Let’s say you just invented something that puts sliced bread to shame. Something that will improve lives by the million.

You have a website and a logo. You even have a few ideas for commercials.

There’s just one problem: Nobody knows you exist… and your industry is stacked with competitors.

32.5 million businesses in the US.

In short, you need a media buying strategy — pronto.

Let’s dig into the whats, whys and benefits, shall we?

Spending Your Media Budget Smartly.

A couple hundred years ago, there was really just one medium: The newspaper. So, anyone could buy space in the local rag for a few pennies.

Not much strategy involved there, right?

But then came magazines. Then billboards. And radio followed by TV and trade magazines. Then the internet and wearable internet. Each of those mediums has hundreds — or hundreds of millions — of advertising placement options.

A graphic of a TV set, outlined in green.

# TV stations:
1,775+

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# Radio stations:
15,000+

A graphic of a newspaper, outlined in green.

# Newspapers:
6,000+

A graphic of the world wide web icon set inside a computer screen, outlined in green.

# of US websites:
133 million+

A graphic of a magazine, outlined in green.

# of magazines:
7,400+

And since the general rule of thumb is that you should spend around 7% of your budget on marketing, you need to be mindful of how — and where — you deploy your resources.

That’s a major reason to have a media buying strategy. But not the only one.

Media Buying Strategy Benefit #1: Achieving Communication Goals

What’s one thing that every company has, but is different for every company?

Goals.

Your company might be a shiny new startup that’s scrounging pennies to get your brand out to the masses (or niche).

Your business could be a century old, searching for more leads (not sales) with millions of dollars to spend.

Yes, everyone has a different goal by which they measure success — but success rarely happens without a solid strategy in place.

Media strategy agencies like Stealth Creative move businesses forward by zooming in on your priorities first, then zoom out to generate a plan for desired results. This is an important distinction.

Why?

Because some media is more conducive to certain goals than others.

Digital is Best Suited For:

Specific targeting Generating real-time data Fine-tuning performance

TV Works For:

Creating effective consumer connections Broad reach Telling stories

Radio is Perfect For:

Efficiency Large audiences Driving online brand searches

Out of Home Enhances:

Broad-reach appeal (billboards on highways)
Niche messaging (individual screens at gyms)

Use Social Media For:

Highly-visual elements
Product demonstrations
Engaging with customers

Print is Ideal For:

Making lasting impressions through physical interaction (holding, turning pages) A more “hands-on” interaction

Your media team will help figure out the right mix based on your goals.

Benefit 2: Data-Driven Delivery

Media planners and strategists are nerds — and they aren’t ashamed to embrace it. Excel is to them what water is to fish. They view data in all its forms as the missing element that makes any strategy really sing.

In fact, media teams make every decision by running the numbers ragged. And a
mathematically-based plan of attack is one of the main reasons why you need a media strategy:

Since media planners put data and analytics under a microscope, they shine at:

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Segmenting your audience

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Optimizing campaign or spend for constantly improving results

A graphic of a gear in the middle of two arrows in circular form to show the importance of a media buying strategy.

Determining return on ad spend (ROAS) effectiveness

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Plotting share of voice, brand recall and other key metrics

Stealth Creative’s media team understands the strengths and weaknesses of each medium and knows which best aligns with the results clients want within their budget.

And our media buyers also understand the nuances between different platforms. For example, different OTT vendors can serve “similar” ad experiences, but they vary on who can be targeted, when and how impressions are delivered and other variables that must be weighed.

Everything is factored to create a plan that has the highest likelihood to achieve — or exceed — the stated goals.

Benefit #3: Right Place, Right Time, Right Message

Pretend for a moment that you sell mattresses and your media team has a strategy to run two different spots: One late at night and one early in the morning.

Why would they do that?

Because the messaging can be different. If a commercial is running at 1 am and an insomniac sees your ad (commercial or banner), the takeaway should be about how your mattress is an instant lights out miracle.

But if someone doesn’t get a deep sleep, the messaging they see or hear on their way to work could be about how they’d feel wide awake if they gave your product a try.

Working with a media planning team not only helps ensure your ideal audience receives your message, they help guide the strategy to help make sure the message makes sense in the context it appears. This 360° thinking is more likely to happen with a full-service marketing agency like Stealth Creative.

Benefit 4: More Bang For Your Bucks

In business, just about everything is negotiable — and that includes media pricing.

As we noted in our marketing myths blog, media buyers can leverage their expertise and connections to negotiate buys at lower rates. Why? Because certain mediums can be like the Costco of marketing; when you buy in bulk, you get better rates. And when you plan media for multiple companies, you are more likely buying multiple time slots, issues, etc.

But there are other ways media buyers can sweeten the deal for you:

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Bonus spots

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Better placements

Mockup of banner ad outlines that would appear on a website.

Digital elements like banner ads or site takeovers

These are just some examples of what can be negotiated or included in a well-rounded media buy. And your strategist won’t be afraid to play a little hardball to get the best possible deal to achieve your goals.

Benefit 5: Monitoring Your Marketing

Just like any stock market investor will check their 401(K) balance from time to time, it’s natural for companies to want to know how their media investments are doing. Good media planners hold scheduled meetings with clients to discuss performance, tweaks, reconciliations and recommendations pertaining to the strategy.

During these calls, certain data will also likely be discussed:

  • Ratings
  • Impressions
  • Bonus deliveries
  • Impact on leads/sales

In certain circumstances — especially digital — you might be able to log in to your own dashboard to see the number of views, clicks and other metrics for a more-or-less real time idea of your campaign’s performance.

Here’s the bottom line: You should expect and trust your media team to make the entirety of your relationship turnkey so you can focus on other things. And they should always be available to communicate the status of your strategy.

Benefit 6: Fresh Ideas, New Opportunities

Media evolves. New competitors and technology come to market. Most importantly, though, opportunities arise.

Just because an annual plan is made at the onset, that doesn’t mean your media team will be sitting on their hands.

Not at all.

Instead, they will (or should) be paying close attention to the national and local landscape in search of the latest and greatest developments, eager to bring these to your attention. Similarly, they should be eyeing consumer sentiment shifts and other measures to proactively modify your strategy and set you up for however you define success.

For example, although the NFL broadcast schedule was set during the summer, ABC and Disney made a deal in mid-September to air an additional eight Monday Night Football games on ABC. Your media team is paid to be on top of these breaking opportunities.

Media Buying Strategies Have Even More Benefits

Indeed, there are literal books on this topic. And while we could make this page infinitely long, you’ve got things to do… like maybe finetuning the strategy for your media buy.

Why not get in touch with the Stealth Creative media specialists? You’ll save time, money and give your business the best shot at achieving its marketing goals.

Brian Reinhardt

Brian Reinhardt

Brian Reinhardt is a Senior Copywriter at Stealth Creative whose first unpublished story was penned at the age of eight. Yes, it involved hoverboards, lasers and robots. His days are filled with researching, content creation and SEO strategy. His nights are spent with family, reading and managing too many fantasy sports teams. Nine is his favorite number.

There are all sorts of crazy marketing myths swirling around that might make you question advertising’s effectiveness.

And we have to admit: You can’t believe everything you see on TV or hear on the radio (or read online for that matter).

Pretty ironic coming from a full-service advertising agency, right?

But that shouldn’t keep you from advertising on TV, radio, or anywhere else. So, let’s shine a light on those lies that are hurting your company’s bottom line.

Myth 1

Video Production Is Just Too Darn Expensive

There was a time where we would’ve agreed. Today… well, not so much — and no, it’s not because of AI!

It really comes down to working with a full-service advertising agency (like Stealth Creative).

Here’s why.

We edit, film, and produce commercials in-house whenever possible because this cuts out the middleperson 95% of the time — and that can cut costs in a big way without sacrificing quality at all.

Plus, it turns out your business really can’t afford not to have some sort of video presence for lots of reasons.

83% prefer to get information from watching a video instead of reading
Shoppers are nearly 2X more likely to purchase after watching an online demo
Videos on social media generate 1200% more shares than text and images combined.

“Some of our most memorable spots were also some of our most creative not only in terms on concepting, but working within our clients’ budget.”
-Jeff Schaeffer, Senior Video Producer

Myth 2

Media Buys Cost An Arm and Two Legs

Not so fast.

The truth is, some media buys cost more than others.

For example, in traditional media like television, there exists a finite number of commercial breaks. A limited number of spots to fit a specific amount of time. So yes: it tends to be a bit pricier. There’s no escaping that harsh reality — it’s the (not so) free market in action.

Conversely, digital media buys can cost just pennies per thousands of views! And radio buys can actually be more affordable than you think.

However, budget-sensitive marketing heads realize they need a media strategy if they want a real shot at success. So, what do they do to make the cost more bearable? They try doing it themselves.

That's a bold move, Cotton

We appreciate that “can do” attitude… we just want to caution you.

Media agencies can save clients up to 35%

35% in savings is an absolutely huge number! It could mean literally thousands of dollars — or more! That’s the same as being able to broadcast your commercial or message more often.

By working with Stealth Creative’s media buying team, you can:

Target

Identify your real target audience

pinpoint

Pinpoint where they’re most likely to watch, listen or read

Benefit

Benefit from the hard-nosed negotiating skills of your buyers

Produce

Experience a more collaborative approach between media placement and the spots produced

“The effectiveness of the message can be more important than the out-of-pocket cost alone. Ineffective impressions reaching your audience (even if they cost next to nothing) are not valuable. Agencies have the strategic experience and tools to develop these solutions to recommend the optimal Media Mix and tactical solutions to deliver against your goals.”

-Lisa Smith, Media Director

Myth 3

Proofreading is Overrated

What do an erroneous letter and missing zeros have in common?

They’ve all led to losses in the millions of dollars.

That’s right. Millions.

Take for instance a Yellow Pages ad (remember those?) from 1988. Banner Travel Agency wanted to promote their exotic travel packages. Someone at Pacific Bell swapped the “x” for an “r” and changed the message completely.

Proofing Cost: $10 million

Then there’s the fiasco involving Alitalia Airlines in 2006. They wanted to promote flights to Cyprus for $3,900. What they actually promoted was flights for $39. Who could pass that deal up? Answer: no one, which led to a nosedive in profitability.

Proofing Cost: $7 million

So, yes. Details matter quite a bit. And when you hire an agency, every piece of work gets read by multiple people before you lay eyes on it — proof that proofreading is worth it.

“Few things can sour your audience’s perception faster than an obvious typo. It makes them question your company’s professionalism.”

-Jeff Ryals, Creative Director

Myth 4

Your Business Should Be On Every Social Media Platform Ever

We won’t dispute the effectiveness of social media. That’s why Stealth Creative has a team of social media specialists!

Sure, your business could create a {insert newest social media platform here} profile. But do you really need to?

Let’s think about it, shall we?

Time

Time:

The more platforms you’re on, the more:

• Content you need to create
• Posts you need to schedule
• Comments you’ll need to monitor

Commitment

Commitment:

Creating a profile implies you’re going to be active and engaged. If you’re not up to the challenge, your image will potentially look unprofessional.

Relevancy

Relevancy:

A lawn service company should focus their efforts on Nextdoor instead of LinkedIn.

“Now more than ever, it’s important to be where your audience is. Social media is a very saturated place, so you want to make sure you stand out against the competition with content that your target market will resonate with. The more focused you are on the profiles you’re utilizing, the higher the likely quality of the content. Don’t spread yourself too thin – especially if your effort is being used on a platform your audience doesn’t frequent!”

-Kirsten Hackett, Social Media Director

Myth 5

My Company is Too Small to Hire an Agency

This is the myth we want to banish more than any other.

Why? Because in business, as in life, it’s not where you start but where you finish.

Let’s face it: Most companies aren’t an overnight success. They spend months, maybe years, building an audience and carving out a niche, slow but steady.

Then, whether through a website redesign that emphasizes user experience, a breakthrough idea for a commercial or one savvy media strategy, they captured the market’s attention — and odds are an advertising agency helped somehow.

“Smart, strategic marketing can be the great equalizer — and it’s not reserved for household brands. If you’re hungry for growth, it can only help to get input from people whose career is helping businesses become more successful.”
-Dan O’Saben, Owner

It’s a Fact: We’re Ready to Market YOUR Company

And Stealth’s advertising case studies prove that we can make a difference for clients.

Brian Reinhardt

Brian Reinhardt

Brian Reinhardt is a Senior Copywriter at Stealth Creative whose first unpublished story was penned at the age of eight. Yes, it involved hoverboards, lasers and robots. His days are filled with researching, content creation and SEO strategy. His nights are spent with family, reading and managing too many fantasy sports teams. Nine is his favorite number.

In case you missed the news—you’ve got to adapt or die in this Digital Age. And for brand managers and business owners alike, building a strong online presence is crucial for success.

As we often say at Stealth Creative: Your website IS your brand; it acts as a virtual gateway for customers to discover and engage with your products or services.

So, as long as your website leaves a good first impression, you’re all set. Right?

Turns out, it’s not that simple. Because not all websites are created equal. To ensure your online platform effectively represents your business and reaches your target audience, it’s vital to invest in a website that’s built to best-practice specifications.

Let’s explore the key steps involved in creating a website that not only looks great but serves you exactly how it should.

Step 1: Wireframes and Site Map

The first step for developing your website is building a solid foundation. Wireframes and a site map serve as the blueprint for your website, outlining its structure, navigation and key functionalities. At Stealth, we understand how crucial it is to work closely with clients at this stage to ensure we have clear understanding of YOUR business goals, target audience and desired user experience.

Step 2: Design Phase

Once the wireframes and site map are approved, the design phase begins. Aesthetics play a key role in engaging your website visitors. This is where you get to meet our design team! They love to collaborate with clients, helping to spin their visions into a appealing and cohesive experiences. Logos, color schemes, brand guidelines and any specific design elements that reflect your brand’s personality are developed (or incorporated if already existing). This collaborative process will help create a website design that not only looks stunning but also reinforces your brand’s message and values.

Step 3: Development and Launch Phase

After finalizing the design, the development phase takes center stage. Stealth’s skilled developers will transform the approved design into a functional website, employing best practices for coding, responsiveness and usability. And since more than half of overall web traffic comes from mobile devices, we take a mobile-first approach to design and development. This phase may involve content creation, integration of e-commerce functionalities and customization based on your needs.

Throughout this process, we prioritize regular communication with you, so you can provide timely feedback and we can agilely address you concerns or modifications. Once the website is thoroughly tested and refined, it’s time for the highly anticipated launch.

Step 4: Initial Search Marketing Promotion of New Site

Your newly built website is ready to be unveiled to the world, but its success relies on driving traffic and attracting visitors. Incorporating search marketing strategies is the key to improving your website’s visibility in search engine results.

This is where Stealth’s digital marketing experts work to ensure SEO elements, such as keyword optimization, meta tags and proper site structure, are in place. Depending on your business’s needs, our content team can also help to create engaging and shareable content to attract organic traffic and explore paid advertising options to amplify your website’s reach.

You Get Back What You Put In.

Investing in a well-built website is an investment in your business’s success!  

By partnering with an experienced agency like Stealth Creative, you can be confident that best-practice specifications are followed, and you can ensure your website is optimized for performance, user experience and search engine visibility.

Check out our Web Services page to get a sense of what we can do. Then, drop us a line when you’re ready to start your website build. We can’t wait to be your guide!  

Jack Eschmann

Jack Eschmann is a Senior Copywriter who has worked on both the account service and creative sides of the advertising business. He enjoys crafting messages that are strategically sound, action driving and true-to-brand for each client he serves. He is also a leading member of Stealth’s content team, is an avid musician and production nerd—and can often be found laying down voiceovers in the agency’s production studio.

Check out these valuable insights from our intern, Samantha!

There’s a lot one can learn during an internship at Stealth Creative. We like to think the experience is immersive, and truly valuable when it comes to helping the next generation of marketers begin their career. But we realize that there’s a lot we too can learn from enthusiastic grads and newbies to the industry. We want to hear fresh perspectives—and keep a check on ourselves as the world continues to move at a blistering pace around us.

So, we sat down with Samantha Spaulding, (the latest honorary Stealther who’s making big waves in our Joplin office) to hear what she has to say about her experience as a Stealth intern so far.

1. Jumping from school to the agency world, how’s it been so far? What projects have you been working on? What have you enjoyed?

I’ve learned a lot from my work within the agency. The classroom taught me some of the technical knowledge and terms, but it really is a different experience living through it and seeing it all in action in the real world. I help with financial advisor (The Princeton Group), internet provider (Sparklight), and livestock product (US Whip) clients. I’ve enjoyed creating and presenting creative briefs internally to kick off projects for our creative team, and helping with research, building presentation decks and social media tracking.

2. What sparked your interest in advertising?

I’ve known my entire life that I was meant to be in business, but it wasn’t until I was 15 that I fell in love with advertising. I was selected in high school to attend a leadership program where we had three days to create a business. Everyone had to select a role (management, HR, finances, marketing, etc.) I chose marketing because of my history with creating art and interest in designing our company’s logo. This experience taught me many components of marketing–logo designs, social media, advertising, budgets… I loved the mixture, and immediately felt like it was meant for me!

3. Where should we be focusing our efforts as a modern ad agency? Social media? AI?

A combination of both—whatever trends are occurring! AI is a more unexplored field, so I think we should begin to pour our focus into learning the technology and seeing how we can use it in advertising. There may be some risks when it comes to AI, but I still think we can use it to our advantage. With the incredibly fast access to a great amount of knowledge, we can carefully and responsibly use them for research and training.

4. What’s the best kind of ad?

I like seeing small business advertisements. Since they’re typically on a smaller budget, they often must be extra creative to get attention in their niche. Seeing more small online businesses experiment with aesthetics, following TikTok trends or monitoring overall market trends is inspiring—and fun to see when it works!

5. Tell us about your life outside of work.

I like to constantly stay busy! Design was part of my education, and it’s also my side gig. I do glass paintings and digital art and produce prints and stickers for various shows and voice actors. A vacation to me is going to a weekend anime convention and networking with voice actors from big shows with artwork of the characters they voice. I sometimes sell my work online, in stores, and at conventions. I also love fashion, reading, and pretending to be a gym rat.

There are two phrases we hear around this time: “April showers bring May flowers” and “Spring Cleaning.”

No surprise, because according to Statista, 78% of us do some kind of spring cleaning every year. But that doesn’t just have to mean purging your closet or scrubbing baseboards. Today, we’re giving you some tips on how you can spring clean your marketing strategy.

#1 Declutter Your Assets

While there are assets that you should keep handy – logo files, for example – there are plenty that could likely move to an archive. For instance, creative or copy files that have already been produced can be moved to a server or hard drive. This way, you can still access them, but they won’t be taking up precious desktop space. Decluttering gives you a chance to take inventory of what you have in your library – while also allowing for inspiration when it’s time to freshen up those assets!

#2. Ensure You’re on Target

If it’s been a while since you’ve examined your target audience and messaging, now is the perfect time to look “under the hood” of your marketing strategy!


Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is my ideal audience? Why?
  • Where can they be found?
  • How has my audience grown, changed or shifted in behavior?
  • Most importantly, where can they be found?

Because if you aren’t where your target audience is, you need to think about how to get there.

#3 Inventory Your Strengths

While you might keep some marketing in-house, consider if letting a trusted partner help expand your team’s capacity makes sense. Picture this: You no longer expend energy improving your social strategy or media placement. Instead, you get to do what you do best: run your business!

While we can’t help you organize your life, we can help you organize your marketing strategy. If you’re looking for a partner who wants you to succeed as much as you do, we’re here to help.

Can you believe that it’s March? Neither can we. But it’s never too late to finetune your social media strategy for 2023!

Social media means more to the brand-consumer relationship than ever before – and there’s always opportunity to strengthen those customer connections.

Social media users are switching between seven social networking platforms, and they’re spending 95 minutes per day on average searching their socials.

Bar graph showing social media time spend by age group, women ahead in all age ranges.

Can you imagine the possibilities for reaching your ideal audience? We can.

Let’s get started with three ways you can sharpen up the rest of your 2023 on social media.

#1 Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

We get it. Change can be hard. Especially when that change means doing things like getting in front of a camera.

But keep this in mind: Your customers want to see you. And if getting in front of a camera makes you break into a sweat, remember you’ll be talking about what you know best: Your business. Unless you’re doing a live stream, you can hit “Record” as many times as you need before publishing.

#2. Know where your people are

Does your business need to be on every single social media platform? There might have been a time when the answer was yes, but that time has passed. Whether you have an established business or are in the middle of building one, you should have an idea of who your ideal consumer is. Once you know that, figure out where they spend their time and go there. Now.
Chart showing social media platform usage by age demographic

#3 Listen to Your Audience

You’ve heard of social media analytics, right? All you really need to know is how much they help you listen to your audience. Most platforms offer their own analytic tools and insights, but you can also use third-party resources depending on your needs. Obviously, you want to see your follower count grow quickly. But it doesn’t always happen that way, even if you go viral – but that’s a topic for another day. The best way to understand what resonates with your audience is to see what makes them engage. For example, examine a post that has a lot of comments. What kind of post is it? A conversation starter? Does it show personality? Take the attributes of successful posts and recreate them. You don’t want to duplicate the exact same post, but consider how you can adapt the voice, message and imagery into your next social gem.

Let’s Get Social

Whether you’re a social media whiz looking for some inspiration or are just now starting to dabble, Stealth Creative’s team can help. Remember, it’s never too late to get your social strategy on target.

Source: Sprout Social & Hootsuite

David Ogilvy concluded his book Ogilvy On Advertising with 13 predictions.

Many of them were flat out misses (billboards are just as prevalent as ever, direct response is still effective and politicians lean on negative advertising even today).

Because for as creative as he was, he wasn’t Nostradamus reincarnated.

But, seeing as how this is January, we want to give you our 2023 advertising predictions, delivered by Stealth Creative Owner and President, Dan O’Saben.

(And if you prefer reading, keep scrolling.)

Prediction #1: AI Dominates

What a time to be alive.

You can give ChatGPT a prompt to write a blog post. Use Midjourney to create images. And then use Grammarly to edit the post itself.

Impressive, yes. Ethical? While still unresolved, we’re starting to see this issue play out in legal arenas.

Effective? Kind of. After all, AI isn’t creating anything new per se. It just scrapes content and images from the web and rearranges it.

All of this can seem great for a company with a limited budget. But if you ask someone to compare work produced by a person to that made by machine, that someone will probably gravitate towards the authentic, non-AI work.

AI is still pretty nascent. It lacks that quintessential human touch. More importantly, AI hasn’t perfected groundbreaking concepts, even with the best of prompts—yet.

Prediction #2: Mending the Media Divide

Gone are the days when people tuned in at the same time to the same channel. Music playlists are generated by songs you’ve streamed and liked.

We live in a fractured environment, where we all consume media tailored to our tastes, with narrowcasting gaining hold on traditional broadcast. 

So while traditional media isn’t going anywhere soon, that’s why we think there will be a bigger investment in OTT/CTV advertising in 2023.

Here’s another reason: There are no elections, which works against the amount companies typically spend on traditional media. 

With an influx of budgets ready to be deployed in alternative formats, that means the need to identify and segment audiences with even greater precision becomes critical.

Prediction #3: In It For The Long Haul

There seems to be a misconception that the average person has the attention span of a gnat.

That’s not always true—at least when it comes to content we care about. Who among us hasn’t spent more hours than we’d like to admit watching or listening to a true crime docuseries?

We’ve learned that when it comes to consequential content (like videos on an assisted living facility where a loved one may reside), long form still reigns supreme.

As a result, we see brands leaning into short form reels for teasers or to raise awareness and long form, in-depth content to educate when an important decision needs to be made.

What Are Your Advertising Predictions for 2023?

That’s what we see happening next year. What do you think? Will our prediction be more accurate than Ogilvy’s? Do you have a different take?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop us a comment or reach out to us. We predict we can help you crush your marketing goals.

Have you ever collected a name, address, phone number or email address from your customers? If so, you’ve already gotten the party started. But it’s what you do with this information that counts.

Talking first-party data is now trendier than a Kardashian wearing vintage NASCAR apparel—and it’s becoming more important than ever for companies to recognize its value. This is largely because consumers are getting savvier when it comes to protecting their personal information.

First of all, what is first-party data?

First-party data is personal information that customers willingly provide, such as entering an email address to qualify for 10% off a first purchase. Or submitting their birthdate to get a discount or any other personally identifiable information. And anything you can offer in return to the customer will increase their willingness to share this valuable info. 

Mailing List Pop Up

You may have already been collecting this information for years. The question is: how you deploy this information to grow your business?

Not only must a good digital marketer be strategic with targeting, timing and messaging but they must be flexible and adaptable to whatever is going on in the world. And in the background, advertisers are continuing to grapple with the eventual demise of the third-party cookie. 

This initially had online advertisers in a panic, since so many depend “crumb trails” that users leave behind when going from website to website for their targeting efforts.

With Google pushing the date of full third-party cookie depreciation back again and again, this news is starting to feel stale. But marketers still need to adapt, both to technical regulations and the increasing savviness of today’s consumer.

Future-proof Your Digital Strategy by Prioritizing First Party Data!

“Be mindful of the shoes your customers are walking in, and how you can help them.”

-Stefanie Grossman, CMO, Prezi

Moving towards this identity-based approach ideally means that advertisers will have a clearer picture of their customers, and customers will have more trust and develop a stronger connection with brands they interact with.

Some benefits of focusing on personal identity in your digital strategy:

  • More reliable contact lists
  • More accurate customer profiles
  • Direct customer feedback
  • Customers appreciate transparency throughout their journey.

