November 04, 2013
Once a client has established distinctive, consistent branding, and their marketing goals are defined, advertising is often the next question up. Even those with the most generous advertising budgets have to deal with a common challenge: finite budgets from which you need to squeeze max revenues.
We’re firm believers that the best way to increase your effectiveness is by multi-channel advertising, because we’ve seen time and time again that it works. Businesses with a strong referral flow still enjoy steadier growth when they have an effective, consistent campaign in place; out of sight, out of mind is more than just a truism—so if you’re in the retail business, remember you’re also in the advertising business!
A well-designed multi channel campaign:
• reaches your audience with increased frequency,
• engages with them in different ways—e.g., mobile, web, print
• provides them with various channels for responding, and
• often wraps up with a common—and memorable—call to action.
SRI Shoe Warehouse, a long-time client, uses multi-channel ad campaigns—very effectively—about twice a year, to align with their spring/fall sales cycle. A recent campaign designed to reach three markets ran for four weeks on nine websites, plus radio, newspaper, email and a targeted direct mail campaign. All advertising drove to landing pages and was linked to their social media efforts, in addition to being an awareness builder. The trackability of today’s online marketing campaign elements like banner ads, emails and mobile, helps us hone in on the most responsive audiences and select future media buys–making each campaign smarter than the next.
And don’t forget the value of list building as a campaign goal. By adding a contest to a recent campaign, SRI generated over 2500 new email addresses to their already sizable list — all of whom are predisposed to listen to and welcome news about fresh shipments of new seasons’ styles as well as special offers that can help drive revenue during sluggish periods. If they’re not in your database, you’ll pay far more to try to reach them!
This is one example of an aggressive Multi-channel ad campaign in a highly competitive arena. But not all campaigns need to be so expansive, or so aggressive right out of the gate. Start with smaller tests, or more finite geography. Be scientific. Track sources. And most importantly, be consistent. Consistency is a critical! Once you start to build momentum, you’ll be able to get a rhythm going for when to employ higher and lower frequency, just don’t pull out altogether… or you’ll quickly find yourself out of mind once again!
October 20, 2013
Entrepreneur.com reached out several months ago to learn more about how The Marketing Machine’s innovative hybrid structure helped the agency be more profitable—and respond better to clients’ needs.
We were stoked to see the resulting article that appeared in the “Run & Grow” category, especially because “Run” and “Grow” are what we and most of our clients are focused on!
The article does a great job of summarizing the before-during-after highlights; what didn’t get as much play was the way the hybrid structure helps us be more responsive and creative in our client deliverables. Combining a central core of “staff” with a team of talented, pre-vetted freelancers means we can:
- hand-pick the right staffers for strategy, project management, creative and studio work to meet the demands of each client and project;
- keep client fees competitively low by limiting overhead costs and minimizing downtime;
- staff up quickly so we can handle more jobs at the same time, allowing us to better meet the fluctuating demands of new clients and/or seasonal campaigns, without reducing our responsiveness to ongoing client needs.
So, thank you to all our clients, who’ve helped us get to where we are today, and thank you Entrepreneur.com for highlighting our business model. Read the article.
September 04, 2013
Rebranding can be an excellent strategy to help update your business’ image, help you stand out in a crowded market and/or capture the attention (and ideally, wallet share) of a new crop of buyers…but it’s not the only the strategy that can do the job.
But beware—if you’ve been in business for many years, you’re clearly known for something; you don’t want to lose hard-earned equity in your brand unless the upside you’re expecting to gain with the new brand is a reasonably sure bet. If there’s any type of disconnect between your branding and your business however—be it in style, vision, customers, or offerings—it’s probably time to rebrand.
Depending on your situation, here are a few options ranging from most-to-least drastic:
Rebrand your company when it has changed its products, services, market or mission.
Duke Energy’s new logo after its merger with Progress Energy, complete with a strategy for incorporating the subsidiary name within the design, is one example. Another, more radical, rebranding example is the 25-year old, North Carolina commercial furniture supplier Macthrift Office Furniture. Now under new ownership, the company recently launched a new approach with far greater emphasis on consultative service as well as style; all-new branding has helped make it clear that the new firm, delve interiors, has equal or better quality and design, but a new mission and method.
If there’s nothing wrong with the current company or brand but you’ve identified new needs to fill that don’t fit tightly within your existing portfolio, you might consider a brand extension.
