In sports, a playbook is a dynamic document that outline’s the team’s strategies and schemes throughout the duration of a game, and is then practiced over and over again. When you think of a playbook, you might think of a football team whose coaches refer to this book religiously. And so when they’re confronted with certain scenarios and situations, they can respond accordingly. It serves as a helpful guide so teams can make smart, coordinated decisions – even under pressure.
If you think about it, managing the digital marketing initiatives for your brand is like playing a sport. It requires strategy, teamwork, and a large degree of focus in order to be successful. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a marketing playbook that can help you navigate the fast-paced world of digital and to ensure you harness the right tools and strategies to meet your brands objectives. This playbook should contain your goals, strategies and tactics that you can deploy for different situations.
So what are five essential components of your brands digital marketing playbook?
 
1. #1 Digital Asset: Your Website
Gone are the days when websites were simply “nice-to-have.” If your customers cannot find you and get what they need from your website, then you haven’t taken advantage of having an online presence and you better catch up – and you better do it fast. Your digital marketing playbook should outline a specific plan for your website; from how you convert visitors into qualified leads, to the protocols in place when introducing a new campaign or making changes to your brands look and feel. Your playbook should also summarize the specific KPI’s you are measuring for your site and how you plan to achieve your web-related goals.
 
2. It’s all about searchability: SEO (Inbound/Content Marketing)
 Although related to web, this is such an important component of digital marketing it deserves its own category – and it’s something that requires constant attention. SEO today is not about attracting as many visitors to your site as possible, but more about attracting high value traffic that is genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Your digital marketing playbook needs to specify who you are targeting through keywords, an overall plan for developing external links to your site, how you plan to measure your SEO efforts, and your ongoing content strategy for providing focused, high quality content to your visitors.
 
3. The modern digital playground: Social Media
Using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to reach your audience? Great! You should be. However, for some social media can be overwhelming, but with the right strategy, content plan and platform management, your brand can reap great benefits. Your digital playbook should include a strategy that aligns with your overall brand objectives as well as your plan for meeting your social media specific goals. What is your brands personality? How do you want it to be portrayed on social platforms? Rolling out a new campaign? How will you integrate social media and utilize cross channel promotion? How much do you want to spend on Facebook Ads? These are all questions you should be answering within your digital marketing playbook in the section on social media.
 
4Reaching the right people with the right message: Digital Advertising (SEM/PPC)
Online Advertising can be a very effective lower cost solution that allows you to target specific customers based on their location and behavior. If you plan on utilizing pay-per-click advertising and search engine marketing tactics as a part of your digital marketing strategy, your playbook should answer how much you want to spend on online advertising, who you are targeting, what you want your creative to look like, what specific landing pages are you driving traffic to and how will you measure the effectiveness of these initiatives.
 
5. It’s not dead yet: Email Marketing
Email marketing is alive and well. It remains a great way to cultivate existing relationships with your customers as well as engage new prospects. Thus, it should still remain an important component of your digital marketing playbook. This section on your playbook should outline your key strategies for delivering fresh content to your existing loyal customers, and your prospects. It should answer the following questions: how frequently are you sending out emails? What type of subject lines and pre-headers seem to receive the best open rates? Do all of my emails contain a clear, concise call to action? Is my design clean and congruent with current branding? How am I measuring the results?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the avenues and ways you can market your brand online. Remember this: you don’t need to do everything. What’s more important than being everywhere at once is that your digital marketing efforts are done properly and efficiently. Continue to refer back to your playbook and you’ll be able to take advantage of the digital marketing tactics that are best suited for the growth of your brand.

Today, the compilation of accurate data about customers and competitors is an indispensable tool for any organization. We understand that the process of conducting market research can often appear overwhelming, however, the dividends it yields are priceless. With that being said, here are five reasons why market research is a must for business success.

  1. It Elevates your Messaging and Communication

All too often, companies find themselves talking at consumers rather than to them. There’s a big difference. Market research is an invaluable and effective way to test concepts and key messages to evaluate those customers and prospects relate to best. With this information in hand, you can create content that resonates and determine how best to get that content to the people who matter.

  1. It Can Optimize Your Brand Strategy and Positioning 

Every company’s goal is to position itself uniquely in the marketplace in a way that puts them ahead of the competition. Quantitative and qualitative marketing research can be used to identify where your brand is positioned compared to your competitors, what metrics you should be tracking over time and what brand benefits matter most to your target market.

