Vintage Juice Blog

Vintage Juice Blog

Brand Marketing and Beyond

B2B Branding & Marketing – Digital Transformation Effects More Than IT

As digital transformation disrupts how most companies do business e.g., forcing major technology changes, new business processes and new challenges for HR – it’s imperative that the brand and marketing succinctly and boldly communicates these changes – whether B2B or B2C Branding and Marketing.

A few brand related questions to consider as you invest in new technologies, processes and people to stay ahead of the competition, better serve your customers and improve communication between all stakeholders :

  1. Does your current brand reflect the benefits of the new and improved business? Ask your customers, ask an outsider.
  2. Have you determined the primary (most profitable) target audience that will benefit?
  3. What is your marketing plan to introduce the new offering to that audience – current clients/customers as well as inactive clients that might return?
  4. What new audiences will your brand now resonate with ?
  5. If one of the new audiences are Millennials, they are researchers, want all information before making a purchase decision. Do you have a mobile website or better yet, a mobile app to provide that information to them?
  6. Does your brand appeal to them? A smart daring message and sharp graphics?
  7. How are your competitors communicating changes to their infrastructure? Better yet, what aren’t they saying? There’s your opportunity.
  8. What new marketing opportunities does this digital age provide?
  9. Is your website optimized for the new offering – i.e., content and search engine optimization?

Change isn’t a bad thing…

In answering the above questions, you might determine your logo, tagline, key messaging no longer supports your new approach. Don’t think of it as hurdle, it’s the perfect opportunity to relaunch your brand to current customers, gives you a real reason to contact them and introduce your new and improved level of service. And, it adds substance to reaching out to media. A rebrand forces executives to come together and articulate key differentiators, how to communicate the benefit of them, and identify new marketing tools to reach new audiences.

Learn More About Re-Branding Steps

Exactly Who is Your Competition? Key to standing out in a crowded market…

As part of a brand or marketing analysis, it is very important to determine:

  • what your competitors are communicating online and offline
  • what their customers are saying about them
  • and most importantly, what competitors aren’t saying that your business does well

The Real Competition – A traditional competitive analysis, detailed above, is the baseline. It is good to keep an eye on similar products/brands. However, the building blocks to ongoing marketing and product/service improvements should not be based on what competing brands are doing. Instead, day in and day out, concentrate on your real competition: every “obstacle your customer encounters along their journey to solve the human, high-level problem your company exists to solve.” (Harvard Business Review, Competition, Obsess Over Your Customers, Not Your Rivals by Tara-Nicholle Nelson).

As mentioned in the Harvard article, focusing on competitive products/services often leads to “me-too” products which puts you into a pricing war (i.e., commodity) or could potentially be pointing you down a path of creating and pushing an offering that customers might not have liked that much in the first place!

You and your team’s efforts should be spent truly understanding who your most profitable target audience is, their needs and desires, and the obstacles your company solves for them. That audience may or may not be the majority of your current customer base. Maybe there is a problem that exists that your product or service solves, that is not being communicated?

Research is key, and it is at your fingertips.  For example:

  • IT Consulting Company? Start a LinkedIn group, asking CIOs and CTOs to join the conversation around the topic of hurdles to overcome to maximize ROI in technology and services.
  • Medical practice? Read the Yelp and Google reviews for your practice and similar practices, take notice of trends the reviews might highlight, i.e., we love going to Dr. Smith, she accommodates our schedule with weekend and early morning appointments.
  • Retail? Talk to your customers… Give them products they don’t normally buy to try in return for a 10 minute conversation with them after they use the product. What did they love, what didn’t they like and most importantly, what problem did it solve?

Don’t go with the status quo. Allow time to take a step back, analyze the real needs of your audience as compared to your passion. Why did you start your organization ? Are you being true to your “why”? It is often the intersection of the business owner’s why and the real needs of your audience (problems solved) that bring profitability and most importantly, joy in what you do. It matters.

Spinning Your Wheels on Marketing?

More than likely, it’s not the marketing, it’s the message. 

I often hear from clients, we spend tons of money on direct mail (or print advertising or social media) and results are less than 1% ROI. No bueno.

So, what’s the answer? 

  • What’s your Why? People don’t buy what you do, but instead, why you do it. They want to be inspired, appeal to their gut feeling/intuition.
  • Pinpoint what your business does differently and better than competition (based on your why).
  • Define what audience is eager for that offering, and within that audience, which is the most profitable
  • Create messaging around that offering that is bold, creative – a true stop them in their tracks and make them think, want to learn more
  •  Research and develop a marketing plan to deliver that message or series of messages to your most profitable target audience using the communication tools they are most likely to use.

