We live in an era dominated by powerful imagery and compelling visual content. From stunning virtual reality capabilities, to seamless animation and graphic design, we’re flooded every day with extraordinary optical creations. It’s no wonder that marketing professionals cater to such a high level of sensory appeal — 90 percent of information sent to our brains is visual and we process images 60,000 times faster than text. The power of data visualization is undisputed and is why infographics have soared in popularity over the past ten years. Infographics allow people to quickly digest information and remember it for longer than they would a normal block of text. If you want to enhance message effectiveness and boost audience engagement, keep reading to learn how to create compelling infographics.

Understand the data

Novice designers sometimes settle for simply understanding the “big picture” concept of the data, while failing to truly grasp the building blocks of information they’re highlighting. You need to have an in-depth knowledge of the narrative in order to design an effective infographic. If there is something in the content that you don’t understand, ask the client what it means. It’s far better to ask too many questions than to display the information incorrectly.

Research, research and research some more

Being in tune with the latest design trends is crucial to crafting a piece that feels timely and relevant. Pie charts and bar graphs simply won’t cut it anymore if you want your design to stand out. Now, even static infographics are taking a back seat to interactive, multimedia pieces that actively engage viewers. Infographic styles evolve rapidly and if you haven’t checked out the latest craze, your design could easily be perceived as out-of-date.

Know your boundaries

If you’re designing an infographic for a specific company or client, ask them if it needs to fall within their brand standards. While sticking to certain colors, fonts and graphics can feel limiting, remember that your infographic is just one piece of a matrix that makes up their entire marketing strategy. A consistent look-and-feel is paramount, especially with larger corporations. Use this opportunity to stretch your creative wings and play with other aspects like size, hierarchy and texture to make the piece unique.

Segment information

Breaking a large infographic up into smaller segments not only helps the reader to better understand the information, but it is also easier to design multiple smaller infographics rather than one big one. The size of the pieces will also depend on how the infographic will be used. Is it going to be printed or digital? Is it the first in a series of graphics?

Put numbers first

Infographics usually display at least a few numbers and percentages. Since these tend to be the focal points of the piece with the most impact, they should take precedence in hierarchy.

Don’t over-design

Cramming in superfluous design elements was a classic mistake many designers made when infographics initially gained popularity. Never forget that negative space is your ally. It gives the audience time to scan the graphic without drawing their attention to too many different elements at once and overwhelming them. A busy infographic can also detract from the message. Crisp, clean content is king in the infographic world — if the design is stunning but the audience doesn’t grasp the message, then your efforts have failed. Conveying the correct information takes precedence over “pretty design.”

 

Infographics are no longer a novelty; they’re a necessity. Master the art of creating these pieces (or hire a team who can!) to advance your objectives and have a lasting impact on your audiences.

A dependable crisis communications plan is an anchor in a sea of instability. It aligns the response of an organization, provides step-by-step directions, offers essential resources and establishes roles and responsibilities. Recent gaffs that shook the stability of several large companies — from United Airlines’ violent removal of a passenger to Pepsi’s distasteful commercial — have highlighted the significance of a measured, strategic response. While some corporate reactions made the public wince, other organizations adroitly backpedaled with profuse apologies and promises of change. In the digital age, damaging incidences like these are amplified by the pervasive use of online social mediums. Now, traditional geographic barriers aren’t a hindrance to the spread of information and anyone armed with a smart phone can spark a wildfire response online. For communications professionals, time is a luxury we simply don’t have anymore and our ability to act quickly and strategically is paramount. Here are a few ways you can expand your crisis communications plan to ensure your organization uses digital channels to its advantage.

What you have: Key messages that can be tailored to the situation and the organization’s position. Messaging is a standard piece in crisis communications planning, and it gives representatives a foundation for content creation during an incident.

