Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Make Print Part of Your Marketing Strategy In 2017

With so much emphasis today on digital marketing, businesses might write off print as a viable channel for making solid brand connections with customers—but new statistics suggest otherwise: According to recent data, the tangible power of print still resonates:

• 92% of 18 to 23-year-olds find it easier to read printed content than digital. (Oxford University Press, 2015)
• The response rate to direct-mail marketing was 37% higher than for email.
(Direct Marketing Association, 2015)
• Consumers trust print ads 34% more than search engine ads for making purchasing decisions.
(Marketing Sherpa, 2016)

Times have changed—and so has our connection with print media: Technology has changed the way that print marketing is consumed. To be effective, print must be used as part of a broader, more inclusive integrated marketing effort. People will have a stronger connection to printed media when a campaign is layered with other channels, including social media, mobile marketing, video and others.

The rule of thumb is that marketing content must be relevant and brand-centered. But it also must be trackable. As marketers we need to collect and track the data that helps us define our message and our delivery so that we can redeploy and create connections—and ongoing dialogue—with our audience. Consider using print ads or direct mail to funnel people back to your digital sites using coupon codes or special offers.

There’s also something to be said for changing things up: With all the clamor surrounding the next big digital innovation, print offers a refreshing changeup. According to “The Household Diary” from the United States Postal Service, the USPS saw a 2% decrease in direct mail in 2016. Yet, there is a 3.9% year-to-year increase in the number if postcards read by consumers. Why not consider seizing the opportunity to stand out from the competition by including direct mail in your next campaign?
click to view

Click below to link to an infographic that shows how print can re-energize your marketing strategy. https://www.marketingprofs.com/chirp/2017/32613/print-a-tangible-way-to-invigorate-your-marketing-strategy-infographic

As with anything, it’s all about balance: Print will continue to be both essential and relevant—but as part of a comprehensive and measurable marketing program. What are your thoughts? Do you use print as part of your marketing effort? We’re always interested in feedback.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Kill It on Social Media with Video Marketing

The engaging power of video is captivating the social media stage. Live video (Facebook Live) and ephemeral (disappearing) content via Instagram Stories are two trends that are pushing video as an essential element of social media marketing. And with good reason—video makes powerful connections and starts a brand-centered conversation with your customers.

When it comes to quickly and effectively delivering a brand message, there is power in video marketing. According to data from Brightcove, social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined; and video drives 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines.

Why is video important?
At Shamrock, we see video as an absolute essential for helping our clients tell their stories: Video provides instant brand gratification. And regardless of industry or budget, it’s a channel easily incorporated into your marketing program.

Above all, video is the trend in marketing: It is estimated that 80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019. (Cisco)

How can you put video to work for your brand?
Creating original, compelling, relevant content that makes a brand connection with your audience—that’s the goal of video marketing. For a great example, click on the link below to watch the short video we posted on our Shamrock YouTube channel about the difference between Vector vs Raster files:

 Click to view
Click to view

There’s a lot of great ideas for videos: Roundup The Team—take a camera around the office and have people briefly speak about the latest product introduction or community service activity; focus on Live Customer Service—create a montage that captures customer service and support in action; develop a simple How-To video that shows a process or innovation; or answer customers’ FAQs.

If you’re at a loss for creative direction, click below to access a list of Video Marketing Ideas from MarketingProfs: 21 Video Marketing Ideas for Small-Business Budgets.

A recent study from Ascend2 found that the most effective video for converting sales leads include these topics:

  • customer testimonials 
  • demo videos
  • explainer/tutorial videos 

What’s great about these video themes is that the scripts practically write themselves: Capturing a testimonial or demonstrating a product or service are stories that authentically speak to your brand and its benefit to your customers. In other words: You know your brand best, so use that information to tell your story through video.

And then share your best videos with us on Facebook—we’ll help continue the brand conversation.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Make Tangible Brand Connections

Harnessing the power of promotional products

We just got our hands on the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) 2017 Consumer Study. The results speak to the pervasive power of promotional products: The study found that 89% of consumers had received a promotional product within the past six months—and 8 in 10 of them researched the brand; with 83% of those consumers noting they are more likely to do business with the brand. Those statistics reinforce the messages in this Shamrock blog post from 2015. So, we’re bringing it back in its entirety, with an updated graphic that summarizes the 2017 PPAI study.

In this digital age, so much of our everyday business is managed online. But as with any other aspect of our lives, balance is essential to success. Promotional products are the ideal source for equilibrium in your marketing program because they make a brand impression offline. Think about it: How many logoed t-shirts do you have in your closet? I’ve got a stack of them—and I’m not alone: The latest statistics show that, on average, Americans keep t-shirts for 6.3 months, tallying 2,450 impressions. It’s a great example of how a promotional item makes a tangible, lasting brand statement.

click to view
At Shamrock, we provide the transactional piece (quality product at a good price) as one component of a strategic approach (integrated marketing) to using promotional products to protect and promote your brand: We see the big picture. Our value is that we understand how online and offline channels can complement each other and work together to perpetuate the message in the most powerful and effective way. The result of that integrated and balanced marketing effort is a memorable brand impression.

With so many new, innovative products on the market and the phenomenal reach that we are seeing with brand awareness, it’s an exciting time to be a part of this industry. 

Are you using promotional products as part of your marketing program? Which premium items will provide you the best return on your investment? Chime in on our Facebook page. Check out the graphic below to see some the latest statistics.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

8 Graphic Design Trends for 2017

If someone picked up your corporate brochure, scrolled through your website and looked at one of your ads, would they be able to readily identify your brand? If you’re not quite sure, then it’s time to rethink your brand’s graphic profile.

Visual imagery is the window to your brand. Strong visual content tells your story and helps create memorable brand connections. It’s also good for your bottom line: According to Adobe, design-driven companies have out-performed the S&P index by 219% over the last 10 years.

With new technology platforms and channels emerging, the role of graphic design is becoming increasingly important in protecting and promoting brand identity. Remember that consistency still counts: It’s important to stay true to your brand’s graphic standards, incorporating the latest creative design trends in a way that refreshes and enhances your visual imagery.

