7 Marketing Resolutions for Younger Marketers in 2016

Fear not, I’m back for 2016 and will be posting again on a monthly basis. Starting right now, with my very own “2016 Marketing Resolutions.” I’ll also list a few great resources I’ve found to help me on the road to resolution glory!

I’m baaaaaaack! Did you miss me? Did you feel like 2015 was just a little darker and a little colder as it drew to a close? You may have assumed it was just a result of the earth’s regularly scheduled journey farther away from the sun, but I’m here to tell you that chill in the air was merely the lack of my presence in your life and on your screen.

But fear not, I’m back for 2016 and will be posting again on a monthly basis. Starting right now, with my very own “2016 Marketing Resolutions” (because there’s never enough “My New Year’s Resolutions” posts in the world, right?) I figure I’ll fare better with these guys than I will with “go to the gym 3x a week” or “limit myself to one season of a show on Netflix per night.”

I’ll also list a few great resources I’ve found to help me on the road to resolution glory!

Business group of people standing on the hill and looking aside
According to iStock, a significant number of people have a goal of climbing a mountain and/or doing the Rocky pose in business suits

 

1. Get to Work Earlier
Here’s the problem with having flexible work hours: you can actually take advantage of them. Add that to my just-two-blocks commute and you’ve got a perfect recipe for snooze-button-dependency. I’ve never been an early bird, and generally I’m of the mindset that I work better when I come in a little later and leave a little later. But I have to admit I feel an extra sense of pep and motivation when I manage to start my day an hour or two ahead of schedule, and having that extra time to enjoy my coffee and clear out the cobwebs logically results in more productivity. So I’ve decided: 2016 is the year I start getting to work before 9:00.

I recently found this simple yet brilliant post on LifeHack for people like me, and I’m eager to try these strategies out.

2. Better Time Management
Another daily struggle for me: deciding what on my list needs to be done and when, and how much time should be spent doing it. Since it’s a point I’m always looking to improve, I’ve found a few basic tools that seem to work best for me when used together.

I’m a visual person, so I always love a good to-do list; it really helps me to be able to look at my tasks laid out in front of me, and physically move them into an order that makes sense. My favorite of the many online options available is Wunderlist. You can create separate folders within your to-do list and categorize each task, set due-dates and alarms, enable email notifications, and sync your lists to the mobile app to access anywhere. Plus, that “ding” noise it makes when you complete a task is super satisfying. Oh, and it’s free!

Another must: The StayFocusd browser extension. No more “two minute web surfing breaks” that turn into ten or twenty; this app blocks all but your allowed websites after your allotted time runs out. Pro-Tip: Put the Chrome Extensions store on your block list, so you can’t cheat and remove the app 😉

Words Matter

It’s said that in life, words matter. Simple phrases and how we say them as we interact reveals much about our inner character. I recently listened to a message about how three phrases have the power to change emotion. And it dawned on me that these same phrases, all filled with goodness, have a place in the tone of our marketing messages.

Words in a sales letter, email, website, blog post, social media post or video have the potential to shift emotion in a positive way. The most effective words are simple. Once you understand and empathize with the feelings of your reader or prospective customer, you can shift the tone of your message in a positive way.

While these three phrases could be literally stated in your marketing message, it’s really the tone you should strive to send. So today I suggest you think about how you can put an encouraging tone on the emotion you want your message to convey, and consider how your headline, body copy, or story, can move your audience to a positive emotion.

  • “Thank you.” By themselves, the words can be a bit hollow. “Thank you for your business” is nice, but a sincere thank you that reveals the depth of your inner gratefulness can be much more impactful.
  • “I appreciate you.” Most of us like to be appreciated. Once again, the exact words you use don’t have to say “I appreciate you,” but rather, convey the appreciation of people as customers in your actions and with words.
  • “I love you.” You probably wouldn’t say this in your marketing messaging (although you’ve surely seen signs that say “We love our customers”). In this instance, think of it as affection for your customer or the pleasure you have in serving them.

The tone you convey using the emotion of these phrases does matter. Sincerely expressing these feelings can become a platform for building, retaining and strengthening long-term relationships with your customers.

New Paper Recovery Data Shows Impact of Recession, Digital Media

New data from the American Forest & Paper Association regarding paper recovery rates in the United States has some good news—and not-so-good news—regarding U.S. recycling collection. As marketers, we need to pay close attention to these rates, and take active steps to support increased recovery, since such recovery can have positive impact on recycled paper supply and pricing, as well as other marketplace concerns regarding our print communications and paper packaging.

New data from the American Forest & Paper Association regarding paper recovery rates in the United States has some good news—and not-so-good news—regarding U.S. recycling collection. As marketers, we need to pay close attention to these rates, and take active steps to support increased recovery, since such recovery can have positive impact on recycled paper supply and pricing, as well as other marketplace concerns regarding our print communications and paper packaging.

The good news is that the paper business has continued to increase recovery rates for all types of paper, achieving a record 66.8-percent recovery for the nation [see the first image in the media player at right].

