Archive | November, 2015

Marketing Lessons From Movie Trailers

25 Nov

If you want to see a clear-cut example of the power of marketing in action, look no further than the trailers released into cinemas each weekend for the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Nowadays, many feature films cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make, so a trailer needs to fire on every last cylinder in order to help that film succeed. Because of the high stakes involved, there’s actually quite a bit we can learn from successful movie trailers in planning our own marketing campaigns.

Consistency is Key When it Comes to Your Brand

There’s perhaps no more perfect example of the power of consistency in branding today than Marvel Studios. The company’s films include such successful titles as The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World, and Iron Man 3. Marvel keeps churning out hit after hit, and the studio has learned how to leverage the power of its brand in a pretty interesting way.

For Marvel, it all begins with the Marvel Studios logo. Every single trailer for every single Marvel film begins with the Marvel Studios branding. Even the title cards on these previews don’t say "From the Director of X" or "From the Producer of Y." Instead, they say, "From the Studio That Brought You The Avengers." What Marvel’s doing is making their own brand synonymous with the type of quality entertainment people are coming in droves to see. They’re making Marvel Studios a more powerful brand than the characters in the films, the stars of the films, and even the filmmakers themselves. Pretty soon, it won’t matter which movie features which character. As long as it says Marvel Studios on the front, people are going to go.

In many ways, your brand is the most powerful marketing tool you have — even more powerful than the products or services you provide. If you can turn your brand into one that people can’t help but pay attention to through marketing consistency, your bottom line will benefit.

Leave Them Wanting More

Another important marketing lesson you can learn from movie previews is the idea of "always leave them wanting more." A movie trailer should never show all of the best parts of the film. Yes, it should show some of them, but not all. The best trailers leave audiences excited for a film and confident they’ll find a whole lot more waiting for them when they go to see it.

Your marketing materials should be the same way. People should get a general idea of the benefits your products or services provide and a desire to experience those benefits firsthand. Your marketing can never recreate the feeling of joy customers get when they start using your products, but it can get them excited about giving those products a try.

Marketing lessons can be found in the unlikeliest of places — even at the cinema on a weekend excursion with your friends or loved ones. Sure, you’ll probably never make a Hollywood feature film and don’t have hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, but you can still learn a lot just by paying attention to the way movie studios attempt to sell you on the next big blockbuster coming soon to a theater near you.

What Captain Kirk Teaches Us About Business

25 Nov

Even among those who haven’t followed the Star Trek franchise, Captain Kirk and William Shatner (the actor who played him) are household names. Whether you’re a lifelong Trekkie or only know the character’s name in passing, here are six Captain Kirk/William Shatner quotes we found particularly inspiring for marketing and business professionals.

"Genius doesn’t work on an assembly line basis… You can’t simply say, ‘Today I will be brilliant.’"

When starting out or working your way up in business, you must acknowledge that you don’t know everything there is to know about your industry. You’re not going to wake up one morning with the experience to be an industry leader. Instead, you must be willing to study and learn as you go.

"You either believe in yourself or you don’t."

Running a business is never a sure thing. Chances are when you start your own company you’ll find yourself facing skepticism from many different people. If you want to be successful, however, you have to believe in yourself. You must be honest about the faith you have in yourself. If you truly think you can do this, then develop your business plan and prepare to jump in feet first.

"There’s another way to survive — mutual trust and help."

Building a business is not a single-handed endeavor. If you want your business to thrive — and not just survive — you must be willing to trust those running the business with you. When starting out, make sure your first hires are trustworthy people who share your vision. Choose candidates you know you can trust completely to have the good of the company at heart.

"Sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on."

Sure, predicting the right moment to launch a company or introduce a new product or service involves studying trends, but it also requires a finely tuned intuition. Sometimes, all you have to go on in business is a gut feeling. If you have reasons to support those instincts, don’t be afraid to listen to them.

"If I can have honesty, it’s easier to overlook mistakes."

This quote speaks to the importance of transparency in everything a business does. No business leader is perfect. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. You’ll make the wrong call. When you’re transparent with your employees about what happened, they’ll be far more likely to continue to trust you and your judgement.

