Inspired by: Apple and the Cookie Monster

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of our Amazing Moments of B2B Marketing Inspiration series. Join us each week for new stories of marketing success.

Time for another memorable marketing moment to inspire our campaign creation. Today we’re taking a look at last year’s Apple campaign that featured the famously-blue “Sesame Street” character Cookie Monster. The video ad was created to highlight their voice-activated system Siri, and showed the two teaming up to bake some cookies. It was brilliantly done, and an instant viral success. So why was the campaign so successful? And how can you apply their methods to your own campaigns?

Bonus fact: YouTube is one of the only social media channels that Apple actively uses.

Connect with Your Audience

People love Sesame Street, and Cookie Monster is one of the iconic show’s most iconic characters. The lovable blue puppet connected with viewers on an emotional level, and reminded them of their childhood. It appealed to a large audience, from families, to tech-loving smartphone users, to people who love cookies (who doesn’t?!)- and everyone in-between. Apple likely invested in expensive licensing fees for the use of the character. Did it pay off? Well, the video has been viewed more than 11.5 million times, and shared more than 500k times across social media channels.

Bonus fact: 60% of those shares happened via Facebook.

Use Analytics to Discover and Highlight Audience Favorites

How can you find relevant ideas to connect with for your audience? Use social media tools like Facebook Audience Insights and Twitter’s reporting to find out who your audience is on social media, and what they’re interested in. Then you can identify some ways to connect with those users on an emotional level with your products or brand. You can even try regional segmentation, playing off of a local legend, or a one-of-a-kind item your area is known for (think Wisconsin and cheese, or traffic for those of us here in Pardot’s Atlanta office). On a broader scale, you can play off of current seasonal or pop culture trends. Here’s an example of a video from Black & Veatch, an engineering, construction, and consulting company, that takes advantage of Construction Safety Week, and has a distinctly “MythBusters” feel.

Show off Your Product’s Best Features & Demonstrate Ease of Use

The Apple video demonstrates how easy it is to use Siri in everyday situations, and how it could recognize even slightly funny voices. They also showed off how Siri makes it easier to operate the iPhone hands-free. Another video campaign experiencing currently viral success? Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos, which show how to make fun and unusual meals and dishes. They take the sometimes complicated task of cooking, and condense it down to a video that’s only about a minute long. Wow, that souffle suddenly looks super easy! (spoiler alert: it’s not). The average video gets more than 25 million views.

Consider how can you use video to show how your product or tool is easy to use. How can you make it more fun, and create fun ways that show how your product is the best solution to the problems your target audience are facing?

Repurpose Your Success

Apple followed up their first Cookie Monster ad with an even better “Behind the Scenes” video. That video was a hilarious spoof that extended the reach of the ad campaign by giving fans more of a good thing. In many ways, the follow-up video was funnier and more accessible than the first, and it didn’t even need an objective. The follow-up video has more than 3 million views, 50k shares, and 98% of those shares were on Facebook. Again, the key here was fun, and showing the product in use in fun ways. How can you leverage more fun in your video campaigns?

In two 30 second commercials Apple demonstrated their product and highlighted the intuitiveness of its features without involving any tech-heavy jargon. The success of the campaign shows how important it is to connect with your audience on an emotional level, and you don’t have to be Apple to have a similarly powerful effect on your audience, just keep these things in mind: Use the data that’s available to you to craft the right message at the right time. Think about how you can show off your products and services, and look to demonstrate how they solve problems or pain points relevant to your buyers. Lastly, think of unusual ways to present your product in fun, engaging content. Think outside the box to create content that inspires and drives leads.

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Content Marketing – Pardot

How to Make a Case for Investing in Marketing Automation

So planning for 2016 is in full effect, you’re evaluating new marketing tools for the new year, and marketing automation is at the top of your list (we’re thrilled to hear it!) — but your upper-level management isn’t convinced. Womp.

What do you do? How do you convince the rest of your team that the benefits of marketing automation can completely change the course of 2016 for your business?

