Tuesday, June 30, 2020

5 Thoughtful Strategies for Advertising During the Pandemic

If you’re like many people, you’ve probably been more conservative in your spending lately.


Recent research shows that, during the pandemic, many people were rationing food to save on expenses and grocery runs, and 23% of people were eating more plant-based meals. Discretionary spending has decreased, and consumers are shifting to digital solutions and reduced-contact channels to receive services.


On a larger scale, consumers worldwide say they expect the pandemic to affect their routines or spending for at least two to four months.


A Shift in Content and Scope


In recent months, many companies have shifted the scope and content of their marketing efforts as well.


Instead of pushing products and promotions, proactive businesses have focused on building relationships and adding humanness to their brand, including inspirational direct mail newsletters, heartfelt emails, and down-to-earth videos.


In one example, eBay championed small businesses that power the nation with its “Stronger as One” ad. Other companies highlighted safety changes and customer convenience options, like this “Call In / Pull In / Pick Up” curbside delivery ad:


“During these challenging times, we are here for you. We are making changes moment by moment to ensure the safety of our customers and employees. And what matters most is doing this together, for the community that we all call home.”


A Vision for Marketing Beyond COVID-19


Beyond connecting and empathizing, what is next for marketing beyond coronavirus?


For starters, you’ll need a commitment to move forward. Research shows that 92% of consumers believe brands need to keep advertising. Ads offer people a glimpse at a prosperous future or something hopeful to look forward, and your marketing gives people a welcome taste of distraction, entertainment, and normalcy.


Also, if the firms competing against you have lowered their ad output, now is a great time for you to invest more. As others scale back, your ads are more visible, allowing you to gather leads with a lower cost-per-acquisition.


And even if the economy seems shaky, pulling back now may actually lengthen the time it takes you to recover. If you need to tighten expenses, don’t turn off your marketing. Instead, look at ways you can rethink intake, client services, or business expenses in general.


Need some concrete marketing ideas? Here are five types of ads to consider:


1. A Product Focus


Showcase how your product is safe, accessible, or helps people strengthen their health or physical well-being.


2. A People Focus


Show prospects you care about them and that your business is standing with them during this time. This Fitbit ad offers its premium package for 90 days to help people work out at home, manage stress, and eat and sleep better during COVID-19: “Thank you for doing what you can. We’re all in this together.”


3. A Values Focus


Here you might feature positive company values or champion the solidarity and togetherness of your community.


4. A Nostalgia Focus


When things feel uncertain, old songs or vintage photos can bypass the brain and connect straight to the heart.


5. A Humor Focus


While being sensitive to people’s pain, you can still connect with your audience through humor during challenging seasons. Encourage people to laugh at their weaknesses or make the most of this strange season, like this Ben & Jerry’s “Netflix and Chill’d” campaign.


Though it may seem counterintuitive to up your print output today, now is the time to invest in a strong comeback after COVID-19.


With today’s carefully crafted message, you can ahead of shifting customer needs and shape people’s long-term expectations. As your partner in print, we are open, and we are ready to help! Contact us today to visit more.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Coordinate Every Brand Touchpoint to Optimize Customer Journeys

What turns you away from a website, advertisement, or a company?


Perhaps it’s the message itself or the way a brand is presented. Sometimes the information is just too scattered, time-consuming, or confusing! Today’s consumers face a barrage of competing messages, so each intersection between a customer and your business is critical.


These points of contact, or touchpoints, represent points of interaction with a customer or a prospect at any stage of their customer journey. Touchpoints provide you critical opportunities to engage leads, build brand awareness, address concerns, market products or services, or to tell your story.


Building an End-to-End Customer Experience


Grouping touchpoints chronologically can be helpful as it allows you to see things from an outside perspective.


Here are just a handful of touchpoints:


  • Social Media Campaigns

  • Print Advertisements

  • Company Events

  • Product Catalogs

  • Conversations with Company Representatives

  • Landing Pages

  • Professional Website

  • Point of Sale Displays

  • Cross-Sales Promotions

  • Thank You Letters or Post-Purchase Surveys

  • Customer Support Services

  • Newsletter Subscriptions

  • Loyalty Programs

Are you looking for creative options for your customer touchpoints? This is where things can get really fun! Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:



  • One bicycle shop printed metal business cards that doubled as a pedal wrench.

