5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Blog

As we can all attest, the business world changes in the blink of an eye – and the pace at which technology evolves is even more dizzying. With each new, shiny, flashy app, gadget, or device… there’s a newer, shinier, flashier version gearing up to surpass it. In this climate, then, is a blog still relevant? With the first blog published back in 1994 (the dark ages of the internet), is this platform viable in today’s world? 

In a word: yes. Not only that, it can deliver a strong ROI when it comes to key brand-building goals. Here are five compelling reasons why your business needs a blog. 

Why Your Business Needs a Blog  

If you do not have a blog or it’s been left to gather virtual cobwebs, it’s time to dust it off and get to work. 

1.Business blogging drives traffic to your website.

When people are looking for design and construction professionals to help them with a project, they ask the expert: Google! Chances are slim that someone will navigate directly to your website as the first point of contact. Instead, they enter a search query and wade through the results. Sixty-eight percent of all online experiences start with a search engine, and the top five sites garner the overwhelming majority of clicks.

Ever hear the old joke: What’s the best way to hide a dead body? On the second page of the search results. It’s not funny – but it is true! Visibility in the results pages is imperative. How does a blog help? Whenever you post, it creates another indexed page on your website, which translates to another opportunity to show up in the results pages. The more visible you are, the greater the likelihood that people will click through to your site. Brands with blogs, on average, attract 55% more visitors.

2.Your blog can help convert traffic into great leads.

Generating traffic is, of course, just the first step. Next up is converting that traffic into leads. For design and construction services and solutions, most people aren’t going to hit “Buy Now” or “Build My Dream House” directly. Since they came to you for information via your blog, however, they will engage further with a little prompting. For example, you write a piece on “X Top Tips for Designing a Wet Room.” You include a call-to-action (CTA) for a value-add, like “Download Our 2022 Bathroom Design Guide: Tips and Tricks to Transform Your Space.”  The visitor clicks, fills out a quick form with their name and email address, and enjoys the free guide. You now have that user’s information for future marketing efforts.

Include a CTA in most (if not all) of your blog posts. You won’t convert 100% of visitors into leads, but you’ll make strides towards your goals. In fact, businesses that blog see a 126% increase in monthly leads, and that makes it well worth your while. 

Want to make even more progress? Check out Haven’s 9 Steps to Effective Marketing In the Design and Construction Industry. (See what we did there?)

3. You can build authority and trust with links.

When it comes to determining your place in the results pages, Google has a “secret sauce,” if you will. It considers over 200 ranking factors that cover everything from relevant, original content and keywords to page speed and organic click-through rates. One of the most critical is inbound links (also called backlinks). 

Say another website in your space links to your piece on “X Top Tips for Designing a Wet Room.” This is an inbound link. It indicates to Google that your content is helpful, relevant, and of value. Think of an inbound link as a vote of confidence in your authority and expertise. 

Building backlinks is challenging, but the first step is creating compelling content and publishing it regularly on your business blog. A Hubspot study found that businesses with blogs generate 97% more inbound links.

4. It makes life a bit easier.

How many times do your salespeople explain the same service, product, or process to prospects and clients? How much time do they spend answering the same questions? 

Your blog enables you to dig deep into these topics – and then your team can pull them out as needed. For example, if a prospective client is confused or unclear about a certain process, you can send a link to a helpful blog post. Of course, you should always be available to field questions and concerns in-person, on the phone, or via email, but if you can deliver valuable information easily, it helps streamline the sales process and build trust.  

On the reverse end of the matter, if prospects find you through your blog, they have already interacted with your content. You have established authority and a level of trust; you may have already helped them with answers, tips, or advice. This helps you move into more productive sales conversations when they are ready to connect. Remember, consumers interact with three to five pieces of content on average before they reach out to a brand.

5. You can repurpose content for maximum impact.

Creating content costs 62% less than pursuing other marketing strategies, such as TV ads (though we’re not saying don’t engage with other formats). That said, it is an expense, and you want to maximize your return on investment. The best way to do this is to turn one blog post into several pieces of valuable content. How? It’s not magic… It’s just smart marketing.

How can you repurpose content to amplify your marketing efforts? 

  • Turn it into an infographic (you’ll appeal to all those visual folks) 
  • Expand it into an e-book or guide 
  • Produce a video series 
  • Post a related snippet, a thought provoking comment, or intriguing question on social media – and be sure to link back to your blog and website  

On the flipside, you can turn the content forms listed above into read-worthy blog posts. Insightful thought leadership can take many different forms, and you’ll capture people with a variety of learning styles and preferences. Make the most of your content.  

Fastrack Your Business Blogging Efforts 

Of all the reasons why your business needs a blog, the most compelling is that it helps you connect with the people who want and need your services. You have the opportunity to establish your authority and expertise in your space. To tell your story in an impactful way. To move the needle on key brand-building goals. 

Establishing and nurturing an effective blog can be a full-time job in and of itself. Haven specializes in marketing for design and construction professionals. Our team frees yours to focus on what you do best: wowing customers/clients with exceptional service and results.  

To learn more about our inclusive marketing and content services, contact Haven Media.


Choosing the Right Marketing Tools for Your Strategy

Sometimes, you need a sledgehammer and a pry bar or a digital multimeter and a voltage tester. Other times, you need wifi and an app. And from time to time, you need one minute, a piece of scrap paper, and a pencil.  

As home industry professionals, you know that using the right implement, device, or gadget for the job at hand is crucial to success. The same is true when it comes to choosing the right marketing tools for your strategy. 

Do you know which tools to pick up?

3 Tips for Choosing the Right Marketing Tools for Your Strategy 

Do you have a standout product? Stellar services? A team of top-notch designers and experienced artisans and tradespeople? Do you offer exceptional value and quality? Great… but do people know that you have and do all of this? And do they care?

Stripped down to its core, marketing informs. It educates – and engages – folks about your products, services, and brand. More specifically, it educates and engages the right people, at the right times, in the right ways so you can achieve your business-building goals.

1. Go Back to Your Goals

Choosing the right marketing tools for your strategy relies on referencing your strategy. What are your goals? What do you hope to accomplish with these efforts – and with the dollars you put into it? Sending out a direct mailing and hoping for the best just doesn’t cut it. 

According to CoSchedule’s State of Marketing Strategy Report, companies that set clear goals are 377% more successful than counterparts that do not. Your goals will tie directly back to your overarching strategy. You must define what your marketing will focus on, whether it’s…

  • Creating brand awareness
  • Inviting and engaging your audience to interact with your brand
  • Driving potential customers/clients to take action (e.g. schedule a consultation)
  • Retaining current customers

Once that is clarified, the proper marketing tools must be utilized to reach your goals. Choosing them may not be as easy, but that’s where we come in.

Starting with strategy sets you up for the win. In fact, organized marketers (i.e. those who proactively plan their marketing) are 311% more successful.

2.Explore Your Options

If marketing serves to educate and engage, then the methods you select to do so play a critical role in ensuring that your message is delivered – and that it resonates. Rather than 

going on ad nauseum about features and benefits that do not move customers, you will focus on telling your story of expertise in a way that builds connection and trust through channels such as:

  • Print collateral (e.g. business cards, magazine spread)
  • Website design and development
  • Photography
  • Video
  • Social Promotion
  • Blog writing
  • Copywriting 
  • Sales enablement 
  • BrandFolio

Through an integrated approach, you appeal to people who learn and retain information in different ways (e.g. visual as opposed to written or written versus image-based content), and reach folks where and when it will have the most impact. 

Again, it’s about reaching the right people at the right times in the right places, and the tools you deploy will help you hit that sweet spot. Learn more about Haven Media’s comprehensive marketing services.

3.Get the Most Bang for Your Buck (ROI)

If you are not tracking your ROI, you won’t know if you’re wasting your time, money, or effort. Generally, an ROI of about five-to-one (or $5 realized for every $1 spent) is a good target. Even if your revenue is increasing, however, how do you know it’s a result of your marketing efforts? How can you be sure you are using your budget most effectively? 

This is why it is essential to integrate tools that enable you to track, measure, analyze, and optimize your strategy. For example, some important website data to gather includes: 

  • Users: how many visits you have had to the website
  • Sessions: a group of user interactions that took place within a given time
  • Bounce: whether visitors left your site right away
  • Traffic sources: how visitors find you (e.g. through a social media lead, referral from a peer, an advertisement, organic search, etc.)
  • Popular pages: which pages are getting the most visits – and the most engagement
  • Goal conversions: how many visitors completed a specific call-to-action (e.g. made a purchase, scheduled a consultation)
  • Goal conversion rate: the percentage of visitors that you convert 

When you have data in hand, you can identify trends. What’s working – and what’s not? Do you have a great campaign with compelling content that’s just not getting the engagement you expected? What if you changed the call to action? What if you switched up the main image or the messaging? Small but strategic tweaks can make the difference.

From there, you can optimize your campaigns to yield the most favorable results. This allows you to spend your resources on techniques that are driving the most engagement and conversions. Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint; expect that it’ll take some time to fully optimize your initiatives. 

How effective is your marketing? Take our quick, easy Marketing Quiz to find out.

Marketing for Design and Construction Pros

The key to choosing the right marketing tools for your strategy is choosing the right partner. Haven Media was created by and for design and construction professionals; we know what it takes to make a mark in this industry. We also know that you want to get to work, doing what you do best: serving clients and delivering exceptional quality and value. 

We help the industry’s best and brightest overcome the frustrations of marketing and achieve their business-building goals so they can do just that. Connect with us to learn more.

Check out our helpful guide, 9 Steps to Effective Marketing, to get a jumpstart on your goals.  


Is Your Business Recession Ready?

Many industries have experienced a boom in business over the past 24 months, with profits at all time highs, and even the luxury of turning away business. However, the nature of the economy is cyclical, and recent shifts in the economy indicate we could be headed for an economic slowdown. No matter the impact, it pays to be prepared and take steps to keep your business recession ready.

According to Fortune.com, over two thirds of economists believe a recession is likely to hit in 2023.There are many factors in play here, several that impact the design and construction industry in particular, such as stock market volatility, increased mortgage rates, record low consumer sentiment, and historically high inflation causing price increases in both materials and labor.

Predictions on the severity of the coming recession vary widely among top economists. However, most agree that 2023 will see the US economy shrink to some degree. The ramifications for construction and design professionals could be significant, and many companies focus on tightening their budgets during a recession. Often, marketing is one of the first areas that face the chopping block – and this is a mistake.

Marketing During a Crisis

There’s an old saying:

“When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.”

Counterintuitive? Sure, it feels that way, but a century of research has proven that companies that maintain or boost their marketing and advertising spend during downturns and crises increase sales and market share.

Marketing during a crisis allows you to:

  • Amplify your efforts. Many of your competitors will slash their marketing and advertising budgets, dropping the noise level. You can make a bigger impact on your audience – and because costs typically drop, you can do more for less.
  • Project an image of stability and sustainability. This is incredibly encouraging to customers/clients in times when reassurance is hard to come by.
  • Maintain “mind share.” It is essential that you stay at the top of your customers’ mind during difficult times. Mind share and “share of voice” (a measure of how dominant your brand’s voice is in your industry) leads to increased market share.

Exhibit A

During the “Great Recession,” which started in 2008, the construction and design industry suffered. There’s no other way to say it. From 2007 – 2012, the number of construction firms dropped from 891,032 to 743,452 – a decrease of 16.6%. Over two million jobs were cut; and as the world reeled from the downturn, consumers significantly curbed their spending on new builds, renovations, and remodels.

ACo, a design and remodeling company that specializes in kitchens, bathrooms, cabinets and flooring, chose not to maintain current advertising and marketing spending. Instead, ACo increased marketing spending. As other professionals cut back and pulled out, they invested heavily to increase visibility, improve reach, and bring in more business.

While some companies barely scraped by or closed their doors for good, ACo grew gross revenue 3.7x from 2008 – 2011. Marketing and advertising was the biggest single factor in their ability to not only weather that storm but to position themselves for future success. Today, ACo continues to heavily focus on marketing with a redesigned website, a consistent blog, and marketing tools such as their budget calculator and flooring visualizer.

Spend to Survive?

ACo is not an anomaly. When you focus on marketing and advertising during an economic downturn, you increase market share and profitability both during the crisis and after. A timeline of evidence:

  • 1990s: Major companies like Jif and Kraft saw sales growth of 57% and 70% respectively during this downturn as a result of marketing efforts.
  • 1980s: An analysis of 600 B2B companies found that those that maintained or increased marketing spending grew significantly during the recession and for the following three years. Aggressive advertisers grew 275% over those that pulled back.
  • 1970s: The same was true during the severe 1973-1975 financial crisis: companies that increased marketing and advertising budgets saw growth during this period and years following.
  • 1940s – 1960s: During the recessions of 1949, 1954, 1958, and 1961, companies that cut advertising spending saw their sales and profits drop. Those companies were also far slower to rebound compared to those that boosted budgets.
  • 1920s: Companies that continued to advertise throughout the 1923 downturn grew by an average of 20% compared to pre-recession levels compared to a decrease of 7% for those that did not.

Marketing Survival with Haven

Keep the wheels of your business turning during any economic slowdown with Haven and a marketing survival kit customized just for you. Your marketing survival kit will include a mix of digital and print marketing strategies to help connect you with the right clients. We also offer a brand review and discovery with our marketing experts to develop clear messaging and get your business recession ready.

During a global economic slowdown or crisis, it is more important than ever to market your business and keep driving in revenue. Evidence shows again and again that maintaining or increasing marketing efforts is critical to surviving a recession, and Haven is here to help guide you. Connect with us today to learn more or get started with a custom marketing package designed to help your business survive any economic downturn.


effective website

10 Elements of an Effective Website

Searching for reliable design and construction professionals is a lot like navigating an unfamiliar city. It’s teeming with people, traffic, unclear signage pointing you in different directions, and a barrage of confusing sights and sounds. It’s all too easy to get lost.

These explorers – of both new cities and websites – need a guide. You. A compelling online presence establishes your authority and builds trust with prospective customers and clients. Your website is often the first step in the customer journey; it should be designed to draw them in and lead them through the sales journey.

What are the elements of an effective website?

10 Key Elements of an Effective Website

1. Speed.

Why did we put this first? Because it’s just that important. It doesn’t matter if Shakespeare himself wrote your content – if it takes three seconds to load your site, the odds that a visitor will bounce (i.e. click away) increases by 32%. If it goes from one to five seconds, that bounce rate shoots up to 90%. Every second matters.

2. Intuitive, User-Friendly Navigation.

People searching for home design, decor, and construction professionals may feel lost due to all of the choices available and factors they must weigh as they make their decision. When they find you, they need to also find the answers they seek. An effective website is easy to navigate and leads folks to relevant content, contact information, FAQs, services, etc. without obstacles.

3. Clear, Updated Contact Information. effective website

It may seem like a minor detail, but it is essential that your contact information, including phone number, address, pertinent email addresses, and hours are clearly posted and always up-to-date. If not, you risk sending potential customers/clients down a dead-end street – and they will not bother to reroute. They’ll turn towards a competitor.

4. Informative Content.

You may have heard the old adage: Content is king. It’s spot-on. As the backbone of your website, content serves to educate and engage visitors. It answers their questions – scratches their itch, if you will – and gives them actionable next steps on their home project. Nearly half (47%) of consumers interact with three to five pieces of content before they reach out to a business.

At the same time, content that is relevant and authoritative is rewarded with higher rankings on results pages. Search engines are the starting point for 68% of online experiences, and pages that rank in the top spots receive the bulk of traffic.

Ensure that content is web-user friendly; we read differently online. Text should be “chunked” (think lots of bullet points, lists, optimized sub-headlines, and breaks in longer pieces) and easily digestible for people on the go.

5. Visual Content.

You have mere seconds to engage visitors on your website. Visual content is imperative in grabbing – and keeping – their attention. Here are some numbers worth knowing:

  • The human brain can understand an image in just 1/10 of a second. Contrast this to reading 200-250 words: we need about 60 seconds.
  • We remember visual information 6 times more effectively compared to hearing or reading.
  • Websites with compelling images have a click-through-rate (CTR) that’s approximately 47% higher than those without.
  • Content that is paired with relevant images garners 94% more views than content without images.

Video is, if anything, even more powerful. It accounts for an astonishing 80%+ of all consumer internet traffic… and we crave more. A whopping 54% of us want more videos from brands we support, and companies that employ video marketing strategies get 66% more qualified leads annually. Video gives us the opportunity to tell our stories, and when we do it well, there is no better way to engage prospects and customers/clients.

6. Social Proof.

Consumers trust their peers more than they trust brands, at least until they can establish a relationship. Word-of-mouth is the key factor in 20 – 50% of purchase decisions, and it’s 2 – 10 times more effective than paid ads. Today, “word-of-mouth” includes customer testimonials and reviews. Leverage the trust people have in other consumers by posting these clearly on your website.

effective website

7. Consistent Branding.

As the lines between our in-person and online lives continue to blur and vanish, it is essential that you deliver a consistent brand experience for those who are interested in your services. Website elements must align with your brand’s identity, from color palettes and fonts to voice and tone. People should feel the same sense of authority whether they are visiting your store, showroom, or office or navigating through your website.

8. Compelling CTAs.

What do you want people to do? What actions are you trying to drive? Compelling calls-to-action (CTAs) guide folks through the sales journey and directly affect conversion rates. Visitors rely on your CTAs to help them take the next steps in engaging with your brand, whether it is signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or contacting you. It makes it easy and seamless to interact with your team.

Ensure that your CTAs are noticeable and clear; now’s not the time to be wordy or witty. Just tell them what to do!

9. Mobile-Friendly or Mobile-First.

Over 58% of all web traffic comes through mobile devices. If your site is not mobile-first or at least mobile-friendly, you are missing out on opportunities to grow your business. Most (93%) of consumers use the internet to find local businesses, and 90% say they are more likely to make repeat purchases from a company if they have an excellent mobile experience. Additionally, the odds that a search will result in an in-person visit rises by 35% when conducted on one’s phone.

Your site needs to be optimized for these searches; eliminate barriers to speed, create a streamlined experience, and make sure the site is easily navigable.

10. Behind-the-Scenes Structure.

We mentioned the importance of ranking as highly as possible in the search engine results pages. Great content, speed, usability, seamless navigation, and other elements of an effective website will help get you there, but it’s key to implement sound search engine optimization (SEO) strategies as well. These are behind-the-scenes tactics that shine a spotlight on your website, ranging from utilizing targeted keywords to formatting content for Featured Snippets.

Haven

We’ve just thrown a lot of information at you- a lot of stats, facts, and figures. Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Haven Media is committed to helping the industry’s best design and construction professionals create marketing strategies that empower them to connect with the right clients at the right time. Specializing in this space, we understand what works and what doesn’t.

You are the authoritative, trustworthy guide for people searching for design and construction solutions. When you need a guide, we are here. To start maximizing your marketing approach – and your results – connect with the Haven team.

Did you find this article helpful? Check out our guide, 9 Steps to Effective Marketing In the Design and Construction Industry to learn more.


print marketing

Print Marketing that Stands Out: Our Top 5 Tips

The world of marketing is filled with mixed messaging. You’ve likely heard that print is dead; gone are the days of effective traditional marketing. Yet, books and magazines continue to sell and buyers enjoy receiving a flier or catalog to refer back to when needed.

Print is alive and well, folks. The question is, how will your team integrate this tried-and-true form of marketing in your overall strategy?

The Case for Print Marketing print marketing

Before we publish the obituary for print, consider that:

Maybe it’s nostalgia; many people say the resurgence in print’s popularity is down to a yearning for a simpler time. Maybe we simply like to have a physical asset to pick up, set aside, and pick up again when we have time and bandwidth. Maybe – as is truly the case in the design and construction industry – we want something to hold onto as we plan, dream, draft, measure, and envision.

In our space, the tangible makes a difference to our prospective and current clients – and effective print marketing can make the difference when it comes to our ability to reach, engage, and thrive.

5 Tips for Effective Print Marketing

How do you make print marketing work for you as a design or construction business?

1. Targeted Tactics

Physical (i.e. printed) ads and materials make more of an impact on consumers. Research shows that these ads, when compared to digital versions, trigger a part of the brain associated with evaluating the value and desirability of two or more options. Print is shown to deliver better recall over longer periods, create stronger brand association, and build a heightened emotional connection.

To maximize impact, zero in on your audience. Industry databases and demographic information make it possible to target the right people with your print assets. You can narrow in on customers by type, buyer behavior, niche, and vertices in order to produce content that is compelling, relevant, and timely – for them. This also reduces costs because you are targeting people who are likely to be interested in or have shown interest in your product/service category.

print marketing2. Leverage Local Advertising

As a business within the design and construction industry, your target audience is likely located within a specific area or region. While home design, construction, and improvement publications like Architectural Digest, Better Homes and Gardens, House & Garden, and House Beautiful are wildly popular, they are not always the optimal choice for advertising your business.

Focus on publications and print marketing campaigns that put a laser focus on your target audience. The people who pick up these materials are those who are either passively or actively looking for inspiration, ideas, and solutions. When they find you… it resonates. You’re local. You’re accessible. You’re a phone call or an easy visit away. Target local publications and direct email opportunities for the win.

3. Align with Digital Assets

The lines between “real” and digital existences aren’t just blurred; they’re non-existent. Consumers continually navigate between the two to create a cohesive experience. Your print marketing must do the same; it can act as a bridge, a connector, between in-person and virtual worlds.

This can be as simple as providing a way to connect with your business, paired with a call to action. Including a QR code, website link, or reminder to follow and tag your business on social platforms makes your ask for the viewer clear. Never waste an opportunity to connect print and digital assets and use them to create effective campaigns.

Print and digital are not mutually exclusive; when they work in concert, they can bolster each other for enhanced results. In fact, research indicates that print is most effective when it is incorporated into a multi-channel marketing initiative.

print marketing

4. Use Content for Digital and Print Applications

Why reinvent the wheel? When you create compelling content, adapt it for multiple mediums. For example, a quick blurb in a magazine can become a feature on your website – or vice versa. A long-form print piece can be easily translated into blog posts, social media posts, and even infographics, videos, etc. Leverage the assets you have so they deliver the most value.

When creating content across platforms, make sure your brand stays consistent. For example, use the same color palette, logos, imagery, and tone/voice so prospects and customers enjoy a seamless experience no matter how they are interacting with you.

5. Make Print Materials a Special Value-Add

Even though we live increasingly digital lives, we value the tangible. Consider collecting your top blog posts, e-books, guides, whitepapers, and other online content and create a physical asset. You can distribute as you like, but it is often smart to produce small batches and send them to key customers and influencers along with sharing your work on a larger scale.

Putting an Effective Print Marketing Strategy Into Action

Print can be invaluable when it comes to reaching and engaging your audience, while prompting them to take the next steps with your brand. It all comes down to an effective print marketing plan that aligns with your overall strategy. Haven Media specializes in helping businesses in the design and construction industry tell their story of expertise while eliminating the common frustrations and stresses of marketing and advertising.

Connect with the right clients through the right channels. Contact Haven to get started.


anchor statement

Why - And How - To Craft A Compelling Anchor Statement

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek

This is true, but let’s add on a bit. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it – and because of what’s in it for them. They have a problem, and they want to know how you will solve it. Your anchor statement delivers the answer in a clear, compelling way.

Clarifying Your Brand

How many times have you been at conventions, meetings, or parties and someone’s asked, “What do you do?” How many times have you stumbled through an answer because capturing who you are and what you do into a sentence or two seems impossible?

And how many times have you lost the interest of the person who asked because you couldn’t articulate your core identity succinctly and effectively?

An anchor statement provides clarity around your brand. You’ll wow at cocktail parties with your pithy, cohesive answer to the common “What do you do?” inquiry. But more importantly, you’ll clearly convey that critical information to potential customers/clients – while stoking their interest in your solutions.

Anchors Away

An effective anchor statement tells a story to define your brand – and does so quickly and efficiently.

How do you tell that story? There are a few essential things you need to include when developing your own anchor statement. The key components are:

  • The Hero. Your brand needs a hero – and it is not you. Though you’re providing a solution, your customer is always the hero and the focus of the statement. For a custom builder, the hero is most likely the homeowner who wants/needs to build a new home. For a remodeler, it may be the homeowner, or it might be an interior designer they are targeting.
  • The Problem. Every good story needs a conflict. What problem or pain point is your hero experiencing? When it comes to building a house, the problem might be that they find the traditional design and build processes stressful.
  • The Solution. You’re the guide. Show customers how you will help them overcome their problem with a viable solution. Working closely with the homeowner and not overextending their resources might help a homebuilder relieve the hero’s pain.
  • The Success. Share the hero’s success story, the emotions or aspirations they feel thanks to your product/service. For a custom home builder, they might define homeowner success when they have a positive experience and are happy in their home.

Bringing it All Together

Once you have defined your hero, their pain or problem, the solution you offer, and how that solution delivers client success you can bring it all together in a cohesive statement that becomes the anchor for all of your marketing efforts. Take a look at Haven Media’s anchor statement as an example:

For most (Design & Construction) businesses marketing sucks; you don’t know what you’re doing and it’s hard to find someone who does. Haven provides proven strategies and a full suite of marketing and sales-enablement tactics so you can win more jobs, get more done, and provide a better customer experience.

Use Your Anchor Statement Effectively

To ensure your anchor statement is working optimally to provide clarity to your brand:

  • Remember it is your backbone. Your anchor statement is the basis of all campaigns, whether digital or conventional. It is the common thread that weaves through your messaging.
  • Keep it short and to-the-point. Fluff doesn’t fit into your anchor statement. Think of that party guest who is easily distracted by friends, associates, strangers, music, food, and buzz. Your customers are faced with the same flurry of activity, especially as other brands vie for their attention. If you don’t quickly capture their attention, they’ll wander off to someone who does.
  • Develop multiple anchor statements, if necessary. If you are both a B2C and a B2B brand, for example, you may need an anchor statement that addresses the needs of your retail customers and a separate statement that appeals to the trade side.

So, what do you do?

With an effective anchor statement, you are always prepared to deliver a compelling answer. Find ideas and strategies you can implement to build your brand and tell your story to the right clients by downloading our eBook, 9 Steps to Effective Marketing in the Design and Construction Industry.


