2023 Marketing Predictions

VR, Blockchain, Web3 and Metaverse

Starting with the biggest nobraider is thinking about marketing through the lens of virtual reality and conducting business through blockchain technology. With the rise of the Metaverse, a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users, comes the evolution of web3 as well. web3 is the name some technologists have given to the idea of a new kind of internet service that is built using decentralized blockchains — the shared ledger systems used by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether. The term has been around for years, but to break it down it’s really, “the internet owned by the builders and users, orchestrated with tokens.” web3 takes on many forms, including decentralized social networks, “play-to-earn” video games that reward players with crypto tokens, and NFT platforms that allow people to buy and sell fragments of digital culture. But some believe that web3 is little more than a rebranding effort for crypto, with the aim of shedding some of the industry’s cultural and political baggage and convincing people that blockchains are the natural next phase of computing. In this new internet, we get rid of the centralized systems and create an open ecosystem that would reinvent the digital marketing industry. This technology is really for recording and verifying transactions that can be applied to practically anything requiring trust—from money to real estate to medical records. As a result, blockchain has the potential to revolutionize marketing as we know it today.

Audio Content

Consumption habits have no doubt changed since COVID-19 with consumers doubling down on digital and transitioning to online lifestyles, which includes the way they experience content. With the rise of podcasts, audio play time is significantly higher across all platforms and mediums. Considering TV, music, podcasts and streaming services, consumers are multitasking and taking in SO much more information, messaging and storytelling at a rapid rate through audio. So, the way we target and market products and services should meet customers where they are–in their ears. 

Completely Paperless

People have been changing their habits by prioritizing sustainability and they want brands to help them make sustainable choices more obtainable, manageable and available. They also expect organizations, businesses and corporate companies to have an impact on society on a much larger scale and align promises with actions. I predict a lot more of these entities will likely make sustainability promises by “going green by 20XX” and eliminate paper goods altogether. In addition, they’ll take it further by not only reducing their economical impact, but creating purposeful outlets for others to do the same. 

Privacy Technology 

Leaks, breaches, hacks and scams all are on the rise as people and technology advance in all areas of business. And with people managing more of their day-to-day lives online than ever before, online privacy has never been more important. To customers, privacy IS trust and market performance will no doubt make or break when it comes to user experience. Reported by Google, consumers view bad privacy experiences almost as damaging as a theft of their data. It’s enough to make 43% of them switch to another brand. In addition, while privacy and respect is top of mind for the consumer, ease of use when protecting their information is still number one—locking down information still has to be quick and seamless. 

Special Services Over Big Business 

Long are the days of the Mad Men mentality. It’s expensive to compete with big brands when so many small businesses need the same tools and exposure just to swim in the same sea. And in the era of the Great Resignation, which shows no signs of slowing down, businesses, nonprofits and all companies in between are turning to subject matter experts who have now left corporate life to specialize in a unique area of expertise, in turn, starting their own small business. As every individual and every business in the past several years has now scaled back, gotten leaner and smarter with their spending, they are outsourcing what they collectively agree cannot be done in house and look to freelancers and contractors. For marketers, that means bye bye big agencies and hello skilled remote workers with short term contracts. 

Taylor Ion, Marketing Specialist

Director of Marketing, Charleston AMA

Strategist, rūmbo

Get ready for GivingTuesday with these 2022 tips and trends

As GivingTuesday has become a massive worldwide movement, the stakes are higher for ensuring your story and mission are seen, heard and ultimately: you get the donations you need.

Creative, out-of-the-box ideas are a must

This global movement has taken the world by storm. GivingTuesday content reaches millions of people every year. Your campaign needs to stand out to get the attention it deserves. Long gone are the days of just a few posts on social media. Instead, consider compelling, fun and engaging ways to share your story.

Curate an extensive image bank this year. Create a recap video. Have incredible testimonials or stories from those you’ve helped. Amplify their voices by making them the heroes of your campaign! Uncover the creative core of what you do and make it shine bright by sharing through all your communication channels.

Appoint ambassadors for your campaign

Leave the logistics of your campaign with a planning committee. Whether it’s committed volunteers or members of your staff, forming a group of a few people to execute your campaign from start to finish will ensure the attention to detail and focus of your message is layered in every step of the way!

