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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Better and Faster
As a marketer, I'm approached on a regular basis to review books, products, and ideas from some well know entrepreneurs as well as young adults hoping to make a change in a particular niche or industry.  Unfortunately, finding a real gem can be far and few between.  The good news is that every so often, I do find something that changes the game, elevates my own thinking, and is literally too good to share.

Better and Faster by Jeremy Gutsche is the latest find that I couldn't put down.  Jeremy is the CEO of and an amazing entrepreneur and author.  This book explores the genesis of creative ideas - the best creative ideas, and provides insight into how they happen.  The best part is that by reading this guide, it can make YOU better in the area of discovery, innovating faster and better, and recognizing your full potential.

The book explores neurological traps that are holding you back.  As I've always said, "Change your thinking change your life!"  It also reveals a number of ways to innovate more quickly which you've likely never considered.  Jeremy calls his six patters of opportunity: convergence, divergence, cyclicality, redirection, reduction, and acceleration. 

These finding are based on real data.  In fact, they studied more than 250,000 ideas through the audience of more than 100,000,000 individuals to discover what causes opportunity.  Wouldn't you like to know where to find true opportunity and how to use it for personal and professional development?  Of course you would. That's why this book is such a valuable resource. It's also why more than 300 brands rely on Jeremy's method to accelerate innovation.

I strongly encourage you to "be in the know".  Connect with Jeremy and start innovating.  Jeremy has offered readers of the Marketing Blog exclusive access to content which you can find by clicking here.  Enjoy the content and be sure to pick up Jeremy Gutsche's book on Amazon.  It's content you can't innovate without.

Monday, October 13, 2014

In theory, marketing is about the science that builds brands, but in practice, it is often something simpler—getting the packaging right. In a grocery store, a customer is unlikely to be aware of a company’s latest promotional events, but he or she will be acutely aware if the company’s product appears to be attractive and affordable as it sits on the shelf.

Sometimes marketing is more about humble common sense than exciting theories about emerging trends. Consumer interests are often stirred by simple questions.

Describing A Product

Seth Godin once described marketing as “a contest for people’s attention.” Good packaging can make it easier to win that contest.

The questions consumers have about the value of a product on a shelf can often be answered by the package the product is in.

Packaging is much more than putting products in the right-size box and sticking on a label. Packaging should not be underestimated. Sometimes good packaging may be responsible for millions of dollars in sales figures. You can get entrepreneurial and creative even in your use of cardboard boxes. In fact, it would be quite easy to develop a full semester’s worth of information about the best practices around highly-attractive packaging.

3 Common Features

Here are the common features behind good packaging.

1. The package protects the product. Before the product reaches the consumer, it passes through many hands and stops at many destinations as it travels by air, sea, or land to get to the store or the customer’s mailbox. Damaged products will not result in repeat business or referrals.

2. It should make a good impression. For instance, through the careful use of shapes, colors, images, and copy an ordinary box of crayons can fill a child with instant delight at the possibilities of art. Packaging has the power to excite the needs, interests, and desires of the buyer.

3. It should differentiate itself from products provided by competitors. It makes a difference to the consumer if their package comes in a plain cardboard box or one with a few design elements. For some products, plain boxes without printing will suffice—for example, it is a waste of money to have a colorful box for computer printing paper because customers are unlikely to get excited about reams of paper. For others, packaging is very important. For instance, in MLM shipments, consumers always look forward to their monthly shipment of health care products.

An Art and Science

Remember the words of SethGodin: marketing is “a contest for people’s attention.” Good packaging can make it easier to win that contest. In some ways, packaging is a science. Packages have to have the right blend of size, strength, and weight for product protection and reduced storage and distribution costs. Manufacturers are also able to offer direct printing and a choice of one color, two colors, or lots of colors. In other ways, packaging is a science. A box of cereals, for example, in an attractive design will outsell another brand of cereals on the shelf right next to it many times better even if the contents are similar. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

5 Creative Marketing Uses for Swag

Thursday, September 18, 2014

In theory, “swag” is a great way to get a brand or company out there. Receiving anything for free often leaves a memorable impression on consumers, regardless of whether the swag is in the form of a pen, t-shirt or memorable token. 

Marketing tactics lose their influence over time though. People get used to ignoring radio ads, billboards just become part of the blurry scenery, and Internet banner ads become something we avoid clicking. So is swag still a valid marketing tactic?

Just like social media, it depends on your audience. But overall, recent marketing tactics involving swag still make a big splash with consumers. Companies just have to use it in new remarkable ways.

Bookmarks Instead of Business Cards

Everyone has business cards, so how is your’s going to stand out? Get creative! A substitute in the form of a bookmark actually has a purpose beyond sitting in someone’s wallet. Big enough to cram whatever contact information you need, a bookmark contact card will also remind people of you and your business every time they open and close the book they are reading.

Stylish T-Shirts

T-shirts can be one of the most effective forms of swag, since people wear them around town and essentially become a low-cost source of effective advertising for a brand. T-shirts are certainly one of the costlier swag items to produce, though, so it’s important to use a genuinely good design. 

I’ve received t-shirt swag for a variety of reasons from purchasing products as a bonus, similar to what National Abrasives offers, to getting a well-designed t-shirt from Short Stack for talking about their brand in one of my previous articles. 

People may accept a free t-shirt, but they won’t wear it if it’s dull or ugly. Avoid basic white tees and go for something more visually appealing, with a relative fashion sense, instead; it’ll be costly, but worth it if designed properly.

