rule breaker

By Megan Hamby, Editorial Director

As marketers, we can often get bogged down in adhering to the “rules” or best practices of content marketing. How often should we post on social media? What’s the best time to send a weekly newsletter to customers? How frequently should we update our blog? 

And the list goes on and on. 

Do a quick Google search on “content marketing best practices” and you’ll find about 580 million results. And that advice is worthwhile—understanding your audience and buyer’s journey, using data and analytics, repurposing your content, and determining your brand messaging are all incredibly important when it comes to content marketing.

But I have another suggestion: Don’t be afraid to break the rules and do what works best for your company. 

Recently, our team was speaking with the senior content specialist for one of our clients. He schedules a weekly newsletter to be delivered to customers and prospects every Friday at 5 p.m. EST. 

That sounds crazy, right? Many studies suggest that the best time to send B2B emails is around 10 a.m. in the middle of the week. With that research in mind, sending an email at 5 o’clock on a Friday afternoon seems counterintuitive—but for this client, it works. He shared with us that his company has a 35% open rate (industry benchmarks are 17–28%) and receives 250–300 clicks on each email. When he shared this information with us, I was impressed—but also not surprised. That email newsletter is often the last email I receive before signing off on Friday afternoons, so I am guaranteed to open and read it. Our client wasn’t afraid to break the “rules” of email marketing—and his creative thinking yielded positive results.

What are some ways that your company can be creative with your marketing efforts? Contact us today if we can help.

Image: Getty Images



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.


By Megan Hamby, Editorial Director

In 1988, four men from Jamaica made history when they entered the bobsleigh race during the Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Jamaica—a country whose tropical climate keeps it warm year-round—had never competed in the Winter Games before. But after seeing a local pushcart derby, two American businessmen living in Jamaica proposed forming a bobsleigh team—and earned the support of the country’s Olympic Association.

Now, a Jamaican bobsleigh team is sure to attract attention no matter what. But when the U.S. ice hockey team was eliminated, American media stations needed to fill airtime—and chose to focus instead on the Jamaican bobsleigh team’s four-man event, leading even more people to learn of this unlikely team. 

Jamaica’s appearance at the 1988 Winter Olympics inspired the 1993 movie Cool Runnings, which was a box office success and grossed $154.9 million worldwide.

Now, 34 years later, people still know about the Jamaican bobsleigh team that made history—despite not even placing in the top 10. Why? It’s an amazing story.

When we watch the Olympics from our living rooms, it can be hard to connect with the athletes. After all, not many of us can do backflips on a snowboard or a triple axel on the ice rink. But we may be better relate to the snowboarder who battles depression, the women’s bobsleigh world champion who is raising a child with Down syndrome, or the teenage skier who was adopted—and after we read or hear their stories, we’ll remember their names and root for them from our living room couch. 

Author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek once said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

When we hear Olympians’ stories, they become real people who face challenges, setbacks, disappointments and triumphs. We hear their stories and we learn their “why.”

So what does any of this have to do with marketing? 

As marketers, we’re all constantly seeking out ways to connect with our audience. Storytelling should be a priority for marketers because it forms a human connection and elicits a response. Storytelling is a powerful tool for transmitting knowledge and information, and, when done correctly, it differentiates you from your competitors and makes you memorable to your customers.


As you settle in to watch the 2022 Winter Olympics, take a second to think about how you can tell your organization’s story—and give us a call for help.

Image: Getty Images



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.


By Megan Hamby, Editorial Director

What comes to mind when you think of “content marketing”? Chances are, you’re thinking about blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, how-to guides and e-books. While content marketing is all of those things, it would be foolish not to consider visual mediums as content marketing.

As an editor and a writer, I naturally love the art of the written word. But in today’s digital age, it should come as no surprise that a whopping 65% of people are visual learners, according to the Social Science Research Network. Visual elements, such as video, presentations and infographics, help marketers connect with their audiences even faster—in fact, research shows that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text in the brain.
 
I don’t know about you, but those numbers convince me of the importance of visual storytelling and have me brainstorming ways to incorporate more visuals into the content we deliver for our clients.

