The Intentional Marketer has been recognized among the 10 best Digital Marketing Agencies In Virginia Beach in 2021 by DesignRush Marketplace.

DesignRush is a reliable online guide to finding the best professional companies and agencies categorized according to vertical and area of expertise.

After evaluating and analyzing The Intentional Marketer’s performance with some of the most prominent brands in the US, the online platform gave The Intentional Marketer a spot among the most reputable digital marketing agencies in Virginia Beach.

The Intentional Marketer was founded in 2016 by Sonya Schweitzer, a veteran marketing executive and strategist of 20+ years.

In 2020 with the global recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the agency helped clients pivot their strategies and optimize campaigns to adjust to the ever-changing landscape. Leveraging the agency’s deep knowledge of more traditional marketing tactics served alongside newer digital marketing tactics, clients were able to ride the storm and evolve to succeed.

DesignRush evaluates thousands of agencies and is committed to helping brands find the best solutions for their needs. The platform has a listing that allows users to search partners based on clients, portfolios, reviews, pricing structure, and testimonials. This recognition to The Intentional Marketer is one of many that distinguishes the agency and claims it’s excellence.

By Sarah Kuiken

You’ve been writing to the same tried-and-true ­customer personas for years, and it’s been going great. You know your customers inside and out, and they’re responding to your marketing like gangbusters as a result.

Or at least, they were – until the global pandemic hit.

(If you have no idea what a customer persona is, you’re marketing wrong.)

The Basics of Customer Personas

The idea behind personas is simple. Don’t write generic marketing copy designed to appeal to everyone, even if “everyone” is who you’d love to buy your product. Instead, pick specific people who exemplify your target customers, and market directly to them.

To do this well, you need understand your target market on the deepest levels. Their desires, their fears, their pain points and challenges …. And, of course, how your product or service can make all of their problems go away.

All of this should be top of mind whenever you’re creating any piece of marketing or customer-facing content.

Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has changed everything

If your sales are down post-COVID, it’s probably not a huge shock. Most businesses – especially those who sell things that are “nice to have” instead of necessary – have seen the direct impact of consumers pulling back on spending,

But don’t be too quick to blame the economy for lost sales yet. The problem could lie in your marketing.

Before you congratulate yourself for having sent out a “Our Response to COVID-19” e-mail, know this: just about every business out there has sent one of those. This includes a lot of businesses whose COVID-19 response was frankly not really a concern to their customers in the first place.

What this means to you is that consumers are pretty numb to this sort of thing. Odds are good that people took one look at the subject line and sent that e-mail straight to their trash folder.

We know. The truth hurts.

Messages that are too general, or those that lack genuine sensitivity for the shared experience of fear and grief that’s been everyone’s 2020 to date, are seen as self-serving.

People aren’t interested in that sort of thing, even from a business. Even if they understand that a business needs to make money.

Customer personas have changed their priorities and their purchasing habits in response to COVID-19. If you want your target audience to look at something you’ve written and think, “How did you get in my head?!” (and you do), you should pay attention to exactly how.

Here are 5 trends we’ve noticed in the way that different customer personas are responding to COVID-19 and other socioeconomic crises.

1. There’s a lot of fear

This is probably not earth-shattering news. You’re probably afraid yourself.

COVID-19 was devastating to large and small businesses alike, but small businesses in particular have suffered. Some estimates suggest that 35% of small businesses nationwide are in danger of closing their doors for good within the next quarter. Even if those doors are virtual.

Unemployment hit its highest rates since the Great Depression of the 1930s. A huge percentage of the population finds themselves out of work, or with a partner who is. If they’re still employed, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what the future will hold.

You cannot forget this when you communicate with your target market, particularly if they’re in a segment that’s been hardest hit.

2. Spending habits are changing

We know, this is a pretty broad statement. To know exactly how your customers’ spending habits are changing, you’ll want to look at your specific customer personas pre-COVID, and determine how they’re reacting to the recent economic downturn.

A fascinating article in EY recently broke down personas into past and projected future spending groups:

Each of the squares above represents a specific persona type, often tied to an age group.

For instance, the “Cut Deep” segment are generally over 45 years old, and saw the biggest impact on their employment status. The vast majority of people in this group have significantly reduced their shopping and have limited spending to essentials only.