When you know exactly who you are talking to, there is great opportunity to maximize ad content with dynamic creative, exclusive offers and other touchpoints. 

Advertisers should feel inspired by this push to capture attention and give customers what they want, sooner. More intelligent marketing and stronger relationships between companies and consumers will be the result.

But how do I start building/using my database of first-party information? 

Our advice is to look for ways to connect with your existing customer base in any way you can and give them something in return for sharing their information with you. Not only will you have better a chance of converting one-timers into repeat customers, but you will be able to constantly hone your target audience profiles. For example, if a customer just bought a new living room couch from you maybe you target them with an offer of a floor lamp or coffee table. 

A strong digital partner can help you get the most out of your data.

Wield the Power of First-Party Data with Stealth Creative

Sure, there are still plenty of unknowns when it comes to effectively replacing the third-party cookie. Google, along with many other online marketing platforms, are doing what they can to get ahead of the change by developing tools that use data aggregation rather than individual tracking. (That is a topic for a different day.)

But no matter what is going on in the digital landscape at large, the key to success is ensuring your digital marketing team is paying attention and serving as a true partner—not just a vendor. That way, you can work together to focus on attracting and retaining customers, no matter what the ever-changing digital landscape has in store. 

So, if you are ready to:

  • Better personalize and integrate your consumer-facing content
  • Make your digital advertising more efficient AND more effective
  • Have a better relationship with your customers

Contact our expert digital team at Stealth Creative, receive the individualized attention and dedication to understanding your needs that you deserve—and start seeing how the identity-based approach can help you get the results you’re looking for. 

Drop us a line today. We cannot wait to help you achieve digital marketing success!

While there are plenty of tools necessary to build a strong brand presence, there’s one that everyone needs: A brand voice. You might not think about it, but every single brand has one. Even yours.

What is a Brand Voice?

You might be thinking: “I’ve got a solid business plan and a great product. Do people really care if I have a well-crafted brand voice?” In response to this question, we couldn’t answer loudly enough: “YES!”

Benefits of Owning Your Brand’s Voice

Personality:

Your audience wants to learn about you. Consumers want to know that they are engaging with real people, not robots. By cultivating a personable brand voice, you are more likely to create an emotional connection with your consumer’s subconscious mind. How does this help you? According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of decisions related to purchases occur subconsciously.*

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Consistency:

If your audience is hearing different voices in email messaging versus social media messaging, they’re going to notice the disconnect. This inconsistency can lead them to look in the wrong place for your product or service. 

Another benefit of maintaining consistency is conditioning. Let’s go on a field trip, shall we?

Picture it now: You’re back in high school in General Psychology. Today’s lesson is on Ivan Pavlov’s classical conditioning theory. When it comes to exposing your test subjects–err, audience–to stimuli, it is most effective when it is consistent and recurring. If you don’t have consistency in each consumer touch point, you’re essentially starting the process of conditioning over… and over… and over again.

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Retention:

Having a consistent brand voice doesn’t just benefit you externally. When your employees see that you’re not just talking the talk, but walking the walk, they’re more likely to believe in the company’s mission, thus improving loyalty. As we know, internal communication and trust are vital when it comes to building — and strengthening — a brand.

How to Create—AND Maintain—a Brand Voice

The best way to craft a strong brand voice is to go back to square one. What is your company’s mission? What do you hope to achieve—for yourself, your brand and your community?

Once you’ve answered these questions, consider who you want to reach. Who is your target audience? (A bonus to fine-tuning your target audience? Knowing where to find them to ensure that all the hard work that you’re putting into your brand voice is heard!) 

After learning who your target audience is, you can then begin to consider their personas. What does your customer want? What are their personality types? Their dreams? Their goals? Even go as far as knowing their favorite sports teams? (Kidding. Kind of.)

When you’ve identified the mission, the audience and the personas, you can then test different voice variations. What resonates with this group? How would they characterize your brand voice? Here are some adjectives that can help get you started: Ambitious. Charismatic. Extroverted. Intuitive. Passionate. Trustworthy. Understanding. Witty. 

Let’s Get Vocal

Whether you’ve got a start on some ideas for your brand voice or don’t have the first clue where to start, Stealth Creative’s savvy content strategy team is here to lend a hand. 

We can help you define tone, feel and personality and start bringing out the key attributes that will help your audience connect directly to the soul of your brand. 

But it all starts with a conversation! Get in touch with us today.

You know the saying “It’s what’s on the inside that counts?” That’s far from the whole story, at least when it comes to packaging design.

Just think of the last time you stood in the aisle debating which canned chicken to buy. All things being equal, the can’s label and design probably served as the tiebreaker.

72%

of shoppers say product packaging design influenced their purchase decision

Keep reading to learn which packaging design trends Stealth Creative believes can attract more customers to your brand.

You Are What You Drink

It’s not your imagination: Cans are getting taller and skinnier.

Yes, this is frustrating when you can’t find a snug-fitting coozy. And yes, this trend plays off our subconscious desires.

When we see a slim and sleek can, our brain says “Oh, this must be healthy.” Not only does this satisfy some deep-seated psychology, but it can satisfy your profit margins.

Slimmer packaging also opens more room for your product on retailers’ shelves, which comes with extra benefits like fewer stockouts, lower packaging COGs and more product availability.

10 wider silver cans.

Wide Design

10 facings

12 silver slim cans.

Slim Design

12 Facings

BOTTOM LINE: There are few things more powerful in marketing than understanding your audience on a deeper level—and turning those understandings into appeals to what they value or desire.

Make It Sustainable

Recyclable materials are so 2019. One of the hottest packaging trends today is sustainability.

Yes, there is a difference. 

Recyclable means using materials that can be remade into others.

RECYCLABLE

Plastic
Aluminum
Glass
Paper

SUSTAINABLE

Bioplastics
Wood Pulp
Cotton
Hemp

Sustainable means using materials that are biodegradable, safe for the consumer and use minimally negative environmental processes. Now, you might be saying. “This sounds more expensive and involved.” You’d be right. But there’s a big market for it—especially if you’re trying to reach younger consumers.

86%

of consumers ages 45 and younger will pay more for sustainable packaging

Source: Trivium Packaging

And when sustainability isn’t an option, big brands are taking leaps towards eco-friendly packaging.

Here’s an example: Sprite recently did away with their iconic green bottles—and we assure you that decision was hotly debated before becoming official. The reason? Clear, transparent bottles are more easily recycled. Now, this isn’t as good as being sustainable—more than a billion plastic bottles are used every day. But we can safely say this enviro-focused trend in general is here to stay.

BOTTOM LINE: Many are starting to take the environment more seriously. And if your brand is philanthropic, nature-oriented or “green,” you need to reflect this in your packaging to boost your brand story’s authenticity.

Speaking of sustainable…

Naturally Colorful

If you want to influence behavior (*cough* sell more products *cough*), color needs to be at the top of your consideration list. For instance, there’s a reason you don’t find many nurseries painted psychedelic orange. It’s not very soothing.

The same principle applies to packaging—which is why you’re probably seeing more of this color lately.

You’re probably also seeing more blues, light greens and neutral browns because those say “earth-friendly” or “sustainable.”

Out of all the packaging design trends, color is probably the most predictable. So, pay attention. Your competition is.

Flashbacks

We don’t know about you, but the past couple of years have been… different. That probably in part explains the upswing in design elements from years past.

Think about it. Retro designs are a backlash. A resistance. These say we want to go back to simpler times with a new face of nostalgia.

Right now, the ’90s are in fashion again. Why? Because the generation that grew up then has more purchasing power… and that decade resonates with them.

So, when our client Urban Chestnut Brewing Company asked us to create packaging for their new line of seltzers, we took a trip down Memory Lane with cans that give a nod to Lemonheads, Hi-C and other staples from that era.

urban chestnut brewing company 80s seltzer can label designs
See More of Our Urban Chestnut Work
BOTTOM LINE: Ten years from now, the ’00s will probably see a resurgence. And so on. You can’t quite set a watch to it, but you can anticipate what old thing will become new again.

SHOW, DON'T TELL

Now, you might be saying. “This sounds more expensive and involved.” You’d be right. But there’s a big market for it—especially if you’re trying to reach younger consumers.

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Perceived
Freshness

knife and fork icon

Perceived
Tastiness

check mark seal icon

Perceived
Quality

BOTTOM LINE: Transparency sells because customers are more likely to trust their own eyes.

K.I.S.S.

How can your product stand out when everything else on the shelf is screaming out?

You strip away the excess and minimize your design as much as possible.

So, what does that look like? Let’s use this RX Bar as an example. Nice and clean, right? This package embodies all the best minimal design elements:

  • No-wrap around text. If words are that important, make it easy to read all of them.
  • Distill the message. Focus on your single most essential feature or benefit.
  • Two high-contrast colors. This is proven to grab attention.
BOTTOM LINE: Sometimes, less is more. And that can mean you sell more product.
An RX Bar wrapper that lists 3 eggs whites, 6 almonds, 4 cashews, 2 dates and no BS. This is an example of minimal packaging design.

Source: shop.rxbar.com

What trend is your packaging missing?

Our package design specialists at Stealth Creative would love to show what your new packaging could look like. Drop us a line at info@stealthcreative.com!

The Google Overlords have brought big changes to the next iteration of Analytics—a tool that has become essential in the daily life of digital marketers and business owners the world over. And within a year’s time, we’re all going to have to adapt to a totally retooled version of what we’re used to. 

google analytics logo

So, naturally, everyone’s freaking out a little bit. 

Okay, not everyone. But it’s true that the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) interface looks pretty different from the Universal GA we’ve become familiar with over the last decade. And what’s more, Google hasn’t exactly been on their horse about getting tutorial support out—so far. More official information continues to trickle in, though, and third-party support is already out there (although a lot of it may be hard to understand unless you use Analytics on a regular basis).

Here’s some good news: All the familiar features you’ll probably be looking for are still in there. You just have to know where to look.

So, we at Stealth Creative figured we should lend a helping hand and share what we know (so far), and what we’re doing to help our clients prepare for the inevitable changeover. But first:

Why, Google, Must You Force GA4 Upon Us?

“Great. Now I have to get used to an almost entirely new interface, just to continue tracking my website’s performance! There better be some damned good reasons for this…”

Trust us, there are. As Google puts it: “Google Analytics 4 has the flexibility to measure many different kinds of data, delivering a strong Analytics experience that’s designed for the future.”

What that’s basically telling us is event-based data is now where it’s at.

Google has fundamentally changed its measurement model for GA4, with actionable items (called “events”) taking priority over page views and other session-based metrics. 

Page views can give you a general idea of where customers are spending the most time on your site, but event-based analytics better track the behavior of site users (their active engagement with your website’s buttons, form-fills or other features). 

Dovetailing with Google’s efforts to prioritize first-party data with the (now delayed) elimination of the third-party cookie, event-based tracking is all about personalizing and refining the user experience for the customer—and giving the marketer more valuable data to work with.  

If we can successfully swing with these inevitable-but-not-quite-here-yet changes, we’ll have a better understanding of our customers’ wants and needs. Therefore, everybody wins. 

Paraphrased from Google, the main benefits of Google Analytics 4 are that it:

  • Collects web and app data to give a fuller picture of customer journey
  • Introduces better privacy controls such as cookie-less measurement
  • Includes behavioral and conversion modeling
  • Predicts customer behavior and offers suggestions to refine your campaigns—without the need for you to develop specific, complex models
  • Can be directly integrated with media platforms/third-party elements to drive more action on your app/website.

The Top 5 GA4 Tips We’ve Picked Up So Far...

“I get it—this is all about making the digital journey smoother for my customers, everything changes with time, yadda yadda… but how about a little help here?”

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Start Running Google Analytics 4 Alongside Universal Analytics NOW.

First and foremost, we’ve got a year to get used to the new digs. The biggest piece of advice we can offer, which may seem obvious, is to start diving into GA4 ASAP. 

The good news is you can run GA4 and UA at the same time, so you can familiarize yourself with the new property and set up a campaign or two while continuing to collect that juicy familiarity data in UA. At Stealth Creative, this has allowed us to start digging in and learning the new ins and outs early—to the benefit of our clients. 

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Watch out for GA4’s quirky default settings.*

Here’s one example: While migrating some campaigns over from UA, we discovered that GA4 defaults to showing only the most recent two months’ worth of data when we’d create a custom report. Therefore, it appeared we were missing a ton of historical information at first—until we went in and adjusted.

Check out the video below to view our simple fix for this issue! 

google analytics tutorial video
Play Video about google analytics tutorial video

*We will update this post as we find further “quirks” to watch out for.

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To create your own report, don’t look under “Reports.”

You have to look under that new “Explore” tab, instead. Truly a prime example of the seeming lack of intuitiveness that folks are reacting to with GA4 (Why wouldn’t it be under “Reports?”), the “Explore” tab takes the place of the old “Analysis Hub.” 

Presumably, Google put the custom reporting functionality here instead due to the number of new dimensions you can track, such as “Variables” and “Segments.” It’s all designed to help measure what’s most meaningful to you and achieve better results. 

Here, too, we will update this post as we uncover more organization oddities. 

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Beware of these potential issues/obstacles during the transition period:

  • GA4 is different enough from than Universal that it will require new learning (meaning more courses and new certifications to earn).
  • Many users and clients will have to adjust to the event-based model and learn to shift away from prioritizing pageviews and “hits” as a measure of success.
  • Because of the differences in how activity is measured between UA and GA4, familiar metrics such as session counts may appear higher or lower than what you are used to at first.
  • With more flexible GA4 data, naming parameters become more meaningful data overall—but it also might mean more front-end work to describe each interaction you want to measure.   
  • Keep in mind that GA4 is still constantly changing, so be prepared for continued appearance differences and new features as they continue to develop the platform.
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Have an open mind and don’t be discouraged!

When Google changes the rules, it’s more learning for us. More work. More delays. More things to remember. More aggravation. 

But it also means progress. As we discussed earlier, the changes Google Analytics 4 brings (along with other sweeping changes related to improving the protection of consumer privacy) are all about refining the experience. 

Sure, it will take some time to learn the new interfaces and use the new tools. Sure, Google owes us some further guidance on how to use them. But in any case, we must remain open to change and remember these tools are there to help refine the way we think about the customer journey, become more relevant to our audiences and (let’s be real here) become more successful and profitable. 

Otherwise, we’ll just be swimmin’ against the tide. 

What has your Google Analytics 4 experience been like so far?

The digital strategy and content creators at Stealth Creative would love to hear your thoughts and questions. Drop us a line today at info@stealthcreative.com!

What The Next Wave of Investors Wants From Their of Financial Advisor

Money. Youth. Room for growth.

HENRYs (High Earners, Not Rich Yet) have all the traits financial advisors drool over except one: A willingness to have their investments managed by a professional.

How do we know? Research shows that while 25% of US households are HENRYs, only 30% of this group has a financial advisor.

Why?

  • Because they shun the “old-fashioned” way of investing.
  • Because their earnings go towards living expenses instead of going into building wealth.
  • Because they lack financial literacy, even though they’re highly educated.

HENRY’s skepticism can be difficult to overcome, but their wealth building potential is more than worth it.

At Stealth, we’ve helped financial advisors all over the country make headway with this type of highly-coveted client.

This is what we’ve learned about making HENRYs more receptive to your services.

They Want Validation

What do pensions, 7%+ APY savings accounts and CDs with ROI better than inflation have in common?

They’re financial tools older generations enjoyed that are no longer available to HENRYs. For them, their reservations about so-called “traditional” investments are well deserved when they think about retiring or their big picture financial future.

Here’s how to climb their mountain of misgivings: Embrace it.

Make empathy part of your mission statement or value proposition. State definitively you are on their side, ready to help them overcome runaway inflation and the rising cost of just about everything so they can live their best life.

Your validation can go a long way in getting on their side.

They Want To Do Good

For some investors, ROI trumps everything—even if it means investing in… less than wholesome companies.

That’s not the case with HENRYs. In fact, all things being equal, they’d prefer to put their money toward societal good.

0%

of millennials are interested in socially responsible investing

0%

of Gen X-ers believe investment funds should consider sustainability factors

0%

of Gen-Zers believe companies should address social and environmental issues

Announcing your support of investing in companies with high ESG scores or authentic brands committed to doing good globally can add some soul to your professional persona.

They Want Real Time Connections

When there’s a real market happening (e.g. circuit breakers in March 2020) or an event that might happen (e.g. news of a potential rate hike), people storm the internet in droves to communicate.

You should be there, joining the conversation.

% OF PEOPLE WHO VISIT SOCIAL MEDIA FOR INVESTING INFORMATION

Youtube
0%
TikTok
0%
Instagram
0%
Twitter
0%
Facebook
Groups
0%
Reddit
0%

Now, we know your content might need to be approved and that posting unfiltered, heat-of-the-moment commentary might be taken the wrong way.

What you should do is have pre-approved comments, statements or facts to use in reply to ongoing threads or conversations to help build your online persona.

You can also film something in advance and invite viewers or followers to call your office to schedule a 1:1 investing session.

The key here is to make interactions as two-sided, conversational and immediate as often as you can. Case in point: more than 50% of respondents to a recent Financial Planning survey said they would prefer to be texted reminders, as opposed to 35% who prefer to be emailed!

What should you be saying to HENRYs as part of your overall content strategy? Contact us and we can help.

And if you’re dreaming of being… somewhere other than in your next video meeting… why not express your inner summertime longings with a more colorful background?!

Introducing: The Stealth Summer Virtual Background Collection

Featuring original photography and design by our talented Art Director, Bri!

Stealth Summer Background with flowers
Stealth Summer Background with a field with horses grazing grass.
Stealth Summer Background with a road with mountains behind it.
Stealth Summer Background with a pier and ocean waves.

It’s just Stealth Creative’s way of wishing you a safe, fun—and hopefully productive—summer!

Spring Has Officially Sprung

And since your calendar is probably still packed with video meetings, we thought we’d share a seasonal gift that’s sure to freshen up your next virtual soirée…

Introducing: The Stealth Creative Spring Virtual Background Collection

Featuring original designs by one of our talented Art Directors, Brittany.
(And yep, that’s real water color!)

Gradient Stealth Virtual Background by Brittany
Floral Stealth Virtual Background by Brittany
Sun and Cloud Stealth Virtual Background by Brittany
Green Pattern Stealth Virtual Background by Brittany

Don’t Just Intern.

Launch Your Career.

At Stealth, we believe an internship
should be more than JUST an internship.

It should be more than just an educational requirement, more than just “paying your dues.” An internship should be the start of a successful future in the marketing and advertising world for you. And we want to give you that start.

Are you ready?

Need an Internship? Great!

WE NEED HELP.

We’re a growing agency seeking fresh perspectives and hungry minds in the following areas:

Paint Palette Icon

Art Direction

Social icon

Social

pencil icon

Copywriting

media player icon

Media

account management icon

Account Management

If you’re looking for an engaging internship that will help you build your professional and strategic skills in your area of specialty (and beyond), Stealth is your place.

  • You will not be sitting around, drooling.
  • You will get real work experience.
  • You will learn what it takes to succeed in the advertising field.
  • You will have fun! (And, in most cases, receive compensation.)

Get Ready to Get Down to Business.

Because this is no blow-off class. Here, you’re going to be put to work. Not only do we benefit as an agency from your help, but this magical thing happens to us when we teach you: we learn too! We understand the future is in your hands—and we want you to learn from the best (that’s us).

Take it from some past interns:

Ready to Develop Your Inner Greatness?

Apply for a Stealth Internship today! We look forward to getting to know you.

There has been a change in staffing patterns in reaction to the economic recession due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but today’s labor market feels much more complicated than it did during the last recession back in 2008. Then, employers were in the driver’s seat and companies across all industries implemented hiring freezes of historic proportions. In 2008, the economy slowly bounced back, but company management always seemed to have the upper hand and dictated future career moves.

Though record corporate tax breaks were awarded to companies in recent years, employers have not been eager to share those same savings with employees in the form of wage growth. Instead, many large companies used these tax breaks to bolster future capital project investments.

Then came the Covid-19 pandemic, and many workers took on more responsibility as companies cautiously became leaner. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a record 4.3M Americans quit their jobs in August—an unprecedented level since that data started being tracked in 2000. That’s a 20% increase in voluntary resignations compared to August 2019 and a 40% increase in voluntary resignations from August 2020’s figures.

Job descriptions are changing to balance attracting new employees with remaining efficient as a company. For many prospective employees, title and annual pay are no longer as important as having remote work flexibility, good health benefits, and more vacation days. And the today’s recruiting funnel will continue to become even more automated with numerous recruiting platforms available for small and large businesses.

Companies want to remain top of mind for potential new employee prospects and are using monthly paid search and display campaigns to target ideal candidates online. Employee retention rates are a moving target, and the managers of advertising budgets are hopeful this is a short-term problem. Additionally, with more people open to the idea of working remotely there is more overall competition for jobs than before. A post Covid-19 business environment has fewer in-person geographic constraints which requires more company processes to deliver a consistent customer experience.

One of the best ways for a company to improve employee retention is to change internal perceptions through strategic messaging and well thought out communications to employees. Industry leaders are starting to improve the quality and cadence of their internal communications which also naturally positions employees to be brand ambassadors for future opportunities.

Whether you are a single location or multi-location business, the hiring and onboarding process can look very different by regional office. Standardizing this process through consistent email templates and video is a quick way to improve employee’s perceptions of the company. Video continues to be the preferred medium for boosting internal brand perceptions.

A consistent employee onboarding experience is crucial for the future of remote work. Gone are the days of a new hire settling into a new office environment through 30 days of job shadowing. Most managers want new employees trained and ready to hit the ground running ASAP.

Stealth Intrinsic brings direct marketing experience to the Human Resources space through video, digital recruiting, and web development services. Contact us today to get started.

One huge advantage of digital marketing is that real-time data is available to show you how effectively your campaign is engaging your audience. Another advantage is that you can use that data to make informed decisions about ways to increase that engagement, even mid-campaign.

That’s why it’s important to work with a marketing partner who believes in the power of data and has the experience and discipline to read and respond to the story it tells.

At Stealth Creative, we’re devoted to data. We think being able to identify key metrics, dig into the numbers and communicate results in clear language is table stakes. What we do with those results to fine-tune tactics, placement and frequency is the real difference-maker.

To the person with only a hammer, all problems look like nails.

Because our digital clients represent a wide array of industries, we use an assortment of digital tools and platforms to drive the results they desire. Whether it be ecommerce, ticket sales, form fills or email opens, we never lose sight of our goal to deliver a strong return on investment for our clients.

We may design a programmatic digital display campaign to reach a custom audience, create and optimize an ecommerce search campaign, drive form fills, create segmented content for an email campaign and improve a customer’s Google review ratings—all to ensure our clients’ marketing dollars are being spent efficiently.

Here are some examples:

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Ecommerce FTW

A recent ecommerce search campaign for one of our national health and beauty clients produced a return on ad spend of 33:1. Not only did we track spend and correlate it with product sales, through access to their ecommerce and Google Analytics, we also were able to identify the users who made purchases from the campaign, which products they purchased, the dollars spent and other identifying characteristics. With this information, the client was able to send personalized messages to folks who made purchases for similar products or routine maintenance.

five star review icon

Reach for the Stars

We all know how important online reviews have become for companies. Some of our clients have asked us to help them develop a strategy to engage with customers so they will leave reviews or contact the company directly if they are not satisfied with the product. By working with one of our clients in the insurance industry, we identified customers who had recent contact with the company and created a personalized email asking them to leave a 5-star review. This approach resulted in a significant increase in the ratings for our clients.

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Getting Social

A well-planned and developed social media campaign helped one of our entertainment clients set a record attendance at their event. More than $56,000 in ticket sales resulted from a spend of $3,600.

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Making a Stronger Impression

Our media buying, from traditional to digital, is handled in house, resulting in greater efficiency for our clients. We took the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau’s digital media buying in house and reduced their cpm by 40 percent, which allowed us to buy an additional 1.2 million impressions. For more details, check out this case study.

News that Just Clicks

Madison Mutual Insurance Company wanted to increase the opens and clicks on their policyholder newsletter. Our solution was to segment the newsletter by geography and policyholder type. The result was an increase of 36 percent in opens and 250 percent increase in clicks. For more details, read the full story.

Want to know more?

Spend some time with our other case studies or drop me an email at ckolsky@stealthcreative.com.

About the Author

Charlie Kolsky is a digital and analytics specialist who’s dedicated to delivering results for our clients. He’s also a pretty mean pickleball player.

Maybe your company has its external, customer-facing communication dialed in to a T.

You’re seeing results. Sales are up.

That’s great! But have you been putting the same effort into your internal messaging?

It’s okay to admit if you haven’t. The customer comes first, right? Right. But…

While maintaining relationships with customers and winning new ones may be your primary objectives, keeping your people engaged and informed should be just as much of a priority. Strong internal communication not only helps maintain the health of your company, it also helps protect the bottom line.

And it’s not as simple as repurposing your existing customer communications or firing off a few company-wide emails. You’ve got to be strategic and consistent from the ground-up.

In other words, you have to be in touch with the intrinsic values of your organization.

Invest in ‘The Employee Experience’

Work environments and employee priorities are evolving at a quicker pace than ever before, so it’s never been more important to make sure your HR and workforce teams are on the same page.

The journey your employees take during their time at your company and the various factors that affect their satisfaction, productivity and longevity—that’s the employee experience.

Benefits, compensation, work-life balance, work environment and company culture all shape this experience, but a good internal communication strategy should be the common thread that unites all of these elements. Because:

    1. A good employee experience fosters loyalty. You want to retain and grow the employees you have. Not only because turnover inherently costs more, but also because experienced employees can become powerful ambassadors for your brand.

