17 September

7 Key Lessons in Digital Project Management

7 Key Lessons in Digital Project Management

Amanda Eichmann

By: Amanda Eichmann – Bayshore Solutions Project Management Team

In my last post I wrote about how project management goes well beyond executing project tasks. Since then, I have celebrated over a year on Bayshore Solutions’ Project Management team executing tasks, building partnerships and everything in between. What I’ve learned the most is that you never stop learning and are always adapting with each new partner and website. Below are seven lessons I’ve learned and how we and our partners can learn from them moving forward.

1. Don’t Forget Your Target Audience

It’s easy to get lost in all the details, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to not forget about your audience. Your website should be designed in such a way that a customer or potential customer can get to the information they are looking for quickly and make it clear and easy for them to act. Consider the top three reasons they are on your website and the top three actions you want them to take and don’t lose sight of them. It should be equally clear for people to leave feedback and get in touch with you in such a way that they will get a response within a business day.

2. Don’t Lose Sight of Your Business Goals

Going hand-in-hand with lesson #1, it’s important to remember your website is a marketing tool in your overall marketing plan and to not lose focus on the big picture. When considering the necessary elements of your site, ensure they are aligned with your key marketing objectives and plan. This includes identifying your key performance indicators early and planning your website around how to best achieve and maximize your ROI.

3. Ask the Right Questions

As I previously wrote about envisioning together, a key activity in the process is asking the right questions. At Bayshore Solutions, we use an Account Profile to help guide the conversation with you as we review these questions. As important as it is to ask the right questions, it’s equally important to keep asking and keep an open dialogue. We may have the knowledge and experience to ask most of the questions, however, you know your business best, so it’s important that both of us understand the complexities we need to consider and plan for.

4. Remember There Will Be Discoveries

As we continue to ask questions and learn from one another, know this process will open our eyes to many business messaging, processes and opportunities moving forward. No matter how much planning we do, you can’t avoid discoveries and it’s easy to get lost in larger plans and ideas than what was originally discussed and scoped. Be prepared to be flexible, focus and prioritize together.

5. Don’t Default to Custom Development

If you have a clear idea of specific functionality or a tool to use on your site, first consider if there is already an existing tool you can use and save on hours of custom development. Saving the time will not only help your budget, but also help avoid excessive maintenance in the future. Many content management systems have enough out-of-the-box technology to accomplish more than you think. Do some research first and ask yourself, do you really need a custom registration tool- or can you use an existing service like Eventbrite first and take feedback/data to better plan from there?

6. Know When to Get Stakeholder Buy-in

Since your website is an essential tool in your overall marketing plan, there will most likely be key stakeholders who want to ensure the website is aligned with the overall business strategy and plan throughout the process. While it may not be necessary to have them sign-off on every detail, it’s important that they are involved in the key milestones and the project doesn’t get too far without their buy-in. The wireframe process may not be the best time, but once the design is applied to the layout, it may be a good time to get sign-off before beginning the build.

7. Appreciate the Process

Although it may sound good to cut some corners for the sake of time and budget, there is a method to all the madness. Having a process in place is vital for the checks and balances of the website. There are key players including: designer, marketer, front-end/UI/UX developer, back-end programmers and IT who bring their expertise and checklists to cover all the bases. Each perspective is unique and important to review and consider before a website is officially launched.

If you are interested in learning and growing together, partner with Bayshore Solutions and grow with us today!
What are some important lessons you’ve learned while planning and executing website development? Please share in the comments below!

Amanda Eichmann is on the Project Management at Bayshore Solutions—a Web Design, Web Development, and Digital Marketing Company.

11 September

Content Marketing World Day 3: The Next Era & House of Cards

Content Marketing World Day 3: The Next Era & House of Cards

Tommy Puglia

By: Tommy Puglia – Bayshore Solutions Digital Marketing Manager

I hope everyone has been able to soak in the last 2 days of Content Marketing World (Blog posts for Day 1 here and Day 2 here). Today is the final day for Content Marketing World’s events, and we were honored to have Kevin Spacey, one of this generation’s best actors, end with the final keynote.

