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Branding Consumer Insights Direct-To-Consumer Implementation Podcast

This week’s podcast guest offers fresh ideas and insights to generate “customers for life”. Customer service expert and author John D. Hanson explains how to WOW today’s customers, based on extensive research into the practices of industry leaders including Amazon, American Express, Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton, and others. In an age of increasingly digitized customer service automation, John suggests seven ways that firms can differentiate with service excellence online and offline.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS.

John D. Hanson: I don’t think that it makes a difference whether you’re a B2C or a B2B because it’s all about people. So you have to invest into those relationships in a way to make sure that they’re getting their best from you.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising. Produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye, a full-service, audience-focused creative agency. We’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. Customer experience, also known as CX, reflects customers’ and clients’ perceptions of a business or brand. Every interaction a customer has with a business, from navigating a website, to talking to customer service representatives, to actually using the product or service, impacts a customer’s decision to keep coming back or not. Done right, customer experience can increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, yield positive, online reviews, and generate word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations. So managing customer service is increasingly seen as important as other marketing tactics. And yet when we think of call centers, for example, performance is often measured more by operational efficiency than seen as a way of creating or enhancing customer value. In a hyper-competitive landscape, every touchpoint that shapes customers’ perceptions of service quality really matters. An established leader in CX, today’s guest, John D. Hanson has over 25 years of experience in customer-facing roles and is currently President of Accelerated Revenue Inc., as well as a sought-after consultant and speaker. During his career, John has worked in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business contexts: in retail, lending, credit card servicing, and industrial automation, as well as serving in the military and working with nonprofit organizations. John is also the author of the book, WOW Your Customers: Seven Ways to World-Class Service, the culmination of 18 months of research, which has sold copies worldwide. To talk about his experience and offer practical ways to WOW customers and clients, John is joining us today from his office, just outside of Columbus, Ohio. John, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

John D. Hanson: Thank you very much. I’m looking forward to our conversation today Adrian.

Adrian Tennant: So John, what prompted you to write WOW Your Customers?

John D. Hanson: Might sound a little cheesy, but it was actually a New Year’s resolution of all things. I decided I was going to spend less time at night on a digital screen and read books. And I had just started into a new sales role, the first B2B sales role I’d ever done. I thought, “I know I’ve always had a strength in customer service. How can I translate that strength into sales?” And so I took out as many well-reviewed books as I could find. And as I kept reading through these books, one thing after another, I just realized that a lot of the things that books were talking about were things that I had done. I have been on the frontline roles of customer-facing in all different kinds of industries for a good part of my life. I thought, “What if I could write a book that could help people that are either on the frontlines or managing people who are on the frontlines? What if I could do that?” So I did.

Adrian Tennant: So I mentioned in the introduction that you spend at least 18 months undertaking the research for the book, and it sounds like you did have a particular type of reader in mind when you started the writing process. I’m curious, did that change through the course of the writing?

John D. Hanson: It did actually. Yeah, because as I looked into this more and more, I realized that. Well, every company and every person at every level of an organization should value how the customers are treated. If there’s a disconnect where the person on the front lines are the nice voice and the ones that show compassion, empathy, and then there’s this disconnect when it starts going outside of that, then that’s not consistent. And then as I realized that we have eelationships, not just with external, but there are internal customers as well. And that’s where I realize, you’ve gotta be able to take good care of people, whether they’re opinion, customer or another kind of customer. And that’s where I realized that this applied more universally than just someone in a customer-facing role.

Adrian Tennant: John, in the book, you describe seven practical principles for wowing customers. Let’s talk about a few of them, starting with winning. What does winning mean in the context of customer service?

John D. Hanson: Yeah. So unlike the idea of coming in first or a gold medal, blue ribbon, and that idea of winning, this is more of a winning attitude, focusing on being a positive person. Positive, not at the expense of reality, but positive with being an energy giver, being someone that contributes to the team, someone who focuses on the solutions or is aware of the problem, but also offers solutions. Anyone can identify what’s wrong, but it takes a certain kind of person with a winning attitude that comes in and what can we do about this? When people call in and they’re talking to someone and that person can’t do a thing for them, it’s very frustrating as a customer. And that’s not a winning attitude, that’s just someone that’s punching the clock most likely, or they’ve not been empowered by their company to do what’s best for the customer so they’re stuck with “Well, what do I do? I can’t do what you’d like me to do.” So a winning attitude is something that is extremely important. It’s the thing that we can impact, the thing we can control: our attitude, how we approach our day. And that makes a big difference in the course of the day, as things go on, when we interact with customers in particular.

Adrian Tennant: The second principle I’d like to explore with you is organization. Now I can see here a connection with your military background, but could you explain how organization helps in delivering customer service?

John D. Hanson: Yeah. This was a fascinating part of research Adrian and I’ve always been somewhat analytical and organized my whole life, but I didn’t understand the science behind it until I did some research on it. What’s amazing about it is that, and you may know this, but our human brain is like a supercomputer, but everything that our eyes see, they process. And so from that, I learned that the more brown space, we call it with the desk in front of me here this color, more brown space that we have the less that our brain is slowed down by what our eyes are seeing. The fewer notes we have the fewer reminders that we have around us so the more white space we have, but also part of organization was making decisions. How do you make a decision when you need to be flexible in the course of a day, but as things come up, how do you be flexible and decide this is now more of a priority than the thing I was doing before and be okay with that? I think that’s sometimes a challenge too. We want to get it all done, but some days that’s just not possible and so being able to identify what’s most important to get done today, and those things got done and give yourself a pat on the back because you got done what needed to be done most importantly and you’ve got some other things done as well. Sometimes we’re our toughest critics on that, but organization is not very sexy. It’s not very exciting, but if you apply just some basic organizational principles, especially with how you prioritize where your time goes in a day, that can make a big difference by the end of the day, end of the week with what you’ve gotten done and how you feel about what you’ve done.

Adrian Tennant: John, how did you identify the seven principles in WOW Your Customers? Do they reflect practices that you were already using or was the process of writing the book helpful in crystallizing?

John D. Hanson: I have always liked the number seven. It’s just been a favorite of mine. And I know there’s probably more principles than this, but I thought let’s start with seven. Those were all, when I looked back at the areas that I’ve had success, those were common principles that I had in those roles. So they were always customer-facing roles of some kind or another, but all different kinds of industries. And I just noticed that in my career path, I would move up quickly and it wasn’t just because I was intelligent or hardworking. There’s plenty of people who are that. It was the combination of those things that I looked at those seven aspects and I thought if someone applies just the seven, humor’s a big one. If you aren’t finding a way to counteract the stress in a day, sometimes in the workplace, others, a lot of stress sometimes. If you’re not bringing humor with you into the workforce in a tasteful way, of course, then you’re actually shorting the team a little bit. That good humor, I know it’s an old saying, but to be good-humored didn’t mean that you were the jokester of the class. It meant that you had the steady, reliable, doesn’t matter if the world’s on fire,  this guy’s, this gal’s got it under control. That idea of being good-humored was a very important part of how you were successful, especially in the stressful times. But I would say probably the one that’s a superpower is empathy. I think if you can put yourself in other’s shoes, I think that’s maybe the one that enabled me to succeed the most, whether it was in leadership or got to be given the opportunity to be in leadership. Because it’s just something that I have naturally, since I was a kid. When a movie would be on and someone was going through something very painful or very embarrassing, I’d have to leave as a kid because I couldn’t separate myself from that character. I was feeling their pain, I was feeling their embarrassment, so it was something that was hardwired into me. Or I know with others, empathy is a kind of a learned skill. So I think that was probably, of the seven, that was probably the one that I would have came naturally with. But the others I learned over time.

Adrian Tennant: John, I know you also lead workshops based on the seven principles in the book. You’ve characterized your sessions as being about developing a fresh mindset rather than a whole new method, equipping workshop attendees, rather than educating them. What have you observed about what works and what doesn’t, when it comes to helping people develop customer-facing skills?

John D. Hanson: Oh, that’s a good question. I think sometimes, just like businesses can get wrapped up in the busy-ness of doing business, I think that can also happen, especially in customer-facing rules. It gets to be every day, so taking care of the customer is just my job. Whereas if the fresh mindset that I talk about, if people could understand that the power that they have as a frontline agent where if they transform, especially if someone calls in with an issue or a problem, and they not only take care of that, but that person leaves happy what they’ve done for the company’s future and for anybody that, that person’s going to tell, it’s massive, it’s huge. So they’re not just doing a job. What they’re doing is hopefully they’re underlining the brand of the company. They’re securing a customer where we know they could easily go somewhere else nowadays and tell plenty of people about the bad experience they had. So they’re doing a lot of things more than just taking care of issues, they’re not a firefighter. What they’re really doing is helping to keep that business with customers who are happy to be there and telling others about it as well. Because the time when customer service has proven the most is when things don’t go according to plan, when they don’t go as they should. Horrible companies with horrible service can take care of a transaction that’s smooth from start to finish. Any company can do that. The challenge is not that. The challenge is when things don’t go the way they should. How do we step up? How do we deliver? How do we take care of them? If we do well in that instance, then we’ve proven our value. And so if a frontline agent can understand that it’s more than just, take care of the thing and then on to the next thing, but seeing it as taking the very best care of that customer so that customer stays and then tells others about the good experience they had then that’s more important. Retention is more important than acquisition, meaning that the cost to acquire is five times that of retaining. So the role of a customer service agent done well, someone who’s very good at it, is actually more valuable than a salesperson that’s out there making hay and bringing in new customers because it’s the ones that stick that have more long term value than the always new.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.

Kathie Baptista: I’m Kathie Baptista, designer on Bigeye’s creative team. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as creative and advertising professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. For every engagement, we commit to really understanding our clients’ prospects and customers. Through our own primary research, we learn about customers’ attitudes, behaviors, and motivations, and develop personas that help us visualize them as real people. As a designer, I use these insights to guide my approach to crafting visually engaging solutions – and our clients see insights brought to life in inspiring, imaginative, brand-building campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s audience-focused creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email info@bigeyeagency.com. Bigeye: Reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

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Voices: Female, male, gender fluid, cis-gender, genderqueer, non-binary, trans-feminine.

Adrian Tennant: Society is constantly changing and evolving. To understand how Americans feel about gender identity and expression, Bigeye undertook a national study involving over 2,000 adult consumers. Over half of those aged 18 to 39 believe that traditional binary labels of male and female are outdated and instead see gender as a spectrum. Our exclusive report, GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY, reveals how beliefs across different generations influences the purchase of toys, clothes, and consumer packaged goods. To download the full report, go to Bigeye.agency/gender .

Voices: Nonconforming, transgender, two-spirit, trans-masculine, gender fluid.

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Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with John Hanson, the author of WOW Your Customers: Seven Ways to World-Class Service. John, how did the COVID-19 pandemic impact your ability to conduct workshops? Did you move to online learning or did you pause the workshops?

