brand promise, competitive advantage, differentiation, Memorability, sales, taglines, target audiences, Understanding Your Environment

Defining Your Differentiator With Detail

I was prompted to write this post because of recent exercises and discussions in which I engaged related to how an organization differentiates itself from competitors. Earlier in the week, related to an opportunity I was pursuing, I needed to express in writing what makes me and my organization different from (well, really better than) other marketing consultants. I also had a discussion yesterday with a prospective new client — one in the very initial stages of creating a brand/identity — about the importance of calling out in marketing activities, including branding, what made his shop different from competitors.

Q: Why Should Your Target Audience(s) Choose Your Product or Service Over That of A Competitor?

Answering the above question is no easy feat! In certain industries, and with particular product and service offerings, it can be extremely difficult to identify a differentiator, particularly if your organization operates in a highly regulated industry where certain product and service features are limited or mandated by state or federal regulations. I’ll give an example from my corporate marketing days. I worked for two health plans who served individuals qualifying for state-funded health care coverage, such as Medicaid. The states in which the health plans operated had very specific guidelines regarding what plans could and couldn’t offer members related to the various healthcare coverage programs for which they were contracted. This made it very difficult to create and execute program benefits, features, services, etc. that stood out from competitors. For example, on the customer service and coverage front, state-contracted health plans were required to achieve a mandated level of customer service and coverage. One of the ways plans attempted to stand out was to offer tangible wellness benefits such as free car seats, bike helmets, etc.

Despite the type of challenge described above, I believe each and every organization can and should identify what makes them unique/special/different (in a positive way!) from competitors. To aid you in landing on a “differentiator with details”, i.e., an explanation that has some “meat” to it and isn’t vague or general, I’ve outlined steps and questions to use as you brainstorm individually or with others at your organization about how and why your products and services outshine your competitors, i.e., why your organization rocks!

Stand out from the crowd and different concept , One red balloon flying away from other white balloons on light green pastel color wall background with reflections and shadows . 3D rendering

STEPS FOR DETAILING YOUR DIFFERENTIATOR

Step One: Identify Broad Differentiation Categories In Which Your Organization Falls

  • Determine the broader categories on which your organization can differentiate its products & services. Note that there will likely be some overlap and your organization will fall into several categories.
    • convenience (location, online/website user-friendly tools & apps, hours of operation, portability of service/product; ease of use of product or service)
    • product features (consider how they speak to the various senses: taste, feel, appearance, sound, smell)
    •  less tangible benefits, such as free assistance on certain topics or activities or ongoing e-communications that educate client on topics of importance to them
    • customer service (hours, days, quality, free vs. cost – does client have to buy service package?)
    • speed (how much turnaround time to receive service or product post-order/engagement?)
    • depth of expertise (# of years in business, in a particular industry, on a particular topic, background of organization leadership, etc.)
    • price/value (this can be tricky to promote, and often isn’t the best way to differentiate yourself, unless you know you are the lowest-cost provider, and that “low cost” won’t be associated by your target audiences with being low quality)
    • quality & durability of work, services, or product (materials used, how long something will last/be valuable)
    • breadth of offerings (can your organization meet several needs or pain points of clients immediately, or if needed in the future?; do you offer one-stop shopping or connections to experts when needed?)
    • organization size (what does your size allow for — more personal attention, less overhead equating to lower cost, more services and diverse staff experience?)

Step Two: Evaluate Which of Your Broad Categories of Differentiation Matter to Your Target Audience(s)

Ask and be honest with yourself about the following:

  1. “Does/do my target audience(s) value what makes me different/is my differentiator important to a prospective customer?”
  2. “Does my differentiator speak to a particular pain point or several pain points that a prospective client is likely experiencing?”
  3. “Are you able to communicate your differentiator quickly/efficiently in a language your audiences will understand?”

At a minimum, you must be able to answer “yes” to #1 and #3 above if you plan to market your differentiator and have it resonate with target audiences, and ultimately support sales and lead generation.

