Should You Hire A Summer Intern?

ALT="Claire Freier, Summer Intern"

Claire Freier

A summer intern is a keen idea out of the gate, and your business needs to be completely certain the newest hire is not relegated to fetching coffee and filing papers. College students hired on as an intern can be actively involved in a business and contribute a productivity boost. If you start an internship with that foundation and concept, it’s a win-win.

What’s critical for mutual benefit is a well-designed and structured position. An internship based on real experience and tangible projects helps the intern learn and grow. Over time, the intern should be able to positively affect deliverables and results. Ultimately, a student gets experience in a field, and the company benefits from a low- cost and fresh-minded employee.
So, how specifically does a company benefit from hiring a summer intern?
[Read more…]

IKEA Media Relations And Messaging On A Slow News Day

ALT="Media Relations And Messaging, IKEA, Soulati Media, Jayme Soulati"This story is about my roots in media relations and messaging. In particular, it’s about IKEA media relations and messaging!

I read the Wall Street Journal paper edition every day. If I can’t get to it in the morning, I’ll scan the headlines. That’s what happened recently — I was on the phone with mom and exclaimed, “You gotta be freaking kidding me.’IKEA Adds Veggie Balls to Menu.'”

It was right there under ‘Business News’ with a full-color image larger than life (about 8 x 10 in inches) with a story right below. I am agog; here’s why.

Media Relations And Messaging

I hail from Chicago’s PR agencies in core media relations as a former purist, publicist, and public relations-only professional. Every day in my Chicago agency days I did media relations and messaging. To those not in the know, that means publicity and story pitching to journalists who hated that word — ‘publicist.’ I sat on the phones for eight hours daily as a captive AE pitching media. I know a slow news day when I see one.

Today, I’m no longer practicing like that on a daily basis; alas, public relations has changed. The messaging and media relations I do is oriented to message mapping and finding the news hook to do media relations the digital way. But, that’s all for another day.

IKEA Got Lucky

Now, I don’t discount the fact that IKEA is a multinational brand and largest furniture maker in the world consumers love. I don’t discount either its likely phenomenal media relations team who also likely consists of young publicists pitching media. Despite the company’s privately held status, the Wall Street Journal would be remiss not to cover the company’s goings on.

BUT…
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15 Tips For Business Blogs; Google’s Responsive Deadline

ALT="Heart Of Marketing Podcast Logo--Soulati"In this episode 016, we share tips for business blogs. This broadcast is probably one of my top five favorite episodes of the Heart Of Marketing podcast. The three others are episodes 10, 11, 12 where we address dead-blog syndrome.

When John Gregory Olson, my co-host, and I cover ground at a fast pace about tips for business blogs, I always get a refresher myself.

Throughout March and April, we’ve been reminding people about the Google deadline on April 21, 2015. In addition to these tips for business blogs, we cover WordPress plugins to help make the deadline easier. Also in this episode, John shares a story about his own website relating to mobile responsiveness.
[Read more…]

Heart Of Marketing E-015: Facebook Ads, YouTube Content ID

ALT="Heart of Marketing podcast, Soulati Media"There’s no better way to learn than in a fire drill. Of late, Facebook pay-to-play advertising feels just like that — trial by fire. YouTube is adding to the mix with its new beta Content ID program where folks can ding another’s videos if there is suspected stealing.  In this Episode 015 of The Heart Of Marketing podcast, I share my new takeaways from hands on with Facebook, YouTube and Google.

The Facebook advertising is all about selecting the best method for your fan page to get more likes and attention. It takes some testing to determine which ad and how much is best for your company. For my client, Alan’s Collision Center, I have been testing Facebook ads and tossing cash to boosts posts to see what sticks. In this episode you’ll hear me share each of my thoughts on which ad works best for testing and getting the best results. Obviously, the route you select for Facebook ad targeting is case by case and subject to your goals and budget.
[Read more…]

Why Responsive Design Is Marketing’s Greatest Challenge

ALT="Mobile Friendly, Soulati Media"On April 21, 2015, Google will begin to label websites ‘mobile friendly.’ That means your website must be responsive and work on all sizes of screens and most of all smartphones and tablets. As is customary, Google is highly likely to label a site ‘non-mobile friendly’ in SERPS and ding your traffic, too. Is your site mobile friendly? You can test your site if you don’t know; click the link I just shared.

