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IS INFLUENCER MARKETING ALL IT'S CRACKED UP TO BE?

In 2020, the influencer marketing industry is set to reach a whopping 10 billion dollars. A startling 99.3% of businesses who use influencer marketing use Instagram to build and launch their campaigns. But with the rise of major and micro-influencers proliferating on Instagram and elsewhere, is influencer marketing all it’s cracked up to be? For brand awareness, maybe. But when it comes to sales, we don’t think so.

Why has influencer marketing become so popular?

There isn’t a company or marketer alive who hasn’t struggled with creating awareness and driving sales. Often, marketers don’t have enough unique and original content to support all their channels and entertain and inform their audience members. It’s also challenging to foster trustworthiness and brand identity. And with so many brands using online and offline marketing and advertising, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for marketers to break through the noise and capture their ideal customer’s attention. Because of these marketing difficulties, influencer marketing quickly became the go-to solution for these problems. But the solutions influencer marketing brings to the table - trustworthiness and attention-grabbing - aren’t necessarily going to result in direct sales.

So, what’s the problem with influencer marketing?

When they first came on the scene, influencers may have been able to build the type of trust that brand’s want to foster with their target audience. But in today’s world where fake bots and large follower counts are often an illusion, influencers are more akin to reality stars than trusted authorities for most consumers. Having thousands, and hundreds of thousands, of followers might be what marketers want to see, but this doesn’t always translate into a sign of trustworthiness for consumers.

Studies and surveys on influencer marketing bear this out. Only 23% of surveyed consumers believe that content and recommendations from celebrities and micro-influencers are in fact, influential. Conversely, 60% of consumers are more apt to trust recommendations and content from their friends and family members. A social influencer, to most consumers, is just another marketer. They are inherently untrustworthy. Consumers are savvy and understand that content from influencers is simply the digital, modern equivalent of paid advertising.

The impact of social influencers is similar to the effects found with native advertising forms. It’s useful for steadily improving soft metrics like awareness and engagement. But when it comes to metrics like sales and conversions, influencer marketing falls short. Companies must understand that influencer marketing does have a place - to build awareness. But when it comes to direct sales? Not so much, and your efforts are more likely to pay off if you focus your marketing efforts elsewhere.

Who are your greatest influencers?

The effectiveness of influencer marketing will vary somewhat depending on your industry and your specific marketing goals. But the prevalence of bots and fake followers has seriously sullied the reputation and effectiveness of influencer marketing when it comes to sales. Your best bet? Get your real customers to recommend your products and services to their family and friends.

10 WAYS TO KILL A BRAND

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Companies will spend a lot of time and money on creating an effective branding strategy. But mistakes can, and often do happen during this crucial phase. Here’s our guide on the worst things you can do to kill your brand and how to avoid them. Now these might seem like nothing new, but it doesn't hurt to have a refresher.

1. Using Poor Quality Visuals
Or worse - no visuals at all. Pictures are more memorable than words, and humans tend to think in pictures. Attention spans are getting smaller and smaller, so make sure to invest in something that connects with the visual thinker.

2. Inconsistent Branding
Your company needs to use the same name, logo, and tagline across multiple mediums and channels, both inside and outside the business. The name on your sign for your brick-and-mortar location? It has to be same as what’s on your business cards and website. Keep it consistent, invest in brand guidelines.

3. No Employee Training
Your employees are walking, talking advertisements for your company. Train them well on how to be effective ambassadors for your company. Implement a Brand 101 course with monthly courses to ensure your message is being properly conveyed.

4. Not Tracking Marketing Efforts
Each time a new customer contacts your company, it’s a good idea to have your employees ask them how they found out about your brand. Keep a master list of these answers to inform where you should focus your future marketing efforts.

5. Not Leveraging Word-of-Mouth Advertising
Your previous clients and customers are your greatest marketing assets. Use their testimonials and quote them in your ads and brochures. A real, authentic voice might be just the validation someone needs to click the buy button.

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6. Using Old Marketing Materials
Many small businesses will make this mistake. They invest heavily in a brochure or sales letter, order thousands of copies, and then use the material for many years until it’s all gone. The marketing quickly goes stale. Instead, order smaller increments of marketing materials, and refresh them frequently with new content and mediums.

7. Confusing Consumers with Too Many Choices
We get it; you’re a jack of all trades. But that doesn’t mean you need to advertise as such. Instead, focus on a core offering and build your branding strategy around it. You don’t want to make the mistake of confusing the public and overwhelming them with too many choices. Analysis paralysis is real.

8. Unbelievable Taglines
Trust is critical for fostering a relationship with your customers. Don’t use an unrealistic tagline like “We Do it All.” Do you really do it all? Play it safe here and use a believable tagline your customers can trust, and that’s memorable.

9. Jumping on Trends
Here’s the thing about trends - they come and go. But you want your brand to stick around for the long haul. Avoid trends and cliches when building your brand.

