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/.

competitive advantage, differentiation, diversity, keeping up with trends, marketing consultant, staying current

The Value of Diverse Industry Experience to Both Employee and Employer

No clever, punchy headline today.  Instead, a statement about which I feel very strongly.  In the past several weeks, both I and friends who are in the marketing field and seeking contract or permanent employment, have had potential employers or people we network with make comments indicating that they didn’t think were appropriate for a particular job in a particular industry because we had no industry experience.  Or, we’ve had comments along the same vein made to us that the hiring company was likely to, or was going to, proceed with another candidate who had experience in that’s company’s industry.  And, we’ve been told, “well, I would have spoken with you about X,Y,Z opportunity, but I thought you were only interested in or able to do work in X,Y,Z industry”.

My whole career I’ve never forgotten a statement made by my then VP of Marketing and Sales.  He told his staff at a team-building event, “don’t just strive to be the best in our industry, strive to be the best in any industry.  Look at what world-class organizations are doing in other industries, and not just ours”.  I never forgot that.  At the time, I was employed at a health plan that had unfortunately allowed itself to become a bit of a dinosaur, relying on past achievements, and not keeping up with the times.  He encouraged us to look toward world-class organizations such as FedEx for inspiration and role models.  At that health plan, as part of a sales conference I helped plan, we had a speaker from a leading hotel chain that had received accolades for outstanding customer service, address our group.  The hotel representative talked a lot of about how to improve customer experience by thinking outside the box.

I digressed a little, but it was with a definite purpose.  The above reinforces, that quite often, both an employee and employer benefit when an employee has been able to work in and/or get exposure to different industries.  I’ve found this to be very true in my case.  At this point, between my permanent positions and my various contract and agency positions, I’ve served clients in or worked in the following industries:  healthcare (health plans and hospitals), financial services (both investments and banking), higher education, consumer goods (health and beauty, food, and more), manufacturing, hospitality, private investigation, non-profits serving vulnerable populations, real estate, and I’m sure there are more.

I believe without a doubt that employers and clients both have benefitted greatly from the fact that I am able to bring best practices and innovation from other industries to any work with which I am involved.  And, without a doubt, I’ve grown professionally, mentally, and emotionally from having exposure to so many distinct industries with their distinct challenges.  It’s kept my mind sharp, kept me learning, and kept me quite happy.

I’ll just close with this simple hope — that employers won’t shut out/dismiss potential contract or permanent employees because of lack of industry experience, particularly us marketing and communications folks.  My experience has proven that marketing and communications skills are extremely transferable across industries, and as long as a potential hire is intelligent, they can fairly readily learn the nuances, opportunities, and challenges of any industry.  And, they’ll likely bring an open mind to the situation and discover some opportunities that someone who’s worked in an industry for years might not bring.

differentiation, diversity, keeping up with trends, marketing consultant, online advertising, staying current, Understanding Your Environment

While You Wait, Educate

I’m keeping the “ate” rhymes going in my topic header that I started with my recent To Make Sure You Relate, Integrate post, but the topic of these two posts are quite different. If you’ve read some of my recent posts you know that it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to launch a new business, including a consultancy.  And, there are a lot of starts and stops along the way.  You get very excited about a prospective client meeting and spend hours preparing for it, so you are able to communicate what you know about your prospective client, their industry, their competition, and particularly their pain points. It’s particularly important that you be able to demonstrate what specific skills, experience, and activities you can bring that will help minimize or eliminate a client’s pain. Unfortunately, even when you are able to demonstrate your value proposition, prospective clients aren’t always ready or able to make the leap to engaging your services for a project or ongoing contract work.  They may already have relationships in place with organizations offering similar services, or they may need to obtain approvals from several levels higher up in their organization before they can start working with you, and/or they just may not have an immediate need for your services. Lastly, while you may be able to address one of their pain points, they may have greater pains that may need addressing first that aren’t in your area of expertise. You may be offering services to help them with a belly ache when they’ve got such sharp, shooting back pain that the belly ache, while troublesome, is not the area that they feel needs the most immediate attention.

As I advise friends who are seeking permanent, contract, or consulting work to do, I make every attempt to use any time where I am not doing client work and/or presenting to a prospective client/networking to educate myself on topics important to my industry and line of work. While I wait for my client work pipeline to grow, and when I feel I need a break from networking and selling myself and my skills, I attend webinars and phone discussions with/offered by experts in online/digital marketing.  I read blog and web site content about digital opportunities/marketing, and particularly, about improving SEO (search engine optimization) and optimizing pay-per-click/paid search advertising. If someone reaches out to me to attend a webinar — most are free — or asks to have a phone conversation about new digital marketing technology or any topic related to online presence, I’m almost always glad to listen in, have a conversation, etc.

