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Scenery in Devonport - Media Mortar | 7 key takeaways from the Australian Regional Tourism (ART) Convention

8 key takeaways from the Australian Regional Tourism (ART) Convention

By | Stories | No Comments

As a content marketing agency specialising in tourism, we work with regional tourism boards, operators and events A LOT (seriously, check out our portfolio).

We truly believe it’s the roads less travelled that provide the most exciting stories to tell, so it was a no-brainer for us to clear the schedule for the two-day Australian Regional Tourism Convention (ARTC) and learn from the best-in-regional-tourism-class.

For anyone working in this space – from local council, tourism organisations and professionals, to government bodies – ARTC is not to be missed. It’s the perfect forum to listen, learn and discuss the challenges and opportunities for regional areas.

This year’s conference kicked off with master of ceremonies Nigel Collin asking everyone in the room to finish this sentence: “I am the only person in the room who has…”

Sadly, due to Chatham House Rules, I can’t disclose any answers, but what I can share is the key learnings and takeaways from the conference, for those of you who couldn’t make it to Devonport this year.

Lighthouse in Devonport - Media Mortar | 7 key takeaways from the Australian Regional Tourism (ART) Convention1. Think inside the box instead of outside the box

“Knowing your constraints frees you to come up with solutions that are possible.”– Nigel Collin, Keynote Speaker.

How many times are we told to think outside the box? Nigel posed two important questions marketers rarely have the courage to ask clients:

  • Are those ‘outside-the-box’ solutions realistic?
  • Can and should they be implemented?

He suggested that instead we start by looking inside the box.

Imagine the four sides of the box represent budget, resources, location, and infrastructure (these can be exchanged for anything that is a restriction to your business). Once you know what your limitations are, you can find realistic solutions.

For a content marketing agency, and many others in the room (based on the discussions over pastries and a cup of tea), this was a true Oprah “aha moment.”

This insight has given us a fresh way to work with clients to determine what the sides of the box look like for them, to ensure we can deliver something that’s realistic. If you find us asking you to draw a box in a meeting, you’ll now know why.

2. Keep an empty chair at the table

“Look through the lens of the customers.” – Nigel Collin, Keynote Speaker.

It’s rumoured Richard Branson keeps an empty chair at the boardroom table, not because someone cancels last minute – but because the chair represents the customer. In Branson’s world, the customer is an equal stakeholder.

In our experience, plenty of brands say they are customer-first, but few actually are.

We’ve observed a correlation that often exists in regional communities – the smaller the destination, region or event, the higher the number of stakeholders – and often, there’s no customer seat at their boardroom table.

Instead of finding a solution that only fulfils the needs of the key stakeholders, it’s imperative that we look to the customer first and ask what are their wants or needs?

After all, what’s the point in working so hard to get customers to your destination, region or event if they can’t find what they are looking for once they get there?

Which brings us to takeaway number three…

Fundamental Espresso - Media Mortar | 7 key takeaways from the Australian Regional Tourism (ART) Convention3. Staff need to deliver the marketing promise

“A marketer can do a great job getting the customer to the region, but it all comes down to their experience when there.” – John Hart, Australian Chamber – Tourism

John asked questions we’ve often wondered when marketing tourism products across the country. Marketing is great, but do your staff on ground have the skills to deliver our marketing promise?

Do they believe in the brand? Are they passionate about delivering quality service?

If not, you’ve got a big problem and it’s not your marketing.

It’s not rocket science; we all know an exceptional visitor experience = positive word-of-mouth.

Take the host city Devonport for example. I’m sure I’m not alone in putting Devonport on my travel list for 2020 based on my experience from Fundamental Espresso, who remembered my name and coffee order after one day, to Charlotte Jack – a dining experience you’d expect to have in Melbourne, London or New York.

Good food – tick
Good coffee – tick
Exceptional service – tick

4. Look in your own backyard

“Look in your own backyard for your hero product.” – Steve Rosa, Destination Southern Highlands

Ever thought a humble pie could bring an additional one million dollars in visitor economy to a region from one year to the next? Well that’s the reality for Destination Southern Highlands who turned themselves into the Southern Pielands.

While doing a deep-dive to find something to attract travellers during the off season and change their waning visitor perception, they noticed that they had over 60 pie operators in their region.

Voila, an instant USP and one that turned out to be a crust above the rest.

So often in our marketing travels, we ask destinations and businesses to list their unique selling proposition (USP) but they can’t, quelle surprise. This is such a great example how a USP can be invented through a little navel gazing of what’s right under your nose.

Fundamental Espresso - Media Mortar | 7 key takeaways from the Australian Regional Tourism (ART) Convention5. Accessible Tourism needs to be more than an afterthought

“Ensuring product is ‘accessible ready’ can no longer be an afterthought.” – Giovanna Lever, Sparrowly Group

Have you ever been allocated a disabled room at a hotel? If not, lucky you – they’re ugly, sterile and lack any design elements that would normally leave a lasting impression. Picture a hospital room – you’re close.

With the accessible tourism market making up 25 per cent of all tourism spend in Australia and 10.8 billion travellers annually (that’s more than the Chinese market to give you context), why are we not talking about how to make the product better?

When working on product development with our regional tourism clients, we’ll be following the lead of Accor Hotels who are championing accessibility by creating “smart rooms” – with all the same design elements you’ll find in any other room, only accessible.

6. We can’t keep saying we’re “time poor”

“Focus on high value output.” – Ali Uren, Kiikstart

We’re all guilty of it. We’ve all uttered the words: “I’m busy/I don’t have enough time/I’m time poor,” then next minute you’re so far down the rabbit hole of Instagram you forgot what you were looking at in the first place.

After listening to Ali, we put it to you – are you really time poor, or are you just not focussing on high value output?

Why not swap scrolling for dedicated continued learning. Don’t delete blogs (like these) or other industry articles that pop into your inbox – read them.

Charlotte Jack - Media Mortar | 7 key takeaways from the Australian Regional Tourism (ART) Convention7. Flearn – it’s a word

“Flearn = failure + learning.” – Paul Matthews, Visit Victoria

Failure is ok if you learn from it, otherwise it’s just failure.

We all know that failure teaches us more than success ever will, so it’s important we’re prepared for it, given failing is a constant in the changing environment we live in.

If you’re able to learn from the failure and change the process or way of doing something to ensure the same mistake doesn’t happen again – you’ve mastered flearn.

*cue T-shirt printing #flearn*

ARTC convention - Media Mortar | 7 key takeaways from the Australian Regional Tourism (ART) Convention

8. Everyone faces the same challenges

This learning came from what happened outside the conference walls – everyone in tourism faces the same problems.

It was comforting to learn the regional tourism industry faces the similar challenges, whether you’re in Devonport or Dirranbandi, Longford or Longreach.

It was refreshing to meet other marketers who work in this space and are so open for collaboration rather than competition.

After one day exploring the Cradle Coast and two jam-packed days of learning more about regional tourism and meeting other regional tourism champions, I only have one regret. I departed without trying the local specially – scallop pie.

All the more reason to return to Devonport.

By Rochelle Vaisanen

When not climbing mountains on two wheels, Rochelle can be found on the hunt for the best almond croissant around town. A lover of good coffee, food and wine, and with a passion for travel, Rochelle is always on the lookout for new adventures locally and abroad.

