brand promise, competitive advantage, Customer Service, differentiation, good will creation, Memorability, Uncategorized, User experience

Why You Should Remind & Require Employees to “Do Your Job” and Do It Well

In my last blog post, “In Praise of Praise”, I shared my thoughts about how, in this day and age of “digital sharing”, an organization’s success or failure may be very dependent on customers’ online reviews/ratings. The same success-failure relationship holds true for an organization’s customer service quality, which, of course, individuals likely take into consideration when reviewing or rating an organization online. As a marketer, I’ve always believed prompt, effective, exemplary, and customer-satisfying customer service delivery is an organization’s most important marketing tactic and a marketing “no-brainer” along with having an effective website that is optimized for SEO. In very competitive markets, where there is little differentiation between products or services offered, it often is the one and only true differentiator.

I’ve also always been a big stickler when it comes to doing your job and doing it well — this includes having high expectations of myself as well as my co-workers, and thus, my always wanting to deliver outstanding work, both in corporate and consulting roles. I’ll never forget how, while employed at my very first permanent post-college job in a prominent bank’s corporate banking area, it was noted in my review as a criticism that I had too high or unreasonable expectations of co-workers. I couldn’t understand that being a negative trait at the time, and I still don’t comprehend why it was a perceived as a weakness that I would voice a concern to my manager whenever staff in the Bank’s wire transfer area messed up a transfer for the Bank’s biggest corporate customer — whose relationship I and my boss managed.

DO YOUR JOB

Fellow Bostonians and fans of the New England Patriots are sure to be familiar with the “Do Your Job” command associated with Coach Bill Belichick in recent years. I’ve been thinking about this statement a great deal lately, primarily because I have had, or friends and family have shared with me, so many recent experiences where individuals didn’t, had to be pushed to, or refused to do their job. It seems like it’s becoming more and more common for individuals to:

  • deliver slow or no service
  • express through body language or spoken language that they’re annoyed that they have to serve or help you, or that you asked them to serve or help you
  • ask you to self-serve or do their job for them
  • be immersed in their cell phone and not their job
  • continue talking with their co-workers when they see you standing at the counter or in line waiting to be helped

A couple examples of the above. Earlier in the week, my husband and I visited a popular and busy museum in New York City. The individual working at the coat check did not speak to us at all when we came to pick up my coat and bag, despite having chatted quite a bit with us when we dropped them off. Instead, she was very slow to get up out of her chair and get our things for us, and seemed very irritated that she had to do so. The fact that she had spoken with us previously meant there wasn’t any kind of language barrier getting in the way of her communicating with us. Therefore, she could have said “thanks” when we handed her our token and ticket to pick up the items, wished us “a good evening” as it was late in the day, or commented or asked about our visit or about our returning to the Museum. Even a smile would have gone a long way with us.

A family member recently needed help with a technical issue he was having with some software. He couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t able to get the software to function right, despite numerous attempts to use it to accomplish a necessary task. Instead, he was asked to do an extensive amount of trouble-shooting and rework on his end by the software company, when the individual with whom he was interacting could have easily identified the glitch/helped him resolve the issue. Basically, he was being asked to self-serve. And — I know I’m stating the obvious — that’s a common occurrence right now. We’re being asked now to regularly self-serve at checkout lines at the grocery store or pharmacy when we purchase products, and even self-serve related to services we receive.  And, even some smaller shops have implemented such technology.

Sure there are times when it’s helpful or quicker for customers to be able to self-serve, but I don’t believe that individuals should ever be forced to self-serve, and if we have to self-serve, shouldn’t we receive some kind of product or service price discount? Self service should be just one of several service options offered to customers. By offering self-service, organizations may believe their customers will be more satisfied, and in some cases, that may be true, but the organization also misses out on the opportunity for an individual to rave about the exceptional/outstanding/world-class service they received — service that may be the deciding factor in whether they return to a store location or use a particular service again, or the deciding factor among those with whom a client shares information about your organization’s service level.

patriots

So, what are the marketing and management implications of all of the above?

