The term backward planning is borrowed from the educational field, and it describes the best way to define objectives and develop instructional techniques. Instead of beginning with a first, second, or third lesson, educators begin with the goals of a particular course. They identify what students are expected to know, and then proceed “backward” to create lessons.  

Lately, strategists have adopted this concept, applying it to marketing and other fields. The reason is simple: the method works. It allows marketers to propel their efforts forward, using the tools available to them, and reach more ambitious goals for clients. Here’s how. 

Backward Planning is Key to Success as a Marketer

Just as a writer can’t wait around for inspiration to strike, a marketer can’t assume that their audience will be engaged and interested every time they post something on Facebook. Especially if that something is a clever meme posted once every couple of months. 

The problem with clever ads or posts is that they’re not sustainable. You don’t catch lightning in a bottle every time. You have to have a purpose behind your marketing efforts. That’s the necessity behind backward planning. 

It takes planning with the end in mind—a benchmark teams need to reach, a value proposition their target audience needs to understand—to plan a variety of content across channels. Not all of the blogs, emails, or social media posts will be brilliant, but they’ll all be leading toward something; they’ll have a purpose that potential customers can understand.  

At Seafoam, We Don’t Chase Lightning, We Make the Weather

As our team develops strategy, we use a tried and true procedure. Together, we get to know our clients. We develop big goals and benchmarks. Then, we plan out how we’ll measure our progress and make adjustments going forward. Doing so gives us a solid framework to get creative while understanding the purpose behind it all. 

We aren’t chasing after that next bolt of lightning; we don’t have to. We have the tools, we have a plan, and we can easily measure what’s working and what isn’t. 

Giving Our Clients What They Really Need

In marketing, we take a message and we disseminate it to the public, in hopes of getting a big win for our client. But what happens when that message is muddled? What happens when what the client is asking for isn’t really what they need? 

Another skill that’s vital to a good marketing team is the ability to listen, and to listen to the questions behind the questions. Sometimes a client’s frustration has to do with a key marketing concept or strategy they’re missing—certain vocabulary that must be learned. In other words, many of our clients are just familiar enough with marketing buzzwords to be dangerous. 

When you work with clients, accept feedback on a project, and adjust your marketing strategy, you have to listen with all three of your ears. That is, you have to use your background knowledge, your intuition, and your communication skills to understand what they really need. Then, you have to deliver. 

Communicating the Seafoam Way

One way to deliver is by giving your target audience some scaffolding. You start with something they already know and understand. You evoke an emotion they’ve felt before. Then, you use that base and build upon it to teach them something new. 

So much of marketing is about educating the public, and doing so in a way that meets them where they are. You wouldn’t talk down to someone you wanted to win over (at least, you wouldn’t if you wanted your pitch to work!) and you wouldn’t lecture them to death either! 

Instead, you speak clearly. You give them information they can use. You inspire. That’s the real heart of marketing. 

Good Marketing Strategy Takes Both Smarts and Heart

Marketing, like education, is as much art as science. After all, you’re dealing with messy humans and their very messy feelings. You have to have a plan, and you have to have a heart, too. You need that just-right balance of hard and soft skills.

Once you open your ears and focus more on strategy and goals, you discover that truly creative marketing happens almost naturally. Lightning strikes more often. Your client trusts you a little more, and your efforts are increasingly effective. 

Learn more about the Seafoam process, and how we practice these tips day in and day out. Let us know if we can help your business. 

It has been about six months since the world first turned upside down. From mandatory shutdowns to supply chain disruptions, businesses had to quickly come to grips with the understanding that this new normal was absolutely not normal. Some companies had to adopt new safety protocols as they grappled with what it meant to be essential. Others had to lean into creative ideas to keep their employees working as customers hunkered down at home. As in most times of crisis, companies had to learn on the fly how to adapt to survive.

What do you do, as a business, when your customer’s needs shift overnight? Can you adapt in-person processes to an online world? How do you pivot to rise to a rapidly evolving marketplace? What do you do when what always worked before, doesn’t work now?

Hobbled by COVID-19, many of our clients are asking these very questions. Industries from healthcare to communications software have been upended by this virus, and every company is feeling it differently. One common theme among almost every industry is this: the time to identify ways to improve your digital marketing is NOW.