Take video, for example. YouTube has more than 2 billion logged-in monthly users and is the world’s second-most visited website (right after Google, its parent company). Plus, research shows that more than 50% of B2B decision makers use YouTube to research purchases, making it the most-used social platform for this purpose.

Video has been an important storytelling medium for clients we’ve worked with to present their messages compellingly and memorably. With one client, we interviewed CEOs and executives from various companies, allowing them to tell their own stories to be used at a conference. The videos were more engaging for the audience than, say, a brochure with the executives’ bios and work history.

Another example of visual content includes infographics, which are a helpful way to synthesize data and information in an easy-to-digest format. Peppering a slide deck with visual aids, such as infographics, can help your audience retain information. Research shows that people who are asked to recall information after a three-day period retain only 10% of what they heard during an oral presentation; 35% from a visual presentation; and 65% from an oral presentation with visuals. The data speaks for itself: Visuals are a win. 

As you kick off a new year, what’s on your content calendar that could benefit from a dynamic visual? Is it a blog post, accompanied by an infographic? An interview conducted on video or a how-to instructional video posted on your website? Or is it a presentation with 3D effects, infographics, powerful imagery and visually appealing colors? 

This year, we challenge you to think outside the box when it comes to delivering content. Contact us today to learn how we can help you use visuals to yield better results for your organization.

Image: Getty Images



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.


By: Rex Hammock, CEO

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of Hammock Inc. As we were then, we continue to be a marketing services company that specializes in providing custom media to companies, associations and other types of organizations

Many marketers are surprised to learn that, 30 years ago, there were just a few dozen agencies focused exclusively on serving marketers who use media tools, channels and venues in ways that help their clients and customers develop long-term relationships with their customers and members.

Recurring print magazines were our first specialty.

But soon, we evolved and expanded our services, providing a wide array of media to serve innovative marketers who use all forms of print and digital media.

Over the years, our clients have ranged from century-old magazines to startup healthcare companies. And our services have pivoted (as it is called these days) to provide an endless array of solutions, services, campaigns, recurring publications, video and, well, you get the picture.

To help give our friends a look into what we do, we decided to share some examples of the parts that can fit together to create—with our clients—effective content marketing solutions and desired results.

But we don’t view these as fill-in-the-blank projects and capabilities. To us, each one of these works represents a unique and strategic partnership custom media-designed and created to solve specific challenges and opportunities. Together they represent three decades of custom content that reminds us of the millions of customers, viewers, readers, members and supporters of organizations that our clients have given us the opportunity to serve, while creating and growing relationships that stand the test of time.

Association magazines (print and digital)
Employee magazines (print and digital)
Advertising sales
Books (print and e-books)
Blogs
Presentations
Infographics
Video
Websites and projects
Newsletters (print and digital)
Conference media
Conference ad sales
Creative design & direction
Employee media
And much more …

To learn more about marrying art and content to share your message, give us a call. We’d love to share examples of how we’ve solved challenges like yours. 



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.


HollywoodHills

By: John Lavey | Hammock President/COO

It used to be in the marketing agency world that you wanted to be all things to all people, and have everything under one roof. The problem with that model is that it may not enable you to match client needs with the best solution. You are able only to match client needs with the best solution you have in-house. It often results in generalists tasked with meeting highly specific needs.

As rapidly as the world of marketing is evolving and changing, at Hammock we see the need to find the best-in-class provider of services every single time: writers who are specialists in their field; photographers and videographers able to be deployed on a moment’s notice where they live; experts in preferred marketing automation platforms used by clients; paid push specialists with experience in the client’s industry.

We’ve made a business out of ensuring core competencies are in-house and then working with the best people in their respective disciplines, who are contractors to us on projects and recurring contracted work, and utilizing tried-and-true processes and platforms to ensure our control over workflows and our ability to provide the best client experience and deliver the best results.

We’ve used this method of delivering award-winning marketing media for 30 years, and worked with hundreds of team members outside our walls along the way. In a get-to-know-you call last week, while I was explaining what we do, the prospective client beat me to the punch line: “So, your company has ‘The Hollywood Model?’” Yes, indeed.

