Archive for 2022

Which of these three scenarios best describes your marketing?

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An Expense

  • You use last year’s marketing expenses as a starting place to determine your marketing budget when planning for a new year
  • You cut back on marketing along with other business expenses when things need to be tightened
  • You include salaries, customer service costs, and sales-related expenses

An Investment

  • You know you need to spend money to make money
  • You regularly put money into activities that you think will be worthwhile
  • You know that sometimes there will not be a direct line between dollars spent and outcomes

A Machine

  • You know precisely what inputs are needed to generate specific outputs
  • You monitor the machine’s calibration and retool it as needed
  • You are in control – you can turn the machine on and off, speed it up or slow it down

If you are struggling to create a marketing machine, it may be time to enlist professional guidance to make sure you are putting your resources to the best use possible.

How Much Does a Small Marketing Team Cost?

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We provide outsourced marketing services, and clients often question what it would cost to build a comparable in-house team. This article provides research on salary ranges, technology costs and appropriate expectations for a small team, but let’s start with the big picture:

The cost of a three-person marketing team with average salaries would start at $255,000 per year.

What is included in this calculation?

This estimate includes a Marketing Director, a Digital Marketer and a Graphic Designer.

I have used the mid-range salary because employees will be required to wear multiple hats, and in my experience, small companies lack the internal training and leadership for an entry-level marketer to be successful in their role. I have included the base salaries and a 25% increase to cover taxes and benefits, as outlined in the chart below.

The cost of a small marketing team's salaries.

Technology

The estimate also includes the basic technology needed for this team to be successful: Apple Air laptops (3 yr lifespan, purchasing 1/yr), Microsoft Office subscriptions, Adobe subscriptions, two social media management subscriptions and a stock art subscription. This totals $6,748/year which is not a huge expense relative to the salaries.

Marketing technology prices

What can you expect from this team?

This team should be able to handle the basic marketing needs of most small businesses, including email marketing, social media, digital advertising, printed materials and ongoing website content management.

What isn’t included?

Advertising or Printing Expenses – This estimate is limited to the expense of the internal team to manage an organization’s marketing. All advertising, printing and third-party expenses would be on top of this calculation.

Web Development – While the Marketing Director and Digital Marketer should be able to update the content of the website on an ongoing basis, most websites require technical maintenance that will go beyond their skill level. This is one of the more commonly outsourced roles, because it is highly specialized and rarely required on a full-time basis (the common exception being a web-based business). For organizations with a large volume of ongoing content management, it might make sense to hire a Web Developer who can also maintain the technical side of the website.

Copywriting – The Marketing Director should be able to handle the copywriting for most basic advertising pieces (although solid writing skills are becoming increasingly more difficult to find). Organizations that require longer form writing or thought leadership for blogs, proposals, white papers or brochures will require someone with a more specialized writing background and possibly also industry-specific experience.

Professional Photography or Videography – This estimate assumes that employees will use their smartphones to capture digital photos and video, along with a variety of stock art. Professional photography equipment isn’t very expensive if there is a frequent need for it in-house. For infrequent needs, it can easily be outsourced to experts with specialized training and equipment. Videography equipment is much more expensive than photography equipment and quickly becomes dated, but it can be rented in many locations. The computers used for video production would need to be upgraded to include more RAM, storage and better graphics cards. The use of professional equipment for photography and videography requires specialized training and experience.

A Project Manager or Project Management Software – Most small teams do not have a professional Project Manager or a project management tool, so it is not included in this calculation. Having a professional project management tool and a trained staff member can help with organization, prioritization, estimating and productivity reporting. Sometimes, individual team members will either find a free version of a tool online or create their own system using everything from whiteboards to spreadsheets to post-it notes. These usually help with priorities and organization, but individual employees will rarely self-select time tracking or anything that produces performance reporting.

Training or Continuing Education – This estimate does not include the cost of any ongoing education. Digital platforms evolve so rapidly that it will be important to find staff members who are inherent learners who are self-motivated to stay abreast of the latest technologies. This is especially true for the Marketing Director and Digital Marketer. Many employees appreciate employers who cover the costs of certifications and ongoing education, some of which are “free” outside of the time commitment required.

What would a highly experienced team cost?

