On Thursday, August 27, 2015, Warrenton-headquartered marketing agency McKinsey Development (MKD) will co-host an exclusive two-hour “Digital Breakfast” with Google to teach local businesses about industry trends that can help optimize their online presence.
MKD specializes in strategic integrated marketing, offering a wide array of services that target specific audiences and produce desirable outcomes for small and medium-sized businesses. Because digital marketing is measurable, cost effective and highly targeted, it is one of the company’s most highly sought-after services.
The main topic to be discussed in August will be Google AdWords, an online advertising program that connects brands with local consumers the moment someone searches for keywords related to a company’s products or services. Higher online ad visibility leads to more customer contact, which ultimately means more business. Because MKD is Google AdWords certified, it is a recognized online advertising professional and Google Partner. This means MKD is highly qualified to help clients grow their businesses on the web by managing their AdWords campaigns.
A core philosophy at MKD is to promote a culture of education designed to help businesses navigate the ever-changing digital terrain. A Google Partner for the past year, the agency saw a chance to connect people with insights related to digital advertising, industry trends and ways to grow a business.
“This is a great opportunity to learn and make new connections,” said CEO Crystal McKinsey. “No matter what level of expertise or type of business you bring to the table, the idea is for you to be able to walk away from this with something valuable.”
Guests can expect a live simulcast discussion with Google AdWords experts and a question and answer session with MKD leadership. This complimentary event includes breakfast and coffee, courtesy of Starbucks. R.S.V.P to email@example.com.
These days, big businesses aren’t the only masters of marketing. In fact, when brands make it to megastardom (think GE, Starbucks, Microsoft), the connection they’ve established with a target audience can go stale after decades of success, or may be interrupted by a new phase in an ever-evolving social consciousness.
Trending in marketing right now is the cultivation of authentic appeal by embracing and reflecting the values of a modern audience. If you’re wondering what your business can do to get an edge in this modern world, take a look at the business model of Warby Parker (WP), a largely online prescription eyewear company founded in 2010. Here’s why their marketing is the stuff of legend:
- Their philosophy is wholesome. WP was created in order to solve a widespread and largely ignored problem. Glasses are a basic necessity – lots of people need them, but not everyone can get them. WP was troubled by the high costs of prescription lenses, so their vision to serve the visually impaired materialized when they came up with an alternative to traditional methods of eyewear production. Their desire to address the lack of access to glasses helped them springboard into additional philanthropic channels, but more about that in a sec.
- They’ve identified their target audience. WP markets to an online generation. They’ve tapped into what matters most to their audience by being the first company to solve a specific and pervasive problem. On top of that, they manage to make us feel indulged. If you see a pair of glasses on their site that you love but aren’t sure how they’ll look on, no problem – they have home try-on. You get five pairs of your choice in the mail, keep the pair you like best and send the rest back. In other words, they tell us their shopping experience is fun and easy and back it up with actual proof. Plus, you don’t have to spend the equivalent of a mortgage payment to look and feel good.
- They carve out a culture. The people in this company serve their community by supporting local events where they have retail stores. They also create a fun and engaging workspace, make fair and safe working conditions a priority for their factory employees, and use environmentally responsible materials in their product. Theirs is a culture of transparency, a culture of people who are unashamed because they do the right thing, even though they don't have to.
- They engage. WP crafts a playful but sincere tone that reflects the personalities of its founders. Their site tells the company’s story in a way that makes you feel like you’re part of the Cool Kid Club. Its founders even introduce themselves in an open-armed style, revealing quirks like their karaoke picks and happy places. Five minutes into reading their content, you can picture yourself sharing a nerdy joke and a coffee with any one of them. Brilliant.
- They’re philanthropic. In addition to creating opportunities for employees to contribute to the greater good individually, WP stays true to its original mission, which is to provide glasses for those who have difficulty accessing them. They have a program called Buy a Pair, Give a Pair, where nonprofit partners accept a monthly donation from WP that helps foster education and build sustainability in developing countries. The program allows people in need to earn a real living by giving basic eye exams and selling glasses in their communities. WP understands the true spirit of philanthropy, which is not to put a Band-Aid on a bad situation, but to heal it.
We at McKinsey Development believe the attainment of success is an ongoing education for all of us. Anyone can grow an idea or a business with the right support. Sometimes the best way to find inspiration is to look around and learn from others whose principles resonate.
Do you know what the best political campaigns have mastered? The power of integrated marketing. For the purposes of this blog, I'm simply talking about the positive campaign strategy tactics that serve to introduce potential voters to a particular brand (candidate).
