How Optimization Influences Communications

Why are you reading this blog post? That, I’m not really sure about.

Who are you? Why are you reading this blog post? I can take a good guess. You probably have marketing, communications or PR in your profile somewhere. Chances are, you’ve read a post on a similar subject or even read something on the Zer0 to 5ive blog before. If our readership mirrors a site such as MarketingProfs, you are likely a professional at a small or medium-sized business in North America.

How do I know this? Because we’re inside an optimization loop. It’s similar to the social media bubble of our own design that keeps the unpleasant posts of our crazy uncle out of our feed and keeps feeding us posts that we’ll like, comment and share on. The optimization loop is more automated and more invisible. Every Google search (at least 5.5 billion a day), Amazon purchase (600 items a second on Prime Day 2016), or Facebook like (500,000 a minute) is being captured and analyzed to keep us clicking, buying and engaging.

Past performance is generally regarded as a good predictor of future behavior online, so the optimization loop keeps on working to drive more clicks. For those trying to get someone to take a new action online, the loop can be hard to break into. Here are a few ideas on how you can get your message out (or your client’s message, since you’re probably from an agency!):

1) Publish Outside Your Box

When creating content for potential customers to read, it’s important to get it published in the right places and engaged with by the right people so that it leaves your brand’s loop and enters the content loops of your prospects. This can best be accomplished through contributed content to publications or blogs that serve a target audience. When it comes to Google, they will have stronger authority on the content topic, and will be more likely to make your content rise to the top of search results.

There are also ways to leverage social media to try and break into new areas (e.g. hashtags in Twitter, audience targeting in Facebook), but if your account is outside of the loop, it’s less likely to be effective. With systems like Facebook’s algorithms in place that rely on thousands of factors tied to affinity and actions around a company’s page and individual posts, having your content pushed out by a well-regarded third party is a great way to increase impressions on your message. Plus, it allows you to use your brand and personal accounts to spread that message rather than relying on self-published content, which is likely to receive fewer eyeballs.

2) Become an Expert to Your Audience

There used to be ways to fake it online without real content, but the methods employed by Google and Facebook to determine valuable content are largely driven by user behavior. Bounce rate, time on page and post engagement all matter when it comes to rankings and visibility, so time spent creating good content will pay dividends over time. By combining strong content and wider distribution, it’s possible to become an expert source for target audiences.

This emphasis on quality carries over to email marketing as well. Gmail and other services increasingly monitor user engagement to determine if an email will be delivered. They examine behaviors at a macro (sending account) and micro (individual email) level to build reputation scores, so if your emails are ignored for being of little value (let alone marked as spam or unsubscribed), it’s going to keep your content from being seen.

3) Understand the System

It takes a lot of work to keep up with the changes being made by the big online platforms. Keeping up with what’s working on Google and updating your content and communications strategy on an ongoing basis to match can pay big dividends. Factors go beyond content too. For example, if web pages are slow loading, not mobile friendly, or not protected with SSL encryption, there can be penalties from Google because your site is not providing a good, secure user experience.

There’s also a degree of “follow the money” that smart users can capitalize on. If Facebook wants to push Facebook Live video to users to increase its popularity, it would be wise for you to use it and break through the walls that the algorithms put up. Being aware of best practices and using them to influence your communications strategy can create a lasting competitive advantage, as the optimization loop only gets stronger in your favor.

By: Bob Minkus, Director

Three Reasons to Incorporate Marketing Goals into Website Design

Today, websites have to do more than simply “exist.” With high levels of competition in the digital space, a website must be fully integrated to a company’s business objectives and goals. Investing in a website that integrates your sales and marketing messages into a compelling design can improve user experience and directly impact your business’ sales funnel.

Make a Lasting First Impression

You only have one chance to make a first impression, and in marketing, that first impression is your website. The Internet has become such an integral part of our lives that most people search online and make a judgment call about a business based on their company website before ever interacting with them or using their products. Having a website that looks like it’s from the “dot com era” tells site visitors that your business is outdated. Even if that isn’t the case, it’s difficult to overcome this perception if a customer has no other reference to your company or product.

