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STOP IT - 5 Ways Small Businesses Sabotage Themselves


Attention small business owners 

You know that terror that seems to consume you, that fear that the world is out to steal your customers, lower your revenue and destroy your hopes of retiring to the mediterranean?

Well, you can stop worrying about it, because the great news is, your worst fear has finally been identified.

It's you!

Now, before you roll your eyes and bemoan the waste of 10 seconds of your life, let me explain ...


1. You think that growing your business is about keeping everything secret and making your customers pay for everything



Sound familiar?  Small businesses start with a bright idea and a passionate founder.  In my experience the age of the entrepreneur plays a big part in determining what happens next.

According to the FT, record numbers of over 50's in the UK are starting their own business.  Often it's their first experience of life as the boss and they approach their new challenge with a mindset shaped by years in corporates, smothered by layers of bureaucracy.

Today, customers expect companies to be generous.  We search the web for information, read reviews, look for star ratings and generally form our opinions about brands based on third party endorsements and discussions.  Businesses can no longer be faceless entities, they need to have personalities.  People still buy from people, but now we can do it virtually so perception counts more than ever.  Do you want to spend your money with the mean, hard to deal with company, or the benevolent and helpful one?

Think about what you could give away to gain visibility and ultimately more customers. It doesn't have to have a physical value - kindness, time and effort all count  Just as free samples draw the crowds at the farmers market, downloads, tester kits and trial sessions give customers a chance to experience your brand without risk and hopefully keep them coming back for more.


2. Your marketing is stuck in a time warp



- It's all about you
- You never contribute of even mention third parties
- There's no need for a marketing plan
- You equate professionalism with business speak

You know who you are.  Once upon a time, all a company needed was a website.  This gave them a one way system, to tell the world all the fascinating product features that would have them lining up to buy. Fast forward a few years and a website is the least you should have, customers are self educating and only third party endorsements will persuade us to part with our cash.

The best ideas need visibility and an audience if they're to spread. Your story is not about you anymore.  It's about your customers - their wants, their needs, their values. This brave new world means that companies need to think in terms of the problems that they solve, answering frequently asked questions, showing how they compare with the competition and demonstrating beyond any doubt, that your product is the only one worth buying.

Despite multiple examples to the contrary, marketing should not be regarded as another name for sales prevention.


3. You've got a Facebook page/Twitter account [insert any social platform here] but you don't know why or how to use it.



This is you, if your Facebook page is only liked by your mum and your Twitter icon is an egg.  I exaggerate a little, but we've all seen those social media pages with all the signs of a well intentioned new years resolution - one post and minimal details.  Encouraging? I think not. Would you leave your shop window empty?

Social media provides a set of new tools to do old jobs.  In the past you might have kept a journal, now you blog.  You used to call friends to share news, now you post a Facebook update.  It's all just human to human interaction, so stop worrying and start engaging.

Consumers use social media to make conversation and connections, to follow trends and to find information. What does your company provide in response?


4. You never measure or monitor your results - what is analytics anyway?



Guilty as charged?  Then how do you even know who your customers are?

Having any form of online presence (website, Facebook page etc.) means that you can now collect and use data to understand what's working and what's not. This is commonly known as analytics and every social platform provides them.

Spending money on your business and not measuring the return on that investment is madness, especially since it's now so easy to access. You may not consider yourself to be a data dude, but spend twenty minutes a week looking at the graphs, charts and numbers available and you'll be amazed by your new found knowledge.

These are really helpful articles to get you started.

Facebook Insights
Google Analytics (websites)
Twitter Analytics 
Pinterest Analytics
Google+ Analytics


5. You always undervalue what you've created



If you've recognised your business in any of the points above, there's a good chance that you're not as confident in your abilities as you should be.

Smaller companies are often scared to grow.  They apologise for their size and lack of knowledge rather than doing anything about it.  They expect customers to overlook bad design, lack of attention to detail or poor customer service, because they're a new business, or a freelancer or a family firm. Endless excuses mean that great products are overlooked and undervalued, so nobody wins.

Remember the passion that caused you to start or join your company and think about all those things which make you buy particular brands over others.  Tiffany jewellery is just as famous for the little blue box as it is for the diamonds inside.  Make sure your customers appreciate what you've produced and stop selling yourself short.


Time to take action?



I work with businesses of all shapes and sizes and love helping them understand and use marketing to grow.  You can leave me a comment here or ask me your burning marketing questions on Twitter @VLindsay.


