Choosing the Right Partner for Your Business

If you’re a leader at a company, no matter what industry you’re in, your goal is the same: nurture the business and help it grow. But growing an organization takes a lot of work. You need to understand your evolving marketplace, competitors, and customer needs. At first, handling everything in-house may seem doable, but growing a team at the same pace as your ambitions can sometimes be too much. At Tallwave, we believe that in order to meet your organization’s goals you should be doing a little of both in-house and partner collaboration.


If you’re on the fence about working with a partner, we get it. Relinquishing aspects of your business to an external partner might be easier said than done, especially if your business is your baby. Here’s what to look for when selecting the right partner.

In-House vs. Agency

We don’t believe in separating in-house and agency work – we should all be striving to do a little of both as an organization. An agency partner isn’t going to know your brand as well as your in-house team, but your team might not have the resources to adequately scale your business. Working with a blend of both should result in an achievable but strategic plan to grow your market share.


If your tactics have not been performing as desired with an in-house team, it’s not that there’s a lack of expertise. More likely, it’s a lack of experience. This is where having an agency partner comes in handy. Making business decisions in-house with people who are in the day-to-day may result in similar ideas you’ve already come up with – the same ideas that could be stunting your growth. A partner can help you locate blind spots and bring a fresh perspective, new techniques, and the experience that an in-house team might be lacking. Since helping brands is the entire purpose of agencies, they are able to help businesses reach their goals with the resources, creative approaches, and networks they use.


An in-house team may also be too invested and biased towards their current models and processes, which could limit their ability to make bold, but necessary decisions. Working with a partner can bring an objective perspective and help push businesses towards making these key decisions. Additionally, partners see similar patterns in challenges, goals, and circumstances across companies. This is usually much broader than what an in-house team has come across. A good partner can leverage their work and capacities across clients with similar business models while acting as a counterpart to your deep domain expertise.

What Do We Look for in a Client?

While the client is vetting us, we’re doing the same to ensure we would work well together. We want to feel just as comfortable working with them and vice versa. As a partner, we’re looking to help our clients grow, expand their business, and reach their goals. We want to work with change agents within companies who have dug a little deeper than your basic, high-level thinking. We want potential clients to come to us looking for an answer on how to solve a specific problem.

As a partner, we’re looking to help our clients grow, expand their business, and reach their goals.

For instance, instead of saying, “We need somebody to do SEO for us,” we’re looking for clients who have asked themselves, “What program am I trying to drive?” Now, if you haven’t asked yourself these questions, that’s okay! As your partner, we can help you uncover these larger questions you’re having trouble answering. Maybe you need help with customer acquisition or full funnel conversion optimization. When clients ask themselves these deeper questions, we can see that they’re hungry for growth and looking at a more holistic picture, rather than their immediate needs. This way of thinking will make them more responsive and open to new ideas on how to achieve their goals.


We also look for a willingness to learn and collaborate with our potential partners. As outsiders, we don’t know your brand or customer base as well as you. This is where collaboration comes into play. By working with your in-house team to learn the ins and outs of your business, our teams will be able to develop a better strategy to help reach your goals.

What Should Clients Look for in an Agency?

As noted before, both agencies and clients are vetting each other before settling on a partner. We’ve noticed that many companies today are still looking for vertical expertise. This means clients look for partners that have experience in only one type of industry or specialized needs. We understand this rationale – if you’re in the healthcare industry, you might want a partner that has experience working with other healthcare clients. However, this way of thinking could result in similar campaigns to competitors or outdated technologies. Isn’t the point of working with a partner to think outside the box and set yourself apart from the competition?


In today’s world where the customer is everything for a brand, you should be looking to understand the customer’s motives and needs. With this in mind, clients should be looking for a partner that has worked cross-industries, is focused on the customer experience, and truly understands user personas and needs. In turn, the partner they choose to work with should be able to design and drive performance for their client no matter their industry, trade, or profession.


