Do You Want to Drive James Bond’s Car?

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Car running in a racetrack.

From the famous Aston Martin to the Bentley of Casino Royale, the cars of James Bond are famous enough to warrant their own Wikipedia page. Many fans who flock to the James Bond movies love salivating over these gorgeous cars and the incredible gadgets they are often outfitted with to make them even more spectacular. Like everything else about James Bond, people love the cars for their association with class, bravery, heroism, and the mysterious yet luxurious life of the world’s most famous (fictional) MI6 agent.

Of course, as anyone familiar with advertising knows, the cars chosen for the James Bond movies, just like the conveniently placed Coca-Cola, Subway sandwich, or Apple computer in your favorite movies and shows, were not chosen by accident. It’s all a part of something called product placement, and brands will pay a considerable amount of money to get their products featured in popular television and movie time slots.

Why Does Product Placement Matter?

It’s all a part of tapping into the consumer’s head in a process known as the bandwagon effect. According to the bandwagon effect, when we see people we admire or members of a group we’re a part of (or want to be a part of) using a particular product, we want to use it, too. In other words, when we see people on our favorite sitcom sitting down to enjoy a Subway sandwich with an ice cold Coke, we think that sounds like a fantastic meal option the next time we want to find something easy and fast for lunch.

Tapping into this powerful phenomenon isn’t reserved just for major brands with seemingly limitless marketing budgets. Even smaller companies can implement and reap the benefits of the bandwagon effect in their advertising. Here are some great ways to get started:

Use Images and Quotes from Real Customers

People enjoy feeling like part of a group. When you use images of real customers using your products, along with some reviews that use names (instead of just being anonymous), you help to build this type of group.

Build a Strong Social Network

People use social media to connect with their friends and family members as well as the brands they enjoy. Building a strong social network around a particular brand can help attract more people to your business. As people participate in your conversations and ‘like’ your products on Facebook, for instance, those activities will start to show up in their friends’ newsfeeds, introducing them to your brand. Similarly, if people retweet you on Twitter or otherwise interact with your brand, they’ll be spreading your company’s message. With the bandwagon effect, people will be naturally drawn to the brands and interests of their friends.

Encourage Others to Share Their Experiences with Your Brand

Encourage people to share their experiences with your brand, particularly through social media. Hold contests, and invite people to submit pictures of themselves using your products or telling stories about their use of a service you provide. Such interactions naturally help to promote positive experiences with your brand and show the number of people who appreciate your company.

Movies and television are excellent platforms for brands looking to take advantage of the bandwagon effect through product placement. If you want to see how well this psychological phenomenon can work for you, consider using some of the above techniques. Building a strong following around your brand is an excellent way to grow any business.

Creating In-Store Signs Your Customers Can’t Help But Notice

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Baker in Shop Doorway

When people set out to create compelling print marketing materials for their business, they normally (and appropriately) devote a lot of attention to the types of elements that will attract new customers. Obviously, the design of that print direct mail brochure is key because it will always be someone’s first exposure to the brand. However, many people fail to pay enough attention to another area that is equally important: in-store signage. Remember, just because someone is already in your store doesn’t mean the marketing machine can take the afternoon off. When it comes to designing the types of in-store signs your customers can’t help but notice, there are a few key things you’ll need to keep in mind.

Keep It Simple

If you’re designing print marketing materials to send out into the world, one of your instincts may be to try to pack as much helpful information into those materials as possible. After all, you can only have one first impression, so you need to make it a good one. When it comes to in-store signage, however, you’ll have better results if you dial back your instincts a bit and keep things as short and as sweet as possible.

Think about the language you’re using on in-store signs the same way you would the headline in a newspaper. The brochures and other documents you’re sending out into the world are like the newspaper articles themselves — they contain all of the information required to answer any questions the customer may have and guide them further down the sales funnel. In-store signs are the headlines — they give you just enough information to help you in that moment, but they don’t try to tell the whole story.

