• Three Steps to Supercharge Your Creative Process

    The creative process is not how most people perceive it. If we were to believe the stories on TV, all you’d need is a flash of genius from which everything else would come naturally.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Case In Point

    We recently tackled a website project that was quite the internal roller coaster.

    Our creative team diligently developed the requirements. They defined the visual identity. A wire frame lead to a basic layout, and functionality was heavily debated. Simply put, we tried to design something unique and original. When the mockups were completed, we discovered that the website was, well… ordinary.

    We were going nowhere fast.

    Later that week our creative director spent a day by the pool.

    While sitting in the sun watching the water and listening to planes fly overhead, he was struck with an entirely new design. The layout was radically different, and a new user experience was imagined that solved the steps to the client’s sales process.

    As he sketched in his notebook with colored pencils, a visually stunning site emerged. It was a new design unlike anything we’d seen before.

    What happened at the pool could be defined as a eureka moment, or perhaps an epiphany. The classic flash of creative genius.

    Except it wasn’t.

    The Definition of Creativity

    You are creative.

    No matter what you think about your abilities now, groundbreaking research by George Land and Beth Jarman suggests that creativity is not learned, it’s unlearned.

    From an early age, habits, doubts, negative feedback, and failures teach us that we just aren’t cut out to create. Unfortunately, we take it to heart. However, the truth is that the unlimited creative power of a child lies inside each of us and is ready to be reclaimed.

    Another common misconception about creativity is that it’s limited to the arts. The Creative Department of any organization is usually the place where media is made while the talent plays hacky-sack.

    We think it’s time to restore the age-old definition of creativity:

    Creativity is assembling ideas, concepts, processes, or products in a novel and useful way.

    The ability to be original and creatively assemble things should exist across all departments in any organization. The greatest value an employee can add is fresh ideas. On that day by the pool, our Creative Director assembled an idea in a way that surprised us. But it wasn’t a stroke of genius. It was more perspiration than inspiration” to paraphrase Thomas Edison.

    The Three Steps of the Creative Process

    In order to understand what happens when a novel idea comes into the world, let’s break down the creative process into three steps.

    Research

    Harvard Astronomer Abraham Loeb wrote, “Ideas originate from pregnant minds.

    Creative ideas start with research. This is the germination phase.

    Ordinarily, the results are less than amazing whenever we try to hastily jump into drawing a logo or designing a flyer. That’s because our brains are hardwired to process and recreate from existing materials. Nothing is made from scratch. In what is probably the greatest myth of creation, the genius inventor does not conjure magic out of thin air. That’s not how we work at all.

    In a fascinating piece for Smithsonian Magazine, Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman wrote, “Across the spectrum of human activities, prior art propels the creative process.”

    They go on to explain, “Many people have figuratively stood in thunderstorms, waiting for the creative lightning to strike. But creative ideas evolve from existing memories and impressions.”

    When designing a new logo for a client, we always start by defining the essence of the company. We explore both how they see themselves and how their customers see them. Since a logo is truly the public face of the brand’s promise you have to design an identity that conveys their brand message with a single glance. In that regard, we have to immerse ourselves in the deeper details of the client’s business in order to come to an accurate result.

    Pencil to paper is not the beginning of the creative process; it’s actually closer to the end. Our brains have already done the work. We just have to fill it with the correct raw materials.

    How do we do that? We have a three step Discovery process at Divining Point.

    1. Explore: Gather data about the project. Learn everything you can and devour as much information as possible.
    2. Mood: What is the emotion of the product? How do you want the user to feel when experiencing it? Explore things that make you feel the same way. Music, arts, books. Reach for anything that brings you into the moment.
    3. Inspiration: Look at things you like, but avoid the same sector if possible. We recommend crossing genres and disciplines that inspire you to be creative. The idea is simply to enjoy other people’s work. If you want to be extra inventive, find a general category, like Art Deco or Bauhaus, for example, and identify the seeds that could become something new.

    Absorb as much as you can during this step, and surrender yourself into it with abandon. This exploration leads you to the critical next step in the Creative Process.

    Germination

    “If a quantum system is probed too often, it tends to stay in the same state.” – Abraham Loeb

    If you look directly at a star in the night sky, it dims as your eye adjusts to its light level. The best way to see a star is to look somewhere near it in the darkness and observe the star with your peripheral vision.

    This is how the brain works.

    The majority of the brain’s functions don’t occur in your conscious, but instead in the back of your mind. We tend to look at our thoughts as the ideas we are aware of, but as it says in the book Cognitive Psychology and Information Processing: “Most of what we do goes on unconsciously. It is the exception, not the rule, when thinking is conscious, but by its very nature, conscious thought seems the only sort. It is not the only sort; it is the minority.

    This is where your creativity lies. It’s behind the scenes. We have to harness the power of this hidden computer if we ever want to reach our creative potential.

    Dr Robert Williams wrote in the Journal Psyche“Our conscious minds work much more slowly than our nonconscious minds, and are overall less adept at processing information, less efficient at the task. The nonconscious mind therefore can be said to be more intelligent than the conscious mind.”

    It’s a system that is designed to do amazing things, once you’ve filled your subconscious with the necessary raw data. That’s the Research step. The Germination step is how you pull that information together to create something beautiful.

    Back to our Creative Director sitting by the pool. His subconscious was churning and grinding, mixing together the conversations, debates, research, emotions, and moods he was immersed in for many weeks prior. The creativity wasn’t the product of a spark of genius. It was the processing of a supercomputer with the right raw data inputs. We all have this computer.

    Brian Tracy put it best: “Your subconscious mind is subjective. It does not think or reason independently; it merely obeys the commands it receives from your conscious mind.”

    In other words, input the right information, then take a shower.

    It’s the situations that allow your mind to work without interruption that we have to seek out.

    BrightHouse CEO Joey Reiman wasn’t kidding when he said, “the five last bastions of thinking are the car, the john, the shower, the church or synagogue, and the gym.”

    If you’ve been asked to create something original, you can expect your ideas to be a parrot of what has already been done if you can’t make time for the process.

    Implementation

    This is the Eureka moment! Your computer delivers the final report.

    When this happens, move deliberately. Approach it like you would when remembering a dream. When the fleeting image of your nighttime adventure pops into your head, the worst thing you can do is focus on it and poke and prod the memory. Instead you have to relax and let it happen.

    The same thing is true of the creative moment. Relax. Let the ideas naturally assemble. When you are satisfied with what you’ve received, write it down, repeat it to somebody, or draw it. Do whatever it takes to cement the work of your subconscious into the reality of your consciousness.

    This step takes practice. It’s very possible that you are a bit rusty with the act of materializing a creative idea, but every time you go experience the creative process you’ll find your ideas getting stronger and far more creative.

