• Touchless

    On: May 29, 2020
    In: Uncategorized
    Views: 2406

    As businesses across the country are looking to re-open, marketing teams are scrambling. The crisis continues, and it’s a constant struggle to find the right tone. People want more than images of people cheering first responders and grandparents cooing over babies on Zoom calls. It is okay to acknowledge the dangers, but don’t leverage it and risk looking self-centered. You can reassure your customers without patronizing them. Let them know you’re taking precautions — but there is no need to overwhelm them. You can be careful and still ‘feel’ normal.

    And it couldn’t hurt to have laugh or two.

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  • Brandspeak

    On: May 18, 2020
    In: Uncategorized
    Views: 2408

    Your brand is not silent in these times. Your doors may be locked. Your teams are working from home or furloughed. And your plans postponed or shelved entirely for now. But your brand still speaks.

    Your brand is the sum total of your customers’ experience with you. Every sale, every interaction, and every communication is a building block of your brand. And two months of lockdown won’t put an end to that. These exchanges might be changing — but they’re not ending.

    So keep communicating with your customers however you can. Because in the end, your brand is all about them.

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    On: February 15, 2019
    In: Uncategorized
    Views: 2544

    Many people think of branding as simply a company’s logo and maybe a catchy tagline, but it is much more than that. When marketing is executed seriously and thoroughly, it is a reflection of a company’s core spirit and personality. Branding can serve as a through line for all of a company’s communication efforts.

    Your brand builds a level of trust between your company and prospective customers. It is usually the first impression of your company and its products, and consistent branding reinforces your credibility and reputation. It can also preview your company’s personality and values, giving them a better idea what to expect from you.

    Branding also empowers growth. Consistent look and messaging becomes exponentially more important as an organization grows. Branding can help new hires understand your core traits, and reflect those values to new customers. The closer your branding is to the true strengths and important goals of your company, the greater the effect it will have as the organization expands.

    It also provides consistency across media in your advertising, and helps guide content online. Your brand is your voice, and the more readily it is recognized by your audience, the greater the connection they will feel. This is another reason that your voice truly reflects the company (and vice-versa), as insincerity is quickly noticed and objected to by your audience.

    Branding can even build financial value. Strong branding makes a company look reputable and reliable. Consistency builds faith in both customers and investors, and increase the perceived value of a company, and helps position you for growth.

    Finally, memorable branding can draw new customers. It can help with customer recognition, and fuel word-of-mouth promotion. It can position your company as a leader in their niche, and someone to pay attention to.

    To unleash the power of your branding, you need commitment, and a partner who understands how to maximize your message.

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    On: February 15, 2019
    In: Uncategorized
    Views: 2074

    Software engines and ‘designer’ templates are everywhere these days, promising to splash even the smallest business across the internet and beyond. But are you really doing yourself any favors, plugging your business into someone else’s formula?

    Any good branding comes out of an organization’s own traits, and reflects its values, its goals, and personality. Moreso, it is informed by your customers, and their experience and expectations around you and your products.

    This is the real work of branding. To take a critical look at a company, find its uniqueness and competitive strengths, and craft an identify to show it off to the world. It is more than just a slick logo or a catchy tagline, it is the window through which prospective customers view your business.

    Branding builds trust, and shows your customers that you are serious and committed to the details. It creates synergy throughout your promotional efforts, each reflecting the same core message and working toward the same goals.

    Branding cannot create sold business values, but it does reinforce them. It serves as a constant reminder of the personality and mission of your company. From your own employees to the person you’ve just handed your business card to, your branding is a touchstone.

    You shouldn’t shoehorn your company into some pre-formatted image, or grab onto the latest visual trend or marketing buzzwords. You need a partner who is prepared to do the hard work of building your brand from the inside out.

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    On: February 14, 2019
    In: Uncategorized
    Views: 1812

    We live in an era where companies face not only their competitors, but ’experiential’ competitors offering similar products across different industries, and even ‘perceptual’ competitors that change the way your customers think about doing business with you. And your customers’ expectations bleed across these boundaries. If companies like yours don’t react to these changes. they will surely be left behind.

    This is called liquid expectations, and it will change the way marketers interact with customers. The era of shouting to the crowd through mass media is over, and companies are going to have to create more personal relationships if they want to keep their customers’ loyalty.

