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Marketing tips from unlikely sources - Father Christmas


It’s that time of year again.

That slightly manic, tinsel filled, calorie-fest that has us clapping with glee or longing for hibernation. Either way, it’s hard to escape the signs of Christmas – decorated trees, twinkling lights and the universally jolly figure of Santa Claus.

Who knew that timeless, present bringing character, was actually a black belt marketer ...



St. Nicolas? Father Christmas? Santa Claus? – think local, act global


No matter what he's called, he's globally recognized.  Across much of the planet you'll find a variation on the theme of Father Christmas, with a story to match, usually something country specific and always relevant to the present givers and getters.

  • Your brand needs to be consistent in fonts, imagery, colour and tone if your customers are going to notice and more importantly recognise and remember you 
  • Create a story for them.  Make it simple and easy to share 
  • Be in tune with your local market.  What do they want and need?


Ho Ho Ho


Father Christmas the brand, stands for something. Ask any child who Santa Claus is and they’ll immediately talk of gifts and happiness and good things (although the odd few may be terrified).

  • Do people have an emotional connection to your brand?  
  • Which images spring to mind when they think about your company?
  • Does your business have a personality which appeals to the audience it's trying to attract?


Santa Claus is everywhere


He’s on Christmas cards, you can visit him in stores and he can even send you a personalised video from the north pole.  Decades may pass, but Father Christmas has evolved to stay relevant to each new generation and makes sure you can find him wherever you look, throughout December and worryingly beyond.  He rocks omnichannel!

  • Make sure your customers can find you wherever they currently look for information (across social media, in print and in person)
  • Partner with other brands and influencers to increase your reach 
  • Be involved with relevant third parties, to show your understanding of the market and the choices your customers face


He only visits once a year


I swear I heard sleigh bells every Christmas eve, when I was a child. Anticipation is a big part of any experience and having to wait all year to see if you get what’s on your list, is quite a build up.

In this age of instant everything, making your customers wait is no bad thing, as long as you deliver something of value (in their terms) at the end of it.

  • Have you mapped your buyers journey from information gathering to sale?
  • Do you know how long your typical sales cycle is?
  • Does every part of your sales process, reinforce your brands reputation (for better or worse)?


He’s going to find out who’s naughty or nice


Santa Claus knows his customers and doesn’t treat them all the same way.

  • With free analytics there are no excuses for not knowing your audience 
  • Use social media to eavesdrop on topics, conversations and ideas
  • We all want personal service and having a real customer relationship always pays dividends


Santa delivers on his promises


Year after year those wonderful Elfs hit the mark in fulfilling requests. Santa always delivers - supplying what was asked for, on time and to schedule.  It’s why his brand is trusted and his followers are loyal.  It probably also helps that Santa’s main audience is unlikely to call north pole customer service if things go wrong.

The magic that changes buyers into loyal customers, happens when they experience your product.

  • Does it live up to expectations?  
  • Do you make buyers feel so great about spending their money with you that they immediately join your marketing team in spreading the word to friends and family?  
  • Delight your customers, exceed their expectations, not just once a year, but every time and watch your fan base grow


Best kept secret


There are various accounts of how this Christmas figure came into being, but ultimately he was created to capture imagination and unite an audience in the big conspiracy.

Surely there is no greater form of customer engagement than participation.  The success of projects like Kickstarter reinforce our need to feel involved and our love of supporting ideas that resonate with our own ideal world.

  • How do you make customers feel like they belong to your brand?
  • What could you do to keep your company in the customers mind, after the initial sale?
  • Humans love best kept secrets and find it difficult to keep them - tap into these traits 

Merry Christmas!


P.S. The festive dachshund of joy is my dog Walnut paying homage. Hat models own.


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13 ways to convince your customer and make the sale


Marketing makes things have a value - often perceived and generally irrational.

It's about persuading people that the things you do, make and sell, really are worth their money, time and thought. Simple, huh?

The reality of producing content which connects with your customers, let alone convinces them that you can meet their needs, is often the biggest stumbling block for marketing people. So, let's get those creative juices flowing, with a few tried and tested ideas for effective content writing.


1. Make your copy answer ‘what's in it for me?’ (me, being your ideal customer)

We know that content has to deliver value, but ultimately it's your customer who decides whether your offering is valuable or not.  It's no longer about you, it's about them.

2. Give people a reason to choose you

In other words, make me care and do it fast.  Content alone is not the magic bullet. Answer questions, solve problems, make them feel cool about themselves and their decision to buy from you - anything that helps justify the spend.  These days we suffer from unlimited choice. Make sure you've earned attention.

