It’s Time to Share in the Spirit of Colorado Gives Day

 

giving

It’s been said that need knows no season, which is certainly true. However, a donation to a charitable organization around the holidays can have an especially powerful impact on the people within your community. At A-Train, one of our company values is to do all we can to have a positive impact on clients, colleagues, and community, which is why so many of our clients are nonprofit organizations. It’s also why we are advocates for the entities and individuals that support them.

A program of Community First Foundation, ColoradoGives is a way for Colorado nonprofit organizations to share information about their missions, connect with the community and increase donations year-round. For over a decade, the program has provided nonprofits with an online giving platform that encourages supporters to make donations quickly, easily and securely. More than 2,300 organizations are currently listed on the site, and Community First Foundation researches each to ensure adherence to their high standards.

Since 2007, more than $200 million has been raised for Colorado nonprofits through ColoradoGives.org. Many of our clients can continue the vital work they do thanks to donations they receive.

Gifts Go Further on Colorado Gives Day

Colorado Gives Day is an initiative of Community First Foundation and FirstBank that seeks to support the important work of Colorado nonprofits by making charitable gifts go even further. The single day of fundraising has raised more than $145 million since it began in 2010.

This year, Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, Dec. 5. On that day, every organization that accepts a donation will also receive a portion of a $1 million Incentive Fund. Donors don’t have to take any additional steps to expand the impact of their generous gifts.

If you’ll be donating to a nonprofit organization this holiday season, we encourage you to consider doing so through ColoradoGives.org and to give your gift on Colorado Gives Day, Tuesday, Dec. 5. We also encourage you to learn more about our nonprofit clients that are Colorado Gives Day participants and the amazing work they do:

Aurora Mental Health Center

Community Reach Center

North Range Behavioral Health

Loveland Housing Authority/Green House Homes

Nightlight Christian Adoptions

Audubon Rockies

Crossroads Safehouse

McKee Medical Center Foundation

Early Childhood Council

OpenStage Theatre & Company

Ensight Skills Center

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

Centennial Mental Health Center 

KUNC/Colorado Sound

It’s easy to donate through ColoradoGives.org, and every gift, no matter how large or small can make a big impact.

“At A-Train, we have always believed that giving is a key component to running a strong business,” says Gretchen Gaede, president of A-Train. “The best way to lead by example, whether leading a team, your family or peers, is to practice generosity. Whenever I am in a position to give, I remember that there is always someone that has needs greater than mine.”

From all of us at A-Train… Happy Holidays!

How to Sell Content Marketing Internally from a Fort Collins Marketing Agency

Fort Collins marketing agency - content marketing

Is your company currently using a more traditional marketing approach? Are your outreach efforts focused on providing prospects with reasons to buy your products and services? If you are also considering making the move to content marketing, you may have to “sell” the idea to upper management. At our Fort Collins marketing agency, we know that some executives have never heard of content marketing and they might be somewhat skeptical.

However, while they may be reluctant to authorize the new strategy, you can certainly make them believers. You just have to be well prepared to explain the benefits many companies are experiencing with inbound marketing and how you see this new approach being implemented at your company.  

What to Say to the C-Suite

In order to make converts of the C-suite, approach the conversation this way:

Outline your goals and your plan. Executives are focused on concrete goals and how to achieve them. They don’t buy into gut feeling, wishful thinking or passing trends. So, the fact that you are very passionate about content marketing isn’t likely to sway them. So, present them with a plan that includes specific steps and detailed figures (estimates on new leads, new newsletter subscribers, etc.).

Anticipate objections. You will probably get some pushback from your executives. Take a little time to think about their reservations and how to address them. They may think of content marketing as unproven, time-consuming, expensive, etc. We encourage our Fort Collins marketing clients to be ready to counter all those arguments.

Explain the concept of content repurposing. One of the first aspects of content marketing that executives tend to question is the need to create a large content library. But, you can put their mind at ease by explaining that your company probably already has a great deal of material and that all you have to do is provide a quick polishing and it can be published.

Pitch a pilot project. Nobody says content marketing is an “all or nothing” proposition. Suggest that your team conduct a pilot program that tests how your target market will react to content marketing. All it takes is a small taste of success to wet an executive’s appetite for more!

Caution them about your competitors. The truth is, your competitors are probably either using a content marketing strategy already (and growing their market share) or soon to be implementing one.  And, if those companies establish themselves as a “go to” source for great content before you do, grabbing the attention of your target audience will be exponentially harder.