    2. A good employee experience means you’ll be attractive to prospective employees. There is a lot of fierce competition for good candidates; you have to put your best foot forward wherever you can.

    3. A good employee experience is defined by and maintained through solid internal communication. People work better when they know what’s going on and believe in what they’re doing.

If you take nothing else away from this post, at least take this: IT’S NOT A GIVEN THAT YOUR EMPLOYEES ARE FIRM BELIEVERS IN YOUR BRAND.

If the goal of internal marketing is to wind up with fulfilled employees who are nothing short of walking brand ambassadors (it is), they must have a firm grasp on your company, processes and offerings. Effective internal communication gives your team an opportunity to be more active in the company, from onboarding to further training and company education.

Turning Inward

No matter how big or small your business, it’s easy to focus so intently on external or product messaging you’re putting out into the world that you lose sight of what’s going on right under your nose.

And even though it may seem overwhelming, getting your internal game aligned doesn’t have to be a mammoth task. Just remember:

Customer-facing and internal-facing materials should go hand-in-hand. In many cases, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Your existing marketing materials are often a good starting place for employee education. This product explainer video we created for Friendship Village employees is a perfect example of creative that’s adaptable for internal and external use.

Internal marketing strategy is just as important as external strategy. Just as you would define goals for your marketing and/or sales teams, you should develop a roadmap for your internal processes at all levels, too. What does success look like? How can your leadership and HR teams help to lift up other departments?

Tactful Tactics

From digital onboarding programs, to training videos, to business accountability tools, there are plenty of ways to maintain the health of your organization on all levels.

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Live-action or Animated Video

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Display, Search and Geo-targeted Ads

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Recruitment Collateral

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Branded Digital Onboarding Portals

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Professional Development Training

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Business Accountability Tools & Partnership

Consider your audience. What methods are going to be the most memorable—even fun—for them to engage with? What processes need to be improved? What are some hurdles management keeps running into?

The right combination of tactics depends on the nature of your company. Whether you’re in need of recruitment help or professional development training depends on your current needs or goals.

Let’s Get Intrinsic

You may know your people well, but it often takes an outside perspective to help you reach them effectively.

We created STEALTH INTRINSIC to bridge the gap between external and internal communication, giving you the tools to INVIGORATE your current employees, ATTRACT future candidates and help you BUILD a base of enthusiastic brand ambassadors from the inside out.

Check out some of our success stories and learn more about the benefits of Stealth Intrinsic.

The way you talk to your employees can be the difference between success and failure.

It’s time to start getting everybody on the same page!

As the US literally blossoms back to life around us, leisure travel is quickly picking up steam. With each passing day, more and more people are planning road trips, weekend getaways, even full-on vacations. In fact, 56% of Americans expect to travel for leisure this year.*

Considering the year we just had, that’s huge.

And if you’re a member of a Convention and Visitors Bureau hoping to attract visitors to your community, Stealth has one simple message for you:

Start advertising. Now!

This is a fresh opportunity for your community to shine as an attractive destination. An opportunity to be top-of-mind as tourists reemerge. The easiest, most effective way to do this is through digital advertising (which happens to be one of our strengths).

Travel on Their Minds: The State of The States

In a previous blog, Heads in Beds: The Stealth Way, we outlined the general, day-to-day challenges convention and visitors bureaus face. That was, of course, before a global pandemic rocked the tourism industry worldwide. Since then, many CVBs have had to be creative about what attractions they promoted amid shutdowns (if promoting anything at all).

But as 2021 roars back to life, there are undeniable factors driving the resurgence of domestic tourism…

  1. Americans are so ready to travel. Many people have been stuck at home for a year. Families are ready to get the kids out and engaged with the world again. Consumer confidence is steadily rising, as more and more folks are getting protected by the vaccine.** The American road trip is alive and well!
  2. Americans have spending money. Financially, American households stayed relatively strong during the pandemic.† Thanks to stimulus packages, historically low borrowing rates and the propensity for Americans to pay down debt and start saving during times of social distancing, CVBs now have a critical opportunity to cash in as spending increases once again.
  3. Americans still want to support local. While Stealth can help you get in front of audiences across the nation, it’s important to keep in mind that some of your community’s best opportunities for support may not need to come from hundreds of miles away. While local businesses were undoubtedly hit hard in 2020, over 82 percent of consumers say they’d spend more to support state and local businesses after the pandemic.†† This sentiment is great news for your small boutiques and quaint brunch spots. Let’s remind the folks nearby

Be Where the People are Looking with Stealth Digital

So, it’s clear that the world is opening back up, and that you should be advertising to take advantage of it. (Like, yesterday!)

Now is the time to spotlight what’s special about your community—whether it’s indoor or outdoor-based! Get some traffic back through your museums, shops, restaurants and parks.

In addition to the full range of traditional advertising tactics we offer, Stealth will work with you to reach a larger audience with tactics like paid search, social media, content marketing and reviews when the user shows interest in travel.

If your community has an attractive mix of activities or destinations to offer—and you’re able to get in front of would-be visitors while in the planning stage—you’ll be in their consideration set for sure.

It’s time to get the word out. Let us help!

Visit Joplin Website

Joplin CVB Campaign Results

Reduce CPM by 40% - 1.2 Mil Additional Impressions - 1,400 More Clicks

Not Just Your Vendor. Your Partner.

Whether you are a smaller community CVB with a team of five or less, or a big town with a fully functioning marketing department, Stealth Digital will integrate with you seamlessly to help you define and achieve your marketing goals.

  • We pride ourselves on our ability to be an extension of your existing marketing team, not a replacement.

  • We have experience working with local CVBs. We’re familiar with your pain points. We know how to address your concerns.

  • We are motivated to help America’s communities get back to business and we can help yours reach a larger, more optimized audience than ever.

Don’t miss out. Because NOW is the time

References:
* https://www.travelagentcentral.com/hotels/stats-56-expect-to-travel-for-leisure-2021#:~:text=Compared%20to%20last%20year%2C%2036,and%20third%20quarter%20of%202021.
** https://usafacts.org/visualizations/covid-vaccine-tracker-states/
† https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-16/the-american-consumer-is-flush-with-cash-after-paying-down-debt
†† https://mint.intuit.com/blog/money-etiquette/buying-local-statistics-survey/

Stealth just received some exciting news to cap off 2020: We’re an IC100 winner!

So, what exactly is the IC100, and why should you care?

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) 2020 Inner City 100 (IC100) award recognizes the 100 fastest-growing firms in under-resourced communities across America. The winners were picked based on revenue growth and job creation during the four-year period from 2015 to 2019.

Stealth ranked 64th out of 100, based on our four-year revenue growth rate of 113.26% and job creation of 9. Not too shabby!

This year’s IC100 list had the highest number of women-owned/led companies (which includes Stealth, as a certified Women Business Enterprise). It’s an increase of eight companies from 2019 and 17 since 2015.

And here's why you should care: shared optimism.

As a veteran entrepreneur myself, the stories I heard from some of the other selected firms were the most inspiring I’ve heard in a long time. These leaders have overcome many challenges, brought revolutionary ideas to the forefront of industry, and are proving every day that great things are happening in this country!

“IC100 companies are forces of economic opportunity, optimism and transformation in their communities, and it’s an honor to recognize Stealth Creative’s leadership,” said ICIC CEO Steve Grossman. “Especially during this incredibly challenging time, as small business owners reckon with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, these pioneering entrepreneurs have demonstrated a deep commitment to and passion for their local communities.”

Countless companies and business owners have had to pivot, re-think, transition and find creative ways to thrive in the ever-changing landscape of our modern world.

We’re so proud to be included on the IC100 list. It is incredibly rewarding to be recognized alongside leaders from so many industries across the country, particularly during this really challenging year.

Even as the majority of the Stealth team have been diligently working from their home offices this year, our sense of togetherness and our focus on continuing the positive trends of the past few years is stronger than ever.

As your marketing and advertising force, you can bet that we’ll continue to embrace every challenge that comes our way.

Take a minute to read more inspiring entrepreneurial stories from the list of IC100 recipients here.

The Future Has Never Looked Brighter!
Mindy Jeffries — President and CEO, Stealth Creative

It’s no secret that the holiday retail season has been in flux the past few years. For decades, Black Friday was THE shopping day of the year. Consumers made their lists, researched pricing for their must-have gifts, and then stood in long lines — sometimes even overnight in the cold — to score great deals.

Not anymore.

The addition of Cyber Monday, Green Friday and the general ease of shopping online have all changed how marketers and consumers approach the holiday sales season. These days, Black Friday starts in early November, and many people never have to even set foot in a store to get their holiday shopping done.

COVID-19 has also affected so many aspects of our lives. What does it mean for consumer behavior? While we’ve embraced the convenience of online shopping in recent years, now it’s a matter of safety. How will this year’s retail season look different?

image of gifts under tree with calendar icon

The retail season has started earlier than ever this year. People are staying home more, having time think about gift giving earlier and simply looking forward to the holidays. And now that the flood of political ads has passed, there is space for retailers to get into the market early to reach consumers who are ready for the holidays. Marketers need to be strategic in planning their media buys to cover key timing and maintain the frequency needed for their messaging to reach consumers now, when they are in a holiday shopping mindset.

hand holding a credit card in front of a laptop

Ecommerce continues to pick up speed year over year, and it will be in even higher demand this season. Reaching consumers online while they’re shopping is key. Search, programmatic and social campaigns can all connect consumers with the products they want during the holiday shopping season. Helping consumers make purchase decisions makes their shopping experience more pleasant while also driving sales.

image of family around kitchen table with tv icon

This year may look different for consumers in terms of staying close to home with their immediate families, but the holiday season will still be filled with joy. Holiday programming on TV, radio stations switching to holiday music and social feeds full of well wishes are all opportunities to engage with consumers in meaningful ways. It’s also a great time to give back, and many corporations do just that. Regardless of how consumers decide to shop this gift giving season, spreading joy will remain the focus this year.

Traditions and spending time with family will be as important as ever this season — it may just look a little different. Staying safe while celebrating in new and different ways will be challenging, but also provides the opportunity for creative solutions.

If you’d like to explore strategic, innovative ways to reach your audience during this season or any season, let’s talk! Stealth Creative exists to connect businesses with success, and our traditional and digital media experts are at your service.

Like most small businesses in the US, Stealth is adjusting to the new normal of social distancing. We’re working from home, taking guitar lessons on zoom and going to church on YouTube. We are finding it’s harder to decline a virtual happy hour. What can the excuse be? I am too busy. That doesn’t seem to work in times like these!

How We're Helping

As a company, we are helping our clients in different ways, depending on the category. We are reducing media for some and increasing for others. Some clients, we’re advising to keep a “heartbeat” of media going, so they can jump in faster once we are on the other side.

We are also looking at short term digital solutions and moving dollars between mediums. Social media is a good alternative! People are engaging more with family and friends and turning to social media for entertainment and news. Social allows us to stay light on our feet as messaging changes daily, sometimes hourly.

To help businesses in this time of need, we are offering a free 60-minute consultation to give you ideas and action plans for your business! Please email info@stealthcreative.com to sign up.

At Stealth, we are thankful for the internet! Right now, we are all one step from being Little House on the Prairie. We plan to take this one day at a time, but now with everyone being able to work remotely, we can take it one month at a time, which is comforting.

Take a Breather

Take a Breather

If you have anxious moments, designate 15-30 minutes each day to write down what you are worried about then cross off everything you can’t control. This exercise can be a great way to refocus on your day and enjoy time with family.

Remember the six basic emotions we all have:

  1. Mad
  2. Sad
  3. Scared
  4. Peace
  5. Joy
  6. Power

Let’s focus on Peace, Joy, Power.

Working Remotely

If you can work from home during these challenging times, remember it’s a luxury that some can’t enjoy. Embrace the back to basics shift!

We aren’t experts yet, but with a few weeks under our belts, we’ve decided to compile some tips from our employees about how they are making their home offices a productive workplace.

Here are our tips so far:

Stealth1080_Blog_Infographic_3.27

Thank You!

We are sending gratitude, love, prayers and support to the essential workers who have been working around the clock to fight COVID-19.

Life is good; you are a blessing! THANK YOU to all the businesses that made the difficult decision to work from home while we fight this virus as a country. You are making a difference.

For me, it truly is the happiest time of the year! Why? I am in the midst of Stealth Creative’s planning cycle for 2020! Wow! New year, new decade, new moleskine! New clients with new needs! Our tried-and-true clients are looking for new ideas! The new year is invigorating. And oh, yes… I love the holidays, and how they give me energy to launch into the new year with vigor!

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Though the world continues to change around us, convincing travelers to spend time in our own little slice of it remains a top objective and a driving economic force for many towns, both large and small.

In fact, tourism marketing is a major contributor to the United States economy, accounting for approximately 2.75 trillion U.S. dollars in 2018.

So, who’s in charge of attracting all of those visitors (and dollars)?

At the heart of the local tourism industry are Convention & Visitor Bureaus (CVBs). The CVB is the organization that pulls individuals and groups together to market their community as a whole. Hotels, restaurants, local attractions and event promotion teams all work with their local CVB to attract visitors and locals to their businesses.

Many CVBs get their marketing dollars from state agencies and local hotel taxes. The job of the CVB is make sure there are “heads in beds” at local hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts.

But what if your community doesn’t have a pro sports team, a vibrant food scene or some of the other attractions larger cities might offer?

Small markets must take a unique approach to advertising their communities. More creativity is required in determining what is considered an “attraction,” and more strategy is needed in order to speak to potential visitors in a compelling way. (For example, there is a rising number of travelers looking for experiences that are “off-the-beaten-path,” or of historical significance. This is where a smaller community can shine!)

The Challenges Convention & Visitor Bureaus Face

But even after a town has identified what to say and how to say it, smaller CVBs will continue to face the same key challenges:

  1. Staffing
    It is typical for a smaller community to have a small CVB staff. Many CVBs are staffed by one individual who is responsible for everything from marketing their community, to acting as a step-on guide, to organizing local events to overseeing social media for their community. All of this is in addition to the daily rigor of managing a budget, attending city functions and many other administrative tasks. Therefore, self-promotion efforts are limited or too often pushed to the back burner.
  2. Budget
    A smaller community, with no large-scale attractions, is going to have less money to use in marketing their community. They are going to have to work closer with other businesses in the community to make those funds go further and will have to be creative in how they spend their money to receive the best ROI.
  3. Attractions (or lack thereof)
    Among the largest challenges for smaller communities is how to answer the question: “But what is there to do here?” And sometimes the struggle isn’t always just from outsiders. If your city doesn’t have an attraction that brings in thousands of people a year, it’s easy for even your locals to think that there is nothing to do.

It all comes down to time, money and resources.

If your staff is being pulled in many different directions, it’s important to bring in someone who can help take responsibilities off their plate. That’s where a marketing agency comes in.

When you hire an agency, you have a full team of people ready to assist with all aspects of your marketing plan. From marketing strategy, to creative design, to media placement, working with an agency increases your staff multifold. You’ve got graphic designers, digital and brand strategists, experts in all types of media placement and account executives to help keep everything on track.

With more than 50 years of combined experience in CVB marketing and media placement, Stealth Creative can help you find the best venues for marketing your community. We have staff that have worked for CVBs and have seen the challenges up close. Based on who your ideal visitor is, we can assist you in determining the best way to reach those individuals. With so many options out there, it’s important to have an expert in your corner, helping to make the most out of the limited budget you might have.

One of the CVBs we currently work with has lost several attractions over the past few years. Their focus has now turned to the local art scene, foodies who travel for the experience of eating unique cuisine, American history buffs, and individuals who want more active vacations – hiking, biking and canoeing are all great options in this area. Stealth has been able to help this CVB determine new target markets and opportunities to promote what makes their city great… and then make sure they are advertising to the travelers that are most likely to visit!

No one can be an expert in everything. But you are an expert on your community. Let Stealth be the experts in marketing your community.

As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.

Photo Courtesy of the Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Meet Lisa Smith, Stealth’s Media Director, pictured here with her family: Colette, Nate and Matt. Let’s see how she answered seven crazy questions! How would you answer them?

1) Are you spontaneous or a planner?  

At work definitely a planner; outside work more spontaneous.

2) If you could go on tour with any band or artist, who would it be and why?

Carrie Underwood. Our kids could hang out together.

3) If you could own any priceless object in the world, what would it be? 

My daughter would probably be mad at me if I didn’t say a priceless tiara.

4) If you had three minutes to sell a brick, how would you pitch it? Go!

It’s sturdy. It’s reliable, and it’s a necessary foundation of any project…without it there is no project.

5) If you had to describe your life as a condiment, what would it be and why?

I guess ketchup. You need ketchup at…parties, sporting events, dinners, etc.

6) If your childhood had a smell, what would it be and why? 

I always loved grilled cheese (still do); so the smell of toasted bread.

7) If you could invite only three people (alive or dead) to a dinner party, who would you invite and why? 

My father passed away many years ago; so I would love to share a dinner with him and my two children.

Thanks, Lisa! We appreciate you answering our seven off-the-wall questions to get to know you a bit better! 

As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.

These days, a lot of emphasis is placed on leveraging digital and social media marketing. And while we agree those two disciplines should be part of every company’s marketing mix, there’s one discipline that tends to get overlooked and left behind in today’s tech-focused world: Direct mail.

You read that right. Direct mail.

It’s not your father’s marketing. In fact, using direct mail in an age when everyone’s focused only on digital, can actually give your company a leg up.

Here are six reasons to consider adding direct mail to your marketing mix:

1) 90% of Millennials think direct mail advertising is reliable.

Millennials typically prefer a low-tech marketing approach, and direct mail fits the bill. In fact:

  • 84% of Millennials take time to look through their mail.
  • 64% would rather scan for useful info in the mail than email.
  • 57% have made purchases based on direct mail offers.

2) Personalization makes a difference.

We like hearing and reading our names. There’s something about it that draws us in, and immediately makes the interaction feel more personal.

The same thing holds true with direct mail. Adding a person’s name and using full color in direct mail can increase response rates by 135%!

3) Use a cross-platform approach for better results.

Each of us learn differently, as we just shared in a recent blog post – some are visual learners, others auditory and still others tactile (or kinesthetic) learners.

Why is this important?

It means it’s crucial for your marketing mix to take that into account – and promote on various channels and different types of media to ‘hit’ your audience where they live, and reach them in the way they learn/absorb information.

One way to do this is to combine direct mail (visual and tactile) with digital ads (could be visual, auditory or tactile), which according to the DMA yields a 28% higher conversion rate.

And, according to Merkle, marketing campaigns that used direct mail and at least one form of digital marketing media experienced a 118% lift in response rate compared to using direct mail alone.

4) 18.4% of former customers respond to direct mail.

Interestingly, direct mail is a great way to reconnect with former clients. It helps you stay top of mind, which means when they have a need for your product or service again, they’ll think of you first.

5) Would you like that supersized?

In this case – unlike for fast food – the answer is: Yes! Oversized envelopes, postcards and letters attract 6.6%, 5.7% and 4.3% of household responses, respectively.

Because they’re a larger size than the standard direct mail dimensions, these pieces stand out among the crowd, er…mail. And standing out is the first step to getting noticed – and to getting your recipient to actually read the direct mail piece.

6) Direct mail impacts product trials and website visits.

Nearly 40% of customers try a product or service for the first time because of direct mail advertising, and more than 60% of direct mail advertising recipients were influenced to visit a promoted website with the heaviest influence being on first-time shoppers.

While direct mail may not be the be-all/end-all, it is a key part of any marketing mix. It prompts action. And it drives conversions.

If you’re ready to talk about how direct mail could help your business with your marketing efforts, reach out today. We’d be thrilled to help you determine the best marketing mix strategy for your business objectives.

As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.

Did you know that we all learn a little differently? That’s why it’s important to vary your marketing media to ensure all types of learners (and we’re all learners) can understand and process the message.

While we often hear marketers talk about understanding the demographics and generation of their target audience, discussing the various ways people learn isn’t always top of mind.

But it should be.

After all, if you’re sharing your marketing message, and promoting your company’s products and services in a way that doesn’t connect with your audience, it’ll fall on deaf ears.

The Three Learning Styles

There are three different ways people absorb and process information – and typically, we each have various aspects of the three with one that’s dominant:

1) Auditory - 34% of people are auditory learners, which means they:

  • Retain information through hearing, listening and speaking.
  • Often prefer to be told how to do things, summarizing the main points out loud to help with memorization.
  • Notice different aspects of speaking.
  • Often have talents in music, and may concentrate better with soft music playing in the background.
  • Enjoy conversations and podcasts.

2) Visual – 29% of people are visual learners, which means they:

  • Use visual objects, such as graphs, charts, pictures and seeing information.
  • Can read body language well, and have a good perception of aesthetics.
  • Are able to memorize and recall information easily.
  • Tend to remember things that are written down.
  • Learn better by watching.

3) Tactile (kinesthetic) – 37% of people are tactile or kinesthetic learners, which means they:

  • Like to use the hands-on approach to learn new material.
  • Are generally good in math and science.
  • Would rather demonstrate how to do something vs. verbally explaining it.
  • Usually prefers group work more than the other learning styles.
  • Need to physically manipulate something, such as a pen – or be doing something physical while learning (e.g., standing, walking, chewing gum).

To better understand, you may wish to take this self-test to see which type of learner you are.

Putting This Knowledge to Work for Your Marketing Efforts

Once you’ve identified your business and marketing objectives and have your marketing strategy in place, it’s time to define the tactics that will best help you accomplish those goals.

As you start plotting the plan, keep in mind the three different types of learners, and how the various tactics account for each:

Learning Styles Chart

Understanding that your target audience absorbs information in different ways help you better create tactics that will resonate and sink in – ultimately enhancing the outcome and actions taken from the marketing message.

Interested in learning more about how you can enhance your marketing strategy with various tactics that appeal to all types of learners? Reach out today.

As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.

That is the question… Ah, meetings – often, a necessary evil. And when handled properly, they can be extremely effective in accomplishing business objectives, moving projects forward and opening lines of communication.
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Meet Stealth’s Digital Strategy Director, Charles (aka Charlie) Kolsky. Let’s see how he answered seven more questions that make you think! How would you answer them?

1) When was the last time you used crayons?   

It appears it was ‘today!’

Stealth_Blog–Charlie

2) If you could own any priceless object in the world, what would it be – and why? 

Good health. I have watched loved ones lose their good health, and it has taught me that good health is priceless and cannot be bought at any price.

3) If you had to eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be – and why? 

Fruit. I could eat berries, bananas, grapes, melons at every meal. And, throw in a chocolate chip cookie, and I’m all set!

4) Name a song you secretly love, but wouldn't want others to know that?

Those Were the Days by Mary Hopkin. My grandmother bought me the single. It was the first single I ever owned. I think she bought it for me because she liked the song.

5) What bit of trivia do you know that is interesting but also useless?

I now know one of our key client’s sales and promotion period dates.

6) What artist or band do you always recommend when someone asks for a music recommendation?

Bruce Springsteen!

7) What's your biggest goal here at Stealth? 

My goal is to build out our digital business so when we meet with clients, we’ll start to hear: “Wow, we’d like you to handle our digital marketing.” I am confident we can make that happen for our clients, which will help grow our revenue – and help their marketing and sales efforts as well. On the top of the white board in every one of my offices it always said: Grow revenue – whether that be print or digital.

Thanks, Charlie! We appreciate you answering our crazy questions to get to know you a bit better! 

As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.

So you’ve decided an ad agency could help you. Now what? Where do you turn to begin your search? What type of agency do you need? How do you know if it’s a good fit?

When I was on the client side of the business, it crossed my mind a few times to hire an agency. The thought was just as quickly extinguished because it was frightening! I immediately thought: Too expensive! More people to manage! Interviewing time and hassle! If only I’d had someone back then to help me realize it doesn’t have to be any of those things!

So let’s walk through these steps one by one to understand how you can easily hire an ad agency that’s the right partner for you and your company.

Building the Case

A long time ago in a faraway land, I was a beginning marketing person. I had no staff and was responsible for a pretty big marketing budget. The first thing I wanted to do was hire more help, but even more important was ensuring diversity of thinking within the marketing team.

My product was telecommunications, and my target market didn’t want it. We needed to perform some foundational work and reposition the product in the customer’s mind. And it would’ve been great to enlist the help of an agency for that heavy lift.

Many times the first battle when thinking about hiring an ad agency can be within your own company. Leadership asks: Why do you need an ad agency? How much will this cost? Why can’t you handle the marketing yourself?

Here’s my checklist to build your case for hiring an ad agency.

1) Review and understand which marketing tactics you use.

Copywriting, design, coding, events, digital media, PR, direct marketing and traditional tactics, SEM/SEO, video, website, email, social media, oh my! There are so many tactics today, and each tactic requires specific expertise and perhaps tactical software to manage.

One marketing person cannot possibly have expertise in all these things, as many of the tools in marketing require different skill sets. And even if you find an amazingly talented person, there is still is a limit on how much one person can do effectively. You may have team members with expertise in the majority of these disciplines, but chances are there’s a resource gap or two that an agency can help fill.

2) Save time.

Most business owners are busy running their business and at best have lean marketing staffs. By hiring an ad agency, you get the tools and experience of experts in specific disciplines without needing to hire, train and pay benefits to a new staff member. It’s generally more cost-effective than building your own in-house agency.

3) Consider your budget.

Understanding your current marketing spend, revenue and overall budget is a good place to start when deciding how much you have to spend on agency services. Keep in mind the revenue numbers might vary depending on if you are marketing to businesses or consumers. Remember, even a little help can be a huge benefit to your marketing resources.