I know keeping myself well-educated on all the ongoing changes and improvements in digital, traditional, and integrated marketing will make me a more valuable consultant to my clients.  Being well-informed just adds more and more tools I can add to my doctor’s kit, so that when faced with a client’s or prospective client’s pain point, I can share a variety of options with them that will help them minimize or eliminate their pain in an effective and efficient manner.

Continuously educating myself on topics related to my area of expertise and interest will mean that when a current or prospective client comes to me with a new pain point, I’m more likely to have the tools to address it.  In fact, the next time a client needs help with their back versus a toe, I may be able to help or have made a connection who can help (which will also create good will with any client). I don’t ever plan to stop growing and learning professionally, and I hope you won’t either.  It’s a great way to remain fully engaged in any industry or profession. You’ll remain enthusiastic and draw other enthusiasts toward you, including new customers who recognize you as being knowledgeable about their particular challenge.

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, 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.

 

competitive advantage, differentiation, marketing consultant

Why It Literally Pays To Be Different

I recently consulted with a small business that was having difficulty maintaining a steady stream of customers and revenues.  There is a very crowded marketplace for this business’ services, i.e., many other businesses offer very similar services in the same geography and some are franchises of much larger chains, and therefore, likely have access to marketing activities available through their central organization/office.

After assessing this small business’ competition — something I do as part of my standard pre-work for a conversation with any organization looking for assistance with their marketing — I pointed out to this small business owner that, if they had any chance of succeeding at all in their over-crowded marketplace, they would really need to identify what differentiates them from their competitors, particularly since they did not want their differentiator to be lower/better pricing than their competitors. Then, they would need to market and create awareness of that difference.

A caution and a challenge regarding identifying and promoting your difference from competitors — your differentiating attributes must be something your target audience values, and if you’re the high-cost provider of a product and service, then, in addition, your target audience has to value those attributes significantly enough to be willing to pay extra for those services.

I attended a Webinar this week on how to grow a successful consulting practice. While as a marketing professional, I have spent countless hours trying to identify, and then figure out how to promote, program/product/service differences for a variety of organizations in a variety of industries, the Webinar was a good reinforcement that as a consultant I need to heed the same advice I give my clients. I’ve got to offer something unique and different from all the other management consultants out there.  Fortunately, I launched my business with that awareness and understanding. You can learn more about why I view my organization to be different from my competitors by reading Results’ first newsletter.

My husband and I are big fans of Ray Davies of Kinks’ fame and of his song “I’m Not Like Everybody Else“. There are many benefits to not being like everybody else, and for a small business owner they can be huge financial ones, as long as not being like everybody else and the reasons for it, are favorably viewed by your target audience.

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

To Tag or Not to Tag?

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, competitive advantage, differentiation, Enjoying What You Do, good will creation, making time for things you value, marketing consultant, Passion

The Power of Passion

My Dad was a man of great passion. He gave his utmost attention and energies to whatever or whomever he loved.

While my wonderful father passed away in 2012, just after his 85th birthday, as I undertake leading and operating my own business, I know it is his success and love of entrepreneurship that has inspired me to do so. My dad, O.V., never ran from a challenge. In fact, he embraced them.  For most of his career,  he was employed in businesses of his own creation.  Using a small inheritance from an aunt, he started an office equipment business at 1019 Farmington Avenue in Bristol, Connecticut.  While its origins were those of a church, 1019 served for years, and continues to serve, as the home for my Dad’s ventures, including the real estate firm my father ran most of his life, his beloved O.V. Resources.

While my dad originally was involved in both residential and commercial real estate, owning and selling commercial properties was his true love — behind my mother, of course.  Because of his passion for this business, my dad grew his firm to be one of the most successful and most well-known commercial real estate firms in Connecticut.  Due to his kind and friendly nature, my dad acquired what my brother calls a circle of “followers”.  They still stop by to visit with one of  my brothers who assumed responsibility for leading O.V. Resources in 2012.

In keeping with having been in the navy and a lover of sailing his whole life, my Dad successfully navigated the choppy seas of tough economic times during his forty-plus years in business.  He valued his ability to operate his own business and serve other local businesses, and he somehow always found a way to keep the business afloat.  In fact, his innovation and never-give-up attitude caused the business to have, overall, a very successful history.

Like my dad, my two older brothers have brought great commitment to O.V. Resources.

 

Image

My Dad brought great passion to other interests beyond his family, his business and sailing and boating.  He loved  cars, and just being out in the fresh air doing yard work — hence, the photo above.

Because of my love of research and analytic work, executing communications and marketing plans based on findings, and my Dad’s never-give-up attitude and creativity, I plan to bring great passion, commitment, and empathy to all the clients I serve.  And, like O.V., I hope I will soon develop my own circle of followers who will come to me for advice, compassion, and camaraderie.

Thanks, Dad, and to my brothers for your inspiration!  I look forward to following in your footsteps.