Growth teams have been only a big company strategy. It’s the magic bullet they pull out to overcome barriers, push out new products and seize new opportunities. While big companies can reach into their large staff pool to assemble a team, small and medium-sized businesses and even nonprofits can take advantage of this strategy if they understand how it works.
It's not a secret that inbound marketing is changing. There was a day when inbound marketing was new—a time when mainstream marketing wasn't writing content to bring inbound leads.
People who run small businesses don't think of the work they do as small - nor should they. They are the primary drivers of employment, and they pay the taxes that allow cities to operate. Small businesses create the environments that make communities great. The truth is a $10 to $40 million dollar company isn't small.
When looking for help, knowing what kind of consulting will move the ball forward can also help you to spot a marketing consultant that won't get the job done. Here's how you can sort through some of the noise to get the right kind of help.
If I could just get one-millionth of a bitcoin for each time someone promotes how they have better service, better experience, or a bigger commitment to my satisfaction - I wouldn't just be rich, I could stop caring about good service.
Some websites are essentially online brochures. Others have grown into proven growth machines that consistently deliver great sales leads. The distance between them is bridged when you decide to begin a website update process with some very specific elements that allow a website to do more than just present static business or product information. These websites are reaching real buyers and engaging them in ways that exceed the competition.
For most people that love barbecue, the number one rule of barbecue is, "It's My Grill!" That means hands off and keep your spatula to yourself. A challenging situation is cropping up for lots of people who are used to cooking up their own leads as salespeople, and someone (marketing) has swiped the spatula.
You've heard of the tiny house, now we have the couch office. What's the impact on B2B sales?
Over the last two years, the demands placed on customer service have created a pressure cooker for companies. For many companies, it was a significant customer service stress test, with extended wait times, dropped calls, and slow or non-existent follow-up.
The NY Times calls it the "age of anger", in which otherwise calm adults devolve into fits of rage over customer service problems. Industry leaders call it "a different level of mean." This challenge can seriously damage a brand.
Salespeople are the guardians of industry and customer insight - and that insight and focus is invaluable. But don't just picture those nearing retirement who are seasoned sales veterans. Salespeople age more quickly in their trade and often get their wisdom faster than other employees.
It comes from the push and pull of sales interactions, the pressure of quotas, and crafting winning deals, so it creates "old dogs" at a pretty young age. An experienced, veteran salesperson can be any age - we're really talking about people that learned to sell before the digital space took over.
In 2021, almost one-third of outside salespeople transitioned to inside sales - permanently. But as the pandemic restrictions ease, a new kind of sales is emerging. It's the hybrid sales model in which sales teams use the best of virtual and in-person skills to become more efficient and meet new customer expectations of speed and convenience.
The missing ingredient? Sales enablement fueled by Sales and Marketing Alignment - a big part of which is driven by shifting priorities in the marketing focus.
Alignment is a critical part of building revenue, that's why sales and marketing leaders, along with CFOs and RevOps teams, include an alignment system in their plan. While the benefits are appealing (reports of 30% revenue growth are pretty common following an effective alignment), they simply have to outweigh the costs, so you've got to nail them both down.
The bigger question should focus on whether the effort is really worth the cost.
Your prospects have questions that either move them forward toward a "yes", or hold them back. Some of those questions are posed directly to sales, but others lie under the surface or are only shared inside the buying committee. The way you address those questions tells the whole story about the status of your marketing and sales alignment - are you still living in a world of isolated silos or is the team working together for growth?
It's easy to place blame on sales or marketing teams when things don't go as planned. But more often than not, it's not a personality or performance problem- it's the lack of alignment.
Marketing and advertising have changed. Ads are blocked, Google is removing third-party cookies, and iOS is restricting email. But those aren't the biggest challenges faced by marketing, because they need something that only the sales team can provide: a real understanding of customer problems.
They do make strange companions. One is seasoned by thousands of customer conversations, while the other is focused on the latest digital communication tools. Alignment pairs the marketer who is just now mastering the details of the product or service, and the salesperson who knows every way to slice the product and solve a long list of customer challenges. The idea that they need to be aligned in the same workplace when they have different goals, different levels of experience, a language unique to each group, and even distinct pipelines can raise some eyebrows or lead to lip-service alignment.
The honeymoon period is an important initial period for new growth managers, marketing directors, chief marketing officers, RevOps leaders, and nonprofit executive directors, along with all the others who step into a new role to lead growth for their organizations. It’s an important first phase of work, because team members are more forgiving, expect that you’ll need to be brought up to speed, and no milestones have yet come due. It’s a time in which you can understand the context and the challenges that you now own.
Like hungry soldiers at Valley Forge, they are all tugging on our attention -more than 8,000 different marketing software systems, plus a small army of one-person bands that decided one day to keep working from home and use some of that software. Is that the army that you need?
The rapid pace of change since 2020 has thrust many leaders into the role of growth leader for their organization. For some it is recovery, and for others it is a response to big new opportunities. Growth leaders can be found in almost every industry and with a variety of job titles. Some have a growth title like "growth manager, while others are working in RevOps. Most don't have a special title at all because they've added the growth leader job to their existing position. Whether they are an owner, a partner, a C-suite leader, or a department head, a growth leader's job has a single central characteristic: their desk is where the buck stops for company growth.
There are lots of choices about how and where websites are built and hosted. Normally, that's less a management decision and more something for marketing and IT to work out.
But a number of big factors are moving decisions about whether to use WordPress or HubSpot, or Apple or Microsoft onto the manager's list of concerns. One is security, and the other is the central role that websites now play in sustainable growth.