Two years ago, the call to make websites mobile responsive was rampant; yet, few truly new what that meant. I can tell you from experience two years later only a handful know the inside and out of responsive design. Responsive websites are marketing’s greatest challenge.
In my blended marketing firm, websites are one of the service offerings. From message mapping and copywriting to photography and design, a website is a critical component of a company’s marketing. And then there’s the backend of the site that now includes responsive design. It’s the latter that’s wreaking havoc among all businesses because it’s so new.

Perhaps the biggest developers for the largest corporations know what it takes to execute responsive design right, but what about the little guy?

There are thousands of businesses of all sizes caught in the responsive-design maelstrom right now. We consultants MUST do a better job communicating the intricate details and requirements of this burgeoning arena.

The Basics of Responsive Design for WordPress

In WordPress, a responsive design means your site will automagically resize for the 80+ screen sizes throughout the world. You know – all the smart devices and tablets, plus computer screens and now internet TVs. And when the user visits your website from a mobile device (not from a hardwired computer), your website is presented with all the navigation and calls to action neatly positioned on top.

If you elect not to take the plunge into responsive design, then you lose. You turn away traffic, you will not convert leads, you are ignorant of mobile marketing, and basically the finicky and demanding consumer will pick your competitor down the street.
Responsive design is here, now. It’s the ONLY way to code a website today; yet too many companies are still saying NO.

Communicating About Responsive Design

When you migrate your website from a WordPress template to a responsive template or custom build, there are a ton of coding, testing, sizing, more testing on all the devices, hosting, and security issues. How do you vet a web designer who has this knowledge? Is there any way to tell if you’ve hired the right team? What about the actual template selected? How do you know if it’s the right one?

Let me share the lightbulb moment:

Your clients DO NOT UNDERSTAND RESPONSIVE DESIGN. Guess what — NOR DO YOU.

Now that we’re all on the same page with utter chaos, let me share a few examples why I’m qualified to write about this topic.

Soulati Media Can Do 90 Percent Of Your Website

That’s an astonishing statement, right? If you hire me to do your website, I can do 90 percent of it extremely well. The other 10 percent not so much. When you read the examples below, you’ll see what I mean about that 10% that won’t go according to plan. It’s the gray area that no one has control over, and it’s the area causing the most headaches.

Client 1
A client recently spent $20,000 to get a website designed from scratch in WordPress (I know, crazy, right?). Turns out that spend did not include responsive design although it was promised. The team hired used coders in Brazil and each time they touched a page it was developed in a hodge-podge way. Two years later, the client agreed to spend another $2,000 to redesign the site into a mobile responsive custom build. The designers, BlueHost Design, did a phenomenal job. Alas, the client did not like how the new site looked although it was nearly the same as the original site, and she demanded her original site be restored. The site is now no longer responsive, and the new responsive site is sitting dormant on a development server.

Client 2
A small business had a six-year-old dormant website being hosted with a reseller. The reseller refused to turn over access to the domain registrar to transfer the site to a true host and has convinced the client this is not necessary. Upon the build of a new website using a WordPress template and its uploading to the business’s host, the site was the subject of a total hack attack from Turkey. At one point the entire site was replaced with Islamic music and Turkish gobble. The hackers left their identity on the site, and I reported them to Facebook and government agencies. The original team installed an older template that was not properly responsive. It took a second developer team to uncover all the issues with the site and recode the backend. Once the security plug in, Wordfence, was installed, the site did not work with Internet Explorer/Bing, and the developer had to call for technical support to fix this. The client insists on using IE as their preferred browser, although among the four browsers, IE is the least reliable and is being rebuilt. The site was tested on all the screen sizes, and it took two weeks to consistently test and recode parameters to address all the responsive issues. For now, the site is secure, quiet, responsive, and stable. It works on all screen sizes and with all browsers. It took my team three weeks to fix design, update code, work through a 7-day hack attack, improve security issues, and address daily issues with the technology.

