13 Essential Marketing Tips For Preparing Your Fall Campaigns

Seasonal marketing is one of the most natural elements to leverage in a campaign. Summer serves as a perfect example, but as summer starts winding down and we’re entering fall, some businesses are slow to change gears.

You need to adopt a different mindset when transitioning your marketing between summer and fall. At the end of the summer, you should take stock of your goals and set new ones for your fall marketing, while making sure your approach reflects current realities and challenges.

Forbes Agency Council

Thirteen experts from Forbes Agency Council discuss how a business can transition between the summer and fall advertising periods, and offer tips on how to make that transition more seamless.

1. Don’t Be Tone-Deaf

When it comes to marketing, particularly during our current global pandemic, one mistake a lot of companies make is they don’t pay attention to or address what people are dealing with. Instead, they simply push their marketing agenda, which is not a good look. – Drew Gerber, Wasabi Publicity, Inc.

2. Build Brand Awareness Early

Start building brand awareness earlier than you think. Brands look to quickly scale revenue in the fall. Strong response rates driven by enticing offers mean that brands can acquire more customers efficiently. It’s imperative that brands have large brand-aware audiences to enable success and drive the scale they’re looking for. – Samir Balwani, Methods & Metrics

3. Plan In Increments

Be agile. When it comes to your fall marketing efforts, plan in short increments of time so you can be nimble, allowing quick adaptation and optimization. We are hardly out of the woods with the pandemic, so having a contingency plan should we go back to lockdown is critical. – Laura Cole, Vivial

4. Leave Room For Ad-Hoc Messaging

Always leave room for ad-hoc moments and messaging. Today’s world is ever-changing, and you want to stay relevant at all times. Create values and a purpose that is long term/evergreen, play with seasonality, but also leave that wiggle room to tap into current conversations and culture. The social media landscape is perfect for that. – Maddie Raedts, IMA – Influencer Marketing Agency

5. Make Sure You Have The Bandwidth

Bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth! Customer experience is always important but with likely significant increases in online activity, be sure that your website can handle increased traffic and purchases, beef up customer service including plans to support customers from home (do your employees have access to the tech and high-speed internet?), and — as always — have your marketing plan laid out in advance. – Chris Graham, Graham Advisory Network Inc.

6. Approach Each Campaign Individually

Make sure to approach each campaign as its own entity, regardless of its seasonality. The time of year isn’t the only thing that changes from campaign to campaign, especially in the times that we are currently living through. Every changing circumstance needs to be in consideration during the preparation stage. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

7. Plan Media In Advance

This fall will bring many changes such as a crowded political media marketplace and consumers who are navigating a nontraditional back-to-school season. Planning media in advance will be more important than ever to ensure you stay present in the consumer’s mind. As the marketing landscape continues to shift, businesses need to be agile to quickly adjust to a changing landscape and consumer needs. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

8. Adapt Your Purchasing Infrastructure

With COVID-19, consumer buying behaviors have changed dramatically. The mistake businesses may make is thinking that their customers will be purchasing from them in the same way and for the same reasons as before. One remedy is to adapt your purchasing infrastructure to be digitally focused based on specific customer behavioral patterns. – Roger Hurni, Off Madison Ave

9. Make Sure The Content Is Posted Early

If you plan to add seasonal content to your website, make sure it’s in place and indexable (meaning it can be found by Google) before starting your promotion. Manual indexing can take up to four weeks, and while it is possible to speed up the process by requesting indexing directly from Google, it still doesn’t guarantee new pages will show up immediately. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions

10. Keep Up With Current Trends

Be cognizant of the trends that are currently happening in these unprecedented times and be prepared to pivot your fall campaigns a few times. What you may think will work one week could potentially change based on what is happening in the world. The “new normal” is changing and marketing needs to change with that. – Warren Jolly, AdQuadrant

11. Be Clear On Past Successes And Failures

Be clear on the successes and failures of the year before and revisit the audience they are targeting to measure changes in attitudes and behaviors, new technologies and competitive values. Things change and agencies need to be on top of and ahead of those changes so they can help their clients be ahead and in sync with the shifts so they will be relevant to their target audience. – Pat Fiore, FIORE

12. Remember Not All Audiences Are The Same

It’s important to remember that not all your audiences are the same. There are some people that don’t know much about your business and others that adore your brand. Create marketing that captures interest from new prospects and also campaigns that provide rewards for your most loyal customers. – Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint

13. Reconsider Your Back-To-School Campaign

Think carefully before running the traditional back-to-school-themed campaign creative which may no longer resonate with your customers. School will not look the same for anyone this year, and many parents are keeping their kids at home for virtual learning or homeschooling. Some brands have already embraced this shift with “back to learning” messaging instead of “back to school.” – Keri Witman, Clever Lucy

14 Guidelines For Adapting To The Abruptly Changing Marketing Industry

As COVID-19 shifts the way the world functions, it is also shifting how advertising and marketing assets are created and implemented. People are spending more time at home and their needs have changed. Marketing professionals must adapt to this new normal and deliver campaigns that speak to consumers’ current experiences.

AdAge Collective

The members of Ad Age Collective understand the importance of embracing these changes, not just now, but in the future as the industry evolves. We asked 14 of them to share how their field is pivoting in the long term, and how they plan to find success in this new landscape.

