Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Four Savvy Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content (Part 3)

In the age of visual brilliance and short-lived attention spans, sometimes we wonder if content really counts. But no matter how glamorous the graphics, they simply cannot stand alone. (Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto, right?) Today, we’re looking at part three of this question: How do you write exceptional copy? Content that commands attention, arouses interest, or compels people to action? Last week, we discussed slogans and sensory appeal. Today we’ll consider one final, fun technique.


4. Jaw-Dropping Surprises


Remember the “no way!” stunner at the end of The Usual Suspects? Kevin Spacey shakes off his signature limp and strides to freedom as his police interrogator gradually realizes Spacey is a mastermind killer who lied brilliantly for hours. Or remember how your jaw dropped when Darth Vader revealed he was Luke’s father? While these movie plots were phenomenal, the surprise factor was what drove them home.


That same principle applies in writing. As Chip and Dan Heath discuss in their book “Made to Stick,” our brains filter out consistency to focus on differences. Marketing “surprises” may include splashy headlines, shocking graphics that bring your message to life, or a story that encapsulates a core message.


In 2009, copywriter James Chartrand of a prominent website design company “Men with Pens,” dropped a bombshell on the writing world with this plot twist:


“Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants.”


Chartrand went on to reveal that SHE was actually a (literal) woman, a woman who had previously struggled as a freelance writer and single mom. As she labored to gain credibility, she decided to experiment with a male pseudonym, and quickly found her blog in Micheal Stelzner’s list of the Top Ten Blogs for Writers. Chartrand’s biography post was brilliant, authentic, and fun. But the surprise factor (that “he” was really a “she”) was the kicker that kept people talking about the company for years.


While you may not be able to drop a bombshell in all your copy, you can upend reader expectations in three other ways:


First, break the norm whenever you can. Offer unconventional advice, provide simple techniques or little-known shortcuts, or use angles you would normally avoid (like blatant typos in upscale literary magazines like we mentioned in part one). In life, and especially in art, people crave the unexpected. Surprise people consistently and you will be rewarded! 


Second, defy expectations. Writers can do this is with odd pairings or disrupted patterns. For example, serene words like spa, relax, and peace can be disrupted by words like devastate or scandalize. Avoid traditional clichés (knight in shining armor, white as snow) in favor of words that overhaul expectations. A spa ad could feature odd word combinations like scandalizing serenity, gluttonous, self-gratification, or services that are devastatingly delicious. Surprise them as you shatter clichés or use tonal dissonance that is abrasive to the ears.


Finally, build a logical flow and then intentionally disrupt it. Check out these “surprise factor” car advertisements that perfectly illustrate the point. A romance spoiled. A hero thwarted. Ridiculous ideas grab us as things are placed out of context (like dogs driving a car). As you watch these clips, consider what you thought was going to happen versus what actually happened. Pay attention to the emotion you experienced when the surprise was unveiled. Did you enjoy it? Of course you did! And you’ll remember it longer as a result.


Whether it’s a plot twist, shattered clichés, or unexpected humor, readers crave fresh content and they will thank you for providing it. Now go create some surprises of your own!

Monday, June 25, 2018

How to Bring in Trade Show Traffic

Picture this: it's three weeks before your next trade show, and you're no closer to formulating a plan of attack. Last year, the public milling about your booth was polite but lackluster. Your IT business may not be the most exciting one at the trade show, but you know you can do better. The good news is that you can. Here are some unique things you can combine with your print marketing efforts for maximum trade show results: 


Look for Ways to Be Different


A company in Los Angeles called Finders Key Purse found they got the notice they wanted at trade shows by thinking slightly outside the box. Their product was aimed to make it easier for women to find their keys in their overflowing purses. Because they wanted to market their product primarily to college women, they decided to dress up as cheerleaders to make their booth both themed and identifiable. 


The tactic had nothing to do with looking like a group of sorority sisters. The actual staff of the company was mostly composed of older women. With tennis shoes and silly outfits, they looked fun, friendly, and focused. You certainly don't have to dress up as cheerleaders to gain attention to your IT booth. But you may want to come up with a way to give your company a fresh makeover when it comes to your trade shows. Clothing is one major way that you can set your company apart, but it's certainly not the only way. 


