Categories
Insights Marketing/Business

In 2021, top advertising agencies should encourage clients to remain agile, put customers and employees first, value trust, and get creative.

A Deloitte Insights paper prefaced its own vision for 2021 marketing trends by first recounting some history. They observed that past crises tended to spark new innovations and shift perceptions of value. As examples, they mentioned the telephone became popular during the flu pandemic in 1918, and the Cold War sparked the rise of TV. By the 1960s, TV broadcast so much of the turmoil surrounding the Vietnam War and civil rights that people’s perception of these conflicts shifted.

Of course, these historical innovations and attitude changes dramatically changed the way businesses operated and marketed. Today’s crisis centers on the coronavirus pandemic. Is it possible to develop some insight into the innovations and perceptual shifts that will come out of this crisis in order to craft marketing plans for 2021?

Expected shifts for 2021 marketing trends

It’s a lot easier use hindsight to spot such dramatic changes as the point when phones and TV sets grew popular than to figure out exactly how people will remember 2020 in 50 or 100 years. During the 1918 pandemic, some people predicted that their great-grandchildren might have flying cars within a century, which did not happen; however, they didn’t expect autonomous vehicles, which multiple manufacturers have already tested.

Perhaps the difficultly with even objectively measuring the present explains why nobody can predict the future with 100-percent certainty. Deloitte Insights might have found a solution though when they chose to look at companies that flourished during 2020. They examined how these successful businesses and their customers reacted to market disruption to better understand the the most important characteristics companies will probably need to thrive in 2021.

With this relatively new data and a mindfulness of past history, Deloitte uncovered some likely marketing trends that can help a marketing strategy agency forecast new trends and develop sensible plans.

1. Purpose: All kinds of organizations need to set their business goals around why they exist and who they exist for. Businesses that stay tuned to and communicate their sense of purpose tend to flourish during the toughest times.

2. Agility: Businesses that could react swiftly to a rapidly changing environment maintained an unsurprising advantage.  Meanwhile, other companies struggled with pandemic restrictions, shortages, and changing behavior. Sometimes, companies suffered because they communicated the wrong message for the times and alienated their customers.

3. Experiences: Companies did a better job of enhancing their brand positions by putting the experiences of their customers and workforce over efficiency.

4. Trust: With all of the uncertainty generated by a global pandemic, customers demonstrated that they had little patience with businesses that did not deliver on their promises.

5. Participation: These days, businesses have cemented relationships with famously loyal customers by giving them a voice. They give customers a voice in the products they deliver and how they deliver them in order to better serve them.

6. Integration: More than ever, companies broke out of their shells to form new partnerships with other businesses and public ecosystems. For instance, some businesses needed to rely upon other businesses to make deliveries or even take orders.

7. Talent: A creative marketing agency should not just deploy talent but consider that talent pool a competitive advantage over less inspired brands. Very often, businesses needed to rely upon creative solutions to urgent problems during 2020.

How top marketing agencies use predicted trends to position their clients

It’s fair to evaluate the most innovative, successful companies to anticipate the direction that most businesses will move in next year. If there’s one thing 2020 taught businesses, it’s that even the most successful companies could not predict the future.

Barely anybody talked about a global pandemic in January. By March, few people talked about anything else. Still, some companies kept themselves agile enough to cope with all of the issues while remaining focused upon the market they needed to connect with and serve.

For instance, when some customers did not want to enter the stores, the stores responded by offering deliveries and curbside pickup. If some restaurants lacked the capacity to deliver, they partnered with services that did or supplied pre-packaged meals that nearby grocery stores sold as a convenience. These businesses adapted and found new partners.

In response to such issues as social distancing and supply chain problems, good organizations developed creative solutions, communicated transparently with customers and employees, and also, valued these people enough to consider their needs and sensitivities over just their bottom line.

Categories
Marketing/Business Retail Uncategorized

Holiday shoppers research purchases and respond to retail advertising promotions. See four classic holiday retail marketing campaigns.

With the scent of pumpkin spice in the air, ’tis the season for holiday advertising. Of course, businesses have plenty of good reasons to ramp up retail marketing during the holiday season.

According to WordStream, 80 percent of seasonal shoppers research purchases on the internet before buying. In addition, over three-quarters say they’ve changed their mind about a purchase after performing a mobile search. At least a third of people say they’ve bought things over the holidays because of a promotional offer. In any case, this season sparks holiday retail purchases, and businesses must market to make sure shoppers can find and remember them.

Four Favorite holiday retail advertising campaigns

For some inspiration to get into the holiday marketing spirit, consider some of the best seasonal advertising campaigns.

Home Alone with Google Assistant 

Most shoppers remember “Home Alone,” the classic holiday movie from the 1990s. Google produced a video parody of this movie, which of course, featured Google Assistant and even the adult version of the original child star, Macaulay Culkin. The video scored tens of millions of views and lots of social buzz. It works well because it combines nostalgia, humor, and the relevance of demonstrating how people can use the app.

Starbucks red cups

No brand marketing agency can discuss holiday advertising without evoking the scent of pumpkin spice. Actually, this all started with Starbucks themed holiday cups back in 1997. Every year, the cups get a different look that mostly reflects traditional holiday designs. Mostly, the decorated cups signal the introduction of the coffee chain’s holiday menu, which of course, includes pumpkin spice.

Over the years, the campaign has generated excitement and even a little controversy. Mostly, the company uses fairly traditional or recognizable seasonal designs. For one memorable year, they introduced a plain, red cup with their logo, which displeased plenty of customers. If people like the current year’s cups or not, they earn Starbucks plenty of press and social media attention that’s paid off for the business.

