Customer Relationship Management: 4 Ways to Gain a More Authentic View of Your Customer

Marketers often talk about customer relationship management (CRM) as a way to manage and grow their customer portfolio. A primary use of CRM is to measure customer lifetime value (CLV) in order to provide your most profitable and loyal customers the best customer service and loyalty rewards. Customer lifetime value is the prediction of a particular customer’s profitability over a span of time.

However, CRM can be utilized for much more than managing your current customer base. A truly successful CRM strategy considers the customer at each point of the customer decision journey, from awareness of the brand to conversion and loyalty. By taking this approach, sales and marketing can truly align on the view of the individual customer, considering all interactions over time. Passive interactions are those such as simply visiting a website, opening an email or clicking on a pay-per-click ad. Active interactions include purchasing a product or interacting with customer service. Both types can (and should) be tracked in your CRM.

For larger organizations, enabling a single customer view means integrating databases and platforms, such as CRM, marketing automation and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). These integrations can be costly and require significant resources. However, they’re essential due to customers’ increasing expectations that they receive the right message, at the right time, in the right place. Customers will no longer overlook brands’ blunders when it comes to marketing exchanges. For example, your current customers don’t want, nor should they receive, messaging related to products they already own or aren’t interested in.

So how can you deliver an exceptional customer experience with these platforms? Here are four ways:

  1. Use customer preferences to deliver a personalized product or service.
    • With the depth and breadth of available data around individual customers today, you can now provide recommendations on products based on their previous purchases and location. For example, you can display the store closest to their home and serve them ultra-personalized messaging and content.
    • An example of a brand doing this well is Birchbox, the monthly beauty subscription service. Birchbox curates the sample size products in their subscription boxes to best meet their customers’ beauty preferences (e.g., hair type, age, beauty knowledge and other criteria).
  2. Contextualize your customer service interactions.
    • When customer service agents ask for a customer’s name, phone number and other information, they’re searching for any information available in the system. By merging your customer service management and customer relationship management systems, you arm your customer service agents with key customer data including, but not limited to, purchases, preferences and location. Collecting this data makes it much more personalized and relevant to their (and your) needs.
    • For example, Nestlé now has a permanent space within Salesforce’s office in New York, focused on eight of Nestlé’s water brands. A digital command center constantly monitors and manages online and offline data, such as social media activity, email program statistics, media buys, and even a map that shows all U.S. retailers that sell the Nestlé water brands. The ultimate goal is to actively use and effectively respond to customer service questions online and optimize their ongoing marketing programs.
  3. Continually nurture customers.
    • Integrating marketing automation and CRM will enable you to use insights gained during the lead nurturing process to continue to provide value to current customers. By knowing your customer, you can provide content and tools they’re looking for, on the channels they most frequently use. With advanced lead generation, you’re able to ultimately deliver more information than ever before on your prospects and customers’ needs and wants to marketing and other departments as well.
    • For example, ClickDimensions is a marketing automation platform that natively lives within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It enables organizations to track customer interactions with all owned and earned channels. Once those prospects have become customers, companies can use previous activity the customer has taken to cross-sell or upsell them.
  4. Report across the entire customer decision journey.
    • By integrating your new business and current customer databases, your brand will have a much clearer view into each customer’s journey with your brand, including the interactions across channels they took to ultimately reach their purchase decision. Brands can view this data in larger segments and queries, or distill it down to the individual consumer.
    • Data visualization tools, like Microsoft Power BI, allow marketers to develop dashboards with key performance indicators (KPIs) in every stage of the journey, using CRM data and other sources, such as Google Analytics, to garner insights that propel your marketing programs from now to next.

Today, a grand wealth of knowledge is available to meet – and hopefully exceed – customer expectations and make them loyal advocates and champions of your brand. However, a clean and well-managed database is imperative to the success of any technology ecosystem. With processes in place to ensure clean data collection (cleaning lists, rules for data entry and a logically sound CRM database), you can be confident the insights you’re acting upon will increase revenue and customer satisfaction.

