Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Getting the Most Out of Your Direct Marketing Campaigns

I have been in the marketing field for almost 20 years now.  And, this not only makes me old, but it also gives you the understanding that I have been there and done that with a lot of things…particularly when it comes to market research and direct marketing.

Recently, I was speaking with someone who was relatively new to the field of marketing…you know the one…the person who uses the word “advertising” as a synonym for marketing.  This person had no idea that how you approached marketing differed depending upon whether your marketing effort was aimed at pure brand building play or if it was focused on getting someone to take immediate actions (direct marketing).

Here’s briefly what I told the marketing novice:

  • Know what success is before you start—make it specific 
  • Give them an offer they can’t refuse—also known as target your message to your target market 
  • Give them the WIIFM—if they know what’s in it for them, they are more likely to respond 
  • Make responding easy—and don’t assume everyone wants to go to a landing page/website or email you…some of us old timers want a good old-fashioned business reply card 
  • Don’t be a one-shot wonder—you need to think campaign, not once and done (which I like to call once and none) 
  • Include your Superman copy—make sure your copy gives them your unique selling proposition (aka how you are faster than a silver bullet and leap tall buildings with a single bound 
  • Test and learn—don’t shoot the wad before you know your direct marketing strategy is going to work
  • Spend enough—think about your prospects and what will motivate them to respond and hopefully convert and spend accordingly—think lifetime value of customers you bring on board

These insights were helpful to the novice, I hope they are helpful to you as well.

Happy Marketing!

Advertisements

I’m an expert, how about you?

When you have a small business, minutes matter.  You have to stay focused, which is very hard to do in this chaotic business world in which many of us operate.  In the past, many companies operated and sold either locally or, at most, regionally.  Now, we are global.  So how can you differentiate your brand, in addition to your products and services?  Become the Expert!

I was reading Ivana Taylor’s article regarding influence (You 14 Step Roadmap to becoming an Influencer ) on openforum.com and it got me thinking…what can small businesses do to make themselves brand experts? 

Here are some ideas that I gleaned from Ivana with my additions (of course).

  • Put in the time—You truly do need to be an expert to claim that status (don’t be a poser!)…Ivana recommends 10,000 hours…that means that you have to be working full time in an industry for at least five years to claim expert status…totally doable!  Remember though, focus is key… I am not just a market research and marketing expert…I am an expert in B2B insurance market research and B2B insurance marketing (as well as other things…wink). 
  • Strategically Embrace Social media—there are a lot of things you can do through social media that will boost your expert status, but you can’t afford to waste time.  Here are my quick hit favorites:
    • LinkedIn—join 50 groups…it’s fast and easy; and, actively post articles and ask questions in the groups from which you think you will get the most “expert status” bump. 
    • Blog—Don’t do what I do…keep your blogs short and sweet…and do what I do…keep them on topic.  When you blog, use key words you want to own/be associated with your name/brand…like marketing, commercial insurance, Net Promoter Score.  If you have more time…I suggest you also place comments on other people’s blogs—it helps with Google juice!  Another idea would be to guest blog, but few of us have enough time to write our own blogs let alone blog for other people.  I would try to get them to repost one of the blogs you have already written.
    • Create a YouTube video—if you have a video camera and an internet connection, you are pretty much set.  Make the video really short (1 to 3 minutes, tops) and very informative and instructional.  Oh, and make it fun.    Post these videos on your website…more Google juice!
    • Publish…Your Data—if you collect and analyze data and can publish it…do so!   Nothing better than providing the world with useful information.  And, after you have published your data…write a press release about it.  It doesn’t cost that much to get your press releases run through the newswires. 
    • In-person Networking—yes, you need to get out there and meet people face to face, not just online.  To do this, I recommend joining associations and attending their conferences (to the extent it makes sense).  Service clubs like Rotary are great as well, but don’t just focus on local things and events.  
    • Speak/Join Panels/Webinars—most of us would rather jump off a bridge than speak publically; but, there are few better ways to build up your expert status than having documented proof that people are willing to pay for your advice.

There are a heck of a lot more ways to get your brand elevated to expert status, but these were my favorites.  And, as you have probably noticed, most of them are absolutely free (except for your time). 

What are you doing to elevate your brand status to expert?