The view overlooking the beach from Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection | Top 7 takeaways from ASTW convention Cairns

Top 7 takeaways from the ASTW Convention Cairns

By | Stories

In case you missed our Tropical North Queensland tans, we recently attended the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) 2019 convention in Cairns.

It was a sun-filled weekend of networking, learning about trends in the tourism industry and soaking up all North Queensland has to offer.

It wasn’t all fun and games though. Our team also assisted the Tourism Tropical North Queensland in providing famil and itinerary coordination support to over 100 domestic travel media across 15 different pre and post famils – #wedidit.

If you were suffering a case of FOMO while we were gone, we’ve collected our top takeaways from the 2019 ASTW convention.

1. Tropical North Queensland is the perfect destination for a travel convention

There’s something about Cairns. From the moment you step off the plane, feel the sunshine on your skin and warm tropical breeze – something clicks within. Peak holiday mode is activated – and that’s before you’ve even left Cairns Airport.

Hannah Statham Cairns Airport | Top 7 takeaways from the ASTW convention Cairns

Tropical vibes also courtesy of BossHan in the food hall.

There’s no conference chaos in Cairns. In fact, it’s hard to get stressed when you have tropical beaches, cultural experiences as well as two heritage-listed sites – the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef – a stone’s throw from the convention centre.

Throw in 300 days of sunshine per year, an average temperature of 28 degrees and you can see why Tropical North Queensland is the perfect location for what happens apres-conference as well.

2. Riley is a little bit of paradise

Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection | Top 7 takeaways from the ASTW convention Cairns

Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection lagoon pool

In the case of the ASTW conference, we took over Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection – one of Cairns’ newest hotels and only five-star accommodation in the CBD.

The hotel is located on The Esplanade (beachfront) and combines style and luxury, without feeling pretentious while it does it.

As conference guests, we were peppered throughout Riley’s 300 rooms, treated to their three exclusive dining areas (Paper Crane, Greenfields and Cairns’ highest rooftop bar – Rocco) and dived into their 1000 square metre lagoon pool, naturally.

The convention delegates were also some of the first guests to take a behind the scenes tour of Crystalbrook Collection’s sister properties Bailey and Flynn too, which we’ll be excited to sample in 2020 if (no, when) we make it back.

3. Local food shines bright

Many conferences are known for average food – stodgy sandwich fingers and cakes and biscuits from a packet – but not this one.

There was no need to whip out the ‘I’m on a diet’ talk – everything was fresh and healthy. Think make-your-own poke bowls, fresh and local in season tropical fruits, noodle boxes, smoothies and homemade sweet treats (including the vegan kind).

In keeping with this epicurean event, the ASTW gala dinner was catered by Palm Cove’s award-winning restaurant, Nunu.
Chef Nick’s paddock to plate philosophy reigned supreme with the likes of Tablelands pork belly, Innisfail heart of palm, locally sourced fish, beef and tropical fruits. We’re not kidding when we say people were fighting over their alternate drop choices and literally licking their plates clean.

4. Content is still king

Media Mortar ASTW sponsors | Top 7 takeaways from the ASTW convention Cairns

Look Ma, we sponsored an event!

If you’ve read this post of ours, you’ll know we are living in a world of storytelling and creating captivating content to engage with customers – and the first panel at the conference hit it home.

With consumer attention spans getting shorter and shorter, the topic for discussion was how do we create content that makes a strong connection with consumers?

Tourism Australia, Destination Canada, Tourism New Zealand and G Adventures led with insights, with a key theme that emotional connection is marketing’s secret sauce.

Our note pads were full with the following tips:

  • Make an impact – use humour and emotion to tell your story
  • Stay on message and stick to your brand values
  • Gritty is the new pretty – consider a switch to using unbranded content rather than over-polished TVCs
  • If your story is shit, no one will care
  • If you don’t have the big budgets, get creative – try crowd sourcing sites like Genero to find someone who will work for your budget
  • Create content for the long-term that can be integrated across multiple platforms – EDMs, social media etc

5. Even the most seasoned of travellers will experience travel disasters

It’s not every day you get to listen to travel writing royalty. The keynote speaker, Tony Wheeler the creator of Lonely Planet, undoubtably wears the crown in the travel writing community.

Considering Tony has more passport stamps than most, having travelled professionally for most of his life, he shared some insights on his favourite and not so favourite experiences.

Across the hour his travel tales proved that even the most seasoned of travellers have travel disasters along the road.

Hot tip: he said he wouldn’t bother with the Maldives. Good news for the rest of us who couldn’t afford it anyway!

6. With great social media power, comes great social media responsibility

Social media trends in tourism panel | 7 top takeaways from the ASTW convention Cairns

Spotto BossHan on the Tourism and Social Media Trends panel

It was fitting that the topic of responsible travel was a focus of the social media panel given the conference’s location at Riley who are leading the way with what they call #responsibleluxury.

MM’s own #BossHan was a panellist and championed along with the other speakers that social media influencers and social media account managers have a part to play in over-tourism and representing safe behaviour.

According to BossHan “it’s about always promoting safe practice and following a leave only footsteps philosophy”.

“Often times we come unstuck because we aren’t familiar with the region and that an influencer has crossed a barrier to take the photo. As social media experts, it’s our job to remove such pictures and only promote the consumer experience.”

“The days of doing it for the ‘gram are over.”

7. Travel is an opportunity to learn new experiences and meet wonderful people

Cairns Esplanade | Top 7 takeaways from the ASTW convention

Magic hour on the Cairns Esplanade

While we walked away with new knowledge from the conference, what we really walked away from the ASTW convention with was new friends.

The ASTW convention proved what we know and love about the travel community. It brings people together and welcomes newbies with open arms.

The tourism industry might be a small community, but it has a big heart, and life-long friendships to be made. We think that in itself is worth celebrating.

Here’s cheers to the 2019 ASTW convention in Cairns and a warm hello to the 2020 convention taking place in the Whitsundays. See you there?

Kristy Media Mortar
By Kristy de Git

If they were handing out PHDs for organisation, Kristy would be first in line to collect the scroll. She’s master of a to do list, which is why she’s aptly in charge of content at Media Mortar.

Brigalow Western Downs | Image by Alex Coppo

Storyselling: why stories drive sales

By | Stories

A wise man (Seth Godin) once said “marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell” and in our opinion, these are words to plan your marketing strategy by.

We strongly advocate that stories have the power to drive sales, because they have the ability to empower action in the recipient; something gratuitous data dumps (aka sales campaigns) rarely achieve.

This has never become more important for Australian products and services, because we can’t compete on price, but we can on story. This is particularly pertinent for the tourism industry, where our beaches compete with Bali and forests with Fiji and competing on price is like agreeing to letting the other side win.

Folks, it’s time to start leading your marketing with stories not sales.

Let’s start with a history lesson

Western Downs storytelling project | Storyselling: why stories drive sales | Image by Alex CoppoWe get a good chuckle when marketers tout storytelling as a new marketing trend. It’s probably the oldest marketing trick in the book. In fact, humans have been telling stories for more than 40,000 years.

