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Highs and lows of 2020: Media Mortar Report

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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

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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.

The Fashion Heist_Brisbane Airport

10 tips for working with digital influencers

By | Stories

Did you know 71 per cent of Australian consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a post by a digital influencer? Based on this stat alone, we think it’s time you considered adding digital influencers into your marketing strategy too.

Before you stop reading and start sending your product to influencers, pump the breaks.

There are a lot of steps required to find your perfect digital influencer match before the art of influencing happens.

Whether you’re a small brand or a global one, your purpose for working with an influencer should always be clear.

You should have chosen influencer marketing over say, paid advertising, because your purpose is one (or all) of these reasons:

  • To share your message in an authentic way
  • You want assistance to grow your channels organically
  • To build positive brand awareness
  • So you can increase your brand’s reach with a new (like-minded) audience

To help you get started with your first digital influencer campaign, think of this as your 10-step guide to working with digital influencers – from finding, minding and finalising.

1. Do you go micro or macro – and we’re not talking about calories

KB Sugarfree_Brisbane Airport_Seeds

Image by @kbsugarfree

Before you go down the rabbit hole of scrolling for hours on Instagram, you’ll want to first decide on the type of influencer to work with.

The easiest way is to break them down into two categories: micro or macro.

While micro-influencers have a smaller following (less than 10K) they often have a more engaged community within a niche interest group.

Meanwhile, macro-influencers are everyday names with large followings and are owners of the coveted blue tick. However, their engagement rate is often lower due to the size of their following.

You’ll need to be realistic about your budget if selecting a macro influencer, as a big one (with celebrity status) will charge five or six figures for a single post, sometimes more.

Research shows that micro-influencers have 22 times more conversion than macro-influencers, as they have a more personal connection to their audience. This is something to keep in mind before throwing your whole budget on someone with over 100K following.

2. Get scrolling with purpose

Ready, set, scroll – right?

Before you get a repetitive strain injury on your forefinger from hours of scrolling, it’s worthwhile refining your search to find the right influencer.

For example, the search bar on Instagram can be your best friend; search relevant hashtags or locations to find your perfect partnership.

  • Looking for a food influencer in Brisbane? Search #BrisbaneFoodie
  • Want a travel influencer in New South Wales? Try @visitsydney and search their feed or tagged photos to see which influencers are actively posting and tagging in this location
  • Need a mummy influencer for your campaign? Find one you like and see who they are following and you’re likely to find a bevvy more.

At this stage in your influencer search, you’ll want to create a list of names – five to ten – that you can shortlist further (more on that coming up!).

3. Find an influencer who matches your brand

The Fashion Heist_Brisbane Airport digital influencer

Image by @thefashionheist

Now that you have a shortlist of Instagram handles to review, it’s time to ensure it’s a Cinderella glass slipper moment with your brand.

Review their feed with these questions top of mind:

  • Does the influencer post the style of images that fit your brand? If you’re selling running shoes, would you get a food blogger to post? Your brand needs to make sense on their platform too.
  • Do they post consistently?
  • Do they have an engaged following? If you’re new to this, there’s a range of free tools online that can help you with this step so you can compare engagement rates between influencers
  • What are their Stories like? Often people’s feeds are aesthetically pleasing but their stories might be politically charged which might not be the right fit for you

This process should help refine your list to only those you’re prepared to consider for your campaign.

4. Reach out to your influencer of choice

Rachel Thaiday_Brisbane Airport_Krispy Kreme digital influencer activity

Image by @rachelthaiday

With your shortlist in hand, it’s time to pick up the virtual phone and reach out.

Of course, by virtual phone, we mean sliding into their DMs (unless they have an email address listed in their bio).

Just like any business email, make sure you state who you are, why you are reaching out and what the campaign is all about.

If you’ve slid into their DMs, include an email address or phone number to continue the conversation – ain’t nobody got time for endless DMs.

5. Ask for a rate card

Depending on whether you’ve approached a macro or micro-influencer, they should have a rate card or media kit that outlines how much they charge per deliverable as well as a summary of their audience.

