Holidays are an especially engaging time for brands on social media. In fact, in 2011, 36% of retailers said they planned on spending most of their holiday marketing budget on social media (Source).
Sure, most of the attention and money went towards Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas sales, but who said that the smaller holidays like St. Patrick’s Day couldn’t be engaging? (more…)
“Free” has always been a very powerful word. For businesses, “free” can attract a lot of publicity, but be warned: it can sometimes come with a price tag, especially when a brand’s reputation is at stake.
For decades, trade shows have been overrun with free giveaways and trinkets, but giving away branded promotional items at such events has become such a standard practice today that it raises the question: is it really the best way of getting your name out there?
In terms of marketing, giveaways provide businesses with a low-cost solution for collecting leads, acquiring return customers, and generating product awareness. Trade booths can gain a lot of attention with promotional items – you might even be surprised at the amount of instant brand awareness they can bring to the table (literally).
To make your giveaways even sweeter, you can also take the extra step in enlisting influential promoters to advertise your brand with prizes. The majority of companies today actually select their winners in order to ensure that someone with significant influence wins. It might sound like a scheme, but when you really think about it, when people win prizes, they usually talk about it online, which means free advertising for your brand!
But these giveaways don’t necessarily need to be featured at trade shows. If you have a new product or service you’re trying to promote between events, you’ll certainly need to conjure up some ideas as to how you’ll reach potential customers for the product or service. Free samples can be a huge hit into getting everyone interested. If you’re able to offer people an easy way to try your product or service, chances are they’ll respond very well.
When you sum up the benefits of giveaways and tchotchkes, the approach sounds like a wonderful idea to promote your brand and increase sales. However, when taking a closer look, how valuable can these leads really be? If you’re not careful with your giveaway strategy, you run the risk of acquiring poor quality leads, which can ultimately undermine all of the benefits.
On Second Thought…
While “free” can be an enticing term, especially in today’s economic climate, it may just be the wrong one to use when it comes to developing a promotion strategy.
For example, when looking back on KFC’s recent promotion, it’s simple to see how this kind of strategy can go awry. The Oprah Winfrey Show has always been well-known for its promotions, so when KFC teamed up with the show to promote their new Kentucky Grilled Chicken, you bet they expected a high amount of attention, but as it turned out, the amount of customers the promotion brought to its restaurants was too much for them to handle. Nearly 10.5 million people downloaded KFC’s free coupon and within only two days, 4.5 million free meals were given away. The result? Not only did KFC have to offer rain checks to millions of customers because they ran out of food, they also had to deal with an endless line of angry customers.
Free offers can certainly give your brand much-needed publicity, but it must be limited. If you extend an offer over time, the customers that continue to return will only be coming to your business because its nonexistent price tag. If you want to attract new customers into your stores and keep them there, the offer should be discounted just enough to encourage customers to try your product or service out.
The price of advertising is an important factor — there’s no doubt about that — but it’s equally important to consider how different your product is than the competition.
Today’s guest blogger is Ivan Serrano, a passionate writer who enjoys sharing his research on marketing, branding and business communications. On his blog, 1800NumberNow.com, you can also see more of his writing, which covers global communication, VoIP and business globalization.
If you’re anything like us here at Branding Personality, you can’t wait to park yourself in front of the TV this Sunday to watch the huge matchup between the Broncos and the Seahawks. Hmm…on second thought, maybe it’s just Michael and I who are supremely stoked to see our favorite teams battle it out for the coveted Super Bowl championship title.
When working with bloggers, you create a halo effect. In other words, you are borrowing someone else’s fame and influence to reach a specific audience. It works with celebrities in the same way. If Justin Bieber wears Marc Jacobs, millions of girls are going to start buying Marc Jacobs. Translate this principle to bloggers: Take Dino Dogan, Ana Hoffman, Chris Voss – each of these bloggers is unique and has a loyal audience that loves them and looks up to them.
When a mom’s favorite blogger says the newest laundry detergent is the latest and greatest, and gives a specific reason as to why that is so, that mom is likely to try it out. If your laundry detergent then delivers on that promise made by the blogger, you, as a brand, made a new fan, and a new longterm customer.
The hot niche within the blogger community is the so called mommy bloggers. They write about a wide array of topics as long as they are of interest to moms (and let’s face it: that’s a lot!). Because of that, almost any brand will be successful in marketing their name through mommy bloggers. Moms are also the main decision makers as to how daily spending is allocated. They make most purchasing decisions in a household and they like trusted brands. Naturally, this is the biggest audience most brands want to reach.
Readers love to hear what the next thing is that these bloggers are going to share, and then they re-share it on social media. These bloggers are trusted journalists, they have credibility and readers love them and their content. Bloggers have turned into online celebrities themselves. A blogger vouching for a product or company can immediately get customers running to the store.
These bloggers get it.
They are trusted.
They are (like) friends.
They have the audience your brand wants to reach.
They have credibility. They are trusted. Readers trust recommendations from a friend more than any other form of marketing.
So how can your brand leverage bloggers?
What do Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen have in common?
Well, in addition the similar makeup of estrogen biologically and identical singing registers, the pair both found fame on the same stage: YouTube.com.
Assume you live in San Diego, California and you’re in need of a marketing company. You log on to Google, type in the magic search terms and click the first link you see. And you’re presented with this home page on the right.
Would you have any idea what they do exactly or who they serve? If you said no, join the rest of customers who struggle to figure out why they should pick one company over another.
