PivotPath

Cultural Competency: Tips and Tricks on Communicating a Shared Message to a Multi-Cultured Audience

‘When in Rome, live as the Romans do; when elsewhere, live as they live elsewhere.’

The idea of conformity might be appealing to some, but it’s not that simple in the diverse, multicultural environment.

Part of the wonders of effective communication is maintaining a diverse audience. Even so, it’s essential to understand and confront our own biases, experiences, and values that shape the lens through which we view our reality. With the aid of cultural competency, you will be able to communicate to your multi-cultured audience with ease.

Cultural Competency: Tips and Tricks on Communicating a Shared Message to a Multi-Cultured Audience

What is Cultural Competency, and Why is it Important?

According to the American Psychological Association, cultural competency allows us to understand and respect values, attitudes, beliefs, and most importantly, to interact with people from cultures or belief systems that differ from our own—and is perhaps the most helpful tool in business and marketing that you can have at your disposal. Having been a key aspect of psychological thinking and in practice for some 50 years, it’s even become listed as one of psychology’s core competencies. In most aspects of life, but especially with marketing and politics, cultural competence in communication could be comparable to the “hitch” that holds you and your target audience together.

Most importantly, when you have an audience of several different cultural backgrounds, handling your cultural competency can differentiate between a well-communicated message and a poorly-communicated one. To have a good sense of multicultural competence, it’s important to have the following competencies:

  • Basic knowledge of your own culture, worldview, and values.
  • A willingness to learn about the cultural practices, worldviews, and values of others.
  • A positive attitude toward cultural differences and a readiness to accept and respect said differences.

In a globalized, increasingly diverse world, with diverse people—refugees, migrants, immigrants, citizens, and so on—anyone can be your audience, and you can gain valuable insight in interacting with a worldly audience. But, how do you communicate with everyone across the board in a leveled, realistic way?

1. Focus on Structure

When it comes to structuring—through presentations, social media, videos, blog posts, or whichever medium you choose—we recommend that you ensure that the message of your medium is understandable and easy to digest. Make it easy for your audience to understand and follow along. Logically structured messages also make it easier for you to relay your message.

When communicating your message, start with the most crucial aspect of it first. Background and detail aren’t as necessary as you would think. Rather than building up to it, order your thoughts by decreasing importance. Readers will have an easier time parsing your message, and you won’t have to waste time to deliver the point. Use bullet points to your advantage whenever there are three or more points you want to make. Use bold print sparingly: it draws your readers’ attention, but too much of it renders the attention moot. Be sure that the bold text is self-contained so that your readers can find it easily.

A consistent, coherent, and light format—consistent fonts, font sizes, spacing, and numbering—keeps the message’s readers’ attention. If you consider capitalizing words or sentences to get your reader’s attention, don’t. Writing in all uppercase hurts more than it helps as it is obnoxious, and your message will be remembered for the wrong reason.

2. Leave the Idioms Out

In marketing, humor and idioms can help get your message across, primarily effective if you and your audience share the same culture, humor, and language. However, if your audience shares varying cultures, leaving the humor out of the picture is most advisable. What is funny in one culture may prove to be confusing, or even offensive, in another, and you don’t want to risk a misfire. 

Avoid jargon and fancy words to help save the reader time and effort. Otherwise, you risk making your audience stop and think about what’s being said to them, breaking the piece’s flow. Writing shorter sentences is an excellent way to ensure that communication between your brand and your audience is easily digestible. Best of all, you won’t have to worry about them possibly missing the point. Because your audience is multicultural—quite broad, generally speaking—the message has a chance of being lost in translation with long, complex sentences. As such, writing at a 10th-grade level is recommended. This isn’t meant to disparage or insult the readers of your text, but instead, this is to help ensure that the message is received with little margin of error.

3. Research, Research, Research

An essential step in this article, research, allows you to do many things: from defining and understanding your audience and their issues to letting you know how best to get the message across. To connect to your audience, you need to understand why your topic is important to them, and in turn, why their attention is vital to you. Why should they care? Why does your topic matter to them? What motivates your audience as a whole?

However, when it comes to research in the vein of cultural competency, you should give as much attention to your audience’s culture as possible, too. These include linguistic preferences, cognition, ethnocentricity, values, and communication styles. Researching the cross-cultural differences of your target audiences is essential, and, whatever you do, don’t put them into one marketing box. Cultural norms and values influence how people think, act, and feel, and the people who identify with them often share both. Once you gain an understanding, implement these cultural standards and values into your messages. Similar to nonverbal signs and their meanings, we need to know and recognize different cultural tendencies. As an example, some cultures use “she” as their primary preferred pronoun. It could be the opposite in other cultures.

Knowing such intricacies could help you have an advantage over other business marketing firms with a multicultural audience. More importantly, though, research can help keep your multicultural audience and minimize linguistic and cultural fumbles.

4. Ask Questions and Rephrase Comments

While this part is a bit on the shorter side, it is nonetheless important. Checking in with audiences is a good habit to form. Better yet, asking questions and rephrasing comments is particularly useful with a diverse audience, as it could give you a chance to go over your message to anyone who might have missed it. Rephrasing a question also allows your audience to get clarification, and it can also help you gain clarification from your audience.

5. Craft Sensitive, Culturally-Relevant Messages

To ensure that your multicultural audience stays as your audience, you have to respect the people who comprise it. Crafting a campaign that respects and reflects their values and beliefs can be the most effective way to earn your audience’s trust. As such, basing your campaign on stereotypes and assumptions is the quickest way to lose said audience. Furthermore, it can damage your organization’s reputation, credibility, and you can lose your audience’s trust in one fell swoop.

Therefore, there are several things you must consider when crafting your content. If there is a demographic shift in your audience, research it and quickly identify their needs. Rather than merely announcing that you “want” to reach your audience, find out who they are through research, as said in an earlier point. If you want to create dedicated communities, you must develop content specific to those targeting groups. A good example of this is creating an online community that allows an organization to understand consumers’ experiences and hear their stories in their own words and culture. This way, they can trust that your organization reflects their values.