Whether you grew up on Dreamtime stories, fairytales or fables, chances are you’ve been on the receiving end of a storytelling strategy since you were old enough to hold an attention span.

Us humans are even subconsciously hardwired to love stories; we dream in stories and daydream in narrative.

You only have to watch a good documentary to know stories have an ability to make us think, feel, laugh and cry – leaving an impact long beyond the end credits.

Take the documentary Super Size Me for example, which had the power to drive a multi-billion-dollar industry to action.

Neurologically speaking stories are powerful

How storytelling affects the brain | Storyselling: why stories drive sales

The power of storytelling is more than just recorded in the history books, it’s heavily documented by science. Our brains hear statistics and numbers, but they feel stories.

This is because stories tap straight into a larger section of the brain that controls emotions and makes decisions, undoubtedly the part of the cortex every marketer in the room would prefer to be speaking.

When your brain hears a story, depending on the plot line, it releases one of three powerful chemicals which empower us to take action: dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins.

  • Give your audience a dose of dopamine and you’ll create focus, motivation, memory
  • Release your audience’s oxytocin and you’ll leave them feeling more generous, trusting, leaving them with a greater bond to storyteller
  • Pump up your audience’s endorphins and they’ll feel creative, relaxed and more focused

Take this commercial from American Greeting Cards, for example. We think you’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel the power of this story.

Can you imagine the difference had they lead with a Mother’s Day Card for $6.99?

Importantly, campaigns that lead with sales, numbers, deals and discounts, release a completely different chemical reaction in the brain.

Sales campaigns are proven to increase the audience’s adrenaline and cortisol, making them intolerant, irritable, uncreative, critical and forgetful. Hardly the qualities you want on your side if you’re trying to convert a customer, is it?

As marketers, we’re often measured on conversion KPIs. So, where do stories come in?

Flinton Races Western Downs | Storyselling: why stories drive sales | Image by Krista EppelstunIt’s critical that we create emotional experience for our customers in order to create conversion.

If the history and science is anything to go by, the success formula is simple:

Stories = Trust
Trust = Transactions
Therefore, by our calculations, stories = sales

Our experience and portfolio proves storytelling delivers three-fold; stories build awareness, improve sentiment and drive conversion. We challenge you to name a business that doesn’t list all three in their strategic marketing plan.

But don’t just take our word for it. A recent Digital Marketing Institute study reported a higher yield from storytelling (compared with sales) to the tune of 20 times over.

Got the theory, what comes next?

Chinchilla Watermelons | Storyselling: why stories drive sales | Image by Krista EppelstunIn our view, good storytelling only needs to achieve two things:

  1. It needs to capture attention
  2. It must transport the recipient to a different world

The good news is that most brands are already in the business of content marketing and storytelling. The bad news is that not all stories told are good.

That’s why we created a seven-step guide to making sure your stories are set up for success (link coming soon!)

There is one enemy to storytelling

Drillham Western Downs | Storyselling: why stories drive sales | Image by Alex CoppoAt Content Marketing World (an international event that draws content marketers from all over the world) – Content Marketing Institute Joe Pulizzi, argued storytelling has one threat – lack of understanding.

He said storytelling initiatives rarely got shut down because of poor performance; instead they are killed because the people who provide the funding for content marketing don’t understand it.

We’d take Joe’s point one step further, and strongly argue it’s decision by coalition that dilutes the power of stories.

We often see one story get presented to a wider marketing team who each add input, layer stakeholder feedback and in effect, diluting the power of the story (often) with every amendment.

If you’re a marketer, we implore you to argue the benefits of marketing and fight its value. The first marketing any marketer needs to do these days is the value of storytelling in the face of broader teams who still know and trust sales.

We’re passionate about creating more storytelling advocates so the power of stories can be passed on for generations to come.

Given the focus on storytelling, it feels remiss not to finish this post with two little words. The End.

By Hannah Statham

Hannah Statham is The Boss at Media Mortar. She’s a heavy weight wordsmith, punching with puns, analogies and metaphors that leave readers wanting more. When she’s not refreshing her Instagram feed, you’ll find Hannah walking her rescue greyhound Olivia.

Redcliffe Lookout | Pitch Perfect: How to get publicity for your business

Pitch Perfect: How to get publicity for your business

By | Stories

There might be no such thing as bad publicity – but what if you’ve got no publicity?

That’s the reality for lots of small businesses we work with, who don’t have a PR plan, let alone well-practiced pitches to land their product, brand or services in front of the media.

The good news is PR, unlike ER, is something you can DIY yourself. We’ve got you covered with these tips – tried and tested during our one-on-one sessions with tourism operators up and down the State.

But first, let’s just make sure we’re all on the same PR-page

Fish & Chips Redcliffe | Pitch Perfect: How to get publicity for your businessWhen we talk about publicity, it’s so much more than just coverage in a newspaper, magazine or TV show (although that would be nice).

PR by our definition means anybody other than yourself talking about your business/brand, which opens the remit to digital influencers, your own social media channels, a thought-leader in your industry talking about you or just a niche community group spruiking your product like a mini-marketing machine you don’t pay.

If you’ve read this post, you’ll know how important it is to have someone else talk about your business/brand because it acts as an endorsement.

What we know is third-party referrals create trust in your business/brand and where there’s trust there’s a transaction.

If you picture PR like the best word-of-mouth referral you’ve received, only attached to a megaphone, it makes sense why marketers consider publicity one of the most effective methods to convert customers and core pillar of their marketing strategy.

But PR is a double-edged sword – and not just because publicity can be good or bad

Redcliffe Beach | Pitch Perfect: How to get publicity for your businessThe good news (for small business owners at least) is that publicity is generally the cheapest form of consumer marketing. You won’t need Facebook dollars or lucrative newspaper placements to win the PR-game – just man-hours and generally, lots of them.

With publicity, what you give up in exchange for price, is control over what people say about you.

If you want to control the message, you’ll need to pay for an advertisement where you get the opportunity to choose the words, images and design.

Remember, with advertising you pay for it. With PR you pray for it.

Enough small talk, how do you get publicity?

Know the media first

Pimms in Redcliffe | Pitch Perfect: How to get publicity for your businessSending your cute local story to a national newspaper is a sure-fire way to waste your own time. Don’t do that. Your time is too precious to be shooting blank pitches.

Before getting started, ask yourself:

  • Is this a national story? e.g. will Australia care
  • Is it a State story? e.g. will your State care
  • Is it a local story? E.g. will the local area care

Also ask yourself seriously, does anyone care? We totally get why you might love your business … but that doesn’t make it newsworthy. Sorry.

Before preparing your pitch, learn about individual publications, what they write about and how often they publish to create a bespoke proposition for the publication.

Knowing your publication will increase your chance of publicity exponentially for two main reasons:

  1. You can speak to them at the right time
  2. You can speak to the right person

Timing is everything

In regional Australia, some papers only print weekly, so missing the deadline by as much as a day could mean your news is no longer newsworthy by the time of the next publication.

We’ve seen poor planning from event organisers render their ‘pre-promote’ press release completely useless by missing the deadline of their local paper – all because no one diarised the paper’s print dates.

