brand awareness

Influencer Marketing: Is it Right for Your Business?

CWM Aug 1We all know that in the digital world the only thing constant is change. It seems that every day I hear about a new social media platform emerging and with it a new “superstar”. These “superstars” are not famous for anything except their ability to influence online buyers making them in some ways just as or more powerful than that of actors, actresses and athletes. They have millions of followers on various social media platforms who hang on their every word and accept what they say as gospel. Leveraging these influencers to promote your product or service can be extremely lucrative for your company, but is it right for your business? I’ve outlined below some information on influencer marketing and a few tips to get you started.

What is influencer marketing?

If you are wondering what is influencer marketing; it engages key individuals with large followings to leverage influence among their followers. In essence it’s about having a person of influence drive your brand’s message to a larger market in a way that’s perceived to be authentic and organic. As people ignore traditional ads in ever increasing numbers, the most lucrative opportunity for companies looking to drive brand awareness and sales is influencer marketing.

Does influencer marketing work?

When an influencer speaks about a product or service it comes across as a genuine recommendation, not an ad or marketing campaign. It’s believable and people respond.

  • 94% of those who used influencer marketing believe the tactic to be effective (Lingia’s State of Influencer Marketing Survey)
  • Influencer marketing’s top benefits entail creating authentic content about their brand (87%), driving engagement around their brand (77%) and driving traffic to their websites or landing pages (56%) (Lingia’s State of Influencer Marketing Survey)
  • Marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising. And of those that were acquired through word-of-mouth had a 37% higher retention rate (McKinsey)
  • Twitter reports that 49% of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers
  • 40% of Twitter users said they had made a purchase as a direct result of an influencer’s Tweet
  • 20% said that a Tweet from an influencer inspired them to share their own product recommendation

Now that you know what influencer marketing is and that there are solid stats to support that it does work if done properly, stay tuned until next blog when I’ll outline a few tips on how to get started.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the power of influencer marketing contact us today!

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Social Media – Are Your Lights On?

Social-Media11There really is no other medium quite like it! Social media has the unique ability to not only reach thousands of customers instantaneously, but also to influence their buying decisions. It is a marketer’s dream: an inexpensive medium to leverage when creating brand awareness, influencing opportunities, and online marketing campaigns.

It seems there are new social media channels popping up every day, and although they may be tempting, before you add the latest one to your marketing arsenal, I’ve outlined below a few social media guidelines worth considering when evaluating your social media approach to help you decide which new shiny social media platform is right for your marketing objectives.

  1. Do Your Homework

One rule of thumb I tell my clients is to do your research; make sure your audience is listening. If your audience is not on the platform you’ve chosen, then how will you measure results against your marketing objectives? One way to conduct research for social media could be to actually ask your customers in an online poll or quick web survey. By finding out which channels your customers are on, you can narrow down your choices and easily make a decision about which channels you should put your efforts towards.

  1. Who is the Platform For?

Many businesses believe that having a presence on many channels can bring them the most exposure for their brand, but each platform targets different demographics and opportunities. Take a look at the platform, read what people are saying about it, check out the content and get a flavour for the postings, look at the advertising opportunities, and then decide if it’s right for your customers.

  1. Be Strategic and Consistent

As with all marketing, social media needs to be implemented strategically and then implemented consistently. You’ll need to create a plan, schedule, and “voice” to be successful. No one will follow a brand that is in their face one second and then disappears for the next month.

  1. Do You Have Enough Bandwidth?

Once you’ve decided on which new platform(s) you’d like to add, consider your resources. Some of you may already have a presence on many channels, so consider the extra work involved. It’s better to have a strong presence on a few channels that matter to your customers, than spreading yourself too thin and getting a weak performance on several.

There is no doubt about it, social media is a great marketing tool for business, but you’ll need to be clear about choosing the right platforms, scheduling the content and remaining consistent online. If your social media platform has not been active for as long as a week, to a potential customer it could feel like you have turned off the lights and locked the doors!

How Canadian Brand Identities Get Lost in American Franchises

UnknownAn interview with a Canadian owner of the U.S. brand Edible Arrangements

As a Canadian marketer, I am often faced with the challenge of trying to market an American franchise to a Canadian audience. When a Canadian buys a U.S.-based franchise they must deal with the many trials and tribulations that arise when defining a nation specific brand identity for a well-known U.S. brand.

In today’s blog I decided to interview Tiziana Cannella, the owner of the Edible Arrangements franchise in Vaughan, Ontario. Edible Arrangements is a U.S. franchise originating from East Haven, Connecticut. They handcraft fruit baskets to customers all around the world. With over 1,100 stores in 14 countries around the globe, they are all about making a customer say “WOW” to every product they create.

I sat down with her to discuss what her experience has been like as a Canadian operating an American franchise.

Q: Do you feel the need to create a Canadian brand identity? Why or why not?

A: I believe that although it is really important as a franchise to maintain brand and product consistency across the board, it is equally important to identify with my Canadian market too. I’d like to have a brand that reflects Canadian practices, habits and lifestyles which are different from Americans. For example, when our customers see the Edible Arrangements TV commercial they automatically assume we are only available in the states. Canadians shouldn’t be surprised to find us locally when searching online, but they often are due to much of the advertising coming out of the U.S.