4) Diversity of thinking.

Marketing is not black and white, and it really helps to have a few different brains coming together to offer different ideas for projects, tactics, creative and more. Hearing different perspectives can also help you get inside your customer’s viewpoints, which is crucial for your marketing efforts.

5) Measurement

When you hire the right ad agency, it’s pretty easy to measure success when the correct KPIs are put into place. It’s critical to have that discussion up front to ensure your agency partner understands your business goals and objectives to work with you to develop a strategy that can accomplish those goals.

6) Do more with less.

By hiring an agency who is truly a partner to help you with your marketing tactics, you can do more marketing without needing to hire more staff! You’ll have more arms and legs to help who also serve as an extension of your team.

7) Learning happens.

As you work together more and more, the ad agency learns your business, which enables a good agency to expose you to new ideas and constantly share the learning.

Picking the Perfect Partner

Chemistry is key.

Like all relationships, chemistry is probably the first criteria to focus on. Meet with the ad agency team to understand their personalities, and if they’ll mesh with you and your team.

Make sure you meet and like the head of your account as well as your day-to-day account manager. Some marketers are so wowed by the ad agency; they become intimidated by them, which does not make for a good working relationship. You and your agency should be in a true partnership.

It’s important for there to be good respect both ways. After all, you’re hiring them for their expertise and experience in specific marketing disciplines. Put that expertise to good use! Likewise, they’ll learn from you and your business to make the partnership the perfect combination.

Budget is definitely a factor.

Cost is important at the end of the day. Fewer agencies today use hourly rates and instead charge by the project itself – often with a monthly retainer in place to help you balance out your expenses. But after a discovery session with the agency, it’s wise to talk about your budget. Ideally, you, as the client, should assign the budget amount, and then the agency should divide that budget into a tactical plan. Because agencies work with multiple clients, they can often use negotiation with vendors to get better pricing for all.

The bottom line.

You and your agency of choice should ask: How can we best achieve my goals on this budget?

Final thoughts.

Working with an ad agency should be fun and energizing. It should be based on two-way trust and help you achieve much more than you and your team could do internally with current resources and expertise.

It should be a relationship that improves as you each get to know one another, and it should be mutually beneficial.

Coming up next, we’ll talk about how to work effectively with your ad agency! There are certainly tricks to that trade.

As always, feel free to reach out to talk more about working with an agency or to set up your own discovery session

As Stealth’s Administrative Assistant, Rachel Vassalli keeps the wheels on the track and rolling smoothly! Let’s see how she answered these wacky seven questions. And then why not take a shot at answering them yourself!

1) What TV show character would it be the most fun to change places with for a week – and why?   

This is a super hard question! I finally settled on this switching with a host of any of those beach shows like you see on HGTV or the Travel Channel. That would be fun to travel, visit local restaurants or hotels, and get paid to vacation!

2) If magic were real, what spell would you try to learn first – and why? 

I would love to learn a spell that could take something off the page of a magazine, such as an outfit in a fashion magazine, and make it appear in my closet.

3) What artist or band do you always recommend when someone asks for a music recommendation? 

Kaskade has a good vibe; it can be more like pop or chill background music. It’s not just electronic; there are some lyrics.

4) What outdoor activity haven’t you tried, but would like to – and why? 

Gardening. There’s a science to it, and it’s nice to have vegetables you know where they came from and be self-sufficient. Or flower gardening. Bouquets of fresh flowers from your backyard – that would be lovely.

5) What app can you not believe someone hasn’t made yet – and why?

Only if I get a piece of the pie if my idea happens. This is a hard one; I feel like there’s an app for everything already

6) As a child, what did you think would be awesome about being an adult, but isn’t as awesome as you thought it would be – and why?  

Living on your own! There’s way more you have to take care of: Bills, groceries, laundry, waking up on your own, the list could continue, always having your keys…

7) What bit of trivia do you know that is very interesting but also very useless?

What kind of cheese isn’t yours? Nacho cheese! I know it’s a joke, but that was the first thing that came to mind. It really depends on what the topic of conversation is. I think that I have a little something for anything.

So…how did you fair? Would you have answered the same way? Did you find out more about Rachel – and yourself? We, on the social team, always learn much more about our coworkers and ourselves as we set up these seven crazy question posts.

As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.

The agriculture sector across the U.S. can be described as anemic at best thanks to the muddled political world that anyone working in Ag is well versed in. China used to be the No. 1 buyer of commercially grown soybeans in the U.S.; however, that has changed during the last couple years with a tariff-riddled trade war occurring between the two countries.

But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity for effective marketing. Let’s dive into the current environment before taking a peek at how you can put digital, social media and video marketing to use to promote and feature your grain marketers.

A Volatile Political Environment

Put simply, President Trump and his administration promised on the 2016 campaign trail to hold China accountable for their trade practices. Just last week the White House identified China as a “currency manipulator,” which has been argued by economic analysts on both sides of the coin. The reality is that China is not a direct currency manipulator, but they don’t play by the same rules because they have the demand pull on their side.

The U.S. had mastered the supply push of soybeans to China from both the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf of Mexico until the two countries started slapping tariffs on each other. At first, it sounded like just political rhetoric, but to Trump’s credit, he has dug in and continued to escalate tariffs on imports from China to maximize pressure on the communist country.

China has seen their economy slowdown from these tactics among the current administration, but China tends to strategize over the long-term outlook and is most likely waiting to see how the 2020 elections turn out before proceeding one way or the other.

A Bearish Soybean Outlook

U.S. steel mills were printing money due to the new barrier of entry of Chinese metal until March, when things took a turn for the worse. Exports are what suffer (e.g., soybeans). The only hope for life in the soybean market rests on poor growing conditions or the off chance that China comes back to the table and buys U.S. origin soybeans.

The bad news is the Midwest experienced a wet spring where acreage that usually gets planted with corn was oversaturated, and farmers ended up planting soybeans instead. Not to mention there will be an estimated 1.05 billion (yes, with a “b”) bushel surplus across the United States before soybean harvest starts this year in October.

All of the above supply/demand scenarios make it awfully hard to get bullish soybeans for the next couple years. The good news is the Trump administration has pledged and delivered monetary relief for rural farmers who elected him into office in the first place.

In other words, prices are bad, but the government is cutting a check so life can go on as usual for those making a living off of the land. I’m still not seeing shiny new combines being driven off the lot of the John Deere dealership or land being bought up by producers of every size. Today’s environment feels like 1,000-acre farmers are making it ok, but the 5,000-plus-acre farmers are expanding operations slowly. All signs point to another strong soybean crop again this year with timely summer rains keeping prices depressed.

It appears Agriculture will have to remain in wait-and-see mode and battle with the cards they’ve been dealt as they always have. Large commercial exporters like ADM, BUNGE, CARGILL and LDC are not profitable in the current environment as grain divisions keep weighing down the balance sheets.

The overall outlook is that the industry will continue to constrict despite massive corporate tax cuts being awarded to Ag companies; all that did was allocate money to a rainy-day fund for corporations. Those working in Agriculture will continue to be told to do more for the same amount of money, or find a new career.

The Mississippi River and railroads in the northern plains are ready to get back to business as usual, but the whole value chain appears paralyzed, wearing a lot of temporary Band-Aids. During the next five years, the two major threats to Agriculture will be global warming, creating extreme weather patterns for growing conditions, as well as trade relations with China.

Soybean Infographic

Marketing Your Grain Marketers

Yes, the market is volatile, and recent quarterly earning reports – among publicly traded companies at least – point to more consolidation in the industry. In other words, we should see more company mergers, organizational centralization and cost cutting among major players in the industry.

Keep in mind there is opportunity in that shift.

Farmers will continue to try and eliminate risk amidst the volatility. Grain companies are becoming more vocal with daily market recaps before and after daily trading sessions to establish credibility and provide advice for producers.

Eventually, farmers will sign up record amounts of production towards specialty marketing programs that establish floors and ceilings on yearly prices. Every grain company calls these marketing programs something different. Bunge called it the Alliance Advantage Program; Consolidated Grain and Barge called it their Equalizer family of products. They all take risk off the table.

And all of these major players have invested significant amounts of money training grain marketing specialists on the right marketing plan for each producer. Market factors, farm size, production risk and cash flow can steer a grain marketing specialist towards a specific type of marketing contract each year instead of simply holding town hall meetings every spring and summer across the Midwest to establish credibility.

In fact, the days of the vice president of your grain company spending two weeks holding town hall meetings discussing S&D’s from Fargo, ND, to Lettsworth, LA, are over. Ok, maybe you still have a handful of in-person potlucks with your top customers, but why not work smarter – not harder – by advertising your top marketing specialists?

In a very disciplined manner, you can coordinate a digital and social media marketing plan that drives farmers towards your company and experts. Setting up monthly spend budgets and targeting the right geographic areas stop costs from getting out of control and put less strain on your employees.

Let’s say you have a grain marketing specialist based out of West Memphis, AR, who covers northern Mississippi to Cape Girardeau, IL. Digital and social media marketing requires less in-person attention, and allows you to cover more ground for the same price as paying for monthly travel and entertainment.

If you still had money in the budget, you could supplement digital marketing and social media campaigns with a direct mail campaign that has the same look and feel, and drives the messaging home through multiple media.

You could also create a professional video of each grain marketing specialist that links to a landing page with a form fill to schedule an appointment to learn more.

Interested in learning more about how to put your marketing budget to the best use? Reach out today; we’d love to chat with you more to understand how we can help you do just that.

Did you know that 96% of employees who are happy with their benefits are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs?

So, how do you ensure employees not only know which benefits their employer is offering, but also understand those benefits to make an informed decision about their health and voluntary benefits selection?

As you gear up for your clients’ – or your own employees’ – fourth quarter open enrollment, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

And then when you think you’ve communicated too much, communicate again! Remember the Rule of Seven: People need to see or hear your message at least seven times before they take action. And this becomes even more important with benefits communications, when education is crucial.

2. Change it up!

When you’re communicating, change up the way you share your message. Don’t assume everyone will see the table tent on the lunch table or the poster in the hallway. Use email, social media, the intranet, instant messaging, desk drops (yes, the old-fashioned paper kind), direct mailers to the home to engage the spouse, group meetings, manager meetings, one-on-one meetings – and more! The sky’s the limit. Just make sure you change up your media.

3.Mind your audience.

Are you talking to a Baby Boomer? A Gen Xer? A Millennial? Or maybe a Gen Zer? Each is going to need different info – and each will react to your messages differently. It’s imperative to vary your messaging within your media to hit each audience.

4. Who ya gonna call?

No, not Ghostbusters! This time, it’s needs to be your company’s benefits expert: Someone in HR, your broker, the president of your company, etc. Determine who can answer employee questions about their benefit package – and do it in a timely manner. Employees need to know they have someone they can turn to with their questions before open enrollment.

5. This way or that?

Think about how employees would be most inclined to participate in open enrollment. With a dedicated benefits expert on hand to help and answer questions? With their spouse at their side to discuss? Think about how you would want to enroll, and what would make the process seamless and smooth for you. Then consider how you can make it just as easy for employees.

6. How'd we do?

Enrollment isn’t finished when the applications are all submitted. Not by a long stretch. It’s time to follow-up with surveys for all! That includes not only the employees who enrolled, but also the HR and benefits staff, managers, marketers, senior leadership and anyone else who was involved in putting the program and process together.

By putting some extra thought into the planning process and marketing efforts, you can pull off the best open enrollment you’ve had to date!

Want to talk more about how best to communicate, promote, educate and market before, during and after open enrollment? Reach out today – we’d love to chat more.

As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.

Many years ago, when I began my first leadership marketing job, I was still doing most of the work myself. I was the marketing leader for the organization, but for sure I was a lone ranger.

I, alone, thought of new ideas to execute. I alone did all the work! So ideas were limited to what I could dream up – and accomplish. And I didn’t have many tools, but to be honest, there weren’t a lot of tools available. (Marketing has come a long way since the 80s for sure.)

Taking a leap of faith

So, rather than continuing to go it alone, I hired an ad agency! After hobbling along for a year a so, I thought: Why not leverage the things an ad agency could bring to the table to help enhance my marketing efforts?

When you’re a sole contributor in the role of marketing it’s very lonely. Who do you ask to verify an idea is valid? The finance guy? How expensive is it? The boss? How soon can you do it? An ad agency can offer rational collaboration and immense help with preparation and planning to help you succeed:

1. Fresh ideas and perspective.

After asking one of my agencies for a ‘bubbling cauldron of ideas,’ they took a picture of the entire agency in a hot tub! I got that and much more from this agency. They were super creative and always bringing fresh perspective to my business.

2. Tools they had that I didn't

…even back then, such as media-buying software to ensure we didn’t have to accept for granted whatever the media outlets were telling us. Direct mail assistance with years of expertise in this specific tactic to offer best practices, A/B tests and more. And that’s just scratching the surface.

3. Hands and feet to help accomplish the work!

Often, you and your team know what you’re doing, have the expertise to do it – but just don’t have the time or resources available to execute. That’s where the right ad agency can serve as a seamless extension of your marketing team.

4. Saving time.

You can accomplish so much more to move the needle if you’re not always focused on the details. You can do more to move the bigger needle if you’re passing off the smaller ones. Take advantage of the effectiveness and efficiency an ad agency can bring to the table to free you up to focus on the things you need to.

5. Brand development from a longer-view perspective.

Most of us love our companies, and that can often mean our perspective may be a little myopic. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to see our brand from the customer’s perspective. There are many tools available today to help us see ourselves as our customers see us. Take advantage of those – and of your ad agency’s expertise to help bridge that divide.

6. Professionals to execute across all media.

Copywriters, media buyers, graphic designers, social media experts, videographers, website designers, PR professionals, and more. No training needed. Your marketing team may include several of these, but maybe not all. Using an agency for those areas of expertise you may not have on staff is a great way to expand your marketing team – without actually expanding your marketing team.

7. See results.

Ad agencies are all about achieving results for you, your team and your company. That’s their job. Why not take advantage of all they have to offer?
 

So what happened after I took that leap of faith and hired that ad agency?

  • Our performance increased dramatically, and it really helped my career as well as those around me.
  • We suddenly were being realistic and on point with our customers’ perspective.
  • The right message was being sent at the right time to the right people.
  • We grew our customer base dramatically.

I always feel extremely thankful for those agencies from my early days. The people I reported to took a chance – and bought into the vision I had of leveraging an agency to enhance our existing marketing efforts. And it truly paid off.

Interested in learning how an agency may help enhance your marketing initiatives or serve as an extension of your marketing team? Reach out. We’d love to chat. And check out the second part of the Puddle Jumping With Mindy series: How Do I Hire the Perfect Ad Agency?

Understanding your target audience – and more importantly, what they’re looking for from your company is an important first step in any marketing efforts you undertake. Often, people think conducting research entails hundreds of thousands of dollars and months of effort. In reality, research doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.

While there’s definitely a time and place for extensive research – and we have several clients who have asked us to do just that – every company can take advantage of custom research. With the combination of improvements in technology and research panels, it doesn’t take a significant investment to perform your research and answer your questions.

Case Study

Let’s take a look at just one example where research made a huge difference:

The Challenge

Several years back we were working with a mid-sized manufacturer that had established a very successful product in the RV industry, and they saw a similar opportunity in the boating and marine industry. After a few years of showing their products at the major shows, they struggled with distribution – even after getting positive reviews for product quality.

The Solution

We created a small, targeted mail survey to provide definitive answers that steered the manufacturer back on track. The target audience was significantly influenced by company brands that had served their industry for years.

Rather than investing in building their brand in a new sector, our client discovered they would fare better by partnering with an established name in the industry and becoming their OEM. By pursuing this strategy, the client achieved a ten-fold increase in revenues – something that wouldn’t have been possible with the targeted, cost-effective research we performed.

While we can’t guarantee that a $3,500 mail survey will yield the same results for every company, we take strides to find not only the best research design for your needs but also the best approach to fit your budget.

Research Offers Insights to Focus Your Efforts

We know how tempting it is to want to dive right into tactics to ‘get things rolling’ once you finally have the time and resources to devote to your marketing. But, doing that without solid research and a data-focused strategy developed first is akin to building a house without a foundation – it may hold for a bit, but eventually it will crumble to the ground.

Whether conducting research with something as simple as a mailed (or emailed) survey, or expanding it to include one-on-one telephone interviews or focus groups, the information gleaned from this foundational work will not only unearth unknown insights, but also reinforce certain assumptions about your target audience and their interests you’d already made – both of which are key in developing your marketing strategy.

Once you have that information in hand, then forming a marketing strategy using that data allows you to craft an approach that will support your business objectives and marketing goals, while driving sales by focusing efforts to resonate with your target audience.

This necessary foundation work then enables you to develop tactics that align with what your target audience wants – whether that be with your traditional marketing efforts, such as email, digital, website development, videos, etc., or when developing a social media marketing strategy and accompanying campaigns and editorial calendars. It all starts with understanding your business – and your target audience.

Ready to dive into research that can make a difference for your company? Stealth Insights, our research team, is ready to chat with you today. Just give us a call at 314.480.3606 or shoot us an email, and we’ll put together a research plan that works with your business objectives and budget.

And as always, stay tuned for more tips from Stealth Creative next time we go Off the Radar.

Our leadership team at Stealth often shares thoughts, ideas, encouragement and more with our entire team as a way to keep us focused on ways we can always do our best for our clients. This is one such missive from our Executive Creative Director Dan O’Saben. We thought it worthwhile to share with you, as marketers and business leaders, as not only a reminder that we’re always striving to do better for you – and be the difference – but also as something to keep this in mind as you develop your marketing campaigns and encourage your staff. (Client details genericized to protect the innocent. )

"Am I making a difference?"

I was talking to Pat Nagel (one of our video editors) today about one of his client projects, and we were discussing how much of an impact we can have if we keep moving them toward better work and smarter thinking.

And I think the gist of our conversation should be shared with everyone: Are we making a difference on behalf of our clients? That’s really an important question we should be asking when we think about the work we are creating for them every day.

Another way to express this question is: Am I making the work better? Is it becoming more than it was a month ago, six months ago or a year ago?

Small Changes Matter

And don’t always discount small changes. They can add up to big, cumulative things.

Here’s an example of a client we work with, where lots of little changes have added up to a big difference within a single year:

Digital Marketing

  • One year ago: No focus
  • Today: Significant focus, which has led to more site traffic, more social traffic and more sales – both online and in-store

Creative/Campaign Approach

  • One year ago:
    • Baby Boomer spokesperson appealed to an increasingly aging demographic
    • Product-only images/video didn’t provide a lot of context
    • No consistent digital presence
  • Today:
    • Younger, more relevant brand advocates who resonate with the younger Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z target audiences
    • Modern product images in relatable situations and settings designed to appeal to the target audience
    • A combination of consistent social media and digital advertising engaging with consumers in the environments they frequent

Results

  • One year ago:
    • Decreasing sales
    • Non-engaged audience on social
    • Low website visits
  • Today:
    • Stabilizing and growing store sales
    • More engaged and loyal social media audiences
    • Increased website visits and online sales

No matter which way the winds blow, no one can take away the fact that we have grown that client. And that growth was built on all of the decisions made along the way. 

We have made a difference.

The work is better.

Is there room for improvement?

Well, of course there is! But that brings me back to my point: Are we continuing to look for ways to make the work better? Even if the client says “no” nine out of 10 times, are we continuing to look for ways to push them to be better? Are we continuing to look for ways to push ourselves both individually and as a group to be better?

Here’s another related question: Am I getting better? Am I growing?

I would contend that if you are making a difference and making the work better, then you as an individual – we as a company – are growing.

We as a company are getting better.

What is the opposite of making a difference, of making the work and ourselves better?

Stagnation. Followed by decay.

The Bottom Line

You all make a difference in our client businesses, every single one of you.

BUT – we have to continue to push to be better at what we do, and to be that difference for our clients.

This is not always easy, but keep pushing.

Sometimes the victories will be small, almost imperceptible. Sometimes they will feel like giant seismic shifts.

But we have to continue to grow.

Challenge yourself to get better.

Challenge the people around you to be better.

Be the difference.

Want to talk about how we can be the difference for your marketing efforts? Drop us a line, and let’s start the conversation.

And as always, stay tuned for more tips from Stealth Creative next time we go Off the Radar.

Meet Kirstie Smith, Stealth’s Media Buyer, pictured here with her husband Steve – although Kirstie says he’d probably say he was her ‘handler.’ She graciously agreed to tackle seven intriguing questions to help us get to know her a little better. Would you have answered these questions the same way?

1) If your life were a book, what would be its title – and why? 

The Mysteries and Wrong Turns of a Dancer Who Never Made it to the Guggenheim: Two Loves Too Far. I think it speaks for itself.   

2) Among your friends or family, what are you famous for – and why? 

Whatever it is, it’s probably music related. Either my knowledge of a song or love of a band (Fleetwood Mac is my known drug of choice) or my ability to hear a song and immediately identify a movie and scene it can be found in. 

3) What are some of your personal “rules” that you never break? 

I never litter, and I take my cart back! I make my bed as soon as I get up every day. Does that count? (Yes it does, Kirstie! ~Stealth)

4) If you had to change your name, what would you change it to – and why? 

I actually did do that. When I was little and first learning how to say my name, apparently I overhead a man on TV talking about a guarantee. My maiden name is Geurin, and so for a long time, I introduced myself as Kirstie Leigh Guarantee. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

5) What personality trait do you value most and which do you dislike the most – and why? 

I appreciate graciousness, forgiveness and a sense of humor! I enjoy people who are appreciative of and giving to others. Not giving in a sense of: “Here, have this thing,” but more so giving of themselves; their time, their understanding and again their humor. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying narcissism and greed are the personality traits I find most repellent, no matter how far in life those characteristics seem to take some.  

6) What weird food combinations do you really enjoy?  

I like crunchy peanut butter on my pancakes. 

7) If you could choose only one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Ah, the music question. First of all, even if it were my favorite song, hearing it every time I walked into a room would soon make it hard to listen to. Honestly, just a nice harpsichord intro please.

And there you have it! Another seven crazy questions answered. Thanks, Kirstie!

As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.

To V, or not to V, that is the question.

If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, the news has been rather grim lately. Chain after chain has announced mass store closings as digital giants like Amazon have cornered the market share on low-cost-high-convenience purchases and home delivery. Business Insider recently reported that as many as 7,000 big-name stores will close this year.

For years e-commerce has taken the world by storm, re-writing everything we know about marketing. Nowadays you can’t go through two pages on the internet without stumbling across the option to buy something from a digital store. We’ve even come to depend on the presence of an omnipresent digital store to fulfill our daily needs (see Amazon’s grocery service).

It’s not so shocking, then, that the digital world of shopping has entered a new phase in its evolution: Virtual commerce.

Gone are the halcyon days of static product images next to a little shopping cart symbol. The internet wizards have cooked up another crazy idea – combine the experience of an actual store with the anywhere-accessibility of the internet.

Sometimes change can be scary. Don’t worry, though. We’re here to bring you four reasons you should become one with cyberspace and jump on the v-commerce train before it leaves the station – and two reasons you might want to sit this one out.

Go V Reason 1: Global Domination!

In all seriousness, though, v-commerce picked up where e-commerce left off when it comes to market reach. The internet is everywhere, all the time. If you’ve got products you want to sell and a large target market, v-commerce is a good idea. Not only are the storefronts more engaging (e.g., Alibaba’s Buy+) but seeing the product in a 3D space is a language that transcends all barriers. And now with the growth of mobile e-commerce, v-commerce is poised to make your reach nearly infinite.

Think you’re the next Steve Jobs? Have you created the new great invention that no one will be able to live without? V-commerce will help you get your product out there in a more interactive way.

Go V Reason 2: Your Imagination is Your Only Limit

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have a freakin’ dragon attempt to sell you a new TV? What about if Taylor Swift appeared in your living room and told you some behind-the-scenes information as demos of her latest tracks played?

With v-commerce, all of this is possible.

The beauty of virtual reality is that you can program all sorts of cool things to show off your products. Set up live virtual demonstrations to help customers see how your product works. Give demos to show people how your product fits in the real world. As we discussed in an early blog post, IKEA has an app using augmented reality that does this perfectly.

With v-commerce, the possibilities are endless. We live in a world where you have all the tools at your fingertips to engage your consumers in a spectacular and memorable way. Whatever you can imagine, you can create.

Go V Reason 3: Personalize Marketing Like Never Before

The big thing now is data collection. From the moment you log on to the world wide web, companies are collecting information on your interests, likes and dislikes to create a marketing profile. This is used to serve you ads that better meet your needs and are more appealing to you. But until now, that’s where consumer targeting stopped.

With v-commerce, target marketing has been revolutionized once again. With the proliferation of personal assistants like Siri, Bixby, Google and Alexa, data can be collected well beyond the confines of cyberspace. In addition, initiating shopping has never been easier. People can search products, browse options, and make purchases all by issuing commands to integrated AI.

In the future, these digital helpers may even be able to pull up virtual storefronts. But if you don’t optimize your business for v-commerce, you miss your chance to become part of a growing trend – and the opportunity to snap up a share of the market.

 

Go V Reason 4: Automation

We mentioned how integrated AI is key to the operation of v-commerce markets. This is also a benefit to you.

V-commerce lets the algorithms and AI do the work for you. While it’s not entirely a set-it-and-forget it approach, v-commerce allows you to take it easy when it comes to selling your product.