We also thought it would be fun to calculate the cost of a “Dream Team.” This would vary from one organization to the next, of course, but here’s a big number, with the breakdown below.

A six-person, highly experienced team would cost almost $1,000,000/year.

This team would include the following:

  • All of the staff and technology listed above with all staff at high-end salaries
  • A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) instead of a Marketing Director
  • Additionally, a copywriter and a project manager, and a web developer along with their computers and basic software subscriptions

Medium team salaries

What does your organization need?

If you are trying to estimate the cost of a team, it’s important to start with your marketing plan to determine the skills that will be needed to implement it effectively. While the teams we have described here might work for some organizations, you may have your own unique combination of needs that requires different or additional resources.

Would you like some marketing help?

If you would like to discuss outsourcing your marketing to an experienced and highly-specialized team, please reach out for an initial consultation. We have more than 25 years of experience developing and implementing marketing plans across a wide variety of industries and also provide fractional CMO services to work with existing teams.

What is GA4, and What Does it Mean for your Business?

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Whether you’re savvy with Google Analytics yourself, or you’ve delegated your website analysis, it’s important to understand how Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will affect your website reporting. GA4 is a new version of Google Analytics that launched in October 2021 in anticipation of the previous version (Universal Analytics) being discontinued in July 2023. If you’re wondering why this matters, it’s because when Google sunsets the former platform next summer, all your historical website data will be erased. So, if you haven’t already transitioned your analytics to GA4, we’ve got the cliff’s notes on what’s changing, why it’s important and what to do now to be ready for next year. And yes, you need to get ready now… don’t let it sneak up on you.

What is Different in GA4?

  •  Say “Goodbye” to Old Data

    As of July 2023, Universal Analytics (UA) will quit collecting data on your site and you will have access to your historical data for only six months thereafter. That’s why Google recommends you do a backup of at least fourteen months’ worth of data before July 2023. So, if you’re wanting to compare site engagement during an annual promotional campaign to data from years past, you’ll want to make sure you have those backups. (Instructions on backing up data can be found here.)

  • Tracking Traffic Differently

    Universal Analytics tracks traffic by session. In other words, if I come to your website by clicking on a social post, then go to another website to check my email, but come back to your site by typing in your web address in the URL, those site visits are counted as two separate sessions. GA4 uses “event-based” tracking. In GA4, those two website visits would be combined into one session with separate events. This means your session numbers will look much lower, but inevitably your engagement rates will be much higher. This presents a challenge in comparing data between UA and GA4. They are like comparing apples to oranges. That’s why it’s recommended you go ahead and start using GA4 Google Analytics alongside Universal Analytics for the next year to generate side-by-side reports. This gives you and your team the chance to learn how to interpret the data for an entire year before relying solely on the new platform.

  • Customer Journey Intel

    Event tracking in GA4 is also going to give us a much better picture of the user experience and customer journey while on our sites. There are various types of events that will be tracked. Each tells part of the overall story of how a user got to your website and what they did once they got there.

    • Automatically Tracked Events

      To make things easier, Google set up GA4 to track things like clicks, downloads, first visit to a web page, page scroll and so on. These are extremely useful and the fact that you don’t have to have your web developer add various tags on numerous pages throughout your site to capture these more standard events is a time and money saver.

    • Enhanced Measurement Events

      If you want to take tracking further, with GA4, you can. There are enhanced measurements. For example, you can track more than a page scroll, like the percentage of the page that was scrolled. These give a more complete picture of the customer experience.

    • Recommended Events

      Google has listed some suggested events for businesses or organizations based on common website needs for specific verticals. For instance, e-commerce sites have a list of recommended events like “add-to-cart” and “refund” or “generate lead.” These recommendations can be found in the events report.

    • Custom Events

      Despite the upgrade in pre-established event tracking that Google is introducing, you still might want to track something unique and Google still allows this within custom events. For instance, if you want to track when a person makes a “donation” to your organization, which is different than a standard e-commerce purchase, that would require a custom event. Visit here to learn how to set up custom events.

  • Ramped Up Security

    With online security and personal privacy concerns, GA4 makes it easier to stay in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). With GA4, IP addresses are anonymous (called IP Masking), relying on artificial intelligence (IA) to infer geography and context based on past behavior. While IP Masking is an opt-in feature in Universal Analytics, it’s now mandatory with GA4.