It’s All About the Focus

Because so much of your marketing focuses on selling yourself, it’s natural for that instinct to carry over into the world of in-store signage, too. It’s easy to forget you already have the customer right where you want them. Now it’s up to the products (or, more specifically, the way you’re showcasing those products) to finish the job.

Your in-store signage needs to showcase not only what a product might do, but why someone might need it. Your signs should sell people on the benefits of what you’re offering, not necessarily on your brand. For maximum effectiveness, use your signs to provide quick answers to questions like “What can product X do for me?” and “Why will product Y make my day easier?”

Above all else, there’s one key term you always need to keep in mind when designing in-store signs: compelling. If the types of signs you’re creating are always compelling and are always created with the best interest of your customers in mind, they will succeed on multiple levels. Not only will they immediately attract the attention of anyone who looks at them, but they will also add to the overall value of the experience customers are having in your store. Good signage can help turn first time customers into repeat customers in the long run.

Trade Shows Are One Opportunity You Just Can’t Afford to Pass Up

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high angle view of a group of business executives at an exhibition

Like any business, you probably use a wide range of marketing materials in an attempt to spread your message far and wide. Even though you rely heavily on the print techniques that have worked so well in the past, you’ve probably also branched out into the wonderful world of social media and digital marketing. But one marketing opportunity remains largely untapped by many businesses. That opportunity is the trade show, which brings with it a wide range of opportunities you can’t ignore.

There Are Few Better Ways to Engage Than at a Trade Show

One challenge of any marketing campaign is grabbing the attention of your target audience. In a lot of cases, those who receive your mailers or who see your posts on social media aren’t necessarily looking for your particular product or service at that time, which means you not only have to grab hold of their attention in a meaningful way, but you also need to do whatever it takes to maintain their attention until they are ready to buy.

In contrast, a trade show is essentially the exact opposite situation. Trade shows, by their very nature, are designed to bring both consumers and businesses together in a venue where interaction is the name of the game. You don’t have to struggle to grab their attention — they’ve shown they’re already willing to give it to you just by walking through the door. As a result, trade shows are excellent opportunities to create lasting impressions.

Trade Shows Are Amazingly Effective at Generating Leads

If you want a clear-cut example of just how big an opportunity your next trade show is, look no further than the number of attendees. The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, for example, brings in over 150,000 people on an annual basis. Even niche shows like the San Diego Comic Book Convention, which is a bit of a mecca for all things entertainment and pop culture, draws over 100,000 people (and growing) annually.

This represents a massive opportunity for generating leads you literally won’t find anywhere else. Every single person who walks through the door is a potential lead just waiting to do business with somebody like you.

Everyone Has an Equal Voice at a Trade Show

Perhaps the most important benefit of trade shows, however, is one of equality. A company with $1,000,000 to spend on marketing materials and a company with only $1,000 to spend are essentially on completely equal ground. If you can make a solid presentation and have your booth staffed with helpful materials and the right employees, you’ll attract visitors who will stop and hear what you have to say.

From the lasting impressions they tend create to the face-to-face encounters you just won’t find anywhere else, trade shows are truly an excellent opportunity to reach new customers. There are few better venues for finding like-minded individuals who are already interested in your particular industry. If you play your cards right, practice brand consistency, and put your best foot forward, you’ll discover trade shows are an investment that can pay dividends for a lifetime.

Maintaining a Balanced Marketing Diet

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Food collage

We all have favorite foods. If you’re like most people, your favorite food is probably not the healthiest, either. Some people have a weakness for pies, while others prefer brownies, cakes, or even just rich and delicious pasta. No matter how much we may like one particular food, however, we all know we need to limit our intake of it. No one can survive on just one single type of food.

Imagine parents trying to introduce their baby to new foods. Although they might focus on a particular food for a meal, they aim to create a rich and varied diet for their child. Each type of food has different benefits that help the child become healthy and strong. The different parts of the body all require different nutrients to keep them functioning properly. If a person’s diet becomes too concentrated on a particular food, they’ll end up short of the nutrients found in other types of foods. This can result in a variety of disorders resulting from nutritional deficiencies.