If they don’t have a professional document, just ask for a summary (in writing) of their fees. Also request a few screenshots of their audience and engagement rates from their social media platforms (making sure you have evidence of their reach on the channels you want to use in your campaign).

These two pieces of information are important to ensure your chosen influencer fits within your budget and will reach your desired audience. It also guarantees you’re investing in a legitimate influencer, not someone with fake followers.

6. Be prepared to pay for content

KB Sugarfree_Brisbane Airport_Glasshouse Bar

Image by @kbsugarfree

Speaking of budget… make sure you have money allocated for your digital influencer campaign.

We’re saving you from learning the hard way – being a good influencer is a craft and one worth paying for. The digital influencer industry is expected to reach 10 billion dollars this year, which shows the level of investment by brands and further proof this influence thing is big business.

We’re proponents for paying for content because it means you have control over what is posted and the messaging attached to it. As the old saying goes, he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Keep in mind, there are other ways to pay influencers than just dollars and cents. If you’re a hotel, you may wish to offer contra arrangements (a night’s accommodation and a meal in the restaurant for two guests) in exchange for a number of posts and stories.

Just remember from the brand perspective, there is still a hard cost to contra agreements, so make sure that’s outlined to your influencer of choice as you would a monetary arrangement.

7. Write a Memorandum of Understanding (aka MOU)

Just like you wouldn’t build a house without a contract with your builder, you shouldn’t engage with a digital influencer without one either.

An MOU ensures both parties are ‘on the same page’ with the contracted deliverables, timeframe, process and payment terms. After all, you can’t pay your staff or business expenses with an influencer’s reach alone.

At a minimum, these should be included in your MOU:

  • The total fee to be paid to the influencer or total value received in contra
  • The deliverables – how many posts, on which channels and required tagging or hashtags and what content (e.g. images) you’re going to own in-perpetuity
  • Timeframe – both the date range for posting and reporting
  • The process – approval or reporting requirements from the influencer
  • Your payment terms

If you’re unsure where to start with writing an MOU, we’ve got you covered with this downloadable template.

While your MOU is your official contract which your influencer should sign and return before any work is started, it should be supported by a detailed brief that gives the influencer all the information they need to ensure they deliver content that meets your campaign needs.

8. Create a detailed brief

The Fashion Heist_Brisbane Airport_Peter Alexander

Image by @thefashionheist

If you’ve ever worked with a photographer or graphic designer, you’ll understand the importance of a brief.

Without one, you are giving the digital influencer ‘creative license’ to capture the content as they see best, and believe us, this doesn’t always make for the most useable content.

A brief should include:

  • The campaign overview and objectives
  • Dates for the campaign and importantly, deliverables
  • Target audience
  • Key messages
  • Naming conventions
  • Required tagging and hashtags
  • What not to do

The last point is often overlooked yet probably more important than the other pieces of information in the brief.

For example, if you’re working with an influencer who is creating content for a tourism brand, would you want them taking pictures on the edge of a cliff and tagging your brand? Err – we think not.

To help you get started with writing the perfect brief, we’ve got a template available for download over here.

9. Get the stats, stat.

If this is your first digital influencer activation, one of the burning questions you’ll want to know is: did it work?

To answer this, you’ll need your influencer to send through their stats: likes, comments, shares, saves, reach and impressions in a campaign report.

Influencers should prepare this for you, but we recommend sharing exactly what you need for reporting to ensure it syncs with your internal template.

As people’s social media habits change, it’s important to have a holistic view of how people engaged with the content as likes and comments often isn’t enough anymore, it’s now all about the offline (DM) conversations.

Make sure you read this blog to ensure you’re also integrating these stats into your overall marketing objectives.
Got good results? Create a master spreadsheet with your favourite influencers to work with for future campaigns to make your next influencer campaign much faster to run.

10. Share their content on your channels

Fat Mum Slim_Brisbane Airport Corporation_digital influencer program

Image by @fatmumslim

Once the content created by the influencers has been posted on their channels make sure you plan it into your upcoming content calendars too.