  1. It Fosters Better Decision Making

In today’s rapidly shifting market landscape, the ability to make effective data-driven decisions is crucial for all business operations. Having the right information at your fingertips can help you go forward with confidence, validating what you know to be true and minimizing the risk of getting it wrong.

  1. You Gain Better Insight on Target Customers

 One of the biggest returns you get from effective market research is that it compels you to actively listen and to engage with your customers on a personal level. This in turn enables you to more accurately assess their needs and identify potential holes in customer satisfaction so you can make necessary adjustments to better serve them. Significantly, when you can communicate at this level, it shows you not only know your customers and prospects but you also respect them, not wasting their time with incessant and unnecessary communications.

  1. It Allows You to Remain Relevant and Future Focused

You may be familiar with the phrase “adapt or perish.” This can certainly apply to businesses and brands, as well as individuals. Conducting regular market research helps ensure that your brand stands the test of time, looking past short-term gain and evolving as necessary to survive and prosper.

In the modern global market, marketing research is not only useful but essential. Put it at the top of your marketing to-do list. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did.

Providing valuable, digestible content to consumers in order to build brand affinity is hardly a new marketing device, so why are some marketers struggling to craft killer content and effective creative assets?

While it may differ from marketer to marketer, one of the key problems we see is related to organization and planning. Part of the problem lies in the fact that many organizations lack a standardized framework, one that breaks content development into clearly defined stages of completion.

Thus, below we have outlined five important steps every marketer should take when developing a new piece of content.

  1. Start with a Creative Brief

Crucial for the beginning of a new project, especially if there are multiple parties involved, a clearly organized creative brief is quintessential to the success of every new content project. Not only does it ensure everyone is on the same page, but once approved this then will become a working document that provides guidance to all parties on the overall communications objective of the asset being developed.

  1. Develop an Outline

Once you have a creative brief that is approved by all parties, you can then provide a copy outline to include an overview by section with bullets along with other salient points, fact-based items and other content that should be included.

  1. Complete a Working draft

After a copy outline is developed, a working draft is then completed, and sent to internal or external reviewers for feedback. This draft might include multiple options for headlines, copy points and the overall content layout direction.

  1. Begin the Editing Phase

Any good content marketer knows that editing is a critical part of the process. Thus, once you have feedback on the working draft, it is important to then to work with the client through a few rounds of edits (we recommend no more than three) until approval is reached.

  1. End with a Visual Context Review

If you are adding graphic elements to the content asset, this is the last step. Once the approved draft is in design, we recommend then smoothing out the overall copy in a design context for flow and fit within the designed asset.

Need help with your content strategy? We would love to assist. Give us a call at 941.929.3104 or visit our website.

Nowadays, having a dynamic social media presence is critical for success. However, in order to reach your desired level of success on social, you must have a specific strategy to ensure your content reaches the largest audience possible. Whether you’re new to the world of social media marketing or not, it’s no secret that getting noticed on social media can be tough. Even the world’s most clever marketing content won’t do you or your business much good if no one else is seeing it.

Thus, here are our top 4 ways to increase content exposure on social media.

  1. Fully understand the platforms

Before you start to look for one-size-fits-all ideas and tactics that you can start implementing, it’s important to focus on the unique nature of each individual platform. Content shouldn’t be promoted the same on Instagram and Twitter because they aren’t always going to be perfectly compatible. Your audience doesn’t use them the same way, so you probably shouldn’t either.

  1. Utilize visual content

There’s a massive amount of potential being wasted by a lot of business owners when it comes to content creation. Adding a visual component to your content is going to get it more views, period. The only thing that you need to be thinking about at this point is what kind of visual content you’re going to use. For instance, live videos are a great way to create content with an authentic, intimate feel built right in. And if you’re operating with a humble marketing budget, live videos have the added benefit of being a low-cost option.

  1. Monitor the Metrics

While it may not be the most exciting topic, it is one of the most important. Without a heavy focus on metrics, your marketing efforts essentially amount to using your best guess at what’s working and what isn’t. If you’re looking for ways to increase your content’s exposure, the process actually becomes pretty simple. Try out a variety of different styles of content. Then track the data on each separate strategy using platform specific tools, focusing on metrics like exposure and reach. Once you’ve collected the data, create and publish more content that’s designed to capitalize on what your audience is engaging with.

  1. Consider Paid Advertisements

Ads on social are not like any other ads online. Why? Because they have massive upside. Facebook and Instagram ads have some of the best returns in the paid advertising game. You get access to plenty of people who actively engage with your brand. It’s essentially a way to hijack a curated list of people in your demographic who want your product/service. It’s hard to think of anything that’ll offer your content more exposure than that.