Step Three: Build Out The Details of Your Differentiator

Hopefully, the above exercise landed you on one or two broad categories of differentiation that will be meaningful to prospective clients. Now, it’s time to build out the details. Let’s use size as an example. The “About” page of my site includes the following reference “Our small size means our Principal, Gail Snow Moraski, will be directly involved with your account, providing the experience and attention ALL clients deserve.” If your organization is a large shop, and you believe prospective clients will benefit from that, elaborate on why being large is beneficial. Your details around your large-size differentiator might reference the diverse, extensive experience of staff, the one-stop shopping you offer, the many, varied services you offer, or even the stability of your firm and the likelihood it will be around for a while.

Another differentiator example from our my own organization. Our tagline is “Maximizing Results Through Research-Supported Marketing.” I hope and believe that it expresses to prospective client audiences that I won’t encourage them to execute or continue any marketing activities that don’t generate leads or sales for them. And, that our tagline conveys that we are a data-driven, analytical shop. I consider my research and analysis skills a differentiator from some fellow marketing consultants who offer certain marketing & communications services, particularly writing- or creative-related ones, but don’t necessarily know how to determine in advance what marketing vehicles or activities (employing content or images/graphics they’ve created) should work as far as generating sales go, or how to go about analyzing what worked in the past. On the other hand, some marketing consultants have differentiators or skills that I don’t have, such as an artistic background/eye or experience creating and laying out sizable documents, such as annual reports.

In sum, the key to identifying and promoting your differentiator(s) is knowing which of your strengths a prospective customer will value most, and then, making it clear through understandable, concise statements what that differentiator is and how your target audiences will benefit.

We always welcome a good marketing brainstorm, so if your organization is struggling with determining your differentiators, which to promote, and how to effectively communicate them, we hope you’ll reach out.

 

 

 

brand promise, good will creation, Memorability, staying current, traditional marketing, Understanding Your Environment

LL Bean: A Role Model For Delivering the Right Message at The Right Time

Note: Since I wrote the piece below the video referenced has been removed from YouTube.

I’ve shared my thoughts briefly about this on social media, but promised myself and others that, once time permitted, I would elaborate on the reasoning behind my belief that LL Bean’s current advertising is some of the best I’ve seen from a big brand in a long time. Being based in Massachusetts and aware that an LL Bean representative recently spoke at a Boston business event, I knew I could easily snag information about this well-known advertiser’s reasoning and objectives behind their new campaign. But, I chose to avoid reading others’ thoughts, including those of the brand itself, so that I could share what is one marketing consultant’s reaction and pure joy related to LL Bean’s recent advertising — both their “Outsider” and “Holiday” ads.

As alluded to in my blog title, it’s been a year, or a series of years, really, where individuals,  discouraged by difficult world and local events and on sensory overload from hand-held and desktop devices, want and need simple, positive things to feel happy about. And, what’s more simple than Mother Nature and the Great Outdoors? LL Bean ads remind viewers about the remarkable, free gift we have at our fingertips all year-long, including the holidays, and how easy it is to access that gift. I never, ever tire of hearing the following two lines from LL Bean’s “Outsider” ads — “Because on the Inside, We’re All Outsiders”, and “If It’s Outside, We’re All In.” Every time I hear them, they make me smile, remind me of the wonderful treasure we all have waiting for us outside our front doors, and how I’m my happiest when I’m in nature. I’m hoping and thinking that the ads resonate as strongly with most individuals.