Write to the right person

Redcliffe Markets | Pitch Perfect: How to get publicity for your businessIn researching publications, get to know their reporters and what they will write about. In bigger publications the journalists who write about property, won’t be the ones writing about education. Knowing who’s who in the zoo is as easy as reading and watching your desired publication before reaching out to them.

A bit like sending a local story to a national level, there’s no point contacting the restaurant reporter with your event story … unless of course it’s got a food truck handing out bags of cash rather than burgers – that story is newsworthy.

A quick Google search will usually reveal your pitch’s ideal recipient – remember to keep your eyes peeled for titles like editor, photo editor, chief of staff or news desk.

Cook up an angle

Dining in Redcliffe | Pitch Perfect: How to get publicity for your businessIt’s time to get sharp about your angle, which is going to involve some business / brand navel gazing.

No matter how big your business / brand is – not every story is worthy of attention. Can you imagine how long and boring the news would be if journalists covered every single story that was pitched to them?

Start by asking yourself, what’s so interesting about what you want to tell the media? Be really firm as you ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is your angle newsworthy aka how big a deal is this and who will care?
  2. If it’s not newsworthy, is it quirky enough to get away with not being newsworthy? “Man bites dog” is certainly more compelling than a story about a dog who bites a man.
  3. Is your story timely? Remember that today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper (proverbially now) and if it’s not new, it’s not news.

If it’s not clear to you, chances are the angle won’t be clear to anyone else. It’s ok to abort mission. The timing might not be right for PR for you.

Create a pitch

Redcliffe Beach | Pitch Perfect: How to get publicity for your businessWith an audience in mind and an angle up your sleeve, you’re ready to create a pitch.

We always recommend practicing your pitch out loud before it goes out into the world. You’ll find the way you orally tell someone a story filters the most important information first – and you’ll have yourself a news pyramid almost every time.

To double check you have everything you need – go back to your year two storytelling recipe of who, what, when, where, why and how to make sure these are all covered off in your pitch.

Once you can explain what makes your story so special, you’re ready to pitch in the wild.

Does it need to be a press release?

Hornibrook Highway | Pitch Perfect: How to get publicity for your business

The Internet is full of opinions on the matter – but our advice is that if you’re a small business and don’t need quotes approved by management, there’s really no need to go to the lengths of writing one up. Phew!

It’s just as effective to pitch your story either by a succinctly worded email, list of dot points or a phone call. Remember media get inundated with emails – so keep things short, snappy and succinct.

If you’ve got images to support the story, why not let them do the talking? Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.

When should you follow up?

Redcliffe Beach | Pitch Perfect: How to get publicity for your businessYou’ve sent your pitch out to the world, and you’ve been return served with silence. Ahhh, the joys of PR.

Journalists and producers are busy (and so are you) – so it’s good to place a follow up call, email – even just to obtain a hard no so you can close the chapter on that pitch. If that’s the case, go back to the basics, perhaps you didn’t put the right angle into the right hands. Don’t give up.

If you happen to have a PR-win, make sure you have Google Alerts set up to help capture the coverage so you can spruik it!

In our experience, nothing drives competitors more wild than a positive PR story in your favour.

If you’re looking to dial up your Public Relations efforts, our Content Crew will be more than happy to help.

By Hannah Statham

Hannah Statham is The Boss at Media Mortar. She’s a heavy weight wordsmith, punching with puns, analogies and metaphors that leave readers wanting more. When she’s not refreshing her Instagram feed, you’ll find Hannah walking her rescue greyhound Olivia.

Media Mortar - customer reviews

The marketing secret sauce every business needs: customer reviews

By | Stories

Did you know the most powerful marketing department in the world has no budget and makes no marketing plans?

Who is this elusive marketing team and how the hell do I employ them?

They’re consumers – and good news, there’s billions of them out there.

Collectively, they make up the world’s largest marketing team and what they have to say about your product, brand or service will likely make up more than two thirds of your marketing efforts (Mark Schaefer).

It therefore pays to spend time listening and working with what your customers are saying about you.

If you haven’t dabbled in the world of online reviews – it’s time you did.

This consumer army are walking megaphones for your brand – and as business owners, it’s your responsibility to funnel some of their thoughts, comments and feelings into a place that you can use to your benefit.

Dip your toe into the world of online reviews with this guide to customer reviews and managing your online reputation.

Why do reviews work

Media Mortar - customer reviewsThere’s plenty of reasons we know reviews work, but they all boil down to the social proof and endorsement that your product is one worth investing in.

This is a big deal when we know consumers are drowning in the constant firehose of information and advertisements, with reviews turning a position of distrust into confidence.

If there’s one thing you take from this post, it’s that customers only tend to think you’re good when someone else does.

Think about it – do you choose the restaurant that’s empty or the one that’s only got a few tables left?

Our theory is backed by stats, and 92% of consumers read (and are influenced by) online reviews Trust Pilot. And, they’re not satisfied with one review either. 73% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to six reviews (Vendata) – proof you’re going to want to start building that review bank.

How do you encourage reviews?

We get it, asking someone to write reviews is up there on the list of awkward conversations (albeit second to telling a stranger they have food in their teeth), but it doesn’t need to be. Try these sure-fire ways to get the reviews rolling in.
Ask for a review

It might seem obvious, but when was the last time your local coffee shop asked you to leave a review for them? My guess is never.

You don’t have to go on the hard sales approach but an honest “we’re working really hard at the moment to build our online reviews because it helps us attract more business, if you had two minutes, I’d be so grateful for you to tell us what you think online” – will start to clock up more stars than the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Of course, you can be selective with who (and when) you ask for a review to help ensure you’re inviting five-star reviews – but remember – asking is the first step towards receiving.

Tip: Just as a reporter prefers to get quotes and comments from a footballer as the final whistle blows, your best chance of obtaining a review from a customer is the minute they finish their service with you. The minute they’ve finished, they’ve moved onto the next big thing and your moment is hijacked.

Put up signage and links to where people can review you

You’d already know customers are distracted creatures – so it doesn’t hurt to add signs around your physical address asking customers to leave a review on your preferred channel.

Signage will also help keep your reviews partially contained, by funnelling them to where you want. This is important if you’re a time poor business owner, and don’t necessarily want to be community managing Facebook reviews on top of Google ones.

Better than signage, add a link to your eNewsletters to reduce the work for your customer down to a single click. A good time to drop a ‘review me link’ to your customer dialogue is when you’re thanking your customers for their business.

Incentivise your reviews

Media Mortar - customer reviewsWhile offering a free service in return for a five-star review is probably going to have Aus Trade cracking down with a bribery claim, there’s nothing wrong with a little incentive to get the ball rolling on the review-front.

It’s not just the customer you might like to incentivise. Incentivising your staff will go a long way to keeping the reviews rolling in.

Our recent house removalists, although exhausted, took the time to show us how to leave a Google review (and I absolutely humoured them so I could watch this social experiment roll out). When I pressed their urgency to get a review then and there, they disclosed they have a competition back at head office and a carton of beer was on the line for the team with the most reviews. Incentive enough for our two removalists to work their arses off for their five stars, which we happily gave.

Give reviews to other people

Riddle us this, what would Quid Pro Quo be without the Quo? Just a one-sided favour. Try a push/pull principle with your online reviews by dishing out reviews to your favourite businesses yourselves. What you’ll probably find is any review you put out is returned by a review in.

