Jeffrey Caruk is the Vice President of Brand Partnerships at Fifth Story. Here, he shares his insights on digital ads, the latest way to use video and key steps most marketers miss.

1) How do you see brand partnerships and account management evolving as content marketing efforts and expenditures continue to grow?

Historically, clients would specify a problem to be solved and provide a specific budget, but that’s no longer the case. With endless opportunities and rapid changes to the marcom landscape, clients come to us for direction on the most important areas of focus —not only for ROI but also to remain relevant.

Now, I see account directors needing to function as business leaders and problem-solvers who can provide guidance, perspective and clarity. We also need to understand all facets of marketing and understand them well. Developing relationships, managing clients and understanding their needs has not changed. But what a client expects and needs from an account director is changing as content evolves.

2) What do you think are the most valuable skills needed in your position working with clients?

As VP of Brand Partnerships, my focus is the client experience. I believe that focused and proactive project management is the key to nurturing, growing and retaining successful client partnerships. As such, I’m an advocate for the clients I manage, delivering exceptional counsel and direction across all fundamental marcom platforms.

My expertise building successful brand campaigns is defined by one rule: listening. Then begins the process of envisioning how all the pieces will come together to form the framework or the bigger picture. Truly understanding a client’s objective is paramount to delivering solutions and winning results. Only then can you carefully consider all aspects of craft and execution to ensure proper strategy is mapped out and aligned with brand objectives and budget.

3) What area are brands/companies overlooking or not spending enough resources on?

Brands need to spend more time mapping out their customers’ purchase journey, as buyers’ decisions now more than ever come down to convenience and ease of accessibility. Brands spend major time and money crafting key messaging and targeting specific audiences and niche demographics, but they can often fall short on converting customers if the purchase journey is lengthy and complicated. The process needs to be as simple and convenient as possible. Researching where and how your customers shop can streamline their journey and increase their positive experience with the brand.

4) You have a great deal of experience working with clients in home improvement and building materials, are there any common areas of success that they are seeing in their marcom efforts?

We have had great success leveraging search and display campaigns for clients in this category. This approach has worked because it delivers a tactical and targeted approach for clients in various building materials categories who offer a wide array of products and services that appeal to niche audiences. Qualified leads for the building category often outweigh quantity. Using a combination of search and display is a tactical approach to driving sales growth in the building materials category.

Search is important because customers searching specifically for a building product are more likely to convert, so we focus on conversion rates in this area. While using display, the user’s journey is different. They are often researching or reading content related to your product category, but they aren’t actively buying, which has a lower cost-per click. So, the cost-per-acquisition often balances out and offers a positive return on marcom spend when both tactics are deployed together.

Some clients in the building category have longer sales cycles, so using display can be a very powerful tool for generating and maintaining awareness. We have then found success using re-marketing efforts to deliver responsive content to prospects as they push along through the purchase journey.

5) We all know video is an effective way to communicate. What are the most interesting ways you have seen brands use video?

Video is used for everything now, but recently I’ve had a few clients approach internal communications initiatives with the same approached they have taken with external communications initiatives. With this client base we are often faced with complicated, less glamorous, more technical internal communication. Video has been instrumental in transforming the complex traditional technical manuals and training materials into refreshed, visually stimulating and engaging video content.

What was once a lengthy stale training manual, is now transformed into a simplified and condensed motion graphic video series. We have taken old lifeless sales manuals, revitalized them into ‘how-to-sell’ video sales modules, and turned boring product knowledge fact sheets into interesting, real-life case studies. I am most amazed and satisfied with the comments from my clients about how this investment in internal video has made such a positive boost to team morale, reducing employee training times and improving confidence among sales teams.