Wednesday, March 30, 2016
The Benefits of the Backstage Approach
One of the major benefits of this type of "backstage" approach is that it helps position you as a true authority on a particular topic. It's one thing for you to SAY that a product performs X, Y, and Z functions - it's another thing entirely to prove it by providing an unprecedented look into the design and development process. You can shed insight on your decision-making process, for example, helping them to not only SEE what your product does but WHY.
Taking a "backstage" approach to marketing also helps to strengthen the intimate, organic connection you're able to create with your target audience - thus helping to build brand loyalty. Think about it from the perspective of the entertainment industry, as celebrities, in particular, are masters at this. DVDs are filled with hours of special features outlining how a scene was shot, how a script was written, how a special effect was pulled off and more. This instantly makes something that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make seem smaller and more intimate, while letting audiences take their experience to a whole new level at the same time. Providing a similar look into your own operation will have the same effect for you, too.
Pulling Back the Curtain
Unless you're launching a product that is shrouded in complete secrecy, you can start pulling back the curtain pretty much right away. Even if it's something as simple as updating a weekly blog post with sketches, schematics, and other materials from the research and development phase, this will go a long way towards increasing transparency across the board. Have employees talk about the specific work they're doing on a daily basis and how even though they're all working separately, they're all contributing to a larger whole.
This startlingly simple approach helps to close the gap in between business and customer, making a customer actually feel like they're a natural part of the process. When you combine this with all of your other marketing techniques, you're looking at a striking amount of loyalty built just from publicizing activities that were already going on behind closed doors anyway.
These are just a few of the many reasons why providing a "backstage" glimpse can help bring your product or service to life. Not only does it help provide a valuable context to the particular product or service that you're trying to sell, but it also helps build a strong, positive impression of your company. People will stop seeing you as a faceless entity and will start looking at you more like the living, breathing, hardworking people that you really are. This will only deepen the connection that you have with your target audience and make interaction more meaningful in the future.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Best known for the most ubiquitous automobile on the road today, Ford founder, Henry Ford had a rocky start. Early on in his life, Ford worked as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. It was during this time that he built the first gasoline-powered horseless carriage in a shed behind his home. Due to a number of factors, including controversial views on politics and battles with the United Automobile Workers, Ford reportedly went broke three different times. Despite numerous setbacks, Ford went on to develop new methods for mass production that put the automobile within the reach of ordinary citizens.
Louis Pasteur was a French Chemist and Microbiologist most well-known for his invention of pasteurization, a process that kills bacteria in food through extreme heat. Beyond making food safer for people for years to come, this below-average chemistry student is also responsible for creating vaccines for anthrax and rabies. Not bad for a student ranked 15 out of 22 chemistry students!
George Lucas...the man that brought us Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader, and the Force, fueled every kids' dream of being a fighter pilot in outer space. It's hard to imagine that a franchise worth over $30 billion began with rejections from every studio in Hollywood before 20th Century Fox finally took a chance on it. We shudder to think what would have happened had he just given up and went home.
He's what George Lucas says about failure: "If you're creating things, you're doing things that have a high potential for failure, especially if you're doing things that haven't been done before. And you learn from those things. No matter how you cut it, you say, 'Well, that didn't work,' or, 'Well, this didn't work,' or 'That was not the best idea.' And you use that information that you've gotten, which is experience... Failure is another word for experience."
Known for his fanciful theme parks and animated children's tales, Walt Disney wasn't always living in the lap of luxury. Countless instances of adversity rained down on Disney in his early years as an animator. After having to dissolve his company in 1921, he was unable to pay his rent and was living on dog food to survive. Later, after gaining some success with a cartoon character named Oswald the Rabbit, Universal obtained ownership of the character and hired all of Disney's artists when Disney tried to negotiate with Universal Studios to increase his pay. Not surprisingly, Disney reportedly suffered from depression during his long career. The suffering and perseverance paid off, as assets of the Walt Disney Company are currently in excess of $89 billion in 2015.
Who would have thought that one of the most well-known and revered children's book authors had trouble getting his writing career off of the ground? It's true, though. The crafty "Cat in the Hat" creator was reportedly rejected by 27 publishers for his first book "And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street." The 28th publisher, Vanguard Press, took a chance on the young author, ultimately selling over 6 million copies of that first book. Since then, Dr. Suess has published over 40 books and sold over 600 million copies. The best part is how he made a positive impact on the lives of millions of kids around the world.
Remember, you write your own stories, so you are in control of writing your ending. Will those "failures" become opportunities or excuses to quit?
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Luckily, there is a way to accomplish all of this and more. By spending your marketing dollars pre-emptively and teasing the launch of your product or service well in advance, you can build the type of hype that will continue to pay dividends for a lifetime.
The Most Efficient Marketing Engine on the Planet - Disney
Perhaps the most powerful marketing machine in existence belongs to The Walt Disney Company - and this isn't just because they seem to have unlimited financial resources at their disposal. Consider the masterful way that they built anticipation for "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens." Starting a full year out from the premiere of the movie, a teaser trailer was released to build anticipation. Since that opening salvo, we were bombarded with a steady stream of marketing content, from tie-in comic books to a toy launch event that was treated as a national holiday, and more. Anticipation for a new "Star Wars" film could not have been higher going into its release, but what did all of that marketing really tell us about the film itself?
The answer is "not much." People knew what it was called, knew who was in it, knew it had the words "Star Wars" in the title and very little else. So, why was the hype going into the release of the film so massive if people actually knew next to nothing about it, let alone whether or not it would be good? Because of the power of "anticipation" in action.