Helping Upper Management See the Light

At A-Train Marketing, we’re a leading Fort Collins marketing firm with extensive expertise and experience in content marketing. We can help you craft a content marketing plan that impresses your executives and helps get you the green light to move forward. Give us a call.

5 Tips for Saying More with Your Email Signature Block

Denver marketing agency - email

As a full-service Denver marketing agency, our job is to help you get eyes on your product and service offerings. We do that in a number of ways, including by crafting an effective marketing strategy, updating your branding, creating advertising campaigns, enhancing your social media presence, etc. However, another very simple way to get some attention is by adding information and links to your email signature block.

People are curious by nature, whether they are interested in the content of your email or not, they’ll often scroll down just to see the name and title of the person contacting them. This gives you an excellent opportunity to try for a second time (i.e., in addition to the info in the body of the email) to get them to engage with you.

Great Ways to Get Them to Click

Here are some things you can do to entice recipients into taking the next step and clicking a link in your email:

  • Tempt them with a new piece of marketing content. That infographic, case study or e-book you recently collaborated on with your Denver marketing agency may be just what your recipient was looking for. So, provide a link to a page where they can learn more about it and download it if they are interested. The beauty of offering it to them in this passive way is that they won’t feel like you’re pushing it on them. Rather, it’s just there for the taking if they want it.  
  • Provide information on an upcoming event. When and where is your user conference this year, or that “meet and greet” you are coordinating? Here, again, provide a link to a page with more details. And, don’t limit yourself to your company’s events. You can let recipients know about any gathering you think they might be interested in (an event sponsored by one of your business partners, for example).
  • Use an interesting stat as a tantalizing tease. For someone even remotely interested in your offering, a teaser like “New research shows that users of our product cut their energy bills by a staggering percentage. Learn more.” is almost impossible to resist.
  • Announce a discount or incentive. Everybody loves hearing that they can save some money. A note in your signature block is a subtle way to let them know.
  • Invite input. Customer feedback not only helps you improve your operations, the fact that you asked for it shows customers and prospects that you are working hard to meet their needs. So, provide a link to a survey or a comment form.

A Great Use for Otherwise Wasted Space

As a leading Denver marketing agency, we emphasize to our long list of clients that every little bit of awareness and attention from prospects helps. Making good use of your signature block is just one example. Give us a call to find out how we can help you meet your marketing objectives.

7 E-Book Best Practices from a Denver Marketing Company

Denver marketing company - E-Books

As any Denver marketing company will tell you, when written, designed and promoted properly, e-books can be a powerful component of your content marketing strategy. Not only do they engage and inform prospects, they can help establish your company as a thought leader and a reliable source of industry information.

And, of course, if you make your e-books available on your website, your ever-growing library earns you points with Google. While the search giant likes to see you adding material of any length to your site, recent changes to its algorithm are said to look favorably on longer, more in-depth works.

Creating Exceptional E-Books

Producing a good e-book requires an investment of time, effort, and resources. Consequently, you want to be sure that your end product delivers. Here are some best practices for creating and promoting e-books that your audience will love:

  • Use an eye-catching design. With all the content out there competing for a reader’s attention, it’s important that your e-book stands out. Be sure that the cover of the piece AND the internal pages are visually appealing. You want the information and the layout to work together to produce a very positive reading experience.
  • Write a title that gets noticed. A title that is accurate but boring will put your e-book at a disadvantage. People tend to be more likely to open an e-book if the title is enticing, challenging, or humorous. However, be sure to keep it short, as you don’t want it to be truncated when displayed online.
  • Create scannable content. As a leading Denver marketing company, we know from experience that readers today have a short attention span. Using bulleted lists, numbered steps, and other brief and easily scanned sections will help ensure they stay engaged.
  • Use credible outside sources when possible. The information you can gather internally to use in your e-book may be very good, but if you can augment it with the insights or opinion of someone outside your organization, that can be very influential to your readers.
  • Have clear and compelling CTAs. Regardless of what you’re sharing in your e-book, you want the reader to take action. Be sure they know why and how to do that.
  • Tease your audience. Nothing will make a member of your target audience more eager to dive into your e-book than having to wait for it. Before you publish the piece, let people know that it is coming.
  • Promote your e-book vigorously. Simply announcing that your e-book is now available on your website may not do much to drive readership. You’ve got to promote it a number of times in a number of ways.

Let’s Get You Published

A-Train is a leading Denver marketing company offering the full spectrum of content creation and strategy services. If you want to start integrating e-books into your content marketing efforts, we can help. Give us a call!