Particularly when you’re an SMB and strapped for budget and headcount, marketing automation can seem like a pretty significant investment — and it is. But the reality is that marketing automation provides a number of benefits that are specifically geared towards helping marketers do more with less, making it the perfect solution for teams with limited time and resources, and easily justifying the investment in a new tool.

So how do you communicate this to the rest of your team, and secure the budget you need to make it happen? We believe a well-laid strategy is the best place to start any marketing initiative, so we’ve put together the resources to get you started. Let’s dive in!

Do the research.

Where to start? With some basic research. It’s a lot easier to define what you’re hoping to get out of marketing automation once you’ve assessed your industry at large. Understand how other SMBs like yours are approaching their marketing efforts, what’s working for them and what’s not, and what it’s going take for your business to keep up.

Luckily, there are quite a few interesting stats out there that demonstrate how small businesses are trying out marketing automation with huge results, but be sure to delve a little deeper and read up on businesses in your specific industry to see how they’re using the tool. To kick things off, check out the resources below and pull a few of your favorite stats to support your case.

Helpful Resources:

  • [Gleanster Report] 10 Stats to Support a Case for Marketing Automation in SMBs
  • Customer Success Stories

Address common concerns.

  • “Will we have to add headcount to support the marketing automation platform?”
  • “Will we see enough returns to justify the cost?”
  • “Will marketing automation take too much time away from other marketing efforts?”
  • “Do we have enough content to support marketing automation efforts?”

These are all common — and understandable — concerns that small businesses face when evaluating the need for marketing automation. But there are simple answers that can put these concerns to rest.

For instance, 90% of top-performing small businesses that use marketing automation report they did not increase headcount after investing in marketing automation (Gleanster). And you’re actually better off building your content library once you have a system in place to determine what resources are most impacting your sales cycle; this way, you don’t waste time creating content that isn’t going to resonate. To learn more about these and other common concerns and prepare to answer questions from your team, check out the article below.

Helpful Resource:

  • 5 Myths About Marketing Automation and Small Businesses — Busted

Pull in your sales team.

54% of companies with marketing automation capture intelligence for the sales team, compared to 25% without. (The Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups)

One of the biggest mistakes that automation users make is in thinking that marketing automation is just for marketers. Marketing automation is about the whole picture; the quickest way to success is through collaborating with your sales team and helping them to see as much value from the platform as you do.

Share the post below with your sales team, then sit down with your sales counterpart and figure out how you can use this tool to best benefit your sales reps. With your sales team on board, you’re no longer just asking for a marketing tool, you’re asking for an investment to improve your businesses entire sales cycle.

Helpful Resource:

  • 4 Sales Pain Points Solved with Marketing Automation 

Define (and present) your goals.

It’s one thing to tell your boss that marketing automation will deliver real results for your company; it’s another to outline how.

With an effective strategy in place, marketing automation can turn even the smallest marketing department into an army of one, and help small businesses see a lot more value from the resources they already have. Set some goals, define some dates, and lay out your own personalized strategy for marketing automation success with the free powerpoint template below — then present your plan to the rest of your team to show that you’ve thought ahead.

Helpful Resource:

  • The Marketing Automation Success Plan for SMBs [Template] 

Ready to start planning for success after implementation? Check out the e-book below, Five Steps to Grow Your Business with Marketing Automation, to get a jumpstart on 2016.

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Marketing Automation – Pardot

Facebook Advertising: 3 Strategies to Drive Traffic, Leads, and Purchases

Well, I’ve never been too keen on writing long-winded introductions and figure most people just skip to the first bullet, so I’ll spare you my bad jokes and just tell you what you’ll learn in this post.

Today, you’ll learn three really effective Facebook advertising strategies:

  • An email capture campaign—I’ll show you how to use Facebook advertising to collect new email leads.
  • A traffic generation campaign—You’ll learn how to use Facebook advertising to drive traffic. This will get you in front of more potential customers and create more opportunities to sell down the road.
  • A direct sell campaign—You’ll learn how to get people to directly purchase your products with Facebook advertising.

Bonus: Learn how to boost traffic and customer engagement on Facebook. Download the guide.

How to set up a Facebook ads campaign

If you’ve never setup a Facebook advertising campaign before, I recommend beginning with this post.

