Planning A Publicity Campaign? Here Are Six Things To Consider First

Publicity Campaign

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: February 5, 2019

How your business is perceived by the public has a major impact on sales and customer retention. A well-planned public relations campaign can rally brand supporters together and promote a positive public image. However, a poorly executed publicity stunt can destroy your business’ reputation.

Publicity Campaign

If you’re itching to make a PR move in the near future, consider these tips from Forbes Agency Council before you plan and launch your campaign.

1. Ask Yourself If It’s Worth The Risk

Start by asking yourself two questions. What is the overall intent of your publicity stunt? Awareness? Happiness? Shock and awe? This needs to be considered first and foremost. Second, if your “stunt” goes sideways and backfires, is it worth the risk? Not all press is good press, and in the age of social media, a “stunt gone bad” can spread and tarnish your reputation quickly. – Bernard May, National Positions

2. Make Sure It’s Relevant To Your Brand

A publicity stunt can be costly and would have to fit the company’s budget. One thing to consider before planning a stunt is to plan well and make the stunt relevant to your brand—it has to make sense in context and not be completely misunderstood. – Cagan Sean Yuksel, GRAFX CO.

3. Educate Your Client On What’s Involved

Stunts are live, so you have to prep even more. Most importantly, what’s the client’s appetite for risk? You have to factor in their brand tone and culture and look at all the possible outcomes. In addition to budget to pull off the event, they need proper funds to seed social and PR as well. An educated, vested client is the most important element for a successful publicity stunt or campaign. – Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding

4. Consider All Possible Interpretations

Before embarking on any type of publicity stunt, stop and consider what people might think about it. Could it possibly offend a segment of society? Could it be taken out of context by the public? Bring in a variety of demographics from your company, regardless of title, and ask them what they think about it. They may see something that you don’t. – Rebecca Kowalewicz, Clearbridge Branding Agency

5. Aim For A Solely Positive Outcome

If you want to be viral, it is quite possible. It is very important to ensure that your stunt, whatever it is, will trend and get the attention that you want without any negative connotations. You need to think about your industry and find what it is that you are going to be able to get attention with in a positive way. When you are working through this you will see there are all kinds of options. – Jon James, Ignited Results

6. Think About The Long-Term Impact On Your Reputation

Make sure your campaign is something that won’t live in perpetuity as your top Google search if things go wrong. Keep your head down and just do good work—don’t get caught up in the noise or whirlwind. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

Growing ‘unicorns’ with brand response TV advertising

Growing Unicorns with DRTV

By Karla Crawford Kerr, VP of Marketing, Hawthorne

Original Publication: The Drum

Date of Publication: February 4, 2019

Advertising during the Super Bowl is designed to make a statement. Brands use those premium slots as an opportunity to make people laugh or cry, to take a political stance, but most of all, to make a lasting impression. At $5 million for a 30-second spot, Super Bowl ads aren’t cheap, and just as notable as the content can be which brands decide to shell out for ads at astronomical prices.

Growing Unicorns with DRTV

Click here for the full story over at The Drum

How – And Where – To Maximize Your Advertising Dollars in 2019

How and Why Advertising Dollars

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: February 1, 2019

Advertising usually takes up a large percentage of companies’ budgets each year. To stay relevant, businesses cannot solely rely on what they’ve done in the past; they must also utilize up-and-coming platforms and strategies or risk getting lost in the shuffle. This new year is sure to be no exception, with new advertising tools and platforms trending throughout the year.

How and Why Advertising Dollars

With so many advertising options to choose from, it can be daunting to know where to best spend your time and budget. To help, six members of Forbes Agency Council discuss where advertising dollars should be spent in 2019, as well as how agencies can take the lead in capitalizing on their predictions.

1. Utilize Digital Testing Technology For Higher ROI

We believe that advertising dollars in the coming year are best spent in the digital and social spaces. Google’s machine learning technology allows experts to test more ad variations much faster than ever before. Faster testing leads to faster optimization of ads and, therefore, higher positive return on investment. Social ads also continue to present a huge opportunity with fantastic targeting capabilities. – Bernard May, National Positions

2. Understand And Adapt To Digital Outlets And Audiences

What we definitely know and understand is that digital and social outlets are not going anywhere anytime soon. At this point, these outlets are bridging the gap between all ages and will continue to dominate the game. Agencies need to understand these outlets and their audience more and adapt these techniques through social and digital media platforms in a more clear and creative way. – Cagan Sean Yuksel, GRAFX CO.