Little By Little
When building anticipation for a product or service ahead of its release, the key is to understand just how powerful saying very little can actually be. You don't want a print marketing material to literally say "this is what this does and this is why you want it." Doing so removes the air of mystery from the proceedings, which is one of the key ingredients when building anticipation. You need to focus on core images or small facts that only hint at a much larger whole. You want people to say to themselves "I NEED to know more about what this is," because at that point you've got their attention. Once you have their attention, the actual product or service itself can help make sure that you never let go.
Focus On the Problem, Not the Solution
Say you had a product or service that made it easier for stay-at-home moms to get the kids off to school in the morning. If you wanted to build anticipation in your print marketing materials, you might focus on that particular problem above all else. The different waves of your campaign would be devoted to essentially confirming what they already know - "kids tend to not be cooperative in the morning, if only you had more hours in a day, it's difficult to manage your own schedule and theirs at the same time, etc." Then, you might tease with a bold statement like, "We're about to change all that. Stay tuned for more information," and continue to hit them with additional marketing materials in the run-up to the actual launch.
Not only have you appealed to their sentiments and hinted at how you're about to change their lives in an emotional way, but you've also begun to build anticipation at the same time. The great thing about anticipation is that it tends to snowball - if you can get a customer excited today, your focus can then become on KEEPING them excited, which is significantly easier and less time consuming than getting their attention in the first place.
Anticipation is one of the single best assets that you have in your quest to connect with your target audience in new and meaningful ways. If you can play the "anticipation game" in the right way, you won't have to worry about convincing people to engage with your product or service when it launches. They'll come directly to you - they practically won't be able to help themselves.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
All Eyes Are On You
Perhaps the biggest factor to understand when it comes to social media and customer engagement is the idea that a conversation between a business and its customers is both more intimate and more public than it has ever been. If a customer has a positive experience with a representative of your brand on their Twitter page, they're never more than a mouse-click away from telling all of their friends about it. The reverse is also true - a negative experience on a site like Facebook can have huge potential ramifications due to the public nature of that conversation in the first place.
If you search for your brand's name on Twitter and see users talking about an issue they're having, you can easily interject with some troubleshooting tips to help them get the most from their product or service. Not only did you solve their problem, but they also didn't have to ask for help - this is a "win-win" scenario as far as customer engagement is concerned.
There Are No More Small Problems
Consider the public relations nightmare that Entenmann's created for itself, for example. One day, a social media marketer at Entenmann's hopped on Twitter, looked at the current worldwide trending topics and noticed that one happened to be #notguilty. Sensing an opportunity to both interject into a popular conversation and craft a pretty solid pun at the same time, the brand sent out a tweet asking who was "#notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want."
The issue with this is that, as it turns out, the #notguilty hashtag was created as a result of the highly controversial Casey Anthony trial - the verdict of which had just come down earlier that day. Suddenly a seemingly innocuous tweet about snack cakes turned into a national nightmare for the brand as they were seen as obtuse at best and highly insensitive at worst - all of which could have been avoided had the marketer just clicked on the hashtag to see what it was actually referring to. This is the type of major issue that simply didn't exist five years ago before social media became such a permanent fixture in our lives.
These are just a few of the many ways that social media has changed just about everything in terms of customer engagement in the digital age. We believe that success in this field requires a deeper understanding of the game that you're now playing as a business owner, so to speak. It's now easier than ever to pay attention to the conversations that your customers are having with one another and interject in positive and meaningful ways. This is a two-way street, however - one wrong move and you're potentially looking at a PR nightmare on a massive scale, so making sure that you're always putting your best foot forward is more important than ever.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
What Your Typography Says About You
The term typography does not refer to any one particular type of font, but rather an entire family of fonts. Serif and Sans Serif are two different fonts, for example, but they both belong to the same family. Serif and Times New Roman, on the other hand, are two completely different font families.
Simple typography selection can actually be a great way to make a particular impression on your reader even before they've had a chance to digest what your marketing materials are saying. Serif fonts tend to invoke a feeling of professionalism or traditionalism, for example, while fonts designed to mimic handwriting tend to come off as much more casual and approachable. Script fonts tend to be perceived as more formal. As a result, when crafting your buyer personas you should be thinking about not only what they want you to say, but how they want you to say it. An older target audience would likely respond more to Serif typography, whereas a younger audience may prefer the additional friendliness that handwriting-style typography conveys.
One of the major benefits of making strong typography choices in your marketing materials feeds back into the larger idea of brand consistency. Take the typography of your corporate logo as just one example. By making a strong typeface decision early in the designing process and using the same overarching idea across all mediums, you can make all of your communications feel like they're coming from the same place. If your print flier uses the same basic typography selection as your website, for example, they suddenly feel like they're coming from one place even though they're being digested via two incredibly different forms of communication.
Controlling Pace with Typography
Typography can also be a great, subtle way to dictate the speed at which certain marketing materials can be read. Say you have a 500-word print flier that you can't edit to be shorter, but also are afraid may be overwhelming to the reader. By using a different typography selection to highlight certain key points, you're immediately commanding the reader to stop and pay attention to those lines. All of the information is still there, but if their eye is naturally drawn to the contrasting typography (as it likely will be), they can skim the entire flier if they want and still walk away with the message you wanted them to receive.
These are just a few of the ways that typography ultimately feeds into how successfully your message is received by your target audience. By taking a deeper level of control over typography, in addition to crafting the specific message you're trying to convey based on word-choice, your brand stands a much better chance of making the type of positive and meaningful impact on your target audience that you were after in the first place.