Featured

“P-P-C . . . Easy as 1-2-3,” Learn Digital Marketing Strategy to the Oldies

No matter what your age, if you run a business you need to know basic digital marketing strategy. This includes you, boomers! It’s summer, time for a road trip playlist, so I’ve put on my deejay hat to spin you some tunes to listen to while you learn more about digital marketing strategy.

SEO

Face it: You Need Search Engine Optimization

Carly Simon waves a big caution flag for every brand manager who does not understand search engine optimization (SEO). I will tell it like it is, you may think you’re great, but if the search engines can’t find you, you’re treading water. Google and Bing are the biggest search engines. They use complicated algorithms to locate information when a consumer conducts a search. Thus, paying attention to SEO helps your business succeed.

As you learn digital marketing, you become familiar with ways to boost your ranking in the search engine results pages. The goal is to be on the first page of results. Making it to the first page requires a lot of work and know-how if you are in a highly competitive field. Even if you are just getting started with SEO, it makes sense to follow best practices going forward. Effective tactics for SEO include

  • Keyword strategy on your website
  • More video on your site
  • Strategic blogging
  • Current directory listings
Social Media Marketing

Reach Busy People with Social Media Marketing

When Alabama came out with “I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)” in 2007, did you think the band was telling us to slow down? If they were, no one listened. Thus, one-third of Americans get their news from Facebook, where they see 15-second ads. Worldwide, 48% of people use social media.

Because of Facebook’s algorithm, very few people will see your organic posts – those are not ads – they are PR. You need to buy ads on social media platforms for your content to be seen. That’s why we call it social media marketing, not social media PR.

Fun Facts About Facebook Ads

The number of Facebook advertisers increased by two million between 2018 and 2020. Source: Wordstream.

The average conversion rate for Facebook ads across industries is 9.21%.

Facebook offers excellent data for targeting your audience.

You can gather leads on Facebook forms or your own landing page.

Businesses get fast results with social media marketing because media buyers place the ads in front of the right people based on data obtained by Facebook. However, Apple made a big change to its iOS data collection in April. Data will not be collected from iPhone users who ask not to be tracked, but Facebook still has the data it collected before.

I participated in a Hootsuite webinar last week about social media trends so far this year. Hootsuite is one of the largest platforms for managing all your social media in one place. The company’s experts said to take advantage of the data Facebook does have on your prospects before it becomes outdated. The webinar had a ton of other great ideas. You can sign up and watch a recording.

Build Relationships with Video Marketing

In “Make You Feel My Love,” Bob Dylan sings about going all out to woo his love. In my opinion, the best way to woo your customers online is to make videos. You have a chance to be authentic, tell your story, and share a lot more emotion than a blog post. You may accomplish this by speaking on camera, having a staffer speak, testimonials, and videos produced with voiceover narration.

Videos shot on an iPhone are fine for everyday posts. Hire a professional for videos to show prominently on your website and in advertising. Check out the Hammock Marketing + Communications YouTube channel to see the videos we produce.

In addition to weaving videos into your website, add video to your email marketing to boost open rates; use video in your Google ads to increase conversions; and see an increase in customer loyalty with video marketing. Read more on the advantages of adopting an agressive video marketing plan.

Search Engine Marketing

“Don’t Stop Me Now” – Google Ads

You may belt out “Don’t Stop Me Now” after you see the results of your Google ads. Businesses using search engine ads, also known as pay-per-click or PPC, average an ROI of $2 for every $1 spent. This great ROI is largely due to better click-through-rates and higher conversions on listings with ads.

Google ads take the top four spots on a search engine results page. The rest of the page lists businesses without ads that rank for the keywords on that page. When you buy ads, you choose the keywords you want to rank for, bid on spots on the page, and watch the results.

Expect quick results with Google ads, as opposed to SEO, which is a long-term strategy.

“(Let the Good) Times Roll” – The Cars

Take Action Now

Music is more fun with friends. So is digital marketing. Contact me to learn more and get help implementing an effective strategy for fall and winter.

Featured

3 Best Reasons Why to Blog in 2021

How to Make it Worth Your Time

If you’re on the fence about investing your time in blogging, these reasons why to blog may help get you off the fence. Blogging attracts new leads, increases customer loyalty, and strengthens your reputation as a leader in your field. This is still true in today’s era of vlogging and podcasting. In fact, research by Databox found “68% of marketers find blogging is more effective than they did two years ago.”

Reason 1: Get More Website Traffic and Higher Rankings

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the top way to create a consistent flow of visitors to your site over the long haul and blog posts are perfect for improving your SEO. Blogging also influences how you show up on search engine results pages. That’s because Google and Bing favor websites with current content. Blogging also boosts your rankings and SEO because your keywords help the search engines know about your content.

