6 Steps to a Successful High School Marketing Plan

Did you know you can grow your business while sitting at a high school sporting event?

That’s the power of advertising in the high school space.

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Most businesses know sponsorships can be competitive and expensive. But what about all the benefits you'll reap from a sponsorship in front of thousands of high school sports fans?


Here are six reasons why high school advertising
should be your next priority:


1. You can be the hero of the community.


It feels good to be the hero doesn’t it?

You’re in luck because your business can be the hero that gives back to the local community. If you give your business a local feel, consumers will welcome your brand. You can make your business look good and drive foot traffic all at the same time.


2. You will be reaching a diverse demographic.


Next time you go to a high school sporting event, look around at the diverse crowd.

You’ll see lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers and every other profession represented in one place on a football Friday night. Many different walks of life are in attendance and you have the unique opportunity to have your brand in front of thousands.


3. Power of repetition.


Repetition is key in any type of advertising.

Jeff Weiner, the CEO of Linkedin stated, “If you want to get your point across, especially to a broader audience, you need to repeat yourself so often, you get sick of hearing yourself say it.” Repetition gives your brand a chance to sink into the minds of fans and create a lasting impression.


4. Best bang for your buck.


Being a high school sponsor makes spending money worth it.

You won’t find a better advertising opportunity at a cheaper cost. Spending money to create a presence in the high school space will help your business make money in the future.  


5. Effortless.

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Raise your hand if you like easy? You’re in luck because it’s EASY for your brand to advertise in the high school space.

Your brand can be visible to thousands of people on a weekly basis and do you want to know the best part? The school will do all of the heavy lifting for you. Once you become a sponsor, the high school will put in the work to ensure that your brand is visible to all fans.


6. Emotional advertising environment.


Ever seen the movie Remember the Titans or Hoosiers? What are the two things these movies have in common? High school sports and emotion. These movies encompass what it feels like to be a fan of a high school team. High school sports are entertaining and emotional. These are exactly the type of people that you want being loyal to your brand.


Being a high school sponsor gives your brand an opportunity to advertise in front of the most valuable and coveted demographic.

Don’t miss a chance to grow your business.

2018 Customer Experience Trends

Consumers have always been looking for easy.

Easy way to consume information.
Easy way to shop.
Easy way to get directions.


What has been lost in a digital age is a personal connection on the other end. People don’t greet their mailman or have store owners who know what they want in a new wardrobe. They certainly don’t ask the friendly gas station clerk how to get from point A to B. But people still need to be heard, understood, helped and valued.

Be encouraged! There is a new day in business. Customer experience is being moved where it should be – the forefront. Companies are actively watching the Zappos, Chick-fil-A and Amazons of the world succeed by stepping into the shoes of their customers and providing them an amazing experience.


Here are some things to expect from CX in 2018:


Customers Are Smart


Reviews are a click away. There has never been a commerce culture so heavily affected by a limitless referral network. Companies realize they don’t have multiple chances to prove themselves and will need to invest in resources to deliver above and beyond what their consumers expect.


Make It Easy


We said it’s all about “easy,” right? There is a direct correlation between customer satisfaction and how easy it is to use your service or purchase your product. We recently saw this in a survey of our B2C fan base. The exact percentage of respondents who rated their purchase experience as “extremely easy” also were also identified as NPS “Promoters”.      


Less Is More


It’s great that more companies are hungry for the voice of the customer, but drowning consumers in a lengthy survey or flooding them with feedback requests will cause survey fatigue and may even cause opt-outs to. Ask efficiently and timely about areas where you’re able and ready to take action.


More Maps, Please


Customer journey mapping is a key process to stepping in the shoes of your consumer base to see how they experience your goods or services. This will no longer affect only the customer service department. In 2018 these maps will better serve the organization as a whole if companies choose to build strategies around key journey touch points rather than by silo processes.


About Those Feelings


In business it can be a bit odd to discuss the feelings behind why we purchase or engage with businesses. Heads up! Every transaction involves an emotion and leading CX efforts must include listening to these feelings and reporting them to your entire company.

“Making customers feel listened-to will remind society that, behind every one of the trillions of transactions that make up our economy, sits a person — a friend, a neighbor — who deserves to be treated as such.” ­ - Max Israel, Founder and CEO of Customerville

Reference website articles:
Experience Matters

3 Easy Ways to Market to Parents of High School Students

Marketing to parents of high school students
feels tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.

Parents are incredibly busy and have little time to waste on things that aren’t immediately relevant or important to them.

Effective marketing programs targeting parents of high school students should be focused on the one thing that is completely relevant and important to them – their children.


There are 14.9 million high school students in the U.S. Families spend $117.6 billion dollars annually on their teen children, including food, apparel, personal care and entertainment.

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So how can your brand better connect with parents of high school students and secure a bigger slice of this gigantic financial pie?

The answer is simple.

Create dynamic marketing platforms that get inside the walls of high schools and connect with the students.

If you show love and respect for the students, the parents of these high school students will show love and respect for your brand


Here are three dynamic marketing platforms Huddle has created for brands to use in reaching high school students.

Take a look at each of the platforms and think about how your brand can create something amazing to serve this audience.

Graduation Platform


Huddle discovered high school guidance counselors were starving for tools to engage their at-risk students, and the guidance counselors also wanted to boost academic performance.

A major Fortune 500 brand wanted to connect with this audience to drive traffic to their stores while creating meaningful relationships in their local communities.

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Based on being able to meet the needs of the high schools, students, and the sponsoring brand, Huddle created and activated a graduation program.

