Get a Grip

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Channellock and Do it Best are both iconic American brands in their own right, and a recent exclusive partnership between the two has produced a family of exciting new products. When Do it Best Corp. wanted to launch a new Channellock-branded line of products, we helped them get a grip on the situation.

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Specifically, Do it Best Corp. was preparing to launch a new line of Channellock-branded ratchets, sockets and wrenches at its semi-annual buying market this past October. You only get one chance to make a first impression, as the saying goes, so this launch was particularly important in driving excitement and interest among the co-op’s members to carry the new line in their locations around the world.

To explain and introduce the new line, we developed an informative, appealing new brochure, as well as high-visibility signage and promotional materials for the market floor. Each piece carried over the famous Channellock brand while explaining all of the new products available in the lineup, as well as their high quality and consumer appeal.

With the new marketing materials playing a key role in the overall launch of the product line, the results to date have exceeded the co-op’s already lofty goals – with strong initial and ongoing member orders. It’s a rare occasion – and an honor – when you get to pair two great brands and help independent retailers across the country ratchet up their performance.

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The Rea Way

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Rea Magnet Wire occupies a unique and challenging space for a brand. As an unquestioned leader in its market – many, many people know the name, but a lot less know what exactly it is they do – or, for that matter, everywhere they do it.

That’s where we came in.

Recently, the team at Rea found itself with this unique challenge, wanting to clearly communicate the full scale and scope of its global reach to leaders at its core customers around the world. And, naturally, it wanted to do so in a concise and beautifully designed package can be even harder.

Our new corporate positioning for Rea serves as a transparent, comprehensive corporate report to these key stakeholders while telling the full story – the past, present and, most importantly, the future. This positioning offers insight into their current initiatives, their plans for the future of their business and the various ways they are working to be the best choice as a business partner for existing and prospective customers. It also provides a transparent view into Rea’s unique company culture, evidencing teamwork and trust as their core values.

Rea’s goal with their corporate positioning was to reinforce its position as a company key stakeholders can trust, with in-demand products, that also aligns with their personal values. Rea Magnet Wire wanted to ground their status as all of these, and strengthen their relationship with customers in the process. From the Magnet Wire Capital of the World (that’s Fort Wayne, by the way), we’re proud to partner with one of the industry’s great brands to tell their story.

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Getting in the game

It’s Super Bowl week, you guys! While most people get excited about the game, our focus is on the real stars of the show – the ads, of course.

Advertising in the Super Bowl is a wee bit on the pricey side, if you hadn’t heard; an average 30-second spot in this year’s game is now pushing $5 million. This astronomical cost helps to explain why so many advertisers want to get the most out of their spend by creating ads that will go viral, extending their shelf life indefinitely online. It also explains why most brands are eliminated from participating in advertising’s biggest day of the year – well, officially, at least.

This is mostly because a growing number of people don’t just watch the game – and its ads – on their TVs anymore. Increasingly, they’re bringing a second screen (phone, tablet, laptop) into their viewing experience. This second screen enables them to discuss and debate in realtime with their social networks via Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. It creates a conversation around the single most watched that is instantaneous, intimate and entertaining all at once.

It also creates ample opportunities for enterprising marketers. Sure, you may not be able to drop a couple million on a 30-second spot, but you can still take advantage of the most captive audience of the year, using your brand’s official social media channels. Here are a couple of relatively easy ways to bolster your brand during the big game:

  • Offer your opinion. So you couldn’t afford an ad yourself. Big deal! You can still share your opinion on the all the ads shown throughout the game. Use humor to discuss what you like about each spot – and keep a running list of your favorites to share after the game wraps.
  • Home in on hashtags. To take full advantage of the sizable second-screen audience, observe which hashtags are “official” or most widely used, especially when it comes to the game’s ads. This extends the reach of your tweet or Facebook post or Instagram post beyond your traditional audience in an exponential way.
  • Put out a little play by play. Sure, we’re partial to the ads, but some people like watching the game, too! Offer commentary about the game, especially on big plays. As Oreo showed a couple of years ago, you can make a social media splash even when the lights go out.