The women’s apparel chain Ann Taylor did this when it introduced LOFT several decades ago, to meet their executive-oriented customers’ needs for weekend and casual-Friday dressing. There’s an underlying consistency between the two, yet it remains easy to know which brand to turn to when you’re shopping; their website says it best: “Two distinct experiences united by a vision to make every woman look, feel and be her best.” Another example is local logistics and fulfillment firm Guardian that decided to form two separate, yet still related entities, Logistics and Guardian Fulfillment.
Consider a Brand Refresh when you’ve determined that while your company’s products, services and mission serve your audience just fine, the look and feel of your logo, overall brand graphics and/or design aesthetic are a mismatch with your company’s current personality, style, size or customer segment.
Among the big kahunas, KFC and Walmart come to mind. Locally, well-known patent law firm Myers-Bigel decided that their branding had not kept pace with the sophistication of the firm’s staff and expertise, so updated their look accordingly. Scottie’s Building Services in Apex is refreshing their branding to better reflect their balance of experience and innovation, as well as exhibit a little friendly warmth along with their professionalism. This company also chose to tweak their name slightly, making it consistent with how their customers referred to them—another good reason to refresh your brand.
Implement a new brand awareness campaign when you want your audience to take note of benefits and/or brand attributes that they’ll connect with, and that set you apart from the competition. This is also the right strategy when you need to re-establish relevance with the next generation—tricky, but not impossible. Look at Coca-Cola and Ford as two good examples.
As mentioned earlier, if your company has been in business a while, you’re clearly known for something; what is it? Quality products? Responsive service? Being an innovator? Or something aside from the core deliverables like your charitable works, a charismatic leader, or championing industry improvement? Any of these and many more could be your success lever if it builds a bridge to your customers’ needs and wants.
Standing out in your market is the first step to growing audience share. Look at your company; does your branding reflect what it really is? What you aspire to? If you don’t come up with a resounding “yes,” then it’s time to dig deep and develop a brand with the power to command your market!
August 16, 2013
Behind the screen at new delve interiors headquarters, president/owner Ed Boiar is being interviewed and discusses the rebranding process, and working with The Marketing Machine.
August 05, 2013
It’s no surprise that I spent a good amount of time over the past 15 years or more thinking about principles of branding, about how we go from knowing nothing about a product or a company to loving it (or hating it). So I thought I’d share some of my weekend thought explorations with you. “Familiarity” is the first in the series; hopefully you’ll pick up some ideas that can help you strengthen your brand.
Familiarity is among the strongest facets you can build. But why is that? Why do we do things, look for things, that are familiar? One reason, I believe, is that people like to know what to expect… they like to be comfortable… they like peace of mind. (And, of course, sometimes we’re just lazy.)
Don’t be passive about this stuff though. Like I said in the video, start paying attention to how you make your choices, how you streamline your day. How could you help people feel that your brand is the most familiar? What would happen to your company if that were true?
If you want to brainstorm a bit on this, just give us a call. It’s what we love to do.
July 17, 2013
As a graphic designer, I find myself cringing daily at an ad, a logo or even a website that has broken one of the many rules of design. The basis of this is usually just plain ole bad design, but the underlying problem is how the client/company ended up with that product and thought it was ok to run with it. A few years ago, we sent out one of my favorite emails: “The 7 deadly sins of marketing.” Once you’ve had a good chuckle or even a “doh, that’s what we did” reaction, I want to talk about how this can all be avoided with some good graphic design.
Let’s dissect a couple of these:
#1- $99 Logo: In essence a cheap and cheerful route, but you get what you pay for. It might look nice, but will it last and does it present your brand in the best possible way for what your company does and who their target audience is? The $99 route doesn’t give you all the valuable behind-the-scenes research/analysis. Professional graphic design is not just a pretty picture; it’s a well-thought-out concept based on good design practices in conjunction with brand and company research.
#3-Free Online Printing: Your company’s business cards say so much more than you might think. A good designer not only makes the cards visually pleasing (organizing the information logically and effectively, choosing just the right colors and fonts), but also decides how it should be printed. You might think that getting a cheaply printed card is a savings, but in fact, poorly printed marketing pieces have the recipient focusing on the wrong thing. The proper paper for both budget and impact, printed and cut correctly, will allow your audience to focus on the information on the card AND maybe even keep the card in their purse or on their desk longer because “it’s just so cool!”
