Interview: What I’ve Learned on the Small Business Journey

Editor’s Note: Thank you to Vizaca, an online magazine for global entrepreneurs and small business owners, for interviewing me about my small business journey. It was a pleasure to discover this resource and share my experience with others.

Jaime Shine, Owner of Clearly Conveyed Communications


Tell us about yourself?

I’m Jaime Shine, founder of Clearly Conveyed Communications. I’m a writer, marketing professional and social media strategist helping brands communicate with their target audiences.

While most kids were playing with blocks or dolls, I was publishing magazines and newspapers – feature articles, ads, sports box scores, the whole nine yards. From promotions director to advertising roles to branding projects, I’ve always been interested in all forms of marketing. That interest blossomed into a career path and led me to open my own business in 2012.

It’s been a crazy ride, but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Growing up in an unincorporated village, owning a business isn’t something you do. I’ve learned so much about business – and myself – along the way.

How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

It was an aha moment 15 years in the making. One day at work, I realized that so many small business owners don’t know how to market themselves and can’t afford traditional agency fees. With my diverse background in marketing, I could start a business offering professional marketing services and experience at affordable rates. I could give brands a voice – via marketing, writing and social media services – so business owners could focus on the reason they’re in business, their sweet spot, and not struggle with marketing decisions, writing copy and developing social media strategies. While I work with brands of all sizes, I do have a soft spot for fellow small businesses and startups.

“It was an aha moment 15 years in the making.”

How much potential market share can you achieve in next 3 years?

I’m not focused on market share, because I realize I’m a small fish in a big pond. My focus is on finding the right mix of clients that generate enough revenue while still allowing me to deliver the personal service they expect.

What was the best book or series that you’ve ever read?

Three books have impacted my life the most.

A Big Life in Advertising by Mary Wells Lawrence gave me big ideas about my future (in marketing and advertising) when I read it in college. Lawrence left her mark in a male-dominated space and encouraged me to do the same.

On Writing by Stephen King is a memoir by my favorite author and a straightforward, practical guide to help writers perfect their craft. This book (and a professor) inspired me to pursue writing as a career.

Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking felt like it was written for me. There’s value in listening to all voices – not only the loudest – in business and in life.

Browse CCC's work at https://jaimeshine.com/portfolio

 

What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?

My home makes me smile every time I walk in the door. Even though I bought it at the worst possible time (right before the Great Recession), it was a smart decision. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for 10 ½ years!

Owning a home can be frustrating and expensive, so my worst purchase has probably been a service company who failed to live up to my expectations (or even show up).

What takes up too much of your time?

Owning a business takes a lot of time. I’ve implemented processes to handle administrative work more efficiently and am starting to outsource some activities, such as IT, but there’s still room to improve. The more I can focus on my clients and revenue-generating activity, the more my business will succeed.

What three pieces of advice would you give to college students/new startup business owners who want to become entrepreneurs?

Learn from every opportunity. Pay attention and make yourself useful in every situation, from the classroom to volunteer work to your current job. It may not seem related to what you want to do, but there’s insight to be had if you’re looking for it.

Network, network, network. Your professional network can be a big boost to your career or business, but it’s up to you to build and maintain it. Get to know professionals in your industry, offer your help when appropriate and listen when they speak.

Plan and adapt. Starting a business is a big risk, but you can mitigate your risk by planning as much as possible. Why do you want to start a business? What market need are you satisfying? Who is your target audience or ideal customer? How will you pay for your business? Despite all your planning, you’ll need to adapt – to changing consumer tastes, market conditions and life occurrences. The ability to adapt is one of the biggest advantages of startups and small businesses, and you’ll need it to succeed.

Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

I’m impressed by Richard Branson, both his accomplishments and his outlook on life. He’s experienced successes and failures but learns from every situation, even today. He’s an innovative thinker, calculated risk taker and genuine human being.

Tell us about something you are proud of – about your greatest challenge.

This spring, my business celebrated its sixth anniversary. Most small businesses fail, so I’m proud that Clearly Conveyed Communications is still giving brands a voice. It’s been a long, winding road, but what a feeling of accomplishment!

How should people connect with you?

