Cracking the Gen Z Code: A Small Business Marketing Guide to Gen Z Engagement

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Gen Z, the generation born between the late nineties and mid-2010s, makes up more than one-quarter of the world’s population, and their buying power exceeds $140 billion. With so much competition on the horizon, how can small businesses leverage their brands with this socially conscious, diverse demographic of up-and-coming decision-makers?
 

Increasing Engagement with Gen Z

Be Authentic 

Gen Z likes to support brands with beliefs and value systems that genuinely align with their own. However, promoting values like sustainability, DE&I, and others must be done in a truly authentic way and not just clever marketing to drive sales. Small businesses can show commitment to significant issues by focusing on the human element behind their brands and building transparency by going “behind the scenes” or sharing where and how products are sourced to promote sustainability. 

Include User-Generated Content 

Another way to effectively demonstrate authenticity is with user-generated content. Showcase positive customer experiences and reviews, or ask current customers to upload DIY videos and share what they love about a particular product. Gen Z thrives on experiences, so seeing a real person use, enjoy, and demonstrate how a product looks, feels, and works can help your potential customers imagine what their own experiences will be like! 

Offer Sales and Promotions

Capture Gen Z’s attention with a sale or promotion. According to Campaign Monitor, nearly 83 percent like to receive promotions. HootSuite reported similar findings, with “discounts offered” cited as the number one motivator for getting Gen Z to engage with a new brand. 

Collab with Influencers 

Twenty-four percent of Gen Z women say that they are most likely to turn to influencers when learning about new products to buy. The reason is simple: they like to buy from brands they trust, and they hear about brands they trust from influencers they trust. Successful influencers share information in a manner that captures attention and forms connections; they are interesting, often funny, and always personally engaging. 

Choose the Right Social Media Channels

As the first generation to fully grow up in the digital age, Gen Z’s lives have almost always included social media, and they prefer to connect with brands this way. However, not all channels are created equal, and each brand needs its own unique mix of social media channels.

For Gen Z, Facebook is for gleaning information, X is for news, Instagram is for showcasing an aspirational aesthetic, and Snapchat is for connecting with friends daily. But TikTok is the best bet for selling brands and products, with Gen Z women ranking its influence on purchasing decisions second only to “recommendations from family and friends.” 

Connect with Emails and Newsletters 

We know social media works with Gen Z, but what about email? A report by Campaign Monitor shared that email is Gen Z’s second-most preferred channel for brand engagement. Gen Z is constantly online, and many check their email multiple times per day. However, most receive less than 20 emails a day. This means there is less competition in an inbox than on social media. Moreover, Gen Z indicated they want to hear from brands up to a couple of times a week. 

Keep in mind that Gen Z has an average attention span of eight seconds, so strong copywriting will be key for maximum results. While you should engage with potential customers on multiple channels, including email and social media, you’ll want to change up your messaging across platforms to keep things fresh. 

Strategize with Green Apple 

When it comes to building a successful marketing plan, our team at Green Apple understands that marketing does not operate in silos. We will take time to understand your business and your needs to develop an engagement strategy for Gen Z—and all the generations you serve. Contact us today, and let’s get the conversation started. 

Sleighing Social Media: How to Keep the Spirit Alive During the Holidays 

The holiday season is a time when social media comes alive with festive cheer. Businesses are vying for attention while also trying to capture the holiday spirit. If done well, holiday marketing on social media can be some of the most valuable content you produce. 

We’re here to guide you through some simple yet highly effective ways to enhance your social media efforts during the holidays. Read on for some tips to capture the festive spirit and give your brand a competitive edge in your social media posts. 

Create a Holiday-Themed Content Calendar

Planning in advance is key to successful holiday marketing. Create a holiday-themed content calendar for the days, weeks, or months you want to focus on, and plan a number of posts to celebrate the season. Not only does a content calendar help you stay organized and consistent, but it’s particularly helpful in planning ahead during a season when many of your employees are taking time off. 

Ensure you’re utilizing the right social media marketing tools to help guide your strategy toward success. 

