Three Marketing Musts for 2022
It’s a new year, which means new commitments, new focus, and a new tank of optimistic fuel for the months ahead. Just flipping the calendar one page seems to do that to us every year.
Statistics indicate that about a quarter of Americans commit to New Year’s resolutions, which sounds like a pretty loud minority, since content dedicated to resolutions seems to be everywhere — as if everyone makes them.
We’re not here to convince you to jump on that hopeful bandwagon, but we are here to look ahead, plan for what is to come and strategize how to make 2022 more successful than 2021. Because success doesn’t just happen. It takes planning.
We’ve been scanning industry trends, reviewing forecasts and plucking insights from the successful tactics we’ve implemented for clients, and in doing so, we’ve come up with a focused grab-bag of strategic suggestions for the year ahead.
Lucky for you, we were able to boil them down to three key takeaways, because there was some overlap and — let’s be honest — who has time to digest lists that offer dozens upon dozens of different ways to improve your marketing presence?
You’re busy running businesses and steering brands. And these three are genuinely the keepers for the year ahead.
Look ahead. See what’s on the horizon and strategize how to make it work for you and your brand. Augmented and virtual reality are gaining traction at an exponential pace — hello, Meta — so it pays for brands to think big, scope out that high-tech curve and see how to maximize it. Along the same lines, research and understand potential challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, such as changes to digital privacy and cookies, that may diminish the efficacy of digital advertising. Once you dig into that intel, you may decide to go in a different direction.
Double down on what works. Understand what makes your business grow by looking at what has worked for you previously. How do you do that? By scouring the data you’ve collected from different campaigns. You may find that specific messaging on display ads are leading to more click-throughs or you may see that the ROI from influencer-supported campaigns isn’t as great as you had hoped — or vice versa. This type of strategic post-game analysis is exactly how we inform our upcoming campaigns for clients, two of which are finding that targeted and segmented email campaigns are leading to improved engagement and off-the-charts click-through and conversion rates.
Invest in the experience. Focus on experiences, no matter where they are. Online algorithms are optimizing for user experience, which means if you want your brand’s content to be seen, it needs to offer an experience the targeted user is craving. That may mean that hard and fast SEO tactics could and should take a backseat in favor of user experience. The same goes for a user’s interaction with a brand — at every point, no matter what that point is, the experience during the interaction needs to be something the user may enthusiastically tweet about.
Want to continue this conversation, with specifics, for your brand? Reach out — we’re happy to talk about 2022 tactics that could help you!
How To Build Better Content Marketing Campaigns
There’s a lot that goes into our Campaign Builder. But it has emerged from development as an easy-to-use tool, despite the deep insights and the wealth of background data it’s able to harness.
That was part of the idea, as we talked about in a recent blog that detailed the origin story of our Campaign Builder, an informed, efficient content marketing tool that makes editorial planning and content development a breeze.
Our Campaign Builder essentially distills all the branding and persona work a client has completed into a tool that helps sort and determine desired messaging based on content themes, persona pain points and stages of the customer journey. Because who has the time to go searching through different reports and presentations to find all that information and piece it all together?
Nobody does. It’s part of the reason that information doesn’t get used the way it should, if it’s ever used at all.
For us, our Campaign Builder so easily picks up where our Audience work leaves off, dovetailing perfectly into the creation of an informed Avenues plan. Each piece works together, whether a client is building a multi-step email campaign or planning blogs for the quarter.
Besides being easy to use, our Campaign Builder works across any industry — as long as the information it contains is properly informed. Are the pain points right for the persona at that stage of the journey? Will that persona ask that question at this point of engagement?
Our Campaign Builder aggregates all of it, using simple drop-down menus to target a very specific audience with a very specific message. We’ve used it to:
- Develop lead nurture campaigns for a client that specializes in healthcare staffing
- Inspire messaging and tone for digital assets aimed at recruiting
- Determine tone and focus for healthcare whitepapers
- Craft lead generation campaigns for a specific audience
- Plan quarterly editorial content for ecommerce, food and beverages clients, and more
There’s no doubt in our minds that this approach is what leads to more targeted campaigns, which ultimately leads to better engagement. Think about it. If someone is speaking your language, hitting your specific needs with solutions tailored to you, you’re more likely to listen — and take action.