Create a campaign landing page

Make the most out of your donor’s giving experience by sending them to a dedicated campaign landing page versus your donate page on your website. This way, they will have a seamless experience that matches your campaign. Whether you create a subdomain or host it elsewhere, let us help you maximize your donation potential!

Pro tip: Keep the separate landing page all year long and change up the content each time you run another campaign or special event! You’ll be able to monitor your campaign traffic and separate it from your year-long traffic.

Partner with others for a larger impact

Double down on your reach by pairing up with other like-minded organizations. Do you all serve the same community? Are you both members of a larger cause? Tap into different audiences, increase your budget and promote your partnership for a louder impact on giving day!

Partner lead: Are you an SC nonprofit? Together SC has over 800 members! Your new partner may be closer than you think.

Plan for Welcome Wednesday 

The day after GivingTuesday has come to be known as Welcome Wednesday, a day to extend an extra special thanks and welcome to the donors from the day before. Welcome Wednesday should layer into your overall donor retention communication plan, so don’t skip out on this must-do. Ensure you have emails drafted and your hand-written thank you notes on hand to reach out to everyone that made the day a success! 

Spring toward a six-month check-in 

Speaking of thanking donors, while a majority do not return until the next holiday season, Classy reports that 31% of those who return to make a second donation do so within six months (May). You now have another opportunity to amplify your retention tactics and re-activate GivingTuesday donors earlier in the year! For example, knowing that these supporters respond to time-based, exciting giving days, it’s a good idea to use national cause awareness days to create an inflection point during earlier months. 

Pinterest Top-Marketing Know How

Pinterest! It’s an incredible marketing tool that typically can get overlooked. BUT I am here to tell you, it can BOOST traffic, INCREASE sales, get your products or services NOTICED and you only need to spend an HOUR a week on it. 

Let me explain.

  • It’s AVAILABLE at the tap of a finger.
  • You can AUTOMATE your strategy and save time.
  • Pinterest users are primed and ready to PURCHASE.
  • Your ideal demographic is ALREADY SEARCHING on the platform.

Curious? Here are some other great things to consider: 

  • Pinterest isn’t a social media site, it’s a search engine where people look for ideas and content. People type in KEYWORDS and QUESTIONS to find inspiration and solutions through visual pins.
  • Marketers are driving more traffic to their website using content they ALREADY HAVE by automating their strategy in just ONE HOUR A WEEK posting ONE pin a day leveraging templates already made and ready to go.
  • Current users spend more money on Pinterest than ANY OTHER social media site. They are there for inspiration, but what happens when they see something they like? THEY BUY.
  • 2022 Pinterest users are: female, 24-54, AHHI of OVER $100,000, they make the purchasing decisions for their home and THEY START with Pinterest for research, shopping and purchasing – so your audience is ALREADY THERE.

Ready to pin? All you need is content. 

  • Once you’ve identified the CONTENT TYPES, you need to create a graphic in the form of a pin to promote on Pinterest.
  • If you pin ONE fresh pin a day = HUGE results because Pinterest PRIORITIZES new content over anything else!
  • Create high quality NEW pins that are yours and Pinterest will distribute your pins into the smart feed for others to discover.
  • A new pin GRAPHIC pointing to the SAME CONTENT counts as a fresh pin!

The best part about adding your content to Pinterest is that the LIFESPAN of a single post on Instagram or Facebook is ~3-5 hours AS MOST. The average lifespan of a single pin on Pinterest is 3 to 5 MONTHS!

See the potential? I hope so! Now, all you need to do is is get your Pinterest cover graphics together and get pinning! *Need help with that too?* 

I GOT YOU. I have 10 tried and tested Pinterest templates to help you get started! Send me an email and I’ll make sure to get them over to you ASAP! 

Taylor Ion

taylor@charlestonama.org

Five Podcasts all Marketers should be Listening to Right Now!

If we’re not watching, we’re scrolling. If we’re not scrolling, we’re listening. And if you’re not listening, well that’s where we come in! In 2021, over 80 million Americans were dedicated, weekly podcast listeners. With over two million podcasts to choose from, there’s always something to laugh at or something to learn, especially when it comes to marketing. Join us in as we keep up with the podcast Joneses; here are the five podcasts all marketers should be listening to right now!

