Making Up for Lost Time: How Younger Consumers Are Spending Their Summers

What Gen Y and Z are doing and how performance marketers can reach them where they are

As the world continues to open up, marketers are rethinking how they connect with and engage Gen Y and Z consumers, many of whom have been cooped up for the last 16 or so months.

Summer is looking very different for Gen Y and Z consumers right now. Now aged 13 to 39, these generation groups are spending more time with their families, taking outdoor hikes, enjoying time off from school and hanging out with their friends. For entertainment, they’re going to the movies, taking vacations and watching summer sports.

According to a recent YPulse survey, Gen Y and Z are doing more of all of these things as the nation continues to emerge from the global pandemic. For example, 80% of the under-40 set is spending time with family this summer (up from 66% in 2020), 62% are enjoying barbecues (versus 41% last year) and 60% are going to the beach or pool (36% in 2020).

“Summer 2020 was shaped by the pandemic,” YPulse points out. “And while there has been uncertainty around whether ‘normal’ would make a return this year, [our] data shows that young people are planning to get out and make up for lost time this summer.”

Meeting them where they are
Tired of only being able to socialize via mobile phone or Zoom, Gen Y and Z want to get outside, hike, explore the mountains and take a dip in the ocean. As they get back to experiencing some of life’s simple pleasures, they’re also spending more time with friends and family.

“Everyone’s been stuck inside for months, so we want to get outside. It’s not necessarily about doing a big activity; we just want to get out,” said one 20-something Hawthorne employee who shared her thoughts with me for this article. With TikTok as a favored social channel, she says she’s been seeing more targeted ads on that platform plus more billboards and signpost stickers popping up around her town.

Here are four more avenues that marketers can explore as they attempt to pin down their Gen Z and Y audiences this summer:

Social media ads. The TikTok “For You” pages feature continuous, scrolling videos that feature subtle ads made to look like other TikToks. Viewers may not realize they’re watching an ad until they’re halfway through it. Snapchat stories takes a similar approach, but using articles that people can read by clicking through to them, while Instagram stories include sponsored feeds—also subtle and not as noticeable for viewers.

Music to their ears. Streaming music services like Spotify, Apple and YouTube also present opportunities for marketers, knowing that Gen Z’ers heading to a beach barbecue will probably take along a speaker with them. With audio ads, marketers can reach active listeners on any device, in any environment, throughout the day. That’s because the ads are served up between songs, while there are no distractions.

Geotargeting. The delivery of different content to visitors based on their geolocations, geotargeting helps companies reach Gen Y and Z consumers when they are out and about. If they’re gathered around a firepit set up in a restaurant’s outdoor seating area, for example, these youngers are constantly checking their phones and social feeds. The group that plans to hit the beach within the next few days may need new beach towels, umbrellas or coolers for the outing. Using geotargeting, marketers can hit them while they’re making plans and writing up their shopping lists.

Video games. They may be heading outdoors, but Gens Y and Z still love their video games. This presents an opportunity for marketers to create in-app ads on the popular gaming platforms. According to Deloitte’s 2021 Digital Media Trends survey, Gen Z consumers say video games are their top entertainment activity, with 87% of them playing video games on a daily or weekly basis. “Video games were already growing significantly before Covid-19, but have been amplified during the pandemic,” Deloitte points out. “Many are playing daily to fill idle time, connect with friends, compete with opponents and escape into stories.”

Rethinking connections and engagement
As the world continues to open up, marketers are rethinking how they connect with and engage Gen Y and Z consumers, many of whom have been cooped up for the last 16 or so months. And while the national vaccine rollout is still in full swing, and the worldwide impacts of the pandemic have yet to subside, individuals are looking to make up for lost time this summer. For marketers, it’s the perfect opportunity to meet consumers where they are and give them valuable information, content and products that they’re hungering for.

8 ways to improve your business’s social media presence and enhance audience engagement

Social media has become a crucial component of nearly every business’s overall marketing strategy. While sharing high-quality content is crucial, the best social media strategies aren’t one-way message boards. Rather, businesses must also interact with their audience, allowing customers to get a glimpse of the real people behind the brand as well as to share their own insights and experiences.

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If you can build mutually beneficial relationships with the members of your social media audience, they will build a real connection with your brand. To improve your company’s social media engagement, try these eight tested strategies recommended by the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust.