We rely on our websites, now more than ever. Whether you are recruiting employees, nurturing donors or looking for more customers, the digital journey is a must-have, but hacking can stop all of that.
When Godaddy announced that it had allowed 1.2 million WordPress users to be compromised, it added fuel to the already significant fire of security concerns around this much-loved open-source website software.
If you have the average number of plugins needed to just run your website, plus additional marketing services that have been cobbled together to support all the channels and target audiences you're trying to reach, then you probably don't have an effective website. You instead have a FrankenPress, a sum of parts that doesn't lead to an effective whole. Even if your website looks good, cobbled-together resources from both the website and the marketing tools add-ons is slowing you down and keeping you from effective marketing.
Staffing agencies and staffing intensive businesses like homecare, healthcare, and skilled trades deliver one primary value to their customers - skilled people. For most, attracting and winning that talent is their greatest challenge (75%+), with the candidate journey almost always starting and then progressing online. The quality of that experience is one critical part of what sets winning staffing agencies apart from those who are struggling with enough candidates to keep up with placement opportunities.
Did you know that 95% of decision-making is unconscious?
The Lord of the Rings has one ring to rule them all, but finding that one plugin has been a big challenge for WordPress users who rely on way too many plugins. Recent changes have presented an opportunity, and a single WordPress plugin can now cut down your reliance on the code-heavy, website slowing, high maintenance parade of plugins you might currently be using.
For lots of businesses and nonprofits, a website update is a painful and challenging process. They have to reach out to their developer and designer, or find one, create a scope of work, and then get the project into the development queue. Unless of course, they have a developer and a designer on standby with nothing else to do.
How the WordPress HubSpot integration can supercharge your website performance
Have you ever noticed a button in your car or on your computer that you've never really used? Unless you actually read the manual , it's easy to miss some of the best features that technology can deliver. It works that way when you have added the WordPress HubSpot integration to your WordPress website, too. There are lots of features that may have never explored. With the right approach, you can turn the WordPress HubSpot integration into an effective growth engine for your business or nonprofit.
With Google's Core Web Vitals making an impact on search rankings, website page load speed for WordPress has become a primary concern for people that want their website to show up on the top of search rankings. The HubSpot plugin is a key part of the solution for this challenge.
A buyer's journey is something we normally use in marketing to customers, but it also has a lot to do with how well we can recruit quality caregivers and healthcare workers, and keep them. In the highly competitive world of healthcare and home care recruiting, it's an advantage that you don't want to miss. Adding an employee journey to your marketing can be a powerful way to build a competitive advantage in recruiting.
If you haven't had a website redesigned recently, you may not have a good handle on how long it might take. The time required certainly varies, and the one answer you may hear, that really isn't helpful is,
A better grasp of the likely timeline is helpful when you're working on marketing plans and marketing budgets.
No one wants a website design package that reduces their visibility, damages their brand, or frustrates their customers. What's worse is making the investment in a small business website, and having almost no improvements in business as a result. Shopping for a website package is not the same as looking for a TV, buying a car or shopping for a new washer and dryer. Why? Because all of these things have standard measurements of volume, size, speed and they come with warranties. Almost none of those things are true of website design (👎 bummer).
Home care agencies are already business-to-business companies (B2B) if they work with institutions to receive referrals. They are also business to consumer (B2C) since they market directly to consumers who need care for themselves or their loved ones. B2E websites and B2E marketing is a critical focus for growth.
For staffing intensive businesses, passive candidates represent a big growth opportunity in 2021. Following the disruptions of 2020, the number of job changers has risen. According to a Harris Poll, 52% of U.S. workers are considering a job change this year, and as many as 44% have actual plans in place to make the leap.
Job postings are a critical part of recruiting, but the way they work can devalue the jobs you need to fill. Understanding the ways that your job posts lose their value, and taking steps to stand out, can help you attract and win more great employees.
I have. And I didn’t like the answer.
Have you ever seen the price of litigation if someone with a disability decides to file a complaint with the federal government under ADA Title III?
The focus of recruitment marketing and hiring has always been on managing the process. In the world of the big job boards where large numbers of resumes are delivered quickly, the challenge used to be sorting through all the resumes to filter out the ones that didn't fit to find the gem in the list.
But that has all changed in a scarce labor market. Now instead of relying on an ATS to manage the crowd, the need for filtering has been replaced by the need for better recruitment marketing.
The value of referrals for home care agencies is a proven way to build the business and a primary goal of all home care marketing. Your former customers along with their family members and the professionals that you interact with are a great source for new business. The challenge is finding ways to stay “top of mind” with all of these people and the time required.
We're honored to make this distinction, and we relish what this means for the company this year and beyond!
Part of the reason we were chosen for this distinction is because of a belief that we hold. And we aren't the most outstanding growth marketing consultancy because of what we do, but what other agencies do, or rather, don't do:
We believe that the current marketing agency model is unfair, and we believe there is a different way.
And here's where we stop talking about us, and start talking about the problems we have encountered with traditional agencies and even inbound agencies.
Cost is almost always a question when you are thinking about finding digital marketing help, whether you're just thinking about it or actually having conversations with prospective agencies. And the answers vary. Understanding what goes into those costs can help you to make a better decision.
In a tight job market, staffing agencies like those in homecare recruiting and healthcare recruiting have to shift their focus from just filtering out applicants to winning them. That's the job of a career pages on websites- to engage prospects by helping them experience the culture and the unique value that the company offers. It has to reach beyond the mechanics of presenting the open positions and receiving applications. These pages fill a critical role in supporting company growth. There's lots to learn from those who are doing it well. Here are our picks for best career pages in homecare.
