Online Marketing

Second Place Is A First-Rate Strategy

With almost 20 years in this business, it’s not that often that I come across a TV commercial that actually gets me excited, but Classico’s pasta sauce competition commercial has done it. It’s not because of the creativity or the out-of-the-box thinking, but because of the strategy! The commercial establishes a pasta sauce competition, the opponents being a group of Italian “Nonnas” and Classico pasta sauce chefs. When the winners are announced, the Italian Nonnas take home the gold, while the Classico group stands cheering. It ends with a voiceover that says:

“Homemade pasta sauce will always win, but with inspiration from the regions of Italy, we’re a close second.”

WOW! I wasn’t expecting that ending! And that is why the commercial is so effective. The commercial has the ad sponsor, Classico, celebrating the fact they didn’t win a pasta sauce competition, and promoting the fact that their brand was, indeed, second place in the pasta sauce game.

Brands usually don’t take this type of risk by admitting defeat, but by doing the unexpected and taking this risk, and creating a strategic approach, it’s a win-win.

Classico hasn’t created a major marketing campaign for over 10 years, so this ad needed to create some serious dialogue. After conducting some market research, Classico found that their consumers frequently make homemade pasta sauce on the weekend and believe that a store-bought pasta sauce will never live up to something made from scratch. They also found that; while their consumers appreciate homemade sauce more, “for those nights when they want to deliver a great meal, but don’t have a lot of time, they want a high quality pasta sauce alternative.”

Knowing this, Classico launched their “Second only to yours” campaign. Admitting their sauce will never beat a delicious homemade sauce appeals to consumers looking for brand honesty, and as I discussed in last week’s blog, honesty is key in a marketing campaign. Classico knows their consumers value high quality sauce, so by informing them that while they are not going to beat their homemade version, they are still a close second, appealing to this busy target market.

In 1962, this strategy was also met with great success when Avis embraced their second-place status as a way to hype the brand’s customer service with the tagline, “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder.” They retired the slogan last year after finally slipping into third place behind Hertz, 50 years after the tag line was created.

As we can see, this risky strategy worked well for both companies. Classico’s ad has now become a viral video, and Avis produced a popular slogan that was used for half a century. However, if everyone started a marketing campaign claiming they were number two, we might be in trouble. These two case studies are great examples of how well-researched marketing strategies can go against the grain and pay off big time.

The Blurred Lines Between Advertising and Social Media

When Ronald Reagan’s Chesterfield cigarette ads premiered, did we really believe that he smoked a pack a day? Probably not, because we knew it was an advertisement. When we see pictures of Kylie Jenner posing with her FitTea on Instagram, do we think that she drinks it every morning to maintain a healthy weight? Maybe.

The introduction of social media has blurred the lines of advertising and real life significantly. Before we had Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, we were able to recognize advertisements easily. Now, it’s difficult to determine if our favourite celebrity really does like Coco White Teeth Whiteners, or if they’re being paid to say they do.

Influencers on social media have thousands of people following their every move, so it makes sense that companies would want them to advertise for them. The problem is, a lot of influencers are not informing their followers that they are being paid to post. As a result, Ad Standards Canada has revised its rules regarding advertising with blogs, celebrities, and social media influencers. Bloggers are now required to include statements in their posts that acknowledge they are working with a company to advertise a product, and social media influencers will be required to include hashtags like #sponsored or #ad to ensure the public knows they are being paid to post.

After working in the marketing and communications industry for over 20 years, I am able to spot an ad on my social media feed easily. Unfortunately, a lot of other Canadians are not as media literate and are therefore feeling tricked after they have purchased a product discretely advertised on social media.

One of the main functions of marketing is increasing brand loyalty. Customers are unlikely to purchase a product or stay interested in a brand when they find out they have been lied to. Customers look for authenticity in the brands they follow, so acknowledging that a celebrity is being paid to promote your company is just better business. While famous celebrities might not actually use your product in their everyday lives, if your overall marketing strategy is strong enough, people will want to buy your product.