While you may have engaged the influencer to promote your product or service to their followers, you need to remember that they are also providing content for you to power your own feeds – so don’t let it go to waste.

It’s your job to act as a megaphone for their content, including stories, during their time with you too.

Don’t forget, if you’ve negotiated high-res joint copyright images, you can start sharing these in the manner you agreed to whether that be website, print, magazine.

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.

5 marketing activities that won’t cost you a dime

By | Stories

If COVID-19 has taught us one thing with marketing activities (Eds note: if only it was just one thing), it’s how quickly marketing budgets can change.

We saw many of our clients go from hundreds of thousands of marketing dollars to a next-to-nothing budget. It made us think about the marketing activities that can be achieved when your marketing dollars run dry.

Regardless of if you had a large budget to start with or are just starting out in business, we’ve got five marketing activities you can implement to boost your brand that won’t cost you a dime – or cent, because #Australia.

1. Organic social media

Media Mortar_content marketing agency_Organic social media accountsDid you know social media usage has grown by nine per cent in the past year alone and has over 3.8 billion active users?

From where we’re sitting, that’s a whole lot of potential eyeballs on your product or service for the cost of downloading your social media app of choice (which is free) and being active.

To get started, all you need to do is to work out which channels are for you, complete one of these DIY marketing calendars for the month ahead and get scheduling.

Sound like a lot of effort? Don’t worry our Social Media Handbook takes you through a step-by-step approach to setting up your channels for your business.

While you might need to dip into your business wallet to book a professional photographer to build a photo library to get going, don’t forget your smartphone is a great tool if you need to DIY.

For DIY photography tips, you’ll love Episode 7 of our Contentious Podcast where we sit down with Krista Eppelstun and talk all things smartphone photography.

2. Ask for a review

Media Mortar_Ask for a client review_Marketing activities that won't cost you a dimeShow of virtual hands if you’ve ever gone down the rabbit hole of TripAdvisor when planning a holiday or Google Reviews before deciding where to eat? Yep, us too!

In fact, we’ve been known to not even read the host’s description on Airbnb but go straight to the guest reviews to get a real read on how ‘spacious’ the New York studio apartment is.

If you’re looking at reviews when deciding where to go, stay or eat, what makes you think people aren’t screening the reviews of your business too?

Reviews are so powerful, we even called reviews the secret sauce your business needs, but if you don’t believe us, these stats will have you starting on your review strategy:

  • 97% of people read reviews for local business
  • 93% of people say their online reviews impact purchasing decisions
  • 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review

You know the secret to getting more reviews?

It’s not a trick question – you just need to ask for them.

The best way to do this is to build asking for reviews into your standard operating procedures or point of sale.

Remember, your best chance of getting a customer to leave a review is in the moment. As soon as they cross the threshold of your business, they’re onto the next thing and next request for review.

3. Call your current customers and see how they are

Media Mortar_content marketing agency_check in with your customersEvery single business has two audiences – existing customers and ones who don’t know about you yet.

Most businesses make the mistake of only marketing to the latter, rather than pointing their efforts inwards on existing customers and giving them a reason to stay.

Now more than ever, communication and connectivity are important. Use this time to engage on a personal level with your customers and ask how they are. The cost? Just your time.

If you’re waiting for the next enquiry to drop in your inbox, you could be missing out.

Ask yourself these two questions:

  • What if my client has been too swamped to reach out but needs help with a job
  • What if my client doesn’t know I can help with a certain job

Eliminate any room for doubt and reach out to your existing customers. Too often these ‘what ifs’ are just confidence blocks standing in the way of your next sale.

4. Write a blog post

Media Mortar_content marketing agency_write a blog postTap, tap, tap – can you hear the keyboard working its magic?

While you’ll find us at Media Mortar HQ crafting words for clients, we also dedicate time to write our own blog posts. Case. In. Point.

Put pen to virtual paper and share your knowledge and expertise with your audience. Create an editorial calendar of value-laden blog posts you can share with your audience.