Whether you are in healthcare staffing, homecare, skilled trades staffing, or have another recruiting focus, your ability to recruit effectively in a scarce labor market determines whether you’ve got the talent to fuel your growth or a lack of new hires that stops it cold. You need your system - your recruitment pipeline - to give you a competitive edge. Some call it a hiring pipeline or a candidate pipeline, but no matter the label, it’s the way you win and nuture opportunities with new hires.
Recruitment pipelines come from the same concept as marketing funnels - they are designed to take a large number of people and filter them down to just the right few. The right few to hire, or the right few to sell.
You might be surprised to hear that Coca-Cola, among other major brands like Nextdoor and Oregon State, have built attractive websites on HubSpot CMS. If you’re looking into this solution for your own company, it can be helpful to see the breadth of the platform's capabilities.
The market is like a basket of crabs. Whenever a home care agency tries the climb out and be different, the other crabs in the basket grab hold with their pincers and drag it back down. It's another version of the blue ocean vs. red ocean strategy - differentiation is what makes you stand out, and the market will work against you.
The effects of COVID-19 reduced demand for in-home care due to fears about the disease and increase of care being provided by family members, while at the same time sidelining scores of caregivers due to the lack of demand, and the alternative - getting paid more by taking unemployment. These twin impacts have created a down-turn for many home care providers that most want to overcome in 2021.
The impacts of COVID-19 and 2020 have disrupted almost every sector, and nonprofits haven't been spared. Current research available early in 2021 shows that about 70% of nonprofits lost revenue in 2020, with one-quarter losing between 26-50% of their revenue.
Those who work for and support nonprofits of all different types know all too well the impacts of forced program closures, distracted or economically challenged donors, and the loss of fundraising events as a staple for funding.
Retail, especially it's local expression, has been one of the last to get relief from COVID shutdowns. Almost every town and city now has boarded up or vacant retail. We know from news and our own conversations that many of those stores aren't coming back. While big box stores have continued in-person and added lots of delivery and pick-up options, the smaller stores that give personality and social context to our communities have been shuttered.
The way customers view your organization determines everything. From your reputation to their price sensitivity, length of the buying cycle, and willingness to commit to you as a business, employer, school, nonprofit, or church. That lens (the one that customers used in 2019 to search, consider, and commit) has been swapped out for a new vision of the world. What they see today is completely different than the vision that moved them to respond to your old messaging and brand story.
Story Collaborative was named one of the top "30 Most Reputable Companies of the Year 2021" by The Silicon Review. We're honored to have this distinction and excited for what it means this year and moving forward. Part of the reason we were chosen for this distinction is because we believe that the current marketing agency model is unfair.
Many businesses that are still open have been living in crisis response mode since March of 2020. By making rapid adjustments to product or service delivery, they have been able to track with the massive buyer shifts that have been occurring. Moving from responding to crisis to making intentional and strategic changes allows the organization to shift from simply staying afloat to seizing opportunities that create strength and growth.
Renting online traffic by purchasing ads is one way to acquire new customers. However, the cost of ads in the online bidding used by digital ad markets is being influenced by something you can control -- your website. Your website plays a major role in how much you will have to spend in order to bring in the right flow of reliable, quality leads. In most cases, websites aren't doing their job to keep ad costs down, and usually do the opposite by driving up your ad budget. It's a much better investment to use low cost website data and update strategies, than to continue being dependent upon ads.
We seem to be back in the soup again. Different states and cities are experiencing different levels of restriction. It's exhausting for everyone, and those who came through the first wave of COVID-19 successfully are now looking at renewed restrictions square in the eye. Here are some tips to avoid allowing the ongoing COVID saga from creating long-term damage to your brand story.
We're hearing about story selling, why stories, and story-based marketing. A brand story is more than the application of story telling to your brand. Here's the difference. The use of stories is a technique or an approach in sales, marketing and communication that is certainly effective. But without a careful process, it won't ever rise to a brand defining level.
Story branding is a shared adventure between you and the people that you serve. Your story brand will always be found in the place where your passions and values overlap with the passions and values of your audience. This alignment is what takes a simple brand offering a product or service, and elevates it into the status of a brand story. Instead of a commodity to be price-shopped, your offering is celebrated, shared and recommended. As a result, your cost of reaching customers goes down, your sales cycles become shorter and customer retention goes up.
With all the pressures on health care, to which COVID-19 added, it seems like piling on to raise the issue of cyber security. But in part because of COVID, it's on the rise in a significant way. Health care is a primary target because of the amount of patient data and the financial value of operational records.
You've seen the headlines, but you probably aren't aware of the unintentional insider threat that healthcare providers, hospitals, home care providers and others have left open for the hacker- poorly secured websites.
It's always a shock to see yourself on public display, especially on the cover (here's the magazine so you can be shocked too). It raises obvious and immediate self-doubt about needing better photos and the ongoing battle for the receding hairline. While it's much better than being put up on the post office wall, it's still a pretty humbling experience. But if you're working to build a company, a little boost always helps. Here are some lessons about being on a magazine cover:
It's a famous story- George Parker used to sell NYC landmarks from a fake office. He sold the Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Garden and reportedly the Brooklyn Bridge (about twice a week). The buyers would then discover that for some reason the police wouldn't let them set up a toll booth in the middle of the bridge! It all ended after his third conviction for running these cons in 1928.