PRO TIP: You have two options for creating Facebook ads: Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor. I recommend using Power Editor as it has bulk scheduling and the ability to copy and paste ad sets across campaigns quickly.

 

A few quick Facebook advertising best practices

  • Don’t go broad with audience targeting. “Being broad is a quick way to waste your money,” says marketing expert Kim Walsh-Phillips. Narrow your audience by adding one interest category at a time. For example, start with “Napa Valley Wine Country Tours” and then broaden after you’ve run your campaigns for a few weeks, adding “wine tasting” or “food and wine” and so on. That way, you’ll have a better idea of what’s moving the needle.
  • Target by zip code or region. If you have a local business, you can target your audience by their zip or postal code. This is also helpful if you know a particular city (such as New York) converts well. You can find which cities convert best in your Google Analytics in the “Audience Insights” section.
  • Test images first. One study of 100,000 Facebook ads by Customer Aquisition found that images counted for 75 to 90 percent of an ad’s performance. Copy also matters—but if you’re seeing low conversion rates try testing new images first.
  • Tell people what to do. Keep it simple. Tell me what to do next—whether that is to “download the guide,” “book a boat rental now,” or “schedule a demo.”

PRO TIP: Mikie Basi, a digital marketing strategist at Hootsuite, offers this advanced tip: “Always test different types of targeting to find the best audience for your products. Experiment with interest categories, friends of followers, and website audience lookalikes. Run them in separate ad sets to determine which is the top performer.”

 

Facebook ad targeting options

There’s no shortage of ways to target your audience on Facebook. Here’s a list of some useful targeting tips.

Connections: you can target people who are either connected or not connected to your Facebook Page. If you want to reach a new audience, select “not connected to your Facebook Page.” If you have an offer or new product, select “connected to your Facebook Page” as you’ll reach people who already know your brand.

Custom Audiences: Facebook lets you upload customer email addresses or other identifiers to build your own audience targeting. This takes a bit of work to figure out. Facebook has a good step-by-step guide.

Lookalike Audiences: This lets you target people based on data from your Facebook Pixel, mobile app data, or from fans of your Facebook Page. Here’s how to set-up a Lookalike Audience.

PRO TIP: Noah Kagan, the founder of AppSumo, offers this Facebook ad targeting tip: “Take your top 10 best customers and search their email address and name on Facebook. Then go to their Likes and create a spreadsheet of common interests. Look for the one to two similar Likes across your top customers. That’s who you can target.”

 

Facebook advertising strategy No. 1: collect an email

Unless you’re a marketing magician, it’s pretty hard to get people to buy from you the first time you wave to them in a Facebook ad.

For products that take longer to sell, email is your best friend. Facebook makes it pretty simple to collect new email leads. With software such as MailChimp, you can send out automatic emails (such as one email every few days). This helps you build trust and introduce people to your brand before you pitch your product.

STEP 1: Open up your Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor. In the campaign objective section, select “collect leads for your business.”

STEP 2: Create your form in Facebook. Make sure your fields align with the fields on your email list. Keep it simple: first name, last name, and email address.

STEP 3: Use the tool Zapier to automatically send email sign-ups from your Facebook campaigns to your email provider such as MailChimp. You’ll need to sign-up for a Zapier account, connect Facebook to Zapier, and select the Facebook Page and Form. Here’s a step-by-step article for MailChimp users.

STEP 4: Now, your new subscribers will be automatically sent from Facebook to your email list. Do a quick test to make sure data is passing between Facebook and MailChimp.

STEP 5: Next, let’s set-up the actual ad campaign. Open Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor and select “collect leads for your business.” This time, select the form you created.

STEP 6: Choose your audience targeting. If you’re new to audience targeting, this article will help.

STEP 7: Launch your ad campaign and watch the emails come rolling in. If you want to get more sophisticated, you can set up a custom automated email sequence in your email provider for Facebook leads. Below is a quick email strategy to use. You can sequence these emails a few days apart in your email provider:

Automated Email No. 1—Share something really valuable that connects to the problem your product solves (example: a food truck could share a map of all the best restaurants in the city). No product pitch. Just value. You’re training prospects to open your emails.