Following is a summary of the top eight graphic design trends identified by Digital Marketing Philippines that are changing the way we view brands:

1. Braver, louder colors. Moving away from neutrals like white, black and gray, more brands are using bold, loud colors to make a statement. This use of color can be used in conjunction with graphics, photo images and even with logos.
2. Bolder typography. More consumers today are accessing content on mobile devices, so mobile-first design drives this trend of bolder, larger type font. Always, it’s important to be sure the font is readable across all digital platforms.
3. Curated and original photos. Many brands use stock photos in their content—but once a photo has been used in more than one campaign, it begins to lose its luster. Creating original, authentic images that represent your brand will feel fresh and help make stronger connections with your audience.
4. Pattern and print design is enjoying a comeback, from florals and paisleys to modern abstracts.
5. Minimalist design—quite opposite of the pattern trend—is also becoming more popular. It has a clean, crisp sophisticated vibe and it pairs well with simple fonts and layouts with subtle graphic elements.
6. Cinemagraphs – Compared to regular GIFs, cinemagraphs are still images with one or more moving elements. These are being used by big brands like IKEA to tell stories and drive engagement—and have been credited with driving more organic traffic to websites.
7. Hand-drawn graphics and icons are also gaining popularity, complementing the rise in the use of authentic images—a move that appeals to consumers by making the brand feel more approachable.
8. Vintage Fonts and Layouts continue to play on the retro and vintage trend—what’s old is cool again.

To check out the full article and infographic, click on the link below: www.business2community.org/web-design

Have you employed any of these graphic design trends in your visual content? If so, what were the results?  I’m interested in your feedback. emoriarty@shamrockcompanies.net

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

10 Tips for Building Brand Loyalty

I’ve been with the same mobile provider for 20+ years; and I’ve used the same brand of soap for as long as I can remember. I guess it’s fair to say I’m a brand loyalist.

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine addressed the issue of whether such brand loyalty is a dying trend. It cited statistics on both sides of the argument: According to a study from Retail Perceptions, millennials expect brands to earn their loyalty—and they rank product quality as more important than a brand name. Yet, a Facebook survey showed that 77% of consumers returned to the same brands over and over again.

Where do you fall between these two camps? How about your customers? Whether your business is selling pizzas or insurance policies, brand loyalty matters. We all want to attract and maintain our customers long term. Ultimately, that loyalty leads to increased profits. So, how do we drive that brand love when immediate access to competitor brand information is just a click away? Here’s a few ideas for attracting and keeping loyal customers:

1. Establish your brand identity. Know who you are—and then stick with it, using consistent messaging across all channels.

2. Make it personal. Develop messages that are tailored specifically to your target audience: That personal connection makes your customers feel like you are speaking directly to them, not to the masses.

According to an Infosys study, 86% of consumers surveyed said personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions—and 73% said they preferred to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.

3. Listen to your customers. Find out what they want or need—and then dig deeper: Why? How? Answering these important questions can help you better align your products/services/delivery methods to better meet customer needs and expectations. What’s more, we all like to be heard. Asking for feedback sends a clear message to your customers that their opinions matter.

4. Provide Raving Fan customer service. There’s a lot of competition out there touting better, faster, less expensive products/services, so exceed their expectations with standout customer service. Do the unexpected things that let your customers know you care: Make a follow-up phone call, send a personal email, share an article or video that aligns with their industry or interest, or surprise them with breakfast for their next staff meeting.

5. Prompt ongoing brand experiences. Keep your brand front of mind by making connections with your customers at various times during a transaction or program experience using blogs, emails, social media prompts, and more. In this age of immediate access, out of sight means out of mind, so keep your brand relevant with frequent, strategic touches.

6. Create Community. Engage with your customers and ask them to share photos of themselves at your event or using your products on social media—facebook, Instagram, twitter, Pinterest. Shared posts on these channels will start a conversation about your brand, and will also foster an emotional connection—think happy, exciting, motivating, inspirational, etc.

7. Innovate. Quality counts, as does innovative product/service offerings. By continuing to improve, evolve and introduce new products or solutions, your customers will associate your brand with what’s next.

8. Create a consistent experience. Give your customers the quality and the experience they have come to expect from your brand, every time. Example: I know I’m going to get the same bold cup of coffee from a new Starbucks location as I do when I visit my regular store—that consistency is expected.

9. Be transparent and honest. If there is a customer service issue, a product problem or a mistake, own it. Your customers will appreciate hearing directly from you, rather than through another source.

10. Recognize loyal customers.
Whether you offer points for transactions, reward service anniversaries, or simply connect with customers who have been with you for a while, it’s important to show existing customers that you appreciate their business. And, a customer loyalty effort is less expensive than spending marketing dollars on new-customer development.  

Do you have any tips that you’d add to this list for boosting brand loyalty? Please share your thoughts on our Facebook page

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Be a Top 5% Performer: Here’s How

Have you heard the expression, “Everything he/she touches turns to gold?” Has it left you wondering: What is their secret sauce? The truth is, successful people choose to be different: Top 5% performers think differently, act differently, see themselves differently, and spend their time differently than those who don’t achieve at that high level.

The successful outcomes of these top performers require setting goals; establishing a plan to achieve those goals; and holding themselves accountable to execute these strategies. Every success, in every market and industry, reinforces this Goal-Plan-Execute formula—it’s so simple, so basic.

So, why do so many people fall short? It’s their mindset: They are not choosing to focus on the right things, and then to follow the essential next steps.

This mindset ideology is not new thinking—it tracks with a favorite book of mine: The Strangest Secret in the World by Earl Nightingale. The book was written in 1956, so it’s outdated in terms of its view of gender in the workplace and other modern-day cues—but all these years later, Nightingale’s guiding principle remains the same: You are what you think about. And so, he suggests, that thinking in a relaxed and confident manner is the essential first step to enjoying success.

How do you build on that premise? How do you take that positive-thinking prompt and then incorporate the essential
Goal-Plan-Execute into your routine? Here’s a few ideas:

1. Focus your mind. Align your thoughts with positive outcomes: Envision your customer happy. Imagine positive referrals. Focus on your employees realizing a new level of success. When you hit a roadblock or hurdle, find the positive in the situation.
2. Define your brand advantage. Start with why: Ask yourself why you do what you do… What is the biggest value you deliver to your clients? Maybe you save them time or money. Simplify their operations. Provide essential expertise. Make them happy. Incorporate these into your brand messaging to confidently position yourself to succeed.
3. Make yourself indispensable: Elite industry experts understand and include the latest products/tools/trends in the solutions they provide customers. Never stop learning, never stop evolving.
4. Be unwavering: Set specific, attainable goals—write them down! Next, develop an actionable plan that spells out how you will achieve these goals.
5. Be deliberate in how you spend your time: Execute your plan with systems in place that hold yourself accountable.

Your success will largely be determined by how you choose to spend your time. If you allow yourself to get swallowed up with small tasks, such as constantly checking email, you are choosing not to focus your time on the big, higher impact tasks and projects that will help you achieve your goals. Write down the five most important things you need to accomplish this week or month, and do those things first!