Fort Collins Marketing Firm Offers Influencer Marketing Tips

Fort Collins marketing - influencer marketingInfluencer marketing is the practice of reaching out to individuals or groups whose opinion carries significant weight in your market in order to educate them about your brand. The hope, of course, is that they will make a favorable comment about your products or services. And, when it is read or heard by their audience, they will contact you to learn more. As an experienced Fort Collins marketing firm, we know that taking advantage of this kind of powerful (and free!) advertising can give your company a tremendous lift.

Your Marketing Megaphone

In order be successful in influencer marketing, you have to have a plan. Simply emailing trendsetters in your industry to say, “Hey! Check us out!” will not be effective. In fact, it will likely turn people off. Here are some things you should do:

  • Define your goals. What are you looking to accomplish in contacting influencers? Are you trying to get attention for a particular marketing campaign? Do you want to grow your social media following? Is the objective to get more people to sign up for a virtual event? By clearly identifying your goal, you make it much easier to assess your progress in that direction and adjust course as needed.
  • Do your research. An influencer will want to see that you know who they are and what they’re about. The better you understand their perspective on your industry, the better you can tailor your message to them. The last thing you want to do is irritate someone who has the power to speak either positively or negatively about your company!
  • Start small. From our decades of experience in Fort Collins marketing, we know that in every industry there are gurus who are the big fish, the minnows, and every size in between. In order to get the attention of the most notable names, you will, in all likelihood, have to have had some success with the lower tier influencers.
  • Always contact them individually. Influencers have neither the time nor the patience to open and read a mass email. Your initial outreach needs to be specifically written to them. Later, when they’ve come to see the value in your offering, they may sign up for your newsletter or other mass communication. But, initially, you need to contact them directly.
  • Be transparent. Influencers don’t get to their position by being easily swayed. Don’t try to disguise our pitch. Be honest. Tell them why you are contacting them and that you are hoping they’ll check out your offering and recognize its benefits.
  • Give and receive. It may seem like you have nothing to offer an influencer, but they appreciate a shout out just like anybody else — especially if it grows their audience by even a few members. And there might be other things of value you can share, like an industry survey you paid to conduct, for example.
  • Provide what they need to understand you. If an influencer says they want to learn more about your company, have a set of materials prepared that gives them a quick and clear overview. But don’t overwhelm them. Provide only what they ask for and nothing more.

Spread the Word

It will take some time and effort to develop a relationship with an influencer. But once you’ve earned their trust and respect, they can be a very effective advocate for your brand. And best of all, their “advertising” for you is free!

A-Train is a leading Fort Collins marketing firm, with extensive experience in connecting clients with industry influencers. How can we help you? Give us a call and let’s talk about your needs!

Social Media and Charitable Giving

Social Media

Social media has become a powerful tool when disaster hits and humanitarian needs arise.

People in affected areas can use platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to let loved ones know they’re alright, stay abreast of response efforts and prepare for escalation. But for businesses and individuals outside afflicted areas, these networks provide another invaluable use: fundraising for charitable giving.

Brands such as Subaru, Coca-Cola, Kellogg Company, and Disney have used social media to raise funds for disaster relief and other worthy causes, from Make-A-Wish Foundation to Meals on Wheels to the National Parks Foundation. Individuals have created impressive results as well: perhaps the most recognized effort, by J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans, raised over $37M through more than 209,000 donations by its September 15 deadline.

Today, social users have a growing desire to play an active role in deciding where their donations go and who stewards those funds. This – combined with the ability for users to instantaneously donate and engage when they see a campaign – puts organizations in a unique position.

Once you identify a worthwhile cause you’d like to fundraise for – whether it’s disaster relief for incidents like hurricane relief or a dollar-for-dollar drive for a nonprofit – take these steps to ensure your efforts impact your audience and community.

  1. Identify a multi-channel approach to reach your audience and to motivate them to act. This can take the form of Facebook advertising, sponsored posts and organic audience engagement on your social channels.
  2. Establish a deadline for giving and a short, clear call to action. This motivates the audience to take more immediate steps by giving them a clear cause-and-effect.
  3. Make it worthwhile to act. Ensure that matching donations or action from your organization will also have an impact so users feel that they’re joining an effort, not just financially supporting it.
  4. Make it easy to act. Don’t ask your audience to donate and then make it too difficult for them to actually do so. With nearly 17 percent of online donations made on a mobile device last year, it’s important to ensure that the donation process is quick and easy by making donation pages mobile friendly. Additionally, embed a clear, large “Donate” button on related pages and emails.
  5. Engage your audience and follow-up. Once you receive donations and reach your goal, don’t leave donors high and dry. Capitalize on the participation – especially if users submitted photos or videos to trigger a company donation – by aggregating it all. Also, make sure to send a follow-up communication that highlights the success of the campaign.

