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Four lessons from four years running a small business

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People often ask me, “what’s it like running a business”? My answer for the past four years is always the same – it’s hard.

It’s both the hardest and most rewarding work I’ve ever done, and the most analogous situation I’ve found to it has been mothering a child.

Despite what it might look like from the outside, the hours are long and the praise short, but the good days far outweigh the hard ones.

Since Media Mortar turned four this April, I wanted to share four of my biggest learnings in running it, because we’ve come a long way since I wrote this post two years ago.

Whether you’re in the small business trenches already or are thinking of starting your own business, sink your teeth into my biggest learnings so far.

1. Hire for attitude not aptitude

In small business, attitude is everything because there is no place for it to hide.

Bad moods, fatigue, frustrations are not diluted by the other 150 people in the office, instead, they’re as contagious as the flu to a small team where a person’s energy is everything.

In hiring for our team, I’m proud to say we’ve only got it wrong once. I hired the wrong attitude by favouring aptitude and it didn’t end well.

When you hire with company values (which let’s be honest, in a small business are usually the owner’s values), you’ll end up with a team that’s excited to do their work.

It’s always been my view that you can teach skills, but you can’t teach a personality – and if I’m going to spend more time at work than I do at home, I damn well want my team to light me up and inspire me.

To hire for attitude, I recommend personality testing your new-hires and going deep down the referee-check rabbit hole.

2. Treat your employees how you’d like your customers treated

Richard Branson famously said ‘the way you treat your employees is the way they treat your customers’ and as usual, he’s spot on.

I always endeavour to give my employees the things that made a difference to me when I was an employee – birthday cakes, work anniversary presents and bonuses you don’t have to ask for.

For most of my career, a simple thank you from a senior level of management would have sufficed, let alone the bright shiny stuff.

What I’ve seen firsthand is when you treat your team right, they mirror that behaviour to your customers.

I’ve found that our client’s birthdays are remembered, their wins become our wins and there’s a more collegiate relationship between our agency and the client than you’d normally find.

3. Set boundaries as the owner but know when it’s OK to cross them

As a small business owner it’s easy to work 24/7. In fact, until I had my beautiful daughter Penny, I probably would have continued happily burning the midnight oil.

In fact, the first time I ever put an out of office on since opening the business was to go into the labour ward and I turned it off two weeks after her birth.

As a small business owner, it’s important to know your boundaries and police them or you’ll fall into the business burnout that so many self-starters trap themselves into.

A simple google of ‘business-owner fatigue’ reveals over 32 million war stories aka search results with a similar tale.

It’s therefore SO important to know your limits and stick to them. If you don’t want to be working on weekends, DON’T. If you want to log off at 3pm, DO IT.

But just as important as holding boundaries is knowing when to fold them. The boundaries you make for yourself can also be the boundary to your business’ growth.

After all, when you don’t do the work, there’s always someone else willing to do it. Don’t ever forget that.

4. Read red flags and listen to your intuition

I’ll let you in on a secret – of all the clients who didn’t work out with us, we saw them coming.

As you get better in business, you can spot a red-flag-client a mile off. In fact, client red flags are hardly discrete.

“We don’t have money to pay you, but want you to guarantee all your results” is as direct as they come.

Picture red-flag-clients more like a grenade whose ring-pull starts counting down to detonation from the first phone call.

And yet, from time to time, we make the mistake of letting these clients through the doors when logic gets in the way.

If I could give you one piece of advice, it’s to quieten down the logical noise – “we need the work” … “it’s not a long job” … “they’d be great for the portfolio” – and listen to your intuition when a client doesn’t feel like the right fit for the business.

What are the common red flags we see in our industry? You’ll find most of them in our 5 reasons to not outsource your social media management post.

And if you’re after some light reading, check out our social media post where we asked our audience what red flags exist with clients in their industry. Go on, have a chuckle @mediamortar on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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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 searching for the best gnocchi in town.

Media Mortar_Instagram Stories_Phone and laptop

8 ways to lift your Instagram Stories game

By | Stories

With over 500,000 million people interacting with Instagram Stories, or Instastories, every day, the question isn’t whether you should be on Instagram Stories but rather, are you doing enough with them?

If not, you’re missing out on a key part of consumer’s purchasing patterns, with research indicating 58% of consumer’s purchase decisions are made by something they’ve seen on Instagram Stories.

Since launching in 2010, Instagram Stories have provided a welcome rugged and raw alternative to the polished pictures found on Instagram feeds.

Before you start uploading your photos, videos or GIFs to your Instagram Stories, check out these eight ways to lift your Instastory game.

1. Create and design your Highlight Reels

If you’re going to invest time, energy and potentially moola pimping up your Instagram Stories, you’ll want to have somewhere to put them proudly on display.

Enter the Highlight Reels aka the row of circles that live below your bio, where Instastories can be saved on display forever rather than disappearing 24 hours later.

So how do you determine what type of content should live in your Highlight Reels?

Depending on your brand, you could group these based on your content pillars, different services, locations or products sold.

For example, a café might design its highlight reels around key services like breakfast, lunch or dinner, while a fashion boutique might opt for spring/summer and autumn/winter.

Remember – you need to upload an image as an Instagram Story before creating a Highlights Reel. If you get stuck, you’ll find a step by step plan in our Social Media Handbook.

Psst – don’t forget to revisit your Highlight Reels each quarter to ensure the content is still relevant. There’s nothing worse than an outdated highlight reel.

2. Create an Instagram Stories storyboard prior to posting

If you’ve been following Media Mortar for a while, you’ll know we are passionate storysellers and truly believe the power of stories is what drives sales.

Just like blogs, website copy and social media posts, Instagram Stories rely on 98% preparation and 2% actually posting.

When planning Stories for our clients, we storyboard on a Word document or PowerPoint to ensure they have a start, middle and end like a real story.

For example, if we are planning Stories for a tourism operator, we would pick five to eight images from one service and support each image with a short caption about what a visitor can experience.

By doing this, we’re taking the customer on the journey through the region and showing them (rather than just telling them) what they can experience.

The goal is to use short, sharp and informative copy to help paint the picture in the customer’s mind and let the image do the heavy lifting.

3. Schedule your Instagram Stories

Media Mortar_Instagram Stories_Instagram on iPhone“I don’t have time to do Instagram Stories” – said every small business owner ever.

But there is an easier way.

If you’re not yet scheduling your content, we recommend reading this post before you scroll any further.

For those already in the practice of pre-planning your content calendars, pre-planning Instagram Stories works almost the same way – if your scheduling tool allows it.

We use Later to manage all of our client social media accounts, and this platform allows us to plan Instagram Stories – including the selected image and copy.

While it’s not fully automated, we receive a notification when an Instagram Story is scheduled to post. In a few clicks, the image is downloaded to our phone along with the copy (caption), ready to be uploaded to the client’s social media account.

