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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.

Adrian Tennant: How do you identify?

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.

Adrian Tennant: GENDER: BEYOND THE BINARY.

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 Audience Analysis Branding Identity Implementation Marketing/Business Messaging Naming & Architecture Strategy & Positioning

Brand messaging is critical to the health of your business. Here’s a closer look at some of the most commonly asked questions about the subject.

Every business owner wants to build deep, long-lasting relationships with customers. Brand messaging is the mechanism by which this is accomplished. Every communication an enterprise engages in should be done with proper brand messaging in mind.

When done right, it inspires, informs, persuades and catalyzes audiences. When done poorly, it can do serious reputational harm.

Now that we’ve understood the stakes involved, let’s take a closer look at some of the most common questions business owners have about brand messaging.

Brand Messaging FAQ

1. I’m a brand messaging neophyte — can you explain what it means in two sentences?

Sure. Brand messaging is the language, voice, tone, and ideas that a business uses to convey its core value proposition and company values.

2. Can you give me an example?

Absolutely. The classic Nike slogan “Just Do It” is a famous example of potent brand messaging. It distills the company’s ethos into three unforgettable words.

3. What are the qualities that make brand messaging effective?

The same qualities that make interpersonal communication effective, for the most part. Great brand messaging resonates with audiences and builds a connection. It inspires, catalyzes audiences into action and engenders a sense of personal identification with the brand. It’s how lifestyle brands are created and lifelong customers are made.

4. What happens when brand messaging goes wide of the mark?

If you’re lucky, audiences simply won’t respond to it. In situations where brands badly misjudge their voice or misunderstand their audience, poor brand messaging can alienate people, anger them, and turn them into another brand’s loyal customers.

5. So how does one create effective brand messaging?

Here’s where things get a bit more challenging. First, brands need to identify and segment their audience. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, you’re just throwing darts in the dark. Do research, identify your audience, and query them. What motivates them? What matters to them? How do they engage with brands?  By understanding the answers to these questions, brands can then draw a line between their customers’ motivations and their own products and services, their values, and their unique value proposition. 

6. What else is important?

One word: Differentiation. When you’re developing a brand messaging strategy, it’s natural to review what your competitors are doing. After all, you’re targeting the same audience, so there should be some overlap between your messaging strategy. That said, it’s critical to differentiate your product or service. Sometimes you can accomplish this through features or innovations, but in many industries, it’s the branding itself that is the primary differentiator. So while you want your messaging to be informed by what your competitors are doing, you don’t want to follow what they are doing. Develop your own unique, differentiated voice and message.

7. Any other tips?

Yes. Consumers are inundated by advertising and marketing messages, so it’s important to develop language and themes that stand out. Seek to be compelling and memorable, rather than aiming for a bland, middle of the road voice designed to appeal to the broadest possible demographic. It’s also critically important to be clear and concise — audiences will disengage immediately if you’re sending confusing messages. Place the audience at the center of the story and explain to them exactly what your brand can do for them. Make sure that your messaging comes through in every bit of content or communication you author, and always ensure your brand speaks in a unified and consistent voice.

Finding the Right Brand Messaging Agency

At BIGEYE, we’re experts when it comes to resonant brand messaging. Whether you’re looking for an innovative approach to brand video or new, tech-forward ways to reach your desired audiences, we can help.

Contact us today to learn more about what a sophisticated brand messaging strategy can do for your firm.

Categories
Branding Implementation Influencer Marketing Media & Analytics

Fine-tune your influencer relationships with expert brand messaging services to bring your brand voice to a whole new level!

Brand messaging services have long evangelized about the power of influencer marketing. Yet in order to maximize the returns brands see on influencer campaigns, it’s important to optimize these relationships.
One key factor that many brands overlook in this process is longevity. By finding the right influencer partners and developing a sustained relationship, brands can build more interesting and complex content — and ultimately save money doing it.

Unlocking the key to longevity

Influencer marketing campaigns have evolved over time. A few years ago it was common for influencers and brands to partner for a single campaign and then move on.

Today, however, the trend is shifting toward sustained collaboration, and there are several reasons for this change.

First, brands are beginning to understand that sourcing influencers can be time-consuming. Today, the number of would-be influencers has grown significantly, so it takes more time to discern the pretenders from those with real market sway.

