Tag Archives: Brand awareness

The Cults of Personalities

1 Nov

Three Takeaways from the 2016 Elections

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Guest contributor:
Matt Hillman, Creative Director

This blog was written in the final weeks leading up the 2016 presidential election, and regardless of where you stand in the political spectrum or what the results might have been, we can all agree: this was a rough one.

Sure, the issues are important and the stakes are high, but this race was particularly intense because the finalists in the election race were not just people—they were brands.

Brands aren’t reserved for names or logos; brands are what we feel in our gut when we are regularly exposed to a company, product, service or even people. And the people in this election were definitely larger than life.

With so much riding on their shoulders, the candidates came to represent more than just their platforms—people across the country associated the candidates with ways of life, with values, and in some cases the candidates became lightning rods for everything controversial.

So what can we learn from the campaign from a brand perspective?

  1. Brands Are About Belonging

As stated in a PBS Frontline episode, “people join and stay with cults for the exact same reasons as people join and stay with brands…the desire to belong to something.” Well beyond political platforms or ideologies, each candidate’s supporters projected what they wanted each candidate to represent onto them, viewing the candidate as the key to gaining what they desired most. We see this in brands all the time, with beverages suggesting they deliver a way of life or level of happiness that other drinks cannot.

  1. Brands Are Divisive

To those who align themselves with a brand, that brand is a symbol of something (or many things) the person values, respects, and supports. But conversely, that same brand can come to represent the opposite to others who don’t support it—something insolent, subversive, and even dangerous. While many enjoy Starbucks and feel good about the company’s policies, others see it as a money-hungry organization that dupes customers. Similarly, we saw this often with some fans not simply supporting their candidate, but growing to hate the opposing nominee—and the people associated with them.

  1. Brands Confound Logic

If someone is, say, a fan of Ford trucks, it makes absolutely no difference what the data says about power, capacity, style, etc. If this person is “a Ford guy,” none of that matters. Reason and logic take a backseat to association and alignment; in fact, if you push the issue too far, they become irritated and irrational. In other words, brand is all about emotion. Again, we saw this repeatedly in this election, with normally stable, rational people screaming and chanting, refusing to engage in civil discourse, or unwilling to entertain an opposing view.

So regardless of your vote, it’s important to remember that behind the people, parties, and platforms lurked brands—and a valuable reminder that just like Ford vs. Chevy, Coke vs. Pepsi, or Apple vs. Samsung, election brands can be an ugly affair.

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Demand Generation Tips for 2017

27 Oct

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Most of our clients are in the midst or near completion of their 2017 marketing planning. An important element we’re discussing with them is their demand generation strategy.

Demand generation is a catch-all term that refers to the marketing elements your business employs to boost audience awareness and interest in what you offer.

As you consider your company’s demand generation toolbox, keep these online elements and tips in mind.

1. User-generated content

Most people spend at least a few minutes a day on social media. Facebook is the largest social platform with an average of 1.13 billion active users in June 2016.

Remember, when users share their experience with your company or how your product provided a viable solution to a sticky problem, their social media connections – as well as others who can see their content – are paying attention.

2. Audience engagement tools

Today’s customers don’t want to stand idly by while being lectured about the merits of your products and services. They want to engage and be part of the action.

Draw your customers in and keep them coming back with interactive content. Try infographics, quizzes, polls, videos, calculators and more.

3. Easy reading

Break content into bite-size chunks that can be easily read – and shared – in a short time. Use a story-telling narrative, as well as bullets and sub-heads, so info is skim-able, and web- and mobile-friendly.

4. Maximize budget

According to Hubspot, budgets for content marketing will continue to increase in 2017. Knowing how to effectively use resources is key to boosting demand and elevating your business.

Take the guesswork out of demand generation. Let’s talk about how we can work together to develop the tools your business needs to lead and achieve your marketing goals.

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Content Marketing No-No’s

1 Jul

Don’t Let Your Company Make These Content Marketing Mistakes!

Do vs. Don't

Content is easy, right? All you have to do is write a couple pages about a product you sell and people will want to read it, right?Because what you have to say is just so interesting, right? Anyone can do it, right? It’s so easy, right?