Stock Up on Freebies


Trade show freebies are some of the best parts of going to a trade show. Practically every company is giving out some type of gadget or item with their name splayed all over it. These are a great way to get noticed because it provides immediate gratification and keeps your company name front and center.


And of course, you're going to need a friendly staff and excellent printed materials. Once you hook people in with a little gimmick, you have the opportunity to introduce your business and give people an idea of how you can really help them get where they're going. 

How to Bring in Trade Show Traffic

Picture this: it's three weeks before your next trade show, and you're no closer to formulating a plan of attack. Last year, the public milling about your booth was polite but lackluster. Your IT business may not be the most exciting one at the trade show, but you know you can do better. The good news is that you can. Here are some unique things you can combine with your print marketing efforts for maximum trade show results: 


Look for Ways to Be Different


A company in Los Angeles called Finders Key Purse found they got the notice they wanted at trade shows by thinking slightly outside the box. Their product was aimed to make it easier for women to find their keys in their overflowing purses. Because they wanted to market their product primarily to college women, they decided to dress up as cheerleaders to make their booth both themed and identifiable. 


The tactic had nothing to do with looking like a group of sorority sisters. The actual staff of the company was mostly composed of older women. With tennis shoes and silly outfits, they looked fun, friendly, and focused. You certainly don't have to dress up as cheerleaders to gain attention to your IT booth. But you may want to come up with a way to give your company a fresh makeover when it comes to your trade shows. Clothing is one major way that you can set your company apart, but it's certainly not the only way. 


Stock Up on Freebies


Trade show freebies are some of the best parts of going to a trade show. Practically every company is giving out some type of gadget or item with their name splayed all over it. These are a great way to get noticed because it provides immediate gratification and keeps your company name front and center.


And of course, you're going to need a friendly staff and excellent printed materials. Once you hook people in with a little gimmick, you have the opportunity to introduce your business and give people an idea of how you can really help them get where they're going. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Get Proactive With These Summer Marketing Ideas for Outdoor Events

With school ending and summer starting, adults and children alike will be spending as much time as possible outdoors at home and community events. In most locations, summer weekends are chock full of local and regional events that attract a wide array of people. Some events attract local residents of a community or region, while larger events can bring tourists into an area for a few hours, day or an entire weekend.


Summertime creates both opportunities and challenges for marketing to clients. While you may have more opportunities to provide products and materials for events, getting customers to walk in your front door is more difficult. Customers who like to participate in summer activities spend as much time as possible out of doors including taking vacations, days off and leaving early. So how do you take advantage of summertime doings instead of having them take advantage of you?


Opportunities


Let's start with the opportunities. Since people are out and about during summer at farmer's markets, fairs and concerts, you may run into clients in one or more of these casual setting simply by participating in them yourself. You should always be ready to hand out marketing materials everywhere you go, especially if most of your clients are local. Fill a pouch or tote with apropos marketing handouts for people you meet when out. Handouts should be family-friendly and summer appropriate such as:


  • Water bottles

  • Water toys

  • Lip Balm

  • Sunscreen

  • Visors

  • Hats

If you give out marketing items that people actually will use in the summer, they will love getting them which puts your contact information in front of them for at least that day. Parents will also love anything that you hand out to occupy their children's time such as foam fingers or other toys.


Beat the Heat


If handing out materials isn't appropriate for an event, another idea is setting up a mister tent to help people beat the heat. In fact, handheld fans, water bottles (with water in them), squirt guns and other products that help people cool off will always be appreciated by prospects. Just be sure that your logo and contact information is big and bold. Misters are so delightful during hot summer events that they are very popular with all ages. To engage prospects, hand them small towels with your logo and information to dry off after they get wet.