"A captain of a ship, no matter his rank, must follow the book."

Even if you’re the founder and CEO, you don’t want to place yourself in a separate category than everyone else at your company. Sure, it might be easier to circumvent particular processes or rules, but when you do so, everyone notices. People naturally struggle to feel connected to and loyal to leaders who play by different rules than the ones they set for everyone below them. Show your employees you’re all on the same team by following the same rules. The result will be far greater coherence within your team.

Building and successfully running a company can be a challenge for anyone. Those who enjoy the character of Captain Kirk, however, will find a considerable amount of wisdom about how to be successful in the quotes from the captain and from the actor, William Shatner. Consider some of the wisdom above and see how you can apply it to your own company. If you’re interested in improving your marketing efforts, contact us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

Monet and Picasso: There’s Room for You, Too

25 Nov

There are people who love art and can explain to you in-depth what you should know about some of the greatest artists. They can break down for you the differences in style and how the artists used different brush strokes to create the final image. These art aficionados can look at a painting and tell you the style it was painted in and the likely artist.

For the rest of us, trying to keep track of all the names and theories behind great art can feel a bit overwhelming. While all of us can appreciate the work that goes into the creation of a beautiful painting, trying to analyze the different styles can be a challenge. For outsiders looking in at the art world, it can feel as though the industry is completely saturated. There are so many different styles and forms that it can seem impossible for any new ideas to be developed. Yet somehow, each generation manages to come up with unique art ideas that resonate with different people.

The significance of Monet and Picasso

If you asked most people to list some well-known artists, most would list off famous names like Monet and Picasso. What’s interesting, though, is that these artists are immensely different from each other. They painted different subjects, lived in different countries and political situations, and their art was vastly different. The similarities might be easier to describe than the differences, with it largely boiling down to: they were both famous and talented artists.

If you have talent, the industry will make room.

Monet and Picasso approached art from different perspectives. They each expressed what they knew in different ways. Monet took a more traditional route, creating beautiful paintings that closely resembled the objects and scenes that were being depicted. Picasso, on the other hand, took liberties with shapes, colors, and designs to capture the emotion and motivations behind the scene being shown.

Both, however, demonstrated incredible talent. Regardless of a person’s individual taste, it’s impossible to overlook the abilities of each of these artists. That’s what has allowed them to rise to the top of the art world. They’re famous enough that even those who don’t spend vacations touring art museums recognize their names.

The inspiration for business professionals

Like Picasso and Monet, when you have the talent, an industry will make room for you. These artists are often regarded as leaders within their respective styles, meaning they often took untraveled paths in their quest to reach the top. Their names are remembered because of the paths they forged and the beauty they created.

If you’re talented in your industry and have the skills needed to show genuine expertise, you can also find your place within your market. No industry or market is so crowded it can’t make room for you. To reach this desired summit, you need to prepare.

  • Know what makes you different.
  • Determine how you can translate your proposition for customers.

When you take the time to set yourself apart from the rest of the industry and have the talent to back up your desires, you can succeed. If the world of famous artists is big enough to house the incredible diverse talents of Monet and Picasso, your industry can support you as well.

Integrating Social Media and Print: Leveraging the Best of Both Worlds to Your Advantage

25 Nov

It’s certainly no secret that social media is increasingly becoming one of the single most important tools to connect with your target audience in the most meaningful ways possible. After all, sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more have hundreds of millions of unique users who are actively engaged in social activities on a daily basis. It would be a shame to let such a valuable resource go to waste.

At the same time, you certainly don’t want to neglect your print campaign. It’s still one of the most effective marketing weapons in your arsenal and always will be. So how do you ensure you’re paying equal attention to both print and social media?

The answer is simple: integrate social media into your print campaign and leverage the benefits both have to offer.

Grab Attention and Refuse to Let it Go

In today’s crowded marketplace, the goal of any campaign is to grab the attention of prospective customers. You aren’t just trying to sell a product or service — you’re trying to quickly show why your product or service is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest.

Integrating social media elements into your print campaigns is one of the best ways to accomplish that. It allows you to get your message in front of more people in the places they’re most comfortable holding that conversation.

