Thursday, July 28, 2011

Increase spend on marketing? Absolutely!

"Budgets open up, but strategies change."

As 2011 unfolds, companies across many industries continue to increase spending on marketing. According to the latest CMO Council's State of Marketing Report (, more than half of marketers are experiencing increases in budgets this year, based on information provided by CMOs and marketing VPs. You may not be surprised by what strategies are receiving additional funding, digital and social media channels, but you may be interested in how new strategies are expanding the role of marketing within the organization.

It is no surprise that marketers are focusing on digital channels and social media strategies to reach prospects and further develop relationships with customers. Although many marketers surveyed from the CMO Council would consider their organizations novices in these areas, they are applying their budgets accordingly and shifting on how they monitor, manage and report on the results. With a focus on banner ads, online video, SEO, mobile and other digital and social channels, marketers are building-out online communities and social media feedback systems to monitor activity, mine data and track interactions. Now marketers are shifting focus on customer segmentation and lead targeting efforts to gain a more accurate cross-section of the market segments and, ultimately, the customer.

Because these new marketing strategies and tactics continue to stretch the continuum from lead acquisition to customer service/management, marketing continues to be elevated at the business strategy table for more broad-ranged planning and forecasting discussions. According to the State of Marketing Report, 75% of CMOs and VPs are requested to be more involved in global business planning, from assessing sales channels to discussions on product distribution.

As you innovate your marketing approach, consider looking at digital channels and social media strategies through a more initiative-based or temporary perspective. Build a team on-site to implement a social marketing strategy. Work with an outside agency to craft a market-focused mobile campaign. Consider using outside experts to gain inside knowledge, then when you see results and sustainability, consider shifting resources internally to gain additional traction.

The philosophy of Creatis has always been to help companies stay nimble and innovative. We continue to help internal and external agencies flex to the needs of their business. We encourage companies to innovate their marketing approach through building scalable solutions.

"If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative." - Woody Allen

Monday, May 9, 2011

Facebook vs. LinkedIn for B2B marketing

"What's a B2B marketer to do?"

The relentlessly hot topic of how social media fits within business-to-business (B2B) marketing continues to baffle many a marketer, so I've reached out to my social-media-intellect colleague, Garrio Harrison, the president of Doublethink (, a social media consultancy, and asked him his thoughts.

How should B2B marketers use LinkedIn?
Harrison states that LinkedIn has become the Facebook of the professional world. Though most people think of it as a central location to document career achievements and work history, it is also a way to curate one's professional social circle. When we meet other professionals at networking events or are introduced by a mutual colleague, we ask ourselves, "Is this a person I have an interest in getting to know further to develop my network, career or business?" If so, we "accept" him or her. At this point we are opting into the information this individual shares. We then have the ability to provide the person with "status updates" to position our company as a thought leader, spark interest in potential product offerings, or augment sales efforts by remaining top of mind.

How should B2B marketers use Facebook?
Harrison states that Facebook is most effective when leveraged as a PR communication channel and should be thought of as a long-term strategic investment in building and supporting your brand and corporate culture.

The initial hurdle for most B2B companies is to get customers to visit and "like" their Facebook page. You'll most likely need other marketing vehicles and a "call to action" to get them there. Once an organization is "liked" by a customer, the customer has now opted into the information the organization pushes to them through postings whenever Facebook is accessed.

The goal of a B2B organization should be to develop content that resonates with customers outside of its products or services. For example, customers may desire to know that the organizations they do business with are being good citizens and giving back to the community. This is an ideal opportunity to remain top of mind through showcasing your organization's core values through creating an active communication on community involvement and volunteer activities. This is an opportunity to educate customers while humanizing the organization, with the hope of creating affinity to the brand.

Keep in mind: In all that you do with LinkedIn and Facebook, remain authentic. Be a resource to your customers. Avoid pushing products and services. Social media is more effective when leveraged as a way to help customers choose your offerings by strategically explaining why they need your services and why you are most qualified and trusted to help their business.

When it comes to LinkedIn and Facebook, it's good to be "liked." Today, if you have a social media initiative integrated into your overall marketing plan, and you need resources to develop content and manage delivery, give Creatis a call and borrow some of our social media experts.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Marketing Trends for 2011

Are you keeping up?"

By Chuck Swensson, President of Creatis--February 2011

Now that 2011 is in full swing, is your marketing organization innovating, or struggling to keep up with the trends? Maybe your strategy is rock-solid, but your creative team is having a difficult time executing. Or, you are like many others - your plan is in place, but you just haven't had a chance to get the wheels turning.

According to, an AMA (American Marketing Association) survey was conducted on which marketing trends are the most significant in 2011. With such a large focus on social and mobile marketing, many organizations are having a difficult time not only understanding the competency, but actually learning how to apply it to their organization.

