ENGAGEMENT

Titanfall: Marketing Like A Boss.

titanfall-marketing

Titanfall Does Marketing Right.

Here have some sweet guerrilla marketing courtesy of Titanfall.

I imagine this is guaranteed to grab attention (which is exactly what marketing should do!).

Apparently this monumental piece was built to replicate the actual size of the mechs in-game, which is also very cool.

Now if only they had a couple of guy parkouring around it…

Titanfall.

Titanfall for those who don’t know, is one of the most highly anticipated releases of this year. It was developed by several of the same minds that worked on the original Call of Duty Modern Warfare series. They parted ways with their previous software company “Infinity Ward” and began anew under Respawn Entertainment.

Published by Electronic Arts as an exclusive for Microsoft, Titanfall has drawn enormous attention from the gaming community. It breaks several current traditions for games of this genre, including keeping play to 6 vs 6, burn cards and of course adding in the ability to “parkour” or free-run around the maps.

From a marketing standpoint the Respawn / EA crew has done just about everything right:

1. They included open-ended Beta trials which engaged the gaming community (2 million players in 1 week!) and increased excitement to a near fever pitch (I know because I played!).

2. They maintained a clear strong presence at all of the big game conferences. This included winning “over 60 awards at its E3 2013 reveal, including a record-breaking six E3 Critics Awards, and Best of Show from several media outlets. (It also won official awards at Gamescom and the Tokyo Game Show)”.

3. They pushed for a strong online presence through web design, advertising and maintaining conversations on various forums.

4. They went hard to the paint on their print advertising, including ads in many mainstream magazines.

5. Then they developed this great guerrilla marketing campaign.

QUICK EDIT: We just came across this addition to their guerrilla marketing: Respawn had Titanfall pilots wandering the streets in the UK

Titanfall

Perhaps the biggest feather in their cap however has been the level of trust that they have developed with the gaming community. There has been a great deal of politics behind the scenes, including the reasons for their departure from Infinity Ward (Activision fired Infinity Ward co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella in March 2010 for “breaches of contract and insubordination”. Their departure resulted in a series of lawsuits and a staff exodus. Later that year, West and Zampella founded a game development company, Respawn Entertainment, with many of the former Infinity Ward staff). Respawn already had a lot of gamer confidence for what they brought to the CoD franchise. Now with the release of their first big game, they have increased trust through their community engagement, their policies and their innovation.

Many have touted the developers as “for the gamers”, innovating and creating the next new style of shooter much in the same way they did with the original Modern Warfare. Many reviewers predict Titanfall to be the next step for the first-person shooter genre. This in stark contrast to many of the current first-person shooters which have been condemned as cliché and churned out copies of previous games.

We're not sure if this ad placement was intentional... but it was hilarious!

We’re not sure if this ad placement was intentional… but it was hilarious!

What can we learn from all of this?

Respawn paid attention to what gamers wanted, they also stayed true to their vision and created the game that THEY wanted. The result has been an innovative new addition to the gaming community, one that very well may affect future games in the genre.

Takeaway 1: “They were innovative.” and “they paid attention to what [their customers] wanted”. They developed a product that would generate excitement and would sell.

Takeaway 2: They marketed hard, but they also marketed smart. They went to where their customers were. Advertising online on key sites, in specific media and magazines and through forums dedicated to their marketplace.

Takeaway 3: They engaged their market. The involved the players in Beta testing (which saw 2 million players!), they created open-ended discussion through online forums and they took part in trade shows that included interviews and one on one dialogue.

Summary.

Yup it looks like an awesome game and the marketing follow suit. That’s about all we have so enjoy some of the fan-made content and quotes regarding the game. This should give you an idea of the fervor that has been generated:

“I used to love BF4. Even with all of its glitches. I just tried to play and I found the game so dang slow. Nothing matches the adrenaline rush from rodeo-ing titans and finishing them off. This kinda blows for me as i am premium, but oh well. Guess ill have to stick to AC4 until Titanfall drops. xoxo gossip gurrrrl”

“It’s just COD with mechs? [Nope] Well, one single word sets it apart. Fun.”

“I’m done with Titanfall!   ….I’ll be back after I grab some food. This game is awesome! I love capping me some flags!”

Oh Titanfall... why can't I quit you?

Oh Titanfall… why can’t I quit you?

