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Digital Radio Advertising

Demand for digital radio services has been growing for years and many advertisers discovered this medium as a valid alternative to terrestrial radio campaigns. The big players in the market are Apple Music, iHeart Media, Pandora, and Spotify. You can directly negotiate a schedule with respective advertising representatives.  However, there are now two self-serve platforms available and we want to make sure you are familiar with their features as well.

Pandora

Pandora just recently introduced their self-serve platform via AudioGo. The minimum campaign budget is $250 and you can set the flight by determining a start and an end date. Commercials may be up to 30 seconds long and you can upload three different sizes of display ads that appear when your commercial plays: 300×250, 300×600, 500×500. They all link to a website of your choice.

You can target by gender and ZIP codes. Pandora uses similar age categories as Google Ads: 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65+. You can also make sure commercials only run within specific music genres. In addition to the traditional genres, Pandora offers a couple of unique genres not provided by Spotify:

  • Christmas Music
  • Controversial
  • Schlager
  • Top40/Hits – Pop
  • World

Spotify

Spotify’s self-serve platform is intuitive and easy to use. Like Pandora, the minimum budget is $250 per campaign and you can set the flight by determining a start and an end date. Commercials can be up to 30 seconds long and can upload one 640×640 display ad linking to your website. ZIP code targeting is available as well.

Spotify has a couple of advantages over Pandora. First, Spotify produces your commercial without any charge. You submit your copy, select a voice (i.e. male/female, age, English accent, language), select/upload your background music and then Spotify will create the commercial for you to review. You will still have a chance to request changes, so there is no commitment associated with this feature.

Second, Spotify offers additional campaign features to promote artists like serving commercials to fans of certain musicians. Another feature focuses on announcing new shows or merchandise sales.

Third, Spotify offers unique targeting abilities.  These unique targeting opportunities include; targeting usual genres, certain interests of listeners determined by listener behavior and real-time context by focusing on playlists used for commuting, celebrating, studying and more. You will not be able to combine different targeting strategies, but you can target specific age ranges starting at the age of 13.  You can also select specific platforms (desktop, iOS, Android). Both platforms allow smaller businesses to access the marketplace for digital radio advertising after high minimum budget commitments have created barriers in the past. Please contact Adrian at adrian@medialinkinc.com if you would like to learn more about digital radio advertising.

Promoting Your Business During COVID-19

Our Senior Marketing Consultant, Adrian Vander Wille, participated in a Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce webinar series for small business owners. His presentation “Promoting Your Business During COVID-19” introduced a 5-step process for business owners to act immediately without any cost. You can watch and share the webinar recording on YouTube. Here is a brief summary:

Step 1 – Assessment

Take a step back and assess your situation. What are your main challenges? Who are your main stakeholders and what are their main challenges? How do you communicate with your stakeholders and are there alternative platforms you should consider? What information do you need to relay and how do you do this in a consistent and strategic manner?

Step 2 – Online Listings

People learn about your business through your website and social media, but there are many more online listings you may not have direct control over yet. Claim listings like Google My Business or Bing Places and learn how to utilize them to improve your online presence – without paying a cent!

Step 3 – Social Media

Learn how to improve your COVID-19 updates posts within seconds. Explore automated responses, online and live events, and see examples of a small business successfully applying these techniques.

Step 4 – Paid Advertising

Keep your business top-of-mind with Google Responsive Display ads. Use remarketing strategies and generate leads to follow up when people are able/willing to spend again. Consider selling gift cards and merchandise online.

Step 5 – Innovation and Strategy

Every crisis exposes weaknesses, but also strengths and opportunities. Use business analysis tools like the Value Chain Analysis to better understand what makes your business unique and competitive. Think outside the box and come up with innovative ways to improve your products, customer service or distribution network. Innovation is not limited to large corporations!

Please contact Adrian at adrian@medialinkinc.com for a copy of the slides. Don’t hesitate to connect with him on LinkedIn; he is more than happy to answer any follow-up questions.

Home Offices – The New Normal

There has been a lot of talk about Home Offices as a temporary solution to social distancing, but many businesses, including Media Link, have already successfully employed this strategy for years. Our Sr. Marketing Consultant, Adrian, has been living on the West Coast for over two years now, “Setting up a webinar to have a face-to-face conversation with people thousands of miles away only takes a minute. Because our team is so young and agile, texting and face time is second nature to all of us now.”

