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Original articles from Emily K. Howard.
 
Why Great Marketing Is So Difficult
Marketing is an investment. With any investment, you expect a return. A difficult aspect of marketing is that not everything is measurable, so brands are unable to completely and accurately track their ROI.

My Best Piece of Career Advice: Listen
I remember a marketing intern asking me once, “What is one thing that I should be doing to learn as much as possible while I’m here?” My answer was simple, “Eavesdrop.” Of course, I was kidding – at least partially kidding.

Four Critical Aspects of a Successful Client/Agency Relationship
Over the last 18 years of being a marketing professional (mainly on the agency side), I have experienced some amazing working relationships with clients. Not only did these great interactions build the clients’ businesses, but they also made the agencies better. A client/agency relationship is like a marriage in that each individual party flourishes when the connection between the two parties is healthy and strong.

7 Unique Ways Your Business Can Use Social Media
Last week I had a terrible experience with a cable television service. They didn’t show up for the installation appointment, and were unable to set up a new appointment when I called to reschedule. So like any curious marketer would do, I tweeted about it just to see what kind of response I would get. The response I got surprised me.

The Four Fs in Resolving Brand Mistakes
Since brands (and businesses) are composed of imperfect people, brands occasionally make mistakes. Good brands don’t make a lot of mistakes. Great brands recover quickly from the mistakes they do make. Whether a brand instigates a life-threatening problem (think poisoned Tylenol) or brings you the wrong dinner order, the resolution process should include four main principles.

Why Marketing Is So Difficult
Many of my friends and family members say that Esparza’s work is “magical.” What I mean by this is they think our creative ideas and advertising campaigns just appear by magic. We simply wave a wand and beautiful and strategic work just comes to life. If only it were that simple.

Four Critical Aspects of a Successful Client/Agency Relationship
Over the last 18 years of being a marketing professional (mainly on the agency side), I have experienced some amazing working relationships with clients. Not only did these great interactions build the clients’ businesses, but they also made the agencies better. A client/agency relationship is like a marriage in that each individual party flourishes when the connection between the two parties is healthy and strong.

It’s Also Important to Know What Customers Don’t Want
Agencies and clients spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out what their current and prospective customers want. However, it’s just as important to invest in determining what customers don’t want. That way, brands can best deliver products and services that are most relevant to their target audience. So how would you go about figuring out what consumers don’t want?

It’s Also Important to Know What Customers Don’t Want
Agencies and clients spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out what their current and prospective customers want. However, it’s just as important to invest in determining what customers don’t want. That way, brands can best deliver products and services that are most relevant to their target audience. So how would you go about figuring out what consumers don’t want?

The Power of Curiosity in Marketers
I read a great article recently, entitled “5 Must-Have Skills for Modern CMOs,” which stated that CMOs should be relentlessly curious. I tell my young daughters often that they should stay curious and keep asking questions, and I believe this concept definitely holds true for marketers as well. So whether you are a brand manager, a business owner, or an agency executive or creative, maintaining a healthy level of curiosity is imperative to being successful in your marketing endeavors.

The Best Approach to Social Causes Advertising
Raising awareness about prescription drug abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, teenage drinking, and other types of social issues is the first step in changing people’s negative behavior. Advertising – a proven awareness-building technique – is being utilized increasingly to help social causes make a drastic impact on society. However, before you execute a social marketing campaign that’s designed to modify individuals’ actions in order to benefit society as a whole, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

My Best Piece of Career Advice: Listen
I remember a marketing intern asking me once, “What is one thing that I should be doing to learn as much as possible while I’m here?” My answer was simple, “Eavesdrop.” Of course, I was kidding – at least partially kidding.

7 Unique Ways Your Business Can Use Social Media
Last week I had a terrible experience with a cable television service. They didn’t show up for the installation appointment, and were unable to set up a new appointment when I called to reschedule. So like any curious marketer would do, I tweeted about it just to see what kind of response I would get. The response I got surprised me.

Why Marketing Is So Difficult
Many of my friends and family members say that Esparza’s work is “magical.” What I mean by this is they think our creative ideas and advertising campaigns just appear by magic. We simply wave a wand and beautiful and strategic work just comes to life. If only it were that simple.

My Best Piece of Career Advice: Listen
I remember a marketing intern asking me once, “What is one thing that I should be doing to learn as much as possible while I’m here?” My answer was simple, “Eavesdrop.” Of course, I was kidding – at least partially kidding.

It’s Also Important to Know What Customers Don’t Want
Agencies and clients spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out what their current and prospective customers want. However, it’s just as important to invest in determining what customers don’t want. That way, brands can best deliver products and services that are most relevant to their target audience. So how would you go about figuring out what consumers don’t want?

