Tag: marketing

The ROI of marketing in 2016: Some expert insight

Compiled by Matt Sabo, Consociate Media Writer and Strategist

To get a sense of what marketing return on investment looks like in 2016, we picked the brains of our own Consociate Media Partner Rudy Heinatz, as well as Nix co-founder Josh Rowe.

Both Heinatz and Rowe have MBAs — Heinatz from the Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary and Rowe from Northeastern University — but they have very different professional careers.

Before joining Consociate Media, Heinatz spent 10 years as a healthcare executive where he researched gaps in the market to develop new service lines, led a team of 100, oversaw a seven-figure construction project and ran a multi-million dollar operating budget. He earned his undergraduate degree in business and marketing from Christopher Newport University.

Rowe has spent a career in sports marketing, working at Nike for more than a decade in various marketing capacities to include managing Nike’s stable of elite track and field athlete, to managing the sports federations of countries, to overseeing Olympic Games marketing efforts. At Nike, Rowe co-founded the popular BorderClash event and created the Nike Cross Nationals. In 2009, Rowe moved to Boston to drive marketing for New Balance. Last year, Rowe left corporate America to co-found Nix, a sports-related startup out of the Harvard Innovation Lab.

Consociate: What’s your big-picture view of marketing ROI?

Heinatz: For me, the ROI is so much about brand building. The metrics that we traditionally use for ROI are arbitrary to a great degree. It’s nearly impossible to calculate, unless you have very specific parameters, like an all-online retail outlet and a true e-commerce business if you are viewing ROI simply in terms of dollars. Then that’s easy to calculate. You can see that you had $10,000 from a specific post, for example.

Billboards are the classic example of ROI you can’t measure. Someone along the line used a clicker to count cars and exposure. But these days, for the most part, cars are single-occupancy. And if there is someone else in the car, the chances are pretty good they’re on their smartphone or tablet or whatever and not even paying attention to billboards on the side of the freeway. The ROI metrics on billboards are completely speculative.

Print ads are another example. With a print ad, whether it’s a magazine, or newspaper, you hope that someone will land on your page and that one single exposure will promote action. But with digital, you can do demographic targeting and measure the metrics to gauge reach, audience, response, click-through rates and many other things. It’s a whole new paradigm. Because so much of our lives are spent online, the targeting can go well beyond age and gender. Information such as personal interests and spending habits are now in play.

Companies need to view to a certain degree that most of what you’re doing is brand building and use topline revenue increases over time as the ROI.

Rowe: In my mind, marketing and brand building are long term investments.  So often executives look for marketing to drive sales and they look for a vehicle that says, `I’m going to invest X and get Y.’ It’s not easy.

For me, the key to ROI — or measuring the success of any marketing effort — is clearly defining the goal of the campaign or marketing effort before the investment. This is the only way to identify if the effort was successful or not. If the goal is brand awareness, do some research to find out what the current brand awareness is, then put down a measurable goal for what you want awareness to be after the campaign.

If the goal is a positive sales increase, this is easy.  Did sales go up more than the marketing investment? If the goal is drive traffic to our website, that’s pretty easy to measure. A successful “return” doesn’t always need to mean immediate sales.

Consociate: If you don’t have a positive ROI on a campaign, does that mean it’s a failure?

Heinatz: That all depends on what a company is using as the ROI. For instance, if a campaign produces no significant increase in customer base long term, but has a short term impact on sales that may or may not be considered a success. On the other side, a campaign may produce zero short term sales gains but could have a significant impact on brand reach and recognition that produces new sales in the future. Is that a failure or is the lifetime value of a customer more important than the projected goals of a campaign?

So much of this involves the goals of the company, the targeted outcomes of a campaign and, to a large degree, the type of business. A cereal brand can much more effectively gauge the success of a specific campaign based on the immediate impact on sales versus a luxury automaker.

Rowe: No, positive ROI doesn’t mean it’s not a great program. ROI is only one metric in the marketing evaluation tool box. Brand engagement, brand affinity, willingness to consider or willingness to purchase are also critical long term metrics.