3. Take A Holistic Approach

Online and offline need to continue to work together, not apart from each other. Offline still has the largest reach but pushes people to online or brick-and-mortar locations. The key is carefully watching the data and sales to pull the appropriate levers and drive the best consumer engagement and action. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

4. Start Mapping The Customer Experience

The best investment this year is in tying all of your marketing efforts and measurements together to start mapping and measuring the customer experience (CX). Agencies can start by investing in journey mapping exercises and learning about CX measurement tools. – Greg Kihlström, Yes& Agency

5. Find And Target Your Relevant Audience

In 2019, I expect clients to continue to invest heavily in digital tactics, including targeted digital display with geotargeting, geofencing and lookalike audiences, as well paid and organic social media placements. Audio buying, including Pandora, i-Heart radio and Spotify, as well as over-the-top streaming video ads, will be hot as well, since they effectively deliver messages to relevant audiences. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

6. Choose The Media That’s Best For Your Brand

No one medium is the silver bullet for all ad campaigns. A specialist will always tell you their specialty. Ultimately it depends on the target, strategy, competition and cultural trends. For John Lewis, TV is wildly effective. Nerf and Dude Perfect were great social media partners. We made smart viral reccos for Blue Man experiential. Each brand’s DNA and media choice should always be different. – Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding

In-House Transparency: 13 Pros And Cons Of Full Disclosure

In House Transparency

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: January 31, 2019

We’re all aware of the importance of transparency in marketing, especially when targeting younger demographics. People want to align not only with your company’s brand, but also your ethos and mission. Lately, the conversation about transparency has turned inward, with some agencies giving their team members full disclosure of the company’s financial well-being, such as revenue, profit and loss, and so on.

We asked 13 members of Forbes Agency Council to share their own transparency experiences, including if they have taken the transparency approach and are still implementing it or if they implemented it and then chose to stop. Read on for the pros and cons of how in-house transparency impacted their business and culture below.

In House Transparency

1. There’s No Reason To Hide Profit

“Transparency” is too often a buzzword agencies say, but don’t honor. We are an open book. Every budget we send to clients has a line that says “Agency Profit.” Not only does our team have full disclosure on what we make, but so do our clients. There isn’t a business in the world that doesn’t exist to make money, so why hide it from anyone? Our clients love it, and our employees love it. There’s nothing to hide. – Lucas Miller, Shop Marketing and Creative Group

2. Open Communication Informs Better Decisions

We have found it important to provide a certain level of transparency to our employees when it comes to our financial success. We set targets at the beginning of the year, communicate them broadly to the employee base and then provide updates on a quarterly basis. This helps get everyone focused on owning the year with us and making decisions in the business from an informed perspective. – Chris Cavanaugh, Freeman

3. Careful Consideration Is Needed

We have yet to implement this, but we’re thinking about it. Younger professionals appreciate openness and function better knowing how they fit into the business model. If finances are tight, the concern is that it may cause panic among good employees to jump ship. However, if profit is strong then it is easier for employees to understand their value and how they fit into that success. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing + Partnerships

4. Share What The Team Will Benefit From Knowing

We have practiced pretty radical transparency with our finances at times in the past. The result is that team members, particularly younger ones with less work experience, totally freaked out. It added stress to their lives. I’m the business owner, so I’m expected to lose sleep sometimes, but not everyone needs to join me. Now I just let them know what they need to know so there are no surprises. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

5. Transparency Fosters Trust

Prioritizing transparency and integrity internally leads to growth, both because customers see they can trust you to help grow their business, but also because it leads to more engaged, productive and effective employees. We share our financial goals and progress monthly so that our entire team can rally around them. When everyone is aware, involved and invested it leads to success. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

6. Sharing Finances Means Sharing Impact

In 2018 we transitioned to greater financial transparency. We shared revenue and profitability goals at the company and team level. At the six-month update, people seemed gratified to witness the impact their work had made. After the meeting, a junior planner pulled me aside to tell me that seeing the numbers on the page really made her feel that her individual effort had made a big difference. – Joanne McKinney, Burns Group

7. Transparency Goes Two Ways

We subscribe to full transparency and commit to the highest level of trust with the entire team. Giving that level of trust results in getting that same level of trust and respect back. When that kind of trust is inherent to your culture, it’s amazing what you can accomplish. And you can more effectively deal with the challenges when everyone is aware and working together toward the common goal. – Lori Paikin, NaviStone®

8. Employees Earn Their Way Inside

We incentivize employees with a 10% net bonus on any new business they personally secure. If they bring in an account they get to see all expenses related to running that business, so when we write them the big year-end bonus check they know the amount is legit. Writing a fat check to someone who deserves it is my favorite thing in this business. – Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding

9. Profits Are Better When Everyone Shares In Them

We are a fully transparent company. I believe it’s one of the reasons we’ve grown so quickly. Our internal mission is to be the best-paying boutique agency for the information technology industry. When everyone knows the revenue and profit targets they can see that when they are hit, they get better pay and it gets us closer to achieving our internal mission. Profits and work quality have never been better. – Giovanni Sanguily, TRIdigital Marketing

10. Complete Accountability Fosters Communication And Ownership

When companies make the change and open themselves to complete communication and accountability it changes the way that people communicate as well as the attention that they pay to their jobs. What it means is that there is a complete change in the way that companies relate to employees, and employees act like owners and not like those who simply work there. It is also a way to start a dialog. – Jon James, Ignited Results

11. Sharing Gets You Rowing In The Same Direction

Sharing financials and company goals is important to ensure everyone is aligned and sets their sights on the same targets. If all don’t have access, you won’t be rowing in the same direction. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

12. Sharing Opens A Channel To Address Concerns

The executive board hosts a companywide meeting at the beginning of every month to review numbers, goals, problems and successes. During this time of transparency, we talk through any questions or concerns our team may have, providing the response direct from the source and limiting any false speculation. This practice leads to a greater understanding of the business and minimal water cooler talk. – Jason Kulpa, UE.co

13. Tie Your Company’s Financial Goals To Employee Bonuses

About three years ago we started sharing our financial goals, our profits and our “numbers” as often as possible with our employees. That was a deliberate, and critical, shift. We tied our company’s financial goals to individual employees’ bonuses, so our goals are now their goals. When we win, they win. The result? We’re all moving in the same direction. – Matt Moore, OH Partners

How Neuroscience Can Strengthen Marketing Campaigns In 2019

Neuromarketing

By Jessica Hawthorne-Castro (YPO Los Angeles)

Original Publication: YPO.Org

Neuromarketing
Marketing has always relied on tapping into the consumer’s subconscious — how they think, what they do, and why they make certain decisions. The ways of answering these questions, however, have grown more sophisticated over time thanks to advancements in science and technology.

Where marketers used to rely on observation, focus groups and intuition, they now look to insights from data analytics and research to shape their strategies. This shift, combined with the overwhelming amount of content consumers are confronted with in their daily lives, is why neuroscience is becoming more important than ever.

Today, every marketer can amplify any campaign’s strength and impact by using neuroscience to drive engagement.

CREATING CAMPAIGNS THAT STICK

People today are overexposed to content. They have an overwhelming amount of choices for where to spend their time in terms of media, apps, channels and services. The average American navigates between multiple screens and is active on social media, which means they are surrounded by noise. While all this digital engagement creates marketing opportunities, it also makes it much harder to break through.

Neuroscience, which is all about understanding human behavior and mental function, can help marketers overcome these challenges and create campaigns that stick. The Association of National Advertisers defines consumer neuroscience as the practice of integrating “nonconscious measures to capture responses moment by moment, offering a more complete view of the consumer.” Or in the words of Uma R. Karmarkar, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, “neuroscience can help us understand those hidden elements of the decision process,” such as why people assign value to certain things or what factors influence them and why.

Neuroscience aims to go beyond figuring out what people want or like and dives into the underlying forces that shape consumer decision-making. These deeper insights can lead to more effective campaigns.

NAVIGATING A SATURATED MARKET

Neuroscience has always had relevance for marketers, but its role has grown in importance in today’s saturated media environment. Estimates of how many brand messages the average consumer sees in a day vary wildly, from 4,000 to 10,000. On either side of the spectrum, that’s a lot of messages.

And brands aren’t only competing with each other, but also with all the content (branded or otherwise) people see on social media and share themselves. Add in circumstances, like election season or the holidays, and the competition is fierce. In 2019, marketers have to target consumers and deliver messages in a brief but compelling way that resonates deeply and can help them stand out.

One example of a simple yet powerful neuroscience technique is acoustic encoding. Human brains prefer to take the path of least resistance when processing information. The easier something is for us to grasp, the more readily we believe it and the more tenaciously we’ll hold onto it. Using sounds in ads that rhyme and repeat make them stickier.

Today, every marketer can amplify any campaign’s strength and impact by using neuroscience to drive engagement.
A similar principle is true for images. The developmental molecular biologist Dr. John Medina has done research that found humans are likely to remember just 10 percent of a piece of written information three days later, whereas including a relevant image boosts that figure to about 65 percent. That’s a huge jump. Visuals can serve as a shortcut and eliminate a step from the recall process, while also reinforcing meaning.

UNDERSTANDING BEHAVIORS EMPOWERS MARKETERS

Other neuroscience techniques draw on human behaviors. For instance, people have a “pessimism bias” thanks to evolution. Our ancestors had to be pessimistic because it helped them survive and vestiges of that instinct remain. Marketers can leverage this aspect of neuroscience to promote their brand by emphasizing how a certain product or service can help consumers avoid a bad outcome.

