Archive for the ‘marketing’ Tag

Brand New or New Branding?

Original and now new again Tropicana packaging on the left, new but now old generic branding on the right.

Original and now new again Tropicana packaging on the left, new but now old generic branding on the right.

This has been a busy year for companies trying to get noticed.  Now I can understand with the recession and all that there is cause for concern and more reason to bring attention to your business.  But attention alone doesn’t make a customer suddenly what to do more business with you.  There is something to be said about familarity too as well as what kind of attention you bring to yourself.

Eariler this year Tropicana brought attention to itself by switching it’s packaging.  A whole new look brought much attention for this orange juice icon.  However, the attention was not positive.  Amazingly, Tropicana was not able to have the forsight to realize that trading in a premium branding campaign built up over decades with a generic branding campaign anyone could have come up with wasn’t a good idea.  It makes it harder to justify a premium price too if your branding reflects a generic brand.  Customer outcry made them realize the mistake and a few months later, and a bunch of marketing dollars shorter, and the original branding is back. 

I’m driving to work and pass by the local Wal-Mart Super Center – what the heck is that funny new logo?  Oh my gosh, did they paint over the trademark blue on the outside of the building?  I just can’t help thinking this is a change for the sake of change without any business reasoning behind it.  I’ve never seen a shortage of cars in their parking lot and I’ve never stood in line for less than 30 minutes just to buy a pack of batteries.  Love ’em or hate ’em, the new branding is just going to further irk detractors and alienate core customers, in my opinion.  Wal-Mart is too much of an institution than a store – maybe more of a tradition as generations of families have been brought up under it’s roof.  You just don’t mess with tradition.  I’d love to see the price tag for this re-branding vs. how much more it actually adds to their bottom line.

How about that new Pepsi logo?  Kinda weird, huh?  Ok, they have always tended to market mostly to a younger demographic, so I’m not going to be too critical of their new branding.  It may not appeal to me, but then again, I haven’t had a soda of any kind in about a decade or so.  I’ll remain nuetral on this one.

Even Maxwell House!

Even Maxwell House! New on the left, older packaging on the right.

I dislike their shoddy, overpriced coffee and over-sugared speciality drinks like Frappacinos, but have always loved Starbucks coffee-flavored ice cream.  I mean, I really love the stuff.  But Starbucks has played musical branding  with it’s packaging  – each time getting more generic in appearance and each time I end up seeing less of it being stocked in the ice cream isle at my local supermarket.  Hmmm….  Then, about 6 months ago it disappered altogether from the shelves for a few months.  I must have bought every other coffee ice cream brand known to man when magically Starbucks coffee ice cream reappeared on the shelves with what’s that, yet another packaging design (and what I swear is a different taste too).  Why can’t they just leave well-enough alone – all these improvements are making it worse.

You’d think I was an anti-new-brander by this blog post so far, but I’m really not.  I love pointing to the rebranding that UPS did a few years back.  They took their tradition with them, enhanced their logo and made the color brown kinda cool.  There was no re-adjustment, no “that’s weird” stage – everything was the same just better.  You didn’t fell like you were doing business with a different company – they maintained their identity.

Now these are big multi-billion dollar corporations with established identities at stake, but what about the small business owner?  What is the identity of your brand – do you have a brand identity?

Usually small business owners start on a small budget and logos and branding tends to be at a lower importance level than other factors in getting the business up and running.  But as your business grows, the importance of your branding grows.  As you become more established in your field, your premium rises.  Just as Tropicana can charge more money for their better known, premium orange juice, your rates for your products or services will increase too.  As your rates increase your customers will expect your branding to reflect this new premium.  Tropicana spent a lot of money learning this lesson – don’t expect a premium while presenting in a generic fashion or stripping away your established indentity.

If you are new to the game then you are in a good position to start off on the right track.  Working with a good design team you can establish the look of a premium brand before you really are one.  Upfront costs in this case are more, but you can save yourself a lot of retooling of your brand down the road.

What does your brand say about you?  Are you a generic, a premium, or somewhere in the middle?

Economy Fight Back

With the current market instability over the Big Fannie-Mac Attack, I have been scanning the marketing and business blogs for some relevant and useful information to share.  There is always an opportunity for those who seek it out, so here is an article that may offer some new ideas if you’re feeling a less than pleasant pinch in your bottom line.

It is an article by John Jangtsch with Duct Tape Marketing called “7 Time-tested Ways to Dig out of a Recession”.

Scan the headlines each day and you won’t have to get very far to stumble upon the word recession or its more palatable cousin “economic downturn.”

It’s times like these that send many small business owners on a quest for the magic recession fighting marketing tip. Today I would like to share my top seven quick fix marketing strategies with the caveat that you understand nothing beats building a marketing system based on a narrowly defined ideal customer and core message of differentiation.

Being the practical guy I am though, I also know that sometimes you need to hear about ways to start getting out of a hole before you can really listen to the message of long term fix. The good news is that these seven strategies, applied effectively, can help you make your business recession proof and unswayed by the various and inevitable cycles in the economy.