Differentiators – Best Quality, Best Service, Lowest Prices are NOT differentiators, most people say that, most customers don’t believe it until they experience your product or service, don’t waste time saying it, especially in the 8-10 seconds you have to first catch their attention. What’s the true differentiator? The intersection between what competitors are NOT saying and the true, genuine WHY you started your business. I facilitate messaging workshops with business owners and executives that includes taking an objective look at what competitors are saying and compare that to the true WHY of the organization, as well as its weaknesses. The methodology always results in a differentiator resonates – as well as creative ideas to communicate it.

Most Profitable Target Audience Your business cannot be all things to all people, unless you have a boatload of money to spend (throw away). The most successful businesses start with one very specific target audience and offering. Reaching 10,000 high-income residents within 1-2 miles of your business with a message that appeals to their lifestyle has resulted in 30% response rates vs. a generic message to the entire population with less than 1% return. Even if 1% of a larger population nets the same number of individuals reached as the 30% of 10,000 (3,000) a generic message to all falls flat, resulting in:

  • lower sales per person
  • one-time customers, never to return
  • often, bad online reviews. Why? They don’t understand your WHY, they aren’t your audience.

As part of our methodology we conduct focus groups and one-on-one interviews with our clients’ various audiences. With data in hand, we narrow down the most profitable audiences and develop personas for each, as the go-to for all new marketing initiatives.

Bold Messaging  – Don’t wimp out. And, don’t try to develop it yourself. Shameless plug, but, creative agencies are objective and well, creative!

Targeted Marketing – With your most profitable target audience in mind…

  • Millennials? – Facebook and even your website is a thing of the past to Millennials, concentrate on Instagram and getting great Yelp and Google reviews. Don’t even consider print advertising.
  • Baby Boomers? – Facebook, Facebook, Facebook – the MOST targeted advertising available. Print in a local magazine that is well respected by residents, with your BOLD message, remember, don’t whimp out
  • Generation X or Y – A combination of the above, dependent on your product and what is available in your region.

Interested in a 30 minute, complimentary assessment of your brand? Call me (Heidi O’Leska, President, Marketing Strategist, Vintage Juice Brand Marketing), 703 922 2442.

Branding & Marketing Agency based in Alexandria VA.

Take the Funnel Cake. Leave the Sales Funnel.

Rethink the funnel.

Customer intent is the winning ticket.

I am in complete agreement with the excerpt below from Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google. Instead of pushing buyers through a metaphorical funnel, view prospects and customers in the four stages of their “intent.” See, Think, Do, Care. It takes more strategy, and more custom marketing (and thus resources), but I have seen this type of direct marketing to a very targeted audience, time and time again, work very well.

The “See” cluster is the largest addressable qualified audience. For example, Kaushik described a financial institution whose “See” cluster (its broadest target audience) was people who had responsible spending habits and complex financial needs. This financial institution defined the “Think” cluster as people who are gainfully employed and have had a life-changing event. In the “Do” cluster are people in the later stages of financial decision. And in the “Care” cluster are not just customers but loyal customers who have been with the financial institution for more than two years. Ultimately, Kaushik said visualizing potential buyers by their intent, which we can discern by their online behavior, is a far superior approach than the traditional strategy of viewing prospects by their demographics.

Application. To reach the warmest potential client i.e., the “Do” cluster, based on previous client intent/habits, what is driving the fact they are in the later stages of a financial decision? Marriage, new job, baby on the way? If so, you can target them with value-add posts on Facebook, by selecting behaviors, i.e., maybe they are signing up for Lamaze classes, maybe they are searching for the best schools… a timely post about saving for your child’s education would resonate and if creative and eye catching, it is a good probability the post will cause action.

Take the funnel cake. Just leave the sales funnel.

If Disney can’t get its messaging right…

“Disneyland.” “The Happiest place on earth…?”

1992 – Disney opens Disneyland Paris, their first theme park in Europe. They advertised how amazing the rides were, they sold the roller coasters as thrill rides…  But when the thrill seekers showed up to the park, they left pretty disappointed.

Have you been to It’s a Small World…?

phone-1160876_640When the park was at the brink of closing, they realized what their problem was.

It wasn’t the park.

It wasn’t the market.

It was the offer.

They’d been trying to sell the park as a thrill-seekers paradise…  And forgotten that people don’t go to Disneyland for the rides.

They go for the Disney Magic.  They go for the experience they can have when they’re in the park. The wonder and awe a child has when they meet their favorite character.  So they changed the “offer,” and customers flocked back to the park.