Coca Cola’s polar bears

Coca-Cola has a long history of savvy and effective holiday advertising campaigns. For instance, lots of people believe the soft drink company contributed a lot to the modern version of Santa Claus during the 1930s. The Coca-Cola ploar bears arrived as holiday mascots during the 1920s, even earlier than Coca Cola’s Santa.

The cartoon bears work well because they’re cute and fun. More recently, the company has even used them to help raise awareness of the impact of global warming on real polar bears. Since 2011, Coca-Cola has contributed and raised about $5 million dollars to help preserve habitats. 

Though considering the billions of dollars in profits that the company has made from these playful animals, the World Wildlife Federation has criticized the company by saying that they ought to do more.

Apple’s “The Surprise” video

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many retailers struggle to send out the right holiday message. While they want to promote a positive message, businesses need to remain mindful that just about all of their customers have endured a touch year.

The Surprise” video from Apple hits many of the right notes by mixing hopefulness with a hint of sadness. A family goes to visit their somewhat cranky grandpa, who has just lost his wife. On Christmas morning, the kids cheer him up with a sweet, sentimental video that — of course — they created on their iPad. The engaging video tells a story, elicits a few tears, and like the Google Assistant video, demonstrates the usefulness of the product.

How to hit the sweet spot with holiday retail marketing

Movie parodies, disposable, holiday-themed cups, imaginary bears, and sentimental videos may not appear to have much in common. Still, they all evoke nostalgia for holiday traditions, or in the case of the year of Starbucks plain cups, stoke attention when they don’t.

Categories
Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Marketing/Business

Podcast advertising gives DTC brands a chance to connect with a wide, engaged, and growing audience. See five DTC advertising success stories.

PPC, blogging, and social media advertising tend to dominate discussions about DTC marketing. These kind of conversations totally ignore the rapid growth of podcast advertising as an effective and increasingly popular promotional medium for DTC brands. Even last year, The Drum reported that DTC ads had increased overall podcast revenue by over 50 percent in 2018. This comes at a time when podcasts have replaced radio shows for a hands- and eyes-free way to consume entertainment and information.

Which DTC brands have enjoyed success with podcast advertising?

Look at some examples of DTC companies that have found an audience with podcasts.

TakeMeUndies

As the name implies, TakeMeUndies sells underwear. As a podcast advertiser, they shifted some of their social media advertising money to podcast advertising a few years ago. As early experimenters, they managed to cut deals with some fairly notable celebs. Their bet paid off. According to Ad Exchanger, they have already sold nine million products and expect to generate $75 million in revenue for the year.

In this case, the company used host-read ads. The CEO, Jonathan Shokrian, said that he credited his company’s success to having the advertisements sound more like person-to-person referrals than typical advertising.

FabFitFun

FabFitFun offers a unique and fun subscription service. Subscribers pay $49.99 each season. In return, they get a box filled with eight to ten products with a guaranteed value of at least $200. Members can also choose some of the products they want included in their basic box, or they can pick add-in products for an additional fee.

According to Magellan, FabFitFun first started advertising on podcasts in 2017 and by 2019, they made the list of the highest spending podcast advertisers. They’re featured on such popular shows as The Goal Digger Podcast and Chatty Broads.

Blue Apron

Like TakeMeUndies, Blue Apron has grown up with sponsored podcast ads. In fact, they have even launched their own branded podcast called “Why We Eat What We Eat.” During the show, a food historian named Cathy Erway discusses a variety of interesting topics related to food. Some examples have ranged from the origins of duck sauce to dealing with picky eaters.

Whatever their content marketing agency comes up with, it’s working. The company’s sales have increased 500 percent.

ZipRecruiter

Similar to Blue Apron, ZipRecruiter sponsors a podcast. In this case, it’s called Rise and Grind, a podcast that caters to their likely audience of job seekers, hiring managers, and entrepreneurs. Rise and Grind, the sponsored podcast, has even launched other businesses, like a Shark Tank investor named Daymond John.

By producing the right type of content and sharing their platform with entrepreneurs, ZipRecruiter has earned a large, targeted audience and some great publicity. As an example, Daymon John praised ZipRecruiter as a company that focused upon finding good people and good jobs, according to FastCompany.

Podcast Superstar

According to the Podcast Superstar page on Airbnb, $195 gives guests an interview in a Manhattan studio for a podcast called mürmur. video. The page promises guests a chance to promote themselves, their business, or their idea directly to the world.

This example doesn’t exactly fit with the more conventional approaches to using sponsored podcasts to attract an audience and promote a specific business. Instead, the podcast promotes itself as a way for people with a modest budget to get featured in a podcast.

The reviews suggest that the host does a good job with the interview, even if his Airbnb page doesn’t mention the audience size. Still, the deal includes a professional recording, so at least, it can give startups and small companies a way to get content produced for a budget-friendly fee. To make this opportunity truly effective, they may need to invest more to distribute and promote the recording.

How DTC brands can benefit from podcast promotions

Podcast advertising shares certain features with both digital and radio promotions. Still, it has its own character. To make the most of this rapidly growing medium, keep these tips in mind:

  • Typically, podcasts work very well to increase brand awareness, though they can directly push leads and sales.
  • Since many listeners may listen to archived or downloaded programs long after the original date, they may work better for offers that aren’t time sensitive.
  • As with radio, it’s usually not possible to finely tune audience demographics as tightly as on PPC platforms.
  • When developing content for sponsored podcasts, keep the audience in mind. They probably don’t want to listen to 30-minute advertisements, so find relevant topics that would lend themselves well to mentions of specific products and services.

