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Digital Strategy

Not really, a Creative Director will still be needed, just not in the same way it is today.

A recent article on AdAge.com spoke on how most ad & creative agencies are 5 – 10 years behind the current state of marketing’s capabilities. And the Creative Director works as it did back then where they create a few ideas, hand off the ideas and comps, then call it a day.

Guess what? That’s Dead!

Here’s the deal.
Whether creative agencies want to admit it or not, their decisions on what to create are driven by data. They ask the client questions and create something they feel meets the client’s expectations.
We get it, they want to please their client.

Here’s what’s missing, The Customer!

Best case scenario is that the client knows their customer so well that the data they give you is solid. Much of the time it needs to be supplemented with current customer behavioral & search data.
It is important to look at what customers are searching for online and find out where & how they qualify products or services they are looking to buy.
This will inform you on how to engage and what content to create for maximum exposure and conversion.

Back to the Creative Director role

Not only will the Creative Director need 3rd party customer data to inform creative decisions, but they also need to consider more technical aspects of design such as UX and UI as it relates to a customer’s motivations, needs, use of the medium and conversion optimization.

Even more, this Director will need to be aware of how to integrate all 3rd party data into their design process.
For example, variables in ads that are dynamic and will modify based on weather conditions in any given geography. Imagine a Starbucks ad that changes once it starts raining in St. Louis to show someone having fun in the rain with a cool umbrella and holding their favorite venti-sized drink as they smile & splash a small puddle. But it is totally different when it is dry and overly windy.
I’m weeping as a write this at how beautiful this level of personalization is 😉

We are advocates of moving towards a more informed creative process (see our Digital Marketing Audit), do this ourselves and want everyone to follow suit.

Follow the leader (we like it at the front of the pack)!

*Ad Age Article Here: http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/creative-director-role-exist-10-years/305623/

I recently read an article by John Rampton titled “Prepare for the Future being shaped by these 5 Critical Trends.”
He goes on to share these trends and his explanation of why they will have a significant impact on the future.

Some of it I agreed with while other parts I did not.

Here I am sharing both my opinions and ideas in comparison to Rampton’s.

5 Trends Shaping the Future of Business (and Marketing)

1. Winning at mobile will mean having an app.

Rampton
Mobile usage is at an all-time high and shows no signs of slowing down. Consumers are using mobile for everything from buying products, to communicating with friends, to playing games, to finding local businesses.

Over the past couple of years, business owners have taken this trend to heart, optimizing their sites for mobile through the use of a responsive site design. And while this is a great first step, it may no longer be enough to future-proof your business.

Research shows that 89 percent of all mobile media time is now spent in apps, while only the remaining 11 percent is spent on the mobile web. This means that not having an app for your business is almost certainly costing you. If you don’t already have an app, now is the time to start planning for one.

Bracamontes
While I agree with what most of Rampton is saying here, I cannot make the same absolute statement that All businesses will need a mobile app. I am a big supporting of the mobile web and responsive design.

The research that showcases 89% of mobile media time is spent in apps is skewed heavily toward consumers playing games, watching YouTube videos and messaging other consumers. So unless you are one of those types of companies, then there are larger questions to ask in determining your need for an app.

We have had many companies come to us with ideas for customer portals or app ideas that didn’t need to be an app.

In our opinion, a larger concern will be on integrating with other apps. Aggregators, Indexing and organizational apps will lead heavily in how we interact with our mobile devices, so getting cozy with these companies will be hugely beneficial.


2. Increase your use of freelancers now so you’re not playing catch-up.

Rampton
We now know that 34 percent of the US workforce are freelancers. This works out to over 54 million freelancers in America who contribute $700 billion annually to the national economy.

It has also been predicted that by 2020 (that’s just four years away!), freelancers will make up 50 percent of the workforce. That will seriously impact how you do business!

There are many benefits to using freelancers to build and grow your business. However, one of the most important “future-proof” benefits is this: in the event of an economic downturn, using freelancers will make you and your business far more nimble. Not only will it allow you to find and hire the best global workers, you won’t need to pay costs like office space or employee benefits.

Bracamontes
Definitely agree with Rampton here.
While again these numbers are skewed since many of these freelancers are also fully employed, it doesn’t negate the fact that they are still doing some work on a freelance basis.

Every study is showing that more and more people are moving to work in a freelance capacity, due to the freedom it can provide for their lifestyle.

Is this good for business, maybe, maybe not, but it is a fact that you will have to be a part of this trend.


3. Prepare for the aging workforce.

Rampton
The US workforce is undergoing some serious shifts in terms of demographics. In fact, according to the CDC, by 2020 one in every four workers will be over the age of 55.

