The MadAveGroup Blog
The MadAve Blog (305)
Did you ever read a great blog post and think, "Hey, I've been saying that for years! I could have written that post for my own blog."
But you didn't write it.
Why? Probably because you didn't think the idea was important or special enough.
I had that same experience when I read Seth Godin's post on résumés called "References Available Upon Request."
In it, Seth advises ditching the self-serving objective at the top of your résumé, but including the sparkling testimonials you've collected from past managers or clients. Don't make potential employers ask for those references. They may not, which means they may never see your unique value.
In other words, give your audience information that will make it easy for them to choose you.
As I read Seth's post, I recognized the advice I had shared with others many times, but had never published in this blog.
I'll bet your marketing suffers from the same type of problem.
You probably do something very special at your company. Maybe many things. But you don't recognize them as special or unique because you do them every day. You don't see the value in them – just like I didn't see the value in my advice about résumés, until I read it in someone else's blog.
If your marketing content is obvious or safe or trite or expected (like a typical résumé objective), you're blending in. You're not making it easy for your audience to choose you.
So, look around. Identify those unique "nuggets" that are so much a part of your culture you take them for granted. Share those qualities or practices or commitments with your audience. That's the good stuff. Use it to differentiate your brand in an authentic way.
It seems that many people who work in retail have forgotten the phrase "thank you."
That's a shame. And it's a missed marketing opportunity.
When I am handed something at a store – whether it's a sackful of drive-thru food, a snappy beige turtleneck, or that foxy new rake I had my eye on – I say thank you. Always.
But I find that most retail workers I encounter don't thank me for coming to their store, or for giving them money, or for supporting their job. They simply respond to my thank you with "no problem" or "sure thing" or "you bet."
Those colloquialisms can be friendly, but they don't replace the powerful words "thank you."
They don't reinforce a customer's value to your company. They don't say "we appreciate that you chose our business over our competitors."
I'll go as far to say that anything shy of a sincere "thank you" is lazy and detrimental to your brand, especially if you show happy, smiley employees in your TV commercials or on your website. Customers may perceive the disconnect between your brand identity and their real experience as a broken promise.
But when you encourage a culture that breeds proactively polite treatment of your customers, a lot of your marketing goals will take care of themselves. People will happily come back. And they'll spread your message for you through friends and online reviews. (Here's another way.)
What could be quicker, easier and less expensive than acknowledging each customer's decision to buy from you with a simple expression of thanks? And what other modest investment could pay better returns?
When people say "I hate advertising," they don't mean it.
How do I know?
No one hates to be given unique information they can really use.
No one hates having their eyes opened in an unexpected way.
No one hates the feeling that someone identifies with - and can solve - their problem.
No one hates laughing or being moved emotionally.
And no one even hates spending a little time in exchange for true value.
Good advertising and marketing deliver many or all of those benefits.
When people say "I hate advertising," what they really mean is "I hate bad advertising."
So, don't settle for bad advertising - the type people turn away from or merely tolerate. Your brand is too important to attach careless phrases and images to it, and too valuable not to put intelligent thought into how it's presented.
Demand more. Hold out for better. It'll be worth it.
Are you saying the same thing everyone else in your industry is saying?
Or are you saying the same thing you've always said, the same way you've always said it?
For decades, flight attendants with all airlines have recited pretty much the same pre-flight safety speech. It's probably fair to say that most passengers have heard it so often that they stopped listening long ago.
Maybe that lack of attention is what inspired the Southwest Airlines flight attendant in the video above to come up with a new way of delivering familiar information.
Not only did she command her passengers' complete attention for a full three minutes, she turned a typically boring presentation into a treat. Any time you can begin a relationship with customers that way, you're off to a good start.
Laughter reduces stress and puts people at ease. When your brand is the source of the laughter, you pull people closer; you're more real, more approachable, more likable. (It's more fun for you, too.)
When creating humorous content for our clients, one thing we do is play with the conventions of advertising - exaggerating or poking fun at those familiar phrases or concepts you might expect to hear in a marketing message. That's exactly what this flight attendant did - to great effect.
Before you can deliver any message effectively, you must first get your audience's attention. The Southwest flight attendant still presented all the facts that other flight attendants do. The difference was that her audience was actually listening and engaged because of the way she did it.
I asked a few people around our office for their thoughts. Eleven of the fourteen said they depend on their sight more than any other sense. (Three people chose hearing.)
Probably what you'd expect, right?
And the rest of the world relies just as much on their eyes to gather information. That's why so much marketing and advertising is visual.
There's no arguing that you need to reach out to consumers in visual and audible ways, but to stand out in this very visual world, you need to create a more complete brand experience - one that engages another powerful sense: smell.
Take a look at this post on our SensoryMax blog. You'll see why using a signature scent to create tighter bonds with your customers is more important than ever.
Call processing solutions, such as auto attendants, IVRs and automatic call distribution systems, can deliver a lot of value for your company.
But - and this is a BIG but - if the announcements and call flow aren't designed with an efficient, positive caller experience in mind, those systems can lead to serious headaches for your customers, plus brand damage and lost revenue for your company.
Creative Consultant Andrea Poteet takes a light-hearted approach to the problem as she relates some of her personal experience with hellish call processing systems. Read her post on the BusinessVoice blog.
I received a voicemail from a man named Chris. He works for a marketing service provider, and said he would like to talk with me.
