Three Predicted Marketing Trends for 2022

by Kristen Lundy

The best marketers always look to the future. Since consumers’ preferences constantly evolve, marketing professionals have to anticipate what’s next. Each year brings its own set of challenges that marketing plans must adapt to. It’s no secret that these past couple of years have changed the dynamics of the industry. Understanding future marketing trends and how they shape strategies is crucial for a company’s success. Next-Mark team members believe in staying ahead of the curve to remain competitive. We always ask ourselves “what’s next?”—which is why we put together some marketing practices that we believe will trend in 2022.

Hybrid events

Despite obstacles presented with the pandemic, live events are back and better than ever. However, some individuals aren’t ready to get back into crowds, whether that be due to health concerns or travel restrictions. The solution to those who want to experience an event without having to actually attend one in person is hybrid events. A hybrid event combines both an in-person experience with virtual elements. Additionally, hybrid events allow people to attend from anywhere, which ensures the audience can participate in activities while working within their comfort zone.

With these notions in mind, we believe there will be a growth of hybrid events, as they offer many benefits for an organization. According to Brella, some of the benefits of organizing a hybrid event include increased reach and attendance, higher audience engagement, more sponsor opportunities, and reduced costs. In addition, a hybrid event allows for the capture of more content throughout the event, which will aid in content creation and implementation for months post-event.

Adapting content for shorter attention spans

Due to the contemporary digital era, content marketers find it harder and harder to have the full attention of consumers. Individuals are surrounded by screens almost every minute of the day. In fact, the average American spends about 7 hours and 11 minutes looking at a screen every day, according to data from DataReportal. With social media and digital news, there is hardly a time throughout the day that we aren’t enticed to look at a screen. HubSpot states that the attention span of the average individual has fallen to just 8 seconds. Additionally, more than 59% of people share Twitter articles without reading them in full, and more than half of page views last less than a minute.

What does all of this mean for marketers? It’s simple. We have to adapt our content to this reality when developing content marketing strategies. A few ways you can achieve this is by creating quality and visual content, investing in thought leadership and meeting readers’ attention spans half way by using headers or summarizing long pieces of content. By using even a few of these elements you will be able to grab the attention of your consumers, get your point across and make an impression to your targeted audience.

Personalization becoming more prominent

Through a variety of mediums, we are flooded with all sorts of information. Whether it be through social media, billboards, TV commercials or emails, brands compete for our attention. Due to this (sometimes) overwhelming circumstance, individuals tend to tune a lot of it out. This means that creating impersonal content when trying to reach your target audience most likely won’t end with consumer engagement. Using personalized content allows your audience to feel a deeper connection to your brand.

According to PieSync, marketing personalization means interacting with your audience and customers in a way that feels personal and human, taking into consideration their interests and preferences. The average customer wants to have a personalized experience. In fact, research conducted by Salesforce found that 58% of respondents view personalization as very important when engaging with a company. Creating a personalization strategy can include personalized ads, custom email campaigns and tailored content. By utilizing personalization in a marketing strategy, companies have proven to increase conversions and customer retention.

With 2021 coming to a close and 2022 right around the corner, it’s important that we, as marketers, anticipate fundamental changes in the way we do our job. Over the next year, we are ready to learn and adapt to this ever changing industry. Our evolving techniques help take our clients’ success to the next level. At Next-Mark, we will never stop perfecting our practice and looking to the future. If you’re looking for an agency that will take your marketing plan to the next level, engage with us today. We’re ready for what’s next. Are you?

In Conversation Series with Joseph Grano

Over the next few months, we will focus on insights from our team members. We kick off this series with Next-Mark President and Founder Joseph Grano. Joe dishes on what makes him tick, offers some advice for success in business and discusses the importance of trusting your gut.

What are some lessons learned after 16 years in business?

The single biggest lesson I’ve learned is to stick to your core competencies, the things you do well. Sometimes, especially when yours is a new business, you’re tempted to take on projects you’re not ready for or that fall outside your current level of expertise. I think that’s how a lot of businesses get lost in the weeds – trying to be all things to all people. It doesn’t work that way. You have to be ready when you say “yes” to something. 

Once you understand your core competencies, another big lesson is to seek out clients that align with them. For me, I have an MBA that helped foster a more strategic approach to marketing. I seek out clients that are willing to be strategic and go on a longer journey with us. While I am confident we’ve done exceptional work for all our clients over the years, the best work we’ve done is with clients that have a longer view for their company and value the arc of a business relationship. A good campaign is about more than picking out colors and having strong creative components; it’s about telling a bigger story and aligning with the strategic direction of the business.

