How to Learn about Digital Marketing in 30-Minutes Per Week

We're all busy. That's just a reality of 21st-century professional life. By the time we're done work ... we're done. At Sync, we understand your time is precious so we've put together information in bite-sized portions. Here's the list:

  • We offer 60-second answers to questions we get in our email on Instagram. Follow us for quick tidbits of info.

  • Elaborating in roughly 10-minutes or less on the 60-Second Email Question, Sync has a podcast you can listen to our Apple, Google Play, and Spotify.

  • For detailed info that you can read, our blog is always a great source of longer-form content.

There are a couple of podcasts we all listen to at the office daily. They're both short and to the point. Combine these with the resources we provide and we guarantee you'll have a better understanding of digital marketing:

So there you have it ... digital marketing knowledge in about 30-minutes a week. Have fun learning, and if you need help with any of your digital marketing, just reach out.

The Difference Between Marketing & Sales

I have encountered a weird trend in the advertising marketing lately. I'm thinking it has something to do with client steered conversations and marketing guys with no backbone. We've all been there; a deal is about to close and the client asks for one more thing ... deals closed! You think for a moment, "Can I do that?"

In that moment of the thought you find clarity, but there's food that needs to be put on your table so you bend and say, "Of course." I think it's that very bend that has created the climate we're in.

Just so we're clear, the difference between marketing and sales is quite distinct. Marketing is the creative process that garners a brand interest in the public eye. Sales is the psychological process of leading the public to the close.

In short, marketing gets them in the door and sales teams close the sale. These are 2 very distinct and equally important jobs. Without the people there are no sales. Without the sales there's no marketing money. Expecting a company to have both is like expecting a farmer to also run a successful grocery store; that's just not how things work.

So, next time you're looking for help hire 2 teams. The first will specialize in marketing and make it possible for you to reach critical mass. Then, hire a salesforce that can close. 2 teams, 2 roles, 2 different expectations.

When Something Goes Wrong - A Lesson in Advertising

There are millions of variables when sending out a newsletter or offering a promotion only. First, you have user aptitude. Second, which browser a person uses can greatly impact results (Internet Explorer, I'm looking at you). Third, have they updated their apps or computer? I could likely list off factors all day long, but I'm not here to give you a list. Let's talk about what happens when a problem occurs.

Are you equipped to deal with an issue?

Just last night there was an issue that came up for a client. An unforeseen bug appeared in a live environment that didn't exist in testing. We were able to diagnose the issue within 12 hours and offer a fix. This is because our experienced technical team were able to take disjointed notes from those complaining and create a patch. What do I mean by disjointed?

Here are some samples:

"It's not working. This is stupid."

"I can't get [product]. I click like crazy and it just doesn't do anything."

My favourite though, "My grandson is a computer genius and even he can't figure this out."

Of the 10,806 people to receive the promotion, 15 people had issues and it was due to a small bug with tabbed browsing on out of date platforms such as IE, Chrome, and Safari.

With that said, we've encountered many of these types of issues over the years, and I'd like to offer you a few steps to dealing with the issue:

1. Once the problem presents, if the issue is on a page you control, put up a notice.

2. Be honest and let your customers know you are working on a fix to an unforeseen issue. People respond positively to honesty for the most part.

3. Breathe. You're getting hit from all sides but losing your head will not help anyone, especially you.

4. Consult with your tech team, and look for a fix or at least a work around.

5. Offer the solution on the original form of communication. So, if the issue was on Facebook, offer the solution on Facebook. If the issue came from a newsletter, send a followup.

It is critical to your success that you don't let the issue get you down. In this world of computing there are often going to be issues you never saw coming. No one expects perfection; but they do expect you to be honest and help.

I hope this helps, but if you don't have a tech team to assist you in moments of crisis, please let's talk.

Blog Your Way to Success: 5 Ways Blogging Helps You

Being in business is hard work, and I don't mean to add yet another item to your to do list but alas you should be blogging. Now, some of you might say that you've seen so many "experts" say blogging is a waste of time. Well, here's a real world example for you: We have 58 clients, and of those 11 came from conversations started by a blog. Full disclosure, we sell blogging services but it's only because we believe in the task itself based on our experience.

With a constant stream of new online and technological advancements, an online presence becomes increasingly important. Sure, you're on Facebook, you have thought about an app, there's your branding package, and of course you dust off that trusty LinkedIn account once in awhile. But, blogging can compliment all of your efforts and actually enhance them.