Sure, maybe we shouldn’t need reminders that we all have easy access to this entry-fee-free adventure and should be taking advantage of the euphoria nature provides. But, I believe the high-tech nature and pace of first-world life has caused us all to lose sight of this incredible endowment. So, bravo to LL Bean for recognizing that folks are yearning to find peace and happiness in simple pleasures and capitalizing on that to sell their products! By creating messaging and images that remind us to celebrate and enjoy the simple pleasures of the outdoors, and to be true to our “outsider” natures, LL Bean may be improving their bottom line. But, they are also giving us a great gift at a time when many of us could really use one.

brand promise, marketing consultant, Memorability, Passion, Strong Ad Creative, taglines, Uncategorized

Make Them Laugh

When I look back at TV commercials that have aired throughout my career that were among my favorites, I realize that most of them were funny. They stuck in my head and I didn’t mind seeing them repeatedly because they put a smile on my face. Colleagues who know me well know there’s nothing I love more than writing some fun, punchy copy.  Often, the cornier the better, because as I’ve blogged before, if advertising is entertaining, and therefore likely memorable, it should create increased brand awareness and likeability.

Maybe they drive some of you nuts, but I really enjoy a lot of the Geico ads in the “It’s What You Do” series, such as this one.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7D0FVpfU1g.  It’s fun and effective.

I also like Geico’s “Did You Know” series of ads, including this favorite.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCysb4_-4jU.

Of course, depending on the nature of the product you are promoting and your brand promise, humorous advertising may not be appropriate.  But, when and where humor can be used, why not tickle your customers’ and prospective customers’ funny bones at the same time you provide information about your brand, product or service? Your customers and prospective customers are sure to appreciate and love you for it.

 

brand promise, differentiation, good will creation, marketing consultant, Memorability, Understanding Your Environment

Branding At Its Finest

Any marketing professional worth their weight in salt is both in awe and envious of the successful branding run of the Morton Salt Girl. The Girl is celebrating 100 years and never looked so young and hip!  Kudos to all the internal and external marketing and advertising folk who kept her looking fresh and current throughout the years. She’s had some great stylists!

Who doesn’t love the Morton Salt Girl? I mean what’s not to love? Despite the fact that the Morton Salt Girl is wearing clothes de jour, if you’re an adult, she still takes you back to your days of youth when you enjoyed being out in the rain with your umbrella, splashing in puddles, and getting your shoes as wet as possible.  And, if you are a child, there’s an immediate connection because of the clothes, and the fact that she, like you, knows the joys of “singing and dancing in the rain”.

The Girl still looks down-to-earth, and similar enough to the Girl we’ve seen throughout the decades in various styling stages, that she continues to support Morton’s brand promise to us that the Salt she promotes will bring all good things — like old-fashioned cooking, low-key suppers with family and friends, folks gathered around the kitchen and dining room table. Just general togetherness and slowing down for baking and cooking activities, i.e., more traditional activities, and the ability to step away from the fast-paced high-technology world for a minute. That’s a lot for one GIRL to convey, but she does it just wonderfully by her simplicity and her commitment to obliviously enjoying her day in the rain — with no desire or interest in being the sun or spotlight.

What memories does she conjure up for you?

Learn more about the Morton Salt Girl here: http://www.mortonsaltgirl100.com/.

brand promise, differentiation, diversity, integrated marketing, keeping up with trends, marketing consultant, Memorability, staying current

To Make Sure You Relate, Integrate

I’ve been working with a real estate firm to grow the number of individuals who list properties with them as well as to identify prospective customers for the firm’s listings, which include commercial properties for purchase as well as for rent. Because of how critical it is for organizations to have a strong online presence and marketing program, we put a lot of our initial energies into Google AdWords search and display advertising, social media, and Web content.  The firm’s online marketing and communications activities were minimal and causing them to miss out on opportunities.

While online marketing has generated some leads for my client, a small recent incident reinforced something I’ve always believed and regularly share with prospective and existing clients.  You never should put all your eggs into one marketing basket. While a large percentage of individuals do search for business or personal information or needs online — and for them, it’s likely that digital and online communications are their preferred means of communicating and/or gaining information — there is likely to always be some percentage of the population who prefers to obtain information or communicate by other, more traditional means.

