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Dare To Defy Convention

Who comes to mind when you think about marketing strategies that defied convention?


  • Steven Jobs with Apple
  • Certainly the Volkswagen print ads of the 60s
  • Old Spice “The man your man could smell like” TV commercials
  • Proctor & Gamble’s “Thank you, moms” Olympics video
  • Dos Equis “The world most interesting man” campaign
  • Dove’s print series for “Real beauty”


You probably can picture each of these. They were memorable for breaking the rules. They gained recognition because they defied conventional marketing in some way. They looked at things differently. Or said or did the unexpected.


Taking the unbeaten path rather than the quick route is liberating. But that’s because you take a risk in saying, doing or picturing something in a very different way.


Turning the usual on its head, so to speak, is energizing. It’s also risky. After all, you could get it wrong.


For all the campaigns listed above, chances are very good that there were multiple tries for each strategy that didn’t work. That missed the mark. Those that worked found the sweet spot of heartfelt sincerity, as in P&G’s “Thank you” video. Or said something quirky and completely over the top, as in Old Spice and Dos Equis. Or questioned our values very visually, as Dove did. And of course Apple famously turned everything on its head, from innovation to marketing.


How can you get off of the safe and reliable path and onto producing marketing materials that are memorable and get talked about?


The easy answer is “take the unexpected route” with something that is funny, off beat, brilliant, or charming. Of course, how to get there is a whole different story.


The good news is that it is less expensive than ever to use social media to explore what works and what doesn’t. Shooting and editing video is more direct and faster than ever before. You can tweet a new tag line out and get immediate feedback before launching an expensive campaign.


Technology has made defying convention a breeze. You just need to be able to stop taking the safe route, take a deep breath, and open up to the possibility of different.


Marshall McLuhan said, “Historians and archaeologists will one day discover that the ads of our time are the richest and most faithful daily reflections any society ever made of its whole range of activities.”


Question why you are presenting your services and goods in the way you are. Talk about the strangely curious aspects of your widgets. Invite different folks to your marketing table and gain new insight.

Then apply this new thinking to everything you do, from sales strategies to HR, product innovation to marketing new categories.


So — yes, project and reflect your organization’s values in unexpected, irreverent, exuberant, thoughtful, wild, and colorful ways. Why not? Taking an unexpected route just may open up a whole new path for you, your customers and your organization.

The Heartbreak Of Website Ennui

It’s listed on your business cards. Your url is out there. You put a lot of thought (and blood and emotion) into your website. It might even be nice looking and get a few hits. That is, as far as you know. Chances are good that you’ve sort of forgotten about that website in the – what’s it been now, two years? – (wait? Has it really been more than three years?) — since you launched it.


It’s really easy to let your website get dusty.


But here’s the thing. When your website offers nothing new of interest, with no recent blogs, updates, news releases, or fresh visuals, it gives the strong impression that your company also doesn’t have much of anything fresh or exciting to offer.


Don’t let website ennui happen to you, your organization, and your brand. If it’s been awhile since you considered freshening your site, consider how many Apple iPhone updates there have been since your website went live.


Cell phone screen sizes have been changing rapidly, and many bells and whistles have been added. People have become more tech savvy. That means they ask more from the websites they visit, too. Your site needs to download lightening-fast, be incredibly visual, graphic, and most of all, easy to navigate, whether you’re visiting via laptop, smart phone, or company desktop.


Of course, your website also needs to be secure. Even if you like the way your site looks and it still gets lots of positive feedback, it what’s behind the scenes isn’t up to snuff, your site and a whole lot of important information on it could easily get hacked.


The good news is that updating a website has gotten a lot easier to do. You won’t need to assemble an overview committee of ten or pull resources from next quarter’s bonuses.


In fact, you can actually start the ball rolling with phone call and a meeting with us. We can tell you what can be tweaked to bring your SEO up to speed, make your site safer and more secure, easier to navigate, or even easier to find.


After we meet, you can decide if you want to update a little or a lot.

Begin with the most important stuff, and do the rest in chunks that fit your time, energy, interests, and budget.


Trust us, a little change will do you — and your website — a lot of good.

