Business Call

5 Ways to Make Your WFH Videos Great

We’re all experts at working from home now. We’ve Zoomed until the cows came home… and sometimes they came home in the background of our Zoom calls. We should all be experts at making our videos and calls GREAT by now, right? Wrong.

Great video calls

There are still many mistakes being made – some because we just don’t care anymore because 2021 is almost as long as 2020 already, but some we were never that good in the first place. It’s not too late – because video calls are here to stay for-EVAH.

Here’s my five step guide to making you look the best you can, without forking out a fortune in Hollywood-studio-grade gear.

Not all lights are created equal

I’m pretty sure shares in ring lights went as sky high as Peloton bikes this past year – but let’s just be clear, while a ring light can offer Instagram-filter-esque balanced glows to many of us, they aren’t a fit for everyone.

If you wear glasses in particular, ring lights can sometimes have the horrific effect of making you look like a mad owl, reflecting those circles into your lenses, sometimes positioned right around your irises,

Ring lights for great video calls

and completely detracting from anything smart you want to say. The results of a pre-SuperBowl press conference on Andy Reid’s glasses are a perfect example, and memes about him started trending almost immediately.

If you’ve already invested in a ring light and you wear glasses, to prevent a similar issue, you need to put the light up higher than your face – so it’s not shining directly at you – and then angle it down slightly. You can also adjust the brightness on some lights, so play around with that, and make it a softer, less blue light.

The go-to should still be good old-fashioned natural light wherever possible – putting your computer or camera between you and your natural light source. Ideally, avoid direct, bright sunlight – if the sun is out and offers you any more than a full-face, balanced soft light, using sheer curtains can filter that nasty blinding-light, and diffuse the rays so you look glowy, and the way nature intended.

Do You Want Chins With That Face?

It’s a fairly well-known fact that we should never have photos taken from below our eye-line, and the same goes for video. If your work-from-home desk setup is normal, your computer is likely well below your eye-line.

For video calls, put your computer on some books and get the camera lined up as close to your eye-line as possible. Even better, if you have a stand-up desk, crank it a bit higher than your eye-line. A camera shooting down rather than up, will banish extra chins and will make your head into more of an inverted triangle shape, which is more appealing than it sounds.

As well, make sure you know where the camera is on your device! This couldn’t be more ‘page one’, but it’s incredible how many people are still looking at the person they’re talking to on their screen, rather than the camera. This is fine and not super noticeable on a video call, but for a TV interview, your face will be magnified, and where you’re looking becomes more apparent.

How You Sound Is Just As Important As How You Look

Terrible quality audio will probably be the worst legacy of all the videos created during lockdown. You can obviously hear yourself in your room perfectly well – but honestly MOST of the videos and calls I’ve been on this past year, and many of the videos and podcasts I have listened to, have had awful telephone-quality audio, which can be caused by a number of issues.

Firstly – your microphone. You might have a really great computer, but that doesn’t mean the microphone is equally fantastic. Use an external mic wherever possible – and this might be one that is built into your headphones. You will need decent headphones though, so invest in something decent if you’re doing this a lot. Know that anything nearer your mouth will be better than a further-away computer mic that picks up all the sounds around you.

As well, your wifi is going to be really important when it comes to the audio quality. Of course we only really think about the wifi quality when we can’t SEE people due to technical issues, but it can also really affect the sound without us realizing, because – see above – we can’t hear what we sound like to other people. For live calls, it’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world, but if you’re making videos that you want to last longer, invest in some audio gear that will enhance the quality of your voice.

Background Check

There’s a lot been said about the backgrounds we’ve all had to show to our co-workers this year, and if your video is going to be seen by a wider audience, there’s the danger that something you’ve left lurking on a shelf could lead to a swift cancellation of your career.

Be aware of what’s behind you, test out your video beforehand by setting the camera to selfie or video mode, and then move ANYTHING that could detract from – or worse, become the focus of – your on-camera performance.

Not a great video call

Now, I’m not Keith Baldrey’s boss at Global BC. But if I were, then my first order of business would be permanently clearing off the shelves of books he’s untidily promoting during a global pandemic. Sure, we’ve all been straining to see what’s in the living rooms of our favourite celebrities for more than a year now – but it can look messy (especially if the books are falling over like in this photo), and cheap.

Be aware that your background can become more interesting than you, and know that your face, and what you are saying, competes with every single thing around you. Check your background before you click the Zoom link.

 

Oh – and number five – don’t forget to smile!

Have questions about marketing or communications? Schedule a quick call with us today!

Newspapers

How a Newsroom Works, and How to Get Their Attention

Newsrooms the world over seem to change week to week. Not only are there fewer and fewer people working in them, but there are less of them in general, thanks to a drop in consumption of traditional media formats.

This means it can be difficult to get organic coverage of your business or your story in a newsroom where resources are scarce, and where timelines are ALL the time (rather than working to the older deadlines of broadcast and print) as reporters file stories and updates online and via social media, and where assignment editors are having to incentivise teams to cover more each day than the one-story-per-reporter-per-day of old.

Newsroom Works

How does a newsroom work, anyway?

Here’s how things generally work in newsrooms though, regardless of the sands of time stripping out elements such as morning meetings, midday check-ins, and filing to deadline.

Many newsrooms have two areas of focus – the day-of news, which is exactly what it sounds like; and feature items, which usually take longer to cultivate and have a timeless element when it comes to when they run. Unfortunately most PR pitches are feature items which are, nowadays, at the mercy of the day-of news resources. This means a pitch you’ve been working on for weeks or sometimes longer, can be cancelled or postponed at a moment’s notice because a big day-of story happened, and all the newsroom resources were reassigned to cover it.