5. Be Prepared for Feedback

An often overlooked aspect of communicating with multicultural communities, preparing for your audience’s feedback helps you just as much as it helps them. Audience feedback allows you to avoid costly mistakes, helping generate goodwill in combination with the earlier points in this article. Whether on social media or paper, through surveys, polls, or focus groups, knowing what your audience is saying about your company is crucial for your results. Are they happy with your interaction? Do you engage with them?

Listen to your audience’s mentions. Host focus groups. Hire native speakers of your target market. You can even partner with a reputable translation service with native linguists. Precise expertise, who are best-equipped, can help you in any of the following. They can impart valuable advice for your product or service. They can also help you implement a cultural sensitivity strategy within your broader marketing objectives.

Multiculturalism, however broad it is, is one of the world’s greatest assets and accomplishments. It can fuel innovation and growth. It can foster friendships, business relationships, and more when people are exposed to different cultures. Here at PivotPath, we think this is incredibly valuable for this ever-changing world.

Do you have a multicultural audience, but you just don’t know how to address them? Are you a non-profit organization or agency looking to branch out to stakeholders and residents alike? Contact PivotPath today for a free consultation!

creating and maintaing coalitions and partnerships

Selecting the Right Communications Agency for Your Municipality

Selecting the Right Communications Agency for Your Municipality

When selecting the right communications agency for your municipality and looking at how many agencies are out there, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, flustered, and frustrated. Marketing might seem like a field traditionally reserved for for-profit businesses. But, certain aspects of local government, such as city branding, definitely take marketing skills. These marketing skills are your most valuable asset when communicating initiatives, raising awareness, and encouraging participation.

We know it can be easier to stick with the same marketing and communication consultants for projects, but this can keep your community in the spiral of unrecognition and lost revenue opportunities. Plus, new, innovative agencies can bring a fresh perspective to your team that has not been thought of, developed, or implemented before. We will cover some factors to consider when selecting the right communications agency for your municipality.

Government  Marketing and Communications: Why is it Important?

Municipalities are looked upon by their residents to advance their community development, health, education, recreation, and safety. They plan and pay for most roads, run public schools, and provide water. They organize police and fire services, establish zoning regulations and licensed professions. Perhaps most importantly, they arrange elections for their residents to help maintain peace, order, and good governance districts.

It’s not a far cry to assume that solid and transparent communications from your agency will create trust in your residents and hopefully inspire them to become more involved in their communities. As such, when this relationship solidifies over time, residents realize that their concerns matter. They are theoretically being listened to, after all. The more community engagement from both parties, the better informed your residents are on projects that affect their daily lives.

Realize Your Municipality Objectives

 Municipalities often face unique challenges—most often a unique mix of businesses, services, and infrastructure to support the needs and wants of their residents and stakeholders. Therefore, a community’s strategic growth must be the combined result of both short-term and long-term goals. Considering these goals is an integral first step to selecting the right communications agency for your local government. These goals may or may not include the following:

  • Improving community engagement and pride through community involvement, events, and volunteering
  • Fostering business development through land use planning, supporting, and engaging developers’ efforts
  • Enhancing tourism industry development through product development and promotion—both internal and external
  • Enhancing and engaging in community service objectives

Now, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all goal list: in fact, complex municipalities rarely have the same problems or solutions for it. However, these involved municipalities have well-defined goals and objectives that pinpoint what action should be taken as far as marketing goes. More often than not, this is where your marketing agency comes in. They think and operate using business objectives when implementing a proposed plan. They understand the “why” and the “how” behind their actions and communicate this to internal and external stakeholders.

Consider Your Stakeholders: Your Bread and Butter

It can be challenging to engage with a general audience with more corporate clients than a specific one. One of the more unique challenges that municipalities face, however, is the fact that these governments have a large number of stakeholders that cover just about every resident in that area, a comprehensive spectrum: residents, business owners, the general workforce, tourists, elected officials, even your municipal staff. Sometimes, people who aren’t even residents of the area are essential stakeholders: influencers like real estate brokers and developers, community partners, educational organizations, advocacy groups, and more.

Identifying your key stakeholders is the second step in ensuring that your communications agency will target the people you want. In addition, it is often best that you base your choice on which communication agency you will go with, depending on your stakeholders’ wants or needs and your goals. A successful government marketing agency will work to deliver a memorable message that is unique, understandable, and sets your region apart from other communities. It would help if you had a good handle on what matters to your stakeholders so that you can best meet their needs.

Personify Your Municipality

Here, you should take an honest look at your region and ask yourself: what makes it unique in the market? What problems can your municipality solve, and why is your solution the most coherent? In time, you will find that your answer often becomes your municipalities’ most important proposition as the foundation for your marketing messaging. A good communications agency will help you establish an identifiable “brand” emblematic of your region, a “personality” that helps define a consistent voice to convey your value propositions.

Some of the more famous examples of this phenomenon include Disney’s adoption of “the magician” in their brand or Harley Davidson’s adoption of “the grizzled biker outlaw.” Either way, both adoptions contribute to these brands’ sense of identity, conveying a specific appearance that their communications reflect. These could affect logos and taglines through marketing materials, including websites, signage, residential communications, advertising, sponsorship materials, and even events.

Be Sure to Establish A Budget

The size of your budget is less important than your objectives and the different capabilities needed to meet and exceed your municipality’s goals.

Still, it is also important to exercise discipline when developing your budget and picking the right communications agency. Undoubtedly, the size of said agency also plays a role in determining one, but be sure not to fall into the rabbit hole of “big budgeting for a big agency and smaller budgeting for a smaller agency.” 

Municipalities could also learn from the messaging tactics of businesses through a communications agency. Companies deliver messages to consumers in many ways, such as outdoor advertising, print, broadcast, and direct mail—and a communications agency, as it turns out, isn’t much different. Depending on the agency, they can do this in-house with either one employee, a small group, an entire marketing firm, or even outsource their branding tasks to on-call agencies. Some even do a particular combination of all four.

Regardless of which you pick, it is essential to realize that some tactics work better than others. For example, relying on an in-house marketing team increases the speed with which a city can respond and push out messaging during an emergency or crisis, as shown with the Zika virus in South Florida. With that in mind, team structures and partnerships are abundant, depending on each city’s branding and marketing needs. What works for one city might not work for another.

