Cause-Related Marketing: Support or Scam?

Cause-related marketing campaigns seem like a win-win situation. Consumers and businesses help support wonderful causes while the benefiting organizations raise much-needed funds. Do they really make a difference though?

As in most cases, cause-related marketing brings both good and bad. As a consumer, you can ask a few questions to ensure you really are supporting a great cause.

Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives program

Since 1997, Yoplait has donated more than $34 million to breast cancer awareness through the Save Lids to Save Lives program, Race for the Cure and other initiatives.
Photo courtesy of Miss a Liss via Flickr

1) Is the cause meaningful to you? Do you believe in this organization and its mission? Target causes that you truly believe in and are close to your heart.

2) Who does the campaign benefit? Make sure that your purchase will support a reputable organization that will put the funds raised to good use. Charity Navigator is one place to check out nonprofit organizations that you’re not familiar with.

3) How is the program structured? Understand exactly how the charity will benefit through consumers’ purchases. For example, the sponsor may make a donation per purchase. Is the amount stated (i.e. 2% vs. 10%)? Is there a limit on the sponsoring company’s donation (i.e. first $100,000 raised)? Or is there a minimum amount to be raised before the company makes any donation?

4) How will the charity use the donated funds? Nonprofit organizations should be very clear on where their funds go, whether it be research, education, assisting those affected by their cause, administrative costs, etc.

5) Is the sponsoring company committed to the cause? If you’re not familiar with the company, review the packaging, display, in-store signage and/or literature for more information on its goals. Does it regularly support this cause? Does the company seem committed to making a difference?

Cause-related marketing programs can be a tremendous asset to nonprofit organizations or they can really be a scam. Do a little research to ensure that you are actually helping a worthy cause and that your hard-earned money wouldn’t be better spent.

For additional information:
Changing with the Times (MediaPost looks at what causes are hot in 2012.)
Yoplait Save Lids to Save Lives Program
Charity Navigator
Best Practices for Taking Up the Cause

Happy Boss’ Day to all of the great leaders out there!

Jaime

Mid-Year Review: How are you progressing on your business goals?

It’s nearing mid-June. How are you progressing on your business goals so far in 2019? 

Mid-Year Review: How are you progressing on your business goals?

One of our goals in 2019 was to get back to blogging on a regular basis. In January, we committed to the following in order to deliver more valuable contact to you:

  • Publishing at least two to three times per month—We’re about 50/50 on this goal right now, so we’re aiming to pick it up for the second half of the year. We published twice in January and April but missed February and March entirely. In May, we did manage to post while celebrating our 7th anniversary. 
  • Producing a variety of content types, including videos and long-form content—We’re doing a much better job of varying our content type, especially on social. We have noticed that videos perform best for us on Instagram and LinkedIn right now, while interactive polls work well in Instagram Stories. What type of blog content do you prefer? Are you looking for specific types of content on specific social platforms? 
  • Continuing to promote past content that’s still relevant—We’re doing a much better job of continuing to promote past content and repurposing content, a vital part of our content strategy this year. Are you repurposing content to maximize its value? Are you interested in tips on getting more mileage out of your original content?  
  • Sharing six guest posts to provide diverse view points—We need your help! Despite repeated requests, we haven’t published a single guest post so far this year. Are you interested in contributing? Please see below for more information, or contact us with your idea. 

Why did we commit to these goals for our blog?

 

Publishing Frequency

We’ve noticed that we receive more consistent blog traffic when we’re publishing consistently. You probably will too. While we would all love to publish valuable content daily, it’s important to be honest with yourself. What type of schedule can you commit to? How many resources can you devote to your blog and content marketing efforts?

Our clients always come first at CCC, so we’re committing to a minimum of two blog posts a month this year and hoping to publish more. That will give us time to research our posts, ask for feedback from our audience and publish content that will help you with your marketing efforts.

We’ll be publishing on Tuesdays at 10 AM ET, because the most popular day and time to visit the CCC blog is currently mid-day on Tuesdays. [UPDATE: We’re seeing more visitors and views early on Wednesday mornings, but for now we’re sticking to our scheduling time for consistency. It hasn’t moved that much from the beginning of the year, so it’s not worth changing yet.] Check your analytics to find when traffic spikes to your blog, so you can plan your publishing schedule accordingly. Note that it will change, so it’s important to check in occasionally. 

