Learning from other professionals in the marketing field is one of the best ways to pick up new techniques (not to mention it’s one of the most enjoyable ways). Last week I was able to attend the Reno-Tahoe American Marketing Association’s Spring Workshop. I learned a lot of great information and I of course want to share it with you! (I’d also love to discuss it with you in the comments!)
My last post Marketing Workshop Takeaways went over the two keynote speakers’ presentations. The other part of the workshop was called “Loud Tables” and each table featured a different discussion leader. In this post, I’ll share the key points I got out of each discussion. The topics were Content Marketing, Nonprofit Marketing, Personal Branding, and Small Business Marketing/Entrepreneurship.
Before we get started, I want to give a big thank you to all the discussion leaders. They did a fantastic job of providing value to the attendees, and prompting discussion with intriguing questions. I’ve linked all of their Twitter accounts to their names, so if you’d like to reach out to them, you can!
Now…roll up your sleeves, it’s time to get down and dirty!
Content Marketing – Sierra Davies
(Search & Digital Media Specialist)
Sierra did an excellent job of presenting what makes good content. You want to focus on the end user. You also want to think of the content first, and the platform second.
I liked the way that her PowerPoint incorporated visual representations of the information she was presenting. It’s always a good idea to include pictures and graphics, not just to keep it interesting, but to help those with different learning styles.
Sierra encouraged us to do keyword research. Even if you’re not an SEO expert, you can still use free resources to know what and how your users are looking for information. One in particular that I found very intriguing and that will help with content idea generation is answerthepublic.com. You simply enter a keyword related to your business and it gives you a TON of search results that people are looking up related to your keyword. I suggest you try it and let the ideas flow!
For an overview of her presentation, Sierra provided these informative one-pagers to attendees:
Nonprofit Marketing – Lindsey Tromerhauser
(Director of Marketing Northern NV Children’s Cancer Foundation)
Lindsey led a compelling discussion about nonprofit marketing. Although her tips are based from her nonprofit experience, they are really applicable to every type of marketing; who doesn’t love free/cheap resources that allow you do to your job better while on a tight budget?
One of the challenges that Lindsey has faced in the past (that I think many marketers can relate to) is coming into an organization that has traditionally thought of marketing as an after-thought. Often with small businesses and nonprofits, a marketing strategy has been ad-hoc with many people whose core competencies lie outside the realm of branding contributing here and there when they have an opportunity. This usually creates a disconnect between marketing pieces and can leave a brand muddled or disoriented. You don’t want people to feel confused as to core messaging of the organization. In order to combat that, it’s important to take a brand audit– what has been put out there? What pieces are still potentially representing the company? Do they have a central theme? Who are we now and how do we want to shape our messaging to align with the desires of our customers?
The most important thing you can do as a brand is to align with the hearts and minds of your customers. Speak to the part of the shared identity you have with your customers.
Lindsey went on to give this word of caution: a single word can make a huge impact on perception. As Lindsey works for the Northern NV Children’s Cancer Foundation, she found that the use of the word “patient” was making people think the organization was a treatment facility. By replacing that one word with child with cancer or child affected by cancer, she was able to clarify the entire purpose of the Foundation. Words matter!
Personal Branding – Frances Weiner
(Marketing & Brand Specialist Frances Weiner, LLC)
Frances led a discussion on the importance of personal branding. Branding starts with personal branding – showing who you are, why you do the things you do, and how you do them. Even if you aren’t the name of your company, your identity is still closely tied to the brand. People will associate the brand with you and vice versa so be sure to keep your messaging clear.
She pointed out that the best way to improve your company is usually to start by asking your customers about what you do well. The same goes for personal branding. She gave us a hand out that includes information about the Reflected Best Self Exercise. It is a mechanism for strategically asking friends and acquaintances specific questions about yourself that will be quite eye-opening.
If you are confused about what your brand is, this is a great way to start! What you’ll find is that there is a common theme that will emerge and it’s the way people see you. Knowledge is power: understanding how you’re seen will allow you to manage your reputation.
As the conversation about personal branding proceeded, Hunter, a member of our small group, added this analogy to emphasize the importance of being authentic and real no matter what your industry is:
I always ask people, if you were going to buy a car, would you rather buy from a friend or a car salesman? The answer is always friend.”
He’s right – you should focus on being real, helpful, and authentic with your personal (and professional) brand. You must be a friend to people rather than a pushy sales person. Talk about their needs and then how you and your brand can help them. Don’t talk about what you can do and see if they happen to need it.
Finally, Frances gave this great advice: Don’t think to yourself “I need to post on Instagram today, what should that be?” Instead, think about your users and the content they desire, then choose the appropriate platform. When you are trying to think of something to post on a particular platform, you’re letting the tool drive the strategy.
Small Business Marketing/Entrepreneurship – Erin Fuss
(Brand Strategist Ebb Plus Flow)
Erin started her own collective of marketing professionals and works with remote freelancers. This was a particularly interesting conversation as more and more workers are becoming remote. People are becoming increasingly projected based, and so these tips might help anyone who is working with remote workers, who freelances themselves, or is interested in starting a collective.
Some of the benefits to this style:
- Very little overhead as you don’t pay for an office.
- Collective employees are self-contracted so the HR expenses and benefits are not as high.
- Flexibility – the team changes based on the needs of the customer and Erin can put together experts in different areas.
Erin and her team are dedicated to showing the return on investment on projects – she and her team send detailed reports twice a month that go over all the “wins” which are set at the beginning of the project as goals.
It doesn’t come without its challenges…
The team members are all remote so you get the benefit of diversity but at times communication is a challenge. They have combated this with set weekly meetings via Google Hangouts (video conferencing).
Here are some of the tools that Erin swears by:
- Monday.com – a time management program that allows you to track project and progress.
- Slack – a messaging service that team members can share channels (large group messages) for remote communication
- Google Hangouts – (mentioned above) allow for remote video conferencing so even if you haven’t met a team member or client in person, you still get the feeling of a personal touch. Erin and her team have coffee hangouts where they all get a cup of coffee and “share it” during a hangout.
- Twitter lists – Erin likes to add media contacts that she plans to work with to a list on Twitter
That about wraps up the main takeaways I got from the workshop! Did you learn about any new resources in this post? Let me know which ones! Also, I’m always looking for more resources myself so if you know of anything I’ve missed, please share it with me so I can check it out, too!
Thank you for reading! I hope you found it helpful.