If you find a marketing vehicle that actually drives a positive direct ROI — I would not call this a unicorn, but definitely an elusive rare bird — hold onto it and treat it well. So often brands kill it by doing too much with it or trying to replicate it. Nike and their `Run Hit Wonder,’ for example. It was a great race concept that worked perfectly in Los Angeles. They took it global and simply couldn’t replicate the magic they made in LA. On the other hand, there was so much demand to do BorderClash’s all over the country (BorderClash is an annual post-season high school cross country race held at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., pitting All-Star teams from Oregon and Washington against each other for state supremacy) but we knew there was no way we could replicate the magic, so we said no. That event today stands as one of the best Nike events they do. In footwear, Nike is also the master at allocation and keeping demand strong. They could make millions of Jordans or Air Force Ones and kill the franchise. But by putting out only thousands each year — not millions — they keep them special.

Consociate: How do you measure the ROI on social media?

Heinatz: To a large degree ROI on social media is such a long term game that quantifying it is challenging at best with the exception of a very targeted ad campaign, – I want to sell 1,000 units in the next 90 days type of thing. Social is about putting in the time and effort to build your brand. Taking the time to develop interesting content that works within the specific platform to drive attention and awareness. With literally millions of sites, companies, platforms, etc. jockeying to win the attention war, it may take a company months to gain any traction – if not longer.

In looking at it simply in dollars, a company may have a negative ROI on social for six months to a year before it really starts to see positive revenue effects. Does that mean the first six months were a waste? Of course not, they are necessary to earn your place on the attention graph of he consumer.

Rowe: Social media is another perfect example of how marketing investment does not necessarily translate into direct dollars today. Brands with huge social media footprints have the ability to control and direct the conversations with consumers in ways that others don’t. This leadership is critical to long-term brand equity and therefore success of brands.

Consociate: What are some specific examples from your experience, whether it’s in health care, or athletics and running, or some other industry, of campaigns or brands and brand awareness that work or don’t work?

Heinatz: For me, one of the best examples of a brand that is crushing the awareness game is GoPro. Granted, as we live in such a visual world, they have a hefty advantage because of their product. But virtually all of their branding and marketing activities revolve around simply showing the audience what the product is capable of. This is really evident on their social platforms. There are very view sales driven calls to actions, they simply share great content based on the product. They do a tremendous job engaging with their communities and essentially invite their fans to be a part of the brand by submitting their own pictures and videos.

Rowe: Reebok is classic for mass media campaigns that drive footwear sales. The problem is, they have little brand equity, so as soon as you turn off the TV ads, the sales stop. Yes, they see an ROI from the campaign, but is that a good use of funds long term?

When it comes to sports marketing, Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry are about the only professional athletes that drive a direct ROI for footwear companies. No Serena Williams. No Roger Federer. No Tom Brady. These three are among the largest global sports starts today, yet they do not directly drive purchases of shoes and apparel that equals their endorsement salaries. So why do Nike, adidas, Under Armour and others continue to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into sports marketing? Because it builds brand equity. And over time, brand equity builds businesses.

Another example. In the running industry, New Balance was known as an `old man’s shoe.’ And still is largely outside the vertical running world. New Balance knew that it needed to do something to get the brand younger and more gender diverse. So they invested approximately $1 million in young female distance runners. Stephanie Garcia, Kim Conley, Emma Coburn, Jenny Simpson, Brenda Martinez, Nicole Bush and Sarah Bowman do not sell a single shoe by themselves. Okay, maybe a few people buy NB directly because of Jenny, but that’s about it. BUT, together this effort completely changed the perception of NB. And NB running shoe sales went up by millions of dollars. Not `this quarter.’  And not `this year.’ But certainly over two or three years.


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Why podcasting is an effective marketing tool

By Matt Sabo, Consociate Media Lead Writer and Media Strategist

We are wired to tell and listen to stories, an ancient method of communication that we’ve used for millennia to help make sense of the world around us.

We relate to stories. We gain insights, arrive at conclusions and learn from them. We experience the range of emotions through storytelling. We marvel, we may be surprised or shocked and we may react in anger or sadness. Often we tell stories to entertain and laugh.