A Similar Concept Applies to Business Promotion and Marketing

It’s easy in business to limit yourself to just a few marketing techniques. You might look at the success others are having on social media and want to confine your marketing to social media. Or, if your company’s been around for several decades, you might feel reluctant to dive into new digital and inbound marketing techniques and try instead to keep growing your business using cold calls and other outbound techniques.

This level of restriction will seriously deplete your business of the growth it needs to succeed in the modern market. Just like a person who eats only pasta dishes, your business might continue to grow, but without many key nutrients needed to sustain that growth. Eventually, the person trying to survive on only pasta will notice they don’t feel as healthy as they once did, and you’ll notice the same about your business if you limit yourself to just one or two marketing strategies.

Developing a Well-Rounded Campaign

It’s important in business to maintain a balanced diet of marketing techniques. This means integrating a variety of different marketing strategies to reach your targeted audience efficiently. Every company will have different marketing platforms and systems that work best for them. Finding the right balance can help your company stay healthy and prosper.

With that in mind, here are a few steps to consider as you begin to plan an integrated campaign across several platforms.

  1. Carefully identify the ideal buyer for your brand by analyzing current customers and using market research.
  2. Determine where your ideal customers can be found through research and speaking with existing customers.
  3. Implement a campaign across the key platforms identified.
  4. Measure what aspects of the campaign are most successful at bringing in new customers.
  5. Adjust the marketing strategies to account for these strengths and weaknesses within the campaign, then run a new campaign.
  6. If particular aspects of the campaign failed to produce enough results, don’t be afraid to eliminate them and try something new.
  7. Allocate more resources to the most successful parts of the campaign to maximize the budget.

Building a successful marketing campaign is like eating a well-balanced diet. It’s important to build a healthy mix to strengthen your business and maximize the opportunities for reaching new customers. If you’re interested in learning more about beginning a new marketing campaign, contact us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

Marketing Lessons From Movie Trailers

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Popcorn

If you want to see a clear-cut example of the power of marketing in action, look no further than the trailers released into cinemas each weekend for the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Nowadays, many feature films cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make, so a trailer needs to fire on every last cylinder in order to help that film succeed. Because of the high stakes involved, there’s actually quite a bit we can learn from successful movie trailers in planning our own marketing campaigns.

Consistency is Key When it Comes to Your Brand

There’s perhaps no more perfect example of the power of consistency in branding today than Marvel Studios. The company’s films include such successful titles as The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World, and Iron Man 3. Marvel keeps churning out hit after hit, and the studio has learned how to leverage the power of its brand in a pretty interesting way.

For Marvel, it all begins with the Marvel Studios logo. Every single trailer for every single Marvel film begins with the Marvel Studios branding. Even the title cards on these previews don’t say “From the Director of X” or “From the Producer of Y.” Instead, they say, “From the Studio That Brought You The Avengers.” What Marvel’s doing is making their own brand synonymous with the type of quality entertainment people are coming in droves to see. They’re making Marvel Studios a more powerful brand than the characters in the films, the stars of the films, and even the filmmakers themselves. Pretty soon, it won’t matter which movie features which character. As long as it says Marvel Studios on the front, people are going to go.

In many ways, your brand is the most powerful marketing tool you have — even more powerful than the products or services you provide. If you can turn your brand into one that people can’t help but pay attention to through marketing consistency, your bottom line will benefit.

Leave Them Wanting More

Another important marketing lesson you can learn from movie previews is the idea of “always leave them wanting more.” A movie trailer should never show all of the best parts of the film. Yes, it should show some of them, but not all. The best trailers leave audiences excited for a film and confident they’ll find a whole lot more waiting for them when they go to see it.

Your marketing materials should be the same way. People should get a general idea of the benefits your products or services provide and a desire to experience those benefits firsthand. Your marketing can never recreate the feeling of joy customers get when they start using your products, but it can get them excited about giving those products a try.

Marketing lessons can be found in the unlikeliest of places — even at the cinema on a weekend excursion with your friends or loved ones. Sure, you’ll probably never make a Hollywood feature film and don’t have hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, but you can still learn a lot just by paying attention to the way movie studios attempt to sell you on the next big blockbuster coming soon to a theater near you.

