Category Archives: Advertising

Taking Digital Content to the Trade Show

Recently a client of mine was attending a trade show for a selected group who could use his services. It was not an audience that was his “bread and butter” but a crowd that could help him seriously expand certain areas of his business. As usual, he packed up his display, business cards and brochure. But this year, he took something else along.

I had been working with him for some time on his blog posts and I suggested that for this newer audience, we create a special handout featuring the content of the blog directed at this audience on how to select services they need. The article was not an advertisement, but a piece with valuable information that would help the trade show attendees compare my client against others they would meet. The one-page, 8-1/2” x 11” handout was branded with his logo, picture and contact information but the content itself was extremely objective. Nevertheless, by distributing the content, he established himself as the authoritative source on vetting service providers and competitors.

The client was happy to have something to give away other than marketing materials or a novelty trinket and those that stopped by his booth appreciated the forthright information in the piece. The best part for the client was that the content had already been created…on his site.

I think many companies fall prey to underutilizing the content they already have available to them, especially if they are going to a trade show and already have an amazing booth. The booth should say it all, right? Well, maybe, but most companies don’t change their booth as quickly as their industry changes. Your digital content, on the other hand, can keep up with regulatory changes, emerging trends, etc.

Before you head off to the trade show, take your marketing efforts a little further…

  1. THINK about what kind of information the trade show attendees will most be seeking from businesses like yours and what kind of information your company can specifically provide that will inform, surprise or impress them.
  2. SEARCH for the information in your digital cache.
  3. PRESENT it for display or distribution at the trade show in the most effective way, depending on the type of information you are working with.

For example, if you have a blog, you already have the fundamentals of a great addition to your trade show display or booth. You can repurpose selected posts by presenting or distributing them at the trade show…

  • As a branded, pdf handout
  • As a few, summarized main points on a banner, poster or novelty
  • As a brief guide, booklet, or handout for customers to use as a guide that summarizes a series of related posts
  • As a slideshare or powerpoint presentation that loops continuously
  • As a video presentation
  • As an infographic, on a table top display or banner
  • As your own particular novelty item, sharing your wisdom (ex., a deck of cards, a USB, a paperweight, work of art, flag, t-shirt, etc.)

Before or after the event, those related blog posts can even be summarized or “teased” in social media to interest the audience leading up to the event.

The moral of the story is to never forget the information you have out in cyberspace as you’re packing up for the trade show. You don’t want to miss the chance to tell the trade show attendees what they are wanting to hear from companies like yours.

Go Ahead. Disrupt My Day.

 

If you’re like most Americans, you noticed something different about the election.  His name was Donald Trump.

He said whatever he wanted. He did whatever he wanted. He disrupted our day because his message was innovative, as was his delivery.

The definition of disruptive innovation, according to Wikipedia, is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.

Does that mean Trump will become the “new” kind of politician that Americans will continue to elect? Will he replace the established, experienced, “stately”, politically correct model of politician that we have come to expect?

No matter what your political opinions, or what happens in the next four years, American politics have now changed. An outsider has triumphed, in part due to his disruptive approach to which created his ability to stand out from his opponents. For better or for worse, Donald Trump captured the world’s attention from the moment he began his campaign. He was aiming to disrupt the status quo of politics, and his succeeded.

As marketers, disrupting your audience’s day can work to your benefit too.

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When I see the billboards and advertisements for Chick-Fil-A, starring a cow who wants you to eat more chicken, I can’t help but chuckle. Like most innovations, there is risk involved and the decision makers had to climb on board with an unorthodox idea. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall as the Richards Agency pitched those cows to Chick-Fil-A. They were planning to sell chicken with no chicken involved. The campaign idea, now more than a decade old, was something so out of the ordinary that you can’t help but talk about it. The cow mascots helped propel the company to the #1 spot in the nation for chicken sales, even surpassing KFC. Now that’s disruptive!

ad-just-got-better-340I’m sure the next four years will be filled with more disrupted days, just as they have been now that Donald Trump is nearing inauguration. I think disruption begets disruption. For example, the quintessential example of disruptive technology is the iPod. The iPod changed the way we bought, listened and interacted with music on a global scale. Ever since that first product introduction, CEO Steve Jobs, marketing genius that he was,  was smart enough to keep the excitement going. To this day, whenever the new iPhone comes out, the world seems to stop and watch. Every new piece of technology is marketed as a life-changing event, something that will redefine our society. While it might be simply a product upgrade, the original expectation and reputation that Apple has built for disruptive technology continues to play repeatedly, like a familiar song everyone wants to hear. If you’re lucky enough to endear yourself to your audience with something disruptive, you will create an expectation for more of the same!