As with any other kind of marketing, expect to test and tune a bit before finding the perfect podcast advertising solution. Still, many DTC brands have found receptive audiences and growth opportunities by investing in various kinds of podcast promotions.

Categories
Marketing/Business

Increased demand and reduced supplies of aluminum have kept products off shelves. Learn how CPG brand marketing was impacted and could react in the future.

While not quite as notorious as the infamous toilet paper shortage, many companies have had to reduce production of canned products because they have had trouble sourcing aluminum cans. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic and even changing customer behaviors have contributed to supply problems. Take a look at the multiple causes of aluminum shortages and the best ways a CPG marketing agency can help cope with the problems.

What caused the aluminum can shortage?

According to Newsweek, aluminum shortages did not stem so much from production cutbacks as an increase in demand. Because of restrictions on restaurants, bars, and other in-person sources of products, CPG audience research found that consumer behavior has changed to prefer picking up supplies and bringing them home.

For instance, people stocked up on canned drinks to replace the beverages they might have consumed outside of their homes from a beer tap or a soda dispensary. At the same time, concerns over future shortages and limiting trips to stores caused many people to stock up on other kinds of canned goods to keep in their pantries.

Ironically, an increased consumer preference for recyclable and somewhat eco-friendly aluminum cans over other types of packaging also helped stoke demand. At the same time, recycling centers had closed or limited operations, so that aggravated the problem. That meant that a lot more of these aluminum cans ended up in the trash anyway. 

How consumers viewed the aluminum shortage

Consumers might have seen evidence of the problem as sparsely stocked shelves in their favorite beverage aisle at the store. In truth, the problem did not come mostly from shortages of products but from fewer aluminum cans to package them in.

These statistics from Packaging World help illustrate the issues:

  • In 2019, before the pandemic, people consumed 60 percent of beer from cans, so a high demand already existed.
  • Turnarounds for orders of some kinds of cans changed from four or five days to four or five weeks after the pandemic hit.
  • The price of printed cans has nearly doubled, meaning companies either have to struggle with lower margins or increased prices.

How is the aluminum shortage impacting CPG brand advertising?

Most commonly, both large and small brands have prioritized their most popular products over niche offerings. As an example, Coca-Cola reduced supplies of Cherry Coke Zero. Mashed noted that even though the fruitier version of Coke Zero isn’t as popular as the regular version, people still noticed. Cherry Coke fans even flocked to the company’s Twitter page to ask Coca-Cola why they couldn’t find their favorite soft drink on the shelves.

The company responded by saying they struggled with supply issues and were working hard to adapt. Since Coca-Cola has earned a good marketing reputation over decades as a market leader, their response can provide some inspiration for any brands impacted by shortages of aluminum cans or other products:

  • Coca-Cola knows its CPG brand personas very well, so they first responded by retrenching to prioritize their best-selling products. They sacrificed production of less-popular flavors in order to try to satisfy as much demand as possible for the most-popular drinks.
  • They responded pretty transparently to questions on social media. While they didn’t go into specifics of the types of shortages, the company did admit they struggled with supply problems and were working hard to address the issue. Perhaps, they might have done better by bringing up the topic before consumers asked, but at least, they answered questions when they arose.

Will the aluminum shortage lead to greener alternatives?

Even more than such large companies as Coca-Cola, smaller breweries and other supplies have struggled with supply shortages. As an example, Brett Trump serves as the CFO of a small brewery in Pennsylvania. He said that larger breweries have swept in and purchased available supplies, and he lacks the resources to compete with them.

Actually, this can provide an opportunity for some smaller companies to find alternatives to traditional cans. As an example, some premium brands have turned to eco-friendly Cartocan cans, according to Packaging Gateway. They’re actually made out of a special kind of cardboard, generate a lower footprint than either aluminum or PET cans, and can keep products fresh for up to 11 months.

Since studies of CPG brand personas uncover that many consumers prefer eco-friendly alternatives, using aluminum-alternative packaging could help producers improve their brand. Imagine what an impact it could make if a company like Coca-Cola started using Cartocan.

Categories
Marketing/Business

What will 2021 TikTok marketing look like? Don’t ignore increasing market penetration or this quirky social video site’s young, engaged, and fresh market.

Developed by ByteDance, a Chinese company, TikTok lets users produce, edit, and share short videos. The social media platform’s editing features include the ability to add sound effects, musical overlays, and video effects.

Even though TikTok has only been around for a few years, it’s attracted a large, enthusiastic user base and more than its share of controversy. At the same time, businesses have just begun to explore the potential of Tik Tok marketing. Find out what makes this site unique and how a social media agency might use it to attract an audience.

What makes TikTok unique?

In order to start to develop a marketing plan for TikTok, it’s important to understand its unique character. Effective social media content writing for this video site differs from content development for Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Twitter. As a very general impression, most people would describe most popular TikTok videos as quirky.

With some notable exceptions, a marketer would probably call the site’s content more entertaining than newsworthy. Exceptions to this might include Claudia Conway, the daughter of the former presidential advisor and of course, high-level critiques of the site’s privacy and security.

As for more typical examples of popular videos:

  • One piece played upbeat music as the presenter sprayed shaving cream into a Croc and then stuck her foot inside to splatter the shaving cream through the holes.
  • Another video started with suspenseful music as a hand drew back a curtain to reveal a wide-eyed cat.

