Altering Your Logo and Brand

Starbucks is changing it’s logo much as Nike did in the 90’s when it dropped their company name “Nike” from the logo, relying simply upon the “swoosh” as their brand image.

The changing of brand logos is hotly debated in marketing and advertising circles as some companies have successfully altered their brand and others have struggled with attempts, and lost ground.  But why is Starbucks doing this?  And further what effects might it have on their “branding” efforts with those not familiar with the Starbucks mermaid.

The power of branding comes from a consistent and methodical exposure of your prospective customer base to your company name and logo, hence the term “branding,” like a calf, get it?  If you truly want to brand, you have to commit just as companies like Nike and Starbucks have, to investing in the branding process.  Now what the branding process looks like depends on your customer and prospect base, what media they expose themselves to and the size of your budget.  But too often companies think a couple of post cards a year are effective enough to “burn-in” their brand image, that’s primarily because we as executives are exposed to our brand image everyday, so we begin to project our opinion on our brand, onto our prospective customer base.  Bad idea.

Consider that you have perhaps six to 10 competitors doing much of the same things you are to create “position” by burning in your brand image.  Now combine that with the hundreds of other products and brands your customers and prospects are exposed to daily and you can see that your brand is going to be forgotten pretty quickly.

The concept of changing brand images is nothing new, and sometimes it is necessary.  Often times logos and brand images become outdated and need to be updated to reflect corporate strategy changes, cultural shifts and recent design concepts.

But abrupt, dramatic shifts can be dangerous to brands with a  very well established brand and can often confuse a market and cause your products to fade into the clutter that is the background.  Instead, brands are often encouraged to make small changes over a period of time, often a few years until the brand is changed.  As an example, look at the old Aunt Jemima logo that we grew up with and contrast it with the new logo that changed in 1989 after public pressure about the “mammy looking” logo began to unsettle customers.

Whether or not Starbucks change of logo has a long-term effect on the company’s sales remains to be seen.  But one thing for sure, it has a lot of ad-men, and women talking and debating the intelligence of the move.  And underscores the importance of actively promoting your brand, keeping it consistent, and protecting it for future goodwill.

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Digital and Traditional Marketing Coexist

I’ve been saying it for years, now Google has provided a study which confirms it, savvy marketers are not a “one trick pony.”

While B2B companies continue to invest in digital media such as adwords, email and website, the astute marketers are also retaining traditional methods as well like trade shows, publication advertising and yes, direct mail.

The reason is pretty simple, your mix must be multi-channel to be certain you’re reaching the maximum number of targets.  For example, looking at your email statistics you will see that a 20% open rate (which is good) leaves 80% of your audience out of the loop.  How will you attempt to reach these targets with your messages?  Direct mail and other forms of direct response can help you shore up those you’re missing.

Make sure your messages, brands and strategies are consistent along the marketing continuum for creating the best awareness of your brand and company.  But be sure you’re reaching out with as many channels as makes sense for your market, your budget and your brand(s).

Read the full story HERE.

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How Are You Saying “Thanks” To Your Customers This Holiday Season

It’s the time of the year when we’re reminded it’s time to say thank you to our customers and wish them a “Happy Holiday and Prosperous New Year.”  But with technological advances and the speed at which we’re working, are we still keeping it personal?

I’ve worked with, and for, companies that send these nifty little email greeting cards. Cute, but personal?  I don’t think so.  I send personal cards, signed by me, not imprinted with my company name, to each of my clients.  Sure it takes time, but to me it’s worth every minute invested.

We live in an era where customers are forced to press a series of buttons to place an order or leave a message, when customer satisfaction is determined by a survey and email seems to be the order of the day. I think this is a great time for each of your sales reps to take the time to personally sign, address and add a personal note to each holiday card could be a nice touch.

And if you’re sending gift baskets or the like, be sure that your reps or company representatives are delivering them personally, if it is at all possible.  I realize you may have clients out of your delivery zone. But then, even some of those might deserve a trip to personally visit, and hand them their gift.  Trust me, clients appreciate the extra effort of getting out to see them in remote areas.

Oh, and just in case, you may want to consider Holiday Cards for professional use.  Merry Christmas could be an offense to customers that say, are Jewish or engage in a religion that does not recognize Christmas.  So keep it personal and keep it neutral.  But be sure to take the time to formally say it….Thank YOU!

Oh, and have a Happy Holiday and prosperous New Year to each of YOU.

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The Power of Blogging

I meet with customers who regularly ask me “why should I blog, why would anyone care?” In a media with literally millions of blogs, most of which having no substantive value or contributing to the improvement of an industry, it’s easy to see why many have this attitude.

However, pick the right target, make it interesting, have a strategy, and you can build an excellent base of readers, which will include regular customers and prospects.  Here’s an example.  In late 2007 just as the recession was gaining momentum, I noticed that all we heard on mainstream media was the negative, and the superlatives they would use for dramatic effect, I believed, could have a very negative impact on consumer confidence.  So I turned off mainstream and looked to reliable sources via the web for my news.  What I found was on any given day, around our country, there still were positive things going on in our economy.  There were industries flourishing, companies hiring, new products being introduced, and companies expanding.  Armed with a few good resources (Reuters, Yahoo & the NY Times primarily) I purchased the domain, set up a blog like this one here at WordPress, and re-broadcast my blog at the above address.

Niche the topic!  I looked for positive stories from our economy and simply pasted links to them with a short editorial (usually no more than a few sentences) that highlighted the topic.  This is called news “scraping” and is completely legal as long as you provide a link to the publisher’s page and don’t copy/paste the article on your site.  In fact, they enjoy the benefit of increased traffic to their site when someone clicks over to read the entire story.