Inbound marketing

Ensuring prospects find you is critical because inbound marketing has a 14.6% close rate compared to outbound marketing, which has a 1.7% close rate, according to optinmonster. . Inbound leads come in through searches while outbound tactics like direct mail and advertisements push content to consumers.

How do blog posts improve SEO? Each post includes keywords – the words or phrases for which you want to rank and be found. Before starting your post, think about questions people may ask about your products or services then test them on Google Trends.

My goal for this post is to draw attention to my blog writing services. On Google Trends, I learned the word “blog” is much more popular than “blogging,” and people near me don’t search for “blog writing services.” The keyword “why to blog” is pretty popular and more specific than “blog” so I went with that. You will see the phrase “why to blog” throughout the post. That’s for SEO.

Reason 2: Build Brand Loyalty

Another reason why to blog is to keep customers coming back to read your useful, memorable content. Consider this: 77% of internet users read blogs, according to optinmonster. Your blog is the perfect place to put your content. Make sure to drive to it with an email newsletter and social media posts.

Trust-building content requires a keen eye for stories and great writing. Potential post topics include

  • a customer who used your product in an amazing way as a lead-in to an overview of the product
  • your R&D team’s latest discovery
  • your business’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

Avoid content that will bore your reader or turn them off. Neal Schaffer has great advice on to dos and don’ts of blog content. He also advises everyone to take the time to write quality posts. Ideally, your posts will start conversations with your customers and prospects.

Reason 3: Boost Your Reputation

The third reason why to blog is to boost your reputation. Professional associates, prospective customers, and currrent customers all want to learn from you. While you can’t talk to everyone personally, you can share your knowledge online. Your reputation will be enhanced and so will your business’s.

When you write consistently and with authority, new leads will pour in and your profits will increase. You may receive invitations to speak at conferences and write articles for trade journals because organizers and editors saw your blog. The media also may find you online and request an interview.

Creative writing is key. Jithendar Dharmapuri, founder of TechLurn, told Forbes, “The trick is to combine both expertise and opinion. For example, my passion is blogging – I love creating written content. But my profession is an IT engineer.” Dharmapuri advises writing “engaging content that caters to your audience.”

Then Why Aren’t You Blogging?

Sure, you understand the reasons why to blog. But you’re busy. So busy. I get it. I’m a writer and I don’t blog as much as I want to. Tell me if you identify with these obstacles to blogging on top of no time.

  • Don’t know what to write about
  • Don’t think you’re a good writer
  • Hate to write
  • You never read blog posts
  • Tried it and it didn’t help my business

I understand your pain. Relax, because for every problem there are multiple solutions. Can someone on your team write for you or your business? Optinmonster says 64% of B2B marketers outsource their blog writing. Have you considered doing that? If you decide hiring a freelancer is best for you, give me a call. Your initial consultation is free of charge.

Compete in Today’s Hot Job Market with Smart Recruitment Marketing

Give your recruitment marketing extra attention as the economy picks up steam because you have competition. Big time. One of my friends has five interviews this week; another has three. If you have put out the Help Wanted sign this post is for you.

Your prospective employees weigh their choices based on what they see, hear, and experience. Now is the time to update employee stories on your website, add testimonials to social media, and prove your thought leadership.

Four Top Tactics for Recruitment Marketing

1. Branded Content

Social Media

Apply your brand strategy to recruitment marketing to attract candidates who connect with your mission. Include stories about employees living your mission on your website and on social media.

Use both still photos and video to introduce your employees. You can show employees in the office, at events, and interacting with your clients or students in your effort to show prospects what it’s like to work at your organization.

At left: Beth Hammock featured faculty on social media to strengthen Cottey College’s brand.

Prospective employees also will be attracted to your organization’s thought leadership. When your CEO or PR person writes a column for the paper or your website, that’s thought leadership. When I was with Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois in 2020 I wrote a column for the CEO on the impact of racism. The column further positioned her as a leader and she received several speaking invitations, including an appearance on a St. Louis TV program.

The candidates will see the stories on social and your website when they check you out. Understand that your content will not show up in candidates’ social feeds unless you buy an ad.

2. Career Webpages

Take a look at your Career webpage. Is it easy to navigate? On-brand? Is your application short enough that people will stick with it until the end?

When I hired staff at Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois almost all of the applicants left the application blank. As a hiring manager, I want to see the full picture outlined on the application. Most application systems allow you to require candidates to complete the application. Make sure you check that box.

