Customer Experience

Earth Day – 4 Key Elements of a Cause Marketing Campaign

Cause marketing refers to the alignment of a brand with a cause that produces profitable and societal benefits for both. Today, consumers want to know what your company stands for and what you’re doing to make the world a better place. As a result, for many brands, cause marketing is now becoming the norm rather than the exception. You may be surprised to learn that cause marketing was first introduced in 1976. The two trail blazers involved were the Marriott Corporation and the March of Dimes. They worked together to promote the Marriott’s family entertainment complex in Santa Clara, California while raising funds for the March of Dimes. The campaign was a success for both parties and cause marketing was born.

In celebration of Earth Day this April 22nd, I’d like to encourage you to consider launching cause marketing campaign this year, and I’ve outlined the four key elements of one for you to consider:

  1. Simple, inspiring message: What you call your campaign matters. It should be simple, descriptive of your initiative and inspire you to want to participate. Motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson teamed up with the environmental organization The Nature Conservancy with its cause marketing campaign “Renew the Ride”. This campaign was designed to mobilize Harley Davidson’s global community of riders to raise funds for the planting of 50 million trees worldwide by 2025 so that the open road can be preserved for future generations of riders.
  1. Visual storytelling: Studies show that people read only about 20% of today’s web pages and are driven more by an image or short video than they are by anything else. Coke and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) teamed up to support the conservation of polar bears with their Arctic Home campaign. Who among you hasn’t been moved by the wonderful video spots that Coke and the WWF have created about polar bears? Those videos move us more than any written story could.
  1. Social sharing, ‘earnedmedia: The most effective cause marketing campaigns develop multiple media designed to maximize the effectiveness of each channel. Dell is doing a great job inspiring people to care more about the health of our oceans and marine wildlife through its support of actor Adrian Grenier’s the Lonely Whale Foundation. The campaign has gained great momentum thanks to Instagram, YouTube and other social media platforms. And, Coke and the WWF used the web, apps, social media, text messaging and other technology to drive brand awareness for the Arctic Home campaign.
  1. Big world issues, small personal action: While most cause marketing campaigns are calling people’s attention to a big issue, they need to inspire them to take a small personal action. Habitat for Humanity is working towards a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. They teamed up with Home Depot. As part of an employee engagement campaign, Home Depot employees can volunteer to work on a Habitat for Humanity project while being paid by Home Depot. This small personal action of volunteering makes a big difference in improving big world issues.

I believe cause marketing has many benefits for your business including positioning your brand to stand out from the rest while at the same time helping a cause and ‘doing the right thing’.

Is cause marketing important to a brand? 87% of consumers would switch from one brand to another if the other brand was associated with a good cause, according to a Cone Cause Evolution Survey. Is a cause marketing campaign right for your company and your brand? It’s certainly worth considering.

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Knowing Your Customers: A Market Research Case Study

 Several organizations I have worked with over the years claim to know their clients inside and out, but is that really the case?

Many of them often tell me they know how their clients perceive them because they explicitly ask for their opinion. However, I would argue that much like we rarely tell the waiter/waitress that we don’t like our meals, our clients are unlikely to tell us the truth unless there is a real issue. However, if third-party sources ask the same question to your clients, your clients are more likely to tell the truth. This fact alone is why unbiased market research is a crucial step in any marketing strategy.

In this blog, I’d like to share with you a case study that perfectly illustrates the importance of market research and how it helped them better define who they are to their customers.

Overview

Our client, a mid-sized educational toy distributor in Toronto, wanted to conduct research to identify their customers, the views they have of their brand, and the values they tie to the brand and its products. Specifically, they wanted to determine if there was a difference in buying behaviours between the company’s two key markets, establish any product leakage, and validate their brand recognition in the marketplace.

 Conducting the Research

Based on the client’s goals for this research project, we determined both qualitative and quantitative research was needed in order to receive the answers we were looking for.

First, we started by conducting preliminary qualitative research. Qualitative Research is the process of talking to someone through open-ended questions about a particular subject to gain insights into their thoughts and opinions. This can be done through a conversation, phone call, or focus group.

To complete this research, we conducted eight discussion guide-driven phone calls with a targeted cross-section of buyers within our client’s target audience.

With the results of the pre-field research, we crafted a highly customized survey that allowed for each audience to only see questions specifically directed at them. We further segmented the questionnaire by programming it based on the role of the individual by type of organization and then by responsibility. This type of research, called Quantitative Research, allows us to track data with closed-ended questions and more numerical information.

Findings

After analyzing the gathered information, we were able to provide our client with an in-depth analysis of their customers. The key findings indicated that their customers with the most purchasing power in their target audience reported the least amount of brand exposure. It also clearly identified that their brand was very well known in one of their key target markets and less known in the other, and lastly, their catalogue is highly utilized and highly regarded. 