Keep in mind that over 51 percent of users surf the web on their phone or tablet over a computer, making it vital that your site is also mobile friendly. Not convinced? A whopping 40 percent of people will choose another result if their first choice is not mobile friendly. Google’s search algorithms continue to heavily favor mobile-friendly sites, and a non-optimized site can leave you out of your prospects’ mobile search results.

Hone Your Message

As companies grow, expand and evolve, your message and value proposition needs to keep up. Your website is the best place to share the most important benefits of your company and product with customers and prospects. Your website copy needs reflect where your company and products are today, not what they were previously.

While crafting your message, be careful with the claims you put on your website. Overstating your business’ capabilities can lead to disappointed users who expect certain outcomes based on your site but have received a lesser version of the product they imagined. A proper marketing strategy should hone and focus on the best ways to highlight the strengths of your product without making outlandish or disputable claims.

One way to create an effective message is through Geoffrey Moore’s positioning framework. Moore’s framework helps to clearly define the target market and their main pain point, your product/business and its key value offering that solves your target market’s pain point, and how to best differentiate your product/business from the competition. With each of these points clearly defined, you can ensure your messaging draws in your target market and leaves them with everything they need to know about your product/business and why your solution is the best solution.

Integrate the Sales Pipeline

The best websites map out the user experience that eventually leads to a call to action (CTA) to either learn more, start a trial or buy the product. Proper placement of these CTAs will drive user engagement with your brand and have the potential to drive sales for your business. There are many tools available to track user behaviors on the site, (one such tool is CrazyEgg) so that your business can best optimize its CTAs and find the most user friendly design for them on your website.

Complete omission of CTAs and other sales-driven actions can result in lost revenue. Your website has the ability to drive sales leads from individuals who engage by requesting more info or a free trial of your product. From there, the sales team has a much greater ability to convert this lead, since search-driven leads have a 14.6 percent close rate compared to the 1.7 percent close rate for cold leads.

Among the long list of responsibilities for a business, its website must remain a top priority. While there’s no set rule regarding when a business should perform website updates, businesses should be updating their websites when they fail to incorporate modern user-interface elements and when they hinder a business’ sales funnel. But by making web maintenance more routine, a website becomes less burdensome to maintain, and with the proper messaging strategy and design execution, a business can create a modern, user-friendly site to reap the benefits a great website has to offer.

By: Jaimie Yakaboski

 

5 Strategies to Promoting a Successful Webinar

For reasons too many to name, webinars continue to be one of the most popular strategies for leveraging content to drive qualified leads. There has been significant focus on creating great content over the past few years, for good reason, but the fact remains that no matter how good your content is, if people can’t engage with it, it’s all but useless.

  1. Have a plan. There is so much that goes into planning a successful webinar, but in order to start you need to ask yourself:
    • Who are you targeting?
    • What amazing content are you going to be presenting that is going to knock everyone’s socks off?
    • What day and time are you going to host it to drive the best attendance?
    • How are you going to reach your audiences?

The answers to all of these questions and more should be answered up-front in a comprehensive strategic plan. To be most effective, promotional activities need to occur pre-event, during the event, and post-event – what tactics will you be employing at each phase? The chosen strategies and tactics should be aligned to your audiences and their behavior – have you built personas that help you identify the best ways to reach your intended audience?

Having a thorough plan ensures that when it is “go-time”, promoting the webinar is strictly about world-class execution.

  1. Engage hearts and minds. People are faced with a constant deluge of information. The hard truth is that no matter how interesting you think your webinar topic is no one is going to show up to your webinar unless you engage their interest – emotionally or intelligently. The key here is coming up with ideas that will get your audience excited. Excited enough to register, mention it to a co-worker, and share it on a social media platform. Excited enough that it is memorable.

If you want to be memorable, boring email blasts are not going to cut it.

Giving away valuable content, offering special discounts, creating games or sweepstakes, hosting contests and even the strategic use of humor are all ways to create a more engaging promotional experience.

