Category Archives: Fostering Ideas Newsletter

Build Your Personal Social Brand

By Ambika Kashi Singh
Digital Content Coordinator

In a world where everyone from Beyoncé to President Trump is breaking their own news via Instagram and Twitter, building your personal social brand has power. With social media tools easily accessible via multiple platforms, you can Tweet from your phone, Snapchat on your tablet while watching TV or keep in touch with contacts around the world from your desk. 

Building your personal social brand is a valuable and cost-effective method to add to your online presence, allowing you to instantly connect with business contacts, build credibility and exhibit thought leadership as an expert in your field, as well as build trust for your business.
 
Social media should not be an afterthought. Building a personal brand takes commitment – and time. Make a plan for how frequently you will send out messages and engage with your target audience. Being consistent and committed to your social effort will help you build a following.

As you plan, consider what platform will work best for you and the type of messages you will share. Research which platform or platforms are best suited for you, your industry and your voice. Use your social messages strategically and integrate with real-life connections to draw in your target audience.
 
Don’t try to be everywhere at once. LinkedIn is a business must-have, although with 1.86 billion users, Facebook is still the platform with the largest user base. It is useful for reaching very specific audiences and gaining customer feedback and is becoming more and more popular for business networking.

Unless you have compelling visual or video content, you may not need to jump into YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram or Snapchat right away.

Alternatively, if you have mostly visual content or tend to be long-winded, Twitter may not be the best outlet for you. Once you find the best platform for you, be consistent in your post frequency, timing and personal voice. Consistency is key!

Find your niche and work on perfecting it. As with building any brand, the substance and perception of your message is vital. Decide early on what your personal brand should say to people; and with whom you want to engage. As you brainstorm content ideas, keep your personal brand mission and your target audience in mind. Once you get started and begin receiving feedback from followers, you can add different types of content and expand your focus, but always keep your audience in mind. Treat your social content like a conversation with a specific person or group to ensure you engage the right audience and grow your personal social brand. 

Be authentic. In personal branding, it is crucial to let the real you shine. Your connections and followers want to hear from you. Honesty and transparency are highly valued online, and other users can tell the difference. The trend toward live, unfiltered content is proof of this. Use your personality to your advantage. If you’re funny or creative, let your voice come through.

People associate you with your company and are connecting with you online because they consider you to be the expert and want to talk to a real human, rather than a brand.

We all crave human-to-human interaction and, as far as your bottom line is concerned, that is still how sales are made. By engaging in social media on a personal level, beyond your company’s profile, you will take your company’s online presence to the next level.
 
Listen first and be timely. Social media is a powerful source for relevant news and insightful articles. It’s an easy way to stay up to date on what’s going on in your industry because you can choose whom to follow or which specific groups to join. It’s also a space where you should share your accomplishments and what you’ve been working on.

It’s okay to plug yourself or your company as long as you’re also engaging with your business contacts and followers online. Be empathetic, like and share their articles, answer their questions, ask for feedback, start conversations with people you’d like to connect with. Respond to things in a timely manner. Social media is all about an instant give-and-take conversation; that’s how you build a following and make your personal social brand stand out.
 
Connect online and in real life. Networking and attending shows and industry events can help grow your personal social brand. Using a hashtag for an event or show can group your content and help you connect with a specific audience. Like, follow and comment on posts from others in your target audience. These interactions, if done thoughtfully, will likely be reciprocated, and help to boost your online personal brand. If you’re showing thought leadership in your online presence, chances are you will be a more likely candidate to speak and present at shows and events or to give quotes for industry publications as an expert in your field.
 
Build a network and become a thought leader. If you are an expert in your industry and have interesting information and insights to share, LinkedIn or Facebook groups are the perfect places. Seek out a handful of professional groups that are relevant to your target audience and join. Don’t join too many, so that you can actually keep up with them and contribute often.

Mid-size groups (a couple hundred to a thousand members) work best so that your posts are not getting lost in the shuffle, but still reach a sizable group of people. Some professional groups have strict rules about what to post, so be sure to pay attention to that and abide by the rules. Again, be empathetic and engaging.

When appropriate, feel free to share your own ideas, links to articles, blog posts, whitepapers, etc., and ask questions.