A well planned and executed CRM strategy will give you actionable, strategic insights that are invaluable in optimizing your marketing programs and taking your brand to the next level.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Biweekly Bulletin: 5 Compelling Things You Should Know

Every other week, we share 5 timely and valuable articles from our favorite sources that will inspire and educate marketers like you.

Here’s what we’re reading this week:

  1. Once considered only a point-of-purchase and in-store channel, shopper marketing has grown to involve the entire omnichannel experience thanks to advancing technology.
  2. According to an eMarketer study, nearly half of iPhone users who hadn’t tried Apple Pay as of June 2016 said it was because they said they were already happy with their current payment method.
  3. The hottest upcoming book that every brand marketer should read is Brand Admiration: The Exponential Effect of Brand Love, Trust, and Respect. According to the authors, who are renowned marketing researchers, brands that manage to evoke senses of warmth, empathy, and gratitude — psychological attributes generally associated with love — create the strongest connections with people that can generate influential competitive advantages.
  4. “When answers become cheap, good questions become more difficult and therefore more valuable.” In his new nonfiction novel The Inevitable, founding executive editor of Wired Kevin Kelly raises many important questions that will shape the next few decades. Technology is metamorphosizing faster than people can even master it, so it’s more important than ever to master the art of lifelong learning.
  5. Digital entrepreneur Jeff Bullas shares his key steps to awesome content marketing that works, including discovery, payment, engagement and conversion.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Location, Location, Location: Delivering Value Along the Mobile Customer Journey

Pokémon GO. Simply put, it’s a global phenomenon. But it has also spurred discussion among retailers, brands and marketers about how to use the location-aware nature of the game to cash in on its success.

However, many may not have considered why or how to incorporate location-aware mobile marketing efforts into their strategy for long-term success.

The mobile beast is difficult to tame.

By now, marketers recognize that mobile has created a major shift in how people behave, and the resulting opportunities for brands to reach and engage them. Along with the mobile-driven shift in behavior has come a shift in expectations. People increasingly expect their interactions with brands to be personally relevant to their preferences and interests, and also to their immediate needs in the moment.

In a survey by Google and Ipsos, 69% of online consumers answered that the quality, timing or relevance of a company’s message influences their perception of a brand.

Due to the rapidly evolving nature of mobile technology, and its impact on people’s behaviors and expectations, it can be difficult for marketers to keep up with how to best leverage mobile as part of an overarching marketing strategy that delivers a personal and contextually relevant customer experience.

According to a recent study by PointSource, 54% of retailers say their biggest challenge around mobile experience is finding ways to integrate mobile strategy into their overall marketing strategy.

Location-based marketing provides opportunity for brands to create deeper connections with their customers. 

Location-based marketing is the use of location intelligence in mobile marketing to target mobile users within a certain location or geographic area. This might bring to mind in-store beacon technology that allows retailers to ping customers with messaging or offers such as coupons while in store, or location-based app notifications that use geo-fencing.

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely has stated that today’s marketers must “think about the context of their customer on the path to purchase: where they are, what device they’re on, and what their likely mindset is in that given moment.” Location-based marketing creates opportunity for brands and marketers to better reach and engage customers by delivering a personal and contextually relevant experience, both in mobile moments and as part of the overall customer experience.

The following are considerations for brands and marketers to help think about the context of their customer throughout their journey (the phases the customer goes through in their unique relationship with a brand) and incorporate location-based marketing as part of their marketing strategy.

Awareness

Brands of all kinds, and especially those that have physical retail locations, can benefit from using location-based marketing to build awareness of their local presence. This can include paid search and social media ads that leverage data to provide location-relevant messaging.

For the best approach, brands must consider what their target customers are doing on their mobile devices, including what they might be searching for based on their current situation, location and their immediate needs.

Hilton Worldwide used data to target people in airports at times when there were a lot of flight cancellations by proactively increasing its paid search ad buy in those markets and serving ads for nearby Hilton hotels with geo-targeted messaging to people searching things like “Philadelphia airport hotels.”

 Evaluation

Once a prospective customer has moved to the evaluation phase, brands must provide optimized mobile experiences that serve up the contextually relevant information they are seeking in that moment. Websites and landing pages must be mobile-friendly, with quick load times and content that is prioritized by what a customer is looking for in that mobile moment.