Even though the videos sound silly when described, they were both worth a watch for a quick grin. To gain a better feel for this kind of short, amusing video content, watch this compilation of popular Tik Tok videos on YouTube.

Can social media services benefit from TikTok in 2021?

Look at some eMarketer predictions for TikTok in 2021:

  • After 95-percent growth in 2019, eMarketer predicted growth of over 21 percent this year.
  • By 2021, the platform should have over 50 million users.
  • Young people make up most of the audience, with slower growth among older users.
  • At least one out of five social media users will login to TikTok at least once a month by 2021.

Right now, the platform lacks the penetration of such established social sites as Facebook and Twitter. Still, it’s the only large social media site with growing penetration. In fact, eMarketer compared TikTok’s position to that of Facebook in the first decade of the 21st Century. A savvy social media agency might view this new, growing platform as a good place to test creative marketing ideas and a chance to get in on the ground floor before it grows saturated with ads.

How to plan TikTok social media content development

Mostly, marketers look at TikTok as more of a place to build brand recognition than to generate direct sales or leads. Now and probably into 2021, the most popular kind of marketing campaign on the site is called a Hash Tag Challenge. These challenges can rapidly increase visibility and also encourage popular influencers to join in.

To understand how a hash tag challenge works, look at a couple of examples: 

  • Guess ran a challenge to build their audience and launch a new line of denim jeans. They ran the campaign under the hashtag of #inMyDenimChallenge and motivated users to produce music videos while wearing the new denim pants.
  • Burger King called their challenge the #WhopperDance. They offered coupons for $1 Whoppers to encourage users to produce their own dances. 

TikTok offers hosted challenges. These include increased visibility and a special page where the promoter can list their terms and display the challenge videos. These hosted challenges cost quite a bit, but smaller businesses can still succeed by creating and promoting their own challenges.

For one thing, TikTok offers other kinds of ads that businesses can begin with a budget as low as $50. A small business could use these cheaper ads to test their strategies and to promote an independent challenge.

Will TikTok remain fresh in 2021 and beyond?

According to HubSpot, some other social sites have tried to provide features that recreate the TikTok experience, but their efforts haven’t successfully pulled users away from the original. Because the site is still fairly new and growing, it can provide a fantastic opportunity to get noticed by engaging in creative marketing. Plenty of marketers would love a chance to revisit Facebook marketing back in its early days. Experimenting with TikTok may give them that chance.

Categories
Case Studies Marketing/Business

Three scary marketing case studies to help marketers avoid marketing fails by remaining sensitive to your audience and learning to adapt your message fast.

Plenty of people will always associate 2020 with dire health concerns and economic uncertainty. Marketers may not need to wait for Halloween to evoke feelings of fear and dread. Still, in the spirit of the spooky season, take a look at some marketing case studies that can help businesses avoid future pitfalls and perform fearlessly in the future.

The 2020 marketing case study hall of horrors

This year provided plenty of opportunities for businesses to rise above their circumstances. You may have read about pizza shops that used their ovens to mold personal protective equipment and distilleries that produced hand sanitizer. Of course, those positive marketing stories do not belong here. Instead, take a quick look at some of 2020’s most visible marketing missteps.

1. Unlucky Corona

Founded in the 1920s, Corona beer has become one of the world’s most popular beer brands. Fantastic marketing ensures people think of their brand when they picture a cool bottle of beer with a lime stuck in the top. Sadly, the brewer launched a new drink called Corona Spritzer in February of 2020, just about the time that people started associating Corona with coronavirus.

Sadly, the product introduction did not perform well. Search Engine Journal said that even though it’s tough to delay a launch, that’s exactly what they should have done. Even though most people realize that Corona beer has nothing to do with coronavirus, studies found that purchase intent had dropped to its lowest level in two years. Introducing an anti-coronavirus hand sanitizer would probably have yielded better results for their brand.

2. Poor-timing Progressive

By March of 2020, a lot of states and cities had already closed bars and restaurants to help encourage social distancing. During that same month, Progressive Insurance used the backdrop of a karaoke bar to promote their online insurance site. Of course, nobody inside of the crowded bar even had a mask on, which lots of people find frightening these days.

Just about a month later, Sharablee, a market intelligence company, asked consumers what they wanted out of advertising during COVID-19. Well over half said they preferred ads that reflected the new normal. Progressive probably should have changed that advertisement to a karaoke Zoom party to avoid getting singled out for bad taste in a digital advertising case study.

3. Tone-deaf McDonald’s

Corona’s and Progressive’s worst offenses might include poor timing and an inability to pivot their marketing campaigns fast enough. They probably did not do any serious damage to their brands. At the same time, any advertising case study of some of McDonald’s messaging might draw more criticism that their attempt to sound sympathetic to people’s plight during the pandemic came off as insincere.

McDonald’s posted an image on social media with their famous golden arches separated from each other. They paired the image with the idea that it represented solidarity with social distancing measures to help curb the virus. The company’s critics, including politicians with large audiences, responded that the company could better demonstrate solidarity by improving employee benefits, like paid sick leave.

Like other hospitality companies, McDonald’s suffered too during the pandemic. According to CNN, revenues fell 30 percent in the second quarter when compared with the same quarter of 2019. Still, the message may sound hollow to employees without paid sick leave and people who sympathize with them.

How to avoid the coronavirus marketing crypt of horror

The coronavirus pandemic caused a very abrupt and unexpected business disruption. Even such good marketers as Progressive, Corona, and McDonald’s made mistakes. Still, successful marketers know they need to adapt to changes, even when those changes emerge rapidly.

