Do You Want to Drive James Bond’s Car?

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Do You Want to Drive James Bond’s Car?

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.

Ways to Increase Your Foot Traffic at Your Convention Booth

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Ways to Increase Your Foot Traffic at Your Convention Booth

Conventions are and always will be one of the best ways to grow your brand, build your reputation, and generate new leads and opportunities moving forward. Regardless of the type of industry you currently operate in, you won’t have to look hard to find a convention that fits your needs. Conventions aren’t only excellent networking opportunities — they’re also a great way to attract the attention of potential new customers on a massive scale as everyone in attendance is already interested in products or services like the ones you offer. It’s always important to remember, however, that simply showing up to a convention won’t be enough. If you want to generate the maximum amount of foot traffic to your booth, you’ll need to keep a few key things in mind.

Make Sure People Can Find You

When you sign up for a booth at a convention, you’ll likely be given a location by the people organizing the event. This will not only be your own little corner of the event to carve out and do with what you please, but will also be the main way people will find you during the show. The booth number you’re given by the convention organizers will be printed in the program that’s handed out when people file through the door.

One of the keys to generating foot traffic involves making sure people can find you in the first place. Remember that you’ll likely be packed in a section with potentially dozens of other businesses, all fighting for the attention of the people walking by. Things can quickly feel overwhelming for convention attendees with so much going on, so sometimes finding a vendor based on booth number alone is a lot easier said than done. The layout of the convention itself may also make this difficult, especially if sections aren’t numbered in any type of logical way.

As a result, you’ll want to make sure you have at least one element (like an oversized banner or large poster) that clearly displays your company’s name so people can find you, even if they’ve already gotten lost along the way. Make sure you place it as high above your booth as possible, so people can see it from several aisles away if necessary. Many times, you’ll find that just making yourself visible makes a big difference in improving foot traffic to your booth.

Make Sure Your Staff Is Friendly and Approachable

Once people do find you, one of the easiest ways to scare them away is to have people behind your booth who seem like they don’t actually want to be there. Conventions are tough on everybody, but can especially be tough on vendors. You’re constantly under the gun to set up your booth, deal with your neighbors, make sure all your materials are in order and more. Your staff will definitely be stressed out, but the key is to make sure they never come off that way. Everyone who walks up to your booth should always be greeted with a friendly smile and a sunny disposition. If they’re greeted with a negative attitude, rest assured your booth WILL develop a negative reputation that will spread around the convention center as the event goes on.

Conventions are excellent opportunities to grow your business — provided you’re approaching things from the right perspective. Remember, reputation alone will never guarantee convention success. Your reputation will only take you so far. You need to go out of your way to be as warm and inviting as possible to unlock the full business potential of these types of events.

The Unseen Lessons Our Teachers Taught Us

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The Unseen Lessons Our Teachers Taught Us

When first exploring the power of buyer personas, it’s natural to worry about the extra work and effort needed to complete the process. Fortunately, these fears are not unjustified. While it’s true you’ll need to have an intimate understanding of potential customers and what they seek from brands like yours, the investment is completely worth it and can lead to tremendous growth for your company. Here’s why…

Consider for a moment your high school history teacher. In schools across the country, history teachers teach multiple classes with students at all different levels. One class might be filled with students who are ready to break down the information at a very high level. These students are capable of exploring difficult themes. Learning about the American Revolutionary War requires covering more than dates and names, and they will dive into motivations and outside influences.

Another class might be at a more introductory level of history. Rather than covering motivations, they might need to learn more about the major people who influenced the events of the day and focus on learning the timeline.

Both classes are covering the same topic, but if the teacher is going to effectively teach both groups, he or she will have to develop separate lesson plans for each class. If the teacher tried to create a common lesson plan for each group of students, neither group would receive the instruction they needed to succeed. It does require more work for the teacher to create separate lesson plans, but the teacher knows it’s worth the effort. A teacher who keeps their eyes on the end goal — to ensure that both classes walk away feeling challenged and with new knowledge about the founding of the United States — will know their extra work helped them reach their students effectively.

The Takeaway for Marketers

The same concept applies to marketers. It does take a little more work to create separate content for each of your buyer personas, but if you want to effectively reach your potential customers, you have to be willing to go that extra mile.

Each of your customers comes to your site looking for different information. One customer might be concerned about finding an affordable solution to their problem. They feel as though they’ve spent too much money in the past, and their primary concern is budget. Another customer might focus primarily on utility. They trust that when they find a well-created solution to their problem, their return on investment will justify their cost. Each of these customers will respond better to different types of content and offers. Creating just one type of content will make it harder for you to reach all of your intended target audiences. It may have been less work upfront, but it will end up costing you more when you fail to bring in the profits and returns you had desired.

In a world where time is money, it makes sense to avoid spending unnecessary time and money whenever possible. What you need to remember, though, is that while efficiency is important, it cannot replace doing something correctly. Sit down with your team, outline your buyer personas, and draft a plan for reaching each one. You’ll be amazed at what these additional steps can do to help you close more business.