Rely on Data to Lead the Way

The first step in this process shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has ever worked with the team at Seafoam: you have to look at the data. If your customer’s behavior has changed in the past six months, the data should reflect that. So how can you tell if your past digital marketing strategy is no longer working? 

There are a number of ways to determine if your digital marketing has taken a hit in recent months. Initially, the first indicator may feel a little more intuitive. Maybe the phone is not as busy, or appointments are down. Perhaps your team’s schedules are not quite as full or, after years in your industry, something just feels off. Trusting your gut is important in the world of business, but it should always be coupled with a look at the data. If you can combine these two, you may be able to get a handle on your issue and rebound far more quickly. So jump into the data!

Indicator #1: My Overall Website Traffic is Down

One of the first stops on this data train is to look into analytics to see what the traffic to your site looks like. A word of caution, however, when looking at the data you find in analytics... Looking at one data point fixed in time can sometimes offer opportunities for misinterpretation. Instead, look at the data from a couple of angles to get a full picture of what’s going on.

Questions to ask yourself if you see a dip in website traffic

While this is not an exhaustive list, it should put you on the right path to understanding how COVID-19 has impacted your brand. Analytics is not the only place to look to understand how your users are behaving. In addition to understanding traffic patterns on the site, you can also look to other channels to see how your users are engaging with the brand. 

Indicator #2: Social Media Is No Longer Engaging

As COVID-19 forced more and more people to be at home, social media usage climbed. It became a safe way to interact with friends and family while you were stuck in the house. Sales people took to LinkedIn when their regular contacts weren’t in the office any more. Unburdened by typical workplace restrictions, many users hung out on Facebook while working remotely. In short, social networking surged during the pandemic. 

For many brands, this offered a golden opportunity to reach new customers and engage with existing customers. It provided a way for B2C brands to communicate new guidelines, restrictions, and even special offers in real time. Bored users also spent time showing support for their favorite brands on these platforms. Creating engaging content in these times became the name of the game. Some brands did an excellent job, which we will highlight below. But there were also brands that floundered during this crisis period. 

Did you see a dip in engagement? Did you struggle to get users to even see your posts? During the COVID -19 pandemic, social media saw an increase in engagement for many brands. If your brand was not one of them, what happened?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself if your social media is no longer engaging

You might notice a trend. For many brands, what worked before quit working during the pandemic, in part because the nature of the conversation changed. A deeper look at social media and the brands that did well during the crisis highlights the need to speak authentically in the moment to the moment. Another indicator of this can be found in keyword data. 

Indicator #3: My Keywords Aren’t Converting Anymore

If you have invested in SEO in the past several years, you understand how important it is to find the right keywords and rank for them. This can take a lot of time and effort to get just right. The perfect keywords can bring a TON of value to the brand, funneling users from awareness to intention to conversion. Between paid ads and organic rankings, keywords allow brands to target exactly what their target audience is looking for. So what happens when that intent shifts? 

One data point that can’t be overlooked is your conversion rate. If your keywords are still ranking at the top, but they are no longer converting, you have to recognize that you have a problem. This may be the clearest indicator that what once worked is no longer working. The question you have to ask yourself is this: what changed? How have your user’s needs shifted, and what do you think they are searching for now? In the COVID era, the answer to what changed might just be – everything. 

If everything has changed, then your digital marketing efforts have to follow suit. From your keywords to your messaging, your brand’s strategy must evolve to meet your users' new needs. So perhaps the better question to ask is, how has COVID-19 impacted the customers within your industry?  And what can you do to help? 

So, What Can You Do About It? 

Taking a deep dive into how your users lives have changed can be an impactful exercise into understanding how your marketing needs to shift. 

It is only after you answer these questions that you can truly understand how your brand’s messaging needs to shift. And believe us when we say, it needs to shift. The conversation online has completely changed, and your brand should not try to pretend that it hasn't. 

Speak to the issues that your users are facing, in an authentic manner. Show them that you understand the hardships and frustrations that they are facing. Then you can offer solutions appropriate to their needs.  

