public relations

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.

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Building Consumer Trust Through Consistency

Transition Marketing Services

Which is it? Consumers need to be able to trust a brand and it’s products / services.

Trust in business is absolutely crucial, no more so than for small business, where losing just a handful of customers can put you into ruin. To build a reputation of trust, you must be consistent in all aspects.

Consumers need to know what to CONSISTENTLY expect from you and your brand. They need to know that they can trust you and your brand to deliver properly and EVERY TIME. It is almost always the seemingly small inconsistencies that plague the small business owner, ask yourself:

  • Are you faithful in the little things?
  • Do you have a reputation for treating all customers equally well, regardless of purchase?
  • Is your service always good or is it hit and miss?
  • Do they wait until a specific employee is there or does your entire team consistently service them?
  • Can they expect better prices consistently on specific items or is it a waste to even check your store?

The main question to ask yourself is can they trust their hard-earned dollars to your expertise?

Or are they simply wasting their time?

Build customer trust through consistency and you will build an effective brand. Be consistent. Be honest. Treat customers with respect and always do the right thing.

The Little Things – Engaging & Creating Brand Advocates

20130725-100025.jpg

It really is the little things in life.

When you remove the lid from a pudding or yogurt container, what is the first thing you do?

I know the first thing I do is make sure that none of the deliciousness is wasted. I lick the lid clean.

Well, this consumer did that very thing and look what he found! A little message!

He got a chuckle, enjoyed the rest of his treat and then promptly shared the experience with millions online.

Why? Well for one our society is becoming addicted to sharing every little moment in life with everyone, even anonymous strangers, but that is a topic for another day. Let’s just say he shared it because it was a fun & funny experience that added just the smallest bit of colour to his day.

In our last post we discussed “Customer Experiences” and role they play in driving brand recognition and trust. Providing customers with positive experiences drive massive marketing results and can land you huge sales.

This yogurt company just got Massive *FREE* viral advertising from a real life “Brand Advocate” to millions online… all because of a little extra print on a lid. For a few extra cents on the packaging, this company engaged their consumers, provided a fun experience and place their brand in front of millions.

What can we all learn from this? Share your thoughts!

Small Business: 5 More Great Marketing & Promotional Tips

Image Source: 123rf.com

Image Source: 123rf.com

1. Consider Your PR.

PR (Public Relations) is the path to success. Many marketing firms will focus solely on lead generation, gauging their success based on those numbers alone. While lead generation is important, a focus on PR ensures that a business also generates image and brand recognition. As any first year marketing student can tell you, this in itself is a means to generating leads.

PR can take a multitude of forms. One of the most common is the “Press Release” which often takes the form of new product or service announcements. This is a highly budget-minded means of generating strong leads.

“Once, for less than $100, I wrote, printed and distributed a new-product release to 100 trade journals. Within six months, the release had been picked up by 35 magazines and generated 2,500 bingo-card inquiries. -Robert W. Bly (SOURCE)”

Take advantage of press release materials by posting the content in a media or press section of your website (blogs work). Remember to consider SEO and optimize the press releases with key word and phrases to draw in organic search traffic.

Another means of generating good PR, is to back a not-for-profit (charity). Involving oneself with community and charitable events is an excellent means of creating a positive image for a brand. Consider pledging corporate support to local food banks, children’s clubs or other community minded initiatives.

Image Source: humor-kings.com

Image Source: humor-kings.com

2. Don’t Pay Too Much For Outside Talent.

It can pay off very well to hire freelancers and consultants. BUT ONLY if they can get results. Always, ALWAYS check credentials. Do not overpay amateurs.

Take time and research contractor fees. It is the 21st century, the internet exists and there is no excuse to not do the homework. For instance at the time of this writing the best advertising photographers, are making $1,000 a day at minimum. Are they worth it? The short answer is yes…. if the business is a fortune 500 and looking at running in Forbes, for just about anyone else it is like dropping a nuke on a cricket – a classic overkill.

“It is the 21st century, the internet exists and there is no excuse to not do the homework.”

As stated above, it is the 21st century, the digital age and there are numerous photographers that can do a good job for a reasonable price.

The same can be said for designers, content consultants, artists, copy-writers etc.

Look for someone whose expertise matches the specific need and budget at hand. Do not overspend.

Image Source: 123rf.com

Image Source: 123rf.com

3. If Possible (Learn To) Do it yourself.

Many tasks related to marketing, advertising and promoting a business can seem daunting at first. However the business-man on a budget must be willing to tackle them himself.

Distributing press releases, operating social media, updating company profiles or creating newsletters and other paraphernalia almost always be done in-house at a lower expense. Save the outside hiring budget for tasks that require special expertise.

“The business-man on a budget must be willing to tackle certain tasks himself.”