V-commerce takes the window-shopping experience of a brick-and-mortar establishment and puts it online. However, there are very important differences between these virtual stores and actual stores. For starters, there’s no need for a store manager or sales associates or even call centers. The integrated AI handles all of those functions to deliver a sales experience that is flawless.

V-commerce is the ultimate route for cutting down on costs while maximizing profits.

No V Reason 1: Ceci n’est pas une pipe

If you’ve seen Rene Magritte’s famous “This is not a pipe” painting, you’re familiar with the idea that symbols or images are not the actual thing itself.

V-commerce is all well and good if you’re selling say, handbags or electronics. But the whole virtual store concept starts to fall apart when your business is predominantly service based.

While getting your haircut or having a suit tailored through the magic of virtual reality sounds super cool, we aren’t there yet. If you work in an industry that requires a more personal touch when dealing with customers, don’t be afraid to bow out of the v-commerce race.

While brick-and-mortar retail might be suffering, brick-and-mortar services are alive and well.

No V Reason 2: The Biggest of Ponds

It sucks being a little fish in a big pond. That’s why when you finally find your niche, you’re probably pretty reluctant to leave it.

Maybe you’re happy being a local business with a low geographic profile. Or maybe that’s really all you can afford to be right now.

If this is the case, v-commerce is not for you. As we mentioned before, v-commerce opens up the floodgates of global e-markets, and if you’re not prepared to handle them, you can quickly get overwhelmed.

Not every business needs to be a global superpower. Stick to your guns, and do what your business does best.

Still feeling a little out of your depth? No worries. Stealth Creative is at the forefront of marketing and advertising. If anyone knows whether it makes sense for you to go virtual, it’s us. Drop us a line today, and we’ll navigate the digital world together.

As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.

Recently we shared how social media is quite different than traditional marketing. This marketing effort is intended to build awareness, drive engagement, develop loyal brand ambassadors and serve as a key facet to your integrated marketing plan. And it’s table stakes in today’s socially savvy world.

Millennials and Gen Z account for more than one-third of the workforce, with that figure expected to increase to more than half in the next decade, making the younger generations the most dominant in the workplace. And keep in mind 48 percent of younger generation managers are your decision makers at a director level or higher.* As consumers and business decision-makers continue to get younger and younger, having a solid digital marketing and social media marketing game are the crucial first steps in your marketing foundation. They are what everything else should be built upon.

Think about it like a house. You wouldn’t build a house by simply adding rooms on top of stilts without a solid foundation in place because they would all tumble to the ground in a heap. The same thing is true for marketing: Focusing on marketing tactics without building your website and social media foundation first ends in the same result. And by the way, we can help with both! Just give us a holler.

Putting Social Media Best Practices to Work for Your Business

Social Best Practices_shadowSo, how do you ensure you’re following social media best practices for your business to stay on point with your brand’s personality and the expectations of each social platform? You can start by checking out this social media best practices infographic we put together, or even reach out to us to help with your entire social media strategy, campaign and editorial calendars, execution, community management and analytics reporting.

We often get asked to share social media best practices with our clients as part of our marketing engagement or social media marketing strategy work. So, we thought, why not make those same best practices available to you?!

It all starts with the right approach, which looks like this:

  • Develop a social strategy that not only supports your overarching marketing strategy, but also your business goals and objectives. Everything should align from top to bottom.

  • Determine overarching key messages that reflect your brand’s personality and attributes, while ensuring any content you develop reinforces your primary messaging, keeping everything consistent in your marketing efforts.

  • Craft your editorial calendar by month, showing all platforms, date/day, subject, copy, call-to-action, hashtags and any associated links. This ensures you have the full snapshot of the month across all platforms – again, to ensure marketing consistency.

  • Post unique content on each platform. Let me say that again: Post unique content on each platform. This is important. Why? Because each platform has its own language and expectations, which we dive into in the infographic. It’s also important to ensure your content varies by channel because chances are the same people will follow you on all your platforms, and they’ll quickly lose interest or unfollow you if your content is the same across the board. It’s okay to post similar topics, but vary your copy.There is one time when it’s acceptable to cross-post the same content: If you have a social media channel and do not have the resources to devote to it, but want it to stay active, you can cross-post to ensure there’s activity on the channel.

  • Be consistent in your posting schedule. Due to the way the platform algorithms work, consistency is king. After 30 days or so of consistent posting, the algorithms will realize you’re being active, and recognize your content as ‘valid.’ This helps with organic visibility, as well as helps your audience know when to expect new info from you.

  • Engage with your audience. This is not a post-it-and-forget-it kinda gig. If you want a loyal audience and attract the right kind of followers (those who will engage with your brand), then you must engage with them. It’s called ‘social’ for a reason.Think about your social channels as a cocktail party or networking event. You wouldn’t walk up to someone, and say: “Hi, my name is Bob, and I sell widgets. Wanna buy one?” You’d ease into that. Get to know more about them and their interests. “Hi, my name is Bob. What’s yours?” You engage them back, ask questions, get to know them, understand them, and that will help you eventually present your products/solutions.And keep in mind, the rule of thumb on social is: Post nine non-product- or solution-oriented posts to one that ‘sells.’ And please don’t brand your posts. Organic social is about connecting – not selling/advertising. Save that for your paid social or digital ads. The more authentic and real you can be, the better.Additionally, your audience may have questions or comment on your posts. Answer them, comment back, engage with them, and you’ll start to develop a much more loyal following.

  • Monitor quarterly analytics/trends. Quarterly is the key in that sentence. Social media is fickle. One month engagement and impressions may be up, the next down. Typically, you’re going to see a fluctuation of 5% either way, which is considered ‘static.’ The objective is to grow the KPIs positively, and keeping an eye on the analytics quarterly allows you to see trends and adjust content accordingly.

So, check out the rest of the best practices to keep in mind by channel in the infographic, and then feel free to reach out with questions, to request a social media audit or even engage us to take social off your plate!

As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.

*How millennials and Gen Z are reshaping the future of the workforce, CNBC.

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is one of my favorite quotes for several reasons. First of all, I know this is tough to do, but I also know it’s the bedrock of critical-thinking skills. Holding two opposing thoughts simultaneously also makes us grow and explore, which leads to self-learning – and makes us balanced in our thinking.

Ah, balance. The much-prized, must-sought-after balance. Something that seems to be a dwindling commodity in our world. Politics or religion – or pick your favorite controversial issue – somewhere in my study of life someone advised me to always study both sides of the issue.

If you read a conservative article on a subject, what does the liberal press say about the same issue? If you watch a conservative TV station, also balance your thinking by watching a more liberal one. One can almost discern a person’s politics by where they get their news today! It’s hard to open your mind to both sides of the topic, but crucial to growing and polishing those critical-thinking skills.

Positivity is an important quality

Which brings us to critical thinking in a positive world. To me, being positive is very important. In fact, on Strengthfinders, it’s one of my top skills. And while I truly believe it takes more than attitude to get a job done, a positive attitude is probably the most important ingredient we bring to any job.

We can do this! With the proper training and guidance, we can figure this out! However, we want to be realistic! Whoa, that sounds a lot like balance. What are the expectations? How long do we have? What are the key issues?

Putting conflicting thoughts to work

One of the earliest teachings of critical thinking was Socrates, recorded by Plato. He indicated that we cannot depend on those in “authority” to have sound knowledge and insight. This one principle can be applied in the workplace for amazing results: Hold two conflicting thoughts at the same time. Let’s use an example. Your company wants to launch a new product, and we’ll call that product Widget New. Conflicting thoughts might be: Maybe there will be a market, and maybe there will not be a market. How can I determine that? Curiosity! Let’s employ research, and ask more critical questions of the target market. But, it’s important to remain impartial in that research – even if it’s the CEO’s pet product, right? Here’s how I play that out:
  • Step 1: I’m going to have data, and analyze that data, and present that data to either show it’s a good idea or it isn’t.
  • Step 2: I’m going to then employ my creative brain cells to understand how to tweak the idea to make it work better.
  • Step 3: Finally I’ll go back to the CEO with a way to solve his/her problem. Wait; when we started, he/she didn’t even realize there was a problem!
Hence, the importance of applying critical thinking to the task at hand. Because now, either way, the CEO is going to grow in respect for me, and see me as:
  • Analytical
  • Curious
  • Open-minded
  • Creative
  • A problem-solver
Critical-thinking skills can be assessed and strengthened. The top five critical-thinking skills are the ones I mentioned above. Thought leaders of all kinds employ these to make themselves better. And often, it’s when trouble is on the horizon that your passion or enthusiasm, or your positive thinking gets ahead on the critical thinking. It takes both to make a project or new product launch successful. Want to talk more about applying positivity and critical-thinking skills to your business and marketing efforts? I’d be happy to chat with you. Shoot me an email or give me a call at 314.480.3606 today.

Garett-PatStealth has always encouraged ongoing learning – in any form – for our staff members. And two members of our Joplin, MO, office take this to heart with their participation in Leadership Joplin, a program to identify, cultivate and motivate future community leaders.

Pat Nagel, Videographer, was part of the 2015 class, has served on the Steering Committee since 2016, and co-chair of this year’s program, while Garett Jeffries, Managing Director, is a member of the 2019 class.

“It’s a great way to get to know Joplin and how the city works,” said Garett. “The program helps you get in touch with other business leaders to understand what’s going on in the community and how we can help give back.”

“It goes beyond networking to really give you great awareness of the community and the resources available,” said Pat. “You gain a better understanding of what’s here – and the ways you can better help and get involved.”

The Program’s Purpose

Leadership Joplin is in its 36th year with more than 925 graduates. This informative and thought-provoking program of 12 sessions introduces an average of 30 participants per program year to the community and exposes them to its challenges. The program provides a strategic curriculum to enhance participants’ leadership skills, and creates a dialogue for discussion on relevant topics and assessment of case studies, ultimately supporting the Chamber’s strategic initiatives and goals.

“During my time as a participant, Leadership Joplin helped me better understand my community and the ways I can fit in and give back to the business community at large,” said Pat. “The most insightful aspect of the program was taking the Color Code personality test. It not only helped me better understand myself, but also taught me how to assess my coworkers’, peers’ and clients’ color codes to better understand how to work and interact with them.”

In fact, Pat was getting so much out of the program that halfway through it, he expressed interest to the coordinator about serving on the steering committee. When an opening became available shortly thereafter, they offered the spot to Pat.

“Having lived in this area my whole life and working in TV news, I’d had exposure to this, but the program offers an even better understanding of how things work,” said Pat. “It exposes you to all of these other professionals in the Joplin area, and I thoroughly enjoy helping to see them grow in the program just like I did.”

Garett recounted similar insights regarding his time so far in the 2019 program. “It’s helped me understand the professional makeup of the Joplin area, including people and businesses in healthcare, media, HR fulfillment, architecture, engineering and more. I now understand which businesses are growing and what the industry will look like moving forward,” he said. “I’ve also taken time for a lot of self-reflection with the Color Code personality exercise. It’s really helped me understand my motives and drives in a way I didn’t realize before. I’m a Blue, focused on intimacy, service and connections, which is why I often react with such emotion when speaking with people. Now I know why and can view things more objectively.”

The Leadership Experience

governor_postThe program meets every two weeks for a day-long session, and members are also asked to attend other community-related functions, such as First Friday Coffees, business networking events the Chamber hosts at a different local business each month, Business After Hours, a more causal networking event, Good Morning Joplin a quarterly, more formal meeting with a speaker, or any board meeting for a city program.

In addition to the standard class experience, the group also takes longer excursions. For example, Garett and Pat recently had the chance to take a trip to Jefferson City, MO, to visit the Jefferson City Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison, where they toured the license-plate facility, which is where all of the license plates in Missouri are made. They also toured the furniture, sewing and uniform divisions. They spoke to people imprisoned for murder, rape and other such crimes, who now help mentor other prisoners to help them channel their anger into positive activities and to become better people.

Following the prison visit, the crew shared dinner with their state legislators. The following day they toured the capitol building and Supreme Court, and sat in on house and senate sessions, and even met with the governor himself, who posted about the encounter on Facebook.

Another event included Law-Enforcement Day, where the class met with the Sheriff’s Department, Joplin Fire Department, SWAT, FBI and the K9 unit.

“We were able to see one of their dogs in action, seeking out drugs, as well as climb inside the fire truck, witness the throwing of a flash bang, and gain a better understanding of the most common drug problems in the area, how to recognize people using drugs and how law enforcement plans their raids,” said Garett. “While children often have the benefit of a fire-truck tour and discussion with law enforcement during grade school, it’s definitely a truly unique experience as an adult.”

The Program

Both Pat and Garett see immense value in the program, and how it demonstrates and showcases the true sense of community in Joplin.

“When you’ve never lived in a town that is so community-centric, it’s hard to understand that until you see it in action,” said Garett. “Leadership Joplin provides access to understanding the overall purpose or end goal for our community, which is truly empowering.”

Learn more about Leadership Joplin or Leadership St. Louis | FOCUS, or check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see if they have a similar program for your emerging leaders.

As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.

You know what they say, an emoji a day keeps the doctor away. Well, there aren’t any emoji prescriptions just yet, but symbols are enhancing written language and becoming an essential part of modern communication.

Words are important, and emojis are just as powerful. If you aren’t using emojis to communicate with your customers, you’re missing out on a free and useful marketing tool. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to a very… emotional time in my personal life.

I was a freshman in high school. I remember staying up late one night thinking about my boyfriend at the time. This was the early 2000s when texting was new and expensive. I typed out three very short but heavy words on my Nokia 3650, “I love you,” and pressed send.

Seventeen years later I still clearly remember that night. I never got a response, and he broke up with me the next day. I wonder if things would have turned out differently if I had switch out the word “love” for “<3” before pressing send.

Today we not only have heart emojis ❤️, we also have a rainbow of colors – 16 to be exact. So how do we use these symbols to benefit our brands and relationships? Like a lot of symbols, emojis pack a lot of feeling into one character. You can use them to express heavy emotions without seeming too needy, aggressive or boy crazy (in my case). They lighten the mood. You can say things you would never be able to express in written words without looking crazy.

Now that we have established just how important emojis are, let’s dive into some best practices and how to use them to elevate your brand’s communication without getting broken up with – or worse, unsubscribed from.

Can Emojis Replace Words?

The short answer: YES! But, emojis are most effective when combined with text. If you can effortlessly replace a word with an emoji for emphasis, your copy will be draw attention, pack an emotional punch and get your message across quickly.

With that being said, you rarely see emojis grouped to create a phrase or an entire sentence. That would be the equivalent of all caps and multiple exclamation points at the end of a written sentence. The sweet spot when it comes to emojis is adding one or two naturally into your copy; don’t go overboard. Less is always more. 

Social Media and Emojis

Today you rarely see a social media post that doesn’t include an emoji. The old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words still holds true. Images are a critical part of social media. They delight and entertain your audience while grabbing and (hopefully) keeping their attention. Powerful visuals are a must when it comes to social media, and that includes emojis. These tiny pictures make your message look less cluttered and more fun!

And there is more good news: Emojis cross language barriers because they are international! Who doesn’t understand the basic message behind a smiley face?  Your brand can take advantage of this and not only attract millennials but customers and followers from all over the world.

Here are a few rules to remember when it comes to social media and emoji use:

  1. Keep it simple. If you can’t find an emoji that fits with your message, it’s best not to use one at all. Don’t overthink it, or it won’t feel or read naturally.
  2. Stay consistent, and add a few emojis in with your brand guidelines. Pick emojis close to your logo colors, and express your brand message. This not only gets you out of the corporate box, it also makes it easier to respond to comments and interact with customers in a playful way still true to your brand.
  3. Emojis make your content seem more light and fun. They shouldn’t be used when talking about serious topics because people will assume you are making light of the situation and may get offended.

Email and Emojis

Using emojis in email subject lines let you quickly express your message without adding more clutter to your customers’ inboxes.

Many brands are now picking one emoji to include first in every email subject line they send so their customers can quickly identify their emails in the hundreds they receive each day. Certain emojis are becoming a natural extension of many brands. These colorful graphics can help your emails stand out in the sea of unreads.

Here are a few rules to remember when it comes to emails and emoji use:

  1. Don’t be overdramatic. If you are exaggerating or using emojis as clickbait, your customers will quickly learn to disregard them. Don’t overuse the siren emoji, or people won’t trust that your subject line emojis correlate to the message you’re sending.
  2. Test compatibility. All emojis aren’t compatible with every major email client. Be sure to check that your emojis are showing up in all mail programs before you send, especially if you are replacing words.
  3. Gauge audience reaction. Perform a few tests, and see how your audience responds to the addition of emojis in your subject lines. Target audiences respond very differently to emojis. As much as the data points to them improving open rates, they might have an opposite effect and end up in spam if you are trying to reach an older or less social-savvy audience.

Emojis Are Here to Stay

Start adding a few emojis to your social media and email subject lines. Step up your communication game, and use the free tools that are at the tip of your fingers. Emojis allow you to say the things you never thought you could say before while simultaneously seeming more approachable and fun!

Stealth Creative boasts a social media and digital team that’s wired into the internet.

Drop us a line if you need our help…We <3 U

We hope you’re enjoying getting to know our new Stealth family in Joplin, MO, as much as we are! This week we asked one of our graphic designers, Brianna Maxwell, to share her answers to these seven wacky questions:

1) What fictional movie character would you like to be best friends with?

Felicity Smoak from the TV show Arrow. She’s a literal genius with amazing computer and hacking skills, is super sweet and a loyal friend, is really funny and babbles hilarious innuendos, is a very snappy dresser and has an ‘in’ with the Green Arrow!

2) Are you spontaneous or a planner?

It depends…I enjoy planning fun things and the anticipation of looking forward to them, but often times things fall into place better when you are spontaneous!

3) What one thing can you not live without?

Chapstick!

4) If you could have any artist paint your portrait, who would it be? 

My gramma. (I miss her dearly.)

5) What reality TV show would you choose to be stuck in?

I am so anti-reality shows; I don’t even know one to pick. Does the Amazing Race count? (Yep, it counts! ~Stealth)

6) If you could have a never-ending candle that smelled like anything you wanted, what fragrance would it be?

Lilacs, fresh in the springtime with the smell of a little bit of breeze off the lake mixed in.

7) What is something horrible that everyone should try at least once? 

Changing a really dirty diaper …it makes you appreciate your mom – and all the other great ones you know! Ha!

Oh, by the way, did we mention Bri is also a mom to triplets? Yep! Check them out on their family vacation to Colorado last summer.

 

Stay tuned until next time when we ask seven other questions to yet another member of the Stealth team.

Social media is quite different than traditional marketing. It’s intent isn’t to drive sales – at least not directly – but instead to build awareness, drive engagement, develop loyal brand ambassadors and serve as a key facet to your integrated marketing plan.

You’re probably thinking: What’s the point then? If it’s not going to have a direct impact on my sales numbers, why bother?

The answer to that is simple: It’s your foundation. It’s expected. NOT having an active social media presence for your business – whether B2C or, perhaps even more important, B2B – is like conducting a conference call with a bag phone. It’s risky at best.

Social media is here to stay. It’s not a fad. It’s not a gimmick. It can drive true marketing and business results. It’s time to understand how your company can take advantage of this amazing marketing tool.

Social media is about brand awareness and engagement.

Before we tackle how to develop your social media marketing, we need to first talk about its purpose. It’s not like traditional marketing. Instead, the intent of social media is to drive brand awareness, improve engagement with your brand and support your other traditional marketing efforts.

The idea is to build connections and relationships with your audience in a way traditional marketing doesn’t – and can’t – allow. This is a much more personal marketing avenue. So, take advantage of that.

Use it to showcase your company’s personality – to humanize your brand.

It all starts with strategy.

Now that we’ve talked about the purpose of social media, we can turn to strategy. This is one of the primary things we talk about with our clients: The importance of having a well-thought-out social media strategy that:

1) Supports and complements your marketing strategy.
2) Supports and complements your business strategy.

Without a strategy that aligns with both your marketing and business strategies, social media simply becomes a marketing tactic. And that’s a waste of time, effort and resources for everyone – and will not deliver the intended results.

So, what should your strategy include? Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  • Define your company – simply and succinctly.
  • Include your company’s mission and vision.
  • Who’s your target audience?
  • If you had to define your key message in one sentence, what would it be?
  • Define your strengths and weaknesses.
  • List your key competitors.
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are you trying to accomplish with your overarching marketing strategy?
  • What is your brand’s personality?
  • What are your company’s brand attributes?

We have our clients walk through both a brand personality and brand attribute exercise to define who they are and who they aren’t, and which attributes best describe their company’s personality, which is key to ensure style and tone are on point for the brand.

This is always a fun – and typically eye-opening – exercise, where the leadership team often finds themselves thinking the exact opposite on certain attributes and personality traits. If your leadership team isn’t in agreement, there’s no point in proceeding with any marketing efforts because there’d be no way to define expectations or meet those expectations given everyone’s starting on different pages.

Narrow your focus.

Once you have your strategy defined – and everyone on your leadership team is in agreement – it’s time to narrow your focus.

Determining your social media marketing campaigns for the year – at a high level – will help define your topics, messaging and goals for that time period. We work with clients whose industry changes quarterly to focus on different topics – and we develop different campaign topics for each. Conversely, we work with some clients whose message stays the same for the entire year.

You’ll need to decide what makes the most sense for your business and industry – based on what you’re wanting to communicate to your potential and current clients and customers, taking into account:

  • What the campaign is working to achieve (e.g., educate about x, y and z.)?
  • What your audience is asked to do (e.g., visit the blog, call a phone number, etc.)?
  • Who’s your primary audience?
  • What are the key points/messages and supporting messages you want to convey?
  • What are the dates of the campaign, and are their peak times to take into account? (This becomes paramount when planning an event, for example.)
  • What will your primary, secondary and tertiary social platforms be (e.g., Instagram = Primary; Facebook = Secondary, Twitter = Tertiary)?
  • What assets will be used during the campaign?

Craft your editorial calendar.

Now that you’ve defined your campaign(s), it’s time to crack open the laptop, pull out that tablet or charge up your phone to start crafting that calendar! The content should reflect the specific campaign for the timeframe, following the key and supporting messages you defined, as well as the calls to action.

We recommend creating content one month at a time; so you can see the full view of how your channels look for the entire month. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your posts are different by channel. One of the worst things you can do as a business is post the exact same caption and image on multiple platforms. Each platform has its own culture and expectations:
    • LinkedIn – Good for B2B; more formal/business-like; no emojis; a few hashtags are encouraged
    • Facebook – Works for B2B and B2C; casual; occasional emojis ok; hashtags few and far between
    • Instagram – Great for B2B and B2C; super casual; fun; emojis and hashtags expected
    • Pinterest – Great for companies with a visual product (e.g., retail, furniture, artists, realty, food, etc.); fun; interesting; visual

It is okay to post the same topic on multiple platforms – just make sure you change up the caption and the image.

  • The image is more important than the content. Yes, you heard that right (said the former writer by trade). The image is what’s going to capture your audience’s attention first. If it’s not engaging…<scroll>…and they’ll never even get to the content.
  • Create nine non-product/sales-related posts to one product-sales-related post. This may seem counterintuitive at first – given it’s so different than traditional marketing, but this is a best practice. Share tangentially related posts. For example, if you’re in the furniture business, don’t just show a picture of a couch; show a picture of living room that’s designed in a way that inspires and gets the viewer thinking: I want my living room to look like that! Why? Because while social media isn’t about selling, it can be a natural by-product. In this instance, the viewer may choose to click on your shop button to see how much that couch sells for as they start researching how to recreate that awesome room.

Execute your posts, and monitor your community.

With your content calendar in hand, you can easily use a third-party scheduling app to schedule your posts in advance, and then supplement them as things arrive either posting natively (within the social app itself) or within the third-party app.

Take time each day to review your feed on each platform, and engage with or respond to your audience. This helps drive that connection and engagement, and shows them you care enough to like, share or comment on their posts.

How much engagement is enough? There’s no magic number, but interacting with at least 50 posts a day is a good rule of thumb.

Should you have customers or clients reaching out with questions or concerns, make sure you have a process in place for addressing those. Best practices are to respond publicly to the comment, and ask them to contact you directly (non-publicly). Then, make sure you have an escalation process in place for customer service to be able to address the concern and alleviate it.

Once the question has been answered or the concern addressed and alleviated, often times the person will post a follow-up positive comment to their original comment, demonstrating your responsiveness and willingness to help them – turning a potential negative into a positive.

But we’re not finished yet.

So you have your social media strategy, campaign(s) and content calendar, and you’re engaging with your community, but all of that is for naught if you’re not keeping an eye on which content is working well and if your key performance indicators (KPIs) are trending in the right direction.

Now it’s time for analytics. Using your specific social media channel apps, you can capture tons of analytics that will help you understand how well you’re doing on engagement rate (the most important KPI), impressions/views and followers.

Speaking of followers, it’s better to have 100 super-engaged followers than 10,000 unengaged and uninterested followers. You need the right followers. It doesn’t do any good to have followers who aren’t engaged or loyal to your brand. The intent is to attract followers who are interested in and value the content you’re sharing, and who will engage with that content (like, share or comment).

One other thing to note regarding followers: Often times, a company’s geographic limitations and/or niche market may mean they have a finite number of people who even would follow them. For example, a company that markets in only two states or one that sells high-end luxury homes will not be marketing – on social media or any other marketing avenue – nationwide. This limits your pool of followers from the get-go – and that’s okay.

So, rather than focusing on how many followers you have, focus on how engaged they are instead.

What about timing of the reporting?

We recommend developing a quarterly reporting schedule. Social media is fickle. And squishy. And not concrete like traditional marketing tools. This means it’s important to look at trends, not get hung up on the monthly numbers.

