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Friday, 30 October 2015

5 Ways to Make your Customers Care, Share and Buy

Once upon a time .....

This line either brings your shoulders down from your ears as you prepare for the story, or makes your hackles rise, as you mentally urge the teller to skip to the end.  Either way, you want to know what comes next.

Storytelling is as old as mankind itself and yet a seemingly dying art, in our rush to adopt all things digital.

Smart marketers know that customers who are emotionally connected to brands, provide valuable feedback to the business, tell their friends and spend more money, than those who are not.  It therefore makes sense, to craft your marketing outreach, so that you take customers on a journey - building knowledge of your brand, not through facts, but through inspirational, educational or entertaining stories.

Done well, your brand marketing can take an audience from apathy to empathy.  Don't believe me? Watch this clever Chrysler video, aired during the Super Bowl (for maximum audience and impact).

Let's look at how this works, so that you can apply these elements to your own brand building content.

1. Context - orientate your customer

The opening 30 seconds set the scene, so that even those who've never visited Detroit can have their assumptions about the place confirmed. There's a full 20 seconds of reinforcing the stereotype before a fleeting glimpse of a cars rear view mirror, (the first hint of what this commercial is really about). What could you do to build trust, before you start selling your product?

The rugged, care worn voiceover man, reinforces the imagery and immediately asks for engagement “What does this city know about luxury?”  You're already waiting to hear more, even though you're not sure what this ad is about yet.  Anticipation is increasing.  Remember that marketing will have most impact when your customers are waiting to receive it.

2. Show and tell

By 40 seconds we've seen the product (Chrysler badge on the front of the car), but it's fleeting, almost subliminal, and surrounded by pictures which evoke the spirit of hard work and determination.  Could these be Chrysler's brand values?  Showcasing what your brand stands for, in pictures rather than words, has never been easier.

There's an American flag to make sure everyone feels included, the soundtrack builds with a baseline guitar.  Detroit, (the hero), is shown to be strong and full of resolve, having survived the recent economic blows (the villain).  The audience is drawn in, relating to the cities hardships from their own experiences. Voiceover man reinforces this “That's who we are. That's our story ....”  Be Authentic.  Reinforcing your customers problems, thoughts and assumptions, is a great way to draw them in and lets you pitch your product as the solution they need.

3. Make sure you've got a hero - ideally the underdog

A minute in and we're told “when it comes to luxury, it's as much about where it's from as who it's for”, challenging all the bad news stories about Detroit and helping you to root for the underdog. You want to know more. Your interest is peaked and you're enjoying the journey with the driver of the car, beginning to see yourself as that character, bringing your own knowledge to this crafted vision. How could you help your customer to imagine themselves using your product?

The imagery is of determination, ordinary people, challenging themselves.  The voiceover acknowledges that while all the attention is given to the best know American cities, it's our hero that represents the vast majority of the population and we should share that pride. Chrysler the brand is firmly pitched as the hero's assistant - Robin to Batman.  Be customer rather than company centric so your marketing supports what your customers value in their terms.

4. Include the element of surprise

One minute 20 seconds in and we recognize the driver - home grown talent, Eminem, reminding the viewer of Detroits glory days as Motown. The soundtrack builds to a climax, not just of instruments, but of human voices, via a choir, reinforcing the personal nature of this product.  We now know this is a car ad, but that's almost forgotten because we're so entrenched in what will happen next.  What could you do to make your product part of a bigger picture or wider community?

5. Give them a happy ending

Final 30 seconds - cue Fox theatre, far removed from the industrial landscape we've all come to associate with this Michigan state. Eminem turns to camera and addresses us, telling us that it's about the city and not the product.

In our minds Chrysler now stands for guts, courage and resolve and we want to be associated with that.  By now, American hearts are swelled with pride at their resilience as a nation and customers are already giving consideration to Chrysler as their next purchase.

In 2 minutes, Chrysler have told us a story which leaves us feeling like they're the good guys. They've given their brand human traits and we feel warm to them because they connect with how we see the world. Do your customers share an emotional connection with your brand?

As with every youtube video, the comments section is the most telling. This stream is overwhelmingly positive, showing just how well the story has been told.  One viewer summarised this ad in just one sentence - makes me wish I was from Detroit.

What's the story behind your brand?  How will you tell it?  It doesn't take a high budget video to communicate, but you will need to use your imagination.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Who's going to buy this? Three questions between you and the sale.

I work with companies big and small and one problem remains the same regardless of size, industry or product.  How do you get people to buy what you've produced?

If I had a time machine, I'd whisk company Directors, back to the point their business idea first took hold.  That lightbulb moment, ‘wouldn't it be great if there was a ... insert fabulous business idea here.’

The next question should be, who would be willing and able (both attributes are needed), to buy this bright new thing, but 9 times out of 10 the concept of a customer is overlooked, in favour of rushing to secure the patent and produce the prototype.

No matter how old your business is, taking time to think like a buyer will have a huge impact on how you market your product and most importantly, how you find people who need it, value it or can at least justify the purchase to themselves (most of us).

Start with a blank piece of paper.

Think about your ideal customer.