One example of that is a pitch Curve worked on a couple of years back, where we had a specific week we had scheduled the CEO of a busy new cannabis business to be available for media interviews. We had several of them lined up, plus we were going to do week-of and day-of repeat pitching just to make sure we had any last-minute reporter or camera availability sewn up.

Our pitch week turned out to be the same week as a horrible news story where two teens from Vancouver Island went on a terrible shooting spree, which then turned into a cross-Canada manhunt. Understandably, all the newsrooms in the country were suddenly focused on this huge story, as the search for the two continued. Also understandably, our booked segments and interviews were mostly cancelled.

You can’t help what happens in the world of news, and that’s why we always tell our clients that PR is the coverage you pray for, and advertising is the coverage you pay for. You can have every single media outlet in the world lined up for an interview, but if there’s a big news story that week, you can end up losing every one of them.

So how do I get my story to the newsroom?

For the most part, newsrooms will connect with their assignment desk in the morning – whether that’s for a full online or in-person meeting, or more usually nowadays, reporters are individually assigned a story remotely and they either work from home, or they meet a camera at an interview location.

1) Find a specific person to contact

Reporters, producers and assignment teams do get to pitch story ideas to their editors – and if you have a specific day you want a story to go out (say for example a press conference or the day something is opening or launching), the best thing to do is to find a specific person who has covered that type of story before at their outlet, and reach out directly to them with lots of lead time.

They will always tell you they’ll try their best, and that they can’t guarantee anything if news happens, but at least if you’ve connected with them personally, it’s harder for them to say no, and it gives you a chance to repitch it on a day when nothing is happening.

2) Be flexible with your schedule

A better idea is to give a reporter a range of days when you are available, so it gives them more options if something happens on one of those days. In the case of the Canada-wide manhunt, it lasted the entire time the CEO was available. Luckily he was very understanding about the difficult situation, and he was pleased we were still able to get him an interview on a national radio show.

Probably the best option of all is to work one-on-one with a reporter for a “timeless” story for which you are able to be interviewed at any time, and which can run at any time, giving the reporter flexibility when it comes to setting something up.

The downside is that you can’t offer the pitch to multiple news outlets, as some don’t like to run a story if their rival has already done it; plus you never really have a “launch” date that coincides with the piece running. If that isn’t a big deal, then this is the ideal scenario.

3) Make your story as compelling as possible

If you do have a story that MUST run on a certain date, you have to make it as compelling as possible to ensure as much day-of coverage as you can. Think of your story as that big day-of news event. What is the absolute number one thing people need to know about it?

If you’ve heard the expression “burying the lead,” this is where it comes from. You DON’T want to hide the main point of the story when you’re pitching it – so make sure your press release, or your call to the newsroom, or your direct email or social media pitch to the reporter gives ALL the details, in as FEW words as possible, in the FIRST sentence. Reporters are busy – they won’t read past that first line – I guarantee it – so you have to make every word count.

If your first pitch didn’t stick, it’s worth following up just to check they got the email and that it didn’t get caught in their spam. But make it friendly and quick – don’t become a thorn in their side. You don’t want to be “that person” who is constantly bothering the writers or editors, because if you are, they will ignore all future pitches.

Also, don’t call every phone extension in the newsroom to make your pitch, one call after the other. Those phones are likely all within a 10 metre radius, and they will know what you’re doing, and OOPS, you become “that person” again.

One final thing when it comes to newsrooms in 2021 – and it’s actually a depressing one: check social media before you pitch, just to make sure the person or the outlet you are looking to reach out to is still there, that there haven’t just been layoffs, and that they are still doing local news.

It’s a really sad thing to say, but it happens so often these days, that being aware of what an outlet may be going through… or may have just been through, is just respectful, polite and shows you care. If bad stuff has happened, don’t pitch. If everything is fine, pitch away – because tomorrow or next week, more changes may be on the way.

If you want to chat more about PR, and how to navigate a newsroom, head over to our contact page. We’re happy to chat.

Have a drink, just relax

How To Manage Your Marketing Agency While Homeschooling in the Next Pandemic: A Non-Definitive Guide

Marketing, Parenting, and Pandemics

Amongst all the sourdoughing, online yoga and Zoom calls, all the “omg it’s soooo rewarding to spend this time with my family,” and the “let’s use lockdown to appreciate the relationships we have, the people we love, etc. so that hugs will be so much more meaningful in the future”s of 2020, I honestly can’t remember much about anything from March of last year to today. That is, aside from trying to homeschool while at the same time trying to pivot to help our clients (and ourselves) survive whatever fresh hell this has been, and of course pouring myself a large bowl of wine at 5:01pm – sleep and repeat…

There may well have been a pandemic in 1918, but I don’t remember the book those poor souls wrote on running a marketing company during a global shutdown, so that’s why I’m here now. Depending on which news outlet you believe these days, the next pandemic could be next Tuesday, or in another hundred years. In case it’s sooner than later, I thought I would write a handy future best-selling guide on How To Manage Your Marketing Agency While Homeschooling in the Next Pandemic.

Have a drink, just relax

1) You are a parent, not a teacher

Recognize that you did not choose to go into teaching for every single reason that properly-trained and educated teachers DO go into teaching. You do NOT have a general awareness of all (any) topics, nor a desire to teach said topics to young minds who may or may not be interested in them.