Your home care website is an essential part of your marketing. It's the place that seniors and their families first experience the difference that you offer. Like a salesperson that's available 24/7, your website is the hub around which you should be building both marketing and caregiver recruiting. If that critical online resource becomes a risk for seniors, it threatens their security and your business.
The massive number of details that you're managing to launch a new service line or office location can crowd out one important area - marketing. Great healthcare offerings need great patients. Starting the marketing process early and ensuring that you cover the essential elements will make the investment in clinic space, and time pay off earlier.
Attracting the right number of caregivers to meet client demand is challenging. Your growth is limited by not having great caregivers available when the client is ready. And, keeping those caregivers requires that you've got a job they want when they're ready. Growing agencies are figuring out how to keep the right supply of caregivers to meet client opportunities. An insight from the 2020 Benchmarking Study points out a critical way to boost your effectiveness.
"That’s a great question, boss lady!
Does your website lack any return visitors, or have your site visits fallen off? Is it failing to get any lead conversions from real people? Has it been more than 3 years since you have had real work done on it? Has it been built by a do-it-yourself solution, or did Jonas in your uncle’s basement design it for you?
"for high-end editing, it's DaVinci Resolve. But, there are some other great choices, too. You need to discover the best video editing tool for you and your needs. Here's how..."
I'll admit it. I'm a recovering DIY addict. Some of the most humorous words spoken in our home are, "I can do that." The DIY resulted in my purchase of a 1960's Triumph Spitfire which broke more clutches than it got oil changes, and too many other projects to name, all completed with low to moderate success. But does the duct tape and baling wire (you know, the wire for hay bales) approach work in 2020 for marketing?
Choice paralysis is the inability to choose, or being frozen in the process because of mental or emotional overload. This can impact your website, the services or products that you sell, and all of your marketing. The last thing we want our marketing to do is to paralyze decisions! We want to help people make good ones!
Since 2018, Cheetos has been the target of a new major competitor: PeaTos. These pea-filled copy-cats have one goal: be moderately more healthy than Cheetos. They've stripped out the common junk-food culprits, like artificial flavors and genetically modified ingredients, and they've replaced corn with peas. Their ad strategy -- rubbing it in Frito-Lays' face -- is nothing short of hilarious.
Gary Vaynerchuck is famous for having said: “Every one of you is a media company.”
“So glad you asked! When looking at comps, ask yourself:
Well, one isn’t better -- they’re just different! In general, YouTube is the place that the average business can build an audience, gain SEO value (since it’s owned by Google), and expect consumer interaction. Vimeo is really the filmmaker’s platform. This is a place you can host videos that are embedded on your website, or share edits with clients. Vimeo provides unique control of your content that YouTube is not designed for. But, don’t forget! Platforms like Facebook typically require you to upload your video there as well for the best shareability and visibility.”
You can't say: “Yikes! I need a rain check."
In order to understand de-personalization we have to understand personalization. This is the use of data to deliver messages and information to the right person at the right time. This can put the right kind of data in front of the right person at the right time.
Since recruiting and retaining caregivers is the lifeblood of homecare recruiting, healthcare recruiting, and other industries facing a shortage, finding the right approach to the recruitment funnel is critical. With in-person events off the table right now, job listing services might seem like the only viable option. The 2020 Benchmarking Study highlights an important recruiting difference between agencies that are growing and those that struggle to grow.
We've all seen that tribal reality TV moment when all the contestants meet by torchlight and vote to exile others with their votes written on a piece of bark, and put it into the giant tiki head. Someone is always getting voted off the island - does that apply to your website too?
Best Kept Secret-itus is a tricky website illness. You or other leaders in your organization might think or say, “I feel like we’re a best kept secret.” This is the first sign that you may in fact have this website illness. To know for sure if your website has this illness, you must be able to define your target audience, because the disease occurs when too few people in that audience know that you exist.
What happens when an ad campaign goes totally wrong? I mean, the ad campaign actually sends their potential customers running for the hills, wanting to jump off a cliff or even better: “climb Mount Everest in flippers,” as one commenter put it.
Rebranding? Relaunching? New the the scene? Likely, you're going to sort through logo comps from a designer, but you'll do so without any really idea about how to choose the right thing. You'll look with your feelings or with your gut response. But, you won't inherently use logic or business sense in choosing the right logo.
This is a common question for many marketers. You look at your site, and it's been a few months (or a few years) since it was revamped. You start to wonder... "Do I need a new website?" Sometimes, it's not a question you're asking. In some cases, your boss walked into your office in the middle of a busy day and asked, "Hey, do we need a new website?"
Here’s the thing guys. We understand that COVID-19 has changed the way we interact and conduct meetings. With companies like Amazon allowing remote work until next year, and Uber even extending that period until at least June of 2021, being on a video call is here to stay. But there are some rules of engagement for video. And you could be breaking them.
Story-based marketing is a growing, dramatic change in the way that brands are connecting and building loyal relationships with their customers. This approach is more powerful than you might think. It's developed beyond simply including stories in the engagement process. Four characteristics help define the difference between traditional and story-based marketing.
A common (but outdated) definition of story-based marketing goes something like this:
Single Point of Failure: this is a concept in IT, business, and manufacturing planning that says: there are some things in our business that can shut us down. If they fail, we fail... As marketers, we are often subject to these single points of failure that stop us from getting things done. We get stuck, because of a single point of failure. Our marketing relies upon a single resource that is either expensive, hard to get, or slow to respond (this is a bottleneck point of failure).