According to recent inbound marketing report, nearly 80% of companies that use blogging as a part of their marketing strategy reported acquiring customers through their blogging efforts. Additionally, 82% of businesses admit that blogging is critical to their business.
— http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics

So let's talk benefits:

1. Exceptional Boost To Search Engine Optimization

All of the major search engines are looking for fresh, relevant content. Blogging is one of the most straightforward and inexpensive methods for offering this content. When a business creates blog posts consistently, they are constantly providing Google, Bing, and the others with fresh content to index. This is also an opportunity for businesses to insert those relevant keywords that consumers will use to search for the types of products or services that the business offers.

2. Develop And Strengthen Relationships With New & Existing Customers

Customer engagement is an immensely important element of online marketing and branding. Blogging provides the opportunity for you to connect with your existing and potential customers. Blogging is a good way to build trust with your target audience through high quality content that they find relevant. With an active comment section, you will also be able to follow the visitors' responses to your posts, and you will be able to respond directly to their comments, which is huge in building trust and relationships.

3. Establish Your Business As An Industry Leader

It doesn't matter how small your business is, blogging is a good way for your business to build trust and establish clout in your industry by providing content that will be viewed as valuable, expert information. In time, posting blogs that are helpful and informative on a regular basis can make you the "go to" resource in your particular niche within the industry, subsequently increasing leads and conversion rates.

4. Connect People To Your Brand

Brand awareness is an immensely important element of marketing and blog posting will allow you to show your followers a personal side of your business that existing and perspective customers will not readily recognize with outbound marketing mechanisms and techniques. Blogging will give others a lucid sense of the corporate standards, business character, vision and the personality of your company.

5. Create Opportunities For Sharing

One of the most powerful benefits of blogging is the opportunity it creates for others to share the link to your blog, creating the potential for viral traffic and exponential market growth. With so many different sharing platforms available, visitors can share the direct link to the blog, tweet it, or email it to a friend. This is the epitome of free marketing.

If you are interested in increasing your online exposure, while establishing yourself as an expert in your industry, then you will definitely want to take advantage of blogging as a marketing strategy. Just blog, and if you need help, let's talk.

RIP Net Neutrality: June 11th, 2018

net neutrality

Doesn't it feel like the net neutrality debate has been going on forever? For those of us who live online, the new FCC rules are just a weak, corporate takeover of the last free space available to us, the people. On June 11th, we will officially lose the battle.

Although the rule was approved in December, entered into the Federal Register in February, and under ordinary circumstances would have taken effect in April, “Restoring Internet Freedom” had one extra step that needed to be taken.

The Office of Management and Budget needed to take a look at the rule because it changed how the industry reported information to the government, and under the Paperwork Reduction Act that authority had to approve the final version.

That approval was granted on May 2nd—the FCC explained in a news release—and June 11th was picked as the effective date “to give providers time to comply with the transparency requirement.”

The Congressional Review Act paperwork filed yesterday means the Senate will soon be voting on whether the rules can stay in place, but the likelihood of that bill passing the Senate and House and getting signed by the President is pretty much nil. Still, the votes will put proponents and opponents of net neutrality in the open and potentially make it an election issue.

Lawsuits alleging various flaws in the process or rule itself may eventually cause it to be rolled back, but that will take years, and lacking evidence of direct harm judges are unlikely to take the rules out of effect while considering the case.

Don’t expect much to happen immediately should the new rule take place; the industry is too savvy to blast out some new, abusive rules under the far more permissive framework established by this FCC. But as before, consumers will often be the first to spot shady behaviors and subtle changes to the wording of marketing or user agreements and spread the news when you see something.

In case you don't know, the end of Obama's net neutrality rules means that ISPs can slow or block any website they want (with notice). They can also up-charge on content. That doesn't seem so bad, right? Well, what if you like smaller niche services that infringe on large services that pay up? You might lose access to the web you love.

No matter what we do, the internet changes forever on June 11th, and there's a good chance you'll be pretty angry about it. Just don't smash your computer. It's the government's fault, not Apple.

Contains an excerpt from this article.

Will My Promotion Fail?

Will my promotion fail? It's a question so few business owners and management staff ask before they put an idea out into the world. You see, I come from the hospitality world, where campaigns are drafted in weeks—if not days—and when they fail everyone then asks, "Why did my promotion fail?" The powers-that-be will often blame the weather, or another event, or some other force beyond their control. They rarely look internally; and the hospitality industry is not alone.

At Sync, we've worked with or consulted on projects for various industries from commercial flooring to condom manufacturers, from restaurants to real estate agents, from nightclubs to night sleep aids. One thing is clear, of those we've worked with, the successful companies ask, "Will my promotion fail?"

