhere all the time. With paid media, you can. And it doesn’t have to be traditional print advertising. Your media spending could include digital banners on a website or newsletter, an email blast to a subscriber list, a speaking slot resulting from sponsoring a conference, or a webinar you put on with a publication promoting it to its subscribers.
So, think about where you get the most bang for your buck. Should you consider webinars or e-books? What about training sessions or speaking opportunities? All of these options have merits on their own, but an integrated plan comprises a mix of some if not all of those components.
Great content shouldn’t live only once. It should be augmented and repurposed everywhere to draw in and engage customers. For example, think of a white paper posted to your website. Take that great content and leverage it everywhere you can by turning it into new marketing tools. A successful marketing campaign takes all kinds of layers: press releases, articles, social media, email marketing, advertising, etc. The endgame is to drive people to your website, where your own inbound marketing and sales efforts can then take over.
If you think we can help your company with 2019 planning, then get in touch. We’ll show you how to strategize, plan, and execute communications that get results.
We’re proud to be among the sponsors of this year’s 4K 4Charity Fun Run at the 2018 SMPTE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (SMPTE 2018) in LA. Proceeds from the race, which starts at 7 a.m. on Oct. 24, will benefit the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media!
We hope to see you in LA for the conference. We’ll be looking for you at the finish line! Or at one of the many SMPTE 2018 sessions and networking events, if that’s more your cup of tea … or stein of beer … or glass of wine.
by Laila Bishay, Senior Account Manager
One year ago, following in the footsteps of other digital media giants, LinkedIn officially introduced its own video strategy. The ability to share video on LinkedIn is critical because it has emerged as perhaps the most trusted platform for B2B networking, while social media networks such as Facebook have lost some of their appeal for serious business purposes.
User-generated video is an effective way to share information, insights, and perspectives in a direct and engaging manner that is often more personal than written communication, and LinkedIn understands this. The company has made it easy for you to share video through your LinkedIn feed — just upload it from your computer or link to a YouTube video. (Unfortunately, the LinkedIn mobile app does not yet allow you to upload directly from your phone, which makes sharing video on LinkedIn a two-step process if, for example, you are trying to use your phone to record and share video from a trade show floor. But the company says it will address this issue in future updates.)
LinkedIn does, however, give you a growing array of tools for making that content discoverable and for understanding your viewers.
The LinkedIn dashboard (via mobile and desktop) conveniently offers valuable audience insights that help you see the people and companies who view your video content, as well as the likes and comments associated with each video. In short, this information reveals whether or not a particular video is reaching its target audience.
By identifying viewers and their titles, LinkedIn video analytics show who’s connecting with you — giving you meaningful opportunities for networking, recruiting, and generating sales leads. If you’re seeking to establish yourself or your company as an influencer or thought leader, then sharing video on LinkedIn is a great way to amass followers and engage with them directly. If nothing else, the simple appeal of video can be useful in capturing and retaining your followers’ attention, thereby increasing the time they spend on your LinkedIn profile and the number of repeat visits.
Interested in making your own video for LinkedIn? We’ve got you covered with a how-to video and simple tips to help make the final product look polished. Check out our recent postings:
After you’ve made your video, just upload it to LinkedIn from your computer and start connecting!
by Laila Bishay, Senior Account Manager
At this point, your trade show preparation is probably behind you. Booth designs have been finalized, flights and hotels are booked, and your R&D teams are probably heads-down making final touches to the products you’ll be showing.
So, now’s the time to think about how you’re going to present your products to the world.
Videos are a great way of showcasing everything from individual products to complete solutions. It’s pretty rare to have all your latest products on display in one place, with all your key staff on hand. So why not schedule video interviews with key publications or take the opportunity to record your own video at the show?
A short video can be a great addition to your website, newsletters, and social media postings.
Here are a few handy hints to make sure you get the best results:
It’s important for the interviewer and interviewee to think in advance about the key messages they want to convey. Hoping for the best once the camera is rolling is never a good idea! Interviewers should ask leading questions that start with “what,” “how,” or “why?” Avoid questions that allow the interviewee to answer “yes” or “no.”
Think about visual aids
If you plan to use visual aids during your interview, such as diagrams or screen shots, make sure they are positioned straight in front of the camera and are large enough to be seen clearly. Better still, avoid them altogether.
Find a quiet spot
Obviously, this can be a challenge once the show is on, but try to move away from obvious sources of noise, such as a demo pod or presentation area.
Pick your background
Make sure there is a decent background behind the interviewee. A company logo, a visually appealing display, or an attractive rack of products are good options. Something with your brand on it.
Consider the framing
Position the camera so that there is enough space around the interviewee. For the shot to be correctly framed, the eyes should be a third down from the top of the screen, and the interviewee should be slightly to the left or right.
Lose the badges
Remove exhibitor badges and lanyards. They never look good, and they will date your video.
And speaking of dating your video …
It’s great to promote the specific trade show, but be aware that doing so will give your video a shorter shelf life. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of it by focusing on your new products, product lines, and company.