The incident I referenced above was that the client had sent out a flyer to a very targeted list of prospective customers we had pulled from a public database — individuals who, because of their line of business, we thought might have some interest in a particular property.  This “direct mail” initiative ended up causing a strong prospective customer to contact my client, and reinforced that there are still people out there who will open, read, and take action related to a direct mail piece — whether it be a postcard, letter, or some other format.

Right now, my client and I are also looking into print advertising opportunities. Yup, good old-fashioned newspapers and magazines because, again, there are still prospective customers out there that prefer to or enjoy getting their information through print media.

fishing

Photo Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I believe I may have already shared this in one of my blog posts, but one of my favorite marketing sayings is “fish where the fish are”.  It’s really important to know what type of fish you are trying to catch, and then, what types of and what bodies of water they like to swim in. This will allow you to develop and execute an integrated marketing campaign that repeats messaging, creative, images, etc. across a variety of vehicles and media that are appropriate. This will ensure that each of the types of fish you are trying to catch are spoken to via a vehicle or media to which they can relate.  And, of course, you’ll get the benefit of repeated exposure by your fish to your messaging by employing many vehicles. Remember, the average fish doesn’t always stay in the same area of the lake. In fact, they may regularly travel between a river and an ocean, and like both fresh and salt water.  Maybe I should have titled my blog post “integrate with the right bait”.

brand promise, marketing consultant, Passion, sales, Target Marketing, traditional marketing

Haagen Dazs — Target Marketing at Its Best

Note: Since I wrote the piece below the video referenced has been removed from YouTube.

I loved it the first time I saw it and I don’t get tired of it. Despite all the confrontation in Haagen Dazs’ commercial for its Stracciatella gelato, I doubt there’s a woman out there who doesn’t find herself entranced by the extreme passion and romance played out in this commercial. It makes you think of the intense love of Romeo and Juliet, in Dr. Zhivago, or a Bryan Adams’ song, and that combined with the opportunity to be transported to Italy for a few minutes via the language and physical appearance of the actors, is the stuff of women’s dreams. Yes, you could argue that men yearn for great romance too, and some will be moved and prompted to take action after seeing this commercial too, but I feel comfortable in stating, firstly, that this commercial is primarily targeting women, and secondly, its emotional appeal WILL cause a rise in Stracciatella gelato sales. I know one target audience member who was prompted to buy and try some and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed in my purchase.  The gelato was as delicious as I expected to be, and I felt so luxurious just eating it.  It’s just plain creamy good. So, I’m giving Haagen Dazs double kudos — one for great target advertising and another for making sure that the product promoted in its advertising delivers!

brand promise, community involvement, differentiation, marketing consultant, Memorability, Passion, public relations

Something Not to Forget When Executing Marketing Tactics — Memorability

An organization that knows how to create memorability related to both its brand and its marketing activities is going to give itself an immediate leg up against its competitors. You’ve all probably heard the expression that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” because it creates brand awareness, which then may prompt sales or revenue growth. I’m not so sure I agree that it’s a good idea to create memorability through strictly negative associations or activities, but I do believe is that if you can create something memorable that’s positive about your brand and/or in your advertising, your organization is likely to benefit from a brand awareness perspective, at a minimum.

A couple of well-known and simple ways of creating memorability related to both your advertising and your brand are with a jingle, a mascot, or both.  I was reminded of this at last week’s Braintree Relay for Life event, sponsored by Frito Lay, and attended by their furry tiger mascot, “Chester Cheetah”, who is highly associated with Frito Lay’s Cheetos snacks.  He was one of the major attractions at the event for children of all ages, including me!

 

 

Gail with Frito 2

My last employer, BMC HealthNet Plan, has employed a mascot for years, “Sunny” (a big sun character who wears big black sunglasses) , to create good will and brand awareness.  Sunny has attended literally thousands of community events and children and adults alike flock to him.

As far as jingles go, we all must admit that there are certain ones that we find appealing and that just stick with us. We find ourselves humming or singing them in the shower or in the car or they run through our heads while we lie in bed at night — and I don’t mean songs recorded by artists that are used as advertising background music — I mean jingles that were created to be used repeatedly in conjunction with a brand’s advertising for many years, or just for a particular marketing campaign of a brand.  Here’s one of my favorites.

