Marketing & Branding

Hunt down your brand advocates

Who doesn't love those customers who rave about us?  Every business -- big or small -- has fans. And those fans generate word of mouth buzz that is marketing gold.  Do you know who is most likely to be your brand advocate?  

Check out this infographic from BzzAgent to see if you can recognize your best prospects for recruiting and retaining those people who will shout your praises.

 

Branding-Infographic

 

Your marketing resolution for 2013

2013BlocksI know, I know -- you're going to work out for 2 hours every day, quit smoking, volunteer every weekend and bring about world peace.

Tis the season for New Year's resolutions. They shouldn't just be about your personal life and they should be a bit more realistic than we tend to make them. 

As you think about what resolutions you might possibly make about your business for 2013 -- what if I told you that you could get everything you want from your customers?  Sounds pretty awesome, doesn't it?

It's actually not as difficult as it sounds.  I've often said that I wish marketing were more like rocket science because then I could sell the secrets for billions of dollars.  But the truth is -- marketing is pretty straight forward.  Here's the recipe for getting everything you want for your business in 2013.

Offer something of value for a fair price -- marketing can't solve anything if what you sell stinks.  Be awesome or shut down until you can be.

Have a plan -- it's better to do a few things well, than a ton of things every so often or half-baked

Be consistent -- marketing should happen every day, no matter how busy you are

Invest the most in your employees and current customers -- they've already bought and will keep buying if you make sure they know they're special.

Know what your customers actually want/need and do everything you can to get them there -- as Zig Ziglar used to say, "You can have everything in life that you want if you just help other people get what they want."

Stay the course -- don't let what your competition is doing pull you away from your own plan.

Be human -- we choose to do business with people and companies that we know, like and trust.  The more of your genuine self you extend to the marketplace, the quicker we can get to know, like and trust you. We can't get there through corporate mumbo jumbo.

That's it.  99% of businesses out there won't follow that simple formula.  Which is great for you -- because if you actually do, you'll be miles ahead.  Put the steps above into action and I promise -- 2013 will be a year to remember!

~ Drew

 

You need to go APE!

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 12.45.54 AMOne of the most popular marketing tactics today is to really demonstrate in a tangible way that you are in fact an expert in your field.  By showing us, rather than telling us, that you really know your stuff -- you allow us to come to that conclusion all by ourselves, which makes it much stickier.

Some people are demoing their expertise through a blog or podcast. Others are guest lecturing or speaking at conferences.  But perhaps the most daunting and most coveted version of this marketing tactic is -- authoring a book.

As if actually writing the dang thing isn't intimidating enough, then you have to find someone who wants to rep it, be your publisher and then there's the marketing of the book.  No wonder most people say they want to (or are in the middle of one) write a book, but so few do.

I'm pretty sure that's why Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch wrote their new book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book

APE is literally a step-by step, oops, watch out for that land mine guide on how to write, publish and sell your own book. Authors Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch have written a tell all book that walks you through each step of the process. There's not a lick of theory or "I suppose" in this book. It is a nuts and bolts procedural that goes into incredible detail -- offering tons of resources, options and tools.

There are 29 chapters and 22 of those chapters start with the words How to. That pretty much says it all. From how to actually write to book to how to market your book -- it's all there.

The only people who won't be thrilled to see/read this book are CEOs of traditional publishing houses. If that's not you -- get a copy today and get your book out there tomorrow!

And let your expertise begin to show through!

 

~ Drew 

Don't let December pass you by

SnowmanIt's officially here. The holiday season. It's an odd 30 days. On the one hand, you're busy wrapping up the year. On the other, your head and heart are thinking family, shopping, spiked egg nog, snowflakes and the company party.

It's easy to get so distracted by the holidays that in a blink -- it's January 2nd and the last 30 days was just a blur of less than productive efforts.

Don't let December get the best of you. No matter how busy the last month of the year is your for business, you can get some big marketing projects both started and finished before the big ball drops in Time Square.

I wrote a post about the 5 Marketing To Dos to get done before 2013 and I want to elaborate on one of them here.

The 3rd item on that To Do list was:

Call it quits: Look back over the past 12-24 months. What’s the one marketing tactic that you have really dedicated yourself to but it just hasn’t caught on fire. This has to be something that you feel you really implemented well, thoroughly and can’t imagine what you could have done better. If you can say that and it’s not delivering results — it’s time to let it go. Make December 2012 the last time you invest in it.

It's so easy to keep doing something. Especially if you think it should work but it isn't yet. Or you've been doing it long enough that it's just habit. But that doesn't mean it's a good use of your resources. 

December is a great time to really be honest with yourself and your team. Be brutal as you go through your 2012 marketing efforts and prune those efforts that haven't panned out. But here's the criteria you should use to decide if it's time to shuttle the effort.

  1. You've been doing it for at least 12 months
  2. You're confident that you've done it well (best practices and all that)
  3. There is no change in your business, industry trend etc. that suggests this tactic would be significantly more successful in 2013
  4. It's not tied to other tactics that are working (you're not pulling the proverbial thread that unravels the sweater)

I hope you'll check out the 5 To Dos post and tackle all 5. But if you can only make time for one -- it's time to call it quits.

~ Drew

 

Marketing = purposeful story telling

No one is drawn to boring marketing. That seems pretty easy to wrap our arms around. But what makes for interesting marketing that consumers (B2B and B2C) would choose to listen to and act upon?

Everyone from Forbes to Seth Godin has been telling us so often that they've created a buzzword status for the idea of storytelling. And you'll get no argument from me. We need to tell stories to:

  • Capture interest
  • Communicate our expertise and offerings
  • Create a sense of "they could help me" confidence
  • Move someone to act

The trick is understanding what kinds of stories to tell (hint: they should be all about you!), how to tell them and where to tell them. 

The first step is to appreciate the value of story telling.  Check out this infographic on the power of stories. (click it to see it full-sized)

 

Tellstoryinfographic

 

In my next blog post -- we'll take a look at how and where to tell stories.  So stay tuned!

 

~ Drew

Are you building your "friend of mine" awareness?

Screen shot 2012-10-14 at 1.25.23 PMLast week, I was a speaker at the BOLO conference, which is a conference that focuses on helping agencies wrap their heads and hearts around all things digital.

It was a fascinating few days and one of the perks of being a speaker is that I got to listen to all of the other speakers.

One of the most thought-provoking was my friend Jay Baer, from Convince and Convert. Jay's presentation was sort of a mini preview of the book he's in the middle of writing on the power of  a phrase he coined -- Youtility.

If you've attended any of the MMG social media workshops or talks we've given over the last couple years -- you will recognize a common theme in Jay's thinking. We could not agree more!

Jay's core point was that as our personal and professional lives intertwine through social networks and our on and offline connections -- word of mouth becomes the new currency for buying market share. Jay suggested that we need to all have a strategy in place to move from top of mind awareness to what he calls "friend of mine" awareness.

Jay shared some great facts/stats that showed how "friend of mine awareness" is built on these truths:

  • Our personal and professional lives are now woven together
  • We are more distrustful of marketing spin than ever before
  • We have lots of tools/tricks for tuning out advertising if we want to
  • We now access 10.4 pieces of information before we make a buying decision
  • We talk to a real person as a last resort (60% of a B2B buying decision is made by the time a sales rep is contacted)
  • We act on the word of our "friends," be they people we've met or people we're just connected to online

I think it's time for you to look at your marketing plan. Which tactics help you connect to and share information (useful info… not sales info) with potential buyers?

If you can't rattle off a pretty good list, it sounds like it is time to revisit that marketing plan and start building in elements that will take you from top of mind to friend of mine status.

 

~ Drew

How social are you?

As social media continues to evolve our communications styles, expectations and channels -- businesses scramble to sort out how and where they should be active. There's a misperception that social media is the playground for companies that sell direct to consumers (B2C) but not businesses that target other businesses (B2B). 

So wrong. Many B2B companies are enjoying incredible success as they leverage social media and content marketing as a part of their media mix.  This infographic developed by InsideView spells out the specific channels that (as of today) are enjoying the  most B2B activity.

Part of what B2B companies need to realize is that it's not just about brand awareness or name recognition.  When used well, social is driving lead generation and sales.