3. Answer your readers objections upfront

Sales training is all about objection handling.  Take away the reasons a customer might say no and they'll ultimately say yes.  If only it were that simple and yet, there is a logic here.  If you were to visit your website for the first time, would it be clear what you're offering, how it would help and how much better your world would be once you'd parted with your cash? No?  Then change it.

4. Take away the risk, by including testimonials, referrals and other social proof 

Humans are pack animals.  We like the safety of the herd and even if the recommendation is from Mrs X in an unknown town, companies like Amazon and Ebay have taught us that feedback from strangers is generally more trustworthy than company spin.  In a world of scams, peace of mind is often needed to take the last step.

5. Add authenticity, by telling a true story well

Customers want entertainment, inspiration, education, anything but information.  Forget about listing product features and instead help your customers to care about your offering by making them feel something about your brand.  Tell them why you started your business, what your ethics are, what's your mission? Be real.

6. Help readers justify the purchase to themselves

In a world of hyper aware customers, you need to expect that most of the selling is done ahead of ever hitting your landing page.  Respect the fact that your customers have done their homework. Show them that you know you're not the only solution, by building a strong case for your brand over alternatives and they'll respond to your honesty.

7. Show empathy. Show you understand their pain and how to ease it

To boost your communications you need to be a peer, a good listener, an instant fixer or whatever your customer expects your brand to be.  Craft your copy accordingly.   Companies can no longer be faceless corporations.  We want them to have feelings and personalities and even the dullest companies are out there shaping perceptions (just look at Glaxosmithkline on Pinterest)

8. Build on truths

Start with established facts or widely held beliefs and show how you improve or resolve or eliminate these situations e.g. You know that frustrating moment when you're late for a meeting and realise you've lost your keys - never again with product X ...  We all know the benefits of recycling, but do you know how much you can save by using Y ...

9. Build a community with content that establishes your knowledge and expertise

There's an unwritten 80/20 rule in social media - showcase others, share third party links, collate the best articles for your readers and every once in a while talk about yourself.  Asking users to submit photographs, answer questions, take part in quizzes and the like, is a sure way to generate content and engage with those who are most likely to talk about and buy your product.

10. Paint a picture of their world after they've bought from you

The best public speakers share a big vision with their listeners.  They encourage their audience to go on a journey, helping them to see the benefits in terms of what matters to them.  Visualising what might be and sharing an experience, makes customers feel part of something beyond their everyday life.  The thrill of shopping is mostly emotional.  Help your customers to see a new reality, (with your product) and watch them reach for their wallets.

11. Outline the problems you help your reader avoid

Apathy is an often overlooked competitor.  Most of us don't actually need what we're being sold.  It's up to companies to create reasons to buy and a big motivator to risk averse humans is the ability to address problems even before they occur.  Why else would the insurance industry still exist?

12. List out three things they need to know in order to say yes

Imagine you were selling your product to your neighbour.  What questions would they ask? What would they need to hear, see, experience in order to buy.  The buyers journey is often invisible from inside the company, but asking potential users, either in person or online, provides insights that can make a real difference to your success.

13. Make your point in as many different ways as you can - statistics, images, case studies, links to other articles etc. Reiteration makes your case stronger

To get eyeballs, you need to be personal and relevant, but unless your marketing is one to one, it's hard to decide what personal and relevant looks like.  Marketing in facts, figures and pictures, gives you the best chance to resonate with your audience and makes each piece of content work harder. Create once then repurpose - your audience will thank you.


Writing for the needs of people first, forces you to simplify your ideas, remember

- what do you want readers to do?
- why should they do it?
- how should they do it?
- why should they make the decision right now?

Then all you have to worry about is optimising for search engines, but that's a whole other blog post.


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Trust - The Foundation of Great Marketing


T
Tune in.
Who cares about your business?

Be specific about your niche.
Prioritise 3-5 groups who really need you.
Find out who or what influences these groups today (hint - search via social media)
Look at what your competitors are doing - your customers have choices ...


R
Reassure.
Do your customers know your brand?

Be consistent in imagery, colours and typefaces.
Choose a tone which resonates with the groups you'd like to attract.
Make sure you're recognisable both off and online.
Optimise your marketing for search.
Make your content shareworthy.


U
Understand.
Why do/would customers buy from you?

What do your audiences want and need?
Which problems do you help them to solve?
What does your customer consider to be valuable?
Remember, it's not about you, it's about them.


S
Stand for something.
What makes you different?

What one trait do you want your business to be known for?
Does your message resonate with the groups you're selling to?
Does your product/service/store live up to your brand claims?
Give your brand a personality.
People buy from people.


