Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

How many times have you received an email, flipped through a magazine or visited a website, and thought “wow, there is absolutely nothing interesting or worthwhile to read, look at or even share”. Next, you promptly deleted the email, closed the magazine (maybe even recycled it right away) and actually clicked on an advertisement to just get away from the boring website.  You’re probably also thinking, “what happened to all the cool, engaging, fun stuff?”
But, the next thought you have is, “Geez, I hope I don’t publish boring content like this for my business”. (Yes, I hope to that that’s not the case for you either).

Now that we are fully integrated in an information and 24/7 updating society, we are constantly looking for the new shiny, exciting trends that are buzzing on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, maybe even Pinterest.  And more challenging, trying to figure out how we can tap into the information world and create content that everyone is raving about on Facebook and Twitter to their followers.

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No One Knows Your Brand Better Than Your Customers

A brand. It is the image, memory, story or expectation that defines and represents a business or person. While many are busy defining their own brand by creating clever key messages, eye-catching logos and mission/vision/value statements, it is actually the public, or our customers/clients, that determine our true brand. This is because brands are subjective in nature. They are based on not just key messages, cool logos and social responsible mission statements, but on the actions of the business, both verbal and non-verbal. 

Brands are actually based on how a business conducts transactions, how they interact with customers and their communities through customer service, public outreach and engagement, and yes, the visuals that we see (i.e. brochures, storefronts, signage, commercials).

Take McDonalds, when you see the logo or hear the name, what comes to mind? When people were asked on the streets by McDonald reps, the responses varied and covered many areas of the business that you wouldn’t have suspected.  Keywords that were mentioned included greasy food, junk food, fast, convenience, unhealthy, to aspects of the business like factory farming, inhumane animal treatment, poor wages.

As you can imagine, the company was not happy with how the public was viewing the McDonald brand and they knew they needed to do something and quickly.  “Our Food. Your Questions” was a campaign that resulted and focused on bringing transparency to the company.  It involved asking the public to submitted their questions about any aspect of the company, and they would give you answer (the truth, so to speak).

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Email Marketing – Still #1 Way to Engage Customers

Did you know that email is about 7 times more effective than social media and search engines when it comes to driving people to your website and generating leads? Email is still one of the most effective ways to connect with customers and drive them to your website.

Over 41% of mobile device owners have purchased in response to an email promo that they received and viewed on their mobile device. AND 80% of online shoppers and 71% of in-store shoppers say email offers influence them to buy. (source: Yesmail Interactive)

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Storytelling: It’s Time To Tell Your Brand’s Story

“Purposeful storytelling isn’t show business, it’s good business. – Peter Guber”

When it comes to marketing it’s no longer about flashy ads that have a business telling you about the bells and whistles of their product or service. People have changed how they make purchasing decisions and which brands to trust. This change is a direct result of social sharing and the new technologies that allow people to share their reviews and experiences.

More businesses are looking towards their customers for creative promotion, using content marketing to build a relationship rather than focusing on the end purchase.  Marketing is now about storytelling and creating a conversation about customer experience.

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Influencer vs. Brand Advocate: What’s the Difference?

Since I posted on brand advocates and why they are important to businesses, I’ve had people ask, “what’s the difference between an influencer and a brand advocate?”. Well my friends, the answer is quite simple: an influencer can be someone who knows about a business or product and supports it, while a brand advocate is an actual customer of a business and promotes them because of their satisfaction.

To help illustrate the difference, I came across this infographic (by Zuberance) that clearly details what separates the two and shows how influencers are becoming highly overrated when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing.

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The Impact of a Simple ‘Thank You’

It’s that time of year where charities are looking for donations and using the holidays as a time to approach families looking for unique gift ideas.  However, then there are some who just use the opportunity to say thanks for your support.

The other day I came home to a surprising voicemail message. It was David Suzuki himself calling to say thank you for being a donor in the past and providing valuable funds that support the foundations initiatives, and wished me happy holidays.  There was no ask about giving another donation or how much they need more of my money – it was just a simple thank you.

WOW! Boy did I feel special. Now I know it was a recording, but it was his actual voice and it sure made me feel happy about the donation I made months ago.  It made me feel so good that I pulled out the recent mailing I received from the foundation, filled out the donation card and signed up as a monthly donor.  I felt like a million bucks and felt even better about giving more money to the foundation.

This is a perfect example of how a charity or cause can build a relationship with its donors and go the extra mile to thank them whenever the opportunity arises.  The David Suzuki Foundation successfully made a one time donor into a monthly donor, and created a memorable and lasting experience. No one wants to be constantly asked, let alone asked for more money beyond their initial donation. People want to be thanked and recognized for their support no matter the size. And in return, most will demonstrate their support by making another donation – just as I did.

Expressing thanks isn’t something that’s just for non-profit organizations, businesses can benefit from this too.  Simply say thank you to the customers who are your loyal clients and biggest fans, and make them feel special. They’ll remember why they love your business so much and keep coming back.

I can only imagine how many other donors made another donation because of the surprise voicemail thank you from David Suzuki.  Kudos to staff at the foundation, well played!

Tis the Season: How Your Business Can Gain From Online Shopping

Black Friday. The day that signals the beginning of Christmas mayhem and the shopping frenzy.  And now we’re also blessed with Cyber Monday, which has gained in popularity since its creation.  What do these two days mean for your business?

According to an article provided by HubSpot, there are 47 statistics that will make it clear why businesses who are not already focused on online sales to consider diving into this additional sales avenue.

Key statistics that businesses should make note of for the 2012 holiday season include:

52% of consumers will do their holiday shopping online this year – Source: National Retail Federation

48% of shoppers plan to shop online and in-store equally this holiday season – Source: Steelhouse &

53% of smartphone owners and 64% of tablet owners will use their devices to research and make holiday purchases – Source: National Retail Federation

4 in 5 shoppers will use devices simultaneously to help with holiday shopping – Source: Ipsos Mediact / Google

Over 41% of mobile device owners have purchased in response to an email promo viewed on mobile… Yet, 1/3 of top ecommerce brand emails linked to a non-mobile optimized landing page  – Source: Yesmail Interactive

80% of online shoppers and 71% of in-store shoppers say email offers influence them to buy – Source: Yesmail Interactive

31% of shoppers will track emails from retailers to get latest holiday announcements – National Retail Federation

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Brand Advocates: Who Are They and Why Should You Care?

Now I understand the realities, and not every business can afford expensive celebrity brand ambassadors for their products and services. While it would be great, it’s probably not in your budget to have your ads featuring NHL’s Sidney Crosby using your products or getting a Kardashian to make a surprise appearance at your upcoming business event. But, what a business can do is give simple recognition to customers who are their brand advocates and in return reap the benefits of a powerful marketing outcome.

Have you ever heard of ‘famous in a small town’? A brand advocate can provide a business with the best kind of promotion – word of mouth endorsement – that can almost always lead to new customers and instill a positive presence for the business in the community.

They are your loyal customers who just love your products and services. They would even drive the extra mile or spend a little more just to get what you have to offer. Brand advocates are individuals who would recommend you to their friends and family (let alone anyone), and tweet about their recent experience with your staff or post a picture of themselves at your business on Facebook.

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