3 Tips to Create Customer Loyalty

“Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.” Chip Bell, customer Loyalty Thought-Leader  

Your customers like you. They’re happy with the product or service you provided them, and if they need it, or something like it, again, they may just go right back to you. But are they faithful? When they have a need or want, are you top of mind? Do they refuse to turn to anyone else but you? Will they insist their friends do business with you? They will if you make customer loyalty a priority. 

Customer Loyalty Goes Beyond Satisfaction 

We are going to sneak one more quote in here, and that’s it, we promise. Speaker, author, and business coach Jeffrey Gitomer says, “Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.” Now… we don’t think customer satisfaction is worthless. But think of it as the table stakes. This is what allows you to sit down and play the next hand in the business world.  

Build on that.  

Customers who are loyal to and connect with your brand on an emotional level are far more likely to: 

  • Actively promote your business to friends, family, and connections 
  • Increase the size and frequency of purchases 
  • Keep you top of mind 
  • Turn to you whenever they need something 

They also spend twice as much (or more) with you. Customer loyalty has a real, bottom-line, impact. 

So how do you leverage satisfaction into loyalty? 

3 Surefire Ways to Build Customer Loyalty  

Free bonus tip: Do what you do and do it exceedingly well. Then do more.

1. Integrate Your Values 

Take a good look in the mirror. What is it about your services, products, and offerings that makes you worthy of loyalty? Zero in on the qualities that are unique to you, that serve to differentiate you from competitors.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BfWE5wZGZo&feature=emb_title 

Boral Builders does this masterfully by highlighting their exacting attention to detail and the quality of the materials that they put into each and every home they build. It’s not just lumber and hardware; it is people working diligently at every stage of the process to ensure optimal results. Their values evoke the “they don’t build ‘em like they used to” commitment to durability and quality. And then they reinforce the message, “No, we don’t build ‘em like we used to. We build them better.” Integrate your values into your marketing messages and into each touchpoint.

2. Remember You’re in the Customer Service Business 

Delivering exceptional service and a memorable customer experience is paramount. Remember that this doesn’t just mean when you meet with them or visit for a virtual or in-person consultation. It means engaging them through various touchpoints, from your website and social media to your customer service reps to your field crews.  

It also means going above and beyond to ensure they are not only satisfied with their design or construction project, but excited and confident. G&G Custom Homes, for example, works with a select number of clients each year in order to give them the personalized, one-on-one attention they need. They also employ tools like BuilderTrend that allow their homeowners to access their project status, view and approve change orders, see and share photos, track their budget, categorize expenses, and contact their custom home building team anytime, anywhere. This is customer service, and customer experience, at its best.

3. Leverage Brand Advocates

You nailed it. You hit a grand slam with your latest project, and your customers are ecstatic. They’re tagging you on Facebook and Instagram. They just referred their brother-in-law and the woman over in accounting. Don’t let these brand advocates go to waste. Engage with them, and often. Through them, you can gain insight into who is engaging with your brand (and why), and loyalists can lead you to others who fit your target profile. 

Don’t forget to thank these folks. According to the “surprise and delight” strategy, you can proffer special gifts to these advocates/loyalists to show your appreciation. Whether it’s a gift card for a restaurant near their newly built home, an upgrade on a product, or a discounted service, a little token can go a long way in keeping the positive buzz going. 

Just the Beginning 

There are a million and one ways to create customer loyalty, but they all lay on the foundation of these three strategies. Are you ready to build on them? Contact Haven, and let’s get started.  


Brand Building Basics

How do current and potential customers perceive you? When there is chatter about your company, what does it sound like – and are you eavesdropping or guiding that conversation? A strong brand allows you to communicate who you are, what you do, and why you do it to your audience. Building your brand is strategic, ongoing, and essential. 

It can also be overwhelming! How do you do it? Where do you start? Start here. Haven is here to guide you through the process of and introduce you to the key facets of brand building basics. 

Branding by the Numbers 

First, why is building your brand so important? Prepare for some stats, folks. 

  • Consistent branding across all channels boosts revenue by nearly a quarter (23%) 
  • 91% of consumers want to buy from an authentic brand 
  • 82% of investors want the businesses in which they invest to have a strong brand 
  • 94% of consumers will be loyal to companies that value and act with transparency 
  • 73% of consumers love brands because they deliver great customer service 
  • When customers have an emotional connection with a brand, their lifetime value (LTV) is 3x higher 
  • Brand loyalty is worth 10x as much as a single purchase 

We could go on and on. And on. But the point is clear: branding is essential, as is maintaining consistency. There is, however, much room for growth: 

  • 40% of marketers do not think their brand is well-aligned with their long-term goals 
  • Less than a quarter (23%) of consumers say they have a relationship with a brand 
  • while 95% of companies have formal brand guidelines, only 25% stick to them 

Your brand is your identity; it is not only what, how, and why you do what you do, it is how you present yourself to consumers. When this is unaligned with your overarching goals, inconsistent, or unclear, it creates confusion – and this erodes the trust and authenticity that you need to win over your audience. 

Getting the basics of brand building right is essential to your success.  

5 Brand Building Basics 

There are many aspects and facets of branding. The following are five fundamentals that will help you build a solid foundation. 

1. Creating a Memorable Customer Experience

No matter what you do – from building beautiful custom homes and installing today’s most efficient windows to designing stunning interiors and wiring homes – you are not competing on the strength of the lumber, the quality of the windows, the gorgeous color scheme, or the smart switches. Not really. Providing the highest quality is what we do. How we do it is crucial. Ninety percent of businesses compete mainly on customer experience. 

That’s right: customer service is ultimately what distinguishes and differentiates us from the competition. Creating a memorable customer experience is job one in terms of a strong company brand.

2. Personalizing Your Brand

Personalizing your brand puts a human face on it, one that your audience can relate to and trust. Start by clarifying your mission and vision statements and nailing down exactly what you have to offer and why you are in this space. Give your brand a distinct personality: if it were a person, would it be reliable and solid? Fun and fresh? Edgy? Carry this identity through your marketing efforts.

3. Putting the Power of Emotions to Work for You 

As mentioned, customers with an emotional connection to a brand have an LTV that is three times greater. When you work in the construction and design industry, fostering these types of relationships is all but money in the bank.  

The best way to start is with impactful brand storytelling. Our brains are hardwired for story, and you will be better positioned to connect with the people who can help grow your brand. 

4. Generating Value for Others

What do you really offer? What sets you apart from others who provide similar products and services? Not only do you need to clarify your unique value proposition, but you also need to prioritize generating value for others. In other words: what’s in it for them? Tell that story in your marketing, from videos and blogs to social media posts, help your audience understand the value for them. 

5. Building Customer Loyalty

A loyal customer is worth their weight in gold! These customers have a higher LTV, spend more and spend more frequently, and they can become your biggest marketing asset – brand advocates! Building customer loyalty is an ongoing effort, and one that yields incredible results. 

Take some time to learn about each of these fundamentals in more detail. This will help guide your brand building strategy – and boost your bottom line.  

We promised you a quiz, so here it is: Who is there to take the frustration and confusion out of marketing so you can build a compelling brand? You guessed it. Haven.  Contact us today to get started. 


Strategies to Create Value: What is Your Brand Worth to Consumers?

In theory, business is easy! You deliver a product or service that someone needs or wants, they pay for it, and you’re both happy. Well, this may be true if there is one plumbing supply company, one custom home builder, one electrician, one interior design firm, one door and window contractor…. But in the real world, there are competitors around every corner, providing the same or similar products and services. How do you differentiate yourself? With compelling, and unique strategies that create value.  

Your Value Proposition 

Your value proposition is a statement that defines the benefits of your product or service, how you solve the customers’ challenge or fulfill their needs, and how you do it differently (read: better!) than competitors. Let’s look at an example: 

At G&G Custom Homes we build homes for clients that want to avoid the stresses of an average custom home build. Our owner, Joe, believes a house should be a reflection of the people and families that call it home. By selecting only a limited number of homes to build each year, Joe develops a close working relationship with each family and works directly with them from start to finish. This provides a memorable experience and a house they are proud to call their forever home. 

This is G&G’s anchor statement, and it contains the components of a unique value proposition: 

  • G&G Benefits: Here, it’s a gorgeous forever home that meets your needs now and into the future. Well-built and reflective of your lifestyle, G&G delivers outstanding quality and value.  
  • Why G&G Is the Solution: They take the stress of an average custom home build out of the equation. The process is streamlined, smooth, transparent, and positive.  
  • How They’re Different: By working with a select number of clients each year, G&G is able to deliver an unparalleled level of personalized attention and service. This is your builder. 

There are tangible value propositions, such as the limitation of clients and time spent one-on-one with owner Joe Garcia, as well as intangible value propositions, such as the promise of a memorable experience.  

5 Strategies to Create Value   

The key to appealing to customers and differentiating yourself in your market space is to think deeply about what you really provide. What do you really offer your customers? And how can you generate greater value for them? 

Start here:

1. See Through Your Customers’ Eyes 

To generate value for others, you need to see from their perspective. What’s important to them? What problems or challenges are they facing? How will your product or service benefit them? How will it help them solve the problem and make their lives easier/better/more convenient/more fun. Instead of focusing solely on features, emphasize benefits. This is what has catapulted Apple to the top of the tech market! 

2. Prioritize Customer Service

At the risk of making this seem too simple, focusing on customer service is a key strategy to creating value. Without this solid foundation, you cannot build a sustainable company. But don’t just rely on your gut here: sure, we treat customers well! No, solicit honest feedback with regular surveys and ongoing interactions with your customers.

3. Go Beyond Service

Great customer service is fundamental; take the next step and deliver a fantastic customer experience.  Consider each of the touchpoints with which customers interact along their journey, including your website, marketing collateral, physical store, shop, and/or showroom, and your on-site employees. How can you work to ensure each works optimally to delight customers and add value to their lives?  

ACo, for example, is committed to worry-free, stress-less kitchen, bathroom, and flooring renovations. One of the ways they make customers’ lives easier and more convenient is with virtual consultations and digital tools designed to streamline the process. The tangible value of the virtual consultation, for example, produces intangible benefits, such as a sense of relief, of comfort, of being valued as a customer. This is what will start running mouths for all-important word-of-mouth buzz.

4. Provide Value

Create value by… providing value. Offer prospects and customers free resources, such as how-to guides, side-by-side comparisons, new product spotlights, and budget calculators. An article, printable PDF, online customer portal, quizzes, etc., gives a little something more to your audience. This builds brand awareness, highlights your differentiators, and establishes you as a helpful guide. 

You can see this strategy for creating value in action with The ACo Way, ACo’s Complete Guide to Kitchens, Bathrooms, and Flooring which is available for free in digital formats or even by requesting a physical copy. 

5. Inspire 

The design and construction industry is, by nature, inspirational and aspirational. We’re building custom homes, we’re making them safe, beautiful, convenient, efficient. We’re future proofing them so folks can age in place; we’re designing systems and interiors that _can be adapted to changing needs. We’re breathing life into our clients’ dreams. “Dreams” are certainly an intangible value proposition, but we’re the ones who bring them to life. Highlight your ability, your experience, your attention to quality and detail with inspirational photos and videos featuring examples of your work. Capture your brand’s emotional imagery and promote it not just on your website but with an integrated marketing strategy across social channels and even print.   

Showcase Your Value  

Business is far from simple, and in a competitive landscape, you need to articulate your unique value proposition. You’re different. You’re exceptional. You’re the solution. Now, let’s make sure that everyone knows it. Contact Haven to get started. 


Personalizing Your Brand: Creating a Brand Identity That Resonates with Customers

By Katie Mientka

Who am I? No, we are not about to wax philosophical about the meaning of life and our place in it… but we are going to talk about the meaning of brand identity and our place in the consciousness (and wallets) of consumers. In a world where they are deluged in choices, you need to stand out as the design or construction solution. Personalizing your brand puts a “face” to your company – and it needs to be one that customers can trust.

What Is Brand Identity?

It’s you. It is what makes you recognizable to leads, prospects, and customers, and which allows them to associate your brand with your service/product. Your brand identity holds the key to forging a connection between your company and your customers.

This connection is vital; it:

  • Conveys your brand’s personality and values
  • Shapes consumers’ perceptions of you
  • Makes a promise of quality, service, and reliability
  • Builds trust and loyalty with customers/clients
  • Differentiates your business from the crowd
  • Influences purchase decisions

This doesn’t just happen. When businesses are proactive, they take the time to strategically craft a compelling brand identity. If they don’t? Well, then, consumers will fill in the blanks themselves and create your identity for you. You want to be the one guiding the narrative, the one telling the story. And when you do it well, consumers are eager to listen.

Personalizing Your Brand: 5 Tips to Get You Started

This is where our existential question comes into play: who am I? The first step in catching the attention of consumers, and retaining current customers, is to clarify why you are different from competitors. Who are you? And to be blunt, what’s so special about you?

Let’s say you sell and install beautiful, safe, efficient, high-performance windows and doors. There are a dozen other companies in your area promising the same products/service to consumers. Why should they choose you?

Because they know you. Because they trust you. Because you have already provided them with information and education through your website. Because you helped their neighbor or best friend with a project, and they had a great experience. Because you offer something else, something different, something better than the others. And because you have a strong, personalized brand that resonates with them.

Now, to get there:

1. Get Nice and Clear

Start by reviewing your mission and vision statements and ask:

  • Why do you do what you do?
  • Why did you start this business, and why do you continue on?
  • What’s driving you?
  • What beliefs and values form the foundation of your business?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • What makes you special?

While we listed them in bullet form, it is worth spending time answering these core brand questions.

2. Be Consistent

Have you ever walked into an Apple Store? You could be in Montreal, Tokyo, or Indianapolis, and yet, you know you’re in an Apple Store. The brand identity is so consistent and so cohesive that there is no mistaking it. This is how your own brand identity should be across all touchpoints, from your website to your showroom to the signage on the trucks carrying your crew to jobs.

Inconsistent branding elements, such as your language, tone, colors, fonts, and, less tangibly, your values, makes it difficult for consumers to recognize or remember you. It can also create a discordant experience that erodes their trust in you. It takes between five and seven impressions for people to remember your brand. If you show them a different “you” on each impression, you won’t grab them.

3. Allow Yourself to Be Human

No surprise that a key to personalizing your brand is being human. Consumers don’t want to do business with a faceless company. They want to deal with real people; this is particularly true in the construction and design business because they must place an enormous amount of trust in you. Make sure your brand is both human and approachable. For example, if you have a blog on your website (and you should!), “speak” to prospects and customers as one real person to another.

4. Infuse Personality into Your Brand

If your brand were a person, what sort of person would it be? What type of personality would it have? Would it be steadfast and reliable, like your favorite neighbor who always has the tool you need? Would it be fun and fresh, like a friend who’s always ready for an adventure? Would it be glamorous and sophisticated? Rugged and refreshing? Competent and practical?

Professionalism is always front and center, but let some personality shine through in your branding and in your marketing assets (e.g. website, blog, social media profiles, etc.). Take Geico as an example. This company is renowned for its funny (often absurd) marketing and brand identity. Their 75+ year track record and terrific customer satisfaction score, though, ensures consumers take them seriously as an insurance solution. Personality and professionalism can get along quite nicely!

5. Prioritize Transparency

Resolve to be an open book to consumers. You may be dealing with customers who have lived through design and construction “horror stories.” Or they may be fearful that the project budget will explode because of constant change orders or less-than-savory practices. They may just be hesitant to entrust their homes to someone else. When you operate with transparency, you build trust.

Imagine that you are rewiring an older home and the current owner doesn’t know when it was last updated. You say, “Easy! We do this all the time.” It reassures the customer, and it gets you the business. But you know that there’s no telling what’s behind those walls. You could find knob-and-tube. You could find Thomas Edison tinkering around in there. Far better is to explain that there could be hidden surprises and then detail a plan for how you will address them. Transparency is ultimately the only way you are going to win business in the long run.


A Customer Experience to Remember: Engaging the Empowered Consumer

By Katie Mientka

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”  

Maya Angelou 

Now, when it comes to their homes, you can be sure that people will, in fact, remember what you said (especially your quote!) and what you did (especially on cold, windy days when they are safe, warm, and comfortable). They look at and interact with your work every day. But what really separates you from the competition, what keeps customers coming back, what makes them refer their friends and family, is how you made them feel. The customer experience is everything. 

What Is Customer Experience – And Why Does It Matter?

Your customers interact with you through a variety of touchpoints: your website, your Yelp or Angie’s List reviews, your Facebook and Instagram profiles, your showroom, your office, your people in the field, your signage, work vehicles, and marketing assets.

“Customer experience” refers to the impression that they have of your brand throughout each step of their journey. This encompasses everything from “I have a problem/need/challenge” to “I found the professional/company to solve it” to – ideally – “I’m going to refer everyone because this was the best experience!”

Here’s why customer experience, or CX if you want to add another acronym to your life, matters:

  • Customer experience has overtaken price and product as the key brand differentiator.
  • 86% of customers will pay more for a better experience.
  • 72% of customers will share a positive experience with six or more people.
  • 13% of unhappy customers will share an experience with 15 or more people!
  • Only 1 in 26 dissatisfied customers actually make the effort to complain. This is not good news: the rest just leave. (In other words, the absence of negative feedback is not always a positive.)

Perhaps the most telling statistic of all: 90% of businesses compete mainly on customer experience.

Delivering an Exceptional Customer Experience

If you are focused on what you do and how you do it, great! Mastering your craft and honing your skills is critical to maintaining that competitive edge. But also ask yourself key questions:

  • How does your product/service make people feel?
  • How do they experience your process?
  • What makes the experience memorable?

The G&G Custom Homes team, for example, builds stunning homes – and strong relationships. Owner Joe Garcia limits the number of houses he builds each year so that he can focus 100% on his clients. The service is personalized, one-on-one, and designed to minimize and eliminate the stresses of the average build. Clients feel valued, heard, and empowered as they go through this process.

How do you improve your customer experience? We’ve identified best practices to guide you:

Make the Process Knowable

When people are going through any type of home improvement, renovation, or build process, they typically feel as if they’re in over their head. It can be overwhelming, intimidating, and frustrating. It is important that you make the process as transparent as possible. One incredibly effective way to do this: feature helpful, educational resources on your website. Whether it’s a how-to post on selecting the right flooring for your home or a side-by-side comparison of high-performance windows, you can shine a light on the process and empower customers to proceed with confidence.

Offer Helpful Tools

When you deliver a great customer experience, they have no need to go elsewhere for information, guidance, or support. Tools, such as budget calculators, further engage them in your process and reinforces the message that you are the solution for which they have been searching.

G&G, for example, utilizes a platform called BuilderTrend that allows clients to check on the progress of their project, track their budget, categorize expenses, view and approve change orders, access and share photos, and message their team anytime, anywhere. This is over and above, and it creates a positive, streamlined experience.

Make Their Lives Easier

If you can do anything to deliver greater convenience and ease, do it! ACo, for example, promises a “worry-free kitchen, bath, or flooring renovation that allows homeowners to love where they live.” Customers will even love the process! One way that ACo eliminates worry is to offer virtual consultations. In the age of COVID-19, putting client’s minds at ease and showing that you care about their health and comfort is essential. Of course, it is also convenient and, in many cases, preferable for those juggling busy schedules!

Create a Cohesive Presence

As mentioned, customers interact with your company across a variety of touchpoints. It is imperative that you maintain a cohesive, engaging brand presence. For a business like Franklin Window & Door, this means offering a beautiful, helpful website that reflects the quality and value of the brand; it means having a consistent presence at the Indiana Design Center; it means inviting customers into their impressive showroom; it means showing up on the job with the same sense of professionalism that customers have already placed their trust in.

All of these “presences” should be seamless, so customers can move through them and enjoy consistent – and consistently exceptional – experiences.

Build on Your Customer Experience Strategy

Your customers will certainly remember the services you have performed and the products you have delivered. When they remember how you made them feel, they will return to you for solutions; they will refer their friends, family, and colleagues; and they will become your best marketing asset!


the haven difference

The Haven Difference

By Katie Mientka

Construction and design professionals are thinkers, dreamers, fixers, innovators, makers, and doers. When you see a problem, you solve it. When you see a need, you meet it. So, when we saw that dynamic businesses and leaders in our industry were struggling to effectively market their brands, we built a solution.

Haven was created by and for design and construction professionals; as a local company, we have unique insight into the challenges — and frustrations — of growing and thriving in today’s market. Our process empowers brands to tell their story of expertise and connect with the clients who matter. What’s different about Haven and how we approach marketing and advertising? Everything.The Haven Difference

Streamlining Your Marketing Journey

Whether you are building a custom house, wiring a business, or designing the perfect space for a family, you know that there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution. You strive to meet the unique needs of the client and ensure they achieve their goals. You can expect the same from Haven. Our process brings your story to life.

At-a-Glance

Step 1: Initial Meeting

Let’s talk. We’ll start with an overview of Haven and our process — but enough about us; we want to hear about you.

Step 2: Discovery

Here we cover the big three:

  • Where are you today?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • How do we get there?

With these insights as a starting point, we conduct a thorough SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis to fuel your brand for the marketing journey, clear any roadblocks, and get started towards your destination.

Step 3: Strategy Creation

It’s all about branding and planning to connect with your target audience. At this phase, we develop your compelling anchor statement, build and flesh out buyer personas, create a search engine optimization strategy, map out your buyers’ journey, and create calls to action that resonate.the haven difference

Step 4: Development and Implementation

Nuts and bolts time: our team builds out or updates your website to create a seamless user experience, while introducing high-quality content that delivers value to your audience. We integrate results tracking tools to make sure you stay on course.

Step 5: Analyze and Optimize

When you pour your heart into designing or building a space, you don’t just throw your clients the keys and wish them the best. You make sure they get the best. This is why your Haven team establishes weekly scorecards, monthly virtual collaboration meetings, and continually adapts your marketing strategy to results. Rinse and repeat. We’re here, and we’re not going anywhere.

Destination: Results

Our process integrates expansive knowledge and experience in the design and construction fields with insight into what works — and what doesn’t — in marketing and advertising. Haven inhabits both worlds, and we help you navigate them for maximum impact.

Where are you? Where do you want to go? How do we get you there? Whatever your unique answers, the Haven Difference ensures that you embark on the path that leads to enhanced results, sustainable growth, and relationships that propel your business forward.

When it comes to marketing, are you doing the same things over and over again expecting different results? It’s time for a different approach. A different process. A different kind of partner. It’s time for the Haven Difference.


trade show

Don’t Ignore the Opportunity Trade Shows Present

By Katie Mientka

According to American Express Global Business Travel, trade shows were the single most popular type of business meeting activity in both North America and Europe.  That’s as true for those in the design and construction industry as it is any other vertical. Understanding whether trade shows are the right way to maximize your budget and how to select the perfect one to reach your target audience is key before you book a booth.  

Is It Worth It?

For most companies, trade shows are the right opportunity. One Exponents study found that 90% of the attendees at trade shows were there to learn about the products and services that would fulfill their requirements. Four out of five attendees are authorized to make buying decisions at the show, according to the same study. For you, that can translate to qualified leads who are ready to make a purchase.

As important as those leads are from a trade show, they can typically offer you additional benefits too. They’ll let you take a closer look at the other construction and design professionals that market similar services. They may also mean press coverage you may not otherwise have access to. You can also usually pay an added entry fee for product and service awards that could mean a level of validation customers will really love.

How to Choose the Right Trade Show

If you’re convinced trade shows are worth your time, the next step then is to select the right one. With hundreds of options both in the United States and abroad, it can be tough to select one that is the perfect fit. Start with some research. Look at the speakers and attendees, as well as the lists of the other exhibitors. Think about who you want to reach and what step you want your target audience to take. Match those objectives to the shows available. If possible, visit the show the year before. Is it a valuable outlet for a company like yours? Also, think about location. You’ll want to factor this in for two reasons. First, most attendees won’t travel more than 200 miles to attend a show. If your distribution area is limited, you only want to select shows within that radius. Almost as important, though, is the travel costs involved. You’ll not only want to consider the cost of travel for personnel, but also for the equipment you’ll need at the show.

When You Book A Spacetrade show

Once you’ve decided on a trade show, the next step is to start planning. A good trade show can mean months of pre-planning. Start with some goals. What do you hope to get out of the show and how will you measure success? That can help lead you to the right booth design. After all, if you’re showcasing a new product, that needs to be the first thing individuals see. If you’re hoping for one-on-one meetings, you’ll want to ensure you have enough space to do so.

Then begin promoting your show presence. Find the social media information from the show and incorporate it into your own marketing plan. Finally, train your staff to run the booth effectively. Share your overall goals and help them learn more about how to best engage visitors.

While you and your employees are at the show, this is your opportunity to build brand awareness, so make the most of it. Take photos and videos and post them in real time on social media, encouraging your followers to stop by your booth. Better yet, do a Facebook Live video demonstration, and be sure to promote it ahead of time on your social channels. Bonus points if you can involve trade show attendees. A thoughtful and distinctive giveaway or a new product launch can make your booth memorable as well.

Promotion doesn’t stop after the show is over either. Be sure to add any quality photos or videos to your website, write a blog or two summarizing the experience, and most importantly, follow up on your leads. Qualifying leads at the trade show is often the main objective of exhibiting, so reach out to them with a well-planned campaign. Trade shows can be the ideal way to market your company, but there are a lot of steps involved in the process.


cross promotion

Cross Promotion: The Marketing Idea You May Not Have Considered

By Katie Mientka

Actor Leonard Nimoy once said, “The miracle is this: The more we share, the more we have.” Sharing and marketing aren’t terms that are typically paired, and yet there are examples of shared marketing, better known as cross promotion, everywhere.  

In 2006, Nike CEO Mike Parker wanted athletes using his running shoes to be able to access performance intelligence in real time. He reached out to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, creating a cross promotion that helped develop the Nike + iPod campaign that attracted an incredible amount of attention from both brands. The more the two brands shared, just as Nimoy had said, the more customers they had. It’s cross promotion at its best, and the beauty of it is that you don’t have to be two of the world’s biggest brands to take advantage of the same relationship. Instead, cross promotion could be the perfect opportunity to have your brand perceived by new customers and in an entirely different manner.cross promotion

Cross Promotion: The Basics

Cross promotion, sometimes called co-marketing, is a fairly simple concept. It’s two or more brands, for example a home builder and a window dealer, collaborating on a strategic marketing campaign. Both brands achieve their marketing objectives through a single campaign and improve the value proposition involved.