Good disruptive marketing also makes you look, but GREAT disruptive marketing brings you into a different world.  For example, here in the Chicago area, two local hospitals, Edward and Elmhurst, recently went through a merger and successive rebranding. I recently attended a seminar where the in-house creative team explained the branding process and how they set out to be disruptive. Instead of following the rule book on hospital branding using the usual colors and language, their goal was to find a new brand, different from every other hospital–something exciting that no one had ever done before.

Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare's "Healthy Driven" initiative features professional race car driver Danica Patrick. Through the campaign, Patrick is encouraging healthy behaviors through Edward-Elmhurst's Danica Patrick Healthy Driven Challenge at HealthyDriven.com. Patrick is a native of Roscoe, Illinois. (PRNewsFoto/Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare)

Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare’s “Healthy Driven” initiative features professional race car driver Danica Patrick. Through the campaign, Patrick is encouraging healthy behaviors through Edward-Elmhurst’s Danica Patrick Healthy Driven Challenge at HealthyDriven.com. Patrick is a native of Roscoe, Illinois. (PRNewsFoto/Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare)

The result of their search was the “Healthy Driven” campaign, with racecar driver Danica Patrick involved as a spokesperson. They set out to be “provocative, yet welcoming”. Instead of subdued, soothing colors they embraced red-hot, bold orange, yellow, and black hues. Messages were edgy, empowering people and encouraging them to take responsibility for their health. But the idea of “healthy driven” was more than an ad campaign. It penetrated every program at the hospital. In fact, the marketing director said they knew the brand had really touched their audience when a disgruntled patient, calling about his bills, told the operator on the other end of the line they did not have a very “healthy driven” attitude!

This November we learned a valuable lesson about disruption and how powerful it can be whether it is viewed positively or negatively. Trying something disruptive in your marketing campaigns can be successful for many companies, and it can be successful for you too. Don’t be afraid to do something unusual, bold, and unorthodox to reach your audience. The ground you break may pave the way for a disruptive innovation for your brand.

If you are interested in exploring disruptive marketing techniques for your brand, I’d love to brainstorm with you! Contact me at 630.778.6182.

Five Hidden Values of a Marketing Consultant

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Marketing consultants are an amazing tool for small or medium sized businesses that need to expand their media exposure, reach a new audience, promote an award they have received, or accomplish other marketing goals. When companies have a need for marketing, they have two choices. They can use their internal marketing department (or even establish one) or they can hire an outside marketing expert. The decision usually depends on budget and resources, human and otherwise. Both internal and external marketing professionals can do a smashing job for a company. In general, however, marketing consultants, by virtue of their external perspective, can bring something even more valuable to the table, without charging an extra cent!

1. Creative Solutions Born of Experience. An external marketing consultant may have experience in yours and other industries that can come in handy in unconventional ways. They may have seen marketing strategies before that have helped other clients. They may have tried a strategy in another industry that may work in yours too. They may have experience with technology and tools that can bring results, like electronic press release distribution systems and SEO keyword planners. Let their experience enrich yours!

2. A New Perspective. Employees in an internal marketing department are employed by the company and often see everything from the company perspective. They may be there to grow their career and become a lifelong employee or just as likely be there for the paycheck and be biding their time for a better opportunity. An outside force like a marketing consultant sees things objectively, and from a different angle. In their position, they’ve had access to many different types of corporate cultures, leadership styles and marketing strategies. They’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be surprised if they propose something completely different to you that you’ve never considered before. It’s part of the hidden value of a consultant!

