If you are like most people, you probably believe you already know what a brand is and perhaps think it has nothing to do with you.
Sure, big companies like McDonalds, Lexus and Coca Cola have big brands. Everyone knows that. But pause for a moment and think about your favourite mom-and-pop restaurant, your preferred dry cleaners, or even your doctor.
Why do you go to those particular places for what you want? In those cases, you’re not shopping price, you’re shopping something else. Something intangible. Something called “brand”. It is not only about how good the food is or how fast they clean your clothes. It is a feeling you get when you go there.
The feeling may be that you are special; that you are a valued customer; that you believe they know you or actually care about you. Maybe they do.
Does your business give customers the “right” feeling? Curiously, what you think brings in your customers may be wrong. It is the customer’s truth that matters most. I prefer a certain coffee shop because I like the morning sunlight in their open, airy dining room and their iced tea is good. But I agree with the other regulars: Their food is pretty bad. Yet when I asked the owner, he assured me that his place is popular because of his great food.
It is crucial that you not only know the elements that make up your brand, but find ways to convey your unique brand identity in ways that will attract more customers who want what you’ve got.
Related: How To Brand Your Business
To figure that out for your business, reflect on these questions, and then poll them. Good brand awareness makes good sense.
What do people hear?
- Is there a voice or music that starts playing as soon as they hit your landing page? Could it be turning people off? Personally, I will leave any site that immediately gets noisy.
- Is there music in your business that attracts a certain age group? Does it repel another?
- When a prospect calls, are there dogs, kids, TVs, shouting, etc. going on in the background? If you aren’t in the business of pet grooming, daycare, television sales or marriage counselling (smile), these sounds shouldn’t be heard.
- Do you have annoying hold music? Or none at all? Or the kind that makes people feel anxious, even if it is your favourite song?
- Is it loud while they are in your place, when more customers might want quiet, or vice versa? Everyone has left a restaurant because it was too loud or too quiet. Make sure your noise level matches the brand reputation you want to build.
What do people see?
- Is your website some hokey, outdated template from two years ago that doesn’t help customers get where they need to go with minimal fuss?
- Are you using unpopular colours on your site, your walls, or your uniforms? Each country, each region has colour preferences. Look them up online if you don’t know yours. It’s not about you, it’s about the people you are trying to attract.
- Is your storefront appealing or messy? What’s the first thing people see when they step into your place of business?
- Is the first employee a customer sees unappealing in any way, texting on their phone, or otherwise a turn off to your customer?
- Is your place dark? If it’s not a tavern or a night club or a swanky restaurant, you are losing business if it is dark in your shop. The online equivalent is websites with black backgrounds and white words. (There are some exceptions). Note that the grocery store in town doing the most business is the one with the best lighting. This isn’t an accident.
What do people taste?
- You make think this sense applies only to places that serve food, but it doesn’t. Surprisingly, there are many ways to make sure your wares “taste” right to the customer.
- Obviously, is your food appealing? A group of researchers filled three bottles with the same tap water.Two bottles had the big brand labels. They affixed a made-up label to the third. Then they asked people to sip their usual brand, then try the “new” brand.Most taste testers were able to identify multiple differences between “their” brand and the new water. But all three bottles contained the same water!It is the brand positioning that determined the customer response, not the water itself.
- Is your place of business in “good taste”? Everyone has seen calendars of women in bikinis on the wall of an auto repair shop, but is that making any of the customers uncomfortable?If your office furniture is a mishmash of second hand stuff, your desk is a mountain of clutter and old coffee cups, or your space is crammed with dusty old stuffed animals or your beloved collection of Barbie dolls, would you guess that the majority of customers and prospects see that as being “in good taste”? Probably not. Does your furniture belong to a prosperous business or one hanging on by the tips of its fingernails?
- Do people walk away from a customer service interaction with you or your team with a “good taste in their mouth”?
What do people smell?
- There’s a lot of research into smells and how they unconsciously affect customers. That’s why you can smell McDonald’s fries blocks away. That’s why when you walk into certain stores in the mall, you smell a specific scent. Is there a scent you could subtly share near your entrance to anchor that into your customers’ minds? Our olfactory sense – the sense of smell – is thought to be one of the most primal and the most memorable.
- Naturally, it is important customers don’t smell anything unpleasant. Like that garlic pizza box you stuffed in your desk drawer…last week. Or the banana peel in your trash. It seems such a small thing, but you have the opportunity to control the entire customer experience, so you may as well make it optimal. At the very least, get a bottle of Febreeze.
- People who do not have pets or who do not like a certain type of animal (or have allergies) can immediately smell an animal in someone’s office. Unless you are a vet or a groomer, it is probably a good idea to make sure that your pet is bathed regularly, its bedding in the office is washed often and careful attention is paid to any “accidents”.
What do people feel?