  1. Take an integrated approach. Use every available means to reach your audience: email, social media, direct mail, the homepage of your website, and PPC campaigns can all help drive your audience to register. If you have multiple speakers, leverage them! Have your speakers add a link to the landing page to their email signature. Every speaker, sponsor, and partner should also be communicating within their own professional networks to drive attendance. Write a blog post that teases or supplements the content you will be sharing in the webinar. Invite industry media and analysts so that they promote it to their audiences during and after the webinar. Create a 30 second teaser video.

Sometimes people fall into the trap of thinking that since a webinar is a digital event – only digital strategies can be used to promote it. Nothing is further from the truth! 

In reality, people can and should be reached across multiple mediums. Direct mail and PR can be used to effectively promote a webinar, especially one on a trending topic.

  1. Stay in front of your audience. According to HubSpot, only 30% of people who register for a webinar will actually attend. Once someone has registered, don’t forget to send reminders the week and even the day of the event – people get busy and webinars are easy to forget. If someone registers but doesn’t attend, send a follow-up email that drives them to the webinar recording.

When it comes to promoting an event, once is never enough.

  1. Keep it simple. Make sure your invitation emails are clean and informative so that it is simple for people to learn what they need to know and take action. Keep it simple to register via obvious CTAs, a clean and well organized landing page, and an easy way to access previously recorded webinars. Use best practices on form fields and placement. Less is more, now is not the time to gather every potential piece of information on a lead you wish you knew!

Webinars are a cost-effective tactic that allow companies to expand their reach, target more people and deliver content in a compelling, fully branded way. Developing a strategy that effectively promotes your webinar will drive attendance and ensure success.

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By: Cole Naldzin, Principal

GTM Planning for Health Tech Startups

This past Thursday, I had the opportunity to be the keynote speaker at the Plexus Healthcare Innovation Hub in Philly. What an amazing place for health tech startups, especially medical device companies to get started – the space, equipment, people and networking at Plexus are incredible!

I was lucky enough to follow two amazing demonstrations that kept everyone glued to their seats and fully engaged – the first from Dr. Alan Flake of CHOP, who demonstrated an artificial womb that has the potential to significantly decrease the mortality and birth defects that can arise with premature births, and the second from Dr. Johann deSa, founder of Instadiagnostics, which is innovating healthcare at the point of care. Both companies have the potential to have a tremendous impact for patients.

My presentation was focused on how to develop a GTM plan for these types of startups that can stand up to the scrutiny of seed or first round funding. I was excited to present because not only do I love to see what’s coming next, I want to help what’s coming next get funded, get to market and get adopted.

My presentation followed the steps of the Zer0 to 5ive Roadmap™ – what you need to do to get to the point where you can develop a defensible GTM plan, especially necessary when you are looking for funding. These steps are:

0. Objectives

1. Research

2. Positioning and Messaging

3. Brand Strategy

4. Brand Identity

5. GTM Plan

As part of the presentation I also gave out this handout, which includes tips for conducting research. Basic competitive, industry and prospect research is within any entrepreneur’s grasp – you just need to know where to look and what to look for. My Tip Sheet will help!

One thing that I emphasized throughout the presentation was setting realistic and measurable goals. Too often entrepreneurs, in an attempt to impress investors, are unrealistic as to how hard it is, and how long it takes, to actually get your product market-ready, launch and acquire customers. Your objectives need to reflect your reality of time, money and resources, as well as market readiness and competition. Seasoned investors will appreciate that you understand the road ahead.

If you are interested in receiving a copy of my presentation, or learning more about the Zer0 to 5ive Roadmap™, please reach out to me via LinkedIn or at michelle@0to5.com.

How to Leverage Cultural Fads to Maximize Marketing Efforts

A great way to promote your brand is by leveraging popular trends. Through a few well-managed steps you can create a strong link between your product and a popular trend, giving you an extra boost from the association. One notable example is the recent AR/mobile hit Pokémon GO. The game itself garnered massive amounts of media attention and numerous marketing capitalization articles to follow. In light of such a successful launch, I want to detail how you can successfully capitalize on the next big trend when it gets here.