1. Tag other accounts.
Comments and tagging other people to bring them into the conversation is a great way to drive engagement. Tagging others is a direct way to ask for a response and to build interactions. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

2. Post challenging content.
Create intelligent posts. Even if you have a brand voice that appeals to a young audience, it’s not wise to judge that they will not be interested in “intelligent stuff.” Posts that are challenging, such as smart and tricky questions, can catch the attention of any audience, add the element of change and do not look promotional. – Alina Clark, CocoDoc

3. Target problems and solutions.
Targeting key problems and engaging in real-time solutions is a great way to increase engagement. Combined with storytelling and real human experience, the social part of “social media” can become three-dimensional and interactive. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

4. Highlight the content author.
Use images that spotlight the content author. Instead of just adding a link to an article that may bring up a generic image, take the time to create social cards with the author’s picture, name and company, as well as the title of the article. This helps break through the clutter and showcases the author and the brand. – Parna Sarkar-Basu, Brand and Buzz Marketing

5. Work to spark interest and curiosity.
When I’m trying to deliver a message, I try to get my point across through my words or actions. On social media, you’re trying to spark a desire in the listener — to get them to say, “That’s interesting,” “That’s thoughtful” or “I’m curious.” Social media is exactly what its name implies — a social platform. Compared to an onsite or in-person presentation, we can be more creative and engage tens of thousands of people on social media. – Timothy Haluszczak, SteelBridge Labs

6. Respond in real time.
The best way to interact with your social media audience and facilitate engagement is to be active and respond in real time. Don’t just “set it and forget it.” – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

7. Encourage audience-generated content.
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, it’s important to encourage two-way communication. Contests are a great way to interact with your customers — for example, they can share photos showcasing how your company or product helps them. This valuable user-generated content allows you to build brand evangelists who can recommend your products and services to those outside of your existing network. – Melea McRae, Crux KC

8. Publish interactive, collaborative posts.
Collaborative posts, such as surveys or contests, pull a lot of engagement, especially when they’re based on a trending subject. Also, ask for expert influencers to collaborate on an article to reach a bigger network. – Donna Michaels, LMGPR

7 common mistakes to avoid with customer relationship management systems

A customer relationship management (CRM) system is a useful tool to help organizations manage their relationships and interactions with their audience. However, effective customer relationship management takes more than just purchasing a CRM system. Companies must also remember the human piece of the puzzle, then develop a strategy accordingly.

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Below, the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share seven common mistakes leaders may be making with their customer relationship management, and what they should be doing instead. Follow their tips to improve your overall CRM strategy.

1. Ignoring the full customer journey
A good CRM is way more than a contacts database. Start by identifying the customer journey from contact to close. Then create smart lists and targeted content marketing to promote along that journey; for example, when someone fills out a contact form, a newsletter that includes personalized case studies can be sent automatically. Then, direct the consumer to other content that aligns with their needs. – Todd Marks, Mindgrub

2. Making communications one-sided
CRMs are invaluable tools and can enhance your relationship significantly but you can’t forget to actually make the relationship a two-way engagement. Don’t leave it at you simply sending out automated communications. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

3. Not updating your CRM data
It’s important to constantly update the data in your CRM system to ensure you have the correct contact information for your customers and that your messaging is reaching them. If you have a lot of contacts but they are not current, your CRM system will be null and void. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

4. Not focusing on engagement
Engagement is key. A CRM is a great way to automate engagement. Ensuring staff is versed and fluent in client dialog with a useful tool will circumvent side steps with technology that is underutilized. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

5. Investing in a tool that is hardly used
We often become very excited about new tools but then we fail to use them regularly. Before making a monetary and time commitment to a new product, have an honest and open talk with your team on whether the product will really be used. Tools can make a world of difference but not if people are going to continue working as they always have. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

6. Failing to set metrics
Leaders often fail to set metrics to evaluate the data they receive, which is one of the biggest mistakes they make while executing customer relationship management. To analyze the data properly and get their strategies right for the future, they should first define success and establish metrics for all areas – Alina Clark , CocoDoc

7. Losing sight of your customers
Do not lose sight of the fact that the C in CRM stands for customers. Often companies are focused on creating a database but the core is the customer! – Donna Michaels, LMGPR

11 simple but effective ways leaders can boost employee satisfaction

One of the essential secrets of a successful business is having a team of happy, engaged employees. When your team members feel enabled and appreciated at work, they’re not only more likely to stay with your company for a longer period, but they’re also more productive and closely engaged with projects and clients. Further, happy team members can be the best ambassadors for your business out there.