What you should add: An expanded set of content with short, preliminary responses that representatives from your organization can quickly push out online. A swift response, even if it’s simply a reassurance to the public that you’re investigating further and will have an official message soon, can help quell the spread of misinformation. Your organization will also appear proactive in investigating and remedying the situation. These responses should be developed for a number of scenarios, approved by senior leadership and included in your plan. So if an unfortunate circumstance erupts, a representative can make a quick recommendation for an initial response with one of the already-sanctioned messages.

What you have: Instructions for how to remote-access your company intranet portal and other secure documents. These guidelines ensure your communications teams can connect with the resources they need even if they aren’t at their workstations.

What you should add: Directions for posting on your numerous digital channels. A crisis rarely strikes at an “opportune” time when the office is fully staffed and at-the-ready. Don’t get stuck in a situation where you can’t access your online communications tools. In the event your social media and web experts are unavailable, there should be simple but detailed instructions for logging onto the organization’s digital channels and posting content. Make sure you specify the appropriate approval processes and, of course, all usernames and passwords should be stored in a secure space only accessible by a group of authorized users.

What you have: A triage plan for fielding media requests. One of the most crucial elements of a crisis is how the media reacts, and a plan for responding to inquiries from the press in a timely manner is the cornerstone of crisis response.

What you should add: Guidelines for video recording and live streaming on social channels. This strategy will certainly not be applicable for every situation, but outlining the protocols for uploading videos or streaming online should be included in your crisis plan. Consider a situation where your spokesperson is unable to meet with reporters, but needs to connect with audiences through more than a written memo. Employing video is simply another tool you can use to efficiently communicate and successfully control a disruptive situation.

The goals of any crisis communications situation are to ensure safety, manage organizational reputation, communicate effectively and prevent financial loss. In our 24/7 world, an active online presence is one way your organization can quickly respond and navigate through a crisis.

The job of a designer is to be creative. We collaborate with writers to bring their words to life and use colors, shapes, patterns, shadows, textures and a myriad of other visual elements to illuminate a brand. We’re connoisseurs of translating ambiguous feedback (“Just make it pop a little more” is a favorite of mine) and wizards at reinvigorating a stale, tired piece of material. Imagination and inspiration are woven into the fabrics of our work, so when we’re feeling stuck creatively — it shows. Trying to dig out of a creative rut can be discouraging. We all face these roadblocks from time-to-time and, while every person’s process is different, here are some techniques that help me navigate back into an innovative mentality.

Get moving

Step away from your assignment and take a walk outside. A recent Stanford University study found that walking enhances the flow of ideas and invigorates the mind, an effect that is realized even after returning to your desk. Exercise is also a natural stress-reliever and provides mental and physical benefits that can boost creativity. A brisk walk quells the levels of stress hormones and releases endorphins, a hormone the body naturally produces to combat pain and elevate your mood. The thought of leaving a project for a stroll might make you wince, but the benefits of physical activity will make the short reprieve worth it.

Find inspiration

Though it might sound contradictory, originality can stem from appreciating another designer’s creation. Search online for a creator’s work that moves you and evaluate what draws you to the piece — is it the placement, the lines, the utilization of space? This assessment might spark a new idea or allow you to more effectively assess your own material. Celebrate your unique style, but don’t shy away from learning from others’ work.

Brainstorm

Collaboration and creativity go hand-in-hand. Ask your co-workers if you can talk through your idea with them and get their feedback. Grab a white board and outline the fundamental elements of the project. This will help you to think critically about the problem, evaluate the project in a new space and garner insight from people with a fresh perspective.

Carry a sketchbook

Some of the best ideas and concepts come when you least expect them. If you have a sketchbook or even just pen and paper with you at all times, you can quickly write or draw them out before you forget. Even if you don’t end up using the idea for your current project, referring back to your notes can stimulate creativity and benefit you in the future.

Get in touch with your subconscious

This method might be a little unusual, but dream journaling can be a fascinating and powerful tool for enhancing creativity. Dreams are our ideas, but uninhibited by the restraints consciousness innately imposes upon us. Recalling the subliminal mind’s activity liberates us from traditional norms and helps train us to view situations from a different perspective. Creativity has free reign in our subconscious and writing these down helps us capture the truest form of our imaginations. The bizarre, wondrous world of dreams is a boundless source of inspiration.