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36 tips you need to follow from the Content Marketing Academy Conference



TCMA 2016 The Hub, Edinburgh

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to attend TCMA 2016, a two day event bringing together the great and the good of content marketing from around the globe.  I could blog for years on the people who attended and the inspiration they provided, but I'll start with some tips worth remembering.

1. Being consistent in the content you create makes you unique, builds credibility and ultimately trust

2. Choose how you communicate to attract the audience who need you most

3. Spend more time thinking about how you'll distribute your content once it's produced

4. Create content that addresses problems with solutions, painpoints with remedies, questions with answers and rituals with ideas

5. Use predictive search to see what mainstream searchers are looking for.  It shows demand and gives insight

6. Have a goal for every piece of marketing you create

7. When you make a video, treat the viewer like they've been a friend for years

8. Aim for visually pleasing on Facebook - the initial image will attract a viewer to watch more

9. Make the first couple of words in any content reiterate the search that brought visitors to it

10. Be transparent

11. Create Ebooks

12. Become the wikipedia for your industry

13. Commit to creating regular new content for your website and do it

14. Think about the words your audience might use in a google search and make your titles fit

15. Always tell people what they should do next.  No call to action = no action.

16. Invest in good images and design.  Perception is everything

17. Share every piece of content multiple times, in different formats for each platform

18. Hone your skills to do the right things in the most efficient way possible

19. Build a team around you to do specific tasks, so you're open to opportunities

20. Try running webinars - an hour builds trust and speeds the time to sale

21. You are not your customer.  Serve your audience

22. Inject your personality to educate, entertain and inspire your audience

23. Don't sell the thing, sell the dream

24. The biggest missed opportunity is playing it safe

25. Engaging content is far more about brains than budget - show your passion

26. Be bigger, be bolder and aim for fanatical fans

27. Think like a teacher to deliver value (in your audiences terms)

28. Strategy is the plumbing of content marketing - where do you want to go?

29. Make life easier and you'll gain customers.  Walk in their shoes.

30. Look for and dominate an unsaturated niche

31. Have an aggressive keywords strategy so Google only looks at you

32. Know who shares your content most and work on delighting them

33. 'I will never let you down' is a differentiator

34. It can take 3 to 5 years to create the awareness that results in sales - aim for reliable reach

35. User generated content is gold

36. Make your brand human

Ready? Go!

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Write to be read - what are you saying?!


They could have written no smoking in capital letters on an A5 card by the bedside.

They could have put a sticker on the back of the door with the familiar anti-puff sign.

It might have featured on the room key.

Instead, this hotel, turned a boring ‘thou shalt not’ into a humorous note, conveying what they need to, but in a way that also shows their personality and reinforces your choice of accommodation in the first place.

With so much information bombarding us every day, it's easy to ignore the details, dismissing the little things like the no smoking sign, rather than seeing it for the fantastic marketing tool that it is.   Today I challenge you to look at the supposedly insignificant things that could add weight to your sell. Are they helpful, do then entertain or somehow emotionally appeal to your audience?  Would anyone ever be inspired to blog about them?

This same hotel lobby bathroom -


I'd love to see your examples of great communication.

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Want more customers? Tools to make you more visual (in 10 minutes or less)


As the days get darker and our attention spans get shorter, more and more Marketers are relying on pictures to tell their stories.

Above it a photo of my lunch (blame it on no nutrition Friday), and although the packaging all looks very normal, it's the last lines, which made me share it. Somebody, somewhere has taken the time to add a bit of humour to the mundane, which in turn has prompted me to share the image. See how it works? A simple visual in an unexpected place was all it took to convey the personality of this fudge maker.

Today there are some great tools available to help you share your brand in words and pictures. Here are some of my favourites.


Canva

I have no tech or design skills which has made Canva my new best friend. The free version is packed with easy to follow tutorials, tips and tricks, to make you a legend in your lunch-hour. Upload your own photos or pay a minimal fee and browse the library of images available. You'll also find layout ideas and guidance on font families to make sure your message reaches your audience, loud and clear.


Flipboard


Equally easy to use, Flipboard lets you create a social magazine in moments. Curate interesting articles relevant to your audience and publish them online to provide instant value. Ipad, iphone and Android users can then view these links as a page turning book, full of glossy images, making it easy for readers to seek out and digest the articles that appeal to them. And since Flipboard users can save their favourites as they go along, there's no end to the long tail appeal.