Drop the Hard Sell Approach

We know the holiday season is an opportunity for many businesses to boost sales, but there’s more to it than just pushing products. Take a step back to think about how you can soft-sell your product during this season. Here are a few ideas:

  • Share user-generated content 
  • Share stories about your team members or any holiday traditions at your company
  • Share customer stories, testimonials, and reviews
  • Take a conversational approach

By focusing on meaningful non-sales content, you can make an impact and build a deeper connection with your audience, giving your brand greater resonance even after the holidays.

Be Inclusive of All Holidays 

There are billions of people on social media, all with different beliefs, traditions, and customs. By showcasing your awareness of this fact, you can appeal to a much larger audience and show current and potential customers that you’re an inclusive company. Add all of the upcoming holidays to your content calendar and embrace the spirit of the season through the beauty of diversity and inclusivity!

Design Gift Guides and Highlight Gift Ideas

Instagram is a popular social media platform for holiday marketing because of its visual nature. You can enhance the visibility of your best deals, promos, and events by showcasing them in your bio links and highlighting them in shoppable posts. Create content that focuses on gift ideas or holiday shopping guides relevant to your products or services. 

Showcase a Charity or Nonprofit Organization

Share the love this holiday season and showcase a cause you and your audience care about. Shine the spotlight on the nonprofits you support by sharing photos and videos of your team volunteering and infographics about the organization’s impact. Don’t forget to tag the nonprofit on all platforms for additional organic reach! 

Engage Your Audience

Social media platforms offer a variety of engagement features you can use to help show your brand’s personality. Organize fun and engaging contests or giveaways, or schedule holiday-themed polls, questions, and quizzes on your stories to encourage user participation. Infuse a little joy, playfulness, and holiday spirit into your content, and your audience will respond positively. 

Share User Generated Content

User-generated content is a great tool to boost interaction and build an authentic connection with your audience. It also doesn’t take much legwork. Repost or retweet user-generated content that showcases your product or service being used during the holidays. If you don’t have much user-generated content to choose from, ask followers to share their holiday stories, photos, or ideas related to your product or service. This is a great way to build a library of content that you can use all year long! 

Collaborate with Influencers

Incorporating influencers in a planned holiday campaign could help you reach a wider or even untapped audience. Influencer marketing is a proven and reliable method for generating brand awareness year-round. According to a Q3 Sprout pulse survey, 89% of marketers agree influencer marketing impacts their brand awareness. The authentic content micro-influencers (influencers with 10,000–100,000 followers) are known to produce is just one benefit of working with them.  

Analyze and Adjust 

Take a step back and look at the analytics. Your data from the previous holiday season can equip you with meaningful insights that guide your future content. Understand what performed best and adjust your strategy accordingly. A thorough analysis can help you plan for seasonal content for next year and beyond. 

Let Us Help You Reach Your Goals

At Green Apple, we help our clients build effective campaigns for the holiday season and all year round. If you need some guidance and support from marketing and PR experts, we’d love to discuss your goals and figure out how we can help you reach them. Contact us anytime to start the conversation. You can also subscribe to The Core, our monthly newsletter, to get the latest marketing insights and inspiration delivered directly to your inbox. Happy holidays and happy social media marketing!

How to Create a Marketing Moat 

In the ever-evolving world of marketing, businesses are constantly searching for ways to stand out from the competition to achieve long-term growth. Just as castles were fortified with moats to protect against attacks, today’s business owners can create their own “marketing moats” to maintain a competitive edge and better protect their market share.

Build a Strong Brand Identity

The impression that your brand makes on a customer can help you stand out from competitors. Develop a memorable brand story. Brand storytelling explains your differentiators and humanizes your brand. It helps customers understand who you are and why your business exists. Building a strong brand or achieving brand recognition can create a marketing moat that keeps customers returning because people prefer brands they recognize. 

Another impact of building a compelling brand story is creating a bond with your customers. This connection can foster trust and loyalty, which can turn into positive feedback and testimonials. You can use this feedback to promote the strong relationships you build with customers, which strengthens your marketing moat. 