Best of all -- social escalates the sales cycle and you can close the deal faster. Check out this infographic and then tell us -- where are your social efforts in relation?

How-social-is-b2b

 

~ Drew

When is bad good?

Listerine-badAs you are looking at your product or service and identifying those elements that make it unique (you are doing that, right?) remember that sometimes what makes it unique is not an inherently good thing.

Which isn't a bad thing.

Confused?  

Take original flavored Listerine. One of the things that made it completely unique was its disgusting taste. Instead of explaining it away or ignoring it - they took the bad and made it good. It tasted bad because it was powerful enough to kill the germs. (check out this TV spot from the 70s with Judd Hirsch)

In fact -- they built an entire advertising campaign around how awful it tastes.

Look at your product or service a bit differently. What's bad about it? How can you use that attribute to your advantage?

 

~ Drew

Central Iowa -- don't miss Jason Falls!

Falls-speaking-webAll the big names are performing in Des Moines these days. Bob Dylan, "Book of Mormon," Def Leppard, Alan Jackson...

And Jason Falls. Of these... the one that will actually make you smarter, more money and get you out of the office is Jason.

Jason has written a couple of books (No Bull$%#^ Social Media and The Rebel's Guide to Email Marketing) and created one of the most popular websites devoted to digital marketing, Social Media Explorer.

Jason's going to be here in Des Moines next Thursday (August 30th from 1-5pm) and you won't want to miss him. (Register by clicking here)

During two 90 minute sessions led by Jason, attendees will learn how to use social media strategically, identify specific actionable goals, apply business discipline and proven best practices, stop fearing risks and start mitigating them, measure performance, and get results.

Not only will you get to meet Jason, hear his smarts... but you'll also be networking with Central Iowa's best and brightest.

So hurry up and register. Just like his book title says, Jason shoots straight and there will be no bull. You'll learn a lot, laugh a fair amount and leave with a To Do list that will help your business prosper.

 Full disclosure: Jason is a friend of mine. I don't get any money if you attend the event and Jason didn't ask me to write this. I just don't want you to miss out. 

~ Drew

Who is the average QR code user? You might be surprised!

Screen shot 2012-08-11 at 11.48.26 PMIn the second quarter of 2012, there were more than 16 million mobile barcodes scanned according to a new report from Scanbuy.

Among mobile barcode scanners, exactly half were aged 35 or older in Q2, representing a 22% increase from 41% share of scanners in Q1 and a 28% increase from 39% in Q4 2011. While an almost equal number (26%) of barcode scanners were aged 25-34 in Q2, this represents a big drop from 35% in Q1.

All the older age groups (35-44, 45-54 and 55+) showed an increase.

When it comes to gender, the people scanning the codes are still predominantly male. In Q2 it was 69% and in Q1 it was 68%. According to survey results released in February 2012 by BrandSpark International, in association with Better Homes and Gardens, although men and women report equal awareness of QR codes (77%), men who are aware of them are 75% more likely than women to have used one (28% vs. 16%) to access product information.

QR codes continue to grow in popularity and they might be perfect for your next effort.  Consider using one if you want to:

Enhance the user's experience: Many tech savvy museums, tourist locations, art galleries and other tours use QR codes to add audio commentary and video enhancements to their displays.

Digital notebook: Your customers are used to using their phone to record data they want to remember.  Why not let them trigger an email or reminder with a quick scan.

Let them grab some extra perks: Whether it's a free music download or some other digital asset, a QR code is an easy way to deliver some extras to your best or most frequent customers.

Provide real time data: Wait times at bus stops or other constantly changing data can be easily communicated through a quick QR scan.

But which are the most effective? According to the data from ScanLife’s “Mobile Barcode Trend Report Q2 2012,″ the top 5 marketer campaigns that generated the most scans were: contest; loyalty program; social media; app download; and video. 

No matter why you use a QR code, be sure the destination is optimized for mobile devices.  There's nothing worse than scanning a code only to be taken to a desktop site that doesn't present itself well on your smart phone.

 

~ Drew 

About the Data: The data in the Scanbuy report was pulled from the ScanLife Reporting Platform. It represents traffic from both 2D (QR) Codes and UPC barcodes. The 2D Codes scanned may have been generated on the ScanLife Platform or from 3rd party generators. The 2D barcode scanning traffic may come from either the ScanLife app or 3rd party apps.

 

Your brand should help you say "no" more often

Buttonsred_whiteImagine being able to cherry pick only the best clients. It would be like sifting through a box of options and selecting the exact right fit. You get to by-pass the almost right choices and the "no way" offerings -- all in pursuit of the perfect fit.

That's what branding does for your company. You get to walk away from business. The wrong kinds of business. The wrong kinds of clients. The wrong kind of growth.

When your brand is focused and strong, you are boldly saying exactly what you're about and by default...what you are not about.

It's the most powerful and valuable aspect of branding, but it's also why most companies choose a superficial brand -- they're afraid of leaving money on the table. They don't have enough confidence to let the "almost good fit" prospects go.

As a business owner, I get keeping your eye on the bottom line and it's every business' responsibility to be profitable. But the way to maximize those profits is to stay in your sweet spot. Customers who don't align with your brand may bring you a short term gain but in the long run, they'll cost you every time.

If you tie up your resources, energy, staff and systems to trying to please someone that you ultimately cannot delight -- you don't have those assets to offer the exact right fit customers when they come along.

On the flip side, if you say no to the wrong fit customers -- pretty soon the right fit customers will begin to tell others about you and you'll just keep attracting more and more of your very best customers.

But you need to be willing to say no to the wrong customers, to make room for the right ones.

Are you brave enough to say no?


Handcuffed by perfection?

Bigstock-Handcuffs-409305Lack of consumer knowledge. Inadequate budget. Sales team isn't ready.

There are lots of reasons that marketing gets stalled. But one of the most prevelant and dangerous reasons is perfection paralysis.

You've probably seen it -- the business owner or marketing decisionmaker can’t pull the trigger when it comes to marketing tactics. 

Something about the website, brochure or direct mail piece, etc. is a little off. "It’s just not quite right," they’ll say with a rueful smile. And so the team tries again — revision after revision.

What was that sound?  It was handcuff slamming shut. There's no escaping the hunt for perfection. In many cases, the piece never gets completed and marketing dollars slowly swirl down the drain.

In the meantime, their prospects and customers wonder why they're being ignored.

Here's the truth. Pretty darn good trumps perfect every time, if it means you get to market faster (or at all) with your message.

Next time you feel your team (or yourself) begin to stall a project because perfection paralysis is taking hold, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does it clearly communicate our key message? (no more than 2-3)
  2. Does it offer some response opportunity? (website, e-mail, phone number, etc.)
  3. Does it protect and respect our brand promise and look/feel?
  4. Is it error-free? (typos, grammar etc.)

If you can answer yes to all 4 — give yourself 24 hours to tweak it if you want and then get it out the door.

Perfect doesn't exist so stop chasing it.

 

~ Drew

 

Sometimes you don't need the words

Bigstock-Grandpa-s-Hands-469721_optI have written before how a headline can make or break an ad

But that's only half of the one-two punch you use to get someone to read your marketing messages.

The visuals (photo, illustration, etc) that you use in your print ad, blog post or other marketing piece will also dramatically impact readership and memorability.  (what story does the photo on the right tell you?)

Here are some do’s and don’t of maximizing your visual's effectiveness.

  • Look for story appeal. The man with the eye patch added mystery to the Hathaway shirt advertising for over 20 years.
  • Be simple. One big picture works better than several smaller ones. Avoid clutter.
  • Show the result. One exception to the one picture rule would be before and after shots. This is a great way to demonstrate product superiority.
  • Don’t be afraid to caption your visual. Readership of captions scores very high. If you think adding a caption will really drive home your message – do it.

Your copy can really get into the nitty gritty of your product or service. But, first you have to entice the reader to your copy with headlines and visuals that grab their attention. Don’t waste good copy by mixing it with boring headlines or common visuals.

Instead, grab ‘em and keep ‘em!

What's the most striking visual you've ever seen on a marketing piece or advertisement?