Businesses like Progressive and Corona simply failed to pivot fast enough in response to changing consumer sentiment. Even unconsciously, the sight of happy crowds sharing beer or performing like their favorite rockstar can turn people off during these socially-distanced times. McDonald’s might have been better served by promoting any positive actions they were taking to protect their employees and not a fist bump that some interpreted as insincere. Brands need to reflect their audiences, which can include customers, employees, and sometimes even politicians.

Categories
Marketing/Business

Pumpkin spice marketing and the success it’s seen over the years can be explained by nostalgia, broad cultural appeal, and even the way human brains work.

Anybody can visit a local grocery store to buy a jar of pumpkin spice for a few dollars. Generally, the blend contains a mix of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and sometimes, ginger and allspice. Stores have sold these traditional spice mixes for generations. For most of that time, shoppers would pick up a jar as a convenient way to season pumpkin pie, a traditional autumn treat.

How did pumpkin spice become incredibly popular as a fancy coffee flavor? Obviously, anybody could have added a pinch of this blend, milk, and sweetener to their coffee mug for a few cents a serving. Until about a decade ago, few people thought of it.

According to a recent estimate from Forbes, Starbucks has managed to turn this common mix of seasonal spices into a popular phenom that helps them sell about 20 million cups of pumpkin spice latte each year. Even more, they reserve their pumpkin spice for the holiday season, so it’s not even available all year. Later, plenty of other businesses caught on and flavored or scented their products in an effort to profit from the trend.

Obviously, lots of marketers would like to understand how Starbucks managed to turn a seasonal drink into extra revenue and even a cultural phenomenon. Consider the popularity of pumpkin spice from the perspective of consumer insight marketing to understand why it grew so wildly popular and how to apply these lessons to other marketing efforts.

Five pumpkin spice consumer insights marketing perspectives

To spark some ideas for other potential products, start by understanding what makes pumpkin spice latte so great.

1. Pumpkin spice smells like nostalgia 

People may actually derive more satisfaction from the fragrance of a pumpkin spice latte than the flavor. According to Scientific American, the brain processes olfactory information differently from other senses. Scents travel more directly to centers of the brain associated with memory and emotion.

Thus, people may actually remember scent-associated memories faster than they can even recall the name of the scent. If somebody says that pumpkin spice smells like Christmas, they’re probably describing their first reaction to the smell pretty well. Very often, people lend weight to this idea by saying they enjoy pumpkin spice because it reminds them of holiday gatherings and other pleasant memories.

Anyway, a hot brew provides the perfect carrier for the scent of a fragrant blend of spices. If some people talk about needing their pumpkin spice fix, they’re offering clues to the appeal of this holiday drink. For a little while, just letting the scent waft into the air can help evoke the holiday spirit

2. People connect with others around their love of pumpkin spice

Of course, plenty of competitors and other companies have jumped onto the pumpkin spice bandwagon. Besides coffee, consumers can find everything from recipes for pumpkin spice granola to spice-scented soap. Lots of these products generate social groups and energetic follower bases.

As an example, Starbucks has a Facebook page dedicated to its pumpkin spice latte and thousands of followers. Yes, people join a Facebook group to show their support for this drink and ensure they stay updated with news about the coffee drink. On a related note, the Facebook Pumpkin Spice Festival group also has thousands of followers. That’s dedicated to all things pumpkin spiced and not just coffee. By picking up on a popular trend, plenty of marketers can find a thirsty market.

3. Pumpkin spice stirs up light-hearted controversy

Brands generally like to minimize controversy; however, measured differences of opinion can also attract attention. Reddit, for example, has multiple threads devoted to discussions of the relative merits or demerits of pumpkin spice.

Judging by some of these Reddit threads:

  • Some contributors admitted they loved the Starbucks latte but considered it a guilty pleasure.
  • Others argued that the flavor had grown so pervasive that the whole uproar ruined their enjoyment of a seasonal treat.
  • Of course, the purists objected to the fact that it tasted nothing like pumpkins. Pumpkin spice products only contain the spices used to flavor pumpkin pie and sweetener but not pumpkins.

Most posters just appeared to be having fun discussing a fairly harmless topic, and the thing is, nobody really said they disliked the flavor. In any case, lively discussions like that engage viewers. It’s fair to assume that more than a few readers stumbled on the discussion and decided they needed to try the drink to form their own opinion.

The idea of pumpkin spice has even generated memes. Funny, supportive, or even mildly disparaging, they get shared on social media and bring more attention.

4. Seasonality can generate a sense of scarcity

Some businesses only want to invest in products they can sell 12 months a year. At the same time, marketers should recognize the value of having seasonal items. According to Unamo, a provider of SEO and market research services, the seasonality of pumpkin spice products provides two powerful benefits:

  • A sense of scarcity: With some products, scarcity creates extra value value. Anybody can buy the spice blend in a grocery store 12 months a year. However, Starbucks and other companies tend to reserve their products for the holiday season, so customers have to wait to buy them.
  • Association with seasonal marketing: The product’s seasonality also makes it easy to incorporate pumpkin spice marketing with seasonal marketing. People tend to spend more during holidays, so they’re likely to indulge in fancy coffee when they’re out shopping, meeting friends, traveling, or even commuting.