This means that if you make a “nice to have” or luxury product and a group of now-unemployed parents are your target customer base, you’ll probably want to re-think some things.

3. Most don’t expect to return to “normal” any time soon

There’s a reason why you’re sick of the phrase “the new normal.” It’s here to stay – at least, for the foreseeable future.

Consumers expect their spending habits to change for a long time to come. Only 31% of consumers in the EY study said they expect their spending to return to normal in the next few months.

For everyone else, we’re seeing some new patterns. You know your customers best, or you should. Do some research on how they are responding to COVID-19, and pivot your strategy accordingly.

4. More people are buying local

As trust in bigger companies starts to erode at a quickening pace, lots of consumers are making active decisions to support local businesses. There’s a lot of emphasis being placed on local shops, restaurants, and brands.

People like to support the underdog in a crisis, and especially in a pandemic, they like knowing exactly where the sausage is made.

5. For some groups, value matters more than money

Again, this will depend on your exact customer personas, so do your research. But in general, many consumers are prioritizing the value of something above the cost.

Items are being seen as long-term investments now, particularly if they add to the experience of being at home, for parents and kids alike.

Particularly if your customer base skews slightly younger, you’ll notice a preference for high-quality, local goods that’s stronger than ever.

People might be buying less, but they’re putting more time and attention into the things they are buying.

6. Impact is increasingly important

A third of consumers say that COVID-19 has made them reconsider the things they value most, and more than a quarter are more attentive now to the impact of what they’re buying.

Who knows if this newfound sense of social duty will last. But if you can highlight any details surrounding a positive impact your business is making on the environment or your local community, do it.

How have you seen your customers change after COVID-19?

Let us know in the comments below. We love to hear about your experience!

Many of us use Pinterest for our personal use, but who is using Pinterest as a marketing tactic for their business?

Read on to for reasons why and tips on how you should use Pinterest for your business.

In 2010, I started a Pinterest account. Not a Pinterest Marketing account for business purposes, but a personal account – for my own pleasure. I pinned recipes, photos, and inspirational stuff like travel pics, etc. Things I was interested in. I created ‘boards’ containing collections of similar things and followed my friends and ‘liked’ their Pins.

I created a business account in 2012 for a business I worked with. I hadn’t really created any Pins myself until that point, but creating Pins was pretty easy and fun!  We saw some success back in those days of using Pinterest marketing for business. We increased our website traffic and even tracked some leads directly from Pinterest!

Fast forward to today…

Pinterest has evolved into a hugely popular search engine, shopping portal, social website, knowledge portal, and so much more!

Pinterest is a great marketing opportunity for businesses to share their knowledge with a larger audience, with the objective being to draw them into their own website where they can continue to share their knowledge, but also showcase and promote their products and services. The ultimate goal – new customers! 

The stats are mind-blowing!

Here are some pretty interesting numbers*:

  • 175 Million active users per month
  • 50 Billion + Pins
  • 1 Billion + Pinterest Boards
  • 81% of Pinterest users are actually Females.
  • 40% of New Signups are Men; 60% New Signups are Women.
  • Men account for only 7% of total pins on Pinterest.
  • Millennials use Pinterest as much as Instagram.
  • The median age of a Pinterest user is 40, however majority of active pinners are below 40.
  • Half of Pinterest users earn $50K or greater per year, with 10 percent of Pinteresting households making greater than $125K.
  • 30% of all US social media users are Pinterest users.
  • 60% of Pinterest users are from the US.
  • There are over 75 billion ideas on Pinterest.
  • 87% of Pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest.
  • 72% of Pinners use Pinterest to decide what to buy offline.
  • 67% of Pinners are under 40-years-old.
  • Over 5% of all referral traffic to websites comes from Pinterest.
  • Pinterest said 80% of its users access Pinterest through a mobile device.
  • 93% of active pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases and 87% said they’ve purchased something because of Pinterest.
  • Two-thirds of Pins represent brands and products.
  • Food & Drink & Technology are the most popular categories for men.
  • An average Pins made by an Active Female User is 158.
  • Recipes: There are more than 1.7 billion recipe Pins.
  • Shopping: Every day nearly 2M people Pin product rich Pins.
  • Articles: More than 14 million articles are Pinned each day.
  • Average time spent on Pinterest per visit is 14.2 minutes.