Disney parks alone are a $15 BILLION per year industry. And if THEY need to focus on getting their offer right, how much more important is it for YOU to make sure you get your offer right the first time? More importantly, your messaging about your brand from the start?

 

Thank you Zach Johnson from GameChangerProfits.com for the story!

Using #LinkedIn to grow your business

Two of my best clients are a result of LinkedIn, and not by me asking them for business…

I own a branding and marketing agency. I have “optimized” my profile to include terms that potential clients would use to find my services. Optimizing includes making sure titleLinkedInScreen shots are  NOT “President” or “Owner”, instead “Marketing Strategist” and “Branding Strategist”. Who searches for “owner”? It includes optimizing all titles for past jobs, as well as filling out each job description paying careful attention to using marketing, brand development, B2B, B2C, etc.

Connect, connect, connect. But NEVER the generic invite provided by LinkedIn. Take the time to discover the connections you have in common and most importantly, determine what would be of value to the person you want to connect with. Is there an event you can invite the person to that would benefit that person/business? Is there an article that would be of interest to the individual? Is there a person you can introduce to help them grow their business? Connecting in this way, makes you memorable. Ask one of the people you have in common if you can use them as a reference.

Stay in touch, again, value add. Updates at least 3 times a week, with the 80/20 rule. 80% value add, only 20% or even less, promotional. I offer articles on marketing and branding, business tips to help grow your business. On occasion, I post the launch of a new client’s website – as promotional as I get. If your updates are of great value, tips they can use in their business, your updates will get red, liked, commented on, and more eyes will be on them.

Write recommendations whenever possible. It not only helps your colleagues/connections, it is a great way to stay in front of them, more often than not, if they’ve worked with you, they will recommend you as well. Next time someone asks them for a great “xyz”, if you’ve just given them a glowing recommendation, most likely, you will be top of mind for the referral. The more recommendations you have, especially ones that use the terms/services prospective customers are searching for, the higher you will be in the search.

Join a group that is mostly your target audience (as opposed to colleagues). Be active, start conversations, ask questions and make sure they are educational/informational/help grow their business. Position yourself as the authority on what you do, and give, give, give. Don’t join groups that are full of posts with no discussions, be diligent, check out how engaged the group is, are they serious about business? You only have so much time to spend on LinkedIn each week, make it worth your while.

One of my best clients (web design firm in Boston) found me on LinkedIn searching for a marketing strategist in the DC area. My profile was well optimized for the term, and I came up at the top. Another client is a good friend from church, that moved to North Carolina. I never talk about work at church. After a year of getting my updates, when he started an IT consulting company, I was top of mind to call to brand his new firm.

I feel LinkedIn is all about relationships and helping your colleagues. Not a big fan of advertising services to prospects that you have not earned their trust. Advertising for employees is beneficial of course!

Leverage the powerful insights social media delivers.

#AlexandriaVA #MarketingAgency

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, your BLOG might not be producing a line out the door at your business every day, but one thing is for sure, the insights social media provides about your target audience is bountiful.

Whether retail, hospitality, medical, B2B tech, association or non-profit – there are quality insights offered by social media (for free) to help guide your marketing efforts. Research that used to cost a pretty penny to obtain.

With the addition of the global roll-out of Facebook’s redesigned “Like” Button or Facebook Reactions, we now know whether the audience loves, thinks its funny, whether they are “wowed”, sad are angry.

reactions_facebook_marketing_social_media.jpg_600x0-e1458058395367

Review your posts over several months, is there a commonality among those commenting? Women, men, younger, older, where do they live? What content is commented and shared the most (hint, do more of that).

It also points to the type of service, offering or mission that would interest them.

For example, if you own a restaurant and the post/tweet about the new craft brewery that opened in your neighborhood received twice the number of Likes, Loves, Wows than a post about Chardonnay varietals, offer more beer events, and/or a better selection of craft beers. It might also point to the fact that the majority of your audience is male, is your menu appealing to them?

If you don’t have a detailed, social media plan to reach out to your most profitable target audience, to increase business as well as maintain your most loyal customers, we’d love to talk! We’d be happy to offer a 3o minute marketing assessment, complimentary. Call us: 703 922 2442.