If you’re an enigmatic presenter or already have a podcast or webcast in the works, share relevant and interesting audio and videos. You may eventually become a leader within the group. Others will look to you and your personal social brand for expert guidance, and you’ll connect with people you may not have otherwise.
 
Building your personal social brand takes time, but it is a low-cost investment that can be extremely rewarding. With the proper planning, commitment and time dedicated to your personal branding effort, you and your company will reap lasting benefits.

Let Foster Marketing help grow your company’s social media reach. Contact us today. Call us at 281-448-3435.

The Benefits of Moving Your Marketing Efforts From Your Desktop to the Doorstep of an Agency

By Megan SchreckenbachVice President of Account Services

Dale is a business owner. He is energized by and enthralled with his work. Dale knows his strengths. To keep things going and ultimately growing, Dale has somehow managed to not only oversee his sales team and strategic plan for growing his business, but also trying to come up with marketing tactics to support his vision … and he’s quickly learning what he’s NOT good at. He finds himself wishing he had marketing minds on his team… who love what they do as much as he does.

Alex is the lone wolf running his company’s marketing “department” – if you could actually call it that. And if by “running” you mean being asked to do absolutely everything, including some accounting and HR duties on occasion… then yes, he’s running it. Each day he has to decide which looming deadline gets his attention first, with 10 others close behind. Alex is too busy to be strategic, much less stress brand consistency throughout the company. He needs support… and he knows it.

Alicia has an internal marketing team at her disposal… and she’s grateful for the support they provide. She’s become a pretty good delegator, once a team member is properly trained and proven his/her ability to deliver what she expects. Nevertheless, it seems each of her team members is maxed out or doesn’t have the exact skill set needed. Plus, her ongoing problem has been measuring their efforts. She knows deep down that she’s not able to deliver the exposure the company needs on her own. She could use some fresh eyes in her camp.

Perhaps you can identify with one or more of the folks/people/marketers above… or perhaps you think you have it all under control. In either case, marketing is increasingly responsible for more and more… more productivity, more effectiveness, more leads, more sales. Marketing teams feel strapped with limited resources, smaller budgets and a lack of available training.

So here’s a few reasons why you should look beyond your desktop and four walls and land on the doorstep of an ad agency or marketing communications firm:

  1. Fresh Eyes and a Fresh Perspective: No matter how deep you find yourself in a company or a specific project, you just simply can’t see everything all the time. It’s just not realistic. And, often times, a person inside can be guilty of being “too close” to the situation or find themselves losing sight of the big picture. Working with a team on the “outside” helps to alter your perspective in healthy ways and bring new ideas, vision and impressions…ultimately elevating your performance.
  2. Measurable Results:Agencies have active and ongoing methods for measuring return on investment in all different media. Identifying goals and objectives at the beginning of a given project provides for the most comprehensive and effective measurement of results. The outcomes discovered provide insight into understanding the audience and the tactics most effective for reaching the desired outcomes.
  3. A TEAM of Professionals Who Love What They Do: You might not understand the necessity and strategy behind social media marketing – don’t worry – Kristy manages a multitude of channels every hour. You may not know the first thing about backlit graphics or international trade show freight – not a problem – Lindsay coordinates international exhibits across the globe. Don’t know the rules for writing how the media wants to see it, breathe easy because Anna pores over it. The agency is full of professionals both trained and effective in their areas of expertise… using their passion for the success of clients. Using an agency gives you access to a TEAM of experts … all working for you!
  4. Cost Advantages: An agency doesn’t have to be on-boarded, trained or managed. The hiring and training process for bringing in a new employee is both time consuming and costly … not to mention payroll and benefit costs. With an agency coming on, there is no management, no training and even no office space to deal with. Eliminating this on-boarding process and with limited learning curve, you are free to tackle other duties. The single hire of an agency equates to adding decades of knowledge and expertise to your team in one fell swoop.
  5. Industry Insiders: The agency has an advantage with a network of industry contacts — local, national, international and industry-specific relationships cultivated through years of networking and mutual respect. An agency can often accomplish in one phone call what an individual would take days to get done. With an agency partnership, you put these powerful relationships in your company’s arsenal.

To sum it up, a good working relationship with an agency not only yields outstanding creative results; it adds an entirely new dimension to your marketing game. The agency becomes an extension of your team – albeit with a fresh perspective – bringing years of specialized experience and industry knowledge and relationships.

