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Posts Tagged "brand"

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How to Clone Your Best Salesperson

How to Clone Your Best Salesperson

Imagine this: sales people that never get tired, never need vacations and happily work 24/7; they don’t need commissions and you always know where they are and what they’re doing. Best of all, every one of them is as good as your best salesperson.

Believe it or not, that is exactly what your company website can and should be.

Too often, brand or company websites are just glorified brochures or worse, repositories for tens of thousands of documents. Enormous amounts of time and money go into expensive content management systems and complex technology that make these sites function, but nobody really seems to answer the most important question: how is our website going to drive sales?

First, you should recognize that your website has become pretty important to your prospects. As the 2013 “Trust in Advertising” study from Nielsen revealed, brand websites are now the second most trusted form of advertising, second only to personal recommendations. This is important because it means that brand sites have become the preferred way that prospects explore a purchase. It’s where they form opinions about your company and about the only place (short of a face-to-face pitch) where you can completely control the story that you tell.

That’s why your website is where your one-on-one sales process should start. The idea is not for the website to replace your salespeople, but rather for it to qualify the opportunities and lay the groundwork for the close.

Today’s technology allows a modern website to simulate a great deal of what a salesperson does. As in a face-to-face pitch, the ideas is to quickly find out what’s important to the prospect and adapt the pitch to be as personally relevant as possible.

Unlike any other marketing medium, a website is uniquely able to become relevant by adapting instantly to a viewer’s choices, responses to questions or behavior, all while keeping them engaged. The result can be a site that tells a story that is personally relevant to each viewer, keeps a dialogue going, and then identifies people ready and qualified to talk to a real salesperson at the right moment.

It’s time to see your website not only as a valuable marketing tool, but equally important as a valuable sales tool. When prospects arrive at your site, they should discover an experience that is as persuasive as your best salesperson.

This experience should be exciting and engaging, presenting your story step-by step, and adapting it to fit the interests and needs of each prospect just as you would if you could have a salesperson there every time. Then when prospects are clearly ready and qualified, it should deliver them to sales for the close.

Today’s technology and design make websites capable of this kind of smart, personalized selling experience. It doesn’t replace sales, but instead leverages technology to let you scale your story and maximize your sales potential.

When a website becomes part of an integrated digital selling system, it enables you to connect, cultivate and convert consumers with more predictability than ever before. This new model replaces the old, simple funnel model and recognizes that today’s journey to buy anything is really complex. It’s a journey that needs a new model.

For a more comprehensive look at the “Connect, Cultivate, Convert” model, view the 3C’s presentation.

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7 Questions for your 2014 Marketing Plan

How to Calculate ROI for Customer Experience

The 10 Key Ingredients of a Modern Brand Website

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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A Level Playing Field: How Small Brands Can Win with Digital

david and goliath malcolm gladwell

The marketing playing field is a lot more level than it ever used to be thanks to how digital has changed things. As a result, small brands now have the chance to fight and sometimes even beat big brands.

The David & Goliath legend would have us believe that beating powerful opponents is about luck or divine providence.

The true story of David and Goliath, as told by Malcolm Gladwell in his new book, tells us that Goliath, despite his size and apparent power, was actually slow, and suffered from double vision as a result of the medical condition that had turned him into a giant. David, on the other hand, also contrary to appearances, was not just some shepherd boy.

He was actually a highly trained slinger, the marksman of his age, who could let fly a projectile traveling as fast as a .45 caliber bullet, with sufficient accuracy to bring down a bird in flight.

So what appeared on the surface to be one situation was in fact something else entirely. David used intelligence, insight, strategy and speed to beat the unbeatable giant. He used his advantages while turning his opponents disadvantages against him.

Digital channels offer similar opportunities for smaller brands.

In the pre-digital days, brands had little choice but a head to head battle. Usually the brand that could put up more media money, usually in broadcast and print, won. While the originality of creative could have a multiplier effect, as it always does, the key was always the weight of paid media a brand could bring to bear.

Jump to today and a marketing environment in which paid media has become much less influential as owned and earned media have gained power. Now brands have the opportunity to use intelligence, insight, strategy and speed, just like David, to run rings around the giants. Of course many of the giants have figured out their weaknesses and are not quite as lumbering as they used to be. But at the very least the battle is now one of wits, not just about size.