Whether you take advantage of trending tags such as #GivingTuesday or jump in to raise funds for a more timely event, leveraging the engagement power of social media can benefit both your brand and your community.

Denver Marketing Firms Often Hear These 5 Content Marketing Misconceptions

Denver marketing firms - Content MarketingFor companies that are new to the idea of content marketing and unfamiliar with how the strategy actually works, there tend to be many misconceptions. As one of the top Denver marketing firms, A-Train hears a lot of them. So, while the list is long, we thought we’d set the record straight on some of the most common areas of confusion.

Much-Needed Clarity on Content Marketing

Not sure what to think about content marketing? We’ll clear things up for you a bit by correcting these five common misconceptions:

  • Content marketing is only for B2C companies with cool products. It’s true that the content marketing campaigns that go viral and make the news tend to be for consumer-focused companies with “hip” offerings. However, “going viral” is great, but it isn’t the goal. The focus of content marketing is earning the trust, and ultimately the business, of your target market. And, that works for any organization in any vertical.
  • Content marketing sounds so easy that there must be a catch. The problem here is that people sometimes confuse “easy” and “effective.” Content marketing requires focus, resources, and consistent effort (so it’s not easy, per se), but it delivers outstanding results. No catch!
  • Content marketing is about SEO, and we’re good there. While consistently producing high-quality content and making it available on your website will definitely help you in the search rankings, that’s not the sole focus of content marketing. As noted above, it’s really about earning trust by making a name for your company as one that has expertise and is willing to share it freely.
  • When you’re just giving your content away you can’t track how effective your efforts are. This one is just plain wrong. Analytics are easily captured in content marketing. In fact, using data to refine your content and determine how and when it is best presented is at the core of content marketing strategy.
  • Content marketing is expensive. Also not true. Create an infographic, post it on your website, mention it on social media, and voila… you’re a content marketer. Now, of course, as you scale that process, it can be very helpful to work with one of the leading Denver marketing firms. But how much assistance you get from an agency like A-Train is entirely up to you.

The Truth Shall Set You Free!

If misconceptions about content marketing have kept you on the fence about it, it’s time to dive in! And if you’re researching Denver marketing firms, we encourage you to talk with us. We’ve got nearly two decades of experience in helping clients achieve their marketing goals. Give us a call and let’s talk about what our full-service agency can do for you.

Marketing Firms in Denver say You Should Consume Your Own Content

marketing firms in Denver - Group of friends share a mealIf your organization is like most, you conceive, draft, publish, and refine your content with one group in mind: your target audience. However, as one of the leading marketing firms in Denver, we remind our clients of another group of consumers they should keep in mind: their own staff. Why? Read on…

Benefits of Sharing Your Content Internally

As you’re working to get that excellent content you’ve created in front of the right people, don’t forget that your own staff can take advantage of it. Here are some of the many benefits of having them check out what you’ve created:

  • Get everyone on the same page. If you want your prospects and customers to trust you, you have to be sure that they are hearing the same message from all areas of your organization—sales, support, the C suite, etc. Your marketing content can help with that. Although it isn’t created for the purpose of standardizing how your staff talks about your products and services, it can have that unintended benefit if people are encouraged to read it.
  • Smash your silos. Not only can consuming your own content ensure that your employees communicate accurately and effectively with your prospects, it can help them communicate more clearly with one another. It’s easy to believe that everyone in your organization has the same understanding of your products and services, but often that’s not the case, as each department sees things a little differently. Promoting your content internally can help break down those walls.
  • Ensure clarity and consistency. While your content surely goes through review and approval steps, that quality assurance process is probably performed by a few people at best. Encouraging your employees to consume your content puts many more well-trained eyes on your material and can help you catch inaccuracies.
  • Generate new content ideas. As you’ll hear from any of the leading marketing firms in Denver, more often than not if you ask someone in your company for ideas for new content, they’ll struggle to come up with any. However, when they start paying attention to the material you’re producing and can come to you with ideas as they arise, you’ll likely get many more suggestions.
  • Get more help. As people start to understand how good, and important, the content you’re producing is, it becomes easier to get assistance from subject matter experts. Not only do they understand that they are making a significant contribution to the company’s marketing efforts, they know that people around the company will see what they’ve helped produce, and take a sense of pride in that.

It’s Time for Some Home Cookin’!

