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Selling A Book By Its Cover

A Book By Any Other Cover…

They say you cannot tell a book by its cover but do not ever doubt that you can sell a book by its cover.

You cannot judge a book by its cover. Evidently you can sell pile of them though.

You cannot judge a book by its cover. Evidently you can sell a pile of them though.

This screen shot depicts the overall sales of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice based on five different cover designs and spanning 20 years. This provides a clear look at the power behind design, marketing and understanding the current market.

Sales for this literary classic hit a small peak of sorts in 1995, but overall remained fairly low until 2009 when it surged in popularity netting more than double the sales in a single year.

Why? What happened in 2009?

The Great Pride & Prejudice Surge Of 2009

The Pride & Prejudice film was released in 2005. Which means that this probably did not factor largely in to the 2009 releases success. If anything one would have expected a surge in sales to occur within the next year.

Instead we see that four years later, in 2009, demand for this novel more than doubled within twelve months. What was it about 2009?

Every market surge has a history. There may be many contributing factors to a sudden sales onslaught but one can always trace the reasons. This can often be a complicated process and one may wind up with many dead ends before coming to a reliable conclusion as to the cause, but there is always a cause.

In the case this surge in 2009 it is not so complicated. Have a look at the cover that sold so well.  The cover couldn’t be the sole reason could it? Design doesn’t make that much of a difference right?

Wrong. It is all in the design. The 2009 release happened to coincide with another novel series which just happened to be gaining steam at the time. Perhaps you have heard of it. It involved an angst ridden teenage girl and her love affair with a vampire and a werewolf.

The Twilight Saga had recently become a huge hit. It had been hitting the theaters and was discussed everywhere.  Low and behold if we look at the cover design of the re-release of the Twilight series what do we see?

Okanagan-Marketing

Well now look at that. Something familiar about those colours and the overall feel isn’t there? What an odd coincidence…

Make no mistake. This was 100% intentional and from a marketing and sales standpoint, it was brilliant. The brains behind the 2009 publication of Pride & Prejudice knew their market. They knew the consumer zeitgeist. They knew what people were reading and they moved on it.

Does Pride & Prejudice share any similarities with Twilight? Well the lead character is a girl and Mr. Darcy is a bit of a wolf… but otherwise to lump these two into the same category would likely cause Mrs Austen to roll in her grave. Yet the design of the book managed to subtly do just that. The four books published in the Twilight series used three key colours and several basic design elements. This is obvious when comparing the four of them side by side as we do in the image above.

The demographic that Twilight was marketed to had, had their eyes trained – trained to look for this specific colour combination and style, thus any other book with similar traits would automatically grab their eye. What is more, the design team behind the 2009 version of Pride and Prejudice increased its book size to match the size which Twilight was published in. The result was a book that looked, for all intents and purposes, like it belonged to the Twilight series – one that could sit beside them and not look out-of-place.

Customers would be looking through the shelves of books and their eyes would automatically flicker what they knew and recognized. Perhaps some of them even thought this was a fifth edition to the series.

This is the essence and foundation behind branding and that is exactly what went on. Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series was branded with a very obvious aesthetic look. 2009’s Pride and Prejudice printing simply hopped on that band wagon and rode its coattails to success.

Design & Sales.

All too often there appears to be an underlying disrespect for solid design work. Few people – especially in the small business market place – realize the increase in sales that good design will get them. Instead the see the price tag that comes along with it and they balk at it. They cut corners, call in favours, hire rookies or try to do it themselves with all the “free online tools”. The result is shoddy and unprofessional design.

Graphic and Web design needs to be rooted in technical and artistic ability as well and an understanding of what is working in the industry today.

As we see in the example above, knowing the market and understanding design trends play a huge role in design success.

It is simple and it is truth. Good graphic design increases sales. Good design is worth the price. 

Transition-Marketing-Services

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

Branding: Your Prices Must Support Your Image.

Your brand is defined by the quality and price of the services and products you sell.

Your brand is defined by the quality and price of the services and products you sell.

Always remember that your brand is built on the quality of the products and services you sell. Your prices must support your brand image.

If you wish to possess a brand image like Apple or Abercrombie & Fitch then your products/services & brand philosophy need to reflect that. It may require sourcing high-end items and pricing said items in such a way as to project a “top-end”, “elitist” and “luxury” image.