    ***

    Need to take your creative to the next level? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • Q&A With Our Digital Marketing Strategist, Paige Perrault

    From teenage entrepreneur to corporate marketing, our Digital Marketing Strategist, Paige Perrault, has seen it all. We sat down with her to learn how businesses can break through in a competitive marketplace, and how destination marketing and hospitality companies should embrace data analysis to reach new travelers. 

    Okay, let’s start with the beginning. You have quite a bit of experience in marketing. What originally led you to pursue a career in marketing? 

    It goes back to being 14 or 15 years old. I always had the entrepreneurial spirit. I was always trying to find ways to make money and start different businesses. As I got older I realized how important it is to do things that would let people know who I am and what I was offering. I realized this was the key to success. 

    What was your first business?

    At 14, I did hair and makeup for prom and beauty pageants, which were big in Georgia where I grew up. 

    Wait! What??

    I know! People trusted me because my mom was a well-known photographer and hair & makeup artist, so they assumed I knew what I was doing. My mom trained me on everything, so I was like, I’m going to take this knowledge and now I’m going to charge people!

    That’s awesome. So, you started learning at a young age. When did you decide you wanted to pursue marketing?

    I was a psychology major and quickly realized I wasn’t going to be a psychologist. I have a personality that isn’t well-suited for doing the exact same thing every day. I figured there was another way to use psychology that could be applied to the business side of things. So, I decided I wanted to learn more about marketing, and it just evolved into this thing where it helped my business. 

    I kept my business running and started working with a marketing agency where I continued learning as I went forward. I learned how to run an agency, how to find clients and what kind of work needed to be done to help them. If I didn’t know something, I had to learn it, and I had to learn it fast!

    A lot of businesses go through that. They realize they need to do marketing, and they’re not quite sure how to do it. As they experience it for themselves, part of that learning becomes, “I need to get someone else to do this”. 

    Exactly. 

    So, give us a snapshot of how your career developed before you joined Divining Point. 

    I worked with a startup and helped build that company from the ground up. I got so much experience during that time and learned about each aspect of branding, marketing and business. 

    After that I moved to Atlanta, where my family is from, and decided to change it up. I went into corporate marketing. I was the Marketing Director for a hospitality company that had a portfolio of hotels and resorts, mainly Marriott and Choice hotels. I definitely learned a lot from that experience. Corporate accounts have very strict brand guidelines with very little flexibility. I had to make things happen without taking too many risks. 

    Okay. Tell us about your role as Digital Marketing Strategist at Divining Point. 

    I handle strategy, SEO, digital marketing, analytics, and all the data and research. I have to decide where we go with a client’s marketing strategy, what changes we need to make, and what we want to happen. So, it’s really just staring at a computer, which I really don’t mind. I enjoy it, because it keeps my mind active all day. 

    As someone who stares at research and data all day, what’s one mistake you see companies make with their marketing strategies? 

    There are a couple of things. 

    For one, marketing is always changing, and while you might know your business and your customers, you also have to consider that the way people consume media and make purchases is always changing. We deal with it every day… For example, a change with Google’s algorithm, well, that messes with everything! These kinds of changes require a change in strategy. So, I think the mistake companies make is not understanding the value of having someone leading marketing strategy who stays up to date on the trends and changes in marketing. 

    I also think businesses make the mistake of sticking to the same strategy that worked five years ago, even though they’re not really seeing results. They’re just not willing to step outside of their comfort zone. It’s tough to make decisions if you don’t fully understand the changes that are happening, the value of different types of marketing, and how this can affect your business. 

    Coming back to hospitality and destination marketing. Is there something these businesses should do to stay competitive in today’s economy? 

    When I was in corporate, the best tool I had was research. I trusted the statistics and data that I found. We had resorts that were in destination areas where they not only had to bring in business from travelers, but also locals. They had restaurants, attractions and wedding facilities that needed to survive the off season. There are so many revenue streams that can be created. If you know the different demographics and understand the data, you can capitalize on those opportunities. 

    If you are a tourist destination marketing organization, it’s not only just about making money for your group, but also all the local businesses and the entire economy in your area. If you do the research correctly, and if you have a marketing team that can execute your vision, there is unlimited potential. 

    That’s interesting. So, what you’re saying is destination marketing organizations should do more research and analysis into the opportunities out there and potentially find ways to bring more people to their destination. 

    And trust your marketing team! When they suggest, for example, that Facebook is a strong way to attract travelers over the age of 50, they’re telling the truth. That demographic spends much more time online now. They’re not really reading newspapers as much as they used to. The data shows this over and over. 

    It can be pretty frustrating for marketers when a business disputes the actual data. Some businesses are afraid. They’re putting money into something that they want to work, and they’re scared to make any changes. But we’re not in the business of developing a strategy so that you won’t get a return. 

    They’re trying to manage risk. They’re making an investment and putting so much on the line, particularly for any destination marketing organization. They’re not just making decisions that affect businesses, but also for the entire economy, right?

    That’s right. The research and the data should make those decisions easier. 

    That brings up something we’ve discussed internally how we’re marrying brains and beauty, letting data dictate marketing strategy and supporting that with great creative and visual storytelling. 

    Absolutely. I’ve noticed over the past few months several campaigns from different states and cities that have chosen to develop good content and smart advertising campaigns for their destination marketing. And for me, it really stood out, whereas others who were not doing that didn’t have the same effect. 

    There’s so much opportunity to reach new travelers and capture their attention to build up their desire to visit your place. You have to reach them on social media, especially Instagram, and in Search and Display. And you have to create beautiful content to let people know about all the things your place has to offer. 

    ***

    Want to put your destination on the map? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • Stop Shooting From the Hip: In Praise Of the Marketing Process

    Successful businesses understand the value of a solid marketing process. They’re living proof. Without sound planning and a steady routine, businesses crash and burn. You can’t wing it forever without making irreparable mistakes.

    Years of hard work and brand value are quickly erased when a company decides to eschew the fundamentals of sound marketing. What follows is a steady decline in website traffic, stagnating sales, and the abyss of negative cash flow.

    An army would never rush into battle without a strategy. So why do so many businesses skip proper planning?

    It’s Not So Simple

    Companies are doomed to repeat mistakes when they’ve benefitted from a lucky streak. Enamored with their success, they fail to objectively analyze the true reasons for their achievement. They repeat the same steps over and over in the fruitless pursuit of the fleeting victory they once enjoyed. Lightning never strikes twice.

    In other cases, business owners use “busy-ness” as an excuse to skip the hard work of marketing. It’s understandable. Everyone is busy. Especially business owners. But if you’re too busy to plan for success, you will eventually be too busy shutting down your company. There’s no justification for doing things wrong.

