Marketer Shaming

chicago skyline danielle geva

My cousin is only 10 years old and has already learnt the difference between B2B and B2C marketing. It helps that both of her parents are marketing executives, but she still understands the real world much better than I did at her age. So the other night when she asked me what I actually do for a living, I could’ve either dumbed it down or told her straight up. Instead, I avoided the question. Like I always do with family.

I’ve been doing the same thing for over 7 years now, and still haven’t really talked about the details with my family. At first it was because the concept of a startup marketing consultant was so foreign, that every time I tried to explain the appeal of it I was asked why I don’t just go to a headhunter and get a real job. Then as online community management became more of a thing, no one could get over how I got paid to tweet let alone that there was more to startup marketing than posting social media updates.

The biggest hang up of it all was admitting that I was a marketer. If you’re hiding something from the people who love you and know you best, then you should ask yourself why are you ashamed of it. I could’ve been patient and explained that I helped new companies build communities around a product that makes those people’s lives better. I could’ve chatted about companies that failed even though they were valuable just because no one has ever heard of them. But any way I’d spin it, the word marketing would have to be included. This was difficult because for years I thought marketing would be the last field I’d end up in.

Growing up I wanted to be a designer or an artist of some sort. I was very vocal about how marketing was evil and manipulative. Creating value was much more important to me than making people believe something that may or may not be true. Many people still think marketing and sales are evil, but that’s just a generalization that can be true within any field. Trying to help incredibly talented creators share their ideas with the world can be done ethically, and there are tons of non-spammy marketers out there committed to figuring out how to reach the right people with the right solution to their problem. It took me years to learn this, and even longer to publicly stand up for marketing.

The only way for me to confidently talk about my work is by swallowing my pride and admitting I was wrong. Out loud.

 

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Startup Marketing Plan [Template]

Company Overview

Name
The name you plan to use across all your branding and communications.

For example, deciding to omit accents in Hōjicha Co. or including them since it’s the official company name.

URL
The main url used across all of your branding and communications.

For example, App.net launched at alpha.app.net even though they have many custom landing pages.

Tagline
Typically 3-5 words that succinctly convey the high level concept in an appealing way. This may evolve over time with customer feedback, but you can get started by browsing through AngelList startups for inspiration.

Pitch
[Company Name] is a [Product/Service] that [Benefit] for [Target Customer] who [Problem/Opportunity]

Description
Unlike your pitch, this can be longer and provide more detail into your features and competitive advantage. You should create one description that will consistently appear on of all your branding and communications, but you might also want to be ready with a few personalized versions for different types of audiences.

Positioning
The following questions will determine the why and how of all of your marketing initiatives.

  1. Why do you exist?
  2. What are your values?
  3. What five words do people think about when they think about your company?

Read this post by Thomas for some great advice about positioning.

Customers

Target Audience

Decide on a target audience and include as much detail as possible. You likely have a large market in mind, but you should start by targeting a smaller niche. You’re not prohibiting anyone from accessing your product, you’re just focusing your efforts to better acquire early customers.

Personas
Create 3-5 ideal customer personas that include the following:

  1. Demographics
  2. Interests and habits
  3. Challenges relating to your solution

There’s some more information you might want to include as Uberflip suggests. It’s helpful to start by picking 50 real people that would be your ideal customer. Find out as much as possible about them through online search, record it all in a spreadsheet, and try to find patterns.

Goals

Decide on a couple of a goals you’d like to achieve through marketing.

For example:

  1. Grow userbase by 10% week over week
  2. Increase customer retention to 85% per month
  3. Build a mailing list of 100K subscribers

Strategies
Each goal above should be broken down into one or more strategies.

For example:

  1. Increase customer retention to 85% per month
    • Onboarding
    • Email Marketing
    • Social Media

April has written a comprehensive post about startup marketing that includes most strategies.

Tactics
These are the detailed actions you will take for each strategy and corresponding goal.