Visit my website for my full contact information, so we can connect via your preferred channel. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

*****

Are you an entrepreneur or small business owner? Vizaca can help you showcase your business, connect you with the right audience and promote your products and services worldwide.

Continuing on the small business journey,
Jaime

https://www.facebook.com/ClearlyConveyedCommunications/ LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30 https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

 

Social Media’s Sizzling New Features You Need to Know About

Summer may conjure up lazy days at the beach, but social media platforms have been busy debuting new features. Here’s a summer roundup of features you may have missed, so you can incorporate them into your social media strategies.

Social Media's Sizzling New Features You Need to Know About

Is your brand utilizing all of the new features on your favorite social media platforms?

Instagram

It started in May with an improved inbox. More than 150 million active daily users converse with businesses through Instagram Direct each month, so the platform added more tools for business owners to manage these conversations. You can now star important messages for follow-up, and IG is testing quick replies. In addition, messages now come directly to your inbox instead of languishing in the oft-forgotten Pending section.

Related: Making it Easier to Do Business on Instagram

Then, the popular platform went crazy and introduced five new features in a month! Everyone is talking about IGTV, Instagram’s new platform for long-form vertical video content. It’s available in the upper right hand corner of your app (next to Instagram Direct), or you can download the standalone IGTV app. Will IGTV become a major competitor to YouTube or fade away over time?

Other new features that may benefit your business include group video chat (now available in Instagram Direct), music and question stickers in Instagram Stories and an updated Explore page. The new stickers can help you show personality, draw more eyes (and ears) to your Stories and increase engagement with fans and customers.

Related: 5 New Instagram Features to Help Grow Your Business this Summer

LinkedIn

LinkedIn continues to expand its features, so it’s important that you maintain an active presence. It’s no longer enough to post a resume and forget about it. Even if you’re not actively pursuing new employment, this platform presents a multitude of opportunities: making professional connections, strengthening relationships, seeking new clients and establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field.

We enjoy pulling a quote from an article to highlight an important point and encourage conversation, so we’re excited to see LinkedIn make it easier to do. Now you can highlight a quote, right click and share it to your feed or message it privately on mobile. It will automatically include a link to the article along with your quote as the caption.

LinkedIn's new capabilities

Another exciting new development is the ability to save drafts directly on the LinkedIn platform. Say you’re browsing articles and find three that you’d like to share. Share them, write your caption (or pull a quote) and save as a draft. You can share it at a future date in order to share your content at optimal times for your audience.

The Posts & Activity shortcut (now available on your account drop-down menu) is an easy way to see what you have shared recently with your network. The built-in translator will come in handy when connecting with professionals across the word, and video captions help you communicate with viewers even when they’re watching your video silently, which people commonly do today.

Twitter

Not to be outdone, Twitter has been rolling out new features too. The platform announced it will begin showing related topics in its Trending Topics listing, which could help you tap into trending news. The related topics can give you a more complete view of the trending discussion, so you can see if a tie-in to your brand is appropriate and what additional hashtags to use.

Twitter also removed millions of accounts from follower numbers, cracking down on suspicious and spam accounts. Remember that active, targeted followers are more important than quantity, and don’t ever buy followers. This update will help make follower counts more accurate and add more legitimacy to influencer marketing on Twitter.

Finally, Twitter is making an effort to improve users’ experience by adding the ability to dock videos, so you can keep watching while you scroll. This may lengthen the amount of time viewers watch your videos or even boost views overall.

Facebook

Meanwhile, Facebook has made changes while trying to climb back into users’ good graces. The beleaguered social platform removed its Trending section to make room for future news experiences, such as exclusive video news content on Facebook Watch.


 

The social giant also introduced Keyword Snooze to help users further control their News Feed. This feature allows users to temporarily hide posts with a specific keyword or phrase from people, Pages and Groups for 30 days. It joins Facebook’s other News Feed controls: See First, Hide, Unfollow and Snooze.

Speaking of Groups, Facebook introduced Subscription Groups, so admins can charge for the content they provide group members. This could be a new distribution option for your brand’s premium content, such as in-depth tutorials, live streams of event sessions and video coaching sessions.

As we were compiling this roundup of new features, some platforms dropped even more new features.