I built categories for different segments of the news and made sure I tagged each entry appropriately, using “positive economic news” copy and tags as often as I could.  Within a few months when searching for positive economic news using any major search engine my site was slowly but steadily creeping up the page rankings, and since about January ’09 if you search for “positive economic news” OR several other combinations of these terms, my little blog has a #1 worldwide ranking for these terms.  Yes, my blog beats out NYT, Money, WSJ, Economist and all the others because I focused on one thing, and built a great library of entries related to…positive economic news.

I could go on for days about the personal benefits I’ve had since the blog reached this ranking but a few of the highlights included being interviewed by Smart Money magazine and, my blog, through the readers raised enough money to send 13 under privileged kids on their 8th grade field trip to Washington DC, that otherwise would not have been able to go, and the local press made a great story of it!

I have also had several customers and prospects link to the site so they can help spread the positive news to their customers and prospects.  Like I said, the benefits go on, but these are certainly a few of the highlights of my efforts.  In addition, I’ve heard from hundreds of folks thanking me for my efforts, some saying that because of my blog they were able to remain calm, knowing that in the end we’d be ok and their retirement accounts would come back…low and behold, our markets have returned…Not that I’m a financial genius or the like, but history has showed us, even through the depression, that we come back.

Blog communities like WordPress, Blogger and others are powerful communities that are highly indexed by search engines like Google and Yahoo.  The reason is simple, it’s usually more up-to-date and current that most traditional websites.  And that is a major component of search engine algorithms.

So as you can see, blogs can gain a lot of attention and hold a lot of power for you, your brand and your company.  Remember a few of these tips:

  1. Keep the content focused – You can have multiple people making entries, but be sure they’re all focusing on the same topic. For most of my customers I recommend a blog about safety (forklift and/or workplace), service “how to’s” and “don’t do’s”, Industry specialists targeting a narrow facet of materials handling…
  2. Scrape valuable content.  Look for related stories, summarize, and provide links to the content on your blog.
  3. Be sure the topic you’re targeting gets used in your entries.  If you’re talking forklift safety in Kentucky, be sure you’re using those words regularly, but don’t overdo it.
  4. Tag – Use tags so the content can be easily identified by web robots scouring the blogosphere.
  5. Use RSS to allow people to subscribe to your page. When you update, they’re automatically notified.
  6. Get a twitter account and tweet out your latest post.

It takes time, but as you can see, if you narrow your target and be patient, you too can have a blog garnering a lot of attention.  And attention is the first stage to awareness, which is the first step to conversion to sales.

Good selling!

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Using Direct Mail To Boost Online Traffic

It’s nice to get an echo every now and then and this week Marketing Profs provided a loud and clear support for using direct mail to boost your online traffic.

Direct mail costs more to send however I’ve always submitted you can not be a “one trick pony” meaning you must use alternating media to create awareness.  Not everyone will be reached using email campaigns, SEO, social media etc… And direct mail is a great alternative to build brand identity to those outside the “e-stream.”

In addition, with belt buckles tightening there is less competition for attention with direct mail, meaning your piece is more likely to get through to the decision maker.  The article gives some good tips and strategy for direct mail, so I’ll let them speak to it.

I will say I like post cards and “quick hit” types of direct mail.  You have only a few seconds to get attention before the piece either gets deep sixed or placed on the desk for further investigation.  So be sure the front has your brand, and/or an offer and a good argument for listening on the front.  Then point to a good reason to turn the card over and continue on the back.

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It All Started With An Add On Craigslist

Some time ago I posted my experience with Downtown Ford in Louisville, and how their superior customer service and downright friendly atmosphere has made me a customer for life, barring a turn for the worst.  Well I’m here to continue the saga that again, started with me finding one of their used vehicles on Craigslist.

The Mustang that I purchased there last year was nearly totalled (no fault of my wife) and Downtown Ford worked like a friend to see us through the process and delivered a car back to us that you literally couldn’t tell had a scratch on it previously. Considering the accident did $15,000 damage, that’s quite a feat.  Now the saga continues

Same car, same wife, this time though…..her bad.  Fender bender, not nearly as bad as the first.  So when Allstate asked where I was taking the car for repair there wasn’t a doubt in my mind where the Mustang was going for repair.  One call to Fran in shop at Downtown Ford and she said she’d have a rental waiting for me, and when I arrived guess what?  I was in and out in about 10 minutes!  Now not that I’m a hurry up type of guy, but that’s pretty damned impressive!

So here’s the deal…many of us market our businesses and try to create separation from our competition by saying things like “superior customer service” but as I’ve said many times, in several posts, marketing goes far beyond the advertising materials and sales people to include everyone in your company that has contact with the customer. What is your company’s plan to ensure that every employee, every day, understands that each experience with each customer needs to be like it’s the first one, and treat that customer like you want to keep them for life, because as I can attest, there are many people that when they find a vendor that they feel treats them fairly, is expedient in their dealings and knows what they’re doing, there’s no reason to go anywhere else.

To summarize, from a FREE ad Downtown Ford placed on Craigslist they’ve generated a customer that not only sings their praises here and other places, but has generated some $60,000 in revenue.  Never underestimate the media available to your business and never underestimate the abilities of your employees…cultivate it, nurture it, and demand it, and it will pay off…

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Email Still Driving Shopping over Social

While my clients are B2B, it is safe to say that as consumers, they probably follow this trend and highlights what I’ve said for many months.  Email is still very viable for many reasons and should be part of any company’s marketing arsenal.

Social media is just that, social.  People go to social arenas to socialize, not be sold to.  I believe it is appropriate for brands to mingle and mix with their audiences via social platforms, but selling to them is best kept to traditional forms of offer extensions including email, direct mail (yes it made the list), and text messaging, the top three when it comes to receiving offers.

Read the entire article HERE.

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