The Marketing Secrets Show

Hosted by New York Times bestselling author and co-founder of ClickFunnels, Russel Brunson, The Marketing Secret Show highlights small business successes. As a small business entering the marketing space with a limited budget, it can be daunting to form a plan. Heck, you may not even have a pla-. Russel’s podcast is a free resource to help get your company started off on the right foot and make sure you stay there. 

The Digital Marketing Podcast

In an arena that’s ever-evolving, keeping up with the latest digital trends is truly a full time job. This weekly podcast, hosted by Daniel Rowles, award winning author, speaker and CEO of Target Internet, and digital marketing specialist and trainer, Ciaran Rogers, highlights the need-to-know digital news to keep your strategy relevant. From social media to SEO to digital ads, they’ve got it covered. 

Marketing Over Coffee

The perfect show for your morning commute, John Wall and Christopher Penn’s show breaks down industry news into bite-sized bits. Published every Thursday morning, the pair of marketing experts and public-speaking aficionados cover a wide-range of topics, industry best practices and interviews with the marketing industry’s finest as it relates to what’s current – and they do it all in just 20 minutes! 

Everyone Hates Marketers 

Raise your hand if you have been personally victimized by people who hate the marketing industry… We’ve all been there. Host Louis Grenier provides an irreverent take on industry news and need-to-knows and does it in a way that will reignite your spark for the space as a whole. This podcast is both educational and entertaining, providing resources and perspectives that allow you to do your job well, while reminding you why you started your job in the first place. Marketing is FUN! 

This Old Marketing

Hosted by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, This Old Marketing covers a week in review of pertinent media, marketing and content news. Joe and Robert look at the world through an entrepreneurial eye, making this a must-listen to for all who are moving and shaking the industry. The show, published every Friday, provides insight and conversations that you won’t want to miss. 

The next time you find yourself stuck in traffic on the Ravenel Bridge, stop your scroll and turn on one of these podcasts instead. You may even learn something!  

Ready for another marketing roundup?

Taylors-Marketing-Tips-CAMA-Blog

This time I’m talking vocab to get you ready for big trends to hit the industry come 2023. Let’s jump in…

  1. Agile Marketing: An approach inspired by the Agile methodology. It’s a way of working that involves rapid iterations rather than one big project. Agile marketing emphasizes real-time collaboration (over silos and hierarchy) and is designed so that marketers can respond more easily to change.
  2. “Blanding”: The cross-market phenomenon of brands adopting similar minimalist aesthetic cues. Ruled by the dictum “less is more,” blanding is embodied by sans serif fonts, clean lines, limited color palette and overall simplification. Blanding is a visual style
    that’s controlled, ahistorical and flat. Blands by definition look the same. The style can be seen across all sectors, and major companies are rebranding to fit the trend. Blanding removes associations, attempting neutrality. As simple and streamlined as possible, there’s nothing that could alienate consumers now or in the future. This will specifically apply to UX design working to make websites free of intrusive advertising and popups.
  3. Conversational Marketing: Instead of directing people to lead capture forms and waiting for a response, conversational marketing uses targeted messaging and AI automation to engage with people when they’re on your website. This digital marketing trend employs intelligent chatbots with machine learning and natural language processing (NLP), allowing customers to have a two-way conversation with a brand. Shifting from an asynchronous way of marketing to real-time conversations presents a major learning curve as conversational marketing grows in 2023.
  4. Internet of Things (IoT): This term describes a network of “things” that are connected through sensors and software for the purpose of connecting and sharing data with each other over the internet. According to Cisco, 500 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet by 2030. This means marketers should start thinking about how to incorporate IoT and artificial intelligence into their programs to maintain omnichannel marketing across channels their potential buyers will be using.
  5. “Scrollytelling”: A term first coined to describe online long-form stories characterized by audio, video and animation effects triggered by simply scrolling the page. The scrollytelling format represented a departure from basic stories containing little or no multimedia, and also from interactive stories that were complex to navigate. One of the first examples of the style to gain widespread attention was Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek, published by The New York Times. The simplicity of the scroll-based interaction meant that readers didn’t have to second-guess what to press, click, or swipe in order to see the full story. The scrollytelling format also provided novel opportunities for position-triggered multimedia events, such as video playing, animation, and image transitions. This enabled a dynamic interplay of text, imagery, and sound that gave the story an engaging rhythm and provided elements of unexpected surprise as components came to life.

And there you have it! I hope you’re feeling more ITK and a bit more prepared for the marketing realm in 2023!

