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Holy Ship! How Hiring a Local Marketing Agency Can Help Your Business!

Another wild day pretending you have 8 arms is behind you! Yes, you almost lost arm protecting your waters and warding off your fiercest competitors. And you were up all night again hunting down tasty opportunities. Holy ship, it’s a good thing octopuses have three hearts!

If you feel more like an octopus than a business owner at times, you’re not alone! In order to protect your waters, you have to attract and keep your audience while fighting off your competition. The key to accomplishing this goal is to prepare a strategic marketing plan that will help you become the king of the sea. To the average business owner who lacks marketing expertise, this process might seem a bit overwhelming. But by hiring a local marketing agency, you can develop a customized marketing strategy that will help your business thrive. Below are ten ways hiring a local marketing agency can help your business prosper.

1) Identify your target market

“You have put in the long hours and finally finished making that killer product or service, but your work is not yet done – now you need to introduce people to this offering. While it is relatively simple to develop general advertising for the masses, devoting time and resources to identify more targeted markets can help you maximize your marketing ROI.”

Chuck Cohn, Founder and CEO of Varsity Tutors

Get your suckers ready! Identifying your target market is the first step to building a successful marketing strategy. Hiring a local marketing agency can help you identify your target market by helping you sharpen your focus and obtain data and uncover untapped prospects in the sea. For instance, a marketing specialist can help you clarify what needs your products fill and how to use existing data to help your product look tasty to your audience.

2) Establish your marketing budget

Rich Octopus is more than just the name of a band from Louisiana. The best path to wealth is a stellar marketing plan. But before you launch into any marketing activities, you need to set your marketing budget and resolve to stick to it!

This is a foreign concept to many new business owners who feel like a fish out of water when it comes to finance and marketing. The good news is that a local marketing firm can help you establish your budget. In most cases, marketing budgets are determined in one of two ways: by allocating a specific percentage of revenue to marketing activities or by allocating a specific dollar amount to marketing pursuits. While companies vary in terms of the amount of money they allocate to marketing expenses, the average allocation is typically 9% to 12% of revenue.

3) Identify your key competitors

If you have to hear about Lil’Ocho or Ole 8-Mile-Man one more time, you might chew off one of your own arms! Hearing buzz about your competitors is never fun. But unfortunately, competition will always be alive and well in your waters. Positioning yourself as a leader in your industry is nearly impossible unless you have the inside track on your competitors. An accomplished marketing agency can help you identify key competitors. By reviewing your competitors’ marketing materials and comparing their advertising strategies, a local marketing firm can help you maintain an edge in a sea of fierce competitors.

4) Ramp up your social media presence

Yes, their eight arms would DEFINITELY give an octopus an edge and would help them dominate social media if it existed underwater!

Unfortunately, business owners are not born with eight arms! While you may not be able to compete with an octopus in the social media realm, failure to devote sufficient time to social media marketing leaves the door open for your competitors to surpass you. And with 90% of high net worth individuals actively engaging with social media, you can hardly afford not to make time to remain active on social media. In addition to providing an excellent forum through which to advertise your products, social media continues to be a superb means of networking.

5) Give your website a facelift

Did you know that an octopus would be more likely to ignore your website if it is drab and lifeless? Yes, octopuses are attracted to colour, shapes, and vibrancy. And like octopuses, your prospects will be more attracted to your company if you have an alluring website.

Prospects searching for your products are more likely than ever to start their search online. It is therefore imperative that your website be attractive, responsive, and easy to navigate. But if you are like most entrepreneurs, you may lack the skills to update your own website. Fortunately, web design is another key task that a local marketing agency can handle for you.

6) Navigate the trade show market

Becoming king of the sea is not easy. You have to stay abreast of all of the latest developments in your waters and keep tabs on key players. Attending industry trade shows is one of the best ways to accomplish these goals. However, you may not know which trade shows are the most established or what material you need to make an impact in a sea of booths. Enter your local marketing specialist, who will be able to guide you in your selection of trade show display material.

7) Start a blog and update it regularly

Keeping the world interested and engaged is important! Fortunately, creating a blog is free and can be done in five easy steps. Within a matter of minutes, you can be on the road to attracting prospects and providing helpful, educational material to people who visit your website. If you lack the time or expertise to start a blog, a local marketing specialist can help you create a blog schedule, perform the critical keyword research and craft the content to post on your site.

8) Use virtual reality to showcase your products

“Virtual reality is the biggest change in the way media is consumed since the internet; in fact it is a paradigm shift. It is technology that has caught a lot of brands out, with many of them now scrambling to work out how virtual reality can be used in their marketing.” 

Drew Gardner, VR360

Showing off your products is akin to an octopus showing off its funnel! And virtual reality technology is a big help in this process. Today’s most accomplished marketing specialists recognize the many ways that virtual reality technology has revolutionized global trade.

Virtual reality technology is affordable and flexible, enabling business owners to showcase their products and services from the office or from the exhibit hall of an industry trade show. If you are not comfortable with virtual reality technology, a marketing agency can quickly step in and help you design a stellar VR platform.

9) Use print collateral

Print collateral is not dead at the bottom of the sea! There is still a need for pamphlets, business cards and brochures in today’s marketplace. Some prospects enjoy the tangible nature of print collateral, especially if it is professionally prepared with a design that can be modified for digital use. Print collateral can also be featured in direct mail packages. Hiring a local marketing agency can help you assess the need for print collateral and make sure it’s perfectly on brand and targeted to your audience.

10) Track your results

How many prawns did you eat today? How many caves did you explore? Tracking an octopus’s performance is important! As a business owner, you should track your company’s performance and evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing plan at least once each year.

A local marketing agency can help you do this by monitoring the number and quality of leads generated by your strategies. Additionally, a local marketing agency can track the number of visits to your website and number of likes on your social media pages. Stagnancy in any of these key areas is a sign that it is time to consider re-evaluating underperforming elements of your marketing plan.

The Bottom Line: Hiring a Local Marketing Agency 

Maintaining a competitive edge in a sea of competitors requires a strategic marketing plan with a multi-faceted approach. By employing the ten steps above, a local marketing agency can help you position your company as an industry leader.