What do you think has helped set Next-Mark apart from other firms?

First, we’re very agile. We don’t have a monolithic organization weighed down by unnecessary systems and protocols that can bog down processes, as is the case in some corporate cultures. This enables us to have a short turnaround time for our deliverables, with the time spent actually doing the work. Something else that sets us apart as that we stay engaged with our clients at all levels and through all stages of the relationship. I’m personally in the trenches every single day with our clients, and I expect the same of our team. When clients see that the owner is involved in the day-to-day operation of a service partner, it sets the tone for accountability.

You mentioned accountability and agility. Are these things you look for when building a team, as well?

The single most important trait I look for is kindness. I don’t care how much talent someone has if they aren’t a genuinely kind person. But accountability and agility are definitely two requisite components of the collaborative approach we take here. We want employees who know how to function as part of a team and work collaboratively with each other and with clients. At Next-Mark, we check our egos at the door and truly listen to client feedback and direction. It’s also important that people love what they do and eager to see what each working day brings. That all lends to flexibility of thought that, in my experience, elevates our work to a sum greater than its parts. It’s about finding the right balance of humor, hustle and heart.

What concerns you most in business today?

In today’s digital age, people are allowed the emotional distance to feel comfortable in detaching themselves from others, which in turns makes it acceptable to ghost them. Although we hear about ghosting a lot in social media, I’ve seen it in business, as well. One day, you’re engaged with a client or prospect and the next day they’ve stopped answering calls or emails with no explanation. Business is still very much about relationships, and burning bridges is never a great way to operate. I completely believe there is a beginning, middle and end in all business relationships and true professionals understand where they are in that lifecycle. It’s always hard when relationships end, but it is critical to be transparent, honest and accountable.

As the industry and world continue to trend digitally, what comes next in Marketing?

The digital ecosystem of marketing has forced agencies to keep their eyes just over the horizon. We need to always be looking six months to a year or more out to make sure we’re prepared for change. I think the internet age has taught us that things can change remarkably fast with no warning, and it can feel sometimes like what you do today is obsolete tomorrow. So, one of the things we’ve tried to do is diversify. As a company, strategic marketing communications and public relations has been a powerful and productive niche, but now we have added another dimension to our business becoming a Certified Salesforce Partner creating new and innovative opportunities to better serve our clients.

What do you love about the work?

Honestly, my Instagram profile says it best: “I am a steward of creativity and a purveyor of ideas.” I love the creative process, especially when it’s part of a business strategy. I’m energized when we’re all in the room together brainstorming ideas for campaigns. I am a pathologically positive person; I can always find a silver lining. This industry is as much an emotional fit for me as it is a practical one—I genuinely love what I do and am excited about coming into work every day.

The Value of Event Marketing

Today’s marketing ecosystem is focused on any number of metrics, analytics and other quantifiable measures of outreach and leads. A marketing professional’s workflow might include charts, graphs and reports with cold numbers—and rightfully so, since these facets of a marketing plan give a marketing professional the data needed to design effective e-blasts, press releases, landing pages, social media posts and other measurable impressions. But as much as these numbers have helped take campaigns to the next level in the digital age, the value of in-person engagement cannot be overlooked.

A 2018 market study by Bizzabo, an event marketing platform, found that 91 percent of overperforming businesses place a greater emphasis on live events than their average and underperforming competitors. In addition, the same study found that 87 percent of C-Suite executives believe live events play an essential role in their company’s success. That’s why live events are one of the most impactful tools we use at Next-Mark to create strong B2B and B2C connections.

Event marketing, also known as experiential marketing, is a type of marketing that includes trade shows, product launches/demos, seminars or grand openings, to name a few. And as we all learned first-hand over the last year and a half, web-based events can also serve as a serviceable placeholder. All of these forms of engagement leverage the power of human interaction to create a more impactful impression on prospective customers and clients, helping to foster a more robust, holistic brand awareness. In short, an event helps our clients show their brand rather than just tell.

At Next-Mark, we pride ourselves on the work we have done, helping clients produce a variety of event marketing initiatives in our home city of Sarasota, Florida and across the nation. Most recently, our Sol of the Circle event series played an integral role in further promoting St. Armands Circle and boosting the destination’s marketing initiatives. As a vibrant cultural center that is part of the illustrious Ringling legacy in the Sarasota region, we felt that a live event series was a perfect opportunity to help develop the brand of the Circle, as a destination for entertainment and recreation across a diverse set of target groups. The series ran through the summer and included monthly live music nights, outdoor yoga activations, unique Family Day events and culminated with Sarasota Arts LIVE, which featured live performances from some of the biggest performance art institutions in Sarasota.