A benefit of using webinars is that you don’t need to spend time on organizing rooms, coffee and snacks. You won’t be late because of traffic and you have the opportunity to meet your colleagues in a place truly special to them (pro-tip: introduce you pets!!). Webinars though your home office makes printing copies of presentations redundant, because you can email the pdf in advance and simply share your screen during the conversation without losing eye contact. According to Entrepreneur and Forbes, there are plenty of other benefits to consider:

  • No commute saves employees money, time and lowers their carbon footprint.
  • Employers may be able to downsize office space, expand employment and save on office supply, snacks and other variable costs.
  • Since Millennials and GenZ value flexible work arrangements, home offices make you more competitive and may increase retention rates.
  • Home offices allow employers to access a larger labor pool. The perfect job candidate may not be able to move, but this won’t be necessary with a home office.
  • Working from home makes many people more productive, because they experience less interruptions and can truly shape their office to fit their needs.
  • The amount of sick days will likely decrease, because contamination risks are lower when anyone coming down with something switches to working remotely.
  • Employees may claim Home Offices on their tax returns.

Home Offices have never been this easy to implement. There are dozens of services to manage teams remotely and to make sure team members communicate efficiently. Meetings can simply be set up via Webex, Skype, Zoom or other services. Online meetings are often more productive, because you can easily share your screen to introduce documents and email them to other participants. You can also take advantage of personal chat windows to coordinate with others.

Organizations new to this model have a chance to evaluate the feasibility of having staff work remotely and to get their feedback. Some employers will make working from home a standard option or apply it to bridge days when productivity is low.

Rest assured; Home Offices don’t have to be solely functional. You may even consider permanently transforming a room into a working area you and other family members can use even after returning to regular work arrangements. A separate “office” room can help children focus on their homework. Your spouse may finally have a quiet place to write on their novel or engage in art projects. Here are a couple of home office ideas and tips as inspiration.

Always feel free to schedule a webinar with us to experience some of the benefits yourself! Right now, please contact Ben to see his Star Wars memorability, Adrian to see a painting from his favorite artist Franz Marc, and Natalie for her cats Olaf and Jackson.

The Best a Man Can Get

Generation Z is the most diverse and egalitarian group of Americans we have ever seen. Many established marketing strategies will have to be adjusted accordingly. Companies need to decide whether they take a stand on social and environmental issues, because this generation has lost trust in the political process and is therefore eager to vote with their wallet.  

Donations do matter.  Sponsoring events for those who suffer is the social good people want to see. Corporate social responsibility is beneficial to your community, but how exactly does your business affect the wide range of stakeholders they serve? Providing value to your community beyond fantastic products and great service is how you can differentiate yourself from the competition. This may include social and environmental initiatives that go way beyond donations and sponsorships.

Storytelling is becoming an effective strategy to reach Gen Z, because they are often doubtful of abstract and vague messages like healthy or natural. They want to know where and how is your product made. Are you monitoring your supply chain for ethical wrongdoing and, if it exists, how do you react? Transparency will create trusted relationships with your consumers for years to come.

You may say Gillette using a controversial video is risky. They may have lost consumers, but they have also attracted new consumer segments who value their public stance against toxic masculinity – an issue bouncing around our education system and has been in politics for decades. This new generation wants to see change and since politics aren’t trusted to provide that change, they’re looking at the next most influential group in the Country: Corporate America.

Walking the talk is crucial, though. Figuring out whether your pledged support truly materialized is simple, so businesses engaging in white washing will be called out publicly. There are plenty of certifications and alternative business models to consider. Focus on the triple bottom line, become a certified B Corp or support one of hundreds of social and environmental initiatives.

2020 Marketing Predictions

There are plenty of 2020 predictions for the marketing industry, so we took a moment to weed through industry insiders’ comments. Here are our top 3 picks:

Digital Marketer

Digital Marketer provides 17 predictions from 17 industry experts. Videos will remain crucial for any campaign, and businesses will focus more on LinkedIn and IGTV. “Woke Marketing”, the mixing of politics into marketing messages, rises due to the election year. Companies will need to decide whether they want to be part of a public conversation by taking a stance or remain neutral. Both strategies have pros and cons. TikTok emerges as a potential new platform to reach the younger generation organically and via paid ads. Read more here.

Think with Google

Google provides 10 high-level predictions. Privacy concerns, automatization, machine learning and individualization reach critical levels. Marketers have more customer information available than ever, but concerns about people’s privacy are at an all-time high. Automatization may help keep data anonymous, yet allow us to utilize sensitive customer information. Read more here.

Single Grain

Single Grain provides an extensive list of 42 digital marketing trends for 2020. Not only does Single Grain explain trends, it also uses quotes, infographics, videos and other visual aids. They also provide plenty of valuable follow-up sources, so this is a great source if you are interested in the details. They address topics like conversational marketing, visual search, smart speakers and browser push notifications. Read more here.

Internships for GenZ

Millennials have outnumbered the Baby Boomer generation, and GenZ is entering the labor force. It is time to not only read about GenZ’s habits, but to get to know them personally via internships.