Automated Email No. 2—Tell an interesting story that connects to your product. For example, the food truck could talk about how they couldn’t find a good Pho/Italian fusion restaurant and so quit their corporate jobs and created their food truck, Pho Get About It.

Automated Email No. 3—Share another valuable resource (such as five mistakes people make when cooking spicy chicken at home). No product pitch.

Automated Email No. 4—Make an offer such as a discount for their first visit.

Automated Email No. 5—Make the same offer again but tell an interesting and useful story as the lead.

The goal is always the same: train people to open your emails by offering valuable content and then make the occasional product pitch.

PRO TIP: Take a look Facebook ad campaigns by BarkBox, AppSumo’s Noah Kagan, Photojojo, and Tangerine.ca. These brands have mastered the art of a conversational Facebook ad that still drives a purchase or action.

 

Facebook advertising strategy No. 2: drive traffic to a proven piece of content

Every brand has a few killer pieces of content. These blog posts or videos drive the lion’s share of traffic each month. Launch a Facebook ad campaign to extend the reach of these proven pieces of content.

Facebook Video, in particular, is very powerful. Every day, Facebook users watch over 100 million hours of video. If you have a proven piece of video marketing, use Facebook to amplify it.

STEP 1: Go to your Google Analytics. Click on “Behavior” > “Site Content > “All Pages.” You’ll see a list of your most popular pieces of content, gaining visitors from SEO and social. Choose one to promote with a Facebook ad campaigns.

STEP 2: Video performs really well on Facebook. Consider turning one of your top performing blog posts into a short video aimed at Facebook audiences. If you don’t have a big budget, you can create a slideshow video ad in Facebook’s Ads Manager.

STEP 3: Facebook users will likely watch with no audio, so keep the message simple. A study by Facebook found that captioned video ads increase video view time by an average of 12 percent. Facebook recommends that videos do not “require sound to communicate their message.”

STEP 4: Make sure your call to action matches your video content. It’s unlikely a person will go from laughing at your funny brand video to adding tennis shoes to their shopping cart.

STEP 5: Open Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor and select “Get Video Views.” Select your targeting. Upload your video directly to Facebook. Push the campaign live!

PRO TIP: What types of videos work best on Facebook? How can you take someone from a video view to a lead or sale? At Hootsuite, we created a video strategy kit for marketers, showing what types of videos work best on social media and what to measure.

 

Facebook advertising strategy No. 3: drive a direct sale

If you have a good product, there’s no reason why Facebook can’t generate direct sales. Here are a few tips to make sure you make the most of your ad budget.

When asking for a direct sale, you need trust. So if you’re an unknown brand with an untested product, I’d recommend skipping this strategy and testing with the first two Facebook advertising strategies first.

For example, I play music in my spare time and desperately want a $ 1,000 piece of audio gear called, the RME Babyface. I trust the company and understand the product. Price is the only thing holding me back. If anyone—and I mean anyone—offered me a discount with a Facebook ad, I’d buy in three seconds.

In contrast, I see a lot of Facebook ads trying to sell me music courses and audio software. They’re unknown brands and I’m long way from trusting them. Their money would be much better spent trying to get me on their email list rather than trying to shove me into a shopping cart five seconds after seeing their brand for the first time.

STEP 1: Make sure you’re confident that people will buy your product directly from a Facebook ad. If you have a proven product with sales, proceed to the next step.

STEP 2: Open up Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor and select “Create Ad.” Choose “increase conversions on your website.”

STEP 3: Next, Facebook will ask you which type of conversion event you want to track, such as adding products to a shopping cart or adding payment information.

As we’re trying to drive a direct sale, select “Purchase.” You’ll need to install a Facebook Pixel on your website’s thank-you or confirmation page. By installing the Pixel on your website’s thank-you page (or whatever page they see after buying your product), you’ll be able to verify that a visitor who clicked on a Facebook ad made it all the way through your shopping cart process and bought a product. This guide explains how to set up your Facebook Pixel.