Content Variety

In the past, we’ve shared mostly traditional blog posts, so we’re looking to mix it up a bit in 2019. Over the past year, we did introduce our first vlogs (or video blog posts), and our ebook continues to be a hit. What types of content work the best for you? What types of content do you prefer to consume?

While there is no perfect blog post length (or publishing frequency), we’re also interested in creating more long-form content. While the criteria of this category continues to be debated, it does perform well overall. Some of our more recent posts were longer than normal, and they continue to draw traffic. We’ve also done a better job of continuing to promote these posts after initially publishing them.

Putting the ‘Marketing’ in Content Marketing

Promoting your content is just as important as creating it. You need a content distribution plan as part of your overall content marketing strategy. Do you have a distribution plan after publishing a blog post? Or do you just hope readers will share it?

We’ve been guilty in the past of only sharing our content shortly after we publish it and then forgetting about it. Don’t make the same mistake! You can get more use out of your content by continuing to promote it (as long as it’s still relevant), and re-purposing content in different formats for different social platforms. For example, you can share individual tips on Twitter from a long-form blog post, or you can create short marketing minute videos for Instagram from a written blog post. Then, refer your communities to your post for more helpful marketing tips.

Speaking of content distribution, how do you like to learn about new blog posts? Email notifications? RSS feeds? Social media? Let us know how you like to stay up-to-date on your favorite blogs.

What is Evergreen Content? A Guide to Long-Lasting Content That Boosts SEO

Guest Posts (This is where you come in!)

The CCC blog has benefited from an array of guest bloggers in the past, and we want to continue to add diverse voices to the mix in 2019.

We’re looking for people who want to share their experiences and ideas in marketing, writing, social media and small business/entrepreneurship. We don’t like to require a specific word count, although we are interested in publishing more long-form content this year. We’re also open to vlogs, mixed media posts and other interactive ideas you have.

Run a successful marketing campaign? We’d love to share how you did it. Want to give quick writing tips that work for you? Our audience is interested. Have you had success on a particular social platform or want to discuss ideas for a new feature? We’d be happy to publish your savvy social media marketing skills or tips for our readers. Have you achieved success as an entrepreneur or small business owner? Our audience is interested in hearing how you did it.

We realize that our guidelines aren’t highly specific. That’s because we’ve had success with a wide range of content in the aforementioned categories. The diversity of topics within marketing, writing, social media and small business/entrepreneurship keep our content fresh and readers tuned in.

We’ll be happy to discuss your idea or look over an outline before you write your post, so we can give you feedback. We realize what you put into a successful blog post, so we want to make sure you receive a return on your investment. In addition, we’ll publish your photo, company/blog name, social media handles, contact information and website along with your post.

Speak Up! Share Your Progress on Your 2019 Goals 

We’ve shared progress on one of our 2019 goals—recommitting to providing you valuable content through the CCC blog. How are you progressing on your brand’s goals this year? Comment below or share your goal progress or updates with us on social!

We wish all of our loyal readers a strong second half!

Thanks for reading,
Jaime

Let’s get social! Share your 2019 goals progress, marketing questions or favorite summer activities with us on the platforms below.

What are your business goals in 2019?

While we don’t make New Year’s resolutions, we do set goals for our business at CCC. One of our goals in 2019 is to get back to blogging on a regular basis. In order to deliver valuable content to you, we’re committing to the following:

  • Publishing at least two to three times per month
  • Producing a variety of content types, including videos and long-form content
  • Continuing to promote past content that’s still relevant
  • Sharing six guest posts to provide diverse view points

Why?

Publishing Frequency

We’ve noticed that we receive more consistent blog traffic when we’re publishing consistently. You probably will too. While we would all love to publish valuable content daily, it’s important to be honest with yourself. What type of schedule can you commit to? How many resources can you devote to your blog and content marketing efforts?

Our clients always come first at CCC, so we’re committing to a minimum of two blog posts a month this year and hoping to publish more. That will give us time to research our posts, ask for feedback from our audience and publish content that will help you with your marketing efforts.

We’ll be publishing on Tuesdays at 10 AM ET, because the most popular day and time to visit the CCC blog is currently mid-day on Tuesdays. Check your analytics to find when traffic spikes to your blog, so you can plan your publishing schedule accordingly. Note that it will change, so it’s important to check in occasionally.