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However, your team members’ enthusiasm won’t grow without deliberate effort on your part. Leaders must take the time to understand their workers, what motivates them and what they need to thrive. If you’re looking for effective ways to boost your employees’ satisfaction, try these 11 strategies recommended by the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust. These smart tactics are sure to help your team members feel more welcome and cared for.

1. Listen, respond and implement.
Taking the time to listen to your team’s questions, thoughts and ideas is important, but even more important is responding to their questions, thoughts and ideas. Explain why an idea will or will not work or why it can or cannot be implemented. If you like an idea, implement it, and give your team member the credit. – Zane Stevens, Protea Financial

2. Clearly communicate expectations.
It is critical for leaders to be approachable and communicate their expectations clearly. A relationship built on trust yields mutual respect, and colleagues are given a platform to vocalize ideas and concerns while you have the opportunity to listen reflectively. Employees want to be heard, appreciated and valued — often, recognition matters more than money. – Justin Livingston, Reflektions Ltd.

3. Pay attention to what motivates each employee.
I discovered early on that each person is motivated differently. It can take the form of a paycheck, a position title or more family time. There are ways to discover someone’s personal motivator. One of my best successes was meeting my office manager pouring himself a cup of coffee one morning and asking why he wasn’t at his son’s championship ballgame. He was gone in two minutes, and I had learned his motivator: flextime. – Corine Prieto, Integrated Geophysics Corp.

4. Offer opportunities to grow.
Provide employees opportunities to achieve their dreams and goals. Training and development opportunities, stretch goals, or putting their skills to use in unique ways engages employees and helps with satisfaction. And when they know that you want them to achieve their goals — even if ultimately it has them leaving your company — they’ll be far more committed in the present. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

5. Provide some fun perks.
A great way to keep employees focused and productive throughout the day is to provide them with an exemplary office atmosphere. Whether it’s having free snacks and beverages available for a midday pick-me-up, games such as shuffleboard for a quick brain break, or a quality coffee maker, office amenities allow employees to feel at home while boosting their productivity and focus throughout the workday. – Matt Haiker, Q Consulting

6. Stay personally engaged.
I engage with my employees throughout the day to check in. When I arrive in the morning, I greet everyone. When I’m stressed and need to take a walk, I ask how everyone is feeling or doing. My goal is to have my finger on the pulse of the business — both on the metrics of running the business as well as the people working inside the business. – Timothy Haluszczak, SteelBridge Labs

7. Share praise publicly.
The adage “Praise publicly and offer feedback privately” is important to follow to keep morale up and employees engaged. In today’s virtual world, continuously shift and add engagement activities and tools your employees can use to stay connected and have fun. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

8. Listen to what your employees aren’t saying.
Successful leadership requires a keen ear for hearing both what is said and what is unsaid. Creating a happy, engaged work environment requires attentiveness to all parts of communication — even what is not being said. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

9. Design incentives around individuals.
Find out what motivates your employees on an individual level. Too often we assume that what motivates us will motivate someone else, but we are all different. Design your incentive systems around what motivates your team individually and find ways to reward each person in a way that is truly personal. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

10. Implement training programs.
Employees’ satisfaction can be boosted by adding various developmental and training programs. In today’s world, digital tools are widely used by all businesses, but sometimes the employees aren’t quite familiar with them. Introducing proper educational programs can not only increase efficiency but also reduce the initial hustle for employees. – Alina Clark, CocoDoc

11. Ask for their input.
Seek input, not blind following. Every policy, procedure and practice can benefit from outside input. Who better to provide that input than the folks charged with implementing those policies? – Christine Durrett, Durrett & Kersting PLLC

Seven little-known secrets to good B2C outreach

In today’s e-commerce landscape, there’s more competition than ever for business-to-consumer companies. Customers have near-infinite options on how and where to spend their time online as well as multiple choices when it comes to most products and services. The leaders of a B2C company must develop effective strategies to both reach their target audience and persuade consumers to choose them rather than a competitor.

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While most companies prioritize keeping up with the latest marketing trends, there’s more to building strong customer relationships than placing clever ads. Below, seven members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their best B2C outreach secrets. Follow their advice to stand out from the competition and engage with your customers.