Social validation is another powerful motivator. Research into neuroscience shows that humans have an innate need to fit in with a group and seek the validation of our peers. When making decisions, we are comforted by knowing that others have made a similar decision and were satisfied with the results. This is why testimonials can have such a significant effect. Testimonials are hardly a new technique, but neuroscience reveals exactly how and why testimonials work; that knowledge can empower marketers to use them more strategically.

In 2019, the media landscape is only going to get more crowded and competitive. Brands are going to have to think out of the box and integrate cutting-edge techniques into their campaigns if they want their messages to break through. Neuromarketing has never been a more important tool in campaigns or branding to deeply resonate with customers and create a more personalized experience.

15 Challenges Marketers Faced In 2018 (And What They Learned)

Forbes 15 Challenges

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: January 28, 2019

The marketing landscape is ever-changing, and it can be difficult to keep up. Even if you’ve been in the industry for years, there are always new trends emerging and and methods evolving.

Those who continue learning and growing will never fall too far behind, but that doesn’t mean they won’t face obstacles along the way. Below, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council share the biggest industry challenges they’ve faced this past year and how they plan to use that knowledge moving forward.

Forbes 15 Challenges

1. A Changing Corporate Climate

The biggest challenge as a marketing agency that has developed over the past year is watching as corporate positions fill up the digital marketing organization spaces that we dominated as agencies in the previous decade. We believe the opportunity that we’ve had in the past five years will be gone. Rather than fighting this change, we are positioning our firm to assist digital officers as a resource. – Evangeline Sutton, Regenerative Marketing LLC

2. The Impact Of Influencers

We have worked with journalists who were bound by the ethics of journalism to tell both sides of a story for nearly 30 years. Now we are working with influencers with large audiences on social media. The problem in evaluating influencers is who they are being paid by, whether they expect to be paid by our clients and what the deliverables will be if they share our clients’ stories and photos. – Nancy Marshall, Marshall Communications

3. Greater Demand For Personalization

The desire for brands to get more personal in communications continues to grow and presents new challenges. In our business, where email marketing is a big part of what we do, we plan to facilitate more personalization through partnerships with companies such as Conversica, which offers an AI attendant that assists in engaging, qualifying and converting more leads for our clients. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.

4. Maintaining Our Buying Power

We made many systematic changes in 2018 to welcome industry changes. In the planning stages, we updated our systems and training materials. We didn’t, however, fully prepare for the level of attention required to regulate our relationships with suppliers as we grow. When picking suppliers, we learned to check for cues that can help us identify those who can grow and meet our changing priorities. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

5. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR was a big industry growing pain; however, having the operations and processes in place to adhere to this regulation make the California Consumer Privacy Act less daunting. It has also opened up a healthy dialog about data, privacy and useful customization across a variety of sectors. – Kieley Taylor, GroupM

6. Standing Out From Our Competitors

Our industry is legal marketing and website design. In our area, we have seen lots of competition come into the market. We plan to face this challenge by producing more educational documents and continuing to set our firm out as industry thought leaders. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

7. Balancing Personalization With Data Privacy

Creating a truly personalized experience while adhering to data privacy and industry regulations proves to be a challenge, like trying to hit a moving target. As we go forward we will be leveraging journey orchestration technology to deliver more relevant customer experiences and a deeper level of personalization than ever before, treating privacy laws as an opportunity to build trust along the way. – Justin Grossman, meltmedia

8. Facebook’s Sponsored Content Changes

At the start of 2018 Facebook once again changed their rules on sponsored content, dramatically shifting how we did business for our clients. We pivoted and ended up with a solution that is exceeding results from before the change. While we’re thrilled with this outcome, we know that we will need to continue to be agile when it comes to 2019, as major platform updates seem to be the new normal. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group

9. Educating Clients On New Trends

Influencers have become our clients’ nirvana, even though they most often don’t understand how this new “species” works. We have been educating them and pondering their expectations so they know what they can get and how, and what the difference is between an editor, a blogger and an influencer. Parts of our request for proposal now will be dedicated to some education about it. – Sarah Hamon, S2H Communication

10. Addressing The Industry’s Fraud Issue

Transparency continues to be a critical need as the advertising industry recovers from digital ad fraud. We’re heading off potential distrust from clients by being up front about our commitment to fostering an ethical culture at our agency. After applying for and winning an Integrity award from the Better Business Bureau, we now have an independent third party confirming that commitment. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

11. Keeping Up With Emerging Platforms

One of the biggest issues out there is making sure that we know about all of the most recent changes to platforms and to content that needs to be made and consumed. One of the most important things is finding the right content and the right platform. That means that it is very important to ensure that you are using the right platform for the right age group that you are working with. – Jon James, Ignited Results

12. Casting A Wider Net

In 2018, we found that the long-term retainer model didn’t work well for certain smaller startup clients, so we developed a project-based program to allow younger brands to experience our services without committing to a long-term relationship. The program has proven a great success and has given companies the opportunity to achieve public relations and social media goals without an ongoing commitment. – Leslie Licano, Beyond Fifteen Communications Inc.

