Storytelling is an essential and ancient part of human communication. Before the advent of writing, detailed stories were told orally, passed from generation to generation. Stories hold meaning for cultures, reflecting their histories, beliefs, and customs. We tell stories to learn, build relationships, and make sense of the world around us.
In fact, our brains are programmed to recognize patterns and find meaning in those patterns. A story is a kind of pattern, and stories are an effective marketing tool that you can use to build connection with your audience.
There are good stories, and then there are great stories, the ones we remember. But what makes a compelling, memorable story?
While print and social media may compete for your marketing dollars, they don’t have to compete for your customers. In fact, using them together can make your marketing more effective. Let’s look at five ways print and social media can work together.
Recently, I enjoyed a delicious meal at a local restaurant celebrating with a friend. Despite seeing advertisements for this establishment, I had never been. But lately in conversation several people mentioned to me what an exceptional experience they had dining there.
After that, I couldn’t stay away. Recommendations from friends and colleagues spoke to me in a way that ads never had. I stopped in for a bite and was not disappointed.
While a conversation may seem like just another part of each day, in this case it functioned as a marketing device. Word of Mouth Marketing (sometimes referred to as WOMM or WOM), is a crucial tool in any business’ marketing kit. Consciously or unconsciously, you’re likely participating in WOMM frequently. Anytime you recommend a product, restaurant, establishment, service, or destination, you’re influencing whether another person decides to patronize that business or purchase that product.
You may be asking, is this really marketing? The conversations we have from day to day aren’t scripted and approved by a company’s marketing department. But they have just as much, if not more, power than traditional marketing channels to make or break your business.
The place: a recent introductory meeting with the newly-hired Marketing Director of a local established and respected mid-sized company.
The topic: the state of the company’s marketing collateral.
This is a good-sized business selling big ticket services that regularly invoice in the $100,000 to $1M range. Yet, you would never perceive this when handed one of their business cards or company brochures.
The firm was seemingly still holding on to their start days, when print collateral was designed in-house using Microsoft Word, then printed on the company copier. That may have been appropriate and practical then. But given the size and capabilities of the company now, the state of their print collateral imparts a huge perception gap on the brand. This company was attempting to continue to grow business and generate leads. However, the amateurism of their branded handouts did not match the professionalism of their work.
$44 million. That’s how much was raised during a telethon last September hosted to support victims of Hurricane Harvey. Oprah and Beyoncé joined a cast of celebrities encouraging people to give and fielding calls from donors.
And remember those sad ASPCA commercials starring Sarah McLachlan? The ASPCA raised $30 million in just the first two years of that campaign.
These numbers are admittedly larger than many nonprofits can expect to see from any one campaign. But they show the effectiveness of influencer marketing. It’s an increasingly popular marketing trend, where companies partner with well-known celebrities, politicians, and business people to promote their products. And, it’s an effective sales tool—in 2016, revenue generated from influencer marketing on Instagram alone topped $570 million.
Quick! Stop what you’re doing and watch this video!
Did it make you laugh? Every time I see this commercial, it makes me smile.
It’s probably true that all of us can use a good laugh. Humor is a big component of what makes many advertisements successful. It can strongly affect the way we connect with and respond to marketing messages.
A key concept of marketing today is to not just provide your customers with products or services, but to also serve as a knowledgeable source of information about anything and everything related to what your company does. When you provide customers with helpful info, it builds trust in your relationship with them and gives you greater credibility. Continue reading “Make Your Marketing Powerful With Humor”
When you buy a new car, sweater, or sofa, you consider a number of factors: durability, comfort, ease of use. These are, of course, important qualities. But the initial appeal of the product, what draws you to it, may depend on one thing—the color.
So when evaluating and strategizing your company branding, how does color play into the mix?
Items like sofas and sweaters have the advantage of coming in multiple colors. If you don’t like one, there may be another that fits your needs. But when it comes to your company’s brand, there can only be one color combination to consider—the one with the best chance of making a good first impression.
What’s the most powerful and effective way to engage your clients and prospects in your marketing message? Speak to them one-on-one. Communicate in such a way that each person you mail to knows, or better yet feels that they are special to you; that you have something to say that they’ll be eager and enthusiastic to hear about.
