The MadAveGroup Blog
The MadAve Blog (319)
Ann Coulter’s performance on Comedy Central’s Roast of Rob Lowe was more uncomfortable than an iron couch.
Regardless of your politics or any thoughts you may have of Ms. Coulter, it would be tough to disagree with the widely held opinion that her set didn’t go well.
But she’s not a comic. Not a comedy writer. Not an experienced roaster. So, really, who would expect a different result?
The question is this: why did she book the gig in the first place?
And the marketing-related takeaway is this: do what you do well. Find or define your niche, master it, own it, be it, and sell it. Then, let other people do what they do best.
I just spoke with a long-time client of ours yesterday. He admitted that his company does "five things really well.” But over the last several years, the company had added far too many ancillary items to their product line. As a result, tracking inventory has become a nightmare, and their focus has become watered down. For the systems and people they have in place, they were trying to do too much - and not doing it well enough - to be seen as unique experts.
Marketing your new skills is admirable. Expanding into new markets is often necessary. Just be sure you're ready to perform at a level at least as high as those who are already established pros.
(Photo credit: Comedy Central)
Yes, that shop window in the photo is real.
It’s hard to imagine a more unfortunate name for a business these days. Nazi Death Camp Bar and Grill might top it. The Lee Harvey Oswald Daycare Center comes close.
Removing the word Isis from your company name might be an easy call for most, but it’s not always as obvious as to when you should re-name or re-brand a product or company.
While there’s certainly more to a brand than a name and logo, both are key determinants of how a company is perceived.
Terry Lesniewicz is the Chief Branding Officer for Design2Influence (d2i), our advertising and design agency that specializes in re-branding. In a recent interview he talked about logo changes specifically.
“When a logo is a heritage logo, like Coca-Cola’s for example, it needs very little modification. Maybe a clean-up now and then,” Terry said. “Heritage brands, like Hershey’s, don’t change their packaging, while a newer candy or energy bar may change their look quite frequently.”
“But the tech industry, for instance, hasn’t been around long enough to have that heritage, so they’re not beholden to the past. Plus, the tech world views ‘new and fresh’ as good.”
“These days, brands are simplifying their logos. Freshness is always a positive. And a logo change can suggest that you have new products or a new focus,” Terry said. “So, if you have a great reputation and are widely known, consider freshening your logo. But, in the same breath, I’ll say that you have to protect an older logo and the value that it represents."
“Changing a name or logo can be a tough decision,” Terry admits. “There’s history there and equity and even an emotional attachment to consider. So, before we do any design work, we walk our clients through that process of deciding if it’s time for a change or re-fresh.”
About a week ago, I took care of a small printing project for the school music boosters group that I volunteer with.
I sent the job to a well-known online printer.
But here’s the thing: our agency provides printing services.
I didn’t even think about the fact that our team could have done the work. It never occurred to me.
Now, printing is a new service for us, so that could explain why it wasn’t at the top of my mind.
But I’ve been in several meetings about our printing, and I’ve even created a few marketing pieces to promote the service.
Yet, I wasn't reminded of our own agency’s ability to do the job until I saw a nice comment about our printing work from a client earlier today.
And I care! I have a stake in this service! I have a reason to remember it!
But I didn't.
Now, your potential customers - who don't have a stake in your success: think of how much they don’t know - or don't remember - about your capabilities.
I love stories like that! And not just because of all the earned media and impressions they can generate.
I love this type of story because it's about people recognizing a need and fulfilling it. It's about combining two seemingly unrelated interests and both sides coming out better as a result.
A high school cross country team takes a bunch of shelter dogs for a morning run.
The dogs get exercise and fresh air they might not normally get.
The kids have a fun experience and the joy of helping the dogs.
The Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter receives free publicity for their cause.
Readers enjoy a heart-warming story.
And a few families may even end up with a new pet.
All of that happened because of someone's authentic desire to help a few pent-up puppies and find a way to make it better for them, if only for an hour.
The story blew up in a very positive way because of its sincerity; because of its emotional power; because it inspires people to wonder “what can I do to make this life better?”
What CAN you and your company do?
Whatever it is, don't do it for the press, the likes and the shares.
Do it because it's important to you. Do it because it needs to be done. Do it because it does, indeed, make this life better.
Everything else is gravy.
(Photo Credit: Luis Escobar)
Today is July 4, 2016. More than 240 years ago, a bunch of guys had a pretty good idea: to formally break away from an oppressive ruler and form their own nation; a nation built on personal liberties and a government of the people.