Digital Content

Offering free “digital swag” - in the form of things like a free wallpaper, app, eBook, or digital coupon - usually costs little to nothing to produce, yet can still prove beneficial in exposing your brand. Offer digital swag via social media to increase your following on there, as well. Social media followers and free content often results in higher engagement.

The most important part of digital swag is it must offer real value to your consumer. 
Digital swag is an excellent investment because of its low cost production and high return on investment. Since it’s online, loyal customers and fanatic fans can share your swag and do the work of distribution for you.

Think Outside of Swag

Giving swag isn’t the only option. Take a lesson from the startup Medallia who at this year’s SXSW made a big brand impact by collecting everyone’s swag for the homeless. It was a unique idea that got a lot of media attention for the new company while also doing something good for those in need.

Care Packages

If you want to go all-out, create care packages with consumers’ well-being in mind. A small, brand-laden bag with items like a small water bottle, aspirin, and apple inside will be perceived as a healthy and welcome surprise by consumers, perhaps even elevating their mood. Care package swag may be time-consuming to create, but it will certainly make for a striking impression among consumers.

Swag certainly still works for businesses and brands as a great means of exposure. They can be effectively implemented into most business plans, as long as the swag is creative, interesting and fresh, as the five aforementioned examples are.

Special thanks to Ali Lawrence for today's post. Ali Lawrence is a content specialist for a web design company and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her articles have been published by Hot in Social Media, Yahoo! Small Business, and Business2Community.

Monday, June 23, 2014

If you thought the nostalgia marketing bubble was due to burst any time now, keep thinking. Reputable ad firms are producing more “remember this” campaigns than ever, leading some to wonder whether this is now a permanent part of advertising.

Recently, launched a series of ads featuring the original Dukes of Hazard stars--not the actors who played those characters in the big budget reboot from a few years back. AutoTrader’s campaign is fun and memorable, and plays off themes Dukes fans will love, but you have to wonder: Have we broken the industry?

Hollywood Syndrome

When was the last time a major film studio backed an exciting new franchise? Godzilla, Star Trek, Josie and her Pussycats…you’ve seen it all before. And it’s not just the pulp! Studio execs haven’t met a Shakespeare or Jane Austen rewrite or spin-off they couldn't throw a huge budget and a pile of A-listers at.

Be honest: Every time you see a new trailer for an upcoming I dream of Jeannie or Voltron reboot, you worry nothing new will ever be funded. Hollywood has dusted off and propped up all the good ol’ days favorites, and we all know it’s just plain laziness.

If we all agree this strategy is sub-par, why are we marketers relying on lazy appeals to the characters and products we outgrew decades ago?  

Nostalgia Sells

The short answer is nostalgia has worked pretty well for many brands. Sure, there are some disaster stories, like Nintendo’s downward spiral, propelled by appeals to people who love characters created 20 years ago.

For the most part, though, we love seeing our old favorites re-imagined and sporting the latest brands. Blame it on whatever suits you:

Wistful longing for better days
Regret over the loss of our 9/11 or pre American Idol innocence
Acceptance of  the fact Hannah-Barbera is relevant in any context

As long as our audience keeps rewarding our efforts to associate everything new with anything old, there seems to be no reason for the marketing industry to move on from lazy, cloying sentiment. We've become reliable machines, chugging along and doing the same things we've done for 20 years. 

Remember Creativity?

It’s a sign of the times that even consumers are nostalgic for the marketers of old. Remember when an ad manager would have responded to your pitch with: 

Dukes of Hazard? That’s been done twice already, show me something fresh!” Then he would have lit up a Marlboro, backhanded you in front of your peers and tossed back a fifth of gin.

Is it time to give creativity a second chance? If you’re afraid you’ve forgotten how to think outside the Nick at Night box, here are some exercises to jumpstart your marketing General Lee:

Read a book
Shaking up your mental imagery can kick-start your brainstorming. Some of the most original imagery and ideas are being published in literary fiction and graphic novels. Take a break from your favorite marketing blogs and HBO movies for a few nights and earn some paper cuts.

Resurrect the classics
Read up on marketing strategies people used prior to the television age to rediscover what used to get attention and influence people, and how to apply that to your audience. If you’re stuck in a reinvention rut, you can at least reinvent the classics.

Remember why you outgrew all that stuff you outgrew
Change the way you think about the things consumers are supposed to feel sentimental toward. You stopped watching Two and a Half Men and ThunderCats for very good reasons, and so did your audience. Just because it used to be popular doesn't mean you need to subject the next generation to it.

What we do isn't rocket science, it’s persuasion. Shouldn't we have more in our toolbox than The Jetsons and Apollo 13?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Scalp Med Reputation Management

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I've been working with a client for some time to improve their online reputation.  Some people don't feel that reputation matters, but it does.  One area that most companies ignore is what content is already available online for further promotion and optimization.  For example, the following URLs are on page 2 of Google results as of this post.  However, they should be moving to page one shortly due to their authority and focus:

In order to fully promote these URLs, we are adding new content, link building, and continuing to optimize based on the metrics we see through our search crawler tools.  The key is patience.  When you're dealing with a company like Scalp Med, or any online retailers, it's important to remember that slow and steady wins the race.

If results happen too quickly, then it's possible that Google will penalize the websites and page one rankings will never happen.  However, when you have sites with a positive page rank and a variety of other factors that indicate authority, it's just a matter of time until rankings improve and the assets you want on page one not only "arrive", but stay there over the long term.

I'll be updating everyone on our progress.  Over the next two months we will again be building quality links into the above mentioned sites to continue building authority. 

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