  • App and Web in One

    A big advantage of GA4 is the consolidation of analytics profiles. If you have an app and a website, in Universal Analytics, you have to track them separately. In GA4, they are tracked together. So, if someone clicks from your site to your app and then buys something, that entire customer journey is tracked within one analytics profile.

Why does the Google Analytics Change Matter to Your Business?

You may wonder why any of these changes matter. The truth is, if you don’t consider your website a part of your marketing strategy, then this really won’t change much for you. However, if you rely on your site to play a role in gaining new customers, leads or sales, the switch to GA4 is critical. Understanding who comes to your website, how they get there and how they engage with your site are all important steps in assessing how well your website supports your goals.

What Do You Need to Do Now?

  1. Your next steps should include setting up your GA4 account alongside your current Universal Analytics account. Thankfully, the initial setup for GA4 isn’t too complicated. It’s only taken us a few minutes to do this for each of our customers. There might be a little more time to set up any custom events if you require those to track what you need. Otherwise, you can connect GA4 to your Google Ads and Tag Manager accounts seamlessly. You can find complete instructions here.
  2. Next, you will want to download backups of your data (instructions here).
  3. Be sure to finish migrating your conversion goals and set up event tracking and audience groups.
  4. Finally, play around with the reporting templates and see how the new platform shows insights compared to Universal Analytics reporting.

If you need help transitioning to GA4 or setting up custom reports, or want an independent review of your website and its current state of performance and tracking setup, contact us today.

Professional Headshot Tips for 2022

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New Trends in Profile Pictures

Gone are the days when a cold, black suit on a bland gray background would do. Now, you will find personality, color and life added to headshots. While there is no exact formula, the trend is to add some form of individual expression to your photo. If your headshot is looking a little stale, check out this list of professional headshot tips that can help you breathe some new life into your profile.

WFH is Here to Stay – Go Casual with Your Headshot

The range of what is considered an acceptable work attire has dramatically changed as a result of COVID-19. More casual clothing has become acceptable across a variety of industries and professions, and this is carried into profiles that are more casual in attire, choice of background and pose. Consider showing a little more of your relaxed self in your photo by wearing what you usually wear “to work” instead of dressing up.

Show Self-Expression with Clothing in Headshots

As many remote workers returned to the office, they went retail-wild and showed up wearing a burst of self-expression. You will find the range of personalization in headshots has taken a similar turn. Both men and women can now embrace things long-considered taboo in the realm of professional portraits, such as bold makeup, statement earrings, big necklaces, standout hair accessories, hats and patterns. Don’t dress so wild that it doesn’t look like you, but do dress in whatever equates to your version of ‘bold.’

A New Trend in Headshots is to Embrace Color

As we mentioned earlier, the gray is gone. Photos have become bolder. There are two areas you can adjust to create a bold photo: the foreground (you) and the background. Try wearing bold colors, use a vibrant color for your background or go really big and create a strong contrast between the two. Your headshot will literally pop out from the competition.

More People are Taking Their Headshots Outside

Some employers require a specific headshot format for the corporate website, and that may require a studio shot. However, “on-location” photos showing some office environment or an outside landscape are definitely on the rise. A background that helps tell more of a story about where you work or your personality can be a great way to build human interest and connection. If your company requires that good, old-fashioned studio photo, consider some of the other tips included in this article to spice it up, or ask for a few shots for different uses; what you use on LinkedIn doesn’t need to match the corporate website.

Taking the “Posed” out of Professional Portraits

If the endless zoom meetings have become more cold and impersonal, the headshots certainly have not. A trend has emerged to convey approachability and personality through online profiles and digital correspondence, including headshots. Photos have begun to appear with people looking off-camera, laughing and in more casual poses. To follow this 2022 headshot trend, some photographers use candid shots. It can be as simple as picking what was formerly considered an “outtake” during a studio shoot or having a professional photographer capture you “in the wild” away from your desk, interacting with people, speaking in front of a crowd, or even at a networking event.