Movies and TVs have been made for decades by companies that gather subspecialties to serve on teams to execute the most entertaining content we all enjoy. In our view, it’s the most successful and efficient way to meet our clients’ needs.

Do you want specialists or generalists serving your marketing needs? Welcome to Hollywood.

Photo: Getty Images



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.


By Megan Hamby, Editorial Director
 
Last week, I received a call from my son’s day care director: He had been directly exposed to COVID-19 and his class would be closed for two weeks. I was, of course, immediately worried about my son’s health. But, for a moment, I felt overwhelmed at the thought of working from home for two weeks with a 3-year-old.
 
But when a friend asked if I was taking any time off while my son was home, I explained that I had not even considered it—because I knew Hammock would be flexible with my schedule. There were no complaints from my coworkers when my new 3-year-old intern joined the weekly Zoom staff meeting, or uproar when I needed to step away for an hour or so to prepare lunch and get him ready for naptime. We did what we always do: We adapted to the situation at hand.
 
When COVID-19 forced us to switch to a work-at-home arrangement in March 2020, we adapted to Zoom meetings and Basecamp chat messages. When a client asked us to press pause on all previously planned content last year and focus instead on coronavirus-related content, we quickly switched gears and developed a new content plan. Over the past year and a half, we have helped our clients rethink in-person events and conferences; change their content strategies; and build relationships with their customers.

Flexibility has long been part of our work culture at Hammock—even before the pandemic. For example, I worked at home two days a week before it became mainstream. One of our project managers even works in another state! I believe this culture of flexibility and adaptability is part of what has made us efficient at responding to our clients’ changing needs. We don’t let challenges get in our way—we simply find a way to work around them.

But flexibility in itself―in scheduling, physical work location, technology use or anything else―is not enough if you don’t have the fundamental skills in place to do the job the right way in the first place. At Hammock, as we have weathered moves, personnel changes, shifting economic conditions and more, we have never abandoned our core principles and skills. Even before the pandemic, we had the processes and platforms in place to help our clients succeed and achieve their goals. We have always been storytellers at heart, and what we excel at is learning our clients’ “stories” (and bits of hard-earned wisdom) and helping communicate them to a target audience in the most relevant and useful way possible. 
 
We’re not the only ones who have adapted, of course. We have learned from others, and we hope that others have learned from us. And while adapting while staying true to your purpose can be a bit of a balancing act, we believe that we have found the right balance. If we can help you adapt to these continually challenging times, please reach out to us.

Photo: Getty Images



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.


digital seniors

By Rex Hammock, CEO

You’ve seen them. They appear in “Saturday Night Live” skits and insurance commercials. They are cliches of a misdirected belief that most older individuals are clueless when it comes to technology ownership and usage.

However, according to recent research, including studies from Google, AARP and the Pew Research Center, the reality is that older adults are buying, using and mastering:

  • Smartphones
  • Home assistant technology (such as Amazon’s Echo)
  • Wearable technology (including smartwatches) 
  • Tablets (such as iPads)
Google calls these tech buyers and users “digital seniors.” 

In reality, people in their 60s and 70s are buying more technology—and more know how to use it.

  • Older adults (70+) have a particular fondness for tablets, with more than half (53%) owning one—an increase from 40% in 2019.
  • These tablets aren’t just sitting on a coffee table gathering dust: 69% said they use their tablets daily.
  • Older adults are spending (on average) $1,144 on tech, up from $394 in 2019.
    The top three tech purchases are smartphones, smart TVs and Bluetooth headsets/earbuds.
A majority of seniors spend at least
six hours a day online and own an average of five devices.
 
“Digital seniors” go online for a vast array of reasons:
91% | Staying in touch with friends and family 
87% | Organizing their finances
73% | Improving their health and wellness

They aren’t just a temporary reaction to COVID-19:
70% | Say in surveys that they’ll still spend the same amount or more time online once they’re no longer concerned about the pandemic.

