Show a little gratitude

August 30, 2017

GratitudeI believe that gratitude is a brilliant marketing strategy. I’m astonished at how many businesses give their customers the distinct impression that they’re a little put out by having to sell them something.

You’ve felt it – the grocery clerk who is too busy chatting to actually make eye contact. The phone rep that can’t wait to get off the phone. The sales pro that doesn’t return your calls, even though you’ve told him you’re ready to buy.

It’s annoying and hardly breeds customer loyalty. But gratitude isn’t just for customers. I believe the smart business owner creates a continuous chain of gratitude and not only is it genuine, but it yields incredible benefits.

Here’s how the chain gets constructed. First – you demonstrate your gratitude to your employees. You then give them the tools to extend that same gratitude to your vendors and clients. Then, you invite your vendors and clients to recognize your employees for serving them well.

See how it goes full circle? When you cultivate and encourage the cycle, it just picks up steam and gets stronger and stronger. It’s like a snowball that keeps growing and accelerating as it speeds down the hill. Pretty soon, it’s been woven into your culture and becomes part of your reputation. That’s a pretty powerful brand attribute.

So how do you make it happen? You develop tools for each group of people in the cycle. Let’s start with the employees.

The good news is that this isn’t about more money. It’s about recognition and appreciation. Everyone wants to be noticed for doing a good job. You start by defining what “a good job” looks like. Be very clear in your own mind what character traits you want on your team. Interview for those soft skills and attitudes.

After you hire the right kind of people – train them well. Don’t just train them to be good at their job, train them to be grateful for the clients who bring the opportunities to your company. Help them understand how each client contributes to the bottom line.

Now – start catching them doing things right. This cannot be left to chance or it won’t get done. Create a peer recognition program, where employees can thank each other for going above and beyond. Read the nominations at an all staff meeting or share them on your intranet. Find a way to publicize the kudos they received. Personally stop by their office (or call them if they’re not local) and thank them for making a difference.

What’s the business rationale for this effort? A study of over 1,700 employees conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) indicated that more than half of all employees intended to search for new jobs because they felt underappreciated and undervalued. Further research on gratitude and appreciation documents that when employees feel valued, they have high job satisfaction, will work longer hours, build supportive relationships with co-workers and supervisors, and are happy to help the company achieve its goals.

On top of all that – they aren’t looking for other jobs. I don’t know about your industry but in my world it’s getting tougher and tougher to find qualified employees. So we want to keep the good ones that we have.

Beyond the employee peer recognition, there are other things you can do. On your employees’ anniversary with your company, why not acknowledge their contributions and how it’s impacted the company? Or send a note home, telling his/her family how they contribute to your organization.

Celebrate your employees and their wins. Be thoughtful, be personal and be sincere. But most of all – be genuinely grateful.

Next week, we’ll wrap up the cycle of gratitude by talking about how you can cultivate that among your vendors and customers.

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Consumers pay attention to where your ads live and who their neighbors are!

June 13, 2017

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council came out with a new study that we all need to be aware of as we place our digital ad buys.

Nearly half of all consumers indicate they would rethink purchasing from brands or would boycott products if they encountered brand ads alongside digital content that offends them, reveals a new study on “How Brands Annoy Fans.”

Aimed at assessing the impact of digital advertising experiences on consumer perceptions and purchase intent, the research looked at digital brand safety from the consumer’s perspective and found that consumers are punishing even preferred brands if they don’t use trusted media platforms or take active steps to control the integrity of their ad environments.
Conducted by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council using the Pollfish platform, the survey gathered views from 2,000 adult consumers in North America and the U.K., both regions which have both seen high-profile brand campaigns withdrawn this year for their association with fake, distressing and hateful content. The consumer poll is part of a broader study of digital brand safety being conducted by the CMO Council, in partnership with Dow Jones, entitled “Brand Protection From Digital Content Infection.”