STEP 4: Next, open a new browser and visit the page you installed your Facebook Pixel on. This makes the pixel fire and sends information back to Facebook. To double-check that your pixel is firing, you can also download Facebook’s Pixel Helper. This simple tool will help you confirm that your pixel is sending data to Facebook.

STEP 5: Go back to Facebook Ads Manager and select your audience targeting. Under “Connections,” you’ll see options for people connected to your Facebook Page. Select “People Who Like Your Page.” This helps you reach people who’ve already expressed interest in your products and services.

STEP 6: The next step is to create your ad. As you’re trying to drive a direct sale, keep the copy simple and clear. What do you offer and how is it different?

STEP 7: Give people a reason to buy from this specific ad. For example, maybe you bundle with another product as a freebie. Or you include a one-hour training webinar. You want people to stop what they are doing and click from your ad to your shopping cart.

STEP 8: Give your campaign at least two weeks before making any changes to copy or creative. Depending on your traffic volume, this should give you enough data to make an educated decision about what to optimize.

PRO TIP: With remarketing, you can serve Facebook ads to people who have visited your website. Your ads could include enticing offers, product recommendations, or funny reminders to complete their purchase. This guide explains how to set-up your first Facebook remarketing campaign.

 

A few must-know Facebook advertising guidelines

To avoid the embarrassing talk with your boss or client about why Facebook has suspended your ad campaign, I suggest memorizing these advertising guidelines.

  • Don’t have more than 20 percent of text on your images. Facebook doesn’t want people’s newsfeeds to be filled with text-heavy images screaming for attention. Keep your text overlays to less than 20 percent of your image.
  • Don’t use Facebook or Instagram logos or icons in your ads. This is against Facebook’s brand rules. Using another company’s logo in your ad implies a partnership.
  • Don’t ask for sensitive personal information in lead forms. This includes questions about debt levels, ethnicity, and personal identification such as passwords or social insurance numbers.

PRO TIP: Use this tool by Facebook to quickly check if your images contain less than 20 percent of text.

 

Final things to help you

Similar to long introductions, I’ve never cared much for conclusions either. So I’ll end with a few resources I’ve found to be helpful.

Facebook offers lots of good tips and recommendations on this page. I generally go straight to Facebook’s guides before muddling around blogs.

If you haven’t yet used video in your Facebook marketing efforts, this short strategy guide will help you get started.

At Hootsuite, we’ve also created a quick best practices guide to explain Facebook advertising terminology.

The post Facebook Advertising: 3 Strategies to Drive Traffic, Leads, and Purchases appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

Hootsuite Social Media Management

Running Your Giveaway and Following Up

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Recently, we covered the key things you should figure out before running a contest. This week, we’ll go over how you can best run the contest and what you should do when it’s over.

The value of a prize

Choose a prize your target audience will care about, and communicate the value, not just the dollar amount. Maybe it’s something people can’t easily get on their own (“curated by a top style expert”) or something they wouldn’t normally buy for themselves (“the most luxurious running socks on the planet”). It seems obvious that the more something costs, the more people will enter. But you want the right people entering the contest—those who are interested in your brand, not just folks who want to cash in.

The Normal Brand had success running contests for their signature hats but wanted to try something bigger. They partnered with another brand to give away a Big Green Egg, but the response was weaker than expected. Later, they realized why: their brand typically attracts young men, many of whom are still in college, and who might not be all that interested in a fancy, heavy charcoal grill (that won’t likely fit or be allowed in a college dorm room).

Taking charge of operations

Create contest materials in advance so you’re efficient with time and consistent with messaging. If you’re partnering with others, you may want to take the lead on creating visuals, email content, posts, and a schedule. Be sure your terms and conditions are easy to understand, and be clear about what people are opting in to receive from you—weekly newsletters, daily emails, or contest information only.

Decide in advance how long the contest will run, how you’ll promote it, and the amount you can spend to make it successful. All of this depends on you and your goals. Most say a couple of weeks is plenty of time for a contest, and some run contests over just a couple days. Investing in some boosted social media posts typically pays off and results in more entries. You might even consider finding a media partner who can feature your contest on their site or in their newsletter.