Meme created by a Reddit user titled: "going from Titanfall to Battlefield 4"

Meme created by a Reddit user titled: “going from Titanfall to Battlefield 4”

Dubbed the "Call of Duty Killer". Some say the original development team for CoD are the only ones who can end the endless churning of CoD games.

Dubbed the “Call of Duty Killer”. Some say the original development team for CoD are the only ones who can end the endless churning out of CoD games.

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.

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Having Fun & Engaging Customers

Small-Business-Marketing

So impressive!

Incredible chalk art that plays off of the well-known Legend of Zelda games.

“Content is King” and that is exactly what this chalk sign exemplifies.

Such care and thought was put into this board that it will certainly grab attention.

What is more, they have used a hip, pop culture reference that their target consumer base can easily relate to.

The most interesting part about this, however, is that an outside talent was NOT sought to do it. This was the pure artistic talent of one of the regular employees.

Businesses must learn to embrace and nurture the talents of their employees. Find out where their passions are, where their hidden skills are and then permit them to use those to bolster your efforts.

It will build loyalty with your employees and your business will profit from it.

Hootsuite Conversations – Beta Testing

Hootsuite recently introduced the Beta version of its new Conversation tools. The Conversations tool is the newest addition to the already formidable Hootsuite array. A Social Media interaction platform developed by our fellow Canadian Ryan Holmes. Below we share their formal statement and description of the new Conversations software (pulled directly from Hootsuite site):

Hootsuite Conversations:

“New HootSuite Conversations allows teams and organizations to communicate internally without leaving the HootSuite dashboard. Invite anyone to chat within teams or to the entire company, push messages from social networks to conversations within HootSuite and discuss, like, retweet, even broadcast further to members’ own social networks.”

Hootsuite introduces its own messaging system, intended to enable quick communication and sharing between Hootsuite users.

Simplify Communications:

With HootSuite Conversations you can converse with anyone you work with, collaborate with, and share messaging with, easily and intuitively with the in-dash tool. Bring everyone together, get out of your inbox and eliminate time consuming email threads.

*Plus! Enjoy the option to pop out the conversation window so you can stay on top of communications while in other workspaces on your desktop*

The Hootsuite Conversations interface is meant to allow more efficient sharing of current Social Media developments and conversations.

Internal Conversations & External Engagement

Send social messages to internal conversations for teams to discuss and share. Teams can then discuss response strategies, communicate approved messaging and encourage others to broadcast across their own social networks by replying, retweeting, or posting to other social networks.

HootSuite Conversations allows you to add anyone to your conversation – Free.

Collaborate With Everyone

HootSuite Conversations allows you to add anyone to your conversation – free – in order to discuss social messages and receive approved messaging. Communicate with your team, department or entire organization, without leaving the HootSuite dashboard. Adding collaborators is also easy as HootSuite Conversations allows you to import contacts from gmail, and recognizes your colleagues online.

What Transition Marketing Services Has To Say:

Hootsuite Conversations is similar in many aspects to other messenger services in existence, with the exception that it allows direct sharing of conversations, comments, posts etc. to others within your team. The addition of this tool may take some getting used to, but its seamless connectivity with the existing Hootsuite platform is sure to win it some fans.

Hootsuite is a terrific platform. It is easy to use, budget friendly and provides the tools necessary for businesses big or small, to monitor their Social Media efforts. We ourselves use it and, with very few exceptions, recommend it to our clients.

The new Conversations tool is in Beta, which means there will be a few bugs left to iron out, but overall we like what we see.  If you are not already familiar with Hootsuite, we recommend taking it for a whirl. See how it connects with your Social Platforms, monitor the feeds and test posting from it. If you like it, check out the Conversations tool, and let us know what you think!

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.

Three Social Media Marketing Avenues For Small Business

Three Social Marketing Avenues For Small Business.

Small businesses are just that – small, with limited resources. When dealing with small business marketing, branding and advertising one needs to be able to maximize overall exposure and consumer impact, at minimal costs.

Social Media provides the tooling and resources to do just that. Social Media has given businesses an unprecedented means to reach the masses with little or no overhead. However it does require careful focused planning. Do not make the mistake of presuming that it is enough to have a Social Media presence. Leveraging it for marketing and brand value requires more than haphazard attempts.