And finally, my favorite, #7-Trendy Fonts: A professional graphic designer has an arsenal of fonts (not just the ones that came with their computer)…and knows how to use them! There’s nothing technically wrong with Brush Script or Papyrus, except that they’re overused and abused. Using the appropriate fonts for each project is one of the most important parts of a good design. The rule of thumb is that no one piece should have more than three distinct fonts. The idea being that there should be a legible body copy font and a headline and/or accent font. No more than that is needed when something is well-designed. Altering the size, weight and distribution of fonts within a piece creates the necessary hierarchy of what is important and what is less so. Using a trendy font for an entire marketing piece is overkill, and just because that font looked great on something you saw doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for what you’re doing for your own design purposes. Trendy fonts, if used, should be used sparingly to add a touch of personality.
In conclusion, if you have committed any of these deadly sins, please stop. This affliction, sometimes referred to as “marketus defectus”, can be hazardous to the health of your organization. Call The Marketing Machine for immediate assistance.
July 03, 2013
Even in our internet-centered world, trade print advertising still has value for B2B marketing directors—how much depends on the industry, your ad’s effectiveness and how well you leverage the message across other channels. Since print isn’t cheap, consider these best practices to help you make the most of it (hint: they’re likely to boost results across all your channels, too):
1. Keep your messaging simple, focused and distinctive. One of the biggest problems we see in B2B marketing is message stuffing—that’s when your ad starts reading a lot like a script for a certain cutlery infomercial…instead:
- Choose the single customer problem or pain point that you know (or believe) will attract leads that, if converted, you’ll have the best chance of turning into repeat customers.
-If you have more than one key pain point, dedicate one ad per point; the more you try to stuff your ad with solutions, the fewer your readers will remember.
- Show how you can fix it, using descriptive benefit language and/or graphics like the headline in the ad above.
- Spring for good-quality design. Pros know how to guide your reader’s eye through your message, create visual “pauses” so readers can reflect on key points and create a look that reinforces your branding and differentiates you from your competitors.
-An effective, professional ad can be run repeatedly, so when you amortize the design cost, there’s a minimal addition to your media budget—one that pays off big.
- Design and write your ad in a way that wouldn’t work for any of your competitors, and that will make your customer feel happy and ready to trust you as far as the next step in your process. Even in the entertainment center industry, this tongue-in-cheek character stands out, yet the heavy emphasis on readers’ pain points keeps their needs front and center.
- Then make it easy for people to take that next step with a strong call-to-action: Download info at… Call today… View our video.
2. Emphasize repetition across media, not just within one channel.
Make those visual and copy messaging themes and elements you invested in work even harder: Use them in all your key channels (varying them to fit the context of the medium, of course).
Social networking, broadcast, banner ads, videos, trade shows, email, DM, signage… wherever your audience is reading, watching and searching, repeat and build on your story. That’s the best way to ensure you’re top of mind when your prospect is feeling the heat of that key pain point you’re highlighting.
3. Encourage engagement, sharing and feedback.
Nurture people’s desire to be “in the know.” Increasingly, people are using social media to position themselves as knowledgeable experts to future employers and clients by being information-sharers—preferably of information that benefits others and shows they’ve got valuable scoop, too. So if they see you or your solution as share-worthy, passing it along to peers can add to their influencer cred.
Why not make it easier for them to make you both look good? Create messages that are memorable and/or informational (not just sales-y), and incorporate them into easy-to-share media whenever you can. Drive traffic to landing pages, video, social sites and posts that are ripe and juicy for sharing (just don’t forget to make the most of their interest by using best practices in lead capture too, of course… but that’s for another post)!
Use these best practices to put your best foot forward and your trade print ads will work hard to intrigue prospects and generate fresh leads for your sales force.
June 18, 2013
So, where was I? Oh yes, logos and the incredibly important role they play in how the world sees the companies they represent.
The first step is asking for help. Thankfully The Marketing Machine is ready and able to help you launch your logo development project. Following is a brief description of the approach we take to helping you arrive at the logo that best portrays the essence of your brand.
1) Discovery – We’ll ask you to fill out a questionnaire that’s intended to reveal many of the fundamental characteristics of your company. After reviewing the completed questionnaire, we’ll interview you about everything from your brand’s personality to your market, competition, target audience and products/services.
2) Development & Strategy – From the information gleaned during the Discovery phase, we’ll create a creative brief that we’ll review with you before creative development begins. This step is essential in ensuring that we’ve plotted a clear, accurate path.
