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5 Things I've Learned as DB + Partners Celebrates its 1st Birthday

By David Berry: A year ago, I started DB + Partners with the following:

  • No savings/reserves to float the business while things got off the ground
  • No real expertise running a business
  • No clients
  • An idea for a business model that was different (and hopefully different enough to stick out)

A year later, DB + Partners is humming along. The business has 11 clients, 10 of whom are in the B2C space and seven of whom have a retail component to their business.

In terms of work, the disciplines now fall in to two distinct categories. One is paid social media management with a focus on lead generation or sales conversions, the other is copywriting. (And the 'Partners' in our business name means we have experts who extend our expertise into other categories).

I'm fortunate to say that 'business is good.' DB + Partners won't be confused with a major ad agency, but then, I never intended for that. In fact, I take a direct shot at them on my website. With that said, a year in business has taught me a number of things about business. Here are five of those things.

Fun Fact! This was the first version of the approved logo design for the business; it's a color scheme I haven't used publicly until now. Like it?

Fun Fact! This was the first version of the approved logo design for the business; it's a color scheme I haven't used publicly until now. Like it?

Every day has a 'wtf am I doing?' moment. In a corporate environment, there's always a second set of eyes. Plus, numerous people smarter and more seasoned than you. So when a decision gets made, you have the comfort of knowing it was vetted along the way. Plus, there are other people managing payroll, operations, web management, invoicing and so on. When you're on your own, not so much. And, there are things you were never trained for. The sooner you get comfortable with the discomfort, the sooner you can find a way around it - or through it.

The easier it is to explain, the easier it is to get buy-in from a prospect or client...

There are several advantages to being 'small time.' You work on what you want. You're faster, more agile. You don't have to go through the bullshit of hierarchy, or hold back on speaking your mind for fear of disrupting the apple cart. It's you and your rag tag crew against the world. In a world where getting shit done is the ultimate trump card, smaller is better. 

You get to say what you're really thinking - and that's what your clients want. I used two curse words in the last paragraph and I feel just fine about it. Also, when I have an idea, I speak it. If I have a criticism, I speak that too. It's my name on the line and no one else's. Scary? Sure. Risky? You bet. But time and again, here's what I've learned - clients love it. And they've just about had it with the businesses/partners that care more about looking good than being good. 

Clients have just about had it with this game that cares more about looking good than being good. 

But, there's the weight of a major inferiority complex. Spoiler alert - there are a lot of things you don't know how to do. For example, I'm not a videographer. It's a skill I wish I had - and one I know is valuable - and it's also a prime example of why I created DB + Partners the way I did; to leverage the skills and expertise of others without claiming it as my own. I know smart, talented people. So rather than try to offer a service I'm not great at, I'd rather be upfront about it and connect you to the guys/gals I know can hit it out of the park where I can't. You don't have to know everything. But you do have to be smart, resourceful and helpful. There's value in those things, and your clients will see it - even when you're not the one doing the work.

Hard work isn't measured in time. I'd ask any ad agency (or company) why they're so damn obsessed with how many hours their people work while sitting in front of a desk inside an office. That's a working model that hasn't been 'innovative' for more than 100 years. A good business cares about results. If I'm done with my work day at 2pm and I kicked ass for my clients, guess what? I'm done for the day. If I have to work until 2am to kick ass for my clients, then guess what? That's what I'm going to do. From wherever I damn well please.

There are plenty more lessons, but I figured that's enough for today. What have you learned? And do you agree with my insights? 

-DB

3 Ways to Squeeze More from Facebook Web Retargeting

By David Berry: In February, we gave you a blog on the basics of Facebook Web Retargeting; what it is, how it works, and how powerful it can be when supporting bottom line business goals.

Today, let's dig a little deeper. One thing to note is that web retargeting isn't a magic fix-all. Some brands might see it that way, though. They'll set-up a basic web retargeting pixel and say "wow, we're seeing higher click-throughs and traffic. This thing works!" But below are three ways to get even more out of the pixel.

(Note: There are other types of retargeting that we'll touch on in other blog posts, such as engagement retargeting)

1. Retarget Off of Individual Pages on Your Site: If you're an ecommerce retailer with a wide variety of products/target users (think Party City), then retargeting off of all your site traffic may not be the best use of your time. Instead, retarget off of specific pages. The Disney movie, Frozen, has been huge in recent years, and the target user for the products there are likely the mothers of young daughters. So, Party City would get the most bang for its buck by retargeting off of the Frozen page and serving other Frozen content to those users, knowing they've already expressed an interest in Frozen-related products. The odds of conversion/sale increase dramatically when you're retargeting users with content that is specifically relevant to what they already clicked on.

2. Use Retargeting Audiences to Market Similar Product Lines: Let's go back to the Party City/Frozen example. If I have a user who has already clicked on an Elsa costume, for example, then she may be an ideal target for ad content that I'm about to promote for Beauty and the Beast products (not gonna lie, I really can't wait to see it). This is likely to lead to higher click-throughs than simple interest targeting. 