In a world where the average attention span of an adult in 2012 according to StatisticBrain.com was eight seconds.
Yes…eight seconds! That’s all the time your website has to tell a customer why they should stay and learn about your company.
If a prospective customer has to make sense of what “Connect Inspire” means… they’ll leave. It’s that cruel of an online world we do business in.
Anything less than a clear, concise statement that says what you do and why it’s better than the competitor will, frankly, not grab the attention of a prospective customer.
Unfortunately most customers will never ask us what we do and why it’s better because they don’t have the time or patience to do so. Many websites dazzle us with flash displays, brilliant pictures and colors, but never actually tell us what they do or why we should buy from them.
A Real Live Case Study: Domino’s Pizza
What you have is a completely wasted effort by the marketer, and all the while the customer endures yet another search to his or her questions that remain unanswered. To give you an understanding of what kind of impact developing a value proposition can be to your company, let’s look at an example—see if this one sounds familiar:
“Hot, fresh pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less… guaranteed.”
If you guessed Domino’s Pizza, you nailed it! But how, and why, was this simple statement effective? Robert Passikof of the New York based Brand Keys has this explanation:
“They rank No. 1 because of the value proposition, because of locations, because of service, because of the ability to deliver the promotional extras.”
Domino’s value proposition offered customers something that had strong appeal and exclusivity. Customers knew they could get a pizza (despite the quality) that was hot and delivered to their door in an agreeable amount of time. Like McDonald’s, people value the speed and service over the quality of the product.
So how can your company develop a value proposition that is clear, easy to understand, and easily engageable? One company in Florida created a formula that systematically allows you to discover and express the value of your business in a clear and concise way.
A System For Finding Your Company’s Value Proposition
MECLabs, a company that invests $20 million in marketing experiments, developed a systematic way to find your company’s value proposition. Dr. Flint McLaughlin, director at MECLabs says your value proposition must answer this critical question:
“If I’m your ideal customer why should I buy from you versus one of your competitors?”
Yes, the same one mentioned earlier. The value proposition must make the argument that your specific product or service is special from everyone else’s. Now it’s time to show you how to communicate that very message with your customers.
Value propositions have four fundamental elements:
- Appeal – I want this
- Exclusivity – I can only get this from you
- Clarity – I understand this
- Credibility – I believe you
The first step in determining your value proposition is to list five pieces of value that your company offers to its customers. As you write this list, try to avoid filtering your answers–even if you think they’re dumb. For this example, we’re going to pretend we run a gym that conducts group fitness classes in a busy downtown city district.
Here are my five pieces of value:
- High intensity workouts that help you lose weight done in 30 minutes
- Located in downtown within a 10 minute walking distance from your office
- Training classes with fellow executives, just like yourself, offers a perfect opportunity for networking
- Classes scheduled before you start work, during lunch and after you leave the office
- Learn over 20 different fat burning exercises to help you find your optimum fitness level
Once we have these pieces of value jotted down, it’s time to see which illustrations truly stand out. The way we’ll make this determination is to rate each one on a scale of one to five, with five being highest.
You’ll want to use your market intuition here, but be conservative; if something isn’t truly exclusive and you know other competitors do the same thing, then use a lower score. Also, it’s perfectly fine to rate something with a .5, which helps to create more separation between scores. Our goal is to narrow the list down to your top two pieces of value.
Have a look (App = appeal / Exc = exclusivity):
- High intensity workouts, and losing weight in 30 minutes: App = 4.0 / Exc = 4.0
- Location within 10 minutes of office: App = 4.5 / Exc = 4.0
- Train with fellow executives: App = 4.5 / Exc = 5.0
- Flexible class schedule: App = 3.5 / Exc = 4.0
- 20 fat burning exercises: App = 3.5 / Exc = 3.5
Knowing your customers the way you do, we’re confident they are short on time, and don’t want to travel far to get in shape. But one thing we also understand is that busy executives like to be around people just like themselves. They love sharing stories and exchanging ideas, and you can communicate this with the value proposition statement.
But can we believe these claims? Here’s where we add evidence to make them more credible, and, thus, gain the trust of our potential customers. So our top two statements are the location and networking aspects. Great, so now we’ll make this look believable by adding evidential statements behind the value pieces.
Evidence #1 – We are located on 123 Broadway in downtown just minutes from these corporate buildings (put specific buildings in).
Evidence #2 – You can take the subway or bus and reach our gym in approximately eight minutes or in five minutes by car.
Evidence #1 – Executives from these companies (fill in companies) come to our training sessions regularly
Evidence #2 – Connect with fellow executives by putting your business card on our networking board
Now why does this work? Because if you really wanted to test these claims out they would be easy to measure. Hop on a bus and get there in less than 10 minutes? OK done we can believe that. You could walk into the gym and see the classes or check out the networking board with your own two eyes.
Here’s the clarity part where we put the value proposition statement together. Here’s a statement we could use:
“Fitness Classes That Connect You With Fellow Executives Within 10 Minutes Of Your Office”
Do we know what’s being offered? Yes we know this business offers fitness classes that are close to my office where I can meet other executives.
Can we craft a better value proposition? Of course, but having a clear statement of value helps your potential customers draw conclusions about what’s being offered to them much faster. What this means for your business is the opportunity to stand out, be understood and close more sales.
Here’s your action step for today, tell us your company’s top two pieces of value you offer customers and put it in the comments section below.
The Ann Arbor News, Domino’s hopes new pizza recipe reshapes image on quality
MECLabs, MarketingExperiments.com – Value Proposition
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