Roundtable: 7 marketing experts with killer ideas for betrothing digital and traditional

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BACK ROW FROM LEFT Jacob Hoehne, Issimo; Andrew Melchior, Avalaunch Media; Ricky Hacking, Elevate; Bill Brady, EKR. FRONT ROW FROM LEFT Stewart Goodwin, Goodwin Media; Paul Adams, Skyrocket Media; Matt Frisbie, Woodrow. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

BACK ROW FROM LEFT Jacob Hoehne, Issimo; Andrew Melchior, Avalaunch Media; Ricky Hacking, Elevate; Bill Brady, EKR.
FRONT ROW FROM LEFT Stewart Goodwin, Goodwin Media; Paul Adams, Skyrocket Media; Matt Frisbie, Woodrow. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Jeanette Bennett, BusinessQ: What are the trends in marketing right now?

Bill Brady, EKR: Content marketing — meaning the drive to build content marketing into strategy. Also, marketing automation isn’t just for big players any more. Even very small businesses can get into a marketing automation platform for a couple hundred a month. Consumers are demanding differentiated content, which requires creativity.

Stewart Goodwin, Goodwin Media: In tying into content marketing and how it’s consumed, the move toward mobile is huge. Also creative, original content is so important. We service dentists, and we used to push out the same blog posts to a thousand dentists every month, but people aren’t stupid. You can’t trick people. If you aren’t being genuine or if you are copying your message from competitors, it doesn’t work. When potential clients walk in and we ask them the goal, often they have no idea what the goal is and they ask us to do something similar to what their competitor does. I tell them, “Don’t be like that guy. Be genuine. Be creative. Be consistent with your approach.” Also, I truly believe you can’t just put something up and forget it.

Ricky Hacking, Elevate: Marketing used to be sending a message from one to many — a mass email blast, for example. Now people are a lot smarter. You have to target people, segment your list and message them with just the right offer or content.

Matt Frisbie, Woodrow: Automation has changed marketing, and intention has also changed. You can’t trick people. SEO will never be dead, but it is declining — and SEO tricks are dead. Brands understand they need to dedicate resources and take care of their marketing, including traditional marketing, which is definitely not dead. One of our clients does a lot of magazine advertising, and they are ranked four times higher than their competitor. There’s still the mentality of some that they should pay for keyword vs. being awesome. But being awesome always trumps.

"A brand is what consumers communicate to each other about the brand. It used to be that a brand is what the company says to its customers." – Paul Adams, Skyrocket Media

“A brand is what consumers communicate to each other about the brand. It used to be that a brand is what the company says to its customers.” – Paul Adams, Skyrocket Media

Bennett, BusinessQ: What is the proper relationship between traditional and digital?

Frisbie, Woodrow: Digital is not the thing. Marketing is the thing! The trend is to be more creative. The goal is a well-branded experience. Traditional and digital should be blended together for one experience. Don’t let go of marketing that works.

Andrew Melchior, Avalaunch Media: Years ago, you could make one tactical play with marketing. Now you have to be much more strategic. We ask our clients what’s happening in their business and what they are doing for marketing everywhere else, and then we talk about tying in digital. For example, interactive video. When you hit play, you aren’t just sitting back and watching a 90-second or 9-minute video. Now we can create interactive opportunities where viewers can position themselves in the video and make choices.

Jacob Hoehne, Issimo Productions: In marketing, there are always going to be gimmicks with a short shelf-life. The c-change is the democratization of influence. Previously, advertisers would send a one-way message to their audience. Now the audience has sway and power. Brands are trying to tap into conversations that are happening, but everything must speak to the authenticity side. You can’t fake your message for too long. People want a two-way conversation — not just a dictatorial message down to the masses. A lot of times, advertising and marketing has been seen as “How do you manipulate people into buying stuff they don’t really want?” The better approach is to position yourself as a giver. It’s true that through technology we can reach out to the whole planet, but the No. 1 red flag I hear from clients is, “Everyone is my audience.” There’s a fragmentation of choice. Pretty soon there will be a channel for left-handed Jewish immigrants.

Paul Adams, Skyrocket: I love that channel!

Hoehne, Issimo: Marketers are tapping into people who already have their own influence. This is more powerful than a TV commercial alone or just a sponsored tweet. There is organized influence.

Frisbie, Woodrow: Brands are having fun again. They can’t manipulate a customer anymore. I see a shift where the director of sales has less of a voice at the table than a CMO, and the use of new platforms is creating the shift. It’s about the voice of the company.