For example:

  1. Increase customer retention to 85% per month
    • Email Marketing
      • New users receive a welcome email
      • All users receive a monthly email with new features
      • Inactive users receive an email

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Nasty Gal is killing it on Instagram, here’s how

My last few posts have been social media audits. Each one assessed a single online channel of a well-known startup. While trying to figure out what brand to feature next, I considered Nasty Gal. The only problem being, Nasty Gal is killing it on Instagram.

Of course there’s always room for improvement, but with no major shortcomings I wondered if I should keep looking. When a brand is doing well, I think it takes skill to point out its weaknesses. More importantly, I was hoping my actionable advice was heard and helped the startups improve their online presence.

After following Nasty Gal’s Instagram account for a couple of days, I realized that even though they don’t need my unsolicited advice, other brands are bound to be inspired by their success.

I often get asked if Instagram is worth it. This depends if your customers are even using the social network. You should also know that Instagram may not drive much traffic (and in turn sales) overnight, but it’s invaluable for building a loyal community. This is partly due to the Instagram feed being one of the few that is still viewed in its entirety by many users.

Below are some actionable lessons that translate to most consumer brands, and will help you tap into Instagram’s captive audience.

Branding

Open NastyGal.com in a new tab, and soak up that feeling. Now open up another tab with the Nasty Gal Instagram account. The brand has managed to duplicate the experience, with Nasty Gal’s Instagram being as vibrant as their site, and full of attitude.

Nasty Gal
Nasty Gal’s Instagram account, managed by Isabella Behravan

The risqué tag line appears on their Twitter account, though it slightly differs from their Pinterest and Facebook bios. This might be intentional, as you should always keep in mind the type of users on each social network. However, your target audience might not change much depending on the medium. Consistent messaging can help with SEO and with conveying a stronger and more memorable image.

The only hyperlink on Instagram is the one in your bio, so be sure to use that space wisely. Nasty Gal links to their homepage. You can follow suit, or be creative and link to a landing page personalized for Instagram followers.

The Nasty Gal logo is used as a display picture for the main account, while a slightly revised image appears on their careers account. You might be tempted to switch up your display picture, but exhibiting a consistent logo helps improve brand recognition.

Sophia Amoruso is no stranger to social recruiting, and having a separate careers account allows Nasty Gal to stay true to their brand. If you plan on sourcing talent and distributing open positions on Instagram, consider that the content that appeals to your customers might differ from what you’d like to share with potential hires.

Content

The majority of Instagram users capture moments as they occur, but creating appealing content that represents the Nasty Gal brand sometimes means carefully stylized product shots and Photoshop fun. These custom images do well since they don’t go as far as pushing generic marketing messages or shooting merchandise on boring mannequins.

Even when a product shot features a model against a white background, she is fully accessorized and looks like she stepped out of a glossy fashion magazine, rather than a dimly lit warehouse. You want your brand to stand out in the feed, not look out of place.

Nasty Gal

Nasty Gal takes full advantage of Instagram’s video feature by announcing contest winners and sharing GIFs. Recently, Nasty Gal created a very short and funny ad for a new app. Understanding the sense of humour of your audience, can help you create entertaining videos that don’t offend your followers. Nasty Gal has also been promoting Sophia Amoruso’s new book #GIRLBOSS by portraying successful women. These insightful videos are well received, as they provide followers with valuable advice and inspiration.

Aside from sharing the classic Nasty Gal look, new fashion and internet trends are also incorporated into images. This goes further than acknowledging seasons and holidays. These images make Nasty Gal part of the conversation, if not an authority, on festival wear and even wildly used emoji.

Nasty Gal also understands which famous personalities resonate with their audience. Photos of them wearing the clothing brand are posted along with a custom url. Followers can then learn more the product showcased, and other favourite Nasty Gal picks.

Nasty Gal

The custom url is added both in the caption and as a ‘location’. Neither of these links are clickable, so you will likely see very little traffic if they are only used on Instagram. If you do decide to include links, always use a custom url. This way you’ll be able to test variables and improve your results. Nasty Gal’s loyal community, solid call-to-actions, and striking images are all factors contributing to increased visits as users type out the url or copy and paste the caption.