Pinterest


If you're not using Pinterest yet - where have you been since 2009? Probably the most obvious visual communication tool, it's a feast for the eyes, letting you create virtual pinboards of images taken from anywhere on the internet. Each pin retains the link to its source so you can do more research on your own and image creators get the recognition they deserve. More and more retailers are using Pinterest to showcase their offerings and differentiate themselves from the competition and now that you can purchase directly from pins (at least if you live in the US), this tool can only grow in popularity.

Instagram


With more users than Twitter, Instagram has become the new visual hangout for individuals and businesses alike. The hashtags associated with your photos make your content more searchable and shareable than any other platform and the opportunities to connect and be noticed are huge. Instagram have recently introduced advertising to the mix and while the jury is still out on this one, there's no doubt that Instagram is currently the hottest place for your company to be found.


Visual.ly


Here it's all about infographics and data visualization (word clouds), to help you create something visually pleasing from the cold hard facts. Infogr.am is another infographic maker worth considering in this space. Rather than wrestle with an excel spreadsheet or a three page definition of what something means, make a picture - your readers will thank you by sharing your insights.


Quozio


Turn your quotes into works of art, via this simple but clever little tool. Inside you'll find a variety of templates, fonts and colour ways to help you express yourself. Just type in your words and see them take on a whole new look. Great for jazzing up your presentations.


PicMonkey


Easy photo editing to make you look like a Photoshop genius. From little touch up to transformations, unique visual content can be yours in no time. There are lots of similar photo manipulation tools out there, but PicMonkey and BeFunky are good, intuitive starting points. Try both and see which feels most natural to you, then go, create.


Unsplash


In the spirit of the collaborative economy, Unsplash provides regularly updated, free to download photos for every occasion. So much more interesting than standard stock imagery, it can instantly change the look and feel of your content, especially if you use it in conjunction with one of the photo manipulation tools.


With so many free or relatively cheap routes open to us, even those lacking in artistic flair can get themselves seen. Which tools would you recommend?



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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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5 Ways to Make your Customers Care, Share and Buy

Once upon a time .....

This line either brings your shoulders down from your ears as you prepare for the story, or makes your hackles rise, as you mentally urge the teller to skip to the end.  Either way, you want to know what comes next.

Storytelling is as old as mankind itself and yet a seemingly dying art, in our rush to adopt all things digital.

Smart marketers know that customers who are emotionally connected to brands, provide valuable feedback to the business, tell their friends and spend more money, than those who are not.  It therefore makes sense, to craft your marketing outreach, so that you take customers on a journey - building knowledge of your brand, not through facts, but through inspirational, educational or entertaining stories.

Done well, your brand marketing can take an audience from apathy to empathy.  Don't believe me? Watch this clever Chrysler video, aired during the Super Bowl (for maximum audience and impact).




Let's look at how this works, so that you can apply these elements to your own brand building content.

1. Context - orientate your customer


The opening 30 seconds set the scene, so that even those who've never visited Detroit can have their assumptions about the place confirmed. There's a full 20 seconds of reinforcing the stereotype before a fleeting glimpse of a cars rear view mirror, (the first hint of what this commercial is really about). What could you do to build trust, before you start selling your product?

The rugged, care worn voiceover man, reinforces the imagery and immediately asks for engagement “What does this city know about luxury?”  You're already waiting to hear more, even though you're not sure what this ad is about yet.  Anticipation is increasing.  Remember that marketing will have most impact when your customers are waiting to receive it.

2. Show and tell


By 40 seconds we've seen the product (Chrysler badge on the front of the car), but it's fleeting, almost subliminal, and surrounded by pictures which evoke the spirit of hard work and determination.  Could these be Chrysler's brand values?  Showcasing what your brand stands for, in pictures rather than words, has never been easier.

There's an American flag to make sure everyone feels included, the soundtrack builds with a baseline guitar.  Detroit, (the hero), is shown to be strong and full of resolve, having survived the recent economic blows (the villain).  The audience is drawn in, relating to the cities hardships from their own experiences. Voiceover man reinforces this “That's who we are. That's our story ....”  Be Authentic.  Reinforcing your customers problems, thoughts and assumptions, is a great way to draw them in and lets you pitch your product as the solution they need.