Content Variety

In the past, we’ve shared mostly traditional blog posts, so we’re looking to mix it up a bit in 2019. Over the past year, we did introduce our first vlogs (or video blog posts), and our ebook continues to be a hit. What types of content work the best for you? What types of content do you prefer to consume?

While there is no perfect blog post length (or publishing frequency), we’re also interested in creating more long-form content. While the criteria of this category continues to be debated, it does perform well overall. Some of our more recent posts were longer than normal, and they continue to draw traffic. We’ve also done a better job of continuing to promote these posts after initially publishing them.

Putting the ‘Marketing’ in Content Marketing

Promoting your content is just as important as creating it. You need a content distribution plan as part of your overall content marketing strategy. Do you have a distribution plan after publishing a blog post? Or do you just hope readers will share it?

We’ve been guilty in the past of only sharing our content shortly after we publish it and then forgetting about it. Don’t make the same mistake! You can get more use out of your content by continuing to promote it (as long as it’s still relevant), and re-purposing content in different formats for different social platforms. For example, you can share individual tips on Twitter from a long-form blog post, or you can create short marketing minute videos for Instagram from a written blog post. Then, refer your communities to your post for more helpful marketing tips.

Speaking of content distribution, how do you like to learn about new blog posts? Email notifications? RSS feeds? Social media? Let us know how you like to stay up-to-date on your favorite blogs.

What is Evergreen Content? A Guide to Long-Lasting Content That Boosts SEO

Guest Posts

The CCC blog has benefited from an array of guest bloggers in the past, and we want to continue to add diverse voices to the mix in 2019.

We’re looking for people who want to share their experiences and ideas in marketing, writing, social media and small business/entrepreneurship. We don’t like to require a specific word count, although we are interested in publishing more long-form content this year. We’re also open to vlogs, mixed media posts and other interactive ideas you have.

Run a successful marketing campaign? We’d love to share how you did it. Want to give quick writing tips that work for you? Our audience is interested. Have you had success on a particular social platform or want to discuss ideas for a new feature? We’d be happy to publish your savvy social media marketing skills or tips for our readers. Have you achieved success as an entrepreneur or small business owner? Our audience is interested in hearing how you did it.

We realize that our guidelines aren’t highly specific. That’s because we’ve had success with a wide range of content in the aforementioned categories. The diversity of topics within marketing, writing, social media and small business/entrepreneurship keep our content fresh and readers tuned in.

We’ll be happy to discuss your idea or look over an outline before you write your post, so we can give you feedback. We realize what you put into a successful blog post, so we want to make sure you receive a return on your investment. In addition, we’ll publish your photo, company/blog name, social media handles, contact information and website along with your post.

Speak Up! Share Your 2019 Goals 

We’ve shared one of our 2019 goals—recommitting to providing you valuable content through the CCC blog. What are your brand’s goals this year? Comment below or share your goals with us on social!

We wish all of our valued readers a happy, healthy and successful year!

Thanks for reading,
Jaime

Let’s get social! Share your 2019 goals, marketing questions or favorite sports teams with us on the platforms below.

4 Retro Ways to Connect with Modern Audiences

Everywhere we look lately, from entertainment to business, what’s old is new again. Well established franchises are selling out movie theaters, the toy aisle is straight out of the eighties and businesses everywhere are turning back the clock to stand out in this fast-paced, digital world.

Clearly Conveyed Communications -- We give you a voice.

How can you go retro to connect with customers and grow your business today?

Make it personal with a handwritten note. When you receive a handwritten note, card or letter, it feels more personal. The recipient will appreciate that you took the time to put your thoughts on paper. The next time you want to thank a loyal customer or employee, don’t send an email. Jot down why you appreciate the recipient and how much you value the relationship, job he’s doing, etc. A little writing will go a long way!

How House of Cards is Winning the Marketing Game

Develop long-term relationships. Relationship marketing is a buzzword today, but the concept is straight out of a bygone era. Take the time to get to know your clients and employees, business partners and vendors. Let them know you’re in it for the long haul, not just a short-term sale. People want to do business with people they trust and that takes time to develop.