 

~ Drew

Why would a mobile user be searching for you?

Picture it -- a potential customer of yours is out and about. Suddenly, something strikes them and they reach for their smart phone and launch their browser, searching for your business.

Why?

  • Are they bored and wanting to read your team's bios?  I don't think so.
  • Are they wondering if they can download a PDF of your sales brochure? Nope, not on their phone.
  • Do they want to take your quiz, read your white paper or peruse you client list? No, no and no.

They need information. They want to know something specific. And it's probably specific to them being out and about. They might be looking for your phone number. Or your closest location or if you're even open.

Check out what this infographic is telling us. People are evolving how they access the web.  The desktop is losing ground while the mobile device is gaining.

They're on their phone, looking for you. What do they see?

Mobileweb

And they're doing this looking while cruising down the road at 45 mph or faster. So what they really want are big buttons that say Call us or Locations or Fast FAQs. They want to be able to quickly and easily find exactly what they need without having to sift through pages and pages of web copy that works perfectly well on your desktop site but just makes the mobile experience more frustrating,

Have you checked out what your website looks like on a smart phone? You really should.  

You should also look at your Google Analytics to see how many of your web hits are coming from a mobile device and how those those mobile devices are staying connected to your site.

If you don't like the news -- maybe it's time to realize that while responsive and adaptive design is easy on you -- it's hardly easy on your mobile visitor.  

You need a mobile optimized website that is built with the browser in mind. Actually....that's what your potential customer needs.

~ Drew

Credit:  Infographic created by Frederic Gonzalo 

Is the romance gone?

DeadRosesAhh, the wooing. The courtship. The attention. The expressions of heartfelt love. A belated Valentine’s Day post? Nope. Just a reminder of how you behaved as you were chasing that potential client.

You remember -- you thought about them all the time. You sent notes and you went out of your way to express your desire to be with them.

It was full on pitching woo.

Until you caught them. Then the romance was over.  No more flowers, candy, late night calls. Now it’s just business as usual. You call them when you need something. But if you're honest with yourself, sometimes when they call you -- you groan and let them go to voice mail.

If this sounds uncomfortably like you — don’t worry. It will all sort itself out. Because sooner or later -- they're going to be the object of someone else's desire....and because you don't make them feel special anymore, leave you behind.

When you lose that client to the competitor who woos them away, you can always turn on the charm and find a new one. And so on and so on…

Or, here’s a novel idea. Keep the romance alive. If you have great clients -- tell them. Appreciate them. A little woo goes a long way.

 

~ Drew

Integration is where it's at

MarketingRoundWe all know people who seem to have split personalities. They behave one way at work, one way on Friday nights and another way on Sunday mornings. I find it's difficult to trust people who don't live one, integrated life.

I think we react the same way to brands and companies. Part of what creates a sense of trust for us as consumers is consistent, integrated behavior.

That's one of the reasons we've always advocated for an integrated marketing approach. Your traditional marketing tactics should look and feel like they're coming from the same place as your Facebook page, which should match the way you answer your phones which should align with how you handle customer complaints and random tweets.  

It all needs to be seamless, work together and give me a sense of the holistic organization.

That's why I'm recommending people check out a book that is just hitting the shelves called Marketing in the Round by Goeff Livingston and Gina Dietrich. (click here to buy*)

This book is a must-read for every senior marketing, communications, and PR decision-maker.

It's not about social media. Or new (or old) media. It's media agnostic. No matter what media you use (and you should use several) it's about weaving them together so they are all stronger.

When you integrate all of your efforts (beyond marketing by the way) you get:

  • Meaningful metrics and data
  • Messaging that connects and moves customers and prospects to action
  • Consistency that builds trust and trial
  • Removal of clutter and unnecessary noise

This book is like a playbook. The authors get down to the details and show you how to make it happen. They cover strategy, tactics, research and metrics, and a wide array of media options. 

Read it with a pen and paper at your side so you can jot notes and ideas as you go. You'll be glad you did!

 

*Affiliate link

 

The best marketing tactic -- doing what you love

On this Sunday morning as some of you may be:

  • Dreading Monday
  • Scouring the want ads
  • Dreaming of actually opening that business you covet
  • Be whistling as you serve customers you love, doing work you love
  • Or something in between

I'd like to remind all of you that we have choices. There's always another path. But everyone deserves to, as my friend Steve Farber puts it, "do what you love in service of people who love what you do."

Think that's not possible for you?

I challenge you to watch this TED presentation as you sip your morning coffee and then find a way.  

 

There's nothing more infectious than someone who loves their work and the people they serve. That's authentic marketing at its very core.  

I hope this inspires you to stop dreading Mondays and find work that speaks to your soul as well as your bank account.

~ Drew

Top 20 business blogs

Screen shot 2012-04-14 at 9.44.21 PMBusinesses – small and large – are always on the lookout for new tips and techniques on how to improve their business.  Blogs are an excellent resource for ideas, information and tips. 

If you're looking for a daily dose of smarts -- look no further than this list of top 20 business blogs, put together earlier this year. 

The blogs range from names everyone recognizes like Seth GodinTom PetersGuy Kawasaki and Mark Cuban to some less known but very insightful experts like Steve Roesler

I'm honored that my blog, Drew's Marketing Minute is listed among these brilliant business leaders in the #15 slot.  

Why should you subscribe to these blogs and read them every day?

  • Blogs are always fresh -- unlike a book or even a magazine, you're getting today's thinking
  • Blog posts are usually short and sweet -- a dash of smarts in a couple minutes
  • By reading a mix of blogs -- you get a mix of ideas (there's no one right answer)
  • Reading good writing makes you a better writer (even if it's just email or a memo!)
  • There's a reason why these blogs were selected -- consistent quality, engaging authors and usually -- a very active comments section so you can jump into the conversation

If you'd like to read more about these top blogs -- you can download a PDF (click here) and see which ones are a good fit for you.

Enjoy the good reads!

~ Drew

 Enhanced by Zemanta

 

Your biggest marketing mistake might be in the office next to you

Hiring isn't easy. And even when you hire well -- sometimes people change.  A good employee can morph into a disaster over time.  (Rarely does it go the other way!)

And yet, we're terrible at recognizing when someone has to go.  The other employees see it before we do. Our customers see it before we do.  But we hang in there...hoping we can fix it. Or we dread the new search so much we delay the inevitable.

I have seen it said that the first time you think that you should fire someone... you should. I don't know if I would go to that extreme but most of us allow a bad apple to sour the whole bunch for way too long.

Our employees are a reflection of not only our company, but our company's values, beliefs and attitude about our customers.  If you're not happy with the message one of your employees is expressing -- maybe it's time to stop waffling and defend your brand -- even if it is from an inside attack.

The only saving grace -- you're not alone. I think most business owners and leaders would say they're too slow to fire.  Check out what that indecisiveness costs us.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Make a promise worth keeping

Bigstock_street_post_with_promises_ave__17171990Most taglines used by businesses today are a cop out.  They feel good but promise nothing unique.

Creating and using a strong tagline takes real courage.  A tagline that will last for decades is one that makes a bold statement or promise.

So what do you need to consider as you evaluate your own tagline? 

A strong tagline makes someone take pause.  It might be the person it’s directed at like – Just Do It. 

Or it might be the employee who has to keep the promise – when it absolutely positively has to be there overnight.  

A memorable tagline should be a bit daunting.  That’s why it’s impressive.  If BMW has told us their cars were a nice ride, would you have remembered?  But who doesn’t want to drive the ultimate driving machine?  Talk about setting high expectations!

An enduring tagline is tied specifically to the product/service:  Another element of a strong, test of time tagline is that we connect it to the company who owns it.  We don’t remember it just because it’s clever.  We remember who said it.  Take this little quiz. Who told us “you deserve a break today” or promised us “we try harder.”

This is where the generic taglines about “our people” and quality lose their steam.  Who doesn’t believe they provide good quality and that their people are dedicated to their jobs?

A memorable tagline tells a story:  In a single sentence, we got the picture when Timex told us “it takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”  We can only imagine what might happen if forgot the warning “don’t leave home without it.”  

We learn through stories.  We teach lessons through stories.  And we buy and sell around stories.  It’s much easier for us to remember a story than straight facts.  Which is why a story telling tagline sticks.

