Local Content, Towering Effects

Local Content, Towering Effects

The first forays into content marketing have been compared to building a solitary tower in a green field – they stood out and got noticed. But now that everyone and their mother has jumped on the content marketing bandwagon (justifiably so, considering its power to engage and motivate), the market has become saturated, and the outstanding towers are no longer so outstanding.

Creating a niche focus for your content marketing has never been more critical. But how?

    • Have “real” conversations. We live in an age when a click of the mouse can virtually send us to the other side of the world, but there is no substitute in local content marketing for regular face-to-face or (if personal visits aren’t feasible) frequent telephone conversations. We’re talking “live” exchanges here, not texts, emails or chat spaces, where words can be left off and picked up at will and there is no direct communion (notice the word “communion,” not simply communication) with staff, residents and the surrounding community.
    • Employ human resources. Whether you leverage the talents of a marketing team, hire a local reporter, assign a willing resident as “scoop,” or use a guest blogging strategy, real-live people are essential. Culling generic, third-party information from the web is impersonal and irrelevant to a local perspective. And your audience will know it.
    • Tailor your brand to your local audience. Senior living communities have an advantage here, as so many of their brands are anchored in their geographic locations. Leverage that to the fullest extent by including your city or neighborhood’s name in your URL; showcasing your surrounding community in your images, blogs, newsletters; dedicating a tab in your main menu to the local area.
    • Tailor an actionable blog to local readers. Identify the interests, needs and concerns of your local audience and create content that is packed with actionable information. One Chicagoland senior community with roots in Scandinavia has gained a sizable, faithful audience through a blog focused on topics of interest not only to residents and their families, but to those in the local area who share that heritage. Niche-y, narrow, very successful.
    • Incorporate local trends and hashtags into your social media. Stay on top of trends in your area (Twitter is the best medium for trending topics), and create content and hashtags specific to them. Join multiple platforms (you can recycle the same content on a variety of social media, provided it’s keenly targeted to those in your near vicinity). Be a regular, positive, helpful part of the conversations that ensue. This builds online relationships with great potential to develop into real connections.
    • Be the go-to source for offline activities, events and insights. Angie’s List has gained huge momentum (and revenues) by providing impressions from real, impartial people on a variety of nearby goods and services. What if your community could be a similarly unbiased resource for your immediate area? What new restaurant is worth the trip? Which activities in your area appeal to grandchildren? When is the best time to buy and plant local perennials? The possibilities in this realm are endless – and viral, considering the power of social media and search engine optimization (a topic we’ll explore in greater detail in the future).

Back to those towers in the field. Because there are so many, it’s hard to distinguish any one of them. Unless it’s right outside your door. The right marketing team can help you create and manage local content that sets you apart and truly stands out.

Ivy Marketing Group. Come Grow With Us.

Local Content Marketing Builds Far-Reaching Relationships

Local Content Marketing Builds Far-Reaching Relationships

While the advent of content marketing has opened innumerable doors to earning consumer attention, the glut in the market now requires strategies that go beyond simply producing content. Just having content is no longer unique, and if it’s not effective, it could be counterproductive.

Most marketers understand that content must be relevant to its target audiences. That almost goes without saying. But what is equally important, or perhaps more, is local relevance – ideally, within a five-mile radius. Locality feeds directly into one of the most essential tenets of content marketing: reaching the right audience with greater specificity, particularly in the age of “fake news” and dwindling local media coverage.

That said, procuring local content creates a few complications right off the bat, especially for marketers who rely on content curation or don’t have the human or other resources to get the local scoop. Back to the counterproductive content we mentioned above.

In a sobering article from the Harvard Business Review, writer Alexandra Samuel urges marketers to consider the effects of bad content (that which has no higher goal than culling personal information to make relentless attempts at a sale) on the environmental and social costs of business decisions. “We’ve got to look at companies that pollute the Internet…as an enemy of public health,” she writes. Samuel also acknowledges the importance of paying for quality content. Not in the form of digital ads (gasp!), but by underwriting qualified content creators.