It may cost you some time out of your Sunday evening, but marketers can score a touchdown for their brands in front of one of those things that are increasingly hard to come by in today’s decentralized media world – a massive, captive audience. And it won’t cost you $5 million.

Escape from Marketing Island

As marketers, it can be easy to feel like we exist on an island. To bury ourselves in our work and maintain an exclusive, almost laser-like focus on…well…our marketing. Because that’s what we do. The same can be said of salespeople – existing on their own island, maintaining their laser-like focus on…well…their sales. Because that’s what they do. But what if working together – building a bridge between those two islands – made both sides better?

Sales and marketing are often lumped together in terms of how a business operates, which makes the seas that can rise up between these two islands all the more surprising – and disappointing. Marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum, after all, and neither does sales.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. Indeed, as this recent article helpfully reminds us, “by collaborating with sales reps during the content development process, marketers can create content resources that will better meet the needs of salespeople.” And, in turn, such collaboration means salespeople can help marketers more effectively create such content.

How? Well, as the same article explains, there tend to be six levels or degrees of personalization when it comes to content marketing. These cover the full spectrum, from generic (no personalization) content to lead-specific (highly personalized, one-on-one) content. Marketers can often see the most productive use of their time spent at the more generic end of the spectrum – delivering the most content to the most people – while salespeople often want to spend the majority of their time at the more personalized end of the spectrum – building and maintaining individual relationships with customers and prospects. How, then, can we bridge this divide?

For marketers, the key is to move further down the personalization spectrum. While true one-to-one content marketing isn’t always feasible or practical, making content more segment- and audience-specific can empower sales people by providing them with a marketing asset that’s more personalized and targeted.

Equally important is the ability of marketers to train, equip and support salespeople to either personalize existing content, or create individualized content for their end of the spectrum. “The conventional wisdom,” the article continues, “has been that salespeople should not be spending their time developing content.” There are certain types of content, however, that are best left for a member of the sales team to develop.

Salespeople can help marketers become more effective in developing more personalized and targeted content. And marketers can help sales people become more effective in developing content of their own in the right situations. This is where collaboration between sales and marketing – bridging those two islands – can be so valuable and profound.

Defining the difference

For more than 50 years, IPFW has established itself as a local icon and global institution. Over the past year, we’ve been happy to help them explain what is it that makes them different.

Working closely with IPFW, we helped create the Don Difference Series to share highlights of the countless research, scholarly, and creative endeavors on campus. These vignettes showcase the university’s commitment to excellence in higher education and integration of campus and community. The vignettes offer a first-hand glimpse into the social, cultural, and scientific innovations happening right here in Fort Wayne.

“At IPFW,” the school says in introducing the series, “curiosity makes history, passion inspires awe, and Mastodons leave big footprints.”

That’s the Don Difference – and that’s the story we’ve helped them tell.

Click here to learn more.

Push and pull

We talk a lot about social media, content strategy and digital marketing ‘round these parts. And for good reason, of course; an active and engaging social presence, backed by a high-quality website, provide your audience a high-profile destination befitting of a leading brand like yours. This very important aspect of your overall marketing shouldn’t exist in a vacuum, however. After all, what good is a great destination if no one knows it exists – or how to find it?

In the marketing world, we call it having a healthy balance of “push and pull“. The “pull” comes from your destinations – those platforms you manage (website, social channels, etc.) The “push” is how you proactively connect with your audience, promote your pull presence and, ultimately, drive them there.