Clearly Define Your Unique Value Proposition

Identify what sets your brand apart from competitors and communicate why customers should choose your products or services. Here are a few ways to identify your unique value proposition:

1. Understand your target audience. 

2. Analyze the competition and identify gaps in what they offer. Capitalize on these gaps.

3. Determine what makes your business unique and highlight those aspects.

Be sure to integrate your unique value proposition into all of your marketing and messaging consistently. Check out Green Apple’s approach to building a marketing strategy for tips to ensure your strategy is set up for success from the start. 

Invest in Consistent Content Creation

Produce relevant and engaging content that resonates with your target audience. This can include blog posts, videos, curated social media content, paid media efforts, email marketing, and more. Establish credibility by positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry and offer valuable insight through white papers, webinars, online courses or trainings, and free consultations. All these resources can be promoted on social media and through email marketing. A well-executed content calendar and email marketing strategy can help you plan and organize your content so it remains relevant and consistent.

Work With Us To Build Your Marketing Moat 

At Green Apple, we help business owners execute ideas with a solid strategy behind our approach. Let us help you build a marketing moat that will lead to long-term success by establishing a presence that stands out from the competition. To learn more about our process and discuss how we can help, contact Green Apple Strategy

From Idea to Impact: How to Develop a Memorable Brand Story

Every successful company started as an idea. 

Whether it was a concept sparked by a business conversation or originally written down on the back of a napkin, every brand has a story to tell about how it evolved from idea to impact. As a marketer or business leader, your ability to tell that story (i.e., brand storytelling) affects how well your potential customers remember who you are, connect with your mission, and care about your products or services. 

Brand storytelling not only explains how you differ from your competitors; it also humanizes your brand in a way that allows people to relate to it. It helps customers understand who you are and why your business exists. 

For example, Green Apple Strategy was founded as a marketing and PR agency that builds marketing strategies with the entire business in mind. Rather than offering “one-off” marketing projects like creating a website or managing social media, we come alongside businesses to develop and implement marketing strategies with their “core” business areas in mind. As a result, a big part of our work has been helping businesses find their “story” and tell it effectively in today’s digital age. 


Develop a Blueprint for Memorable Brand Storytelling

After working with dozens of clients in various industries over the years, here are a few best practices we’ve learned when it comes to developing your brand’s story:

Discover your why.

To borrow the famous adage from Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Discovering your why when marketing your business should always be step one. Rather than leading with your products, services, or solutions, take a step back and examine the motivation behind your actions. It’s more than just making a profit (or at least, it should be). It’s the big, bold vision that motivates your company.  

Help your audience see themselves in your story.

While your brand story unpacks your origin and unique differentiators, it’s essential to remember that the best marketing makes your audience feel like the hero in the story. It’s important to make sure your audience can see themselves in your brand story. That means highlighting their specific challenges or obstacles and why you care about helping them solve the problem.

Make sure your brand story aligns with your business goals. 

Your brand story should align with your business goals and integrate into all areas of your business—including marketing, sales, and all internal and external communications. Potential goals to build your story around include revenue growth, clarifying what your business offers, differentiating from other companies, or growing brand awareness. 

Don’t forget to be human. 

Remember, people connect with people. Your brand story should have personality. Boring books don’t attract readers. In the same way, your brand story should be inspired by the presence of people who participate and develop your company — written with the specific personality that represents your company. 


Questions to Help With Brand Storytelling

As we work with brands, we get to know their history, unique value proposition, ideal target audience, and dreams for the future. Each of these impact the brand story we craft. While it’s important to create a unique narrative, here are a few helpful questions that could help you identify the important elements and narrative arc of your brand story: 

1. How and why was your company founded? What inspired its creation?

2. What were the specific challenges or problems your company sought to address in the market? How does that connect with the problems you seek to address today?

3. Were there any significant events, experiences, or turning points that shaped the early days of your company?

4. What were the core values, principles, or beliefs that guided the founders in establishing the company?

5. Did your company experience any transformative moments or breakthroughs that set it apart from competitors?

6. Who is your target audience? How does your product or service positively impact the lives of your customers? 

7. What is your company’s vision for the future? How do you plan to evolve and make a positive impact?


Take Your Brand Storytelling to the Next Level

Creating a compelling brand story is worth it because it becomes something to reinforce in every marketing campaign. If you’re struggling to identify a brand story or marketing message that resonates with your audience, our team can help. Reach out to our team to learn more about our process or schedule a time to chat. 