Brands also understand that longer relationships with influencers unlock greater creative potential. Once you grasp an influencer’s strengths, abilities, and the preferences of the influencer’s audience, you can use this information to develop highly targeted marketing content that’s more relevant and more engaging. There’s no feeling out process, which means less time and money is wasted trying to get creative sensibilities in alignment.

Long-term relationships also play well with audiences. If an influencer’s audience sees that a featured brand is one half of a supportive, long-term partnership, this will register as authentic, and earn brands goodwill.

Influencers, too, benefit from a sustained partnership. High-level product partnerships help establish influencers as credible and increase their standing in the eyes of their followers, brands, and other influencers competing for the same market.

Setting the table for longevity

So how do brands lay the groundwork for long and mutually profitable relationships with influencers? It starts with identifying the right people. Success as an influencer isn’t only about reach or pure numbers — it’s also about engagement. An influencer with 10,000 deeply passionate fans or followers may have more value than an influencer with 100,000 mildly-engaged fans or followers.

It’s also critical to target the appropriate niche. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a partner influencer needs to be situated in the exact same space as a brand’s products or brand messaging services. There may be crossover opportunities with influencers in adjacent niches. Or, established influencers may seek to grow their followings into new yet still somewhat related categories — a beauty blogger transitioning into fashion, for example.

Brands should carefully weigh variables such as the size of an audience, its growth rate, overall engagement, how long an influencer has been operating, the platforms they use, the kind of content they create and the values they possess.

It’s also important to consider personal attributes as well. Influencers are like anyone else — their interests, desires, ambitions, and life circumstances evolve over time. It’s possible that today’s fashion influencer may become tomorrow’s parenting vlogger.

If all of these elements are aligned with the strategic needs of the brand, the stage is set for a long — and mutually beneficial — relationship.

The takeaway

We understand the immense value that can be unleashed by establishing the right influencer marketing partnership. Brands can work with influencers to create more authentic connections with their audiences through brand messaging services and reach highly motivated consumers within new lucrative channels.

If you’d like to hear more about the value of long-term influencer relationships, we urge you to contact BIGEYE today.

Categories
Branding Identity Implementation Messaging Persona Building Strategy & Positioning

Social stories have only been available for a few years, but as a brand positioning agency, we quickly recognized their marketing potential. Today, our expert storytellers use social stories to put a relatable human face on the clients we work with. Humanizing an organization makes it much easier for potential customers to develop a strong relationship and affinity for their products and services.

Why stories sell

Behavior experts tell us that humans are wired for story. We have what’s been called a “story drive” that makes us hungry for information presented in this format. In fact, we know that storytelling was the primary way that our ancient ancestors communicated. You might say that cave paintings were the first Instagram!

Stories are just as important today. They are the best way to sell a product or service because we connect with them at a deeper level than we do simple information. This is extra important in a generation where our attention span has dropped below that of a goldfish (that’s a little embarrassing). People want to know at a glance what you are offering, and stories give them that information in a very quick, visual, and scannable way.

5 tips on using stories to connect with your audience

As a brand positioning agency, we’re sharing insider knowledge on leveraging social media stories:

1. Start slowly

Rather than diving headfirst into being storytellers across the social spectrum, you and your team should pick a platform and get a good feel for the medium. Instagram is a great place to start, in part because it has an excellent set of tools for creating social content.

2. Make the most of the tools available to you

Many companies get stuck using just the basic functionality on a platform. If you want to create engagement with your audience, it pays to learn about all the features a particular service has to offer so you can make your stories stand out.

3. Work up to using multiple platforms

Once you’re comfortable creating stories on one platform, start reworking and repurposing the content you create there in other places. Doing so saves you time and provides consistency for your audience.

4. Create stories that exhibit both passion and practicality

While a story that is simply entertaining will get some attention, one that also provides practical, usable information will be much more widely shared, and we can tell you just how much with our social media monitoring services.

5. Be human

The “story drive” we have makes us want to hear stories from other humans. Content that looks and sounds like it was produced by a robot won’t engage people and may turn them off. Utilizing content that is relatable and organic will draw more of a crowd.

How can our brand positioning agency help you get the most bang for your buck through the use of social media stories? The best place to start is to get in touch with our branding experts and tell us your tale.