5. Pumpkin spices span most U.S. cultures

A pumpkin spice latte serves as a new twist on something traditional for many people. Today, Thanksgiving feasts from Maine to California often include this traditional dessert. Similar scents emanated from George and Martha Washington’s kitchen hundreds of years ago. At the same time, such ethnic cuisines as Chinese, Middle Eastern, and African often use one or more of the spices in the blend.

Adding the spices to a coffee drink provides some novelty; however, the brand doesn’t need to introduce a totally new flavor to reach a wide base of potential customers. Even though pumpkin spice latte may have seemed novel when first introduced, people could already associate the scent and flavor with things they already liked.

How a consumer insights company can help other businesses spice up their marketing

Some businesses may want to include pumpkin spice in their own products to improve engagement and revenues by riding on a popular trend. Even though it’s already pervasive, the seasonality of pumpkin spice gives marketers a chance to make a fresh start every year.

A few companies may want to come up with their own ideas for a novel twist on something that’s already very familiar to their market. Bacon-flavored toothpaste checks some of the boxes but doesn’t appear to have quite the same appeal. Prudent businesses will want to engage market research services to test their ideas before releasing new items to the public.

Categories
Creative & Production Marketing/Business Package Design

Three ways the best CPG marketing agency can design packaging to reduce waste, improve brand reputation, and drive attention and sales. 

Of course, a CPG marketing agency frequently has to help promote products that people might think of as fairly interchangeable. Choosing between some jars of mayo, bottles of ketchup, or boxes of laundry detergent might not seem like a big decision for most consumers. Thus, people may tend to choose the brand they’ve always bought or maybe, what’s on sale. Find out how a good CPG advertising agency can make products stand out on the shelves, so customers will consider them anything but ordinary.

Three Ways a CPG marketing agency can differentiate products

First, it might help to work with a consumer package goods design agency. Besides having experience with developing outstanding packaging, these professionals can provide a different perspective to help come up with novel solutions that are sometimes easy to overlook by people who manage these products every day. Consider three tested suggestions that packaging professionals might offer.

1. Make packaging more useful

Making packaging more useful can provide a great way to differentiate a product from competitors. As just one example, Heinz simply flipped their bottle upside down in 2002, so it could rest on the lid instead of the base. Of course, most people find thick, rich ketchup challenging to get out of a typical bottle, especially when the container’s almost empty.

After 170 years of producing ketchup, the company — or their packaging design agency — came up with the genius idea of flipping the bottle to let gravity lend some assistance. Apparently, this change caught the eye of consumers. According to CNN Money, sales increased by six percent in a year when overall ketchup sales only rose by two percent.

2. Ensure customers know how to use the product to its best advantage

Is there something different about using a product that customers should know? Obviously, if consumers know how to make the best use of their purchase, they’re likely to return for more. As an example, Trader Joe’s sells a spice blend called, “Everything But the Elote.” Elote means corn in English, and the word suggests boiled, roasted, or steamed corn prepared in a particular way. Some people have figured out on their own that this blend can also spice up popcorn, all sorts of green vegetables, dips, French fries, and lots of other kinds of food.

If Trader Joe’s would include these tips on their packaging, they might sell even more of this popular product. Besides promoting the versatility of a product, marketers might also consider including directions to get the best results for its primary use. Not only will these suggestions help entice customers, they’ll also ensure customer satisfaction and repeat sales.

3. Consider seasonal packaging

Consumers tend to spend a bit more during certain times of the year, and a seasonally themed package can help get them to add certain kinds of products to their shopping cart.

According to Brand Experience: Packaging, shoppers tend to loosen up their pocketbooks at these times, ranked in order of how much spending increases:

  • Back-to-school, especially back-to-college
  • Winter holidays
  • Mother’s Day
  • Easter
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Father’s Day

As an example, let’s say Mom loves coffee. Loved ones may be more likely to add a bag or jar of coffee to a gift basket if it has attractive, themed packaging. Even better, add in a nice “World’s Greatest Mom” mug to provide extra value that can justify a higher price.

Touches like this can also encourage retailers to include the products in a special display that will give them more visibility. For online sales, it gives distributors a chance to tag the product with seasonal keywords.

Think about product and package size

Sometimes, companies think that offering a jumbo package for a cheaper price will encourage sales. With perishable products, this can backfire. For example, pet owners may not care to buy 30 pounds of dog food for their seven-pound Maltese. They would rather pay somewhat more for a smaller package to avoid the waste of having to dispose of stale products.

Also, some companies tend to package relatively large things in oversized packaging. Too much packaging wastes materials, generates excessive shipping charges, and may even annoy purchasers. These days, consumers have grown more concerned about the environment and frugality.  To promote the best brand image, a why a CPG advertising agency may advise their clients to right-size packages in order to save money and appeal to buyers.

Choose colors to create a quick, emotional impression

The University of California at Irvine published a fascinating paper on the ability of colors to effect human emotional responses. Nature may have coded some of this response in people’s genes, as humanity evolved to associate certain colors with their natural environment. Beyond that, people have their own specific responses to various color schemes, based upon culture or even personality.

As an example, many Americans might associate red and green with holidays. People don’t tend to react just to one color either. Instead, contrasting colors, image clarity, and even shades can make a big difference. Also, sometimes colors can even go out of style for a time. For instance, the 70s favored more earthy shades; however, brighter colors took over in the 80s.

The importance of packaging for product differentiation

Businesses invest a lot in developing their products. The right packaging can reduce costs, promote a positive brand image, and of course, increase sales. In contrast, poor packaging can waste money, hurts reputations, and turn off buyers.

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Marketing/Business

How effective podcast advertising can deliver a receptive audience to all kinds of businesses with podcast advertising and measurable returns.

