Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Build Momentum with Contests that Make Your Customers Smile

Boston was overjoyed again as their darling RedSox capped off a 5-1 series victory over the Dodgers to take the 2018 World Series title.


The championship was well deserved, as Boston won a record 119 games, more victories than any World Series champion except the 1998 Yankees. "Now we deserve to be known as the greatest Red Sox team of all time," said infielder Brock Holt.


If the RedSox are not the greatest, they are certainly the most loved. According to numbers crunched by Bundle, Boston fans are "America's most obsessed baseball fans." Bundle's stats include money spent on tickets, food, and merchandise, including neighborhood restaurants and bars. From May of 2003 to April 2013, the Red Sox sold out every home-game seat – a total of 820 games for a major professional sports record!


The "Perfect Game" Promotion


One Boston retailer recognized this passion and tapped into the momentum.


In 2013, Jordan's Furniture held a "Perfect Game" promotion with one simple premise: any fan buying furniture or merchandise before May 5 would receive the furniture for free if a Red Sox pitcher threw a perfect game between July 17 and October 1. While that perfect game never materialized, the contest was certainly a home run. In 2014, Jordan's offered a new promotion: if the Sox could repeat their 2013 World Series victory, everyone who bought furniture between before May 18, 2014, would get a full rebate on their purchase!


Jordan's grabbed local excitement and used it as fuel for sales. And why not? A wonderful way to build brand loyalty is by making your customers smile. Like a "kiss a pig" contest generates giving, you can grow marketing engagement with an entertaining contest of your own. Here are three examples to get your creative juices flowing:


1. Get Them Snapping. 


People love to snap and share photos, especially of themselves.


Capitalize on that obsession with personalized photo contests! Any photo contest can begin with these words: "Show us your _____." Contestants then take photos that demonstrate their best, their worst, their ugliest, their cutest, etc.


Perhaps the winner of the ugliest couch gets a free upgrade from your showroom. Maybe the cutest baby picture nets a year of free diapers. The craziest bedhead gets a free cut and style from your salon. Get them sharing and enjoy the results!


2. Get Them to Go Wild. 


In this scenario, customers capture shots of themselves using your product "in the wild."


This contest could include video or traditional photo categories and might also be used as a monthly or bi-annual promotion. Winners receive a prize, a service credit, or a gift card.


When you publicize the contest, include questions that might draw fun testimonials as well. Feature results in your newsletters, social media posts, or in hilarious product reviews!


3. Get Them Celebrating


What food do you adore? Do others love it too?


Get their taste buds tingling by building contests around minor secular observances like national doughnut day, coffee day, s'more day, etc. (Run a quick internet search of "national food days" for inspiration!)


Seasonal contests allow you to foster anticipation every year, especially during your off seasons. Ask people to vote on their favorite pie flavor then serve samples. Ask contestants to guess the number of Ghiradelli chocolates in your vase on National Chocolate Day. Ask for sweetest first date stories and give away a Valentine's Day package at a local restaurant or hotel.


 Make customers smile and keep your name front and center all year!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Gain the Mouth-Watering, Competitive Advantage

In 2011, Matt Salzberg was a restless associate at a Silicon Valley investment firm. He and his friend Ilia Papas wanted to create a business and were intrigued by food.


"We both loved food," Salzberg said. "We liked trying new ingredients, new recipes, new techniques, but we found it really inaccessible to cook at home. It was expensive, time-consuming and difficult to find recipes that we trusted."


The duo tried a few ideas before landing on the one that became Blue Apron: give people an easy way to make dinner using chef-recommended recipes and the fresh, precisely measured ingredients they'd need. With 20 friends beta-testing the product, Salzberg immediately realized they had a winner. Beyond rave reviews and contagious social media sharing, they had undeniable momentum:


"Pretty much from day one we've had steady exponential customer growth. I think the moment we did our first week of deliveries we sort of knew that we had a business that we thought would be really successful."


By August 2012 the team was shipping recipes to early testers, and three years later Blue Apron was delivering millions of meals to monthly subscribers, the company valued at a whopping $2 billion!


Find Your Competitive Advantage


Initially, some scoffed at the thought of paying restaurant prices for something you labored to cook at home.