Not so fast. Those of us who do it often know that creating useful, interesting content that is relevant to your audience at the exact moment they need it is not as easy as it looks. I talked about that at length in my last blog post, focusing on the importance of bringing together Buyer Personas and the Buyer Journey for a complete 360° view of your audience before ever beginning to create content for them.

While it’s a common mistake not to look at your audience from both of those angles, there are other content marketing mistakes you can make just as easily. A recent articlefrom MarketingProfs highlighted a few:

  1. Not Knowing Your Audience: This one is similar to what I talked about in my last blog post. The biggest mistake a content marketer can make is creating content that doesn’t entertain, educate, or solve a problem for your customer. If you’re treating content like it’s all about you and your brand, it’s a surefire way to create disinterest in your audience—especially if they’re just beginning their Buyer Journey.
  2. Not Having a Brand Voice: Develop one, and keep it consistent. While you might make minor tweaks in tone depending on the tactic or type of content, all your content should ultimately sound like the same person is speaking. A good tip from this article is that you should even go as far as creating a style guide and performing “content audits” to see where inconsistencies occur.
  3. Not Enough Distribution: Blogs and social media aren’t the end-all be-all, especially in B2B content marketing. How you distribute your content marketing is just as important as the content you produce. Remember: if you write it, they will not necessarily come. Consider high-traffic areas of your website, industry association websites, and trusted industry publications.

Content marketing is tricky. As much as we want to simplify it into easily digestible steps that produce great leads and even greater sales, it doesn’t always work that way. It’s trial and error. It’s trying different distribution methods and different types of content. It’s testing and—well, more testing. But what it isn’t is “easy.” Regardless, that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain mistakes we can all avoid as marketers. For more about content marketing mistakes to avoid, read the full article or check out my last blog post.

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3 Things Building Materials Marketers Should Take Away From Super Bowl Ads

5 Feb

So God Made a Farmer - Dodge

Besides the fact that Super Bowl is a trademarked NFL name

Like millions of people around the world, I watched Super Bowl 47 and was amazed at the resiliency of the 49ers, but also how regardless of the fact you can plan for every possible contingency, sometimes things go wrong and the lights go out.

As a lifelong football fan and career marketer, the Super Bowl represents the Holy Grail. No it’s not saving anyone’s life, but if you look back at the greatest campaigns or ads, the Super Bowl is where they were born. From the Macintosh 1984 ad, to the e-trade baby, to the Bud Light “Waasssup” guys, we always seem to remember one or two of the ads. But after the millions of dollars and the endless lists of top ads, do they really work?

As most people saw, there were some really well done mini-films like the Dodge ad with the Paul Harvey voice over, but there were also offensive ads like the Go Daddy kiss ad. So which was more effective? Time can only tell, but from a brand perspective, I’d bet Dodge faired better.

The 3 things I try to think about when watching the ads are:

1. Does this ad connect me to the brand?

  • Several of the ads connected with me. The Dodge farmer spot, the Clydesdale ‘remember’ spot and the Audi prom spot all made an emotional connection with me and their brand. Not because I grew up on a farm, or because I love my animals, nor because I got to take my brother’s brand new Corvette to senior prom. They connected with me by telling a story.

2. Does this ad make me want to buy their product?

  • Somebody asked me via Twitter about the call-to-action on a spot and my comment was, hardly any of these ads had a true call-to-action. They’re brand awareness building. But I will say as a GoDaddy customer after sitting on the couch with my 7-year-old daughter, I really don’t want to give Bob Parson any more money.

3. Would I share this message?

  • In today’s social world, this is a big one. Used to be that you had to watch the Super Bowl to see the ads. Now they’re ‘leaked’ early or they’re on YouTube. But as I watched the game on the TV screen and interacted with Twitter on my iPad screen, I realized the purpose is as much to inform, as it is to create evangelists; people that will talk about your brand, your product, and your message.

So how do we as building material marketers use this annual ritual of advertising and branding excess? We remember to tell our story, to connect to our audience, to not offend our customers, and most importantly we produce messages that our customers want to share. Learn more about understanding your customer.

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