13. Collecting And Analyzing Data

The amount of data continues to expand exponentially. Programming technology and analytics with a machine learning/artificial intelligence component is and will continue to be key because it will become too much for humans to process in a timely or cost-effective way. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

14. Ensuring Consumer Data Safety And Privacy

Changes in privacy regulations such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act are impacting how marketing is done. Consumers expect to know what data is collected and to be able to choose what solutions can and can’t collect their data. Marketers must now be diligent at ensuring safety and giving customers the privacy they deserve while delivering meaningful and optimal customer experience. – Alex Yastrebenetsky, InfoTrust

15. Finding The Right Media Tracking Tools

Our media team did a complete analysis of all optimization and tracking tools on the market to confirm best-in-category practices and results. It was an important, but time-consuming, process. We found some brand-new assets in some niche pockets that will help our clients even more. We now need to tell that story in the year ahead in a simple way without giving away the store up front. – Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding

DRTV Lessons from Successful Brand Launches

As seen on DRTV

By George Leon, Chief Strategy Officer – Hawthorne

Original Publication: New Media and Marketing 

Date of Publication: January 23, 2019

When it comes to capitalizing on direct response television (DRTV) advertising, some of the best advice comes from privately held startups valued at over $1 billion. That’s because they’ve seemingly mastered the use of TV advertising that directly engages consumers, from launch to growth.

Successful brands like Experian, Dollar Shave Club and Peloton have used DRTV precisely because it is particularly effective for launching and building brands. They appreciate the fact that you can directly engage with consumers by displaying toll-free numbers and/or website URLs and asking them to take specific actions. They also like that DRTV works across all potential consumer touchpoints, is highly measurable, and makes good use of data. And DRTV seamlessly integrates with their entire portfolios of advertising and media channels, including digital, offline, mail, email, radio, print, etc., yet can still be can be customized, targeted and segmented across all those channels.

Brand Strategy

In a recentwebinarhosted by the Data & Marketing Association on the basics of DRTV and its expanding role in brand marketing, I had the privilege of talking with champion unicorn marketer, Nick Fairbairn, who is Chief Marketing, Growth & Revenue Officer for Go. Previously, Fairbairn was Senior VP of Marketing at Le Tote and VP of Brand Marketing at Dollar Shave Club.

In our discussion about DRTV, we covered everything from messaging to the importance of metrics. I recommend you listen to the full webinar, but I’ve pulled out what I think are the top takeaways:

As seen on DRTV

1. Take a portfolio approach
It’s gotten harder and harder for brands to earn market share from traditional TV approaches. Because the more common approaches are losing steam, brands need new ways to capture customers’ attention, and DRTV delivers. But don’t forget you can’t shift to a new medium and forget the rest. You have to build and maintain a portfolio.

DRTV is anchored around accountability performance and measurement, and provides for greater customer targeting and segmentation across all channels. That’s why it is becoming a bigger part of brands’ omnichannel campaigns. But it isn’t – and shouldn’t be – the only part.

I asked Fairbairn for his advice regarding the portfolio approach, and he stressed that dependencies on one channel, such as social media, can spell trouble. “What happens when the algorithms no longer work? Or what happens when the creative stops working? In some of these digital channels you have one second to tell a story. In television, you can tell a little bit more of a story. And you can drive response at the same time.”

2. Know your audience
DRTV’s strong data component is driving its growth. Data helps you identify and target the customer, right-size your message for the customer and also pick and choose the right channels and right devices. That’s critical, because the customer journey has expanded.

The good news is DRTV is rooted in strong data, and that data can be used to sharpen your knowledge about current and potential customers and determine the best channel or channels work best for which audience and which marketing campaign. It’s no longer one customer one channel, now it’s one customer multiple channels and multiple devices.

Fine Tune Your Message

3. Fine-tune your message
Once you know your customer – and again, take full advantage of data to best understand their preferences – it’s time to think about your message. The data can help inform not only the message, but its optimal length and form (short or long) and the right cadence of ads. And how customers consume messaging? You’ll need to consider everything from television to the internet and all the way down to radio and print.