Here are two recommendations to help you keep up with the trends:

  • Don't react. Consider your industry, your product or service, and most importantly, your customer. Will these marketing resources help you sell more, or operate more efficiently? It always goes back to your overall marketing strategy and understanding what tactics create alignment, versus what would be great to have. Not every company is going to succeed simply by using mobile marketing. Don't follow a trend simply to be a follower - it may become a distraction that keeps you from servicing your customer.
  • Get outside help. The ability to be great or successful at something, many times takes outside counsel. Sure, you can eventually bring a new competency in-house, but before you invest and ingrain, it may be beneficial to find a specialty firm that can help you with your social or mobile strategy, and provide recommendations on how to implement it within your organization. You may pay more up front, but knowledge transfer and accuracy in solution will far outweigh any initial cost savings you were wishing for by building internally.
As you consider investing your time and energy to innovate your marketing approach, consider looking at marketing trends through a more project-based or temporary perspective. Build a team on-site to implement a social marketing strategy. Work with an outside agency to craft a market-focused mobile campaign. Consider using outside experts to gain inside knowledge.Then when you see results and sustainability, consider shifting resources internally to gain additional traction.

The philosophy of Creatis has always been to help companies stay nimble and innovative. We continue to help internal and external agencies flex to the needs of their business through building creative teams on-site or sending creative projects to our creative studio. We encourage companies to innovate their marketing approach through building scalable solutions.

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things. - Peter Drucker

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Trade organizations. What's the point?"

Why some don't join, and why most should.

Many professionals know the importance of being active in a trade organization, and the creative and marketing industry has no shortage of options. Are you active with AMA, IABC, AIGA, MDMA, MIMA, SME, DAL, MNWIFT, MWMC, ADFED or PRSA? If I lost you at AMA (American Marketing Association), then there's a good chance you are not. Because time is so valuable--and there is no shortage of options--what's a marketer to do? Do your best to be proactive.

Here are two common reasons why marketers do NOT join a trade organization:
  • I just don't have time. Many creative and marketing professionals are busy with their full-time jobs, and they have a life outside of work. However, involvement with a trade organization is a career-development decision, not a convenience option. Time and time again, professionals find themselves engrossed with their jobs--and they do little to network with others, or research emerging trends or technologies that are impacting their professions. When do they finally find time? When they get laid off, or find themselves without work. Then they freak out, try to have coffee with everyone they can, and finally become involved with a trade organization.
  • The individuals that attend are not at my level. Instead of being a naysayer on how things should be structured or which events are lame, and complaining about junior-level attendees, take the opportunity to volunteer, get involved and make it into something worthwhile. If you are senior level, then find a way to give back to the local creative and marketing community by volunteering your time to help others. Be a speaker. Be a panelist. Be a mentor. Never forget that the individuals running these organizations are almost all volunteers, so cut them some slack and be a proponent.
Creatis is highly involved, and we both attend and sponsor creative and marketing trade organizations in Minnesota and Texas. We believe that these organizations are the foundation to building localized strength in talent and innovation. An important focus in each of these markets is to retain the talent in both Minnesota and Texas, and develop growing hotbeds for creativity and marketing innovation.

Find the time now, and build your network. If you are a creative or marketing professional, and you are not investing the time to attend meetings and make connections, you may find yourself in panic-mode. There is such a great variety of organizations from which to choose--so find the one that fits your career path best and get involved.

"A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door."
- Confucius


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Use caution when hiring freelancers.

You may be at risk with your freelancer.

A shortcut solution to tackling a pile of creative projects sometimes involves calling in your freelancer. To some, a freelancer, or independent contractor (IC), is a flexible solution to not being able to hire. Leveraging freelancers is a traditional solution for both creative and marketing agencies and departments--and future trends shows consistent growth in the need for temporary support as companies resist hiring.
But buyers beware--the Obama administration has funded a program to investigate companies that have co-employment issues, or are misclassifying employees with the use of freelancers or ICs. Most of the missteps are taken in how companies manage and engage with their freelancers. You may be at risk!

Here are three ways to minimize your risks as you consider calling in your freelancer:
  • Determine whether you are treating your freelancer like an employee. According to Pepper Hamilton LLP, (, "The tests used to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor (IC) or an employee are complex, subjective, and differ from law to law. Some federal and state agencies list as many as two dozen factors that may indicate whether or not the hiring party has such control." Do your research, get some help and gain an understanding of whether you are at risk--and to what level.
  • Hire your freelancer, or set strict boundaries. Once you understand the state and federal laws, consider converting your freelancer to an employee, or set up the proper boundaries to maintain a company-to-company relationship--which usually means extra steps and costs for your freelancer. According to Pepper Hamilton LLP, "More and more companies are receiving notices from state unemployment agencies that question whether a former worker classified as a freelancer or IC should be reclassified as an employee, opening the risk of liability for any prior misclassification."
  • Strongly consider staffing alternatives. Using a staffing agency is your best recourse. According to Pepper Hamilton LLP, "The use of a responsible staffing organization can dramatically reduce the risk of such liability as well as the likelihood of a lawsuit challenging the classification of a group of workers paid on a 1099 basis." When a staffing agency provides their employees on a contract basis, the agency withholds income taxes, makes Medicare and Social Security contributions, pays workers compensation and unemployment insurance premiums, and also can provide benefits including health insurance. A staffing alternative cannot eliminate all liability for misclassification, but it can greatly reduce risk.
Creatis is the alternative to your freelancers and ICs. Because we provide benefits for our employees, we manage the taxes, workers compensation and unemployment insurance, employment and management issues so you can focus on your business. Please consider us before you call your next freelancer. We can be your short-term and long-term solution, when hiring is just not an option.