A powerful tagline points out how the product/service is unique:  Who doesn’t know the unique advantage of an M&M?  They “melt in your mouth, not in your hand,” right?  The Marine’s tagline reminds us that they’re very choosy about who they let into their club.  “The few. The proud. The Marines” lets us know that there’s exclusivity to their brand.  

Everyone wants a strong tagline but most businesses are afraid to make a bold promise.  What happens if it doesn’t get there overnight?  Or if the watch breaks?

It’s narrowly focused concerns like that which lead to ineffective, anyone could say that sorts of taglines like “it’s our people.” 

Good marketers understand that a tagline is not an absolute.  It’s inevitable that you’re going to make a mistake or somehow disappoint a customer. 

But that’s part of the brand promise too.  How do you handle it when you fall short?  Smart companies have a well-defined plan in place for how to handle a situation when they haven’t lived up to their brand promise.  When done well – this “apology” can actually reinforce and amplify your brand promise. 

I’m not advocating messing up on purpose, but when handled well, it can actually serve to strengthen the relationship you have with that customer.

What tagline being used today really makes you stop and take notice?

 

~ Drew McLellan

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Short is sweet

Bigstock_Still_life_of_short_worn_down__12827918I just completed a 4-part webinar series for the State of Iowa's Tourism Division.  

When they first asked me to do it, we talked a lot about what structure would work best for busy marketing professionals/business owners.

Most webinars are 45-90 minutes long but we decided to try something different.  A 30-minute webinar. 20 minutes of presentation and 10 minutes of questions.  

At first, I was a little worried.  Could I pack enough hearty content into such a short time frame?

Turns out -- the answer is yes.  The short timeframe forced me to really hone in on key points and drive them home quickly.  There wasn't room for any fluff or less than stellar content. I also added a homework element so that they could be working on the content all week, in between webinars.

Based on the feedback from each of the four sessions, the participants loved that they could devote 30-45 minutes (I will admit, all of the question portions went longer than 10 minutes) to professional development and then get right back to work. They also liked that the content was chunked rather than provided all at once.

The chunking and shorter timeframes allowed them to absorb each element before taking on the next one.

I think we can take both lessons -- short is sweet and the power of chunking information and look for other places (your website, blog posts, brochures, sales documents, etc) we can apply them.

Where else might you use these techniques?

~ Drew

Enhanced by Zemanta

Can I feel your joy?

SWAirlinesLet's face it -- we'd prefer to do business with people who are happy doing the work they do. Whether it's the shoeshine guy who whistles while he works, or the accountant who gets giddy at the idea of saving you some money on your taxes -- people who love their work are more enjoyable to work with.

I was flying home this week after a conference and walked by this Southwest Airlines gate. Who wouldn't want to fly with them?

So ask yourself a few questions to see if you exude that kind of passion for your profession:

  1. Do you love what you do?
  2. Do you love who you do it for?
  3. Do they love what you do? (it's a two way street)
  4. Do you show your clients that you're enjoying your work?
  5. Do they know (how do you know they know?) you're excited to help them?

If you answered no to the first two questions -- you need to do some soul searching. Life is short.

If you answered no to the third question -- maybe it's time to re-think how you are earning new customers.

If you answered no to 4 or 5 -- do something about it. Let them feel your love and enthusiasm. I promise you, it's contagious.

~ Drew

Enhanced by Zemanta

Do you know how to innovate?

Idea_lightbulbAs our world moves quickly away from the Industrial Age into this Technology/Idea Age -- we're being called upon to build something very different than our parents or grandparents did.

Our generation is being asked to create ideas, technologies, new solutions to age old problems -- all of which require us to be innovative.

What does that actually mean?  It means coming up with something new, being creative, coming at problems in a fresh way.  In business it means finding better ways to be valuable to your customers' lives.

A lot of people believe that they're not creative or they can't do that sort of work.  I think that's rubbish.  Everyone has it in them to find new answers.  Or even to ask new questions that lead to new answers.

How do you do it?  I might suggest you read a book I just finished called Innovate Like Edison by Sarah Miller Caldicott. (click here to check out the book*)

In this book, Caldicott identified the five competencies of innovation and then tells stories of how Thomas Edison (said to be the world's greatest innovator) and many modern day thinkers/business leaders exemplified these skills.

They are:

  1. Solution-Centered Mindset: Keeping an unwavering focus on finding solutions. 
  2. Kaleidoscopic Thinking: Juggling multiple projects, generate many ideas and then make creative connections or discern patterns 
  3. Full-Spectrum Engagement: Managing and balancing a massive workload with social life, family and other obligations.
  4. Master Mind Collaboration: Multiplying individual brain power by bringing the right people together.
  5. Super-Value Creation: Targeting all creations to an existing market and provide value to potential customers.

Before you poo poo this as something you don't have to worry about -- consider this recent quote from Seth Godin.

“For 80 years, you got a job, you did what you were told and you retired. People are raised on this idea that if they pay their taxes and do what they’re told, there’s some kind of safety net, or pension plan that’s waiting for them. But the days when people were able to get above average pay for average work are over.

If you’re the average person out there doing average work, there’s going to be someone else out there doing the exact same thing as you, but cheaper. Now that the industrial economy is over, you should forget about doing things just because it’s assigned to you, or “never mind the race to the top, you’ll be racing to the bottom.”

Whether you own the business, push a broom at the business or both -- the world has changed and is demanding that we keep pushing to the top or get out of their way -- because they're going to get there with or without us.

So... looks like it's our time to decide.  Innovate or Irrelevant.

- Drew McLellan

*Affiliate link

Enhanced by Zemanta

Learn about marketing lagniappe

PurplegoldfishThose of you who've been in Des Moines for awhile are probably familiar with The Lagniappe, a store located in Valley Junction that sells art, jewelry, gifts and in the last few years, has added the rooftop wine bar.

If you've bought anything there you know that they always toss a little gift or something extra into your bag at the check out.  That's lagniappe.  

The word came into the rich Creole dialect mixture of New Orleans and there acquired a French spelling. Today, it denotes a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. By extension, it may mean "an extra or unexpected gift or benefit."

So what is marketing lagniappe?  That's the question author Stan Phelps posed when he started looking for 1,001 stories of businesses that went above and beyond and did a little something extra for their customers.

The result of his two year search is the just launched book What's Your Purple Goldfish?  As you might expect from an author who has spent 24+ months studying a business model where you give a little -- Stan has made it possible for you to get the book for free. (see below)

This book is more than just a collection of stories.  It is a playbook for your business.  I guarantee you, among the many examples -- you will find plenty to riff off of for your business.  

At MMG we talk a lot about the power of word of mouth.  There's just nothing more influential than having someone you know and trust endorse a product, service or person.  But...people seem to think that just magically happens.  Well, it does not.  You have to be remarkable enough to generate that buzz -- and that doesn't happen by accident.  

This book will help you teach you about the spirit of marketing lagniappe -- and how to bring it to life for your customers.

To get your FREE PDF of the book. Download and read the book here on Scribd. If you enjoy it, Stan invites you to share it with others freely.

If you'd rather have an ebook version (click here to buy) or the paperback (click here to buy) you can do that too.
Either way -- you'll be glad you did.  I promise.
P.S.  I was delighted when Stan asked me to write the forward for this book.  If you'd like to see what I said -- click here.

- Drew McLellan

Your team is your best marketing tool

Bigstock_Teamwork_Connection_529643If you want a powerful, profitable company — create a powerful team.  If you want to create love affairs with your customers — create a passionate team.  If you want to leavea legacy — create a committed team.

Your team.  Nothing reflects on a business owner/leader more than the team they build around them.

So in this world of disposable everything — how do you, with genuine intention, bring that mythical team to life?

Let them have a voice:  There are few things more frustrating than having no control over your environment.  Whether it's how to handle summer hours, what charities your company will support or how a customer service policy should be amended — ask them.  Ask them and listen.

At MMG, 90% of the company decisions are made collectively.  I toss the problem/opportunity on the table and we talk about it.  When we think we've covered all the bases, we find consensus and move forward.  About 10% of the time, it's a decision I feel I have to ultimately make — but I want the team's input first.  So I ask.  And listen. 

