Marketing Archives - Rock, Paper, Scissors

Posted 31 Jan 2017

Your 2017 Marketing Plan: It is not too late to start the year off right

Did you miss our marketing plan webinar? Read the recap below or watch the recording to catch up!

We’re almost a month into 2017 and after the rush of the holidays we’re all getting settled back into our normal routines. That also means it’s time to hit the ground running with your 2017 marketing efforts, and those efforts SHOULD begin with a solid marketing plan for 2017.

But what if you don’t have a 2017 marketing plan? 2017 has already begun so it’s too late to worry about it now, isn’t it? Truth be told, it’s never too late to create a marketing plan for your business! Today let’s take a closer look at what a marketing plan is, why you need one, and why it’s never too late to create a plan for marketing your business in order to help it succeed!

marketing plan

First things first, let’s define what a marketing plan is. In short, a marketing plan is “part of the business plan outlining the marketing strategy” (The Digital Marketing Reference). A marketing plan can be created for marketing your entire business, or can be narrowed down for a particular product or service, depending on your needs and business goals for the year. For today’s discussion, we’ll be considering the overall business and its marketing plan.

Now that you know what a marketing plan is, it’s time to talk about why you need one. Your marketing plan will help guide your marketing efforts as well as keep your entire team on track to ensure you are communicating a consistent message to the right audience. However, it goes much further than that. Following are some additional reasons for why you need a marketing plan:

  1. Puts your thought process on paper and showcases the bigger picture
  2. Provides direction and helps you focus in on your customers
  3. Will help define your business’ vision and target audience/client
  4. Allows you to determine where you want to go and maps out how you plan to get there
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  5. Helps you and employees understand business goals and helps everyone make educated decisions on their own that are in line with your business objectives
  6. Allows you to monitor your success as you work toward your goal

So how do you start writing a marketing plan? The first step is to take a look at your overall business goals, as well as your goals for the year. Do you want to increase sales? Expand into a new region? Expand your services? Launch a new product? Once you have determined which goals you want to work toward this year, you’re ready to start defining a strategy for achieving those goals. Think of your strategy as an overall game plan. Then, start outlining the tactics to achieve the strategy.

Once you have your strategy and tactics for achieving your goals in place, it’s time to define the resources you have to make all of this happen. Time and money are your biggest assets, but as we all know, these resources have their limits. That’s why you need to plan wisely when it comes to how you will spend your marketing budget, as well as spread the work evenly among your marketing team members. This will help you maximize every dollar and hour you have. After you’ve determined your resources, you’re ready to convert this into a realistic and achievable plan for your team.

By now, you should have a good picture of what your marketing plan should contain, but you’re probably wondering what it actually looks like. The best advice we can give is to avoid making your marketing plan overly complicated. Start out with a written document that defines your goals, strategy, and objectives. Once these are set, you’ll want to build a calendar and budget. This is an important step to allocate your resources so you are creating a plan that is achievable.

The final document in this mix is your reporting template. It’s always better to map out how you are going to report your return on your investments so that you are building something that you can measure.

As you start to create your marketing plan, there are a few best practices we recommend you keep in mind.

  1. Define what success looks like to you and your team so everyone will know when your plan is succeeding.
  2. Give clear ownership and specific responsibilities to the team members that will have a part in rolling the plan out.
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  3. Set up regular reporting and audits. This will help you see successes, areas in need of improvement or reevaluation, spot trends, etc.
  4. The Marketing Mix: You can use both internal and external resources to achieve your plan.
  5. Have one person oversee the plan.
  6. Be flexible. Don’t stress out if you see something isn’t working out like you had hoped. Use this as a time to readjust based on what is working.

Hopefully you now feel a little more equipped to create a marketing plan for your business. As always, Rock Paper Scissors can help with any questions, so feel free to contact us! Also, be sure to mark your calendar for our February webinar! Join us on February 15 as we talk about taking a “less is more” approach to advertising.

Posted 13 Dec 2016
About Us pages

The Most Important Page on Your Website

Get caught up with our latest webinar by watching the video at the bottom of this post, or read the recap below!