  • One cosmetics company found that engaging online shoppers with a chat box boosted sales by 20 percent.

  • One home builder sent direct-mail testimonials from satisfied clients to leads who had inquired through digital channels.

  • For one promotion, Nike packaged its Nike Air Max shoes in clear plastic wrapping that made it appear as if the shoes were floating inside a bubble.

  • To highlight the space-saving benefits of home organization, one Ikea store painted its main staircase as a chest of drawers, with objects inside each “step” perfectly organized.

Evaluating and Improving Your Touchpoints


Many businesses overlook the power of coordinated touchpoints.


But put yourself in a client’s shoes. When you are engaging with a business, you enter each interaction with the assumption you can ask questions, receive support, or weigh costs and benefits for a potential purchase. As you take progressive steps, you are met with intentional, friendly, and helpful responses. Does this increase your chance of making a commitment? Absolutely!


Simply having a touchpoint in place is no longer an option. Rather, each touchpoint must perfectly represent your brand, offering a cohesive, captivating message. How can you be sure each point optimizes, satisfies, or invites? Here are three steps to consider:


1. LIST


List all your current touchpoints, including websites, e-mails, customer service, direct mail, etc.


2. EVALUATE


Use objective observers to give an unbiased review of each touchpoint.


This process of discovery enables you to find “weak links” and make necessary corrections.


3. TAKE ACTION


Overcome deficits by viewing weak touchpoints as opportunities for growth.


After listing and evaluating touchpoints, now take a customer-centered understanding of what’s working and what’s not. Excellent touchpoints should be relevant to customer needs, endearing in a way that builds emotional connection or increases interest, and appropriate to the greater context of the interaction.


Evaluating and enhancing your touchpoints will sharpen communication and help move people seamlessly toward a point of purchase. Build an end-to-end customer experience that unifies your brand message and optimizes every customer experience!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

5 Tips for a Successful Video Conference

Generation Z is the demographic cohort born between the mid-to-late 1990s and around 2010.


Affectionately known as “Zoomers,” Gen Z individuals are technologically advanced (having never seen a world without internet), perceive information best through visuals, and absorb tons of new information daily. Zoomers are quick to learn and adept with technology, which is something we’re all being challenged to do in this pandemic season!


Best Practices for Managing Meetings Remotely


Perhaps you’ve recently become a “Zoomer” yourself: video-conferencing for the first time or managing the majority of your business remotely.


Whether you’re a tech pro or you are brand new to online meetings, everyone faces video-based communication challenges. Here are a few tips to make your online meetings a bit better:


1. Put Your Best Foot Forward


Often when we’re at home, we get a bit slumpy with our hygiene.


Before your meeting, take a minute to freshen up and to inspect your viewing area. Make sure the light is shining toward you (not from behind you) and that you sit in front of plain walls or more simple backgrounds. Some platforms will also allow you to enable HD options and click a “touch up my appearance” feature, which can smooth out wrinkles and blemishes in a flattering way.


2. Test in Advance


Before starting your meeting, preview your audio settings.


If you’re just using your laptop speaker and microphone, there’s not much to adjust. But if you’ve got a mic-headset combo you’d like to use, make sure it’s the audio is selected for both the Speaker and Microphone options before you start your call.


3. Have Participants Mute Themselves


When people aren’t speaking, their microphones can pick up minor background noises like chewing, sniffles, or typing.


Even laughter from meeting participants can break up the audio flow, so ask people to mute themselves whenever they’re not talking.


4. Designate a Moderator 


The 2019 State of Remote Work report found that interruptions and being talked over are two of the biggest challenges for remote meetings.


To maximize group discussion, it’s best if a moderator calls on people individually and asks others to hold comments unless they indicate they’d like to speak. Some software has a “raise hand” feature, or you can establish on-camera signals that indicate when participants are ready to share. Chat boxes can also be used to type comments.


Finally, consider saving 10 minutes at the end of the meeting for additional comments or questions.


5. Have Some Fun


Part of the enjoyment of work is social connections.


“When you are used to being in person and have to be online, build in room for chitchat,” says Erica Kuhl, a consultant who has devoted years to nurturing online training communities.