Even though historians may refer to the 1930s as radio’s golden age, the audio device remained important through the rise of TV and even the introduction of the internet. Most recently though, radio use has declined into a media that many people only use in their cars or keep in their emergency kit in case of a storm.

Radio Ink cited one survey that found about 96 percent of Americans still had a radio at home in 2008 but only about two-thirds do today. Still, another form of audio media — the podcast — has grown rapidly in recent years and may provide an alternative source of advertising for savvy content marketers.

Does podcast advertising offer a good alternative to radio advertising?

Perhaps because of the decline of the overall radio audience, many marketers actually have explored podcast ads as an alternative to radio spots. They might consider podcasts as either a replacement for or supplement to radio ads.

According to Marketing Dive:

  • With over half-a-million podcasts to choose from, a podcast marketing agency should have no trouble finding the right topic and niche audience for almost any advertiser.
  • Over 70 million Americans say they regularly listen to podcasts, and industry watchers believe the audience will increase 81 percent within a couple of years.
  • During 2020, financial analysts expect podcast advertising budgets to top $650 million, representing a $250 million increase over 2018.

Can a podcast marketing agency use podcasts effectively?

Not matter how large and engaged the audience, marketing effectively still requires skill and familiarity with the medium. To understand how a content marketing agency can make the best use of their ad budget, it will help to understand why podcast advertising works well. And even though ads may help attract an audience, marketers still need to ensure they’re worth the investment by finding ways to track their returns.

On Bigeye’s podcast, In Clear Focus, we discuss podcast advertising with Stephen Pickens, Director of Sales for AdvertiseCase. “I like to think of podcast advertising as word-of-mouth marketing, but at scale. So if you have a friend that recommends you try a particular product or service, it comes with a level of authenticity because you trust them. And it’s really similar to podcast advertising in that way because the shows that I listen to, I really trust the hosts. When they take some time out of their show to explain a product to me and ultimately endorse it, it comes with a tremendous amount of weight.”

Why podcast advertising can work

For one thing, ads tend to annoy internet users and even radio listeners and TV watchers. Lots of people install ad blockers on their computer browsers and even buy TVs that have similar features built in. In contrast, CNBC found that 78 percent of podcast users don’t mind hearing ads from sponsors.

When it comes to their favorite podcasts, listeners appear to understand that the sponsors fund the content, which they’re less inclined to consider when their favorite programming gets interrupted by ads on other types of media. In fact, some studies found that over 60 percent of listeners not only remembered podcast sponsors but actually made purchases from them. That makes this medium look like a dream for a podcast marketing agency!

Measuring ROI for podcast marketing

Of course, podcast formats can vary. Typically, they have advertising slots at the beginning, middle, and end of the broadcast. Very often, the host will read the ads, which can help blend them very well with the rest of the program. On the other hand, simply having a marketing message read makes it tough for sponsors to determine exactly how the audience reacted.

These three tactics can help the advertisers measure the effectiveness and returns of their sponsorship:

  • Offer a special promo code for each ad. If a customer enters the promo code to make a purchase, the business can trace it back to a specific spot.
  • Businesses can create unique URLs for the advertisement, and if they sponsor one podcast often, they may even include the broadcaster’s name in the internet address to enhance the connection with customers.
  • A company might also provide customers with checkout surveys that ask how they learned about the business or the specific offer.

Traditional TV and radio advertisers use similar tactics to these to help measure returns from their marketing. None of them works as well as the sort of detailed analytics that purely digital advertising can produce, but they should offer enough information to give businesses a good idea of their campaign’s performance.

As a note, these ways to measure responses will mostly only work for direct response ads. Marketers may have other goals, such as improve brand awareness. Sponsors may get a rough idea of how much a spot improved brand awareness by measuring activity on their website or social sites.

In fact, Marketing Dive reported that direct response spots make up about two out of three podcast ads, with brand awareness efforts taking up about one out of four. This may say more about the difficulty of measuring returns than the effectiveness of brand awareness ads on podcasts.

Why should a content marketing agency consider podcast ads?

Lots of people say they enjoy podcasts because they can listen to a program while doing other things. Similar to radio, podcast fans can listen on their smart phones while they commute, cook dinner, or even work. Because the barrier to entry into podcast publishing is much lower than for producing radio shows, audiences also have a big variety of programs to choose from, so almost everybody can find something of interest. For a number of reasons, podcasts keep increasing in popularity and can provide a great form of media for marketing.

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Marketing/Business

Hiring the best full service marketing agency for a particular business presents challenges. Learn the in’s and out’s of finding the best marketing partner.

According to Statista, businesses can choose between over 13,000 marketing agencies in the U.S. All together, these advertising agencies help their clients invest billions in marketing. While having choices should benefit companies that need to find the best marketing partner, the number of marketing firms can make the selection process daunting.

10 suggestions to find the best full service marketing agency partner

To help find the best full service marketing agency, consider these tested tips from successful companies.

1. Define business goals and the company mission

Knowing what they need to accomplish and how they want people to see them provides a signpost that can help direct all kinds of decisions. Sadly, many companies get the idea they need to market online. Then they plunge into it without truly defining what they hope to accomplish with their investment.

Marketers need goals before they can develop metrics to measure success. Without them, they may simply judge progress by such fuzzy metrics as getting a lot of fans and followers on a social site. While inexperienced marketers may take that as a sign they’re attracting an audience, a large audience doesn’t always mean a company has achieved such essential goals as improving brand recognition or revenue.

