Incorporating corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly important for success

Businesses of all sizes and across industries spend billions of dollars a year on corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. CSR means choosing to put people and the planet first by operating in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. It can take many different forms — from eco-friendly office practices to charitable giving to volunteering — and vary widely from company to company, but it’s a critical part of succeeding in the current economy.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Three in four of today’s consumers claim they’re more likely to purchase from brands or do business with companies that are socially responsible. This is particularly true among millennials, both when choosing which brands to buy from and which companies to work for. According to Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse survey, “81 percent of Millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship.” CSR is no longer a “nice-to-have” — it’s a “must-have.”

CSR represents a tremendous opportunity for businesses to build trust, bolster their reputation, and give back to the community. When creating and/or ramping up a CSR strategy, there are three pillars to consider: clients, people, and community.

Clients

Implementing CSR initiatives can give a competitive advantage to brands that are highly competitive on price, quality, and convenience. Embracing socially responsible policies helps a company burnish its image and cultivate positive brand recognition by demonstrating that it is compassionate and trustworthy. These values go a long way towards attracting and retaining clients. Clients and consumers (depending on the business model) want to be associated with businesses that are doing good and have a good reputation. By building client loyalty, CSR helps companies achieve increased profitability and long-term financial success.

A marketing and advertising agency can practice CSR by working with nonprofit clients, as well as for-profit businesses. A compelling campaign for a children’s hospital or a conservation non-profit telegraphs to other clients that the agency is committed to giving back, and clients will want to be associated with that goodwill. Charitable giving is another way businesses can use CSR to strengthen their client relationships. During the holiday season, businesses can donate to charitable organizations on behalf of their clients, which has the dual benefit of supporting meaningful causes and showing clients your business cares.

People

Just as CSR cultivates goodwill and loyalty from clients, it too can have the same effect internally. Making CSR a priority creates a positive work environment that inspires and unites employees. It supports recruitment, retention and employee satisfaction. Good CSR tends to attract employees who are eager to make a difference in the world, which is mostly millennials, and can help attract top-tier talent who are looking for jobs that have meaning and impact, not just a generous salary.

Social responsibility empowers employees to leverage corporate resources to do good and those collective employee efforts can achieve substantial results. This, in turn, increases workplace morale and boosts productivity. Having a sense of pride in the company they work for creates engaged workers who are happy in their jobs and committed to their employers. Put simply, they are more likely to stick around.

CSR has to start “at home.” A key but sometimes overlooked aspect of CSR is how a company treats and supports its own employees. A company that makes large donations to charitable organizations but doesn’t pay its own workers a fair wage or provide equal access to opportunity, is not living up to certain values. Diversity and inclusion are essential to CSR. If leadership prioritizes these issues, it creates a culture of social responsibility that serves employees, clients and customers well.

Consider policies around flexible work schedules and remote work options. Those might not seem directly related to CSR on the surface, but they are critical to making jobs more accessible to a wider swath of people. A company with rigid hours may have trouble attracting or retaining employees with young kids or an elder parent to care for, which can result in a homogenous workforce. Instituting a corporate culture that promotes work-life balance and employee wellbeing is also part of CSR.

Community

The third pillar of CSR is community. Businesses have a role to play in making local communities and the planet a cleaner place to live. The Earth is the only life support system we have, and companies should be passionate about protecting it by applying green thinking to every decision. Every business, no matter the size, can have a positive impact on the environment by implementing green practices and procedures designed to address climate change.

The opportunities are endless: recycling programs; purchasing environmentally preferable office products like paper towels and cleaners; a water filtration system to reduce plastic water bottles; technology that automatically goes into energy saver mode; employee tree planting days; bonuses for green methods of commuting to work, like bicycling or public transportation. The list goes on, and no measure is too small.

How to build a CSR strategy

With these three pillars of CSR in mind, companies should embark on building a CSR strategy by first identifying their strengths. What are you good at? What do clients, potential hires, and the broader business community look to your company for? What do you have that no other company does? What can you offer that’s unique?

Next, consider what your clients and customers value. Are there particular issues they care about? Once you’ve identified those issues, how can your company support them? For example, if gender equality is a big area of interest, a company could donate to charitable organizations that have that mandate, as well as ensure the gender balance of the workplace is equitable and there are programs in place to support female leaders.

Companies should also solicit input from their employees when crafting a strategy. What do employees care about? Since one goal of CSR is to engage employees in collective action, their opinions carry a lot of weight. How do employees want to spend their time and company resources?

Finally, effective CSR programs capture analytics and measurements to gauge how successful campaigns really are. You want to make sure you are designing programs to have an impact, not just for show. Employees and clients alike will appreciate knowing what the outcomes are.

CSR is about giving back and helping find solutions to everyday issues – locally, nationally and globally. Ultimately the most successful CSR strategies are those that are not supplemental or peripheral, but rather baked into a company’s DNA. There are few aspects of a business that thoughtful CSR can’t improve. Incorporating CSR into the business strategy helps to build brand recognition and client/customer loyalty, achieves cost savings through reducing global footprint, attracts positive media attention, helps to find and retain top talent, and improves employee satisfaction and morale. But most importantly, companies that practice CSR can make a real difference in the world.

 

How emotionally fueled mass communication can affect advertising and brands

Advertisers are often tempted to use sensationalist mass communication to promote their brand, which isn’t a good idea

It can seem like the news cycle these days is filled with sensationalism and attention-grabbing headlines, putting brands in a challenging and potentially compromising position.

Brands invest in advertising to attract attention, get the word out, and raise awareness about their product. In today’s saturated digital media environment, this can be a challenge because consumers have so many demands on their attention. Brands, understandably, want to meet consumers where they are—or rather, where their attention is—and find ways to break through the noise. However, this impulse can lead to the siren song of sensationalism.

Whether through advertising on sites that traffic in clickbait or by attempting to capitalize on the momentum of viral internet hoaxes, advertisers are often tempted to use sensationalist mass communication to promote their brand. This strategy is short-sighted.

Participation or affiliation with this type of advertising ultimately has a negative effect on a brand and its reputation. Brands can gain more ground by investing in accountable, ethical advertising that will drive results over the long-term.

Sensationalism

Sensationalist communication, which can sometimes be known as “Ragebait”- or content specifically designed to provoke strong emotions – is nothing new. In fact, it has a long history in American media through what used to be known as “yellow journalism.”

Yellow journalism emphasizes sensationalism over facts. It first emerged at the end of the 19th century when competition between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, and their respective newspapers, was fierce, with each paper duking it out for the public’s attention. The publishers realized that exaggerating stories to make them more dramatic meant they could sell more papers.