5 Ways to Maximize Your Q1 Marketing Analytics

The first quarter of the new year has passed. You’re gathering data from your marketing campaigns so you can use it to inform your next move. With so much data readily at your fingertips—from sales to social media interactions—it can be difficult to determine which data to focus on and how to use it to improve your marketing ROI.

 

Marketing analytics can help you assess the performance of your marketing campaigns, identify areas of improvement, and drive conversions. Now is the perfect time to assess your Q1 data and reports to reset or adjust your marketing goals for a successful 2023.

 

Different Types of Data

There are different types of marketing analytics insights that can be used depending on what type of information you want to gather. You could review data related to digital marketing efforts, content marketing, social media ads and interactions, customer preferences and feedback, and even competitor data. Each data source offers its own unique insight into the successes and challenges of your marketing campaigns. While data is immensely helpful to glean what worked and what didn’t, it can also help you identify ways to improve moving forward.

 

1. Know Your Sales Numbers

The first step in gathering any marketing analytics insights is to review conversions. Depending on your business, this could be leads generated or actual sales made. If these numbers are on track to meet your goals, it’s a sure sign that your marketing strategies are working. But if these numbers fall short, you can take a deep dive into your campaigns to find out what isn’t working and take the necessary steps to make a change.

 

2. Alleviate Customer Pain Points

Data from customer interactions such as sales calls, support chats, social media interactions, and onboarding calls can offer insight into your customers’ opinions about your product or service. Gathering this information can help you find out what your customers need to know in order to fully appreciate what you have to offer. For example, if they are upset over or do not fully understand a product’s complex features, you could create an informational campaign highlighting the area in question—and alleviating an otherwise frustrating experience in the process.

 

3. Beat the Competition

Digital marketing efforts make it easy to see what competitors are doing and the impact it has on customers. Take a look at your competition’s product reviews and social media pages. Make note of common themes among commenters. What do they like? What are their complaints? What type of content is getting the most interaction? Use your findings to fine-tune your own plans and stay ahead of the curve.

 

4. Determine Customer Preferences 

Knowing your customers’ pain points and assessing the competition also helps you understand what potential customers prefer. This can make it possible for you to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time. Say your product has a feature that a competitor’s product does not. You know this is a feature that can meet an unmet need for your target audience. You can use this information to craft digital marketing efforts that position your product as a much-needed solution.

 

5. Optimize Your Website

When it comes to websites, customers like an easy, user-friendly search, shopping, and checkout process. But is your website set up to optimize customer experience, or are potential buyers getting lost along the way? Knowing how your customers navigate your website can provide insight into why they may not be taking the actions you want them to take. By determining which pages users are viewing and what links they’re clicking, you can design, update, and optimize your site to keep your prospects on the right track.

 

If you’d like help maximizing your marketing efforts, contact our team today. We’d love to help develop a customized, strategic approach for your business that gets you the results you want.

5 Current Digital Marketing Trends You Should Know

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We’re only a few months into 2023, and we’ve already seen massive shifts in the tools and trends that are shaping digital marketing. After the launch of ChatGPT and Google’s new AI program, Bard, many business leaders and marketers are wondering if we are on the precipice of a seismic shift in how we work. But artificial intelligence tools from big companies aren’t the only trends that are shaping the digital landscape in 2023. Evolving consumer preferences, influencer marketing, and social media platform updates are also making a difference. 

 

That’s why we asked our digital marketing team to highlight a few of the current digital marketing trends that are shaping our industry today. 

 
1. The impact of AI is just beginning. 

As we mentioned earlier, artificial intelligence tools have been the hottest topic amongst business leaders and marketers. But really, this is just the beginning of the way AI will influence the way we work and interact. For example, Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Meta is looking to add AI tools to Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram soon. 

 

It will be interesting to see how AI continues to impact our work. Right now, these tools provide ways that marketers can work smarter. But the need for intuition and understanding what your customers think and feel is still a fundamental skill that AI can’t finesse.  

