PivotPath

Keys to Developing an Effective Communications and Visibility Plan for Your Intergovernmental Organization

Communications can either make or break your market, and when you’re working in an intergovernmental organization like the European Union or United Nations, every bit of strategy helps. Marketing communications is worth its weight in gold as it captures the attention of beneficiaries, community-based organizations, and strategic partners alike and informs them of your programming and the excellent work your organization does. Even better, though, robust communication strategies are a surefire way to ensure maximum visibility. This article will go over crucial tactics you need to include within your communications and visibility plan, how strategy can impact your organization, and how to implement it most effectively.

Keys to Developing an Effective Communications and Visibility Plan for Your Intergovernmental Organization

What a Communications Strategy Is and What It Is Not.

Fundamentally, a marketing communications strategy is an effort to reach your target audiences through communication. Your organization could communicate these strategies through a host of methods such as television, radio, social media, games, events, graphics, publications, emails, public speaking, or any other medium that can communicate the message effectively. However, “communications strategy” is a mouthful, which is why many often use a shorthand: Public Relations, or PR, interchangeably.

Now, let us be the first to tell you: public relations and a communications strategy are NOT the same things. Sure, they may be closely related—both serve as forms of communication between an organization and its beneficiaries, investors, and the general public. However, the critical difference is that public relations often imply the relationship between an organization and the larger public. Communication strategies instead focus on promoting an organization’s products or services to its beneficiaries.

When it comes down to it, there are three essential aspects to the strategy: the message, the target, and the medium.

The message is what you want to say.

The target is who you are speaking to.

The medium is what channels you are using, in other words, where your message is to be said.

Each aspect is equally important. A successful communications strategy almost always frames these three elements in a complementary manner. This builds trust in your organization, reaches the right audiences, and achieves a positive ROI.

Key #1: Set Concrete, Clear Goals and Objectives

There’s nothing worse than jumping the gun, and we’re all guilty of doing it in one way or another in communications. As tempting as it may seem, trying to take the bull by the horns without planning is a common yet troubling pitfall. It can often lead to mismanagement down the road, or worse, overwhelm your staff, often leading to the strategy never getting off the ground. With concrete, clear goals and objectives, you mitigate that risk, managing it in smaller, clear milestones.

 

We recommend referring to the SMART system, illustrated by the Coaching Tools Company, to set your communication strategy goals into a viable roadmap.

Key #2: Pinpoint and Prioritize Your Target Audiences

Speaking of jumping the gun, it’s equally as important to identify who your target audience is before you begin. Further, if you want to gain the attention of a different audience, be sure to segment the audience based on common needs or interests, then craft your message specific to that audience.

Perhaps the easiest way to segment your target audience would be to conduct surveys or interviews. Be sure to ask questions about their values, needs, wants, and so on. Be sure to ask yourself the following questions to have an easier time developing your audience:

  • What groups or individuals do you want/need to engage to help you reach your goals?
  • Who would benefit the most from your organization?
  • What actions do you want the audience to take?
  • Who do you generally engage in your programs, projects, and initiatives?
  • What are the challenges that hold back your supporters from contributing, if any?
  • What do your supporters have in common?
  • How do individuals find your organization? What is the easiest method? (e.g., social media, events, word of mouth, etc.)

These surveys are often more important than people realize. They are crucial for creating highly targeted marketing messages that your audience can relate to. Once you have gathered enough data on your target audience and know what they want, you’ll be able to move on to the next step.

Key #3: Craft an Important, Compelling Message

Regardless of who it is, target audiences will have different motivators and barriers that are quite different from one target to the next. Therefore, the last thing you want to do is have a too general message because otherwise, it will fall short. Always try to keep your message clear, concise, personalized, and uncomplicated—because it won’t do any good if your message is buried in jargon.