The graduation program enabled the brand to target at-risk students who were in danger of not graduating high school. It also gave school administration the tools they so desperately needed to get students excited about their future after high school.


A marketing kit was provided to high schools to help them promote the program. Items contained in the kit included countdown-to-graduation clocks, notebooks, tee shirts, posters and pledge cards. Students who pledged to graduate also received a free menu item.


The program challenged competition between schools and motivated young people to stay focused on their education.

And the results were massive.

At the start of the program, 100 participating high schools had results of over 8,700 students who pledged and school influencers reported 95% positive effect on students.

The program then grew to 42 markets, reaching over 2,000 high schools and over 2 million teens. And over 77,000 students pledged to graduate!

The brand watched the program empower high schools. The students loved it, and the parents of high school students loved it because of the investment and encouragement made in the lives of their children.


Pledge for Your Future

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An official National Football League™ sponsor worked with Huddle to leverage its endorsement of a Seattle Seahawks’ player. The sponsor wanted to educate students on the importance of graduation and inspire them to do more.

The sponsor provided schools with a player cutout, posters, and digital marketing support to promote the campaign. The pledges were collected through a customized, branded website.

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The Pledge for Your Future campaign received over 32,000 online pledges from 170 high schools in Seattle. The winning school received $5,000 and a visit from the player. And five runner-up schools each received $1,000.

The parents of high school students were also inspired by the campaign, prompting them to encourage their children to dream big dreams!


Thank You Mom

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A large restaurant chain worked with Huddle to engage 844 high school booster clubs across the U.S. Each restaurant was paired with a local high school to coordinate a catering fundraising event.

Participating schools submitted a catering form with their requested catering event date. Huddle then communicated this information to the restaurant general manager.

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Each restaurant delivered two free 100-person catering events to be used by the school in the fall and spring. 

Athletic directors at the high schools also received “thank you mom” cards to be distributed to the moms of the athletes. The cards included a thank you message and a $10 off $30 coupon.

Additional marketing support of this marketing platform included game meal passes, program playbooks, and banners.

Huddle made each of the sponsoring brands look and feel like heroes in their local communities.


Do you want to be a hero in the communities you serve?

Just let us know how we can serve you. We’re here for you!


Sources: National Center for Education Stats; Refuel Agency Digital Millennial Teen Explorer; www.statisticbrain.com


Meerkats in the Spotlight

We have been growing like crazy at Huddle, and with that growth comes great talent and experience from some of our newest Meerkats! We’re so happy to have Lawrence Pede join our family as our Chief Financial Officer! He is the perfect addition to our crazy team.


Quick fun facts about Lawrence:
He is three quarters Italian and one quarter Irish.
he is a way better cook than all of us!


We thought it would be fun to put Lawrence on the spot and ask him some questions in true Huddle form to make him a little uncomfortable and see if he’s as weird as the rest of us. We think you’ll find his answers quite entertaining.


Here comes the weird:

Who would you most like to swap places with for a day?

If I could swap with anyone it would be a surf instructor. I would love to swap with a guy who works on a beach in Costa Rica to be specific.


But realistically, I’d like to swap places with Joey Thacker, our CEO. Not because he is the CEO, but just so I can drive his massive pickup truck for a day. I have truck envy so I’d be living the dream if I could just swap vehicles for the day.


What are some of your pet peeves?

I HATE buzz words and hand gestures. I will usually go out of my way to not use buzzwords, but I can’t tell you the one I hate the most so I don’t offend anyone. I also really, really hate bad food.



What are words you would use to describe Huddle?

I know it’s cheesy, but it couldn’t be truer: FAMILY is the first word I think of to describe Huddle. The family unit here is something special. I also think the word GROW describes Huddle.


There is growth in every department, and it is necessary for any organization.


What’s your favorite place in the world?

The beach. Other than the Italian coast, the gulf coast is my absolute favorite beach, and we have been going there for years.



What two individuals, living or dead,
would you like to eat dinner with the most?

My first thought is George Washington (great hair), and my maternal great grandfather Thomas. 

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Thomas was a staircase builder in Manhattan, and my mother has an old wood working tool he used for his job that is framed in her house. If I had dinner with him I hope he would tell us all about his life while working in Manhattan. I wonder what he would think of the city today?

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What is your favorite family tradition?

Sunday night pasta nights with my wife and two girls are my favorite. I love making this one pasta dish with homemade sausage and broccoli in a white wine sauce and homemade crusty bread!



What is your favorite part about working for Huddle?

I GET TO WEAR THESE SNEAKERS (props feet up on desk with excitement)! The last time I had a pair of these Adidas Gazelles was 1991. When I realized I could dress casually at Huddle, I had to have them again. I have never had the chance to wear sneakers to work until now.


All joking aside, I do love the closeness and comradery of this team and the roots of the company. This place truly feels like a family.

There you have it folks, a little insight in to our family!

We are so happy Lawrence has joined us, and we know he is a pivotal part of our success as a company.

Top 5 Video Marketing Tips for Your Business

If you’re reading this, then you have already beaten the odds.

The average American has a smaller attention span than a goldfish. Yep, you read that correctly. The average attention span is eight seconds.


This can create a serious challenge for your business. But have no fear, we have a solution to your problem.

According to Forbes, 90% of consumers stated a video helped play a role in their purchasing decision.  The same study stated video is projected to claim 80% of all web traffic by 2019.

With stats like that, your business needs to hop on the video trend quickly.  Don’t get left behind.