1. Show your true self on social media.
After seeing all those clever ads, people still need to know who you truly are. Social media is a powerful tool in this regard. Customers want to know who they are doing business with, and they want to feel comfortable with that person or brand. Show them your real self. – Kris Lindahl, Kris Lindahl Real Estate

2. Respond to comments, messages and reviews.
Connection is at the core of successful businesses. In today’s digital world, social media presents a unique opportunity to build relationships, loyalty and trust with your customers by maintaining an open, two-way conversation. Be sure to respond to comments, messages and reviews on social media for a personal touch that humanizes your company and inspires a sense of transparency. – Melea McRae, Crux KC

3. Build a community forum.
Creating a strong community forum or a customer council for continuous feedback is a foolproof solution. Providing customers with early access to new products can help you eliminate a host of problems before you bring a new product to market. – Donna Michaels, LMGPR

4. Treat your prospects like human beings.
If you’re focused on building a strong relationship with your prospects, you must treat them like human beings. Present yourself and your business as a solution to the pain points of your customers. – Alina Clark, CocoDoc

5. Provide exceptional solutions.
An exceptional solution to your customer’s problem is an easy and efficient method for building lasting relationships. Customers will inherently want to engage and trust an organization that helps them solve their problems. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

6. Define your brand’s impact on consumers.
To achieve brand loyalty, a brand or product must truly make a positive impact on consumers — for example, by making their lives easier in some fashion. The ultimate goal is the lifetime value of the customer. You want them to return over and over and also become an ambassador for your brand, singing your praises to other consumers in their network. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

7. Encourage customer reviews.
To build relationships with new and existing customers through marketing, don’t forget Google customer reviews. New and existing customers of your business utilize internet search constantly to validate or discover a vendor. Carefully building your business’s Google customer reviews and rating is one of the least expensive and most powerful ways to build trust. – Jason Dunn, DACS Asphalt & Concrete

Six critical strategies for defining your B2C company’s target audience

Identifying, understanding and targeting the right audience for your product or service is key for a business-to-consumer company to be successful. However, the group B2C company leaders think is their target audience may not actually be the primary consumers of their product.

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This misunderstanding can be especially prevalent in B2C startups — entrepreneurs often focus first on what they do rather than who, specifically, will most value or benefit from it. Further, your customer base is unlikely to remain static. As your business grows and your offerings expand or change, your customer base may evolve accordingly.

Defining your target audience is an ongoing effort for every B2C company. It’s a process that not only drives marketing and outreach but also product development, customer service and more. If you’re searching for ways to define the core customer base for your B2C business, leverage these six strategies shared by the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust.

1. Ask them directly.
There’s no better way to understand your core audience than to ask them directly. Identify and survey customers who have left positive reviews for your business to understand their background, pain points and experience — this will help you build a “sweet spot” persona. By engaging your brand advocates, you can build brand evangelists and gain a deeper understanding of your audiences. – Melea McRae, Crux KC

2. Conduct in-depth market research.
Research, report and rapidly respond. There are many custom research houses, universities and agency options. Ensuring the data is gathered and shared in a timely fashion is very important. If you slip past 30 days, the market could change again. – Donna Michaels, LMGPR

3. Track competitors’ sales.
Tracking the sales of competitors can help you learn about the audience you should focus on. It will also help you distinguish your brand from theirs and create a certain presence in the market. If a competitor is doing well, try to identify their pros and cons and develop solutions that address what they aren’t offering. This process will automatically land you the audience you’ve been looking for. – Alina Clark, CocoDoc

4. Track down brand advocates and influencers.
There’s no substitute for research. Have your team go to where sales are happening and speak with customers. Create a profile of a typical buyer; putting a name and face to data helps keep everyone focused. Perhaps most important, consider who the third-party advocates and social influencers for your products and services are. They’re often the best source of future revenue and feedback. – John Palter, Palter Sims Martinez PLLC

5. Take a ‘boots on the ground’ approach.
Question, ask and question. A “boots on the ground” approach will likely reveal your true audience and uncover their problems and pain points. There are never too many questions — just too few answers. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

6. Do an ROI analysis.
Do an ROI analysis to make sure that your target audience is indeed the audience that is purchasing your product, not just those who are clicking through without taking final action. Ensure you are spending any paid marketing on the audience that generates ROI. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

11 leaders’ tips for bringing your team back into the office

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020, many businesses were rapidly thrust into work-from-home arrangements. While some companies plan to stay remote for the long haul, others may want — or need — to bring their employees back into the office, whether full-time or as part of a hybrid working arrangement.