By pulling your KPIs quarterly, you’re able to focus on those trends to see if you’re heading in the right direction. A standard fluctuation of 5% up or down is essentially ‘static’ and normal. If you start to see drastic drops (e.g., 20% or more), it’s time to start questioning why.

Look into your specific posts to see which ones are performing well, and reassess your content calendar to develop more of those posts. Research the specific channel to see if there were any algorithm modifications or other changes that may be impacting your results.

Social media is often trial and error to see what your audience responds to, what they like, what posts are going to resonate more with them to increase engagement. Don’t be afraid to experiment. See what works for your company – and your audience.

But always remember to have fun – and to be social! After all, that’s the whole point of this medium: To demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership, educate people about your products and services in a fun, engaging way, and above all, showcase your brand’s personality!

Want to learn more?

Stealth conducts onsite training sessions and hands-on workshops to help companies and groups better understand social media. Reach out to us today to get more info.

And, if you’d like a team of experts to help you develop your social media strategy and develop/execute your content, help with community management and provide quarterly reporting/analysis, we’re always ready and willing to help! Contact us today to learn more.

Our quest to get to know our newest Stealth family members in Joplin, MO, continues with seven questions for Tim Howard, one of our graphic designers. Let’s see how he answers these crazy questions: 

1) Who’s a historical figure you'd like to have a drink with?

Billy the Kid

2) What’s your astrological sign, and do you believe it fits you?

Sagittarius: I couldn’t even tell you what the characteristics of a Sagittarius are; so we can leave that one up for discussion.

3) What makes you laugh no matter what?

Fainting goats. I’ve never seen one in person, but the videos I’ve seen always make me laugh.  

4) What’s the best way to deal with stress?

Get on my motorcycle and ride. Even without a destination, the fresh air and open road just relax me. 

5) What is one goal you hope to achieve in your lifetime?

To grow old (and happy) with my wife. 

6) If you could go on tour with any band or artist who would it be?

Brad Paisley. Because then I could ride on the bus with him and Peyton Manning, and write those cool Nationwide Insurance jingles.

7) What motivates you in life?

My family. Like most people, I want my kids to have “more” than I had growing up. Not necessarily “more” possessions, but more friends, success, happiness and life experiences. I want to be there for them when things are good, but even more so when things are not.

Stay tuned until next time when we quiz yet another member of the Stealth team

Have you ever showed up to a party and immediately felt out of place? We’ve all been there, and no matter how much you try to talk the talk and walk the walk, you stick out like a sore thumb, and leave early.

The internet can be the same way! If you don’t pay close attention, it can quickly feel like you’ve stumbled into an evening party where everyone is in sweats, but you showed up in a black tie or ball gown.

The only difference is the always-on, ever-changing nature of the internet means these trends, symbols and languages change much faster than any other community.

But here’s the good news: You can fit in, and click with your target audience online. Check out our tips to be the life of the party.

Find Your Community

If you want to capture a younger demographic, and turn them into lifelong customers, you need to determine where they’re hanging out. And chances are they probably have a community online.

We get it. It’s tough to learn and be active on more platforms, but here’s the secret no one tells you: Once you find your customers online, you can narrow your focus. If you haven’t found that magical place yet, keep experimenting, keep scrolling, keep trying new things, and keep exploring.

In the process, we promise you’ll gather invaluable information about your audience and the internet itself. The more you experiment, the more confidence you gain online, and the more your fans will be drawn to your presence.

And guess what? Hanging out online is fun! If you find yourself never knowing what to say or post, it probably isn’t the right platform for you. So try a different one; the options are endless.

Don’t Be Afraid

Finding your online community means learning new apps! If you’re frustrated or lost on an app, do some more research (or give us a call 😉 ). If you want your marketing strategies to stick, you need to devote time every day to immerse yourself in the social and digital worlds.

You might spend a few extra minutes (or hours) figuring out how to put up an Instagram story, but once you learn, that tech knowledge will transfer to other digital spaces as well.

Don’t be intimidated by social apps with lots of features; mistakes can be deleted and reuploaded, and almost every social post can be edited. If you stay true to yourself and your brand, your audience will know instantly you’re being genuine, and support your efforts to share knowledge or make connections.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet for the primary platforms:

  • LinkedIn – More formal, great for thought leadership and building B2B relationships.
  • Facebook – Less formal, good for both B2B and B2C awareness, algorithms make it difficult to be seen organically (e.g., without paying to boost/promote your posts).
  • Instagram – Casual, fun, friendly, emoji use expected [add emoji here], great for B2B, with nearly 53% of users following a brand.
  • Pinterest – Image-centric, great for DIY, retail and home furnishing businesses.
  • Google+ – Is being retired around April.
  • Snapchat – Recommended if your target is primarily young Millennials and Gen Z.

But online communities don’t stop there. They live on Reddit, MyFitnessPal, company and industry blogs, podcasts, email campaigns, etc.; the list is endless.

Be Consistent

Building an engaged audience takes time. We know it can be frustrating when you’re not attracting customers as quickly as you’d like, especially if you’re spending a lot of time writing and sharing content.

The thing is the internet can be jaded. Most people don’t end up sticking with posting consistently; so users are hesitant to follow new accounts that don’t have a lot of consistent content.

Prove to your fans you’re in it for the long haul. Create a schedule you can stick to, and make it a priority. It will start at turtle speed, and your reward might not seem worth the effort immediately, but building up a community takes time. Think of it as developing long-lasting friendships instead of instantly finding 10,000 people to invite to your party. Slow and steady does win the race when it comes to building relationships online.

It’s Not Rocket Science – Just a Little Marketing Science

We are your biggest cheerleaders! This isn’t rocket science; it just takes focus and a little knowledge. Anyone can create an engaged community online with a little time, patience and some hard work.

Stealth Creative boasts a social media and digital team who’s wired into the internet. We know what to meme, when to meme, and how to meme, so that your business doesn’t become a meme.

Drop us a line if you want to talk more about your social media marketing – and how we can help!

 

Meet Cameo Harrington, one of our Senior Account Executives in Stealth’s Joplin, MO, office. We asked her to answer seven crazy questions completely unrelated to work to get to know her better. Let’s see how she answered.

1) What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home?

Jamaica – on a cruise with my sister for my 30th birthday. One of my best travel memories ever!

2) What's your favorite comfort drink?

  • 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. = Diet Dr. Pepper
  • 6 p.m. on….Moscato!

3) What are some small things that make your day better?

  • Puppy kisses from my dogs.
  • Texting with my nephews. (They are 6 and 8; so they send VERY random texts!)
  • Getting into my car on a beautiful sun-shiny day, windows down, fun music blaring on the stereo, driving faster than I should. ☀️
  • The smell of fresh-cut grass.

4) What's the most annoying habit people have?

When people walk up to a cash register while talking on their phone! As someone who has worked retail for way longer than I care to admit, I find it SO rude when someone just ignores the person ringing up their purchase. Put down the phone, be friendly, pay attention to what is going on around you; it will only take a few minutes!   

5) If all jobs had the same pay and hours, what job would you like to have?

Could I get paid to just play with puppies all day?!? If so, totally that!

If not, I’ve always thought it would be fun to go back to school, and learn to be a hair stylist…it would be a great way to justify my ever-changing hair color!   

6) What's the strangest thing you've come across?

I’ve lived in Joplin since I was 5 years old. Following the May 22, 2011, tornado that destroyed a large portion of the city, you could drive down familiar streets and not have any idea where you were. I remember sitting at an intersection (that I had driven through almost every day of my driving career) and not being able to tell what street I was on because all the landmarks were gone. It was the strangest combination of feeling familiar…but looking totally wrong.

7) What are you absolutely determined to do?

Be as involved in my nephews’ lives as humanly possible. With no kids of my own, my sister has been very good to let me be a huge part of their lives, and I am forever grateful for that. They are my world!   

Thanks for taking the time to get to know Cameo better.

So this is the conundrum: The age-old question of risk-taking vs. more confidence in decision making. I’m an intuitive marketer, but I’ve done a lot of research along the way, too. I’m intuitive in that I usually know where to start a project and the direction to take, but I love conducting research along the way to inform the decision-making process.

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We’ve all experienced it: Attending – or worse yet, leading – a meeting where the parties are unprepared or under-prepared. It’s a disaster for you, your team – and your customers or clients, as well as a waste of everyone’s time, often resulting in:

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Run for the hills, You-Know-Who is upon us! Heralded by an army of data-eaters, Lord Voldemort has entered the world of marketing to do what he does best: Sowing chaos throughout the land.

No, we aren’t talking about the arch-villain from the famous J.K. Rowling book series (although he would probably approve of his name being applied to such a diabolical concept). We mean the recent popular trend by webizens to purposefully communicate in ways that mislead or subvert analytics algorithms.

It’s called “Voldemorting.” Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of it. It’s fairly new and is only just now being seriously discussed by academics and entrepreneurs alike.

While it might sound silly, there’s nothing fictional or magical about what this means. In a marketing world obsessed with SEO and its many uses when combined with data analytics, this charming little trend could spell the end of digital marketing as we know it if it catches on.

Hold on! Hold on! Don’t get your dragons in an uproar. We, here at Stealth, have an eye on the future and a hand in crafting a better today.

So get your quills out, and prepare to learn all about Voldemorting, and how you can be the Business Who Lived.

Avadaka-Data! How 'Voldemorting' Works

Ok, we know what you must be thinking: “You have GOT to be joking.” Unfortunately, we are deathly serious. User data is a hallowed topic to many consumers, and after the illuminating revelations of Facebook and Twitter’s most recent mismanagement of user data, it’s no wonder the internet has created a “Dumbledore’s Army” of sorts to fight back against corrupt data gathering practices.

Voldemorting gets its devious name from the Harry Potter novels, where characters would replace the name “Lord Voldemort” with phrases like “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”

So how does it work?

According to a recent article, the appropriately named Voldemorting involves users deliberately communicating with language that is easily understood by message recipients, but that changes targeted SEO terms just enough to slip by the algorithms.

For example, if you’ve been following the recent controversy over Gillette’s new ad, you probably won’t be shocked to learn that some particularly angry people are using #Girlette on Twitter as a form of protest.

The usage of the term #Girlette doesn’t immediately register on Gillette’s radar as being related to their brand, so unless they have people doing a deep dive into social media, Voldemorting has allowed people to have a negative conversation about their brand without Gillette being aware. Now Gillette has the resources to dedicate a social media team to search for this stuff. (But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.) Unfortunately, your business may not be able to devote as much time and effort to this.

This doesn’t necessarily impact your position in the search rankings, but instead functions to hide damaging conversations about your brand from your company while allowing them to appear to the general public. In essence, the nature of your SEO has been weaponized against your business.

It’s important to note that the people who are typically engaged in Voldermorting already have a negative disposition towards whatever brand they’re targeting. This means that Voldemorting will almost always result in possible public relations crises being hidden from you. It’s hard to defend your brand when you don’t know your brand is under attack. Sounds like the kind of scenario that keeps your PR manager awake at night, doesn’t it?

This also means your social media analytics (keyword mentions, page views, etc.) are shot. How can you do consumer research and AB testing when internet users are using guerilla tactics to thwart you? If you’re a coffee company and your consumers rebel by exclusively using the term “Bean Juice” to discuss coffee online, where to you turn to for consumer feedback?

It gets worse.

Researcher Emily van der Nagel claims that users aren’t just actively avoiding tripping algorithms, they are also looking to alleviate what she terms “forced connections.” These can be innocuous, like the friend and group suggestions that Facebook offers to more intrusive targeted advertising. Voldemorting obscures user interest, leading to wildly inaccurate consumer targeting.

So now, instead of the sudden replacement of “Coffee” by “Bean Juice” impacting market research, you’re also completely blind as to where to target your advertising.

The good news is Voldemorting has only impacted social media, meaning your Google analytics should still be safe.

But…

At best, this means all that money spent on digital advertising on social networks isn’t as effective as it was. At worst, this means consumer touchpoints are much harder to identify, and consumer acquisition becomes as difficult as catching the Golden Snitch.

Bottom line: Regardless of how frivolous it might sound, the rise of Voldemorting is nothing to laugh at, and certainly something you want to keep an eye on going forward.

Solution 1: The Goblet of Web Search 

So now that you know a little about Voldemorting, it’s time to roll up our robes, and come up with a solution. Sorry Ron, it won’t be as easy as following the spiders this time. We have to blaze our own trail in this brand new world of anti-SEO.

Interestingly enough, a possible solution might come from the very book series that named the scourge we now fight against.

In The Goblet of Fire, a massive goblet is installed in the great hall of Hogwarts to take applicants for a massive wizard tournament. There is an age requirement that all applicants must meet to be entered, and the goblet is enchanted to reject minors in a…shall we say percussive…manner.

Anyway, long story short (and in a spoiler far, far away…), Harry Potter gets picked to compete without being the proper age. The reason? Someone changed the criteria to enter Harry’s name in the goblet.

Now think of SEO as the Goblet of Fire. Any digital marketer worth their salt will tell you to be targeted with your keyword list. The more nuanced, the better.

Voldemorting is so effective because it targets this aspect of SEO. By changing words or phrases ever so slightly, it can pass right through without tripping any alarms. To stick with our metaphor, it works as intended and ensures that only certain people can put their names in the Goblet of Fire.

But what if you were to go against every marketing instinct in your body, and make the SEO terms more general? You wouldn’t even have to go crazy with it, just widen the specificity of SEO terms slightly. Similar to what happened in Goblet of Fire, more people could put their name in the goblet, widening the target audience.

This might take the form of focusing on keywords within your SEO phrases that aren’t easy to change without changing the meaning (e.g., generic descriptions of services, verbs like “does” or “has,” etc.). Or you could simply go more generic.

Sure, you might be picking up conversations that really have nothing to do with your brand, but it’s better than being shut out of the discussion altogether.

While this might be the least efficient method of dealing with Voldemorting, it is the most cost effective.

However, if you have the resources at your disposal, you might just try…

Solution 2: The Half-Blood Algorithm

Ooh! Just reading that gave us chills.

No, we’re not implying you should use some black magic ritual to conjure up more customers. We’re talking about making cyborgs!

Well, kinda.

Algorithms are cold, unfeeling things. They run on heuristics that are programmed based on data available at the moment of creation, and then turned loose into a landscape that changes faster than Professor McGonagall in a transfigurations classroom.

That is why algorithms are so vulnerable to Voldemorting. The nature of the internet allows for people to create infinite combinations of letters and terms; so that new Voldemorts will be appearing constantly. And algorithms can take a lot of time to update if they don’t know what needs to be changed.

That’s why we propose a hybrid approach. It’s fine to use your initial keyword list with their initial SEO heuristics to start. But to keep up with the ever-evolving nature of the internet, you should really have some flesh-and-blood staff devoted to seeking out the weak points in your digital marketing strategy, and fixing them as they appear (sorta like what we discussed with Gillette earlier). You could even make this an extension of your social media department, since that’s were Voldemorting occurs most anyway.

Facebook kinda already does this with its questionable content review system; though its unlikely your business needs to go to such lengths to meet your marketing needs.

Be warned: Depending on the size of your business, this could be quite an investment of both time and resources.

We know this isn’t ideal, and it really is only intended as a stopgap measure until someone develops a more effective method of dealing with Voldemorting. But considering this problem is only just starting to emerge, that might be some time coming.

However, this is quite possibly the most effective method for combating Voldemorting to date.

And unless you want your business to end up as dead as Dumbledore (we’re still shock over that one), you might consider taking a hard look at your current SEO practices, and preparing for the battle to come.

Still terrified He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is out to get your business?

Stealth can help!

We have years of experience in both SEO tailoring and social media management. As one of the first in the industry to have Voldemorting on our radar, we know how to give you a wand up in the digital market. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help.

As always, stay tuned for more tips and tricks (and spells ✨) from Stealth next time we go Off the Radar. 

As the sun set on 2018, 2019 quickly brought us an exciting opportunity! Stealth acquired a new client in Joplin, MO – Freeman Health System. We are so excited to welcome Freeman Health as a Stealth client; they are a wonderful hospital that has been operating since 1925, with a health network that extends into outlying areas.

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The last of the figgy pudding is long gone, and the smoke from the last fireworks has cleared. You know what that means.

It’s time to start the new year! (Yay!)

And that means a whole set of brand-new challenges for your marketing team to tackle! (Smaller yay.)

The beginning of a new year can seem like a daunting time for your business – whether B2B or B2C. What worked last year may not work this year, and for many B2C companies, your performance during the holiday season can drastically alter the way you plan for the coming months.

But what you do in the short term has a crucial impact on that end-of-year internal audit. That’s why we, here at Stealth, are offering you five tips to start off this year’s marketing on the right foot.

1. Touch Base with Your Clients

You think things were crazy during the end-of-year push? Wait ’til you see how your clients fared.

No seriously. Go check on them. Right now.

Just as your marketing needs may have shifted from 2018 to 2019, your clients may also have different needs. It’s a good idea to strike up a conversation to understand what may have shifted – and how your business can best help.

The last thing you want to do is to offer your clients solutions to problems they no longer have. How embarrassing! That’s soooooooo last year.

Your clients will also appreciate the fact you were thinking of them during this hectic time.

Success is literally an email or phone call away. But don’t wait too long!

2. Touch Base With Your Competition 

No, we don’t mean invite them over for tea to discuss trade secrets.

It’s always a good idea to keep your eye on the horizon in case something shifts in your industry that impacts your business. This is especially true as the new year rolls out.

Make sure you give your rivals a good once-over before finalizing your plans for the year. Seeing how they “right the ship” – or hit choppy waters – can contain important lessons for your business as well.

This is doubly so if they do a complete about-face. If your competitors are completely changing up the way they’ve done things for a while, it may be time to assess what’s going on that caused the turnabout, and react accordingly.

For example, if you’re active on social media, you may want to pay attention to the way Facebook disregarded the notion of privacy. Facebook’s recent news debacle involving the way it handed out private information like candy to big-name companies is a perfect example of how not to woo your customer base.

Failing to read the current surrounding rival businesses is a sure way to be left adrift in a changing market.

Don’t get stranded in last year!

3. Touch Base With You

So you’ve figured out what your clients’ needs are, and you’ve figured out what your competitors’ needs are. There’s just one thing missing – your needs!

Now is a great time to pour through all that analytical data you’ve been saving from this year. Put on a pot of coffee, dust off your digital marketing binders (virtual or otherwise) and get settled in for a final marketing review.

Make note of everything you struggled with this year. Did you have trouble getting clicks on certain types of content? Was your traffic count low? Was engagement low on social media? Take a moment to reflect on why that might have been the case. Then determine what you can do differently in 2019 to shore up those weaknesses.

Equally important is looking at what went right. If you created a piece of content that did really well, or you had a dynamite strategy for SEO, how’d you do it? Will it still work for 2019? If so, incorporate it in your strategy for the new year; if not, tweak it a bit to build on the success you saw in 2018.

If something works, don’t be afraid to stick with it.

This next part is important. So if nothing else, pay attention to these next few sentences.

Make goals for the coming year using the strengths and weaknesses you found. What would you like to do better? What do you want to keep doing? Where do you want your business to go?

These goals will help guide the next step of the new-year marketing process…

4. Make a Plan

Yes. It’s finally time to embark on that most crucial of marketing endeavors: Reviewing or formulating your marketing plan for 2019.

Using everything you’ve learned from the previous steps, create a plan of attack – or adjust the one you had. Make sure to include baseline goals, stretch goals and how you plan to achieve them.

Figure out what you’re doing, when you’re going to do it – and who’s going to be in charge of making it happen.

Most importantly: Stick to your plan. If your calendar says ‘go rock climbing to get a grip on the market,’ you better grab your ropes and pitons, and rock out. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Your marketing plan is your company’s most important document for 2019. Plan everything to support your business needs, and do everything according to your plan.

5. Improve Your Connections

Communication is the true currency of business. It’s not what you know. It’s not even who you know. It’s all about who knows you – and respects and values you. And being accessible to your clients and business associates is crucial.

You might think you’re doing it just fine — but when it comes to communication — whether you’re a mom-and-pop shop or Amazon, there’s always room for improvement.

The new year is a perfect time to assess how you’re keeping in touch with everyone you depend on to keep your business moving forward.

Have you been sending out enough emails – and to the right audience? Are you following up on leads as fast as you can? Are you reaching out to your connections on a consistent basis?

The answer is probably ‘not really.’

We know, we know. The year gets into full swing, and sending follow-up emails to potential clients gets pushed to the back of your mind as you find yourself buried under a pile of new projects.

But communication should always be a priority. As we’ve described in a previous post, acquisitions require you to keep your consumer touch points in mind, and strong communication is the best way to do it.

Internal communication isn’t exempt from scrutiny either.

As your employees prepare to embark on another year-long journey with your company, now is the time to open lines of communication to brainstorm new ideas and receive feedback.

Consider offering ways employees can give you feedback. Surveys might seem passé, but they are an efficient way of gathering data about employee attitudes within a business – providing they’re truly confidential and anonymous. Success starts from within with a strong team who works well together.

Make sure your team is starting strong.

Whether you need help combing through your analytics, formulating your marketing plan, or improving your communication channels, Stealth has your back.

Start preparing for the new year now; drop us a line today!

And as always, stay tuned for more great marketing tips and tricks from Stealth next time we go Off the Radar.

Dear Santa,

I’ve decided to ask for something a little different this year. In some ways it may be easier to carry. But it many other ways, it will be harder, and may require a lot of your Christmas magic.

As usual, I ask for a lot, but whatever you can spare will be more than we could ever imagine!

Santa, I wish you could put magic in everyone’s heart.

I want them all to believe for as long as it lasts…believe in you and the hope you offer. Put it in their hearts to spread the magic to one other.

The Seven Cs of Christmas

What I want this Christmas is not a train set or the finest new doll. I want the seven Cs of Christmas for one and for all! 

  1. Contentedness. Be happy. We all are so caught up in what we want; let us be content with what we have, and be grateful for all that is around us.
  2. Connectedness. Help us remember we are all connected – no matter how different we may be! Help us to look at others with love and kindness in all that we do!
  3. Cheer. Look for the good things that happen during the next few weeks, and help us all remember the magic of Christmas might be behind the good cheer!
  4. Courage. Help us to help others! Help us have the courage to find at least one person (or maybe 10) on whom to focus our own Christmas magic; so they, too, can believe!
  5. Charitable. Help us to be generous in some way beyond what we normally do! Generous of our time, our resources or our money!
  6. Cheerfulness. Help us smile a little more! Help us find little ways to cheer up someone’s day – perhaps a child who would otherwise never see magic or an elderly person who’s lost a little of theirs.
  7. Compassion. Give us the compassion to reach out and hug someone who needs a hug or needs a shoulder!

Santa, my sincere wish is that you would share a little Christmas charm in every conversation we have between now and January 1 – that we may show respect for others, and focus on our common ground. I wish this Christmas season we could order up some peace on earth and good will to all – regardless of our differences.

My promise to you is that from now until January 1, I will shut off the news! I will go on a vacation from politics, while still wishing for positivity in our government and offer a sincere wish for better solutions to our problems for all of the good of all mankind.

Santa, I wish everyone would watch those old Christmas favorites: It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol or even A Christmas Story. And Santa, I wish everyone would sing at least once this Christmas season! Put on their hearts those songs that make them feel like they are eight years old again!

Now Santa, all this will take a dose of creativity.

Of all the Christmas Cs above, ‘courage’ is the biggest. Because it will take that courage to spread happiness and kindness and love and generosity! We need to know that with a sprinkling of North Pole Magic…miracles happen. Help us spot them! 

Thank you, Santa! And, Merry Christmas to one and all.

Ah, ROI. It’s the ultimate KPI. And one of the most vexing to figure out.

Sure, the equation is easy: The benefit (or return) of an investment divided by the cost of said investment.

But the definition of the words making up that equation can differ, depending on who you ask.

  • Is the benefit/return equal to hard dollars? A specific action? Or something else?
  • And what about the investment? Is it hours spent? Resources, or hard costs such as printing, media, etc.?

Don’t worry. We’re here to help you figure it all out.

But the first step is determining how your business will define what a successful ROI looks like before you begin your campaign development. Is it calls? Website visits? Purchases? If you don’t know what you want your customers to do, how will you determine your ROI?

Assessing Your ROI

Once you’ve settled on what you’re measuring, the fun begins: Developing your campaign and all of its associated tactics, the latter of which can be difficult to attribute what worked well and what…didn’t so much. 

Here are some tried-and-true ways for determining which tactics were the winners:

1) Tracking

Alright. You’ve written the ads, enhanced your website, or done what was needed to make the desired action easy to complete.

Now it’s time to track everything. And we mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

  • Website visits – including which pages are receiving the most traffic
  • Online purchases or actions
  • Abandoned pages
  • Time on site
  • Phone calls
  • Email statistics, including open, click-through rates, subject lines

2) Developing the Campaign

With insights in-hand, now it’s time to figure out which avenues present the best opportunity for integrating into the actions you want your audience to make. This may include a new section or messaging on your website, an email series, TV or radio ads, press releases/media outreach, direct mail or a social media push – or all of the above.

Remember: The media you use should align with where your customers will most likely see (or hear) the messaging you’ve created.

3) Pre-Market Testing

Before launching your campaign for the masses (or your niche audience), start by understanding what your target market considers valuable.

Email, a poll on your website, or paying attention to what your followers are saying on social media are all relatively low-hanging fruit.

If time or budget allow, more in-depth tactics like focus groups or outbound call surveying can deliver even more nuanced insights.