Want to learn about the many ways a marketing firm can help your business grow and thrive? We invite you to contact us today! With our help, you will feel like you have eight arms handling all of the tasks above. We look forward to becoming your trusty sidekick for all of your marketing needs!

Four Savvy Cannabis Marketing Tips for Canadian Marijuana Pioneers

 Canada’s government passed legislation making recreational cannabis legal in October 2018. This opens the door for a nationwide cannabis industry. 

The problem is that the legislation places strict restrictions on marketing. How can the savvy businessperson get around these rules and still promote their brand? 

Read on for four cannabis marketing tips for Canadian cannabis businesses. First, let’s look at the difference in territorial law as it pertains to who can sell legal cannabis. 

Government Regulations by Province

Most provinces in Canada involve some sort of government intervention. In Yukon, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, only the government can operate storefronts and online stores. 

Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nunavut, and Manitoba allow for private ownership. All other provinces mix private and government ownership. Even in the provinces with private ownership, government rules are a concern for cannabis businesses. 

As a marketer, you must also know that each province has its own rules that it enforces. How can you market your product and stay within Canadian law? Here are four tips for you. 

Use the Media

Canada has restrictive packaging rules that make it difficult to utilize packaging as a brand building tactic.

Packaging must be one solid color, but you can’t use flashy colors that might attract the attention of children. You also have to list the health effects and relevant safety warnings on the outside of the package. You can have a small logo design, but nothing that involves animals, people, or characters.

Advertising your product through traditional methods is difficult, but there are ways to get around this. 

One of the best ways to get the word out about your product is through public relations activities. 

Create pitches for interviews through various news stations and newspapers (especially as more specific cannabis-related media pops up.) Personalize your pitch for each media outlet, and talk about larger trends in the industry. 

You can use your media exposure to work on the second tip. 

Promote Your Company as Socially Responsible 

One of the reasons Canada’s laws are so restrictive is because the government wants to protect the health of the user and keep Cannabis out of the hands of minors. Why not show that your brand represents the same values. 

Holding public education campaigns about the risks of underage use and driving while intoxicated. Run a PSA (Public Service Announcement) about how to avoid over-consumption of cannabis products. 

You’ll get your name out into the public sphere while showing the responsibility of your brand. 

You can use the growing concerns over the environment by using green energy sources to produce cannabis. Focus on water conservation. 

Remember to talk about your brand in a way that resonates with people. Are you a family run business? Are you a small company that provides a boost to the local economy? Talk about these things. Let people know that you’re serious about your responsibility to the people you serve. 

People notice these things and talk about them, providing you with the word-of-mouth marketing that is going to be so critical to your overall marketing strategy

Word of Mouth 

Word of mouth is the original Facebook. Before the Internet, satisfied customers telling their friends and families about your service was the best way to grow your business. 

Now, with social media, the same is true. People still rely on recommendations when choosing a product. If you can get your customers to share their experience with peers, you’ll grow your business organically. 

How do you achieve this without violating Candian cannabis marketing regulations? 

Have a strong social media presence that encourages others to share their experience. With some luck, you could get someone famous to promote your brand. Celebrities and influencers can talk about your product as long as you don’t compensate them. 

You can’t give them samples, as that would count as compensation. You can encourage people to leave stories and tag their friends though. Doing so spreads the word about your brand and encourages others to try your products.

One way of using this method is to place your social media information inside of your packaging. Encourage users to tweet using a certain hashtag or tag you on Facebook with their experience.  

Use SEO Strategies for Cannabis Marketing 

Online, content is king. If you produce great content and know how to use SEO strategies, you can outrank your competitors on search engines like Google. 

How important is your position in search engine results? One recent study showed that 90% percent of customers go to the websites that rank in the top ten of Google search results. 75 percent go to websites in the top five.

If you aren’t employing SEO, you’re missing out on over 90 percent of potential sales!

Ignoring the vast majority of Internet users isn’t a solid business model. Working with a professional brand and marketing agency helps you build your SEO ranking while following Canadian laws. 

Setting up a blog with information about the cannabis industry is the best place to start. Insert keywords, phrases that Google looks for to determine what your site contains, in your articles. Share these articles online and encourage your followers to share, building on your word of mouth campaign. 

The best part about SEO is that it builds upon itself. When your website makes it way to the top of Google and Bing results, more people visit. These visitors read and share your content, bringing in new viewers and customers.

A high SEO score sustains itself as long as you continue to put in the work. 

Do You Need Help with Your Marketing?

Marketing requires a lot of research and legwork. It’s not something that a company can spend a day on; it’s an ongoing process that takes time. Most cannabis businesses find that it’s better to outsource their marketing. They’ll focus on growing the green that keeps your business operating.   

Here at Octopus Creative, we’re focused on your company’s growth. Our wide range of expertise allows us to cater our services to meet your unique needs. 

If you need help reaching your cannabis marketing and branding goals, get in touch with us today!

Even Santa Would Shop in Airdrie with These Christmas Events Ideas

Christmas accounts for as much as 30% of sales for some retail outlets.

That’s why it’s a great idea to seize the day and cash in on the holiday spirit.

While the holidays might be stressful for some people, it’s the time of year when everyone is ready to spend money, as well as quality time with their friends and family members.

In this blog post, we’ll give you some of the best Christmas events ideas, both online and off, to help boost awareness of your brand and store.

1. Host an Online Advent Calendar

Try an online advent calendar, but instead of giving away a present each day, give away a discount or free gift with purchase every day.

This one works best for users who are almost entirely web-based, or who have high volumes of web traffic.

Each day that people log on, they will be treated to 15%, 20% or a small gift like a lip balm with their purchase.

Don’t tell them ahead of time what each day has in store, but do promote your online advent calendar ahead of time. You can promote it as “25 Days of Savings,” or other such names that makes it obvious what kinds of gifts people can expect.

2. Christmas in July

Host a Christmas in July party, or a Christmas before it’s actually Christmas season. While adults might roll their eyes at the “oversaturation” of the holiday, kids will always be excited to participate in anything Christmas related.

For your Christmas in July event, roll out some of your Christmas items and let people preview some things that will be coming to your store in December.

You can even do this online, giving future customers a preview of what to expect from your store during the Christmas season.

3. Host Santa!

Hosting Santa is a fantastic way to get people into your store. This is especially the case if you run a photography studio. This also works well for pet stores or children’s stores.