Top Tip: we recommend resizing the image to 1080px by 1920px before scheduling them in Later. This ensures your images are the perfect size when downloaded to your phone ready to post.

4. Understanding the different types of Instagram Stories

What kind of Instagram Stories are you telling? One that’s curated, re-shared or behind-the-scenes?

While curated and planned Stories are great for educating your customers or sharing key messages with them (these will likely be saved to your Highlight Reels) don’t forget about how Stories all started – unfiltered, unedited and authentic BTS images and videos.

These are a great way to get your face in front of the camera too – whether it’s popping in to say Happy Friday to your followers or sharing a snippet of your team in action.

Don’t forget possibly the easiest Stories of all – re-shared Stories. Each time your brand is tagged in an Instastory, you have the ability to reshare this to your feed, which brings us to our next point.

5. Community Management is key

Media Mortar_Instagram Stories_Open phone on notebooksJust like any organic or paid social media content, community management is essential for Instagram Stories too.

Think about your own experience, have you ever tagged a brand or business in your own Instagram Story and they either re-shared or responded? How did you feel?

I love when Brendan Pang from MasterChef responds to Stories when I’m making dumplings from his cookbook or when a restaurant re-grams my photo of dinner and drinks while I’m eating it.

You have the same power to make someone’s day by double-tapping, responding or resharing their content to your own Stories when they tag your brand or business.

6. Get creative with Instagram interactive tools

Want to engage with your community through Instagram Stories? Get them tapping with polls and quizzes.

Interactive tools (all built into Instagram Stories) can not only boost engagement with your followers, they can be used to learn more about your customers and their preferences.

If you’re a café owner and looking to try a new menu item, why not ask your audience using polls in your Stories to gauge interest in the new dish.

Seriously, brands used to have to pay good money for a focus group as effective as what you’ll find on Instagram Stories.

7. Reshare on Facebook Stories too

Do you only post your Instagram Stories to Instagram and not Facebook? Like the Old El Paso ad, “Porque no los dos?”

Since the platform allows for automatic sharing to Facebook Stories, there is zero additional work required to extend the reach of your stories to your Facebook followers too.

Facebook Stories may not be as widely used as Instagram ones, but who is going to say no to free exposure?

8. Share the workload between your team

We’re not going to sugar coat it, Instagram Stories can leave you feeling like you’re tied to your phone – but you don’t need to bear the burden of Stories alone.

Why not share the workload between your team members?

Create a weekly, fortnightly or monthly roster for posting and community management – whichever is best for your organisation.

After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.

 

Do you have any other top tips for Instagram Stories? Share them below.

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.

11 key takeaways from the 2021 Victorian Tourism Conference

By | Stories

Move over Zoom and Microsoft Teams, Melbourne just hosted its first IRL conference since COVID and the energy in the building was electric.

While the Victorian Tourism Conference was titled “Shaping the future of Victorian tourism” the presentations and conversations also provided a platform to reflect on learnings from the past year.

More importantly, for most of the 800 people in attendance, it was a chance to move beyond the computer screen and connect with industry partners face-to-face, some, for the first time.

With over 20 presentations at the Victorian Tourism Conference, there was a bucket load of learnings and lightbulb moments – here’s our top 11.

1. Live more in rainforests than banana plantations

While futurist and keynote speaker, Chris Riddel, may have been the final presentation of the Victorian Tourism Conference, his lightbulb moment – rainforests are dangerous places but banana plantations are predictable – was one of our biggest takeaways.

He explained you can walk into a rainforest, be bitten by a venomous snake and never come out alive. However, rainforests are also where you could find a small, yet-to-be-discovered spider that could cure cancer.

In business terms, rainforests are where entrepreneurs live, because it’s where you can break all the rules, where you seek fairness, not advantage, and where you can experiment and learn (to name a few).

On the other hand, banana plantations are predictable – each one is the same and the mentality and physical requirements to create a banana plantation follow the same guidelines.

Too many businesses live in banana plantations, where you have to be right every time, be perfect, and be great at your job rather than having the authority to rethink everything and innovate.

2. It’s time to be strategic

Throughout the conference, there was one theme that echoed through each presentation: 2020 was the year of agility. 2021 is the year of strategy.

Speakers shared how last year forced them to stay agile and be open to change rather than follow one strategic plan.

Craig Tilley – CEO of Tennis Australia – shared how he swapped the word strategy for scenarios, planning for what could happen rather than having one specific strategy for hosting the Australian Open at the start of 2021.

As an industry, now is the time when tourism organisations can start to put a strategy in place, after spending over 12 months being reactive to the ever-changing tourism industry.

3. Traveller confidence is growing

The words every tourism organisation has been dreaming to hear – traveller confidence is growing!

Michelle Levine – Roy Morgan CEO – shared how consumer confidence to travel is moving along the same trajectory as the intention to travel.

However, Matthew Burke – Regional Manager for Pacific, STR – pointed out current lead times are still sitting at around 14 days.

So, while traveller intentions and confidence are growing, don’t expect a flood of bookings for three, six or 12 months in advance.

4. Ask your customers what they want

Ever thought to ask your customers what they want when planning new products, services or experiences?

That’s exactly what Shane Delia – Restauranteur and Founder of Delia Group and Providoor (aka Maha, Biggie Smalls) did when he had to rethink his business when lockdown hit.

Unsure where to take the direction of his business when he closed the doors of his network of restaurants, he reached out to his database and asked them what they wanted.

The result: Providoor. A mulit-million dollar e-commerce business (delivering food from Melbourne’s best restaurants to consumer’s doors – and a saviour through Melbourne’s lockdown).

5. Rethink how you communicate with your customers

Tourism operators, listen up.

Want to increase pre-booked services at your establishment (think dinner, tour or spa bookings), limit the amount of pre-arrival questions from guests or generate reviews?

This is exactly what a Victorian-based accommodation provider achieved using timely emails.

Want an insight into what they did?

  • Seven days before guests arrived, they sent an email to advise customers about the other services they offered, such as in-house dinners or tours and saw an uplift of 30% in pre-booked dinners.
  • Three days before the guest arrived, they sent a pre-arrival email advising them of check-in procedures and what to expect upon arrival. This resulted in a 90% reduction in pre-arrival questions and queries.
  • At the end of the stay, they sent a thank you email with a direct link to invite guests to leave a review, which resulted in a 26% increase in reviews.

Simple, right?

6. You heard it at the Victorian Tourism Conference first – Instagram is becoming a search engine

Hot off the press in the tech world, Instagram has been upgrading its search functionality where users can search by keywords, not just hashtags. Hello, social media SEO.

We’ve been told it’s still work-in-progress, so there’s no need to re-write your content marketing strategy just yet, but something to keep in mind with captions.

We did some further research on this, and you can read about it here.

7. Don’t underestimate your story

“Nothing is interesting about our [place/product/service],” *overheard* from way too many tourism operators or destinations we’ve worked with over the years.