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Many professionals have developed a preference for remote work, and others may be anxious about safety, family care and other issues. This can make transitioning back to in-office work tricky. It’s up to leaders to develop a plan that balances company and employee needs as well as to guide their teams through the transition. To help, 11 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their top tips to help leaders return to in-person operations.

1. Determine what work must be done in person.
Review what work requires in-person collaboration and what can be done remotely. When possible, a hybrid model of remote and in-person work will help support a healthy work-life balance in the near future. If work output drops, then create a plan for in-person re-engagement. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

2. Be aware of your team members’ circumstances.
Make your expectations and timelines clear. Some will welcome the return; others will be hesitant. Be mindful of the varied situations and opinions throughout your organization and be thoughtful in how you communicate your plans. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

3. Be flexible and honest.
Listen, and be flexible and honest about what you need your people to do. Let your team know how you are feeling and be honest with them — including the good, the bad and the ugly. Consider what your clients need, what your people need and what the business needs, then provide a safe environment where people are happy to speak up and express what they need to do their job to the best of their ability. – Joanna Swash, Moneypenny

4. Understand people’s personal challenges.
The pandemic has taught business leaders the importance of flexibility. As you welcome employees back to the office, be open and understanding of each employee’s personal challenges and comfort level at work so you can make reasonable accommodations. It’s important that employees feel supported and safe as they readjust, and employers who provide that will be rewarded with happy and loyal employees. – Melea McRae, Crux KC

5. Foster open and clear communication.
Remember your strength lies in the individuals who make up your team. Each member may experience a range of emotions, and these need to be managed sensitively. Foster open and clear communication of expectations. When we began the process of coming back to the office, we met with remote workers in groups of three to four to discuss concerns and next steps and then began to slowly ramp up our return to the workplace. – Scott Young, PennComp Outsourced IT

6. Talk to each team member individually.
Once you get the temperature of the team, make decisions and move forward. In some situations, making accommodations will work; in others, it won’t. Ultimately, you have to do what is best for the business. – David Sprinkle, Veritas Recruiting Group

7. Listen to employees’ fears.
Assure employees that you’ve taken the necessary precautions recommended by the CDC to clean offices and provide spacing. The goal is to get back to normal. If the new normal is remote work, then embrace it. However, I think interaction among employees sparks creativity and friendships and boosts the overall satisfaction of working for a company. – Timothy Haluszczak, SteelBridge Labs

8. Make the transition gradual.
Do not bring on the change all at once — an attempt to get all employees back to the office at the same time might cause disruption and unanticipated challenges. Decide which teams most need to be in the office and proceed with a stepwise process of shifting back. Some employees might be very comfortable working at home, and a sudden change might perplex them. – Alina Clark, CocoDoc

9. Schedule in-person collaborative time for big issues.
If businesses learn nothing else from managing in the face of a pandemic, it’s that face-to-face collaboration can’t be understated. As companies push for employees to return to the office, it’s worth scheduling in-person collaborative time on the big issues. Just as important is allowing people to work a few days a month from home, reducing stress and potentially increasing productivity. – John Palter, Palter Sims Martinez PLLC

10. Be gentle.
We are all in this together, but we aren’t all processing at the same pace. Humans perform best when we are happy. Even if synergy is best in person, a slow and easy pace for re-entry will allow everyone to adapt successfully within their own time horizon. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

11. Take it slow.
The tip that I would offer leaders is to go slowly — don’t try to welcome everyone back into the office full time at once. Select teams to start the transition and slowly get to full capacity. Additionally, ensure that all of the appropriate safety precautions are in place. – Jerry Ramos, Ramos Consulting, LLC

16 Smart Marketing Approaches To Build Brand Recognition

If people don’t know about your brand or what it has to offer, your business won’t be able to grow and thrive. With so many channels available to help companies reach potential customers these days, though, it can be challenging to figure out the best way to create brand recognition.

Distributing key information through social media channels, your website and other outlets can help you build connections with consumers, making them aware of what your company stands for and what it can offer them. However, having a clear strategy is the secret to establishing that awareness.