Check Your Fit

In this case, we aren’t referring to your wardrobe. ‘Fit’ also applies to the intent of your headshot. If your company has a certain look they are shooting for, we don’t suggest bucking the system. If it’s not appropriate to wear a t-shirt in your office or industry, wearing one for your professional profile may not look as ‘approachable’ as it does  ‘unprofessional.’ In the same way, if your job is to relate to college applicants and you are profiled in a three-piece suit, your image might create an unapproachable vibe for the students before you get a chance to meet with them and show off your magical personality. Make sure the image you convey fits the intent and purpose of your headshot.

Quick New Headshot Trend Checklist

To recap, here’s a quick checklist to make sure your new headshot looks like it belongs in this decade. You don’t necessarily have to incorporate all these elements. Consider the mix that will best convey your unique story when someone looks at your headshot.

  • Dress down, not up
  • Show individuality in your attire
  • Use bold colors
  • Consider shooting on location or outside
  • Go candid, less posed
  • Make sure your image fits your industry and intended use

Robot Creative specializes in Branding, Marketing Strategy and Outsourced Marketing for emerging middle-market businesses. If you need help with branding for your company or top executives, we can help. Call for a consultation.

If you need a new headshot soon and are located in the San Antonio area, join us for Headshot Day on Friday, July 22, 2022. Click here for details.

Should Your Organization Advertise on TikTok?

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Some of our clients have been asking, “Should we consider advertising on TikTok?”

Short Answer: 
If your target audience is Gen Z, then yes. If they are older, then you should consider other platforms for advertising to start.

Long Answer:
Our partner Sprout Social, Inc. investigated this recently. They found, according to Statista, that the largest age group of TikTok users in the U.S. in 2021 was 10-19. Millennials and Gen Xers weren’t terribly far behind. However, Global Web Index (GWI) reports that 30% of Gen Zers use TikTok for product research; compared to 16% of Millennials, 9% of Gen Xers and 2% of Baby Boomers.

Since a majority of users seek entertainment from TikTok content (GWI reports), companies could benefit from social listening on this platform to keep abreast of trends or to create a content strategy to start reaching younger audiences. However, unless targeting young Gen Zers, your ad dollars would be better spent elsewhere for now.

Have any other questions about your Social Media advertising strategy? Contact us for a consultation.

Do You Have a Brand or Just a Logo?

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by Andrew Watson, Director of Branding

Often, I hear people refer to their logo, colors, fonts and images as their “brand.” These are all components of a brand, but there is much more to it than just the visuals.

What is a Brand?

Branding has evolved over the years, and you will find several different definitions of the word. What began as simply a name or symbol to identify a product or service has expanded to the more current definition that most modern strategists, marketers and brand builders use. In current terms, a brand revolves around the more broad idea of “perception.”

Brand: The perception one has about a company, product or service.

This simple definition encompasses everything a company does and all of the touchpoints the company has with its audience. From internal values and culture, to how you communicate in your advertising and to your in-person experience, this includes all of your marketing materials and everything in-between. It’s the complete experience created by your company as it engages with your audience. These elements influence how people think about your company and affect the perception they develop. This is your brand.

How does the logo fit into the brand?

Your logo is often the first impression of your brand, and it’s what most people will immediately associate with your company. With that lofty status, the logo is an important part of the larger brand picture, but it’s not the sole representation of your brand. Your logo, color palette, fonts, images and graphic assets all fall under the visual identity system of your brand.

Visual Identity: The visual components of a brand.

A great way to understand the difference between visual identity and brand is to think of a company as a person. The way that person dresses would be the visual identity system. A person’s personality, choice of words and tone of voice, combined with how they carry themself and interact, is the perception (or brand). The clothes someone wears may influence the overall perception you might have of that person, but it’s only one small part of the bigger picture.

If I have a logo and colors, do I have a brand?

The reality is, that every company has a brand. Whether you have hired someone to develop a brand for you, you have developed it in-house, or it’s just something that has evolved organically over the years – you have a brand. It might not be very intentional, but it exists.

In today’s competitive landscape, brands have become much more sophisticated and strategic in the development of their brand experience. A pretty logo and some colors are probably not enough to get you where you want to go anymore. Those core elements alone don’t paint enough of a picture to help your target audience decide whether they will go with you or a competitor.