1. Understand new consumer habits.
Adaptability is more important than ever. The current pace of change requires brands to be fast and flexible. When you take the essential first step to understand new consumer habits, only then can you adapt your advertising to reach people in ways that will meet their needs. Advertisers need to stay focused on the customer, even as they change, and find media partners who can help them do that. – Cathy Oh, Samsung Ads

2. Embrace the creative renaissance.
On the downside, the ad industry remains exclusive and has not embraced AI or employment trends as quickly as it should. On the upside, now that the technology plumbing that was needed to connect disparate media and creative systems and teams is now largely done and millennials and Gen Z are joining the ranks, we have entered a fantastic creative renaissance! – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

3. Use data insights as your North Star.
Unfortunately, leads are still the guiding light for a majority of companies today — but our buyers need more from us. As marketing evolves into the new normal, we’ll see more teams using data insights as their North Star to customer engagement. Marketers will start evaluating their pipeline and use critical buyer intent data to drive their revenue growth forward. – Latane Conant, 6sense

4. Know the unit economics of your capabilities.
Agencies have for years built out forward-looking capabilities on the guarantees of large AORs, often with new capabilities being loss leaders for a time. Given the month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter orientation of client spending in the current economy, agencies will need to understand the unit economics of specific capabilities and grow with an eye toward profitable near-term capabilities. – Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency

5. Seek out creatives who are authentic and multi-faceted.
The creative role is changing most. The required skill set has shifted radically. It used to be that the storytelling was done by folks with the craft and skills to make tiny movies called ads. Now a creative person needs to be a social detective, a spy in the house of data, a behavioral tactician and be willing to shed award-friendly artifice for authenticity, even when that’s not always pretty. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

6. Pay attention to changing media consumption habits.
The new landscape will be an evolving target as worldwide “staying at home” will evolve how we work and live life. When and how we consume media will change too. Success will be defined by keeping pace with this evolution, and messages that are more relevant and less disruptive will resonate. “Scream and tell” advertising to buy a visit may get ignored, but “content I want to know” will win. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

7. Change your messaging and imagery to match changing daily life.
It’s essential to change your messaging and imagery to ensure it matches the massive shifts in customers’ everyday lives. There is a marketing opportunity to feature products that can help customers during this difficult, uncertain time. There’s a difference between fear-mongering and offering a product that will truly make someone’s day, week or life better, and customers know the difference. – Warren Jolly, adQuadrant

8. Be flexible.
Flexibility in how we service accounts, build teams, buy and/or engage media and diversify creatively will be much more critical as we move forward. The new normal is teaching us to strategically shift on a moment’s notice and to listen to all stakeholders all of the time. By building processes and teams that can flex and approaching creativity from all stakeholder points of view, we will find success. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

9. Get ready to change how you collect and use consumer data.
As privacy concerns grow, advertisers will find that collecting data and personalization will get harder. We need to be prepared with changes regarding the way we collect and use people’s data. It’s important to look into AI tools, especially around contextual intelligence so that we can place ads and target users based on the content of a page over how a user behaves. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

10. Market yourself through social messaging apps.
Social messaging apps will grow as advertising spread dips due to the lack of demand. This is a good time to advertise because you will get better rates on pay-per-click ads. As more people are feeling isolated from the mandatory shutdowns, they will turn to other resources to seek connection. See if you can conduct marketing with these apps to reach your audience remotely. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

11. Invest in content marketing and owned media.
Content marketing and owned media will continue to rise. It is getting easier and more important for brands to be able to produce and deliver their own content. This is especially true in B2B marketing where the value propositions can be more complicated or nuanced. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

12. Rethink your product and service offerings for the modern world.
Product offerings need to be rethought (for instance, alcohol companies making sanitizer and clothing companies making masks) and brand marketing must become a concierge service connecting a consumer need with a viable solution in real time as needs continue to evolve. The most successful brands will co-create solutions with those who will use the product or service. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

13. Be agile, but thoughtful and calculated.
Adapting at every corner is critical at this point where things are changing every day. Don’t get stuck in any form of how we “used” to do things either in the workplace or media environment. Be agile and adapt quickly when appropriate, but continue to be thoughtful and calculated with decisions that will have a large impact on your brand. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

14. Go back to basics.
Advertising needs to return to the fundamentals. As the tools evolve at an increasingly rapid pace, coupled with a shift in brands bringing marketing roles in-house, agencies need to return to the fundamentals of how to generate long-term advertising success. This involves a return to psychology as the driving factor behind why people purchase one product over another. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

8 Game-changing Approaches For Solving A Marketing Plateau

When a company starts seeing its first successes in a marketing strategy, it feels exciting. Growth can be massive and exponential at the start, but over time, the massive numbers can start to taper off. The longer you hold onto any one marketing strategy or tactic, the less an audience might be engaged in your marketing.

AdAge

When this happens, the first instinct of marketing professionals is to look at where the existing strategy can be improved. The better approach might be to shake things up a bit and change tactics completely. Switching up your marketing has the benefit of taking your audience by surprise while remaining interesting to your existing customers. The approach you bring to the switch-up of tactics can make it much easier to get those numbers growing again.

These eight thought leaders from Ad Age Collective have experience with switching up marketing strategies when things get stale. We asked them about the most game-changing plans they’ve encountered in careers. Here’s what they had to tell us.