Brands can use a customer’s location to help provide the most relevant information and answers that will give them the confidence to quickly make a decision.

GoHealth Urgent Care uses geolocation data on its mobile site to serve up urgent care center listings in order of proximity to the user, along with providing estimated wait times and online check-in. The site also features integrations with Google Maps and Uber to help a user easily figure out how to get to the location.

gohealth-urgent-care

Action

Once customers have made their decision, brands must provide an experience that allows them to easily take action, such as making a purchase, scheduling an appointment or visiting a location. Brands can use location-based marketing to provide a more relevant and convenient experience in this phase.


Best Buy makes it easy for the on-the-go customer to find and purchase a product by using Google local inventory ads to display its current inventory at stores closest to the customer’s location. A customer that searches “slr cameras” will see exactly which SLR cameras are in stock at nearby stores. The ads let the customer choose to buy online, but also feature an option to pick up in store for added convenience.

best-buy-in-store-pickup-mobile

Loyalty/Engagement

Once a brand has acquired a customer, mobile can play a large part of an effective engagement strategy to build the relationship with that customer over time to keep them satisfied and coming back.

A popular way to do this is by creating a brand app. However, with many customers at a point of app fatigue, only a select few apps are actually used on a regular basis. To be successful, a brand app must deliver genuine, long-term value for customers, and location-based marketing can help in providing this value.

In addition to allowing customers to make payments, report claims and view policy info, Security First Insurance’s mobile app allows Florida homeowners to quickly plot their current location against an active storm’s ever-changing path relative to that location using an interactive Storm Tracker. Using social plug-ins, they can also share their map and storm updates with friends and family.

security-first-insurance-storm-trackerOther opportunities for brands to build loyalty using location-based marketing include adding enhanced personalization to engagement communications, such as providing nearest store location or weather-based messaging in email campaigns.

Pokémon GO may be a tipping point that has started many brands and retailers thinking about how to adopt location-aware marketing tactics, but there’s much more they must consider to achieve long-term success.

In a world where customer-brand interactions are increasingly taking place on mobile devices, and in on-the-go moments, location-based marketing will be an important factor for brands to successfully deliver a personal and contextually relevant customer experience. Those brands that can leverage mobile location data to provide value at each stage of their customer’s journey will be best positioned to win.

For more tips, tricks, or insights on how to take your marketing from now to next, subscribe to our newsletter or contact Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS.

I Don’t Love Consumers. Or Users.

A consumption is an event, a one-time happening that is over shortly after it’s begun. There is little remnant of a consumption, and what is left over is disposed of as quickly as possible. A paramecium is a consumer. Users are a cold, heartless breed that manipulate others for their own good with little empathy or regard for long-term consequence.

And yet, in marketing, we often use these terms to refer to those among whom we are trying to make a connection. Consumers and users are a faceless mass – a generalized grouping where we often find ourselves striving to deliver against a least common denominator. As smart marketers, we never purposely dehumanize our target audiences. Until we do.

The quest to understand why people consume and optimize the way that they maneuver through an experience is noble and necessary. But we cannot take a chance on becoming enthralled with the process, and less with the individuals involved in that process. Referring to those individuals simply as consumers or users sets the wrong tone from the outset.

Here are a couple of challenges that I’ll offer to help remind us to keep humanity at the core of our effort:

  • First, no more use of faces borrowed from Google Image searches to make our persona depictions dazzling. These images register little more emotional empathy than the sample picture inside a frame purchased at Target. Rather, include original pictures of real people that we have taken ourselves. Individuals who have told us about their unique experiences and journeys. Our presentations might not look as polished, but they will most certainly be more insightful, inspiring, and human.
  • Secondly, let’s replace the “consumer” in consumer journey mapping with an actual human being. A real person who is in our target audience; one that we have met and spent some time getting to know. Imagine how much more interesting and impactful a channel strategy would be if we were constructing it for Anna Curtis, rather than a faceless, nameless, generic consumer
  • Finally, challenge your team to a meeting without “consumers” or “users.” Just like an off-color word or phrase at some workplaces might cost you $1 in a jar, let’s collect every time someone uses one of these dehumanizing words in a meeting. Then stretch the challenge to a full day, and the day to a week. Your teams will start thinking differently about who we’re trying to reach and how they can make those connections more resonant and meaningful (And then donate the proceeds to a good cause, like a Friday afternoon happy hour…).