“How can our marketing effort make the Internet better, instead of worse?” she asks. “Creating content that provides real value in terms of information or insight – rather than simply larding a page with search-friendly keywords – is one obvious starting point.” She speaks, too, of “personal responsibility” in creating content marketing.

Let that sink in. Consider how much personal responsibility applies to local content. Say you’re on a cruise overseas with people from all over the world, and someone comments on the banana muffins at breakfast that morning. You might respond that they’re a close second to the ones at your neighborhood bakery, to which your fellow cruiser (residing thousands of miles from you) might reply, “hmm,” or not at all. There’s no mutual connection, and as far as that person will ever know, your local baker’s muffins are fair to middlin’ at best.

Now, imagine you vouch for those wonderful muffins to someone who could sample one on their morning walk. How much more invested in your endorsement will you be, and how much more will it mean to people who can actually engage in the experience?

Added to the benefit of uber-specificity in local content is the opportunity for ownership of an area of expertise. If your community provides interesting, useful information about the environs outside your doors, as well as inside, your audience will come to trust and rely on you in the long run for bigger things (like providing quality living for mom and dad), and they will keep coming back. That’s the stuff of lasting relationships.

The multifaceted advantages inherent in providing stories, photos, tips, reviews, recommendations, developments, activities, outings, events, etc. germane to the local community are huge and should be not be shied from, despite the extra effort in getting local content.

Your marketing team can help you attain and create meaningful content that speaks to those nearby, enabling client-provider bonds with unlimited potential.

Ivy Marketing Group. Come Grow With Us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Writing Copy

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Writing Copy

Writing good copy is darn hard. For content marketers, the onus of producing quality material is particularly heavy, because it needs to be so much at once: compelling, targeted, moving, convincing, relevant, genuine, clear, concise, even clever and entertaining, depending on the topic.

If all those criteria aren’t daunting enough, content marketers must also be watchful, mindful and
careful – all the time. Launch a self-interested pitch, and consumers will smell it. Go light on your research, and you jeopardize credibility and relevance. Underwhelm with the bland, overwhelm with the bombastic, and your audience will be equally unimpressed.

Content marketers should think of creating material like using a level: only the most sensitive touch makes it just right. Because quality content marketing punctuates copy with plenty of examples, let’s explore good writing in the same way.

  • THE BASICS
    The Bad and Ugly: Mary’s mother liked her new community. Mary’s mother could not believe it’s affect on she and her family.
    No matter how compelling your subject, readers don’t have the time or patience to muddle through copy riddled with errors in grammar, spelling and syntax or lacking in brevity and clarity.
    The Good: Mary’s mother couldn’t be happier and more comfortable in her new senior community. She was both surprised and invigorated by its positive effect on her and her family.
  • RESEARCH
    The Bad and Ugly
    : Studies show that planned activities reduce stress among senior citizens.
    This sentence is fine, as long as it’s followed by quantifiable and qualifiable data, but many marketers leave it at that: vague and unsubstantiated.
    The Good: A 2016 survey of 1,000 senior citizens across the U.S. and conducted by the National Alliance for Octogenarians revealed that activities such as water aerobics, arts and crafts, and off-site outings lowered blood pressure by 68% in people aged 75 and older.
    (Note: this is not a real study or organization.)
  • CREDIBILITY
    The Bad and Ugly:
    Our new senior community will completely change your parent’s life – you must come visit us today to believe it!
    Your community may, in fact, be a life-changer for your residents, but such overreaching claims will immediately cast doubt on your trustworthiness and genuine concern for your prospects.
    The Good: We have taken great care to discover and satisfy our residents’ every need and desire, and we are always eager to learn how we can make life at (community name) ever more fulfilling for your loved one. We invite you to contact us about a personal visit.
  • RELEVANCE
    The Bad and Ugly:
    We are a community leveraging team work for optimum results.
    Huh? Despite being non-descript and flat, this is the kind of copy produced by content marketers time and again. It speaks to no one and almost shouts that it doesn’t know its audience, or perhaps even itself.
    The Good: Choosing a senior living community is one of the most momentous decisions you and your family will ever make. (Community name) understands that and is dedicated to providing our residents peace in the assurance of skilled, caring staff, comfort in luxurious living spaces and world-class amenities, and freedom to make new friends and explore new activities every day of the week.
  • EMOTIONAL IMPACT
    The Bad and Ugly:
    In 2014, the aquatic center was built. In 2016, a game room was added, and at a meeting later that year, the Board of Trustees voted on plans to construct an outdoor terrace.
    Dry as dust.
    The Good: Each day, our new pool and spa is filled with residents eager to take the plunge into better health and fitness. Our “Dave and Busters”-worthy game room entertains visiting grandchildren and leaves them excited to come back. Residents and their families are thrilled about the exquisite rooftop garden and terrace coming next spring, just in time for the magnolia blossoms.
    Psychologists confirm that people are led by their emotional brains, and perhaps more than any other industry, content marketing must take advantage of that.

