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Tuesday
Apr222014

Finding Your Brand Voice

Interactions on social media or blogs should be through a common voice. Finding that brand voice involves a lot more than just picking someone in the intern pool. 

Most companies and organizations have concluded, whether eager or grudging, they need a presence on social media and to engage in content marketing. But discomfort lingers, so the first command decision is who will be delegated the responsibility of tweeting. This is like making a wrong turn into a one-way street.

The whole idea behind consumer or constituent engagement is to build trust. One of the most important avenues to trust is familiarity. You recognize a friend by how they talk. You trust a friend because of their values. The same should be true for a brand.

Here are some of the factors to consider in developing and sustaining a credible brand voice:

Appropriate Voice

If you make hot dogs, your voice should have a different tone than if you are dentist. People associate hot dogs with parties and ballgames. They associate dentists with pain. Your voice needs to reflect your brand personality. 

Blogging about hotdogs has more leeway in the use of humor than dentistry, where the focus of blogging should be on putting people at ease about procedures. There is plenty of room to flex personality in both circumstances. You just need to flex the right personality.

Know Your Objective 

There are differing reasons to engage on social media, which also can influence the tone of your brand voice. Red Bull wants to envelope people in the active adventure lifestyle it promotes. Comcast wants to monitor social media so it can respond immediately to consumer complaints, in the quest to convert people with problems into ambassadors of the brand.

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Tuesday
Apr152014

Inviting Your Consumers Backstage

One sure-fire way to connect with your consumer is to invite them backstage to get a preview, insider view or special insight that builds trust and loyalty.One good way to entice customers to your website or blog is to send them an invitation to meet you backstage.

Pulling back the curtain and sharing insider knowledge or perspective makes people feel special, especially if the tour is authentic, not just a come-on. 

As a kid, I enjoyed when my dad took me on an early morning visit to the railroad station to watch the circus unload. Seeing how animals and huge tents were transported was more fascinating to me than the actual circus.

If the key to marketing today is to establish relationships, then making customers feel like trusted friends is a good start toward making them feel trust toward you. Of course, that requires more than a good backstage tour.

Fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff doesn't just rely on the traditional Fashion Week runway to get buzz for her handbags. She employs a full arsenal of social media. She placed a Vine video on Twitter showing snippets of what goes on before a handbag makes its way to the runway. She debuted her new line on Snapchat before it appeared on the catwalk.

Minkoff teamed with Tumblr and Nordstrom on a T-shirt design contest, with the promise, which was kept, that the winning design would be strutted down the runway. The T-shirt also was sold at Nordstrom. She lined up an exclusive interview during the show to share her insights.

During Fashion Week, Minkoff posted pictures on Instagram and tweeted, including a backstage camera angle that literally made viewers feel as if they were backstage.

Not surprisingly, Minkoff has a large, loyal following. She has transformed her consumers into friends, confidantes and partners.

Relationship-based marketing demands more than coupons and sales pitches. Consumers need a point of connection. Allowing them to peek backstage of your operation is a pretty reliable, sure-fire way to create that connection.

Monday
Apr072014

Turning a Target Audience into a Persona

You are well advised to understand what makes your target audience tick. But connecting with your intended audience requires talking to them as people, not targets.

The advice we give is to identify your customer persona, even creating an image of who they are, what they look like and where they hang out.

If you use digital devices, you are aware that data miners are digging for information about you to customize the ads and opportunities they present to you. There is nothing wrong with that, but it isn't a substitute for a content marketing approach that digs deeper.

One of the most important places to start in the conversion of a target audience into a customer persona is examining why a customer would care about your product or service. What problem in their lives does it solve? How would it make life easier or more convenient for them? Why would they choose your product over other alternatives?

Wrestling with these questions, which requires more than a statistical assessment of website clicks, is what generates a customer persona.

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Monday
Mar312014

Social Media Manager is Dead-End Job

With social media becoming an ever-increasing part of communications strategies, how can a position dedicated to managing social media be already on the way out?

The answer to that is easy and predictable. Social media never was — or should have been — an end in itself. It is just another tool, a cool one at that, in your integrated communications toolkit.

Social media is the perfect answer for some marketing and issue management needs and a non-starter for others. Just like TV ads, billboards and direct mail.

In the marketing PR world, the right answer isn't what service you sell; it is the tool or tools that get the job done.

Think of social media in the same light as websites. Not that long ago, websites were rarities as part of communications strategies. Now, it is rare to find a communications plan that doesn't call for a website. Social media is following a similar pattern. It is becoming a staple in most communications strategies. But it usually is just a part of the strategy.

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Monday
Mar242014

Taglines: Consumer Context in an Instant

BMW claims the best tagline of all time, "The Ultimate Driving Machine." Papa Murphy's may be sneaking up with "Love at 425 degrees."

The "take-and-bake" pizza company has outdone fellow pizza-maker Domino's famous previous tagline of "Pizza in 30 minutes." It may not have been good pizza, but you got a discount if it didn't arrive at your doorstep in 30 minutes.

These examples highlight the value of taglines, which give consumers a taste of your brand. They can add a smidgeon of explanation, but their true value is appealing to your senses and emotions.

"Love at 425 degrees" tells the story of enjoying your custom-designed pizza in the comfort of your home. It is pizza how you want it, when you want it, where you want it. That's a lot of meaning in just three words and a number.

Taglines can humanize products. A great example is Duluth Trading Company's Buck Naked Underwear. As the name implies, Duluth is appealing directly to men who want underwear that does its job, regardless of how it looks, thus the tagline, "No Pinch. No Stink. No Sweat." One male reviewer described the underwear as feeling like not wearing any underwear at all.

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