Five Steps to Create an Effective Brand Experience

by Doug No comments »

Brand_ExperienceYour brand is: “What the customer says it is, through their thoughts and feelings about their experience (real or perceived) with it“.  How you make people (customers) feel is 10x more important than what your organization makes, sells or does.  On the contrary, a brand is NOT just a name, trademark, logo, packaging or product.

 

In order to guide customers to perceive your brand in the way you desire, I have created these 5 steps to drive a long-lasting brand experience:

  1. Define/Document it:  You have to define how you would like your brand to be perceived through the eyes of you customers.  For example, at one healthcare organization I worked for, we wanted patients (our customers) to feel that their every need was being taken care of.  We simply designed what that experience should be.
  2. Enable it (Communicate, educate): Put the right programs in play that help the world understand who you are and what you stand for.
  3. Live by it (hire, lead): Culture, Culture, Culture. What more can I say…every aspect of the company culture has to reflect your brand promise.  This is likely the most important aspect of your brand.  Employees must live, breathe and display your brand everyday with every interaction.
  4. Monitor it:  The saying goes, “You can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” or something like that.  The point is, if you do not monitor the effectiveness of your brand, how will you know if it resonates?  The truth is that it is hard to quantify your brand experience.  However, it will be reflected in customer/employee satisfaction and revenue.  If those 3 are improving over time…you are doing something right.
  5. Reinforce it: It takes time to drive the brand.  It has to be continuously reinforced internally to ensure that everyone stays in line.  From an internal perspective, people in the organization may get bored with the messaging and have the desire to keep things “fresh”.  Try to avoid this at all costs…consistency is key. It will take the external market much longer to get bored from your messaging. Keep at it!

At the end of the day, you have to spend the time and the money to understand how you want the organization to be perceived and then start working towards that perception.

 

Upstream and Downstream Marketing Defined

by Doug No comments »

Lately, I have had some folks ask me about upstream and downstream marketing.  IMO the concept of downstream market is much better understood and utilized in the world than upstream marketing.  Each, on their own, are very important pieces to your overall marketing efforts.  Let’s define each:

Upstream marketing focuses on innovation.  It attempts to answer 2 very important questions,  where the market is moving and what customers will want next.  It analyzes how the end-users uses the product or service and what competitive advantage will be required to win the customer and at what price point. It is done very early in the product or service development cycle.  I like to think of it as product marketing for the next product, upstream.

Downstream marketing, by comparison, focus on short-term sales and supporting the overall selling efforts.  It involves the tactical components such as; advertising, promotion, brand-building and communicating with customers through public relations, trade shows and events. While these activities are important, they enhance the acceptance of a product or service that already exists, downstream.

Every successful company will leverage both upstream and downstream marketing to deliver the best product/service and maximize value.  Truly a key to business success.

SEO Tip: Importance of the URL

by Doug No comments »

I have been building and managing websites for over 10 years now and one thing that holds true when it comes to SEO is that the URL is extremely important! In a perfect world, if you want to have a website that is all about cars, your best chance of SEO success is to acquire the domain name cars.com and you will immediately rank in the top for the keyword cars.

However, life on the internet is not that easy anymore, there are over 250 Million domains registered today, which means chances are slim that you can get the domain you desire, well for a reasonable price.

The good news is that you can still have SEO success without an expensive simple domain name.  There are a few tips you can follow:

  1. When creating your topic pages, the search term should ideally be part of the URL.  For example, for the search term “tuna and marshmallow salad” you should create something like this: www.AwesomeTuna.com/recipes/tuna-and-marshmallow-salad. It does not guarantee that you will get relevant search traffic, but it is a great start. Also, it is far superior than the default URL that your blog sofware or CMS probably produces (www.awesometuna.com/recipe.aspx?id=23).  If your current CMS does not provide you with that control, you should rebuild on a new platform.
  2. Separate keywords by hyphens, avoid using other characters such as underscores (_). Search engines may read the underscore as a character not a space. Additionally, avoid using too many keywords in your URL, keep the number of words and hyphens to a reasonable amount. On topic pages, I suggest short and sweet, no more than 3 hyphens. One note of caution is that you should avoid hyphens in the actual domain, keep them at the topic page level.

Take a look at the SEO Cheat Sheet, Anatomy of a URL from seomoz.org.

Anatomy of a URL

I find this cheat sheet very useful when designing an SEO friendly website.

 

The PESO Model Defined…

by Doug No comments »

Ever heard of the PESO Model?  It is recent buzz acronym that helps organizations understand the new rules around a media strategy.  I have been hearing a lot about it lately, so I figured I would take some time to describe the basic concepts of the PESO Model.PESO Marketing Model

What is the PESO Model?:

Essentially the PESO model is a framework for how public relations and communications professionals should think about PR.   The PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) model, was created by Gini Dietrich. Dietrich is a leading voice for the PR industry, and author of Spin Sucks.