Does changing what we call our target audiences matter? Clearly, that alone will not guarantee that we will create meaningful relationships. But starting with the right mindset about who we are talking to should improve the chances of keeping our focus on the wonderfully human person at the other end of the mouse, tablet or television set.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Activating the Healthcare Consumer Decision Journey

The average consumer now owns 4 devices and consumes 60 hours of digital content per week. And for healthcare marketers spending upwards of $1.5 billion per year on advertising (Hospital and Health Networks Magazine, April 2015), not understanding what, when and where consumers are in the consumer decision journey (CDJ) means much of that budget may be going to waste.

CDJ_1

Today’s marketing reality

Here’s what today’s healthcare marketer is facing: An explosion of messages. A transformation of channels. A disruptive fragmentation of audiences. And a consumer-driven market place where choice, access and information are a given, in real-time, 24/7.
Today’s marketers use the CDJ as a tool to address these new realities. To be nimbler, deliver more relevant messaging at precise moments and drive consistency across the journey – ultimately engendering greater loyalty and brand advocacy. It also presents important opportunities for healthcare brands:

• Starting relationships before there’s a need.
• Staying in the consideration set as their search goes on.
• Branding a memorable and shareable experience.
• Leveraging loyalty in a consumer driven world is the key to long-term success.

At each stage of the journey, different channels reach consumers, different messages engage them and different metrics measure marketing performance. Together, these insights form a solid framework that reflects your customer’s journey and show how best to reach them and provide a high-quality, consistent experience at every touchpoint.

To expand upon this, we looked at three different healthcare decision journeys and the channels (or platforms) that best match each journey. This will help demonstrate how channels vary based on the consumer and the nature of the decision—a woman choosing maternity services will have a different journey than a Parkinson’s patient’s care partner.

CDJ_2

Expecting Mothers Expect the Best

Get on your consumer’s short list (awareness) by generating visibility via appropriately targeted TV ads, print, radio, targeted online campaigns, presence at a millennial event (millennials are more likely to digitally share their experiences) and content on pre-pregnancy health websites. When she is ready to consider her options, she will start researching and comparing your offerings to others (evaluation), so be sure to give her all the information she needs: show up in her search results (SEO, consider buying relevant search ads), create high-quality content (e.g. virtual birthing center tours) and be active on all her favorite social platforms. Next, support an exceptional birthing experience by providing information new moms are hungry for (experience), possibly through video content for in-room broadcast or Youtube, or care packages with items tailored to her interests. Finally, make it easy for her to share her experience with other new moms (advocacy) by using social media to engage her, or by “adopting” a mommy blogger to incentivize specific maternity patients to share their positive experiences with their own loyal audience.

CDJ_3

Connecting with Ortho Patients

Be the name he thinks of when considering bone and joint issues, whether they’re his own, his friends’ or others’ (awareness). Get on his radar using TV, outdoor, radio, and targeted online advertising. For example, be at his recreational sports events—whether through sponsorship or authentic word of mouth testimonials from his friends. Next, create expert content on bone and joint health—whether on your brand’s website or a third party site. Then, when early symptoms trigger the start of his long decision process, lower the barriers for getting more information (evaluation) through search results and additional content on symptoms and new procedures. Next, leverage the extended patient care experience to deliver a branded impression of great care (experience) through collateral and online support information. And finally, give him opportunities to be proud of and share his recovery (advocacy) by capturing and sharing stories through unique written and/or video content.

CDJ_4

Serious Health Issues Inspire Need for Trust

For those seeking care for Parkinson’s Disease, marketers need to build confidence and trust in the hospital’s overall expertise and experience with older adults (awareness). This is often through print and radio advertising, maintaining a presence at elder health events and creating content on elder health and wellness sites. When symptoms prompt questions, encourage early consultation and provide different opportunities for your consumer to become more informed about options (evaluation) via search results, in-depth program content or a symptom checker. Optimize the potential of a lifetime care relationship with your patient and his family (experience). This could be done through collateral and support materials on disease management and new advancements. Finally, encourage family members to share their experience and help others in the same situation (advocacy) by providing them with opportunities to bond with others—reunions, workshops, etc.