If you’re ready to start building a new marketing strategy, reach out and speak with us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

Maintaining a Balanced Marketing Diet

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Maintaining a Balanced Marketing Diet

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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Marketing Lessons From Movie Trailers

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.

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

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

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.

Print Marketing Techniques that Have Stood the Test of Time

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Print Marketing Techniques that Have Stood the Test of Time

In marketing, everyone’s always looking for the "next big thing." Whatever your business, you’re probably looking for that bold, new method no one else has thought of before to connect with your target audience in a new and meaningful way. Yet even with all of today’s shiny, new marketing channels and techniques, some classic print marketing ideas are just as relevant today as they were way back when. What’s more, they’re also a great way to inject your modern campaign with some old-school flair.

Sign Spinners

Sign spinners are making a huge impression in today’s marketplace, but the idea itself isn’t as new as you might think. Though sign spinners took a bit of a back seat as new digital techniques rose to prominence in the last few years, it’s actually an idea that’s been around for decades. The premise is simple: you literally have someone stand out in front of your store with a bright, colorful sign they spin in all sorts of different ways. People driving by can’t help but notice the sign spinner’s skills, which also means they can’t help but notice the sign.

This old-school technique is effective for that very reason: it’s unavoidable. If you’re stopped at a red light, make no mistake, you will absolutely pay attention to what that sign spinner is up to. If he’s doing his job right, that means you’ll also now be aware of the business or brand he’s promoting.

Print Materials with Long Copy

For years, experts have told us that nobody pays attention to long copy anymore. Instead, they want everything in short, manageable bursts. Social networks like Twitter operate on this very premise and have seen a huge amount of success because of it.

But shorter isn’t always better. Print materials with long copy are still a great way to make an impact, as you’re going out of your way to give your customer all the information they need up front to make an informed decision. As long as that copy is effectively written and contains the appropriate call to action, it can be just as successful at generating leads and conversions as that short flyer you created with all those colorful graphics.

Everything Old Is New Again

Marketing trends are cyclical. A great new technique is seen as effective and is adopted by everyone. Soon, the general population grows tired, and the hunt for the "next big thing" begins. Those old techniques are abandoned in favor of something new, before coming back into fashion again eventually.

By embracing these older print marketing techniques, you’re doing more than just leveraging the fact that they were, are, and always will be effective in their own right. You’re injecting your marketing with a much needed breath of fresh air that will truly help set your campaign apart from the competition. That’s the type of meaningful advantage you need to focus on if you want to get the most sets of eyes in front of your brand.

The Re-Branding of Curious George

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The Re-Branding of Curious George

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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What Captain Kirk Teaches Us About Business

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.

Ever Wondered Just How Effective a Call to Action Really Is?

Blog Update #493 – Friday, June 5, 2015

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Ever Wondered Just How Effective a Call to Action Really Is?

While it’s true the larger goal of your marketing efforts involves spreading the word about the products or services you sell, this isn’t the only thing you’re trying to accomplish. Gently guiding your customers through the various stages of the sales funnel, from the moment they begin looking for a solution to the moment they choose to do business with you, is arguably even more important. When it comes to that particular goal, perhaps the most important weapon in your arsenal is and will always be the call to action.

What Is a Call to Action?

A call to action is some type of statement, link, or graphic that provides potential customers with instructions regarding exactly what you’d like them to do next. It may be as simple as telling a customer to provide their phone number so you can contact them and discuss their options further. If your site runs a blog containing helpful articles that are relevant to your brand, the call to action might be "Click here to read more about this interesting new study we found." Regardless of the wording, the intention is clear. You’re telling the customer exactly which step they should take next, all the while moving them closer and closer to an eventual sale.

Calls to action are incredibly effective when done properly. According to a case study conducted in 2013 by Inbound Marketing Blog, one company was able to generate up to 12 times more new, high-quality leads per month after effective calls to action were placed on various types of marketing materials.

Tips for Effective Calls to Action

Though calls to action are incredibly important, they’re also something you can do "wrong" if you proceed in exactly the wrong way. For effective calls to action, you need to consider where a customer is in the sales process when they’re viewing a particular type of content. Is your customer discovering your brand for the first time by way of a direct mailer? An effective call to action in that scenario might be something akin to "Visit this URL or call this number to find out more."

Did your customer just arrive at the general landing page for your brand? A better use of the call to action here might be "Click here to read this article about how effective these types of products can really be."

When customers discover your brand or are exposed to your marketing message for the first time, they’re in an inherently impressionable state. At the end of the day, they just want to confirm for themselves that they’re making the right decision regarding how they’re about to spend their hard-earned money. By inserting properly designed, well-placed calls to action in your marketing materials, you can not only increase the quality of the leads you generate but also gently guide those leads through the sales funnel until they reach the point where they’re ready to buy.

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