With trust more critical than ever, respondents made it clear that they will no longer give their brands a pass for even inadvertent display of ads near objectionable digital and video content. A full two-thirds of respondents said they would hold a dimmer view of brands that provided negative advertising experiences.

The report also found that social media platforms are still not trusted content spaces. Despite listing social media as the source of the second-highest volume of ad messages they receive—behind only television—consumers ranked social media last among their five most trusted channels. They ranked friends, TV, search engines and newspapers as more trusted sources.

A large majority of consumers said they responded differently to the same ad, depending on its context, with 63 percent saying they responded more positively to ads run in trusted media channels. Consumers are, in fact, turning to trusted content providers and media to escape objectionable content. Some 60 percent said offensive context has already caused them to consume more content from trusted, well-known news sources and established media channels.

“CMOs and brand advertisers are increasingly concerned about various aspects of digital and programmatic advertising, including concerns about their ads showing up next to offensive content,” said Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. “This consumer survey demonstrates that those concerns are well founded. Advertising placed next to objectionable content is damaging to a brand while ads that accompany more trusted content and media are more accepted.”

While other brand safety studies have explored adverse brand perceptions, the CMO Council research asked consumers about their response to the experience of finding brand ads in proximity to objectionable content or fake news sites—and their warning to advertisers was brutal. Some 37 percent of consumers said it would change the way they think of a brand when making a decision to buy. Another 11 percent said they would flat-out not do business with that brand. Another 9 percent said they would become vocal critics of the brand.

Another consumer response is the increased use of ad blockers. In another alarming finding for digital marketers, more than 50 percent of respondents said they either already had or planned to install some form of ad-blocking software to their mobile devices or PC browsers.

Negative experiences with digital display advertising are far from a rarity. According to the most recent “Media Quality Report” by Integral Ad Science (AIS), up to 8.6 percent of digital display ads in the U.S. were flagged as posing a moderate or high risk to brand reputation. Maria Pousa, CMO for IAS, told the CMO Council that the most prevalent categories of risk in the U.S. were violent, adult or offensive language content, followed by issues like hate speech and illegal downloads.

Other key insights from the CMO Council survey include:

  • A surprising 86 percent of consumers are either extremely concerned, very concerned or moderately worried about how easily they are directed or redirected to hateful or offensive content.
  • The most annoying digital advertising formats, even when appearing on trusted media channels, were intrusive pop-up ads (22 percent) and auto-playing video ads (17 percent).
  • Attention to digital advertising overall was notably low, with only 14 percent always engaged and 58 percent saying they pay attention only when ads either interest them or are really interesting.
  • Just over 40 percent of consumers have already installed ad-blocking software on their devices while another 14 percent said they planned to add these features.

Neale-May said the full report, featuring qualitative interviews and vendor insights, would include key details on the steps, tools and strategies adopted by leading advertisers and CMOs who have minimized the threat to their brands. The abbreviated consumer survey findings can be sourced from the CMO Council at https://www.cmocouncil.org/digitalad-consumer-report.

About the CMO Council

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council is dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership, and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide range of global industries. The CMO Council’s 12,500-plus members control more than $500 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide. In total, the CMO Council and its strategic interest communities include more than 30,000 global executives in more than 110 countries covering multiple industries, segments and markets.

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Do you want to take a stand?

May 17, 2017

take a standThe Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage dominated the news, social media and most conversations when it was announced.  Regardless of where you stood on the topic – you couldn’t help but be immersed in it.  And that wasn’t true for just individuals but, interestingly, for businesses as well. Many of them made a point to take a stand on this issue.

There used to be an unwritten rule that businesses stayed out of political and social discussions.  Unless the issue was one that united the entire country, like World War II – businesses kept their heads down and just stayed focused on business.

But times have changed and consumers have made it clear that they want to do business with organizations that share their values.  It’s as though a third element has been added to the buying decision.  Consumers are driven by their emotions when it comes to any purchase.  That emotion is often tempered or inflamed by facts or features. But today, those two buying elements are influenced by the world around us. Consumer’s beliefs and values are having a bigger and bigger impact on how they perceive and interact with brands.