But they overlooked Blue Apron's unique advantage: appealing to "foodies" who loved high-end meals but relished the opportunity to cook them. Blue Apron found a niche in the market that catapulted them to exponential growth and national exposure.


Competitive advantage is that "special something" that draws customers and keeps them coming back.


Why do you buy a Ford versus Chevy? Why do you spend $80 on a certain brand of jeans? The answer lies in the competitive advantage, the unique set of features a product has that makes it superior in the eyes of a target audience.


Competitive advantages include niche strategies (like Blue Apron), cost advantages, and product or service differentiation. Consider these examples:


Cost Competitive Advantage


Companies can grab an edge when they control costs and efficiency in ways that create maximum value for consumers.


Walmart uses this advantage by providing a large selection combined with low prices through its retail size and strength. Some companies draw from years of experience, overseas production, or streamlined workflows to minimize expense.


As you brainstorm cost advantages for your customers, consider how you can improve productivity from your team, if your technology or equipment is cost-efficient or needs upgrading, or where you can give customers a cost break via delivery options, locked-in service rates, or freebies that come as a bonus for specific orders.  


Product Differentiation


Another way to gain a competitive advantage is through product differentiation.


As you distinguish yourself in the marketplace, focus on the value you offer through your unique products. What makes your toothbrush one of a kind? How is your technology superior to other market options? How does your farmer's market produce outclass the bounty of your competitors?


People love getting the best product for their penny, so work hard to highlight your advantage and shout it loud through print and digital pieces that spotlight your strengths.


Service Differentiation


While cost or product advantages can quickly disappear (or be duplicated), every company can offer one-of-a-kind service advantages.


Whether its bundled subscriptions, outstanding customer care, or unrivaled warranties, build a benefit that is exclusively yours. Consider bonus delivery features, apps that are user-friendly and easy to learn, terms that are simple and risk-free, or energizing ambiance (like funky d├ęcor or stellar store atmospheres). Make customers so spoiled they'd never consider your competitors!

Friday, December 21, 2018

4 Print Marketing Trends to Inspire You in the Year to Come

Print marketing is compelling, memorable, and engaging.


As people touch, hold, and even smell paper, they respond in a profoundly personal way.


While digital communication is booming, this has only enhanced the unique voice that print brings for any business. Millennials and Gen Z are very difficult crowds to reach digitally, with 63 percent using AdBlocker and 82 percent ignoring online banner ads. This trend toward tactile is stirring potential for many exciting creative opportunities.


Today, we'll highlight four print marketing trends from 2018 to inspire you in the year to come.


Simplicity


The world is filled with chaos, and fundamentally, viewers long for a return to simplicity.


Minimalist designs offer the respite people crave. Minimalist designs include images with a clear, elegant purpose, maximizing white space and using layouts that are clean and authentic. Uncluttered visuals bring an honest, compelling point into focus in a quick and arresting way.


For years, TBWA Paris has been on a mission to advertise McDonald's in the most minimalist ways possible. This started in 2013 with extreme close-up photos of food and followed with computer-icon-style pictograms featuring McDonald's menu items reduced down to very spare illustrations. Many of these ads used no branding whatsoever: the point was that the food was so recognizable it didn't need a label.


By 2017, McDonald's had the food disappearing altogether, featuring top sellers like fries, McNuggets, or Big Mac cartons that were completely empty (apart from a few crumbs), because the food had already been devoured by famished customers.


Effective? Absolutely. These simple ads bypass the brain and go straight to the stomach.


Personalized Print Pieces


Print is already a highly personal medium, but advances in technology allow businesses to enjoy increased access to personalized posters, flyers, direct mail, and more.


If you want to impress, try gathering online data about customer preferences and include that in print.


Branding even the simplest products has also allowed companies to gain a more personal touch. For example, a local auto garage printed customized labels for its water bottles and offered complimentary water to customers while they waited.


Color


If you've ever painted a room, you know the significance even a slightly darker hue can bring. Color experts Pantone released color trends for 2018 with this advice:



  • If you want to look resourceful, employ blue and orange hues
  • If you want a playful tone, choose yellow
  • If you're looking for something discreet, try pink
  • If you want more sophistication, choose gold

What if you want to reach a diverse crowd?