1. Diversify your presence.
Treat marketing activities with the same sound advice one gets from a financial adviser: diversify your investments. Marketing channels ebb and flow in popularity influenced by external factors. Establish a presence in digital, print, audio, video and real-time channels and watch your metrics daily so you can respond to spikes in preferences to be exactly where your audience is, and when. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

2. Test new messaging and creatives.
When we lose momentum, a game-changer for us is testing new messaging and creatives. Messages can get stale and creative trends change over time. Mixing up the creatives and messaging gives something new to excite existing audiences while potentially reaching new audiences. – Warren Jolly, adQuadrant

3. Explore testing into new audiences.
Explore testing into new audiences. Brands love to go after millennials, but women over 50 account for 27 percent of all consumer spending. Through customized creative and targeting via paid media channels, you can reach new, untapped customers to drive your business forward. – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

4. Look for tactics with a large audience.
Once you have plateaued in your marketing and have harvested all the “low-hanging fruit” per se, look for marketing tactics that have a very large audience. For example, consider offline channels, sponsorships or even influencers to boost your public persona and develop a larger identity for your brand. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Automate your processes.
Automating your processes can be a game changer for marketing, especially when you plateau. There are always areas to improve, and to save on time and money. If you have the appropriate software collecting relevant data and analyzing it, then it saves time for the web developers and can offer new opportunities to review data. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

6. Create a flywheel or compound effect.
Try to create a flywheel or compound effect with your marketing. Many marketing activities don’t get more efficient with time, but those that do are game changers. Loyalty programs, user groups, search engine optimization (SEO), public relations and influencer marketing are all areas to consider but are not an exhaustive list of potential flywheel marketing initiatives. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

7. Put yourself in your audiences’ shoes.
Put yourself in your audiences’ shoes and identify another area of their day-to-day lives you can be a part of. It may be simply marketing on a different channel or platform or looking to partner with like-minded brands that are important to your audience. If you have plateaued in one area, don’t abandon it. Keep that message going but identify that other point where the audience can find you. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

8. Go back to basics.
It may be counterintuitive, but I find that going back to basics can take you forward. Whenever I feel like my marketing efforts have become stale, it’s because I have over-complicated things. So, I go back to fundamentals. What do people want? What are their pain points? And then I listen to them on social media and frame content that answers their needs. Simple changes are all that’s needed. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

7 Engaging Ways to Advertise to Upcoming Generations on TikTok

In a post-COVID world, people are using content to fill their time and find daily satisfaction, thus creating a greater need for content creation. This gives marketers a real opportunity to reach their target demographic in an engaging way.

TikTok

If you are looking to market to the under-30 age group of Millennials, Gen Z, and upcoming Gen Alpha, then TikTok and its 800+ million worldwide active users is a great place to explore. TikTok has only been running ads for under two years, which means less oversaturation for marketers and lots of room for creativity in future ads.

Key TikTok Advertising Methods

TikTok has created a few different engaging advertising methods for marketers to choose from. Marketers partner with TikTok advertising reps directly to select the best options and ensure a smooth execution. The choices are:

  1. Top View and Takeover Ads: This is an ad that is displayed as soon as a user opens the app on the home “For You” page. It can be a photo or video, and has 100% share of voice.
  2. Hashtag Challenges: Brands can create a hashtag challenge that encourages users to follow an action, trend, dance, or something else that users can post on their feeds (and encourage their friends to do the same).
  3. Creator Marketplace: These are the content-creator royalty on TikTok. Brands can work with creators that have demographic-relevant followers to promote a brand or product on the creator’s page with custom videos.
  4. Branded Filters and Effects: These are branded 2D or 3D camera effects users can add while creating videos in a fun and interactive way.
  5. Infeed Video Ads: This is the widest, most direct advertising method on TikTok; it includes an in-feed video ad whose appearance is native to the platform.

Now that we know the TikTok advertising methods, let’s talk strategy. The platform is a unique world that brands must familiarize themselves with before entering. Since marketers are just becoming accustomed with this new advertising landscape, it’s easy for ads to look out of place or even worse, “cringy.” Here are seven engaging ways to advertise to the upcoming generations on TikTok:

1. Know the culture

Before advertising on the platform, take some time to understand the unique characteristics and the popularity of different voices and content types. Whether it be a prank, dance, sound bite, or skit, TikTok content that performs well is all about authenticity and having fun. Right now it’s truly about showing people’s everyday lives during this unusual year, making for very entertaining video content.

2. Be in with the trends – and start some of your own!

TikTok is very “in the moment” driven, and trends come and go. Get to know what’s trending and hop on! The platform is a community and everyone can join in on the fun — even brands. TikTok also offers brands the opportunity to create paid hashtag challenges, which is great for starting trends that audiences can participate in. Make sure your content is fun, engaging, and that it truly aligns with your brand’s message.

3. Follow the rules

TikTok is new to advertising, so many marketers are still getting familiar with its layout and best practices. It’s great to stand out from the masses, but standing out because of a mistake could have negative consequences. Know the guidelines of the vertical feed before creating and publishing. To up your engagement, make ads specifically tailored for TikTok; an ad taken off of a different social media platform and recycled for a new one can come off looking out of place on the feed, causing people to skip right past it.

4. Create content-like ads

TikTok offers in-feed video ads that can look like a post that users see on their For You pages. Other than a very small, opaque “Sponsored” button, everything else looks exactly the same. Use this to your advantage to create content similar to what people use TikTok for: sharing entertaining content with friends. Try creating a short, amusing video that intertwines with your brand or product messaging.

5. Tell a story

Storytelling is huge on TikTok, but you only have 60 seconds to do it. Ads should only be nine to 15 seconds anyway, so quickly tell your brand’s story in a way that catches a viewer’s attention. Create a scene with a few likable characters partaking in an action that will relate to your targeted demographic.

6. Include characters

The majority of the videos on TikTok, especially now, are at-home videos taken of individuals, their family members, or their close friends. Lean into that and do the same, with either a TikTok creator partnership engaging with your product/brand, or existing footage you have with people.

7. Be unique, but be quick to standout

Gen Z and Millennials love to try new products and test out new trends, so consider what you can offer to the content community, and how your brand or product can improve someone’s life. The goal is to make them stop and watch your 15-second ad while bringing value to their day, thus captivating them to click the “Learn More” button and engage with your brand further.

So what are you waiting for? If you don’t have TikTok downloaded, take a moment to get the app and start exploring the world and culture that awaits.