Often, compelling messages can be quite challenging to form, even if you know the behaviors that drive your target audience. Here are four key elements that must be tailored to each audience:

  • The Key Message – The core takeaway, or message, that you want your audience to know.
  • The Secondary Message(s) – A secondary message is supporting information that helps bolster your key or original point.
  • Proof Points – A proof point is precisely what it sounds like: factual evidence that affirms your earlier messages.
  • Call to Action – Perhaps the most important aspect, a call to action instructs your audience to contact your business.

Key #4: A Little Integrated Strategy Never Hurt Anybody

This is where the communications plan comes in. While an integrated strategy sounds intimidating, that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. Strategies bring a blend of communication goals, tactics, and methods that you employ to devise the best possible plan that works for your organization. PivotPath can help you with this, as we did for the European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone.

Many frameworks could help brainstorm what approach you want to take in communication, but the most widely-known framework is the PESO model, originally illustrated below by Spin Sucks.

The PESO Model places the highest importance on the following information:

  • P: Paid Media — Promotional efforts such as social media ads, sponsored posts, and native advertising, all of which involve paying for placements on third-party channels. These include native advertising, event sponsorships, paid search such as Google AdWords, etc.
  • E: Earned Media — Buzz generated by the public (e.g., the press, your audience, your communications team, etc.) through traditional public relations, word of mouth, television, influencer marketing/relations, etc.
  • S: Shared Media — Content on social media channels designed to prioritize driven engagement between an organization and its audience. This includes social media content (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) and user-generated content like reviews, videos, comments, etc.
  • O: Owned Media — Your organizations’ media—websites, blogs, events, etc.

When developing your tactics, be wary of the 80/20 rule. It states that you should only allot 20 percent of social media content for direct tasks (i.e., donations, event registration, etc.) and allocate the remaining 80 percent for building community through engaging content.

Key #5: Build Up Your Budget

Setting up a budget plan means that your organization must account for financials at all project steps. Being effective and cost-effective is the name of the game. Getting cost-effective press for your business through influencers, journalists, and bloggers with stories of your organization, brand, and products. Be sure to contact people linking similar content or even utilize tools such as Crunchbase or JustReachOut. Building a budget is also a fundamental resource for assessing your plan’s return on investment.

To get building, it helps to consider the following:

  • Does your organization have an existing budget allocated for communications activities?
  • How much will each line item in the tactical portion of your plan cost?
  • If applicable, what are the projected vs. actual costs for previous campaign implementations?

Your budget should serve as a guardrail to help keep your plan on time and track. To avoid frivolous spending, be sure only to allot spending within your budget unless you’re confident that you absolutely need it.

Key #6: Map Out an Actionable Timeline

The final key in any strategy is to map out your activities in a timeline. Believe it or not, timelines are essential in ensuring that you stay on track when transitioning from the planning phase to the implementation phase. Monthly or quarterly timelines apply to these types of marketing strategies, but be sure to keep in mind any significant events and holidays that you want to leverage, as it could be a worthwhile endeavor.

An innovative, well-rounded communications plan can reward your time, patience, and effort and ensure that you launch a successful campaign, program, or service. However, be sure to tailor the steps to achieve the best goals you’re aiming for. Again: this is NOT a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Be sure to take notes if an aspect of the plan does not work out.

Key #7: Monitoring Your Success – Evaluation

Even when your organization has pulled the plan off, it’s just as important to monitor the plan’s effectiveness. Was there a shift in audience or supporters? Were people responding to your community insights? Regardless, marketing is the engine that drives attention and engagement to your brand and values. Marketing measurement tools like Google Analytics, marketing analytics software, and surveys will help you see what works versus what doesn’t in terms of engagement through your marketing efforts.