According to Pantone, rosy tones bring a palette that "reaches out and embraces many different cultures." Pantone said in 2018, print marketing was trending away from pastels and toward bright, bold colors:


"Intense colors seem to be a natural application of our intense lifestyles and thought processes these days."


Storytelling


Storytelling is not just for YouTube.


Print that tells a story can alleviate suspicion and make instant connections, especially with younger audiences.


A Spanish lollipop grabbed this edge with its "ant aversion" ad for Chupa Chups lollipops. While normally a company might bore viewers with guilt trips for sugar-free products, Chupa Chups chose a "visual story" to make their point.


In the print ad, a sticky sucker had been discarded on a rock slab near the lawn. Meanwhile, a triple-wide line of ants detoured around the candy, heading toward the grass. The headline, "It's Sugar Free," brought a resounding finale to this playful story.


Chupa Chups reminds us that print is at its best when it is used as an art. Use vibrant colors, minimalist designs, and personalized print pieces to grab their attention and tell your story this year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

7 Gifts that Delight (But Won't Break the Bank)

Tis the season to be gifting!


What is a gift? A gift is not comprised merely of what is given, but of the thoughtfulness or care that is behind it. A gift is appreciation on wheels.


December is a great time to show your appreciation. Whether it's seasonal incentives, end of the year bonuses, or a just a friendly reminder that you care, here are seven unique (but inexpensive) gifts that your customers or employees will love:


Favorite Flavors


If you have a small staff or a handful of VIP clients, dig up info on the hobby or flavor of their choice (coffee, chocolate, classical guitar) and personalize a basket to their delight.


Or if you know your friends enjoy golf, assemble a kit including items like towels, ball markers, balls, and tees. Use a stylish bag that can clip easily onto their golf bag. Or assemble a sports tote full of goodies featuring a college or professional team of their choice.


Touchscreen Gloves


Gloves are both a necessity and a perk, especially in the touchscreen generation.


Cold weather commutes can be significantly brightened by cozy, oh-so-convenient touchscreen gloves. Your friends can text, browse online, or shuffle music while enjoying this thoughtful gift.


Cord Organizer


Nothing is more frustrating than a stuck zipper. Or a knotted shoe.


Scratch that: nothing is worse than tangled earbuds that take forever to unwind! A branded cord organizer can keep their earbuds (and their sanity!) intact. Choose from a range of colors or upgrade with a set of customized earbuds as well.


Charity of Choice


They say people won't care how much you know until they know how much you care.


Offer a gift that's close to their heart! Ask what your client's most cherished organization or non-profit is, and make a financial gift to this organization on their behalf.


Portable Power Bank


Today's generation is on the run constantly.


Portable power banks allow users to store electrical energy and use it later, charging almost any USB connectable device (cameras, phones, portable speakers, tablets, and more). Great for airports, commuting, or hours "off the grid," power banks are truly a gift that keeps on giving!


Bubble Umbrellas


Whether you walk to work or enjoy singing in the rain, bubble umbrellas are just plain fun!


Give a unique umbrella to protect your friends from rain and wind, covering their face but allowing them to see clearly as they stroll.


Coupon of the Month Club


Want to offer a unique twist this year?


Buy 12 gift card sleeves and label them with the months of the year. Whether you print custom coupons for your business or purchase a variety of gift cards from the community, there is no end to your creative options.


If you are gifting employees, consider paring coffee or restaurant gift cards with workday incentives (i.e. redeem for a half day off work one Friday this month, enjoy in-office chair massages on a staff reward day of the boss's choice). Recipients can decide whether they'll open all 12 envelopes immediately or enjoy a surprise per month in 2019.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

How to Use Customization to Gain Customers

Coca-Cola is a brand built on scenes of enjoying life together.


Coke has worked tirelessly to promote not only its product, but the message behind it: that sharing, or gathering family and friends together, brings happiness. "Enjoying a coke" is the message in every ad, every culture, and every medium Coke communicates through.