In the past, we’ve seen lots of brands embrace causes that are tied to their product/service like Avon’s fight against breast cancer or Dawn’s support of wildlife affected by oil spills and other disasters.  But all of that seems pretty safe in comparison to taking a stand on a controversial issue.

In recent history, we saw both Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby take a strong stance on social issues and that decision both cost them and earned them customers who were either aligned or repelled by their position.  In some ways, it’s the essence of branding – show your heart and attract your sweet spot customers who believe as you believe and will value you even more because of that connection.

Many brands spoke out when the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage came out. They quickly reacted to the decision and came out to show their support of the ruling within hours of the announcement being made.

There are a myriad of marketing lessons to be taken from that decision and the responses to that huge societal event.

Your company has a heart: Only you/your leadership team can decide if you want to take a stand and on what issue.  But recognize that whether you speak out or not – there are issues that matter to you and your organization. You’ll have to decide if that should be a part of your company’s public persona or not. The risks are real but so are the rewards of attracting and connecting with people who share your values.

It can’t just be for show: If you’re going to step out of the shadows and express an opinion on a social or societal issue – you need to truly own it.  These are vital topics to your audience and any sign of you being in the fight just for appearances or financial gain will bite you in a big way.

A mile wide versus an inch deep: You can’t fight every fight. And odds are, you don’t have a strong conviction for every fight. You also don’t want to be perceived as a brand that just runs from cause to cause, trying to capitalize on them all.  These kinds of issues are typically very complicated and take a long time to resolve.  If you truly want to affect change (otherwise, don’t get into the fight), know you’re in it for the long haul.

Bottom line – it’s your call. But if you’re going to take a stand, remember that you need to be smart about which issues should earn your resources and your reputation.

 

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Music to my ears

February 1, 2017

music

As I was listening to one of my favorite playlists today, I was struck by how emotional music can be. A certain melody or specific song has an amazing ability to trigger our emotions in an instant. Ask any runner and they’ll tell you that one of the ways they set the tone for their run is by pre-programming the music they’ll listen to when they run. Many writers swear by the same technique and have spent hours putting together just the right mix of songs to inspire their work.

You’ve probably noticed how music impacts your reaction to TV commercials, videos, and podcasts. In the short run – it sets the tone and tempo for the piece and gets your emotions fired up. But in the long run – just the first notes of a familiar jingle can have you repeating the company’s tagline or theme song lyrics. And that connection lasts for decades.

If I could magically make this article play the first few bars of “I’d like to teach the world to sing” many of you over the age of 40 would be subconsciously reaching for a can of Coke before you could remember why. That campaign ran in 1971 and we still have that trigger embedded in our memory decades later. That’s powerful.

Music is a connector. It connects us to memories, people, and stories. Marketing is about making a connection with your audience.

You don’t have to be producing a multi-million dollar TV spot, video or audio show to leverage music’s impact. There are plenty of ways for marketers of all sizes and shapes to work music into their marketing plan.

Sponsorship: According to Billboard, live concert attendance is up over 20% and there are no signs it’s slowing down. What? You don’t have the budget to sponsor Madonna’s new tour? No worries – look no further than your own local music scene.  Most communities are producing some incredible local vocalists and bands that are performing on a regular basis.

Odds are these musicians haven’t had a lot of experience in being sponsored so you may have to carve out a deal from scratch. But just like the nationally known artists – each of these local talents has a following. Find the singer or group that has attracted the audience that matters to your business and see if you can strike up a deal.

Customize your music: If you’re creating a jingle or want to have a consistent piece of music associated with your company – don’t buy something off the shelf. Have a piece of music composed that you can own and use for years to come. And remember – sometimes the words are what makes a jingle stink. Instrumental music can be even more potent if it’s well written. Again – there are plenty of local composers who have both the talent and equipment to help you bring the musical spirit of your organization to life.