    Businesses without a process engage in “reactive” management practices. Every decision is a last minute fire drill responding to crisis. It demoralizes your employees. It exhausts your partners. And believe it or not, your customers know.

    The strongest brands are proactive. They create a strategy. They stick to a plan.

    Successful Marketing Starts With A Plan

    You are far more likely to succeed when you have a plan for success. This is made possible by using a marketing process. Failure to use a process equals failure to plan. Failure to plan means shooting from the hip.

    The steps to the Marketing Process are:

    1. Define Your Mission
    2. Analysis & Research
    3. Define Your Strategy
    4. Set Your Marketing Mix
    5. Execute Your Campaigns
    6. Analyze & Optimize

    Define Your Mission

    Simply put, this step answers the questions of “What is your company’s purpose?” and “What do you need to do?”. While these seem like straightforward and enduring objectives, your mission will always be determined by a variety of factors:

    • What is our brand?
    • What are our values?
    • What is our culture?
    • What value do we offer?
    • What is happening in the market?
    • How stable is our company?

    Analysis & Research

    This tends to be the phase that companies rush or ignore.

    Many business owners think they have a solid handle on their place in the market, but the fact of the matter is there is constant pressure being applied to your operation from internal and external forces. If you do not routinely assess your position and your weaknesses, you will overlook opportunities and threats that could change your standing.

    There are a variety of analytical exercises to help with this phase:

    SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)

    5C Analysis

    PEST Analysis

    There are many others, including some that are specific to your industry. Whether you frequently perform these tasks or not, an extensive amount of research should be conducted during each marketing cycle.

    The market is moving. Consumer interests change. Sales volume is fluid. If you’re not looking at historical data and reviewing the world around you, you won’t be able to make smart decisions on how to proceed.

    Define Your Strategy

    Imaging a scene from an old war movie. Generals and admirals are standing around a map. They know their mission. They’ve assessed their ranks and their competition. Looking intently at the enemy’s position on the table, they run through hypothetical strategies and discuss each scenario objectively.

    Much like the military, every business is subject to a wide range of benefits and consequences for every step they take. Defining your strategy allows you to identify your position, set marketing goals, determine your target audience and establish KPIs.

    You may have used the same strategy since your company’s formation. If it still works, then so be it. However, we recommend running through the scenarios every time you reach this stage in the process. It’s quite likely the landscape will change one day, and you’ll be too far along to change course when it happens.

    Set Your Marketing Mix

    For business owners who are merely winging it, this is the step where they normally start their “process”. When there is no plan and no proper process, this step usually takes the form of a last minute email blast or hastily structured social media campaign with jumbled messaging and a poorly executed strategy.

    The marketing mix consists of the 4 P’s:

    Product – the product or service to be sold.

    Price – how much the product or service costs

    Place – the means with which to deliver the product or service

    Promotion – the effort to promote the sale of the product or service

    It’s during this stage that decisions are made on what tactics will be used to convey the value of the product or service. Is it an ad campaign? Is it a social media strategy? Is it supported with email? Does traditional media factor into the equation?

    Many business owners understand this part of the process. They’ve probably even executed campaigns on their own. But as the fourth step in the marketing process, if they haven’t thoroughly performed the first three steps, their odds for success are limited.

    Execute Your Campaigns

    This phase takes up a significant amount of the time defined as “marketing”. Assets are created. Designs are produced. Messaging is written. Campaigns are structured. All of the busy work of marketing happens here.

    Controlling and managing your marketing plan occurs during this phase, and it consists of multiple sub-processes that involve back and forth communication between the business owner, the marketing team, and vendors and contractors.

    At Divining Point we frequently see companies who launch seemingly effective campaigns. Peaking into analytics, however, we discover there are no methods of tracking conversions. In some cases, the term “conversion” is a poorly defined conclusion. We caution companies to ensure that ROI can be tracked all the way from the bottom of the funnel up to the source that feeds it at the top.

    Analyze & Optimize

    For some agencies, this phase of the marketing process is a subset of the Execution phase. Divining Point breaks this out into its own step. Monitoring performance during and after a campaign is a crucial and time-consuming step that impacts the short-term success of a campaign and the overall long-term success of a company.

    As stated above, if conversions and tracking are set up appropriately, a company can let the data be their guide towards optimization. Much like the scientific method, testing and analyzing is an iterative cycle that pushes a campaign towards greater success. You can efficiently change course if you know where to direct your attention.

    The logical conclusion of this phase ends with reporting and further analysis. End of the Month (or End of the Quarter) meetings typically revolve around the metrics collected at the end of promotional efforts. The marketing process now starts over.

    NEWS FLASH: The Plan Is Always Evolving

    Using a disciplined routine to the marketing process allows your business to stay focused and ahead of the competition. At the end of each cycle, a new plan is developed based on the findings from the steps above.

    Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be.

    Once you’ve developed the marketing process and documented your work, a company can deftly roll from campaign to campaign while staying fully aware of market conditions and threats to their business. This is especially true for companies with a firm understanding of their brand, their buyers, and their value in the world.

    Need to a team to build your marketing process? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • In Defense of Power Naps: How A Pause In Activity Can Boost Marketing Performance

    Every day Americans attempt to cram more productivity into fewer hours. It usually occurs at the expense of efficiency. What appears to be “business” on the surface is usually nothing more than “busy-ness” at its core. Neither are alike in any way.

    Rather than taking a break for a much needed rest, or even getting up to stretch, most people keep pushing themselves and everyone around them to do more, more, more. We recommend taking a nap rather than overextending yourself. And while it may seem like a stretch to apply the benefits of napping to marketing performance, much can be gained from a short pause in activity.

    Wait. What?

    That’s right. Napping.

    Marketing performance is a difficult pursuit where the ground rules change and the goal posts move every day. To coin a phrase from Mr. Dooley, marketing ain’t bean-bag. It requires creativity, analysis, technical skills, constant maintenance, and even a fair bit of damage control.

    In the end, the credit for success usually lands in someone else’s lap – for example: the party animals in the Sales Department. However, blame for failure almost always comes back to marketing.

    In that regard, the fresh ideas you need to get ahead only come from fresh minds, which brings us back to napping.

    It’s no secret that Divining Point employs a unique model that gives us an edge. While we’re not a certified Results Only Work Environment (ROWE), we embrace many of its standards. To us, and for your benefit, we only focus on what matters most: marketing performance. What matters least is where we are, when we do it, how we do it, or why we do it the way we do. Ultimately, your goals are met. You succeed. We succeed.

    At Divining Point, we take naps. You should, too.

    The Benefits of Rest

    Much has been written about the relationship between sleep and achievement. It’s directly analogous to marketing performance in more ways than one.

    The National Sleep Foundation offers this key benefit of napping:

    “Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.”

    You’re probably thinking: “Isn’t that just sleeping on the job?”