Don't be afraid to use the "L" word: My friend Steve Farber teaches us in his brilliant book Radical Leap that the word and the emotion love belong in business.  That there's nothing wrong with loving your team, your clients and your work. In fact, I'd worry if you don't.

Make it mean something:  I don't care what you do — it has a higher purpose.  Jim Collins calls it a big, hairy audacious goal. A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.  If you don't have one….your team needs you to create one.

Celebrate the big and little wins: This doesn't have to be "send the sales force to Vegas" sort of celebrations although there's nothing wrong with those either.  It can be as simple as gathering everyone together for a quick high five.  At MMG, we have a drum that when someone has big news (new client, big project successfully completed etc.) — we bang the drum and everyone comes to the conference room to hear what's up.  It's about taking the moment.  (And we're not always good at it either, so cut yourself some slack…but make it part of your culture!)

Thank them in surprising ways: Again — this doesn't have to be a grand gesture.  Part of the fun of it is the surprise element.  One of the goofier ones that I've done is this simple.  Go buy gift cards for various places (iTunes, restaurants, your local grocery store etc.).  Get enough so you have one for each person on your team.  Then go buy the same number of Pringle's cans of chips.  On the bottom of each Pringle's can — write a number 1- how many ever you bought.   Spread the gift cards all over the conference room table and put all the Pringle's cans in the middle of the table, so no one can read the numbers.

Call in your team and tell them (with love) how proud you are of them or congratulate them on some client accomplishment or whatever.  But…set the mood and tell them why you're doing this.  Then, let each person randomly pick a Pringle's can.  Whoever got the #1 can gets to pick among the gift cards first, etc.

It will take you 10 minutes, but they'll remember it for much longer than that.

Bottom line — building a rock solid team doesn't happen by accident.  It is borne from love, gratitude and sharing a vision that matters.  The good news is — it costs very little and the rewards for you, your team and your clients — is huge!

 

~ Drew

 

What will 2012 bring?

In December you can count on snow, nostalgic looks back over the year and the inevitable predictions for the future.  One of the more interesting trends that seems to be garnering quite a bit of chatter is the notion of screen time and how touch screens are going mainstream.

Check out this video by Corning on how we're going to interact differently with glass.  Some of this may seem pretty far out there...but it's right around the corner.

 

 

Did you notice how many different ways there were to communicate in this "new" world?  And how many of those could be commandeered for marketing messages?  Pretty soon we'll be using them to order at restaurants, customize merchandise and interact with billboards.  You'll even be able to watch live sports while you grocery shop. (check it out here)

What does all of this mean to the average business owner?  It means that technology is continuing to change consumers' expectations and experiences.  And you need to start asking yourself these sorts of questions if you don't want to be left behind:

  1. How can I leverage interactive screens/technology to serve my clients better?
  2. Can we gain efficiencies by replacing human operated systems/processed with interactive programming?
  3. How could I capture some of the screen real estate my customers look at every day by offering something of unique value?
  4. Are there elements of my clients' online experiences that I could bring into my/their physical space?

While some of this still feels a little Jetson-esque (if you're under 30, Google it), it's actually right around the corner.  And there's market advantage to be had by those who are smart enough to jump on this moving train.

~ Drew

Marketing is about measuring

Bigstock_Home_Repairs_344034Okay, I will admit that one of the reasons I majored in journalism and psych was because they didn't involve math.  I don't like math one bit.  

But…if there's one thing I've learned in almost 20 years of owning and running a marketing agency -- math matters.  Actually, not all math matters, but measuring matters.

The idea of measuring marketing efforts or ROI is becoming widely accepted as a necessary business practice, but truth be told -- few do it well or consistently.

I think the reasons are pretty straightforward.

We don't know what to measure:  Believe it or not, many businesses aren't sure exactly what results or responses equate to business success.  Sure, it's easy to measure gross sales.  And that's the yardstick most businesses use to gauge their efforts.

But is a $5 million company successful?  The quick response is -- well, heck yes.  But if their costs of goods sold is $5.3 million, the answer is a big fat no.

Sales, profits etc. are pretty self explanatory.  But should a company be measuring percentage of repeat business?  Retention of key employees?  

For measurement to be effective, it has to align directly with the measurable objectives that you’ve set. (You've done that, right?) Those measurable objectives should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time specific (following the SMART methodology), and directly correlate to your organization’s big-picture goals.

If you haven't defined success -- it's pretty tough to measure how close you are to achieving it.

We don't consistently measure:  Another mistake many businesses make is that they talk up a big game in terms of benchmarking or tracking but in practice, they are sloppy, inconsistent or they get out of the gate going strong but three months into the effort, they get busy and all of a sudden, the metrics stop being gathered.  

Why?  Because it's not as important as ______.  Doesn't matter what you fill in the blank with -- if measuring your efforts isn't valued at your organization, you will not do it consistently or well.

We measure in silos:  Effective measurement rarely sits within the confines of a single metric, but rather in a combination of metrics that helps illustrate progress toward a goal. For example, website visits or the number of Facebook fans you have as stand alone data doesn't tell you much of value. Metrics gain meaning when they’re woven together to help you gain insights, not just excel chart fodder.

Odds are, no single marketing effort stands on its own.  If you're doing it right, they are constantly cross promoting and connecting to each other.  Your blog should encourage newsletter sign ups.  Your presentations should include a white paper download offer.  Your print ads should have a QR code that links to a YouTube video, demoing your product.

So don't just measure one thing.  Measure in bundles so you can see how your inter-related tactics are or are not working.

If you want to create effective marketing and you want to be able to document and defend your budget and how it is serving your organization - you'll need to make a commitment to measure what matters. 

Which of course requires you to:

  • Know what matters (match measurement metrics to organizational goals)
  • Measure every day (consistently measure to set your benchmark and truly monitor progress)
  • Measure in bundles (by measuring a blend of metrics -- you will see patterns, trends and upcoming opportunities)

So break out your calculator and get counting!

~ Drew

Can you crowdsource a crowd pleaser?

 

 An example of crowdsourcing (see Old Spice story below)

One of the more interesting phenomenons that has come out of the social media space is a resurgence in crowdsourcing.  It's really a new tech way of brainstorming or group decision making.

Brands are using crowdsourcing in some pretty smart ways.  See if you can steal one of these models for your company.

Crowdsourcing to inspire word of mouth:  Colgate's Smile campaign was designed to get people sharing stories and pictures.  Faebook fans were invited to upload pictures of their "colgate Smile" which were then used in collages on outdoor boards across the country.

Who is not going to go looking for their picture and then show everyone they know the billboard they're on?

Crowdsourcing to influence opinion:  Dominos decided to live stream their consumer's comments on a billboard in New York City's Time Square.  They didn't sanitize or edit the comments so they were applauded for their bravery and bold efforts.

This coincided with their pizza turnaround campaign --which set out to make a tastier pizza.  People were impressed with Dominos willingness to actively seek feedback and sales increased by double digits as a result.

Crowdsourcing to get your audience emotionally invested: Old Spice decided to spice things up by introducing a new Old Spice guy -- Fabio.  People went nuts, protesting and then Old Spice invited consumers to vote between Fabio (new guy) and Isaiah (original model in the campaign).  Fabio lost by a huge margin but interestingly enough -- they're still going to make the switch.

Even more telling (and surprising) was that most of the flack against Fabio came from the men in the crowd.  Time will tell how consumers will react when Fabio nudges Isaiah aside.

So -- how could you leverage this idea of crowdsourcing to get your customers, prospects, employees or other stakeholders to play along with you to promote your product or service?

~ Drew McLellan

What does your perfect customer look like?

Bigstock_Microscope_796027We’ve talked before about how no one is a demographic.  But usually marketing plans  define the brand’s target audience as "moms, 35-50" or "men, 25-54."  I particularly love the 25-54 demographic. 

When I think about what I was like at 25 and how I am today — those are two completely different men.  And I’m only 48.  But I wouldn’t talk to or market to the 25 year-old Drew in any way, shape or form like I would the 48 year-old.

