The Life of Ryan: What's a King without his Castle?

My very first week on the job was all about shadowing Adam as he went to client meetings and gathering content. Let’s just say I had a lot to learn, especially about grabbing pictures. I was never a huge taker of pictures on my phone; once in awhile I would grab some candid pics of friends or some funny scenarios out in public. I wasn’t the one to take my phone out when our food got to the table and take fancy pictures with perfect lighting and awesome angles. Who would care about seeing a picture of what I’m eating? Well, as Adam said to me only a few weeks ago, “Content is king, context is his castle.”

What exactly does that mean? Well think of a king inside his castle surrounded by high walls, servants, guards, and precious gems and gold goblets. All of those things add up to him being a king. Now take him outside of his walls and place him on a desert island. Is he still a king? Sure, but a king of what? He might still be wearing his crown and carrying his scepter; looking like a king, but what does it matter if there is nobody around to rule or even acknowledge he is a king.

Think back to that picture of food I held off on taking and posting. I could take a great picture of my salad in front of me and post it but what would be the context behind it? That I’m eating?? Why would anyone care about that? Now, I’m sure there are a few who would interact with it if I posted it on social media, such as my foodie friends, but overall it’s pretty boring. Now think of a scenario where I am managing an account for a salad shop and I took that same picture and posted it on their page. It now makes much more sense because of course a salad shop is going to take pictures of their menu and get people excited about it. The king (content) now has his castle (context).

A big hurdle for me in this job was not the content. Once you have the artistic knack for what a great picture is supposed to look like, it comes naturally. What’s harder, however, is to find the right context in which to frame a post. When it comes to promoting a restaurant, the end user usually just wants to see good pictures of good food and the interaction will come. Simply posting the pictures isn’t enough though. Post a picture of a salad outside in beautiful weather and it will do amazing. The context being that delicious, healthy food goes hand in hand with gorgeous weather. Post a picture of a steaming bowl of chili with fresh bread on a frigid, blustery day and it’ll be a hit. The context being that warm, mouthwatering soul food crushes on bad weather / low temperature days.

Thinking of the proper context to frame our content is always going to be the hardest part of our job, in my opinion. What can help form the context is the overall story you want to tell that week and even the overarching story you want to convey in general for the client. Keeping that in mind will help you funnel down the specific context needed for each post. Although some context can be “on the spot”, such as weather events, current events, etc., the navigating light has to be your client’s story. And that story is what keeps the king happily in his castle

The Life of Ryan: Learning the 'Science' of Marketing

Sitting here at week 6 of my journey with Key Branding Labs, I can honestly say this has been one of the most rewarding and fun jobs to be able to wake up to in the morning. It hasn’t all been a piece of cake though, as you may know if you’ve been following along with my other blog posts. There have been a lot of hard lessons learned, both in terms of marketing and ,more specifically, on social media. As a so called “Millennial”, I had the good fortune of growing up with some truly amazing technology. It allowed me to connect with friends across the country in an instant but it also allowed me to put pictures of myself and personal opinions out to the public for people to comment on and like. It may come as no surprise that when starting this job, the hardest lesson for me to learn was to leave those preconceived notions about social media and, more importantly my opinions, at the door.

What sets us apart from different forms of advertising is audience feedback. We know exactly how many people we are reaching and exactly how many people are engaging with our posts. With radio and television you simply have to guess and guessing is rarely accurate. For us, when a post doesn’t work or falls flat, our audience tells us. Either by not responding to it or explicitly telling us “this does not look good.” What was toughest for me when taking on my first accounts was leaving my opinions out of it and starting to think like the audience I was posting for. A student housing complex has an audience of between 17-23 year olds so you have to start thinking like a 17-23 year old to develop content that will resonate with them. You have to place yourself in the mind of a college student. What will they be doing on a Thursday night or a Friday night? My Thursday or Friday nights in college might have been spent differently than those that lived downtown but that was the type of mindset I had to start placing myself in. “If I lived downtown, what would I do for fun? What would resonate with me?”

