Battle of The Brands: make a rockstar brand positioning statement

As one of the pillars of the “Four P’s” – positioning, product, placement, and price – your brand positioning statement serves as a fundamental part of your go-to market strategy. Before you decide what new features your product needs, what stores you want to sell in, and how much you want to charge, you need to clearly define your product position.
So let’s get started. If your unique value proposition, or UVP, is why your customers should care about you, then your brand positioning statement is the internal equivalents of what you and your team are trying to accomplish. Your brand positioning statement explains the who and why you believe you’re going to be successful so you can tailor each and every one of your marketing efforts accordingly.

Before writing your brand positioning statement, ask yourself the following for questions. To help guide you through this exercise, we’ll use Zipcar as an example. 

1. Who is your target audience?

No matter what industry you’re in, start with a customer-centric mindset. Ask yourself who your target audience is, what their pain points are, and what they care about most. Answering these questions will allow you to drill into your target audience’s psyche and understand where your product fits into the consumer landscape. Knowing who you are trying to help and what you’re trying to solve for them will inform almost every other decision you make about your product’s brand positioning.

Example: Zipcar’s audience are urban, tech-savvy commuters. They are usually between the ages of 30 – 50 and fall in the middle- to upper-class socioeconomic brackets. They care about reliable transportation, and may struggle to find reliable public transportation in cities without developed bus or metro systems, or heavy traffic congestion and limited parking.

2. Competitive combat vs. niche interest?

To position your product for your audience, you also need to know whether you’ll be trying to break through your competition’s marketing clutter (in which case, you would be focusing on product differentiators and price points) or whether your product is a niche interest (meaning you’d focus on unique product placement and market education efforts). Do some research about what products fall into your direct competitive and indirect competitive set. Take time to learn about their go-to market strategy and where your target audience overlaps or stands out.

Example: Zipcar was one of the first arrivals to the car-sharing market, but have since been joined by direct competition such as Car2Go and indirect competition from ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Knowing that Zipcar was one of the original market leaders gives them a unique value statement when positioning their brand as a thought leader and experienced service provider.

3. What’s your category and market context?

If you’re redefining or crafting your brand positioning statement for the first time, consider what your share of the industry wallet is. Is your product category new and growing rapidly, or mature and stable? Are people already familiar with products like yours or will you need to spend time educating the market? Are you trying to redefine yourself within a product segment? Is your market necessary (think: toothpaste, food, and gasoline) or elective (think: luxury items, gadgets, and travel).

Example: Positioning your product in a mature market, such as the public transit sector, requires a different mindset than pioneering a new way to commute. Zipcar, and the car-sharing market, is a new category that complements the emerging crowdsourcing craze. The market is growing and Zipcar is a market leader. When positioning their brand, Zipcar will want to focus on maintaining their current customer base while educating new entrants into the crowdsourcing craze about their unique option and value proposition. 

4. Why does your product matter?

If you’ve answered the last four questions, you’ll probably have a good idea about why your product matters. This fundamental question is your customers’ – and your – reason to believe in your product. It ties together any remaining value statements or “perks” associated with your product and allows you to write a stellar brand positioning statement that will guide your marketing strategy and product development roadmap.

Example: The finished product for Zipcar reads as follows: “To urban-dwelling, educated techno-savvy consumers, when you use Zipcar car-sharing service instead of owning a car, you save money while reducing your carbon footprint.” This statement clearly explains who needs the product, provides a snapshot into the market context, and tacks on a reason to believe in the product itself.

You may not be able to pack every detail from the four positioning questions into your brand positioning statement, but the essence of your own finished product should explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how it will transform the market.

For more inspiration on how to elevate your brand positioning, read about our work and how we’ve helped brands like yours build their brand positioning statement.

Down and dirty social media: twitter ads like never before

In a recent post, we discussed how Twitter is changing the world and earning you positive brand association, one social media post at a time. Twitter is most known for it’s organic social media advertising potential, but Twitter ads come in several different formats so there are plenty of ways to take advantage of paid advertising within the Twitterverse as well.
Here is a quick fact sheet on the three types of Twitter ads you can invest in. Just remember, it’s not an “either vs. or” decision. A strong Twitter ads strategy boosts exposure to unique tweets and compelling blogs alongside timely social media advertising to drive organic and paid traffic simultaneously.

1. Promoted tweet twitter ads:

Promoted tweets work best for promotions and short-term offers. Much like paid digital ads, you can pay per impression or click, giving you flexibility in how you want to expose a certain deal. If you already have a strong brand following, but want to run a short term gap closing effort or increase end of quarter sales, this is a great way to kick off your campaign. Simply highlight your offer in 140 characters or less, add a trackable link to your post, and release it into the wild.