Here are ten campaign marketing tidbits that will help your business succeed:
1.) Be consistent.
If there is one thing politicians have figured out, it is the importance of message consistency. This applies to where they stand on issues, how they interact with the media and how they present themselves on a day-to-day basis with the general public. We can all think of epic political fails where inconsistency or waffling has cost public sentiment. How does that apply to your small business or brand? Simple (in theory at least): make sure you are presenting a consistent brand proposition and message on the ground and in the cloud.
2.) Utilize multiple marketing channels.
A campaign media mix will typically include everything from T.V., radio and print advertising to sophisticated social media outreach, website optimization and regular content marketing. Campaigns are appealing to diverse and multi-generational audiences and they understand that they need to be where their constituents are. If your business serves a diverse audience base, take note of the multi-channel marketing approach campaigns employ--they invest in integration for a reason.
3.) Print (still) works!
Speaking of multi-channel marketing...campaigns are traditionally strong advocates of both direct mail and print advertising. Direct mail offers a brand the opportunity to communicate directly with an end recipient in a way that is both personal and tactile. Done right, direct mail is a proven way to garner brand action and awareness. This is particularly true in smaller markets where there is limited access to T.V., radio and other means of outreach.
4.) Be human.
Campaigns understand that winning candidates must be likeable and engaging. They must speak in their own voices and respond to campaign questions in a manner consistent with their values and beliefs. The same applies to businesses and brands. A likeable brand typically has a unique personality that is human, approachable and, in some cases, even a personification of the actual product or service itself. Consider Apple's Siri, for example. The iPhone has been brought to life by the lovely and feminine Siri button. While Siri herself is clearly not human, Apple has provided Siri with human answers to common questions. I asked Siri this morning if I should have a second cup of Starbucks. She said, "I'm afraid I don't know what you should do." I like her.
5.) Go grassroots.
The social media sphere has opened the online playing field for social networking and interaction. In most cases, however, this is not substitute for the on-the-ground, door-to-door, campaigning we are so familiar with in the political arena. Hosting small business gatherings, putting up posters, setting up informational tables at exhibits and simply getting out and networking with your community is a great way to stay in touch with your audience and bring your brand to life.
6.) Play nice in the sandbox.
Just a gentle reminder. A candidate who runs on pointing out where his or her opponent is lacking has said nothing about why he or she is more qualified for the position. The best campaigns (and businesses) focus on educating their audience about what makes them worth investing in—be it with your votes or your money-- instead of focusing on what makes their competition less capable.
7.) Know your target audience.
Campaigns thrive on information, details and data. Candidates map out target geographic areas and know, down to the household, past voting preferences and behaviors. They study demographics, psychographics and geographic information. Getting to know your audience helps you make good decisions and analyze how, when and where to reach them most effectively. Do you have strong data about the audiences you serve?
8.) Take it outside.
Tired of seeing campaign signs in yards throughout your community? Fortunately, campaign seasons pass and so will the yard signs. What remains is a lesson for businesses regarding the power of outdoor advertising. Billboards, banners and storefront signage is very important. It creates awareness. It works. If you are a business owner with limited outdoor exposure, consider sponsoring events and happenings in your area that allow for the placement of a banner promoting your business. Just like a voter is unlikely to say to a candidate, "I voted for you because you had a cool yard sign," a consumer is unlikely to tell you they are buying from you because of a banner they saw at a Twilight Polo event. But awareness and exposure matter—and help lead to conversions. So put the banner out anyway. Though not as trackable as an online sale that can be sourced back to, say, a Google AdWords campaign, outdoor advertising is an extremely important part of your overall integrated marketing communications strategy.
9.) Open the lines of communication.
Speaking of communications strategy, campaigns are really good at this too. Candidates make themselves available for events and forums and typically offer up multiple ways of reaching them directly via phone, email, social media and direct mail. The best candidates respond to feedback quickly and personally, whenever possible. (Even the President has a verified Twitter account now: @POTUS.) The same strategy should be employed by businesses and brands. Have you provided your audience with multiple ways to reach you and provide feedback? And once they have provided feedback, who is tasked with engaging, responding to and interacting with your business audience?
10.) Track everything.
A final campaign learning point is in the metrics arena. Good campaigns track everything. They regularly poll audiences and course correct when necessary to ensure they are on the right path. They review and study metrics across all platforms and take an active interest in percentages, behavior and results. We know that knowledge is power. In our new media world, data is power. Are you effectively tracking, evaluating and adjusting strategy when needed as result of your businesses metrics?