  • Managers of front line staff need to regularly conduct an assessment of how those customer-facing staff are doing their jobs and if they are doing it well via:
    • service surveys conducted of customers — I’m going to give a shout-out to the Lucerne Hotel in NYC — because they recently surveyed me with an online tool at the beginning of my stay and after my stay. Way to stay on top of any possible customer service issues!
    • hiring a mystery shopper to provide customer service experience feedback if your organization has one or several storefronts or locations where individuals receive face-to-face/in-person service from an employee
    • customers reviews posted on Facebook, Yelp, Google, and any other rating/review sites that might be relevant to your particular industry
    • other tactics, such as listening in on a staff member’s phone call with a customer (this should not be done without the staff member being aware of it, of course, or at least aware that, at any point, you might might be listening in on a customer call)
  • Organizations should ask themselves whether ALL of their target audiences/customers will welcome having to self-serve. If the answer is “no,” and there are customer or prospective client audiences who likely won’t welcome self-service, then a service option where an organization’s employees assists or waits on customers is required.

I’d so welcome hearing your thoughts and experiences related to being the victim of someone’s unwillingness to do their job or being forced to self-serve. So, please do share!

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.

 

 

 

integrated marketing, landing pages, Memorability, online advertising, remarketing, Uncategorized, website

Reminding with Remarketing

If you’ve ever visited a website, particularly a consumer goods/retail one, and then, had ads presented to you on another website or web property related to the products you  looked at on that original site, you’ve been remarketed to or retargeted. Last Friday, I was looking at some home furnishing stores’ websites for some new bar stools. I spent a fair amount of time on Wayfair’s site, looking at various stool options, and now the below ads are regularly being served up to me. This is as I go about my various day-to-day work activities on my computer, not because I revisited the Wayfair site.

Like many savvy marketers, Wayfair knows that remarketing advertising is an easy, and quite effective way, to remind individuals who have already shown an interest in certain products and services you offer about those particular products and services. And, Wayfair surely knows that click-thrus rates and sales generated through remarketing display ads are higher than for non-remarketing/general display advertising.

bar stools

Remarketing isn’t just for large retailers and consumer goods companies, though, and you don’t need to have the ample marketing budget they likely have to take advantage of remarketing. Whether you sell services vs. products, or whether your target audience is businesses vs. consumers, what I consider to be reasonably priced and fairly easy-to-set-up display advertising (think an ad with an image that appears on a variety of websites, including YouTube) is available through Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) and their associated Google Display Network (GDN).

Using your Google Analytics account (this is also very easy to set up if you don’t already have such an account), you can create very targeted remarketing lists to whom you want your Google Ads display ad presented.  At the broadest, more general levels, you can remind individuals who visited your site of your product and service offerings by having your ads presented to all site visitors, new site visitors (visitors who came to your site for the first time), or returning site visitors (visitors who came to your site for the second time or more).  You can also target your remarketing advertising based on:

  • the page(s) individuals visited on your site
  • actions individuals did or did not take on your site, such as completing and submitting an inquiry form or making a purchase

While this post’s focus is about display advertising remarketing, since that is most well-known, most-used, and best-understood, advertisers can also remarket to individuals using what’s known as Remarketing Lists for Search Advertising (RLSA) in conjunction with Google Ads search advertising.  This latter form of advertising allows for ads to be shown to individuals who enter search terms (keywords) into a search engine. Google Ads search remarketing allows an advertiser to only have their ads presented to individuals who both type appropriate search terms into their browser AND who have visited the advertiser’s website in the past. It also allows you to set up your search advertising to indicate to Google Ads your willingness to pay (bid) more to have your search ad shown to individuals searching on appropriate terms who have visited your site before vs. to individuals who haven’t.

Whether you are already running Google Ads display and/or search advertising, or you are in the planning process for launching your very first Google campaign, you should consider adding one or both of the above-mentioned forms of remarketing to your online advertising campaigns. You’ll be reminding visitors who land on your site because of display or search advertising, as well as individuals who visit your site from non-advertising sources/channels, about how the outstanding products and services you offer are just what they are looking for!