Instagram Adds Active Status Notifiers to Fuel Real-Time Connection
Facebook Adds Option to Merge Instagram Contacts into Messenger
Bring Your Conversations to Life with New Updates in LinkedIn Messaging
Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter partner for ambitious new data project

Watch for more insight on these new features and how they can help you build your brand and connect with your communities in future articles. What new feature are you most excited about? Does one or two platforms work better for you than the others? Do you utilize different platforms for different reasons?

We would love to discuss social media marketing with you! Leave your comments below, contact us to discuss your needs or connect with us on social, so we can stay in touch.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

https://www.facebook.com/ClearlyConveyedCommunications/ LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30 https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

50 Things I’m Grateful For, Summer 2018 Edition

The tradition continues. Each year since 2012 (the year I started CCC), I’ve published a list of 50 things I’m grateful for. This isn’t a 5-minute exercise. I create the list over the course of weeks or even months. Oftentimes, I’ll jot down an activity I’m doing or a memory triggered by a conversation or passage in a book. What are you grateful for?

Celebrating CCC's 6th anniversary in the office

My business, Clearly Conveyed Communications, turned 6 in May. That’s something to be grateful for!

 

50 Things I’m Grateful For, Summer 2018 Edition

  • Coffee shop patios on overcast, stressful days
  • My smartphone — and the mobility it provides
  • Rare moments that I can put my phone away
  • Ocean waves crashing
  • Playing with my nephew
  • Meeting fellow KSU alumni
  • Handwritten cards, letters and notes
  • Instagram Stories
  • My niece, who’s growing into another strong Shine woman
  • Stephen King

  • Lifelong friends
  • Fireworks on a summer night
  • Listening to the orchestra
  • Firetrucks in parades
  • Brands who own their voice
  • 80’s movies
  • Classic rock
  • Finishing a workout and feeling strong
  • Linda by Chuck Close
  • Rollerskating (and Roller Derby)

  • Capturing a moment — in picture or prose
  • Creating content
  • Solving problems
  • Reliable technology
  • The power of putting pen to paper
  • Traveling for pleasure
  • Experiencing different cultures
  • Taking a journey in a book
  • Donating plasma to those who need it
  • Exploring trails

 

A lake view

I love water views — while working, relaxing or contemplating life.

 

  • Water views
  • CCC’s 6th anniversary
  • Small victories
  • Eating tacos on a patio on a beautiful, summer day
  • Sipping a latte
  • Long weekends
  • Touchscreen devices
  • Solving WONDERWORD, crossword and other word puzzles
  • Different viewpoints
  • Aha moments

  • Pocket, Evernote and other productivity apps
  • Mesmerizing stories and storytellers
  • Editing and revising a rough draft into sharp content with a clear message
  • Vegetarian enfrijoladas
  • Family
  • Outdoor concerts and movies
  • A night at the ballpark
  • Food carts and street food
  • Reaping the fruits (and vegetables) of a garden
  • Strong women

That’s my list for the summer of 2018. Take a moment to think about what you’re grateful for in your life right now. Share your list, however long or short, in the comments or leave a link to your own post. Writing down what you’re grateful for is a powerful exercise to remember to count the blessings in your life.

So, what are you grateful for?

Counting my blessings,
Jaime

Let’s connect:
https://www.facebook.com/ClearlyConveyedCommunications/ LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30 https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

Vlog: CCC Turns 6!

 

This week, my crazy, little venture turned six. It’s been a roller coaster ride, but I would do it all over again.

I’m blessed to work with amazing people and am so appreciative of everyone who has supported me — and my fledgling business — along the way.

It’s been so much fun (and life-changing) to build a business from the ground up and watch CCC grow. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

If you have a marketing challenge, writing opportunity or social media question, we would love to help.

Thank you for the past six incredible, challenging years, which have felt like a lifetime, yet passed in the blink of an eye.

We’re looking forward to working with you!

Grateful and proud,

Jaime

Vlog: Showcase Your Event in a Show Daily

Last week, CCC was in Indianapolis creating content and getting social with over 34,000 firefighters from around the world at FDIC International 2018. In addition to impressive signage and booth displays, we picked up another cool idea — a Show Daily.