What marketers should learn from this new research of digital seniors:
Rather than making fun of one of the fastest-growing tech purchasing segments, here are three suggestions from Google’s Kelly Twohig (industry director, Healthcare).
  1. Understand your consumer with data and insights, not outmoded assumptions and hunches.
  2. Meet your audience where they are. As we’ve seen, YouTube plays a crucial role in seniors’ lives. Increase your investment where they’re increasing their time to build awareness and consideration.
  3. Prioritize high-value audiences, rather than broad ones. Use the rich set of intent signals available on YouTube (in-market, newly retired, similar audiences, location) to reach your most valuable consumers at scale.
Recommended reading | “Why Marketers’ Picture of Seniors Is Getting Old,” Kelly Twohig, Google, industry director, Healthcare
 

Photo: Getty Images



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.


By Rex Hammock, CEO

I was recently asked about the future of print—specifically, magazines. Rather than start from scratch, I turned to an article written by my friend Samir Husni (better known as Mr. Magazine), the leading advocate of all things magazine. His thoughts were originally published as an opinion piece titled “Print: How do I love thee. Let me count the ways …” for FIPP.
 
Print is forever. 

There is collectability and legacy to the printed page. Something that can last from the days of the Bible all the way to the 21st century and beyond. Print brings permanence and collectability. The Greek philosopher Parmenides believed that if you couldn’t hold it, touch it, feel it, it wasn’t real. The permanence of print then is very real.

Print legitimizes.

I have had many artists and writers tell me that they felt their work wasn’t legitimate until they saw it in print. And one editor after another who has told me that the celebrity on the cover of their magazine would agree to that picture only if it was on the cover of the print product. They never asked if they would be featured on their webpage, only the magazine’s printed page. Doesn’t that speak volumes about the validity of print?

Print is finite and has a purpose. 

Just like human beings, print has a lifecycle. There is a time to be born and a time to die. It’s not the never-ending story or the 24/7 story. It has a first page and a last page. Knowing that it won’t go on forever on this plane of existence gives it an earthly purpose; whether that is to inform, educate or entertain, print has a reason for being around.

Print is like a good friend. 

It doesn’t interrupt you while you’re reading it. There are no notifications, no bells and whistles going off, no dings or pings telling you something is trying to tear your attention from what you’re trying to do. It helps you focus on that horizontal projection of your eyes, and you retain what you read. Your attention is zeroed in on that article, that piece of content that you are reading, and you actually comprehend the words on the page. 

Print provides a sense of ownership. 

You own the print product; it’s in your hands. No one can take it away from you. You can throw it away, you can keep it, you can cherish it; no matter what type of relationship you want, you can have it, it’s yours. Try to get mad at something on the digital platform and see what happens. If you throw your phone across the room, you’ll have to buy another phone.

Print is a timesaver. 

You might scoff at that, but it’s true. If it’s well-done, well-curated, well-vetted, you’re getting the content that you want and need and you can trust it. It’s tried-and-true. You don’t have to trigger Google to go in search of it yourself. Experts have done it for you and put it between the pages of the magazine or the book that’s in your hands.

And print provides a real relationship and connection that you can enjoy time and time again. Print has become a necessary partner in these days and times. You can only have so many digital one-night stands before you yearn for the real thing. That trusted and safe partner that gives you what you need when you need it.

With print, there is an audio/visual power that can’t be denied. When the story is good, you can see the love in her eyes. When the apple pie is fresh out of the oven and baked just right, you can smell it and long to taste it. And with a good piece of print apple pie, you are satiated and feel complete. There is no digital piece that gives you that same sense of realism of being there. When the words come alive you can actually feel the movement of the people on the page and it no longer is just content; it becomes an experience. And it becomes your uninterrupted “me” time.

If I’ve made you want to read a printed product, then I’ve achieved my mission with this love letter to print. There is nothing like it, nor will there ever be. You can create a million websites with a billion pixels on the screen, but it will never replace the thrill, satisfaction and love you can feel for your favorite print magazine or book.

Samir Husni, aka “Mr. Magazine,” is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi. His blog, Mr. Magazine, features interviews with the most prominent magazine media leaders in the United States.

 

Photo: Rex Hammock



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.


By: Jeff Walter, Editor

You know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder every day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello”
— John Prine, “Hello in There”

Like countless Nashvillians and music lovers (we happen to be both), we mourned the loss of singer-songwriter John Prine to COVID-19 on April 7, 2020. Prine, also a Music City resident, released his self-titled debut album a half-century ago in 1971, gracing the world with such now-standards as “Sam Stone,” “Angel From Montgomery,” “Paradise” and “Hello in There,” that last song an unflinching first-person depiction of the loneliness suffered by many senior citizens (written with jaw-dropping empathy by a 22-year-old).