Remember when we talked about all of the brands that did so well on social media during the pandemic? Let’s look at a few: 

LEGO

Kids were hit pretty hard during the pandemic. All of a sudden, their whole worlds shifted in a pretty scary way. They had to learn the new rules of the world, so to speak. No play-dates (or hugs and high-fives) with their friends, no going to school, and LOTS of hand washing. The ever popular building block brand, LEGO, decided to speak to the miniature sized demographic through the voices of their ultra-popular characters created for the LEGO movie franchise. For  fans, the characters offer their PSA's in a fun, lively, and completely on brand way.

Note that playing with LEGOS AND watching LEGO movies are two great ways to spend some time while quarantined, but the brand didn’t even have to mention that. By reminding users of the simple magic behind the brand, and helping parents talk to their kids about a crazy new set of rules, the LEGO brand further endeared itself with parents and kiddos alike.

Tiny Little Monster

As shut downs hit small, local businesses especially hard, many companies struggled to keep their employees working. Overnight revenue dried up. One Saint Louis-based screen printing company, Tiny Little Monster, decided to think bigger than just their business. As a B2B brand, they saw many of their customers struggling and decided to create a campaign to help. And because they were a screen printing company, they built their campaign using their core capabilities in a simple and authentic manner; and BOY did it take off! 

The #hereforgood hashtag and website offered custom t-shirts for local small businesses impacted by the shutdown, providing a much needed cash flow for the participating brands. The concept was simple: buy a t-shirt and support a local business with $10 from every purchase going straight to each participating company. Their social media messaging shifted completely, with posts that focused on the campaign and on all of the businesses involved.

Beyond simply helping local businesses, Tiny Little Monster reached out to their counterparts across the country and helped them build their own #hereforgood campaigns. All told, the #hereforgood movement reached 34 states and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for small businesses across the country. 

The passion for this project showed in every post, every follow up comment, and every t-shirt Tiny Little Monster made. The conversation absolutely shifted to meet the time, but it was so much more than that. The conversation was authentic, compassionate, and inclusive; which is why so many users jumped on board. It goes to show that one really good idea, and some passionate marketing, can really make an impact.

Newtec Services

Of course, creating a powerful statement is a bit easier when you are working on something fun and approachable like t-shirts and t-ravs. (If you are not in St. Louis, you need to call us for an explanation and an invitation to dinner next time you are in town.) What do you do, however, when your brand is all about keeping businesses moving? How do you cope when the world of business comes to a screeching halt and then moves exclusively online? This is the trouble that Newtec Services, an information technology company that specializes in managed IT services and network security, faced as the pandemic raged on.  

Newtec Services had invested in digital marketing for a number of years. They were ranking for their core keywords, and some really great leads were coming in the door. Then, early in 2020, the bottom seemed to drop out from under them. While their core keywords continued to rank, the traffic and the leads associated with said traffic was no longer there. A global pandemic was not the time to see traffic drop, and Newtec Services knew that they needed a new approach to tackle the issue. 

Turning to social media was not the silver bullet that it proved to be for the #hereforgood campaign in our previous example. This was not a situation that allowed for a B2C type rallying cry. After all, the core demographic for this brand was not the average t-shirt wearer (which is everyone.) Instead, the target audience was medium sized business owners and IT professionals looking to expand their bandwidth. Moreover, many of these users were no longer working in the office, so traditional sales outreach instantly became a whole lot more difficult. 

Newtec Services decided to follow many of the same steps we outlined above, looking at the new problems facing their users and creating solutions that would help tackle these issues. Knowing that Google was going to be a big part of the conversation, keyword research was in order. As a brand, Newtec Services needed to understand what was driving the conversation in this new era. They took to their website, creating pages that spoke to these issues in a technical yet informative way. 

Working with many of their existing clients, they dug in to find a greater understanding of the problems that COVID-19 had created for their industry and worked to explain how their brand could offer solutions. As with any SEO tactic, the return on this tactic was not instantaneous, but the brand has seen an increase in their leads as these pages pick up steam. 

How Does Your Conversation Need To Change?

While the world is slowly returning to some semblance of normal, the reverberations of COVID-19 are probably here to stay. So, how has your brand shifted its messages to speak to this new way of working? What are your clients saying about their struggles, and how are you rising to meet the occasion? 