Consider using an app to help with things like collecting and managing entries and selecting winners. Gleam is one popular option that integrates with MailChimp (automatically imports new emails to a specified MailChimp list) and offers social media entry options.

We have a winner. Now what?

You’ve done a lot of work to build a new list of emails, and your gut might tell you, “Quick! Get these into your MailChimp list! Watch it grow!” But you should consider keeping these new contest subscribers in a separate contest list—at least temporarily.

LifeAfterDenim, a contemporary menswear brand, keeps a different list for each new contest and sends about 3 rounds of their newsletter separately to their main list and the contest list. They clean out anyone on the contest list who doesn’t engage before merging them into the main list. By waiting, and giving contest subscribers a few chances to unsubscribe, LifeAfterDenim adds only people who are interested in their brand to their main list.

You might even consider making the unsubscribe button more noticeable for the first couple of emails to the new contest list. This makes it easier for people to opt out rather than make a complaint. No one likes to see unsubscribes, but abuse complaints can create real problems.

The other big decision you’ll need to make is when to start communicating with these new contest subscribers: as soon as they enter, or at the end of the contest. By emailing sooner rather than later, there’s a better chance they’ll remember entering (and who you are), especially if the contest lasts a few weeks. By waiting, you avoid coming on too strong, and you can offer a consolation prize—like a discount or credit—to those who didn’t win. You might even consider splitting your contest list in half and testing out both approaches to see which works best for your business.

The Normal Brand uses MailChimp Automation to trigger a welcome email as soon as a new address is added to their contests list. They do this to confirm contest entry and introduce new subscribers to their brand before marketing products to them. Logan Spence, who manages the marketing for The Normal Brand, explains: “You want to help them understand why they may want to keep receiving emails.”

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In contrast, SPIbelt, which sells running belts to hold phones and small items, waits until the contest ends to send their welcome email, just to be sure new subscribers aren’t put off by receiving email too soon after signing up. They reason that customers might not be ready to buy while the contest is still running since there’s still a chance to win.

Of course, what works for The Normal Brand or SPIbelt may not be right for you. Giveaways and contests can take up a significant amount of time, so if you try it, craft one that will fit within your workflow and be worth it for you—and your subscribers.

MailChimp Email Marketing BlogMailChimp Email Marketing Blog

Big Team or Small, Marketers Share Some Universal Truths

In my time with the Pardot marketing department, I’ve witnessed many different stages of growth. I started as the first and only marketer at the organization. Two acquisitions later, I get to work with an enviably large team of wonderfully smart marketers — and an even larger contingency of shared services and trusted colleagues that I collaborate with on a regular basis. When people hear that I’ve been with Pardot for more than eight years (an eternity in tech time!), they always remark “wow, it must be really different today, huh?”

Well, yes… and no. Some days I look around and marvel at what a well oiled machine we’ve built. Others I feel just as in the weeds as I always did, pivoting on a dime to meet constantly changing priorities, and juggling more than I think I can handle.

Coming off an amazing week at Salesforce Connections 2016, where I got to spend three days talking with marketers of all shapes and size about their goals, dreams, and struggles, I realized that there are just certain universal challenges that we all face — no matter if you are a team of one or a team of one hundred. Here are some of the common themes I heard — and relate to myself. See if you agree!

Technology rich, strategy poor.

There’s a wealth of marketing technology available, and we’re all about it. Marketers have budget, and they are ready to dive in. However, we get so excited about our new toy that we don’t always pair our shiny technology purchases with a thoughtful strategy. Nine(ish) months in many people are wishing they had spent more time thinking through their implementations and ongoing strategy. Luckily, it’s never too late to go back and put a little polish on your plans. In fact, it’s a must, because nine months is a lifetime in marketing years! Plus, you’ve now collected a whole bunch of new data about how your campaigns are performing and how your customers are responding. So don’t stress, block off some time on your calendar and get to planning. Current Pardot clients can join our ongoing Office Hours to talk techniques — just slide out the Help Drawer in our app to find upcoming sessions!

Content, content, content.

