No matter what your business, the basics of quality client relations are the same. Admittedly, these are not necessarily novel ideas. But unfortunately, they’re not always applied. 

The following are the actions and attributes we believe are important for healthy, effective client relationships – and the way we commit to doing business each and every day.

  1. Strong Communications

When working with our clients, we find it’s best to be fully informed; that is, as much as you want to be. Some clients need regular updates to be comfortable with communications plans; others prefer to just see results. As we consider ourselves part of your team, it’s important to meld into your workflow to make the process seamless and smoother.

  1. Strategic Understanding

We hate to waste time. That’s why we frontload our process, learning as much as we can about a client up front to create a strategic messaging strategy to fuel ongoing, dynamic communication. Our clients find this invaluable, especially when they see that they have grown beyond what they once were – but often are still communicating.

  1. Honesty/Candor

As “hired hands,” we ultimately will do what you want. As a trusted, collaborative partner, however, we will never waiver in first giving you our advice on the best and most cost-effective ways to reach your marketing and communication goals.

  1. Trust/Integrity

In an era of “fake” almost everything, trust can be difficult to earn. For almost 15 years now, we’ve managed to achieve it, however, matching our goals with client needs, meeting deadlines, delivering consistently high-quality work and instilling confidence.

  1. Collaboration

We believe collaboration with our clients is essential to success; both our success and the success of our clients. Your input and guidance fuels our success and provides synergies throughout every engagement.

  1. Transparency

We always encourage our clients to be perfectly honest with us, as it’s difficult to address issues we are unaware of, and false claims could be made that make matters worse. Such trusted full disclosure can be painful, but it can save a great deal of time, resources, embarrassment and even more serious consequences.

  1. Mutual Openness

Wait! Isn’t this the same thing as “transparency” above? Not quite. Though often used interchangeably, there is a subtle but important difference. Transparency is a clear view of the present in order to adapt to a reality or improve it. Openness is about human interaction and receptivity to things different from the traditional or one’s own. In our business, that means never saying, “we’ve always done it this way.” New ideas and ways to do things come along every day! Some are even worth becoming the new norm. That’s why we urge clients to join us in keeping minds open to the new and different.

  1. Fairness

Fairness in this context means treating people with a standard of performance that is consistent, and giving clients fair value for their hard earned money. Fairness is concerned with actions, processes and consequences that are morally right, honorable and equitable.

  1. Loyalty/Respect/Courtesy

These are big words here. They’re also a vanishing art in some places. Loyalty, respect and courtesy are vital to creating relationships that are healthy and an atmosphere that inspires creative thought.

  1. Managing expectations

In past times, some clients expected a banner headline for the simplest action. Today, it’s a million hits for a pithy quote. Neither was, nor is, likely to happen. When expectations are not effectively managed, it can result in disruption to a strategic plan. That’s why we always will share what you can reasonably expect at each stage, building on it to create a cohesive communications whole that can be every bit as good as that highly coveted “splash.”

If all the above seems obvious – good! It means you put these principles in place at your shop, as well. It also means that you are exactly the kind of client that fuels our enthusiasm for what we do. Thank you to our existing clients who inspire us every day and a hardy welcome to those who wish to join our fold.

We welcome the opportunity to learn more about your marketing challenges and share our capabilities. Give us call any time at 941.544.2765.

It’s no secret that the success of most companies is influenced heavily by its connection, communication and trust with its community. Whether a group is connected through physical location or through digital mediums, successful community relations can enact change, boost employee accountability and engagement, lead to positive publicity and even increase revenue. Here are a few tips for developing a successful relationship with your organization’s target audience:

Be genuine

Can you imagine Philip Morris sponsoring a walk to end lung cancer? Of course not. While most cases aren’t as clear as this example, you do need to find charities or organizations that align with your company’s core values. In an ideal world, your employees should be involved in any outreach efforts, so make sure they are able to genuinely recognize and speak naturally about the connection between the business and the cause.

Be consistent

Effective connections with your community are not developed in a day; this takes time. Thus, gain trust through continued effort year after year. In doing so, you’ll also establish a culture of giving within your organization, which can lead to increase employee engagement and retention.

Be transparent

Any decision or issue that impacts the community should be openly communicated. This may take the form of town halls seeking feedback on a decision, events where local members can mingle with company representatives, social media outreach, or any other ways your company can reach out to target audiences. Change is inevitable and crises happen, but you’re sure to garner a more understanding response if you’ve built good will with the community through effective, transparent dialogue.

Community relations is more than simply sponsoring a race or volunteering a leader for a board member position. It’s a sustained and strategic effort that will elevate the company and enact good within the communities it serves. Wondering where to start? Give us a call.