With this approach, we’ve seen click-thru rates improve (in the 20% range), we’ve seen engagement increase, we’ve seen conversion rates increase (to more than 8%!) and we’ve seen visits to certain webpages extend — to more than eight minutes!
While open rates of 67% and asset downloads of 50% are honestly just numbers, as are the stats above, they represent what’s possible with an informed approach — which our Campaign Builder providers.
Business, afterall, is a numbers game, right? It’s an overused quote, for sure, but one our Campaign Builder brings into focus in a new way. Yes, it’s a numbers game, but with targeted outreach, the numbers that mean something are those associated with ROI.
And with our Campaign Builder, when it comes to time, the investment is slashed by 75%. To get a good feel for how our Campaign Builder works, and how much time it will save, try it for yourself!
Origin Story: Campaign Builder
At WHYFOR, we’re always looking for ways to work smarter instead of harder. Not because we’re lazy, but because we actually aren’t — and we truly need to build in efficiencies wherever we can.
Our Campaign Builder, a tool built by WHYFOR’s Director of Strategy, Dustin Diehl, is an example of one of those efficiencies. He tells its origin story best, and explains how it saves clients time and money while putting the strategic planning and branding work they’ve done to use!
Q: Can you explain what the Campaign Builder is?
Luckily, the Campaign Builder is pretty much what it sounds like: It’s a tool designed to help marketers build campaigns! More specifically, it aggregates important information from a brand’s unique Anatomy (voice, tone, values, attributes, etc.) and a brand’s specific Audience (personas, customer journey map stages, and key questions and pain points) to create focused and tailored marketing messages.
Q: How did the concept for the Campaign Builder come about?
Content marketing has been around since the dawn of advertising, and it’s certainly not going away … so we asked the question, “How can we save time (and therefore resources and money) during our editorial planning process?” While creative brainstorms are an important part of marketing, there’s also a need for a focused, actionable approach to content planning, one that accurately maps back to key strategies and goals.
While our initial goal was to save time/resources/money, we quickly saw two important additional benefits: efficiency and efficacy. We saw an opportunity to take key, foundational strategy documents like brand guidelines, voice/tone/style guides, personas and customer journey maps and distill their core elements into the Campaign Builder.
This increased efficiency by taking sometimes overwhelming strategy documents and making them integral to the campaign building process, removing the need to sift through dozens (sometimes hundreds) of pages of documentation to find the insightful nuggets you’re looking for to build a specific campaign.
It also increased efficacy — the more we’re able to stay true to the strategic core of a brand through the execution of our marketing tactics, the more likely those tactics are to perform.
Q: What is it designed to do?
Two things in particular: 1) It ensures your strategic documentation (which you’ve probably spent a lot of time and money on) actually gets used in your tactical marketing campaigns, and 2) sets your marketing and content teams up for success by helping them identify their “north star” for any campaign.
Q: What makes it so great for clients?
Clients love the Campaign Builder because it saves a ton of time on editorial/content planning — in fact, we’ve found that it cuts up to 75% of planning time for our clients!
It also puts clients at ease knowing their strategy documents aren’t collecting dust in the proverbial desk drawer. As mentioned, these are usually labor-intensive strategies that cost significant amounts of money — clients are relieved to know this tool relies heavily on those insights, connecting the oft-missed dots between high-level brand strategy and “in-the-weeds” tactical execution.
Q: Is it complicated to use?
So far the feedback has been: “It’s a breeze!” We wanted to keep the user interface as simple as possible — it’s one of the reasons we use a relatively ubiquitous platform like Excel/Google Sheets. Most people are familiar with filter and sort functionality (from website to apps, etc.), making it simple for anyone to use.
But we’re always looking to improve, and we’re constantly collecting feedback from our internal and our clients’ teams to make it even more powerful, without losing usability.
To learn more about our Campaign Builder, contact our team.
Three Things We Know About Marketing for the Healthcare Industry
Marketing within the healthcare industry takes a nuanced, strategic approach in part due to the regulations that govern healthcare marketing in general but also due to the complexity of the audiences, subject matter and pain points. Based on our experience, we know the “sales cycle” in the healthcare industry takes time, content marketing is a must and technology is the industry’s golden child at the moment.
