The MadAveGroup Blog

The MadAve Blog (301)

Free Fruit and HaircutsThere's a grocery store somewhere that invites parents to take a free piece of fruit for their kids to snack on while they're shopping.

And there's a barber in Iowa who gives kids free haircuts. All they have to do is read a book while they're in his chair. (See the story.) 

What's important to you and your company? Is it promoting healthy eating or reading skills? Or maybe it's pet adoption like we told you about in this post

As a business, you and your team have tremendous power to spark change and make a difference, even if it's only in your neighborhood. And good ideas spread so rapidly these days that your actions could easily inspire others around the world to follow your lead.

It doesn't take a huge budget or time commitment to get started; just a desire to leave the world a little bit better than you found it.

Let us know what you're doing in the Comments section.

RELATED POST: Unlikely Partnerships Can Make Complete Sense

Audio LogosYour company or product logo is very important, no doubt. But you already knew that.

What you may not have considered is how important it is to represent your brand audibly.

The marketplace is visually crowded, packed with plenty to see. So, while an effective visual identity is crucial, the need for a memorable audio logo is now just as important.

Read this quick blog post from our BusinessVoice team. It's called "You're Just a Few Notes Away from Building Greater Brand Recognition."

You'll hear samples of famous audio logos that will demonstrate how effective a short snippet of sound can be at getting you to think about a brand.

Want to talk about what goes into creating an audio logo for your company? (It's an interesting process.) Call me at 419/724-7330.

RELATED POSTS: Old-School Phone Skills Are Still Relevant
Why You Should Re-Think Your Radio and TV Spots 

Radio SpotsThere are several good reasons to let us create your radio and TV commercials.

1) We believe that the impressions you make via broadcast channels can last well beyond the short time your spots are actually on the air. When the message and creative are right and the production is well executed, your commercials will resonate with your audience and provide long-term value for your brand.

2) When you leave the production of your commercials to the radio or TV station, there's a very good chance your spots will sound like most of the other spots they produce. That means your commercials are less likely to stand out and make the kind of impression that moves your audience to action.

3) Most radio and TV stations will throw in the creative and production free of charge when you buy air time. But ask yourself: how much effort and care will any station put into something they're giving away? Good commercials are worth paying for. Bad commercials can be costly to your brand image and waste your marketing dollars.

4) If you're already our client, we know about your goals, who you are as a company, and the brand identity you want to project. We're invested in your success, so you can be sure that we'll develop radio and/or TV content and a strategy that address your short and long-term goals.

When and Where to Air Your Spots

Creating effective commercials is important to the success of your broadcast advertising, but if your spots are not seen or heard often enough by the right audience at the right times of the day, or if they cost you too much to air, your campaign may not be effective.

That's why we recommend using the services of an experienced media buyer. These experts know where and when to place your commercials in order to best reach your target audience. They also can  leverage the total volume of time they buy in order to secure a lower rate for you.

Through discovery and understanding your needs, our experienced media buyers can craft a strategic approach that will minimize your risk while advancing your exposure. 

By the way, our media buying services don't cost you any additional money!

Call us for more details: 866/473-9000.

Don and DaveIt's been a tough week for me, TV-wise. (#FirstWorldProblems)

Two of my all-time favorite television shows have wrapped: Mad Men and The Late Show with David Letterman.

There have been volumes written about both of these shows by people far more qualified to dissect the art of television drama and comedy than I am, so I won't even attempt to add my two cents about what made these shows great.

I merely want to acknowledge their effect on my life and suggest one way they might have touched yours.

I fell in love with Dave Letterman during my college years. He was irreverent, defiant, curmudgeonly, uncomfortable in his own skin, and a truly refreshing comedic voice. Along with Steve Martin and Bill Murray, Dave was one of my comedy heroes. As a student, I even sent a packet of material to him, hoping it would land me a gig as a staff writer. It didn't. (I over-shot by proposing a new feature called "The Top 11 List.")

I was instantly attracted to Mad Men because of its setting in a New York advertising agency. I found the show mysterious, sensual, cool, remarkably detailed and visually stunning. It was thrilling to watch Don Draper think through his clients' needs and deliver creative solutions. And it left me nostalgic for an era I was too young to appreciate as I was living through it.

Both shows have been inspirational to me for many reasons. But, hopefully, they've reinforced for all of their viewers the value of great work; beautiful, carefully crafted, passion-filled work. Work that's designed to have an impact. Work that's built to last. Work that stays true to the one-of-a-kind vision of its creator.

We'll be watching - and talking about - both of these shows for a long time because that's the kind of work they are.

And no matter what you do for a living, I wish for you that same approach to your work.

Are you prepared for failureOn May 2nd, I called a local lawnmower shop to have my riding mower picked up for its annual service.

Cammie - the lady who runs the service department - told me she'd have one of her drivers pick up my mower on Tuesday the 5th, and that the service process would take 7 to 10 days.

The mower was still sitting in my driveway the night of Wednesday the 6th.

When I called to find out why, Cammie had no idea who I was or what I wanted. She had lost my order.

The mower was finally picked up on Friday the 8th.

When I called the shop Saturday the 16th to check on its status, Cammie told me that her team had not yet started work on my mower, and that it would be at least another three days until I could have it back. Over this two-week period, my grass had literally grown to the middle of my shins.