Here are 5 tips to help your video marketing stand out.

1. Tell a story people care about.   


The viewer is priority #1. Walk the consumer through what their life could look like if they were the main character in the story.  What are they missing out on if they do not take advantage of what you have to offer?


2. Short and sweet.


Nobody has time to waste.  Aim to condense the material into a few strong points that apply to the needs of the viewers. Give them enough information to create an impression without dragging on with unnecessary details.  


3. Call to action.

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Motivate the viewer to take an action step at the end of the video. People need to be prompted with what to do. Leave them already knowing the next step they need to take with your business.


4. Post the video on multiple platforms.


Maximize your video’s engagement across all possible platforms. If your business has a social media presence, be sure to design a video that can be used different social platforms.


5. Analyze your results to determine the next thing to test.


Pay close attention to the impressions of the video and the overall success. Change the direction you go for the next video to see what consumers respond best too.

The goal of your video marketing campaign needs to be clear. How can you position your brand message to consumers quickly and as clear as possible? 

You have 8 seconds to create a lasting impression.

How are you going to do it?

High School Athletics is A Big Business

The power of high school sponsorships for
athletic programs has never been greater!

High school athletics is a big business.

It’s becoming easier to find sponsors with the amount of exposure a business gets in return. Larger schools with more exposure will obviously bring in a higher revenue than smaller schools, but small schools are holding their own.


 What Makes High School Sports A Big Business?

It’s hard to say that high school sports aren’t a big business when there are schools spending hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars on stadiums. In fact, a high school in Allen, Texas recently spent $60 million on a high school football stadium. After all, everything is always bigger in Texas! 


Will My Brand Get Enough Exposure
at the High School Level?

Companies are realizing how much exposure high school sports are receiving, and big brands are buying in. 


New Balance recently gave half a million dollars to help renovate a high school football stadium in Massachusetts in exchange for naming rights. What high school would turn that down?

Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum), signed a 15-year deal with the California Interscholastic Federation for $8.5 million to broadcast high school football playoff games.

With more fans attending high school sporting events than collegiate or professional events, it’s time for your brand to jump on board!


Let’s look at the numbers:

According to a recent report from the National Federation of State High School Associations, high school sporting event attendance exceeded 500 million people across all sports.

Football gets the most attendance, when you consider it is a boys-only sport, with about 166 million fans. And basketball tops the list at 170 million fans combined with boys and girls games.


Other sports with significant attendance?

Soccer comes in at 24 million fans, baseball at 20 million, volleyball at 17 million and softball at about 16 million fans. And these are for only regular season attendance!


Another 40 million people attend
playoff events in these sports!

These significant numbers have gained attention of big name brands and businesses are more willing to provide sponsorship money as a result. With this kind of exposure, it’s only natural for a business to want their name displayed where the visibility is the highest.

We have found brands want to know several things before they partner with a school including attendance for events, where their name will be displayed, demographics of people who will see the advertisements, and how the money will be spent.

Traditional advertising on items like shirts and cups do not work anymore in this digital age.


How will your brand jump into high school sponsorships?

Here are
5 epic high school sponsorship ideas
your brand can own right now.


How to Make High School Marketing Easy

Engaging high schools to market your brand’s products and services can be tricky.

There are 26,000 high schools nationally, with each operating in a distinctly unique way.


And depending on your brand’s specific marketing initiatives, there can by numerous influencers within each high school who may be impacted by your involvement.

Through 18 years of high school marketing experience,
Huddle has navigated some choppy waters and learned a lot. 


How to Do High School Marketing the Right Way


Meet a Need.

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You won’t get very far if your brand’s marketing initiative doesn’t help the school in a tangible way. Schools have real needs, and your brand can help. Determine an authentic way to lend a helping hand and your brand will be embraced.


Create Relationships.


No one likes an interaction that feels cold and transactional. Get to know the amazing people at your local high school. Show them your brand cares about them. A terrific relationship makes all the difference.


Think Beyond Sports.


When most businesses think about high school marketing, they think about sports. While sports do offer tremendous opportunities to sponsoring brands, there is so much more opportunity inside the walls of the high schools. Think about graduation programs, bands, and community service initiatives, to name a few.


Testing is Good.


Don’t feel like you need to have all of the answers when you start. Much like when you were in college, experimentation can be a good thing! All kidding aside, you’ll need to implement a test or pilot program to see what works and what doesn’t. Then, all you need to do is more of what works. Easy, right?


Be Relevant.


Do your high school marketing efforts need to be relevant to the schools? Yes. But your initiatives also need to be relevant to your brand. This is when the magic really starts to happen. Make certain to design a program that is relevant to both.  

If you want to learn more about successful high school marketing programs, check out this guide titled
How to Generate ROI through Leveraging High Schools.


You’ll enjoy reading case studies from Wendy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Taco Bell.

And if you have any questions, send an email to jvaughn@huddleinc.com. I’m happy to share more insights to help you improve your high school marketing programs.

Ready or Not Here I Come

Have you been out of your comfort zone lately? Graduating college and moving into the adult world is no joke. It’s a complete life change that will force you to try new things whether you want to or not.

For four years I lived in Auburn, Alabama, within one mile of all my best friends. Auburn was my comfort zone then, but my life was about to change drastically.


Ready or not, here I come!

I graduated in May and moved back in with my parents until I could figure out my first move into the so called phase of “adulting”.



I accepted an internship and quickly learned that diving in head first was my only option. As soon as I jumped in, I began growing both professionally and personally. I challenged myself to be a sponge that was constantly absorbing new information.


