Articles Written by the Edge Marketing Team


by Jennifer Marsnik

Not long ago, core business activities like advertising, public relations and marketing content creation were silos within an organization. But today’s communication channels lend themselves to a more integrated approach.

The PESO model is a communications strategy that combines four categories of media: paid, earned, shared and owned.

Integrated programs use a variety of communication assets and channels in all four PESO categories. Together they work toward building brand awareness, creating audience engagement and establishing credibility to achieve marketing and public relations goals and objectives.

PESO media types are essentially what their individual names imply:

  • Paid media encompasses traditional and modern channels including print, radio and television ads, sponsorships, native advertising placements and display ads or sponsored content on social media platforms. It may include nominal investments for sponsored tweets or significant spend on Super Bowl commercials. Paid media options are available today to reach nearly any audience with an array of messages and fitting almost any size budget.
  • Earned media is publicity gained on its merits, such as placements of bylined thought leadership articles, brand mentions and in-depth coverage generated by press releases or story pitches and source quotes in editorial content. Today, outreach to secure this coverage isn’t limited to journalists, but by pitching bloggers and other influencers who reach your core audiences. Earned media requires time and patience, but the credibility it builds can be invaluable.
  • Shared media occurs when paid, earned or owned media is distributed to a wider audience. This occurs directly, by sharing it via website, blog, social media, emails or even things like traditional mailers. It also occurs when others share that content or media asset, an outcome with both benefits and risks. Having others organically share your content puts it in front of more eyes and provides a strong endorsement for your message. The risk is the loss of control over who shares that message or any subsequent comments they might make about it.
  • Owned media is content that resides on your website, blog or other platform and is generally useful to your audience. This may include informative blog posts, white papers, e-books, webinars, podcasts, videos and other content. Assets like a company LinkedIn or Twitter profile may be considered owned media. As the creator or curator and owner of the content, you control its message or the narrative you want told.

While the PESO acronym is useful to remember the four media types, they aren’t necessarily employed in that order; in fact, the reverse order is more common. Owned content assets are often created to serve as the foundation for a holistic PR and marketing program. Then, as part of an integrated campaign, shared media can be used to distribute that content, earned media to validate it and paid media to amplify it.

It is where these four media intersect that we achieve things like SEO, lead generation and a community of advocates and partners to help promote your brand and key messages.

Want to learn more? Contact Edge Marketing to see how a PESO approach can work for you.

About the Author

With Edge Marketing since 2007, Jennifer Marsnik specializes in helping clients develop and implement strategic plans that support their overall business goals.

She lives in the Twin Cities area with her husband and two daughters, and enjoys golf and cheering on the Twins, Vikings, and U of M Gophers.


by Cindy Kremer Moen

As she was getting ready to return to the office, one of my friends recently said, “It’s time for me to put my hard clothes on.” With the return of many in-person conferences and trade shows, many of us are digging out our “hard” clothes – not to mention our uncomfortable shoes – and getting ready to shake hands and network and socialize with colleagues, clients and prospects.

The lack of industry events has been difficult for companies targeting other businesses. Leads dried up and forced companies to be more innovative with their techniques for developing new prospects. We all realized how important it was to connect face to face with the people we target. With the return of in-person events, we can once again realize the power that spontaneous conversations, sharing a meal or meeting on the convention floor has in our business development efforts.

As you are developing your plans for trade shows and conferences, it is a good idea to remind your sales team of some simple booth etiquette guidelines that will help them – and your company – make the best possible first impression with new prospects.

