Green Apple Strategy’s Samantha Pyle developed an innovative work model to benefit clients, employees and contract talent. The team shares lessons learned as a hybrid agency.Continue reading
Connecting to our Community: Thistle Farms
Generosity and making an impact on our Nashville community are two values that shape our work at Green Apple Strategy. We don’t want to be an agency that’s simply known for our work. We want to be known for making a positive difference in our community. From the founding of our company we’ve offered pro bono services to nonprofits and organizations serving people across Tennessee. We’ve also encouraged our team to take time off to pursue volunteer opportunities. Our new partnership with Thistle Farms in Nashville combines both of those values into a relationship we’re excited to grow.
Thistle Farm’s Mission & Impact in Nashville (and Beyond)
Thistle Farms is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to helping women survivors recover and heal from prostitution, sex trafficking, and addiction. The organization was founded in 2001 to offer women sisterhood and a safe place to heal. Today, it supports hundreds of women across our community by providing a safe place to live, meaningful work, and other resources to gain financial independence. The organization has become a staple of our community in Nashville and is widely known for its remarkable self-care products and welcoming cafe.
The company also supports women around the world through its social enterprise efforts that span 21 countries and support 1,400 artisans through product sales and small business development.
Green Apple’s Desire to Help Them Grow
While there are dozens of incredible nonprofit organizations in our area, we were particularly inspired by the way Thistle Farms raises up women in our community. Their mission is to empower women who have been through extremely difficult times. Thistle Farms’ commitment to helping individuals get back on their feet resonated with our whole team.
Green Apple began volunteering with Thistle Farms in 2022. As our relationship has grown, we wanted to provide additional support. Currently, we’re collaborating with leadership to envision how we can deepen our commitment through quarterly team volunteer days and ways to serve their mission.
Thistle Farms has helped thousands of women flourish because its leadership recognizes that healing love is the strongest force for change in the world. It’s an honor to partner with such an incredible organization.
Mood Boards: The Secret to Successful Branding & Creative Marketing
Branding and creativity are two core elements of successful marketing. While most people think the creative direction is the fun part of marketing, the reality is that making a final decision on creative elements for clients is hard work. You have to consider brand perception and how to differentiate your client from competitors. Getting everyone aligned around a final decision can also be challenging.
Over the years, we’ve learned a few tips and tricks to navigate the complicated creative process. Mood boards have become one of our favorite tools. Mood boards can be a valuable tool whether you’re looking to refresh your entire marketing plan or find the next angle for your marketing campaign.
What is a mood board and why are they effective?
In short, a mood board is a visual representation of ideas gathered from a variety of sources to help you find the best idea for your creative marketing project.
While most companies utilize mood boards for big branding projects, they can also be helpful when redesigning your website, developing your social media calendar, or for something as simple as designing a company t-shirt.
Here are a few reasons why we love using mood boards with our clients:
1. Find and cultivate inspiration.
The best creative ideas come from collaboration. Because everyone has a unique perspective, certain images, words, or colors might resonate differently with your audience. Mood boards provide a way to capture a variety of ideas that can help you build a creative campaign that reaches different audiences
2. Get everyone on the same page.
Collaboration is an essential part of marketing. Ideas need to be heard and considered by every member. A mood board supports the collaboration process by providing a framework for people to operate within. It provides clarity within the collaboration process that ensures everyone is working in the same direction.
3. Ensure you’re developing a cohesive approach.
It’s important for your marketing to tell a cohesive story. Mood boards help by allowing you to see how various elements work together to develop a narrative.
4. Make it easier to gain buy-in from stakeholders.
Making a final decision can be one of the most challenging aspects of a branding or creative project. Your design team could work for hours only to get an idea nixed by the CEO or final decision-maker. A mood board mitigates that risk by gaining buy-in early on in the process. It also provides a more visually appealing way to present your ideas. Mood boards can help you explain your ideas or direction in ways that words can’t.
How to Create a Mood Board
There’s no one right way to create a mood board. But here are a few helpful steps to maximize your effectiveness:
1. Find a tool that works for your team.
It’s important to find an approach that works best for your team. You can create a physical mood board in your office. There are also a variety of online tools that make it easy to create digital mood boards. These are helpful if you’re working remotely or hiring a freelance designer for your project.
2. Define your goal and audience.
Taking a moment to identify who you’re trying to reach and what you’re trying to achieve can provide clarity for your team. Doing this on the front end can help save a lot of time and ensure everyone is working in the same direction.