What Do Great Marketing Campaigns Have In Common?
Over the past year at our agency, we have had the pleasure of working with some amazing clients and brands. The marketing campaigns we created included: prescription drug abuse prevention, image-building for a public utility, driving demand for naloxone, home healthcare, credit unions, a crisis hotline, college savings plans, health insurance, and more. Each of these brands required that we develop a customized marketing program. That is the beauty of working for an agency — no day is ever the same.

What Is Your Brand’s 'One Thing'?
If you had to pick one thing for your brand to be known for, what would it be? You can’t say quality, customer service, or value. Those terms don’t mean anything to the consumer, because those are the basic expectations of any business. However, discovering this one thing is imperative if you want to differentiate yourself from the competition — especially if your brand is in a commoditized industry.

Six Critical Steps in Marketing in Highly Regulated Industries
Due to the intense rules and regulations associated with marketing in certain industries (financial, health care, energy, and others), it can be difficult to develop campaigns that allow brands to distinguish themselves from the competition. That said, there are principles that brands can implement to ensure their marketing planning process is strategic and communication tactics are differentiating and will ultimately drive business.

Inherent Skills to Find in Your Next Marketing Hire
As a veteran marketing agency executive, I set fairly high standards for new hires. As the leader of the account management and strategy department at Esparza, I work hard to ensure my team is equipped to handle day-to-day client activities as well as strategic planning tasks.

Start-Ups: Don't Forget About Marketing
Establishing the three marketing foundations listed above is crucial to starting and running a successful business. Most owners probably don’t have the time and/or expertise to strategically develop each of these items. This is why it’s necessary for start-ups to hire a marketing consultant (or internal director) or marketing firm during the early business-planning stages.

Four Critical Aspects of a Successful Client/Agency Relationship
Over the last 18 years of being a marketing professional (mainly on the agency side), I have experienced some amazing working relationships with clients. Not only did these great interactions build the clients’ businesses, but they also made the agencies better. A client/agency relationship is like a marriage in that each individual party flourishes when the connection between the two parties is healthy and strong.

Marketing: 'It's Not About You'
We have a few mantras at our marketing firm. One in particular seems to come up over and over again with our clients: “It’s not about us. It’s about them.” We say this to remind everyone that our advertising efforts and other marketing tactics are designed to resonate with our target and it doesn’t matter if we like the ideas or not. I’m sure you’ve encountered situations like these before.

7 Unique Ways Your Business Can Use Social Media
Last week I had a terrible experience with a cable television service. They didn’t show up for the installation appointment, and were unable to set up a new appointment when I called to reschedule. So like any curious marketer would do, I tweeted about it just to see what kind of response I would get. The response I got surprised me.

Brands Shouldn’t Only Bring Their 'A' Game to the Big Game
With the recent buzz around Super Bowl ads, a few questions came to mind. “Why do these advertisers only put forth their best efforts for this one-time event? What is it that makes these efforts their best? Why aren’t they working this hard to create great marketing all of the time?”

The Power of Curiosity in Marketers
I read a great article recently, entitled “5 Must-Have Skills for Modern CMOs,” which stated that CMOs should be relentlessly curious. I tell my young daughters often that they should stay curious and keep asking questions, and I believe this concept definitely holds true for marketers as well. So whether you are a brand manager, a business owner, or an agency executive or creative, maintaining a healthy level of curiosity is imperative to being successful in your marketing endeavors.

Why Experiential Marketing?
Experiential marketing initiatives can be designed by B2C or B2B brands to meet a variety of business objectives. Generating awareness (or sales, or leads), recruiting new talent, engaging with customers, launching a product or company, showing appreciation to shareholders or staff, creating content for social media, and/or getting press coverage are just some of the successful outcomes physical brand experiences can produce for your organization.

The Four Fs in Resolving Brand Mistakes
Since brands (and businesses) are composed of imperfect people, brands occasionally make mistakes. Good brands don’t make a lot of mistakes. Great brands recover quickly from the mistakes they do make. Whether a brand instigates a life-threatening problem (think poisoned Tylenol) or brings you the wrong dinner order, the resolution process should include four main principles.

Would You Marry Someone Based on an RFP Process?
Our agency recently responded to a lengthy request for proposal (RFP). Of course, this wasn’t the first time we answered an RFP, but it got me thinking (once again) how strange this process for finding an agency is. For a brand or business, choosing the right marketing partner is an important decision and leaving it up to a written Q & A process (with little to no contact with the prospect) and possibly one presentation is risky. Would you marry someone with whom you just had a written conversation and one date?