Businesses don’t always have to know exactly which platforms or resources to use in order to accomplish their goals. A good marketing agency should take the time to understand their clients and provide direction. However, they need to communicate what they hope to achieve. So, a business not only needs to define their mission and goals; they also need to find a marketing partner that pays attention to them.

2. Decide between a local vs. national firm

Of course, the internet can open up national or even global marketplaces for businesses. In some cases, a national firm may have more resources and reach. Also, marketing firms don’t need to have their physical offices located near the business to communicate or collaborate.

On the other hand, a “Sunshine State” business may benefit by choosing a Florida advertising agency that already employs talent who really understands the community and even the geography. For instance, people in an Orlando marketing agency will know there’s more to the city than just Disney World.

In addition, companies with headquarters in other states or even countries might benefit from using local agencies in new markets when they hope to expand into that region. Even more than local knowledge, hometown marketing companies typically have local connections that can provide lots of value.

3. Consider the company’s personality, culture, and values

According to advice from the University of Southern California, establishing a brand personality lies at the core of generating brand loyalty. A description of the company’s character gives customers a reference that they can relate to on a personal and emotional level.

That’s why the best marketing campaigns don’t just sell services or products. They also reflect well upon a company’s overall image. It helps to work with a marketing partner that understands these important business characteristics and can align with them because they have similar values.

4. Look for firms with the right staff and resources

Businesses don’t just have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing a marketing agency. These days, marketers also need to decide between a large selection of promotional methods. These include digital and offline media, including paid ads, content marketing, social sites, podcasts, print, radio, TV, trade shows, sponsorships, and so on.

Moreover, marketing plans might include these steps and more:

  • Audience research
  • Creating and tracking metrics and analytics
  • SEO and web platform development
  • Content production and optimization for text, videos, audio, and graphics
  • Social media development and management
  • Influencer marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Loyalty and referral program development
  • Paid ads for a variety of online or offline platforms
  • Packaging design

Generally, marketers need to stay within budgets while selecting the right steps for their marketing plans, making certain every channel works together to support overall goals, and of course, tracking results. A full service marketing agency needs to understand all of the options, keep up with current trends, and of course, know how to demonstrate results. And they need to do that within their client’s budget.

Businesses also need to take care that they don’t choose a marketing firm that only has expertise in a few methods because those firms may have biases that won’t always produce the best returns. A full service marketing agency can deploy the right expertise and give suggestions based upon their client’s needs and not their own preferred niches.

5. Make sure the marketing firm keeps up with marketing trends 

While some old-school marketing tactics still work very well, others have declined in effectiveness either because the audience has declined or simply because the ad platform worked well and then grew very competitive. As an example, few advertisers can enjoy profiting off the penny clicks on Google that they could have found years ago. At the same time, new opportunities always arise, and it’s vitally important for marketing firms to keep up with innovation.

As an example, radio audiences have declined dramatically in the past decade; however, podcasts may provide a growing source of targeted and engaged listeners for audio ads. Businesses need to make sure they hire a marketing firm that understands both traditional media and keeps up with new ones.

6. Find a company that knows how to use marketing technology to work efficiently

Technology probably won’t replace creative people soon. At the same time, businesses can benefit by employing marketing technology that can help them perform a variety of jobs efficiently, such as research or performing tedious scheduling tasks. Companies should look for marketing firms that understand technology and know how to use it to keep costs down, reduce errors, and improve profits.

7. Investigate the marketing firm’s transparency

If the first encounter with the firm uncovers a website with no mailing address or phone number, consider that a big, red flag. During these times, lots of qualified professionals may work remotely from home; so it’s not that a company necessarily needs to have a fancy office downtown. At the same time, businesses have to avoid thinking they have, for instance, employed a local agency when they have really contracted with an overseas sweatshop.

Of course, transparency should extend to all aspects of business, including methods, reporting, and collaboration. It’s just that catching obvious red flags in the beginning can help companies save time as they search for the best marketing agency for their needs.

8. Research experience and ask for examples of past work

Most experienced marketing firms will take the trouble to promote past successes from a variety of clients, so it’s a good sign to see some case studies or even client logos on the marketing firm’s website. Even so, ask for references to ask past clients what parts of the process went well and which could have worked better. In addition to references the marketing agency supplies, search for reviews on third-party sites.

In the best case, a business should look for examples of clients with businesses that have qualities similar to their own company. For instance, the companies might work in the same kind of industry, have locations in the same geographical area, or simply have similar business goals.

9. Discuss budgets

Naturally, every business has a set budget for their marketing projects and campaigns. Bring this topic up early to ensure that the marketing agency can work with the size of budget allocated for their work. Remember that costs will include the marketing firm’s efforts and any expenses that various advertising platforms may generate for sponsorships, paid ads, and so on. Don’t be afraid to ask to run a test project before committing the entire budget.

10. Ensure the marketing firm displays commitment to their clients

Probably most important, the marketing agency should consider themselves partners to their clients. When their customers do well, so do they. Exploring this final step can also cover a lot of the other bases because committed marketing firms are most likely to avoid biases, try to work efficiently, and devote their attention both to innovative trends and their client’s business.

Why take the time to investigate a variety of marketing firms

A business should find nothing easier than coming up with a list of marketing firms that want to serve them. Even in some local areas, they may find dozens or even hundreds of listings. Judging by the number of businesses that switch marketing partners because of dissatisfaction over their experience, finding the best marketing partner presents more challenges. Businesses need to take time to vet any marketing partners they might consider.