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Aroma MarketingWhich of your five senses do you rely on most?

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. 

Phone HellCall 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

Marketing SuccessI 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.

Twitter LogoRemember 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.

Overcoming  Consumer HabitsMy 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.

Habit.

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.

On Hold Marketing SurveyCompared 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

Super Bowl 2014 CommercialsIt's the Monday after Super Bowl 48. (Sorry. I'm not so good with Roman numerals.)

So, whadya' think?

No, not about that beat-down on the field. What did you think about the commercials?

The consensus around our office is "Eh..." And the lack of memorable creative got me wondering:

  • Is the pre-game hype surrounding advertising's annual showcase leaving us with expectations that can no longer be met?
  • Has the fact that so many of the commercials are "leaked" prior to the game taken away one of the keys to their success: the element of surprise?
  • Have we seen all those ideas before?
  • Or were the spots just not as good as in years past?

Let us know what you think. You can watch the 2014 Super Bowl commercials here. You can also revisit the spots from previous years.

Dumb Ways to DieIn the summer of 2013, my ten-year old daughter introduced me to the catchiest tune I had heard in a long time.

But it wasn't a song on the radio.

It was "Dumb Ways to Die," the musical soundtrack for a public service campaign presented by Metro, the franchise operator of Melbourne, Australia's railway network. The campaign was created to raise awareness of the potential dangers surrounding commuter trains.

The clever song accompanies an animated video filled with charmingly simple characters, many of whom resemble friendly jelly beans. While most of them "die" in a darkly humorous but improbable fashion, the last three characters meet their demise by acting foolishly around trains: jumping between station platforms, driving around crossing gates, and falling onto the tracks.

Both the song and the video are so engaging that you can't but help listen and watch over and over again. As of late January 2014, the video had been watched nearly 70 million times on YouTube alone. 

The campaign has its detractors, but according to Metro, it helped reduce near-miss accidents at railway crossings by more than 30% within three months of its release. And an executive behind the campaign estimated it had received at least $50 million in global media value from the social sharing and 700 media stories it encouraged. 

What's the Takeaway for You?

Plush ToysThe creators of "Dumb Ways to Die" knew their message of "be safe around trains" had to be heard and shared if it was to stick. So, they made it irresistibly enjoyable as a piece of entertainment first, and then slipped in lessons that looked and sounded just like the jokes. It's what I refer to as the "spoonful of sugar" approach.

As your customers are exposed to a greater number of media messages each year, your company's marketing becomes harder to notice and recall, unless you begin with an unusual approach and the commitment to creating truly memorable content.

By the way, those very cute "Dumb Ways to Die" characters are about to pay off in another way: they'll soon be coming to stores as a series of plush toys. (Read the story.)

photo1-croppedWhen you consistently use your advertising, website or packaging to entertain as well as inform, you're likely to increase the anticipation of future encounters with your brand.

In other words, if your previous commercials, for instance, have made your audience laugh, those people are more likely to watch your future commercials, rather than actively avoid them.

Here's another example. While getting ready for work the other day, I saw my Old Spice deodorant and was reminded of the company's very funny TV spots and online videos. Then, I wondered if they had thought to inject their brand personality into their packaging. And sure enough, they had.

Old Spice 350When I flipped over the container, I saw the content on the right. I chuckled and even read the copy to my wife.

I already like Old Spice products, but my previous experience with their funny marketing got me to interact with the product more than I typically would. And that bonus of the funny content on the container endears the brand to me even more. Why?

1) It shows that they care about my experience with their product. They want it to be enjoyable, unique and memorable.

2) It tells me they don't take themselves too seriously. Sure, deodorant sales may represent a huge portion of their revenue, but Old Spice understands that the product category is just not that important in the lives of their customers. By making their products more fun to interact with, they make them more valuable. 

As a marketer, I love that they're consistent with their brand identity to the point that consumers can COUNT on being entertained at every Old Spice touch point - the advertising, the website and the products themselves.

What can you do to spice up your marketing, and create content for every point of consumer contact that's more engaging, endearing and worth sharing?

Boggle 1 CropHave you ever played Boggle?

The idea of the game is to make as many words as possible by "connecting" the letters on the dice that are touching each other.

As an experiment, take a minute or two to see how many words you can find using the image on the left.

We played Boggle for many months at my house. Then, one day, we added a twist.

Now, about halfway through each game, we spin the container that holds the dice 180 degrees.

And it never fails.

Once our view of the dice changes, we all start to see words we hadn't seen before. Give it a try: Do you spot any new words in the "twisted" view of the dice below?

Boggle 2 CropAs a new year begins, I urge you to "spin the dice." Change how you look at your marketing goals, obstacles, tools, content and style to see if there are any interesting possibilities hiding right beneath your nose.

A few ideas:

  • Throw a wrench into how or where you conduct marketing meetings. Changing the day, time, format, length or location of your meetings can add new life to them. Remove the chairs once so everyone has to stand. Does that affect the energy in the room? Hold your next marketing meeting at an art museum, in a beautiful park, or right after taking a tour of a client's facility.

  • Add a few new temporary members to the team, even if they aren't technically marketing people. You never know who may come up with a game-changing idea or identify problems or solutions that you've never considered. In a few months, switch out that first group of temporary marketers with another batch to keep the unique input coming.

  • Try looking at your clients differently this year. You may work directly with them every week, but they still might be your greatest untapped source of new revenue. What else do they need - and how can you meet those needs? What other marketing channels can you use to communicate with them? How can you leverage your client relationships to appeal to each client's extended business network?

Sometimes, the most obvious answers are right in front of you. It may only take a fresh perspective for those answers to reveal themselves.

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