Are you interested in developing an effective communications plan for your business? Contact PivotPath today to schedule a free consultation to improve your marketing strategy!

gdpr guidelines

Five Big Questions Related to GDPR | What You Need To Know

First things first. We’re not lawyers, and what follows does not constitute legal advice. We have a vested interest in the success of our partnership and want to provide information to collectively aid us through this process. If you want true legal advice, we advise you seek out private counsel. Let’s get you prepared for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect May 25, 2018. Download guide here

Here are five big questions related to GDPR:

  1. What is GDPR?
  2. Does it affect our company or organization?
  3. How does this change the way we collect and store data?
  4. Does this change the way we communicate and market?
  5. How do we get started?

WHAT IS GDPR? The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

(Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). The European Union currently has data protection regulation that determines how personal information can be used by companies, the government, and other organizations. GDPR changes the definition of personal information and how data is obtained and used. Within GDPR, there are 99 articles setting out the rights of individuals to have easier access to the information data companies collect about them, determinations of fines related to non-compliance, and responsibilities for obtaining consent and usage of personal information. This law provides greater transparency, enhanced rights for EU citizens, and increased accountability.

gdpr guidelines

DOES IT AFFECT OUR COMPANY OR ORGANIZATION?

GDPR regulations apply to any company that processes EU consumer data, no matter where the company resides or where the servers that collect the data are located. These provisions promote accountability and governance. These measures were designed to minimize the risk of breaches and uphold the protection of personal data. Compliance for GDPR does not lay at just the feet of marketers, but in all processes of data storage, collection, and usage, and thus should become a boardroom topic if it has not already. Additionally, companies that have “regular and systematic monitoring” of individuals at a large scale or process a lot of sensitive personal data may have to designate a data protection officer (DPO).

 

HOW DOES THIS CHANGE THE WAY WE COLLECT AND STORE DATA?

LAWFULNESS Not every one that handles the personal data of individuals is the same, and GDPR regulation falls within two main categories: controller and processor. A controller is an entity that decides the purpose and manner in which personal data can be used. This is your role. A processor is a person (or team) that processes data on behalf of the controller; and includes obtaining, recording, adapting, or holding personal data. GDPR requirements are different for each. In addition, the controller is responsible for and must be able to demonstrate, compliance with GDPR principles.

Bottom line: for data processing to be lawful under GDPR, companies need to identify a lawful basis for processing personal data, and be able to document this.

gdpr guidelines

HOW DOES THIS CHANGE THE WAY WE COMMUNICATE AND MARKET?

As long as you don’t get bogged down by the hype (remember Y2K), most marketers will understand that GDPR is actually a blessing. It forces us to be responsible and better marketers—and to provide our subscribers with exactly what they want. And that’s the way we all should be marketing. Think of this as a new (albeit required) goal to only communicate with those who want to hear from us, be ever-present in true permission-based marketing, and to have all data in order which can only build trust and loyalty with subscribers.

HOW DO WE GET STARTED?

Having a full understanding of GDPR is important, as it may impact a number of facets of your business practices. The place to start is in education, and while there is a myriad of articles and resources on the net, we find the information from the Information Commissioner’s Office— the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest—to be the most credible.

Interested in learning more about how to ensure your communications are GDPR compliant? We are here to help.

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

 

 

 

3 Strategies for Community Recovery in the New Normal

As the Covid-19 pandemic shook the world and forced businesses and cities into lockdown, local economies took a major hit. Tourism, dining, shopping, and community events came to a rapid halt. Finally, communities are just now beginning to shift into the “new normal”. In an evolving market with countless municipalities opening their communities for residents and visitors alike, what truly makes a community stand out? Community recovery post-pandemic can be tricky. Here are three key strategies to aid in the recovery of both municipalities and consumer communities post-pandemic.

Emphasizing Covid-Safety

While businesses are opening their doors and people are slowly beginning to travel again, continued caution is still recommended. If your town was previously a great spot for tourists, you may reclaim that reputation safely by emphasizing the community’s dedication to public safety. This can be done by continuing to offer outdoor dining options, outdoor or well-ventilated social events, and encouraging folks to practice social distancing and mask-wearing behaviors when appropriate. This will put unvaccinated or high-risk people at ease, increasing the chances they will choose to visit your town over others.