Give your audience your undivided attention. Viewers loved the alcohol carts in offices on Mad Men, but many of them missed the point. The ad men (and few women) would sit down and spend time with their clients when they stopped in. They weren’t too busy running from meeting to meeting to listen to their clients’ challenges and concerns. Many creative solutions were born over Old Fashioneds with no outside interruptions.

Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

Embrace paper in the digital age. In an age of email and the cloud, using paper is one way to grab recipients’ waning attention. Feature direct mail in your next marketing campaign, and reorder your physical business cards. In fact, go old school — embossing, engraving, bold lettering and colors set off with white space — to stand out from your competition. Going all digital removes your audience’s sense of touch, which limits their sensory experience while interacting with your brand.

In Summary

Handwritten notes, developing long-term relationships, giving your undivided attention and embracing paper will help you connect with today’s audiences. Don’t be afraid to be different, even if that means being inspired by a bygone era.

We’re grabbing our fedoras to head out for Old Fashioneds and Vodka Martinis with clients. Care to join us?

Embracing the future with help from the past,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about building relationships, your communications needs or otherwise):
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50 Things I’m Grateful For… Summer 2016 Edition

The days are getting longer, baseball’s back and it’s time for the annual listing of 50 things I’m grateful for. This tradition started back in 2012 and is a post that I look forward to all year.

I’d love for you to add your list to the comments or share your blog post with us, so we can read and share everyone’s lists.

50 Things I’m Grateful For… Summer 2016 Edition

 

  • crushed red pepper
  • Gnome, Penelope & Mojo (CCC’s hard-working staff!)
  • home sweet home
  • chiropractors
  • a sunny afternoon
  • espresso (fueling CCC since 2012)
  • newspapers and journalists
  • vegetarian enfrijoladas
  • awesome clients (who pay promptly)
  • Netflix
  • touchscreen laptops
  • WiFi
  • the power of social media (when used for social good)
  • patios on summer days
  • Grease

 

 

  • laughter and conversation
  • travel, business or pleasure
  • quality design
  • daydreaming
  • handwritten cards and notes
  • adult coloring books
  • my nephew
  • CCC’s online community
  • getting lost in a good book
  • a platform to publish
  • furry friends
  • unplugging
  • fun socks
  • friends & family
  • a night at the ballpark

 

That’s my list on May 24, 2016! What are you grateful for today?

Usually smiling & always grateful,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about what you’re grateful for, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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The Art of Follow-Up

It’s an integral part of the marketing process yet most marketers don’t do it. Unfortunately, not following up on your marketing efforts leads to missed opportunities and sales.

"Over Coffee" by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Do you excel at the art of follow-up?

We get it. You’re busy. You meant to follow up on the leads from the tradeshow or a marketing campaign or your latest email newsletter, but other things got in the way. Your boss called. Your kids got home from school. Life happened.

What’s the big deal?

The business-to-business (B2B) buying cycle is longer than business-to-consumer (B2C) and typically involves more people. You have to spend more time nurturing prospects and may have to touch them 7, 8 or 9 times (or more) before getting a sale.

How Many Touches Make a Sale?

While you would love to send out an email newsletter and have your website flooded with orders, that rarely happens. However, with the analytics available today, you can see who opened your newsletter the most and what links they clicked on, along with other data. Follow up with these prospects! They’re interested and may have been interrupted by life before reaching out to you.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  -George Bernard Shaw, author

Now here’s the fun part. How do you consistently follow up with people without being annoying?

  1. Get Social — It’s helpful to be connected to your customers and prospects on social media (business accounts at least), so you can engage with them. Each like of a post or retweet is a soft touch and reminds the person that you’re available.
  2. Note Communication Preferences — You have a slew of communication options at your fingertips today, but your customers and prospects probably have a preference. If Bob prefers Facebook Messenger, send him a message. If Sally would rather talk on the phone, give her a call.
  3. Be Customer-Focused — Yes, you want the sale but that’s not your customer’s or prospect’s issue. Let them know why you’re following up: so they don’t miss incredible savings or show up at their tradeshow next week empty-handed. How is closing this sale going to help them?
  4. Be Flexible — If you’re not hearing back, offer to schedule a quick call or visit when it’s most convenient for your customer or prospect. Let them know that you value their time and will be brief. It may be easier for your customer to meet you at a coffee shop for lunch or talk on their way to pick up their kids after work.