Ensure That You and Your Agency Are On the Same Page

Even more important when considering a specific communications agency is whether or not they “get” you. However, this doesn’t just cover this agency’s experience in your region or the industries within said region. Frequently, the best communications agencies can understand the problems you are having in the public sector. For example, suppose a stakeholder in your municipality has a problem with transportation or traffic congestion that extends their commute. In that case, a good communications agency should address the issue by giving updates to fix that issue. This way demonstrates genuine care for your stakeholders.

Review Your Results

Whichever agency you choose to hire, be sure to keep in mind the results of your efforts. Metrics are essential, especially in this day and age. Can the agency promote earned media coverage? Through ads to ensure stakeholders view, digest, and understand your municipality’s message, do they do so through ads? In the end, results are the most significant indicator of business success, just as much as government.

Revisit Your Long-Term Vision and Goals

Many businesses and organizations alike focus on quantifiable results and return on investment. These include factors like more clicks on a website, greater app use, a boost in event attendance, or greater recognition of a city’s logo and mission. Municipalities should also do the same to identify what did and did not work. Afterward, it’s essential to check up on your goals and your long-term vision with your municipality. Are you on the way to making that long-term vision a reality?

Are you running a municipality or some other form of governance? Have you found yourself stuck when it comes to marketing? Contact PivotPath today to schedule a free consultation to help improve your strategy. We’ll put you on the right path!

End of Year Blues? Here are 6 Tips on Creating your BEST Annual Report

Writing up the required annual report can be the most dispiriting part of the year for nonprofits and community foundations, especially in a year so many were threatened by COVID-19. However, it can also be an opportunity to effectively market your organization’s story by getting visually creative. Here are six tips to craft your best annual report yet.

annual report

1. Work as a Team

John Maxwell states “teamwork makes the dream work.” The same can be said in relation to creating your best annual report. Engaging annual reports are not solely developed by the CEO and your organization’s numbers. Assign tasks to each department head and partake in a planning committee to decide the information your organization will need, such as who will be responsible for assembling the income and expenditure reports. Utilizing your graphic design and content writing teams may help to share the story of your accomplishments and activities.

Graphic designers can:

  • Be creative with the colors of your brand to highlight the past year.
  • Use best design practices.
  • Make infographics, charts, graphs, and other visuals to showcase your brand.
  • Work with photographers to create powerful data visualizations, including photos and videos.

Content writers can:

  • Use the facts and figures to craft the story of the year to tell your story in a relatable way.
  • Interview supporters, employees, and any others who can enhance the accomplishments of your organization.
  • Combat challenges with transparency and prove that your organization has accomplished its mission and has been responsible to its supporters.
  • Use the facts and figures to forecast your company’s fiscal future.

2. Share Your Story

While the basics of an annual report include an introduction, a shareholder’s letter, a business profile, a financial statement, and an auditor’s report, the most important aspect of a good annual report is sharing your organization’s community with the impact of the year that will be told throughout the document.

An annual report should never be boring. To counter that, you don’t want to only report the facts and figures with your shareholder letter and call it a day. Instead, you want to use the facts and figures to showcase the activities, accomplishments, successes, and failures of the year and the years going forward.

Content writers can do this in several ways. They can simply list the activities, accomplishments, successes, and challenges in relation to the mission. To collect additional information, they can interview supporters, donors, and strategic partners, and use those interviews throughout the report in conjunction with the tasks, achievements, progress, and shortcomings listed. In addition, the writers can interview and write personal profiles on supporters/donors, employees, and others who have made an impact on your company, and/or on how they may impact your organization in the future.

Your best annual report:

  • Introduces the audience to your company.
  • Explains what your company has done in the past year.
  • Uses the facts and figures to highlight the accomplishments of your organization from the prior year.
  • Describes how your organization will do what it wants to achieve in the future.

3. Let’s Get Visual

Humans are visual beings—over 90 percent of information processed by the brain is from sight. According to Neuroscience News, even those born without sight use the visual part of their brains when hearing sounds in the dark.

So it is no wonder, then, that in order to create the most engaging annual report you can make, you must consider making it aesthetically pleasing. It should also be visually appealing to positively represent your organization and attract your targeted audience(s). And there are many ways to do that, including a food company that asked its supporters to bake part of their annual report booklet in order to read it.

Two other creative examples include Vrijwilligersacademie Amsterdam, a volunteer foundation in the Netherlands that encouraged their supporters to turn their annual report into origami after reading it, and Sonae, a shopping center company that turned their annual report into playful, rotating gears.

While print is the traditional way to go with annual reports, many organizations these days find that digital reports can be the most cost-effective, creative way to reach more supporters. It is also one of the easiest ways to market to more audiences through email, social media, etc.

This digital report from the Humane Society of the United States in 2019 showcases beautiful animal photography mixed in with articles explaining their accomplishments and interviews from supporters.

Some organizations have found using videos to create their annual reports has been the creative way to go. There are several reasons why video marketing is beneficial.

4. Be Transparent

Being transparent can be important to any part of an organization, but particularly in creating your best annual report. Your organization should not only divulge its activities and accomplishments from the past year, but it should also stress the shortcomings. Many organizations have had to face challenges in the past couple of years due to COVID-19.

An effective example is this digital report from Pathfinder International in 2020, whose impact included how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their organization’s mission and the people they help. Pathfinder International is an organization that supports women in making their own reproductive choices. In their annual report last year, they explained how they moved through the challenges of the pandemic, from health services and contraceptive supply chain issues to nationwide lockdowns.

5. Forecast Your Fiscal Future

An annual report typically goes over the prior year’s financial successes and pitfalls. A good annual report projects the potential for future revenue growth, too.

It’s also important to ask and answer what activities your organization will take on in the future. Don’t make your audience work to find out more about your future course of action.

Your best annual report:

  • Compiles your organization’s plans for the future.
  • Incorporates new programming and services your organization plans to propose.
  • Comprises plans for research and development.
  • Presents information about other opportunities and initiatives for your organization.

Providing a future plan of action gives your supporters an idea of your organization’s direction, which can help with monetary support.

6. Ask for Feedback

Include a feedback or response form. It can be helpful to know how your audience feels about your organization and your annual report. After all, effectively listening to your audience is essential. Feedback or response forms can help your supporters communicate about their opinion or questions they have on your annual report. That way, you can prepare to make an even better annual report in the future.