This tabloid-sized publication shared highlights from the previous day’s events. It’s also a great way to feature sponsors, hot/new products and actionable takeaways for attendees to follow up on during or after the show.

A practical piece that also serves as a memento from your event! How can you utilize a Show Daily?

Why Customer Experience Should Be Your Focus in 2018

Editor’s Note: We’re excited to welcome Dan Ridge as a contributor to the CCC blog!

The customer is always right has long been a business adage. In today’s highly competitive environment, it’s more than just selling products to customers; it’s about providing them with a seamless and enjoyable experience throughout the time they’re in touch with your business.

Why Customer Experience Should Be Your Focus in 2018

Whether they’re looking at your website, talking to a sales rep, or reading one of your brochures, the customer should gain value and insight from their experience of dealing with your business, which is why everyone is talking about customer experience.

Good customer experience has a huge role to play in whether a customer buys from you and can be the key decision-making factor. I interviewed Rory at Promotions Warehouse and asked for his view on why customer experience should be your focus for 2018.

A good experience increases overall customer satisfaction

Research has shown that providing a consistent approach to customers throughout their customer journey with your business can increase customer satisfaction by around 20%. If every touch point the customer has with you from initial contact to purchase to post-sales communication is consistent and positive, that customer will be far happier than one who bought your product, but experienced poor service while doing so.

A good experience means customers are more likely to come back

It’s far less expensive for businesses to carry out repeat business with loyal customers than to constantly attract new customers all the time. Enjoying a great customer experience is a very good way to ensure customer loyalty to your brand. If they have a positive experience dealing with you, they’re more likely to come back again and again. Customer experience is what will make you stand out from your competitors and adds value to your customers, so they won’t want to risk switching their business elsewhere.

Customers who are happy will spread the word

If your customers have a good experience, they’re more likely to spread the word among their friends and colleagues, which can lead to an increase in referrals.

They’re also more likely to write favorable reviews on your website and to praise you in online forums or groups on social media. All this free word of mouth publicity can only enhance your business reputation and spread your name to other potential customers who might not otherwise have heard of your business.

“Good customer experience is more than just selling customers a product they need at the right price; it’s about providing them with consistent communication, tailored messaging and information which is valuable and interesting to them.”

Good customer experience is your key differential

Unless your product or service is completely unique, you have some competition out there in the marketplace. With others offering the same product, the only differential for customers is their experience buying from your business.

Offering superior customer service compared with your competitors is a clear way to make your brand stand out and help your customers with their decision-making process. It’s also a better long-term strategy than trying to beat competitors solely on price.

Happy customers spend more money

Customers who enjoy the experience of working with you or dealing with your business are far more likely to spend more money with you. Research has shown that customers who enjoy good customer service are 70% more likely to spend more money with a business than those who have experienced an adequate level of service.

They’re not just more likely to become loyal and repeat customers but also customers who spend more each time they use your products or services. This is one of the biggest reasons why customer experience should be your focus for this year if you want to grow your business.

Building long-term customer relationships

If you can create a great customer experience, you’ll be able to build a long-term relationship with your customers, keeping them coming back repeatedly.

In today’s consumer society, customers are bombarded with messages and marketing material at every turn. Creating consistent personalized, tailored customer communications will help your brand break through the noise and stand out in their minds.

If customers look forward to your emails/mailers/catalogues/offers because they know they’ll be relevant and interesting, you’ll be able to build lasting relationships with them to help create a sustainable business.

Good customer experience is more than just selling customers a product they need at the right price; it’s about providing them with consistent communication, tailored messaging and information which is valuable and interesting to them. Customers need to have a great experience at every single touch point with your company, from the first ad they see to when they walk through the doors. If that happens, your business will benefit.

Weigh In on Customer Experience

How does your company offer a good customer experience?
What companies provide you with an enjoyable customer experience?
What other benefits do a quality customer experience deliver?

Dan Ridge is a freelance writer specializing in marketing and small business.

 

Super Bowl 52: Winners and Losers on the Big Stage

What a game! I had no rooting interest on the field this year, so I was happy to enjoy the back-and-forth action that went down to the wire. Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles on the franchise’s first championship! Now let’s move on to the competitors who paid big bucks to catch a piece of the action — and the audience’s purchasing power.