Research shows that if employees don’t have a rich, welcoming online experience, their long-term engagement will drop significantly. Leave 15 minutes at the beginning of meetings for participants to introduce themselves, to share a personal highlight, or to enjoy some lighthearted banter. By building this in, you’ll have a more productive meeting overall.


Video Conferencing is Here to Stay


Now that we’ve gotten a taste for video conferencing, it may be here to stay.


Eighty percent of executives say video conferencing is taking over as the go-to form of internal team communication, and some predict that 50% of people will work remotely after 2020.


Being on top of your video conferencing game is essential, so use this season to master the technique, and you will reap the benefits in the future.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

How to Determine Optimal Pricing for Your Products or Services

In September of 2019, Apple unveiled the iPhone 11, featuring a dual-lens rear camera, automated night mode, and built-in support for vision, hearing, and mobility.


One of the biggest surprises of the iPhone 11 was not its technical features, but its price. The iPhone 11 started at $699, down from the iPhone XR’s previous price of $749, and signaling one of the biggest year-on-year reductions in iPhone history. Apple also implemented $150 cuts on products like the iPhone 8 and the Apple Watch. Tech specialists were quick to comment:


“The biggest news from the Apple launch was the price cut for iPhone 11,” Chris Caso, an analyst at Raymond James and Associates, wrote in a note to investors. “We view this as an admission that Apple stretched too far with the price points at last year’s launch.”


Apple executives were not afraid to adjust pricing to current customers, especially knowing it may encourage upgrades or woo digital streaming subscribers. Lowering prices also increased the likelihood of up-selling related products: people who buy iPhones are far more likely to purchase iPads or AirPods.


Pricing that is “Just Right”


What is the best strategy for pricing the products or services you sell?


At first glance, this question seems pretty straightforward. But in reality, pricing is an art. Pricing well can enhance sales and create a prospering business, while the wrong approach can alienate customers and give competitors the edge.


There are a variety of pricing strategies in business, with some psychological influences in the approach you take. Here are four models to consider.


1. Cost-Based Pricing


The most straightforward pricing strategy is “cost-plus” pricing.


This involves calculating the total costs it takes to make your product, then adding a markup to determine the final price. This method is simple, fast, and lets you quickly add a profit margin to any product.


2. Market-Oriented Pricing


Market-oriented pricing starts from a cost-based perspective but adjusts pricing up or down with an eye on the competition and the customer.


For example, after comparing your products to similar items on the market, you can consciously price your products higher and brand your products as “best-quality” or “better performing.” Conversely, companies that price products low can lure more customers or sell large volumes that easily compensate for slim profit margins.


3. Discounts and Markdowns


Discount pricing is a strategy where items are initially marked high but then sold at a seemingly reduced cost to the consumer. 


This can be especially effective during seasonal demand, inventory liquidation, or when marketing to value-oriented purchasers.


4. Flex Pricing


Flex pricing (or dynamic pricing) allows businesses to manipulate sales based on current market demands.


Flex pricing is at its best on big retail days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but can also be linked to timebound marketing strategies. Similar to what many sports teams and airlines do with ticket prices, you can manipulate prices up or down in a timebound fashion.


Coupons are another way to discretely provide dynamic pricing to a subset of prospects or customers. This allows you to attract new users or build momentum during seasonal promotions while remaining profitable.


Dynamic pricing can be challenging but worthwhile. In 2013, Walmart used flex pricing to change the prices of its products almost 50,000 times a month, and with this pricing model, its global sales grew by 30 percent!


Adjust as You Go


You have a great deal of flexibility in how you set prices.


And the good news is this: there is no surefire method to pricing things “just right.” Consider the current pandemic situation, your target customers, eyeball the competition, and hone your marketing to match the pricing strategy you pursue. Experiment, adjust, and see what works for your business.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Five Strategies to Use Your "Quaran-TIME" Effectively

Mike Turner founded the Front Street Brokers real estate firm in 2005, with a desire to offer distinctive client experiences, to equip agents for the maximum efficiency and profitability, and to devote significant firm resources to a local, philanthropic focus.