Your marketing experts can help you find that “just right” touch, bearing in mind all the variables that make your copy not just good, but great.

Ivy Marketing Group. Come Grow With Us.

Granular Content Marketing: Nothing Could Be Finer

Granular Content Marketing: Nothing Could Be Finer

“Granularity” is a hot word in content marketing today. We all know what it means, right? (ahem, cough, cough). As salty and sandy as it may sound, granularity is simply breaking down larger, more general topics into narrower, more focused content. It’s zooming in on your individual target audience members…a little like Google Earth, where you start from way up and get closer and closer, until you can see the roof of your house. Nice analogy, but won’t that make my content less relevant to more people, you ask? The answer is yes. However (and this is a big “however”), granularity will significantly increase the value of each potential lead.

Say, for very silly example, someone downloads your white paper about the benefit to senior citizens of treading water in a pool while wrapping gifts in seaweed – Ecklonia Cava seaweed, to be exact. You can be fairly certain you’ve got a lead there, one who’s not merely browsing a few non-descript senior health tips. (Your community may also want to offer classes in aquatic seaweed gift wrapping!)

Granularity increases relevance; relevance increases engagement; and engagement increases conversion, according to marketing experts at Velocity Partners, Inc. With granular content, you’re not just targeting someone, you’re hitting them square on the nose, so to speak, where they’re much more likely to be moved by your content and act upon it.

Think of it like going to a party and telling guests you’re from Wisconsin. Someone says, “I’m from Wisconsin, too.” You’d probably ask where in Wisconsin they’re from. If they’re from Racine, as you are, the exchange becomes more personal. If you tell them you worked at the K-Mart on Green Bay Road, and they say that so did they, and later you find out they also know your sister, well, you may just have yourself a lunch date. That’s how granularity works. Engagement.

In addition to razor-sharp relevance, granularity provides infinitely fertile ground for content marketing developers. While content shock (the theory that online content has reached the saturation point) warns that “less is more,” that concern applies to general, top-of-the-funnel content. When content is broken down into more and more refined facets, each facet begets another, and so on. It’s impossible to saturate the market when you consider the endless possibilities of content within content.

Creating quality granular content can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s harder to produce, as it requires marketing strategies that allow keen insight into your audience as well as up-to-the-minute knowledge of news and changes in your industry. On the other hand, because it’s more difficult to produce, fewer are doing it, thus giving you a considerable advantage. The right marketing team can help you produce granular content that is not only well done, but very well received.

IVY Marketing. Come Grow With Us.

The Five W’s and One H of Content Intelligence

The Five W’s and One H of Content Intelligence

The dripping quill pen. The blank typewriter page. The blinking cursor. What to write? Throughout the ages, that question has confounded those commissioned with conveying a message. With bazillions of words and images churning out online every second across the globe, that is the question content marketing developers are faced with every day. “Content intelligence” is the answer they’re increasingly depending upon.

Content intelligence is the data-driven, conversion-focused process of analyzing audience consumption of existing content to guide and inform future content creation. With such insights, producing content is no longer a gamble for marketers across all the burgeoning media platforms. It is quantifiable and qualifiable knowledge of the effect your content is having on individuals in your target audience.

To better understand content intelligence, let’s parse it into the basics of any good story: who, what, why, where, when and how.