2. Promoted account twitter ads:

To build brand awareness, consider promoting your account. Instead of highlighting a specific tweet within your follower base, Twitter will recommend your account to users who may be interested in following your content. This is a great tactic for new or growing companies because Twitter can help you segment and target a certain audience within their follower base. You can choose the type of users that will see your brand, serving a warm introduction to your next crop of potential customers.

3. Promoted trends twitter ads:

Promoted trends are the least well-known option of Twitter’s advertising arsenal. A promoted trend allows you to create a unique hashtag and begin a movement. We recommend using promoted trends if your marketing needs to fall somewhere between a short-term promotion and large-scale brand awareness. If you plan to run a sponsored event series like a summer concert tour, have partnered on a product launch, or are trying to create a viral movement, a unique hashtag can give this effort momentum to grow. The trick is making sure the campaign has true viral potential and is simple and catchy enough to get off the ground.

 

If you’d like to experiment with Twitter advertising but aren’t sure how your marketing strategy fits into the Twitterverse, we are here to help. Learn how Twitter will benefit your social media initiatives.

Why your business can’t live without brand guidelines

When staring down your marketing “to-do” list, creating a brand guide might not immediately rank in your top five. We know you have market research to conduct, websites to optimize, leads to cultivate, and content marketing strategy to perfect. The ROI on traditional marketing tasks is far easier to track than the nebulous benefits of a brand style guide and, let’s face it, you’re busy. But did you know that creating brand guidelines is one of the key ingredients of business success? Whether you’re a startup, a small-medium sized business, or a large corporation, you can’t afford to skip creating a comprehensive brand positioning document. Here’s why.

Work less, get recognized more:

In a blind branding test in which consumers were asked to name brands based on their company colors alone, branding powerhouses such as Google and McDonald’s were easily identified at a 100% success rate without their logos. Some logos, such as Coca-Cola and Harvard Business School, are so easily recognized on the global scale that artistic rights to the artwork are estimated in the millions. Each. Clear, consistent branding helps customers recognize your brand using visual cues so that certain symbols, colors, or imagery become synonymous with your products. As these visual cues build positive association between your brand and purchase triggers, your marketing department will need to work less (and spend less) to stay at the top of your customers’ minds. After all, seeing that signature Coca-Cola red is enough to inspire sales at most movie theaters. A brand guide or brand guidelines allow your organization to define what these cues will be and ensure they are consistently featured in marketing collateral.

A brand guide is a shared language:

A comprehensive brand guide also creates a shared language across all marketing channels so your team members can create emails, print ads, event marketing banners, and website content with ease. Having brand guidelines with all the design colors, fonts, tone, and information architecture guideline can reduce editing and churn during the internal production process, and get consistent collateral into market faster so you can – you guessed it – work less and get recognized more. Even the smallest teams will benefit from clear guidelines around when to use certain headlines, how to position text, and where and how a logo may be used. It turns the most tedious elements of design into a straightforward process, so your creative minds can spend less time double checking whether they are using the right shade of blue and more time dreaming up your next ADDY Award-winning campaign. 

Brand positioning within your corporate culture:

Branding is also a translation of your corporate culture. For example, Google executives once admitted they chose the brand’s bold, primary colors because they wanted to build an organization around simplicity. They stripped away any unnecessary visual elements so this simplicity would shine. No frills, just results. Those same colors evoke the playful (sometimes childlike) nature of their corporate headquarters and echo a no frills, results-oriented work culture. The bright red, blue, and yellow of their logo would be as appropriate in a classroom or art studio as they are in the creative, casual work rooms and collaborative spaces inside Google offices. In this way, their branding choices reflect both their business principles and their corporate culture, setting a tone for customers, employees, and investors. Go ahead, ask yourself what your brand guide might say about your culture and what you’re telling your prospective customers or investors every time you release a new ad.

Aid onboarding with brand guidelines:

Having a clear correlation between brand guidelines and corporate culture not only helps external parties understand your unique value proposition, but allows employees to self-select and assimilate to how your organization works with ease. Brand guidelines allow new team members to get to work faster because they understand the expectations around their work, digest the tone you hope to set both in and outside the office, and live your brand’s mission and vision statement rather than just working on it.

Brand guidelines are pivotal for business success because they allow each and every one of your employees to become an expert in your brand positioning. For ideas on how to refine your branding or create your first brand style guide, check out our work for more information on how we’ve helped other companies transform.

UVP is the new marketing MVP: Supercharge your value proposition

Your unique value proposition or “UVP” is the new marketing MVP and calling card of your business. Think of it is as your three-second elevator pitch. This one-sentence mission statement should clearly set the tone for your brand positioning and prime prospective customers to learn more. We might even go so far as to say that it’s the single most important piece of content on your website.