Which Comes First...?
I recently attended a Warc webinar entitled, “What can we learn from the world's smartest campaigns?” The presenter said something that particularly caught my attention, something along the lines of, “Channel thinking must be ‘baked in’ to creative strategy.” This is a belief I’ve held for a long time and have always been confused by the fact that clients often split their media buying and creative services between agencies. I never understood how a smart media plan could come together without having an understanding of the creative message, nor how great creative could be developed without the insights of a savvy media planner.

The A to Z List of Skills for Young Marketers
I currently work with a lot of smart people and have been blessed with having worked with many intelligent people throughout my career. I’ve learned a lot about marketing, about business, about life, and about myself from bosses and support staff alike (and continue to do so). At McKee Wallwork & Company — like any professional services business — we strive to attract the best and brightest talent, which is not always easy to do in a small market like Albuquerque.

What Clients Really Mean When They Say...
Clients and agencies don’t always see eye-to-eye. This isn’t news. Client businesses are very different from agency businesses, so sometimes the two entities don’t always connect because they misunderstand each other. There are three things that clients (or prospects) often say to agencies that drive us crazy.

Advertising Q&A with a Creative Director and a Strategist
For this month’s article, I thought it would be interesting to interview a friend and long-time advertising creative director about the state of the industry. I then thought that it might be fun to compare his answers to mine, so below you will find my 10 questions and each of our answers.

Start-Ups: Don't Forget About Marketing
Establishing the three marketing foundations listed above is crucial to starting and running a successful business. Most owners probably don’t have the time and/or expertise to strategically develop each of these items. This is why it’s often necessary for start-ups to hire a marketing consultant, internal director, or outside firm during the early business-planning stages.

Don't Let Your Brand Get Fat
As human beings, many of us struggle with managing our weight and are constantly hearing about how terrible it is to “get fat”. A recent experience with a close family member that is losing a weight battle and is suffering serious health issues because of it got me thinking about how important it is to stay in shape. I hate to admit this, but that train of thought led me to then consider how brands also need to stay fit and not get fat.

7 Unique Ways Your Business Can Use Social Media
Last week I had a terrible experience with a cable television service. They didn’t show up for the installation appointment, and were unable to set up a new appointment when I called to reschedule. So like any curious marketer would do, I tweeted about it just to see what kind of response I would get. The response I got surprised me.

The Credentials of a Great Marketer
There is a running joke among marketers that just about every single person we encounter claims they’ve had a marketing job at some point in their life. If they sold classified ads for the college paper, or were in pharmaceutical sales, or helped their brother promote his lawn-mowing business, they think they know how to do our job.

'Marketing Would Be Easier If...'
Admit it. Marketing is tough these days. Consumers have more access to information than ever before. Media channel and tactical options are infinite. Digital tracking and advertising data are exploding. It’s quite overwhelming to put together a smart short-term marketing plan, much less keep it consistent and optimized over the long haul.

Five Personal Fouls of Marketing
Recently, a couple of different people asked me what the biggest marketing mistake they could make was. What a great question! In my many years of consulting and providing marketing advice to clients, an answer didn’t come to mind immediately as I hadn’t been asked that question so blatantly. After some additional consideration, I decided that my definition of a severe marketing mistake is one that can permanently damage your brand and/or put a company out of business.

Start-Ups: Don't Forget About Marketing
I recently started my own marketing strategy consulting company and one of the first things I did was visit a reputable organization that advises start-ups. I also read as many online articles about starting a business as possible. I met with several people who had started their own businesses and asked them to share their most salient advice. The information I received was hugely beneficial and I’m grateful for all of it.

A New Way to Structure the Marketing Department
What if companies organized their marketing efforts around goals instead of tasks? This would allow each team (or even individuals) within the department to work toward a common purpose that is truly measurable. Tasks are often measured by completion of the work, not what actually happens in the marketplace. On the other hand, goals articulate what is necessary to be successful with customers. So when they are reached, goals offer a stronger feeling of accomplishment.

How to Choose Between Marketing Tactics
My lengthy marketing firm experience coupled with my recent move to the corporate side tells me that many CMOs and Directors of Marketing find it difficult to decide which tactics are best suited for their brands. With all of the various channels and available media categories, it’s often difficult to choose without worrying about missed opportunities.

A Walk on the Client Side
I spent the last 16+ years at a few marketing firms (most recently over eight years at one agency) and am in the midst of the fourth week at my new job on the “client side.” I thought some may find it interesting to read about my most noteworthy observations following this career change, so here goes.

Make the Customer Life Cycle Work for Your Brand: Part 2
By deliberately considering each stage of the customer life cycle — Attract, Convert, Retain and Engage — you can create more effective interactions between your brand and the customer. So, there is no need to dig out those old marketing textbooks from college for a quick refresher course. You can simply print these two articles.

Make the Customer Life Cycle Work for Your Brand: Part 1
Do you remember learning about the Customer Life Cycle in your college marketing classes? Well if you haven’t thought about it since then, you might want to refresh your memory. At our firm, we utilize a streamlined version of the customer life cycle to architect our clients’ long-term marketing plans. The phases in our version include: Attract, Convert, Retain, and Engage.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Marketing
I have been in the marketing industry for 16+ years now and the original reasons I got into this business are the same reasons that keep me fascinated to this day. Marketing/advertising is an exciting business — especially today, with the way things are rapidly changing and progressing. But let’s be honest. This business can also be very stressful and difficult — especially today, with the way things are rapidly changing and progressing.

What Is Your Brand's Excuse for Not Using Social Media?
Today, social media is becoming an important way of doing business and isn’t just a sideshow or one-off marketing tactic. Keep in mind that social media can also be used by brands to enhance sales and lead generation processes, handle customer service inquiries, perform market research, monitor competitive activity, improve human resources efforts, manage investor relations, and boost internal collaboration and communication.

Internal Dynamics Affect External Communications
If your company is like most, it’s probably not “peaches and cream” around the office every day. In fact, research recently done by my firm, McKee Wallwork & Company, indicates that 59% of companies are experiencing some internal discord. As a CMO or Marketing Director, you may complain about internal problems like infighting or the lack of clear direction from the management team.

The Qualities of a Great Boss
Somebody asked me recently who my favorite boss was and why. I thought it was a great question and it, quite frankly, made my head spin. Not spin because I couldn’t name one, but spin because I could name a few. As I considered why these few supervisors were so great, I realized that I appreciated each of them for different reasons. I believe that my understanding and recognition of their strengths as leaders will only make me a better boss. Allow me to explain.

The A to Z List of Skills for Young Marketers
I currently work with a lot of smart people and have been blessed with having worked with many intelligent people throughout my career. I’ve learned a lot about marketing, about business, about life, and about myself from bosses and support staff alike (and continue to do so). At McKee Wallwork & Company — like any professional services business — we strive to attract the best and brightest talent, which is not always easy to do in a small market like Albuquerque.

'It's Not About You'
We have a few mantras at our marketing firm. One in particular seems to come up over and over again with our clients: “It’s not about us. It’s about them.” We say this to remind everyone that our advertising efforts and other marketing tactics are designed to resonate with our target and it doesn’t matter if we like the ideas or not. I’m sure you’ve encountered situations like these before.

Marketing Department Woes
Last month, I wrote about the “Marketing Jungle” and how brands suffer from the failure to effectively integrate the wide variety of tactics and channels in today’s crazy marketing landscape. Beyond this struggle with external customer-facing communications, my experience indicates that CMOs are also finding it difficult to create and manage a productive internal team. As more companies take some or all marketing services in-house, these departments are getting larger and therefore more difficult to run.

The Marketing Jungle
Over the years in our work with hundreds of companies across a variety of industries, we’ve seen one obstacle surface repeatedly and more often lately. We call it the “Marketing Jungle,” and it signifies that while attempting to create integrated marketing programs, companies are trying (often unsuccessfully) to gain control over and integrate a variety of disparate marketing channels.

How Brands Can Court Their Customers
At its core, the idea behind marketing is about brands building warm, loving relationships with customers. There are brands that customers actually love (I mean obsessively love) and that’s because brands like The Ritz Carlton, Starbucks, Zappos, and Chipotle show genuine love for and to their customers.

Marketing is More Than a Department
As a marketer (yes, I’m biased) I find it odd that marketing executives are often not listed in the leadership sections of company websites. CEOs, CFOs, COOs, HR heads, and even IT leaders are highlighted, but the CMOs are nowhere to be found. I find this to be completely ridiculous!

How Hair Stylists Are Like Ad Agencies
During a recent visit to a new hair salon and stylist, the thought occurred to me that my relationship with my hair stylist is not unlike client relationships with ad agencies. This was the third stylist I’ve been to in seven years, and after some thought I realized that I “broke up” with the first two stylists for very similar reasons.

'True Integrated Marketing' Explained
In today’s world of marketing and advertising, there seems to be some confusion around the term “integration.” Most news outlets and trade publications are reporting that agencies (large and small) are working to find ways to merge their online and offline capabilities to better serve their clients’ needs.

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