Monday, 17 January 2011

Marketing and PR Trends for 2011 - Communication Strategies for Uncertain Times

The Marketing Think Tank call hosted by BrightBlue Marketing and Big Noise Communications was facilitated this month by Andrea Lamarsaude of BrightBlue, focused on the topic of: Marketing and PR Tools & Tactics you can use to your advantage when exploring new markets.

The following are the topics we discussed:

How has the recession affected you and your client’s marketing/PR efforts over the past two years?

A lot of people are looking at marketing & PR as a luxury and tend to put it at the bottom of their budget list so, larger projects have become much smaller or clients are putting off marketing efforts. Others are turning to doing just Social Media in order to find cheaper ways to market or they just aren’t doing any marketing which is causing them more issues.

There has been a bit of a downward trend in marketing however, in the last 6 months the activity has started picking up. Over the last 2-3 years companies want to check in on their ROI more than before and they are more aware of really staying on top of their PR investment.

Companies are much more interested in measuring and analytics and moving away from branding and awareness campaigns that cannot be measured as clearly.

Association & non-profits are more mindful about the programming they are presenting and making sure that are compelling enough to draw good attendance during tight economic times. They are also leaning more toward Social Media for marketing than before.

A lot more interest and willingness to look at ways to tie marketing more directly into their sales efforts and working together instead of doing separate efforts. More measureable leads to the sales force.

What adjustments have you been forced to make?
Part of it is the need to become an expert in a lot of new areas that we haven’t been before like the various Social Media outlets and ensuring that all email type campaigns have a measuring tool or analytics tool attached to it so we can show clients immediate results.
Clients are noticing that with the rise of social media outlets like YouTube and FaceBook that all campaigns have to incorporate these types of outlets to be successful. Not just a novelty, but a key element to keep up to speed with everyone.

What changes have you made to safeguard against future economic shocks?
It is all about making sure your pipeline is filled and finding ways to continue to keep contact with all of your contacts. You have to really work the leads in these times to make a sale.
Making sure that you have the social element to your communications plan just like ensuring you have a good website, etc. Then integrate it with your website and other elements.

Create a crisis plan to safeguard your branding and your integrity; both for economic issues as well as for things that happen on the internet like YouTube, etc. Be ready with an answer to something that creates bad press and be watching to catch things as soon as they happen so you can head it off at the pass.

What trends are you seeing unfold in marketing and PR at the start of 2011?

Integrate the new trends with the traditional means. Direct mail pieces to include your FaceBook link, LinkedIn, Blog, Twitter to integrate them. You really have to be on top of all of them and know which of them are the biggest of these that your clients are using. Don’t lean too heavily on any single tool.
Everything has to be integrated and you have to be sure there is relevance to your messaging once you integrate. It has to be something that is worthwhile that makes them pay attention to your message and stay top of mind with your target audience.

Video put on the internet has become very relevant and should also be integrated into your communications plan.

Very important: Check to see what your website looks like on an iPhone or an iPad? Make sure it still translates well. Things come across very differently when they are looked at on smartphones and other different devices. If it doesn’t look right, make sure you adjust it to work on these mediums.

Social media
Must see social media as a part of traditional media and not such a novelty or add- on.

2009 – 2010 people were learning that press releases needed to be more social and need to be released on social media outlets, etc. and not just press release sites.
Using Twitter will become more and more important. More members of the press are being forced to cover more things and can’t be on the phones, etc. as much and they are using Twitter to find newsworthy events faster and more efficiently.
Add videos, bios, etc. to Press Releases

Traditional marketing (print, direct mail, etc.)
Not everyone has embraced Social Media so; don’t give up on direct mail and the personal touch.
You need to touch your contacts and leads with all types of communication along with traditional marketing and social media. Compact the message on all fronts. A newsletter needs to be compact with links to get to the full story and compelling headlines.
Your message has to be consistent, but also unique. Social Media and Direct mail have different needs for the type of message. Consider your different audiences.
Must have very clear call to action in that compact message.

Event marketing
Companies moved away from events during the economic downturn, but are starting to come back to events and they are realizing that you need that face to face interaction to develop and build relationships.

The economy created a trust issue with companies out there and events build relationships which in turn builds trust. People do business with those they know and those they trust.
You have to stay ahead of the game. The younger generations have such a short attention span and are always looking to the next “big thing”. You need to make yourself the next “big thing”.

Lead nurturing: How do you stay in front of your contacts and nurture your leads?
Leads should be touched at least 1x per month through email, direct mail, newsletter, or having an ongoing list of contacts that you call each day.

Everyone is overwhelmed and we need to know how to realistically create a lead nurturing plan. BrightBlue Marketing’s Virtual Marketing Outreach can help by answering that issue and helping you to touch leads with little time or thought.

You must create valid reasons for you to stay in front of your leads/contacts: send them news items/trends/studies/something about one of their competitors, etc. Just keep them informed and to have a productive reason to stay in front of them.

Many companies don’t understand this important area of their website and, as a result, many times they don’t integrate the words, phrases and other elements that they need to create SEO on their websites. However, SEO done right and well can make a huge difference on your bottom line. It takes thought and effort, but is excellent means of free traffic beyond Social Media.
Your Website should have calls to action and they should have constant activity with blogs, sign up clicks, etc. You do not have to pay for advertising and pay-per-clicks to get on top of the search engines. It can be done for free by keeping your website fresh and always updating.
Blogs take time but they keep activity on your website but they also bring a personal touch to Social Media and increase SEO on your website. This makes blogs well worth the time investment.

Email in boxes are so full that you have to become creative in your subject lines and make them teasers so that the recipient will take the time to open your email. Once they open your email, your message must be relevant for them to continue to open your future emails.

Put information people need on only one avenue (FaceBook, Blog, etc.) and then use all the others to drive people to that one place.

Use video email.

In closing:
It doesn’t have to be perfect – just get out there and start doing it.

For further reading:

1. 2011 Marketing Resolutions to Consider
2. Do you agree with Ingrid Helsingen Warner at LEIDAR Communications that, “2011 communication strategies need to be more like jazz.”
3. Customer Experience Strategies for 2011
4. 2011 – The Year to Evolve or Become Extinct?–-the-year-to-evolve-or-become-extinct/
5. The year in email marketing

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