To keep your audience content, it may even be important to consult with your board members and supporters during the process of creating your annual report. Include them in the design direction. You don’t have to act on everything they say. However, incorporating some of your audience’s wishes will ensure that the final result is met with openness and transparency.

It’s important to keep an eye on your audience and how they respond to your annual report not only for transparency. You also want to get to know them.  Don’t just repeat the same unhelpful information over and over again. For annual reports that are created digitally, find content creation platforms that offer analytics reports. This will allow you to quantitatively measure and enhance your annual report for future use.

If all else fails and you need help finding what your audience wants, ask our team of creatives at PivotPath to help your organization pave the way to your best annual report yet. Contact us for a free consultation today.

What They Don’t Want You to Know: Top Tips From Successful African Business Owners

Africa is practically an economic goldmine, with thousands upon thousands of business owners, both big and small, revolutionizing various industries in the continent.  Countless countries have taken advantage of Africa’s flourishing economy and grew their start-ups into similarly flourishing enterprises. Whether in the East, the West, the North, or the South, running a business can be hard work, and you’re liable to face certain struggles. To mitigate these struggles, we have gathered several top tips from successful African business owners that ensure your business not only survives but thrives.

What They Don’t Want You to Know: Top Tips from Successful African Business Owners

1. Understanding the Market

To first become an entrepreneur, you must understand Africa’s market, consumer trends, and niches. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to dedicate several hours to scrolling endless web pages. No one likes agonizing over whether or not their next revolutionary idea will fit in a neat little box. Instead, look to your local sources, like your neighborhood, for example.

However, if you really are stuck on ideas, it wouldn’t hurt to check out market research in Africa and the surrounding area. SIS International Research has several reports on the subject.

It is no secret that the African continent is home to a plethora of natural resources. With that comes growing consumer markets or, potentially, untapped ones. As such, certain companies taking notice with a discerning eye for competitive advantages and opportunities for growth. Housing the second largest population globally, Africa’s economy largely depends on natural resources for its agriculture and mining sectors to function.

Regardless of whatever business you decide to go into, make sure that the market for it is neither too narrow nor too broad. Try to tap into a market that is stable all year round rather than seasonal. Google Trends could show you how stable these markets are.

Case study: This much is the case with Hephzibah Ijeje, a 19-year-old economics student, humanitarian, business enthusiast, and co-founder of Recyclift. With Africa being the most susceptible to environmental challenges, including deforestation,  land degradation, and extreme vulnerability to climate change, Recyclift hopes to bring about sustainable development to her community.

2. Start Small

One of the most ubiquitous examples of starting small is the foundation of Amazon. Amazon started as a humble bookstore in Bellevue, Washington. Once the profits were stable, the bookstore slowly expanded into a different market: toys. As time went on, Amazon continued to break into different markets, ensure its stability, and continue until it became the powerhouse it is are today.

It is far easier to start a business with a narrow scope than a broad one. However, it isn’t enough to branch out into any other market once you have the scope. Instead, it would be best if you branched into relevant markets. Otherwise, you risk being unable to capture that market.

Aliko Dangote of the Dangote Group in Nigeria stresses this to young and budding entrepreneurs, in fact.”To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big.” He says, “In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.”

3. Developing Your Brand

A successful business owner, African or not, must always focus on their brand. It is often the first thing that potential customers notice, and it pays off to make a good first impression. Furthermore, a good brand will help set you apart from your contemporaries. It will also promote recognition and tells potential customers about the kind of company you helm. A strong brand can even help your company connect with your customers emotionally. This is especially correct if your brand and your customers hold similar values.

Tom Osborn, an African entrepreneur and community mobilizer, co-founded GreenChar, a social enterprise that provided clean energy for rural Kenyan communities and urban slums. In addition, he was named on the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in Social Entrepreneurship, among other awards.

Osborn emphasizes that young entrepreneurs do their best to develop their business and personal brand. In fact, he considers it half the battle.

“I think in Africa there are a lot of young entrepreneurs who have great ideas but never get noticed or past the small-scale level,” He remarks. “I think one reason is that they poorly position themselves and the organisation. They don’t know how to tell their story. They don’t know how to create their brand. And I think that is also very important. Entrepreneurs should spend a lot of time not only on their products, but also on working out how they are going to sell them.”

4. Choosing the Right Business Partner

Something that many successful African business owners have is a business partner. Having a business partner is critical when your business expands. In fact, it is even preferable when your business is just starting. As the old saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.”

Whether through networking, job postings, or personal connections, finding a partner whose skills complement your own can help you and your business in all ways. It can help plan, grow and run your business and help mitigate the stress of running that business. In addition, a partner that shares your values, your spirit and your vision are guaranteed to help you. You will have an easier time communicating with this person, making decisions, setting goals, and overall ensuring the health and survival of your business together.

An example of this would be Thato Kgalhayne and her co-founder, Rea Ngwane. Friends since childhood, the duo have developed a rewarding partnership by ensuring their personal friendship does not get in the way of business.

“When you form a business partnership with your friend, act as though you met that person that day. You can’t say because you’ve known your friend since grade four, you’ll work well together in business.” Kgatlhanye suggests, “No – you have known them since you decided to start a company together. So get to know your business partner as a business partner, not a friend, because business and friendship is a different ball game. And I think that’s the best advice. Get a business coach, be honest, leave the ego at the door and hustle.”

5. Building and Managing Your Team

Building a productive team is often more important than you think. With a good team working with you, you’ll find that a lot of your success will equate with your team’s. After all, it is much more efficient to work with a team in entrepreneurship than to work alone. You will find that your ability to lead and inspire is critical to your future just as much as your business’s. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll also find that once your team shows growth, your business will inevitably follow suit.

Many successful African business owners realize this, choosing members of their team after scrutiny. Some partners are childhood friends while others are hand-picked, but one lesson remains: they made sure that their team was confident and skilled.

Togolese entrepreneur Sam Kodo, founder of Infinite Loop, also acknowledges the importance of a flourishing team. Explaining that he and his team have complementary skills to make decisions, Kodo is a prime example of why building and managing your team is useful for an effective business.

“Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg might not have particularly been good businessmen or good administrators or even good at marketing, but what they did was surround themselves with people who have the competencies and skills to turn their [innovations and computer skills] into a company. When you choose a business partner, choose someone who complements you – not someone with the same skills.”

6. Motivation, Failure, and Perseverance

A business owner must always keep in mind that if you fail, it doesn’t hurt to try again. Entrepreneurship is difficult. In fact, perhaps the easiest thing about entrepreneurial success is how easy it is to get discouraged.

However, there are countless stories of entrepreneurs whose businesses have ended in disaster, and instead of giving up, they go on with their next idea. Whether there weren’t enough interested investors, or a lack of capital or funding, or an inadequate management team, a faulty business model, or unsuccessful marketing campaigns, it is important, if anything else, to treat these failures as the lessons that they are. Take notes on the precarious pitfalls that made you fail, and be sure to work better at them. Use those discouraging situations as learning experiences, and take the opinions of those who doubt you with a grain of salt. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, you must be brave to take that risk.

Chris Kirubi, founder of Centum Investment in Kenya, imparted a meaningful quote that has always rung true in the world of business: “Business is always a struggle. There are always obstacles and competitors. There is never an open road, except the wide road that leads to failure. Every great success has always been achieved by fight, every winner has scars. The men who succeed are the efficient few –they are the few who have the ambition and willpower to develop themselves. So choose to be among the few today.”

Are you interested in starting your own African business, or even just growing it? Contact PivotPath today to schedule a free consultation to improve your marketing strategy!

[Video] Top Three Reasons to Use Video Marketing

Video marketing has many great marketing benefits, but what grabs the attention of your audience? We spend the majority of our time on our phones, the internet, or watching television. Gifs and videos are all around us, on TikTok and Instagram stories, capturing our attention and shortening our attention spans. It is hard to escape the virtual world we live in, so might as well let it help your business.

Here are the Top Three Reasons to Use Video Marketing in 2021:

Growing Revenue with Extra Exposure

Companies put a focus on revenue within their company to determine their goals for the business. If they see a decrease in revenue, then they will make changes in their marketing style. Marketing teams have seen a growth in revenue with video marketing due to the access of videos within our society. People spend their time on social media platforms, with videos popping up on their feeds throughout the day, and often share interesting videos with their circles of influence. Studies show that 48% of people said they’d be most likely to share video content with their friends.

In addition, social media algorithms now recognize and acknowledge videos (like Instagram Reels) much more than standard posts, which can increase your brand’s visibility and reach. Unfortunately but fortunately, the more videos you have, the more likely social media channels are going to direct people to your page(s).

Increased Traffic to Your Website

Tailing off of the first reason, the main reason companies put a focus on marketing is to increase traffic to their website and business. Companies can do this in several ways, such as newsletters, blog posts, social media, and more.

However, According to WordStream, viewers retain 95% of a video message compared to 10% in text. Organizations need to take a look into what type of marketing tactics they want to use to attract their targeted audience(s). The average user spends 88% more time on a website with video. Customers may not read the newsletters or emails, but they could retain most of the information from the video. 

Increasing Traffic

Search Engines for Videos vs. Posts

When companies plan their marketing, they want their company to be the first name that pops up on the search engine rather than their competitor. Studies show that Google owns YouTube–they love ranking their own site in number one slots. Videos tend to be the first links to pop up rather than a blog post due to the rankings. According to Mollica Films, You’re 53 times more likely to show up first on Google if you have a video embedded on your website. The best way to do this is with gifs and video marketing.  You can pair a blog post with a video for a better marketing strategy (like we’ve done).

Search Engine Benfits

Video Marketing is not a new strategy but definitely one that every company needs to try. Need help with your video production but don’t know where to start? Contact us at PivotPath for assistance from start to final product.

Check out some of our video productions over the years:

European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone

CDC Federal Credit Union

 

 

 

How to ensure that your branding efforts are successful

Branding is a strategic art. It communicates who or what your business is and can define its success. To promote a long-lasting presence, it’s important that your branding efforts are helping your brand advance. Keep reading to find out how to ensure that your branding efforts are successful.  

Persuade consumers to choose your brand over others.

Branding requires ethical persuasion. Rhetorical appeals, like pathos, ethos, and logos, are strategies that shape a communicator’s appeal to an audience. Your brand is the communicator to its specific audience. To maintain a presence in a competitive market place, it’s important to exercise rhetorical appeals.

Are your branding efforts meaningful?

Pathos is a rhetorical communication technique that involves appealing to the emotions of an audience. When pathos isn’t achieved, your brand lacks meaning. Essentially, the goal is to create meaning by appealing to your audience’s hopes and ideas and addressing their fears and worries. 

Maintaining two-way communication is a sure way to gauge your audience’s emotions. What do they want? Like? Need? Encourage your audience to engage with your brand to get a good understanding of their emotions. Your job is to understand your audience to create the right emotional environment for communication. Frontiers in Psychology shows that audiences are more likely to commit to a brand when it sparks an emotional response. You must create a correlation between your brand and trust, value, and meaning to broaden the impact of emotions.

Are your branding efforts credible?

Ethos is a rhetorical communication technique that involves appealing to the credibility of an audience. You’ve probably heard it before, but it bears repeating: Mutually beneficial relationships are built on trust. A lack of credibility compromises the trust of your audience and therefore the success of your brand.

The best way to guarantee that your brand is credible is to be consistent in your branding efforts and seek feedback from your audience. Reviews on Yelp and Google are a good place to start, but consider other ways to secure feedback. For example, email questionnaires and social media polls are a great way to gather feedback from your audience. You’ll be sure to hit two birds with one stone by showing your audience that you’re interested in its feedback. Moreover, listening to your audience’s feedback will not only strengthen your brand’s credibility but also appeal to the emotions of your audience. 

Are your branding efforts meeting expectations?

Logos is a rhetorical communication technique that involves appealing to the logic of an audience. More importantly, logos works to strengthen ethos, as it provides logical evidence for credibility.

Your brand’s credibility largely shapes its reputation, trustworthiness, and the confidence of its audience. Clear and concise messaging is a great way to instill trust, but put your money where your mouth is and give your audience a logical reason to trust your brand. Ask yourself: Is your brand delivering the products and/or services that its messages communicate? Your job is to instill confidence in your audience. 