If you or your organization is considering social media advertising with an influencer, make sure your customers know they are being marketed to. Having a celebrity face is a great way to increase interest in your product, but honesty is key to maintaining customer loyalty.

Social Media is Not a Do-It-Yourself Project

Social media isn’t just about tweeting where you ate last night, posting vacation photos on Facebook  or finding a date on Tinder. It’s serious business for companies that are serious about attracting and  driving targeted customers to their website and converting leads into customers. In response to the  importance of social media in business, colleges and  universities now offer degree programs in social media – Seneca College (Certificate in Social Media), University of Florida (Masters Degree in Social Media) and Georgetown University (Certificate in Social Media Management) are just a few offering social media degrees. And there’s a rise in social media-oriented M.B.A. programs.

What can social media do for your company?

Every company can benefit from social media. Here are 10 great benefits that your company can derive from a well planned and well executed social media campaign.

  1. Generates leads in a very cost effective manner
  2. Helps establish your brand & increases brand awareness
  3. Builds brand loyalty
  4. Increases website traffic
  5. An excellent platform for engaging with your customers
  6. Helps you reach a targeted audience
  7. Expands your reach
  8. Helps build relationships
  9. Delivers higher conversion rates
  10. Decreases marketing costs

 

Who is using social media for business?

According to the Social Media Examiner, 96% of marketers are using social media.

Why isn’t social media working for my company?

Unfortunately, social media is not a do-it-yourself project. It’s a specialty that requires a particular expertise and skill set. Just as you’re the expert in running your business there are professionals whose expertise is social media.

They understand the science and art behind it and the subtle nuances that can make a big difference in results. Social media requires a strategy, the content that will deliver results, and the analytics to measure those results.

It’s not as simple as just writing a tweet, hoping for the best and expecting results. If you haven’t been seeing results from your social media efforts, I strongly urge you to contact a marketing agency or a consultant to manage social media for your company. With proper expertise in place your social media campaigns will deliver results.

 

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!

The Rise of Digital Marketing

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.26.20 PMThe digital world is tied directly to data, and data is everywhere. When it comes to marketing, data informs marketers about audiences, their interests, intentions, and where they choose to interact. I believe that being able to analyze big data, create original content and having a sound digital strategy are three key factors a company should consider while aiming for success in the current digital climate.

Big Data

Because of the rise in available data, digital media has become an incredibly integrated part of consumers’ daily lives, and digital platforms are constantly updating themselves in order to provide the best user experience.

Being able to analyze and report data is a key component to any marketing strategy (at least it should be). Everything will be enhanced by the growth of big data – get ready!

Content

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “content is King”. When content is relevant and interesting, consumers cannot wait to read and share your brand’s content. This includes video content too (Instagram recently introduced a looping feature on their videos!).

Also, blogs are making a comeback because SEO matters now more than ever, and you need content to post on your social media sites – what better content than your own, right?

Digital Strategy

The changing digital landscape means digital marketing is constantly evolving, and marketers, like myself, are forced to learn how to use new software, how to use different platforms (including mobile), how to apply new techniques, and how to manage and optimize marketing efforts.

Location matters more now too. As the Internet grows at an incomprehensible rate, users are looking for more local experiences. We’ve seen the emergence of companies, like Uber and UberX, providing local goods and services at the push of a button. Being able to offer customers a local experience (that’s easily accessible via their smartphone – think convenience) keeps you relevant. This means we should see a rise in the amount of geo-targeted advertising, and social content created.

Content creation, SEO, and social media, shouldn’t be treated as specific departments, but rather as skills that exist inherently within your marketing agency (or internal marketing team).

What does this mean for businesses today?

Before you, or your company, settle on a marketing budget, I recommend you look at the latest trends and technology, and understand which of these your customers use so you can create a plan that leverages all available data. The success of today’s marketing campaigns largely relies on sound marketing strategies that have adopted new digital technologies.