While many malls and communities will host Santa, you can coordinate with them to have him in your store for one day.

Let shoppers know St. Nick is coming to town by advertising when you expect him, and his merry band of elves, to show up.

If you run a pet store, having people bring their pets to visit Santa is also a fun activity. Many national pet store chains do this, and it has become a very popular idea. It’s also a great way to ensure that you get a lot of customer traffic into your store.

4. Christmas Events Ideas: Make Christmas Cookies

If your store appeals to families, or sells any kind of homeware or home baking items, host a day to bake Christmas cookies. You can even host workshops in order to show customers how to make more intricate cookies than they might find online.

If you have people from several different countries working at your store, you might even use this time to have them introduce some new recipes to the community. Invite people to come to learn to make classic Christmas cookies and a special treat.

You can either charge for the class and have people sign up in advance, or simply just have it as a drop-in event. When participants finish, they can get a discount to use in the store. You can also show off some of the items you used in the recipe or used to bake the recipe that you have in store.

If you have ovens available at your store, bake the cookies in the store while the customers wait. Or, wrap up the batter well so that each child or family can take it home to cook on their own time.

5. Christmas Crafts

Everyone loves crafts, and parents will always treasure anything their children made with their hands. Host Christmas crafts for families or for young children to come and have fun in your store.

This event can operate similar to the cookies event, in that you can either organize it as a drop-in, or you can have people sign up for the class ahead of time.

Again, use this as an opportunity to show off items you have for sale in your store. Give out discounts to those who have participated, or a free item.

6. Christmas Hashtags

Feeling festive but your business is all online? No problem! You can stay in the holiday spirit by using a wide variety of Christmas hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They’re very popular during the holiday season, and people will definitely be clicking on them to find others talking about the holidays.

You can look at a list of the most popular Christmas hashtags here, and start getting in on it as soon as you start stocking Christmas items.

Participate in conversations organically instead of just advertising your products. If you get good engagement with potential customers, people will be more inclined to check you out rather than if you just advertise your wares.

Getting in the Christmas Mood

There are endless Christmas events ideas that you can employ to get your customers in the festive mood. You can even get special Christmas packaging or Christmas bags for your customers to give them even more of the holiday cheer.

If you’re ready to start talking about your next Christmas event and how we can help support you, reach out and contact us today! If you want a sample of our work before you dash off that first email, have a look here.

Marketing vs Advertising: What’s the Difference?

Marketing and advertising are two necessary components for making your business grow and thrive. Marketing vs advertising isn’t a competition as much as a comparison. Too many businesses lump them together.

It’s best to think of marketing as a giant umbrella that covers many different divisions. One of them is advertising. It’s a very important aspect of marketing, but its only one slice of the pie. Who doesn’t like pie?

It’s important for businesses to differentiate the two. This helps create a marketing plan that is efficient and effective. Believing marketing is just advertising is like eating an omelet with just cheese and leaving the ham, bacon and sausage out. You’re missing out on a tasty meal.

Marketing Vs Advertising: Why the Confusion?

There’s a reason why marketing and advertising are often compared. Before the digital revolution, many small businesses primary method of marketing was advertising. It all started with local newspaper advertising. Radio and television ads came next, but that was all they did.

Small businesses were limited when it came to marketing options. Many didn’t realize what they were doing was marketing. When the grocery store created a float for the local parade, it was a form of marketing. The float was part of the civic pride and they didn’t even realize it was also marketing their business.

This is called public relations. It’s when you do something that makes your company look good to your customer base. Many times public relations incorporates social responsibility as well.

This is when the company does something that gives back to the community. It could be a can drive for the local food bank or building solar panels to power your factory with green energy and then releasing that news via a press release.

Advertising Isn’t Chump Change

When someone uses advertising, they’re using a paid ad in a specific medium. There are many mediums for advertising including newspapers, radio, television, online, billboard, and even bus benches and taxi cabs. It’s anything that a business pays for that’s designed for customers to see. This entices them to visit the store or website.

The cost of advertising depends on the size of the ad and how long people see it. A small ad seen once in a weekly newspaper will cost less than a full page ad seen five times at a daily newspaper.

Look Mom, I’m on “the Google”

Online ads are a little different. The primary method they’re shown is through a pay per click approach. Google, Facebook, and other agencies use this method. You bid on specific keywords, phrases and target audiences and create an ad based on these targeting measures.

Other companies also bid for these phrases and you compete for placement. Your bid and your ad score work together to get you placed. Online ads include search ads placed at the top and bottom of search pages. Mobile phones and apps show mobile ads. Websites show display ads. Video ads are videos you can show on YouTube and other sites.

There are many different types of advertising for the Internet. There is even more to marketing.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a blanket term for anything you do to promote your business to customers. These methods could cost money or they could be free. They’re all aspects of your marketing plan. It could be word of mouth from customer to customer or search engine optimization for specific keywords on your website.

The marketing blanket includes advertising. It’s a step by step process that has many moving parts. Each of these parts acts independently. They also work together to create an overall marketing plan.

Marketing is anything you do to create an interaction between you and customers. It includes social media, advertising, market research, public relations and more. Marketing is more like a quilt than a blanket with each aspect making up a patch on the quilt.

Digital marketing is an offshoot of overall marketing. It deals with efforts on digital platforms.

Marketing Goes Digital

Anything you do to promote a business or website online is digital marketing including advertising.

SEO

Search engine optimization is the effort to make your website more visible on organic search pages, primarily Google. It includes keyword research and implementation on your site, the creation of valued content and user experience on your website. Over 50 percent of traffic comes from organic searches.

Social Media

Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media platforms engage and interact with existing and potential customers. Everyone watches those crazy cat videos and shares with everyone and their cousin.

You don’t need cats to get social media traction… but it doesn’t hurt. Social media posting is free, but if you want to reach more people then use paid options such as paid advertising and boosted posts.

Here is an instance where two separate marketing areas interact.

Reputation Management

There are many business listing and review sites on the Internet. Many times they rank well in searches. It’s important that your listings are correct. People may get the wrong information about your site and that could keep them from your website or business. Reviews are also important as they impact how people see your business.

Negative reviews may keep people from trusting your business or visiting your site. Good responses to negative reviews can turn it into a positive. It shows your business cares about the customers and their experience.