  • Only bring to the booth the items necessary to get through your day. Booths almost always have limited storage, so leave briefcases, coats, large bags, etc., in your hotel room.
  • Do not eat in your booth. Step out when someone is covering the booth and eat elsewhere. There’s really nothing worse than greeting a prospect with a mouth full of food.
  • Keep to just drinking water in the booth. When you’re not sipping, cover your bottle and put it out of sight. If you’re in need of other beverages, step out of the booth to consume them.
  • If you need to accept a phone call while you are scheduled in the booth, excuse yourself from the booth, if possible, to take the call. Only accept business calls during exhibit hall hours if the exhibit hall is quieter and you don’t have attendees waiting to talk.
  • Bring mints and discreetly consume them as needed.
  • Avoid browsing and scrolling through your phone. Phones should be in pockets or in your storage area while you are in the booth.
  • Dress to the dress code of the conference and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Appreciate that people have different comfort levels with social distancing. Decide on your level of comfort with handshakes or hugs, and monitor the body language of those you are meeting to assess their level of comfort with these activities.

It should go without saying, but I’ll mention it anyway: If you are showing signs of illness, do yourself and everyone at your conference a favor and stay away from the exhibit hall floor.

With a little practice and breaking in, the “hard” clothes soon won’t feel so difficult to put on, and the shoes will become more comfortable. Remember these basic booth etiquette pointers and your company will be in a great place to make the first few in-person events enormously successful.

DID YOU KNOW?

According to Statista, the largest U.S. trade show is the Consumer Electronics Show, topping out at 2,930,421 square feet of exhibition space (2019). As a comparison, AICPA ENGAGE in June will have 89,295 square feet of exhibit space and ILTACON in August will have 178,787 square feet!

About the Author

Cindy Kremer Moen has helped Edge Marketing clients with strategies and tactics to meet their goals since 2006. She and her husband have two college-aged sons and recently relocated to fulfill a lifelong dream of living near the shores of Lake Superior.


by Tanya Amyote

Diversity and inclusion are more than buzzwords in today’s climate of “wokeness” and “cancel culture.” They are meaningful and moving targets. They are actionable terms to describe an ideal and attainable goal. They are the very building blocks of a healthy business with happy employees serving satisfied clients.

A review of your organization’s internal demographic data can yield insight into your employees’ gender identity, age, race and any intersectionality of all of the above. That concrete data can shed light on the diversity – or lack thereof – within the organization. It can also bring about awareness of positive adjustments to hiring and advancement practices, such as blind assessment tools to battle unconscious biases and additional training for those in positions of power or decision-making. It can also point to a lack of diversity in specific departments or organizational levels.

What that concrete demographic data cannot tell you, though, is the degree to which your organization is actively nurturing a sense of inclusion among the members of each demographic segment and intersection.

According to Stanford University researchers, three key aspects of inclusion in the workplace are:

Objectivity:
Do your employees feel that your firm’s policies, practices and promotions are fair, transparent, and universally applied?

Growth Mindset:
Do your employees feel that they are given opportunities to grow, evolve and increase their own value within your organization? Is their growth supported through mentoring and professional development or education?

Belonging:
Do your employees feel safe, respected and free to be their authentic selves in the workplace?

How can you as a business owner ensure that your organization is fostering a culture of inclusivity? Here are three ideas to consider:

Anonymous surveys:
A surefire way to check the pulse of your organization’s climate is through anonymous surveys. Your team is much more likely to share their true feelings if you foster a culture of openness, honesty and collaboration. Throw in the option to remain anonymous and you’ll quickly get a baseline for how your firm is doing with regard to employee satisfaction, retention and the potential for attrition.

Mindful scheduling:
The Law Society of Ontario canceled the March solicitor exams due to a potential leak of test materials. This led to the exams being rescheduled during the month of Ramadan, observed by practicing Muslims through strict sunrise-to-sunset fasting, prayer, reflection and community. The situation highlights the complexities of scheduling in a multicultural society.

Another aspect to keep in mind is location, location, location: That team retreat sounds like a fantastic opportunity but, if the meeting room can only be accessed via a flight of stairs, it could pose a problem for anyone with respiratory, cardiac or mobility issues.

Employee resource groups (ERGs):
According to Business Insider, HR-sanctioned groups can be formed based on any number of criteria including common demographics, life stage or even job function. These groups can provide opportunities such as top-down and bottom-up mentoring. For example, Rajesh with 25 years of experience in sales could provide mentoring to newcomer Taylor who, in turn, offers social media or SEO guidance to Rajesh.

