Internship Experience – Bri Hanes

If you told me I would be helping with market research for national organizations, generating proposals, or attending a network premiere event, I never would have believed you. I did not know what to expect on my first day as a marketing intern for Media Link, Inc., but I knew I wanted to do more than just run errands, file papers, or make coffee. Media Link, Inc. was that opportunity for me; the opportunity to gain hands on knowledge about the marketing and advertising industry.

Through my internship experience, I was able to work on a variety of projects that were genuinely important to the company and the clients. I was tasked with invoices, proposals, affidavits, social media posts, research, and other vital parts to the overall process. With the projects I was trusted with, I felt essential and like I was a part of a team. I am still amazed by the knowledge I have gained in just one summer.

I am grateful I was able to expand my marketing vocabulary and learn the everyday terms used in this field. This experience has familiarized me with a wide range of marketing terms and strategies, from writing blog posts and social media content to learning about SEO and attracting a target demographic. My supervisor and everyone else in the office established a comfortable environment right away, so I was never apprehensive about asking questions and learning new information. I looked forward to coming into the office each week.

My time with Media Link, Inc. prepared me for life after graduation and opened up more opportunities for success. This was my first real life experience with the marketing industry–outside of textbooks and academic clubs on campus. I feel I am better equipped for a career in this field and thank Media Link, Inc. for giving me the tools to be successful.


Keeping Up with Digital Marketing Trends

Digital media platforms are constantly evolving with the goal of meeting the demands of the consumer and keeping them engaged. A new feature may be popular at the beginning of the year, and become irrelevant a few months later. Companies are in never-ending competition to generate the next big trend in digital media. For example, Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., unveiled nine huge new features in 2016 alone. These changes in trends are especially prevalent with social media platforms as they require new and exciting features to keep their users engaged on a daily basis. Top performing social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are working every day to improve their algorithms and generate new features users will implement into their daily lives. To maximize your budget’s efficiency and generate a successful marketing campaign, it is vital to stay up to date with all industry changes.

Visual Content – Text-heavy content alone will not effectively attract your targeted audience. Visual content such as infographics, photos, and GIFs will captivate users initially while written content will keep them engaged. Finding a balance between the two will propel your marketing strategy to a new height. New features marketers should consider implementing into campaigns include:

• Facebook Video Ads – Over three billion videos are watched on Facebook each day. It is no wonder why companies have started to adopt this advertising platform into their marketing strategies. Facebook video ads are engaging and provide an eye-catching, fresh way to transfer information to users. Combine this with Facebook’s targeting options, number of daily users, and bid types, marketers have a unique opportunity to reach new audiences and generate a more effective campaign. To learn more about Facebook video ads, click here https://blog.kissmetrics.com/five-essentials-facebook-video-campaign/

• Facebook Collection/Canvas Ads – Collection/Canvas ads are available on mobile only, yet they present a powerful opportunity for marketers to reach audiences in a more innovative fashion. The ultimate goal is to increase traffic, which the platform has been rather successful in accomplishing. To read about success stories using Facebook Canvas ads, click here https://www.facebook.com/business/success/categories/canvas

• Video Ads in Instagram Stories – According to Instagram, at least 250 million users use the app’s Stories function every day. Incorporating ads within the Stories cycle is advantageous to marketers because they attract the user with visually appealing images and are not over bearing. The ad can be a max. 15 second video or a 5 second image, making it concise and effective.
Digital media is constantly evolving. Companies are working every single day to better position themselves in the marketplace. To better the position yourself and your company in the marketplace, take the necessary steps to stay up to date with digital marketing trends. For tips on how to keep up with media updates, use the following links:


Industry News: Oath

“Billion+ Consumers, 20+ Brands, Unstoppable Team. #TakeTheOath. Summer 2017”, tweeted AOL’s Tim Armstrong in confirming the new umbrella company, Oath, will control Verizon’s acquisition of early internet giants Yahoo and AOL. Business Insider was the first to report the nearly $4.8 billion buy that would give Verizon control over Yahoo’s core internet businesses, namely Yahoo! Finance and Yahoo! Sports, as well as the Huffington Post.

