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Friday, 28 June 2013

How to grab attention and make your audience care

We are the audience. Our mantra is “make us care and do it quickly”. I'd say this Central American boutique has nailed it.

Assuming your customers/legal departments have more of an issue with privacy than those showcased, how can you cut through the noise?

Create content that works for your audience.

1. Make a story worth sharing.
This might mean being controversial, going that extra mile or simply finding a new way to be remarkable (think Seth Godin's purple cow).  Worth sharing should also be teamed with easy to share.  In this wonderful world of social media, you have no excuses - include the icons, wherever and whenever you communicate with your audience.

2. Address the audience your audience already look to for advice.
Influencing the influencers is a sure fire way to get attention.  If you're not sure who the influencers are, search the blogs, google keywords and see who's mentioned most.

3. Be where your audience are.
This means not changing their behaviour, but helping them to find you in the places they already go and from the people they already relate to.  Your content should be so in tune with your market, that it appears wherever they are.

4. Is consistent.
Your style, your voice, your personality needs to be recognizable, so even if the brand logo is covered over, it's unmistakable to your audience.  Erika Napoletano is a great example of this.

5. Remember, above all, you're trying to reach fellow humans.
For each piece of content you produce, ask yourself ‘so what?’ Is this message worth interrupting someones day for?  Would I read this and if I did, how would it make me feel? If more companies asked these questions before posting, (virtually or physically) my recycle bins would be easier to close.

We care about brands and content that reaches us on an emotional level. Brands that connect, create loyal fans and make money.  Those who don't, don't.

Friday, 21 June 2013

How to tell your SEO from your PPC?

Today I've decided to decipher some marketing speak, with a simple comparison table.  

For those who don't know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation or how visible your website is to the rest of the world.  Since the holy grail for companies is to appear on the first page of any Google search (and ideally in the top 5 results on that page), SEO is a term that keeps marketers awake at night.

PPC, Pay Per Click is a way of directing traffic to your website, by letting you, the frenzied marketer, buy your way onto that elusive Google search front page.

Ideally you want to use both tools to complement your outreach, but understanding the basics is always a good start.


Organic search
Paid search

Keywords are embedded into your web content.  The search engine brings back results based on visitors search query. Fingers crossed they type your keywords
Visitors search query triggers an advert associated with a designated keyword, paid for by each company

Long term tool.  Keyword rich content must gradually climb the search charts.  This can take weeks or months to achieve
Faster for drawing customer attention.  Good short-term tool.  Ideally for those in the market to buy right now and for informing potential new customers

Uses location specific keywords but tends to be less attuned to geographic location especially when the searcher hasn't specified a geographic term in the search
Uses location specific keywords.  More effective at targetting local areas because you can designate where your advert  appears in certain geographic locations

Keywords must be used in the test or HTML headers of the page, which makes writing for search and readers challenging.  Overuse of keywords can actually make a site or page, drop in search engine rankings
You can designate multiple keywords in your PPC adverts without having to actually include them in the text of the advert

If your content isn't displayed on the first page of results, users may never see it
Adverts are positioned prominently at the top or right hand side of search results

Achieves highest potential when used to build brand recognition over a long period
Not every click is a conversion.  You pay for the click but they may bounce from your landing page or ignore the CTA

You might be outbid by a company with larger finances pushing your advert lower down the page or onto the next one

Make sure you have a landing page that matches your advert, showing they are exactly in the right place, with a clear call to action tested on different browsers

My best advice to SMEs is to get some professional help with this area. Customers need to know you're out there before the sales can start rolling in and many a great company has been lost in the noise of the internet because no-one could find them.

Friday, 14 June 2013

A Quick Way To Establish Your Brand And Its Values

Branding is generally associated with external audiences e.g. customers, prospects, partners, investors and press. Everything your company does, communicates your brand to the waiting world. From website to letterhead, receptionist to location, it all helps potential customers to decide how to respond to your outreach.

Branding is just as important for your internal audience (existing and future staff), but more often than not, when I speak to a new client, there's a lack of agreement between employees, around who their company is and what it does for its customers.