Timing

In baseball, if you swing a second too late then you’ve missed the ball. The same applies to the launch of a PR or marketing campaign. Timing is important because there will be a surplus of companies and individuals racing to produce content surrounding any trend that beings to grow in popularity.

Pokémon GO launched in mid-July last year. If you hadn’t introduced your marketing idea by at least the first week of the launch, you were already edging on late. Joining the party a month in? You missed your chance. Trends move quickly in the digital age and it’s always better to be one step ahead of the game than even a millisecond behind.

When planning a trend-based PR or marketing campaign, make sure to carefully monitor the news for any pre-buildup of the trend and make sure to launch as close as possible with the actual hype of it. This way you ensure that you can be one of the first thought leaders commenting on the trend or one of the first brands to interact with it.

Focus on the Right Trends

Everyone loves a one hit wonder, but hits like that won’t have enough traction to sustain your PR and marketing efforts. What made Pokémon GO such a great trend to promote was the longevity of the brand and the multigenerational fan base. The first whisperings of this project had both adults who grew up in the ‘90s and young fans of today jumping with excitement to see their favorite characters come to life before their eyes. Buzz for this game started well before the release, and the hype kept growing the closer we got to the game’s release date.

If you are going to use marketing efforts in line with a popular trend, make sure it’s a trend that will last for a while. Even though Pokémon GO has had a decrease in users, it’s still popular and, more importantly, successful. It might be some time before we see another trend as popular as Pokémon GO, but it’s important to keep your eye out for the next trend that will have a potent presence in the media.

Find the Connection

Anyone can associate themselves with a trend, but the more meaningful the association, the more successful the campaign will be. To ensure people are paying attention to your brand amidst the hype of the trend, you need to make sure that your brand has a logical and meaningful connection to the trend. Don’t just talk about a trend for the sake of talking about it. Talk about it because it is relevant and you have something to add to the conversation. In any media or marketing relationship, you are looking to provide each other with relevant and useful information.

So, if you are trying to promote your brand in association with a big trend like Pokémon GO, find the logical connection before you promote. If you are a floral shop, a marketing idea could be creating Pokémon-themed floral arrangements that you give away to local stores with Pokéstops, an integral feature in the game. This type of “trend ride” is relevant, fun, and helpful for others, which is a great recipe for receiving positive media praise.

Overall, trend-based campaigns are an exciting and creative way to help promote your brand. With the correct attention to detail, you can create an interactive campaign that helps form a meaningful bond to a trend and successfully promote your brand. Pokémon GO may have had its time to shine, but will you see next year’s hit trend before it’s here? And, more importantly, will you catch it in time to capitalize on it?

By: Jaimie Yakaboski

Experiential Marketing: The Secret to Building Brand Loyalty

In today’s buyer-empowered marketplace, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to establish brand loyalty and effectively reach their target demographics. Audiences have become deafened to companies’ self-promotion, and standard marketing practices are falling short. In recent years, integrated marketing strategies have replaced more singular efforts. However, campaigns are oftentimes still missing a valuable component that is proven to broaden campaign reach and build brand loyalty: Experiential marketing.

Experiential marketing, also referred to as event marketing, is a method focused on directly engaging audiences and encouraging consumers to experience a brand. Whether you’re hosting a webinar, exhibiting at a tradeshow or using a street team to spread awareness, experiential marketing has the ability to transcend traditional marketing tactics and illuminate your brand.

When implementing experiential marketing tactics, there are a few guiding principles to keep in mind:

Know your audience.

Audiences have become desensitized to brands shouting at them to pay attention and instead crave a more organic approach to marketing. People like to feel as though they’ve discovered the brand themselves, which, in turn, can result in stronger consumer advocacy and brand loyalty. Events are the perfect way to provide potential customers with a memorable experience that can lead to long-term commitment and increased ROI.

There are countless ways to engage your audience through experiential marketing, but it’s important to keep in mind that not every form of engagement will reach your particular customer. Know your target demographic and choose an activation that appeals to them. Resist the urge to jump on the latest trends and curate an experience that’s true to both your brand and your audience. If you understand your audience and position your brand activation accordingly, people will be more likely to pay attention. 