Do you have any other ideas about ways to drive and maintain top performance? I’m always looking for feedback.

Bob DeGarmo, President

“One, you will become what you think about. Two, remember the word imagination. Let your mind soar. Three, courage. Concentrate on your goal every day. Four, save 10 percent of what you earn and action. Ideas are worthless unless we act on them.”  –Earl Nightingale, The Strangest Secret in the World

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Helping After Hurricane Harvey

After enjoying a relaxing holiday weekend in NE Ohio, we can’t help but reflect on all that we have to be thankful for—and to think about how we can help the people of Houston who are dealing with aftermath of Harvey. If you haven’t yet donated, or if you’d like to give to a national relief organization as Hurricane Irma is gaining speed and taking aim at Florida, the article below is an excellent resource.

This article from The New York Times, reprinted in its entirety, provides information about various relief organizations, charities—and how you can make donations safely.

Where to Donate to Harvey Victims (and How to Avoid Scams)
By Christina Caron Aug. 28, 2017


A temporary shelter set up at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.
Credit Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times




















If you have any additional resources that you know of that are not mentioned, please share with us on our Facebook page.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Creative Ideas For Better Brainstorming

We’ve all been there: The brainstorming session that ends with your team staring at words and phrases strewn across a whiteboard—but with no definitive theme, messaging or outcome. This is where creative reinforcement is required.

In a recent blog on MarketingProfs, Sandra Stewart answers the call with five creativity boosters that are pure genius. What’s great about these five tools or exercises is that they can be used to generate greater productivity out of both marketing and business brainstorming sessions—you’ll find yourself using them in other meetings and scenarios where outside-the-box thinking is required. Here is a summary of her ideas for better brainstorming:

1. The Take Away. Less is more when it comes to communicating with authority and clarity. This prompt encourages your team to strip it down and avoid cluttering the message with excessive words and phrases. Her example:

“Say you're developing messaging for a new product, and you have a list of 12 key benefits. Truthfully, they can't all be essential, and you need much more focus to make messages memorable. So, take away a benefit and consider the result: Are you gaining in focus what you lost in comprehensiveness? Keep taking away, stripping away detail until you get to a benefits description that's as simple as it can be while still conveying something meaningful to your audience.”

2. Word Trees. This is opposite of the take away tool: “Start a Word Tree by listing words or terms related to a broad concept. Then, for each word, start a new list of related words. Keep branching out as you go, and continue for several generations.”

Word trees are great for developing brand attributes, product names, campaign themes, positioning statements, and more.

3. Oblique Strategies is a series of written prompts created by musician Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt as a way of breaking through creative blocks.

Prompts include directives such as "work at a different speed" or single words like “water." Sandra advises: “Consider the prompts in light of your process or problem, and use them to guide a new approach. For example, if we were developing messaging for a cleantech company, we might respond to "water" conceptually, by considering how the company's technology flows; or we might respond literally, by listing the ways it affects water use.

4. The 5 Whys is an exercise for getting to the root of a problem (from Andrew Razeghi's The Riddle: Where Ideas Come From and How to Have Better Ones.)

“First, turn your problem into a "why" question—say, "Why doesn't our story resonate with this market?" List your answers. Pick one—say, "We're not talking about the right things"—and ask "why?" Maybe the answer is, "They don't care about what we think they should care about." Then ask "why?" about that answer, and continue until you get to the fifth "why."

5. Blue Sky. “While the previous exercises involve constraints in some way, the Blue Sky exercise is the opposite: It involves envisioning what you would do or create if there were no limits (time, talent, money, laws of physics), and then working out what would have to be true for you to achieve that. Can you make some of those things true? Are there interim goals you can plot a course toward? Can you break the Blue Sky project down into steps? What can you do right now?”

Of course, after you generate the creative ideas, the next step is to develop a plan for executing.

Do you have other brainstorming ideas or tools that work for your team?  Please share your thoughts with us—because there’s no such thing as too much creativity.

Ellen Moriarty
 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Benefits of Routine

If you have kids then you already know: Back-to-school season is upon us. As my family has been busy shopping, organizing, and preparing to get back on a regular everyday schedule, it’s got me thinking about routine and its many benefits.

Many of us have a morning routine that we follow. Whether that includes journaling, packing lunches, exercising, or all the above, it has been scientifically proven that that daily repetition is good for us. Research shows that a daily routine helps develop healthier sleep patterns (which improve cognitive function) and according to the New York Times, “a morning routine reduces decision fatigue and can help you be more productive throughout the day.”

I’ve concluded that mornings really matter. The things that I do first set the tone for the rest of my day. I like to begin my day early, with coffee and a workout—and then I change my voicemail message. I am a big believer in the power of habit; and for as long as I can remember, I have recorded a new message every morning, which stems from the opportunity to make a strong first impression.
Here’s a few morning routines of successful people that I found interesting:

  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson wakes up at 4 AM, drinks coffee, and then starts his workout with cardio
  • Warren Buffet begins every day by reading—he recommends reading 500 pages a day
  • Tony Robbins sets aside 10 minutes to reflect on everything that he’s grateful for. He suggests taking time every morning to focus on things you’re thankful for in/about yourself, your family and friends, your career, etc.
  • Oprah Winfrey wakes up before the sunrise and begins her day with meditation

And this, from Steve Jobs, is a favorite: In a 2005 commencement address he gave at Stanford, Jobs shared the motivational tactic he used to start every day: “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ Whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

What does your morning routine include? Are you doing things every day that you enjoy? If not, there’s no time like the present to make a change. Message us on Facebook about your routines—you just
might inspire us to try something new!

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Getting It Right: Integrated Marketing 2017

In July 2015, we ran this blog about integrated marketing—and now, two years later, the argument for integrating multiple channels as part of a strategic marketing effort still rings strikingly true. As digital media channels continue to become more pervasive, we need to incorporate those touches along with off-line connections, to make solid, memorable brand connections. 
   
The debate has been raging since the rise of digital media: Which is more effective? Print or electronic? If you want people to understand and retain information, studies consistently show that it’s print. Yet on the other side of the aisle, some e-marketers argue that print is dead. The truth is, in this digital age, there’s room for both in your marketing tool chest.

It’s no different than 20 years ago when we began to use new print applications. Today, we have more channels available, both online and offline. The genius is being able to blend the best of both via an integrated marketing effort.

Print and electronic marketing are not mutually exclusive—each channel has its strengths and limitations. And using them together actually strengthens your brand. Having a consistent, impactful message woven together using different channels (social media, direct mail, promotional products, pay-per-click, etc.) you can ensure that your brand is represented consistently while leveraging the impact of the cross-channel reach.

