Our perspective at VantagePoint

Seven questions to determine if a social media channel is right for your company

LinkedIn. Instagram. Tumblr. Connex.

Okay, I might have made that last one up, but with the evolving world of social media, you might have thought it was just the latest in a list of ways to connect online.

So, with the growing number of channel options out there, how do you know where to invest your time?

HootSuite’s blog gives a good overview of the types of social media, but here are some questions to help you analyze if a channel is a good fit for your company’s social media strategy.

  1. What are the goals and objectives for social media?

Identifying what you are trying to accomplish through social media can point you in the right direction when it comes to channel selection.

  1. Is a key public active on this channel?

It’s critical to know who you are trying to reach with your social media posts and what channels your audience uses to research companies, products and services or educate themselves on industry topics.

  1. Are my competitors or partners active on this channel?

This doesn’t mean copying what they do or say online, but take the opportunity to see where they are posting and what is resonating with their followers. Then, consider how you can adapt these findings for yourself — in a way that makes sense for your target audiences.

  1. Are industry conversations happening on this channel?

Following conversations on key industry topics can provide insights into which channels to adopt and how you can best leverage them for your company.

  1. Is the channel a good fit for content I have to share?

Some channels are designed with specific content types in mind. For example, if it’s a challenge to find quality, engaging photos, Instagram may not be the right choice for your company at this time.

  1. Is this channel well established or new to the marketplace?

Depending on your business’ level of comfort with new marketing initiatives, you may be excited to be an early adopter of a channel or you may prefer to wait until is it more established before incorporating it into your strategy.

  1. Will I be looking for paid opportunities on this channel?

With organic reach decreasing across a number of social media channels, sponsored content is becoming more critical to reaching your audience with relevant content. Having an understanding of the channel’s current paid offerings, although these will change over time, and how they can fit into your overall strategy will ensure you’re on the right path.

Assessing your needs through these questions can help you be proactive about your strategic approach to social media and not tempted by every channel out there.

And, at least you can cross Connex off your list of ones to analyze. 🙂

Looking for more social media best practices? Check out these remarkably insightful tips from a two-year-old.

A Yearly Look in the Mirror for Content Marketers


The clocks are turned back. College football season is nearly over. Holiday-themed car commercials are (somehow) already running. That means it’s almost 2018 — and it’s time to crack open the annual B2B content marketing report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

This report is not only jam-packed with insight into how marketers see themselves in the current environment, but also how they see themselves evolving in the new year and reaching their goals and benchmarks for success.

Two key findings in particular stood out to me: one more positive and one that shows a lot of room for industry-wide improvement.

First, 75% of B2B marketers reported having a content marketing strategy, with roughly half of those responding that their strategy is documented. As you might guess, those with a documented strategy reported greater levels of success — and with nearly three-quarters of respondents without a documented strategy saying they plan to develop one in the next year — we can assume these numbers will rise as more companies reap the benefits of a sound content marketing strategy.

Another finding got my attention, but not in a good way. According to the report, 47% of B2B marketers do not measure the ROI of their content marketing efforts. One of the most common reasons cited was “we need an easier way to do this.”

Looking ahead to 2018 and beyond, it will be intriguing to see if a greater percentage of organizations will be able to measure their own success — and how they’ll achieve critical content marketing goals like this.

Of course, we’ll have to sit through a few more reindeer pulling cars on TV before we find out.

Having trouble keeping up with the fast-moving and ever-changing world of content marketing? Try these 5 reads to get you back in the saddle.

3 Proven Tactics for Reviving Your Brand

If you haven’t asked the question yet, you will soon: How do I keep my brand relevant and resonant?

The brand landscape is constantly changing. Big names rise and fall — sometimes seemingly overnight (ahem, Blockbuster) and sometimes more slowly (thinking of you, Sears). It’s a scary brand world out there, especially when it seems like a lot of the affecting factors are out of your control.

The good news is that there are some practical things you can do to keep your brand fresh, interesting, and ultimately ascendant — all without a major brand overhaul. As you start thinking about 2018, consider factoring one or more of the following tactics into your marketing strategy.

1. Collaborations

Mutually beneficial brand collaborations can increase awareness of your product offerings to new audiences, while positioning your brand in a new light.

Swarovski has made a business out of brand collaborations, leveraging its famous product to provide value to collaborating brands while keeping its own brand top-of-mind. Most recently, Swarovski has become part of Lady Gaga’s latest tour launch where her costumes were bedecked with more than 550,000 crystals. Since 1895, Swarovski has successfully executed movie collaborations, media collaborations, brand collaborations — you name it. Because Swarovski strategically chooses these opportunities, it has maintained its brand characteristics of “luxury” and “quality.” The collaborators also reap the benefits of the Swarovski association: End customers are willing to pay 44 percent more for products with Swarovski Crystals. That’s a win-win.

2. Shareability

Whether or not you like it, it’s a fact: we live in the age of over-sharing. We share everything — our family vacations, major milestones, and lots and lots of puppy pictures (or is that just me?). Embracing the importance of “shareability” can refresh your brand to your core audience, while exposing you to new prospects.