Adams, Skyrocket: My 13-year-old was looking to get a new snowboard, so we researched it together online. I watched his searches. He was trying to determine which board was the coolest. It’s like we’re back in high school again with popularity contests. He wanted to know what everybody else was saying about the boards. A brand is what consumers communicate to each other about the brand. It used to be that a brand is what the company says to its customers. Our consumer research has become more sophisticated.

"I’ve had a fun time watching the food trucks, like Waffle Love. I happily spend $8 bucks for a waffle, but without their fun brand I wouldn’t have tried it." – Bill brady, EKR

“I’ve had a fun time watching the food trucks, like Waffle Love. I happily spend $8 bucks for a waffle, but without their fun brand I wouldn’t have tried it.” – Bill brady, EKR

Bennett, BusinessQ: What role is mobile marketing playing in the landscape?

Brady, EKR: Mobile advertising is growing at 3x the pace of desktop. As marketers we’ve got to be thinking of how do we deliver this content as mobile-first or at least in a mobile-friendly way. With millennials, it is all contextual. They receive advertising based on what their current searches are.

Bennett, BusinessQ: Talk me through the creative process that must happen for effective marketing.

Brady, EKR: Information precedes inspiration. Great ideas are the ones that truly connect with the audience, so you’ve got to go through the methodology of research. You must understand the buyer and their journey and how are they being influenced. Once you understand every step of the process the customer takes, then relevant creativity comes.

Hoehne, Issimo: I totally agree, Bill, and I love how you phrased that. What I find is that you must understand yourself first and know what you can deliver. Sometimes we put the cart before the horse. “What does the market want? OK, let’s pretend to be that.” It’s like a politician deciding what to vote for based on polls. It should inform us — but not inform who our character is. First, know thyself. Then know thy customer.

Adams, Skyrocket: The creativity process comes from openly sharing ideas, and ideas can come from anywhere if you have your eyes open — including entry-level employees. At Skyrocket, we try to have innovation Friday. Every bad idea is another step forward. I lead by example. I’m one of the best/worst idea providers. I have so many bombs, and I’m really proud of it. It’s because I also have the most ideas.

Melchior, Avalaunch: Often when we sit down with our clients, they are siloed in their vertical. One of the awesome parts of being in an agency is that we work with so many different clients and we can see what worked well for one client and apply it for someone else. In order to accomplish this, we have to get the right people on our team. At Avalaunch, we hire for culture and creativity, and we figure out the technicalities of the job after that. It’s important for us to know what is being talked about and what is happening in social media, and then we can attach a creative concept to that and give it legs.

Frisbie, Woodrow: The important thing is to let ideas breathe. We’ll have clients say, “I know you said it takes 90-120 days to get creative put together, but can I get it in 45?” And I say no. The right idea will come, but when you try to force it, you are pushing something out with the wrong motivation.

"Creativity loves constraints, which seems counterintuitive. But if you have the right constraints, it will help you focus. The wrong kinds of constraints can put blinders on." – jacob hoehne, Issimo Productions

“Creativity loves constraints, which seems counterintuitive. But if you have the right constraints, it will help you focus. The wrong kinds of constraints can put blinders on.” – jacob hoehne, Issimo Productions

Hoehne, Issimo: Creativity loves constraints, which seems counterintuitive. But if you have the right constraints, it will help you focus. The wrong kinds of constraints can put blinders on. The most interesting thing is a synergy you wouldn’t expect. It’s rhythm and blues. Fusion foods. Smart marketing crosses things you wouldn’t normally pair. Sometimes we can be so narrow in our silos.

Hacking, Elevate: You have to know who you are and who your audience is. What is your end goal? Someone will come in and say they want 500 pens and they think their goal is to give out pens. But what is the real goal? A lead? A conversation? A new client? When we know what the end goal is, we can get there through multiple different routes and know it will be effective.

Adams, Skyrocket: A stupid idea is a creative idea that doesn’t work, but it’s still creative. At one point I was doing auto insurance ads. We did a marketing piece with five cow butts and piles of crap below. I ended up in the CEO’s office getting reprimanded, but we saw a record amount of auto insurance applications from much younger clients. Sometimes that stupid idea can get you notoriety. “Pull your head out of your apps” (by UDOT) got a buzz, for example, and was on the front page of KSL. All good ideas have risk to them.

Goodwin, Goodwin Media: As an agency, you spend time collaborating and coming up with a campaign that addresses a problem or a need. It is important that the client can trust you enough to take a chance. Sometimes internal people prevent themselves from succeeding. They always say they want to be outside the box, but sometimes they only get as far as the tape on the box. It’s technically outside, but they are still hugging the box.