It also shows you care about how your employees conduct themselves. Sites such as Yelp and Facebook are popular for reviews. People trust online reviews as much as opinions from friends and 90 percent of people check out reviews before buying.

Drive It Home… One Headlight Optional

It’s important all your marketing efforts work towards a common goal. This is where your marketing plan comes into play. It governs all your marketing efforts and keeps them on track for specific goals.

For example, if you have a sale and want to promote it, then social media, advertising, content marketing and more all create a buzz for it.

If you want to learn more about marketing vs advertising and how they work together to better your business, then visit our website.

#BlackFriday or #GivingTuesday: All, One, or None? How to Choose Your on-brand Holiday Social Strategy

Are you ready for the holiday season?

It might feel like you have plenty of holiday prep time if you’re talking about buying gifts and planning menus. When it comes to capitalizing on the holidays with marketing, though, it’s time to get it in gear.

The days after American Thanksgiving are among the most crucial in terms of a company’s holiday sales. It seems like every year we add a new holiday, too. So far we have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday.

Chances are that you’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a good holiday social media campaign for all of these. It’s usually best to choose one or two and concentrate your efforts.

The problem is that you have to decide which one. Let’s compare the two that seem to be the farthest apart: Black Friday and Giving Tuesday.

Comparing Holiday Social Media Promotions: Black Friday vs. Giving Tuesday

Before you throw your team full-bore into a social media campaign, let’s compare two of your key options.

Pros and Cons of Black Friday Promotions

While it started in the US, Black Friday is now an international shopping phenomenon. If you’re thinking about jumping on the bandwagon, here’s what you need to know.

Pro: A Larger Holiday Social Presence

By a wide margin, Black Friday is a more well-known holiday than Giving Tuesday. As a result, you know that more consumers will be actively looking for promotions on that day rather than on Giving Tuesday.

When it comes to social media, the Black Friday shopping day is even more important. As people browse social media on their phones, they can find your promotions and click on them for a fast and impulse-driven purchase.

If you think people don’t use mobile devices for shopping, think again. Last year, 64% of shopping traffic on Black Friday came from mobile devices. That’s a huge audience for your social media campaign to capture.

Con: Hefty Competition

While the massive popularity of Black Friday means a larger consumer base, it means more competition as well.

With so much money up for grabs, countless retailers nationwide are launching Black Friday campaigns. That means even if someone is looking specifically for Black Friday sales, it will be tough for your campaign to stand out.

Pro: Market to a Captive Audience

Black Friday presents a rare opportunity for retailers. On a normal day, you have to convince consumers to do two things: first to spend money at all and second to spend it on your product in particular.

On Black Friday, that first part is already in the bag. Consumers have a shopping list, and they’re actively trying to buy as much as they can on that day to get ahead on their holiday shopping.

As a retailer, this means you’re working with a captive audience. It takes far less to convert viewers or users into paying customers, so it’s a huge opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Con: Not Everyone Is a Fan

If you jump onto the Black Friday train, be aware that not everyone thinks it’s a fun and lighthearted tradition.

To some, Black Friday and the chaos it incites are symbols of a materialism they oppose. Others see it as a time when retailers take advantage of customers by misrepresenting their sales.

Before you choose to do a Black Friday social media campaign, think about how you’ll deal with the potential backlash.

Pros and Cons of Giving Tuesday Promotions

If you want to get away from the materialistic image of Black Friday, Giving Tuesday is on the other end of the spectrum. Charities are front and center on this shopping holiday. In many cases, retailers donate a portion of the day’s proceeds to a select charity.

If you’re thinking about getting involved, here’s what you should consider.

Pro: Gain Ethics Points

If you’re looking for a great PR move, Giving Tuesday is right in your wheelhouse. It’s an opportunity for you to show your philanthropic side and appeal to your customers’ moral compasses.

It will depend on the cause you choose, though. If you promote a charity whose cause is near to many of your customers’ hearts, you gain an even better reputation in their minds.

Con: Risky for Your Bottom Line

Giving Tuesday is a bit of a gamble. Let’s say you choose to donate 10% of the day’s profits toward a charity. You’re gambling that the promotion will increase your sales to make up for that 10% hit.

While it’s a safe bet that 10% discounts will pay off, 10% donations aren’t as solid. You’re placing a bet that your customers will care enough about that charity to buy more when there’s a donation at stake. If they don’t or if they’ve blown their entire budgets on Black Friday, your bottom line will suffer.

Pro: Not as Much Competition

As we mentioned, Giving Tuesday doesn’t yet have the massive clout that Black Friday does. It gains more and more awareness each year, but the two still aren’t comparable.

In some respects, that’s an advantage for you. While the internet will be flooded with #BlackFriday, #GivingTuesday has less competition for your digital marketing.

As an added bonus, Black Friday happens first. That means you’ll have three days of solid marketing time after to the chatter about Black Friday has died down.

Con: Need to Handle with Care

As much as you stand to gain on Giving Tuesday from a PR perspective, you have a lot to lose as well. Many charities and causes have some degree of political flavour, whether they lean right or left.

To avoid alienating customers, it’s a good idea to choose a cause that’s as politically neutral as possible. If you do choose to get more political, analyze your demographic to find out if most of your consumer base aligns with what you believe.

Finding a Direction for Your Shopping Holiday Social Media Campaigns

Without a doubt, it’s smart to take advantage of the season with one or more shopping holiday social media campaigns. Choosing which ones, though, can be tricky. The pros and cons above can help.

If you prefer to leave your holiday marketing in professional hands, contact our expert marketing crew today.

The Top 8 Digital Marketing Issues You’ll Commonly Face

You’ve done the best research, formed the best plan possible, and executed your marketing strategy with glorious perfection, like a boss. It’s a masterpiece, the Mona Lisa of marketing campaigns, and you are Leonardo da Vinci. And now, naturally, you sit back and enjoy the most smooth-sailing campaign to ever hit the market.

What’s that? The sailing’s not so smooth? You’re having trouble getting leads, training your team, and proving ROI?

It sounds like your perfect campaign sort of hit the fan, so to speak. But don’t worry.

So this marketing thing wasn’t as easy as you thought it would be. That’s the bad news. The good news is, everyone else, and we mean everyone, is having the same problems you are.