What you’ll find is your website traffic starts to grow and time spent on your website rises. This is a powerful combination that anyone who sells online will know drives new sales.

Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with this blog post (see what we did there…).

5. Ask for a referral

Nailed a recent job? Delivered an exceptional campaign? Designed the ultimate creative that’s going straight to the pool room?

That’s all great but did you ask for a referral from those satisfied clients to turn your homerun into something more?

We’re yet to meet a business owner who doesn’t say word of mouth referrals are their best sales-tool. So many miss the opportunity to capture the glowing sentiment of a happy customer by asking for a referral.

It’s not just us who swears by referrals, some companies report referred clients are three times more likely to convert than someone who wasn’t.

Not sure where to start? We recommend asking your golden clients if they are happy to refer you to their industry connections (if they’re ok with it, of course).

Leave those feelings of awkwardness at the door, because we’ve never met a client who wasn’t happy to help when your request comes from a genuine place.

Just remember ‘what you appreciate, appreciates’ so don’t be shy to also pass on the favour and refer your clients to others too.

What are your favourite free marketing activities?

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.

Media Mortar_4 ways we marketed during a pandemic

4 ways we adapted to market our business through a pandemic

By | Stories

You know who needs a tourism marketing agency when the world can’t travel through a pandemic? Very few people it turns out.

But if three years of running a business have taught me anything, it’s that you don’t wish for more business, you work for it.

Needless to say, we’ve been busy these past three months through the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting our way of doing business to meet our market (the tourism and events industry) where they needed us most.

I wanted to share four ways we’ve changed our way of working to respond to these times, because it looks like we’re all about to take a step back into more restrictions across the country.

What I know for sure is that we all need to be ready to adapt again, are you ready?

1. We launched our podcast CONTENTious

Media Mortar_Hannah Statham_Contentious podcastIn any other non-pandemic year, by August, I’d be seven or eight speaking gigs into the year.

But since COVID-19 wiped my speaking agenda, I decided to create my own speaking circuit – launching CONTENTious – a fortnightly content marketing podcast that debunks storytelling myths.

I now speak to hundreds of people without leaving my office, or in fact, my listeners having to leave theirs.

In fact, our Media Mortar voice is now heard by more people than any IRL speaking gig has ever allowed for – and it’s all through the power of a RODE USB Microphone and a Whooshka account.

While many people (*cough, ABC*) mocked those who started a podcast during the COVID-19 pandemic, to them I say – ‘it is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change’ –Charles Darwin.

And really, that’s what this is all about, adapting to change (something I’ve become quite adept at).

If you haven’t given it a listen yet, you’ll find our latest CONTENTious episodes over here.

2. We created a 365-day Content Calendar

Media Mortar_52 week content planner for the tourism industryContrary to what our Instagram account might have you believe, 70% of our week is spent managing social media accounts for brands from behind the desk.

So, when the COVID pandemic hit and many of our retained client database could no longer afford our full social media managed services package, our model was forced to adapt.

We’ve always believed social media management should be accessible for everybody. We provided three levels of social media solutions from $21.99 (our Social Skills Handbook), a middle-tier social media bootcamp to teach you all the skills to run the accounts yourself and finally, our full-scale outsourced managed services where we take the reins.

What we didn’t have was something in between that took away the pain of running the accounts for businesses still reluctant to DIY.

Over COVID-19, we met the market where they needed us. We developed a 365-day Content Calendar for tourism and event operators – to provide a caption cure and thought-starter for every single business day of the year.

Essentially, it’s our brain, strategy and caption ideas if we were managing your accounts for 12 months, but all for an investment of 63 cents per week.

In one calendar, we eliminated the question “what will I post today” and banished any excuse for running unscheduled social media content.

Our 365 Content Calendar has now been downloaded by operators in three Australian States already and we love seeing it in action. You can get your mitts on a copy, over here.

3. We launched Quarterly Marketing Mentoring

Media Mortar_Quarterly Marketing Mentoring sessionsIf the COVID-crisis taught us all anything, it’s that a good communication manager is worth their weight in gold.