As a marketing agency, we have heard this more times than we’ve ordered I Heart Brownies, and anyone following our social media knows that’s a lot.

During a panel discussion, Shae Keenan – CMO of Visit Victoria – reminded the room that “your story is interesting, don’t think your story doesn’t count”. Praise be Shae – thank you!

8. Be more like a brown rat

Ever heard of a Rattus Norvegius?

Commonly known as a brown rat or common rat, this mammal is known to eat the weakest of her litter to ensure longevity for the rest.

Speaker Mark Ritson believes businesses and brands should adopt the brown rat mentality to their products, services or experiences.

Rather than having an extensive offering for your customers, why not focus all your marketing efforts on the best performers and cut the rest.

He spoke about how Unilever adopted this approach – from having over 4,000 products in the portfolio in the 80’s to now just 400, they remain one of the biggest companies in the world.

9. Your strategy should fit on a single page

Throw out the 40-page document. It’s time to rethink strategy.

Develop three or four smart and simple objectives to lead your strategy.

Apply the same Rattus Norvegius approach to your strategy and keep it tight with fewer things carrying more impact.

*Marketers block your ears* Mark Ritson went as far as to say forget looking for a USP and focus on two things: awareness and association.

What are you doing to create awareness and what are you doing to help your customers feel connected (associated) with your product, service or experience?

10. Victorian Tourism Conference says don’t turn off the lights

This is something we witnessed a lot through COVID, brands and businesses turning off communication and going dark.

When it comes to brand building, it’s vital a business or brand keeps the lights on – even during a pandemic.

Why? Because keeping the lights on allows for achieving long-term brand-building strategies.

It’s fair to re-evaluate short-term brand-building strategies, such as promotions or marketing activations, but staying visible is key to reaping the rewards of a strong brand awareness years down the track.

11. Get your digital assets in order

Let’s talk about websites.

If you’re serious about SEO or improving your ranking on Google, there are things you need to do to move up the ladder organically.

Catherine and Stephen Toms from the Digital Marketing Institute shared some essentials every business needs to have in place if it wants to be visible organically.

  • Make sure your website is secure. If your web address doesn’t start with HTTPS then you need to make this a priority
  • Your website needs to have a fast load time – attention spans are reducing to two to three seconds
  • It needs to be easy to navigate
  • It needs to be mobile friendly – with 79% of people now searching on mobile
  • You need to beef up your backlinks – which third-party or partner websites are linking back to your website?

In addition to how responsive your digital assets are, My Business should be every business’ best friend.

Don’t neglect to respond to those reviews as Google will give you a virtual frown and affect your ranking.

Psst – for ideas on how you can develop your organic assets, check out these resources we prepared earlier:

 Were you at the conference? Let us know below what were your main takeaways from the two-day event?

Media Mortar_Social media management

5 reasons NOT to outsource social media management

By | Stories

As a content marketing media agency, you’d think we’d be the first to say outsourcing your social media management is always a good idea, but truth is, for some people, it’s a disaster.

And while we could take your money and run, we’d rather be honest and save us both the headache if you’re not ready for outsourced social media management.

In our experience, the reason most businesses look to an outsourced social media solution has very little to do with social media as a skill, but rather the time it takes to manage a social media account.

And while social media is time-consuming, it’s not always the best time a business should outsource …  especially if you fall into one of these categories.

1. You don’t value social media management

We don’t mean to get all truth-bomby on the matter, but if you don’t value social media management, you’re never going to value the work your agency (whether it’s us or another) does for you.

In turn, you’re not going to be happy about the invoices that float across your desk for social media management if you didn’t value why you needed to do it in the first place.

We’re not saying you need to be a prolific social media user (after all, that’s why you’re outsourcing social media), but you do need to know why it’s important for your business.

While it’s your agency’s job to prove to you why social media works through their return on investment, it’s not their job to justify the craft you asked for in the first place.

2. You don’t let the reins go

The corollary to the client who doesn’t value social media management is the business owner who doesn’t want to give it up; they want to still tightly hold onto the social media reins as though they were still running the channels themselves.

Usually this is the person who’s been running the social media accounts forever and regrettably doesn’t want to hand it over. They spend their days nit-picking every picture, post and hashtag with their own preferences you’d have to be a mind reader to know.

While accuracy is always important and you’ll always have a round of review as a Media Mortar client, if it’s a constant game of tom-ay-to / tomato, you’re probably best to keep running your channels yourself. In fact, we’d rather you did.

A better option would be to outsource something else that you’re not so tightly connected to.

3. You don’t review your posts or read your reports, ever

Media Mortar_Review your social media postsThe flip side to the above, is the client who doesn’t check their social media or read their reports, ever.

While a silent client could be every agency’s favourite client, it’s very difficult to tell whether you like the work they’re delivering.

It’s important you keep an eye on the feed and provide constructive feedback of what you’d like to see more of. This way your agency can keep kicking goals for you.

4. You want everything go, go, go but can’t sign off things in a timely manner

Time is always of the essence on social media, you don’t need to tell your social media agency that.

We frequently have clients who want things turned around quickly (too easy!) but can’t sign off on said activity quickly enough for it to be relevant.

When it comes to social media, there are situations when you have to be timely. If you can’t clear your schedule for a single contact internally to green light the post, you can consider that social media post tomorrow’s digital fish and chips wrapper.

One clear line of approval and an escalation plan for any posts that require it is what your agency needs to manage social media effectively on your behalf.

5. You have unrealistic follower expectations

The amount of followers a business has is usually of interest only to the CEO.

Everyone with a marketing scroll knows it’s all about engagement and driving customers through the doors. That doesn’t mean every agency isn’t being assessed by vanity metrics by the person who ultimately pays the bills.

The CEO usually wants to know two things; how many followers do we have? How do we compare to our competitors?

All we’d say is if you want 1 million followers, you better have 4 million dollars to throw at the situation.

You don’t hire an agency and suddenly overturn the algorithm Facebook and Instagram have spent so long protecting. It doesn’t work like that. It never did and it never will.

Follower growth is slow and steady, and most brands with millions of followers should be commended for starting their channels eons before you did.

Looking for more social media tips and tricks?

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 searching for the best gnocchi in town.

Media Mortar_Content marketing agency_You've made an impact

Highs and lows of 2020: Media Mortar Report

By | Stories

Every year as a business owner, I like to pull together a cathartic report of the year as I pen my new year’s resolutions for the business.

As I sit here in the first week of January 2021 starting on my reflection of the year that was – like most people, I don’t even know where to start.

2020 was something else; the highs were insurmountably high and the lows unfathomably low, like a rollercoaster where even the flat parts made you want to scream.

But importantly as I sit to write this reflection, what’s overwhelmingly important is that we live to tell the 2020 tale – something so many small business owners in Australia don’t have the pleasure of doing this morning.