Following up is extra work but it also leads to more opportunities and sales, especially when done right. Use your data to decide where your best opportunities lie, but be human when reaching out to your customers and prospects. The art of follow-up is one of those things that computers just don’t understand, and that’s a good thing. 🙂

Feedback on Following Up

How do you decide when to follow up with customers and prospects?

Have you noticed your customers’ communication preferences?

Do you need more targeted leads to follow up on? CCC is Inbound Certified and we make marketing that people love. Let’s talk about how we can help you. 

Pic credit: Over Coffee by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.o

Happy Follow-Up Friday!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about follow-up, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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On Writing: Lessons From The Breakfast Club

Last night, I took a trip back to high school with the “Brat Pack” to good ole Shermer High. It’s easy to see why The Breakfast Club became a cult classic and iconic portrait of high school in the 80s and beyond.

the Breakfast Club castThe main lesson of the film is one to remember when writing (or creating marketing campaigns). Don’t stick with stereotypes. Sure, it’s easier, and somewhat expected, but it doesn’t allow you to create rich, three-dimensional characters.

In the movie, five high school students from different cliques end up spending their Saturday in detention together. At first, they only take each other at face value and think the others are shallow representations of the stereotypes they represent: the Jock, the Princess, the Brain, the Basket Case and the Criminal.

After spending an eventful day together discussing their lives and outwitting their “evil” principal, Mr. Vernon, the group realizes that they have more in common than they thought — mainly that they all have issues with their parents. (What teenagers don’t? 🙂 )

But the main theme of the film is stereotypes, and how they don’t fit very well. Sure, Andrew Clark (played by Emilio Estevez) is a talented varsity wrestler, but he also has feelings and isn’t stupid. Plus, he admits toward the end of the film that he feels so much pressure to excel at wrestling and please his “old man” that he sometimes wishes he couldn’t wrestle at all. This theme continues with the other characters.

As Brian’s paper, on behalf of the group, concludes at the end of the film, “You see us as you want to see us — in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…

and an athlete…

and a basket case…

a princess…

and a criminal…

Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.”

Join the Club!

  • Which character did you resonate with the most?
  • Did Allison’s character sell out?
  • What was your favorite moment in The Breakfast Club?
  • What books or authors (or marketing campaigns) move beyond stereotypes?

Rooting for the Brain,
Jaime

p.s. Do you feel like you’re stuck in detention when you try to write? Let CCC help!

Marketing, writing, social media and random 80s movies quotes:
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What You’re DOING is the Story

Clearly Conveyed Communications is pleased to welcome its second guest blogger, Roger Burnett, CAS. Read on for Roger’s expertise in the marketing arena, specifically content marketing, which is a hot topic today. You can learn more about Roger at the end of his insightful post.

***************

What's your bulls-eye?We’re a new business within an existing company: a start-up within an established, proven organization. While it’s thrilling to get the chance to conduct experiments on how to successfully market oneself with a disruptive, never-been-done-before concept that meets a hugely underserved market need, I’m acutely aware of the fact that I am essentially a charity of my employer until our business unit routinely pays for itself.

The self-imposed bulls-eye I’ve created keeps me focused on the task at hand. While the fact that ours is a needed service makes it easy for me to generate leads, I have to be mindful of ways to amplify my reach beyond my own efforts and the goodwill of our brand in the market we serve in order to get to the next self-imposed bulls-eye.

We won’t be successful for the long term without some marketing Sonic Booms: the kind of campaigns that send our inside sales team in motion with a flood of activity. Knowing full well that a significant part of what’s necessary to create a pipeline of Sonic Boom moments is my responsibility, it keeps me looking for ways to create them.

“We won’t be successful for the long term without some marketing Sonic Booms: the kind of campaigns that send our inside sales team in motion with a flood of activity.”

I’ve studied content marketing as a principle for a while now. For the majority of the last two years with my former employer, I challenged our marketing team to create things that solved specific problems for our clients and package them in a way that allowed our salespeople to immediately understand:

1)      To whom to deliver the message, and

2)     How to execute on the client-facing call to action.