 
2. “Deinfluencing” on TikTok has become the latest influencer trend. 

Influencer marketing has become an increasingly important tactic for businesses in every industry. Platforms like TikTok have provided brands with a way to reach their audience with products or solutions, especially for Millennials and Gen Z customers. Recently, these influencers have taken a different approach by telling their followers which products they shouldn’t buy. This TikTok trend has become a marketing tactic in itself.

 

While you may not use TikTok or influencer marketing as part of your strategy, we believe this trend speaks to the way younger generations value authenticity and honesty as they consider your products and services. 

 
3. Twitter is planning to expand its character limit to 10,000.

The platform that started with short-form content is now getting into the long-form content game for its Twitter Blue subscribers. For Twitter, the vision for long-form content in the app is that creators won’t have to redirect their audiences to other platforms to view their content.

 

We’ll be interested to see if this move enhances the experience for Twitter users or if people decide to abandon the platform and continue to look for short-form social content that’s easy to consume.

 
4. Brands are turning to user-generated content more than ever and encouraging customers to post content about their brand.  

User-generated content continues to be one of the most popular B2B social media trends for 2023. Now, brands are finding creative ways to encourage their customers to post. For example, our team member Katie recently ordered OliPop from the brand’s website. After her order, she received a promotion saying that OliPop will pay customers $1 for every 50 views on their content and potentially even pay customers to create content for the brand.

 
5. Brands are going “unhinged” on social media to stand out.

Let’s face it: standing out on social media has become increasingly difficult. One way brands are trying to rise above the noise is by embracing a social media strategy that subverts their audience’s expectations. Whether it’s a snarky tweet or unusual Instagram images, brands like Duolingo, Parachute, and Sweetgreen are incorporating content that moves away from the highly-curated images and content we’re used to seeing from most brands. 

 

Want to Stay Up-to-Date on all the Latest Trends?

If there’s one lesson we’ve learned in the past three months, it’s that digital marketing seems to be shifting faster than ever. If you’re interested in staying informed about the latest trends (and how they impact your business), our team is here to help. You can sign up for The Core, our monthly newsletter, to get the latest marketing insights and inspiration delivered directly to your inbox.

Marketing and Customer Service: Improve Collaboration to Enhance Experiences

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Businesses need both marketing and customer service to survive. While each team’s day-to-day activities look very different, both play an important role in engaging clients, increasing new sales opportunities, and generating more profit.

Collaboration between your marketing department and customer service team is critical for creating a more customer-centric culture. But where do you start? In this article, we want to unpack a few helpful principles we’ve learned over the years when it comes to collaborating with our clients’ customer service teams to enhance the experience for their clientele.

3 Reasons to Cultivate Collaboration Between Marketing and Customer Service 

Before we dive into the “how,” here are a few important reasons to break down the silos between your marketing and customer service teams:  

1. It’s more profitable to retain current customers than acquire new ones.

Let’s face it. Attracting new customers is hard. It requires a lot of time, energy, and resources to engage a prospective customer all the way through the sales cycle. In fact, numerous studies have found that it is 6 to 7 times more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to keep a current one. On the other hand, a 10% increase in customer retention levels results in a 30% increase in the value of the company. Because of the role that marketing plays within the organization, it can be a valuable asset when it comes to developing an intentional retention strategy. 

2. Marketing can learn from customer service to develop smarter campaigns. 

Your service team has a front-row seat to understanding how people really feel about your products and services. They know the challenges your customers face every day. They also know how people use your solutions to make their lives better. This information can be an invaluable resource for your marketing team as they develop marketing campaigns that speak directly to the pain points of prospective customers. 

3. You offer the same personal experience and congruent messaging for your customers.

The last thing you want your clients to feel is that you only cared about closing the sale. That’s why retaining business requires as much involvement from marketing as it does from your service team. Today’s consumers expect a consistent journey from the brands they support. In fact, 78% of customers expect consistent interactions with your business from the time they first engage your brand until they become a customer. Combining the efforts of marketing and service not only benefits your customers, it ultimately impacts your bottom line. 

