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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.


Comments



Attract customers with personality not information





Valentines day looms again in all its heart shaped madness.

According to a recent survey by the Retail and Marketing Association, 53% of American women would end their relationship if they didn't get something on Valentines Day.  Who are these people?! Would they really be so shallow as to dump their partners for not conforming to this marketing ruse?

Could it be that we're all getting so jaded by marketing overload, that we long for something to break the routine? The unexpected.  The marvellous. The extraordinary.

Perhaps it comes down to the element of surprise, after all, even those who argue that they hate surprises, would be hard pushed not to feel touched when they discover there's no charge for their coffee, or their company has catered lunch rather than leaving them to starve through their midday meeting.

Simple acts of kindness make great stories.  We share them.  They shape our brand perception. They make an emotional connection with us that remains long after the event.  Like the sweets that accompany the restaurant bill, every little unexpected joy makes us like your company more, turning us from happy customers into loyal fans.

It doesn't have to be hearts and flowers this month, but what could you be doing to surprise and delight?




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Are You Speaking Your Customers Language?

Knowing the "voice of the customer" is marketing speak for

a) understanding who buys your products
b) gathering, interpreting and using customer intelligence
c) talking benefits rather than features
d) all of the above

Unsurprisingly, the answer is d) all of the above, but the ad below shows that you could of course, just take the term literally.


Who cares?


A survey by MarketingProfs found that just over half (56%) of the companies who took part, thought they had a clear understanding of their customers tastes and needs, which means that almost the same number do not. It's this vague understanding of who to market to, that results in all those wasted marketing budgets.

One mouth and two ears


Despite the logic that we should be listening twice as much as we speak, hearing what customers have to say is often way down on the priority list, unless you're a completely customer centric organisation like Zappos.

The majority of companies ask their audiences for feedback via focus groups, surveys etc. Some are even clever enough to add customer service (a.k.a. complaints) to the mix, and while this is listening, it tends to be a rather misleading snapshot in time.

Make it social


Social media now gives everyone a constant, two way chance to speak, (or at least type) and be heard.  No matter what size your business is, it's easier than every before to know what your customer thinks, feels and cares about.

My favourite and free tools for this job are

  • SocialMention - monitoring over a hundred social media sites, Social Mention interprets how the world is feeling about a particular word, phrase, industry etc. in terms of strength, sentiment, passion and reach of those currently contributing. 
  • Twazzup - one for Twitter lovers, this little tool is a mine of information, including top influencers, retweets, link sharing and best associated keywords for your search. 
  • Addictomatic - similar to Twazzup but with a longer reach, since this monitors across platforms such as YouTube, Flickr and Delicious.
  • IceRocket - pulls in FaceBook, Twitter and blog coverage and has the nifty advantage of scanning across languages, so international rantings won't be missed.
  • Google Search By Image - image based, you can now start your search for what customers might associate with a particular photograph to help you rethink keywords, web links and overall communications.

You might not always like what you hear, but knowing what's being said, at least lets you join the conversation.  Today, there are no excuses for being a wallflower.



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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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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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33 ways to get likes and engage visitors on your company Facebook page (works across other platforms too)



So, you've got a company Facebook page. Tick. Now what can you do to get Likes and engage people outside of your immediate friends and family ...

Well, it's all about engagement.

Each post must be relevant to your product or industry and to the audience you're trying to reach. Inform, advise, entertain, but don't be bland.  Make them care and do it fast.

The following tried and tested suggestions should get your creative juices flowing and if you really want to see those numbers climbing, make sure you add an attention grabbing photograph or video.
  1. Post updates at least once a day.  The most successful company pages post up to ten times each day using a mix of images, inspiring posts, questions and links to other resources.  Don't be afraid to show some personality. People buy from people.
  2. Give sneak peaks of future plans and ask for further suggestions 
  3. Make personal recommendations and ask for your readers favourite/most loved/best X 
  4. Ask visitors to ‘like’ a picture and/or submit their own 
  5. Set a weekly trivia question related to your product or industry (remember to post the answer)
  6. Run polls to solicit opinion and start discussions
  7. Celebrate milestones and rally your audience to reach them e.g. help us get 200 likes by June
  8. Use images to tell a story/highlight a situation, inviting feedback 
  9. Have a weekly discussion topic 
  10. Answer an FAQ each day 
  11. Be seasonal and timely. Comment on relevant stories in the news, festivals etc. 
  12. Share posts from others and third party content 
  13. Ask multiple choice questions or those where a yes/no answer will suffice 
  14. Educate your users in how to share and endorse your page e.g. Hit the like button and comment yes if you agree or click like if you enjoyed this video 
  15. Expand each conversation by responding to responses 
  16. Post top tips and challenges e.g. try this and tell us what happens
  17. Provide lists e.g. top 10 (insert something to inspire/educate/entertain your audience)
  18. Ask your audience to provide one word descriptions for something
  19. Align your company page with similar complimentary organisations by liking their pages and tagging them in your status updates 
  20. Run competitions.  There doesn't have to be a prize.  Sometimes a mention on the company page is enough reward and it's likely to be shared as the winner tells their friends
  21. Use your other social media accounts to highlight your Facebook page and directly ask people to like it.  This works best if you encourage them to do it within a time limit, but make sure there's a good enough reason to pump up the urgency
  22. Post photos and invite visitors to guess where/what/who they are
  23. Visualise data by turning it into charts or an infographic so it becomes information worth sharing
  24. Highlight stories of day to day happenings to help visitors feel they know you/your employees
  25. Excite and surprise fans whenever possible to keep them talking about and sharing your brand
  26. Share expertise, with an ask the expert day
  27. Admit where you've made mistakes and publicly apologise
  28. Make sure each post is authentic so you attract a like minded community
  29. Invite feedback on new product ideas
  30. Ask fans why they liked your page
  31. Put your fans in charge of naming something
  32. Invite fans to suggest a caption for a photograph
  33. Include links to your website and any other web presence you might have
Crank up that newsfeed.

I'd love to know what works best for you?



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Why do you need Social Media? [Video evidence]

First there was economics, then freakonomics and now socialnomics, a term coined to show the impact of social media on our everyday lifes. Feel left behind yet?