Once proficient at doing so, the transformation we saw with both our account teams and clients was nothing short of remarkable. Suddenly, our clients became more collaborative with us as we set them on a defined road map toward their stated objectives. Because of the attitude change in their clients, our account teams quickly picked up on what was working and started expanding the reach into more accounts. Good salespeople are smart enough to know how to repeat success; if they see a client nodding their heads yes to a solution, good salespeople immediately identify similar buyers that will ALSO nod their head.

“If they see a client nodding their heads yes to a solution, good salespeople immediately identify similar buyers that will ALSO nod their head.”

That early success fuels my content marketing philosophy in my current role. I’ve been steadily building a library of information that serves a similar purpose for this new client base of mine.  I’m fortunate as my prospects and clients are mainly former competitors and co-workers, so I have an intimate understanding of how what we’re doing solves problems for them and can speak to them as if I am one of them, as I was for a significant part of my career. Our solutions are built with them and their specific challenges in mind.

Expertise is wasted, however, if people looking for the kind of information you have don’t know how to find you, or that you even exist.

Sonic Booms fuel your marketing campaigns.Hence the need for those previously mentioned Sonic Booms. Nothing fuels your Sonic Boom pipeline better than content, and we’ve settled on a rotation of 12 potential touches with our suspect and prospect base, one per month. The rotation consists of a number of things, some of which are of our own creation and some of which have been curated from the sources that we most closely watch for information, in a variety of formats and delivery mechanisms. Remember, just because it’s not new to you doesn’t mean it won’t be of value to someone else. We are always on the lookout for new and relevant information, and seek new sources for the kind of information we believe would be valuable to our client and prospect base.

Our content is meant to help people looking for answers better understand how to be successful; if they choose to work with us as a result of our sharing the things we find that can make people better at what they do, then that’s a great way to start a new working relationship.  If not, no harm, no foul.

“Remember, just because it’s not new to you doesn’t mean it won’t be of value to someone else.”

When the content we publish resonates with the right audience, the results can be remarkable. Consider the following statistics that followed some of our content marketing efforts this year:

1) Our monthly webinar was filled to capacity in less than 24 hours after it was announced for the first time in company history. We had more requests for recorded versions of that introductory webinar than for every other webinar we’ve done – COMBINED. Clearly our business concept was of interest to the community we offered it to.

2) Our e-mail marketing campaigns are sent from the personal e-mail addresses of our team members so as not to appear to come from a robot. On TWO occasions this year, the response to our e-mail call to action was SO overwhelming it literally shut down my e-mail account. We have an internal goal of replying to all e-mail we receive the same day…. I was up until two in the morning to be sure that I responded to everyone personally.

It’s my belief that we’ve reached Sonic Boom four times so far this year, and our ability to grow our prospect and business pipeline has been exponential. We’ve got a ways to go, but what we’re doing so far appears to be working as the statistics show.

As you consider what I’ve said, know that our touches are nothing more than ways for us to share with people the interesting things we’re doing as part of our day-to-day activities. We’re just taking the trouble to document them in new and interesting ways and finding ways to share it with the people that might want to know about what we’re doing. It’s not complicated, as long as you know what it is you’re good at.

What you’re DOING is the story.

burnett_headshot

Roger Burnett, CAS
Vice President, iClick

While Roger Burnett is Vice President at award-winning promotional products supplier iClick, he also proclaims himself Maintenance Supervisor of the Worldwide Negativity Defense System. A gardener by marriage that laughs too loud but never too often, Roger stays busy as a father of 3 boys and an active outdoorsman. He’s an occasional writer, and you can check out his work at promokitchen.com

The Art of Branding

Branding is a buzz word today, so everyone wants to drop it like the name of the hottest new rapper out there. While it’s overused and abused, it’s still an instrumental element to companies and people everywhere.

“Good brands are able to set the tone, create the scene, and make us a part of it all.”  –Danny Trizio

We’re all brands, you and me, Apple and Google. Living, breathing entities that customers and fans connect with, get to know and enter into relationships with. Sound strange? OK, think about why you buy an iPhone instead of another smartphone or why you choose Google over Bing. It may be a subconscious choice, but it’s not likely random.

Apple ad

Apple has designed a brand with staying power.

Of course, some brands get it more than others. The aforementioned Apple is one of the strongest brands alive today, and this is coming from an Android fan. I came across a blog post by Danny Trizio, marketing campaign manager at Proforma, touching on why Apple ‘gets it,’ so I’ll let him explain.