 

Ultimately, great design stems from hard work. The perfect piece will never appear out of thin air, and the creative process is, well, a process. It’s collaboration, coupled with a deep understanding of the project objectives, audience and use. If you know your craft well and can identify techniques that kick-start your creativity, you’ll be equipped to produce something spectacular.

Clearly, the retail industry is at a crossroads. From the compression of storefronts to the explosion of online options, retail marketers have never been more challenged and somewhat overwhelmed in developing viable marketing strategies and tactics that will resonate with retail consumers. Know-how, innovation and ideation don’t seem to be enough to change the retail marketing game in this ever-evolving climate. It’s time to do more than just check the box but to re-think, re-imagine redefine retail marketing.

Here is some re-thinking every retail marketing professional should entertain.

They’re not customers, they’re clients. It’s time to think of the retail consumer as more than another transactional notch in our marketing belt, but as clients with needs, wants and likes that we need to do more than satisfy, but build and maintain a renewed and trusted relationship with. Retail leader, Nordstrom has been a longtime proponent of this. They not only see a customer as a client, they build real relationships with throughout the retail experience and beyond.

It’s about the experience, Yes, online retail options provide convenience and service levels that satisfy many of the needs retail consumers, but retail clients still want to touch and feel. It’s time to think about the retail experience before anything else. What motivates a retail client to think beyond shopping to a retail excursion, which may include more than a purchase but the creation of a memory. This excursion may include a meal, a family activity, an event or another engagement that becomes a shareable moment. The retail experience has a lot more to do with the environment, the culture, the brand promise rather than just another day at the mall. When we look at the latest retail development projects, we are seeing new levels or innovation that includes more than a retail anchor but a combination of offerings under one retail space. Retail marketers must now provide marketing communications solutions that rise to this evolving physical space creating a renewed retail experience.

Integrate or perish. There now needs to be a new obsession with the traditional marketing mix that moves beyond our comfort zone, but to a newly defined professional marketing DNA. Integration needs to be an obsession where marketing communications is part of a fine-tuned ecosystem that unites all facets of marketing including customer service, advertising, social media, public relations, events, digital interface, mobile and more. This holistic approach will transcend traditional marketing tactics and create a new professional mindset and a re-tooled approach to all marketing efforts.

Reconsider demographics. Not only do demographics matter, but they also provide insight into the heart of retail clients, yet the retail industry continues to be one-dimensional in their approach. Retail marketers need to refocus their efforts beyond what they perceive as their demographic sweet spot, but consider a psychographic approach that includes sources of motivation that transcends traditional demographic thinking. It’s time to understand what retail clients are passionate about and what they expect from each retail experience. Retail marketers now need to harvest emerging segments move beyond traditional demographic targeting.

Brands still matter. The retail revolution requires far more than a brand refresh but should include a brand audit that defines a new threshold for your brand promise. Beyond measuring brand recognition and other traditional brand metrics, its time to obsess about brand loyalty, you’re inherent brand promise and a timely examination of your brand’s perception in the marketplace. A brand audit is a re-examination of the inherent traits your brand possesses and how it does or does not resonate with your audience. The brand audit needs to be a 360 degree process that includes all of your internal and external publics benchmarking your current brand perception and then re-examining your brand on a regular basis.

Every day is a brand new day for retail marketing professionals, where talent, creativity and imagination will always prevail. If we make retail experiential, the best bricks and mortar or digital interface will only enhance the overall client experience and refocus the retail mindset to the next generation of consumers.