We can help you apply these strategies.

In conclusion, rhetorical appeals have played an important role in persuasion efforts since Ancient Greece. Your branding efforts will inevitably provoke some sort of response. Ask yourself the questions above to ensure that those responses are positive. 

Don’t fret if you find yourself at a crossroads on how to apply these strategies. PivotPath specializes in strategic brand planning. Contact us today for a free consultation to ensure that your branding efforts are successful. 

5 Signs Your Agency Needs a New Logo ASAP

A logo largely defines how consumers will perceive a brand. In other words, it can make or break a brand’s success. Here are five signs that your agency needs a new logo ASAP.

It doesn’t reflect who you are.

Branding is the representation of your agency as a personality. An effective logo design must communicate who you are.   

  • What is your mission?
  • What are your values?
  • Who do you serve?
  • What makes you different?

Imagine your brand as a person. What does that person look like? What does that person sound like? Develop your design with consideration for how you want your brand to be perceived. 

It doesn’t consider all aspects of visual communication.

A brand’s logo is easily the largest component of its visual communication. 

Visual communication involves using visual elements to tell a story. For instance, the color, shape, form, place, proximity, and typography of your design should readably illustrate your agency’s identity. Is the shape distracting? Is the font readable? Ask yourself these questions. Ineffective visual communication can cause potential consumers to deter.

Its colors don’t communicate.

Color influences perception. Color theory recognizes that each color communicates a different meaning. Once you understand who your brand is and what it looks like, your logo should include colors that reflect that identity. 

Warm colors like red and yellow evoke action and urgency, whereas cool colors like blue and green communicate peace and calm. When using more than one color in a design, it’s important to understand that some colors work together, while others do not. 

It’s not consistent. 

Your logo must be consistent across all channels. 

All of your branding materials must have your logo on them, from your website, to your social media, and even your letterhead. A brand compromises its credibility and the trust of its audience when it fails to consistently display its visual identity.  

It doesn’t motivate.

An effective logo will add value to a brand and influence its audience to engage with the brand. 

Your design should communicate the emotion and personality of your brand in efforts to persuade. Your brand’s image can motivate your audience to act. Audiences are more motivated to act when they identify with a brand. Motivating action will bring more business, and more business will bring consumer loyalty, which is crucial for a long-lasting presence.

Restructuring your logo doesn’t have to be difficult.

Branding involves creating an image that markets. A logo motivates consumers to recognize and engage with a brand. 

If you’ve read this far, the odds are that your agency needs a new design. It may sound overwhelming, but restructuring your logo doesn’t have to be difficult. Contact PivotPath for a free consultation today, our team of innovative creatives can help your agency develop a logo that is sure to entice your audience and promote growth.

What Makes a Brand Future-Proof?

Advancements in technology, coupled with shifts in consumer trends, can threaten a brand’s sustainability. The future is inevitable. However, there are ways to embrace the changes that accompany it. Keep reading to find out how to make a brand future-proof. 

Be relevant.

An audience analysis is an examination of a brand’s consumers. A thorough analysis will consider the age, race, gender, class status, and location of a brand’s audience. By gathering this information, your brand can assess the likes and dislikes of its audience. This will help it deliver products and/or services that are relevant to its consumers

A brand should frequently conduct an audience analysis to align with changes in consumer trends. This can help a brand withstand the test of time. 

Be unique. 

Make your brand future-proof by defining what sets it apart from other brands.

Your brand may offer the same products and/or services as other brands. It is essential to create and identify the je ne sais quoi that distinguishes your brand from others. Your brand’s unique quality should consider of its audiences. A unique identity can spark consumer interest, increase consumer commitment, and drive employee motivation.

Be consistent. 

A brand is more than just a name and logo. A brand is an identity. Your brand’s identity must be consistent to leave a long-lasting impression. 

What does your brand look like? Visual identity refers to the visual elements that define a brand. For instance, the color, shape, form, and font make up your brand’s visual identity. 

What is your brand’s voice? Consider how you want your brand to be perceived. Then, make that voice heard across all channels (social media content, website, interactions with customers, etc.)

Every service, caption, visual, and email should communicate your brand’s identity. Consistency helps build consumer commitment to a brand. Once consumers commit to a brand, it must meet consumer expectations to maintain long-lasting relationships. 

Tomorrow is not guaranteed. 

Unfortunatley, success doesn’t make your brand invincible. A brand that is successful today can easily weaken overnight.

Your brand’s presence and performance promote its longevity. However, it can be difficult for a brand to maintain a relevant, unique, and consistent presence without assistance. This is where we come in. Schedule a consultation with PivotPath today. Our team of innovative creators can help you ensure that your brand withstands the test of time.

A Guide to Spring Marketing

When developing a spring marketing plan, you may notice that there is not a lot going on during this time of the year. With the passing of several major winter holidays and events, it may seem difficult to create clever and relevant marketing strategies for the spring. But, do not fear, this is where we come in! PivotPath is here to provide you with a detailed guide to marketing during the spring. Continue reading to uncover helpful tips and strategies when marketing this season.

Pick a relevant spring theme for your marketing campaign:

Springtime is associated with many things: growth, renewal, blooming flowers, spring cleaning, longer days, and rain. So, capitalize off of these associations, and make your marketing campaign spring-themed. Using a spring theme can help give direction to your content, and create a more cohesive and appealing campaign. For example, a non-profit food bank that is focusing on the theme of “spring cleaning” could have content that looks like this:

“Jump into spring cleaning by cleaning out your pantry! And when your pantry is organized and cleaned out, give back to your community by donating the food to us!”

Using spring colors, fonts, and photos will also help to create a cohesive marketing campaign. Bright, pastel colors like pinks, yellows, greens, and teals, are very popular in the spring! Use these colors along with floral graphics to create eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing content.

Incorporate contests/giveaways in your campaign:

Many businesses see spring as a lull in their marketing plan, but one way to rejuvenate a marketing plan is to incorporate contests and giveaways. Contests and giveaways, which are typically run on social media, can be a great way to engage and grow your audience.