What are the key elements to the PESO model?:

  1. Paid Media: Organizations pay to put their content in-front of external audiences.  Examples: Advertising and Sponsorships
  2. Earned Media: Organizations will convince industry thought leaders to leverage their content to communicate to external audiences.  Examples: Blog posts and News Articles
  3. Shared Media: Organizations enable external audiences to share content about the company and/or products and services. Examples: re-tweets, social media likes and comments/posts.
  4. Owned Media: Organizations fully own the content for external audiences to consume. Examples: Corporate Website and Brochures.

If your organization is not leveraging the PESO model when it comes to your communication strategy, you are surely missing out on key channels.

Thanks for for reading my brief explanation of the PESO model.

 

What is Innovation and how can you effectively use it in Marketing

by Doug No comments »

Innovation-DefinitionInnovation is a word that is grossly overused by corporate Marketing departments. Sure it is a catchy term that makes a company sound interesting, but are they really innovative? Or is it just another buzzword in their repertoire? What is truly innovation and what makes a company innovative?

Henry Ford once said (although it has not been proven that he said this), “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.  We all know Henry Ford was a great innovator of his time and whether or not he actually said this, it has a lot to say about innovation. He is basically saying the voice of the customer is not important when it comes to delivering innovation.  IMHO, this is only partly true.  It is true that people do not often know what they want, however, they clearly know their problems/challenges. The customer will tell you important information that will allow you to innovate.  Without it you are just guessing!

What is innovation?

Innovation is when your products and/or services you offer the market solve a problem.  It is that simple.  The only way you can tell if you truly innovate, is when your actual customers tell you. And believe me, they will tell you, you do not have to tell them!  The key in Marketing is to get your customers to not only tell you, but tell others!

How to effectively use innovation in Marketing.

When you know your products and/or services are innovative, because your customers have told you, you need to enable them to tell others…sell by example.  There are numerous tactics that you can leverage to do this, but it HAS to be genuine!  Here are a few tactics I have used recently:

  1. Simple, to the point, case studies written by the customer
  2. Recorded interviews with the customer (Video)
  3. Dialogue in your online user community regarding problem/solution (an online user community is a must)
  4. If you do attend tradeshows, your customers should ALWAYS be involved to tell their story

I have had great success with these and it has enabled our customers to be our best sales team. In order for you to do this for you organization, you should first make sure you are solving problems and then you should make sure you engage your customers to build long lasting relationship that will be mutually beneficial fling forward.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

How NOT to use Google AdWords – Mistake # 2

by Doug No comments »

Mistake #2:  Running a Google AdWords Campaign without a clear call-to-action or the ability to track results.

When your Marketing resources are limited and you are focused on results, it is not wise to run a Google AdWords campaign or any other PPC campaign without a call-to-action* and a tracking mechanism built in.  You must understand the potential ROI (return on investment) prior to making that investment, or you are just wasting money!

Knowing the effectiveness of a Google AdWords campaign, both from an internal cost standpoint and a customer acquisition standpoint is absolutely necessary.  If you do not clearly understand both, you should not be spending dollars on digital advertising. PPC advertising is NOT a place to build brand awareness, there are much more effective ways to do this.

I have seen this scenario too many times…Organizations spending on PPC campaigns without a clear call to action and no ability to measure an ROI.  These companies are easy to find and likely waste thousands of dollars.

A solid AdWords campaign is focused on conversions (the act of converting a website visitor into a paying customer)! There are basically 2 key types of conversions:

  1. Convert a web visitor directly into a buyer (like in the case of eCommerce)
  2. Convert a web visitor into a lead to be converted to a buyer after a longer sales process

Regardless of the type of conversion your business is after, the rules remain the same.  Here are a few pointers to help you avoid wasting money on PPC campaigns:

  • Make sure you focus on a clear call-to-action* which has the highest chance of converting a visitor (This may require you to try multiple approaches with multiple landing pages)
  • Track what you are doing and make frequent adjustments (Daily at a minimum, hourly for high volume campaigns)
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things, PPC is as much about trial and error as anything.
  • Do not run campaigns and ignore them for a period of time.

Hope this helps you think about Google AdWords in a different way.

 

*Call-To-Action: An instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response, usually using an imperative verb such as “call now”, “find out more” or “visit a store today”

How NOT to use Google AdWords – Mistake # 1

by Doug No comments »

I have recently run into a few Google AdWords no-no’s while managing my AdWords campaigns and decided to share.

Mistake #1: Bidding on keywords for the name of your company name and/or product names in any Google AdWords campaign you are managing.

I know this one sounds pretty basic, but if done haphazardly, it will be a GIGANTIC waste of money.  There are only 2 circumstances bidding on your company or product names makes some sense, which I will discuss these a bit later. For now, I will discuss why you should not do it.