Healthcare marketers have traditionally concentrated on the awareness and evaluation stages of the consumer decision journey. But today, online engagement and “experience sharing” provide opportunities to connect with consumers more deeply. As healthcare marketers, we can engage, delight and inspire consumers throughout their journey, and really, their whole lives.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Sources: Internet Trends 2015 (KPCB)

Marketing to Mom in the Digital Age

The experience of motherhood is shared by women across time, borders and languages. Despite massive shifts in culture and technology, modern moms have many of the same questions and challenges as their mothers and grandmothers. However, the resources moms use to manage the complexities of parenthood have changed considerably over generations. Moms still seek advice from a broad range of sources, but today, they’re often turning to the internet to do so. The ways in which today’s moms prioritize and balance the roles of self, Mom, wife, coworker, sister, friend and daughter may differ, but one thing is evident – digital tools can help make her life a little easier. The challenge for brands today is to cut through the noise and provide value when the volume of information available to moms is overwhelming.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, Laughlin Constable has provided ways to reach and resonate with Mom in the digital age.

Be there for her whenever she needs you: Make it mobile.

Mom’s smartphone very well may be considered her savior. Handy mobile apps can help her communicate with family, find nearby locations, snag deals, search for products and recipes and simply save time and energy. Moms are constantly switching between screens, so your content should be moving with them. According a January 2016 study conducted by Facebook IQ, parents over-index on social mobile usage – globally, they spend 1.3X more time on Facebook mobile than people without children. With this, it’s imperative for brands to create a seamless multi-screen digital experience for Mom. However, it is also important for brands to avoid overwhelming her even more with irrelevant, unwelcome content at every conceivable turn.

Show her what to do: Use video effectively.

More and more, moms are turning to YouTube for answers to their everyday questions. According to a September 2015 study conducted by Google, TNS and Ipsos, 83 percent of moms search for answers to their questions online. Of those, three in five turn to online video in particular. Today’s new moms spend an average of 8.3 hours daily consuming media – about an hour more per day than Gen X moms – with most of that extra time spent streaming video. This presents brands with a great opportunity: to provide valuable content when moms are looking for support, information or ideas. Of the moms surveyed who view YouTube videos, 81 percent watch how-to content. In fact, moms are significantly more likely to watch how-to content than the average viewer.

Respect her time: Be as brief as possible.

Moms appreciate value and efficiency. Especially with an overflowing plate, it’s crucial for brands to give Mom the information she needs upfront without forcing her to dig through clutter. Access to information can be a double-edged sword – on one hand, it’s great for her to have the brain trust of the internet at her fingertips, but all that information and all those opinions can leave her feeling confused. Nurture quick wins with Mom by serving up concise, crystal clear content that simplifies complexities in a relevant way.

Meet her with an empathetic voice: Motherhood means vulnerability.

Every mom has different fears, dreams, beliefs and values, but they share a mutual understanding that parenting is not all sunshine and roses. Brands that understand and acknowledge the challenges of parenthood and speak to moms with a compassionate voice, no matter the category or platform, resonate best with moms. With Medela, Laughlin Constable built a content strategy that includes motivational, inspirational content in addition to educational blogs and tips for new moms. Rather than glossing over the challenges of early parenthood, Medela has created a social community based in part on support and encouragement.

Empower her to help herself: Self-care is crucial.

Mom has to take care of herself before she can take care of others, but her personal needs are often pushed to the bottom of a never-ending to-do list. Savvy brands help her feel more confident, cared for and capable by offering self-care solutions, time-saving tips and real-time resources.

As with any other audience, it’s important to remember that moms lead rich, complex lives and their identities extend far beyond just being a parent. Honor and recognize moms’ reality and allow opportunities for her to put on her oxygen mask first. After all, there’s no work more important than the work of a parent. Brands that are aligned to help support that vital work can and should meet moms where they are to make a unique connection with consumers.

