The MadAveGroup Blog
Our series of blog posts featuring my answers to questions from the Forbes Agency Council continues. The focus this time is content creation.
Question: Two of content marketers’ biggest concerns are a lack of resources and fear they’re not creating enough content. What is one tip for overcoming limited time and resources to produce enough valuable content?
Answer: If you take a high-quality photo of an interesting scene, you can then create dozens of separate photos from it by cropping the image to highlight specific points of interest: the puffy cloud, the old building's texture, a close-up of the face. If you write an article that's rich with information, you can also "crop" it, repurposing bits and pieces for short-form videos, social and other channels.
Question: What is one valuable storytelling lesson you've learned that you can apply to content marketing?
Answer: I've learned to look into my own heart to develop content that resonates with people. Whether I'm working on behalf of a hospital, a tire retailer or any other company, I'm searching for the human and emotional side of the story. To consumers, the products in a category often seem identical, but a company's culture, values, and the buying experience it provides can be real differentiators.
Question: What is one feature of an effective explainer video?
Answer: Get that script down to the bone! Simple words. Short sentences. Put it all in an order that makes sense to the viewer. And, if possible, sprinkle in the audible equivalent of white space: silence. That gives your audience time to process what they just heard.
Question: From ad copy to emails, the ability to write well is an important skill for agency professionals. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Answer: There are two tips I figured out a long time ago and share all the time. 1) Get to the point! Respect your audience's time and deliver value and the promise of your title quickly. 2) Just because you say it, doesn't make it so. Support your claims with facts, testimonials and other information that gives readers reason to trust and invest in your words.
Now, an article at Time.com reveals why you should make a habit of writing and sending thank you cards to people.
“Saying thanks can improve somebody’s own happiness, and it can improve the well-being of another person as well - even more than we anticipate,” said Amit Kumar, the co-author of a study on the subject that was published in Psychological Science.
Over the years, we’ve suggested to a few of our clients that they send a thank you card to a customer each day - just one card; just one customer - and that they view it as part of their ongoing marketing efforts.
That methodical approach can produce as many as 365 unique, personal impressions each year; impressions that the card recipients will likely remember and maybe even share with others. Would that effect be worth just a couple of minutes of your time every day?
And now, we know that there’s an added benefit: you or the team member who writes and sends the cards gets to feel great about expressing gratitude, and that can help your employees derive more satisfaction from their work. (Imagine if EACH of your team members sent one thank you card per day!)
Keep it Simple
To make the thank you card writing process as easy and efficient as possible, consider these tips.
1) Purchase all your cards (or have them printed) in advance so you don’t have to search for new cards every few days. Buy the stamps up front, too. And keep all your supplies in one area so they’re easy to find.
2) If it helps, write five or six template messages based on different circumstances, and then use them in your cards. You might write a template for welcoming new customers, or a thank you for a positive review. Write an “I loved getting to meet you” note or a “thank you for buying a certain product” message. Then, personalize them as necessary.
3) Don’t put off a week’s worth of card writing ‘til Sunday night. Write and send one card every day to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the process, to provide a timely response to your interaction with the customer, and so you can put your best effort into each card.
Let us know if you need help writing your templates or designing and printing your thank you cards. And please tell us about the response you get, whether it’s from customers or the people you work with.
This post is the second in a series of articles that features my responses to questions put to members of the Forbes Agency Council. The theme again is brand.
Question: What is one thing brands should know when planning this year’s holiday campaigns?
Answer: Along with the benefits of your product, let your audience know what's convenient about ordering it, returning it, assembling it, even paying for it. Your holiday campaign will have to compete with a lot of other messages, and it'll run during a hectic time of year. Make purchasing your product more attractive to busy, distracted consumers by showcasing your quick and easy buying process.
Question: With so much noise in the marketing space, brand loyalty is paramount. What’s one way companies can increase brand loyalty?
Answer: You could be adding to the marketing noise if you're trying to be everything to everybody. By giving your audience too much to think about, you may be confusing them and preventing them from retaining a strong image of your brand. Determine what your core value is to consumers and find more ways to reinforce that specific value, rather than always introducing new topics into the conversation.
Question: If a company is considering a rebrand, what is one of the most important questions its executives should ask themselves before rebranding?