Stories are a way to shrink a very big world and make connections in previously unimaginable ways that cross culture, gender, demographics and even societal status. As a marketing tool, stories are essential to connecting with an audience, whether it’s broad or targeted.

But stories are worthless without an audience; their very purpose is to share. Which makes podcasting a natural fit as a marketing tool to connect with an expansive new audience. It’s verbal storytelling reimagined, repurposed and recast.

One of the beauties of podcasting is its mobility and accessibility, making it a marketing dream. With the advent of smartphones, a podcast can be listened to anywhere — in a car, at an office, in a coffee shop, on a treadmill and a host of other places and even during a host of other activities.

Podcasters can use it as a tool to mold and shape their brand because they can control the message. They can also reach new, untapped audiences and connect with them in inventive ways.

Podcasting is a means to elevating a company’s brand and raising the profile of company executives. By telling their stories, hearing their musings on their successes and failures, what they are focused on, what they value in employees, industry trends — do you get the idea that there’s an endless supply of potential podcast subjects — you can take the audience on a journey inside the company’s walls.

You can also engage with an audience, soliciting questions and comments and building a rapport that you can’t get in other spaces. It’s also a direct line to customers, partners, potential patrons or clients and others.

Another selling point of podcasting is it helps cultivate a company’s cross-pollination efforts by incorporating other social media elements. It can widen a company’s reach as well by reaching out to contacts inside — and even outside — its industry to highlight trends, divulge what’s new, predict the future, tell war stories, frame discussions and offer insights into other topics of interest.

Before getting started, however, there are a couple of essentials to launching a successful podcast. Quality is key and it’s well worth the money — which can be surprisingly inexpensive at an investment under $1,000 — to ensure you have a podcast that sounds professional.

Also, have at least three to five podcast episodes edited and ready to upload and launch a social media blitz in conjunction with their release. You want to get noticed — there’s no point in making the time and effort to do podcasting if no one is listening — and use the tools at your disposal to drive traffic both to your podcast and from your podcast to a website and social media channels.

The times have certainly changed but whether it’s oral storytelling traditions in primitive cultures or podcasting, the story is still the same: It’s about the story.

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Take Your Public Relations And Marketing To The Next Level In 2016 With These Tools

By Lucy Smith, Consociate Media Winter 2016 Intern

Want to take your PR, Communications, and Marketing to the Next Level in 2016? Put these tools in your toolbox.

  1. A Plan

If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up somewhere else. While it is nearly impossible to plan for December in January, it is important to have a goal of where you would like to be by the end of the year. Set broad, goal based marketing plans and strategies to implement each month through specific events, blog posts, and campaigns.

  1. Responsive Web Site with Blog

You want your customers to have a good website experience, no matter what size screen they are using. This type of website allows shifting in size and resolution to fit itself to any size screen- laptop, iPhone, android device, kindle, and more- allowing easy website access anywhere. Having a blog as a part of this website adds to the value. Blogs provide a platform to provide useful information or tips that will drive traffic to your website and establish you as a prominent source of information.

  1. Instagram Account

Instagram is a social media powerhouse. Any business, large as Capital One or as small as your neighbor’s bakery on Main Street is able to tell its unique story through images to a wide audience. Examples of Instagram success stories can be found on their website: https://business.instagram.com/. Click the link to learn more.

  1. Twitter Handle

Like Instagram, Twitter provides a method to link with a large and diverse community. Follow groups, pages, and people that connect to your business and your goal: this includes your customers, competitors, businesses whose practices you admire, and your personal connections in the business world. What sets Twitter apart from Instagram is you can add a link to every single tweet, enticing visitors to the company’s website.

  1. Personal Profile AND Company page on LinkedIn

The company page provides a platform to broadcast messages, while your personal page allows you to develop relationships with people you know and work with.

  1. Press Release Template

Creating a press release template for your business dramatically shortens the time between when the story happens and when the people learn about it. With a uniform template, reporters will know what to expect when you send them a press release, allowing them to absorbs information more efficiently and correctly, and you ensure the same kind of information will be presented in each release.