 

Why not take every step possible to increase your content’s exposure on social by building a marketing strategy that prioritizes data, industry understanding and execution. If we can help you with your social strategy, let us know!

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!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SARASOTA, Fl. (April 7, 2017) — Sarasota-based communications agency Next-Mark has announced recent staff additions and promotions.

Laura Castro, the company’s new manager of client experience, comes to Next-Mark from University of Florida (UF) Health in Gainesville, where she served as communications coordinator. Castro, who has a BS in Public Relations from UF, oversees and guides client campaigns for Next-Mark.

Ryan Hoevenaar joins the Next-Mark team as its manager of creative and digital content, following a successful career as a freelance graphic designer Hoevenaar, who has a BS in Graphic Design/Multi-Media from Bradley University in Peoria, IL, is also an artist whose works have been displayed throughout the country.

“Ryan and Laura have incredible work ethics, talent and great instincts when it comes to client relations and creative graphic design,” said Joseph Grano, president of Next-Mark. “I am confident they will make valuable additions to our team as we continue to expand services and add to our client roster.”

Staff members recently promoted at Next Mark are Austen Legler, now senior manager of client experience, and Alissa Moore, manager of brand and design.

About Next-Mark

Next-Mark was founded in 2005 to help client organizations reach their full potential through marketing success. Breaking away from the constraints of traditional marketing service organizations, the Next-Mark team facilitates new conversations about their client brands integrating experience, analytics and innovation in developing strategic marketing solutions to meet clients’ individual needs. Next-Mark focuses on internationally and nationally recognized brands along with growing companies across a broad spectrum of categories, including healthcare, hospitality and entertainment, technology, retail, real estate, environmental, marine products and tourism, among others. With clients from Alaska to The Netherlands, its roster includes industry leaders such as LexisNexis, Elsevier, Nuance Communications, Cinebistro, Cobb Luxury Theatres, Yarnall Moving and Storage, Coldwell Banker, California Pizza Kitchen, CitySide Apartments, Bainbridge Financial, Paragon Solutions, Medecision, among many others. For more information, visit their website at www.next-mark.com.

To think about how much social media has changed over the past years is almost mind-boggling. Many of us barely remember what life was like before social media blew up; it has become such an integral part of our everyday lives that we already have reached the point where we take for granted how much we rely on it.

At the end of 2015, we talked about what trends to expect in 2016, and just between then and now, things have changed exponentially. In the midst of this change there has been a slew of emerging social platforms that are striving to make their mark in the digital social space. New social sites and apps seem to be popping up faster than you can say “Snapchat.” So among all of the new entries to the field how do we know which ones will take off to become the next Facebook or Instagram? The truth is we don’t know; only time will tell. However, we can make a few predictions based on the direction the social space is currently headed. The following are our predictions for five of the next generation of social platforms.

  1. Periscope

To say this live video streaming app has taken off would be an understatement. Within six months of its March 2015 launch, it reached more than 10 million users and continues to grow in leaps and bounds daily. Such live video streaming seems to be where social media is headed. In the commercial world, it allows brands to come across as both transparent and authentic, unafraid to share their true identity.

  1. Tuurnt

Following in the footsteps of Snapchat, Tuurnt transforms regular visual posts into social events where participation and contribution from both known contacts and public users is encouraged. Tuurnt offers users the unique ability to reply directly to a video or photo while everyone is watching; it allows users to comment or attach media, which creates a video sequence, called Tuurnt (in essence, an interactive digital chain letter)

  1. Yubl

Based in the United Kingdom, this app promises to be the next-generation networking and messaging platform. Just 10 weeks after its launch, Yubl became the most downloaded app in the UK, surpassing Skype, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Periscope. So what makes Yubl different from all the other social messaging apps out there? One word: customization. It gives users a blank canvas to create something entirely from scratch; you can choose a background color, throw in photos and videos from your camera roll move them around, plaster on stickers and change the fonts. This has not yet launched in the United States, but once it does, it’s going to make an impact!

  1. Slack

Slack is yet another social messaging platform. It is focused on team-centric messaging and group chat outlets and allows for integration with a multitude of other services and programs. With the evolution of social messaging platforms making the shift from single thread messaging groups, to essentially mini social networks, if Slack continues to evolve and shift with the tastes of social consumers, it will surely endure!