Keeping Drinks Cool


For food events, cup or can holders that insulate are a fantastic handout. Arrange with food vendors to give them to every customer that gets a drink. Or create event promotional materials such as cups that have a coupon imprinted on them. The ultimate goal is to invite people into your brick-and-mortar business or visit your website, so a coupon offer for a free or discounted service is ideal for giveaways.


Challenges


The biggest challenge for marketers during summertime is to drive customers indoors to your business. People are inclined to spend time outside during warm weather. Additionally, customers may be out of the office for a significant number of days and can't be reached. Therefore, it is important to think outside the box creatively to find prospects and offer them an incentive that will overcome their reluctance to come in. Every locale has one or more special events unique to that area. Go out of your office to where you will find crowds of people and offer them something that they can't wait to use.

Get Proactive With These Summer Marketing Ideas for Outdoor Events

With school ending and summer starting, adults and children alike will be spending as much time as possible outdoors at home and community events. In most locations, summer weekends are chock full of local and regional events that attract a wide array of people. Some events attract local residents of a community or region, while larger events can bring tourists into an area for a few hours, day or an entire weekend.


Summertime creates both opportunities and challenges for marketing to clients. While you may have more opportunities to provide products and materials for events, getting customers to walk in your front door is more difficult. Customers who like to participate in summer activities spend as much time as possible out of doors including taking vacations, days off and leaving early. So how do you take advantage of summertime doings instead of having them take advantage of you?


Opportunities


Let's start with the opportunities. Since people are out and about during summer at farmer's markets, fairs and concerts, you may run into clients in one or more of these casual setting simply by participating in them yourself. You should always be ready to hand out marketing materials everywhere you go, especially if most of your clients are local. Fill a pouch or tote with apropos marketing handouts for people you meet when out. Handouts should be family-friendly and summer appropriate such as:


  • Water bottles

  • Water toys

  • Lip Balm

  • Sunscreen

  • Visors

  • Hats

If you give out marketing items that people actually will use in the summer, they will love getting them which puts your contact information in front of them for at least that day. Parents will also love anything that you hand out to occupy their children's time such as foam fingers or other toys.


Beat the Heat


If handing out materials isn't appropriate for an event, another idea is setting up a mister tent to help people beat the heat. In fact, handheld fans, water bottles (with water in them), squirt guns and other products that help people cool off will always be appreciated by prospects. Just be sure that your logo and contact information is big and bold. Misters are so delightful during hot summer events that they are very popular with all ages. To engage prospects, hand them small towels with your logo and information to dry off after they get wet.


Keeping Drinks Cool


For food events, cup or can holders that insulate are a fantastic handout. Arrange with food vendors to give them to every customer that gets a drink. Or create event promotional materials such as cups that have a coupon imprinted on them. The ultimate goal is to invite people into your brick-and-mortar business or visit your website, so a coupon offer for a free or discounted service is ideal for giveaways.


Challenges


The biggest challenge for marketers during summertime is to drive customers indoors to your business. People are inclined to spend time outside during warm weather. Additionally, customers may be out of the office for a significant number of days and can't be reached. Therefore, it is important to think outside the box creatively to find prospects and offer them an incentive that will overcome their reluctance to come in. Every locale has one or more special events unique to that area. Go out of your office to where you will find crowds of people and offer them something that they can't wait to use.

Get Proactive With These Summer Marketing Ideas for Outdoor Events

With school ending and summer starting, adults and children alike will be spending as much time as possible outdoors at home and community events. In most locations, summer weekends are chock full of local and regional events that attract a wide array of people. Some events attract local residents of a community or region, while larger events can bring tourists into an area for a few hours, day or an entire weekend.


Summertime creates both opportunities and challenges for marketing to clients. While you may have more opportunities to provide products and materials for events, getting customers to walk in your front door is more difficult. Customers who like to participate in summer activities spend as much time as possible out of doors including taking vacations, days off and leaving early. So how do you take advantage of summertime doings instead of having them take advantage of you?