 

Our team at Next-Mark is excited to announce that we were recently presented with an FPRA Image Award for an integrated marketing campaign executed for international theatre company, CMX Cinemas. FPRA (Florida Public Relations Association) annually recognizes select communications professionals and companies for their outstanding public relations tools and programs through their Image Award program. All qualified entries must demonstrate excellence in marketing and/or communications and incorporate sound research, planning and evaluation.

Campaign Assets

Our winning campaign – titled “Make Movie Night EPIC” – was created for the launch of CMX Cinema’s new luxury theatre in Tallahassee, FL. During this engagement, we implemented an extensive marketing communications built around theme of “EPIC” that was blended into every aspect of the campaign. We also executed a comprehensive public relations and digital plan which led to coverage in multiple high-profile publications and generated significant exposure for the new theatre.

Joseph Grano, President of Next-Mark at award ceremony

In addition, our team was in charge of the creation of all of the print and digital marketing materials for the theatre company’s paid media campaign, which furthered interest as well as generated significant website traffic. Lastly, our team at Next-Mark had the privilege of implementing a high-profile grand opening celebration that was attended by more than 350 people from Tallahassee and the surrounding areas. Guests strolled down a red carpet into the theatre lobby, which was adorned in eye-catching decorations and floral displays from local vendors. Every aspect of the event highlighted differentiating features of the theatre, from a lavish spread of food made in the theatre’s gourmet kitchen to the exceptional service

Our team is thrilled to be recognized for this “epic” campaign. The CMX team was a fantastic partner, enabling us to create an innovative, strategic plan that exceeded their expectations and produced exciting results.

Prior to the Tallahassee opening, we also had the privilege of assisting with the company’s theatre openings in Daytona and Saint Petersburg Florida. All culminated in successful media campaigns and communication initiatives for the luxury theatre company.

Let’s be honest – even the mostly highly trained communications professionals still get nervous before an interview or a media relations appearance. Positive, “earned” media is as good as gold in the marketing communications world, but a fumble, an off-color joke or an out-of-context statement can quickly shift the conversation to uncharted territory. So what happens when you’re contacted by a reporter armed with hard-hitting questions? Here’s how you can make the most of the media interview/public relations opportunity you’re given.

Don’t go off the cuff

If you get an unexpected call from a journalist, don’t feel pressured to answer their questions right away. Politely ask the topic of the story and the timeline, then schedule the interview for a later date. Even if you know the topic well, you need time to research the news outlet and prepare. The reporter should respect your request. And if they don’t, simply say that you don’t have time to discuss the topic at this time but would be happy to follow up with an email response when you’re able.

Stick to message

Before you head into your interview, make a list of several points you want to get across in the interview. These should be simple, direct and relevant to the topic the journalist is covering. Be aware of trying to sneak in comments that are irrelevant or seem too “promotional”. If it’s an interview for a print news outlet, the journalist simply won’t include the comments; if it’s a TV or radio interview you might appear self-serving or desperate.

The messaging should also be free of jargon. Practice elaborating on your notable points without using industry lingo. This way, journalists are more likely to quote you rather than interpret your comments themselves.

Finally, remember that reporters love human-interest stories readers can easily relate to or connect with. So whether you’re addressing a crisis situation or simply sharing the history of your company – always focus on people!

Prepare several “no response” answers

There may be certain questions you simply can’t answer. Depending on the situation, consult with your legal and policy experts, as well as your marketing communications team, about what you’re allowed to address and what you need to avoid. Don’t allow reporters to pressure you into giving up information, even if they say they won’t attribute it to you. Additionally, never say “no comment”! Unfortunately, those two seemingly harmless words often imply guilt and can lead the journalist to make assumptions or fill in the blanks. Instead, have a few other canned responses prepared.

Respect the reporter

Finally, the journalist contacting you is probably on a tight deadline. Respect his or her time by responding in a timely manner and sticking to the topic at hand. If it’s applicable and relevant, suggest that the journalist utilize other sources from your organization to round out the story, and don’t be afraid to give them background information on your company’s internal processes (just know that it’s probably all on the record!).  And don’t forget to finish the interview with a warm “thank you!”

Media relations is an important part of growing your brand’s presence. And it’s one part of our many services here at Next-Mark! If you have a story to tell, let us know – we can help find the right news outlet, set up media interviews and hone your talking points.

 

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.

In 2018’s Fortune 500 list of CEOs, only 24 were women – a noticeable decrease from the year prior. With women representing only a small percentage of corporate leaders, their presence is scrutinized both by people hoping to emulate their path to success and by naysayers who wish to disregard their presence. In honor of International Women’s Day, let’s explore the leadership styles of a few of the top female business leaders to learn what makes them successful communicators.