And here’s the even better news. We’re going to share with you all the most common marketing issues marketers face so you’ll know what to expect going forward. Aren’t we nice?

Read the list below so these marketing problems won’t catch you off guard.

Problem 1: Where My Peeps At?

When Hubspot polled thousands of companies about their top marketing challenges, only one was reported by more than half of all participants. 63% of them reported “generating traffic and leads” as the number one problem marketers face.

Companies are struggling to get enough demand for their supply of product or content. Why is this? Because the internet is just too darn big.

Here, your marketing choices are limitless and your audience is everyone in the world. It’s hard to know where and how to focus your efforts.

So what do you do? Pay deep and continual attention to market research and don’t try to be everything to everyone.

Know every statistic about your ideal audience. Know what devices and apps they’re using, when they’re using them, and for how long.

What social media platform do they prefer? What do they like to see there? Find out exactly what they want from you, and then give them the highest quality version of it that you can.

In short, marketing analytics are your best friend – IF you can interpret them, that is. (We totally rock at analytics, btw, so we’ll be your best friend if you’d like)!

Problem 2: Is It Working?

You have so many wheels turning in so many different campaigns. How can you track which ones are working and which ones aren’t?

This is the second-most common marketing problem. Proving the return on investment (ROI) of marketing activities is a complicated challenge. And if you can’t prove ROI, you can’t effectively budget or strategize your campaign.

The answer, therefore, is better analytics software. Lucky for you, analytics technology has gotten way better than it used to be at tracking sales.

It’s also grown to become more advanced at linking more types of analytics together. This gives a more accurate picture of what impacts your returns and how.

All your digital marketing analytics should be linked to the same analytics software. That includes social media marketing, ecommerce, and website analytics. If they’re not linked, you need new analytics software.

Problem 3: You Can’t Make the Scene If You Don’t Have the Green

Many companies, especially smaller ones, have trouble getting funds for their marketing campaigns. This is mostly due to the point we just covered. No one wants to invest in a marketing tactic with an effectiveness that can’t be proven.

But if you can prove the ROI of your marketing efforts, you’ll have no problem securing funds. And the key to proving ROI is top-notch analytics software (plus help from awesome nerds like us).

Problem 4: You Can’t Be Good at Everything

A successful website is essential to any digital marketing campaign. So why are so many companies having trouble with it? Quite simply, they either don’t have the know-how or manpower to do it right.

The ever-changing world of search engine optimization (SEO) is a whole other campaign all by itself. SEO refers to the tactics used to make a website rank higher on search engine results pages (SERP).

To create and maintain a successful website requires expertise and up-to-date knowledge of SEO. We know you’re an expert at marketing. But you can’t be excellent at everything.

Therein lies the problem. Many marketers try to manage their own sites without this in-depth knowledge or without knowledgeable people working on it.

The obvious solution is to get knowledgeable people working on your SEO. Either put your own, SEO-competent staff on it or outsource to professionals. Your website’s crucial to your digital marketing efforts; you can’t afford to skip this step.

Problem 5: Knowing What’s Good for You

Ok, let’s see how you’re doing so far.

You’ve gotten better analytics software, one that links all possible analytics to marketing returns, and you’ve hired the right people to maintain your website. You’re doing great!

But even when doing your best, you can’t anticipate changing technology, glitches, Murphy’s Law, etc.

New problems will always pop up, requiring some other app, software or device to solve it. The problem most companies have with this is figuring out what technologies they need and whether or not they’re reliable.

This is another situation where hiring awesome, professional help is a good idea. Pros are on top of the situation before you even find out about it.

You can straight-up ask them yourself if their software can solve your problem. They can even refer you to customers they’ve helped with the same problem.

Or, if you like to live dangerously, you can trust online reviews of marketing solution software and hope for the best. If it doesn’t work out, though, you might end up wasting a lot of valuable time.

Problem 6: Team Training Troubles

As digital marketing evolves, so must your company. Each change demands retraining or rehiring: two sides of one really sucky coin.

Both mean finding (and funding) the time for training. And turnover means starting from scratch.

The best solution is to set up an hour or less of training updates at the same time every week. You update your leaders, who then train the rest of your team. An alternative is requiring your team to take training courses.

New hires are more difficult. You want their training time to be short and intense.

The shortness will cost you less money (especially if they quit). And the intenseness will weed out those who might quit anyway.

Your other option is the next problem: hiring people who are already the best.

Problem 7: The Top Talent Gamble

Hey, wait a sec. Why not just hire better-qualified people?

It would save the time and money required for training newbies, right? You’d think.

But trying to find and hire top talent that isn’t already employed, may cost just as much as training from scratch. Then, add to that a higher salary.

The solution? Be as specific as possible in your career ad.

Think about the exact position in your company you need the top talent in. Require a very-specifically-described skill set for the position. That is, write the job description for that one, perfect candidate you want.

Post to a niche-specific job board that’s just for digital marketers, like growth.org, and voila! You let the perfect candidate find you.

Problem 8: Your Target Is Everywhere

Have you ever sent a text and then afterward realized it autocorrected to a completely wrong message? Then, you already know the biggest challenge of marketing internationally.

Most companies aren’t familiar with the markets and cultures of other countries. They don’t know how to appeal to them, so their attempts at advertising end up sending the wrong message.

Avoid this by gaining marketing expertise in the countries you do business with. There are several global marketing books and other learning resources you can learn this from. But it may be more practical to hire a qualified marketing expert for each country.

Next, optimize your website and ad campaigns for the language and culture of each target country.

Kick These Marketing Issues to the Curb

Now that you know the most common, current marketing issues, they won’t catch you off guard. Instead, you can face them and say, “Enguard!”

Ok, we’re sorry; that was terrible. The point is, plan for these issues now and you’ll be ready when they happen.

Now read 8 creative marketing strategy examples to inspire you.

SEM Guide: What is Search Marketing?

Being visible online is important to every business, whether you sell business services or sweatpants.

To launch your brand to online success, you likely need some form of search marketing.

When people think about search engine marketing, often times they focus on optimization techniques known as SEO. But SEM is distinct from SEO and is an important part of any internet marketing plan.

Here’s the skinny on SEM.

The Language of Search Marketing

Search engine marketing, or SEM, is a practice where marketers essentially purchase authority within search engines through advertising, keywords, and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns.