Like anything in life, when you scratch someone’s back, they’re more likely to scratch yours.

Now that you have reviews, what next?

In a world where everyone is faced with not enough content and too many channels, we strongly encourage you to use testimonials as a content opportunity.

We always say every piece of content created for the business should be cut, carved and cooked into more content – like a babushka doll of opportunities.

If you even have as little as one testimonial, you have a world of opportunities. Here’s a few of our favourite ways to create more content magic from a single testimonial:

1. Create quote tiles for your social media accounts using free apps like Canva or custom designed tiles. We made this one recently based on glowing feedback left on Google for us.

2. Add a face to name by filming a video testimonial or a still photo. Here’s one we recently prepared for a client, Active Build.

3. Start a bank of kind words to send with your creds document to potential new clients. This could be developed into a simple document that you send out, or more formalised in a brochure like this one.

4. Add the testimonial to your website – and importantly, update the testimonials on your website regularly.

5. Share kind words in your eNewsletter program as a regular segment.

In case you’re still scared about chasing down reviews in fear of what people will say, we’ll leave this stat here from Social Media Today: 75% of reviews posted on review websites are positive.

We’d love to know, how do you encourage reviews and testimonials about your business?

By Hannah Statham

Hannah Statham is The Boss at Media Mortar. She’s a heavy weight wordsmith, punching with puns, analogies and metaphors that leave readers wanting more. When she’s not refreshing her Instagram feed, you’ll find Hannah walking her rescue greyhound Olivia.

Women in Tourism - Media Mortar

7 tips for adapting to change in the workplace

By | Stories

“It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is the one that is able to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself” – Charles Darwin

I was recently asked to speak on a Women in Tourism panel about adapting to change in the workplace – a topic I could talk under wet cement about.

Throughout my career, I’ve changed not just roles and organisations – but industries too – switching law for marketing approximately one billable unit in.

I’ve worked for small business, big business, private and public sectors, and I can tell you, none of these moves compare to the change of waving goodbye to a regular pay cheque and starting my entrepreneurial journey.

The past two years have taught me plenty of lessons (more on that over here) about change – arming me with a better appreciation for it and making me an expert at adapting to it.

If you’re struggling with change in your career, these are my tips (and a few collated from the epic line up of panellists at the Women in Tourism Brisbane event) to staying calm through the chaos.

Tip 1: There’s only one thing more terrifying than change…

Women in Tourism - Media MortarAnd it’s the thought of never changing at all. If you keep in the back of your mind that change is a chance to grow, develop and improve, you’ll never look at change in the same way again.

Tip 2: The best way to prepare for change is anticipate it

Sure, you don’t have a crystal ball to know what’s around the corner, but that’s what contingency plans and budgets were invented for. In our business, we have contingency plans for most things – which really do help me sleep at night.

We keep a separate ballast for unexpected expenses, we keep the door open for interns so our potential recruitment list is only a phone call away if any staff leave in a hurry (if they’re reading this, please don’t) and we diversify our clients across different industries in case one industry (e.g. construction) completely bottoms out.

Take it from me, keeping a plan B up your sleeve (usually) costs nothing to make and will help take change in your stride.

Tip 3: In times of change keep an eye on the long-term vision, let plans change

Women in Tourism - Media MortarI encourage you to let change de-rail plans, but whatever you do, don’t let change de-rail your business vision. Your vision is your roadmap for the future – and while you can detour your path to get there, you always need to ensure your business GPS is still coded with a destination.

In our case, the vision for Media Mortar is to be Australia’s leading content creation agency – and as The Boss, it’s my job to keep my eyes firmly planted on where we want to go, even if roadblocks and detours get put in our path.

Tip 4: Make shorter plans

Gone are the days of five-year plans, at least in marketing where technology and consumer behaviour changes faster than you can plot a Gantt chart. When it comes to content for our clients, we write our plans fortnightly or monthly – and for larger clients requiring further sign off, quarterly. Our own business plans are even drafted quarterly. We find this more manageable with three core focusses rather than an overwhelming laundry list of things that need to get done (for more psychology on this, read The Power of Less in my recommended business readings).

We find our quarterly plans are nimble and agile enough to withstand significant change, and personally, I feel more in control of the change when we don’t have an enormous strategy document completely de-railed.

Tip 5: Diversify your team

Media Mortar - Women in TourismIt’s a given not everyone loves change – so prepare for that. Build teams that are stacked with a mixture of personalities, each with a different appetite for change. You don’t want an entire team who run towards change constantly, but equally you don’t want one that shies from it either.

I’ve used Gallup Strength finder to help assess appetite to change and risk in team members before – and I find DISC profiling incredibly helpful in finding out how people are hard-wired. It won’t just make you better at adapting to change but managing people and their communications methods too. If anyone is guessing, I am a D.

Tip 6: Communicate change

It’s one thing to be the instigator of change and another to be at the receiving end of it. If you’re an instigator or driver of change, be sure to communicate change to the whole team. I’ve seen too many times hallway whispers spreading based on restructures that were never afoot – and where there is smoke, there’s fire and staff disaccord.

Tip 7: Accept periods of change are hard

Women in Tourism - Media MortarInstagram is full of quotes that promote the benefits of change: “if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you” which are probably more suited to a personal training studio than the office.

I think it’s important to call out, not all career change is good and not all change is easy. I’d just remind you not every moment of your life requires you to play a leading role. During periods of change, it’s ok to be the back-up or supporting actress to parts of your life. Especially in times of immense change I prefer this quote: “You can have everything you want in life. Just not all at once”. So be patient.

And remember, all change will pass.

What tips do you have for adapting to change?

By Hannah Statham

Hannah Statham is The Boss at Media Mortar. She’s a heavy weight wordsmith, punching with puns, analogies and metaphors that leave readers wanting more. When she’s not refreshing her Instagram feed, you’ll find Hannah walking her rescue greyhound Olivia.

8 steps to building your online strategy

By | Stories

If we had a dollar for every person who told us “I don’t need an online strategy”, we’d be swinging in hammocks on an island far away.

The short answer and premise for the next 1000 words is this: if you’re selling a product or service to customers, an online strategy is a non-negotiable for your business.

In Australia alone, 88% of our population is online and 69% are active social media users (We Are Social, 2018 Digital Report). So without an online strategy you’re not just fishing without dynamite, you’re fishing without bait.

The good news is that setting an online marketing strategy isn’t as tricky as it sounds. It boils down to a plan that will have your audience buying your product, service or tickets – and going for your brand hook, line and sinker.

If you like where this is going, settle yourself in for our tips for writing your online strategy.

1. Write a marketing plan

Media Mortar - customer reviewsIt all begins with a marketing plan. Your marketing plan doesn’t need to be a tome, filled with pie graphs and Gantt charts. Hell no.

Just Follow the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) theory with these inclusions – even if it means your marketing plan looks more like a shopping list than a governing document for the business:

Step 1:

Identify your target market – who are you selling to and why would they purchase from you? If you’re having trouble identifying ‘your people’, check out our Social Media Handbook which has a whole appendix to troubleshoot this problem.