Furthermore, you are not capable of imparting correct information without Googling it first (and the right answer isn’t always on the first link you see – hey – that’s a little something I learned from marketing!) Oh – and you don’t really like other people’s kids. While many found, during “The Great Pandemic of 2020-to-what-feels-like-2099,” that they developed a new appreciation for all teachers, I also developed a new appreciation for the fact that I am not one.

2) Learn to balance marketing plans and child management

You will find that you can flush 12 months of marketing planning down the toilet with one hand, whilst simultaneously creating multiple new plans from scratch in minutes, not months, for a variety of clients who are having to switch their entire business models to online, e-commerce, delivery, etc. etc. – but you CANNOT teach a child to get their own glass of #$*!@! water so they don’t dehydrate and pass out in the next eight minutes – nope, you are gonna have to do that shit yourself.

3) Best laid plans are nothing to the harshest critics

Planning Board

Prepare for the fact that your beautiful Google sheets, Excel docs and wall charts (or whatever virtual, airborne system of witchcraft you now use to plot the future), long the envy of co-workers as a means to plan, document, and keep track of myriad campaigns, ensuring delivery is on time and on budget (and most importantly so that you see when anyone has a fun holiday coming up), will be viewed with utter disdain by your offspring when created in the form of a lesson plan.

They will scoff at your efforts in the same way a restaurant critic would react to an old cheese sandwich only fit to file your nails with, and they will walk away as you beg them to take a look… just one tiny look… because you worked so hard… you even got a pointy stick…

4) Wear all the hats, spin all the plates

As you juggle your clients with the skills of a plate spinner trying to set a plate spinning world record, while at the same time – in true marketing style – not letting any of the plates know that there are other plates, it’s perfectly acceptable to feed your child a bowl of dry Froot Loops for lunch.

5) Time management, don’t let time manage you

Regular school may end at 3pm, but homeschool ends whenever you goddamn say it ends.


 

The point is this – and it’s something we as marketers are guilty of (because if we can’t PR ourselves, who can we PR for?) – sometimes it’s all too much.

If we’ve learned anything in the past 12 months (apart from the fact that pandemics spawn a bafflingly large appreciation for words like “unprecedented,” “together,” and “now more than ever” FFS), it’s that memes telling us to be kind to ourselves, to go for a walk, to appreciate the good things, aren’t realistic when you are a business owner dealing with uncharted waters for yourself and all those you represent.

Amongst all the online advice on how to homeschool, and the (sometimes laughable) social media triteness to not sweat the small stuff, this is the post I’ve found the most relatable and realistic, and I hope that THIS is the message that survives above all else, and is shared by Marketing Moms in the next pandemic and beyond:

Parents: what we are being asked to do is not humanly possible.
There is a reason we are either a working parent, a stay-at-home parent,
or a part-time working parent.
Working, parenting and teaching are three different jobs that cannot be done at the same time.
It’s not hard because you are doing it wrong. It’s hard because it’s too much.
Do the best you can.
When you have to pick – because at some point you will – choose connection.
Pick playing a game over arguing about an academic assignment.
Pick teaching your child to do laundry rather than feeling frustrated that they aren’t helping. Pick laughing and snuggling, and reminding them that they are safe.
If you are stressed, lower your expectations where you can,
and virtually reach out for social connection.
We are in this together to stay well. That means mentally well, too.
– Emily W. King, Ph.D.

Marketing Audit and Why Do You Need One

What Is a Marketing Audit – and Why Do You Need One?

You’ve heard the term “marketing audit” float around before, but what is it? And do you really need one, or is it just another unnecessary paid service?

Well, let’s start by explaining the concept of a marketing audit.

Professional marketing audits involve a comprehensive analysis of your brand’s marketing environment, both within the company and outside. Experts thoroughly examine your goals and strategies to figure out where you’re succeeding, where you could do better, and where your best opportunities lie.

Do you really need one? The resounding answer from any marketing guru is yes.

Audits give you the opportunity to adjust your marketing course, and therefore draw in more revenue and consumer attention.

In recent years, a whopping 89 percent of marketers ranked “improving the ability to measure and analyze their marketing impact” as a top priority. The best way to do that? Conduct a high-level audit – or have a professional do it for you.

One marketing audit every once in a blue moon isn’t going to cut it, though. Let’s take a deeper dive into the ins and outs of professional marketing audits to understand why. We’ll talk about how they continuously help your brand improve and grow.

If we’ve done our job right, by the end of this post, you’ll be scheduling your next audit for the benefit of your marketing efforts – and overall business.

A. Understanding the Importance of Marketing Audits

Before we go any deeper, we want to talk a little bit more about the sheer necessity of strong audits.

Over the course of months and years, your marketing campaigns change – whether you intend for them to or not. Conducting an audit draws you back to your central course of action so you can readjust campaigns accordingly. Without an audit, you’ll struggle to stick to your measurable goals – and you might not even realize when you’ve lost sight of your main objectives.

If you don’t already have goals in place, a marketing audit will force you to set some. We know it’s easy to get lost in the big picture of your overall business dreams. However, it’s essential that you outline your specific marketing goals so that you understand exactly how they play into this bigger picture.

During a marketing audit, you won’t just look at your goals. You’ll also weed out unsuccessful tactics, gather powerful information, and learn to make better judgment calls in the future.

Here at Curve Communications, we begin each of our marketing audits with a three to four-hour discovery session. This gives us the opportunity to reveal just how influential an audit can be. We’ll get to know the nitty-gritty details of your brand, then proceed with a targeted plan for marketing analysis and adjustment.