    Customers are asserting their place as equal partners, and should be treated as such. New media allow companies to communicate more personally, and give them a voice in your messaging. In this way they can become more than passive consumers of your message, and be active participants in the conversation. Treated well, these customers can be your greatest cheerleaders.

    Moreover, today’s customers are not merely interested in your products. They are more interested in experiences. This goes beyond customer service, although that is crucial. Your customers want to feel as if they are a part of something, and good marketing can do that. Your customers are your companies’ greatest asset, and should be rewarded as such. Interact with them, learn their desires, and respond to their needs.

    Interactive media and data tools make this easier than ever before. This is more than slapping names on email headers. It is learning what messages a customer responds to, and building new messages to reinforce that can build stronger bonds. Allowing their voices to be heard, and amplified, can turn them into champions of your business. And giving them added choice has show — shown by companies like Amazon to Oreos — can boost your bottom line.

    Finally, an eye must be kept on the market’s changing perceptions. How a customer orders a pizza today affects how they expect they expect to find a doctor tomorrow. Digital, mobile, and machine-learning technologies are altering the customer service landscape in ways we still don’t understand. But your customers will adapt quickly, and expect as much from you in short order. And those that don’t deliver on the experience will lose out because of it.

    You need partners that understand this changing marketplace and help you make and maintain strong relationships with your customers. And to keep you fluid.

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  • Its Time To ‘Face’ the Facts of Social Media

    On: April 22, 2013
    In: Uncategorized
    Views: 1118

    It goes without saying any more that your business should be connecting with customers and prospects on-line, but its difficult for people to connect with a corporate entity or make friends with a logo. So how can your business leverage the power of social media and build stronger customer relations?

    Put a face ogong show 03n it.

    Many successful brands seems to grow straight out of the personalities of their leaders, but most of us aren’t Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. There are things that anyone can do when presenting themselves as the ‘face’ of their company.

    Tell Your Story

    As important as product benefits are to your customers, they are far more likely to connect with your narrative. How your business was started, what you are trying to do, and what it means to people’s lives are the kinds of things that help build a great story. Merge this story into your marketing messages and connect your experiences with your customers’ goals. Larger organizations should have multiple ‘faces’ for different aspects, and everyone should be aware of the overarching story and how they connect to it.

    Be An Authority

    Social media is about networking, and you should be a valuable member to your networks. Use your skills and experience to share your message wherever you can. Creating videos, writing articles, posting on message boards and making your self available for interviews are great ways to boost your online persona and share your story. This will also build rapport and trust with your customers without pressuring

    them to buy anything. And this will pay off in the long run when they do need your company’s offerings.

    Take Your Lumps

    Joining in the online conversation about your company will inevitably lead to facing complaints from customers. Learn to take criticism with dignity. No matter how good your products are, and how responsive your customer service is, there will be someone who is dissatisfied. How you respond is more important than the complaint itself. Try to respond to their concerns and use the feedback to improve the experience for others.

    The vast majority of people check reviews before making purchases, and place much more trust in sites with positive and negative reviews. Request feedback from your customers — even offer incentives for it — and use criticism to improve your process. If a customer’s complaint is valid, respond privately and post a public response when any dispute is resolved. Other customers will appreciate your responsiveness with getting involved in a public argument.

    The online conversation about your company and products is going on every day, its up to you to become involved in this conversation on put the best ‘face’ on it.

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  • To thine own self be… flawsome?

    On: February 4, 2013
    In: feature, Uncategorized
    Views: 3909

    To thine own self be flawsomeIn our hyper-connected media age its nearly impossible for anyone to keeps secrets– just ask Beyoncé or Mitt Romney’s fundraising team.

    There is a growing movement in corporate communications to let your customers see your whole personality — warts and all– and humanize your image. Marketing media is no longer a one-way channel, customers can respond to your message almost as fats as you put it out there. There is a conversation going on about you, and its in your best interest to join in.

    Contrary to what you might feel in you gut, customers feel better about companies when they can read both good and bad comments about it. In fact, a recent survey shows 68% trusted reviews more when there were both positive and negative statements.