5 Ways Marketing and Customer Service Can Make Each Other Better

If you’re looking to create more collaboration between your marketing and service teams, here are a few best practices to consider: 

1. Ensure your product marketing resonates with new and prospective buyers. 

Creating buyer personas is an important part of building a marketing strategy. If you want your messaging to resonate, it’s important to know what prospective (or current) customers are thinking, feeling, and facing on a daily basis. Because your service team is talking to your customers all the time, they likely know more about them than any other department in your company. Make time for these two teams to work together to create buyer personas. Their collaboration will make sure your marketing materials are targeted and relevant. 

2. Leverage the expertise of your service team in your content creation.

Your customer service team also knows your products and services better than anyone else. They’re often the ones helping clients find ways to solve challenges or provide helpful information. That’s why they make incredible thought leaders within your company. Your marketing team should collaborate with your service team around content ideas to capture helpful best practices and share valuable knowledge about prospective customers. 

3. Collaborate to monitor and respond to customers on social media. 

Social media put the power of brand perception into the hands of your clients and customers. Today, people can leave comments or reviews on social media platforms, Google, or industry-specific message boards. Many times, it’s the marketing team’s responsibility to monitor these channels. But working with the customer service team is key for transforming a negative comment into a more positive experience. 

We all know when a brand’s social media response seems cold and canned. Developing a process for marketing and service to respond collaboratively, even personally reaching out to the customer through their email, can make a tremendous difference when it comes to reputation management.  

4. Capture client success stories and testimonials for marketing collateral. 

While learning from complaints is important, capturing positive feedback can be just as valuable for your marketing efforts. When customer service and marketing work together, it helps the marketing team find testimonies or case study candidates more efficiently. This is particularly helpful if you want to turn customer reviews into a solid content marketing plan for your business. 

5. Create exceptional experiences for clientele with a loyalty program or a “surprise and delight” campaign. 

Your service team spends most of its time “in the weeds,” supporting customers. Finding the time or mental capacity to consider outside-the-box ways to strengthen the bond with clients can be difficult. As a department that’s generally known for being more creative, your marketing team can help enhance your customer experience with surprise and delight efforts. 

Despite having different job responsibilities, marketing and customer teams share common goals of attracting and converting new visitors into customers and providing exceptional service to retain those customers. To learn more about how we can help your internal teams cross-pollinate, reach out to schedule a meeting with us.

Marketing & Operations: 4 Keys to Successful Scalability

People sitting around a conference table with laptops

One of today’s business realities is that everything is marketing. Gone are the days when marketing and sales worked in their own silo. The effectiveness of your marketing department impacts other departments. At the same time, other departments have a direct impact on areas of marketing such as brand perception or customer experience.  

Over the years at Green Apple, we’ve found the connection between marketing and operations is one of the most important relationships in a business. On one hand, successful marketing should lead to more customers. More customers will naturally impact operational needs. On the other hand, many operations teams make decisions that directly impact marketing needs. Whether you’re the CEO of a company or a leader of a specific department, it’s essential to ensure both teams work together so that your company can thrive.

4 Keys to Successful Scalability with Marketing & Operations 

Here are a few specific ways marketing and operations can collaborate. That way, marketing is focused on the right areas of growth, and operations have what they need to scale the business:

1. Define your ideal customer. 

Operations are responsible for ensuring your company can fulfill the business it generates. Unfortunately, most marketing departments are only focused on generating leads… not how you’re going to serve them through the sales pipeline.  

When marketing and operations align, marketing understands the company’s capabilities and what it takes to follow through on what’s promised. This can help significantly when it comes to defining your ideal customer for better lead generation results

2. Align your technology and tools to optimize your processes. 

Most businesses function on an array of various technology platforms and software tools. In some cases, there might be more than a dozen platforms that support your marketing, sales, and operational efforts. While it’s not essential for there to be a seamless integration between all of your tools, it’s important to make sure the core components of your marketing technology stack are aligned with operational tools. 

When marketing and operations align in their technology strategy, they can run the race faster and farther for successful, scalable marketing.

3. Leverage data from both teams to make more informed decisions.

We have access to more data than ever before. Every marketing campaign provides dozens of analytics that can be measured. At the same time, the operations team has insights that can inform customer needs and marketing investment. But we all know there’s a difference between reporting on analytics and creating a data-driven culture for growing your businesses.