B.Explore Your Promotional Environment

One of the biggest benefits of a marketing audit is its focus on your promotional environment. Your marketing “environment” is the field in which your advertising (inbound and outbound) efforts play. It includes your target demographics, local economics, politics, social changes, and so much more.

If you want your marketing efforts to strike hard, you need to understand the field you and your competitors are facing. Up to 61 percent of marketers state that their top challenge is generating traffic and leads. The more you understand your landscape via an audit, the easier it will be to enact marketing that works.

C. Get an Outsider’s Point of View

Wondering if a self-audit would suffice? In some cases, maybe, but there’s an enormous benefit to gaining an objective point of view on your marketing tactics.

An effective auditor should have:

An auditor within your company will likely struggle to stay entirely objective. They’ll understand the reasons and first-hand efforts behind your current marketing strategies, which will make it difficult for them to detach themselves and really find your weaknesses.

If you want to learn from an audit, we suggest hiring an agency that specializes in the process. They’ll be more prepared (and experienced) for rooting out your problems while identifying your strengths.

D. Re-Evaluate Your Marketing Organization

A marketing audit doesn’t just look at your overall results. It forces you to examine your company’s current structure, advertising policies, and management style.

Your marketing success starts from within. If there is a weakness in your marketing team’s organization, then your outward efforts won’t reap the rewards you’re seeking. A professional audit will help you gain insight into your core system.

During an audit, you’ll learn how to:

Think about it this way: if you’re trying to sell a house, you don’t just fix up its curbside appeal but leave the inside messy and outdated. A great marketing audit will help you clean inside and out, improving the value of the entire system.

E. Different Kinds of Marketing Audits

One last thing: we need to talk about the different types of marketing audits out there. It’s important to understand how these each help your business and how each kind will serve your efforts.

1. Macro Environment Audits

The word “macro” means “large-scale.” Therefore, a macro environment audit takes a look at all of the big-picture and external factors that influence your marketing. These include (but are not limited to):

Analyzing these big-picture concepts ensures that your marketing messages aren’t tone-deaf, offensive, or off-putting. To advertise to the fish, you need to take a swim in the surrounding ocean and understand the current layout – and a macro environment audit helps you do that.

2. Micro Environment Audits

Micro refers to “small-scale” concepts, so a micro-environment audit takes a look at internal factors impacting your marketing success. These include:

As we said before, a marketing team that’s inefficient will struggle to craft an effective marketing strategy. It’s just as important to analyze what’s within as what’s outside.

3. Strategy Audits

Finally, a “marketing strategy” audit focuses on the totality of your current visions and goals. Professional auditors will help you understand if your current marketing process aligns with what your business truly wants/needs. If it doesn’t, the audit will point out where you can better match your strategy to your goals.

Only about 58 percent of marketers say they “often” succeed in achieving their marketing goals. Increase your chances of doing so by understanding where your strategy is compatible/incompatible with your objectives.

F. The General Audit Process

Now that we’ve given you an overview of marketing audits, let us explain how the process typically works. Keep in mind, the process looks a little different for each company. These are the general steps you can expect. 

Step 1: Pick Your Auditor

As we said before, you could conduct a self-audit. However, outside audits are generally considered more reliable due to their specificity and objectivity. If you really want to know where your problems lie, you need an outsider to point them out.

As you choose your auditor/marketing consultant, question their experience. Do they have the skills needed to provide excellent recommendations? How many audits have they conducted before?

Step 2: Set a Date

After you’ve found your auditor, talk about your timeline. When do you want your marketing audit to start? Are you planning one audit now, or are you scheduling multiple for the year to come?

Our professional recommendation is to make plans for regular audits – not just one big check-up. This ensures that you’re frequently adjusting your plans for the best results. It doesn’t matter how great your marketing team is – things change, and your marketing strategy needs to change with them.

Step 3: Determine Your Goals

Next, think about why you’re conducting an audit. What do you want to learn? What will you examine? What improvements do you hope to make?

It doesn’t matter if you’re conducting a self-audit or hiring a company to do it. Clarifying your objectives early on will ensure you’re following the right audit process.

Step 4: Make a Plan

Even if you’re working with a talented team, it’s a good idea to go over your audit plan before you start. Work together to identify your:

Step 5: Gather Your Data

Finally, it’s time for the big job: gathering the data. This is what you hire an outsider to do, efficiently and objectively. It’s a tedious, but crucial, aspect of any audit.

A professional auditor will gather data by reviewing your:

To gather some of this data, the auditor will need to ask questions from your employees and other team members. Information is often gathered via surveys, questionnaires, or even interviews.

Once all of the important data has been gathered, the auditor will prepare it for analysis.

Step 6: Analyze That Data

Although gathering data might be the hard part, analyzing data is the crucial part of any audit. This is the step in which you learn what you’re doing right, as well as what you could do better.

Using their own tried-and-true methods, an external auditor will analyze for:

Step 7: Study the Environment

Before providing recommendations based on the data collected, the auditor will also study the environment in which your team is marketing. As we discussed before, your “promotional environment” includes political, economic, and social factors that could influence your marketing capabilities.

Step 8: Recommendations

Finally, your auditor will deliver their findings, as well as their recommendations for a more successful marketing future. This is your chance to learn from the audit. Understand what your priorities should be and how you can address weak points within your strategy and team. 

G. After the Audit

The marketing team’s work doesn’t stop after the recommendations have been delivered. You’ll likely want to bring the rest of the company into the loop by sharing the audit’s results. Find company-wide strategies for boosting marketing efficacy and bringing in more sales. 