John D. Hanson: Yeah, I moved to online. I didn’t do as many, but I did do online and still had good response from people because the biggest thing that I try to do is bring about new ideas, new mindsets, or bring a fresh definition to a word that people are familiar with but actually give either a technical definition of where they come from or what’s its origin, how do you apply it. Yeah, I still find that I can interact with an audience if it’s through a camera or in person. And what I, the feedback that I’ve gotten from people is that I’m very animated. And I’m glad to hear that because when I speak I’m that way in person. But I realized that, especially with all the zoom meetings going on, that if people are going to be having a virtual presentation, it really needs to be someone who’s obviously excited about what they’re talking about. So the feedback that I’ve gotten often is that boy, I’d love to hear you speak in person because they were obviously very excited about what you were sharing with us and it came through. That feedback was very encouraging that I was able to still engage with an audience virtually just as I do in person.

Adrian Tennant: You mentioned contact center work. As you know, online retailer Zappos takes a contrarian approach to customer service, considering its contact center, a major point of differentiation from its parent, Amazon. While contact centers are typically focused on reducing the time taken to handle customer service inquiries, Zappos has an award for those people who can stay on the phone the longest with customers – demonstrating that they really value those human conversations. John, are there other organizations that you can think of that are doing things a little differently from their competitors or counter to customer experience industry norms?

John D. Hanson: Yes. I would think of two things. One right off the top of my head is Chick-fil-A. They passed up Wendy’s as the number three chain in the US following Starbucks and McDonald’s. And they’re only open six days a week. That’s not accidental, it’s because they’re doing a lot of things right. At every location, the experience that people have is consistently good and people are treated very well there. The team members earn their way up in opportunity and management. And if you want a chicken sandwich, you can get a chicken sandwich anywhere, but it’s how they deliver that it’s how they’re taking care of their people inside and how they take care of their customers. They’re in an industry that’s notorious for poor service. Fast food is just not known for great service. And so when you get that consistently at every single location, then you know that it’s being done. Well, another idea I have is Ritz-Carlton and now they’re in the hotel industry. They have a standing rule that says up to $2,000 if something needs to be made right. Any team member – does not have to be management – any team member can do up to $2,000, can do what they need to do to make it right for that customer, for that guest. Now they rarely exceeded $500, it was usually to have a bottle of wine or a dinner or something like that, but it was the freedom that was given to every team member that made the difference. And here’s how that impacts things. So the typical occupancy rate for hotels is about 69 percent. Now, Ritz-Carlton usually charges about almost twice as much as the national average for room rates. Their occupancy rate is 76 percent so it’s 7 percent better than the national average and they’re charging almost twice as much for the room. So it is profitable and it does work and the experience that people have when they go to a Ritz-Carlton as a guest, everything is so well thought through that the experience is just unlike anything they’ve had before, and it can be very profitable when done right.

Adrian Tennant: Last year, the customer experience technology firm Servion predicted that by 2025, artificial intelligence will power 95 percent of all customer interaction, including live telephone and online conversations that will leave customers unable to “spot the bot.” John, what are your thoughts about this prediction? Do you think automation and digitization of customer service are inevitable or will humans always be able to “spot the bot”?

John D. Hanson: That’s a good question. Cause I know that when Steve pops up on the bottom right-hand corner of my screen, that it’s not Steve. It’s a chatbot that’s trying to answer, take care of my issue with a simple FAQ list they have already populated. And if my question is that simple, then that’s helpful. If it’s more complex, then that’s where it gets me to a person that’s having a conversation with someone. I think there are advantages to technology so long as companies don’t rely on that to replace the in-person. I guess we could get to the point where technology is so savvy that it’s able to do that too and people might not know the difference, but I think we’re a long ways off from that. And if people have an issue and it’s not simply addressed, then they’re going to want to talk to a real person rather than the phone trees or the whole music forever, or the options that our customers are obviously fatigued with.

Adrian Tennant: John, since the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have been forced to embrace new technologies and operating procedures to meet customer needs. I’m thinking about the rise in order online, pick up in-store, as one example. From a practical perspective, how do you think firms, looking at their customer experience should evaluate the current practices and determine what that optimal balance of real human interactions and automated processes look like for them? What are some of the issues important to consider?

John D. Hanson: Yeah. Convenience is definitely one of those things that once you let it out of the bag, you can’t put the cat back in the bag, so to speak. You can have fast food delivered to your door. You can have your groceries ready and you just pull up and they load them up and off you go. I think it opens up new areas for companies to still find a way to provide a great experience, even if it’s entirely automated, as far as the ordering process goes. So people might not be actually putting a foot in your store, but they’re still interacting with your brand. If the only interaction they’re having is the person that loads the groceries for you in the back of a car, then you’ve got one human touchpoint in that entire process that had better be a great experience. Not where the person is going overboard on things. But if they’re professional, if they’re courteous, if they’re smiling, if they say thank you very much for your business with us, then that one human interaction could make the difference between something that’s just convenient or convenient and enjoyable. So while convenience is something that companies will find how to do more and more because customers are obviously seeing the value in it and demanding it, then still, they need to make sure that the soft skills are still being invested into and still being trained and developed so that when people are using those convenient technology-driven advances, if they’re having any kind of human interaction in that process, that it’s still a top-notch experience. So training and development will still need to focus on those soft skills. I think it’s the soft skills that take the most amount of training. And for some that come more naturally than others, but it needs to be consistent.

Adrian Tennant: How do you think customer experience differs between business-to-consumer, which we’ve been talking about quite a bit, and business-to-business firms in terms of execution? Strategically, do you think the considerations are different?

John D. Hanson: I really don’t. The reason I say that is because I believe that we have four types of customers. We have an external, we have internal, we have what I call the inner circle and then we have the customer type that’s actually most important. And I found this by going to the definition of what’s a customer, where does it come from? And that’s an old English word: accustomed. So when you’re accustomed to interacting with, matter of fact at the time, it didn’t have anything to do with dollars and cents. Well, we added that aspect to it over time so a customer and its origin, it was someone that we regularly interacted with. When I realized that, I thought, well, there’s actually four subsets then of a customer. There’s the ones that are external customers that pay us money. There are internal customers, whether it be vendors, team members, leadership management. Then there’s an inner circle, which would be family and friends and true friends. Family, whether you believe it or not, we bring our family to work with us. So we are emotional human beings. We are not able to simply separate neatly when we walk in the door at work, so that’s another customer. So we regularly interact with, and they definitely need our best and these go up in priority so why you would never tell a paying customer they’re not the most important. They’re not the most important when it comes to being able to take the very best care of them. You’ve got to take the very best care of your internal people. Richard Branson said to “Take the very best care of your people so they’ll take the very best care of their customers.” It’s just more of a common-sense type thing really than anything else. And then you take care of your inner circle because those relationships directly impact at work. But the most important customer is ourselves. We’re the ones that we interact with the most. And if we don’t take care of ourselves, then there’s no way that we’ll be able to take care of the other three. So I don’t think that it makes a difference whether you’re a B2C or a B2B, because it’s all about people. So you have to invest in those relationships in a way to make sure that they’re getting their best from you.

Adrian Tennant: I really like the way that in the concluding pages of your book, you suggest ways in which the reader can internalize the seven principles. Since the book was published in 2018, what kind of feedback have you received?

John D. Hanson: I’m grateful to say I’ve sold one on every continent. Well, except for Antarctica, I haven’t sold one there. I don’t expect to either. But the feedback’s been encouraging from people. They loved it, the practical ideas, I made sure they understood that it was a menu of options. These have all worked well for me, but I recommend starting with one or two ideas first and see how they work for people. And people liked that it was easy to read, easily adjusted. I didn’t want to make a big, massive, hundreds of pages of a book that wouldn’t be enjoyable to read. So I wanted to make it something that was practical, full of great ideas that people could use right away. As soon as they read it, they can apply it in either all low or no cost to implement. And the feedback’s been encouraging that people have benefited from that. 

Adrian Tennant: I understand you’re also hosting a new online radio show. Tell us more.

John D. Hanson: Yeah. So it’s called The Heroic Experience: Elevating Business to Heroic Success. Why are we drawn to heroism? From millennia: why has it pulled up? Why is it that element of heroism always does well at the box office and in sports and other arenas? Why is heroism a fundamentally human attribute? Why do we pursue that? So I looked it up and heroine was essentially the pursuit of two ideas, a higher purpose and nobility or excellence. Well, when I saw that, then I realized that okay so it’s not a Hollywood pipe dream or something that only certain massive companies can afford too. Companies of any size can be heroic by how they go about doing business, by the stories of their customers, the stories of their team members, the stories of why they started what they did. No company got into business, no business owners, like, you know what? I think I’m going to start something and it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be, I believe they had something so good that they wanted to create a business where they could provide it to others and they want it to benefit their community and they wanted to benefit team members that would work with them in the future too. And I thought it’s just that they get busy along the way. And sometimes the business ends up running them. And I thought if there could be a show that helps as guests talk about how they have this heroic approach to how they do business, then it becomes something that becomes a magnet that attracts and keeps the team members and the clients that company wants. And it gives some ideas about how to do that as well as some stories and some examples of how they had a heroic impact in others’ lives. Yeah. I’m excited about that. I was planning to have a podcast next year. And then I was approached with the idea to have one this year and it’s fully produced. So that was something that was a huge benefit to me. So yeah, in September is when that’s going to be launching.

Adrian Tennant: It sounds exciting. John, if IN CLEAR FOCUS, listeners would like to learn more about you, your book, WOW Your Customers: Seven Ways to World-Class Service or your new radio show, The Heroic Experience: Elevating Business to Heroic Success, where can they find you?

John D. Hanson: I’m easily found, Adrian. The book is on Amazon. I worked very hard and very diligently at growing my social media family, so I have over 30,000 social media connections. LinkedIn is a great place for people to follow, so that would be a great place to connect and engage there because I love to add value. My life purpose is to encourage others – and whether that’s a business or that’s an individual – I believe that by adding value to others in a way that has tangible ideas to it, then that’s one way that I can use the social media platform to do that. I would recommend following me and connecting with me on LinkedIn. By far, that’d be a great place to start. 

Adrian Tennant: John, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

John D. Hanson: I love the questions that you had. They’re very thought-provoking and thanks again, I really appreciate it.

Adrian Tennant: Coming up next time on IN CLEAR FOCUS:

Ksenia Newton: Everyone is just going online, right? They don’t need to go to the store and if they do go to the store, they just do some window shop and then they go online, they find a better deal. So COVID definitely had a hand in that, for sure. And then it accelerated, big time!

Adrian Tennant: That’s an interview with Ksenia Newton of Brandwatch, next week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. Thanks to my guest this week, John Hanson, the author of WOW Your Customers: Seven Ways to World-Class Service. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeyeagency.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Categories
Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Content Marketing Persona Building Podcast

This week’s guest is a content strategist who believes traditional Buyer Personas often fail to deliver the results marketers expect. Adrienne Barnes shares her process for creating the “Best Buyer Personas” and explains how her research pointed to improvements that eliminate many subconscious biases that traditional Persona development practices introduce. Adrienne also discusses some of the practical ways in which Personas can help align the work of sales and marketing teams.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Adrienne Barnes: Who are the buyers, what is the job they’re trying to accomplish? And what is the information that we need to know internally, that’s going to help us reach these people? So a buyer persona to me is all of the information relevant to reaching your best buyer.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye, a full-service, audience-focused creative agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, serving clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. As we’ve discussed previously on this podcast, in today’s economy, many people’s purchasing behaviors have been permanently changed as new habits formed during the pandemic. That’s true for both consumers and businesses so now is an ideal time for companies and brands to review their existing buyer Personas or to think about creating entirely new ones. Our guest today believes that buyer Personas not only help organizations understand customers and prospects better, but also make it easier to tailor content, messaging, product development, and services to meet the specific needs, behaviors and concerns of different target audiences. Adrienne Barnes is a content strategist, helping SaaS and tech companies learn more about who their audiences are. Her insights become buyer Personas that inform user experience design and unique content pieces. Adrienne’s approach to customer-centric marketing is all about creating content that nurtures and serves a client’s customers best. To talk with us about crafting the best buyer Personas, Adrienne is joining us today from her home office in Dallas, Texas. Adrienne, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Adrienne Barnes: Thank you, Adrian. Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Adrian Tennant: Adrienne, you started your career in content marketing. How did you first encounter Buyer Personas?

Adrienne Barnes: I was a freelance writer writing for B2B SaaS companies and having a degree in English, in my former career I was an English teacher. The first thing you know to do or ask when you start a piece is who’s the audience? Who am I writing to? what is my tone? What kind of message am I trying to get across? And some of my clients couldn’t tell me in detail or with any kind of detail that mattered to help me formulate the piece. It was “This is the job title. Here’s some demographic information.” Or they’d hand me the slide deck with 38 slides full of information, but none that actually would really help create some content marketing. None of it was actionable. It was very challenging to say, “Okay, now I know this, here’s what we can do with it”. so there were quite a few that didn’t understand that. And then, on the other hand, I had a few who had some really great Personas, so who they really knew, and they had a different way of segmenting and they were very actionable. So seeing the stark differences between the kind of content we could create when you clearly knew your audience and their pain points and the kind of content you could create when you had very vague ideas, really led me to believe that this is something that there’s a need and there’s a better way of going about it. So that’s how I got into creating Buyer Personas

Adrian Tennant: And what’s your definition of a Buyer Persona?

Adrienne Barnes: See, and this is where I get some maybe some misunderstanding. I don’t want to say flack, but some people who are old school, standard marketers, maybe they’re teaching marketing to people. They don’t necessarily love my approach to Buyer Personas. So my approach is where really, it’s not just this demographic, topical information of here’s their job title, here’s their name. It really does go into who are the buyers, what is the job they’re trying to accomplish? And what is the information that we need to know internally, that’s going to help us reach these people? So the definition of a Buyer Persona to me is all of the information relevant to reaching your best buyer. So sometimes that’s not necessarily all of your buyers. It’s not a large segment of people we really want to identify who the best buyers are and then make sure that we’re creating the step that’s going to reach those people. 

Adrian Tennant:  Before we look at how we construct Buyer Personas, I’m curious, Adrienne, what are the origins of Personas?

Adrienne Barnes: So I actually reached out to the person who says that they coined the term, Tony Zambito. He’s mostly on LinkedIn. He said he was the one in the beginning, in the eighties I believe, who was working with software companies and was like, “We need to figure out a better way to understand who our buyers are, understand who our audience is.” So still coming up with the challenge of trying to reach buyers and users, because when you’re in B2B SaaS or software, often the person who uses your product may not be the person who purchases their product. So there’s a little complexity there. and also understanding that we need to be able to know these people outside of just marketing, but even like product development, what kind of products do we need to build in the future? What kind of features do we need to build? So he really started this process, to understand and answer those questions for software companies. And his approach was also interviewing customers. And then now we’ve got so many more advancements with social listening and digital intelligence analysis and digital, tools that, it’s beyond even just a customer interview. It’s grown and evolved from there.

Adrian Tennant: Adrienne, you work primarily with clients in the business-to-business space. What does your typical process for creating Personas look like?

Adrienne Barnes: When I’m working with clients, I always want to start with what questions and goals are already internally inside the company. So I sit down with key stakeholders and really want to get an idea, like “What questions do you have about your customers or your users? What assumptions are you making?” Oftentimes CEOs, CMOs, CTOs, they know – “We think this, we’re making these assumptions.” So I want to make sure that I know clearly what are the assumptions that are being made? What challenges do we currently have? Where are there hitches or slowdowns in the sales process, or how do people buy even? Is it through a sales process or is it a demo? Really wanting to identify the internal questions. And then that is what I then go out and create the interviews. That’s how I then say, “Okay. So we don’t know the answers to these questions. This is what we still need to learn about our buyers. This is the stuff that will help us be successful.” So they’ll have goals. What do we need to know in order to reach those goals? And then I do interviews with buyers and users – about twenty – to make sure that I have a really good understanding of, their job to be done. Those pain points, their challenges, the words that they use to describe the product. I call those relational keywords rather than SEO keywords. These are the words that your customers or buyers are using to really portray the relationship they have with your product. So what are those words? The language that they’re using. And then I also do what I call a four-pronged approach to research. So we’ve got our customer interviews. We have surveys that we then go off and survey a broader audience. I do social listening where I plug in the key terms that I learned from the interviews and from this survey. And now I’m looking up and hearing what the people are saying, not just in our tiny community, in our tiny group of our buyers, but over the internet, like on Twitter, what are people saying when they talk about these terms? And then I use digital intelligence tools like SparkToro, and Audiense to help me really identify clearly who are some smaller segments within our larger buyer segment. Where are they online? What kind of podcasts do they listen to? What kind of publications do they read? And only that four-pronged approach to research becomes how I create the Personas. And once we get all of that data – and it’s usually a six-week process – once I get all of that information, I’m able to plug it into a full slide deck that really says, this is who your buyers are. These are their relationships. These are their responsibilities, here’s their hierarchy at work or the roles that they play into. This is how they are measured or how they deem being successful at work. Sometimes that’s really important and then really one of the ways that I filter through the entire buyer persona is the job to be done. What are they trying to accomplish? And then once they’ve achieved that, what are the benefits that they, get to see or receive after having met that job to be done.

Adrian Tennant: You’ve mentioned jobs to be done. Would you just like to give us a little bit of background on that?

Adrienne Barnes: Yeah. So I was doing the research for how to create a really solid Buyer Persona, which led me into research, like reading about how to do interviews, how to research, that filtered into the design world and implementation. And, as soon as I got into design and qualitative research analysis, Jobs to be Done popped up. And it was like, “Oh, this is what I think makes a stronger segmentation.” It’s a stronger Buyer Persona outside of a job title or age or something like that. This really does get to the core of what – especially with B2B, SaaS – what is someone trying to do? What do they need your product to do for them? What’s the thing they’re hiring your product to do? So sometimes you’ll hear people say, you know, they are jobs to be done-focused and it sounds contradictory to what maybe someone else’s saying that they do when they do jobs to be done. That’s because there are five pretty solidly different approaches to jobs to be done. I like to use the Clayton Christianson model where I’m really just trying to narrow down what is the thing they’re trying to accomplish and then identify the benefits they receive once they’ve achieved that thing. And when you identify benefits, that get used in your content strategies, your marketing strategies, knowing exactly the things that you are helping people do and then why they enjoy it. What kind of like the benefits they’re receiving from it, it’s really easy to correlate a lot of marketing and product development from that information as well.

Adrian Tennant: Adrienne, you recently conducted a webinar in partnership with Audiense, an online consumer insight and segmentation tool. You started your webinar by saying that most business-to-business Personas suck. Why do you think most buyer Personas suck?

Adrienne Barnes: So that’s become my like red flag, my warning flag is just “Buyer Personas suck!” And that’s because most of them do. We did a survey with Audiense where we polled marketers and we said, “Hey, do you guys create Buyer Personas?” And I think the results were like 85 percent said yes, absolutely, we create buyer Personas, they are important.” I was like, “Great!” The next question was “Now, how often do you refer back to your Buyer Persona or how often do you use it?” And most, 77 percent, said “Never. Like we don’t even look at it once a year. We don’t look at it for new marketing campaigns. We don’t look at it when we’re creating new products!” It just wasn’t something that people were using, but yet it’s something people were doing. So that led me to believe, “Okay, this is really become check the box marketing practice.” I had my assumptions because I’ve been on teams as a consultant where the message comes down from the CEO or the CMO that says, “Hey, you know, on our yearly to-do list, that buyer persona needs to get done. Can you go execute on that?” And somebody sits in a conference room or now at their desk and cranks one out in a day. Maybe it’s based off of some formal information, but often it’s just kind of assumptions and an internal fictional story. It’s an echo chamber of internal fiction that you have created. And that actually isn’t helpful. Nobody’s going to use that. It doesn’t help anyone create anything. So rather than tiptoe around the issue and try to convince people that Buyer Personas actually were good at all of that, I’m really saying, “You know what? They do suck. But they don’t have to. So let’s talk about how to do them better.” So that way we can actually get out of the mindset of that “Mary Marketer” is a Buyer Persona and know what a Buyer Persona is a data-backed, helpful, useful document and process that’s never done, that’s continuously being added onto. So that’s really why I was like, “You know what? Yeah, I’m just going to embrace it. People think buyer Personas suck. They do, but they don’t have to. So let’s teach them how to do it better.”

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after this message.

Seth Segura: I’m Seth Segura, VP and Creative Director at Bigeye. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as creative professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. For every engagement, we commit to really understanding our clients’ prospects and customers. Through our own primary research, we capture valuable data about people’s attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. These insights inform our strategy and guide our creative briefs. Clients see them brought to life in inspiring, imaginative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s audience-focused creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email info@bigeyeagency.com. Bigeye. Reaching the Right People, in the Right Place, at the Right Time.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Adrienne Barnes, a content strategist, and creator of the Best Buyer Personas. Contrary to most traditional practitioners, you don’t believe that in order to be effective, Personas need a name, a face, or even a biography. So why not?

Adrienne Barnes: Yeah. So I was actually working on a team last year and we were putting together Buyer Personas and the marketing director. I said, “Hey, aren’t you gonna put this Mary Marketer, give them a name and a cute gender and go find a funny picture?” And he said, “No, I find that actually induces some bias.” And I found that really interesting. So I went on a little research hunt and wanted to validate that. Is that true? If you include a name, a face, a gender, and maybe even your cute alliterative name, does that create bias in marketing and product development? And come to find out, I talked to a lot of diversity and inclusion experts because I am not a diversity inclusion expert. I don’t even want to be put in that realm because these people are very passionate and knowledgeable. So I called them up – a whole bunch of different ones – and I said, “Hey, is it possible that if we name our Persona Mary Marketer and give her a picture of a 32-year-old shining, cute, little like white girl, is that potential for bias? And the answer was a hundred percent unanimously. Absolutely. So in our minds and there are five different types and I’ll see if I can remember them all. There’s beauty bias: so if we are showing these pictures we find an Unsplash photo, chances are we find that person attractive. We chose them to represent this Persona. We’re attracted to that picture in some way, for some reason, we find that attractive. Now, if we find customers maybe in customer support or out in the wild or whatever your situation may be, that don’t meet the picture, the image you have in your mind of who your attractive Persona is, you are actually going to show bias towards that person. And it’s unconscious, that’s another type of bias. You don’t even realize you’re doing it when you’re doing it. The unconscious bias was one that they mentioned quite frequently because it’s not something that you can train yourself out of. We all have our own histories. We all have our own personal stories and our own experiences and that shapes and forms our viewpoint on life, our perspectives. And they said, you know, “Another thing that you’re not going to be able to eliminate all bias in anything you do. And sometimes bias is actually healthy. But the thing that you should do is work towards eliminating it, where it could be harmful to groups of people.” So when I say, you know, there’s no reason to have a name, a gender, or, a picture with your Buyer Persona, it’s because what you’re trying to do is you’re taking a large group of people who are very diverse and who look very different, who have very different genders, and you’re saying it’s really this one person. They all can be represented by this one person. They actually can’t. They do have things in common and that’s what we should really be trying to find. What are the actual things they have in common? What are the actual issues and pain points and solutions they’re looking for in common? But not because they look like someone or they’re all a certain age. I use an example of if your buyer persona is a CEO and if you Google “CEO persona” and look at the images, most of them are older, white men, like just hands down they are. And that may be statistically accurate, right? Like I don’t know the statistics, but it could be 78 percent of older white men are CEOs, but still as a marketer, our job is to make businesses money. We are to market to our segments of people, where’s to find our audiences. And if we are establishing a situation where we’re saying, “This is the ideal, they look like this”, then we’re automatically eliminating large portions of our audiences. We’re automatically assuming every piece of content we create, every message we send out, every product we develop, is already eliminating somebody, another segment of our audience. Whether it’s even 12 percent of our audience or even bigger, just setting off from the get-go you’ve created a foundation of bias where you’re eliminating audiences. I’ve had people tell me, “I don’t believe in that woke stuff. I think you should have gender and all that stuff.” And I’m like, “Look, I’m not making a political statement. This is not me standing in front of people trying to say like, ‘oh, this is, you know it’s 2021.’ And this is just the way things should be because of some wokeness or political statement, it’s about reaching people in the best way possible. It’s about making sure that we’re not leaving out pockets of money, pockets of potential buyers, just because we’ve deemed that this Persona to be a person so that we can remember them.” I think that’s a false notion that we’re not going to be able to create content or develop products in a way that’s beneficial if they don’t look like a person to us. And I think that’s a lot of the arguments that I hear is that, “Well, if we don’t give them these names and these pictures, we won’t remember them. We won’t think of them. And we won’t do a good job of creating, content and information or products for them.” And I think that’s not true. I think we will absolutely do a better job if we segment them in a different way, in a stronger way. We’ll actually reach them with more empathy and in a much better way than just, “Oh yeah, that’s Mary Marketer.”

Adrian Tennant: So what’s a better way of segmenting customers?

Adrienne Barnes: So that really can depend on the company themselves. We’ve segmented customers according to jobs to be done. That’s one of the very basic ways that I can do it is where I can say, “Okay, really? What are the people trying to accomplish? Let’s group those people together. If there are users and then their buyers and that’s different. Let’s group them in that way.” Other companies I’ve worked with, they said, “No, it really does do us better if we segment according to user maturity, the maturity of the user within the company is so different and creates a need so many different, their own type of marketing streams, essentially. So we need to separate them up according to their maturity.” Other ones have said, “You know what? It really is according to the size of the company they’re in. And that really equates what kind of products of ours they buy and what kind of content they need to read.” It really is all about how do you segment your people in a way that you’re going to actually be able to create things: content, products’ features, support, that is going to be most helpful to them in a way that where they can understand, “Oh, you know what, they’re really meeting my needs. They’re really here. And they really do understand.” And that really does vary from company to company. So I always say, “Inside your own company, see what kind of groupings do you notice naturally form between your buyers, your users, community members.” And that’s always a really great way to say, you know what? That’s probably the best way to segment. I think people get stuck on having to segment by job title, because LinkedIn ads or Facebook ads, but that’s only beneficial for those ad segments. It’s not actually beneficial when you’re trying to get outside of a PPC campaign and really wanting to create an empathetic company that can market and support customers in a different way.

Adrian Tennant: As we discussed earlier, your webinar was part of a series hosted by Audiense. Adrienne, can you explain how you use Audiense’s tool to build better Personas?

Adrienne Barnes: So I love Audiense. Their team has been great. I started with them at the beginning of this year as their content strategist, and I was just on their team, helping them create content strategy. And then really every time I do a Buyer Persona, I use their tool. So they have quite a few different ways you can come in and use it, either keywords, bio keywords, you can actually add in social listening audiences and then really add that into Audiense, the tool, and figure out what our specific audience is talking about. What kind of things they’re looking for. But what I love it for most is its segments and its IBM Watson information. So I will go out and find out like, what are the words are people are using either through those conversations and surveys and social listening. Then I plug that into Audiense and Audiense tells me, “Okay, here are smaller segments of your audience that you didn’t realize existed.” And usually, it’s pretty surprising or it’s “Oh yeah, I forgot – now we can clearly see that within our one larger audience, there are like four smaller segments.” So now we can figure out where do we reach them on podcasts? What kind of PR campaigns need to be done? What kind of media needs to be done? Where do they go to learn something new? Where do they read their news from all that kind of information is. As well as the demographic information, which when I say you don’t want to segment your audience based on the demographic information, that’s absolutely true, but I don’t think that it’s just not important. Like you can include it in your Personas. It’s still important to know if 85 percent of your audience is male, then let’s know that, but we don’t have to make the Buyer Personas identity male if that makes sense. So we really want to make sure that Audiense’s tool tells me all of that stuff, the smaller segments, it gives the IBM Watson data, which is like, what are their personality traits? Are they more risk-averse? Are they conservative? Are they liberal? Do they have a positive affinity or is it more a negative tone online? It’s very interesting to get in and go through that kind of data and then make some connections and be able to, then market to your audience in a way that’s more meaningful and empathetic

Adrian Tennant: What are the main differences that exist between your approach to developing Personas for business-to-consumer versus business-to-business brands?

Adrienne Barnes: So it’s almost the same. The framework itself is very solid. The thing that changes is probably the internal goals are usually very different. Sometimes scalability,  growth, is usually always a goal. And then the questions that I ask during the interviews and the way that I reach out during the surveys is what’s really different. But the framework itself, all four approaches to data research or to market research are the same. We make sure we want to listen to the audience, figure out who they are, what are the words they’re using, the challenges, their pain points. That all has remained the same even if it’s B2C or B2B. I will find B2C people sometimes are easier to get on the phone, which I think people might think as a surprise. They really are, especially if they love the product, they have a tendency to wanna get on and share. B2B – they’re at work. They tend to be busy. It’s easier to cancel an interview with somebody than it is to cancel a meeting at work. So that’s been one of the stark differences in B2B to B2C, but the process itself is exactly the same for me. 

Adrian Tennant: Now you believe that Personas make for more empathetic marketing and customer support. How does adopting your approach help sales teams?

Adrienne Barnes:  So I believe that well-researched Personas do create better empathy and because we have a tendency to know more about the customers and the user themselves, we’re not trying to stereotype a large group of people into one. And so for sales, it’s almost the exact same way you’re able to then say, “You know what? I heard you say these things, I know that this is some stuff you’re probably struggling with. Customers like you have come and said this to me, are you finding those problems? Are you struggling with those challenges?” And every good salesperson knows it’s all about uncovering the other person’s challenges, uncovering their story so that you can then swoop in and meet that need. So once you know those very clearly, that job that they’re trying to accomplish, that main challenge they need, and the benefits that most of your Personas receive from them. As a salesperson, you figure out through your conversations, you uncover that, and then you automatically have your list of benefits. “Okay, you said this, wouldn’t it be great if you had this benefit. If it was actually like this…” You’re able to put them in that future mindset of “Look at how great things could be, much easier.” And I find when you’re able to actually meet people’s real problems and not just make a lot of assumptions about what they’re likely dealing with, it’s just a much more empathetic way to reach your audience, to reach your people. And especially for sales, when they’re doing those one-on-one sales.

Adrian Tennant: You talked about this a little bit at the beginning of our conversation, but I’d like to dive a little bit deeper. Adrienne, in what kinds of ways can Better Buyer Personas help content marketers?

Adrienne Barnes: So because a lot of this derived from my need to create better content marketing, every conversation becomes an idea for content. Usually, after one conversation, I’ve got three or four blog posts. Every time a client says, “I didn’t know how to do this” that becomes “How To/How We” content, right? We need to teach our users if they’re struggling and understanding how to use the tool in this way, then that becomes content we need to teach them. That’s some educational content. If they, during the conversation, say, “This was just amazing, we loved this thing”, that’s a case study. That’s your insights, that’s being able to explore and highlight those on your home pages or in your product pages. Any kind of wins that you uncover and they have really every conversation and every question for me does become a link to a piece of content, especially when I’m doing this type of research for the content strategies, much of my research process is very similar. So when I’m doing a Buyer Persona, the questions are a little different than they are for content strategies, but it’s very similar. And then every time I ask a question, when I’m researching for content strategies, I want to know, “What kind of things are you dealing with? What kind of struggles do you have?” and that goes directly correlated to your content strategies. It’s crazy, once you start to think about it that way, how clearly the connections can be made.

Adrian Tennant: And how frequently do you think marketers and sales teams should review their Personas?

Adrienne Barnes: I think anytime you’re about to launch a new product or create a new campaign or at the very least once a year just to look at it and be like, “Okay, is this still true? You know, if you created a Persona in 2019, it didn’t fit in 2020. And now even in 2021, there’s been so many changes and just the market and just the way people are purchasing and buying and feeling, in the words they’re using, and the language, and their pain points, those are changing and those are adapting very quickly. So I would make sure that it’s at least something that you are having those conversations and if you have them frequently, or if you do what I call continuous development. If you’re actually able to have those kinds of conversations, you’ll see the shifts in the market before you see them economically, you’ll be able to tell, “Oh, we’ve heard quite a few people say this. I think something like this is happening.” Or “I think our audience is starting to ship in this way” before three months down the line, when you’re looking at your sales data or you’re looking at your blog post data and things are telling you then, you get to predict it before it happens.

Adrian Tennant: Adrienne, if IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners would like to learn more about you and Better Buyer Personas, where can they find you?

Adrienne Barnes: I’m at BestBuyerPersona.com and I am @AdrienneNakohl on Twitter. So I hang out on Twitter quite a bit. And then if you’re interested, I do Buyer Persona workshops where maybe if you have a team but y’all just need a little bit of help, a little bit of guidance, I do that. I do full Buyer Persona projects where you say, “We don’t want to do any of it, we just want you to give us all the details.” I do that as well, and I do quick consultations where you’re like, “We really just have four questions.” I do one-hour consultations as well. So there are lots of different ways for us to engage and I’m always happy to chat and answer any questions I can. This is definitely a passion project of mine. It’s what I love to do. It means a lot to me so I’m happy to help.

Adrian Tennant: Adrienne, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Adrienne Barnes: Thank you, Adrian. It was so nice to be here.

Adrian Tennant: Coming up next time on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Doug Stephens: Mall owners have to realize that you’re not in the commercial real estate business anymore. You’re in the hospitality and entertainment business. And your job in that center is to create a flywheel of amazing new brands, experiences, services so it’s a totally different kind of activity.

Adrian Tennant: That’s an interview with retail futurist Doug Stephens, next week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. Thanks to my guest this week, content strategist, Adrienne Barnes.You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at bigeyeagency.com under insights, just select podcast. And if you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, Amazon music, or audible, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant until next week. Goodbye.

Categories
Branding Consumer Insights Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Insights Messaging

Why Would a D2C Agency Suggest Building a Brand Community?

The idea of building an internet community around a company might have first gained traction with software and technology developers. Tech companies often establish user communities to provide information and assistance to users and prospects. Company employees might have provided some of this support, but over time, other members started to contribute too. DTC marketing agencies can a learn a thing or two from them.

Perhaps DTC marketing companies took a lesson from successful tech businesses. Today, communities support businesses that range from fashion, health, and beauty to automotive, entertainment, and travel. The communities help brands develop stronger connections, gather feedback, and analyze a goldmine of consumer information.

Where to Start a DTC Brand Community?

The best place to start a community may depend upon customer demographics, the location of competitors’ communities, or business goals. Consider some pros and cons of common options for community building:

Social Media Sites

Social media sites offer an easy solution. Customers probably already use these platforms and nobody needs to install and maintain extra software. Also, a social platform should make it easier to reach out and engage new members. Depending upon the typical customer base, popular suggestions for social networking sites include Facebook, Slack, LinkedIn, and Reddit.

Forums on Business Sites

Installing forum software on a business site should not require a lot of effort or a large investment. Downsides may include needing to keep the forum app updated and secure.

On the other hand, with this approach: 

  • A self-hosted forum allows businesses to maintain a lot more control over the way the community works, how it’s moderated, and who can see specific content.
  • Also, community members will navigate to the business site, so they should remember the domain and the brand.
  • The addition of user-generated content may help improve the website’s SEO and search rankings.
  • Best of all, the community and the company won’t need to compete for attention with social media ads from other businesses.
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Online Community Software Platforms

An experienced DTC marketing agency might say that a community platform could offer a compromise between social sites and self-hosted communities.  For instance:

  • Some of these platforms charge fees. In exchange, the provider should take responsibility for maintenance, upgrades, backups and security.
  • Unlike social networking sites, businesses can choose plans that do not show ads from other organizations. The best community platforms also make social sharing easy for members.
  • Also, these platforms offer lots of user-friendly tools that can help make the group more effective and engaging. Some examples include support for discussions, Q&A pages, and more.

According to blogging consultant Adam Enfroy, the user-generated content in a community can help optimize these platforms for search. That’s not as beneficial as optimizing the business site. Still, both search engines and group members should find navigating to the business site relatively easy.

Some popular examples of these community platforms include Tribe and Mighty Networks.

How to Grow Communities for DTC Marketing

Some communities take off on their own because of the value they provide users. No matter how much value most businesses can offer, they still need to invest some effort to invite group members to join and participate. Customers and prospects need to know the platform exists, where to find it, and most of all, how they might benefit.

As an example, Apple, Google, and plenty of other tech companies grew their group membership by offering a convenient way to obtain first-line support. Company representatives and other users could provide answers and solutions. At first, people might have visited because they needed specific assistance or information. Very often, these members would return to contribute their own feedback and knowledge.

Some suggestions to spread the word about a new business community include:

  • Sending invites after a purchase or delivery
  • Promoting the community on social pages or ads
  • Encouraging membership and participation with discounts or loyalty reward points

It helps to add some engaging content to the community before sending invitations. Some good examples might include FAQ pages, surveys, and posts to answer common questions, share good news about the brand, and solicit feedback.

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Examples of successful D2C marketing groups

A brief look at some successful examples of online brand communities should offer inspiration to help choose platforms, topics, and even specific content for other businesses.

Hims

This health and wellness company sells wellness products and provides a telehealth platform. As part of this initiative, Hims offers free, anonymous support groups that focus on a number of topics that relate to the company’s products and services. Examples of group topics include insomnia, mental health, meditation and mindfulness, and relationships.

Luma & Leaf Clean Skin Crew

Luma & Leaf sells natural skincare products. They chose to host a community for Luma & Leaf as a private group on Facebook. According to the company’s website, they strive to use this group as a safe space for people to connect, express themselves, and find opportunities for kindness.

Ceremonia

Ceremonia focuses on clean hair products with ingredients sourced from Latin America. According to the Ceremonia About Us page, the company invites customers to participate in a community that supports younger generations and promotes collaboration through forums, content projects, and feedback sessions.

Waeve

Waeve offers a variety of attractive, affordable wigs, with a focus upon Black women. They launched the WaeveWorld.com community even before the eCommerce site at Waeve.com. This gave the startup a way to introduce their brand. This community features stories from customers all over the world, quizzes, tips, and most of all, invitations to reach out to the company and subscribe to the newsletter.

Is It Time to Start an Online Brand Community?

Brand communities can enhance brand recognition, establish connections, offer insights, and provide value to customers and prospects. For just a few examples, businesses use groups for everything from providing advice about using a product to soliciting feedback about a new CPG packaging design. With a little effort, a business community can provide excellent returns on a modest investment.

Categories
Branding Creative & Production Insights

This article is part of #TheBigeyeLens series exploring the future of consumer behavior, purchasing decisions, and marketing trends. We’ll be talking about the enduring appeal of Retro Futurism in design.

Call it Retro Futurism, Mid-Century Modern, or California Modern. Picture the clean lines, bold colors, and mixed materials in the buildings and furnishings of an Eishler house or even The Jetson’s home in the fictional Skypad Apartments. See how Walt Disney imagined the future with Tomorrowland, a park opened in 1955.

Basically, Retro Futurism refers to the way prominent artists of the 1930s to 1960s imagined design choices their descendents would make in a generation or two. Their imaginations inspired real-world innovation. Perhaps even more than that, it evoked anticipation that helped people feel more hopeful about the future.

Everything Old is New Again: The Enduring Appeal of Retro Futurism

Surprisingly, a cartoon from the 1960s may provide one of the most well-remembered examples of retro futurism. We may not have flying cars or Rosie the Robot, as The Jetsons promised a generation of hopeful children back then.

Still, these futuristic design trends endured and even started to increase in popularity again in the last few years. For a fun example, look at George Jetson’s favorite seat and video screen from this 60-year-old cartoon. Today, with a wall-mounted TV and a popular style of chair, anybody can recreate this look in their own living room today.

Just Google “George Jetson’s chair” to find plenty of new, real-world examples that replicate this classic seat. With the right apps on a wall-mounted, smart TV, people can even chat with their impatient boss from the chair, like George reluctantly did in several TV episodes. Surprisingly, the creators of The Jetsons even predicted that everything about always-on connectivity in today’s future world isn’t entirely positive.

Did The Jetsons imagine the future or simply inspire it?

Maybe, like the popular song from the 1970s says, “Everything Old is New Again.”

Fave listening chair? - Accessories and Tweaks - PS Audio

How to Define Retro Futurism in Design

These main characteristics distinguish Retro Futuristic design:

  • Form follows function: Despite all the conversation about aesthetics, functionality matters. The product’s unique form or design solves a problem. Obviously, George Jetson found his chair comfortable.
  • Designs appear pleasing: People might describe the designs as minimalist, uncluttered, and sleek, with organic or geometric shapes. They appear unique but pleasantly easy on the eyes.
  • Objects push material boundaries: Designs often feature less traditional materials or typical materials used in unusual ways. Products tend to explore new uses of wood, plastic, glass, and metal.
  • Colors contrast and complement in bold ways: Products often use a bold blend or contrast of materials and colors. Stark black and white, neon, or bright pastels tend to feature heavily in retro futuristic design.

According to The Spruce, nostalgia explains some of the enduring popularity of this kind of design. Even more, lots of people appear to enjoy clean lines, gentle curves, a bold mixture of materials and colors, and the emphasis on minimalism and functionality. Most of all, they help people imagine alternative futures or ones that have just not happened yet. With that, they promise solutions to today’s tough problems.

What Does Retro Futurism Have to do with Consumer Marketing and Advertising?

For consumer marketing, effective advertising positions products as solutions to a problem. Common themes that run through retro futuristism involve discomfort with the present. In its original form, retro futurism offered a bold step towards solutions from the future to resolve this dissatisfaction.

As an example, notice the “suddenly, it’s 1960” advertisement for a 1957 Plymouth on the right. They positioned their cars as advanced when compared to their competitors’ products. Even decades later, people might still anticipate future solutions when viewing retro futurism from the past. After all, AI-powered, robot vacuums work pretty well, but they’re not Rosie the Robot.

Besides visions of a hopeful future, these design trends may also evoke nostalgia, even if they don’t necessarily offer any sort of advanced solution. As an example, look at the cute, new, and very popular microwave from Galanz that reminds people of the style of an old TV. Competitors offer plenty of larger and more powerful microwaves, but they’re not as cute.

Thus, advertisers can use retro futurism in their advertising to plant the idea that their solutions come from the sophisticated tech of the future or even from a simpler past. Either way, the vision inspires hope that the solution will solve a problem.

Retro Futurism from 1957

Leverage Retro Futurism for Consumer Marketing in 2021 and Beyond

Marketers always face challenges when marketing consumer packaged goods. At first glance, one brand of ketchup or coffee may look pretty similar to the next one to an average consumer.

Packaging Strategies mentioned leveraging retro futuristic designs as one of their top advertising trends predicted for this market in 2021. When it comes to CPG marketing, they agreed that retro-inspired design touches can help create an emotional attachment by evoking both feelings of nostalgia and anticipation. They expect lots of neon colors, bold patterns, and other design touches that generate that unique blend of retro and futurism that is retro futurism.

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Give Even Serious Topics a Fun Side

Perhaps most of all, enjoy the process of developing creative designs. Have fun with it. That way, customers and other stakeholders can enjoy it too. For inspiration, look at this lively poster from such a serious organization as Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Nobody believes JPL offers tours of Mars…at least, not yet.

At the same time, JPL says they reference historic sites as a nod to such important missions as Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Pathfinder, Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter, and Mars Science Laboratory. While the promised tours are fiction today, JPL very seriously anticipates their future reality and hopes the poster helps other people look forward to it too.

Use retro futurism to position products as solutions from the future or the past. Hopefully, every household will have Rosie the Robot one day, just as so many people enjoy smart TVs today. It would be a lot of fun if the actual machine looked more like the one in The Jetsons than like a Roomba. Right now, these design trends can help customers imagine that one brand of ketchup tastes a bit spicier and another brand of coffee can make mornings sweeter.

Categories
Audience Branding Creative & Production Insights Marketing/Business Media & Analytics

Bigeye, an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency, has unveiled a newly redesigned website with an accompanying campaign, #TheBigeyeLens, to showcase its unparalleled expertise of consumer insights.

“After two decades of success, we’ve learned a lot about creating unforgettable brand experiences that drive connections,” said President Justin Ramb. “Our new website showcases how we’re uniquely positioned to completely understand the customer’s changing needs and produce the results our clients trust us to deliver.”

Bigeye launches, scales, and grows revolutionary brands that break the status quo.  Its award-winning teams have expertise in the full spectrum of marketing and advertising disciplines, including research, strategy, and campaign management and optimization. Its creative work includes everything from advanced digital campaign creation and video production to environmental design and outdoor media. 

“The future is driven by vision. We combine insight, hindsight, and foresight to inform all of our decisions,” said VP of Insights Adrian Tennant. “Research is at the heart of everything we do. Without audience personas, qualitative and quantitative research studies, and other forms of consumer research, we would miss opportunities to help our clients reach their target audiences.”

Bigeye’s four core service lines are Audience, Branding, Creative & Production, and Media & Analytics, with a focus on innovative Consumer brands. As an insights-driven agency, each project begins with detailed consumer research to architect strategies that yield tangible results.

“Our creative strategy enables the leading companies we work with to cut through the noise and make powerful, profitable connections with their target market,” said Seth Segura, VP of Creative. 

“This new chapter will allow us to continue creating customer experiences that help bring brands all over the world to new heights.”

In addition to the redesigned website, Bigeye will publish a series of new blog posts exploring the future of consumer behavior, as well as new episodes of their weekly podcast IN CLEAR FOCUS on the same topic. This Fall, Bigeye will also release a proprietary research report on the changing retail industry. 

Follow Bigeye on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and subscribe to the monthly newsletter to stay up-to-date on all agency news. 

About Bigeye

Bigeye is an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency that crafts deeply compelling brand experiences and the strategies that ensure they reach the right people, in the right place, at the right time. The Bigeye team of strategists, account managers, creative directors, copywriters, designers, programmers, and operations professionals works closely with clients to better understand the needs of their consumers and deliver measurable results.

Categories
Branding Consumer Insights Insights

Brand loyalty is more important than ever. The eCommerce boom during the pandemic provided digital businesses with an opportunity to engage with a much larger population of online customers. According to Digital Commerce 360, eCommerce increased by 32 percent during 2020 and continued to climb by almost 40 percent in the first quarter of 2021. Even better, marketers expect new eCommerce buyers to continue to shop online as they learn to enjoy convenience, the ease of comparing prices, and other benefits.

At the same time, the boom attracted more sellers and aggressive marketing from existing sellers. Even more, regulations and uncertainty have started to impact the way that companies can track customers. Thus, Shopify’s report on eCommerce trends predicted a surge in new customer acquisition costs and in turn, a heavy focus on building customer loyalty. After all, it’s almost always much cheaper to market to loyal customers than to attract new ones.

Three Effective eCommerce Marketing Tips to Grow Consumer Brand Loyalty

With increased customer acquisition costs and competition in mind, find out how the most successful, growing businesses have encouraged their customers to return for repeat sales.

1. Subscriptions

As discussed in this previous post about subscription boxes, subscriptions can enhance the customer experience with convenience and discounts while greatly improving retention. Obviously, subscriptions work best with the kinds of products that people consume and need to replenish. Since the market for subscriptions has already grown competitive in some markets, businesses might explore niche opportunities and ensure customer trust and satisfaction with flexible subscription offerings that are easy to use, modify, and even cancel.

As an example, Grove Collaborative attracted both customers and investors with their subscriptions for all-natural, home essentials, like cleaning and personal grooming products. They focused narrowly on the growing market for natural home products and offered more personalized services than such giant competitors as Amazon. Besides selling other brands, they also market their own brands. Customers appear to enjoy the product selection and find the service convenient, affordable, and flexible.

brand loyalty, grove collaborative

2. Membership programs

Membership programs can help promote a sense of exclusivity while building a community. Sam’s Club and Costco probably represent the most famous examples, and according to Investopedia, both of these retail memberships help these two companies generate additional revenue and promote loyalty. After all, if the customer paid for membership, they will probably feel motivated to use it.

Thrive Market offers a contrasting example of retail membership plans. The company provides a low-income family with a membership for every fee they collect from a regular customer. They’re also bonding with socially responsible customers by asking for charitable donations at checkout.

According to the Thrive website, they have donated over $1.5 million to such worthy causes as disaster relief and food access programs. Besides, they offer new members their choice of a free gift with a new membership. Unlike Sam’s Club and Costco, Thrive Market appears to use its membership as a way to build loyalty and accomplish their socially responsible mission and not to collect extra revenue.

Customers who seek the sort of healthy, sustainable food that Thrive Market offers will probably not hesitate to purchase a modestly priced membership when they know that the money will help others and entitle them to a free product. Members will probably feel proud to tell others about the opportunity as well, which can help with word-of-mouth advertising.

brand loyalty, membership programs, thrive market

3. Loyalty discounts and rewards

Programs that use discounts to reward loyalty and lure lapsed customers back have proven extremely successful. Harvard Business Review made the point that since it’s cheaper to keep customers than find new ones, loyalty discounts can also serve to help pass some savings back to customers.

HBR also mentioned that these sort of discount rewards programs work best when they offer the most value to the most valuable customers. In other words, the value offered should reflect the customer’s long-term value. A discount and email strategy that helps keep the brand top-of-mind for those most valuable customers aware of discounts, new offers, and other offers should produce the best returns.

How HelloFresh uses discounts to increase customer value

As one example, HelloFresh originally suffered in the U.S. marketplace because of high operational and customer acquisition expenses. HelloFresh has taken various steps to lower operational costs, though some of this might just take time. Since they’re vertically integrated from sourcing food to shipping, they may need years to cover the massive investment in operations and infrastructure.

As for customer acquisition costs, they focus on using discounts to encourage their members to order more. They offer flexible meal plans by subscription. The fee depends on the number of servings ordered. Plus, the plan lets customers choose the kinds of meals, various recipes, and even to skip weeks when they may not need the service. Mostly, the cost of each meal drops considerably as customers order more meals.

For instance, ordering four meals a week for two people costs an average of $4.49 per serving. In contrast, upping that to four servings for four meals drops the average price to $3.74. Customers see that and might decide that it’s worth it to order enough for supper and lunch the next day, even if they only need two servings per meal. They also offer additional discounts to select groups of people they hope to court as long-term customers, like students, military and veterans, and healthcare workers.

brand loyalty, hello fresh

Work with an Experienced Customer Acquisition Company to Improve Customer Loyalty

Subscriptions, membership programs, and loyalty discounts can all work to build brand loyalty, reduce the burden of attracting new customers, increase order sizes, and even to enhance the brand. At the same time, successful companies need to understand exactly what programs will appeal to their typical customers and in particular, how to use their programs to focus on retaining the customers that bring them the most value.

As an experienced eCommerce marketing agency, Bigeye will take the time to learn about their client’s business model, typical customers, and overall goals and pain points. In turn, they can help develop the kinds of loyalty programs that will optimize revenues, profits, and of course, the number of valuable and loyal customers.

Get started today by contacting Bigeye to discuss your business.

Categories
Branding Insights Naming & Architecture

Why invest in brand naming?

As highlighted in an earlier Bigeye article about the art and science of business naming, investing some resources and effort into brand naming can support a positive business image and forge emotional connections with potential customers.

As the old saying goes, nobody ever gets a second chance to make a positive first impression. Since branding generally provides customers with their first impression of a company or product, marketers should carefully consider brand naming.

Take a look at some cautionary tales about naming mishaps, branding best practices, how to brainstorm for the perfect brand name, and a case study of an effective naming strategy from Bigeye, a top branding agency.

Examples of Obvious Brand Naming Mishaps

Happily, Snopes debunked the old story about the Chevy Nova. This marketing myth said the car failed to sell well in Spanish-speaking countries because Nova translated to no go. Apparently, the Nova sold very well south of the border. Also, Nova means the same thing in Spanish as it does in English, and no vayas means no go. Even so, generations of college students could have benefited from this cautionary tale in their marketing books, even without knowing it was really a fable.

Still, Mercedes-Benz did first translate their brand to Bensi in China. In Chinese, bensi can mean “rush to die.” Clairol also started to market their Mist Stick curling iron in Germany, even though to Germans, mist sounds like the slang word for manure.

Even without suffering errors in translations, such real company names as Analtech, Poopsies, and Passmore Gas could send the wrong message. Also, almost everybody has seen some news about how Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s have changed their names to Pearl Milling Company and Ben’s Original to avoid the suggestion of using ethnic stereotypes.

No business wants the expense and potential poor press of having to change their brand name, so smart marketers will invest some effort in getting the brand name right the first time.

brand name, pearl milling company

How to Avoid Branding Mishaps

Obviously, business naming services will try to avoid such obvious missteps as offensive or unintentionally humorous brand names. Like almost every other business decision, companies should begin by setting goals that they hope to achieve through brand naming. Some considerations include the way the name will reflect upon the intended brand image, how it will get used in marketing materials, and mostly, that it will not get misunderstood or sound offensive to anybody.

Consider this quick summary of  best practices to create a name that will reflect well on the brand’s intended image and help accomplish such goals as improved brand recognition:

Readable: Make the name simple to read, pronounce, and spell. In particular, a customer should not experience problems trying to Google a brand after hearing the name spoken.

Unique: At least, keep the brand name as unique as possible, especially within an industry or local area. Turn to the internet to search for matches and to check the domain name’s availability. 

Memorable and distinctive: If possible, consider names that people will have an easy time identifying with the product. Short, punchy names help grab attention, keep companies from having to resort to acronyms, and make it easier to develop graphics.

Evocative: According to a Harvard professor quoted in Inc. Magazine, consumers base 95 percent of their buying decisions on subconscious emotional reactions. Also, an earlier article from Bigeye discussed how brand names tend to trigger emotional responses more than other nouns. A name that helps evoke a positive, emotional response will provide a competitive edge.

Tips for Brainstorming Company Name Ideas

Businesses can find plenty of resources online to help with a brainstorming session for company names. One branding professional summarized a quick list of her go-to brainstorming tools for Entrepreneur.com. These accessible resources include:

Use an Online Thesaurus

With the product or service in mind, look for related words in an online thesaurus. Thesaurus.com doesn’t just offer synonyms and antonyms but also other possible related terms. For instance, a search for pies to name a pie shop could uncover such fun or evocative terms as “easy as pie,” “last course,” and “mulligan.”

Try an Industry Glossary

All businesses have their own jargon. Back to naming the pie shop, a glossary search of baker’s terms revealed some potential winners like “baker’s dozen,” “cream,” or even “hard crack.”

Ask Google

Google might not contain all human knowledge, but it definitely offers a gateway to the accumulated insights of millions. A simple Google search for pie showed some interesting twists, like “Pi” and “tart.” Beyond that, the latest news stories about pies offered some tasty ideas. If nothing else, just performing a search showed the kinds of terms that people searched for.

Research Song Names

Songwriters carefully craft song names as evocative hooks for their work. That’s very similar to the effect businesses hope that their brand name will have on customers. For example, some of the top songs about pie include “Wild Honey Pie” by the Beatles and “Slice of Your Pie” by Motley Crue.

People are visual creatures, so look for the kinds of images that might represent a product. Naturally, most images with a tag of pie have pies in them. However, they also have forks, plates, and crumbs, which could prove helpful.

Bigeye Brand Naming Example

Epoch Residential develops multifamily housing projects. They asked Bigeye to help them develop a warm, welcoming brand for their new project. With a beautiful, tree-lined property for inspiration, Bigeye set out to craft the perfect name.

The team considered the area’s history, the anticipated target market for new residents, the location near attractions in Orlando, and the natural beauty of the property. Finally, they drew inspiration from a hawk that often inhabits the surroundings and soars overhead, called the American kestral.

With all that in mind, they agreed upon the perfect name for the property: Kestra. The name evokes the same sense of beauty, freedom, and promise that this scenic property hopes to inspire for potential and current residents. Learn more about Bigeye’s complete branding journey for this top apartment project.

brand naming agency

Work With Bigeye, a Top Branding Agency

Certainly, brand names serve as only one component of an overall marketing strategy. At the same time, the name serves as a focus for all the other branding efforts, like ads, slogans, and logos. Mostly, the name often provides customers with their very first and most memorable introduction to a company.

Businesses might change color schemes and graphics periodically. Still, they always find it much more troublesome and expensive to change a name. Work with Bigeye, a top brand naming firm, to get branding right the first time.

Categories
Branding Content Marketing Insights Paid Social

Podcasts have exploded in popularity. In turn, almost every content marketing agency has explored the power of this audio-only format to engage audiences. As a next step, imagine combining an audio podcast with the conversational ability of a traditional social site, like Twitter. Enter: Clubhouse, the social media wunderkind that everyone is either talking about or copying.

That’s how a Clubhouse marketing agency might describe this new and increasingly visible social app. Find out how Clubhouse works, some ways to use it for marketing, and what the future of interactive audio might offer.

How Does Clubhouse Work?

Clubhouse app users can choose from a selection of rooms to enter. Some examples of influencers who run Clubhouse rooms include philanthropists, entertainers, venture capitalists, and perhaps unsurprisingly, digital marketers. Entering the room automatically turns on audio, and visitors can “raise their hands” to ask for the moderator’s permission to speak.

Clubhouse’s exclusivity partly explains its mystique. While anybody can download the app, potential users must register a username and wait for an invitation to activate it. This controlled growth limits the app’s current user base; however, it also gives users a chance to gain access to even the most popular influencers.

According to Digiday, a few million people use Clubhouse at least once each week. That may pale when compared to the billions of logins to Facebook each day. At the same time, Clubhouse’s enjoys a very concentrated population of influencers, which offers businesses a fantastic way to make connections.

How to Benefit From Clubhouse Advertising and Marketing

Right now, Clubhouse does not offer any program for paid social advertising. It’s based upon networking and content marketing. On the other hand, businesses and individuals do have an opportunity to earn money from the app. Just a few examples include paid room memberships, sponsorships, and of course, marketing brands.

Of course, businesses could advertise their rooms on other platforms; however, since not everybody has a Clubhouse invitation, targeting can present a challenge. Instead, consider these examples of best practices for getting established on Clubhouse:

  • Organically develop an engaged community: Start by developing a profile that can motivate the right users to follow it. Engage in relevant conversations for visibility. Marketers new to Clubhouse may want to begin by networking with influencers who complement their own message. Compare this to getting established on any other social site by gaining the attention of influencers and their audiences.
  • Consider creating a room to solicit feedback: Whether it’s a new business idea or an established part of daily operations, try creating a room to ask for feedback. Very often, other entrepreneurs will stop by to offer opinions, and this provides a great networking opportunity for everybody involved. Also, don’t overlook the chance to provide feedback to others to gain attention.
  • Use Clubhouse to make company announcements: Connect an audience even more with a brand by using the site as a way to release your own audio press releases and bulletins. Clubhouse can work particularly well as a place to announce upcoming launches and even to ask for pre-launch feedback.

Instead of just using Clubhouse as a platform to network and promote new products or services, also consider it a potential source of finance connections. Since it’s grown quite popular with venture capitalist, Clubhouse can provide the perfect place to gain an investor’s notice. Even if all investors won’t offer to write checks, most will provide feedback that can help improve pitches and products.

Finally, is waiting for an invitation presenting an obstacle to getting started with Clubhouse? Putting out a call for one on LinkedIn or Twitter can yield positive results.

Forecasting the Future for Clubhouse

If nothing else, Clubhouse has already introduced a new digital media in the form of a social network based upon interactive audio. It combines some of the best features of social sites and podcasts. As an example, it’s interactive, and unlike with live video, nobody needs to fix their hair.

On the other hand, larger social networks have already begun to respond with their own versions. As an example, Twitter’s beta testing Audio Spaces. They want to give users a place to gather for live, spoken conversations. Also, Twitter already has some features that Clubhouse lacks, including transcriptions, reactions, and a report feature.

While Clubhouse’s premise appears promising, they may fade into obscurity or remain a niche platform if established social networks can deliver a similar environment with important upgrades.

Current Alternatives to Clubhouse

Since Clubhouse still has limited membership, not all brands will not find their target audience there. Others may feel the platform just doesn’t conform to their marketing style. Sadly, some entrepreneurs might even still be waiting for their invite.

In any case, it’s always prudent to explore some other alternative social networking platforms:

  • Discord: People probably mostly associate Discord with chat servers; however, it also offers video and audio chat capabilities. That means a business could turn a Discord audio channel into something very similar to a Clubhouse room.
  • Riffr: This platform lets users upload short podcast recordings, so that part isn’t live. However, Riffr also has social networking features, so both listeners and content producers can follow and interact with each other.
  • Traditional podcasts: At first, people might think of podcasts as more like one-way broadcasts. At the same time, it’s possible to receive voice, text, or video calls from the audience or guests, so in that way, they can be interactive.
  • Webinar: A webinar functions something like a podcast with the addition of video. Also similar, it first seems like a one-way medium. At the same time, it’s possible to accept chats and calls from participants, so a webinar can provide an interactive experience.

Is Clubhouse Marketing Worth Pursuing?

Clubhouse offers businesses a chance to interact with a relatively small but influential group. Some examples of Clubhouse participants include Oprah, Elon Musk, and Chris Rock. Less well known, but possibly just as important, venture capitalists hang out on Clubhouse to monitor trends and sometimes, find new ventures to fund.

If networking with powerful influencers, business funders, and other ambitious peers can offer benefits, good content marketers should find plenty of fertile ground to network and spread their message.

At the same time, Clubhouse has only existed for a couple of years and lacks the established brand, features, and membership of either the largest social sites or the most competitive alternatives. While investing effort into Clubhouse may offer opportunities, it’s also probably prudent to explore similar opportunities offered by other platforms.

Categories
Branding Creative & Production Direct-To-Consumer Insights Marketing/Business Uncategorized

To engage the notoriously short attention span of internet users, even older brands have recently introduced modern, streamlined versions of earlier logos. Flat logo design refers to the popular trend of using two-dimensional, two-color branding images that don’t contain realistic images, shading, and other enhancements. They’re meant to appeal to contemporary consumers and easily transfer to various media, packaging, and products.

Certainly, many new or established brands can benefit from cleaner and more practical graphics. On the other hand, it’s easy to find examples of companies taking minimalism too far. This results in colors and graphics that closely resemble other products or brands or fail to reinforce the company’s image in other ways.

Find out more about the benefits of flat logo designs and hopefully, how to avoid some common pitfalls.

Why have brands turn to flat logo design?

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The image in this section compares Apple’s original logo with the current one. Actually, there’s a lot to like about Apple’s original logo. It tells an entire story about Isaac Newton getting hit on the head by an apple and noticing gravity. It probably strikes most contemporary people as nostalgic and almost like something to expect on a craft beer or wine label.

That image probably represented the budding startup well at the time. In those days, Apple may have told their branding agency that they wanted the logo to send a message that they had better ideas, genius designers, and high standards of craftsmanship. No doubt, the original logo communicated a lot of information. It’s also obviously the opposite of a flat design.

These days, Apple wants to portray a somewhat different image to an evolving marketplace. Even though the original graphic tells a story, it contains so many details and graphical enhancements that it looks even more old-fashioned than it even is. Today, Apple strives to position themselves as the cutting-edge tech company for smart and savvy customers. Since they’ve established their brand so well by this time, they don’t need to use their logo to tell so much of their story.

Besides, Apple can now enjoy the benefits of a minimalist design that they can easily use as a package label, product logo, or cell phone icon. Most of all, few people remember that old, nostalgic Apple label, but almost everybody recognizes their current brand image. This design change worked, though it’s fair to say that the old one looks sort of cool.

Do contemporary, flat logo designs always work well?

Creative Bloq nailed the problem with today’s minimalist logo design trend. In theory, flat designs should reduce cognitive load by displaying a simple image to represent a brand. However, so many of these new graphics rely on similar shapes and color schemes that it might actually take more mental effort than ever before to tell them apart. In that way, they can actually increase cognitive load.

New vs. Old Product Logo Comparisons

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For instance, look at the comparison of Google’s previous icons on the top row and the current versions on the bottom row. As just one example, it’s fair to argue that the top mail icon more clearly tells typical Gmail users that this image offers a portal to their email inbox than the stylized “M” below it.

Plenty of users say the same thing about the document and video image comparisons. In fact, the images on the bottom row tend to look so much alike that it takes more thought to tell them apart than it did before. For a company that prides itself on its focus on usability, the icon redesign doesn’t appear to achieve its set goal. It’s so stylized that it fails to communicate well.

Brand Logo Comparisons

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Possibly even worse than giving users minor problems with distinguishing between products from the same company, some brands have begun to mimic each other so closely that they’ve grown way too hard to distinguish.

The logo for a UK bank called Monzo has a stylized M, and sometimes they use only the M without the bank name below it. Refer back up to Google’s new email icon to see how similar the graphics would look as app icons on a smartphone or labels on a box. They’re different, but they would still be easy to mistake for each other because of the closely matched font style and colors.

Examples of Successful Logo Redesigns

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Some clever logo designers have introduced graphic redesigns that both creative agencies and customers appreciate. As examples, consider the good choices made by Burger King and Adobe.

Burger King’s New Logo

As one winning example, look at Burger King’s redesign. Notice that the current logo on the right side of the image actually looks more like an earlier graphic than the more stylized version that immediately proceeded it.

For one thing, Burger King reverted away from the stylized and perhaps unclear image of a hamburger bun. For another, they removed the blue crescent to simplify their color scheme and reduce the amount of details. According to Lisa Smith, a creative director at Burger King’s logo design agency, they wanted to pay homage to the company’s history but produce a more refined version of it.

Perhaps less obvious, they also hoped that taking away the blue crescent would help symbolize the brand’s removal of artificial colors and ingredients from their recipes. Either way, the new logo should not confuse anybody who wants to find a burger from the established fast food chain, and nobody would think Burger King looks like McDonald’s.

Adobe’s Logo Redesign

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Adobe also removed one color in their transition from an old to a new logo. According to the Adobe Blog, the company wanted to make their new design more functional across a range of different surfaces and product types.

Besides their brand logo, they also introduced new product logos with stylized images of two- and three-letter mnemonics to help customers easily find the products they want. As an example, Ps stands for Adobe Photoshop, and PsC stands for Adobe Photoshop Camera.

With a focus on usability and attention to choosing colors for accessibility, they made graphical changes that not only should enhance their brand but also improve functionality.

How an Experienced Branding Agency Approaches Logo Design

For logo design or even redesign, it takes more than just a typical graphic design agency. It takes a good branding agency that’s willing to understand the company’s audience, message, and even its history. While prudent designers will pay attention to trends, they never want to produce work that’s so trendy that it mimics other players or loses its purpose in the process.

With that in mind, business logo designers should always adhere to these best practices:

  • Conduct brand discovery and market research first: As in the case of Burger King and to some degree, even Apple, the best logos can look very contemporary without sacrificing a nod to the past. Also, invest in enough research to ensure the audience will respond well to the new logos. It’s better to hear this kind of criticism from a focus group than to see it on Twitter.
  • Note current trends without blindly following them: Changing a logo carries some risk, especially for a business that already has significant brand and logo recognition. Flat and minimalist designs offer plenty of benefits; however, don’t sacrifice functionality and uniqueness.
  • Avoid out-of-the-box typography and color pallettes: Very often, even simple typography customization can help avoid accidental similarities between one brand and another. For instance, choosing either different colors or another font could have kept the Monzo logo from looking quite so much like Gmail’s.
  • Shy away from image clichés: Sure, the new Apple logo looks a lot like the old graphics for Apple Records, but thankfully, most Apple buyers probably aren’t old enough to remember the old Beatles label. Anyway, Apple got away with it, but using common shapes, like globes, light bulbs, or apples, risks confusion and can even appear stale. If it’s necessary to use a common or generic shape, try to customize it in a unique way.
  • Avoid making logos too abstract: In Google’s effort to simplify icons, they took away the instant recognition of what the images represented.
  • Strive for simplicity: Complex logos may present problems when displayed on different devices or surfaces. That’s also why sticking with two colors makes logo designs more practical for a variety of applications. Using just one or two colors can also open up the possibility of reproducing it in monochrome if the need arises, say for stationary or business cards.
  • Develop responsive logos: Logos shown as icons for apps, emblems on products and packaging, and advertisements on TV or computers will need to scale to various sizes. If it’s not possible to design one responsive logo, consider creating variations for different applications.
  • Develop brand guidelines: Finally, businesses should protect the investment they make in developing and promoting their brands by publishing guidelines that specify how to use the logo. Some guideline considerations might include permitted and prohibited uses, fonts, colors, and padding.

Developing a Logo that will Last for Generations

Businesses invest a lot in creating a brand identity, and a logo represents a visual cue or reminder of that. While brands may have good reasons to develop new logos or redevelop old ones, no business wants to do that very often. Nobody can say for sure if today’s graphics will look dated in 20 or 30 years; however, it’s helpful to look back on logos from the past to see how well they stood the test of time.

As a branding firm in Florida, Bigeye has helped established branding and designed innovative logos for dozens of growing and established organizations. Take a look at the online portfolio to find a graphic design agency that builds brands.

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Branding Insights Marketing/Business

Adapting experiential marketing to coronavirus and digital competition through in-person, design, or virtual events to grow brands and markets. 

Sometimes called engagement or event marketing, experiential marketing offers an almost unrivaled chance to help meet such diverse marketing goals as increasing brand recognition, sales, and customer loyalty. It works by enhancing connections between brands and customers in a personal way, though it can accomplish this in a variety of ways.

For a couple of examples of experiential marketing’s effectiveness, Finance Online published research that demonstrated:

  • 70 percent of people turn into repeat customers after attending experiential marketing events.
  • An incredible 85 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to buy after participating in experiences and events.

By its very definition, an experiential marketing strategy will seek to encourage and even invite consumers to participate with the brand to share experiences and even evolution.

Traditionally, an experiential marketing agency might have suggested such common activities as grocery store food tastings, fashion shows, and conventions. Of course, the pandemic changed consumer behavior abruptly. YouGov, a well-known polling agency, found that only 16 percent of Americans said they’re very likely to attend a brand’s online event within the next year. With younger adults, that figure increased to 24 percent, but it’s still a minority.

Experiential marketing in the age of Covid-19

Of course, even before the global pandemic, marketers explored both digital events and other kinds of experiences that did not require face-to-face, indoor contact.

As the possible spark for an idea for a non-digital event that doesn’t require in-person contact with brand representatives, YouGov also found 44 percent of people said they’d prefer outdoor experiences. By conducting experiences outside, brands can still enjoy in-person connections while offering social distancing and plenty of natural ventilation.

With warm weather on the horizon, brands might attract more guests to in-person special events if they could hold them outside.  Besides planning their own events, farmer’s markets, fairs, and even parades could offer great opportunities.

Of course, there’s always room for a bus stop decorated to look like a Barbie dollhouse room, as shown in the photo. For at least the time it takes for the bus to arrive, Mattel can employ affordable, low-tech immersive branding and at least for Barbie fans, make the wait seem shorter.

Image result for barbie bus stop

Recent examples of successful experiential marketing

Netflix took over Little Italy

To promote its recent movie, “The Irishman,” Netflix took over New York’s Little Italy district. They recreated the flavor and mythology of 1970s Manhattan with “Jimmy Hoffa is Missing” posters, secret passwords that would entitle visitors to free stuff at local businesses, and plenty of costumed actors. They even set up phone booths.

To pull off this experience, Netflix partnered with several local businesses. That had to generate some good will as it also gave delis, barbershops, pizza shops, and liquor stores a chance to enjoy some additional traffic from the promotion. According to Event Marketer, the promotion gave away over 36,000 items during the two-day event.

Image result for newspaper where is hoffa netflix

Pepsi sponsored a virtual concert to support front-line health workers

A good branding agency should advise clients that experiential marketing doesn’t always need to include direct experience with a product.  As an example, Pepsi couldn’t send a soda to all the 20 million people who logged in to watch the “One World All Together” virtual concert in April 2020.

The online event featured such well-known entertainers as Jimmy Fallon, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Billie Eilish, and Friends From Sesame Street. In that way, it not only had the power to attract a global audience, it also appealed to people from various generation.

While Pepsi couldn’t sell sodas, they could market their brand. Most important, according to Marketing Dive, Pepsi could showcase other facets of their famous name in a welcome way. The company used its vast marketing experience, event-organizing expertise, and a sizable cash donation to support a worthy cause that’s important to almost everybody in the world. In this case, experiencing Pepsi meant experiencing their ability to support a huge effort and support worthy causes.

At this time many marketers struggled to figure out how to reach a large audience during the first months of the pandemic. Pepsi marketing VP, Todd Kaplan, said they wanted a way to connect with people over their shared love for music and desire to take action to fight the coronavirus. Even without having a chance to personally hand out beverages, Pepsi lived up to their “That’s what I like” slogan in another way.

Image result for pepsi one world together at home

The role of experiential marketing in markets dominated by Amazon

In 2019, Amazon grew so large that it took the crown as the largest retailer in the world. As consumers turned even more to online shopping during the coronavirus, the giant retailer enjoyed an even larger share of the market, taking business from such well-known competitors as eBay, Walmart, and Target.

According to surveys reported on by The Motley Fool:

  • 53 percent of online shoppers began their search at Amazon by the end of 2020.
  • In contrast, about 47 percent did the same by the middle of 2020.

By these same surveys, internet customers who don’t start off with Amazon, do tend to choose one of the other well-known platforms to look for items, like Google, Walmart, Target, and eBay. Trying to get attention for smaller brands can present a challenge. 

How Walmart’s investing in experiential marketing to regain online shoppers 

At first glance, it seems like other businesses either need to compete with Amazon or compete on Amazon. Still, Walmart held the crown as the largest retailer in the world until very recently, and they don’t appear to have suddenly switched their platform to an Amazon Storefront.

Instead, they’ve invested more of their marketing dollars into experiential marketing to help build connections with their audience. As an example, they’ve started a Walmart+ membership program that looks something like Amazon Prime at first glance.

But beyond free shipping and deliveries, they’re also working with such media partners as The Food Network, HGTV, and The Drew Show. Besides having Drew Barrymore integrate a Walmart+ call to action, the celebrity will also include personal experiences with Walmart+ on the show. Walmart also plans similar engagement with HGTV.

Obviously, they hope to use this experiential marketing strategy to spotlight not just Walmart+ advantages but also how it compares favorably to an Amazon Prime membership.

Walmart wants to change its brand identity

Walmart’s also already got plenty of stores to help develop in-person relationships with people. And people don’t necessarily frequent Walmart because they think it’s the best store. They often go because it’s the one store where they can buy printer ink, a bottle of ketchup, and a pack of diapers for some reasonable price at 10 AM or 10 PM.

In other words, people know what to expect out of a local Walmart, so the company wants to do more to attract the rapidly increasing population of online shoppers to regain the market share they may have lost to Amazon

How an experiential marketing agency can help businesses grow

The exact experiential business strategy to grow a business may depend upon typical customers, the kind of company, and available resources. Either way, the nature of this marketing channel can offer brands important benefits in a competitive landscape:

  • It helps brands differentiate themselves: While retailers like Amazon provide some resources to help businesses stand out, they still provide a spot in a crowded market. When customers can see, hear, or even taste products, they’re more likely to buy them.
  • It gets attention: Creative experiential marketing, like the Netflix takeover, provide interesting stories that tend to get the attention of the press and social media influencers.
  • It creates sharable moments: Besides getting attention from influencers, regular social media users love sharable moments. When customers post about their brand experiences, they also influence their friends and family. 
  • It gives customers a chance to try a brand: Now, Pepsi couldn’t hand out cans of soda, but they could share their well-oiled event team for a worthy cause. For some televised or virtual events, sponsor take another step of offering coupons and discount codes, almost like the secret password Netflix used. By the way, the password was, “Jimmy sent me.”
  • It creates a memorable experience: A child’s likely to remember an experience like sitting at a bus stop that’s decorated like a Barbie playhouse a long time. That child will probably tell friends and of course, parents.

Experiential marketing gives people an experience with brands that can help them develop a stronger connection. This helps enhance brand recognition, sales, and loyalty. Traditional definitions of this kind of marketing usually refer to it as an in-person channel. With new technology, changing customer behavior, and some creativity, it can work effectively as a digital channel as well.