Categories
Audience Branding Healthcare Identity Implementation Naming & Architecture Nutraceuticals Qualitative Research Quantitative Research

When is the last time you heard someone ask a pharmacist for a refill on N-methyl-3-phenyl-3-[4- (trifluoromethyl) phenoxy]propan-1-amine? How about fluoxetine? The answer is probably more common than you think. While the scientific and generic names for Prozac aren’t particularly memorable, they do provide a revealing look into the byzantine world of pharmaceutical naming.

Many small and medium pharmaceutical researchers and producers don’t realize how important naming is until the FDA rejects their patent and sends years of research and clinical trials back to square one. A pharmaceutical naming agency can help decode the mystery and ensure your work makes it to market.

Why pharmaceutical naming matters

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The FDA strictly regulates and subsequently rejects between 20 – 25% of drugs’ generic and brand names to avoid confusion that might lead to misdosing, confusion over a drug’s efficacy, or that might lead to patient stigmatization and privacy violations. Once approved, the naming process continues to play an important role in a drug’s success because a pharmaceutical company may only market their drug under a brand name, rather than a generic or scientific name, once it has been patent protected.

Competing companies may market the same generic drug under a different name to make the market more competitive. While Advil and Motrin are both brand names for ibuprofen, their name, positioning, and marketing plays an important role in which the consumer ultimately chooses.

How a pharmaceutical naming agency can boost your success

The average pharmaceutical naming agency creates between 2,000 – 5,000 names for each drug before beginning the FDA screening process and march to patent protection that will allow brands to compete in the market. A top Florida advertising agency like BIGEYE can help kick off that process by vetting names that may raise flags for the FDA or that will not stand out from the competition.

By partnering with a creative team, your brand can focus on the science and success of your product while your agency ensures your research and work does not get delayed because its name sounds too similar to another drug or accidentally includes the common shorthand for another scientific component.

Contact us today to learn more about how we’ve helped other drug producers enter the market and break through the clutter of competition from big pharmaceutical companies.

 

Categories
Branding Implementation

Building a healthy brand starts with bringing together a clear vision and product that fits your customers’ lifestyles. Today, customers are more interested than ever in how products contribute to their overall health and wellness, or the improvement of the world around them, which is why building a robust brand starts with designs for health inside the office and out. Everyone from fast food chains (now offering healthy menu options) to consumer goods (like TOMS® One for One model) is embracing the idea that consumers prefer to engage with brands that are improving the collective community in a meaningful way. No matter what industry you’re in or what products and services you offer, you have the opportunity to leverage campaign designs for health that showcase how your company is making a difference in your customers’ lives.
To highlight how your products contribute to a healthier lifestyle or community effort, we have compiled a list of three brand design guidelines to get you started.

1. Check in with your brand promise:

One of the easiest ways to promote goodwill is to ensure your brand promise clearly expresses what customers will get – or be able to give – by choosing your products. For example, organic grocery store Trader Joe’s has outpaced mega competitors such as Whole Foods and Fresh Market thanks to its private label’s earnest brand promise: “Trader Joe’s private label products promise great quality fare for exceptional, everyday prices. We taste everything before we put our name on it and offer only what we feel is extraordinary.” Customers feel confident purchasing Trader Joe’s products because they receive great quality, healthy products for a price that fits their lifestyle. Check in with your own brand promise and ask yourself if it expresses a clear value proposition to your customers that will make them feel good investing – or even indulging – in your brand. 

2. Visual housekeeping and designs for health:

If you already know your brand delivers exceptional service or quality, make sure your visual elements reflect that same level of confidence. In this instance, we literally mean ensuring your team designs for health. Choose colors, fonts, UX layouts, and images that capture the essence of what’s best about your brand. For example, when most people think about the insurance industry, they may not immediately think of healthy lifestyle or community involvement, but corporate giant Nationwide Insurance nails the important brand balancing act between commerce and community. In addition to ad campaigns that highlight how their services give customers peace of mind and financial security, the corporation routinely showcases their work funding the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and their commitment to corporate responsibility. Each of their brand campaigns – whether it’s via media, digital, email, or print – use visual designs that highlight, link, and reaffirm these efforts. Their emphasis on simple, clean creative elements and straightforward messaging creates consistent alignment with their brand promise and visual assets. These visual reminders help your customers understand that their purchases are contributing to something beyond themselves and deepens their brand loyalty.