So relying on wide range demographics really promises that we’re going to either have very vague messaging or we’re going to leave out a portion of the group.

So what if instead, you got very specific. Down to an individual.  Some would call this a persona.  That’s okay by me too.  The point is…think past ranges and sweeping generalities.  Get focused.

Create the profile of an individual who you believe is the perfect fit for your offering.  Down to the nitty-gritty details.  What would an entry in their journal look like?  What are they like in the morning?  What is their guilty pleasure?  What’s their go-to password?  Where’s their dream vacation?  Use research to guide you, but let your insight and intuition take you where the research cannot. 

Make sure this is multi-dimensional.  Use images, sounds, music, smells.

While you’re doing this so you can better understand how this person intersects with your product, service or brand — don’t let yourself get boxed in.

Explore the sum total of them:

  • Their daily routines
  • What they worry about
  • Who matters to them
  • How they dress
  • Where they shop
  • Which brands they advocate for
  • How they unwind and socialize
  • How they dress/what they’d never be caught dead in
  • What causes matter to them?
  • Their favorite movie, music, books

You can go on and on…

Now, begin to describe why this person is absolutely ideal for your product, service or brand.  What it is about them that makes the match perfect? 

As you begin to do this, you’re going to start to get ideas.  Ideas of where to reach this sort of person.  Ideas on what will matter to him/her.  Where’s their watering hole — where do they hang out?  You might wonder what would turn them off about your packaging or pricing structure.  Where would you find and be able to communicate with a whole bunch of them?   How could you find a few and ask them to react to a new business strategy or product tweak?

All of a sudden….you’re going to be thinking in a fresh, new way and find paths you hadn’t explored before.

Have you ever used this technique?  Did it shift your thinking?  What made it work or not work for you?

 

~ Drew

Draw me a picture?

Trans0609largestbankruptciesThink for a minute of your favorite storybook from your childhood.  Imagine it in your head.  I'm guessing that what you saw weren't the words, but instead you saw the illustrations or pictures that went along with your favorite tale.

As human beings, we're drawn to visuals and from the time we were old enough to listen to our first stories, we've been taught to gleen meaning from them.

Combine that with the popularity of USA Today like graphics and charts and it's easy to see how infographics have become so popular. 

An infographic is a graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge.  They can cover any topic but are often used to show relations between inidividual points of data.

Infographics can be a pretty powerful marketing tool as well.  And they're certainly not going anywhere. You can use them to define a process, show results, compare products or put context to complex ideas.

There are three key advantages to using inforgraphics in your marketing/sales efforts:

  • They increase understanding of complex issues
  • They increase recall of details, points of difference
  • They're easy to share, pass along

 Why not let your prospects (and customers) give you a boost by passing along your inforgraphic, which of course also contains your contact information?

I'd challenge you to look through your sales materials, marketing tools etc. to see if there's a natural story that could be told visually through an infographic.  

I think you'll be surprised at the potency of this marketing tool.

~ Drew

Will 2012 be the year your business gets smaller?

92100234There are many ways a business can get bigger -- more customers, additional sales, staff size or even in product or service offerings.  Growth in any of these areas can result in bottom line growth as well. 

All good, so far.  But, bigger isn’t always better. 

One lesson that we can take away from the recession’s aftermath is that there’s incredible benefit in staying focused on your company’s sweet spot.  Knowing what you do best (both in terms of results for the customer and profitability) allows you to hunker down and spend every resource as efficiently as possible.

It seemed like those organizations that were spread too thin or tried to be something to everyone really got thrashed around when the economy tightened.  

That lack of brand vision and bad habit of taking on clients they couldn’t serve profitably ended up costing many businesses a significant amount of money and in some cases… it shut them down.

Especially when times are lean, it’s very tempting to chase dollars even if they’re outside your normal scope of services.  After all, a dollar is a dollar, right?  But that bad fit will inevitably cost you time and money.  And the biggest loss of all is that it takes your proverbial eye off what you do best.  

It takes a very savvy businessperson to be disciplined enough to not stray outside of their core competency. That’s not just smart business, that’s smart marketing.  How can you differentiate yourself or be seen as an expert, if you do everything?  

As you begin to do your strategic planning for 2012, is it possible that you could grow your business by being smaller? What if you said “no” to work or clients that took you out of your sweet spot? 

Maybe it’s worth trying on for size.

~ Drew

Want to be an expert in your field... write like one!

104393124Especially in today's information age, we value professionals who have achieved a high level of expertise and knowledge in their chosen field.  

Sometimes, when you don't know how to assess someone's skill level (i.e. I don't get cars, so I have no way of recognizing a good car mechanic) you look for clues.

One of the most tried and true clues is -- if they've written a book on a particular subject, odds are pretty good that they're an expert.  It's human nature to give those people their proper due and assume that they really are at the top of their game.

Several well known Central Iowans have penned excellent business books.  You should check them out:

The Personal Side of Leadership by Marty Baddeloo, CPA (click to buy the book)

Marty uses his decades of work experiences as a leader and now a coach to teach his readers about the Triangle of Leadership and your role in making all three sides stronger! The book is full of stories, lessons and points to ponder.

Ignite! by Mitch Matthews with visuals by Jocelyn Wallace (click to buy the book)

Part storybook, part workbook and full on inspiration -- Mitch reminds us how to uncover and clear the cobwebs off our dreams and ignite our passion for chasing them.  Jocelyn's beautiful art direction and photography are eye candy that teach and fan the flames.

Winning the Money Game by Adam Carroll (click to buy the book)

Adam's passion is to teach young people (college and young professionals) how to take control of their money so they can have the life they want and deserve.  This book outlines how to make that a reality.

SWAT by Timothy L. Johnson (click to buy the book)

Tim's third book deals with how systems can make all the difference on any team. Written as a business parable, this story pairs up Toby the reluctant business leader and his friend a SWAT commander.  A really fresh way to explore what could potentially be a dry topic.

And that's just scratching the surface.  Several other Central Iowans have also graced bookshelves with their smarts. (Feel free to list some in the comments section).

Not only do you get some instant cred as a published author but there are several other benefits from writing a book:

  • It becomes an instant leave behind or direct mail piece (think of it as a really thick business card!)
  • It may lead to speaking opportunities or consulting gigs
  • If it sells well, you can leverage it into a second book
  • You get to swear a smoking jacket and smoke a pipe  (okay, not every author will opt for this!)

So how about you?  What's your area of expertise? What story could you tell that would be of benefit to others?  Think it can't be done? 

Just scratch out an outline.  Take that first step.  We're ready to read what you have to say!  And believe me, it will be good for business!

Marketing lessons from a Cy-Hawk

CyHawk In case you were just born or living under a rock, here's the backstory in a few bullets.

  • Every fall the Iowa State Cyclones play the Iowa Hawkeyes and whoever wins the football game, wins the coveted Cy-Hawk trophy to have and hold until the next year's game.
  • This year, they decided to update the trophy (the old one is on display in the Hall of Pride) and the Iowa Corn Association donated the new trophy, including its design.
  • The new trophy was unveiled at the Iowa State Fair and instead of the old football themed trophy, it's a farm family huddling around a bushel of corn. (see photo)
  • The public's reaction was swift, loud and mostly unfavorable.
  • The Iowa Corn Growers announced the trophy will be re-designed with some public input.

So.... are there some marketing lessons to be learned here?  You bet.  Here are my top four: 

Raving fans have an emotional connection to your brand

In this case, the Corn Growers got walloped by three groups of fans. Football fans, ISU fans and Iowa fans. We work hard to get our customers to have a preference. To be proud to do business with us and to be such loyal buyers that they tell their friends.

To get someone to make that level of investment means their heart is in it. Which means they're not just customers.  They're stakeholders.  And they believe (rightly so) that their opinion matters.

We love that when they agree with us and shout our praises.  It's a tougher pill to swallow when we stub our toe and they loudly let us know.

Raving fans believe that your product or service and their support of it says as much about them as it does about you. (Check with a Harley owner if you think I'm crazy).  Which means the choices you make matters a great deal to them.  After all, it's about them.

If you don't know what your customers think -- ask them.  Before it's too far along.

