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.
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.
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.
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
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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:
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.
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:
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.
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!”
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.*
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spend some time with our other case studies or drop me an email at email@example.com.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!)
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:
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.
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:
Millennials typically prefer a low-tech marketing approach, and direct mail fits the bill. In fact:
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%!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
To better understand, you may wish to take this self-test to see which type of learner you are.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let’s take a look at just one example where research made a huge difference:
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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?
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.
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:(more…)
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.
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.
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.