"There is a great difference between knowing a thing and understanding it."
- Charles F. Kettering

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Is your email marketing missing the mark?"

Four reasons no one is reading your email newsletter.

"Like almost everyone who uses email, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It would be funny if it weren't so exciting." - Bill Gates

A continuously growing trend is the use of email marketing--a cost-effective, measurable, adaptable resource to create awareness and brand promotion in the marketplace.

As a marketer, if email marketing is in your toolbox and you've worked hard to establish an email newsletter, you've probably scratched your head in wonder as to why no one is responding. Although there are quite a few assumptions as to why you may be unsuccessful, Sean D'Souza from states that "most of the reasons have the same common problem-readers just don't like it."

Here are four possible mistakes that you are making with your email newsletter:
  • Too much self-promotion. Readers sign up for newsletters expecting to receive ideas on topics they are interested in. They want to be informed with something fresh, something trendy-but if they receive a whole bunch of promotional stuff, you'll lose them. If you push and promote your product or service via email newsletter, you better have a compelling, one-time offer because it is most likely the last time they will read it. Delete!

  • You're boring. Sorry. If you have something of interest to say about your industry or about your market, say it with vigor and energy, and stick to your voice from newsletter to newsletter. Make sure your personality and your tone shines through. Simply stating facts and figures with the hopes of being compelling is not going to cut it. If you believe that your content is hot and relevant, then don't be bashful about it.

  • Too much mind-numbing data. Tell stories and make it real. Many think their newsletter has to be a structured article with facts and figures; however, most of us personally relate to stories and experiences. We enjoy learning through others and their experiences, and we engage because we want to relate. Be open to informing your reader about what you've discovered or experienced, and elicit a response. You may be surprised.

  • Your call to action is not (a call to action). Most believe that customers will simply know what to do to respond-but usually they don't. This is simple-if you want your customer to respond, ask them to! However, make sure your call to action is clear and obvious. Should they click a link? Hit reply? Pick up the phone? Be specific in how you want them to respond.

    For example, if you think this article is helpful and useful, click reply and respond with "BRILLIANT!" (Was my call to action compelling enough? At least it was clear.)
If you feel you are missing the mark, assess your current email campaign or newsletter. Successful email newsletters require a solid strategy and a manageable plan for implementation. Some organizations like to manage their newsletter internally, while others prefer to find an outside partner. At Creatis, we see a growing number of customers reallocating resources to email marketing, and newsletters tend to be a popular way to stay in front of customers with a relevant message.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Are you measuring marketing effectiveness?"

Marketing--more science than art.

"Half my advertising is wasted; I just don't know which half." - Joseph Wanamaker

If you haven't noticed, marketing is swiftly transforming through the technical advancements in communication mediums. Measurement is continuing to make a major impact in how marketers affirm success, or admit failure. Additionally, marketing departments have been squeezed to defend budgets and establish clarity as to what value they bring to the company--and measurement holds the key to some of the answers to these challenges.

Mark Carr, partner at CMG Partners states in a recent Marketing Management article, "Advancements in measurement techniques, CRM, database systems and marketing analytics, not to mention the advent of the Internet and all of its tracking capabilities--have dramatically improved the ability to measure marketing effectiveness or ROI." All the answers are in the detail, but the volume of information can be overwhelming and cumbersome. So we ask ourselves: what is a marketer to do?

Here are steps marketers are taking to advance with the times, and measure their worth:
  • New media tools--tracking your efforts!
    Marketers are reassessing what marketing vehicles they focus their budgets on, and the tools that provide tracking capabilities and marketing analytics are gaining attention.
  • Alignment--top to bottom!
    Marketers are aligning marketing activities to the overall business objectives of their company. Mapping strategic objectives down to key marketing performance measures will link marketing activities with business success indicators.
  • Alignment--side-to-side! Marketers are aligning performance measurements and results with other functions of the company, including finance, operations, new product development, sales and, of course, customer service.
  • Partner up--and take action!
    Marketers are partnering with outside marketing specialists to gain deeper insights into their existing data and results. The goal is to distill and synthesize the information, so marketing activities can be adjusted and budgets reallocated as necessary. As companies partner with outside specialists, they acquire the necessary skills and strategies for enhancing their future marketing strategies.
 As measurement continues to develop as a key component of marketing, companies will continue to enhance and integrate the results with all functions of the business. Companies that measure and adjust to the market will be more responsive and flex to the needs of their customers. As you measure your efforts and state your worth, consider alternative solutions and outside specialists to help you gain knowledge and maintain flexibility.

"Great wisdom not applied to action and behavior is meaningless data." - Peter Drucker