At the recent inaugural Gateway Conference, hosted by internet shopping giant Alibaba, in Detroit, the vastness of our world was shrunk down to the distance of a couple taps on a smartphone.
A bevy of heavy hitters graced the stage with pearls of welcome and wisdom. Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Quicken Loans, Rock Ventures and a majority of the buildings in downtown Detroit, exhorted the audience to “fear the status quo.” Marcus Lemonis, CNBC’s The Profit, insisted that you “can’t be intimidated” and be successful.
Anatomy of the Marketplace
Daily discussion centered around the concept of “stepping out” to expand your reach and take advantage of the vast possibilities represented by the global marketplace in general, and China in particular, which is transitioning from the role of a major exporter to that of a major importer. And what is being imported is largely American, in order to satisfy an appetite for high-quality, foreign goods.
If you sell products online, the likelihood of simply stumbling into the multi-billion dollar Chinese market is possible, but not likely. The middle-class in China – larger than the entire population of the U.S. – know what they want and how they want to be reached.
They want the best. They want American goods and they want to buy through apps on their smartphones. Plain and simple. Anything and everything is available through an app, so if you want to play in that sandbox, you have to be in the game.
The Queen of Marketing
Martha Stewart is selling everything online. Besides her home goods lines, she now has an online wine shop and Marley Spoon, which sells meal kits for about $9 per person and boasts the benefits of being a time-saver as well as a waste management tool, as everything you need is in the kit and excess food doesn’t go to waste if not used immediately.
Gerber Baby Example
Gerber, a 90-year old Michigan company, found an instant market in China, where till recently, families were limited to one child so only the best would do. Regulations are much more stringent in the U.S., so Chinese families import Gerber products to make sure their children are eating safely.
American-made goods are considered to be of premium quality and are imported through an immense global marketplace that promises 72-hour turnaround from time of order to delivery.
Large companies like Martha Stewart and Gerber certainly satisfy the Chinese people’s craving for aspirational brand purchases, but the scrappier side of the buying public wants something unique and these cravings are satisfied by entrepreneurs and small-business enterprises.
CEO Jack Ma’s Vision
This is the philosophy behind Alibaba. CEO Jack Ma’s vision and mission was to harness the power of the internet for those small-business owners who might not otherwise be able to afford access to this enormous marketplace. Ma considers himself to be a “Chief Education Officer,” teaching entrepreneurs about the intricacies of online marketing.
His philosophy is so simple, so obvious. Put the customer first. Stay focused. Embrace change. Put your employees before your stockholders and stick to your guns on this point in particular. Apparently, it works. Alibaba sold $550 billion in merchandise in the 2016 fiscal year and expects to sell $1 trillion by 2020.
Build your Brand
For those who wish to put their toe in the water and test the global marketplace, Ma says, “build your brand.” Global buyers want to know your story, and they appreciate the humble beginnings that often accompany an entrepreneurial endeavor. Tell your story with honesty and integrity.
The man who couldn’t even get a job at KFC, Ma tells his hard-luck story but doesn’t expect sympathy. He expects you to learn from his mistakes, joking that when he retires, he’ll write a book called “The 1,001 Alibaba Mistakes.” He says “today is hard; tomorrow is harder, but the day after tomorrow is beautiful.”
The internet is ubiquitous and the marketplace is the planet. With the right product or service, coupled with the right branding and a solid strategy, you can reap the massive rewards represented by a truly global market.
From the opening event, with flying drummers (yes – flying) to the last of the break-out sessions, the message was loud and clear. Attitude and fortitude can make small businesses as mighty as the big guys and I was struck by the fact that this is what we offer our clients every day. The ability to market like the big guys, on a global stage.
It was truly significant that Alibaba held its inaugural conference in Detroit, matching a tenacious CEO and his scrappy company with a city of risk-takers who appreciate hard work and entrepreneurial endeavor. It was hard to resist getting caught up in the wave of excitement.
We were recently recognized as one of Michigan’s Economic Bright Spots by Corp! Magazine. The award was presented at the magazine’s annual luncheon on Wednesday, June 8 at the International Banquet Center in Detroit.
For the last nine years, the award has celebrated companies that realize continual growth and expansion and hire Michigan’s brightest talent. The winners will also be featured in the July/August 2017 print issue of Corp! Magazine.
We are very excited to be recognized for this award. When you’re in the marketing business, you typically get awards for creative success, but this celebrates our sustainability, which allows us to hire wonderful, talented people and to continue to grow.
Over the years, our clients have come to realize our value to them as a strong partner for their marketing and advertising teams and we are grateful for that trust in our knowledge and expertise. It was becoming readily apparent that online marketing success would require the help of experts with the ability to strategically navigate the web. At the same time, social marketing was emerging as an important factor and we realized we had found our niche.
We now have 13 full-time employees and a couple of interns on staff as well. We are one of only five Google Partner companies in the area. We’re excited to enter for more awards!
We are excited to announce that we have added a new business development team to SS Digital Media. Leading the new team, we welcome VPs of Business Development, and Laura Oliveto and Marc Williams!
Laura Oliveto (left) has been in the communications services business for her entire career. Starting in the traffic department at Y&R, she then spent two decades in the presentation services arena, managing clients like Ford, TRW, Bosch and GE. Next came nearly a decade in public relations, with clients like TI Automotive, GKN and Hella, followed by her first foray into the world of digital marketing, including website design and online marketing, for clients like Aisin, Huron-Clinton Metroparks and the Woodward Dream Cruise.
