5 agency trends to know in 2019


Last week I traveled to my favorite city in the USA, New York City, for the Digital Agency Expo 2019. Content ranged from strategic insights to tactical things we can implement now. The biggest thing I learned, although it seems a little passé to repeat – you get out what you put in. I spent four days living our Flint Group mantra and was ALL IN. I sought out at least one nugget from each session, listened intently and most importantly: networked, connected and talked to people.


1. Tools to jump on. Now.

LinkedIn and TikTok.

Gary Vaynerchuk gave an honest, transparent and charismatic talk with more insights than I can possibly include here. As a marketing maven he said, “Quadruple down on LinkedIn. It’s the free organic reach tool that Facebook was in 2015.” Here are some LinkedIn marketing strategies Gary recommends. And for a much more cutting edge platform for brands … jump on TikTok. Here is his TikTok for business rationale.

My core passion at Flint is brand experience, which is really about psychology, emotion and behavior. This timely LinkedIn post by Dan Phan perfectly captures why exploration of new tools as a marketer, even if you’re not the target audience, is critical in understanding behavior.

“WTF is TikTok?? Ok so in an effort to practice what I preach, I joined TikTok. Boy did I feel old! If you know a Gen Z, then you’ve probably heard of it, but don’t know what it is. Even if you think you’re too old for it, if you work in retail, marketing, ANY BRAND, you need to explore it, understand it, and realize the way you communicate with Gen Z is different so you can get ahead of this change. Yes, this app could be gone in a few years, but it’s not about the technology – it’s about the behavior. Spending a few minutes this morning I was able to see the relationship between Target and their guests on this platform. Are you going to download it?”


2. Video on LinkedIn is HOT right now (and impactful)

The call to use video feels overdone, but effectiveness is worth preaching its use. Once you’ve jumped on LinkedIn, double down on video content in the platform. Consider thinking outside the box and using an animated character or at minimum, just motion. Goldie Chan, top LinkedIn Video creator and the “Oprah of LinkedIn” – who has the most inspiring hair I’ve ever seen – provided a ton of insights. LinkedIn is one of the best ways to increase awareness for your brand and attract new customers. In addition, use it to amplify a product launch and create thought leadership. According to Goldie, 80% of content consumed on the internet is video. So there ya go. LinkedIn Live video is in beta and you can apply to be on the cutting edge. Good luck!

A few general LinkedIn tips:

  • Target audiences differently. Are you targeting your peers? Employees? Competitors? Clients or customers? Be clear on your content strategy for your messaging.
  • Be consistent. Make sure you have a content calendar with themed dates and regular postings. We humans like consistency – let’s feed it!
  • Consider your caption. The LinkedIn caption is critical. Is it readable, relevant and shareable?
  • Use a cross-platform strategy. If you’re driving your audience to another site, make sure you put the URL in the first comment, not the core LinkedIn caption. This will help support the algorithm in showing your content. In addition, use hashtags in the caption if you want to direct someone there, and use no more than five hashtags after the caption if you want to be found.
  • BONUS TIP: I work for a branding and digital agency, so I’m not going to say “no one uses business cards anymore,” because I still like the tangible exchange; HOWEVER, I learned a tip for sharing your LinkedIn contact with your new network connection. Open the LinkedIn app. Up at the top, to the right of the search bar, you’ll see grid of three squares and an X. Click that, then click either the “Enable Camera Access” to scan someone else’s code, or click “My Code” for them to scan your code. Done. New connection made.


3. Copy matters (if you want people to do something)

This may seem like a no-brainer. But let me tell you from years of experience, really good copywriters are hard to come by. And by good, I mean impactful and effective. People are consuming more information than ever before, and a ton of people claim to be expert copywriters. One thing to note: There’s a difference between copy and content. See below how Jennifer Hudye of Conscious Copy & Co. explained the difference.

  • Content is meant to inform. Copy, on the other hand, understands how to use human psychology to persuade a behavior.
  • Good copy comes from great research – and by understanding the value and mindset of those you’re trying to persuade.
  • And my favorite: The goal of your copy isn’t for them to understand you: The goal is for them to feel understood.

This was stated in no fewer than three of the sessions – double down on understanding what really great copy is and find someone who can do it well.


4. Document. Don’t create. Amen, GaryVee.

Companies try to create so much content. When, in reality, in social, people want transparency around how a company solves problems. They want a look into the minds behind the products they use or the services they buy. Photographer and business strategist Jasmine Star talked about how she uses Instagram to tell her story and share much of the behind-the-scenes work. Gary Vaynerchuk is on a much bigger journey of documenting his entire life, beyond his thought leadership. Think about your brand. How can you document what’s at the heart of it versus trying to create the story?


5. (The most important takeaway…) Relationships are key. Period.

This tip wasn’t from one speaker, or a particular presentation. This was the holistic takeaway from the conference. “Learner” is one of my top five strengths, so I spend a lot of time reading, watching, and learning online and through podcasts. But I also have the “Connectedness” strength and I spent a lot of very intentional time connecting and talking to people. There’s a certain energy and inspiration you get from other humans that you can’t get online or in a book. But it takes energy to put yourself out there, introduce yourself and ask questions.

I picked the brains of people like Dominic and Ivana Cummins of RightMind on how to sell when it doesn’t come natural. I talked to Doug Foley about not being afraid to do video or podcasts, because, beyond your own fear of vulnerability, what’s the real risk versus the potential gain? I talked to Oli Billson about thinking bigger, productizing services and investing in yourself. The relationships and connections I made last week will have a bigger impact than any presentation I could have sat through. Want to grow your business? Make connections and build relationships.

If you want to know more about anything you’ve read here, or how we can help build your brand experience, connect with me.

Jen Strickler

With her passion of understanding and crafting experiences, Jen works with clients to integrate digital communication strategies into their overall marketing matrix. From defining the usability standards of simple websites to full digital communication plans, Jen defines appropriate solutions to help clients meet their business objectives. With over 20 years of experience, Jen believes that effective interactive work must be relevant and intuitive. She works closely with the entire digital team in architecting and validating cohesive user-focused solutions that work seamlessly into the user’s journey with a brand. She also really enjoys the salted caramel cupcakes from Hy-Vee.

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