Likewise, if you wish to possess a more middle ground and “common man” brand image like Canadian Tire or Askews Grocers then you may need to make the products/services more accessible.

Now then the image above: $8.99 Wedding Ring sets? Anyone care to wager a guess on this high quality establishment?

If you guessed Walmart, you win the prize!

One The One Side Of The Spectrum.

Disclaimer: I shop at Walmart on occasion for certain items, so the next few sentences should be taken with a grain of salt.

Walmart has to some, become the corporate personification of Red-Neck-America or ‘Murica if you prefer. Cheap, mass produced goods for the lazy jogging pants clad being in all of us. Some websites even sport a “People of Walmart” section that features images of some of the “classiest” individuals found in their stores.

Of course we know that there is more to Walmart then this and not everyone who shops there allows their rear end to hang out of their pants, yet this is a very real part of the image they have garnered.

They have developed a brand image (right or wrong) for delivering goods at one of the cheapest prices available. That is their image and along with it comes the “People of Walmart” image. Where cheap goods are, cheap people go (and yes I am included in that crowd also, although I do not own a pair of jogging pants).

And On The Other Side Of The Spectrum.

Pricing determines a significant portion of your brand image. Are the products at Abercrombie & Fitch truly worth what they are priced at? No. Not at all. The huge markup on those products helps to pay for their expensive models, marketing and advertising, but more than anything, it helps keep their brand image as “Elite”. If not everyone can afford their products, then those who can, are given the opportunity to boast. That is the A&F brand image and their prices support that.

Remember when Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries made the statement that he would rather see his burnt then on the backs of less than attractive people? The interview went viral several years after it actually happened and ignited a firestorm on social media.

Other statements by A&F CEO and his managers include:

  • “Abercrombie and Fitch doesn’t want to create the image that just anybody, poor people, can wear their clothing. Only people of a certain stature are able to purchase and wear the company name.” – Unnamed District Manager
  • “I don’t want our core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing our clothing.” – CEO Mike Jefferies
  • “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong” – CEO Mike Jefferies

While completely arrogant (and a massive faux pas in our estimate) these statements indicate quite clearly what A&F’s brand image is. Elite. They made that obvious and their prices support it.

Pricing & Your Brand.

What do your prices say about your brand image? Do they support what you are trying to build? Why or why not? How do you change that?

Transition-Marketing-Services

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

 

Understanding Successful Advertising.

We continue our look at “advertising for dummies” by taking a look at how quickly careless advertising can backfire.

Argentina VS Brazil… Fails To Perform.

Anyone who follows World Cup Football (Soccer) knows that tensions run high and rivalries are deeply ingrained. These rivalries almost always spill over and out of the arena and are often reflected in the various advertising campaigns.

Past rivalries have seen some very “interesting” ad campaigns between rivals. Consider this little exchange between Argentina and Brazil. The top ad was Argentina’s opening shot, the bottom was Brazil’s response after Argentina “failed to perform” in such a way as to “stick it to” Brazil.

Oops, looks like Brazil had some performance issues.

Oops, looks like Brazil had some performance issues.

France Throws A Few Stones At Ukraine, Forget They Live In A Glass House…

For the upcoming Ukraine VS France Football match French fans were creating various posters of their chicken mascot showing dominance over other teams (in France the Rooster is one of France’s national animals… yes we know the irony and humour in France being represented by a chicken). Needless to say the campaign chucked a few stones towards the Ukraine who responded quite quickly with their own little ad.

The left is one of the French ad’s the right was the Ukraine’s response.

France VS Ukraine... Oh and they are playing a football match also!

France VS Ukraine… Oh and they are playing a football match also!

We have one word: “Owned”.

Consider The Backfire.

When advertising, one needs to always consider the various angles and possibilities of a backfire.

Consider it like this. When a parent is choosing names for their newborn, they often consider the many nicknames that can go along with it. “Ben” for example will 99% of the time result in such nicknames as: “Bendover, Benjamin Franklin, Bent, Bender, Bendy etc” (no none are very original). Guarding against nasty nicknames is a very common thought process for new parents.