3. Resources. One reason you hire an outside marketing consultant is because you don’t have the time, experience, or manpower to handle the marketing for your company. Marketing experts have all three for your business, as well as access to marketing resources that you might not know about and knowledge of many different resources for promoting a business. There are always new ways that a business can use social media, networking, and promotional material that a business owner might need.  As a marketing consultant, I have connections with specialists who can produce e-blasts, search optimization, and other tools to help businesses reach a wider audience.

4. Publicity opportunities. Marketing consultants are always on the lookout for publicity opportunities. Everything promotional tool that crosses a good marketing consultant’s path is a possibility for their client. Awards programs, for example, are a great way to put your business in the spotlight while participating in the community. As a marketing consultant, I do a variety of work for clients, but I always keep an eye out for opportunities to do even more. Sometimes I am called in to proofread a website or write content for a whitepaper, but if I find other ways that a business can make itself more accessible, I’ll let my client know! A good marketing consultant knows that their client’s success equals their own.

5. Business Consulting. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. Sometimes the entrepreneur may feel like they are the only one in the business who truly cares about the company’s success. It’s helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off of and talk to about other, non-marketing related issues. As a marketing consultant, clients often ask me about human resources, pricing, sourcing, etc. I always try to have the answer for them and hope that my advice has saved them hours of googling for information!

So when you need a helping hand with your marketing, remember that a good consultant brings more with them than just what it says on their business card. If you need an example of what that might be, feel free to contact me.

 

Ten Ways to Promote Your Business After You’ve Won an Award

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So you’ve won a business award. Congratulations!

After you’re done with the awards ceremony, the handshakes, the acceptance speech, the photo op and the positioning of the trophy on the front desk of your office, remember, the power of that award is yet to be unleashed. Don’t leave the story to be told only to those who enter your office. It’s time to tell the world!

Chances are the organization, non-profit or publication that gave you the award will have some public relations efforts in place. They will probably have a press release prepared and distributed with the names of the winners on it. If you are a sole winner, this may or may not be the case. If you are a winner in a multi-category or multi-tiered competition, the press release will include names of all winners. Whether you are a sole winner or one among many, it is always a good idea to make the investment to do the most important thing you can do…

  1. Issue your own personalized press release. Why should you do this, you ask, if the organization is doing their own press release? For several reasons. First, your own press release allows you to describe your business and include a quote from your president or CEO which helps increase your brand awareness and the award’s significance to your company. Second, you can customize the distribution to the right trade and local publications, which may lead to a feature story or other opportunities. You may or may not be privy to the media list from the awarding organization and many of the outlets may have no meaning for your customers and potential customers. Finally, in some markets, your release may provide a secondary touchpoint for the news. You can never get your name into the press too often!
  1. Announce the award on social media. If you have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even just Linkedin, make the announcement with nice images of the actual award or the company representative receiving the award. As you know, the beauty of social media is its shareability. That’s why social media is a great way to get the word out to the world as quickly as possible.
  1. Announce the Award Internally. It’s important for morale that your employees know they have won an award so they too can spread the news. It’s even a greater morale booster to have a small in-house celebration, which can be as inexpensive as allowing a casual dress day or bringing in donuts or a celebratory cake. The announcement can be made orally or in writing, with a description of the ways the award will be publicized, and of course an invitation for them to share the company social media posts about the accolade.
  1. Add “award winning” to all company descriptions. After they win an award, I tell my clients from that day on, they now have the right to call themselves an “award winning” company. It’s not bragging—it’s a fact, and one that can be used in many occasions to add authority and relevance to the company.
  1. Add to company collateral (stickers). It’s often Murphy’s Law that the day the new brochure rolls off the press, the company wins an award which of course is then not mentioned in the brochure. I often recommend a company produce inexpensive, but tasteful looking stickers that can be affixed to marketing materials like a seal, stating the name of the award.
  1. Add to your email signature. Your email signature is seen daily by scores of people who may not know about your award. Just add a statement that says “winner of the (year) (award name). Be inconspicuous, yet bold.
  1. Consider an advertisement. It’s common for companies to take out an advertisement after they’ve won an award to call attention to their achievement, or to possibly congratulate fellow winners.
  1. Tell clients individually or in company newsletter. Winning an award is a great time to touch base with clients and thank them for their patronage. Some companies even go as far as to make a special direct mail piece card that is an announcement and “out of the blue” show of appreciation for their clients. Announcing it on the company newsletter is another good place, or any other marketing materials that typically hit your clients.
  1. Signage. Right near my home is a car wash that was honored as a “best of” from a local magazine as voted on by the readers. It is a banner that hangs outside, just above the front door. My first thought? Smart. More companies should do that!20150710_134719
  1. Website home page. Finally, an often overlooked but very important place to put your award is on your website home page. A mention, a graphic element, a slider image or banner are all ways to represent the award on your website.

