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Say Yes to Creative Balance

How to keep saying yes without overwhelming your to-do list.

Creative people love to say, “Yes.” Saying “yes” can lead to unexpected opportunities and amazing collaborations. Saying “yes” can open doors to new connections and projects.

Working from a place of “yes” means we are inspired by the work, and that enthusiasm empowers us to pursue ideas and implement innovative solutions. When we keep ourselves open, we gain experiences and potentially discover talents and passions we didn’t know we had.

However, the more there is to do, the easier it can be to feel overwhelmed. If you find yourself wanting to agree to an opportunity, but know you may not have the bandwidth, it’s okay to ask for help. You cannot pour from an empty cup.

Be open about workload and expectations

“Only do what only you can do. I encourage leaders to make this their personal mantra,” leadership consultant and author, Erika Andersen, shares in Forbes.

It can be exciting to take on a task, or perhaps an old habit, but that doesn’t make it an efficient use of your time. Don’t let the workload suffer by blindly saying, “Yes.” Think about what you can and should do.

Do you want to meet on Wednesday, but it would be easier to meet on Friday? Are you able to take on the additional project, but aren’t sure if it should be prioritized above your existing work? Speak up.

Become stronger through partnership

Writing in the Ask Entrepreneur column, serial entrepreneur, Jen Groover, recommends categorizing and prioritizing tasks, both small and big ones, to figure out the best way to tackle your to-do list.

Once organized, take a step back and think about your natural strengths. When we partner with others, we become stronger together and can work smarter.

“Sharing responsibility and handing over certain tasks can be a scary thing,” Groover writes. “But keep in mind how much farther you’ll be able to grow. I always tell entrepreneurs, 100 percent of $100 is still only $100. But 20 percent of $100,000 is a heck of a lot more. So if you can find someone who has the strengths to your weaknesses and vice versa, you’re going to have more to share.”

Also, remember that so many of us are surrounded by talent. Perhaps you’re intrigued by the project but know of a team member who would be a great fit to lead the effort. Make the connection. Taking a step back so someone else can take a step forward is its own reward.

Help yourself and offer to help otherscome stronger through partnership

“People are more inclined to want to help those who’ve attempted to help themselves first,” writes Alice Boyes, author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit and The Anxiety Toolkit. “When asking for help, briefly explain what you’ve tried independently. That way the person from whom you’re requesting help knows you’ve tried to figure out your problem for yourself before requesting help.”

This could be as simple as Googling a solution on your own, double-checking a request or going back to your notes. Ask for help smartly, and give your own help freely. “If you’re known as a helpful person around your office,” Boyes adds, “folks will want to help you when the time comes.”

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Turn Your Call to Action into the Perfect Invitation

Think back to a time a friend invited you to do something. You might have agreed immediately, or you might have felt a little hesitant. Why?

In online marketing and communications, we’re always inviting our friends and followers and clients – to join us. Sometimes, we’re inviting them to subscribe to a newsletter. Other times, we’re inviting them to a member rewards program. Either way, we have to put thought into the invitation if we hope to get a positive RSVP.

This is where your call to action, that word or phrase that prompts your audience to do something, comes into play. Some marketers may leave out the call to action, thinking clients already know what to do next. That’s not recommended. Others might fear a call to action will come off as gauche or inappropriate. It won’t.

What would you do if a friend mentioned an upcoming party, but then offered no further details? How would you know they wanted you to join them? How would you know where to go or when?

If they don’t invite you clearly, you won’t know what to do next. It’s no surprise a proper invitation comes first on the list of the “Six Ways to Be a Good Host” outlined by the etiquette experts at the Emily Post Institute:

1) Invite clearly. Include necessary information for your guests in the invitation: the date, the time, the place, the occasion, the host(s) and when and how to respond “yes” or “no.” Add any special information such as what to wear or what to bring, say, for a pot-luck.

Like any good invitation, calls to action work best when they are direct, personal, and generate excitement for something more to come. Establishing a clear next step is a key part of continuing the conversation, and that step can be tweaked depending on the person and subject. Your call to action shouldn’t interrupt your message or alter your tone, but carry it home.

