The MadAveGroup Blog

Scott Greggory, Chief Creative Officer

GraduationI went to my son’s high school graduation yesterday. It was a ceremony filled with many moving moments, and, as I reflect on it today, a few marketing lessons.

1) Be an inspiration. Just like a great commencement speaker, your marketing and advertising should inspire your audience.

That might mean providing them with reasons to follow and engage with your brand, or showing how you’re leading by example to improve your corner of the world. Paint a vivid picture of what’s possible with your products, services, philosophy or team.

2) Share stories. Graduation season is a time for reflection. That often means revisiting memories and telling stories about teachers, friends and all the good times.

The stories you share in your marketing content will give your audience a better feel for your company’s personality and what it’s like to work with you. Stories are also easier to remember and relate to than cold, hard facts. Check out a few of our stories here, here and here.  

3) Celebrate. Sure, give your team a big shout-out on your website or social media for their latest award or accomplishment. Just make sure to tie the message back to your audience.

Why should they care about your good news? How can they apply the details to their own needs? How does the information make the decision to buy from you easier?

4) Be yourself. Graduates wear long, shiny robes, along with oddly shaped hats, cords, sashes and medals. In other words, stuff they’d never be caught dead in normally.

That's all part of the pomp and tradition of graduation, but ask yourself if your marketing accurately presents your culture and who you are, or are you “dressing it up” for the public?

5) Dream. New graduates often dream about the future: their next steps, pursuing their goals and passions, making a difference.

When’s the last time you put your feet up on the desk and dreamed about what you could be doing with your marketing? How much more effective - and fun - could it be? What are some of the other metrics you’d like to pursue? What will your marketing legacy be?

Let us know if you’d like any help making those dreams come true.

If you want to improve the impression that your company leaves on callers, you may want to consider this: BusinessVoice, our Caller Experience Marketing agency, won the highest honor in the On Hold Marketing industry for the second time in three years at the 2017 MARCE Awards.

The MARCEs are presented each year to acknowledge marketing and creative excellence in On Hold Marketing entries from around the world.

“The Girls at Notre Dame” earned two awards: Best Branding and Best of Show. We crafted the production for our client Notre Dame Academy, a Catholic girls school in our hometown of Toledo, Ohio.

“We're always thinking about how to elevate the caller experience,” said Chief Creative Officer Scott Greggory. “The Notre Dame production is a great example of introducing first-person stories and sincere emotion to paint a vivid picture in callers' minds.”

Andrea Poteet wrote the voiceover copy, Don Binkley was the recording engineer, and Amy Jeffries provided the voiceover. Hanson Inc. provided the students' voiceovers.

The MARCE Awards judges shared many nice comments about the piece, including these:

“Great concept. The testimonial / word-of-mouth feel is strong and believable. And the spectrum of information shared is tremendous.”

“The music bed was current, the VO delivery was very solid, and the [stories] left a great impression. Well done, guys.”

BusinessVoice has earned 14 MARCE Awards. That's more than any other On Hold Marketing provider in the world. The competition began in 2005.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017 15:39

That Time Amazon Saved a Wedding

That Time Amazon Saved a WeddingBrad Timofeev, our Director of Digital Marketing, is getting married to Lauren this Saturday (May 27th).

“Earlier today,” he wrote to me, “I had an unbelievable experience with Amazon.”

There’s a 90% chance that Brad and Lauren’s outdoor wedding is going to include rain. Lots and lots of rain.

With no real indoor option, “Lauren was in pure breakdown mode this morning. It looks like everything she had envisioned for her wedding isn’t going to happen. She’s never broken down like this before.”

Brad told me the rest of the story.

“I felt awful for her, and I tried scrambling for churches, but after about two hours, we decided to embrace the day for what it’s going to be: wet.

"So I needed to find 30 or 40 clear umbrellas in a few hours and get them here in two days. My first thought was Amazon because I know their shipping times are always reliable.

"After I ordered the umbrellas, I immediately called Amazon to confirm that the order was accurate and that the shipment would arrive by Friday.

"First off, the hold time was only about 10 seconds, which was a huge shock because, of course, Amazon is one of the biggest companies in the world.

"Then, John answered the phone. He said all the umbrellas were in stock and that he’d make sure they got out the door today for delivery by Thursday afternoon - a full day sooner than I expected. I ended up getting emotional on the phone because I was so thankful to him. After the craziness of the morning and seeing how distraught Lauren was, I just couldn’t keep my feelings bottled up any longer.

"The fact that someone cared that much about a complete stranger and understood our situation was so nice. It felt like everything was going wrong, especially for Lauren. But John’s help and his reassurance reminded me that people still care. It was an unbelievably positive experience that I didn’t expect.”