However, the consequences of this approach became clear with the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. The newspapers had closely covered the Cuban struggle for independence and fanned the flames of the conflict, and while they didn’t cause the war, they played a central role in ginning up public interest and support.

Spanish-American War Coverage

Certainly, media and journalistic standards have evolved since then, but the internet is a breeding ground for sensationalist content. The internet enables anyone to be a publisher, promotes the rapid flow of information (with no gatekeepers), and floods people with so much content that headlines really have to be eye-catching to get clicks.

In the era of social media, more and more headlines use provocative messaging and promise stories that are “shocking” to attract attention. Other tactics include phrases like “one simple trick” or “what they’re not telling you.” The more people click on these headlines, the more people see the ads that are served there, and so the cycle continues.

Hoaxes

Today, this type of content can be divided into a couple of different categories. One category is hoaxes, like the Momo challenge or Tide Pods. As explained by Vox, an image of a “devilish bird-lady” named Momo somehow became a global panic about a dangerous “suicide game” that targeted children on social media. Parents were terrified that Momo would goad their children into violence while they used WhatsApp, watched YouTube videos, or played video games. But there was no evidence that the Momo challenge ever led to any violence—it was an “overblown internet hoax,” just like the idea that teenagers were ingesting Tide Pods or snorting condoms.

Momo Challenge

Satire, conspiracy, and “health” news

The internet can be an incredible resource to find information about current events, history, health, and more. It’s also a place where misinformation thrives, and it’s not always clear what is true and what is not. The internet makes it possible for people to find information that supports whatever they already believe, which fuels conspiracy theories. Anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, and “birther” conspiracists are able to connect and share online and reinforce one another. This, in turn, leads people who don’t believe the conspiracy to try and correct the record. Each side infuriates the other. People may be mad, but they are engaged, which is what advertisers want.

Moreover, it can be tricky to discern online between what is satire and what isn’t. Sarcasm and nuance aren’t easy to pick up and people take things literally. Furthermore, many people aren’t educated on how to identify whether media sites, sets of facts, or scientific studies are truthful and valid. Content makers can take advantage of this ignorance to promote conspiracy theories and make money. One of the most notorious conspiracy mongers out there, Alex Jones of InfoWars, uses crazy ideas to shill products like nutritional supplements and survivalist gear.

Deep fakes

The lines between what is real and what is not are only going to blur further, thanks to technology that enables “deep fakes.” A deep fake is a “computer-generated replication of a person, saying or doing things they have never said or done,” as defined by The Guardian.

From celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence accepting an award to President Trump advising the Belgians on climate change, technology can make it impossible to decipher whether a thing actually happened or not. As deep fakes become more sophisticated, it will be even more important for consumers to rely on trusted platforms to parse what’s real and what’s not, and even more important for brands to focus their advertising in places not linked to falsehoods and deception.

Deep Fakes

The good (the bad, the ugly)

Certainly not all content that is designed for clicks is nefarious. Unorthodox food preparations and recipes tend to attract a lot of attention: Videos of people throwing pieces of Kraft cheese onto babies’ faces, or a bizarre-looking pot of “queso” have generated huge reactions. There are also positive challenges, like the ALS ice bucket challenge, which raised millions of dollars for disease research.

The internet has been around long enough at this point that sensationalist, viral content is not that hard to engineer. It’s a cheap laugh, and brands have to seriously question whether it’s valuable or ethical to engage with it.

While advertising alongside rage bait may garner eyeballs in the short term, it can also cause long-term reputational damage. There’s been a concerted effort from groups like Sleeping Giants to get brands to remove ads from platforms and shows that peddle in sensationalism and fear-mongering, like Breitbart and the Ingraham Angle.

Brands whose ads are associated with or run alongside deceptive or harmful content now get called out and held responsible, so companies have to weigh the value of reaching certain sets of customers with the need to preserve the dignity and positivity of their reputation. Either way, they may lose customers, so it has to be a question of ethics, integrity, and accountability.

Brands also have to make sure they know where all their ads are placed, which in a time of real-time bidding and programmatic advertising, is not always easy to keep a handle on. Brands should be very aware of where their digital advertisements get placed and where they are getting shared, perhaps through the use of a Digital Asset Management platform.

Staying on top of negative communication trends is key to a brand. By using a proprietary suite of social listening tools to analyze sentiment around the brands they represent, agencies can make their clients aware of these negative trends and how it may be impacting their customers. This can quickly affect messaging across all channels and placement that will quickly help brands navigate this negative ecosystem.

Final thoughts

In summary, effective advertising is about much more than how many people see an ad. It’s about building a brand’s reputation and developing a strategy that is sustainable in a constantly evolving landscape. There are new internet fads every day, and while they may attract attention in the moment, the next day will bring something new.

Trying to capitalize on this ephemeral, and often harmful, momentum is a losing strategy. Instead, brands should aim to optimize ROI by advertising in a way that is true to their vision and that doesn’t rely on the crutch of sensational or emotionally fueled communication to have an impact.

 

John Francis is Sr. Director of Digital Strategy at Hawthorne and responsible for creating digital advertising experiences for Hawthorne’s clients that emphasize conversions. He has a penchant for analyzing qualitative social and UX data in order to achieve the highest ROI for clients like BLACK+DECKER, Dexcom, Dyson, Gemmy, LeafFilter and Sengled among just a few. Understanding how people interact with information design is John’s passion. Prior to Hawthorne, John was the dean of the Keller Graduate School of Management/Information Sciences. For the 12 previous years he taught “Interactive Design, Usability, Marketing and Branding” at The Art Institute of California. Before his teaching adventures, he was the director of partner marketing with VERIO/NTT. Prior to his time with VERIO/NTT, John was Webmaster at America Online, where his team spearheaded the creation and launch of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and strategically marketing the AIM software package, resulting in over 400M installations of the chat application.

How To Revamp Your Marketing Funnel When Results Are Sub-Par

Marketing funnels are not always successful. If a business is struggling with inconsistent marketing efforts or sub-par results despite the time and work invested, it may consider an overhaul of its entire funnel.

However, a complete revamp may be easier said than done if the business does not know exactly what the issue was to begin with. Without proper consideration, any overhaul risks causing more damage than good.

To help navigate this situation, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council share some of the key items brands should check off when revamping their sales funnel to carry out the process successfully.