    Not only that, but opening yourself to comments gives you fast, open feedback that cab help you improve your products and service. And its been shown that customers value honesty and openness more than the illusion of perfection that sparks cynicism and disbelief.

    This movement even has a kicky name (as all marketing trends must): flawsome. I can’t say I’m behind the name, but I can totally get behind being brave enough to tell the truth about yourself. And to that end, here are a few tips to show your flawsomeness.

    1. Be open. Enable comments on your communications, and reviews on your products. If there are open forums where your customers gather, join in the conversation.
    2. Be transparent. Share reviews from other sources. Acknowledge mistakes and communicate your plans to repair them. Don’t try to hide errors, because they will be found and waved in your face.
    3. Be responsive. Embrace the feedback, both good and bad. Not everyone is going to like you, but how your listen to and react to these people will show your strengths and might even convert some of the ‘haters’ into customers.

    Your company spends a lot of resources and effort to tell people that its awesome, and perhaps opening yourself up to your own humanity might help them believe it. No matter what, closer engagement with your customers can only make the relationship stronger– flaws and all.

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  • From Ambush to Ambient to Ambiguity

    On: August 10, 2012
    In: Uncategorized
    Views: 1042

    One of the more ubiquitous things hanging around the necks of Olympic athletes — far more than the coveted metallic medals — were the brightly colored Beats headphones from Doctor Dre.

    It might not have struck you as that strange. Athletes are allowed to block out distractions and focus on their upcoming performances, unless you consider the amount of money Panasonic paid to be the ‘official’ audio sponsor of the games. The cries of Ambush marketing threatened to drown out the “U.S.A!” in the Aquatics Centre.

    To protect these lucrative deals, the Olympics diligently police the presence of outside promoters (does anyone remember Linford Christie’s Puma contact lenses in 1996?), taping over obvious promotional ties.

    But Beats beat the system. They merely offered the stylish sound systems to top athletes to try out, decked out in proper national colors. No cash changed hands and the athletes are simply using a product that they enjoy.

    “We have to take a commonsense approach,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “There is a difference between someone using equipment with a logo and someone promoting the brand.”

    This so-called ‘Ambush Marketing” of placing promotional messages at an event without payment is a few shades of gray darker than “Ambient Marketing”. Ambient messages are paid placements in often unexpected places like the back of parking stubs or inside video games. A growing niche of over $600 million, it is sure that ambient medal will be creeping into more and more ports of our collective vision An interesting collection of interesting ambient placements can be found here.

    As mass media shrivels and consumer’s “selective blindness” to advertising grows, more clever marketers will be looking for ways to get their message in front of you. And there will surely be more push-back from those who don’t want this intrusion into every facet of their life.

    It will be difficult to avoid listening to this argument over and over in the future. I wonder where I could get a good set of headphones…

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  • Nearly 80% of you will never read this message

    On: December 2, 2011
    In: Uncategorized
    Views: 818

    With everything from social networking to mobile messaging grabbing the marketing spotlight, less attention is being paid to email as a means of connecting with customers and building business. Even though more than eight in ten of business use email marketing more than 160 commercial emails are launched each year, are any of them doing it well? Even when they are professionally designed and executed, how many of these little packets of gold ever make it to their destination, and how many of those get results?

    Future Brandlab experiments will take a look at ways of making sure your messages reach their targets, but for now lets just look at why they miss.

    A quick breakdown of the numbers shows gives you an overview of where the blocks are.

    1. No addresses/Bad addresses
    A study by ReturnPath showed just over 80% of emails reached in-boxes in North America in the second half of 2009. Of those that failed, 16.3% never reached the intended in-box, due to bad or inactive addresses. 10,000 messages become 8,370.

    2. SPAM
    The same report showed that 3.5% of these legitimate opt-in emails get blocked by SPAM filters. Business addresses quite often have additional protection from SPAM, and can increase filtering rates as much as 5%.

    Note that the study was primary established email marketers using reliable above-board servers. Using (or having) any email server on even one of the major blacklists can boost that number 72% blocked.

    The common belief is that the words or images used in the message sets off spam filters, but increasingly it is the reputation of the serving sender that sets off the filter. This is not an invitation to start using spam terms (free weight loss, guaranteed!) but a warning to protect your (and your mail server’s) reputation. 8,370 messages becomes 8,020.

