Monday, August 27, 2018

Beyond Copywriting: The Key Players on Your Marketing Team

In my many years as a freelance copywriter in Austin and San Antonio, I've received plenty of requests to write for clients who didn't have all their marketing ducks in a row. They knew they needed top-quality marketing content from an experienced copywriter, but they hadn't engaged the other members of their marketing team. It's pretty hard to write content that will integrate flawlessly with an imaginary website or non-existent visual design, or without any clue what the most important keywords will be, or without knowing how the content will be implemented across multiple marketing channels. That's why I urge clients to gather their entire go-to team of marketing professionals before commissioning marketing content. Let's look at some of the key players you'll want to include in your lineup.

The Copywriter

Your copywriter serves as your written content resource. The right words make an enormous difference in persuading your target audience of your message as quickly and efficiently as possible. Since Google's algorithm has made relevant, professional-sounding content a top priority in recent years, the days of simple "keyword stuffing" are long gone -- you actually have to tell your story, and tell it well. That's a job for a professional. Your copywriter can also contribute to the conceptual stage of your marketing campaign through creative brainstorming, or make fixes to any existing content that just doesn't get the job done.

The Graphic Designer

What your copywriter is to your words, your graphic designer is to your pictures. The graphic designer is the architect of your brand's look. From creating original logos and determining your company color scheme to crafting individual marketing pieces, this artist understands how images influence potential buyers. Look for a graphic designer who feels equally at home in both print and digital media, since these two forms make their own specific visual demands.

The Web Designer/Developer

Web designers create the appearance and layout of your website and its various pages, working in collaboration with graphic designers as needed. Effective web design not only makes your website look compelling and professional; it also ensures a good user experience to improve retention and conversion. The web developer takes those designs and codes them expertly into the site, using state-of--the-art programming languages. When hiring these professionals, make sure they'll grant you some degree of user customization and administrative access to it. You don't want to be "locked out" of your own website if you ever happen to lose the people who put it together.

The SEO Expert

Search engine optimization makes the online marketing world go round. SEO strategies and tactics can take a variety of forms, from the sensible, elegant use of keywords in your written content (organic SEO) to the "under-the-hood" SEO achieved through meta-tags and other subtle website features. Some website providers include SEO among their services, while some SEO experts double as web design/development professionals.

The Social Media Coordinator

Today's marketing campaigns must embrace not only traditional print and website activities but the wide world of social media as well. Unfortunately, there are so many social media channels to choose from that you could easily spend most of your waking hours keeping track of them all. It's all too easy to neglect one important channel in favor of another, or to upload content in such a haphazard manner that your audience can't follow you easily. Your social media coordinator can focus on this activity exclusively, making sure that the right content is going onto the right channel at the right time.

The Printer

Print marketing is alive and well -- and most businesses need some form of it just as much as they need its digital equivalent. It's great to have close ties to a professional printing company that can make any kind of print marketing materials you might need, from 3D signage to event banners and vehicle wraps. A fully-equipped printer offers both traditional offset printing and advanced digital printing options. Some also have on-site graphic designers, thus filling two spots on your go-to marketing team roster while ensuring visual consistency across all your print marketing pieces.

The Marketing Strategist

The marketing strategist has the most important job of all: designing your company's marketing plan and supervising that plan's implementation. This expert is the first professional you want to talk to. Your marketing strategist can help you understand exactly who your audience is, where that audience tends to hang out, and what kinds of messaging that audience tends to respond to. A well-connected marketing strategist may even be able to find the other members of your marketing team for you, giving each of them their marching orders and coordinating their activities.

So there you have it -- the key players in your quest for brilliant marketing. Go get 'em!

Monday, August 13, 2018

3 Rebranding Steps You Need to Consider

Are you thinking about reinventing your brand? Maybe your current brand has some negative stigma attached to it. Maybe it seems outdated in an ever-changing marketplace. Maybe it no longer reflects your values, focus, and offerings. Rebranding can make a great deal of sense for recharging and repurposing your business -- but simply slapping a new name or logo onto your current marketing efforts isn't going to get you where you need to go. Here are four important steps in any rebranding process that you need to think about.

1. Creating a New Identity (Without Torching the Old One)

While it might be wise to totally invent yourself if your brand has gone totally toxic, in most cases it makes sense to build on whatever name recognition you've achieved in the past. That's why you so often see announcements like "X company is now Y company!" You probably want to make a graceful transition to your new brand that leverages whatever positive power your old brand still possesses. At the same time, you want don't want to convey a sense that nothing meaningful has changed. Your marketing content should emphasize the new advantages, capabilities, and benefits included in this brand change so your target market will get excited about it and want to know more.

Just don't fall into the trap of bad-mouthing your previous brand; "We got this and that wrong, but we're better now." Honesty is good, but you don't want your audience thinking, "Yeah, guys, but you used to be all enthused about the old version, so why should I trust this new pitch?"

2. Rewriting Your Website

If you were rebranding a "brick-and-mortar" business's identity from top to bottom, you would no doubt remodel your stores so shoppers would experience that new identity as they browse. Well, the same goes for your virtual storefront. Your website will be entrusted with the task of presenting your new products or services, telling the story behind your new brand, and guiding visitors through the sales funnel until they're in a position to be converted into buyers.

Resist the temptation to do a patch job on your website content. By the time you've finished massaging individual bits of text to fit the new brand message, you'll be grumbling obscenities and wishing you'd just started over with a fresh new approach. You might even spend less time, money and effort by beginning with a clean slate.

3. Broadcasting the "New You" Through Social Media

Now that you've built your new brand, along with a new website to back it up, how do you let the world know that you're better than ever? In this day and age, of course you'll need to take to social media -- but don't reinvent the wheel. Remodel and rename your existing social media channels, instead of simply opening new ones, so you can carry all your existing followers with you in this transition. Fill up those channels with as many "Coming Soon" announcements, special offers, and interactive conversations as you can to get the buzz focused on your re-branding.

Don't hinge your social media success on little Tweets and Facebook one-liners. Blog your head off (with multi-channel links to and from the articles) to elaborate on all your exciting changes and keep building that wealth of relevant content Google seems to love.

These rebranding steps may sound intimidating, but you don't have to take them alone. In addition to hiring a professional copywriter for your new brand content, make use of graphic designers, digital marketing agencies, and marketing strategists to help you brand yourself for the better!