Any instance of communication with the public (advertising, PR etc) must ponder things in much the same way. Angles need to be considered, public perception of events and materials need to be understood and the overall message being communicated must be honed appropriately. What could go wrong? What leverage may it provide your rivals?

History is riddled with ad campaigns that have backfired violently, damaging the brand they are meant to build up. This is only amplified by the wide-spread use of Social Media to share and spread the failure.

A campaign can start with good intentions but spiral quickly out of control if not properly researched and planned. Try as we may however, we cannot always plan for every possible outcome. To illustrate this, let’s return back to the metaphor of naming your child. I knew a young man whose parents named him Michael Hawk. Not so bad right? Until you start calling him Mike…. and then say his full name out loud, Mike Hawk. Go ahead and say that (quietly) to yourself.

Not exactly the name you want called out when stepping out onto the field for the first time or during role-call in a small high school. Let’s just say the rest of his first year was very good for “character development”.

The point we are trying to make is that one can only do their very best to plan for every possible outcome of an advertising / marketing campaign. You can only do your very best but YOU MUST DO your very best. Careless advertising can quickly backfire (as we see in the Football ad’s above). Consider your audience, consider what is appropriate and what is taboo, consider your wording and then polish your message.

Then fire away.

Just don’t use a chicken as your mascot.

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

Successful Advertising Explained

Cashing in on one of the biggest successes of 2013.

Cashing in on one of the biggest successes of 2013.

Funny stuff. We came across this on Reddit. We sure do love a funny sign.

That is indeed what it is, a funny sign and we LOVE sharing funny signs. However every once in a while someone asks the question, why?

Why share it? How is this useful? what good is it? Sure they had a sign with their name on it. Sure they put something funny on it. But so what? Did it land a sale?

How is this beneficial to business? Where is the ROI? Isn’t this just a random sign? Is this a part of a larger business plan?

The truth is no it isn’t a part of some larger, elaborate business plan. It is simply a sign that was concocted by a small business owner on the fly to promote their business. There likely was no large meeting, no discussion with Public Relations, no mock-ups, no approvals sent off.

It is simply a chalkboard sign on a sidewalk. Simple. Basic. No strings attached.

Yet it is the simple little gems like this one that best illustrate the big picture behind effective advertising. There are three key elements for effective advertising:

  1. “Content”,
  2. “Relevance”,
  3. “Call to action”.

(Hint: This particular ad encompasses two of three of them). Let’s examine for a moment.

CONTENT:

For an advertisement (or any marketing venture) to be effective it must engage the consumer. It must grab their attention long enough to communicate the bare essentials required to generate a “sales lead”. It must create an interest in the viewer to know more about the product or service. This “Engagement” is the first step to landing a sale. If you can engage (IE interest) the consumer, you are getting them on the proverbial “hook” and working towards reeling them in.

Good “Relevant” “Content” dictates an advertisement’s effectiveness. The better and more relevant the content, the higher the ROI (IE the more leads are generated). When an advertisement is developed there are numerous facets considered in order to determine the best “Content” for the job. Among them one considers:

  1. The target market and the type of consumers that one is trying to attract. This can include age, gender, geography, race, sexual preference, social background and numerous other traits.
  2. The current zeitgeist (spirit) of the target market. In other words, what is relevant in the news, what is new, what is popular, what are the trends. What is resonating with people?
  3. What is presently taboo? What is off-limits? How close can you skirt the edge?

The term “Content is King” is not a new one. In fact is has been the general governing principle behind marketing and advertising for decades. Content will ALWAYS determine your success.

RELEVANCE.

Relevance is directly linked to content. Content relies on being relevant. Non-relevant content will fail. For content (and by extension, the advertisement) to be successful it MUST. BE. RELEVANT. As described above, it must resonate with the consumer. It must connect with them. It must reach out and grab them.

One may find relevance with the target market by:

  1. Tapping into a trend (the image above is an example, tapping into the enormity of Breaking Bad’s success).
  2. By taking sides in a debate (Starbucks made it very clear what side they were on in the ongoing same-sex marriage debates in the U.S.A).
  3. By showing their passion for an interest they share with their consumers.
This small business used their love of Pokemon to engage specific consumers.