Even though it may be only a few words, a call to action can:

  • Anchor your message
  • Further existing relationships
  • Build key connections
  • Help you identify goals


Ask yourself these questions the next time you are trying to come up with a call to action: What do I want people to do? Why do I want them to do it? How do I want them to do it?

It’s so easy to fall back on what are becoming well-loved calls to action. How can you make your message stand out in a sea of “subscribe” and “donate” and “click here” buttons? This is your chance to have fun with language and truly hone your message. (HubSpot has assembled a great list of 31 examples of various calls to action if you are looking for inspiration.)

Play with using supporting copy, like a question, and offer readers different paths to take. Use A/B testing to see how your viewers respond to buttons versus links in the text. Try one phrase and then come up with another way of saying the same thing. Think about what words will matter to your specific audience.

How would you like to be invited?

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Where is everyone?

How to respond to those pesky platform outages.

Down for required maintenance.
Uh-oh, looks like something’s wrong.
We will be back soon.


Experiencing an interruption on the web or through a social platform can be unexpected, frustrating, maybe even embarrassing. (Is it me? Do I have a bad connection?) When technology is built so seamlessly into our daily lives and routines, an outage can seem incomprehensible and interrupt regular business operations. (But I can always get onto Instagram! What do you mean I can’t send the files?)

Inevitably, they happen anyway.

The site Down for Everyone or Just Me is one way to find out if, well, there’s an outage for others or just you. For a bigger picture of the ups and downs of the Internet, Down detector (which cleverly describes itself as “the weatherman for the digital world”) monitors social media and user reports to track outages and services.

Once you’ve confirmed it really isn’t you, what do you do when you find yourself unexpectedly without social media? What do you think your followers do?

The good news for publishers is that without Facebook to scroll through, hunting for information or a distraction, readers often head to mobile news apps and sites, according to data from Chartbeat. This offers positive insight into understanding user habits and interests: “Despite volatility driven by algorithm shifts and intense news cycles, user demand for content (represented by traffic across the web) is quite stable.”

However, in analyzing a YouTube outage, the results were a little different and led to an even bigger boost to traffic elsewhere. Chartbeat considered this might have come down to everything from the platform to users to the time of day.

“So far, we’ve seen there’s no single reaction when a platform goes down. Sometimes people are more apt to search for answers, sometimes they go directly to a news source they trust,” research posted on the Chartbeat blog concluded. “The one thing we do see is that when Facebook or YouTube goes dark, the rest of the internet comes alive.”

Knowing how an outage on one site can lead to an influx on another is a good reminder to stay active across your relevant platforms. However, there’s more to do if you hope to keep your content relevant and seen-after all, an outage means it doesn’t really matter if you scheduled that post or not. So plan ahead and plan for all scenarios.

Use working social media to engage in social listening. You can interact with followers to let them know you are in this outage with them, that your other sites are still up and working, and the status of your services. Keep other channels of communication open and easily accessible, and be ready to jump in to say everything is back up.

Additionally, it’s also an opportunity to consider if you are on the right platform. Sometimes, there’s no better solution than a strong email list.

“Should you join another social channel?” Monina Wagner, Content Marketing Institute’s community manager, encouraged marketers to ask themselves in an interview with Marketing Land. “Could you beef up your email list? Social media is rented land. What would happen if that disruption turned into a complete shutdown? Would you have another platform for your community?”

On the technical side, remember to keep track of your campaigns and files—save, save, save. If you anticipate something isn’t working right, screenshot whatever information you’re worried about losing in the event of an outage. There’s big business in Facebook and Instagram ads, but you can reschedule and have the advantage that Facebook charges advertisers based on results, like impressions and conversions, which can only be gained if the site has users on it.

An outage is annoying, but it can be a chance for discovery and, perhaps, some needed time to unplug and refocus.

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3 Ways to Spring into Creativity and Boost Productivity

Out with the old, and in with the new. As you start to think about clearing out old ideas to make room for new strategies, take time to brainstorm and experiment.

That might be easier said than done. Encourage creativity by looking to others for inspiration, and never underestimate the power of making time for reflection.

  1. Watch a TEDTalk.
    Ever wonder where good ideas comes from? What sort of best practices do successful novelists, tinkerers, and marketing gurus employ? The TEDTalks website has a curated playlist related to creativity. Whether you have a few minutes of a half hour free, press play on one of these motivational videos for inspiration.
  2. Go for a walk.
    If you want your mind to wander, it can’t hurt to do a little wandering yourself. A 2014 study from Stanford researchers found that walking benefited creative brainstorming. Whether walking inside or outside, simply moving around benefits brain function and can lead to powerful reflection. It can also put you on the path to discovery. As Marketing Week points out, taking a different route to work can help you discover local businesses, break patterns, and feel like a tourist in your own area.
  3. Pick a theme.
    Sometimes it can help to think inside the box. You can’t simply decide to be creative and have a brilliant idea appear. It’s not that easy. Think about something you haven’t tried before and ask if it could be part of your marketing strategy. Launch a caption contest for your followers. Play with data visualization. Join in a conversation with weekly hashtag themes. Look for something you haven’t done before, and search for how you can be creative in that area.
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8 Marketing Trends for 2018

marketing trends

 

How people interact with brands continues to evolve. User experience and personalization will remain a constant and will be a driving force in this year’s marketing trends. We’ve outlined the top marketing trends we predict will be at the helm of marketing strategy for 2018.

 

1. Leveraging Data and In-depth Understanding of Targeting Audiences

It will become increasingly harder to stand out and reach your target audience if you aren’t utilizing your consumer data. Technology and the growth of marketing tools make it easier to connect with your target audience in ways that were impossible or very expensive before. Today, there are many marketing automation and CRM solutions that allow for marketers to use their customer data and connect with audiences in large-scale, strategic, and affordable ways. Leveraging and implementing the use of data should be the foundation of any good marketing strategy. Your consumer data will allow you to engage with consumers where and when they want on a personal level.

 

2. Native Advertising

Digital ads have been the norm for a while now. In 2018, however, there will be more of a shift in paid media where the ad experience follows the form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. This makes sense as there has been increased emphasis on the overall user experience. A better, seamless experience will increase the response rate of your ads and will improve your ROI.

 

3. Content Marketing

By now organizations have realized that personalized and individual communications are the constant theme that is driving a lot of the trends for this year (and, really, for the past few years).  Consumers continue to favor individual, personalized experiences that are tailored to them, their interests and their immediate need. Your content should be well thought out and provide relevant information. Your content marketing should be focused on creating and distributing well thought out, relevant information that is valuable to your audience. Focus more on the quality of your content versus the quantity – make sure you are providing a value. This will help drive interaction with your brand and lead to conversions or desired action along with retention of your target audience. Incorporating a blog is a good platform for content marketing, read more about incorporating a blog in your website

 

4. Consumer Journey or Lifecycle

Emphasis on the consumer journey and how consumers interact with your brand throughout the decision, action and other various stages of their lifecycle. Implementing a strategy that prioritizes and integrates the full range of marketing communications channels and experiences should be on your to-do list for this year if it isn’t already. Personalized messages, retargeting and other techniques can be employed to support your consumers (and potential consumers) along their path to convert.

 

5. Incorporating Video

Ads on YouTube, short videos on social media, and other video components continue to increase in popularity. Standing out and capturing your audience attention is becoming increasingly challenging for marketers and brands. How can you stand out on social and digital channels? Create compelling visual aspects – especially in video form. The visual aspect of your message, and using video will help you engage your audience and capture their attention.

 

6. Transparency and Trust

Give consumers a behind-the-scenes look at your business and your practices. Humanize your brand – you’re more than a logo, product, or service. Credit Unions and Community Banks are in a unique position. When we speak with Credit Unions and develop campaigns or strategies, we ask “what sets you apart from everyone else?” Often products and services aren’t much different from the competition, with only slight variances in price or features. So what will make a consumer choose your brand over another? Trust. Credit Unions’ brand is trust – members trust your organization, the branch manager, the financial representative that has helped them navigating buying a home or car. Trust and transparency will become more important to consumers’ decisions.