Charleston AMA 2022 Spark! Awards Winners Announced

CHARLESTON, SC, September 26, 2022: Charleston American Marketing Association is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 Spark! Awards, the only awards event in Charleston celebrating creative excellence and marketing talent. 

On Wednesday, September 21, nearly 100 marketing and creative professionals came together and brought the ‘It’s Time to Tiki” event theme to life. The event featured luau-inspired food from Swig and Swine, Pussers Rum debuted the new Painkiller canned read-to-drink cocktail to the marketing community, and a stand up comedy show from local comedians Dan Sweneey and Josh Bates, as well as an after party a Dalilas. 

Thank you to this year’s Spark! Awards sponsors, Nelson Printing, Valhalla Images, Charleston Radio Group, Balloon Therapy Charleston, Chris Hervochen Consulting, Harborside East, and Squeeze Marketing.

Fellow AMA Reno-Tahoe chapter reviewed hundreds of submissions and selected finalists and winners in 19 creative categories, as well as Charleston Marketer of the Year.

Follow Charleston AMA on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date on shenanigans and events. If you would like to be a speaker at events or want to learn about how to become a member, email info@charlestonama.org

Charleston AMA 2022 Spark! Awards Winners

2022 Marketer of the Year

Rhetta Cloyd – In The Black Marketing and Consulting

2022 Volunteer of the Year

Gillian Mechling

Best Blog

WINNER: 

Trio SolutionsCharleston Allergy + Asthma

FINALISTS:

Charleston Wine + FoodTasting Notes

Winkler GroupNews and Insights: The “Great Resignation” and How to Address Nonprofit Staff Turnover

Best Book Cover

WINNER:

Banks CreativeJapanese Print Catalog

FINALISTS:

Advantage Media | Forbes Books – Jason Mars: Breaking Bots

Advantage Media | Forbes Books – Robert Sofia: Blend Out

Best Collateral

WINNER:

Nina Ita / A+E Digital PrintingThe Wonderer – Krida Dining & Beverage Menu

FINALISTS:

In The Black Marketing & ConsultingBest Collateral: Harlestons

Nina Ita / A+E Digital PrintingHarbour Club at Westedge – Private Events Package

Best Corporate Identity Package

WINNER:

In The Black Marketing & ConsultingBest Corporate Identity Package: Hamby Catering & Events

FINALISTS:

Kim Russo, On Brand DesignsHogarty Group

Trio Solutions Inc. (TRIO)Wholespire

Best Digital Advertising

WINNER:

Momentum MarketingPolly’s Fine Jewelry | Ring In The Madness

FINALIST:

Charleston Wine + Food22Together

Best Direct Mail Marketing

WINNER:

Vertical FoldRapid Repairs Crawl Space Postcard

FINALIST:

LimRic Plumbing Heating & AirWelcome to the Comfort Club!

Best E-Newsletter

WINNER:

Charleston County ParksEducate & Inspire

FINALISTS:

Stingray BrandingCharleston Gator Club

Winkler GroupNovember Giving 

Best Event Marketing

WINNER:

Charleston Wine + FoodCharleston Wine + Food 2022 Festival

FINALISTS:

BoomTownBoomTown Unite

Trident United Way2021 Sing United

Best Illustration

WINNER:

Banks CreativeCharleston Visitor Guide Cover

FINALISTS:

Kim Russo, On Brand DesignsMoxxi Coffee Co.

Squeeze MarketingKrazy Hayes Artwork

Best Logo Design

WINNER:

Kim Russo, On Brand DesignsLowcountry Harvest

FINALISTS:

Kim Russo, On Brand DesignsA Spot of Paint by Kim

Squeeze MarketingFelicity Charleston Logo

Best Non-Traditional Marketing

WINNER:

LimRic Plumbing Heating & AirTransforming the Trades

FINALISTS:

In The Black Marketing & ConsultingHarlestons

The Brandon AgencyBlack Insomnia Coffee Company Poster Campaign

Best Outdoor Advertising

WINNER:

The Brandon AgencyDaytona Beach

FINALISTS:

Push DigitalCharleston’s Best Dermatologist – DLCC Billboards

REV Federal Credit Union1.75% Auto Loans

Best Print Advertising

WINNER:

Momentum MarketingBeacon Community Bank | Hero Word Campaign

FINALISTS:

Charleston Wine + Food22Together

The Brandon AgencyDaytona Beach

Best Product Marketing

WINNER:

DaysieDaysie Launch

FINALISTS:

Banks CreativeCharleston Beer Can

Pussers RumPusser’s Painkiller RTD (Ready to Drink) Cocktail

Best Public Relations

WINNER:

LimRic Plumbing Heating & AirPet Helpers International Dog Day Adoption Event

FINALISTS:

MUSC Children’s & Women’s HealthFather & Son Urge Vaccination

MUSC Children’s & Women’s HealthThe Safest Place to Deliver

Best Social Media Campaign

WINNER:

Charleston Wine + FoodOn the Road with Toyota

FINALISTS:

Butcher & BeeButcher & Bee x Duke’s Mayonnaise

Mount Pleasant Chamber of CommerceShop Where You Live

The Brandon AgencyBlack Insomnia Coffee Company

Best Social Media Presence

WINNER:

Charleston County ParksThe Great Outdoors is for Everyone

FINALISTS:

Butcher & BeeButcher & Bee

Charleston Wine + Food@chswineandfood

Best Video Marketing

WINNER:

BoomTownWhy it Works

FINALISTS:

Charleston Wine + FoodCHSWF 2022 Promo Sizzle

REV Federal Credit UnionCan’t Stop Me Now

Best Website

WINNER:

Stingray Brandinglodi.coffee

FINALISTS:

Charleston Wine + Foodchswf.com

Daysie – enjoydaysie.com

Charleston AMA 2022 Spark! Awards Finalists

Best Blog

Charleston Wine + Food – Tasting Notes

Trio Solutions – Charleston Allergy + Asthma

Winkler Group – News and Insights: The “Great Resignation” and How to Address Nonprofit Staff Turnover

Best Book Cover

Advantage Media | Forbes Books – Jason Mars: Breaking Bots

Advantage Media | Forbes Books Robert Sofia: Blend Out

Banks Creative – Japanese Print Catalog

Best Collateral

In The Black Marketing & Consulting – Best Collateral: Harlestons

Nina Ita / A+E Digital Printing – The Wonderer – Krida Dining & Beverage Menu

Nina Ita / A+E Digital Printing – Harbour Club at Westedge – Private Events Package

Best Corporate Identity Package

In The Black Marketing & Consulting – Best Corporate Identity Package: Hamby Catering & Events

Kim Russo, On Brand Designs – Hogarty Group

Trio Solutions Inc. (TRIO) – Wholespire

Best Digital Advertising

Charleston Wine + Food – 22Together

Momentum Marketing – Polly’s Fine Jewelry | Ring In The Madness

Best Direct Mail Marketing

LimRic Plumbing Heating & Air – Welcome to the Comfort Club!

Vertical Fold – Rapid Repairs Crawl Space Postcard

Best E-Newsletter

Charleston County Parks – Educate & Inspire

Stingray Branding – Charleston Gator Club

Winkler Group – November Giving 

Best Event Marketing

BoomTown – BoomTown Unite

Charleston Wine + Food – Charleston Wine + Food 2022 Festival

Trident United Way – 2021 Sing United

Best Illustration

Banks Creative – Charleston Visitor Guide Cover

Kim Russo, On Brand Designs – Moxxi Coffee Co.