ERGs offer opportunities for employees with shared identities or life experiences to communicate and collaborate, leading to increased effectiveness and productivity.

An ERG can work to raise awareness of its members’ shared experiences, through acting as a resource for colleagues within the organization as a whole or in working with the firm’s leadership team to influence recruiting and hiring practices.

As firms allocate more time and resources to diversity and inclusion initiatives in 2022, it’s crucial to remember that your employees are not just boxes to tick on a list of quotas.

In the words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”

About the Author

Tanya Amyote joined the Edge team in December 2016 as marketing assistant, Excel guru, and token Canadian.

As a person with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), Tanya is an outspoken advocate for diversity, inclusion and accessibility.


Tips for a successful post-event strategy

by Vicki LaBrosse

You made it! Another successful event is in the books! All that careful preparation, creative promotion and your professionalism during the event itself have paid off. The works is done, but not so fast . . .

What happens after the event is an important part of the overall event program, so don’t save your post-event planning for the last minute. Start preparing early so that you can begin executing your strategy immediately after the event is over. Every post-event communication plan will be unique depending on your goals, but there are certain elements every successful post-event strategy should include. You can mix and match and supplement these with your company’s standard after-event procedures.

Here are some ways to keep the momentum going after an event:

Send a thank-you email

Thanking attendees who took time out of their busy schedules to come to the event is a must. It’s also a great reason to connect with them again. You will be surprised how far the small gesture of sending a simple thank-you email goes.

Make a post-event page

Having a post-event page on your website allows guests to revisit the experience and those who were not able to attend to see what they missed. You can simply edit and add to the landing page you already created prior to the event. Include speakers, sessions, award winners, entertainment, event stats, social media buzz and, of course, lots of pictures and videos.

Have your sales team follow up

If your event’s goal was to drive sales or customer engagement, have your sales team to reach out after the event via email or phone to potential clients. If you’re nurturing leads after a trade show or event, keep in the mind that prospects might have forgotten they stopped by your booth, so make sure your team doesn’t go straight into the sales pitch. Instead reach out with a relevant piece of content that provides helpful, non-salesy information.

Ask for feedback

Send a post-event survey to your guests and ask for feedback on the event: what worked, what didn’t, what their favorite part was, etc. Their responses will help shape your next event, hopefully making it even better. It’s not always easy to get prospects to fill out a survey, so it may help to incentivize it by offering a free product sample or trial, discount code or entry in a drawing to win a prize.

Invite them to the next event

If you have another event coming up that’s similar to the one they already attended, extend an invitation to them to continue the conversation at the next event. This is a great opportunity to build off of the buzz from this latest event and get prospects excited for your next one.

The best part of the post-event communication is that through your follow-ups, you’ll start to see which prospects are the most engaged and which ones you should prioritize your time for in that next step – whether it’s to book a meeting or invite them to a future event. Hopefully, the experience leaves you with new insights, a better understanding of what works, more knowledge about your attendees and great ideas about what to do next.

About the Author

Vicki LaBrosse, director of global public relations for Edge Marketing, has more than 18 years of marketing and communications experience in both the legal and accounting industries. LaBrosse works with clients to develop and execute comprehensive PR and marketing strategies that will help grow their business.


by Nicolle Martin

Many companies, especially small and midsize companies, need marketing support but don’t know exactly what to get. Often, they will hire a marketing coordinator, thinking that person can come in and make a difference. The problem is that a person in a coordinator-level position most likely doesn’t have the experience necessary to provide strategy and planning. Instead, that person becomes a glorified assistant doing reactive work.

A fractional CMO is an outsourced marketing executive that can perform all the functions of a chief marketing officer, including strategy, planning and implementation, without a company having to commit to a long-term, full-time salary. These professionals have in-depth marketing experience and can assess your organization, deliver a full marketing plan and budget, as well as help with the day-to-day implementation. If you have a team in place, a fractional CMO can provide direction and oversight for the work they are doing to make sure it fits the overall goals and plan objectives that have been put in place and agreed upon by the senior managers.

