Month: July 2014

Emotional Branding – Why your Business Needs it!

Dove

Making an emotional connection with your audience should be a year-round priority for your business, as consumers and clients (both B2B and B2C) make most of their buying decisions based on emotions. As I pursue business development opportunities, I aim to provide my potential clients with a brand that resonates with their audiences, and this often involves developing messaging that evokes emotion and impact.

Last year, I came across a blog by Jim Joseph of Entrepreneur and thought the message was worth reiterating with you: Many people have different interpretations about what brand positioning means. It’s one of those concepts that is hard to pin down, yet at the same time is so important to the success of your brand. Positioning is at the heart of your brand. It’s essentially the summation of everything your brand is about. Positioning is built from what you know to be true about your customer. It takes the benefits you’ve outlined and makes them meaningful to customers. In its simplest of forms, positioning is the mental space you want to occupy in your customer’s mind. It’s the first thing you want your customer to think about when they hear your brand name.

An emotional connection with your customer is the key to being a brand. But that emotional bond should be reflected in the positioning statement for the business. Positioning is more about emotions and less about the facts. That’s why marketers who think a claim about their product or service is a positioning statement, really miss the boat. The same goes for a description of your type of business. There’s no emotion in that and it’s emotions that differentiate a brand. Your brand’s positioning is the basis for building the brand experience across the entire marketing plan. The key is to make sure the actual brand experience delivers on what was intended in the positioning. Let’s take a look at a few big brands and what they’ve done for positioning. The tagline can often be a big hint:

  • L’Oreal: “Because you’re worth it.”
  • BMW: “The ultimate driving machine.”
  • State Farm: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”
  • Dove: “You are more beautiful than you think” – featured in photo above in ad called, “Real Beauty Sketches”

Notice the level of emotion in each of these taglines, which essentially highlights each brand’s positioning. Here’s how they might be translated into positioning statements:

  • L’Oreal: Makes you feel valued and good about yourself.
  • BMW: Makes you feel powerful.
  • State Farm: Makes you feel secure and safe in times of need.
  • Dove: Makes you see what other people see when they look at you.

These are obviously big blockbuster brands, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t do the same for your small business. Here are a few tips to creating a positioning statement for your company:

  1. Think about the emotional benefit that you offer your customer.
  2. Think about how you want your customer to feel about you, every time they think about you.
  3. Try to capture that emotion in a brief statement that best describes what you can offer, and jot down a few options.
  4. If you have a team, run the ideas by them and do a little brainstorming. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you start generating ideas.
  5. If you need help with any of these, have a marketing agency facilitate this process, their expertise will help you.

Do you feel your brand makes an emotional connection with your customers? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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Why Stop-and-Start Marketing does not work

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We’re just over halfway through the summer – how has business been? If summer is a slow time for your business or industry, you might be looking for ways to shave some costs before the boom September hits. Take my advice from this previously posted piece, and ensure that you don’t compromise branding in the name of saving a couple of bucks.

All businesses see fluctuations in their revenues. And it is understandable that when faced with “cash flow” issues, many businesses owners look to cut what they deem to be “unnecessary expenditures”. However, I can tell you from my many years of marketing experience that marketing is an integral part of your business, and stopping marketing activities can have a dramatic impact on your business.

A good example of this in practice is the 2008 financial crisis. Many businesses were faced with huge revenue challenges, and although some decided to stop their marketing and withdraw from their consumers’ radars, there were those that looked at it as an opportunity to “market smarter”. They continued to invest in their marketing, and not only survived the crisis – they actually thrived. Fueled by a strong marketing presence, these companies pushed forward with bolder strategies, and thereby gained a competitive advantage.

The reason that marketing is so important to businesses is that marketing is your main lifeline to customers and sales. Without it, you can’t be sure that customers know who you are, and what you are selling.

I’d like to share with you a few tips to consider, if you are ever in a situation where you are contemplating stopping or “pausing” your marketing activities:

  • Sync your business operations to be in line with your marketing strategy, so that if you have a “weak” month, you can pick up sales leads and revenues via another avenue.   For example, if you know that August is traditionally a bad “cash flow” month for your business, plan to combat that with a campaign running in July and August. Your marketing strategy plays a key role in your success.
  • Stop the marketing activities that are using non-measurable tactics, and replace them with other more measurable marketing practices.
  • Focus your advertising campaigns on lead generation instead of simply brand recognition.
  • Leverage social media strategies to increase engagement, audience and potential leads.
  • Find more ways to connect with your customers, so that you will be “top of mind” when they are making a buying decision.

I understand why, when faced with a crisis or dip in revenues, companies look to cut marketing budgets. But, simply stated, as “marketing” encompasses everything you do to place your product or service in the hands of potential customers, your marketing really needs to be continuous.

With markets becoming more competitive, it is more important that you get ahead of your competitors – by any means necessary.  That should start with a great marketing strategy, and continue with “smart”, measurable tactics that attract customers to your business.

Have you ever contemplated stopping your marketing?  What impact did this have on your business?  Please share your experiences on the importance of continuous marketing in the comments below.

The Advertising Essentials for SMBs

Winner

More so than with a larger enterprise,  when you are a small-to-medium sized business, every customer counts. Business-owners often hear about the next “cool” thing in advertising and marketing, and immediately want to try it to see if it will bring customers through their door, with little thought to cost and overall fit within their marketing strategy.

I decided to highlight a previous blog post, compiling a list of best practices when it comes to choosing the advertising that best fits with your budget and your business’ overall goals.

As a SMB owner, once you’ve decided you want to advertise the challenge is making a choice about which type of advertising is best for your business. From online adverting to print ads, flyers, banner ads, radio and TV spots, the amount of selection seems endless.