Your website is often the first impression a prospective customer will have of your business, and out of all the pages on your website the About Us page is likely to be one of the most popular next to your home page. Your About Us page can set the stage for the experience a customer may have with your brand and affect their decision to choose your products or services over another. This is where you tell your unique story and people are always looking for a good story. With that in mind, it’s important to carefully craft your About Us page in a way that is a true reflection of your brand rather than simply introducing your business and team.

However, that’s just the beginning of what your About Us page should do. In fact, it should be able to accomplish much more than you might think. In the About Page Guide, Bernadette Jiwa writes “The secret of a great About Page is that it’s less about the company and more about the reader or prospective customer and their wants and needs.” An About Us page should accomplish the following:

  • Build trust with prospects – They’ve probably never met you so you need to give them reasons to trust you and your business.

About Us page

  • Show off what makes you different – This page should effectively communicate what makes your brand unique and why it’s worth it to work with you.
  • Demonstrate authority and credibility – Your About Us page can accomplish this if it clearly explains to readers why they should listen to you and why they should want to work with you.
  • Express how you can help customers and explain how you work with them – Telling your customers what you can do for them and even how you’ll do it can definitely impact their decision on choosing whether or not to work with you.
  • Invite visitors to take action – Let your visitors know what you want them to do, whether it’s sign up for your newsletter, make a purchase, read the blog, connect on social media, etc.

About Us page

Now that you know what your About Us page should accomplish, it’s time to start crafting your message. As you’re getting ready to put the pen to the paper (or your fingertips to the keyboard), keep these tips in mind.

About Us page

  1. Write like you speak. Your About Us page should make readers feel like they are talking to you. However, this doesn’t excuse poor grammar, spelling mistakes, etc.
  2. Write in the tone of voice with which you would speak to your customers. This will help your writing reflect the type of relationship you want to have with customers.
  3. The length of the content is totally up to you. Remember, we live in a busy world with many distractions, so it is best to say what you want with as few words as possible.

Finally, there are some items you should include on your About Us page that will further help introduce your business to your audience, build credibility, and set you apart from the competition.

  • A quality, professional looking headshot, as well as photos or a video that show the culture of your business
  • Links to your business’ social media profiles

About Us page

  • Your values and relevant facts about yourself, your life, and your career journey
  • Endorsements – Not to be confused with testimonials, endorsements come from your colleagues and/or industry publications your work has been featured in

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  • The things that set you apart from other similar businesses
  • Examples of how you can help the customer
  • At least one call to action
  • A contact link or form

About Us page

We hope these tips will help you craft an About Us page that helps website visitors connect with your business and brand, as well as understand what you can do for them and how you can do it better than the competition. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions!

Posted 23 Nov 2016

What is a Content Calendar and Why Do I Need One?

Did you miss our latest webinar on the topic of content calendars? Read on for the recap or watch the webinar video below!

Content marketing has been a buzzword phrase for several years now, and just like any other marketing initiatives, it takes some planning to make sure you’re delivering your content to your audience where they are at. That’s why it’s important to take some time to plan out your content marketing efforts in advance, and one of our favorite planning tools can help you do just that. Today, we’re talking all about content calendars!

content calendar

A content calendar, sometimes called an editorial calendar, is essentially a tool that helps you schedule out the content you’re going to post and where you plan to post it. They allow you to visualize not only how the content will be distributed over a given timeframe, but also plan around events, spot gaps that need to be filled, and help you set and keep deadlines. It’s a resource for the entire team to use to plan all content marketing efforts. MailChimp summed it up best when they said “Your content calendar is a framework for the ongoing story you want to tell about your business.”

You may find yourself wondering “Why do I need a content calendar?” For starters, a content calendar helps keep you on track and set up best practices for editorial planning by creating good posting habits with a consistent posting schedule. A content calendar will also allow you to be proactive about your message. As it needs to change, you are being conscious about your message and position, instead of shooting from the hip. Beyond that, a content calendar can:

  • Create a space for all team members working on your content marketing plan a centralized place to keep content ideas and topics together.
  • Let you see opportunities for overlap, such as embedding a relevant tweet into an email newsletter, which campaigns should be posted directly to Facebook, etc.
  • Help ensure your blog content is varied so that you are regularly posting industry news, company updates, how-to and listicle articles, case studies, etc. This helps keep your audience engaged by avoiding redundancies, random content, or a lack of content.
  • Create an editorial cycle so multiple pairs of eyes are reviewing content for grammatical and spelling errors, broken links, etc., prior to publishing.
  • Help you determine what content should be promoted.
  • Allow you to get ahead so you can spend more time listening to and engaging with your audience.
  • Help you establish content policies, and more specifically, social media policies.