No matter what method you select, any pre-market testing is better than none because this will serve as the starting-point for all messaging that will resonate with your audience.

4) Post-Market Testing

Once the campaign has run its (smashingly successful) course, it’s time to bust out the abacus (or spreadsheets) to debrief and compare what your initial baseline research indicated vs. how your audience actually responded.

But diving into the numbers isn’t as easy as expecting Google (or Alexa) to give you an answer.

What works for one audience may not work for another, and what one company has found to be their saving grace might take the wind out of another’s sails. It takes testing, trial, and yes, even error, to ultimately find the right marketing mix and message that resonates with your target audience.

5) Adjust Your Tactics

After assessing how your audience responded to your marketing tactics, it’s time to figure out what can be tweaked in the future.
  • Did one type of subject line perform better than another?
  • Did you get all the website traffic you wanted, but not as many sales?
  • Did the video you made not have as many full views as expected?
This type of deep dive will help make sure the messaging, frequency and media used next time are more on point. But…to ensure you’re able to determine if those adjustments work, you’ll need to modify one thing at a time vs. everything at once – otherwise, you’ll be right back where you started.

6) Reassess Your Results

Once you adjust and run another campaign, it’s time to once again reassess (not to be confused with recess, which is admittedly a little more fun) your results – and compare those to your initial results. Because you’re smart and followed our advice, you just modified one thing, making it easy to figure out whether or not that adjustment worked in your favor.

Then it’s time to adjust and assess, and adjust and assess again until you have it mastered.

To effectively execute the steps outlined above takes time and investment. And while tracking should be present in any marketing venture, there are ways to tailor your pre- and post-market testing to fit your company’s budget – and objectives.

Not sure where to start? We do – and how to finish.

Drop us a line today, and as always, stay tuned for more tips from Stealth next time we go Off the Radar.

If your business has a social media strategy that includes Facebook, you may want to consider scaling way back or even bailing on the platform altogether.

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“It’s time to ‘gobble’ up savings with these great Black Friday deals! You don’t want to be caught ‘winging’ it this Thanksgiving!” 

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We’ve heard the legend too many times to count. The lone social media marketer, clicking away at their phone keyboard deep into the night. They are essential, but your company – and that lone wolf – deserves more.

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“You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.”

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Well, it’s that time of year again: Fourth quarter marketing audit time. A time of extra coffee, the pulling of proverbial teeth, and long nights spent compiling four quarters worth of marketing analytics into an investor-friendly report.

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StealthInfoGraphic_Social_ThumbnailWith nearly 4 billion active users on social media, not having a presence is like conducting a conference call with a bag phone. 

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If you looked up “Marketing Audit” in the dictionary, you may see a description like: “See ‘pulling your hair out.’”

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A couple of weeks ago, the PGA held their 100th Championship in St. Louis. The entire community took on a festive atmosphere with the Goodyear Blimp overhead and busses ferrying spectators to and fro.

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Keeping a constant eye on the world of marketing technologies, or MarTech for short, can be a never-ending task. Every business is looking for ways to set themselves apart from the competition, and using technology is a great way to do it. 

New technologies are coming faster than ever before. And as technology changes, so do the things your business needs to do for success. But in a world saturated by MarTech, where do you turn?

Well, we’ve got good news. The supersonic pace of digital marketing trends may seem overwhelming, but it’s really about what works best for you.

So let’s put your fears to rest with these tips on how to keep up with digital marketing.

Pare it Back

Augmented reality, virtual reality, ads on streaming music services, ads on virtual assistants, traditional email marketing, social media marketing, and more. Where does it end? How can you possibly do it all?

Psst. Here’s a secret. You ready? You’ll want to write this down:

You don’t need all of it.

The most successful businesses are the ones that realize which marketing strategies work best for them. 

Like people, businesses each have their own style. And when you find yours, it just works.

For example, if you’re a local ice sculptor (a popular career choice, we know), it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to focus on VR technology. Sure, a 3D swan made of ice is pretty cool (no pun intended), but do you really need all that expensive hardware when a photo catalog will do? Chances are you aren’t looking for customers outside of your immediate area, and you probably have the market cornered (let’s be honest, here). In this case, a simple bit of software that helps organize customer orders will suffice.

Now if you’re a regional or national chain store, you need to go that extra mile to separate yourself from the competition. Building your own burger with an Augmented Reality Wendy’s app? That sounds like a hot idea (ok, this time it was intentional).

So don’t feel like you’re missing out if you aren’t keeping up with all the latest advances in MarTech. Remember, you know what your business needs better than anybody else.

Veni, Vidi, Vici

While blindly following every new MarTech trend isn’t recommended, successful businesses ought to keep an open mind towards new trends in their particular field.

Knowledge is power, and knowing what the options look like in your industry puts you that much closer to dominating it.

Subscribing to a trade magazine or following the social media posts of thought leaders in your industry are great ways to stay informed about the latest trends and happenings in your sector.

You might even discover some new trick or technique you’ve never thought of before. (For example, a “Build Your Own Ice Swan” feature on your website (if we’re continuing with the ice sculptor theme). Sometimes something simple is all it takes, and you’ll find that old-school MarTech can be combined with new applications for a truly great strategy.

Trade shows are another great way to stay up on the latest trends. (Are there ice sculptor trade shows?) This allows you to keep up to date on the direction your industry is heading, and network at the same time. If you have something particularly noteworthy to share, you might wind up being the business other businesses come to for advice.

But remember, if you’re paying attention to your business landscape, you can be sure your competition is as well. There really is no reason you shouldn’t be keeping an ear to the ground. It’s sure to give you the edge needed to stand out and conquer your field.

Crossing the Rubicon

You might be subscribed to all the popular trade magazines. You might be better at ignoring MarTech hysteria than LeBron is at ignoring Cleveland. But there are still only so many hours in the day.

The biggest challenge businesses face in choosing how to use MarTech, is recognizing when you have too much to handle alone.

There will come a point where you’ll have to choose between keeping your icy creations from melting too soon, or devoting increasing amounts of time and resources towards finding, creating and implementing a custom digital marketing strategy.

This is a good problem to have. It’s the sign of a healthy, growing business.

We know: Handing your MarTech over to someone else is a big decision. But if your business refuses to seize the day by asking for help, further growth is just going to get harder and harder.

You don’t want to pick just anybody to run your MarTech strategy. You’ll want someone who knows your industry and your needs – and who’s willing to work with you to meet your goals.

Stealth keeps tabs on a variety of industries; so we’re always in the know on the latest trends. Whether your business is big or small, we know just how to find which MarTech works best for you, and how to help you get the most out of it.

So when you finally decide to cross your Rubicon and claim your business empire, drop us a line, and let us be your legion.

As always, stay tuned for more great tips next time we go Off the Radar.

You’re great! No really, you are. We know it; you know it; but if people aren’t visiting your website, how will they know it?

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Web design is the Netscape of the digital world. 

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Now that you have a better idea of where in the consumer journey your clients are losing interest (hint-hint, it’s in Part 1), it’s time to crank those conversion rates as high as they can go!

Conversion rates are a useful statistic for any successful business.

A lot of businesses struggle with static or falling conversion rates. Not to worry! A low conversion rate doesn’t necessarily portend doom for a business, but it can be an indicator that something isn’t right.

If your conversion rates are stuck in neutral – or worse – try one of these four tactics to get them in the gear you want.

1) Error 404: Consumer Not Found

We’ve all been there: You’re shopping online, and click on a link for a DVD rewinder offering. But instead of being greeted by a colorful listing advertising low, low prices, you get a bland error page telling you your broadband took a wrong turn somewhere. How infuriating!

Well, maybe you’ve never needed to buy DVD rewinders, but the concept still holds true.

But the 404 experience doesn’t have to be like that. Did you know your business can design its own 404 page to be displayed in the event your webpage is unreachable? (This happens more often than you might think.) Well you can, and you should use it as an opportunity to keep your customers engaged.

A few simple lines of copy like: “Congratulations! You’ve found our secret webpage! But you know what isn’t a secret? Our great deals!” can turn an otherwise unpleasant experience into an amusing one that lessens the frustration of not being able to reach your webpage. But more importantly, it creates a desire for visitors to give your business another chance.

Here’s a website with great examples of fantastic 404 pages to help you learn to error with style.

2) Don’t Cut the Coupons

Not surprisingly, a big part of customer conversion is customer retention. Just because a customer bought something from you once, doesn’t guarantee they’ll do it again.

But if you entice them to continue buying from you with limited-time deals available on the “thank you” page after they make a purchase, they are more likely to return. In fact, a study demonstrated 6 out of 10 customers claim these deals as the reason for staying loyal to a brand. Doing this for the first few purchases goes a long way towards ensuring they stay converted.

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of businesses don’t make this a priority, and they miss the mark.

3) Can the CAPTCHAs!

Now this may seem a bit counterintuitive, but hear us out: CAPTCHAs. Are. Not. User-friendly.

We know, we know, you need those confounded contraptions to keep all the spambots at bay. But requiring your customers to prove they aren’t robots by typing the Fibonacci sequence backwards while standing on their head and barking like a dog isn’t a great way to make them want to buy something from you.

All right, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but the reality isn’t much better. Let’s look at an example.

Just recently we were trying to set up an email account for a Stealth employee. When we got to the registration page it asked us to fill out a seven-letter CAPTCHA. The letters were warped beyond all recognition, and at one point we had three people pouring over it trying to figure out what to type. Eventually we tried (and failed) to type the CAPTCHA, and they gave us a new one that was 12 letters long – 12!

Imagine if that had been your customer. After two attempts they’d probably never consider using your business again!

But don’t take our word for it. A new study suggests using CAPTCHAs can actually drop your conversion rates by 3%!

Yes, you’ll be dealing with more spam, but your conversion rates will thank you.

4) Move It or Lose It

A lot of ad agencies will tell you the key to eCommerce conversion is creating a sense of urgency. They even recommend things like putting up fake timers to drive a customer’s stress through the roof and nudge them towards making an impulse buy out of fear.

As it turns out, this is more transparent than you might think. Customers can be turned off by these cheap sales tactics.

The real timer starts counting down once a customer makes up their mind to make a purchase from you, and you’re the one on the clock! At this point, customers have decided they want the product, and they want it now! The worst thing you can do is make them wait.

Speeding up your landing pages and simplifying your checkout process are two great techniques to streamline the whole ordeal, ensuring your customer makes a purchase before they close their minds (and their wallets) to anything your business offers. Remember: Buying from your business should be an enjoyable experience. Make sure it’s hassle free!

By the way, Stealth has tons of experience in designing landing and checkout pages that will keep your customers hooked until you can reel them in.

While these four tips are a great start, there are way more tricks for boosting your conversion rates that didn’t fit in this post. If you want to know more, drop us a line today, and stay tuned for more great advice from Stealth next time we go Off the Radar.

Every business struggles with converting leads into customers to a certain extent.

And unless you’re the exception to the rule, we want to explain why (and shake your hand).

In this two-part series, we’ll discuss some common problems businesses experience when trying to convert customers, as well as the strategies for boosting and maintaining conversion rates.

In Part 1, we’ll be focusing on consumer touchpoints, which we’re defining as any contact a consumer has with your business or brand.

The Magic Touch

You’re most likely familiar with the common touchpoints: Your actual brand, social media presence, your advertising and even your website content.

Still, conversions may elude you, even if you’re on top of maintaining these, leading to the universal ¯_(ツ)_/¯ 

As it turns out, there are a whole lot of touchpoints on the “hi to buy” journey, and a single slip up at any of these steps can be an instant turnoff for potential clients

These touchpoints can be anything from old signage to getting directions to your business from Google.

Individually these irksome things may seem minor, but if there are a lot of them, they tend to snowball into an infuriating mess. The last word you want people using to describe your business is “annoying”!

But have no fear! Here are some pro tips to help you assess and fix some of the most common touchpoint issues – turning customer chagrin into a customer win.

Can You Hear Me Now?

We’ve all been there: Calling a customer support line only to come away with a bad taste in your mouth and a rising temper. 

Your phone line is a crucial point of contact between a consumer and your business. Whether they need more information or wish to engage your services, a real hang-up here can lead people to tune out your business.

People want friendly, reliable customer support. But they don’t always get it. Luckily, there’s an easy way to check under the hood from time to time to ensure a smooth-running operation.

Have someone call in and pose as a potential customer. If they report problems, you’ll need to work with your team to ensure they reflect the quality your business represents.

We know this sounds a whole lot like an episode of Undercover Boss. But keeping on top of your customer service is a must if you want to stay on top of the conversion game.

Take the Short Road Home

In the age of connectivity, GPS has become an essential part of our day-to-day navigation needs.

But what if the location we enter into Google Maps doesn’t have a clear route to it?

If you don’t stay up to date on getting people to your door, you’re liable to end up as lost as your customers when trying to figure out where they’ve all gone.

Take time every once in a while to look up these things, and correct as needed. Keeping your customers’ commute in mind will help ensure that when it comes to conversion, you’re always in the driver’s seat.

Being a Social (Media) Butterfly

Ok, we’ll be the first to admit that not every company can operate a social media account like Wendy’s. Just because you aren’t roasting the competition, however, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt to engage with customers.

Social media offers an unprecedented opportunity to receive and respond to consumer feedback.

As one of the few opportunities for two-way interaction between your brand and your customer base, you can’t afford to skimp on devoting resources to a robust presence on social media. You can even use social media to drive consumers into other touchpoints you highlight. 

We often encounter businesses that will throw up an account with consumer comments disabled and just a post or two containing a short company bio with a link to their business’ website. If you aren’t interacting with your customers, you’re missing the whole “social” part of “social media.” If ever there was a justification for a facepalm, it would be this right here. (If your company did a good job of using social media, you’d know what we’re talking about.)

Ignoring a touchpoint as important as this tells your customers you’re out of touch.

Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave

If you guessed this next section has something to do with websites, you’re absolutely right! Specifically, we’re talking about your website.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Your website is your brand.

Your brand itself is THE most important touchpoint a consumer has. So imagine being a frustrated consumer trying to figure out how to navigate through a clutter of poorly placed tabs and broken links. Yikes!

A lot of businesses build spiffy websites meant to showcase their company’s capabilities. But if you sacrifice user-friendliness for that cool new look, you might be paying for more than just a clever URL.

If customers have trouble clicking through your webpages, you can be sure they will take their surfing (and their business) somewhere else. 

We understand how difficult it is to design a webpage that really works for a business. It can take time and resources your business may not have. But because – say it with me – your website is your brand, it’s a project well worth it!

Lucky for you, Stealth has years of experience in designing websites that are both stylish and functional.

But wait! There’s more! Stealth offers customer journey mapping to help you figure out ALL of the touchpoints where your business could stand to improve, from big to small.

If you want to find out more, drop us a line today. And stay tuned for Part 2 of our Conversion series where we’ll be discussing creative ways to raise the roof on conversion rate

Recently I packed up my yoga mat and hiking shoes and headed southwest to the sleepy mountain town of Eureka Springs, AR. I’d signed up for the Women’s Full Moon Retreat for a weekend of introspection and relaxation. I will have to say, any retreat revolving around moon cycles seems a bit out there for me – spoiler alert: There were snakes, topless women and a few ticks – but, I was looking forward to peace, quiet and some yoga.

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The New York Times CEO Mark Thompson made a shocking announcement this past February: In the face of economic adversity, the print edition of The New York Times, one of the nation’s most widely circulated newspapers, may cease to be.

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Recently, someone confided in me that their company was a hard place to work. “Why?” I asked innocently – maybe – or maybe not!

I love to accumulate these stories because it reaffirms my conviction about my days in corporate America. It was so bloody hard…to quote our friends across the pond!

Why was it so hard? Everyone in the company constantly second-guesses every decision. That’s not only stressful, but also rapidly starts to get into office politics – managing up and managing peers and managing a team and managing the work!

Is that enough managing for you? It sounds ineffective – not to mention exhausting – to me.

Let Me Tell You A Story…

In one of my first jobs as a manager I had a great boss, Bob (name changed to protect the innocent), who was analytical and finance based. Come to think of it, every boss I’ve had was analytical and financed based, which is wrong, but that’s fodder for another blog.

So, here I was barely out of college, and this guy’s expression often brought to mind a cartoon bubble over his head, reading, “Are you sure?” Why? He didn’t want to make a mistake. He was barely out of MBA school, and he really didn’t want me to make a mistake either.

I think as an employee, I tried even the best person’s nerves. Why? I was constantly offering tons of ideas and different (non-analytical) ways to look at problems. I was the opposite of a linear thinker. In fact, they once sent me to a training program about how to communicate in a straight line. It was quite effective, but I ended up with a tick.

Back to the story…so I said: Bob, this isn’t going to work for me. I am about to launch this campaign, media buy, mail piece, big event, fill in another project, and you are just now asking: Are you sure?

No. No one can ever be 100% sure! But, I’m relatively confident in the campaign approach, yes – otherwise, I wouldn’t be launching it. Instead, what if we debrief after the campaign vs. second-guessing right before launch and causing delays? We shook on that deal quickly and never looked back.

The reason I’m sharing this story is to illustrate that you cannot be a very good marketer if you can’t get the campaign launched because of internal roadblocks – or politics!

So let’s look at some ideas that worked for me in a far off time and crazy land called Corporate America!

Rule 1: Don’t Stop A Project On The Start Line; Instead, Rehash And Debrief On The Finish Line.

This makes for a good partnership between analytical types and high performers because both love metric-driven campaigns.

Pro tip: To be able to debrief, you must set up metrics before your campaign launches.

Rule 2: Set Up Time To Keep Your Boss Informed!

I preferred one-on-one meetings weekly with a standing agenda. I would print it out/email it to the boss ahead of time, which allowed him to add anything he wanted to talk about as well. This organized approach helps drive connection and seek input into performance without the second-guessing or input coming at the wrong time. Pro tip: Here’s a sample agenda you could use:

AGENDA

    1. Staff challenges/concerns
    2. Project/campaign discussion
    3. Ideas I have!
    4. Boss’ pain points? (Remember, your boss most likely has a boss, too!)
    5. Metrics from last projects/campaigns
    6. Agree on top priorities until the next meeting

Rule 3: Keep The Boss Informed And In The Loop To Avoid Surprises Or Confusion That Cause Internal Roadblocks.

There are some widely held beliefs that managing your boss or ‘managing up’ into the organization is negative. It’s implied that people who manage up well are horrible at managing everything else; they are just politicking up.

While, each situation is different, and this may be the case in some instances, what I’m talking about here is dispelling this belief. Your position, as a manager, is to keep everyone informed, but most importantly, to keep the boss informed.

Pro tip: One way to avoid being painted with the ‘managing up’ swath is to make sure you don’t go around bragging about how well you manage up or how well you manage your boss. Just do it, and call it keeping everyone in the loop to stay on the same page throughout the project/campaign. Bosses can be very insecure; so be sensitive to the optics, while ensuring you get your job done – and done well.

Rule 4: Assessments Are Your Friend.

I am an advocate of assessments. The first thing I do on my first day at a new job – and still to some extent in the entrepreneurial world – is talk with my new boss to give him or her insight into my strengths/weaknesses. I offer an assessment that explains how the boss can best manage and motivate me.

This can be a great way to not only share how you’d like your boss to manage and motivate you, but also what you’d rather a boss not do. For example:

    • I don’t respond well to micromanaging. I will keep you in the loop throughout projects/campaigns so there’s never a reason for second-guessing that can delay a project or campaign launch.
    • I have had great success analyzing a project/campaign after when we have results, which enables us to adjust for the next one.
    • Let’s set a plan now for continuous improvement.

Add your own spin to this list to set the stage from the get-go as to what will work and what you know won’t to ensure your boss and company get the most out of your performance. My superiors loved this approach and so did my subordinates.

Pro tip: There are a lot of assessment tools out there, such as CliftonStrengths or RichardStep Strengths and Weaknesses Aptitude Test (RSWAT), and you can do this very easily. Try it for yourself to see how insightful it can be. And then, get to the point you can talk about it: “These are my operating instructions. This is how you get the most performance out of me!” Who would say no?

 Rule 5: Get A Mentor!

People love to help one another. Please let the universe confirm this! Peace, love and apple pie – I do believe that. Find someone you admire or someone that has done it before. Someone like that can really give you a roadmap.

Pro tip: The truth of the matter is: You have to work for quite a few frogs before you find someone who is brilliant to learn from and work with through the end of your career.

In general, I think the higher you go in an organization, the better the boss. There are several reasons for this: First, lack of widespread managerial training. Second, I think management is a skill some people have and others learn, but everyone is not a good manager. Some of my most valuable lessons came from working for really bad examples. The good news is people like that can make subordinates look fantastic!

The Bottom Line

While there’s no one right way to navigate the politics of the business world, these five rules should help put you on the right path. I wish you luck in working the internal maze of corporate America!

Want to chat more? Reach out today.

Now that we’ve covered your perspective on fatigue with your own brand and materials, it’s time to dive into the mind of your customer.

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We took some time out to chat with Jack Eschmann, Account Coordinator extraordinaire, and ask him seven random questions. Let’s see how he answered:

1) If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Write more songs, work on my storytelling and spend time with my nocturnal wife.

2) What fictional place would you most like to go?

The peaceful future universe from the end of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

3) When was the last time you climbed a tree?

Just over a year ago, when posing for engagement photos (key word: posing). 

4) If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, which would give you the best chance to win a medal?

Model railroading.

5) What would be your first question after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years?

“Do people still do guitar solos?”

6) Who’s your go-to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?

This week: Joe Walsh. Next week: Who knows?

7) What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?

MTV.

How about you? How would you answer those questions?

Google “fatigue,” and you’ll find several meanings for the word: Exhaustion, extreme tiredness, reduced efficiency.

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I am a goal-oriented person. I set goals in every area of my life.

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During the past several years, the term ‘personas’ has undoubtedly popped up in your marketing- and sales-related conversations. But what in the world are personas? And are they really necessary for successful marketing and sales efforts?

The answer? Yes!

What is a buyer persona?

Let’s start by explaining the term. A buyer persona is simply a way of ‘putting a face – and a personality’ to your primary buyers, customers or clients – to humanize them, make them more ‘real,’ and enable you to create content that will appeal directly to them.

This semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer is based on real data with some educated speculation thrown in to flesh out the persona’s demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals.

Why do I need personas for my marketing efforts?

Personas go beyond the squishy, intangible idea of “a customer” or “our customers,” and, instead, give you insight into a specific target customer’s thoughts. This helps you understand the process and criteria that persona uses when weighing options before choosing a solution.

After all, knowledge is power.

And by understanding who, specifically, your ideal customer is (e.g., female, between 40 and 50, mid-level management, 15 years experience, white-collar environment, college-educated, etc.), you begin to see them as an actual person – not just “a customer.” And, you better understand what they’re seeking in terms of solutions for their challenges (e.g., quality, customized products that free-up time, money and resources). Now, you can better create content and tailor all of your marketing and sales efforts to meet your customer where they are in their buying process, or journey.

This enables you to develop content that connects with your ideal customer, which can lead to more conversions from prospect to lead to customer.

Developing your buyer personas

Ready to create your own buyer personas to enhance your marketing efforts? It all starts with research – whether quantitative, online surveys of your current clientele or qualitative, in-person focus groups for a true discussion or both types of research – it’s important to understand your customers in detail before creating your personas.

And, that research is often more in-depth than you may think, forming the perfect intersection between art and science – with an emphasis on the science.

Download our latest whitepaper, by Stealth Insights Director Paul Petersky, to learn more about the transition in the past few years from segmentation to persona development, and the reason for using archetypes vs. grouping customers by a common set of behaviors or attitudes.

And then once you have your customer research analysis in hand, you can complete your persona grid:

Persona grid

From there, you can craft your buyer persona story, fleshing out additional details to truly bring your customer to life: 

Heather HR Director has 15 years experience in HR, understands best practices and trends, and is always seeking ways to improve the HR practices at her company through online and printed thought-leadership articles, HR conferences and networking with other HR professionals – even though she struggles to find the time to do so. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, but her unwillingness to say ‘no’ often causes her to work late into the night and over the weekend.

Additionally, she sees her budget shrinking year after year, and her team being asked to do more with less. Because she hasn’t been able to increase her staff for the past several years, she – and her team – wear many hats and are spread extremely thin. As such, she’s constantly on the lookout for quality, effective, but customized, hiring, compliance, HRIS and benefit solutions that will save her team money and time, and free up resources, while still enabling her to be a part of the process/solution.

Take the time to think through all of your potential target customers. Think about who they typically are, what they enjoy, what they’re tasked with in their work role, what may interfere in that, what challenges they face and what a day in the life of that customer would look like. Then, assign them a name, work through the persona worksheet, and craft your persona story. 

Create your content!

At this point, you’re ready to assess your editorial content calendar to determine if the existing topics actually fit the personas you’ve created – or if it’s time to modify or even start from scratch to develop content that truly resonates with your buyer personas.

Want some help with that process? Stealth is happy to assist you with the research and buyer persona creation. Just shoot us a message or give us a call at 314.480.3606

I spent 26 years in an extremely linear world. What is a linear world, you ask? Oh my, the places I will take you! Financial places, engineering places, hospital places, insurance places.

Linear places.

In these linear places, I was coached – yes, coached – on how to think and communicate linearly. Thinking back on that now, it seems so crazy to me. It’s like shutting down one of my basic senses.

People who think linearly may say things like:

• That’s the way we’ve always done it.
• Don’t ask me why; just do it!

Nowadays, more people are being coached about how to think in a non-linear fashion. Want to go non-linear for awhile? Follow around a two-year old for a day!