Who?
Marketers often mistake this question for how many? While traffic to your site is certainly important, numbers shouldn’t be your primary objective. Say 500 people visit your site in a day. That’s great, but how do you know what their intentions are? What are their buyer personas, demographics, behavior patterns, goals and motives? Who are they?

What?
What intrigues, inspires, educates, amuses, entertains, moves consumers of your content? Simply put, content intelligence is the microscope under which the essential, intangible things you don’t – but need to – know about your audience come into focus.

Why?
Almost instantaneously and in real time, content intelligence reveals topics and themes that resonate with your audience, strengths and gaps in your content, your position among your competitors, and other former unknowns. It can mean the difference between tossing something out there and hoping it sticks somewhere and trusting that your content is reaching, engaging and motivating visitors to your site.

Where?
Everywhere. Content intelligence is the vanguard of modern marketing, and it’s sure to grow ever more pervasive and sophisticated.

When?
There is no time like the present, especially if you haven’t already established a system of gaining insight into your audience. Think of the time, effort and money you’ll save knowing what content to offer and to whom!

How?
It’s complicated. Every question about how content intelligence works seems to beget another. In a nutshell, content intelligence breaks down and brings together automated data from several different practices, metrics and perspectives into one process.

Knowing the need for and benefits of content intelligence is only the first step in charting its deep and clarifying waters. How you acquire and use content intelligence depends upon several factors, among them the size and scope of your community, the amount of content you generate, the time and ability your team has to create and analyze its own content, and your budget. Do you need, can you afford expensive content intelligence software, or are free analytics offered by search engines like Google sufficient? Your marketing experts can help you navigate these factors and questions and offer the best content intelligence solution for your community.

IVY Marketing. Come Grow With Us.

Out With the Old, In With the True

Out With the Old, In With the True

The word “advertorial” is quickly becoming archaic in today’s marketing lexicon. Despite the advertorial’s resemblance to a feature with editorial substance, its first syllable betrays its true identity.

The decline of this kind of content can be attributed to the fact that marketers are increasingly embracing the value of relevant content to consumers, and consumers are increasingly disgruntled by not-so-thinly veiled sales pitches.

Successful marketing professionals understand that what people really want is useful content that means something to them personally and doesn’t obligate them to a purchase. Today’s content marketing is not about selling a product or service; it’s about engaging the community through ideas, information and experiences that are produced and published for free on owned media, such as a website or blog.

Content, or inbound, marketing builds relationships with your audience so that when consumers want or need something you can offer, you will already have gained their trust and you will be top on their list of providers.

So, what makes good content marketing? A simple rule of thumb is to imagine that whatever someone (you, for instance) would voluntarily read, watch or listen to, with no expectations but to be enlightened in some way, is fair game. Content marketing can entertain, inform, solve a problem, inspire, counsel, change minds, change lives…the sky’s the limit, as long as it’s genuinely rooted in a desire to add value to your audience. Period.

Format is important to consider when developing effective content as well. Assuming the essentials are in place (content is compelling, relevant, well-written, well-organized, and graphically appealing), is your content better as a blog post, white paper, e-book, newsletter, video, Facebook post, Twitter stream, photo, infographic? And is it grounded in the critical establishment of search engine optimization and keywords?

Keywords (e.g., “senior living”) should drive your overall content strategy, and the needs and interests of your audience (e.g., a fulfilling lifestyle for older adults) should anchor every user experience your content creates. Without getting too technical (let your marketing experts take care of that!), this process takes into account both what your audience is seeking and how search engines such as Google rank, or “think about,” keywords.

Another word to the wise: visuals are essential to all content. Keeping in mind that 10% of online visitors don’t scroll through articles at all, much less the whole way through, graphics bring life to your content and capture attention in a way that words alone cannot. Research shows that photos on Facebook generate 53% more likes than the average post, and photos on Twitter bring about a 55% increase in leads.

The right marketing team can help steer you from old practices cloaking sales pleas in “substance” into sincere content development that means something to your audience and keeps you in the forefront of their minds.

IVY Marketing. Come Grow With Us.

It’s addicting!  The fast-paced, ever changing world of public relations and marketing captures your interest and keeps you charged up to learn more everyday.  I love to find the best ways to tell our client’s stories and man, they have awesome stories!

It’s my job to discover our client’s goals and then match the best processes to achieve them, within their budgets, of course.  I get to explore traditional, digital and every manner of communication to determine which tactics, whether it is direct mail or TV advertising, a new website or PPC (to name just a few) will efficiently and effectively capture the attention of prospects. 

I also get to work with great people at IVY – they’re creative, fun, caring and super smart.  We’ve all been around the industry a while so there is not a novice among us.  Our clients are very cool too and totally passionate about the services they offer.  We’ve been working with most of them for years so we know they truly care about being innovative and responsible to the markets they service.  I have great admiration for all of them and look forward to every day. 

It’s true what “they” say, if you love what you do, you won’t work a day of your life!

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IVY was established in 1990 with a basic premise to offer professional, ethical and highly creative marketing, advertising and public relations services. We have successfully maintained our core values and have been part of many amazing projects, client growth and changes in the world of marketing that continue to happen at lightening speed. Most of our clients serve older adults in some capacity so we keep abreast of the opportunities and challenges they face.   Each day, we keep it real and fun and consistently deliver positive results to our clients and their markets.

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As a hybrid graphic and digital designer/web developer with over 17 years of experience, I am always on the lookout for innovative digital and print visual communications. IVY Marketing Group’s broad range of projects keeps my job challenging and rewarding, as each campaign is a new and exciting opportunity to effectively communicate our clients’ messages and help them achieve their goals. It’s my passion!

My body of work encompasses a diverse design style and wide base of clients, ranging from national associations, small businesses and big name brands like Hyatt and LiftMaster. I firmly believe that form follows function and highly value the communicative power of simplicity. 

Areas of professional expertise include Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Word Press, Responsive Design, CSS3, and HTML5. The industries I’ve served include senior living, health care, hospitality and finance.

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All my life, I have loved writing. As a child, I could often be found in my room “writing a book.” While “novelist” is not (yet) on my resume, I am a storyteller. I believe that everyone and everything has a great story, and it is my joy to find that story and share it with the world.

After earning my bachelor’s degree in journalism and completing my master’s studies in the same field, I joined a small advertising agency with powerhouse clients in the hospitality industry, such as Hyatt, Hilton International and Carnival Cruise Lines. I began as a proofreader and achieved the position of senior copy writer within a year.

After my first son was born, followed by two more, I started a freelance writing business that included (among several others) such clients as Advocate Health Care and Coldwell-Banker Realty. Clients in the education arena included DeVry University’s Becker CPA and Stalla CFA Reviews, DePaul University, and Naperville School District 203, for which I won two state public relations awards.

For nine years, I was employed as Communications Director for a large faith community, where I managed all aspects of internal and external communications. I was writer, editor, designer, web master, and content manager.

As such, I am experienced and comfortable writing multimedia for a broad variety of industries, products and services.

I joined IVY Marketing Group in 2013, when I began writing client press releases on a freelance basis. I loved the work—and my teammates—so much, I was thrilled when I was invited to come on board in a greater capacity.

I have immensely enjoyed getting to know our valued clients in the senior housing industry, the people they serve, and telling the many wonderful stories that come out of content marketing done right—with the love and care our IVY teams puts into everything we do.

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It all starts with one idea. Working with the Ivy creative team for over two decades has always meant taking one great idea and bringing it to life to help our clients meet their goals. We enjoy the challenges offered with every creative opportunity and try to make the design process itself enjoyable for our clients.

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Making certain that the projects IVY produces are word- and picture-perfect is my specialty. But I also love implementing marketing campaigns and programs that bring our clients success. Details are my thing, so it is a pleasure to have worked with IVY twice now, first after college four years ago and, recently, for the past two years.

The IVY Group is a terrific team of creative, positive and talented professionals that I love working with and, judging from the length of stay of our clients, I think they love our team, too!

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Rock-climbing, training for an 80-floor stair climb event, running a 5K…This is just a tiny peek into what people 20 and even 30 years older than I am, are doing on a fairly regular basis at some of the retirement communities that IVY represents.

I’m of the generation that still has reoccurring nightmares about what the next step looked like when my grandmother could no longer live by herself. The very best option at that time was living at a “facility” and  included eating rubbery chicken and playing an occasional game of BINGO. Period. That’s why my parent’s generation begged us not to ever put them into “one of those places.”

I am so proud that IVY’s clients are at the very forefront of an industry that creates opportunities, challenges, and most of all freedom for seniors, allowing them to explore hobbies, interests, passions…the next chapter of their very full lives.

I feel reassured for my own future. Even more, I feel honored to be able to share the impactful stories about this paradigm shift in the world of senior housing. What we hear and see at our clients’ communities is fascinating and inspiring!

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Keeping up to date on new public relations strategies, online engagement tactics, and promotional tools is my passion.

With my hospitality background in marketing top Chicago restaurants and hotels, I was eager to bring fresh concepts and communication strategies to our clients and have really enjoyed learning various industries.

Our clients have such exciting and unique events and programs, which really makes it motivating for me to make the most of their content.  Results like increased sales leads, website visits and social media connections make everyday rewarding and interesting.

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I oversee, plan and implement projects and processes at IVY.  Often,  I am the conduit between our writers and designers, with printers, and other vendors to fulfill the marketing needs for our clients. I also manage media buys and coordinate production of advertisements.

Working for a flexible and fluid company that is constantly growing, changing and evolving is fun and rewarding. There is always something new to learn.

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My bio has a big blank in the beginning—Mom and Dad rescued me in Wisconsin, and no one really knows my origins. They were probably ruff. What matters though is where I am now, running IVY Marketing Group. There are humans here who think they’re in charge. In truth, they do actually have amazing experience in content marketing and public relations, but I’m super important and the center of attention. I mean, look at this face. Right? And I know I’m the top dog because honestly, I’m the only one allowed to sleep through staff meetings and eat things that people drop on the floor.

The fact is though that I truly love staying awake at staff meetings. Everyone talks and laughs and they’re always excited. That surprises me a little because it’s not like anyone has thrown a ball to play fetch or anything. But I guess what gets my pack of peoples’ tails wagging is their work and their clients. I don’t know what a website or a blog is, but I do know that my pack must be good at them because they’ve earned all sorts of awards for these and other things. My bed had to be moved because the framed certificates were taking up so much room. Despite the inconvenience, I’m proud of these awards!

I serve several important purposes at IVY. I always let Mom (and the world) know when the mailman is here. When people come into the office, just one (usually) quick non-invasive (usually) sniff, allows me to determine important characteristics…like if they had anything good for breakfast, own any pets (pet owners are the best!) or if they stepped in anything on the way in. (It’s sort of like me conducting a first job interview.) I generously share my tummy because I know people like to give it a good scratch. I always give kisses, whether one is feeling lonely or not. And I’m always happy to share someone’s meal, especially if they’re trying to lose weight. My pack describes me as being engaging, amusing, and entertaining. (When I hear a siren, I “sing” along and it makes them laugh.) NPR talks about the benefits of having a pet at the workplace. Studies show pets lower stress hormones and improve morale and productivity. I wholeheartedly agree that a dog in the workplace is the best thing since rawhide bones.

As for my pack of people at IVY…they are amazing and always make my tail wag!

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I could not be more thrilled to work alongside the IVY team.

For over 25 years, I have been employed in top executive positions across the Chicago area and have consistently built profitable businesses, generated sales, and developed and launched new product lines.

Strategically positioning companies and commodities for growth is a strong suit I’m eager to bring to ResponderHub™, IVY’s new crisis communications solution. I’m also excited to help expand IVY’s reach in the senior marketing industry.

I believe people are more open than ever to thinking outside the box and looking at new ways to reach their customer base, while at the same time reducing their cost of sale. The senior industry is exploding, and IVY is perfectly positioned to respond to the need for innovative, quality content marketing services and effective crisis communications.

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