These events aimed to show St. Armands Circle’s target audiences that the Circle is a dynamic venue worth returning to and spending a memorable day among family and friends. The series allowed restaurants, bars and retailers to present a cohesive, unified experience to visitors centered on the sights and sounds of the historic commercial district. The visitors themselves were provided a dynamic, diverse occasion to not only stop at one destination, but also immerse themselves in a culturally meaningful, live experience. A 2016 study by the Event Marketing Institute corroborates the impact of a vibrant live event: 98 percent of event attendees feel more inclined to use a product or service after attending the event, while 84 percent say it gives them a more positive view of the brand, product or service.

Another benefit of event marketing is the ability to attract media coverage from magazines, newspapers, websites and social media influencers. Known as “earned content” in the marketing industry, this kind of coverage signals to your target audience that an objective, third-party entity has found your client’s product, brand or service to be noteworthy. In the case of Sol of the Circle, Next-Mark was able to secure mentions in several publications, including a feature article about the Sarasota Arts LIVE event in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Looking to the future of marketing trends, the Bizzabo study found that 57 percent of overperforming companies plan on increasing their budget for event marketing. It all goes to show that the digital marketing tools available to us are only one piece of the overall puzzle. Ultimately, humans are social creatures and derive more comprehensive impressions from in-person engagement. Nothing beats the power of a positive live experience.

In high school, I had this history teacher that had a story for every lesson he taught. It didn’t matter what time period the historical event happened in, he always had an anecdote for the class. While students with other teachers were failing each exam, his students aced the class with ease. This is because the stories he told committed each historical concept to his students’ memories.

Never underestimate the power of a good story. Since the dawn of humanity, people have told stories as a way to connect and remember details of our past, present and future. Being told a story, rather than just a fact or statistic, allows the individual to step into a world that isn’t their own. It permits them to see life from fresh perspectives.

Storytelling is all around us in our everyday lives. Whether we notice it or not, we tell stories every day to convey the happenings of the world around us. Stories trigger dopamine and oxytocin within the brain, evoking emotion from the individual and helping them remember the message. According to Jerome Bruner, a Cognitive Psychologist, facts wrapped in stories are 22x more memorable.

Now that we know the how unforgettable stories can be, what subject did my high school teacher teach again?

Today, storytelling has evolved into one of the main tactics for most brands’ content marketing strategies. If executed correctly, it allows a company to present its brand in a lively and genuine way. Storytelling lets your targeted audience form an emotional connection with your brand, whether that be by making them laugh, cry, grin, etc.

As easy as telling a story sounds, there has to be a sound method set in place before you launch your storytelling campaign. Lucky for you, our marketing experts at Next-Mark put together a few tips on how to seamlessly incorporate storytelling into your company’s marketing approach.

Be authentic

When conveying a story, you want to avoid it sounding like a sales pitch. By telling your story in a genuine way with creative elements, you not only gain the attention of your targeted audience, but you also gain their trust. Moreover, the story you tell has to be fact based. You want to provide your readers real evidence about your brand, but in an interesting way that provides them a deeper understanding.

Evoke emotion

You want your consumers to feel something from the story you’re telling. They should be inspired by your brand and what you have to offer. An excellent way to tell a compelling story is to make your customer the main character, where your brand is the resolution to their conflict. This notion enhances the customer’s impression of using your goods or services, creating an impact on the long-term reputation of your brand.

Include a call-to-action

A call-to-action (CTA) is the next step you want your audience to take after receiving your story. Your desired CTA is probably the most crucial aspect of storytelling, as it determines how you want the story to end. The CTA should be subtle but also give the consumer direction to the next step of your customer journey.

Tell your story through the right channel

A story can be told through a variety of mediums, such as print, film, social media, etc. By tailoring your narrative to the appropriate medium, you will ensure you’re getting the desired reaction from your targeted audience.

At Next-Mark, we believe in the power of storytelling. We help our clients create dynamic storytelling campaigns, to increase their brand engagement and conversion rate. Let us help your brand captivate its targeted audience through the magic of storytelling. We would love to help! Engage with us here.

Today, there are many techniques for getting visitors to your website. Unfortunately, it takes more than a long-tail keyword to make them stay.

That, of course, is what you want. You want to capture their attention long enough to make your case – and convince them to choose you over your competitors.

And that’s where persuasive content in the form of thought leadership comes in, turning a plea of “trust us” into reasons why they should.

Persuasive content has been proven over and over to be a key step in both meaningful prospect engagement and the creation of long-term relationships, as companies provide valuable information to and about their markets and establish themselves as go-to experts in their fields.