You may be tempted to ask for salary history, but don’t do it. Experts say that practice discriminates against women who have traditionally been paid less than their male counterparts. It will turn off your female candidates and maybe the men, too.

For more on career webpage development check out “Recruitment Marketing for the Digital Age: A Definitive Guide” by Vital’s Marissa Comeau. She has many other tips for recruitment marketing in her guide.

3. Job Board Listings and Reviews

I talked to a CEO this week who was not aware his organization has a lot of negative reviews on Indeed. Not good. You need to monitor reviews everywhere you post jobs and respond when someone posts a comment.

Save yourself and the candidate time by posting the salary range on your position description. I’m talking about a salary range narrowed down to a $5,000 span – not like those some companies list spanning a $40,000 range.

St. Louis nonprofit professionals find jobs on The Rome Group’s career board and the AFP chapter’s website. Both now require salary ranges.

4. Social Media Marketing

If you want to go out and find candidates don’t rely on posts on social media or your website: buy ads on social media or use your Google grant to advertise openings.

All digital platforms allow you to include a lead generation form. You can offer an incentive for people to fill out the form. Asking them to take a quiz and get their answers often is enough to get folks to fill out your lead gen form. Check out Amy Porterfield’s podcast about using quizzes for more info. Once you have candidates’ contact information, put them on your email list, text them, and call them.

When you gather those leads, you have made it to stage three of the recruitment marketing funnel: interest. The first two are awareness and consideration. If you want help with social media or Google ad management give Beth Hammock a call. Her recruitment marketing will bring in the quality candidates you need to succeed.

Hammock Marketing + Communications

86 Rottingham Ct.
Edwardsville, IL 62025
info@hammockcommunications.com
(618)-772-4393

Services

Mission: Hammock Marketing + Communications contributes to business growth with exceptional fractional CMO and creative services.

Vision: With our talent, experiences, and energy directed efficiently and effectively, we contribute to the well-being of people around the world.

Improve Your Marketing Photos to Engage Your Audience, Part 1

The quality of your marketing photography makes a big difference in how the public perceives your brand. Great photos will motivate your audience to stay engaged with your content. If your photos are uninspired, readers will pass over your ad or post for something more interesting.

Many nonprofits and educational institutions shoot their own pictures – sometimes a talented photographer is on staff, sometimes not. If you’re in the latter category, consider hiring a freelance marketing photographer for your most important pieces like your case statement, annual report, and website. The investment in photography will pay off because images have much more emotional appeal than the written word. Strategic photography will ilustrate your brand and instill confidence.

I wrote this post in 2016 for another website. I remembered it while I was in a meeting about a St. Louis website that features a carousel of three (not one, but three) photos of the Arch. One of my photography rules is being broken on that site! Feature people, not buildings or monuments. To the hundreds of businesses and organizations in St. Louis with the Arch as your cover photo – enough already! Show-me something inspired.

This post is just as relevant today as five years ago so I am reposting it as the first installment of Greatest Marketing Photography Insights to Engage Your Audience.

Environmental Marketing Photography Beats Studio Shots

marketing photography

What brings a smile to my face? Someone else smiling. Thus, when I opened the 2016 annual report from the University of Missouri Student Affairs Division I laughed with joy.

The publication features environmental portraits of a diverse array of students. No beautiful campus buildings or revered monuments. No trite pictures of students walking through fall leaves. This piece tells stories supporing the Mizzou brand. Way to go, Angela Dahman, marketing and communications manager for Mizzou Student Affairs, and your design team.

Search for a Creative Expression of Your Brand

When I was a development and outreach consultant for the UMKC Honors College, my son Max Hammock and I created a case statement for prospective donors. The cover featured students rowing on the Kansas River. Dean Jim McKusick and I united to promote the nontraditional cover to the rest of the college’s administration. The result was stunning. Eye-catching, surprising ideas win out over students walking on campus any day.

Case statement
Photography: One of the Most Important Elements in Marketing Communications

Want to find more examples? Pick up marketing communications materials from the most successful organizations in your area. On Sunday, I went to Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, the largest United Methodist congregation in the nation. Eleven thousand people attend services there every Sunday. What a brand! My visit was mostly for my own professional development. I had to answer “How do they draw that many people?”

The church’s branding and business-like approach amazed me. And the fundraiser in me had chills as Senior Pastor Adam Hamilton announced the church raised $1.1 million at its Christmas Eve service. All of the money went to charities helping children, including one assisting refugees in Aleppo, Syria. I understood the story and felt an immediate connection to the church’s mission.