It differs from SEO in that search engine optimization focuses on your organic ability to earn a ranking on a search engine.

A winning search marketing strategy has both SEO and SEM.

SEM vs SEO, Yo!

As mentioned above, SEM and SEO are different because one is a service you pay for, and the other is an accomplishment you earn. Both are important to your marketing strategy.

Here are some key terms and strategies in the SEM vs SEO world that will help you differentiate between the two.

Did Someone Say, “SEM Strategies?”

Below are several popular strategies for building an online reputation with SEM.

  • Paid Search/PPC: the process of buying keywords that will put you in front of your target market
  • Landing pages: purchasing succinct landing pages that offer a great user experience (UX) for customers
  • Local SEM: purchasing 360-degree videos and ads on Google maps, things that will help you appear in more local searches

Well, What About SEO?

Here are the most common terms and strategies used in the SEO world today.

  • Keywords: selecting and using the keywords you want to rank for in your content
  • Organic rankings: use on-site SEO strategies like content marketing and seamless navigation to boost your page organically to top rankings
  • Local SEO: using free and organic strategies to get on local ranking sites, like adding your business to Google maps
  • Site indexing strategies: having a well-functioning site that creates a great UX is a good way to ensure it is indexed by Google
  • Link-building: link-building is an organic SEO strategy by which links from other sites drive traffic to your site and increase its authority with Google

As evidenced above, there are a number of similarities between SEM and SEO strategies. The differences, however, are distinct enough that both should play into a search marketing strategy.

SEM: Some Translation Required

So, that’s SEM in a nutshell. But what does that mean for you? How do these terms translate into something useable for your business?

He Gets an Avatar! She Gets an Avatar! Everybody Gets an Avatar!

At the foundation of any marketing campaign is the customer, and SEM is no different.

To start your SEM journey, you need to first understand who is buying your products and services and create a customer avatar.

This can be done from scratch or from a template.

If you haven’t taken inventory of who is buying a product or service in a long time, a good way to do that is to utilize free tools within the Facebook Business platform.

Start with an existing list of customers and emails. Put that into a new campaign in Facebook’s ad manager, and watch Facebook develop a profile of demographics from your list.

If you don’t have a list, run a Facebook ad campaign and use the analytics built-in to Facebook to determine who is likely to interact with your campaign.

Or pick a look-a-like audience. For instance, our sweatpants manufacturer might choose “people who like Fabletics.”

Once you’ve used Facebook to capture an audience you can pull the analytics to begin filling in your target customer avatar.

Cough Up the Dough

Once you know who’s most interested in your products and services, the rest becomes much easier.

The key to a good paid search campaign is selecting the right keywords to purchase. In order to do that, you need to do keyword research that is heavily based on what you’ve learned about your customer.

For one, you can use social platforms like Twitter to see what your target audience is talking about online. That should give you an idea of what they are interested in.

Then you can jot down a list of hashtags and work backward from there, using any number of free resources to drill down the best keywords from the hashtags.

You can also turn to other blogs and see what they are writing about. What keywords are your competitors using? If your direct competition wants to own a keyword, then consider if you should compete on that keyword too.

After you’ve narrowed down your list of most valuable keywords, you can start making purchases based on search volume and competitiveness.

When you select the keywords you want to focus on in your Google AdWords or Bing account, your ad will appear on search results for those keywords.

It will look like organic search results, only there will be a notation showing that it is an ad. And when people click through you will be charged, hence why this is a form of PPC.

Your Best PPC Campaign

When it comes to SEM, PPC is a big purchase category. However, in most industries, the click-thru-rate (CTR) is less than 1%.

It’s no surprise people prefer being in the top of organic search results and that’s why it’s so important to utilize both principles of SEM and SEO in tandem.

They said, when structuring a PPC campaign, make the following considerations:

  • Ad Campaigns: This is the largest group of like-ads, perhaps you want to run a campaign of seasonal sweatpants and fall patterned leggings because these categories have similarities they would fall under one campaign
  • Ad Groups: The ad groups are a division which campaigns can be broken down into, perhaps one ad group focuses on seasonal sweatpants and the other group is for fall coloured leggings
  • Keywords: For each ad group, you should have a subset of keywords that make up the campaign

By breaking down your campaign into Ad Campaigns > Ad Groups > Keywords, you can target the right market segment and make the most of your ads.

Holla at Your Search Marketing!

When it comes to search marketing, you have to have both SEO and SEM. But the difference between a successful campaign and one that falls flat is in the details.

Pay attention to what your customers are looking for, and appeal to that. Whether you are optimizing or purchasing pay-per-click understanding your customer base is key.

For more information like this for your Calgary, Alberta business, click here.

The Top 6 Benefits of Digital Marketing

The benefits of digital marketing are more apparent than ever in 2018. Digital marketing can help increase your brand exposure as a business.

In fact, more than 1.1 million small businesses have taken off in the past four years.

If you want to thrive in this economy, it’s important to grow your digital marketing strategies right now.

1. Digital Marketing is Cost-Effective

There is no doubt that marketing your company takes money. You need to fuel your business with real dollars in order to see real results. Digital marketing has slowly become the new norm in terms of how to market your company in the real world.

Digital marketing is a cost-effective alternative to other forms of marketing. When you include targeted digital marketing campaigns, you can save money. Once you determine who your target audience is you can tailor your campaigns and advertisements to be seen by a select few.

For example, a small business can utilize the power of social media in minutes. You can easily run an ad on Instagram where your targeted audience will see your ad show up on their feed based on advanced targeting measures you determine.

This can cost a small business anywhere from $5-$500. The engagement with the ad will be much higher than even the results created from expensive television and radio ads. You will be able to target your ideal buyers in no time.

2. Digital Marketing Hones in on Customer Loyalty

Another strength to note with the benefits of digital marketing includes the development of customer loyalty.

One customer purchasing clothing from your online retail website is the first step in the right direction. Sales are obviously important to you as a small business owner who needs to make revenue to keep the business going.

However, it’s also crucial to hone in on the value with customer loyalty. You want that same customer to return again and again and even spread the word about why she loves shopping on your site in comparison to your competition, right?