“The thing about Social Media that frustrates marketers to no end is that you can’t buy attention… ….What you’ll do instead if you’re just four people, [is ask] how can we amaze them? That change in posture, that change in attitude is the single biggest shift, that’s going on the Internet right now” – Seth Godin

In this post we will outline three key ways that small business operators can begin to utilize Social Media to broadcast their business and create brand exposure. To keep things fun, we have broken each tip into three categories (Cold, Medium & Warm) based on the steps to take in relation to expertise and technical marketing know-how.

3 Social Media Marketing Tips

As with all Marketing, success is determined by setting clear goals, implementing processes and then measuring results. It is our recommendation that, prior to establishing any of the below efforts, one determines first what their goals are. Only by knowing fully what is being sought, can one measure their success.

1. Facebook

If you ask 10 different businesses what their feelings are on Facebook, you will likely get 10 different answers. Many small businesses are adopting Facebook – the problem however, is that few understand WHY.

The fact is that Facebook is a low-cost tool, that when used PROPERLY, can engage consumers, promote brands and drive business.

Social Media is just that – SOCIAL and as such the marketing and branding endeavors on it need to be as well. Facebook is a means of SOCIALLY engaging consumers on the behalf of a brand and recent studies indicate it is doing a great job. This study by Mashable, indicated that around 50% of consumers actually value a brand’s Facebook page MORE than their website.

If that isn’t enough reason to look at Facebook seriously, then consider this:

  1. Facebook now has over 300 million registered users.
  2. 87% of people like brands on Facebook.
  3. Of those people, 82% state that Facebook is a good means of interacting with those brands.
  4. Of those people, 35% feel that brands listen to them more on Facebook than on a website.
  5. 75% of people state they feel more connected to a brand via Facebook.
  6. 69% of people have “Liked” a brand because their friend has.

Let us repeat, “SOCIAL media” is just that – SOCIAL! and as you can see from these recent statistics, Facebook offers brands a large-scale opportunity to engage customers, both current and potential.

Put another way: “Business Success” requires “Branding” which requires “Engagement” which is made possible by “Social Media”.

Cold: Sign up to Facebook and secure a Facebook Page name for your business or brand. Note that you want to create a “Business Page” and not a “User Profile” for your business. Operating a brand or business persona under a personal profile breaches Facebooks Terms and that is a very poor way to start showcasing your brand

Have a look at other brands, including competitors and see what they are doing. Have a look at how many “Likes” they have and view their posts to see how they are engaging customers. For more on Facebook Pages, primarily setting up your profile for success, visit our previous posts:

  1. Facebook Finesse Part 1 – Profile Cover Images
  2. Facebook Finesse Part 1 – Tweaking The Little Things

Medium: Succeeding on any Social Media platform is all about socializing and engaging your audience. Post articles that they are interested in, try to include images whenever possible and provide a reason for your targets to tune in.

  • Posts must be relevant to your business, brand and industry.
  • They should be developed with the specific’s of your target audience in mind.

Warm: When posting as your business page, you are representing your brand as a whole. An understanding of branding, brand philosophy, brand promise and brand image is crucial to achieving long-term and expanded Social Marketing success. Posts need to be specifically built to represent the overall brand image of the business, but also engaging for the specific body of customers that are being targeted.

Side Note: You may also look at the Facebook Ad’s option. It is a paid service and allows you to custom tailor advertising to be displayed only to specific targets based on the information plugged into their individual profiles.

2. Twitter

This is one of our personal favorites. It is quick paced, thanks in part to the 140 character limit on posts (tweets), and provides incredible opportunity for exposure. As of July of this year there are 500 million registered profiles with 180 million active users.

Twitter allows brands to freely communicate, either en mass or directly to other twitter users across the globe. The simple “hashtag” (#) system allows one to easily find other industry relevant users and content. It also enables a brand to build in specific search terms related to posts. This in turn adds to a brands ability to promote its association with specific services or ideas.

For a more few selling points on Twitter visit our previous posts:

Cold: We recommend signing up for Twitter asap and establishing a twitter account for your brand or business. Begin dabbling and take a look at the “Discover” tab to get an idea of how hashtags work and how best to connect with users pertaining to your business.

When signing on for a profile, Twitter will prompt you to find five users to follow, based on your interests and background. It then prompts you to find five more. This will give you a good idea as to where to start.