You might think that's an odd question to ask before launching a project you believe in but it's actually fundamental. When you think in terms of failure, you think in practical terms.

To make my point I'm going to give you a fictitious project with typical thinking in this day and age of modern marketing and promotion.

Project Type: Festival for Canada Day.

The Idea: Throw a festival outside of a hospitality venue on Canada Day that brings in a few headlining acts that seem popular, several local entertainers, and feature a beer garden, as well as VIP section. The festival will also have large adult games such as body balls.

The Audience: A lot of people like music and beer, so them.

The Message: Big block party with ____________ entertainers. Come.

The Execution: Let's pump out some social media posts, and get our staff to talk about it.

The Timing: Canada Day is July 1st. Let's start pushing out information in May at some point.

The Buy-In: We'll tell staff they are required to promote, and we'll make sure to go after the fans of the acts.

The Follow Through: We made our money, or not ... either way, let's just keep on going.

Now for the "Will My Promotion Fail?" Version.

Project Type: Festival for Canada Day.

The Idea: Throw a festival outside of a hospitality venue on Canada Day that brings in a few headlining acts that are popular, several local entertainers with clout for the type of marketing we'll be doing, and feature a beer garden, as well as VIP section. The festival will also have large adult games such as body balls.

The Audience: Do people actually like the acts we're bringing in? We'll examine this by looking at their demographics on Google and Facebook ad platforms. This will tell us how many dedicated fans there are. Will my local entertainers bring in customers? This is easy to figure out by examining their social media. You don't want to look at their follower count exclusively though. Instead you want to look at how the followers interact with their promotional posts. Now we have to examine of those people that support those acts, do they care about a beer garden? Do they have enough money to justify spending time on a great VIP section? Are they interested in adult games? You'll want to poll the audience before even thinking of continuing.

The Message: Instead of just telling people what you're doing, and to come, you need to think of more reasons for them to show. It's always good to have at least 3 selling points for small promotions, and at least 5 for large promotions. If you did your research in step one, then you're just adding a bit of value to seal the deal. If your audience does want adult games, will they pay or should you offer them free? If you're going to have a large VIP section, what comes with it? In this world of digital marketing you can't pound the same message for the life of the campaign. You need to release new information regularly. Get your potential customers excited!

The Execution: I know this might be kinda old fashioned of me, but it's probably best that you prepare a marketing plan. I know, so much work, right? However, a marketing plan forces you to ask yourself the tough questions in all aspects of promotion from financial to the nitty gritty marketing ideas.

The Timing: On average, small promotions need 6 weeks to really get the traction you're looking for based on most reports. Large promotions require 6 months or more. Canada Day is a very competitive holiday. Think this through. Can you give yourself the time needed to put together an awesome festival, and are your offerings attractive enough to gain the critical mass needed on a day with attractions on every street corner? Maybe the idea is better suited to a day when there isn't so much going on. Remove ego for a moment and think.

The Buy-In: Don't require your staff to buy-in; throw an event that you know they'll get behind. Ask those involved for ideas, and actually implement some. Make this promotion fun for them. If the buy-in from your team is natural, so to will their effort be.

The Follow Through: In this day and age there is no excuse for not acquiring data. If you're selling tickets, you should have emails. If not, have someone at the event collecting contact info. Perhaps you offer a prize for someone giving up their details. After every event you should follow through with a thank you, ask for feedback, and show your customers you care. It's also a good idea to ask them for any media they shot while at the event. Trust me, show them some love and it'll be much easier to sell to them next time.

So ...

  • Do people actually care about my acts?
  • Do I have the right team?
  • Are my offerings right for my audience?
  • Do I have enough sales points?
  • Have I really thought through the marketing plan?
  • Have I given myself enough time to sell the idea?
  • Does my team believe in the idea?
  • Do I have a strategy to keep them coming back?

If you don't know the answer to any of these questions, or if you aren't confident in your answers, STOP! That's how people lose money. I've done it, you've done it, Mark Zuckerberg has done it. However, if we just take the time to think before we jump perhaps we won't end up landing on rocks.

How I Found More Work-Life Balance

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I'm not going to say that I've found the perfect balance between work and life, but I will say that I've gotten much better at the art over time. With technology has come more taking our jobs home with us, and more of us burning out—physically, mentally, the patience of our loved one's ... the list goes on and on.

I think a big problem is that we exercise such passion in our work, and find it hard to do so in our personal life as a result. That leads to working longer hours to get that dopamine fix. It became apparent to me that was my problem at least, and here's what I did about it.

  1. To Do Lists: I started creating to do lists for my week on Monday morning, and for the following day the night before. This applied only to week days. I've left weekends open for whatever comes my way. Some times I work, some times I play on Saturdays and Sundays ... it really depends on how I feel. When I'm done my list for the day, I'm done. Sure, I could keep going but I made that list for a reason so I stick to it.
  2. Passion: I stopped trivializing the relationships I was in. That's not to say I was ever disrespectful to my partners, but I didn't date women that I could feel truly passionate about for fear they would get in the way of my work. I also stuck around when the writing was on the wall regarding said relationships. Now, I'm with someone whom I can go on adventures with, and those adventures fill me with as much pride as accomplishing something in my work.
  3. Breaks: There was a point in time when I worked 12 hours straight. I decided never to do that in 2017. Instead, I take meditation breaks, work out, watch a show when my brain is slowing, or just talk on the phone. The breaks re-energize me and give me a boost that has me getting my work done faster.
  4. Vacations: We all know when we're burning out, we just don't admit it. As soon as I feel it coming on, I take a trip. After working relentlessly for 2 months on a project, I took 4 days off recently. It was a small vacation, but an impactful one. Oh, and by vacation I mean I didn't work ... at all.
  5. Identifying Emergencies: These days, we think everything is an emergency. One must look objectively at what is truly important in the grand scheme of things. Answering an email often does not require us to drop everything. In 99% of cases, a bit of wait time is fine.
  6. Remembering Death: It can happen to us at any minute; a pulmonary aneurysm, a heart attack, getting hit by a car, shot at a convenience store. Seriously, it's a scary world out there. So why do we work all the time? What is the point of all this life if we spend it working and not enjoying the world, people, and adventures in front of us? Take a break, and create your own balance because it might all end in a flash and no one wants to have their final thought be, "I wish I had enjoyed life more."

So there you have it; my work-life balance. What's your magical formula?

Written by Jay Hall, Chief Strategist

The Personal Aspect of Business

Workplace Depression

I wanted to take a moment to write about something completely different today. We're all moving so quickly, and trying to get so much done that we can often feel like machines ... almost robotic. However, we're not. You, me, and all of the people we meet throughout our business lives are humans. This seems obvious right?

Well, let me point out a few times when we forget that.

Picture this, your star employee comes into a boardroom meeting and he or she is just not performing as they usually do. Too often, we get mad or frustrated because we're too busy for their shit. We might even tell them so, or walk away angry.

Another scenario is an employee taking time off that you didn't see coming. There's no particular vacation plans that have been discussed, their reasoning seems vague, or it's just oddly out of character. We might say things like who does he think he is, or I don't think that she is taking their job seriously enough.

The last scenario I'll give you is to imagine you're at a business lunch, and the waitress just kinda sucks at her job. No tip for her, you proclaim. On the surface, you've just taught her a lesson. However, it might not be the lesson she needs.

All of these scenarios have one common thread; you have no idea what has happened to the person before speaking with them. I have learned that quite often underperformance is due to either feeling undervalued, or because of personal problems.

So what do you do in these situations? In all scenarios, a moment to stop and ask if there's anything you can do to help them through their crappy day or week goes a long way. I've tested it out. The three scenarios I gave, are three real scenarios I was in.

Scenario 1: I hung back and asked what was up with my employee. He, of course said nothing. I told him not to insult my intelligence, and that anything he said would stay in the room. He still protested, so I just let him know I'm there if he needs me. Two-days later, he sat in my office for an hour talking about how his mom was sick, and his relationship just ended. I didn't fix his problems, but letting him vent, and offering small tidbits of advice helped. He was able to function more positively at the office.

Scenario 2: Extended, unplanned time off, while staying home can be a sign of depression. I picked up the phone, and let the employee know they were missed. I reminded the employee that she was a valuable asset to our team, and not that there's pressure to do so, but we want her back helping us steer the ship soon! She came back the next day, and thanked me at our Christmas party a few months later for the call.

Scenario 3: The waitress was having relationship troubles. I asked her why her day sucked so bad, and she gave a vague explanation. I just reminded her that everything passes with time, and let her know we wouldn't be too much of a pain for her, if she kept my Ginger Ale topped off. She laughed for the first time that day, and the service was stellar.

I'm not trying to preach. But what I'm saying, if I'm saying anything, is that you never know what happened before you got there, but you can absolutely change someone's perspective while you're with them.

More tolerance in the corporate world is therapeutic for us all.

Written by:
Jay Hall - Chief Strategist