Communicating Your Brand Digitally

Sales & Marketing

Did you know that the world has nearly 4.6 billion active internet users, and 90% of people with internet access use social media, making it a viable channel to access customers? But with more consumers using more devices, there is greater competition to reach them. So, how do you make your brand stand out from the crowd? While other forms of digital marketing are certainly important, local companies are finding their greatest successes by leveraging social media. Here, area marketing professionals share their past experiences and give a glimpse into their brand’s digital marketing strategy.

Ben Lowe (above)

Marketing & Communications Director, High Point Climbing and Fitness

I would like to say that we use every new and fancy tool when it comes to digital marketing, but we are still a relatively small company, so we stick to a handful of reliable methods and focus on executing them consistently well. Our social media content, website, paid search ads, and email marketing campaigns are all fairly simple, but they are curated with purpose instead of focusing on sheer volume. There are a lot of people who find rock climbing interesting but intimidating. Convincing those who are new to the sport to give it a try can be tricky. That’s why we focus much of our time and energy on showing people everything our gyms have to offer and the members who use it. Whether it’s kids climbing a dinosaur skeleton or a couple learning how to belay each other on top rope, most newcomers just need to be shown a starting point that works for them. So, when it comes to ROI, the best investment you can make is with the time you spend getting to know your customer and segmenting your audience so that you can serve them with relatable and meaningful digital content.

Silverdale Baptist Academy ad

Cara McGowan, Director of marketing and communications at hunter museum of american artCara McGowan

Director of Marketing & Communications, Hunter Museum of American Art

We rely on a data-driven approach, but with the limited size of the museum’s communications team and the need to quickly innovate, we’ve followed cues by studying industry colleagues and maintaining partnerships with data-gathering organizations. Since so much of our work is visual, design consistency is also critical. Even when we go in a different direction visually, we aim for a distinctive style and level of polish. We also like to share content created by guests. For instance, we encourage selfies in and around the museum. When visitors get creative in the galleries, the results can be magical. We like to share the joy that a museum visit can bring. Beautiful images, video, and great storytelling can’t be beaten. The customizable and targeted nature of digital creates unique opportunities for connecting with specific audiences. We target our messaging and then refine based on the results. Engagement is one of our key digital metrics, whether it’s likes, shares, or click-throughs. Connecting with people of all backgrounds is at the heart of the Hunter’s work, and digital marketing helps us achieve that goal.

Linda Brock Web Ad

Alex Tainsh, marketing and promotions manager, chattanooga lookoutsAlex Tainsh

Marketing & Promotions Manager, Chattanooga Lookouts

My goal for our fans is for them to be able to look at our content and get a realistic sense of what Lookouts baseball is all about. We constantly have to balance the interests of both our local and national fan base. Our national audience is going to engage more with content specially focused on our players and performance on the field, while locally, Lookouts baseball is more about the experience of a fun night at AT&T Field. As often as possible, we try to create content that will engage with both of those groups. Ultimately, you need to keep your overall goals in mind and create content that will give you the best chance to reach those goals. If you aren’t reaching your goals, look at your analytics and try to see where the issue is. If you aren’t getting as many views as you want, think about how you can change up your content. See what does well and do more of that. If you are getting views on your content but it’s not translating to sales, then try to provide more calls to action. Always think about the process for the consumer, and make it as simple as possible for them to take the action you are hoping they will take.


Patten & Patten ad

Kelley Fowler, director of marketing and public relations at smartbankKelley Fowler

Director of Marketing & Public Relations, SmartBank

We believe consistency, in terms of posting regularly and voice, is key to using social platforms successfully when it comes to digital marketing. Our goal is to reach current and potential clients where they are and provide them with valuable information, which means cross-posting content and increasing reach with advertising. As a company, we have bought into a set of brand guidelines that we all feel strongly about. The ideas we had about the image, values, and service level we wanted to bring to the market when we launched have only deepened with time. Having a deep sense of who we are as a company and the value we want to provide makes it easier to speak with a consistent voice. Banking can get really stale when you are posting every day, and we do not want our audience’s eyes to glaze over by repeatedly seeing content that does not engage them, so we have to leverage our understanding of our clients and their current questions and needs into content that is timely and informative. Our general marketing activities are intended to raise awareness. Digital, on the other hand, gives us a chance to target more specific types of customers in a more cost-effective way.