If you are inside the bottle, you can't accurately see or describe the outside of the bottle

In other words -- the Corn Growers love corn, farming and Iowa. As they should. So from their "inside the bottle" perspective, the corn family was a tribute to all that's Iowa. What better way to commemorate and celebrate an all Iowa tradition like the big game?

And who would begrudge them a nod to corn, after all, they're paying for the trophy and sponsoring the series.  

But... it's a trophy that is going to be hoisted over the heads of some 300 lb linebacker. It's going to be the subject of fiery speeches from coaches about honor and not letting anyone take it away from us, and it's going to be in the dreams of 8 year-old boys who hope that someday they'll be able to fight for the glory of winning it.

None of that says farm family.  But the Corn Growers couldn't see that.

This is common problem for business owners who can't see or understand their business from the customers' perspective. You need to find ways to always have a fresh and candid set of eyes.  

There's no such thing as a quiet consumer today

Thanks to social media, access to reporters, and a demand for 24/7 news -- consumers have learned that they not only have a voice, but it's a pretty loud one.  And not only is it loud, but it can bring about change. 

The good side of this new marketing truth is that when you can inspire and encourage those voices, they can do a lot of good. They can elevate a brand, can answer a need or solve a problem.

The down side is -- you'd better have a good crisis communications plan in place because if you get sideways with them, the fury is going to come fast.  As it did with the new trophy.

When the might of the many strikes, a business has to quickly decide how it's going to handle the uproar.  It was never a good idea, but in today's world a "no comment" is taken as a "guilty as charged" so you'd better come ready to deal with the situation.

Final lesson

At the end of the day -- the Iowa Corn Growers got the message and to their credit, stood tall and took the criticism.  Their decision to re-think the trophy took grace and I predict that by the time they've got some new designs and have engineered a way to let Iowans weigh in -- they'll come out of this storm pretty well.

And that's the final marketing lesson from this situation. A good brand can withstand a mistake or two.  Consumers will forgive you the mistake as long as you own up to it and genuinely try to do it better the next time around. 

~ Drew McLellan 

It has to make sense

DoveMenvsEraEveryone wants to woo and win new customers.  No argument there.  But sometimes companies either stretch their brand a little too far or attempt to stretch their audience's ability to connect the dots.

Typically, neither marketing technique works particularly well.  There are two good examples of this that just broke into the mainstream of late, so I thought we'd take a look at them.

Dove for Men:

Dove has been around since practically the dawn of time.  And they've done a brilliant job of branding themselves as skin care products for women.  They amplified this position starting in 2006 when they launched their True Beauty campaign to rave reviews.  They even won awards at Cannes for their videos.

Their website states that their company's vision is "to building positive self-esteem and inspiring all women and girls to reach their full potential."

None of that makes me, as a man, want to try their products or believe that I am going to be their focus.  I don't care that the bottles are a manly black or that their advertising reminds us that men deserve nice skin too.

They've gone way too far down the path of being all about women to be all about men too.  They're climbing up a huge hill -- trying to get a group of people they've purposefully ignored for years to suddenly pay attention.  

Tough sell.

Era:

Era has a new spokesperson and a new slogan.  Along with their tagline "a lot of fight for a little dough" comes the Chuck Norris endorsement.

What?

According to the Era marketing rep, Era customers have a big affinity with Chuck.  The campaign is done very tongue in cheek with statements like "Era’s secret ingredient is “one drop of Chuck Norris blood. His DNA can kill anything, even stains.”

Cute...but is it going to make people (and most of those people are women) buy the product?  We'll see.  It's a stretch for sure.  But unlike the Dove for Men example, at least Era is still talking to the same/right audience.  

The question I have is -- does their audience have any interest in what they're saying. And do they care or have any affinity for Chuck Norris?  Will the over the top Chuck Norrisisms create a new affection for a rather bland product line -- laundry detergent? Or, is the brand creating a disconnect for their core buyers?

I'm all for trying new things.  You have to be bold and different.  But you also have to be relevant.  Time will tell if Dove and Era made good choices.

What do you think?

 

~ Drew

 

Does an online presence need to fade into that good night?

 

105865370With apologies to Dylan Thomas (the man who wrote the poem called Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night)  -- I think one of the realities that our online activities brings about is this qustion -- what happens to all the content and accounts you've created after you die? 

We no longer just go quietly into that good night.

Now before you shake your head at me and wonder what this has to do with marketing and branding…hang in there with me for a minute. 

I'm guessing you've had this same experience.  A small handful of my Facebook friends have passed away.  A few blog authors that I really enjoyed are no longer with us.  Some of my LinkedIn connections have died.  They all were very active online and created a large following on various social media sites.  And we're in the infancy of social media.  Imagine what it will be like in 20 years.

So what happens? (Time Magazine wonders too)

In some cases, their family have taken down their blogs or accounts.  In other cases, their work/pages are still live.  I have one Facebook friend who keeps popping up on my "you haven't talked to X in awhile" in the sidebar.  And you know, the other day I actually clicked on the link and was surprised to see that many of his friends were still posting to his wall.  In some cases, something reminded them of him or it was the anniversary of his death.  But the posts were happy and filled with memories for them. 

Another Facebook friend, a very well known local businessman, was killed in an accident.  For a long time his kids wrote to him almost every day.  Those posts just about broke my heart but I'm guessing were very healing for them.

I know Facebook and Twitter both have options for families that include converting the account to a memorial  page etc.

I had the good fortune to meet a wonderful man who had an amazing advertising career (he actually worked with David Ogilvy) and his blog posts were not only smart but filled with advertising lore.  I loved reading them and would often go back and find an old one that pertained to something I was thinking or writing about.  

When he passed away, his family took down his blog.  I couldn't help but think what a shame that was.  Thanks to Google -- generations of people could have benefited from his experiences and storytelling.

I don't know that there is a right answer in terms of how to handle it.  I'm sure some people think it's morbid to even raise the issue.  And maybe they're right.   Except it is something we're all going to have to deal with, sooner or later.

But what I do know is that most people have probably not discussed this with their family and friends.  Much like the "I want to be cremated or buried" conversation -- part of the 21st century needs to be a conversation about what we want done with our online accounts and content.  And preparation (like sharing passwords) would need to be considered.

At first blush, I'd like to think that my brand and work could live on after I leave this earth.  That my efforts could continue to serve business owners and marketing directors.  Sure, some of it would be dated but much of it is evergreen.  But I've never said that out loud to anyone.  Perhaps the About Drew section could be amended to explain that I'm not around anymore….but my work is part of my legacy.

But I haven't given it enough thought to know for sure.  Would my face popping up on Facebook be a comfort -- a continued shared space -- for my family and friends.  Or would it keep them from saying goodbye?

What do you think?  Should our brands and work live on? 

We go to museums and stand in line to read Ben Franklin's letters or Emily Dickinson's handwritten poems.  Is a blog less of a legacy because it's not handwritten?

We keep pictures of family members and friends who have died.  We tell stories about them and some of us probably talk to them in our private moments.  Is putting a post on a Facebook wall or clicking through the photos section any different?

And how does one choice influence the way their brand is remembered?

I 'd love to hear your perspective on this.  

 

Price increase do's and don'ts (thanks to Netflix)

Netflix-logo-2On Tuesday of this week, Netflix announced a change in their pricing policies.  

Instead of paying $9.99 for unlimited streaming video AND unlimited DVD via mail, now you can opt for the new unlimited streaming only for $7.99 or the unlimited DVD via mail for $7.99 but if you want to duplicate your current $9.99 plan -- it will cost you $15.98.

However, this post isn't to debate the price increase. 

I want us to look at how Netflix handled both the announcement and the reaction online.  

Let me give you an overview.

This morning around 10 am Netflix emailed their customers, put up a blog post about the pricing change and mentioned the blog post - with a link - on their Facebook fan page.  As of midnight on Tuesday, the Facebook post had almost 20,000 comments and the blog post had well over 5,000. I have no idea how many e-mails they got in response to theirs.  But bottom line -- they created quite a stir

As you can imagine...99 percent of the comments were not in favor of the change. And they expressed themselves with vigor and sailor-like language. Over and over again.  And from what I could tell (I have to confess, I did not read all 25,000 comments). Netflix is not responding to anyone on either Facebook or their own blog.