Icelandic Vikings on The All-New Ram 1500

Winners

  • The Ram Trucks commercial had it all: natural product integration, a journey to the Super Bowl, a compelling story, great music and a not-so-subtle jab at the home team. It even contained a strong call-to-action (CTA), inviting viewers to watch the full story on its website.
  • “It’s a Tide ad.” A laundry detergent company won the Super Bowl. Tide ran a commercial in every quarter telling viewers how every other ad was actually a Tide ad. Its efforts spilled over to social media, as other brands started to join the conversation, realizing their own ads were actually Tide ads. What’s even better than telling a great story? Other people (and brands) telling your story for you. Plus, Tide’s dominance helped take attention off the ridiculous Tide Pod Challenge, which the company only mentioned on social (smart move).

  • Doritos and Mountain Dew joined forces in the rap battle to end all rap battles. Peter Dinklage (Doritos Blaze) and Morgan Freeman (Mountain Dew Ice) showcased two new products in a joint 60-second spot, inviting viewers to vote for their favorite (#SPITFIRE or #ICECOLD) on social. And vote they did! The two PepsiCo brands won Twitter’s inaugural BrandBowl by driving the highest velocity of most-tweets-per-minute. The spot was entertaining, introduced new products to a receptive audience, integrated well with social and contained a strong CTA. Who did you vote for: #SPITFIRE or #ICECOLD?
  • Wendy’s roasted its main competitor with McDonald’s own website. If you follow the fast food brand on Twitter, its commercial continued the same sassy tone that the brand is known for. Brand voice needs to be consistent across all platforms and marketing vehicles, and Wendy’s is all in. Now millions of Super Bowl viewers know where to go for fresh, never frozen beef — and it’s not the Frozen, er Golden Arches.
  • The NFL had a long and controversial season, but the league was a big winner on Super Bowl Sunday with a thrilling game and epic commercial. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. have big plans in Touchdown Celebrations to Come. The league teased the commercial throughout the game, piquing the audience’s interest, and then nailed its moment (just like Eli and OBJ did). This campaign had it all: nostalgia, a big market team, two popular stars, an iconic movie and a reminder there are more touchdowns to come next season, which isn’t that far away.

Iconic FDNY (Fire Dept of New York) Rescue

  • Verizon answered the call by dedicating its Super Bowl spot to first responders. The telecommunications company connected survivors with first responders who saved their lives, so they could say thanks. It was a powerful ad that highlighted often unsung heroes and had a strong connection to the brand. (This is important with any ad to avoid a disconnect with the viewing audience.) Listening to the phone calls between survivors and first responders made us smile, and we join with Verizon in offering #AllOurThanks to first responders everywhere.
  • Budweiser highlighted its corporate responsibility efforts by showcasing its water donation program. The King of Beers has delivered cans of water to areas hit by natural disasters for 30 years and is adding another brewery to its program by the end of 2018. The company’s social platforms carried the message further, inviting visitors to learn more about its program and donate to relief efforts. The initial notes of Stand By You grabbed viewers’ attention and the heart-warming (and timely) message made us feel good, even without its famous Clydesdales. (Don’t worry, the famous Clydesdales did appear in Beer Country online.)

Losers

  • How does a company win and lose in the same game? Ask Ram Trucks. The company’s Icelandic Vikings commercial was a hit, but its Built to Serve ad fell flat — and offended many. We appreciate the brand’s attempt to create a sense of community among its customers and highlighting their call to serve, but using Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech was not the way to go. The brand’s 2013 Super Bowl commercial utilized Paul Harvey’s So God Made a Farmer speech in a similar format, which made sense — and was a hit with the audience. It’s tempting to try to recreate the past, but that’s a risky proposition, especially when you fail the second time around.
  • Ditto, T-Mobile. The mobile company likes to be seen as disrupting its industry, but missed the mark with its Super Bowl ad, Little Ones. I was surprised when the logo appeared at the end of the commercial and saw no connection to the brand or what it does. (Note the contrast with Verizon’s ad, which utilized its capabilities to do good and won with viewers.)
  • The all-new Chevy Traverse is a well-designed family car, and its commercial does a fantastic job of highlighting that. Unfortunately, this ad has been running for at least a month. Why spend $5 million on a media buy to run regular content?