 

Promoting Family-Friendly Activities

After a year and a half of lockdowns, families are eager to get out and make new memories together. Coordinating outdoor events and activities will encourage families to explore your town. You may bring the community park back to life with an outdoor concert series. Perhaps showcase the local lake by offering paddleboard rentals. By offering safe but exciting family-fun activities, the likelihood of adventure-seeking families visiting your town will increase.

Showcasing Dining & Shopping Hot Spots

If dining or shopping is your town’s biggest offering, that’s a great way to get consumer attention. In this “new normal”, people are ready for a change of scenery, so a hip new restaurant or trendy downtown shopping area will be happily received. You may offer dining deals through social media or plan an outdoor downtown event promoted by flyers posted around town. Your communities will thank you!

 

 

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. 

Social Enterprises: What Does Recovery Look Like in 2021?

Over the past year, many businesses have experienced extensive struggles. COVID-19 has hit businesses in ways we have never seen before. While businesses have experienced many hardships, social enterprises have experienced unique challenges. These challenges not only include the success of their business, but the beneficiaries that rely on them. 

With so much at stake, social enterprises have been using changes and trends from 2020 to aid in their recovery. Here, we outline some of the changes and trends that helped these organizations recover from the devastating impacts of COVID-19.

Presenting solutions to COVID-19 struggles:

Though social enterprises have faced their own challenges as a result of the pandemic, many have begun to see the benefit of taking on other challenges. This may seem counterproductive, but it has been a beneficial way for social enterprises to get back on their feet. 

Social enterprises are built to center around the problem, not the solution or product: the primary focus is their social objective. Because of this, social enterprises have been flexible during the past year with new issues that have been presented. Many organizations have taken a problem that was caused by COVID-19, and created a solution designed to help others. For example, a social enterprise that is centered around fighting poverty could alter their solution to be specific to COVID-19. Focusing on the pandemic’s affects on food insecurity and poverty would be a great way to make the solution more applicable.

By taking on issues that were created due to COVID-19, social enterprises are adjusting their businesses to be more applicable to the current situation, hence making them more marketable and successful in their journey to recovery. 

Supporting local or meaningful organizations:

When COVID-19 forced many areas into lockdown, people began to realize how impactful their engagement with businesses could be. Customers wanted to see organizations survive the pandemic, especially ones they felt connected to, like local businesses and meaningful organizations. 

This shift in consumer focus has been a major benefit for social enterprises and their recovery. Social enterprises have been highlighting their organizations’ causes to a greater extent to use this trend to their advantage. Tactics such as creating content focused on the mission instead of the product, organizing informational events about a chosen social issue, and participating in public discussions about their social issue have helped social enterprises lean into this shift in consumer focus for their benefit. 

Engaging in relevant social issues:

In addition to COVID-19, 2020 welcomed increased discussion and allyship for social issues across the nation. The reignition of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, voter suppression and voting rights in the midst of the election, and the continuous topic of immigration in the U.S. were just a few of the social issues/movements that were present in 2020. 

Social enterprises have committed to the issues that are most relevant to their cause. This has allowed them to show support for the causes that mean the most to their organization. While at the same time, gaining the support of other individuals and organizations that are also participating in those movements. By participating in relevant social issues, social enterprises have effectively engaged with meaningful causes and built more substantial consumer relationships. 

Recovery can be a difficult process…

Though there are steps being made toward recovery for social enterprises, it can still be a very challenging process. At PivotPath, we understand that your business is more than just worrying about the bottom line or cashflow, it is about concern for the cause and the social issues that shape your work. Let us help you in your organization’s recovery process. Our top-notch marketing services will help you put more time into what really matters: your cause and the people that your organization is able to impact.