Crafting a Better Brand

When developing a new brand or refreshing an existing brand, it helps to start with a brand strategy, which is a plan that clearly defines the brand and how to communicate it effectively. Using this more strategic approach, you can go beyond the visuals and create a brand that influences the perceptions of the intended audience to make your company more appealing to that audience.

Once a strategy, or direction, has been determined, branding choices can become focused and intentional. Here is a list of the most common brand assets:

Name, Logo, Tagline/Positioning Line
These combine to form the face of your brand and serve as the first impression for most people. The combination of a unique name, logo mark and sometimes tagline can set the tone for everything else that follows. It’s not possible to tell your entire story in a logo, but if done well, the rest of the brand will complement, it and all of the parts will work together to deliver a more comprehensive brand experience.

Visual Identity
This encompasses all of the graphic assets, color palettes, fonts and imagery used within your branding. This portion of your brand has the power to quickly communicate a world of intangible information. Color plays a significant emotional role in how your brand is perceived. Fonts may be more modern or more traditional to convey your style. Your imagery selection might complement or contrast these other assets. A shift in any of these can change the perception slightly or dramatically. All of the parts of the visual identity work together as a whole.

Voice and Tone
An important, and often overlooked brand element, is your brand voice or how you deliver your message. The brand voice can have a powerful impact on how memorable your brand is. The voice is the consistent personality that you apply to all your messaging – regardless if it is written or spoken. Does your brand have a casual and witty voice, or is it more informative and buttoned-up? Choosing a voice that works for your brand and resonates with your audience can create a solid connection. To add more complexity into the mix – while the voice of your brand should always be the same – the tone can vary to accommodate different types of messaging. For example, how would your brand voice communicate excitement vs. condolences? Whatever the tone of the message, it should still sound like it’s coming from the same brand voice.

A Brand Encompasses All

The complete experience a person has with your company or organization is what creates brand perception. It’s not just how your logo looks or the colors you use on your website. When all your brand components align and work together, they can communicate your story memorably and authentically, making all your marketing decisions focused and future projects more straightforward. You will want to be intentional with your brand choices to achieve the best results.

Do you have a brand or just a logo?
If you need help evolving or developing your brand, we can help. Learn about our branding process here.

How Your Online Presence Affects Your Hiring

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In this highly competitive hiring market, your first impression means everything. Job seekers are getting that first impression from your online presence. Your website, social profiles and online reviews aren’t just marketing and branding vehicles to attract prospective customers. They are also critical to attracting potential employees. We have put together a list of ways to improve your digital presence to help with your employer branding and recruitment marketing.

Your Website and Social Media – The First Stop in a Job-Seeker’s Research

The way you present your brand in the digital world can make a huge impact on whether a job seeker chooses to apply or accept an offer from you. If you were to look at your website and social media platforms from a potential employee’s point of view, would you find the company culture and values appealing? Is what you see a positive and accurate reflection of your internal company culture and work-life?

Take a walk in a job seeker’s shoes for a minute, and look at your company from the outside in…

Start With Your Careers Page

Do you have anything more on this page than a list of available openings and benefits? A competitive Careers page should go beyond the basics.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

This is an opportunity to share photography of actual employees, your workspace, company events and community engagement. When you review this page, look at it from the perspective of a job seeker: Will they identify themselves in those photos? Do you have uniforms that are modern or fun? Does the company engage with the community? Do people look like they enjoy working for you? You should paint a clear picture about what it’s like working at your company and provide an opportunity for them to picture themselves in the mix.

Interior branding wall mural in restaurant  Uniforms for a seafood restaurant designed by Robot Creative(photo caption: examples of interior branding in stores and fun uniforms at Sea Island Shrimp House.)


(photo caption: examples of branded wall decor including core values at Computer Solutions.)

Boring Descriptions = Boring Jobs

Your job descriptions might also need a refresh. Consider writing them with a voice and tone that reflects your brand and appeals to the audience you’re trying to attract (for example, should the positions sound fun and energetic, ambitious and intellectual, quirky and unique?). The Job descriptions can provide a branding opportunity and a chance to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Add a Feature to Your Home Page

If you have immediate hiring needs, consider adding a call-out at the top of your Home page near the navigation or even a pop-up alerting web visitors of those immediate openings. Link directly to the Careers page instead of making them search for it. Adding a content section on the Home page with compelling imagery, a headline and a call to action can be a great way to entice web visitors to learn more about employment opportunities as well.