Here, 16 members of Forbes Agency Council share their best tips for making your brand more visible and recognizable.
Forbes Agency Council

1. Define Your Brand Voice And Use It

Brand voice is often overlooked when building brand recognition; emphasis is usually placed on the visuals and catchy slogans that can become instantly recognizable. But when you get down to the nitty-gritty of web copy, social posts, email marketing and blogs, brand voice is where you can really shine. Defining your brand voice and using it consistently will help build familiarity among your audience. – Patricia Rioux, Team ODEA

2. Align Real-Time Messages With Their Stage Of Discovery

Brands need to remember that they are trying to get noticed on different levels by different targets who are at various places in their discovery journeys (e.g., rejection, apathy, recognition, preference, loyalty). Looking for emotional and behavioral triggers while you have the data you need to target and deploy custom messages in real time and at the appropriate points on that journey is key to brand recognition – Ajay Gupta, Stirista

3. Put Data To Work In Crafting Customer Experiences

Brands need to put their data to work and help craft customer experiences that drive connection and loyalty. Chances are most marketers already have a trove of data that has barely been deciphered. Digging in and bringing in new solutions to help better understand your customers’ preferences, motivations and needs will not only create a better customer experience, but better financial results too. – Julian Scott, Shaw/Scott, Inc.

4. Focus On The Story And Culture Of Your Brand

Brand recognition is formed by connecting with your audience. How memorable is the story? Are you able to inspire? Are you able to support the fantasized lifestyle your target market is seeking? How does your product make people feel? How likely are consumers to tell others about your brand? – Logan Rae, Argon Agency

5. Go Big With Tested And Proven Media Outlets

Once you have tested media outlets and proven which ones are successful for garnering ROI for your media, go big and expand on those channels to capture brand awareness and recognition. If done properly, you should be able to build a brand while profitably expanding your media campaign. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

6. Build Credibility Through Public Relations

PR is the only path to credibility. Once you have credibility, you can amplify awareness and more easily conduct pull-through marketing campaigns. All three—PR, marketing and advertising—must be deployed properly to function together in the best way. – Christine Wetzler, Pietryla PR

7. Align What You Stand For With What You Are Offering

Your consumers need to believe in what your brand stands for—but before they can believe in it, you need to define it, understand it and make it known. Your cause should align with the products or services that you are offering, and your messaging needs to be authentic and come straight from the heart. – Bernard May, National Positions

8. Share A Cohesive Message In Multiple Formats

The old way of branding was to show the same message and creatives as many times as possible. With paid social, you need a cohesive message, but it requires multiple ad creatives to avoid getting penalized for low engagement. Ten different videos that have the same message will generally perform better than a single video shown ten times to the same user. – Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint

9. Distribute Engaging Content That Is Practically Useful

Content is still king. Consumption of content is at an all-time high. Your content is a direct translation of your brand values and what your company’s mission is in the space. The more engaging, practically useful content you have out there, the more people will reference your brand and recognize it. – Stefan Katanic, Veza Digital

10. Highlight Your Focus On Serving A Greater Cause

More than ever before, consumers are attracted to brands that stand for something greater. Use content and messaging to highlight your company’s focus on serving underprivileged communities, reducing your carbon footprint or paving the way for change. But remember to be authentic. Consumers are smart and will pick up on anything that doesn’t feel genuine. – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures

11. Attach Your Brand To Something More Recognizable

If you want to focus on brand recognition specifically, you need to develop something that helps people associate with your brand. Try branded content or work within your industry to attach your brand to something more easily recognizable. For example, being an event sponsor or participating in some act within your target industry may help with brand visibility. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

12. Post Fresh Content Where Your Audiences Spend Time

Find out where your audiences spend time online, such as on social media, YouTube, trade organizations’ websites, influencer websites, etc. Create branded content they’ll want to interact with and put it where they are. Keep doing it; the odds of them coming across a piece of your content are much higher if it’s fresh. Once you earn their trust as a brand, they’ll look for your content first the next time they search. – Megan Devine, d.trio marketing group

13. Bring Your Top Values To The Forefront

Building an image depends heavily on your company’s motivations. For instance, a real estate agency wants to use vibrant images of beautiful homes to represent their staging services and market expertise. Show, don’t tell; from social media to website content, use value statements to show your values. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions

14. Keep Taking A Thoughtful Omnichannel Approach

To build recognition and meet customers where they are, brands should continue taking an omnichannel approach through the right combination of digital channels and tactics. Look at the entire customer journey and identify what you can do at each step of the way to incorporate your brand in a thoughtful and meaningful way, not just to sell your services. – Laura Cole, Vivial