Top Tips to Creating Customer Loyalty

Happy April and International Customer Loyalty Month!

International Customer Loyalty Month is an extremely important month for organizations and businesses to make an extra effort when creating a loyal customer base. Customer loyalty is essential to any business, as it can increase revenue, drive repeat business, and defend against competitors. 

Continue reading for the top tips to creating and retaining customer loyalty.

Build better communication:

This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but communication is broad. Consider what elements of communication will help you reach your customers and maintain their loyalty.

First, your organization needs to be present for its audience. Communication efforts must be frequent and relevant to ensure that your organization, message, and products are not forgotten. You will achieve a loyal customer base when you consistently deliver valuable and enjoyable experiences to your audience. Demonstrate consistency in your communication through monthly newsletters, social media, events, promotions, and more. Consistent, positive, and valuable communication tactics will improve your customer relationships and increase loyalty. 

Consistent communication is great, but without listening to your customers, your communication lacks value and meaning. Meaningful relationships that result in customer loyalty are built on effective listening. The best way to determine what your customers want is to listen. So, take the time to look at feedback, read reviews, and understand your customers’ points of view. According to Microsoft, 77% of consumers say they favor brands that ask for and accept customer feedback. Customers will show loyalty to you and your organization if you show loyalty to them and their points of view. 

Create a customer loyalty program:

Creating a customer loyalty program is one of the best and most effective ways to increase a loyal customer base. Because loyalty programs are built around rewards and benefits, they prove to be effective when increasing loyalty and interest. According to smallbizgenius, 75% of consumers say they favor companies that offer rewards. People want to feel celebrated and seen. Customer loyalty programs help your organization highlight and reward customers that have been committed to your brand, and offer incentives to continue their commitment.

Customer loyalty programs can feature:

  • Games
  • Tier Systems
  • Points Systems
  • VIP Benefits
  • Hybrid Programs
  • And many more!

Though they differ in structure, all of these programs include benefits or rewards to incentivize loyalty to your organization. Consider researching the above customer loyalty programs to find out which one is most fitting for your organization. 

Be authentic and transparent:

Your organization must be authentic and transparent to build strong relationships and gain loyal customers. People do not want to connect with brands that are impersonal or machine-like; they want a relationship with a brand that resembles a real person. Your authenticity shines when you share your values and mission to create a meaningful brand. According to the Corporate Executive Board, 64% of customers say that brand values are the #1 reason why they create a relationship with a brand. Being authentic and explicitly sharing and showcasing your brands values and beliefs will help your organization make loyal customers.

In addition to being authentic, your brand needs to be transparent and honest. Honesty is the best policy, even in business, so be upfront with your customers when things do not go as planned or a mistake is made. Customers will be loyal to your organization when they know that you are not hiding anything from them or deceiving them in any way. No one likes to be wrong or make mistakes. However, the truth is appreciated, and remaining honest with your customers will show them that you value their relationship, thus promoting loyalty.

Make life easy for your customers:

People tend to engage more when it requires little effort, so do not make your customers work hard to engage with your brand! Engaging with your organization should be effortless and enjoyable. A good experience will grow customer loyalty exponentially: according to PWC, 73% of consumers say a good experience is the main factor that influences their brand loyalties.

Be flexible and anticipate problems to make your customers’ experience easy and enjoyable. Be reasonably understanding of each customer’s circumstances so that their experience with your organization is as effortless as possible. For example, if you have a customer that was unable to adhere to your 30-day return policy because of the weather or being out of town, be understanding and flexible to their situation. By making it easy on them, you are making it easier for your organization to build customer loyalty and increase retention. 

Though Customer Loyalty Month is during April, customer loyalty should be an effort that carries throughout the year! Creating loyalty takes time, so do not hesitate to ask for help. PivotPath is here to provide you with the best marketing services without the high costs of traditional agencies. Letting us take on some of the responsibility will help you put more time into what really matters: your customers and their loyalty and commitment to your organization.