Here are a few things I am learning in my “sponge stage”:


Be open to new things.


Be open to new projects, new relationships and new growth. Like a sponge, I have a lot of things to soak in just by listening and learning from others. If I’m not learning something new every day then I’m not spending my days wisely.

It’s good to be uncomfortable.


The more uncomfortable situations I put myself in, the more I am pushed and challenged. I choose to see the unknown as an opportunity to learn something I have never learned before.

Do everything with passion.


I read a quote by Rosa Nouchette Carey that said, “Do it with passion, or not all.” This struck a chord with me and motivated me to do even the smallest things with passion.

Attitude is everything.


I keep my attitude at the top of my “to do” list every day. It’s easy to get bogged down by all that I don’t know, but I think it’s important to focus on all the things I’ve learned and how far I’ve come. Choosing your attitude before you get out of bed in the morning will set the tone for your entire day.

The change from college to adult life wasn’t quite as scary because I took it in portions I could handle.

If you’re open minded, uncomfortable and passionate all while having a good attitude, then you’re already setting yourself up for success.


Get uncomfortable and make today a good day.

5 Misconceptions about High School Marketing

There are a lot of reasons corporate decision makers think high school marketing isn’t right for them. These reasons often stem from previous failed attempts at marketing in the high school space.

The purpose of high school marketing is to implement a strategy that raises awareness in the local community and persuades people to do business with you. It’s about making the cash register ring!  

Huddle helps brands drive sales and build dominant brand awareness by forming successful partnerships in high schools across the country. We’ve found some brands don’t see the importance of marketing in the high school space, so we’re here to dispel some misconceptions.


Here are five common
high school marketing misconceptions:


1. High school marketing is just your logo on a banner.

High school marketing is all about promoting your brand in a space that is meaningful and allows you to reach thousands of customers who are loyal to their community.


Think of a school contest or challenge, themed nights at your business, graduation incentive programs, or traffic driving coupons on event tickets.


2. School partnerships are a waste of money.

When this thought comes to mind, you’re effectively saying your service or product is a waste of money. Think about it. You want to grow your business, but you’re not willing to invest in marketing to the very people who are your customers and potential customers.


Instead of purchasing a giant billboard on a highway, try creating a campaign where the winning teams and fans of high schools in your markets receive a discount or promotional item that drives those patrons to your business. Everyone wants to brag on their winning team, and your brand should be a part of the excitement!


3. I can’t make a return on my investment all year long.

Yes, school is not in session all year long, but school events are year-round. Schools are constantly hosting tournaments, competitions and camps throughout the calendar year that can expose your brand to an even greater audience.


Think about the possibilities for your brand when
the sheer volume of 25,000 schools and 394 million fans
across the nation are considered.

There are so many marketing opportunities out there. Some can provide fast results, while others are more of a slow burn. But high school marketing will help you get meaningful results and build brand loyalty.


4. Marketing to high schools is easy.

Marketing in the high school space, and doing it well, requires a high level of trust from the school. Schools want to know that brands interested in partnerships are aware of the needs within the school.


We’ve helped brands establish schools’ trust by implementing programs that work. Programs that create excitement for the school while driving sales for the brand. At Huddle, we want our brands to look good to the school and feel good about the partnerships they’ve formed.


5. I just want to put a little bit of money towards
marketing until I see results, then I’ll invest more.

We’re not trying to be the bearer of bad news, but marketing is an investment in yourself and your business. Would you hire a personal trainer and say I’ll workout with you once every other week, and once I start seeing results, I’ll workout with you more?

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When it comes to high school marketing, it’s important to strike a balance between what you can invest and how many schools and fans you can reach with that investment.

The larger the investment, the larger the reach,
and the higher the return overall!

If any of these misconceptions have crossed your mind, we hope you feel more confident in your brand being successful in the high school space.


High school marketing will help you
reach the right audience at the right time.

And with the right approach,
you’ll see massive results.



7 Charming Ideas Your Customers Will Love

Are you reaching the heart of your business this Valentine’s Day? Our customers are the reason for our existence in any industry. So how can we show them some love?

A January 2018 poll found that 45% of respondents don’t plan to buy a gift for their loved one, yet 19 billion dollars is spent on Valentine’s Day each year. Many of these consumers will shop online exclusively for Valentine’s Day. This means online advertising that focuses on Valentine’s Day would be beneficial, ecommerce stores and local business.



Position your business as a destination for Valentine’s Day gifts and celebrations with these
heart throbbing marketing ideas:


1. Charm Your Audience in Your Email Marketing

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Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to captivate your customers with a themed email marketing campaign.

Start with an irresistible subject line like, “We’re in love with these hot February deals”, or “Valentine’s Day treats for you and yours”. Hint at the actual contents of your email, but be clear about any special offers. Try including emoji’s in your email subject line where appropriate as emojis have been shown to positively increase open rates. Always keep in mind the content of your email should be appealing enough to drive customers to your website.

2. Run a Campaign of Themed Polls on Social Media

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TwitterSnapchatFacebook, and Instagram all support polls, and these are a fun way to drive engagement with your audience. Aside from Twitter, they can be visual, and your audience doesn’t need to do anything aside from selecting one of two options.

Make it more relevant to your business by including some of your products in the polls: feature two of your products and ask the audience which they are more likely to give as a gift. A clothing retailer could show two outfits and ask their audience which they would most likely wear on a date. Keep the tone fun , and take full advantage of the visual aspect of polls.