How To Revamp Your Marketing Funnel When Results Are Sub-Par

1. Identify Where Losses Happen

Rather than abandoning their entire strategy, brands should identify the step where customer losses are greatest and address this area specifically. For instance, if you’re successful in capturing attention but conversions aren’t happening, you may need to analyze why customers are choosing your competition over you and address their objections in your campaign. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions

2. Insist On A Holistic Program

Company marketing efforts often happen in silos (marketing, PR, sales, etc.), each with its own plan, agenda, language, etc. This inconsistency can create confusion with customers and hurt sales. A marketing funnel overhaul is a good time for executive leadership to be brave and insist that department heads get aligned on corporate marketing priorities, messages, goals and successes. – David Fouse, Pinkston Group

3. Reflect On Your Ideal Customer Profile

Before throwing the entire marketing funnel out with the bathwater, I’d suggest taking a deep look at your ideal customer profile. Far too often, brands don’t really understand their customer and worse, aren’t spending money where their customers spend their time. Go back to the customer — really go back. Host a focus group and get their insights and opinions before you slather on a new concept. – Danica Kombol, Everywhere Agency

4. Start With The Pain Points

Rather than starting with a blank canvas, start with the biggest issue or pain point in your funnel. Where are the numbers bad or where is there a big drop-off? More than likely, this will lead to a ripple effect of solutions if you can pinpoint the source of the issue. – Jim Huffman, Growthhit

5. Consider The Domino Effect

A marketing funnel can be like a stack of dominoes — when one piece falls, the rest follow. So when “revamping” a marketing funnel, the first step is to analyze the funnel to uncover if the whole system is broken or if there are some specific parts that are broken. Attempt to “root-cause” the problem first before starting from scratch and reinventing the wheel when only one spoke is broken. – Bernard May, National Positions

6. Optimize One Stage At A Time

Don’t destroy the entire funnel without evaluating where the problem lies. Nail down the biggest barrier to action for each stage and then optimize your lead gen plan focusing on one stage at a time. And don’t forget that both marketing and sales must have a voice in the discussion. – Keri Witman, Cleriti

7. Revisit Your Audience Insights

The best way to identify the actual problem in your marketing funnel is to revisit your audience insights. When you address channels and tactics, without an understanding of your audience and their unique journey, you’re wasting your time and money. Instead, map the journey of your target audience. Identify outside factors and the role your brand plays in their lives. Then adjust accordingly. – Kevin Smith, Mighty Roar

8. Segment Your Audience

The most important aspect of a brand revamp is to segment your audience by demographics, and more importantly, psychographics such as reasons to buy, personal preferences or other selection criteria. After that, building detailed personas will be key. Make sure to prioritize the most desired segments and include those you may not have been targeting previously. After that, focus on messaging. – Francine Carb, Markitects, Inc.

9. Look For Changes In Your Audience

Sometimes, sagging results are just par for the course. But, if there’s genuinely a downward trend, looking at changes in your audience is critical. As consumers continue to gain more power and tools and techniques change rapidly, marketers are left holding the bag, and as the sand leaks out, they can panic. First, look at your customer — they’ll tell you what you need to know. – Bo Bothe, BrandExtract, LLC

10. Open Up Communication With Clients

The first step is to open up communication with your client. What we often see with smaller businesses is that there isn’t an agreement on what qualifies as a “response.” We can show them countless calls, clicks and impressions, but they still see “no results,” when really, it’s another cog in the wheel that’s broken, usually their website or landing page. – Joy Gendusa, PostcardMania

11. Understand Your Attribution Model

One of the first things a company should visit is their attribution model — where are they attributing the valued touch points within their customer journey. A deep understanding of your own attribution model is crucial in order to understand how clients are converting and why. Revisit your attribution model with solid analytics from your social and ad platforms to find if it warrants remodeling. – Michael Smith, MDS Media Inc.

12. Start With The Data

It all starts with data. If tracked properly, you should be able to determine exactly what parts of marketing are performing better than others. You’ll start to see a baseline to determine if it was the creative, messaging or media that supported the increased results. But if not tracked properly, you won’t be able to determine any of this. Make sure you find the right partner who can do this. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

13. Invest In Tools And Content

Marketers are quick to try lead generation pilots and find out nothing takes flight. To be successful with customer engagement at scale, you need two core things: 1) the right marketing automation tools that can deliver connected and personalized journeys, and 2) a runway of good content to drip out. Having one e-book, whitepaper or webinar won’t cut it. You need to continuously feed the funnel. – Andrew Au, Intercept Group

14. Don’t Forget Cross-Sell And Upsell

Many brands have departments that operate separately. Your best prospects may be current or lapsed customers from a “sister” brand. When you revisit your marketing funnel, pay special attention to the opportunity you may have missed to cross-sell or upsell or drive renewals previously. – Kieley Taylor, GroupM

15. Flip The Sales Funnel

Usually the funnel looks like a reversed cone, that narrows on the bottom. Instead, I flip the funnel 90 degrees, and turn it into a megaphone that narrows at the top. I speak through my most loyal customers to spread my message and you should do the same. If you can turn your funnel upside down, you’ll get results! – Fran Biderman-Gross, Advantages

Building housewares brands with brand response TV

Growing Unicorns with DRTV

It is time for marketers to take advantage of the DRTV expansion to solve some of their biggest advertising pain points.

Karla Crawford Kerr on September 26, 2019 at 9:51 am

Housewares and brand response television have a long and robust shared history. Over 30 years ago, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) deregulated television air time allowing different time formats of commercial air time to be purchased. This paved the way for the live shopping channels as we know them today, showcasing many housewares products. It also opened up the airwaves to longer formats like 30-minute infomercials. Braun and Black+Decker were among the first major housewares retail brands to embrace the format, an early example of direct response television (DRTV), in which consumers are encouraged to buy directly from advertisements.

Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, longer format advertising represented about 75% of the DRTV landscape and today the industry is worth over $200 billionPopular housewares DRTV advertisers achieved an almost cult-like status by using a variety of lengths including from 30 seconds to a half hour and live shopping to promote products like the George Foreman Grill, OxiClean, ShamWow and of course, the Snuggie. However, it is brands like Conair, Cuisinart, Dollar Shave, KitchenAid, Pfizer, Shark, Wahl Clipper Corporation and WORX that have paved the way for advertising that utilizes both branding and response mechanisms or brand response advertising.

As television and media consumption habits have evolved, along with advertising and marketing technology, so has DRTV, paving the way for the next generation of brand response TV. The role of DRTV is expanding in the brand marketing world and the next generation of DRTV has opened up powerful opportunities for housewares brands seeking accountability and faster campaign ROI. As the role of DRTV expands in the brand marketing world, it is time for marketers to take advantage of that expansion to solve some of their biggest advertising pain points.

In today’s competitive media landscape, brand advertisers struggle more than ever before to earn market share using traditional approaches due to factors like cost and fragmentation. Targeting consumers and B2B customers is getting extremely difficult. Put simply, it’s hard to stand out in an environment where people are bombarded by brand messages all day, on all sides. Social media may be widely used, but it also gives brands a split second to make an impression. What marketers need is a canvas that tells a story in an attention-getting medium, which is why they are turning to brand response TV (BRTV) and connected TV with the traditional bag of tricks like retargeting.