Projecting Competence AND Warmth In Your Marketing

When anyone, company or individual, makes a purchase decision, that choice is based on a perception of product or service competence (credibility) as well as image (likeability).


We all readily accept that first premise. (We’re making decisions based on facts, right?) It’s the second one we sometimes have a hard time believing. After all, who needs warmth from a Samsung refrigerator? Don’t we just look at all the product’s features, then compare the Samsung to all the other brands, weigh in cost, and make the most rational cost-to-benefit determination?


Nope, not according to market psychoanalysts.


“In deciding whether to trust a company or brand, we weigh both competence and warmth,” say coauthors Maurice Schweitzer and Adam Galinsky in their book Friend and Foe, When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both.


“That means, according to Schweitzer and Galinsky, “people choosing a new product, service or brand are asking:

  • Does this (refrigerator) have the ability to get the job done?
  • Does (Samsung) have my best interests at heart?”


It makes sense when you think about it. When you take in any kind of advertising or marketing, you are “meeting” a company and their product. You are rating them in terms of competence for sure. But you are also swayed by your emotions.


Schweitzer and Galinsky say there are two elements at work here:


  • Credibility – the content of your marketing material shows you’re the subject matter expert (SME) they’ve been seeking, and
  • Reliability – you’ve helped clients and customers “just like them” many times before and you’re familiar with their needs and concerns.


So, even if you’ve worked hard to come across as the most brilliant and knowledgeable of providers in your niche, you still need to pass the “warmth” test.


Seeking that obvious warmth quotient is why so many ads employ likeable jingles, or warm and fuzzy family scenarios, or dogs in their commercials. But its also reflected less overtly, such as when your social media presents your organization and your employees as “real people”, with a passion for serving in your field (such as in blogs, Tweets, and other forms of social connection.)


Interestingly, sometimes that warmth can come through when you show your audience your own human failures as well as your successes, according to Friend and Foe. Humor does the same thing. Both methods can be a good point of connection – which is a big part of warmth.


So, ask yourself this question:

As business owners/marketers in today’s high-speed, click-on-it, research online, ADHD world, are you sure your marketing content demonstrates to online searchers that you are not only terrific at what you do, but you are also considerably warmer than your competition?

Help! How Do I Come Up With Ideas For My Editorial Calendar?

An editorial calendar is great. It’s definitely one of a content marketer’s most useful tools http://focalpoint.co/5-great-reasons-to-set-up-an-editorial-content-calendar.  But before you can start filling out your editorial calendar for social media, tying it to your over-arching marketing themes, you’ll need some content ideas.

The good news is that this can be a whole lot of fun. You can either brainstorm on your own or better, with your team. Team not particularly filled with creative types? No worries. As long as they know the products and your customers inside and out, they will be just fine at this.

Schedule a team brainstorm

Here’s how:

• Gather your marketing stakeholders for a brainstorming session. Include those from marketing as well as SMEs (subject matter experts) from other departments.

• Use analytics. Determine what annual or special occurrences are important for your audience and determine how far in advance that audience might be interested in that information.

• To make sure your brainstorming session will be productive, structure it with an agenda. (We find it helpful to send out our meeting agenda in advance. Some folks find it easy to brainstorm on the spot; others prefer to let ideas percolate.)

• Begin by walking everyone attending through your editorial calendar, paying attention to seasonal dates, product introductions and key cycles for your business.

• Dedicate 10 or 15 minutes to brainstorm content for each calendar section, period, or cycle.

• Make sure there’s a place to record ideas where everyone can see them (whiteboard, sticky notes, or a live working document projected in the meeting room).

• Good rule: There are no bad ideas. Seemingly odd, funny or off-beat ideas are great vehicles from which to spin off truly great ideas!

• Once everyone has shared, group together similar ideas.

• Create a dedicated place to store your ideas (no matter how half-baked they are!) You never know when you can use them – or in what ways.

• Finally, pare down to the best ideas, then move ahead.

• See which story and or media ideas work well with others and pair them up.

• Assign teams or individuals to complete various concepts and ideas during each cycle.