We all know that to gain customers for your product or service you’ll have to invest in some advertising. One of the most important things for a product/company is to be seen and recognized by its target audience.  Advertising is the main avenue marketers use to attract customers to your specific brand, but it can also be the most expensive, so choosing the right type of advertising will be key to your success.

Here are a few tips to I’d like you to consider before investing in your advertising this year.

  1. As advertising can be costly, consult your marketing strategy to align your advertising goals with your overall marketing strategy.
  2. Consider your audience before choosing the type of advertising. E.g. if you are a tattoo service targeting a younger audience, then an ad in the newspaper (which older people are more likely to read) would not be a good investment of your advertising dollars.
  3. Keep the goal in mind.  In consultation with your strategy, be clear on what you want to achieve with this advertising.  Some may advertise to increase brand recognition or to actually drive sales.  Be as specific as possible about what you hope to achieve through advertising. E.g. increase sales by 10% in product “x”.
  4. Timing. Decide the frequency and duration.  Advertising is won and lost based on how many times it is seen or heard by your audience, so think about how often you will run an ad and, if it’s a radio ad, how long will the spot be.
  5. Use a mix of different methods.  Unless you know your audience is using a certain type of media 100% of the time, versification is also important. Think of a radio ad you may have heard and then read that ad in the newspaper or trade publication, and then possibly seen the exact same ad in a local bus shelter.  Increasing your audience’s exposure to your brand directly correlates to their buying decisions.
  6. Make sure you have measurement in place to track your advertising. You’ll need to track it so you can determine what the ROI is and if it met your goals.

If you want to grow your customer base you have to advertise, but before you spend one dime, be sure you choose advertising that helps you to effectively reach your target market and attract new customers.

Have you considered advertising your company? Have you included advertising in your marketing strategy?  What kind of success have you had with your advertising? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

A case for Instagram for Business

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What kind of social media tools do you utilize for your business? Many companies use a combination of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and even Pinterest as platforms to communicate their message and each of these social mediums have their distinct benefits and unique audience niches.

If you have been keeping yourself up-to-date on social media trends, you would have noticed that Facebook recently admitted that 2013 saw a loss of a significant amount of active daily users in the 13-24-age bracket. While most of your direct consumers would not fall in this demographic, this age group will grow into your target audience in the coming years and are big influencers of the older generation.

If you’re looking for a new and fresh outlet for your company to engage with your audience, perhaps Instragram, a newer platform which launched in 2010, is the answer! With over 200 million users, Instagram is a photo-sharing application where users share their up-to-the-minute activities with their followers. B2C companies have used the app to feature their products, new arrivals and even used the video function to share 15-second demonstrations.

You might be asking how you would use Instagram as a B2B enterprise, and so you might be surprised to discover there are interesting ways to use this tool in your business:

  • Highlight your brand’s history by posting old photos and facts (Pro tip: Engage with a popular hashtag on Instragram #TBT or “ThrowBack Thursday” where users post old photos of favourite memories and past moments)
  • Text and graphics: use text and graphics to create short and snappy messages to your followers, like how to enter a contest or an interesting fact.
  • Blog posts: Reference your company blog with your Instragram account with a photo and a link
  • News: Post pictures of industry or corporate news that your followers will find interesting

Which of the above suggestions would work well for your business? Have you seen Instagram used in any other creative ways for businesses? I look forward to your thoughts below.

Why the C-Suite Needs to Understand Social Media

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This quarter’s C-Suite Survey measured the advance of social media among Canadian businesses. The survey interviewed 129 executives between June 4 and June 24, 2014.

The survey is absolutely worth the read, but here are the highlights and my opinion upon reflecting on these results.

Key Takeaways:

  1. There has been an increase in engagement from half of Canada’s top companies who are now tweeting.
  2. Executives are more likely to be on Twitter and LinkedIn, than Facebook. That may be a comment on personalities: Facebook is about community, whereas Twitter is more of a megaphone.
  3. Relatively few see social media as a transformational force. Only a minority of companies has shifted resources from traditional, paid media or communications. Those that have done so have reassigned only 20 per cent of their media budgets.
  4. Nearly half of executives said they do not know how online media can help them, and almost half of those engaged in social media doubt that it helps their company’s bottom line.
  5. Executives agreed that social media opens up companies to reputational concerns. They are more likely to be put off by the downside of social media than they are to embrace the opportunities.

Take a look through the entire C-Suite Survey as it also highlights how beneficial social media are and the main value of using social media vs. traditional forms of communication.

My Advice:

It’s true that social media does not perfectly align with all business models, but it was surprising to me that the survey found so many companies and smaller firms avoiding using this inexpensive media. As a marketing advisor with almost 20 years in the business, I know corporate reputation is just too important to ignore and social media can play a pivotal role in building supporters, quick reaction and interaction as well as branding and offers a huge opportunity to take part in online conversations. Social media does produce results, but like any tactic, it needs to begin with a strategy. If, for example, you want to increase brand, then a social media strategy needs to be created with this objective in mind. The strategy will indicate frequency, and use of which networks, measurement, types of campaigns, etc.

I don’t want C-level executives to be disenchanted and discouraged by the power of social media. It can have an impact on your bottom line, but to see impact will take time, commitment, and a solid strategy.   You may want to enlist the help of a marketing advisor or agency. Plan your social media no differently than you would any other media spend and give it time to grow and see the ROI.

NOTE: The quarterly C-Suite Survey was conducted for Report on Business News Network by Gandalf Group, and sponsored by KPMG.

What do you think about the survey? Do you think it reflects the sentiment at your company? Please let me know what you think in the comments below.