And for that, we’re eternally grateful for our 2020 lessons.

If you’re easing back into the work year, grab yourself a cuppa with our Media Mortar highs and lows of 2020.

High 1: We connected with more of you on a regular basis

Media Mortar_Content marketing agency_Hannah & Kristy_Highs & lowsLike most content marketing agencies, our own marketing efforts consistently sit at the bottom of the pile, shoved aside in favour of a deadline or whichever squeaky wheel is squawking the loudest.

But when life throws your business a global pandemic – you focus your energy on yourself and what’s inside your control, which for us, was what we do best, make content.

This involved launching a podcast, CONTENTious, and feathering our SEO nest with blog posts like this one you’re reading now.

Rather than keep feeding the content wheel, we found more ways for our content to work harder for us.

We made a rule that in order for a piece of content to go live, every piece of content had to have an efficiency plan built around it. Every blog post became an Instagram caption (or three), a module within an eNewsletter, podcast transcript or webinar. We suddenly became more resourceful with our time than ever before thanks to the pandemic.

Deep dives into our analytics, which I talk about in this Marketing Mentor episode also revealed we were placing our emphasis on the wrong channels, which became our impetus for a serious LinkedIn content plan.

Key learnings:

  • In times of crisis work within your sphere of control
  • Play to areas of your strength
  • Get thrifty with anything you’re making and find ways to repurpose it

Low 1: Losing 80% of our revenue in three days in March

Media Mortar_Content marketing agency_Media Mortar HQThere were three god awful days in March where the phone didn’t stop ringing, only I didn’t want to answer, because the only people calling were delivering bad news.

“With this COVID thing, we’re not really sure what’s happening so we’re going to need to put you on pause” was a recurring conversation, I got pretty good at fielding.

We were officially in free fall along with the rest of the tourism and events industry and I had to make hard calls, fast, to ensure the future of the business.

I still consider COVID a crash course in putting on my big girl pants and hardening up and without a doubt it taught me more than my two university degrees ever did.

Unfortunately, to weather the storm, I had to make a new starter who was already proving herself to be a wonderful addition to the team redundant and step the rest of the team back to three days a week, reducing my own hours and pay as well like any good leader should.

But behind every dark cloud were some silver linings, and the fact we were hit so hard so fast, meant we were one of the first businesses to start our recovery-race.

As every other industry felt the grips of COVID and had to offload staff, contractors and expenses, we’d somewhat already been there and done that and were working on the comeback.

Key learnings:

  • When crisis hits, act fast. There’s no point putting your head in the sand
  • You’re only as protected in a service agreement as the termination clause you set
  • Difficult conversations are always difficult, even in a global pandemic

High 2: Hustling to find new clients in new industries

Media Mortar_Content marketing agency_Inspirational reads_Highs & lowsA dear friend of mine who runs a law firm has a rule, you should never let a client be responsible for more than 30 per cent of your revenue.

I like her rule, but raise her my COVID take on it, that you should never have an INDUSTRY responsible for more than 30% of your revenue. A lesson, I didn’t need to lose my clients to appreciate, but here we are anyway.

Our resolution coming out of COVID was to diversify into new industries, taking our same content marketing approach we’ve honed in tourism to other more diverse industries.

We started with a pitch list of potential targets to reach out to from industries we thought might not be hurting as hard as our friends in tourism and worked through them methodically.

The team adopted sales targets and worked their magic, reaching out to new industries and contacts in an environment where they were hit with more no’s than resounding yes’s.

Anyone who’s tried to drive new business in a pandemic will know exactly what I mean.

Key learnings:

  • Write a list of potential targets and work through them methodically
  • Sales is a game of numbers, the more offers you put out, the higher your chance of getting someone to say yes
  • Pitching to new clients is a helluva lot easier when you have an active Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn pumping with high value content to assist people and support your position as an industry expert

Low 2: Watching dear clients have to make hard decisions and clients get made redundant

Media Mortar_Content marketing agency_Tea cupNot only did we need to live through our own redundancies and stand downs at Media Mortar, we had to watch our clients do the same in far greater scale than our small business.

When you’ve worked with the same clients for three years, as naff as it sounds, their pain becomes your pain.

Many of our colleagues, friends and contacts within businesses took redundancies (voluntary or otherwise), which was hard to watch from the outside looking in.

Key learnings:

  • You know your clients mean the world to you when you feel their pain
  • COVID didn’t discriminate between businesses large or small – the largest companies we work with had some of the largest impacts

High 3: Creating more profit across all areas of the business

Media Mortar_Content marketing agency_MM team_highs & lowsThere’s nothing quite like a clean out of clients to make you reassess your profit margins and price structure.

We put the downtime to good use with a new pricing structure for new clients across social media management and paid ads.

The pandemic ended contracts with a handful of legacy clients we’d been over servicing for years, freeing up the mental bandwidth and space for new and exciting industries to come along.

We also got crystal clear about what services we do and don’t offer at Media Mortar, which has brought instant profitability into what we’re doing for 2021 and beyond.

Key learnings:

  • Sometimes you need space to see what’s really working, and what’s not
  • Just because you’ve always done something doesn’t mean its profitable

Low 3: The fatigue is real

Media Mortar_Content marketing agency_MM team_Highs & LowsAs a team who previously worked in the marketing of holidays, I can tell you we’re also good at taking them ourselves.

But when Australia shut its borders and no one could travel, the workplace felt even more fatigued with nothing to look forward to.

They say even just planning a holiday or meal out gives you a shot of oxytocin (the love hormone) so with all of our favourite things shut, it made personal lives that little bit harder – especially for Rochelle in our Melbourne office who spent most of the year at home in lockdown.

The result? We all limped through to December feeling that bit more tired than we’d normally feel.

Key learnings:

  • Annual leave is there for a reason – we saw firsthand what fatigue can do to people
  • We tried to turn fatigue around with a mental health day in October, which was so successful we’re going to implement them quarterly
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.

Content marketing agency_Business New Year's Resolutions_Mt Tamborine view red wine

Five Business New Year’s Resolutions we’re adopting

By | Stories

I don’t know about you, but I’m maniacal about setting New Year’s Resolutions.

Ever since I read this stat from Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California – which outlined that you’re 42% more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down – I realised I wasn’t crazy in my goal setting, merely, setting myself up for success.

This year, I’ve taken a new twist on resolutions, writing both personal ones and business New Year’s Resolutions. My business New Year’s Resolutions, I’m proudly typing up here and sharing widely on social media as accountability (that’s from you, dear reader).

If you haven’t set business New Year’s resolutions yourself, I’d strongly encourage it – even if only to put yourself in that top 42% more likely to achieve them.

Our job now is to action them. Yours is to keep us accountable. Are we clear?

