24 Jul

Google+ and the evolution of social media

If you haven’t heard about Google+ yet, you must either be on vacation or not in marketing.

Otherwise known as G+, the newest social media toy to play with has certainly caught my attention. I know, you’re thinking…not another social media tool to sign up for!…right? Wrong. While I realize G+ is a virtual infant and too early to announce the impact it might have on other platforms, I will say it’s blend of Facebook and Twitter make social networking more collaborative. In short, I like it and can see the potential uses for business, consumers and recreation alike.

Imagine that you could create groups of friends based on your interests or life experiences on Facebook that would enable you to communicate with just those groups so that your posts wouldn’t have to be viewed by everyone. On G+ these groups are called “circles” and you can post to one or all of your circles and beyond if you so choose. You can also choose do what’s called a “huddle” or a group text conversation. You can attend a “hangout” where you can invite your circles to a video chat. There’s a stream where you can post links or comments and create conversations (similar to wall updates). Lastly, you can search for content by topic in what G+ calls “sparks”.

While business pages are not yet allowed, people are biting at the chomps to use this tool for their companies. Personally, I can see the potential for great collaborative opportunities.

What Google essentially did was identify the key features of existing social media platforms and try to create one finely tuned social media engine. This did not happen without previous flops. Their effort This go-round was right on. From the initial launch (only by invite initially to heavy social media users who in turn created buzz and excitement about it) to a killer feedback/comment system.

An example to all businesses to keep watching your competition…what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. There are always opportunities to improve, to add more value or service. It’s critical to thoroughly plan your strategy, your launch and to anticipate response- regardless of your product or industry. Like Google, you may not be successful on first attempt, but it you’re listening to your market and your target audience, you’ll significantly increase your chances for success. Planning is key!

While Google+ might be great for now or in the near future… If they don’t continue to listen and further improve and develop- something new will eventually come along that might be even better.

27 May

Creative Meets Clarity

I’ve talked about the need for any representation of your business to be easy to understand. Clear and concise. While this may seem obvious, it’s obvious by what I’ve noticed around me, that it’s not. That said, I want to move onto another equally important issue…design.

While what you are putting out may be appealing, is it clearly understood by your target audience? I have found several instances where the design was unique and eye-catching, but the message was unclear and the intended target audience didn’t seem appropriate either.

There’s certainly value in creativity. I absolutely love anything that gets my attention and makes me want to know more, but not at the cost of clarity.

Every business is different and likewise, so is every message. As you work to create a look that communicates your brand, you must see the process as a complete package. You need the structure (which might comes from a plan, with goals and objectives aimed at your specific target audience), the message (that will likely involve some call to action), and it should all be “wrapped” with visual elements that blend with the message and the goals of the brand. of course, there’s research that goes into all of this that should also be part of the design and word-smithing process.

I guess my reason for posting on this is simply to remind you to be thorough, well-researched and careful not to overlook basics. Oftentimes, I seems that businesses can get caught up in the specific elements and forget about the big picture.

12 May

Choose your words wisely

I didn’t realize how much time had passed since my last post! Ruby has been incredibly busy, so my time for blog posts was non-existent. Thanks to your emails, I’m re-focusing on the blog and providing you with helpful content.

Speaking of content, I was reading a brochure at a doctor’s office yesterday that prompted me to write this post. The office seems very well run, the overall feel is favorable, yet their materials were awful. Not only visually, as they were designed completely out of sync with the feel of the office. The office feels calm and relaxing, the materials could have been designed for a nightclub. Dark colors and few if any photos, a complete disconnect.

Add to that, the writing quality in the piece was not bad in the sense of poor grammar or riddled with errors, but rather not the right writing style for the intended reader. I find that this is a very common error for businesses. I’m not sure if the problem stems from business owners who micro-manage the process of creating materials and try to control the content the way they see fit or simply that some content is difficult to write in an easy-to-understand manner.

When a business is a bit more technical than the customer’s knowledge, it’s imperative to write copy that explains complicated terms and details in a way that people understand.