Now before I go on to the meat of today’s talks, you may be asking, why Kevin Spacey, at a Content Marketing Conference? When has he ever worked in this field? Well, I thought the same! But 2 prevalent subjects rise when you think a little more:

  1. The rise of and popularity of House of Cards on Netflix has given rise to unprecedented content online. This is the first show to really perform that is not on a Television Network.
  2. As Mr. Spacey said, we are connected by our main goal: To connect with our audience.

More on the man later, so while I have you here, let’s get on to the key points from the main sessions:

Breaking Down Barriers

Shane Snow kicked off the first session with the art of storytelling and the next level of content marketing. This continues a theme you might have seen on the last 2 posts:

Content marketing is MUCH MORE than copy writing.

This concept is going to be ingrained in everybody reading this before I get back to Florida – sound good? Good.

What goes into great content, be it a blog, video, or article? You must have excellent, planned, and honest storytelling. The way you shape, form, and manifest your contact to others is going to have profound effects on the reaction and engagement you receive from it. Who does the storytelling for your brand? Heck, would you even consider your content storytelling? Great content captures people’s emotion and causes us to care about the content. Great stories build relationships. Great content can break down walls to foster a sense of compassion and care.

Why? Humans are programmed for stories. We are also programmed to cut out the fluff, and truthfully, we only are attracted to the content (story) we can relate with. Whoever is telling your story, make sure the story is resonating with your audience. Not only that, but we need to make sure that our content is true. We are built to discern, and any content or story that is not or does not seem believable, is not going to build any sense of care.

“Face Melting” Content Marketing

We had a special treat, with Jason Miller of LinkedIn speaking to us about true content creation that delivers real results. This goes to the theme of storytelling, but Jason claims Content has one job: to Empathize with customers. Stop making mass produced content, and start creating more relevant content instead. Build that empathy!

Not sure what to make of it? Here are 3 steps for good content:

  1. On-Demand Content: Sense what your customers want, and give them what they want!
  2. Solution Content: Understand what your customers problems are, and provide relevant solutions.
    When I say understand your customer’s problems, not only do I mean the very problem, but think deeper of what they feel with that particular problem.
    What kind of frustration does that problem cause?
    Create that story first before claiming to have the answer.
  3. Transcendent Content. Henry Ford said it best: “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse!”. This is the Steve Jobs area, of giving people what they really want before they know they want it.

Ok, I hear you: “Tommy, but someone has already done my idea!”. Then here is the more basic reply: DO IT BETTER. Make it unique for your brand, your company. Hard Truth: from Cleveland with love.

You also need to think about the content you create as something you can build on, but also as a structure for ongoing content. Let’s call this the “Big Rock”. This is a foundation, and you can create and repurpose multiple pieces of content from this one rock.

3 easy ways to build that rock:

  1. Create the all-encompassing guide to whatever you want to own as your own. (The problems to solve)
  2. Having trouble thinking of the big idea? Write 5 relevant blogs of one topic, and then slap it together!
  3. Flip your case studies on their heads – turn the low hanging funnel content straight to the top.

From this, repurpose your content. We gave the Big Rock analogy, now think of the content as Thanksgiving turkey…. Stay with me.

How many meals of turkey do you have after Turkey Day? Turkey soup, turkey slices, turkey sandwiches… We know how to re-purpose, so let’s do it with our content. There are so many ways to re-purpose and redistribute the Big Rock to make turkey slices (according to Jason, this is EXACTLY how they talk at LinkedIN).