Next, you should be looking for an agency that is ready to learn the intricacies of your business. The way we like to do this at Tallwave is by setting up workshops with our clients to learn the brand and how we can help meet their goals. We pull in our client consultants, capability consultants, and salespeople to ask more in-depth business questions than a typical agency. We ask that our clients do the same by bringing their key stakeholders into these workshops. Rallying up the people who know customer experience, acquisition, and the brand will give an agency partner the ability to see a full picture of your business. While these teams will likely have different initiatives, budgets, and perspectives, they all impact growth.


Last but not least, you should look for a partner that is going to challenge you. They shouldn’t be overly aggressive, but they should have a strong enough voice to stand by their decisions. Being challenged by your partner means they’re invested in the right outcomes for your business, not just the work.


Deciding which approach works best for your business can take some time. It took Tallwave some time to figure out how we wanted to work with our clients as well. We started as three separate companies that focused on separate initiatives. After some time, we pulled those three companies together because we saw the need to combine those different skill sets in order to achieve solutions for our customer’s biggest pain points. Since merging, we’ve done a lot of learning and growing ourselves from our clients. This added knowledge has helped us refine and adjust our tactics as needed so that we’re able to cater our services to each client, regardless of their industry. If you’re still not sure what’s best for your business, give us a call. We’re more than happy to talk through this journey with you.


Why Customer Experience Can’t All Be Data Driven

Customer experience (CX) is reshaping the way brands do business. Having a customer-centric approach is no longer a buzzword. It’s a linchpin to the success and longevity of organizations as competitive landscapes continue to evolve at breakneck speeds.


As more organizations begin to realize the customer must be at the center of all they do, the question then becomes: who should own the experience and what data should be used to construct it? The fact of the matter is, one person or even one department, cannot be held solely responsible for running point on CX. It must be woven into the entire company – and it can’t be built on data alone.


Don’t get us wrong, CX initiatives should most certainly be constructed around shared data points from across the organization, but numbers shouldn’t be the only ingredient. Leaders must remember emotion is also a key factor in effectively delivering a winning customer experience.


It takes a delicate balance between understanding data and keeping real emotion in mind. But if your organization doesn’t figure out how to leverage the two to create an unforgettable experience and emotional connection, customers will start looking elsewhere.

Going Beyond the Data

Yes, the data gives powerful insights into customer and prospect behavior. We can identify purchase behaviors, what messaging they responded best to, what content they engaged with, and the list goes on. But at a more fundamental level, do you know what prompted your customer to even begin their search for a solution in the first place? Or even who or what along their purchase path may have influenced their decision-making process?


These are questions that will only be answered through one-to-one conversations with customers and prospects. Talking with your customers enables you to dig deeper and really get to know the person behind the purchase.


Also consider the person making the purchase may not be the one using your product or service. It’s important to talk to both the purchaser and end user. With this insight you are better equipped to not only make more effective marketing decisions, but also know which functions, features, and updates to prioritize based on user feedback, which impacts the customer experience.


Also consider the person making the purchase may not be the one using your product or service. It's important to talk to both the purchaser and end user.


Beyond serving as an important feedback loop, conversations with customers also give you a way to test and eliminate assumptions while understanding how your product or service makes your customer feel. Forrester released a report outlining the importance of emotion as it relates to customer experience and loyalty. After interviewing 45,000 consumers, the findings revealed that emotional experience accounts for almost half of customer loyalty to the brand.


So while customer numbers and account activity should be part of your data collection and reporting process, what your customers feel while using your product matters and should be measured.

Building the Path

If coordinating one-to-one conversations with customers and prospects sounds like a lot of work, you’re right. It can be. There are ways to systematize and even automate to a certain to degree in order to make these conversations a much more fluid process. This approach has to be a company-wide effort and even woven into the fabric of your company culture. This is an all-hands-on-deck operation.