Following are just a few ways you can use the knowledge you already possess, the expertise you already have and the success you’ve already achieved to generate leads and grow your business exponentially.

Case Studies

Case studies are more than testimonials (Tom: “They’re great!” Dick: “The best!” Harry: “No. 1!”), they are detailed explanations of how you helped others with needs much like those of the prospects reading it. They are the who, what, where, when, why and how of the application of your product or service, with the kicker of actual reported results.

This type of persuasive content helps prospects see themselves in a context they understand. They tell a story of interest to the reader and impart credibility that builds trust and confidence that choosing to work with you is a good decision. It is a solid example, not merely a promise. The more case studies you have, it follows, the louder the message that you understand the challenges of your target market and know how to address them.

Do they work? Yep. In fact, a recent Demand Gen Report showed case studies to be the most potent force in traditional persuasive marketing, with 79 percent of business-to-business companies reported leveraging them to research their buying decisions.

White Papers

Coming in as No. 2 on the marketing hit parade in that Demand Gen Report was white papers, with 71 percent of prospects using them to research potential purchases. The icing on this cake is that, if the topic and copy is really compelling, about three-quarters of respondents said they would share personal and company data in exchange for an opportunity to download it.

Basically, a white paper is a research report that highlights a specific issue and shows how it can be solved. It is intended to educate the reader, breaking down a complex issue and presenting the issuing organization’s viewpoint on it, while only tangentially referencing how that organization’s product or service can address that issue. It’s a bit of a high-wire act, as the right balance is needed to create and maintain credibility while making a strong case for a specific solution.

A good white paper is authoritative, informational, well researched, well documented and professionally written and presented. It also is reader-focused and heavy on the benefits of taking the path it lays out. And, yes, it can very persuasive.


Infographics are soundbites solidified. They enable people to easily digest information through the creative use of charts, statistics and visual data. When done well, they grab attention and make key information memorable. Evidence also exists that infographics are more likely to be shared than text-based content.

Infographics take advantage of the fact that about 65 percent of us are visual learners, learning and remembering best through visual communication. They can even be fun to read, way more entertaining than a statistical report. They also can give the reader options, allowing them to click through if they want more data on a certain point, which can guide your communications strategy.

Integrating your knowledge of what’s most important to your market with eye-grabbing design, you can give prospects information they need and quicken their journey to decision making.


Speaking of visual impact, video is said by many to be the most persuasive form of thought leadership and content marketing overall. When both succinct and effective, video can instruct, elicit emotion or elevate understanding within the attention span of the average consumer. Its movement grabs attention and good copy can keep it there, steering viewers to the next step in the decision-making process.

In the business world, according to Forbes research, nearly 60 percent of senior executives say they would rather watch a video than read text. And, while wit and creativity can play a role, the C-suite is, and always will be, focused on solving problems and meeting goals. Thus, a video should give them a quick insight into just that.

We live in a world of innumerable options and sensory overload, and it’s getting more difficult for the ordinary business without benefit of billions to be heard. Persuasive content is, without a doubt, the best and most economical way to amplify the volume, using information you already have to show your value and stand out among the competition.

At Next-Mark, we have collaborated with leading brands throughout the US and internationally in developing substantive content that not only provides a thought leadership platform but moves the needle in measurable business results. Contact us today to get started at 941.544.2765 or at

Messaging Is Core to Your Marketing Success

Just as it’s possible to hear without listening, it’s also possible to talk without communicating.

Though seemingly obvious, this is, unfortunately, a concept that businesses and organizations can sometimes fail to consider in the rush to get a product/service/cause “out there.” The result can be a race that’s over before it starts, as it’s hard to make up the ground lost in a poor beginning.

That’s why we encourage our clients to start engagements with the development of a strategic messaging platform or architecture. This document, created cooperatively, grounds communications and propels meaningful outreach to the right audiences at the right time with the right persuasive language.

As an agreement among all involved as to goals, targets and messaging, the document creates a common voice and magnifies it. It also brings everything to focus on the future.

The truth is that a good many our clients have found their messaging hasn’t grown with them. Instead, as they have evolved, their communications have stood pat, unreflective of the scope of what the business or organization has come to be and now can do for customers, clients or communities.

It’s also a great motivator; as key executives, sales staff and other stakeholders feel the excitement of creating new and inclusive, something that will help them do a better job and their company to succeed.

For clients choosing this path, it’s also a way to save time, money and effort. With core messaging already agreed upon, there’s no need to start over for each project or project segment, stressing over getting the words right. They are already there, along with guiding position and value statements and a brand promise to be fulfilled.