This merger is Verizon’s latest attempt to break out of their existing wireless and landline staples into a more powerful mobile environment and expand their advertising ventures, poising them to become a direct competitor with internet titans Google and Facebook. Armstrong outlined three goals Verizon has set for Oath to build on their newly acquired brands: attract more than 10 million content creators, reach two billion consumers, and achieve revenues in the $10 billion to $20 billion range.  These figures represent a 700 million increase over their current reach and a nearly 12% addition to Verizon’s revenues.

While these seem like lofty goals, Oath will center their new campaign across news, sports entertainment, finance, and technology segments. According to Tim Armstrong, “We are going to basically compete the same way you have cable distribution. We will have an analogous internet distributions system overall. We will also partner with every other major provider: Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Snapchat. We have an Omni channel business model that works basically, not just with our properties and our partners, but across the larger ecosystem.”

The merger with Yahoo will give Verizon access to Yahoo’s email, internet search and aforementioned news services dynamically enhancing Oath and its subsidiaries’ ability to brand advertise to a much larger market than previously available. Former president of digital media at CBS, Ezra Kucharz commented, “Oath can build on its global reach [with] unprecedented access to consumer data and behavior.”

Read more here:


The Media Link Internship Program

We recognize the mutual benefits of a strong and structured internship program. Interns have the opportunity to discover both an industry and a company which enables them to further narrow down their future professional path. They gain valuable insights, and by doing so, provide new perspectives to businesses. Having a diverse base of interns also stimulates intergenerational and multicultural exchange necessary for innovation and growth.

Find more about the benefits of internship programs here:

Media Link’s internship program consists of 144 hours per internship. 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.  Although, we do believe everybody should experience each task at least once to gain a fully rounded internship experience.  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 have the opportunity to continue to grow both personally and professionally to help them better prepare to be our next generation of marketing professionals.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) focuses on making sure people who are looking for your goods and services online will find and explore your website. This primarily works though Search Engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.

This is basically a match-making process. An individual interested in good X types in certain search terms into Google. Google then selects websites that fit best to these search terms, ranks them, and presents them to the person requesting the information. This is where SEO comes to play.

Through SEO techniques, an advertiser can increase the probability of Google and other search engines finding a website, matching it to the search term(s), and ranking it in a specific order.

One way of doing this is through the placement of appropriate search terms/keywords on your website. The first step is to identify vital search terms potential clients are using to look for your product. Are they looking for “footwear”, “shoes”, or “Sneakers”? Do they add certain attributes such as “affordable”, “trendy”, or “for women”? It makes sense to select only the best search terms to ensure a good fit and prevent mismatches. Nobody likes to be directed to a website about flip-flops if you are specifically looking for classy dress shoes for a banquet. By the way, Google’s Keyword tool can help you find variations and estimate the average number of searches per month. This input will also help you with your paid search advertisements, which is a separate element of Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

The next step is placing these search terms strategically on your website. Here is where the structure of your website comes to play. It makes sense to create certain sub-sections that house corresponding search terms so Search Engines can easily recognize these terms. This structure depends on the good and services you are providing. Some firms might want to separate goods and services by brands, others by colors, and again others by price or special features – there is no “one size fits all” approach. These individualized pages should include pictures and links to useful internal web pages or even external ones. Getting visitors to interact with your page will greatly help you compete as it signals to the Search Engine that the content is indeed a good match – why else would someone continue browsing a webpage. Writing blogs about certain topics using these search terms will also help increase visibility and keep clients updated at the same time. Consider inserting a comment section to provide the option to give feedback and initiate a conversation.

If your website is relatively new and hasn’t experienced much traffic, you can increase your visibility by encouraging other websites/people to share your website. Google recognizes if a highly respected website directs people to yours by embedding your URL. You will basically profit from their good performance and reputation. This is probably the trickiest technique, but a great opportunity to become truly creative.

Last but not least: don’t stop improving! Use your Google Analytics data to refine your search term/keyword list and page structure. Experiment and find new creative ways of attracting paying customers who you might not even have considered, yet.