Conclusion

Marketing breathes life into your business. It’s the element that keeps customers coming and your business on track. When your marketing is unhealthy, so is the rest of your brand – which is why a regular audit is so incredibly essential. Think of it as your business’s annual – or bi-annual – checkup.

At Curve Communications, we provide full-fledged discovery sessions and marketing audits to help you grow your business. We’ll take care of the heavy lifting – like analyzing your inbound and outbound marketing efforts, as well as campaign conception and planning evaluation.

Let’s find out where your marketing strengths and weaknesses lie. Call 604-245-7213 or reach out online to begin your Curve discovery process today.

How to Generate More Leads for Your Local Business

How to Generate More Leads for Your Local Business

Struggling to pull in nearby prospects? Local lead generation is an art – and one that requires plenty of practice. We’ve got some tips and tricks up our sleeves that will help you quickly generate more leads for your local business.

Effective, localized digital marketing gets your brand in touch with the right people. These tactics will help you push your products and services into the local market, as well as establish a strong presence in your area.

Without further ado, here are six excellent local lead generation strategies to employ.

1. Local SEO

We’ll start with the most obvious tactic: improving your SEO to better reach locals.

“Local SEO” involves optimizing your online presence to gain traction within your community. Your goal is to appear on Google and other search engines in localized searches, and proper SEO strategies can help you do that.

We could spend the rest of this article talking about local SEO tactics, but for the sake of brevity, we’ve narrowed down the basics you need to focus on for local lead generation.

A. Keyword Research

First things first: you’ve got to use the right words, and that starts with keyword research.

Don’t fret – your primary keywords are actually quite easy to discover. Just think about what people would search on Google to find a business like yours. Say you’re a hairdresser.  You know people will search with phrases like:

Take these phrases and you’ve got some strong local keywords, to begin with. Then, you can find more keywords to use by looking at Google’s “suggested” searches – or a keyword research tool of your choice. We recommend Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest – it’s free.

What similar terms or phrases are searchers using to find businesses in your industry?

B. Google Maps

Secondly, and arguably most importantly, you’ll need to ensure your business is popping up on Google Maps. No one is going to visit your in-person store or understand how close you are if your location is inaccurate.

You’ve likely already noticed how local searches work on Google Maps, just in your own time. You want your business to appear right next to all of your local competitors – with the right information listed.

Roughly 46 percent of Google searches are for local businesses. Don’t miss out on these motivated searchers because your address is listed incorrectly or you don’t appear on the map.

C. GMB Listing

Speaking of having the right information listed, it’s essential that you create a free Google My Business listing. Local lead generation is only possible when people can find your basic information, such as:

Image Source: Google Support

Additionally, creating a GMB account ensures that you’re more likely to wind up in the top three results on any Google search. This significantly increases your odds of drawing in local customers on a regular basis. At the same time, you’ll benefit from Google updates and opportunities, including its newest addition, “call history.”

In the United States, select businesses can opt-in for this new feature and use call-forwarding to better track their potential leads. Users will be able to see a full list of who has used Google to call them, when the calls came in, and what their numbers were.

2. Google’s Local Service Ads

Next, we’ll talk about a more targeted approach to local lead generation.

Image Source: Google Ads

Local service ads aren’t just paid ads. They’re an indication that Google trusts your business. Searchers notice that green checkmark beside the ad, indicating the “Google Guarantee.” You need your local searchers to trust your brand, and a thumbs up from Google is a good way to start.

Additionally, local service ads allow you to include past customers’ ratings and reviews. This is another way to impress customers and earn their trust, just with a simple ad.

Another benefit is that local service ads on Google can be optimized for voice search. Considering that 20 percent of all searches are now voice-based, this is a huge incentive.

3. Localized Content

Third on our list of local lead generation strategies is local content production. Ads and SEO are important, but you also need a big magnet that will really attract tons of users directly to your website.

We’re talking about creating a piece of content (or multiple pieces) that directly relate to your area and product/service. For example, this Texas Charter Bus Company created an excellent magnet piece about planning the ultimate road trip in their state.

To get your creative juices flowing, here are a few prompts that will give you some magnet piece ideas.

Remember: These don’t just have to be blog posts. You can also create lead magnet local pieces in the form of emails, webinars, eBooks, and more. The format of these lead magnets is entirely up to you; they could be webinars, email-gated videos, or simply .pdf eBooks.

4. Localized Ads

We already talked about using Google Local Service ads for local lead generation, but now we need to cover localized ads that aren’t necessarily done through search engines.

You’ve heard the term “location, location, location” used in real estate pitches, but the same goes for winning customers as a local business. You need to reach people at just the right time to snag their interest. That’s where “geo-marketing” advertising comes into play.

Image Source: App Samurai

How much more likely are you to purchase a coffee at Starbucks when you receive a notification like that? If you’re like most consumers, you’ll head directly to the shop on your way to your final destination.

This is a prime example of effective geo-marketing. Your goal, as a brand, is to influence the purchasing or service decisions of people nearby with highly localized, well-timed ads.

5. Landing Pages

Have you thought about what role your landing pages play in local lead generation? Using the right images, phrases, and calls-to-action are crucial in turning interest into revenue.

Image Source: Airbnb

Try to incorporate as many localized elements as possible on your landing page. If you service many different areas, consider creating multiple landing pages to target each location. Airbnb and other travel sites have done an excellent job of this, so turn to them if you need some examples.

As we talked about in the SEO point, it’s important to include strong local language. Use the right keywords such as “Things to Do in X” or “Expert Tax Filing Services in X.” The more personalization and localization you put into your landing page, the better luck you’ll have with local lead generation.