Let Foster Marketing be part of your team. Contact us today. Call us at 281-448-3435.

marketing partner

Amp Up Your Next Presentation

By Foster Marketing Staff

No matter where you’re presenting – to an oilfield conference, your company’s board of directors or your blog or Twitter group, adding a little something extra could make a significant impact.
 
What is it that causes a group to remember one person’s presentation and quickly forget another’s? The style and content may not even be all that unique. With similar content, something else makes the difference: the way content is presented.  

The First Question

The first question to ask when planning a presentation is to determine what your story will be. Stay out of the presentation software until you’ve done the hard work and you have something really great to present.
 
Once you’ve assembled a great story, now it’s time to decide how to present your ideas. If you’re thinking your next step is developing your standard PowerPoint slide show, it may be time to rethink your presentation options.
 
Slide decks are yesterday’s presentation method. What could be more boring than watching a dull, uninspired slide deck inherited from the last presenter? Sure, it’s possible to teach that way, but it’s no fun – and not very memorable. Unless your audience is taking notes, your presentation will soon be a distant memory.
 
We are constantly exposed to fantastic videos, animations and visual creativity – in movies, video clips, commercials and even Internet posts. So, with an audience inundated with creative stimuli, how do you make your presentation as exciting and memorable as your presentation content?

Amp Up Your Presentation

Build Excitement

Think about the memorable presentations you’ve attended. What was different? Maybe the speaker was more animated and didn’t rely on slides. Maybe he or she engaged the audience in a lively conversation or introduced a game. When your audience takes an active role, the information sticks.
 
Speeches are a lot more fun to watch when the speaker is energized and engaging. People also pay closer attention and retain more. Chances are if you’ve ever fallen asleep during a presentation, the presenter’s style had more to do with it than the content. Following are some ways to spice up your presentation:

  • Don’t overdo it. Don’t overuse gestures and body language or do goofy things to get the audience’s attention like shout or throw excess humor into your presentation. Simply be excited about your presentation and do what feels natural.
  • Excitement and enthusiasm. The pair can make a good speech great, and sometimes even help overcome less exciting subject matter. Be excited about your topic and the fact that you’re able to share it with your audience to keep them engaged. Figure out what excites you about the topic and use it to fuel your presentation.
  • You’ve worked hard. It feels good to present something you’ve worked hard on. If you’ve taken the time to prepare and practice, your confidence and commitment to the effort will show.
  • Explore new content flows. Find a way to tell your story in a way that will resonate with your audience’s business problems and specific industry to make your story real for them.
  • Explore visual storytelling. Visuals are a powerful way to connect with your audience. Finding a visual storytelling angle opens up new ways to tell your story. Show your product in action or a brief video testimonial; the more you engage different senses, the easier it is to be memorable.
  • Stand out in the crowd. The most successful presentations find creative new ways to engage viewers. Look for opportunities to shake things up a little. You have to relate to your audience – to their needs, to their desires and to their open and hidden agendas. Listen to your audience, observe them, question them, confirm what you are told and deal with any objections.   

Create a Presence

When speaking to a group, you are on stage. Presence is the ability to move and influence your audience; to make every member of an audience feel that you are speaking directly to them.
 
Was I “On?”

The keys to being “on” are: be your one-on-one self; be prepared; master the fundamentals and nuances of speaking to a group; then be comfortable and make your audience comfortable with you. Some people have natural stage presence. For those of us who don’t, the first step is to realize that your one-on-one self is your best bet.

  • Prepare fully and carefully. Nervousness is easier to overcome if you know what you’re talking about. Remember, you wouldn’t be giving the presentation unless your audience was interested in what you have to say.
  • Dress appropriately for the presentation, not too casually or too formally. Some initial research should give you an idea of what to wear.
  • Make eye contact with as many different members of the audience as possible and be careful with your body language. Don’t show negative reactions on your face. Don’t look at your watch.
  • Move around if you can. This adds life to your presentation and also helps decrease the psychological distance between presenter and audience.
  • Don’t speak in a monotone voice. Put life in your voice.

Looking for the Extra “Wow” Factor

The “wow” factor is that little extra that helps to make your presentation memorable. Tools are what you make of them. If you use PowerPoint correctly (only to illustrate your key points, not to display boring lists of bullets), PowerPoint can provide presentations that are memorable and effective. But try stepping outside your PowerPoint comfort zone if you really want to stand out from the rest.