Squeeze Marketing – Krazy Hayes Artwork

Best Logo Design

Kim Russo, On Brand Designs – Lowcountry Harvest

Kim Russo, On Brand Designs – A Spot of Paint by Kim

Squeeze Marketing – Felicity Charleston Logo

Best Non-Traditional Marketing

In The Black Marketing & Consulting – Harlestons

LimRic Plumbing Heating & Air – Transforming the Trades

The Brandon Agency – Black Insomnia Coffee Company Poster Campaign

Best Outdoor Advertising

Push Digital – Charleston’s Best Dermatologist – DLCC Billboards

REV Federal Credit Union – 1.75% Auto Loans

The Brandon Agency – Daytona Beach

Best Print Advertising

Charleston Wine + Food – 22Together

Momentum Marketing – Beacon Community Bank | Hero Word Campaign

The Brandon Agency – Daytona Beach

Best Product Marketing

Banks Creative – Charleston Beer Can

Daysie – Daysie Launch

Pussers Rum – Pusser’s Painkiller RTD (Ready to Drink) Cocktail

Best Public Relations

LimRic Plumbing Heating & Air – Pet Helpers International Dog Day Adoption Event

MUSC Children’s & Women’s Health – Father & Son Urge Vaccination

MUSC Children’s & Women’s Health – The Safest Place to Deliver

Best Social Media Campaign

Butcher & Bee – Butcher & Bee x Duke’s Mayonnaise

Charleston Wine + Food – On the Road with Toyota

Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce – Shop Where You Live

The Brandon Agency – Black Insomnia Coffee Company

Best Social Media Presence

Butcher & Bee – Butcher & Bee

Charleston County Parks – The Great Outdoors is for Everyone

Charleston Wine + Food – @chswineandfood

Best Video Marketing

BoomTown – Why it Works

Charleston Wine + Food – CHSWF 2022 Promo Sizzle

REV Federal Credit Union – Can’t Stop Me Now

Best Website

Charleston Wine + Food – chswf.com

Daysie – enjoydaysie.com

Stingray Branding – lodi.coffee

Join us Wednesday, September 21 from 5 – 7 p.m. for the Spark! Awards, in person at Harborside East. Buy your tickets in advance for singles or groups!

A special note from our Membership Director

This city, these cities we get to call home, (Charleston and Mt. P, West Ashley, N. CHS, the Ilsn) we are so lucky to live in, to grow our businesses and raise our families here. The livability is unlike any other place I’ve been. It’s a place where we can all grow up and live happy healthy, active lives, especially our kids of which as you see, I have twin boys Henry and Jackson, who are living their best lives in Kindergarten at Laurell Hill right now. 

But anyway, I really do feel that we have something special here and the CDC is proof. So, now, we need to do our part to keep us on the map, we need a full team effort. We are known for other industries as well, tourism, hospitality/ culinary, foodies are loving it here. Justin Beiber got married here… you know this is a cool spot then. 

Speaking of super influencers, whether you realize it or not, you are representing our city in every piece of content you share. Are there any lawyers reading this? I’m speaking directly to you. I want to share our city in the best way possible.  I want our soul to shine on the map, not just be there. 

The Coffee Talk I presented at the Charleston Digital Corridor is what I love about being on the board of the American Marketing Association. I got to present some best practices from my World to hopefully make someone else’s World that much better. It was cool because the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce was there as well as the Library. Like Ernest had his goal to bring a diverse workforce here, it’s my goal to help amplify it. At rūmbo, we like to say we help amplify a brand’s soul. This is exactly what I’m asking us to do. With your help, we can do exactly that. Attached to this email is the deck I presented at the Coffee Talk, use it to help up-produce your next piece of video content you share for your brand on social media. 

Don’t blink, half the year will be over before you know it. Maybe in the very near future we will be doing a halfway through the year status on our vision board or mission map for 2022. I had the goal to write more content and do my best to give as much value as I can from day to day, person to person. Maybe you have the same goal in writing and you maybe wanted to do a speaking engagement? This is a great outlet for doing so. In light of adding value to our membership, we thought, why shouldn’t you get the same opportunity? I’m inviting you to be a guest writer for our quarterly newsletter. This is your time to check off that goal you created to be a part of something bigger and an easy way to get your name out there as a thought leader. 

I encourage you to reach out to me if you want to connect, become a member or have questions about video production!

Mike Compton
Membership Director

All About The Margins

One thing I hear from agency owners all the time is “how do I know if we are doing well financially? What does good look like?”

In my view, the balance sheet is the most important financial statement to look at. I tell all of my clients, “the balance sheet is where the bodies are buried.” In other words, if your accounting processes and procedures are faulty, they will necessarily show up on the balance sheet. Additionally, an accurate balance sheet will tell you whether or not your business is healthy and likely to sustain itself.

The balance sheet is great, but most agency owners focus on the P&L (sometimes exclusively), plus they want to know how their financial performance compares to other agencies. For agency benchmarking, we look at resources such as ProfitCents, RMA and Ibis Industry Reports, as well as industry reports from associations such as The Bureau of Digital. 

While benchmarking data is great, it’s only a point of reference as agency structures and service lines vary greatly. For instance, some agencies utilize contractors to deliver all of their work. Some exclusively utilize internal employees. With so much variability, how can you use benchmarking data effectively? Well, for starters, you should always be benchmarking your agency against itself. However, if you’re going to use external data, it’s all about comparing the margins.