This article was published on Forbes.com, authored by Joseph Grano

As a graphic designer, I love creating for print. There’s something special about designing a piece that you know will eventually end up in the hands of your consumers, rather than just viewed on a screen. The past decade has ushered in a stampede of marketers lauding the print-to-digital transformation and decrying the glossy brochures, weighty annual reports and other print pieces many of us find so satisfying. But as the dust settles, the benefits of preserving a strategic print presence in campaigns has sustained and, thankfully for us print geeks, the traditional medium isn’t going away. Melding print and digital into multi-channel campaigns has proven to be the most effective, strategic approach to boosting brand recognition and achieving objectives. Here are four reasons to include print in your marketing mix:

The experience

Print offers an experience that digital media simply can’t imitate. When designing a print piece, you have to consider the way people will physically interact with it — unfolding a brochure or flipping through a magazine is tactile and, if executed properly, can be influential. A study focused on how people cognitively process direct mail versus digital media found that print pieces are more memorable and easier for consumers to understand. Designers can utilize texture, shape, weight and countless other aspects that aren’t available in the digital world to get their audiences’ attention. The tangibility of print gives it a lasting impact — something that the instantaneous world of digital has yet to replicate.

It strengthens digital

Digital is stronger when coupled with a print strategy. Using a call-to-action in your print ads can help drive traffic to a unique landing page, where you can track impressions and conversions. You can also leverage print ads to encourage engagement with your brand’s social media presence.

Hard to ignore

Consumers are bombarded by thousands of digital advertisements on a daily basis. Watching the news, checking social media, using phone apps, pumping gas — targeted advertisements are inescapable. And, as a result of the ensuing clutter, we’ve become experts in tuning them out: The majority of people block ads online or skip traditional TV commercials. Print, meanwhile, is harder to ignore. People instinctively look at what they’re holding in their hands, whether that’s a direct mail piece, a magazine insert or some other form of print advertisement. More eyes on your brand’s message is always beneficial to a campaign.

Customization connects

Variable–data printing (VDP) is a form of digital printing that allows for elements on print pieces to be changed on each individual print. This permits customization of text, graphics or images on a piece-by-piece basis without slowing the print process. Tailoring the look-and-feel or message to segmented target audiences can help your piece resonate and connect consumers to your brand.

 

Brand management is a bit like personal hygiene, the more you ignore it, the more problems that will arise in the future; problems that could have been easily preventable had they been addressed quickly. These issues can often cause content marketers to lose their credibility, and in some cases their jobs.

Thus, it’s important for organizations to have systems in place in order to avoid crisis and keep their brands fresh and the content engaging. Therefore, we have put together a list of five questions you must ask yourself to ensure your brand doesn’t run into any of these easily avoidable problems.

1. Is your content to brand?

At the end of the day it’s essential that the language you use for your brand reflects a certain style that not only differentiates you from you competitors but also that builds trust with your audience. It’s content that is human, personal, relevant and not greedy. It’s also language that is both consistent and in alignment with your SEO keywords.

2. Is your digital content optimized for search?

It’s 2017, which means SEO should be an integral part of your overall content strategy. In order to reach your desired audience, each story you tell about your brand must be keyword focused, have an optimized headline and should include relevant links from your website. SEO may not be the sexiest part of content marketing, however, it is one of the most critical.

3. Did your content go through the correct workflow channels?

In order to ensure that your brand content goes through an adequate approval process and does not get hung up in bureaucratic stalls, a proper established workflow process must be set in place. This allows everyone to know their prospective roles in the production process, who each team member reports to, as well as the overall trajectory of the brand story and the corresponding content.

4. Is your tone consistent throughout all mediums?

This can prove to be a bit of a challenge, as we are now in the digital age and there are so many different platforms to share your content on. Brands must not only define what their voice should sound like, but also how to maintain a level of consistency in that voice across all mediums and branded materials. As you expand your content operation, its important to ensure you have right systems in place to guarantee that regardless of who actually writes the content, your tone remains consistent

5. Are you using the appropriate images to support your content?

Content marketing of course requires more than just well written text in order to be effective. If you work in the marketing space you are aware that content with images receive higher engagement than those without. However, in the flurry of churning out daily content and finding corresponding images, it’s still important to remember to select images that both adhere to brand standards and copyright regulations. So make sure to have processes in place to vet and review images before they are posted with your content.

