Small Business Branding? Be Selective.

January 17, 2007

timessq.jpgI originally read about this story in my local Minneapolis Star and Tribune paper, but Brandweek did a better job of covering the event and prompted me to write a quick post about it.

Target Corporation ran an enormous branding event on New Year’s Eve in Times Square in New York. The promotion included ‘word-fetti’ provided by Target and large animations running on seven video screens throughout the famous area of Midtown. Coming from a small business perspective, when I first read the story, my first reaction was that this was a very large waste of money. Target doesn’t have a store in Manhattan and with all the chaos of the moment, the huge spend will go largely unnoticed.

Well, I saw the story retold in Brandweek and they offered a little different spin. Said Jeff Straus, executive producer of New Year’s Eve in Times Square, which is co-produced by Countdown Entertainment and the Times Square Alliance.

“We were very impressed because with them it was all about connecting with the consumer, more than about the branding. It was about creating an environment that would bring something to the revelers in Times Square.”

I also was in New York this week and had the chance to see a replay of the events of New Year’s Eve. They did a good job with it. They definitely connected with the consumer and (if you weren’t too intoxicated) you walked away having been touched by the Target brand.

What does a major outpouring of branding cash have to do with small business? I think any marketing manager of small business can read this article and take away a couple points about branding:

  1. A branding effort needs to be focused and connect with its intended audience
  2. In today’s media driven marketplace, you need to give your audience a chance to ‘interact’ with your brand as part of your branding strategy.

With limited budgets and resources, research and opportunity are keys in any small business branding strategy. By research I mean knowing your audience and knowing when, where, and how to touch them with your brand. And with limited budgets, you can’t jump at every branding opportunity. You need to be selective and choose based on how many you will reach and how deeply you can engrave your brand in their memory.

There have been some good blog postings recently regarding branding. If you have time check out:

Jonathan Mendez’s Blog – Optimize and Prophesize – He wrote about paid search and the use of branding keywords.

Chris Brown’s blog – Branding and Marketing – She discusses the use of color in branding and re-branding.

Marketing Vox Blogwrites about the New York Times re-branding strategy


Giving Your Campaigns a Global Reach

January 8, 2007

globe.jpgAs a Marketing Manager with responsibility for both US marketing and marketing to other parts of the world, any article focusing on launching campaigns in different territories catches my eye.

Many small companies aren’t equipped with marketing people all over the world to tailor and launch territory-specific campaigns. Typically, we’re left with trying to figure out how to turn a US-based marketing campaign into a global effort.

This article by Carat Fusion’s Mike Yapp talks about giving your campaigns a global appeal. This section is what prompted me to write about it:

“I once spoke to a group of marketing students from U.C. Berkeley. I asked them to paint a picture of an individual from the following information:

His father is a lawyer and Rotarian. His mom is a teacher and president of the PTA. He’s Protestant. His family has lived in Springfield for three generations, and he graduated fifth in his high school class.

Naturally all I got back were blank stares.

Then I asked the same question with the following information:

He wears Volcom jeans, a Quicksilver t-shirt, a Hurley cap and DC sneakers. He drives a tuner and listens to The Killers.

Bingo! Faces lit up.”

That story got me thinking – how many times do we describe our product or service in a way that entices us but not our audience? They may be interested in what we have to offer but we didn’t engage them with our description. This can easily happen when we try to stretch a campaign globally. The article talks about many good examples and is worth a read.

Does anyone else have thoughts or comments about global campaigns and global messaging?

A Great (and tasty) Marketing Example

January 6, 2007


My wife and I vow that one of these years we’re going to start keeping information about wines we enjoy. Maybe its the time involved or the tough peeling of labels from bottles, but we never seem to start cataloging our favorite bottles.

That’s why this little piece of marketing caught my eye. I’ve yet to really see a winemaker take advantage of the space they have on bottles. Yes, there are some great designs, but how many times has a marketing method been used on the bottle’s real estate? I was about to throw this bottle away tonight when a peel-off label caught my eye on the back of the bottle.

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On the back of the peel-off label are the winery’s website, phone number and type of wine you drank. Rosenblum Cellars did a great job with this! The only thing missing was a custom landing page where they could track the success of the label. The url listed was their main site. Imagine the possibilities with that label – special urls with promos, newsletter sign-ups, pre-buying of new releases, advertising of new vintages, etc.

But, they got my attention and I’ve even started a notebook with the small label. Hopefully, more wineries will jump on this bandwagon.

TO FURTHER THE DISCUSSION: Drew McLellan of Drew’s Marketing Minute had this post this weekend about winemakers changing their thinking about how they market themselves to their customers. Whoever thought the combination of wine and marketing would make such a good discussion!

Search and Display: Mix It Up

January 2, 2007

I’ve written in previous posts about the right marketing mix. By that I mean the melding of various mediums of marketing into one cohesive plan. Whether it be print advertising, search marketing, banner advertising, etc – its the art of bringing it all together in one marketing plan. Well, because I think its so important and also because we’re starting a new year and a new media plan, I’m throwing out more information on the topic.

A recent article on the Marketing VOX website discussed the results of two recent studies on display and search advertising and the effects that one has on the other. One of the reports described was done by ClickZ News and they say:

“…found that online users exposed to both the search and display advertising campaigns purchased the advertiser’s products and services 244 percent more online and 89 percent more offline compared with users not shown the ads.”