10. Not Welcoming New Customers
Brands need to think logically and convey a warm, welcoming tone. You may have a local market you’re targeting, but we live in a global economy. Brands should try to welcome customers from diverse backgrounds by being culturally sensitive, inclusive, investing in translation software, and using language the average person can understand and appreciate.

Know where successful branding starts. Be aware of these top ten branding mistakes and avoid them when launching your new company, product, or service.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER

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WHY UNDER PROMISING AND OVER DELIVERING NEVER GETS OLD

First impressions matter. The way you conduct yourself at the beginning of a relationship sets the tone for the rest of it. What may seem like a small action during the initial, starting phases of a new business relationship can have a massive impact on the final result of the project. The first ninety days are critical to secure your success in any job. 

The Key to Success on Any New Project

Have you ever heard the phrase, "underpromise, and overdeliver?" It's a common saying used throughout a variety of different businesses and industries. It's an excellent strategy to employ within the first ninety days when you take on a new project or client as a service provider.

It's tempting to overpromise on a project. Closing a sale or deal is a tough business, and it's easy for someone to make promises they can't necessarily keep. Telling a new client that you can do everything they want and then some takes little effort - just speaking. But letting your new client know that you can't do something they want takes honesty, and it's a brave move.

In an environment where many salespersons overpromise and are "yes-men/women," honesty is refreshing, valuable currency. Working as an agency or service provider is still a relationship business, and people are more likely to trust service providers who are honest with them at the start of the relationship. Plus, overpromising forces you into a situation that can end up either letting your client down or forcing you to expend precious resources and energy to do more than what's possible with the project.

When you underpromise, you're honest. You're setting the client up for realistic expectations, while also protecting your bottom line and your team members from frustration and possible burnout. Under Promising also makes it easier for you and your team to overdeliver, which clients will love.

However, clients are really the key to making this strategy work so that it can benefit everyone involved. Clients can have unrealistic expectations about what service providers and agencies can do. It's essential that they don't allow "yes-men/women" to bamboozle them with unrealistic promises that are impossible to keep and achieve. The agency partner who outlines the project's results in practical terms, and who is honest about their skills, what those skills can achieve, and when they can meet deadlines is someone worth doing business with. Realistic promises also enable the agency to come in under budget, before a critical deadline, or able to achieve slightly better results for clients than initially thought possible.

For the agency, it's critical that at the beginning of any new relationship, they underpromise and overdeliver to set the tone for one built on trust and honesty. We promise you this.

TOP 3 REASONS WHY CONSUMERS STILL SHOP RETAIL

Is Retail Still the Place to Be?

85% of purchases are still made at the retail level, in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. But why does this happen when most can agree that shopping online makes life so much easier? Is it because people are still yearning for human interaction? We’ll explore the top three reasons why consumers still choose to go to a brick-and-mortar retail store in 2019, and what this can mean for online businesses.

1. Humans are Tactile

Human beings are naturally tactile creatures, in that they like to be able to touch a product. Some people learn through touch, or bond through touch more so than others. But on the whole, the average consumer enjoys the ability to be able to pick up a product and get a hands-on feel for the texture, weight, and the dimensions of the item.

Women more so than men prefer the tactile shopping experience, while both young and old consumers equally enjoy the physical shopping experience they can get in traditional stores. While online shopping can make the purchasing process quicker, easier, and faster, it will never be able to replace the tactile needs and desires that people have.

2. The Need for Speed

In-store shoppers enjoy the ability to immediately purchase and take their items home with traditional shopping methods. Even super fast, two-day online shipping can’t fulfill this desire that consumers have. Younger consumers and men prefer the ability to take an item home with them from the store immediately. When you order online, you might be waiting for several weeks before you get your item. This desire is probably something that online shopping will never be able to meet.

3. Returns are Easier

In surveys on brick-and-mortar retail versus online shopping, the ability to easily return an item rounds out the top three reasons why consumers like the retail experience. Returns for in-store items are usually more straightforward and faster than a return for an online store. However, some online retailers do not offer a straightforward, quick, or easy way for shoppers to return an item. This is something that could be fixed and optimized for online companies.

Surveys conducted on online shopping versus retail shopping have found that human interaction is at the bottom of the list when it comes to why people may prefer the traditional retail experience. For the most part, consumers want speed and convenience. While on the surface it can seem like online shopping should have this in the bag compared to retail shopping, that’s not always the case.

Online retailers can’t magically make an item appear in a person’s lap as soon as they click the “buy” button on their laptop or mobile device. Likewise, online retailers can’t give consumers a tactile experience of the product. But they can improve the returns process to better compete with brick-and-mortar retailers. While physical stores are still the primary way that people shop, a full 7% of surveyed consumers said that they only shop online. And, that number is expected to continue to grow.

Do you primarily shop online or do you prefer the traditional retail experience? Why or why not? Please leave us a comment and let us know what you think.