3. Create four campaign designs for health:

Put these principles into action by committing to four campaign designs for health this year because there is nothing more important when building or refining a brand than consistency. Every marketing initiative your team invests in won’t necessarily promote a sense of health or wellbeing, but one health- or community-focused effort each quarter creates a consistent reminder that will forge a link between your brand and your customers’ lifestyles. When these campaigns are reinforced by your typical, day-to-day visual and marketing elements, this link becomes stronger and more substantial. Over time, customers will begin associating your brand style guidelines with your products and the positive impact they have on their communities and lives. Great examples of this continuous affirmation are Coca-Cola’s holiday campaigns. Each year, Coke spends time around the holidays highlighting their product’s ability to build communities, bring people together, and spread joy. These feel-good, community campaigns echo the ads and efforts they run year round, with extra emphasis on how Coke makes the world healthier and happier. Even when those ads aren’t running, customers feel the positive effects of this positive brand association.

 

There are many ways for your brand to promote designs for health, forge links between your community and your products, or emphasize how your products stand out from the competition. Let us help you brainstorm ways to highlight these links as you plan for the second half of the year and kick off the new year with customers that are engaged, healthy, happy, and committed to your brand.

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Audience Audience Segmentation Branding Content Marketing Conversion Optimization Creative & Production Digital Targeting Services Environments Implementation Media & Analytics Strategy & Positioning Website Development

Whether making a last minute push to meet year-end numbers or simply subscribing to the reality of “use it or lose it,” most retailers pick up the pace when it comes to their Q3 and Q4 marketing methods. Wondering how to aim for and achieve the best possible results? Consider these seven proven ways to maximize your retail marketing allocations.

1. Better your blog

Unfortunately, many retail business blogs miss the mark when it comes to achieving their full potential. Why? Because they exist out of a sense of obligation, as opposed to as an extension of a company’s overall business strategy.

Blogs are cost-efficient, highly effective marketing tools….unless they’re left to languish, in which case they offer value to neither you nor your consumers. Conversely, a well-executed blog can help you build engagement and foster consumer loyalty while also enhancing SEO rankings and search results. Stop thinking of your blog as your website’s “ugly stepsister,” and start thinking of it as more of a fairy godmother of sorts — with the magical potential to generate sales leads.

2. Look harder at search engine marketing

Odds are, you promote your website via Search Engine Marketing (SEM) throughout the year. However, did you know that Q3 and Q4 offer the enhanced opportunity to take a closer look at your conversion rates? Are your average costs per lead and conversions meeting your expectations?  If not, consider where your efforts may be failing.

For many organizations, the critical element is poorly-designed landing pages which fail to generate search marketing ROI. After all, different campaigns have varying search optimization parameters. Taking the time to customize each campaign can yield powerful results right when you need them.

Also, keep in mind that while starting new campaigns may not yield realizable ROI by year’s end, maximizing your existing processes and programs has the potential to improve outcomes.

3. Focus on Facebook

While social media in general presents valuable opportunities for marketers, Facebook takes second place only to Google when it comes to worldwide net digital ad revenues. When was the last time you evaluated your Facebook advertising approach? Whether you’re looking to cast a wider net or increase sales, Facebook offers a captive audience to savvy advertisers.

Not only that, but Facebook’s robust analytics allow you to target your audience, choose from different ad formats, and understand your results through reporting, tracking and measuring capabilities. If your marketing efforts are going awry, these metrics can help you take swift, corrective actions.

4. Go for growth

While dwindling resources may compel you to trim expenses, it’s also important to keep an eye on the prize: building value. This doesn’t necessarily mean cutting costs, but instead amping up accountability. Execution-driven strategies position you to demonstrate the effectiveness of your retail marketing campaigns, and information management is a critical part of the process.

Today’s retail marketers have access to more actionable data than ever before. Demonstrable results are not only essential to assessing ROI, but also to making any last minute adjustments to move forward in the most productive way during retail’s busiest season.

5. Optimize email efforts

On that note, heading into the holiday season, it’s particularly important to deliver content to consumers via the most appealing and accessible means. While social media gets the lion’s share of attention, email remains a preference for many in your target market.

But not just any emails. From delivering coupon codes to informing recipients about upcoming in-store and online flash sales, emails can drive both traffic and conversions.

And don’t forget about the importance of mobile. Responsive, aesthetically pleasing email messages can also further optimize Q3 and Q4 outcomes.