For an example of this concept in action, consider the hashtag. People use hashtags for everything from highlighting key words and phrases in a post to finding trends, joining ongoing conversations, and adding a definitive statement at the end of a sentence. By including a hashtag at the end of your print mailer, you’re giving your customers multiple options regarding how they can join the conversation and communicate with your brand. If they’d like to continue to learn more about your product or service via the hashtag, they can always do so. If not, they can continue their exposure by way of the print materials the same way they always have.

In essence, you’re giving them choices, which is one of the best ways to grab their attention and refuse to let it go.

Tracking Success

Integrating social media and print is also a great, easy way to track the success of a particular campaign over a long-term basis. Consider putting a unique hashtag on the end of each print piece you mail. If messages with that hashtag are then retweeted 200,000 times on Twitter, you know your message is being received loud and clear and that your target audience is more than willing to continue the conversation online.

Digital and print marketing don’t have to be independent of one another. Anyone who tells you it’s a "one or the other" proposition is wrong. Print and digital are both great at accomplishing their own things, or even the same things in different ways. By integrating social media and print together, you’re combining the benefits of both platforms into one environment and are truly creating a "best of both worlds" scenario.

Learning to Dream Again

25 Nov

The next time you find yourself in the company of preschool-age children, ask them what they want to be when they grow up. Children are known for dreaming big. In a class of 20 students, you might find yourself surrounded by several future astronauts, firefighters, teachers, ballerinas, doctors, and scientists. Their little minds can be inspiring for us adults.

Children dream uninhibitedly. They dream about things the rest of us find unobtainable. Too often, we think about all the obstacles in our way and allow our minds to entertain the "what ifs," rather than the "why nots." As we mature, our goals need to be more realistic for our skills and abilities, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop reaching for the stars.

We need to remember our childhood innocence when it comes to our dreams. It’s the only way we’ll ever accomplish all the things we’re truly capable of achieving.

As Gloria Steinem says, "Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."

No one ever made it to the top of their industry by limiting themselves on what they were capable of accomplishing. Instead, you need to imagine the heights your business might be able to reach if you allow yourself to really dream big.

Of course, as a professional, your dreaming must take a slightly more predictable path. You must not only have the end goal in mind, but you must also be able to determine what you need to do to reach the desired end result.

Identify what you’d like to accomplish professionally

These goals can look vastly different. If you’re a small business owner, you might have a desired income you’d like to see from your business, or perhaps you want to have enough income to open another branch in a neighboring city. If you work for a company, maybe you want to reach the c-suite or gain the experience you need to start your own company. This is where you should be inspired by the dreams of those in the under age five crowd. Allow your mind to imagine where you’d like to be in 5, 10, or 20 years.

Outline a path you need to take to accomplish this goal

Once you know where you want to go, it’s time to outline the steps needed to get there. This includes setting small and incremental goals throughout your journey. If you want to reach a new position within your company, consider what type of education and experience you’ll need to obtain along the way. If you’ve started a business, learn about better business practices to bring in new customers and encourage them to stay. For example, set:

  • goals for identifying and appealing to your ideal customer audience
  • goals for improving the business website
  • goals for improving customer experience
  • goals for using inbound marketing and new digital marketing
  • goals for integrating digital marketing with traditional marketing practices

Once you know what you need to do to reach your goals, you’ll be able to confidently set out on the path toward accomplishing them.

The path to success requires thinking outside the box and being willing to dream big. Children are excellent examples for us to think about what we might actually be capable of accomplishing if we don’t get overwhelmed by the potential obstacles. Too often we limit ourselves unnecessarily. Take a lesson from the smallest members of society and learn how to dream unfettered. If you’re interested in starting a new marketing campaign to help your business reach its goals, reach out to us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

Wearable Devices: A New Frontier in Marketing Opportunity

25 Nov

Though the Apple Watch has only been available to the public for a few short months, make no mistake: wearable technology is here to stay. Not only are these devices a bold, new way to impact the lives of consumers in terms of both productivity and monitoring their health, it also represents an incredible, new marketing opportunity that cannot be ignored.