This might start with automated feedback loops – general surveys or quick Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys – but then there has to be a process for reviewing and taking action on that feedback. Who on your team will be responsible for collecting, analyzing, and acting on the data? Keep in mind, in many cases, this will not be a one-person job.


For instance, if the feedback is pertaining to a product issue, perhaps there’s a person on the product team who is elected to run point on customer outreach. This person can help better understand the issues the customer may be having. Or for more general feedback, it could be someone on the customer service or success team. Once the feedback is collected, it’s key to take the conversation to the next level with a direct conversation with the customer.


Who on your team will be responsible for collecting, analyzing, and acting on the data? Keep in mind, in many cases, this will not be a one-person job.


Consider nominating a CX advocate in each department as every step of the customer journey contributes to the individual experience. A recent report revealed that 75 percent of consumers expect companies to provide a consistent experience wherever they engage with them both online and offline.


The first step to delivering a positive customer experience on all fronts is ensuring your internal procedures are consistent company-wide. This is where things like data collection processes and procedures are paramount.


Remember: the decisions based on data are only as good as the data collected and the ease of data accessibility to everyone within the organization. If your data isn’t properly collected, or even if it is but it’s locked up, you’ve already lost.

Asking the Right Questions

There are plenty of specific insights that will be valuable to various individuals within your company. Your product team will want to understand feature usage. Your sales and marketing teams will want to understand what hooked them to finally sign up for a demo.


Uncovering a particular customer experience requires a specific set of questions. To ask the right ones, start first by making a list of the ways you think you are already delivering a good experience.


It’s time to cut through the norm and ask the prodding questions. If you don’t, they’ll find another product that can do similar things, and make them feel better while doing it.


Once you’ve identified the valuable and actionable data, it’s time to consider what changes your organization should make to improve the experience your customers are having. And remember, this is a company-wide effort. Work first on building the infrastructure for supporting a customer-driven approach, then begin the outreach.


Not sure where to start? We can help. Give us a call or sign up for our conversion audit service. Here, we’ll help you pinpoint where your customer experience is lacking.


How to Brainstorm for Innovation

We’ve all heard it before: “You only have to be 10% smarter than the object you’re operating.” Simple, but surprisingly motivating. For entrepreneurs, this thought could mean the difference between just having an idea and actually having it come to fruition.


An idea is like a baby – You protect it and nurture it, and even before it’s born, you are in love and find yourself picking out colleges. As exciting as generating an idea can be, it’s also where the risk lies. You fall in love with the execution of an idea too soon with no plan on how to actually perform the execution.


Here are a few ways you can brainstorm for innovation and follow through with your ideas.

Stop and Think

Before you charge forward with executing your idea, stop and think. Seriously – spend half a day getting dirty, ideating, and iterating on all the possible permutations. You might know the end game and the value proposition, but do you know whether users want to do what you’re asking? Or if your approach to the market is the right one to achieve your goals?


Take this for example: Let’s say you have a product that aims at improving online searching and bookmarking. Your initial vision is a browser plugin that remembers your favorite places and recommends search results based on what you like. Could be cool, right?


This is where you need to stop and think. The vision has potential, but will that execution drive the highest engagement and build momentum as quickly as possible? Maybe. Before picking that route, consider brainstorming some different permutations. What if instead you created an API that worked with a bunch of existing products with large user bases? What if your product was super targeted toward a very specific demographic, like high school students? You see where this is going, right? Great.

Brainstorming 101

Brainstorming isn’t always easy. Sometimes there are too many brains in the room, other times there aren’t enough. If you’re in a room full of execs, there’s a chance you’re afraid to share your ideas for fear of being shot down. When it comes to brainstorming, everything goes.


A good brainstorming session should include the following:

A Goal

When your brainstorm comes to an end, what is the goal you want the group to achieve? This goal should be your main focus throughout the session. As long as this end goal is kept in mind, unconventional and outlandish ideas are always welcome – sometimes these are the ideas that lead to something tangible.