Arianna Huffington

Former president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, Arianna Huffington is now the CEO of Thrive Global. The company runs a digital platform dedicated to helping people avoid emotional, physical and mental burnout. Huffington’s style of corporate communication is authentic, direct and candid. This approach directly aligns with her company’s values, so whether she’s speaking to a crowd or sharing her life on her many social media channels her message is always consistent and memorable.

Indra Nooyi

Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi helped grow the company’s revenue from $35 billion in 2006 to $63.5 billion in 2017. Nooyi is known for her visionary leadership style, which includes navigating PepsiCo through a changing market and an impending financial crisis. For Nooyi, communication is key. She outlines exactly what performance is needed to boost the company’s portfolio at every stage of the process, then honestly and directly addresses any concerns. Her passion, conviction and clear communication continues to be successful, leading to a total shareholder return of 162 percent.

Sheryl Sandberg

Arguably one of the most well-known female leaders of our time, Sheryl Sandberg is a master communicator. “The ability to listen is as important as the ability to speak,” she famously said. When Sandberg began her position at Facebook, she met hundreds of employees and encouraged them to share their insights and thoughts about the company. Sandberg is no stranger to the spotlight, from best-selling book “Lean In” to a TED talk that has received millions of views. No matter the topic or platform, her speaking style is simple and filled with personal stories to help her connect with her audience. She is seen as an approachable, respected and strong leader.

A clear corporate communication strategy is key successful leadership. Whether you run a small business based here in Sarasota or you’re in charge of an international organization, great leaders can help motivate teams, shape company messaging and inspire change. Align your leadership strategy with a powerful marketing plangive us a call to get started.

 

 

 

 

As we embark on our 15th year in business, it’s hard to believe the incredible journey we’ve been on – and how far it has taken us. I am incredibly grateful to our team members, our clients and the many others who supported Next-Mark as it has grown and evolved in this ever-evolving marketing environment.

It’s been an extraordinary experience, which literally has taken us around the world, from hosting clients from Sweden, to holding conference calls with clients in Dubai, to creating communications plans for Sarasota neighbors just a few miles down the road. From developing marketing strategies for international corporations to local sole proprietors, we have helped numerous companies create conversations about their brands and tell their stories. Their stories have become our own, and we are proud of the ongoing relationships we have with our clients and within our community.

While we’re excited to see what’s next, we know some things will remain steadfast, especially our core beliefs and values, which guide us to:

  • Provide extraordinary service
  • Collaborate with our clients
  • Focus on truly understanding our clients’ needs and business objectives
  • Be strategic in every aspect of our business
  • Engage fully and be evolve as the marketing landscape changes
  • Embrace the latest communications tools and technologies to fuel powerful marketing plans
  • Translate our passion for what we do into impactful marketing outreach

Although we definitely are proud of what we’ve accomplished, we know we didn’t do it alone. Again, we are sincerely thankful for all who helped us get to where we are and excited to continue those relationships while building new ones.

We’re looking forward to what awaits us in the years ahead. If you would like to engage with us, let us know. We are ready and eager to help.

Many viewers of Super Bowl 53 had the same overall impression – meh. The game was low-scoring, the ads weren’t altogether revolutionary, and the halftime performance led to quite a few not-so-kind memes online. And, as happens every year in the advertising world, many wondered whether the $5 million per 30 second commercial price tag was really worth the air time. Some traditional heavy hitters (we’re looking at you Doritos) took the plunge, while others opted for a more digitally focused campaign that utilized social media to reach audiences. Here are a few commercials that stood out in our minds, for better or for worse.

Most Timely:

Coke’s theme of unity and celebrating our differences was classic and appropriate for today’s volatile social environment. Opting for illustrations distinct from its typical commercials, Coke stood out from the crowd by echoing the company’s core values. However, while it was a winner all around, other ads generated more buzz online.

Trendiest:

Had you aired the Zoë Kravitz ASMR for Michelob ULTRA commercial just a few years ago, viewers would have been left hopelessly confused. ASMR is a popular style of content on YouTube but, like most trends online, probably won’t be around for too long. Thus, this quirky ad probably won’t have the staying power of other commercials.

Most Forgettable:

Yawn. The Pringles’ commercial utilizing an Alexa-type device fell flat. The concept of mixing flavors is old news for the company and was a neutral, yet too safe a bet for the brand. The ad was easily overshadowed by other brands that opted for bolder choices.

Funniest:

Olay’s #KillerSkin ad featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar was a winner. Memorable, amusing and timely, this commercial has people in the industry talking. We love that the “story” can easily be translated to the online space and even extended to feature other situations as needed. It was also one of the few that included an easy-to-remember hashtag for quick sharing.