Your unique value proposition answers at least one critical question for your customers, such as: what are you solving for them? How is your brand different from others? Or why should they be interested? Although every product marketing manager and production specialist on your team should be able to clearly explain your unique value proposition, brand positioning is first and foremost for your customers, so get painfully narrow on what makes your product different in their eyes.

To craft a unique value proposition that really shines, pick one of these four angles to build from. 

EXPLAIN YOUR UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION:

If you’ve never thought about your UVP before, this is the perfect place to start. Find an elegant, clear way to state exactly what your product is about and get it in front of your prospects. For example, new pet-sitting startup DogVacay gets directly to the point. Their tag line, “Find a loving dog sitter. Search thousands of trusted, insured pet sitters near you,” explains what their product offers in under 12 words. This framing is especially useful if you have a complicated product because it forces you to get to the heart of why your product is valuable. Consider a more complex product such as Givling, a crowdfunded game site that gives players the chance to win money while paying off other peoples’ student loan debts. Recipients and donors don’t necessarily need to be players, so their brand positioning has the potential to become convoluted if the UVP isn’t crystal clear. Givling answers the fundamental “what” by leading with, “Play Trivia. End student debt. Win cash.” There is no question about what you can do on their site no matter who you are or why you’re visiting. In other words, a perfect UVP. 

USE THE K.I.S.S. MODEL:

K.I.S.S.: Keep it simple, silly. Your unique value proposition doesn’t need to be elaborate to be effective. Some of the most poignant brand positioning statements are just a few words long. CrowdTunes, a digital jukebox, has an amazingly simple, yet powerful value proposition. They invite users to “roll in and rock out.” The pithy, straightforward call to action captures both the tone and appeal of the brand. HubSpot, similarly, doesn’t get into the nitty gritty. They promise to “grow your business,” and trust that this hook is enough to entice visitors to delve deeper into their world of inbound marketing support. As marketers, we sometimes get so excited about our products that we feel the need to explain every feature and benefit in our unique value proposition. Resist the temptation and boil your UVP down to the single most important thing your customers care about and lead with that. Short, sweet, and to the point. 

THE EMOTIONAL APPEAL:

For brands that offer more elective – rather than utilitarian – products, consider making an emotional appeal. Think: luxury, lifestyle, and hospitality brands. Norwegian Cruise Line is an amazing testament to how this type of brand positioning can work. Each of their cruise offerings leads with a reminder of what it means to be a “Norwegian:” Norwegians know their Saints (for their island itineraries), Norwegians chase the sun (in Mexico), Norwegians shop like mavens (referencing their onboard promenades). Their unique value proposition allows customers to project themselves into the brand’s lifestyle and imagine themselves as an insider. Resort clothing line Lou & Gray takes a similar approach. They remind customers to “get out there, our clothes are just along for the ride.” In each of these instances, the customer’s emotional journey is at the center of the UVP rather than the product itself. This can be a powerful persuasive tool to boost the perceived value of more expensive products. 

LEVERAGE SOCIAL PROOF:

On the flip side, pragmatic products such as insurance, security, or business tools, can benefit tremendously from social proof. Framing your unique value proposition around statistics adds credibility to your brand and helps position your product against the competition. Web conferencing software GoToMeeting’s UVP lets customers know that “millions of businesses rely on GoToMeeting.” While Nationwide Insurance boasts that “95% of members recommend Nationwide car insurance.” While neither of these statements necessarily explains what the product does (because prospects probably already know), they do answer critical customer questions about their brand differentiators and why the product is valuable. Social proof can augment UVP’s in mature markets or for products where customers are extremely price sensitive.

No matter how you choose to frame your UVP, the important thing is that your customers get something from your positioning statement. A good UVP can mean the difference between an engaged audience and blending in with the clutter, so take time to craft yours with care.

Contact us for more ideas on how to tease out your brand’s UVP.

How buyer personas now drive inbound marketing leads

The art of inbound marketing lets customers find you rather than spending time, energy and money soliciting qualified (and sometimes unqualified) leads. This marketing strategy is the quintessential manifestation of fishing where the fish are. In plain words, you simply place your product in the path of your potential customers and let them do the work for you.
Okay, we might be exaggerating a little here. For inbound marketing to successfully attract value able customers, you need to know exactly where to place your product and ensure its perceived value appeals to your prospective customers. Don’t worry, inbound marketing won’t put you out of a job … it’ll just make yours a whole lot easier.

So, you may be asking yourself: What is a buyer persona, anyway? We’re glad you asked.