When I got home and looked at my welcome packet from Church of the Resurrection guess what I saw? A girl jumping for joy! Truly. Check out the church’s website and you will see lots of environmental photography featuring smiling people.

brand
The cover of the Welcome Packet at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas

Environmental photography is photography outside of a studio with the subjects in their normal setting. This may be a classroom, office, church, or any other place that is outside a photographer’s studio.

Creative directors envision the best photos to illustrate brands and tell your stories. I will work with your marketing communications team, including your photographer, as a creative director for your important projects. If you need a professional photographer, I will bring one in for you. The difference in your product from engaging a creative director and professional photographer will delight you and get you the results you want.

Nonprofit Marketing Pros: Seize Opportunities in the Post-Pandemic World

My experience looking for a new church got me thinking about the opportunity for nonprofit marketing teams to attract new members in the post-pandemic world.

I went to church in-person for the first time since last spring on Sunday. When I moved to Edwardsville, Illinois in June 2020, I decided to go to church through Zoom until the pandemic ended. With two vaccines protecting me, I was eager to get back to one of the staples of my life – being in a church community.

Using my digital tools, I researched churches near me and decided on one based on my past experience. Our Lord’s Lutheran Church in Maryville, Illinois, celebrated Pentecost outdoors in its Chapel in the Pines. A nice breeze blew across the shady spot, I liked Pastor Darla Ann Kratzer’s enthusiasm, and I met a woman with whom I have some things in common. I will be back.

I was able to check out the church because of its digital marketing, including an up-to-date website, Google listing, and Facebook page. Our Lord’s Lutheran Church’s digital tools include video online, an excellent way for prospective church members to see what they offer, and that impressed me.

Apply this story to your mission and you will see how opportunities abound in the post-pandemic world. People are excited about getting out of the house and engaging with others. They want to get back to their hobbies, learn something new, and take better care of themselves.

Digital-nonprofit-marketing

Who is ready to join (or rejoin) a gym? I am! The Gateway Region YMCA is taking full advantage of digital marketing. They ran TV ads with a membership special a couple months ago and now they are running Google ads. The ads prompted me to look into joining, and I learned the Edwardsville Y is not part of the regional organization. I haven’t heard about any specials in Edwardsville. There is a new executive director so I imagine he is just getting up-to-speed. I’m a big fan of YMCAs and hope to get over there soon. I need it.

Nonprofit Marketing Needs Extra Resources During a Time of Uncertainty

With COVID guidelines for children in flux, communicating with families in a post-pandemic world can be a challenge. The more you communicate the better. If you need to change course next week, use your digital tools to deliver another message.

Membership marketing
My granddaughter Elissa enjoys her first Daisy Girl Scout activity.

Case in point – my daughter, Valerie Love, and her little Girl Scout, Elissa. I have asked Valerie twice about whether Elissa will be going to Girl Scout day camp. Valerie says she hasn’t heard anything about it. We wondered if it is because the Girl Scout council didn’t know if they were having day camp because of the pandemic. How many moms have the same question?

Elissa, six years old, is a Daisy, a first-year Girl Scout, so Valerie has more questions than answers. Do troop members go to day camp together, like when she was a Girl Scout? Or do the girls go solo? When is it? How does she sign her daughter up?

I looked on the Girl Scout council website and see their camp guide that includes how to sign up for day camp. I wonder if they have used digital tools to drive to the guide. Have they posted on social media that it’s available? That’s where Valerie would see it. Have they emailed a link to all parents? Communicated directly with volunteers to inform them about day camp registration and how to engage their girls?

There is no such thing as over-communicating when attracting participants or donors. There are barriers, however.

Is your organization staffed to take advantage of the many digital tools available when communicating with families? Do you have an adequate digital marketing budget?

Social Media Leads List of Preferred Digital Tools

As a nonprofit marketing professional, you need to meet their audiences where they are. A recent survey by Sprout Social found

“90% of executives agree social will soon become the primary communications channel for companies to connect with existing and prospective customers.”

Sprout Social

I have gotten some excellent results with digital marketing and am happy to help you with yours. I will create your ads, target the audience online, and monitor the ads. The beauty of digital marketing is that you can do A/B testing, a process in which you run two ads on the same topic and see which one performs better for a week. Then, you drop the second-place ad and run the first-place one for the duratin of the campaign. I will do this for you. Soon, you will see the results you want in the post-pandemic world.

My Mother’s Day post lays out how to create a marketing and communications plan. While the post is geared to entrpeneurs, nonprofit marketing pros will benefit from following the process I shared.

I’m wishing you great success with your nonprofit marketing in the months and year ahead. Again, I am happy to help you. Your initial consultation is complimentary.