Using a mix of online and offline channels also allows you to re-connect with your audience throughout a campaign to reinforce your brand message, drive relevancy and prompt action. You might tweet about a new promotion, send an email blast and follow up with a postcard. And because each of these channels can be used to connect with a specific audience segment your message can be tailored just for them. That’s the power of integrated marketing.

An article in Entrepreneur magazine touts the benefits of integrating print and digital touches in your marketing strategy. It notes that print communications can actually leverage your ecommerce site and even strengthen your social media presence. Print engages multiple generations of consumers; can be used to drive social media traffic (via printed calls-to-action on postcards or print ads, for example); and extends your brand reach by sharing your reviews and information offline.

There’s no time like the present to evaluate your marketing effort. Whether you’re operating as a brick-and-mortar business or an online service provider, balance is essential. Print has a tangible, enduring appeal that complements modern digital channels. Using both will get results.

As an instant update to this archived blog, check out the link below: This recent article from Small Business Trends offers 10 great examples of integrated marketing campaigns that work by combining content with PR, print with digital, etc. It’s worth your time to click through. 

https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/05/integrated-marketing-campaign-examples.html

Do you have any campaign examples you’d add to that list? I’d like to hear from you.

All the best,
Tim Connor
tconnor@shamrockcompanies.net

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Top Product Packaging Trends for 2017

Do you grab a bottle of wine off the shelf because you like the label? Or does a sleek graphic prompt you to try a new brand of shampoo? If so, you’re not alone. One-third of consumer product choices are based on packaging, according to research by The Paper Worker

There is tremendous power in packaging design: As marketers, it allows us to make an immediate—and ongoing—brand connection with our target audience. So, whether you’re planning a new product launch or sending a specialty promotion to B2B prospects, there’s no time like the present to rethink packaging design. 

In her blog published at the beginning of the year, designer Martis Lupus outlined predictions for the nine top trends for successful product packaging in 2017—and we embrace her view as spot-on. Below is a summary of those design trends:

1. Be simple, bold and clear 
Minimizing the elements used in a package design can elevate a product…as long as it gets the point across. In our fast-paced world, shoppers don’t always have the time to study each and every product detail. Stick to the essentials and make sure they help the buyer make a more informed decision; a clean-cut design can convey information and make a product shine using simplicity.

2. Embrace custom lettering
Almost every designer loves to get crafty and create some of their artwork by hand. We do this to get the organic effect: fluid imperfections—like irregular lines or natural texture fills—can make a product stand out through warmth and set it apart from digital designs. This warmth can create an emotional tie to the product, making it feel handmade and wholesome, or communicating a feeling of nostalgia. 

3. Go wild with color
It’s no secret that colors evoke emotions and affect purchasing decisions. Because of this, color has always been one of the most important choices in packaging design. Lately we’ve seen designers put colors to work in new and exciting ways. Bright colors and vibrant associations are beginning to make a scene on store shelves.

4. Repeat a pattern
Using well-chosen and beautiful patterns can elevate a package design from ordinary to ethereal. Repeating a visual motif that captures the essence of the brand sends a strong message. Whether your pattern is bold or playful, patterning your package can create a strong identity that customers will remember.

5. Use illustration as narrative
Behind every design there is a story. We seek out and cherish the stories that feel closest to our hearts. Packaging design has begun to incorporate narrative illustrations.

6. Put it in the mail
Remember the joy of getting something in the mail? With faster, more efficient ways to communicate, that experience has become more rare. Packaging design is here to save the day with an emerging postal trend.

7. Imagine ingenious die cuts
Traditional packaging tends to hide its contents, but modern designers are experimenting with die cutting to show products to their advantage. Whether it’s encouraging tactile interaction, mimicking a brand’s logo, or forming identifiable or humorous shapes, creating a window in your packaging can show the product in a meaningful or clever way, making a buyer stop and take notice.

8. Find vintage inspiration
Vintage package design is evolving each year (ironically) through the use of new technologies and materials. There’s something about vintage design that resonates through time. It brings back memories for people who lived through the original era and satisfies the curiosity of younger generations eager to explore the past.

9. Explore eco-friendly packaging
Eco-friendly, biodegradable, natural, sustainable… Call it what you will, going green with packaging is a trend that’s here to stay. Beyond its positive impact on the environment, it can also save companies money and attract customers.

Click on link below for the original blog by Lupus, which includes fabulous photos of each of these must-follow trends. https://99designs.com/blog/trends/packaging-trends-2017/

I find these trends inspirational in terms of how we can help our customers tell their brand stories while making memorable connections. Can you think of standout product packaging that prompted a recent purchase? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Print Distributor or Manufacturer? Top 5 Value Statements

I’ve been in sales for more than 30 years, and I’ve found two distinct camps when it comes to a preference for working directly with a manufacturer or through a distributor.

While direct manufacturers argue they have better control over quality and project management (than do distributors) because the job is managed in-house, I beg to differ. Here are a few reasons why print distributors almost always win the battle by providing greater value:

1. Cost – Trade-only sources do not call on end-user clients, and therefore, do not have to absorb the costs associated with a sales team. That means no office space, training programs, HR support, AND salesperson salaries. This is why trade-only sources can sell for much less and allow room for the distributor to mark up the product and still be competitive. In both situations, a salesperson (from the manufacturer or the distributor) will be compensated, so going direct to a manufacturer really doesn’t cut out the so-called “middleman.”

2. Flexibility/Options – Distributors usually have strong relationships with dozens of trade-only facilities; while direct manufacturers usually have one location and are limited by the equipment in their own facility. It is almost impossible for a direct manufacturer to be competitive in a large range of products.

When you think about, it is unreasonable to expect a single location to compete with a network of trade-only sources that specialize in various product segments. Distributors have the huge advantage when it comes to making sure your project is produced by a facility that matches the exact specifications of your project—and, also ensures competitive pricing over a broad range of print products.

3. Quality – Maintaining your brand is critical: This means upholding brand identity, adhering to style guides, and ensuring consistent print quality. Even direct manufacturers have multiple presses and various press operators to manage. What’s most important is providing the brand standard information, samples and following procedures—whether you’re working with a multiple-facility operation through a distributor or with single manufacturer. At the end of the day, the facility most committed to quality is your best bet.

4. Control – Is it really an advantage to be able to walk out onto the shop floor? Perhaps it is, but I question how often this is necessary. An important point to consider is attitude. A sales rep for a direct manufacturer works for and represents the company. Trade-only manufacturers work for distributors, and their livelihood is based on maintaining an impeccable reputation. This often results in a different attitude and perspective that translates to better quality.

