Hurricane Irma is set to come knocking on our front doors in the coming days. Though you may have already prepared your home, you must also make sure your brand is set to weather the oncoming storm.
By following these simple tips, your organization can keep team members and clients informed before and after this emergency situation while sending messaging that avoids some common PR and social media faux pas:
Prepare for PR Delays: While the news is dominated by updates on Hurricane Irma as she approaches, your company’s PR efforts are likely to be lost in the shuffle. Expect to delay that big PR push until after the storm and subsequent recovery.
Double Check Your Social Media Schedule: As many of us often schedule our social media posts weeks in advance, it’s a good idea to revisit these planned features to ensure they aren’t insensitive or in bad taste within the context of the incoming storm and the days (perhaps weeks) of recovery to follow. Consider sharing a safety-conscious post that details how your clients or customers can prepare for Hurricane Irma.
Create an External and Internal Communication Plan: In these emergency situations, communication is key. With the possibility of losing power and internet access, you should outline and share a detailed emergency external and internal communication plan. Collect and physically write down contact information of team members and clients in order to lessen downtime and provide updates on recovery. Also, ensure that each team member knows who to report to and how to do so once the storm has passed.
Announce Your Hours of Operation: Make your planned hours of operation known to both your team and customers/clients. Your team should know in advance how much time they will have to prepare for Hurricane Irma, as well as when they will be expected to report back to work. The same consideration goes for your clients and customers, who you want to keep informed at every step.
Minimize Your Email Marketing: Much like your social media and PR efforts, it is best to put a hold on your email marketing, unless it has to do with sharing pertinent information, such as your hours of operation or other need-to-know news about your business.
Hold Your Website Launch: If your new website has the unfortunate luck of launching near the forecasted arrival of Hurricane Irma, you may want to hold off until we are able to return to our normal lives. Most will be more concerned with storm updates than checking out your new site in the coming days.
Let us be clear, your organization is (and should always be) put after your life and the lives of your team. Make your people the priority by giving them, and yourself, ample time to prepare and hunker down before Hurricane Irma strikes. Once personal safety is secured, you can focus on keeping your brand safe from inappropriate messaging or a lack of communication with both internal teams and those your organization serves.
We may not know the full extent of what Hurricane Irma has in store for us but through a bit of preparation now, we can lay the groundwork for an easier recovery and, ultimately, getting back to work. Stay safe out there, Orlando.
The world has changed since I founded my digital marketing agency, Findsome & Winmore, in 1995. Hashtags were pound signs, dial-up internet tied up our landlines and web 2.0 hadn’t shown its full potential. But we have evolved with the times, adopting tactics that may have once seemed ludicrous or impossible before the renaissance of shareable content truly began.
Today, your marketing doesn’t stand a chance unless your strategy embraces a singular fact: traditional, sales-heavy ads will often be far less engaging than quality, shareable content distributed for free. Need proof? According to the Content Marketing Institute, 2oo million people use ad blockers and, though content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, it yields three times as many leads.
This is one of the lessons that propelled me to begin outlining and writing my latest book, Formulaic: How Thriving Companies Market from the Core, which led me to find examples outside of my own firm of this practice that yields powerful results for companies like Patagonia and Dollar Shave Club.
Patagonia, the outdoor apparel giant, puts what I’m sure amounts to thousands of dollars of time and work into their catalog. But this is more than a simple sales brochure. The Patagonia catalog features in-depth, magazine-quality stories from people who actually use their products. The publication puts the customers–not the company–in the spotlight and simultaneously conveys the spirit of the brand. Add to it some high-quality photography, and they have a product that people would pay for (but don’t have to). Even better, the content itself is largely contributed by the audience it targets.
Dollar Shave Club, the rebellious facial hair aficionados, have been known for their quirky online ads. However, it’s their “Bathroom Minutes” tips series that I find most influential in creating shareable content and giving it away for free. Though not written by their customers, this series still speaks directly to its audience. From “The Plumber’s Guide to Not Clogging Your Sink When Shaving” to “5 Non-BS Health and Grooming Life Hacks,” this is content that could easily be featured on Men’s Health, but Dollar Shave Club is giving it away without the subscription fee. Why? Because it is valuable for their audience and will result in clicks, attention and, hopefully, brand awareness that will lead more people to that “buy” button.
But what can other businesses gain from giving away quality content for free? If Findsome & Winmore’s success is any indicator, quite a lot.