- Is your place grungy or dirty? Are your restrooms? Women usually notice this stuff. Once, I was lying in a hospital bed watching an orderly “mop” my room, but he was just swishing debris around with a rag mop. He didn’t cover even 30% of the surface. No one I care about will ever use that hospital again. If customers feel like they have to go take a shower after being in your establishment, you’ve got a problem.
- Do people feel like you’re glad they are there or like you’re an imposition?
- Does your sales pitch make them feel slimed?
- When the minimum wage clerk you hired mumbles “May I help you?”, do you really think that is engaging the customer and making them feel welcome?
- When it takes you 48+ hours to respond to an email, or an online inquiry, or a complaint – does that make the customer feel valued?
- Do you feel like your doctor – who has seen more of your body than most people – would recognise you if you approached him or her in a public place? Would you recognise your customers, even your best ones? The more special you can make your customers feel, the more loyal they will feel toward your business.
- When they leave your place of business or your website, what feeling do they experience? Are they smiling or running for their car?
- If you sell online, does your relentless, thoughtless, overwhelming follow up sequence make them feel like they got their lips wrapped around a fire hose inadvertently? Your opt-outs will answer this question.
The “five senses check” is a good idea to run your business through twice a year, so you can be sure what you’re doing is aligning with the brand you are trying to establish. Consistent, positive, reliable, repeatable brand interaction is a key component in any business’ success.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Your 3 Big Marketing Plays For 2018
Consumers want to know who you are. Enter content marketing.
I’m a firm believer in content marketing. It’s a long play, but the results speak for themselves if you invest and keep plugging away.
Businesses that have invested in content marketing in recent years are reporting dividends from those investments. For example, more than 60% of B2B marketers reported more effective content marketing strategies than a year ago, showing that constant flow and activity within content marketing will increase ROI.
Factors contributing to that success include better quality content, strategy development, more time spent on content marketing, and better targeting in content distribution.
To maintain this growth, marketers need to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of content marketing.
Here are my three big marketing plays for 2018.
1. Great content is expert-driven
Content marketing is moving beyond blog ideas and articles. There is a move towards a trend in which ideas are constantly improved upon, customised for different audiences, and adapted to new formats consumers are using.
Just hiring writers won’t cut it anymore. The content team will need to grow and adapt for the next year and should include people who are talented in:
- Video production and editing (think TV commercials tailored for Facebook)
- Graphic design, illustration, and editing (think infographics, animation and ebooks)
- Audio editing and production (audio articles and podcasts)
- Content distribution and promotion (Where to place it and how to promote it).
So, invest in your content team, consider outsourcing to specialist agencies and provide constant quality content for your customer base.
2. Influencer marketing keeps yielding results
In 2018 it’s not about whether you include influencer marketing in your marketing mix, but the percentage of your marketing budget you put towards it.
- 70% of millennials trust influencer and peer opinions over traditional celebrities
- 51% of marketers say video produces the best ROI
- 86% of women turn to social networks before purchasing
- 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase based on a social media reference.
If you are in a niche sector, working with micro influencers who have a smaller but higher engagement rate than traditional celebrities might work well for your brand. The key to influencer marketing is someone who is trusted and respected by your target audience.
3. Live video is exploding
Marketers and brands are jumping on the train to embrace live video content. Facebook video sees an average of 135% more organic reach than images. The engagement goes through the roof for live video. According to Facebook, users spent three times more time watching live videos than a video that’s no longer live. They also comment ten times more during live videos.
If that doesn’t convince you that you need to adopt live video for 2018, this may:
- 80% of social media users aged 18 to 35 said they would rather tune into a live video than read a blog post.
- 82% of those users were more interested in watching live video from a brand than reading social media posts.
- Start working with live video now — before your competitors do — to engage your audience.
IN YOUR TOOLKIT
Create engaging content
Here are three tools you can use to easily make all kinds of interactive content for your marketing campaigns.
Apester is a tool that allows you to easily create polls, surveys, personality tests, video quizzes, and a whole lot more to engage with your audience. Embed your creations into your regular blog content to create a truly interactive experience.
Go to: apester.com
Engageform is a super intuitive tool to create quizzes, surveys, and polls. The platform offers an impressive array of visual customisation options to make your content really stand out.
You can also easily embed and share your quiz, survey, or poll on your website or social media. Once people start interacting, you’ll get detailed reports of audience feedback, stats, and lead information.
Go to: 4screens.net/engageform/
Video is probably the most powerful content type marketers can use. But use a tool like Vizia, and you can take it to the next level. Vizia helps you create more engaging videos by adding questions and quizzes to collect feedback while people watch.
The tool makes it easy to quickly add multiple choice questions, polls, and short answer questions into your videos. Vizia videos integrate everywhere, including blogging platforms, e-commerce stores, and site builders. And the best part? It’s 100% free.