Wondering why it matters? There are actually a few reasons to consider cross promotion. First, it can help you build a new audience. Depending on the company with which you partner, you’ll be accessing an entirely different group of people who may not have been previously exposed to your product or services. You’ll find your brand instantly has broader visibility thanks to this shared campaign. In our example, home builder can introduce the window dealer to a client audience who are building a new home and may want custom window designs. While the window dealers’ clients may consider building new instead of replacing old windows.

Almost as important, though, is the fact that you’ll be saving money. It just takes one graphic designer, one marketing manager, and one material production company to launch the campaign for both companies. It’s economic efficiency at its best. You may even find there are co-op marketing dollars available to help offset the cost of the campaign. While there are typically strings attached to those dollars, they’re incredibly valuable, and they could help round out your marketing budget each year.

Making Cross Promotion Work

If cross promotion seems like the ideal way forward, the single most important step to take is to find the right partner. You’ll want to select someone who has a similar audience type and wants growth. In the design and construction industry, vendor partner relationships are the logical place to start. Analyze their audience. Understand the potential number of leads you might get from the arrangement. Some cross promotions may not be worth the time, effort, and money you invest.

cross promotion

More than that, though, you want a company that already has a good brand reputation. The last thing you want is one that may injure the credibility you’ve tried so hard to build. This collaborative relationship should build trust between brands and loyal customers, as well as helping to establish each company as a knowledgeable authority in their industry.

Once you find a partner that seems like a good fit, it’s time to develop the pitch. Take your time to learn more about their company and understand what kind of cross-promotion might appeal to them. You’ll need to help demonstrate the value you’ll be providing.

When the two of you are ready to get started, develop a co-marketing agreement that works well for both of you. You may consider starting small, for example, with a collaborative article in the next issue of Haven. Set clear goals and timelines, then develop your plan forward.

Cross promotion means sharing your business resources in a way you may never have considered, but the chances are good that this kind of sharing is going to be incredibly beneficial for your company. For more guidance on overcoming the frustrations of marketing and connecting with a loyal audience, contact the team at Haven.


Improve Your Social Media with 3 Easy Steps

By Katie Mientka

Everyone is on social media. Your best friend from elementary school, your coworkers, your grandma. Your customers and competitors. It can be a powerful way to connect, build your brand, and tell a compelling story. If you are not seeing the results you want and need, try these three easy steps to improve performance: 

1. Think Quality Over Quantity

We have an insatiable appetite for social content; Facebook alone, for example, has 2.41 billion active monthly users, and 1.59 billion log in everyday, spending an average of 20 minutes on the site. But at the same time, when you post for the sake of posting — cluttering up their feeds with fluff or irrelevancy, they’ll either scroll right past or unfollow your business.

Create high-quality, meaningful content for every post. This is far more critical than posting every day (or as some brands do, multiple times a day). While there is more than enough fluff (and cat memes), people are also using social media for substantive discussions, information, and research. Whether you share a link to a helpful article on your website or carefully curated from an authoritative source, post a clear, compelling picture of your team, think about your content from the point of view of your followers: will they like it, share it, comment? Would you if you were in their place?

social media

2. Cross-Promote

Make sure that all of your social media platforms (and your website) are integrated. For instance, when you post a video on YouTube, add your website link to the description and add social buttons so viewers can easily share to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., or via email. Links not only allow your prospects and customers to easily navigate your web presence, it benefits your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts

Don’t forget to link your online presence with your offline presence: Add links to social profiles on your invoices business cards, and other marketing collateral; if you’re at a trade show or industry event, invite people to like your page(s). You can even incentivize it if you want (e.g. a discount, exclusive content, etc.) for those who do.

3. Be… Social

It’s amazing (and not a bit ironic!) that the social aspect of social media is often neglected by brands. Interact with your community. It is as simple as starting to respond to those who comment on your page or seeing where you’ve been tagged and participating in that conversation.

Show an interest in those who follow you and in your space in general. On Instagram, for example, you can use the Explore page to find content that aligns with your likes and follows. Follow, like, and comment on these relevant pages to begin building a more extended network.

You’ll get follow-backs from those who are genuinely interested. Again, this is great for both creating a strong social presence and a cohesive SEO approach.

Bonus Step: Test

If at first you don’t succeed… figure out why. Consider adjusting the days or time of day you post; analyzing which posts perform best and creating more of that type of content; seeing which posts are underperforming and shifting your strategy. It takes time to build a solid following, so don’t make changes before you have some solid analytics with which to work.

Social media is a tremendous force, and when you leverage its potential, you can build trust, relationships, and authentic connections. You can also build your business!

Need help? Haven is here to take away the pains and frustrations of marketing so you can tell your story of expertise — in a way that resonates with your prospects and customers.


resource

How to Become a Trusted Resource for Your Prospects

By Katie Mientka

How do you become a trusted resource for your prospects – and why do you need to? 

Henry Ford once said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants… so long as it is black.” Oh, the good old days. Decisions are easy when there are limited (or no!) options. When it was a choice between this brand and that, price or quality was the deciding factor. But today, consumers are confronted with hundreds of brands; the options are overwhelming. Price and quality are not the primary differentiators anymore. What is? Trust.

Brand trust is a competitive advantage; when your prospects and customers trust you:

  • You’re top of mind when it comes to purchasing decisions
  • Customers are more loyal
  • Customers advocate for your brand

In fact, 62% of consumers say they are loyal to brands they trust – and never discount the power of loyalty. It can increase lifetime profits per customer by as much as 85%.

resource

To build that loyalty, you need to become a trusted resource for your prospects and customers. You need to become the answer for which they’re looking and the voice they need to hear. How?

1. Understand Them

Who do you want to reach? What do they care about? What do they need or want? What are their pain points, their interests, their concerns, their questions? Developing a fully fleshed concept of your target audience is an essential component of any marketing strategy. Leverage this information and insight to plan your approach.

2. Deliver Relevant Information and Education

The best way to become a resource for your prospects… literally become a resource. Create and promote relevant, authoritative blog posts, articles, whitepapers, infographics, videos, and other content that answers their questions.

Do they want to know the pros and cons of steel entry doors versus fiberglass? Do they need to know how to choose the right custom home builder? Are they wondering whether to go with Marvin or Pella windows? Teach them!

The goal is not to sell yourself; it is to provide your prospects with the education they need to make informed decisions. You are the resource: they need to trust that you have the best interests in mind. And remember, when they trust you, your brand becomes top of mind when they make their purchase decisions. It’s selling without selling.

3. Meet Them Where They Are – And When They’re There

Content marketing is like that invaluable employee who happily works late. In fact, it works 24/7 (and you don’t have to pay overtime!). Many people conduct their research in the evenings, at night, or on the weekends – when they have a few extra minutes. Online content empowers you to become a resource for prospects any time they need.

Make sure you can also reach them anywhere they are. Multi-channel marketing means you can be in multiple places at once – Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, your website, review forums, Quora… If your prospects are there, you’re there.

4. Align Your Physical and Digital Presencesresources

You build trust through consistency. Prospects need to know exactly what to expect when they interact with your brand. If the experience they have in your physical location, for example, is wildly different than that they had online, it is disconcerting. It is jarring. It leads to questioning: which is the real Brand X? And if they don’t know, they can’t trust. Stay consistent in terms of messaging, personality, language, tone, and style elements.

5. Follow Through

When you deliver information and education, you make an implicit promise that you can provide a solution (whether or not they take you up on it). You need to take the next steps and follow through: do what you say you’re going to do.

If, in your content, you talk about the importance of transparency and communication in home builders, for example, it doesn’t reflect well if you take too long to respond to inquiries, fail to return calls or emails, or present a confusing invoice.

Say what you do, and then do what you say. This is a fundamental pillar of trust.

Build Brand Trust with Haven

Haven is committed to taking the worry and anxiety out of marketing so you can focus on what you do best: satisfying your customers and running a thriving business. We can help you become a resource for your prospects and leverage the power of trust. Contact us today, and let’s tell your story of expertise in a way that resonates with prospects.


Lead Generation and Automation

Lead Generation and Automation: Why It Matters - and How to Amp Up Your Results

By Katie Mientka

You put your heart and soul into your business – and leads are its lifeblood. If we break it down to its simplest components: Leads = customers = profits. But, of course, it’s never that simple! Traditional approaches that silo marketing and sales and traditional techniques that rigidly follow an obsolete, linear “sales funnel” are no longer effective.

Today’s consumers are more educated and savvier than ever. Lead generation strategies must keep pace. The good news: lead automation can seamlessly integrate marketing and sales in a way that aligns with 21st century buyers.

How People Buy Today

The concept of the sales funnel was developed by E. St. Elmo Lewis in 1898, and it followed a linear, predictable path: awareness to interest to desire to action.

Lead Generation and Automation

Many businesses are still using a process conceived more than a century ago! Not only did 19th and early 20th century consumers not have the mind-boggling array of choices we do now, they didn’t have the technology to research, learn, and make informed decisions right in their pockets. They didn’t have the voice they do now or the expectation that businesses would cater to their journeys.

Here’s what the consumer journey might look like today:

Lead Generation and Automation

Add a few loops and drops, and it could be a rollercoaster. Consumers are aware. They may be interested; they conduct some research. They wait and mull. They comparison shop. They read some articles and watch videos. They ask friends and family for recommendations. They make a decision. They buy. They go back and look at other service or product offerings; maybe they purchase again. Maybe they start researching again, based on their experience.

The point is that it is not a straight shot from awareness to action. Prospects and leads interact with multiple touchpoints throughout their journey and keeping them engaged throughout is essential – especially as they will travel most of that way without reaching out to sales. Lead generation and automation can help you keep up with the twists and turns of the 21st century consumer.

How?

  • Collecting Leads Automatically. People enter the consumer journey via various touchpoints, whether a pay-per-click ad, a landing page, a blog, a social media post, or during retargeting (i.e. they’ve left the sales cycle and you want to reengage). Wherever consumers enter – or reenter – the sales journey, lead automation is there to “catch” them.
  • Integrating Sales Organically. When you generate and collect leads, they are automatically diverted to the salesperson who has the best shot at converting them. If you’re marketing, you’re a hero. If you’re sales, you don’t have to wade through cold leads to get to the best prospects. Win-win.
  • Prioritizing Leads. Qualifying and scoring leads ensures that salespeople don’t have to waste time and energy closing. They can get an at-a-glance look at their best opportunities and serve up a better experience. Not-so-good leads can be punted back for nurturing.
  • Retargeting. It happens people show interest, they take steps along the journey… and then they take a detour. With lead automation solutions, you can retarget them and prompt them to come back.

Making Lead Generation and Automation Work for You

Some actionable steps you can take to put lead generation and automation to work for your design/construction business:

  • Optimize Your Content for Search. Because consumers travel most of the sales journey on their own, it is critical to have helpful, educational, and authoritative content. But that’s not enough; you must optimize that content with targeted keywords that capture your company’s identity and offerings – and reflect what people are really searching for when they hit Google for help.
  • Create Lead Magnets. Offer something of value in exchange for contact information. For example, you can create a downloadable eBook or an interactive quiz. To access the insights, they provide their email address.

Lead Generation and Automation

Haven’s interactive Marketing Quiz is an effective lead magnet.

The key to making lead magnets work is to offer value to your prospective buyers. Make it worth their while to give up their email address or other information. They should solve a real problem, be quick and easy to digest, and position you as the solution.

  • Start or Strengthen a Referral Program. In our industry, referrals are worth their weight in gold. They can generate four times higher conversions and net you a 25% higher profit margin. What will motivate your existing customers/clients to recommend you? And how can you ensure that your referral program is easy to use.
  • Raise the Voice of Word-of-Mouth. Share what people are saying about your brand on social media and in reviews and testimonials. Like referrals, word-of-mouth is tremendously effective when leveraged.

Leads = customers = profits. But remember to factor in the marked change that has occurred in consumers and how much power they have to direct the conversation. Lead generation and automation techniques need to catch up to the 21st century, and when they do: sustainability, growth, and a strong pipeline of people who see your company as the answer.


call to action

Writing a Strong Call to Action: Why It Matters

By Katie Mientka

It’s a sad reality, but many companies don’t effectively use a call to action (CTA) to engage potential customers. One Small Biz Trends study found that 70% of small business sites completely lack a call to action.  Wondering why it matters? It is the one chance you have to compel potential customers to take the right action. It builds the urgency often needed to sway customers from clicking away to picking up the phone or otherwise engaging your company to meet their needs. How do you create a solid call to action, though, and where do you even put it? The answer all starts with your goal.  

I Want to Motivate Customers To . . .

call to action

Take a moment to think about the marketing content you produce right now. If you’re like most companies, you likely have a mix of blogs, print articles, social media posts, and your site itself. That mix of content is aimed at different stages of the buyer’s journey. During the awareness phase, they’ve only just realized that they want to connect with your company. Maybe they found you through a social media post. Maybe it was a print article. Either way, they’re still looking for information. As they move to the consideration phase, they have a clearly defined goal in mind, and the information you’re delivering through your blog or website is still critical to a potential buyer. Finally, they reach the decision phase. At that point, your content is still important, but it needs to change. Maybe it’s a comparison chart or a free trial. No matter what it is, what you’ve produced means the difference between a sale and someone heading for your competitor’s site.

Your call to action choice at each of these phases matters. In that first phase, you simply want them to reach out. Using words like prevent and troubleshoot are key to getting the initial lead to make contact with you. As they approach a decision, though, they help instruct your potential customer what to do next.

No matter which phase you’re crafting a better call to action for, there are many things you can do to make yours stronger.

  • Be clear and compelling. There’s a myth that suggests your CTA can only be a sentence. That’s not necessarily true. What is true, however, is that potential customers need direction, and your call to action should provide it.
  • Build urgency. The closer to the expiration date something is, the more likely you are to act on it. No one wants to lose out on a great deal, and building urgency, even in the earliest stages of the buyer’s journey, is an absolute must as you create a CTA that works.
  • Show them the benefit. You want them to reach out? They need to know why they should. The best CTAs help customers understand what unique qualities you have that your customers just don’t.

Where Do I Put a Call to Action?

Once you’ve crafted the right CTA, you may be unsure of exactly where it should go. As with the call to action itself, it depends a bit on the material. Blog, website text, or print article, you should always have a CTA at the bottom of the page. If someone has made it through your entire text, they deserve to know what to do next.

Beyond that, though, there may be times when you want an additional CTA near the top of the page. Think about your website. Placing your call to action above the fold means visitors on a laptop or desktop computer will instantly be able to see it. Given that they may be visiting your site on a phone or tablet, try to put one halfway down the page where they can access it with very little scrolling necessary.call to action

You’ll also likely want to place one where your readers’ eyes will naturally end up on the page. We tend to read from top to bottom and from left to right. Don’t fight that natural visual progression.

A quick note about social media. The call to action is often the first thing to go in social media posts. After all, when you only have 140 characters to spend, you may not want to use them saying “Click here.” That’s a serious mistake, though. Social media posts are as deserving of a CTA as any other marketing you may be doing, so make certain your readers know what to do next.

Crafting the right call to action for a given piece of the marketing puzzle can be difficult, but without it, you might just be wasting your time and money. Connect with Haven today for guidance on creating content and powerful calls to action to help you get in front of the right audience, or download our 9 Steps to Effective Marketing eBook for tips on creating a successful marketing strategy.


boot camp

Improving Sales Performance: 3 Reasons You Should Consider Boot Camps

boot camp

By Katie Mientka

According to Harvard Business Review, a salesperson needs to possess two qualities to be effective: empathy and ego drive. The first one puts him or her in the client’s shoes. The second one makes him or her want and need to make the sale and not just for your bottom line.

Is your company looking for ways to increase sales? What can you do to ensure goals for sales reps are met?

In the design and construction industry, many businesses rely on representatives to drive sales, and you need them to be effective to keep your business afloat. Keep reading to learn how boot camps can improve your team’s sales performance.

Sales Performance Boot Camp

You think you have hired the right people. They have great social and verbal skills. The question you need to ask, though, is, “Can they close the deal?”

When relying on your salesforce in addition to social media strategies, a well-trained sales division is your key to success. Here are a few reasons you should consider boot camps as a way of increasing sales strategies.

1. Tailored Training 

The training can be tailored to be specific to your organization. For example, does your team need some training for staying on top of the latest design and decor trends?

What about learning how to exhibit their construction expertise to assure a client that you are the right company for the job?

Boot camp training covers learning to recognize what makes customers buy certain products and how to connect with customers to form lasting relationships.

2. Increase Your Bottom Line

boot camp

Improved service and a well-trained salesperson will benefit your business immensely. Do you go back to businesses that have inadequate or unknowledgeable staff?

On the other hand, are you more likely to do business with a company that has knowledgeable, well-trained employees who deliver quality service?

With home services, design, and construction clients will shout from the rooftops if they’re pleased with your work. They’ll be repeat customers and will recommend you to all of their friends and colleagues.

3. Learn New Sales Techniques

With an ever-changing world, new sales techniques are developed to keep up with the times. What worked even a few years ago may not work today.

The methods used to reach customers change and customer needs also change.

People spend a lot of time on social media. Being able to browse what’s new in design, decor, and construction is important to potential clients.

Best Practices for Training: Dos and Don’ts

Training is a big part of improving any business. Here a few dos and don’ts when engaging employees in training.

Do:

Don’t

  • Forget to tailor it to the needs of your company and clients.
  • Use outdated methods.
  • Use unstructured training efforts.

Follow these rules for positive results.

How to Drive Sales

Understanding how boot camp can improve your sales force and sales performance is only the first step, next you’ll want to find the right training for your team, and help incorporate what they learn into your everyday business practices.


email marketing

Email Marketing Still Works - If Done Right. Here’s How

email marketing

By Katie Mientka

Email marketing: an effective strategy for building trust and relationships, converting leads, and boosting revenue – or a dinosaur that social media renders obsolete? Well, it depends!

Without a sound strategy, the success of email marketing campaigns is hit or miss (mostly miss); however, with a carefully-considered game plan, your brand can reach prospects and customers, engage, convert, and realize bottom line results.

Email Is Alive and Well

For 99% of consumers, checking their email is as much a part of their daily routine as brushing their teeth, and half check it more than ten times a day. This is good news for businesses, and so is this:

  • Nearly half of the world’s population has at least one email account, and billions of messages are sent each day.
  • Consumers report that they prefer email to receive updates from brands.
  • 73% of millennials prefer to communicate with brands via email.
  • 59% of consumers say that email marketing influences their purchase decisions.
  • About 59% of marketing professionals say email delivers the best ROI of any marketing strategy.1
  • For every $1 you spend, you make an average of $32.2

Not bad for a “dinosaur”!

5 Tips for Effective Email Marketing

Without further ado, our top tips for effective email marketing campaigns:

1. Customize and Segment

No one wants to feel anonymous, and if you’re trying to reach and engage prospects and customers, you have to do better than generic messaging. The average open rate for email is 20.81%. When you make a simple switch and add a personalized subject line, you can see that jump by 50%.

Segmentation is another invaluable way to personalize emails. You categorize your subscribers into different segments based on relevant criteria, such as purchase history, size of purchase, stage of the buyer’s journey, interests, location, survey/quiz results, etc.

This allows you to deliver content that is relevant to them. For example, a Welcome email (these have excellent open rates – 82%) is appropriate for someone in the awareness stage or has signed up to receive your weekly newsletter. An existing customer may benefit from a link to an article on your website that offers them helpful tips (10 Fall Maintenance Musts, How to Care for Your New Granite Countertop, 2020’s Top Design Trends, etc.).

Marketers who use segmentation can see an increase in revenue of up to 760%.3

2. Add Videoemail marketing

By simply incorporating a video into your email message, you can increase click rates by an astonishing 300%.4 Video is appealing, and people retain 95% of the information shared via this format – a much higher rate than when they hear or read content. Be sure to optimize for mobile as well, so the video can play across devices.

3. Spend Time on Your Subject Line

Your open rate is determined almost exclusively on the power of your subject line. Keep it short and straight forward, but at the same time, inject personality into it. Difficult to do in 6 to 10 words, we know! In fact, 56% of businesses that use an emoji in their subject line had higher open rates than those who did not. ? If that’s on brand for you, go for it. If not, go for a no-nonsense approach. There is no wrong answer; it depends on your brand identity.

Subject lines with questions, numbers, and the word “video,” in them have higher open rates as well. Give them a try.

4. Think of Email Like a Tweet

Short and sweet! Getting a recipient to open the email is half the battle. When they do, keep them interested and engaged. Get right to the point: busy schedules mean we don’t have time to sit around reading an epic message. Make sure your language is concise. If you need to share more information, utilize bullet points so it is easy to read. Another tip: have one call to action per email. Multiple CTAs lead to confusion – and no action!

5. Don’t Become a Constant Companion

Don’t bug your subscribers! When people are bombarded with emails daily (or even more often), they unsubscribe quickly. They may even completely disengage with your brand. At the same time, they did sign up and want to hear from you. About half of consumers say that receiving marketing emails about once a week is optimal.

Email marketing does work. With a sound strategy, it is an excellent way to connect, engage, and keep your brand top of mind with consumers. If you want to revamp your approach, contact the Haven team today. We’re here to take the frustration out of marketing so you can get back to work.


How to Use Brand Video Effectively and Consistently

By Katie Mientka

To call video a “marketing trend” does not do this medium justice. Eighty-five percent of the US population watches online video, and one-third of our online time is spent viewing everything from viral hits to branded content. A strong video marketing strategy is a must as consumers spend more time engaging with video and retain most of the information. How do you leverage video to drive business results?

5 Tips for Effective Brand Videos

1. Define and Know Your Target Audience

Here’s the truth: not everyone wants or needs what you have to offer. If you market to the masses, you’re going to inevitably waste time, money, and resources. But when you zero in on a target audience, you ensure that your message hits the right people at the right times, and in the right places.

To that end, consider what channels your target audience is using to consume video, what types of questions, challenges, or needs they have, and what type of language and style will speak to them. If you understand your audience, video marketing is, if not easy, then much more manageable.

Think of it like this: you have something exciting to share. How will you tell your best friend? Your partner? Your family? Your neighbor? You have different methods for each of these audiences, right? It’s the same with your prospects and customers. They need to hear the message in a way that resonates with them.

2. Brand Your Videos

When you watch a Nike ad, you know it’s Nike. The visuals, the impactful voiceovers, the swoop, the sweat. They are a master of branding – and you can be too, albeit without the help of LeBron James or Venus Williams!

Familiarity and recognizability builds trust, so creating consistency in your digital assets is essential. Ask yourself: what branding element should we include in our videos so our viewers recognize it as ours? It could be as simple as including your logo in the upper right corner each time, a distinctive piece of music, or a branded intro or outro.

3. Tell Your Story

Think back to the last presentation you were at or the last industry article you read. Do you – off the top of your head – remember the statistics mentioned? The specific data or numbers? It’s ok if you don’t; it just means you’re human! Within a week, about 90% of any given pitch or presentation has disappeared from our brains.

But you remember when the presenter or writer shared a funny story or an inspiring anecdote. Why is that? Because story is as ingrained in us as running from lions. This is how we’ve connected and communicated for time immemorial.

You can tell your brand story to create an emotional connection with your audience, to explain complex topics, to highlight trends, to show processes, to inspire. And they will retain and remember.

4. Include Social Proof

Social proof is essentially word of mouth – one of the most effective marketing strategies of all time. Peer input is a major influencer on decision-making; in fact, 84% of consumers trust peer recommendations the most. Share customer stories and testimonials in your videos. Likes, comments, and shares are another form of social proof – so promote those videos!

5. Optimize Your Videos

No matter how great your videos are, people can’t watch what they can’t find. Optimize your content to improve your performance in Google results – and YouTube, which is the second largest search engine in the world. A few best practices:

  • Include your target keywords in the title and the written description
  • Titles should be less than 60 characters; keep it short and snappy
  • Include a link back to your website
  • Choose a branded, visually appealing thumbnail
  • Make sure your video is viewable on mobile devices
  • Cross-promote videos (use your platforms to point people to your website and vice versa)

Are you making the most of your brand videos? Haven’s team of experts can help you develop and implement an effective strategy – without all the frustration and headaches. The reality is that consumers love video: we’ll ensure they love your story too.


4 Tips for Developing Effective Sales Enablement Strategies

By Katie Mientka

Let’s face it. Your business won’t make any moves without sales. They’re the backbone of how any company thrives in marketing, and if you don’t place proper emphasis on making successful sales, you’ll be out of business pretty soon.

The key is helping your salespeople master the art of the sale as part of your business model. As the ones who directly handle clients and manage the direct transaction of your products, it only makes sense that they need to be at the top of their sales game when representing your business and handling its affairs.

Sales enablement strategies are one of the best ways to help your sales department run better than ever before. By implementing these strategies, your team will improve interactions with your customers and clients and drive up sales numbers. Keep reading for sales enablement strategies you can get started with today.

Create Good Sales Enablement Strategies with an Outline

The first step to a strong sales enablement strategy is to  outline your company’s unique challenges. Every company has its fair share of challenges that it has to face in its specific industry, and in order to find out what you’re up against, you need to go through and highlight all of the things you need to work on to improve your sales.

Understand the Industry and Its Market

What are some of the latest market changes you need to adapt to? What section of your sales process needs a tune-up? What sort of information do you wish to portray to your potential customers? These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself while trying to create strong sales strategies.

Provide the Right Training Your Team Needs

Training is important for any team member, regardless of how much of an expert they may be in your company’s industry. Teach them how to properly understand the ins and outs of how the business works so they can be better prepared to support your company and produce higher sales.

If your team doesn’t have the right training tools under their belts, you can bet that they won’t do very well with their sales.

Learn the Characteristics of Your Salespeople

Learning from the top salespeople in your company is a great way to help strengthen the sales department of your business. You can take what works for the best in the crew and apply it to teaching other members to do the same. It will also help you to further develop the ones who are doing well by exposing them to more tricks of the trade.

Let’s Build Together

Now that you know a few sales enablement strategies, you can try them out to see what works best for you and your business. There is still a lot more that you can do to generate and convert more leads – and we can help you reach that potential.

At Haven, we specialize in a host of content creation and managed services, including product photoshoots, blog posts, website design, social publishing, landing page creation, and so much more.

Ready to get started? Want to learn more? Simply connect with us to get more info, develop a more comprehensive strategy, or even advertise with us.