  1. Blab

Remember when we said live video streaming is the next era of social interaction? Blab is a video messaging platform on which four people can video chat simultaneously as an audience watches, comments and can even instantly switch places with one of the four video chatters. Users can host their own talk shows and debates or simply hang out with friends.

 

As new social platforms continue to emerge and make an impact, social marketing strategies will also be required to constantly be reinvented to incorporate those relevant to an organizations needs. At Next-Mark we are proud of our unique ability to evolve and reinvent strategies in order to provide our clients with best solutions to take their businesses to the next level.

Have another one to add to the list or a thought on any of these? Leave us a comment!

It does not take a marketing sage to understand the degree to which social media has transformed the way companies approach their branding practices. The hysteria over social media and its potential life altering effect on branding methods has led companies to hire creative agencies and an abundance of technologists to help implant their brands throughout the digital universe. However, few brands have been able to generate meaningful consumer interest online. Why? It has become evident that social media has put brands on a level playing field, and as a result has made brands less significant and stimulated a much greater need to distinguish oneself from the rest of the pack.

 

Think about it, in social media platforms like YouTube or Instagram, corporate brands rarely appear (in fact, only three have cracked the YouTube top 500). Instead, you find entertainers you have never heard of. The fact is big companies excel at organizing and executing complex marketing programs, but fail at cultural innovation, which is what audiences on social media thrive on. Consumers have little interest in branded content to show up on their newsfeeds, they view it as brand spam. So what can companies due to evolve and approach branding in the age of social media.

 

  1. Think beyond common cultural orthodoxies

Consumers want to be presented with ideas that go beyond the traditional ways of thinking. They want something inspiring, different and interesting. This will require organizations to challenge cultural orthodoxies and promote innovative ideologies that break with category conventions.

 

  1. Locate opportunities to push forth new ideologies

As time passes, disruptions in society cause an orthodoxy to lose footing. Consumers then begin searching for alternatives, which opens up an opportunity for innovative brands to push forward a new ideology in their categories that are meaningful to customers.

 

  1. Target the “Crowdculture”

Social media has brought together communities and people that were once geographically isolated, greatly increasing the degree of collaboration. The Harvard Business Review recently coined the term “crowdculture” to define the way social media has altered how culture works and is influenced. Digital influencers now serve as effective and creative pioneers of culture, which has changed the rules of branding. Understanding crowdculture is to understand what branding methods are inspired by social media.

 

  1. Consider taking on an important cause

One way for a brand to sustain its cultural relevance is by playing off a particularly intriguing or contentious issue that dominate the media and turning it into something innovative and thought provoking. Take Chipotle for example, with its efforts to champion food without GMOs. Despite the fact that this claim challenged their credibility, once the company successfully convinces the crowdculture that it’s doubling down on its commitment to get preindustrial food right, the crowd will advocate for its brand once again.

 

  1. Stay True to Your Brand Promise

With all the chaos and desire to appease and appeal to as many customer segments as possible, sometimes it is easy to lose sight of your core brand promise. However, nothing can turn off consumers like a company going through an identity crisis. So go out there innovate, challenge the status quo, push forth into uncharted territories, but remember what makes your brand unique and stay true to your brand promise!

 

At Next-Mark we pride ourselves in having the skills and know how to create that groundbreaking, avant-garde conversation about your brand. We love helping our clients reach new heights through social media and innovative branding techniques.

Social media marketing has never been the clear-cut, black and white model that you learned in Marketing 101. Back in the early days of social media, platforms were finicky, the concept was vague and critics insisted that social marketing was not a viable marketing strategy.

Oh, how times have changed. We’re now immersed in an era with highly functioning platforms, useful advertising options and plenty of free opportunities to make our content public.

New Platforms, Shifting Audiences

Still, the world of social media changes quickly, and with new platforms constantly emerging and audiences continuously shifting, it’s no wonder that companies are scrambling to stay ahead of the game. This past year brought some expected and unexpected changes for social media audiences. Facebook remained strong, leading the pack with its astronomical audience size, along with the ever-growing number of users on Facebook-owned Instagram. Interestingly enough, Facebook began to see a trimming of its audience, losing some younger users while picking up their weight in older audiences.

If history and some recently emerging trends are any indication, 2016 will be a host for a variety of new trends and changes in the social scene. In addition to new platforms and shifting audiences, here are five things The Guardian.com suggests to focus on when planning your social media strategy this year:

  1. Make the Investment

However great your content is, if it doesn’t reach people it can’t possibly impact them. Plan investment based on how many potential consumers you’d realistically need to reach to drive business results, not how many fans you have. And don’t produce any content you won’t have the media budget to support.