We think Prine would be happy about the way his family is remembering him—and doing some good in the process. “You Got Gold: Celebrating the Life & Songs of John Prine” is a series of special concerts and other events planned for various Nashville venues Oct. 3-10. Proceeds will benefit The Hello In There Foundation, newly established by Prine’s family “to honor his memory and continue the love, kindness and generosity he shared with the world.” The foundation’s mission is “to identify and collaborate with individuals and communities to offer support for people who are marginalized, discriminated against or … otherwise forgotten.”

Two Nashville-based nonprofits will receive this year’s inaugural grants from the foundation. Room In The Inn provides shelter, emergency services, transitional programs and long-term solutions to help homeless people rebuild their lives. Thistle Farms provides safe housing, healthcare, counseling and employment for women survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction.

The Prine tribute concerts, which wrap up on what would have been his 75th birthday, represent a beautiful example of content marketing, a frequent topic of the Idea Email. While they honor the memory of the beloved singer-songwriter (and perhaps sell some CDs and merch in the process), they also serve a higher purpose not directly tied to sales. 

We have previously written about the various forms that content marketing can take—from blog posts and e-books to sales presentations and customer welcome kits, from onboarding material and internal letters to employees to bylined articles for industry publications and public events. Earlier this month, we discussed preserving your company’s or organization’s history and future. Thanks to the Prine family for an outstanding example of how this can work. And thanks to John Prine for all the timeless and wonderful music (along with the love, kindness and generosity).

Photo credit: Laura Fedele



About Hammock Healthcare Idea Email |
This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.

By Rex Hammock, CEO

For the past few weeks, I have been reading about what marketers have learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most insightful articles I’ve read was “10 Truths About Marketing After the Pandemic,” written by Janet Balis and published in the Harvard Business Review.

Balis, the customer and growth market leader and marketing practice leader at EY Americas, does a great job of explaining how marketers—especially content marketers—are having to adjust their relationship to customers. In her article, she identified 10 ways in which the pandemic has challenged truths about marketing and given us new rules to move forward. Here, I’m highlighting three of those old truths and new rules.

Old Truth: Customers must sit at the heart of your marketing strategy.
New Truth:
Customers must sit at the heart of your customer journey.


We write a lot about the customer journey—because we know how important it is. Imagine an infinity loop to show a customer’s life cycle. With the right content marketing, you can help prospects become leads, convert them to customers, and focus attention on them so you create a loyal relationship.

Old Truth: Relationships matter.
New Truth: Relationships are everything.
“It goes without saying that it is vital to build relationships with customers founded on trust,” Balis wrote.

In March 2020, Edelman conducted a global consumer study and found that 60% of people were turning more and more to the brands they were absolutely sure they could trust. Why? According to Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, trust is a “game changer for brands because it addresses people’s fears about personal safety, most notably vulnerability on health, financial stability, and privacy.”

That’s why it’s critically important to form genuine connections with your customers, listen to their needs and opinions, and help them find solutions for their problems. Without your customers, your business would not exist.

Old Truth: Marketing is important for growth.
New Truth: Marketing is at the center of the growth agenda for the full C-suite.
We’ve noticed this to be true with several of our clients. As Balis said, “marketing has been elevated within the C-suite as a driver of digital transformation, a key leader of the customer journey, and the voice of the consumer—all of which are of paramount importance to other functional leaders.”

2019 report from McKinsey & Company suggests that high-growth companies are seven times more likely to have a chief marketing officer who fosters robust and collaborative partnerships across the C-suite. Why? Because the CMO makes sure that the rest of the C-suite understands how marketing is driving growth and serving the company’s broader goals and objectives, the report says.

Takeaway: Balis said it best: “Marketing now has the opportunity to seize an ongoing central role in the dialogue, thereby driving the organization’s broader growth and innovation agenda.” To read the full article, and Balis’s seven other new rules, click here.