As older workers begin retiring, companies will be left with openings in key leadership positions. To fill these gaps, businesses will need to consider whether to hire internally or externally. While smaller organizations may need to look almost exclusively to outside hires, the “world’s most admired companies” (WMAC’s) know that hiring internally is the wave of the future. According to Fortune, only 11 percent of WMAC’s anticipate hiring externally, while 81 percent say they’re preparing current employees to take over key positions.

Now is the time to begin identifying high-potential individuals within your organization. This will give you time to invest in training and development, ensuring they’re ready for their new roles when the time comes.

Bracamontes
This is an interesting contradiction to the freelancer prediction in my opinion.
With an increase in people moving to freelance, you may find that key leadership roles will actually move outside of the company and be held by those who left.
I can definitely see a retirement package, being a consulting gig for the executive leaving their full time benefit laden gig with a more lean outlay for the company, but still very lucrative and more flexible for the now contracted retiree.

Another trend are SuperTemps, which are basically well educated consultants who work independent of any organization, but are just as good, if not better than those you would find at Deloitte, Bain, Booz, etc.

I can say that personally, we will look both internally and externally for our agency.
It’s ultimately about fit.


4. Adapt policies attractive to millenial employees.

Rampton
According to the Workforce 2020 Global Research report, one of the top concerns organizations have in terms of labor-market shifts is the rise in millennials entering the workforce. And while executives believe there key differences between how Millennials and other generational groups operate in the organization, most don’t fully understand exactly what these differences are.

Millennials are less bound by loyalty, and expect to have up to 9 employers over the course of their lifetime. In their report, Millennials At Work: Reshaping the Workplace, PricewaterhouseCoopers offers some important insights into the differences employers should consider, including:

  • Due to recent economic downturn in many parts of the world, Millennials now expect to work for up to six or more employers over their lifetime. This means decreased loyalty toward employers, and therefore greater turnover.
  • Millennials value flexibility and diversity in terms of their working hours, location, training and work/life balance.
  • Millennials prefer to communicate electronically rather than in-person or on the phone. Employers will need to adapt their current model to accommodate this.
  • Millennials prefer a digital wallet over being paid by check. They are demanding a new wave of ease in payments.

Bracamontes
I’ll be honest in saying that this is ridiculous to me in that we have to work hard to make these shifts.
These types of business building activities have progressed since the beginning of time.
Cultures change, behaviors change, rules change, technology changes, etc. and we have to CHANGE TOO!

We see this as being a communication issue with organizations.
Make the shifts like you’re going to have to anyway and convey the message that working with you is good for those reasons.

Who cares how the work gets done as long as it gets done.
And if you are communicating your values and beliefs correctly then you will attract the type of people you want in your organization and they will likely do the work in a similar style as you anyway.


5. Prepare your business for environmental and social sustainability.

Rampton
While becoming socially and environmentally sustainable is currently not a requirement in most industries, it may become so in the future. Beginning the process of becoming a so-called “future-fit” business can help you start the process now, ensuring you continue to grow and thrive into the future, without doing harm to society or the environment. Millennials really care about both of these issues, so you may want to up your own game in both of these social issue areas.

Using the Future-Fit Business benchmark, businesses can define their own future-fit goals to ensure they’re on the path towards becoming sustainable. Businesses can aspire to a list of 21 goals, each with its own set of key fitness indicators (KFIs).

Be aware that pursuing this course can have significant impact on the way you do business. The report authors write, “We believe that when businesses see the gap between their current performance and the necessary future-fit level of environmental and social performance, they will abandon their incremental efforts and embrace innovative breakthrough efforts…Some companies may find that they need to redesign their business model to reach the benchmark and capture the benefits.”

Bracamontes
Look I get it.
The environment is important to keep healthy, because if we don’t, then we die (or our kids, grand kids, great grand kids, etc.).

But social sustainability sounds a little off.
Our society changes a lot and our views change with it.
You could always argue that actions or inactions could positively or negatively affect society.
My opinion is to do what you think is right and value feedback.

As an example: A recent documentary I watched showed how the overwhelming charity given to areas in Africa has actually killed societies, due to the fact that they cannot sustain without these handouts, due to the fact that they get these handouts!
Food given to these African cities, kills the local food economy and puts farmers out of business, clothing given to the cities, kills the local textile manufacturers and clothiers. See what I’m saying.

So something you think is great for society could be really detrimental.

These statements also make me think that we are in some type of a bubble as well.

Needless to say, I like to give my two cents.
I thought there was great thought put into the article and wanted to share with you all as well.

If you want to talk to me about ideas like this then give me a call or send an email and I would love to talk shop with you. Especially if it’s in relation to content marketing or digital marketing audits!