5. Time – As a consumer, how much time do you have to devote to building and maintaining a trusted network of partners? How much extra time does it take to manage a stable of vendors, versus working with one trusted partner? A good distributor partner with a solid network will ensure competitive pricing, consistent quality, and customized service. In essence they’ll be an extension of your team.

As a distributor, Shamrock’s formula for success is offering the best products and services, at the best prices, for the best all-around value. It works for us—because it’s been working for our customers for 35 years.

Do agree with my rationale? Always, I welcome your feedback!
Connect with me @ bdegarmo@shamrockcompanies.net

Bob DeGarmo

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

5 Digital Advertising Tips To Maximize Your Next Campaign

Digital advertising has hit its stride—and shows no signs of slowing down. As consumers, it feeds our desire for on-demand information; and as advertisers, digital channels deliver instant gratification through real-time feedback. Unlike the old days of launching campaigns and waiting on outcomes, modern digital advertising provides campaign tracking and results that help us to make stronger and more immediate brand connections.

As with any channel, it’s smart to stay apprised of best-practices. If you’re ready to brush up on your digital advertising skills—rules that also apply to digital marketing—a recent Forbes article offers five tips to help you maximize your next campaign:

1. Use Clear Calls-To-Action. Tell your audience what you want them to do next: Upgrade today. Book now. Get involved. Successful campaigns include a call to action (CTA) that is clear, concise—and brand-driven.

Consider that your message is likely being viewed on a device that’s also displaying pop-up ads and alerts, so make your CTA stand out with clean, crisp graphics: It should funnel the reader to the next step, which is closer to the point of conversion.    

2. Create Compelling Messaging. A study from Microsoft Corp. found that people generally lose concentration after eight seconds. So, keep it simple; and always, make it relevant. Consider that digital advertising doesn’t offer much space to work with: Make every word count by using colorful language, evoking emotion, highlighting value, providing incentive, or making a strong brand connection.

3. Link to Designated Landing Pages. You’ve got your audience knocking at your front door; now, you need to welcome them in: Drive users to a landing page on your site that is relevant to them—this will help with user engagement, strengthen brand identity and boost conversion rates.

4.Imagery Matters: Make It Memorable. Capture the user’s attention by using graphics and images that resonate. Again, your ad is likely competing with other online content, so use images that draw the user in and that tell your brand story.

5.Test, Monitor & Redeploy. Start by paying attention to the finer details: Test your campaign first by deploying and making sure that all links function properly and that messaging is targeted to the correct segment. 

After launching the campaign, track results. If one segment is out-performing another, take a look at the messaging and consider retargeting. The beauty of digital is the real-time tracking and the ability to edit and then quickly redeploy to deliver the right message, to the right audience, at the right time.

The Forbes article offers some great examples of digital ad campaigns done right. To read the entire article, click on the link below:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/gabrielshaoolian/2017/04/24/5-digital-marketing-tips-to-increase-your-brands-growth-online-and-improve-ad-results/

Do you have digital advertising tips or rules that guide your campaigns? Please share your thoughts at tconnor@shamrockcompanies.net.

All the best,
Tim Connor


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Design Hacks: Two DIY Tools For Everyday Marketing

Given the relentless pace of today’s business world, many of us look to ingenious hacks or shortcuts to complete everyday tasks with greater efficiency. This post answers that charge: When you don’t have time to collaborate with your marketing team and need to quickly create a presentation or post a new product promotion on social media, these two apps will help you complete your projects with professional results.

#1. Online-Convert (O-C). This program allows users to take one file format (audio, image, ebook, video, document, or archive) and convert it into a different format (presumably one that is easier to use). 

For example, I often receive graphic files in .eps format. Since I don’t use a professional design program, I can’t view the image natively. However, I can upload the file into Online-Convert and within seconds, convert the image into a pdf, png, jpg, or gif file. 

Since many images are sent back and forth in email as pdf’s, I can easy convert these files into a .png or .jpg format and then upload and use as needed. Online-Convert is free to use.

www.online-convert.com

#2. Clipping Magic. This app allows users to remove the background around an image, or in design speak, create a “transparent” background. 

Wondering when/why you might need to create an image like this? Here is an example: You want to feature a product image in a presentation. The problem is the only version of the image you have is against a white background and your brand standards require you to use a dark background. Instead of featuring a page with white box backdrops, you can clip the image so the white background is removed.  

Normally, it takes the skill of a trained designer and a professional program like InDesign or Photoshop to do the same thing. Now, I can clip the image and then layer it on top of my presentation or other images to create a professional design. 

Clipping Magic charges a small fee per month based on the number of images you clip. For less than $8 a month, you can clip more than 100 images and save yourself countless hours and dollars in the process. 

https://clippingmagic.com

What do you think: Have you tried either of these tools? What do you use on a regular basis and find especially useful? Please share your feedback in the comments below or reach out to me directly at mtheis@shamrockcompanies.net.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

WHO'S WORKING? Tips for Staying Motivated During the Summer


The July 4th holiday is over and we’ve got a few workdays left before the weekend: So, who’s motivated to finish out the week strong? This throwback post by Bob Troop from August 2012 offers some advice for those of us who need some help staying focused during these carefree summer days…

How can employees stay motivated when it's 80-plus degrees, sunny and the pool or the golf course is calling? It's no secret that, for most of us, the temptation of a day at the beach makes it difficult to focus on work in the office in the summer.

But, through the years I've seen employees who work even harder in the summer. These are the same people who are anxious to move ahead and want to be recognized for their hard work. They use summer as the time to shine in the workplace. You can bet, during slow times, an industrious employee will be noticed!

These summer success stories have several things in common. They're self-starters who stay motivated, despite the weather. They diligently make daily "To Do" lists; they take short 15-minute summer breaks from the workday so they don't feel cheated out of summer fun (something as simple as a midday break for ice cream with an office mate); they'll suggest an outdoor meeting with a quick, written agenda to make sure the job gets done, while enjoying the summer air; or they'll take a short break to walk around outdoors, de-stress, and come back rejuvenated.

But honestly, I believe the obligation of employee summer motivation should be firmly in the employers' court. It surprises me when someone will say, "I can't believe productivity fell as low as it did this summer." My guess is they didn't prepare for the inevitable short-hot-summer-with-lots-to-pack-in before... (kids are back in school, Labor Day, leaves fall, you name it). Business leadership consultant and author Randy Harrington nails some employee incentives perfectly right here in a Fox Business News video where he discusses several ways to keep employees motivated in summer.
Shamrock Summer Outing

I also have several favorite management tips to maintain motivation during summer's heat:
A Simple High-Five - We generally recognize individual achievement during our monthly meetings and make a special effort at our annual luncheon. Food always works. If there's a great team effort, reward them with an outdoor lunch or pizza at a local restaurant. Themed lunch menus for employees, like Mexican Month, have really taken off this summer.