Discover the Power of the Communications Hierarchy to Engage Your Prospects

When we date, we don’t jump right to a marriage proposal. In the same way, you will succeed in engaging prospective customers by following the Communications Hierarchy. The way my intern Mariah Wilson, from Godfrey, Illinois, chose a college illustrates the power of one-on-one communication. She graduated from Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, in May.

College Graduate Illustrates Power of the Communications Hierarchy

“My brother’s friend went to Lipscomb,” Mariah Wilson says. “I also knew about Lipscomb because it is a Christian school and they participated in college fairs at youth group events I attended.”

Mariah knew the Lipscomb brand because of recruiters’ participation in college fairs (large group events). Then, when faced with the decision of where to go to school, she received the social proof from her brother’s friend (top-of-the pyramid communication).

We have become so dependent on communicating from quarantine many of us are out-of-practice at getting to the top level of the communications hierarchy, says Kris Tenny-Brittian, senior strategist with The Effective Church Group.

With most communication online we definitely didn’t have as many chances to interact in ways that nurture rewarding relationships.

Honestly, we were off-track about communication before the pandemic. Coworkers tried to solve problems via email. Family members texted on topics that needed to be a conversation. And new tools like Slack created divides between the adopters and the old-school emailers. Thus, I’m happy to revisit the topic of the Communications Hierarchy and share tips from other communications gurus.

The Communications Hierarchy guides us when we have questions like “When do I email someone instead of calling them?” “If my organization buys more digital ads will our donors give more?” And “Can we skip the large events that take so much time plan and cost so much money?”

The Communications Hierarchy illustrates how message-delivery systems build upon each other.

Follow These Steps to Successful Interactions with Prospects

Our goal is to build one-on-one relationships that result in investments in our organization, referrals, and engagement. Some people think sending a mass mailing or posting regularly on Facebook will get those results. They won’t. Here are the steps to follow.

  1. Build brand awareness with mass communication. This includes social media and blog posts, advertising, mass mailings of email, newsletters, magazines, and letters, podcasts, and earned media.
  2. The next level of communication is large group. I don’t think webinars and Zoom events count, but you may disagree. I want to see people on your campus, or on-site at your nonprofit, interacting with you and those you serve. You are welcoming them into your family in a non-threatening way by inviting them to an event. Make sure to show off who you are with remarks and visual aids. For educational institutions, commencements, graduations, football games, and band concerts count as large group events, so make sure your brand is on display at those activities.
  3. I’ve had great success with small group events for both cultivating and stewarding donors. At Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s Botanical Garden, we had a series of dinners for prospective campaign donors before public concerts in the gardens’ chapel. We invited people who were members or on the mailing list that we knew had capacity. Some highly qualified prospects attended then returned for our next small group event. I’ve also planned dozens of gift announcements for university donors. The announcements are a combination of a press conference about the gift and a reception for family and friends.
  4. Many development directors send letters to individual prospects introducing themselves before they call them. This personal touch is important even if the director doesn’t reach the prospect. So are print invitations to events. Phone calls are much more productive than emails, although individual emails fall in this category, too.
  5. One-on-one communication is the goal in building relationships. While in-person is best for reading body language and sharing experiences like meals, video calls work when necessary. They definitely save time and money.

In “Why Word of Mouth is So Important.” Megan Mosley, a contributor to Social Media Today, wrote

“Connect with consumers, as opposed to ‘collecting’ them. You want real fans and supporters. The more passionate your fans are about you, the more likely they’ll share you.”

Megan Mosley in social media today

Your students, alumni, and parents are your best recruiters and drivers of donations. Communicate with them consistently at all levels of the spectrum.

Digital ads on Facebook, YouTube, and Google allow you to target your audience by location, age, gender, and interests. Hammock Communications will manage your ads and create your videos so you can focus on your mission.

Internal Communications: So Many Choices

Tools like Slack, Teams, and Sharepoint have sped up communication internally. They also leave some people wondering how to reach the right people at work.

Aaron Lynn, an Australian business and operations consultant, shared a communications hierarchy for internal communications that’s pretty useful. weighs urgency and importance. The bottom of the hierarchy is email, which should be sent infrequently. The next level is meetings, followed by tools like Slack, messaging, phone calls, and in-person conversations. He’s not a fan of walking around the office chatting with people, which I don’t agree with. But he’s an operations guys and into maximizing time resources. No one wants the chatting to turn into a half-hour conversation, but most of us have heard good bosses go talk to their staff once in a while.

Aaron has guidelines for personal communications in the same post and those are more in line with what I think. Don’t text difficult conversations. Consider the context and intensity of the information you want to discuss when making a decision on whether to call, text, or meet.