Industry statistics back up those anecdotal points, including:
- 47% of healthcare organizations expect to expand their use of technology in the coming years.
- About 20% of B2B healthcare sales take a year to close, while just 43% close within six months.
- Only 58% of healthcare marketers are using blogs as part of a content marketing strategy.
Successful healthcare marketing, be it for a service, a product or an organization, relies on a true understanding of pain points and an ability to leverage that understanding in ways that move prospects through the conversion process to ultimately become clients. Here are a few ways to make that happen..
- Segment healthcare marketing campaigns. As with most industries, the healthcare industry has multiple audiences dealing with a variety of pain points. And even if two different audiences have the same pain point, they could experience it differently. That’s why it’s important to segment marketing campaigns based on audience, be it B2B or B2C. The messaging, the tone and the CTA could all change based on the target audience. And since healthcare is personal, the messaging should reflect that. When it does, we’ve seen improved outcomes in the form of increased conversions for healthcare clients across the staffing, technology, care delivery and education sectors.
- Initiate healthcare marketing campaigns based on data. Content marketing campaigns reveal a wealth of insights, and those insights should be used to drive future strategy. Healthcare marketers should take note, for example, on whether a 10-step or a three-step campaign receives better engagement or which asset — a blog, brochure or whitepaper — performs better over the course of a campaign or several campaigns. Testing, and performance analysis, should guide a future tactical approach. And when they do, it shows.
- Consider needs-based marketing. In the healthcare industry, the landscape can change quickly. The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of how quickly needs can change, from equipment to staffing to treatment to the entire delivery of care. When needs change, messaging should, too. By leveraging a solution to a known need for a specific audience, we’ve seen clients expand their reach, improve their sales pipeline and close deals that may not have been available previously. Look no further than the telehealth industry for its ability to capitalize on a known need to grow by more than 4,000% from one month to the next during the height of the pandemic.
Interested in learning more? Request a case study on one of our healthcare clients. We’d love to go over with you what we did for them and show you how the results of our strategic marketing campaigns improved their success.
Three Things We Know About Marketing for the Construction Industry
At WHYFOR, we’ve been guiding clients through strategic, insight-driven marketing plans for more than a decade. Over that time, we’ve worked across a number of different industries, from real estate to wellness to tech to advocacy and construction. And within each one, we’ve learned a few truths along the way — because while every business faces the same six challenges, those challenges can include critically important nuances based on the industry.
Right now, experts have noted that the construction industry is facing challenges related to:
- Project delays
- A shortage of skilled workers
- Access to supplies and materials
When it comes to the construction industry and the clients we’ve worked with, we’ve seen recurring marketing themes that need to be consistently addressed. They’re that important.
- Relationships need nurturing. It’s important for those in the construction industry, which spans a large spectrum of services, to consistently nurture their relationships — internally and externally. We’re talking about clients, vendors, subs and employees. It’s those relationships that could potentially impact revenue, as leads come in and bids are requested for projects. Personal recommendations, for example, improve conversion rates by 5.5 times. And if those relationships lead to new opportunities, it’s easy to see the connection between relationships and revenue. By understanding and appreciating the relationships within the industry ecosystem, construction companies can maintain a solid standing among competitors who pay less attention to those details.
- Reputation matters. A construction company’s reputation could be its lifeline in a close-knit industry. Word travels fast, and negative ones travel the fastest, creating the potential for a company’s reputation to impact its relationships, which would ultimately trickle down to impacting revenue. It’s why the work that a construction company does, establishing its reputation in the industry, is so important to its success. Reputation can be managed effectively in a number of ways, from PR to digital community management, but it starts with the actual work — which means reputation needs to be managed first from within, among employees, before it ever becomes an issue externally.
- Recruitment is vital to sustainability. Without the right people, a construction company can’t do the work it needs to do, especially in an industry that is experiencing rapid growth and consistent labor shortages — according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, without the right people, construction companies can’t do the work the way they need to do it to maintain its reputation and its relationships. It’s why recruitment is quite possibly the most important ingredient for sustainability, especially in an industry with 830,000 players, according to statistics. By having a clear understanding of internal needs, streamlining internal processes and targeting the right people with employment opportunities, construction companies have a much better chance at onboarding the type of people who match their culture, share their same vision and understand their importance to the overall success of the business. And when it’s done right, recruitment has the potential to positively impact relationships and reputation — the other two critical keys to success for construction companies.