Brad’s story is a good reminder that your customers may come to you with important needs, urgency, and a complete lack of time, all with plenty of emotional trauma mixed in.

When you handle those situations with care and compassion, you not only make life easier for your customers, you can make customers for life.

Congratulations Brad and Lauren. We love you. 

Personal AttentionMany years ago, my wife Amy began her own tradition: she started sending cards to her friends and relatives just before Thanksgiving.

These are not early Christmas cards. In fact, the cards she buys never depict any type of holiday image or include a pre-written message.

Instead, she uses blank cards and writes a personal note to each of her loved ones, reinforcing how much they mean to her and how thankful she is to have them in her life.

A few days after the cards are sent, the phone starts ringing. Friends and family from around the country call to thank her for her thoughts and kind words.

These are people with kids and jobs and big holiday dinners to prepare, and yet, they stop what they’re doing to reply to a simple card with a 30-minute phone call.

Neither Amy nor I can recall a single response to the hundreds of Christmas cards we’ve sent over the years, so why do so many people respond to her “Thanksgiving” cards?

First, the timing. The cards are unexpected. They’re sent a good couple of weeks before the Christmas season really kicks in, so the recipients aren’t actively looking for a card the way they might on December 20th. In other words, her card is a nice surprise.

Secondly, everyone sends cards for Christmas, but because hers arrive so much earlier, they’re not “competing” for the recipient’s attention; their timing helps them stand out and contributes to their special quality.

Finally, it’s the nature of her cards. They’re not stamped with her signature. They’re not mass produced. Each one is hand-written. Personal. Genuine. They’re the kind of cards people save. And in sending them, she’s not looking for something in return. She’s simply reaching out to strengthen her relationships with the people who are important to her. Not hundreds of people. Just a few dozen.

So, are your 25 or 50 best clients worth a little more personal attention?

Is their long-term loyalty to you worth the time it takes to dream up new and valuable ways you can impact their lives and jobs? And not for what that may mean to you, but what it can do for them? 

Do they deserve more face-to-face visits?

How are you letting them know that you're thinking about them and their needs throughout the year?

Are your sales and marketing efforts born of a genuine interest in helping your clients?

Just a few questions to ponder as you consider your company’s marketing efforts.

Thursday, 20 April 2017 11:31

Terry Lesniewicz: A One-Night Retrospective

Terry Lesniewicz d2iTerry Lesniewicz has been creating memorable images and effective work for brands since the early 1970s.

And as the creative leader of d2i - our brand, design and advertising agency - Terry is still makin’ it happen today, as both an impactful designer and a mentor to the next generation.

On April 19th, 2017, Terry and a few other area designers were featured in an informal retrospective called The Poster Show. Check out the images of Terry's work below.

We’re very proud of the influence that Terry has had on advertising and design, and we’re very excited that he shares his talent, perspective and vast experience with our team and clients every day.

"It's been a pleasure working with the up-and-coming designers here at d2i, including Greg Stawicki. He was instrumental in the work for the Mad Ave Collective poster" (middle row left  below). 

Advertising is an OpportunityUsually, advertising takes.

Pre-roll videos, radio and TV spots, print ads: they all interrupt or delay what people want to see or hear. So, by their very nature, those types of advertising take.

They take the audience's time. They take their attention. They can even take the momentum and enjoyment out of the entertainment experience.

But what if advertising were used to give?

Here’s an example.

About 97% of people are not in the market for a new vehicle at any given time. And because Americans own their cars for an average of 6.5 years, most drivers won't be looking for new wheels anytime soon.

Yet, radio and TV commercial breaks are filled with car dealer spots, sometimes back-to-back. And so often, the “take-oriented” message in those commercials is about price or specific vehicles - information that will no longer apply when the majority of the audience is actively shopping for a new car.

So, what if a car dealer were to use his advertising to provide unbiased advice on purchasing a new vehicle?

Or tips on how to keep your current vehicle running its best?

Or the six steps to maintaining your car’s paint job?

Or a few facts that would help you choose the right engine oil?

Or suggestions for cool weekend road trips?

Or specific examples of how buying an American-made model benefits you and your community?

Or stories of how the dealership has gone above and beyond to care for their customers over the years?

Oh, and, by the way, “please think of us when you need a new car.”

What if that car dealer used his air time and ad space to focus on you, rather than himself and his products? To give you valuable information? To prove to you over and over again that his company is worthy of your trust? To build - in a way - a relationship with you?

Not only would you come away from that advertising a smarter consumer, you might develop a fondness for the company responsible for it.

As a marketer, you can't change the interruptive nature of certain channels, but you can change your content - from self-focused to audience-focused; from taking to giving, with the goal of creating a valuable, long-term role in the lives of your audience.

