The red and pink candy, hearts, and flowers have exploded in stores and on sites across the country, and retailers are in the mood for l-o-v-e. The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects it to be a record year for Valentine’s Day shopping, with more than $20 billion being spent on everything from cards to clothing.
Was your last product launch a success?
Not really sure? You’re not alone. Hubspot’s 2017 State of Inbound Survey showed that 40% of businesses don’t know how to prove the ROI of their marketing activities. And if you don’t know how to determine your ROI, it’s hard to say whether your product launch was a success or failure. Without being able to prove your success, you’ll have a harder time asking for a bigger budget for next year’s marketing activities.
It’s a classic battle: art versus commerce, editorial versus advertising, journalism versus sales—and it continues to play out in new, super-interesting, slightly frustrating ways all across the media and marketing landscape. Buckle up, baby!
With the boom of online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, the ecommerce landscape has grown exponentially over the past few years. And in order to keep up with the big-box stores, smaller online retailers need to find a way to disrupt and cut through the clutter.
Here’s where inbound marketing can make or break your brand.
Subscription boxes have crossed the chasm.
What seems like just a few months ago, Gen Z consumers began flocking to services that deliver ready-to-cook meals, fashionable wardrobe updates, and a month’s supply of pet food to their doorsteps on a day or two’s notice. And again next month, and the month after that.
“It’s September, and we don’t have a style guide for Holiday. We’re making it up as we go.”
“We’re having challenges getting our brand campaign faithfully executed by our internal creative team and agency partners.”
“We need more events, beyond the retail holidays, to get customers excited about coming into our stores.”
“We need more assets so we can allocate more of our print budget to the digital space.”
“We want our marketing team to work further ahead so we can guarantee a 360-degree experience.”
Whoa. That’s a lot of really big challenges. Any of them sound familiar? Most retailers—indeed most marketers—have experienced these issues. And they all share one thing in common: an urgent need to plan ahead.
Does this conversation sound familiar?
“Hey Bob, have we implemented marketing automation yet?”
“Do you mean Salesforce?”
“Well, Salesforce can be part of it, but I mean the software that automatically sends out our content?”
Lately, we've seen a lot of our clients struggle with similar problems: a demand for more output on a smaller budget (with a smaller team), how to manage and anticipate emerging competition, and how to stand out in a noisy, crowded marketplace. And while our experience solving these problems with proven tactics is invaluable, we're always looking for creative new ways to help our clients be more successful. At the end of the day, that's the only reason agencies are in business!
But you don't have to leave creative problem-solving to your agency partners. If the "old ways" aren't working anymore (and they probably aren't), break the cycle of complacency once and for all with a method that will push you and your team to dig deeper and generate the innovations your customers want.
2018 was a pretty big year. Yodeling made a comeback, a star was (re)born, and so was another royal baby. Oh, and a ton of cool stuff happened in the world of photography, too. We thought we’d use the most wonderful time of the year to showcase some of our favorite, high-impact visual trends.
We’ve talked a lot about the complicated business of through-channel marketing—including how to be a better partner to your sellers and how to successfully launch a product through your channel. Amid our research, one dark cloud continues to loom: the possibility of channel extinction.
Are you doing all you can to support your upcoming product launch? Have previous launches fallen flat?
Are you underwhelmed, disappointed, or frustrated with lackluster creative work, but unsure what, exactly, is missing? It’s time to spice things up and reach (nay, exceed) your marketing goals. Here’s a method to idea generation that, when leveraged with a solid agency partnership, can deliver the results and exponential growth you want.
When you consider B2B and inbound marketing, it’s easy to think that content production platforms like blogs and social media don’t work, or that they’re best for brands and companies selling straight to the consumer.
As the buyer experience has evolved and instant technology is all around us, incorporating the inbound methodology into your overall B2B marketing strategy is not only important—it’s essential.
Two steps into Muji, and you’re somehow a world away from everything.
The honking horns and bustling shopping traffic in Soho dissipates. The delightful but seedy sway of Hollywood Boulevard loosens its grip on you a bit.
You relax. For a second, you even might forget where you are.