Resolution One: Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for everything

Content marketing agency_Business New Year's Resolutions_Standard Operating Procedures_Mt Tamborine room with a view

Over the Christmas break I devoured Michael Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited, a book I’m going to say is officially my favourite read in our recommended business reading list. To date, it’s the book that’s had the most profound impact on the way we’re going to do business – I can’t speak highly enough about it.

The premise of Gerler’s book is simple – you need to run your business like it’s a franchise, rather than the small operation it is today.

What he means by this is that there should be a standard operating procedure for everything. Aka anyone should be able to pick up the manual and press go on any task. Think McDonalds, where every store runs identically, with or without Ray Kroc.

To be honest, I’ve known we’ve needed these for a while. But we’ve used the guise of ‘offering creative services’ as a crutch for not implementing SOPs because every job is truly different – even down to the way we win the job and onboard the client.

That said, when we stepped back to really look at how we do our work, there were a lot of similarities. All jobs require a brief – so why not create our own re-brief template? Why not formalise how we send drafts and how we document our revisions – both internal and external?

And just like that, SOPs have been born.

Given the breadth of our services, we’re still working through SOPs for every possible combination of services, but by the end of 2020 I have no doubt these will be a well-oiled machine, especially if Kristy and Rochelle have anything to do with it.

Resolution Two: Ask for reviews

Content marketing agency_Business New Year's Resolutions_Ask for reviews_Mt Tamborine diningLast year I was asked to present workshops around the State about managing online reputation and management.

About two hours into the workshop the same awkward thing would happen – I’d have to show the workshop room what a Google My Business Listing Profile looks like, showing them our lonely eight reviews.

We have so many more than eight success stories – but out of sheer laziness to follow up with clients – few reviews tell that tale. Quelle embarrassment!

Since the first step of receiving is asking, we’re going back through the client archives to politely ask clients to review their experience with us.

Cue SOP ‘client onboarding’ which now has a final step, ask each customer to leave a Google Review at the end of their experience.

Resolution Three: Quit being the cobbler without shoes

Content marketing agency_Business New Year's Resolutions_Promote yourself_Mt Tamborine road side produce stand

You know how a builder’s house is never finished? A cobbler doesn’t wear shoes? A mechanic drives the worst car? Well yeah, the same thing can be said for marketers. We’re often THE WORST at promoting ourselves.

This year we’ll be marketing ourselves big time – and are setting ourselves the challenge of consistently promoting our product and services. We’ve started in January with an SEO dive into every corner of our website. Boy, has that found some cobwebs we didn’t even know existed!

To make our resolutions SMART (that’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely), this is what we’re going for:

  1. Posting on Instagram and Facebook three times a week and scheduling our content a fortnight in advance
  2. Posting on LinkedIn once a week with original Media Mortar content
  3. Developing Media Mortar blog content (like this) once a month

Oh, and maybe adding something audio-visual soon too! But more on that later.

Resolution Four: Spend 20% of the week acquiring new business

Content marketing agency_Business New Year's Resolutions_New business_Mt Tamborine garden walk

If you missed our announcement in November last year, we opened a new office, Media Mortar Melbourne *cue the pom poms and online cheer squad*.

Since opening its doors at Thrive Network, it’s been like being back in start-up mode. You know the time in your business where everyone is a stranger, every day is a hustle and networking becomes a good excuse for mid-week drinking?

In walking Rochelle through our new business process, it’s put the spotlight on me to tidy up and formalise my own BDM process. After all, it seemed only fair that I be committing the same amount of time and energy to driving sales as she is.

So, in 2020, I’m putting on my woolly-jacket for cold calls and pitch emails and officially spending twenty per cent of my week on new business – coffees, networking, meetings, emails and conferences.

If you start to see me cropping up in your inbox more than usual, you know what I’m up to.

Resolution Five: Get seriously organised

Content marketing agency_Business New Year's Resolutions_Get organised_Mt Tamborine waterfall

I’d describe myself as organised, but when it comes to the business, I feel like we have a million ‘organisation’ tools and schedulers but use them all to about five per cent of their capacity. It does my head in.

This year we’re becoming Asana pros, we’re learning how to make TimeCamp speak to Xero and we’re focussing on our file storage systems – world, why so many file transfer systems?

We’ll be getting bossy too. We won’t be starting projects until we have everything we need to set us up for success – a trap regrettably we fell into too many times in 2019 when trying to be helpful.

We’re not being difficult, just more organised. And the more organised we are, the better service we know we can provide to our clients.

And in the spirit of organisation, we’ll be sticking these resolutions on the wall as a constant reminder of what we want to achieve. Why? To be part of the 42% more likely to achieve your goals only works if you regularly revisit them.

Now it’s over to you to help keep us accountable. According to Marie Forleo, if you have an accountability partner (that’s you reader), you’re up to 60% more likely to achieve your goals.

We like the sound of these odds.

Do you have any Business New Year’s Resolutions you’d like to add?

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.

How can you measure ROI from organic content?

By | Stories

“Sounds good, but what’s the ROI?”

We’re so used to this question it could form part of a drinking game in client meetings (Eds note: we should bring drinks to new meetings).

Since paid digital media is so transparent in the way it reports returns, it’s easy to question the ROI (return on investment) on organic content. Organic content doesn’t always spit out a neat little graph that marries up with how many leads, clicks and sales came from your content.

But just because you can’t (always) print a picture-perfect report, doesn’t mean ROI doesn’t exist.

Let us take you through how you can measure ROI from organic content.

How do you measure ROI from blog posts?

When it comes to determining a return on investment for blog posts, let’s start with defining your investment.

Your investment is what it costs to pay a writer (like us) to professionally write the blog post or the time it takes for your staff to DIY and do the same.

Thinking of distributing your blog post via a paid advertising channel like Outbrain or Facebook? You can add that onto your investment receipt too.

So then, what’s the return on the now 600-1000 words sitting on your website (like this one)? Find your answer in the ‘why’ you wrote the blog post in the first place.

Since 99% of blog posts are written for awareness rather than sales, your return on investment is simply how many people read the blog post and for how long (awareness). You can find these two metrics sitting in your Google Analytics.

You can easily compare these results against your paid media analytics. We’ll take a bet that your organic blog posts are read for longer and have a higher engagement rate than anything you pay for.

Why? The people searching for your blog went looking for it in the first place and stumbled upon it because the words used matched their search query.

How do you measure ROI from organic social media posts?

Media Mortar_Content Marketing Agency_Organic content ROI 3So, you’ve handed your social media to a social media manager (like us) or you’ve got a staff member racking up their hours online – you’ll want to see runs on the board.

Before you pop the ROI question, we need to go back to why you’ve opted for organic posting in the first place.
If it was for conversions, you may have a case of a channel that’s not fit for purpose.

Take it from us, there’s plenty of other marketing tools in your toolbelt, which will get people picking up the phone faster than organic social media.

Organic social media is best deployed when you want to build a community, start conversation and create brand awareness. Once you’ve done all three, you’ll find the sales will follow. If you need more convincing, you’ll like this blog post about why stories drive sales.