RELATED POSTS: Four Keys to Great Advertising
Why You Should Re-Think Your Radio and TV Spots
Don't Make People Hide from Your Advertising

United Airlines LessonOn April 9th, 2017, security officers representing United Airlines dragged a screaming 69-year-old passenger out of his seat and off a United plane, creating an indelible image of customer abuse and a public relations nightmare that could haunt the brand for years.

But four United employees needed those seats more than a few paying customers.

But the screaming passenger is a convicted felon.

But the fine print on the ticket gives the airline the right to remove anyone from the plane.

So what?

We live in a time in which everyone has instant access to a video camera and potentially a worldwide audience. Regardless of how those involved try to rationalize their actions, manhandling a customer should have never even been close to a solution.

On the United website, the company's Customer Commitment states that their goal “is to make every flight a positive experience” for their customers, that they provide “a high level of performance,” and that they're dedicated to delivering the type of service that makes them “a leader in the airline industry.” 

United employs nearly 88,000 people around the world, so maybe it's unfair to expect that every one of their employees would live up to that portion of their brand promise. But how many people work for your company? Do they all know what you promise your customers, whether it's online or implied?

Are they empowered to make decisions that serve your customers and protect your brand image?

Do you remind them that the world is watching, even if your “world” is just a few hundred customers?

Make sure your employees know what your brand stands for, what's expected of them, and what will never be tolerated.

Friday, 17 March 2017 14:59

Let Your Human Side Show

BBC Dad Robert Kelly Interview

Probably 20 years ago, I was at our town’s art museum watching a friend play music in one of the galleries. About half way through the set, my friend’s four-year-old son emerged from the crowd and walked up to him on the improvised stage.

What happened next has stuck with me all the years since.

My friend - interrupted while doing his job, in front of an audience - stopped what he was doing and gave his full, genuine attention to his young son.

No anger. No frustration. No hurriedly rushing the little boy back to his seat. Just pure love on display.

My friend knew what was important. And still does.

Contrast that warm memory with what we saw from Professor Robert Kelly and his wife after their children innocently walked in on their father’s live BBC interview in March of 2017. (Watch the video here.) 

The embarrassment. The apologies. His attempts to blindly push away his daughter. The mother’s frantic floor crawling.

Sure, an episode like that might throw anyone off his game a bit, especially if being interviewed on live TV. But because of the way both parents reacted, they kinda’ came off as jerks. And, purely from a marketing standpoint, how may that have affected Kelly’s personal brand and likability?

Goofy, unpredictable stuff like that happens now and then. About the only way you can prepare for it is by reminding yourself to be a human being, to roll with it, and to always look for the humor in unexpected situations. You should have heard the heartfelt “awwww” coming from the crowd when my friend reacted the way he did to his little boy.

For both you personally and your company, letting your human side show and embracing life’s wackier moments is likely only to endear you to your audience.

RELATED POSTS: What Can You Learn from a Coal Miner's Daughter?
Are You Too Chicken to Stay True to Your Values? 
Lighten Up! Customers Will Like You For It (BusinessVoice)

Tuesday, 14 March 2017 11:35

6 Tips on Using Testimonials

Using TestimonialsThe most effective type of advertising is word-of-mouth advertising.

A friend tells you about the great experience she had at a new restaurant. A family member raves about how well he was treated at a local car dealer.

Why are you likely to put more stock in what they say than what you hear in TV or radio commercials for the same businesses?

Simple: your friends and relatives have nothing to gain by promoting a product or company. They’re impartial, and they only want to share some good news with you.

When you and other members of your team actively encourage testimonials and then incorporate them into your marketing content, you’ll tap into the persuasive power of happy customers.

Their words will resonate more with other customers and prospects because their words aren't self-serving. Their words often come in the form of unsolicited thank you notes or appreciative email messages, so, just like a recommendation from a friend, their sincerity is above reproach.

We can use testimonials on your website, as social media posts, in your On Hold Marketing and other channels as social proof of the claims we make on your behalf. The consistent truths we see in your testimonials may even help us decide which claims to make.

I urge you to make collecting testimonials part of your company culture. A few ideas:

1) When customers tell you how much they enjoy working with you, ask them if they'd be willing to express their thoughts in an email. Or if a customer compliments you while on the phone, jot down her quote and ask for permission to use it as a testimonial.

2) Whenever possible, include the customer's full name, title and company when displaying the testimonial.

3) Save each testimonial as a Word doc with a file name that includes a keyword or phrase that the customer references. That makes it easier to find testimonials about specific topics when you want to show them to prospects.

4) Consider keeping testimonial letters, cards and emails in a binder that visiting prospects can read.

