Loose pieces: a mini guide to solving the SEO puzzle.

SEO is a popular, relatively inexpensive way of connecting businesses to audiences. So what’s the big deal with it, why are so many ‘how to’s’ posts out there?

If you type the word ‘SEO’ on Google, the search engine will spit out 490+ million pages that cover the subject in a way or another. A bit of perspective: that amount of results represents more than what we’d get by typing ‘Hillary Clinton’ or ‘Barack Obama’, whose combined search results – last time we’ve checked – add up to 416 million pages. Surprised? Welcome to the strange world of SEO.

Continue reading “Loose pieces: a mini guide to solving the SEO puzzle.”

The road to prestige: 5 steps towards a better reputation

A funny thing happens when you start asking about the concept of reputation: almost every answer will say, in a way or another, that reputation is everything. It’s not everyday that you see a majority of people agreeing upon something, but reputation seems to carry a different gravitas in our heads.

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Marketing for small businesses Vs Marketing for startups: the key differences

Startups and small businesses may look alike, but they’re not the same.

One of the hardest things about marketing is to effectively differentiate between trends and good practices. While most professions deal with their share of trends, in the world of marketing they’ve become ubiquitous: the supposedly latest/hottest never fails to show up on our news feed pretty much every day, leading to a number of curious situations.

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Reasons why your brand needs more than one story

The rule is to never put your eggs in one basket.

As strategists, we tend to calculate risks on a daily basis. In order to mitigate risk without losing thrust and creativity, we’ve found out that a simple rule can do a lot for both our jobs and the brands we represent. The rule is to never put your eggs in one basket. This might be one of the oldest tricks in the bag of a financial advisor, but what does it have to do with branding?

Working in marketing and PR isn’t a mathematically precise endeavor where 2+2 always makes 4. Despite all the measuring tools, tracking apps and data crunching software there’s always room for a surprise element to come up and while unexpected results are by all means rare, they do exist. When a surprise comes up as a good one champagne is poured, but if things go wrong…well, nobody really wants that.

Generally speaking, brands today rely on (mostly) two things: values and stories. As we’ve shown before, values act as cornerstones for a brand. Stories, on the other hand, are the reflections of the brand’s values. They can take up many different forms in relation to a number of variables – and as long as they stay in line with the core values, that’s OK. The curious thing about this, however, is the number of brands that tend to rely on one story at a time. While we can’t fully explain the reasons behind this kind of strategies, we can provide reasons to explain why having more than one story at a time is good for a brand.

  1. Diversity is a very real thing. Both individuals and groups can be defined not by one, but by a countless number of stories. For example, a person can’t be defined solely for the job position it holds. That very same person can be a loving mother, a Star Wars fan and an ultra-competitive gamer, all at the same time. The same principle works for brands, and it’s something people can actually relate to. It’s up to us and the brands we work with to define which stories are worth to be shared and why.
  1. The potential of authenticity. In order to keep a brand close to its audience, we need to make it authentic and real. To illustrate what ‘good’ authenticity means let’s take a look at the case of GoPro. They impulse their audiences to capture and share their worlds, transforming the thousands of user stories into GoPro’s stories.  
  1. The power of surprise. Get inspired by your brand’s values and be a provider of good surprises. The brands that dedicate resources to providing this kind of experiences to its audiences (think Facebook’s ‘Friends Video’ tool) usually get good responses.  

To summarize, a brand that surprises with diverse stories in an authentic way is nothing but a healthy brand – and will likely be perceived that way by its audiences.  

Lead the way: 5 cost-effective lead generation ideas

Today we’re introducing 5 cost-effective lead generation ideas. It’s time to start getting those eyeballs!

Brands today are fighting a new kind of battle. To be precise, the battle itself isn’t entirely new: what has radically changed is the arena where the battle takes place. The constant expansion and evolution of the internet’s many ecosystems (each one with their own boundaries, trends, do’s and don’ts) are nothing but a challenging panorama for modern-day brands. We’re in the middle of an increasingly bigger scenario – rich, diverse and seemingly infinite, but also more complex than anything we’ve seen before.

Like every battle ever fought on an arena, there’s a prize to be won here. For brands, the ultimate prize is nothing else than the customers’ attention. Of course, every brand has its own set of goals, but none of these will become real unless the company succeeds at grabbing people’s attention. Once there, things tend to go smoother. Today we’re introducing 5 cost-effective lead generation ideas. It’s time to start getting those eyeballs!

