Coping with COVID-19: How to Keep Marketing Proactive, Positive, and Productive

Marketing to an audience that’s homebound during a pandemic requires advertisers and marketers to think creatively and compassionately while embarking on challenging, newfound territory. So how do you keep clients engaged in this coronavirus age—while still adhering to pandemic protocol and promoting positive messaging?

Engage with Clients and Their Needs on an Individual Basis

It’s important to remember that this pandemic has impacted every person and business, but in many different ways. Keep in contact with your clients by assessing their needs individually.

What does this specific client need from me right now to feel protected and secure? Who are my clients and businesses that are considered essential? Which clients are just trying to keep business flowing? What clients have been severely impacted by COVID-19? From there, sort each of your clients into categories and determine the best way you can provide help.

For Essential Clients and Businesses:

  • Offer what support you can via email
  • Repost and share their messages on social media
  • Send them your product or service free of charge as a thank you

For Clients and Businesses Who Want to Keep Business Moving:

  • Suggest projects or services that you have been meaning to get to, or that require downtime to execute properly
  • Share their messages on social media
  • Offer brainstorming sessions to generate new projects and ideas

For Clients and Business Who Have Been Greatly Impacted:

  • Offer your support and call them to check in
  • Send them your product or service free of charge

Keep Social Media Relevant and Stay Connected

Social media and online consumption are at an all-time high right now. When marketing to an audience via social media it’s crucial that you change up your messaging to make it relevant and timely to what is occurring in the world. You might think your customers are sick and tired of seeing social posts about the virus but ignoring the situation at hand can make you appear out of touch.

Tips for social media:

  • Share positive, uplifting stories from clients
  • Build up your community by sharing posts about local businesses and organizations
  • Reward people for participating in online activities—like webinars and giveaways
  • Give hope through your social media without appearing out of touch

Tips for Online Messaging:

  • Share situation-sensitive content
  • Authentically comfort your audience
  • Be a part of the solution and inspire action
  • Proactively communicate
  • Appropriately connect

Now is the time to build trust with your clients and show them that you have their backs. People are looking for strong leaders to take charge, giving companies a clear opportunity to be there to support their clients and their businesses. When it comes to your marketing tactics, be strategic and have a concise timeline and messaging plan. Keep in mind that all messaging and content should be proactive, positive, and productive in order to keep clients and customers engaged and to ensure that we will get through this together.

Programmatic in a Pandemic: How and Why It Benefits You

With social distancing policies and stay-at-home orders in place, everything and everyone are currently online. While many campaigns, events, and plans have had to be rescheduled, revamped, or even cancelled, there are some opportunities that come with this “new normal”. For marketers and advertisers, now is the time to take advantage of programmatic advertising. 

What is Programmatic Advertising?

If you have never heard of the term “programmatic,” the general definition simply means a form of digital display advertising. In the world of marketing and advertising, it’s a method of using software to automatically purchase digital advertisements on a network of websites and apps to viewers who meet precise targeting criteria.

So How Does it Work?

Through this process, advertisers can use exclusive data that is obtained through users’ browsing history, cookies, IP addresses, online purchases, and more. Advertisers can use this data to their advantage, and display ads that are directly related to a person’s online behavior.

A simple programmatic tactic that people are most familiar with is retargeting. For example, let’s say you own a cleaning service and you spend an hour or two searching for the some of the best, eco-friendly household cleaning products. You read reviews, watch a few cleaning videos, and then you exit out of your browser. At a later date, as you are browsing the web, you see an ad promoting a company’s all-natural bathtub cleaner.

Why it Works:

This “audience-first” works so effectively because it targets a certain individual instead of speaking to a vast audience who might not have any interest or need for your product or service.

Another great point: this technique is 100% trackable, delivering detailed data on clicks, click-throughs, video views, time on a site, bounce rates, form fills and more.

Advertisers can benefit from buying digital media programmatically for a multitude of reasons:

  1. People are at home, spending more time online, and making online purchases, or at least researching products and services for future purchases.
  2. The programmatic tactic allows advertisers to purchase quickly and efficiently, relying on less “man-power” because it’s completely automated!
  3. It can be a cost-effective option because the advertising inventory is purchased at a larger quantity.
  4. Digital ads are relatively easy to create, and do not require production studios or teams, like television or radio spots.
  5. It can launch quickly. Once you place advertising, it can be up and running in a couple of days.

Results:

Think programmatic only works for the retailers of the world? Think again! The D&A media team has implemented successful programmatic advertising campaigns for healthcare systems, attorneys, public safety initiatives, nonprofits, professional service providers, and more.