One of the best ways to do so is by using one simple word… “You”.
The following real-life example and images are used to illustrate just how valuable it is to speak to your target audience when conveying your brand in your sales and marketing messaging.
And by “brand”, I don’t mean just the logo, which is only one graphical representation of your brand; but your BRAND – that special something about your company or organization that defines who you are, what you do, and how you do it. It’s what attracts customers to your company, converts them to customers, and prompts them to spread the word.
I’m a car guy. I am a big fan of sports and performance cars, both vintage and new. Back in the day, I drove a bright yellow 1973 Triumph Spitfire; one of those teeny-tiny British 2-seat roadsters that helped define the classic wind in your hair (when I used to have some) description of top-down motoring. To this day I’m still an enthusiast and enjoy driving cars for more than mere transportation. My current Audi has a manual transmission with a stick shift that for me, is simply fun!
So when this mailer arrived in my mailbox from Berlin City, the local Alfa Romeo dealership for this Italian car manufacturer’s reintroduction into the US market, they had done their homework by identifying me as a member of their target audience – someone with an interest in fun sporty cars.
Let’s breakdown this mailer…
First, the iconic Alfa logo and branding is front and center on the outside of the mail piece. They don’t design logos like this much anymore.
I turn the piece over to find the headline at the top that reads:
YOU ARE INVITED TO EXPERIENCE THE ALL NEW 2017 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA.
This could have easily been written to read: CHECK OUT THE ALL NEW 2017 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA INSIDE; and while I still would have been curious, the actual headline speaks to me by using the word “YOU”.
They also used another very powerful word in this headline… EXPERIENCE. Let’s face it, the fundamental function of a car is transportation; carrying people and things from point A to point B. Any car can do that and for many people, that’s all they need, want, or expect out of a car. But for the driver of a hot Italian red car like this, the point, or more aptly the unique selling proposition, shifts from utility to emotion, and the experience you see, hear, and feel when behind the wheel of this automobile.
Next, I open the mailer and the very first thing I notice are the letters VIP – with the “V” creatively crafted using the V-shape of the Giulia’s classic signature Alfa Romeo front grille.
We’ve been trained through language and marketing to put a high value on the letters VIP, and it works every time. Then, right below the VIP is the coupes de grace… the Call-to-Action – Schedule your personal Test Drive Experience, employing an equally influencial derivative of the word “you”… “your”.
Yes, there’s more throughout the mailer that visually shows off the car, along with an attractive lease offer, but the REAL call-to-action is the invitation to experience driving this car; because Alfa Romeo and the dealership are pretty confident that once driven, the sales process gets much easier from there.
People buy on emotion
So THIS is a great example of the power and attraction that direct mail has and will continue to have so long as marketers know how to use it and apply direct mail marketing’s three fundamental best practices:
Know your target audience and focus your time and budget on them
Include a compelling offer that speaks to the person and evokes emotion
Design the mail piece to be relevant and attractive to the target audience; integrating personalization and the word “you” whenever appropriate.
For the best experience and results for your direct marketing projects, Contact Paw Print & Mail to discuss your objectives and needs with us.
So you’re eager and ready buy that new range for your kitchen. Or hire a photographer for your wedding. Or you’re in the market for a new SUV. Or want to know where the best Thai food in town is. If you’re like most people, what’s one of the steps you take before plunking down your hard-earned cash?
Read a review
As a consumer, when looking to buy something your decision is most likely influenced by reading reviews, especially as the price tag rises. EBay was one of the pioneers to implement an online review-based transaction process that turned out to be brilliant yet simple, and the foundation to their sustainability after all these years. Maintaining a positive review score encourages the buyer to give preference to those that rate high, while motivating the seller to do what’s necessary to please the buyer and earn a positive review. Simple, efficient, and generally very reliable.
How often do we see and hear the word value or phrase delivering value when reading or discussing what makes a business successful, success that’s not differentiated solely on price. It’s easy for a seller to “say” they deliver value, because it’s one of the right things to say when in front of a potential customer, but it’s quite another to actually deliver value, which can be measured in so many different ways. What’s perceived as value to one may not be considered value to another. In today’s marketplace, where the customer possesses virtually all the power, especially in an online marketplace, identifying and delivering value to a wide array of customers can be tricky and perplexing.