Set the mood with music: Whether you have a retail store or you deal with your customers over the phone – you have the opportunity to establish the tone of your interactions with music.

Here’s the key to this strategy that is often missed. If you are not the same age/demographic as your target audience, remember – it’s not about what you like, it’s what they like. Have you ever walked into the store Hot Topic at the mall? You immediately know (if you’re over 20) that you are not their target audience. Use your musical selections to create a welcome mat for your right fit customers.

Whether you’re putting together testimonial videos, a radio series or creating a live event – don’t forget to think long and hard about music and how you can elevate your results with it.

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Shhh, we’re secret shopping

January 11, 2017

Secret ShoppingIf there’s one marketing tactic that we execute for clients that always yields incredible results, it’s when we secret shop their operation. Without exception, a secret shopping program will:

  • Provide insights that surprise you (good and bad)
  • Spotlight specific areas where your training and communication have failed and you/your employees are hurting your brand
  • Uncover sales opportunities that you are letting slip through your fingers
  • Identify employees who are brand ambassadors and those who are actually doing damage to your reputation

We secret shop some of our clients every year and even though we’ve done it before – each time produces new insights and results. We always modify some aspects of their customer interaction, marketing, and employee training based on the results of the effort.

Many times we not only secret shop our own clients but we include their competitors as well. This produces an incredible wealth of new knowledge – from vulnerabilities to what they’re saying about their competition (you!) to prospects. Depending on the study – sometimes we don’t tell our operatives who the client is but at the end of the process, we ask them who they would hire/buy from. That’s always an eye opener!

If you’re a B2B leader/owner and are about to dismiss this as a retail marketing tactic – think again. We’ve done it for plenty of B2B clients with the exact same results. No matter what you sell – you interact with people to market and sell your offerings. We’ve done secret shopping on the web, over the phone, via email and in person (usually a blend of more than one throughout the sales cycle) and the learning is huge, no matter what you sell.

Like all marketing – doing it and doing it well are two different things. There are some elements of a secret shopping program that you’ll want to pay special attention to if you want reliable results.

This is not a DIY project: There are some marketing elements that you and your team are perfectly equipped to do on your own. This is not one of them. You need to bring in experienced outsiders who understand your industry but more important – understand how to effectively secret shop and report back the results.

You want to choose a firm who has professionals that are experienced in handling the entire secret shopping experience from initial contact to the final report. They need to be privy to your key messages, brand and sales process or they won’t be able to help you identify how to improve.

Create a safe environment: Secret shoppers often have to share less than ideal results with their clients. If you don’t make it perfectly clear that you’re ready to hear whatever they discover – it may make it difficult for them to be as candid as you need them to be. Prepare yourself – no matter how good you and your employees are – you’re not going to get a perfect grade. There’s always room for improvement.

Consistency is key: For the results to be meaningful, the experience needs to be consistent – all the shoppers need to look for the same things, ask the same sorts of questions, and grade the experience based on the same criteria. This allows you to know that the reported results aren’t an anomaly and should be reacted to – good or bad.

Next steps: The most important part of the secret shopping experience is that the company you hire can help you identify next steps to correct the issues and accentuate the positives. This will probably include employee training, some tweaks to your sales process and it may even include some changes to your product/service itself.

If you want to start your year off with a serious boost – consider a secret shopping program.

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Personal equals professional – we are one

November 9, 2016

personal equals professionalOne of the downsides of our digitally driven lives is that the dotted line is no more. What I mean by that is that you used to be able to artificially draw a dotted line in between your personal life and your professional life and to a great extent, you could control whether something would cross from one side to the other.   Not anymore.  Personal equals professional.

That dotted line was probably never as real or protective as we thought it was, but in today’s world, it no longer exists.

I just read a friend’s Facebook status and he said something to the effect of “I don’t like to blend my personal Facebook account with business, but we’re hosting a workshop that I am really proud of — so I’d like to invite all of you.”