Client 3
I have consistently rebuilt my website and invested in advancing my brand to follow industry trends. The point is that everyone is learning at the same time. When I thought I bought a responsive design, it turns out it was merely mobile ready. So, it was back to the drawing board to re-invest again to add the appropriate bells and whistles. My website has gone through about six iterations each with new back-end upgrades demanded by technology disruption.

My biggest piece of advice is what anyone will tell you – you get what you pay for. If you try to scrimp on the edges, then the inside deflates. Please invest the proper amount of budget into your website and be very happy with the outcome.

Tips to Communicate With Clients About Responsive Design

To wrap this up, here are my tips on how to prepare a client for a responsive design project. Each is very important and this should ensure everyone is tracking and prevent misunderstanding.

1. Ensure your client knows the definition of responsive design and why it’s a requirement
2. Let a client know that the entire site is going to be rebuilt with new code
3. Ensure the web host is qualified to handle new site designs, has server security, is accessible to the web team 24/7 for support, and all passwords are in hand to access cPanel and ftp
4. Discuss each step in the process to migrate an old site to a new template or custom build
5. Review the budget required for re-coding and migration; testing; security
6. Review the timeline for this migration and ensure additional what-if time is built in
7. Address the browser issues and ensure all browsers are up to date among all users
8. Ask the client to test the site and help find broken links or unresponsiveness
9. Review the budget and ensure there is enough to accomplish all of the above!

Questions Marketers Should Ask The Web Team

These are the basic questions to pose with ANY web developer team you hire. If the answers are not to your satisfaction or your instinct is flaring, then please trust yourself and move on. Finding the right web partner is so critical.

1. How many WordPress responsive design websites have you built?
2. Were they template migrations or custom builds?
3. How do you know a template is the most current version for responsive design?
4. How will you inform me a template is out-of-date, supported by a developer or ready for responsive design?
5. Are you a designer only? Who on your team is the developer? How deep is your web team?
6. How long have you been in this business?
7. Have you ever managed website security issues – hacks or malicious files?
8. Are you accessible for crisis management evenings and weekends if there’s a hack?
9. Once a site launches live, what do you do immediately following during transition?
10. What security plugins do you recommend for WordPress sites?
11. Share the most challenging responsive design project you’ve ever completed
12. What are the top three risk areas you will be watchful for?
13. How will you bill for this project? At what point are you going to nickel and dime and what’s the best way to make this relationship mutually beneficial?
14. I don’t want my site held hostage because you’re waiting for money. This happens all the time and I need to hear your philosophy and work ethic.
15. Why should I hire you over another developer?
16. What size of customer are you comfortable working with?

These issues will continue to plague marketers and clients. Only when everyone can get on the very same page and understand all the ins and outs will an experience go well. Over communicate and over explain and overdo the due diligence.
The reason above are real and true and based on solid, direct experience. Managing that 10 percent gray area is where the headaches reside. And, here’s the final nugget — it’s technology, folks! It’s going to break and get fixed.

Who Knew Developing Brand Persona Included Bathroom Humor?

ALT="Heart Of Marketing Podcast Logo--Soulati"I’m jumping the gun and skipping ahead to Episode 007 of The Heart Of Marketing podcast (available for download on iTunes) during which John Gregory Olson and I chuckle our way through potty humor while attempting to be serious about developing brand persona.