Step 2:

Set out your business goals and objectives for the next 12 months and ensure they are measurable and achievable. Put simply – what do you want to achieve? Do you want more followers in your database? More revenue? Sell the business? More efficiency? Something else?

Step 3:

Once you know who you are talking to and what you’d like them to do (step 1 and 2), it’s time to determine a marketing strategy. Forget the scary ‘S’ word, this is about how you plan on reaching your customers, who likely form part of the 88% and hang out online.

If you’re looking for something a bit more detailed than our three step strategy, the Australian Government has a great online template to get you started.

2. Build your customer personas

As marketing guru and author Seth Godin says, “everyone is not your customer and you cannot market to everyone the same way”.

This means you need to know who you’re targeting and where to place your marketing efforts – customer personas (aka little biographies that personify your customers based on real data you’ve gathered from your existing clients) can help with this.

For example, if you’re selling a beach resort holiday, your customer persona could be Holly Holiday, a 25 year old office worker in Brisbane City who is dedicated to climbing the corporate ladder and rarely takes a break (even though she needs one).

Your marketing challenge has narrowed from trying to capture the whole world who wants a holiday, to how you will capture Holly Holiday’s attention and what marketing content will likely encourage her to take a holiday at your beach resort.

If you need assistance finding or writing your personas, our content crew can help.

3. Identify your customer acquisition process

If you’re looking to attract new customers, the first place to start is a deep dive of your current customer journey. Map how your existing customers interact with your business from finding you, right through to paying their final invoice and beyond.

Your starting point is how customers currently find you. Are they coming through from word of mouth? Is it blog content with a strong SEO component? Social media ads targeting potential customers?

Then, once you have the customers attention and they’ve made a purchase with you, what experience are you offering them through the booking transaction? Are they receiving personalised service from you to get them excited for their experience?

After their experience, did you give them the most amazing service that will leave them so satisfied they may want to book another experience? Or refer a friend or even write a positive review online?

By identifying each of the touchpoints you have with your customers, you can start to plot out your online strategy – because your strategy needs to connect with the customer before, during and after their purchase with you.

4. List your current online activities

Like all business owners, there’s only a number of business assets at your fingertips. Start by listing your current online activities and assets and what you’re doing to attract potential customers to your business.

List these out so you can see an overview of your online marketing activities – you might be surprised to see how much work you’ve already been doing! Here’s a free download to a marketing channel asset audit template we’ve prepared earlier to make it easier to spot any marketing gaps.

After a self-assessment, it might be a good time to look at what online tools you can use to support your online activities. Tools such as social media scheduling tools, email marketing software and online booking/ticketing functionalities to make your online marketing techniques seamless (and make your life a little easier too).

5. Planning your online strategy

Media Mortar - customer reviewsWith targets set on your audiences back (step 1 and 2) and your marketing weapons in your hands (step 3 and 4), you’re ready to plan and launch your online strategy with bullseye accuracy.

For example, if your goal is to grow your online sales you might increase your regular eNews sends, offer sale codes, introduce (and market) AfterPay and make targeted social media posts promoting your product using Instagram and Facebook’s shop function.

7. Attack of the strategy

With your strategy in place, create a plan of attack and put these ideas into action!

We always recommend creating a six or 12 month action plan (plan any longer and your digital marketing techniques could well be out of date!) on what online activities you’re going to achieve and when you plan on instigating them.

This doesn’t need to be fancy. It could be something as simple as a spreadsheet that’s broken down into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually marketing activities – whichever system works for you.

Remember your online strategy shouldn’t just be social media. Social media is just one tool to support what you sell.

8. Reporting and measurement

Finally, track your online marketing activities to see what worked and what didn’t work. Whether you use Google Analytics for your website, eNewsletter statistics or social media engagement, it’s important to measure and review your marketing activities to ensure you’re on track with supporting your business goals.

Remember, some marketing techniques take time and might not command instant results.

Happy strategising!

Kristy Media Mortar
By Kristy de Git

If they were handing out PHDs for organisation, Kristy would be first in line to collect the scroll. She’s master of a to do list, which is why she’s aptly in charge of content at Media Mortar.

End of Financial Year celebrations | 18/19 year in review

18/19 A Year in Review

By | Stories

End of Financial Year for small businesses is like January 1 for the #fitspo community – a time to go gungho with new goals, laser-focussed determination and energy to do things a little differently.

Before we turn a new leaf and throw ourselves straight into the next year, next project and next hire, it’s important that we stop and look at how far we’ve come – what we did, what we learnt and what we could do better if we had the chance to do it all again.

Put your seat belt on as we drop gears and into reverse to look at our 18/19 year in review.

What we did

Daintree Ice Cream Company

On set for Tourism & Events Queensland’s ‘Taste the State’ campaign

Identifying a few stand out moments in any given year is hard, but in a year where we won three awards – a Bronze Effie for efficient content marketing for Discover Ipswich, a Queensland Retail Property Award for our digital influencer program with Brisbane Airport and the Queensland Tourism Young Achiever award – it’s even harder.

To pick just three highlights to focus on, we looked at what projects really set our souls on fire and where we hope to place more of our focus for the 19/20 financial year.

Taking out top spot – the re-development of the Outback Queensland Travellers Guide was a major milestone moment for Media Mortar. For us, the guide’s transformation from 116 pages of mis-matched editorial, penned by more than 17 different stakeholders, to an editorially curated, consumer-facing resource is a true reflection of our marketing philosophy that stories drive sales. It took not just intense project management but stakeholder relations to deliver the final product – something we’ve been edging towards for the past two years. View the transformation for yourself and download the guide to plan your own outback adventure.

Joining the Travellers Guide on the podium this year, is our production management of Tourism & Events Queensland’s Taste the State campaign. As the production arm to Creative Agency, Firme, we were responsible for production managing the four-part series, which took us to all corners of the State. The results are a perfect blend of people, place and produce – and certainly leave you smacking your lips for more. We always say good production looks easy, and we hope that’s what our crew and talent thought about their experience working with us.

By no means a bronze position, our work with Queensland Tourism Industry Council in delivering an eight part digital-ready program across the State is a 2019 highlight. In partnership with our colleagues at Tourism Tribe, we were asked to deliver digital-ready workshops to tourism operators up and down the State. Teaching up to 55 tourism operators at a time the nuances of social media is the kind of work that makes our hearts sing. Seeing our attendees implement the skills they’ve learnt with us in their business is one thing, but to hear them already see revenue-returns is even better. To do more of the work we love, we’ve even launched our own Media Mortar Live sessions for businesses (from any industry) wanting to take their content to new heights, any time of the year.

What we learnt

Outback Travellers Guide

The new-look Outback Queensland Travellers’ Guide

If failure teaches you more than success ever does, we’re happy to open the book on some of the learnings we’ll be taking forward into the 19/20 financial year.

The first one is getting a seat at the strategy table early. Most colleagues of ours have the same problem – a client sends out a tender, we issue a response, if successful, we deliver the project to the specifications, even if there was perhaps a better way to achieve the desired objective or outcome.

Our goal this year is to be more vocal at the RFQ-stage to make sure the work we deliver sets out what it was meant to achieve. We hope this will avoid stalemates when a project is delivered to specification, but still won’t achieve what it set out to do by the nature of its design. As experts in delivering marketing results, we want to be able to flex our strategy-muscle and help inform the tactical response rather than just deliver it.