Public Relations: The more you do outside of the confines of your product or service, the more the media’s ears may perk. Barring an exciting new menu item at your restaurant or the announcement of your real estate firm’s new big project, public relations experts will have much more to run with if your brand positions itself as a thought leader in your field. For our marketing firm, that included Formulaic and the events we centered around it. Though the book is for sale, we have used it as a marketing tool and launchpad for multiple blogs, speaking engagements and events that not only inform our audience, but help us assert our place as leaders in marketing strategy while gaining media attention along the way. You can do the same by creating content that speaks to your audience in the format they most often use: podcasts, online tutorials, printed catalogs–nothing is off the table.
Global Search Traffic: SEO is a major influencer in everything we do. From crafting web copy to writing blogs, we do our best to ensure our content is following the latest search engine standards while remaining a good read for the audience. Creating quality content that can be shared across multiple channels brings your brand to a larger audience, simultaneously increasing your global online coverage and searchability. Findsome & Winmore regularly produces blog content and shares a monthly newsletter with clients and industry contacts, and has seen large increases in website traffic as a result.
Credibility:Would you buy the third-best cereal from your town’s fifth-best supermarket? Credibility is key to building confidence in your brand’s quality, but you can build this trust outside of doing your job well. Through sharing content with your audience for free, you allow them to preview your abilities and plant your flag as a resource in your specialty. The one-two punch of quality products or services and free, quality content is often a formula for credibility and long-term success.
As a small business owner myself, I absolutely understand the reluctance to give away anything of value for free; businesses are run on hard data and ROI, after all. But assets like PR opportunities, global search engine traffic and credibility should not be discounted by demanding all marketing directly drive sales. Through committing to viewing your brand as a publisher instead of strictly a salesperson, you can provide free, creative and highly shareable content that will keep the attention of your audience far more effectively than the pushy, “BUY NOW” ads of old
Nintendo: As far as industry-defining brands go, they’ve easily earned their place among instantly recognizable names like Kleenex and Xerox. The company, founded in 1889 as a playing card manufacturer, has delivered some of the most iconic gaming franchises of all time. Even with its undeniable successes, such as the GameBoy and Wii, Nintendo hasn’t escaped without a fair share of failures that have provided a few important lessons in branding and marketing.
As it stands today, Nintendo is attempting to re-stack its deck after the Wii U (its latest console) was widely regarded as a commercial flop. What can the brand do to come back in a big way? Well, like any business worth its salt–with clear, effective marketing for its upcoming video game console, the Nintendo Switch.
Let’s briefly trace Nintendo’s rise and fall, which led the prestigious company to employ a key marketing tactic from which any brand can benefit.
Picking Up Coins
If you remember, the Nintendo Wii was an utter phenomenon when it was released back in 2006. Featuring innovative-yet-simple motion controls and a slew of family-friendly games (who doesn’t love bowling in Wii Sports?), the Wii quickly rose to become the third-highest-sold console in the history of home consoles.
Years later, Nintendo hit the drawing boards again and what emerged was a console that, though competent, was a financial disappointment for Nintendo. That console was the Wii U, and if we take a good look at its middling branding, the issues become obvious.
A Branding Blue Shell
As of late last year, the Wii U has shipped less than 14 million units. To contrast, the original Wii shipped 101.63 million by the end of its lifecycle. How did this system go from frontrunner to last place in just one console cycle? Well, it has a lot to do with the system’s introduction.
Looking at the Wii U objectively, it was a marked improvement in nearly every way from the original Wii. 1080p HD resolution, added horsepower for graphical output and a few other nerdy tidbits that you probably don’t care about. However, it failed to do one thing: succinctly explain its key benefits to the general public.
Though the most hardcore of gaming enthusiasts soon drilled down and “got” what the Wii U was all about, those parents, kids and virtual bowling meemaws that the original Wii attracted were left scratching their heads and muttering a collective, “Huh?”
Is it an add-on to my Wii?
Do I have to own a Wii to get this one?
What’s up with the touchscreen controller?
Can I take the controller on my morning commute?
Do I have to buy new Wiimotes (controllers)?
Can I play my old Wii games on this?
The story of the Wii U became a muddled mess, which was partially responsible for bungling its chance to catch lightning in the bottle for a second time. Even the name, Wii U, makes it sound more like an extension to the Wii than a wholly new console. Yikes.
As the Wii U continued to limp through its lifecycle with weak console sales numbers, rumors began to circulate that Nintendo was developing something truly unique for its next generation of console–something that would bridge the gap between home console gaming and handheld gaming.