Behavioral Data

One of the key benefits of wearable devices to consumers is the huge amount of behavioral data that they’re designed to collect – even more so than a traditional smart phone. Location data has been a huge emphasis of devices like the Apple Watch, for example, as this information is typically leveraged to help people keep track of the number of steps that they’re taking in a day, the number of calories that they’re burning, and more.

On the marketing side of the equation, this means that you can now use a customer’s location to your benefit in ways that weren’t possible just a few, short years ago. You could literally send a message to customers automatically when they enter a certain radius of your physical business, for example. Automatically sending a coupon whenever someone gets within three blocks of your store is a great way to entice them to come inside and look around, even if they weren’t necessarily planning to do so.

Unfettered Access

Another one of the major benefits of wearable devices from the consumer side of things is that people now have a device that they essentially have instant access to at all times. They no longer have to take their cell phone out of their pocket or purse to check their e-mail, read a new text message, or more – they can have instant access to that content just by simply raising their wrist.

From a marketing perspective, this means that your audience will also no longer need to take their cell phone out of their pocket in order to see your marketing materials. As a result, the content that you’re putting out into the world becomes that much harder to ignore – for better or for worse.

If a consumer both knows they’ve just received a marketing message from your brand, and is then reading it in seconds, the benefit of this is that you’re now connecting with that individual in a way that is more direct than ever before.

The potential downside is that because these types of e-mails are no longer as easy to ignore as they once were, it could become easy for a consumer to feel jaded about the whole process. If you send too many messages and a customer begins to feel overwhelmed by the amount of contact that you’re trying to make, you’re suddenly that much closer to losing a potential lead who feels you’re being too direct. A certain degree of caution will need to be practiced and restraint will need to be emphasized for the best possible results.

As is true with any new type of technology, using wearables for the purpose of marketing is something that will certainly require a degree of trial and error moving forward. Even though these devices are essentially designed to collect as much information about a consumer as possible, privacy concerns regarding how and where that information is used will still need to be addressed moving forward. If you’re able to properly use that data in a comfortable, engaging and organic way, however, you’ll find a new avenue through which to connect to your target market unlike one that you’ve ever had before.

The Return of the 90’s Sitcom

25 Nov

For anyone who grew up watching the popular 90’s sitcoms, the past few years have been particularly exciting. It seems as though now is a popular time for studios and actors to bring back some of the shows in the form of spin-offs.

Take "Boy Meets World." This popular show followed the young Cory Matthews from school through college and all the fun times and drama that came with friendships, school, and finding love. The show is now being revived into the form of "Girl Meets World," which features Cory and his childhood sweetheart, Topanga, now raising their own family.

Similarly, the show "Full House" told the story of a single dad trying to raise his three daughters with the help of his best friend and brother-in-law. This show now follows the next generation with a spin-off that is being called, "Fuller House."

These newer shows are providing many people with the chance to relive their childhoods and share their favorite characters with their own children. While you sit back to enjoy the latest episodes, however, you might find that they have a few things to teach us all about our latest marketing campaigns.

The Power of Relationships

The strength of both shows was in the powerful relationships that dominated the series. In "Boy Meets World," the friendship of Cory and his friend, Shawn, as well as his relationship with his future wife, Topanga, was something that drew many people to the show. People were able to relate to the struggles of Cory as he worked to navigate these different relationships, and loved being able to see how everyone was there for him.

In "Full House," the relationships between the three sisters and their friends and family were the driving part of the show. The girls had to learn how their own relationships were going to mature. The entire family had to be a major source of support for each other as they all struggled to find their way with the loss of the girls’ mother to a car accident before the show began. Single parents, families with multiple siblings, and extended families who all lived under the same roof could understand many of their relational experiences.

In marketing, relationships are also your driving source behind your success. You want to build relationships with everyone you meet and your customers need to know that you are there for them and can help them solve their problems.

You also want to build a strong network of relationships with other professionals. It can be a great, professional asset to have others in your industry with whom you can discuss ideas. Networks can provide you with the opportunities to build relationships with other people who can pass work along to you according to your strengths when the opportunity arises.

