marketing communications

Successful Advertising Demonstrated

"So hot it'll pop yer corn!"

“So hot it’ll pop yer corn!”

One Thing To Know About Successful Advertising:

Advertising and in fact all Marketing Communications should always demonstrate some aspect of the product.

That is why you see athletes performing in Nike ads, or screenshots of next-gen graphics for Xbone and PS4 ads.

It doesn’t need to be 100% realistic either. Consider the Gatorade ads that show athletes sweating out various colours. No one here at TMS sweats fluorescent purple, yet we can relate and understand what is being communicated. It gets the message across.

Such is also the case with this ad. It is clearly referring to the explosive and heat generating effect of the Tabasco sauce that it is selling.

It is appealing to those who enjoy a good HOT culinary experience. What is more, it is doing so through a humorous and memorable way.

That is the key to a great ad. Communicate the value in your product or service and do so in a fun, engaging or otherwise memorable way. Make it a positive experience.

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Customer Experience: The “NEW” Branding

Branding 2.0

Branding has changed over the past twenty years.

A Brand used to exert far more control over their image than they do now. Their image was dictated by their marketing team and it was presented via one-way communication channels such as Print, Radio and Television. There was no means for the consumer to talk back and no sharing “en-mass” of experiences. The worst a Brand had to fear was negative word-of-mouth referrals amongst their consumer’s family and friends. This of course was minimal and easy to drown out.

This type of “one-way” marketing communications made it easy for brands to position themselves with nothing more than a large budget and a savvy marketing team.

That has all changed. With the advent of the internet, the world became a great deal smaller. This is a truth that has been compounded even further by “Social Media”.

“Social Media has made every customer a “mystery shopper”. It has enabled every last consumer to weigh in on a Brand’s performance.”

Social Media has enabled anyone and everyone to share their thoughts on anything at anytime. Is this a good thing? Perhaps not in all cases, yet it is the truth we live with. Everyone’s hearts are now on their sleeves and now just about anyone across the world can view it.

This is a cold hard fact for Brands.

The Brand Image is no longer dictated solely by slick marketing, it is dictated by customer’s sharing their experiences with the world. Take for example this recent post to social media giant, Reddit:

This UPS employee deserves a raise for the good he has done for their brand.

This UPS employee deserves a raise for the good he has done for their brand.

A customer, or quite possibly no more than the NEIGHBOUR of a customer, witnessed a diligent UPS employee and shared it on Reddit. The post was instantly shared with millions of consumers all around the world.

Congratulations to UPS!  Thanks to this employee and the consumer who noticed it, they got excellent brand recognition and advertising without spending a dime.

Now as a point of comparison, have a look at this short video posted to YouTube. The video shows a FedEx employee casually tossing a package (containing a computer) over a fence. This is a video that went viral only months ago:

Ask yourself, which of these two elite carriers are consumers more likely going to use? Based solely off of these two consumer-shared posts I know who my choice would be.

Of course this isn’t to lambaste FedEx or endorse UPS, but to demonstrate the principles behind the new era of Branding. Simply put Brands must now exercise a new level of responsibility and engagement with customers. Any Brand seeking success in the 21st century must now focus less on shiny advertising and image and more on “Customer Experiences”.

A customer with a mouthful asked for a "Mapkin". This is what the clever employee provided. As a result it got great, positive exposure to 60 million users on a social networking site. Good employees are worth investing in.

A customer with a mouthful asked for a “Mapkin”. This is what the clever employee provided. As a result it got great, positive exposure to 60 million users on a social networking site. Good employees are worth investing in.

Customer Experiences.

Customer Experience (Definition): Is literally any part of the entire experience a consumer (or consumers) has during the process of making a purchase. This includes preemptive researching, sourcing, pricing, purchasing, taking possession of, installing and using, as well as any and all customer service related activities following. This may include warranty, returns, questions or comments.

Twenty or more years ago a customers experience with a brand was shared with only their immediate social circles. Feedback, bad or good, was restricted. These days customer experiences can (and are) immediately shared with hundreds, thousands or even millions of other consumers. For this reason Brands have begun to put more effort into their daily transactions with customers.

There are billions of customer transactions and experiences occurring daily around the world. They take the form of phone calls, emails, discussions with sales associates, deliveries, installations, warranty requests etc. Every instance of participation between you and a consumer, every interaction that your business has with a customer, is a “Customer Experience” and EVERY SINGLE ONE of these interactions could make or break your brand.

We as businesses have no control over which consumers will share what with others. That one negative experience we provide to a consumer could quickly be seen by anyone and everyone. Likewise that incredible effort on the part of your staff, could reach thousands on your behalf. This “unknown” is why EVERY interaction is crucial.