This guy owns the company that is putting on the workshop. So in theory, his personal Facebook friends all know what he does for a living and some of them are probably even clients. But most of them are probably not fans of his official company page on Facebook. If he’d only announced it there, most of his Facebook connections would have missed it entirely.

And no one is going to unfriend him for mentioning his work alter ego on a site that some might deem for personal use only.

The truth is – there is no “personal use only” anymore. I actually think that’s better – don’t you want to know who you’re doing business with? Don’t you actually work better with someone when you know that they love rescue dogs, take an annual trip to the Tetons and hate the Yankees?

By the way, talking about your work/business is different from constantly hawking one’s wares. You shouldn’t be doing that at all – but especially not where people expect you to be social.

But the time of hiding your personal side from your professional side and visa versa is over. You aren’t two separate people and what you do outside of work and what you believe actually influences the work you do.

In fact, your personal brand – what you are all about, stand for, believe in, etc. is part of your professional brand. Personal equals professional.  And just like a company’s brand should inform and influence consumers – so should your personal one.

Regardless of which side of the Chick-fil-A fence you landed on, when the CEO, Dan Kathy, came out and talked about his personal beliefs and where he invests his company’s charitable dollars, I’m betting you suddenly had an opinion about that business. Even if you’d never eaten there before.

Did they lose customers over the controversy? Absolutely. But did they gain brand zealots who now go out of their way to support Chick-fil-A and spend even more money there? Absolutely.

The goal of branding is to locate your sweet spot customers. Those who are best aligned with you. Who you are – as a company, an employee of a company, and as a person can all help in that endeavor.

I’m not suggesting you can’t or shouldn’t have a private life that is actually private. But if you don’t want your prospective customers knowing your stance on a political issue, a family situation you’re facing or take offense at your secret love of all things Hello Kitty – then never, ever post about it online. Anywhere.

But stop artificially separating the two halves of you. It was probably never a good idea but in today’s world, it’s not only impossible but it feels very inauthentic. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust and that isn’t just about 50% of you.

Whether you are a geek freak, a Greek freak or a chic freak – let your flag fly and let it draw like-minded people to you and your business.

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Insincerity is not good for your brand

September 21, 2016

BrandI love it when employees really adopt their company’s brand and make it their own. That’s one of the ways you know that your brand has really woven itself into the culture of your organization. But it rarely happens by accident. In any brand process, part of the process should be about helping your employees understand and internalize the brand.

Then, you need to work with your team by job functions, helping each type of employee figure out how the brand influences their work. For example – if you’re a bank, how the tellers bring the brand to life will be very different from how the fraud department will live the brand.

Unfortunately, most companies take a shortcut that just makes their brand feel forced and artificial.

The first time I checked out at Walgreens and the clerk said “Be well,” I thought, well that’s cool – it fits with their whole brand and bravo to the clerk for making the brand her own.

After being in about five different Walgreens in several different states, I caught on. They had all been told to use “be well” as their farewell to customers. Suddenly the only thing “be well” communicated to me was a robotic script that completely lacked even an ounce of sincerity.

Probably not what Walgreens wants us to think about their “at the corner of happy and healthy” brand position.

That’s the problem with a lot of brands. You can’t just create a brand and slap it on your marketing materials. For a brand to actually mean something to your customers or your employees – it needs to be grounded in what you actually believe. It has to be built from your corporate values and be the sword you’re willing to fall on when there’s a conflict.

Your customers and employees have a pretty accurate BS meter and if your brand promise is superficial, they’re going to figure it out pretty quickly.  Here are some things that trigger the meter.

Hyperbole: When you use loaded words that seem hyped and exaggerated, it immediately makes people suspicious. Use language that your audience can connect with and relate to, rather than words that feel artificial or impossible to achieve.

