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3 Simple Pieces of Advice to Save Marketers Loads of Time

The holidays are upon us and 2014 is coming to a close.  This time of year tends to bring out the best in marketers…and also the worst.  This is especially true when it comes to retailers.  We all know a lot of money is spent this time of year and for many it will make or break their 2014 success.  While I consider myself a marketing professional, I am also a student of the game. I’m always observing and learning from others to make notes of what I like and don’t like.

This year, as I was reading blogs, emails and social media posts I couldn’t help but think of 3 simple pieces of advice or rules of business that I think a lot of marketers forget.  Those that slip up often end up losing or offending customers while those that stick to these values even when things get chaotic will always come out on top in the long run.  As simple as these pieces of advice may seem, sometimes they make all the difference in the world.  Let me explain…

1. Just be honest (and don’t fake it).
I have to say, I saw a lot of retailers faking “deals” this Black Friday.  I know it’s a huge shopping day, but consider this for a minute.  Nearly everyone will receive dozens of emails with big time deals.  On this day in particular, people are looking to save a lot of money.  Sending out an email about Free Shipping and calling it a Black Friday “deal” just doesn’t cut it and certainly won’t break through the clutter.  Worse, it could offend your customers.

I know it can be tempting for retailers and many feel obligated to offer a Black Friday deal, but if you don’t have one, you don’t have one.  If you aren’t able to offer a competitive discount on that particular day because it doesn’t make sense for your business, why not send out an email the following week with a message that’s honestly the best deal you can offer and not disguised as something else.  I promise your customers will appreciate it more.

2. Tell a great story.
At Focal Point, we are all about storytelling.  This could be through video, social media or email.  A great story is what engages people with your brand.  And once they’re engaged the selling comes naturally.  This time of year, I can’t help but think of this John Lewis TV advertisement because it’s all about the story and people love it.  Give it a watch below!

3. Connect with PEOPLE.
One of the best ways to connect with people is to have other people tell your story for you.  This is why customer testimonials are so powerful for every business.  As the holidays approach, a lot of packages are going to be shipped and I can’t help but think of this FedEx #ShippingSpree video where FedEx enabled customers to tell their story by connecting with people through real life examples of things they would ship to that special someone.  In video below, Mike talks about his sister who is a cancer survivor and describes each item he’s shipping as he puts in the box.  Check it out here…

Great Marketers Don’t Take Shortcuts
I guess what I am trying to say here is that there are no shortcuts to great marketing campaigns.  All too often I see people asking questions such like: How do I get to the first page in Google?  How do I make my video go viral?  How do I get 50,000 Facebook likes?

The best place to start?  Follow the 3 pieces of advice above.  The results will come.

Need help telling your story?  Contact me now so I can help.

Educating Your Prospects for FREE Makes Them Better PAYING Customers

Everybody wants somethings for free, but businesses need to make money to, well, stay in business.  So what if I told you that giving away free information to your prospects actually results in better paying customers?  Would you believe it?  In fact, as a business, giving away free information might be one of your best content marketing strategies.  Let me explain…

Your Customers Want To Feel Empowered.

They’re reading online reviews, watching how-to videos and listening to podcasts.  And they’re spending more time doing these things prior to purchase than ever before.  A large part of your marketing strategy when it comes to content development should be putting a plan in place to educate your customers by providing them with free information.  The reason why is simple – if your prospects/customers don’t find you when doing this type of research, they’re going to find “someone else.”  That “someone else” is going to be your competition.  Let’s jump right into a couple of case studies to show you what I mean.

Case Study: Lowe’s Fix In Six

One of my favorite examples of a business that does a great job of educating its prospects and turning them into customers is Lowe’s.  Just take a look at this Vine video…

Pretty cool, huh?  Who knew that real mayo could help remove wood stains?  Side note – I haven’t actually tested this yet, but I am taking Lowe’s word for it.  Now that’s some pretty useful information.  Information that doesn’t really directly make Lowe’s any money (last time I checked they didn’t sell mayo at Lowe’s), but indirectly goes a long way at establishing them as the authority in home improvement projects.  While it’s just 6 secs in length, I am willing to bet a few hours (if not more) went into planning and shooting just this one video.  This type of video marketing is clever and resonates well with customers.  It’s no secret that people don’t like being sold to.  But what they do like are helpful solutions like an easy way to remove water stains from wood and they’ll remember the company that published this info.  Not only will they remember it, but they will share it with others.  Furthermore, the types of people searching for and watching videos like this one are….BINGO….you guessed it….people who like to do home improvement projects AKA Lowe’s target market!