Finding Your Place

Both sitcoms largely revolved around the characters’ coming of age. They matured from young children into adults with their own paths. The shows followed them as they found their place and role among their social groups and wider society.

You will need to find your place within your own industry, as well. You need to accurately identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Learn how to market to your niche based upon those strengths, and demonstrate why you can solve the pain points of your customers.

Enjoying spin-offs of your favorite 90’s sitcoms can be a fun pastime, but it can also provide you with some valuable lessons about how to succeed in your own marketing endeavors. If you are interested in beginning a new marketing campaign, let us know. We would be happy to help you get started.

How to Create a Successful Marketing Event for Your Business

24 Nov

If you truly want to draw attention to your business and potentially attract a whole new variety of customers, there are few better ways to accomplish this than with a great marketing event. Regardless of the type of industry that you’re in, a marketing event is a great way to get a hold of some people who wouldn’t normally have your business on their radar. To accomplish this, however, you need to keep a few key things in mind.

Go Beyond the Sale

One of the most important things to remember about a successful marketing event is that you need to give people an experience that is truly worth leaving their homes for. Getting a person to open up your direct mail material is one thing – after all, you’ve sent it directly to them and they don’t even have to get in the car in order to open it. Getting them to come to your physical location, possibly for the first time, is something else entirely.

Consider a marketing event that a bookstore might have. Instead of just holding a blowout sale (as a customer can typically find similar prices online if they look hard enough), a bookstore might hold a signing with a famous author. Suddenly, you’ve given those people a reason to actually come into the store, especially if the author isn’t one who makes local appearances very often.

Once all of these people are in your store, then you can hit them with sales and other promotions in an attempt to increase revenue. Simply offering discounted prices should never be the most enticing thing about the event that you’re throwing, as most people won’t find it a good enough reason to attend in the first place.

Set a Goal

Another one of the biggest things to remember when creating a successful marketing event is what it is that you’re trying to accomplish in the first place. Are you looking for a way to increase existing customer satisfaction and give back by way of a memorable experience? Or are you looking for a way to reach an entirely new market? The goal that you set at the outset will dictate every choice that you make thereafter.

Give Yourself a Way to Capture Contact Information

As with all marketing techniques, one of the major goals of a marketing event is to capture leads. After all, even if you’re just looking for a fun and exciting way to give back to your existing customer base, the chances are high that one or two of them might bring some friends along with them.

To truly take advantage of a marketing event, make sure that you’re giving yourself a built-in opportunity to capture contact information in the most efficient way possible. Even if it’s something as simple as giving people a chance to win fun door prizes if they fill out a contact information survey, you’ll need something to use when the event is over to keep in touch with all of the new people that you’ve attracted.

These are just a few of the tips that you can use to create a memorable and successful marketing event for your business that people won’t want to miss. If you continue to hold these events on a regular basis, you will have a great chance of reaching people who you may not have otherwise been able to get to without them.

Finding the Recipe for Successful Marketing

24 Nov

Sara was excited. Her grandmother had just given her the recipe for her famous peanut butter cookies, and she could not wait to make them for her friends at school. She had never been much of a cook, but she figured that with the recipe she should be ok. After all, how hard could it be?

Sara enters the kitchen and begins to gather her ingredients. She notices that the recipe says she needs two bowls, but when she looks in the cabinet and sees that she only has one, she figures that should be ok. She then sees that she needs some baking soda, but only has baking powder– that should be close enough.

Sara begins to get everything into the bowls. The recipe calls for her to mix the sugar with some softened butter, so she sticks the butter in the microwave. Thirty seconds later, the the butter is just a puddle. Well, that will make it even easier to mix it into the recipe, right?

Twenty minutes later, she sticks everything into the oven and triumphantly sets the timer. When she returns after the ding, she pulls them out eagerly and then stops. Wait a minute, these do not look right. They did not rise properly and just look ‘off’. Confused, Sara thought back to her cooking. Did those little details about the butter and baking soda really matter that much? She supposed so. She decided to try again the next day. Tonight, she would pick up some more butter and some baking soda.