The Next Era of Marketing

Robert Rose, one of the co-founders of Content Marketing Institute, provided an unique spin on the research CMI has been doing and their belief on the next generation of how marketers are defined in their Jobs. Since the 90′s, we have been in the well-known “Relationship Era” of marketing: trying to get likes, engagement, replies – reaching out to people in a way never thought possible for brands and for companies. Not only on websites, but curating content for their most intimate devices; their phones, their reading materials. Instead of Brands being associated with company, Brands have been able to enhance user’s daily life without an actual product.

This is now leading us into the so-called 7th era of marketing – The “Era of Experience”. The buyer’s journey is no longer a guided tour by brands. We spoke about this on Day 2 with Andrew Davis – users have so many materials, apps, and resources as their disposal to make decisions.

For a local restaurant 15 years ago, having a coupon was enough to have a postive influence. Now? The experience online of finding a good pizza joint means everything in a customer’s moment of purchase. What about reviews? What about easy to find directions? This is all part of the user’s journey now, and many things sound out of our control, but really all we need to do is provide the best experience possible during a customer’s journey when they encounter our brand.

I feel like I’ve been in a coma for about twenty years. And I’m just now waking up.

And finally, we end with Kevin Spacey, one of the most famous actors of our time. Acclaimed actor of such movies like American Beauty and Usual Suspects, and currently for the Netflix original House of Cards.

I want to end this blog series with Kevin Spacey’s 3 main parts of any great story – we have talked over and over again throughout this conference about the human element to marketing… And we are speaking of digital marketing still!

At Bayshore Solutions, we are embracing this, and understanding that this is a journey for everyone involved. The time that we NEED to be the most human is now in the digital age, through artful, honest, and captivating storytelling. Through meeting people’s moment of inspirations, to what inspires them, causes emotion to stir, and help create their own identity.

All Digital content, from Twitter to Blogs, are done by real people on the other end. And for every person posting, blogging, and sharing, there is an intention of trying to tell their story, to help become who they are, and even still manifest their own identity. And the worst thing we as the storytellers, brands, and companies can do is treat people as pure numbers at the end of the funnel. We must tell the story first, we must create inspiration and understand their need for identity first. Again, the heart of marketing is our customers.

You the company or you the brand, what is your end goal? It is to provide to your customers. Be that a product or a service, this cannot be left out of your story.

Tommy Puglia, Digital Marketer at Bayshore Solutions
@puglia24thomas

Kevin Spacey’s 3 Elements of Story:

  1. Conflict:
    Every Story needs Tension
  2. Authenticity:
    Build Loyalty by Embracing the Truth
  3. We are Nothing without our Audience

Content Marketing World Conference Keynote-Kevin Spacey

Tommy Puglia is on the Digital Marketing Team at Bayshore Solutions—a Web Design, Web Development, and Digital Marketing Company.

10 September

Content Marketing World – Day 2 Insights

Day 2 Insights - Content Marketing World

Tommy Puglia

By: Tommy Puglia – Bayshore Solutions Digital Marketing Manager

More Insights from Content Marketing World Conference 2014: Got Drewed, Kraft’s Content Model, and Look Before You Leap

Hello again from Cleveland! Today is the 2nd day in our 4-day series of Bayshore Solutions’ reporting from Content Marketing World 2014 (see day #1 recap here). Today was absolutely packed with some of the leaders in the industry. We got to see the full audience: 2,500 in attendance in fact!

One Theme though: Mind. Blown.

Funnel That!

Andrew M. Davis kicked off the day’s keynote with a kick in the gut for most marketers: The “Marketing Funnel” we know and love: the standard approach to how marketing is thought of… Do you know when it was created? 1950s?

How about 1898.

This begs the question: Why on earth are we using a model that is over 100 years old to channel most of our marketing efforts? Especially in the age of digital, there is nothing close to a linear approach to a customer’s journey.

Most funnels start off with some sort of “Awareness” for a Brand, but this is completely off the target. It starts with Inspiration to buy, or really to act. Nothing even close to a brand or a product at this point. Andrew encouraged us to become M.O.I. (Masters of Inspiration), and he gave the example of the true Masters of MOI: Disney.