3. Make sure you've got a hero - ideally the underdog


A minute in and we're told “when it comes to luxury, it's as much about where it's from as who it's for”, challenging all the bad news stories about Detroit and helping you to root for the underdog. You want to know more. Your interest is peaked and you're enjoying the journey with the driver of the car, beginning to see yourself as that character, bringing your own knowledge to this crafted vision. How could you help your customer to imagine themselves using your product?

The imagery is of determination, ordinary people, challenging themselves.  The voiceover acknowledges that while all the attention is given to the best know American cities, it's our hero that represents the vast majority of the population and we should share that pride. Chrysler the brand is firmly pitched as the hero's assistant - Robin to Batman.  Be customer rather than company centric so your marketing supports what your customers value in their terms.

4. Include the element of surprise


One minute 20 seconds in and we recognize the driver - home grown talent, Eminem, reminding the viewer of Detroits glory days as Motown. The soundtrack builds to a climax, not just of instruments, but of human voices, via a choir, reinforcing the personal nature of this product.  We now know this is a car ad, but that's almost forgotten because we're so entrenched in what will happen next.  What could you do to make your product part of a bigger picture or wider community?

5. Give them a happy ending


Final 30 seconds - cue Fox theatre, far removed from the industrial landscape we've all come to associate with this Michigan state. Eminem turns to camera and addresses us, telling us that it's about the city and not the product.

In our minds Chrysler now stands for guts, courage and resolve and we want to be associated with that.  By now, American hearts are swelled with pride at their resilience as a nation and customers are already giving consideration to Chrysler as their next purchase.

In 2 minutes, Chrysler have told us a story which leaves us feeling like they're the good guys. They've given their brand human traits and we feel warm to them because they connect with how we see the world. Do your customers share an emotional connection with your brand?



As with every youtube video, the comments section is the most telling. This stream is overwhelmingly positive, showing just how well the story has been told.  One viewer summarised this ad in just one sentence - makes me wish I was from Detroit.

What's the story behind your brand?  How will you tell it?  It doesn't take a high budget video to communicate, but you will need to use your imagination.




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3 Simple Ways to Build Your Brand


Miscommunication, communication, couple thinking different things




Our world is very noisy. Thousands of pieces of marketing content are hurled at us every day and yet our ability to consume these communications remains unchanged.  What has changed is the attention we're willing to give any one thing, so much so, that it's even got it's own term - continuous partial attention.

Our brains are finely tuned to respond to messages which touch our hearts, teach us something new and, or present content in an unforgettable way.  In other words, nobody is interested in information anymore - entertain us, educate us and leave a lasting impression by all means, but don't expect a response if all you serve are the facts.

So how could your business take advantage of this human condition? Think like a publisher.


1. Make an emotional connection



Who is most likely to buy your product or service?. How are you going to convince them to choose your brand over the alternatives available? Answer -  make them feel something. Since hearts often rule heads, those brands which challenge us to become emotionally involved, often pique our interest and therefore get the sale. They don't call it retail therapy for nothing.
e.g. Hyundai message from space commercial 






2. Add the novelty factor



Using the very prim lady in the advert below, to talk about the delicate subject of poo, is both unexpected and funny. It's often the novelty of a companies approach which grabs our attention in the first instance. We like the new and the surprising, but be sure to tailor this to the audience you're trying to attract. Humour is a delicate balancing act.
e.g.  Poo pourri





3.  Be memorable



Making your brand a household name, is every marketers dream and yet much of the content on offer is full of well worn stereotypes and pat phrases (see this is a generic brand video).  We see the same things so often that they become invisible to us, losing their magic.

The mad men of yesteryear made products memorable by adding jingles and bold images.  Some things never change - Apple think different commercial or Nike Just do it 





Think of what you've liked, shared and talked about today and remember that your marketing has to resonate with real people in disguise as consumers, audiences and personas.

In the words of Viggo Mortensen “There's no excuse to be bored.  Sad, yes.  Angry, yes. Depressed, yes.  Crazy, yes.  But there's no excuse for boredom, ever”.

Go, create.



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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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Marketing tips from unlikely sources - Hairdressers

dog, afro, hairdressers, marketing

This post in one in a series, where I take a break from my usual rantings, to consider the marketing lessons which lurk right under our noses.

Other random observations can be found here - dog breeders, cinemas, children and even Father Christmas - enjoy.

******************************************************************************

Hairdressers in various forms have been around for centuries, perfecting a customer service model which most online brands could benefit from replicating.  Bear with me and all will be made clear.