OMGosh! This episode brought tears to my eyes, well almost…I was just trying to get you to listen…whence I listened to it to prepare my blog post. I can’t stand not to laugh in these podcasts, otherwise I’d fall asleep!

What is Persona?

Everywhere you look, someone is suggesting that persona development is critical for brands. I dive in to three hot resources in Heidi Cohen, Vincent Messina and Tony Zambito who each know a thing or two about buyer persona versus buyer profile. They’re different!

In public relations circles from where I come, we liked rather to look at target audience as it relates to demographics. Marketers, on the flipside enjoy creating stories about who that buyer is, what they do every day and how they live. I wasn’t a fan, until I was. [Read more…]

The Heart Of Marketing #Podcast Debut! @Soulati @DigitalJGO

ALT="Heart Of Marketing Podcast Logo--Soulati"It’s with the greatest of #RockHot pleasure I introduce a new product I’ve been dying to publish for several years. With my co-host John Gregory Olson, a peer in the marketing sector and blogger extraordinaire, I’m so pleased to announce the debut of The Heart Of Marketing Podcast!

In our first 6.5 episodes already available on iTunes for your listening pleasure, we explore a variety of topics oriented to heart marketing, marketing with heart, who’s doing marketing with love, and how a mid-tier business gets to the heart of the matter.

Care to listen in to our pre-launch episode where we do the intros and giggle through the whole thing? Well, I do the giggling and John lures me back to center!

Episode 000 of The Heart Of Marketing Podcast

You Subscribe And We Give!

Our official launch is today, February 9, 2015 and it’s Heart Month, Valentine’s Day and, yep, Jayme Soulati’s birthday. There’s a special promo we’d like to share. When you subscribe to our podcast in iTunes (Stitcher is coming soon!) and  (see below how to do that), John and I will donate $1 per subscriber up to $500 to The American Heart Association! W00t!

When you listen and give us a rating (we like 5 stars!) and review, there very likely could be a special something saying thanks and we love you coming your way. Of course, that’s not a definitive because that would be like buying votes! Gahh!

Open For SuggestionsALT="Podcast menu for Heart of Marketing, screen shot"

There is so much we can talk about in our 30-minute show, but it’s no fun coming up with the topics without your input. So, please, in the comments below or via my contact form on my site, send along your suggestions for show topics.

If you’d like to be a guest on the show, feel free to send along a pitch, too.

The OMGosh we did it still amazes us both. Our show has been in the works since September 2014. While the barrier to entry is pretty high for a podcast, the medium is so fun and natural for us both, and we’re really jazzed to share with you.

How to Rate, Review, Subscribe to The Heart Of Marketing Podcast

1.Click on this link in iTunes.com to get to the home page of our podcast. Open in iTunes via the app.

2. Listen to an episode — I like Episode 000 above (introductions), and I also like Episode 001 about Taylor Swift.ALT="Heart Of Marketing podcast ratings screen shot"

3. Click on the ratings and reviews section (we like 5 stars if you can afford them!) and drop in a few words in the reviews section.

4. Click Subscribe and you won’t miss an episode!
ALT="Subscribe screen shot for Heart of Marketing podcast"

Real-Time Marketing Is A Snappy Technique

alt="24-hour news"

One of the undisputed advantages of the Internet is that it runs 24/7. Internet time means that things happen faster than they do in real life — conversations continue ‘round the clock, information is continually compiled and ideas appear at any time. Internet time is advantageous to marketers because you can participate in discourse in your industry, build awareness and aggrandize branding efforts by putting up content.

Technology is apparently a limitless tool, but what about connecting with customers and prospective client right now? Real-time marketing is a snappy technique that takes advantage of Internet time and the far reach of the medium via various platforms. Real-time marketing, or RTM, is a method of participating in Internet news and trends by fitting the topic to your own marketing needs.