How can marketing and operations make sure they are collecting data in ways that can be used by everyone? Both teams need to agree on key business objectives and define which metrics are most helpful in evaluating success. 

4. Create open lines of communication between both teams

Effective communication breeds collaboration. That’s why consistent and candid conversations between the marketing and operations teams are vital. It’s not enough for marketing and operations to simply meet once a year or only collaborate if there’s a PR crisis. 

Instead, there needs to be a consistent feedback loop between marketing and operations. Operations can provide marketers with insight into what customers value. Marketing can inform operations about what’s being said about your business online. 

Need Help Getting Marketing & Operations on the Same Page?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that you can’t create your marketing plan in a vacuum. As we work alongside clients to develop a marketing strategy, we’ve found that having operations in the room for important marketing discussions is key to building a plan that supports your entire business. 

A rising tide should lift all boats without causing one to capsize. If you’re struggling to get marketing and operations on the same page, our team can help. Schedule a discovery call to learn more about the specific ways our team can help you design a marketing strategy that supports every area of your business.

How Businesses Can Use TikTok for Marketing

Photo of a phone on TikTok's TikTok profile on the screen

There’s no denying that TikTok has become the social media platform that’s garnished the most attention within the past couple of years. And it looks like it will continue to be one of the B2B social media trends in 2023 that businesses should consider. Whether you personally love it or hate it, business leaders and marketers are wrestling with the question, “Does our company need to be on TikTok?” 

As with any social media platform, investing in TikTok for marketing really comes down to whether it can help you reach and cultivate relationships with your potential customers. It’s also important to note that TikTok will continue to change and evolve as more innovations roll out, so you’ll have to stay updated on the changes to this platform.

4 Ways Businesses Can Use TikTok for Marketing

As we’ve worked alongside clients to determine how they can use TikTok for marketing, we’ve found a few helpful tactics that seem to work best for businesses. If you’re looking for a way to leverage TikTok for your brand, here are a few ideas to consider based on the latest trends: 

1. Post Educational Content 

TikTok can be a great way to educate current and potential customers with helpful insights about your products, services, or industry. According to Vidyard’s 2021 Video Benchmarks report, the most common types of business videos are product demos, followed by how-tos and explainers. Because of its visual nature, TikTok provides a way for you to create informational videos at a relatively low cost. You don’t have to invest in expensive cameras or editing software if you have someone with an engaging personality who is good at keeping people’s attention and teaching your audience. 

2. Find Your Target Audience 

One of the unique features of TikTok is the subcultures and threads that have been created around specific industries and areas of interest. For example, #BookTok and #MoneyTok are two distinct subcultures that make it easy for users to connect with like-minded people who share their interests and passions. One of the best ways to reach new customers on TikTok might be to invest time in developing a presence in a particular subculture that aligns with your business or industry. 

3. Invest in Influencer Marketing 

Sometimes the best TikTok strategy isn’t creating your own content but instead partnering with influencers who have already built an audience. The platform has proven to be a creative incubator for rising thought leaders and industry influencers. If you recognize that there is potential in reaching your target audience on TikTok, but you don’t have the time or resources to launch your own channel, it’s worth exploring how to identify and connect with influencers to promote your brand.  

4. Share “Behind-the-Scenes” Content 

In addition to providing the opportunity to educate customers, TikTok is also a social media platform that can humanize your brand. While every social media platform was created to help humans connect with one another, content that businesses create for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can still feel very corporate and sterile. In many ways, TikTok opens the door to reconnecting with your audience in a way that feels authentic and not overly formal. You might consider sharing “behind the scenes” content for your brand or creating a “day in the life” video that features an employee. You can also collaborate with current customers or community members to feature their videos on your profile.

Social Media Best Practices when Using TikTok for Marketing

As with any social media platform, it’s important to understand what makes marketing on TikTok effective. Here are a few basic best practices to follow when creating videos for TikTok: 

1. Make sure your content is authentic and represents your brand.

Becoming a thought leader in your industry requires authenticity and approachability, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Humorous, light, fun content works really well on TikTok. 