If you are not sure how to answer any of these questions, help is just a phone call away. At Seafoam Media, we help brands of all sizes tackle some of their biggest digital marketing challenges. We take the deep dives, looking at changes in the marketplace, to help craft a strategy that will not only prepare you for the world today but also help to propel your brand into the future. No matter what crazy things 2021 may bring, we are here to help your brand succeed. We would love to chat about your particular brand. Call us today, or schedule a (virtual) discovery session with our team. 

A month ago, in the middle of the lockdown we have been patiently enduring, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that a coming recession could be "the steepest in almost a century," approaching levels not seen since the Great Depression. Between a worldwide pandemic and skyrocketing unemployment levels, it's no wonder that business owners are worried.  

Even at the best of times, the U.S. economy is fluid. Depending on the health of the national and global stock markets, your customers may either be comfortable investing in your products and services or anxious, withholding their dollars just in case financial catastrophe strikes.

Over the centuries since the founding of the United States, our nation has been affected by no fewer than 11 recessions. Although these times can be scary for consumers and businesses alike, this is a natural pattern in our nation’s economic development. That’s why it’s important to know how to leverage today’s technology to ensure your business’ longevity through the next impending stock market dip and beyond.

Digital Marketing Matters Now More than Ever 

Many business owners, faced with a looming recession, are cutting costs and making difficult decisions about what to prioritize going forward. One decision likely has to do with their marketing budget. 

You may be considering scaling back your marketing efforts, too. 

In our opinion, cutting your team's marketing efforts in half or even entirely is a big mistake. We believe that digital marketing can help companies now more than ever. Here are just 3 reasons why: 

Your website is your hardest working employee. 

Your website works when you can't. It's on 24/7. If it's not providing your customers with clear information and an easy-to-navigate design, you may be missing out on valuable customer dollars. Digital marketing can give your website a timely refresh. 

If you're not optimizing for SEO, you're not getting seen. 

And if you're not getting seen, you're losing business. With the help of digital marketing, you can get nearer to that top spot on Google and draw more people to your website. 

People staying in are DEFINITELY on their phones. 

More screen time means more of an opportunity to reach out to your audience via social media. Are you taking advantage? Digital marketing can help by providing your users with engaging content and earning you a broader reach. 

Six Ways to Use Digital Marketing to Survive a Recession

1. Maintain Ad Spends

When your brand’s steady income is interrupted by a recession, it may seem logical to trim your expenditures where you can; unfortunately, ads aren’t where you want to do it. Whether you’re managing various ad campaigns through your brand’s social media profiles or AdWords, reducing output on these platforms is actually more likely to hurt your business than empower it.

Remember: the more eyes that see your brand, the more people are likely to invest in what you have to offer. Keep your visibility up by maintaining your monthly ad output.

2. Invest More Time in Thoughtful Content

The internet is an intrinsic part of daily life. Just because the economy is a bit strapped for cash doesn’t mean consumers will stop surfing the web for information, entertainment, and the occasional purchased good. Take this time to increase the likelihood of your brand catching consumers’ attention by bolstering content production.

Especially if you can find a way to connect your brand to the struggles brought on by an economic crisis, examine how your business can provide sound advice, tips, information and even products/services to improve the way your customers survive the recession alongside your company. Showing support and relating to your audience may even help your brand earn some extra customers to help you through these hard times.

3. Opt for More SEO, the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Content is powerful, but it isn’t effective if no one can see it. Search engine optimization is the driving force behind your brand’s ability to be identified, categorized and ranked by search engines, such as Google and Bing. If you set up and maintain a comprehensive SEO strategy, you can keep your brand’s content at the top of search rankings for months, if not years, to come.

4. Turn Your Brand’s Social Media Accounts into PR Machines

We briefly mentioned social media in tip #1, but there is so much more this platform can do than just serve up ads to targeted groups of people. Since social media found its way into the hearts of online users everywhere, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and their counterparts have become monumental pillars in modern communication. Today, people use these platforms to engage with one another, share their views on heavy-hitting topics, and offer a glimpse into their daily lives.

And if they’re doing this, why can’t your brand do the same?

With the help of some cleverly designed social media campaigns, your brand can engage with its audience and build relationships on a deeper-than-transactional level.

5. Audit Your Website

It may be hard to believe, but a recession is the perfect opportunity to take a long hard look at your website and analyze its design, functionality, and ease of use. Especially during a time as emotionally and financially stressful as a recession, customers deserve to have the least amount of clutter in between the information they need and the products/services they’re looking for.