I don't know if you've noticed, but... your consumers are at home. You know this because you're at home, too! But, it's easy to forget that everyone across the globe is at home in a way they were not previously. The continued behavioral changes of people on YouTube actually hold unique insights into how people are feeling, what they are needing, and how their life is changing. These 8 YouTube stats will remind you of the needs of your consumer. They might even launch your marketing team toward an empathetic strategy that hits a home run (no pun intended).
The recent 2020 Benchmarking Study demonstrated the dramatic revenue difference between those who use a CRM and those who do not (if you didn't know, CRM stands for customer relationship management). For those who have feelings of dread about trying out a CRM, or memories of CRMs before the modern email and mobile integrated versions, it's easy to have completely the wrong idea about the about why am I doing this?
As people begin the long road toward whatever their new post-COVID, at-home, foundationally-digital life will become, new research has emerged about consumer behavior. Ketchum's research, which surveyed consumers in mid-June, tells us a lot about how people will move forward in their buying habits.
The reports from home care agencies make it clear - agencies that put a CRM to work are driving more revenue. The 2020 Benchmarking Study shows that Agencies that use a customer relationship management system (CRM) enjoy a strong financial and practical advantage because they market more effectively, get more done in less time and ensure that prospects don't slip through the cracks.
Managed service providers, or MSPs, are trusted partners for millions of organizations. They hold the keys to almost everything of value within a business from access to banking and client records, to eCommerce and personal information. Since nailing down security issues is an important role for most MSPs, the potential that an MSP could become an insider threat is a potential reputation wrecker for these businesses.
There are many occasions as a marketing professional that call for pulling out your iPhone and capturing something. It could be your product, your customer having an awesome experience, or even in internal team challenge that has potential create amazing recruiting footage. For the next occasion, here are the top three things you can do (or tell you underling to do) to capture the best possible footage.
If you need a recruiting advantage, borrow the inbound marketing approach that works with customers and apply it to employee recruiting.
What is inbound marketing? Inbound marketing has become a powerful tool in the effort to win customers. At its heart, inbound marketing is the delivery of value through content that builds trust and leads to a loyal buyer. Valuable content helps the customer throughout their entire journey from exploring a need all the way to making a buying decision. This approach is highly effective with home care marketing because it addresses the whole customer journey as well as the what's required for for search engine optimization (SEO). Those that find you through SEO are often the most qualified customers and employees.
Hungry, hungry, hungry...
Did you ever notice that the ads you experience on vacation affect you differently than in every day life? That's the experience you might have when you are super hungry and see commercials for food! With a lot of stay-cationing going on and people choosing to travel by car instead of plane, this canned soup commercial couldn't be more timely - it will actually make you feel hungry after a long day's travel, or if you are thinking about meal prep for your stay at home crew.
Microsites are becoming a competitive strategy in a number of industries. Put simply, a microsite is a focused group of pages that provide information that is designed to serve a unique audience, location or product/service. It wraps the sales and value message up in a focused package, along with critical information and answers to questions so that when a prospect visits the microsite, they are able to learn what they need to and move to the next level of the buyer's journey.
In 2020, I think it's clear that "everyone" is on Facebook. But, even so... the question remains: who is actively using Facebook and what are they doing while they scroll? These insights can help us better target our ads, and develop more relevant organic content.
Most websites are carrying a heavy burden. It's not just the need for high-performing lead conversion, it's the massive amount of dead-weight content that simply doesn't perform. If you run a page count on your website, and compare it to pages or articles that people never visit, you'll see just how much content falls into the category of "no visitors."
Is your website someone you'd like to go to a party with? How about on vacation? You may not think of a website as having a personality - but your customers and prospects see your website as an extension of your brand. If the website is friendly, personal and efficient, that's what they think of you too.
Almost every business and nonprofit has experienced some level of market disruption. And it’s lasted longer than anyone thought. What comes along with these market disruptions is something that every leader has to pay attention to - change.
Among all of the important technology tools for getting online is the Content Management System (CMS). You might think of it as simply your website, but it is part of what should be "under the hood" of an effective online presence. Your CMS is what allows prospective customers to discover online the experience, talent and value that you offer.
We tend to think of our websites in the singular. You may think that you “have a website” (i.e., one) and that one site is where everything has to fit. It’s easy to think that one business or organizational website is the single container for all of your online presence, but that’s not the reality for effective web marketing. Effective web marketing includes multiple landing pages, sub-sites or micro-sites for specific purposes all with the goal of giving people the exact information and opportunities that they need to become our customers.
How your sales activity can help seniors during the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
No other group in our society has been affected as deeply as seniors during COVID-19. In addition to the associated health risks, seniors are experiencing the greatest amounts of social isolation and will remain isolated for a longer period of time. Social isolation, whether it is a result of physicial limitations, or the shelter in place requirements, is strongly linked to depression and anxiety in seniors. A large percentage of those who are sheltering in place (47%) are reporting that they are experiencing anxiety and depression - that's a jump of 30% over those who aren't stuck at home.
While there are many challenges that organizations are facing as a result of COVID-19, there are also opportunities to come out of the other side as a stronger business. Resilience as a business means reaching deep to rely upon existing and newly acquired competencies to move through a season of challenge. One important area is accelerating as a result: virtualization and Revops.
If you are in senior sales, in order continue closing sales right now, you have to find new ways to walk seniors through their decision journey. The salespeople that we talk with report that using the phone to navigate the details of complex and emotional decisions is difficult. Understanding the value of moving to video vs. phone is vital for senior salespeople that want to retain and build their closing rate.