 

7. Location-based technology

You should be taking advantage of location-based technology providing experiences, messaging, and information. Geo-targeting can help you take advantage of your brick and mortar locations or other key service areas. Exploring the possibilities of targeting your audience based on location, both in real-time and historical, will allow for you to provide content that is more relevant to their lives.   

 

8. Convenience

All in all, consumers are flooded with information every day. They look for and will stay loyal to brands that provide them with personalize and relevant information that is convenient for them. The more effortless an interaction the better. Who doesn’t love it when things are easy and convenient?

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Mobile Search and Why Credit Unions Need to Care

Mobile Search & why credit unions need to care

With a total number of estimated smart phone users in the US topping 224.3 million in 2017, there’s no doubt that we’re all doing more and more daily business on our phones. A recent Consumer insight report from Hitwise estimates 73% of potential homebuyers reach for their phone when looking for mortgage information, 65% check best interest rates, and 58% search for car loans. And while we know people have been moving to remote and mobile banking for years now, now they are searching and comparing options for big financial decisions on the small screen as well.

Just imagine what’s going to happen this weekend.  People are going to be out in your community, looking at new homes. They might see something they like, but are concerned about what their mortgage payment might be, so they start shopping for rates online, while they are in the driveway of their potential new home.  Just down the street, another young couple is looking to buy a new car, because they are expecting their first child. While the dealer has financing options, they want to know what they can get- and if they can get a better deal without going through the dealer. They may be checking out loan rates while they are on a test drive- not waiting until Monday morning to call your office.

This means Credit Unions not only have to be concerned about where they show up in search results, but also have to worry about how websites perform on mobile devices. Google estimates that 1 in 5 searches in now location related and over 53% of people will abandon a website choice if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. It means you not only have to make sure you have done everything you need to to show up on a search, but then your website pages also have to load quickly and deliver the answers consumers are asking, at the moment they need the answer to the question most.

Google has a project called AMP- Accelerated Mobile Pages. While a lot of the work that needs to be done to make a web page fast-loading is technical and best led to your web developer, you need to make sure you are pushing them to make key pages on your website easy to load and easy to navigate.  Likewise, AMP-powered advertising on other websites also increases conversion rates, so you also want to make sure your pay per click campaigns are likewise AMP’d up, so to speak. Google has a variety of case studies showing how beneficial AMP pages can be for businesses across the board, increasing mobile transactions, click through rates and revenue.

Your credit union might not have extended hours, or long hours on a Saturday. Few banks do, either. However, by having AMP pages for your website that show up quickly on mobile and provide consumers with the information they need, faster and more efficiently than your competitors, will not only increase your traffic, but it will lead to better search position and conversions as well.

If you’re concerned about how your website performs on mobile, and want to AMP up your marketing, give us a call or email us (connect@epicmc2.com) here at Epic Marketing- we’ll bring you up to speed in no time!

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Why Personalization Should Be Added to Your Marketing Strategy

Personalization Marketing

Personalization Marketing is like walking into your favorite restaurant, sitting at your favorite table with your favorite drink waiting for you, while the cook makes a special dish just for you. We love personalization and often crave it. This is why integrating personalization in your marketing strategy just makes sense.

In today’s noisy and crowded air ways, it’s easy to see why we (consumers) love personalization, and now are increasingly beginning to expect it from our favorite brands. Receiving a personalized and tailored message just for you seems less like advertising. And because it doesn’t seem like advertising, instead it’s content about what someone is looking for or what they’re interested in, your audience is more inclined to engage with you. According to a Hubspot study, personalization generates more responses and conversion which translates to a better return on investment. And better return on investment in our marketing is always welcomed.

However, personalization involves more than placing someone’s name on content that you are sending out. Personalization should be incorporated into every aspect of the content and message, keeping relevance at the forefront. Irrelevant messaging and advertising just seems like junk or noise to your audience (your members and potential members). The message, product offering, and overall content should be relevant and tailored to the person.

Credit Unions can really take advantage of personalization utilizing their data, including member relationship information, consumer behavior, and engagement. Also, incorporating personalization in the marketing for your Credit Union will be an extension of the personalized service Credit Unions are known for providing their members. Developing a strategy that cultivates your