Can Social Media Really Help Build a Brand?

By Katie Mientka

Can social media build your brand? That’s a definite maybe! Yes, social media can help you achieve key goals, but with a crowded, competitive landscape, you need to do more than pop up on Facebook or Instagram now and then. A targeted, strategic approach is a must for businesses looking to reach out, connect, and build a brand that resonates with prospects and customers.

Where Are Your Customers?

Odds are excellent they’re on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or another site: 70% of Americans use social media.

At the same time, over 50 million small businesses use social media to reach their customers. There is intense competition for the attention of your target audience. The “if you build it, they will come” mentality does not work. A profile is not enough; even a great profile is not enough.

To leverage the potential of social media in terms of building your brand:

1. Manage Your Expectations

Ultimately, your goal is sales; you can’t run a business if no one is buying. But the route to conversion is complex, and while social does play an important role, the average conversion rate is 0.71% — compared to 1.95 for search and 3.19 for email. The good news is that social media is the number one driver of referral traffic to websites, outperforming even Google.

What does this mean for your social media strategy? If you’re hoping to boost sales by 50% with a few Facebook posts, you’re going to be disappointed. These networks lend themselves to connections and community: when you engage, you can drive interested, engaged prospects to your website. And from there, you can work your conversion magic. Rather than a be-all-end-all sales tool, social media is one component of an overall approach.

2. Ditch the Pitch

If the point of social is to drive traffic and engage, don’t rely on traditional sales tactics. Bottom line: consumers don’t want to be sold to. But they do like to buy – from those with whom they have a connection, those they trust. Authentic interactions are key, as is telling your story of expertise.

We are hardwired for story, and our brains forge intense connections with characters with whom we relate. When telling your story, focus on the customer. What can you do for them? What problems can you solve, what needs can you address, what dreams can you help realize?

G&G Custom Homes does this well on their Facebook page:

It’s not about how great G&G is (though they really are!); it’s about the customers’ needs and, in this case, solving key pain points.

So tell your story: just make sure that your target customer is the protagonist.

3. Consistency Counts

Pretend your brand is a person. What type of language does that person use? Are they formal? Do they speak in technical terms and acronyms (which may be the case for niche or business-to-business brands)? Do they use slang or take an informal approach?

How about their tone? Are they serious and straightforward? Witty and irreverent? What type of style do they have? Are they conservative? Bold? Eclectic? Classic?

When it comes to your brand, keeping these elements consistent is essential. Your tone and language on Facebook or Instagram should align with your tone and language on your website. Your “appearance” (e.g. color palette, fonts, graphics, messaging, etc.) should also remain consistent across platforms. Why?

Because you need to build trust and connection with your audience: they need to know what to expect when they interact with your brand – no matter where they bump into you.

4. Be You

Your brand has a personality. Leverage that to engage your audience and build trust. The simplest way to do this is to talk like a real live human being. If there’s one thing consumers hate as much as sales pitches, it’s corporate-speak.

Again, if your brand is a person, how would that person speak? If it’s appropriate, use humor, use colloquialisms, use regional terms. If it’s “you,” make puns. If your brand is leading edge, focus on possibility and excitement. If your brand is more serious, emphasize stability. Just be you.

5. Deliver Value – and Authenticity

Do you have a tip to help your audience complete a home improvement task? A testimonial or photo of a completed project so they have social proof of your results? A success story to make people smile? An article on an important industry topic? A giveaway, sale, or new product/service to announce? Great: post away. If you don’t… don’t!

If you don’t have anything valuable to say, don’t say anything at all. Every social message should be meaningful. The top reasons people unfollow and unlike brands is that they post too frequently and the content is irrelevant and/or boring.

A great way to liven your posts up and build a strong brand: visuals. Photos and videos, for example, offer great “proof” of your work and they’re engaging. Skip the stock images and highlight your own homes, products, services, teams, and customers.

Building Your Brand with Social Media

So, yes, social media can help build your brand – if you take a strategic approach that emphasizes connection, consistency, authenticity, and value. This can be a perfect medium through which to tell your story of expertise. Are you ready?

Haven is here to take the guesswork and frustration out of your marketing efforts: connect to let us know how we can help.


Creative Lead Generation Strategies Your Competitors Aren’t Doing

By Katie Mientka

Leads are the lifeblood of your business; without a steady supply, you cannot grow. It is that simple. What is more complicated is generating those leads. How do you attract and convert strangers and prospects into customers? This is particularly challenging given the intensely competitive business landscape. So why not try a few lead generation strategies that your competition is largely neglecting? You will gain an edge — not to mention more customers!

Top Tips to Generate Quality Leads

You have an engaging website, a strong social presence, and, most importantly, a terrific team that brings your brand promises to life. Great! Now, try this:

1. Look for Cross-Promotion Opportunities

Cross-promotion has been around for years, but it is not on the radar of many businesses in terms of lead generation. The key is to find a brand that is similar enough to your own that messaging will resonate with audiences but not so similar that your partner becomes your biggest competitor.

This strategy is particularly relevant to the design and construction industries: an interior designer’s expertise, for example, perfectly dovetails with the offerings of a master builder. They’re not going to “steal” one another’s customers: in fact, they can bring new business to both themselves and their partner.

2. Create Engaging, Interactive Quizzes

We’re not in high school math class anymore; most of us really enjoy quizzes now! Especially when they are relevant to our needs and guide us towards the answers we need. An interactive quiz is a great way to present information visually, gather necessary insights and information from prospects, and present yourself as a trusted solution.

When designing your quiz, make sure the questions are targeted and ask only what you need to supply an answer. Make sure each section gives your audience something fun or interesting with which to engage, and wrap up with a strong call to action.

In Haven’s “How Effective Is Your Marketing” Quiz, we use GIFs and other elements to ensure the quiz is fun and fresh — rather than making it seem like homework!

3. Answer Questions on Quora

This Q&A forum has grown in popularity. You can find answers to virtually any question you could ever think of — and a lot you never thought to ask. There are construction and design subcategories that you can dive into, providing answers for potential customers. Search for conversations that are happening on topics for which you are an authority. Be sure to put your name, title, and company so you get that extra SEO boost as well.

4. Optimize Your About Page

Many brands think about their About Us page when they’re building their website — and never again. It’s left to gather virtual cobwebs. Revisit it, and this page can become a lead generation powerhouse. About Us (or Meet Our Team, Our Story, or whatever you choose to call it) is a main point of contact and connection with prospects and customers.

Some tips to revamp it:

  • Break content into small, easily digestible pieces, separated by clear, relevant sub-headlines
  • Add a visually pleasing (but not busy) graphic or image
  • Use your headline to clearly state your unique value proposition and introduce your anchor statement
  • Conclude with a compelling call to action

If you haven’t given your About page some attention recently, now’s the time.

5. Try Remarketing

The buyer’s journey is not a straight line from website to purchase. It often takes multiple touchpoints to convert. To generate high quality leads — and get them to take the next steps with you — try remarketing. This technique allows you to connect back with people who have already interacted with your brand online.

Say, for example, that a Google user searched for a company that builds custom homes. They find your website and take a look. But before they complete a CTA (e.g. contact you), they leave the site.

Lost opportunity? Not necessarily! You know what they’re interested in, so with cookies, you can track them. When they’re on Facebook, you can “retarget” them with an add tailored to their needs. You’ll heat up warm leads, and they tend to convert at a higher rate as well.

Your competitors are unlikely to be taking all of these steps, giving you a prime opportunity to pull ahead when it comes to lead generation.

Need help implementing these lead generation strategies? Haven is here to make it simple, painless, and effective. Connect with us to learn more.


Haven Media's Marketing Survival Kit

Why Advertise Now

A century of research has proven that companies that maintain or boost their marketing and advertising spend during downturns and crises increase sales and market share.

MARKETING DURING A CRISIS ALLOWS YOU TO:

  • Amplify your efforts. Many of your competitors will slash their marketing and advertising budgets, dropping the noise level. You can make a bigger impact on your audience – and because costs typically drop, you can do more for less.
  • Project an image of stability and sustainability. This is incredibly encouraging to customers in times when reassurance is hard to come by.
  • Maintain “mind share.” It is essential that you stay at the top of your customers’ mind during difficult times. Mind share and “share of voice” (a measure of how dominant your brand’s voice is in your industry) leads to increased market share.

The Haven Marketing Survival Kit

Keep the wheels of your business turning during any economic slowdown with Haven’s 3-pronged marketing approach, the Haven Marketing Survival Kit includes:

  1. Haven Facebook Live Interview hosted by Adam Grubb and promoted on Haven’s network
  2. Campaign video for use on website, social, etc.
  3. 1 full page feature story in Haven Magazine written and designed by Haven

DISTRIBUTION

Distribution of your marketing survival kit will include magazine, social, and digital promotions.

Haven Home Magazine is direct mailed to over 19,300 addresses including affluent homeowners, trade industry businesses, and other local businesses in Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, and Marion Counties.

Each issue of the magazine is also distributed digitally to our subscribers and an additional 5,834 emails in our targeted demographic of affluent homeowners.

Social posting and promotion on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. In 2019, our total social media posts reached over 340,000 people.

During a global economic slowdown or crisis, it is more important than ever to market your business and keep driving in revenue. Evidence shows again and again that maintaining or increasing marketing efforts is critical to surviving a recession, and Haven is here to help guide you. Connect with us today to learn more or get started with our Marketing Survival Kit.


Easy Ways to Repurpose Content for Your Marketing

By Katie Mientka

To reach your target audience, to establish trust, to build your authority, to tell your story of expertise… you need content. And lots of it. From your website’s blog to Facebook to guest articles for industry publications, today’s consumers have a hearty appetite for fresh, high-quality information. But content creation is time-consuming and can be pricey. The solution? Repurposing existing content. 

Repurpose Your Content – and Reap the Benefits

In addition to freeing your people to focus on mission-critical tasks and maximizing your budget, content repurposing enables your brand to:

  • Boost Your SEO. Repurposed content allows you to home in on target keywords, helping you rank higher in the search results for those terms. Additionally, if you use the content outside of your website, you can link back to yourself – search engines love backlinks.
  • Reach New People. If you have a great blog post, repurpose it into a social post to get it in front of new eyes. Or shoot a quick video with the key points and put it on your YouTube channel. A multi-channel marketing strategy allows you to reach new people in the places they prefer to search/research.
  • Emphasize Your Message. Repetition is key to ensuring your message sinks in with consumers. When you use consistent language (e.g. your anchor statement) in different types of content and across different platforms, you build brand recognition, familiarity, and trust.

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Repurpose Content

Let’s get to the crux of the matter: repurposing content is beneficial – but how do you do it?

First, identify content that you can, and should, repurpose. Look for “evergreen” pieces (i.e. those that will never be outdated), your most popular posts, and pieces on which you can expand with new information. Then turn them into:

1. Infographics

If you have a piece of content with a lot of data and stats, an infographic provides an at-a-glance way to digest it. Consumers respond to visuals, and you can reach people who don’t have the time or inclination to read longer pieces.

Also try instruct-o-graphics. Akin to infographics, these visuals take viewers through a step-by-step process. It’s like a quick-form how-to with simple pictures/images.

2. Revamp a Solid Blog Post

If you have an older piece that is still relevant but has a few outdated details, dust it off. Refresh the language, add new stats or data, and ensure it is in a format that appeals to readers: bullet points, lists, headlines, add an image, etc. This is a quick and simple way to ensure that content is working as efficiently for you as possible.

3. Create an eBook

Let’s say you have a lot of how-to content (e.g. How to Find the Right Home Builder, How to Approach the Financing Process, etc.). These can be easily assembled into a helpful guide for prospects and customers. Refresh pieces as necessary, introduce new facts or industry events, and create transitions between “chapters,” so the eBook flows organically.

Take a look at your existing content. Which pieces can be brought together into a longform piece?

Bonus: you can offer this as exclusive content if prospects complete a CTA (e.g. schedule a consult, get a free eBook).

4. Produce a Video Series

Content can come alive when you transform it into a series of quick videos or podcasts, which are also perfect for social media. We are happy to help you produce assets with the professional quality you need.

5. Turn Visual, Video, and Social Content into Written Pieces

It goes both ways! If a follower on Facebook asks a great question and starts a conversation, for example, run with the idea. When one person is asking, many more are probably wondering too. Create a post that answers the question and invites people to share their ideas (and thank the original follower on Facebook, too. Social media is about community!) Easy.

Work Smarter – Not Harder!

Content development takes a great deal of time. You cannot create more hours in the day – but you can repurpose content so you don’t have to work as hard to keep up with your audience’s demand for information and interaction. This is one way to take the frustration out of marketing! Ready to repurpose? The Haven team is here to do the heavy lifting so you can get back to work, connect with us today.


Sales in Overdrive: What is Sales Enablement?

By Katie Mientka

No matter what industry you’re in, you rely on sales to drive your business.

If your business were a car, the sales department would be the wheels and your product or service is the engine. It doesn’t matter how great of an engine you have. Without wheels, a car isn’t going to go anywhere.

This is why so many businesses are now turning to things like sales enablement to help improve how well their sales team is able to generate sales to improve the company. Keep reading to learn more about what this sales process is and how you can implement it at your company today.

What is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is a process by which you provide your sales team with the resources they need to effectively connect with customers. It shifts your focus to giving the buyer what they want rather than using various sales tactics to attract buyers that may or may not work.

 

Benefits of Sales Enablement

Let’s quickly go over some of the benefits of sales enablement so you can see how it will have a positive impact on your business.

  • Allows all salespeople to achieve set goals
  • It can deliver consistent and measurable results
  • The process is repeatable

Rather than relying on a handful of outstanding salespeople to reach team sales goals every month, you can use sales enablement to get similar results from every member of your team. This is because this process relies more on the resources your team has rather than their skills.

Sales Enablement Best Practices

To help you start implementing sales enablement, we’re going to briefly go over just a handful of the sales enablement best practices.

1. Define Your Objectives

Before you can start setting up sales enablement, you need to clearly define your goals for the sales team. Knowing what you want to accomplish will help you identify what needs to be done so you can reach those goals.

2. Use Quality Content

Having quality content as a resource for your salespeople to use allows them to easily deliver the same results as others. You also get a high ROI with content, so be sure to include it in your marketing budget.

3. Provide Continuous Training

Don’t make the mistake of only having an annual sales training workshop. Your team needs to be constantly updated on available resources and given new tips and tricks they can continue using to improve their skills.

4. Focus on Buyer Experience

This is the most important point of sales enablement. Ask your current buyers and the ones that “got away” about their experience. Listen to their concerns and use those to make improvements to your sales process.

Need Help Improving Your Sales Process?

Now you know what sales enablement is and how it can help your business grow by increasing the effectiveness of your sales team. As you can see, there are some simple best practices you can put into place to start seeing changes in your bottom line.

If you’re in the home design or construction industry, we want to help you grow your business. Download our eBook for free to learn the nine steps you need to take for more effective marketing.


Haven’s Ultimate Guide to Content Creation

By Katie Mientka

“You need to create ridiculously good content – content that is useful, enjoyable and inspired.” Ann Handley, digital marketing pioneer.

“Ridiculously good content” is the foundation for effective marketing campaigns. But for those who find it easier to build an actual foundation — or transform a kitchen into a chef’s dream, provide creative design solutions, install innovative lighting, or deliver efficiency through advanced doors and windows — generating content poses a significant challenge. In fact, 60% of brands struggle to produce engaging content, and one of the biggest obstacles is coming up with ideas that will resonate with audiences.

Haven Media designed this helpful guide to content creation to get your brand’s creative (and strategic) juices flowing.

Overcoming Obstacles to Generating Content

The 2019 Marketing Survey, conducted by ClearVoice, asked 2830 marketers one simple question: What’s your biggest challenge with content? Developing compelling article, whitepaper, infographic, video, and blog ideas ranks in the top 10, as does consistency. At core, these are interrelated problems: coming up with a few ideas is great — and relatively easy. Keeping the inspirational fires burning, though, requires not just creativity but a strategic approach.

What is the goal of producing a video or writing an article or blog? Providing “useful, enjoyable, and inspired” content is critical, but ultimately, the primary goal is to educate your customers and drive an action (i.e. connect with you for business). You want your audience to see you as an expert in the field, as a trusted authority to whom they can turn. Through content, you have the opportunity to position your brand as the guide who will see them through their project or problem.

“The buyer journey is nothing more than a series of questions that must be answered.” Michael Brenner, author of The Content Formula

Start at the End

The first step in generating content that will allow you to connect with your audience is to establish a goal or outcome for your article, blog, or other piece. What do you want the reader to know, feel, and do after consuming the content?

From there, create a topic outline and note the questions you want the article or blog to answer. Include quotes from yourself, your team, your customers, and/or your vendor partners.

The end is always your starting point when generating content: figure out what you want people to think, feel, and do, and then give them a roadmap to get them there. To do this effectively, every piece of content needs to be:

Specific.

One blog, one idea. Avoid being too general or discussing too many ideas in the same piece. If you find you have related or extra ideas, they can stand as their own blog posts. (This also allows you to compile or rework blogs and videos that center around a particular theme into a long form whitepaper or ebook).

Purposeful.

Creating content is too important to take a “wing it” approach. Every piece must have a purpose. What’s the goal? What do you want your audience to know, feel, and do? If you don’t know, they won’t know, and you have wasted a chance to connect.

Targeted.

Who is your audience? What are their interests? Needs? Problems? Demographics? At what stage of the buyer’s journey are they (Awareness, Consideration, Decision)?

Generating Ideas and Refining Your Topic

So, you know that video, article, blog, and infographic topics need to be specific, purposeful, and targeted. But… what story do you tell? This:

● Highlight a service, product, brand, or a vendor partner.
● Project spotlight: How does your product/service solve a problem that is common to your target audience?
● Customer testimonial: How did your company, product, or service affect the life of someone else? How did it improve or enhance it, make it easier, increase convenience, etc.?
● Brief company story: Why did you start the company? How are you changing lives?
● Company milestones: Highlight company anniversaries, long-term employees, specific hurdles you have overcome, etc.
● Community involvement: What are you doing to better your community? Highlight employee volunteerism, charitable projects you’re working on, your fundraising efforts, or the local youth basketball team you’re sponsoring.
● Seasonal spotlight: What should your customers be thinking at certain times of year (e.g. installing energy efficient doors and windows before fall/winter, revamping a home for the holidays, etc.).
● Your industry trends: highlight a specific trend or do a top 5 list.
● A look forward: what new trends, technologies, or products are coming soon? Create be-on-the-lookout or “what’s changing in your industry?” pieces.
● Problems facing your customers or industry: What issues should your audience be aware of and on the lookout for? Why and when do customers need to call you?
● Debunk industry myths: Most industries deal with misconceptions and misperceptions. Take the opportunity to clear these up!
● Your unique selling proposition: What is special about your solution, service, technology, and/or process? Demonstrate how your USP helps solve customers’ problems.
● What else you can do: Talk about a new division of your company, a new product you offer, or a service that many people don’t realize you offer.
● FAQs: What do people frequently want to know about your company, solutions, services, products, or industry? An FAQ page can save you time and establish you as a helpful authority in your space.

This list will get you started and allow you to build a list of compelling ideas. When you get stuck, refer back to it for inspiration. You have a dynamic, interesting business: don’t hesitate to share your knowledge, expertise, and differentiators.

Flesh Out Your Topic Ideas

After brainstorming and creating a list, take the next step and fill out your topics so they become strong, stand-alone pieces. Key questions to ask yourself:

● Who is your audience? They are the hero of your story — not you! You are their guide, and your role is to help them solve their problems.
● Why is this topic important to the customer? (And if it’s not, why are you wasting time talking about it?)
● What problem does this piece help your customer solve?
● How does this topic align with your business in a unique way?
● How do you do X differently/better than others?
● How will Y product/project/brand/technology affect the future of your industry? How will it change your customers’ lives? It is nearly always more important to highlight how a product, service, etc., will improve customers’ lives. Discussing how the industry will be impacted, however, does speak to your authority and expertise.
● What problems may occur if customers don’t call you when they should?
● What happens when customers try to DIY it? Why should they call a professional?
● Why is it not advisable for your customers to cut corners or skimp on quality? Highlight the importance of doing the job right the first time.
● What is the difference between your brand and big box stores, generic products, cookie cutter builders, or fly-by-night contractors?

If you are working on a customer testimonial, a powerful form of social proof, target the following questions:

● Why did the customer choose your company?
● What problem or challenge did they face?
● How did you help solve that problem?
● What was unique about your solution?
● How has this experience/their results made their lives better?
● Are there future implications or ways that this will help them down the road?

There is also value in utilizing outside resources, like the SEMRush Topic Research tool. With this tool, you can enter your topic idea, they will analyze currently available content, and generate winning headlines, questions, and related topics.

When you have a bank of video, article, and blog ideas, as well as an idea of how they address these critical questions, then you have the tools you need to combat both idea generating and consistency obstacles. It also allows you to overcome another content creation challenge: time. You will not waste your time scrambling for topics or creating pieces that don’t deliver value for your customers — or your business.

Wrapping It Up

Close out each of your videos, articles, and blogs with a strong call-to-action. CTAs are designed to encourage a specific response, and they should be tailored to different stages of the buyer’s journey to move leads through your sales funnel.

For example, if a prospect is in the Awareness stage, prompting them to “Buy Now!” isn’t going to be effective. They are not there quite yet.

Instead, your CTA can be centered around learning more, signing up for a newsletter, or downloading a guide on a topic of interest.

Like this: For more marketing tips from Haven, download our free ebook: 9 Steps to Effective Marketing. Our goal for this guide to content creation is to help design and construction professionals overcome some of the most common frustrations of marketing. We’ll help you tell your story of expertise and connect with clients that value relationships over discounts.


global crisis

Don’t Cut Marketing During a Global Crisis, It Will Backfire

 By Katie Mientka

We are going into crisis mode. The coronavirus situation is evolving at such a rapid pace that last hour’s news is now outdated. Schools, restaurants, and theaters are closed. Small businesses are shuttered.

More and more offices are emptying as employees either work from home – or not at all. The ramifications for construction and design professionals are significant, and many companies are focused on tightening their budgets. Marketing is one of the first areas that face the chopping block – and this is a mistake.

Marketing During a Crisis

There’s an old saying:

“When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.”

Counterintuitive? Sure, it feels that way, but a century of research has proven that companies that maintain or boost their marketing and advertising spend during downturns and crises increase sales and market share.

Marketing during a crisis allows you to:

Amplify your efforts. Many of your competitors will slash their marketing and advertising budgets, dropping the noise level. You can make a bigger impact on your audience – and because costs typically drop, you can do more for less.
Project an image of stability and sustainability. This is incredibly encouraging to customers/clients in times when reassurance is hard to come by.
Maintain “mind share.” It is essential that you stay at the top of your customers’ mind during difficult times. Mind share and “share of voice” (a measure of how dominant your brand’s voice is in your industry) leads to increased market share.

Exhibit A

During the “Great Recession,” which started in 2008, the construction and design industry suffered. There’s no other way to say it. From 2007 – 2012, the number of construction firms dropped from 891,032 to 743,452 – a decrease of 16.6%. Over two million jobs were cut; and as the world reeled from the downturn, consumers significantly curbed their spending on new builds, renovations, and remodels.

ACo, a design and remodeling company that specializes in kitchens, bathrooms, cabinets and flooring, chose not to maintain current advertising and marketing spending. Instead, ACo increased marketing spending. As other professionals cut back and pulled out, they invested heavily to increase visibility, improve reach, and bring in more business.

While companies barely scraped by or closed their doors for good, ACo grew gross revenue 3.7x from 2008 – 2011. Marketing and advertising was the biggest single factor in their ability to not only weather that storm but to position themselves for future success. Today, ACo continues to heavily focus on marketing with a redesigned website, a consistent blog, and marketing tools such as their budget calculator and “Love Where You Live” quiz.

Spend to Survive?

ACo is not an anomaly. When you focus on marketing and advertising during an economic downturn, you increase market share and profitability both during the crisis and after. A timeline of evidence:

1990s: Major companies like Jif and Kraft saw sales growth of 57% and 70% respectively during this downturn as a result of marketing efforts.

1980s: An analysis of 600 B2B companies found that those that maintained or increased marketing spending grew significantly during the recession and for the following three years. Aggressive advertisers grew 275% over those that pulled back.

1970s: The same was true during the severe 1973-1975 financial crisis: companies that increased marketing and advertising budgets saw growth during this period and years following.

1940s – 1960s: During the recessions of 1949, 1954, 1958, and 1961, companies that cut advertising spending saw their sales and profits drop. Those companies were also far slower to rebound compared to those that boosted budgets.

1920s: Companies that continued to advertise throughout the 1923 downturn grew by an average of 20% compared to pre-recession levels compared to a decrease of 7% for those that did not.

 

It is more important than ever to market your business and keep driving in revenue. If you cut advertising and marketing spending during a crisis, you cut off your company’s lifeblood. These days, nothing much is certain, and the news changes by the minute. What we are sure of however – and what the evidence shows again and again – is that maintaining or increasing marketing efforts is critical to surviving an economic crisis. But let’s do more than survive. Let’s thrive. For guidance on marketing your way through a global economic crisis, connect with Haven today.


corona virus

Is Your Business Coronavirus Ready?

By Katie Mientka

You cannot turn on the TV, scroll through social media, or go to the grocery store without hearing “coronavirus” at every turn. As the outbreak escalates, so, too, do worries about health, school closures, personal finances, the economy, and even toilet paper supplies! There is a great deal of panic and misinformation swelling. Fight back: arm yourself with facts, remain calm, and take proactive steps to protect your family, your employees, your customers – and your business.

“Business As Usual” – for Now

Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist, Dr. Manisha Juthani, says, “It can be very scary to watch thenews and see the death toll rise from the coronavirus overseas. But we now know that most cases of coronavirus in China [where it originated] have been mild” and there is a low fatality rate. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the vast majority (81%) of those with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have had mild symptoms, while 14% were severe and only 5% critical. [1]

Temper fear with facts. Yes, coronavirus can be dangerous, particularly for the elderly and those with existing health issues. But the majority of those who have contracted the illness worldwide have already recovered. Keep this in mind.

Now, in the US, many contractors are reporting that they’re taking a “business as usual” approach. At least for now. Even in Seattle, which has been hardest hit by the outbreak, no members of the Associated General Contractors of Washington have stopped working. Like all of us, they’re keeping an eye on the news, but they’re still on the job.