Very few small businesses have the budget to hire a full-time marketing manager. Instead consider contracting out certain marketing essentials (website updates, SEO, branding) to proven firms at a steady rate that you can afford. Then look at hiring a full or even part-time administrative assistant to handle the day-to-day details related to keeping communications flowing.

4. Fully Use All Existing Content.

Whether photos, illustrations, videos, articles, layouts and even onetime promotional copy can be used and then re-used elsewhere to hack back creative marketing costs.

For example: If you have paid for good product photography, use it everywhere possible, product catalogues, website images, monthly report covers, even stationary and email signatures. 

Don’t just toss away anything, If you gave thumbnails, concepts, sketches or layouts that weren’t used for “this project”

Small-Business-Marketing

time, hang on to them and use them with the next project. It will cut back the costs to develop from scratch.

5. Pay The Bills.

If this isn’t obvious, you will ALWAYS save money with vendors whom you have strong relationships with. Keep you vendors happy and they have a reason to protect your account. Not to mention saving the interest on late payments.

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.

How You Benefit From Customer Comments You Were Pretty Sure You Didn’t Want

Recently came across a brilliant article that reiterates everything we have been saying about PR and Customer Service effecting your brand.

How you benefit from customer comments you were pretty sure you didn’t want. – By Bruce2B

Due to a misunderstanding, at the last minute before takeoff an airline refused to allow a pair of special-needs passengers to fly. This upset the passengers deeply and stranded them at an unfamiliar airport.

No one should have been surprised that intense criticism of the airline spread rapidly via social media, portraying them as bad-guys even though the incident was (arguably) a one-time mistake by an isolated group of employees.

This wound up being a good thing, because:

The airline discovered this issue, apologized to the would-be passengers and their families, refunded their money, offered them additional free flights, and came up with a new process to keep the problem from recurring. All-in-all, the airline—our hometown favorite here in Seattle, Alaska Airlines—took a regrettable mistake, and did everything possible (considering it was after the fact) to make it right with those affected. In this way Alaska Airlines also earned positive PR by showing they’re the kind of company that owns up to their mistakes and jumps on an opportunity to do the right thing when they can.

> Read more about the “special needs passengers stranded by Alaska Airlines” incident

> Another great PR turnaround story:  FedEx responds after delivery guy caught on video throwing computer equipment over a fence

MORE HERE:

Attitude: The Unseen Key To Success & Business

That Aspect Of Success That Cannot Be Bought…

In previous posts we have discussed the many different tools and resources available for success in small business: Targetted marketing, branding, SEO, social media, customer service, communications and so forth. Yet one key factor in the success of any business effort is attitude.

Your attitude.

Yes knowledge, skill, effort, talent, connections and background all play a big part, yet the one thing that you have, that your competition does not, is your attitude. If you want to stand out, to set yourself apart and to lead the pack, then you need to have a grasp on how this crucial aspect plays into your business.

Success in business, as with art, athletics, politics and relationships is determined by attitude. Your mentality, your attitude and your passion are of absolute importance. This concept is demonstrated every time the underdog overcomes the favored opposition. It is what drives success despite the odds.

Attitude – Your Attitude.

Maintaining a good, positive, driven attitude, however, can be difficult. Here we will outline 13 key attributes that you can use to straighten out your mindset for success.

13 Attributes Of A Successful Attitude:

1. Passion – Possess It!

Why did you go into business for yourself to begin with? Work does not need to always be a drag and nor should it. Work should be fun and your passion is the key to this. Obstacles, doubts, moments of difficulty, can all be overcome with a passionate attitude.

Passion is infectious. It will persuade and win people to your side. It will draw people to you and therefore to your business.

This is an attribute that cannot be taught. If you are not passionate about what you do, ask yourself why? Keep in mind that difficult times will stress your passion, it will weaken it, and you may call it into question, you may call your entire business into question. During those times – take a break! – and remember all of the reasons why you do what you do, and why you will keep doing it. This break may take an hour, it may take a week, but regaining your passion for your business is crucial.

2. Believe – Have Confidence!

Possibly the most important attribute. You must believe in yourself, in your vision and in your business. People are drawn to confidence, it is a defining characteristic of a good leader. Exude confidence

Do not let doubts in. Squash them early on. Doubts will weaken you, they will cause you to avoid decisions and to eventually make poor ones. They will also push people away.

Believe in yourself.

3. Failure – Laugh At It!

It is a cliche to be sure, but failure truly is an opportunity to learn. The first impulse is to get mad and discouraged. You may even be tempted to give up – don’t. Shrug it off, learn from it and do not let it scare you from trying again.

Learn from it and figure out what went wrong.

  1. If it was in your control, change it for next time.
  2. If it was not within your control determine whether it can be adjusted for next time.