Brand response advertising increases brand awareness, improves brand perception and drives engagement. It is highly accountable, measurable, and delivers real ROI. It features customized, relevant content and works in conjunction with other types of media and channels. The brand response paradigm leverages a strong data component and can empower brands to make better decisions around media buys, messaging, and their overall campaigns. Marketers can analyze real-time performance statistics and test strategies in an ongoing way. BRTV is also more affordable and efficient than general advertising.

Despite these major benefits, many brand marketers are reluctant to invest in brand response TV due to concerns that people aren’t watching. Certainly video content is evolving, but that doesn’t mean TV is dead.

In an October 2018 study, the Consumer Technology Association surveyed 2,000 US adults about their content consumption habits. The survey yielded four main segments: Traditionalists, Value-Conscious Streamers, Device-Diverse Viewers and Experience Seekers. Traditionalists (29%) haven’t tried new technology and are less likely to stream or binge-watch; Value-Conscious Streams (41%) are more likely to use streaming services than cable and prioritize saving money; Device-Diverse Viewers (13%) watch a lot of video content from many sources on many devices; Experience Seekers (17%) prioritize an optimal viewing experience, and are willing to spend on technology and content to get that experience.

Across all these personas, one thing is clear – TV remains the top device for viewing content and cable/satellite remains the top source for content. TV is highly relevant and a long way from becoming obsolete. Housewares brands that invest in brand response TV can get serious bang for their buck.

Housewares brands are particularly suited to brand response advertising for a number of reasons. One is the power of demonstration. Brands can show their products in action and demonstrate how they will improve people’s lives in a way that is impactful and enticing. Consider Dyson, Keurig, Leesa, Rust-Oleum and T-Mobile. Viewers can immediately see how these products address a clear pain point and offer better ease and convenience than whatever they’re currently doing.

Housewares tend to be fairly intimate since they are products people use in their homes, so creating an emotional connection with viewers is key. This is why so many of the stars of DRTV are “everyman” or “everywoman” types who viewers feel comfortable with, recognize, and trust.  Housewares brands using brand response have a natural, high-focus on their relationship with consumers. The shift from brick and mortar to e-commerce has been beneficial to brands as they engage directly with the consumer via Amazon FBM (fulfillment by merchant), as well as interactions with consumers that share their housewares experience online.

Further, using brand response for housewares creates more room to deploy creative strategies, as suggested by Dash, Sobro and Wahl Clipper Corporation executives at the aforementioned building housewares brands seminar. For example, Catherine-Gail Reinhard, vice president, product strategy & marketing for Dash and Sobro shared that she often creates recipes and/or develops cookbooks that complement a food-related houseware. At the same seminar, Steven Yde, Vice President Marketing NAC division, said that offering guides from in-house barbers helps build value and ensures greater product satisfaction.

Direct response advertising has come a long way from the days of Ron Popeil’s first TV commercials for Ronco’s housewares gadgets like the Ronco Spray Gun, the Chop-O-Matic and the Veg-O-Matic, but clearly many aspects have remained the same.  In 2019 and beyond, brand response TV is a highly effective and cost-efficient approach for any housewares brand that wants to strategically grow and have a meaningful impact.

7 Steps to Advertising to the Emerging Gen Z Consumer

Generation Z, the post-Millennial group of digital natives born after 1997 who have an insatiable desire for instant gratification and personalization in all aspects of their lives, is arguably the most unique generation to come. Advertising to the emerging Gen Z consumer is both as challenging and simple as it has ever been, which is an oxymoron in itself. But it perhaps explains the complexity of this 32% of the global population, which is edging out Millennials.Generation Z, the post-Millennial group of digital natives born after 1997 who have an insatiable desire for instant gratification and personalization in all aspects of their lives, is arguably the most unique generation to come. Advertising to the emerging Gen Z consumer is both as challenging and simple as it has ever been, which is an oxymoron in itself. But it perhaps explains the complexity of this 32% of the global population, which is edging out Millennials. Before we get into methods for marketing to Gen Z, it’s important to understand who this generation is and the qualities that make them unique. Generation Z has never lived in a world without the web. The Internet has always existed for Gen Z; though it has evolved into an entire entity in the last decade or so, life without an online presence is but a vague and distant memory to them. In this day and age, 96% of Generation Z members own a smartphone and, on average, they spend more than three hours a day perusing their devices. Social media is the beast that lies within these smartphones and has proven to be a powerful tool highly utilized by this generation. For some, reaching Generation Z may seem difficult for this very reason — from the outside in, they are seemingly out of touch with the real world. For advertisers, however, it has made Gen Z more reachable than any preceding generation. Making a connection has a whole new meaning in advertising, due to the realm of social media and smartphones. Here are best practices on how to reach and engage with the Gen Z audience: Reaching the Gen Z Audience While Gen Zers have earned a reputation as arduous customers, there are various methods advertisers can tap into to successfully sell their brands/products to this tenacious bunch. As a well-informed and arguably opinionated generation, they generally respond well to brands that earn their loyalty as customers. This is unique to Gen Z, as other generations have typically chosen what they consume based on tradition. And just how can advertisers earn their loyalty? Sell the all-encompassing brand and its story to give it a sense of relatability. Authenticity When determining how to best reach this demographic, one word should be kept top of mind: authenticity. Research shows that 63% of Generation Z want marketing from “real” people, as opposed to celebrity endorsers. I put “real” in quotation marks, because this category does not stop at trusted friends and family of Gen Zers. A trusted source or friend can be found anywhere from an inner circle to their favorite social media influencers and bloggers. Influencer marketing has proven successful with this generation, because hearing about a product from an average, everyday person (with 10,000-plus social media followers, that is) resonates more deeply with Gen Z than seeing a high-profile celebrity endorse everyday items. Influencers Influencers are more trusted by Generation Z because they don’t seem like they’re trying to persuade; rather, they’re just filling their audience in on something they enjoy. In turn, influencer marketing does not feel like corporate manipulation. Furthermore, their followers are just that: people who follow and are invested in their lives. They are already sold on the person, which makes it easy to trust their opinion. Keep Reaching Out/Retargeting Online retargeting is key in engaging this generation and staying top of mind. Once Gen Zers begin researching a brand, it is vital to remain relevant to them, and retargeting is one of the best ways to do so. It is an easy way to take them through the buying process, so they end up as loyal brand advocates. As a generation obsessed with fast-paced, instantaneous moments, it can be easy to forget about something if it’s not reinforced. Retargeting — by means of social media and banner and display ads — is paramount to success with Gen Zers. With the power of online retargeting, however, it is important to put a cap on the frequency, as to not fatigue the potential buyers. If a member of this group sees an ad too frequently, it can wind up in lost interest. They may feel it is being pushed too hard on them — which is quite the opposite of feeling authentic and caring. Authentic Reviews Online reviews are another important factor when Generation Z considers a product. Creating a space where they can hear from people of a similar background in a written or spoken testimonial to the product can make all the difference. Reviews get customers involved and allow their voices to be heard, tying in an element of personalization. In order to receive genuinely positive and highly regarded reviews from Gen Z, it’s important a company is honest, maintains the quality it guarantees, and makes them feel special throughout the process. They don’t want to be considered another number; rather, they’d like to feel included and impactful. Corporate Social Responsibility Generation Z also cares deeply about brands that have a positive social or environmental impact. It is of the utmost importance for a brand to come across as one that cares — in all aspects. Though Gen Z can seem like they lack character or substance, because they spend so much time disconnected from the world around them, this group actually has a tendency to express their values online and want to vocalize those beliefs. Therefore, they appreciate when a company does the same. Voicing inclusivity, social justice, and sustainability can majorly impact a Gen Z target while they determine whether a brand is worthy of their purchase. Typically, members of this generation look at a brand from a holistic standpoint before deciding to become a customer or not. This is why a company’s social media presence is one of the most important upkeeps. Serving as a place to express oneself, it’s the prime method to communicate a brand’s the progressive values. Engagement Ultimately, the best way to engage with Gen Z and make them purchase is to foster a connection that does not feel contrived. They love realness above all and prefer that a company is upfront with what it has to offer and what it values holistically. With technology at the tips of their fingers, Gen Z members have almost always done their research before purchasing. This is why marketing to them is more crucial than ever: the way a brand portrays itself online and the decisions it makes can make or break its profitability. Advertising geared toward Gen Z should always pique their interest and keep that interest alive until they decide it’s time to buy. The initial point of contact in getting this audience’s attention will push them to look further into a brand to ensure it’s something they’re interested in putting their money toward. As such, it is vital to a company’s success to maintain strong marketing and advertising tactics — from start to finish, throughout the buying process. Brands: Show You Care About Gen Z The bottom line of advertising to the Generation Z audience is that you should always sell the brand as one that cares not only about its own success, but also about the success and ultimate happiness of its customers. Maintaining happy customers, at the end of the day, is the main driving force behind the success of any Gen Z-focused company.