Keep it short
Few people have the time or patience to watch a lengthy video, so interviewees must be precise with their responses. 20-30 seconds for each answer is about right.
Don’t look down the lens
Anyone other than a practiced speaker can be uncomfortable talking directly to the camera. You’ll get much better results if the questions are asked by someone standing slightly to the left or right of the camera. This will give the interviewee a “real person” to talk to and ensure the right eye line. If you are doing multiple interviews that you plan to edit together, alternate on which side of the camera the interviewer stands.
There’s nothing wrong with smiling or pausing when you are in front of the camera. Your message will be stronger if you talk with passion about your products rather than looking as if you’ve memorized a brochure.
by Lyndsey Albright, Senior Account Manager
It’s trade show season, and if you’re like most marcom folks in the industry, you’re doing everything humanly possible to book as many meetings with editors as you can. But if you’re finding it harder and harder to get on the editors’ calendars, you’re not alone. As publications consolidate or downsize, journalists are becoming ever more pressed for time, so they’re being more selective about how they spend it.
We surveyed some of the most influential editors in the industry about this very topic. We asked them how they felt about at-show booth meetings, and here’s what they had to say:
- Keep regions in mind. For example, only request a meeting with a German publication if you are active in Germany. That means having customers or participating in events in the region. It might help to have your regional distributor attend the meeting. Editors appreciate talking with someone knowledgeable about their country or region.
- Make sure you have something new and interesting to talk about. Editors appreciate relationship-building, but at these shows, their time is tight, and if you don’t have something newsworthy for them to publish, they’d rather skip the meeting.
- Do your homework about the publication. It’s important to know the markets and topics the publication covers to make sure that what you have to say is relevant. Better yet, take a look at their editorial calendars to see if there is a relevant topic coming up. If that topic is months away, then perhaps a postshow phone call would be better than a meeting — for you and for them!
- Keep it quick – 10-15 minutes. Don’t give a product demo. Journalists just don’t have the time for demos at these shows. Make your press kit available on a thumb drive, and when you talk to the journalists, just hit the highlights. Focus on the high-level news rather than going into too much product detail.
- If you have a press conference but request a one-on-one meeting in addition to it, then use that extra time to tell the editors something they didn’t hear at the press conference. Give them some news embargoed for a later date or suggest an article based on their editorial calendars.
The takeaway: Respect journalists’ time and be prepared to share something of value to make the meeting worth their while. They’ll appreciate the effort, it’ll be a more productive meeting for both of you, and you’ll be more likely to get their attention in the future.
by Susan Warren, Chief Business Development Officer
Like all exhibitors, you want to capture leads at your trade show booth: badge scans, a jar for business cards, hastily scrawled contact information on the nearest piece of paper. All have the potential to deliver a quality lead, and you have every intention of following up. But then, you know, something always comes up. And that means a wasted opportunity to grow your business.
Over the course of a dayslong trade show, you’re likely to end up with an overwhelming number of leads, and the last thing you want is for a promising one to fall through the cracks. That’s why it’s important to have a plan of action in place before the show even starts!
By taking a little time in advance, you and your sales team can develop a plan that ensures leads receive the attention they deserve … and you can take them from product or solution awareness to the buying stage.
To ensure your efforts are both timely and worthwhile, follow these five steps to create and execute a formal plan for qualifying, organizing, and nurturing the leads you gather at a trade show.
- Define How You Will Grade and Sort Sales Leads
At every big trade show, most booth staffers feel pressure to bring home more sales leads than they did the year before. After all, some companies measure the value of the show by the number of leads they get. But not all leads are created equal. With potentially hundreds of leads in your pocket after the show, how do you separate the “tire-kickers” from the true prospects? It’s this dilemma that makes defining and sorting leads so important.
While many of the leads you gather at the show will be little more than a name and email address, others might be more detailed. You might know the contact’s specific interests, the person with whom he or she spoke, and the level of interest he or she expressed. (In one way or another, the prospect also should have indicated a willingness for further communication.)
Hot leads — those booth visitors who specifically requested post-show follow-up — deserve a category of their own. Route them into a high-priority queue for immediate and personalized contact. Sort the remainder into categories — sometimes defined by customer personas — for automated email communications, educational downloads, and other material that might spark their interest or simply foster continued engagement.
During the qualification process, you should scrub your prospects’ contact data to eliminate duplicate scans, identify any contacts already in the sales team’s database, and highlight any missing details that might hamper follow-up efforts.
- Create Your Follow-up Message Template
After the show, your first step always should be to thank prospects for visiting your booth, ideally with some details that remind them who you are and why they stopped by. That’s something you can plan for — at least in part — before the show. Draft a message template now, then add the finishing touches and personal details when you get back. Identify the show by name in the subject line and in the first paragraph of your email. A photo of the booth itself, busy with enthusiastic visitors, might be a good visual to help you connect with a prospect. Even better is a photo of that person at your booth! (Side note: Taking photos at the booth is something you should work into your show plan).