Melchior, Avalaunch: Or they shut down the creative ideas for budget reasons.

Goodwin, Goodwin Media: The key to relationships with clients is to set expectations up front and remind them why they need your help. When you take a step back and look at the exact risk — a flopped billboard or magazine ad — it has a short lifespan, but if the marketing is really good, it preserves itself in the mind.

Hoehne, Issimo Productions: There is so much noise in our lives right now, but things can still be memorable. We don’t have to just be alarmists when it comes to traditional marketing. Did desktop publishing kill graphic design now that everyone can make a logo? No! Graphic design is more relevant than ever. The key is to rise above the noise with a clear message.

Goodwin, Goodwin Media: A lot of times, the internal marketing teams have no marketing experience. The receptionist is the VP of marketing. “Let’s see … Who knows how to spell html?” With smaller companies, they get their hands on tools like Photoshop and an iStock account, and they think they can do anything.

"Sometimes internal people prevent themselves from succeeding. They always say they want to be outside the box, but sometimes they only get as far as the tape on the box. It’s technically outside, but they are still hugging the box." – Stewart Goodwin, Goodwin Media

“Sometimes internal people prevent themselves from succeeding. They always say they want to be outside the box, but sometimes they only get as far as the tape on the box. It’s technically outside, but they are still hugging the box.” – Stewart Goodwin, Goodwin Media

Frisbie, Woodrow: “Look at me! I’m a marketer!”

Goodwin, Goodwin Media: Yes, and it takes awhile for them to realize they are doing a horrible job of telling people who they are. And it creates a snowball effect of problems. Marketing is a serious part of business.

Frisbie, Woodrow: A stupid thing to do is plagiarize. A stupid thing to do is fit in. It’s the least safe thing you can do. One of the projects EKR did that I love is the Big D website. Bill, your company’s campaign for the construction company crushed it! I couldn’t stop looking at the site.

Brady, EKR: The reason that was possible is that the client didn’t want to do what anyone else was doing. The direction from the client was to build a website nobody in the construction industry already had.

Stewart, Goodwin Media: We’ve had instances where we’ve done something original and creative, and then the client says, “I wanted a website exactly like my closest competitor.” And I want to say, “But they are more well-known than you. Your message may be better, but when they leave your site they can’t remember who you are.”

Bennett, BusinessQ: Whick local companies are killing it with their marketing?

Frisbie, Woodrow: Comic Con doesn’t just put billboards up a month before the event. They do an awesome job with YouTube and Twitter. They turn their fans into celebrities. They celebrate the undercurrent of Utah. The marketing funnel is deep and they kill at consumer nurturing. Another one is Cascade Collision, with a tagline of being serious about perfection. They focus on customer service and trackability. They connect with customers five and six times afterwards. We’re talking marketing all the way down.

Hacking, Elevate: That’s how you know the marketing is working — when it’s happening all the way through the funnel.

Brady, EKR: I’ve had a fun time watching the food trucks, like Waffle Love. I happily spend $8 bucks for a waffle, but without their fun brand I wouldn’t have tried it. With Cupbop, the branding is strong and the experience when you get there is even better. You hear yelling in Korean! I waited 40 minutes and just watched and soaked it up.

Adams, Skyrocket: I was impressed with Ken Garff’s “we hear you” billboard campaign. ThomasArts created that after surveying customers. Information came before inspiration. I was surprised Larry H. Miller stayed quiet during that campaign.

"It’s important for us to know what is being talked about and what is happening in social media, and then we can attach a creative concept to that and give it legs." – Andrew Melchior, Avalaunch Media

“It’s important for us to know what is being talked about and what is happening in social media, and then we can attach a creative concept to that and give it legs.” – Andrew Melchior, Avalaunch Media

Goodwin, Goodwin Media: Domo is the poster child for creativity in the valley. Often in conversations with our clients, we’ll say, “Let’s talk about your executive page.” And they say they want one like Domo’s.

Brady, EKR: The problem with that is that the brand promise is destroyed in an instant if a customer’s experience doesn’t live up to what you describe.

Goodwin, Goodwin Media: Our job is to design their best intentions, and then it’s up to them to live up to it.

Adams, Skyrocket: Clients have to be authentic. If I’m in Domo’s office and they are using spreadsheets, then from an agency standpoint, we can’t do their campaign.

Hoehne, Issimo: Here’s another soapbox of mine. We have this wall in marketing that says it’s all about getting people in the door, and after that we wash our hands. But companies have to live up to the marketing and follow through on execution. That has to be part of how we train people.