  • Paper the walls. Use giant Post-it pages rather than slides. Break your ideas into “bite-size” visuals. You’ll build a progressive presentation that gains strength with each page.
  • Whiteboard it. A picture is worth a thousand slides … think about how you can visually “explain” the idea.
  • Put it on video. High-impact video segments add interest and authority to your presentation. Customer interviews and from-the-field clips can have a memorable impact.
  • iPad it. Make your presentations interactive by using available technology. Plus, this makes it shareable.
  • Share your presentation. Share your presentation “in the cloud” with software like Prezi, an app that allows non-linear presentations with added creative elements, typography, etc. to zoom, pan, import media, add motion buttons to control the presentation sequence, and generally “amp up” your presentation, as well as display your tech know-how.

Just remember whatever you do, know your stuff and act naturally.

 
Foster Marketing has been helping companies amp up their presentations for decades. Need a little extra help to add the impact you are after? Call us at 281-448-3435.

A Successful Marketing Mix

As any good chef knows, it takes more than one ingredient to create a truly delicious dish. It’s often the combination of flavors and textures that make the recipe work. Such is the case in marketing. To build a successful – and growing – business, you must have the right marketing mix for your company.

What is Your Marketing Mix?

Your company’s marketing mix refers to the tactics you use to promote your brand, products and services to your audiences. The 4Ps of marketing – product (or service), price, place and promotion are key factors to consider. Foster Marketing has long been an advocate of the fifth P, people, because we’ve seen time and again that people are often a company’s most valuable resource.

7Ps of Marketing

7Ps of Marketing

As the tools available to marketers have expanded, so too has the level of competition for your audience’s attention. Today’s marketers now have to focus on the 7Ps of marketing – product, price, place, promotion, people, physical environment and process.

  • PRODUCT: Your audience needs to know the significance of your offerings, whether it is advanced technology that brings efficiencies or superior service that can help move their business ahead.
     
  • PRICE: It is important to show the value of what you are offering, be it a service or product, so the cost your customer will pay is easily justified. Even if your product costs more than what customers have previously paid, they should clearly see they are getting more for their money.
     
  • PLACE (OR PLACEMENT): Are you being seen in the right place? This can refer to physical geography of your operations, but Foster Marketing advises our marketing partners to focus on where you are placing ads, billboards and participating in industry events to maximize your chances of getting in front of your specific potential buyers.
     
  • PROMOTION (OR PRESENTATION): How are you presenting yourself in the marketplace? And are you using the right tactics to reach your audiences? Foster advises having the right recipe in place for marketing success by sprinkling in a dash of several marketing tactics that work together to create a successful mix. For one company, the right mix could mean lead generation efforts through trade shows and brand awareness through print/digital advertising, public relations and social media; while another company’s mix may focus on thought leadership via content generation, speaking events and articles and lead generation through product-focused online events and a search-engine optimized website to ensure they are found first.
     
  • PEOPLE: As we said, people are your most valuable asset due to the knowledge, experience and reputation in the industry, but consider who you should be presenting in the market as thought leaders via speaking events, articles, webinars and white papers, and how you can connect with prospective clients and partners using tools such as social media.
     
  • PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT: How are you perceived in the market? As the field of competitors expands, you want to be seen as an established company who can be trusted to deliver. This could include how your crews appear when they show up at a jobsite – professionals who proudly wear your brand and demonstrate your core company values, and also how long you’ve been active in an industry sector and the results you deliver. For Foster Marketing, a key part of who we are is that we have a successful track record of helping energy clients achieve results for nearly four decades.
     
  • PROCESS: This can refer to how your services are delivered and used; but with the wealth of marketing tools available, savvy marketers have a firm grasp on what happens next in their efforts. For example, what happens after a prospective customer completes an online form requesting a bid; when someone sees your advertisement in an industry publication or clicks an ad online, how do you deliver the next level of information; or when someone shows interest at a trade show, what is the plan for following up? There should always be a path for every marketing effort that takes a prospective customer from casual interest and research to a signed and paying client.