3. Use Hashtags


Hashtag campaigns drive engagement and brand awareness. Although they don’t always include the brand, it’s important that it becomes associated with a brand. Find a way for your brand to “own” the hashtag.

Be sure to choose a unique and memorable hashtag for your campaign, and create enough of your own content to post in the beginning to spark interest and generate awareness. Offering a prize for the best piece of user-generated content will also help generate interest and encourage engagement.


4. Send Your Customers a Valentine’s Day Card

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The most traditional aspect of Valentine’s Day is sending a card to the object of your affection. Keep this tradition going by sending cards to customers in your email marketing list. After all, they are the object of your affection: you love them for choosing your business, for supporting your business.

Don’t be tempted into using this as an opportunity to sell them something. Keep it informal with a message like “Customers like you are the HEART of our business!”. Maybe encourage them to continue supporting your business, is include a special offer with the card.

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Your offer could be a voucher they redeem next time they shop, or a unique promo code to apply at checkout online. Don’t be too restrictive with the terms and conditions of the offer.


5. Adapt Your Mobile Push Notifications for Valentine’s Day

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Does your business have a mobile app? Do you regularly send push notifications to users of the app?

Push notifications can be annoying at times, but if you’ve already found the perfect strategy where your notifications aren’t annoying, actually get opened, and convert, you can probably find a way to carry this through to Valentine’s Day marketing.

Avoid sending out more notifications than you usually do, but instead look at how you can adapt your wording and special offers to be more romantic and thematic. Restaurants could remind users to make a Valentine’s Day reservation, florists could announce cut-off dates and times for Valentine’s Day deliveries, and ecommerce stores could link directly to their Valentine’s Day gift guide.


6. Pin Your Heart to a Local Charity

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Adding a bit of social responsibility is a good fit for any business, and Valentine’s Day is a great time to show that you care. Here are ways your business can demonstrate social responsibility:

  • Restaurants can sponsor and host a themed lunch or dinner and donate a percentage of each bill to a local charity.
  • Online retailers can ask customers to add a donation to a deserving cause before checkout. Your business should market a donation match from each customer so the customer isn’t doing all of the social responsibility.
  • You could raise funds by selling a product that is exclusive to Valentine’s Day. Ensure that 100% of the proceeds from selling these items goes back to the non-profit organization.
  • Provide a local school with arts and crafts supplies, and ask them to make Valentine’s Day cards to send to service personnel in the army or local hospitals.
  • Any acts of social responsibility are a great way to be remembered and will generate brand awareness. Maybe even the local press decides to cover your charitable behavior?
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7. Partner with Another Small Business

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There’s no denying that Valentine’s Day is good for business, but it means you are fighting against other businesses for a limited number of customers and their wallets. And many of these businesses aren’t even direct competitors to you. Pair up with another small business in your town where you don’t only get to double your reach, but you both benefit from a shared Valentine’s Day offer.

Nail salons can pair with hair salons, florists with local bakers or sweet shops; think complementary, but not direct competition. You can either promote each other’s products, offer gift packages that combine each of your products, or put together a combined gift guide. What works best will depend on both your business, and the business you partner with. The idea might seem a little strange, but it can work wonderfully in smaller locations.

Try any of these charming suggestions for your customers and see how much love you’ll get in return. After all, the customer is the heart of your business.

Show them some love!

5 Epic High School Sponsorship Ideas

At Huddle, we’ve been kicking butt and taking names in the high school space for 17 years. And we’ve learned a thing or two about helping corporate brands with their high school marketing and sponsorship efforts.

Would you believe we’ve pitched some ideas that
corporate prospects didn’t buy? Crazy, right?

But their loss is your gain. In this blog, for the first time ever, I’m going to share five incredible high school sponsorship ideas your company can jump on and own right now.

But hurry.
You need to call us before those other guys do!


1. Give 1


The primary goal of Give 1 is to encourage high school students, teachers, parents, and the local community to pledge to give one hour of community service. Give 1 grants people access to a better life one community at a time.


2. Quick Start

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Quick Start is designed to give high schools and families a turbocharged beginning to the school year through school supply donations. The program meets specific needs of the teachers, students and parents, and can be promoted through paid and earned media.


3. Spirit Rally

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This concept is similar to the Capital One Mascot Challenge at the collegiate level, but instead the emphasis is on high school spirit. The primary goal of the Spirit Rally is to engage students, teachers, faculty, and local communities to vote for their local (or favorite!) high school mascot.


4. Game Night


This marketing platform allows the title sponsor to “own” high school game nights through branded assets. Each high school receives branded tear drop signs, lawn signs, “Countdown to Game Night Clocks,” and tee shirts. Your brand will truly “own” game nights.


5. Dreams


The sponsor encourages high school students to share dream-related photos or aspirations through social media using a unique hashtag. Students are motivated to share their dreams, and several students will be selected to have their dreams fulfilled!

And trust me, there’s more ideas we’re chomping at the bit to share. We’re only limited by our imagination, and we have big imaginations!

Let us know if you’re interested in one of these ideas or in creating some new programs that make more sense for your brand.

Oh, and one last thing. We don’t bite.
In fact, most of our clients actually like us!

5 Tips for Making Your Story Matter

People aren’t buying your product, service, or idea. They are buying into the story that’s attached to it, and the story should focus on the outcome your audience needs. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good story? Storytelling is a natural form of communication used in every culture. It's an age-old tradition passed down for generations to help others understand backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences.