*original source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/281097

Many businesses have no clue how effective their digital efforts are within and outside of the organization. Teams are reporting to executive vanity metrics and isolated analyses that don’t tell the whole picture. This leads to the continued state of “You don’t know, what you don’t know”.
This is a problem!

Understanding how you compare and how effective your organization is a digital competence practice can dramatically increase your ability to be efficient and effective at strategic operations, marketing and finance. This will translate to higher margins, lower cost of visibility, increased employee happiness, lower cost and an increased number of new customers.

Creating this scoring framework for your Digital Competence can bring structure and clarity to optimizing your business in two ways: first, by defining where digital technology has the greatest impact and, second, by providing a clear method for assessing how your company compares with the competition in capability areas that will be essential for success in the face of digital change.

A fact-based assessment of a company’s digital competence can provide executives & managers with the intelligence needed to keep moving in the same direction or make a pivot when the digital scorecard has raised red flags.

As an example:
In retail markets, the paramount priority may be creating highly relevant omnichannel customer experiences that build strong relationships with a target demographic.

For an auto supplier, on the other hand, the key issue may be how well it meets customer needs in areas like infotainment and assisted driving, or how effectively it deploys digital tools in its own business to manage its supply chain, inventories and product development.

Defining where digital contributes the most value in a given industry is the first step in assessing where a company falls on a spectrum of excellence and leadership. It also helps identify where insurgents are disrupting the status quo and how quickly.

Check out this graphic on how retail can leverage Digital effectively in 6 key areas

Digital Scorecard 6 Key Areas

View more about how Private Equity firms use this in their due diligence process from this article by Bain: http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/measuring-companys-digital-competence.aspx

Contact Us if this sounds like You, We want to hear your struggle & Talk through Solutions

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Just a quick post today on something very important to us.

What is the Best Marketing Technology?

Answer: A Question

Questions are the most powerful tool we have as marketers.
What you don’t know affects the outcome of your efforts.
Many of us have solutions or “know” the market.

The biggest thing we must focus on is The Goal.
To know the Goal, we must ask what it is, if it isn’t known (which is an answer to your question) you must define it, which will require even more questioning.

This cycle continues across all aspects of marketing, business, relationships, LIFE.

Question Everything & Execute Intelligently!

I’m going to make this a very short article.

I continue to talk to companies who are not seeing results from their “content marketing” or the agencies doing that work for them.

And EVERY TIME it is due to the same thing.
The content is not being distributed effectively.

In fact, much of the time that content isn’t being distributed at all!

Here’s the Thing About Content Marketing Distribution

Many companies and agencies still believe that you can simply create sexy website or write well crafted blog posts and it will generate new business for them.
This is WRONG!

While a sexy website and well formed content is useful when applied correctly, if you do not distribute this to those who will benefit from it most, then you wasted your time and money.

That’s it.
Your content MUST be delivered multi-channel to ensure visibility, awareness, conversion and revenue.

Go-To Distribution Channels

  • Website (optimized for search engines and users)
  • Blog Posts
  • Social Media
  • Email
  • Paid Search
  • Video
  • Print
  • Streaming Radio
  • and more

Wherever your prospects are, you must be there.

Quit just making pretty looking & sounding things and start putting it to work.

I put together this quick video to give you an introduction into what we do at Acumen Studio.

We are a High Performance Digital Marketing Agency that Connects People With Companies.

Content Marketing
Website Optimization
SEO / Search Engine Optimization
PPC / Pay Per Click / SEM
Social Media Marketing, Management & Optimization
Email Marketing & Marketing Automation
Analytics, Reporting & Insights

Contact Us Here

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What we see over and over again are people and agencies speaking on how easy SEO is and minimizing it by only talking about the most basic aspects of both SEO and overall Digital Marketing.

Why is this?
It definitely makes it easier to sell, but is that the only reason?

We dug in and realized that the reason most people minimize how important the tactics within Digital Marketing actually are (including SEO) is because they SUCK at Execution. They cannot do the work well.

It’s easy to say you should be strategic and speak to the right people at the right time online, but when it comes to actually pulling that off, most fail and fail hard.

This is where we differentiate in that our execution is deep and drives massive results.

Our advice to everyone is to Quit talking about Digital Marketing like you know something if you can’t back it up with execution.

Talk to us!

The Question: “What should I include in my content marketing?”

Here are the things that YOU SHOULD be including in your content marketing efforts.

You don’t just need content, you need Awesome Content!

Developing relevant content does not have to be a difficult. It doesn’t require any special tools, secret or magic. It all begins with understanding who your prospects & customers are, how they behave and what they crave.

The formula:
Useful x Consumable x Inspired = Innovative Content

This process begins with the creation of a piece of a REAL IDEA, Not some 2,000 word “evergreen” piece or ebook. Something Awesome.
Many marketers will tell you this should be a 50 to 100 page ebook or massive how to guide. The problem is most people can’t handle it. Big = Overwhelming.