 

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.

 

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

And, They Told Two Friends, and So On and So On

Long before I knew I was going to devote my career to being a marketing and communications strategist, I was regularly exposed to a marketing campaign so impactful that I remember it and the product it promoted all these years later.  This was the ad for Faberge Organics hair products that used the tagline shown in my header.

I believe this tagline was effective in selling hair products because it was memorable (I talked about the importance of memorability in marketing campaigns in this 2014 post).  Also, what woman, regardless of her age, wouldn’t want to make the very small investment in a hair product that women find so effective, they are all talking about it!

But, the memorability and effectiveness of this campaign’s slogan is not the true purpose of my post.  The purpose of my post is to reinforce, as we all begin a new year, the importance of testimonials and word of mouth, in growing your business.  There’s no stronger and more cost-effective of a marketing tool than a job well done in the eye’s of a client or customer.  A happy and satisfied customer is more likely to proactively make referrals or agree, when asked, to make referrals to other potential clients on your behalf.

After almost nine months in business, I’ve found the best source of client work is former colleagues and co-workers who witnessed first-hand the quality of my work and work ethic, and referrals by these individuals to other individuals.  So, make sure that, regardless of the size or profitability associated with a particular customer project or service, you always put your best foot forward and bring your best work to any situation.  And, don’t hesitate to ask your clients who express great satisfaction with your work to make referrals on your behalf.  I think you’ll find, as I have, that a customer who is pleased with your work will always be glad to help you make connections.

 

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: https://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”.

marketing consultant, Memorability, staying current, Target Marketing

Memorability and Target Marketing 1.2

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

I’ve been posting a lot recently about both the value of creating memorability and of knowing how to reach and speak to your target audience — two key principles that are ageless and will always be critical to the success of any advertising campaigns, regardless of their objectives.

Dos Equis has succeeded in implementing both these principles in its “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign. The beer giant understands that much of today’s  buying power resides within the “Baby Boomers” group — and its “Most Interesting Man” campaign speaks to both women and men of that generation — women who’d like to meet the “most interesting man” and men who would like to be him.

You know a campaign is memorable when others spoof and/or want to capitalize on it as YouTube has done with its subscription campaign mirroring “The Most Interesting Man” campaign. Enjoy “The Most Interesting Puppet in the World”, if you haven’t already seen it, and “Stay Thirsty, My Friends”.

 

marketing consultant, Memorability, staying current, Strong Ad Creative, Target Marketing

It’s All in the “Framily”

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

I’ve posted about this on my Facebook page before.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I actually really enjoy the Sprint framily ads and the very diverse and interesting group that makes up the Frobinson family. Maybe it’s because I was a French major undergraduate and I love to hear the angelic daughter speak French while bluebirds swarm around her head, or I love to hear the Gordon character correct the other framily members that his name is pronounced “Gordin”, but the ads don’t become old or tiresome to me no matter how many times I see them.  I also enjoy it whenever a new ad is added to the campaign because I enjoy seeing what trouble or mischief the family is up to.

I did some research on the history and thinking behind the campaign, and learned that Sprint launched the campaign because its overseas parent company had had great success with a similar campaign in their neck of the woods.  A big danger with very creative ad campaigns is that viewers can get so caught up in the creative message or visual that they don’t even know what brand, product, or service the ad is promoting, but I don’t think this is a concern for the framily ads. The unique and very different framily members reinforce Sprint’s message that a framily doesn’t have to be a homogeneous group of individuals because 1) a framily group can consist of both friends and family and 2) the average American family is now more than ever likely to be culturally and ethnicity diverse for a variety of reasons, including the fact that there are now so many “combined” families. The ads speak to almost everyone, and therefore, should have an impact on a larger target audience.

I believe the ads are very memorable, effective, and will and do cause sales growth for Sprint.  A large organization like Sprint is sure to have lots of in-house and out-of-house marketing gurus monitoring these campaigns and if they weren’t effective, they wouldn’t continue to run them or add new ads (creative) to the campaign mix.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ads.