Enter the review
Customer reviews are the great equalizer in the marketplace. For the buyer they build confidence in the purchase decision, provide peer feedback data, and move them along the buying cycle. For the seller, reviews help get inside the customers’ head, they can (should) cause a business to level-up their game, and they can help to define what value means to the customer. Reviews can also result in a learning, if not humbling, experience.
About five years ago I was introduced to a simple and easy to use automated online survey service for Paw Print & Mail made available to me through one of my trade groups. The service, provided by Survey Advantage, has turned out to be one of the most valuable tools I’ve ever implemented over my 26 years in business. Not only has this tool influenced my sales and marketing efforts, but also my customer service standards; which in turn comes back around to influence sales. Do good work, earn good reviews, and build more sales. Repeat, then repeat again, and again. I call it the circle of business life!
But if you choose to solicit reviews, be prepared for a little surprise, if not disappointment, now and then. Sorry to break the news but life isn’t perfect and sooner or later, no matter how hard you try to please, a sour review will come along. Maybe you really screwed up an order, or maybe it’s not a screw up at all but a miscommunication or perception that has influenced the bad review; but that’s the checks-and-balance part of the equation and the part that makes you better, if you care and pay attention.
The key to handling a poor review is to respond immediately, clearly understand the nature of the complaint, ask what it would take to fix the problem, then do the right thing.
Reviews keep sellers honest and on their A-game when done well and implemented as part of a strategic marketing plan. Great for SEO ranking too!
Looking to grow and generate more leads for your business? Take a look at the following statistics to better understand the full potential of making and managing reviews for your business or organization.
50 stats that show the importance of online reviews
92% of consumers now read online reviews vs. 88% in 2014
40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews vs. 29% in 2014
Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business
44% say a review must be written within one month to be relevant.This highlights the importance of recency in reviews!
68% say positive reviews make them trust a local business more vs. 72% in 2014
43% of consumers search a business by reviews at least one time per month vs. 38% in 2014
60% of consumers have searched a business at least six times per year vs. 56% in 2014
There has been a considerable decrease in those that “never” search for a local business online, down from 22% to 9%, and an increase in those that search for a local business every day, up from 7% to 14%
73% have read online reviews on a desktop
29% have read reviews on a tablet
33% believe all local businesses should have websites designed for mobile vs. 25% in 2013
61% are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site
40% of consumers form an opinion by reading one to three reviews, vs. 29% in 2014
73% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to six reviews ,vs. 64% in 2014
88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews vs. 84% in 2014. This means it’s important to have a large body of reviews, as customers are reading more reviews now than in all years past.
Only 12% are prepared to read more than 10 reviews vs. 16% in 2014
26% of consumers say it’s important that a local business responds to its reviews
Only 14% of consumers would consider using a business with a one or two star rating
57% of consumers would use a business with a three star rating
94% of consumers would use a business with a four star rating
51% of consumers will select a local business if it has positive reviews
88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, vs. 83% in 2014
48% will visit a company’s website after reading positive reviews
23% will visit the business premises directly after reading positive reviews
9% of consumers will phone a business after reading positive reviews
95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores
Reliability (27%), expertise (21%) and professionalism (18%) remain the most important attributes to consumers
More consumers are interested in “good value” than before, while less are concerned about the “expertise” of a business
Word of mouth is still the most popular method of recommendation for consumers despite a 2% drop year over year
On average, a consumer will look at over 10 information sources before making a purchase
Over half of young people aged 18 to 34 say they trust online reviews more than the opinions of friends and family
88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decision
Consumers who read reviews on a smartphone are 127% more likely to buy than those who read reviews on desktops
Reviews are especially important for local searches as they influence up to 10% of the ranking
Only reviews from friends and family are trusted more than online reviews. Reviews from experts and celebrity endorsements are less trusted than online reviews
30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews
The three online platforms dedicated to reviews with the most global traffic are: yelp, tripadvisor, foursquare
58% of consumers said they have recently (within the past five years) began leaving more and more online reviews based upon customer service
100% of customers who make over $150,000 annually claim to leave reviews when it comes to a poor customer service experience
Reviews of 50 or more, per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates
63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews
105% customers are more likely to purchase while visiting, when site visitors interact with both reviews and customer questions and answers, and spend 11% more than visitors who don’t interact
Reviews produce an average of 18% uplift in sales
64% of consumers would read online reviews when purchasing technology items
68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores
Between one and three bad online reviews would be enough to deter the majority (67%) of shoppers from purchasing a product or service
86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews
Number of reviews posted every minute by Yelp users is 26,380
If a business resolves its issue quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers returns back to your business
38% have read online reviews on mobile internet vs 24% on a mobile app
Truism #1 – the more things change the more they stay the same
You’ve probably come across this truism at one time or another. I have found this phrase to be true on many occasions, which I suppose is what makes a truism, a truism.