This presents smaller brands with the opportunity to punch way above their weight if they take advantage of the digital opportunities in front of them. These mostly revolve around smart search optimization, content creation, social media, brand websites and mobile experiences.

If a brand’s digital ecosystem is imagined and managed with insight and creativity, David can hold his own against Goliath – and sometimes even beat him.

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Delayed Gratification and the Fear of the Future

How to Calculate ROI for Customer Experience

7 Questions for your 2014 Marketing Plan

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5 Reasons to Rebalance Your 2014 Marketing Plan

Marketing Plan

Just like your stock portfolio needs to be rebalanced when market conditions change, you need to take a hard look at your media and channel mix in your 2014 marketing plan.

Discussions of mix have usually been about how to distribute media dollars among channels, but you need to look at channels holistically and include all costs, not just purchased media. With the continuous behavioral and attitudinal shifts of consumers, seeing your go to market plan as an integrated ecosystem is more important than ever.

1. If your channel mix does not reflect target audience behavior

Hopefully you know how your target audience uses media channels and when and where they are most receptive to brand interactions. You would be surprised how many marketers start by picking a channel without that knowledge.

Suffice it to say that the way consumers of all ages and types discover, explore, and evaluate products and services today is completely different to the way it used to be. You must therefore use a data driven, evidence based approach to determining your channel mix.

2. Because channels need to be weighted to reflect the dynamics of the Consumer Decision Journey

The difficult, but essential, challenge for a brand is to insert itself into the Consumer Decision Journey*. Your channel mix should reflect a comprehensive understanding of when and where people can and should be influenced. These are the inflection points where you should concentrate your resources. (*McKinsey & Co.)

3. The budget in a particular channel is insufficient to rise above competitive noise

A common mistake is not having an appropriate budget to achieve the mission. TV is a typical example of where budgets are often insufficient to accomplish minimum reach and frequency goals.

To use a war analogy, don’t split your army unless it is larger than your opponent, and concentrate your force on a narrow front for maximum impact.

4. You’re trying to win everything

You probably have short-term goals, but building a brand is a marathon not a sprint. So look at all the channels where your target audience is congregating and start with the areas that are uncontested by your competition. Then only select those that you can afford to do effectively (see previous point).

5. Because too much of your budget only has short-term equity

So much of marketing spend is ephemeral. So look for marketing investments that have long term value for the brand. For example, instead of buying banner ads, invest in evergreen content that can be used for search and syndication.

Over time these marketing investments will become the fabric of your brand’s marketing ecosystem.

Click here to read part 1 of this series

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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  • 08.01.13

Content Strategy: 7 Steps for a Better Voice and Tone

Publishing branded content in traditional spaces — better known as native advertising — has been a popular topic buzzing around lately.

From the Native Advertising Summit that stopped by Atlanta this summer to this absolutely awesome (though slightly inconclusive) eMarketer study that popped up on my Twitter feed last week, native advertising is without a doubt shaping the content that brands are creating right now. And according to that eMarketer study, 73% of U.S. publishers are offering some form native advertising on their websites.

content strategy

The growth of native advertising means more opportunities for brand produced content to be integrated in the design of a publisher’s site. As brands are taking advantage of this opportunity, they’ve become responsible for vastly more content the public sees and interacts with.

But keeping that content on track is easier said than done. From social posts to blog entries and targeted ads, it’s a challenge for businesses to manage all the content they create all the time. The solution is a holistic content strategy including SEO keyword analysis, which prioritizes content and details guidelines for consistent voice and tone.

From a small ‘mom and pop’ shop to a Fortune 500 companies, a defined “voice and tone” keeps the people (and agencies) working on a brand’s behalf on the same page when it comes to how a brand should sound and act in different situations.

A fantastic example is MailChimp’s voice and tone microsite guide that sorts the company’s V+T best practices based on situation, then color codes the tone needed for each situation from green to red.

Green is for situations that call for humor and positivity, red for content that is serious and informative. All entries feature examples and as an added bonus, the site is responsive and remarkably pleasant to use on a smartphone.

But not all voice and tone guidelines need to be as expansive as a color-coded microsite.