In addition to mascots and jingles that can be associated with a brand for years and years and continue to contribute to the brand’s success, another means of creating brand or marketing campaign memorability is through messaging and visuals/creative that evoke emotion.  And, it’s actually a good thing if a brand or its marketing tugs at your heartstrings a bit, as long as there is an accompanying positive message.  For example, an advertising campaign can focus on a personal challenge or societal problem, but then offer an inspirational solution or show non-stoppable people rising above that challenge or helping those less-fortunate.

So remember,  mascots, jingles, and emotional messages/creative that show something positive rising out of tough circumstances, can all create memorability for a brand or the particular products, programs, or services it promotes.  Despite the fact that lately it would appear that human beings just want to hide behind their hand-held devices and not interact with others, songs, likable and cute creatures, and emotional, but inspiring messages, all provide individuals with an opportunity to connect.  And, that’s probably even more valued now by consumers than it ever was.

 

brand promise, competitive advantage, differentiation, marketing consultant, Memorability, Passion, taglines

To Tag or Not to Tag?

Note: Since I wrote the piece below the video referenced has been removed from YouTube.

When creating new branding — whether it’s updating and refreshing an existing brand or a brand-new brand 🙂 — marketeers are always faced with the question that has plagued generations of marketing professionals:  whether or not to incorporate a tagline in an organization’s branding.

As with all life decisions and activities, there are pros and cons to incorporating a tagline. I have zero doubt that Nike would enjoy the strong reputation and revenues it has achieved without its “Just Do It” tagline. Who wouldn’t be inspired by or motivated to purchase a product associated with that message?  When I had to choose a company’s advertising to analyze in graduate school, I chose Nike because I found their messaging so likable and upbeat. How can you not like their ad messages and taglines that encourage everyone to be their best — regardless of their life status, their age, their gender, their athletic capabilities, or their love or skills for one sport over another?

I just listened to a video about why the ad agency that came up with Nike’s tagline — and yes, it’s so powerful and timeless  that it has now been in use for more than 25 years — and the gentleman who generated the phrase and proposed it for Nike’s advertising suggested it because he saw the power of it being able to unite a variety of proposed ads addressing diverse sports interests.  Nike is probably one of the best representatives  for a big “pro” of including taglines in branding.  A memorable and moving tagline can support interest in and pull together diverse program and product lines and provoke immediate recognition of  and positive emotion toward an advertiser.

On the “con” sign, the biggest challenge with a tagline, particularly if it’s part of a logo and/or associated with your larger corporate brand/identity versus an individual program or product is that it can weigh you down sometimes if it’s too limiting and really doesn’t apply to all your programs or services, if it doesn’t make sense to your target audience, or if target audiences simply don’t like or agree with it.  I think we’ve all read some taglines and said “what?” to ourselves. Those responsible for creating taglines need to be sure to think objectively and even consider testing their proposed tagline on their target audience to ensure effectiveness and appropriateness.

And, that leads me to Results’ tagline.  You’ll see I haven’t incorporated it officially into my branding or logo. As a new business, I’m still getting the “bugs” out of mine, and it varies slightly when I need to give my elevator pitch unexpectedly.  But, it goes something like this — “maximizing results through research-supported marketing activities”.  Yeah, it’s long, but I do believe it’s truly reflects Results’ philosophy that research should be conducted and/or considered before marketing implementing activities, and without a doubt, conducted during and after the activity is occurring. Learn more here.

You’ll see I love Jimmy Dean’s “Shine On” tagline and have included that in my “About Us” message because I find that tagline to be inspirational and believe others to do.

Not so much for a marketing decision or education purpose, but more just to inspire yourself today and in future days to step outside your comfort zone, take a few minutes to watch this Nike ad video.  Just Do It.