Before we get into methods for marketing to Gen Z, it’s important to understand who this generation is and the qualities that make them unique. Generation Z has never lived in a world without the web. The Internet has always existed for Gen Z; though it has evolved into an entire entity in the last decade or so, life without an online presence is but a vague and distant memory to them. In this day and age, 96% of Generation Z members own a smartphone and, on average, they spend more than three hours a day perusing their devices. Social media is the beast that lies within these smartphones and has proven to be a powerful tool highly utilized by this generation.

For some, reaching Generation Z may seem difficult for this very reason — from the outside in, they are seemingly out of touch with the real world. For advertisers, however, it has made Gen Z more reachable than any preceding generation. Making a connection has a whole new meaning in advertising, due to the realm of social media and smartphones. Here are best practices on how to reach and engage with the Gen Z audience:

Reaching the Gen Z Audience

While Gen Zers have earned a reputation as arduous customers, there are various methods advertisers can tap into to successfully sell their brands/products to this tenacious bunch. As a well-informed and arguably opinionated generation, they generally respond well to brands that earn their loyalty as customers. This is unique to Gen Z, as other generations have typically chosen what they consume based on tradition. And just how can advertisers earn their loyalty? Sell the all-encompassing brand and its story to give it a sense of relatability.

Authenticity

When determining how to best reach this demographic, one word should be kept top of mind: authenticity. Research shows that 63% of Generation Z want marketing from “real” people, as opposed to celebrity endorsers. I put “real” in quotation marks, because this category does not stop at trusted friends and family of Gen Zers. A trusted source or friend can be found anywhere from an inner circle to their favorite social media influencers and bloggers. Influencer marketing has proven successful with this generation, because hearing about a product from an average, everyday person (with 10,000-plus social media followers, that is) resonates more deeply with Gen Z than seeing a high-profile celebrity endorse everyday items.

Influencers

Influencers are more trusted by Generation Z because they don’t seem like they’re trying to persuade; rather, they’re just filling their audience in on something they enjoy. In turn, influencer marketing does not feel like corporate manipulation. Furthermore, their followers are just that: people who follow and are invested in their lives. They are already sold on the person, which makes it easy to trust their opinion.

Keep Reaching Out/Retargeting

Online retargeting is key in engaging this generation and staying top of mind. Once Gen Zers begin researching a brand, it is vital to remain relevant to them, and retargeting is one of the best ways to do so. It is an easy way to take them through the buying process, so they end up as loyal brand advocates. As a generation obsessed with fast-paced, instantaneous moments, it can be easy to forget about something if it’s not reinforced. Retargeting — by means of social media and banner and display ads — is paramount to success with Gen Zers.

With the power of online retargeting, however, it is important to put a cap on the frequency, as to not fatigue the potential buyers. If a member of this group sees an ad too frequently, it can wind up in lost interest. They may feel it is being pushed too hard on them — which is quite the opposite of feeling authentic and caring.

Authentic Reviews

Online reviews are another important factor when Generation Z considers a product. Creating a space where they can hear from people of a similar background in a written or spoken testimonial to the product can make all the difference. Reviews get customers involved and allow their voices to be heard, tying in an element of personalization. In order to receive genuinely positive and highly regarded reviews from Gen Z, it’s important a company is honest, maintains the quality it guarantees, and makes them feel special throughout the process. They don’t want to be considered another number; rather, they’d like to feel included and impactful.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Generation Z also cares deeply about brands that have a positive social or environmental impact. It is of the utmost importance for a brand to come across as one that cares — in all aspects. Though Gen Z can seem like they lack character or substance, because they spend so much time disconnected from the world around them, this group actually has a tendency to express their values online and want to vocalize those beliefs. Therefore, they appreciate when a company does the same. Voicing inclusivity, social justice, and sustainability can majorly impact a Gen Z target while they determine whether a brand is worthy of their purchase. Typically, members of this generation look at a brand from a holistic standpoint before deciding to become a customer or not. This is why a company’s social media presence is one of the most important upkeeps. Serving as a place to express oneself, it’s the prime method to communicate a brand’s progressive values.

Engagement

Ultimately, the best way to engage with Gen Z and make them purchase is to foster a connection that does not feel contrived. They love realness above all and prefer that a company is upfront with what it has to offer and what it values holistically. With technology at the tips of their fingers, Gen Z members have almost always done their research before purchasing. This is why marketing to them is more crucial than ever: the way a brand portrays itself online and the decisions it makes can make or break its profitability. Advertising geared toward Gen Z should always pique their interest and keep that interest alive until they decide it’s time to buy. The initial point of contact in getting this audience’s attention will push them to look further into a brand to ensure it’s something they’re interested in putting their money toward. As such, it is vital to a company’s success to maintain strong marketing and advertising tactics — from start to finish, throughout the buying process.