Here are a few things to consider when looking at fractional CMO candidates:

  • What is their experience level? You want to make sure you find a professional that has the right experience to be effective as a fractional CMO. What roles have they had in the past? What differences did they make for the companies they worked for? You can interview these professionals just like you would someone you are bringing on full-time.
  • Have they worked in your industry? Having someone with experience to your specific industry or a similar industry is very important. They can bring with them relationships to editors, bloggers and other thought leaders in the field. Also, they understand what is important for your company to participate in and what is not. We all know there are a ton of awards and other recognitions out there – some are legit, others are less so. Someone who is familiar with the industry will be able to provide proper guidance.
  • Are they a fit for your company? If you have a marketing team, make sure they have experience managing and giving direction to a team. If you don’t have a team, make sure they have the resources available to them to get the work they are putting in their strategic plan completed. Do an interview. Make sure their personalities and ideas are a fit for the team you have in place.
  • What do you want to accomplish by hiring a fractional CMO? Know what you are trying to accomplish by hiring a fractional CMO. Are you looking for someone to come in on a contract basis to help with strategy and goal setting, or are you in the market for a full-time CMO, but need someone in the interim to fill the gap? Having this conversation upfront will help ensure whatever path you are on is successful.

 And when you decide hiring a fractional CMO is the right move for your organization, make sure you provide the resources and information needed for this person to be successful. Remember, your fractional CMO is coming into your organization as an expert in marketing but will need to learn your company and your resources. The more available you are, the more success you will see from the relationship. Bottom line – a fractional CMO is a great option for companies looking for a professional that can advise on strategy, budget and goals and objectives, all while helping with the implementation and details around accomplishing those goals.

About the Author

Nicolle Martin is a senior account manager for Edge Marketing. She has more than 20 years of experience doing public relations and marketing in the legal and accounting industries.

Nicolle and her husband have two teenaged daughters and a dog, Jax, who is treated like a human member of the family.


by Mary Obregon

Creating or upgrading a website is hard work. The main goal is to get as many eyes on the site as possible. Over the years the internet has become overloaded, so what is the best way to make sure a website stands out from the rest? Are there specific measures that can be taken to put your site on top?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a website’s content for the purposes of increasing its ranking and visibility for users surfing the web. When you rank higher in search engines, it is more likely that a user will choose to visit your site over lower-ranking options.

When creating or upgrading a website, here are five SEO best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Always Keep Your Audience Top of Mind

It is critical to keep the audience in mind at all times. The main goal is to make the website suitable to their needs. It’s all about creating a clear, straightforward website that your customers can understand and navigate seamlessly. The more user-friendly a website is, the lower the number of users who land on your homepage and exit without triggering another request (bounce rate). Ensuring that your website doesn’t frustrate or confuse your audience is the most important step in website formulation.

  1. Speedy Site

The faster a person can obtain the information needed, the better. If your website is slow, your bounce rate is likely to increase. To get the instant gratification we’ve all come to expect online, a speedy website is a must. The quicker and more convenient the flow of your site is, the more likely the consumer is to remain on your website and click through to other pages within it. The higher the site speed, the higher the ranking within a search engine. There are many options available for checking your site’s speed, but one recommended option is Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

  1. Improve Your Internal Linking Structure

It’s always a good idea to make it simple for search engines to crawl your site and determine which articles are the most important, since this will assist your users in finding what they’re looking for. To aid the process, strengthening your internal linking structure is a no-brainer. Ensure that your most important articles have the greatest number of internal links pointing to them. To avoid orphaned content, don’t forget to include links to your most current postings. It’s critical to make sure that links are relevant to the context of an article; otherwise, neither the search engine nor the user will understand them.