The Re-Branding of Curious George

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Half-peeled banana

Many people are unaware of the origins of Curious George. For the youngsters who love the books and TV show today, George is just an adorable little monkey who happens to live with a man in a yellow hat. The children watch as George gets himself into all kinds of trouble, learning along with him how to problem solve.

The stories didn’t begin that way, though.

When the very first Curious George stories came out back in the 1940s, George was a monkey who had lived in Africa. The man with the yellow hat tricked George into coming out of hiding by playing on his curiosity. He originally planned to take George back to Europe and put him in the zoo. Instead, the two began to develop a relationship.

It’s interesting to note the prevailing opinions of the time. Many people looked at explorers who went into the jungle as heroes. They wouldn’t have had as many negative associations with an explorer kidnapping a monkey from the jungle as we would today.

The new books that children read today came out in the 1990s. These later books don’t really talk about how George came to live with the man in the yellow hat. The authors of these later books, which are modeled after the original books, focus on George’s curiosity and how he manages to solve his problems. The authors of the newer books recognized that people today wouldn’t appreciate the story of the man with the yellow hat kidnapping George from the jungle.

When the newer books and television series first came out, the authors focused on creating a fun story centered around a lovable monkey and the trouble he could create. Rather than focus on how the monkey and the man with the yellow hat came together, they just developed an entertaining story focused around the present.

You could say this was a re-branding of Curious George — and it was a complete success.

Successfully framing your company for success

When you set out to market your company to your customers, you must understand your audience and what they seek. The new audience of preschoolers in the 1990s and 2000s wanted an entertaining character without the baggage that came with the original, so that’s what the authors delivered.

Similarly, you should familiarize yourself with your customers enough to predict what’s going to resonate most with them. Use this to guide your marketing and re-branding efforts. Audiences might change over the years, particularly if your company’s been around for several decades, so don’t be afraid to shed parts of your original message and add in something new if it will help you reach your customers.

When it comes to advertising, nothing matters more than understanding your audience. Those familiar with the saga of Curious George will find the comparisons between the popular monkey and the marketing campaigns of evolving companies intriguing. If you’re interested in developing a new marketing campaign, speak to us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

What Captain Kirk Teaches Us About Business

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Stars in the night sky

Even among those who haven’t followed the Star Trek franchise, Captain Kirk and William Shatner (the actor who played him) are household names. Whether you’re a lifelong Trekkie or only know the character’s name in passing, here are six Captain Kirk/William Shatner quotes we found particularly inspiring for marketing and business professionals.

“Genius doesn’t work on an assembly line basis… You can’t simply say, ‘Today I will be brilliant.'”

When starting out or working your way up in business, you must acknowledge that you don’t know everything there is to know about your industry. You’re not going to wake up one morning with the experience to be an industry leader. Instead, you must be willing to study and learn as you go.

“You either believe in yourself or you don’t.”

Running a business is never a sure thing. Chances are when you start your own company you’ll find yourself facing skepticism from many different people. If you want to be successful, however, you have to believe in yourself. You must be honest about the faith you have in yourself. If you truly think you can do this, then develop your business plan and prepare to jump in feet first.

“There’s another way to survive — mutual trust and help.”

Building a business is not a single-handed endeavor. If you want your business to thrive — and not just survive — you must be willing to trust those running the business with you. When starting out, make sure your first hires are trustworthy people who share your vision. Choose candidates you know you can trust completely to have the good of the company at heart.

“Sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on.”

Sure, predicting the right moment to launch a company or introduce a new product or service involves studying trends, but it also requires a finely tuned intuition. Sometimes, all you have to go on in business is a gut feeling. If you have reasons to support those instincts, don’t be afraid to listen to them.

“If I can have honesty, it’s easier to overlook mistakes.”

This quote speaks to the importance of transparency in everything a business does. No business leader is perfect. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. You’ll make the wrong call. When you’re transparent with your employees about what happened, they’ll be far more likely to continue to trust you and your judgement.

