As a marketer or business owner, you may want ways to utilize Instagram to help build brand awareness and even bring traffic to your website. Converting from a personal account to a business account on Instagram can give you more options to work with. Here are just a few:

1. Insights

Insights are analytics about your Instagram posts, including number of impressions, reach, and what actions followers took when they saw the post. By doing this, you can increase your awareness of how your followers engage with your posts. It will also show you what percentage of the accounts you reached weren’t already following you, along with some basic demographic info.

2. Boosting

Boosting on Instagram is a form of paid advertising, similar to Google Ads or Facebook Ads. When you create a new post, Instagram will prompt you with a “Promote” button. You can also go back to older posts and do the same thing. There are many options for targeting the audience you want to reach and setting daily and campaign budget limits. By the way, a Facebook account is needed to pay for Instagram boosting, as there’s not a place to pay for advertising on Instagram.

3. Ads

Beyond boosting posts, businesses can also advertise using a variety of ad formats, from photos to stories to videos and more. The place to start creating an ad is in Facebook’s Ads Manager. You have many options for having your ads run on Instagram, Facebook, and elsewhere. You can even pick and choose where you want the ads to appear within the various social platforms.

4. Stories

One of the most widely used features on Instagram is stories. They appear at the top of the follower’s Instagram feed, are limited to 15 seconds as videos, and disappear after 24 hours. A business account isn’t needed to utilize stories, but it is required to add the swipe up feature to the mix. Statistics show that about one third of viewed stories are posted by businesses. Stories can be very engaging and provide a quick way for followers and potential customers to learn more about your business.

5. Swipe Up

Instagram’s swipe up feature provides your followers with an easy way to get to your website via a link on your Instagram stories. Many businesses use this to link to a specific product page or promotion. This feature can be accessed on your business account by clicking the link icon. The catch is that you must have 10,000 followers to get this feature!

In order to gain access to these Instagram features, you will need to switch from a personal account to a business account. First, make sure you have a Facebook page set up for your business. Then, go to settings in the mobile Instagram app and go to Account. At the bottom of the screen, click on the link for “Switch to Professional Account,” then follow the process. There is no fee for a professional Instagram account.

By switching to a business account and using these features, you should be able to increase the number of people who follow you on Instagram and give them more ways to interact with your business.

At Next-Mark, we help clients develop powerful videos, taking them from concept to completion and beyond. If you’d like help creating videos that work effectively as strategic content, please give us a call at 941.544.2765 or email us to get in touch. For more information about all of our capabilities, view our Online LookBook.

Essential Elements for making more effective videos

Whether it’s online, corporate, YouTube, a trade show booth or kiosk—whatever the device—your company should be using videos to further its cause. For business, videos can take many forms and serve a wide range of purposes. Live action, motion graphics, interviews, whiteboard animation, voiceover, and music can be used to communicate stories that move your brand forward with video.

Here are 10 tips to help your business develop more effective videos, ones that will function as valuable strategic content.
  1. Be Strategic!

As with anything in business, starting from a strategic standpoint will always pay dividends. Some videos will need to sell a vision, others must explain a product concept or teach essential skills. Still others will leverage capturing live events in a way that can be shared and extended to maximize their value. Always start with a clear idea about what each video is supposed to accomplish.

  1. Tell Your Story with an Impactful Script

It’s all about the story, and writing the script professionally is the all-important stage when the story really starts to take shape. All the elements—words, sounds, motion graphics, animation—must be ordered and presented in a way that effectively communicates what the finished video will be. Next step: storyboarding.

  1. Create a Storyboard that Visually Embodies Your Message

Videos are built one sequence at a time, and the best (and most cost-effective) way to visualize the whole story is through a storyboard. Walt Disney Studios developed the concept in the 1930s to help bring its ground-breaking animation work to life. Storyboarding is just as important for live-action and explainer videos, as it forms an important bridge between the script and the screen.

  1. Let Your Sound Choices Resonate

Sound must be an integral part of every video. Choose music, voiceover, and any other sound sources based on how to best tell the story and stay true to your brand. Also, though we’re about a hundred years into the sound era for film, many viewers still watch video on mobile or desktop without the audio turned on. Consider adding closed captions during the editing stage. Plan ahead, though. Captions should be handled during the scripting phase as well.

  1. Minimize Text to Maximize Impact 

Viewers of news programs have become used to a deliberate overload of text elements on screen. In most cases, this is the exact opposite of the approach to take when producing a video for business. Viewers process images and infographics much more quickly than they do text, so keep text to a minimum and make sure that every bit of text earns its keep by delivering or at least reinforcing your key messages.