A contest or giveaway usually incorporates rules, qualifications, and a prize/reward. Rules outline exactly what the viewer must do to enter. Including rules such as “tag a friend,” “comment and tag a friend,” or “share this post” help expand your brand’s reach and audience. Other rules like “follow our page” and “like this post” will boost your brand’s following and engagement. Most importantly, choose rules and qualifications that are the best for your business and the goals you hope to achieve.

When choosing a prize or reward, it is important to choose one that is desirable and relevant. Your prize should always reflect the effort required to win it. For example, if you ask viewers to fill out a long survey, enter personal information, and follow your social media accounts, you must choose a high-value prize to incentivize people to put in the effort. The prize or reward should also be relevant to your business. This will encourage continued interaction with your business and your products/services.

Research unique national or international holidays:

Spring can seem spiritless when compared to the busy winter holiday season. Use this opportunity to give your audience a reason to celebrate! Amidst the better known holidays in spring:

St. Patrick’s Day: March 17th
April Fools Day: April 1st
Easter: April 4th
Earth Day: April 22nd
Cinco de Mayo: May 5th
Mother’s Day: May 9th
Memorial Day: May 31st

…there are many unique holidays that your business can also mention when marketing! Conduct research on national or international holidays for each month, and choose which holidays are most applicable to your business. For example, here are some unique holidays in March:

Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day: March 1st
I Want You to be Happy Day: March 3rd
Employee Appreciation Day: March 5th
National Frozen Food Day: March 6th
International (Working) Women’s Day: March 8th
International Day of Awesomeness: March 10th
Plant a Flower Day: March 12th
National Pi Day: March 14th
Everything You Do is Right Day: March 16th
Awkward Moments Day: March 18th
International Day of Happiness: March 20th
National Goof Off Day: March 22nd
National Puppy Day: March 23rd
Make Up Your Own Holiday Day: March 26th
Something on a Stick Day: March 28th
National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day: March 29th

Your business can incorporate these holidays when crafting content, planning promotions, and creating contests. Implementing unique holidays into your marketing strategy will help you stand out, create excitement and celebration, and engage your audience.

Focus on your community and give back:

Because springtime is seen as a time for growth and renewal, many people associate the season with community events and giving back. When looking for marking opportunities, search on community groups and pages to get your business involved, visible, and to give back to your community.

Getting involved in community events can offer your brand an opportunity to interact directly with potential customers and heighten your brand awareness. Set up tables full of relevant swag, like branded fans on a hot day, to encourage people to get to know you, your business, and your products/services.

Another marketing strategy to increase visibility in your community is to give back. Consider devoting a day for your business to volunteer at a local charity. This will benefit your community and benefit your business by making your brand more recognizable and positively received.

When preparing for your spring marking plan, do not hesitate to reach out for help. PivotPath offers a wide range of services to help your business spring into the season. Contact us for a consultation today!

Using Instagram/Facebook/LinkedIn as Marketing Tools

A brand’s social media presence influences 73% of those that engage with the brand. When used efficiently, social media platforms are proven to be effective marketing tools. However, many brands misinterpret their functions, which often results in ineffective marketing.

You don’t always need an account on every social media platform. In fact, this can produce adverse effects. When using Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn for marketing purposes, it’s important to understand that each platform delivers information in a unique way. Here are some insights on how to effectively optimize these social media platforms as marketing tools for your brand.

Instagram is an image-driven platform.

Instagram’s character limit is relatively large, but that doesn’t mean that your text should be. To maximize Instagram as a marketing tool, limit your brand’s bio and captions to two sentences. Including a call of action in your text will prompt your audience to participate in authentic engagement. Hashtags are also a great way to encourage audience participation while simultaneously increasing your brand’s visibility.  

Visual elements are meant to replace text. Use Instagram’s function as an image-driven platform to complement the message you aim to communicate with your post. Images and text should be clear, compelling, and consistent with your brand’s image.   

Instagram also has a story feature that allows your brand to post content that is visible to viewers for 24 hours. Stories offer the ability to directly engage with your audience through question forums, polls, and more. Instagram stories are a great way to enable audience participation and further your brand’s engagement. 

Instagram Reels is Instagram’s newest feature and closely resembles the social media platform TikTok. Its algorithm is currently driving more traffic than any other Instagram feature. Instagram Reels is helpful for those looking to increase brand visibility.

Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world.

Facebook has more users than any other social media platform. This poses both an opportunity and a threat: Your brand’s range of communication is highest on Facebook, but this places a great deal of power in your audience’s hands. 

Due to the platform’s considerable audience, it’s difficult to get traffic and engagement without paid Facebook advertising. With paid social, you will expand your reach and impressions while targeting specific audiences to ensure you attract those you seek to engage with the most. Bear in mind that the process to create Facebook Ads changes periodically, so be sure to review the guidelines within the Facebook Ads Manager

Facebook allows its users to post text, images, and videos. When utilizing such a wide range of features, it’s crucial to understand that the text of a Facebook post shapes the success of its visual elements. Keep your text brief and informational. Consider the who, what, when, where, and why of your message. An unclear text will confuse your audience and may cause them to deter.

Facebook was the first social media platform to introduce the “like” function. The platform has since developed by offering additional reactions to posts. This tool is especially useful when assessing your audience’s likes, dislikes, beliefs, and values. Use this information to your advantage when crafting future posts. The share feature allows users to share posts with their Facebook friends, which offers a promising avenue for increasing your brand’s visibility.

LinkedIn is the professional network.

LinkedIn operates as a professional social network. It allows users to disseminate and engage with information that advances their professional prospects. LinkedIn remains an invaluable platform for increasing brand awareness and establishing relationships with businesses and consumers alike. 

LinkedIn’s professional nature requires careful attention to credibility and expertise. Therefore, your brand’s content must evoke professionalism. This is best achieved through using both visual and textual elements together. Your text should be concise yet informative and grammatical to complement clean and compelling visuals.

The use of blog posts and articles on LinkedIn allows for even greater use of the platform in that users can highlight their expertise while increasing their reach. Make sure your content illustrates your brand’s capabilities to expand your audience, strengthen your brand’s identity, and encourage consumer and business partnerships.

Maximize your brand’s potential.

Social media has changed the way we operate both personally and professionally by providing individuals and institutions with the ability to communicate to large audiences.