A rule of thumb I suggest is write your copy, then ask a few people to review it and provide feedback on:
– grammar
– clarity
– flow
– take-away message

Ask a combination of people to read this. Someone that’s familiar with your business (an employee) and someone who is not. You’ll be amazed hoe valuable this feedback will be for creating a more effective end product.

Happy writing!

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15 Dec

What does a brand promise mean to your business?

As you know, the brand is the identity of a specific product, service or business (Wikipedia). While it seems that everyone is talking about branding these days, I’m getting the impression that among some, branding still feels like an abstract and something they are doing because they should rather than to garner any sort of benefit.

When people talk about a brand promise, they are referring to statement or a sentence that communicates the one thing that the brand represents or intends to own in mind of the target consumer. Meaning, something the target consumer will associate with your company that communicates what unique benefit you deliver to the consumer. A brand promise needs to be clear, concise, believable, unique and catchy.

Here are a few questions that might help you when developing a brand promise:

  1. What unique benefit does your brand provide?
  2. Who is your target consumer?
  3. Is the benefit mentioned valuable to the target audience?
  4. What makes your organization uniquely qualified to provide it?
  5. Looking at your competition, are they touting a similar promise? If so, time to re-work.

According to Businessdictionary.com: “Benefits and experiences that marketing campaigns try to associate with a product in its current and prospective consumers’ minds.” is a brand promise.

It’s important to note that in many cases it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to differentiate a brand based on functional attributes alone. For that reason, a shift in focus to more relationship oriented benefits, such as ease of process or customer service may be a stronger direction to take for developing a brand promise. That’s why it’s essential that the message you communicate to your target audience, needs to be communicated with and believed in by employees at every level as ultimately it’s the front-end staff that need to be able to deliver the brand promise to the customer.

In the end, it’s a strong brand that’s more likely to experience growth and higher returns because people know what they can expect to receive and how it will affect their lives. Successful companies have discovered that brands are their most valuable asset (along with their people) for numerous reasons – but the key is that you have to make promises you can really keep. In the end, if you do your job and keep your promise, customers will be loyal to you and your brand.

01 Sep

Branding

Are you looking for your business to stand out from the rest of the pack or blend in? Do you want to distinguish your business from the competition? If you answered yes to either of the above questions, then developing an identity for your business through branding is the essential element you are probably missing.

By now, you’ve heard about branding. Many are confused by the term , but the bottom line is that through branding, you can establish an identity that will distinguish your business from your competitions. Consumers have so many choices before them. Positioning your product or business helps you stand out in the minds of your target audience. Well-developed and promoted brands make product positioning efforts more effective. When a customer is exposed to a brand they will develop images or emotions associated with of the benefits (or problems – if they had a bad experience) they get from using that brand. These associations help businesses gain a competitive advantage. For example, if a problem arises, a customer breaks a gold chain for example, in looking for a solution will they may automatically think of your brand as being the company that offers the solution to the problem?

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”

Developing a brand is not something you can do overnight. In fact, it takes incorporating branding strategies into your overall marketing strategy and truly understanding your business goals and objectives to be successful.

A very basic explanation of branding is the use of a brand name and a brand mark. The brand name is the name we as a consumer would use when discussing a product, a group of products or a service. The brand mark is a design element that is associated with the product or service. It can be a symbol (a logo), a character, or even a sound, that provides the necessary stimuli for consumer recognition for the product.

More than visual, a brand is a vibe or a promise. It’s not a person (people die). It’s a feeling that people get about your business. The visual elements of branding reinforce the brand.

A brand is something that will be with your company for a long time. It’s like an identification for your business. Once you’ve decided on a look or a strategy, it’s not something to want to change. You want to build a brand that will exist for years to come. Making changes will compromise your brand, your customer’s recognition and your image. Make smart decisions int he beginning.

A good brand communicates a message to the target audience clearly and concisely. It helps to solidify customer loyalty via an emotional connection and by establishing your credibility.

If you want to be successful in branding you must fully understand the needs and wants of your current and potential customers. Integrating your brand strategies on any occasion you have to contact with existing and potential clients reinforces your brand.

It’s important to research and define to effectively build your brand. After all your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. A good brand is not something you want to be without.