Tell a story.

Storytelling is key to experiential marketing. Find the ethos in your brand mission and leverage that message to connect with your target demographic. From conception, your brand should tell a story that demonstrates the value customers receive when engaging with your product or services. This story should be integrated into every aspect of your brand strategy from logo and website to consumer education and beyond.

Experiential marketing offers the opportunity to strengthen your brand’s narrative and provide consumers with a tangible understanding of your product or service, while also clarifying the customer’s role within the brand.

Use technology to communicate your message.

One way to ensure consumer engagement is by applying a technological overlay to your real-world activation. Events offer face-to-face interaction with potential customers that can be significantly heightened with the use of technology. Whether you’re demonstrating the use of your product through VR headsets or projecting an interactive survey in your tradeshow booth, there are endless opportunities to engage your customer in a creative and tech-savvy way.

Engage community partners.

When possible, be sure to align yourself with complementary brands and like-minded businesses. Companies often fear that partnerships during event activation will dilute their own brand’s message. However, the right partner can provide tremendous value to your brand through cross-promotion opportunities, increased customer reach and sharing of additional resources. Don’t be afraid to spark strategic partnerships with brands that make sense. 

Make it memorable.

The saturated marketplace makes it essential to establish an engaging relationship with your audience. No matter how you choose to activate your brand, be sure to continue the momentum. Make the experience sharable through social media by clearly displaying handles and tags to ensure the interaction is captured and shared on social media platforms.

By collecting leads during the activation, you also have a perfect platform for follow-up communication with an audience that you know is listening. Use the opportunity to highlight what’s next or circulate a survey that will yield valuable insights.

According to Jack Morton’s New Reality 2012 findings, three out of four consumers strongly agree with this statement: “I only advocate for brands when I have had personal experiences with them.”

Whether you’re starting small or jumping into the biggest expo of the year, experiential marketing is a valuable method to enhance your current marketing strategy and take your brand to the next level in customer engagement.

By: Deirdre Purdy

How to Be UGLY: Finding Your ZAG with Marty Neumeier

Crocs. Cake Pops. Uggs. Snuggies. What do all these have in common? Well, you probably hated them before you loved them. Uggs were ugly, Cake pops were foreign, and Crocs were for geezers.

Turns out, these products had some genius behind them. That genius is called ZAG.

So, what is ZAG? Marty Neumeier describes it in his book, Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands, as the embodiment of what it means to be different.

Today, we all have a need for speed. Amazon ships overnight, Seamless delivers everywhere, messages send in seconds, and what used to take years to discover is now accessible with the click of a button. What comes with this fast-paced lifestyle is a heck of a lot of marketplace clutter.

Every day, the app store is flooded with new products, services, and indications that there really is no limit to progress. Peruse the supermarket isles and you’ll find twenty brands of toothpaste, thirty kinds of chips, fifty different cereals. Where do we even start?

As we struggle to block out all the clutter, we gravitate towards what’s really useful, or what seems the most interesting. In Neumeier’s words, we crave what is different, what stands out. In his book, he outlines seventeen checkpoints to breach before you can fully own your ZAG. Here are some of his main points that you want to keep in mind when creating a product and bringing it to market.

Hit ‘em where they ain’t

Imagine yourself standing at home plate, bat in hand. When the pitcher throws the ball, you swing hard and aim for the gap in right field, not directly at the shortstop.

As we speak, there are people out there looking for help, and they may not even know it yet. Locate a job that needs doing, and do it. Don’t try to squeeze your way into an already jam-packed market. The open spaces are there. You just need to find them, and the crowd will love you for it when you do.

Be the only [BLANK] that [BLANKS]

Today, when you wake up craving a waffle, all it takes is a trip to the freezer to satisfy that hankering. Sixty years ago, that wasn’t the case. When Eggo invented the first toaster waffle in 1953, they were able to say, “We just made the only waffle you can toast.”