  1. One H1 Heading Per Post or Page

Within website creation platforms, page headings are often ranked. Headings make it easier for your readers to skim the text and figure out how it all fits together. Search engines also try to decipher the structure of your text by “reading” headings. Instead of reading the standard text on your website as your audience does, search engines go to the HTML version of your site and read the HTML heading tags. Headings are also beneficial in making your content more accessible to all. Your readers and Google may become confused if there are several H1 headings. As a result, if there is no clear delineation between main and subtopics, customers might decide to leave your website.

  1. Add Alt Text to Images

Alt text is a bit of information that describes what is depicted in an image. Not only will adding alt text to your images make your website more accessible to all users; it will also improve your SEO ranking. Alt text gives search engine crawlers context for what a picture is showing, helping them to properly index the image, making it more searchable, enhancing its SEO. If you don’t use alt text for photos, your website will be difficult to interpret for screen readers and browsers, resulting in a poor user experience for anyone who is visually impaired. Make sure that all of your website’s photos include alt text so that visitors and search engines can more easily access and understand your content.

Final Thoughts

The information outlined here will serve as a great starting point for taking charge of your search engine rankings; however, staying on top is a long-term process. Taking the initiative to improve your SEO ranking is already a step in the right direction. It’s a challenge to get to the top of Google’s search results, but consistent effort will help get you there!

About the Author

Mary Obregon joined the Edge team in September 2020, amid the pandemic, in order to gain experience in the field by any means. Mary is now HubSpot certified, Yoast certified and Google Analytics certified! When not working, Mary is most likely spending time with friends, family or her boyfriend.


by Megan Miller

Live events and in-person networking took a back seat in the marketing mix for many companies during 2021. The pivot caused many to shift resources back into digital marketing, including webinars, virtual social events, social media, and the workhorse – email marketing.

Email remains at the core of business marketing strategies, with 89% of marketers saying email marketing is their primary strategy. Email marketing makes money. For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $36. That’s a higher return than you can expect from any other form of marketing — digital or otherwise.

Do you know the ROI on your email investment in 2021? Chances are, you don’t know, or you do know, and see some room for improvement in 2022. Pay attention to the basics for success in email marketing, and be aware of some elements that are changing and could impact your results. Here are some steps you can take now to achieve better results from email marketing in the coming year.

Quality, not quantity: Use an Opt-in Approach

Don’t send emails to people who did not opt in to receive email from you. Buying email lists or sending to non-opt-in contacts builds a lower value list, and risks data privacy law violations. Building an opt-in list of prospects who have real interest, and with whom you can build a relationship, is the only way to achieve sustainable list growth for email marketing. By building an opt-in list, you’ll get better open and click-through rates, realize greater ROI from campaigns, and avoid being blacklisted as a spam sender.

Segment and Focus

As you build a contact list in a CRM system over time, continue to refine the profile of each contact. Most CRM programs can track lead source and engagement, tagging a contact with dates and details of their interaction with each campaign – opens, clicks, downloads and other activity.  Careful management of segmentation details allows you to conduct more targeted campaigns over time. Tracking an original source code will help identify where higher quality leads and clients originally found your firm.

Keep Messages Short and Targeted

Using the segmentation data in your CRM system, you can pull a list of prospects who fit a profile and have shown interest in a particular solution or subject. For example, a managed services provider might offer a new service to all contacts with corporate legal titles who have shown interest in your Microsoft 365 white paper. A provider of automated payments software might target accounting firms of 20 or more accountants who also use QuickBooks. Careful targeting might pull a smaller, but higher quality list of people who will appreciate your message and be more likely to engage.

Message content should be short, with the attention grabbing questions in the opening lines. Don’t make the reader guess why you’re emailing.  Use your customer knowledge to focus the message on their needs and valuable content you offer.  It’s about the customer, it’s not about you.

Be Mobile friendly

Surprisingly, 58% of mobile device users check email first thing each morning, compared to 14% who check social media first. Yet many business emails are not designed for proper rendering on a mobile device.