- Decide on Options for Engagement
When you do get in touch, you’ll want to make a specific call to action, so think now about how you will engage prospects after the show. Rather than write “To learn more …” or “For more information …” give prospects specific, tangible options for engaging with your company. Encourage them to download a free white paper, request a customized demo, or point them toward a brief video overview of a product, solution, or use case. Be sure to vary both the content and the type of media you use to engage with your prospects. Any response, such as a white paper download or a demo request, likely signals a prospect who would welcome further interaction — and should be moved up the priority list accordingly.
- Track Your Relationships
Track your interactions with prospects and record those activities in your CRM software. If a prospect downloads an infographic or reads a white paper, take note! If prospects click through to a video or landing page, update their entries to reflect these actions. As you continue to engage them with compelling content related to your industry, business, and products, you’ll find that the thought and care you put into your campaign will pay off in building relationships, and ultimately, business deals.
- Take Advantage of Marketing Automation
If you really want to move the needle and get consistent results, then it’s much easier and more efficient to implement a long-term lead-nurturing program using marketing and sales automation tools, such as Infusionsoft, Marketo, or HubSpot CRM. If you want to take care of all of the above steps in one place, automatically follow up on your leads, take advantage of lead scoring, track stats, and see trends, then marketing automation tools can be your best friend. You can set it up in advance of the show.
Here’s how a postshow campaign might work: Create the initial reply and include a download. Then you can arrange a tiered follow-up campaign. Tier 1 – for those who downloaded the information and requested follow up. Tier 2 – for those who downloaded but did not request follow up. And Tier 3 – for those who didn’t download. The beauty of this approach is that everyone gets an appropriate response, while you save time over the manual process.
For reference, download a handy one-page summary of this blog here.
When you’re running around with your hair on fire preparing for a big trade show, it’s natural to think of the show as the finish line. After all, that’s the deadline everyone is working toward. That’s when you’ll be showing your latest and greatest offerings. And if you do things right, you’ll also be meeting with editors and potential buyers who can influence buying decisions throughout the marketplace.
Of course, you want everything at the show to go off without a hitch. Who wouldn’t? But what if you look at the show as the starting line, not the finish line?
In other words, instead of simply planning for a perfect few days at a show, look at the show as a big ol’ content-generating opportunity.
When you start thinking of your show activities — press conferences, presentations, customer meetings, etc. — as a way to generate content, then you suddenly have a springboard for future marketing efforts. After all, you’re going to do those things anyway, so you might as well give them a life beyond the show … and make the most of your investment in being there. You’ll just need to have a photographer/videographer on hand. (Hello, smartphone!)
If you follow our five-point guide, you’ll have a whole lotta fuel for your postshow marketing with little extra effort. Get it now!
(While you’re at it, check out our video “Even a 5-Year-Old Kid Can Make a Product Pitch for YouTube or Vimeo.” Trust us. It’ll help.)
Maybe you’ve heard this one from your marketing team before: “We need images to go with this blog” (or press release or social media post). And you might have wondered to yourself, “Why are these people always harassing me for pictures?” Well, let me explain.
Research shows that the majority of readers scan a page for visual cues to help them assess content and decide whether or not to spend the time it takes to read that content thoroughly. People start in the top left corner and check first for images, then headers, and then bullet points. If they don’t find anything appealing in the first two-tenths of a second, they’re gone.
And before you get that fraction of a second, you have to get people to click on your story in the first place. Here again, research confirms that you need visuals. You’ll get over 45 percent more clicks on a press release and 94 percent more on an article if that content includes images and/or video.
Consider how busy you are and how much content is available and pushed to you every day. Then consider your own material. Stop and ask yourself: If I didn’t work for my company, would I click on this? Would I give it more than two-tenths of a second? If not, then you certainly can’t expect anyone else to do so.
Now that we’ve convinced you to send images, let’s talk guidelines. Because not just any image will do.
The most important thing to remember when submitting an image is that you’ll need higher quality for a print publication than for online. But no matter where your content lands, it’s advisable to send the best quality images you have. That means they should be at least 1200 pixels along the short side for 4-inch by 6-inch images. A few other things to keep in mind when submitting photos for publication:
- Headshots should be taken against a plain background, and subjects should be dressed in business attire. Head and shoulder images are best.
- Product shots should show the product in action, where appropriate, and in the context of the story you’re telling whenever possible.
- Facility shots should feature rooms mentioned in the text and/or quality images of the exterior that show the company logo on a sunny day.
- Always be sure you have consent from the people pictured or from the photographers who’ve taken the images before submitting them for publication, and give photo credit where applicable. When possible, identify any people in the images and include their titles.
- For editorial submissions, it’s best to give an editor choices when providing images, so try to send a variety of appropriate pictures when possible.
I hope it’s clear now why quality images are so important. Follow these tips to help make sure your next story grabs the attention it deserves.
Carrie Wiste is a guest contributor from Dundee Hills Group.