When it’s rote: Much like my experience in Walgreens, there’s a fine line between creating consistency in how your brand is communicated and it being robotic and stale. How often have you thought that a customer service rep was just reading from a script and really didn’t care if he had “met or exceeded all of your expectations today?”

One size fits all: If your brand position is so generic to your industry that your competitor could adopt and reasonably honor your brand – it’s not really a brand position at all. It’s simply a statement of what everyone in your industry should be delivering.

When it’s nothing more than marketing speak: A genuine brand isn’t just a marketing tool. It’s a divining rod that helps direct the entire company. I should feel your brand in my interactions with every single employee. But that requires commitment and investment on your part. It’s just spin if you sprinkle it in your marketing but not work to make it a part of your organization’s foundation.

When it works on the outside, but not inside: Your brand promise needs to be just as true internally as it is with your best customers. Remember – a good brand is your values in action. Values aren’t situational. You can’t expect your employees to behave according to your brand if you don’t in your dealings with them.

A brand is a promise of what it’s like to do business with you. Insincerity can kill your chances of even having a shot at delivering on that promise.

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What kind of branding sticks?

May 17, 2016

brandingWhat kind of branding sticks?

There have been some shifts in how brands are perceived as of late. The change has been triggered by the availability of so much data in the forms of ratings, reviews and Internet searches and the lasting impact of viral storms that can be triggered by a single angry customer or prospect.

While I don’t discount the new variables and their influence on our perceptions of brands, I also don’t think building a strong brand is a lost cause. In fact, I think all of this bright light of scrutiny being shone on brands is a good thing. Many examples are outlined in the book that triggered all of this (Absolute Value by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen).  It shows how companies were exposed for claiming a brand that they didn’t truly live or own. I think many companies play that game – they come up with a clever tagline and put it on their website, business cards or ads but that’s about it. It’s a marketing gimmick.

Fortunately, it’s not every organization’s intention to whitewash the public with the public facing façade of a brand. A company that understands that a brand isn’t a marketing slight of hand, but instead is the expression of a deeply held belief and business absolute, can still benefit from a successful branding effort.

So how, as a consumer do you determine the difference? And how, as a marketer do you make sure that your brand isn’t an inch deep and a mile wide?

A brand is genuine and in place to benefit both the consumer and the company when you see it woven into every aspect of the organization. Here are some good signs:

Every employee can tell you how their department and their position impacts the brand: A brand is a organization’s ultimate promise to everyone who comes into contact with that company. It’s easy for the marketing department to understand how they might deliver on the brand but you know a brand is more than skin deep when the accounting department, HR and the guys on the dock also understand and can articulate how they help bring the brand to life.

The brand promise is infused into every aspect of HR from hiring, reviews, employee awards and even in the exit interviews: One of the best ways to help employees understand that the brand is not just the CEO’s passion of the month is to create policies and programs that include it. When the brand is reflected in your interview questions, in how employees are reviewed and rewarded and even in how you separate from team members – that speaks volumes.

The brand isn’t a cliché that anyone could claim: You know the ones I mean. We see them every day. “The difference is our people” or “Your satisfaction is our guarantee” types of brands sound great but they don’t really say anything. Or they don’t say anything unique or specific to that company. No one purposefully hires incompetent, uncaring people or doesn’t want their customers to be satisfied. A real brand of depth is a bold promise that uses strong language to make an audacious promise. Don’t let pretty words fool you and don’t try to use pretty words to fool your customers.

You know a brand is built on a wobbly foundation when 3-5 people sit in a room and decide what it should be. That begs for a superficial brand that’s mostly fluff and little substance. You need to discover and seed a brand that will truly benefit your organization and the people you serve.

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Best practices for creating infographics

September 14, 2015

best practices for creating infographicsWhether you know what they’re called or not, we all consume infographics every day but when it comes to using them to market your own business — what are the best practices for creating infographics?

Most people are a combination of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners and about 65% of us are mainly visual learners. Visual learners easily pick up information with their eyes. Visual learners often associate the things they learn with the images they saw when they first learned the material.