Real content marketing isn’t just repurposed advertising, it is making something worth talking about. Every item on this list is here to help improve your organizational efficiency and maintain a high quality for your work. Regardless of the subjects you are covering, it’s important to due your due diligence to avoid publishing anything that may violate your brand standards, turn off your target audience, or come across as culturally insensitive.

If we can help you with any of your content marketing needs, give us a ring!

Social media is here to stay. Not only does it empower your brand, it creates a sustainable, lasting conversation about your product or service. There are few in business today who won’t acknowledge the impact social media has made in marketing communications

However, the greatest challenge organizations are currently facing is the integration of social media into their overall marketing strategy. Whether it’s public relations, advertising, sales or any other marketing function, social media needs to be integrated in order to create a synergistic partnership with your overall marketing communications strategy. To do this, we must go beyond hashtags and routine postings to develop strategic positioning of social media in concert with your entire marketing communications plan.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Social media content must be transparent. It must be shared openly and visibly throughout your organization as it builds on your brand story to reach internal and external stakeholders. This simply means internal sharing of social media content and strategy which then builds stronger integration with your overall marketing strategy. Transparency will then not only build trust but create new levels of synergy for your marketing and social media.
  • Social media is not a subordinated marketing function. Social media should not be only one function within the marketing mix, like public relations or advertising. It must be an equal function among others, possessing its own sphere of influence, strategy and metrics. Social media will then be leverage with the same emphasis on strategy and business impact.
  • Social media must be integrated into every marketing decision. You can’t just “check the box” with social media – it takes planning, competency and seasoned management to maintain. When integrated, social media then becomes synergistic and builds on a holistic marketing approach. Many organizations prove that a coordinated approach to any business function will yield meaningful results.
  • Social media metrics must transcend likes and numbers of followers. Social media metrics must be built on true and sustainable engagement. We must transcend hashtags and inflated likes to those true followers who have an affinity for your brand. This is important in order to leverage social media to engage, converse and transact. Social media will then align with your brand loyalty, which will yield sustainable results.
  • Social media should not be an exception. For example, a well-known company recently wanted to make a large announcement and the social media team determined that they needed to place this announcement on social media first, without any regard to public relations or overall marketing communication strategy. In fact, this effort ended up costing the organization front-page exclusive coverage because it already had appeared on social media. It would have been better served to make this announcement coordinated with all marketing functions including strategic communications, sales and marketing, among others.
  • Social media content must not be developed in isolation. Social media messages built in a vacuum rarely resonate or have a long-term impact. This isolation has the potential of costing and defraying the overall value of your marketing communications initiatives. True social media synergy means building a consensus within your organization when formulating social media messaging and content. This can be accomplished by a more formal social media planning process, stronger internal planning around social media initiatives outside of the marketing communications team and prioritization of social media as measurable business function.

As social media has evolved, so must we. It’s not a fad or a trend – it is a marketing communications function that has a viable impact on your business. When every marketing function comes together, it creates an integrated synergistic marketing strategy. Leveraging your social media footprint across the marketing continuum will not only positively impact your brand awareness, but will build new business relationships.

This article was written by Next-Mark Founder and President and appeared on Forbes.com

It’s always a challenge to not come across as preachy, but rather to provide a moral compass to what you do in business. In an age of change and challenges, how do we take the high yet profitable road as marketing professionals and business leaders? Through experience, I have learned that the choices we make, the example we set and the values we uphold are recognized and often times applauded by all internal and external stakeholders.

Marketing is a very powerful tool, but like any business practice, it needs to be guided by a system of values driven by what is right and what is wrong. Your judgment is more than a barometer; it embodies who you are and what you stand for. The end game is to transcend persuasive messaging and provide a message that adheres to your organization’s belief system. This system must be more than a moral compass but embody the essence of your brand.