Case Study: Pampers

Let’s completely shift gears from home improvement to baby care.  Pampers has a content marketing strategy that includes producing videos which showcase quick and easy baby tips.  These short videos cover basic topics that new parents are sure to be searching for such as tips for traveling with a baby or how to get your baby into a sleep routine.  While Pampers products are shown during the videos, there is not a hard sell. Again, it’s about being the brand that puts the information out there that your customers want and need – especially during a time when they might be establishing brand loyalty for a necessary item like diapers.  Take a look…

Develop A Content Marketing Plan To Put This Into Action

Now, it’s time to put these tips into action and develop a content marketing strategy that will help move your business forward.  Here’s how to get started…

  1. Log into Google Analytics or whatever analytics platform you use.
  2. Drill down to the report showing the keywords driving organic traffic (in Google Analytics it’s under Acquisition->Keywords->Organic).
  3. Use the search feature within that report to find keyword phrases using words such as “how,” “what,” “why,” etc.
  4. Write down the top 5 keyword phrases within each of these searches.

So, what happens next?  First you must realize that in just those few minutes you have uncovered the golden nuggets of your business. These are the questions or problems that people finding your site are trying to answer/solve.  If you can help prospects easily find the answers and possibly even expand upon each one with other variations then you are establishing trust.  And once you’ve earned their trust, it’s far easier to earn their business.

How do you go about answering these questions?  Contact us and we will help you develop a content marketing strategy to do just that!

3 Simple, But Overlooked Ingredients for Marketing Campaign Success

Marketing-IngredientsThere’s less than 2 months left in the year and all of us want to close out 2014 strong.  It’s times like these when marketers and business owners tend to just go, go, go.   But, when it comes to marketing strategies these busy times can cause us to lose focus and over complicate things as a result.  With so many websites, so many ways to communicate, and so many things you want to do, now is the time to think about how to simplify your marketing success.  Let me tell you how.

I believe all successful marketing campaigns have 3 simple ingredients.  While these ingredients are very simple, they are often overlooked.  I see it happen time and time again.  Missing one of these ingredients is like trying to make a loaf of bread without flour.  It just doesn’t turn out well.

Let’s think about it for a minute – every time a customer or prospect takes the action you want it’s because 3 things happened.  3 very simple ingredients came together just right.

Ingredient #1 – Right Message.  You sent your customer or prospect exactly the right message to capture their attention.

Ingredient #2 – Right Time.  They received your message at the perfect time.

Ingredient #3 – Right Device/Medium.  You reached them using the right method of communication.

Take a look at this short video to see these 3 ingredients come together perfectly…

Example #1: Meat Pack Shoe Store – Hijack

Watch this video from the Meat Pack shoe store in Guatemala to see these 3 things come together perfectly…

Think about this video for just a minute.  Why was this “Hijack” campaign effective?  The answer is easy.  The potential customer was offered a significant discount (right message) while they were in a competitor’s store, likely close to a purchase decision (right time) on their smartphone (right device).  At that point, converting on this campaign for anyone who was targeted was super easy (and even fun) to do.

Example #2: WestJet – Christmas Miracle

Another example of an incredible marketing campaign coming together is shown in this WestJet Christmas Miracle video, take a look…

Sure, this WestJet example involved plenty of planning, but when you think about it the concept was simple.  We’re going to give awesome personalized gifts/go above and beyond (right message) while people are traveling for the holidays (right time) and do so in person (right device).

What Do These 2 Examples Have In Common?

Not only do Meat Pack and WestJet nail all of the 3 must-have marketing ingredients, but they create a truly unforgettable customer experience.  The type of experience that captures attention and the type of experience that customers WILL tell others about.

So, now it’s your turn…

Before you move on with any type of strategic planning on your next online marketing campaign, be sure you’ve got the 3 must-have ingredients right.