6. Popups

Last but not least, let’s talk about pop-up ads. Although many site visitors complain about the intrusiveness of this advertising strategy, popups can still be extremely effective in certain circumstances.

When used correctly, pop-up ads convert quickly and immediately draw attention. By using a highly enticing, local message in the ad, you can grab the attention of local shoppers instantly.

Image Source: Kate Spade

To offset the annoying qualities of popups, try to include something for the visitor in the message. Give them 10% off their next order if they provide an email address or direct them to a page specially designed for viewers like them.

Local lead generation is about getting your brand in front of the right eyes at the right time. Sometimes, that calls for an add that literally pops up in a shopper’s face.

Conclusion

Using these local lead generation tips will revolutionize the way you draw in nearby consumers. Instead of waiting around for local searchers to find you, it’s time for you to hunt down the ideal local candidates via smart marketing, Google Ads, SEO, and more.

Ready to ramp up your brand image and draw in more local leads?

Reach out to Curve communications today. Call 604-245-7213 or send us a message online today.

5-key-reasons-best-featured-img

5 Key Reasons Why SMBs Should Hire a Marketing Agency

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face a lot of challenges against larger corporations. SMBs often have fewer resources and smaller budgets – making it seem nearly impossible to compete against big name brands. The best way SMBs can get a leg up against their competitors is to hire a marketing agency to develop, implement, and monitor their promotional strategies.

Fortunately, we live in a time where innovative tactics can trump a massive budget – and that’s exactly what marketing agencies are there for.

Now, when small business owners hear this, they immediately think of their pocketbook. Hiring a marketing agency seems like a big financial risk, particularly for business owners working on a shoestring budget.

But the fact is that many SMBs are wasting a lot of time and money by trying to take on the task of marketing themselves. Investing the money with an agency is a better choice for numerous reasons.

Now, before we dive into the details of why it’s smart to hire a marketing agency, let’s talk about the biggest marketing challenges SMBs are faced with.

Marketing Challenges for SMBs

First and foremost, small business owners need to understand and accept the reasons why their marketing strategies might be failing. Small business owners have a lot going on and usually cannot dedicate much of their time solely to strategizing and managing marketing plans.

Generally speaking, here are some of the biggest challenges SMBs face:

The reality is that many SMBs simply struggle to make marketing strategies work. Take a look at some of the statistics from a recent survey published by Fundera:

The fact is that digital marketing is essential for reaching customers these days, especially since the vast majority of initial interactions will happen online. This same report also found that 81% of shoppers will go online to research a product or company before buying. If your SMB does not have information published online or people cannot find you, chances are high that you will lose that customer to a competitor.

The same Fundera survey concluded that SMBs who actively utilized digital marketing strategies – like social media and email marketing – were far more successful. When brands engage with consumers through social media marketing, customers spend up to 40% more on average with each purchase.

The best solution to the challenges that so many SMBs face is to hire a marketing agency that can manage these tasks completely. This allows business owners to focus on other important aspects of running their company.

Now, let’s shift gears into the main reasons why partnering with a marketing agency is the right decision.

1. Concentrated Focus on Leads and Visibility

As previously mentioned, one of the greatest challenges many SMBs face with marketing is a lack of leads and poor visibility.

Finding leads can seem like searching for a needle in a haystack when you don’t know the strategies to do it correctly. Furthermore, most consumers will be unfamiliar with smaller brand names. This means that SMBs face an uphill battle when it comes to establishing visibility, familiarity, and trust with prospects.

Gaining visibility and building strategies for funneling in new leads is the core focus for every marketing agency. These two approaches lay the foundation to build a successful marketing strategy upon.

The key to increasing visibility and lead generation is to diversify the marketing mix to reach different customer bases. But each channel needs to be optimized depending on the customer segment or intention.

This is an extremely overwhelming task for SMBs to do, since it generally involves a lot of content creation, planning, and monitoring. On the surface level, this is why it is best to hire a marketing agency to execute the plan.

2. You Have True Experts on Your Side

Marketing agencies pride themselves on only hiring the best employees – who typically have a wide range of experience with different industries. Marketing agencies can connect you with marketers who specialize in specific areas, whether it be your company’s industry or a certain strategy.

Of course, SMBs can hire an in-house marketer or even a small team of their own. While these marketers may be smart and talented, you will generally be able to access more experienced marketers through an agency at a cheaper rate. As an SMB, you may not be able to attract (or afford) such high-level marketers to work in-house, but you can hire them through an agency.

Full-service agencies have experts that specialize in both inbound and outbound marketing – both of which are equally important for SMB growth. Outbound marketing deals with reaching out to find new leads with strategies like media buying or direct-mail campaigns. Inbound marketing is designed to attract customers that are looking for your services or products already through concepts like SEO and content marketing.

Again, these tasks can be tricky for SMB owners who have little experience with marketing. For marketing agencies, this is often their bread and butter.

Their marketers know the importance of establishing branding for small businesses – they generally have years of experience with helping other companies do so. When you hire a marketing agency, you gain access to experts that know for a fact which strategies will work best for your brand.

3. It is More Cost-Effective

Small business owners know that hiring new employees can be a very expensive process – and not just because of the added salary to the payroll. It costs companies an average of $4,129 to hire a new team member, due to costs in recruiting, onboarding, and training.

Now, partnering with a marketing agency is not necessarily cheap – and you do get what you pay for. Many agencies offer varying pricing structures so SMBs can get the help they need without going over their budgets.