  • Vectren 2019 Digital Marketing Campaign of the Year — American Marketing Association Baltimore. The Don’t Be That Guy Public Service Campaign had a 66% video completion rate compared to the industry benchmark of 60%, as well as a .10% blended clickthrough rate compared to the 0.5% industry benchmark. As a result, three out of four people agreed that Vectren ensures public safety.
  • Carroll Hospital – The Family Birthplace Campaign significantly raised awareness for the hospital’s expansion. Results included nearly 3.6 million digital impressions on a small nonprofit-sized budget, a .31% overall display advertising clickthrough rate—more than 6x the national benchmark, and more.
  • Carroll Hospital2019 Award of Excellence for Community Relations – Mid-Atlantic Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development. The Health Esteem Campaign succeeded in boosting call volumes to the service by 7.3% and achieved a digital newspaper ad clickthrough rate 24x higher than the industry benchmark for all display advertising.

Learn More:

Interested in creating a programmatic strategy of your own? Contact us today for a personalized plan, we would be happy to put you on the right track!

The Secrets to a Better Agency-Client Relationship

The average agency-client relationship lasts 3 years. But at Devaney & Associates, many of our clients stay with us for 5, 10, and even 20+ years. Some of our benchmark-beating client relationships include:

  • Carroll Hospital, together since 1997
  • Georgia Relay, 2008
  • MJM Innovations, 2008
  • Maryland Hospital Association, 2010
  • Brotman Financial Group, 2012
  • Presbyterian Senior Living, 2012
  • EVAPCO, 2014
  • Route One Apparel, 2015
  • Leadership Maryland, 2014
  • Chase Brexton Health Care, 2016

So What's the secret to our long-term love connections?

“It has everything to do with our mantra: marketing with brains, hustle, and heart. Our team culture is one that values attitude and work ethic just as much as it values expertise,” explains president and founder Diane Devaney. “We work really hard to find the right people to be a part of the D&A team—people that we know our clients can count on no matter what.”

With that in mind, we asked our team members to reveal how they help keep the spark alive in our client relationships.

The Media Department: 

“Never take a day off when you’re protecting the client’s dollars.”

In the media department, we are often the keeper of the largest part of our clients’ marketing budgets: the advertising dollars. This is a responsibility we do not take lightly. Our clients know we are their advocates. We treat their money as we would our own, and fight for every dollar. We track every placement, continually assess campaigns for their effectiveness, and report on ROI—every step of the way.

The creative Department: 

“Put the brand first and leave your ego at the door.”

At some agencies, the creative is all about them: their egos and their awards. There is a lot of naval-gazing, pushback against client feedback, and treating one’s ideas as if they were precious. We take pride in being a “diva-free” creative team. Our first priority is our client’s brand: presenting ideas that push their business goals and their brand forward.

The Account Services Team:

“Be a good partner. Not just a good vendor.”

Our clients stick with us because they know we’ve got their back beyond today’s project. We answer their calls. We always have a solution or a next step. We keep them informed so they never feel like they’re in the dark. It all sounds simple—but when agencies start to take their clients for granted, these are the first things that go out the window.

The Public Relations Team:

“Honest communication is the best policy.”

Open and honest communication is key to sustaining any long-term relationship, and in the PR department, we make sure our clients always feel heard and understood. Through meaningful media placements, compelling original content, and useful and fun social media personas, our clients trust us to make certain their audiences stay informed and engaged.

Get the agency love you deserve. 

Contact us to learn how we can help you woo audiences with your next marketing project. We can help you with any brand challenge including: 

  • Marketing Strategy
  • Branding Strategy
  • Logo Development
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Media Buying
  • Website Development
  • Social Media Management 
  • Market Research
  • Content Marketing
  • Direct Marketing
  • Video 
  • Marketing Collateral 

The Social Value of Marketing: Serving Our Veterans

U.S. soldier holding a "hire me" sign
Marketing can help connect veterans to jobs and other life-changing services.

The business value of marketing is fairly obvious: Grow your customer base. Grow your sales. Grow your profits. Yes, please! But there’s an equally important value to marketing that often gets overlooked: the educational and social value of marketing.

Good marketing can connect people to information, products, and services that help them overcome barriers. Protect their health. Safeguard their families. And change their lives and their communities for the better.

In honor of Veterans Day, we’d like to recognize our clients who are using the power of marketing to help meet one of our greatest social needs: caring for and supporting those who have served our nation.