Engagement

While Nasty Gal mostly includes a url in place of a location, they do sometimes include a physical location. Adding a place increases your reach to Instagram users browsing images at that location. There have been some issues with location since Instagram replaced Foursquare with Facebook Places, so be sure to pick an accurate address.

Regardless of where the shot was taken, if the people in the photo have an Instagram account, Nasty Gal @mentions them within the caption. This makes it easy for your followers to engage with that person. Instagram also allows you to tag people in the photo itself, but you might want to get permission first since tagged photos will appear publicly in their profile. Either way, the person will get notified which encourages more activity and hopefully a repost of the photo for their own followers.

Adding hashtags to the caption can also increases likes, comments, and followers. Hashtags improve engagement by targeting users that aren’t yet following your brand. Nasty Gal could include popular, yet relevant, hashtags such as Fashion (114M+), Style (87M+), and Vintage (12M+). However, they mostly use their own branded hashtags. Event though these have been gaining momentum, the branded hashtags are likely to only be used by current followers. A balance of the two can have a significant impact on your brand awareness and engagement metrics.

Creating your own hashtags can help you build a community around a shared love for your brand. However, the above only works if that sentiment already existed among your customers. Nasty Gal was able to build a large audience, because it offers high quality products that their customers desire.

Nasty Gal

Nasty Gal has 1.2M+ Instagram followers, hundreds of comments per photo, thousands of images with their branded hashtags, and yet they still take the time to interact with fans. Initially this will be easy to do, but as your online presence grows you will have to make an effort to ensure engagement remains a priority. Nasty Gal knows the value of listening to customers on social media, and this has helped them become a stronger brand with a growing loyal community.


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Social Media Audit: FreshBooks’ Twitter Account

Company Overview

The following social media audit is based on FreshBooks’ Twitter account. FreshBooks offers a cloud accounting solution designed for small business owners.

You can learn more about FreshBooks here:
http://www.freshbooks.com/
https://twitter.com/freshbooks

Branding

FreshBooks’ bio features a succinct tagline, consistent with their other social media accounts. Seeing as many Twitter users reach out to brands for a quick answer, FreshBooks invite inquiries within their bio and assures users that they are available and ready to respond. FreshBooks also proudly displays their location and tracks clicks from the url. A shortened link tends to discourage clicks, but a referral link is a great way to measure how many signups are generated through Twitter.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

Twitter’s profile pictures are pretty small, and appear even smaller in the feed. Instead of the FreshBooks’ text logo, their profile picture is of the green leaf which also appears as the favicon on the FreshBooks website. The green leaf is quickly recognized, and the full logo appears on FreshBooks’ customized background image.

The custom background image includes additional information that could not fit within the bio. The information is presented in bullet-points, and doesn’t showcase a list of unclickable links. Twitter users viewing the account on the web might have different screen sizes, which often affect custom backgrounds negatively. However, FreshBooks took the time to match the background colour to their branding. Upon a closer look, their header and link colour are also the same blue.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

Content

In addition to tracking their website link in the bio, FreshBooks also uses Bit.ly to measure the performance of their individual tweets. Identifying the type of information that your followers prefer can help you plan an effective content strategy and in turn offer superior value to your audience. Bit.ly, Buffer, and similar third-party services, can also inform you of the best frequency and time for updates in order to maximize results.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

FreshBooks has a deep understanding of their audience and shares valuable updates, however, they all seems to be from the company blog. Twitter can be a great tool for driving traffic to your own site, but the focus should be on listening. Monitoring relevant keywords, and influential accounts, can serve as a source of quality content and better position FreshBooks as a leader within the space. Freelancers and small business owners are undeniably interested in FreshBooks’ advice, but they will benefit even more from a variety of expert sources.