Take a look at this screenshot of a search for Starbucks I conducted:

Starbucks

As you can see, Starbucks bids on their company name, even though they already own the top spot in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).  The only thing they have accomplished by using this approach is paid visitors to their website, when they really didn’t have to. As a matter of fact, they likely paid for 80% of the people that searched for the word Starbucks(Maybe even more!).  It is likely be costing Starbucks  tens of thousands of dollars a day. Not a good digital marketing strategy in my book.  If they did not bid on their company name, all of that traffic would still come to their site, as they own the top spot.

Here is a screenshot of a search for Coffee Bean:

Coffee Bean

 

As you can see, Coffee Bean does not bid on their company name and just like Starbucks, they own the top spot in the SERP. In contrast to Starbucks, Coffee Bean, does not have to pay for people already searching for their site.  I wish I could say that this is a solid decision by Coffee Bean, but based a quick search on the web, my guess is that Coffee Bean is not leveraging Google AdWords campaigns at all, therefore, they would not be bidding on their company name. So good non-strategy Coffee Bean.

I hope these examples help you understand why you should not bid on your company or product names.  However, as I mentioned before, there are 2 instances where bidding on your company or product names is a good strategy:

  1. You do not own the top position in the SERP for that keyword (company name or product name).  If you are in this situation, you clearly need better SEO for your site, but until that time, you can leverage Google AdWords to gain the top spot in the SERP’s
  2. A competitor claims the top spot for your company name or product name.  Although sneaky, it is allowed by Google AdWords (as long as they are not infringing on your trademark in the ad text).  You have no choice but to outbid your competitors to ensure you gain the top spot.

All other decisions to bid on your company or product names does not make any sense!  Just focus on the keywords that will bring you the best return.

As a side note, this will hold true for any Search Engine Marketing platforms (Bing Ads, Yahoo Advertising, etc.).  I just focused on Google AdWords, because of their dominance.

Thanks for reading, this is Part 1 of a 2 part series of posts related on what NOT to do with Google AdWords.

Your Brand is what I think it is

by Doug No comments »

A sheep is a sheep, even if you tell me its a dog.

Your brand is not what you tell me it is, it is what I think it is, based on my experience with you. If you only say and never do, your brand will never achieve greatness.

Always keep in mind that your brand is your reputation, your image, and the “mind share” you occupy in people’s brains based on their experiences with you, whether real or imagined.



How to Make a QR Code for Personal or Business

by Doug No comments »
QR Code for CitrusTickets.com

Customized QR Code

The simple answer is, you find an online QR Code Generator, like the one from BarCodesInc, put in the information you want the user to see (text or a web address) then hit generate. That’s it! You now have a QR Code that you can use where ever you like and it was free.

This is just an example, there are actually many QR Code generators on the web that allow you to put in all types of structure or unstructured data, search around to find the one that suites your needs.

To find out more about What is a QR Code is and what a QR Code is used for, visit my What is a QR Code? blog post.

Thanks for reading and I hope you learned something today!

Doug

What is a QR Code?

by Doug No comments »

A QR (Quick Response) Code is a type of barcode that stores data that is easily and quickly readable by smartphones. QR Codes have recently become very popular recently due to their ability to store product information, contact information, URL’s and/or several other pieces of information accessible by smartphones. The growth of highly functional smartphones and mobile marketing have fueled the growth of QR Codes. QR Codes enable smartphone users to get digital information associated with non-digital marketing campaigns and/or advertising. Because of this, QR code usage is slowly becoming a must for any marketing campaign. Marketing to mobile users is surely a growth trend that is likely to continue and improve for years to come. Think of a QR Code, like a clickable link for smart phones.

QR Code for CitrusTickets.com

Customized QR Code

As a matter of fact, according to a study by comScore, in June 2011, 14 million mobile users in the US – that’s about 6.2% of the total mobile audience – scanned a QR or bar code on their mobile device. The study found that the users are most likely to scan codes found in newspapers/magazines and on product packaging and do so while at home or in a store.

The study also found that these scanners were more likely to be men (60.5% of scanners) and aged 18 to 34 (53.4%) and have a household income of $100,000 or above (36.1%). Read more about this study…

For consumers, only a smartphone (with a camera) and a QR Reader app is needed to instantly read any QR Code. When a consumer sees a QR Code (like the one above) thank can simply launch the QR Code Reader application, point it at the code and the data embedded within the QR Code will suddenly appear on their smart phone. The above QR Code I created will take you to CitrusTickets.com, an internet ticket site I operate.

For marketers, understanding which consumer segments scan QR codes is important to understand how QR codes can fit into your marketing strategy. To learn more about how to use and create QR Codes, please refer to my How to create a QR Code blog.

Thanks for reading.

Doug