Along with the tech icon, another brand who forges a deep bond with customers is ABSOLUT. (Full disclosure: I am a customer!) I previously offered a toast to this icon for its fine take on branding.

ABSOLUT UNIQUE

One of a kind, millions of expressions…
ABSOLUT UNIQUE

Keep in mind that it’s not only industry leaders who can develop strong brands. While I’m a fan (and heavy user) of Starbucks, I also love our local spot, Angel Falls Coffee Company. It’s located in a neighborhood with a unique flavor that loves to support mom and pop shops. Angel Falls embraces its role as a local favorite, with an eclectic spot that welcomes you in to play some checkers, discuss current events or people watch while enjoying its brew (and a delicious, fresh out of the oven baked good).

So how can I bond with two brands in the same industry? First, as previously noted on this blog, I’m an espresso addict. Second, I patronize both of these companies on different occasions. I love to walk to Angel Falls to enjoy a steaming GingerBeast (relax, it’s only a gingerbread latte) while catching up with a friend or gazing out the front picture window, lost in thought.

Starbucks is a different breed. It’s everywhere, so I can stop in for a mouth-watering soy hazelnut macchiato, breakfast sandwich or old fashioned glazed doughnut whenever I want. The breakfast sandwiches are available all day, so it’s perfectly OK if I want breakfast for dinner or am really slow moving on a lazy Sunday. I can meet business associates or customers there to discuss projects while enjoying the breeze on the patio. One of the main reasons I became a Starbucks fan is the company’s prevalence in airports. I could grab an espresso and Perfect Oatmeal (which fits neatly on top of a lidded Starbucks cup, by the way) en route to my connecting flight at 7am. Haven’t we all been there?!

Now that I’m not traveling so much, I find that I love hitting up my local Starbucks, which makes every effort to fit into the community. Its baristas are some of the happiest people I see all day, the atmosphere is conducive to thinking (which I like to do) and this coffee giant’s reward program is phenomenal. I was pretty excited when I received my gold card in the mail this week. Brightened up my Monday!

Follow my take on my favorite brands on Pinterest

Chime In

So, who are some of your favorite brands? Who ‘gets’ the power of branding?

Did I miss the boat on any brand I referenced above? Who did I miss?

Let your voice be heard!

(Oh, and I’d be remiss not to mention my favorite brand, Clearly Conveyed Communications.)

Apple ad courtesy of Apple, Inc
ABSOLUT UNIQUE photo courtesy of ABSOLUT US

Cheers,
Jaime

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How to Connect with Customers in the Age of Assistance

We’re living in the age of assistance. What does that mean for marketers?

Marketing tips in the age of assistance
Customers have more options than ever before today, thanks to technology. Therefore, each buyer’s journey is unique and customers are looking for valuable content to educate themselves before making a purchase.

“Focus on the user and all else will follow.”

Your marketing strategy needs to be focused on your customer or prospect. Where do they look for information? How do they like to shop? How do they like to interact with brands?

If people need help, they usually start with Google. (While the search giant reaches 93% of US consumers, note that your customer base or target audience may use Bing or another search engine. It’s important to know where your customers go.) We’re busy, distracted and always on the go, so people are searching on mobile, including reviews, for information to make decisions in the moment.

Consider this example… Jon is working at home when he hears water running. The problem is that he’s not running any water. After heading upstairs, he realizes that his toilet is overflowing. He lives in an older home, so there’s no shut-off for the toilet; he needs to turn off his water at the main shut-off. Quickly, he Googles shut off water main and finds a YouTube video showing him how to locate his main water valve and shut it off. Jon follows the directions and shuts off his water before suffering any damage. Who does he call to fix the toilet? The local plumbing company who provided the video, of course.

Note that this local company gave Jon the information he needed first. He didn’t have to dig through their website or sit through a sales pitch beforehand. Educating consumers before you ask for a purchase or deliver a call-to-action (CTA) drives business.

 

Meet People in the Moment

People are living in the moment today, so they rarely plan in advance. Jon probably should have known where his main water shut-off valve was, but he had recently moved in and hadn’t gotten around to finding it yet. He’s not alone.

Mobile searches for today, tomorrow or now are up 900%. Our phones are never out of reach, so it’s always convenient to find the information we need—in a traffic jam, at the doctor’s office or at your kid’s ballet recital.