If you rely on a channel partner—a brick-and-mortar store, a dealership, a distributor, or an independent sales force—to sell your products or services, you already know that disruption is headed your way. We’re witnessing unprecedented changes across industries, including the purchase of auto dealerships by billion-dollar private equity firms. Remember how taxi companies never saw Uber coming?
There are hundreds of pages of circulars, thousands of items, and millions in sales to be made this Black Friday. With the prospect of a positive holiday shopping season ahead (consumers are ready to spend more than $1000 each!), ‘tis the season for retailers to go all out to get you in-store and to shop online this Black Friday.
It’s perhaps the most common conversation I have with prospective clients, and it goes something like this: Tim, I really need to communicate with potential new customers, but I don’t have a database list to send to. Where’s the best place to buy a list? Oh, and by the way, I need it fast and I don’t have much budget to work with.
As I interrupt the question, I respond that there is no place to safely buy/rent/gather/assemble a safe email list at any price. A look of despair ensues.
I repeat: There is no place to safely buy/rent/gather/assemble an email list at any price.
We all get blocked sometimes. More specifically, creatively blocked. And it feels like the more we fight it, the more frustrated we become—especially when we’re juggling a million and one items on our to-do list (and they’re all due yesterday).
So why keep struggling when you can save time, talent and even money…AND get better results?
The demise of Toys ‘R’ Us earlier this year means there’s about $2 billion in toy sales on the table this holiday season for other retailers to snatch up.
Always ones to maximize opportunities, the remaining toy destinations, like Walmart, Target, and Amazon, are working overtime to fill that void in the market. Even grocery players like Kroger are getting into the game! For all of them, scooping up more of your toy purchases this November and December is anything BUT playtime.
First, some perspective.
Want more authentic results from your photo shoot? There’s a secret to creating more intentional photography, and it has nothing to do with how you plan or produce the actual shoot (that’s logistics—which is an art in and of itself).
The acronyms have evolved, and you should too.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how drastically our buying habits have changed. We all shop like consumers now, so the lines between consumer and business buying have blurred considerably. Still, the old acronyms were useful in helping us categorize communications…except that they never did much to help us understand the people in the second part of the equation.
We don’t just create work for some of America’s most beloved retailers and manufacturers—we’re consumers, too! Just like customers around the country, we love content that catches our eye, makes us want to know more, makes us laugh, and maybe even pulls at our heartstrings a little.
Here’s a look at some broadcast spots and videos some members of our stellar account team can’t stop thinking about. Some are recent, some are older—all are ones we only wish we’d done ourselves!
Think retail is dead? Think again!
Online sales strategies and tactics get a lot of attention these days, but let’s not forget the fact that about 90% of retail activity still happens in-store. The switch to an ecomm sales environment (and world!) has been hugely disruptive, and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are still finding their way. This makes it the perfect time, then, for Amazon to innovate in a new territory—they’re going offline and into traditional store formats.
The phrase “retail apocalypse” gets thrown around a lot, with a sense of breathless intensity and finality—like the doors are shut and the tumbleweeds are already rolling at local mall and outdoor shopping districts around the country. While store-based retail has definitely seen brighter days, we're not quite ready to put the final nail in brick-and-mortar's coffin.
Early in my career, I had a boss named Audrey who was famous for saying, “If you didn’t measure it, it didn’t happen.”
As marketers, measuring and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is in our DNA. It's easy to see why, because we're continually asked to prove our worth: "Show me the spend, show me the time, show me the value."
Their tricks, your treats. Here's our round-up of who’s going hard (and who should go home) to get more of your Halloween spending this year.
Doug Stephens, “The Retail Prophet” and internationally recognized consumer futurist, started his keynote presentation at High Point Market on Sunday by depressing his audience with the statistic that 8,643 retail stores closed in 2018, and 10,000 more are projected to fail in 2019.
His news got worse.
The hottest seat on Sunday morning at Market (after the earlier WithIt Breakfast, which this year featured Erin and Ben Napier of HGTV’s “Home Town”—see our tweet!) is in the Retail Resource Center Seminar Room, Plaza Suites, where industry leaders gather at 9:00am to hear Jerry Epperson’s incomparable perspective on “The State of the Industry.”
It’s been an insider’s industry tradition for over 25 years, because when it comes to forecasting the future of furniture, Jerry is even more accurate than a psychic. Put this event on your calendar for the Spring 2019 Market—now!