Everyone wants to believe there is a magic bullet. So create the Magic Bullet!

Highly valuable & easily consumed content is the gift that keeps on giving. This content will attract links, generate traffic and build brand awareness.

Once your content is created, blast it EVERYWHERE: Company pages, email, blog, sponsored updates, Display ads, SlideShare, PPC, Twitter, etc.

Simple Execution
In many cases it is easy to develop a set of goals, but a plan is specific, executed over time and measurable. After determining what your Big Idea is going to be, write that out into a series or digestable snapshots that can easily be distributed over time. This can include videos, infographics, blog posts, 3rd party posts, podcasts, etc.

Week 1: Publish & Schedule Your Content
Week 2: Conduct a Webinar
Week 3: Run a Contest
Week 4: Lead a Twitter Chat
Week 5: Do an interview: On TV, Online, At a Conference, etc.

While all of this is running your content is being promoted though influencer outreach, promoted posts, email, sponsored updates, paid search, retargeting, organic social, organic search, etc.

Everything gets tagged and tracked for performance evaluation and follow up.

Your Blog
Make your blog content diverse, relevant and structured.

Monday: Case Studies, Statistics / Infographics, Industry (35% time spent)
Tuesday: Strategic Research & Analysis, Points of View, Thought Leadership (20% time spent)
Wednesday: How-To Posts, Guest Blogging, Peer Content (25% time spent)
Thursday: Bold Points of View / Strong Opinion, Challenger (5% time spent)
Friday: Light-hearted, Cultural, Funny Amusing (15% time spent)

A Quick View
SEO – Lays the groundwork
Social – Fuels the content
Content – Fuels the demand

Winners:

  • Consistently deliver content that their target wants to consume & share
  • PR efforts guide their vision as a leader in the space
  • Deliver amazing experiences on and offline
  • Build a thriving community

Make a plan, make it Asesome, deploy, track & measure, optimize, close new business and WIN!

And this is why we are considered the best content marketing agencies in St. Louis.

The job of marketers is becoming more and more complicated.
We now have access to so much data on customer insights via analytics tools and are expected to know how to measure and what the data means.
Recently a study from Forrester shows how organizations successfully use marketing analytics tools to develop relevant & compelling customer experiences.

Consumers expect to find what they want from their smartphones, tablets and laptops at any time from anywhere. These behaviors and commonly referred to micro-moments give marketers more opportunities to connect and engage. They also allow marketers to identify valuable insights about consumer behavior.
Effective marketing measurement is is the key to success here.

To understand the challenges we marketers face in measuring performance and creating the technology & tactic recommendations, Google commissioned Forrester to perform a survey of 150 marketing, analytics and information technology executives. The research shows how successful marketers are able to leverage analytics tools effectively so they make the most of consumer interactions.

Key findings

  • Marketers must be able to link marketing performance to business results. Of the survey respondents who were identified as “sophisticated marketers”, 53% said they adhere to well-established KPI’s & metrics that tie directly to business objectives. These marketers work with companies that are at least 3X more likely to hit their goals than other organizations.

  • The right tools are critical to success. 26% of marketers surveyed believed that their marketing analytics tools are well-integrated & work seamlessly together. Contrast that with marketers with well-integrated tools who are more likely to outperform revenue goals.

  • Marketers that employ complete itegrated marketing analytics platforms see an increase in performance and results. Smart marketers who deploy a complete integrated marketing analytics stack of five or more tools are 39% more likely to see improvement in the overall performance of their marketing efforts.

To Download and learn more about improving marketing performance with analytics, check out the full study, “How Marketing Analytics Increases Business Performance” by filling out the form below.

Download "How Marketing Analytics Increases Business Performance"

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Instagram confirmed last Tuesday that it is adding an algorithm that will reorder posts & videos users see in their feeds.

Commentors from Instagram stated that the posts will be shown to you…

“based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

The globally popular photo-sharing app didn’t say when the new algorithm will go into effect, but The New York Times, reported that the changes will roll out slowly with a small set of tests that affect only a “single-digit percentage of users.”

Instagram now has 400 million monthly users and makes sense as to why they are making similar changes to what Facebook made in 2009. According to Instagram, users only see 30 percent of posts in their feeds.

Some sources reportedly believe that this is a sign to advertisers that brands will have to pay to be seen just like on Facebook, but the difference with Instagram is that they do not have isolated brand accounts vs personal accounts. They could potentially figure this out algorithmically, but tha would be very daunting since there is such a proliferation of personal brands leveraged for business.

If you are interested in social media or content marketing please contact us by calling or filling out the form below.

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