 

 

 

brand promise, marketing consultant, mission statement

Keeping Up the Fight

As I’ve expressed to friends and family members, I want my new venture, “Results Communications and Research” to be about so much more than making money. Having known some really strong fighters — several are no longer with us, but many are — I want to offer as well as be a source of inspiration to those who find themselves having to fight hard to stay emotionally and physically well.  I want to “pay it forward” to thank all those who inspired and supported me when I needed it most — through my battle with cancer and subsequent health issues resulting from cancer surgeries and treatment — and be a light in the darkness to those who need it.fighter girl

(image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

In keeping (hah, hah) with the above, I have created a “Keep Up the Fight” page here at allintheresults.com where I plan to share inspirational words and music, and honor inspirational people and organizations  — individuals and teams of individuals that refuse to let life’s challenges beat them or beat down the vulnerable populations they serve.

I hope you’ll visit this page when you find yourself in need of inspiration. Maybe you’re struggling with the demands of caring for an elderly parent or a sick loved one, maybe you’re feeling ill yourself, maybe you find yourself in a difficult employment situation, or maybe you just need some inspiration to keep up with the financial and physical demands of 21st century lifestyles. Regardless, I hope you’ll visit this page regularly, make suggestions for additions to the page — whether they be quotes, songs, people, or organizations you admire or that inspire — and that you’ll share this page with others who may need it.

I’ve already made a couple of additions this week based on items that friends told me inspire them.  Thank you!

I’ll look forward to learning more about what inspires you when you need it most, so please do share it with me at gail.moraski@allintheresults.com.

brand promise, community involvement, good will creation, marketing consultant, mission statement, public relations

Why Goodwill Is, Well, Good

During my thirty years of working for various sized organizations in a variety of industries, there’s been one activity that has worked consistently well regardless of industry or company size to both create awareness and effect sales growth, and that is the creation of goodwill.  But, what I really love as both a marketing professional as well, as the decent human being that I believe myself to be, is that goodwill is good for all.  While it helps organizations succeed, it helps the communities that the organization serves prosper, so everybody wins.

good·will

 noun \ˌgd-ˈwil\

: a kind, helpful, or friendly feeling or attitude

business : the amount of value that a company’s good reputation adds to its overall value

As the above definition from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary supports, I believe creating goodwill is all about being helpful.  Since there are many ways to be helpful, there are many ways to create goodwill.  I’ve listed below some of the more common examples of how businesses (and, of course individuals themselves) can be helpful, but any organization that really understands and fully participates in the communities it serves, can think of lots of other innovative and unique activities.

  • organize a group of employees to volunteer their time to assist with a community event — whether it be helping with preparations for or promotion of the event, or simply helping to staff the event
  • solicit a group of employees to pitch in on manual tasks that need to be done at a particular location operated by a non-profit/community organization — such as a homeless shelter, park, or school
  • purchase a table/booth at a community event such as a health or street fair, or purchase a table at a breakfast, lunch, or dinner event which senior leaders at your organization can attend to show their support
  • donate tangible new or used goods that are on the “wish list” of a particular organization such as new gloves and socks for a homeless shelter or used coats for a coat drive
  • donate $$ that can be used as needed by the non-profit/community organization; sometimes, these donations will be reciprocated by the non-profit/community organization via the opportunity to have a display table of informational and promotional items at an event and/or a program booklet ad, or to be listed as a key sponsor on any event promotional materials the community organization produces

I’m sure you’ve found, as I have, that most individuals want to make a difference in their communities.  By providing employees with an opportunity to donate or volunteer, you are likely to enhance their engagement — another of the many reasons why goodwill is “good”.   And, most non-profit/community organizations are more than willing to share via a press release, an announcement at the podium, their web site, and/or some other activity your organization’s contribution to their success.

I’m always glad to brainstorm with you about what type of goodwill creation activity might be the most effective for your organization as well as best serve the communities in which your organization operates.

Make today the day you do some “Goodwill Hunting” by starting to research upcoming community activities you or your organization might support.