3. Identify elements to include in your mood board.
What you include in your mood board will depend on the nature of your project. Most mood boards include images that convey the look and feel you’re hoping to recreate with the final product of that project. But you can also add colors, font families, or certain keywords or phrases that capture what you’re trying to communicate.
4. Invite others to share inspiration.
Once you’ve set some parameters, it’s time to invite others into the collaboration process. Encourage participants to include anything they find that feels like a visual representation of your brand. While this might come more naturally for some than others, don’t discount the feedback and perspective from people you might not consider to be the most creative individuals on your team. Invite everyone to look for marketing inspiration that is all around them.
5. Identify trends.
After everyone has had a chance to add ideas, it’s time to start narrowing your focus. Are there certain visuals or elements that seem to stand out more than others? What elements might work well together and appeal to your audience? Take this time to cut any ideas that might seem out of place.
6. Balance a final decision with continued inspiration.
Once you feel like you’ve narrowed down your mood board to its final stage, ask yourself: Does this provide enough clarity and direction to begin executing our project? If so, you’re ready to get started.
As an aside, some companies curate mood boards to capture ideas on a regular basis. These can be helpful to use as guideposts for driving brand and design decisions in the future.
Feel stuck in your branding efforts or creative marketing project? Our team can help. Connect with Green Apple to learn more about our unique process. We’d love to discuss your needs and develop a strategy based on where you want to go.
4 Creative Ways to Be More Agile & Effective with Marketing in 2020
4 Creative Ways to Be More Agile & Effective with Marketing in 2020So how can you be more agile in your marketing efforts this year? Here are a few creative practices you can consider:
- Shorten the planning process for your campaigns. If you typically plan the whole year, instead, consider planning the first six months. If you plan by quarters, try six-week campaigns. Shortening the length of your planning process will cause you to systematize the way you evaluate campaigns with a more agile approach.
- Make sure you’re continually looking at the data to analyze campaigns. Companies that adopt data-driven marketing are six times more likely to be profitable year-over-year. By letting data be the diplomat, you will be able to see what’s working and what’s not.
- Set weekly stand-up meetings with key leaders. Communication is the key to agile marketing. One recommendation I often give is to conduct 15-minute check-ins with the team to briefly discuss work from the previous day, in addition to plans for that day. This strategy allows you to address any hiccups and resolve them as quickly as possible.
- Celebrate collaboration and teamwork. A team that enjoys working together will be more willing to embrace an agile approach. In closed teams, it’s easy for people to start pointing fingers at the other. But creating a culture of collaboration and teamwork will cultivate an environment where everyone is willing to work together despite their differences or setbacks to accomplish a goal.
3 Ways to Earn the Trust & Attention of B2B Customers
3 Ways to Earn the Trust & Attention of B2B CustomersIf you’re a B2B company, here are three specific ways you can earn more trust and attention from today’s customers:
- Create the same kind of personal and relevant experience as the best B2C companies.
- Create an experience that matches your brand promise.
- Leverage transparency as a marketing strategy.
How to Leverage Employee Advocacy to Boost Your Marketing Strategy
How to Leverage Employee Advocacy to Boost Your Marketing StrategyWhether you’re trying to create a full-blown program or your looking for simple ways to encourage employees to promote your brand, here are a few tactics you can use to boost your marketing strategy with employee advocacy:
- Extend your brand’s organic reach and visibility. More than likely, there are individual employees in your company who naturally understand how to effectively use social media. Harnessing their influence is a great way to expand the organic reach and visibility of your brand. This might include creating a social media task force or allowing employee influencers to coach others in your company on how to use social media for business.
- Equip your employees to be an extension of your business development team. In today’s world, every employee is a representative of your brand, so essentially, everyone in your company has a marketing role. Making sure everyone in your company knows how to answer questions typically directed to marketing is a simple and easy way to integrate the mentality that everyone has a role in marketing across your organization.
- Empower your employees by creating content they want to share. There are a lot of things marketing can do to enhance company culture. One simple way is to focus on creating assets, resources, and newsworthy content that your employees want to share. Rather than forcing employees to promote your content on social media, what would it look like to create content they can’t wait to share with their networks?
- Mobilize your influencers. In today’s digital world, your brand’s social media isn’t a job for one person. The key is to create a system that leverages the collective effort of various people, even though social media might not be in their job descriptions. While you might have one person who owns the responsibility of improving your brand’s social media presence, making sure he or she isn’t doing it alone is critical to success.