  1. List of Target Media, Outlets, and Reporters

Where are you going to find your customers, and through what media will they most easily find you? This will have to start with research. Look at your most loyal clients to see what they are reading and where. Which newspapers and magazines have a following that most closely resembles the type of client you want to attract? Once you have nailed down the reporters and outlets that will tell your story to the audience most interested in hearing it, you can mark this tool off your checklist.

  1. Professional Portrait/Headshot

This tool is one of the easiest to add to your box with the most impact. A professional headshot looks polished, prepared, and, well, professional! It lets your customers know that you care about the work you do. With the internet, it is very likely that the first time your customers meet you will not be in person, but through your website. If you don’t currently have a headshot there, you need one, and if you do, does it say everything you want it to about yourself? Does that photograph help to brand you as the type of professional you want others to perceive you as? If not, hiring a professional can make that photo a reality.

  1. MailChimp Account

MailChimp is an email marketing software through which you can design, save, and send email templates to all your customers while also measuring the success of each email through its analytics page. By seeing which emails were opened the most and which emails inspired people to visit your website, you can tailor your next emails to fit the wants of your clientele.

  1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics’ slogan is “turning data insights into action.” Analytics tracks movement on your website, giving you detailed information about that activity: how long each person remains on your site on average, whether or not they had visited your website before, and the search engine or site that led them to your website- all in real time!

  1. Periscope

Up for some live video blogging? With Periscope, you can let your customers be in on the action, even when they aren’t there. This app allows you to live broadcast everything that is going on around you at the current moment.


Have a smartphone to take photos supporting your communications online and on social media.

All set? Grab your tools, it’s time to get to work.

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Consociate Media Earns Contract With Cybersecurity Firm Sera-Brynn

Consociate Media is pleased to announce it has been named the marketing and public relations firm for Sera-Brynn, a Virginia-based cybersecurity firm recently named 16th in a global list of the top 500 cybersecurity firms to watch in 2015.

Consociate, a marketing, media, public relations and management consulting firm, based in Gloucester, Va., has developed a multi-pronged approach to assist Sera-Brynn educate more of the consumer and business community on the importance of cybersecurity, prevention techniques and evaluation of insurance options to best protect companies and individuals’ private information.

“There is nothing that touches all of our lives more deeply than technology,” said Stephanie Heinatz, Consociate’s Founder and CEO. “To have the opportunity to help Sera-Brynn educate the community on what they can do to protect themselves is an honor. In many ways, we consider what they do a public service.”

Sera-Brynn offers cybersecurity expertise

With headquarters in Suffolk, Va., Sera-Brynn works with companies as small as 15 to 20 employees to Fortune 500 firms with thousands of workers. The company assists clients in securing their computing environments, ensuring their cybersecurity insurance plans adequately cover their needs and meeting mandatory industry and government compliance requirements.

In addition, Sera-Brynn’s services include penetration testing, incident response, security consulting, managed security and other assistance. The company focuses on prevention to keep clients, their businesses, customers and lives safe from cyber-related threats.

Certain types of cybersecurity threats can occur nonstop, said Sera-Brynn co-founder and Chief Operating Officer John Kipp.

“Your jaw would drop,” Kipp said. “Scanning is a perpetual thing. It’s just nonstop.”

Targeted cyber-attacks are highly frequent, as is phishing and other threats. The attacks can even come in the manner of people impersonating tech support workers or showing up as repairmen to gain entry to businesses.

“There are more and more compromises,” Kipp said.

He personally empathizes with victims of cybercrime; not only was he notified recently that his credit card had been compromised but his family was also among the 80 million victims of the recent cybertheft of data from Anthem.

Sera-Brynn educates companies on these types of threats, conducts test threats and offers solutions to ensure cybersecurity.

Kipp drew an analogy of a burglar casing a neighborhood. If you have one or more dogs and home security features but your neighbor doesn’t, which house will be hit?

“He could still break into your house, but it’s a lot more trouble,” Kipp said.

Credit card payment security

Another service offered by Sera-Brynn is as a Payment Card Industry Qualified Security Assessor. Companies that accept, process or transmit credit card data, no matter how small, are required to meet PCI Data Security Standards.