The same can be said for a pizza shop. Maybe I didn’t frequent there too often, instead going to one that was closer. I had to leave my personal opinions behind and think strictly about the audience I was trying to reach, which is a lot more broad than a student housing complex. Everyone loves pizza (and if they don’t you should definitely be suspicious of them). So the audience demographics are wide, but I still had to start thinking like them. What are they going to want to see on the weekends? During the weekdays? On rainy days? What kind of content would resonate with mothers of 2 on a busy weekend? What would resonate with high schoolers coming in for lunch? All things to be cognizant of but it’s what makes the job fun. And even if you miss your mark and the post didn’t resonate as well as you’d like, you have data to give you insights into why it might not have done so well. All tools to help you change your approach and do better next time.

Yes, technology has infiltrated our lives immensely over the past 30 years and while some of that might be bad, a lot of it is incredibly good. With our job, we now have the means to analyze how our ads are being delivered to people through the amount they engage with our content to the time of the day they engage with it. It allows us to take all of the guess work and opinions out of our job and really make a science out of it. Of course there are circumstances outside of your control to how people respond to your content (weather, holidays, unforeseen events), but even those things can be used in a way to strengthen the relationship with the audience and have them care about our story. That’s why we’re here after all: to tell a story.

The Life of Ryan: Learning When to Throw That Right Hook

When you think of pizza, what comes to mind? A perfect crust, delicious sauce, and melted cheese that blends with the rest of the pie to make an irresistible creation. Now think of how you market that on social media. The majority of what you’d be posting are pictures of your beautiful pies because in the end, that’s what the consumer will be buying. But how do you market something less exciting, like say housing?

You can argue that housing fulfills the basic human need to have a roof over their head, however people can only see pictures of rooms so many times before they are turned off. So how do you approach marketing for a business like this? Gary Vaynerchuk, a famous entrepreneur and marketing genius said to approach social media and marketing in general like boxing. The classic jab, jab, right hook. Or in his words, “Jab, jab, jab, jab, jab...right hook.” It’s the tactic of wearing down your opponent before you move in for a knock-out. The same approach is just as effective when you’re marketing.

I like to think of the potential tenants for your housing client as the 300 pound heavyweight that you need to take down and you’re the 150 pound lightweight. You need to jab many more times before you can even dare to take that right hook. They need to see pictures of the beautiful building and its intricate architecture. They need to see pictures of it’s awesome amenities and the fun events hosted throughout the year. Followers need to be shown that it’s an exciting and fun place to live before you can take that right hook swing and ask them if they would like to lease.

Some things sell themselves based on the simple fact that people know what it is and want it now. Think of me standing in front of you during a 90 degree heat wave with an ice cream cone and rainbow sprinkles. You’re sweating profusely and have a sweet tooth. It’s an easy sell at that moment. But think of that same heatwave and I’m instead standing in front of you with a large box with a door on the front and ask you to step inside. Your immediate reaction would be “What the hell is this crazy person doing asking me to step inside this box for?” Your second reaction would be “Why? What’s so great about this box?” I can’t sell you on the fact it’s a box with a door, but if I showed you the inside, which is air conditioned, had a personal masseuse to ease your tension, and a butler to bring you ice cream as you watched Netflix, you’d be a bit more inclined to take a step inside.

This was an “A-ha!” moment for me when I realized it. It seemed so simple. I figured each week should have some sort of right hook post, but when I was made aware that some accounts need to have many more jabs to get to that right hook swing, it made perfect sense. It jived with everything I had learned over the past month. As I’ve said in the very first blog post: people hate being sold stuff. The trick is showing them the value of what they’re going to be buying enough times so that they’re the ones telling you “Take my money!”

The Life of Ryan: "So What?"

“So what?” A saying so simple it drove Adam nuts during college. “So What?” A saying that can drive anyone nuts when you’ve completed work you’re actually proud of and are face with this bold, abrasive question. “So what?” It’s something not a lot of people account for when they’re doing anything noteworthy: why is someone going to care? It’s a lesson that Adam bestowed on me when contemplating posts for the upcoming week and it hit hard. “Why would anyone care about these what?”