After three years, Turner’s firm experienced a significant slowdown during the 2008 financial crisis. This was a time of immense strain, especially when scheduled closings dried up before his eyes:


“In that time period, we had 10 real estate transactions scheduled to close, and nine of them fell through for unforeseeable reasons,” Turner said. “All of a sudden, $100,000 worth of business income that we were dependent upon [was] gone.” 


Turner faced difficult choices in this season, and many of us are facing similar decisions in today’s COVID-19 crisis. Today, Turner says that while change is inevitable, he knows we still have a choice. Will we allow unforeseen challenges to drag us downstream, or will we improvise to find a way across the river?


Five Strategies to Use Your “Quaran-TIME” Effectively


Anyone can become a victim when change comes fast and forcefully.


Sudden change is scary, and though we may not be able to swim upstream, we can still strategize and seek active growth. What are some ways your business can grow during this difficult period?


Use Social Media to Connect with Customers


Try a more animated touch through social media. If subscribers are opening your emails, they are expressing genuine interest. Take these customer relationships to the next level by including embedded videos or links to caring content you’ve posted on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.


Answer Questions or Position Yourself as a Helper


As you reach out to subscribers, ask if they have any questions or respond to challenges you know they have. Take an interest in the content they post as well – comment on it, share it with your followers, or start real conversations. Connecting to clients now will form a personal bond that lasts longer than the COVID-19 crisis.


Stretch Your Team’s Skills


When activity wanes, morale often follows. Invigorate employees by offering on-going education tools, professional mentoring within your team, or problem-solving workshops that mobilize groups to tackle some of your most ambitious goals. If your company lacks online meeting capabilities, this is a great chance to preview options like Zoom or Google Hangouts.


Do Some Spring Cleaning


While the pace is reduced, give focused attention to your internal atmosphere. Whether you need to spruce up workspaces or sort through old files, redeem the time by getting organized. This may also be a great time to refresh decor, business cards, or your website, or to involve your team in designing new content for newsletters and videos.


Express Gratitude


In hard times, a warm word goes a long way, and this can shift your own perspective from negativity to hope. Take time to say thanks to customers with handwritten notes, personal videos, or future discount options. Whether you plan a summer reunion party or make appreciation phone calls, prioritizing gratitude will make you a better entrepreneur in the long run.


Change Course, but Don’t Quit!


They say that genius is just persistence in disguise.


In tough times it’s ok to be discouraged, but it’s not ok to quit. Be proactive in this season, and keep taking the steps you can to inch ahead. New paths are, by definition, uncleared. But persistence and positivity are your most valuable assets as you journey toward hope.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Responsible Marketing During COVID-19

Fear. Stress. Helplessness.


Whether you’re caring for elderly parents or homeschooling your kids, people across the globe are struggling with big emotions during the COVID-19 situation.


How do you lead well in times like these? While daily leadership is essential for your business, crisis moments reveal the quality of your vision like nothing else. And while you may be exhausted or overwhelmed, now is not the time to push pause on your leadership. What are the “next best steps” you can take in this hour of uncertainty?


1. Increase the Frequency of Communication


During hard times, the frequency of communication should go through the roof.


Even if you have bad news, it’s important to acknowledge this ASAP. While you may not have all the details, a prompt announcement can minimize speculation, reassure panicked contacts, and let people know that you are proactively addressing each challenge.


2. Be Authentic


Now, more than ever, people are craving connection.


Since many of your customers and subscribers are working from the kitchen table, this is an important chance to re-tool your communication. Get in touch with your own feeling of isolation and use this to inform your messaging. From email communication to print mailings, review all your messages through the lens of people who are stuck at home. Ditch the corporate-speak and seek a more human tone for your brand, and use this framework to empower empathy while focusing on others’ needs.


3. Break Up the Depressive Mindset


All of us need a break from 24/7 bad news. So, how can you bring positivity in this hour?


Noting the deluge of video-conferencing, Audi of America recently launched a series of specially curated images to serve as a glamorous backdrop in virtual meeting rooms. Now enthusiasts can bring their favorite Audi with them to their next conference call or virtual happy hour, and Audi plans to release new images weekly. Simple pleasures make a big difference in tough moments!


Now, make it personal. How can you sound a note of joy or generosity today? Could you post a funny video, release a helpful blog, highlight hero stories, or offer incentives that benefit customers or people on the front lines?