In fact, the more clicks a customer has to make before he/she can find what he/she is looking for on your site, the less likely your customer is to convert, which ultimately hurts your bottom line. As a result, trim any unnecessary menus and graphics from your site; make it as simple and elegant to use as possible.

6. Remember That Your Customers are People

Finally, the biggest tip of them all… Despite how heavily your brand feels the effects of the recession, there’s a good chance your customers are just as affected – if not more so – than your business.

At the end of the day, your customers are not dollar bills or sales quotas; they are human beings filled with needs, emotions, and challenges, particularly during times of financial hardship. If your brand can keep them at the forefront of everything it does – if you can make them feel empowered during this difficult time – you stand a chance at generating the revenue you need for a long and bright future.

Proof of Concept

Okay, so far we’ve discussed six ways you can elevate your brand’s likelihood of surviving economic stress, but now you want some proof.

In the great recession of 2009, these brands were able to leverage their marketing strategies to rise above adversity and even thrive:

Del Monte Foods

In an interview with Adweek, Del Monte’s CMO, Bill Pearce, discussed the success of increasing Del Monte’s ad spends during the recession:

“I think we’re making very good progress. If you go back to our September earnings and benchmark versus our peer set, we’re doing very well...Our marketing capability has improved dramatically, and I think people are generally excited and feel good about where we’re going.”

Hyundai Motor America

Despite the auto industry struggling, as a whole, to break even during 2009, much less generate a profit, Hyundai forged a different route to success. By taking the time and care to invest in a consumer-focused ad-campaign-turned-into-a-service, Hyundai Assurance boosted sales as much as 5 percent while the competition floundered.

Miller Brewing Company

Sometimes fitting into a consumer niche is the best way to survive an economic crunch. Identifying an opportunity to push an affordable product to thirsty consumers, the Miller Brewing Company leveraged a series of one-second TV ads that aired during the biggest football game of the year to promote Miller High Life beer. This strategy ultimately resulted in Miller generating a 5 percent increase in beer sales prior to the game and 9 percent increase following the game.

Marketing, Exposure, and the Chopping Block

If you could take all of the many ingredients of a complex marketing strategy – content, social media, SEO, web design/development, ad spends, analytics, etc. – and boil it down to one overarching concept, the result is simple: marketing leads to exposure.

During a recession, when the limits of every dollar bill matters to a company trying to survive, your business may be naturally looking to cut spending. As a marketing agency, we’ve seen all kinds of companies with various understandings of marketing and why it’s essential to financial growth; that’s why we can unequivocally say. 

Don’t let your marketing strategy be the first expense on the chopping block!

Your brand needs marketing to ensure your consumers continue to see your products and services. And in many cases – as mentioned in the examples above – a recession may even be a great time to invest more into your marketing endeavors. With the right strategy in place, your brand doesn’t just have a chance at surviving a recession; it can become an industry leader.

As a business leader, you understand better than most the importance of hiring good help. 

Think about how important it is for your company to hire a reliable accountant, a quick-response IT team, a knowledgeable lawyer. While each team member knows quite a bit, no one would dream of handling all these specialized tasks alone; that would waste time and money. Part of being a great business leader, after all, is understanding your own strengths and weaknesses and reaching out to experts when you need them. 

Now, think about how you handle your company’s marketing strategy. Do you rely on your administrative assistant to post on social media every so often? How much do you really know about SEO? Do you have all the resources you need to get the marketing results you want? 

Your digital profile works for you day and night. It’s always on. And as your hardest-working asset, it should offer you the best return. Are you developing it the way you should? 

Digital Marketing Evolves as Quickly as the Internet Does.

The state of digital marketing is constantly evolving. It used to be fairly easy to “trick” Google and boost your rankings. Now, however, the bots are getting smarter, and they’re learning to play together. 

Here are a few things we like to remind our partners: 

Google Functionality

Every year, Google makes hundreds of changes to its search functionality, sometimes rolling out major algorithm changes that digital marketers need to keep pace with. 

Local SEO

When it comes to local SEO, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google My Business, and other social media sites all feed into Google’s algorithm. Customer reviews do as well, and they play an increasingly bigger role in establishing your authority as a business. 