1. Right Message – What is the message you want to send to your customers or potential customers?  Maybe it’s an educational message to help them better understand how a product or service works.  Maybe it’s a special discount on Black Friday to help drive some immediate sales.  Whatever your message ends up being, make sure it’s incredibly clear.  Too often we get caught up in all of the other things that come along with an online marketing campaign and lose sight of what our actual message should be.  Don’t be the person sitting there asking yourself again, “what was it we actually wanted our visitors to do?”

2. Right Time – Timing is everything when it comes to planning an effective marketing strategy  Does it make sense to send your message immediately before or after some type of business transaction?  After that, how long is too long?  Getting your timing right can be the difference between a 5% response rate and a 15% response rate.  Look at data, ask your audience ahead of time and test it until you get it right.

3. Right Device – In the marketing industry, especially in today’s world we say “device,” but really it’s any method of communication.  In one instance, sending a text to someone’s smartphone immediately after a purchase offering $10 off the next purchase in exchange for feedback about their experience might be just the right device.  In another instance, sending a hand written follow-up note at the end of the year to your customer along with some holiday goodies might be exactly the right “device.”  I guess what I am saying is that just because we have all of these technological advances and new “devices’ available, doesn’t mean we should lose sight of some of the “old school” ways to communicate.  A hand written note or even a face-to-face transaction can be just the right “device.”

Need Help?

At Focal Point, we make sure our customers get the 3 ingredients to marketing success right, every time.  If you’d like some help with your next online marketing campaign or need some assistance when it comes to strategic planning, please get in touch with us today.  We can help you create that customer experience you’ve been wanting to deliver.

2 Key Things Starbucks Absolutely Nails In This Video Marketing Campaign

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy analyzing what the big brands are doing when it comes to marketing campaigns.  A recent online video marketing campaign that caught my attention for the Starbucks global branding campaign – Meet Me At Starbucks.  This is essentially a high quality, HD video production that was shot in 28 countries in a single day.  While it’s one continuous video that’s about 6 minutes in length, it’s broken down into several mini vignettes each telling it’s own story.  There are 2 important reminders in this video  First, take a look at this 1 min video recap (you can watch the full video here) before I share my thoughts…

1. It’s not about you, it’s about your customers.

“It’s never been just about the coffee.” This line really encapsulates the entire Meet Me At Starbucks online marketing strategy of putting the customer first.  One thing you will notice when watching the video is that while most of the scenes take place at a Starbucks, the product placement of Starbucks’ drinks is actually very subtle.  And while it’s very subtle at the same time it’s incredibly effective.

You see, this online video marketing campaign demonstrates to me that Starbucks “gets it.”  Sure, the coffee is good, but even more important is the customer experience.  For the most part, people don’t meet people at Starbucks to drink coffee.  People meet people at Starbucks to do business, share stories, and build relationships.  Drinking Starbucks coffee is just something that happens as a part of that experience, but it’s never been just about that.

By creating an extraordinary customer experience, Starbucks has been able to position itself in a way to where they don’t always have to “sell” their coffee.  The customers and their experiences have become a big part of the Starbucks brand.  So much so that this entire campaign focuses primarily on the customers, yet will likely still help them sell more coffee than if it were the other way around (focusing on the coffee).

2. No technology can ever replace face to face communication.

“Good things happen when we get together.”  This line really hits the nail on the head if you ask me.   I have been a marketer for a long time.  I have seen a lot of changes in technology over the years.  These changes include things that have made what I do easier and things that have, quite frankly, made things more difficult.  I must say, I couldn’t agree more with this particular statement used in the Starbucks video marketing campaign.

The reason why I love this particular point is that I think as a society we hide behind technology too much.  It’s easier to send a text than to call.  It’s far easier to just FaceTime or Skype instead of driving or flying to meet in person.  Or at least we perceive it that way.  The list goes on and on.  Yet with all of the great advances in technology, most will admit there’s still something about meeting face to face that adds to the whole BLT factor (believability, likeability, trust).  Think about it…no matter how comfortable you become with technology, there are probably still a few things that you’d much rather do in person.  That’s because there’s just something about getting together that no technology can replace.

As good as Starbucks is with their online marketing strategy and social media marketing campaigns, they still understand that at the end of the day it’s about people coming together.  This is what made their business grow into what it is today and what will ultimately continue to drive their sales.  No technology will ever be able to change that.