Social Media has made every customer a “mystery shopper“. It has enabled every last consumer to weigh in on a Brand’s performance.

The key point being made here is that EVERY business big or small, needs to invest in improving their day-to-day interactions with consumers.

Improving Brand to Customer Interactions.

As outlined above, there are countless interactions between customers and Brands every day. Whether making an actual purchase or simply looking for product information, it is imperative that every customer experience be as smooth, efficient and positive as possible.

“Always keep this one direction in mind: “How can I make this better for the customer?”

The sheer number of interactions and instances of “Customer Experiences” can be overwhelming. In this excellent post by Dr. Brian Monger. He outlines a far more thorough list of the various interactions that may take place between you and your consumers. To read through it, one can feel quickly discouraged! But take hope. This list provides the impetus for you to BUILD YOUR BRAND!

Instead of getting discouraged, go through the list and pick two or three interactions that you KNOW you have with customers and look at ways to improve them. For example, does your business frequently have to deliver to customers? How can that be improved? Can you offer it for free? Can it be sped up? Is your delivery guy providing them with a smile and a handshake?

The improvements don’t need to always be complicated and it is often the little things that matter most to customers.

Always keep this one direction in mind: “How can I make this better for the customer?”

Getting Social.

Improving customer experiences is a crucial step for the new era of Brand Image because customers are continually sharing their experiences via social media. Since this is the case, it only makes sense for Brands to also be involved on social media channels.

In past posts we have outlined some of the many social media sites available, what they do and how they work. The two primary reasons for a Brand to “get social” are as follows:

1. Engaging Customers: The purpose of social media is quite literally in its name: “SOCIAL media”. Many Brands have yet to truly see that success on Twitter, Facebook or any of the many sites out there, boils down to the ability to connect with customers. Using “one-way advertising” tactics and simply shouting your message without listening or replying to the customer base is a faux pas and it is one of the things killing Brands on social media.

Instead, make your time on social media, all about talking WITH your target market. Share insider info on tips, deals and sales, reply to their comments and start conversations. This builds your brands integrity and gives them reason to participate with you online.

2. Being Available To Listen: If a customer has an issue with your business and decides to share it via social media. How will you know?

There are a couple of different ways. The first is just BEING on social media. There is a good chance that if a customer has an issue with a recent experience and is going to share it online, they will seek out the Brand responsible (Tweet at them, visit their Facebook page etc). It gives them a chance to address it with you, which ideally results in dealing with the situation and improving their opinion of you.

“If a customer has an issue with your business and decides to share it via social media. How will you know?”

On the flip side, positive experiences may also be shared and should be highlighted and shared with your social media followers.

A Brand can also watch for  “mentions”. Platforms like Twitter allow for an extremely easy search of various words and terms. Simply plug-in your brand name, or specific terms that are associated with your business and hit “search” to see what people are saying. There are programs available to allow you to do this with just about any site and they can be customized to fit your business.

Closing.

We chose not to get into the details regarding many of the topics at hand above. The sole purpose behind this post was to educate small businesses on the growing importance of customer experiences. What they are, how they work and why they matter. We value feedback, did something in this post standout? Do you have an opinion, question or criticism? Share it with us and let’s get social!

Okanagan Small Business 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.

One Big Step Towards Great PR

Relief and Support Services Canada member George Rands visits with Kenyan children during a trip to the impoverished Africa country.

Did you know that Transition Marketing Services supports Relief and Support Services Canada? R.S.S.C is a local Okanagan, not-for-profit agency dedicated to providing necessary change to the country of Kenya.

We are not bragging, although we could.

No, we are not sharing this to pat ourselves on the back, but to illustrate a significant means of generating great PR and Brand awareness.

Public Relations.

Public Relations is all about the influencing the public’s perception of a thing.

Public Relations (noun)

  1. The actions of a corporation, store, government, individual,etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc.
  2. The art, technique, or profession of promoting such goodwill.

You see it everywhere. Business publications, celebrity tabloids, political campaigns – everywhere.

Public Relations is literally the public’s perception of a thing (Image source: Pollackblog.com)

Regardless of your business size or style, PR affects you. It controls the way that the public perceives you, your business, your products and your services. Public Relations  is a foundational element to Marketing, Branding, Communications and Advertising. Good PR is a game changer for businesses.

Who you vote for, how you feel about a new production plant being built, whether you take Tom or Katie’s side on the divorce… it is all highly dependent on the PR.  There are many good PR agents out there, communications experts that can turn the most unfortunate of events around on a dime. PR has many sides and can both win consumers and disenchant them – that is where you have to be careful.

PR has changed drastically over the last 50 years. It was once enough to have an articulate, poignant press release explaining the who, what, when, where and why… however, decades of PR abuse has lead to a  jaded and un-trusting public.