Green Apple Named Among 8 Best Marketing Consultants in Nashville by Expertise
How Green Apple Was Selected as One of the Best Marketing Consultants in NashvilleExpertise.com is one of the leading online research platforms designed to feature businesses that have been identified by its research process as the best in a specific city or area. Its proprietary research and selection process has been used to identify the top service professionals in over 200 different industries across the top cities in the United States. Each month, Expertise.com helps over 10 million customers find the best qualified service professionals for their needs. To date, the Expertise.com has analyzed over 10 million companies. For identifying the best marketing consultants in Nashville, Expertise.com started with a list of 139 different marketing agencies, scoring them on more than 25 variables across five categories:
- Reputation—A history of delighted customers and outstanding service
- Credibility—Building customer confidence with licensing, accreditations, and awards
- Expertise—Masters of their craft, based on years of practical experience and education
- Availability—Consistently approachable and responsive, so customers never feel ignored
- Professionalism—Providing service with honesty, reliability, and respect
Experience the Green Apple Difference for YourselfIf you’re looking for marketing support, we’d love to connect and show you why we were ranked as one of the best marketing agencies in town. Here are a few specific ways our team at Green Apple can help:
- Green Apple Strategy—As a full-service marketing agency, we can mold our marketing practices around your business to help you be successful. Whether it’s strategy, design, content development, digital marketing, media relations, paid search, or SEO, we take a hands-on approach to delivering custom marketing services that demand results.
- The Orchard House—Whether you’re looking for a space to host your next retreat, brainstorming session, team training, presentation, or meeting, The Orchard House is the ideal environment to help you and your business flourish. The Green Apple Strategy team is also available to host a variety of strategic planning and learning sessions.
- The SEO Silo—The SEO Silo is Green Apple’s latest project to help local businesses maximize their search efforts. Over the past several years, our team has helped our clients dramatically increase brand awareness and improve lead generation through our SEO services. At the same time, we recognize there are many businesses who could use help but might not be able to hire a full-service marketing agency. The SEO Silo is our answer.
How Marketing Can Directly Impact Revenue with Sales Enablement
Directly tying your marketing efforts to revenue generation is a challenge for almost every business leader and marketing manager. In today’s world, there are so many factors that influence a potential customer’s decision, so utilizing proper marketing tactics is essential. It’s the only way to know if the time, energy, and resources you invest are making an impact on the bottom line.
One of the simplest and most effective ways for marketing to directly impact revenue is to focus on sales enablement. Essentially, sales enablement is equipping your business development team with assets that make them more efficient and effective. This includes content that helps prospects to answer the questions they ask, solve their problems, and build the case internally with their team.
But, what’s the best thing about sales enablement? All of it can be tracked, measured, and attributed to the bottom line.
How to Create Sales-Enablement Tools That Directly Impact Revenue
How can marketing equip your sales team with resources that make them smarter and more efficient and effective? Here are a few important considerations when creating your sales-enablement assets:
- Sales Enablement That Answers Potential Customers’ Biggest Questions. The most effective sales-enablement tools proactively answer the questions of prospective customers. This includes assets such as answers to frequently asked questions, at-a-glance competitor comparisons, and statistics that add credibility.
- Sales Enablement That Comes in Different Formats. Every customer is different in how they prefer to consume content. The good news is that you don’t have to create all of these resources from scratch. Re-organizing the content you create into various formats is one of the simplest ways to maximize your content marketing efforts. Equipping your sales team with content in various formats such as ebooks, case studies, blog posts, videos, webinars, and infographics is key.
- Sales Enablement That Is Easy to Find and Simple to Use. Sales enablement tools are effective if your business development team actually uses them. That’s why it’s critically important to create sales enablement tools that your team can use. Make sure everything you create is easily accessible, consumable, and shareable.
- Sales Enablement That Makes Your Business Development Team More Efficient. Marketing automation and technology have opened the door for new levels of sales enablement. Not only can you create resources for sales to use, but you can also send it on their behalf. Finding simple ways to leverage marketing automation to support your sales team will save them a tremendous amount of time and enable them to focus on having meaningful conversations with potential customers.
The great thing about sales enablement is that all of it can be tracked. You can see what potential customers are consuming. You can know what content is influencing their decisions. You can share that information with your sales team to help them be even more effective. While marketing might not be able to take complete credit for “closing the deal,” empowering your business development team with sales-enablement tools that can be tracked and measured is a meaningful way to directly tie your marketing efforts to the bottom line.