When we hear from our clients that some marketing information needs some input, we often record a live video. (Check out S+Marketing LIVE's "3 Marketing Things" Series). Our latest Marketing Roundup includes advice from all of our super talented team members on the topic of email. Yes, email still has value!
People used to believe that seniors couldn't really be reached online. That's one reason that funeral preplanning and senior living still relies upon postal mail and expensive mass media. Along with everything else, times have changed. Now it's easier than ever to reach seniors online.
The trends toward online participation among seniors have been consistently growing for a number of years, but along with the rest of the population, they've gone more digital in 2020 that anyone could have imagined.
We're starting to hear the whispers of going back to work. It's a welcome discussion. Leaders at all levels of government are starting to work through how we will start to recover. Have you started thinking about your bounce-back?
We are in a moment right now, that presents a unique opportunity to your business or nonprofit. Whether you are a school, a healthcare practice, a senior living facility, retailer or service provider, there are things that you can do right now which you may never be able to do again.
For many organizations, this is a concept passed around during high-level board meetings, or developed in the strategic planning or story brand process, but quickly forgotten. Even in a workplace that has their values displayed and posted for frequent employee review, company values still often feel dusty and inanimate -- not active verbs as much as required reading once or twice a year.
But now, more than ever, your corporate values are on display.
Once they get past the health-concerns and medical response, leaders are beginning to wrestle with the immediate and short-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on their organizations. Protecting, closing, canceling and postponing is just the first step. Beyond the first, somewhat shocking and challenging parts of the process, it’s critical to get a handle on ways that you can approach the large scale changes that are occurring in and around your business or nonprofit.
The use of all types of video has increased consistently dramatically year over year for the past decade. In 2015, marketers reported that 78% felt that video was important and in 2020 that number is 92% (Wzowl 2020). Many businesses, schools, and nonprofits have incorporated video to a limited degree in their sales and marketing, but much of that adoption is falling far behind the way that both consumers and business buyers behave.
It's the stealth applicant season when those who aren't on your radar submit an application without warning. It's always great to get an unexpected application, but there's a downside to these surprises, too.
The challenges that the stealth applicant brings are important to consider. You can't get a handle on what enrollment "might look like," if you have a large number of people who don't give you advance signals. You also don't know if they are just submitting a safety application, or if they are a good mission fit at all.
Leisure reading is at an all-time low. Did you know that? Even Steve Jobs pointed out back in 2008 that people are reading less than one book per year. But this article is not going to be about leisure reading or the decline in our literary culture.
Millennials are the emerging consumer powerhouse - $600 million in 2019. Their values come through loud and clear in how they shop and what they buy. One value you need to know about is their strong preference for authenticity. It impacts the way they see your business.
90% of millennials say that brand authenticity is important to them. They prefer the “real and organic” over the “perfect and packaged.” They are seeing your business or nonprofit brand through that unique lense - and it creates a bigger impact than you might think. Their reaction can range from mild-distaste all the way to “this is obviously not for me,” and immediate departure from the website or other collateral. We've interviewed millennials who took one look at a website and concluded they'd never return.
A three-part series: How to own your brand story, align your team, and multiply your impact
Anyone who works in a service-related industry knows the challenges of serving people, satisfying budgets and regulations, and doing all of that with a team of humans. Our experience often lines up with the title of the great book by Charles Swindoll about personal perseverance, Three Steps Forward and Two Steps Back. Sometimes it seems that just about the time we start to see our numbers climbing, we face a set-back due to customer service, a staffing issue, or even both. When you own your brand story it can help propel you to stronger growth, better staff retention and customer service.
In 2020, we’re convinced that taking three steps forward and no steps back, revolves around learning how to own your brand story, align your team, and multiplying your effort. We’re seeing these outcomes in the clients we work with and want to share them in this three-part article that will introduce the kinds of change that will create momentum that you can sustain.
It's easy to get excited about the latest "shiny object." We're excited about robotics, machine learning and creating computers that will be doing a variety of human tasks. We're even making quantum particles work for us in computing, and hopefully, they'll deliver value in the future. Software is making it possible for us to take what was available previously only to the mega-corporation into even the smallest start-up or to the individual home.
It's happening again. Your ability to finish a sentence has become difficult, it doesn't seem like you are getting anywhere on completing one simple task, and you are becoming easily distracted. Did you guess it yet? That's right... these are the symptoms of burnout!
The truth is it's not the first - or the last - time that this will happen. But your project isn't done, and you have to keep going.
Sometimes, clients want to know if we’ll work on spec. Or in other words: do we have enough faith in our product to bring a finished marketing program to the table before anyone agrees to pay for it? The quick and short answer is: no. Our team doesn’t work on spec.
In some ways, this question comes down to trust. As a prospective buyer of marketing services, if you’re asking this question then you do not trust us or another agency enough to pay for unseen results. And, we can understand that feeling.
The truth is, marketing has become the car salesman of B2B careers. We make big claims about growth, but many times don’t come through. And business owners feel as if they’ve been manipulated into wasting money.
So, let’s dive into the meat of this question, and explain why we don’t work this way.
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What do Disney+ streaming, robotic automation and desktop video communication all have in common? We’re in an age of digital disruption. Entrepreneurs and savvy business owners alike are looking for competitive advantages and often find them in digital solutions. Your industry is no different with lots of disruption occurring now with even more to come in 2020.
This is the effect of technology that changes the basic expectations and behaviors throughout our culture. Market disruption can cause whole industries to radically change and long-standing companies to disappear in very short periods of time.