Q: What are some challenges you face with creating a Canadian brand identity?

A: When marketing is approached from an American mindset, Canadian franchises are not taken into account. We have different spending habits, and lifestyles that cause different marketing tactics to be adjusted when reaching out to different audiences. For example, in the U.S. most advertising is done around large holidays such as Mother’s Day and Christmas, however, Canadians don’t buy just for these holidays, in fact, they spend more for everyday needs. When the recession hit the US a few years ago, heavy markdowns were issued in both US and Canada, but Canadian sales were doing just fine. This caused Canadian buyers to believe they were overpaying the rest of the year because the recession was not affecting the Canadian market. Prices did not need to be adjusted in Canada and this is something that challenges us as franchisees trying to be that brand for Canadian consumers.

Q: Do you know of any examples of how brands can have a U.S. and Canadian brand?

A: Yes. Starbucks is a great example, just by visiting the homepage of their American website and their Canadian website you can see different messages coming across as proof that they are speaking to different audiences. On both sites the home page features are the same except the U.S. site is advertising the health of a breakfast sandwich, while the Canadian site is promoting the new feature pastries they’ve brought into Canada. Starbucks feels the need to talk to their audiences differently by the things they want their different audiences to see.

CANADIAN HOMEPAGE

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USA HOMEPAGE

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This example shows the importance of talking to your consumer and creating a brand experience for your consumer. By creating a region specific brand identity, you are letting the consumer know they matter and letting them know that your brand is accessible to them.

Q: What do you think is the first step to changing this problem for Canadian franchises?

A: Somebody at the head office in the U.S. needs to understand that since a percentage of my sales is spent on marketing, the way they spend the marketing budget and promote their brand needs to be different in Canada. Once we have their buy-in and approval for a separate Canadian marketing budget, then we can work with an expert like an agency or a marketing professional to tell us where we should be focusing our marketing efforts, where our audience is and when we should be doing marketing activities.

Many thanks to Tiziana for taking the time to discuss this provocative topic with me and providing me with her insights and frustrations.

If you are a Canadian franchisee of a U.S. company, how do you define your Canadian brand? What challenges and solutions could be offered to this solve this issue? I look forward to a lively discussion on this one!

Impressions vs. Leads: Where Does The Real Value Lie?

1As the owner of a strategic marketing agency, clients often ask me how many leads were generated from a campaign. My answer is often the same; what was the objective of the campaign? Was the campaign launched to generate leads or impressions?

But wait; can you have a lead without ever having made an impression?

If you are a smaller, unknown brand then generating leads can be challenging, but which comes first, the chicken (lead) or the egg (impression)? Although your marketing strategy should determine the objectives of a campaign, if you don’t have one, consider that there is a huge value in an impression.

In the spirit of “any PR is good PR”, impressions measure the number of times your ad was seen, which we consider to be brand building (a part of any solid marketing strategy). If someone sees your ad and, although they may not be your target market, they mention your ad to someone else they know who is in your desired target market, then voila, you have a lead! Now you must ask yourself how many viable leads resulted from that single impression.

Of course at the end of the day, marketing must measure engagement in hard metrics (like clicks, and conversion rates), but it is equally important to remember quality is more important than quantity and the path to that lead is often not as direct as you might think!

The engagement cycle takes many forms, starting with an impression that may result in a lead. In your online campaigns, which do you feel came first – the chicken or the egg? Share your thoughts in our comment section below.

The Mystique of SEO

SEO-mystiqueIt seems like SEO is big business these days – it’s the “buzzword” de jour! With more and more SEO consultants, online SEO experts, SEO packages, SEO promises, and SEO professionals popping up every day, I find myself and many of my clients bombarded with the pointed message: “Your business will die without proper SEO” (I am paraphrasing of course).

With many web companies, online providers and marketing companies all providing SEO, how are you to know which one is offering the right SEO for you? Should you buy that SEO package online or use the consultant from that SEO Company everyone is talking about? I certainly understand all the SEO confusion that exists in the marketplace.

SEO by its shear nature is continuously evolving which is why there seems to be a mystery around what it is exactly. Let’s demystify it: SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, plays an important role in your customer’s research and buying cycle. It attracts potential buyers to your website through critical and relevant keywords and phrases ranked high in search engines where searchers are already looking for information about them. SEO is about being where your customers are, and directing them towards solutions you offer them.

SEO is so important, in fact I would say it is absolutely essential to helping you grow your online business, but like other marketing tactics, SEO needs to be part of your marketing strategy.

A good marketing strategy will provide an indication of which marketing tactics should specifically target your audience. The tactics will complement SEO and in combination, strengthen and reinforce each element to grow your business exponentially. To be clear, SEO alone (i.e. without brand awareness, and a strategy) cannot help you reach your highest marketing potential.

How much you should invest in SEO, what type, and who implements, are great questions for a discussion to have with your trusted marketing agency or advisor. Although they may not be SEO experts, they should be able to help you understand why you need it, what type of investment you might be looking at, and point you in the direction of a professional SEO specialist.

Does your marketing agency provide you with SEO services? What type of successes have you had with your SEO? How long did it take for you to see results? What investment have you made? I look forward to your 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.