T
Timeline.
Plan to make an impact.

Know what you're trying to achieve.
Build a content calendar to check progress.
Always be transparent and responsive.
Educate, collaborate, entertain and inform.
Think of it as a conversation rather than speed dating.


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Are you working with the Adams family or the Brady Bunch?


I've had a bit of a revelation at work this week.  It seems that social media is driven by nepotism. Doh!

Though we tend to think about the various social media platforms as individuals, we should actually be viewing them as families.  Dig just below the surface and they are all interrelated, which means that social media optimisation (SMO), the term used for all the activities you do to ensure visibility of your brand, is now more important than ever.

Knowing how the platforms link, lets you decide where to focus your efforts and the content to produce to increase engagement and build your reputation.  In other words, consider how each social media tool encourages sharing and whether they are trusted by the audiences you're trying to reach, before you rush to create a Facebook page or a Youtube channel.

Choose tactics that play to your strengths as a company and attract your customers, but remember that imagery, video and high quality content need to be part of your plan no matter which platform you use. They may be different families, but they're all run by humans.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list it's worth remembering that

Google owns Google+ and Youtube

Yahoo owns Tumblr and Flickr

LinkedIn owns Slideshare, Pulse and Bizo

Facebook owns Instagram and Whatsup

Twitter owns Vine and Periscope

Just as families favour their own, the biggest social media sites aim to maximise visibility across their channels, so make sure you create content in the most shareworthy format for each group.  Hubspot recently did a great blog piece if you need inspiration.

Which do you favour?





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Do you know your social demographics?

                                                                                                          Image 123rf.com

I read a great blog post recently, by the Fast Company, which listed some surprising statistics around social media. Who knew that

  • the fastest growing group on Twitter is 55-64 years olds
  • 45-54 year olds rule on Facebook and Google+
  • average age of a LinkedIn user is 44, with 2 new members joining every second
  • YouTube exceeds Cable network views for 18-34 year olds in the US

It's surprisingly easy to forget that over the last decade the demographics of the key social media tools have shifted considerably.  Has your marketing strategy kept pace?


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Who are your best customers?

Best can mean
  1. most profitable - relatively easy to find the biggest spenders
  2. most loyal - harder to quantify, but generally a better measure. If someone spends 100% of their overall budget with you, their trust in your product/service is undeniable. These are your advocates.
  3. most beneficial - perhaps hardest to quantify, these are the customers who will bring most value to you in the long term, buying whatever you produce, sharing their purchases online and staying with you even when their circumstances change.
Each group has engaged and invested in your company. Your marketing needs to reassure them they made the right choice, keep them engaged and give them that feeling of exclusivity that makes frequent flyers clammer for the first class lounge.


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Marketing is like playing 'snap'

You know the game. You turn over cards until two pictures match and then everyone yells snap. The more turns that go by without a match, the higher the level of anticipation and the louder the eventual shout.

Small businesses often approach marketing like a game of snap. They produce some content and then throw it out there - in print, online, maybe a bit of telemarketing. No real strategy in place. Then the waiting game begins, until a lead is found and everyone can claim success (yell snap).

Marketing is not a game of chance. At it's simplest, it's about communicating your message to those who want to hear it, to help them choose your offering over the competition.

It takes time to produce great content, so you owe it to yourself and your customers to get that communication right.

Group 1 - Total strangers to your brand

Let's think of them as future customers. All marketing that you do to this group is going to be interruptive, since they've never heard of you before. We all hate junk mail so whatever you say has to be compelling in 5 seconds or less. Imagine you're at a tradeshow. What could you do/say to stand out?

Group 2 - Previous interactions and existing Customers

They've heard of you/your brand before and may have even purchased something. The marketing that this group needs should move them along the sales cycle. Educate them. Expand your content to build on what they already know. Challenge their assumptions. This group needs engagement. Show them why they should care and you'll see results.

Group 3 - Repeat customers

Your biggest supporters. Repeat customers are marketing tools in their own right. They can tell you what they like/don't like (product development) and build your brand through word of mouth (PR). This group have invested time and money to keep you in business and the content they receive should reflect this. You need to validate their decision to stick with you. Can you offer them sneak peaks, exclusive news, invite them to participate in a way that acknowledges their status? Social media makes this easier than you'd think.

So, when you've produced a great white paper, webcast, press release, blog entry etc. think about how it can be reworked to meet the needs of each group. Then think about how each group will want to receive those messages - smart phone, ipad, social media, direct mail, youtube video etc. Its a sure fire way to get lots more snaps ; )
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