    No. It’s being ready for the job.

    If you consider that tiredness is a response to over activity and burnout is a complete crash, as an organism your business requires periods of quiet where you can refocus your efforts and avoid the negative effects of oversaturation.

    Putting this in marketing terms:

    Your marketing efforts not only deplete your company’s resources, they also strain your customers. Constantly shouting about your brand eventually turns people away. Pushing, pushing, PUSHING your buyers with the same message and the same methods forces them to run away and land in some other company’s arms.

    Think of It Like Flighting

    Flighting is a cyclical technique to advertise your brand. It involves running your ads, then turning them off, and then turning them back on with new value propositions.

    Recent theory suggests that flighting is bad for business, but we beg to differ. For seasonal businesses (like travel or apparel brands), flighting makes complete sense. It shifts the focus to those times when sales are more likely to occur. But for other industries, flighting – or a hiatus – can be just as beneficial.

    Take into consideration the negative effects of oversaturation, which is no doubt the result of continuous promotions and advertising. If you spread your marketing efforts too thinly over a longer period of time, you lose the ability to make an impact on the buyers you desire most.

    If you continue to bang the drum everywhere all the time your audience will tune you out and opt out of your ads. This is the equivalent of strapping a muzzle to your face.

    Similarly, if you don’t focus your efforts to target your specific buyers, and if you don’t tailor your message specifically for them, you waste money and resources on activities that will never yield an ROI.

    Do You Seriously Take Naps?

    Yes, we do. Our team works long hours when it makes sense. We also take naps when it makes sense. It all contributes to marketing performance.

    When looking at your marketing strategy, you can’t effectively be “ON” all the time without incurring some cost – literal or otherwise.

    New platforms, new techniques, new campaigns, new products, new seasons, new trends, new staff… these are the ever-shifting sands in the terrain. Staying engaged in the push is paramount. But strategic pauses are a restorative force that moves you faster and further than your worn out competition.

    Don’t deceive yourself into thinking this is a wholesale termination of marketing. That’s not good. Instead this is the agile refocusing, redirecting, and restructuring of your marketing campaigns in a way that provides relief for you and for your customer.

    The end result is a higher level of marketing performance.

    Need a full-service team to chart your marketing strategy? Contact us today. We’re here to help.

  • 5 Business Lessons We Learned In 2018

    Every year we look back at what we’ve achieved and what we have to look forward to in the new year. In 2018 we experienced growth that allowed us to bring on new team members, and we’ve vastly expanded our abilities to deliver real results for our clients. As 2019 comes rushing in, we’ve decided to share the 5 business lessons we learned in 2018.

    Be Forward Looking

    In 2018 we learned the true value of maintaining revenue projections and doing weekly bookkeeping meetings. New business sales are the lifeblood of any company, and continual cash flow analysis keeps the bottom line in check. We developed strict discipline with watching “cash in / cash out” always with an eye towards the future. It helped us achieve a YOY improvement that didn’t seem possible this time last year.

    If you’re still trying to maintain your books, manage payroll, and crunch all the numbers for taxes and expenses, do yourself a favor and immediately invest in a good bookkeeper. As a business owner you have much better things to do with your time. Divining Point partnered with a bookkeeper (Greeley Street Consulting) who handles all things related to accounting, payroll, and taxes. It’s made all the difference in keeping us solvent.

    Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster. It’s always moving forward over hills and troughs. If you’re still in business today – and you’re not heading for certain dissolution – then you have much to rejoice. But if you’re not executing a proactive strategy for future sales, then you’ll experience dips in your cashflow that could sink your chances for success.

    Celebrate Your Failures

    Sure, your achievements are opportunities to move forward, but your best learning experiences come from failure. In the second quarter of 2018 we made a conscious decision to part ways with some clients who needed a level of service we couldn’t (or wouldn’t) provide or who no longer met the criteria for our ideal client.

    Two months later, two of our larger clients terminated their relationship with us.

    Uh oh.

    The client-agency relationship with these clients was cordial (and appreciated), but they had an underlying cynicism about marketing – and a reluctance to communicate – that hindered our ability to solve their problems.

    Suddenly we were thrown into a tailspin that presented real risk to everything we’d worked for in the first half of the year. We were immediately forced to do two things:

    1. Conduct a thorough postmortem to see what happened and why.
    2. Find new business fast.

    What we learned during the postmortem was not only cathartic, it also helped us quickly generate new business opportunities.

    In retrospect, the loss of clients was the best thing that happened to us in 2018. We were freed from unhealthy client relationships delivering services that drained our time and resources. At the same time, we were given the opportunity to fine tune all of our processes from top to bottom, which in turn enabled us to find success with other clients who needed us. It is a business lesson that made all the difference for our future. 

    Replicate Success

    The unintentional bloodletting of the Summer of 2018 breathed life into our company. It confirmed something we knew all along: an unwilling client isn’t worth the effort. As our favorite prophet of marketing, Don Draper, once said, “You already know about Jesus. He either lives in your heart or he doesn’t”.

    Divining Point prides itself on producing measurable results for companies who believe in the value of a rock solid brand and who work hard to deliver great service from beginning to end. We don’t want to work with a company who scoffs at these concepts or thinks that marketing is just an expensive set of bells and whistles.

    Our greatest success this year was going to market with a new attitude.

    We won’t waste time your time or ours if you can’t see past your biases, honestly communicate with us, and eagerly embrace the change we bring to the table. By replicating this learning, we’ve expanded our client portfolio and improved our service delivery along the way.

    As you can see, your failure can be your greatest success, and you can achieve remarkable growth if you learn from these experiences. Look at your business objectively and see how you can replicate success so that it builds up your company. Don’t dwell on failure. Get better.

    Turnover Happens

    It’s rare these days to have the same team for longer than a couple years. The US is experiencing all time lows in unemployment, and employees have more job opportunities available to them than ever before. Couple this with a young workforce that naturally drifts from position to position until they find their place in the world. It’s natural to experience turnover, but it adds disruption and significant costs to the operation of any business.

    In 2018 Divining Point experienced turnover for a myriad of reasons. In one case we had to remove a toxic presence from the company. Another employee left for personal reasons during the summer when we changed our industry focus. Two other employees accepted generous offers from competitors. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors!

    In every case we amicably ended our relationships. At no point did we have to terminate a position for financial reasons, for which we’re thankful. Each time we replaced these employees with new team members who further strengthened our company.

    The lesson here is be prepared for turnover. It happens. It’s not very fun. It temporarily introduces disorder into the efficient process you’ve worked hard to create. But it’s a hallmark of good leadership – and teamwork – if your company can gracefully and respectfully handle turnover while continuing to deliver results for your customers.