Next Steps

Once the deeper analysis was complete and revealed more about their customers’ buying behaviours, preferences for price vs. product quality, and delivery times, our client was able to develop a marketing strategy for 2017 that was truly in line with their customers’ needs and wants.

Market research is a crucial step in your marketing strategy. It provides you with insights you would not be able to get by just asking your customers yourself. Market research helps you get to know your customers better, and what is more valuable than that?

5 Tips to Evaluate Whether an App Adds Value to Your Brand

CWM_Sept 22When we talk about apps, we often focus on the consumer application. Without a doubt, apps have provided a lot of value in the B2C market, but as a business owner who deals mainly with B2B clients, I wanted to address the value of utilizing an app for the B2B market.

If you’re a B2B owner thinking of creating an app for your business, in addition to asking yourself if there is something specific that you can accomplish with a mobile app that you can’t with your website, you’ll want to evaluate the need for an app in terms of adding value to your brand.

I’ve outlined below a few areas to consider when evaluating whether an app will bring value to your brand:

  1. Provide a direct marketing channel

A mobile app essentially narrows the gap between you and your customer. It reduces the steps that your customer has to go through to reach you. You can use an app to make it easier for customers to pay bills, place orders, book meetings, or get rewards.

  1. Showcase products and services

You can use an app to showcase your products and services. This would be especially useful if you have a comprehensive product offering. Customers can shop for parts, accessories, and features through the app. The great thing about apps is the ability to send notifications to the user’s smartphone or tablet device. The benefit of that is that you can increase the likelihood of your customers discovering featured products and services.

  1. Customer service and support

An app can also be used to provide customer service and support directly to your customers. You can build a messaging feature that allows customers to reach you directly. You can also offer resources, such as instruction manuals or help guides, which can help your customers access your products or services.

  1. Brand extension

Increasingly, mobile phones and tablets are becoming the primary tools for accessing the Internet. The change has been most profound in the consumer market, but as these mobile computers become more powerful, businesses are increasingly relying on them to do work. An app can extend the reach of your brand by making it easier for these mobile users to access your business.

  1. Stand out from the competition

Mobile apps at the small business level are still rare. If you can add value through the app, then the app can be leveraged as a point of differentiation from your competitors.

The greatest benefit of an app in the B2B space is the ability for customers to engage with your brand by offering them a benefit that they then tie to your value proposition. An example of this is through reward apps. Reward apps allow businesses to know more about the buying habits of their customers by giving them reward points towards free merchandise or services. If there is a perceived value of your app by the customer (i.e. reward points), then there is a greater likelihood that it will succeed!

Do you see the value of creating an app for your business? If so, will you take the next steps to creating one? If not, what is holding you back?

Tradeshow Strategy – Tips on How to Make Your Next Tradeshow a Success

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 11.53.18 AMYou have 4 seconds to engage someone that’s walking by, and distractions are everywhere – what do you do to grab their attention first?

Tradeshow Tips

Write a Strategy

Before reserving a booth at an industry tradeshow, ask yourself and your team, “What are we trying to accomplish by going to this tradeshow?” Tradeshows can be rewarding and can demonstrate true ROI if you do it right and are clear about what you want out of it.

Attempting to attract an audience to your booth can prove to be challenging and we all know tradeshows can be extremely expensive, so set tangible objectives, that can measured as outcomes. Without objectives, how else will you know if the tradeshow was successful? Whether your desired outcome is to generate buzz, increase brand awareness, build customer relationships, share industry knowledge, network, or gain leads, relying on random traffic in the room is not the wisest strategy (especially when most tradeshow attendees already have an idea of which booths they plan to visit before they get to the show). If you don’t set out measureable objectives, you wont have a clear understanding of how your booth performed.

It’s important to be intentional and create a booth that attracts the right people, so you can more easily reach your tradeshow goals. I recommend you try some, or all, of the following:

Preshow Outreach

Contact your regular customers, local contacts and existing prospects, and, if you can get access to the list of registered show attendees, contact them too! Make appointments by reaching out through direct mail, email, or the phone.

Stand Up

Most exhibitor staff sit behind tables. Don’t do that! Get up, and engage with people – that’s what you’re there for. Either push the table against a wall or leave chairs out of your booth set up.

Stand Out

Tradeshows are an investment of money and time. If you’re making the investment, try to grab a good location (the better locations will be more expensive), and brand your booth. Your actual booth itself is a silent salesperson – it speaks for you and your brand when you’re not able to, so it pays to have a pretty booth in a great location. TV screens, or interactive touch screens are a great way to grab attention and share your key messages!