While politics and marketing your business may superficially appear to be worlds apart, consider the fact that a new business outreach strategy designed to shape sentiment or attract new customers is referred to as a marketing "campaign." And, campaigning in and of itself, doesn’t have to be a dirty game. See #6 above….
Websites are the most commonly used point-of-contact for your customers. They’re your virtual office, the digital face of your company. Where as people used to keep brochures and business cards stuffed in their junk drawers, stuck to their refrigerators, or piled into their rolodexes, all of that same information is now accessed with the click of a mouse. No magnets or rolodexes required.
If you’ve been considering a website redesign, upgrade, or complete overhaul (or even if you haven’t), here are five questions to ask yourself when deciding if you need a new website.
Does my current website accurately portray my company’s vision and personality?
Websites are not just hubs of information anymore. They can be stunning visual displays of your creativity, vision, and personality. If your current website is only there to house a novel of content, it’s time to get a new website.
Does my current website sell me like I sell me?
You’re in business because you know how to sell. You know how to sell your company and your product or service. You want your website to be as convincing and charismatic as you are when speaking with investors, customers and clients. If your website is your lowest-earning sales associate, it’s time to find a new one.
Does my current website give my customers accurate and thorough information on all my products or services?
A standout website will always have the most up-to-date information on your company. You want your website to be equipped with accurate and thorough information so your visitors aren’t left to wonder. If your website doesn’t have all the necessary information to best sell your product or services, it’s time for a revamp.
How many pages does my current website have?
Websites are becoming more and more streamlined and simple. An increasingly popular design is the one-page, scrolling website that houses all information on one, continuous page (like mckinseydevelopment.com). This may not be your style, but if you have to click through five non-relevant pages to find what you’re looking for, it’s time for a redesign.
Does my 15 year old think my website is “cool”?
Sometimes a business-owner can be too emotionally involved to make an objective assessment. Asking someone like your son or daughter to evaluate your website will give you a fresh, modern, and honest opinion about the success of your website. If they can’t bear to look at it for more than three seconds, it’s time to get a new website as quickly as possible.
Your website doesn’t have to be the most cutting-edge, hipster, or “fleek” page out there, but it does have the potential to be your hardest working employee for less than what you’d pay to hire a new sales associate. In order to be successful, though, your website needs to be equipped to represent your business how you’d expect you, or that new employee, to represent your business. A little digital TLC can go a long way for your ROI.
Think Beyond the Written Word
Get creative with your content and think beyond the standard 250-300 word blog post. You can diversify your content marketing plan by incorporating:
- Short videos
- Downloadable case studies
- Guest blog posts
These are just a few ideas to help you get started. Add in one or two and track engagement. You'll be glad you did. See you tomorrow.
Create a Content Marketing Plan
A documented content marketing strategy is an essential part of your success. Rather than simply winging it as you go along, set aside some time to write a content marketing plan. The plan should answer the following questions:
Why am I launching a content marketing strategy?
Who am I trying to reach?
What will I write about?
How will I define success?
When will I post?
Once you've answered the questions above, put your plan in calendar format. It can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet with columns for date of publication, topic and keywords to include in each post.
Note, sixty-one percent of marketers list not having enough time as their key content marketing challenge. Having a plan in place in advance will save you time and keep you on track.
Market your content marketing!
Writing great content is just the first step in a solid content marketing plan. Getting it seen is the next step. Here are several ways you can share your content with others:
Add your blog headline to a "What's New" or "Newsfeed" on the homepage of your website.
Share your blog via Social Media outlets (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.)
Add a blog link to an e-newsletter.
Add a link to your latest blog post in the signature line of your email.
Remember, great content unread is, well, great content unread. Happy sharing.
Growing up in a big card-playing family, I used to always hear my dad say, “you can play a good hand bad, but you can’t play a bad hand good.” As a graphic designer and a photographer, I work with images all day. It’s my job to use photography and create graphics to tell the most compelling story for our clients. In my world, then, my dad’s old adage translates, “you can use great photos and make a terrible product, but you can’t use terrible photos to make a great product.”
When planning your marketing spending this year, here are five reasons why you should consider investing in professional photography:
1. People remember a cool photo.
Just think about all the memes, GIFs, and videos that go viral with the help of social media and blogs. If you’ve got something cool, weird, funny, scary or inspirational, people remember it and share it with their friends. On the flip side, you don’t want your photo to be remembered because it was “that bad.”
2. The style of a photo gives your brand personality.
Certain brands have that distinct personality you can pick out even before seeing their logo. This strengthens your brand and makes consumers feel closer to and more familiar with the company, a.k.a more inclined to buy their product or hire their services. Professional photography can capture a company’s culture and the team behind that company – making you more recognizable.