Laura is most proud of her decades of work with Stagecrafters, directing, producing and acting, culminating in the restoration of the Baldwin Theater in downtown Royal Oak while she was president. In her current role as Vice President for Business Development at SSDM, she is looking forward to significantly contributing to the continued growth of the company and realization of management goals.
Marc Williams (right) has 10 years of experience as Director of Sales and Marketing with advanced experience in growing sales, creating new sales processes and building an alpha level sales team with a daily sense of urgency. He has a proven track record of generating and closing new opportunities through strategic negotiations while cultivating new relationships with key decision makers. Marc also has extensive experience in solution selling, solid business acumen and strategic sales planning, competitive sales analysis, and developing regional and national marketing plans.
He joins us as our Vice President of Business Development. Marc is a self-described technology nerd and loves finding new ways to automate sales and operational processes. Marc is an avid golfer, a watch collector (much to the dismay of his wife), and all things Meeeeechigan Football as he attends every game.
We are so happy to have you both on our team, Laura and Marc!
We were recognized by the East Central District of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) with a Merit Award in the Community Relations category for a community relations campaign on behalf of the Humane Society of Macomb (HSM).
The campaign included multiple platforms and focused on repositioning public sentiment following protests mounted by a watchdog group accusing HSM of unfit conditions, mistreatment of animals and improper euthanizing techniques. Although the accusations were unfounded, HSM worked hard to improve the overall atmosphere and the animal areas. Their walls were painted in bright colors, kennel spaces were improved and cats were separated from dogs. A new attitude of transparency became the norm.
We helped HSM respond positively on social media, resulting in increased adoptions and improved website communication for the shelter. It was gratifying to see that, after our efforts, the online conversation began to change, the protest group started to post positive comments and communication about the shelter.
We also set up a volunteer portal, optimized blog content and made the website mobile-friendly. In addition, an updated adoptions section was created, and we worked with PetFinder to increase the number of adoptions. Our team also improved website communication that resulted in an increase of 132% in Facebook “likes” and an increase of 222% in Facebook page impressions.
In addition to drastically reducing the amount of negative online commentary, HSM won a Gold Medal Award from the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance as Shelter of the Year. The shelter’s “save rate” jumped from 70% to 98.1% during the course of the year. Volunteer ranks swelled from under five to almost 200.
While it is always nice to win an award, the best reward is to be able to help a partner achieve and exceed their goals. This is why we do what we do!
When creating content for a client, it is important to be consistent. Each element created must remain true to the client’s brand image. A brand image is the way in which a client wishes to be seen by the public. Creating guidelines ensures that content matches the client’s brand and is created in timely manner. Learn how to create content guidelines with these tips from SS Digital Media.
Create Consistent Copy Guidelines
When writing copy, be sure that the tone and voice of your words match the brand of your client. Brands that want to be seen as easy-going can have a more down-to-earth type of writing. However, if a client or brand is more serious, be sure to stick to a more professional tone.
It is also important to keep phrasings consistent. Short, brief phrases can help to build a brand image. If you create a phrase that your client approves of, be consistent with using it to associate it to the brand. Creating a content guideline including keywords, phrases and tone descriptions can help with this consistency.
Designate Specific Design Elements
Design elements can also benefit from the use of content guidelines. Just like copy, it is highly important to create a consistent brand image. Guidelines for specific design elements can help a consumer easily identify your brand without even needing to read a word. Design elements to consider when creating guidelines include, but are not limited to:
- Imagery, and more!
Ensure Content is Created and Implemented
Strict guidelines must be established for the creation, editing and implementation of content. Perhaps the most important, these guidelines ensure that new and updated content is regularly created and posted for the client. These guidelines, along with design and copy guidelines, make sure that all content is client-ready upon completion.
Happy new year! SS Digital Media is continuously growing and evolving as an organization to stay at the forefront of digital marketing and advertising. Check out what you can expect to see in the new year with these top digital trends and predictions for 2017.
1. Messages Catered To Specific Devices
The digital world has infiltrated all facets of daily activity. Even televisions are starting to incorporate interactive advertisements. Electronic devices allow for constant connection between advertisers and consumers.
Moving into 2017, this connection is going to continue to grow. In order to successful in this ever growing digital realm, it is important to cater messages to specific devices. For example, mobile web pages and advertisements should provide only the key information needed by a user while content for laptops and desktops can be more in depth.
2. Transition From Macro-Influencers to Micro-Influencers
User generated content on social media has continuously grown as a tool for advertising and marketing. Social media users with large fan bases have become an essential method for brands to get their messages heard. In the upcoming year, this type of marketing is shifting to focus on smaller, micro-influencers as opposed to their larger counterparts.
This is due to a change in trust by consumers. With this type of influencer branding becoming more popular, consumers are beginning to mistrust posts created by large social media accounts. Believing these messages to be insincere, followers are listening less and less to influencer’s opinions. Shifting toward smaller influencers will allow a brand to reach an influencer’s followers with the message still seeming genuine.
3. Survival of the Fittest Advertising
Google Adwords has been using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to connect user search queries with advertiser keywords for some time now. In 2017, these AI algorithms are going to evolve beyond just words to incorporate other creative components for real-time customer feedback. Google Adwords will rank content based on continuous consumer reactions. Considering factors include:
- Layout and copy
RELATED: Don’t Set It and Forget It: Google AdWords Management
These are just a few of the trends and predictions for the upcoming year. As with everything these days, digital marketing and advertising is continuously changing. All of us at SS Digital Media are excited to see how our field evolves and grows this upcoming year.