You’ve worked hard to create killer content. So, be sure that you’re getting all the value you can out of it. This includes “feeding” it to your own coworkers. If you’ve got questions about how best to leverage your marketing content, give us a call. As one of the top marketing firms in Denver for nearly two decades, we’ve got answers.

One of the Top Denver Marketing Agencies Gives Content Curation Tips

Content Curation

Content curation involves finding, organizing, and displaying information on a particular topic or area of interest. Companies that use a content marketing strategy can take advantage of curated content to augment their own content creation efforts. As all of the leading Denver marketing agencies will tell you, a mix of original and curated content will help you build a loyal audience.

7 Content Curation Considerations

Follow these guidelines to get the most out of your content curation efforts:

  • Always give proper credit. Let’s be clear: content curation is not stealing or plagiarism. Rather, it should be seen as the helpful sharing of content created by others. That said, you must clearly indicate the author of any material that you share with your audience. And, if an author requests that their material not be shared, you must respect that request.
  • Curate from a variety of content types. Your audience will take the greatest interest in your curated content if you give them variety. Companies new to curation may think it always involves the sharing of written materials, but you can use any type of material — video, infographics, audio recordings, you name it!
  • Add your perspective. When you select a piece of content to share, it should be something you find interesting or informative. Telling your audience what you like about it provides them with helpful context and also brings the attention back to your company.
  • Provide a sample only. When you curate content, give your audience a sample of another’s work, not the entire piece. Ideally, the curated material should highlight some aspect of your own original work.
  • Look to others in your ecosystem first. One of the best places from which to curate material is your business partners, vendors, etc. For example, a printer might look to the Denver marketing agencies with which it does business. Not only can you be sure you’re providing information your audience will find relevant, you’ll also be doing a favor for the author who will, hopefully, do the same for you one day.
  • Track a piece’s performance. You should monitor how your audience receives any piece of content you put out, whether it includes curated material or not.
  • Be a taker, and a giver. If others approach you about using content that you’ve created — or simply use it and indicate you are the author — you should give them your blessing unless you have a compelling reason not to. What goes around comes around!

Making Use of the Amazing Content Out There

With so much great content available in the world, you’d be foolish not to take advantage of some of it periodically.  And, your audience will thank you for it. Have questions about how to integrate content curation into your outreach efforts? As one of the leading Denver marketing agencies, we can answer them. Contact us today!

Leader Among Denver Marketing Agencies Shares Storytelling Sources

Storytelling

Storytelling… It was the first form of “marketing” centuries ago, and it’s still the most powerful form today. Organizations that do it well find that they quickly build an engaged and loyal audience. However, many companies don’t use storytelling simply because they don’t feel they have a story to tell. As one of the leading Denver marketing agencies, we know that’s just not true.

5 Excellent Places to Find Inspiration

Where does the material for interesting and compelling stories come from? The fact is, it’s all around you:

  • Your clients or customers. Your prospects want to know who these people/organizations are, why they use your products and services, etc. And, they want that information to be in story form. “Jim uses our software to streamline processes and increase ROI” may be true, but it’s not interesting. “Jim is an avid sports fan who coaches not one, not two, but three youth soccer teams! Completing his work quickly and accurately means he can leave the office in time to be a leader and mentor to a group of kids who are discovering their passion for the game.” Now readers can make a human connection. If you’ve got customers, you’ve got stories.
  • Your staff. Here again, a high-level intro is fine (“Mary is our client satisfaction manager, and her role is to…”), but, the more detail you provide, the better. “Mary developed her desire to ensure client satisfaction after having a number of frustrating interactions with customer service organizations herself…” Our team at A-Train includes people who are among the best at Denver marketing agencies, so you’ll see we like to share their stories.
  • Your organization. You can get great mileage out of telling stories about your company that go deeper than when it was founded and what its focus is. So, why was the company started? Has its focus shifted over time? What does the company do to make its community a better place? How has the organization failed at times and how does it recover from missteps?
  • Your products and services. And you want to steer clear of “features and benefits” here. Instead, tell readers how and why your offerings have evolved. Or share some tidbits on how your product development process works. Explain what it’s like at the company in the sometimes stressful weeks before a new offering is announced.
  • Your take on current events. Stories related to what’s currently in the news can give you a nice short-term SEO boost, but they also help your audience understand who you are and what you’re about based on your perspective.

Helping You Write Your Next Chapter

As one of the leading Denver marketing agencies, we’ve got years of experience helping our clients uncover, fine-tune, and promote the stories that make them unique. What engaging tales can be told about your organization? Let’s get together to talk about it! Contact us today.