Customer loyalty is another aspect of digital marketing that you can work on growing. The digital marketing strategies used by small businesses to grasp the concept of customer loyalty continue to show impressive results.

Turning one customer into a loyal customer is possible with digital marketing. How do you accomplish this? Create a reputation for having great customer service. If you have a huge following on Instagram or even Facebook, be sure to constantly check your direct messages to respond to your customers that way!

Speaking of social media messages, always respond to comments on your posts and engage with your audience!

3. Create a Global Outreach

Digital marketing gives you the opportunity to reach even more customers than you could ever dream of if you focused solely your local and traditional marketing channels.

Give digital marketing a chance because you can increase your customer base by implementing the right techniques to boost your following across the globe.

People living around the world could see your efforts as the Internet continues to be a means of communication to find new markets and explore larger audiences.

Social media marketing will give you the freedom to potentially expand your small business into these new global territories, too.

4. Your Customers are Waiting for You on Social Media

Don’t be afraid of social media! Even if you have an old company, you need to start creating an online presence to tap into the market you are missing out on right now.

With so many millions of people using their phones to purchase on a daily basis, you need to create a space to increase your sales online because over 2.4 billion people use social media platforms on a regular basis.

Encourage your customers to interact with you on social media, too. Offer them incentives to follow your social accounts. Giveaways are a huge way to gain new followers and grow your audience in an organic nature.

Social media has the potential to help you conquer your digital marketing goals once and for all. Of course, with the help of experts at Octopus Creative, you can achieve your goals in less time than you would on your own!

5. SEO Optimizes Your Content

There is no point in spending hours of your time and hundreds of dollars producing content if nobody sees it.

SEO, search engine optimization, is another excellent example of a digital marketing tool to assist you in your journey to grow your client base.

Here is how SEO works:

When a potential customer uses Google to make a search for “fall boots” the top results are shown. You need to incorporate keywords into your content found on your website to boost your ranking according to Google.

Once you channel some important SEO rules into your posts, you will see your ranking improve over time.

It’s difficult to make your retail store show up on the first page without implementing any of the powerful and effective SEO techniques necessary to improve your local SEO rank.

Talk to the professionals at Octopus Creative Inc. for more guidance with SEO related strategies.

6. The Benefits of Digital Marketing Drive Sales

The proof is in the sales. It’s seen within your revenue streams. It’s also proven with the obvious signs of higher growth expectancy in your business.

You’re going to see much higher conversion rates once you begin practising the art of digital marketing. Digital marketing influences conversions as soon as you determine a targeted audience to attract.

These trackable results are set up to show you exactly how much money you have earned through digital marketing strategies put into action. You can see how much money one digital campaign has earned for you through your website analytics.

Tracking your web analytics, using Google analytics, for example, will show you real-time data that can guide you to understand what tactics work and what needs to be changed about your current campaigns for better outcomes in the end.

Why Not Take Advantage of the Benefits of Digital Marketing?

The benefits of digital marketing show you how important it is to consider adding these online strategies to your small or corporate business.

All six of these reasons are meant to prove the power behind creating social media platforms and utilize them to your advantage to draw in new targeted customers over time.

Interested in learning more about digital marketing? Submit a Marketing Discovery Form on our website to get in touch with us today.

8 Creative Marketing Strategy Examples That Will Inspire You

For marketers, creating a campaign can sometimes feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. How do you stand out when a single individual sees up to 5,000 ads a day?

Across the world, this concern has led to some innovative and creative marketing strategy examples.

Feeling lost? A bit underwhelmed about your campaign? Take a look at these eight creative marketing strategies for inspiration.

Creative Marketing Strategy Examples

Whether it’s in Canada or across the pond, marketing agencies have created some unusual and unique ideas to gain attention.

1. Google’s Pop-Up Donut Shops

Last year across the US, citizens began noticing some strange shops popping up in their cities.

With the creation of the Google Home Mini, a smart speaker about the size of a donut, Google created donut shops around the US. Visitors entered, rang a bell, asked the Google Home Mini a question, and received a box from a conveyor belt.

Inside the box, they would be given either a free donut or a Google Home Mini. The action caught worldwide attention and was splashed across the international news.

2. Anthon Berg’s Generous Store

In a similar manner, another pop-up store gained national attention back in 2012. In Copenhagen, Anthon Berg’s Generous Store opened for a single day. During that day, customers could purchase chocolate for good deeds.

Users would select a good deed for their chocolate, then post the deed on social media as “payment” at a later date.

The campaign reiterated core company values and reconnected their brand with the idea of generosity.

3. Verizon’s Augmented Reality Treasure Hunt

Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt?

Although technology has been used many times in the past to bolster a campaign, Verizon took marketing a step further with this promotion.

Utilizing the same method that made Pokemon Go so popular, Verizon reached out to thousands of customers through cells. Customers in participating cities in America could scan a code that would provide a series of clues. The clues would lead to the ultimate “treasure”: an iPhone 8.

Or at least the sweepstakes for one…

4. Coca-Cola’s Small World Machines

Across the globe, Coca-Cola impressed us again with its marketing prowess, this time in a new use of vending machines.

Relations between India and Pakistan have never been overly positive, but in keeping with one of its core messages, Coca-Cola managed to bring citizens from these two nations together to share in small bits of happiness. Vending machines equipped with state of the art webcams were integrated into malls in each nation.

In order to get a free drink, users had to connect with participants from the other country. A Pakistani citizen would approach the machine and see whoever was on the “other side” in India. The machine would ask them to join hands, trace together or complete other tasks.

The reward was a fresh drink.

For years, Coca-Cola has been famous for its efforts at joining communities, which sometimes resulted in campaigns that reached across nations and ethnicities. In holding true to that company value — and their brand of happiness — they continue to gain attention through their marketing endeavours.

5. Game of Thrones’ Dragon Shadow

Consistency is the key to successful branding and marketing. It fosters brand recognition and illustrates stability, a promise that the company is maintaining its efforts on what it has demonstrated before. Humans learn to associate images with specific emotions, and you want yours to be positive.

Utilizing this idea to their advantage, the marketing specialists for Game of Thrones decided to spread their image in a place where many would see it: The New York Times newspaper. When readers opened up their typical morning paper in February of 2013, they were met with a sprawling dragon shadow that tinted parts of their articles a light grey.