Storytelling is one of today’s most powerful content marketing tools. It provokes emotion and creates a connection between companies and their audience. Listeners stay tuned wanting to know more about a journey unfolding which keeps their attention and activates their imagination. More importantly, storytelling shows real life experiences we can all relate to.

To help deliver impactful stories during your next pitch, use these five tips to make you a storytelling genius.


1. Understand your audience. 


A story that doesn’t emotionally connect your solution to your audience’s problem isn’t a story. It’s just information. If you know your audience’s touchpoints and what is and isn’t valuable to them, you will tell the right story. Find out what brands your target audience trusts and see what they may be doing differently than you or how you can tell a better story.

Find common ground between your brand and the people you aim to serve. Common ground helps create empathy, and if an audience can relate to the story you are telling them, they’ll empathize with you and may begin to care. Lisa Cron says it best in her book, Wired for Story, “If I ask you to think about something, you can decide not to. But if I make you feel something? Now I have your attention.”


2. Know your message. 

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Be sure to understand what you're trying to convey to your audience and how your story relates to the action you want them to take. How do you want the audience to feel about your message?

Even as you move through your sales cycle, your pitch needs to cover product features and your kick-off meetings need to include the facts and numbers, all while telling a captivating story that makes you memorable.

3. Ensure your story has a structure. 


Your audience trusts a guide who has a plan. Make your plan for them simple and the actions you want them to take as clear as possible. A story should include specific time periods, names, relatable characters, and it needs to have a beginning (set-up), a middle (contrast or conflict), and an end (resolution and key takeaways).

The contrast in the story creates drama. The frustrations of your audience can be contrasted with the bright future ahead. Make your audience aware of the tragic ending that may happen if they do not do business with you. The old way vs. the new way, before vs. after, with vs. without, all deliver contrasts that resonate with the human brain.

4. Be authentic. 

Business storytelling nonfiction. If the audience can relate to a real-life story, you are making a connection and building trust. And people like to do business with companies they trust. An audience can sense authenticity and if they don’t see it, they will reject the story and the storyteller.


5.  Remember the audience is the hero. 


The product should not be the hero and neither should the presenter. Your audience should be able to see themselves as the hero in your story. Can they relate to the experience you’re telling? Donald Miller, the CEO of StoryBrand, a company that helps businesses clarify their messages, says the customer is the hero, not your brand.

The catalyst for any story is that the hero wants something. If your brand doesn’t identify something the customer wants, they will never feel invited into the story your brand is telling. Your business should act as a mentor and allow the customer to see himself as the hero in the story.

Stories are powerful, but don’t get caught
up in your own story.


Remember, a story is the framework for the life of a business. It shouldn’t be a trap, but it should serve as a catalyst. Some brands get so caught up in their story that they forget about how they can be valuable to their customers.

You can honor where your brand came from, but you should still live in the present. The great thing about a story is that it lives on. Real stories keep on telling and connecting with people. Keep your story alive by impressing your customers and give them the best experience possible.

Your story will build the foundation for trust,
but only a customer’s personal experience will solidify that trust into something that lasts.

Top Online Ad Trend Predictions for 2018

Can you believe it?

2017 marked the first time more money was spent on advertising online than on television! Digital advertising continues to adapt to the ever-changing way we communicate online.

Let's take a look at the online trends that emerged last year, and the ones we feel will become increasingly more popular in 2018!

Voice Search

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In 2018, voice search will continue to grow due to the huge rise in voice-based searches thanks to Amazon Echo and Google Home. Voice search offers marketers a clear idea of user intent because natural language can be used to make more descriptive searches.

Search engines and marketers will need to adapt quickly to take advantage of the possible integration of voice search into pay per click advertising. This will affect how marketers think about keywords and ad copy.


Did you know? 50% of searches are expected to be made by voice by the year 2020.

Our Tip: Start making sure your website and ads are voice-search friendly. Write your copy with natural language in mind and adjust keyword lists to account for users speaking to us in real world context. 


Audience Targeting

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Audience targeting is going to continue to get better. Google has been improving the options they offer advertisers for audience targeting. It’s now easier to target potential customers based on characteristics like their search behavior and demographic details. Ads will continue to become increasingly more targeted based on device, location, demographic information and interests.

Did you know? Nearly one third of all mobile searches are related to location.

Our Tip: Make the focus of your online advertising campaign on keyword, location, device, and audience targeting.


Pay Per Click


Have you noticed Google’s improvements to AdWords? They have removed side bar ads, leaving room for more characters in your ad, and pay per click ads now take up much more room on search engine result pages.

Did you know? Google is predicted to introduce more ad extensions which will increase the potential for your ad to be seen.

Our Tip: If your brand is not yet using online advertising methods like PPC, start today. You’re at risk of being left behind and never to be found on a search results page.


Image and Video

Image and video based ads are more popular than ever. Images are quickly becoming an important part of ads and show significant boost in click through rates. It is proven user engagement increases when visuals are used in content.

Video advertising is currently more affordable than paid search (which is increasing year after year) and we believe will continue to rise in popularity. Video is popular because of the nature of its fast-mobile connection, and the format is easy for consumers to digest.

Did you know? A study found that users who can see and hear ads experience higher brand awareness than those who only see, or only hear, ads.

Our tip: Examine the potential of video ads for your brand so you can take advantage of its increased user engagement and cost saving benefits.

What is your brand currently doing to actively
engage in the online ad world?


If you aren’t doing anything, it’s time to
wake up and get in the game!

Make 2018 the year of increased visibility for your brand.