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.

Effectively listening to your audience is essential

In marketing, it’s our job to communicate to our audience, inform them, and engage them, right? Yes, but there is more to it. As marketers, a large part of our job is listening.

Effectively listening to an audience is essential to the growth of any organization or business. It helps to cultivate relationships, build rapport, increase loyalty, and better direct development, leading to a stronger, more sustainable business. But, how do you listen effectively?

Continue reading to learn how to be an effective listener and why it will benefit your business.

Why you should effectively listen to your audience:

Build meaningful relationships-

Your audience and customers want to feel truly understood and heard. According to NewVoiceMedia, feeling unappreciated is the #1 reason customers switch away from products and services. By genuinely listening to your audience, you are shifting the communication from one-way to two-way, which promotes meaningful relationships.

Increase customer loyalty and retention-

Listening to your audience can help you create meaningful relationships, which can benefit your business in many ways. First, it helps your business increase customer loyalty and retention. When making a purchase or investment, 64% of people find the customer experience more important than price, according to Gartner. Your audience is more likely to remain loyal to your business if you listen to their feedback, and provide them with a relationship and experience that they value.

Build rapport that leads to referrals-

Another benefit of listening to your audience is building a rapport that leads to positive referrals. Customers are not afraid to share their business experiences with friends, family, and even strangers. With the unlimited reach granted by social media and the internet, a customer’s experience never goes unnoticed. According to Extole, 83% of customers are willing to refer after a positive experience with a business. The more you listen to your customers, the more they value the relationship with your business, which will make them more likely to refer others to your services or products.

Better direct your marketing efforts-

Many of us remember being told to listen with “ears open and mouths shut” so that we could learn in grade school. Although it may seem like a child’s lesson, it’s applicable to many aspects of life, including marketing. When you take the time to listen to your audience, you are able to learn more about them: their likes, dislikes, behaviors, and attitudes. This information can be used to better your marketing efforts, customizing them to your audience to get the best reaction and engagement. You can also implement direct suggestions or feedback from customers. This will help improve your business, cultivate meaningful relationships with your audience, and show that you care about their feedback.

How to effectively listen to your audience:

Take part in active listening-

First and foremost, it is important to understand the difference between listening and active listening. When someone chooses to actively listen, they focus on what the other person is saying and try to fully understand the other person’s point of view.

Active listening is essential when communicating with your audience because it helps to show that you are genuine and that you care about what your audience has to say. Actively listen by focusing on what your audience is communicating to you. If given the opportunity, repeat their communications back to them to ensure that you fully understand what they are saying. This will show your audience and customers that you are trustworthy and are invested in their ideas.

Participate in social listening-

Social media is a very important resource when it comes to effectively listening to your audience. Your audience will take to social media for a variety of reasons: to compliment, criticize, complain, or to ask for help. Because of this, social listening a very important thing for your organization or business to partake in.

According to Hootsuite, social listening is the process of monitoring social media platforms and channels for when anyone, especially your audience, mentions your brand, competitors, products, and more. By social listening, a business is able to gain insights into what their audience is thinking and understand what is being said about their brand.

Rely on analytics-

When businesses and organizations consult data, they are using trends in their audiences’ behavior to infer their audience wants, likes, dislikes, and needs. Analytics like website traffic, social media engagement rates, email open and click rates, CTA response, and many others are pieces of data that allow you to listen to what your audience wants.

Understanding the importance of analytics and using the data to listen to your audience will help your organization identify big-picture ideas that can influence other, more specific areas of your marketing strategy.

 

As shown, listening to your audience is vital to the success of your business or organization. But, listening takes time. PivotPath offers a wide range of services that work to effectively listen to audiences. Contact us today for a free consultation, so we can assist you in your listening efforts. PivotPath understands that listening leads to meaningful relationships, and meaningful relationships lead to growing success.

 

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.