As Neumeier puts it, if you can’t say you’re the “only,” go back and start over. Without your “only” statement, you can’t have ZAG.

A poor name is a drag

Though it won’t make or break you, a strong name accelerates your product’s popularity. Find a name that’s meaningful but catchy, interactive but understandable. Think Apple, Google, Nike, Oreo. Fun to say but filled with meaning, these names have become staples in household conversation.

What wave are you riding?

Today, trends come and go like waves. If you see the water swell, get in front of it and ride that wave home. When online shopping surged, eBay came around. Because today’s youth is addicted to smartphones, Pokemon Go was able to take over. Harness that momentum and bring your product to all the tanning, happy beach bums.

Let the revolution begin!

There’s always a bad guy. It’s just a matter of finding him and using him to your product’s advantage. Crocs are not cute sandals, cake pops need no fork, trendy boots freeze your toes and average, sleeveless blankets fall to the floor. These first four examples had clear enemies they used to propel their product forward. Find your enemy and prove that you are not them.

Who loves you?

Every product needs a community, but it’s not enough to simply identify your target market. Make an emotional connection with your customers and establish a loyalty that lasts. Chances are, if you remember their coffee order, or know they hate pickles, they’ll trust you with their daily indulgences.

Be brutal

Exercise self-discipline, and know when to say “no.” By trying to take on new competitors and expand your brand, you may put yourself on a playing field you’re not prepared to dominate. That, and you risk confusing your customers. Stick with your ZAG, and be careful before stretching yourself too thin.

10 (PR) lessons from my first Consumer Electronics Show

walkman4_1436158i Last week, I attended my first CES. While I have sent numerous clients to the show and supported the PR outreach around their attendance, I had never physically attended the show.

Fortunately, I have been to many conferences, so I knew a lot about the Do’s and Don’ts, but CES is one of a kind – a show that attracts nearly 200,000 people in the tech industry. It can be an intimidating event for a first-timer like myself. My client has been exhibiting for a number of years, so that helped me to prepare, but there are a few lessons every PR-pro should know if they get a chance to attend!

1. Start outreach early.

About 5,000 media and analysts attend the show each year. The media list is available to those who are exhibiting on December 1. Thousands of contacts will not want to meet with your client, so before the list comes out, it is a good idea to identify the media you would like to meet with, based on your regular targets. Have you been trying to schedule an interview with Business Insider but haven’t had the chance? Check out the list to find out which BI writers and editors are attending CES, and see if they’d be willing to meet at the show. Seeding that conversation through your pitching, leading up to the show and even prior to when the list comes out, is a great idea.

2. Push for briefings early in the day and early in the week.

Scheduling meetings for earlier in the day will ensure that both your spokesperson and press don’t get tied up or delayed. End of day meetings will likely be cancelled, delayed or rescheduled because of delays throughout the day.

Scheduling interviews for early in the week is also a great way to ensure early show coverage. This is also critical to guaranteeing that your message is front and center. As the week goes on, people (including the media) get burnt out and conversations can get lost. Briefing your target media prior to the show and early on will ensure strong communication of your message to make certain that it is not lost in the other buzz.

3. Pitch local media who may not be attending.

CES is an enormous international show. Local affiliates run b-roll and cover the “big news” on the next, hot gadget, but they also might want to hear about what local company is on display at the international event. Package up a local pitch to secure the interest of local press in order to generate coverage for your client or business. It is a great avenue to local visibility and additional media coverage.

4. Eye candy.

CES media are looking for something to tweet, blog and share. Make sure you have something at the booth that will make them want to take a photo and that will capture the attention of those walking by. A busy booth will attract the media to stop by and ask, “what’s going on here?” Put some thought into your booth from all angles and showcase your offering in a spiffy format.

5. Tweet and engage.

Take photos of interesting displays, booth activity, panel sessions, etc., and share them on social media. Provide commentary on hot topics and new products. Engaging in the buzz around CES will increase your visibility, followers and credibility as an expert in the tech industry.