Separate to this, we’re also going to work at better managing time frame roadblocks. Like most other Brisbane content marketing agencies, all our major work is usually delivered in Q3 and 4 when client’s start running down their end of financial year budget. This can mean we find ourselves on the hamster wheel, churning through creative work, without enough white space to allow new ideas to ‘drop in’ for months at a time. This financial year, we’re getting more digitally driven – using technology tools to help us work smarter to see these potential roadblocks. Our ‘work smarter’ approach starts right from our to-do lists. As of this week, we’re waving goodbye to word document to-do lists and scheduling everything online with Asana and we’re excited.

What we could do better

Award-winning work with Ipswich

Award-winning work for Discover Ipswich

There’s an old saying that money flows where energy flows – and that quote deserves to be written up on our wall in neon lights for 2020 because like most people, we need to get better at getting into flow.

If you’ve seen our recommended reading list, you’ll know we’re suckers for professional development books, especially Gay Hendricks’ The Big Leap. Hendricks defines everyone’s working state into four groups – zone of incompetence, competence, excellence and genius – which each reflect your proficiency at a skill.

As a team, we’re dedicating planning time this July to identify our respective zones of genius and re-allocating responsibilities so we can spend more time on tasks that we’re simply hard-wired to be better at than the next person.

Already this process has revealed a weekly task (organising the team’s workflow) was in my zone of competence, and could easily be transferred into Kristy’s zone of genius. By simply reallocating who is in charge of the team’s weekly WIP document, means we can each spend more time doing the work we love.

With plans like this already underway to optimise our performance, we’re proud to be starting the year more organised than ever before. You heard it here first, Media Mortar is officially primed for a big year ahead. So, if you’re planning your content marketing for 19/20, now’s a great time to get in touch. Just don’t be afraid if we ask for a seat at the strategy table (hello, 18/19 learning) – hello@mediamortar.com.au

By Hannah Statham

Hannah Statham is The Boss at Media Mortar. She’s a heavy weight wordsmith, punching with puns, analogies and metaphors that leave readers wanting more. When she’s not refreshing her Instagram feed, you’ll find Hannah walking her rescue greyhound Olivia.

6 common marketing mistakes small businesses make | Image by Dylan Gillis

6 common marketing mistakes small businesses make

By | Stories

Empowering small businesses to take control of their digital marketing and demystify social media is more than just our livelihood, it’s what we’re passionate about.

Over the past two years, we’ve been honoured to present digital marketing workshops to hundreds of small business owners across Australia and help them tame their digital marketing demons.

It’s a role that’s afforded us the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and troubleshoot the most common marketing problems that small businesses face with their websites, social media and content marketing strategy.

Not surprisingly, most business owners have exactly the same gripes with anything digital; and time, knowledge and experience usually all vie for top spot. What is surprising though – is how many simple solutions are completely overlooked by small businesses who continue to drown in their digital marketing efforts.

If you’re feeling like your digital presence might need fine tuning – start by looking under the hood of your business to see if you’re making one of these common pitfalls.

We’ve outlined a step-by-step solution, so you can tackle each pitfall head-on. Just remember, when it comes to anything digital, action rather than apathy is always your best defence.

Pitfall 1: I don’t know where my passwords are (website, social media, you name it)

Cue the sirens and press the panic button. This is an alarming problem and one we see all too often with our workshop attendees.

Employees move on, web-developers leave, managers lose the little green book of passwords and suddenly no one has access to the back-end of the website, social media or analytics account. SOS!

No matter the size or scale of your business, access to your primary marketing channels is as vital as knowing your login details to bank accounts and financials, which we have no doubt aren’t handed out so frivolously to contractors.

Guard your assets and safeguard them like you would your personal details – not having login details is like having a car without the keys to it (and we don’t mean in the swanky keyless entry kind of way).

The solution:

  • Use secure password-storing apps to keep a copy of all of your usernames and passwords in one place
  • Always set up social media accounts using the generic email e.g. admin/info that won’t get lost if somebody leaves, which means your password reset attempts can actually be found
  • Before staff leave or move on, ensure your business’ social media accounts are taken off their personal devices
  • Ask your web-developer for your logins to your website, you should always have a copy of these as well so you aren’t beholden to a web-developer who might leave the country or the business relationship between you two turns sour

Pitfall 2: I don’t know who my target market is

Time for a marketing 101. Everyone has a target audience. Everyone.

Products who try to be all things to all people, appeal to all tastes and budgets or promote such similar vagary, do nothing to promote their point of difference or why people should use/buy their product.

If your message or product has no audience, how do you expect anyone to hear it?

The solution:

  • Get clear on which audience or audiences your product really appeals to. If you don’t know, ask someone who doesn’t work for you – we find they often offer the best truth serum when it comes to your product.
  • If you’re still stuck, there are a plethora of audience analysis documents you can use to define who you’re talking to. We even have one in our Social Media Handbook which you can download here.

Pitfall 3: I don’t understand social media so I gave it to my youngest employee

Holy operational risk!

Why would anyone give the keys to a megaphone with the capability of reaching 15 million people (aka active Australian Facebook users in 2018) to someone with probably the least knowledge of your business?

If you’re confused by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or your computer, you need to run towards the problem not away from it.

The solution:

  • Book into one of the myriads of social media workshops on offer around the country. We proudly offer a one-on-one workshop or in a group setting for up to 10PAX if your team need to be upskilled in how to run your social media accounts (you can book Media Mortar Live here).
  • You can ask the youngest member of the team (likely a digital native) to teach you how social media works, but we suggest staying in charge of posting, commenting and moderation yourself so you know how it works and learn yourself. Ask younger members of your team for regular feedback and treat them like your very own personal social media trainer
  • Download one of the internet’s many eBooks and how to guides to running social media successfully. We have a Social Media Handbook, which costs less than the price of a lunch out, and will take you through your social media paces. Get your hands on a copy here.

Pitfall 4: I don’t know why people show up at 9am at my business when we’ve always opened at 10am

Have you ever claimed your Google Business listing and outlined your hours? No? Google has done some guess work which is why people are showing up at the wrong time.

Your Google Business listing is free to update and claim – and works like the Yellow Pages of business with your phone number, website, photos and opening hours to name a few features.

Spend some time populating your listing with images, address and contact details. Reviews are king when it comes to SEO and being found, so be sure to start collecting business reviews too.

The solution:

  • Visit Google My Business and work through the steps to set up your Google Business account. Add your business details such as your name, address, phone number and web address along with a short description of what services you offer. Once you have completed the steps, you’ll need to verify your account. Google will send you a postcard in the mail with a verification code and steps on how to verify your account.
  • If you need further assistance because your business has been claimed by say a former owner, contact a marketing specialist who can help change you over.

Pitfall 5: I read somewhere that video/podcasts/Facebook Live/IG TV/insert new marketing trend here are popular therefore I should do it

Pump the breaks. Content without a strategy, distribution plan and an audience (or worse, all three) is just content – and that kind of content isn’t king.

We see a lot of copycat syndrome in our industry, which is a marketing trend that baffles us.

Social media favours original thinking and ideas – so unless you’re replicating a really cool idea borrowed from another industry, copying a competitor doesn’t make much sense to us.