Add Some Flavor

As you factor in all of the above and filter through how to efficiently stretch your marketing spend to maximize your potential reach using multiple tactics, the overall impression and feel you present matters. Effective branding adds flavor to your total marketing mix. The messaging, core values, colors and images you use in every campaign should make prospective customers know you are the right choice to meet their needs and make them want to work with you.

Building Your Recipe

We help clients find the recipe that works for them by creating an integrated strategic marketing plan — the complete action plan for their marketing mix. We consider how they are currently positioned and perceived in the market, competitors in the sector, what they’d like to achieve and the key value they offer before selecting which ingredients to use in the mix. The right recipe factors in brand awareness, lead generation and thought leadership using efforts that fit their specific industry sector and could include news releases and articles, website optimization and social media, event marketing and email promotion, just to name a few likely possibilities to be included in the marketing mix.

As you build your recipe and add a dash of this or that to season your marketing mix, Foster Marketing wishes you much success; and as always, we’re here to help create the perfect flavor for marketing success. Contact us today.

The Marketing Mix

MORE TOOLS FROM FOSTER

Put Some Power Into Your Media Picks

Use Media Analysis to Prove the Value Of What You’re Getting with Media Buys

Marketing managers have long felt the burden of demonstrating return for their marketing efforts, but in today’s market, showing results is even more important when you have a limited budget.
 
“Nothing except the mint can make money without advertising.” – Thomas Babington Macaulay
 
Seasoned marketers know that it is crucial to keep a brand in front of the market, especially in volatile times when some companies go silent and others are closing their doors. But, when times get tough, marketing budgets seem to shrink and it becomes increasingly difficult to convince company leadership that this could be the best time to put its best foot forward and step up public relations and marketing efforts.

When marketing moves to the top of the list of potential budgetary cutbacks, proven data becomes a marketer’s best defense to show how efforts are impacting today’s buyer, as well as the sales pipeline for months to come.

This is where media analysis reporting can come in handy, especially for advertising. A media analysis report provides a clear picture of who your ad will reach, how many potential customers will see your ad and how much it will cost to reach these potential buyers. Budget-conscious executives appreciate having an easy-to-decipher tool that allows them to make informed buying decisions.
 

What Should a Media Analysis Report Include?

One common media planning mistake is only looking at a publication’s editorial calendar and making all your placement decisions solely from this limited information. Sure, editorial content is what helps attract a specific audience, but there are other factors you can consider.

For example, consider geography. If you are only active in the United States, should you be buying ads in a publication with 75 percent international circulation? Probably not.

Additionally, publications know you are looking for specific audiences, so they usually can provide in-depth demographic information showing their readers by job title, location, industry segment, decision-making power, etc.

If you have a clear picture of the target audience you want to reach, this should be factored into your analysis and can be ranked based on how closely a publication’s reach matches your ideal customer.

Once you have determined how each publication is used by your target audience, you can take a look at how many potential prospects receive each publication. Most major trade publications provide a Business Publication Audit (BPA) statement showing total circulation. The BPA statement can reliably be used to determine the potential reach of each placement opportunity.

Some publications will even sweeten the deal with the promise of extra eyeballs on your ad via bonus circulation at a trade show, pass-along readership stats and the promise of online viewers; however, make sure you are using comparable numbers for each publication. Sticking with the BPA reported circulation can help ensure consistency in your analysis.

Next, consider cost. Using the total reported circulation and the cost of each placement, a cost per 1,000 (CPM) viewers can be calculated to make comparing the placement cost of multiple publications much easier to evaluate. Even better would be to develop a CPM for those readers by geography or title.

When building a media analysis:

  • Make sure you are measuring apples to apples – evaluate all contenders using the same methodology.
  • Consider each factor important to you separately, such as percentage of offshore market, and give it a separate rank. Once you are done, you can decide which factors are most important to you now or next quarter.
  • Calculate cost per impression using the same reported number such as BPA statement circulation.

 

Creating a media analysis report can be a very beneficial tool for evaluating media placement opportunities. While market conditions are difficult, it is important to use all the tools available to best reach your clients and prospects. Additionally, having data that supports your marketing spend is essential and helps prove that efforts align with your company’s overall business goals.

Foster intern Chandler Coffing contributed to this article.

Foster Marketing develops media plans and strategically places ads to help our clients reach their customers, build awareness for their products and services and turn prospective customers into buyers. Contact us today to discuss your advertising goals!