The Marketing Playbook reminds us that messaging can have more of an impact than almost anything else in business. When driven by strategy and consensus, we like to say, it also can be a source of rejuvenation and a springboard for advancement in the marketplace.

So, think of it as that deep breath before you dive off the board, the one that gives you clarity of purpose and confidence that you’re ready to succeed.

If you’re ready to explore the deep waters of meaningful communications, let us know. We would love to be your guides.

10 Tips For Optimizing and Growing Your Social Media Success  

Utilizing social media as a tool for personal branding and driving business growth is no longer optional for marketers and business professionals. With millions of users spending hours each day on social media, there’s an undeniable opportunity, but getting started or improving on existing results can be daunting. To help, we’ve put together 10 tips for optimizing and growing your social media success.

Keep reading for more information about social media trends, relevant platforms and expert advice on how to step up your social media game.

Keep Up with Social Media

Social media has always been part of the marketing conversation. But this past year has proven that it’s here to stay. Social usage has increased dramatically and new users continue to grow. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram became crucial in communication and social interaction since in-person meetings became nonexistent. Having a business presence on social media is essential in B2B and B2C opportunities and is key to spreading awareness and promoting your product or service.

Quick Facts:

  • American social media users spend an average of 2.7 hours per day on social media
  • 54% of B2B marketers say they’ve generated leads from social media
  • Only 26% of companies integrate social media into their strategies

Why Social Media Matters

Besides promoting your business, social media can help you meet several business goals, including:

  • Better connect with and serve your customers
  • Improve your search engine ranking (SEO)
  • Reduce advertising costs and increase your overall ROI  
  • Foster and deepen relationships with target audience members and your community

Identify Your Target Audience

Your target audience is a specific group of people who
are most likely to want or need your product.

Three reasons to define your target audience:

  1. Ensure you’re creating the right content for the right people.
  2. Better understand how to create content that connects the benefits of your brand to what reader needs.
  3. Increase conversions ‘low hanging fruit’ customers

Know Where You Fit – Social Platforms

Not all social media platforms are created equal. Knowing the idiosyncrasies and landscape of each individual platform will help you make the best decision on where to focus your efforts, the kind of content to post and the type of users on each.

  • Average monthly users: 2.7B
  • Largest age group: 25-34 (26.3%)
  • Medium focused almost every form of content, especially news and promotions
  • Robust features and uses, including text, images, video, shopping
  • Supports feed or stories
  • Average monthly users: 1B
  • Largest age group: 25-34 (33.1%)
  • Medium focused on imagery
  • Text, images, video, shopping
  • Supports feed or stories
  • Average monthly users: 400M+
  • Largest age group: 30-49
  • The average user earns $70k
  • Medium focused on saving product photos and inspirational content
  • Feed and Board display with imagery, texts, links
  • Exclusively business/B2B audience
  • Medium focuses on content and thought leadership
  • Images, text, call to actions all on feed display and stories
  • Average monthly users: 187M
  • Largest age group: 30-49 (44%)
  • Medium on instant communication, news and user interactions
  • Text, video, images on a feed, but story features now being added
  • Average monthly users: 100M
  • Largest age group 18-24
  • Short form video and minimal text

10 Tips to Amplify Your Social Media Impact

1. Optimize Your Profile

Can my potential customers find my profile and what do they see when they arrive?

Audit Your Profile – Ask Yourself
  • Is my brand consistent?
  • Does my bio accurately communicate my company’s value?
  • Am I using relevant hashtags in my bio?
  • Is there a call to action?
  • What should I link to? ( vs. company site vs. landing pages)

2. Don’t Oversell

Great salespeople don’t sell; they listen and solve their customer’s problems. Create compelling content, hone your value proposition and connect with your audience meaningfully.

A great value proposition should:

  • Communicate why someone should do business with you
  • Be short and easy to understand
  • Define what you do
  • Explain how your business eliminates a pain point for your potential customers

3. Find Your Voice

Your brand voice is the distinct personality your brand takes on in its communications.

People connect with people – If your brand were a real person, what would they sound like?

Tips for finding your brand voice:

  • Think of 10 adjectives to describe your brand – then pick your top 4
  • Consider your target audience and the vocabulary they use
  • Write like a person talks, not like a business robot

4. Be Consistent

For your audience to recognize and build a relationship with your brand, you must be consistent with your use of social media

Content consistency establishes your credibility, builds trust, and strengthens your reputation.

How to build consistency:

  1. Create a social media content calendar
  2. Maintain a post frequency you can handle
  3. Schedule your posts in advance

Why is consistency so important?

  • Your business will stay top of mind
  • It helps you to build authority in your niche
  • It is easier to maintain
  • Your audience will be more engaged
  • You will generate more leads
  • Social media algorithms favor you
  • You will cultivate loyal brand fans
  • Your audience will trust you

5. Plan Your Content With A Content Calendar

Find a system and content schedule that works for you.

  • Sometimes the biggest hurdle to social media success is knowing what to post
  • Consider the types of content you want to share

Example: share project photos every Monday, promotion every Wednesday, behind the scenes every Saturday, etc.

  • Create the calendar in advance, then carve out time to create/film
  • With the right plan in place, you can batch content a few times per month or one month ahead

6. Engage With Your Community

Without engagement, social media is just media. Social Media Engagement is all about building an online community and it can affect everything from brand awareness to customer loyalty.

Social media engagement metrics include:

  • Likes and Favorites
  • Comments, DMs, and Replies
  • Shares and Retweets
  • Saves and Clicks
  • Reviews, Mentions and Tags

Tips for your business to earn engagement:

  • Respond to all comments
  • Ask your followers questions via captions, stories, or polls
  • Reply to reviews, both positive and negative
  • Participate in industry conversations in Facebook Groups or on Twitter
  • Comment on posts from other accounts you follow or on posts from relevant hashtags

7. Leverage New Features – Stories & LIVE are your friend

Social media platforms often incentivize users to explore new features by giving them additional power to reach more people.

These new features are often underserved by marketers but have high user engagement.

Benefits of Stories and LIVE:
  • Fewer brands use these features, so there’s less competition
  • High audience reach and engagement
  • Social media users who watch a brands story are more likely to see those same brands’ feed posts
  • The algorithm favors individuals and brands who use their new features

8. Use Personalized Landing Pages In Your Social Strategy

Personalized landing pages are web pages on a company’s website about a specific service, product or offer – with a call to action designed to convert a customer to the next stage in the buying process

How can we use them on Social Media?

  • Sales team social profiles can be a significant driver of traffic to a company’s website. Direct that traffic to pages that educate and convert 
  • Landing pages are an excellent place for those engaging with your post to learn more about your company’s products – Share links alongside compelling content
  • Prospects will journey to a company’s website from bio links on sales team member profiles – Swap out bio links to a relevant landing page for decreased bounce and higher sales conversions

9. Use free tools to make better, more engaging content

A great social media post is eye-catching, relevant and visually appealing. For large brands, social media managers, sales teams and designers all work to create this content together. Unfortunately, this often isn’t an option for small to medium-sized businesses or those without the support of a marketing agency.

Free online tools can make your content shine and help create a consistent brand for bootstrapping social teams. Our top free tools:

Canva – This design platform makes designing beautiful social media images and other kinds of assets easy. With free and premium plans, there’s something for everyone (

Photopea – An online knock off of photoshop, this free website is excellent for individuals who need to adjust images quickly and inexpensively (

Unsplash, Pexels, and others – These free imagery libraries have millions of free, copyright-free photos on nearly any subject (

Hashtag Generators – These can allow you to find highly-used, relevant hashtags in your area or industry 

Viralpep – This basic free tool allows users to schedule up to 20 social media posts for a variety of platforms, including Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram and more (

10. Seek buy-in and resources from company leaders

No man or woman is an island. For sales teams to be effective, they need top-down support. Remember, only 26% of companies integrate social media into their strategies, which often leaves those responsible for social management underserved.

For individuals and teams looking to improve their company’s social presence and, as a result, sales, there needs to be a level of investment from company administrators or leaders.

Make a plan, identify needs and seek support:
  • A marketing agency partner
  • What content can leaders or marketing teams create for social media managers each month?
  • Blogs, videos, infographics, interviews, imagery, lead magnets
  • Social media management tools for measuring success and scheduling posts
  • Leaders encouraging all members of an organization to support social messaging

Final Thoughts

Social media is only a small component to an effective and robust marketing strategy. While it’s important to give social media the time and attention it needs to be effective, there’s many other things to consider. Additionally, content and tactics from other marketing arms of your business can be integrated into your social strategy. When you have a cohesive marketing plan and are promoting high-quality content, there’s unlimited potential for growth.

Want to learn more about Next-Mark’s marketing, branding and social media services? Contact us today!

Here we are—a whole year since the pandemic began to pick up speed in the U.S.  Lockdowns and working from home became the new norm while businesses learned how to adapt in a fast-changing world. 