There is no secret formula to marketing for construction companies, but there is nothing lost in putting focused energy into any of these three areas. Interested in learning more? Request a case study on one of our construction clients. We’d be happy to share with you what we did for them and how those results elevated their level of success.
Three Things We Know About Real Estate Marketing
Anyone with a pulse will know that the real estate market is hot, white hot, at the moment. Trending topics include discussions about whether or not a bubble exists and if it will burst while potential buyers are offering everything short of their first born to secure a home among a field of bidders.
In addition, industry experts at Realtor Magazine and CRE are pointing to a list of potential challenges facing the market, including:
- Labor shortages
- Rising interest rates
- Remote work
- Affordable housing
At WHYFOR, we get it. When it comes to real estate, every player is challenged to rise above and stand out in a highly competitive space. It can be daunting. But, our real estate experience has shown us a few things about the importance of using insights and integration to influence behavior.
Here are three things we know about real estate.
- Understand your personas: It’s important to know who you’re talking to. Are they a young couple looking for a larger home to accommodate a growing family? Is it a newly-single parent looking for a fresh space to call their own? Or, are the owners older, hoping to downsize but still have room to entertain at the holidays? Personas dial in audiences with precision. Understanding them helps brands shape the content, particularly voice and substance, of what they’ll share with each individual persona. And there are so many different ways to understand an audience, from income level to timing to geography to passions. An outdoorsy persona likely wouldn’t be interested in high-rise living, for example. And the same could be said in reverse. It’s that in-depth understanding that makes marketing more powerful and more effective.
- Understand where they are on their journey: Once you understand who your brand personas are, it’s important to understand where they are. A couple nearing retirement may still be a few years away from purchasing a second home, or they could be ready to pull the trigger on a purchase immediately. The details in the circumstances map out how a brand should market to a potential client — from voice and tone, to opportunities to buy to the all-important “call to action” statement. Those same variables can be applied to any type of marketing, from digital ads to blogs to email campaigns. Understanding the point along the journey also helps with user experience elements, from digital ads to landing pages to website development.
- Understand the pain points each persona is experiencing and what questions they may have: Personas are actually mosaic individuals, if that paints a picture of the character traits that are poured into each one. Knowing that, it’s safe to say that a number of different but potentially related pain points could bubble to the surface, with a similar volume of purchase-related questions. When it comes to real estate, consider questions related to:
- Cost and timing
- Amenities and aesthetics
- But also consider what, specifically, they may be searching for:
- Custom estate
- First or second home
- Land that could be developed at a later date
By addressing personas with an informed perspective, it builds a stronger relationship and more trust between the prospect and the brand — lending the brand greater influence on the prospect.
Want to see more? Our case studies bring these truths to life.
Give Retention Front-Seat Attention
Everyone is familiar with a house of cards. And if not, they’re familiar with Jenga, either from childhood or from the play area at your favorite bar.
Both things capture the same theory — that a missing card or a misaligned wooden brick could turn a solid structure into a fragile one and send it tumbling to pieces. The same can be said for business.
And that’s the idea behind H.A.L.O., the proprietary business system developed by WHYFOR’s founder and used to assess and find solutions for one or more of the six challenges every business faces. Because every business, regardless of industry, faces the same universal challenges.
We’ve talked about how relationships can impact reputation and how reputation can impact recruitment. See? Jenga. One loose brick, or one challenge in one area of a business, can hamstring other departments or initiatives.
And sometimes it happens without anyone ever even realizing it. Because not all of the six challenges, the ones we refer to as the six Rs, have the same voice. They don’t all get paid the same level of attention. Some stay in the background, making it easier to overlook their impact.
One example is retention, the last of the six Rs in our H.A.L.O. series. Retention, as in employee retention and client retention — both of which are pretty critical to successful business operations.
For both scenarios, why would a business struggle with retention? Greener pastures, or at least the perception of it, could be one reason. And what’s in those pastures?