When 101 Dalmatians was released in movie theaters, there is a direct correlation with the amount of adoptions of Dalmatians as the result of the movie. Not only in buying Dalmatians, but adoption stores taking them back (because apparently they are not the best pet, and they don’t talk!).

When Disney released Finding Nemo into theaters, this created something known as the Nemo Effect. Basically, the rise of clownfish in stores was so large that there was an actual crisis off-shore of people importing clownfish to the states illegally.

Now these two examples show what direct inspiration can do, but think a little wider: What else do you need when you buy a fish? A tank, fish food, filters, etc.  Same thing with a dog. The markets of demand for the indirect product rose just as dramatically as the main source of inspiration.

Your product or service has an initial moment of inspiration, and it could come from a movie, a TV show, a magazine, or even a blog. It doesn’t even need to reference your brand or even industry, but still can cause this ripple effect across your company.

And that is the job of content marketing – creating the content that will inspire the users. This means we must know the users and what we can do to inspire them.

C. Williams of Williams-Sonoma said it best: “We don’t sell the drill bit or the drill, we sell the hole”.

As Andrew said after his keynote: You’ve Been Drewed!

Move Fast and Break Things

How do you think Kraft creates all of their recipes, their videos, and their content? Do you think it is just mass produced focusing on their products and brand? Or would you be a tad surprised that every piece of content starts with mass amounts of data that is drilled down into highly-segmented audiences in order to curate content for specific users, all of the time? If you picked B, you are correct! Kraft’s model is precisely to mine data, create content, and go back to the data to see the results. For them, data drives ALL of their content creation.

It wasn’t always so for Kraft. When they mass produced their catalog, it was one of the most read/bought magazines, but they had no way to prove any value (sales) to it. So Kraft went to the white board (literally), and brainstormed, “What is the world we want to be in?” From there, they realized that in order to create the best content for users, they need to have the customer data.

Main Takeaway points: All content and all efforts should be focused on ROI by the following:

  • Increase in Spend-Driven Decisions by our Content
  • Increase in Brand Metrics like Purchase Intent
  • Increase in Engagement Rates
  • Value of First Party Data
  • Value of in-house Research Tools
  • Increase in Ads Effectives Off-Platform

And finally – “We [Kraft] wouldn’t have gotten to where we are without rethinking where we were”.DataMining-Kraft

The Heart of Marketing

I have a book I am purchasing for my plane ride back from Cleveland, by Kristina Halvorsen on Content Strategy. By far one of the smartest and innovated marketers I have met on this trip so far.

As much as we hate this word, it is so prevalent in client meetings, management meetings, sales meetings, production meetings, emails, and so forth:

Strategy.

But too much of the time, we probably do not have a firm grasp on what it looks like, but just that we really do need one.

Strategy should, in its essence, guide planning for creation.

This is true in content creation and content strategy – and every piece (really, EVERY piece) of content should be able to answer these questions:

  • What
  • Why (Do we need this?)
  • How (No really, how is this getting done?)
  • When (is our Deadline, and what needs to be pushed back?)
  • Where (If content goes everywhere, it disappears)
  • Who (is it for?) If content is for everyone, it is for no one.

So what does the “Strategy” in content strategy look like, and how does it show itself? It is all about the structure in being able to focus. Strategy helps us FOCUS on what to prioritize and what to say no too. If your strategy is to increase global readers and become an industry leader (Who isn’t?); If that is your Strategy statement, then every piece of content sounds like a good idea (Mr. CEO, you should really start to Vine!). But a good content strategy has a FOCUS, and measurable outlook, so you can easily choose the right pieces of content you need, and making sure every step of the way that any content you produce aligns with your strategy.

Which brings us to the heart of marketing. If our strategy is focused on pure sales and what we want, we lose the focus. The heart of marketing is our customer: customers ultimately do not want our product as much as they want our attention. Look at Apple yesterday – their success from the Mouse to now, the Apple Watch, goes back to what is best for the user and what is the best experience for the user – not what is the best sales margin for the company. And I think their margin is doing just fine.