Specifically here, this truism refers to a circling back to the fundamental practice of person-to-person sales and marketing. That is, growing your business or nonprofit organization by getting in front of your customers or donors by putting people first and making the relationship the central theme of your efforts; all day, every day.
Pretty obvious right? But in reality, how many sales and fundraising professionals are consistently in front of their customers or donors?And make no mistake, whether a for-profit customer or a nonprofit donor, both are considered a customer because in either case you are selling something – your product, service, or mission – to somebody for money, time, or both.
Whether you’re a B2B business, a nonprofit organization relying on donations, or a B2C business that sells bigger ticket items or only occasional purchases, your success relies on a higher level of engagement with your customer when compared to more consumer-based businesses where the one with the biggest ad budget and lowest prices usually lead.
More accurately, you live or die by how you view and respect the customer; because at the end of the day, the customer is in charge. With more ways to solve problems and vendor options to fix them than ever before, the customer is in the driver’s seat when deciding who to buy from – whether from you or your competitor.
Though dated, I recall this 1990 United Airlines TV ad that speaks to this very topic and is as true today as it was then. Take a look…
Truism #2 – Everything old is new again
While it’s foreign to imagine a time without our digital channels, before there was email, social media, and text messaging, and even before faxing and television, by-and-large, people did business face-to-face; a channel that require the buyer and the seller to be in the same space together telling stories, asking questions, sharing ideas, handling objections, negotiating, and ultimately shaking hands. In direct selling, the relationship is integral and unavoidable, whether positive or negative, and remains to this day, the most effective way to grow your sales, your business, or your brand in a meaningful and sustainable manner.
And you know, or should know, that if you aren’t in your customers’ space, somebody else is or will be. It’s just a matter of time; and in that space and time, your customer will gather information, draw their conclusions, and make their decision. Being the first one they think of is a by-product of making this the year of your customer.
And when you spend dedicated and interested time with your customers, you come to know more about them and their needs. When you can do this at a level that even anticipates their needs and makes their job so much easier as a result, not only do you get the sale, but you build upon the lifetime value of a customer or donor. It’s magical.
It takes effort, but it’s magical.
To this point, check out the following 2016 SalesForce Research data from their Second Annual State of Sales report:
Pulling from the immutable 80/20 Rule, to the 20% that comprise the sales and fundraising leaders in any given sector, they know the importance of the customer connection and are in front of their key customers on a regular business. But for the other 80%, personal contact with key customers tends to be less consistent because it’s so easy to become distracted – by technology, by time management, by the next shiny thing that appears in front of us, by trying the proverbial silver bullet, and by simply becoming complacent.
The leaders in sales, fundraising, and any other occupation – the 20 percenters – attain their success by always focusing on the fundamentals; doing the basic and often boring things that, when consistently applied and repeated over time, yield the desired results. And that thing is focusing on the customer in personal and meaningful ways.
So, I’m not advocating dropping your email marketing or blogging or the social media posts you use to build your brand and awareness, but reminding you (as I do for myself) that everyone else is doing some or all of these things too, because it’s convenient and current with the times. But those who make the extra effort to be in front of their customers this year, will the 20 percenters at end.