A few days later, the silhouette appeared again, this time on the side of a building. Within days, you could find images of the silhouette all across the internet.

Not only did the marketing team maintain a consistent image throughout this campaign, but they also utilized integrated marketing communications to its fullest extent, reaching large audiences across different channels and letting them spread the word further.

6. Octopus Creative Inc.’s Co-Op

How do you persuade owners in two Co-ops to vote for an amalgamation with the other? By creating a slamming slogan that’s simple, effective and–as the folks at Octopus Creative put it–sexy. The campaign slogan was dubbed “Better Together.”

Using simplicity and positive connotations, the slogan was effective. And with interactive advertising that reached a trading area of more than 280 kilometres, it was ultimately successful. Both Co-ops had over 90% of voting owners agreeing to the amalgamation.

Talk about success!

7. Poo Pourri

It’s exactly what it sounds like, and the Poo Pourri marketing campaign is an excellent example of video and humour used correctly. Without the restrictions of television-based advertising, this marketing campaign was free to run wild on YouTube and social media, and the crass, all-too-true humour it utilized about feces and its associated smell went viral.

This promotion also had a specific target audience (young women who “don’t poop”), but it appealed to a cultural norm known throughout the world. Further, it offered a solution for an issue everyone experiences. As a result, people were all too happy to share the videos and product with others.

Talk about bringing something refreshingly new to the table – or, perhaps, the toilet.

8. Half.com, Oregon

In one of the most unique twists on marketing we’ve ever seen, Half.com put itself on the map – literally. In 1999, Halfway, Oregon announced it would be changing its town name to Half.com, Oregon.

In an effort to make itself heard, the startup company offered a package deal to the town to foster its economy. In return, Half.com became the first ever dot.com city in US history.

Bringing Creativity to the Forefront

From viral videos about poop to pop-up stores everywhere, creative marketing strategy examples that work aren’t difficult to find.

Are you inspired yet? You should be. After all, each one of these campaigns began with someone who was ready to be bold and innovative, someone just like you.

If you’re ready to take a dip into otherworldy marketing, read our article about interactive content. You’ve gotten the inspiration; now, it’s time to spark your ambition to create a marketing campaign the world will never forget.

The Blog Slog: 5 Key Benefits of Content Marketing for Your Business

 

Believe it or not, nearly half of all small and medium-sized businesses don’t have a website. Even those that do build a site, get it up and running, never to look at it ever again. If they never explore the benefits of content marketing, they’ll never know what kind of brand presence they could be missing out on.

Here are 5 of the biggest benefits to content marketing.

1. More Content for Your Site

While it seems pretty obvious, having more content on your site brings a boatload of benefits. One of the biggest ones has to do with how long you keep customers around.

When you’ve got one article that links to three other related articles, you give your visitors an opportunity to learn more from you. As you build the amount of on-site content you can offer, you keep them around. If each article also aims to make visitors familiar with your brand, the longer visitors stay on your site, the more excited they’ll be about your products.

If you offer great content, your users will be excited to share links to your writing with friends. Your blog could be a pretty powerful tool in your promotional belt if you use it wisely.

2. Improved SEO

If you’re still new to SEO, you need to get hip to how it works. Search engines use a variety of criteria in their algorithm to decide what makes one website a better match for your search over another. Search Engine Optimization is the name for the variety of choices you make to position yourself toward the top of the list.

SEO can help to increase profit by bringing higher quality traffic to your site. If your blog uses important SEO elements, like keywords, location identifiers, and lots of reputable links, you’ll rank highly on search engines.

Search engines also privilege domains that update their site often. If you add lots of content based on frequently asked questions and issues your users might have with your competitors’ products, you could see traffic spike. The more often you talk about the subjects that are most important to your clients, the more often you’ll appear in search results.

Multiple search result rankings give you an added boost in perception.

The higher quality your content is, the higher your domain authority will be. When you use those reputable external sources and get links from other reputable sites, the people who click your links will come with an initial respect for you. They will know that you’re in the same league as the other sites they know and trust.

3. A Better Social Media Presence

One of the most important ways to reach out and connect with your audience now is through social media. People using social media like to see that the brands and companies that they know and trust have real people working for them. Some brands are taking this to the extreme and building unique voices around their company on social media.

When you write quality content on your blog, you create opportunities for people to share your writing. The more often people see links to your site on their feed, the more they’ll begin to trust your brand. They’ll start following you on social media, giving you more opportunities to connect with them.

Add social media buttons and links to previous posts throughout your blog and you’ll find that your circle of followers will grow. Your new followers will share your articles and continue to spread news and information about your products while you focus on other aspects of marketing.

4. More Conversions

Getting users to your site and to your blog is only the first step in the sales process. This is where they enter your sales funnel and open up the opportunity to pitch your products. If you deliver the goods on your blog, you’ll eliminate the time it takes to turn a curious visitor into the regular client.

Your blog can inform and help your readers with common problems they have. To generate content, you should make a list of the 20 most common questions you get asked about products and services in your industry. Likely, these will be the questions potential clients will type into search engines.

When you answer their questions, giving your products and services as a solution, you can pitch while you inform. Your blog will be tactfully selling your clients on your latest products and services without hitting them over the head. When you provide quality information to go along with your sales pitches, you’ll win trust from people across your industry.

Building a reputation is difficult but if you’re giving helpful and informative material, you’ll be offering value before you even ask your clients to open their wallets. People will think highly of any brand willing to offer a lot beyond their own personal gain.

5. Build Connections With Other Brands

Every company is looking to build a network of other businesses and owners to connect their products to. If you’re in the health and wellness industry, for example, there are surely lots of other brands you’re not in competition with at all. A yoga studio and a natural skin care brand can work together without stepping on each others’ toes.

If you’re willing to broaden the amount of information that your blog has to offer, you can ask to trade guest posts with other brands. Otherwise, you can talk about your experience with their products and ask that they talk about their experience with yours.

Guest posting gives you the opportunity to write sincere promotional material about products and services that your customers would also enjoy.

The Benefits of Content Marketing Go On

Beyond these 5, you’ll find that the benefits of content marketing will pop up over time. You’ll see more people coming to you based on something they read, more people linking to you, and more traffic that turns into sales.

If you’re looking to get those newly converted customers to write reviews, check out our guide for more info.