Our Brand Promise

When we work with clients, we talk about the importance of their brand promise – but what does that mean? It’s not necessarily a tagline or headline (although it can be). Nor is it a description of features and benefits (although that can inform it). Your brand promise is what customers can expect to get – both functionally and emotionally – whenever they engage with the brand. And it’s important because that’s the metric against which your customers will measure their experiences. So, it not only has to sound attractive and compelling; it also has to reflect reality.

When we celebrated Relish Marketing’s 10thanniversary, we took on ourselves as a client, working through the same brand development exercises we do with our clients. It was fun to consider “the Relish Experience” and how we create it with our clients, exploring our own brand promise. We spoke with many of our clients, representing large enterprises and growing businesses in sectors ranging from manufacturing and consumer package goods to professional services, healthcare and non-profits. And we learned that the Relish brand promise is driven in equal parts by three key components:

  • Strategy + Creative
    "For us, the combination of strategy and creative is so important …. Relish is excellent in both areas – and that’s so much of what makes great work." – Carol Galbreath, Senior Director of PR and Communications, Georgia Dental Association
    "[At] some agencies, they start with a creative idea they try to retrofit strategy around… Relish understood what we were looking for… and integrated the creative into that approach." –Chris McCarthy, Marketing Director, Sargento Foods
  • Integrity + Attention
    "The work has always been high integrity. You do what you say when you say you will do it."– David Asbury, Chief Executive Officer, Northwestern Benefit

    "I have big asks – that’s just the world I live in. But Relish does more than tell me what can’t be done. You come up with solutions for what CAN be done. So, when I go to the firm with what is and isn’t possible, I can do it with absolute confidence." – Karen Wilcox, Interim Marketing Director, Taylor English Duma LLP
  • Trusted Relationships
    "You take the time to learn our company and come up with your best work. Over time a strong mutual trust develops that delivers better, honest feedback and improves the work on both sides." – Frans Mahieu, Global Director of Marketing HR, Kimberly-Clark
    "It seems to me that Relish has thrived because of repeat business. That’s relationships. – Gareth Clarke, CEO (retired), Irrimax Corporation
    With Relish, I don’t feel like I’m calling on a vendor. I’m calling my team who’s in it with me and knows what we need to do. It’s not transactional, it’s relational."  – Rochelle Valsaint, Manager, Brand and Communications, Lenbrook Senior Living

Most importantly, even three years after our most recent brand development exercises, our clients continue to tell us that while each of these components is valuable, the Relish experience happens in the dynamic created by all three pillars together. And that’s our brand promise: The fusion of strategy and creative, driven by a commitment to integrity and attention, sustained by trusted relationships.

Our founder and President, Pam Willoughby, says that these very components are what inspired her to start Relish Marketing in the first place. “I’d seen too many marketing efforts executed in spite of creative that wasn’t strategic, a lack of integrity, and a distance between the agency and its clients. I knew there had to be a better way. And I wondered – if we focused on that fusion of strategy and creative, integrity and trusted relationships, how much better could it be?”

According to our clients, it can be “Powerful,” “Professional,” “Genuine,” and “A lot of fun.” If that’s something you’ve been wanting more of in your marketing, we’d love to start a conversation about how we can help you get it. Meanwhile, we couldn’t be more enthusiastic about what’s ahead.


Rebranding strategy

When is the Right Time for Rebranding? Don’t start that brand update before you read this

One of the biggest questions clients ask us at Relish is whether and when it's time to do a brand refresh. However, knowing that branding is one of our core offerings, you might be surprised to discover that sometimes, our most strategic answer is, “Not yet.” Which is why we’re sharing some best practices and lessons learned about the right time for rebranding.

Are you rebranding too soon?