 How Can You Apply This to Your Business?

Think about the customer experience you have created with your business/brand. It might have been awhile since you’ve taken the time to do something like this, but I assure you it will pay off.  Consider the whole process of doing business with your company/working with you.  Is it a smooth, enjoyable experience?  Is it something people are likely to tell others about?  If it isn’t, why not?

Going off the second point, I would just urge you to take the time to see your customers in person whenever possible.  I take great pride in the friendships and partnerships I’ve built over the years through networking.  I love meeting with my clients face-to-face and feel that’s truly when we do our best work.  As Starbucks reminds us, “great things happen when we get together.”

So, now I guess there’s only 1 thing left to do:  Let’s get together at Starbucks some time soon. 

4 Questions Every Business Should Be Asking This Time of Year

Well, October is here and Fall is officially upon us.  You know what this means – the holidays are quickly approaching as is the end of the year.  Yep, I said it; 2014 is coming to a close and 2015 will be here before we know it.  It seems like October is that magical month when businesses take a long hard look at what they’ve accomplished throughout the year, what they can wrap up in the last few months and begin planning for the new year.  I recently wrote a post about the 2 Must-Haves for Every Online Marketing Plan in 2015 and I’ve received quite a bit of feedback on that post.  So today I wanted to follow that up by sharing with you some of the questions that every business should be considering this year as it relates to a marketing strategy.

Strategic Marketing Plan

 

What Are Our Big Wins So Far This Year?

Think about the first 9 months.  What are the 3-4 big wins that stand out to you?  Maybe it’s a big deal that you closed or a social media marketing campaign that was very well received.  What did you accomplish that helped you or your business move closer to where you want to be?  Whatever it was, take a moment to think about why it was successful.  All too often, we get caught up in the day-to-day stuff and forget to take a step back to evaluate things.  And I’ve got news for you, if you don’t get this done in October there’s no way it’s happening in November or December.  We all know how crazy that time of the year can get, so take the time to search for those golden nuggets NOW and learn from them.

Where Did We Come Up Short?

No doubt, there will be some areas over your overall marketing plan or business strategy where you’ve fallen a bit short.  It’s much easier and more beneficial to identify those things now rather than at the end of the year.  Let me cover that again, think about and begin dealing with your shortcomings NOW rather than at the end of the year.  Sometimes we get too caught up in moving forward forward forward, that we forget to look back at things we might be able to easily fix now.  Maybe earlier in the year you were working on a website redesign and rushed things a bit when it came to the content development convincing yourself you’d come back to it later in the year.  Well, now’s that time.  Or perhaps you were thinking about getting some commercial photography work done for your new product line to update your online catalog, but just didn’t get around to it.   It’s important to identify these things now, and I will tell you why on my next point.

How Will You Make the Most of the Next 3 Months?

After taking a step back to look at your big wins and places where you fell short, think about how these things fit in with what’s left of your 2014 marketing plan.  What can you learn from these successes and setbacks so far to make the most of where you’re going next?  Your answers to these questions my change the plan moving forward.  Perhaps your original marketing budget didn’t have enough built in for social media marketing or hadn’t taken into consideration the benefits you might get from producing an online video to follow up with the one you rolled out in quarter 2 that was so successful.  While it’s always important to stay on budget, where you allocate that budget needs to always be open for review and discussion especially this late into the year.  And I’ll tell you one thing – doing things the same way you have always done them in the past is a recipe for getting left in the dust of your competition.  In other words, just because you spent X on a TV commercial or radio ad last year around the holidays and included that same budget this year doesn’t mean it’s in your best interest.

What’s The Plan for 2015?

Now that you’ve taken some time to look at the first 3/4 of the year and make sure you’re on the right track for the last quarter, it’s time to turn your attention to next year.  The good news is that by answering the first 3 questions, it will make building out your 2015 marketing strategy much easier.  Start by visualizing where you want your business to be at the beginning of the new year.  Let’s say the New Year starts off with a bang and everything is going great – what does that picture look like for your company?  Now, ask yourself that same thing about the end of the year next year.  Next it’s time to work backwards – what do you need to do to connect the dots from the most successful year beginning to the most successful year end?  Identify the mini-goals that need to be achieved along the way so you have nice, bite-sized chunks to tackle one at a time.  If you’re in the right business, answering these questions is sure to get you excited for new year.  After all, there’s no reason why it can’t be your best yet.

