The MadAveGroup Blog
I have an opportunity each month to answer marketing-related questions for the Forbes Agency Council. Thoughts from council members are then published at Forbes.com. This blog post is the fifth in a series featuring a few of my responses to those Forbes questions. The theme: Content Creation.
Question: It's one of the top goals of any company's marketing campaign - a strong, unique voice that unmistakably belongs to and reflects their brand and puts them top of mind with consumers. What's one way companies can create and cultivate a strong voice for their brand?
Answer: A brand's message can get watered down with marketing-speak or when trying to appeal to everyone or offend no one. If there's a leader in your company who talks in a bold, no-nonsense way about your mission and your customers, pattern your marketing content after his or her communication style. It'll likely be perceived as unique because it's so personal. It'll also ring true with your audience.
Question: Whether it's topic, venue, voice or other factors, what's your best tip for writing content that will have a long shelf life?
Answer: Yes, hot topics can attract lots of eyeballs immediately, but they can also quickly fade in relevance. If you've been doing what you do for many years, you've likely learned many valuable lessons along the way. They may be simple, foundational truths that we all need to be reminded of from time to time. As blog posts, those truths can serve both your current audience and future readers.
Question: User-generated content in the form of reviews can be one of the most powerful and effective marketing tools, but it can be hard to get happy customers to take the time to write it. What's one clever method a business can use to persuade customers to post a review?
Answer: We've worked with clients who seem almost embarrassed to ask for reviews. But when consumers are excited about a buying experience, they often want to share their opinions. So, encourage that. When someone is happy at the point of sale, ask them to share their feelings on social, a review site or with an email. Everyone wants to feel like their thoughts matter. Let your customers know theirs do.
Question: A blog can position a company or brand as an industry leader and attractive potential business partner. What's one piece of advice your client should adhere to when launching a blog to highlight their brand?
Answer: Your blog doesn't have to be about your brand directly in order to benefit your brand. If your posts are just thinly veiled ads for your company, no one will read them. So, tell stories about your customers and industry, your personal experiences, even odd topics that support your brand story. The goal of your blog should be to provide your readers with valuable insight and a unique perspective.
This post is the second in a series of articles that features my responses to questions put to members of the Forbes Agency Council. The theme again is brand.
Question: What is one thing brands should know when planning this year’s holiday campaigns?
Answer: Along with the benefits of your product, let your audience know what's convenient about ordering it, returning it, assembling it, even paying for it. Your holiday campaign will have to compete with a lot of other messages, and it'll run during a hectic time of year. Make purchasing your product more attractive to busy, distracted consumers by showcasing your quick and easy buying process.
Question: With so much noise in the marketing space, brand loyalty is paramount. What’s one way companies can increase brand loyalty?
Answer: You could be adding to the marketing noise if you're trying to be everything to everybody. By giving your audience too much to think about, you may be confusing them and preventing them from retaining a strong image of your brand. Determine what your core value is to consumers and find more ways to reinforce that specific value, rather than always introducing new topics into the conversation.
Question: If a company is considering a rebrand, what is one of the most important questions its executives should ask themselves before rebranding?
Answer: Will a re-brand endanger the brand equity you've built up over the years? If the changes you make are drastic, will your current customers embrace them? If not, then what? Is the potential lure of new customers strong enough to risk alienating or confusing your current base? Is it possible that polishing up your current brand elements would give you the best of old and new?
When you want to encourage customers to buy, you spend time and effort crafting marketing and advertising messages that will be meaningful to that audience.
But what about when you need to motivate your staff members to learn a new skill or make an improvement to your workflow? Do you just send a quick email and hope they’ll make the desired change?
In both cases, the goal is the same: you’re trying to promote specific behavior. And in both cases, the audience is basically the same. It’s people. Yes, one group buys from you and the other group works with you, but members of both audiences receive hundreds of requests for their attention each day. If you want the message for your employees to resonate, it needs to be crafted with as much care as your marketing copy.
Let’s say you want your team to adopt a new process. Consider sharing the interesting backstory behind that new process with them. How will it help people? How will it reinforce your company’s mission or core values? When your team understands why the change has been made - and even what’s in it for them - they’re more likely to line up behind that new process.
3 Tips on Treating Your Internal Team Like an Audience
1) Keep your content as concise as possible. That will make it easier for your staff to consume and remember it.
2) A single memo is not likely to do the job. Repeat the main idea, but in different ways and through different channels. Most people need to be exposed to a message several times before it takes hold, but not everyone learns and retains information the same way.
On day one, for instance, you might send an email about the new process. For day two, record a company-wide voicemail answering a common question about the process. On day three, talk about the benefits of the new process at the company meeting. Day four: create and share a quick video to relate a success story about the process.
3) Just as you wouldn’t spend all your time with an audience of customers talking about yourself, be sure to focus on the needs of your internal audience. Help your team cope with the new process. Answer their questions. Give them tips. Remind them how the change makes things better. In other words, deliver value in exchange for their attention.
On 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.
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.
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 or embarrassment. 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.
I was working with a copywriter a few months back, helping him develop some P-O-P content for a grocery store chain.
We were looking for a different angle on the store's produce department when an image of corn on the cob popped into my head.
Corn is a miracle, I remembered.
About eight years prior, I planted corn for the first time. With great anticipation, I pushed each seed about an inch below the dirt, covered them all with more dirt, and then watered my rows.
Within a week, the first signs of new life sprouted from the ground.
By the end of the summer, I was walking through stalks taller than me. And each one had real corn attached! It was thrilling.