With DRTV, you can take a message and customize for the audience and the channel. That’s important, because the customer journey has expanded. They have choices and are driving their own experiences, and DRTV can help you craft the right message, the right frequency and right channel.

4. Get creative with your creative
Stop the customer before he or she gets up from the couch and walks away. And if you’ve fine-tuned your message (see #3) it’s easier come up with a show-stopping opener. Keep things simple, straightforward and succinct, too.

One question many brands ask is whether to uses a spokesperson. Sometimes, it makes sense. But using spokespeople can be costly and sometimes overtake your message or your brand. Don’t forget the power of testimonials, transformation tales, and imagery.

Fairbairn had some powerful advice about blending visual messaging with audio in DRTV ads, and I couldn’t agree more.

“It’s not just about audio,” Fairbairn said. “People always say to me, ‘You already said it in the spot, so why show it on screen? But there is something about queuing the two pieces together to increase the retention of the message.”

Finally, never end your DRTV advertisement on a weak note. Carefully consider your call to action and brand placement on the screen.

Many common brands have their roots in responsive TV integrated with digital executions. Their strategies and tactics provide great learnings and will provide a great roadmap for the next, great brand launch.

Hawthorne helps brands efficiently target new customers, improve cost per acquisition, optimize customer lifetime value and drive consumer response to key retail outlets or corporate locations. Contact us to learn more about our expertise by  Contacting Hawthorne.

13 Things To Consider When Investing In A Digital Media Platform

Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: January 4, 2019

Bloomberg recently reported that Snapchat is experiencing a steady decline in daily users, and its situation isn’t expected to improve any time soon. While Snapchat is certainly far from “dead” – there are still 186 million active daily users, according to Statista — many brands may opt to wait and see if engagement stabilizes before spending precious advertising dollars on the platform.Forbes Agency Council

Snapchat’s downward trend may well prompt second thoughts for many brands that were considering marketing on a digital media platform, including whether to move forward and, if they do, what the best strategy will be. Below, 13 members of Forbes Agency Council share their thoughts on investing in a digital media platform.

1. Positive Return On Investment (ROI) Should Happen Within Two Weeks

Determine your reach and frequency first. How many consumers are you really reaching via Snapchat? Then calculate your ROI on your ad spend. If you are not seeing a positive ROI within one to two weeks, remove the media and allocate the past spend to a testing budget, but do not continue on the medium. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

2. Timing Is Critical

The unsuccessful Facebook purchase of Snapchat was the pivot point. The acquisition was the preferred but not the only means for Facebook to provide the same or better offer, and it has the user data to edge out the competition with better personalization options. Snapchat made some investors money who saw that writing on the wall and got out quickly, so it is as much a matter of when to invest as in what. – Elizabeth Jean Poston, Helios Interactive, A Freeman Company

3. Consider The Platform’s Unique Audience

Snapchat offers a very addressable audience and, in some cases, an audience that is relatively tough to find in other places. What is most important for you to consider is if your target audience has sufficient scale and delivers performance above a point of diminishing returns. – Kieley Taylor, GroupM

4. Take A Holistic View Of Customer Trends

Just because the overall Snapchat user base is changing does not mean that their core users have migrated to another channel. As a brand, it is crucial to have an always-on understanding of customers, including their device and social preferences. When brands invest in a customer data platform, it gives them a holistic view of their customers’ actions, which can enable data-driven investment. – Preethy Vaidyanathan, Tapad

5. What Matters Is Where Your Brand’s Audience Is

Before worrying about a platform that feels like a media “ought to,” brands should first step back and determine if their target is even engaging there. Snapchat may have been a trend darling, but if a brand’s consumers aren’t interacting there, there’s no point in chasing it in the first place. If they are spending time on the platform, the dip in numbers doesn’t matter anyway. – Mimi Lettunich, Twenty Four 7

6. Think Long-Term, Not Short-Term, Viability

When there is a decrease in revenue in a tool and an application like Snapchat, it is very important to make sure that all of the long-term viability assessments of the tool have been looked at. What that means is that before you are putting your money into an application, you want to know that it is going to make a recovery. – Jon James, Ignited Results

7. If It’s Working For You, Stick With It

An “investment” really has nothing to do with the number of daily users, it has to do with the change in key performance indicators for your brand. While growing and massive social media platforms provide a wide audience, they also add the challenge of competition and cost. If Snapchat continues to build awareness, engagement, growth and a return on investment, by all means, continue to use it! – Douglas Karr, DK New Media

8. The Audience Is Waiting — Build A Smart Package

Snap reported 191 million users earlier this year. Instagram has hit 1 billion. There’s no need to wait on either platform. The eyeballs are there. You just have to get a pulse on the best way to engage on each, then develop smart creative and negotiate the best package. There’s a certain amount of parity between both, but one group is way more ad-friendly. – Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding

9. Ignore Industry Panic

Snapchat has gone through waves of popularity and waves of decline. Although ROI should be your chief metric, be sure that you’re not jumping too fast in the natural cycles of popular social media platforms. If Snapchat comes out with a new feature or method of organization that brings users back in droves relatively quickly, you might feel silly for panicking too early. – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs

10. There Is No Silver Bullet

Many people believe that marketers know the silver bullet. In actuality, the best marketers seek to understand their audience well and fire 10 arrows all in the same direction, knowing only a couple will hit the target. Channels come and go. Facebook is already losing its golden-child status. Don’t be surprised, do what good marketers do: Seek to understand your audience and be flexible. – Jesse Marble, Magneti

11. It Might Be A Great Opportunity To Reach Young Consumers

There is still a strong user base on Snapchat that is desirable (Gen Z and younger millennials). You might be able to get a better deal and reach your ideal, hard-to-reach young consumers. – Tom LaVecchia, MBA, X Factor Media

12. Move Around Media Dollars To Find What’s Effective

It’s not about whether a platform is in growth or decline, but whether it provides the best opportunities for your brand to reach your audience. You may leverage that platform while it’s trending, but decide if it’s the most effective medium. Because you can easily move your strategy with media dollars, brands aren’t committed to platforms long term and have the freedom to move to new channels. – Danny Fritz, SBX Group

13. Favor Steady Engagement Over Swift Monetary Return

As long as you’re seeing engagement and a strong following that’s not disassembling your budget, then it’s always worth it to keep investing in a platform. It’s important to remember that with digital media platforms, your monetary return takes time to establish. – Jordan Edelson, Appetizer

10 Things To Consider Before Bringing Your Agency Work In-House

Forbes 10 Tips In House

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: December 19, 2018

As companies grow and gain more confidence in their capabilities, some consider bringing their agency work in-house. Some leaders may be looking for cost savings, while others may believe that no outside agency can truly understand their company as they do themselves. While switching from outsourced to on-staff marketing and PR can give you much more control over the process, it can also be a big risk — especially to those who rush the transition.Forbes 10 Tips In House

Below, experts from Forbes Agency Council offer thoughts on important things to consider before making the switch from outsourced to in-house agency work. Follow their advice to make your process as smooth as possible.

Members of Forbes Agency Council discuss some points to consider before bringing your company’s agency work in-house.

1. Avoid Financial Process Woes

Large companies have strict vendor set up, contract and payment processes. Net 60-, 90- and even 120-day payments are standard, whereas agencies usually pay faster. Will the in-house agency buy media, award production, source creative? If so, work out all contracting processes before internal departments are frustrated, legal is overloaded, suppliers are angry and your team is ready to quit. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing + Partnerships

2. Find A Better Partner

We’ve seen brands try to move some of their agency work in-house, but it is typically because a past agency or holding company has charged large fees and the brand hasn’t seen the results or the ROI. Look for an accountable advertising agency that provides analytics and an ROI on every dollar of media spent so you know how your brand and business are growing as a result of your media spend. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

3. Make Sure Your Team Has The Time

For some brands, creating an on-site team and taking their agency work in-house means having a team truly immersed in the business, with a complete understanding of the goals and the challenges. However, they should consider that there is the risk that the team doesn’t have enough time to explore external sources of inspiration to develop more unique and innovative approaches. – Daniela Pavan, The Ad Store New York

4. Look At It As Building A Second Business

I come from the agency side, but I have firsthand experience because I built an agency and I consult with companies who brought the work in-house. The biggest issue is finding qualified people who — this is hard to evaluate — work well with others. Essentially, you’re trying to build a small agency, and that may be a good move, but it’s harder and more costly than it may seem since it’s another business. – Rafael Romis, Weberous Web Design

5. Master The Various Marketing Functions

Brands need to acknowledge where they are strong and where they are weak. No outside agency is going to know your brand’s values and benefits as well as you. But you also need to understand how the various marketing functions work as a unit. Knowing where one set of responsibilities ends (product marketing) and the next begins (lead generation) helps everything work as a cohesive unit. – Bernard May, National Positions

6. Don’t Assume You Can Do It Better — Or Cheaper

It takes talent, project management and dedication to getting the work done at a high level to achieve big goals. If an agency has these, does it really matter what their employee badge says? The mistake companies make is believing that employees will do better work, be cheaper and be more loyal than an agency. I managed a $1.5 million budget in-house and can verify that an employee badge means zero. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