Experts expect that the construction and design industries will weather the storm – and in much better shape than retail and hospitality.

But, like all of us, you want to prepare.

Is Your Business Coronavirus Ready?

Put contingency plans in motion now so your business is coronavirus ready.

Certain employees – construction workers, fabricators, electricians, etc. – can’t work remotely. If you can figure out how to install doors and windows or put in that great new kitchen range via iPhone, feel free to share with the rest of us. However, some simple workplace guidelines can help prevent the spread of illness – and relieve fear and anxiety:

_____________________________________________

[1] https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus-survival-rate

The CDC recommends that you:

● Actively encourage sick employees to stay home. If they have a fever and/or symptoms of respiratory illness, they are doing everyone a favor by curling up on their couch and avoiding the rest of you.

You may have to revisit your sick leave policies – do not penalize people who call in sick or who have to take care of a sick child/family member!

● Send people home if they show up to work with symptoms. Separate them from other employees and encourage them to self-isolate.

● Encourage proper hygiene practices. Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue or your upper sleeve, don’t touch your face, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and use hand sanitizer.

● Provide hand sanitizer for employees who work in the field. If they don’t have access to running water and soap, they can still practice good hygiene.

● Make sure your workplace is clean and sanitary: wipe down frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs, workstations, and counters. Have employees in the field wipe down the surfaces of their phones/tablets regularly.

corona virus

*Remind your employees that they should not wear a mask if they are not sick. They are not effective in preventing illness. At this point, it is far more important that your employees and subs have N95 respirator masks to protect them from job hazards.

You know the drill: these are basic cold-and-flu season precautions, which we go through every year. COVID-19 is a “novel” illness; we’ve not seen it in humans before. But we do know that the same steps that protect us from colds and flu work here too.

Do You Really Need an In-Person Meeting?

As concerns ramp up, the best course of action is to make solid decisions. One of these may become: do I really need to meet in-person? Can it be handled with a phone or video call? The reality is that, yes, most issues can be dealt with via technology.

If you determine it is essential that you meet, take simple safety precautions like those we mentioned above. Also:

● Forego handshakes.
● Make sure your meeting space is open and well-ventilated.
● Do not serve or share food.
● Wipe down frequently touched surfaces before and after your meeting.
● Only invite essential participants.
● Postpone or cancel if you experience symptoms. Be sure to explore digital/virtual options.

You’ve heard the saying: “This meeting could’ve been an email.” Well, it’s a good time to send that email or make that phone call rather than holding an in-person meeting, if only to set people at ease.

Remote Teams During Coronavirus

Even if you plan to stay open, remember that with school and daycare closings, as well as shutdowns in other sectors, your employees and customers may not be able to conduct business as usual.

If closure becomes necessary, you’re ready.

Zoom: Zoom offers easy-to-use video conferencing and chat across any device. You can set up conferences, keep on top of trainings, communicate with coworkers, customers, and partners, and run interactive, secure meetings.

Facetime. This is a proprietary standard available to iPhone, iPad, and iPod users. It allows you to make video and audio calls from your Apple device. Now… some of us use Androids! Not to worry, you can take advantage of solutions like:

Google Hangouts: (Low cost video conferencing/collaboration solutions, integrates with other Google platforms, such as Docs, Sheets, Calendar, etc.)
Skype: (free video calling when both parties use Skype, premium features available)
Google Duo: (free video calls, available for both Android and iOS devices)
Facebook Messenger: (free audio and video calls, offers secure end-to-end encryption with Secret Conversations)
Viper: (free and secure calls and messages)corona virus

CamToPlan. This app is an augmented reality tape measure for your phone that allows you to measure, distances, surfaces and draw your plans in seconds. You or your client can take measurements using the video on a cellphone or tablet effortlessly: baseboards, walls, furniture dimensions, carpet … There is no need to kneel on the ground to take measurements. Even simpler than a ruler or a laser rangefinder!

CamToPlan instantly calculates the area (in square meters or square feet) and draws the plan of the room with all measured dimensions. One click is all it takes to share that plan by email, message or on social media. CamToPlan is available on both iPhone and Google Play Store for Android.

magicplan: magicplan helps overcome barriers when you, employees, or clients cannot meet in person. For example, you can scan a room, and the app captures accurate dimensions of the space. You can draw and export floor plans, take and annotate photos, add photos to your floor plan, generate virtual tours, and more.

If you are building a custom home, for example, you can install magicplan, scan rooms, and communicate with clients via technology. If you are working on a design for a home renovation, and are not able to be there physically, your client can download the free app, scan a room, and let you take it from there. A lot of possibilities here!

BuilderTrend: This is a great tool to use anytime, but with recent events, offering a secure, web-based way for clients to access project information is even more important. BuilderTrend lets people access their building schedule, see current project status, receive updates, view and share photos of their project progress, track spending, categorize expenses, view and approve change orders, and contact your team anytime, anywhere.

Your Website/Social Media Profiles/Newsletters: Use these platforms to proactively communicate with your clients/customers about the steps you are taking to stay safe and keep business moving forward. Send out video messages, a special newsletter, blog, and/or social posts regarding the precautions you are taking. If you need help crafting your message or creating a video, contact Haven Media!

You can be hands-on without literally being hands-on. Make sure your people have access to and familiarity with the tools they need to be effective from home or remote locations. Fortunately, many are ultra-intuitive, so the learning curve is short or nonexistent.

corona virus

Surviving Coronavirus: The Prognosis is Good for Your Business

Will you take a hit as we deal with the coronavirus outbreak? It is certainly possible. You may see delays in the delivery of materials and supplies. You may have employees who must take time off because their children’s school or daycare closes. You may have clients who fear infection and are self-isolating. You may have to push deadlines back.

What you will also see is a rebound: the construction and design industry outlook remains strong.

We’ve been through tough times before. What we have found is that we are tougher. Continue to make sound decisions based on data and facts, not fear and panic. Protect your workers and clients with information, hygiene practices, and flexible leave policies. Implement remote options that allow you to move forward. Prepare today, and we’ll be ready for tomorrow.


referral

3 Ways to Get More Referrals - Without Begging!

By Katie Mientka

What do you do when you need to find a reliable contractor? An innovative designer? New energy efficient windows or plumbing fixtures? You ask your friends and family members, your coworkers and your neighbors. When you’re looking for answers, you turn to those you know and trust. This makes referrals critical for businesses, especially those of us in the construction and design space. They can have a significant impact on your bottom line. How do you get more referrals?

Try these three tips for referrals:

1. Ask!

referral

Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best one! Be direct, and kindly ask your clients to refer you to friends, family, coworkers, etc. You can do this via email, but face-to-face conversations are often the most effective route. Most people enjoy being helpful – and they are more likely to agree if you are standing right in front of them.

Try something like this:

I’m so glad you’re pleased with our work. I’d really appreciate it if you’d pass my name to anyone you know who’s interested in (custom home building, bath or kitchen renovations, design projects, etc.). Can I leave some extra business cards with you?

Practice! It gets easier, and you can put your own personality into it.

Remember, when you deliver exceptional service, products, and quality, it makes it much easier to ask for referrals without being pushy. It can feel awkward at first, but the worst that can happen is that someone says, “No.” The best: you get new clients! It’s worth a few “No’s” to get to the “Yes’s.”

2. Incentivize

Your work speaks for itself – but gifts don’t hurt when it comes to asking for referrals! A gift card, a discount on future work or products, or a value-add (e.g. if the client has just renovated their kitchen, you can get them a gift related to cooking) communicates the message that you care, appreciate their business, and will help their friends or family achieve similar results with a great experience.

What type of incentive makes the most sense for your business?

3. Take “No” for an Answer – But Don’t Give Up

You asked a client for a referral, and they declined. Why? It doesn’t matter: they said no. Do not push them; this can create tension in your relationship. Back off and give it some time. In a month or two, reach out and ask them to advocate for your brand in a different way. Maybe they can leave a review, submit a testimonial, or agree to have their project serve as a case study.

These do not require as much action or effort on the part of the client, but you can still develop new leads from these avenues without putting your existing relationship at risk. See what they’d be comfortable sharing, and then highlight it on the appropriate channel (e.g. your website, your Facebook page, etc.).

Referrals are a low-cost method that boosts your closing rate and often leads to larger sales. Further, customers/clients who are referred are more likely to refer others; it’s a way to pay it forward, so to speak! If you need help optimizing your approach, connect with Haven. We’re here to help you tell your story of expertise – and ensure others share it for you.


The Importance of Defining Your Target Market on Social Media

 By Katie Mientka

There is a marketing technique with the rather unfortunate name of “spray and pray.” Essentially, you spray your message to anyone and everyone (i.e. marketing blasts) and pray that it hits the right people in the right place at the right time. Not only is this an expensive (and wildly inaccurate!) approach, you risk alienating the very customers you need to reach. Today’s competitive design and construction environment demands focus. Defining your target market on social media provides you with a foundation on which to build an effective marketing strategy.

Define Your Target Market – and Dominate

Are your potential customers on social media? Given that 79% of Americans use at least one social network, the answer is likely yes. However, not everyone is interested in or in need of your products or solutions. As Christopher Newman, professor of marketing in the School of Business Administration at the University of Mississippi says, “Too often marketers create a campaign first, and then try to identify a target market they hope will be receptive to it.”

And too often, businesses simply send their message out there without identifying any target market. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, are you going to hit it?

The more insight you have into your target market, the better you can focus ads and content so you can reach the right people. You’ll achieve higher conversion rates and a stronger ROI for your marketing activities.social

How do you do it?

Start with your current customers. What do you know about them in terms of:

Age? Are your current customers millennials who want to build a first home or renovate a recently purchased home? Are they baby boomers who want to make their dream home a reality? Are they raising young children? Zero in on a decade or generation.
Location? Likely you’re dealing with local (or in some cases, regional) customers. You can target ads based on geography for a much more focused approach. No sense in marketing to Calinfornians or New Yorkers, for example, when your customer base is in Indiana.
Income? How much money do your current customers have to spend on their homes, and how do they typically approach purchases in the design/construction space?
Interests and causes? What do they like to do? What other businesses do they purchase from or support? What issues do they care about (e.g. the environment)?
Educational level? Are your customers college graduates? Tradespeople? Do they have advanced degrees or special certifications in their fields? What types of jobs do they hold in general?
Stage of life? Similar to age, but not really! Are they married with young children? Single parents of teens? Single professionals? Retirees? A mix? It’s fine to have more than one target market, but try to identify your “sweet spot,” as it may be.

There will be gaps in your knowledge of customers, demographics, etc. Fill them in with analytics. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Snapchat all have tools to help you uncover more information so you can clearly define your target audience.

It’s also helpful to conduct some competitor research. Are they targeting the same people? Have they identified new niches? How are they positioning themselves in the market?

You can compile this information into a buyer persona. This is a representation of your ideal customer; a sort of semi-fictional character that encompasses the key traits of your current customers and likely prospects. Think of this “person” as you design and launch ads, content, and other marketing initiatives.

Social Targetingsocial

Now that you have a clear picture of your target audience, find out where they spend their time. Pew Research Center has some great information on which audiences use which platforms. For example, if your target is women with purchasing power aged 35-40, it makes sense to be on Pinterest – and the visual nature of the site lends itself perfectly to the design and construction business.

The next step is to target your ads. With Facebook, for example, you can define your core audience by location, behavior, demographics, connections, and interests. You can also target people who have visited your site by installing the Facebook Pixel, and you can dig down even further by showing them more content based on what they showed interest in.

Go from spray and pray to target and triumph! By defining your target market on social media, you can deliver your message to the right people at the right time in the right places. If you need help putting this into action, contact the Haven team today. We’re here to take the frustration out of marketing for design and construction professionals.


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Top 5 Things You Need On Your Website to Tell a Clear Story

By Katie Mientka

As decision-making and purchasing behaviors evolve, one message emerges loud and clear: consumers don’t want to endure another sales pitch. As The Sales Bible author Jeffrey Gitomer puts it, “People don’t like to be sold to – but they love to buy.” What they want instead of a hard sell, what will build trust and interest in your business as a solution to what they want or need, is a story. When you tell your brand story of expertise, you appeal to their emotional side. You grab their attention, and you compel them to action.

Humans are hardwired for story, and your website is the modern-day equivalent of sitting around the campfire. Fan the flames.

5 Must-Have Website Elements for Master Storytelling

The logical place to start: your story! What is it? Who are you? What do you do, how do you do it, and most importantly, why do you do it? What’s driving you? Did your great-grandfather start the business with nothing and build it into a legacy? Did you have an innovative idea that was just crazy enough to work? Did you rebel against competitors who weren’t delivering the kind of value you believe your customers deserve?

Clarify your story. This is your identity. Your website will help you convey that message to prospects and customers.

1. Compelling Anchor Statement

Your anchor statement is a short, solutions-oriented statement that provides clarity around your brand. It answers the “What do you do?” question while stoking interest in your business.

It “anchors” your core values and messages, encapsulating them into a single cohesive statement. Our anchor statement, for example:

Haven helps the industry’s best design and construction professionals overcome the frustrations of marketing and tell their story of expertise.

In one sentence, it hits the pain points of design and construction professionals, while offering a solution. You don’t have to capture everything you do, but the overarching message should be: “Hey, we understand, and this is how we can help.”

You can weave your anchor statement throughout your marketing collateral (e.g. reiterating on your About Us and elsewhere on your website, as well as incorporating it into content), so you create a consistent presence that aligns with your “real life” identity.

Learn how to craft a compelling anchor statement.

2. Recognizable Tagline

Just Do It

This is perhaps the most recognizable (and we’ll go so far as to say iconic) tagline in brand history. Nike nailed it in just three short words. It is a micro-story, if you will, that manages to capture their passion, determination, and grit.

That’s Nike’s story: what is yours?

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Mean Green Mowers keeps it equally simple, yet impactful: The Future Is Green. They’ve also included their distinct font and color for “Green,” so it becomes a useful and easily recognizable visual element of their website and marketing collateral as well.

Think of your tagline like a teaser, a glimpse into the full story that you will expand on with your anchor statement and other website elements.

Don’t have a tagline — or want to freshen it up? Read “The Art of the Tagline” for tips.

3. Strong “About” Page

On your About Us (or Our Team, Our Story, etc.), you can go into more detail about … well, you! Don’t treat it as an afterthought: it is one of the most frequently visited pages on business websites, and it has the potential to be a lead generating powerhouse.

Start with a customer-focused approach — remember, people hate being sold to! What are their challenges and goals? Then tell your story: how can you help them? What makes you stand out from the crowd? How did you start, and how have you grown? What core values and beliefs do you hold deeply? And, as always, how does that make life better or easier for them?

It’s not about highlighting how great you are (at least not obviously); it’s about demonstrating that you can deliver a viable, effective solution that will meet their needs and wants.

It’s also important to include:

Visuals. Break up the text so it’s more easily read and digested, while incorporating clean, compelling images or visuals.
Testimonials. Word of mouth is more powerful than ever. Include reviews from happy customers to give visitors that social proof of your quality, value, results.
Contact information. Make it easy for people to get in touch with you.

Integrate your anchor statement and keep your story real and authentic. Emphasize connection, understanding, and the ability to help.

4. Captivating Visual Content

Regardless of industry, websites should contain compelling visual elements. For design and construction professionals, this is even more vital. The proof is in the pictures, so to speak! Visual elements should be clean, clear, and of professional quality.

You do beautiful work, and this is a prime opportunity to highlight it. Photo and video galleries show prospects the results they can achieve, as well as the professionalism with which you work. Make it easy for them to visualize their own successful project with customer testimonials like this one from G&G Custom Homes.

5. Speed

This task lies with your web design/development team: a fast website is a must. What happens when you click onto a website and it takes forever to load? You “bounce” in technical terms… you move away, to a competitor who cares enough about the user experience to deliver speed.

Each fraction of a second counts. In fact, research shows that with each millisecond of delay, you face a 1% loss in terms of visitors staying on page. Faster sites also achieve a 16.5% increase in conversions.

You can find a variety of page speed rating tools online or let us know and we’ll run a test to see how we can improve performance. Consumers may love stories, but they hate waiting for them!

Don’t Sell: Tell (A Story)

Your brand has a story to tell. With these elements, you can deliver your message with clarity — and create an emotional connection with your customers and prospects.


5 Tips to Recession-Proof Your Business with Strategic Marketing

By Katie Mientka

Recession-proofing your business is critical – even while we’re in the midst of a growth period.

Since rebounding from the “Great Recession” of 2008, the design and construction industry has seen strong growth. In this boom time, the challenge isn’t securing work – it’s keeping up with demand. Despite rising costs and the difficulty of hiring and retaining talent, design and construction companies still have the advantage of picking and choosing clients to grow their bottom lines. So why look for storm clouds in a clear sky? As industry veterans know, the best time to prepare for hard times is now.

A Good Plan Never Goes to Waste: Planning to Recession-Proof Your Business

According to a forecast by consulting and investment banking firm, FMI, construction industry growth in both residential and nonresidential markets should continue into 2020. However, the pace is projected to decrease from about 5% to 3%.

At the same time, there are indicators that the US economy may be slowing, and a majority of economists predict a recession within the year. We can worry. Or we can plan.

Building Confidence Is Critical for Design and Construction Companies

During a downturn, there is obviously a decline in disposable income for many people. Also at play, and perhaps of bigger concern, is a significant decline in consumer confidence. Folks are not optimistic about the state of the overall economy and, closer to home, their own finances.

When they are considering a construction, renovation, or design project, they need to know: Is it worth it? Will I see a return on my investment (e.g. increasing property value, cutting costs with more efficient homes, etc.)? Who can I trust to get my project done right and adhere to my budget without unnecessarily inflating costs?

While demand for construction and design services will often slow during a recession (at least in certain areas – renovations/updates tend to perform better than new construction), it will not stop. When consumers lose confidence in the economy, you need to build their confidence in you.

How?

Recession-Proofing Your Business with A Strong Marketing Strategy

1. Don’t Wait

It’s not a matter of if a recession will hit, it’s when. Now is the time to build confidence – as well as trust and relationships with prospects and customers.

2. Branding: Create Clarity for Consumers

You must emerge as a fearless leader – regardless of the ups and downs of the economy. Your reputation for quality, integrity, value, and ethical work practices will give you a leg-up on the competition (and help you convert some of their clients too!).

Underpinning your marketing efforts is your brand architecture. This is how you convey your brand message with clarity in order to create an “irrational” bond with your clients. You’ve heard it said: people buy on emotion and justify with logic.

Take YETI coolers, for example. Why pay $400 – $600 for a cooler when you can get by perfectly well with one that costs a quarter of the price (or less!)? Because YETI has created that bond: they connect through the promise of adventure, freedom, exploration… and, of course… the cool factor.

recession

Build an emotional brand: even during downturns, your message will resonate with clients. And if you build it now, you can leverage existing relationships to help you weather economic clouds.

3. Excel at Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is the art and science of driving people to your website and compelling them to take a desired action (e.g. fill out a form, contact you, make a purchase, etc.). To do this effectively, your website must be properly calibrated with:

  • Clear messaging. You’ve got about 5-7 seconds to tell people what you’re about, or they’ll head over to your competitor’s website.
  • Concise language. Strip away the excess and the extraneous and get down to business.
  • Prominent calls-to-action (CTAs). What do you want people to do when they arrive on your site? Tell them clearly and simply (e.g. Download XYZ eBook, Subscribe to ABC Magazine, etc.).
  • SEO/SEM. Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are processes that help you gain visibility in search results. You do this with the use of targeted keywords, pillar pages with links to and from relevant pages, local optimization, and valuable content.

Below you’ll see a conversion funnel, which shows how website visitors begin as “strangers” and progress into customers/clients and brand advocates. When your website is strategically built, you move prospects through the funnel more effectively and efficiently.

recession4. Create Helpful, Relevant Content.

It is also essential that you understand your buyer’s journey, or the steps they go through to become aware of your service/product, evaluate it, and then purchase. Briefly, they are:

  • Awareness. They realize they have a problem.
  • Consideration. They define their problem and look for companies that can deliver a viable solution.
  • Decision. They hire or buy from a company in order to solve their problem.

Create content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. The goal is to move them along… and make their destination you. For example, during the awareness stage, people want education and information. Ditch the sales pitch and give them relevant, helpful content:

  • How to Pick the Best Floor Plan for Your Family
  • 5 Tips for a More Efficient Home
  • Building a Custom Home FAQs
  • Thinking About a Smart Home? Why It’s a Smart Move
  • Buying vs. Building a Custom Home

Blog posts, articles, infographics, videos, social media posts, interactive quizzes, and other formats are ideal for reaching people here.

For more information and ideas, read “Creating Content for Different Stages of the Buyer’s Journey.”

Ensure that prospects and clients see you as the solution now; during a recession, they will want to go with a business they already trust and that has already delivered value to them.

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5. Emphasize “Home.” During economic turbulence, people tend to retreat home. They hunker down, if you will. Instead of going out to expensive dinners, for example, they’re more likely to entertain at home. Instead of going to the movies or pricey sporting events, they host game or movie nights. This presents a significant opportunity to those of us in the design and construction industry as people want to create a safe, secure, cozy, comfortable, and beautiful environment for themselves.

Emphasize the concept of “home” in your marketing messaging. While new building may slow, updates, upgrades, renovations, and design projects do have the potential for profitability.

Don’t Lose Focus on Marketing

When hard times hit, marketing budgets are often the first to face the knife. This is a mistake. People are restless, antsy; they want and need to make changes in their purchase decisions. Double-down on your marketing efforts (not necessarily by spending more but by being more strategic) so they find and choose you.

Haven Media specializes in helping design and construction firms build strong marketing and advertising strategies and implement them with confidence. Tell your story of expertise – while keeping your budget in check. Improving your marketing today will help you prepare for the future.


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Why Keeping Your Blog Updated Is Important - and How To Do It

By Katie Mientka

Keep it fresh. It’s good advice for your look, your relationships, your career and professional knowledge… and your business’s blog. Search engines are on a mission: they want to deliver the most relevant, timely results to their users. Outdated and obsolete content can tank your rankings in the results pages, costing you valuable visibility and traffic. Keeping your blog updated is essential – and not as difficult or time-consuming as you may think.blog

You Need a Blog Update: Old Information Could Be Hurting Your Business

Even Google is telling you to keep it fresh. Their so-called “Freshness Update,” rolled out way back in 2011, prioritized recently and timely content. This remains the case today. Updating your blog is critical as old information can negatively impact your results. Stale content:

  • Hurts SEO Efforts. As mentioned, old content does not rank as highly on search engine results pages, and you’ll miss out on organic traffic. Less traffic, fewer visitors – and fewer chances to convert customers.
  • Makes You Seem Obsolete. A significant value of content marketing is that you establish your expertise and authority in a given space. But when searchers uncover old information, it may not only be irrelevant – it could now be inaccurate as well. In some cases, you may even be held liable for such information. Either way, your brand image takes a big hit.
  • Can Cost You Sales. On a related note, consumers turn to online resources to research potential products, services, and solutions. They are not going to purchase from a source that provides old information.

In addition to avoiding these issues, updating your blog allows your brand to:

  • Create High-Performing, Evergreen Content. You can turn older, high-performing pieces into even stronger assets by updating the information, freshening up the language, and ensuring it aligns with your brand goals.
  • Save Time and Money on Your Content Marketing Efforts. It’s easier, quicker, and less expensive to revamp an existing blog than it is to write a new post (but please do that as well!). Save time where you can by updating your blog.

You know you need to do it – so how do you start updating your content?

Start with a Blog Audit

Take a look at the content you currently have on your blog. It can be helpful to make a spreadsheet, noting the title, category (e.g. home remodels, bathroom remodel, kitchen appliances, smart appliances, etc.), date of publication, and a quick description. Try to keep this updated so you can refer back to it as needed.blog

Identify Top-Performing Posts

Turning a high-performing blog post into a fresh new piece of content is a great way to gain traction in the search engine results pages, attract traffic, and convert potential customers. Identify top performers by:

  • Number of Inbound Links (this indicates search authority)
  • Volume of Traffic
  • Number of Social Share

Identify Your Opportunities

Through your blog audit, you’ll:

  • Spot Duplicate Topics. If you have two blogs on one topic, say “5 Affordable Upgrades” and “10 Cost-Friendly Home Improvements.” They are two separate posts, each with helpful information – but it’s still redundant. Think about deleting one and combining the information to create one strong piece.
  • Determine Relevance. Are readers still interested in particular topics? Sometimes, a topic can have a short shelf-life. If something is outdated, obsolete, and/or inaccurate, consider deleting it.
  • Identify Opportunities. Are you trying to rank for certain keywords? Identify pieces in which you can organically integrate these target words and phrases. You can also take the opportunity to think about trending topics. Do you have some older pieces buried in your blog that could quickly be leveraged into strong performers? See what your audience is searching for, determine if you have related content, and give it a refresh.

A Note on Deleting: Do it sparingly. It is better to rework posts rather than delete a large number. If you delete a post because it’s on a duplicate topic, use a 301 redirect to guide search engines to the correct blog.

Updating Your Blog Posts

Some best practices for refreshing your blog content:

  • Correct Outdated and Inaccurate Information. Once you’ve selected the blogs that need to be updated, do some fact checking and edit any information that is obsolete or irrelevant. Add in new research, facts, figures, infographics, screenshots, images, etc.
  • Check Your Links. It’s frustrating to click on a dead link, and it can create a negative impression with your visitors. Do a quick check of all your links to ensure they’re good to go. And if you’ve since published new content that would be appropriate to link to, add these as well.
  • Check your CTA. Is your CTA still appropriate for this post? Do you need to update the call to action, the language, and the style of the button?
  • Use the Same URL. Modify the original blog rather than posting it as new (Google will flag it as duplicate content). Be sure you use the same URL.
  • Keep Your Keywords. Keeping the title the same is helpful, but if you must change it, at least ensure your keywords are still included.
  • Review Your Meta Description. Look for accuracy – and for ways to make it more enticing for searchers.
  • Republish. The process will vary depending on what blogging platform you use, but again, modify the existing blog instead of creating a new one.
  • Track Performance. Compare the “before” stats with the “after” upon republication. Look at metrics like number of comments, inbound links, and social shares, post views, leads generated, and keyword ranking.