If you’re unsure of where to start or if your marketing strategy is outdated, please contact me at info@creativeworksmarketing.ca to see how I can help your business.

Does your company have a digital strategy in place? What are your biggest challenges with digital marketing? Comment and share your thoughts with me!

Super Bowl – Promoting A New “Good Dad” Image

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.03.53 PMTo say the Super Bowl attracts a huge audience is an understatement, but for advertisers the Super Bowl’s massive reach and potential to raise brand awareness with about 112 million people tuning in to the 2014 game, the Super Bowl remains not only the biggest televised sports event in the U.S. but the year’s most anticipated advertising showcase.

On one level there were some notable differences this year in costs and advertisers: a 30-second spot ran for an unprecedented $4.5 million, and we saw fewer auto ads, notably none from Honda and Volkswagen, and incredible film-quality ads with highly-paid celebrities like Pierce Brosnan, but we also saw more opportunities for first time advertisers like smartphone accessories-maker Mophie, and web development platform Wix.com.

On a deeper level, this Super Bowl is unlike any other not because of the deflated balls scandal, or the non participation of a few auto manufacturers to renew their ads, but because of the sheer number of NFL players in the spotlight for sexual assault charges. You may recall a few months ago, when we saw video footage of Ray Rice assaulting his fiancée and subsequently receiving a mere slap on the wrist for his crime. This incident, and the previous track record of many NFLers who have also been accused of assault, including Ray McDonald, CJ Spillman, Darren Sharper (and many more) caused a media stir, outrage and a demand for justice – spelling bad press for the NFL. So in an unprecedented move, the NFL created some powerful spots (PSAs and commercials) aimed at raising awareness of domestic violence. Then other advertisers leveraged this sentiment, and launched their entire Super Bowl campaigns around being a better Dad; from Nissan, Toyota and Unilever with grass root-type style videos aimed at how to be a better dad, even featuring current and former professional football players and their children discussing their relationship with their fathers, the focus was less on beer drinking, physical strength, and fast car driving and more on the “how to be a better man”. These brands built buzz online by promoting hashtags like #withdad, #realstrength and #oneboldchoice.

Sincere or not, we will never really know, but as a dad of a couple of young boys, I am thrilled to see change afoot with where advertising is going; a chance to bond with this “man’s” game and watch ads that reflect strength in character; that no longer reiterate the old 1950’s approach of how to be “a man’s man”, but showcase something much richer, something that more closely reflects the values of I want to instill in my boys – love and mutual respect – after all isn’t that the #realstrength of a man?

Up for discussion this week is how did the new breed of ads affect you? Do you think this type of ad will become the norm or was this just a one-off and a simple money grab due in part because of the criminal cases facing the NFL? I look forward to your feedback.

Case Study: How a customer analysis saved thousands for a B2B client

consumer-analysisLooking for the “wow” factor in your business is not always about what you want your company to be for your customers, but very often, it is more about what your customers value about your company. As a first step to creating powerful strategic marketing plans, we always recommend market research to our clients. Market research, specifically customer analysis, is the most powerful tool marketers have for really finding out first hand exactly what your customers value and why they choose you over your competitors.

Many companies want this business intelligence and feel they can “do it themselves” with an email survey or direct mail piece. Well, with almost 20 years in the business, I can tell you that research obtained by “doing it yourself” is truly invalid research. Research needs to be conducted by an unbiased third party who can listen and respond without prejudice or emotion.

I’d like to share with you the big wow factor that came as a result of the research we conducted as the first leg in a strategic marketing project. We’ll call this company ABC Consulting. Prior to our engagement, they were about to “press the button” on several online marketing tactics including investing heavily in a new website with interactive capabilities and launching into social media networking sites. We convinced the client to “hold off” on implementing these tactics until after we conducted a competitive analysis and customer analysis. They took our recommendation and decided to hold off and are eternally thankful that they did. It is true, as with most qualitative research, that the truth lies in asking the “right” questions and so we personally spoke to our client’s customers, asking them a host of custom questions to determine not only what they value in the service they are receiving, but how they feel what they are getting differs from other competitors.