A Diverse Group of People

At Tallwave, we like to involve people from different departments in our brainstorms. Oftentimes, this group consists of both people who are involved in the day-to-day of the project and external team members. External members may have previously worked on this account or helped solve a similar problem for another client. Being heavily involved in a project can cloud your judgement. A mix of main-team and external team members bring knowledge and a fresh perspective to the brainstorming session.

A Simple Structure

Don’t overthink a brainstorming session. Too many rules and regulations will kill the vibe and might make people panic. This could lead to an unsuccessful brainstorming session. Instead, keep a simple structure. Maybe a warm up with a summary that gets sent out to everyone afterward.

Here are a couple of our favorite and simple brainstorming activities to help drive innovation.

3-12-3 Method

This method refers to the amount of time given to the three activities this session includes. Three minutes to think about the characteristics of the topic at hand and write down as many as possible. Next, take twelve minutes to develop concepts, either with a partner or in small groups. Anything goes during these 12 minutes – rough sketches, prototypes, or other media can be produced during this time. These concepts will then be presented to the rest of the group, with a maximum of three minutes per presentation.

This method is awesome for coming up with multiple variations of a concept or idea.

How-Now-Wow Matrix

The How-Now-Wow method involves some artistry. Begin by drawing a 2×2 matrix with “originality” in the x-axis, and “feasibility” on the y-axis. The top right corner of your matrix will be the “How” section. This is where you put the ideas that are original and innovative, but not feasible at the moment. The “How” section can help influence future goals or objectives.


The bottom left corner will be your “Now” section. Here, you’ll put ideas that are unoriginal and familiar, but also easy to implement and are known to work well.


The bottom right corner will house your “Wow” concepts. These are ideas that are original and also easy to implement. Forming ideas that fall into this section should be something to strive for during the brainstorming section.


This concept can also be great for “closing,” or ranking, some of those ideas you came up with during the 3-12-3 activity.

Wellbeing North Star Method

Projects don’t always go as planned. This is a great method for evaluating some of the flops you may experience on your projects. Begin by drawing a star in the middle of a whiteboard or large poster. In the center, write the topic your brainstorm will be focusing on. This could be a project, a daily schedule, etc. On each point of the star, you’ll write what you want to focus on and discuss with your team. This could be graphics, communications, advertisements, upcoming tasks, etc.


Distribute sticky notes in two different colors to everyone. For a few minutes, have your brainstormers write what they like about the aspects on each point of the star on one color. Next, have them write what they dislike about each aspect. Once everyone is done, have them present their notes and post them under their respective aspects.


This method is extremely helpful in determining what is and isn’t working on a project or to evaluate an idea. Sometimes we like to flip this one around by focusing outward to analyze competition. This helps us better understand where there is opportunity for disruption.


When it comes to innovation, a brainstorming session can be your ticket to success. Give these methods a shot. If you need more help, you can always call us.


Is Traditional Media Dead?

Radio, newspaper, and television. Marketing tools of the past, right? Maybe not. Online, digital, and mobile are certainly at the forefront of marketers’ minds these days. The ability to directly track the performance and return on investment (ROI) of these digital marketing efforts is highly beneficial, and often necessary for brands with smaller budgets. However, we shouldn’t be so quick to write off traditional advertising all together. Studies show that it still plays an important role in attracting customers.


Take, for example, American’s overall media consumption rate. It’s on the rise and, surprisingly, traditional media (print, radio, tv, billboards, etc.) is at the forefront. Studies show that the average person listens to 112 minutes of radio and watches nearly five hours of television per day. Based on these numbers, and assuming radio ads roughly 30 seconds each, the average listener hears at least 32 ads per hour. When it comes to television, the average person will be subject to about 13 ads per every hour of television watched. When you combine these traditional ad numbers with the millions of adults who tune into television and radio on any given day, the ROI of traditional advertisements is astronomical.


Not only do people still consume traditional media, but it also remains a trusted source for information. According to a MarketingSherpa study, 82% of consumers say they usually trust print advertising and 80% say they trust television advertising when making a purchasing decision. This study also found that traditional advertisements have a high engagement rate. More than 50% “often” or “always” watch tv ads from companies they like as well as read the print ads they receive in the mail.


Just because traditional marketing is at the forefront doesn’t mean you should abandon your digital marketing efforts either. In fact, combining both strategies to form an integrated marketing campaign can strengthen your marketing efforts and increase brand visibility.

What is an Integrated Marketing Campaign?

While digital and social media have opened new opportunities for communication, there will most likely always be a place for traditional media. Integration is the key to marketing success. So what does an “integrated” marketing strategy look like? In the past, it was a strategic mix of television, radio, and print in order to reach your customers everywhere, all the time. Today, an “integrated” strategy combines digital and traditional approaches to reach your audience wherever they are and in a way that makes them stop and listen to what you have to say. While the concept is simple, the execution can be challenging.

What Do I Need Before Starting My Integrated Marketing Campaign?

The method behind seamlessly integrating all of your marketing efforts will differ depending on your goals and your industry. But, first and foremost it is always necessary that your branding is consistent everywhere. This means ensuring that messaging is consistent and that the same colors, fonts, style, and taglines are used across all platforms. Integrate traditional and digital by mentioning your website URL in radio ads and/or having it appear in both print and television advertisements.

Where can I advertise?

The general rule of thumb to keep in mind with traditional advertisements is that the more places consumers see your ads, the more likely they are to remember your product. Here are five strategic ways to combine your digital and traditional marketing efforts.


Magazines are a good place to start when it comes to traditional media. Magazines are often targeted toward a very niche demographic, so these can be a great place to reach very specific target markets. For an integrated marketing campaign, most magazines also have a digital platform to advertise on as well, whether it be a website or social media. Be sure to ask about how to combine both services, especially if you’re targeting a niche market.

Billboards and Geotargeting

Billboards remain one of the top ways to advertise in specific markets as they can reach over 90% of the population. Combined with a geotargeted banner ad to hit consumers smartphones after they pass the billboard will make for an extra-strong marketing message.


Recently, Tallwave ran a strategic out-of-home (OOH) and digital campaign for our construction project management software client to create a “takeover” strategy during their top competitor’s conference in Downtown Phoenix. This campaign combined strategically placed digital display units along with animation and traditional billboards surrounding the conference venue, as well as at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. This strategy helped raise brand awareness as conference attendees arrived in Arizona and as they attended the conference. Each billboard featured a vanity URL, sending users to an interactive landing page with detailed product information and a short form fill. This allowed us to capture their information and continue to drive them through the marketing funnel.


In addition to the traditional OOH placements, Tallwave created a geofencing campaign to target users on their mobile devices as they were at the competitor’s conference. This helped increase overall awareness and allowed users to further interact with the brand. Following the conference, a 30-day retargeting campaign was created with new messaging to continuously engage users.


Although newspapers have been largely moving towards digital publications, newspapers are still a great place to advertise. Depending on your market and target audience, newspaper ads can be an inexpensive way to promote your business or services. These types of traditional advertisements fare well with small businesses or if your budget is small. You can also negotiate online components, like banner ads or social media posts for an integrated marketing campaign.


Although it seems like streaming services are taking over, we mentioned before that traditional television consumption is still high. Due to the increasing popularity of streaming services, running television advertisements has become cheaper. Depending on your budget and your audience, you can strategize the visuals for your commercials and determine the best time to run your ads. For an integrated marketing campaign, you can reuse the same content to run ads on social channels or video streaming platforms.


Traditional media is not dead and continues to play a vital role in today’s marketing mix. Strategically combining traditional and digital marketing efforts gives your brand the best of both worlds and allows you to reach a wider audience. With more and more brands straying away from traditional advertising, it is opening more opportunities to leverage these platforms in order to uniquely tell your story and really stand out to consumers. If you are in need of some strategic direction, reach out to us – we can help!

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