Brands: Show You Care About Gen Z

The bottom line of advertising to the Generation Z audience is that you should always sell the brand as one that cares not only about its own success, but also about the success and ultimate happiness of its customers. Maintaining happy customers, at the end of the day, is the main driving force behind the success of any Gen Z-focused company.

Hawthorne Direct was named a 2019 Bronze Award Winner for the Stevie® Awards for Great Employers

On September 20th Hawthorne Direct was named a 2019 Bronze Award Winner for the Stevie® Awards for Great Employers , recognizing the world’s best companies to work for.

Stevie Award

Stevie Award judges include many of the world’s most respected executives, entrepreneurs, innovators, and business educators. More than 1,000 professionals worldwide participate in the Stevie Award judging process each year.

According to one judge, “Hawthorne clearly has created an ideal formula for delivering success for its clients based on the company’s success and the many accolades they’ve secured. I liked how they highlighted in this submission, their priority to dedicate efforts to employee happiness and satisfaction, combined with charity and community efforts.”

This is the third Stevie honor Hawthorne has received. CEO Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is a 2018 Bronze Award winner in both the “Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year” and “Woman of the Year – Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations” categories.

14 Things To Remember When Creating ‘Explainer’ Videos

Videos are a common form of content these days, with “explainer” videos being particularly popular. While many of us like to think that it’s a piece of cake to create good video content, it’s just not that easy. Thought and planning need to go into explainer videos in order to make them most effective and to reach the right audience.

So, when you’re getting ready to plan out your next explainer video, look to this list of things to remember from 14 Forbes Agency Council experts.

Explainer Videos

1. Follow Monroe’s Sequence

Explainer videos seek to teach and motivate. Monroe’s motivated sequence provides a simple structure for the video. Open by gaining attention and reassure viewers by stating your purpose. Next, connect with the audience by identifying the need for the solution you’re about to show. Then, demonstrate the solution. Finally, close by visualizing the benefits, not the features, the solution offers. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

2. Consider Different Learning Styles

Some people prefer to learn by seeing, others by hearing and others by doing. Try to incorporate as many of these styles into your educational materials as possible. – Kieley Taylor, GroupM

3. Make Every Second Count

Remember this old presenting staple: Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them again. Time is valuable and so is thoroughness. So, in your explainer, give them the steps, present the steps concisely and then give a brief recap. If need be, break your content up into an explainer series. Attention spans are limited, so make every second count. – Bernard May, National Positions

4. Focus On SEO Benefits

The first thing we consider when creating an explainer video is the consistency with the brand and using it as a value add for UX and SEO. When using explainer videos, it’s important that the video is part of your content strategy and is supporting the optimized long-form content on your page. They’re also great for generating value links and reducing bounce rates. – Alex Valencia, We Do Web Content

5. Get A Good Spokesperson

Explainer videos are a great way to demonstrate a product; however, the voice and visual presence of the spokesperson are key. We have recently transitioned from using only product managers to also using young, high-energy employees who represent the company in the best light possible. This also serves to demonstrate that our client is thinking about its next generation of professionals. – Francine Carb, Markitects, Inc.

6. Stay Authentic

Authenticity is more than just what you say, it’s also the world you create. Cut through the clutter with an explainer video that brings the product or service to life in an authentic, engaging way, showing passion for what the company does. This creates an emotional, compelling connection for consumers, allowing them to envision themselves using your tool to solve their problems. – Howard Breindel, DeSantis Breindel

7. Keep The DIY Feel

I see businesses get stuck on explainer videos because they try to make them too good. Sure, you want to reflect your brand well, but if what you’re providing can solve the problem of a customer tomorrow, then make it with your laptop or phone. Consumers can understand the context of what you’re sharing. If anything, videos that feel more DIY will help humanize you and your brand. Just make it! – Jessica Gonzalez, InCharged

8. Remove The Jargon

When creating a problem solving video or a product overview video, you want it to be searchable and you want it to be easy to understand. Therefore, the words you use should be relatively simple. Keep it brief, use images, supporting text (again, simple) and include a short description tag for reference. Don’t over-complicate with industry jargon. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

9. Include Subtitles

Don’t forget subtitles. The majority of social media users do not have audio on when viewing videos, so it has been increasingly important to implement accurate and easy-to-read video captions. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack PR Marketing Group

10. Maintain Your Brand’s Voice

Explainer videos should still maintain tone and voice of the brand. Often times brands can be very operational and tactical in their approach, but should consider weaving in personality to really resonate with their consumers. Consistency across all mediums builds a stronger brand. – Lauren Shirreffs, 2Social Agency

11. Speak To The Lowest Common Denominator

Our agency refers to this service as LCD-ing it — speak to the lowest common denominator. You must assume that a fair number of viewers are starting from scratch, with no knowledge of your company or how it can benefit them. You must create the video for that group of people. The more knowledgeable consumer will still gain something and the LCD customer will feel educated and empowered to purchase. – Dustin Iannotti, artisansonfire.com

12. Keep It Simple

One of the most important things to remember about creating explainer videos and content is that people do not have a ton of time. Your video needs to be entertaining, straight-to-the-point and clear. Those videos need to explain only what is necessary and ensure that the user is able to access the most important discussions. – Jon James, Ignited Results

13. Focus On Visuals Over Sound

Visual images that have graphic reinforcement are important. Many people won’t watch a video with the sound turned on, so explainer videos have to be effective with the sound on or off. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

14. Focus On Originality

Explainer videos have long been popular, but the formats that receive the best engagement are constantly changing. The problem with inexpensive, cookie-cutter vendors is that they are always behind the curve in producing videos that are fresh and different. Do you really want the same kind of whiteboard video or animation style that everybody else is using? Your content won’t matter if you do. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

This advertising CEO uses neuroscience to sell you stuff | How I Made It

From the Los Angeles Times: August 11, 2019

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, 40, is chairwoman and chief executive of Hawthorne Direct, an 85-employee advertising agency that uses “neuromarketing” to generate a stronger and quicker response from consumers. This year, Hawthorne-Castro was the winner in the transformational leader category of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards of Greater Los Angeles. Hawthorne Direct’s clients include Apple, Nissan, Spectrum Business, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the U.S. Navy.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

Rocket science
Marketers have always tried to tap into consumers’ subconscious, Hawthorne-Castro said, but her company uses neuroscience to enhance campaigns so that they are more likely to resonate with the audience and employs detailed analytics to measure what is working. “Neuroscience aims to go beyond figuring out what people want or like and dives into the underlying forces that shape consumer decision making,” Hawthorne-Castro said. For instance, she said, neuroscience explains that testimonials work by exploiting humans’ need for social validation, and products and services that help consumers avoid a bad outcome are leveraged by humans’ “pessimism bias” that helped our ancestors survive.