Brand Development – Don’t put the cart before the horse…

90% of clients that need a brand developed, have their minds made up on their name and general design of their logo before we ever meet. You might think, well, sure, that makes sense, it is their passion and talents, who better to come up with a name and logo for their business? Glad you asked:

  • An objective team made of a marketing strategist and creative director that understand how hard it is to cut through the clutter.
  • A team with years of experience creating brands that get noticed and bring results.
  • A team that recognizes – despite the clients protest that they do NOT have any competition – they in fact do, and quite a LOT.
  • A team that has witnessed client-driven names/logos/messaging crash and burn, because no matter how much the client loves her/his grandmother and her unique name,  no
    one can pronounce it, and it just makes no sense to name their fabulous new software package that will revolutionize how cars get sold online, Jezebel. (all names and products have been changed to protect the innocent).
  • A marketing strategist that knows how to ask the right questions of the client, to pull out of them the true value of their brand, their heart, their passion for what they are doing. Why they are creating this new business, who they want to help. All key to a strong brand.
  • A marketing strategist that researches and reveals to the client what competitors are saying about their similar offering, and the HUGE ah hah in the market that is missing, and how the client’s offering (the heart of their offering, their passion), if communicated properly will fill that gap, and leap frog the competition.
  • A marketing strategist that asks the questions that are needed to determine the needs and desires of the most profitable target audiences and develops personas that are the go to in all branding and marketing efforts.
  • A marketing strategist that understands the value of market research – surveys, focus groups, client or prospect interviews, stakeholder interviews, to determine if the new product or service is actually of value to the target audience.
  • A facilitator that is able to communicate to the client the findings and analysis in a clear and precise way to fine tune the product or service offering if need be and develop the marketing messages that will resonate with the target audiences (aka brand platform).

With the brand platform finalized, let the naming and then logo design begin! While it does take a lot of creativity – with the brand platform as the basis –  the result will be a name and logo that truly resonates with its most profitable target audience.

Branding & Marketing That Bears Fruit!

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Does your brand stand out in a crowd? How do you elevate your brand?

Attended a great webinar with Harvard Business Review, hosted by Peter Sheahan, from Change Labs. Great insights as you look into 2015 and want to move from commodity/low price to a high value, distinct offering.  

Nike+ is not a new sneaker, it is a behavior change platform. How do actually be healthy vs. looking healthy. At one point it was a better sneaker, than a better brand, but now, better health for its customers, leaning into the real need.

But, you can’t work and solve complex problems, unless you have a high-value relationship with your customers. You need an elevated relationship. How do you get out of the transaction based environment? How do you elevate your reputation, to get invited into the room, so you can solve the problems? You need to bring something interesting to the conversation.

  • Move to the learning edge of change. Your buyers aren’t that interested in you knowing how the world exists now, but how it will exist in the future. How can you change your business model to gather intelligence to change your thinking, and make you more interesting in your industry?
  • Take what you learn and share it, thought leadership or content marketing. Be generous! Adobe hired 24 thought leaders to share their message to every conference in the world where digital, online marketing leaders were. Their message? We do more than create PDFs, we help you go digital, we help you with marketing strategy to build your online brand presence.
  • You need to do something with this thought leadership. Play high, play deep, play wide.
    • Play High – Be in front of the decision maker, it’s not just having the content/knowledge, you have to have the courage to do it. The Adobe model is expensive. You need to make decisions that change your structure. Ask your customers what they need, listen to the marketplace, and develop new concepts/ideas to create what they are asking for. Then, take it a step further, maybe it is giving more access to your customers, adding new expertise, more staff i.e., have the courage to make the changes needed to move out of a commodity based situation (transactional based environment, based on price) to a higher level in the industry.
    • Play Deep – you need to know the ins and outs of your client, everything you need to know about your customers. Burberry, over the last 5 years, stocks have doubled. Their biggest hurdle? Burberry online! Their biggest competitor. In order to survive with their brick and mortar, they had to develop a retail store/environment, that is worth paying 25% more than online. 300,000 hours later… In the UK, their store is “smart” beyond belief. From the moment you approach the door, they learn what you’ve purchased before, your tastes, the staff is alerted, so your experience is custom as you travel through the store. The mirrors double as televisions, the footage changes based on the person viewing. When you pick up a raincoat, the mirror changes to show you how it is made.
    • Play Wide – National paint coating company sells to OEMs and collision repair shops. They thought, we need to make a paint that lasts longer. But, the repair shops only care about the insurance companies, i.e., how quickly can you get the car repaired and back on the road. So, they discovered the need a paint that drys fast, don’t care that it lasts longer. They looked at the EcoSystem, creating the right , not just better, kind of paint.

Stand out from the crowd: Learn the real problem, solve the problem, provide thought leadership, be bold, make changes. It will require a great cost up front for research and implementation, but, that is what it takes to get out of the commodity/low price situation for your brand.