Here are some guiding principles to remember:

  • Stick to your core competencies. If you focus on what you do best, it will always translate into not only the greatest and most profitable path, but also one that is responsible and in the best interest of your clients. As we see many times in business, brands that trade down their product offering for a cheaper alternative or dilute their brand promise often fail or suffer a setback.
  • Stay on message. It is critical to develop a messaging strategy that aligns with your unique values. This will keep your content in check and ethical yet still persuasive and engaging.
  • Be careful of short-term gains. Remember your short-term decisions will have long-term consequences. Every message you curate or campaign you launch will create a legacy for your brand. Companies that try to create shockwaves in the market or spend resources just for attention oftentimes lose their long-term momentum or dilute their equity in the marketplace. Choose wisely.
  • Protect your brand assets. Your brand is your essence; it embodies who you are and what you stand for. Be an exceptional steward for your brand and it will translate into an appropriate and compelling brand story.
  • Give back. Remember to give back not only to the greater community but also to your team and clients; these are your real assets that need to be nurtured and protected. Your rapport with them needs to be open, honest and authentic. They are looking to you for guidance and support – it’s a responsibility that needs to be embraced.
  • Remember it’s not always about you. As marketers, we spend a lot of time touting our offering and forget we would be valueless without our clients. It’s critical to first think about your clients and their needs before your own and how they will benefit from our offering. Our clients are not only critical assets but are valuable partners.
  • When times get tough, it’s time to start listening. It may be time to embark on a listening tour to gauge how you’re being perceived and solicit candid feedback from your sphere of influence – both internally and externally.
  • To earn respect, you must give respect. Remember that to gain the respect of others, you must first earn it. This can be accomplished by solid communications and managing expectations of all influencers. The result will be worth the effort and will resonate with all of your public audiences.

Taking the high road may not always be the most profitable one, but in the long run, you will win the race. As professionals, we are responsible for what we market and how we market it. Ultimately, we must own the choices we make and sustain a profit in the process.

This post was featured on Forbes.com

Over the years we’ve seen the latest and greatest technological advancements burst onto the advertising and communications scene.    Some stuck around through innovation and engagement, while others became stagnant and slowly faded into irrelevancy. (Remember    when every piece of printed material sported a QR code?)

Now, virtual reality, known as VR, is taking over. While our century’s re-invented virtual reality is still in its infancy, the technology is rapidly changing as more and more companies evolve its abilities for a better user experience. Today, brands are using VR to demonstrate          product value, share a message and connect users to their mission through immersive storytelling.

There’s no doubt that the virtual reality experience is cool — who wouldn’t want to float around in space or explore the streets of Manhattan from their coach? — but before incorporating VR into your next brand campaign, consider these tips:

Make sure it’s worth the cash

Developing content for virtual reality is time-intensive and costly. There are quite a few factors you should contemplate before you commit. You’ll need to develop 360° videos or create custom 3-D animation, both of which require special equipment and software.                    Outsourcing the work is another option that will drive up overall cost. Approach virtual reality as you would any other channel — in a strategic, thoughtful way. Make sure the technology enhances your brand’s message and personality, and that it will help you meet set objectives. If it doesn’t, ditch it for a more effective and less expensive medium.

Know your audience.

Is your target market forward-thinking millennials who will jump at the chance to interact with a shiny new gadget? Or are they less technologically savvy baby boomers? Consider whether their experience with virtual reality will be favorable or if it will it hurt their relationship with your brand. You need to have a firm understanding of your audience before asking them to interact with VR.

Think practically.

How will you get consumers to engage with your content? A pioneer of the virtual reality age, The New York Times sent more than 1 million Google Cardboards to its readers. Their app, which houses 360° videos, received nearly as many downloads. Lowe’s set up a virtual     reality experience room in a handful of their locations to entice visitors and increase in-store sales. What will be your technique to get consumers to engage with your VR content? Whether you’re supplying people with the right gear or targeting those who already have their    own, be purposeful in your approach.

Keeping marketing communications fresh is always a conundrum for business professionals. To do this, you must continually bring new vigor and energy to your strategies. The rumblings heard most in marketing communications today are about the need for innovation and ideation that not only bring awareness but create new revenue growth. Here are some insights to consider as you build your marketing communications roadmap for the rest of the year.