Oh, and be sure to call your mom this Sunday.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Lydia Eichner & Ceara Milligan

Top 10 Digital Trends of 2016

As seen in TalentZoo‘s blog on January 21, 2016

We now live in a world where digital has become the most important channel in people’s lives and is a central driver of our culture. New technologies are being invented, but just as important, existing technology is evolving to be more user-centric and dynamic than ever before, promoting instant gratification and relevance. All of these changes are an attempt to build an even tighter connection between what’s digital and human, proactively meeting user needs and blurring the lines between on- and offline experiences.

With this continuous evolution, technology has quickly become the key driver of profitability and market differentiation in every industry. We’re in an accelerated digital world, where you need to always be solving for your future. If you solve only for today you’re going to have to solve for today again tomorrow. Because of this, the gap between brands who successfully unlock the key to digital success and the laggards who struggle to keep up continues to grow, creating an even greater sense of urgency to innovate.

Here are Laughlin Constable’s top ten digital trends to look out for in 2016:

1. The Internet of Things will pave new ground.
2. We are now entering the Outcome Economy.
3. Virtual reality will open a whole new world to brands and customers.
4. Artificial intelligence-driven technologies will find real-world application.
5. T-commerce will change the way we consume media throughout the customer journey.
6. The notion of privacy vs. prevalence will stabilize.
7. Location-based technology will reach a tipping point.
8. User experience will become more ambient and personalized.
9. Customers will prefer (and expect) super-service over traditional customer service.
10. The Sharing Economy will continue to create opportunities for brands to shift the human network.

Download the final report and infographic to discover more about the key trends that are shaping the digital frontier in 2016 and beyond.

Making Trust Mobile

 

“Virtually every commercial transaction has within itself an element of trust,” wrote Nobel prize winner Kenneth Arrow. Arrow’s line describes why banks emphasize consistent and personalized interactions with their customers across all branches– to build trust. Back when an actual bank was central to all banking activity, personalizing customer interactions wasn’t too complex. Executives placed greeters at every bank entrance and favored tellers with the local accent who would address us by name. But as we’ve exchanged our interactions with bank employees for banking apps on our phones, banks have been challenged to adopt their familiar strategy of emphasizing human interactions to our screens.

The technology that enables personalization is consistently improving and I’ve noticed increased personalization in my banking apps. Today, my American Express app, for example, greets me with a message appropriate to my time of day. And my Chase app welcomes me with a background based on my location (as I write this post in the Chicago office, I am greeted with the Chicago skyline). In the words of Chase’s head of digital for consumer and community banking, these apps were built with the intention of “humanizing the [digital] experience” aka giving the customer a digital experience similar to the retail experience, a concept that technology has only recently been able to realize. While the app will never replicate human interaction, it has the potential to master personalized interactions on a scale that is impossible for a bank employee (who can easily forget information or get stressed on the job) to do.

As banks seek to regain our trust after the Recession (Gallup), their increasing ability to create a consistent brand experience across all mediums for their customers is great news. Not only do they signal a bank’s excitement to help us where we are – whether online or in the store – they also bring consistency to the bank’s brand experience, an important part of building brand trust and loyalty (Journal of Consumer Research). The banking industry’s ability to use mobile for building customer trust is certainly something we can expect other industries to replicate.

 

Getting From Point-A to Point-A

Certain brands have mastered content marketing and are creating high-end content that fuses their brand story with a larger, emotional, human story. Red Bull, for example, has intertwined itself with extreme sports and the notion that human beings are capable of extraordinary things if we’re willing to let go of our own perceived limitations – and Red Bull gives you the wings to do so.

So, now that we’re on the same page, you’re saying, “I want in.” However, your brand doesn’t have the budget to send one of your employees on a free fall from space, so you’re wondering if there are any simpler things you can do to improve your content marketing.

Yup. Consistently creating things like blogs and podcasts that can connect with people on a personal level is a great place to start, and here are some tips to help you construct a narrative that will grab your audiences‘ attention.

