The MadAveGroup Blog

The MadAve Blog (331)

In their Sept. 28, 2006 online issue, AdAge notes that, last year, Americans under 25 chose the Internet more often than traditional entertainment channels, like TV, radio and movie theatres. Podcasts are a favorite format for that younger demo. The medium is enjoying “15 to 30% year-over-year growth” according to Murgesh Navar, founder of Podbridge. There are several attractive aspects of Podcasting for marketers as well, including low production cost, flexibility and immediacy. While the 25 and under crowd often seeks out premium content (network TV shows, for instance), companies can create audio or video Podcasts for their target audiences - customers and prospects.

Content can focus on selling a product or service, how to best use an item, or maybe how to maintain or repair it. A book store might Podcast a passage from the month’s hot new titles. A vet’s office could provide pet care tips via a weekly Podcast. Or the owner of a wine store might educate her customers about an exciting vintage via Podcast. Podcasts can be archived on your website or actively distributed through various channels.

Want to build credibility with prospective customers? Use testimonials. If you know of current customers who would be willing to boast about your company in writing, put them to work: ask each of them for a testimonial letter. In most cases, people are more than willing to vouch for companies they enjoy working with, so don’t be afraid to reap a little of the goodwill you’ve been sowing.

If your customers are too busy to write letters, they can still help. During a quick phone call, ask them to name the three things they like most about your company, products and/or services. Write the letters yourself from their point of view, working in as many of their direct quotes as possible. Once each customer approves his or her testimonial, ask them to print it on their company letterhead. Then, start working the letters into your marketing materials. Display them in your lobby; put them on your website; include excerpts from them in your advertising.

If certain customers are particularly pleased with your company and have a customer base that can benefit from your offerings, develop endorsement letters. In these letters your customers can introduce your services to their customers and recommend they call you. The letters should be written on your customers’ letterhead and mailed in their envelopes to maximize credibility. Remember, always make this type of campaign as easy as possible for your customers, cover all of their costs, and offer them something of value in return for their help.

It’s one of the many great lines from the movie The Godfather: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” While “enemies” may be too strong a word to describe your competitors, keeping track of what they’re doing makes good business sense. Subscribe to their newsletters. Collect their collateral and print ads. Monitor their websites and broadcast advertising. Doing so will give you insight into their sales and marketing strategies, and keep you up-to-date on their product offerings.

Another benefit: By understanding how others in your industry present themselves to the public, you’ll have a better idea of how to craft your own marketing materials so they differentiate your company from your competitors. You might also consider shopping the competition for price, or hiring a mystery shopper service to uncover their customer experience strengths and weaknesses.

Once you’ve finalized your marketing pieces - whether it’s a direct mail or post card campaign, a brochure or series of print ads, TV spots, emails or materials in any other format - share them with all of your employees.

Why?

Your marketing is your promise to customers and prospects, and you should want everyone on your team to know what those people are expecting of your company. Sharing your marketing pieces can also unite your company’s employees behind a common cause: the goals of your marketing department.

Finally, you’re sure to create goodwill and a sense of belonging among your staff when you include them in the process. You may even want to use them as in an in-house focus group by actively soliciting their feedback.

A classic example is the music industry. Record companies give CDs to radio stations in hopes they’ll play certain tracks, generating interest in - and sales of - their music. Radio benefits from the free programming and giveaways.

With what company or industry can you create a similar symbiosis? Get creative. Think of other companies that share your target audience. Then, work together to build a mutually beneficial relationship. An example: if you sell cars, provide a local TV station with their news vehicles and ongoing maintenance in exchange for spots touting you as “the official automotive dealer of Channel 12.”

What would you rather read about in this space: our company’s most recent accomplishments, that shiny new plaque I just accepted at our industry’s annual conference, and the new headquarters we just built? Or would you prefer to spend your valuable time reading something that’s about you and your needs; an article that will help you get ahead or improve your company’s marketing?

Because you’re a human being with natural human tendencies you want content that’s directed at you. Right?

Once you understand that about yourself, it’s easy to see that your customers and prospects are more interested in sales and marketing materials that appeal to their specific needs; content that will help them see how your product or service will solve their problems and ease their pains.

So, when you’re writing copy for your website, your next print campaign or even a customer service letter, use pronouns that are directed at your audience. When you change the focus from “we” and “us” to “you” and “your”, customers will find it much easier to see the benefits they’ll reap from doing business with you.

With the advent of satellite radio, web-based programming and, of course, the iPod, consumers no longer need to rely on traditional radio alone for news and music. There’s still a big audience to reach via the AM and FM bands, but listenership is shrinking so if you decide to advertise on radio your spots need to be even more effective.

1) Get noticed! Use a unique style, copy, voices, music or sound effects that grab attention. Monitor the stations you’ll be buying. If their promos and spots have a certain pace or sound, try going in the opposite direction stylistically so your spot will stand apart from the rest.

2) Don’t get punched out! Today’s long music sweeps (“10 songs in a row”) are often followed by long spot sets. Listeners know this and will punch out to avoid 6 minutes of commercials. Keep them tuned in with a spot that’s funny, odd or in any other way “sticky.”

3) Pay for your spots! Don’t let the sales guy at your local station write your copy or the mid-day DJ record it. Find an agency that will help you create your own sound. The radio station may produce your spot free of charge, but it’ll sound like every other station-produced spot. The goals are to stand out, get noticed and be remembered. If you don’t strive for those goals by encouraging unique, engaging creative and production, what’s the point of advertising at all?

Kermit the Frog was right – it’s not easy being green.

But if you’re determined to hitch a ride on the green marketing bandwagon, do it right.

First, define why you’re using green marketing. Is it a cost or image issue? Or do you feel you have a moral obligation? Making sure your products are “ozone friendly” or “recyclable” is just the beginning. In fact, the concept of green marketing incorporates a much broader range of activities. Check your production processes, packaging, distribution and marketing materials to make sure your green claims are accurate.

And keep the first rule of marketing in mind: know your customers’ needs. Environmental stewardship may not be enough to sell your products, so be prepared to promote their green benefits as a valuable secondary benefit.

Sure, it’s straight out of your Marketing 101 textbook, but the S.W.O.T. analysis is still a great tool that can be applied in many different ways. Not only is taking inventory of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats essential when developing your organization’s strategic marketing plan, it can also be beneficial when planning advertising campaigns, designing your new website or creating new collateral. Perform a S.W.O.T. analysis before brainstorming on how to improve the performance of a specific department within your company. Or you might even put yourself through the exercise if you’re trying to evaluate your own skills in an effort to move up the corporate ladder. Click here to access our free S.W.O.T. graph.

Does the “Contact Us” page on your website only allow visitors to reach you through an “[email protected]” email box? If so, consider adding a few more options.

Just as people prefer to receive information differently (visually, aurally or kinesthetically), we don’t all prefer to communicate the same way.

Current or potential customers who need immediate assistance or more information can become easily frustrated if your site doesn’t include a telephone and fax number, or even a physical address.

While you may be driving traffic to your website to reduce incoming phone calls, keep your customers’ needs - and apprehensions - in mind. They may not be sure when - or if - their important questions will be answered if they’re emailed to an anonymous employee. For the sake of winning and retaining more customers and improving their experience with your company, don’t hide behind an email address. Give people the option to communicate with you on their terms.

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