Is every minute on the ground in High Point during the October International Home Furnishings Market scheduled as tight as your jeans the day after Thanksgiving? Contacts to meet in real life, collections to preview, contracts to sign, and after-hours parties to let off steam make it tough to squeeze in anything more.
If you can find time to sneak away to learn the latest in industry trends and technology, there are definitely some highlights we want to point out. Consider it an investment in staying relevant and making your colleagues think you are smarter than them.
"Do more with less." It's not just a polite request—it's expected from everyone, all the time. Consequently, we all have a slash-this and slash-that in our job titles. Which means that no matter your background, if you’re in marketing, you’ll be asked to assign, comment on, and approve creative work at some point.
When presenting creative to our client partners, we often hear the following questions from them: What am I looking at? What should I react to? What kind of feedback are you looking for?
If those questions sound familiar, follow our five rules to get the best creative work from your partners and team—without spending a ton of time on back-and-forth emails or rounds of revisions. (Fortunately, a degree in graphic design, fine art, or creative writing is not required.)
A huge piece of the inbound marketing puzzle is the buyer persona. Inbound is all about delivering the right type of content to the right people at the right time—but according to the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA), only 44% of B2B marketers use buyer personas.
We no longer have to rely on sending one message to one giant group of people and hoping our target audience sees it. We now have the power to personalize the content we create and decide when, where, and who to show it to.
Gaining insights about consumers when it comes to B2B marketing can prove to be quite difficult—but the effort will pay off more and more as you begin to fully understand your buyers.
A brand new generation (Gen Z!) and a good bit of swirling social pressure to have Insta-worthy selfies and dorm rooms means the back-to-college shopping season is a perfect storm for a range of retailers.
First, let’s let the math tell the story.
Boston has been good to us this week. The people, energy, lessons, and inspiration at INBOUND 2018 have been nothing short of amazing.
We’ve learned more about content, data, segmentation, growth models, and KPIs than we possibly could have imagined. It’s been exhilarating—and exhausting—and there’s more to come in the weeks ahead about what we learned.
A few months ago, I was up to my eyeballs in a demanding project for a historic retailer. I was pouring myself into it, staying up late, bringing my kids to after-hours meetings, racing to meet weekly deadlines—and honestly, I figured I was failing.
There are a lot of claims floating around the internet about an 8-second attention span. While many studies have been legitimate, BBC News reports it’s a bit more complicated than establishing a hard and fast “average attention span”—and it’s actually task-dependent.
That said, we do know this: Our attention spans are relatively short.
And, they’re extremely short when it comes to digital. If we don’t see what we want, we close windows and choose another result until we find exactly what we’re looking for. So how can you grab your audience’s attention?
The release of the annual IKEA catalog is a mini-event, if only for the fact that it's rare for a retailer to release and mail out 288 pages of anything these days.
As retail marketers, it’s a book we refer back to throughout the year for insights. As shoppers, it’s one we keep around to spark ideas for our own spaces.
With the 2019 catalog's release in August, we wanted to take a closer look and see how IKEA translates the catalog experience for in-store shoppers. We found five simple, interesting, and thoughtful ways the catalog comes to life in-store—tactics you also may want to take note of and refer back to this year.
If you’re familiar with inbound marketing, then you probably have a general idea of what SEO (search engine optimization) is all about. If you’re not sure what SEO is—you’ve got some work to do! This post covers the basics and explains why it's so important to incorporate SEO into your inbound marketing strategy.
Over the years, photographers have perfected the art studio lighting. They work in traditional, light-controlled studios with various combinations of continuous and strobe lighting, bouncing in backfill to create the perfect highlights, shadows, softness and drama. It's a process of adding light in a controlled way to achieve a natural look.
Increasingly though, creative directors and photographers have started to ask why we go to the effort to recreate natural light instead of simply using natural light?
Once only synonymous with a certain friendly ghost, Casper is now a $300M sleep and wellness wunderkind that haunts big retailers and mattress manufacturers alike.
Casper’s success was built on an online model, but now it's coming for you IRL—with the recent introduction of brick-and-mortar stores this year.
In today’s world where content is king, there are countless ways to define what the word content means. And, it’s possible you’ve heard some form of “we need content, and we need it now!” before.