Project Sanctuary

This summer, our public relations team had the honor of raising awareness for Project Sanctuary, a non-profit that hosts therapeutic retreats all over the country for military families in need. Their evidenced-based program is the only program that treats the entire family, helping veterans, spouses, caregivers, and kids heal together

We secured invaluable media coverage for Project Sanctuary’s first-ever Maryland-based retreat, helping introduce the nonprofit’s healing services to families and potential donors in the Maryland, DC and Northern Virginia region.

Visit the Project Sanctuary website to learn more about their work.

Project Sanctuary logo
Carroll Hospice logo

Carroll Hospice

For its efforts in addressing the specialized needs of veteran patients, Carroll Hospice has been recognized as a Level Four hospice care provider (the highest level awarded) within the national We Honor Veterans program. Their commitment includes honoring every veteran patient with a special presentation; facilitating bereavement and support services for veterans and their families in partnership with the VA; and educating staff and the community about the challenges veterans face at the end of life.

In Carroll Hospice’s most recent integrated marketing campaign, we were able to help them increase hospice patient days (the amount of time a patient spends in hospice care) by 47%. That means families are seeking hospice care sooner, thus enabling Carroll Hospice to provide greater comfort and support for patients earlier in the disease process.

Learn more about Carroll Hospice’s We Honor Veterans program.

Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation (AAWDC)

When veterans transition into civilian life, many struggle to find work in a world where the military is no longer their primary identity. Furthermore, many businesses want to hire veterans but have no idea how to make it happen.

AAWDC logo

As part of their overall workforce development efforts, AAWDC is working to fix this by uniting veterans and businesses through innovative career navigation programs. We are proud to support their efforts with branding and marketing plans designed to clarify their complex message and raise awareness among veterans, businesses, government officials, and the community at large.

You can explore all of AAWDC’s services for veterans and their spouses here.

Senior man using Captioned Telephone

State Relays

Relay services are state-administered public services that help people who have difficulty using a standard telephone stay connected. Each year, they serve countless veterans who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have difficulty speaking due to aging or injury. 

As the marketing partner for Maryland Relay, Virginia Relay, and many other states, we have helped educate veterans about Relay’s life-changing telecommunications services.

We’ve also helped state Relay services connect veterans to free telecommunications equipment, such as captioned telephones, hands-free phones, and wheelchair pad phone switches. These telecommunications solutions provide simple but powerful benefits that many of us take for granted; they help veterans feel less isolated, conduct business, keep in touch with friends and family, and remain safe and independent in their own homes.

You can earn more about how we have supported state Relay services here.

Thank you to the men & women of the united states military, as well as all first responders, for their dedication, sacrifice & service to our country.

team d&A

How Can We Help You Serve Others?

If you have an audience-in-need that you are trying to better serve, Devaney & Associates can help. We have a proud history of partnering with non-profit organizations to create powerful, effective, and cost-efficient marketing tools that raise awareness, increase participation, and generate much-needed donor support. 

Call us at 410-296-0800 or contact us online today to see how we can support your mission.

 

The Power of Storytelling on Your Website (A Case Study)

Photo shoot with a former Tuerk House patient and now employee whose inspiring story helped our site come to life

It’s time for our third entry in Webapalooza—a look at how we use the power of great web design and development to help our clients overcome their marketing hurdles. In past entries, we’ve demonstrated how a website can help you reposition your brand and engage a diverse mix of target audiences.

Today, we’ll examine our work for Tuerk House and how a website can use storytelling to emotionally connect with your target audience in a way that sets you apart from your competition.

"Messages delivered as stories can be up to 22 times more memorable than just facts."

Forbes, “A Good Presentation is About Data and Story”

Tuerk House: Opening the Doors to Recovery

Tuerk House is a pioneering leader in the Baltimore recovery community. The nonprofit’s mission is to “transform lives by providing help and hope for enduring recovery to individuals, families and communities in the Baltimore metropolitan area who are struggling with addiction to alcohol and/or drugs.”

Before: Tuerk House’s Website Challenges

Challenge #1:  An existing—and severely outdated—website that did not even scratch the surface of Tuerk House’s story or offerings. When we first met Tuerk House, the organization was going through a transformation. It had expanded locations and services, including operating the first crisis stabilization center in Maryland for individuals who have overdosed. The website was not only missing this information, it did not include information on admissions, where services were offered, and other critical messages.

Challenge #2:  Donations to the nonprofit had dwindled, and so had messaging for potential donors. The previous site’s only request for support was a small “donate” button that linked to a PayPal account. However, Tuerk House was working to improve their internal fundraising efforts—adding a dedicated fundraising department, as well as embarking on major capital improvement projects on their main campus.

After: A Site Powered by Stories of Hope

Our team worked closely with clinical staff and Tuerk House leadership to ensure we created a site that would resonate with patients’ families, referral sources, and donors—as well as stay ahead of the competition.

While the aging facility got an update, we wanted to focus on the people of Tuerk House, and the hope that resides there. To do so, we shot custom photography at various locations around Baltimore, capturing the strength of the nonprofit and its people. To help inspire all our audiences, we interviewed former patients—some of whom are now current Tuerk House employeesand told their stories through written and video testimonials. 

We also created a donor page—making an initial case for support—for the first time in the facility’s recent history. This page laid the groundwork for the new fundraising team.

Tuerk House is thrilled with the site, from the executive director to the clinical providers and fund development team. Leadership finally feels like they have a website that shows how they’re working to transform lives in the Baltimore area, and will serve as a springboard for the next phase in their history.

Your Website Matters, Too!

Your website is one of your most valuable marketing assets. Don’t cut corners with DIY website builders and “fast and cheap” website solutions.

At Devaney & Associates, every site we create combines our exhaustive research, creativity, technological know-how, and well-oiled project management. This gives our clients 3 unbeatable advantages:

  1. Brand-building custom design and content
  2. A clear-cut strategy to convert visitors into leads or customers
  3. Content marketing tools to keep site visitors (and search engines!) engaged.

Contact us online or call us at 410-296-0800 to get the website your brand deserves.

Should You Rebrand Before Redesigning Your Website? (A Case Study)

Excel's Staging of the 2019 DC Swim Show
Excel Event & Lighting Solutions' event production for DC Swim Week 2019

Welcome back to Webapalooza—our celebration of the websites we’ve recently launched on behalf of our clients. Last entry, we looked at how a well-planned website helped a nonprofit health care provider better serve its patients while also growing its donor base.

Now it’s time to see how a growing B2B company used its website redesign as an opportunity to also reinvent its brand.

Excel Event & Lighting Solutions: Experiences Made Perfect

Excel Event & Lighting Solutions is a full-service event production company serving high-profile organizations throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Clients include the Baltimore Ravens, HBO, and the NCAA.

Excel combines everything event managers look for—anything-is-possible creativity, expert precision, and concierge-level service—into a single point of accountability. The result: delightfully perfect experiences for both the client and the client’s audience from start to finish.

Before: Excel’s Website Challenges

Challenge #1: The previous site (and overall brand identity) did not fully communicate Excel’s broad spectrum of event capabilities which includes planning, production, fabrication and décor, lighting design, and installation.

Challenge #2: The site’s language used vague promises like “excellent customer service” that did nothing to distinguish Excel from the competition. Copy described the company’s services, but did not offer up any differentiators. 

Challenge #3: The company was locked out of its existing website—an issue we see with increasing frequency. This occurs when a website was built years ago, and the client must rely on an expensive developer service contract to make edits.

Challenge #4: Excel felt the search engine optimization (SEO) plan was ineffective, a belief that our development team verified in one glance.

After: A New Brand First. Then a New Website to Match.

Our plan for Excel involved taking a step back—rebranding the company with a new name (from Excel Lighting Services to Excel Event & Lighting Solutions), new logo, and new brand positioning strategy and tagline (Experiences Made Perfect). This enabled us to help event managers not just understand what Excel does, but why they should choose Excel over the competition

Excel's Old Logo
Excel's Old Name & Logo
Excel's New Name, Logo & Tagline: Experiences Made Perfect
Excel's New Name, Logo & Tagline

We then tackled the web issues, writing and designing a new WordPress site that showcases those perfect experiences Excel is so adept at executing. Our creative team ensured site content sells and positions Excel, rather than just describes its services. Beautiful photos dominate the design and, combined with a minimalist site architecture, truly showcase the work. We also updated the organic SEO plan, writing page-by-page title and description tags to enhance search rankings and search engine user engagement.

Excel Home Page Design
We can bore you with all the technical details about how we helped Excel navigate the muddy waters of domain propagation, DNS records, and host transfer issues, but we will leave you to checking out the work—both ours and Excel’sat ExcelEventSolutions.com.

Is Your Website Clearly Communicating Your Difference?

At Devaney & Associates, we help companies turn their websites into one of their most valuable marketing assets with a dynamic suite of services that goes beyond web design and development. Our solutions can include:

  • Branding audits
  • Competitive analysis & market research
  • Brand identity & positioning statement development 
  • Website audits 
  • Web design or content refreshes
  • Content management, including blog and newsroom writing
  • Advertising, marketing & PR campaigns to drive people to your site

Contact us online or at 410-296-0800  to discuss how we can help you maximize your site’s value.