Take a look at your current content. Is it time for a blog update? Keep it fresh!blog


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The Content You Need To Be Posting on YouTube

By Katie Mientka

YouTube has become ubiquitous in our daily lives; we turn here for everything from our favorite artist’s new music video and cute cats to how-to’s and product/services research. It’s entertainment, sure, but this platform has transcended even that important niche. Today, it is a critical conduit for information. And your brand videos need to be there.

YouTube’s reach, and that of video, is astonishing:

  • There are 1.9 billion monthly users
  • 60% of people prefer online videos over live TV
  • 80% of those aged 18-49 watch YouTube
  • On mobile devices alone, more people age18-49 watch YouTube than any broadcast or cable network (1)
  • More than 500 million hours of video are watched on YouTube every day
  • 72 hours of video are uploaded every hour (2)

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Brands often think they need to go viral in order to stand out and achieve the results they want and need. While reaching this status does put a lot of eyes on your videos, there’s no guarantee that people will do more than say, “Fun/cool/crazy video,” and move right to the next video without a second thought. Reaching the right people matters far more than reaching all the people in terms of seeing a positive ROI.

And you can do it with these types of videos:

Brand Stories

This type of video tells a story that helps you connect to your audience; the goal is to engage them on an emotional level. You’re not detailing your features and benefits or “selling” in a traditional sense. Instead, you’re highlighting experiences, challenges and successes, and other key stories that allow potential and current customers to get to know – and love – the humanity behind your brand.

Heineken does this brilliantly with their “World’s Apart” ad. They’re not selling beer; they’re selling an experience, a point of connection, commonality in a world that is often hyper-focused on differences:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKggA9k8DKw&t=6s

Brand Historiesyoutube

A subset of brand stories, these videos show your audience how your company came to be. Maybe you detail how you started your construction business with a set of basic tools and a can-do attitude. Let your viewers know how you grew into the success you are today. Or maybe your business started with a bold, innovative idea. Tell that story.

The point is that you have a history, and when you tell it creatively, it builds trust, awareness, and connection with your audience. Nike does a great job of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=45&v=2U6vKwAAmqY

Product Features

Show, don’t tell! Product videos offer a great opportunity to show your audience how your products look in action. For example, if your showroom includes top of the line kitchen appliances, create a video showing how they work, how they make life easier (e.g. integrating smart features), and how they can help solve common homeowner challenges.

This product video from Hafele is a simple visual presentation of how their Connect app works.

Bonus: it can be played without sound, which makes it a great fit for Facebook too (most viewers on this platform watch videos on mute). Leveraging your video assets across multiple channels helps you boost both your reach and your ROI.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMF10C5vj8w&list=PLrlVfIC0SXD2ga8i4vZ6yrUq9FQRKBoQZ

Product Comparisonsyoutube

This or that? When homeowners undertake a new build or remodeling project, they face a seemingly endless list of decisions. Which faucet is best? Which exterior door is better, steel, wood, or fiberglass? Should I go with marble or granite for my countertops.

Help them out. Give them a side-by-side look at their options (limit them to two or three of the tops so they don’t get overwhelmed), highlight advantages and disadvantages, and steer them in the direction you think is the best fit.

Check out this product comparison video pitting the Surface Pro 3 against the MacBook Air for inspiration. What can you take away and use for your company?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=JGlmehmT-ZY

Product comparisons in both video and text format are huge: people are actively searching for this information. When you’re the one to present it, you’ll win their trust – and, ideally, their business.

How-Tos

Cats and Ariana Grande notwithstanding, one of the most popular categories on YouTube is “how-to.” Collectively, we watch hundreds of millions of hours each year, learning how to do everything from hair and makeup to fixing the leaky faucet.3

Get in on the action with clear, easy-to-follow how-to videos that address problems your customers face. For example, if you sell and/or install flooring, provide a how-to on cleaning tile. If you are a design firm, you can teach viewers how to pick the best paint colors.

This is just what Lowe’s does in this video.

Are you creating and using these brand videos? You should be! Leveraging YouTube for business can help you increase awareness, reach, engagement, and, ultimately, conversions and sales. Lights, camera action: it’s time to get started! Connect with us today to learn more about creating valuable video content.


facebook

Facebook Business Pages 101: 5 Tips for Nailing Your Social Strategy

By Katie Mientka

Your best friend is on Facebook. Your boss is on Facebook. The kid you lived next to in third grade is on Facebook. Your grandma is on Facebook. You get the idea: with 2.23 billion users, you can rest assured that potential and current clients are also reacting, sharing, commenting, and generally thumbs-upping on the world’s biggest social media network. So how do you best leverage Facebook business pages to meet your key goals?

Facebook for Brands

Let’s start at the beginning:

1. Set Up Your Business Page — And Get Vain

According to Facebook’s Terms of Service, you cannot use a personal account to represent your business. Nor should you want to! Business pages offer a host of great tools, including analytics, that can help you use Facebook to its fullest potential.

If you have a personal profile, you can log in and create a Page; your business followers will not see that your brand is attached to a personal account. If you do not have a personal account, you can simply create a business page.

Now, if you are using your personal profile as a business page, separate them immediately! Facebook provides easy steps to convert it.

Once you’ve got that squared away, claim a vanity URL. You don’t want a bulky URL like “facebook.com/pages/xyzconstruction/1249128289”. Isn’t “facebook.com/xyzconstruction” much better? Again, Facebook makes it super simple to get your vanity URL.


hiring

Fighting — and Winning — the War for Talent: Attracting Great Employees

The great news: the home design and construction industry is boomingThe not-so-great news: we don’t have enough talent to fill critical roles. All the demand in the world — and all the dollars that go with it — don’t overcome the construction labor shortages we’re facing. So…. what does?

Labor Shortages Are Hitting the New Housing Industry Hardhiring

During the recession of 2007-2009, 1.5 million construction workers left the industry for other occupations. This mass exodus reached a crisis point when the economy rebounded and demand started growing. And growing. Fewer than half of those workers came back, leaving a critical shortfall of both skilled and unskilled labor. 

Age plays a role: the average age of employees in the building trades is 50. Many are leaving the industry for other jobs or retiring.  

At the same time, vocational training has been devalued, with schools pushing STEM and college-readiness. Many young people perceive going into the trades as grueling or lacking in advancement opportunities. While untrue, it has resulted in fewer younger workers entering the field. The percentage of young construction workers has fallen 30% from 2005-2016. 

 Skilled trade jobs (carpenters, plumbers, masons, electricians, plasterers, etc.) are the hardest to fill in the country and take the top spot in terms of vacancies — and have since 2010. 

Finding Solutions to Build a Strong Workforce hiring

 How are home construction firms attacking the talent shortage? A few ways: 

  • Hiring more women 
  • Hiring more military veterans 
  • Offering more extensive on-the-job training opportunities 
  • Recruiting year-round (not just ahead of the busy season) 
  • Building relationships with trade schools 
  • Offering student internships  
  • Focusing on retaining current employees (e.g. financial incentives, employee appreciation/engagementprograms)

But they’re missing something.  

Attracting and retaining the skilled and unskilled laborers you need to satisfy your customers and grow your business isn’t just a challenge. It’s a keep-you-up-at-night problem. The solution lies in marketing your business to the community in innovative ways.  

Consider using video to highlight a fun team activity or event. Showing how your company nurtures a culture of employee appreciation. Promoting and valuing a team atmosphere can be a key differentiator, and video is a great way to highlight that.   

But that’s not enough either. The next step is leveraging this asset and telling your story to those who can help you fill labor shortages. Post your videos on your website; integrate them into your blog posts or articles; send them out in emails; and, perhaps most powerfully, go social.

Social media has the power to help you extend your reach, engage with those interested in the construction industry — and even create interest in those who never considered entering the field. Attack on multiple fronts: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter each cater to different demographics, and you can create targeted video content that resonates with these audiences. 

Labor shortages are hitting all of us in the industry: fight back. By emphasizing your culture and telling your story through strategic video, you can gain the edge you need to win talent over to your side.  

If you need help attracting, and retaining, skilled workers, contact Haven today. Connect with us to learn more about what we can do for you. We’re your ally in the war for talent. 


pinterest

How to Get Started — and Noticed — on Pinterest

If you’ve ever lost an hour (or two) browsing pinboards and pinning ideas on everything from recipes to home remodeling ideas, you are far from alone. With over 75 billion ideas, it’s easy to get pulled in! As a brand, though, Pinterest is more than a great way to pass the time and be inspired: it is an effective way to reach and engage your audience. How do you get started — and noticed on this dynamic, visual platform? 

But First… Some Key Pinterest Factspinterest

Pinterest is a powerhouse 

  • 72% of Pinners use Pinterest to help them make purchase decisions 
  • 87% have bought a product because of Pinterest 
  • 50% of users make a purchase after viewing a Promoted Pin 
  • 93% of Pinners use the platform to plan purchases  
  • More than 5% of all website referral traffic comes from Pinterest 
  • 40% of Pinterest users earn $100,000+ 
  • 60% of new users are women; 40% are men. 

So what? Your target audience is on Pinterest; they are interested in interacting with brands and using the platform to inform purchase decisions. The platform is especially well-suited to the design and construction industry: it is highly visual, and you can use pins to help potential and current customers find inspiration for their home build/renovation/remodel projects. 

Get Started  

1. Create a Pinterest Business Account 

Visit http://business.pinterest.com and create an account. You’ll enter your basics, such as email, password, business name, website, and business category (e.g. local business) and review the terms of service. Easy peasy 

If you already have a personal Pinterest account, simply convert it over to a business page. This will give you access to business tools, such as analytics, that can help you leverage this platform fully.  

2. Fill Out Your Profile  

You’re on your way: now you need to fill in your vital details. These will tell your audience more about you, establish credibility, and make your profile far more appealing. To do this, log in, hover over the profile icon (top right) and click on Settings. Find the profile section and upload a profile picture. It can be your logo or a great headshot; just make sure it’s high quality and allows your audience to recognize your brand immediately. 

Fill in the About You section with a clear, concise description of what you do and who you are. It’s helpful to add a few industry and brand-specific keywords. Add your location, your website URL, and you’re just about done. 

3. Confirm Your Website  

When you confirm your website, it adds your logo to content pinned from your website; you’ll also be able to see what visitors pin from your site. Another benefit: your pins will rank higher in search results, helping potential customers find you more easily. 

At the end of the profile section, you’ll see a button asking you to Confirm Website. Pinterest will generate a code, which you then copy and paste into the HTML of your website’s index page. After that, just hit Finish.  

pinterest4. Build Some Boards! 

Your account is ready to get to work for your brand. Start by creating boards so you can organize content. This helps keep everything clean and streamlined, and it also incents people to follow one or more of your boards or your entire account. On the Boards tab, just click the red plus sign to create a board. Give it a descriptive name (20 characters max); if you can slip in a relevant keyword, do it. 

Go back to the Boards tab, click the pencil icon, and enter in more details about the contents of that board, choose a relevant category, and hit Save.  

5. Let the Fun Begin: Start Pinning 

Populate your boards with great pins. To start, install the Pinterest browser button so you can pin anything from the web. For example, if you have a great image of a sleek new faucet system you’re selling, click the Pinterest icon in your browser toolbar. Select the image, click save, add a description, and put it on the right board. Once you’ve got a good bank of images, choose one for your cover pin. 

Getting started with Pinterest for business is easy! Now how do you get noticed?  

Highlight Your Brand on Pinterest  

1. It’s All About the Content.

Start by using Pinterest analytics to determine which type of content your audience is most interested in: what are people pinning from your website, which pieces of curated content resonate with them, and which boards see the most interaction and engagement? Give them more of what they want. 

You can also use the Topics tool to see what type of content is most popular in certain topics. Create and curate content that aligns with your audience’s interests.  

2. Pay Attention to Your Titles and Descriptions 

Yes, Pinterest is a visual social platform, but your written titles and descriptions are critical in getting your pins noticed and repinned. Be succinct and clear and include keywords so your brand will show up in smart feeds and searches. Also, try using Pinterest Rich Pins: it installs a special code on your website. When people pin content, descriptions are automatically filled in. 

3. Be Social 

pinterest

Follow other pinners and repin exceptional content. This accomplishes two goals: you become part of a community

and show your willingness to play well with others. You also deliver more value to your audience without having to create yet more content. Customize your description, attribute credit to the original source, and you’re good to go. 

4. Connect to Other Social Networks 

Link your Pinterest activities to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google+. You’ll extend your reach, promote your boards, and create a consistent brand identity across platforms. 

5. Pin Consistently

Unlike platforms like Facebook, where you can post once a day and see results, Pinterest requires a bit more in terms of frequency. Try to pin 5 to 10 items each day, or, if you have time and great content, as many as 25. Remember, while you do need a solid description, pinning 10 items isn’t as time-consuming as write 10 Facebook posts or tweets. 

 If you can’t commit to 2 to 25 items every day, then aim for 10. It’s more effective to be consistent than to post like crazy and then have a long, dry stretch.  

 Once you get started on Pinterest, keep your momentum up. This is a fun channel that can provide a significant ROI. Make the most of it — and happy pinning!  


instagram

Do’s and Don'ts of Instagram and Instagram Stories for Businesses

Think that Instagram for design and construction businesses just doesn’t make sense? Think again! Here are do’s and don’ts of Instagram for businesses that will help you reach your audience. 

We’re going to take a wild guess as to what you’re thinking right now: my business doesn’t need Instagram. It’s for kids, and our audience just isn’t there. I don’t want to waste time or money talking to people who aren’t listening.  Are we close? But it’s worth rethinking: Instagram for design and construction businesses has the potential to transform your marketing strategy — and provide a key to increased engagement, interaction, and conversion. 

Instagram By the Numbers instagram

Yes, Instagram does hold tremendous appeal for the “kids.” Fifty-nine percent of US users are between 18 and 29. But don’t discount the 33 percent who are between 30 and 49. Some other stats to give you a new perspective on Insta: 

  • 70% of US users have post-secondary education 
  • 42% of users earn $75,000+ 
  • 80% of users follow at least one brand 
  • 75% of Instagram users take some action after looking at a post (e.g. visiting the brand’s webpage) 
  • Instagram’s interaction rate leads the social media pack at 2.2% (Facebook’s is only 0.22%) 

So what’s this mean: your audience is there. They’re looking for brands; they’re looking to interact and connect; they’re looking to find a solution to a problem or challenge they face.  They’re looking for you.  

How do you make sure they find you and that they engage with your brand? Start with these do’s and don’ts of Instagram for business. 

A Quick Guide to Instagram for Business 

DO: Have a Strategy

It’s common for businesses to recognize that they need an Instagram presence and throw up posts with a “spray and pray” approach. That is, they’re posting random pieces that do not necessarily align with a larger strategy. This ensures that any success you achieve will be both accidental and short-lived. 

This do has a don’t: don’t just post just to post. Create a strategy that will drive you towards your goals. An effective “formula” for success is mixing high value content (e.g. videos, behind-the-scenes photos, quotes, etc.) with action-oriented posts (e.g. links to blogs, promotions, contents, contact CTAs) on a consistent basis.  

Before you start posting, take time to consider the types of content that your audience wants and needs to see. Create a schedule so you’re hitting your targets with timely, relevant information and inspiration.  

 

DON’T: Put Content Second

Instagram is a visually-oriented platform. Pictures, images, and videos rule. But never put design over content. Your content — the meat of your posts — should guide design, not the other way around. Try product demos and videos, client testimonials, behind-the-scenes looks at a job site, before-and-afters of a successful project, company culture highlights, company and industry news, and educational materials. aco

Above all, clarify your brand narrative. What is the story you want to tell to your audience? How can you convey that in a compelling, visual way? 

Here’s a look at some posts from ACo: 

Through images, ACo tells their story and reinforces their motto: “Love Where You Live.” From using tech to streamline projects to gorgeous renovations to happy families, their narrative comes across clearly. 

DO: Use Analytics 

How do you know if your Instagram strategy is successful? Don’t guess: know. Analytics help you determine what’s working, what’s not, and how to course-correct. Look at both audience and content analytics, such as: 

  • Day/time that your audience is most engaged 
  • Where your audience is and in which time zone 
  • Age range 
  • Website clicks and clicks to emails 
  • Interactions (e.g. visiting profile page, sending email from your page) 
  • Profile visits
  • Discovery (i.e. how many times your posts/profile has been seen over the last week) 
  • Impressions (number of times your post has been viewed) 
  • Reach (number of unique views which differentiates from followers who look at a post multiple times) 

If you’re not grabbing their attention, how can you revise your strategy? If you are, how can you do more? 

DON’T: Be Inconsistent 

You need to create a consistent brand presence across all platforms and channels, digital and physical. Use fonts, colors, filters, captions, and hashtags that your audience will readily associate with your brand. This builds familiarity — and trust.  

It is also critical to be consistent in terms of posting. Research indicates that posting once or twice a day delivers the best returns on your effort. For Instagram, prime times are between 8:00 and 9:00 am EST Mondays-Thursdays. Be sure to push out your most enticing, high value content then. 

DON’T: Forget Your Hashtags

#Instagramsuccess

Hashtags are essentially keywords, and you can use them to hashtaghelp potential followers (and clients) find you. Long-tail keywords enable you to zero in on specific audiences, target people by region, and promote services, products, and more. 

You can use up to 30 unique hashtags per post, but you don’t need that many. The trick is to make sure they are relevant to your brand and industry, and use both short- and long-tail keywords. When posts have just 10, interaction is 22%. When they have 11 or more, that jumps to almost 80%.2 

DO: Tell Instagram Stories

These are posts featuring videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours. Why waste time posting content that no one can view the day after? A few reasons: they are “discoverable,” which means that people who don’t follow you can see them too.  

Further, they create a sense of urgency and exclusivity that people love. No one wants to suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), and a time-limited post automatically builds in that sense of “I must see it before it’s gone.” 

And… they’re fun! Don’t discount the fun factor when you’re trying to reach your audience. 

DON’T: Get Lazy! lazy

Part of your strategy should include interaction with other businesses in your space. If you’re a construction firm, for example, reach out to design companies. Comment, share, and promote posts that add value to your audience. And make sure that you respond to comments you receive!  

Instagram isn’t “set and forget.” Save that for your crockpot. You need to be actively engaged. 

DO: Get Started! 

Leveraging Instagram for design and construction businesses is a solid move. The platform has over one billion users, and potential and current clients are among them. Start with strategy, and begin interacting with them in a meaningful way. 


Engaging with Your Customers on Twitter

Engaging your customers on Twitter can be challenging. Take it one step at a time, and begin with these easy tips. Using Twitter for business can yield significant returns; let’s get started. 

You’ve got 280 characters with which to grab your audience’s attention, engage them, and entice them to complete a desired call to action. Easy. Ok, not so much! With fierce competition and intense media saturation, it is critical that you target the right people with the right content at the right times. 

Here are some Twitter engagement tips to get you started.

Tweet Original Contenttwitter

If you use Twitter, take a second to think about how you scroll through your feed. Fast, right? You don’t have time for filler; you want substance. It’s like skipping the lettuce at a buffet and going right for the chicken wings. Your audience wants meaty, relevant, interesting information — and they want it now.

Give it to them with original, eye-catching content. This is a terrific fit for those in the design and construction space: whether you remodel kitchens and bathrooms or sell custom doors and windows, you have gorgeous assets that you can put to work for your brand. Images and videos work exceptionally well and compel users to stop scrolling and take a look. 

Bonus Tip: Use longer content (e.g. white papers, ebooks, case studies, articles, etc.) to create mini-campaigns. For example, if you have a case study of a challenging project and successful outcome, pull out data, inspiring quotes, and other enticing bits of information to tweet. And be sure to link to the original asset!

Curate Great Content 

Yes, we just told you to post relevant original content. Please do! But also select the best pieces by thought leaders and non-competitors in your space. If you’re a construction firm, for example, why not highlight the best design company in your area to help customers out? Or post a list of ways to make the remodel process easier from Houzz or another trusted resource? 

You’ll build trust, community, and push out quality content that you don’t actually have to create yourself. A good mix of curated, original, and promotional tweets is key. 

Bonus Tip: Follow influencers in your space and engage with them; they may just exert their influence to help your brand achieve its goals.

Be Topical and Timely

Burger King is a master of snarky commentary on current events. In January, 2019, President Trump served hamburgers (misspelled in a Presidential tweet as “hamberders,” much to the delight of Twitter) to the Clemson Tigers in honor of their 2018 college football championship. Trump ordered in from Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s, and BK couldn’t help but have a bit of fun.  

2018 college football championship, the Clemson Tigers  

While this brand of humor may not work for your brand strategy, the takeaway is this: Twitter users come for current events and up-to-the-minute commentary. News is the far-and-away winner when it comes to information sought out by Twitterers (yes, that’s a real world). This category accounts for about 50% of traffic. 

Again, you do not have to use humor: if your brand identity is more straightforward, hard-hitting, or serious, great. Stay true to your strategy. Tweet current news related to your industry in a style that resonates with your audience. 

Ask Questions

Audience interaction is key to winning with Twitter, and if there’s one thing that people like it is talking about themselves! This is a social network: they want to discuss and have conversations. So ask questions. 

Twitter polls give you the opportunity to engage your followers with timely, relevant, and insightful questions. You might ask:  

Which of the following are you most worried about for your home remodel? 

  • Cost 
  • Time 
  • Finding a great contractor 
  • Decision making 

When you get the results, you know how to allay these fears. You can post content that aligns with these issues and challenges, while positioning your brand as the solution that will clear these worries off the slate. Share the results with your audience, and retweet comments that hit your messaging accurately.  

Mind Your Frequency and Timing 

How often should you post to Twitter, and when are the optimal times for engagement? This is a question all brands need to ask: while the exact answer will vary based on your audience demographics and the goals of your brand, in general, research indicates that: 

  • 15 tweets per day is optimal. Don’t freak out: if you can’t do that many, focus on quality. In fact, always focus on quality. A good tweet is worth more than 15 subpar ones.  And remember, you can (and should) curate and retweet great content.  
  • Friday is the best day to post on Twitter, and between the hours of 9:00 and 10:00 am is the best of the best. Save your most compelling content for this time. 
  • Between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm daily are the “safest” times to tweet. You’ll generally see average engagement, possibly bordering on good.  
  • Sunday mornings are the worst time to post. You’ll typically see low levels of engagement. 

Ready to tweet? Using Twitter for business can help you realize the results you need; leverage this powerful tool to increase engagement and encourage people to embrace your brand.  

Bonus Tip: Be consistent. If you can put out three tweets a day reliably, do that. It’s far better than doing 15 one day, nothing the next, a few the day after that, then nothing again… your audience needs to know what to expect from you and see that you can deliver.


Capturing Your Brand’s Emotional Imagery

By Katie Mientka

Say “Cheese!” Brand imagery can help you reach your audience not only on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level. And this is where exceptional results live.

The Power of Images

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. It can inspire, anger, uplift, sadden, perplex, motivate, and awe instantaneously.

Our brains can process complete images in just 13 milliseconds.[1] We process pictures 60,000 times faster than we do text.[2] Sometimes, if you want to make a statement, you don’t need to say a single word. Let your brand imagery do the talking for you.

Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak

Today’s consumers are arguably the most educated in history. We have access to reams of information — both digital and physical reams of print — on companies, services, and products. When we need to buy something, whether appliances or fixtures or linens, we research. But our decisions come down to emotion.

According to Harvard’s Gerald Zaltman, 95% of our purchase decision-making process takes place subconsciously. In other words, we buy based on emotion and then justify it with logic. Research also shows that the emotional response an ad elicits is far more influential on our decision to purchase than the ad’s content.[3]

What does your subconscious have to say about this elegant home’s outdoor lighting?

Images evoke a stronger emotional response than words.[1] Integrating them into your marketing initiatives is an effective way to reach potential and current customers on a deeper level — on their subconscious decision-making level!

Does it work? Consider this:

  • Text articles with accompanying images receive 94% more views.
  • Including a photo and video in a press release boosts views by over 45%.
  • When an image appears in local searches, 60% of consumers are more likely to consider or contact that business.
  • 67% of consumers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in their purchase decision — more important than product-specific details, descriptions, and ratings and reviews.[2]

The keyword here is quality.

What Are Your Brand Images Saying?

What makes for great brand photos? Effective marketing images are:

  • High-quality. Now’s not the time to try to channel Ansel Adams with your iPhone. Hire a professional photographer. The initial output is worth it as you’ll have images you can use across channels and that will represent your brand successfully.
  • Up-to-date. Photos should look (and feel) vibrant and energetic. They should be now. Old stock imagery does not create the emotional response you need in your audience.
  • Limit Stock Photos: Speaking of stock images, try to limit their use. Consumers are good at picking out these canned photos and may have seen them on other sites. The point of your marketing endeavors is to differentiate your brand. Use your own or your vendors’ photos whenever possible to keep things original and authentic. When you use stock photos, be sure they fit your brand.
  • Aligned with your brand identity. Your images must convey your brand, mission, vision, and purpose. It’s not about taking a great shot of a beautiful house or tub or range (though, yes, do that! In our industry, these photos are both inspirational and aspirational). It’s about illustrating your brand and bringing your anchor statement to life.
  • Your brand imagery should be consistent across all channels and across the photos themselves. When you choose a style that captures your brand identity, customers are able to recognize you immediately.
  • In some way: maybe it sparks inspiration in a homeowner who wants to remodel. Maybe it strikes a chord with someone who has always wanted to build their dream house. Maybe it creates a sense of joy in someone looking for the perfect fixture or faucet.

Whatever reaction you’re shooting for, make sure you hit your target by knowing what your customers want and partnering with a professional to make it happen.

Are you reaching your customers on a personal, emotional level? Let your brand imagery help you connect — and achieve your business-building goals. Contact Haven Media today for help overcoming the frustrations of marketing and reaching the right audience.

 

_______________________________

[1] http://news.mit.edu/2014/in-the-blink-of-an-eye-0116

[2] https://www.business2community.com/digital-marketing/visual-marketing-pictures-worth-60000-words-01126256

[3] http://customerthink.com/neuroscience-confirms-we-buy-on-emotion-justify-with-logic-yet-we-sell-to-mr-rational-ignore-mr-intuitive/

[4] https://blog.frontiersin.org/2018/02/02/psychology-influence-behavior-with-images/

[5] https://www.jeffbullas.com/6-powerful-reasons-why-you-should-include-images-in-your-marketing-infographic/


What’s the Point of Brand Stories and Campaign Stories?