Goaltending - Set individual goals for the team, but make sure it's within reach and everyone can participate. It creates an atmosphere of healthy, competitive fun.

Condition the Air - You’d be surprised how hard employees will work when they feel welcome and appreciated. At Shamrock, we create a positive atmosphere of acceptance, camaraderie and unity, so that employees feel motivated to do a great job.

ONE LAST THING...
Remember when you were a kid? How much fun it was to get up each summer morning and anticipate the day? Think of some simple ways to help your employees hold on to that anticipation of a fresh, new day. Surprise your crew with a 5PM Happy Hour. Offer the staff a healthy lunch every day the temperature goes above 90. Create some fun! After all, it's a short, sweet summer.

What do you do to motivate yourself and/or your employees during the summer? Please share your ideas with us on Facebook…we’ve got plenty of summer days ahead of us! 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

All-In Athletes: 5 Pillars for Everyday Success

I was channel surfing last night and landed on ESPN’s 30 for 30 segment about basketball coach John Calipari. While I’m not a Kentucky fan, I do respect coaches who connect with their players and help them realize their potential. Calipari is a master motivator with an incredible command of the game. That was my takeaway. And it got me thinking: Isn’t that the winning combination we all need to succeed?

As a former college athlete, I often draw on lessons learned from athletics to center and motivate myself in business—and I have resource I’d like to share. All-In Athletes is an organization focused on helping high school students become the best they can be through motivational messages from top performers in different fields.

Author Joe Behm is a friend of mine from John Carroll University; he and Andy Smith collaborated on the book: All-In: Playbook to Become A Student-Athlete Role Model. The All-In messages and lessons are organized around “5 Pillars” and a simple approach to living life:


  • Smart. When talent is equal, the competitor that is better prepared mentally has the winning advantage 
  • Strong. Physical and mental strength provides a foundation to develop skills and techniques for maximum results  
  • Respectful. Respect exposes your character by the way you conduct yourself in victory and defeat 
  • Commitment. Best summed up by Pat Riley, “There are only two options regarding Commitment. You’re either IN or you’re OUT. There is no such thing as life in-between.” 
  • Honor. Being true to your personal values and ideals and being a person of integrity who can overcome fear and take action 

All-In Athletes also offers a free daily motivational quote mailed to your inbox. I’ve subscribed—and I’m enjoying them as positive preparation for my workday. To take advantage of these daily motivators, and/or to order the book, click on the link below.

www.all-inathletes.com

It’s worth checking out. Enjoy!

Tim Connor

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Marketing Success On Pinterest: Lessons from 5 Leading Brands

With more than 150 million active users, Pinterest has become the go-to resource for everything from recipes and makeup tutorials, to furniture refinishing and tattoo designs. Pinterest positions itself as the world’s catalog of ideas—but it’s also a prime channel for brand marketing: In a recent survey, 93% of pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases—and 87% have purchased a product because of a pin.

What does it take to be a standout on Pinterest among the more than 75 billion pins? Following are five lessons from top brands that are killing it on the social media channel, building brand loyalty one pin at a time.

1. Offer variety. Don’t pigeon-hole your brand. With 4.5 million followers, upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom is one of Pinterest’s most recognizable brands. They’ve created a devoted following by casting a wide net—men’s fashion, prom, handbags, denim, baby. With 443,000+ pins on 78 boards, you’re sure to find something that speaks to you at Nordstrom.

2. Find a common thread. Specialty retailer L.L. Bean is a great example of how to make a brand connection by appealing to your audience and their interests. With 5 million followers, they’re doing it right: Boards like Outdoor Fun and Take Me Fishing draw pinners to the brand based on lifestyle, activities, pursuits, etc.

3. Provide value. Give them more, and they’ll keep coming back: Home improvement retailer Lowes goes above and beyond basic product info—they also provide step-by-step tutorials to show pinners how to use those products to complete DIY-projects.

4. Make it user-friendly. How many times have you searched for an item online but then struggled to find a retailer to make the purchase? Global marketplace Etsy simplifies the process, allowing you to search, pin and purchase products directly from your digital device.

5. Keep it subtle. Instead of leading with a product pitch, why not welcome your audience in like a good friend? Lauren Conrad does just that—her Pinterest page feels like that of any user, rather than that of a brand. With 1 million+ followers, she shares inspiration and introduces new ideas and products with fellow pinners without making a hard sell.

Which brands are most prominent on your Pinterest feed? I’d be interested in your feedback. emoriarty@shamrockcompanies.net

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Now Hear This: 5 Steps to Better Listening

In today’s noisy, busy digital world, the workplace has grown increasingly loud. In response, we’ve desensitized ourselves to everyday distractions by tuning out and zoning in. And in doing so, we’ve changed the way in which we communicate, often losing sight of the value of simply listening.

Listening remains one of the most important elements of business success, particularly in sales. When you really listen, you become fully engaged: Listening allows you to understand your customer’s problems, which better positions you to formulate a solution, and ultimately, provide greater value. That value creates trusted, long-term relationships.

Sound and communication expert and 5-time TED talker, Julian Treasure, captures the lesson succinctly: Conscious listening creates understanding. It follows, then, that better listening fosters the valued business relationships we seek to create.

So, is it possible to train ourselves to be better listeners? In one of his TED talks, Treasure offers five exercises to help improve conscious listening skills:

1. Silence. Take three minutes every day to re-set your ears and recalibrate.
2. Mixer. Notice the sounds around you: Even in a noisy environment, focus on identifying the various sounds and their channels.
3. Savor. Enjoy and appreciate the mundane sounds—rain, the washing machine, birds.
4. Listening positions. Take an active role in listening by moving and adjusting your physical position: Active, passive, reductive, critical.
5. RASA: Receive. Appreciate. Summarize. Ask.
  • Receive the sound: pay attention
  • Appreciate: show that person that you are hearing them—a nod, a smile, an affirmation
  • Summarize: use of the word “so” is important in reinforcing what you’ve heard
  • Ask questions about what you’ve heard

The link below connects to Treasure’s TED talk—five minutes out of your day well spent.
https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better

Do you have techniques or tips that you use to improve your listening? If so, I’d like to hear from you. tconnor@shamrockcompanies.net

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Marketing Tips For Non-profits

While most non-profit organizations are strapped with doing a lot more with a lot less, among their greatest challenges is to stand out among other non-profits vying for donors’ attention—and dollars.