Use tools that support responsive design. Responsive emails adjust their format, style, font, margin, and size based on the screen a person uses. Test your email on multiple device types and browsers prior to sending, to catch any quality issues.

The way an email displays could affect customers’ perception of your business. Overlooking mobile design – particularly if you are a tech, software or services provider – can leave a poor impression that works against your brand.

Use Unique Links

To track and segment contact activity as described above, use unique URLs in marketing emails. Many email platforms can create these automatically. The unique URL returns details about the actions a particular contact takes when they view your email. Did they click through to the white paper, read the article, or hit the Contact button? With unique links, the reader’s activity will be captured in your CRM system, adding more value to future targeting efforts.

Encourage Engagement

Reader engagement, and your appropriate response, are key to growing a community of followers and interested individuals. Interactive emails include elements that users can manipulate without having to visit another page and leave their inbox. Interactive content might include:

  • Survey data or maps that readers can interact with
  • Carousels of images users can swipe
  • Videos users can view

Be sure to share social media links in every email. When you create a social media promotion, share the same news with email subscribers to make sure they see it and can engage.

Test and Measure

It’s important to A/B test both subject lines to calls to action (CTAs). The results will tell you what topics, terms, phrases and offers hold the greatest appeal for readers. Test one element (subject, offer, etc.) at a time, with as large a sample size as possible.

Measure the success of each email campaign, and capture results over the course of each quarter or year. Over time the metrics will help identify the hot topics of interest, the most popular offers, and the issues your readers find most engaging.

About the Author

Megan Miller is a senior consultant with Edge Marketing, assisting clients in development and execution of strategic marketing plans and implementation of marketing technologies. A global technology hound, Miller has built brands, trained teams and introduced successful products for global companies and startups. A certified eDiscovery expert, Miller has written on trends and topics in electronic discovery, consumer electronics and the internet of things – before the IoT was even a thing. Her work has appeared in Attorney at Law, US Tech, TechnoLawyer, ACEDS and other industry publications.


by Jennifer Marsnik

Whether your organization operates in the reality of lengthy sales cycles where you need to keep the process moving, or in more transactional, quicker sales requiring you to always stay top of mind among your target audience, ongoing outreach to prospective clients is a priority.

For many sales professionals, that outreach has traditionally come in the form of in-person connections. Effective sales executives often point to strong personal relationships as their keys to success; but, without handshakes and hugs, lunches and dinners, and other events to share face time with clients and prospects over the past year, sales teams have had to rely on virtual meetings and digital communications to stay connected with their target audiences.

We all were forced to adapt to new ways of working last year but pivoting from in-person events to more emails and Zoom calls hasn’t come easy to everyone. For people who rely on face-to-face connections for professional success, it’s been especially challenging, in some cases with unfortunate results.

In an article published recently by Law.com’s Legaltech News, Frank Ready reports an increase in what’s being described as “aggressive” and “demeaning” behavior being used by technology sales professionals over the past year. Sources quoted in the article point to infractions beyond an unwelcome volume of unsolicited email, but worse: Communications that are tone deaf and pressure-filled.

These are certainly not the words any business leader wants to think may be used to describe their team or their company.

What should you do if your communications aren’t hitting the right note with your target audiences? Here are a few places to start:

  1. Revisit your core messaging platform. Ensure the language used to describe your company’s purpose, value proposition, and competitive differentiators, is not only up to date, but still resonates with the people you’re trying to reach. Circulate the platform internally and encourage its consistent use for all communications.
  1. Reassess your buyer personas. What impact – temporary or permanent – did pandemic-forced changes have on your target audiences? Are your buyers the same people? Have their job responsibilities, their pain points, or their priorities changed? Update your messaging and the channels used to reach them to reflect any significant changes they’ve experienced that might impact their decision-making process.
  1. Validate contact lists and respect the wishes of any who have requested to opt-out of marketing emails by updating their preferences accordingly. It’s not worth risking a disgruntled email recipient who may report noncompliant outreach practices.
  1. Reconnect sales and marketing. Even in organizations where these departments collaborate, working remotely may have caused a disconnect between the sales executives and the marketing team, whose job it is to drive communications, support them with events and activities that generate leads, help nurture prospects through the sales funnel, and assist with longer-term client satisfaction initiatives. Make sure they’re all still rowing the boat in the same direction.