Happy Marketing!

Social media = brand engagement

In my last blog, I’ve talked about the fact that we are now in the age of the consumer.  Today I want to further this discussion by talking about some stats put out recently by emarketer. Specifically, I want to talk about some research conducted by ROI Research and how the majority of consumers are using social media to provide feedback (and connect) with brands.

In this research, ROI Research found that people using social media to discuss products and services on social sites were:

• Price shopping (59%)

Talking about offers (56%) <–as a marketer…this really excites me! 

• Providing feedback (53%)

• Giving advice (50%)

• Telling others where to purchase items online (49%)

Expressing disappointment about a product or service (47%) <–I have done this many times!

• Tell folks where to purchase items offline (47%)

• Talking to customer service (36%)—WOW!

Another great bit of information about how consumers engage with brands comes from a study from a MarketTools survey. In this survey, they found that although US travelers may be embracing social networks to express feedback more frequently than in the past, social media as a feedback or customer service channel is still in its infancy.

This study is near and dear to my heart considering I blasted Southwest Airlines for bad customer service through all forms of social media for them to completely ignore me. Oh well, they do offer cheap flights as long as you aren’t traveling across the country.

What are you doing to engage your customers through social media? 

Happy Marketing!

Bad photoretouching = Bad advertising

Photo credit

Bad graphic design and more specifically bad Photoshop work is the bane of the advertising world’s existence–especially when people (such as our target audience) notice. 

Over the years, I have seen some pretty bad work, some done by professionals and some done by amateurs.  

Want to know how to spot a fake or a mistake like a pro?  Here’s how.  Look for:

Strange or bad shadows—while a photo may look perfect, the graphic artist will likely miss the mark when it comes to accurately portraying the shadows associated with the people or objects in the picture.  Worst yet…they probably knwo that the shadow problem exists but don’t want to spend the time to fix it.   They are betting you (and their client) wont notice (see picture above).

Soulless eyes—they say that your eyes are the window to your soul.  Well that may be, but when it comes to spotting “fixed” eyes, it’s pretty easy, especially when there is more than one person in the photo.  To spot the changed-out eyes, you just need to look for the eye position..are everyone’s eyes in the same position?  And you need to look at the lightness of the eyes. If they swapped out the better eyes from a different picture, it is likely the angle was different.  If that’s the case, the brightness of the eyes will be different between the people.

Cloning—too much grass in the picture?  Is the pool a bit longer than it should be?  The graphic designer probably took something out of the picture and had to make up for it by cloning the background around the missing piece to fill in the space.  Cloning isn’t a problem…unless you can see it.

Bad  blending—even those good with Photoshop can have what we call fringe problems.   This occurs when the edges or fringes of an object doesn’t fit the back ground.  To detect this problem, look at the fringe or edge of an object to see if the background looks consistent both from a color and shape perspective.  Edges can also look too sharp or too soft.

The no freaking way factor—this is what I call the “does it make sense part?”.  This is where we use our collective brains to determine if what we are seeing makes sense…like a shark jumping out of the ocean in an attempt to catch a helicopter.  While a cool picture…not realistic.  FAIL!

Want to see some Photoshop failures?  Check out this link:  http://www.boredpanda.com/worst-photoshop-mistakes/ 

Can you spot a fake?

Happy Marketing!

The death of a brand?

For those of you that follow my blog, you know that I don’t use my blog as a rant platform. Well today, I am sorry to say, I have to diverge from my normal blogging style. But, don’t worry…it will still have to do with branding and marketing. I promise.

Southwest Airlines has been the Gold Standard (Platinum even) when it comes to customer focus and service. Not just among airlines, but among most American companies. Over the years, they have built a brand based on one singular notion…the customer comes first. I have to say, based on my experience with them today, I believe they may be veering away from that focus—which in my humble opinion will make them like all the rest of the big carriers. What will come of their brand? Not sure, but it can’t be good.

One of the best things about flying Southwest, besides the friendly staff and great fairs, was their flexibility when you had to make a change. Have to cancel a non-refundable ticket? No problem, we will still let you use the money for another flight. Have frequent flyer miles you want to use to buy a ticket for someone else? No problem. Have travel funds from a canceled ticket you want to use to fly your mom out to see her grandkids. Bring her!