Another common question that comes up is “Who will use our content calendar?” The short answer is anyone that’s a part of your marketing team. More specifically, the team members using the content calendar will be anyone that contributes content for your marketing program, which can include not only written content but also video content, photography, and infographics to name a few. With that in mind, in addition to your content writer or manager, you’ll also want to include your social media manager, designer, a designated proofreader, and the project lead or manager.

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Now that you know more about why a content calendar is so important and who uses it, let’s take a look at what you need to get one started. First, you need to determine what type of document you want to keep your content calendar in. There are lots of resources out there. Some businesses simply use a calendar like Google calendar. Here at RPS, we use Google sheets and have tabs for social media content, blog content, webinars, and newsletters. However, there are tons of templates out there you can look at for inspiration, including formats based on Excel, PDFs, and WordPress plugins. Find the one that works best for your team and go with it. (We’ve included a few links to some great resources and templates at the bottom of this post!)

content calendar

From there, you’ll need to determine how you’ll plan things out – monthly, quarterly, or annually. Then, you’ll need to decide the following:

  • A theme – Again, this can be monthly, quarterly, or annually. You may have one main theme for the year and sub-themes to fall under that at specific points. As you choose your themes, you may want to schedule some content brainstorming sessions to help you choose topics and plan out your content.
  • Target posting dates – Tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights will be especially helpful in determining what days and times your content should be published. They can also help you determine which types of content are more appealing to your audience.
    content calendar
  • A key explaining what certain fonts and colors mean – As you’re filling in your content calendar, you’ll want to create a key so that all team members are aware of what certain colors and font styles mean. For example, anything highlighted in yellow is Instagram content, green is blog content, etc., while items in boldface font are approved and ready to be posted or scheduled.
    content calendar
  • Assignments – For larger content marketing teams, it may help to designate which tasks are assigned to certain team members. This not only helps spread the work out, but can also help if a team member is out sick and needs coverage for their posts for the day.
  • Flexibility – Things come up. You may find an opportunity to write a blog on the spur of the moment, or another project may keep you so busy that you may not get to your postings for the day. Unless it’s extremely timely content, you can always go back and post it later.

Hopefully we’ve given you some information that will be helpful as you work on your 2017 content marketing plan. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any other questions about content calendars!

Content Calendar Templates and Resources

Posted 31 Aug 2016

The Sensory Experience: Making Your Brand Appeal to All 5 Senses

Did you miss our recent webinar on Sensory Packages? We’ve included the full video below, or you can read on for more information!

When you think of the customer experience, you probably think of the interactions you have with your customers and whether they would consider them to be positive or negative. However, it doesn’t stop there. The customer experience is something that should appeal to all five senses and is why you should take some time to consider your brand’s sensory package and how it impacts your customers’ interactions with your business.

A sensory package is the combined look, feel, sound, smell, and taste of your business and the products or services you have to offer. Sensory packages are the way customers and potential customers experience your business through each interaction they have with you. Your interactions and the products or services you offer all create a sensory impact whether you realize it or not, and aren’t limited to in person interactions. Each website visit, email, phone conversation, piece of snail mail, and social media interaction add sensory inputs, as do the colors, shapes, sounds, tastes, scents, and even textures of your products, services, and branding materials.

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Due to the impact sensory packages have on customer interactions, they can add a tremendous amount of meaning and value to your business. But they can also take away so we want to talk about being conscious about your actions so you are portraying the message that you intend.

In order to better understand the potential impact of a sensory package and start making improvements on your own, you have to experience it as a customer would. To get started, consider the following:

  • Look at other businesses and experience their sensory packages. Look at businesses similar to yours as well as a few that are completely different.
  • Next, evaluate your sensory package and take inventory of what it currently includes.
  • Then, start working on your future sensory package, focusing first on shapes, colors, and your company name. 

It’s a lot to consider, but we’ve got you covered! Just download our Sensory Package Checklists below.