In October of 2016, the Nintendo Switch was announced and promised to do just that.
By sharing the singular message that this console is not only an at-home system, but a portable handheld device a la the Nintendo 3DS (or GameBoy of past), it conveys one point well as opposed to multiple points poorly.
Storytelling and messaging are hugely important for shaping the first impressions of a product and as methods of crafting the public perception for an overall brand. As our very own founder, Matt Certo, recently asserted in Formulaic, “…in order to connect, build goodwill, and foster memorability, (brands) should figure out what (their stories) are and tell them.” The Wii U’s storytelling was unfocused at best, showing the device as a karaoke machine, Amazon Prime streaming device, party game console and more–and that’s on top of trying to explain the system’s new quirks and functionality. Instead of wowing us with the console’s versatility, we were left with more questions than answers–a marketing mortal sin.
To contrast, the Nintendo Switch’s initial storytelling sets the scene with simplicity. It is positioned as a home console that you can take with you to the airport, dog park, basketball court (OK, that one’s a little dumb), or super-trendy rooftop party with all of your super-trendy friends. This focus is much more effective than attempting to throw everything and the kitchen sink into one message, as its predecessor did.
To put it simply, good product (and brand) storytelling requires pointed focus and adherence to a main idea at all times. In TV and film, it is a common practice to examine each line of a script’s dialogue to determine if it directly moves the plot forward; if not, it is deleted. The same should go for your brand’s marketing strategy. If your messaging gets bogged down in superfluous ideas and information outside of the scope of your current campaign, put it aside for next time and focus on the challenge and solution at hand.
There’s more to the Wii U’s commercial failure than poor storytelling, of course. Besides the marketing, the fact that the Wii U was a continuation of the Wii brand did the console no favors. This, combined with other limitations left the console stranded with neither the families who were attracted to the simplicity of the Wii nor the hardcore gamers looking for the strongest graphical powerhouse on the market. Essentially, the Wii U lost its audience before it even came out. Much like losing the forest for the trees in storytelling, successful marketing in any industry is only possible if one truly understands its audience. Without this understanding, even the most clever of messages will essentially be delivered to an auditorium of empty seats.
Fortunately, the Nintendo Switch has (at least so far) seemed to learn from its marketing and communication mistakes, and enjoyed some well-earned enthusiasm that was never there for the Wii U.
It’s far too early to tell if the Nintendo Switch will be a success, but its first ad shows major promise for the nearly 130-year-old company. The console hits shelves on Friday, so we’ll soon see if it lands with a splash or more collective indifference. All signs point to the former, however.
Even if you’re not head of marketing for a video game behemoth, clarity is key for any company’s advertising strategy. Whether crafting an email newsletter or strategizing for a new social media campaign, ensure that your messaging is both clearly defined and executed without straying too far from the point. As they say in journalism school, never bury the lead.
And remember, it’s all fun and games until unfocused marketing causes your company to face a “game over” screen.
For some, the fall season means changing leaves, a cool kiss of autumn air and a warm #PSL by your side. However, for others (like me), it signifies the time to agonize over fierce rivalries, colorful face paint and tasty tailgating. There is nothing quite like football, is there?
Regardless of whether or not you personally care for football, there is no denying the war-like tactics at play here. These men, many of which could probably pull a family-sized sedan (with the family along for the ride, no less), push their bodies to incredible extremes, but all of their literal blood, sweat and tears would be for naught if there was not a tactician on the sidelines holding the playbook.
As each team’s personal Patton, a coach can be a father figure, a boss, a commander and a friend, but above all else, a coach must be a leader. Strategic thinking, problem solving and a can’t-quit attitude are common among many championship-winning coaches — which left me thinking. What can some of the winningest, most respected football coaches of all time teach us about marketing?
Placing my buffalo-sauce-glazed chicken wing safely back in the basket and turning down the volume on this week’s game, I decided to share a few choice quotes that can score your brand a marketing touchdown.
Marketing Tips Gleaned From The Gridiron
Though it may be a hard fact to swallow for us perfectionists, every marketing effort can always be better. What you should take away from Coach Lombardi’s quote is to always strive for perfection, yet accept that not everything in your marketing plan will go as planned. Instead of getting discouraged, use a steady stream of results and data to uncover ways you can to improve your plan.
The bottom line is, though standout talent can be a significant asset, teamwork trumps a single genius nearly every time. Marketing and brand management are team sports. Social media interfaces with blogs, which interface with overall branding, which interfaces with your website. In an agency, our work is only as good as our willingness to collaborate under the singular goal of our clients’ success.