Creating or updating your voice and tone is as simple as following a few key steps:

1. Understand the difference between voice and tone

Voice doesn’t change, but tone does. Your brand voice should always be consistent, but tone will vary depending on the situation and emotion you’re trying to communicate to a consumer.

2. Set your boundaries

Decide if your voice and tone is a guide for all of your business communications or just a certain part. Narrow your focus by deciding if you need a voice and tone specifically for something like your company’s digital spaces or for a smaller initiative like social networks. You can easily make a separate voice and tone guide, if needed, for different parts of your business.

3. Interview stakeholders

This is key because your employees are already speaking your brand’s voice and tone. Interview key stakeholders and employees and ask them to share why they’re passionate about the company. Also ask what kind of content they think would be compelling coming from the brand. Their language will give you insight into what your brand voice and tone should sound like.

4. Determine voice with keywords

Start by creating a massive list of words that define the brand — we’re not talking about product names, but instead how a product or service makes the customer feel. Use these important adjectives to shape a mission statement paragraph that defines overall how your brand should sound. Follow up with a list of keywords.

5. Define tone based on situation  

Think of the different situations where you will use voice and tone guidelines to structure copy or content for your brand. Define these situations one by one — from social copy to company blog entries — then decide what tone is needed to communicate with a reader during these situations. With its list of uses, MailChimp’s V+T is a fantastic examples of this.

6. List your “watch outs”

Define words, phrases or messages that absolutely cannot be used in content produced by your company. Additionally, define customer service protocol for dealing with negative feedback — like finding a way to direct a customer complaining on your blog post to customer service quickly.

7. Share and get feedback from key stakeholders

Once you’ve created a preliminary document, come back to the stakeholders you interviewed to get feedback. Constructive feedback will help you continue to improve your voice and tone — rinse and repeat until you have the guidelines you need.

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All Content is Not Created Equal

Learn about our marketing approach — click to download the whitepaper How to Market Now:

How to Market Now | voice & tone

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Omnicom/Publicis Merger – Will Data Rule?

Omnicom Publicis Merger

The big merger announcement of Omnicom and Publicis focuses squarely on the data side of the marketing business, specifically the use of data to target advertising and messaging. While this promises huge opportunities for brands to spend their media money more effectively, it doesn’t speak to the other big shift in the marketing world. That shift is the evolution of the consumer decision journey, a concept originated by McKinsey.

The consumer’s path to making a purchase and what happens after has been inexorably changed by technology. Consumers still consume advertising, but only as a part of many influences that determine who gets the sale. This is now a game of content, user experience and customer service, as well as advertising.

So while spending client media dollars more effectively is an attractive prospect for brands, they will need even better soft skills, such as strategy and creative, to succeed. This will be even more important with medium and smaller sized brands which cannot just throw media money at consumers like the big brands, but are forced to produce smarter more creative marketing in order to win.

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How to Utilize the YouTube Partner Program

YouTube Partner Program

If you’ve been following my series on YouTube, you’ve already heard me harp on the importance of creating content specifically for the YouTube community rather than just re-purposing ads created for TV. With Google’s announcement at Cannes Lions that it’s expanding its partner program to include advertisers, it is reinforcing that imperative.

The YouTube Partner Program has been for quite some time a way for content creators to improve production value, reach more people, and monetize their content on a huge platform. So, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to allow advertisers in unless Google is trying to encourage the production of higher quality, YouTube-centric content.

Anthony Ha at TechCrunch writes:

“…Google seems to be encouraging businesses to create advertising that’s designed specifically for the video site, rather than just repackaging existing TV ads and video content. Those kinds of custom campaigns could potentially be more lucrative for YouTube and its content partners.”

So, what exactly does this YouTube-centric content look like? Let’s take a look at a few great examples:

Display Ads Can Be Entertaining

First (and probably one of my favorites despite its age), is the Desperados Experience: Breakthrough. Although it isn’t live anymore, you can see how deeply interactive the ad was, inviting the user to participate directly in the ad.

What is interesting about this ad is that it is really just a flash ad like any other banner ad you find around the Web. But it is more interesting because it was made for a specific channel and gave users an entertaining way to interact with the brand instead of simply pushing its message on users.

Invest in Useful Content

Another great use of YouTube is BBQGuys.com, a company that sells grills and other outdoor products. On its YouTube channel, the company provides quick tips for grilling success, content that apparently thousands of people find useful. Here’s just one example:

This is an example of a company that is investing in content as its primary marketing strategy. It provides useful information for its target audience and puts that content where it knows they will be searching.