15. Tailor Messages For Each Channel Of Your Digital Real Estate

Claim all of your digital real estate and disseminate a message to fit each channel. These (mostly) free channels are great vehicles for you to drive awareness, visibility, credibility and trust. The amount of conversation and interaction they generate will help you influence how others perceive your brand. Lean into digital if you want to get out in front of your narrative. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

16. Establish Yourself As A Thought Leader Within Your Niche

Use your social platforms to share valuable content about your brand services. People like to interact with people; and if your brand represents itself as a person, as opposed to a company that sells products, it will impact your brand recognition in a positive way. – Jonas Muthoni, Deviate Agency

OK Boomer: How to Sell Online to Consumers Age 60 and Up

When the Baby Boom generation came of age in the U.S., it was the largest generational cohort in history. Boomers reshaped product marketing as the then-most-coveted consumer demographic and also as creatives who changed the advertising world. But the rise of the internet and even more populous cohorts shifted merchant focus to digital natives who buy online: Millennials and Gen Z.

Then 2020 happened, and the pandemic drove Boomers to embrace online shopping in droves. A study cited in The Washington Post says Boomers are now the fastest growing segment of online shoppers, spending 49% more online in 2020. Boomers also have the highest level of disposable income, and their brand loyalty makes online merchants newly eager to attract and retain them as customers. But how?

Find Boomers Online and Advertise Where They Are

While their Millennial children and Gen Z grandchildren might scoff at their digital chops, most Boomers are tech savvy and online, they’re just not on the same apps. For example, Millennials love Instagram, with almost 60% saying they are active users. Less than a quarter of Boomers are on Instagram, but nearly 60% are on Facebook, so marketers targeting Boomers should plan social outreach accordingly.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Boomers tend to index much higher for linear TV than younger generations do. That means ad buys on traditional network, cable and syndicated programming can effectively reach this demographic at scale more than campaigns that are focused on streaming media channels that demand higher CPMs. That said, 70% of Boomers are on YouTube and nearly a third use Pinterest, so campaigns on those channels can work if the content is relevant to

Another generational consideration to keep in mind is that while Boomers are definitely online and use their devices (desktops and tablets more often than phones) to conduct product research, they tend to rely on top search results rather than delving more deeply. So, paid search is a good strategy for reaching this group, as is raising page rankings organically.

Keep Boomer Customers When the Brick and Mortar World Reopens
Boomers are typically loyal customers if a brand meets their service expectations and offers good value. During the pandemic, familiar brands like Target and Walmart and many regional grocery chains capitalized on the shift to online buying by making the process as frictionless as possible for Boomers. The question now is, will Boomers resume their old shopping habits when the virus is under control?

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest they won’t. As one retail consulting firm CEO put it in The Washington Post article, “There’s going to be a lot more mixing and matching: ‘Maybe I want to go to the store to squeeze my own vegetables, but I’ll get non-perishables and dry goods delivered.’” So, how can retailers make sure their Boomer customers keep shopping online?

Digital offers and coupons can help. Like any other demographic, Boomers respond to bargains, and digital coupons and deals are a great way to engage shoppers at the top of the sales funnel. Boomers also tend to engage with longer-form content and print ads at higher rates than other generations, so those can be productive channels for digital coupons or offers, such as print ads with a QR code.

After the Boomer Business Boom
Retailers who sell 100% online and those who have brick and mortar stores that grew their online sales during the pandemic have something in common: both want to sustain the growth of ecommerce sales, which require less overhead. As a practical matter, that means retaining new customers who were first-time online buyers last year, many of whom will be Boomers.

Techniques that recreate the retail experience online can help merchants retain shoppers who are more accustomed to the in-person store experience. Online campaigns that drive in-store traffic can also work well. Digital video targeted to the Boomer demographic and delivered on frequently used channels can be an effective strategy, and continuing convenient offerings like curbside delivery can also help.

The pandemic showed that even a consumer group that was hesitant to fully embrace ecommerce would do so in huge numbers when they had to. Boomers remain a large, affluent and highly desirable customer segment. Millions of Boomers became online shoppers last year out of necessity, but soon it will be up to ecommerce retailers to earn their business when they have other choices.

Christian Jones
About the Author: Christian Jones is currently the Head of Marketing at Hawthorne Advertising and brings over 15 years of proven success in business development and sales, creative digital media, and technology to his role. His work has been nominated for Webby and Grammy Awards.