I love seeing numbers like these. As I’ve stated in the past, I’m not a huge fan of print advertising, but I know that its a necessary expense for many companies due to its large impact on branding. Print advertising is costly and takes up a size-able percentage of an overall marketing budget, but when you see how one medium can impact another, you can more than justify the expense.

Now, does this mean you can go out and run print and search ads, let them run, and you’re on your way to an early retirement. No way! In order to achieve the success found in those studies, your messaging and strategy need to be consistent throughout. The mix between your display and online should support and strengthen each other and your overall message.

Are You Interacting With Your Target Market?

December 29, 2006

As I was breaking up boxes from numerous kids toys received by my kids this Christmas, I was reflecting on our gift buying this holiday. I couldn’t recall one gift that was not researched or purchased online. Granted, my wife and I are heavy Internet users, but this is not unusual anymore. We spent time on forums and product review posts looking for toys and gifts for relatives that had gotten good reviews and had high quality ratings. We found gift ideas and learned what others had luck with and what they recommended we avoid.

A recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine focused on online marketing going high-tech. The article, by Catherine Seda, discusses a study done that measured what technologies are being used by Internet users to talk and shop. The article suggested that we’re not in the minority for how we go about shopping and researching:

“This study suggests that heavy internet users aren’t sitting back, waiting to receive information. They’re chatting with colleagues. They’re creating content and conversations”

So, what does this have to do with marketing for small business? Plenty. As marketers, the rules are changing for us each day and how we reach our audience is a moving target. Social interaction online is becoming a norm and the use of high-tech media for marketing is now mainstream. As you look at your 2007 marketing strategy take a step back and make sure you’re giving your target market the interaction they need to analyze and purchase your product or service.

8 Steps to a Successful Marketing Campaign Launch

December 21, 2006

As I look down the road to the first quarter of 2007, my sights are getting set on developing our first marketing/sales campaign of the year. Creating and launching these campaigns is like dumping out Lego’s on the carpet and selecting which pieces will go into your masterpiece. Here’s where you get to bring together online marketing, print advertising, collateral, lead generation, search engine marketing and even a little database marketing. Its your chance to see what works the best together and what results can be achieved.

In a large corporation, people from multiple groups come together and collaboratively launch an effort such as this. For the small company marketer, much of the responsibility will fall on a much smaller group or maybe even you! To make this seem a little less daunting, I’ve put together some tips that have helped me launch campaigns.

  1. Focus the Campaign: This should be obvious, right? Well, it wasn’t to me when I first developed a campaign. There is a big difference in results when you ask your company’s sales team to call potential customers and say, “This is my company and we can help” versus “We have this product which solves this problem for you in your market”. I find the results are always better when you focus a campaign around a certain vertical or product family. For instance, my first quarter campaign will revolve around a product launch that is tailored towards a single vertical (with big potential, I might add).
  2. Know Your Targeted Audience: Research, research, research. Who is the audience and why do they need what you have to offer? If you can’t answer those two questions, try a different campaign. I do a ton of pre-campaign research with the intention of gathering enough information to present to my company’s sales team. Thus, educating them and empowering them to carry out the campaign. The more they know, the more confident they’ll be in talking about the product on which you’re focusing.
  3. Find the Right Messaging: Through your research, you should have come across enough information to create messaging that will be used across multiple marketing mediums for your campaign. Your messaging should be a strong, concise statement about how your product or service can solve a problem or ease the pain being experienced by your targeted vertical. This main talking point should be your central theme that is used in your collateral, banner ads, white papers, website landing pages, etc.
  4. Find the Right Marketing Mix: Now the fun part. What ingredients will I use in my campaign recipe? This should be a nice mix of online and offline material. Through your research you should have located where your target audience searches for information – trade magazines, online resource centers, eNewsletters, etc. Based on what you find and what your budget is for the campaign, select the avenues in which you’ll get the word out about your product or service.
  5. List or Database: Who is your sales group going to contact? Or, is this purely a marketing campaign with no sales push? Typically, I like to incorporate the sales team – they need to know what your focus is and why you’re planning the campaign. So, let’s put them to work. Do you have enough contacts for them to call in the target audience in your database? If not, look to a partner, such as a magazine, from which to purchase a membership list of some sort. These can make great outbound calling lists for your sales team. (They can also be a bust if you’re not careul, but we’ll cover that in a later post)
  6. Training: Whoever will participate in a calling campaign or be a contact point for an interested customer needs to be trained and briefed on the campaign. There is nothing worse then grabbing a potential customer’s interest and having them meet a brink wall when they call in. Enable your sales and customer service to help close the deal.
  7. Set Your Goals: Why are you doing the campaign? Is it to gain new customers? Is it to boost sales? Branding? Is it to let the marketplace know what you have to offer? Probably all of the above, right? Well, if so, make sure you’ve put some goals in place so you can track success.
  8. Launch and Track: You’ve done the work so now kick-off the campaign and start learning about what worked and what did not. If you’ve run a special promotion, track the effectiveness of the promotion. If you purchased online marketing components, track the customer response via click-throughs, online purchases, or lead generation.

Of course, every company is different and these 8 steps probably don’t work for everyone. But, there are fundamentals and groundwork in what I’ve mentioned that, if followed, will increase the results you see from your marketing and sales campaigns.