Go to: vizia.co
How Laughter Can Be Your Gateway To New Business
If you want to make sales, you need to connect with your clients. This is the secret sauce that great marketing gets right, and it has nothing to do with how big (or small) your budget is.
Like most kids, in my final year of high school I had to make a decision about my future; make a call about my career path. My head proclaimed: ‘Law!’ My guts rebelled: ‘Acting, yeah!’
My folks shrieked: ‘Acting? Do you intend on having a mortgage in your own name in your lifetime? You’ll never be able to afford a medical aid.’ Aside, but purposefully audible: ‘He’s never going to move out of home. Is he?’
So, I made a compromise. I studied a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in marketing communication and when I completed that formality, I chose ‘acting, yeah!’
Google: ‘Acting school Los Angeles’.
Result: TVI Actor’s Studio just outside Hollywood, paid my deposit, packed a large, hard-coated Delsey suitcase and moved to The Valley for six months, to ensure that Future Mike couldn’t resent the decisions made by Past Mike.
Those six months comprised: Drinking sake and barbecuing with Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz while he orchestrated acoustic magic on his guitar; eating home-made chocolate chip cookies baked by the sweet hands of Teri Hatcher when Desperate Housewives was the most popular TV series on the planet; smashing Grey Goose on the rocks during road trips to Vegas, ululating: ‘The Goose is looooooooose’, with my housemate Chris; ordering Animal Style Double Doubles from In-N-Out Burger but, most importantly, falling in love with the natural narcotic of stand-up comedy.
What. A. Rush. Pit of your stomach sickness, churning from line delivery, converting into convulsions of laughter, or the agony of the opposite side of the spectrum — the silent onstage assassination. Hopefully it’s the former.
Connecting with your clients
Stand-up and marketing are inextricably linked. This premise is how I live my career.
Every meeting is an opportunity to leverage humour in order to make an impact. Laughter is my gateway drug to new business. Also, the road to branded content creation is paved and then signposted in the fork of either ‘Emotion’ or ‘Humour’.
A decently written story — TV or YouTube commercial — with a quality DOP at the helm, accompanied by an orchestral score, can elevate a mediocre concept to Cannes Bronze status. The line between funny and farcical, however, is so fine.
Consider a comedian standing on stage at a club, squinting out into the blinding lights and judgemental faces of a multi-demographic audience, about to open his mouth and croak on stage for the very first time.
This also happens to be an analogy for the scenario facing the rookie social media community manager before he posts a hashtag-TBT, hashtag-blessed, hashtag-yawn piece of unoriginal content from a calendar, signed off by a marketing manager who doesn’t think their target market is on Twitter because they ‘definitely aren’t’.
Judy Carter, author of The Comedy Bible, simplifies the writing of comedic material into two components:
It sounds too simplistic. It isn’t. We like to complicate things in the world and business, in particular, to make us seem more impressive, smarter, to elevate ourselves. It’s about being a big dick, or as someone far more eloquent than I described it — Ego. **Hat tip to Freud.**
Comedy and communication
Back to comedy and communication. In both settings — whether you are looking to connect with an audience in a comedy club environment or engage with a target market in your next advertising campaign — it is imperative that you determine the key insight, truth or premise of your material.
When I started doing stand-up in US venues, I would open on the topic of accents, as my accent was my obvious USP or differentiator when communicating to an American audience.
‘Hi. My name is Mike and I’m from South Africa. That’s why I have an accent. And, what’s weird about accents is chicks LOVE accents’ — truth (premise). Regardless of the background of my audience — age, sex, location, creed, or affluence — they identify with the statement that I have an accent and consciously or subconsciously they agree with my words or copy (if we are referring to a campaign).
The second part pertains to the acting-out of the funny; the crafting of the humour. This requires a slick delivery and commitment to the idea in order to generate audience laughter.
So, we have the premise, then we transition — immediately — into the act-out to connect the dots between truth and funny within the audience members’ minds. Comedy is dependent on what you first tell, then show your audience, and eventually how your performance becomes a catalyst for their own imagination to carry the chuckle to its limits. When we package these elements together, the execution becomes:
- Premise: ‘Hi my name is Mike and I’m from South Africa. That’s why I have an accent. What’s weird about accents is chicks LOVE accents.’
- Premise part two: ‘You can be Shrek, but if you’re packing an accent, you’re getting some ass!’
Act-out. Left hand behind head. Pelvic thrusts while speaking seductively into the microphone with a Scottish accent á la Shrek, simulating a movement synonymous with making sexy time: ‘Oooooh, that’ll do, Donkey. That’ll do.’
Finding a connection
There are few things more powerful in this world than words that disrupt the audience thought process. Donkey-ass puns, turning Shrek’s line of affirmation for Donkey — from its intended feature film usage — on its head, by making it smartly sexual; generating mass hysteria from a group of previously disconnected individuals, now connected through the universal language of laughter.