6. Count on content

The typical 21st century consumer doesn’t want a hard sell; he/she wants value. As consumers prepare to open their pocketbooks during the season of giving, give them a gift of your own: meaningful content that either answers a question or enriches their lives in some essential way.

Content should be consistent, relevant, unique, and focused on making the entire shopping process more accessible and user-friendly. When designing your content strategies during Q3 and Q4, keep in mind that the best content is not about completing a sale, but about telling a story that engages consumers and bolsters your brand.

7. Cultivate the consumer experience

We can agree by now that contemporary customers are all about value over hype. With consumer confidence harder to come by than ever before, retail marketers can position themselves for success by earmarking Q3 and Q4 funds for enhancing efforts to understand what motivates their customers and deliver on these insights.

Don’t overlook the power of omni-channel marketing. Relevant real-time content delivered via a consumer’s preferred mode of communication has the potential to increase both sales and consumer engagement.

Finally, Q3 and Q4 also offer an ideal opportunity to nurture your leads. Are you doing everything you can do — in the most direct, targeted way — to get better ROI out of your lead generation?

As the calendar year draws to a close, retail marketers are greeted with unprecedented opportunities to put their end-of-year retail marketing dollars to optimal use. These seven techniques are sure to help you focus your marketing efforts where they’re least likely to overdraw your resources — and most likely to generate ROI.

Our team of retail marketing experts understands the challenges of doing more with less – and we’re poised to assist you in doing just that! Contact us today to schedule a consultation!

Categories
Audience Audience Analysis Branding Identity Implementation Messaging

For marketers who are aimed at creating brand preference in moms, it is useful to take a look at the brand itself. You want to attract the right types of moms for the brand, as attracting the wrong type can lead to dilution of brand value. Look at what your brand has to offer the mom market, and then embellish those qualities that allow it to stand out amongst competitors by asking a few key questions:

1. Is our brand memorable?

Though the brand doesn’t necessarily need to be in a mom’s face at all times, she does need exposure to the brand and needs ways to be able to find it when needed. In this era, being able to find the brand means that she can find it in the store, using Google, on Amazon, or social media sites.[quote]The harder it is to instill the brand into one’s memory, the harder it will be for brands to generate loyalty in their targets.[/quote] In order to help make the brand memorable, it’s essential to go to the platforms where moms are sharing information with one another in order to leave a lasting impression.

2. Is our brand meaningful?

Whether it’s enjoying a meal together at Olive Garden or walking through the mall in attention-getting Gucci shades, the brands that have positive impacts on the target’s lives are the ones that will succeed in creating preference. Without meaning, there’s no difference between buying Huggies and buying store brand diapers; but many moms are more apt to go for the Huggies because of their variety of facets, such as age-appropriate diapers, that help ease the frustrations of changing diapers. Huggies have made a connection point not only in their marketing, but also in their appeal to make the lives of women easier.

3. Is our brand likable?

Brand marketers should work to ensure that their brands are in line with the desires of mothers. A brand with a tough edge can open up it’s market to the modern mom by softening up, portraying the brand as likeable and fun. The brand marketer should embellish the aspects of their products that make moms’ lives easier, more exciting and more fulfilled. A company that sells necessities for children can better reach moms by bundling items such as diapers and baby wipes. Also, with new developments in big data, it’s easy to monitor what your users are saying about your products on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media outlets. Make sure that you are listening to the conversation, engaging your audience and taking quick action to resolving any problems that may arise.

To learn more about how you can market to moms in order to create brand preference and instill brand loyalty, contact our team today! We’ll share strategies for segmentation, creating appeals and assessing your own brand to determine the right moms for your business.

Categories
Branding Creative & Production Implementation Messaging Strategy & Positioning Website Development

It’s a new year, and people around the country are working hard to keep their resolutions. Be it trying to smile more, have more fun or save money for that big vacation, resolutions are typically admirable goals that, if reached, can grant more positivity and joy to a person’s life.
At our advertising agency, we think one of the most awesome things about living in a world of smartphones and digital technology is that there are tons of apps to help us reach our goals. These are apps that help us manage our budgets, our fitness goals and our work-life balance.

The great thing about the digital economy is that marketers are able to use app development to find creative ways to tap into these tools to help integrate digital products with their marketing strategies. When brands pick up on a need for their audiences, they can effectively develop apps to help provide a service while also marketing their own brand.