In today’s digital age, there are a host of simple and inexpensive ways for a non-profit to stretch their budget, while optimizing marketing efforts to promote their brand, connect with donors, amplify fundraising efforts, and increase donations.  

A recent article from Forbes magazine offers five tips for non-profits to reach donors:

1. Use social media. To reach donors, you need to connect with them where they are—and Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is where they reside. Place ads on these channels and take advantage of analytics to ensure the best ROI.

2. Make your message clear. Transparency is important: Donors want to understand exactly how their money being spent and the impact it will have.

3. Use content. Content marketing is a powerful way to demonstrate to donors what you stand for and to make them passionate about your goals. Use video or link back to a landing page to gain more traction for your message.

4. Take SEO seriously. In order for donors to give money, they have to be able to find you online—so embed social media feeds, ads, blogs and key words to boost SEO.

5. Write a blog. This platform gives you the opportunity to share more about your cause and to tell your brand story.

Also popular among my non-profit clients is the use of custom and turnkey digital apps. These apps can include a host of event or campaign-specific functions such as push notifications, GPS/map features, schedule of events, social media tags, response polling, video links, program updates—the list goes on. As with any brand-promoting effort, the key to non-profit marketing success is to use an integrated strategy that employs multiple channels as part of one seamless campaign.

What is the most memorable non-profit marketing campaign that caught your attention? I’d be interested in hearing from you. bphillips@shamrockcompanies.net


 Brian Phillips

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

6 Tips For Productive Sales Meetings

Like many sales organizations, Shamrock gathers our team for an annual sales meeting to provide updates, share new ideas and build team camaraderie. For companies like ours with geographically dispersed locations, it’s even more important to bring the entire team together at one time, in one place, to create connections and allow for face-to-face conversations: These interactions are essential to our team-centered culture. 

Over the years, we’ve developed our own formula for managing engaging, productive sales meetings. We start by creating a theme for our annual sales meetings to frame content and messaging. And we bring in vendor partners as guest speakers to provide timely, insightful presentations about marketing solutions relevant to every sales rep.

While Shamrock usually opts for an offsite venue, this year we held the meeting at our corporate headquarters, which allowed sales reps to connect and integrate with the rest of our employees at the home office. More than 30 years in sales has taught us: Change is good and mixing things up helps keep the entire team energized.

If you’re preparing for your team’s meeting, consider these tips below from Entrepreneur magazine for organizing a productive sales meeting:

1.    Start with an energizer. Engage the group right from the start to set the tone for the meeting…introduce a motivational speaker, a video, or a group ice breaker.
2.    Keep it simple. As you build your agenda, ask yourself: “Does this need to be included as part of the group meeting…or is this best managed as a sidebar?”
3.    Manage individual updates. Give yourself a time allotment for updates—and stick to it.
4.    Motivate and reward. Build motivation into the team meeting by making sales reps feel supported and appreciated. Use awards—funny, team challenges, performance-based—or simple hand-written thank-you’s.
5.    Capability activity. Make sure reps walk away with new information that they can use to better manage and grow their business—whether that’s a new CRM platform or tips for bolstering social media presence.
6.    Keep to a standard agenda. By following the above steps, you’ve created your agenda: Use it to keep you focused and on track.   

Do you have unique elements or program features that are part of your annual sales meeting? We’d like to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Honoring Powerful Women.

In 2012, Shamrock celebrated women throughout the entire month of May. Digging through our archives, we found this oldie but goodie: A blog by Bob Troop about the influence of powerful women. So, before this month comes to a close we’d like to share this post from May 2012…its message still resonates with us today.

MAY BRINGS FLOWERS, MOTHER'S DAY AND POWERFUL WOMEN. This week Bob provides some interesting facts about women in powerful places.
May, moms and flowers. Since this is the month of Mother's Day and there's an abundance of blooming flowers, these three naturally go together. As kids, we always scrounged enough money together to buy a card and flowers for mom. My kids always remember their mom on Mother's Day, and I hope this tradition continues in every household.

But today Mother's Day is different in many homes, from single moms, to two moms, to CEO moms. Many working mothers today hold powerful and significant positions in government, business and the media. While the glass ceiling may still be visible, it's filled with cracks and holes and appears to be weakening year by year.

One thing is clear as a bell: more and more, successful women in business are not forsaking motherhood for business success. For example, one astounding statistic that was brought to my attention is that 88% of women on the 2011 Forbes' List of The World's Most Powerful Women are mothers with an average of 2.5 children!

While many women aspire to have it all: Mom, Wife, CEO of Big Business, some women choose to start their own business so they can manage a career and motherhood to meet their personal needs. If their choice is to own and manage their own business, I say, "Go for it."

However, I like to think that moms who work at Shamrock can have it all! At Shamrock we value and respect the needs of all parents who may require time away from work to be with their children or other family members. But the truth is that many large corporations are not so understanding. Susan Spencer, former general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, raised an interesting point when she was interviewed on CBS (CBS News interview with Susan Spencer). Spencer, the first woman to manage a major sports team, said, "... It's all in the numbers – women are more likely to be discriminated against, passed over for raises and just passed over even when they're not asking for flextime and a maternity leave so they can raise a family. I think women who are raising a family are better off starting their own company than working for someone else..."

ONE LAST THING... The bottom line is, each of us must decide how to balance work and family life. Regardless of whether we're moms, dads, single or married, our success comes not just from our job away from home, but from the joy and pleasure we achieve in our time away from our job.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Boost self-discipline. Here’s how.

Look in the mirror and answer yourself honestly: Do you have self-discipline? Many of us strive for things within our reach—better health, a happier life, earning more money. If you have a goal, and a plan to achieve that goal, the only thing standing in your way is…you, and the self-discipline required to execute your plan. Here’s an example:

•    Goal: Earn more money
•    Plan: Write a detailed business plan with     tasks required to achieve better results
•    Execution: Make time to work my plan every day, consistently!

Simple, right? Not so much. The execution is where we often fall short, and can be due to a lack of self-discipline: I’m too tired to go to work early. I didn’t have time to make those extra calls today.


Self-discipline requires you to focus on your purpose—what you really want. And it also requires a focused practice.  A recent Forbes article offers six strategies to help increase self-discipline:

1.    Acknowledge your weaknesses (uncomfortable making cold calls or speaking to a crowd?)
2.    Establish a clear plan
3.    Remove temptation when necessary (social media, office distractions)
4.    Practice tolerating emotional discomfort (getting past rejection)
5.    Visualize long-term rewards
6.    Recover from mistakes effectively

Does your lack of self-discipline keep you from achieving what you want in life? If so, look in the mirror and take back control, one step at a time.