Leaders: Conquer stress with these 15 strategies

As a leader, you’re constantly juggling multiple responsibilities and significant demands on your time. Overtime hours, countless meetings and a long list of deliverables can all take their toll on you — and this doesn’t even include any personal stressors that may arise.

The Business Journals

Managing multiple work and personal responsibilities can be incredibly taxing, so you’ll need to take extra steps to take care of yourself and keep your headspace clear. Here, the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share 15 strategies to prevent major life stressors from overtaking your mind.

1. Set aside ‘distraction-free’ time in your day.
It is important to set aside time in your day with no distractions so you can dive into important projects. Once you clear your mind and your plate of these important tasks, it leaves room to tackle the day-to-day and allows you space to leave your work at the office (whether physical or virtual) so you can be present in your personal interactions as well. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

2. Pinpoint the problem and think through the worst-case scenario.
To paraphrase a passage from Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, ask yourself: What is the actual problem or stressor? Then, determine the worst-case scenario and accept that as a possible outcome. Maybe a client relationship is at risk or a monetary impact looms — OK, acceptance. Start immediately taking steps to improve the outcome. Write it down. – Stephen Maher, MJM ARCHITECTS, LLC

3. Practice gratitude.
Before I begin my workday, I practice gratitude. With my coffee in hand, I write down the first five to 10 things that come to mind that I am thankful for. They can be as small as the sound of the waves crashing outside my window or the taste of that first spring strawberry. The small act of appreciating the things in my life creates a positive space for the day that combats everyday stress. – Andrea Heuston, Artitudes Design Inc.

4. Seek mentors.
Meditation, reading and yoga are all great, but finding someone who has been there before and talking through stresses you are going through is invaluable. Have different mentors for different topics in your life. Being able to soak up the wisdom from a person who has experienced the same type of stress you are feeling will shorten the time of stress and lead to faster solutions. – Lane Conner, Fuzse

5. Exercise daily.
I find that if I do not exercise every day, then stress creeps in. Exercise doesn’t just help reduce my stress — often I come up with a potential solution to my problem during the workout. – Bob Rauf, Meridian Financial

6. Determine whether it’s something you can control.
Have an honest conversation with yourself on whether this is something you can actually control or not. If it is, get focused and grind it out. If it’s not, be willing to accept that and let go of the outcome. If you can spend your day making a positive impact on multiple things, that’s a great mental balance with the stress of the things you can’t control. – Chris Hogan, Benefit Commerce Group, an Alera Group Company

7. Find a balance of work and personal activity that’s best for you.
I allow myself to take work home and to do personal things during what is typically considered the “workday.” This helps me to avoid mental fatigue and stress through a variety of tasks and actions to keep my mind sharp and productive. – Rhiannon Samuel, Viante New Mexico

8. Lean on others.
In times of stress, lean on others. Great leaders build an organization on the shoulders of others. Sometimes we forget that we are only successful because of the skills and abilities of others. When stress occurs, some tend to absorb the pressure rather than to spread it among the very people most able to weather the storm. Share the burdens, but also share the joy of success. – Paul Weber, EAG Advertising & Marketing

9. Pursue non-work passions.
Find a hobby, activity or interest that you are proximally passionate about. It is indeed just a method of distracting the mind, but if attractive enough, it breaks the focus of thought. If you give the mind a break, it usually comes back to the stress point with a less “consumed” perspective and perhaps even a way of tackling whatever is causing the stress. – Michael Sluka, B2B CFO Partners

10. Find your ‘zen.’
Find your “zen,” which isn’t limited to a meditation app or yoga. My zen hours happen twice a day. The first is between 4 and 6 a.m. This is when I catch up on news, do a crossword puzzle and spend time reading and writing. Then, from 4 to 6 p.m., it happens again, first with a bike ride and then cooking and eating dinner with my family. Prioritize your “zen times” and you’ll be amazed at all you get done. – Sam Davidson, Batch

11. Prioritize self-care.
It’s easy to keep working and try to push through the stressor, but that only increases your stress. It is important to take good care of yourself and manage the demands at work. If there are too many projects or demands, then you need to prioritize and focus on the top of the list. When the stressors come that are unavoidable, taking care of yourself will ensure you have the energy to persevere. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

12. Find a trusted mental health professional.
I firmly believe everyone should have a mental health professional as part of their health care team. I reached out to a psychologist during an extremely stressful time. My sessions allowed me to focus both professionally and personally. I was able to successfully navigate the challenges beyond my expectations. It might take a couple of tries to find the provider who’s right for you. Don’t give up. – Shannon Laine, HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum St. Louis

13. Put every activity into your calendar.
When managing time, we like to say, “Intention becomes action when it is put into Outlook.” If you don’t plan and schedule your time, the day-to-day firefighting will keep you from tracking down the arsonist. Put the time you need for each project, including personal time, into your calendar. – Paul Herring, 101 Solutions LLC

14. Take time to disconnect.
Delivering strong performance is heavily influenced by what professionals do outside of work. It’s important to take time outside of work to occasionally disconnect, reflect and get ready to jump back into projects refreshed. The best ideas will often result from taking a step back and reevaluating the situation from a fresh perspective. – Vincent Phamvan, Vyten Career Coaching

15. Locate your ‘lighthouse.’
You have to have a “lighthouse” that serves as your point of reference. That lighthouse can be a spouse, religion, a mentor, friend, etc. In this age of disappearing work boundaries, electronics that never shut off and 24/7 availability, you have to learn to establish your own boundaries driven by your personal values. Our lighthouses serve to help us stay focused on what matters. – Adam Boudreaux, The Leadership Group LLC

How To Ensure Authenticity In Marketing: 12 Critical Tips

Consumers have to deal with so much advertising daily that they are very particular about the ones they listen to. Thanks to the sheer volume of marketing efforts, buyers have become clued-in to what inauthentic marketing looks like. Consumers treat businesses that try to perform inauthentic marketing with disdain, and modern cancel-culture can lead to massive PR disasters.