Content was a hot topic at Connections. I talked to a number of marketers at our booth about how our team approaches content, and our session on content marketing was one of the most highly attended breakouts (view the slides via the Success Community – login required). Marketers in all types of companies and at all levels of sophistication are trying to figure out how to make content work for them. The top challenge? Scalability. Marketers are a creative bunch, with lots of ideas — but also lots of priorities. Many of us are still struggling to produce enough quality content to fuel our big campaign dreams. One of the tips picked up in our session? Don’t be afraid to curate other’s content (with credit, of course!).

And that leads me to our last truth…

There’s never enough time in the day.

Well, I don’t think this one is exclusive to marketers, but one of the things that’s always amazed me is that regardless of your available resources, things never slow down. I know that I am busier today than I was when I was a team of one. There’s always a new channel to try, a new blog post to write, and a new A/B test to run. An echo of challenges above, if we just had more hours in the day, maybe we could plan smarter strategies or write more content. Determining priorities is hard, and they seem to change every hour. Time sensitive demands like live events and the end of quarter scramble keep us from working on long-term initiatives (big rocks, as I call them), that we know will yield huge results. I feel ya, and I don’t have an answer for this one. Just know that we’re all right there with you, fellow marketer. And we’re all figuring it out as we go.

Luckily, through teamwork, technology, creativity, and tried-and-true prioritization (or our best effort, at least!), we are able to face down these challenges and chip away at our big marketing goals. Set aside time to refresh and renew your tech tools and strategy, even if it’s just once a quarter. Reach out to partners, other departments, and industry experts to help you create more content. You’ll be better off for it, because you’ll expose your audience to new points of view. Finally, remember that tomorrow is another day — and they’ll always be more work to do — so give yourself a break sometimes. Step back, survey your hard work, and enjoy all that you’ve contributed to your organization’s success. Recognize and reward your team members who helped you get there. Now, dream on, marketing dreamers! New challenges are on the horizon.

Marketing Inspiration – Pardot

3 Design Trends to Elevate Your B2B Marketing

“Design is where science and art break even.”
– Robin Mathew

 

In 2016, all marketers are designers — even if the word isn’t in your job title. Content and social media marketers need to understand basic graphic and web design elements. Event marketers design customer experiences. Marketing analysts design research processes. And at the very least, everyone is tasked with designing a slide deck at some point in their marketing career. So, marketers, it’s about time we all started paying a bit more attention to design trends.

Not sure where to get started? Let’s take a look at three design trends that you can use to elevate your B2B marketing and start thinking more like a designer.

Trade Show Design Trend: The “Unbooth”

When I was in sixth grade, my class hosted an Ancient Egypt Fair. We each were tasked with creating an information booth about Ancient Egypt for the younger students in my elementary school to visit. I don’t remember anything about my own project, but I do distinctly remember one of my classmate’s. Her topic was mummification. Not only did she create a fake mummy out of paper mache, she also put red gelatin in a bowl and had kids squeeze it in an attempt to simulate the feeling of a brain that’s been removed via hook. A little morbid, yes, but I still remember it to this day. She had created an unforgettable “unbooth.”

This trend, albeit in a less messy form, is changing the face of trade shows today. Instead of traditional booths with flat graphics and boring brochures, savvy event marketers are all about the unbooth. Create a branded experience at B2B events that attendees will flock to. We’ve seen businesses incorporate virtual reality, mini golf, phone charging stations, and even bars into their unbooths. The key, of course, is to get creative while staying on brand.

At Connections 2016 in Atlanta, we embraced the unbooth. We went for a summery theme and created the B2B Marketer’s Backyard, complete with Atlanta-based King of Pops treats (we’re all about supporting local businesses), corn hole, and a photo booth in an old school VW van — and it was a hit.

 

 

Graphic Design Trend: Flat Lay Photos

You’ve seen this trend on Instagram before, probably in the form of beautiful bird’s eye view of Sunday brunch that you just know required the photographer to stand precariously on a chair in a public restaurant. And according to stock photo website Shutterstock, searches for flat lay photos increased 160% last year.