The best advertising in the world does exactly this. It takes an insight (premise) that connects with you as an individual, forces you to nod your head in agreement, and then leverages a powerfully constructed set of copy lines or imagery to emotionally move you.
Laughter, goosebumps, or the development of a lump in your throat. Effective communication is something that facilitates catching feelings. Whether you are on stage delivering lines, or at your keyboard posting snaps, tweets or status updates, every character that comprises a word of each phrase needs to be a purposeful paragraph composition — not just a tick box on a to do list of monthly KPIs.
We will delve into real experiences throughout this collection of personal anecdotes, because nothing doth a bigger dick make than an ‘expert’ who has all of the theory and none of the practice.
This article is an excerpt from The Best Dick: A Candid Account of Building a $1 million business by Mike Sharman.
In this his debut business book, The Best Dick, Mike Sharman invites you to share in the hustle. From the enthusiastic, entrepreneurial beginnings of a bootstrapped start-up founder — a relatively inexperienced 26-year old — to a seasoned, professional storyteller, who has built a boutique social media advertising agency that has made more brands go viral, globally, than any other studio in Africa.
Find it at all good book stores for R250.
Get your copy today
Email Tracey McDonald at email@example.com and quote ‘Entrepreneur’ to buy your copy for R200 plus free shipping.
How Content Marketing Adds Real Value To Your Customers’ Lives
If you’re marketing on a budget, content marketing is a great way to reach your audience, add real value and gain brand traction – without breaking the bank.
Content marketing is a relatively new type of marketing that most businesses are still trying to get their heads around. Unlike traditional media advertising, which interrupts customers to get noticed, content marketing provides content that customers want in exchange for permission to market a product or service.
There’s a saying, fish where the fish are. Marketing is the same. You need your message to appear where your audience’s attention lies. I don’t believe billboards or even TV adverts hold consumer attention anymore. People aren’t looking at billboards as they drive past; most aren’t even looking at the road, they’re so busy staring at their mobile device or listening to a podcast.
The traditional advertising model creates ad content that interrupts consumers. Billboards, TV commercials and radio advertisements momentarily disrupt what you actually want to be doing — watching your favourite TV show or listening to a song or chat show.
These ads don’t provide any real value to the customer and they don’t offer an immediate reason to even be viewed or engaged with. Instead, they rely on good placement, clever wording and brilliant creativity to capture your attention for a brief period of time.
The rise of content marketing
In response to these problems and restrictions, content marketing is on the rise. As a marketing alternative, it’s not only more cost effective, but it doesn’t aim to interrupt your customer. Instead, it aims to add real value to their lives and businesses by plugging directly into their interests, problems and challenges.
So how does content marketing work? Companies and marketers create content in the form of blog posts, podcast recordings, downloadable guides and infographics, video content and articles that don’t push products, but offer interesting advice, tips and opinions.
The value to consumers is provided in two ways: As educational content and as entertainment content. In both cases, access to this content is free, heightening its value.
Get the most out of content marketing
Here are three ways to get the most out of your content marketing efforts:
- Provide content that your customers want. Don’t make the mistake of writing your blog posts about your business. Lesson number one is that people don’t care about your business. Provide valuable content that customers want and need in exchange for their attention. This content can be educational or entertaining. It can be a ‘How to Guide’, an in-depth stats-driven article or an entertaining video. Just make sure it’s about them, and not you.
- Focus on content for the customer’s benefit and only occasionally promote or push your product. This is the rule most brands and companies struggle to understand. If you’re going to provide value to your customers, you need to mostly write content for the customer’s benefit and only occasionally promote your products within the content. People are interested in articles and posts that benefit them, not ad posts touting how awesome your products are. Give your customers content that they want, and nine times out of ten you’ll be rewarded with engaged and targeted audiences.
- Write cornerstone content. Cornerstone content is content that can be easily found by your ideal customers. It’s content that provides incredible value to customers over a long period of time. How-To Guides, resources, 101 content and instructional videos all fall into this category. It should be content that customers can refer back to, and which has a long lifespan. This also immediately increases the ROI of your content production, as you only need to create the content once, but it will continue to bring returns.
Bringing it all together
As you make your final marketing push for the year and gear up for next year, make sure content marketing forms a vital part of your strategy. Learn to write engaging blog posts, invest in a podcast setup and push video content. No one is expecting your content to be perfect — you are the expert in your area, and have great advice to share. That’s what will keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.
Just remember that this is a long play. Success won’t happen overnight. It takes time to build momentum — but over time, you will notice increased traffic, more leads and more sales.
- Do you know what your clients are interested in, concerned with or challenged by?
- Are you offering advice, tips or opinions that tap into these areas?
- Does your content mostly focus on your clients and not you?
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