1. It's not about you



Steven Covey famously said: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”  In other words, I don't really care about your business, I want to know what's in it for me.  Hairdressers get this.  You show up, take the chair and the first thing the stylist typically asks is 'what are we doing today?' Instantly you (the customer) are in the driving seat, talking about your wants and needs, not listening to what the salon has to sell.

Once you've told them what prompted your visit they'll begin to make suggestions, which either stretch your comfort zone (how about a restyle) or reassure you that they can solve your problem (your frizz will be returned to glory in no time).  Stylists know what they're capable of, but they want their customers to feel in control of the process. They make it personal.  Do you?


2. Think beyond your main product



Sure you'll get your haircut, but to keep that feel good factor high, what about a drink, free wifi, a glossy magazine and possibly even a head massage. Hairdressers want their customers to be continually reassured that they've made the right choice and these little extras all help with our self talk (yes I am worth it, maybe I should also get a manicure, they care about me and I like this experience, so I should book my next session now.)

Customers may set out to address a specific problem, through that oh so important keyword search, but ultimately we're easily distracted by things we find along the way.  What about a free ebook, sign up to the newsletter, buy your ticket now?  Customers decide what's valuable to them and it's probably not your main service that keeps them coming back for more.


3. Build a relationship



Hairdressers often find themselves as confidants.  Their loyal clientele share the minutia of everyday life, revelling in an honesty which can only come from looking your worst in a mirror filled room. Over time, we take advice on not just hair related matters, but on what to watch and read, the restaurants to book, holidays to take - you get the idea.

It's that all important trust factor, which turns passing trade into repeat customers.  It makes you the 'go to'.  It keeps you top of mind, so you're the first person to be recommended.  Seth Godin wrote a whole book around the concept of permission marketing which is well worth a read.

Do you manage your customers to the point of sale and then skip into the sunset, or do you have a relationship which creates a loyal following?  Social media has made it easier than ever to engage with customers - ignore it at your peril.


4. Inspire your customers



Hairdressers change their hair on a regular basis.  Between visits my stylist goes from short to long, blonde to pink and throws in a perm, just to show what's possible.  While I suspect myself and 99% of her customers get 'the usual' every time they visit, it doesn't mean we don't appreciate the variety.

Sometimes we just want to know that someone is keeping on top of the latest trends so we don't have to.  Could you curate third party posts or produce a regular top 10 list of what's hot for your industry? Also think about how your brand is currently perceived and what you could be doing to show you're at the cutting edge (every pun intended).


5. Have some check out extra's



Running low on shampoo?  Have you tried this fabulous new ...?  Wallet in hand to pay for the main event, it's very easy to add a little extra to the bill.  In our minds we prolong the joy by taking something tangible home and we trust the recommendations of those who've just brought our tired locks back to life.  Hairdressers use our feel good high, to raise their revenues, while we interpret it as extra attention to our needs.

When your customers check out, do you send them a boring old thank you page, or do you return a list of further reading links, downloads, surprise discounts etc.  The last impression is often as important as the first, especially when you want customers to bookmark your site.  Make it memorable.



Hairdressers build experiences, (Osadia take this to new limits).  The most successful ones entertain, inform and inspire in equal measure. Let's stop sharing information and create businesses which touch our customers and keep them coming back for more.


Don't know how?  Ask me.


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Marketing tips from unlikely sources - dog breeders

Image from 123rf.com

Dog owners used to fall into one of two categories - pedigrees or mongrels. Recently a third category seems to have developed in the form of the pedigree hybrid. Such mutts would have been classed mongrels, were it not for the power of marketing.

Though the Kennel Club may be in denial of their existence, the world (or at least my little corner), has gone mad for Labradoodles (Labrador/Poodle), Cavapoos (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Poodle) and Pugels (Pug/Beagle).

What can we learn from this explosion of fluff?

1. Combining two products which are already popular into a whole new package, provides up-sell and can tap into an entirely new customer market


Think of the brands/products you buy regularly. If you see them paired with a new unknown name, you're more likely to give them a try because you already trust the original brand - in marketing speak, it's up-sell.

Yet even if you're not a regular buyer, but you know of a product or service by reputation, a 'two for one' type offer could encourage you to spend.  Afterall, it seems like a great deal and some of the cost risk has been removed by your familiarity with the brand, making you more likely to give it a try.