When it comes to stepping up your digital game, ask yourself first if you’ve #nailed the foundations. If you’re still struggling to find time for the basics – there’s no harm in the KISS theory. There’s plenty of very successful social media accounts with more than 1 million followers who only post still images, taken from an iPhone, every couple of days.

If you’re #pro level and have your content firing from all cylinders, then sure, it’s time to level up to new content formats – provided you’re still delivering your customers quality rather than quantity content.

The solution:

  • Before investing in production of any videos, ask yourself what its purpose is? Is it emotional? Educational? To drive sales? Or are you doing it because you saw someone else make an About Us video?
  • If you want to copy someone – why not ask them if it worked and if it made any difference to their bottom line. If it didn’t, maybe consider why you’re about to do it
  • Really question whether you’re ready to step up to new forms of content. If you struggle to post on your current channels four times a week, do you really think you’ll have time to record that podcast?

Pitfall 6: I had my website built 2/5/10 years ago and now you’re telling me it’s not enough?

We hate to break it to you, but just like a car your website needs constant tweaks too. Your website is the last thing you should set and forget, given it’s your welcome mat to your business and for most customers, their first point of contact with you.

You should put your website in for a tune-up at least every year (if you can run to it – we suggest doing it a lot more than that!) – to update plug-ins, run back ups and test everything is working.

It’s also important you talk to your web-developer about ways you can improve your site as both the capability of websites changes along with the way consumers interact with websites.

There’s always new updates to be made as the internet-ether comes to terms with security and privacy. One such change is adding an SSL certificate to make your page ‘Secure’ for Google. So many businesses we work with have not yet implemented this step and it has major impacts on how Google ranks your site, making all your good work on social media and blog posts for nothing.

The solution:

  • Listen to customer feedback about your site and ask friends and family for critical assessment of your website, particularly the functionality
  • Ask yourself if the words, images and videos used on your site explain what you do? And do they capture attention?
  • Critically ask – are the images, fonts, and design of the site modern/fresh/funky? Because just as you can spot a pair of stone-wash jeans that would have been cool in the 80s, your customer can spot a website that was built in 2002.

Taking control of your digital marketing shouldn’t be difficult. In fact, all of the steps above are easy and can be actioned in an afternoon when you have the right suppliers on your side.

If you’ve tried troubleshooting using the above but are still getting nowhere, our Content Crew are only an email away – hello@mediamortar.com.au.

If we’ve missed a pitfall you think you’ve fallen victim to, drop us a line or comment below and we’ll send you our solution.

By Hannah Statham

Hannah Statham is The Boss at Media Mortar. She’s a heavy weight wordsmith, punching with puns, analogies and metaphors that leave readers wanting more. When she’s not refreshing her Instagram feed, you’ll find Hannah walking her rescue greyhound Olivia.

It’s no holiday: 5 pieces of career advice for university students

By | Stories

Every year, I’m honoured to be asked by my university to lecture students studying new media about what it takes to ‘make it’ in a marketing world that moves faster than a Lamborghini on a speedway.

While my lecture focusses on innovative campaigns that use new media, I truly believe the principles that will make you stay current in the digital marketing space aren’t new at all.

In fact, most have nothing to do with creativity or technology, but mindset and just how willing you are to ‘do’ the work.

With 10 years marketing experience, my own business and an upcoming lecture to 400+ new media students, I thought it was timely to dish out some advice to my 20-year-old self.

If I was lecturing little(r) Hannah (I’m 154cm, yo), this is what she would need to hear … and maybe you need to hear it as well …. no matter what stage of your career you’re in.

1. Hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle

I don’t know about you, but I was never the smartest in the class. I used to covet the clever cookies who seemed to do everything with ease while everything I did always felt like hard work.

I’ve always been working up a sweat, lifting the intelligence barbell a bit further with every task assigned to me.

It probably took ten years too long for me to learn one of life’s great lessons (not ironically the hard way), that hard work will always trump lazy talent.

I know this more than ever now that I run my own business and build teams, stacking them with the hardest workers I can lay my hands on.

The lesson: It doesn’t matter what job you land, where you work or what the work culture is like – success boils down to outperforming your competitors. How do you outperform them? You work harder than them.

2. If you don’t go for it, someone far less talented than you will

Over the course of my career I’ve seen people far less talented than you or I go for and land roles I could have. Sound familiar?

How many times have you read a job description and thought “oh, I don’t have 3-5 years’ experience” and just not applied?

Or “I don’t know how to build WordPress sites” so I just won’t apply.

Now that I’m on the receiving end of hundreds of resumes, I see that other people don’t have my kind of self-doubt and are happy to throw their hat in the ring– when people like me would have been too scared.

The lesson: Kick self-doubt to the curb and get on with it. If you’re not qualified for that position, let the employer decide that, but for goodness sakes don’t NOT apply and take yourself out of the running. Take it from someone who hires staff, so often you don’t know what you’re looking for until it walks through the interview room door.

3. The learning never stops

When I left university, I ran out so fast I didn’t let the door hit me on the way out. Little did I know, the learning was only just about to begin. Uni had prepared me for theory, but I was well short of practice.

With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I’d started devouring podcasts, books and eNewsletters about the industry sooner.

I was three years into my career before a (very kind) colleague pointed out that if I wanted to get ahead in marketing, I should probably sign up to eNewsletters from the peak marketing bodies and read daily news of new campaigns and their pitfalls and triumphs.

Since you’re not always going to have the luxury of working on big, mega-bucks accounts, you might as well read about them and take inspiration.

The lesson: Read more books related to your field of interest and sooner. I waited until I was running my own business to start my obsession with entrepreneurial books, and I wish I started ten years ago. It makes me wonder how much more I’d know now. Click here for my top picks.

4. Your network is your net worth

I was the kind of student who was more interested in working my part time job and earning money than getting to know my peers. Sorry guys!

When I look back at it, I missed the opportunity to network everyday with some 400+ marketing students who are probably all now in roles I would like Media Mortar to contract to.

Take it from me, never turn down the opportunity for networking no matter what phase of your career you’re in.

The lesson: You never know when you’ll need the people sitting next to you in the theatre – so get off your phone and meet people IRL.

5. You have more time than you know what to do with

We have a joke in our office – I wish we had the commitments of a uni student!

Sure, balancing part time work, internships and studies is hard – but it’s got nothing on full time employment.

The lesson: Get on with it. Get an internship, get some experience and show your worth. The sooner you start your internship, the sooner you can build experience to start the next phase of your career journey and resign from your part-time job altogether.

Cliff Notes from the post: Do the work

If you’re sitting in a lecture theatre and I am coming to speak at a university near you, this post is your spoiler alert. My session won’t deliver the silver bullet you might have been hoping for. My biggest piece of career advice for people starting out, boils down to work hard, talk less, listen more.

Armed with that, you’re unstoppable!

For other tips like this, check out our post about how to intern like a boss.

By Hannah Statham

Hannah Statham is The Boss at Media Mortar. She’s a heavy weight wordsmith, punching with puns, analogies and metaphors that leave readers wanting more. When she’s not refreshing her Instagram feed, you’ll find Hannah walking her rescue greyhound Olivia.