Developing Your Marketing Recipe

If you have ever made cookies, you most likely noted Sara’s mistakes right away. You knew that those cookies would not turn out right. Recipes use very specific ingredients because they have particular roles. If you do not use the right ingredients then the food will not act the way it is supposed to.

When you are creating a marketing campaign, you will similarly need to follow a recipe. The difference is that you will need to develop the recipe yourself. You know that you need a variety of different ingredients, such as direct mail, social media, online content, and paid advertising. You then need to mix these different techniques together to engage your intended audience and create the perfect recipe.

Often, determining the exact recipe of success will require some experimenting. You will need to explore where your customers spend their time online and what types of information they are seeking. What types of designs and offers do they respond to best in direct mail? What social media platforms are the most important to them?

Unlike with baking cookies, when you mess up a marketing recipe, it will often not be as obvious that there was an error. If most of your marketing campaign has a decent amount of success, you might not notice right away that your paid advertising campaign was not bringing in customers unless you closely monitor your different channels. If you do not identify the problem, however, you risk needlessly spending money.

To be successful in marketing, you are going to combine several different techniques into a unique recipe that helps to get your message in front of the right people at the right time. To ‘taste’ the recipe, however, you need to make sure that you regularly use analytics to gauge how well the campaign works together. You can use this data to refine your efforts and become even more successful.

Creating a successful marketing campaign does require careful thought and the precise combination of different parts. If you are interested in starting a new campaign, contact us today to get started.

Building Anticipation for a New Product or Service Through Marketing

24 Nov

Marketing materials that you put out into the world aren’t just a great way to introduce a new product or service to your target audience. If done properly, they can also be an invaluable way to create a huge amount of buzz and anticipation surrounding an upcoming product or service launch. That can then translate into increased sales when it is eventually ready for release. By keeping just a few, key things in mind, you can use hype to your advantage and build the type of momentum that most businesses can only dream of.

Master the Art of the Tease

One of the major lessons to be learned about building anticipation for a new product or service through marketing is to master the concept of teasing. If you were still a year out from the launch of a new product, for example, you wouldn’t necessarily want to send out a mailer detailing all of that product’s functions right away. Not only do you not want to "give the game away" just yet, so to speak, but a year is an incredibly long time in the world of business. Things can change, so you don’t want to lock yourself into something that you may end up dropping down the road anyway.

Instead, you can send out a mailer talking about the exciting new product that is on the horizon and detail all of the hard work that you’re putting into it. Instead of talking about what it specifically does, talk about the problem in your customers’ lives that it is designed to solve. Talk about the overarching goal of the product in a way that both gets people excited and makes them want to learn more.

It’s About Steady Updates

Another major technique to make use of when building anticipation is to check in periodically with your customers prior to launch. You wouldn’t want to send out a mailer teasing your product and then not check in again until it’s ready to launch. You would want to send out materials two, three, or even four times during the year, revealing larger bits of information each time. Not only does this give you a chance to build the hype surrounding your product or service a little more each time, but it also helps to keep it in the forefront of a customer’s mind – even though it isn’t released yet. Not only will your customers have a higher level of anticipation, but they also won’t have a chance to forget about what you’re up to.

Learn From Hollywood

If you want to take a master class in building anticipation through marketing, look no farther than movie trailers. Every Hollywood blockbuster usually follows the same format when it comes to their previews. First, roughly a year from release, a teaser trailer makes its appearance. This preview is usually around a minute in length, gives away virtually none of the plot and really just broadcasts the look or spirit of the movie. Six or so months later a longer, full trailer is released, which is usually about two minutes. This expands on the promise of the teaser, gives a way a bit more of the plot, but still leaves a lot to the imagination. A final trailer is released in the weeks before the movie itself, which is usually around three minutes and not only lets you know exactly what the plot will be, but also showcases amazing images that you immediately need to see more of. Building anticipation is all about escalation and Hollywood seems to have created a formula that works wonders, regardless of the type of business that you’re in.

Marketing is one of the best tools that you have to not only announce a new product or service to the world, but to build the type of anticipation that always translates to increased sales.