Every team member has a role, each bringing different talents, so remember use them. Don’t assume your most highly skilled sales executives are also expert copywriters. Take advantage of your marketers who focus on strategy and positioning, as well as tactical concepts, choosing words carefully to ensure communications reflect the company’s key messages in the professional, respectful tone your target audiences expect and deserve.

Follow these tips to keep your teams working together and ensure your sales and marketing communications aren’t disregarded – or worse.

About the Author

With Edge Marketing since 2007, Jennifer Marsnik specializes in helping clients develop and implement strategic plans that support their overall business goals. She lives in the Twin Cities area with her husband and two daughters, and enjoys golf and cheering on the Twins, Vikings, and U of M Gophers.


by Cindy Kremer Moen

Relationships take work: Time, energy, and effort all go into the foundation of a great partnership, whether it is personal or professional. Whether you’re already in a relationship with a marketing agency or are considering “swiping right” on a new one, here are four proven ways to get the most out of your investment.


Commitment

How many weddings are planned on a first date? It’s nearly impossible to predict the outcome of a relationship the first time you meet, even if the person across from you checks all your boxes. For marketing, you should find an agency you want to stick with for the long-term.

To help you decide whether you’re ready to commit to one agency, do your due diligence:

  • Meet with the executives at the agency to better understand the company’s background, philosophy, successes, longevity, and experience within your industry.
  • Meet with the project manager who will be assigned to your account. You should mesh with this person since they will be your day-to-day contact.
  • Speak with the agency’s current and past clients.

When you feel you have found the right match, commit for the long-term. At Edge, we ask for a six-month minimum commitment from new clients. Our experience has taught us that six months is the sweet spot for companies to start seeing real, measurable results. The average length of an Edge/client relationship is 2.5 years, and the longest is twelve years and counting!


Trust
You did your due diligence during the “get to know you” stage of the relationship and selected the best agency for your needs. Do not second-guess that decision. You should trust that the professionals you hired are going to lead you toward your company’s goals.

Your agency has decades of experience and expertise in your market; prior to working with you, they have helped hundreds of clients to meet their goals. Remember why you hired them: They have a great team of experts and their track record proves that they can deliver results.


Communication
In a personal relationship, you don’t outsource communication with your partner to your friends and family. The same should be true with your marketing agency: Your agency should provide you with a single contact, usually your project manager, to whom you can always reach out with questions and communications. On your company’s side, select a single point of contact who can gather feedback from your organization when needed, and who has the authority to make financial decisions and final approvals on work product.

At Edge, we’ve found the most successful relationships are with a senior-level professional at our client’s firm, such as a director, vice president or c-level executive. Decisions can be made more efficiently, and results appear more quickly when we work with senior-level professionals.

Communications with your agency should occur as you might expect them in a personal relationship, too. Your agency should commit to reasonable response times to emails and phone calls, and regularly scheduled status calls will help you to feel confident your projects are moving forward.


Be all-in.
The best way to start any relationship is by being open and honest with each other, not holding back important details. I would be suspicious if a first date asked me to sign an NDA, but your marketing agency should include one as part of your contract. Your agency will not share details of your company with anyone else.

Start by sharing current and forecasted financial information, past and current sales performance, past marketing materials and experiences, and corporate goals. If your reputation has taken a recent hit, let the agency know. All this information is important for your agency to help you create a successful path forward.

At Edge, the relationships that have lasted the shortest length of time are the ones in which the firms’ executives held back important information, like leads were down to the point of crisis, owners wanted to find buyers for their companies, or their product was losing traction because it wasn’t keeping up with current technologies and best practices.

You will gain the best results from your agency when your partnership is built on openness and honesty.