    Complacency Is A Luxury You Can’t Afford

    There are hundreds of cliches you can use to describe entrepreneurship. Expect the unexpected. When life hands you lemons make lemonade. Don’t rest on your laurels. You get the picture.

    Your business is a living organism that is always moving, always evolving, always experiencing setbacks you didn’t predict. You can’t afford to sit back and count money, even when sales are hot and profits are setting records. As soon as you stop hustling you stop growing – and your company begins to crack.

    In 2018 we experienced all the growing pains every company encounters in critical growth years. We never allowed ourselves to be complacent or take anything for granted, and we’re better off as a result.

    2019 is set to be another great year for us.

    We strengthened our SEO capabilities to achieve top rankings through on page and off page techniques. We added a new Creative Director who will take our visual storytelling to a whole new level with exquisite photography and engaging videography. We expanded our capabilities to include email marketing, public relations, online advertising (outside of just social and search), and enhanced our reporting and research methods.

    Need a team to take your business to the next level? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • 5 Marketing Methods to Help You Succeed In 2019

    It’s a given that the world of marketing moves fast. Every year brings new marketing methods to engage your buyers. 2019 is no exception. Adapting to the new ground rules each year can be dizzying.

    If you skim the search results for marketing trends in 2019 you’ll see that AI, virtual reality and chatbots are still all the rage. For three years (or more) we’ve heard about the benefits of these new technologies. We don’t deny the power of these new systems, but for most companies these are still inexplicable buzzwords that really don’t make sense for their business.

    Rather than promote bleeding edge programs that verge on science fiction, we present 5 marketing methods to help you succeed in 2019.

    Search Is Still Critical

    As we all know, every purchase starts with a need or a desire.

    Sometimes the urge to buy comes from an organic place: the buyer experiences a real world situation that compels them to find a solution for their needs.

    Other times, the demand for a product or service is generated through the artful use of advertising, which introduces the buyer to something they never knew existed.

    In both cases, the buyer starts the process with online research. That inevitably means they rely on a search engine to find information.

    There is nothing new about search. What’s new in 2019 is where people go to do it.

    It’s not enough to simply write blogs and optimize your site for search engine success. People now use Facebook and Twitter to explore new products. They browse through dozens of images on Pinterest and Instagram. They watch videos on YouTube. They even use voice search (“Hey Siri!”) or visual search to find more information about something they’re looking at directly in front of them.

    Is your company poised to capitalize when your buyer is in the mood to explore? The answer is probably no unless you’re engaging in a sophisticated SEO campaign and regularly pushing content across a wide array of platforms. Even so, many business fail to rank where it matters most.

    Our advice is to quit discounting the most fundamental behavior of buyer psychology. SEO, SEM, social media, and content marketing matter more now than ever before. Invest heavily in a multidimensional strategy that leads buyers to you.

    Expect Fragmentation

    For the last 5 years we witnessed a massive consolidation online. Facebook essentially demolished most of the early competitors in the social media world. Google not only dominated the search engine industry, they also lead the way with online video (YouTube) and digital advertising (formerly AdWords, now Google Ads). Amazon continues to break records for online shopping and now competes for music, entertainment and just about everything else.

    But something predictable happened in 2018. People changed how they consume online media. Thanks to the bitter presidential election in 2016, and as a result of privacy violations across the internet, more and more consumers are diversifying where they spend their time online.

    2019 will bring about more fragmentation in online behavior. People are doing more research on sites that cater to their niche interests. They’re opting in to email lists from companies they trust – while flagging as spam those companies they don’t. They consume considerable amounts of video online all over the internet. They read forums (remember those?) and participate on discussion sites like Reddit. Blogs, podcasts, alternative news sites, the list goes on and on. More profoundly, they’re spending less time on Facebook and Twitter, instead opting for Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Mastodon, Minds, Gab, MeWe, Vero, Signal and more.

    This isn’t to suggest that the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter, and Google) are going anywhere soon. But as personal data becomes a bigger issue for consumers, people will move towards platforms where they can engage with more like-minded users and ensure a modicum of privacy.

    What does that mean for you? Know your audience. Research where they spend their time online and develop a strategy for engaging them all along the way.

    Personalize Your Approach

    You should never send a single email to an entire database of customers. Similarly, you can’t expect a single ad to resonate with all of your buyers. If you speak to all of your customers in the same way you should expect to lose them over time. Buyers are unique. You need to treat them like it.

    Market segmentation is nothing new. Even list segmentation is old news. But are you actually using all of the available tools to speak directly to each individual buyer? Are you appealing to them as individuals and offering them messaging based on their behavior online?

    Remarketing methods, email marketing metrics, Facebook pixel, website behavior tracking… these are but a few of the tools that allow you to analyze the interests and preferences of your buyers. With a CRM and marketing automation platform, you can generate workflows to deliver personalized messages that leads your buyer through the funnel.

    Let’s take this even further for 2019. If you are not developing engaging, original content tailored to the personal preferences of your buyers, you will be missing out on the opportunity to turn customers into brand loyalists. Certainly, buyers buy products because they need them, but brand loyalists buy products because they want them… and they won’t even consider buying from another company. That competitive edge makes your life easier and increases sales.

    Original Engaging Content Means More Than Just A Blog

    Research suggests that the average person is exposed to over 10,000 marketing messages EVERY DAY. Is yours breaking through? We bet the answer is no.

    Everyday people scroll through their social media feed in a somewhat absent minded manner until something stands out. They’re busy. They want to be informed or entertained. They want to be amazed.

    How do you stop the scroll? Make your content awesome!

    If you haven’t taken content marketing seriously up to now, in 2019 you must invest in a strategy that captivates and intrigues your customers. We advise you to think beyond the blog.

    The most engaging forms of content are professional quality photography and video. People by nature are visually oriented. They stop and stare when something captures their attention. This is why billboards are still effective to this day, thousands of years after the first sign was hung for a business. It’s why TV still ranks as the most dominant media form. It’s why YouTube garners billions of users each month.

    We’ll take this even further. If you’re producing brand-related video and photos with a mobile phone it’s highly likely that you’re doing it wrong. Today’s consumers are smarter than that, and they have incredibly high standards for what passes as quality. A poorly lit photo or a sloppily produced video tarnishes your brand. If your product looks less than stellar how does that impact your buyer? It turns them off.

    Diversify Your Ad Strategy

    Earlier on we mentioned fragmentation in media consumption. It’s not that people are no longer using Facebook, Twitter, Google, et al. They’re just not spending as much time there. Much ado has been made about the limited organic reach you get these days on these platforms.

    The cost to reach a greater audience has skyrocketed. It’s a sign of bad times when up to a half of a company’s ad budget goes solely to one company. It’s even more frustrating when these vendors put excessive restrictions on not only WHAT you can advertise but HOW your ad must look.