From an employee perspective, likely more money, better benefits, better alignment with values, more convenience or more inner fulfillment. From a client perspective, it could include spending less and getting more, better results, improved service and better alignment on values.
Either way, revenue growth depends on retention. Current labor statistics indicate it is a worker’s market with a record-breaking 10.1 million job openings in the U.S. as of the end of July, according to Forbes. And competition for business has never wavered as those seeking service are perpetually interested in receiving the most for the lowest cost possible.
So it’s fair to say that those who cannot retain employees will have a difficult time retaining clients, too. And if retention is a challenge, it’s very possible that reputation will suffer, which will undoubtedly impact revenue.
That was the sound of several cards falling after just one was pulled from its position.
But there are solutions for retention challenges and the H.A.L.O. business system bakes them right in. It begins with understanding why retention is a challenge and then determining how to adjust to improve the situation.
It may mean improved communication or an adjustment of roles or it may involve switching health insurance providers. The point is, everything is unknown until the work is done to dig in and expose the sore spots. And the same goes for client relationships.
H.A.L.O. helps with both. To learn more about our H.A.L.O. business system, download our one-sheet.
Recruitment: A Quiet Influencer
On the surface, recruiting appears to be a numbers game. There are countless statistics attached to workforce development, and let’s not forget an employer’s desire to cast a wide net to attract a large pool of candidates — forgetting momentarily that quality trumps quantity when it comes to filling vacancies.
But recruitment, a critical piece of WHYFOR’s H.A.L.O business system, should be viewed as more than a task that needs to be completed to fill a seat. Consider, for a moment, its ability to be an influencer. Less the Instagram influencer and more the influencer of success for other elements of a business.
We’re talking about revenue, relationships, reputation and retention. Yes, recruitment impacts all of those things — and probably more — which is why it deserves more attention, on a deeper level, than it receives.
Any HR professional knows the numbers.
- Every vacancy costs an employer $500 a day.
- Almost half of businesses say their best hires come from employee referrals.
- More than half of job candidates don’t receive any communication in the months after applying for a position.
- A staggering three-quarters of employers have said they hired the wrong person for a position.
- The average job opening receives 250 resumes.
- About 4 million Americans left their jobs in April of 2021 to pursue something better.
Even for someone who likes math, those are a lot of digits to digest. And, when you tack context on to them, it’s even more challenging to process all of it. But understanding the impact a company’s recruitment efforts have on revenue, relationships, reputation and retention is non-negotiable.
Take, for example, revenue. If a company’s approach to recruitment attracts the wrong people — people who aren’t fully qualified or aren’t talented enough to do the job as it needs to be done — revenue can suffer. If you look at how recruitment impacts retention, there’s a similar theme.
The wrong people won’t stay, which keeps a company on that workforce development merry-go-round indefinitely.
If a recruitment process is cumbersome, devoid of information or handled poorly, it can negatively impact a company’s reputation among job candidates and the market in general. And, once a reputation suffers, the trickle-down effect means relationships could be impacted in a negative way.
In short, poorly executed or haphazard recruitment initiatives could be a sore spot being overlooked by companies struggling to find success simply because recruitment has the ability to initiate a cascading, domino effect on most other aspects of a business. And as part of our immersive and holistic H.A.L.O. system, we ask the questions that get us to the root obstacle.
Most business leaders focus on revenue as an issue, but by understanding how every element of a company is intertwined, our approach very often discovers an alternate influencer for success.
Recruitment is just one of them.
Learn more about our H.A.L.O. business system, our process and how it may help diagnose and solve for recruitment issues, download our one-sheet.
Reputation Is The Invaluable Intangible
When it comes to people, character is often tied to reputation. Wise quotes are regularly offered that suggest the importance of worrying more about one’s character than one’s reputation — since reputation is developed through an outsider’s lens.
But when it comes to business, that lens is basically everything. A brand can’t afford to disregard the quality of its reputation by simply hoping its character will keep it afloat in the marketplace. Why?
Because brand reputation influences other factors for success, a tested theory we leverage as part of our proprietary H.A.L.O. business system. One look at cancel culture proves that. A brand can be here and then be gone, like that, based on an outsider’s view or experience — based purely on its reputation.
Which means, the quality of a brand’s reputation can impact revenue, relationships and recruitment. And no business leader wants any of those to suffer.