  1. Think of Each Story as a Circle. And the goal of telling it is to take the reader on an adventure from Point-A to Point-AThink of any movie or book you’ve read. The formula is simply: “Balance. Disturbance. Return to balance.” This formula can be applied to all blogs and podcasts to ensure quality and consistency.  
  2. Establish Your Point-A Opening. What are you trying to say? This idea should be presented in the headline and will serve as the main thought or your blog/podcast. For this blog, it’s teaching why a 360 degree story structure is important.
  3. Establish Your Point-A Closing. Think of a line/thought/angle that’s going bridge your opening and closing lines. Get creative here. This is the chance to drive your point home –and make it memorable. (You’ll have to read the rest to see what I’m going with here.)
  4. Use Main Points to Bridge Opening and Closing. When your two point-A’s are set –the balance and return to balance – it’s time to list out the main points that will lead readers from thesis to conclusion.
  5. Make Your Supporting Arguments Equal Parts Fact and Fun. Now that you’ve cleared a path for the reader to follow, it’s important to use tools and techniques to make the trip as enjoyable as possible. Persuasion is about framing, and the goal with this content is to convince someone to agree with your point of view – this is best done by expanding on your main points with humor, logic, ethos, pathos and other techniques that entertain, elevating the reader’s view of your opinion to one they connect with on an emotional level.

This method may seem backwards if you’ve never tried it. Many people are used to working chronologically – from intro to body to conclusion – but if you don’t know where you’re going to end up, it’s tough to determine a logical way to get there. By thinking of your narrative as a journey from Point-A to Point-A, you’ll prevent yourself from talking in circles. (See what I did there?)

The Top Ten Moments Of #MUISS

Laughlin Constable was proud to sponsor the 2014 Insight Summit Series Digital Advertising + Marketing Summit, held at Marquette University on 3.19.14. There were many moments that made this year’s event special, but here are our top ten favorites:

  1. LC Shines – Who can resist an opening keynote that includes Beyoncé, Elon Musk, and Flappy Bird? Or a UX presentation from a former punk rocker. Or workshops that unlock the secret to SEO success and how to get the most out of Google Analytics? Many thanks to Paul Brienza, Sean Barry, Trisha Krautkramer, Erin Ebert, and the rest of the LC team who made this year’s Digital Summit a success.
  2. Tweeting Up A Storm – The Digital Summit was a success, and attendees let everyone know via Twitter. Within hours, #MUISS was a trending topic in Milwaukee, generating 1.5 million potential impressions and @LaughlinOutLoud was mentioned hundreds of times – a  perfect representation of the digital world we live in.
  3. AOL Gets Programmatic – Michael Treon, VP Platform Solutions at AOL, discussed programmatic advertising and how it will shape the future of marketing, merging creatives and engineers to come up with time-saving solutions.
  4. Google Rewind – With the massive search engine changing almost every day, it was entertaining to walk down memory lane with Jen Keller, SEO Specialist, and see what Google looked like in the late 1990s, mid 2000s, and just last week.
  5.  #SketchNotes – Jennifer Torres (@jentorres) stole the #MUISS Twitter show with her creative and visually engaging SketchNotes
  6.  UX Drunk Test – Laughlin Constable’s User Experience Strategist, Brady Pierzchalski, highlighted how UX shouldn’t make users feel stupid by showing this video of a person using Windows 8 for the first time.
  7. Tell a Story – Closing speaker Susan Sachatello, from CUNA Mutual Group, encouraged brands to focus on what they stand for, and tell that story to your audience well. She also urged marketers to recognize who your audience is, but who they aspire to be and meet them there with your brand story.
  8. Embrace the Chaos – Taulbee Jackson from Raidious talked about real-time marketing and how advertisers must embrace the chaos. “You have a real time focus group happening all the time, whether you know it or not.”
  9. #SwipeRightForFun – Did you know? The dating app Tinder was originally going to be called Matchbox. And co-founder Jonathan Badeen has indeed been on a Tinder date.
  10. Sell out! – The Digital Advertising + Marketing Summit, including pre-summit workshops, sold out for the second year in a row. Don’t miss the next Insight Summit Series event.