Southern Adventist University Web Ad

Carolina Malloy, founder of adventure sports innovationCarolina Molloy

Founder, Adventure Sports Innovation

Consistent branding was crucial from day one. One of our first marketing projects was to develop our brand guide and voice – and we follow it faithfully! Our signage, brochures, rack cards, websites, and social media pages all focus on presenting images or videos of our products in use. We always want to focus on people enjoying our high-tech gear rather than simply focusing on the products themselves. 

Our company offers a wide array of products and experiences for individuals and groups, so we fall into several industry categories, such as outdoor adventures, attractions and entertainment, and sporting goods retailer. A huge upside is that we can appeal to a wide audience, but that also means that it is hard to focus our messages for such a wide audience. So, our challenge is to find ways to market our offerings to multiple demographics for each product and experience type while working within a limited budget. Therefore, we need to create and publish separate campaigns for each type of audience. Measuring ROI for any marketing campaign is always difficult, especially when a company has a multi-media approach, and we often rely on guest feedback as to how they discovered us, which helps to inform our future marketing decisions.


Mauldin & Jenkins ad

Philippe LeMaitre, director of digital marketing for CFCPhilippe LeMaitre

Director of Digital Marketing, Chattanooga Football Club

There are a wide array of tools available to digital marketers, and it can be overwhelming, so we focus our time and energy on tried-and-true resources that accurately track where traffic is coming from and how well our content is performing. We use a suite of free Google tools and a few paid tools to measure performance and take our strategy to the next level. We analyze digital performance before and after every game to learn more about where our digital investment packed the most punch and where we can improve. This commitment to learning about growth opportunities and being nimble helps us achieve tremendous results on a budget. First and foremost, we track everything. The more data we can gather on the digital path to conversion, the better. Second, we take time to learn about what the data means to our business, as well as our audience’s journey. Data can teach you something about your customer and your community that you may not have already known. We’ve recently ramped up our digital marketing efforts, so we’re still in the exploratory phase of finding out which channels and creative performs best, but the ultimate goal is maximizing our results and minimizing waste.


Yacoubian Tailors ad

Terran Anderson, community impact director at the american heart associationTerran Anderson

Community Impact Director, American Heart Association

Each individual digital platform we utilize speaks to a different group of people. We want to meet people where they are, and a big part of that is making sure we’re delivering the right messages to their preferred platform. Protecting our brand is so important because people truly trust us. Their doctors trust us, our local heart and stroke survivors trust us, and our volunteers trust us. The most important thing when it comes to our messaging and voice is that we’re sharing science-based information that continues the trustworthy messaging we think is paramount. In the nonprofit industry, I think we get too hung up on the fact that digital seems “free.” We end up shouting into a void, and then we don’t have anything to show for it. In order to provide some sort of return, we’ve got to be willing to at least make a small investment and monitor what’s working and what’s not working. I’ve had some great communications interns, and their first task is always the same: Give me your honest feedback on all of our digital presences. If it isn’t resonating with them, then it isn’t resonating with their peers, and we can’t risk a generation of people who don’t understand the importance of heart and brain health.  


Riggs & Associates ad

Kaelan Byrd, communications manager at Lil Mama's Chicago Style HoagyKaelan Byrd

Communications Manager, Lil Mama’s Chicago Style Hoagy

One of the first things I did when taking over the communications at Lil Mama’s was create a brand stylebook that contains an in-depth summary of our brand, hashtags, what the brand voice is, the primary colors we use, and our core values. One of the biggest challenges marketers in the food and beverage industry face is that they are operating in such a packed marketplace. Think about how hard it can be to decide what you want for dinner. Many restaurants have turned to social media to try to grow their business, and they can sometimes get lost in the noise. I try to cut through all that noise by keeping our social media instantly recognizable. If you don’t see our logo in a graphic or picture, you should still know it’s Lil Mama’s. We also try to post fun, creative, and engaging content, not just PSAs about the business. Social media shouldn’t just be about blasting company messages out and hoping someone sees it. It should be social, intentional, and personal. We try to resonate with our customers by being honest, getting all the information we have out there, and most importantly, listening to feedback. 


Center for Sports Medicine Ad

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