In the blink of an eye, many marketing professionals were forced to revisit their strategies.  Marketing isn’t just about selling a product. It’s about creating an experience and many of these consumer experiences were disrupted. Though things looked bleak a year ago, businesses can still thrive if they apply what’s been learned about the changing world and consumer needs. So, after a year of COVID, what have we learned regarding marketing? What is still relevant and what needs to change? Here are six tips for marketing in the post-pandemic world.

1. Keep up with Social Media

Social media has always been part of the marketing conversation. But this past year has proven that it’s here to stay. Social usage has increased dramatically and new users continue to grow. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram became crucial in communication and social interaction since in-person meetings became nonexistent. Having a business presence on social media is essential in B2B and B2C opportunities and is key to spreading awareness and promoting your product or service.

2. Show Empathy

The approach to messaging has undergone a substantial shift due to flashbulb events and cultural changes in 2020. To remain relevant and show respect regardless of background, financial status or circumstance, show empathy within your messaging and promotions strategy. Use encouraging messages on social, offer your support in local community outreach programs or sponsor events like food banks. Many people are looking for a helping hand which provides an important opportunity for any business to lend a helping hand, and as a by-product, potentially gain community exposure and establish a strong customer-company bond. Establishing programs that give back to the community and getting employees involved has been proven to increase office morale and drive employee advocacy.

3. Invest in SEO

Digital marketing is heavily reliant on an efficient SEO strategy. Major corporations are investing more in search engine optimization, with the average consumer shopping more online. Digital channels are becoming more and more crowded, fueling greater website competition.  Small businesses especially need to invest in SEO to stand out from the noise and traffic of their larger competitors. Creating engaging, concise content is key to encouraging engagement and driving more clicks to your website.

4. Professional PR Practices

When it comes to PR in a post-pandemic world, showing high ethics and professional morals needs to be an intricate part of all communications. Also, be sensitive about your content.  Some have lost their jobs and loved ones. Always be researching the current state of your community and stay relevant.  Virtual meetings will also continue to be an option for years to come. Without a face-to-face set up, keeping the media’s attention can be difficult.  Instead, bring your story to light through social media, e-commerce platforms, your website, add the press release as a blog or share your own content on as many platforms as possible.

5. Innovative Content

To survive change on a worldwide scale, you need to be an innovator. Innovation arises from need and needs have certainly changed within the past year. Consumer expectations were already on the rise before Covid-19 and now they expect experiences to be even more personalized. This is where creative and innovative content is key. Create a fast and convenient user experience. What kind of visual journey will keep users engaged and want to learn more?

6. Create Experiences

Marketers need to be storytellers. What journey will the consumer embark on leading to closing a sale or onboarding a new client? The customer journey has been disrupted in many industries this past year, requiring new and creative ways to engage customers primarily online. Run exclusive deals and offers that get people interested by issuing exclusive coupon codes. Use Facebook and Google ads to broaden your reach across the country with strong and eye-catching creative showcasing your product or service. Reach out to existing customers and run referral offers where people receive discounts for each person they refer to you. The creative ideas businesses can think of to interact with their customers and create memorable experiences are endless.

For those up to the challenge, the coming years will be bright. Most people run from change, but change is truly inevitable, especially in the marketing world.  Those with the willingness to learn, grow and adapt will come out on top and prove to be more resilient than they ever thought possible.  The post-pandemic world will be what we choose to make it, so let’s make it great.

Three Reasons Why Your Marketing & PR Needs an Integrated Approach

PR has quickly become an essential component to any business’s marketing strategy – Here’s why an integrated and proactive plan delivers better results

The craft of public relations or PR has always been considered an ambiguous term by those outside the industry. A quick Google Trends search confirms this, as many of the top trending searches around PR include phrases like “what is,” “definition” and other similar terms. Those unfamiliar with the inner-workings of PR might hear the word and imagine celebrity crisis management campaigns or wordy press releases.

Individuals more familiar with the inner-workings of PR, like business leaders and seasoned marketers, know the value of strong communications strategies but may not be aware of the recent shift top agencies have made towards a new model. This new model called integrated PR or integrated communications is more efficient and leads to greater long-term success.

But first, what is PR?

The Public Relations Society of America qualifies the term as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

PR professionals are communicators and storytellers. They work with brands or companies to portray them in a positive light through various communications tactics, which help build trust with their audience and communities. This exercise accelerates brand awareness and, if done effectively, can help form positive, meaningful ties, which drive engagement and business success.

Isn’t that the same end goal as a marketing campaign?

PR practitioners and marketers share common ground – spreading awareness, engaging consumers, and driving performance; however, historically, these two entities have worked separately, relying on different tactics. This holds true for most agencies, as well as across companies of all sizes. Unfortunately, this approach leaves a lot to be desired, as an integrated approach often yields more significant success.