Don’t get us wrong – a strategic, creative rebranding effort can address issues and jumpstart ambitious plans for growth and development. But the effort is probably premature if it’s driven by either of these common circumstances:

  • Your executives are bored.
    Yes, that sounds a bit crazy – who would rebrand in response to boredom? But here's how we've seen it happen: A company launches a fresh brand identity, and everyone embraces it in a flurry of excitement and energy. Then, living and breathing the brand every day, it becomes ordinary. And, missing the thrill of the brand launch, some executives lament that the "new" identity feels stale and needs updating. This would be a serious error. Our experience and research have shown that it takes about a year (sometimes longer) for a new brand identity to become firmly established in the minds of customers, investors, the media, etc. In other words, when internal stakeholders tire of a recently updated brand, that’s the time to build on brand equity. It is not the time to change to something new.
  • You hope rebranding will fix internal problems.
    An organization shouldn't seriously consider rebranding if team members are not ready to embrace and reflect the new corporate identity or if the company is experiencing dysfunctional, divisive behavior. Rebranding won't fix any of that. And, serious issues like these are likely to undercut new branding efforts. That said, an organization like Relish can offer strategic workshops designed to help struggling teams discover common ground and inform a rebranding effort that everyone can support.

Have you waited too long?

There are three times when companies should engage in a branding update. And, if you see your organization reflected in any of them, take heed. By the time most companies in these situations recognize the need to rebrand, they’re under pressure because they should have started sooner:

  • The existing brand is out of step with your business.
    When an organization's existing identity feels outdated, too generic, or otherwise out of step with the reality of the business, that's a sign that a rebranding effort is overdue. For instance, a company's brand says, “small, mom and pop company” but they've actually transformed into a sizable business. Maybe a brick-and-mortar business now conducts most of its business online (or vice versa). Or perhaps the owner's nephew developed the original logo, and the company has outgrown it.
  • You're penetrating a new market space.
    Sometimes, business leaders recognize that the company is well-positioned to serve a new market – and needs to look like it belongs there. The right brand architecture approach can guide sub-brand development and differentiation while continuing to build and reinforce the primary brand.
  • You’re acquiring or merging with another company.
    When a large company acquires a smaller one, the smaller company almost always adopts the larger organization's brand. When two competitors merge, however, they may want to create a new company name and brand to reflect the new, united entity. Likewise, when a company acquires a business with significant brand recognition, it might be wise to leverage that equity.

How to rebrand right on time

The best way to hit the timing sweet spot for a rebrand is to plan ahead. Take time to explore your brand in the context of a potential market expansion or possible change in corporate structure, leadership, or ownership. You may find ways in which minor yet strategic adjustments can provide differentiation and possibly pave the way for a more extensive future rebrand – all while continuing to maximize brand equity. For instance:

The Greeley Company came to us during its acquisition by The Chartis Group. Both companies' leaders sought to communicate Greeley's offerings in context with Chartis' larger suite of hospital and health system services. We conducted a combination of competitive analyses and brand messaging research, which revealed significant insights and opportunities. By updating Greeley's messaging and making minor adjustments to their fonts and color palette, we distinguished their services in the context of the primary Chartis brand, reinforcing the Greeley-Chartis relationship.

Likewise, the Taylor English law firm built its brand on serving the needs of small to mid-sized companies. However, when leaders embraced a new opportunity – election law – they realized the need to visually reinforce their market fit. Relish helped them do it, providing competitive research, strategic insights, and creative design. The resulting Election Law Group branding reinforced the firm’s legacy identity while communicating concepts of patriotism, government, and public service.

And when the Lenbrook senior living community began planning its Kingsboro at Lenbrook residences, leaders recognized the need to distinguish the new expansion in the context of its overall brand. Our solution for Kingsboro communications and environmental graphics stuck closely to existing brand guidelines, emphasizing key colors while stripping away others. This approach reinforced the overall Lenbrook brand while elevating the feel of the new expansion.

The decision to rebrand can have a significant impact on any organization. Whether that impact is positive or negative depends on your timing – as well as your strategy and creative. Full disclosure: this is where we at Relish Marketing shine – and deliver significant value to our clients. If you’re thinking about rebranding, tell us more about it and let’s see where our experience can be your advantage.