  1. Quality, Not Quantity

Producing just one or two great posts a month removes the need to churn out thoughts of the day and reactive nonsense, and allows you to focus resources on producing something genuinely memorable. And don’t underestimate the power of video. Video offers a huge opportunity to tell richer stories or even just to better stand out with gentle animation.

  1. Make it Real

Although social media allows you to broadcast to the masses, it’s also a hugely personal space where a generic message can feel out of place. Managing how people see your content across related platforms such as Facebook and Instagram starts to give you real control of your marketing – allowing you to stop wasting money by reaching someone in too many places (frequency capping) or even to tell a continual story across channels.

  1. Get the Message

Four of the world’s six largest social platforms are messaging apps, and their growth is only accelerating. In western markets, few scalable opportunities exist, but platforms such as WeChat and Line in China and Japan respectively, give a glimpse of what’s to come when these platforms open up. By the end of 2016 the capabilities of messaging apps, and in turn the transformational opportunities they present to marketers, will be remarkable.

  1. Don’t Underestimate the Basics

Don’t try to be innovative just for innovation’s sake. The most impactful advances of the past couple of years come from looking again at the basic tools social media platforms offer. As marketers, of course you’re anxious to be part of the next big thing, but chances are that might be right in front of you. Don’t overlook the tried and true basics.

So as you’re doing your planning, it’s easy to be distracted by the latest shiny innovations, but focusing on quality content and media planning are key for successful social media marketing in 2016.

Last year around this time, I wrote a blog about emerging social media trends that were taking shape in the latter half of 2014. We have all been witness to how quickly the digital marketing landscape can change and evolve, especially social media marketing. New players are continuously entering the market, and brands have to find new and innovative ways to get their messages across.

More than ever, brands have to focus on the latest social media trends and plan their marketing efforts accordingly. Building genuine relationships and keeping customers engaged should be a priority for any business owner using social networking. Now that a year has passed, and we are now in Q4 of 2015, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the latest emerging social trends and what we can expect to see as we move into 2016. According to SocialMediaWeek.org, here are three trends to watch out for:

  1. Retail Meets Social

As Western-based social sites such as Pinterest are making the jump to on-site direct sales, they still seem to be playing catch up to Asian sites. Popular sites in Asia such as Shopline dominate the Chinese e-commerce market, and social media plays a significant role in their sales. Additionally, Chinese apps have already integrated social media with e-commerce, which has made online retail and digital wallet use a large part of the Chinese shopping experience.  We can already see that the US and other Western countries are quickly following suit. Some sites are already equipped with the “buy it” button, but as more apps develop mobile payment services—Snapchat has already done it— the digital wallet will come to be the next big thing in the US. Internet marketing experts claim that social selling will increase by over 50 percent by the end of 2016. Thus, expect continued integration between social networks and online retail in the coming year.

  1. Vlogging will Become Increasingly Popular

Vlogging (video blogging) has already gained quite a large amount of traction in the US and is poised to take this trend to the next level. Vloggers and micro-vloggers own the world of YouTube and other online platforms. Self-broadcasting is a way to feel a close (if fleeting) connection with both acquaintances and strangers despite the distance. At the same time, more and more brands are realizing the benefits of social videos. Snapchat, Vine, Instavid and other platforms have made it easy for companies to display products and services through audio and visual storytelling. Expect this trend to grow in popularity next year.

  1. More Pinterest

Pinterest’s focus on goods separates it from others in the social media pack. Other platforms target job seekers and networkers, connect friends, get news or even listen to music. The audience is predominantly women in their 30s with young families — a group that does the majority of the shopping. They find information on a multitude of products and services for their families on the website. The appeal lies in the fact that the site rolls the “search function” of shopping and the “social function” of sharing into one package.

Research reveals that there are 47 million users on Pinterest and the audience is expected to grow. In fact, Pinterest has become the fastest growing social network, surpassing Instagram. In the last six months of 2014, active users increased by 111%, and members increased by 57%. Even though it is still maturing when it comes to advertising, some experts speculate it may one day drive more sales than Facebook. If your business is image-centric — i.e., food, fashion or home décor — then you should definitely consider having a presence on Pinterest.

Have you thought about how any of these trends will fit into your overall marketing picture? Perhaps you are already using Pinterest to increase sales or are seeing the fruits of a well designed website. As with any discipline, it pays to stay on top of things and grow accordingly!