To be honest, I hadn’t thought much of it. I had learned to have a strong intent of a post, have outstanding content, but never really thought of the “So what” Why is someone going to care about a post of Adam and I with oversized coffee mugs? Well it shows we have a sense of humor and that we really love coffee. It humanizes us. Ok...a solid “So what?”. But what about a post of us putting a couch in our new office? Who is going to care about that? Although it’s cool, because not everyone has a couch in their office, it actually might give off the wrong message. We work hard to be good at our job and that might earn us some rest but if a client sees a post about how we put a couch in our office, they might not think we take our jobs seriously.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. We are constantly thinking of ways to better reach the audiences of our clients and how to target them more effectively. That’s why the “So what?” mentality is so important. “Why is the audience going to care about this post?”. That is the toughest part of our job. Thinking of content that resonates with the audience we are trying to speak to. There is no guessing though. We know exactly how many people we are reaching and exactly how many people engage with our posts. So in the end we know what is effective and what needs to be changed.

Sometimes we know exactly what our audiences want to see. With Nirchis, it’s simply pictures of good food and good deals. Most everyone loves pizza. Ages 5-105. That's a pretty broad audience and we know as long as we have outstanding content of pizza, people will respond positively to it. The “So what?” is that people love pizza and want to see pizza, which in turn gets them thinking about buying pizza. Simple. But what about The Printing House, the old Press Building which was converted into student housing.

Our audience is much more narrow there because the only people looking to lease a room at The Printing House are college students, ages 18-23. As someone older than 23, it can be a challenge to think like an 18 year old who is fresh out of high school, but it pays to be up to date on pop culture and try to put yourself in their head. Emoji’s resonate more with with younger audiences and also, they’re using Instagram much more than Facebook, which is why we tend to focus our ads more on Instagram when it comes to that audience.

Overall, it pays to have the “So What?” mentality in your mind when crafting any sort of post. Who is it geared towards and why are they going to care? If you can master than, then you might just have a shot at having your target audience care about whatever you’re advertising. It might pay to have that sort of mentality in anything you do in life. You might find that after putting what you do or say through that filter first, what comes out the other side is something worth doing.

The Life of Ryan: The New Guy at KBL

I’m the new guy here at Key Branding Labs: Ryan Ligi and it’s been quite the exciting on-boarding process. Learning what goes into managing a social media account, meeting with clients and putting my writing skills to the test, it’s made for an interesting 7 days and I’m loving every minute of it. Each day is different and that’s all I’ve ever wanted out of a job.

On one of my first few days, I was given a number of videos to watch just so I could get the feel of what the company was all about and the message they were trying to emulate. One of them was a TED talk by Simon Sinek, a motivational speaker and marketing consultant, who talks about the one reason why people buy products from companies. His famous words are “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

That message really resonated with me and after some reinforcement from Adam (one of the founders of KBL) began to craft this picture in my mind that they were all about storytelling. People hate being sold things, whether they consciously know it or not. It’s more effective to craft a narrative of why you’re selling instead of what you’re selling. It makes you seem more genuine and people will buy into following along.

The “why” in what we do is helping local businesses tell their story. A story has to have passion and a solid reason for wanting to tell it, otherwise it’s boring to read and people can see right through your bullshit. It’s easy to emulate the passion of a business owner when it’s one you frequent personally. We want these businesses to succeed because they support our community and I’ve learned that it’s effective from a relationship standpoint to show your faces there frequently.

As an example, when a client is running an event or adding something new to the business, it’s our job to show up and be present to collect our own content for posts instead of relying on the owner to take their own pictures. It’s a simple way of showing that we care and ensure we have the highest quality post to promote your business.

I personally love to read and have a bookshelf full of some truly captivating tales. One thing I’ve learned over my many years of page-turning is that good storytellers are continually crafting their technique, changing up the way their ideas are presented so their audience’s engagement endures. It’s no different with social media; in a time where a person’s attention is being fought for as ferociously as ever, you MUST stand out. Formulating posts that shape a story, instead of peddling to the audience, and ensuring the verbiage and framing speaks not only to the mind, but to the heart as well is the biggest take-away from my first week at KBL.