It was this article, in fact, that got us thinking about push and pull – and about ensuring that “push” in particular is a key component of your overall marking effort. The important question, then: What are some ways we can push awareness of our social media and digital presence and pull them to it? Here are a few for you to consider:

  • Email marketing. An incredible, outstanding example of which you’re reading right now! Odds are, you have an impressive database of email addresses for current customers, prior customers, vendors, suppliers, etc. Email marketing – developing and delivering an informative/education email on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, etc.) – is a great way to both demonstrate your company’s industry expertise and to drive them toward your social/digital presence.
  • Email marketing. Wait, what? Didn’t we just cover this? We did, but there’s also an easier way to use email to drive awareness of your social and digital presence – include it in your email signature. While, at first thought, it may not have the same impact as the email marketing discussed above, consider the cumulative effect of everyone in your organization including links to your social presence in their email signatures – and then how many emails you send on a daily basis. That can drive a lot of awareness.
  • Everything else. Do a deep, comprehensive audit of all the many different touchpoints you have with your current and prospective customers – business cards, print ads, signage, product packaging, on-hold messaging, etc. How and where can you drive awareness of your social/digital presence on any or all of them simply by adding links and/or logos?

From your own email marketing strategy to simple email signatures, there are a number of effective ways you can drive awareness of your social presence to your key audiences and pull them in. All it takes is a little push to get started.

 

Chief Executive Cheerleader

Much is discussed about the importance of brands identifying and engaging with key influencers – the prominent customers and other leaders that stand tall in their respective industries – and turning them into social advocates on behalf of its products and services. And for good reason – their support lends an authenticity to your marketing that is hard to produce otherwise. We so often cast our gaze outward when identifying these influencers, however, that we sometimes forget the most powerful ones may be right in front of us.

Creating brand ambassadors and advocates out of our own employees offers significant upside for brands. After all, as this column recently reminded us, employees are a company’s most valuable and important asset. Beyond that, however, they are often regarded as its most trusted influencers.

At the same time, enabling employees to become brand advocates is not without its risks and potential pitfalls. To ensure employees are not just enabled but empowered to act as social advocates, marketers need to make sure employee advocates:

  • Know the rules. Establish an official social media policy for anyone and everyone who may represent the brand in any capacity via social media, and make sure everyone clearly understands it.
  • Know the story. It stands to reason that employee advocates should clearly know your brand’s voice and personality to ensure consistency of voice across all communications and touchpoints.
  • Know the game plan. Educate employee advocates on your marketing strategy – especially the role social plays in it – so they have objectives and goals in mind when developing content and engaging with audiences.
  • Are supported. Creating and/or curating high-quality content that reflects positively on your brand ensures employees are armed with the resources necessary to be consistent, compelling and sustainable in their activity.

The thought of ceding control to employee advocates can understandably make some marketers nervous. Done carefully and with proper planning and preparation, however, turning employees into social story-tellers can be a powerful, long-term marketing tool.

Can we be friends?

For companies of all sizes, a successful social media presence is predicated on understanding your audience. It’s not enough to understand your audience, however. You also have to grow it.

First, an IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE: Growing the number of likes or followers should not be a strategic objective in and of itself, of course. And when it comes to audience, quality is just as important as quantity.

That being said, you should should always think about growing your social audience on a consistent basis. The more people you engage with overall, it stands to reason, the more successful you’ll be at meeting your strategic objectives and growing the bottom line.

How, then, do you grow your audience? How can you effectively increase your likes, followers, reach and, most importantly, engagement? As this recent study shows, there are myriad ways for companies to increase audience. Below, we highlight some of the most effective ways, listed in order from easiest to, well, less easy.

  • Ask. Making sure your audience is aware of your social presence and then asking them to join you there can be surprisingly simple and effective! The real work is in identifying all the external touchpoints you have with customers – email signatures, product packaging, website, etc. – and then ensuring it’s easy to find and connect with you socially.
  • Entice. Running periodic product giveaways and prize promotions can also be an effective way to drive up the size of your audience in short order. It’s keeping them there after the promotion is over that becomes more difficult, yet so important.
  • Entertain. We’ve talked before about the value of humor in your social presence. Whether it’s sharing/repurposing widely popular themes or finding your own funny bone, humor is often the quickest way to an audience’s heart. This works for inspirational content as well.
  • Educate. Content is king for a reason – it may not be easy working your way up to the throne, but it sure is worth it. As the study mentioned above shows, nearly 80 percent of brands say producing useful content is the most effective way for them to attract customers to their social media presence.