Why are so many of us visual by nature? The brain processes visual information more quickly than text and it retains more of that information. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.

Back in the good old days of marketing, we used to (and really still do) talk about white space and using fewer words and more graphs, charts and pictures to tell a story. So it shouldn’t surprise any of us that infographics are here to stay.

Infographics take full advantage of the brain’s power to absorb images, which allows the viewer to capitalize on the advantages visuals can have over text.

I’m sure you’ve seen one but just in case — an infographic is a visual representation of information, data and knowledge that is intended to quickly and clearly communicate complex data. It might include maps, charts, diagrams, lists or graphs and usually is a combination of these.

They’re basically a very visually interesting way to tell a story conveying accurate information and data but in a visual form that allows us to get the gist of the message quickly. Think of them as a snapshot of complex data that is easy to read and easy to share in a short amount of time.

They also generate lots of web traffic and for many companies have become valuable marketing tools.

There are many elements to a creative, successful, attention-grabbing infographic. They’re essentially stories containing accurate content, controllable design, easy integration and versatility – all advantages from which marketers can benefit.

Thinking about infusing infographics into your marketing? Here are some things to keep in mind:

Tell A Story: An infographic conveys a story or message as a visual sequence. The creative use of graphics helps people to understand the message or story being delivered and increases retention.

Incorporate Insightful Data: A key element of most infographics is statistical data. Viewers are drawn to statistics so make sure they’re accurate. A single inaccurate statistic will damage the credibility of the entire piece and worse — your company.

A Brand Builder: Infographics are great for creating brand awareness, so be sure it accurately reflects your brand. Your graphics should inviting viewers to investigate your website or company a little more. Be sure you have content to satisfy their interest when they get to your website.

Another benefit of this tool is brand recall. Readers of the infographic are not only more aware of your brand but will also recall it better, which may help influence decision-maker purchase consideration. Research shows that the action of sharing increases brand recall by 63%.

Make It Easy to Share: These visual tools are easily shared on websites, blogs and social networks. Make sure you give people a way to embed your infographic to generate more traffic, views and shares. A strong effort will earn your site a lot of inbound links and give you a big SEO boost.

Credibility: Through the use of accurate data, statistics, insights and references, your infographic builds credibility and demonstrates your expertise in a very unique way. It not only uses a variety of statistics and facts to reduce a complex data set to a manageable and eye catching visual representation – but it also enhances your reputation as a thought leader.

As you begin (or continue) to work on using visuals in your marketing efforts be sure you bake in these best practices for creating infographics so you maximize the incredible benefits of this communications tool.  For some more examples — check out these 11 infographics on what makes a good infographic!

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Are you minding your packaging?

June 21, 2015

The smartest brands know that having an awesome product/service is important but how you present that awesome product or service matters too.  Yes, it probably costs more. And yes, it means you have to keep upping your game. So there’s risk and cost in making that choice. But it’s what separates the premium brands from their competitors.

Here are two of the world’s best brands and example of how seriously they take the simple presentation of their product.  Check out how Disney presents their MagicBands and Apple is sending out its new Apple Watch.

This is how Disney mails out their MagicBands.

This is how Disney mails out their MagicBands.

 

Inside the box is your personalized MagicBand -- in the color you selected and with your name printed on the inside of the band.

Inside the box is your personalized MagicBand — in the color you selected and with your name printed on the inside of the band.

 

This is the packaging for the Apple Watch.

This is the packaging for the Apple Watch.

 

And finally, you get to your new watch.

And finally, you get to your new watch.

 

In every case — the anticipation of actually getting to the product (and keep in mind with the Disney MagicBands — the bands are simply the access point to getting into Disney) heightens the experience of getting the actual item.

They don’t have to go to the extra lengths — but they do. Which triggers even more buzz and loyalty for their brand.

So — how can you, no matter what you sell, use anticipation and packaging to elevate your brand and create more buzz?

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