Forbes Agency Council

If you want to connect with your clients, you need to do it in a way that resonates with them authentically. Below, 12 members of Forbes Agency Council share several critical tips to help businesses be more genuine in their marketing endeavors.

1. Make Your Customer The Superhero

If you make your product or people the superhero, you’re putting your brand above your customer and looking down at them. This positioning makes you appear inauthentic and untrustworthy. In your marketing, the superhero is always your customer. Your product or service is the tool that enables them to achieve the superior results they’re seeking. – Douglas Karr, Highbridge

2. Understand Your Brand Promise

Businesses should first of all understand their brand promise. What is it that their consumers expect of them? What is their core philosophy? What is the brand’s DNA — not its ideal, but the truth of its culture and impact? Once that is known, any message that strays from that brand promise will be inauthentic. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack Group

3. Project What Your Brand Stands For

Every clever marketing campaign should project the heart of the brand and what it stands for. All marketing projects must be consistent in messaging to truly connect with the consumer and showcase the values of the brand, ensuring authenticity. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

4. Develop A Brand Style Guide Early On

Branding is storytelling, and authenticity and consistency are key. Developing a brand bible and style guide early is a helpful tool to crystallize your story. You should include elements like positioning, mission, pillars, dos/don’ts, visual identity, etc. These will serve as a North Star internally and will also enable partners, agencies and other extensions of your team to know your story. – Marc Becker, The Tangent Agency

5. Gather As Much Feedback As Possible

What you think customers want and what customers actually want are not always the same. Gather as much customer feedback and engagement metrics as possible to learn how they talk about your product/service and what they want or need from it. Use that information to build a marketing strategy and you will be sure to resonate with your target audience in an authentic way. – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures

6. Focus On Providing Value And Educating

The single best way to have authentic marketing is to give value first. Instead of always trying to sell, sell, sell, make sure you take the time to educate. We pride ourselves on our blog, training and learning hub. We give access to all of them for free because we believe in value first. If we can get our customers to trust us, then the selling will come even easier later in the funnel. – Marc Hardgrove, The HOTH

7. Feature Your Subject-Matter Experts

People trust people, not brands. It’s important to look for ways to feature the subject-matter experts behind your company because it’s easier for someone to connect with a person than a brand. People want to buy from people they trust, and learning about your founders’ stories, values and experience can help build that trust. – Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.

8. Have A Story With A Human Touch

Make sure your brand has a story with a human touch. Showing why customers need your product or service is not enough, you have to connect with them on a deeper level — and that’s where storytelling comes in. What’s the story behind the brand? Why does it exist? When your brand has a proper story behind it, you’ll win the loyalty of consumers and that’s priceless. – Randy Soderman, Soderman SEO

9. Focus On Product Benefits, Not Features

Authentic marketing always focuses on product benefits, not product features. To ensure authenticity, first understand how your product makes the customer’s life better, easier or more enjoyable; i.e., the product benefits. Then ensure that marketing content focuses on telling that product benefit story. This approach helps your marketing content resonate and keeps it authentic. – Aliza Freud, SheSpeaks, Inc.

10. Keep Your Message And Tone Consistent

Keep your message and tone consistent. If you’re clever, be clever. If you’re snarky, be snarky. It’s the inconsistency of this tone that can sound fake. If the written content on your site is a bit casual and loose, but the videos on your site are overly “corporate,” your brand will reek of inauthenticity. Clever and catchy are OK, but don’t do it halfway. – Bernard May, National Positions

11. Always Test Before Launch

Even the best creative can have a blind spot, so it’s critical to test before launch. Test it! Too often, campaigns come out without input from a variety of demographics. If you want to be authentic, you must first test it with your internal team and collect feedback based on how it makes them feel and how they expect the outside world will react. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications

12. Don’t Be Afraid To Be Vulnerable

Be vulnerable. Nobody’s perfect, so if your marketing suggests that you are, it will always come off as inauthentic. I saw a restaurant that advertised that its rooftop bar was “well worth the three flights of stairs.” That’s clever and self-deprecating in a way that resonates with consumers. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

16 effective strategies for building a reliable talent pipeline

No matter the state of the labor market, your business should be prepared to quickly fill job openings. One solution to this is developing a talent pipeline — a reliable, accessible and ever-renewing pool of qualified candidates. While this may take extra effort at the outset, it can save your business significant time and headaches when you need to hire quickly.

The Business Journals

To help you with your recruiting efforts, we asked the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust how to build a reliable talent pipeline. Below, they share 16 strategies you can use to develop a strong pool of qualified candidates for your business’s needs.