For a funeral home owner, there is probably not an asset that is more valuable than the funeral home’s reputation. Yet, the emergence of social media has changed the way that people evaluate the businesses that they should trust for important family needs.
85% of Americans report that they trust online reviews more than what their friends or family say about a business. (Brightlocal)
The longstanding tension between marketing and sales is no secret. One side (marketing) runs great campaigns and is disappointed by the way sales teams put those leads to use. The other side (sales) doesn’t think the quality of leads is high enough and responds to marketing generated leads with a less than enthusiastic attitude. Story Collaborative recently joined the elite group of “Sales Lions” after completing the transformative Pipeline Generation Bootcamp provided by our partner, HubSpot. We learned better sales-marketing alignment through smarketing.
A lot is riding on your website. What used to be an online support to sales has now shifted to become our number #1 sales person. How so? Consumers spend at least half of their time online before they talk with anyone in your business. The wrong choices on how you approach your website can have the same affect as firing your best salesperson, or closing your most profitable storefront.
Story Ecology is the analysis and development of intentional strategies to bring health and vitality to the complex network of stories that surround every organization. The interaction of these stories, their impact on both the organization and the individual groups. Story ecology combines elements of cultural anthropology, communications theory, systems thinking from ecology, narratology and communications best practices to enhance prosocial values and interpersonal health in companies and nonprofits.
Consumer groups and low-cost providers are making price a focus for cremation. However, when we marketing cremation services on price alone, we risk becoming just another commodity like everything else that you can buy online with a coupon or an "on sale now" tag.
What is a commodity? Something to be traded and purchased based upon price alone. Commodities are things for which a special description is unnecessary because the service or good is always the same. The market treats commodities as essentially the same, measured in a standard unit and interchangeable.
How do funeral homes respond to families concern about prices without allowing themselves to be shopped on price alone?
Online search is the new yellow pages. Even older adults rely upon web search to find important information about healthcare, finances, travel and funeral options. With 75% of those who are age 70 to 74 relying on search, it is no surprise that the decision makers for many funerals, who are Baby Boomers or younger, rely almost entirely on searching online to find funeral resources. A key business decision is how to reach them using digital ads vs. SEO?
If you wonder whether healthcare marketing should focus on digital ads or organic SEO (search engine optimization), the right answer is often - "yes." Making a choice about how to prioritize ads in your healthcare marketing can pit your efforts to create the content required for effective SEO against digital ads. The digital ads vs. seo decision should be based on your current business needs, and balanced against long-term goals. Healthcare marketing, done well, can address both long-term and short-term business goals.
If you wonder whether inbound marketing can focus on digital ads and organic SEO (search engine optimization), the right answer is often - "yes." Making a choice about whether to include ads along with inbound marketing and its native SEO vs. digital ads is based on your business needs. Inbound marketing, done well, can address both long-term and short-term business goals.
Brand platforms are all about capturing the existing spirit of your company. The personality, goals, and driving force of any brand should be somehow expressed in a genuine brand platform.
We’ve come a long way from the days when all marketing was distributed to the entire available audience - true mass marketing. The development of technologies like targeted cable and retargeting (serving ads to people who have visited your website), has allowed more focused and cost-effective outreach. But these approaches still don’t meet the need for the many businesses, sales teams and nonprofits who need to reach a very small pool of prospects.
It hardly seems fair. First, consumers use democratizing technology to change everything, and then the state of change puts employees in the driver's seat too. We're hiring at Story Collaborative, and like many other employers, want to find the right person. Here is a chance to catch your breath and look beyond our now Uberized world as it relates to hiring and keeping great team members. In this guest post, we are joined by Jonathan M. Mills, Founder of Corporate Culture Specialist with important insights into how your brand can adapt and thrive in an employee's market.
Brand stories help organizations grow more quickly and with greater sustainability. Complete the checkup to find out how yours might be working.
Why is there such an obsession with stories in marketing? The answer - organizations that are powered by a well-crafted brand story grow more than those with any other communication approach. Brand stories aren’t just a method; they connect to the core of how the human mind works. When we connect with people using a brand story, the message stays with them longer and moves them to take action more quickly.
Everyone loves a shortcut—but as you know from sitting in the back seat while people refuse to use a map—they don’t always lead you to where you thought they would. It’s easy to get busy with lots of tasks that others have used, or that have been suggested to us as shortcuts for growth. When you begin to dabble in marketing, you can start to get a dozen emails a week with “marketing hacks” (read that as quick shortcuts) with each one promising to address every challenge you are facing.
Authenticity is now a core concern of growing companies. Millennials and consumers want to see true integrity and are pushing for real experiences. They want long-term relationships with organizations that bring meaning to their lives rather than simply a paycheck or something delivered in a box. This goes beyond commodities—they want to be connected to organizations with a purpose that anchors the very center of their story.
Does all of your effort on search engine optimization, help or hurt your brand? It’s easy to miss the brand impacts of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) while you are working to ensure that customers can find you online. Search strategy is deeply interwoven with the experience that potential customers have with your brand.
Business growth is a difficult thing at times with so much to accomplish in terms of marketing, sales, and cash flow. One thing you can do with inexpensive equipment, a little know-how, and good stories is to create business growth through video. By 2019, most content consumed online will be video. Videos can help solve problems that crop in a person’s life (like the Dollar Shave Club intro video or the Chatbooks mom video). Videos can also tell amazing stories that people want to hear more about (think Red Bull’s Digging in the Carts series or Blendtec’s Will it Blend?).
