Know When to Hold ‘Em and Know When to Fold ‘Em

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Kenny Rogers taught the world an important lesson with his famous line from the song “The Gambler.” As marketers, we are constantly pushing our clients to put time and resources into strategies that “work amazingly well” over things that just “work okay.” Thankfully today there are so many data-driven ways to measure success. Stop investing in programs just because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” and reinvest in programs that will yield a solid ROI and create connections to your brand.

At PRNewswire’s Marketing & Communications Leadership Roundtable Lunch, Akamai’s CMO, Brad Rinklin, shared great insights for smart marketing and PR, followed by thoughtful discussion at our table of communications pros. Rinklin reminded the audience to “cull as much as you create,” and it prompted me to share the following examples of 3 things to hold, and 3 things to fold:

 Hold ‘Em

  1. Visualization – Explain the unexplainable visually as Akamai has done beautifully with the image below. Imagery and video are impactful ways to communicate advanced technologies and complex manufacturing processes that are hard to verbally explain.akamai2
  2. Data – Everyone is talking about “big data,” but often it’s difficult to find the resources to translate it effectively. Invest in this! Package meaningful data into something people care about and make it digestible for the media and consumers. Data legitimizes what you are trying to sell.
  3. Calls-to-action (yes, I’m Captain Obvious) – Give your audience a clear call-to-action that engages them further (enter to win, view a video, share with friends, etc.). You’ll win big if you give people a good reason to engage like prizes and perks. 451’s digital guru Max Silver reminded our team yesterday that people are more apt to enter a contest if 1) the prize is AWESOME and 2) the odds sound good with multiple options to win.

Fold ‘Em

  1. Corporate videos (with too much branding) – Even beautifully produced videos won’t go beyond your intranet or sales meeting if they are too promotional. Videos are one of most impactful communication tools, so keep it real and find natural ways to weave in your messaging.
  2. Unrealistic expectations – Shoot for the moon but know that your for-profit company that doesn’t overtly help people may not be able to launch the next Ice Bucket Challenge. Develop a creative campaign that suits your business.
  3. Trying to do too much at once – In PR for instance, we usually have a ton of creative ideas for story angles, but typically the best results come out of targeted campaigns instead of casting a wide net. Come up with a clear plan to maintain a steady drumbeat of earned media coverage without wasting resources.

“Every gambler knows, that the secret to survivin’, is knowin’ what to throw away, and knowin’ what to keep.”

Heather Smith

Heather Smith is a PR Senior Account Director at 451 Marketing!

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