2. Customer led product development often produces new ideas


Labradoodles were originally bred in Australia as guidedogs for the blind.  A number of technical innovations came from customer feedback at places like Apple and companies are born everyday to fill niche demands.

What would your product/service look like if your customer designed it?

Are the features and benefits really features and benefits or just the pieces you could create in time for launch?

Have you ever asked your customers why they bought your product rather than an alternative?

Our world gets more hybrid everyday as people seek to distinguish themselves and their purchases. While people want choice, there will always be opportunity.  The trick is creating an opportunity for people to choose.

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3 lessons in the art of selling from Kickstarter



I have a confession.

I think I'm hooked on funding Kickstarter projects .

It started innocently enough, backing Seth Godin (a noted giant of the marketing world).  I love his work, there was no risk, it was a win win. Then came Duncan Shotton and his glorious rainbow pencils and that was the start of the slippery slope.  I joined the mailing list and now have my credit card on standby, as the ‘Projects We Love’ email drops into my inbox.

How did this happen?  Why do these serial entrepreneurs wield such power?

Searching through those who make and often exceed their targets, the commonalities are clear.

1. They have personality (in spades)

People buy from people - it's the age old mantra.  That's why kickstarters have to present their ideas via video.  According to a new Cisco report, by 2018 over 75% of all traffic will be video based, proving that people really do have to see to believe.

Whether you've heard of the product or not, those who succeed, use their screen debut to ooze personality.  They help us decide to take the risk and make that pledge, by telling a story, from how the idea began, to their vision for the future.  They know that having the viewer trust that they can deliver on their promises, is the only way to get them to press the big green button. As an aside, what a great idea to make the backing button green - green for go, green for good and fresh and new, you get the idea.

2. They make us part of the process

Selling ideas is really about finding or even building a community who want to buy them. That's why marketing departments spend large portions of their budget on generating content to attract and retain relevant audiences. Kickstarter takes this to extremes, adding the emotional factor, that without your funding, this fabulous, new, ‘must have’ will never reach the market.  Feel the pressure?

Here, at the click of a button, a community is born.  Every funder feels like a hero for getting the project out of its starting blocks.  We see that a number of other backers have endorsed what is now, our idea, of a great project. We feel part of something - a secret group of early adopters with a vested monetary interest in success and that makes us care, share and talk about each venture, as though it were our own. Brilliant.

3. They test ideas and listen for feedback

For the price of a two minute video, entrepreneurs can test their audience, to see if there is enough interest to make their idea a viable business.  If it bombs and/or there are no pledges, it's back to the drawing board, without having spent their life savings on marketing and advertising.  TeamYoga is a great example of this.  Maybe there isn't a market for poseable toys just yet, but could that be because not enough children are doing yoga? What could they do to encourage this market?  Their kickstarter investment may have saved them from financial disaster or even inspired them afresh to take a new approach.  Either way, it was worth the broadcast.

So, if you find yourself hovering over that big green button, please get in touch.  We can form a support group.


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Marketing tips from unlikely sources - children




How do you pick up a swan?

Do you remember that wiggly thing that you jump over at school, can we get one?

Can a blackbird kill you?  No.  Even if it had a drill?

Oh the random questions my children ask.

Contemplating this mornings round of curiosity, I was struck by how visually descriptive children often are.  They want you to ‘see’ what they're talking about, using language which helps you build a picture in your mind.

As a marketer I often advise my clients to write in pictures as a way of drawing the reader into the story that's unfolding.

Why tell, when you could announce, shout, whisper, confess, leak or reveal.

Instead of encouraging your customers to get something, why not offer the chance to seize, pluck, grab, earn or land.

Analogies are another great way of adding imagery to your communications, helping you to explain and position your brand in an easily recognisable way.  In the UK, people regularly use phrases such as ‘fish out of water’ and ‘quiet as a mouse’, but every country will have it's own variations on this theme.

So, next time you're writing copy, challenge yourself to use language which helps your reader to immediately identify with you, or should I say, publish a blueprint your readers can easily follow.

Be seen as well as heard.



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What's your story? 3 hints to help you create brand buzz

Once upon a time, all a brand needed was a website, a shiny corporate brochure and a stand by the food concessions at the local trade show. This trinity reassured shoppers that you were a legitimate business and helped them to trust you enough to part with their hard earned cash. But that was many moons ago. Now content, (anything you create or share to publicize who you are and what you do), is king and brands need a personality. Eek!