Come Together: Collaborative Creativity Advice from The Beatles

When people talk about the most successful creative collaborations of all time, The Beatles almost always make the list. With 10 Grammys, 11 number one albums, and innovations that revolutionized rock music, it's no wonder musicians, historians, and fans alike have been seeking insights from Peter Jackson's multi-part documentary series, Get Back. In The New York Times, The City editor Jere Hester wrote about creativity lessons gleaned from the Fab Four. But, I couldn’t help but take away a master class in collaborative creativity – featuring these essential takeaways:

Say You Want a Revolution

At the start of a creative project, it’s easy to limit your ideas with constraints surrounding budget, biases, and worst of all, "the way it's always been done." When Paul McCartney cheerfully insisted that the group could write 14 new songs in two weeks to record them for a television show, George Harrison found the idea so impossible that he (temporarily) quit. Don’t be like George. With creative work, it’s always easier to start big and pare back than to start small and build up. And when you come up with the ideas that tickle your brain and make you think, “Oh… we can’t get away with THAT, can we?” pay attention.

All Together Now

When creative people work together, conflicts can happen. Even when you agree on great ideas, it’s easy to clash over how to bring them to life. And, when you’ve got multiple creative minds at odds with each other, frustrations can run high. At one point, the Beatles could hardly speak to one another, let alone be in the same room together. But in the documentary, we see them realize that they can still riff off each other’s ideas, playing and singing together. Remember that you’re a team of individuals with the same overall objectives. Even when you get frustrated with each other's style, personality, or other quirks, you can – and should – rely on each other’s talents to make the work better.

Picture Yourself in a Boat on a River…

Of course, the real world doesn’t have marmalade skies or girls with kaleidoscope eyes. But John Lennon and Paul McCartney made the dreamlike world of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” easy for the band to bring to life – and easy for any listener to envision. If you can sell fresh ideas to each other, you can bring them to life for external audiences, too.

Help! (I need somebody)

It's happened to all of us: You work together for so long that your ideas start to feel similar or stale. Don’t be afraid to mix things up with a new voice or two. When keyboardist Billy Preston joined The Beatles to record the rooftop sessions that ultimately became hits on the album, Let It Be, he revitalized the fraying dynamic between the bandmates. Yoko Ono added impromptu vocals. Ringo Starr stepped away from his drum set to write “Octopus’ Garden.” Maybe, it’s a new hire who isn’t even part of the official creative team. Or, you could bring in a “guest creative participant” for initial brainstorming. Either way, sometimes, a fresh perspective may be all you need to invigorate a tired process.

We Can Work it Out

In both times of joyful play and, later, frustrating conflict, The Beatles were always disciplined about the work. In Get Back, we see them honing lyrics and rethinking arrangements until they get them right. And this was intentional. Paul McCartney had two words for a lack of focus and work ethic: “Un-swinging. Unhip.” He’s right. When success feels distant, persistence and a shared commitment to your creative process can pull a struggling collaborative process forward.

The Long and Winding Road

Even as a group remains committed to the business at hand, conversations and attention spans can wander and brainstorms can take unexpected turns. Let them. Sometimes, the most exciting ideas come when the pressure of a specific task is broken by an offhand comment, an unusual connection, or even just something that makes everyone laugh. Other times, you can return to thoughts that didn't resonate the first time but whose merits you can’t ignore. It's great when a brilliant bolt of inspiration emerges, fully formed. But when it doesn't, you have to be willing to find brilliance in unexpected places.

Who’s Your Favorite Beatle?

A quick poll of our Relish team revealed a complete diversity of opinion. Pam Willoughby said that in her teen years, she liked John, but now she’s more interested in the underplayed but talented George, who is also the favorite of Michael Palermo and Leigh Flemister. Paul Marquardt recalls that as a kid, he gravitated toward Paul because their names were similar (“I thought of myself as Paul Marquardtney – maybe we were related somewhere!"). Noah Chen admitted to being a "Post-Beatles" listener but says he admires the solo work of John Lennon. Mia Johnson told us she didn’t have a favorite – that the band’s value was in what its members accomplished together. And me? As a serious kid, I was fascinated by George. But I've increasingly embraced the lighter side of things, which brought me back to Paul, and lately, the fun-loving Ringo.