You can use the trend to show off your products, like Try the World does in their Instagram ads:

Try the World Flat Lay Instagram Ads

Photo via Social Media Today

Or you can use the flat lay trend as a design element on your website and landing pages, like Desk.com does here:

Desk.com Flat Lay Landing Page Design

Photo via Crayon

Web Design Trend: Interactive Online Experiences

Experiential marketing isn’t just for in-person events like trade shows. This trend is also going strong in the online arena in the form of gamification, personalized videos, and interactive microsites.

A word of caution, though: when it comes to interactive online experiences, a rock-solid strategy is key. Hiring an agency to complete your project can be pricey, and creating it yourself can be time-consuming. Before diving into a project of this scope, make sure you’ve got a solid plan and aren’t just following this trend for the sake of it. Sit down with your entire marketing team and ask yourselves the following questions.

  • What’s your business goal with this project/campaign? Is it to generate leads? Educate your customers? Raise awareness of a new product?
  • Is an interactive project the best way to accomplish this goal?
  • How will you measure the success of your project?
  • For how long will the interactive experience be relevant? Can it be used as a piece of evergreen marketing, or does it have a short lifespan?

Need some inspiration? The Shutterstock article we linked to above employs this trend really well. The content is compelling, the graphics are beautiful, and the interactivity streamlines — rather than detracts from — the online experience. Plus, its content is guaranteed to be relevant for an entire calendar year, so Shutterstock is certainly getting plenty of bang for its buck.

Conclusion

It’s time to start considering yourself a designer. The truth is, marketers are constantly designing — images, videos, experiences, and even data analysis processes. The trends discussed in this article are three great jumping-off points for B2B marketers who want to expand their design horizons.

Have you designed something you’re proud of lately? What’s a current design trend you love — or loathe? Leave us a comment; we look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Marketing Inspiration – Pardot

Five Marketing Questions with… Jeremy Miller of Sticky Branding

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of our Amazing Moments of B2B Marketing Inspiration series. Join us each week for new stories of marketing success, as well as Q&A with marketing leaders. 

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Today we’re bring you Five Questions with… Jeremy Miller, brand builder and author of “Sticky Branding.” For Jeremy, branding is deeply personal. After watching his family’s business nearly hit rock bottom, he and his family were forced to take a long hard look at the way the company was run and at the industry as a whole. Jeremy realized it wasn’t his company’s sales people or marketing processes that were failing, it was their brand. This caused him to regroup, revamp, and rebrand the business. And within a year the company turned the corner and rocketed into growth mode.

That experience inspired Jeremy to embark on a decade-long study of how companies grow recognizable, memorable brands — what he calls Sticky Brands. Fast forward to today, Jeremy has interviewed thousands of CEOs and business owners and profiled hundreds of companies across dozens of sectors. He lives and breathes marketing, branding, and business development, and he knows what it takes to grow a Sticky Brand.

What are you most excited about in the current B2B marketing scene?

Binge Marketing. An area that fascinates me is how active buyers binge. It’s like Netflix. When a customer is buying they consume everything. They read your website, watch your videos, download your white papers, search your brand on Google, and visit your social media sites. They consume it all.

The binge is exciting for 2 reasons. First, companies can create a competitive advantage by facilitating the binge. And second, you can spot the binge in your marketing automation data, which helps your sales reps engage the right prospects at the right time.

What do you see as your biggest marketing challenges?

Trying to do too much. There is always another tool and platform that is adding to the complexity of marketing. As a result, marketers have a tendency to add to their portfolios. It’s an issue of FOMO — fear of missing out. But trying to do everything is the fastest route to mediocrity. The best brands are very selective, and choose a few areas where they can be brilliant.

What do you wish you or your team had more of?

Time!

What or who inspires you, and why?

I am constantly inspired by the people and companies that are challenging convention and finding unique ways to grow their brands. I love seeing companies innovate and redefine what is normal in their industries.

What is your greatest marketing achievement so far?

I beat Oprah. At least for a week. No, seriously, my book, Sticky Branding, came out in January 2015 and was an immediate bestseller. It was #1 on the Globe and Mail Bestsellers list beating out Oprah’s book, “What I Know For Sure.”

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Marketing Inspiration – Pardot