Are you still wondering why you should add it to your Marketing Strategy?

2 more simple reasons:  

  1. It can be a great lead generator (driving traffic to your website)
  2. It is great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) distributing your content and links that drive traffic back to your website. Google loves this.


1. What should I Pin?

One way to see what your niche market likes is by using the ‘search’ tool in Pinterest. Search for keywords that your niche might be looking for – this will tell you what your audience is probably interested in.

On Pinterest, people are looking for ideas and products that inspire to action. So let people find you because of your inspiring content. Build trust by continuing to provide value.

Then make sure your website allows for a smooth transition from Pin to page. That means a beautiful and engaging Pin should link to a beautiful and engaging web page.

A couple of ideas for Pins include:

  1. Memes
  2. Videos
  3. Helpful tips
  4. Infographic
  6. Customer testimonials
  7. Customers using your product
  8. Recipes or methods to create something (step-by-step guides)


2. Add the Pin-it Button

Once you have a Pinterest account and are Pinning to it, make sure you have aPin Itbutton on your website. Make your content easy to find and share to get the most exposure for it.

By adding a ‘Pin It‘ button to your website your brand or business will begin to see more activity and traffic.

3. Boards

To get your account setup and active, create 5 boards of a variety of topics that your niche is interested in.

Make sure the board’s title and description have keywords that are commonly used by your niche, align with your overall messaging for your brand and marketing efforts.

Next, create a series of about 7-10 pins in each board, varying the type of pin (quote, blog post promo, video, etc.)

Now you’re ready to go!

What NOT to do:

Promote yourself, your product or service. Insteadbe of service. Provide great content that is helpful and useable to your niche audience. Don’t worry – you’ll have plenty of other opportunities to promote your offer or service to them once they are further into your funnel (on your website, etc.)

Create pins about you, your team, your workplace. Pinners aren’t looking for that stuff. They’re looking for inspiration!

Be salesy or pushy!  Pinterest will not reward you!  No “10% off” or “50% off today!” or “Buy Today!” And don’t ask people to “repin” your content.

Stress about the number of followers you have! It isn’t that important! Pinterest’s strategy is to be a visual search engine where the importance of posting high-quality, engaging and relevant content outweighs the importance of building follower numbers.

Pin sporadically or infrequently. It’s recommended to post at least five times a day to get optimal results. I know… that is a LOT. But you don’t need to create all this content yourself. Curating and repinning popular content from others works (but make sure you have a good balance of your own versus other’s content).

Also, you can pin the same content to multiple boards – using social media management tools (like Canva – see below) to space out them throughout the day.

Use hashtags! They’re unnecessary and worthless on Pinterest. Save them for other social networks.


Let’s face it – who has time to spend hours on Pinterest every day posting pins? Make sure you use these tools to help you build your Pinterest Pins.

  • To create your pins (they have great Pinterest templates you can use!): Canva
  • For scheduling your pins (schedule your weekly or monthly Pins in advance!): Buffer
  • Great tips and strategies: Pinterest’s business blog


Happy Pinning! 



You’ve probably seen them – the glamorous photos of Instagram celebrities holding a product as the sun sets on a beach in Thailand. Or maybe you’ve seen the celebrities *unboxing their favorite monthly box subscription. They have a name: “Influencer Marketers”. And what they do is called “Influencer Marketing”.

*Unboxing – when you open and reveal contents of a subscription (or product) box in a very slow and dramatic way… with a heap of suspense and over the top ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’.)

Who are these “Influencers”?. They are bloggers, or fashionistas, or online personalities who have built a loyal following on platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook. They are trusted by their followers and have an influence on their audiences purchase decisions because of their credibility and knowledge of a particular industry or topic.

Unless you have a massive marketing budget, you’ve probably just ignored ‘influencer marketing’ as a tactic in your marketing strategy. Those celebrity influencers must cost a fortune, right?

Yes, some do! But there is another way!


Ok – what is an influencer?

An influencer can be a blogger, a YouTube video star or someone who posts regularly on social media.

A micro-influencer is an influencer with a smaller reach than big celebrities and influencers.