Gross Margin

Gross margin is calculated by subtracting cost of sales from gross revenue, which will tell you what amount of the next dollar you earn is available to pay fixed expenses and/or take as profit. Cost of sales are variable. In other words, they are expenses you will incur only when you derive a dollar of revenue. If the revenue doesn’t exist, neither does the cost. Examples of cost of sales are project-specific contractors, project-specific software and customer website hosting fees. To express this number as a percentage, more meaningful than simply assessing as a dollar figure, simply divide gross margin by gross revenue.

Net Margin

Net margin is calculated by subtracting fixed expenses from gross margin. Examples of fixed expenses are rent, operational software (e.g. Zoom), salaries, insurance, etc. Net margin is otherwise known as net income, or “the bottom line.” We want this number to be as high as possible, as it represents the amount of money the agency made for any given period. It’s worth noting, though, that net income does not necessarily equal cash flow, the explanation for which is beyond the scope of this blog. To express net margin as a percentage, simply divide net income by gross revenue. Generally, 15% is the minimum percentage we like to see from agencies.

Contribution Margin

Contribution margin is calculated by subtracting payroll expense from gross margin. Remember when I said earlier that benchmarks vary because some agencies use contractors (variable expense, reflected in cost of sales) rather than employees (fixed cost)? This calculation is how you normalize labor cost when considering external benchmarking data in relation to your agency. This measure can also be expressed as a percentage by dividing by gross revenue.

Benchmarking is an important exercise to understand whether your agency is performing good or bad relative to your peer group. Margins are important to measure as they will help you understand how much of the revenue you are likely to keep as you grow, as well as to give you targets to strive for. A good practice is for an agency owner to review all three margins on a regular basis, and to benchmark them both to the agency’s historical performance and the broader industry.

Have more questions? Reach out to Charleston AMA Treasurer and CPA extraordinaire Chris Hervochon here.

5 Digital Marketing Tips, Tricks and Trends to Know Right Now

Whether you’re scrolling through Instagram or hear something on a podcast, there is literally no way you can ignore new tips, tricks or trends around digital marketing. If you’re even remotely tapped into the industry, you will get hit over the head with something you may not have known about or HAVE heard/seen it before but it sparks your imagination to think of your work in a different way.

That’s where this round-up comes from. 

There is no real continuity or cohesiveness to any of these on the list other than they may help you learn something new or remind you of something you haven’t thought about in a while. Either way, here are five tips, tricks and trends you can use right away.

  1. An easy way to go viral on Twitter

Written a blog post or long-form article recently? Great, you now have what you need to go viral on Twitter. A very easy way to get more exposure and engagement on your Tweets is by creating a Twitter thread with all the content you already have. Keep on with your Twitter game since there will likely be new changes headed to the platform VERY soon with its new owner!

  1. Keep in mind this new vocab that is leaking out in to the WWW

That’s right! A new digital language = ‘algospeak’, which is literally new words being published online and across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch in an effort to create a brand-safe lexicon that will avoid getting posts removed or down-ranked by content moderation systems. For instance, in many online videos, it’s common to say “unalive” rather than “dead,” “SA” instead of “sexual assault,” or “spicy eggplant” instead of “vibrator.” Keep this in mind for your next SEO meeting…

  1. Create animation or a super quick video with your screen record

Bypass an app, long hours editing or even downloading from another platform to create a very quick, down and dirty video or animation, use your phone’s screen record feature! I do this often to create another piece of content for social channels, especially! Check out this one I created after Mike Compton and I did IGTV Live. I created this fun animation just by scrolling through our faces while I recorded my screen. Done and done!

  1. Remember Blue Ocean Strategy?

Based on the book published in 2004 by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy refers to the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open up a new market space and create new demand. It is about creating and capturing uncontested market space, thereby making the competition irrelevant. While published some time ago, the principal here still applies: Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Get creative with YOUR brand as it is unique to you in a space where there are no new ideas. 

  1. What the F is an NFT NE way

It’s a digital flex, mostly in the art world and whether you’re the buyer or seller, anyway you put it, I see this fading out real quick. Crypto, however, will be sticking around

So there you have it! Hope this ignited some inspiration for you and your work. Have questions or want to chat about these more? Email me at: taylor@charlestonama.org