Honorable Mention

  • Best Continuation of Overall Campaign: Toyota, Good Odds (Mobility for All)
  • Most Improved: Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans
  • Target Audience Hit: Avocados from Mexico, #GuacWorld
  • Carried Over Post-Game Momentum: Mucinex, POSTGAME (#SuperSickMonday)

Overall, the ads were as strong as the game. Who was the biggest winner? The audience. Unless we were in a Tide ad too.

Do you agree with our winners, losers and honorable mention?
Who won your Brand Bowl?

I watch the commercials all year-
Jaime

https://www.facebook.com/ClearlyConveyedCommunications/ LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30 https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

How To Find the Right Influencer For Your Brand

In our last post of 2017, guest blogger Tanya Sen shared Why Influencer Engagement is Important in Digital Marketing. Partnering with an influencer can boost your digital marketing efforts, but you need to put together a plan before diving into a relationship.

How To Find the Right Influencer For Your Brand by Clearly Conveyed Communications

A Partnership Made in Heaven… or Not

The success of your influencer marketing efforts will hinge on who you partner with. Is this individual or group a good fit for your brand? Will your audience — and theirs — believe the influencer uses your product or service? If not, you’re unlikely to see any real return on investment (ROI) from your efforts. The influencer’s posts or ads may draw high engagement due to his or her star power, but it won’t carry over to your brand.

Who Is An Influencer?

When you think of an influencer, you may think celebrity, but that’s not always the case. Especially in B2B marketing, it helps if your influencer has clout or expertise in your area or some type of tie-in. For example, uni-ball® partnered with legendary identity theft expert, Frank Abagnale, to promote the tamper-resistant ink in its pens. Abagnale’s story was told in Catch Me If You Can, and he now works with the FBI to help them catch identity theft criminals.

Micro-Influencers May Deliver A Big Win

When you’re looking for the right influencer to partner with, look closely at your loyal supporters or key personalities in your niche. This person may not have a massive following on social, but you’ve noticed he or she has an active audience interested in what you do — and this micro-influencer’s opinion on the subject. You may have found yourself a partner who can help drive your digital marketing efforts even though he or she has fewer than 10,000 followers and no celebrity status.

“Micro-influencers deliver 60% higher campaign engagement rates; moreover, those campaigns are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than those with influencers with larger followings.” -Ismael El-Qudsi, MarketingProfs

Look For Star Power In-House

You may find the perfect influencer for your brand in-house. Do any of your employees have a special relationship with your audience? Whether through a memorable personality or exceptional service with a smile, one or more of your employees may be an ideal influencer. In addition, an employee advocacy program can help your employees become more comfortable sharing your content on social and promoting your brand.

“In an average company, only 3% of employees share company-related content, but they are responsible for driving a 30% increase in the content’s total likes, shares, and comments.” -Katie Levinson, LinkedIn

Integration Is Key

Wherever you find an ideal influencer, integration into your brand messaging is key. It’s not enough to pay someone — famous or not — to post about your products and services. The partnership needs to “fit” and feel right to both audiences. Launching a new product or refreshing your brand? Bring in an influencer early on and integrate him or her into your marketing plans. True integration brings authenticity and better results.

Summary

Influencer marketing can drive your digital marketing efforts — and sales — to new heights, but take the time to plan your strategy before jumping into a relationship. Don’t get wooed by a trendy celebrity or hot fad that doesn’t make sense for your brand. Do your research to find the right fit, whether it’s a micro-influencer, employee or thought leader in your field, and remember to integrate your influencer into your marketing efforts and overall brand message to increase your chances of success.

What celebrity/brand partnership works well? Is a bad fit?
Has a micro-influencer helped boost your sales or encouraged you to buy?
What employees influence your purchasing behavior at a company?
What brands do a great job of integrating influencers into their overall marketing efforts?