    The rise in niche sites, independent social platforms, and even new search engines (hello Pinterest!) means there are many more places online to advertise your products. It’s time to explore your options. We’re here to tell you there is life outside of Google and Facebook.

    There are multiple private ad networks that reach industry-specific audiences and capture buyers of niche products. There are influencers and affiliates who can drive sales with a single tweet or shout out in a podcast. And let’s not forget the tried and true standards of the analog ad industry: billboards, radio, TV, magazines, direct mail, and special event sponsorships. All of these methods give you a powerful alternative for reaching your customers.

    Your Brand Still Matters

    At the end of the day you still need a brand. It doesn’t even need to be hip or cute – like so many startups that flood the market. With a strong sense of identity and a good understanding of your buyers, you can use the methods in this blog to reach even more buyers than you did in 2018. While it’s easy to get distracted by shiny new objects like AR/VR and AI, the fundamentals of marketing remain the same.

    What’s changed is the critical requirement to build a diverse strategy. You can’t win the game if you don’t show up to play. Buyers in 2019 will no longer give you a pass for a half-hearted attempt to win their attention. Your New Year resolution should be “Excellence in Marketing”. If you pursue it with intention, you’ll crush your sales goals and succeed while others crash and burn.

    Let Divining Point tackle your marketing strategy, implementation and management. For more information, visit our services page today!

     

  • 5 Ways Deer Season Prep Gets You Ready for Marketing

    If you’re an avid deer hunter, you likely spend the summer months preparing. You’re busy planning, checking your gear and doing research to ensure that you’re ready when the season opens – all the while dreaming of that perfect buck to fill your freezer for the winter.

    Preparing to launch a marketing campaign is actually quite similar.

    Here’s our list of 5 ways that deer season prep is similar to marketing campaign prep. Just like in deer hunting, disorganization in marketing planning will cost you a chance at a good buck…err, we mean good client.    

    1. Sight in Your Marketing Goal

    In deer hunting, you spend plenty of time sighting in your bow or rifle so that you’re ready for clean shots when the season opens. You may only get one shot. You have to hit the mark every time.

    In marketing, this is analogous to ensuring that you’ve defined your campaign goals and know exactly what it means to achieve success. Why are you launching this marketing campaign? Who do you want to attract? What’s your ideal client? Get all of your details straightened out now so that when you launch a campaign you can stay laser-focused on engaging and converting new deals.

    1. Talk to Farmers and Landowners

    Deer hunters know that farmers and landowners are the best resources for deer information. They spend the summer months working the land alongside the deer, so they have good intel on where the big bucks feed, where the does bed down, and where all manner of game frequently visits.

    In marketing terms, this means understanding not only the kinds of clients you want but the kinds of clients you already have. Reach out to your former clients to farm information from them about their thoughts on your services, why they chose you, and what are your strengths and weaknesses. You can also reach out to potential prospects to see what’s on their radar and what pain points they hope to solve. Knowing the lay of the land and the behaviors of your buyers are critical in knowing how to serve them.

    1. Set up Tracking Systems

    The best hunters know that the months before deer season are the best time for setting up cameras and scouting for deer. By researching their behaviors in advance, hunters know which bucks are using the hunting area for their home range when they feed, and which trails they use.

    You can apply this idea to marketing by reviewing your website analytics to understand when visitors come to your site, how long they stay and which pages they explore the most. Subsequently, that information helps you to determine where to add submission forms or offer gated content in exchange for contact information. Ultimately, you want to harvest your site visitor information so you can engage your prospects in a conversation and pull them through the funnel.

    1. Check Your Gear

    Deer hunters know there’s nothing worse than waiting all summer and heading out to the woods only to discover that your stand needs repair or your bow needs tuning. Before the season begins you must check all of your gear and ensure everything’s in working order.

    The same can be said for preparing for your marketing efforts. Do you have a team on hand to manage social media, SEO and your website? Is there a list of usernames and passwords for all of your critical accounts? Are there broken links on your website? Are all of the contact details correct? Do you even have ways to capture leads? Make sure all of your ducks are in a row so that your campaign is successful on the first shot.

    1. Be Patient

    Patience is a virtue and that’s just as true in marketing as it is in deer hunting. Experienced hunters know not to shoot at everything that passes by the blind, but to patiently wait for the right deer to present itself. Sometimes this means waiting quietly for hours, trusting that the right deer will appear – and also having the restraint to take a pass on immature deer, does, or spikes.

    Just like you can’t rush the trophy buck, you can’t rush a good marketing plan. A good marketing plan will take a long-range view and slowly, and steadily, build up traffic and demand so that the right leads come into the funnel. Expecting to see immediate results is analogous to expecting to see a trophy buck five minutes after climbing into the stand. Sometimes you may get lucky. But usually, almost always, you have to be patient and don’t blow your chances.

  • 4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Pause Your Marketing

    There comes a time in a company’s evolution when they decide to pause their marketing and take a break. Common times for these breaks include summer and the weeks around the holidays, when companies are primarily focused on hitting deadlines and getting out of the office for family time. The reasons for this vary, but it usually has something to do with cost, performance, lack of vision, seasonality, or some combination of the above. In some cases, companies switch marketing teams (or employees) so frequently none of their campaigns every achieve liftoff, which in turn costs even more money for the company.

    When we ask clients why they haven’t allotted marketing budget for the upcoming period/months, we often hear excuses like this:

    • We’re heading into our slow period, so we need to save money.
    • We expected greater performance from our marketing team after 90 days.
    • We should have seen some results by now.
    • We’ll spend more budget and expand the scope as soon as we get more leads.
    • We’re not even sure what marketing is doing.

    Have you heard such statements murmured in budgeting meetings? Or have you whispered them yourself under your breath in a planning conversation? If so, we understand. But, we’re here to let you in on a secret to winning at marketing – don’t give up. Just as your competitors are quitting their marketing efforts, stay the course and your perseverance will pay off.

    When your company is tempted to throw in the towel and halt marketing, keep the following truisms in mind:

    Marketing Is More Than Just Hot Leads

    That sounds totally counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Isn’t that what all companies need? Leads; the hotter the better.

    But marketing, especially for services and B2B companies, very rarely yields an immediate wave of hot leads falling through the pipeline. This is particularly true for companies who have not significantly invested in developing their brand and, as a result, own very little market share. If your buyers don’t know you and you don’t have many case studies to support the quality of your work, your marketing must work overtime to build up your brand awareness and lure people to your website to learn more.

    But that’s not all.

    Your marketing must also continue to remind people that your company even exists. Not once. Not twice. Hundreds of times. A first time visitor to your website may be curious about your company and your products or services, but will most likely only be exploring for research purposes and not ready to purchase anything. Even if your buyer is eager to make a buying decision, it’s unlikely they’d take a chance right away with an unknown new player in the industry. Your marketing must consistently work to elevate your brand, remind the buyer about your value, and encourage them to return to your website. That’s how hot leads are formed.