With this quote, Coach Noll provides us quite a lot to incorporate into our marketing efforts. Firstly, consistency is key — keep up on both blog post and social media schedules, posting on a regular basis. Maintaining brand standards is also a fundamental part of quality branding.
Beyond consistency, attention to detail cannot be encouraged enough. From the spelling and grammar of an eblast to tagging the correct Facebook page in a promotional post, taking the extra five minutes to double and triple check marketing work is a smart and worthwhile habit.
Coach Allen and Coach Lombardi both point toward the same lesson here: always keep your eye on the prize. Goal setting is vital to measuring success in marketing efforts. In marketing (and in life), if you don’t know where your endzone is, you run the risk of wasting a lot of time and effort running in circles. Set specific goals for each of your marketing efforts and ensure that every following step is taken in service of that goal.
To boil down the wise words of Coach Phillips and Coach Edwards, you must learn from your marketing mistakes. There is nothing worse than a company that continuously makes the same mistakes (such as allowing interns to have full control of social media, or promoting content on the wrong platform for their audience) even though they should know better.
Additionally, when analyzing your marketing efforts, be sure that your solutions truly solve the problem at hand instead of “blaming someone else.” Take a deep dive into your brand’s analytics platforms and build a strategy for improvement based on hard data and proven marketing strategy.
Not only wise words for the rest of your life, Coach Halas’s quote can be adapted into one simple statement for your brand: marketing matters. From SEO to social media strategy, it all counts and is well worth giving your best to find and win new customers for your business.
Whose marketing couldn’t use a bit of tough talk from some of football’s finest? With football season now fired up, it may be the perfect time to get inspired by these coaches in order to create marketing strategies that constantly improve, are consistent in quality, and take all marketing channels into consideration. Just remember, football season may be here for a few months a year, but it’s always game day for effective marketing.
Rio’s 2016 Summer Olympics is finally underway and the energy is palpable. It’s amazing to think about the level of talent from across the world coming together, putting aside politics and cultural differences to compete in something as pure as sport. Surely, there are Olympic-sized swimming pools of emotional inspiration to be had and lessons to be learned from the Summer Olympics, but as a marketer at heart, I have also found inspiration that directly correlates with my profession. Though onlookers can glean a few tips from watching the exhaustive efforts put into branding and marketing the games, I have a bit of a unique point of view on this subject.
Working as part of the 1996 Summer Olympics’ sales and client services team, I had a front-row seat to witness greatness achieved both on and off the fields.
5 Marketing Lessons Learned from Working the Summer Olympics
Training isn’t just for the athletes: Good marketing doesn’t just happen. No, it takes the mentorship of skilled experts, daily preparation, continued study and detailed observations to get it right. There is something to be said about resilience in this industry, and the Olympics are an excellent metaphor for the years of hard work that go into being the best.
Even tried and true products can use innovation: The 1996 Summer Olympics marked the first time that skyboxes and suite-style seating were utilized to generate revenue. If the Olympics can embrace new ideas and reap the success of such innovation, your brand should be willing to do the same. Even though things had been running smoothly for (thousands) of years, they still sought out opportunities to take the product offering to another level.
Messaging moves the needle: The innovation mentioned above demonstrates more than the benefits of trying new tactics — it also shows the importance of messaging. One of my tasks at the Olympics was to fill seats at the less popular events (everyone wanted to attend the gold medal gymnastics event, but fewer people were buying judo tickets). Strategically positioning and pairing the lesser attended events with the more popular ones led to successful ticket sales and attendance rates.
Marketing and sales play for the same team: Whether marketing for something as tangible as tickets or as intangible as general brand awareness, in my opinion, you cannot effectively market something until you learn how to sell it. I was responsible for selling packages for a combination of sporting events and learned many marketing (and sales) lessons through this experience that I still utilize to this day.
Winning matters: We all know that winning an Olympics competition is a HUGE deal, and the truth is, it can be a major public relations win and morale booster for an entire country. The same can be said for winning awards for your company. Applying for awards and seeking accolades for your products and services helps demonstrate expertise and ultimately assist in generating new business.
By Photo: Niteshift36; plaque: International Olympic Committee – I (Niteshift36 (talk)) created this work entirely by myself., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47303233
Admittedly, a lot has changed since 1996. However, the marketing lessons are still relevant and viable in 2016. Taking cues from a marketing and sales powerhouse like the Olympics can help garner your brand a few gold medals of its own. Just remember to train hard, stay open to innovation, be observant and keep your eye on the prize. We’ll see you on the podium.