How to Discover What Customers Think Without Asking Them
Here’s something that successful businesses recognize in today’s increasingly noisy world: To earn the attention of potential customers, you must truly understand what they think. This is why empathy is more important than ever for marketers. Without taking the time to understand what motivates your audience to take action, you run the risk of simply creating noise.
Many businesses are trying to get inside the minds of potential customers by asking more intentional questions during the sales process. That’s a great first step, but it only provides a small sample size. What happens when you can’t ask every single customer what they think and feel about every little situation surrounding your products and services?
This is where taking time, whether it’s an entire day or a two-hour brainstorming session, to consider how customers think and feel can be incredibly valuable for your team.
5 Questions to Discover How Customers Think Without Asking Them
As you look to put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a day, here are a few questions to unlock what they might be thinking when it comes to your products or services:
- What do your customers say and do? Think about a typical day in the life of your customer. What do they spend their time doing? How do they behave in different settings—with their boss, with coworkers, and with friends and family? These questions help you think about all the different decisions they might have to make in the course of the day.
- What do your customers think and feel? Now that you’ve considered their day, it’s time to consider how those activities and decisions make them feel. What are their dreams, worries, and daily emotions? What makes them happy, sad, scared, emotional, and angry?
- What do your customers hear? Think about all the various ways your customers gather information. Who do they hear from? What media are they influenced by? What are the primary messages they’re being bombarded with day after day? Knowing this can help you identify how to reach them and rise above the noise.
- What are their biggest challenges every day? What frustrations and stresses do they encounter daily? What risks and threats do they face? Knowing the fears your customers experience allows you to speak into the various ways your brand can help resolve them.
- What opportunities exist if they succeed? All customers have heroes in the stories of their minds—and it’s not your brand. It’s them. What do they need to be successful and achieve their goals? How do they measure success? Knowing what will make them feel like even bigger heroes is a powerful way to capture their attention.
As you and your team walk through these questions, write down every single answer you think of. Look for patterns. Most importantly, don’t forget to use the answers to these questions whenever you’re considering new products and services, crafting new marketing materials, and so forth. These questions will ensure that your deliverables resonate with your customers.
How to Pivot Your Marketing without Abandoning Your Entire Strategy
As the owner of a marketing agency, I’m constantly getting emails from frustrated business leaders asking for help. They’re discouraged because their marketing isn’t working. But, they also want to know what adjustments they could make to start gaining traction again. We also see this with our own clients—when certain tactics take time to pay off or other strategies don’t produce the results we thought would happen.
Most businesses can’t throw out their entire marketing strategy and start over from scratch. They’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and resources into their long-term plan. And, most of the time, I encourage them NOT to throw the baby out with the bath water. What they need involves finding a way to course-correct and stay on track to meet their goals.
How to Pivot Your Marketing Strategy
So, how do you balance the short-term course corrections without abandoning your long-term strategy and larger objectives? Here are a few principles I’ve seen work really well for our clients at Green Apple:
1. Build short-term adjustments into your long-term plan.
One reason course corrections can be so frustrating is because we don’t plan for them. But, if you’ve been in marketing for more than five minutes, you know things don’t always go according to plan. You can do all the due diligence, and a strategy might still fall flat.
One way to avoid the frustration of course-corrections is to proactively plan for them. Recognize there will be three to four course corrections you must make each year, and build margin into your strategy. Actually include them in part of your annual planning process. When you assume the worst and recognize there will be marketing campaigns that fall flat, you can be more proactive about building in short-term adjustments into your long-term plan.
2. Set aside a portion of your budget for testing new ideas and tactics.
Marketing is always evolving and changing. If you rely on the same strategies year after year, you’ll pay for it down the road. Therefore, it’s important to constantly test new ideas and tactics that help you reach potential customers.
A good rule of thumb is to reserve at least 5-10% of your budget for testing and learning. Whatever number you land on, it’s important to reserve funds for testing marketing tactics that could improve short-term results and provide insights for future campaigns.
3. Make it a priority to constantly measure performance and leverage data in your decision-making.
Creating a data-driven culture where everyone understands the value of data is a crucial aspect of marketing. Constantly measuring the performance of each campaign will help you know when to pivot before it’s too late. As you gather data over time, you should be able to develop a more effective long-term strategy. Ideating around strategy is fun, but measuring results leads to growth. With discipline, you can deliver both.
Bottom line: Long-term planning and short-term course corrections are both essential when it comes to effective marketing. If you are frustrated because your marketing isn’t working, make sure to evaluate which short-term methods can be executed quickly and are proven to have an immediate impact.