Your Biggest Marketing Challenges

If you are like most marketing professionals, you know that the list of challenges is long and sometimes overwhelming. As life-long practitioners of the craft, we seek ways to make things easier, better, convert more readily, generate more sales. We champion brands, strive for awareness, and pain to grow engagements. But we aren’t alone. From a North American survey of marketing pros, here is their list of challenges. Maybe it mirrors your own.

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Source: Statista

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Local Real Estate Professionals Rebrand Under New LARA Guidelines

Not every client of Advance 360 brands within rigid guidelines, but in the real estate industry, Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs dictates what’s possible. Add to that the branding guides for their real estate affiliate partner and you have a highly regulated system for your brand. Such was the case with Steve Volkers Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan.

“When we first began refreshing our brand identity we vetted a few local creative agencies for the project. We were impressed by Advance 360’s professionalism and strategic approach and we decided to jump into this crazy journey with their team leading the charge,” said Steve Volkers. But more important were the guidelines the brand was required to follow. The Advance 360 team spent time with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ staff, to ensure the end designs would align with corporate policy.

The Group Sets the Tone

Research must come first, and that means that the feelings and ideas of the team and how their brand is viewed is paramount. The group, together in a room, must articulate the aspirational vision for their brand. With guidance from the Advance 360 team, these concepts are harnessed and consensus formed, crafting a shared language around the purpose of the brand.

Of this process, the Group’s Director of Marketing, Amber Gray, had this to say. “Our project started with a full team working session. It was a great way for our entire group to level-set on how we see our brand, what we want for it in the future and why those pieces are important. The outcome of that working session was a strategic chart that was shared every time we regrouped so that we all knew how we got to where we are.”

“It was not only helpful but humbling to know that our voices and opinions were heard and taken into account along the way.”

“Once the creative output started coming in, we were beyond thrilled. Andrew Olson, Creative Strategist, nailed it with the overall design theory of our new brand identity.”

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Now in the process of web development/programming, the Steve Volkers Group is putting into action Advance 360 designs for their digital footprint. The team, including Senior Account Manager Kristin Hartwig, “took an immense amount of care and effort to propose a user experience based on our analytics and, of course that initial team working session,” said Gray.

This effort included content architecture recommendations for the numerous sites in the Steve Volkers Group portfolio: GR Downtown Condos, Steve Volkers Group, Alger Heights and West Michigan New Homes. The end result: a content stream that would be easily navigable, intuitive for the user, and preserve the SEO quality previously established by years of exceptional content generation. The look and navigation of these sites is under construction (hidden from view of the public) until its official launch summer, 2018.

“We are confident that the final result will exceed our performance expectations. Not to mention, it’s so pretty! This group of creative and talented individuals has been a dream to work with. Their knowledge and hard work shines in every step of the way.”

Drive Enrollment and Combat Declining Numbers

Falling short of e-commerce revenue goals and experiencing a negative ROI on their marketing strategies and campaigns, our client needed a digital marketing strategy that efficiently allocated budget dollars to reverse this trend ASAP.

Offering online trainings and accreditations for specific industries/tracks, with no brick and mortar location, they had to be top of mind to drive a strong return within a set time-frame.

Advance 360 developed and executed an integrated program that ultimately increased their online enrollment while decreasing the investment they were making in SEM.


SEM has increased as a result of newly implemented campaign management.

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The Path to Purchase: Manufacturing Has Changed

Since the advent of the advertising industry, marketers have fed information to customers and customers have made buying decisions based on this information. It was a linear path. Someone sees an ad, became interested in the product, goes to the store and makes a purchase. But now customers are finding information on their own. It’s the marketer’s job to pull that audience in by creating a personalized experience that resonates with the potential customer. The path to purchase is no longer linear, it is a collection of moments that influence a customer to purchase your product.

Customers are already well down the path to a decision before performing an action on a website. They are being influenced from many different touch-points, whether through your website, social media, mobile campaigns, or traditional marketing methods. That makes it important for manufacturing marketers to reach their audience through a variety of methods well before the audience reaches out to them.