Guess what…not anymore. Brand promise conflict? I think so.

Here’s what happened you decide…

  • I had to cancel a business trip because my son was going to have surgery
  • Southwest was nice enough to allow us to cancel the ticket and have a co-worker use the funds from the old ticket to buy the same ticket under her name so she could cover my meeting
  • I found out last night that the surgery has been rescheduled for July
  • My co-worker canceled her ticket so that I could reinstate my flights because I have to go on this trip
  • Southwest told me to go pound sand, the ticket will cost $1000 (from Reno to Chicago and back)
  • I told them that it was my ticket to begin with and that the whole process had started before they changed their policy on transfers today (yes… my luck… today)…again, go pound sand

So is what Southwest did wrong?  No, it’s now their policy.  Did their brand take a hit from me on social media from me today?  Absolutely!  And, more importantly, will experiences like this take their brand to a place it really doesn’t want to go?  Maybe.  Do they just want to be a commodity carrier and not a caring carrier?  Only time will tell.

Happy Marketing!

Photo credit

Sharon Markovsky: An Online Personal Branding Journey

I have been on an online personal branding journey since 2009 and I have to say it has been a challenge.  Not just from a time committment perspective, but a content perspective as well.   For those of you who are just starting out on your journey, I thought I would offer a few words of advice and encouragement:

Here’s the advice part:

  • Stay focused–decide who you are today and who you will be in the future and stick with it.  I am a marketer and that’s what I portray in everything I do online.
  • Read–content is king when it comes to social media overall and your brand itself.  I find the best way to provide remarkable content is to read other people’s blogs and books.  It really helps with the writer’s block!
  • Add valuable content–let’s face it, we are all really, really busy.  You need to make sure you are providing content that is going to help/enlighten your readers/viewers. You have to give them a reason to seek you out on a consistent basis.  My most viewed blog was 5 Easy Steps to Failing at Personal Branding.  While the title is a little tongue in cheek, it really does provide a lot of great content. 
  • Be consistent–don’t go dark, and don’t quit.  No one likes a quitter, especially your groupies. 
  • Measure your progress–if you have online branding goals and measure to those goals you will stay focused and most importantly not quit.  My goal metrics are:
    • Productivity:   Number of blogs—1 to2 per week,  tweet daily—at least 5 tweets per day, and move to a 2-to-1 ratio on Twitter (followers to following).
    • Engagement: writing comments on other people’s blog posts once a week and retweeting important/remarkable people’s blogs once a week (both of these without coming across as a stalker). 
    • Reach: increase the number of Twitter followers with 5,000+ followers.
    • Klout: increase my Klout score–my current score is 45, I would like to move it up 50 points.
    • Expert status:  Have my name associated with the term direct marketing/marketing/ market research in Reno, NV

Ok, enough of the advice, here is the encouragement part.  All of us that are building our online brand know that it takes a long time and it is a very thankless job.  Here’s how I look at it.  There are very few things in life that I have “complete” control over–online branding is one of them (save for cyber bullies of course…but even that can be dealt with).  Why not put your time and money resources into something that can have a direct benefit to your life…be it from the personal or professional side (or even both!)?

When are you going to clean up your online brand and how are you going to keep yourself motivated to remain vigilant?

Happy marketing!

Ok, so you have your online personal brand taken care of…now what?

In my prior blog, Why you can’t wait another day to create a personal brand online, I talked about the importance of building and consistently implementing your online brand.

Assuming that you have given your online brand a spring cleaning…now what?

For me, the next step is setting goals for my online brand. At the end of the day, what do I want my online brand to do for me and others?

Here’s a glimpse at my overall goals for social media: 

  1. Mentoring: Help at least one person each week through my social media efforts 
  2. Engagement: Have an in depth conversation with at least one new person through social media each week 
  3. Networking: Increase the number of quality people following/friending/linking to me by 300 each month 
  4. Publishing: write and publish at least two quality blogs per week 
  5. Recognition: increase the association of my name with Marketing and Market Research key words—become the recognized expert.

As with your company brand, you need to set goals for your personal online brand. In my next blog I will talk about the all important next step…. Metrics.

Have you set goals for your online brand yet?  What are you waiting for?

Happy Marketing!

%d bloggers like this: