Branding discussion: Developing a brand persona – Part I

People who love their brands have an emotional attachment to them that’s almost impossible to match.  Give an Apple enthusiast a Samsung Galaxy to play with, and watch him politely decline to try the $700 phone.  Whether it’s Target for reliability and quality, Neiman Marcus for luxury goods, or JetBlue for affordable airfare, people stick to brands when there’s trust and loyalty between the brand and the consumer.
But how can a marketer with a new product, service or feature create and instill brand loyalty and a brand persona into its users?  After all, the business owner is typically working in a competitive landscape – while the brand may offer a superior product, the business owner unfortunately still must rise above the noise to get potential customers to convert to loyalists.

Brand strategists have discovered that they can do this through creating a strong, unique brand persona.  By addressing a few key concerns, they can rise above others in the field to establish a strong brand presence, as well as a loyal customer base.

Tips from Our Florida Advertising Agency

Here are some tips from the pros at our Orlando marketing agency that business owners can try in order to help create a strong brand identity:

Know Your Audience: Truly understanding your audience is two-fold.  Data helps provide insights about your target demographic – perhaps they are female  smartphone owners, aged 25-35, who enjoy cooking.  But once you know your audience based on consumer insights, you might simply begin to develop gut instincts about them.  There’s a fine line between giving your consumers what they want based on your analytic data, and giving them features and services they love that they didn’t know they wanted.

Create an Ideal Customer:  If mom-to-be Hannah Jones, who lives at home with her husband in a middle class home in the suburbs is your ideal client, then perhaps you’re doing yourself a disservice by heavily marketing in urban areas.  Our Florida advertising agency warns against attracting customers that are not ideal, you may also damage your business by potentially causing dilution of the brand name. Take some tips from the brand Airwalk, which quickly fell downhill once it stopped making its line of specialty shoes aimed toward teenage skateboarders and available only at specialty stores, and accidentally began reaching the thrift consumer instead.

Know Your Product:  If you’ve developed a high-end service for luxury watch owners, then chances are that your brand voice doesn’t need to seem as though it’s wired on Mountain Dew.  Instead, look closely at the types of publications and blogs that cater to your ideal customer, and review them to learn about what’s popular with your demographic in the moment.  If your product doesn’t seem to be an appropriate fit with your target, then you may need to pivot your business or your strategy in order to keep in line with what your target needs.

Once you’ve addressed these items, you can then begin to create your own brand persona.  Part II of this article offers ways in which you can begin to develop a campaign around your target consumer.

Part II is coming tomorrow…

To learn more about our branding services, please contact BIGEYE today at 407-839-8599.

Multi-screen generations & how to properly market to them

In a world where children aren’t being taught cursive (because, frankly, who needs it when you have a tablet?), it’s getting harder and harder for marketers to stay in touch with the younger generation.  Back in our day, we didn’t have to worry about chargers and crashing devices – in fact, we could just tell our teachers that the dog ate our homework.

The digital age marks a time where children are growing up with Facebook and using electronic devices to learn through interactive games.  Remember the years that parents spent questioning whether it was appropriate to sit our children down in front of the television for hours on end?  Looking toward the future, we’ll have the same questions about the tablet, in addition to things we never had to worry about such as cyberbullying, internet predators and other as of yet unknown cyber threats.

But, there are also a lot of positives – children who are learning how to use devices at a young age are also testing higher in certain academic subjects, at least in part due to the fact that their parents are treating their devices as tools in the education process.

So, how can this information help a marketer who is trying to reach a multi-screen generation?

First of all, it is important to remember that things are much different than they were back then.  As much as we were dazzled by cereal commercials and Smoky the Bear, children are living in a different world than we did.  Technology has changed everything; even the idea of a smartphone would have been a fantasy when I was ten years old.

A marketer who is trying to reach a multi-screen generation can work to do so by creating interactive games that create an engaging experience for a child.  Obviously, there are privacy restrictions, particularly when it comes to collecting information about children and advertising to them.  But games are typically a safety net – a company-sponsored game using augmented reality or other features helps reach a child with its high levels of stimulation.  You can also reach them by having a fun and interactive website.

[quote]Though I mostly focus on the use of technology in the digital space, hand-to-hand marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach children.  [/quote]At our Orlando marketing agency, we often advise clients to market at events catered to children and teens, and to tie it in with a digital strategy.  If children have smartphones, there may be ways for a child to directly engage with your brand through the use of social media.  Perhaps they can unlock rewards with their Facebook check-ins, or by offering testimonials as to your product that you can post on YouTube and other media outlets.  Because our adolescents and teens have grown up in a digital world, they are practically socialized to do these things, which is why they are of special interest to marketers.

If you do engage in good old-fashioned television advertising, it may be beneficial to integrate your campaign with an interactive digital component.  Nokia’s recent Work for Will campaign, featuring  Up All Night’s Will Arnett (also of Arrested Development fame), invited people to log online to create a digital product, in order to be given the chance be Will Arnett’s personal assistant for a day.

Marketing to a multi-screen generation means thinking like someone with multitude of screens.  If your advertising and marketing campaign doesn’t reach your younger audience on all screens, then allow our Florida advertising agency to design one for you that will!

What makes a social media campaign so successful?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned here at our Orlando ad agency, it can be very difficult to offer a clear cut return on investment for social media efforts.  In fact, most companies inherently sense that there is some value in having an active and engaging social media platform, but because they can’t always tie it to an actual return, it can be difficult to determine the exact value of a Twitter follower or a Facebook “like.”  While it may be slightly easier to determine a return based on a campaign that successfully incentivizes people to purchase a product, it’s nearly impossible to determine how a successful campaign leads to brick and mortar sales, brand perception and other valuable consumer information.
But, a new method of thinking suggests that marketers look to other data points beyond a dollar for dollar return.  These new media experts suggest that, in the same way that advertisers can’t necessarily calculate an exact ROI based on the success of a single television commercial campaign, they should stop trying to attach a ROI to a social media campaign.  [quote] In fact, with the field of data science constantly growing in value, it’s highly possible that in the future, big data will be more valuable for a company than dollars spent.[/quote]

The following are some metrics that advertisers can use in order to help them determine an actual return on investment for a social media campaign.

Data through qualitative responses: One of the best ways to find out what consumers want from your company is to ask them directly. If the goal of your social media campaign is to ascertain data about customer wants, then incorporating questions that encourage them to engage by providing information such as their favorite websites or types of features they’d like to see integrated with your product, then a breadth of data can be invaluable.

Sharing: People tend to share content that triggers an emotion, and that they feel the need to share with others.  On Facebook, “likes” are valuable, but sharing is what brings your content into the minds of people who wouldn’t have seen it otherwise.  You can calculate shares in terms of impressions, and can compare your shares against previous campaigns.

Click-through rates, conversions and other analytics: You can also use data tracking tools such as Omniture to find out where people are finding your content, how long they stay on your page and other useful information that can help you build more successful campaigns in the future.

Press Impressions:  You know you’ve built a strong campaign if the press are covering it in a positive light.  AdAge and other companies are always reporting on businesses that use social media and digital marketing in innovative ways, and being able to capitalize on this helps to bring attention and viewership to your campaign so that even more people will pay attention.

At our Florida advertising agency, we understand that the importance of developing social media campaigns that drive sales in the short term while also providing a lasting brand-to-consumer relationship.  And in our book, a happy customer is always the epitome of success.

Contact us for help developing your social media campaign today!

 

 

Hotel turns traditional hotel marketing strategy upside down

“Where are you staying?” It’s a surmising question, in the same vein as “Who are you listening to right now?” or “What’s your favorite restaurant?”  For inquisitive trend conscious types, finding out a person’s hotel lodging preference is the equivalent of a dog sniffing another dog’s butt. The answer provides insight into that person’s character.
Stay at an affordable hotel, maybe you’re frugal; a centrally located hotel, you’re a tourist; a reliable chain, you’re unadventurous; traditional white linen, you’re stodgy; and so on, and so forth. Successful hotels in competitive markets know that the key to thriving is picking an angle and sticking with it; a hotel can’t hope to be everything to everyone, but if it can successfully emulate the preferences of a particular social set, it can wrangle loyal repeat customers. Herein lies the key to hotel marketing.

Expect the Unexpected

Hotelier Andre Balazs has unapologetically led the way on this front with his Standard Hotel properties. The Standard Hotel motto, “expect the unexpected,” eschews tradition and replaces it with anything bold and brash.  Balazs’ decision to focus on the uber trendy is bold and brash in and of itself. It’s a polarizing marketing strategy, but the recent advent of a fifth Standard location in New York City’s East Village –the other four are located in New York City’s Meatpacking District, Miami’s South Beach and Los Angeles—indicates it’s more than working.

A number of The Standard’s ad campaigns have fallen under intense public and media scrutiny for being too controversial. The most recent, titled How To be Politically Incorrect, features a series of photos by Australian artist Erwin Wurm. One such photo captures a woman urinating on a hotel room floor.  Not something you’d see from a Four Seasons.  And, Balazs has employed the structures themselves to act as built-in campaigns. For instance, floor-to-ceiling windows at The Standard High Line ensure that unabashed guests have the option of flaunting their naughty bits to street level passersby.

The point is, playing on an individual’s desire to be exactly that; an individual, is one of the most important strategies a hotel can employ if it hopes to keep that “No Vacancy” sign lit. It’s branding 101. [quote]Make sure your client knows exactly what he / she can expect from you and deliver, deliver, deliver.[/quote]

Location, location, location

Equally important for expanding hotels like The Standard is location awareness and understanding that location plays an important role in determining how to connect to a desired audience. While reckless exhibitionism may work for The Standards in New York and Los Angeles, the Florida extension is decidedly more even-tempered. A relaxed spa atmosphere is its primary selling point.

Florida Advertising Agencies

Florida advertising agencies astutely aware of the geographic benefits and limitations of the Sunshine State have the unique challenge of helping hotels with multiple locations, like The Standard, stay linearly on brand. What’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander, but sending a mixed message is equally damning. The trick is to finesse— to up play or downplay various aspects of a hotel’s branding nuances, depending on specific location, while still maintaining an underlying intended message. So, it’s choosing an audience and boning up on what works in various part of the world that can help a hotel prosper.

Looking for more creative strategies? Contact us today to help us develop your game plan!

Building business with Instagram: The bigger picture

With its very recent, very public and very pricey Facebook acquisition, the mobile photo maven coined Instagram has caught the eye of both big and small marketers, business builders and brands, worldwide. What started in 2010, as a seemingly small point, shoot and post application, has grown up to fulfill the visual needs of today’s tech-savvy social networkers.
So, what is Instagram? It’s Insta-awesome! At least we think it is. Instagram allows its 80 million+ users to broadcast their lives visually, vividly and artistically… FOR FREE! With some help from your mobile camera phone and a little photo-finishing, even the most mundane Monday morning office view can be brought into brilliance. Just point, click and share. Its simplicity is inarguable and to be quite honest, it really does make you feel like a pro photo pundit. Its features are few in number, but completely satisfy the bell & whistle requirement to keep this app usable, interesting and easy. Fun filters can turn an average afternoon walk into the embodiment of Ansel Adams. Unfortunate lacks in light can be brightened with a button-swipe. Even the most crowded images can be clarified using blur effects for extra depth of field. New office space? Share images showcasing the exotic interiors of your favorite Florida Advertising Agency and its mapped location, using a Geo-tag. Then invite them to come and see it for themselves. Most of all, Instagram images can be instantly shared with other users. Comment and “Like” capabilities allow for easy user interaction within the application. You can even choose to send your mobile image magic to your Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr feeds with ease.  Toss in #hashtag and search ability, and you’ve got a brand building brainchild that rivals marketing perfection.

How exactly can your business benefit from this billion dollar baby? By reaching your audience at their most personal levels, paying attention to their daily interactions with your products, listening to what they say (using pictures) about your brand or the business you’re in, and reacting accordingly. Still confused?

Let’s say you’re a new business, involved in wholesale. You’re small, but offer great prices to compete with the monsters you model after like BJ’s and Sam’s Club. You’ve recently launched your supercharged and supercool looking website, optimized for greatness, but there’s one problem… It’s been 2 weeks and nothing. Not one hit. So you pull up your Instagram account, slide to search and see what your industry giants are up to these days. “#Costco” Search and BOOM! Long lines and bustling buyers populate the images before you. They’re slammed! And they’re giving away free memberships for the next month! How this detail could have slipped by you is of major concern, but now you know exactly what you need to do. Within a week, your free membership offer is rolled out and the promise of premium and personalized customer service that only a small shop can offer is still on your side. Your big savings coupled with brand names and the same free membership the big guys are dealing makes you a force to be considered in the market. Now, you’re on your way!

[quote]Just as important as it is to pay attention to your audience on Instagram, is the equal importance of knowing how to utilize it effectively to push your story into the palms of your audience’s hands.[/quote] You’ve done your research and noted the trends. You’ve even found some unusual ways in which the market puts your product to use. Now what? If a picture truly is worth a thousand words, then this is your chance to TELL YOUR ENTIRE STORY! Imaginatively and strategically, you can populate your market’s minds with images of your brand. Build your web-persona using eye-catching close-ups. Share memorable moments from your most recent events. Entice new audiences to check out your next event. Host a photo contest, urging users to hashtag your business, bringing even more views to your profile. Start a trend centered on your brand! It’s easier than you think if you have a few willing friends or coworkers and some out-of-the-box photo opps. Opening an Instagram account for your business is like opening the curtains for a sneak peek behind the scenes. Users can have the coveted opportunity to see who and what makes you tick. Showcase employees having fun at work. Make it known just how awesome it is to be in the business you’re in. Post your favorite photos to your Facebook page and tweet your tinyurl off with links to each photo capture.

Above all, be genuine. They will know if you’re full of Photoshop.

Any of this sound insta-interesting? Enter the era of new marketing and contact an Orlando Marketing Agency that’s well-versed in the ways of the web. Integrate the social networks with your digital marketing strategy and see how much farther your reach will go.

Why college students shouldn’t handle social media

College students and recent college graduates love social media.  According to a January 2012 survey published by CampusLIVE (now DailyBreak), 73% of college students use some form of social media in their everyday lives.  For many people, this is indicative of a young culture that has grown up with social media all around them.  (Or maybe it just accounts for a lot of UCF students Facebooking during class.)
It can be tempting to hire a student or college graduate to handle your company’s social media.  Hiring a student is typically cheaper than hiring a Florida marketing agency to handle your social media, but is this really a good idea?

Consider the case of Red Cross, where a social media specialist sent out a drunken Tweet from the highly respected organization’s Twitter account.  The message said in part, “…when we drink we do it right #gettinslizzered.”  The person who sent the Tweet, Gloria Huang, admitted in a follow-up message that her error was based on her unfamiliarity with how to properly use Hootsuite, a social media management application.  Such an oversight has the substantial capacity to diminish a brand’s strength. (Although, it was HILARIOUS to see that post coming from a leading non-profit).

While this particular case was an employee error, it has major implications as to the types of harm that can result from inexperienced users “#gettinslizzered” on the job.  A brand’s social media is an extension of its identity, and in the same way Apple would never risk its impeccable reputation by putting its social media in the hands of someone who just passed the legal drinking age, it may not be wise to entrust your own brand to someone with little experience in brand management strategies.  Even at a local level, working with an Orlando advertising agency will allow your business to more effectively leverage trending topics and popular events in order to ensure that your business’s social media truly is an embodiment of your brand.

Contrary to what many people think, it takes significant time and effort to manage a company’s social media.  For most businesses, social strategy should be framed as its own entity, rather than as an extension of editorialized brand content.  Of course, if your social media strategy requires more of a plan than posting puppy photos and keeping your fingers crossed for the best, it might require more resources.  As such, it may be in your business’s best interest to hire an Orlando marketing agency with a division dedicated to social media.

Media experts, such as those with a full-fledged advertising and media agency background, fully comprehend the tactics behind successful marketing, advertising and customer service.  These individuals attend conferences and seminars pertaining to social media growth and expansion, and have a much deeper understanding of the consumer cycle from an overall brand strategy perspective.  For example, who might be a better person to run your FourSquare brand page account than the social media expert who just spent her dinner discussing the state of the industry with Dennis Crowley?  (Here’s a hint: it’s probably not the girl who just spent her dinner eating Ramen while discussing the state of Seal and Heidi Klum’s breakup.)

Just because a person can write a few funny Tweets doesn’t mean that individual can understand the significance of the Facebook API, or knows how to effectively pull and apply complex data analytics for future use.  These extremely valuable facets help companies build strong and compelling multi-pronged social media strategies, and can help to elicit customer engagement by doing more than posting random comments about the VMAs and the Kardashian family that don’t effectively generate a future return.

Social media has the potential to reach millions of people in seconds.  A social media goof can lead to a public relations disaster that can cause a consumer perception to sink faster than the Titanic (read: the recent case of Progressive Insurance), and the risk of such faux pas is greater with someone who lacks the experience to understand what it means to manage and maintain a brand identity.

As with most digital content strategies, it’s typically better to invest in resources to find a person who has demonstrated digital media marketing capabilities.  At even the most fundamental levels, it can be extremely difficult to execute social media engagement, even for seasoned professionals.  Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider whether it makes sense to have a student manage the online presence of the entire brand.  If you do opt to go in this direction rather than working with the experts at an Orlando ad firm, you may find your brand strategy schooled by the professionals.

If all this has given you something to Tweet home about, contact us as we offer a full multi-pronged advertising and social media approach to help you develop and maintain a branding plan that won’t come down with a case of senioritis.