He let me know that a few of my colleagues had looked into information on increasing retainers and improving profit margins, and that he could help me with those issues as well. I deleted his message.
A few days later, Chris sent me an email with that same benefit statement, and requested a 10-minute appointment. I deleted his message.
After a day or two, he left me a second voicemail with basically the same message as the first. But this time, he asked if he could speak with me for 10 minutes on a specific day. I deleted his message.
Chris sent a second email, mentioning that he'd helped other agencies like mine. I deleted his message, but I looked up his company online.
He then found me on LinkedIn and sent me an invitation to connect. I accepted his invitation.
Within hours, he sent me a LinkedIn message with the same benefit statement and asked if we could talk for 10 minutes the next day. I made the appointment.
Simply putting your message out there isn't enough. Marketing yourself or your company successfully takes work, persistence, consistency, and a sincere belief in what you do or sell. It also helps if you can reach out to your target audience using many methods of communication.
Remember the VW "Lemon" scene in the first season of Mad Men? The reaction to the self-effacing Volkswagen ad is disgust or laughter, but the ad definitely changes the way that Creative Director Don Draper and his staff approach their next pitch.
The point is made that the more you know about your competition, the better you can develop your own strategies and campaigns.
To distinguish yourself from the rest, you have to know what the rest are doing. Twitter is one platform that can help you learn what your competitors are up to.
It's true that, even in 2014, Twitter is a somewhat polarizing platform. Since its inception in 2006, entrepreneurial magazines like Inc have deemed it a "comer," until recently.
In my experience, prevailing attitudes either embrace Twitter as a fresh method of communication or rebuke it with a dismissive "I don't use that." Although the difference is said to be in the usage demographics, personal opinion won't change the fact that the little blue bird will be with us for the foreseeable future.
In fact, Twitter has become a branding agent, marking distinctly those companies that are in-the-know from those that aren't. Syndicating posts from Facebook, while it may save time, implies a lack of creativity, a lack of hipness to the pulse of the industry, and worst of all, a disservice to clients.
So why Twitter?
For better or worse, Twitter is here to stay. Reports project it will rival or even surpass Facebook, which is predicted to experience a 20% drop in active users by 2015.
Market research is essential. When I log into a client's Twitter feed, not only can I see my updates, but I see the competition. I see industry news outlets. And I see Google's industry-specific news feed, with targeted commentary from other businesses and individuals in the field. At that moment, Twitter becomes more than just a place to rank with SEO value. It becomes an incredibly user-friendly industry snapshot with a real-time feed.
Organic engagement. Most marketers are keenly aware of the effect of community engagement on a company's brand and public image. Social media marketing is everywhere – it exists on customers' smart phones, right below photos of their cousin's wedding, or next to their best friend's update on the progress of the Knicks game. It incorporates a brand into their personal lives. And Twitter brings that brand as close to potential customers as possible, with updates in real time.
Keep it social, not syndicated. People will notice if you're just making noise and not participating in the conversation. They'll see that your content isn't customized, fresh or original. They'll spot automation in a second. And it's that lack of humanism that will make the most difference – that will define the brands and companies to watch for the foreseeable future. It's called social media for a reason.
The Twitter snapshot is real. While community engagement should be at the forefront, also keep in mind that the "Twitter snapshot" is a built-in, customizable, extremely powerful marketing tool. You want to be an expert in trends? Now you can. Are your clients in the auto industry? Mechanical? Healthcare? How about marketing itself? Do you know what people are talking about right now, in your own industry?
It takes more than a few clicks of the Follow button – it takes time, personnel education, and a commitment to paying attention.
Effective marketing doesn't refute trends – it learns to use them as successfully as possible. So the next time you find yourself saying "I don't use that," think again. Whether it's Twitter or another platform, the most benefits for content marketing right now will be found when we fully engage in conversations.
My wife and I both noticed that our electricity went out at 8am this morning.
Yet, by 8:02, she had tried to flip on a couple of lights, and I couldn't figure out why the CD player wouldn't work.
It makes us do goofy things sometimes, even when our brains tell us those things are not logical, or the best choices, or even good for us.
Depending on what you sell, habit maybe the toughest obstacle you need to overcome.
Your most serious competitor may not offer a better product than you; their customers just may be used to doing business with them. That means that you can win those customers if you provide enough of a reason for them to break their habit.
If you buy that logic, though, you need to accept that many of your customers may be with you out of habit as well, and that they're just as susceptible to poaching by your competitors. That's another reason to always provide a unique and satisfying customer experience.
Habits are often set by convenience. So, how can you make it easier for people to buy from you? What obstacles can you remove from your processes? Your website? Your stores? Your attitudes about customer service?
Learn as much as you can about your competitors. How do they make buying easier for their customers? Is their website more intuitive, simpler in design, or easier to use?
And think about your own purchasing habits. What do you do or buy without even thinking about it? Examine why that is, and consider what it would take to make you change your habits. Then, apply those ideas to your own company's operations and marketing.
Compared to the ever-changing Internet and new social media channels that seem to pop up rather frequently, On Hold Marketing has been a relatively consistent communication tool over the years.
And the reason those who use it keep using it is simple: it works.
A recent survey of people whose companies already use On Hold Marketing shows that they are clearly satisfied with OHM's role in their marketing efforts. And the numbers are pretty interesting.
Take a look at the breakdown of the "On Hold Messaging User Satisfaction Research" on the BusinessVoice blog.