3. The quality of a photo reflects the quality of your company.
Photography has a way of being that “first impression” for your company. Unflattering or cheap imagery can communicate a lack of pride in your work as well as unpreparedness. Bad photography doesn’t accurately portray the hard work and talent of your company. Professional photography can.
4. People have a higher expectation of photography in our digital world.
With the rise of digital cameras and photo editing software, photography has become a much more accessible trade open to amazing creative talent. This shift has created a level of expectation with the public because they are now so inundated with attractive and creative photography in the marketing and editorial world on a daily basis. A failure to meet that expectation makes your company look behind-the-times and irrelevant to the modern consumer.
5. Good photography keeps your marketing agency happy!
I may have thrown this one in for my own benefit. But it’s true. Your marketing agency wants to see you succeed. They want to give you the best, most creative tools to support your success. They hate having to give you a so-so product because they couldn’t “play a bad hand good.” Photoshop is a powerful tool, but it’s not the answer to everything.
As part of any marketing plan that you develop with your marketing agency or internal marketing director, remember to include a professional photography budget and schedule new product, portfolio, and headshot photography on a regular basis. Chances are your agency or marketing director knows and already works with a number of reputable professional photographers in the area that will fit the personality and needs of your company.
Check out the SLR ProShots website to see the fascinating contrast between professional vs. bad photography when trying to promote your business. Which company would you hire?
We are now accepting applications for our highly competitive and somewhat novel summer internship program.
Approaching our sixth-year anniversary, we have crafted an opportunity for a dynamic internship experience offered to two selected candidates each summer. This year’s program promises to bolster that opportunity, as a response to the numerous inquiries we've received.
Unlike many internship programs, our program is open to both students and professionals. Candidates may be industry veterans seeking to add agency experience, post-graduates wishing to hone skills in an area of specialization, or college students looking to earn credits toward their degrees. Two positions will be available beginning as early as June 1 and continuing 8 weeks (or the hours equivalent to meet credit requirements).
Because we seek to offer the widest-ranging opportunities to our interns, there are no specific requirements for consideration beyond the simple application process. We will be conducting a competitive selection process looking to hire the two best candidates based on a combination of interest in the agency experience, enthusiasm and commitment to learn and grow.
Successful candidates will be exposed to all facets of the agency, but will have the opportunity to concentrate on a specific area of interest. Available program concentrations include content writing, graphic design, media relations, marketing communications, digital strategy, and public relations, among others. Each internship’s structure will depend on the successful candidate’s expressed interest in a specified area.
Because we expect to conduct a competitive application process, and positions are limited, we will also extend an afternoon of on-site shadowing to finalists who do not make the cut. Internship selections will be announced March 15.
Applicants who wish to apply may submit a resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org and schedule a time to attend McKinsey Development’s discover fair for interview. Applications will be accepted through February 28.
We’ve witnessed incredible growth in online video uploads this past year. In 2014, Facebook reported that there were 1 billion Facebook video views per day. With this emerging growth, you might find yourself asking how you can promote your business through video and how to include it in your digital strategy.
Last week, a few members of our team participated in a webinar titled, 9 Tips for an Integrated Video & Social Strategy, hosted by our friends at Sprout Social and Wistia.
Our key takeaways:
Videos don’t equal one and done.
Use video marketing to attract new followers. There are a couple of ways you can do this: teach others, build trust and demonstrate expertise. Different topics attract different followers. Regularity will help you improve that following.
Shorter is better.
Keep your videos short. You want your audience to stay captivated.
Pay attention to the analytics.
One video doesn’t translate the same message to all audiences. It’s important to pay attention to what kind of videos draw engagement and conversions on various platforms.
Check out the YouTube channel for Dropbox, a company who seems to have their strategy down.
I recently had the pleasure of joining the McKinsey Development (MKD) team as its Vice President of Client Services. I’ve been thoroughly inspired, enlightened and refreshed by my experiences here so far. Almost as soon as I walked through the door, I felt the palpable enthusiasm of an adaptive culture in which team members wholeheartedly embrace one another’s ideas and talents. This is the very same team-building ideology that propels companies like Google into a stratum of excellence that only a short list of businesses has ever achieved.
How is it that a company like Google, a multibillion-dollar organization with nearly 50,000 employees, is able to achieve a work culture where employees are innovative, productive and feel valued? The answer is simple: up until recently in the history of doing business, the idea that work can be enjoyable and satisfying has been assumed to be a rarity (and almost never a necessity). Google’s doctrines of a positive work culture changed all that when they caused a ripple of excitement across the business world. These are new ideas, even hopeful ideas, and they seem to be taking off.