Spend some time searching different terms and users. Familiarize yourself with the type of content and the types of communications being shared. Search various terms related to your industry. Have a look, see who is already out there. Search out potential competitors and do some research. Simply put, wade into the water and get comfortable.

Medium: Once you are comfortable with the tools and how to use them, begin tweeting. Tweets are 140 character posts on Twitter. Keep your tweets relevant to your brand and industry, but ensure they are creative and engaging. You want to position your brand as accessible to the consumer audience, but also as leader on specific subjects or within a specific industry.

Begin connecting with other users. Using the “Discover” tools, find other users, whether brands or individuals, that make sense to connect with. These connections are an excellent way to spread your communications, generate increased exposure and grow your online presence. They are also a good source of other industry related information that you and your brand may profit from.

Warm: Maximizing your presence on Twitter will require more advanced tools. You will need to familiarize yourself with desktop and mobile Twitter clients like TweetDeck, Hootsuite and Twitterfall. These programs provide increased flexibility and control over your overall Twitter strategy.

  • They enable pre-defined searches – crucial for monitoring specific keywords and names, including your own.
  • They allow pre-scheduling of tweets, which in turn allows your brand to maintain a more consistent presence with far less labour.
  • They equip users to better monitor trends, and communications.
  • They also allow for more accurate measurement of “impressions” – or users touched by your tweets.

Another useful tool to explore will be Twitters “Lists” resource. Creating “Lists” or groupings of users based on specific will help you to keep tabs on topics and subjects, without the hassle of weeding through thousands of followers.

The primary concern for any and all Social Media Marketing is maintaining consistency to the brand image and promise. As an individual moving forward with a Social Brand development – this is key and must be kept in mind at all times.

Image source: smashingmagazine.com

3. Blogging

Despite the ever-changing and advancing world of Social Media, Blogging continue to be play a strong role in brand and business marketing.

1. Blogging is a great way to supply consumers with information, services and resources all centered around your brand.

2. The content and linking can contribute greatly to increased SEO to your website.

3. Hosting a blog on industry related topics positions your brand as a leader.

Cold: Begin hosting a blog under your brand or business name. Several sites provide blog hosting for free including WordPress, Blogger and Blogsome. This sites will also allow you to convert your blog into a full website URL should you choose at a later date to do so.

Many of these sites offer easy to use, step by step instructions to establish a basic blog profile and it should not be too difficult to set up on your own.

Alternatives like Posterous and Tumblr also exist, although may not be the ideal choice for a beginner business related blog.

Our preference has been WordPress, however we also host a profile on Tumblr. At the end of the day each business is best off doing their own homework and determining which profile makes the most sense for them. Remember that hosting on multiple sites quickly diminishes time and resources.

Medium: Many web providers will allow you to transfer the blog hosting right to your own website. In the case of WordPress you can easily transfer it over to your website, thus increasing control over the content and aesthetics.

Stale Blogs are bad.

As you begin to work with the blog, you will want to maintain fresh content and posts. It is wise to post new articles once a week or more. Articles must pertain to your brand or business – remember that they are intended to position you as a leader in your industry. Keep it fresh and keep it relevant.

For more on developing engaging blog content, visit our article on “Blogging Tips”

Familiarize yourself with “tags” and how to use them. These tags will assist consumers in finding you and your blog. Sites like WordPress allow you to punch in desired “tags” and terms before publishing the article. Make use of them.

Warm: You have established a blog and begun maintaining it. Time to up the ante. To increase exposure and develop and audience, one needs to focus on CONTENT. Determine what your blog is intended to do. If it is to position you as a leader on all things “Interior Design”, then create content related to that field. Whatever your brand or business represents, that should be the driving force in your blog content.

Reading other people’s blogs, commenting on them and just generally establishing a presence is also a good way to lead people back to your blog. Get out and explore the Blog-o-sphere and make yourself known.

Make sure you enable your audience to share your content. Include Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest and all manner of other “share” buttons, to allow your audience to immediately share your content with their colleagues. WordPress and just about every other blogging site has plugins available that can be automatically shown on each of your posts – make sure to equip them.

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.

From Brand To “Being” – Humanizing A Brand

Humanizing A Brand.

It is a common problem. All brands face it, although many of the larger brands, and those that have been in existence, longer seem to struggle with it the most.

Establishing humanity within a brand image – also known as “humanizing” a brand.

Humanizing is literally defined as:

hu·man·ize  [hyoo-muh-nahyz or, often, yoo-]

tr.v. hu·man·izedhu·man·iz·inghu·man·iz·es 

1. To portray or endow with human characteristics or attributes; make human.

Humanizing your brand

Image Source: Socialfish.org

The concept here is to create within the customer, an acknowledgment or association of a Brand with relate-able, human, ground level understanding. Essentially it is a matter of making certain the customer can relate to and trust a brand.

Humanizing is considered an essential part of modern day branding success. Examples of it abound in businesses like Coca-Cola, Apple, Transition Marketing 🙂 , Nike and Google.

There are many different avenues a business can take, whether in initial branding or re-branding campaigns. The key is to position (or re-position) your brand as one that is for the people, one that is engaging and REAL, one that wants to know its customers. One that is more than just a cold-corporate automaton.

Having Fun Is Human.

One sure fire method of creating human emotion, reaction and association with a brand, is to have fun.

Seriously.

Have fun and make sure your customers have fun (Gamify anyone?)

The more a brand can portray itself as fun, carefree, and humorous even, the more relate-able it becomes. This does not mean supplying the plant floor with Super-soakers (although an argument could be made for it’s YouTube worthiness), but it may mean rethinking everything that has been done to date.

Humanizing a brand, like any branding campaign, is about more than image. It needs to be rooted deep within the core of the company.

Where Is More Profit To Be Had?

It may mean letting go of certain preconceptions. For instance, is their greater overall brand and business profit in running your Customer Service Team lean and reducing head count, or could an argument be made for hiring that extra person to create a more relaxed environment where your CSR reps can dialogue with customers and promote brand integrity?

My years working with the Customer Service team for a leading Western Canadian Brand taught me that, by creating relationships with your regular customers through more relaxed communications, a brand can soar above it’s competition. When your CSR team has the time and motivation to get to know your customers by name, and when they can take a few minutes during a phone call to talk about non-business topics, they are developing your brands humanity – they are humanizing your brand.

Focused hiring, training and leadership are required for this. It is shameful when a brand contracts out their service department to the lowest bidder, or hires employees with the wrong caliper and skill set. Doing this ensures their brand will suffer.

Have Fun Or Else!

It is important to note that “fun” cannot be enforced. Too often we see Human Resources, Managers and Leadership attempting to force smiles and relaxation through faulty training exercises, well intended (poorly executed) mixers and events, or mis-directed communications (office space hawaiian shirt day anyone?)

There are a number of reasons that these “enforcement’s” fail:

  1. The training may be (or may be seen as) another “flash in the pan” from corporate. Often these training modules are mandatory programs, which get zero buy-in from employees. They often lack realistic application to brand specific scenarios and seldom last more than a few months. The more modules you go through, the more jaded your employees will be.
  2. Mixers and Events are typically well intended. However employees do not want to attend after-work functions if there is not already a relationship with their colleagues. Similarly after work functions, where spouses etc. are not invited, or the employee is even remotely financially responsible,  is seen as an intrusion.

Humanizing is a delicate procedure. Creating a fun “human” spirit within a brand begins within the bedrock of the business. As with all aspects of a brand campaign, it must be rooted in every aspect of the business. Consistency is crucial.

Humanized Brand Success Stories.

We will wrap up with a handful of “humanized” brand examples.

1. Google:

Google continues to dominate many key markets. Their brand has become so well known that they can get away with “altering” their logo at will.

Google employs top notch minds to develop and innovate, they have the leading search engine algorithm and have generated a great deal of talk with their “super-empire” and more recently their consolidated privacy policy.

Yet at the base of this behemoth business, there is a spirit of fun. While not all of tech savvy, in-the-know types would agree with Google and all of their practices, the basic consumer is easily sold when greeted with a sense of camaraderie and of fun by many of Googles tools.

A Handful Of Google Easter Eggs:

Get your Google page to speak “Pirate”, “Swedish Chef”, “Hacker” and many more.

Try searching Google Maps for directions to “Mordor” under the “Walking Category”.

Try plugging in “Find Chuck Norris” using the “I’m Feeling Lucky” option.