    Guess what happens when you stop marketing? All of that work disappears. Your Top of the Funnel awareness dries up. Your Middle of the Funnel buyers quit returning. Any potential Bottom of the Funnel buyers forget to go back to your website. All the leads you were fostering will dry up and blow away.

    Your Competitors Are Waiting For You To Slow Down

    Going back to the beginning, if you’re a proverbial little fish trying to swim in a sea of big, strong, sharks, then pausing your marketing is analogous to handing more business to your competitors. In a highly competitive industry, the sharks are winning because they’re marketing and selling. They don’t stop swimming when the water gets rough. As a little fish trying to establish your brand, you’re threatening them and eating into their profits. And you better believe that when you stop marketing they won’t hesitate to eat up your market share.

    A more direct example of this is when you pause ads in AdWords, your ad rank drops – thus you sink down the list, thereby giving your competitors a lift in their advertising. Once you do return to run ads again, you end up spending more money to regain the position you once possessed. The same thing applies to SEO. When you stop maintaining onpage and offpage SEO efforts, your rankings drop, thereby raising the rankings of your competitors.

    Taking this a step further, when you stop marketing – even if the marketing isn’t performing like you’d hoped, you are removing your brand and your offer from the marketplace. That creates an opportunity for your competitor to capitalize on this opening. When you pause your marketing you make it even easier for them by removing yourself from the ad auctions and bringing down the cost to compete.

    Marketing Improves Over Time, Even In The Slow Period

    In nearly every case, your marketing should work on a cycle similar to this:

    Design / Launch / Test / Optimize

    In general, your marketing could take upwards of 6-9 months before you ever realize meaningful value. The process should begin with design efforts to develop a strong underlying strategy and a complete – and clear – set of goals. The first 90 days are essentially the first iteration after the launch of your marketing plan. It’s when most marketing teams review their metrics, learn what’s worked best (and least), make course corrections, and relaunch a second round.

    The continuous push for optimization, and improvement, is the hallmark of a good marketing team. Rather than letting anything stagnate, your team should consistently review metrics and make changes as necessary. After 90 days, there will be a body of data to inform the team of how to launch the next marketing campaign – if necessary! Sometimes it makes sense to do more of the same before changing things up in another 90 days.

    Regardless, along the way, your marketing is improving over time as your ad rank improves, your SEO rankings increase, your brand loyalty grows, and your buyers return to your site to engage with the company.

    Marketing Is More Expensive In the Beginning

    If you’re seeing numbers in the red and feeling the urge to pull the plug on your newly launched marketing strategy, just hold tight. Like any new, untested strategy, the first few months might produce some turbulence and feel like more work, and money, than it’s worth. But you can breathe a sigh of relief, because if you stick with your marketing strategy you won’t have to reinvest in setup costs, initial bids, initial tests, etc. As your marketing moves forward, your site will start to rank higher in search results, your ads will be seen by more people (and the right type of people) and your tools will start working together, all of which will, in turn, create a well-oiled marketing machine that produces ROI down the line.

    When choosing a marketing team, make sure to pick one that routinely reviews their efforts and uses the results to optimize your campaigns. You want a team that spends your money like it’s their own and takes action to make your dollar stretch the furthest and work the hardest.

  • 3 Steps to Good B2B Gated Content

    Technical B2B companies can use gated content to capture leads on their websites. Whether it’s a white paper, survey report or another technical document, follow our three tips below to ensure that you’re consistently adding fuel to your sales engine:

    Select the right topic

    Choosing the right information to share is the most important step in the gated content process. Take time to catalog the questions that clients repeatedly ask you, or listen to your sales team about what concerns they hear most from customers. Do keyword research with Google Search or SEMrush to determine what kind of answers people are seeking. You can also review your website with Google Analytics to see which pages are most popular. Once you’ve decided on a topic, think about what related details you want to share. A good way to do this is by running through a customer use case and creating a list of questions that customers might ask.

    For example, let’s say your traffic engineering firm is consistently asked what should be considered when designing a new master-planned community development. You could compile all of the most popular questions and create a white paper using these FAQs. Some of the questions might include:

    • How much traffic will my development generate?
    • When do I need to add a second lane?
    • When is a roundabout a good idea?
    • How much parking will I need?

    Make it truly useful

    To capture the attention of B2B leaders, you’ll need to produce some high-quality content. These folks are busy with tons of material to read already. What will inspire them to offer their contact information to read your content? It has to be useful and provide some sort of meaningful value. Think about providing more than just surface level information and dig deep to share some nuggets of information that will save them time or solve a persistent headache at their company. You might do this by sharing results from a survey you conducted or by including facts from a research paper.  In our example above, the traffic engineering company could share actual statistics that will help the developer in planning.

    • How much traffic will my development generate?
      • Single Family Houses (per unit): 10 trips per day, 1 per peak hour

      • Apartments/Condos/Townhouses (per unit): 7 trips per day, 0.7 per peak hour

      • Office (per 1000 sq ft): 10 trips per day, 1.5 per peak hour

      • Retail (per 1000 sq ft): 38 trips per day, 4.2 per peak hour

      • Industrial (per 1000 sq ft): 5 trips per day, 0.9 per peak hour

         

    • When do I need to add a second lane?
      • When you have 300 left turning vehicles from that leg of the intersection in the peak hour

    As you can see, these are stats that would be helpful for the developers to know when planning their development. They’re also not facts that are commonplace or would be easily found with a Google search.

    Avoid pitching your product or service, especially as a one-size-fits-all solution

    There’s no better way to lose a B2B reader’s interest than by filling a document with promo pitches. Remember, your gated content is supposed to be useful for the reader and help them solve a problem. They’re reading to find answers, not another way to spend their money. A good way to avoid doing this is by sharing unbiased data and by readily admitting that your product, or service, is not the right fit for everyone.

    Our example traffic engineering company might include the following question and answer:

    • Do I need to do a traffic study for my development?
    • The answer depends! If your development is stirring up conflict with the surrounding neighborhood, a traffic study could be helpful in soothing their concerns for increased congestion. A traffic study will most likely be required when the development goes through an environmental review process. However, if your development is under a certain threshold for traffic (depends on the city), then you might not need a traffic study. If you decide to do a traffic study, we recommend you work with a traffic engineer who is familiar with the Institute of Transportation Engineering’s Transportation Impact Analyses for Site Development.

    The above answer adds credibility to the white paper because it doesn’t promote the firm as the sole – or best – provider of traffic studies. It provides information to help the reader decide and then a tip to ensure that they hire the right people.