“A captain of a ship, no matter his rank, must follow the book.”

Even if you’re the founder and CEO, you don’t want to place yourself in a separate category than everyone else at your company. Sure, it might be easier to circumvent particular processes or rules, but when you do so, everyone notices. People naturally struggle to feel connected to and loyal to leaders who play by different rules than the ones they set for everyone below them. Show your employees you’re all on the same team by following the same rules. The result will be far greater coherence within your team.

Building and successfully running a company can be a challenge for anyone. Those who enjoy the character of Captain Kirk, however, will find a considerable amount of wisdom about how to be successful in the quotes from the captain and from the actor, William Shatner. Consider some of the wisdom above and see how you can apply it to your own company. If you’re interested in improving your marketing efforts, contact us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

The Four Key Steps to Successful Branding Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond

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Old keys in the keyring

Here’s a marketing truth that bears repeating: Your brand is one of the most powerful weapons you have in your quest not only to attract the widest possible audience, but to differentiate yourself from the competition in a meaningful way. While the type of brand you’re trying to build may vary as your company grows and evolves, the steps you’ll use to create and cultivate that brand won’t. Here are four key steps to successful branding that are just as useful today as they will be tomorrow, a year from now, and beyond.

1. Make Marketing Decisions with Your Customers in Mind

Just as you wouldn’t attempt to offer a service or release a product your target audience wouldn’t want, try to keep this same thought in mind when planning your marketing campaigns and branding strategy. Do your target customers respond well to direct mail materials? Are they the type of people who like “larger than life” materials like print billboards? These are all questions you’ll need to continually address and re-address moving forward.

2. Simple, Simple, Simple

One of the keys to building a successful brand is the ability to communicate the company’s core values clearly and concisely. Keep it simple. Never use ten words when five will do. If you can communicate the idea behind what your brand stands for in an image, you may not even need to use words at all. Communicate your branding message in the simplest possible way for the best results.

3. Your Brand is Your Brand is Your Brand

Though your brand may naturally evolve as your business changes, it’s important to take things slowly. If all of your marketing materials reflect one version of your brand in Quarter 1 and a completely different version in Quarter 4, you’re going to develop a bit of a schizophrenic reputation among the people you’re trying to reach. If you make changes that are too drastic too quickly, you run the risk of confusing your brand with itself and creating the image that you’re actually two different companies. For an example of this idea in action, consider the mess Netflix went through when it attempted to split off its DVD-by-mail and Internet streaming components into two separate entities in 2011.

4. Consistency in Language and Intention

Every piece of marketing you put out into the world needs to feel like it’s coming from the same company. Start by developing a “style guide” that you’ll use moving forward. For example, if you write your direct mail materials at a specific reading level, include that in your style guide. Provide a list of acceptable fonts, color palettes, and guidelines for proper logo usage. Consistency is a key way to show people your brand knows what it’s doing without actually saying those words.

As your company ages, it’s naturally going to change and evolve over time. The products and services you’re releasing today will scarcely resemble the ones you offer ten years down the line. One thing, however, will never change, and that’s the power of your brand. No matter what the future holds, the four key steps to successful branding outlined above will never go out of style.

Monet and Picasso: There’s Room for You, Too

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Hand painting with a brush

There are people who love art and can explain to you in-depth what you should know about some of the greatest artists. They can break down for you the differences in style and how the artists used different brush strokes to create the final image. These art aficionados can look at a painting and tell you the style it was painted in and the likely artist.

For the rest of us, trying to keep track of all the names and theories behind great art can feel a bit overwhelming. While all of us can appreciate the work that goes into the creation of a beautiful painting, trying to analyze the different styles can be a challenge. For outsiders looking in at the art world, it can feel as though the industry is completely saturated. There are so many different styles and forms that it can seem impossible for any new ideas to be developed. Yet somehow, each generation manages to come up with unique art ideas that resonate with different people.