7. Accept That There Will Be A Learning Curve

There is no one-size-fits-all, smooth process of bringing an agency in-house. Often you’ll be building teams, talents and processes from the ground up. Be willing to learn, always seeking out new metrics, and be willing to pivot continuously until you find the process that makes it work for you. Things will go smoother if you don’t expect them to be a well-oiled machine right off the bat. – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs

8. Study Your Old Agency’s Processes First

One thing that is important to know is all of the strategies that are being used by the agency. In addition to that, it is important to know what their planning sessions were. Before doing this, it seems it would be helpful to shadow the old agency and learn their process to know what they do before you take it in-house. – Jon James, Ignited Results

9. Realize A Lot Of Skills Are Required

I work on both sides of the fence, as a marketer within a company and as an agency owner. The agency was born out of the fact that specific skills, such as audio and video production, are not typical marketing skills that are available in-house. Beyond graphic and web skills, most companies fall short of the skill sets available within agencies. These skills and areas of expertise must be considered. – A. Lee Judge, Content Monsta

10. Bring Back Your Agency If You Need To

I have lived this many times, having owned an agency for over a decade. Recession, budget cuts, restructuring or new thinking can lead to in-housing services. I call it the yo-yo effect because it’s often up and down. Clients often believe they can manage it all in-house. This is easier said than done, and sure enough, they call us back. It’s not always the end of the road. – Priya Chopra, 1Milk2Sugars

Eight Tips For Creating More Engaging Podcast Ads

Forbes Agency Podcasts

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: December 13, 2018

Podcasts are rapidly growing, with businesses across several industries leveraging the format. According to research, consumers are more receptive to ads on podcasts than on any other medium. As the likelihood of ad spend on podcasts continues to rise, more brands will be looking to differentiate themselves through podcast advertising.

To capitalize on this opportunity, eight Forbes Agency Council members share their tips for creating podcast ads that boost engagement.

Members share their best tips for podcast ads that engage.

Forbes Agency Podcasts

1. Know The Audience And Focus

When creating ads, it is essential that the audience meets your exact target. Understand the content focus of the specific podcast and make sure your ad aligns with the podcast. Podcast ads perform well when you are micro-targeting and speaking directly to an audience that is already captivated by the content of the topic. – Scott Darrohn, fishbat Media, LLC.

2. Combine Story, Knowledge And Entertainment

Similar to other native ads, podcast ads succeed by truly understanding the target audience, crafting a compelling message (not too commercialized but thought-provoking), and utilizing multi-spot frequency to boost memory and recognition. The successful models that we use combine story, knowledge and entertainment to form an effective ad that feels like an extension of the show. – Yan Zhang, XYZ Advantage

3. Think Of It As Influencer Marketing

Outline your goals and key messages you want to communicate to their audience, as well as anything you absolutely don’t want them to say. But then let the podcast personality shine through — even if it’s a bit scary. The most successful sponsored content emerges when influencers are allowed to tell stories in a way that resonates with their audience, and the same is true for podcast advertising. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group

4. Leverage An Enthusiastic Host

Integrating an ad into a podcast is a very effective way to reach a target audience. Having the podcast announcer promote the brand or read the script directly is the most effective way to integrate a brand with the target audience. The consumer will resonate with it on a deeper level since it is being promoted in the authentic voice of the podcast. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, hawthornedirect.com

5. Make Your Message Clear And Simple

Most people listen to podcasts during their daily commute or while multitasking at work, so while you have their attention, recognize they are probably distracted with other tasks as well. Keep your message simple and relevant to the show/host, then hook them with a clear call to action. You’ll be more likely to hold their attention and hook them to learn more. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing + Partnerships

6. Choose Podcasts That Align With The Lifestyle You’re Selling

Podcasts are great for advertising. But often when creating ads, you are selling a lifestyle just as much as you are a product or service. Be sure that the podcast host fits within this avatar, and that your product will resonate with his or her users. It should also be believable that the podcast host would use your product or service and have a personal experience with it. – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs

7. Listen First, Then Advertise

In effect, podcast marketing is influencer marketing. Hosts often read the ads themselves, injecting their personality. So, your marketing should benefit from their connection to the audience. Many waste this opportunity by providing one-size-fits-all ad copy rather than actually listening to the podcast, understanding its tone and adapting their message. Good podcast ads feel like a part of the show. – Kevin Smith, Mighty Roar

8. Make It Relevant

It’s more about the podcast host, the topic and their audience, and less about the actual ad. It has to be seamless. Podcast ads convert better because the audience is there to learn — they get a lot of value. Imagine if the podcast is on marketing automation and you’re selling a marketing automation service? It stops being an ad; it’s a value-add, a recommendation. People like recommendations. -Rafael Romis, Weberous Web Design