3) Creative Concepting & Logo Design – Using the creative brief as a map, our creative team begins researching, brainstorming and gathering inspiration that will ultimately lead them to a few worthy concepts that we feel represent your brand.
4) Finalizing Logo Design – We’ll meet with you to unveil and explain the rationale for each concept. We expect you to take 2-3 days to consider the options, and once we have your feedback, we’ll incorporate any tweaks and send back for your approval.
5) Once we’ve arrived at an approved logo, you’ll receive a logo CD as well as access to your logo files via our website library.
Ultimately, our strategy for creating successful logos is tried and true, so if you find yourself in need of a new or fresh logo, just remember the first step…
Once you have a logo, you’ll probably need to decide what to do with it. Have no fear…we’re here to assist in establishing an overall look-and-feel for any identity & marketing materials you may require. View our check list!
June 13, 2013
We’ve all heard a lot about content marketing over the past few years — that is, producing and sharing relevant informational content as a means of staying in front of, and ideally engaging with, prospects/customers. It costs money, takes time, and in the face of an ever-rising flood of internet pages, it can sometimes feel like you’re a kid spitting in the Atlantic.
Maybe that’s why many business leaders still question why anyone would choose to put more than a token investment into this “passive” approach vs. straight-up selling.
But here’s the thing: People are always on the lookout for answers to their problems, for good ideas that can make work and life better, for people and companies they want to do business with. They search online, they search in the store, they ask people they know. Thanks to good marketing, referrals and convenient “shares” online, they even find brilliant ideas they weren’t looking for at all.
All of this falls under the broad term “content marketing.” We believe content marketing — with the proper strategy and monitoring — is a necessary piece of the marketing mix. So after reading a recent helpful article by Joe Polizzi (we don’t know him, only his work, BTW), called “Measuring the impact of your content marketing strategy: the pyramid approach,” we thought we’d pass it along. He presents a very easy-to-follow method of using available data to directly guide and measure efforts to achieve a very specific goal (in his example, it’s “increase leads 10% with no increased cost” — nice!).
Apart from the strategy itself, these two phrases are worth keeping in mind:
- “A year from now, what’s different?”
- “Content is a promise to your customers–make sure you don’t break it!”
Wherever your business, products or services cross paths with prospects and customers, at some level, you’re marketing. You need an organized system for keeping track of what you’re doing, as well as what’s working, so you can drop anything that’s a waste of time and money and double down on what’s pulling. This tiered approach is one tool that may help; if you’ve got another one you’d like to share, we’d all love to know about it!
June 05, 2013
Everyone likes logos…they’re graphic and interesting, and very, very personal. So why do we like them so much? And what does it take to make one great?
A great logo is simple, clean, memorable, distinctive and appealing to its target audience. A common mistake in amateur logo design is attempting to have a logo accomplish too much, graphically or verbally. When it comes to logo design (as in every aspect of design), less is more. In other words, once you’ve arrived at a logo that successfully communicates your brand personality and message, stop.
Consider the following brands: Nike, Apple, Audi, Mercedes, the Olympic Games and VW. (You’re probably picturing their icons right now!) They don’t need words because their icons are immediately recognizable. And then there are Google, Disney, Exxon, HBO, Ford, Intel and FedEx – all just as powerful without the need for icons.
Logos don’t always start out successfully. Some of these companies have evolved their branding over the years to stay current or to appeal to a changing audience. See examples of branding evolution here. For instance, Apple started with a cluttered mess of a logo, but over time they rebranded, eventually arriving at their current, incredibly recognizable and successful “apple”.
Then there are the start-up companies that tend to rush the process and often settle for something mediocre (or worse)…maybe they had a tight budget and tried to design something themselves, or perhaps they didn’t really take the time to think about their brand personality and target audience.
Or maybe they simply needed the right marketing partner to help guide them through the process.
We urge every business, whether you’re considering a rebrand or need a spanking new logo, to consider your logo development as a critical investment in your future success. Your logo will set the tone for the entire branding campaign, as well as how your customers will perceive you. This is the time for some soul-searching…what’s the company’s personality? How does it stand apart in the market? An experienced marketing agency can assist you in answering these questions and help with extensive research on your company’s target audience and competition.
Check back soon for “Logos Rock! – Part II” to see how The Marketing Machine can help with your logo development process.