Take these seven tips and re-energize your marketing today!

1) Partner with other businesses – Proactively creating strategic partnerships is a great way to generate new leads and build long-term momentum. The trick is to do it ways that are win-win and simple for all parties. Number one rule, only seek marketing partnerships with organizations that you would have no problem referring your best customer too. Adhering to that logical rule alone will make this strategy more effective. Creating motivated strategic partners is simple if you can find a way to tap their self-interest. Take them an effective white paper or seminar idea and let them co-brand and co-sponsor it. That way they have a ready made and logical way to partner with you and you’ve done all the work.

2) Reactivate past customers – Where did I put that customer anyway, I know they are around here somewhere. Sad but true, sometimes we don’t bother to communicate with current customers unless they call with an order. By the time they have decided someone else appreciates their business more, it’s too late. Reach out to lapsed customers and make them an apology, promise to never ignore them again, and make them a smoking hot deal to come back.

3) Get out from behind the computer – Building personal relationships is always in style. It’s very tempting to sit and write blog posts and participate on social networking sites, and while these aren’t always bad things – sometimes you need to go out and shake some hands. Make it a point to go to several industry conferences every year. Join an industry or chamber type group and go to events where you can make connections with prospects and partners. Join a referral group such as BNI and participate. Go visit your customers and ask for referrals.

4) Speak at events, hold workshops – Marketing is essentially a trust building game. Few things build trust more efficiently than getting in front of a group of potential customers and sharing your expertise in an educational setting. Go propose to conduct a hot sounding workshop for your bank, accounting firm, law firm and insurance firm. Check local libraries, chambers, and associations for opportunities. Look in your local business papers and see what groups have speakers listed in calendars of events. Get two of your best customers to help conduct peer2peer webinars to discuss best practices and issues with peers you invite.

5) Fix your follow-up – lead generation and conversion is not a one shot deal. By automating your multiple follow-up messages, scheduling routine marketing touches and sending the occasional thank you, hand written note, you can stay top of mind when the buying and referral decisions are made. The longer the sales cycle for your industry or service the better your follow-up needs to be. There is so much that technology can do for you here, let it!

6) Repackage your products and services with offers to act – This goes along with differentiating really, but sometimes you’ve got to give that tired old dog a new look. Find simple ways to relaunch yourself, your people, your products, your services, your packaging, to give yourself a new start in your market. You don’t need to start from scratch, look for innovative ways to repackage, reprice, redeliver, reguarantee and recommunicate about what you do. Make them an offer they can’t refuse, make it so bold they must rehear you.

7) Fix the marketing gaps – In every way, shape, and form that your business comes into contact with your prospects and customers it is performing a marketing function – good or bad. You must look at all of your customer touchpoints and turn them into positive, brand-building opportunities. Tear down the lead generations touches, sales touches, service touches, delivery touches, follow-up touches, transaction touches, and billing touches and make sure that every single one of them is a performing a killer marketing function for your business.

Maybe by now you’ve surmised that all of the items above are good for business, no matter the economy, it’s just that sometimes you need a fix or two to get restarted.

Automatically Tracking the Source of Phone Call Leads

It is easy to track visitors that come to your site from a search engine, a Google PPC campaign or who have emailed you from your Contact Us page, but tracking what led to a customer picking up the phone and calling you has been a bit tricky.  For years, we have had to remind our clients to make sure to ask “How did you hear about us” everytime they recieve a call from a new lead.  A simple solution on the surface, but it is not always a question that gets remembered to get asked or if it is, it might not get officially logged anywhere.  Also, large businesses might have many employees who answer the phone and not everyone might know to ask this important return-on-investment question.  But now, believe it or not, there is a way to automatically track and log how many phone call leads you get from all your marketing campaigns.

How it works is we can setup a local or toll-free number for various advertising campaigns you are doing – one number for a billboard, one for a newspaper ad, one for a radio commercial, one for your yellow page ad and one for your website.  Then, either by logging into the your Call Tracking Console or by recieving your weekly Call Report you will be able to see reporting for average call time, calls by state, zip code, time and date of the calls amoung other stats.  This way you can find out which of your ad campaigns is generating the most leads for you – was that billboard worth the investment?  Is it time to drop the yellow page ad?  You will know with call tracking.

An example of the reports available to you

An example of the reports available to you (click for a larger view)

Also, we can setup Instant Contact on your website so you get an immediate call when some fills out your contact form.  Here’s how: an interested prospect fills out your Contact Us or other related form.  Once they have submitted their information, Instant Contact will initiate a call to your business and read aloud the pertinent prospect information.  You are given the option to accept the prospect and be connected back to them live and in real time.  And all this happens within seconds of the form submission!  Imagine the conversion rates with that kind of response time!

These are some really cool tools to help you simplify and improve your marketing efforts.  Feel free to call me at 1-800-709-3240 / (352) 732-7700 to find out more.