  1. Share your brand’s knowledge (and please, make it interesting). The reason why sharing works great is that people usually listens to what experts say. Recently, the Scottish brewery BrewDog became news for sharing its recipes for free, online. They received massive attention by sharing their knowledge in the right moment. The same principle works for (almost) every brand that does their thing out there.
  1. Talk about what you know. Similar to sharing, but not quite the same. A brand’s knowledge often goes beyond the products and services they’re selling / promoting. A good example lies within the companies that excel at outdoors clothing and gear. People expect them to know about waterproof fabrics and stuff like that – which is about right, but not the whole picture. Companies like the North Face are nature experts, and talk about what they know from an informed perspective. In other words: the best way to start the conversation is by starting with the brand’s stronger arguments.
  1. Experiences over giveaways. Giveaways generate a lot of ‘false leads’. In other words, people caring for an instant at best. On the other hand, giveaways can be integrated into larger experiences that aren’t exclusively focused on the gift. Regular giveaways feel meaningless, while experiences are remembered in disregard of winning the gift or not.
  1. Be part of your community. This doesn’t mean mingling with the neighbors or going for drinks with the competition. In a broader sense, a community is a group of people (or organizations) that share something in common. The key is to identify the common ground that exists between the brand and a community. Affinity can be a lot of things: from design patterns and music to beer preferences and humanitarian causes. Being an active part of a community not only is rewarding, but also a great way to build bridges between the brand and the members of such community.
  1. Maintain your communication channels active – and keep’em real. Two final notes here. First, seize what Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (and so many other platforms) give. Secondly, be real. Speak a language that your customers can relate to, don’t over promise and be sincere about what your brand does, is and thinks. A brand that maintains open and active channels while speaking the same language of their customers will always be closer to them than every other competitor who doesn’t do this.

A million screens await: why creativity is a PR campaign’s #1 asset

There’s always two sides to every story, and digital PR is no exception. Today, we’re going to talk about a major PR channel: videos. Nowadays, video channels are more popular than ever before, and platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo are being added as another layer of marketing for companies.

In terms of PR, the bright side of the video-sharing platforms is made of the many benefits that these offer: put together, they hold a +2 billion people audience per month. Also, they offer tools that make performance easy to follow up and give many customization options to campaign managers. All good things. On the other side, there’s no such thing as easy victories: in these platforms, content is uploaded at astonishing rates, competition is merciless and attention spans are limited.

Given that the potential audience for a PR campaign can be counted on the billions, a challenge-abundant scenario should not appear as totally absurd. The key, however, lies within choices. When planning a PR campaign, there’s nothing more important than learning to pick the right battles.

Poorly chosen battles aren’t really news. Day after day we get to see multi-million video productions fail against homemade videos, grandiloquent causes forgotten due to weak messages. While it’s great to count on some extra money when developing a campaign, money itself won’t come in the rescue. Above all the millions, way past an excellent media plan and beyond every possible celebrity backup, the most important thing in a PR campaign remains to be creativity.

Creativity is the main ingredient for a successful PR campaign. The benefits of creativity go beyond the message itself. For example, the famous ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ relied on a creative concept that reduced production costs to nearly zero: people were making and sharing their own videos. It was, at the same time, one of the most successful and cheap PR campaigns ever.

Creativity is virtually limitless, except for one thing: every creative effort must be aligned with the brand’s values – otherwise, it wouldn’t make much sense. The Ice Bucket Challenge showed how a campaign can be aligned with a charitable cause and the core values of an organization.

On the other hand, if everything goes well and success is attained, the campaign will be scrutinized by the public. This means that at least a portion of the audience will connect the dots that separate what the campaign says from what the brand does and says (and what has done and said in the past), looking for contradictions. There aren’t many brands that want to be found between a rock and a hard place, and the only way to avoid such situation is to remain faithful to the values.

To conclude, it’s good to clarify that while creativity is the most important aspect of a campaign, it’s far from being foolproof. It will not guarantee low production costs or rapid viralization. However, creativity will provide alternatives and options that, given the ultra competitive context, can make the difference that a brand desires. That alone is worth the creative effort.

4 questions to evaluate your brand’s online presence

Nowadays, every brand – big or small – needs a consistent online presence. An articulated, strategically planned, cost-effective presence is the ideal scenario, but not always the case. Reasons why a carefully developed online presence is necessary are multiple and fairly obvious:

  • Increasing the brand’s value
  • Boost revenue
  • Improve brand-audiences communication
  • Get valuable data from interactions

On the bright side, it’s good to notice that most brands make – or have made – significant efforts to build their online presences, though the results tend to be more diverse than successful. While there’s no common ground for evaluating pure success, we’ve made a small questionnaire to help shine a light on a brand’s online presence status – assuming they have one, of course. Here it goes:

4-questions

  1. What do you know about your audiences? How did they start following you? Did you get them through paid campaigns or because of your awesomeness? Can you define your audiences using real data? Knowing who you’re dealing with makes things a lot easier for everyone, trust us.
  1. What are the interactions like? How do your audiences react to what you post? What percentage of your follower base interacts with your posts? Do they communicate with you? What are they saying? What are you saying? Reaping the benefits of great interactions requires both a strategy and an eye for detail to cover spontaneous situations. While the first can be defined beforehand, the second must be trained.
  1. Is there a strategy? Are you following a plan or just going where the wind blows? How is it working? What would you change?
  1. Is data driving your decisions? Information – in the form of hard data – should drive at least a portion of the things you do. A/B testing is a relatively inexpensive way to gather useful data about your online actions – from eyeballs to conversions, it shows what works and what doesn’t. Also, following up on the brand’s multiple actions – i.e. emailing campaigns, content uploads, responses – is a valid way to improve the quality of its online presence.

The questions above are useful to get an initial picture of the brand’s online presence. In addition, keeping track of related variables is a good habit and it will save both time and money in the future. Remember: asking the right questions is the first step towards the the right path.