There was not one customer we spoke to that values online communication, stating that they never visit ABC Consulting’s website, and have no need for social media. What do they value? Personal calls, face-to-face meetings, etc. The result of this research is a 180 degree shift from what our client had determined was what their customers’ wanted. As I have said in many of my blogs holds particularly true here: no tactics before you understand who your audience is, and what they value. If our client had executed their online tactics, what type of success do you think they would have had? My guess is none, as their customers never visit their website and new customers search for this service in other ways, but not online.

The research revealed many values, behaviours, wants and needs of ABC Consulting’s customers and competitors, but none stronger than a 180 degree shift in thinking!

With this research in hand we are now able to develop a targeted and strategic plan, rooted in solid research, and our client will save the thousands of dollars they were about to spend on the wrong tactics: tactics that were rooted in guess work and marketing pressure to conform.

My take-away for all business owners is to take the time to get to really know your customers, NOT through your own personal dealings but through someone else’s eyes and the result could be a game changer!

When was the last time your company conducted third party qualitative research? Do you think you need to conduct research before you execute a new marketing initiative? Are you willing to try new tactics without knowing what your customers value? I look forward to you sharing your thoughts in our comment section.

Click here for more information. 

Do You Know Why Your Customers Choose You?

customer-loyalty-mj-experiaWith more and more competing services spreading around the world, it is becoming easier to create look-alike companies and services. And yet, standing out from the crowd is one of the most important requirements of any company. Being different gives customers a good reason to choose your company over one of the many lookalikes.

There are many ways to be different. Offering a unique and better service is a good place to start. However, adding layers of innovative services or developing a brand with special attributes can also make you look and feel different.

One of the most important roles that market research can play is to find out what your potential audience wants and needs, and use these findings to help differentiate your company or service offering.

With almost two decades of market research expertise, I have outlined below a few compelling reasons as to why you should survey your customers. As for the process of creating the survey, how the survey is conducted, and what methods can be used to follow up, I’ll leave those for another blog later in the month!

Customer Loyalty: Understand the magic – what they like about you and what they dislike. Knowing what keeps them coming back over and over again is the secret to your success. Loyalty is the magic when they start talking about you and referring you to others.

Customer Satisfaction: Satisfied customers are those who do not have outstanding negative issues concerning you on their mind. This doesn’t mean everything has always been perfect. Sometimes things may not have gone all right. In all such situations you gave your customers a chance to talk to you. Sympathetic listening to customers is essential. An online survey, or better yet, a personal phone call from a third party, provide an excellent way for your customers to have a chance to get their side of the story out without being interrupted. A second essential is follow-through. Proper tools of analysis will help you segment your customers into different categories based on what you need to do in return. Then show them you “heard” them and are putting their words into action.

Effective Communication: By inviting customers to talk to you through careful design of your survey or asking key questions in a telephone conversation can effectively inform your customers about things they may not know or remind them of important changes or innovations in your organization. This is clever because customers will take your survey more seriously than most other communication you send them.

Spotting Trends: Beyond understanding the drivers behind loyalty and satisfaction of your customers, you can benefit from the wisdom of the masses by asking them for their ideas and spotting patterns in their feedback. Spotting such trends ahead of competition could offer you a significant advantage.

Think about your own loyalty as a customer and why you choose certain brands or companies to work with – heck, knowing what your customers value is what’s behind those great beer commercials who put their customer in their brand experience! Listen to your customers; let them show you what they value and once you act on their input, enjoy watching your business grow!

When was the last time you conducted a customer survey? Did you send out an online survey or did you call your customers? Did you follow up on the customer feedback and if so, how? Do you feel you did a professional job or do you think you should have hired a marketing firm to conduct it for you?