In short, we’re as diverse as the Fab Four, which works with the lessons above to fuel our success together. How about you? We’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences, concerns, and questions about collaborative creativity – or even just your favorite Beatle or song. I’ve Got a Feeling we can Come Together with you to create Something spectacular.


Brand Marketing and Messaging: Ditch Demographics and Use This Instead

Get ready to have your mind blown.

You might want to sit down for this: According to virtually every demographic measurement, Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourn are identical. They’re the same age. They have the same number of kids. Their skin color is the same. They live in the same geographic area. And, they’re both among the most affluent people in the world (Ozzy’s net worth is higher – but at their level, who’s counting?).

That little tidbit of information is part of an important concept that our account executive, Noah, took away from the Ad World digital conference he attended a few months ago. The idea is that the better we can understand how different audiences live, feel, and think, the better we can communicate with them. This audience segmentation concept wasn't news to us at Relish. We've been advocating and implementing this strategy with our clients for some time. But, it's gratifying to see our brand development and content marketing approach – which goes well beyond demographics – highlighted as a best practice for marketers.

Should we address Rockers like Royals (and vice-versa)?

For decades, conventional marketing wisdom has assumed that demographics are the ideal tool for market segmentation. Clearly, that’s not enough. Especially as the online world encourages consumers to galvanize around shared interests and perspectives, marketers have to meet people where they are, speaking to more informed, narrower audience bases.

Our brand messaging and content marketing processes often include a deep dive into our clients’ audiences. When possible, we talk directly with current, potential, and former customers – often with fascinating results. It isn't uncommon to discover that a company and its customers don't see each other the way they see themselves. While such realizations initially may be surprising, bringing those perceptions into better alignment almost always sharpens the company's branding and messages in creative new ways.

Identifying audience segments is only the first step.

No question, developing a clear understanding of a company's audiences is essential. For instance, we helped senior living leader Lenbrook identify four distinct audience segments by age, stage of life, and where they are on their buying journeys. Then, for each, we identified the motivations, thoughts, feelings, and timing of their journeys toward decisions about senior living. And, that helped our client orient its teams toward a more incisive approach to different kinds of prospects.

It's exciting to understand those individual audience segments. But, the real results happen when we use those personas as metrics against which we can measure specific marketing outreach. Back in the days before so much marketing was digital, segmenting marketing across multiple audiences could be prohibitively expensive. Now, it's not only more affordable, it's critical. Maybe it once was enough to assume that selling something people need would be enough to make them buy it. Today, the key is to understand their specific experiences and perspectives on the buying journey, then meet them where they are.

Whether you’re marketing to rock stars, royalty, technicians, or truck drivers, the days of all-purpose marketing are over. And the time to build authentic connections with them on a better-informed, more specific level is now.


Are You Bold Enough to Lean Into Truly Inspirational Brand Marketing?

Have you ever found yourself so stirred, so inspired by a piece of bold, creative collateral or advertising that you saved a direct mail piece or bookmarked it online – and kept it for months or even years? Your answer might be “never.” Inspirational branding strategies and creative don’t happen often. And, in many ways, they shouldn't because it would be weird if every single piece of communication connected with deep meaning or emotion.

That said, when it does happen, it’s remarkable.

A Catalog Worth Saving

It happened to me in 2018. An REI catalog arrived in the mail, and the cover alone struck me. Edge to edge, it listed the negative things that women hear – often in conjunction with their ability to be athletes or lovers of the outdoors. And, every single one of them was crossed out. Then inside, I found story after story of women thriving and succeeding in outdoor endeavors.

Make no mistake – this was also a catalog of apparel and gear. But It read like a manifesto of women in the outdoors and allowed the company to champion its Force of Nature initiative to advance gender equity. I saved the catalog and referred to it often, just to relive the powerful experience of discovering it for the first time. And, as it happened, that experience solidified my loyalty to the company as my resource for sports and outdoors purchases.