Generally, marketing agencies will offer one or more of the following pricing structure options:

Marketing is a full-time job. Hiring an agency can save a lot of time trying to manage these tasks yourself. Time is money – and by delegating the heavy lifting to an agency, you can dedicate more effort and resources to operating the business.

4. Marketing Agencies Have Proven Knowledge & Track Records

SMB owners are used to taking risks – but when it comes to marketing, you generally want to avoid risks as much as possible. Thankfully, most marketing agencies can often prove their value with case studies from past projects.

Now, it is important to mention that marketing agencies cannot guarantee specific results, such as an exact percentage lift in online traffic or revenue. If an agency makes these kinds of promises, you should probably steer clear as this could be a sign that they will be deceptive of their results to hit their goals.

Honest and trustworthy marketing agencies will have the metrics from past clients to show the value they add to other businesses. This may be metric reports with graphs and analytics from past campaigns – or it could be case studies showing the results of strategies in various industries.

When you hire a marketing agency, they can help support the entire SMB process, including (but not limited to):

To make life easier on yourself, look for a full-service marketing agency. For SMBs, it’s best to have a one-stop shop that can handle all aspects of marketing, including web design, content creation, SEO, PR, email, SMS funnels, lead nurturing, sequences, and more.

5. Marketing Agencies are Partners for Your Success

While every client’s results will vary, the average ROI for marketing strategies is extremely high.

For instance, email marketing has an average return of $40 for every dollar spent. SEO marketing has a $22 return, and mobile marketing’s ROI is around $10.50.

At the end of the day, marketing agencies want to help their clients succeed – and they will do anything to keep you on as a satisfied client. When you hire a marketing agency, it is not an expense; it is an investment that compounds over time.

Remember, most marketing agencies are SMBs themselves. They know the struggles, but they also know how to optimize strategies to grow. They get you. They want to help you so that both companies succeed together.

Conclusion

Digital marketing is not always easy – especially when you run an SMB and already have so many things on your plate. The thing with marketing is that the more you put into it, the more you will get out. Now, not all SMBs have the luxury of being able to afford the time or resources for comprehensive strategies.

Hiring a marketing agency will help you take your business to the next level and grow your brand recognition, audience reach, and, of course, your revenue. They will partner with you to grow your brand and reach those goals you never thought you could accomplish.

If you want to learn more about hiring a digital marketing agency, reach out to our team at Curve Communications.

We are a full-service marketing agency serving both B2B and B2C companies in all aspects of marketing strategies. Give us a call today to speak with one of our agents for a free one-on-one consultation.

Branding

7 Important Factors for Effective Small Business Branding

As a small business, you probably hear the word “branding” thrown around quite a bit. You know it’s important, but what exactly is small business branding?

At Curve, we explain branding as something fairly simple: who your company is, what you represent, and the unique value you offer. However, small business branding isn’t as straightforward as we’d like it to be. There are dozens of aspects to consider, and all of them must work together seamlessly to form a cohesive brand image.

That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the top factors that play a role in your company’s branding.

This article will help you understand who your brand is at its core – and what it showcases to its target consumers.

1. Unique Brand Identity

The first overarching concept to discuss is your brand’s identity. Who are you? How are you conveying your image, goals, and morals to your audience?

When learning how to brand your business, there are many elements that play a part in your unique identity formation.

A. Name

As the old cliché goes, there’s power in a name. The more expressive and inventive your name is, the more your brand instantly stands out from the competition.

Your small business needs a name that reflects the core of the company. Think about your founders, geographical location, and the words most associated with your industry. Don’t be a copycat – make sure that your brand name is noticeably different from those of your competitors.

B. Logo

Image Source: Smashing Magazine

When you hear the brand name Nike, Apple, Facebook, and Pepsi – you can picture their logos instantly.

Your logo is the visual representation of your brand image. Using a strong logo consistently gives your company a recognizable presence.

As you design your logo, ensure that it’s something you’ll be proud to use for many years to come. It should be eye-catching, versatile, and easy to identify. If the logo is difficult to understand, hard to resize, or downright complicated, you’ll have a rough time establishing a unique identity in a memorable, instantly-recognizable manner.  

C. Tagline

Image Source: Ebaqdesign

Many people refer to a tagline as your brand’s “slogan,” and they’re not wrong.

What do the catchiest, most memorable taglines have in common? Well, most are straightforward and hard-hitting. You won’t find many super popular slogans that are more than four, maybe five, words long.

At the same time, your tagline needs to be totally original and encompass a big part of what makes your brand special. Your slogan is arguably as important as your logo – so don’t just slap something boring underneath your name and call it good.  

Even though a tagline is short, developing the perfect string of words to represent your brand takes a lot of critical thinking, time – as well as a fair amount of trial & error.

D. Color Scheme

Image Source: Venngage

If you know anything about art or design, you know that different colors hold different connotations. You also know that there are hundreds of variations of each color – one company’s “red” isn’t always the same as the next’s.

When picking your key brand colors, ensure that they stand out and truly align with your brand’s image. Additionally, pick specific hex colors, not just general shades. You’ll want to keep your brand colors consistent on all platforms, advertisements, and messages.

As you can see, your brand identity isn’t tied to just one element, but to many. At the same time, each of your identification features, from logo to color palette, must work together to present an image that’s recognizable and cohesive.

2. Create a Brand Personality

Another one of our top branding tips for small businesses is to focus on your personality, not just its image.

How is a brand’s personality different from its image? To make it simple, let’s think about “image” as the way your brand looks and “personality” as the way your brand sounds.