Take, for instance, Mint, which is a great tool for helping budget and save. Because it is able to provide a useful service to users, it can also strengthen its brand by partnering with major banks to help provide recommendations and advertising. Anyone resolving to save money in 2014 can use Mint to help plan for the future, and can also get tips on personalized banking options and experiences.

Those who’ve resolved to lose weight this year can use help from a number of apps, but none is as highly regarded as the Nike Fuel Band app and it’s partner device. Nike, a company once known only for its shoes, spent significant time and money on research and development to become a lifestyle brand. In doing so, it created a device that acts as a pedometer that syncs with a smart phone app, allowing people to easily monitor their progress and share with friends. This innovative technology goes far beyond what a shoe company has to offer, but at the end of the day, more people working out also equals more shoes sold by Nike. Plus, that doesn’t include the massive amounts of data Nike is capturing about its users. This is why Nike will remain a leader in the athletics and fitness space for a long time.

[quote] Want to check out a success story in the mobile app market? BIGEYE teamed up with The Daily Mom to develop a unique and sophisticated app that reached the Top 25 Downloads Position on iTunes. [/quote]

Finally, there are numerous apps that help people with education. For instance, language companies like Rosetta Stone compliment their foreign language programs with immersive apps. In doing so, they not only provide a service to their users, but are also accessible to beginners who might be interested in partaking in the full program at a later date, but for the moment simply need to learn where to find the bathroom.

Take a tip from our brand marketing agency: Marketers should look to this these inspirational ideas for app utility to figure out what kinds of apps might help their users and their audiences. Doing so not only acts as great marketing, but also helps provide a service to users. In turn, those new products can help the brand grow into something bigger than itself.

In search of a little more expert advice to strategize app development for your brand? Contact us today to schedule a consultation!

Categories
Branding Direct-To-Consumer DTC Marketing Entertainment Implementation

As tennis fans rush to the doors of the beautiful Louis Armstrong Stadium, set in the backdrop of Flushing, Queens, to see history made at the US Open, tourists and spectators quickly find themselves mesmerized by the humongous US Open Social Wall. The 50-by-8 foot wall is a collage of images, tweets and updates containing a plethora of online commentary around the big event.
It’s no secret that sports enthusiasts comprise a strong segment of social media. Just think about how many Facebook posts we see in our feeds each time the Bucs score a touchdown. But many times, sports marketers find themselves scratching their heads: they’ve done Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. “What else is there to do?” clients ask our Florida advertising agency. Well, our team of experts is hereto serve up some pretty invaluable solutions!

The digital team behind the US Open found a way to leverage social engagement to create a stunning digital footprint that comprises an integrated picture of the big event. As documented by Instagram’s photojournalists, Twitter’s commentators and Facebook’s check-ins and status updates, it’s not just one person’s version of the events any longer-it’s now the story as told by everyone, anywhere in the world, on one sprawling wall.

Years ago, sports marketers realized they would need to leverage social media outlets to help raise brand awareness and encourage customer engagement. What started with simple accounts led to major social media-based campaigns. However, in today’s data-driven sports marketing, simply registering a Twitter account isn’t enough. While that’s an important piece of the puzzle, it is important now for brands to find even more ways to innovate through interactivity and social sharing.

Take, for example, Nike, which not only encourages its fans to purchase its products, but has also created a community in which purchasers can align themselves with the brand on multiple fronts. Fans are able to monitor weight loss, challenge themselves to beat their athletic goals and interact with other members of their community, all through a distinct network created and maintained by a single brand. Nike even went so far as to build products for its users and fans, such as the Nike Fuel band, which helps people monitor their daily athletic activities and allows them to compete with friends. Ultimately, this brings Nike’s users closer to one another through technology.

By making social media a main attraction, the US Open Social Wall not only encourages people to engage with the content, but also provides a beacon for coverage concerning the day’s activities.[quote]Social media interaction isn’t limited to celebrities and sports personalities.[/quote] The Social Wall encourages people around the globe to share their thoughts, emotions and support for the players they love. And, it doesn’t hurt that the event’s big corporate sponsors are also raising awareness of their services.

While something as spectacular as the US Open Social Wall may not be feasible for every sports marketer, the takeaway is that such marketers can be inspired by watching how bigger companies use social media for their own campaigns. With that, marketers can then find ways to innovate within their own boundaries. At our Orlando ad agency, we pride ourselves in offering an advantage set that is sure to help clients win the marketing game. Contact us today to get started!