Your Social Media – When is it a Waste of Time?

social_media_ROIWhether you’re a small or big business, being on social media is a good idea. The visibility and connectivity accessible through social media has convinced most business owners that it’s worth their while. But what isn’t so clear is how to measure what’s working and what’s not, and when to drop a platform that’s just waste of time and energy.

While its possible to track ROI and conversions, it can be tough to accurately measure the effectiveness of a social media campaign. You might find that some social media efforts that drive visitors to your content can be measured in other ways. For example, if your social strategy isn’t so content-heavy, and if you are promoting products or events, then your business would fit a more traditional measure for ROI and conversions. The only way to know if what you’re doing is enough is to have a gauge on your ROI.

In order to get there, you have to align your objectives to your measurement. For each network (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) you’ll need to have an objective before you can decide on how successful the network is. You’ll need to decide what measurement would be the most valuable to you. Maybe you’re a blogger and your goals are e-mail sign-ups and blog followers, or, maybe you are a retailer looking to increase sales and traffic to your website – either way you must consider your key metric. I can guarantee that if you have had no objectives for your social media, then you will be extremely disappointed with the results.

Capturing the data is the easy part – measuring interactions (likes, clicks, shares, followers) and analyzing traffic, reach, and leads, can help gauge what your business is getting out of its social media investment, but you’ll need to measure these outcomes against your objectives.

Like all marketing tools, each social media network provides some general trends and demographic information to help guide your decision as to which platform your unique business should focus on, but ultimately, you need to understand your brand and your audience before you can choose the right platform, set objectives and measure if it is successful.

If you leverage the right tools and tactics necessary to better understand your audience, then you are more likely to put out messaging and content that is most likely to increase loyalty, drive sales, and help you reach company goals.

Measuring social media ROI can be extremely frustrating and difficult. I’d love to know how you measure your social media ROI, and what metrics you measure. Share your comments and thoughts with me in the comment section!

Case Study: The Toronto Raptors Build Brand Community with #WeTheNorth

prizingAlthough I have been in the marketing game for many years, I can count on one hand how many times the term “brand community” has come up in conversation. All of that changed earlier this year, when the Toronto Raptors were in the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2008. To celebrate, and promote Raptors as Canada’s Team, the team rebranded and launched “We the North” — a campaign that aimed to showcase the Raptors, Toronto, and Canada, in a way that NBA fans have been unfamiliar with.

Think back to spring – the Jays were off to a weak start, and Canada only had one team in the NHL playoffs. Meanwhile, the Raptors were playing on point and Sid Lee saw an opportunity to take the city, and the country, by the throat and they redefined a brand.

Before, the Raptors had been labeled as NBA outsiders, partly because they are the only NBA team in Canada, #WeTheNorth, launched by Sid Lee, flipped the public’s perception of the Raptors from negative to positive. The campaign launched with success, and embraced the things that have always made the Raptors outsiders – “We are the North side, a territory all our own. If that makes us outsiders, we’re in.”

Redefining what it Means to be a Canadian Basketball Fan

The first campaign video was released on social networks in the days leading up to the first playoff game on April 19th. Drake and Justin Bieber both retweeted the video, and in two days the video had 500, 000 views. That was the tipping point.

Following the launch, the Raptors transformed from an irrelevant squad, to one that won the Atlantic Division and secured them a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2008. We The North is now every Raptors’ fan’s basketball mantra.

The Raptors truly built a successful brand community, by first understanding that the brand’s future community will be made up of a homogenous group of people with different wants and needs. By considering the diverse possibilities of who could be in this homogenous group, the brand is better situated to serve the various wants and needs of the community, and respond to the community more effectively. To that I say, well done Raptors, well done.

Please enjoy watching their campaign video: http://www.nba.com/raptors/video/2014/04/16/NBA140416WETHENORTHflv-3239858

What do you think of brand community building? Can you think of another brand that has successfully built a brand community aside from a sports team? What do you think has made these other brands successful within those communities? Share your thoughts in our comment section.