The significance of Monet and Picasso

If you asked most people to list some well-known artists, most would list off famous names like Monet and Picasso. What’s interesting, though, is that these artists are immensely different from each other. They painted different subjects, lived in different countries and political situations, and their art was vastly different. The similarities might be easier to describe than the differences, with it largely boiling down to: they were both famous and talented artists.

If you have talent, the industry will make room.

Monet and Picasso approached art from different perspectives. They each expressed what they knew in different ways. Monet took a more traditional route, creating beautiful paintings that closely resembled the objects and scenes that were being depicted. Picasso, on the other hand, took liberties with shapes, colors, and designs to capture the emotion and motivations behind the scene being shown.

Both, however, demonstrated incredible talent. Regardless of a person’s individual taste, it’s impossible to overlook the abilities of each of these artists. That’s what has allowed them to rise to the top of the art world. They’re famous enough that even those who don’t spend vacations touring art museums recognize their names.

The inspiration for business professionals

Like Picasso and Monet, when you have the talent, an industry will make room for you. These artists are often regarded as leaders within their respective styles, meaning they often took untraveled paths in their quest to reach the top. Their names are remembered because of the paths they forged and the beauty they created.

If you’re talented in your industry and have the skills needed to show genuine expertise, you can also find your place within your market. No industry or market is so crowded it can’t make room for you. To reach this desired summit, you need to prepare.

  • Know what makes you different.
  • Determine how you can translate your proposition for customers.

When you take the time to set yourself apart from the rest of the industry and have the talent to back up your desires, you can succeed. If the world of famous artists is big enough to house the incredible diverse talents of Monet and Picasso, your industry can support you as well.

The Power of Personalization

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Young woman, eyes closed portrait

Print marketing is still one of the best and most effective ways to connect with your target audience and create brand awareness on a large scale. For starters, print marketing is tangible — you’re giving a person something they can hold in their hands and, more importantly, something they can pass along to a friend or family member.

Despite the many benefits of print marketing as a medium, many people still seem to miss one of its most powerful and most natural tools: personalization. When you take a look at just how effective personalization can be, you’ll be shocked you weren’t embracing it in the past.

Personalization: By the Numbers

In 2012, the industry organization InfoTrends conducted a study on marketing communication. It revealed several interesting facts, all of which are important to know when planning your next marketing campaign. The good news is that print marketing is alive and well, even in an era where everyone carries a smartphone or other type of mobile device with them at all times.

The better news is that marketing materials featuring high levels of personalization yield a dramatically higher ROI over ones sent out in a uniform or more generic manner.

The InfoTrends survey covered more than 1,000 businesses in 10 industries. Nearly two thirds used personalization or segmentation techniques to increase response and conversion rates. One of the respondents who used personalized print materials exclusively experienced a response rate of around 6% and a conversion rate of over 16%. Compare this with the average 2% response rate more generic materials generate, and the power of personalization becomes abundantly clear.

Things get even more impressive when you combine personalization with other best practices of modern marketing, like combining print and digital to reach a wider audience. For example, the respondents who utilized print and e-mail materials with high levels of personalization reported a response rate of 7.6% and a conversion rate of over 18%.

Why Personalization Matters

When you personalize your marketing materials, you’re taking that extra step to show your target audience how much you really care about them. Instead of addressing a direct mail brochure with the generic and calculated “Dear Sir or Madame,” you can take advantage of the basic technique of including their name — which, keep in mind, is information you already have if you’re sending them something in the mail.

Believe it or not, this does go a long way. It instantly creates a much more organic connection with the person reading your materials and subconsciously separates your mailer from others that may not be personalized at all.

Personalized print marketing is also inherently more impressive than personalized digital materials of the same variety. Everyone has a computer, and they know how quickly you can change an e-mail to include a name. Changing a print mailer, however, takes a little more thought and effort (though not as much as you’d think). Your effort will definitely be appreciated by the recipient.

Not only is print marketing alive and well, but one of its most powerful assets is something many businesses aren’t even using. Personalizing your print materials will go a long way toward creating a more meaningful and long-lasting connection with your target audience and increasing your ROI.