All the beauty of my humble corn patch and all the corn it produced came from a little brown bag of dry seed dropped into dry dirt.
That's when I realized that corn is a miracle. A common, everyday miracle.
That understanding led to content that was different than “Hey, come buy our corn!” The message was about the abundance that we enjoy in this nation, and a reminder of just how lucky we are to have what we have.
And maybe, I thought, my words could help a few people enjoy their own moment of awe and appreciation.
From a marketing standpoint, that story always reminds me that there's more than one way to present a product or service to an audience.
As a human being, it reminds me that corn is far from the only miracle that we've been gifted with in this life.
In this season of miracles, I wish for you that realization every day.
Thank you for reading this blog post. Truly, it means a lot to me that you’re investing the time.
And if you’re a client of ours, thank you for allowing us to serve you, and for the trust you place in us. You are the reason we get to do what we love to do.
There are other ways we express our thanks, too. We train consistently. We improve processes frequently. We work to expand our outlook and sharpen our work every day.
We do that for you and our other clients.
As a way of saying “you made a good call when you chose us.”
As a way of reinforcing that we’re committed to your long-term success.
Now, as I often do in this blog, I’ll challenge you with a few questions.
How are you expressing thanks to your customers or clients? Is it a strong, company-wide commitment to literally say “thank you” at the point of sale? Is it a rewards program? Is it providing extra special added value to long-time buyers? Is it a simple, meaningful handshake?
Consumers have a lot of choices. A sincere thank you can go a long way toward earning their loyalty.
Have you heard the good news? There’s an amazing pillow you can buy that eliminates insomnia, sleep apnea, acid reflux, even cerebral palsy!
The only problem is it doesn’t fix any of that stuff.
So consumer protection officials in California slapped the makers of MyPillow with a $1 million fine for making those false health claims in their advertising.
It’s no secret that, over the years, more than a few marketers have stretched the truth a bit when describing the products they sell. But I encourage you to fight that urge should you start to feel it.
Here’s a quote from one of the internal training videos we produced for our new Creative Consultants - our writers:
“First and foremost - don’t lie. Don’t ever lie with your copy. Don’t even exaggerate. People will figure out very quickly when you’re full of bologna and when your copy is misleading just to get them in the door. We don’t want to be those folks. Instead, shine a light on what is real, what is unique, what is valuable about that client. We’re not here to try to fool anybody, because it’s just not going to work, and it’s going to come back sooner or later to haunt the client.”
That honest approach to marketing and communication will endear you to customers.
It may also force you to examine your company’s value. The reason: If you can’t develop a message or create content that paints an appealing picture of your product without resorting to wild assertions and hyperbole, you’ll need to ask yourself why that is.
Then, maybe, instead of spending time and money to advertise exaggerated claims, you can commit those resources to building a better product, process or experience that’s more likely to sell itself.
The MadAveGroup creative team took away a nice haul from this year’s MarCom Awards: four awards total, including two platinum trophies and a gold. Take a look at the work and a few details below.
Platinum Award - SensoryMax Website
Designer: Greg Stawicki
Copywriter: Scott Greggory
Developer: Charley Hobbs
Platinum Award - Binkelman On Hold Marketing / “That’s Pretty Hot”
Writer: Scott Greggory
Voices: Scott Greggory and Amy Scott
Recording Engineer: Don Binkley
Gold Award - International Translating Company On Hold Marketing / “Talented Tongues”
Writers: Cody McCloskey and Scott Greggory
Voices: Scott Greggory and Bob Seybold
Recording Engineers: Don Binkley
Honorable Mention - Arrowwood Lodge On Hold Marketing / “Flippin’ TV”
Writers: Andrea Poteet, Cody McCloskey and Scott Greggory
Main Voices: Scott Greggory, Bob Seybold, Amy Scott, Ed Hunter and Steve Lovvorn
Recording Engineer: Chris Zaharias
The MarCom Awards honor “outstanding achievement by creative professionals involved in the concept, direction, design and production of marketing and communication materials and programs.”
MarCom judges review about 6,000 entries from 34 countries and 300 categories related to print, web, video and strategic communications.
Nick Mitsos and Mountain View Tire have been named Tire Dealer of the Year by Modern Tire Dealer magazine. MVT was selected as the 19th annual recipient of the award from more than 33,000 eligible independent tire dealers throughout North America.
Mountain View Tire is a 30-store tire and automotive service company that serves Los Angeles and southern California. The company will celebrate its 25th year in business in 2012.
Mountain View Tire was nominated for the honor by its marketing agency, BusinessVoice. “We’ve worked with the Mitsos family and Mountain View Tire since 2005, and I can confidently say that no one is more deserving of this award,” said Scott Greggory, BusinessVoice Creative Director. A panel of judges evaluates the nominees on their business success, marketing and management skills, industry knowledge and community involvement.
“Mountain View Tire is known as the ‘home of the WOW experience,’” said Greggory. “That customer-first attitude begins at the top with [founder] Nick Mitsos, and permeates the culture. The success of their approach is reflected in the testimonials that Mountain View Tire’s customers voluntarily send in and the long-lasting relationships they’ve developed over the years.”
BusinessVoice and its in-house web company, WebArt, provide several Point-Of-Entry Marketing services to Mountain View Tire, including Website Design-and-Build, Website Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, BE-Mail Email Marketing and On Hold Marketing.
Modern Tire Dealer, the magazine that presents the Tire Dealer of the Year award, has been the industry’s leading publication since 1919.