We have good news for you, small- and medium-sized businesses—you don’t have to be Google to create a fun and innovative company culture.
Below is a condensed list of key characteristics that yield a successful company culture:
Encouraging creativity and brainstorming
Challenging the team to propose improvements on company processes
Placing trust in one another
Maintaining positivity in conversations and demeanor
Cultivating an openness to evolve and be educated
Allocating credit and praise to coworkers’ achievements, however small
Having a clear strategy behind the introduction of new information
Committing to being engaged in business practices that work
Having confidence in peers’ and co-workers’ capabilities
Being honest and receptive to positive criticism
Being reasonable with time constraints and obstacles that occur
This may seem complex and challenging to maintain, especially as your business grows. Do not be deterred from this big task. Like anything, a positive company culture will not materialize without action. Evaluation and assessment should take place at regular intervals--nurture your company’s culture as you would a living thing. The more these features are integrated into your attitude and actions, the more naturally your company’s culture will thrive.
You may even have fun.
Five minutes before an internal business development team meeting this week, I found myself searching for a prop. I needed something visual to demonstrate a dramatic marketing shift that has been evolving over the past few years. A search through the kitchen in hopes of apples or oranges ending up producing a bowl of medium cheddar cheese cubes (which had clearly been in the refrigerator for quite a while...thankfully Lily organized an early spring cleaning this afternoon). But, cheese would do it!
The concept on the table was around the frustration business owners are facing making marketing decisions in a changing world. Just a few decades ago it was "The Big Three" in the advertising arena: print, radio and television. I lined up three cheese cubes at one end of the ping pong table for effect. Suddenly, enter two new types of cheese. Bigger, bolder and sharper: the Internet and the smartphone. A total of five square cheddar cubes now captivated the attention of our board room.
But, if it were as simple as two new advertising mediums entering the playing field, it would not be keeping business owners up at night wondering how they are going to reach new prospects.
No, these two new players (the Internet and smartphone) come with hundreds of new "channels" all vying for the same audience "The Big Three" once commandeered. The Internet "channels" range from pay per click, content marketing, Social Media and native advertising to geographically specific online publications, e-mail marketing and review sites (and that's just to name a few). Meanwhile, smartphone "channels" are competing for advertising dollars in ways ranging from apps, text marketing and live stream radio advertising to mobile web ads and push messaging (and yes, that's also just to name a few).
Audiences are engaged across all of these different channels (some simultaneously) and you, the business owner, find your fight, flight or freeze reflex kicking into gear.
Pile on the fact that our original three (print, radio and television) are also evolving to stay relevant by adding their own new "channels" and it's almost overwhelming.
We're talking thousands of different advertising combinations, and hundreds of different advertising channels competing for your marketing dollars.
And if you aren't strategic in your decision making you could end up with nothing to show for your spend other than your invoices!
First things first:
1.) Seek professional help. If you don't have a trusted marketing adviser or agency with demonstrated results navigating through these channels with you--find one. You are a busy business leader focused on delivering premier products or services. Bring someone on who is focused on helping you be in the right places, at the right times in an engaging and compelling manner.
2.) Don't abandon what's working for you--supplement it. There's a lot of pressure to make the marketing leap to digital and social. That being said, if you have tried and true traditional advertising strategies that work for your business, keep them! Supplement the traditional with the progressive to make sure you are remaining relevant without jumping ship completely on strategies that are delivering for you.
3.) Double your marketing budget. Yes, this is a bold statement and there will be instances when this recommendation is not applicable to your specific type of business. But, most small businesses are not allocating enough money towards marketing. As the wise adage goes, you must spend money to make money, and you have to do more than dip your toe in the water to see results "in a world with a thousand channels." A good rule of thumb for measuring success is a double return on your marketing investment. If you invest $50K in marketing over the course of the year, you should increase your revenue by at least $100K (note that this will vary by industry and your respective profit margin--ask the professional help referenced in the first point). If you are just starting out and you don't know how much to allocate towards marketing, use an objective-based budgeting approach. If you are aiming for a million dollar year, budget according to SBA marketing spend recommendations for your industry as a starting point (typically 7-8% of your revenue goal). In the case of the million dollar year, that would put your marketing budget in the $70k - $80k range.
|Less than $5 million
|More than $300 million
Back to the cheese.
It proved good for effect, but I'm contemplating alternate props before taking the show on the road. Any suggestions?