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Why start with shapes and colors? The answer might surprise you. Shapes and colors can affect the impact of your perceptions and trigger either positive or negative unconscious associations. That’s important to know because the unconscious mind is often what leads a customer to make a buying decision. Remember: people make purchasing decisions is an emotional experience, not technical. With that in mind, there are four main characteristics to consider when it comes to colors and shapes.

  1. Visibility is a must for attracting attention. Certain shapes and colors naturally offer better visibility than others, but remember they can also be affected by what’s surrounding, which is important when you’re working with signage and anything else where text is prominently on display.
  2. Retention is important because our minds can subconsciously remember particular colors and shapes over others. Advertisements and products with colors and shapes with higher retention rates are more easily remembered than others.
  3. Certain colors and shapes are also more innately appealing to one person over another, and variations of one shape tend to have the same preference as the basic shape they resemble. Keep in mind that we only perceive four basic shapes (circle, square, triangle, and oval), so a rectangle, for example, will be perceived as a square in the unconscious mind. Also, remember that color preferences can vary by gender, age, and other factors.
  4. Each color and shape can be associated with either positive or negative thoughts, feelings, memories, etc., which will either attract or repel a customer from a certain item.

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Next, it’s time to think about your company’s name. It’s often one of the first impression makers of the customer experience and influences all following perceptions. Business names, as well as product names, should accomplish four goals:

  • Differentiation/positioning
  • Instant recognition
  • Favorable associations and impressions
  • Promise of emotional gratification

Now that you’ve had time to think about the shapes and colors you want to use and whether your company’s name is setting the right tone with your customers, you can start looking at what to include in your sensory package. Following are just a few points to consider, but you can download a more detailed list here.

  • Your Facility – Is it easy to see? What is the surrounding neighborhood like? Is the interior clean and organized? Do you think your customers would be comfortable here?
  • Phone Manner – Are phones answers promptly and professionally? What do customers hear when they are put on hold? Do customers feel cared for?
  • Your Employees – Do they seem to enjoy their jobs? Are they polite and professional with co-workers and customers?
  • Digital Presence – Is your website easy to find and navigate? Can customers find what they need quickly? How do the colors and images on your site make you feel?
  • Printed Materials – Are they consistent with the look, feel, and tone of your website? Do mailers arrive on time? What does the paper feel like? Would you keep them?

Do you have further questions about sensory packages? Contact us with your questions and we’ll get back to you soon! Be sure to take a look at the webinar video for specific examples of the points we’ve outlined above.

Posted 20 Jul 2016

Marketing Makeover for Nonprofits

We’ve been connected with the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia (CFNEG) for quite a while, developing the nonprofit’s brand, helping prepare the organization’s Giving Reports and providing support for the annual Good2Give Gala. We recently collaborated with the CFNEG and Heather Loveridge on the presentation “Marketing Makeover for Nonprofits” to help nonprofit leaders better understand branding and marketing. The event allowed us to work with local nonprofit leaders to start the process of developing a Brand Commitment and providing helpful tips for creating a marketing plan, storytelling, and more.

If you’re a nonprofit leader looking for some branding and marketing assistance, we invite you to take a look at our presentation below.

We also invite you to download a copy of the workbook so you can get started.

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As you work through the workbook, you are asked to create a Brand Commitment. Below we have included some sample Brand Commitments to help get you started:

  • “When someone sees the Community Foundation brand, we want a smile to come to their face, an approving nod of their head, and a feeling that they received far more in return than they gave.” – Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia
  • “To be the premier sports and entertainment brand that brings people together, connecting them socially and emotionally like no other.” – The NFL
  • “To inspire moments of optimism and uplift.” – Coca-Cola
  • “To be genuine, fun, contemporary, and different in everything we do at a reasonable price.”- Virgin Airlines
  • “We’re working to prevent child trafficking & exploitation, care for survivors, and empower a growing movement. Love is the foundation of our motivation.” – Love146

If you need further assistance in creating your Brand Commitment or with learning how to better tell the stories of your nonprofit, contact us or Heather Loveridge. We are available for consultations, workshops, and creative work (both visual branding and storytelling) and would be happy to set up a time to work with you and your organization’s leadership.

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