Pull in Dynamic Social Media

If you have someone updating your company social profiles with internal culture, community and events, you can pull that content into your Careers page or Home page so it is always dynamic and current. If you aren’t currently posting content that relates to your work environment and internal culture on your social media channels, now is the time to consider adding it to your editorial calendar. Also, don’t forget to post about your job openings as they become available, and encourage your team to share the posts.

Pick the Right Social Platforms for Job Seekers

We recommend you pick the social platform(s) where your potential future employees are active. This may vary for different types of positions within one organization. Your social media manager should know which platforms cater best to specific age groups and audience types. Make sure to highlight the content which accurately reflects your company culture and brand, but adjust it to speak specifically to each unique audience.

Example of hiring post on social media for tech company.  
(photo caption: example of social posts promoting hiring on LinkedIn.)

Don’t Skip Past the About Us Page

If you have an About Us page that already features current leadership and facts about the company, understand that not just customers are visiting that page to learn about you, but also job seekers! Make sure your leadership team photos and bios are up to date and appealing to prospective team members. Consider the company story from the job seeker’s point of view. What additional information would you include to win them over? Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to recruit on this page. You can add a “Join our team” teaser or section that links to your Careers page to draw job seekers in.

Optimize Your SEO to Get Job Seekers to Your Site

Once you make your website improvements, it’s time to make sure your intended audience sees them. Optimizing your Careers and About Us pages for the types of jobs you are trying to fill will increase your chances of being found by the people who are actively looking. If you don’t have someone on staff with SEO background, consider outsourcing the project to someone with specialized skills in this area.

It Pays to Advertise for Job Seekers

Social and digital ads can help you accurately target very specific audiences. Ads can be easily turned on and off and budgets can be tightly controlled when you have shifting needs for specific positions. Digital advertising is also a great form of brand awareness. If you keep a regular stream of company advertisements and/or social posts and culture in front of your audience, they will be more likely to respond favorably when they are presented with an opportunity.

Example of hiring post on social media for local restaurant chain. Example of hiring post on social media for IT company.
(photo caption: examples of social ads promoting hiring.)

Opportunity to Improve – Not to Falsely Advertise

If you find it’s difficult to find content to update your website because you don’t host regular company events or maybe you don’t have the most competitive benefits, you might want to consider surveying your team to gain a better understanding of the culture and team motivations. Advertising a false or idealized reality will hurt your recruiting efforts more than it helps. It can damage your reputation as an employer if prospects or former employees decide to call out these inconsistencies in online reviews. Speaking of reviews…

Review Management Matters

Reviews of your company can be found on your social platforms, search engines and even job search and review sites like Indeed or Glassdoor. Having your profiles on these sites maintained with the most up-to-date information and photos can help you make a better impression on prospects researching your brand. With online reviews, job seekers also have a front-row seat to past employees’ opinions – for better or for worse.

While you can’t control what others say about your company or brand, you can recover from a negative employee review if you make the effort to respond publicly. Acknowledging negative reviews will sometimes convince employees to edit or remove them. Even in times when it doesn’t, other users see that you made an effort to respond appropriately, which demonstrates professionalism. Disgruntled employees are often more likely to leave reviews than happy ones, so it can help to have a strategy to encourage or even incentivize current employees to post reviews. Increasing the number of high ratings can help drown out the occasional grumpy review, and show a more accurate reflection of your overall employee sentiment.

Go Get Them – Your To-Do List:

If you’re actively trying to find employees, we hope this list of ideas will help you improve your online presence and have a positive influence on future recruits. Take time to improve your recruiting strategy by:

  1. Identifying (and profiling) who you’re trying to recruit
  2. Reviewing your website from the job seeker’s perspective
  3. Adding relevant content to your website and social channels that shows the benefits of working with your company
  4. Advertising on digital platforms to quickly increase visibility
  5. Actively managing your online listings and reviews

Taking these steps will greatly improve your hiring competitive edge. Happy recruiting!

If you need help making sure your branding attracts the right crowd, or need support with advertising or web design, contact us for a free consultation.

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