Words are no longer enough to garner PR buy-in and it has become about more than just talking, it has become about doing. Brands need to demonstrate that, and they need to back their words with actions.

The fact of the matter is that  “if you want good, lasting PR, focus on action not words” – Miles Gunnar

Good Actions = Good PR.

Good Actions? What type of good actions?

How about backing a charitable organization?

Backing not-for-profits generates positive associations. We have briefly discussed this concept in prior posts and we felt it deserved its own mention. Getting on board with a local charity is one of the single best ways to market your brand and generate good publicity, while improving life around you.

By getting on board with a local goodwill organization, you are DEMONSTRATING brand-care and concern for matters outside company profits. You are showcasing a brand that is concerned about the world and the people in it. In doing so you are effectively humanizing your brand.

Glorious “Humanizing”. The Holy Grail of branding.

Hu·man·ize (verb)

  1. To portray or endow with human characteristics or attributes; make human: humanized the puppets with great skill.
  2. To imbue with humaneness or human kindness; civilize: acts of courtesy that humanize life in a big city.

This builds trust.

It gives you something positive to talk about as a brand and a means to indirectly broadcast your brand through direct engagement on behalf of the charity.

Example: We support RSSC. As such we will commonly communicate and advertise their efforts and mission statement. Already, simply by being the vehicle for these messages, we have attached our name to the efforts of this charitable organization. We are not leeching off of them, nor are we gaudily stating “this message brought to you by” – rather we are simply acting as an agent of goodwill, and consumers perceive this as such.

Avoid Public Relation faux pas’s. It takes one word to destroy years of hard work. (Image source repmanblog.com)

Avoid PR Faux Pas’s.

1. Choose an Organization Wisely.

When choosing a not-for-profit to sponsor, consider what they do and who they are doing it for.

  1. It should be a cause close to your heart, and also to your employees. Personal buy-in means meaningful, genuine communications.
  2. It is helpful if it fits somehow with your industry.
  3. If possible it should be a cause that matters to your target market

Keep in mind that you need to take care when choosing a not-for-profit to sponsor. Choosing the wrong organization can cause bad PR with specific customer groups. You can choose an organization based on the market you are targeting, however care should be taken not to alienate other demographics.

2. Consider Smaller Groups vs “Corporate Charities”.

Not long ago a member of our team was hired on to handle photography for an annual event, which plays host to 100,000+ people each year. The event is a big deal and every year it supports a different charity. On this particular year they supported breast cancer (the event coordinators even went so far as to paint a bull pink for the the national rodeo finals which they were hosting). They raised a large sum of money and contacted the Breast Cancer Society to put together a photo op and to hand over the giant check.

The were quickly deflated when the Breast Cancer people replied, “no we don’t have time, just mail it to us”.

  1. Bigger not-for-profit organizations need less help and are often less grateful. They have so many groups already vying for sponsorship recognition, that they tend to take it for granted. Your efforts will be no more than a drop in the bucket as other, larger brands, clamor for recognition.
  2. By choosing smaller, grass roots organizations you are getting in on the ground level and supporting them “before it was cool”. You will be the first in, spreading NEW news. You won’t be just another “pink ribbon tag-along”.
  3. Smaller organizations are far more appreciative of assistance and sponsorship than their larger cohorts and will react and communicate as such. They are happy to have your help, and they make it known.
  4. There is less restriction on what communications can be issued, and they are far more willing to work with you on promotions and partnerships.

The Type Of Not-For-Profit To Look For:

A fine example of this small grass roots type of organization is the Children at Risk / Recycle For Life effort going on in Salmon Arm, BC. The entire operation is being run by young people (with a little support from their elders).

Children at Risk / Recycle for Life. They support food and education for third world orphans. This is done primarily through a steady and sustainable effort on their part, to collect donations of recyclable cans and bottles. This is another not-for-profit that TMS backs. More on them here or visit their Facebook page here

3. Consider Local VS Global.

There are a multitude of upstanding not-for-profits that you can support, both next door and across the ocean. Their are pro’s and con’s to sponsorship of either, but at the end of the day the choice should be based on what matters to you, your employees and your market.

Besides, no one said you could only support one. Double up and choose a global initiative and a local one.

More Than A Business Decision.

Yes this type of action can generate great PR and yes it is a wise marketing decision for any brand. However we at TMS don’t believe that sponsorship is based solely on what you can get out of it. We back not-for-profits not because of what we can gain, but what we can give. The world is about more than profits and we all would do well to make use of what opportunities are afforded us, to make things better.

Get on board and sponsor a charitable organization. Do it for brand recognition, do it for public relations, but most importantly do it because it is the right thing to do!

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.