At Edge, we feel so strongly about these pillars of a good relationship that new clients will find them in our proposals; and, while you do not need to send roses to your marketing agency (I actually prefer peonies), you do need to cultivate that relationship to get the best return out of your investment. Be all-in, communicate frequently, trust, and commit for the long-term to enjoy a long and fruitful partnership with your marketing agency.


About the Author

Cindy Kremer Moen has helped Edge Marketing clients with strategies and tactics to meet their goals since 2006. She and her husband have two college-age boys and are happy for the return of DII football, in-person education and travel without restrictions.


by Tanya Amyote

What portion of your social media audience, or web site visitors, consumes your content with the aid of assistive technologies such as screen readers, magnification tools or software, eye trackers, etc.?

The World Health Organization indicates 2.2 billion people worldwide have some form of vision impairment, including colorblindness, low vision, near vision, or blindness, and one in four people in the U.S. identify as having at least one disability.

According to DiverseAbility Magazine, the disposable income for U.S. adults with disabilities is $490 billion! It’s also interesting to note that studies have also shown that, when people with disabilities find vendors, products, or service providers who make accessibility a priority, they become more loyal clients and customers.

While we can’t pin down the portion of our audience that uses assistive tech to consume our digital content, a best practice in 2021 is to assume that our audience includes people with disabilities.

Making an effort to prioritize accessibility on your social media and web site also says a lot about your company, and your team’s values.

So, how do you ensure you’re creating social media posts and digital content that are accessible to all? Here are seven tips that you can start implementing today:

  1. Use alt text for images: Describe the image, including content and context. Be concise, but don’t skimp on detail. Think of alt text as a supplemental tweet of about a hundred characters, and you don’t need to include “Image of”, or “graphic of”. A caption or alt text that says, “Image of a chart,” is not nearly as helpful or clear as one that says, “A bar chart that illustrates the number of social media users in the past five years, with 3.9 billion in July 2020.”
  2. Include closed captioning on your videos or enable auto-generated ones.
  3. If you are posting an image that contains text, ensure that the text is also included in alt text or in the body of the post. Your logo may be the smartest, most visually appealing logo that ever was but, if you don’t also have your company name somewhere in plain text, someone using assistive tech may not be able to catch it!
  4. Don’t rely solely on font color to differentiate text or other elements:
    • On graphs and charts, avoid using solid colors to differentiate data; patterns and/or clarifying data labels are more easily discernible by people who are colorblind or who have other vision impairments.
    • Don’t rely on color to convey that hyperlinked text is clickable: Also use underlines or hover animations.
  5. Optimize hashtags. We all know the benefits of using hashtags on social media: They can bring your content to a more varied audience than your post alone. Here are a few things to consider when crafting your hashtags:
    • Write long hashtags in CamelCase: #careeropportunities will sound garbled and confusing to someone using a screen reader, but #CareerOpportunities will be read properly and will be more easily understood by the viewer as well.
    • Use hashtags as part of the text or add extra hashtags in a comment on your post. See below for an example.
    • Use a link shortener. It’s less annoying to hear a screen reader spell out 10 characters than 50!
    • Example:
  6. Do content audits periodically: Are you using inclusive language that is gender-neutral, and not ableist or ageist? What about the people in your stock photos? Do the images reflect your efforts to foster diversity and inclusion
  7. Emojis: Use them, but sparingly! Be mindful that someone viewing your post with its 10 emojis needs to sit through their screen reader rhyming off every single one!

Diversity and inclusion are not just buzz words in 2021: They are the difference between equity and bias, accommodation and prejudice. Ensuring accessibility is a priority when creating your digital content can mean the difference between offering someone a seat at the table or making them build their own.

About the Author

Tanya Amyote joined the Edge team in December 2016 as marketing assistant, Excel guru, and token Canadian. When not solving the world’s pivot table problems, Tanya is an avid reader and fountain pen user.

As a person with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease), Tanya is an outspoken advocate for diversity and inclusion, and accessibility.