    3. Ignored email
    A report for the 4th quarter of 2009 for “business products and services” showed emails were ignored by 78.4% of recipients. Consumer products on average faired slightly poorer. 8,020 messages becomes 1,732.

    The best tool in overcoming this is a strong subject line. You’ve only got about 60 characters to grab someone’s attention and convince them to embrace your message. False irritating or overused subject lines can almost a guarantee a trip to the trash can.

    4. Opened but Unmoved
    Recent statistics on the DoubleClick network showed a 4.3% click-through rate for emails. That means more than 95% of the emails sent are unsuccessful at getting your prospect to visit your website. 2,005 becomes 430.

    There are ways around each of the risk areas and methods to maximize your success. Our technicians are dissecting these areas individually and we look forward to sharing our findings with you. If you have observed interesting results in your email experiments or would like us to look into something particular, please let us know. We are relentless in our pursuit of science.

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  • Facebook: Hitting the Fans

    On: December 2, 2011
    In: Uncategorized
    Views: 857

    “We’ve got to be doing social media!” is a cry going up by marketers across the country. As media habits change, companies are getting desperate to engage customers and create loyalty. They follow the eyeballs and jump into the latest trends for fear that their competitors will get there first.

    What are they getting out of it? Most of them aren’t getting much. Take Facebook, the current behemoth of social networks with over 400 million members. Their statistics show members become ‘fans’ of four pages per month, yet a recent study showed 77 percent of these pages had less than a 1,000 fans. The social media monitoring and analytics firm Sysomos did a breakdown of fan site membership and found the vast bulk of pages had between 100 and 1000 fans. In fact, less than 4% have more than 10,000 fans and only .047% have more than one million fans.

    As of March 31, 2010 only two of the top ten fan pages were corporate, and being Facebook itself and the ubiquitous Mafia Wars, probably shouldn’t even count. Only two consumer products (savvy marketers Starbucks and Coca-Cola) cracked the top 20. Now most companies don’t need to compete with “I [heart] Sleep” to be successful in social networking, but there are a few things you can do to separate yourself from the bulk of ‘friendless’ fan pages.

    Give them something special

    People want more than the ability to tell their Facebook friends that “they love widgets.” Respect that connection and return their loyalty. Offer discount codes or printable coupons, or even products and promotions that are only available through the fan site.

    If you have a visible product, give your fans the opportunity to share their experience by letting them post pictures or video of themselves and your products. Or simply share pictures of your events or product features

    Give them better access

    Becoming a fan implies active participation with your company or products, you should offer your fans a heightened brand experience that they can’t get by being a passive observer. Make them feel like they are getting behind the scenes and actually have access to things others don’t. Ask for (and listen to) their opinions, invite them to try or test your products, ask them what they’d like to see in your products. As a warning, do not do this if you have no intention of listening, online forums are quick at spotting frauds and vocal about exposing hypocrites.

    Create an open exchange

    More than just having a dialogue between you and your fans, members prefer pages that house great conversations between members. There is inherent credibility in recommendations from other members, new ways to use or customize your products, and personal connections made with brands in ways that top-down marketing could never do. Again, this free exchange comes with a loss of control and should only be done if you are comfortable with that.

    Make People Feel Part Of Something

    Most join Facebook fan pages because of their relationship with the brand. The idea being that they want to align themselves with this company to support the brand or to feel part of something. If you’re brand isn’t so strong on it’s own, perhaps it’s worth finding a way to attach yourself to something else people already love. Over five million people [heart] sleep, and just over 2,500 are fans of Serta mattresses. I wonder how happy that 5 million would be sleeping on the floor? There is nothing false or disingenuous about aligning yourself with your products benefit. If there were, mainstream advertising would have been in trouble long before now.

    You’ve worked too hard on building your brand to fall short on sharing the brand experience. Just keep in mind these few key concepts to separate yourself from your competitors, and the 23 fan pages about saying ‘gesundheit’ when your dog sneezes.
    At the Whirli-Gig Brand Lab we understand that no experiment is complete without rigorous testing. So please let us know what your observations are in this field. Our technicians are standing by, and will spare no effort in our relentless pursuit of truth in branding.

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