The company's 2014 "Share a Coke" campaign was one of its memorable marketing initiatives in history. That summer, Coca-Cola removed its iconic logo on 20-ounce bottles and replaced them with 250 of the country's most popular names. Consumers were encouraged to find bottles with names that held personal meaning and to share them with others or post photos online with the hashtag #ShareaCoke. Within the first year, more than 500,000 photos were posted. Consumers ordered over six million virtual Coke bottles, and Coca-Cola gained roughly 25 million Facebook followers.


A Distinctly Personal Experience


What did Coke tap into that prompted this momentous reaction?


In part, it was the desire for a personal experience. For teens and millennials, personalization is not just a fad, but a way of life. Today's consumers place a high value on self-expression, individual storytelling, and staying connected. Coke powerfully aligned playfulness, fun handheld products, and customization in a campaign for the ages.


In today's global economy, consumers are more aware of product options and of what other people are buying. Subsequently, they've become more demanding about the products they purchase. Deloitte Global found that 36 percent of consumers expressed interest in purchasing personalized products or services and one in five were willing to pay 20 percent more for these options. Customization gives companies an edge in cosmetics, clothing, food prep, and toys, to name a few. 


Personalized offerings add costs to the manufacturer but frequently result in higher profits because of:


  • A price premium associated with the benefits
  • More loyal, satisfied customers
  • Greater word of mouth because of the increased satisfaction and the "surprise factor" associated with an unexpected range of options
  • Enhanced customer experience via creativity and individual expression
  • Precise taste matching and less need to compromise

How About You?


Do your customers value experience and self-expression? How could you offer this more in your products or services?


It may be as simple as engraving someone's name in a glasses case or upgrading products with matching accessories. French cosmetics brand Guerlain started offering customizable lipsticks by allowing clients to choose their own combination of case and lipstick color. Customization allows brands to grow consumer engagement and solidify brand loyalty, which is especially powerful in younger markets.


Forbes offers several talking points for firms considering customization:


  • What are the incremental costs associated with the customization options and how will they impact profitability?
  • How many options are necessary and what's the incremental benefit as the number increases? What price premium will consumers be willing to pay?
  • Which customization options will be the most incremental to maximize sales? A research tool called a TURF (Test of Unduplicated Reach & Frequency) Analysis can help you assess.
  • What level of logistical, operational, and labor complexity will this involve? How often should customization options be updated?

Charlie Gu, CEO and co-founder of marketing agency Kollective Influence, says one budget-friendly customization strategy is the "module" approach. Instead of creating a product from scratch, businesses can offer several component options that can be mass-produced and easily assembled:


"Give customers choices, and then let them choose—customization within a framework," he advises. "It doesn't actually require any customization of the actual product. The consumers are essentially just picking their own color, but to them, it feels totally customized."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Print: Use Faces to Command Viewer Attention

Did you know that humans are the only primates with eyes that contain a white sclera around the dark iris and the pupil?


Consequently, unlike our animal counterparts, we have the ability and tendency to follow each other's eye gaze, to pinpoint precisely what someone is focusing on, and even to read into the emotion behind a viewer's eye. This also gives us an innate ability to sense when we're being looked at or to hastily avert our gaze in awkward moments.


Eye contact plays a crucial role in human communication, and faces have an incredible ability to command a viewer's attention.


Imagine yourself walking down a busy street in a large city where you don't know anyone. Suddenly, among a sea of faces, you spy a family member. Among hundreds of people, you can immediately recognize one individual and you have a strong emotional response.


Why is this experience so powerful?


Scientist Nancy Kanwisher identified a special part of the brain called the fusiform face area (FFA). The FFA allows faces to bypass the brain's usual interpretive channels and helps us identify faces more quickly than objects. Because the FFA is so close to the brain's emotional center (called the amygdala), the time lapse between recognition and response is nearly non-existent.


Faces Add Impact in Marketing


How does this play into marketing and print? First, it's important to recognize the impact of faces so we can prioritize them in design.


Research by Catherine Mondloch (1999) shows that newborn babies less than an hour old prefer looking at something that has facial features. Humans prefer humans, and people buy from people! It would be careless to overlook these statistics while continually deferring to inanimate objects. When you're looking to add that personal touch to your marketing mix, remember faces can help you to:


Connect With People


Large, faceless corporations feel cold and manipulative.


