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JOURNAL

An inside look at the outside world.

As technology evolves, so do the tactics marketers use to reach their audiences.

Digital marketing is increasingly the common thread in reaching audiences across demographics and generational lines.

It might seem obvious, but it’s important to recognize why.

According to the U.S. Census, 83.8 percent of households reported computer ownership, and Pew Research reports 87 percent of American adults use the internet – up 14 percent from 1995.

Still, with so many different ways to access, interact and engage with the internet, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of digital marketing.

Smarter phones
68 percent of adults report smartphone ownership. Here’s what they’re tapping on.

81%

sent or received text messages

60%

accessed the internet

52%

sent or received email

50%

downloaded an app

SOURCE: Pew Research

The Digital Menu
Marketers can take their pick of digital marketing tactics based on their appetites and consumers’ tastes.

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Pay-Per-Click
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Native Advertising
  • Marketing Automation
  • Email Marketing

These days, Millennials are everywhere.

It’s not just because they’re the largest generation since the Baby Boomers – advertisers are taking advantage of their unique buying habits and increased spending power.

But sandwiched between those two colossal generations is a frequently overlooked yet still-sizable demographic: Generation X.

Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen Xers are currently between the ages of 36 to 51 – to the tune of 65 million people, according to Pew Research.

And they, too, have purchasing power: they consist of just 25 percent of the U.S. population yet earn 31 percent of U.S. income.

Plus, they’re educated and entrepreneurial. Thirty-five percent have college degrees (versus just 19 percent of Millennials), and an incredible 55 percent of start-up founders are Gen Xers.

So how are marketers to reach them? Well, a lot of ways.

As early – yet not native – adopters of technology, Gen Xers’ media consumption habits don’t necessarily fit the cookie-cutter mentalities of tech-savvy Millennials or traditionalist Boomers.

In fact, according to Forrester Research:

  • 49 percent listen to the radio
  • 62 percent still read newspapers
  • 85 percent have a favorite TV show
  • 60 percent use a smartphone daily
  • 75 percent routinely use social networks

By deploying a mix of traditional and digital tactics, marketers can tap into Generation X’s potential.

Social and digital media have changed consumer expectations.

Brands are no longer perceived as vehicles for selling. Today, brands are personalities.

They are born and developed with a unique voice. They have distinct thoughts, even a soul. They live and function in the same world as their human architects. They interact and create relationships.

In response, brands must alter the way that they think and act, particularly when it comes to social media.

As a person-to-person platform, social media naturally lends itself to fostering consumer engagement and creating relationships. However, engineering this degree of personality into a brand’s social media presence can prove difficult.

Brands that are able to strategically utilize social media to position themselves as “people” will find that they resonate more profoundly.

To reach consumers on a more intimate level, keep the following in mind.

Pay attention to human instinct. While the use of big data to inform marketing decisions is undeniably powerful, brands must be careful not to replace human insight and emotional capacity—the ability of the brand to genuinely empathize, understand and listen to consumers.

Don’t underestimate the power of casual banter. Brands often opt to give their consumers an ultra-sharable, head-turning experience. But human relationships develop based on much simpler interactions, like casual chats. To this point, brands should not ignore the significance of lighthearted small talk or sharing everyday moments. Repeated positive exposure under insignificant circumstances can forge lasting and loyal relationships.

Recognize that your brand is part of a bigger conversation. We live in a world where brands have become both ambassadors of social change and expressions of consumer values. When a consumer buys into a brand, they are really buying into much more—they are buying into the character of that brand. An old proverb applies here: You are the company you keep. In a sense, consumers are letting their choices of brands speak for them. So what you say is that much more important.

With the rise of LinkedIn, the concept of “thought leadership” is a priority for brands.

But what does it mean? A thought leader is an individual or organization that prospects, clients, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in that individual or organization being the go-to source.

The buzz-worthiness makes sense: now that brands have multiple platforms to amplify their voice, they’re each competing to be the voice that rises above the rest.

When done effectively, it can elevate the brand above the noise—and add a human touch to the experience.

Take ownership of your expertise.

No one—despite what they may tell you—is an expert in absolutely everything. That’s why it’s important to know what you’re good at, and be laser-focused on it. Evaluate what your brand knows or does best, and look to your industry to see where you can fill in conversation gaps. From there, you can build key talking points and messaging that complements your brand and also brings value to industry chatter.

Speak to your customers (with potential customers in mind).

Once you’ve established your key messaging, envision who it is you’d like to talk to. Though audiences may vary, brands are almost always looking to speak directly to their customers. There is always value in this strategy, because it solidifies already valuable relationships while leaving the door open for growth. But it’s important to keep potential customers—and even competitors—in mind, too. Ask yourself what it is they’re craving or doing in the industry space, and adjust your message accordingly.

Reach them in expected (and unexpected) ways.

These days, you’re behind the curve if you’re not on social media. Of course you’ll want to reach your audience on those platforms, and many of your most valuable interactions will occur there. But think beyond Facebook and LinkedIn. Curate a weekly newsletter of valuable industry information, or better yet, write your own articles. Develop a media relations strategy that crafts your brand as an expert within news media as well.

There are endless ways to present information in a digital world.

But when part of your strategy involves communicating complicated research—a surefire way to showcase expertise and gravitas in your industry—few techniques are as effective as an infographic.

A successful infographic is capable of distilling complex research (or shoehorning expansive trends) into a clear and concise visual map. It allows audiences—often customers and potential customers—to instantly learn something about the industry, and about your brand.

When done right, an infographic can highlight industry leadership, while also providing a resource for customers.

Do the research.

The most beautiful or clever infographic means nothing without meaningful data. Start by compiling relevant research on the topic at hand. As trends emerge or as noteworthy statistics appear, it will become clear which topics you’ll want to focus on for a particular infographic.

Collaborate across departments.

This is the time to pull in members of the entire team. By allowing the data to inform the content, you’re already setting a powerful tone for visuals. But it requires input from designers, content developers, web developers and more to create an infographic that both stands out visually and adds depth to the brand.

Design to share.

Once the content and design strategy are pinned down, keep in mind your infographics will be most effective with legs. Focus on creating a clean, uncomplicated design that customers would be happy to share with each other via email, post to Facebook or LinkedIn, or pin to Pinterest.

Don’t forget the audience.

Before you get caught up in flashy graphics an interesting data, keep in mind you’re creating this content for a purpose—to connect with your audience. Focus on information that is first and foremost relevant to current and potential customers and industry leaders, and your infographic will do the work for you.

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