You Do You - How to Celebrate Who You Are as a Company

Our company mission is to Serve Our Neighbors, but it’s a part of a grander design to do something that outlives us, something that transforms people, not just business.

Each year we come together to celebrate another year of living out this mission. Our CEO says to work harder on yourself than the business and the rest will take care of itself. Huddlefest is just that opportunity.

Interested in a Huddlefest for your company?
Here’s a recap of everything that went into making our 6th year celebration so great.


1. (Be Open. Be Growing.) Stack the deck. Get outside yourself.


We have six core values at Huddle and we hire and fire on them. Character is everything. True to human nature, we can be desensitized to the same message from the same leadership about the same values.

This year we brought in respected business professionals, professional athletes and external colleagues to participate in mini discussion groups about how they apply a specific Huddle value in their world.

Our employees got the chance to get outside themselves and grow as professionals as they learned from others. We’re aware we don’t have all the answers. We brought in people who know more to help us set “refresh” on the commitment to our values.


2. (Be Generous. Be Likable.) Be true to you and welcome others into the fold.


Each Huddlefest we have one night to invite friends, family and business colleagues around the city to join us for good food and drinks. This is always a great time of fellowship and laughter - two things we’re really big on here. This year we decided to make use of our wonderful southern weather and take this party outside, tailgate stlye: BBQ, inflatables, cornhole, tiki torches, you name it. We had a blast in t-shirts and jeans.

This is who we are – casual, youthful, a little odd and a lot of fun. It was such a blast to welcome guests into the fold to enjoy for just a few hours what we get to enjoy daily.


3. (Be Humble. Be Faithful.)


After a night of festivities, day two of Huddlefest looks slightly different. Each year employees are randomly matched with another employee for 12 months to set personal and professional goals and help each other attain them. We spent Friday morning recapping what we’ve accomplished, where we failed, and the impact our life experiences had on us over the last year.

I won’t lie, there are tears. But there are also laughs, applause and tears of joy. Know another company that gets this deep with its employees? Me neither. This is the good stuff, folks.

An event like Huddlefest takes months of planning, but it’s imperative to sustaining the corporate culture and employee experience. If you aren’t in a place to do something of this scale now, I challenge you to “do you” and figure out what you can implement. It will encourage the minds and hearts of your employees. It will change the trajectory of your company.


6 Ways Brands Can Improve Their Local Campaigns

Hyperlocal technology is constantly evolving and easily accessible for brands. So why aren’t more brands taking advantage of the opportunity? Only 7% of national marketers say they have effective local campaigns in place.

Instead of viewing hyperlocal technology as just another tool, brands should make it their number one priority to position themselves in front of their consumers.

Here are six strategies for making the
most of your local campaigns.


1. Always start with accurate data. 


Once your data is clean and normalized, you can connect it to any marketing channel you choose. This could start with taking customers to local landing pages for more information and a better overall experience.


2. Don’t be a pain. 


Consumers tune out email marketing messages when they don’t offer enough value, but the consequences of failing to deliver value with in-app marketing or push notifications are even more significant.

Consider the retailer app that sends the same message every day when you drive past a store on your way to work. You eventually find the notification to be annoying and uninstall the app.

If that same app gave you an exclusive offer while you were shopping in the store, it would be much more likely to get a reaction. Try tying consumer value creation to location and see how incredibly powerful it can be for your brand.


3. Remain focused on the connection with consumers. 


What customers want the most is a connection with the brand. They want to feel like the brand is speaking directly to them and giving them rewards for staying loyal. This is why loyalty and rewards programs have become so successful.


4. Stay relevant with social media. 


The great thing about national campaigns is that they’re highly efficient, but that efficiency comes at a huge cost: relevance.

National brand messages are usually not locally relevant. This is the key advantage for local businesses. Their messages are relevant to the consumers and communities in which they operate.

Here is a challenge for national brands: How do they market nationally with local relevance? The answer is through digital channels like Facebook, Google, Foursquare, Instagram, Yelp and even Twitter to some degree, with an emphasis on mobile.

It’s not just extending a national campaign to the local level. The messages and creative need to be locally relevant instead of just being locally targeted.


5. Combine location and time for maximum efficiency. 


Tailoring an email or online ad based on a person’s physical address or zip code is one way to localize your marketing, but today’s technical capabilities allow marketers to go even further.

Using technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons, retailers can deliver push notifications with messages to consumers the moment they walk into a store.

These opportunities allow even greater relevance than GPS-based campaigns because the marketer knows the person is in the store shopping. This is a true example of the ‘moment of truth’ phase in the consumer purchase cycle.


6. Form partnerships within communities. 


With six million check-ins per day, a lot of people are using various apps to connect with the businesses they love.

On the brand side, this is a huge opportunity to reward loyal customers or offer specials to get new customers in the door. Brands should always be aware of apps related to their industry and look for opportunities to make partnerships that help them connect locally.

With our very own GoFan website and app, brands can message fans after purchasing their high school event admission tickets.


Think about your brand in the hand of every fan before, during, and after the biggest rivalry football game in the community. Relevant ads and traffic-driving coupons based on a specific local market is a sure way to gain fans for your brand!


4 Master Tips for Your Social Media Marketing

Social media is a constantly evolving medium. From sites trending in your industry to the latest Facebook features and Instagram influencers, not to mention the development of completely new social media platforms every time you turn on your laptop.

How can modern marketers expect to keep up?


The secret is to embrace the change. If you want to make an impact with your social media efforts, it’s time to refresh your strategy. Here's what you need to know to master your social media marketing and to stay ahead of the ever-changing trends.