Tomorrow should bring more the same! Feel free reach out to me (especially if you are in the Cleveland area this week) on Twitter at @puglia24thomas. Now, what food is Cleveland known for?

Tommy Puglia is on the Digital Marketing Team at Bayshore Solutions—a Web Design, Web Development, and Digital Marketing Company.

10 September

What is (& Isn’t) Content

What is (& Isn't) Content

Tommy Puglia

By: Tommy Puglia – Bayshore Solutions Digital Marketing Manager

Insights from Content Marketing World Conference Day 1: Cleveland Rocks!

Hello from sunny Cleveland! And much better weather than Tampa this week!

This week is the Global Content Marketing World Conference, which I will be covering all week through Thursday. Each day we will bringing you a summary of some of the awesome “content” shared here, and can’t wait to bring it back to Florida!  There are innovations in Content Marketing, and the value it brings to you and your customers.

But first, I think it’s important to clarify what Content is… and what it is not. If you are looking at or putting a budget into online marketing, I am sure “Content” has come up. It is a buzz word in the current digital marketing landscape.

Just take a look at the increase in demand/interest in content marketing over the last few years:

Content Demand Graph

Demand for Content 2005-2013

Pretty big leap, right? I am sure one person or another has been pushing content on you, but let’s get one thing clear:

Content Marketing is NOT Content Writing.

Yes, writing for content is an aspect of content marketing, but by no means the end-all.

Content is substance. Content Marketing is giving substance to your Brand.

We will explore more of this in the coming days, but keep in mind that fact throughout these recaps this week. And with this, let’s get right away to the first workshop of the day, a half-day exploration of the elements of content marketing and some of the “Secret Sauce” by Andrew Davis:

What Do we Sell?

Content is more than just writing content for the sake of content. You must answer some basic questions, or your content will never move the needle. You need focus. And you need brand content that is more aligned to business objectives than random content. It is very hard at a brand level to make a large impact. If your goal is to double the sales of a particular product, then don’t start creating random content around the product. Instead, think of your content as the product. So:

Who are you selling too?

Define the goal, and then answer these questions:

  • Who will you inspire
  • What is the niche audience you are looking to grow?
    • Create a statement that describes the demographics, the persona, you are looking to grow and market to, and let that focus dictate your content ideas.
  • How will you increase the sales of that audience, those people, with what content?
  • What do they want?
    • This means dividing and sub-dividing your audience until you create you a niche of who you want to go after.

Key Point: If you want to increase revenue, get out of the commodity content business, and treat content like a product!

What Budget Line Is Content?

The Marketing budget is not getting bigger for more things (Do Paid Ads! Do Social! Do Off-line Mail! Do On-Line Mail!, etc.). It’s just getting sliced more and more ways. As I said, content is so much more than the effort of writing. What does content influence? Demand. What does demand do? Increase the market size.

Think about your current market share. Instead of thinking “How can we increase our market share?”, why not think “How can we increase market demand? If you increase demand in your market, even if your share stays the same, that is an increase in revenue… Instead of asking for more slices in the pie, ask for a bigger pie.

Key Point: If you want to increase awareness, buy ads; If you want to increase demand, create content.

Where Does Content Fit?

We need to stop looking at our content as the center of the universe. Drew gave a great example of the old-world view of the universe vs. the new. (Basically, Ptolemy vs. Galileo.) More often than not, we think that our website is the center for our customer’s universe of content consumption. Not every piece of content you create needs to be implemented on your site for the sake of being there. Again, it needs to have a focus. Content doesn’t need to be for a website initially.

Instead of content marketing focusing on bringing people to the website, go where the audience is. Think about the customer journey, and their “Moment of Inspiration” before they purchase. A great example: Needing a new car. When does that moment come up? Usually when their car dies, or is dying, or even when seeing a friend’s new car.