Sometimes situations are nothing more than the result of variables beyond our control. Do not count these as failures, but rather, as the storms you must weather.

4. Moral Compass – Own One!

People can and will always sniff out trustworthiness. Being upstanding and morally respectable will not only draw people to you, it will keep them there. People want to know they can trust you whether for their products, for their services, or for their employment.

Repeat business is based on consumer trust.  People are drawn to trustworthiness, so to are consumers. Give them a reason to follow you, to stay with you and you will do well.

Set an example of trust to other merchants and businesses. Be the example people refer to when they talk about service. Create a brand recognition of trust and remember that it is the little things. Create a brand that other businesses can learn from.

5. Flexibility – Use It!

Times change, plans change, strategies change and so too will your small business. Adjusting to new ideas, new products, new services and new competition is all a part of owning a business. Luckily small business is far more flexible and adaptable then its larger colleagues.

Adjusting is all a part of the equation, and your attitude should reflect that. The key here is to be flexible, yet  no matter how easy the sale, no matter how small the adjustment – never change your morals. Be upstanding and refuse to be anything less, even if it is the easier road.

The moment you bend your morals once, it will be that much easier to do it again.

Do not hold out against new ideas or opportunities. Always be open and give everything a fair chance.

6. Decisions – Make Them!

It is alright to go with that gut feeling once in awhile, (unless you ate a bad taco the night before, then give it a pass).

Planning and forethought are good, yet delay can mean missed opportunities.

Your Attitude Needs To Mean The Ability To Make Decisions

Your attitude needs to include the ability to make decisions

7. Value – You Have It! 

Working a 70 hour work week can actually damage your efforts. You are better to be well rested and making sharp, informed decisions for 40 hours instead. Keep your health in mind, take care of yourself. You are quite literally the brains of the operation and if those brains are drowsy, it is going to affect everything.

No machine, no computer, no app, nothing is more important to your business than you yourself. It should never come down to choosing between family and business, work or play, sleep or espresso (mmm espresso….). Maintaining your health is crucial to your businesses long term success.

8. Your Ego – Shut It Up! 

By spending your profits on toys and gear to impress the world you are setting yourself up for failure. Did you make a good sale this week? Skip the Porsche and set that cash aside. A few bad weeks and you could be handing that Porsche back – along with the keys to your business.

Instead, reinvest a portion into the business and set aside another portion for the unexpected. Having a nest egg set aside for a rainy day, or a great new opportunity is invaluable to long term success.

Transition Marketing - Reinvest Your Profits Into Your Company Not Your Toys!

Don’t be tempted into wasting profits on toys when your business could profit from and investment.

9. Mistakes – Admit & Accept Them! 

Create an environment that allows for the ownership of mistakes. You will make them, your employees will make them, your suppliers will make them and your customers will make them. By acting graciously towards others, they will return the favour to you. As long as humans are involved in anything, mistakes will happen, one is better off learning to deal with it, then stressing out about it.

It is better to encourage your employees to disclose mistakes then to have them attempt to hide them. For one thing, knowing the mistake early on means addressing them quickly.

This gracious spirit needs to be reinforced regularly. Stating it once and putting it in a generic company policy will not make a difference. People need to see it, and experience it.

10. Criticism – Take It! 

One of the most difficult attributes you need is the ability to accept criticism. Anyone with a fragile ego is tempted to get angry or even to lash out. This is the opposite of confidence and will quickly undermine your leadership. It will alienate employees and customers alike.

Learning to take criticism is all a part of growing up. It will reinforce relationships, build trust and heck, you may even learn a thing or two!

11. Strong Work Ethic – Exemplify It!

Show a strong work ethic and others will follow suit. As the head of the business, your example means the world to your employees. If you work hard, they will as well.

If the head creates an example, the body will follow and soon you will be outworking your competition. On the flip side, if you do not put your back into it, do not expect your employees to either.

12. Don’t Look Back – Bounce Back!

You will meet obstacles along the way. Building a business is not an easy task. Push forward, learn from mistakes and do not dwell on them. Until we have reinvented the DeLorian we will remain unable to change the past, so move on.

13. Your Comfort Zone – Get Out!

There will be opportunities that require you to step out of your comfort zone. It is the nature of business to have to change, adjust and evolve and this will require making difficult or uncomfortable decisions.

The key is to do it. Do not let your comfort zone prevent you from implementing necessary or high potential changes to your business. In order to grow, your business will need you to step up.

Take some time out of your day each day to remember what it is you are doing and why

Every business will have a certain level of skill, smarts, talent and background but none will have your attitude. Use this to your advantage! Become the boss you always wanted to have and drive the business you always wanted to be a part of!

Attitude – it’s what will lead you to success.

Transition Marketing Services - Okanagan Small Business Marketing Solutions

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.