What lessons can we learn from the firestorm that Netflix is experiencing?

Don't spread bad news any wider than you have to: This was a pricing increase that only impacts their current customers. New customers will immediately see the new prices and either buy or not. There was no reason to broadcast it all over Facebook and their blog. 

People react very differently to situations like this when they're by themselves. They don't have anyone to work them up or egg them on. It should have been dealt with in a way that did not incite a riot.

Respect the relationship hierarchy: If they felt they needed to make a public announcement, it shouldn't have been done on the same day as they informed their customers. The customers deserved to hear it first.  

Even if there would have been a 12 hour delay before going public, it probably would have taken a lot of the wind from everyone's sails.

Don't drop the bomb and run: Obviously, they cannot reply to 25,000 comments.  But injecting themselves back into the conversation now and again would remind the people who are spewing their anger that there are real people on the other side.  It's much tougher to rant and rave when you're talking to a real person.

Handling a price increase always requires some sensitivity and common sense. And you need to be very mindful of respecting the relationships you have in place. Assuming you are providing a value and can demonstrate why the hike is needed, you'll probably be just fine.

But when in doubt just ask yourself "what would Netflix do" and seriously consider the alternative!

~ Drew

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Make my life easier

AppleSteps to get a $20 rebate from Bed, Bath and Beyond:

  1. Remember to ask for rebate form
  2. Remember to ask for duplicate receipt
  3. Fill out name, address, phone, etc. etc. on form
  4. Get serial number of coffeemaker off the box
  5. Write down serial number in the little boxes
  6. Cut UPC code out of the box (which negates returning it)
  7. Figure out which Mr. Coffee is the right box to check
  8. Find envelope
  9. Put form, receipt and UPC code in envelope and seal
  10. Find stamp
  11. Mail envelope

Steps to get a $50 rebate from Apple:

  1. Take the card when the Apple guy offers it to you
  2. Log onto www.apple.com/promo
  3. Click on Submit a Rebate
  4. Let your autofill complete the name, address section
  5. Type in your receipt number
  6. Click done

But of course...this isn't really a post about Apple products.  It's about making things easier and less complicated.  Think about the hoops you make customers jump through.    

  • Who do those hoops serve?
  • Is there a better, faster, easier, more efficient, way?
  • Could you do it for them?
  • How could technology help?

 What tasks, chores, or necessary evils could you turn into moments your fans can rave about?  Every business has at least one.  What's yours?

 

~ Drew

Enhanced by Zemanta

Iowa newspapers are evolving and growing

56384428For the last five years or more, we've been hearing how the newspaper industry is dying.  And then, as proof, they give us examples of papers in Detroit or DC who are reducing the number of days they publish their paper.  Yes, some newspapers are making reductions but that doesn't mean it is happening here in Iowa.

It's sort of like all of the "the sky is falling" news we hear about the housing industry.  The examples are from Arizona or California and have very little bearing on the Iowa housing market -- which is holding its own. 

The truth is, Iowa newspapers are stronger than ever.  Here are some facts taken from recent research*

  • 84% of Iowans read their local newspaper every week
  • Almost 50% of Iowans utilize one of their newspaper's digital connections
  • More than 50% of Iowans buy based on newspaper ads

Today's newspapers (and not just the Iowa papers) have evolved with the times.  They're not a once a day/week one-way conversation.  They're offering us tools to connect and communicate with them 24/7.

I'm Facebook friends with Register and Business Record reporters (and follow their fan pages).  Between Facebook and Twitter -- I get breaking news, traffic reports, tips about what's happening around town and the latest business news. It's how I stay plugged into DSM all day long.

And in a state where we have 3 or 4 good sized cities and the rest of the population lives in small towns and rural communities -- it's noteworthy that small town papers are thriving, even during the recession.

Whether you're looking for a potential news source, a place to advertise or seek editorial coverage for your business -- don't let the national hype about newspapers blind you to the power of print.  (Even when it's not in print!)  At least not in Iowa.

Drew

 

 

* Newton Marketing & Research 2010

Disclosure:  As you might imagine, being a columnist in the DSM Business Record makes me pretty bullish on newspapers.  My agency, McLellan Marketing Group, also does work for the Iowa Newspaper Association.  That's where I first saw the research numbers I shared.  It's also why I didn't offer opinion in this piece…just the facts so you could form your own opinion.

 

 

 

Takeaways from a talking dog

If you haven't seen the video below...before you even read another word, just watch it. Assuming you are one of the over 19 million (yes...19 million) people who have already viewed the footage, let's also notice that the video was first uploaded on May 1 of this year.  So in less than a month, it has earned over 19 million views.

 

Why?  How did the video go THAT viral THAT quickly?

Viral is the new holy grail for marketing.  Everyone wants a video to go viral.  So they make a video and tweet about it and put it on Facebook and a few people watch it, but there's nothing viral about it.

So can we glean some takeaways from the talking dog?  (And the Diet Coke and Mentos, and the smoking toddler and the wedding party dance)

KISS:  Keep it simple, stupid.  None of these videos were over-produced.  They were a little raw, very real and no one edited them to perfection.  Part of their appeal is the every man quality about them.

Two ends of the emotional spectrum:  Most viral videos are either very funny to the point of being absurd or very sad to the point of being emotionally wrenching.  I immediately think of the "don't text and drive" videos that have been cropping up.  If they're going to be shared -- the videos have to take us to the edge.

Fresh:  There are very few sequels in the viral video world. (With the exception of the "Will it Blend" series) If we're going to share it with others, we want to be pretty sure they haven't seen anything like it before. That's why the Embrace Life video was so wildly popular.  

No overt selling:  Think of the viral videos I've listed here.  Very few were selling anything.  And even those that were created by a commercial entity -- the sales "pitch" was subtle if detectable at all. The sponsors/advertisers recognized that they'd have to sacrifice big logos, features & benefits copy points, and a call to action if they wanted the videos to spread.

That's a pretty tall order when you add it all up.  It takes a pretty confident organization to be willing to be in the background while something funny or horrific takes center stage -- all while resisting the urge to over produce.

But when it happens -- it's magic.  Unfortunately, it's not a magic trick that you can just practice until you get it right!  When it happens, it happens...

Enhanced by Zemanta

Short term gain can equal long term marketing pain

93143831It's a rare business that doesn't partner with other companies to take care of all their clients' needs.  That's certainly true of my company.  We partner with printers, video & audio production companies, animators, media companies, and the like.

We count on them, their unique skills and their professionalism every day.  How they perform reflects as much on us as it does on them.  So we choose them very carefully.  The trust grows slowly over time until they become an extension of our team.

It takes a while for us to earn a clients' trust, doesn't it?  But once we've got it -- it's value is immeasurable.  It's one of our greatest marketing tools -- the trust of existing clients and the reputation that trust earns us.

We recently ran into a situation that reminded me of just how this impacts our ability to grow our business.  We're in the middle of a large project which required us to partner with a vendor.  We hadn't know him for too long but had high hopes that he would become a part of our extended family.

He called this week to cancel on us at the last minute.  Why? He got an offer for five days of work, so all of a sudden, the one day he had left to finish our project wasn't as profitable.  

He'll certainly enjoy a short term gain from this decision.  But...he just created a huge marketing problem for himself.

Why?  Because your reputation takes a long time to build, a nanosecond to destroy and a lifetime to restore.

Here are potential costs when your reputation takes a hit:

  • You lose that client's business.  Forever.
  • You lose all the referrals that client would have sent your way.
  • No matter how big or small your marketplace is -- word of behavior like this spreads sooner or later.
  • Once labeled -- it's really tough to change perception
  • You won't be able to charge a premium price -- you'll have to buy business by being at a lower price point.

In a crowded marketplace, the most significant differentiator is reputation.  If you're known as someone who follows through, who honors their word and who treats the client's best interests as their own -- your reputation and your business will flourish.

And if not -- you'll bear the fruit of that as well.  

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

This site is intended for informational and conversational purposes, not to provide specific legal, investment, or tax advice.  Articles and opinions posted here are those of the author(s). Links to and from other sites are for informational purposes and are not an endorsement by this site’s sponsor.