Good luck,
Bob DeGarmo

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

LLS Cleveland Campaign Earns $584,000


What an amazing fundraising effort: 8 candidates. 10 weeks. $584,000 earned for LLS.

This past weekend at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) 2017 Man and Woman of the Year campaign wrapped up at the annual Gala event.

Supported by my incredible team, we raised $81,477 for LLS, and in doing so, I was humbled and proud to receive Cleveland’s 2017 Man of the Year title—a distinction that I share with all of those who worked during the past 10 weeks of the competition to raise funds to find a cure for blood cancers.

I was blown away by the generosity of the NE Ohio community and beyond: People gathered in Charlotte at a neighborhood BBQ, solicited and donated auction items, and participated online to support my campaign. On behalf of leukemia survivors like my sister-in-law Katie, as well as those who are battling the disease today, thank you!

I’m pleased to have served as a voice for those whose lives have been affected by cancer—and I’ll continue to support LLS in working to make someday, today.     

Tim Connor



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Use Marketing Asset Management To Drive Association Membership

In survey after survey, associations of all sizes cite building and retaining membership as their greatest challenge. So how do you attract and engage members? Assuming your association offers attractive, tangible member benefits, the next step is to promote that message through branded marketing.

Marketing asset management (MAM) is a smart solution for managing personalized, brand-driven association marketing initiatives for both your chapters and members.

Efficient program deployment. From a single online portal, MAM allows you to manage your entire marketing effort. Tradeshow banners, apparel, email campaigns: MAM displays the options available to your chapters. Each chapter can then co-brand the items with their location-specific information.

Brand control. MAM delivers the control and consistency that is vitally important to brand protection, with the ease of online ordering and fulfillment. Your association’s brand guidelines are programmed into the site, as is market-specific data, which allows you to pre-program select marketing assets available to specific chapters or regions.

Easy co-op management. MAM has built-in functionality that allows chapters to order pre-approved branded items such as gifts, or promotional items for giveaways, using co-op dollars. Substantial savings. MAM streamlines the marketing automation process by housing all marketing assets and offering personalization—all with a few clicks. The result is significant savings, both time and money.

Comprehensive. MAM automates day-to-day marketing management within one portal and can be embedded with twitter feeds and other social media links to provide an at-a-glance view of all association marketing activity, from one dashboard.

Do you use a MAM tool for your association marketing? Are you interested in learning more? I’d like to hear from you…klawlor@shamrockcompanies.net

Kathy Lawlor



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Account Based Marketing 2017

Most of us agree that it feels good when someone we’ve just met makes it a point to remember and greet us by name. That personal connection is the warm and fuzzy foundation of the latest industry buzzword: ABM, or Account Based Marketing.  ABM is the practice of targeting individual prospect/customer accounts, as opposed to taking a broad-based approach to marketing to wider groups or verticals.

While we’ve actually been doing this for years, the recent clamor surrounding ABM stems from the fact that today, with the advent of intuitive online tools, it’s easier than ever to combine sales and marketing in one seamless effort. Now, the left hand effortlessly works in conjunction with the right without wasting time and energy bouncing back and forth between departments.
 
Essentially, ABM is a laser-focused B2B strategy that allows us, as marketers, to hone in on potential/existing customers within a market, and then deliver personalized messaging that resonates with them, using specific and relevant channels.

According to the latest data from Aberdeen, 75% of customers prefer personalized offers. The ABM approach is rooted in that personalized customer engagement: It aligns sales and marketing efforts to target, engage, and then generate revenue from high-value customers or leads.

This summarizes the basic ABM steps:
  1. Define high-value accounts/prospects and prioritize based on revenue potential
  2. Identify key players and decision makers within each organization
  3. Strategize content and messaging that speaks to the organization’s specific business challenges and makes a personal connection
  4. Identify key channels best used to communicate with your target audience
  5. Launch targeted, coordinated campaigns aligning sales and marketing efforts while managing content delivery across all channels
  6. Test, measure and re-deploy as needed   
Done right, ABM requires a data and lead-generation platform and a system for managing the moving parts of an integrated marketing and sales effort.  If you’re interested in learning more about the options available, click here for a great blog that outlines the Top 12 ABM Tools.

Have you used any of these platforms as part of your ABM effort? I’d be interested in hearing from you tconnor@shamrockcompanies.net.

All The Best,
Tim Connor

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tips For Successful Event Marketing


A successful special event takes more than an engaging program and an open bar, it requires strategic marketing to drive attendance at, and create a buzz surrounding, the event experience.


Following is an essential event marketing checklist to keep the effort on track:

  1. Why/Who? Consider these questions first: Why and to whom are you marketing your event? Is this an annual meeting? A women in leadership event? The answers will shape messaging and drive marketing decisions.
  2. Survey. Send out a survey prior to the event—the responses will help shape content and can be used to generate ideas for session topics, speakers, etc.
  3. Invitations. Start with a save-the-date (card or email) 8 weeks out; and 4 weeks prior, follow with an invitation that provides complete event details.
  4. Content. Make it relevant to your audience. If it’s not, leave it out.
  5. Email. Take advantage of your regular email campaign schedule and use that as a platform to promote your event.
  6. Blog. Beginning four weeks prior to your event, blog weekly. Add videos to engage your audience: If you have footage from the previous year’s event, use that to drive interest and excitement; or create new video highlighting speakers, entertainment, venue, etc.
  7. Homepage link. In all communication (email, blog, social channels) provide a link back to your event homepage where people can register.
  8. Social media. Take advantage of all social media channels to market your event before, during and after. Facebook is the most popular social media choice leading up to and after an event, while Twitter holds the top spot during events. (Source: FreemanXP, Event Marketing Institute)
  9. Track results. Check to see what’s working from the links in different channels (i.e., email, blog, Facebook). Redeploy as applicable.
  10. Promo items. Consider your audience and put thought into choosing a useful and/or unique gift.
Prior to the event, I always meet with my team to help outline individual charges: During the event, who do you want to meet? What are you hoping to glean? What does that conversation look like? 

This is the event marketing framework that I’ve found to be most useful. Are there other items that you would add?  Connect with me msmith@shamrockcompanies.net.

Megan Smith



Megan has been with Shamrock for a year and a half and previously in advertising and Event Sales for 14 years.  She has a son who is a freshman in high school and plays baseball and hockey.  She loves Cleveland sports, plus is looking forward to attending the Masters next year.  Megan is the beloved “Kick-Ball Manager” here at Shamrock for our team that competes in Flashes of Hope to raise money for childhood cancer.