A Commercial with Millions of Repeated Views

More often, we see this kind of compelling, stirring, sticky approach in video advertising. Take this Samsung commercial – one of India's most viewed videos of 2017. It tells the simple story of a Samsung repairman struggling to reach a distant location to repair a television. After weathering storms and collapsed roads, he finally arrives at his destination… only to discover that it is a hostel for the blind. Still, he graciously fixes the television and sits with his sightless customers as they tune in to a singing competition.

The ad delivers a satisfying emotional experience that connects to the company and its commitment to customers in a unique, highly memorable way. Even now, four years later, thousands of people are still tuning in to see it.

What Makes These Daring Ideas Work?

The REI catalog and the Samsung ad don’t feel like ordinary marketing communications, which means that the decision to create them was risky. They might have been deemed failures if their execution hit the wrong emotional notes or completely ignored essential marketing messages. Likewise, had the companies allowed the comfort of their traditional sales come-ons and aggressive calls to action to eat into the power of these daring communications, they would have come and gone, as so many do. But that's not what happened. By bravely focusing on the humanity of their audiences and showing that their brands understand and cater to often invisible, unique perspectives, these communications not only succeeded but transcended their media.

We’re working with one of our clients right now to create a similarly powerful experience in a significant piece of their collateral. It isn't done yet, so we can't show it to you. But we believe it rethinks how the company's target audience is seen – and maybe even how they see themselves. Stay tuned.


Employee attraction, employee retention

The Employee Attraction/Retention Crisis:
Lessons Learned from Senior Living Successes

“Do people just not want to work?”

It’s a question high on the minds of many business leaders – particularly those in the healthcare, hospitality, and retail sectors, where public-facing jobs are more challenging than ever to fill and keep filled. People need to work. Jobs are available. So, what's the problem with employee attraction and retention? Is it an employer branding issue? Or something else entirely?

The initial challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic drove creative responses to workforce challenges – many of which addressed the untapped potential of virtual media. But, organizations whose business require in-person engagement with customers and co-workers can’t take advantage of Cloud-based capabilities. Combine that with everything from vaccine and mask-resistance to the additional challenges of compensating for an understaffed workforce, and it's easy to see: These businesses will need to identify and implement new workforce attraction and retention solutions.

The Senior Living Sector Shows How it's Done.

Fortunately, our research has identified trends led by innovative senior living and senior serving organizations changing how they’ve “always done things” to drive employee retention and attraction. Some of these changes are borderline revolutionary, while others are pretty simple:

  • Raise and equalize wages. Raising minimum wages to $15/hour is a good starting point to demonstrate good faith. And, as workers take on additional responsibilities to compensate for understaffed organizations, they should also earn extra compensation and bonuses for their loyalty.
  • Prioritize and improve benefits. Beyond basic healthcare, senior communities are gaining traction by expanding benefits such as adding vision and dental coverage, matching 401K contributions, and assuming a larger share of benefits expenses. Periodic rewards in the form of gift cards for groceries and other necessities are also highly appreciated by staff members.
  • Support and encourage growth. Communities that make it easy for team members to add new certifications and earn college degrees by providing tuition assistance are seeing improvements in employee retention. Additionally, short-term “microlearning” opportunities significantly improve staff confidence. And, programs geared toward improving relationships between employees, contractors, administrators, residents, and their families also help improve morale.
  • Help overcome biases. Programs and facilitated discussions with both staff and residents designed to acknowledge and address biases about age and race improve attitudes and engagement.
  • Welcome employee talents. While staff members must provide a consistent experience, job enthusiasm rises when management offers opportunities for staff to suggest and implement fresh ideas (e.g., making music videos with residents) or bring artistry to their work (e.g., making desserts that are as beautiful as they are tasty).
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Whatever innovations you offer to your staff members, the keys to enthusiastic acceptance are framing your offerings in the context of their value. Communicate them clearly to build awareness, encourage adoption, and celebrate successes. Full disclosure: We at Relish Marketing can be a big help in this area – from strategic direction to creative ideas and implementation support.