My manager at Mizzou Advancement, Linda L’Hote, taught me to respond to messages in the way the person contacted you. If they emailed you, email them back. If they called you, call them back. This is donor-centric and a great way to lose the guesswork on how your contacts like to communicate.

New Business Owners by Necessity: 6 Steps for Attracting Customers

New Business Marketing

Starting a business is like pregnancy and childbirth. It’s a long haul with a heavy load to carry. Finally, the journey ends in the excitement of new life.

I’ve experienced starting a new business since January, when I relaunched seven-year-old Hammock Communications. This post is for all the new mompreneurs who started businesses in the past year. You have drive, talent, and experience in your profession. More marketing and PR knowledge will set you on the path to prosperity!

First some facts. The pandemic forced an estimated 5 million mothers to leave their jobs. Many were laid off. Others needed to stay home with their kids while schools and childcare centers were closed and couldn’t work from home or juggle virtual work and virtual school.

Earlier this year, Perceptyx, a workforce analysis company, surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. employees and found that “compared to six months ago, 48% of women have become either much less or somewhat less likely to want to return to the physical workplace full-time.”

A Washington Post report on the impact of the pandemic on women said the number of businesses started by women may have doubled in one year.

Data compiled for The Washington Post by the professional networking site LinkedIn found that the share of female entrepreneurs on its platform grew 5 percent year-over-year, from March through November, more than double the pre-pandemic average. LinkedIn’s analysts looked at female members who had changed their title to “founder” during the pandemic.

Washington Post, “The pandemic has been an economic disaster for women. Some took advantage of it.”

I have a lot of empathy for moms dealing with the impact of the pandemic. My kids’ dad and I divorced when my twins were three and my others were 9 and 12. My ex had long periods of unemployment when I had to carry the financial load alone. Plus raise the kids. I was driven to provide for my family and had the ability and experience to get good jobs. My drive took me all the way to Montana for a position as vice president of strategic communications and marketing for the University of Montana Foundation. After four years there, with my twins finishing high school, I moved back to the Midwest to take on my new role as Grandma Beth.

Raising kids and being the breadwinner was tough, but I did it. My kids are in their twenties and thirties and doing great. I realize I was an example for them in so many ways. The twins saw me as a leader when I was Cubmaster of their Cub Scout Pack and when I interacted with colleagues. We hiked, canoed, and skied together. My kids came to work events with me when appropriate, like the time my daughter, a student at Mizzou, traveled to a donor dinner in Denver with me when I worked at the university. I will never forget the day the superintendent of the school district for which I worked told me my kids respected me.

My four adult children give me so many reasons to smile. Chris and Max followed me into the digital media and marketing profession. My daughter Valerie is a wonderful at-home mother of two children. And Colin is in medical school.

Chris, Max, and Colin Hammock and their sister Valerie Love shared some laughs in this 2016 photo.

My point in sharing a little of my story is to let you know you will get through this. There will be some rough spots and there will be precious memories. Whether you are persisting in the position you had before the pandemic or have launched a new business, you’ve got this!

Marketing and PR Basics for New Businesses

You will set your business up for success when you develop a marketing and PR plan that prioritizes spending and the use of your time. I work with businesses to create marketing and PR plans. As an entrepreneur, you may need to make your own, so I’m sharing the basics.

  1. Identify your audience. What is their gender, age, and occupation? Where do they live? What do you want them to buy from you? Do you have more than one audience?
  2. Goals. Determine one to three business goals for the next few years. This may be how much net revenue you want, how many products you want to sell, or development of a new product.
  3. Research. Look at what competitors and similar businesses are doing in regard to how they make their products and how they market them. See if you can find out how others are faring in today’s economy so you have realistic goals. Read journals, LinkedIn, and digital content about your profession. See where competitors are advertising and learn what to expect from your investment in marketing. Join professional organizations where you can form relationships to support you in your journey.
  4. Develop Strategies. Take what you learned in your research to create measurable strategies for meeting your goals. Here are some examples: Obtain 200 leads from digital marketing by December 2021. Speak at 10 civic organizations by February 2022. Attract 500 website visits by December 2022.
  5. Create Tactics. Tactics are the tools we use to support our strategies. This may include running Facebook, Google, or YouTube ads, starting a YouTube channel, contacting civic organizations, staging events, and writing press releases. If you need help with any of these tactics, I can help you.
  6. Evaluate. One of the great things about digital marketing is you will see results right away. Find out how many people saw your ads, clicked on the links, and converted, or took action by completing a form or making a purchase on your site. Evaluate print and in-person tactics by how many people saw your article, ad, or speech. If you have an event, how many people attended? Did they complete a survey after your event? Take all of this information to decide whether your strategies are supporting your goals. Change course as needed.