Welcome Jennifer

We are pleased to welcome Jennifer Carter to our team! She brings over 20 years of combined marketing, sales, customer service, event planning, and management experience to Media Link, Inc. Jennifer graduated from Bellevue University in Omaha with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management. Prior to joining Media Link, Jennifer had a successful career working with Lee Enterprises for 12 years; 4 of those years at The Pantagraph in Bloomington, Illinois and 8 most recently at the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa. Over the years, Jennifer has taken on multiple roles in advertising sales and sales management. She not only developed a great understanding of clients’ needs, she has helped develop and implement many successful print, digital and social media campaigns and long term relationships. She now has both the perspective from a media vendor standpoint and a media buying agency standpoint allowing her to create cost-efficient multi-media campaigns. In addition, her role in event planning has been pivotal, as she helped orchestrate the media partnerships, sales, marketing and event planning for the well-attended career fairs in the Quad Cities from 2009-2016.
Jennifer has been a member of the Great River Human Resource Association since 2013 and has served on the new membership committee from 2014-2016. She was also a “Big Sister” in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters lunch buddy program for 2 years.
Feel free to give her a call and say “Hi” at 309-786-5142!


Benefits of Multi-media Campaigns

Diversified marketing and advertising campaigns are vital to an organization’s success. The coined phrase “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” holds very true when marketing an organization’s business.   A business should diversify marketing efforts to multiple “baskets” so that the message is seen and heard by the most desired audience.

 

When making critical buying decisions, it is important to choose wisely and have a “media mix” as much as your budget will allow.  When you’re considering some of your possibilities, here are a few notes to keep in mind on some of the media available:

 

              Newspapers

  • Many readers are paid subscribers, so there is a sense of trust between publisher and consumer regarding the information they are obtaining.
  • Localized journalists and columnists engage readers. Newspaper websites are updated frequently throughout the day to capture breaking stories and attract viewers.

 

Radio

  • Local and regional station personalities have loyal listeners. When they hear a commercial announced by their favorite radio personalities, it is almost as effective as an implied endorsement.
  • Radio is a universal medium enjoyed by people at one time or another during the day, at home, at work, and even in the car.

 

Social Media

  • Social media sites are great for building a relationship with potential customers and enhancing existing customer relationships by offering the opportunity to connect in an entirely new way
  • You can reach your followers by posting updates at close to no cost.

 

Paid Digital Advertisement

  • You can pay using either CPM or CPC models and therefore have a very specific advertising focus (awareness versus driving conversions).
  • You can change budgets, creative, and target audiences whenever you like and target highly specific characteristics.

 

Television

  •  Has the ability to target psychographically
  • The combination of pictures and words can make a commercial more real and illicit an emotion that’s harder to achieve in other forms of advertising.

 

Have your media mix work the best for you by having the different media complement each other, so it maximizes your return on investment!


Marketing ABC’s for Small Businesses

When selling a product or service, marketing is the center point of success. From well established companies to start-ups, marketing helps you find your brand identity and establish yourself in the marketplace. There are several basic marketing strategies businesses can implement instantaneously without much effort and external support.

Establishing direct contact with your target audience is often the most effective and affordable way of advertisement.  Attend networking events with other professionals to build connections with colleagues in the industry and to inform them about what you do. Depending on your product/service, you could give out free samples to break the ice. These samples range from appetizers to brochures demonstrating your expertise. They help potential clients assess the quality of your products/services, but they can also create demand for products/services.

The virtual representation of your product is just as important as the physical. The marketing world today has taken to the internet, which means an online presence is a must-have. Having a professional webpage explaining your products/services has become an essential element and creating one has never been easier thanks to several online services. Ensuring your company’s webpage is mobile friendly is another milestone as the majority of people are now researching products and services on their phones and tablets.

Similar rules apply to your social media presence.  Creating social media pages on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest is a great way to reach your audience in a beyond targeted way. Every platform has its specific characteristics and many have a rather homogenous audience when it comes to age, geography, gender, and interests. Facebook is always a good start, especially as it gives potential clients the opportunity to interact with the company online. This interaction has become the new customer service, so actively cultivating your social media presence with posts and responses is necessary.