Answer: Will a re-brand endanger the brand equity you've built up over the years? If the changes you make are drastic, will your current customers embrace them? If not, then what? Is the potential lure of new customers strong enough to risk alienating or confusing your current base? Is it possible that polishing up your current brand elements would give you the best of old and new?
The window in this picture is next to the door of a county government office.
The staff's hope must be that customers will read each sign and learn the do's and don'ts of conducting business with this department before even walking through that door.
But the signs ain't workin'.
Over the years, I've seen literally thousands of people enter that office, and not one has even slowed down to glance at that collection of paper taped to the glass.
It's too much to take in. Never mind the inconsistent look and the negative tone of the messages that “welcome” you to this office. It's the sheer amount of information that's overwhelming and off-putting.
So, ask yourself if customers might be ignoring or even turned off by an over-abundance of your messaging.
- Does your website copy need to be simplified or better organized?
- Do you try to force too many details into your radio spots?
- Could your social content be more concise?
- Are you sending emails too frequently?
People are distracted. They're in a hurry, and their attention spans are shrinking. That means that too much of even the best content may be disregarded because it takes too long to read and process.
In the new year ahead, work to focus your message, wherever it may be. Make it as easy as possible for your audience to see, understand and remember your main point.
Many years ago, my wife Amy began her own tradition: she started sending cards to her friends and relatives just before Thanksgiving.
These are not early Christmas cards. In fact, the cards she buys never depict any type of holiday image or include a pre-written message.
Instead, she uses blank cards and writes a personal note to each of her loved ones, reinforcing how much they mean to her and how thankful she is to have them in her life.
A few days after the cards are sent, the phone starts ringing. Friends and family from around the country call to thank her for her thoughts and kind words.
These are people with kids and jobs and big holiday dinners to prepare, and yet, they stop what they’re doing to reply to a simple card with a 30-minute phone call.
Neither Amy nor I can recall a single response to the hundreds of Christmas cards we’ve sent over the years, so why do so many people respond to her “Thanksgiving” cards?
First, the timing. The cards are unexpected. They’re sent a good couple of weeks before the Christmas season really kicks in, so the recipients aren’t actively looking for a card the way they might on December 20th. In other words, her card is a nice surprise.
Secondly, everyone sends cards for Christmas, but because hers arrive so much earlier, they’re not “competing” for the recipient’s attention; their timing helps them stand out and contributes to their special quality.
Finally, it’s the nature of her cards. They’re not stamped with her signature. They’re not mass produced. Each one is hand-written. Personal. Genuine. They’re the kind of cards people save. And in sending them, she’s not looking for something in return. She’s simply reaching out to strengthen her relationships with the people who are important to her. Not hundreds of people. Just a few dozen.
So, are your 25 or 50 best clients worth a little more personal attention?
Is their long-term loyalty to you worth the time it takes to dream up new and valuable ways you can impact their lives and jobs? And not for what that may mean to you, but what it can do for them?
Do they deserve more face-to-face visits?
How are you letting them know that you're thinking about them and their needs throughout the year?
Are your sales and marketing efforts born of a genuine interest in helping your clients?
Just a few questions to ponder as you consider your company’s marketing efforts.
I was working with a copywriter a few months back, helping him develop some P-O-P content for a grocery store chain.
We were looking for a different angle on the store's produce department when an image of corn on the cob popped into my head.
Corn is a miracle, I remembered.
About eight years prior, I planted corn for the first time. With great anticipation, I pushed each seed about an inch below the dirt, covered them all with more dirt, and then watered my rows.
Within a week, the first signs of new life sprouted from the ground.
By the end of the summer, I was walking through stalks taller than me. And each one had real corn attached! It was thrilling.
All the beauty of my humble corn patch and all the corn it produced came from a little brown bag of dry seed dropped into dry dirt.
That's when I realized that corn is a miracle. A common, everyday miracle.
That understanding led to content that was different than “Hey, come buy our corn!” The message was about the abundance that we enjoy in this nation, and a reminder of just how lucky we are to have what we have.
And maybe, I thought, my words could help a few people enjoy their own moment of awe and appreciation.
From a marketing standpoint, that story always reminds me that there's more than one way to present a product or service to an audience.
As a human being, it reminds me that corn is far from the only miracle that we've been gifted with in this life.
In this season of miracles, I wish for you that realization every day.
You can use an everyday tool like voicemail to deliver personal marketing messages.
Watch this Marketing Minute video for a few quick tips, plus an idea on how to provide added value to those who call you.