Twitter is known for delivering real-time news to users, and often the first place customers visit when they encounter technical difficulties. FreshBooks alerts their followers of any downtime through updates marked with the hashtag #status. Assuring customers that the issue is being taken care of minimizes the pain of the outage as well as the volume of individual complaints.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

Engagement

In their bio, FreshBooks states that the team is available for assistance directly on Twitter. FreshBooks delivers on their promise and provides users with superior customer service. In addition to actually responding to inquires, and those @mentioning the brand, the team does so promptly. The one thing that can be done better is follow-ups. Once an issue has been resolved or passed on, be sure to check back with the individual to make sure everything worked out.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

FreshBooks taps into an existing community of small business owners and professionals by engaging with Twitter users through the hashtag #smallbiz. The use of hashtags can increase the reach of each tweet, resulting in additional RTs, favourites, and @mentions. Instead of only using the hashtag to push relevant content, another way to boost engagement would be to interact with top contributors.

FreshBooks has created several lists within Twitter to organize relevant accounts, which can help the brand better retweet and engage with others. Retweeting other Twitter users provides followers with a variety of information sources, leads to increased discussion, and may even result in people returning the favour. Twitter also allows for private lists that may be used to observe competitors’ best practices and reach out to their followers.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

While scrolling through FreshBooks’ tweets, it was apparent that they have not shared any images for the past couple of months. Multimedia is highly engaging, as seen by the response to a recent SlideShare update (below). Different forms of content can help brands better tell a story as well as enable your company account to better connect with followers on a personal level. In addition to positioning FreshBooks as approachable, visually appealing content is highly memorable and often leads to increased word-of-mouth.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

Conclusion

FreshBooks makes the most of their bio and highlights their commitment to customer service. Due to the past-paced nature of Twitter, be prepared to provide prompt support, as users will expect it regardless of your brand’s promise. This can be a blessing, as a simple reply recognizing the issue will delight your customers.

Be sure to create a profile picture, header, and background that are consistent with your site’s branding, but also be mindful of Twitter’s specific limitations. In addition, don’t expect links in your background image to have an impact as people will rarely take the time to type a url into their address bar.

FreshBooks has successfully grown their account over the past years; however, conversion can be improved by spending more time proactively interacting with others. Monitoring keywords and trends can help brands share timely content, and have memorable discussions that will result in higher customer satisfaction as well as customer acquisition.

If you’re interested in uncovering your company’s social media strengths and weaknesses, please contact me here.

 

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Social Media Audit: Square’s LinkedIn Company Page

Company Overview

The following social media audit is based on Square’s LinkedIn Company Page. Square has a great mission of simplifying commerce, and allowing everyone to accept credit cards anytime, anywhere.

You can learn more about Square here:
https://squareup.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/company/square–

Branding

While Square’s logo naturally looks better in a square, LinkedIn’s rectangular space offers a chance to input a logo as well as a company name and/or tagline. Square doesn’t take advantage of this, but they have created a unique header for their LinkedIn audience.

Social Media Audit: Square’s LinkedIn Company Page | @DanielleGeva

Another custom header image appears on Square’s career section. Seeing as LinkedIn is a professional network, often individuals that browse company pages are interested in that company’s culture and openings. The header invites candidates to click through to Square’s career listings on their website, but doesn’t neglect to list openings directly on LinkedIn. The careers section also has a beautiful, and relevant, video about working at square.

Social Media Audit: Square’s LinkedIn Company Page | @DanielleGeva

The number of people listed as Square employees further demonstrates the passion of the individuals in the video. Whether you have 5 or 5,000 employees, it is important to get them on board as representatives of your company. A stronger LinkedIn page is one where employees are proud to publicly list your company as their place of employment.

Social Media Audit: Square’s LinkedIn Company Page | @DanielleGeva

Rarely do companies take advantage of LinkedIn’s product section. Square does a wonderful job of displaying a full list of their products complete with images and succinct descriptions. Creating a custom header of your product in action might be a bit more difficult if you only provide services, but the text below will allow you to go into detail about your offering directly on LinkedIn to encourage visitors to visit your website for additional information and purchase.

Social Media Audit: Square’s LinkedIn Company Page | @DanielleGeva

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