3. Use Retargeting Audiences to Create Lookalike Audiences: Facebook has extensive data on its users, everything from age, gender, school and family status down to past purchasing behavior and web activity. Which means that when they say they can find users who look and behave like you do on the web, you know they mean it. So a great way to get extra mileage out of your retargeting audiences is to build lookalike audiences off of them. If I'm selling a ton of Frozen products, and I know that there are other users who look just like the ones who are buying my stuff, well, I'm going after them too.

Got any tips of your own? Share them here.

-DB

A Quick Lesson in Facebook Retargeting: The Most Powerful Advertising Tool in Social Media

By David Berry: This blog has become an outlet for broad level insights for marketers, as well as business owners looking to gain a few tips that might inspire new ideas. But today we're going to get into some nuts and bolts - and you'll walk away with some tangible tips that you can implement to create social media ads that do more than get a few new fans.

Today's blog centers around retargeting. If this is the first time hearing this term, I'll try to make it simple for you. Retargeting takes users who have been to your website or app and, based on what they did or didn't do there, hits them with additional messaging to encourage purchase or action.

The rationale for 'why' is quite simple - according to AdRoll, only 2% of shoppers convert (buy something) on their first visit to an online store.

Retargeting focuses on the 98% who don't buy something the first time.

It's easy to understand why retargeting is so valuable to marketers. Billions of dollars are spent every year by businesses in hopes of finding the right people to buy their stuff. Most of it is wasted on people who don't care or never even notice.

Retargeting only focuses on the people who have done something that shows they are interested in what you're selling. That means they've visited your website, added something to a shopping cart, searched for products, entered payment information and so on. 

And as a marketer, that means spending money on people who might actually buy.

Here's a real-life example from a client of mine:

Let me explain what you're looking at. These are two campaigns that I ran side by side for a client last month. The campaign labeled 'FB Website Clicks (Groupon)' was a group that utilized targeting insights from a Groupon campaign and generated a 1.71% CTR rate - not bad. (Many brands will see website click ads with CTRs of under 1.0%).

The campaign above it, 'Retargeting/Conversions,' however, had a CTR of 7.84%, or more than 4X stronger than the other campaign. Plus, it led to 205 users going to my client's website and actually adding one of their products to their shopping cart. And in this reporting window (10 days), they generated 4 attributable sales - it is possible, or even likely, that these users made purchases that were not as easily attributable, as well. 

And again, the rationale for why this works is simple - these users already showed you they were interested. You're just doing them the favor of following up with them to remind them. And in due time, if they're truly interested, they will buy from you.

That's your mini crash course. But now, how do you go about making this work for your business?

Facebook thankfully makes it easy(ish). If you're not too savvy with implementing code on your own website, you may want the help of a developer. Don't worry, once upon a time, I didn't know how to do this either. Plus for most strong developers, installing this snippet of code (and some of its extensions, aka 'Custom Events') to your website is a pretty quick task.

Facebook actually gives you all of the tools you need in order to create the code and it provides a step by step guide for installation, too. You can view that information here.

Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of work involved with creating good ads, adding in layers of targeting and testing, testing and testing again to see which ones actually drive sales. But the reality is that in the realm of 'sophisticated marketing,' this is an attainable skill set to learn. And the value of taking the time to do so could truly change the financial outlook of your business.

-DB

Recycling: Good for the Environment - And Your Content

Recycle. Like I just did with this free stock photo from Pixabay.com.

Recycle. Like I just did with this free stock photo from Pixabay.com.

By David Berry: What is a business to do when they're listening to every marketing expert around tell them that 'content is king,' but they don't have the resources worthy of a kingship? Recycle.

No, I'm not talking about your cans and bottles (but that's a good idea, too). I'm talking about recycling old content.

Think that feels 'cheap'? It's not. And it's actually more common than you think. According to Digiday: 

The Atlantic, which uses archival material on both the print and digital sides of its business, now generates more than a quarter of its traffic every month from older content. At publications like Business Insider, the figure is even higher, and for lifestyle-focused publications like Refinery29 it’s higher still: 35 percent, and growing, the company said.
— Digiday.com

The rationale makes sense too. For three reasons.

  1. It uses fewer resources. You already created the content; you're just driving people back to it. Less is more.
  2. Message frequency = message penetration. This is how old TV advertising budgets were built; they knew they needed to deliver the message multiple times for it to really get noticed. When that happens, you get top of mind brand awareness, and that pays dividends when it comes to generating repeat traffic - particularly for ecom brands.
  3. It's easier to plan. As Neha Gandhi, Refinery29’s svp of content strategy and innovation, said, “Betting exclusively on the news cycle is far too volatile a game to play, if you’re looking to drive sustained growth and loyalty.” Find evergreen themes, and build on those.

Here are a few tips to get you started on an evergreen content strategy:

  1. Develop content categories. Let's say you run a grocery store chain. Regardless of time of year, target users of a grocery store will always have an interest in food/ingredients, the in-store experience, recipes and finished products/dishes, how the foods bring value to an every day lifestyle, and so on. When creating evergreen content, make sure you have these pillars established. It'll ensure that your content is always relevant, and always on brand.
  2. Use it everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and any other pertinent social media channels. Plug it in your email content, your corporate blog, and at retail store level, as appropriate.
  3. Then, use it again. If you're worried about users thinking you're selling it off as 'new' content two or three months after you first used it, be up front about it. Say 'In case you missed it!' (ICYMI), or 'From the archives.' This keeps you transparent, and allows you to gain extra traffic and engagement on content that otherwise would sit in solitude.

Have any tips of your own? Leave them in the comments. And don't forget to subscribe to our emails for more tips that we'll send directly to your inbox.

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Sassy Brands on Social = Successful

By David Berry: 2017 kicked off with a bang and a botched Mariah Carey performance, just the way the universe prescribed. But it only took a couple of days for the first social media #win to show up, courtesy of Wendy's.

In case you missed it, check out this exchange between a would-be troll and a far more adept social media manager at the helm of the brand's Twitter account.

Roasted! Admittedly, the brand has been on a roll since its public thrashing of its troll. And, the public (and the industry) have been heaping praise on the brand for the past couple of days. But to call a spade a spade, what Wendy's is up to isn't anything new. That's not to downplay their hot streak.

David Ogilvy once said 'The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.'

In that regard, this notion of humor to generate buzz (or sell burgers) is business as usual. Yet somehow, when it happens, the ad world and the general population alike celebrate these brands as progressive thinkers. But are they really?

Old Spice and Taco Bell in particular have reinvented their brands over the past decade with a great deal of success by being funny and, dare we say it, 'sassy.' When you think of Old Spice, you think of Isaiah Mustafa saying "I'm on a horse!" and laughing. When you think of Taco Bell, you probably think of their witty social persona, and them randomly sending Taco Bell-themed goods to their raving fans.

The point is this - when you really break it down, advertising (or social media, or whatever) isn't all that hard. And Wendy's is once again discovering it and simultaneously revealing it.

1. Know your audience. And 2. Find a fun, compelling angle to engage them.

No amount of fancy research or ad tech will ever change that truth.

-DB

5 Things Your Social Media Agency Isn't Telling You

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According to eMarketer, Social media ad spends will reach $29 billion worldwide in 2016, and will push toward the $36 billion mark in 2017. Suffice it to say that social is still growing and is showing few signs of slowing down. But with that growth comes a glut of self-proclaimed experts or, heaven forbid, ‘gurus.’ How do you avoid putting the keys to your castle in the hands of an idiot? Take a look at what they’re not saying.

1.     The number of fans/followers you have doesn’t matter. Once upon a time, you could post an adorable cat meme to your social pages and watch the engagement pour in from your legions of fans. Today, not so much. Having a bunch of fans/followers is now akin to having a bunch of friends who never hangout with you. Organic reach now hovers around 1-2% for most brands across channels (meaning 98-99% of your fans never see your content). There are exceptions, including publishers (think The Miami New Times or The Plantain) and celebrities (think DJ Khaled or any Kardashian). But if you’re a business with a product to sell, odds are you might still be spending a lot of time and money on acquiring fans who will never see what you post. And yes, that now includes Instagram.

2.     Twitter is useless. Twitter stock once sold for $69 per share; today it sells for $15. On the flipside, Facebook once traded for $18 per share (in 2012) and now trades for $118. Why? Because Twitter sucks if you’re trying to grow a business on it. Their ads are more expensive than their social counterparts (and less capable), the platform is less used and less engaging, and the volume of content is so abundant and disorganized that even if you did post something spectacular, chances are no one saw it.

3.     90% of purchases via social (FB) come from users who never click an ad. Facebook released a conversion lift test in 2015 that was designed to show the true impact of ads run on the platform, beyond what could be tracked by clicks. What they found was that users who saw ads from brands in markets where no other media was running were still buying things from the brand, even though 90% never clicked on the ads they saw. The takeaway? Don’t judge the success of your ads based on clicks alone – look at the bigger picture, and evaluate your media holistically instead of in a vaccum.

4.     Your business probably doesn’t belong on Periscope, Tumblr, Twitter or even Pinterest. Not every shiny new social toy is right for your brand. This tends to plague small businesses who have an inferiority complex about their ability to market their business. Instead of being a master at one or two social channels, they spread themselves across several and instead fail at all of them. Look long and hard at what your business does, and who it sells to. And select your social channels accordingly.

5.     If you’re posting every day, you’re posting too much. The reality is that most businesses don’t have that much to say, and that’s okay. Brands were posting across channels nearly once per day or more a couple of years ago, but late 2015 and early 2016 have actually seen brands posting less often, but with higher quality. This has helped per-post organic performance, but it’s also a reaction to social increasingly becoming a pay-to-play space (if you want to be seen, you need to run ads). Specifically, that means a brand could theoretically only post once or twice per week, but be far more impactful than any brand posting on a daily basis because their ad budget allows them to go beyond their own pool of fans, and at scale. So, less is more.

Agree or disagree? Leave your comments. And if you’re interested in talking more, email me directly at david@dbpluspartners.com. Thanks for reading!