According to the Washington Post, “[GenZ is] known to value compromise […], a byproduct of their diversity and comfort with working with peers from different backgrounds. They are also in line to be an ‘adaptive’ generation. These cohorts tend to come right after disruptive generations that change society in significant ways, such as millennials. When adaptive groups come of age, they take the problems that were brought to light by their predecessors and try to work them out.”

What does this mean for businesses?

Attractive internships for the GenZ generation will have to provide a high level of autonomy. They want to learn about the big picture, but their attention span is historically short. Engage with them on a frequent basis and focus on where they feel most comfortable: the digital realm.

Providing meaningful work and engaged mentoring are necessary if you plan to hire interns. GenZ is a generation of doers. The more they get involved with the key operations of your business, and how they fit into their ideological world view, the more likely they are to stay.

There is even a new kind of mentoring you may want to consider: reverse mentoring. GenZ are digital natives who want to change the world. They have a unique way of looking at the world which is an asset for management and beyond. Confront your intern with a challenge the business is currently facing, and ask her to come up with a plan by doing research, interviewing employees, etc. Let them share new trends and innovative solutions. Let them mentor management whenever appropriate.

We at Media Link have been enjoying insights from our interns for many years. We take time getting to know our interns from the start, so we can create an individualized bundle of responsibilities and tasks to improve the skills necessary for their future careers. Some of our interns like to focus on creative tasks such as copy writing and social media; others prefer the data driven nature of market research and tracking campaign success – our goal is to create a good fit. Interns meet with our internship coordinator on a regular basis to talk about their progress and to adjust tasks where needed.

Around 10 students run though our internship program each year.  We are so proud to see their growth and see where their path after graduation takes them.  Over the last few years, we have extended our mentoring into a part-time position for those interns who have exhibited a special passion for our field. This ensures they can continue to grow both personally and professionally to help them better prepare to be our next generation of marketing professionals.

Net(-)working

We all know it’s crucial to foster relationships in and out of the office. Reach out and make connections with people in different fields, so you can take advantage of anything that comes up.

But don’t forget the digital realm. Dig up old LinkedIn posts and polish them up before reposting them to be more relevant to today’s standards. This way, you are using content you are already know, which they may have missed when you posted it a couple years ago.

Live text chats have increased in popularity. Larger businesses profit from setting up a live chat option on their website, so customers can instantly get in touch.

Google your key words into a search engine and see the top results. If they aren’t competitors of yours, then reach out and try to strike a deal with them to put your information on their site. This way you are indirectly on the first page of search results, which will greatly increase your exposure.

Pay close attention to how users interact with your website and react to the results you find. Always keep updating your site and listen to what your users are asking, because they’re the ones you want to keep happy.

Hosting webinars is increasingly popular. The more focused a webinar, the more relevant it will be for your clients/customers to log in to listen and interact. Another video-based tactic is vlogging, or video blogging.

If you notice your customers showing an interest in your articles, then don’t ignore them. Respond to comments and thank them for contributing. Consider writing an e-book, if you have a good amount of complementary copy available.

Its common knowledge social media is one of the largest driving forces for companies, but don’t just use the most well-known sites. Consider expanding to sites like reddit and others with great online communities.

Last consider adding a “call to action” or CTA to your site.  This tool leaves spots all over your site to encourage users to act. You could offer your e-book as a download.  

Introduction to Photography Marketing

There are endless steps you can take to improve your career in photography marketing. The first step you should consider is figuring out what kind of photography you lean towards. What kind of pictures do you enjoy taking and what kind of subjects do you think you are good at capturing? There are people who can capture a landscape photo, but don’t know how to take an appealing picture of food. It’s imperative to find your strengths and weaknesses.

In fact, it is usually easier to build a brand on a specific field of photography, so your clients also know your strengths and what kind of photography they will be see from your service.

It may be appealing to get as many clients as possible, but this instinct may be misleading. You want to get the right customers who are looking for what you have to offer. That way they are more likely to return for more, as well as refer you to friends and family, which is far more important than making $100 from one client and never seeing them again, or worse, getting negative public feedback.

Another helpful strategy is keeping track of customers. Not only is it convenient to be able to pull up records in case someone has a question or a comment about a past shoot, but it will allow you to contact previous clients to remind them of your abilities and your availability for another photo shoot.  It is also a good idea to make an email list of your clients and email them periodically to update them about your recent jobs, as well as any promotional offers or updates.

As with many fields, social media is a critical marketing platform for photographers too. Everyone knows Instagram, Facebook and the other top social media platforms, but many people don’t consider using Pinterest or blog posts. People can be reached on a variety of sites, so make sure you market yourself on all relevant options to increase your reach.

Also be sure to reach out to non-profits that coincide with your interests and your kind of photography.  You may not be able to be paid for this kind of service, but you will be able to build your portfolio and your exposure with these organizations will help to build your reputation and demonstrate your skills.