By Katie Mientka

Raise your hand if you love a good story! Everyone does; it’s human nature. We connect with characters. We care about their conflicts. We root for the hero. We even feel what they feel. So why not tell your prospects and customers a good one? Brand stories and campaign stories are powerful methods by which you can reach and engage the right audience — while reaching your key business goals.

What is a Brand Story?

It’s this:

Photo: Haven Media

Brand stories are designed to spotlight your brand, products, or services with a specific story of excellence. You bring your unique value proposition to life while emphasizing your purpose and connection to customers and/or employees.

In this video, Wesley’s Landscape & Lawncare shines the spotlight on their amazing employees. Friday afternoons, most of us like to kick back. Wesley’s landscaping and lawn care pros take it a few steps further — and faster.

When management saw that their people were playing some casual soccer at the end of the work week, they decided to kick it up a notch. They prepared a field, installed goals, made each employee a personalized jersey, and created a terrific team-building activity that people look forward to all week.

Wesley’s did this because their people are worth it. Because that’s who they are as a brand.

Sharing this story helps current and potential customers, as well as current and potential employees, feel connected to the company. It’s not faceless or anonymous or boring or “corporate.” It’s good people doing good work — together. This message, this story, comes across loud and clear through brand video.

What is a Campaign Story?

Campaign stories can be a testimonial, an example of your work, an educational segment about one of your products/services and its applications, etc.. They work to position your brand as the top choice — the only choice! — while drawing in potential clients and driving conversions.

An example:

Photo: Haven Media – “For the Love of the Build” Video

This campaign story is part work example, part testimonial. DeAnna is a first-time homeowner, and she’s been onsite every day, seeing her dream come to life. But she’s doing more than watching: she’s helping build it with help from Habitat for Humanity and volunteers.

DeAnna says, “I don’t know how I’m going to feel; I don’t know if I’m going to cry! I know I’m happy every day that I come here. Every day.”

Jim Morris, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity, says DeAnna’s the inspiration. “She’s invited us in, and everyone that’s out each day as a volunteer gets to participate in that story that she’s building for her and her future.”

Viewers also participate in the story. It resonates with anyone who has ever dreamed of owning a home, as well as anyone who ever wanted to work with Habitat for Humanity. It hits home (that was an unintentional pun, but we’ll keep it).

Meaningful Multi-Channel Campaign and Brand Stories

Video can be launched from your website, from video-specific platforms, from social media, or from your sales/marketing funnels. This content helps drive engagement and education more powerfully than virtually any other medium.

So, what’s the point of brand and campaign stories? Your audience is the point. Your company, your people, your products and services are the point. Your unique story is the point.

Bringing these elements together in compelling ways to enhance engagement, to build relationships, to achieve business critical goals — that is the result you can expect when you partner with marketing professionals who know how to tell a good story.

Are you interested in learning more about brand and campaign stories? Wondering how they could fit into your marketing strategy? Contact us today for help telling your story of expertise to the right audience.


Print Media in the Digital Age: Why It’s Relevant in the Design & Construction industry

By Katie Mientka

Is print media dead?

No. It’s alive and kicking. That’s the short answer. When it comes to the health and vigor of your business, though, you deserve a slightly longer answer! Find it here and see how print media can become an effective — integral — component of your overall marketing strategy.

The State of Print Media

Digital media is like… ramen noodles?

Bear with us! Media researcher and University of Texas associate professor Iris Chyi compares digital media to the notoriously fat- and sodium-saturated noodles. Ramen noodles, Chyi writes, are an “inferior good.” But they’re cheap, you can cook them just about anywhere (including a coffee pot if you’re in a dorm room-type pinch), and wolf them down anytime.

Print media, Chyi argues, is like sitting down to a good meal. It’s more satisfying — and you’re not hungry five minutes later.

As she writes in her book, Trial and Error: US Newspapers’ Digital Struggles Toward Inferiority: “the (supposedly dying) print edition still outperforms the (supposedly hopeful) digital product by almost every standard, be it readership, engagement, [or] advertising revenue.

The research backs Chyi up.

In a study of the 51 largest US newspapers, for example, the print edition reaches 28 percent of circulation areas while digital versions reach just 10 percent.

Beyond reduced reach, though, digital readers do not linger over content. Would you linger over a bowl of ramen? No, you gobble it up. Those who come to news sites stay less than five minutes, and if they come via Facebook, they are out of there in less than two.[1]

A Meal that Sticks to Your Ribs

Despite the whole “print is dead; long live digital” push, research shows that print media enjoys an edge over its techy counterpart in several key areas:

  • It is easier to process in terms of mental effort and comprehension.
  • It results in better brand recall. In one study, participants were asked to name the brand behind an advertisement they had just seen. Recall for digital ads was just 44%. For direct mail, it was 70%.

Let’s pause here for a moment: print is easier to understand and easier to remember. Seems like a significant benefit for marketers, right? Print also beats out digital in these areas:

  • Amount of time customers spend interacting/engaging with an ad.
  • Emotional reaction to an ad.
  • Remembering the ad’s source and content.
  • Subconscious desire for the product/service.
  • Subconscious value customer places on the product/service.[1]

If you want to get neuroscientific about it, print activates the ventral striatum area of the brain more so than digital media. This part of the brain is associated with desire and valuation, and research shows it has the highest correlation with advertising effectiveness.

The bottom line: print lights up the brain in ways that digital does not. This is not to say that digital media does not have a place. It does — and a prominent place at that! It does mean that construction and design professionals cannot afford to neglect marketing and advertising methods that resonate so compellingly with customers.

If you think of digital like a bowl of ramen (or… a sack of fast food from the drive-thru, if that’s more palatable), it’s quick, convenient, and cost-effective. Those are all tremendous benefits. But when nourishment — strong brand recognition, content retention, education — is the primary goal, serve up print.

Print Media for Design and Construction Professionals

Why is print so important in your industry?

  • Nearly half (49.3%) of contractors say that print magazines are their top source for industry news.
  • The majority (71.3%) said that if they could only get industry information from one source, they’d choose magazines.[2]

Magazines, brochures, those gorgeous glossy product guides… they hold tremendous value in the design and construction space, and not just for professionals. Customers want — need — tangible assets as they consider building, renovation, remodeling projects, and other home services.

Haven Magazine

Print media is target-specific, and it is particularly beneficial when you are in contact with your customers. You can hand them a brochure. You can give them a copy of a magazine in which you are featured, or which contains useful advice. They can retain these materials, refer to them again and again, use them for inspiration as they plan their project.

Magazines also hold a certain allure, a cachet, that digital can’t mimic. As Ashley Murphy of premier real estate agency Stribling & Associates says, “There is literal weight to your presence. This tangible platform resonates well with luxury customers and clients.”[1]

Publications geared towards industry professionals — Contract Design, Contractor Magazine, Construtech, Building Design + Tech — and customer-facing options — Haven Magazine, Architectural Digest, House & Garden, Homes & Gardens, HGTV Magazine — have this weight. They have presence. They yield results. 

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Digital is now. It’s fast. It’s convenient. It’s consumable. It is valuable.

Print is enduring. It’s satisfying. It’s filling. It is valuable

It’s not a question of choosing digital over print media or print over digital. It’s a matter of integrating each, of leveraging the benefits of each, to build a comprehensive marketing strategy that drives your business forward.

Combining the strengths of both digital and traditional marketing techniques enables you to create a comprehensive, effective, strategy to reach your target audience. For more guidance on developing the right mix, harnessing your competitive edge, and telling your story of expertise, download our free eBook on effective marketing in the design and construction industry.

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[1] https://www.cjr.org/special_report/print_analog_comeback.php/

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerdooley/2015/09/16/paper-vs-digital/#54880c4733c3

[3] https://www.randallreilly.com/how-to-reach-contractors-in-2017/

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/03/02/does-print-still-have-a-place-in-the-future-of-advertising-10-experts-weigh-in/#38235a355fc6


What is a Brand Film — And Why Do You Need One?

By Katie Mientka

Think about your favorite story. A book you read years ago. A compelling movie. A family legend that inspired you. What do these stories have in common? They stick with you. You have an emotional, sometimes visceral, connection to them, and they linger long after the last word is heard. How can you leverage the power of story to achieve mission critical goals? It’s simple: brand films.

We Are Hard-Wired for Story

Here’s what happens when you approach a prospect or customer with a pitch or presentation:

Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash

Within one hour, they have forgotten 50% of the information. In a day, 70% has disappeared. A week later, 90% of it’s gone.[1] How do you get people to listen, and retain, your message?

You guessed it: stories. We are 22 times more likely to remember a story than a fact by itself.[2] Imagine, for example, telling the story of how your brand helped a first-time homeowner build the house they always wanted? Or how your company makes dreams come true through creative design and top-quality remodels and renovations? That’s powerful. That’s your brand coming to life.

Your Story, Your Opportunity

Your brand film tells your story.

It embodies your brand statement, your marketing strategy, and the distinct culture of your company and people. And it does this while connecting emotionally with your current and future clients.

Photo: Haven Media

Ursula Terlecki, cofounder of Ontario-based The Creators Bureau, explains in PR Week: we’re “not looking to distract an audience or simply sell a product. We hope to engage with them, make them feel a certain way, and plant the seed for establishing a relationship.”[1]

You have a unique opportunity: this is the one video strategy that your competitors are not doing.

By the Numbers

Video marketing is an incredibly potent addition to your overall strategy:

  • 76% of businesses that use video marketing report an increase in traffic
  • Businesses that use video grow revenue 49% faster than those that do not
  • When customers enjoy a video, their purchase intent increases by 97%
  • 80% of consumers can recall a video ad they have seen in the past 30 days
  • 80% of marketers say video increases dwell time (time onsite)
  • 59% of senior executives prefer video over text and 65% navigate to a brand website after watching a related video[2]
  • Two-thirds of consumers say video gives them ideas for purchases, and 90%+ say they have discovered products and brands on YouTube
  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when delivered with video compared to 10% with text[3]

These numbers are equally telling:

  • Video is expected to account for 80% of all global internet traffic by 2020
  • More than 500 million hours of YouTube video are viewed everyday
  • More video content is uploaded in a single month than the major US TV networks have produced in the last 30 years
  • 87% of online marketers use video content[4]

To say that’s a lot of video is an understatement! It’s also a lot of brands battling for eyeballs and attention spans. Telling your brand story in a fresh, compelling way sets your company and your people apart. It breaks through intense media saturation and allows you to connect and engage in meaningful ways.

Why do you need brand films? Because your competitors are largely ignoring this powerful marketing method, because your current and future customers and clients want them, because they work.

Ready to see how brand films can work for you? Connect with Haven to find out how brand films could fit into your marketing strategy and we will help you get your story of expertise to the right audience!

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[1]  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7qPAY9JqE4

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrtTyEmDLKQ

[3] https://www.lemonlight.com/blog/60-video-marketing-stats-2018/

[4] https://www.bluecorona.com/blog/video-marketing-statistics-must-see/

[5] https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/03/08/video-marketing-statistics


rebranding

Rebranding: From Fear to Triumph

When you hear the word “rebranding,” does it send shivers down your spine? Make your heart rate spike? Give you sweaty palms? For many businesses, a rebrand is the marketing equivalent of a horror movie. It’s not a matter of if a monster will pop out at you. It’s when — and how many teeth it will have.

What would change if you took fear out of the rebranding conversation? If it wasn’t a monster waiting for you at all, but an opportunity to drive your business to new levels of success?

Let’s remove fear and tackle rebranding from a strategic standpoint.

Why Are Brands Afraid?rebranding

Your trepidation, your anxiety, your hesitance, and your fear are all valid — we’d be worried if you weren’t worried! Rebranding is a major step: the aim is to create a new look and feel for an established business in order to change perceptions or revitalize the brand itself. It’s about relevancy.

And you may be afraid because you’ve seen it go sideways too often. Here’s a look at a rebranding effort launched by Tropicana:

100% Fail

Since its founding in 1947, customers have loved Tropicana – drinking it is like savoring an orange freshly plucked out of the Florida sunshine. (And with no pulp, if you prefer!) In 2009, the Pepsi-owned brand removed the hallmark image: an orange with a straw from its packaging and replaced it with… a glass of juice. Not exactly compelling, right?

Consumers and brand experts agreed. The nearly universal feedback was that the new design was generic and blah. It became difficult to distinguish Tropicana from non-brand competitors in grocery store coolers.

The previous — instantly recognizable — image conveyed the message that this juice came right from the fruit, that it was fresh, that it would taste like an orange should. The new lackluster image looked like OJ you’d find in refrigerators and diners anywhere.

The only ones that were happy about Tropicana’s rebrand were Minute Maid, Tree Ripe, and Florida’s Natural! These competitors enjoyed an uptick in sales while Tropicana’s dropped 20%. Dollar sales also dropped by nearly as much – 19%, or $33 million – in just two months.

Pepsi/Tropicana saw the writing on the grove and switched back to its iconic packaging design — after a lot of wasted money, opportunity, and consumer loyalty. A few years later, after learning from their mistakes, Tropicana had a more successful rebrand with updated packaging.

So yes, fear is normal. When you hear the word “rebranding,” you may think:

  • We’ll lose our identity
  • We’ll alienate our customers
  • People will be confused
  • No one will know who we are or what we do

The flip side of the fear is that by not changing or reimaging your brand, you could lose your ability to connect with today’s consumers and compete in your space.

What’s the Point of Rebranding?

Successful rebrands are built on sound strategy. Companies often opt to revamp, revise, refresh, or rebuild their brands when they need to:

  • Update a tired or irrelevant imagepintrest
  • Overcome negative perceptions
  • Rebuild after a bankruptcy or merger
  • Counter competitive pressure
  • Battle decreased sales
  • Account for an ownership change or shift in philosophy/values/culture
  • Align image and function
  • Attract the right customers

A Quick Rebranding Case Study

Domino’s struggled through years of negative press and poor public perception. The truth was simple: people just didn’t like the food. In fact, in taste tests people liked the pizza less if they knew it was Domino’s instead of an unbranded pie.

The audience clearly had a strong distaste for the brand — and it showed in their bottom line. In 2009, Domino’s slice of the delivery pizza market was just 9 percent.

Domino’s was contending with negative perceptions, competitive pressures, decreasing sales … and, frankly, a bad recipe! They launched a massive rebrand, and the key ingredient was honesty. Brutal, unflinching honesty.

Using customer comments as a guide — our favorite: “Domino’s tastes like cardboard. Microwave pizza is far superior.” — Dominos worked to improve their core offering. They also acknowledged the bad press and leveraged it into a brilliant rebranding campaign. The message was, “We know, we’re sorry, we’re changing, and we’re committed. Give us another try.” Completely earnest and often hilarious, the message was well-received.

The chain saw their market share grow from 9 to 15% between 2009 and 2016, and their stock price is up 5000% since 2008.

As Domino’s “Turnaround CEO” Patrick Doyle said, “There comes a time when you know you’ve got to make a change.”

Has that time come for your brand?

Is It Time to Rebrand?

Brands cannot afford to remain static. If you compete long enough, rebranding is an essential step in remaining relevant and fresh. Major brands like Starbuck, McDonalds, Pepsi, Apple, and Microsoft, for example, have all undergone several rebrands.

How do you know it’s the right time?rebranding

  • Your logo, colors, and fonts are outdated.
  • You are dealing with negative press and perceptions (Hello, Domino’s!).
  • You are fading into the competitive woodwork and need to stand out.
  • You’re not reaching your target audience.
  • You need to reach a new audience or expand into new territory.

Just as important is knowing when it’s not time. For example, if your company has a change in leadership but everything else remains the same, a rebrand can be detrimental. Likewise, if you cannot carry out an effective effort because of budgetary restrictions, it may be advisable to hold off until you have the funds you need.

What to Expect From a Strategic Rebrand

When well-executed, rebranding empowers your brand to move towards key business-building goals. You can:

  • Reposition yourself in the market. Give new life to an “old” business and change how your audience views you. You can add the spark back to a tepid brand and generate buzz — and leads.
  • Remind your audience of who you are. As mentioned earlier, one of the fears around rebranding is that you will lose your identity. But it can be an opportunity to remind your customers who you really are and why you do what you do. To use Domino’s as an example again: they went back to their roots. Good food, delivered fast.
  • Gain a competitive edge. This is the time to elevate your image in the marketplace and remind stakeholders of your value.
  • Recruit talent. Rebranding not only works to improve your reputation with consumers, it can position you as a sought-after employer. Given the raging war for talent, this is an advantage you cannot afford to pass up.
  • Over time, a company can become bogged down with history, expansion, and an amalgamation of new and outdated processes, policies, and campaigns. A sleek rebrand strips away the clutter and allows you to focus on your core values and goals.

Fear has a purpose; it reinforces the need for caution. When it comes to rebranding, this is a healthy response. But rather than letting it stop you, use it. Plan. Strategize. Make sure you’re ready. Then, you can move forward with both caution and confidence. Find ideas and strategies you can implement to build your brand and tell your story to the right clients in our eBook, 9 Steps to Effective Marketing in the Design and Construction Industry eBook.


mission and vision statemnets

Defining Your Vision & Mission Statement: Why It Matters

Success is not an accident, nor is it luck. It is the result of proactively driving your business towards its goals, making sound strategic decisions — and remembering why you opened your doors in the first place. Your company’s mission and vision statements simultaneously keep you focused on the present while empowering you to move into the future.

Mission Statement vs. Vision

While often used interchangeably, there are some subtle differences between a vision and a mission statement:

  • Mission: A statement that defines your purpose, goals, and your approach to reaching those goals. Trader Joe’s mission is, “…to give our customers the best food and beverage values that they can find anywhere and to provide them with the information required to make informed buying decisions. We provide these with a dedication to the highest quality of customer satisfaction delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, fun, individual price, and company spirit.”
  • Vision: An aspirational statement about what your business would like to achieve or accomplish in the future. The Alzheimer’s Association does this simply, and powerfully: “A world without Alzheimer’s.”

Your mission guides decision-making and keeps everyone — from the CEO or owner to front line employees — on course. While the vision statement is future-oriented, the mission is more grounded in the now. It’s your reason for being.

Some brands intertwine their vision and mission into a single cohesive statement. For example: “Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.”

Why It Matters

These short, snappy statements are much more than sound bites that promote a company’s values or positions. They create buy-in at the most essential level: among employees.mission statement

According to research conducted by Forbes, employees who do not find their company’s mission and vision meaningful have average engagement scores of 16% (compared to an average of 40%). They are there to put in their hours and collect their paycheck. Nothing more.

When employees connect with the mission and vision, though, their average engagement scores are well above average at 68%.

Employee engagement ties directly to bottom line results:

  • Companies with high levels of engagement report 20% higher productivity and 21% higher profitability (Gallup).
  • They also report higher profit growth (10-15%) compared to those with low levels of engagement (0-1%) (MIT Sloan Review).
  • Engagement is linked to increased operating income — average 19% over 12 months versus a decrease for organizations with low engagement (Towers Perrin).
  • High engagement companies generate earnings per share 342% higher than the industry median average (Gallup) and shareholder returns 22% higher than the average (AON Hewitt).

Employee engagement is just one way that an effective mission statement and vision make an impact on your business. From communicating your purpose and passion to aspiring to greater heights, these words matter.

Crafting Winning Vision and Mission Statements

How do you create statements that capture your purpose, your ideal future, and harness the energy of your people and target audience?

KISS. Keep it short and simple. Rather than wordy (and let’s face it, boring) corporate documents, craft a vision and mission message that is easily digested by employees, clients, and investors alike.

In terms of your vision:

  • Think — and dream — big. This is the time to be ambitious, and even audacious.
  • Project five to ten years down the road. What will success look like?
  • Align your vision with your business values and goals.
  • Use short, simple, passionate language and use the present-tense.

A few examples:

To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy (Tesla)

Spread ideas (TED)

To inspire humanity – both in the air and on the ground (JetBlue)

 

In terms of your mission statement, it should be anchored in the present, encompass your purpose, and answer key questions:

  • What does our company do and how?
  • For whom do we do it?
  • What value do we deliver?

In one simple sentence, Make-a-Wish captures the essence of their organization, their reason for being:

We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.

Other examples:

San Diego Zoo is a conservation, education, and recreation organization dedicated to the reproduction, protection, and exhibition of animals, plants, and their habitats.

Ducks Unlimited conserves, restores, and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people.

American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

Without a vision and mission statement, your company is like a rudderless ship. Any strong wind can blow it off course. These statements anchor you in your purpose and values, while allowing you the flexibility to aspire — and achieve. For a look at Haven’s definitive blueprint on creating a successful marketing strategy, download our 9 Steps to Effective Marketing in the Design and Construction Industry eBook. 


social media engagement

Social Media Engagement: Boosting Your Numbers

Tracking your followers on social media is a no-brainer. It’s easy — and gratifying — to see the number of fans and likes tick up. But these metrics don’t tell the whole story. How many people are engaging with your content? Interacting with your team? Participating in the conversation? Asking questions? Advocating for you?

Increasing social media engagement is essential to maximizing your social media ROI and meeting a number of mission-critical goals.

Social Media Engagement Matters

Reach, or the number of people who see your social posts, is crucial. It broadens your audience and helps you zero in on the types of content that are most compelling to them. Social media engagesocial media engagementment is the next step. It should come as no surprise that reach and engagement have a reciprocal relationship.

Here’s an example: you post a stellar piece full of actionable advice. It’s so compelling, so useful, that fans share it. It lands on the news feeds of their friends and family. Shares impact the number of people who see your posts — and increases the potential for further engagement.

Social media engagement is also critical because social media is now the biggest driver of referral traffic to websites. From there, you have a greater chance of converting customers and realizing a strong ROI.

Unlocking the Potential

The power — the point — of social media is engagement. How do you increase this key metric? We’re not going to tell you to create great content (but definitely create great content!). It’s an essential building block of not only your social strategy, but your overall digital marketing efforts. That’s your starting point. What else can you do to build and nurture social media engagement?

  • Figure out where you are.

    How engaged are your fans/followers? How much buzz is your brand creating on social media? Give yourself a starting point so you can measure the effectiveness of any tactics you employ. Analytics tools like Databox, Hootsuite, Social Mention, etc., can give you the data you need, as can your social media/digital marketing agency.

  • Use compelling images.

    Put faces to your team’s names; highlight exciting new products or the ways in which real customers use them; sharesocial media engagement photos of your team at industry events or in the community; throw a photo contest; make data pop with fun infographics.

    There are a multitude of ways to incorporate images into your posts, and it’s worth your while. Photos have an 85% interaction rate on Facebook and increase retweets by 35%. The popularity of Instagram attests to the tremendous power of pictures.

  • Ask for feedback.

    Want to know what people are thinking about you? Ask them. Solicit feedback and reviews, pointing fans towards your review page or to the comments section. What do you like? What could we improve? How do you use our product? What would you like to see next? It gets conversation started, and it can unearth a wealth of consumer data that you can put into action.

    Do not offer rewards in exchange for reviews. This will get you suspended from social platforms and reflect negatively on your brand. It seems innocuous: leave a review, get a free sample. But this is frequently against the terms of agreement. Not to worry, most people are ready and willing to share their opinions. A simple, “Thank you; we hear you!” is reward enough.

  • Give some stuff away.

    Everyone loves free products, and a contest/giveaway is the ideal way to generate excitement and engagement with your brand. FitnessBlender.com is a master of this. The workout/health site regularly features contests, asking their fans to share success stories or comment about their favorite workout buddy for a chance to win a free workout social media engagementprogram, and followers vote through likes.

    In one recent contest, the winners were each asked to select one person from the comments who they felt should also get the prize. This creates engagement with the brand, as well as within the community.

    Give it a try: people can like your page, fill out a form, share a comment, upload a picture, or complete another call to action to be entered into the running for the prize. It doesn’t have to be big or costly; it does have to be meaningful.

  • Show some personality.

    Social is the time to loosen your tie or untuck your shirt and be a bit more real. It’s important to stay aligned with your brand identity, but if it makes sense, indulge in a little humor or be a bit quirky or irreverent. Burger King typically nails it, and their fans love their posts.

Some other quick ways to increase social media engagement:

  • Share a surprising, bold statistic related to your industry/brand to grab attention.
  • Encourage more than a like; ask fans to love. These reactions take a bit more effort (not too much though!) to indicate deeper engagement than a simple like.
  • Share curated content from reliable sources to give your fans value at no cost to you.
  • Repurpose your content; a great infographic on Twitter can become a longform article on LinkedIn. You made that investment; now you can maximize it for different platforms/audiences.

How do you engage with your followers?


Content Marketing Tips You Can't Ignore

 

By Katie Mientka

How many times have you heard that “Content is King”?

Or that content marketing yields three times the leads per dollar spent compared to paid search and costs 62% less than traditional marketing.

Or that businesses with blogs generate 126% more lead growth than those without; that the conversion rates for content marketing are 6 times higher than other methods; that average people consume 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase decision; or that 84% of consumers expect brands to create content.

You get it: content marketing works. Here are 7 tips to make sure it works for your brand.

  • Ready, Set… Strategize.

    Many brands take the leap into content marketing without first testing the waters. They may make a splash — or they may drown in a sea full of competitors’ content. Without a strategy, you risk wasting time and resources as your goals remain out of reach.content marketing

    Before you leap: set goals and key performance indicators, determine your target audience and their wants/needs/interests, audit your current content and identify gaps, determine optimal content channels, and create a content creation/publishing schedule. Then start crafting content.

  • Rethink Your Content Architecture.

    Conversational searches (e.g. “best running shoes for off-trail”) and voice searches are on the rise. Google is becoming more “intuitive” in terms of interpreting users’ needs and delivering the best answers. In the past, dividing your content into basic categories and plugging in long-tail keywords was enough to ensure your brand featured in the search engine results pages. No longer.

    A more effective approach is to create a long-form pillar page which captures a bird’s eye view of the content/information you have to offer. From there, you zoom in and go into more detail on each topic with cluster content, utilizing targeted keywords and interlinking pieces. Not only does this provide a smooth, streamlined user experience, it boosts your SEO efforts and delivers results for your brand.

  • Bring Your A Game.

    Set the bar high for your content, and continually strive to meet or exceed your own standards. There is a mind-boggling amount of content out there; to stand out, yours needs to be both professional-quality and consistent. Publish only the best (quality over quantity) and keep feeding hungry consumers compelling content.