Your return for all that time and investment is a loyal community, aka the people you can develop into what Seth Godin calls ‘superfans’ in This is Marketing (one of the books in our Recommended Reading List).

Anyone in business will know you only need one or two superfans to amplify your marketing efforts. They have a compounding effect just like shares in the stock market – so when you win over one or two people, they’ll convert others for you.

Your Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn analytics will paint a picture of what content is being liked, shared and saved. Then rely on Google Analytics to do the heavy lifting on the metric front with how many leads come out of each social media platform to your website.

With these insights, you can make informed choices about where to direct most of your energy to keep telling those stories that will drive sales.

In our case, LinkedIn drives 60% of all Media Mortar website traffic, so that’s where we should put 60% of our investment.

Connecting your investment with which channel has the returns is the secret weapon to your organic social media’s success.

How do you measure ROI from eNewsletter content?

Media Mortar_Content Marketing Agency_Organic content ROI 4No need to put on your detective hat when it comes to ROI on eNewsletters. With email analytics it’s a lot easier to see how effectively your content is working for you.

Each email platform has its own built-in analytics which includes reports on open rates, click-through rates and conversions.

You’ll see your ROI soar when the content resonates with the audience – and equally reflected in your unsubscribes if and when your content misses the mark.

Since an email without words or images (content) is just an empty shell, we think it’s fair to connect your open rate to the value of the content contained within it, and that’s the ROI of your send.

If you need more convincing on the value of content, 69 percent of people decide to open an email or mark it as spam based on the subject line alone (source: Campaign Monitor). We’d go so far as to say your ROI truly depends on the quality of that one line.

If you’re thinking of skimping on the content development of your next send, don’t forget, the average ROI of an eNewsletter is $44 for every $1 spent in sending it (Source: Campaign Monitor).

That readers is an ROI we like the sound of.

How do you measure ROI on the copywriting on your website?

Media Mortar_Content Marketing Agency_Organic content ROI 5We get that building a website is expensive between words, images and physical design. But in our view, all three deliver years of ROI since your website is the digital shopfront for your business.

Would you skimp on the fit-out of your shopfront? We didn’t think so.

Words carry weight on websites, not just in the way they convey meaning to the reader but in how they convey meaning to the SEO-bots who crawl your site looking for keywords to serve search results to the reader.

Not only that, but the words on your websites also work for you 24/7, making websites one of the most cost-effective returns on investment, based on their time spent in market alone.

A word of warning though when it comes to website copy. If you’re looking for instant gratification in SEO alone, we’re not surprised you can’t see ROI.

The difference between organic and paid content when it comes to website words, is that keywords and website traffic takes months, if not years to build.

What have we missed? Are there any other forms of ROI on organic content you’d like to know?

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.

Tourism Marketing Trends_Media Mortar

Tourism marketing trends to focus on in 2021

By | Stories

We all know 2020 wasn’t the year we asked for in the tourism industry, but our bottom lines are the proof it’s the one we got.

As the world starts speculating about what comes next for tourism and events, we’ve been busy gazing into our content marketing crystal ball to help you capitalise on consumer marketing trends.

Just last week we presented our forecast to the Local Government Association of Queensland and wanted to share where we see 2021 going for the industry we know and love so much.

If you’re working on your 2021 marketing plans, we’d recommend focusing on these emerging (and ongoing) marketing trends.

Opportunity 1: Harness the power of organic search

Media Mortar_Tourism marketing trendsWe all know content is king, but it’s very clear not all content wears a crown.

Before picking up the latest marketing tools (*cough* IG Reels), start a content audit of all your existing assets and ask, are you providing your customers with the best information?

You want to be able to match the demand of consumer search for domestic tourism (thank you international border restrictions), with content that answers their queries.

More people are searching “things to do near me” while they remain geographically bound. Your lowest hanging fruit when it comes to driving conversion is simply to help them.

Fast action items:

  • Create a list of content in market for your destination/product/event and ask yourself is it dated? Our marketing asset audit tool will help
  • Read every page of your website – and ask yourself: Is everything accurate? Is everything as informative as it should be?
  • Start making a traffic light system of the most urgent content updates that need to be made

Opportunity 2: When others go dark, the spotlight is yours

We wouldn’t normally advocate that marketing is just a game of speed, but in 2021 we think the race-for-audience-attention-space will be won by the speed at which it hits the market.

It’s never been more important to get to market first – because Australian tourism is about to enter an era of reduced customer share and increased competition.

Being active when your competitors are not (because they’re too busy getting their act together), will default the spotlight of the consumer’s attention to you.

We saw this happen in March and April when some clients were concerned about marketing through the pandemic and other destinations got the jump on consumer awareness, purely because they showed up.

Fast action items:

  • Plan in advance so you can be first to market, rather than reactive with your marketing materials. For example, all Queensland destinations, products and events should have all of their Sydney-facing Facebook ads banked and ready go-live the minute the Premier makes her call on the border restrictions to get to market the very same day

Opportunity 3: Talk to your customers through low-cost means

Tourism marketing trends_country roadWe’re guessing your marketing budgets have been sliced and diced like a teppanyaki vegetable for 2021, so what we recommend is doubling down on organic content marketing channels.

Start by setting up a rhythm to speak to your customers – whether your customers are external, industry or internal staff.
One of the things we’ve found eye-opening over COVID is the fact many tourism operators and destinations have huge databases and yet, have never done anything with them.

Take for instance a hotel we recently started working with, who had over 23,000 people in their database and yet, never sent them so much as a “hello” by email.

As a rule of thumb, if you can’t remember the last time you spoke to your customers, it’s probably time to refocus your efforts onto your eNewsletter program or social media and start posting.

Fast action items:

Opportunity 4: Experiment with new forms of content

You heard at the start of this blog post that content is king, but good news for you, this royal family doesn’t have expensive taste.

Content has never been cheaper to produce, so make 2021 the year to experiment with your content production (once you’ve mastered the basics of course).

If your business/region wants to start its own radio program, why not start a podcast? You want to distribute your own news, why not start a blog? Do you want to encourage relocation to the region? Get advertising on Facebook or YouTube pre-roll.

If you’re looking for new results from your marketing, stop sticking to the same old channels that you’re used to – get creative.

Fast action items:

  • Video outperforms still images on every single channel, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn. Make 2021 the year to experiment with videos. They don’t need to be high production quality – even a simple time-lapse shot on your phone will do
  • The Instagram algorithm (at the moment) favours reels, so it’s time to get reely good making them

Opportunity 5: Collaborate More. Compete Less

Media Mortar_Tourism marketing trendsAs the competition to stand out becomes higher within Australian tourism, it’s time to look to industry partners within your regions as collaborators rather than competitors.

It’s a lot easier to hunt in a pack than on your own, so finding those strategic partnerships will be crucial to your growth and development in this brave new world.