Sera-Brynn helps any size organization or business achieve compliance with these standards. Ignore them at your own risk, Kipp said.

“If you ignore them the bank will usually assess a monthly non-compliance fee,” he said. “And, when you get breached, you can expect legal action against you.’”

Kipp said smaller companies can be devastated by cybercrime because they don’t have the resources to recover from attacks.

Companies such as Target or Home Depot, both of which have been the subjects of well-publicized cyber breaches recently, can tap lines of credit, liquidate assets and take other measures to recover from the crimes.

“A Congressional study found that 60 percent of the smaller businesses that were breached went out of business within six months,” Kipp said. “Why don’t we hear about it? A small company doesn’t make headlines because the consumer impact is less. But collectively, all those small companies add up.”

Branding and promotion

The Sera-Brynn executive team, including Kipp, comes from backgrounds of working with classified information for the federal government and contractors, so self-promotion is a foreign concept.

“You don’t talk about work,” he said.

And some companies they work with to avert cyber threats and assist following breaches don’t exactly want it publicized how Sera-Brynn has helped, he said.

But Kipp said Sera-Brynn executives recognized they needed to get the word out about what they do and how they can help protect businesses and individuals from the growing threat of cybercrime. Using social media, graphic design, advertising and publicity, Sera-Brynn has seen immediate benefits of working with Consociate, Kipp said.

“We had no social media presence before contracting with Consociate, but in a matter of days they were able to get us everywhere we needed to be — and they’re doing an awesome job at keeping it all fresh and interesting,” Kipp said. “We’ve definitely seen an increase in web traffic and direct calls due to their continued support.”

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Boost Your Facebook Page In 2015

By Peyton Smith, Consociate Winter 2015 Intern, and Stephanie Heinatz, Consociate Founder

Two years ago, as we started working with brand new businesses, we spent most of our time educating entrepreneurs on why having their brands and storefronts on Facebook was an integral part of their social marketing strategy.

Today, everyone knows that and as a result Facebook has become very loud. Lots of posts. Lots of things to like. Lots of people to compete with.

As we dive deeper into 2015, Facebook marketing is contingent on bringing something of value to your clients, to your customers, to the world. You have to stand out and not just be part of the crowd.

By applying those basic tenets to a Facebook strategy, companies on Main Street can compete more equally with brands managed on Wall Street.

So what are the tactics you can use to accomplish this?

Spark conversation on your posts.

Social media, whatever platform you are using, is meant to be social. Don’t just tell people what your company is doing. Ask them what they’re doing? Engage your audience. Get their feedback. Give them a reason to have a social conversation with you. Post a picture of a new designer’s tops you’re carrying in your boutique and ask what people would pair it with. Weekend on the way? Ask folks what their plans are…and share your own.

Be visual! Photos and Videos! Post them!

Although this may seem simple, remember to post pictures and videos, especially funny ones, to increase your number of “shares.” We are visual people, as a rule. And when you think about how people use Facebook most today – on their Smart Phones – it will be a picture or a video that will grab their attention first. This doesn’t have to be complicated, either. Do a quick virtual tour of your shop. Take a picture with your iPhone, put a cool filter on it and post.

Be a source.

Don’t try to sell, sell, sell. That’s not why we use social media. We use social media to connect. To get smarter. To stay in touch. Use your Facebook page to give tips, to educate, to show people that you have advice to give and it’s worth listening to by sharing your knowledge and not just telling people you have it.

Spend time online.

We’re saving the best and most important for last. SPEND TIME ONLINE. Don’t just post and walk away. Remember that tip above that social media requires you to be social? This is what we’re talking about here. This is an important tip that often many companies forget. And, quite honestly, it’s where the time commitment to social media really comes in. If you are asking people what they think, you are going to need to respond to them. This is where you can really connect with your audience. A few extra minutes spent online can give your brand an extra boost. It will also show your fans that you care enough to talk to them. If they walked in your store and said hello you would say hi back, right? Social media is no different. Whatever you do offline you should do online, too.

More questions? Contact us anytime for some tips! Or sign up for our newsletter!

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