Buyer personas 101:

A buyer persona is a snapshot into your ideal customer’s psyche. Typically, a product may have several personas based on different customer archetypes that successfully engage with your brand. Many companies create a persona profile – complete with name, photo, educational background lifestyle, profession, and business needs. This makes it easy for marketers to role play or think as their buyer persona when discussing how to develop a marketing strategy or what content might resonate with them most.

How do you create a buyer persona?

To create a buyer persona, the recipe is simple. Data, data, and more data. Get your hands on as much qualitative and quantitative research about your customers as possible. Ask customers why they cancel their subscriptions, poll customers leaving your website, set up a focus group, or reach out over social media to gather sound bites and directional insight into your customer’s pain points and needs. On the flip side, consider investing in third party research, set up AB or multi-variate tests, and do some data mining to gather information about your buyers’ behavior.

When you translate all this data into a buyer persona, you’ll find “ah ha” moments that can lead to prototyping and commercial innovation that will lead to success. Anyone can create a buyer persona, but seasoned marketing strategists and agencies and product managers are highly adept at this type of task.

How does my persona drive inbound marketing?

Once you have several buyer personas, you can use them to tailor your inbound marketing efforts. Paste your personas onto poser board and bring them into meetings. Let someone role play as a persona each session to generate customer-centric ideas. Give each persona to a marketer and have them research where they surf online, how they behave, and where they are shopping so you can advertise in those naturally aligned spaces.

Having a tight buyer persona not only lets you think like your customer (and deliver better marketing content), but helps you frame where your inbound marketing efforts will be most effective. The results are more personalized and authentic marketing and a better customer-product fit. This leads to happier customers, greater customer lifetime value, and a bigger bottom line. In other words, everyone wins.

3 resort marketing tips that deliver results fast

As summer vacations begin getting planned, warm weather inspires people to seek warmer waters, and tourism season kicks into full swing, now is a great time to parter with a Florida digital marketing agency to supercharge your resort marketing strategy. Get ahead of your competition by harnessing these three great resort marketing tips this season.

1. Landing page strategy:

When we say “landing page strategy,” the glamor of event marketing campaigns and sultry print ads may not come to your mind, but your digital marketing agency will probably feel differently. In light of Google’s recent commitment to reduce the appearance of AdWords advertisements in search results, paid digital media – and the landing pages that go with them – will become an increasingly important trend for 2016 and 2017. By eliminating advertisements from the right rail of search results, your landing page (and only three other paid results) have the opportunity to pop up above the fold on search queries, immediately followed by highly relevant organic results.

The goal of Google’s change was to provide searchers with more relevant information. The result is that your landing page will become far more important to seal the deal for prospective guests. Your digital marketing agency can craft a landing page that yields highly qualified leads and draws customers to the top of the marketing funnel. And here’s an extra resort marketing tip for free: better leads means better business.

2. Partnerships and sweepstakes:

Any Florida digital marketing agency worth its salt knows that partnerships and sweepstakes can revolutionize your resort marketing strategy. Offering a free stay, which can then be advertised via partner websites, email distribution lists, and mailers is a low cost in-kind exchange that often yields a gold mine of potential customer data. While this seems obvious, the main resort marketing tip and key to a successful sweepstakes or partnership is to align with other brands that naturally appeal to your customers. If you partner with brands that aren’t closely aligned or that use broad, rather than narrow, targeting methodology, your lead quality will dip (after all, people will do anything for a free stay at your resort, right?).

Having a digital marketing agency that can fine tune your partnerships and break down the cost benefit analysis of what you’re offering for the sweepstakes, tackle any legal restrictions, and execute strategy reduces legwork on your end so you can focus on cultivating your resulting prospects.

3. Enjoy the halo effect:

Resort marketing benefits from many of the same marketing psychology principles as luxury or lifestyle brands. Successful resort marketing helps prospective guests see themselves at your resort and imagine a lifestyle that goes with it. For this reason, endorsements can be a powerful tool. Chances are that your digital marketing agency already has relationships with a variety of local, national, or international tastemakers, celebrities, thought leaders, and industry names that can add a touch of excitement, authenticity, or luxury to your resort branding.

Your agency will help you identify mutually beneficial opportunities to broker an endorsement. These relationships could be as small as a media mention or as elaborate as celebrity-hosted fitness classes and events. Ideally, both you and your endorser will benefit from this relationship. You’ll enjoy a halo effect of positive association, while your endorser may want increased press exposure, vacation perks, or some form of compensation. Your agency will help balance these needs so everyone wins.

Resort marketing should be as fun and fabulous as the resort experience itself, so use these tips to breathe life into your traditional marketing campaigns and tried-and-tested lead generation efforts. These resort marketing tips not only help deliver results but break through the marketing clutter that can be distracting for your audience.