Just about everyone is on the social media bandwagon. But chances are good that most folks using social media are misusing it and overlooking its real purpose.
At FocalPoint, we know that social media is about connecting with the people in your sweet spot. In other words, your customers, potential customers, those who are interested in what you do, or people with similar interests. Social media is about building relationships, establishing rapport and networking.
We also know that what social media is not about, is sales. In fact, using social media to sell is a real turnoff to those tuning in to your posts. Social media used correctly, is a gradual, organic development toward building trust in what you have to say. If your blogs and tweets are about sales and laden with calls to action, your followers will soon lose interest.
That said, effective social media will gradually generate more interest in your products and may build business as a result. But there is no direct link. It’s a gradual thing.
Remaining active on social media sites is another big plus which is often overlooked. Multiple quality postings will not only increase awareness of your brand (name recognition as well us increasing understanding of who you are and what you do), it will also boost your company’s rank on search engines. But only if you produce regular quality posts. The more you post, the faster your brand will inch up Google’s search engine ladder. (We know because we track this information for our clients.)
Effective social media use will also show that you and your company are viable, contemporary entities that know what’s going on, know your business, and know how to communicate the knowledge to its best advantage.
Got a question about something with social media we didn’t answer? Ask us! Heck, we might even write a post about your question.
If you ask me, this is a great time of year to be a marketer. The countdown to the Super Bowl XLIX is in full swing. The best of the best are getting ready to showcase their talent on the field. And the best of the best in the marketing industry are ready to see what they can do off the field. It’s one of those rare times when it seems the whole world is actually paying attention to commercials and marketing campaigns in general. This means it’s the perfect opportunity for digital marketers and small business owners to take note of the strategies used by the big boys and taking note of how people react.
Today, I’m here to give you a break from all this #Deflategate chatter (we all need it) to share some of my favorite Super Bowl commercials from previous years and offer some Marketing 101 reminders that we often overlook. So without further ado, let’s stop talking about air pressure in footballs and start looking at some fun commercials…
Original Budweiser Frogs Commercial
We have to go all the way back to 1995 for this commercial, yet I still remember it like it was yesterday. This ad is great because it is incredibly simple. Three frogs sounding out Bud-weis-er and that’s it. As marketers we often times try to say too much when something as simple as this will do the trick. There’s nothing about how great Budweiser beer tastes. Heck, you don’t even see the Budwesier logo until the end. But the goal of name recognition and branding is absolutely achieved.
The Force: Volkswagen Commercial
Kids, pets, cool parents and Star Wars come together for a funny commercial. What’s not to love about this one? The use of the Star Wars music is perfect. The whole concept of using the Force and capturing imagination is something every kid and parent can relate to. By the end of the commercial, not much even needs to be said about the Volkswagen 2012 Passat because the audience has been captured and the message is clear.
Pepsi- Coke Guy Caught on Camera
How about this gem from Pepsi back in 1996? The Coke guy is restocking some cans and can’t help but reach for a Pepsi in the cooler next to him. Next thing you know Pepsi cans fall all over the floor and he’s caught. It’s an ad that includes a direct competitor but does so without any words and in a humorous way. This one still makes me chuckle nearly 20 years later.
Just watching the game, having a Bud. One thing is for sure, Budweiser puts out some great Super Bowl ads and this one is another classic. Once again, simple, funny and effective. Here there’s some more branding and product placement going on, but in a natural and unforced way.
Doritos Crash The Super Bowl Contest
There have been too many great Super Bowl ads from Doritos throughout the years to pick just one. The main thing to observe here from a marketing strategy standpoint is the way that Doritos empowers its audience through the use of social media to create the Super Bowl commercial and then rely on votes to pick the winner. It’s a brilliant marketing move that has been going on for 8 years now. The winner this year gets 1 million dollars, a job with Universal Studios and gets to see their ad during the Super Bowl. How’s that for some nice incentive! View the 10 finalists and vote here.
Super Bowl Commercials – A Marketing 101 Reminder
In a lot of ways, I feel like Super Bowl commercials remind all marketers of some basic lessons that we often overlook…
It’s less about the product and more about the story
Simple is always better
People just want to be entertained
Babies, pets, & sex sell
If you look at Super Bowl ads as a collective whole, the most memorable ads are incredibly simple. There’s very little, if any dialogue or narration in a lot of them. Many don’t even mention the product until the end and for maybe 1 second. ALL of them are entertaining and most of the time humor is involved. Including babies, animals and sex (if appropriate) in marketing still and always will work (Danica & GoDaddy).
Now, several of the commercials I included above were before the social media age we are living in. The one HUGE THING I would advise to any marketer creating a video/commercial is to think about how that campaign can live beyond just the Super Bowl by creating a new hashtag or encouraging social shares. With social media listening, marketers can now know immediately how an ad is being perceived, react and interact with their customers instantly. That’s something that definitely needs to be used to your advantage.
What a great year it has been! I want to take a moment to thank all of my readers and clients who have helped make this another successful year for Focal Point. As a small business in Indianapolis, we couldn’t do what we do without our wonderful community and your support.
To bring things to a close for the year, I want to share 4 of my most popular articles all about marketing trends and things to look forward to 2015. One thing I learned this year in my writing is that some of my most well received posts were all about creating a strategic marketing plan moving into the new year. Whether this is your first time reading my blog or you’ve been here before, I know you’ll find some valuable information below.
4 Questions Every Business Should Be Asking This Time of Year
It seems like just yesterday that I hit “publish” on this post, yet here we are at the end of the year. Originally published at the beginning of Fall, this post is all about taking the time to evaluate your online marketing plan throughout the year. How can you define what “success” means to your business without having some sort of plan in place?
As we head into 2015, this post can serve as a reminder to schedule time in your calendar during the new year to take a look at your big wins, the areas where you fell short and put a plan in place to improve performance throughout the year. I recommend making the time to do this on a quarterly basis. This seems like the right amount of time to get good data on if your marketing plan is working while giving you enough time to make adjustments as needed. Find out all 4 questions to ask yourself in the full post here!
3 Movements Every Digital Marketer Must Watch Now
There are some big movements taking place in the digital marketing world that’s for sure. As marketers, it’s important that we are aware of these dynamic shifts as they will greatly impact the way we reach our potential customers and they way our customers do business with us.
New SEO is Now Online Branding?
In my latest post prior to this one, I pose this very serious question. It has been said that SEO is dead, but is is possible that online branding is simply taking it’s place?
With Google acting more and more like a human and less like a robot, it’s more important than ever to establish a good online reputation and brand trust. I recently watched a webinar from Rand Fishkin of Moz where he unveiled some of the big changes and tactics to position your brand for growth. Get all the key points on how to increase your online branding here!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.