10 Innovative Ways Brands Can Leverage Facebook And Instagram Stories

Facebook and Instagram have been incredibly effective marketing channels for quite some time. Now, brands can also leverage the Stories feature on both platforms to create deeper connections with users. Stories often offer more interactive options than regular social posts, and companies can use this to their advantage by creating unique content that captures the attention of consumers as they scroll through their feed.

Forbes Agency Council

As with any social media marketing, coming up with a solid strategy is the key to seeing the strongest returns on investments in this particular area. When it comes to utilizing the Stories feature on either platform, brands have a wide spectrum of effective approaches to choose from. Here, 10 members of Forbes Agency Council explore some of the most innovative ways companies can leverage the content they share via Stories to better connect with consumers.

1. Maintain The ‘Human Touch’ To Make Stories More Approachable

The key to making the most of Stories is maintaining the “human touch.” With so many interactive features, such as polls, questions, custom stickers, etc., Stories can be more approachable and fun than an average post. You can also get away with toning down your brand voice and introducing a more laid-back vibe, while still delivering eye-catching and informational content. – Russ Williams, Archer Malmo

2. Use The Shopping Feature And Post Time-Sensitive Promotions

Instagram now allows brands to use a shopping feature on their Stories. It will let the audience see the product details and price, and if they press it, it will take them to the page on the website where they can purchase the product. Stories disappear after 24 hours, so brands can post time-sensitive content, such as promotions that their audience can’t miss. – Jonas Muthoni, Deviate Agency

3. Create Stories That Enhance Your Online Customer Relationships

If you think of Stories as an extension of the relationship you have with your customers on Facebook and Instagram, note the things that attract the most engagement on your pages. Use this information to create Stories that serve as “teaser” content to increase the fun factor or to show one aspect of your brand in a playful way. Or, cross-pollinate Clubhouse activity with your Instagram stories. Authenticity is key. – Megan Devine, d.trio marketing group

4. Use Paid Advertising To Extend The Reach Of Your Stories

One great way for a brand to leverage Facebook and Instagram Stories is to create and post vertical-friendly content as their Stories, then promote those Stories to larger audiences using paid advertising. In doing so, the brand’s Stories are not only available for longer than 24 hours, but can also then be shown to new, relevant demographics. – Jonathan Durante, Expandify Marketing Inc

5. Use Interactive Features To Gain Audience Insights

Stories are an effective way for brands to connect with their audiences in real time. Instagram and Facebook Stories have features that allow brands to gain insights directly from their followers. Try using tools such as polls, question stickers and quizzes to gain an understanding of your audience and immediate feedback on their preferences and insights. – Jason Wulfsohn, AUDIENCEX

6. Expand On Other Social Posts To Extend The Life Of Creatives

A Facebook or Instagram story can be used to expand on other social posts from the brand to extend the life of a single creative. If the original post is about an article, a story can highlight multiple text excerpts from the article with imagery to add more description. A story can also show a sequence that led up to the final image of the highlighted post and provide context and background. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

7. Let Influencers Collaborate On Or Take Over Your Stories

Stories are like a conveyor belt of content. What starts out as innocent scrolling through a friend’s content quickly turns into a steady flow of Instagram Stories and advertisements that can be viewed with just a swipe up. Influencer collaboration and takeovers are a great way to use Stories, along with polls and questions that encourage interaction. – Joe Gagliese, VIRAL NATION

8. Tell Unique Stories Through Carousel Ads

Using carousel ads in the Stories format on Facebook or Instagram is a great way to tell a unique story through three back-to-back images or videos. Businesses can use these to share three parts of a story or follow an “attention, benefit, action” format to increase performance. Story ads work amazingly because they appear in vertical format and take up the entire mobile phone screen, ensuring that the ad is seen. – Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint

9. Chop A Larger Piece Of Content Into Smaller Pieces

Take a larger piece of content and chop it into smaller pieces. For example, a recorded Facebook or Instagram Live stream could be chopped down into a Reel on Instagram, Stories on both platforms and even a regular News Feed post. As far as specific content for Stories, posting inspirational quotes, customer testimonials, quizzes, polls and other peoples’ relevant content can all work to create a solid narrative. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

10. Give Viewers A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Your Culture

Facebook and Instagram Stories offer a great way to show a behind-the-scenes look into what’s happening at the company. This will give viewers a look into your company culture and give them a sense of belonging and transparency. You can take it one step further and start your own company show on Stories with live streams. – Stefan Katanic, Veza Digital