To really drive the point home, this blog post should be less than 100 characters and take less than 8 seconds to read. Sounds ridiculous, right?! That’s the average attention span of the majority of your marketing audience these days.
Could you be boring or losing your audience with overthought marketing messages, long-winded copy, or complicated calls-to-action? Most consumers won’t engage with your marketing unless they can digest what it is and what they’re supposed to do with it at just a glance.
Let’s look at 3 reasons why keeping it simple is so crucial today
The Goldfish Dilemma
The Goldfish Dilemma sounds like the name of a bad Matt Damon spy movie. Luckily, it’s not. The average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds, which means they’re willing to listen to your marketing campaign longer than most humans. Chances are, though, you aren’t targeting the fishbowl. How does one craft the perfect marketing message?
Let’s take a brief inventory of what makes it perfect. Predominantly, the content needs to matter. The “What” being promoted must be interesting and desirable to the “Who” receiving the promotion. Assuming you’ve determined the “what” and “who” already, next is the “How.” In order to really answer “How” to reach the “Who,” you need to know “Why” and “When” the “Who” will buy the “What.” (I think even the goldfish is confused now…)
No one wants a sales pitch, but we do pay attention to stories. Content marketing can do an excellent job of telling a story without the hard sale, but is it even possible to tell a good story in 8 seconds? Once you fully grasp why and when someone is going to buy your product, you can plan how to get their attention. But, how do you keep it?
Less is More? More or Less.
Joseph McCormack says “Get to the point or pay the price.” Today the majority of people are always online in some capacity, whether connected via smart phone or tied to the internet at work. This “always online” lifestyle has changed the way we buy products and make purchasing decisions primarily because we have been trained to recognize and respond to short messages. Tweets, status updates, and subject lines all have limited space, and we all have limited time, don’t we?
The Harvard Business Review published their findings on what makes consumers likely to follow through on an intended purchase, buy the product repeatedly, and recommend it to others, or as they refer to it: “sticky.” The study examined consistent interaction with a brand, how much a product costs, and the customers’ feelings about a brand. Throughout their study, simplicity had the largest impact on stickiness and was the primary factor in purchasing decisions. The ease of gathering information about a product before deciding whether or not to buy the product is what consumers most desire from marketers today. Not strategic pricing. Not emotional manipulation. Don Draper would not do well in today’s marketing climate.
How do you win more sticky customers? The HBR study found that the best way to measure the stickiness of your marketing efforts is through the “Decision Simplicity Index (D.S.I.).” To put this theory in to action, develop your own decision simplicity index for each brand or product you’re trying to sell. The DSI is comprised of: easy discovery (consumers are able to find the details they need in order to make their purchasing decision and can easily digest it all), trustworthy information, and the customers’ ability to easily weigh their options.
Test your recent marketing campaigns to see how you score. Are you able to understand the message quickly, engage with it, and not only want to take action, but know howto? If you’re not able to accomplish this around the 8 second mark, it might be time to rethink your marketing strategy.
Take a look at two examples. The first example, from Apple, employs their signature style of simplicity, letting their product confidently speak for itself- and it works! Why? Apply the DSI method to the ad to find your answer.
Now, test this next ad for its decision simplicity. How’d it do?
Keeping it simple does make a difference in consumer engagement, but what if you believe your audience does have a longer attention span than the goldfish? They’re special.
Well… let’s take a bigger look at America’s changing attention span.
If we’re not careful, “America’s Pastime” will soon be out. Baseball games are getting long. Games are still 9 innings, but over the years they’re are taking longer and longer to win. Not only are games taking longer, but there’s also less excitement and less action taking place. Pitchers are almost expected to perform at a robotic level of perfection. This may sound great if it’s your team in the outfield, but it’s the hits that win games and gets us excited. Where are the hits?
Based on attention span trends, will baseball eventually run its last lap around the diamond and hug home plate before heading in to the dugout of our national memory? Baseball has never been a game for folks with short attention spans and there may not be much they can do to attract the Twitter generation, but the point is- they’re moving further in the wrong direction. Eventually, people may just stop paying attention.
This generation of listeners needs action with quick and constant stimulation. Whether formatting your marketing message to something that fits in a retweet or simplifying your campaign to one call-to-action – isn’t change worth keeping your audience’s attention?