Or look at your own product mix and ask: “what could I change to help my customers?” Do you have a paid or premium service that you could offer for free to help people get by over the next few months?


4. Sow Seeds of Honor


When you look at your schedule today, things seem rather quiet and eerie.


Companies of all sizes have sent people home, and every distraction has been silenced. While the coronavirus has ushered in strange times for all, good leaders won’t just hunker down. Instead, it’s time to push back with a different spirit.


In an age of mocking and disdain, today is a great day to show respect and gratitude. Whether personally or professionally, use this forced pause to repair a strained relationship, to say thank you, or to serve others. Make that difficult phone call. Donate blood or serve at your local food pantry. Show public or private appreciation for your leaders. And appreciate people who don’t deserve it (despite their inadequacies).


As you honor people, they will honor others. Perhaps this is a chance to shift the atmosphere and proactively build honor into the fabric of your network. As a leader, you WILL set the pace for others.


Connection is the New Currency


Though today’s challenges are extreme, it’s important to remember they’re only temporary.


It may not be easy, but many of us will come out of this stronger. Though it may feel that the waves are continuing to rise, take heart. Prioritize connection, and the uncharted waters can be parted in order to lead you toward a prosperous future and a newfound hope. 

Responsible Marketing During COVID-19

Fear. Stress. Helplessness.


Whether you’re caring for elderly parents or homeschooling your kids, people across the globe are struggling with big emotions during the COVID-19 situation.


How do you lead well in times like these? While daily leadership is essential for your business, crisis moments reveal the quality of your vision like nothing else. And while you may be exhausted or overwhelmed, now is not the time to push pause on your leadership. What are the “next best steps” you can take in this hour of uncertainty?


1. Increase the Frequency of Communication


During hard times, the frequency of communication should go through the roof.


Even if you have bad news, it’s important to acknowledge this ASAP. While you may not have all the details, a prompt announcement can minimize speculation, reassure panicked contacts, and let people know that you are proactively addressing each challenge.


2. Be Authentic


Now, more than ever, people are craving connection.


Since many of your customers and subscribers are working from the kitchen table, this is an important chance to re-tool your communication. Get in touch with your own feeling of isolation and use this to inform your messaging. From email communication to print mailings, review all your messages through the lens of people who are stuck at home. Ditch the corporate-speak and seek a more human tone for your brand, and use this framework to empower empathy while focusing on others’ needs.


3. Break Up the Depressive Mindset


All of us need a break from 24/7 bad news. So, how can you bring positivity in this hour?


Noting the deluge of video-conferencing, Audi of America recently launched a series of specially curated images to serve as a glamorous backdrop in virtual meeting rooms. Now enthusiasts can bring their favorite Audi with them to their next conference call or virtual happy hour, and Audi plans to release new images weekly. Simple pleasures make a big difference in tough moments!


Now, make it personal. How can you sound a note of joy or generosity today? Could you post a funny video, release a helpful blog, highlight hero stories, or offer incentives that benefit customers or people on the front lines?


Or look at your own product mix and ask: “what could I change to help my customers?” Do you have a paid or premium service that you could offer for free to help people get by over the next few months?


4. Sow Seeds of Honor


When you look at your schedule today, things seem rather quiet and eerie.


Companies of all sizes have sent people home, and every distraction has been silenced. While the coronavirus has ushered in strange times for all, good leaders won’t just hunker down. Instead, it’s time to push back with a different spirit.


In an age of mocking and disdain, today is a great day to show respect and gratitude. Whether personally or professionally, use this forced pause to repair a strained relationship, to say thank you, or to serve others. Make that difficult phone call. Donate blood or serve at your local food pantry. Show public or private appreciation for your leaders. And appreciate people who don’t deserve it (despite their inadequacies).


As you honor people, they will honor others. Perhaps this is a chance to shift the atmosphere and proactively build honor into the fabric of your network. As a leader, you WILL set the pace for others.


Connection is the New Currency


Though today’s challenges are extreme, it’s important to remember they’re only temporary.


It may not be easy, but many of us will come out of this stronger. Though it may feel that the waves are continuing to rise, take heart. Prioritize connection, and the uncharted waters can be parted in order to lead you toward a prosperous future and a newfound hope.