Signage

Something else to consider is having a benefit-oriented sign that can be seen from down an aisle on the showroom floor. It should have verbiage that gives prospective clients a reason to stop and showcases a solution to a customer problem. Your signage should also answer the question all potential customers will be asking themselves – “What’s in it for me?” Don’t be afraid to be specific – it will weed out anyone who isn’t your target.

Offer Incentive

In order to attract the right people, you have to know your attendees. Make sure your incentive speaks to your target market and offers them something they want so they have a reason to come to your booth. Promotional items will impact how show attendees perceive you. Investing in promotional items that are as unique and high quality as your offering will pay off. Whether its swag, a game, a discount, or free services, special gifts say “thank you for coming by.”

Social Media Live Feeds

Tradeshows are an “in-person” event, but social media should still play a part. Let your clients and prospective clients know where your booth is and what you’re up to over social media. Being active on social media during the show will help you connect with attendees and those who couldn’t make it to the event.

It’s common for events to have their own Twitter hashtag, so participants can communicate with one another from the showroom floor.

Promote the Tradeshow Like It’s Your Own Event

Every year tradeshows drive thousands of people to different events. Exhibitors can pay for passes to give to great customers, prospective customers, or media, to join you. The show organizers will be promoting the event themselves (which in turn promotes you by association), so give back to your partner by promoting them.

Follow Up AFTER the Show

You need to respond to leads really quickly! Key in business cards right at the show, and follow up either later that day, or early the next morning.

If a lead calls you first, do NOT wait – call them back immediately!

Do you create a strategy for your tradeshows? Do you have the same strategy every year? How do you measure the success of your tradeshows? Do you have any tips you would like to share? Please feel free to leave questions or comments in the comment section – I’d love to hear your stories!

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.

What’s Your Biggest Pain Point?

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As marketers, we try to assess client’s needs and results to understand what strategy should be followed to help them achieve their goals.  As success can be measured on various levels including ROI, awareness, reach, leads, and conversions, it is critical to clearly define your needs, so a targeted strategy can be developed.  Needs are usually rooted in what I like to call “pain points”. In this weeks blog, I thought I would take the pulse of the industry and ask you what you feel are biggest pain points facing your business.

As a result of this quick survey, I hope to share with you “pain point” trends and some analysis of what these trends might mean for our industry and your business. The results will only be as strong as your participation, so I hope you’ll participate. What is the top “pain point” facing your business?

  • Financial concerns
  • Employee/personnel issues
  • Marketing ROI
  • Marketing strategy
  • Online marketing (emails, web, ads)
  • Mobile application of business
  • No brand awareness
  • Lack of sales
  • Lack of innovation
  • Other – define:

I look forward to reading the results and sharing the trends in next week’s blog.

Netflix is tuned-in to brand loyalty

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If you’ve heard buzz surrounding the release of the much-anticipated second season of Orange is the New Black, it’s because fans of the popular show could not wait to know what was going to happen next in the series. But you won’t have seen too much advertising traction as other popular shows. This is because it appears that the world of television is changing with the habits and preferences of its viewers, and Netflix, the creator of shows such as Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, is listening.

Instead of spending their multi-million dollar budgets on pricey, large-scale adverts, Netflix pours its investment into the creation and production of quality, highly sought-after content, like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. With amazing writing and serious star-power (we’re looking at you, Kevin Spacey), that can’t be found on TV, Netflix subscribers are left wanting more without being bombarded with promotional material they don’t have time for.

Perhaps it is decreasing levels of patience or increased wariness of B2C advertising, but television viewers do not want their viewing experience interrupted by advertising. With the introduction of TV recording systems, many people PVR their favourite episodes and fast forward through the commercials – ads are simply white noise. Netflix understands this pet peeve and brings episodes to its subscribers without advertisements or commercial breaks. A Netflix subscriber doesn’t feel marketed or promoted to, which helps build brand credibility and trust between the company and its customer base.

Are you a TV binge-watcher? Binging defined as watching more than one episode of a show in one sitting. The trend of “marathonning” episodes is becoming more common as today’s viewer demands instant gratification, immediacy and efficiency in their entertainment. Also, due to busy schedules, viewers want to be able to watch their favourite shows on their own schedule, which speaks to the large popularity of PVR. Viewers do not want to wait between episodes, and again, Netflix is listening: Netflix released Orange is the New Black season 2 in bulk – every episode available for subscribers at once, so they could watch at their own pace, without commercial interruption.

It seems as though Netflix is very tuned into their audience – listening to their viewing public and providing quality content that people are willing to pay for. Could all television be going this way soon? Do you subscribe to Netflix? How has it changed television viewing for you? I look forward to your thoughts below.