For printing and writing grades, recovery rates slipped from its 2009 recovery percentage peak of 61.0 percent, now registering a 56.8-percent recovery rate, but still ahead of the pre-recession recovery rate [see the second image in the media player at right].

In both the overall market for all grades combined, and the printing & writing grades market, the peak year for paper consumption (the bars on both of the preceding graphs) was pre-recession 2007, a high point we have yet to re-attain in both categories as our economy has returned to tepid growth.

However, by looking at just printing & writing grades consumption, the falloff from the 2007 peak, and the lack of recovery, is far more pronounced than in the paper market overall—fully a 23.7-percent drop from 2007 to 2011. This is certainly a sign that while the recession prompted a pullback, digital media has brought on a migration from print communications, and most certainly in postal mail. That data is supported by declining U.S. Postal Service First-Class Mail volume data, and near-minimal growth in Standard Mail.

Thus, the generally higher recovery rates are generated by higher recycling collection activity or perhaps a more expansive recovery infrastructure, but also by source reduction—there’s just less printing and writing papers being generated.

Certainly, the role of direct mail is changing in an increasingly mobile, digital age—and thankfully, we’re getting a good percentage of what we do consume recycled. We need to do better.

Helpful Links:

6 Questions to Ask Your SEO Copywriter

Have you decided that outsourcing your SEO copywriting and content development strategy is the best bet for your business? (If you’re not sure, see last month’s blog post.) Now here comes the hard part: Finding the right SEO copywriter for your needs.

Have you decided that outsourcing your SEO copywriting and content development strategy is the best bet for your business? (If you’re not sure, see last month’s blog post on how and when to outsource your SEO.) Now here comes the hard part: Finding the right SEO copywriter for your needs.

SEO copywriting professionals can have a wide variety of skill sets, from the newbie who is just getting her virtual feet wet to the uber-experienced direct response professional who is also a whiz at SEO. If you’re ready to take the plunge, here are six questions to ask any prospective SEO copywriter.

1. What kind of experience do you have?
SEO copywriting is different. Someone may be a fantastic direct response copywriter. But if he doesn’t have SEO copywriting experience, he may not be your best choice. Why? Because SEO copywriting is part geeky knowledge, part creative brilliance. Not only will your new hire have to have “normal” copywriting skills, but he’ll also need to know how to choose keyphrases, set a strategy and weave keyphrases into your copy the right way. Some folks are self-taught, but the best SEO copywriters have had some hands-on training. A combination of solid experience plus additional training (for instance, being Certified in SEO copywriting) ensures that you have a quality candidate.

2. What do you charge, and what’s included in the price?
You may think that a writer’s price is incredibly inexpensive, but make sure that you know what’s included in the rate. Just like when you buy a plane ticket, some writers charge a low per-page rate, but then add on “extras” like keyphrase research, a per-page keyphrase strategy, and creating titles and meta descriptions. That’s great for some clients. But if you need lots of extras (such as when you don’t have a per-page keyphrase strategy in place), know that you’ll be paying more per page.

3. How has your writing boosted your clients’ revenues?
Yes, we all want top-10 search engine rankings, and your SEO copywriter plays a huge part in making that happen. However, there’s a bigger question to ask: Will your copywriter make you money? Ask your copywriter how her writing has helped to increase conversion rates. She may tell a story about how one landing page generated $25,000 in almost instant revenue. Or how SEO copywriting training helped to increase revenues by 27 percent. If a copywriter can’t give you specifics, dig deeper. Sometimes, the copywriter doesn’t have access to analytics, so his non-specific answer isn’t his fault. At the same time, he should have one heck of a testimonial portfolio and other street-cred to make up for it.

4. Do you outsource to other copywriters?
You may have felt an instant connection when you chatted with the copywriting agency. But will the outgoing and whip-smart woman you spoke with on the phone be the same person writing your copy? Maybe. Ask your copywriter if she outsources. If she says “yes,” ask for a writing sample from the person who will be doing the writing. Outsourcing isn’t a bad thing. But as the client, you have a right to know the players and the process. (Side note: If you don’t hear the “main” copywriter discuss how she evaluates every piece of copy before a client sees it, run away fast.)

5. What kind of ongoing education do you receive?
SEO copywriting is not a “set it and forget it” kind of skill set. The search engines are ever-changing and what worked six months ago may not work today. Plus, new neuromarketing, eye-tracking and information-processing research is changing the way copywriters write content. Ask what kind of sites, conferences and research your copywriter is tracking. If she says, “I don’t keep up with techie stuff,” she still may be an awesome copywriter … but she may not have the necessary SEO skills to really do the job (depending on the skill level you need).

6. What other skills do you bring to the table?
Some SEO copywriters can take on a full-scale SEO campaign and thrive, replacing your need for another SEO company (this is especially true for small businesses.) Other SEO copywriters can train your team, build links and even write that e-book that’s been on your “to-do” list for years. Once you love and trust your new writer, explore how else she can help you. You may find that your SEO copywriter can help you grow your business in many additional ways—and you’ll have a trusted marketing partner who can create killer, high-converting (and positioning) copy.