6. Find out what your press looks like.

Do some investigative Googling on the press you are scheduled to speak with. This will help you to avoid staring at every badge that walks by to see if that is the reporter scheduled for your interview. Be aware that everyone’s LinkedIn picture isn’t always up to date, but should give you a general idea of what the person looks like, so you can quickly identify them and start the meeting.

7. Get cell numbers and follow up.

While this seems obvious, calling someone’s office line when they are five minutes late to your booth is not going to get you anywhere. Some media are hesitant to provide cell numbers, which is understandable, so it is important to communicate that the number will only be used if there is an issue on the day of the show. Be sure to follow up the week prior and the morning of the interview to make sure they know where your meeting is and that they have all of the background information needed to make it an engaging, informative discussion.

8. Use real-time calendars.

We used a color-coded Google calendar to schedule briefings, and it worked out perfectly. We were able to schedule meetings without the normal back and forth around the CEO’s availability. Additionally, we were able to update new meetings on the fly, which were automatically added to the team’s calendar. This allowed us to continue pitching and follow-up during the event as schedules changed. Our spokespeople had the meeting details at their fingertips at all times, ensuring they were prepared and briefed for the next discussion. We were in-sync and updated in real-time the entire week, which meant that we were able to add in more media meetings!

9. Be comfortable, well rested – bring your A-game.

Yes, it’s Vegas. Yes, it’s the week after the holidays. No excuse. You are attending the biggest show in the industry, and your client is looking to be the star. If you are not well rested entering the show, it will catch up with you and affect your ability to be a valuable member of the team. During the event, wear comfortable shoes, stay hydrated and well nourished. The show can get cold, so dress appropriately in layers. Take breaks, but don’t wander too far from your booth, because you never know when a member of the press may stroll by!

10. Understand your client’s message and value proposition and above all, smile!

Sure, you are there to handle the media. But your client has invested valuable time and resources to be at CES. Passersby don’t know your role. You are representing the Company, so be prepared, friendly, and welcoming. Once engaged, be sure to connect interested prospects to the right people within the Company if you aren’t sure of an answer to their question. At one point during my CES experience, I was handling all types of prospect questions because the booth was so busy – it was great to be able to tell the Company’s story confidently.

CES is a fun, exciting event and a great way to kick-off the New Year with your client. Have you ever been? Any additional advice for first-timers? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Post by Kathleen Fusco, Director

It’s time for B2B to get social

Untitled As B2B companies prepare their 2015 marketing plans and allocate dollars for various programs, it is important to optimize the value of social media and how far an investment in these channels can go to communicate your value proposition and engage your customers. When evaluating the best channel for your message, it is key to remain focused on your target audience. Determining which social media platforms you should allocate time and money to requires an evaluation of your target audience, your competitors, and your industry influencers social media behaviors.  These behaviors include not only presence but also engagement with specific social media platforms.  As a result of this analysis, you may choose to leverage your efforts across multiple platforms or focus all efforts on making an impact on one platform.  Social media, however, is not to be ignored.  In 2013, it was shown to produce almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail, or PPC.

Amongst social media platforms, LinkedIn leads the pack for B2B marketing, generating the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate – almost 3 times higher than both Twitter and Facebook.  For that reason, LinkedIn should be a top priority for social media spend.

The Zer0 to 5ive Beginner’s Guide to Marketing on LinkedIn

0. Determine Your Strategy and Objectives

If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?  It’s not enough to simply start posting to LinkedIn – you need to understand what you are trying to accomplish, who you are trying to target and how you are going to measure success.  Too often, basic marketing and business principles aren’t applied to social media campaigns.  The “lets try it out and see what happens” approach is guaranteed to disappoint.

1. Create and Maintain a Branded Company Page

At its most basic level, a company page provides a brief summary of what you do and drives traffic to your website.  But, as with most things in life, there are best practices for building a company page that maximize outcomes. Check out LinkedIn’s top 10 company pages of 2014 to see what the best of the best are up to.

2. Monitor Your Company Page with Analytics

A little over a year ago, LinkedIn added analytic capabilities to the company pages.  Much like Google Analytics for your website, LinkedIn provides you with user information – both in terms of demographics and activity.  If you aren’t looking at these metrics you are missing a major opportunity to improve your engagement with prospects and convert more leads.

