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Short. is. in.

Less is most definitely more these days.

Short attention spans are in evidence everywhere.

To stay connected to your audience, you’ve got to be brief. Your points crisp and concise.

This applies to meetings, presentations, advertising, emails, Tweets, web sites, and memos.

Short is not only the new black, it’s the only way to be heard over instant communication.

What makes a brand memorable?

How many Super Bowl commercials can you remember, a couple of weeks or so out from the game? And of those you do remember, how many do you also remember the brand?

Chances are good, not many.

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with folks over the years about an ad they “loved,” but couldn’t remember the name of the product.

And then, there are the generic brands. They don’t advertise because they aren’t going for brand recognition. Generic products like black and white cans labeled “Cat food,” or “Dish soap,” don’t want brand recognition. They are just filling a product need with direct, brutally obvious, hyper clear messaging.

And that labeling is certainly marketing, too. And it works for stuff where we don’t care about quality; we are just filling a need as cheaply as possible.

But for the majority of brands, making a connection with potential users of the product is what is at stake. We want that connection to last. Like the Doritos Super Bowl commercials, for example. You not only remember that the chips are Doritos’ brand, but you also remember the commercial’s payoff – humor. In fact, Doritos brand was the one most often mentioned when folks were asked which commercials they remembered a week after the Super Bowl.

What other brands do you recall immediately when you think of a product? Hoover, Kentucky Fried Chicken, The Beatles, Apple computers… all of these products have name recognition because of marketing tying brand to product.

But how to get there — especially when you don’t have the corporate budget of Apple computers? The best idea is not to do it in house. A group of untrained folks searching for a word or phrase tends to push toward obvious or generic way of thinking about a product. And generic advertising doesn’t stick. Instead, you need a hook, something memorable to link your product and brand to your customer’s need.

That’s where we come in. Folks experienced in marketing, who will see your product from a different perspective, and explore how to set your brand apart. Maybe with humor, maybe with elegance. Perhaps with music or a tag line that sticks.

So if you’re exploring new ways to get your brand to stick like a Doritos ad, we would be delighted to share some of our interesting branding work. Give us a call. We’ll provide the chips.

Perfection is boring

Fear sells. We have to look.

Radical sells. Different sells. Uniformity gets ignored.

Sex (still) sells. Being PC doesn’t.

Beauty sells. Unless it’s so plastically beautiful that it becomes boring.

We’re human. We get tired of tried and true. This is why the world of television programing is getting weirder and weirder. And why talk shows push the envelope. And teenagers listen to radical music.

soup-of-the-dayDifferent is interesting. What we once thought was perfection, soon becomes boring. So what actually gets noticed and remembered? A reliable product? A better value? Something that is safer?

At FocalPoint, we don’t think so. What’s hot today is fleeting. We get that. Today’s consumer is seeking  “Spicey hot,” “Bold and unpredictable!” and “The quirkiest gizmo ever,” and “We’ve never made a (car) quite like this.”

We see consumers that are compelled by what they don’t see often. Now that we all can get what we want at the touch of a screen, we crave new experiences, new ways to make a connection, and new sensations.

The people at the edges, the thought leaders, the young, the people who care, those are the folks we are getting in front of. The folks that are seeking idiosyncrasy and things that makes them think.

At FocalPoint, we like that too. That is what piques our interest.

The Real Value of Customer Service

I find myself frequently disappointed with local customer service. As an Indy businessman and homeowner, I’d like to turn that observation on its head. I’m fiercely proud of my city and my business. I’d like to represent both well.

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Post game analysis

New year, fresh start!

No matter what your business faced or how your team pulled through, now’s a great time to provide your team a well-deserved pat on the back and a thoughtful review.

  • Maybe that’s a half-day out of the office retreat.
Or a recognition lunch. Find something positive to recognize in each staff member, i.e., “Rookie of the Year,” “Best Use of Humor in a Low Moment,” “Most Inspirational,” etc.
  • Second, measure: Take stock. List your division’s accomplishments.
    • How close did you come in each category compared to your goal?
    • Where was growth centered?
    • How did this past year stack up with last year’s?
    • Think marketing. Where do you need to build? What should you be highlighting for future growth?
  • Lastly, where is your business headed? What will you keep as is? What needs to be changed or discarded altogether?
    • There’s no better time of year to debrief, reflect and regroup. If you take the time to do this now, it can prevent you from launching automatically into a repeat of this year. And progress and growth demand new vision.

Budget-stretching creative marketing techniques for small businesses

How can I expand my business in a slow-growing economy, you ask?

We get that question a lot here at FocalPoint. Because despite news that employment numbers are up and the economy is percolating, we’re not feeling any kind of surge here in the Midwest.

So, what can you do to increase your marketing share?

The short answer is: get creative! But of course, any marketing solution we recommend begins with us doing a lot of listening to what you do, how you do it differently, and what you are trying to achieve.

That said, here are some interesting ideas we may consider for small and medium sized businesses on a budget:

  • Believe it or not, on-line advertising may be your best bet. Depending on your business niche, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin may be good places to invest for little money.  We can help you figure out which type of on-line advertising creates the best pop for you by doing test ads. Test ads are run for a short time (for very little money) to see how well an ad will play out before we make a bigger buy. (Yes, we really can do that!)
  • You most assuredly cannot match larger competitors dollar-for-dollar but, you absolutely can use unusual or unexpected media approaches to woo business your way.
  • If your budget is tight, chances are you need to be more targeted with your advertising. Rather than a broad brush approach, we hunker down and do some real due diligence and discover how your potential customers actually make buying decisions. Only then do we select a medium that targets your customers in a way they want to be approached.

Here’s a glass half full way to think about marketing on a budget: Because your business is smaller, you have the ability to react quickly to current conditions and (together with us) create ads and promotions that use trends, changing circumstances, opportunities, and headlines to your advantage.

Let the creative sparks fly!