Our last tidbit of advice is to make connections with the people who hire you for shoots. Never be afraid to ask for a reference and/or a review.

With whatever field you decide to follow, there is a lot you can do to take your career to the next level, but with all of these steps listed above never forget to stay true to who you are and why you’ve chosen this career. Learn more here.

Marketing Consultant Position

Mission of this Position: 

To recruit and manage long term relationships with organizations in need of detailed marketing and communications support either through the services of a full-service advertising agency or through the use of Media Link’s media planning/buying software.  As well as manage and maintain social media and public relations for a variety of clients.

The Marketing Consultant position consists of the following four elements:

Media Link Account Acquisition and Management

  • Generating leads/Cold-Calls/Intro appointments: you will be expected to analyze potential new accounts, come up with campaign proposals, and follow through with campaigns with the support of colleagues
  • Account Management: prepare proposals for broadcast, online and print buys in Media Link Software™

Media Link Software™ Account Acquisition and Management

  • Generating leads/Cold-Calls/Intro appointments: research and contact prospective accounts
  • Perform MLS demonstrations via webinars
  • Account Management: conduct trainings, customer support and maintain a positive relationship

Social Media Management

  • Manage accounts’ social media
  • Create content for social media campaigns, including occasional clients site visits
  • Create meaningful social media reports
  • Stay up to date on Social Media trends

Public Relations Management

  • Write and/or edit press releases and pitches for Media Link clients
  • Send out releases and follow up with media
  • Create meaningful reports
  • Maintain a positive relationship with local media and coach clients on public relations management

Requirements:

  • Excellent writing skills
  • Enthusiasm for the agency sales process
  • Knowledge of the media buying/marketing industry
  • Can demonstrate organizational/time management skills, a proactive nature and passion for a fast-paced and constantly changing industry
  • College degree in marketing, business, communications or related fields

Benefits with this Position:

  • Base salary, plus Commission
  • A seminar stipend
  • Health Insurance with HSA available after 6 months of employment
  • Simple IRA with matching available after 1 year of employment 
  • Vacation available after six months
  • 12 paid Holidays per year

Please email a resume and cover letter to natalie@medialinkinc.com.

The Art of Sports Marketing

Marketing for a sports team is a very different animal than marketing many more conventional products. Sports marketers still use media like radio, TV and social media to reach their target audiences, but their goals and messaging is rarely what would be considered a direct sale or ‘buy it now’ approach. Instead, their focus is on building relationships to foster fan loyalty and manage different fan experiences. While there certainly is a degree of selling branded products and navigating sponsorships, for the purposes of this blog we will focus on the fan relationship.

  • It’s Not All About Product Sales

Of course sports marketers want to encourage more people to watch games and attend team related events, but most sports marketers aren’t focusing the bulk of their efforts promoting game night. A good example of this is the approach the Brewers took. They made a point of positioning themselves as the team of all Milwaukee residents and their fans are the exclusive reason they play. The “we are your team, we are you” approach was part of a larger push to build fan investment in the team to people who aren’t necessarily avid sports fans, but still want to be connected to their community.

  • Generational Connection Building

Another huge part of what sports marketers are doing is fostering connections with the new generation of fans. Younger fans are less likely to find the hometown connection compelling. Many people who feel they are sports fans grew up with a family connection to a particular sport or team. Tapping into that youthful “Wow” factor and creating an engaging experience for a younger fan is a sure-fire way to foster a life-long love of the team. Growth of long-term relationships and hero building within younger demographic groups is like banking positive social capital to build a community around the team.

  • The  Party Goers and Families

Along with younger fans and family groups who go to a game day for a fun outing, are the party goers. These folks are primarily looking to have a good time, often involving alcohol. Offering a combined experience for these two groups is a balancing act with thin margins as family groups are less likely to be tolerant of rowdy behavior. Family oriented experiences like mascot races are a great opportunity to cater specifically to younger fans interests while giving more excitable fans a chance to stretch and grab another beer.

  • Big Spenders

While most of us will be satisfied with some nice bowl seats, there are always the ever coveted box seats. This is an entirely different experience than the groups we have previously mentioned. While there are most certainly avid sports fans among the corporate seat and box seat owners, these VIP sections are geared towards those who want to see and be seen. These high end experiences are often carefully choreographed to ensure the best experience for the highest spenders. Much like first class on a plane, there are often exclusive perks related to having such seats like better food amenities and personalized service.

At its core, sports marketing is the business of relationship management and experience building. Unlike most product driven industries, sports marketers do not have direct control over their ‘products’ as injuries and play controversy can arise within a moment’s notice. Emotional and experiential memories last for a long time and can be difficult to reverse if negative. Mastering the promotion of ancillary experiences and community management creates and grows fan bases across generations.