Frustrated, I asked how she was going to make this right. "What do you want me to do?" Cammie replied. "I've been getting yelled at for this same problem for the last three days."

Look - as a company, you're going to mess up.

A system will break down, or a weakness in your process will be exposed, or a team member will just plain drop the ball.

No company or employee is perfect, so disappointing customers is bound to happen now and then.

But if you don't prepare for that inevitability you're asking for trouble.

Empower your staff to make customers happy when things go wrong. That includes accepting responsibility for the problem, empathizing with customers, and giving them the tools to re-earn a customer's trust.

Then, encourage your employees to manage up. If they know of a problem anywhere in your organization – especially if it affects the customer experience – they should feel free to tell their supervisor.

Cammie's admission that "I've been getting yelled at for this same problem for the last three days" tells me that either she didn't bother to tell her manager about her department's issues or that management did nothing to address her concerns. Develop a culture or a process that makes managing up easy and non-threatening. The information you get from the front lines will be invaluable.

Retaining customers is a constant effort. Most of them will excuse a mistake now and then if you react politely and swiftly to correct it. By preparing for failure, you can salvage the customer relationships your sales and marketing teams work so hard to win.

RELATED POST: Can Your Brand Withstand the Next Storm? 
VoIP May Affect Your Marketing and Customers' Experience

Phone FrustrationYou should know about these two phone calls.

One call was placed to a single-location medical facility; the other to a link in a national chain of office supply stores.

Neither call produced a positive experience, which is why you should read about them. The stories may help you avoid the same mistakes, and prevent brand damage and lost revenue.

This post on the BusinessVoice blog is about the medical facility employee who was either not trained well enough or not engaged with her work enough to make a good impression. Read it here.

And this post is about the office supply company's failing to see the opportunity they throw away each time they leave callers on hold for more than a few seconds. Read it here.

These situations are certainly not unique, which is good news for your brand. If you can deliver a great experience to each of your callers, you will enjoy a differentiation that encourages repeat business and long-term customer relationships.

Our BusinessVoice team can help with Telephone Skills and Etiquette Training and with custom, caller-focused On Hold Marketing that ultimately serves your marketing needs.

RELATED POST: Are You Prepared for Failure?

Mobile Website RankingsWhether your company adapts to change well or not, one thing is certain: another change is coming.

You may have heard that Google will soon be adjusting the way it ranks websites for users on mobile devices. And, yes, if your website isn't mobile-compatible, your traffic count is likely to suffer.

But our WebArt team sees a very positive effect this can have on your website marketing. You just need to act well before April 21st, 2015 to take full advantage of it.

Read the WebArt blog post "A Huge Opportunity to Boost Your Mobile Traffic."

Automated SystemsIt's easy to build a website and then forget about it.

It's easy to get the variable printing tools in place for your branch locations and then walk away.

In fact, it's understandable why you might set up any type of automated system and then assume you never have to think about it again.

But that could be a costly assumption. Or, at the very least, a little embarrassing.

In this BusinessVoice blog post, we urge you to "Put Yourself On Hold" literally, and then figuratively with other types of automated systems you may rely on. Take a look at this good reminder.

Brian WilliamsI'm not going to pretend to have any idea what Brian Williams was thinking.

Did he mean to embellish the facts of his 2003 experience in Iraq? Or did he honestly remember the situation that way?

At age 51, I can't recall how I got to work most mornings, let alone the details of an event 12 years ago. But on the flip side, I'm absolutely positive I've never been shot at in a helicopter at any point in my life.

Regardless of the who, what, why, when or if, this whole thing should remind us that the truth still matters to people. Stretching it may have cost Brian Williams his career and NBC News serious brand damage.

What does that lesson mean for your marketing?

Especially in the Internet era, customers and prospects can determine pretty quickly when your advertising has misrepresented the truth, or even when the experience you allude to isn't consistent with what they actually encounter.

So, when marketing your business, don't lie. Don't even exaggerate. Instead, use the time you have with your audience to shine honest light on your brand's unique value and differences.

Padding the truth leads to customer disappointment, erodes trust, damages your reputation, and makes it harder for your next message to resonate with your audience.

(Photo credit: NBC News)

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Don't Make People Hide from Your Advertising
A Marketing Lesson from a Butcher

PartnershipsWhat could a contemporary, upscale hotel in a hip downtown district have in common with a pet adoption agency?

Maybe nothing at first glance.

Yet the relationship between the Aloft Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina and Charlie's Angels Animal Rescue in the nearby town of Fletcher is working out very well

Since August 2014, Charlie's Angels has brought one dog into the hotel about every 7 to 10 days. The dog lives in the lobby until he's adopted by a hotel guest. In the seven months since the program began, hotel guests have adopted 19 dogs. That's great news for the shelter – and the dogs. 

And, as you'll see in this NBC News report, the dogs allow the hotel to create a unique experience for guests. The Aloft is seen as supporting a good cause, and may even be responsible for introducing a new best friend to many guests. That's a lifelong memory they're helping to create.

Who can you partner with for mutual benefit? If there's no obvious answer, start by considering organizations that you would like to help even if your company didn't benefit directly from the relationship. Acting on your authentic passion for a cause can pay many other types of dividends.  

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