Answer These Questions NOW

I am going to wrap things up by echoing what I said earlier.  NOW is the time to answer these questions. I say this for 3 simple reasons:

1. It’s not too late to get back on track even if 2014 isn’t finishing the way you had hoped.

2. It’s never too early to start planning for the new year.

3. End of year/holiday craziness will soon ensue.

Need help with your strategic marketing plan?  Here’s how we can help

Apple iPhone 6, Being First vs Being the Best

iPhone 6 from Apple.com

Photo of iPhone 6 from Apple.com

After the recent iPhone 6 launch event, I can’t help but pause to take note of everything Apple does right. I know it gets said a lot, but they truly are an amazing company with the ultimate brand and marketing strategy. They just “get it” when so many other companies don’t and come up big where others fall short.

Following the event, I came across this article that pointed out three things that makes Apple stand out – trust, taste and utility. In the article, Steve Lohr is mainly talking about the Apple watch, but I wanted to offer my take on these three values and cover an additional point that makes Apple stand out to me

People Trust Apple

Apple has created a brand that people trust. For the most part, when someone buys an Apple phone like the iPhone 6, they know that it’s going to work correctly and be easy to use. They trust that Apple took their time to do the research needed to put out the best phone on the market. Apple has created a brand that is simple, sleek and delivers products that are sexy. And if there are any issues, Apple always seems to do whatever it takes to get it right. As the article I referenced above mentions, it’s not uncommon for loyal Apple customers to even go out of the way to defend the brand and its products when they do make mistakes. One thing is for sure, when it comes to technology, this company has earned the ultimate level of trust.

Question: What is your brand?  And do people trust it?  Get more info on branding development here.

Apple Has Great Taste

When it comes to design, it just doesn’t get any better than the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and the Apple Watch. This new lineup of products nails the design element again – all the way across the board. I really questioned some of the wearables that I’ve seen from other companies such as Samsung, but as soon as I saw the Apple watch I knew things would be different. I immediately thought, “now there’s a techy watch that I’d actually wear.” With all of the different bands and styles – the Apple Watch looks to be elegant but highly functional. With it’s release date being early 2015, there are still some questions to be answered, though I have a feeling Apple is going to come in and set the new bar when it comes to expectations from wearable technology.

Apple Products Work

Apple products “just work.” This has been said time and time again. Apple has a reputation for delivering products that function exactly as they should right out of the box with a very minimal learning curve and quick setup times. The iPad is a perfect example of an Apple product that has been proven to be incredibly easy to use for kids just over 1 year old all the way to the elderly. The best word to describe the usability factor would be “intuitive.” What I mean by that is that things work just the way you’d expect them to.

It’s Not Always About Being First. It’s Always About Being Best.

When it comes to marketing strategy and execution, Apple gets it’s not about being the first, it’s about being the best.  Many other phones have come to market with larger screens over the past couple years and wearables like the Apple Watch are no longer something new. Apple could have rushed to market with these devices I’m sure, but they take the time to do it right. They understand that it’s not about having good design; it’s about having great design. Apple understands that when it comes to marketing, having a well thought out strategy makes all the difference in the world. There’s a reason the Apple events like the iPhone 6 launch get the exposure they do. It’s because Apple won’t settle for anything but the best.

Wrapping It All Up

Over the next few weeks, there will no doubt be a lot of buzz as the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices ship and consumers get their hands on them for the first time. Sales numbers will be astronomical as they always are leading right into this holiday season. And while it may seem like Apple is this gigantic company (which they are) I can’t help but think about how any business couldn’t help but see success by focusing tirelessly on all of these things. All the way from Apple’s brand identity to its marketing strategy they work and work until it’s right.

While a large part of these Apple events is all about launching new products and driving sales, when you pay attention to everything that goes into it there are so many learning opportunities. I challenge you to think about how you might be able to apply some of these values to your business. I know I certainly have and will continue to do so.

Get more: Find this article helpful?  Let’s talk business marketing strategy.