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Public, four-year state university leverages re-targeting to bring in Top Recruits

How can a state university recruit the most impressive student prospects online? Especially when there’s no database that tracks students by GPA or academic performance. For the College of Science at a four-year state university, recruiting high schoolers who excel in science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) was a top priority. The state university worked with Advance 360 to reach STEM students online and increase enrollment in the College of Science.

We developed a four week digital campaign leading up to National Decision Day, when seniors choose which college to attend — researching the 40 top-performing STEM high schools in the four closest states. Half of the campaign went toward mobile in-app ads, geo-targeted to those schools. Any student who engaged with an ad and then left the area were retargeted later using the other half of the budget. In total, the university spent less than $3,000 to deliver 250,000 ad impressions over four weeks. By National Decision Day, the results were in.


Content Marketing: Did you know?

Marketing experts saw the shift long ago. They’ve preached that “content is king” for years. But what does that really mean?

Custom content, written, produced, or designed for specific segments of your audience offers a truly personalized experience. It feels bespoke — designed just for the shape, size, or attributes of your best customer.


78% of these marketers believe that custom content is the future of marketing.

Start small. Create a single infographic and an accompanying article. Position them appropriately on your website. Then pull graphic elements from the infographic into digital ad units, targeted to the clientele most impacted by that statistic. Link back to the full article and creative, and watch what happens.


50% of budget for in-bound marketing strategies, significantly decreasing the cost per acquisition. Some report as much as 3x the leads from these activities.

Shift spending from traditional media, where limited personalization is possible, and refine your tactics to more unique messaging that will have an impact. Try this exercise: Pen a series of 2-3 paragraph organizational updates, based on the different generations of your audience. Note how the language should change as the audience’s characteristics change. Expand this thinking into web content, social media, and other promoted materials, based on the audience you’ve selected to reach.

60% of your audience will look for the product after reading about it, and 90% report finding it useful.

Does that mean you need to buy advertorials in all of your traditional print placements? No. It means you should be looking at Google reviews, sites that recommend your products, and putting testimonials on your site. It means that you need to be thinking about partners that can describe your product to their audiences, expanding your reach. Get guerilla, get grass roots. This is about uncovering opportunities, not painting marketing efforts with broad strokes.


70% of your audience says that engaging with your content makes them feel closer to your brand.

It’s proven: the more interactive the method, the more reward you’ll reap. Plan to mix your media so that you engage as many of the senses as you can. Make it visceral: audio (podcast), graphic (design/artwork). Make it surprising: get whimsical by posting the playlist for your office. Get creative by posting photos of your VP’s children trying to figure out the latest product in your line. Nothing is off the table but silence.

These tips are just the beginning. These will certainly snowball into more! Give these a try, and more will surely follow, along with new business.

Source: Statista

How Much of Your Budget is Digital?

In December of 2016, just 25% marketing budgets averaged 70% of their dollars to digital efforts. 11% of those polled responded their budget less than 10% digital. Yet nearly half of the marketers cited content development as a leading tactic in their marketing.

80% of marketers in North America name lead generation and brand awareness as their top reasons for content marketing. But it isn’t enough to develop compelling and engaging content if you don’t take steps to bring your audience to it.

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Ensure that your website is mobile friendly. The smartphone is the preferred access point for 87% of users. If your site can’t be easily viewed and your content easily found while in line for coffee, the site and its architecture needs work. You must build the foundation for your business first, and that foundation is your website.

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Use pixels wisely. A re-messaging pixel is simply a device for finding someone that visited a page of content a second (or third) time. What you re-message these visitors with should be consistent with content they read, and over time introduce new topics and calls to action. These re-messages can drive your audience further down the funnel, introducing concepts or products that will pique interest. But don’t lean to heavily into this budget. Dial the re-messaging up too high, and your audience may be served multiple messages from you on the same page—wasting your precious dollars.

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Social Media is a great place to start if you haven’t dedicated much of your budget to digital. With it you’ll learn how to target an audience, set a budget, and even list-match. These concepts can be expanded more broadly in digital display messaging, as you (and your budget) are ready. But don’t expect to “post and run.” Social media is a long play: you can’t disappear for weeks at a time. You must pay to play in this space, though you can start very small.