Follow this six-step system and you will see results and have more sales. If you need some help, give me a call. I provide free consultations and referrals to the right people to help your business grow.

Enjoy your kids on Mother’s Day and every day. And go get ’em with your business.

Churches Get Excited About Marketing to Boost Attendance

Churches marketing themselves has become competitive in this era where people can tune in to church without leaving home. My friends Dr. Kris Tenny-Brittian and Dr. Bill Tenny-Brittian guide church leaders so they invited me to speak on marketing for their YouTube show ChurchTalk.TV. We talked about the best way for churches to cut through the clutter and make real connections with prospective members. If you’re on a church board or a minister this interview segment is worth your time.

Hammock Communications focuses on video marketing , a tool churches can use effectively when sharing testimonials, introducing ministers and ministries. Virtual choirs are wonderful and we will help you with those, too.

Churches rely on likes, video streaming and search tools just like any other business.

Video Marketing: 4 Advantages of Adopting an Aggressive Plan

Video Storytelling Expert Beth Hammock

Video marketing is one of the most important marketing tactics of 2021. Beth Hammock, founder and CEO, is passionate about video storytelling and she wants to help business owners succeed with video.

“Consider video marketing if you are doing everything you can think of to attract and retain donors, but you’re not getting the results you want,” Hammock says. “You may have a robust email marketing process but open rates are low; your Google ads don’t convert; and you worry about your donor loyalty.”    

Expect Dramatic Results from Video Marketing

Hammock says businesses everywhere are praising video marketing. Results include 

  • Exposure on YouTube, the 2nd most popular search engine with 3 billion searches per month
  • Marketing emails with videos have 300% higher click-through rates according to Wistia research. 
  • Conversion rates can improve 80% if you include a video on the landing page, another company says. 
  • The brand-building impact of video storytelling is priceless.

Video marketing company Wyzowl surveys customers every year about their satisfaction. In 2020 they found

  • 89% say video marketing has a good ROI
  • 83% say it helps with lead gen
  • 87% credit video with increased traffic to their website
  • 80% say video has directly helped them make more sales
  • 95% plan to spend more or maintain their video spend this year

Website optimization company Optinmonster has a lot more facts about the amazing tool that is video marketing.

What Makes Hammock Different

Hammock videos are different because they’re produced by an Emmy-nominated TV reporter and producer, Beth Hammock. Trained by the best at the Missouri School of Journalism, she uses a journalistic style – shooting primarily interview-based content to better tell a video story. 

Her team also uses shooting and editing techniques that make a big difference in the way viewers experience your videos – you will see sequences, more people, and more closeups in their videos. Hammock Communications’ videographers use state-of-the-art equipment and its editors are pros at motion graphics and design.

Take a look at some of the results of Beth Hammock’s video marketing before re-opening her business in January 2021:

Cottey College saw a 100% increase in conversions after Beth led a redesign of the college’ website that included 13 videos. The improvements in digital marketing led to twice as many leads for the recruiting team.

The University of Montana Foundation exceeded a campaign goal of $400 million by 13%. Beth produced a campaign video and donor recognition videos while VP of strategic communications and marketing at the foundation. The donor recognition videos led the donors to give more. One gave $5 million more!

“Beth Hammock is approachable and a pleasure to work with,” says Oindrila Roy, an assistant professor at Cottey College. “She communicates well, keeping everyone informed, and multiple projects on track.” 

Hammock moved to Edwardsville in June 2020 while working as Chief Advancement Officer for Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois. She left Girl Scouts in December then decided to stay in Edwardsville.

“I have lived in the greater St. Louis area for about five years and plan to make Edwardsville my long-term home,” Hammock says. “My daughter and her family are nearby. We all live here because we value family.”

Hammock and her family love going to the Missouri Botanical Garden. This ten-second video shows the impact of video over stills.

The Hammock Communications YouTube channel shows videos used for a variety of digital marketing tactics. Campaign videos were used at large and small events.

A consistent video schedule will boost your organization’s search rankings and strengthen your brand. We offer packages to ensure you have regular video content post. Give us a call to discuss partnering with us and getting the results possible with video marketing.

Refresh Your Brand Messaging to Make More Sales

The book New Sales. Simplified by Mike Weinberg inspired me to strengthen Hammock Communications’ brand messaging. “Practice what you preach, Hammock,” I told myself. I outlined our unique qualities in a news release I sent to media and the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce, of which I am a proud new member. Here it is. Please let me know if it rings true for you or if it needs some tweaks. I value your feedback. And if you want help with your brand messaging let me know. I can tell you I feel energized after putting mine together.

TV News Veteran Leads New Edwardsville, IL Public Relations and Marketing Firm

Beth Hammock Draws on 13 Years in TV News and 22 Years as Public Relations and Marketing Leader to Guide Businesses to Better Results 

The owner of a new St. Louis area public relations and marketing firm offers businesses a valuable perspective on connecting with customers. Hammock Communications, LLC, based in Edwardsville, Illinois, is owned and operated by Beth Hammock. Hammock draws on 13 years as a TV news reporter and producer and 22 years as in-house counsel to large organizations to help businesses turn around their marketing and communications. She started her business in 2015 in the Kansas City area, where she has spent most of her career.

“After I moved to Edwardsville to be near my family, I realized how much I like it and decided to put down roots here,” Hammock says. “While I am grateful public relations and marketing can be accomplished virtually, I look forward to getting out and meeting business leaders once the pandemic ends.”

Hammock partners with companies and organizations whose sales are stalled, staff lacks motivation, and leaders have tried everything they can think of to bring in more leads. They have a great product or service, but no one knows about it. Some have in-house marketing and communications teams. This may consist of a couple of people or it can be a much larger team. In most cases, half of the marcom staff has been around a long time and may want to do things the way they always have. The other half likely is inexperienced. They have fresh ideas but do not have a leader to help execute them. 

The in-house marketers may be trying to increase brand awareness using the latest digital tactics or creating sales brochures. They throw money into tactics, but sales still struggle. They begin to wonder whether they chose the right digital agency. There are so many agencies to choose from just like there are a lot of competitors in their industry.

Brand Messaging Includes Areas of Strength

1)  Comprehensive Approach: Hammock conducts marketing and communications audits, then crafts strategic plans for businesses, universities, and nonprofits. She coaches, counsels, and trains staff. She also is available to serve as a fractional chief communications officer or fractional chief marketing officer, meaning she is committed to a business for a set number of hours a week to be the in-house marketing and communications lead. Some businesses have her on retainer for public relations and crisis communications. 

2) Media Relations: Hammock is an accomplished media relations professional who will get your story in the media or help you through a crisis. She has been a spokesperson for the Missouri attorney general, University of Missouri Advancement, the University of Montana Foundation, Cottey College, the Kansas City (Mo.) School District, and Independence (Mo.) School District.

2)  Media Relations Prowess: Hammock is an accomplished media relations professional who will get your story in the media or help you through a crisis. She has been a spokesperson for the Missouri attorney general, University of Missouri Advancement, the University of Montana Foundation, Cottey College, the Kansas City (Mo.) School District, and Independence (Mo.) School District.

3)  Journalistic Content Creation: With a degree and background in journalism, Hammock is an expert in storytelling in all mediums including video production, copywriting, book editing, email marketing, and social media. She bases the content on your brand messaging, finding stories to illustrate your strengths.

4)  Digital Direction: Hammock partners with a local digital agency when clients need a new website, paid search, email automation, and other advanced digital tactics. Hammock serves as creative director for website development, a role which usually falls on the client. She has managed the redesign of several university and college websites and adds incredible value to clients’ web development processes.

People who have worked with Beth Hammock describe her as innovative, creative, adaptable, and productive.

“Beth Hammock is an extraordinarily motivated individual with a conscientious work ethic,” says Oindrila Roy, Ph.D., associate professor of international relations at Cottey College. “She led the redesign of the college’s website and worked with all concerned parties to cater to their unique needs. That she completed the project within 100 days bespeaks of her high levels of dedication, expertise in the area, and ability to produce quality work within a short duration of time. As a part of this project, I worked with Ms. Hammock to update the webpage for my program, and in our one-on-one interactions, I could easily witness Ms. Hammock’s passion for and deep commitment toward the success of this project.”

Hammock also has a dozen years of fundraising experience, mostly at the university level. She was director of development communications at the University of Missouri, Columbia for five years and vice president, strategic communications and marketing at the University of Montana Foundation for four years. Both universities had great success in fundraising while Hammock led development communications. 

At the University of Montana Foundation, she also was special assistant to the president for brand development for 18 months and now taps this experience while working with clients on their brand strategies. She is an expert in building a case for support for fundraising then illustrating it in print and in video. She looks forward to partnering with area universities to help them raise more money with the right tools and messaging.

In addition to higher education, other Hammock Communications specialties include supporting scientists with collateral for fundraising and writing for engineering and technology firms.