Image Source: Box 221

Every brand has a unique voice. Some exude fun excitement – others convey an air of sophisticated competency.

You’ll need to embark on a bit of a self-discovery journey to determine exactly what your brand’s voice and personality sound like. This isn’t always easy, but it’s essential to form a defined brand identity.

To help you start thinking about what your personality might be, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

– What is our overarching brand mission?
– What are the most important concepts and goals for our company?
– What qualities/descriptors match our business or products?
– If our brand were a person, what would they look and sound like?

Another one of our recommended branding strategies is to research your audience’s personalities. Learning what they like and dislike, their motivations, as well as how they communicate will help you establish a much stronger brand personality.

After all, your brand’s attributes should match up well with your target customers. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to make any sort of impact with the right people.

3. Original User-Generated Content (UGC)

On to the next best way to brand your business: gathering free content from your followers and buyers. 

Image Source: Old Navy

You’ve probably seen businesses – big and small – share Instagram pictures, Facebook posts, and reviews from their best customers. This is a fantastic way to boost brand awareness quickly and organically.

User-generated content effectively brands your business as a company that’s credible, real, and liked by actual people. Maximize this content’s power by sharing it on your own social media pages and website. You might even want to consider creating a unique hashtag just for your UGC.

Not only will sharing this content draw in more users, it will also make your current followers feel special as they step into your spotlight for a hot minute.

4. Engaging Content

A monumental part of what makes a small business successful is its content. You’ve heard “content is king” – and we couldn’t agree more.

Image Source: Smart Insights

Consumers nowadays don’t just like content – they expect it. Content creation is a fantastic way to brand your business as an authority within the industry.

As you write, video, share, and promote, remember this: content is most effective when it is highly relevant and evocative. You want to create content that delivers strong messages and gets your customers to act.

As the statistic above indicates, much of the content online is simply clutter. Don’t let irrelevant content cloud your brand message – stick to the stuff that really matters.

5. Social Listening

If this is the first time you’ve ever heard of social listening, pay attention. You’ll quickly realize how essential it is to branding your small business effectively.

Social listening involves tracking your social media platforms and watching for mentions and conversations that reveal what your customers are thinking. This gives you the opportunity to understand your audience on a new level – as well as learn how they view your brand.

Typically, the social listening process involves:

– Monitoring all mentions, from competitors, social accounts, keywords, etc.
– Responding to and understanding reviews from customers (positive and negative)

Image Source: Sprout Social

Keep in mind that social listening isn’t really about how many mentions your brand is getting – that would be “social monitoring”. The concept revolves more around understanding perceptions of your brand, as well as consumer moods and sentiment.

Doing so helps you brand your business in a way that appeals to more customers. You can correct it when a message hits poorly or improve on weaknesses people seem to discuss frequently.

6. Showcase Expertise

Our sixth tactic for learning how to brand your business is fostering your authority.

You want to brand your company as an entity that knows its stuff. Whether you’re advertising products or intangible services, your customers need to understand that you have expertise in your particular field – and are the right person for the job.

How do you cultivate brand expertise? With the following tactics.

A. Blogs

Image Source: Marketing Partners

If you have a company blog, people will read it. They’ll want to learn why they should trust your brand and its products/services – and a blog helps you do that with ease.

Work on publishing regular blog posts that reveal your brand’s level of expertise. Adopt a consistent tone and work toward cultivating a blog library focused on your most important keywords. The goal is to create a resource center that people can turn to for trustworthy advice, information, and direction.

Believe us: this will work wonders for your small business’s brand image.

B. Social Media Posts

Image Source: Oberlo

As you probably know, social media is essential for any company that wants to grow in 2020. Showcase your expertise by tapping into the power of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms.

Remember that your social media marketing campaigns aren’t just created to entertain – they’re supposed to help establish your brand as a credible and relatable company. Interlink all of your social media profiles and consistently publish helpful information to grow your brand.

C. Videos

Image Source: Finances Online

Never made a video for your brand before? Well, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon, because more and more of the internet is now consumed by video media – with no sign of stopping

Consider posting videos to your social media accounts or even creating a YouTube account. This is your chance to present real brand representatives and lively media in a new way.

Host video interviews. Create how-to shows. Answer queries in a live Q&A. Video provides a wide range of opportunities to grow your brand’s respectability – you just need to tap into them.

D. Podcasts

Although they barely existed a decade ago, podcasts are now a part of a booming auditory industry. Reach consumers as they listen in their cars, jog with headphones in, or distract themselves on a plane ride.

Image Source: Nielson

Podcasts are often heralded for their informative attributes. By recording an intelligent discussion that people can listen to, you’re fostering brand credibility.

Consider hosting your podcast with your top employees and invite other experts from your industry. Impressive guests and interesting topics will only boost your perceived expertise amongst followers.

7. Consistency

Image Source: Fresh Sparks

Consistent branding strategies give you something called “brand equity,” AKA the value of your company’s products/services that allow you to charge extra simply because you produced it.

For example, many people are far more likely to buy a YETI cooler over a generic, nonbranded cooler because they know and respect the brand. Therefore, YETI can charge far more for their products than the average cooler company due to their strong brand equity.

If you want people to pay for your products and support your brand over others, consistency is key. Pick a few strong strategies and stick to them, rather than hopscotching all over the place.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has taught you a little bit about how to brand your business effectively, regardless of its size. The more purpose and thought you put into your branding efforts, the stronger your image and personality will become.

Contact us today if you have any questions about branding. We’re more than happy to help with any of the tactics/factors mentioned in this post.