Over the COVID period we’ve seen great partnership examples between multiple councils, chambers of commerce and large industries all with the shared purpose of attracting more residents and visitors to region.

Fast action items:

  • Collaboration is a non-negotiable in 2021, so write a list of people you can collaborate with to make larger marketing waves than your current ripples

Opportunity 6: Harness Digital Literacy

Among the dark clouds of COVID-19 there was an unexpected silver lining, digital literacy.

In fact, sociologists believe the digital transformation and adoption we saw between March and May packed what would normally take about seven years into seven weeks.

Former markets like grey nomads, retirees, silver surfers – whatever you want to call them – who relied on print and in-person services turned into digital literates. It’s unlikely they’ll be going back to their pen and paper ways now they’ve got tech on their side.

They are also more mobile than ever before, which calls into question how you distribute your information to them.

One of the best traditional tourism pivots we’ve heard in 2020 is one council area shutting down all physical VICs. They replaced them with a company car that travels like a car-boot sale to events and markets in the region.

If the visitors won’t go to the VIC, maybe the VIC should go to the visitors – whether that’s digitally or physically, or better yet, both.

Fast action items:

  • Skew your marketing plans towards digital. Not only will it be cheaper for you than offline methods, but you’ll also be able to talk more accurately to your entire target audience.

Opportunity 7: Turn your biggest challenges into opportunities

Tourism marketing trends_Media MortarAnyone working with Australian tourism will know the tyranny of distance has always been the biggest barrier for encouraging people to visit. But what if it was now your biggest opportunity?

We know our customers are motivated by safe and secure travel. Your USP, whether you’re north, south, east or west is the fact Australia is sparsely populated and by and large managing COVID well.

Fast action items:

  • Wide-open spaces, cleanliness and no crowds should be at the forefront of any marketing you do

Opportunity 8: Make friends with the media

If there was a time for Public Relations to be your biggest marketing play, 2021 is it.

PR is one of the lowest-cost opportunities in the marketing playbook – with some of the highest returns thanks to the credibility and trust authority it brings with it.

Build out a PR plan for the year and get friendly with your local journalists for a more successful pitch.

Fast action items:

Opportunity 9: Be a thought leader

Tourism marketing trends_Media MortarIf there is one thing we ask of you – please don’t be a shrinking violet.

2021 is a time for advocacy for your region, product or event – so be the bold spokesperson the tourism industry needs you to be.

Be the one to start petitions, community groups or networking nights within your region to bring like-minded people together. Don’t wait to hear about the problems or advocacy after the fact in the newspaper.

Remember when you stand for nothing, you can’t make the change you want to see in the world.

Fast action items:

  • Stand with your industry on issues that are likely going to continue to affect it in 2021 – whether that’s border restrictions, job shortages, skills gaps and foreign worker permits

Opportunity 10: Do something new. Don’t rely on the past

We’re going to leave you with one final thought. Just remember with marketing, most ideas fail not because they were bad, but because they were so watered down to blend in, that they never stood a chance. At least, that’s our experience and we’ve seen a lot of campaigns launch.

This is a new world we’re living and marketing in – so there’s very little benefit to relying on historical data or what’s worked in the past. 2021 is not the time to dust off the “we’ve always done it that way” approach.

Instead, our recommendation is to take things to market quickly so if you fail, you fail fast. Your new marketing mantra is progress over perfection – click here to see why.

Fast action items:

  • Let your customers dictate whether your campaign or idea works well, rather than debating it internally for months to a point your campaign is no longer timely or appealing.
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_Tourism marketing mistakes_bowl of strawberries

Are you making one of these tourism marketing mistakes?

By | Stories

The good thing about marketing mistakes is that you can learn from them.

The even better thing about mistakes, is they don’t even have to be your own to be a learning opportunity.

That’s why we’re lifting the lid on the biggest tourism marketing mistakes we encounter, on repeat.

Before you start executing your tourism marketing plans, make sure you’re not falling into one of these common pitfalls.

1. Just a reminder, TVCs were designed for the TV. Keep them there

Don’t get us wrong, we’re all about content efficiencies, but sharing content that’s not fit for channel isn’t just poor marketing practice, it’s a disaster.

And marketers should know better when the clue is in the name. TVC stands for Television Commercial, which is indeed where they should be distributed.

Rather than produce one style of video to rule them all, a better approach is to seek advice from your production agency on how to create multiple cuts so you have a different version for social – something purpose-built for the small screen.

Since each channel has very different audiences (and audience behaviour), you’ll find you get much more out of your video if you make it fit for purpose, rather than channel agnostic.

2. Exclusively using elderly models in your photos because you want to target the grey nomad market

You know who likes looking in the mirror? Very few people.

Just because your visitors are senior citizens, doesn’t mean they want to identify as seniors and have their age marketed back at them.

To use an entirely white-haired cast to promote your new tour is quite frankly ageist and offensive, and flies in the face of what you were really trying to do; create diversity in your ads.

While we’re not advocating 20-year-old coat hangers in your ads, just remember that diversity is only achieved by being truly diverse.

Instead of going for one couple with white hair, opt for a range of ages and ethnicities next time you’re planning a shoot.

3. Not sending emails because you don’t personally read the eNewsletters you subscribe to

Media Mortar_Tourism marketing mistakes_Sweet treatsI’m going to let you in on a secret – I don’t like bananas. But just because I don’t like bananas doesn’t mean they aren’t a $1.3billion industry to Australia.

And the same goes for eNewsletters.

To say they don’t work just because you don’t read them is completely unscientific and based on a market research study of one person – you.

It’s well-recorded email marketing returns on average $44 for every $1 spent on it, suggesting email marketing still wears the content marketing crown.

Sure, if you’ve experimented and learnt that email marketing is not for you, that’s one thing. But to base your entire marketing strategy on your own taste, is not only not strategic, but a sure-fire way for your marketing efforts to stagnate and stay the same.

4. A website that looks like it was built on dial up

You know what the world is full of? Terrible websites and unfortunately, some of the worst offenders come from the accommodation industry.

Remember, everything communicates, but none more so than your communications tools.

Have you ever wondered what customers think when they land on an outdated website?

For me, I think if you don’t renovate your website, which is arguably a cheap cost of doing business, I can’t imagine what your rooms are like (the cost of which to renovate is substantially more).

No matter what industry you work in, website updates are just like lodging your tax return – they are just a cost of doing business.

5. Not having online booking or integrated availability calendars

Media Mortar_Tourism marketing mistakes_Quest Apartments ToowoombaI can’t tell you how many tourism websites I look at who still don’t have online booking, or some sort of real-time availability on their website.

We all know customers are time poor and want their answers straight away. Not having instantaneous booking isn’t your way of teaching them to be patient, it’s your way of giving your competitors a free swing at your revenue.

If customers can’t determine if you have availability, they’ll bounce to the next business who can tell them.