1. Customize your use of major and niche social media platforms.

Facebook is still number one and experts say this won’t change in 2018. In fact, Facebook is predicting that Facebook Live will be monetized and that the call-to-action buttons for local business pages will be updated.


Currently the top five social media sites in terms of reach and impact are:

1.     Facebook 
2.     Youtube
3.     Instagram
4.     Twitter
5.     Reddit


These networks are important, but there is also value in niche networks for many businesses. For example, DeviantArt is geared towards illustrators, designers, artists, and art enthusiasts with a network of 26,000,000. Yes, this site would be useless for an insurance brokerage, but incredibly powerful for a photography school.

Instead of spreading your resources too thin by trying to have your brand on every major site, create a strategy that makes sense for your industry and business.

Start with the biggest. Facebook is always a wise choice with 1.79 billion monthly active users. Choose one or two other major networks after you start big. Visual industries are well-suited for platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, while service-oriented industries may gain more leads from LinkedIn and Twitter.

After choosing your major networks, consider a niche social media network. Many have several million active users and offer unique ways to reach out to leads and build brand awareness.


2. Make Your Videos Sophisticated


A recent survey by Wyzowl found 84% of consumers said they have been convinced to make a purchase choice after viewing a brand’s video, and 91% watched a video to learn about a product or service they were interested in. Yet only 63% of businesses take advantage of video right now.


Videos that engage with viewers tend to be very effective. Customer testimonials and demonstration videos will always be valuable, but try adding challenges, games, and surveys to your video content along with informational videos to keep people interested and talking on social media. Buzzfeed’s Tasty does an excellent job of this.

For some businesses, live streaming can make a strong impact. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all being used by savvy brands to engage with consumers in real-time with interviews, Q&A sessions, and brand events.


If you haven’t started using video, 2018 is the year. If you have been using promotional videos on your social media channels, it's time to make them better. The use of video for social media marketing is no longer ‘new.’ It’s about coming up with creative, fresh ideas that will capture your audience and turn them into leads.


3. Focus on Influencers


A business could run eleven different social media accounts, with Twitter updates every two hours, Facebook postings twice a day, Pinterest boards, and an active presence on LinkedIn. But they still would not make the same impact that a couple of mentions by one major social media influencer would create. The big influencers have an enormous following of people who often look to them as an industry guiding force.


While in the past, consistent, regular posting was the way to go, make sure you aren’t overextending your marketing efforts with too many platforms – and too many posts. You may not just be draining your resources, but these resources may be better spent with a more concentrated focal point, like an industry influencer.

A social media mention from an influencer, or a video post that mentions your product or service, is going to reach a broad and engaged audience. Many major companies are now partnering – and paying – the big influencers to promote their products. If you want to master social media, pay attention to who the influencers are in your market based on the social media outlets that best suite you.

They don’t have to be the biggest names around, but with a few hundred thousand followers, you can make an impact if those people share, like, tweet, or feature your content in some way.


4. Examine Your Social Media Ads


Ads continue to be a popular social media marketing tool as they offer marketers a cost-effective way not just to build brand awareness, but also to test products and messaging and collect important feedback for building future campaigns.

Facebook ads still offer the best ROI of 95.8% compared to 63.5% on Twitter, and 2.1% on Snapchat. However, these numbers can shift quickly, especially as the newer networks like Snapchat and Instagram evolve in 2018.


Take a fresh approach to your social media marketing efforts to take advantage of the opportunities available. It doesn’t make sense to just pound away at your existing accounts and follow general trends. Your marketing efforts should be both sophisticated and much more creative. The brands that master these qualities will surpass their competitors in 2018.

The secret is to embrace the change. Advancements and the constant stream of innovations have provided marketers with so much to work with. Just remember, your social media marketing campaigns this year are not going to look the same as what you used last year, at least not if you want to generate more leads and stand a chance against your competitors.

When Did Small Become HugeJan

The big, multibillion dollar companies have all of the advantages in business, right? Think about it. They have a lot of the top talent, can afford any piece of equipment or software, and some even offer unique perks like daycare and dry cleaning services.

But let’s think about this a bit more. Do huge businesses really have all of the advantages?

In his book Small is the New Big, Seth Godin discusses how being small can actually be a significant advantage in the marketplace.

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Let’s look at 15 the most important insights we can learn about the power of being small in a big world.

1.  Respect is the secret to success in dealing with people.

2.  Do something that matters.

3.  Don’t stall. Start now. Expose your ideas. Interact.

4.  If your target audience isn’t listening, it’s not their fault, it’s yours. If one story isn’t working, change what you do, not how loudly you yell (or whine).

5.  Hard work is about risk. It begins when you deal with the things you’d rather not deal with: fear of failure, fear of standing out, fear of rejection. Hard work is about overcoming obstacles.

6.  Big opportunities bring change, and change is painful.

7.   Marketing is about wants, not needs. Give me what I want or I’m out of here.

8.     People who make up new rules continue to be in short supply.

9.     Competent people resist changes. In fact, competence is the enemy of change. In the face of change, competent people are helpless.

10.  Make stuff worth talking about first. Then talk about it.

11.  Figure out what the always is. Then do something else.

12.  There is no correlation at all between success and hours worked.

13.  People judge you by the way you make them feel. So how do you make people feel?

14.  Quit making stuff and start making a difference.

15.  Start building something that people will remember.


Wow. Powerful insights, right?

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I’ll leave you with one simple question that now demands an answer.

Why not choose to be great?