It’s your award so make it count! Can you think of any other ways to publicize your awards? Leave me a comment and let me know!

THE HEAD VS. THE HEART: A FREELANCE ADVERTISING COPYWRITER’S TAKE ON FEATURES AND BENEFITS

Big Ideas Writing Blog

If you’re a business owner, your product or service has both features and benefits.  Both are important in the advertising and marketing process, but there is a critical difference between the two that can really be boiled down to this:  features appeal to the head, while benefits appeal to the heart.

A feature is a characteristic of your product or service.  For example, you may offer the lowest prices in town, or the highest quality product or the best customer service.  You may have a different approach to doing what you do or do it faster than the other guys. These are the features you offer for your product or service that consumers rationally weigh to make purchasing decisions.

A benefit, on the other hand, is the extra special something the customer gets when they purchase your product or service.   While the list of product features will appeal to the rational part of us, the benefits of buying or purchasing a product or service may appeal to our emotions.  Benefits give us an emotional connection to the product–a resulting good feeling, like security, love or status.  The benefit might also be a byproduct of buying the product—saving time, money, or hassle.

A good example of this is in the fashion world, where many of us are apt to “pay for the label” in our clothing.  While we may be able to buy a similar shirt, in a similar style from somewhere else, we may want the real thing from the original designer.  Even when the real shirt and the facsimile shirts have indistinguishably similar features, we feel the benefit of buying from the designer.  We are wearing a “genuine” brand and it makes us feel good, successful, or rewarded in some way.

In marketing communications and website copy, it is always preferable to emphasize benefits over features to tell the audience not just what you do, but what great outcome they can expect when they choose you.   However, in advertising, when a company’s offering is truly unique and has a feature that is not available from the competition, advertising the feature can be very effective.

 Advertising to the Head

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This advertisement from Dyson goes straight to the head, and the feature.  It  appeals to our rational decision–making process. If I don’t want my vacuum to clog, I should buy a Dyson. It’s that simple.

No finesse and subtly here, but the ad works because they are making a claim that other vacuums either cannot, or have chosen not to attempt to make.  The sheer fact that they make the claim so plainly holds power in itself. We think to ourselves, this feature must really perform!

However, for companies whose product is mighty similar to the competition’s, they may need a more emotional appeal focused overtly or subtly, on benefits.  Take insurance for instance. 

Advertising to the Heart

Big-Ideas-Writing-Blog-Advertising-CopywritingThis ad goes directly to the heart, doesn’t it?  It is obviously meant to evoke some emotion and it certainly does. We all put ourselves in the place of the car’s owner and inwardly groan.  How would we deal with it?  State Farm Insurance tells us they would be there to help and thereby exploits a key business benefit that we all know to be true: it’s good to do business with people you know.  And State Farm is there to remind us that they are the people you know, our “good neighbor.”

Nike is an established brand of quality footwear but they have many worthy competitors who offer products with similar features.  So, they wisely choose to advertise a benefit.

Big-Ideas-Writing-Blog-Advertising-CopywritingHere we see an atypical athlete chugging away to his fitness goal.  Nike attempts to appeal to us all and exploits the benefit we can derive from having the right footwear. All we need is Nike to find our greatness, and do what we need to in order to succeed, whether or not the odds are against us.   It’s a powerful, emotional message very subtly presented as a benefit to buying Nike shoes.

Have you thought about the features and benefits of your product and services?  It’s the first step to deciding how you would put together an ad.  Does your product or service offer a feature not available from the competition?  Or do you need help determining the benefits of your products to put together a good ad?  I’d be happy to discuss it with you.  Contact me for a free consultation.