Crazy? Impractical? Even suicidal?
It must have seemed that way to many people back then. After all, humans aren't equipped with 20/20 foresight, so who could blame the doubters, right?
But thank God for those crazy, impractical dreamers who, yes, risked their lives for their idea.
It could have gone down in flames as history's most poorly conceived experiment. It's certainly come close to collapsing a few times over its nearly two-and-a-half centuries.
But because of the tremendous pride, passion, fight and flexibility of the generations that descended from those founding fathers, the idea has survived.
So, here's to ideas. Bold, risky, costly, courageous, game-changing ideas.
Ideas that don't stand a chance...until they do.
Ideas that fail miserably, because they are the fertile soil in which the most fruitful ideas grow.
In your work, be a dreamer. Ask “what if...?” and “why not?” Imagine. Push for better. That group of people with the grand idea did, and you owe your entire way of life and work to their revolutionary thinking.
Now, it's your turn.
Yeah, it’s just a game.
But I’m feeling better than usual this morning - the morning after the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first NBA title in franchise history.
I was born just outside of Cleveland - east side. I grew up there - west side. Then, I left for college at age 18 and I haven’t lived there since - almost 35 years now.
But it’s still my city. And Cleveland teams are still my teams. Through all the moments of disappointment. Through all the seasons without hope. Through the worst drought any fan has ever had to endure, they were - and always will be - my teams.
And I’m far from the only one who feels that way.
So, if teams that consistently and even predictably underperform can maintain a passionate fan base, you can certainly find ways to encourage customer loyalty, right?
Each team is different; not just from city to city, but from year to year. As players and coaches change, teams develop unique personalities and playing styles. Their marketing departments may even latch onto those differences and promote them. What’s unique about your team? What are the benefits of that uniqueness? How can you spread the word about your brand’s style and personality?
In post-game interviews, many of the Cavs talked about believing in themselves, despite the fact that no team in NBA history had come back from a three-games-to-one deficit. What about your team members? Do they believe in what they do every day? Do they look for ways to improve? Do they understand how important their roles and their performance are to customer perception and your company’s success?
Next season, the Cavs will be the team to beat. And yes, there will be even greater pressure on them to repeat. Likewise, how does your team improve its game to meet tougher competition and rising customer expectations? Do you have a goal - or several - that everybody is shooting for? Are you all moving in the same direction, unified and focused?
Those are all questions you need to address before you can maximize customer loyalty.
If you’re a Cavaliers fan, take a few days to enjoy the team’s success, and then get back to work on your own. Let us know if we can help.
I love that I can't get a Chick-fil-A sandwich on Sunday.
In case you don't know, the restaurant is closed on Sundays. And they have been for 70 years, ever since there were founded in May of 1946.
In 2013, Chick-fil-A earned $5.1 billion in revenue, an average of $16.3 million per day for each of the six days a week their stores are open.
Assuming they'd bring in that same $16.3 million each Sunday, the company would rake in another $800 million per year simply by following the rest of the retail world and conducting business every day of the week.
But they don't.
They sacrifice that money to stay true to what they believe is important: giving their employees and customers "an opportunity to rest, spend time with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so," according to their website.
How many companies would stay committed to a decades-old founding principle when faced with a nearly one billion dollar temptation?
It was easy 70 year ago. In fact, it would have been rare - and often illegal - to conduct business on Sunday due to Blue Laws.
But today, Chick-fil-A's "closed on Sunday" policy is very unusual among national brands. It's also authentic. It's part of who they've always been. It's an ideal they uphold despite its tremendous impact on their bottom line. And it's a commitment that I and many others admire greatly.
Are you sacrificing any of your personal values for the sake of business?
Are you staying true to what's important to you and what you know is right, whether it pertains to how you treat customers and employees or how you manufacture your product?
Are you worried that following your heart will cost you? It doesn't seem to be hurting Chick-fil-A. It's only made their company stronger, and differentiated their brand in a very admirable way.
First, have you heard of Point-of-Entry Marketing?
If not, you might like to know that it's much less wasteful than traditional advertising. It doesn't require you to buy any type of media. (How huge is that?) And it allows you to focus your most important messages on your interested prospects and current customers.
Next, every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to strengthen your unique brand identity - unless, of course, you're trying to do it with content that your competitors are using, too.
Believe it or not, there are companies selling that approach to branding and companies that are buying it. Learn how you can avoid that trap in BusinessVoice Director Steve Evert's latest blog post. It's called "Unique Content and a Memorable Caller Experience."