Most Star-Studded:

Pepsi went for star power with Steve Carell, Cardi B and Lil Jon in its “More than OK” ad. We shudder to think about the cost of the ad and, from our perspective, we’re not sure the price tag was worth the output. The commercial seemed a little too crowded and is the brand association with the word “OK” really beneficial? Another direction may have been a little more effective. Try again next year Pepsi.

Best Overall:

Bud Light once again didn’t fail to disappoint with its “Special Delivery” ad that soundly dissed its competitors’ use of high fructose corn syrup. It was humorous, well-branded and lit up the Twitter-verse. While the companies Bud Light called out attempted to respond online, their voices were drowned out by the loud praise for the commercial.

What did you think about this year’s lineup?

As we dive into 2019, one thing is for certain: Social media is here to stay. While channels will continue to evolve and change, digital mediums are now infused into our social fabric. Although the negative aspects of sharing online will forever be debated, individuals rely on social media for news, engagement, suggestions, insights, connection and just plain fun.

Roughly two-thirds of all adults use Facebook, and an even greater number are streaming video content on YouTube. Newer channels like Instagram, Snapchat and others are also growing in popularity. Many companies have embraced this societal frontier and utilize it to successfully reach target audiences. Brands are now more than simply a logo on a billboard; they can develop unique personalities and followings online to sell products, share messages and impact the world.

Is your organization still new to social media? Here are some best practices to follow:

Be authentic:

Paid promotions and reviews are permeating social media, causing many audiences to mistrust companies online. Make sure interactions are sincere and any purchased product placements are disclosed. Your organization’s core values need to be reflected online.

Find your unique brand voice:

Quirky, cool, or educational – whatever voice you choose for your online brand, make sure it’s consistent. Audiences should be able to identify your content as distinct to your organization. Be sure to refine your messaging to reflect this consistency.

Take an innovative approach:

Distinguish your company from its competition by taking a fresh approach to its online presence. Just because something worked for a similar organization, doesn’t mean that it will (or should) work for your brand.

Be consistent with aesthetics:

As simple as it may seem, one of the factors that distinguishes a successful company from one that gets less engagement is look-and-feel. Choose colors, types of content and imagery in advance to make sure it’s a cohesive, branded visual. The goal is to have audiences view your content on different channels and know it came from your company.

Find the right medium:

Not every social media channel will be the right fit for every organization. Find suitable mediums based on the content you’ll be sharing, your target demographic and the amount of time required for successful implementation on each platform.

The bottom line:

Companies who are resistant to a digital presence are losing out on valuable customer interaction. Employ a strategic, comprehensive approach to best utilize social media platforms and you’ll see your company’s presence surge!

Is social media the next step for your company? Give us a call – we would love to share our insights at 941.544.2765. For more information on our capabilities, view our Online LookBook.

While digital strategy is a crucial part of most comprehensive communications campaigns, it’s important for marketing professionals to recognize that “traditional” mediums certainly can still be effective. Before we dive into why we think you shouldn’t ignore traditional media, let’s review the distinction between the two:

Traditional Communication Channels – Think magazines, newspapers, phone calls, brochures & other print collateral, guerrilla marketing, billboards, as well as good ol’ fashioned broadcast media.

Digital Communication Channels – This category encompasses any online activity including social media & other apps, websites, display advertising, e-newsletters, affiliate marketing and many more! Online communication continues to evolve and expand as more digital mediums are created.

Now, let’s explore the top two reasons why traditional mediums can help you share your message and reach your audiences.

1. Add a personal touch

As more and more advertisers are paying for online placement, opinions and reviews, audiences have become masters at recognizing when content isn’t authentic. Companies that personally connect with their customers are getting noticed. For example, when the new president at the University of Florida was hired, he went above and beyond to show students that the university cares about their well being. He’s been known to buy students Starbucks drinks during finals week and photo bomb graduation photos. These interactions were often shared online, but the interaction with students displayed a sense of authenticity often lost to many organizations. In the New Year, try to reach out to your audiences through a traditional channel – write a letter wishing your clients the best in 2019 or pick up the phone and give them a quick call to say you’re grateful for their business.

2. Go with a trusted source

While channels like Instagram and YouTube certainly boast impressive reach, traditional media is still viewed as an essential source for fact-based information. A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that 47% of Americans still prefer watching the news rather than listening or reading it. Considering how many online articles rely on shock value headlines to garner clicks with little if any valuable content, it’s no wonder that many people still turn on their television! Thus, targeted TV interviews, advertisements and other broadcast media outreach can still be strategic, as least for the time being.

As always, keep in mind that every tactic should fit into a larger communications plan! A combination of both traditional and “new” media is generally the best route. If you need help figuring out the best way to reach your audiences, give us a call.