More Easter Eggs Available Here:

Many of these Easter eggs are mainstream now, widely shared on social media platforms and amongst friends. It is this type of “inside joke” and the subsequent dialogue it creates, that has positioned Google, one of the largest brands in existence, as buddy-buddy with so many people.

2. Apple:

Apple has succeeded beyond all other brands before them, due to their acknowledgement of what truly matters to consumers. They have built a brand that is associated with care, quality and fun and they have gained their customers trust by standing by their products and being about more than just the bottom dollar.

A large part of this success can be summed up by one of there credo’s “We are at our best when we deliver enriching experiences”. 

Apple is (or projects a brand image of) being about people, about service and about products that go beyond the standard.

“Their Customer Service department excels thanks to careful interviewing, training, and a willingness to hire relate-able people. Mohawks, tattoos, piercings are all acceptable among Apple Store employees. Apple hires people who reflect the diversity of their customers”. – Taken From 14 Things Brands Can Learn From Apple

Apple’s success in humanizing their brand through light-hearted marketing is exemplified nicely in the Apple VS. PC Guy, ad campaign:

The campaign challenges you to decide for yourself, who you would rather hang out – who belongs by your side and in your social group? who is most relate-able?

3. Nike:

Nike has recently been seeing a lot of spotlight with their social engagement campaigns. They have been very successful in their efforts to reach out to consumers. Here are just a few examples:

The “Extra Day to #makeitcount” Campaign.

Nike launched the campaign in conjunction with the leap year. Based around a live 24 hour countdown broadcast on in-store screens and XTP screens through-out the London tubes. For 24 hours on February 29th they encouraged consumers to tweet about the extra day and how they were going to #makeitcount.

She Runs The Night -> She Runs…

Nike engaged its female audience with the she runs the night campaign, a 13km event that took place in Sydney’s Centennial Park on May 3rd. The race took place at the Royal Hall of Industries in the Entertainment Quarter. The course was fully lit underneath a halo of light.

Nike took that one step further hosting a Facebook page specifically for its female running market. The page, “Nike She Runs” is dedicated to creating a dialogue and engaging this very specific market.

4. Coca-Cola:

Coke is one of the all time best branding success stories. They hit some waves in the early 80’s but regained their stride and have since been batting them out of the park with their Social Media and engagement efforts.

Take for instance the Coca-Cola hug machine. Simply put, you hug it and it reciprocates with a free Coke.  Check out the video:

In a similar move there was also the Coca-Cola Happiness Machine, which dispensed multiple bottles to several surprised college students who then shared the Coke products with their friends.

Coke has also been involved in all manner of guerrilla street advertising, with non-traditional bill boards and signage geared at grabbing the eye.

Of course there is the whole Coca-Cola “My Coke Rewards” campaign as well. Purchasing their products gives you points that can be used to redeem online coupons and perks. Imagine the number of customers at any given moment clicking through to a brand controlled webpage. The customer gets their perks, and Coke gets their attention.

Humanization and Social Engagement are the key to brand success in the new millennium. These are achieved through creative,  fun content and reaching out to the consumer base. It is not enough to advertise it though, Branding, and the Humanizing of a brand must take root in every aspect of your business model. Your employees must take an active role in it, if it is to succeed.

Ben Erickson is the Specialized Services Manager with Transition Marketing Services Contact us anytime for questions, conversation or for a free consultation.

The Delicate Art Of Engaging Customers

Branding is all powerful, in an ever changing world the ability to brand is hinging more and more on the ability to engage customers. Social Media is one primary means of doing this, but what do you do when a customer engages you with tough questions or questionable attitude?

FIRST: The Foreshadowing.

My wife and I had a wonderful Mother’s Day Sunday this past weekend. I muddled through making her breakfast, we attempted a hike up Rose Swanson Mountain here in Armstrong and more or less enjoyed the bright Okanagan sunshine. Nearing the end of the day we were feeling relaxed and more than a little lethargic. The thing with Armstrong is that it is tiny and tiny towns often lack many of the amenities of big cities – including family restaurants open past five o’clock. There are a few nice pubs, but they frown on bringing in an 18 month old so we decided we would simply order some take-out and eat on the patio at home. We placed our order at the local pub and then went to the park to chill until it was ready. I ordered the biggest sloppiest burger available, while my wife settled on the Greek Wrap (carefully described in the menu as being loaded with Greek vegetables). When we got our food home, we discovered that, aside from the normal tomato, lettuce and black olives, the “Greek” wrap was made up of shredded carrots, radishes and purple cabbage. We are not culinary snobs by any stretch, but we were a little dumbfounded by their definition of “Greek” Vegetables. A quick search of vegetable origins found the following information:

  • Radishes – Originate in China.
  • Carrots – Originate in Afhganistan (along with Parsnips).
  • Cabbage – Originate in either Sweden & Poland (or both).