How can you meet your customers or prospects in the moment?

Start where they start: Google yourself.

Google yourself, your category and your business. Do you like what you see?

 

Google yourself, your category and your business (in incognito mode, if you prefer). Do you like what you see? Are you providing valuable content to help your customers and prospects educate themselves and move along the buyer’s journey? Or are you only asking for the buy? Be a part of the conversation along the entire journey, so consumers can get to know your company and form an emotional connection with you. If you just show up at the end when consumers are ready to buy, they’re likely to go with another company who has been there all along the way.

While we’re on this subject, does your business have a Google My Business listing? If not, set one up. This free resource helps you connect with customers across Google Search and Maps, boosting your SEO efforts. Remember to include a phone number too. It allows people to quickly call you, which could be the difference between you getting an opportunity or your competitor.

While Google My Business is an important starting point, don’t stop there. Tracking how your customers first found you is important, but so is measuring every moment that matters to your business. Each buyer’s journey is unique today, so you need to track every interaction with your customer and map out their individual customer journey.

Your customer may have found your company through Google, but then she visited your website, read a few blog articles to learn more about a subject that interested her and connected with you on your Facebook Page. After those steps, she contacted you to discuss a project. If she hadn’t made all of those steps, she may not have ever contacted you to do business. That’s why it’s so important to measure every interaction or touch point with your customers, so you understand how they want to be communicated with and helped along their unique buyer’s journey.

 

Make an Emotional Connection

People are looking for more from brands and businesses today. They don’t want to just buy stuff; they want to support companies who have similar values to theirs and are good corporate citizens.

Tell your brand’s story: how you got started, why you’re in business and the faces behind the brand name. Talk about your charitable efforts and community involvement, so customers can see your values in action. They want to know where their hard-earned dollars are going and what kind of company they’re supporting. Tell your founder’s story and shine the spotlight on your employees with behind-the-scenes content, including how your product is made, a day in the life or following employees outside the office.

Creating an emotional connection with your audience is crucial to your marketing and sales efforts.

 

While customers want to get to know your business or brand, they also want to be entertained. Most people make decisions emotionally and then look for rational reasons to support their decisions—especially when we’re making so many decisions today in the moment.

So, your content needs to educate, entertain and connect with your customer on an emotional level. In fact, advertising campaigns are twice as likely to perform well if they contain emotional content instead of rational content. Buyers consuming your content want to feel a connection with your brand—not think about how your brand will help them.

In 2019, we average a 3-second attention span online, so you need to grab a viewer’s attention quickly. Create joy or surprise right away to keep viewers engaged with your content. Consumers get distracted every 10 minutes, on average, and take three minutes to refocus, so you’ll need to keep them engaged the entire time they’re consuming your content. If you lose them, they may jump to something else and never come back.

3 Key Principles in the Age of Assistance

  1. Be There—Connect with the right people during key moments of intent.
  2. Be Valuable—Give consumers the information they need where they are.
  3. Be Quick—Automatically act on intent. Consumers expect quick responses today!

As marketing professionals, how can you deliver on these three key principles?

  1. Know Your Audience—Go beyond demographics to target consumers effectively. Detailed buyer personas are important!
  2. Know Your Brand’s Story—Tell your story, so your audience can understand your values and connect with your business on an emotional level.
  3. Conceptualize the Space—Understand the marketing domains your customers are operating in so well that you know the best ways to connect and communicate with them in those areas.
  4. Self-Educate—Marketing knowledge is constantly updating today, so you need to always be learning.

Understanding your customers (beyond simple demographics) is so important today, because you need to meet them where they are when they need you. What data do you have on your customers (that you’re protecting)? How can you leverage that data to better serve them (not to sell to them)?

Knowing how your customers first heard of you is no longer enough. Go beyond the first click to measure every interaction or touch point with your buyer. It will change your understanding of how each customer wants to be communicated with and helped along the way.

Follow your customers across social media platforms (however they use them) to email and messaging services to brick and mortar locations. We’re living in the age of assistance where micro-moments and individual interactions matter for your business. How are you making the most of every single one?

Questions? Comments? Leave your feedback We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Are you struggling to connect with your customers in the age of assistance? Let’s discuss how we can help you with your marketing efforts!

Let’s connect,
Jaime