Once this has become a daily habit you can consider paid digital advertisement, although running a SWOT analysis once a year will help you determine where you currently stand, where you want to be, and how to get there. Generally, being organized, patient, and consistent are marketing virtues to value. Start with your marketing ABC, let it work for some time, evaluate results, and then adjust piece by piece by adding the D-Z of marketing.


Brand Architecture

An organization’s brand architecture matters. It organizes the relationship between main and sub-brands and determines the perception and reputation of each product and service provided. Let’s take Audi, Bugatti, Porsche and Lamborghini. There is no doubt these brands stand for high quality and luxury, but how would you feel if the Volkswagen Group, the owner of these brands, would offer these cars under their Volkswagen or SEAT brand? The cars wouldn’t change a bit, but the initial perception hearing Volkswagen 911 Turbo S instead of Porsche 911 Turbo S would loose its glamour.

Vice versa, loyal Volkswagen customers, fans of a brand dedicated to be accessible to all people (Volk = nation; Wagen = vehicle; Volkswagen = vehicle for the people/nation), would be confused seeing $25,000 cars standing next to $260,000 cars in Volkswagen showrooms across the US. Volkswagen has actually attempted to establish a luxury sedan under the Volkswagen brand in 2002 introducing the Volkswagen Phaeton, a $70,000-$85,000 vehicle that kept the distinct Volkswagen resemblance. Sales fell beyond short of expectations and production stopped in early 2016.

 

Surprisingly, even an international corporation like the Volkswagen Group violated these basic brand architecture rule of thumbs:

A successful brand architecture…

  • Is adaptable and flexible
  • Is simple and consists of no more than two/three levels of hierarchy
  • Has a strong dominant brand
  • Creates distinctive sub-brands whose audiences do not overlap (see Volkswagen)
  • Is based on sophisticated knowledge of the market and market segments

There is not a one-model-fits all approach when it comes to brand architecture. Every entity needs a distinct strategy taking into account the product/service provided, their target audiences, but also legal restrictions, especially when it comes to financial services.


We are celebrating our 15th Anniversary!

How time flies: Media Link is celebrating its 15th anniversary and we couldn’t be happier! We would like to take a moment and reflect on how everything started:

In 2001, Natalie Linville-Mass decided that she could better serve her this area by operating her own advertising agency. This was the birth of Gendron Advertising. Gendron Advertising started with a handful of clients, many of which are still with us today. Operating from Davenport, IA, Natalie quickly acquired additional clients from a variety of industries. This steady growth allowed her to hire a professional team of consultants to support further expansion of the business.

In 2006 Gendron Advertising became Media Link, Inc. and Natalie and her team relocated to a larger space in Rock Island, IL. Media Link’s specialty has always been media buying and placement; however, it diversified its operations by developing 3 additional pillars of growth over time.

Media Link became a premier outlet for Public Relations in the Quad Cities. We are writing news releases for regional to national organizations, coach people for interviews with the press and make sure your voice is heard.

Media Link also started to work with government agencies by becoming an 8(a) SDB, WOSB, WBE, IL BEP, and IL/IA DOT DBE certified business. These certifications allowed our team to receive local, state, and federal contracts. Whether you work for a state agency or a public college, we can help you out!

Media Link has additionally embraced the digital world by adding a fourth pillar: digital marketing. The team is taking care of clients’ social media accounts and buy all sorts of digital products/services, including, but not limited to, Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Hulu, and Pandora. Media Link has proven its excellence by becoming an officially certified Google Partner earlier this year.

2011 was a turning point in Media Link’s operations. Having managed successful multi-media TV, broadcast, radio, print, outdoor, and digital campaigns, Natalie realized that most media buying software around the Country is not able to sufficiently calculate the best media mix for clients. This marked the birth of Media Link Software™, a trademarked and copyrighted media buying software developed by Natalie and her team of programmers. Media Link Software™ gave Media Link’s first and original pillar of success, media buying, and an additional edge.  We have been told we are the only agency in the nation to develop its own software. Media Link Software™ is now used by agencies nationwide and has made us a source of advice for media buyers across the globe.

Media Link has seen many faces come and go over the last 15 years, especially due to our successful internship program with which we are educating the next generation of marketing professionals. We thank our past employees and interns for their contributions, and we thank our clients for their loyalty and trust!