Over the past three months, we’ve all seen instances where a brand sent the wrong message into market (virus-protection leggings anyone?) and ended up in the media for the wrong reasons.

The pandemic provided clear demand for businesses to have a senior communications manager to set the strategic course for the business. But due to the aforementioned financial limitations, hiring one was outside most businesses scope.

But what if you could have a senior communications manager on-demand?

Enter our Quarterly Marketing Mentoring program, which includes a 1.5-hour strategy session with me, followed by two, one-hour accountability calls in the next two months.

The result after launching the Quarterly Marketing Mentoring on Instagram only? A fully booked marketing mentoring calendar with clients in a range of industries from tourism, construction, beauty to fitness.

4. We started showing our faces more

Media Mortar_Hannah Statham_Marketing during a pandemicDespite telling everyone else (for years) to show up on Instastories and LinkedIn videos, we used the time over the pandemic to walk our own talk.

With production value officially out the window and everybody working from home, we experimented with DIY filming. We created a weekly Marketing Minute series on LinkedIn and made a commitment to show up in June on IG Stories (ashamedly for the first time).

Proving necessity is indeed the mother of invention, we had a heap of fun learning how to create video content for ourselves. It was a refreshing change of pace after spending years making content for everyone else (meanwhile, forgetting ourselves).

If you’ve already read our year in review, you’ll know we’ll be taking this to new levels this financial year. We’ll be introducing more regular eNewsletters, a formalised YouTube channel and LinkedIn appearances.

While I wish it didn’t take a global pandemic to give us as much perspective as it did – I’m certainly glad we now have these four rock-solid offerings to add into our suite of services for when we all return to the new normal.

How did your business meet the market where it was at during COVID-19?

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_How to start a blog post for your business

How to start a blog for your business

By | Stories

So, a marketing specialist has told you that you need to start a blog. What next?

Don’t sit in front of your computer wondering how to put pen to virtual paper.

Pour yourself a cup of creativity (aka coffee) and start working through this step by step guide for how to start a blog.

Your new blog is about to become one of your most valuable marketing assets – just keep an eye on your Google Analytics to see why.

One of our client’s blogs single-handedly is responsible for 110,000 visitors per month to their website, the kind of web-traffic we know most small business owners would trade their best employee for.

Results like this are yours for the making when you know what to do.

Want-to-be-bloggers, pick up your pencils and get ready to start a blog for your business with this guide.

Step 1: Know your audience

Media Mortar_Knowing your target audience to start a blog for your business

If there’s one tip to start a blog worth stringing up in lights, it’s this – write with an audience in mind.

Before picking up a pen, start by asking, who do you want to talk to? Who don’t you want to walk to? And start seriously questioning why your audience should read your blog in the first place.

Once you’ve articulated who will be motivated to read your new blog, you’ll find the words and the creative juices flow more freely.

If you’re unsure where to start a blog, we wrote a five-step guide to defining your target audience, over here, which will get you crystal clear on who’s listening.

Step 2: Create a blog editorial plan

Throwing blog topics at the wall like spaghetti is never a good idea. If you want to be a strategic communicator, you need to plan like one.

We’d suggest downloading this template to map out your editorial plan, to ensure you stay on track.

It’s no coincidence the first step in our DIY Content Builder is determining how frequently you intend on blogging.

Most small business owners start with the intention of one post per month when they start a blog, but the reality is a quarterly blog is a more realistic commitment.

Step 3: Research keywords

Media Mortar_research keywords to start a blog for your business

The actual writing of your blog post should be driven by two things:

  1. The relevance of the topic to your target audience (see step 1)
  2. The volume of keywords from people looking for it

Before writing, we always consult Google Keyword Planner to find the search volume of people searching for the exact topic we were intending on writing about.

The reality is that if no one is searching for your blog topic, your blog post will fall on Google’s deaf ears.

That’s not to say a blog topic with low search volume shouldn’t be written or considered in your editorial calendar, but if the search volume is alarmingly low, we would argue you need to be even more clear on your target audience.