Understand Consumer Culture

We all know that when ads resonate with consumers, they do well. Typically that means understanding what is going on with them culturally. Last summer, AARP created a response video to the season’s number 1 hit, “Call Me Maybe.”

Not only was this a smart play for AARP for gaining awareness because of the popularity of the song, it was also smart because music is a major driver of a large percentage of YouTube views. The video hit both popular culture and YouTube culture right where they meet.

Leverage Influencers

YouTube is full of regular people who have risen to stardom by creating entertaining videos. In fact, it has been reported that some of the top YouTube stars are making six-figure salaries just by posting videos each week.

As they amass huge followings, it makes sense that brands would partner with them to promote their products. Not only does this ensure that your product gets in front of their fans, it is received well by consumers because the brand is borrowing the influencer’s legitimacy to earn their trust.

Whew! You made it through that video. I’ll admit, it isn’t something I find entertaining (I stopped watching at 2 minutes), but it has been viewed over 7 million times. That’s great news for Kraft who recognized the enormous popularity of the SMOSH Brothers.

This is the third and final part of our series on YouTube advertising.

Check out the rest of the series here:

Why YouTube Should Matter to Brands in 2013

Before You Start: YouTube for Brands

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Why YouTube Should Matter to Brands in 2013

YouTube Marketing Tips

Remember when Facebook hit 500 million active users and we all placed bets on whether or not a single website could ever reach 1 billion? And then last September when Facebook did it everyone in marketing called the game?

Facebook won. There are no more milestones to reach (except for maybe ALL the people, but that won’t happen – will it?).

Meanwhile, YouTube quietly (and I say quietly because for some reason marketers and Internet trend spotters alike failed to even classify it as a social networking site) reached the same unreachable milestone. And still marketers are allocating their social budgets mostly to Facebook and Twitter while ignoring YouTube.

So, why are marketers wrong about YouTube? There are 5 reasons that for many brands, YouTube is arguably the most strategic channel on the Web:

  1. It has 1 billion active users every month. 1 billion…with a “b.”
  2. The second largest search engine in the world to Google isn’t Bing or Yahoo; it’s YouTube.
  3. In the past year, video has become the content of choice for Internet users.
  4. The communities on YouTube are large and passionate. While on other social sites like Facebook, people’s networks are made up of other users that they know IRL, on YouTube communities of strangers are built that blossom into IRL relationships. And instead of organizing around common connections, they organize around passions like religion, gadgets, entertainers, political affiliation, etc.
  5. While the biggest brands are just starting to get on board, most of your competitors are probably not using YouTube effectively. This is a big one.

Alright, so now that you’re convinced that your brand should start thinking about how to play on YouTube, you want pointers on getting started. Bad news, you’re going to have to wait for my next blog post…or you could check YouTube.

This is part of an on-going series on YouTube advertising.

Check back next week for “Before You Start: YouTube for Brands”

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Content Overload

You’ve Got a Video Problem

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  • 06.05.13

How to Make Great Brand Videos

Consistently making great content is a tall order for many brands.  Get some insight and tips from the presentation below:

How to Make Great Brand Videos from IQ Agency

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Content Overload

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  • 05.09.13

7 Steps for Better Branded Journalism

I don’t pretend to be a savvy shopper, but when I dive wallet-first into the clearance section at The Gap, I tend to stock up on accessories in my favorite color — black. Why? It’s a universal truth that black goes with everything.

So does branded journalism. In the words of veteran digital content guru Ann Handley, “Content is the new black.”

Handley is right, branded journalism (also known as brand journalism or branded content) has caught on like a wildfire this year. From Tory Burch’s fantastic branded blog to Mint.com’s MintLife section, brands realize the value of consumer-facing content like articles, photos or videos, and are rushing to create some with the company name on it.

Why? For a lot of the reasons we discussed in the first post in this series and mainly because consumers are demanding it. As brands become more accessible to fans through social media, people want more from brands than their products and services. So much so, even Twitter is looking to hire a Head of News. That leads us to branded journalism.