  1. Leverage Infographics for Dynamic Content

If any part of your video needs to convey data, use infographics, never simple numbers. From a two-colored pie chart to stylized people and objects that move and change, your video will communicate with more clarity and power with infographics. By the way, as a client, you won’t need to supply the infographics; your agency will create them for you.

  1. Let Video Empower Your Brand

Of course, every aspect of the video should follow brand standards regarding use of logos, fonts, and other design elements. Not so obvious, but just as important to consider: the new video will become part of your brand. Make sure that it has the correct tone and production values it needs to fit in.

  1. Time is Everything

That’s not a typo. Timing is important, too, but the point here is to keep it short—but not always. YouTube considers four minutes as the limit for a “short” video. Shorter videos are more likely to be shared, too. But never rush a story. If the script runs longer because you’re covering lots of territory or the topic is complex, then the length of the video will have to stretch as well.

  1. Parse it Out

You can increase the value and ROI of every one of your videos by planning them to be parsed later on. Modular videos can be repurposed for kiosks, trade show exhibits, and social media. For training videos, for example, consider breaking a longer video into several smaller ones, each with a step or two in the process. Take advantage of the video platforms’ playlists to organize the videos for viewers.

  1. Power Up Your CTA (Call to Action) 

In most cases, you will want your video to inspire viewers to take action. This can take the form of a call, a visit to a website, or sharing the video on social media. There are even ways to add interactivity such as polls or quizzes to your videos. Especially for longer videos, include a call to action well before the end. It’s related to the old sales warning to “never talk past the close.” If the viewer has already grasped the value of your video’s message, they should have the option to take the next step already.

At Next-Mark, we help clients develop powerful videos, taking them from concept to completion and beyond. If you’d like help creating videos that work effectively as strategic content, please give us a call at 941.544.2765 or email us to get in touch. For more information about all of our capabilities, view our Online LookBook.

In horse racing, there are three so-called straight bets. Win means you just absolutely know that a particular horse will come in first. Good for you. Omniscience is a handy skill. Place will give you the win if your horse comes in first or second. It’s a safer bet, but with a lower potential payout. With show, you’ll be in the money even if your horse makes it onto the podium with third place. Even lower winnings, but still much more visible and memorable than fourth place.

So, what does all this have to do with Google Ads? Let’s get this back on track [pun intended]. Long story short, you don’t have to bet to win every time in order to do well at the Google Ads track. It’s not as if people only click on the very top ad. Though it’s somehow always exciting to come in first, it can get expensive pretty fast.

Just as betting on the jockey is sometimes the best strategy, doing your homework on keyword bids can pay off for your campaigns. There is often quite a gap in the winning bids it takes to get first and second place in ads returned by searches, and an even bigger gap (much lower bid) between second and third. Keep an eye on the average ranks in your campaigns and see how your lower-ranking bids are converting. After all, conversions are what you’re really after, not first-place rankings. By bidding a bit less aggressively but still being in the mix of the first several results, you might be happy with how this part of your marketing budget can bring in more cost-effective wins.

Remember, there’s always at least one winner in this Google Ads challenge. Whenever someone clicks on your ad, whether or not they end up converting via your site—Google always gets its payout for your winning bid!

Demand generation offers a powerful model for coordinating marketing and sales efforts to attract and win more business. In a way, it’s the digital transformation that reunites marketing and sales into the continuum of teamwork it should be. Marketing and sales should work in parallel, not sequentially, and as a coordinated team. For example, sales should not assume that a prospect who is talking with them has already been exposed to all the key messages being delivered via the company’s various marketing channels.

With demand generation, all roads lead to attracting and creating a better-informed customer. One who has already gained value from your content (blogs, webinars, white papers, etc.) to the extent that they are primed for worthwhile conversations with sales. And after that, demand generation suggests that the sales rep will know how to draw on additional marketing resources to deepen both the relationship with the customer and their understanding of your entire portfolio of value to them.

One of the goals of demand generation is to avoid the blind-man-and-the-elephant syndrome. In marketing, that’s when potential buyers—or even existing customers—are hyperfocused on a small subset of your offerings, unaware of other products or services they could also get from you. This is why it’s so important to ensure exposure to a variety of content during a series of contacts with your brand. Done right, demand generation will actually increase the demand for what you sell, because you will be attracting, educating, and engaging customers much more effectively than ever before.

Five things you should be doing to drive Demand Generation:

  1. Give marketing teams access to sales funnels and CRM activity
  2. For key accounts and targets, bring marketing and sales together to strategize
  3. Let sales people view and help shape marketing campaigns early in the process
  4. Expose customers to your full range of offerings through all channels
  5. Use customer surveys to show customers your full range of offerings

 

 

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.