Realistic approach
The Philadelphia native grew up in Iowa and later became a fine arts major at UCLA, showing talent for painting and photography. But it can be very hard to pay the bills with the usually uncertain income stream that comes with being an artist. “I was an artist, but I was also a realist, right? So, I thought ‘Well, I’m good, but I’m not great.’ Nor is it a really good career to go into,” she said.

Intern inspiration
An internship during her UCLA days provided a better idea for a career. It happened when she was working for music video and film director Bille Woodruff. A member of his crew made an important suggestion. “He said, ‘Have you ever thought about becoming an agent?’ I had not. Of course when I heard that, then I started reading all about it. I knew artists so well, that representing them, whether they be actors, writers or directors, was actually just a natural fit,” Hawthorne-Castro said.

Prime time
In 2001, she joined what is now known as William Morris Endeavor, remaining there through April 2007 as a television literary agent. “I represented writers, directors and producers for TV,” Hawthorne-Castro said, helping clients work on shows including “Lost,” various iterations of the “Law & Order” franchise, and “Entourage.” She was particularly fond of the latter because she had “lived that real-life story, because I had worked for Ari Emanuel as an assistant.” Emanuel, said to be the real-life inspiration for “Entourage” character Ari Gold, is now the co-chief executive of William Morris Endeavor.

Find your mentor
Some people hope to be discovered by higher-ranking employees who will advise and promote them. That’s way too iffy for Hawthorne-Castro. “You need to kind of self-select a mentor,” she said. “So, finding someone at partner level or management level, I think, is always critical: working hard, improving yourself and making their life easier so that they want to bring you up the ranks.”

Unusual step
Her next gig was with Hawthorne Direct, her father Tim’s company. It had been an infomercial pioneer when that advertising platform was wildly popular in the last century but was struggling in the digital age. She was coming in to help but wasn’t sure it made sense because it involved a substantial pay cut. “No one just stops being an agent if you’re successful, right? No one. Maybe they do so more now, but, they certainly didn’t 10, 15 years ago, unless you were kicked out.”

Working with dad
Hawthorne-Castro also wasn’t sure she would work well with the boss. “My father and I were fairly reluctant because we never thought we would work together,” she said. Hawthorne-Castro worked her way up through the company, from vice president of operations and client services to chief operating officer. She became the company’s chief executive in May 2014.

Disruptive
“I just worked harder than everyone, just set the pace that no one had ever seen. And so it was a pretty natural. No one told me to take over the company or take on these roles,” Hawthorne-Castro said. “Whatever I’m doing, whether it’s a board or organization, I just naturally kind of start kicking things over, seeing where the holes are and kind of organizing the troops.”

Know the biz
“Working your way, seeing all aspects, is really important,” Hawthorne-Castro said, especially if the task involves a sharp change in direction. “I saw from the very beginning what was good, what was working and what needed to be improved. And there’s nothing that anyone can run by me, or get past me,” she said. “It definitely kind of gives you the bulletproof way of operating, that you know all aspects of it.”

New model
In an advertising campaign for Home Advisor, Hawthorne-Castro’s company focused on the unanticipated problems that can suddenly happen around the home; “vignettes were used,” according to her company website’s case studies, “to create humorous problem/solution scenarios at multiple time lengths.” For Credit One, the idea was more psychological. Knowing that credit card customers hate giving out personal information, Hawthorne Direct “portrayed a world where everyone asks for ‘too much information,’ and then shared a more private and secure credit card experience.”

Leadership style
“I give people a lot of leeway,” Hawthorne-Castro said, “but I also expect a lot of out of them. So, there’s always going to be problems or things to improve, in anything — in life or in business — and that’s fine. So I’m always looking for how to do things better, but don’t just come with your complaints, come with your suggestion” on how things can be improved.

Personal
Hawthorne-Castro has been married to husband James Castro for 17 years. Their son Braden, 7, “aspires to be a magician at the Magic Castle” in Hollywood. When she’s not working, she loves to travel. “Traveling is really, really one of probably my biggest passions,” she said. “I don’t get to do it quite as much as I would like to, especially since my son has been born. But I think I’ve been to all the continents, except for Antarctica, and 130 countries at this point.”

11 Experts Share Top Impacts From AR And VR

AR and VR aren’t just for tech industries anymore. This technology is branching out into other sectors, so the impact of VR and AR will be widespread. Within the agency and marketing industries, there are many ways that this tech could be and is being used. Some ideas may be further off than others, but it’s a good idea to keep up with the potential and current trends.

We’ve asked 11 experts from Forbes Agency Council to share the top impacts of VR and AR that they have seen or think they will see within the agency and marketing sectors. See what they have to say here.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

1. Impact In Selling Experiences

Marketing professionals have to be on the cutting edge of tech innovations in order to spot opportunities for their clients. AR and VR can make a big difference for businesses that sell experiences. Whether it’s a hotel, an entertainment park, a wedding venue or a university, brands can recreate the setting with VR to give a taste of the experience and save time for their customers. – Inna Semenyuk, InnavationLabs

2. Lower Cost In Sharing Product

VR has changed the way that we view reality as well as the way that we view marketing. Recently, while in a showroom in Beverly Hills, I came in contact with a hologram model of a car. One thing that is helpful about this VR application is that there is a lower cost in sharing your product with an audience. No physical production is required with VR. – Jon James, Ignited Results

3. Delivering A Sense Of Community

I believe we are seeing a shift in consumers who are desiring a community that has been placed behind vanity metrics and personas due to the nature of social media. AR and VR have the ability to deliver this type of community and it will be interesting to see how people react to the use of this media type. – Sarah Remesch, 270M

4. Showstopping Demos

VR and AR are becoming increasingly popular in trade shows as a way to attract traffic to booths and demonstration areas. When visitors see the VR and AR demonstrations, they want to be a part of it and “see” what’s happening for themselves. In health care, which is our agency’s focus, this is particularly important for medical devices and new technologies. – Jodi Amendola, Amendola Communications

5. Transforming The Music Industry

It is only a matter of time before augmented reality takes over the music industry. We’ve seen many great examples of AR and VR transforming the music experience at live events, such as Coachella. My prediction is that music fans and artists will soon be connected through AR platforms to create a unique experience, providing an unparalleled connection between the artist and their fans. – Raffi Keuhnelian, INexxus