Putting faces on your brand allows people to connect with your audience in a way they can relate to. As you position faces in your ads, remember eyes looking right at people will have the greatest emotional impact, because the eyes are the most significant part of the face.


Create Curiosity


If a face on your poster is gazing toward another spot or product in the margin, people will also tend to track toward that area.


Emotions can be carried from a subject to a viewer as you set a tone within your design. The emotion in the faces you display can draw people to linger at your design or to be drawn deeper into the message.


Cultivate Trust


People react to a photo on a page faster than any other design element, and seeing the people behind a business can establish credibility very quickly.


You can use faces to cultivate trust by using staff profiles on your website, facial photos in welcome displays or high traffic areas, or by utilizing brochures that include testimonials and photos from real customers. If viewers can relate to the people enjoying your product they will automatically build positive associations.


When used properly, the use of people and faces can help you connect with people, create curiosity, and cultivate trust.  Bypass resistance and build connections through the magnetic power of people!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Grow Your Business Through Successful Staffing

Todd Fishman and Hunter Brooks were childhood friends who attended the University of Washington before heading to corporate Manhattan for several years. The friends reconnected in New York, bonding over their love of great salad.


Yes, young men eating salad.


Salads are so trendy that in Manhattan the lines for gourmet salad bars stretch around the block. While waiting in one of these lines, the friends had their "Aha" moment. They looked at each other and said, "This would be killer in Seattle!"


A Quickly Budding Dream


Enter Evergreens healthy food chain, co-founded with their associate Ryan Suddendorf in 2013.


Over five years, Evergreens has seen 200% revenue growth each year, with six stores in Seattle and a projected 11 more by 2019. Evergreens caters and offers salads, wraps, and grain bowls while keeping food fun with names like "Dice-Dice Baby," the "Cobbsby Show," and an Asian mix called "Pear-ly Legal."


While entertaining, Evergreens is rooted in a focused business strategy to ensure the start-up succeeds. Successful staffing has been fundamental as Evergreens has scaled for growth and shaped a positive culture to attract the very best team.


Infrastructure that Keeps Pace with Growth


People are the backbone of every company, and Suddendorf said staffing was lean in the early days.


Chaos abounded, with lines out the door and the three founders acting as the company's only corporate employees.


"It was like changing the car tires on a moving car," said Suddendorf. "There was no time to step back and establish a process and then try to teach it to everybody in the stores."


"We were working in the business rather than on the business," Fishman said. "We were very much in the weeds."


In retrospect, the friends say they would have raised more money upfront and contracted consulting from restaurant specialists or professional staffing agencies. Simultaneously growing a business and a competent staff is like parenting: along with joy and new discoveries, each phase presents greater challenges.


To grow effectively, healthy businesses need to adopt staffing strategies that meet current needs but also anticipate the future. Since Evergreen's early days, Brooks says great people have been key to scaling growth without sacrificing quality. The founders gave intense focus to its corporate team in 2015, bringing on a COO and aggressively hiring HR, business development, IT and accounting specialists shortly afterward.


"There's part art, part science to staffing the corporate team when your store count is growing," said Brookes. "Sometimes you're going to be a little heavier on the corporate overhead, and sometimes you're going to be a little leaner."


Attracting Engaged, Competent Employees


People are your company's biggest asset, and engaged employees can give your business a huge advantage.


Finding and maintaining great staff requires a people-focused approach. As you develop short and long-term staffing goals, hiring should align with your business objectives.


Whether you want to expand certain sectors, launch new products, or grow online visibility, your hiring strategy should be totally in sync with these objectives. While you proactively work toward long-term objectives, temporary or contract staff may provide the essential support you need for specialized projects, seasonal rushes, or particular areas of expertise.


Evergreens strives to grow a brand that generates inbound applications versus actively recruiting staff. This means prioritizing a supportive, energizing work environment that includes above minimum wage pay, free employee meals for each shift, and $40 monthly bonuses for employees who lead healthy, active lifestyles.


Suddendorf says the company also makes a point of promoting employees to maximize unity and momentum:


 "About half our corporate team started in our stores."