CCC’s Chief Influencer,
Jaime

https://www.facebook.com/ClearlyConveyedCommunications/ LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30 https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

3 Ways To Capitalize on Marketing Trends in 2018

It’s that time of year: everyone is publishing their thoughts on the next big things in marketing. We’ve been keeping an eye on a number of projected trends for 2018 and year-end reviews from 2017. Here’s our take on how your business can capitalize.

3 Ways to Capitalize on Marketing Trends in 2018

More Quality, Less Quantity  

(We’re hoping) 2018 is the year that content marketing gets real. Due to budget cuts and information overload, along with some aha moments, brands started to spend more time creating and curating valuable content last year instead of sticking to rigid, conveyor belt-like content calendars. The result? Their higher quality content performed better even though they produced less of it, often much less.

“In 2017, our team cut email volume in North America by 50% while increasing engagement by 28%. That’s wild.” -Jon Dick, Hubspot

We’ve all been there. You need to send an email out tomorrow morning, and you’re running behind due to producing so much content. So you throw something together to stay on schedule. Stop. What value does this marketing email deliver to your recipients? What should they take away from it? If you can’t answer those questions, neither can your audience. (p.s. We’re not telling you to throw away your content calendars; just have some flexibility and keep your ultimate goal in mind.)

Less time spent churning out content creates more time for testing, analyzing data and developing or fine-tuning your strategy, including distribution.

Remember the Basics (Even in Our Brave, New Digital World)

Yes, social media and digital marketing have changed the game, but marketing basics still apply. Always keep your big picture in mind. Why are you in business? What are you ultimately trying to accomplish? Every marketing action should support this goal. Keep it in mind as you review your marketing plan or recent efforts. If you’re frustrated by your results, take a fresh look at what you’re doing. Could you achieve more with less? Is your audience on another platform, or have their contact preferences changed? It may be time to take a closer look at your buyer personas (or create them in the first place).

This sentiment was the basis for an article we published last year, Understanding Social Media Etiquette with Real-World Scenarios. We understand that social media and the digital realm can seem confusing and overwhelming at times, but it helps to take a step back and consider your actions in the real world (i.e. offline).

Get Personal — With a Human Touch 

Technology has improved marketing’s capabilities by leaps and bounds, but we can’t forget to add a human touch. Automation, chat bots, facial recognition, big data and more have allowed us to personalize a customer’s experience more than ever, but there are drawbacks too.

“All the pieces are now in place: AI, individualized personalization, emotional targeting, predictive marketing, automated creative generation, cross-device identity, location tracking and facial recognition.

This can delight some consumers and freak out others. So, a key skill for the best digital marketers will be understanding when to back off.” -Barry Levine, MarTech

Remember to be human when interacting with your audience online (and remember to interact with your audience in the first place). People like to do business with people, not faceless brands or companies. This is an area where small businesses have an advantage, as they can easily put a face behind the business name.

Use automation where you can to be more efficient, but don’t automate a human touch out of your online marketing efforts. Data can point your marketing in the right direction, but it requires human analysis to get there. Personalizing a buyer’s journey is fantastic, but don’t get creepy. Where is that line? That’s where you — and your human insight — come in.

Summary

While it can be tempting to jump on every trend or new platform, take time to think about your situation. What works for others, including well-known personalities, may not work for you. Focus on producing quality content that provides value to your audience, even if takes you longer. Mix your high-quality content with valuable content you curate from other reputable sources (and give them credit). You may be amazed at what you can accomplish with less.

While you’re focusing on creating high-quality content, remember marketing basics. They still apply in today’s high-tech, digital world. Social media has taken over marketing strategies everywhere, but it’s still a form of communication. Don’t forget to get social with your audience instead of just broadcasting content.

While you’re getting social, you’re being human — and that will continue to be a major part of marketing in 2018 and beyond. Technology is fantastic, but don’t get carried away. Add a human touch wherever you can, especially when interacting with customers, prospective customers and community members.

Good luck with your marketing efforts in 2018! We love to see companies doing marketing well. Have a question or need help with your efforts? Comment below, or contact us so we can help you communicate with your target audience.

p.s. Wondering about influencer marketing? We published a guest post, Why Influencer Engagement is Important in Digital Marketing, last week, and we’ll be following it up with a closer look at influencer marketing in 2018 next week.

A marketing (and espresso) aficionado,
Jaime

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