    As part of your strategy, include a range of content types as well. In addition to blogs, articles, ebooks, and other written forms, try infographics, video, podcasts, livestreams, and, of course, social media to target your audience more effectively.

  • Remember, Content is a Reusable Asset.content marketing

    You invest precious resources to create relevant content. So, get your money’s worth. A high-performing blog post, for example, doesn’t have to live exclusively on your brand’s blog.

    Post it on social media; use its captivating headline in a PPC ad, turn it into a video, podcast or infographic, use it as a downloadable guide, create a newsletter with other relevant posts, and/or include it in an email marketing campaign to retargeted website visitors. The possibilities are endless.

  • You Don’t Have to Go It Alone.

    Developing enough high-quality content to meet customers’ expectations (not to mention those of search engines!) is a challenge virtually all brands face. Smart ones know that they don’t have to carry the weight by themselves. There are two effective techniques you can employ:

    • Content Curation. Have you ever read an article or watched a video and thought, “I couldn’t have said it better myself!” Well, don’t. Share that content with your audience. This helps you deliver valuable information from experts and establish yourself as a trusted resource. It also frees you up to develop new content instead of retreading old ground.
    • UGC. User generated content empowers your audience to share their voice — and it helps you meet your content goals. Ask them for reviews, photos, videos, and stories to feature on your social media platforms and website. They’ll feel connected, and consumers are more likely to trust their peers than brands (at least until you establish that relationship and trust — which UGC will help you do).
  • Create Content for Specific Stages of the Buyer’s Journey.

    Someone who is only just discovering your brand needs a different type of content than someone who is ready to click “buy” or contact you for services. Cater to people based on where they are in order to move them where you want them to be.

    content marketingFor example, in the awareness stage, people realize they have a problem (or need). They want to learn how to solve it; this is an information-gathering phase. Provide relevant easy-to-digest content that answers questions. You want to educate at this point, so back off the hard sell.

  • Measure, Measure, Measure.

    How many marketers consider themselves “very successful” or “extremely successful” at tracking the ROI of content marketing? Only 8%. Tracking and measuring your efforts is critical, not only so you can justify the marketing dollars you spend, but so you can make necessary course corrections to your strategy. Tools such as Google Analytics, built-in social media analytics functions, and Hubspot can give you the data you need to make solid business decisions.


content marketing

5 Tips for an Integrated Marketing Strategy

By Katie Mientka

Everything is digital today, right? We wake up and immediately check to see who liked or shared our Facebook post overnight. At lunch, we use our phones to search for a good Thai place nearby. We check in with Facebook to see what our friends are doing, Instagram to see what our favorite celebrities are up to, or YouTube to find out how to fix a leaky faucet.

Our digital habits have become inextricably linked to our “real” lives. The lines between the two are not only blurry – they seem indistinguishable. But does this mean that brands should concentrate solely on digital marketing?

In a word: no. Traditional marketing reaches a wide audience, has a high success rate, and offers easily accessible information. These methods still produce results. And when combined with digital techniques, they can produce optimal results. The key is developing an integrated marketing strategy.

Some ideas that you can incorporate quickly and efficiently:

  1. Leverage great online content offline. Excellent educational content can be used to bolster in-person interactions. For example, say that you are at an industry trade show and speaking with a lead. They have a question about the best flooring for their new home. You can chat and follow up with, “We have two great articles on flooring. I’ll email them to you, so you can look them over.”This provides value to them – and keeps you top of mind as they make their purchasing decisions. Whether at corporate events, job fairs, or sales meetings, make your content work as efficiently as possible for your brand.
  2. Promote digital assets with traditional collateral. Make sure to include your website address and social profile information on magazines, flyers, and other printed materials. They should also be mentioned during radio spots and TV ads. For example, if you’re running a promotion, encourage readers/listeners to check out a dedicated landing page designed for that campaign.Coke does this effectively with their “Share a Coke with” campaign. Soft drink fans can peel off the label, open the Coke.com website on their phone, scan the icon on the bottle, and then gain access to special perks, contests, and more.
  3. Draw customers into your physical location with SMS. We can do a lot online, but we still can’t try on clothes, eat great food, or touch a flooring sample. Digital marketing can help generate awareness, but you need people in your space. Alert your contact base to flash sales and offer special discounts or online coupons. Text messaging has an impressive 36% click through rate (compared to just 3.2% for email).
  4. Use digital techniques during live events. Live Streaming is an excellent example. Trade shows or industry conferences are a great time for a live stream, but it doesn’t have to be a large event. It could be a showcase of exciting new products, a behind-the-scenes look at your business, a training or educational seminar (e.g. learning about the home building process for new buyers), a how-to with an expert on your team, etc.Video is tremendously popular, and people are 10 times more likely to comment on social media posts with this type of content.You could also create an event-specific hashtag and encourage visitors/attendees of an event to take and upload pictures and video to your social media platforms. User-generated content is critical; consumers trust their online peers and put great stock in reviews, ratings, and other UGC. In turn, this helps build trust with your brand.
  5. Don’t waste online leads. If you have exclusive or gated content for which users must sign up, use traditional marketing techniques to nurture those leads. A simple phone call from sales can help move them along the conversion funnel.

Combining the strengths of both digital and traditional marketing techniques enables you to create a comprehensive, effective, integrated marketing strategy to reach your target audience. Developing the mix that works for your brand and connects you with the right clients can be frustrating, take our quiz to find out if your marketing is effective!


buyer's journey

Creating Content for Different Stages of the Buyer's Journey

Imagine this:

You are a top home construction company in your area. Two people walk in to your office: one is wondering about the best floor plans to meet the needs of his growing family and if custom home building is right for him. The other is ready to sign on the dotted line because she knows exactly what she wants.

You’d approach each conversation differently, wouldn’t you? With the first, you’d address their needs and desires, explain the process, discuss different options, and introduce various floorplans. With the second, the conversation would focus on how your company will help her fine tune the scope of work, move forward with the project, and how you have done so for other clients.

This is a basic, almost intuitive, response to where potential customers are in the buyer’s journey. But are you using the same approach online?

A Quick Review of the Buyer’s Journey

 The buyer’s journey describes the steps that consumers take to become aware of your brand, evaluate your solutions, and decide to make a purchase.

  • Awareness. Here, consumers realize they have a problem or an unmet need.
  • Consideration. Defining the problem, they then look for brands that can provide solutions.
  • Decision. Consumers become customers, choosing a company that can help them.

content marketingSixty-seven percent of the buyer’s journey is completed online. This doesn’t mean sales is dead (far from!); it does mean, however, that you need to provide digital content that facilitates progression through each stage of the journey.

Create Awareness with Educational Content

Eighty-one percent of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase decision. At this stage, they want answers. The goal is to provide no-strings-attached information.

Content should be relatively brand-neutral, informative, easily digestible, shareable, and indicative of your industry experience. While you’re not selling, you are subtly conveying your authority by providing this information and insight.

Optimal formats include blog posts, videos, social media posts, interactive quizzes, and infographics. So, if you’re a homebuilder, think about topics like this:

  • How to select the best floor plan for your family
  • 5 benefits of an open floor plan
  • 10 ways to build a more efficient home
  • Custom home building vs. buying a pre-existing home: which is right for you?
  • How does the custom home building process work?
  • What’s the difference between custom and semi-custom homebuilding?
  • Home building FAQs

Keep Their Attention with Solutions

After the awareness stage, consumers have more clearly defined their problem. At this point, they’re looking for ways to solve it. Your content is geared towards helping them put their options on the table and find an answer that meets their needs.

While further along the journey, these individuals are not yet ready to buy. They need more information. Put targeted blogs, ebooks, white papers, downloadable guides, infographics, case studies, product demos, process videos, and other resources to work.

These will give them valuable education regarding your solutions while providing insight into what it’s like to do business with you. You don’t need to stay brand-neutral at this; in fact, this is an opportunity to deepen the trust between consumers and your company. Guide them towards determining whether your products/services are the right fit for them.

Let Them Know You Are the Solution

Consumers at the decisions stage are ready to buy, but they need a little push. Why should they buy from you? Because you’re the best, because you deliver the highest quality work, because you have the most effective product. Now’s the time to boast your strengths and differentiators.

Whitepapers, reports, and case studies are especially helpful at this point; leads need to know how you have helped solve similar problems or met related needs.

Content should push these folks to complete a compelling call to action, whether to contact you for a consultation or appointment or to use your built-in tool to generate a quote. Your CTAs are the content stars at this stage.

Don’t Stop There

buyer's journeyDon’t leave valued customers out in the cold when it comes to content. At this point, it should be tailored to providing ongoing value, upselling, encouraging repeat buying, and creating brand advocates or evangelists.

ACo, for example, provides a handy guide for customers who have installed hardwood floors. What better way to show them you’re committed to delivering the best service, even after they’ve written the check?

Utilize social media as well: you can feature happy homeowners (if we’re using our home builder example), as well as solicit user generated content. Reviews and testimonials are effective “social proof,” and videos/photos of their homes are exceptional, visually-compelling pieces of content you can share not only on social media but on your website and via case studies and other assets.

The right content at the right stage of the journey provides the motivation for consumers to keep moving towards your solutions – and keep coming back to you for answers. Find ideas and strategies you can implement to build your brand and tell your story to the right clients by downloading our eBook, 9 Steps to Effective Marketing in the Design and Construction Industry.


social media metrics

Social Media Metrics You Should be Watching

By Katie Mientka

Knowing that social media is critical to your overall marketing strategy is one thing; proving that it yields the results your company needs is a different beast. Whether you are making decisions about where to direct resources or justifying a budget to your bosses, you need hard data. By tracking the right social media metrics, that’s just what you will get.

Are You Measuring….

Brand Awareness.

This is a basic at-the-start social media metric that helps you analyze whether or not you are breaking through the noise. Do people, particularly your target audience, know who you are?

One way to measure this is by seeing how much attention your brand gets in terms of mentions, shares, links, and/or impressions. A brand monitoring tool, such as Social Mention or Hubspot Social Inbox, can help you get this information. Track it over a specified period (week, month, quarter) and use that as a starting point for comparison as you proceed.

You can also look at audience growth rate, which looks at how fast you are building a following. To do this, measure your new followers over a specified period. Divide this by the total audience and multiply by 100 for your audience growth rate. For example: you get 50 new followers in a month and have 5000 overall. Your growth rate is 1%. Do this for each platform.

Reach.

Your social media marketing partner or a monitoring tool can help you track reach. This is the number of people who see a post once you’ve pushed it live. Reach is not synonymous with followers; of 1000 fans, for example, you may only be reaching a few hundred. With this knowledge, you can take proactive steps to increase your reach, such as delivering more targeted authoritative content, posting at optimal times of day and days of week, and interacting with your social community.

Engagement Rates.social media metrics

While reach refers to how many people see your posts, engagement tracks how many interacted with it in some way. It could be likes or reactions (e.g. love or wow on Facebook), comments, or shares. You can get an average engagement rate by adding up all of a post’s likes, comments, and shares, dividing by your total number of followers, and multiplying by 100.

For example, if a post generated 100 likes, comments and shares and you have 500 followers, your average engagement rate is 20%.

It may be helpful to separate out these numbers by goals. If your primary goal is to increase your reach, look specifically at shares. If you want to generate conversation and interaction, likes and comments is the social media metric to look at.

Share of Voice.

How many people are talking about you versus the competition? To figure it out, measure every one of your brand mentions across all social platforms for a given period. Do the same for your competitors. Add all of these mentions up. This gives you total industry mentions.

Say – purely for easy math – that your brand received 100 mentions, Brand X 75, and Brand Y 110. This is 285 mentions total. Divide your brand mentions by this total and multiply by 100. 100 ÷ 285 = 0.35 x 100 = 35%. This is your share of the social conversation. Now you can take steps to boost it.

Click-Through Rate.

This social media metric refers to the frequency with which people click on a call to action in your post. (Read More! Sign Up for Our Newsletter, etc.) Divide the number of clicks on a post’s link by the total number of impressions (how many times it was viewed) for that post. Multiply by 100 for your CTR.

Conversion Rate.

How many people take action after clicking through to a landing page? You can install cookies to track how many users click the CTA link and convert. Divide the conversions by total clicks and multiply by 100 to get your percentage.

This will tell you if the content you are providing is of value to your target audience – and if you are getting your message to them. If you have a low conversion rate, rethink the content you provide, the timing and frequency you post, and your CTA wording itself.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed with data; you can measure and track virtually everything. The key is to select the social media metrics that align with your brand’s specific goals. The ones mentioned above offer a great starting point. If you’re looking for more guidance to overcome the frustrations of measuring and managing your metrics, start by taking our quiz to find out if your current strategy is effective.


art of the tagline

The Art of the Tagline: 7 Tips

By Katie Mientka

Most of us can easily name each of the following companies with just these few, simple words. These brands have mastered the art of the tagline — and you can too.

Just Do It

America Runs on Dunkin

The Few. The Proud. The Marines

What’s In Your Wallet?

The Quicker Picker Upper

Tagline… or Slogan?

It may just come down to a matter of semantics, but there is a subtle difference between slogans and taglines. A slogan is typically aligned with a particular product or campaign, while a tagline is closely associated with the brand itself. The former may be temporary; the latter enduring – at least until the company wants to rebrand themselves and strike out into new territory.

Here’s an example: the slogan for Nike’s Sweet Classic High Top was, “The shoe works if you do.” It was specific to this campaign. It’s iconic tagline, “Just Do It,” however, remains embedded in the minds of consumers — whether or not they’ve ever put on a Nike in their lives. They just know it.

How can you create a memorable tagline?

7 Tips For Brand Strengthening Taglines

1. Simple and Succinct.

As you can see from the examples above, effective taglines are short and to the point. ACo, for instance, simply says, “Love where you live.” No extraneous words, no filler. A few words can communicate a lot.

2. Speak to a Benefit.

Provide a quick snapshot of the value you deliver. Can’t accomplish that in just a few words? Sure you can! “Relax, it’s FedEx.” There. It conveys the message: “We’ll deliver your package on time. Don’t stress. Don’t worry. The critical component, the signed business contract, the important birthday present… it’ll be there.”

3. Convey a Feeling.

While functional, your tagline should also strike an emotional cord with consumers. “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” With just six words (half of them “the”!), this tagline packs a punch and conveys a feeling of strength and exclusivity.

4. Don’t Date Yourself.

Taglines should be timeless. Don’t use jargon or trendy terms. The simpler, the better. L’Oreal’s “Because You’re Worth It” is a fine example. Ageless.

5. Be Customer-Focused.

And speaking of L’Oreal: this tagline works so well because it is focused on the consumer, not the brand. You are worth it. “Can You Hear Me Now?”, Verizon’s successful line does the same, speaking of the convenience of wide, consistent coverage areas. Ask yourself, what do our customers want?

6. Be Consistent.

Your tagline will help differentiate your brand; people will come to associate it with your unique identity. Make sure it aligns with other marketing efforts in voice, tone, and style.

7. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.

Repetition is key. We remember the taglines mentioned here because we’ve heard them so often. “15 Minutes Can Save You 15% or More on Car Insurance” is not the snappiest tagline but it’s working for Geico. They’ve engrained it in people’s heads with constant repetition (a billion-dollar marketing budget doesn’t hurt). Regardless of budget, you can use your tagline consistently and integrate into your overall marketing strategy, so it starts to work for you.

You have a lot to say about your brand — and your brand has a lot to offer its customers. The key to an effective tagline is capturing the essence of your identity and value proposition with a few active, positive, and punchy words. Find additional tips for creating a successful marketing strategy by downloading our definitive blueprint, 9 Steps to Effective Marketing in the Design and Construction Industry eBook.


marketing performance

How Do You Know if Your Marketing Needs Work?

By Katie Mientka

Be honest: you clicked here because you’re not sure if you have an answer to that question.

And that’s okay. Design and construction marketing is both an art and a science—it’s measurable, but also unpredictable. You can break it down into numbers, yet you can’t always count on it to play out exactly as you’d hoped.

According to marketing statistics from Hubspot, most of you think your marketing needs work.

Only 22% of businesses in 2016 were happy with their current level of marketing.

That’s an optimistic way of saying 78% of businesses weren’t. Even if you’re not sure your marketing efforts have lived up to your investment, there might be effective ways for you to get the insights you need so you can move forward with a marketing strategy that works for you.

How can you get some clarity about your marketing in the design and construction industries?

Learn to Measure Your Marketing Performance

When it comes down to it, much of the frustration that arises out of marketing comes from not having enough clarity about the results. Companies simply don’t know if the ROI from their marketing makes the marketing budget worth the investment.

The best solution: measure, measure, measure. Without measuring your marketing performance, you’ll never have the insights necessary to tweak your marketing and improve your performance. Without measuring it, you’ll never even know if your marketing is performing up to par!

What are some ways you can better measure your marketing performance? Here are a few ideas:

  • Get serious about web analytics.

    You can’t do much without construction or design marketing data. Web analytics show you which platforms are sending you traffic. Try a service like Databox.com to get a sense of how your business isn’t only attracting traffic, but ultimately performing with that traffic. Whether you’re investing in offline marketing or online marketing via social media sponsorships, effective web analytics will show you where most of your conversions are coming from.

  • Use the marketing tools themselves.

    For example, Facebook pixel makes it possible to track activity on your website and better understand exactly how social media engagementyour online ads are performing. If you use platforms that provide powerful tools like this, use them—they’re not there for your health.

  • Ask.

    Whether you have a sign-up sheet on your website or you simply ask your potential leads outright, it never hurts to ask where people found your business. This is a less formal way of studying the source of your new business, but it will at least give you an indication as to the success of your marketing campaigns.

Is Your Marketing Working for You? Consider Taking this Fun and Interactive Quiz

If just 22% of businesses feel confident about their marketing, something is askew.

The problem isn’t necessarily that your analytics aren’t in place, either. For too many businesses, their goals aren’t clear. While they might feel as though they’re getting the web visits or conversions that their marketing dollar is paying for, they might wonder if they should be pursuing new business with these methods in the first place.

How does a business cut through the noise and get more clarity when it comes to marketing?

We’ve put together a quiz that will help. This quiz is fun—a lot of fun, actually—but it will also take you through your current marketing performance and ask you some cutting questions that get to the heart of what you’re looking for. This quiz addresses:

  • Your marketing goals
  • Your current sales volume
  • The percentage growth you’re looking for
  • How you track results
  • How to understand the returns you’re seeing from marketing.

In short, this quiz will help provide a “birds-eye” view of what your overall marketing efforts look like.


5 Tips to Increase Social Media Reach

There are over 2.77 billion social media users worldwide, many spending two to nine hours per day seeking connection, entertainment, enlightenment… and everything in between. What can you do to ensure more of those eyes are on your brand’s content?

What is Reach?

In social media terms, reach refers to the number of people who see your content. Is this just another way to track followers or fans? No; in fact, reach differs quite a bit. Say you have 1000 followers; not every one of them will see your content.

In an effort to bring users more personal content, for example, Facebook changed its algorithms and now prioritizes posts from family, friends, and groups to which users belong.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, “You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

A side effect of this change for businesses is that fewer people see their content in news feeds. Organic — or unpaid — reach is on the decline for brands. According to research from analytics and reporting firm Locowise, organic reach averages:

  • 2.27% for pages with over 1 million likes.
  • 7.47% for those with 500,000 – 1 million likes.
  • 9.62% for those with 50,000 – 100,000 likes.
  • 22.8% for those with below 1000 likes.

The good news for you if, as mentioned, you have about 1000 followers, is that your reach is typically higher. The not-so-good news is that you are still reaching fewer than a quarter of these people.

Why Reach Matters

But if you are connecting with the right people — your target audience — why is it important to increase social media reach? Ossi Ahto explains in a Think with Google piece:

…without first starting with bigger reach, many potential consumers are liable to never hear of your brand, message or proposition. The post-modern consumer is providing fewer and fewer hints on their media consumption and, as we know, can jump from content to content in the blink of an eye. This is why even in these days of sharp-edge targeting, broad reach is still important.

“Smart brands,” says Ahto, “use the broad reach of digital to tap into and understand audiences outside their preconceived target groups.”

Reach is potential. It’s time to expand yours.

Increasing Your Reach

Start expanding your reach by:

  • Optimizing Your Social Profiles. First, make sure your house is in order, so to speak. Take the time to fill in your profile information clearly and completely. Write a short, but descriptive statement about what you do or the products/services you offer with carefully chosen keywords, add an engaging brand photo or logo, and provide a trackable link back to your website.
  • Delivering Authoritative Content. Consumers gobble content voraciously; when you deliver high-quality posts, you position yourself as an authority in your field. This increases the odds that your content will be shared (expanding your reach even further).
    • Remember, this is social media. Do not post an overwhelming amount of promotional content. No one wants to hear, ad nauseum, how great you are. Show them, instead of telling them. A mix of promotional (no more than 20% of your total content), owned (your original content), and curated (that which you share from reliable sources in your space) helps you hit the sweet spot in terms of consumer attention and value.
  • Knowing What — And When — To Post. Posting great content in the right format can help you increase your reach. Research shows that video has an average reach of 8.7%, compared to 5.8% for a status update. This is not to say you should post nothing but videos; it is to say that you should experiment with finding the right medium for your message.
    • Finding the right time and frequency to post is another key component of expanding your reach. By reaching out during non-peak hours (on Facebook, for example, this tends to be Thursday-Friday between 1:00pm and 3:00pm), you can avoid being lost in the deluge of other content being released.
    • And, as is usually the case, it’s about quality over quantity. If you essentially spam your page with low-quality, uninteresting posts, people (and platform algorithms) tune you out. While there’s no exact number, two great posts per day is far more effective than 10 mediocre-poor ones.
  • Promoting Your Social Presence. Don’t let your social profiles languish. Actively promote them. You can add follow buttons on your website, allowing visitors to easily and conveniently share content or interact with your page. Cross-promotion on multiple social channels is also important. A reminder to your Twitter followers to check you out on Facebook, for instance, can help you expand your reach and provide a consistent brand experience.
    • Don’t forget to announce your digital presence in traditional settings as well. For example, you can add a “Follow us on Facebook” to your email signature or add a line to your business cards.
    • Interacting Meaningfully with Your Community. If you provide quality content and interact with people on a personal level, they will actively seek you out. They’ll be interested in what you have to say — and just as engaged in what they want to say to you. This increases your reach organically, creating a digital word-of-mouth that is powerful.

Wendy’s is well known for their fun and engaging replies on Twitter that frequently go viral:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These tips will give you a good start. Even if you increase your reach by a few percentage points, they can be critical in helping you reach (pun intended) your brand-building goals. For additional guidance on expanding your reach and telling your story to the right brand of client, download our free eBook, 9 Steps to Effective Marketing in the Design and Construction Industry.


build brand awareness

Build Brand Awareness with These 5 Tips

By Katie Mientka

When you have a cold, do you reach for a tissue or a Kleenex? When your child has a scraped knee, do you apply a bandage or a Band-Aid? When you put away your leftovers, do you keep them in plastic containers or in Tupperware?

These companies have achieved the holy grail of brand awareness. Consumers know them, and what they do, so well that they just go ahead and call every similar product by their names.

The reality is you don’t need to be Xerox or Legos or Coke to achieve outstanding brand awareness, reach your audience, and realize business-building results. You can, however, learn from their marketing efforts.

Stand Out from the Crowd

When consumers have a problem, they can find five, ten, fifteen companies that promise to provide similar solutions. The goal, and value, of building brand awareness is that it empowers you to stand out. It shines a spotlight on your brand as not just a solution but the solution.build brand awareness

1. Target Specific Audiences.

It’s the basic, start-at-the-beginning step of building brand awareness. Know who you want to reach: maybe it’s consumers who want to build an energy efficient dream home or business owners who want to remodel their office space for a dynamic workforce. Tailor your messaging and content to their needs – and demonstrate that you have the answers for which they are searching.

Your industry doesn’t need to be renamed after your brand. You just need your name to be synonymous with quality and results amongst your target audience.

2. Leverage Word of Mouth.

While many marketing endeavors have moved online, word of mouth is far from dead. It’s alive and kicking – fiercely.

The vast majority of consumers (83%) trust recommendations from peers over brand advertising.

You can leverage that trust by identifying and reaching out to influencers, encouraging testimonials, reviews, ratings, and other user-generated content (UGC), and engaging on social media. If appropriate for your business, you can also implement a referral program with a perk. Dropbox, for example, offers 500mb of extra storage for users who refer a friend.

These efforts enable you to spread the word about your brand.

 3. Get Social.

Seems like you can’t avoid social media these days. Nor should you! This is a tremendous tool to help you build brand awareness. A social presence enables you to connect with your target audience.

Nearly 70% of American adults use Facebook; 30% of Instagram users are 25 – 34 years old; 81% of Pinterest users are women.

Depending on the segments you are targeting, you can create a comprehensive social strategy that encompasses optimal platforms. From there, you can interact with your audience in a meaningful way, share compelling content, solicit feedback, feature user-generated content, generate buzz, engage influencers, expand your reach through shareable content and contests, and more.

Build brand awareness – and trust.

4. Finetune Your SEO Efforts.

When consumers need answers, they turn to Google. Ensuring your SEO game is strong will help you rank advantageously in the search results, so they find you. Your SEO strategy encompasses everything from content to targeted keywords to links to site speed.

Solid SEO not only attracts traffic, it helps keep visitors on site. For example, site speed is a critical ranking factor for Google and other search engines. But it also impacts visitor behavior.

According to Google, when page load time increases from one to five seconds, bounce rates increase by 90%.

Your reputation is directly impacted by the experiences your visitors have on your website. They’ll be far less likely to share, recommend, or rave about you if you are running outdated SEO and website technology.

 5. Did Someone Say “Free”?

Who doesn’t love free swag! Why not hand out reusable water bottles, shopping totes, device chargers, t-shirts, exclusive discounts, and other useful items at festivals, fairs, community events, trade shows, etc.? Items that relate back to your brand in meaningful and creative ways are even better.

Don’t forget another valuable asset you own: content. For example, you can offer exclusive content to social media followers or those who fill out a simple form on your website with their email address.

Strong brand awareness empowers you to stand out from the pack. These five tips don’t even scratch the surface. Download our 9 Steps to Effective Marketing in the Design and Construction Industry eBook to see Haven’s definitive blueprint for creating a successful marketing strategy.