Reputation has been labeled by some as being more valuable than money, while others have noted how difficult it is to build it and how easy it is to obliterate it. Of course, when we at WHYFOR hear about the connection between character and reputation, we can’t help but think of what we refer to as brand anatomy.
That anatomy, a brand’s DNA, could be correlated to its character. And when it comes to marketing, understanding and developing brand anatomy is a critical first step to building a larger strategy for tackling any one of the six problems every business faces, including reputation.
And, to add urgency to the issue, time is of the essence as more people spend more time engaging directly with brands and businesses. According to Hootsuite, 875,000 new users around the world begin using the internet every day. On average, users spend about seven hours online daily. And HubSpot reports 5.6 billion searches are conducted on Google every day.
Those numbers don’t simply illustrate online volume, they illustrate potential — for engagement, for search, for visibility, for share of voice and for reputation issues to improve or worsen, depending on a brand’s strategy to manage it.
This is where H.A.L.O., with its holistic approach, proves itself incredibly valuable. With a thorough analysis of a brand’s anatomy and a panoramic view of a brand’s reputation challenges, strategies can be developed to elevate it by investing in tactics such as:
- Improving a social media presence
- Earning secondary endorsements through public relations efforts
- Ensuring a quality product
- Managing an improved customer experience
- Facilitating authentic, positive online reviews
And honestly, all of that just scratches the surface. With a good understanding of how a brand’s reputation can impact other elements of business success, it is imperative that our H.A.L.O. strategies trickle down and through any other operational arm of a business — from sales to operations and HR to frontline customer service.
Everything is connected. And when it comes to the fragility of brand reputation, particularly in this era, success depends on everything being buttoned up, tight.
Learn more about our H.A.L.O. business system, and the process we use, by downloading our one-sheet.
Relationships Are Everything. Really.
Relationships are funny things. In life, the way we categorize our relationships generally runs along a spectrum, from loathing to loving — for any number of reasons. In business though, it seems there are poles.
There’s little room for indifference, especially when it comes to the end user. Something or someone or some brand is either loved or hated. There is no in between.
Think about it. In general, we’re hot or we’re cold when it comes to the relationships we form with brands. If you doubt this theory, read any thread of comments on any brand’s social media. The opposite ends of the spectrum will jump out immediately, as will the quality of social media’s collective sarcasm.
And that’s just one type of business relationship. What about the ones formed within an organization? And what about the ones that organizations form with other, like-minded or like-missioned organizations?
They’re all important. They’re important because business is built on relationships, but also because every kind of relationship has the ability to impact revenue. And every relationship has the ability to influence a brand’s reputation.
This should start to sound familiar if you’ve kept up with our series of blogs detailing our proprietary H.A.L.O. business system. And if it doesn’t sound familiar, let’s just say every business leader should recognize that the obstacles a brand or business is facing is no different than the same six challenges every other brand or business faces.
Everything is connected, including relationships, revenue and reputation. One weak link can create slack in the proverbial chain allowing progress and forward movement to bottleneck. No one wants that.
It’s why an inward look, as part of our H.A.L.O. process, is so crucial. And it’s why that inward look needs to be holistic instead of reserved for only certain departments. Nothing should be overlooked, since everything has the potential to influence revenue.
When it comes to relationships, we look at an organization’s:
- Internal marketing and communications
- External marketing and communications
- Internal processes such as HR and benefits
- External, B2B partnerships
- Client-centered, or B2C, exchanges — including the sales process
- User experience across all platforms and interactions
- Referrals and testimonials
When you think of your brand’s relationships, and cross reference that list, have you covered all those bases? Because, if we’re being honest (and good relationships are built on honesty), that’s just a short list.
Relationships run deep. Not unlike the ones in our personal lives, business relationships have context and history and future implications. Sometimes they result in exciting collaborations and immediate referrals and sometimes they take time to marinate before they turn into something unexpected down the road.
But one unwavering variable is the truth that they are always important, in every setting and across every platform. Because relationships impact revenue.
To better understand how your brand’s relationships are impacting your organization’s reputation, revenue and retention, dig in to our H.A.L.O. business system a little deeper. Our one-sheet offers more details.