So how big (or small) is a micro-influencers audience size? There isn’t full agreement on this amongst experts, but I define it as anywhere from 1000-250000 followers.

5 truths about Micro-Influencers:

They’re more engaged!

The lower the number of followers, the more engaged the ‘influencer’ is likely to be!

Think about it – do the Kardashians respond to all their followers and engage with every one of them? They don’t have time for that. But a micro-influencer will.

A 2016 study by digital marketing firm Markerley found that the more followers an influencer had, the less engagement there is on their posts.

Hyper-focused on your niche

It can be much easier to find a micro-influencer who has intimate knowledge of your niche and is likely to have followers who are interested in that same niche.

The bigger the influencer, or celebrity, the harder it is to know what it is that they specialize in or have an interest in. And sometimes they have too many interests and your area of focus (or niche) is just one of many.

People buy from influencers

A 2016 survey by Collective Bias (an influencer marketing research company) found that 60% of respondents had considered recommendations by a blogger or social media post before making a purchase.

They don’t need to be celebrities.

In fact, it is better if they’re not! Collective Bias also found 30% of consumers were more likely to buy a product endorsed online by a non-celebrity than a celebrity. Among Millennials, 70% preferred a non-celebrity endorsement.

It is affordable!, a platform that connects influencers with brands, looked at what influencers were charging for a sponsored post and found that those with less than 2,000 followers charged on average $124 compared to $690 by those with between 250,000 and 500,000 followers. By the way, the cost for celebrities is way higher than this…

So how do you find Micro Influencers?

There are a number of ways Small Business can find micro-influencers. There are agencies, like Collectively, who are focused on connecting brands and influencers. But if your budget is small, then you can do the connecting yourself. All it takes is a little time spent on social media (yes, it is ok – it is ‘work’).

1) Look for people who are appealing to your customer base. Use the search bar and search for ‘hashtags’ related to your product or business. And then start clicking around.

2) Make sure they’re engaging with their audience. Responding to questions, and comments. And interacting. You want to make sure they’re ‘active’ in their account

3) Check through their posts. Do you like what you see? Are there any red-flags? Look for content that will appeal to your customers.

4) Check out these nine tools you can use to research micro-influencers.

How to work with influencers.

Now that you’ve found potential Micro-Influencers, it is time to connect with them and pitch your proposal.

First, make sure you know what your goal is. Is it leads? Sales? Traffic to your website? Or brand awareness? Will you want them to blog about your product? Then promote it on their social accounts? Or just take a video using your product and promote that.

Then ask these questions in your communication:

  1. Who are your followers? Age, location, gender and any other preference data that can help you determine if it is a good fit. Use your own customer profile to match against to make sure that your influencer’s audience matches yours. (If you need help creating your customer profile, let me know!)
  2. Have you worked with any of our competitors? Or brands/products in my vertical or industry?
  3. Have you heard of my brand before?
  4. Which social media platforms do you focus on? And what would be the best fit for my brand/product?
  5. What are your engagement rates on each of these platforms? Engagement rates are a lot more important than the number of followers or likes. Engagement rates show how many of these followers are actually engaging with the content by commenting, sharing, liking, clicking links etc.


You will need to establish how you will ‘pay’ for access to the influencers’ audience. And there are a couple of options you have to do this:

  1. Give the influencer a product or discounts as payment.
  2. Percentage of every sale that comes through the influencer’s network.
  3. Fee for each component of the plan. E.g. blog post, post to Instagram etc.

Long-term plans are becoming more of the norm. The standard rule of needing to get in front of someone 5-6 times applies here, and so having a long-term plan where the influencer is promoting your brand over the course of a few months will be more effective than a one-off mention on their account.

What’s next? Get started! 

Oh, one more thing, make sure that you hold your influencers accountable for disclosing the fact they’re being paid to feature, test and review your product or service. Influencer marketing is all based on trust… so be transparent and require your influencers to be as well!

Happy influencing!


Over the past week or so, there has been a lot of noise in the social media and marketing worlds about the social media platform “Vero”.

There have even been stories in Time and other more mainstream media publications, as well as the usual marketing and media outlets like Mashable.