1. Invest marketing resources into your HR efforts.
Seldom do businesses commit as many resources to marketing their labor brand as they do to generating new sales leads. Just like business development and sales growth, building a talent pipeline is an ongoing process that takes considerable expertise from the marketing department. HR alone should not be accountable for creating a talented future workforce. – Paul Weber, EAG Advertising & Marketing

2. Become a mentor to students.
As the leader of a nonprofit working to build a diverse talent pipeline in our K-12 schools, I believe a strategy that would be helpful to education would be carving out time to speak with students or become a volunteer or mentor. Those in the workforce who are underrepresented are the perfect advocates for diversity and inclusion. Female CIOs and CTOs show girls what is possible by example. – Kathleen Schofield, Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub

3. Actively manage your company’s reputation.
We actively manage our reputation within the professional community. People will seek us out. We do this in a variety of ways, including through our website, social media and professional events. The second (and most productive) way to build a talent pipeline is to have everyone’s eyes open to potential new talent. The best people are already working. We seek them out. – John Berendzen, Fox Architects (St. Louis)

4. Stay active in your industry community.
Always continue networking, and stay active in all areas of core competency and the community. You never know when that gem is in the audience waiting to shine in your organization. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Create an unrivaled company culture.
Invest in your current talent pool. Create an unrivaled culture. If people like where they work, they are going to talk about it. There is nothing stronger than a referral from a current employee. Job seekers look at sites like Glassdoor. If your team loves what they do, building a talent pipeline is as easy as calling on them. – Lane Conner, Fuzse

6. Mobilize your team as ‘talent scouts.’
I encourage all of our team members to think of themselves as “talent scouts,” constantly keeping their eyes out for great people who might be good fits for our organization. There’s nothing better than great, happy employees wanting to make their company better by helping to identify and recruit other talented individuals. – Chris Hogan, Benefit Commerce Group, an Alera Group Company

7. Pay attention to your employer reviews.
Improve your presence on employer review sites like Glassdoor, Comparably and Kununu. Candidates invariably look at these sites today in deciding where to apply for jobs. The more reviews (and the more five-star reviews) you have, the better your chances of growing a strong talent pipeline. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

8. Create an employee referral program.
Companies can create a reliable talent pipeline by creating an employee referral program. The best hires often come from referrals from existing teammates who are familiar with a job candidate’s values, work ethic and past performance. Many studies have shown that referred hires are cheaper, onboard faster and stay at their jobs longer than traditional hires. – Vincent Phamvan, Vyten Career Coaching

9. Develop a formal succession plan.
One key strategy is to build an internal pipeline through formal succession planning, mentoring, training and understanding individual employee career aspirations. To support this strategy, new employees are hired based not only on their fit for existing positions but also on their ability to grow into future, more highly skilled roles. – Shawn Kitchell, Madico, Inc.

10. Focus on a culture of well-being.
One way to always have a talent pipeline is to create a culture of well-being. When you have a true well-being culture, people love their work. You then become an employer of choice. Now you can recruit top talent for any role in your organization. Creating a culture of well-being is a journey that your organization has to go through. It’s all about the employee experience. – Debra Young, Sheer Velocity, LLC

11. Volunteer as a guest speaker.
We send speakers to MBA classes that teach our subject areas. That connects us with a broad labor pool and helps us identify the best candidates from that pool. – Reed Holden, Holden Advisors

12. Leverage digital recruitment platforms and networking events.
There are tons of options for recruiters to hire both part-time and full-time employees. It’s hard to pinpoint where you can establish a pipeline, but it would be good to be on digital recruitment platforms and network at every conference that you can attend. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

13. Partner with university career services departments.
Partner with university career services and be a resource for them. Rather than always being on the receiving end of a résumé, we try to show how we hope to help the universities build talent by offering free classes, volunteering to do résumé reviews or mock interviews, and participating in club activities. Knowing that we’re not only adding value by hiring keeps us top of mind. – Jordan Lofton, Golden Source Consultants

14. Build your internal pipeline first.
Consider whether you should build it or buy it and under what conditions. Look internally and hire from within whenever institutional knowledge is required for the position. Build an internal pipeline through formal succession planning that includes a mentorship program, employee learning development opportunities and dialogues to uncover employee career aspirations. This helps increase engagement. – Katie Wahlquist, Star Bank

15. Volunteer to serve on curriculum advisory committees.
Leverage partnerships with two-year colleges to create internships and co-ops, and promote openings through student career centers. Consider mentoring, and help ensure the curriculum is up to date and meets current and future industry needs through volunteering on curriculum advisory committees. Consider youth apprenticeships in high schools, and be sure your organization supports diversity, equity and inclusion. – Vicki Martin, Milwaukee Area Technical College

16. Build a ‘virtual bench.’
Building a virtual bench has been a success factor for us. We never stop recruiting, even if we don’t have any job openings. Having one to three candidates lined up for a position is helpful, and the best hires have most often resulted from building a long-term relationship with someone before hiring them. Sometimes the relationships are built over years. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.

Award Winning Leadership With Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

As a leading technology and data-driven advertising agency, Hawthorne Advertising specializes in integrated campaign solutions for brands. As CEO, Jessica Hawthorne-Castro has prioritized company culture and has received numerous awards for her career accomplishments, most recently winning the CEO of The Year award for technology-based advertising by Corporate Livewire. In this episode, Jessica shares with us her incredible journey and what it takes to be an award-winning CEO.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • How growing up in small-town in the Midwest established a hard-working ethic and a discipline influenced by a unique school in Iowa that taught transcendental meditation
  • How dreams of California took Jessica back west to UCLA for college to study Fine Art
  • How her dad is known as the Father of the Infomercial
  • Her experience working as a Television Literary Agent at Endeavor (later William Morris Endeavor) where she learned that there will always be mistakes, but also there are solutions
  • Why work ethic in the agency world is so critical and also a huge part of her success
  • How she came to be a part of her father’s established ad agency company and fell in love with it, even though that was never part of the plan
  • How she l came up with the company’s mission and vision, company strategy, yearly planning, which then led to her becoming the COO, then the CEO, and then the owner of Hawthorne Advertising
  • Her recent discovery of the Entrepreneurial Operating System and how that has streamlined all the moving parts across the organization
  • How Jessica and her teams have created a culture of giving back, enjoying work, making sure her company is a great place to work and helping their clients’ companies thrive and grow is at the core of what drives them
  • Ways she leads by example in personal and professional daily growth through organizations like Vistage and YPO
  • Some of the many awards Jessica has won, such as LA Business Journal’s Top Marketers in LA, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, 40 Under 40 and Rising Star awards, CEO of the Year, and more
  • How getting the execution and operations behind an idea right is the only way to actually  bring good things to fruition and how this includes not only managing people well but managing your own time well
  • Ways her high efficiency, incredible organization skills, ability to delegate, and drive to complete daily tasks leads to less stress and more successful output
  • Jessica’s advice to learn all parts of the business

To Find Out More:

Quotes:

“I do appreciate growing up in the Midwest and the values that I got from the Midwest and the work ethic that comes from that.”