6. Dissolving Implicit Bias

The power of VR is that you can literally see the world from someone else’s shoes. As the world tries to break down barriers and implicit biases, VR will be used more to help people understand what it’s like to be another race, age, gender or sexual orientation. Sensitivity training via VR will hopefully open our eyes to our pre-existing biases and be more open to any minority group. – Emily Porter, Havas Formula

7. Increased Brand Engagement

Virtual reality holds incredible potential in brand engagement across the retail, commercial and entertainment sectors. It also holds promise for B2B marketers, particularly in creating engagement on the trade show circuit. We’re already seeing this with Progressive’s Lake Dash VR Experience and Samsung’s Moon for All Mankind. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

8. Increased Brand Awareness

The very nature of VR is extremely visual and immersive, which means companies will need to build their brand even more. Users will need to instantly recognize your brand because you cannot offer them an experience that is like an advertisement. The experience should be akin to a video game, which means it needs to be fun and interesting. If done right, they will associate it with your brand. – Jason Hall, FiveChannels Marketing

9. Virtual Advertising

Right now, AR and VR are used in very specific event marketing or defined spaces where you can experience a brand element or launch. Eventually, AR and VR will come into the general marketplace in the form of 3D or hologram billboards, in-car advertising with autonomous vehicles, etc. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC.

10. Heightened Experiences

Just as the internet changed everything and nothing, we predict VR and AR will do the same for marketing. The rules will still apply — know your audience and educate or entertain them to build a brand. VR and AR are starting to allow us to do that in new, immersive ways. Buyers’ interactions and experiences during their journey will be heightened and the expectations on marketers will be as well. – Patricia Rioux, Team ODEA

11. Try Before You Buy

AR and VR have been elevating the “try before you buy” e-commerce experience, helping buyers make more informed decisions. Not sure if that couch will match your decor? Point your phone and tap for a virtual taste before you schedule that delivery date. Can’t tell if those shoes are the right match? VR and AR lets you get up close and personal before you decide. – Bernard May, National Positions

14 Tips For Agencies On How To Promote Themselves

Agencies know how to market, but they often forget to do the same with their own company. It’s imperative that agencies remember to market themselves; otherwise how will they get more clients and continue to be successful? While this seems like an easy thing to, it can be difficult to set aside time for these sorts of tasks.

We’ve asked 14 Forbes Agency Council experts to share their best tips for how agencies can market and promote themselves. See their suggestions below.

Promote Your Agency

1. Make Yourself A Client

It’s incredibly challenging to prioritize “unpaid” work over paid work. However, it’s imperative to keep marketing yourself or there won’t be any more paid work! One of the best ways we’ve achieved this is by making ourselves a client. Schedule meetings with team members to brainstorm and don’t reschedule them. Then, schedule the work in the weekly schedule along with all other paid projects. – Chelimar Miranda, iHealthSpot

2. Be Authentic With Your Content

Successful agencies are those that build fantastic client relationships, and those can only be built when your team is authentically themselves with each interaction. When creating marketing material, give consideration to whether the tone sounds phony. If it does, that’s a good sign that it’s not representative of you. – Catherine Seeds, Ketner Group Communications

3. Self-Promote

Never skip an opportunity to self-promote. If you are presented with an opportunity to be part of a reputable blog, podcast, interview, article or news story, take it. The value of your brand is reliant on the perception of it. Positive perception is built through repeated strong performance, referral and, ultimately, visibility. Do good work and take every chance to get your name out there. – Lucas Miller, Moment Creative

4. Empower Your Employees

One of the most underutilized resources at many agencies is its employed media — the people. Give your agency the tools and encourage them to share what they love about the agency, the city/cities you operate in, their work, etc. Empower them to use social media, blogs, podcasts and industry events to organically spread the word about who you are and what you stand for. – Blair Brady, WITH/agency

5. Be Consistent

One of the problems we had early on is we weren’t consistent. It is consistency and persistence that pays off long term when promoting your agency. Make it a priority to be one of your own clients, but you have to keep sharing the message. That is where the magic happens over the long-term. – Justin Christianson, Conversion Fanatics

6. Remember You’re A Brand, Too

We sometimes are so focused on client work that we forget to take care of our own branding, but agencies are brands, too. They should have the same branding and communications standards that their clients do. Staff should understand the agency’s core value proposition, its mission, reason for being and differentiation. The same rules for consistently communicating those elements apply, as well. – Fiona Bruder, George P. Johnson (GPJ) Experience Marketing

7. Focus On In-Person Networking

When your agency becomes successful, you start relying on organic lead generation and forget to promote your agency. This comes up often at cocktail parties and social engagements when people simply ask, “What do you do?” One tip is to always have an exciting and non-salesy answer to that question. So many people are looking for quality marketing nowadays. – T. Maxwell, eMaximize

8. Show Who You Are

It’s great to showcase your work, but companies also like to get a feeling of the company’s culture as well. Use your social pages to not only promote work being done but also the team behind all of that effort. Put faces to your agency so that others can see the human side of the company and who they may be working with if they sign with you. – Rebecca Kowalewicz, Clearbridge Branding Agency

9. Promote Your Clients

The best way to promote your own company is to promote your clients. If you’re in PR or strategic communications, for example, don’t talk about how awesome you are. Talk about a major client win that your services helped achieve. Not only does it follow the axiom of “share credit, shoulder blame” that good people appreciate in all walks of life, it also demonstrates real results, not platitudes. – Brian Reisinger, Platform Communications

10. Leverage Testimonials

Use client case studies, testimonials and successes as a means of marketing yourself. As a professional services agency, the best way to build a marketing strategy is by tethering it to your clients’ achievements in smart ways. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications

11. Test Ideas On Yourself First

Your internal marketing needs a team just like any other client. Agencies need to remember that they are setting their own example, and they will be their longest-running, most important client. They must be willing to test the latest and greatest strategies on themselves first and foremost. Treat your company just as you would any other paying client — with care. – Bernard May, National Positions

12. Showcase Your Culture

Besides an agency’s accolades or awards, showcasing the company culture and the strength of its employees helps give the agency a living identity. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

13. Practice What You Preach

You can make the most amazing, dynamic content for your clients, you can be the best of the best, but if you don’t practice what you preach, it can hurt you. Audiences reflect on your content as recommendations. If you produce and display strategies and tactics for your clients that you aren’t in some way using for yourself, why would they trust it? To truly resonate, you need to lead by example. – Kirk Westwood, Glass River Media

14. Share Case Studies

You get great results for your clients, so be sure to capture those stories — especially when supported by outcomes such as increased share of voice, shorter sales cycles and increased customers — as case studies. You can add these client success stories to you agency proposals and presentations, capture them on video during in-person meetings, post on your website and promote on social media. – Jodi Amendola, Amendola Communications