It is:

  • The most downloaded app in 18 countries.
  • #4 Social Networking app in the Apple store.
  • Topped the iOS app charts earlier this week (but fell to No. 11 on Thursday)
What is all the buzz about?

According to Slate, Vera was founded in 2015. But it didn’t garner that much attention until last week when it announced that it would allow the first million subscribers to have free access for life.

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, the Vero revenue model is to make money from subscriptions, not advertising (for now), as well as transaction fees charged to brands that use the platform to sell products using the ‘buy now’ button.

A free membership announcement was all it took to have people subscribing by the droves, unfortunately crashing the Vero servers.

Note: They have since announced that they have extended the free membership until further notice, due to “service interruptions”.

Mass Migration

Why are people flocking to Vero? The most likely answer is because they’re sick of the rules that Facebook and now Instagram are forcing them to play by.

Facebook is renowned for changing the rules all the time. Just as you get used to doing things a particular way, they go and change the rules on you.

And Instagram’s newest algorithm has changed how posts are ordered. Posts that have more likes, comments or shares will be shown first, instead of in chronological order.

According to Vero “The feed is composed of your posts and the posts of people you’re either connected with or people you follow. We don’t curate it, manipulate it, insert advertising in it, or hold back posts. You see what has been shared with you when it’s been shared with you.”

Well, that is refreshing!

The good

Vero calls itself the “true social” network. A “social network for anyone who loves anything enough to share it – and wants control over who they share it with. Just like we do in real life. ” No constraints.

The user interface (UI) is pretty cool. It is easy to navigate and well laid out. 

You also have more control over the app. You have three segments of contacts – close friends, friends and acquaintances (similar to Facebook’s segmenting model).

But you can pick different avatars (profile pics) for each segment. So if you want to show off that funky side to your close friends, but your clean-cut image to your ‘friends’, you can do it.

It isn’t Facebook or Instagram (which for many, is the only reason they needed to flock to Vero).

Vero screenshots
The bad

With the sudden interest in Vero came immediate issues – the servers crashed under the volume of new subscribers.

The service is also buggy. (But let’s be fair – the service suddenly had 1MM+ new users!)

For a while, the ToS (Terms of Service) seemed to say that Vero could control, copy, take and use any content published on its network. Users were not happy.

ToS Vero on Twitter

Vero has since added a section to their ToS to try to better clarify who owns the content. (Whether or not this is clear enough remains to be seen.)

ToS Content Ownership

There are also stories circulating about the founder of Vero, who is the son of the former Lebanese Prime Minister. Including allegations of inhumane treatment of employees (at another business he owns). Ayman Hariri and his team have refuted those claims of his involvement, stating he wasn’t involved with the company during that time.

leaving in droves?

Yes, people are leaving. Maybe not in the droves in which they arrived, but they are leaving.

Most of them due to the bugs, performance issues, and well, the issues with the founder.

But, for some, leaving seems to provide a whole new set of issues!

It has been challenging to delete an account causing a lot of frustration for already unhappy users. Once you find the in-app ‘delete account’ request (it is in the Support menu), you submit a ‘request’ for Vero to delete your account. Some users have been waiting a while for their accounts to be deleted. But again, to be fair, there has been a massive influx of users in the past 2 weeks. Vero has stated it ‘may’ add an immediate account deletion feature in the future.

Delete Vero

So in Summary…

I think it is a great concept! It is good to see another social network vying for top space that ‘seems’ to care about the user, not about the platform.

The interface is really nice and easy to navigate. There are no ads!

It is still a little buggy and server response times are slow (but they’re working on it).

There is already controversy and negative press, but isn’t that typical when a game-changing product is launched?

Building a community or followers will take some time. You are dependent on finding people through a search of names or hashtags.

It is a great way to showcase books, music, and photography!

Is it worth signing up for Vero?

I think so…

If you are an early adopter of new products or are dissatisfied with Facebook and Instagram then sign up now.

For most average social media users though, maybe wait a little longer until some of the bugs have been ironed out, and until there are more users on the platform.

We have also seen a lot of other social networks come and go, like Secret, Ello, Peach and Meerkat. All had potential. But didn’t break through for one reason or another.

Will Vero follow the same path?

Let me know what you think! Are you going to jump onboard?