September 1, 2014

Web + Radio = Good Brand Strategy

For a local business, optimizing a web site to compete against your local, regional, national and international competitors can seem a bit daunting, to say the least.

Wouldn't it be great if your most valuable web traffic arrived at your site because they were looking for YOU and not your category? Trust me, it's great.

In your town, your name is your brand. It is built on only two variables:

Your reputation in the marketplace (built up by direct customer experience), and to a far lesser extent the anticipation of that experience that you PROMISED by your advertising

Those who think that a brand is built solely on advertising and marketing are fools. In fact, the quickest way to go out of business is to promise a lot and then deliver a lousy experience. Your reputation will tank and your advertising will accelerate this process by getting even more people to try you. All of these people will be happy to tell others how bad you are.

If your advertising does a good job of creating enough interest, people will seek you out when they need or want your product or service. They are no longer doing this in a dead-tree phone book. They are doing it on line. 

A new study released by the Radio Advertising Bureau has confirmed what I've been telling my clients for years; your best prospects will be those who search for you by name.

Simon Redican, managing director at the Radio Advertising Bureau, said: "The internet has become an incredibly important interface for customer marketing but the problem is that it also allows access to all your rival's brands which means the key challenge is to ensure that customers seek out your brand specifically – marketers are increasingly turning to offline media to direct consumers to their brands online."

The radio ads drove on average 34% of the total brand browsing for an average of 10% of the media budget which the research said means the radio spend was on average four times more effective.

Barber said the findings are highly significant for brands where the internet "provides the crucial final stage" of customer buying and radio advertising offers these brands the chance to "turbo charge" the marketing process.

Most of the Search Engine Optimization strategies have you believing that the only way to win is to dominate the keyword phrases of your industry or category. This is amazingly expensive for a small local business. And, the fight is never over because everyone is going after the same phrases.

On the other hand, moving your money out of print and yellow pages and into local radio, coupled with a convincing web site that is easily found on a search for your name offers a more lasting solution in the quest to establish your local brand. 

How does this work out in real life? I just got off the phone with a retail client of mine who has been using this strategy for about 6 years. In his informal check of his competitors, most of their December sales were down as much as 20% over 2008. Anyone who did as well in 2009 as 2008 is very pleased. My client had an 11% increase in his December gross sales along with an 18% gain in gross profit, meaning he didn't give away the store to make the sales numbers.  We are very pleased.

Low Rent Strategy

We’re always telling our clients that rent money and advertising dollars are interchangeable. Our partners down under offer proof!

3 months ago, a local NSW coastal business owner made a decision to relocate his surf clothing store after staring down the barrel of a 34% increase in rent.  The original location was on the esplanade of a high tourist area… lots of restaurants, lots of shops, lots of apartments, lots of feet.  The move took him just one street away… just one street… but thousands of feet from his original location because nobody wanders behind the resorts on the Esplanade.

What happened next?  Sales plummeted by $115,000… and are still going down.

YIKES! Have you calculated your ad budget lately?

Customer Satisfaction Month at Fast Company, Part 1

Cover It’s Customer Satisfaction Month at Fast Company and they’ve put up a wealth of news and awards for companies who have been singled out for excellent Customer Service and satisfaction.

Of note around here is that Cabela’s has fallen off the list (they were on it last year). It’s particularly troubling to me because I live in their headquarters town.

[Read more...]

Art as a Marketing Tool

FondasanmiguelSonja Howle has been studying art as a strategic tool for marketing for over a year now and has been busy posting her observations and case studies on her American Visionaries blog. Our Wizardly Customer Experience partner, Mike Dandridge picked up on her latest story about The Palm restaurant in NYC.

By sheer coincidence a book landed in my lap 2 nights ago that chronicles the story of an iconic Austin restaurant called Fonda San Miguel. The restaurant is owned by a native of my little hometown in Nebraska, so I’m familiar with it and I’ve dined there. It was great, but my focus wasn’t on the experience as much as it had been if I had "discovered" it myself.

Enchiladas suizas de jaibaNow the book has allowed me to re-discover what the owners have been able to create over the past 30 years and how they have woven authentic Mexican cuisine (not the enchilada plate #2) along with art and architecture into a truly experiential dinner.

I sent this link to Sonja and suggested that a group of us head to Fonda San Miguel next week when we’re back in Austin. It will be good to catch up with Tom Gilliland and take a look at the place with a different eye.

I did not Die of Laughter Today…

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a university to task for an idiotic slogan, and by sharing these two stories from the Independent Florida Alligator, I don’t have to. They do a fabulous job of skewering their school for some first-class lameness in branding.

First, an editorial from Thursday:

After paying a firm $85,000 to come up with the motto "an unparalleled university experience that lasts a lifetime," administrators chose to scrap it all and replace it with "the foundation for The Gator Nation."

We couldn’t make something like this up. It sounds like a line from a "Sesame Street" song.

We thought college was about education. Apparently, UF officials would rather market us as Disney World. It’s no mistake that our vice president of University Relations is a former Disney employee.

The next day, Matt Sanchez piled on with this column. Rock on Matt.

After only a six-month run, "An unparalleled university experience that lasts a lifetime" still has some fight left in it – except that everyone now is hip to the fact it doesn’t actually mean anything.

Or there’s always the old standby "Gator football…you pretty much have to."

…So maybe the old slogans were retired for a reason. It’s hard to imagine a revival of the original, from back in the days when UF and FSU were the only choices: "UF: Because you don’t want to go to the all-girls school, do you?"

…Maybe we should try being honest – play to our strengths while not turning people off by sugarcoating things.

In that vein, my personal recommendation is "UF: Cheap and good. Plus you get to beat on the ‘Noles."

After all, that’s pretty much the answer the average UF student would give for why they came here anyway.

Incidentally, I don’t see a single slogan on the school’s home page. Go figure.