Opportunities


Let's start with the opportunities. Since people are out and about during summer at farmer's markets, fairs and concerts, you may run into clients in one or more of these casual setting simply by participating in them yourself. You should always be ready to hand out marketing materials everywhere you go, especially if most of your clients are local. Fill a pouch or tote with apropos marketing handouts for people you meet when out. Handouts should be family-friendly and summer appropriate such as:


  • Water bottles

  • Water toys

  • Lip Balm

  • Sunscreen

  • Visors

  • Hats

If you give out marketing items that people actually will use in the summer, they will love getting them which puts your contact information in front of them for at least that day. Parents will also love anything that you hand out to occupy their children's time such as foam fingers or other toys.


Beat the Heat


If handing out materials isn't appropriate for an event, another idea is setting up a mister tent to help people beat the heat. In fact, handheld fans, water bottles (with water in them), squirt guns and other products that help people cool off will always be appreciated by prospects. Just be sure that your logo and contact information is big and bold. Misters are so delightful during hot summer events that they are very popular with all ages. To engage prospects, hand them small towels with your logo and information to dry off after they get wet.


Keeping Drinks Cool


For food events, cup or can holders that insulate are a fantastic handout. Arrange with food vendors to give them to every customer that gets a drink. Or create event promotional materials such as cups that have a coupon imprinted on them. The ultimate goal is to invite people into your brick-and-mortar business or visit your website, so a coupon offer for a free or discounted service is ideal for giveaways.


Challenges


The biggest challenge for marketers during summertime is to drive customers indoors to your business. People are inclined to spend time outside during warm weather. Additionally, customers may be out of the office for a significant number of days and can't be reached. Therefore, it is important to think outside the box creatively to find prospects and offer them an incentive that will overcome their reluctance to come in. Every locale has one or more special events unique to that area. Go out of your office to where you will find crowds of people and offer them something that they can't wait to use.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Branding Equity: What It Is and How to Build It

Carl is a business owner who is experiencing firsthand just how much the internet has revolutionized the consumer buying process. It used to be that a simple look at your products' features was enough to sway consumers to make a purchase. But now, it's all about the brand. In fact, Carl's brand has become his most valuable asset. That is why he is doing all that he can to build his brand equity and distinguish himself from his competition. 


What is brand equity?


Brand equity is what your business is worth without its inventory. Or, more simply stated, it's about how valuable your brand is in the eyes of consumers and the relationships that you have with your customers. 


To build brand equity, you must leave a lasting, positive impression regarding your brand in the minds of consumers. Your products and services and their demand and usefulness, of course, play a role in how well you can satisfy your customers, but they alone do not generate brand equity. 


Top Tips for Using Marketing to Build Brand Equity


The steps outlined below are not in any particular order. They are three examples of essential steps that Carl has used to build brand equity, and each of them is an ongoing process. You don't build brand equity overnight, and then suddenly get to take a vacation. You must work at creating this type of equity on a daily basis just like Carl has done.


1. Release Information About a New Product


You can have a quality product that you know consumers will want to purchase, but they have to know about it first. This is why you should always distribute information about your products. Whether it be creating a product brochure or a how-to guide that goes into the packaging of a new product, you will want to provide as much detail as possible. In fact, Carl has found that the more in-depth and more detailed his brochures and how-to guides are, the more engaged his customers are.


2. Monitor Trends and Perform a Competitive Analysis


Building brand equity means you can adapt to changes as they occur, especially changes related to new trends that hit the marketplace. The best way to monitor trends is to keep a close eye on Google searches. You will also want to perform a competitive analysis to see how your competitors are keeping up with the latest trends. Chances are, you can benefit from employing many of the same tactics your competitors are using. Carl, for example, performed a competitive analysis and discovered three of his competitors were enjoying an increase in sales by offering seasonal discounts. Carl then went to a local print shop and had 1,000 business cards printed with a discount code on the back. Over the period of six months, the discount generated an eight percent increase in his sales. 


3. Collect, Use and Distribute Customer Feedback


Lastly, since brand equity is all about how you appear in the eyes and minds of consumers, you will want to use their feedback and respond to it appropriately. Carl publishes his customers' feedback in the brochures and how-to guides he creates. Customer testimonials have been proven to be a huge asset in generating sales.