    Good Gated Content Isn’t Easy

    In a time when a Google search will yield tons of results, making your content stand out requires a process to ensure that people will read it. Start by carefully choosing a topic, then filling your document with information that is really useful, and then make your document credible by avoiding a salesy tone. Cutting through the noise to reach B2B leaders isn’t impossible, it just requires effort.

  • How Much Should You Spend on Marketing?

    We often get asked, “How much should I spend on marketing?” It’d be nice if the answer was easy, but it’s not. There is no predetermined percentage of revenue that applies to all businesses. The ideal number takes into account what you’re offering, where you’re offering it, and who you’re competing against. We’ve probably all heard, “you’ve got to spend money to make money,” and this certainly applies to digital marketing. The trick is knowing how to make your expenditures generate returns.

    Industry Spending

    Traditionally, the amount to spend on marketing usually depended on the offering and industry. For a company selling a product, it’s recommended that no less than 15% of revenue be spent on marketing just to maintain market share. However, a consumer goods company could spend up to 25% or higher, depending on goals. For professional services, typically no less than 10% of revenue should be spent to maintain market share, and up to 20% or more to increase growth.

    For more conservative numbers, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends businesses invest 7% to 8% of gross revenue for marketing and advertising if they are generating more $5 million a year in sales with a net profit margin between 10% – 12%.

    The SBA says that B2B firms typically invest 6-7% of revenue in marketing, but businesses with less than $25 million per year in revenue ordinarily spend more than 10% on marketing on average.

    In a 2017 survey, Deloitte and Duke University asked CMOs what percentage of their budget is spent on marketing. The results are below:

    As you can see above, professional services companies – tech software, mining, construction, etc. – are spending the industry average, or more, on marketing. But, SaaS Companies don’t always stick to the rules. Here are some examples of companies who spent way more on their 2016/2017 marketing budget and experienced great results .

    • MindBody – 40% of revenue invested in marketing, 37% revenue growth year-over-year
    • Salesforce – 49% of revenue invested in sales and marketing, 24% revenue growth year-over-year
    • Tableau – 58% of revenue invested in sales and marketing, 27% revenue growth year-over-year

     

    We’re not suggesting that you drop nearly half of your annual revenue on marketing. But increasing your investment in your marketing strategy will be the thing that sets you apart from your competitors. It is your secret weapon to get ahead.

    For professional services, you have to dig a little deeper. The cost of easily consumable content for your website can really vary depending on the complexity of the subject matter and the length of the topic. A short blog post could be as low as a few hundred dollars, whereas an e-book or white paper could run you a few thousand dollars. Social media marketing that is guaranteed to drive traffic to your website typically starts at no less than $2,500 per month – with some robust, national campaigns coming in between $10,000-$20,000 per month. A strong SEO strategy with both onsite and offsite ordinarily runs between $1,500-$5,000 per month, with some companies spending double those amounts monthly.

    What are average rates for digital marketing? A survey conducted by Moz, a leading SEO website, of over 600 agencies resulted in the following summary:

    • Digital Marketing hourly rates range from $76–$200/hr
    • Project-specific pricing ranges from $1,000–$7,500
    • Most monthly retainers cost between $2,500-$5,000/month

     

    And, using a mean value between what’s recommended by the SBA (10%) and what we recommend (15%), your overall marketing budget should probably be about 12.5% annual revenue. Breaking that down even further, multiple sources, including Forrester Research, have indicated that digital marketing currently averages about 30% of total marketing spend. So, in a very general sense, your digital marketing budget should be about 3.75% of your annual revenue (30% of 12.5% = 3.75%) .

    Here’s an example:

    A B2B firm providing technology services to other businesses with $8M in annual sales might budget $300,000 (3.75% x $8,000,000) ($25,000/month), which would likely include website, conversion rate optimization, SEO, social media management and a mix of paid advertising campaigns with Google AdWords, Facebook and LinkedIn – including ad spend.

    How to Spend It

    After settling on a number for your marketing budget, the next big challenge is deciding how to spend it. Another CMO survey from Forrester Research and eMarketer show the estimated allocation of marketing funds offline vs. online and across the digital channels.

    Here are some conclusions from that report [source: WebStrategies]:

    • In 2018, the average firm was expected to allocate 41% of their marketing budget to online, and this rate is expected to grow to 45% by 2020
    • Search engine marketing will capture the largest share of online spend with online display (banner ads, online video, etc.) taking the second largest share
    • Social media advertising investments will continue to grow, with a 17% compound annual growth rate from 2016 to 2021, and is expected to represent 25% of total online spending in 2018.
    • Mobile marketing has grown to a point that it’s no longer tracked in the forecast and it’s presumed to be considered across all channels
    • Digital marketing is pacing at an 11% compound annual growth rate between 2016 and 2021 with the biggest growth occurring in online video.
    • Investment in paid search, display advertising, social media advertising, online video advertising and email marketing is predicted to account for 46% of all advertising by 2021.

     

    Why are companies investing in social media and other online channels? A recent survey of 2,500 digital marketers showed that the most effective marketing tactics (email marketing, organic search, social media marketing and content marketing) generated better ROI than traditional (brochures, trade shows, etc) [source: GetResponse].

    A Home For Your Brand

    However, before any social media or content marketing is launched, a company must have a fully developed brand that is clearly defined on a website with a user-friendly experience. The products and services you sell and the promises you make must be explained in a compelling way that engages the visitor from the moment they arrive at your homepage. Your website is the entry point to the sales funnel. You must lure people in instead of turning them away.

    Research supports this, but intuitively we all follow the same behavior. When was the last time you hired a company without looking at their website first? Probably in the ‘90s, right? We all do our Google research. We even visit social media to continue our research. Over 80% of people look up a company online before visiting the business or deciding to buy.

    Before visitors become your customers, they have to know that you exist and what you do. Does your homepage make it clear what you’re offering? Is there an obvious action they should take – “Call Us Today!” – or an email sign-up? Of your potential customers, most are looking at your website on their mobile device. Is your site optimized for a smartphone? What’s their first impression of your company?

    The value of the investment in your site cannot be underestimated. You may be able to get by with a basic website with little to no brand messaging and conversion methods, but you’ll cap the potential for revenue growth.

    Invest In Success

    If you don’t set aside a large chunk of your budget for an excellent online presence, you can count on your customers going to a company that does. Under-investment in your digital marketing strategy results in “leaving money on the table,” because your customers are going to work with your competitors with a great website and engaging online presence.

    Have questions about budget or what strategy your company should use? For professional services and technical companies, it can be frustrating knowing just how much to spend on marketing and where to spend it. At Divining Point we specialize in working with companies who promise quality service as a part of their business model. Give us a call and we’ll get you on track.

     

    Want to move forward with your business? Let’s talk.