Can it Work In Other Public-Facing Sectors? (Short answer: Yes)

Ultimately, these employee attraction and retention changes all come down to taking meaningful steps that demonstrate genuine understanding and appreciation. These steps all can be adapted and applied to many healthcare, hospitality, and retail organizations. Of course, everyone hopes that we are moving closer and closer to putting the pandemic behind us. However, the issues driving worker dissatisfaction and frustration in public-facing sectors offer an excellent opportunity for leaders to make changes that will improve talent attraction and retention for many years to come.


How Did They DO That? Medal-worthy Marketing at the Tokyo Olympics

One of the best things about summer (at least every four years) is the Olympic Games. Watching top athletes is part of it, of course. But the Olympics also provide a forum for strategic marketing communications that can be just as thrilling.

This year in Tokyo, some powerful athletic moments and compelling advertising came together in a commercial aired early in the games by Comcast. The ad, titled The Sportsmanship Effect, paid homage to how seeing elite athletes treat each other with kindness and respect motivates kids to do the same. The implication is that we’re inspiring a new generation to play to win without making enemies of their opponents. It’s so full of feel-good vibes that viewers might almost miss something else that makes this advertisement such an exceptional bit of storytelling. Almost.

Like many of the media giant’s Olympic commercials this year, the ad interspersed its imagery of kids with moments of powerful sportsmanship that viewers will have just seen – in some cases, only moments earlier. According to Comcast Senior Vice President of Brand Marketing Todd Arata, the goal is to make people wonder, "How did that happen? I literally just watched that!’”

Since Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which owns the Games' broadcast rights, the company has unprecedented logistical opportunities. Even so, this ad represents the kind of strategic and creative fusion that we're all about at Relish Marketing.


Content Marketing

IT and Consulting Services have Changed – Make Sure Your Marketing Keeps Pace

“Short and sweet.” “Keep it simple.” “Nobody has time.” “People don’t read!” These marketing maxims are so deeply ingrained that it’s easy to bristle at any other marketing direction. And yet, the big marketing shift happening today, especially for IT and consulting firms, is a move toward more content in greater depth.

Wait – what?

Orbit Media research shows that longform online content is on the rise, with stories that are at least 1000 words long growing by nearly 30% over the past five years and stories that are 500-1000 words shrinking by almost 40%. The most-read stories on LinkedIn – by a factor of three – are at least 1900 words long. A Curata study says that the most successful marketers are focusing on ensuring that their content delivers well-written quality information and insights. And, that same study says that long-form content generates nine times more leads than short-form content.

A deeper dive into these trends shows that people still don’t want to wade through long, self-involved sales messages. But they do want content that can make a difference to their businesses. In fact, they’re looking for marketplace/industry analyses, insights, and information that can both inform and confirm their own findings. The kind of content you probably have at hand if you're good at what you do.

Obviously, you don’t want to give away your “secret sauce,” But you can – and should – share content that reinforces the knowledge and thought leadership you can offer. Here’s how:

  • Keep your intros in “easy-open packaging.” Entry points are where those old maxims still hold true. You wouldn’t introduce yourself to a potential new friend by launching into a deep-dive monologue about yourself (we’ve all met those people at parties – awkward, to say the least). The same goes for content-heavy outreach emails and social posts. Tease valuable content enough to make it easy for your prospects to click through to get it.
  • Speak to your audience’s real-world experiences. Your business is not the center of your clients’ and potential clients’ worlds – no matter how much you wish otherwise. Put yourself in your prospects’ position. What excites them about their work? And, what stresses them out at 3:00 in the morning? That’s where you and your content need to meet them.
  • Offer valuable perspectives, knowledge, and information. Again, we’re not recommending you give away all your secrets. But there is value in connecting prospects with enough compelling ideas to show them that you understand their business and, better yet, make them want to continue the conversation. (Most recently, we’ve been offering our post-COVID Guide to Professional Services Resilience).
  • Keep your audience awake. Especially with in-depth content, don’t forget to keep it easy to look at and consume. Will an infographic help people who want an at-a-glance perspective? Could a video lead prospects through a complex idea? How about some old-fashioned narrative storytelling to inspire an emotional connection? Consider what creative approaches will express your messages in the most compelling ways for the people who need them.
  • Answer when called. You wouldn’t ignore a direct call from someone who read an article you wrote. So, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for comments on your social posts, clicks through to your website, and downloads that deeper content, too. Respond to those messages so you can create and continue conversations that can ultimately yield genuine business relationships.
  • Let existing clients help you out. Have you done some terrific work lately? Did the client say so? Capture those testimonials and, with your client’s permission, share them:

“What you get with Relish is a holistic approach to integrated marketing… Direct marketing, websites, PR – the integrated mix, bearing in mind budgets and such. Serving up options and having regular discussions. That’s what you get with Relish.”

Gareth Clark
Senior Advisor, Focus

  • Let us help you, too. If deepening your content strategy feels like work – from strategy and media development to writing and design – here’s a reminder: it’s part of how we support our clients (see above).

That old conventional wisdom that tried to force content into 140 characters or less has its place. But, your prospects' hunger for meaningful content is an excellent opportunity for you to assert your leadership, connect with your audiences in ways that matter to them, and produce results for everyone.


The Big Shift You Didn’t See Coming for Legal and Accounting Services Marketing

“Short and sweet.” “Keep it simple.” “Nobody has time.” “People don’t read!” These marketing maxims are so deeply ingrained that it’s easy to bristle at any other marketing direction. And yet, the big marketing shift happening today, especially for accounting and law firms, is a move toward more content in greater depth.

Wait – what?

It’s true. Blog marketing and downloadable content are getting longer  Orbit Media research shows stories that are at least 1000 words long have grown by nearly 30% over the past five years and stories that are 500-1000 words shrunk  by almost 40%. The most-read articles on LinkedIn – by a factor of three – are at least 1900 words long. A Curata study says that the most successful marketers are focusing on ensuring that their content delivers well-written qualityinformation and insights. And, that same study says that long-form content generates nine times more leads than short-form content.

A deeper dive into these content trends shows that people still don’t want to wade through long, self-involved sales messages. But they do want content that can make a difference to their businesses. In fact, they’re looking for marketplace and industry analyses, insights, and information that can both inform and confirm their own findings. The kind of content you probably have at hand if you're good at what you do.

Obviously, you don’t want to give away your “secret sauce,” But you can – and should – share content that reinforces the knowledge and thought leadership you can offer. Here’s how:

  • Keep your intros in “easy-open packaging.” Entry points are where those old maxims still hold true. You wouldn’t introduce yourself to a potential new friend by launching into a deep-dive monologue about yourself (we’ve all met those people at parties – awkward, to say the least). The same goes for content-heavy outreach emails and social posts. Tease valuable content enough to make it easy for your prospects to click through to get it.
  • Speak to your audience’s real-world experiences. Your business is not the center of your clients’ and potential clients’ worlds – no matter how much you wish otherwise. Put yourself in your prospects’ position. What excites them about their work? And, what stresses them out at 3:00 in the morning? That’s where you and your content need to meet them.
  • Offer valuable perspectives, knowledge, and information. Again, we’re not recommending you give away all your secrets. But there is value in connecting prospects with enough compelling ideas to show them that you understand their business and, better yet, make them want to continue the conversation. (Most recently, we’ve been offering our post-COVID Guide to Professional Services Resilience).
  • Keep your audience awake. Especially with in-depth content, don’t forget to keep it easy to look at and consume. Will an infographic help people who want an at-a-glance perspective? Could a video lead prospects through a complex idea? How about some old-fashioned narrative storytelling to inspire an emotional connection? Consider what creative approaches will express your messages in the most compelling ways for the people who need them.
  • Answer when called. You wouldn’t ignore a direct call from someone who read an article you wrote. So, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for comments on your social posts, clicks through to your website, and downloads to deeper content, too. Respond to those messages so you can create and continue conversations that can ultimately yield genuine business relationships.
  • Let existing clients help you out. Have you done some terrific work lately? Did the client say so? Capture those testimonials and, with your client’s permission, share them:

“One of the biggest challenges we faced when updating our website was the fact that there are a lot of short attention spans out there. We had so much content to share online – and we needed to make sure that it would be enticing enough to make people want to read further. Relish gave us both structure and content we needed to grab our visitors’ attention right away. We count on Relish’s design expertise, too.”