“Many entrepreneurial paths are born out of necessity.”

“I never wanted to get a job or have an experience that anyone handed to me. I always wanted to do it myself. I never wanted to owe anyone, anything ever”

“We’re always going to have problems… Nothing is ever easy. But it is how you approach everything in a way that you’re coming to fix it. You’re coming with solutions instead of just coming with complaints.”

“What is important within our culture is that it’s not about the individual. It’s about the client’s best interest. And if we are growing their company and their campaign as a result, then we’re all growing together.”

“It’s really important to me that people work very hard, but that they have a lot of fun and enjoy what they’re doing because we’re spending more time at work than really any other parts of our life.”

“Those who do focus on personal and professional development are those who keep coming along with you on the ride and help drive the growth of the company and what you’re doing.”

“Getting the execution and the operations right is absolutely critical to anything because you can have the greatest ideas ever, but they are absolutely worthless unless you can actually execute them.”

“You have to figure out how to execute and operate to be able to bring things to fruition. And it is about consistency.”

“I can really perform at a high level every day because I push myself to work and complete everything so that the next day I can start completely fresh.”

“Learn all parts of the business, start from the bottom. I’m a big advocate of starting from the bottom.”

16 ways to ‘future-proof’ your career

Change is constant, especially when it comes to technological advances. Many businesses are quick to embrace and adapt to include these technological advances, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, in their daily operations. Indeed, the increasing use of AI and ML has many people nervous about being pushed out of their jobs.

Members of the Business Journals Leadership Trust understand these professionals’ concerns and have shared some recommendations for “future-proofing” yourself for the working world. Try these strategies to prepare yourself for the increased role of technology in the workplace.

Forbes Agency Council

1. Take inventory of your skills.
Inventory your skills and know what value you bring to an organization so that you can adapt and grow based on your success, not what’s hot in the market. For example, a skilled writer will always be a skilled writer, regardless of whether that is within a creative shop or a highly technical environment. Some raw, innate skills will always be in demand. Focus on those and the rest will follow. – Paul Weber, EAG Advertising & Marketing

2. Learn about and leverage your technological ‘competition.’
Learn about your AI/ML competition. Find out what makes them great and what their pitfalls are. You can strategize ways to work with and use AI/ML to enhance your human level of service instead of fighting against it. – Christen McCamie, Nesta Real Estate Consultants

3. Do the things AI and ML can’t.
Do the things that AI and ML can’t do or don’t do well. These are mostly related to human interaction. The human mind is far more complex than any computer can understand (at least right now). Furthermore, we are each so different that a computer could never keep track of those differences. Lastly, emotional intelligence is still a (rare) human talent. – Brian Walters, Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

4. Reframe your value based on operational and cultural knowledge.
Employees should first reframe their value based on their operational knowledge and their ability to navigate company culture, including the unique elements they contribute — things the machine cannot use in decision-making. They also have a chance to take advantage of the current situation to learn new skill sets, earn relevant industry certification and position themselves to add value to the bottom line. – Daniel Villao, Intelligent Partnerships, Inc.

5. Hone in on your creativity.
Humans’ unique differential will remain regardless of automation. We are creative beings, and as long as we approach problem-solving and pain points with creativity, our jobs are “future-proofed.” Embracing AI and ML to enhance efficiency and competency is a good thing! The door is open for more human invention and innovation. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

6. Never stop learning.
Learn a new skill, language or even a new code. Make sure your employer knows you are hungry to learn and conquer new opportunities. Never stop learning and developing new skills. – Andrew Duffell, Research Park at FAU

7. Be able to recognize and adapt to business changes.
Being able to adapt and recognize modern changes in the way business is done is very important to any professional, no matter the industry. While it’s impossible to be an expert on everything, professionals should stay relevant by continuing to learn and embrace the modern new technologies that are entering our daily lives. – Tom Rourick, RSM US LLP

8. Remember there’s no substitute for human empathy.
In our business, human interaction and involvement each step of the way are what sets us apart. Even if we get to the point where there’s more automation, there is no substitution for empathy and feeling heard. As more industries utilize AI, the human touch will continue to differentiate us. It’s important to create an environment that celebrates the unique experiences our team brings to the table. – Jake Gilbreath, Walters Gilbreath, PLLC

9. Develop a growth mindset.
Every professional should develop a growth mindset where they focus on learning and make conquering new challenges a part of their routine. This will allow them to grow as businesses evolve. If professionals have a fixed mindset where they give up or avoid challenges, it will inevitably lead to failure to adapt to changes in the environment. – Vincent Phamvan, Vyten Career Coaching

10. Look for opportunities to streamline mundane tasks.
AI and ML are growing, but instead of being nervous about job security, people can see it as an opportunity for the more mundane tasks to be taken care of with technology. Then the human aspect can blossom, with professionals being more creative in their work, planning and strategy. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

11. Get ahead of the curve.
We must all continually update our skills! The technologies are coming, and we can either be displaced by them or be the innovator who solves problems through these new tools. Staying current and getting ahead of the curve is critical to remaining relevant in the new workplace. – Kathleen Schofield, Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub

12. Prioritize your critical thinking skills.
This is an age-old question. People worried about the calculator, then the computer, now AI and ML. The one professional asset that is constant is critical thinking. Train your brain to look at problems from a macro/micro, conceptual/analytic and social/strategic viewpoint. Critical thinkers will be the next generation’s leaders — they will be the conductors rather than the musicians. – Lane Conner, Fuzse

13. Demonstrate your resilience.
While no one really knows which employment opportunities will be available in the future, you can still learn to future proof your career so employers see you as the best candidate. People who are adaptable and resilient will be the ones who will have longevity. A “change is inevitable” mindset must be adopted by professionals. Have an open mind about what change brings and take it head-on. – Katie Wahlquist, Star Bank

14. Challenge yourself to think creatively about your job and business.
Allow yourself — better yet, challenge yourself — to try creative thinking sessions (all pencils down and phones off) at least once a month about your job/business. AI and ML can do a lot at an impressive speed but are nonetheless tethered to data and processes that have occurred in the past. To date, only the human mind can envision something that has not been done or existed before. – Michael Sluka, B2B CFO Partners

15. Find ways to make tech work for you.
In today’s era of distributed workforces, cross-functional collaboration is digitally driven. All professionals must keep up with emerging technologies and upgrade their tools regularly. If you’ve used the same old tool for years, you may not even know what you are missing! My recommendation is to make tech work for you, not be scared of it. – Mark Zinman, Zinman & Company

16. Think like an entrepreneur.
There is no such thing as future-proofing. It is important to understand the market value of what you have to offer. You should always think like an entrepreneur. What can I offer that others need? What is the hiring manager looking for? When the skill you are currently known for is plentiful, build your other skills or acquire a new skill that is less available — then promote it. – Samir Mokashi, Code Unlimited LLC

8 Emerging E-commerce Trends Marketing Experts Are Excited About

Trends come and go like the ebb and flow of a tide. It seems like with each new quarter we see e-commerce trends on the horizon that might have a massive impact on various industries. Companies that can spot these trends before they hit the mainstream can capitalize on their new knowledge. Because of how quickly trends can gain traction, a company that can prepare or pivot into a trend before everyone else can see a lot of engagement from their core audience. However, the key is figuring out which trends are the exciting ones.

AdAge Collective

In particular, e-commerce trends can be particularly fickle. Emerging trends, the ones that haven’t reached critical mass yet, are the ones that businesses should spend their focus on. An emerging e-commerce trend, if caught on the rise, can catapult a company’s popularity. When you find the most exciting emerging trends, you’re almost guaranteed to be the talk of the town.

These eight entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective have become quite adept at spotting emerging trends and picking out the most exciting ones from the bunch. We asked them about the most recent emerging trends in e-commerce that we should be aware of. Their responses are below.

1. COVID-19 as an e-commerce accelerator
A trend I noticed is COVID-19 as an e-commerce accelerator. Huge brands had to dive into the direct-to-consumer (DTC) playbook. Mega-retailers being “forced” into e-tailing now are finding they can activate customers at mega-scale via video ads, gaining positive attribution analytics leading to redistribution of and more sales productivity for their marketing spend. – Sean Cunningham, VAB

2. Personalization improving the online shopping experience
E-commerce personalization will improve the online shopping experience. Customers want to feel cared for, especially when they are looking for a particular product. Algorithms can assist with making webpages, emails and even advertisements more personal. When the algorithms are properly trained, then businesses can use them to win over customers. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

3. Exponential growth of online grocery and last mile delivery
The greatest e-commerce impact of COVID-19 is the exponential growth in online grocery and last mile delivery. Consumer volume increased as advertising opportunities for brands beyond perishables have expanded. Now beauty, alcohol, OTC and other center-aisle categories must build strategies for “the third shelf.” – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

4. Shopify’s integration with the Walmart Marketplace
Shopify’s integration into the Walmart Marketplace is big news. This sets up a positive network effect for Walmart, Shopify and Shopify’s sellers — more audience for Shopify and its sellers, more product diversity and revenue for Walmart to compete with Amazon. By linking advertising closely with demand, this will make the Walmart advertising platform more powerful for some advertisers. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

5. ML and AI for customer service increasing velocity
Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) for customer service will help increase e-commerce velocity. Customer service is often an underfunded necessary evil for e-commerce brands, particularly when a burst of operational issues inevitably arise. Resolving customer challenges at scale keeps customers coming back because customers want to talk to “someone” who can resolve issues in real time. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

6. The rise of the curbside delivery concept
The game has changed completely for businesses that rely on in-person activity for revenue, such as restaurants, bars and events. The concept of “curbside delivery” has opened up new possibilities for taking a piece of that experience away to recreate in new and different environments. The more creative a brand is, the more they can still meet customer needs regardless of our changing world. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

7. Growing importance of voice search
Voice search is coming, but it’s being ignored. With the rise of virtual assistants, e-commerce has been quick to understand the implications. When a consumer can order a product by simply saying “Hey Alexa, order X,” that changes everything from the standard web and/or social search. Marketers need to understand that voice is a completely different game to SEO — adopt voice early and they’ll be ready. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

8. The surge of in-home training and mindfulness platforms
An exciting trend to watch emerge has been the surge of in-home gym equipment, virtual personal trainers and mindfulness platforms which allow people to feel part of a community without having to meet in person. This is a big area of opportunity for both the consumer and the advertising industry. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

Latest News

THE L.A. TIMES TALKS NEUROSCIENCE AND STRATEGY WITH OUR CEO JESSICA HAWTHORNE-CASTRO.
Read More