Not surprisingly, social media is a good way to approach this. Instead of being open on Black Friday two years ago, the outdoor gear co-op REI closed its doors and initiated a massive social media campaign to encourage consumers to #OptOutside. Driven by the campaign hashtag and memes, REI achieved ultimate shareability status, millions of interactions on social media, and, importantly, a significant rise in membership.

For your business, an interactive, shareable direct mailer or e-blast could serve as a scaled-down version of REI’s approach — as long as it’s shareable enough to re-engage your current customers and encourage them to share the content.

3. Back to your (Brand) Roots

I couldn’t end this blog without a foodservice example, now could I?

In recent years, KFC has made major moves to go back to its marketing roots — to Colonel Sanders — after experiencing significant declines in previous years. From 2007 to 2013, KFC lost about 40 percent of its business via same-store sales declines and closing stores. But after its agency brought back the Colonel as a central part of its advertising strategy, KFC has experienced 12 consecutive quarters of growth. Even with the rise in popularity of fried chicken, KFC’s comeback is seriously impressive. Today, 40 percent of millennials are more likely to consider eating KFC again.

Going back to the company’s history proved to be a brilliant move, even for the ephemeral Millennial audience. Re-examining your company’s history or historical marketing efforts can sometimes breathe new life into your marketing today.

5 great food ads from other countries

When you’re looking for a hit of inspiration — or, perhaps, just a wee bit of entertainment — it’s always jolly fun to see what advertisers around the world have dreamed up (see what I did there?). Here are 5 great recent commercials from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and the UK, courtesy of Ads of the World. Enjoy!

  1. Heinz Baked Beans. A touching Pixar “Up”-inspired animated short film about a curly-headed boy who is REALLY obsessed with baked beans. (Apparently toast and beans is a thing in New Zealand?)
  2. Hungry Jack’s. A Burger-King-like chain in Australia pokes fun at the hipster-izing of everything from food to haircuts with an action-packed commercial in which our hero is saved by a Whopper.
  3. Cerebos Salt. This touching animated short is about a girl in a South African summer who desperately wants snow. Cute, but a big waste of salt, if you ask me.
  4. Dolmio Sauce. Movie actor Dominic West gets overly action-movie-dramatic in support of a video-game-playing teenager who’s trying to put off coming to dinner. A dramatically funny, over-the-top take on the power of pasta sauce.
  5. Shreddies Cereal. An absolutely hilarious split-screen commercial showing the difference between a day that starts with Shreddies and one that doesn’t. I’d watch this commercial over and over when it aired on TV or YouTube, just to be sure I caught all the wacky action.

So take a few moments and watch these creative ads, get a take on how the rest of the world markets food, and have a chuckle or two. Cheers!

Growing with grocery | Tapping into foodservice’s hottest segments

Supermarket and convenience store foodservice are some of the fastest growing segments in the away-from-home food industry, signaling a bright future for food and beverage and equipment sales. But taking advantage of the growth means gaining a firm understanding the evolving needs of this exploding market.

The overall 2018 projected growth rate of 2.8 percent in supermarkets and c-stores is far above its counterparts in limited-service restaurants (up 0.8 percent) and non-commercial foodservice (up 1.7 percent), according to Datassential.

Foodservice sales in c-stores, including prepared foods and beverages, were the highest they have been in recent years, a trend backed up by VantagePoint’s recently completed in-depth study on current consumer trends, operator behaviors and outlook within food retail establishments.

Supermarkets and c-stores are moving quickly to meet consumers’ desire for fresh, restaurant-quality food at a more attractive price. Many supermarkets are going through a major facelift. Online ordering, on-site cafes and made-to-order service are becoming the norm.

Midwestern supermarket chain Hy-Vee, for example, recently introduced or reimagined several of its in-store dining programs, including Hickory House Comfort Foods, a customized hibachi grill station, an Italian street-food concept with flatbreads and pita sandwiches, Cocina Mexicana serving Mexican fare, and Long Island Deli where pastrami and corned beef are cut in front of patrons.

C-stores also have moved from hot dog rollers to fresh foodservice programs — often equipped with touch-screen or online ordering since speed is still paramount in these locations. C-store chain Sheetz, with over 500 locations in six states, piloted a foot-traffic-reliant convenience store without gas pumps on the campus of West Virginia University in 2015. The company’s future as a food-first café has led to new openings near Penn State, Indiana University and other campuses.

These dedicated made-to-order stations, cafes or restaurants within the store bring with them restaurant-style amenities, which present numerous opportunities for manufacturers to capitalize on new store openings and re-designs applying this front-of-house theatre experience. Pizza ovens, versatile prep tables and cooking or frying equipment, undercounter refrigerators and dishwashers, and specialty cases represent some of the equipment needs. And on the culinary side, while chicken still reigns supreme in delis (rotisserie, fried), consumers are showing interest in a wide variety of offerings such as ethnic cuisine like sushi or stir fry and comfort foods like stroganoff, pot pie and meatloaf.

With so much growth happening — and increasingly high expectations from consumers about the quality of the food, atmosphere and experience — it’s critical for suppliers to have a sound understanding of the supermarkets and c-stores space and how to support their needs. What unique things have you experienced within the supermarket or c-store space? Let us know in the comments below.

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