In the beginning, there was only one form of marketing. This marketing focused on pushing out advertising that interrupted people (think TV commercials, radio/magazine ads). Called outbound marketing, it used interruption as the primary tool and placed a product or service in the way of the actual information or entertainment that people were consuming. This form of marketing began to shift with the introduction of the internet. In 1999, Seth Godin published a book called, "Permission Marketing," during the era in which search engine optimization (SEO) and inbound marketing began to take shape. But is inbound marketing alone, enough to create growth?
The promise of technology for business is its ability to make big resources available for everyone. It’s an equalizer. The personal applications have changed entertainment, personal networking, finance, job hunting, and many other parts of our lives. In business, we look to technology accelerators in ecommerce, cloud services, software that is developed through broad crowdsourcing, and other systems that allow us to do more with less time and money.
You have many choices for marketing and advertising - social networks, digital ads, print ads, email, direct marketing. Which one rises to the top? If you are in healthcare, technology, education or just about any industry, you may have thought your website was not that valuable because it hasn't been bringing you customers. If this is you, you need to think again. 2017 research reinforces the fact that people who are on their way to becoming customers because they want to expand their learning will go to your website more than any other resource.
A company's online presence has become vital to how its customers and potential employees perceive their brand. From the look and feel of the website, to its content, to where your company come up in their Google search results, people care how you present yourself. So just how are home health and home care agencies doing online? Numbers don't lie, so let's take a look at some statistics on the subject. Do you know where you stand as a company? The results might surprise you.
There are more than 5,000 options for Martech (marketing technology). Add that to what you need for customer service, CRM, scheduling and payment systems and it creates a dizzying array of options. Growing companies have large tech stacks and need a complex set of strategies to compete. But how do they integrate the technology and the information in a way that creates business growth?
What people see when they search for a term that has local services attached is different than what they get when they are searching more globally. Local and global search are both beneficial, and it's important to know how they work to connect someone to your home care marketing. Think of this as two kinds of web searchers:
SEO brings you “organic traffic,” which delivers to customers who are searching resources that solve their challenges. At the top of the same page that the organic listings appear are both the local SEO results and paid search ads. Paid ads are marked with an advertisement symbol, and people know they are click-us ads that appear on the top of the search page. While these ads are working better than they used to, people still trust the organic listings and the local listings more than they trust paid advertisements. But that does not mean they have no value. For most home care agencies that want to grow, a combination of paid and organic listings is most effective. However, reliance on paid ads only is not a good strategy for sustaining business growth.
On the top of many agencies lists is the opportunity to drive additional visitors to their websites. This is done using search engine optimization, which is a series of steps that have a simple goal - place your website on the first page of as many search engine responses as possible. Since the dominant search engine is Google - we can simply say that SEO is designed to put you on the first page of Google searches.
Both customers and employees go through a journey before they contact a home care or home health organization. Like a good story, the customer journey in home care marketing begins with a challenge or a need that has to be overcome. The presence of that need is what sets the journey in motion.
Customers and search engines have one big thing in common - what they want is answers to questions and solutions for their needs. Google’s primary job is to deliver the best information for the question posed. Customers reward valuable information by staying on websites longer and sharing it with their friends (which also tells Google that they should send more traffic). This is all wrapped up in the digital content that you make available online on your home care website and through social networks. Make your home care marketing content online both intentional and functional for your business with these insights.
Opening new services, locations, and any kind of business growth requires an investment balancing act. You ask, "which marketing spend will create a return most quickly?", and,"how can I minimize risk and reduce the “burn rate” as the business grows?" Reaching break-even isn’t the goal, since total profit at break-even is zero. The goal is to get beyond break-even to profitability.
Whether you are expanding to a second (or third, fourth) location, or adding a new service line to your business, seasons of growth take your business into new levels of risk that require innovation. And beyond just the opportunity for new revenues and profits, the innovative thinking that goes with the expansion process and your business marketing strategy is actually important to the rest of your business too.
It can be a challenge to know which communication channels or networks you should use for effective digital content. Do you want to use email, text message, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Youtube, Slideshare, Quora, or any number of other choices? There are two ways to know which communication channels will serve you best:
Recruiting employees is the major barrier to growth for many home care and home health employees. Some are even calling it a crisis. In a supply and demand world, when you have demand for care - you also need a great supply - of caregivers. The challenge is no secret, but the answer might just be.
What your employees say about your company matters. If a brand is the sum total of customer experiences with a company or organization, then what is an employer brand? It’s the total experience of an individual as an employee. The employer brand sums up their experience beginning from the first moment they learn about your company, through the process of applying for work, and then their experiences within the company culture. Just like a customer, employees have a story to tell about the company. Your customers are telling your brand story, but so are your employees.
It’s easy to get confused about brand stories, so it helps to define what they are not. Brand stories are not the historical version of how your organization got started, nor are they the collection of marketing lines and images that you use in your marketing mix.
Every year, more than a million millennials become parents for the first time. This means that there are currently around 13 million millennial parents in the U.S. who have school-aged children. In order to engage this market, private schools need to understand the unique values of the millennial generation. The way that Christian school marketing reaches millennials matters, and insights into this generation make effective inbound marketing possible.
Most people today wouldn't go to a new restaurant without checking it out online first. So why would parents send their children to a private school that has a weak web presence? Having an informative website is no longer enough. Parents and students want to feel a sense of connection. With an inbound private school marketing approach, you can build rapport with new families before they even set foot on your campus.