When using social media platforms as marketing tools, it’s crucial to acknowledge that your content is a representation of your brand. Through understanding the functions of each platform, you can help your brand nurture audience relationships, maximize its reach, and achieve its goals. Contact PivotPath’s team of innovative creatives to help your brand maximize its potential.

Not Every Social Media Platform is Needed to Promote Your Brand

Social media is a large part of everyday life, even more so now that COVID-19 has taken away the ability to connect in person. People are beginning to rely on social media platforms to make meaningful and impactful connections.

This can be intimidating for businesses. Promoting a brand on social media is difficult enough, but relying on social media platforms for all communication with your audience is a new challenge. Many businesses are scrambling with their social media strategies, creating accounts on any and every social media platform possible. Though this may seem like a reasonable option, branding on every social media platform can be ineffective, disingenuous, and a waste of time. 

Here, we outline why you do not need every social media platform to promote your brand and ways you can effectively use social media to make meaningful connections for your business. 

Your audience is not on every platform:

Not many people have an account on every social media platform, so why should your business? Your target audience is a specific group of people. They have unique characteristics and traits, and each social media platform attracts distinct groups of people.

Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all popular platforms, but each is used for a different purpose. Most of Instagram’s users are female and between the ages of 13 and 28. In contrast, the majority of Facebook users are above 30 years old. LinkedIn users range in age, but use the platform for work and business related purposes. 

The data collected on each social media platform will help your business understand where to connect with your audience. Whether your business wants to build connections with other businesses, community members, fitness junkies, gamers, etc., it is important to find which platform(s) they are primarily on. This way, you can meet your audience on the platform they use to further enhance your brand awareness and engagement. 

You do not have the time to devote to every platform:

Creating content and a social media plan takes time and organization. Your business is working hard to cover all your bases. But, when you try to cover every social media platform, your work can become sloppy and ineffective.

Without meaningful content, your audience could perceive your communication as disingenuous and calculated. This is not how you want audiences to perceive your brand. If you are going to be spending the time creating content, campaigns, and promotions, don’t you want them to be meaningful and impactful?

Always prioritize quality over quantity on social media. To do this, you need to allocate your time to the most important platforms for your audience. This way, you can spend your time creating purposeful and engaging content that will create a brand image that is heartfelt, personable, and authentic.

How to make a meaningful social media strategy without every platform:

  1. Evaluate and research your target audience– Ask yourself, who are you trying to reach? Where is your audience spending their time while online? What kind of content does your audience seem to enjoy? Does your audience even have social media? Thoroughly research your audience and their behavior. This will help you to alter your social media strategy to include the most effective kinds of content to post on the most applicable platforms.
  2. Focus your time on key platforms– After choosing which platforms are most effective for your business, focus your time on building quality profiles and accounts. Because you have less platforms to work on, you can spend more time constructing unique and substantial content. If your business is large enough, consider creating multiple specialized accounts on the same platform. This will allow you to hyper-focus on each group within your audience to create personalized content that is more relatable and powerful.
  3. Concentrate on building connections– Your business should be creating connections and relationships, not just partnerships or associations. A focused social media plan will offer the ability to create a marketing strategy that is sincere, personable, and authentic. Whether that be by conveying similar interests, interacting with customers, or using relatable humor, audiences are more likely to interact with a brand they feel personally connected to.
  4. Do not hesitate to reach out for help– Above all, do not hesitate to ask for help! Promoting your brand can be a difficult, meticulous process. Use resources that are available to you, like PivotPath, and contact us for a consultation. Our marketing focuses on building connections and relationships. We will be sure to help your business create a brand strategy that is meaningful and impactful!

5 Ways to Promote Your City or Town to Increase Tourism

At a time when travel restrictions are implemented, cities and towns are frantically searching for ways to increase tourism.

The internet is filled with travel guides and firsthand accounts of visitors detailing their experiences. It’s more difficult to come across tips from a local—someone who knows the ins and outs of the area. Unfortunately, we don’t all have the luxury of knowing someone within our destination’s limits. Consider these five tips when communicating your community’s charm to increase tourism:

Highlight the history and culture 

Every destination has its own unique story.

Aside from the well-known attractions, consider sharing some of your community’s lesser-known treasures. This may involve obscure facts about your town’s early settlers or the spooky tale about the mansion on Main Street. A picture of these treasures with a description of their significance is an opportunity for you to highlight your community’s unique history to increase tourism.

Share your tasty tips

There’s no feeling better than a full stomach after a day of exploring.

Food largely defines a community’s culture. When promoting your city or town, be sure to discuss local dishes and the best places to try them. Consider explaining the flavor profile of the dish and the best way to eat it. With ketchup? With a root beer? At midnight? Who knows, maybe visitors will find their new favorite food or restaurant and come back for more!

Offer visitors a breath of fresh air

We all crave a breath of fresh air.

Provide visitors with the best spots to catch their breath and revel in the wonder of your community’s natural beauty. Be sure to detail the best seasons and times of day for visitors to capture the full essence of the landscape. Also, include any materials that they should consider bringing or leaving behind for their visit.

Catch your breath in nature

Suggest local stores and businesses

The word souvenir is French for “to remember.”

Tokens of remembrance can be as simple as a keychain or as complex as a scarf woven by natives. Present visitors with an opportunity to remember their visit to your community with recommendations for local stores and businesses. This is also an opportunity for you to help local businesses during these difficult times.

Local stores and businesses

Include your personal testimony

They say that home is where the heart is.

Share the little things that you love about your city or town. This may include how you love the transition between one season to another, or your favorite road to drive down in the summer. Personal testimonies appeal to an audience’s emotions. Provide insight into the small and special things that define your love for your community.

Tip: Include hashtags (i.e., #NewOrleans, #ExploringTheCity, #GetInMyBelly) and/or create a page for your city or town. This will help potential visitors easily locate your stories and recommendations.

When implementing the tips listed above, be sure to consider all audiences (independent travelers, couples, families, and seniors). By showcasing your community’s local treasures and adding a personal touch, you can offer visitors valuable information on what to experience when visiting your community.

Enlist PivotPath’s team of innovative creators to help you fulfill these tips and increase your city or town’s tourism. Contact us today for a consultation.