If you find yourself struggling to reach consensus across your organisation, answering the following questions can really help.
  1. What words would you use to describe [insert company name] today?
  2. What words would you like to be using to describe [insert company name] 5 years from now?
  3. Who or what do you regard as your main competitors?
  4. Which words would you use to describe the competitors mentioned in question 3?
  5. Why do/would customers choose [insert company name] over the alternatives available?
  6. Which one attribute would you want [insert company name] to be known for?
  7. In your own words, what does [insert company name] do?
There are no right or wrong answers in this exercise.  Think of it as structured brain storming.  Ideally you should gather as many responses as possible - you can keep it to employees only or invite customer and distributor input too.  Look for patterns in the replies that you collect.  What sort of language is being used - descriptive, market jargon, active or passive voice?  Where are the gaps i.e. which questions did respondents struggle with most?

As a rough rule of thumb, your brand values, are the words which you'd use to describe yourself now and in the future, (the overlap in answers between questions 1 and 2). They are the essence of what your company stands for and should help potential customers to form expectations of service, quality, credibility etc.

Questions 3 and 4 help you define the market that you're in and let you compare the alternatives, just as your potential customers will, when making a purchase decision.  Make sure to include the internet and apathy alongside your named competitors, because todays endless choices often result in people making no decision at all.

Question 5 is designed to make you think about the benefits your product/service supplies, in the minds of your potential customers. Often companies present benefits in terms of product features rather than the actual value that customers gain from buying or using your product.  Think about how your product makes people feel, as well as what they actually get.  Knowing why people choose your brand makes messaging and content creation much easier.

Question 6 cuts to the core value.  What do you stand for?  If you say Volvo, people think of safety, and this trait has been stated in every marketing message that they produce, to convince us of its truth.  Brands need to  have a purpose.  None of us want to buy from faceless corporations.  What's at the heart of your organisation?

Question 7 tests whether you have a value proposition or not.  It's amazing how even people in the same department will paint a very different picture of their brand, when asked what their company does.  This is hardly surprising since we tend to define a company by our role in it, however, building your brand is about clearly and consistently sharing what you stand for, to position your offering in the hearts and minds of potential customers. If it seems like I've now looped back to the first paragraph in this post, then you can see how this all fits together.

In this age of social sharing, understanding your brand and its values, let's you define and reach your audience in ever more granularity.  Knowing who you appeal to and why, gives you the best chance of return on your marketing budget and there's no longer any excuse to mass market and hope something sticks.   As the saying goes, if you aim at nothing, you're bound to hit it.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Customer Choice - Getting them to choose you

Marketing human to human image

Every decision we make is based on personal knowledge. What we know and what we believe (real or imagined), drives our choice, supports our decision-making and carves out our loyalty to brands. The most obvious example being Mac versus PC users, but this also holds true in choosing your sandwich filling. We all think we’re right.

As a marketer, my job is largely about persuading people to make their choice in favour of the company or product I’m representing at the time, but typically, little energy is allocated to working out prospect preferences, before battering them with thinly disguised sales messages, (aka content).

What can you do to help customers choose you?

1. Listen

What is their world-view? Google keywords to see what they’ll see, follow existing market influencers on twitter, scan blogs (especially the comments sections), to see what people really think about your brand or your market and the terminology they use. We have two ears and one mouth, so perhaps we should listen twice as much as we speak.

2. Consider that your prospect doesn’t believe your marketing because their experience of ‘you’ doesn’t match your hype

What if your prospect knows something about your brand that you didn’t tell them? Of course we all do, thanks to the wonder of social media and our always-on culture, so what are others saying/doing/using your product for, that might be shaping the perception of your prospects and what are you going to do about it?

3. Direct your marketing budget to tactics that will help your prospects know what you know

None of us want to be told we’re wrong, yet increasingly, marketing is aimed at questioning our judgement in a bid to woo us from the competition. Think about how you can address the ‘why change?’ question in your messaging, rather than expecting prospects to make a leap of faith. We’re often wedded to brands out of laziness/familiarity and we fear change and the uncertainty that that brings. Armed with such knowledge, your marketing needs to encourage and reassure, making the status-quo a pain far larger than any worries we might have about trying something new.

As Sam Walton, founder of Walmart once said,“There is only one boss - the customer. He can fire everybody in the company from the chairman down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”