Now yes, I get that the Greeks we a singular golden culture, and that their empire did indeed stretch across europe under the reign of Alexander the Great. I was not, however, aware that carrots and radishes were considered “Greek”. I laughed a little as I thought of a couple of quips I could post to their Facebook page (if they had a Facebook page). That lead me to think about how they might respond, which in turn lead me to think about how I would respond if I were them. One thing lead to another and now we have this blog.

Second: The Crux – Customer Engagement

Actual customer engagement tests your brand promises.

Customer Service, for many businesses, is the front line for brand image. It is where Brand promises are put to the test and in many cases it is the first “real” engagement that customers are going to have with any business brand. This can be where many large businesses lose out, but where small business can excel. The larger the company, the more people represent it and the more difficult it can be to maintain a consistent Brand message. Disconnects can occur between employees of the same department (IE Customer Service Reps answering differently to the same question) They can also occur between departments (IE Sales making promised that After Sales cannot deliver on). Larger companies tend to source out their service departments. As such there is less of a personal stake in the response and care offered. The service reps are often underpaid, understaffed, under trained and under the gun to respond according to pre-scripted operating procedures. Lack of knowledge and lack of flexibility in your service department is a big problem. Answers need to be quick, thorough and above all RELEVANT. When I call in I do not want to hold for twenty minutes listening to commercials promoting your outstanding service – that makes me bitter and sarcastic. I do not want to speak to a rep who knows less about the product than I do and I want to be able to understand what the rep is saying. Lastly I do not need a blanket response, or corporate run-around… I want an answer to my problem, my SPECIFIC problem. If you want to build a strong brand, build a strong service department. This is where small business has some advantages – there is a personal stake and a more direct line with the people to whom the business (and customers) matter. It is more consistent and more urgent. I call to a local small business and I am likely to get a response from someone who believes I matter. I am not just a drop in the bucket for those who can count their clients on their hands, and often know them by name. Engage me and I will be a customer for life. I still send my business to the little guys for that reason. I have relationships with these people, with their businesses – relationships built on previous service, honesty and faith, relationships that surpass the bottom dollar. Engaged customers are willing to overlook the occasional blunder or hiccup. They are willing to work WITH you and once engaged they will follow your brand the distance – and that is what branding is all about.

Third: Customer Engagement 2.0

Social Media acts as a magnifying glass for this engagement. For many customers it is easier to post to Facebook or Twitter then to call in. It is also quicker than the traditional means of email or snail mail, which means more emotion is included in the message and less time can be taken in structuring a response. Let’s go back to the story of the Greek wrap that wasn’t Greek. Hypothetically, let’s say that I posted to their Facebook page “Hey _____ Pub, I ordered a Greek wrap, not a Inter-European/Asian wrap – Carrots & Radishes are not Greek!” How would you respond? How would you expect a business to respond? Am I kidding around with this statement?, am I being belligerent?, am I being a troll? and how can you be sure? How do you engage the customer in a situation like this? Do it wrong and it will cost you. Do it correctly and it will promote you. Social Media requires fun, amiable, personable, creative, quick and professional direction. Those representing your business need to love people and dance on coals. The term “Social Media Ninja” is about as cliche as “Social Media Guru”, but Ninja fits the bill – keep watch, be quick, adapt and engage. Social Media is not just for big business, many small businesses are beginning to utilize it and the I’ll leave you with this nifty example of someone trolling Taco Bell, and Taco Bell’s subsequent response.

How you engage customer via Social Media Channels can drastically impact your brand.

Notice that they engaged not only the sender, but their entire audience, by not only going along with the joke, but coming out on top. They even utilized hash tags to further both the joke and their commanding statement. In this case context was made evident by the name of the sender (Men’s Humor) and the hashtag. It is not always so clear, and misinterpreting it can be costly. But, as this example shows, doing it right can have amazing results.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services Contact us for a free consultation.