From there, usually most content marketing is focused on the next step, the “Trigger” of beginning to make a decision. But what if we can be a part of the “Moment of Inspiration” for a customer? How can your content impact or be the moment of Inspiration? What are your customers’ or your leads’ moments of inspiration?

The Content Branding Ingredients.

Like any good meal, you must have the right mix of ingredients. We spoke about this content branding, but what do you need?

  • A Title:
    Think about your favorite YouTube/Blogs/Email subscriptions. The title is what identifies the pieces of content, and usually there are weekly specials they distribute, and you probably can’t wait to read, too
  • The Hook:
    The same thing that got you to subscribe, the hook, is the piece that caught your attention in the first place.
  • A Repeatable Format:
    You need structure! The format of the content should stay the same, but content can change to that format.
  • A Concept with “Legs”:
    When a TV Studio pitches a new great new idea for a show, they need to prove that the format/title/idea can be used multiple times in different ways. Think about long-running shows like Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, etc.
  • Clearly Defined Audience:
    Who is your audience again? And what is their empathy statement?

Key Point: Turn Marketing Expense into an Asset. Create Content Worth Owning.

Again, this is just the beginning of what should be an awesome conference. If you have any questions about the above “Content”, please reach out to us at Bayshore Solutions!

Content Marketing World COnference

Tommy Puglia is on the Digital Marketing Team at Bayshore Solutions—a Web Design, Web Development, and Digital Marketing Company.

3 September

This Old Website – Remodeling Your Aging Website

This Old Website - Remodeling Your Aging Website

Fred Wootten

By: Fred Wootten – Bayshore Solutions Development Team

Much like remodeling a home, when it comes time to update an aging website you’ll want to follow some easy steps to avoid turning your remodel into a nightmare!

Evaluate – As time passes your website needs may change. Consider how well your current website meets your present and future needs. Is it too small? too large? Awkwardly arranged? Is it time for a makeover or a start over? What is the purpose of the remodel?

You may find that your current site has all the features you need and just needs to be given some “curb appeal”. Your current site may have features that would be difficult or time-consuming to recreate. You may even be able to reuse existing code to avoid unneeded expense. Enlist the help of others to help you recognize the advantages and disadvantage of your current website before you proceed.

Get Inspired – Much in the same way you might visit homes in your area to get ideas. Search the web for similar business sites as well as other types of businesses to see what others are doing. Create a list of websites you like and of features you would like to include in your new website.

Choose Your Team – Find good help. Selecting the right team of project managers, web developers and website designers to provide the skills needed to realize your dream is crucial. A site remodel can be a long and stressful process, you will want to partner with someone you trust and feel comfortable with to minimize this stress. A company’s years of experience, positive references, and industry accolades are all things to consider.

Prioritize – Which of your wish list items can you do without? Which are “must haves”? Write down your priorities. If your budget doesn’t support your entire wish list, you will want to be sure you still get the top things on your list accomplished. Consider how important each item is to the overall functionality of your site. The little things can add up.

Working with your web development team you can determine which features will fit within your budget and which dreams may have to be set aside.

Expect Changes – Your team of web developers and website designers will help you make a plan and set your expectations before you begin. While a detailed plan can eliminate surprises, changes to your plan as you progress in a project are inevitable. Communicating effectively with your development team during the development process is crucial for a successful project.

Much like a home, a well-built, well-maintained website can last for a long time.  A website remodeling project can be most efficiently accomplished by preparing ahead and approaching a web developer with a clear idea of your requirements. This will ensure that the project is completed properly and at the lowest possible cost with the least amount of stress.

Contact the professional website redesign team at Bayshore Solutions to learn  more about how we can revitalize your web presence.

Fred Wootten is a Senior Programmer at Bayshore Solutions—a Web Design, Web Development, and Digital Marketing Agency.

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