 – Nicole Kwasnik, Marketing and Recruiting Manager
Meunier Carlin & Curfman LLC

  • Let us help you, too. If deepening your content strategy feels like work – from strategy and research to writing and design – here’s a reminder: it’s part of how we support our clients (see above).

That old conventional wisdom that tried to force content into 140 characters or less has its place. But, your prospects' hunger for meaningful content is an excellent opportunity for you to assert your leadership, connect with your audiences in ways that matter to them, and produce results for everyone.


Why Digital Experiences are More Important Than Ever

Why Digital Experiences are More Important Than Ever (and 3 drivers that should guide yours)

Click. You like something on Instagram. You order groceries on the website. You tack on a tip for the delivery person. You receive an automated thank-you message, and pop-up offers to shop again. One of those special offers is the virtual opportunity to cook alongside a local chef via videoconference. How fun! You go to the website and - Click. Date night planned. The next day, you check the weather on your smart home device, log onto your workout app and get in a run with your favorite instructor. You post online about the experience in a Facebook running group. You log onto your computer to check your email and start the day. A chat window pops up – can you join the team for a quick update call on Zoom? You can and you do.

If it seems like nearly everything you do is a digital experience, you’re right.

Digital experiences are increasingly woven into every business at every level. Sure, working, shopping and socializing from home took on new levels of importance this past year. But these experiences are too convenient, immediate and enjoyable to go away.  If anything, they’re only going to become more sophisticated and seamlessly integrated into our lives. They already have.

Websites and apps offer the obvious digital experiences. But chat boxes, emails, texts, payment systems, facial recognition and artificial intelligence are part of them, too. Indeed, you’ll find them integrated into every marketing strategy. Which means that if you’re not already delivering them, you need to get started.

But what kinds of digital experiences are right for your business? Some experiences are designed to be entertaining, with everything from fun flourishes that make clicks feel more tactile to video and music. Others deliver screens that are clean and open, with content that’s easy to find, like our client, Core Dance’s website. They tap into the ability to deliver continual offers, information and engagement, and they allow users to choose how to receive them. These digital experiences may not be exciting – but their seamlessness makes them highly attractive to their audiences.

How to Build Your Digital Experience Strategy

There are practically no limits to the number and types of digital experiences you can offer but three key drivers should guide your digital experience strategy:

  • Your brand and identity. We’re talking about who you are as an organization. If your look, feel and language tend to be flippant and fun, your digital experiences should be, too. If your business is built on a foundation of reassurance and simplicity, those qualities need to shine through everything from your website and social presence to your emails and Zoom backgrounds.
  • Your customers. What are they accustomed to? How do they engage with you, with other organizations, even with each other? If the people you need to reach are on Tik-Tok, they’re used to engaging with short video clips – and while you may find these consumers on Snapchat, you might not find them on Twitter.
  • Your resources. When you define the kind of experiences that make sense for your brand and your customers’ expectations and needs, you’ll need to balance that against your ability to deliver. The most sophisticated digital experiences may be largely automated, but they require constant monitoring, testing and adjustment to remain welcome and relevant. Whether you conduct these activities yourself or partner with someone else who can do it for you, you’ll want to balance the digital experiences you want to deliver against what you’ll need to invest in their success.

Clearly, we’re passionate about this subject. If it’s captured your curiosity, too, we should talk. Drop us a note or give us a call. We’d love to hear about your business and join you in exploring the digital experiences can help you take it forward.