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Open the digital floodgates. Sync your social media efforts with your digital display ones, using your learnings about what is most engaging. Segment audiences that you know have a propensity to convert, and experiment with frequencies to influence them to do so.

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Whatever your budget, recognize that when used properly, digital can dramatically reduce the amount of waste in your marketing spend, by highly targeting your exact audience and serving messages in their natural internet travels. Lower cost per acquisition? Check.

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Customer Relationship Management: Use Your Data for Big Results

Written by Advance 360, this content was originally published in The Retail Jeweler.

It’s easy to overlook the value of your Point of Sale (POS) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems when assisting a guest in your store. Seeing others requiring your attention — whether staff or client — can seem more important in the moment. But using your own customer data, you can finely tune the message to your existing clientele, dramatically improving the yield from relationships you already have.

Article-UseDataForResults Customer Relationship Management: Use Your Data for Big Results

You likely know (without looking!) the most requested pieces in your inventory. You may even be able to quote the margin on those pieces, naming the profit each time one or more sells. But would you know the characteristics of the individuals that purchased these, in order to create more clientele that are looking for similar items? What about direct marketing efforts that could anticipate or even suggest that a client you know will make a visit to the store? With data, it’s possible.

Understanding your Client List
With the savvy running of a few reports from your system, trends can rapidly become apparent. You might start with segments of the business, like diamonds, bridal, fashion, repair or custom designs. Inside each of these segments, your “best” clients can be easily determined. Perhaps you consider them best based on their investment, or possibly based on frequency of visit. Whatever it is that makes them “best,” write it down. Understanding the characteristics of these individuals is what will make your marketing work better.

Now what?
Now, marketing themes emerge. Your “best” fashion jewelry clients visit four times a year, spending $500 each time. Great! Now we know that your advertising should focus on items that fall within these parameters. Message those individuals with advertising that will build upon what you already know about them. What about the rest of the client list for fashion purchases? That comes easily: sending messaging that turns them from small basket to larger basket clients with increasing frequency. Let’s not send advertising to those spending $2,000 annually an ad featuring a small basket purchase. Similarly, let’s not send those spending $250 annually an ad featuring the $2,500 item!

Making More of the Data You Have
The more personal information you have on an individual client, the more readily available they will be to you in the digital space. With a name, email address and phone number, Facebook and Instagram can find and message that person. As you act on growing your client base, these segments can be used to find audiences that share characteristics with those you already have, allowing you to message those that “look alike.”

In retail jewelry, data is the most powerful tool available. Don’t miss an opportunity to capture information that will help you grow your business. Just like revenue is grown one sale at a time, a great marketing strategy is grown one contact at a time.

Transitioning Marketing Tactics or Agencies: A How To Guide

Every campaign has a season, and a ceiling. It’s unrealistic to believe that a marketing tactic, piece of creative or strategy will never need refreshing. Even those that measure the outcomes of their efforts diligently eventually reach a point of diminishing returns. As you transition from one tactic to another, or in some cases from one agency to another, you may want to keep this in mind.

To eliminate disruptions to services and outcomes, consider keeping existing active campaigns live until the new material is launched. In this way, you won’t have a period of “darkness” where your constituents aren’t hearing from you.

Use goals to establish new tactics, not gut or the proverbial “squeaky wheel.” This will inform strategies to optimize campaigns, close segments or tactics of a campaign that are underperforming. Measure, and measure again. Then optimize. Repeat. Don’t believe the anecdotes you hear from stakeholders unless they can be proven by your data.

Think about the macro versus the micro goals. Macro: more visitors to the site. Micro: inquiry form fills. This will help to prioritize the frequency required, and which groups you must influence to generate that activity. Clearly articulate these goals among your existing team and your agency team. It will dramatically refine your relationship and your partnered activities.

Put your old and new agencies in touch with one another. These are professional adults, and should be able to work together to maximize your transition. Both parties have or have had your best interest in mind, and the more visibility you can offer the new service providers into the old strategies, the better.

Whether you are simply adjusting your marketing goals, changing channels or introducing something new, have a new partner to bring on board, it’s important to keep these elements in mind.