Draw a stick figure and give them a name - whatever it takes to remember you are selling to a real person.

Now answer, in as much detail as possible

1. What will your customer be thinking and feeling to show they need your offering?

Let's take the latest technology as an example.  None of us really needs wearable tech, but now it's here, we're all trying to find ways to indulge.

  • If only I didn't have to carry this bulky smartphone around
  • I keep forgetting where I've put it
  • Wouldn't it be great to be able to monitor my health levels anytime, anywhere
  • Just think of the kudos I'd get to be the first in the office sporting an Apple watch
  • I need a new way of accessing the internet

2. What are they doing and saying, which shows they're looking for a solution?

Following the wearables example

  • Which smartwatch is best for cyclists/travellers/joggers etc.?
  • I'm reading the influencers in this field and using Google to study reviews, video demonstrations
  • I'm going to TechWorld next week to draw up a shortlist 

3. What do they see and hear about your product when they type it into Google, pick up the newspaper, search Youtube etc?

When was the last time you audited what the world knows about your product?  Beyond Google search, you should type your company and product name into the search functions on Twitter, Google+, Slideshare, Vimeo, Youtube and LinkedIn.  Additionally, you could check socialmention and socialradar.

By getting into the mind of your customer, you'll quickly see the information they need to help them part with their cash. The more specific you can be, the better.

Your marketing needs to answer your customers' questions. Show that you understand their problems and give them a glimpse of a happier future all because they spend their money on your brand. 

Answering the big three questions above, gives you a framework for your marketing and will help you focus your efforts on content which delivers value in your customers terms.

Going back to basics is a great antidote to producing bland marketing content.  After all, the customers perception is your reality.

Friday, 16 October 2015

What's the difference between how and why people search?

This Saturday my house will play host to my eldest child's birthday party.  What was I thinking?

As a result, I've been rather preoccupied researching the joys of pop cakes, which are basically the lollipop equivalent of a cupcake.

Such is the crossover life of a freelance marketer, that I couldn't help learning a bit more about how we make online choices in the process.

                                          (Photo by SAM_1574 herocakepops on flickr)

Here's how my search went.

1. Google ‘pop cake’

This was a pretty general search, designed to help me know what's out there, as well as whether this natty little confection is one word or two.  I'm at the start of my quest for uber mother status.

Such broad topic search is done early in the buying cycle.  It's top of the sales funnel stuff, returning a wide range of results while Google tries to decide my intent.

2. Google ‘POP bakery’

I've used this company before, so know the brand and can be quite specific in looking for it by name.

We search for brands as we get closer to making the purchase. Brands are familiar, comforting and perceived experts in their field.  We know what we like and trust what our friends suggest.  I'm now honing in for ideas from the professionals.

Pop bakery really are masters of the cake sphere.

3. Google ‘how to make pop cakes’

Inspired by what I've seen, I decide to make my own.  My search has turned to solving a particular problem, which is, I have no idea how to make pop cakes and need to be a domestic goddess by Saturday.  I'm on the hunt for a solution and my keywords have now grown to a phrase.  Google rejoices as being able to return authoritative links on the craft.

4. Google ‘pop cake bakery Edinburgh’

Now that I know I'll never have the patience, nor design prowess to make such stick based wonders, I admit defeat and go with a location specific search.  This tells me that pop cakes are known as cake pops in Edinburgh, a keyword I would never have used. At this stage Google gave up trying to make suggestions on related searches.

The moral of this story ...

We marketers generally dive straight into selecting our keywords, without considering the various stages of search and selection we all go through before making a purchase.  Search in reality is more ongoing discovery than instant fact finding.

Making sure your chosen keywords cover general, brand, solution and location searches, brings you one step closer to appearing on that elusive first page of returned results.

Break out the pop cakes!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Happy customers or Loyal fans - which does your business have?

Happy customers versus loyal fans.

Happy customers are often on the top ten list of business goals, but what does that really mean?

A customer is happy if their last experience with your brand was a good one.  It's a moment in time thing - I got great customer service or I loved the painless online check out.

Happy, says you met their immediate needs and hopefully left them feeling good about their decision to choose you over the alternatives. With luck, there's a good chance that this customer will come back for more.

What if three months later, that same customer revisits your store or website and the staff have changed or the interface has been updated. Now they might not be able to find what they need. There's no number to call, the customer service is non existent. Are they still happy?

Loyal fans are more than happy customers 

They are completely bought into your brand. They're so convinced of your product that even when you don't deliver to their expectations, they will still continue to favour you, (for a while) because they want to believe in the promises your brand makes.

Humans, like dogs, have an inbuilt need to be loyal.  Maybe you always go to the same garage to have your car serviced, (even though it's not the cheapest) or you wear a particular label (despite it being dry clean only), but in these heady days of limitless choice, our loyalties are regularly tested.

Business goals aimed at making customers consistently happy, through repeatable great experiences lead to loyal fans.

In a world where perception is 99% reality, keeping the promises your brand makes, will take you beyond happy customers and boost returns for years to come.

Think longterm.

Respect is earned.
Honesty is appreciated.
Trust is gained.
Loyalty is returned.