Inbound Link Authority 

Do you have inbound link authority? This is another tool that boosts your visibility on Google. Sometimes called link-building or backlinking, it refers to the number of legitimate sites linking to you as a subject matter expert. If you aren’t getting inbound links, you’re probably not doing enough to get noticed.  

Content 

Marketers may not say “content is king” any longer, but we still recognize that content is consumed in myriad ways across the internet, and it’s a tough task to write both for human eyes and roaming bots. Is your on-page content relevant, up-to-date, and compelling? 

Analytics 

Do you have people on your team willing to take deep dives into the murky waters of analytics? Anyone can log into Google Analytics, but not everyone can make sense of the results. If you’re not getting regular insights on organic search, including bounce rates, page views, keyword rankings, and other useful benchmarks, you may be missing a huge piece of your overall marketing picture. 

Mobile Optimization

mobile optimization

More consumers do their web browsing on mobile devices than ever before. If your website is not optimized for mobile, you’re missing a huge opportunity.  

Personalization 

Personalization is the watchword of the future. What is it? Essentially, it’s the ability to give your site visitors a custom, personalized experience based on their needs. When it takes over as the next big thing in marketing, will you be ready?

To be effective, marketing must be interconnected. All of the above factors, and inevitably a few we haven’t come across yet, will all come into play in the digital future. That’s why it’s important to have a team dedicated to staying on the front lines and keeping track of the way Google evolves. 

Partnering with a Team of Marketing Experts is Worth the Cost.

When you hire a marketing team, you’re getting more than a decent-looking website and a kid who understands Google better than you do; you’re getting a team of professionals. What you’re really paying for is time, brain-power, and creativity: the time it takes to research the competition and create a strategy that makes sense for your business, the brain-power that comes along with years of expertise in the field, and the creativity it takes to stay ahead with bold ideas.  

We believe that a marketing agency can offer a level of professionalism that in-house teams can’t. Why? Because we put all of the pieces of the puzzle together into a strategic whole:

Keep reading! Below, we go into a few factors we consider as we execute on a plan for our partners’ success. 

First Things First: Define Your Goals and Fine-Tune Your Message.

The internet is a vast place. It takes strategy to insure that you’re not just adding to the noise. To break through the static and have a real impact, you need a well-defined brand and a clear message broadcasted and shared on the right platforms. 

Before we design a website or write your first email newsletter, we start at the beginning: we clarify your branding and messaging, we size up the competition, and then we outline the strategies and tactics that will help you reach your goals.

It’s been said that if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. We don’t execute on a marketing plan until we have a marketing plan – one with objectives that make sense for your business, not the business we worked with last week. 

Your Website is Your Hardest Working Employee.

website design

You wouldn’t keep an employee that didn’t work well with others and had little to offer in the way of character and expertise. Why would you accept anything less from your hardest working asset – your website? 

If you don’t have an up-to-date website, or if you do have one that’s confusing or unwieldy, you’re turning off customers who increasingly use their laptops and mobile phones to research and make buying decisions. 

You may know what your website should include, but we’re guessing you haven’t earned a degree in web design. You probably haven’t thought much about the psychology of color or the way users typically navigate around a site. A great marketing team has that resource. What’s more, a great marketing team considers your target audience, builds an easy-to-navigate site, and collects data to learn just how that website is performing and continually improve it. 

If You’re Not Reaching Your Target Audience with a Well-Defined Message, Your Marketing Efforts are Wasted.

Since we mentioned your target audience, let’s take a longer look at that piece of the equation.

Think about your close friends and family. If you’ve known a group of people for a long time, you instinctively know what drives them, what values they hold dear, what quirks of personality they display. 

A similar thing happens when you find your business’ target audience and get to know them on social media and elsewhere. You start to predict which ideas will catch hold. You’re no longer throwing out taglines and hoping one or two will stick. That “flyers on windshields” approach simply doesn’t work anymore. Luckily, though, consumers are still susceptible to the same emotional drives human beings have always had. Tapping into those all-too-human drives is the key to great marketing. 

It is not about being everywhere, but being where “your people” are. A perceptive marketing team can help you find your tribe, so to speak, figure out their motivations, and tap into those emotional touchpoints with engaging content.  

Insightful Content Matched with Smart SEO? What a Beautiful Relationship!