The more you and your organization stays up-to-date with publications in your industry, general news, and the topics that your customers most care about, the better your ideas and spin-off ideas.

Have fun!

5 Great Reasons To Set Up An Editorial Content Calendar

Your organization, like ours, probably already has a marketing budget and a marketing strategy. Great to have, as that keeps your company on message and working within established parameters.

But you also need a way to coordinate the social media portion of your marketing efforts. The central idea of the editorial content calendar is to allow the creation of workflows for social content, plot them on a calendar, and manage all the writing, editing, publishing, and distribution in one place.

Here’s what an editorial content calendar can provide:

1) A guide to organize and manage your content
2) A plan to distribute this information across all your social marketing channels of communication
3) A way to hold individuals and/or departments accountable for their roles in content production and promotion
4) Verification that you’re producing content aligned with your overall strategy
5) A tool to assess resources and explore methods to fill gaps in your social media.

The format of your calendar will depend on your organization and how you access shared documents. A Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet can serve nicely.

At FocalPoint, we discovered that once we determined our marketing strategy, we had also laid the foundation for our editorial calendar. The goals aligned together nicely. For instance, we established several key core topics we want to “own” through SEO keywords. Then we mapped out various ways to enrich those keywords and phrases on social media to drive traffic and awareness. You could map this out by quarter, by season, or (depending on your business model) around new product introductions.

For example, if you’re gearing up to introduce a new gizmo, you (or your marketing department) may be creating articles to promote the introduction and drive audience interest. After the introduction, you will likely have post-event content (photos, new data, videos, testimonials) to share on social media. Using an editorial calendar, you can track where you shared what, and keep the key themes of your introduction in sight. This keeps all your printed content, blogs, facebook shares, Tweets, Snapchats, etc, aligned with your overall marketing objectives, and working toward a common goal.

Once you’ve mapped out your calendar, you can scheduled your social media and begin to see how to team what you post alongside your overall marketing program.

We’ve learned that you can’t plan for everything in advance, and really, you shouldn’t. The beauty of social media is how up-to-the-minute it is. In addition to having fixed marketing pieces, you can use the calendar to publish other content, as needed, to respond to breaking news, new data, updates, and anything else important that comes into focus. Your calendar should always feel like a work in progress.

We’ve found that an editorial calendar is among a content marketer’s most useful tools. It makes every part of marketing communication easier and more organized.

2 Million Searches a Minute?

Forget global warming. We are already drowning in an alarming tsunami of…. data.

Big data is exponentially expanding. And it’s overwhelming all of us. To put this in perspective, Google receives more than two million requests for search each and every minute. Let that sink in a minute.

What are we searching for? A lot of the searches are for stuff (including data) that’s new. In fact, Google reports that 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone.

How do we get this much new information? The short answer is social media. The rise of social media to the web makes it possible for tons of new information to make its way across the internet all the time. New words are being created. New ideas being shared. Tweets about the ideas. Breaking news. Responses to breaking news. Counterpoints to breaking news. You get the idea.

The bottom line is that all this data is making it difficult for organizations to make sense of the data. And respond appropriately in a way that gets their news or product or info into view.

And that is really tough in a world that is trying to shift through tons of data.

How to push through the tsunami? Visuals work very well.

We humans respond to and process visual data better than any other type of data. In fact, the human brain is hardwired to process images 60,000 times faster than text. Visuals are immediately registered and understood because most (90 percent) of information transmitted to the brain is, in fact, visual.

Knowing all of us are visual by nature, leverage this information to enhance search to your site. The more complicated the data – or information — you offer, the more visuals you should have. The good news is that data is geospatial and can be presented in a variety of visual ways, including

• Videos
• Graphs
• Site locations
• Coupons
• Promotional side bars
• Interactive maps
• Drop down ads
• Banners
• Photos
• Sale graphics

Need more ammunition for presenting a ton of visual information in your next (fill in the blank: website, PowerPoint, email, blog, tweet, Facebook post, Instagram post)? Visual data also makes it easier to collaborate, link ideas together, and generate new ideas. And that impacts your team as well as who you are trying to reach.