3. Build Your Personal Networks

The best way to share company updates, publications, and news is through personal networks.  Think of it as a warm lead – you are known and trusted by your network and likewise your network is known and trusted by their individual networks.  You can reach a lot of people with whom you have instant credibility by sharing updates within your extended network.

4. Use LinkedIn Pulse

Pulse is a LinkedIn application that allows you to follow news and insights on topics that interest you. Originally, contributors to Pulse needed to apply and receive permissions to post but recently LinkedIn opened this function to the entire community.  When used the right way, it can be a very valuable tool to gain the attention of prospects.  Topics covered by Pulse range from inspirational and leadership advice to very specific business issues. This provides a perfect solution for companies that do not have the resources to create ongoing custom content as the posts are typically very succinct and they are distributed to an already attentive audience.

5. Use Groups to Your Advantage

Identify the groups your company could benefit from being a part of or groups your company could contribute to in a valuable way.  Participate in discussions, post news of interest within those groups, send your Pulse posts out to the groups and, if the budget allows for it, advertise to those groups. People within a specific group have added themselves as a member because they have an interest in the topic so they are a particularly receptive demographic within LinkedIn. If what you share provides them with value, you can build credibility for yourself and your company, drive people to your company page or website and increase your number of leads.

Ultimately, the name of the game is creating valuable content that helps people solve a problem they are facing.  If you don’t have a great message, it doesn’t really matter how you share it.  But, on the other hand, if you have a great message and great content and insight to share and you aren’t promoting it on LinkedIn, you’re leaving leads on the table.

Post by Cole Naldzin, Director

Dear Media List: It’s not me, it’s you.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 10.23.41 AMMedia list, media list, media list. As a PR specialist’s “life line” to reporters, a robust media list that spans multiple vertical publications, as well as mainstream outlets, is critical to a successful PR program.

Hours are spent sorting through media databases and vetting reporters to get that “perfect list.” As a result, the media list becomes the first place many PR professional go to find a reporter to pitch.

While this is a great first step, it is equally important to remember that every reporter that could be targeted for your story may not be in your list.  Having an exclusive relationship with your media list may actually be hindering you from securing your next great article.

Reporters are constantly changing beats and many even contribute to multiple publications, so it’s beneficial to take a break from your list and look through the publications you are pitching to see if there may be a more appropriate contact to target.

To ensure you are targeting the best reporters with each pitch, challenge yourself to get creative and explore new ways to find the perfect reporter to contact.

Here are some key opportunities to take advantage of “a break” from the database and explore new contacts:

  1. Repeated absence of responses. If you combine an interesting topic with a well-crafted pitch and receive absolutely no feedback from the media you are targeting, it’s a potential red flag. If this is the case, visit different publications’ websites to ensure the reporters on your list are actively publishing relevant articles. Reporters change beats and publications faster than media databases can keep up with.
  1. Niche pitching. With a majority of Zer0 to 5ive’s clients in the technology space – be it education, healthcare or software development – I often find myself creating a variety of media lists consisting of “technology” reporters.  In this instance, I find media lists to be especially foundational, or rather a jumping off point, to all PR efforts moving forward.  While I reach out to those core “technology” reporters, it is also important to take a step back from the media lists, visit the targeted publications, and search for reporters covering the specific niche topic that resonates with your story.
  1.     Rapid response pitching. Being well versed in your clients’ industry news will help you expand your targets.  Spending 10-15 minutes each day reading relevant industry news can provide excellent insight into not only hot topics being discussed, but also more importantly, who is writing about these topics. Sending 3-5 “reactive” pitches to contacts not on your media list is a simple activity that can be very rewarding over time.

The bottom line: there are core reporters that should know about your client and that you should be establishing a relationship with on a regular basis. However, in order to continue to push the creative envelope for the bigger story or new approaches, it’s an extremely valuable exercise to take a break from the list and reach new contacts. Try it – your next big story may be around the corner!

Post by Sarah Manix, Strategist