Finally, if you'd like to start writing humorous or more creative content for your brand, check out this short pre-recorded webinar I presented recently. This abridged version is only 20 minutes long and features insight on how you can be more creative and why creative marketing is so important. I also break down a few examples of humor to show why they are or aren't effective. Listen here.
As always, let us know if our team can help you with any aspect of your marketing. Have a great week.
I spoke with the president of a company the other day. He told me that one of his main marketing concerns is that his many websites don't have the same look and feel. The company has two distinctly different logos as well.
Another company we know of has not only a few different logos on their exterior signage, but a slightly different version of the company's name on several stores.
And yet another company has three or four different versions of their logo on various stores and vehicles.
What about your brand elements? Your colors, your images, the "voice" and attitude of your written content, and yes, your logo?
Do your collateral pieces feel like your website? Do your print ads align with your online ads? Do your radio spots sound like your TV spots look?
Why should they?
Because, damn, this world's a noisy place! And breaking through that noise can be both difficult and expensive. If everything you put in front of your audience isn't simple, clear and consistent, you're making it harder for people to remember you. And that means you might be wasting money and opportunities to connect with new customers.
Have you reviewed your brand identity lately? Take a look at your website, exterior signage, lobbies, points of sale, audio and video, your brochures, leave-behinds, invoices, business cards, etc.
Do they all look and feel the same, as if one person or team created them?
Now, does it seem like they were all designed or produced in 1982? If so, potential customers might perceive your products and service as tired, not innovative, and not a solution for today's world.
Are there several people or teams contributing content to your online channels? If so, is it all funneled through a brand manager to ensure consistency?
Do you have - and follow - a brand standards guide?
If you could ask your target audience what your brand stands for, and why it's different, better or necessary for them, would they answer the way you'd want?
There are many more questions to answer before you can focus the full power of your brand on the marketplace. We're good at asking those sorts of questions.
Now, it's my pleasure to tell you about a few examples of great customer service that I enjoyed recently and the valuable takeaway to keep in mind.
Story #1: A Little Extra Effort
Two of my kids and I were eating lunch at our hometown Chipotle.
I walked up near the cashier's side of the counter to get some extra sour cream – because, yeah, I consume too much sour cream.
The entire crew was very busy serving the lunch crowd. So, after waiting maybe a minute for an opening to talk with the cashier, I went back to my table, realizing that she would be tied up for a while.
Within a couple of minutes, Caroline the cashier came up to our table and said, "Hi, I saw you standing near the counter. Can I help you with something?"
I don't believe I had ever experienced that type of proactive service in a restaurant before. Caroline had an awareness of me as a customer - even though she was very busy - and then followed up as quickly as possible to see how she could help. And she did it with a sincere smile.
That may seem like a little thing, but so often with so many other types of businesses, I've seen much more obvious customer service opportunities pass by without a staff member seeming to care.
Story #2: A Very Valuable Effort
My wife called me one day in January to let me know that her van had just made "a serious noise" and that it didn't want to move.
Broken rear axle.
We had it towed to a shop that a few friends recommended - Continental Service. John from Continental called me an hour later with good news: our vehicle had been recalled a few months before we bought it because of the axle issue.
John's research - and his commitment to helping his customers - saved us $1,100.
He saved us an additional $300 when he realized that another problem with the van was likely caused by the tow truck. The towing company agreed and paid for the repair.
By that point, I was falling head-over-heels in love with John.
A few weeks after repairing our vehicle and saving us a load of loot in the process, we received a card from John thanking us for our business.
An actual thank you card! From an auto repair shop! Have you ever even dared to dream of such a thing?
Both Caroline and John went above and beyond to help me. Yes, one "just" brought me a cup of sour cream and the other saved me $1,400, but I wrote this blog post about both of them. I've told friends about both. I contacted Chipotle Corporate to share the story about Caroline, and I offered to work with John on some of his marketing free of charge because I wanted to help him as he had helped me.
Outstanding customer service is so rare these days that it's almost shocking to those who experience it. It can produce in people an instant lifelong connection with a brand. And in the two examples above, the extra effort didn't cost either company a dime.
Marketing and advertising are essential for your business, but even the best marketing and advertising won't guarantee your success. Make sure those efforts are always driving your audience to a positive, memorable customer experience; one worth talking about! That's what'll keep your customers coming back and perpetuating the best advertising of all: great word-of-mouth.
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