Why an integrated approach is the “future of PR”

Creating a strong, unified brand is top of mind for leading businesses. This is only possible through consistent messaging and design. Having a unique brand voice that speaks to your audience is crucial.

With this in mind, imagine the issues created when marketing professionals, designers and PR practitioners work independently with no coordination. This is why an integrated approach to PR is best.

1. Seamless Experience For Your Audience

Having an integrated PR plan means key communications and marketing components are aligned and their messaging is consistent across all channels. With media pitches, digital ads, social media posts, and other strongly linked elements, the message is clear and compelling. This builds credibility and brand authority while creating a seamless experience for audience members.

2. Shared Resources Make Your Campaigns More Effective

The classic saying “content is king” is more relevant than ever. Creating a stream of compelling content is a never-ending battle for marketers and PR pros alike, which is why shared resources can help ease the burden on individual teams and improve success. For example, your marketing team discovered that your company’s workforce leads its industry in diversity. It has designed an infographic that explains this and will be sharing it on social media. While this would undoubtedly draw positive engagement from followers, it could have been used alongside a press release announcing this success if shared with the company’s PR team. On the other hand, press releases being created by a company’s communications team have the added versatility to be converted into blog posts, newsletter content and social media announcements.

3. Navigating Pay For Play Opportunities

While many media outlets still have a strong separation of editorial and sales teams, there has been a significant shift of late that has increased the likelihood of your next press pitch being met with an invoice. Pay-for-play media opportunities are often a major roadblock for PR professionals tasked with generating organic media coverage. Because most PR agencies operate on retainer and do not budget for marketing “buys” they generally are only left with the option to decline and move on. With integrated marketing plans in place, there’s greater efficiency in allocating advertising into these kinds of opportunities as they occur. Moreover, the relationships marketers often form with media outlet sales personnel can typically be leveraged to garner organic news coverage with an integrated team.

There are countless reasons to integrate your communications and marketing teams. It is even more critical to have open communication lines between your business’s marketing and PR arms if relying on an agency or multiple agency partners. Better yet, having a unified, cohesive team under one roof can bring even greater efficiency to your business, drive higher engagement among key audiences and most importantly, enhance the bottom line.

Next-mark was created by the belief that exceptional branding, marketing and public relations should be aligned. Our in-house team of talented creatives, data-driven marketing experts and passionate PR professionals work in unison to accomplish client directives and exceed their individual goals. Curious how an integrated communications and marketing plan can help your business? Contact us today

Next-Mark wins big at 2021 ADDY Awards

The Sarasota-based marketing and communications agency earns four awards for creative excellence, including a coveted “Judges’ Choice” honor

Next-Mark, a full-service marketing and communications agency serving clients in Florida and nationwide, announced on March 15, 202 it was awarded four ADDY® Awards at the Advertising Federation’s annual award ceremony hosted by AdFed, the Florida Suncoast’s regional AAF club.

The awards span multiple categories that directly impacted Next-Mark client’s business success and include: 

  • Judges’ Choice – Professional | A LookBook to Showcase Architecture, Sweet Sparkman Architecture & Interiors
  • Gold Addy – Sales & Marketing: Brochure | A LookBook to Showcase Architecture, Sweet Sparkman Architecture & Interiors
  • Silver Addy – Cross Platform: Integrated Branded Content Campaign | Embodying an Architect Brand Story, Sweet Sparkman Architecture & Interiors
  • Silver Addy – Cross Platform: Integrated Branded Content Campaign | Migrating a Brand to Virtual Market, Medecision

“Delivering strategic marketing and impactful creative content for clients is always our top priority,” said Next-Mark president and founder, Joseph S. Grano, Jr. “To be recognized by our peers for this work is an honor and a testament to our results-driven process, as well as the forward-thinking of our team.”

Next-Mark client, Sweet Sparkman Architecture & Interiors, garnered three total awards, including a Judges’ Award, Gold ADDY and Silver ADDY for its digital LookBook and an Integrated Content Campaign. Headquartered in Sarasota, Florida, Sweet Sparkman is the area’s premier multi-disciplinary architecture and planning firm specializing in community-oriented projects and high-end residential, as well as interior design.

Next-Mark’s work for another major client, Medecision, earned a Silver ADDY award as well, this one in the cross-platform category for an Integrated Branded Content Campaign called “Migrating a Brand to Virtual Market.” Medecision, an integrated health solutions company whose mission is to “drive a revolution in healthcare,” relies on Next-Mark as a creative, collaborative partner to help it deliver its promise to more than 50 million members in its partner network.