The best approach to growing your audience, of course, is a healthy balance of all of the above, underscoring the importance of a living, breathing content strategy. Growing your audience is not the goal itself, but the process can certainly make you more effective in achieving your overall marketing goals.

 

All apologies

Company apologies are never easy. From mea culpas to individual, disgruntled customers to worldwide “whoopsies!” for major blunders or scandals (hello, VW and BP!), the company apology is a treacherous road for brands to navigate. Done poorly, they can cause companies to come off as callous and indifferent – or, even worse, open them up to excessive liability and legal action. Done right, however, they can also be an opportunity.

We’ve been thinking about this more and more as the VW scandal in particular continues to expand. While that one is quickly reaching the level where no amount of apologizing will atone for the damage done, it’s the exception to the rule. For the vast majority of company miscues calling for an apology, an effective utilization of “our bad” can turn be a unique chance to humanize your brand – and, as a result, strengthen the connection your customers have with it.

So what makes for the right kind of “we were wrong?” Generality speaking, a successful apology will be based on these tenets:

  • Be honest. This should seem obvious, no? And yet, many are the examples where a crisis can’t be contained because the company wasn’t fully and completely forthright in its scope from the outset. (VW is a glaring example of this unfolding in real-time.) Damage can be contained more effectively if information doesn’t continue to drip out slowly at irregular intervals.
  • Be genuine. An apology should have just the right amount of emotional quality to it. It should be heartfelt and feel authentic.
  • Be brief. Internally, make sure you know everything about the issue at hand. Externally, be direct and to the point. You can be honest and transparent while only sharing the most relevant details of an issue.
  • Be positive. The best kind of apology puts the transgression in perspective while pivoting toward the positive features and benefits of a particular product or service.

The path to a proper company apology is full of potential potholes, to be sure. Handled thoughtfully and thoroughly, however, a company can make sure it’s not sorry it said sorry.

 

Search mission

For marketers, Facebook does a lot of things well. One thing it doesn’t do well for anyone, however, is search. Using the search function to actually find anything of value on Facebook – especially anything outside one’s own network of friends, family and page likes – has long been an exercise in futility for most, if not all, users. All of this all should change for the better very soon, as Facebook recently announced some big updates to its search function – and they could be of great help to marketers on the site.

Here’s the most important feature of SearchFYI, as Facebook is calling its new and improved tool: now, search results include posts from the entire Facebook universe, which is more than two trillion posts to date. Users will now be able to see search results across the entirety of content on Facebook, making it more of a true, Google-like search engine within the platform’s walled-off world.

Will this be a good thing for marketers? Absolutely. How and why? Well, that remains to be seen, especially as SearchFYI is just getting up and running. Even if it’s real implications for marketers aren’t fully clear just yet, SearchFYI does offer some immediate opportunities and reminders:

  • Content is king (forever and always, amen). As if you needed another reminder. Knowing your Facebook content will now be viewable to all users should emphasize having a solid content strategy and ensuring your page content is relevant, valuable and targeted.
  • Conversations in the key of life. With access to the full Facebook universe, marketers should be able to get a fuller, more comprehensive picture of conversations taking place around the keywords and phrases important to them. This includes keywords for their own brand/products/services, of course, but can also also include keywords for competitors, industry topics, thought leaders, etc.
  • One big ol’ happy focus group. Opening up all of Facebook to search gives marketers access to an amazing amount of input, feedback, insights, complaints, etc., about their products, services and brand. It will be ongoing and in real-time, making it the best kind of focus group you could imagine.
  • Facebook is still really, really important. Well, duh. This seems obvious, but it reinforces Facebook as a core foundation of just about any social media strategy for marketers.

A stronger search function on Facebook will not only help marketers be more successful on the platform; if they utilize it correctly, it can also help them be more successful marketers all-around and across all touchpoints.

 

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