Newsjacking

Whether or not you’ve ever heard of RTM, the concept is a similar one to newsjacking, a term conceived by David Meerman Scott. Newsjacking refers to the adoption of a piece of news as a vehicle for driving a marketing agenda. This agenda may include a particular product or service, or simply relate your company in a more general way. Newsjacking is a common enough practice that can be applied across online media, from the company blog to social media networks.
[Read more…]

Is Twitter’s Messaging Enough For Wall Street?

ALT="Twitter Wordle"Twitter, my former-fave social media app, is suffering from low mojo amongst Wall Street analysts. Since its IPO one year ago (November 2013), the honeymoon is over and tough questions are more the norm.

Twitter has had a recent spate of lackluster messaging being disseminated via tweets and blog posts versus the accustomed 1:1 analyst interview.

Message Mapping By Soulati

Perhaps Twitter should’ve engaged Soulati Media for a message mapping exercise? Hey, Twitter, it’s not too late to give me a shout!

That’s my shameless plug, and why not? Don’t forget to see my infographic on message mapping here!

Back to Twitter

Upon review of The New York Times Nov. 13, 2014, “Twitter Speaks Up With Growth Strategy Intended to Soothe Wall Street,” it seemed Twitter’s dog and pony for financial analysts had the right messages. What also seemed to be the problem was the reception of those messages.

Revenue is weak; plans to raise revenue are average; users aren’t visiting as much as prior; there is management turmoil; the future looks bleak for the company (according to the story); and, new features aren’t being launched fast enough.

In my view, Twitter really messed up by not communicating in the last 12 months about its plans to shore up the publicly traded company and keep share price growing to investor satisfaction.

Seems to be Twitter’s problem may be its messaging and its messaging delivery; that’s called public relations. When you open the doors as a public company and invite all kinds of scrutiny, investor relations is critical. [Read more…]

Confused Messages Driving Catch-22 Brand Marketing

ALT="Pink Campbells Soup Cans, Soulati"The headlines in national newspapers and trade ‘zines are a mixed bag of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Consumers are taking the biggest hit amidst the confused clutter of brands’ messages.

Let’s take a look at several finger-in-your-eye examples and see if you agree:

Price Drop Tests Oil Drillers, Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2014
In this front-page story, you already know the gist. If you’re like me, you’re likely ticked off about it, too. Consumers have not even realized the benefit of one week of under $3/per gallon of gasoline and the analysts that cover the oil industry are bitching. If oil being fracked in Bakken sells for less than $84/barrel, then fracking is uneconomical. What does that mean for consumers? Another squeeze in oil supplies due to the cease in fracking, the loss of jobs and a price increase.

It’s that supply and demand thing, and the consumer conundrum remains for marketers — do we continue to pinch the customer and force higher prices so we make our margins and keep stakeholders happy, or do we risk losing market share and influencing a nose dive in local economies dependent on the jobs created from oil exploration? The media love to report on oil companies emotions

Pay TV’s New Worry, “Shaving The Cord,” Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2014
Do you subscribe to a television provider where the most favorite and in-demand channels cost the most money? Is your bill for satellite or cable television in the hundreds of dollars monthly? YES! Consumers are looking elsewhere for entertainment to try to cut frivolous expenditures. and the pay-TV companies are none too happy. Upon further examination, consumers are not totally ditching pay TV, they are shaving dollars off the monthly fee and leaving the big channels.

What’s the impact? No surprise, it’s the brand marketers seeking the subscriber base to feed us advertisements on CNN, USA Network and ESPN. If the subscribers aren’t there, ad dollars disappear and BAM! pay TV just got pricier as there’s no one left to subsidize programming. And, who’s responsible for the story behind this headline? A research firm probably dueling as an industry analyst seeking buyers for reports like this.

Smile! Marketers Are Mining Selfies! Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2014
Ahh, the ubiquitous selfie soon to grace a Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook near you. And, if that selfie is a smiler complemented by a brand logo, then look out consumer! You’ll soon get more advertising messages from the brand that bought the image catching you in the happy moment.

Guess how? [Read more…]