Brady, EKR: Marketing can’t be viewed as a function. Everyone is in marketing. Brand is represented in every stage of a customer’s experience.

Goodwin, Goodwin Media: If you get a lead and you kill that customer, you might be killing a potential of a hundred customers.

Hoehne, Issimo: An unhappy customer will tell 11 people, while a happy customer might tell 2, which emphasizes the importance of doing it right.

Hacking, Elevate: Companies are getting better at rewarding happy customers and asking them to take certain steps to help with marketing. Marketing is telling the story of your brand. Know who you are, know your audience, and know what your goals are.

"Someone will come in and say they want 500 pens and they think their goal is to give out pens. But what is the real goal? A lead? A conversation? A new client?" – Ricky hacking, Elevate

“Someone will come in and say they want 500 pens and they think their goal is to give out pens. But what is the real goal? A lead? A conversation? A new client?” – Ricky hacking, Elevate

Bennett, BusinessQ: How does a company know if its marketing is working?

Melchior, Avalaunch: Are you seeing an increase in traffic? Conversations? Word of mouth? Two weeks ago, GoPro sent us pictures of our content hanging on their office walls in San Francisco. It’s so important to be part of the culture of the company. This told us that their marketing is working for them and that they are proud of it.

Goodwin, Goodwin Media: Our metric of success is when clients refer us and when they choose to engage with us in a lot of different processes. We sustain ourselves the same way our clients sustain themselves — by taking care of the customer and by helping them understand the value we provide. Marketing isn’t a matter of doing everything possible to get a lead. It’s a whole system that needs to act within itself. The smooth operation of it will position the company in a way that customers can understand what their value is.

Frisbie, Woodrow: There are many ways to gather data on whether our marketing is working, but it still takes an expert to take that data and say, “What do I do now?” We need to know the story of our businesses, and that involves spending money on marketing — on telling your story. We recently talked to a real estate group that was questioning their marketing budget. But they were spending 98 percent on operations and only 2 percent on creating a road to get there.

Hoehne, Issimo: We’re wired for stories as human beings, but too often marketing is conflated with tricks. Fundamentally, it should be about what face we bring to the market. I’ve had clients say they see their businesses differently because we helped them understand themselves better — and it’s cool when that process also doubles as lead conversion. The right story will draw people in the door. What I find is that brands see their potential and believe in it by knowing how to articulate their story to their audience. For me, that’s the most gratifying. Basically, why does your brand deserve to be on the planet? Get real about that.

"Comic Con doesn’t just put billboards up a month before the event ... They turn their fans into celebrities. They celebrate the undercurrent of Utah. The marketing funnel is deep and they kill at consumer nurturing." – Matt Frisbie, Woodrow

“Comic Con doesn’t just put billboards up a month before the event … They turn their fans into celebrities. They celebrate the undercurrent of Utah. The marketing funnel is deep and they kill at consumer nurturing.” – Matt Frisbie, Woodrow

Hacking, Elevate: We feel marketing is successful when our clients refer us to others. If we have done our job right then people will tell their friends. Word of mouth is the most powerful referral out there and is a true indicator that our whole experience from service, to marketing to branding worked. We also find a great amount of satisifaction when we see the products we create out and about. It means people loved it enough to repeat usage.

In general, marketing efforts are successful based on ROI. That return may be revenue, leads, brand expansion or more.

Adams, Skyrocket: How do you know if your marketing is working? First, define “working” for yourself. Is it revenue? Market share? People coming in to your store? People saying they saw your ad? I’ve sat with a board of directors who were totally happy because their grandma and next-door neighbor saw the ad. However, if you are like 99 percent of business owners, you want to do what puts food on the table for your kids. And we want to do what works for our clients. We don’t want to take a client’s money for a week. We want to take it — earn it — for five years or more.

Goodwin, Goodwin Media: When we engage with a new client and they want their website redesigned. We ask, “What is wrong with your website?” Sometimes their answer is, “I don’t know.” Then we challenge them with questions such as, “What is the outcome you are hoping for? What is the objective?” If you drill them down long enough, it leads to core metrics to track success.

Brady, EKR: The key indicator of revenue shouldn’t be an after thought. Measurement should be built into every marketing plan. You need to tie every marketing dollar back to revenue. Because nothing happens until a sale is made. Marketing is the lifeblood of sales. And creativity is the lifeblood of marketing.

Bennett, BusinessQ: That’s a great place to end. Thanks for your insights!

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