While any SEO specialist can talk about Google, it takes a professional to create content that both attracts customers and understands what the bots are looking for. 

It’s easy enough to add a quick paragraph to your “About” page or post something on your favorite social media channel. What’s harder is developing a consistent message and voice, and drafting web content that’s scan-able and SEO friendly. At Seafoam, we don’t look at search engine optimization as an algorithm you need to hack, but as a guide showing what your customers really want.  We take time to do the sort of deep-dive research that informs our content strategy. Then, we draft copy that will establish your brand in the minds of your customers and drive traffic to your social media pages and your website

It’s not easy. It takes talent to put a message across succinctly and elegantly so your newsletters, articles, social posts, and emails are shared – not ignored or discarded. This high-quality content eventually pays for itself in greater awareness and rising numbers of conversions. 

Great Marketing: All the Things, All the Time. 

The factors we described above are just a taste of what a marketing agency takes into account. A top-notch marketing team understands how to translate analytics and subtly shift a message to reach the right audience, providing a holistic approach that’s difficult to achieve alone. We handle all of this and more, and we do so with a team of specialists who have experience working with all kinds of businesses, in all kinds of industries. 

When you think about the countless hours, the late nights, early mornings – all of the work that your team pours into your business day after day – are you willing to gamble on anything less? Be honest: is your team connecting all the dots? 

Contact Seafoam When You’re Ready to Get Serious About Marketing.

We believe that a glowing online reputation, an exquisitely designed website, and a malleable, goal-oriented strategy are all worth the investment. What you’re investing in, after all, is the growing awareness and future success of your brand. If you’d like to learn more, give us a call. 

Several weeks ago, we discussed the do’s and don’ts of nonprofit marketing strategies. This week, we’re diving back into the world of nonprofits to discuss how you can make the most of your marketing funds.

Nonprofit Funding and Budgets

When it comes to fueling a marketing strategy, maintaining the proper budget is key to maintenance and growth.
This can be particularly difficult with nonprofit organizations. Since their funding typically comes from donors and fundraising events, nonprofits don’t have the cash-flow that larger brands rely on. Therefore, maximizing spending is critical to a nonprofit’s marketing success.
Here are some tips for your nonprofit to consider as you map out your marketing budget.

How to Build a Friendly Nonprofit Marketing Strategy

1. Simplify your strategy.

Marketing can be a complex beast to tame. There are many facets involved in online success; we often talk about the main four pillars with our clients: content, social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and  St. Louis website design/development.
This is just the beginning, though. Within each of these pillars, there are more, potentially expensive, pieces to consider, such as the types of content you want to create, which social platforms your nonprofit belongs on, the extent of your SEO, and the depth of your website’s design and functionality.
If your nonprofit is strapped for cash, you probably don’t have the funds to tackle the high end of each of the marketing pillars, but you should at least have the basics:

2. Get creative!

Marketing doesn’t always have to cost money; sometimes, it just takes a bit of precious, valuable time.
You can put the word out about your nonprofit by doing things such as:

3. Team up with a local marketing agency.

Who is better qualified to run your nonprofit’s marketing strategy than an agency whose mission is to help brands succeed online?With the Seafoam Marketing Challenge, our agency was lucky to find willing participants to help us launch the first round of our new program. And now, as a result of Seafoam and MRH working together, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) St. Louis will receive a free marketing strategy that they otherwise would not have had.
You never know what unconventional opportunities are available to your nonprofit until you go looking for them — or until the right moment presents itself to you.

It’s safe to say that no two marketing strategies are alike. Not only do these strategies change based on a brand’s wants and needs, but their goals and mission will largely influence their digital route to success, as well.
The differences become even greater, still, when breaking down a client’s business structure — particularly when it comes to for-profit companies versus nonprofit businesses.
In partnership with Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School (MRH) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) St. Louis, our team recently had the opportunity to shift our line of thought from the for-profit brands we usually represent to a local nonprofit organization that’s striving to make a difference in the St. Louis area.
Here are some of the things we have to share about nonprofit marketing...

What’s the difference between nonprofit and for-profit brand marketing strategies?