Some blog topics are so niche, that although the volume of research is negligible, those who do search for it are such super-fans of this interest area. If that’s the case, there’s still good argument that your content will pack a powerful punch, even only for a micro, but super-engaged audience.

Step 4: Set up the blog page on your website

Let’s talk technical-turkey for a minute.

Before launching your new blog, you’ll need to login to the back end your website for this to set up a ‘blog’ page, pin it to the website home page and choose a format that works for you.

Within most CRM theme-builders you can choose your page layout, including a hierarchy of text size to make reading easier.

We strongly recommend you build a style guide for this process so you can ensure all blog posts look and feel the same on your site as you continue to upload.

If you’re unsure – your web developer will be able to make some recommendations for you.

Step 5: Start writing

Media Mortar_How to start a blog for your businessDust off those memories of creative writing from primary school – start mapping out what inclusions you might add to the start, middle and end of your blog.

You’ll notice most blogs follow a series of ‘frequent formats’ – whether it be a listicle (like this one), ultimate guide to something (with fixed headings), collection of the 10 best items (similar to a listicle but driven by images), long-form feature or a review style.

Use your headings like the bumper rails in a game of ten pin bowling and simply write between the heading-rails.

Spend extra time getting your introduction right, as this is likely to be the part of the blog that the audience is going to spend the most time engaging with.

Step 6: Proofread your work

In the words of Ernest Hemingway, the first draft of anything is shit. And any professional copywriter will tell you the same thing.

As part of your process, review your work at least twice before going live on your blog.

We are so passionate about the proofreading stage that in our content builder template we insist you check your work twice, marking your draft as a Version 1 (v1) and Version 2 (v2).

Better yet, print your post out and coax someone else to review it for you, red pen and all.

Step 7: Make it pretty and optimise your upload

Media Mortar_Start a blog for your businessWords are only one part of the blog equation. You’re going to need images and formatting to go with it too.

Since skim reading is the new norm, you’ll want to arrange your content with lots of white space, bullet points, headings and breaks, so the reader can scurry to where the pertinent information can be found.

When it comes to visuals, you’ve got the option of stock imagery, but our preference, if possible, is to create custom images that relates to your topic to keep the reader engaged on the page.

Beyond images, your chosen CRM will have nuances when it comes to uploading your content to make sure it performs at its best.

A few of the optimisation steps we take on each of our posts, is to ensure any links like this, open in new tabs, ensuring all our images have ALT text and the keyword in the description of the image in the backend.

Small things most of you won’t see – but make a big difference to the delivery (and your SEO, but more on that later).

Step 8: Give people something to do at the end of the post

Never underestimate the power of a call to action.

Very few people are writing blog posts just to fill people’s day with well-crafted words. Chances are you’re starting a blog because the blog post contributes to a higher purpose, i.e. generating a lead or driving a sale.

Calls to actions can be seamlessly woven into blog posts, whether it be contact us, book now, download now.

Or, if you’re unsure how to weave a call to action into your work, email one of our content crew hello@mediamortar.com.au … see what we did there?

Step 9: SEO the shiz out of it

Most CRM’s are smart enough to include an SEO wizard which takes a lot of the guesswork and confusion out of Search Engine Optimisation.

If you’re using WordPress, you can use the Yoast plugin which uses a traffic light system to denote how good your SEO-juice is to the website.

As content creators first and foremost, we don’t like to obsess too much over a glowing green SEO light.

While your SEO is important, the number one objective is making sure your post offers value to the reader, rather than stuffing them full of keywords that your reader will automatically tune out of.

Step 10: Share your work far and wide!

You know the biggest mistake we see when it comes to company’s blogging? Not doing anything with them once they go live.

Once you’ve written a blog post, make sure you share it far and wide, and cut it up into as many social media captions you can muster.

For us, every post makes an Instagram and Facebook post to announce it live, fills a spot in our regular eNewsletter and can also make for a regular LinkedIn post too.

Suddenly, each blog post is now cut at least three or four ways and all the time you’ve invested into writing those words will become well worth the effort.

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.