5) To encourage staff members to collect testimonials, harness their competitive spirit: read the best examples during your company meetings or share them with your staff via email, making sure to credit the employee who received the praise.

6) You might also give a gift card or other reward to the team member who receives the “most valuable” or "most unlikely" testimonial each month.

Marketing Matters

MadAveGroup has provided marketing services to tire retailers and automotive aftermarket clients for decades. And lately, Tire Review Magazine has been tapping into our experience.

For the third time in 16 months, the trade mag has published an article featuring input from a member of our team. WebArt's Director of Digital Marketing Brad Timofeev is featured again in the abridged piece below. Take a look. 


*****

Myth #2: Once in-store shoppers begin looking at their smartphone, the store has lost their attention.

Fact: Stores can grab consumers’ attention through search results and a retailer’s mobile site or app.

Consumers look at competitor sites, but a greater percentage look at search engine results and the retailer’s website/app. Forty-two percent of in-store consumers conduct online research while on location via:

• 64% - search engines
• 46% - retailer’s website/app
• 30% - a different retailer’s website/app
• 26% - another type of website/app (coupon site, review site, etc.)

This means stores should optimize their online presence (including search results, website, app, and mobile ads) to engage consumers while they’re inside the store. According to Brad Timofeev, Director of Digital Marketing for WebArt, a digital marketing agency with locations in Ohio and Virginia, this involves putting together a strategy with a deep understanding of the customer journey and how you can move them through it more smoothly.

“Potential customers look to your website during more stages of the buying cycle than any other touch point,” he says. “They might visit you online during the discovery, evaluation, conviction and action stages, so the website is where you should invest the most dollars and time.”

Timofeev recommends content marketing to attract visitors at the initial stages, as dealers can craft content based on consumers’ specific search intent. (For example, “What’s the best oil for my type Online Sourcesof driving?” or “How to know when you need new brakes.”)

“However, before creating content, you should perform a basic search query for your topics to see which types of content show in the search results,” he notes.

“Mobile apps are a great tool for existing customers to use and for you to retain them,” Timofeev adds. “Your app really only needs to provide service reminders and a way to schedule appointments. The app should push those reminders to your customers’ mobile devices, along with information about why certain services are so important.”


Myth #3: Online research has limited what consumers expect from stores; they really just go to stores to complete a transaction.

Fact: Consumers still visit stores for more than just transactions, but they now expect more out of any place they shop; they want informed, customized experiences.

According to the study, 69% of consumers used physical stores for information during different phases of the purchase process:

• 32% found inspiration - the time they realized they wanted or needed a particular product.
• 33% did research - the time they actively looked and researched the purchase.
• 55% bought - the time they purchased the product.
• 14% post-purchase - any behavior they participated in after the purchase

Consumers polled said they would be more likely to shop in stores that offer personalized coupons and exclusive in-store offers (85%) as well as recommendations for specific products to purchase (64%).

Tire dealers can take advantage of these tendencies by delivering customized offers and recommendations right to consumers as they search on their phone or by integrating them into the in-store experience.

“It’s important to realize that not all of your customers are at the same stage in the buying cycle, so they’re going to have different tendencies when shopping in-store,” Timofeev says. “For instance, if a customer comes in for scheduled maintenance or to buy tires, he’s already chosen to do business with you. At that point, it’s your job to retain that customer by providing a great experience and adding any value you can. But there’s also this possibility: A customer comes in for scheduled maintenance and, after inspecting his vehicle, you tell him that his car requires more work than he expected. He might pull out his smartphone and start shopping around for that additional service while he’s in your store.”

He adds that while the in-store experience includes everything from the shop’s appearance, cleanliness and aroma to colors, signage, displays, furniture and the music or TV, so much of customer retention is dependent upon your staff and each customer interaction.

“They should be trained extensively in communication of your brand promise,” Timofeev says. “They also need to drive customers to specific actions: using the mobile app; signing up for your monthly email flyer or social media pages, and taking advantage of the resources on your website, such as coupons and tire selectors. Your waiting areas should reinforce those messages, too, through digital signage, in-store audio, table stands, pull-down banners and geofencing notifications.”

Rather than marginalizing the value of in-store shopping, Google’s research shows that smartphones and online information offer an opportunity for stores to enhance consumers’ shopping experience.

“It’s important to make it easy for customers to find the information they want and need, whether it’s on a well-designed mobile website that’s intuitive and easy to navigate, or an uncluttered store that features helpful POP displays, audio and video,” Timofeev says.

“At every point of contact, make it easy for customers to choose you,” he adds.

RELATED POSTS: Brad Timofeev Featured in Tire Review
MadAveGroup CCO Interviewed for Tire Industry Trade Mag

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