2. Engage with your followers so they feel valued. 

One way to increase engagement is to interact with your audience directly on the platform. People love to feel valued and heard.

3. Use data to consistently evaluate your investment

While you may not experience instant success, it’s important to always ask yourself, “Is this helping us work towards our larger marketing goals and objectives?” Asking the right questions to evaluate your social media content is an important way to make sure you’re maximizing your ROI.  

4. Test often to see what works and what doesn’t. 

You may be surprised by which ideas work and which ones fall flat. Don’t be afraid to experiment. 

While we don’t recommend TikTok to every client, it might be the best way for your business to get outside of your comfort zone this year. Once you’re ready to dive in, don’t forget to use TikTok Analytics to evaluate the success of your social media strategy and identify the type of content that can get you the greatest results.

How to Strategically Think About Your Annual Marketing Budget

Overhead shot of a group looking at charts

Creating and getting approval for your annual marketing budget is one of the most important (and often difficult) tasks for an in-house marketing team. It takes a lot of time to analyze results from the previous year, gather anticipated costs for new ideas, and finalize a budget that works within the limits of your business. The challenge becomes even greater in seasons of economic uncertainty, and the threat of a recession can create budget cuts at any point.

Over the past decade, we’ve had the opportunity to walk with dozens of clients through the budgeting process. We’ve helped start-ups looking for creative ways to maximize their resources. We’ve helped million-dollar companies navigate uncertainty during the pandemic and make marketing budget decisions during a recession. If you think of an issue or question, we’ve likely faced it. 

How to Strategically Think About Your Annual Marketing Budget

For this article, we’ve asked Senior Client Relations Specialist Marcie Prescott to share the wisdom and insight she’s learned from decades of experience developing marketing budgets. Here are the four best practices that Marcie shared to help you think more strategically about your annual marketing budget. Her tips can help ensure you stay on track toward your goals: 

1. Make sure your budget is connected to your objectives, goals, and key metrics. 

Your marketing budget should be closely integrated with your annual marketing plan. Every line item in your budget should be connected to a tactic. It’s also important to identify the success metrics you’re going to use to determine if your investment was worth it. 

If you can’t look at your budget and answer, “What are we wanting to achieve with this investment?” then take a step back and clarify your annual marketing goals and objectives.  

2. Recognize the common pitfalls that sink your marketing budget.

A big part of managing your budget is knowing what obstacles and roadblocks to avoid. Here are a few common pitfalls that can sink your marketing budget:

  • Failing to identify your target market and audience. It doesn’t matter how big your marketing budget is if you don’t connect with potential customers. 
  • Putting too much effort into big budget marketing efforts. If you’re gambling with your marketing budget, you’re doing it wrong. Instead, it’s important to diversify your marketing spend so that you’re not putting too many eggs in one basket. 
  • Underestimating the amount of work involved in a marketing campaign. It’s easy to develop an annual marketing strategy and budget without recognizing all of the time, energy, and resources that it will take to implement. Before you finalize your budget, it’s important to ask, “Can we really do this?” Getting input from your team is also important.
3. View your marketing budget as a fluid asset. 

If there’s one lesson we’ve learned, it’s that your budget should be a fluid document that is reviewed and updated regularly. Neither your annual marketing strategy nor your budget should be written in stone. You can pivot your marketing without abandoning your entire strategy and make necessary changes to your budget. 

Fluid marketing budgets allow companies to redirect marketing to tactics that perform well and channels that suddenly offer new opportunities. This is even more important during a recession, when potential cuts may be required. 

4. Embrace a mindset of continuous improvement toward your strategy and budget.

Marketers should constantly be learning, testing new ideas, and finding ways to maximize the ROI of their budget. Rather than using last year’s budget or “institutional wisdom” to drive your decisions, embrace a mindset of continuous improvement to develop a marketing budget based on where your business is headed. Just because something worked well five years ago doesn’t mean that it’s the best way to connect with today’s customers.

You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to be more strategic with your marketing budget. Whether the year is winding to a close or just getting underway, it’s always a good time to think about your budget and consider how you can be more strategic with the resources you’ve allocated.