Building a marketing strategy for a nonprofit is significantly different than building a strategy for a for-profit brand.
Why?
The differences are largely determined by the variations in each brand’s primary mission.
For-profit brands exist to make money from their products and/or services. They may be motivated by other endeavors, like making the best products they can or building a superior customer experience, but at the end of the day, for-profit companies want to make money and thrive so that they can continue to build new products and services that their customers will enjoy.
Nonprofit brands, on the other hand, exist to help their customers live better lives through their products, services and message. All funding that a nonprofit receives will be used to pay for the expenses of running the business (employee salaries, bills, etc.); the remaining money will be invested back into the organization’s goals and mission to help their community. For this reason, nonprofits don’t typically have the capital that for-profits brands have.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Nonprofit Marketing

Do...

Don’t...

Want to learn more?

Our team’s journey into nonprofit marketing is just beginning. If you’d like to keep up with the progress the MRH students have made for NAMI St. Louis, visit the official Seafoam Marketing Challenge landing page to learn more! We’ll have much more to share over the next several months.

The success of your brand’s bottom line hinges on the engagement it receives online and beyond. To ensure your business is garnering maximum exposure, it is critical that your brand’s social media efforts are being liked, shared and commented on. The more interaction a single post can generate, the more times your post will show up in the feeds of potential consumers.
Here are some quick tips on how to transform your employees and customers into a brand ambassador army.

Employee Brand Ambassadors

Regardless of the number of employees you have on your team, each individual serves as an opportunity to spread the word of your brand’s goals, achievements and offerings. As experts of your company’s products and/or services, these individuals are the most reputable sources on how your brand positively impacts its customers. Encourage them to leverage their brand authority by initiating the following internal programs:

Social Awareness

Make sure your employees are aware of your brand’s social media efforts. Not only should your colleagues follow your brand on their favorite social media platforms, but you should also consider ways that you can alert your teammates of the latest content the moment it is posted. Examples include making sure new content is scheduled to go live at the same time each week or sending a company-wide message with a link to the new content directly after it has been posted.

Teammate Recognition

Your teammates love to be complimented on their dedication and hard work to your brand. If one of your colleague’s achievements is being celebrated in a piece of social content, spread the word throughout your team and encourage them to share their coworker’s success with their followers. Not only will this tactic build camaraderie amongst your teammates, but it also makes it more likely that these co-workers will continue to share each other’s achievements in the future.

Incentivize Social Sharing

Turn social sharing into a friendly competition! Create a monthly incentive program encouraging employees to share your brand’s content across their favorite social media channels. Announce that the teammate whose brand reposts garner the most engagement (likes, shares, comments) will receive a special incentive, such as extra vacation time, a small bonus, a casual dress day, etc. This program can restart on the first of every month to give employees renewed motivation to share your brand’s latest social messages.

Customer Brand Ambassadors

Unlike your teammates, current and prospective customers don’t know your brand on an internal level. The only connection they have to your company are the products and/or services you offer to them. Therefore, transforming the fans of your business into ambassadors may take some extra ingenuity, but it is possible by following these tips:

Provide a Great Customer Experience

Customers will remember the journey they take with your brand: the information they found while researching your products/services, how easy it was to purchase your products/services and even the support that was offered to them after they had become paying customers. Making your brand as accessible and helpful as possible will leave customers with a sense of satisfaction, making them more likely to share their positive experiences with their followers on social media and even in face-to-face conversations.

Launch a Referral Program

Loyal fans of your business are the bread and butter of your annual income. Reward their loyalty by launching a referral program for fans who convince their friends and family to buy your products/services; examples of rewards that could be paid out to these ambassadors include discounts on future products/services, gift cards and even cash.

Incentivize Social Sharing

Incentivizing social sharing doesn’t just work for cultivating employee brand ambassadors; you can also award customers who receive the most engagement for posts regarding your brand.

Consider launching a quarterly contest asking customers to express various elements of your brand, such as taking pictures with your products/services from various places around the world, expressing how your products/services have changed their lives, or even explaining why the customer originally decided to invest in your products/services. At the end of each quarter, the person with the most engagement for these posts will receive a gift from your brand: a new version of your products/services, a gift card, cash reward, branded clothing, etc.

Share Your Brand Ambassador Stories!

Have you already begun recruiting employees and customers into your brand ambassador army? We want to know which method(s) you used and the level of success these programs have generated! Share your stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Google+; we’ll even repost the best ones that pop across our feed.
Thanks for reading!

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