Defining linear thinking

Linear thinking put things in order as experienced and then expresses thoughts the same way. This type of thinking proceeds in a sequential manner, like a straight line. After all, a straight line between two points is the most efficient way to get from one place to another, right?

The challenge with that is that life – and work – doesn’t follow a straight line.

Working in linear places made me realize how different creative people and marketing people can be, and both sides know it right away. Getting quickly to the issue: It’s why manufacturers find it hard to market their products. The two types of thinkers find it hard to communicate because they view things completely differently and think very differently. They speak different ‘thinking’ languages.

Non-linear thinking is much more fun

Ok, my bias, granted, but here’s how non-linear thinking is defined:

Human thought characterized by expansion in multiple directions, rather than in one direction. Non-linear thinking is based on the concept that there are multiple starting points from which one can apply logic to a problem.

For example, here’s how to approach a problem thinking non-linearly:

1. Define the problem as many ways as you can! How can you think about the problem differently? How would an engineer look at the problem? How would a mother look at the problem?

2. Think of all the ways you could tackle the problem. Think of it from as many perspectives as possible.

3. Read articles you find about your problem.

4. Talk about it with others over coffee. This allows you to network and hear others’ viewpoints, which may spark something you hadn’t thought about yet, while building relationships.

5. Ask questions. Research who else is talking about this problem? What are they thinking?

6. Start to link and make connections between all the diverse information you are accumulating.

Non-linear thinking extends to many different areas as well. How many books do you read at once? How many ideas can you come up with before settling on one concrete concept?

Creativity lives in a non-linear world

I don’t like the sameness, the predictability. I LOVE to mix it up! How can we break out of the linear? How can we throw people out of their comfort zones?

I believe this makes people explore new thoughts, new ideas, maybe invent something that has never been done before! Most linears I’ve met begin to see how this can be beneficial – and maybe even fun – even if it is outside of their comfort zones.

It’s important to embrace the differences between the two types of thinkers. Linear people like order and process, and for roles that need that (think accounting and project managers), this is a critical skill set.

Conversely, if you want to invent something new, try something new or sell something new, we non-linears are the ones to bring to the party. Sometimes we might be difficult to follow, but we will take your business to new heights.

The key is being open to the other’s way of thinking, appreciate the differences and find the common ground so we can speak the same language. Let’s explore this together to see what we can accomplish.

Now, go forth, and be creative.

When brainstorming a blog name, there are thousands of ideas that come to mind. The most important aspect to remember is staying true to your brand. Yes, even blogs have a brand image.

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You may have noticed how obsessed with real-time video content everyone is these days. The ability to simultaneously record content and broadcast it to viewers is literally changing the world.

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“Why should I pay $15k for a website when I can hire a freelance web designer to create one for a few thousand.”

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Skateboarding, believe it or not, is one of my favorite pastimes. I’m known as the Tony Hawk of the office. In fact, when I’m not working, you can find me outside Stealth Creative gliding through the city streets on my board, the wind flowing through my hair, the adrenaline rushing through my bloodstream. Yes, I am that cool.

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I once worked for a brilliant leader who had a saying: A’s are good in high school but bad in business. This was something he said often and was meant to be thought provoking.

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Repeat this to yourself. Make it your mantra: “My website is my brand. My website IS my brand.”

It’s the cornerstone of any brand’s identity. Yes, even yours.

And, statistically speaking, your website is one of the first places a customer will interact with your company as they begin their buying cycle. (more…)

Stop marketing like it’s 1999! I know we all miss the microscopic unemployment rate and the soaring stock market of that time, but things have changed – especially in the marketing world.

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Your website needs work. There. We said it. Somebody had to. But here’s the thing: So does every website. Here are 6 Signs You Need to Redo Your Website.

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With back-to-school season upon us, I can’t help but flash back to the days of backpacks, sharp pencils and the first-day-of-school jitters. When I reflect on having young children, I can’t help but feel there is a critical person who gets lost in these annual weeks of stress: The working parent.

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We took a few minutes from the chaotic schedule Dan O’Saben, our Executive Creative Director, to ask him some of life’s most important questions.

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Whether you’re marketing a super-exciting new product, or providing an essential, everyday service, a strong social media plan should be one of the fixtures of your marketing strategy.

But for all the convenience and connectivity social media offers, it might seem tricky — even daunting — to wrap your head around forging a plan to use it effectively for your business.

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Like it or not, an effective marketing plan is only complete with a well-thought-out social media plan.

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We’ve already covered (and you’ve already read) why video content is a crucial component of any worthwhile marketing plan.

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Video: the media we love to consume. How much do we love it? So much that YouTube reports mobile video consumption rises 100% every year.

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Here it is: the final segment of our Agency/Client relationship series. We’ll be covering the ever-crucial task of assessing your agency’s body of work. You can catch up on our posts about deciding if you need an agency, choosing the right agency and maintaining your marketing agency relationship in case you missed them.

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Now that we’ve covered how to decide if you need an agency, and understand the questions to ask … what’s next?

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Hundreds of digital marketers immersed themselves in a two-day convention at historic Union Station in downtown St. Louis.

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Welcome to Part II of our Client/Agency Relationship series. We’ve already covered how to decide if you need an agency. Now let’s talk about how to choose the right agency for you.

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Seasons greetings from all of us here at Stealth! Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season and happy New Year!

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Every good marketer knows that they must look at industry trends and consumer insights to drive their brand research. However, the process of gathering data to guide your marketing decisions can be pretty intimidating. And while formal focus groups with seasoned moderators can bring enormous insights to your brand positioning strategy, they also bring big price tags.

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A few years ago, my marketing director and I had the opportunity to pitch the idea of social media to my then boss, who was the head of sales. I’ll never forget his response: Twitter? That’s that thing where people say they just had a tuna sandwich for lunch? No thanks.

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Deciding between in-house staff or a creative agencySo you have a marketing need. Now the big question: Does it make more sense to engage a creative agency to help with your marketing efforts or hire employees with the expertise directly?

The answer? It depends.

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Marketing to millennials: Top 5 essential components

Millennials. Those mystifying individuals born between 1980 and 1999. Once dismissed as a non-entity in the business world, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have little choice these days but to sit up and take notice to this generation who now holds 20% of the management roles in companies – and, who recently surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. workforce.

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Your business might be drawn to the allure of promoting your services through TV commercials. But there’s probably one thing holding you back: the budget.

You can still push forward. There are plenty of ways to create an impressive commercial on a budget.

If you’re interested in creating a broadcast commercial for your company, but don’t want to break the bank, listen up—the main factors associated with commercial costs are preparation and production.

Below are some helpful steps and guidelines to help affordably broadcast your message to the masses.

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“I have a solid strategy and a quality product or service. I don’t need video to help sell it.”

This is a common thought of many online entrepreneurs. While it may be true that you have a killer product or service, video is an essential component in your marketing strategy.

With online video accounting for 50% of all mobile traffic, the benefits of video for your company are too massive to ignore: video is persuasive, searchable and builds trust with your target. And its potential is only going to grow. Video advertising on desktop devices alone is expected to grow 21% annually until 2019.

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The life of a graduating advertising student is a stressful one.

Finals, papers and massive group projects dominate those precious last weeks. And through the middle of it all we’re expected to write cover letters, set up interviews and land internships?

Crazy.

“But that’s The Biz, bud,” I keep telling myself. Thicken up that skin, beef up that portfolio. Now is the time to hit the ground running and find an agency that (hopefully) likes the way my brain works and (hopefully) wants me on their team.

Luckily for me, I found Stealth Creative. Or rather, Stealth Creative found me.

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What is your strategy for gaining more subscribers? If you don’t have a strategy, now’s the time to create one. It’s a crucial component for the cable business. Or any business for that matter. 

With the looming threat of cord-cutters to the cable industry, gathering and retaining cable subscribers can be a challenge. A challenge worth tackling, however.

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Copywriters had it easy 40 years ago.

An amazing turn of phrase? Run with it. 

A concept stoked in vanity that was kind of in a way related to the product being marketed? Sure.

It was a free-for-all. As long as it sold, as long as it moved the profit needle, that’s all that mattered.

Then along came instant Big Data and all of its insights.

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Lazy. Entitled. Egotistic. Narcissistic.

Those are some of the more positive words used to describe Millennials.

Say what you will about them, but one thing cannot be denied: Their purchasing power.

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A few years ago, “SoLoMo” was bandied about as the direction savvy SEOers should take.

Fast forward to present day and it’s still the case, only in a more refined state.

For those that weren’t paying attention at the beginning of this decade, “SoLoMo” is comprosed of three parts:

  1. Social
  2. Mobile
  3. Local

Each element playing an important role in SERP positioning.

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Stealth is excited to announce the addition of a new service for our clients. Over the summer, we designed and installed a new in-house video suite.

Video is the direction online content is going. Today’s audiences demand video. It is a crucial marketing tool. Having an in-house suite allows us to partner with our clients throughout the entire production process – and that means we can get things out more quickly and maintain high quality.

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I would have a blast with telecommunications digital marketing if I owned a midsized telecom operation! The world would be my tomato, because local marketing is a huge advantage in digital.

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“You manage things; you lead people.” ~ Grace Murray Hopper

Many of my clients have asked me, how do you keep yourself and your business moving forward to achieve small business success? I wish there were a simple answer, but it is complex and takes lots of focus.

Small businesses can find themselves kind of adrift at sea. I’ve created a strategy for myself, and for my team, that helps keep us focused, organized and moving the ball down the field. Ultimately, quarterly goals need to link to annual goals and so on.

To help explain my organization method, I broke it down into sections. It may seem like a lot, but it is takes hard work and dedication to be successful and attain set goals. Here we go…

Annually

The Stealth Creative leadership team develops long-term goals together. This helps get everyone involved with long-term goals and plans, and brings our team together to work together toward a common objective. These goals are usually focused around a growth goal, an employee goal or a set of financial goals. However, if you set goals and do nothing more to execute them, then nothing will ever happen.

“It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.” ~ Latin Proverb

Quarterly

I like to use the 6×6 execution, which I adopted from Bill Hybils’ book, Axiom. Each leader, including myself, has six goals to accomplish within six weeks. The important thing here is that everyone’s 6×6 have be interlocked; so we’re all pushing the ball uphill together.

This can be tricky, but in my opinion, this works as a lever to really accelerate the organization. We truly work together to achieve these goals. We ask ourselves: “What should we do if we did nothing else?” An example of this would be onboarding a new substantial client.

Weekly

Every Sunday I carve out some time so that I can review and prepare for my upcoming week. Once I figure out everything that needs to be done that week, I put it on my calendar; this helps me to remember the vast amount of tasks I need to finish. I set a plan of action for the week, because a goal without a plan is just a dream.

I plan Stealth’s weekly staff meeting and prepare my agenda. One of the things I always do in our weekly staff meetings is to celebrate the successes and learn from our failures. What would we tweak if we could do that thing again? How would we do it differently if given a second chance? I also like to announce the week’s upcoming goals so everyone is informed.

Once my week starts, I’m focused on the small things that might get us closer to a certain 6×6 that needs to be accomplished. I contact people I’ve been trying to work with, or someone I would like to work with. Some of my big focuses for the week could involve preparing for meetings, onboarding new clients, hiring new employees, finishing a contract, or creating and updating to-do lists. Whatever the week throws at me, I’m ready for it.

Some of the standard weekly duties include scheduling and scheduling conflicts (things come up and you have to be prepared to move stuff around): Making new business calls, clean and file, check my email, etc. One of my weekly goals is to get my inbox down to zero unread messages by Friday, which as you could imagine is an ongoing task. I’m working on integrating the Evernote system right now to help me with this.

Focusing on long-term goals when you have a list of short-term goals or deadlines can get difficult. I like to write down 5-year, annual and quarterly goals to see how they can manifest into 6×6 goals. Sometimes it can require attaining those short-term goals to move on to something bigger.

Education and knowledge are important keys to success. Whether it is a seminar or a business book, I like to make sure I’m informed and current. How do I have time to read a book while running a successful business? It’s simple; I set aside a small amount of time each day to read. If you can read just 10 pages a day, you can read up to 12 books in a year! It’s crucial to stay up to date on what is happening in your field and the world around you. Generally when I dive in for 10 pages, I usually get in 50!

Daily

What are the most important things to do today? I can’t go home until they’re done. One of my daily goals is to read all of my email, which on a given day could be about 200. Sometimes it can get can get overwhelming trying to work with all of the incoming calls and messages. You just have to find a system that works for you.

I like to set up scheduled times that I check messages and emails. I also identify two projects to do per day. This helps me make sure that I accomplish something everyday.

I always make sure to connect with my employees, whether that be mentoring or just having lunch together. I like to walk around daily and talk to each every one, even if it’s just asking them how their day is going, or how their families are doing. I like to make sure they aren’t overwhelmed, and if they are, I assist in finding a solution to help them. It’s important for me to stay connected with my employees, because we’re working together towards a common goal.

On top of everything else, you also have to remember the little stuff. I ask myself:

You get the idea. It is also important to make sure you carve out time for yourself. You have to make sure you don’t get burnt out, or neglect yourself or loved ones.

The real trick to staying organized is finding a method that works for you. Everyone has a different style. As long as you’re working hard to reach your own personal goals, that’s all that matters. It helps when you have a group of talented individuals working with you to reach those goals.

I want to close with a quote that really sums up why it’s important to have goals, and why being well organized is vital to reaching them. I hope this has helped or inspired you to get organized and keep your eye on the prize of small business success.

“Goals are a reflection of our character. When we reach them, we become something more.” ~ Unknown

You may think that grades don’t matter once you are out of school, but this is not true. Recently, Stealth had a 60-day client review with an esteemed client, and scored high marks (yes, they actually graded us). This post is our way of putting our report card on a metaphorical refrigerator. We are tickled pink and can’t wait to see what the future holds and how we can help our clients evolve.

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“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” ~ Les Brown

You might be asking yourself, who is Les Brown? He is a successful motivational speaker, former Ohio politician, best-selling author, popular radio personality, former TV host, and was briefly married to Gladys Knight. Talk about a list of achievements. I love this quote because it encourages readers to accept responsibility for their own life, and to recognize that it is you who gets you where you want to go, no one else.

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Back in the mid-1990s, very few companies had websites, let alone those that could be considered “decent.” Even though consumer-geared web browsers had hit the market three years prior, and IE 1.0 was approaching its first birthday, most CEOs were still wondering what the Internet was and if they really needed “to be on it.”

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Have you heard the expression, “The good things in life are the enemy of the best things?” The principles found within this statement have application to every area of our lives, but especially to our professional careers.

Time is a commodity of which we have a fixed amount each day. There are pressures related to your time. How many times have we used the phrase, “If I only have a few extra hours in the day?” Unfortunately, no matter how many times we’ve uttered these words, we haven’t received any extra time with which to work.

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There are many new and innovative ideas for business that advertising agencies will take advantage of in the new year.

But with technology dissemination and knowledge sharing occurring at ever-increasing speeds, like the examples above, it’s easy for agencies to forget they (hopefully) already possess a proven, timeless technology at their disposal: genuine interest in their clients’ success.

The warm, caring approach is the antithesis of dealing with a grumpy client who barely makes eye contact with you, while acting like they would rather be anywhere else at that moment. While it may seem old-fashioned, cheerfully greeting your clients with a big smile on your face and showing a sincere desire to help them achieve their marketing goals is the easiest way to overcome these kinds of interactions.

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The above statement may seem a bit odd for an advertising agency to embrace. After all, the product of what an ad agency creates shines a bright light on the message that a company or organization wants to communicate. It gets heard.

The goal is for the right message to be heard – by the right people, at the right time, for the right reasons.

Stealth was created with a deep-seated belief to communicate the message of others with skill and excellence. To do this, we believe that total focus needs to be placed upon our client’s message – not ours. Subtle perhaps, but essential in our view.

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It’s essential in business to relieve tension. Tension can crop up in many ways. It might show itself in the sales process, or in delivering a product or solution. It might even occur if you have not been paying attention to a valued client or customer.

Thankfully tension can be relieved quickly with one simple thing: Laughter.

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No one likes to contemplate the topic of failure, but understanding what contributes to failure can be a great way to steer clear of it. There are more than four reasons why marketing may fail, but these four seem to stand out in stark contrast to success.

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In the first installment of this article we tackled the questions that need to be answered to quickly assess a key phrase to determine whether there’s a chance to rank highly on that phrase.

We addressed the first two questions:

Does this phrase leverage existing organic optimization?
Does this phrase have commercial intent?

The third question addresses the level of competition on your chosen key phrase.

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Have you ever wondered whether a keyword phrase might bring new prospects to your website, and whether it would be possible to achieve good search results on that phrase?

Clients and prospective clients ask us this question on a frequent basis. They ask because they don’t yet know how to gain the fundamental keyword research insights that will give them the necessary information on which to make an informed decision.

This begs the question, “How can I conduct keyword research without having to become a full-blown keyword research analyst?”

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This is the continuation of our discussion on Content Marketing 101. In the prior post we explored the concept of content marketing, and outlined the fundamental steps in developing your content marketing strategy.

This installment continues with an overview of the content strategy and the content promotion strategy.

Ready to continue your pursuit of content excellence? Good. Let’s get started.

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Stealth client Fifth Third Bank kicked off the Adopt-A-Veteran Program Saturday at its Loughborough Financial Center. The St. Louis Patriot Guard attended in full force to show their respect for a special guest attending from the St Louis Veterans Home and for all Veterans.

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Content Marketing isn’t a new marketing concept. The idea of marketing through great content that’s useful to your readers has been around for many years.

In the past, great content was an often-desired element in a marketing campaign, but it was not always required to gain results in search. The value that Google placed on inbound links somewhat minimized the value of what was on the page people eventually landed on.

Until recently, most people’s concept of great content was effective sales copy on a landing page. And since great content is expensive to produce, it wasn’t pursued as diligently as it should have been.

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I love the St. Louis Cardinals, and they are going to the World Series, again! That’s great news for a lot of us in the Midwest, especially for our office just down the road from Busch Stadium.

All this World Series hype has me asking: Why am I such a fan?

I realized one of the major reasons is the Cardinals’ approach to teamwork. If you look up the definition of teamwork it’s this:

The combined action of a group of people, esp. when effective and efficient.

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In my last blog, I talked about branding things! Things with which your customers interact. “Things” is a little vague; so let’s clarify. Your branded assets include things like your office, trucks, people (uniforms), website.

What about branding your product? What are the stepping stones of branding your service that you’ll be delivering to your customers? This gets really complicated really quickly; so how can we simplify it?

While I’m using the telecommunications industry as the example, the same principles apply by and large to any service or industry. Let’s start with the strategic analysis of the brand.

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One thing’s for certain: Google has a way of making the lives of SEOs more interesting.

Deeming their 15 year anniversary week a way to wreak havoc, Google rolled out two paradigm shattering changes to SEO analytics results. Beginning with entirely secure, aka (not provided), search results in Analytics on September 23. 

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No matter how excellent your ad, if it’s not seen/heard/experienced, it’s not effective.

Linking the ad to the audience is the business of media buying. It’s not something that gets a lot of screen time on Mad Men.

Anyone who runs a small business has probably bought some media at some point. The most common media buy used to be the Yellow Pages. Innovation means that phone directories have moved online, but they are still one of the most basic advertising placements.

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The way I learned PR (the way it was taught to me) is to think like an editor. This ‘hack’ may seem pretty easy, and it is. You just need to start getting creative – in your writing.

The PR practice starts with writing. The more you write, create, edit and submit content (in the form of press releases, for example), the more confident you’ll be in navigating the public relations process! Master the writing and you’ll be amazed at how quickly things will happen. You’ll move to sharing and often getting your news in front of a busy editor client – nailing an interview!

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My intent is to examine the history of telecommunications marketing in a blog series so we telecom marketers can all have an appreciation of the jobs we have today, and the products and marketing solutions in the fast paced environment we find ourselves. From the day I started in 1978 until today, one thing is certain, and that is change.

Cable started as a technical product that solved a problem for people in places that could not get what was, at that time, a fairly new technology. You might have heard of it, ‘television.’

The cable industry solved a need.

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Take a step back.

As an account executive, it’s very easy to get caught up in the high volume of work. With tight timelines, it’s not uncommon for your focus to transition from ‘doing what’s right’ to just ‘getting it out the door on time.’

Emails, voicemails, meetings – when it rains, it pours. When you get that overwhelming feeling that your to-do list is impossible to get done on time, just know that IT WILL GET DONE. But this time, you will get it done with a new mentality.

Don’t work faster – work smarter. Be organized. Prioritize. And focus. A clear mind is an efficient mind.

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While press releases have been around since the Model A, there’s a quicker, smarter way to get your message to the masses while increasing your web traffic and social engagement through a little something people in the know call “the interwebs.”

The traditional way involved a sizable company submitting a perfectly crafted release into the hands of editors who may or may not decide to run it in whatever newspaper space was available. Even when it was accepted, the results (which often couldn’t be tracked) usually didn’t outweigh the cost.

Mercifully, the times have changed and small-and-medium sized businesses can reap the reward of the shifting digital landscape.

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According to media research company, SNL Kagan , roughly 10% of cable TV viewers are expected to “cut the cord” by 2015.

As a consumer, I’m probably pretty typical. I’ve kept my cable a long time, but I’m watching fewer of the channels, and realizing that it might be dispensable. Even though broadcast TV has fallen in its ability to generate enormous audiences, it is still the most powerful advertising medium.

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Here are some pro-tips to help you avoid getting yourself or your direct mail program into hot water. Make sure to steer clear of these glaring mistakes:

1) Not knowing your audience

The great thing about direct mail is that it allows you to target a specific audience: YOUR audience. Depending on the product or service, media, such as broadcast television or radio, may be an ineffective or inefficient way to spend your money. Since radio and TV have such a broad reach, you could be advertising to people who have no need or interest in your product or service.

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I find it increasingly important to have a basic understanding of digital marketing language. I’m not saying you have to know how to code using HTML, but at least understand what it does and how the technology is used.

This same idea applies to terms such as CSS, JavaScript, SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), CMS (content management system), social seeding and Google Analytics. As the call for digital marketing services becomes more prevalent, the ability to have a knowledgeable conversation with a client about digital marketing tactics is in higher demand.

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My first “real” job out of college was as a search engine copywriter (according to my parents, being a full-time cashier at what used to be Borders doesn’t count). At first, I couldn’t believe I was going to get paid to do the only thing I have ever been told I am good at, besides procrastinating: Writing.

I’ll never forget my first assignment: Writing about electrical fastening equipment. 50 pages. I had to use three keyword phrases per page. Verbatim. Sure, there were minor variations, like “buy fastening equipment” and “fastener equipment online.” But verbatim?

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I’ve worked a wide range of jobs in my career as a member of the American workforce. From movie theaters to restaurants, colleges to ad agencies. I’ve seen even the best-intentioned part-time employee or intern get passed over for minor transgressions when it came time to hire full time. With this in mind, there are a few things that can be done to give yourself a better chance at nailing down the job that, as an intern, you’ve been craving.

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I love movies. As a self-styled “cinemaniac,” I tend to see the world in a different way. For me, Steve Martin summed it up all so nicely in Grand Canyon when he said to Kevin Kline:

“All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.”

This blog will offer that same thought pattern:

All of advertising’s riddles are answered in movie quotes.

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In my experience as a PPC analyst, mentioning the words “display” and “content network” often induce (many times humorous) looks of cringe or disgust on the face of clients who have yet to try it. For those that don’t know better, “Hogwash,” “Bunkum” or some other underused, but equally charming, synonym escapes from their lips.

But why?

Why is display advertising derided and chastised so?

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I call myself a Controller, not a CFO and not a money man. My kids think this fits me perfectly at work since they call me a control freak. To them, a Controller is a control freak.

Some of my skills are transferable to the homestead. At home, I try to control the rising tide of shoes, clothes, dishes and other items randomly left around the house. Here at work, I try to keep order in the operation of the business. I help control the resources.

 Stealth Creative and ‘professional development’ have a pretty serious friendship going on. 

Where are your resources? Where are your assets? At our agency, our people are our greatest asset.

Some assets you build; some you buy. We prefer to build and invest in our people.
One way we do this is through professional development. How do we justify spending money for these conferences, seminars and symposiums, etc….

It’s good for the employee

Retention

Happy employees tend to stick around and are more productive. Employees want to learn, they want to become great at what they do. We want to build a loyal, talented workforce.

Mental Health

You might lose your job, but you can’t take away what you’ve learned. Increasing your expertise in your field of work is a great mental health booster. Experiencing the latest trends and innovations builds confidence and character.

Employee Wellness

Who doesn’t enjoy a change of scenery? Change is a good thing. It’s just another excellent reason to get out of the office. Visiting a new city means encountering new things, people, food and ideas. Why wouldn’t this be healthy?

It’s good for our business model

Applying what we learn has improved productivity, communication and other efficiencies. Implementing the morning stand up ‘hit-list’ meeting is one example that has helped make a difference in the operation of the agency.

Meeting with other like-minded professionals, exchanging ideas and processes is an opportunity, which is hard to duplicate in the workplace.

It's good for networking opportunities

We have actually picked up significant new business by attending personal business development conferences. New business development has become part of attending any professional development opportunity.

We have also identified and executed partnerships with vendors and clients. This would not have been possible if we had not decided to participate.

If an employee takes away one useable piece of information, then the time away from work attending a professional development opportunity is worth the investment of time and money.

Focus less on the cost and more on the benefit.

You can’t always attach a dollar value to the investment in an employee. A company can intentionally build and nurture its resources or they can ignore them.

We have chosen to invest in our team, a team which grows through learning.