This small business used their love of Pokemon to engage specific consumers with the same interest.

Relevant content is key, however one must never try so hard to be relevant that they overstep. The history of marketing and advertising is riddled with embarrassing and “brand-breaking” stories of campaigns that over-stepped. They attempted to connect into a relevant news topic or social opinion and offended the masses or demonstrated ignorance on a topic *Cough-Kenneth-Cole-cough*.

There will be times when relevance is a double-edged sword and one must consider whether there is enough benefit to off set potential consequences. Consider the ongoing feud over same-sex marriage in the U.S. On one side you had Chick-Fil-A taking a hardened stance against it. On the other side you had Starbucks taking a stance FOR it. Both had reasons for their choice and by all accounts they seemed to be highly personal reasons.

From a purely business stance, taking a side one way or the other on a topic as explosive as this was bound to have massive impact on their consumer base. To take a stance on this purely to gain business would be a questionable move. It is a RELEVANT topic, but that does not mean it was profitable to explore. Regardless of their reasons, both won certain target markets and lost certain target markets. The fallout was double-edged.

Note: We are not saying that a business taking a stand for issues like this is always a business decision. Nor are we arguing that business cannot or should not take a moral stance. This example is meant only to argue that two large businesses taking opposite stances on an issue demonstrates the fickle and ambiguous nature of “relevance”.

Relevant Content is the key to your consumers hearts. Win their interest and you may win their sale.

Hows this for a call to action? FREE BACON!

Hows this for a call to action? FREE BACON!

CALL TO ACTION

If we were to fault the “Hey Meatball” sign above for one thing, it could perhaps be the lack of a “Call to action” (not saying we would, just that we COULD). This is the one thing the sign does not directly broadcast.

A Call to action is basically the motivation that a business gives to the consumer to follow through with the sale. A good example of a Call to action may be providing a limited time offer, or a bonus of some sorts for making a purchase immediately.

A Call to action is an excellent way to compounding on good relevant content. Think of it this way, you just grabbed your consumers attention, they have read your advertisement and their interest is piqued. Now, do they walk away with that, or is there a reason for them to immediately act upon what they have seen? If they walk away, there is still chance of a sale, however if there is a Call to action than that sale may happen sooner (and is more likely a sure thing).

A good Call to action for “Hey Meatball” may have been to offer one-time “Breaking Bad Shades” to anyone ordering their special spaghetti that day (that is only a kind of a joke). They could have offered a discount on a meal for anyone citing a Heisenberg quote, or for anyone with a shaved head and goatee (again, only kind of a joke).

Call your customers to action. Provide them with a reason to make a move immediately.

“JUST” A FUNNY SIGN

You see, it is more than just a funny sign. It is an illustration and a lesson. One to remind us to always raise the bar for content (even if it is via the simplest medium).

This funny little sign did not necessarily play into a larger scale marketing plan.  However it generated engagement. It generated Interest. It created a conversation piece for consumers who, as we see, found it interesting enough to share online. It did what it was supposed to do as an ad.

It spread the word and created a conversation centred around the brand. That is the power of “relevant” “content”.

Okanagan-Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.

The Erosion Of Internet Explorer’s Brand

One of many jokes leveled at Internet Explorer.

One of many jokes leveled at Internet Explorer.

Agree or Disagree?

We all know that the Internet Explorer Brand has been suffering lately. It has quickly moved down the line to the bottom choice for online browsers.

There are multiple reasons for this. Some state speed, others the more intuitive tools on other browsers, and other have complained about explorers thousands of cluttering add-ons.

Fact of the matter is that ol’ IE is the brunt of numerous jokes, most rooted in truth.

Internet Explorer (as with numerous divisions of the Microsoft Brand) need to begin reconsidering their brand image from the bottom up.

Agree or Disagree?

Five Social Media Misconceptions

Social-Media-Marketing

Social media policies can be crippling.

1) Social Media Requires Policing And A Policy.

Ok let’s cut through the red tape and the bureaucracy because Social media policies wind up wasting time and stalling out efforts. Attempting to police every single thing published within a single channel is nearly impossible and one stands to lose more trying to get approval to reply, then just replying promptly.