But branded journalism breaks the natural order of business that advertisers, journalists and businesses have subscribed to for decades. This makes some people nervous, traditionalists angry and opportunists jumping on the branded content bandwagon faster than Baltimore fans during the last Super Bowl.

So that leaves the question, if you’re going to start creating content for a brand, be it a local business or a Fortune 500 company, what are the best practices? Better yet, how do you do it ethically?

Try these simple steps for better branded journalism:

1. Build a process

Journalistic content should be more than an article or blog post thrown together quickly. Create an editorial plan, support whatever content you create with strategy, edit it, review it with key company team members and a set time to distribute it via a medium that will reach your intended audience.

2. Share something valuable

Share something that your target market will respond to. For example, Home Depot’s YouTube page features an array of do-it-yourself garden tutorials. Completely different from Red Bull’s adrenalin-pumping YouTube page that offers an array of video features on the brand’s extreme athletes.  Both give their fans journalistic content in the same medium, but do it completely different ways to reach separate audiences.

3. Know your boundaries

Producing journalistic content doesn’t equate to producing a Pulitzer winning news article, so stick to your industry and the topics surrounding it. Create content targeted at a company’s audience, on subjects related to your company’s industry. Find creative ways to make content relevant to trends and new stories without reporting the news.

4. Stick to the facts and cite your sources

People want transparency from their favorite brands. Always support your content with facts from experts and credible sources. Back up your claims with research, data or testimonials from credible experts that you mention by name.

5. Strike a balance

Don’t use branded journalism as an opportunity to knock a competitor’s product or service, use it as an opportunity to share valuable content. If needed, acknowledge competitors professionally when it’s appropriate. Focus instead on sharing real insight about a subject consumers are interested in.

6. List a byline

If possible, list the author or producer of a branded journalism piece. This gives your work credibility and gives audience members a face representing the brand to connect with. Melissa Lafsky Wall left her job at USA Today to head up content production at dating site How About We, where every article or column in the site’s Date Report section is credited with a byline.

7. Track results

Producing branded journalism is useless if it doesn’t reach the correct audience to support business goals. Use analytics to track your results and SEO to shape the strategy behind your content. This ensures that you don’t just produce quality branded journalism; you produce branded content that gets results.

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You’ve Got a Video Problem

How to Make Great Brand Videos

In the pre-digital days there really wasn’t a need for brands to produce more than the ads that went on traditional media. Now they need to produce an almost constant stream of fresh content to keep up with digital channels and social media. For most companies it’s a pretty tall order because making content is a completely different business from what they know. And it gets even harder when so much of the content that they now need is video.

Since cheap bandwidth has made high-quality video so easy to get, people want more and more of it. Projections have video representing over 85% of all Internet traffic in a couple of years. So brands need to make lots of videos. The problem, of course, is not just the quantity, but how does a brand make videos that are good enough to stand out? While cameras and equipment are cheap and easy to get, creativity and know-how are still in short supply. Of course, what makes a video good is in the eye of the beholder, but most of us know bad video when we see it, and the last thing any brand needs is to be spreading bad videos.

So the challenge is for companies to put in place the capability to produce lots of “good” videos, consistently over time. The problem is that because the budgets are much smaller, it’s not like producing TV commercials, which brands have a lot of experience with. According to the 4A’s, the average cost to make a TV spot is over $300,000 — but for video content, that may be your entire budget for the year.

The big question is — do you try and do it in-house or hire pros? While you may need a lot of videos, you may not need enough to justify the large expense of hiring a full-time team. So another approach is to hire an in-house video producer whose job it is to put together freelance teams for each production. This is not a creative person, but a video project manager, and you still need to be doing enough work to justify a full-time person.

For most brands the answer is to hire pros. The advantage, of course, is the wide range of talent and capabilities you can access. The problem is how to keep the costs down. Most agencies focus on developing the creative, and then hire a production company for the execution. As a result, the costs mount quickly. Some TV production companies do creative, but their focus is really on the production and they are rarely able to develop the creative or the strategy for the video, which is critical. So that leaves companies and agencies that specialize in video content for digital channels.

The ideal is to have digital content strategy, plus creative, plus production under one roof. A company that can do all of that — and that is set up to produce a lot of video content over time, cost-effectively — has found the perfect solution. Of course, the videos still have to be good in the eye of the beholder, which to start with would be you.