  • Nurture your brand asset. Your brand is your No. 1 asset and the core of everything you do. Your unique brand identity and the values tied to it will continue to be the primary drivers of your business and its success. From always staying true to your brand promise to refreshing your brand playbook, a focus here will help take you far. It’s critical to understand the essence of your brand in order to create a sustainable brand promise. Specifically, brands need to be dynamic and continually reinvented to represent an authentic and timely story. Whether it’s your visual brand identity or your brand promise, your brand is a reflection of who you are as an organization, not simply what products or services you offer.
  • The buck stops with messaging strategy. Without a messaging strategy that sets you apart from your competition, all the words in the world can’t help you succeed. Think key messages and support points, solutions that meet needs, and benefits rather than features. Without a strategy in place, you cannot deliver the consistency in messaging that is central to staking out your territory and building your business. If you don’t have a clear messaging strategy in place, it’s critical to embark on a formal or informal process with stakeholders to create a messaging platform that will resonate with your audience.
  • It may be time to consider a social media makeover. Your business has probably been on social media for a while now, so you have history and analytics to measure what is or is not working and the platforms that are and are not right for you. Make the needed changes early, while planning your overall marketing strategy. Although there are many emerging social media sites, it may be time to fine tune what you already have in place by reinvigorating your message, expanding your audience or refreshing your visual presence on that platform. Most importantly, invest in your social content with compelling, fact-based and shareable information, rather than just churning the same content over and over again.
  • Be aware of the “fluff factor.” It pays to do a “fluff check” to ensure that your messaging and communications are depending on more than superlatives (and, heaven forbid, hyperbole) to convey the value of your products and services. Replace useless adjectives with solid benefits. Be careful of overstating or exaggerating your offering and then later trying to defend your position. Authenticity will always resonate with your audience.
  • Make innovation a part of your marketing DNA. Innovation has made its way back into the buzzword lexicon as a prized attribute. The world is changing quickly, and people want to align themselves with businesses that not only keep up with change but also anticipate it. It’s worth asking: Are you missing a chance to position your product or service in this light? If so, what course will you follow to correct this deficit and what resources need to be dedicated to move to the next level of innovation?
  • Optimize your trade show presence. With trade shows today, less can equal more as companies are being far more strategic in their choice of venues and closely tracking their costs per lead. By putting increased focus on pre-show traffic generation, successful companies are ensuring worthwhile exhibition experiences. They key to your success will be in how you engage your audience prior to the event versus just showing up and expecting to generate traffic. Instead, spend time on pre-show targeted communications, social media posts and appointment setting prior to the event.
  • Make your events strategic. Whether events are external or internal, they require consistency in messaging and energy behind message delivery. Event management requires the same strategic methodology as all your communications, ensuring you take advantage of each and every opportunity to establish your brand identity. At the core of every successful event is a comprehensive project plan with a flow of activities and objectives; without this in place, your event will just be another date on the calendar and not a true networking or relationship building endeavor.
  • Content still matters. Tired of hearing that “content is king”? Then think of it as your servant – a means to share your expertise and solidify your industry knowledge in a helpful way. Content helps you prove what you say about yourself with white papers, case studies, how-to videos, fact sheets, etc. Once a theoretical concept, content management is now a marketing necessity.
  • Align with the experts. There’s an art to knowing what you don’t know and it’s as important in marketing as it is to any endeavor. Every organization should ensure that its core competencies in marketing align with its tactics and goals and seek outside experts when needs and skills don’t match up. It’s the best way to save time and money while protecting your professional image.
  • Build partnerships. Are there strategic marketing communications partners just waiting to join forces with you to further both your businesses? It’s quite possible there are and teaming up with those organizations can produce exponential benefits. Whether it’s a local complementary business partner or a national high-end entity, the whole will always be greater than the sum of its parts.
Effective marketing communications mean constantly re-examining your core messages, strategies and assets. Think of it as a dynamic process and you will find the road ahead a lot less congested.
This article by Joseph Grano was recently published on Forbes.com.