Competitor = 1. You = 0.

Price and complex technology used to be a barrier to entry, but not anymore.

Now everyone down to your local hairdresser and café, has some sort of calendar integration these days and there are low-cost third-party apps that plug into just about every CMS.

6. Moving to tactics with no strategy in place

The most powerful question anyone can ever ask around a marketing strategy table is, “why”?

It’s such a simple question and yet so seldom asked – and would have saved so many terrible campaigns from being released into the wild.

If you don’t know why you’re doing your marketing activity, it’s probably a good idea to put your ‘big idea’ on the shelf until you do.

Product (whether that’s social media, a new website, TVC or influencer campaign) with no purpose is not strategic marketing.

It’s just noise and there’s plenty of other things that make noise that cost a lot less … like whistles.

To get you started, here’s our DIY strategy builder.

7. These six words ‘we’ve always done it that way’

I’ve seen plenty of ways to kill a good idea, but none are more effective as these six fatal words: ‘we’ve always done it that way’.

We all know nothing changes if nothing changes, so don’t go expecting new results from the same outputs.

Before going down the creative road, ask yourself if you’re willing to change what you’re doing.

If not, probably best not to engage outside ideas or an agency to save yourself those six words and all of their time.

8. Overcooking (or undercooking) your social media photos

Without sounding like Goldilocks, there’s an art to getting your social media photos just right. They don’t need too much production value, but not too little either.

Before booking the stylist, make sure you consider the purpose of your shoot and put that front and centre.

We’ve seen plenty of shoots go completely belly up, when the subject of the photograph became a secondary objective in the creative throes of making content magic.

A tight brief is a good brief, which is why we’ve designed you this brief template which is adaptable to any contractor you’re working with.

No matter what activity you’re about to kick off, remember, making mistakes is totally fine. Just so long as you learn from them.

For more common pitfalls and how to avoid them, you might like to read:

6 Event marketing pitfalls and how to avoid them

6 common marketing mistakes small businesses make

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.

Organic content and social media

Three reasons organic content is not dead

By | Stories

Call me biased as a content marketer who makes a living out of organic content, but I take offence when people say marketing is ‘pay to play’.

Over the course of my career, I’ve seen proof that organic content can perform like a high-powered Ferrari on a race track, when it’s released in the right conditions.

Sure, organic content might not work like it used to (remember the days where you could put up a photo on Facebook and have it be seen by ALL your followers?). But it’s a far cry from being dead and buried.

In my experience, organic content that’s rich in value, timely in distribution and released into the right hands will have every chance of performing as well as any paid piece.

But rather than tell you organic content is not dead, let me show you three reasons why organic should still firmly sit in your marketing plans.

1. Launch and write a blog

If you’ve had a squiz at our portfolio, you’ll know we write a lot of blogs. At least 120,000 words of them each year and that’s a conservative guess.

You know the reason we sell so many blogs? Our clients know they are a sure-fire way to build their website traffic.

Blogs are seriously powerful, working twofold in driving more people to your site via keywords. Via the magic of long form content, blogs also keep them on your page for longer.

But does it work?

One of our clients publishes 16 x new blog posts per month (and we should call out, that’s a lot). Their blog is their single biggest website traffic driver, responsible for more than 100,000 sessions each month.

Another client, was able to lift the average time spent on site from under 30 seconds to over a two and half minutes in just six months.

Naturally, when you keep people online for longer reading blogs, you have more time to show value, build trust and ultimately hit them with a call to action.

And since stories drive sales, it’s not just your SEO-guru telling you to blog – as content marketers, we are too.

Good news! Starting a blog isn’t as hard as you think (in fact, we wrote a whole post to help you start your own). It all begins with making a plan for your editorial content (download a free template here). Then all that’s left to do (after a bit of SEO work) is watch your website analytics soar.

You’re welcome.

2. Build an organic social media following

Media Mortar content marketing_build an organic social media followingThere are only two ways to build an audience on social media:

  1. You work consistently at building an organic one over time, or:
  2. You use ads to do the heavy-lifting for you, or better yet, a combination of both

I won’t pretend for a minute that you don’t get faster, more efficient reach through paid means. We all know the Facebook and Instagram algorithms were designed to make advertisers part with their cash.

That said, we wouldn’t spend 80% of our week running organic social media accounts if we didn’t believe in the product we’re selling. I’m also sure, we wouldn’t have a full roster of social media management clients if they didn’t see results in what they’re buying.

What I see week-in week-out, is that a really good organic post can perform as well as any paid post.

Take for instance a recent organic post we shared about a snow event in Stanthorpe. When released into the Facebook wild, it had the same traffic as previous paid posts, without any of the paid spend to get it there.

The trick for making an organic post spike like this isn’t a formula. But it is as simple as knowing your audience. Organic content outperforms when the post is topical, meaningful and value-laden for your audience.

Beyond these three golden rules of content, your best chance of building and growing your organic content is simply by consistently showing up.

But does it work?

To prove it, listen to episode 10 of CONTENTious where we interview a client who has grown from 300 followers to 50,000 followers on Instagram through organic means only.

This isn’t an isolated example, we had one client whose Instagram grew under our management from 12.1k to over 41k in just two years. And they didn’t spend a dime on engagement ads.

So, is organic content dead? Sorry, not even close.

3. Get pitch perfect, start working on your publicity

Media Mortar content marketing_get pitch perfect with your publicityIn marketing terms there are two ways to get featured in a magazine, TV or online – you pay for it, or you pitch your way there through publicity.

Sure, advertising might be quick, controlled and a guaranteed message. But nothing trumps organic PR when it comes to trustworthiness or credibility in the eyes of the consumer.

But does it work?

If you’ve ever wanted to see how effective organic PR is as a form of conversion marketing, just ask any business who has been lucky enough to host the Today Show or Sunrise. Seriously, their phones won’t stop ringing.

Publicity isn’t just confined to print and the big screen. Don’t forget working with digital influencers is an important part of any organic marketing plan.

It will come as no surprise, our team are huge advocates for including an influencer strategy as part of any media plan. We’re so passionate about it, we even wrote you this guide if you want to DIY your influencer activity.

Organically speaking, influencer campaigns work so many ways. They can increase reach, awareness and content gathering – but most importantly in the context of organic content, growing your brand’s following.

Take for instance a recent campaign we ran in Roma. By partnering with an influencer who has more than 400k followers, we saw our client’s organic channels more than double during a seven-day campaign. This was purely through the influencer tagging their handle in his posts.

From where I’m sitting, I’d call that an organic content win, wouldn’t you?

Organic content might perform differently to how it once did, but it’s certainly not dead.

The next time someone tells you marketing is just ‘pay to play’, you might like to dust off this blog or this episode of CONTENTious. You can remind whoever is telling you to put down their grave-digging shovel – organic content is alive and well, and we’ve got the results to prove it.

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.