It’s impossible to prepare for every possible scenario on social media. What is more, with social media speed is of the essence. One must respond quickly at every opportunity. If one has to run every reply through a chain of command, or get approval via policy, then they risk losing out. Social media is lightening quick and dialogue on it must reflect that.

The best bet is to put simple guidelines for social media publication in place, rather than a full fledged policy. Make sure that those representing your brand on social media have good judgement and then entrust them to represent you properly.

A few examples of good guidelines are as follows:

  • Use your common sense.
  • Beware of privacy issues.
  • Play nice, and be honest.
  • Allow publications to fun, while still relevant & respectful.
  • Encourage conversation & discourse.
  • Consider asking your representatives to add their initials to posts.
  • Maintain a distinction between posts for your brand and personal posts by your reps.

 2) Social Media Is 100% Free.

Marketing-Content

Image Source: techpost.ug

This can be a common misconception. Yes there is almost never a cost to sign up to a social network however the natural evolution of your social media profiles will require time & resources, which as we know requires “moola moola”. True social media marketing success requires an investment of time. It requires consistent updates and posts, content creation, publication, searching and dialogue with other users.

Do not make the mistake of assuming social media is quick and easy. If you want any real success via these channels, then you need to maintain, update and use them properly. All of these things take time and time requires money.

It doesn’t end there either. Once you have a social media plan in place and the cogs are turning, the next step is marketing analytics. The only way to see if you are truly making any progress on social media is to measure the ROI. This as well, requires time, people and software.

There is no question that social media pays however it must be looked at as an investment and not simply a free ride.

Small-Business-Marketing

Social media is the fishing line and your website is the boat.

3) Social Media Alone Is Enough.

FALSE! False, false, false! Social media is a wonderful tool but it DOES NOT REPLACE other marketing strategies. Social media is simply an additional channel. It complements other parts of your strategy but it cannot stand alone.

If marketing is “fishing for leads”. Then consider social media to be the fishing line. It works great to hook potential customers, but you still need somewhere to reel them in to. A “boat” as it were. You must have a landing page, somewhere for those followers to go to find the information they need. You cannot convert social media followers to potential sales leads without a landing page(s).

Simply put you cannot attract followers in social media without good content. That content must come from somewhere, a blog, a website etc. You cannot convert followers into sales leads without landing pages (blog, website etc.) that provide necessary information and “can’t-refuse” offers.

Long story short: Get a website or other form of landing page (no Facebook does not count).

4. Social Media Cannot Be Measured.Marketing-Analytics

Everything can be measured. In fact one of the founding principles within every successful industry segment is “measurement”. Whether dealing with marketing, production, distribution or other, without measurement there is no way to determine the success of an endeavor and no way to determine whether to continue or not.

Social media is the same. As with every other marketing tool, social media can be measured.

So how do you measure? There are many ways, the first and primary step should be to set a goal and gauge your progress.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Seek to engage existing consumers and gauge the number of successful conversations.
  2. Create an offer only available on social media, then measure how many people attempt to cash it in within your business.
  3. Seek to gain new leads & set a quantity to reach by a specific date.
  4. Seek to increase the reach overall of your content. Measure using software and analytics tools built into that specific social media platform.
  5. Seek to support Customer Service by reducing the need for support calls. Measure how many calls are coming in and then compare as your social media profiles begin to take flight. Monitor to see if the average number of calls per month decrease over time.

Whatever you determine to be your goal, there is a way to measure it and that measurement is crucial.

social-media-followers

500 or 5000 followers. It doesn’t matter if none of them convert into leads.

5) Your Number of Followers Is The Most Important Metric.

A high number of followers can certainly be indication of doing something right. However followers don’t generate income. They are not sales, they do not pay your bills and they will not guarantee your business survival.

Also to be considered, is that every social media platform has a high number of “spam” profiles, essentially dummy profiles that follow you simply to be followed back. There is zero value in these profiles as they cannot be converted to leads.

Instead what you must consider, is what is most important to your business. Generating massive numbers of followers should not be a top priority. Rather you should focus on thoroughly engaging a smaller number of followers in order to transform them into leads and eventually into sales.

Okanagan-Marketing

Transition Marketing Services is a small business marketing firm in the Okanagan. Our passion Small Business Marketing. Educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions.