The Marketing Essentials Toolkit

by: Charles Gaiennie on

If you build or repair anything, you know the value of having just the right tool. And while having a fancy specialty tool is cool, there is simply no replacement for the requisite hammer, saw and wrench. It's the same with marketing. We love the cool tools but there are some things that no company can do without.

Have a look ...

1. A logo. Whether it is basic text such as in Sears, Home Depot or Microsoft, or designed symbol such as in Nike, Starbucks or Volkswagen, you simply must have a logo. In creating the logo, please - for our sake and the sake of the world at large - make it high contrast, easy-to-read in two seconds or less and reasonably uncomplicated. Once you've created it, leave it alone for a very long time so the market can actually begin to associate the logo with you and what you do. Finally, use it consistently and persistently in everything you do.

2. A website. Whether it's a single page or whether it allows the world to know everything there is to know about you, you simply must have a website. And while we understand that a website is a very techie-feeling thing, please do not seek out an IT person or company to build or maintain it. With apologies to our technical friends, a website should be open and easy for you to manage. After all, the user could care less about Java script or CSS. They really just want to hear from and about you. Content is what they care about, not technology.

3. Email. You simply have to have one. And please use your web address (called a domain) rather than yourname@msn.com or yourname@yahoo.com. Sure they work, but they just aren't as professional as using your own name. By not communicating using your own domain, you give up the opportunity to keep your name in front of people. Keep in mind, however, that a domain and a website, while related, are two separate processes.

4. Business cards.  Once you have your logo, your website and your email using your own domain, get some business cards. And avoid cheesy at all cost. As with any design, less is more. Don't cram the card with every possible bit of information. Make your logo dominant, add your name, possibly your title, definitely your office phone number and even your cell phone number, your email address and your website address. Unless it's critical information, you can often leave off the address and the fax number. Get at least 100 cards and give them away at every opportunity.

5. A basic brochure. Avoid writing a book. Give enough information for the reader to understand what you do but set it up so they call you or go to your website to get the details. Make it visually strong with great images and minimal text. Please stay away from tri-folds. They are so ordinary and boring and are easily hidden in the average stack of mail. We love oversize pieces, custom cuts or custom folds.  Even a double-sided, non-folding brochure can be effective. Give it a try.

You have to respect the ad agency that recommended the AFLAC duck.

by: Charles Gaiennie on

This week we had sales reps from AFLAC stop in to share the benefits of their insurance plans for our growing company. They were professional and very helpful, and we may take a look at their products. Please don't tell them this, but what really stood out to me during their presentation was that big, white duck.


As they flipped through their presentation binder I just couldn't help but focus on the duck — that silly bird that has become the iconic symbol of AFLAC. While the duck is now well established as the symbol of the company, as a marketing guy who regularly makes recommendations on company branding, it made me reflect on the courage and vision of the agency that stood up before the executive management of AFLAC to make a recommendation of a duck  as the brand in an industry known for its conservatism and status-quo mentality.


Here's the picture in my mind...


Ad agency: "Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time today as we set the course for what will be the public identity for your company."


(stone face stares)


Ad agency continues: "In developing your new brand, we have carefully considered the leadership position that AFLAC has earned in the market and the vision of its executives who have brought us to this moment."


(nods of self-approval).


Ad agency readies for the big moment: "And now, your new brand!"


(pulls the drape off the easel to reveal - a duck)



(stunned silence)


Did it go down like this?  Who knows?  But the point is that suggesting a duck as the leading image of an insurance company had to take guts.


This leads me to the observation that in branding and communications the message is ultimately not about you but rather what the market remembers about you. For AFLAC, we are pretty sure that a duck has little to do with the insurance industry. Had the ad agency followed the safe route, AFLAC would likely be an also-ran insurance company doing business as American Family Life Insurance of Columbus (pardon the yawn). Instead, they are busy touting their climb to the 125th spot on the Fortune 500. Maybe the duck was a good idea after all.


So when it comes to branding, have a little backbone. You just never know where it might lead you.

When the box is as exciting as its contents

by: Charles Gaiennie on

Look, we know it's spring but for a moment, let's pretend it's Christmas time. Let's pretend that we are standing in front of a beautiful Christmas tree surrounded by beautifully wrapped presents. While all of the presents are wonderful, one really stands out. It's larger than the rest. The paper is embossed and catches the lights from the tree. There is a large, hand-tied bow on top and a big gift tag dangling from the ribbon. How exciting!

Can't you just see this gift in your mind's eye? It's impressive isn't it? You can't stop thinking about it, right? You can hardly wait to open it to see what's inside.

Now, back to reality. Wouldn't it be cool if your customers and prospects felt that way when they saw your advertisements, your store displays, your social media and your website? It can happen, but as with our Christmas present, generating that kind of excitement lies in the details.

Here's a real-live example of a case where generating excitement about opening the package was crucial ...

Our firm is interested in supporting the promotion of our wonderful Louisiana seafood, especially as it relates to changing misunderstandings about how last year's oil spill affected - or didn't affect - the quality, safety and availability of our seafood. There are organizations right now are seeking help from companies like ours to change perceptions and restore demand for Louisiana seafood. We just recently submitted a proposal to one such organization.

We knew going in that there would be others who were very qualified to help in this project, so we knew that what we did had to be special. We knew the organization reviewing the proposals would have dozens of responses and lots to consider. They would, in effect, be standing in front of our figurative Christmas tree looking at dozens of packages to be opened. Our goal was to make sure that our package stood out from the rest and that from across the room, they could see it and wonder what lay inside.

Here's what we did ...

The Box
- No ordinary box would do for this proposal! Since the organization was all about seafood, the box we used to pack and ship our proposal was an actual seafood packing box. It was white, wax coated and stamped with the message "Fresh Seafood" right on the box. Anyone in the seafood industry would recognize it immediately as being the real deal.

The Label
- As if the box were not enough, we created our own label to look like something that would come with fresh seafood. But rather than the expected "Perishable, fresh seafood inside," ours read: "Perishable, fresh ideas inside." We also added our own Certified Cajun label to let them know that we were the real deal in matters of all things Louisiana.

Inside the Box
- Our proposals were the main content of the box. But these were no ordinary proposals. No, these were vacuum sealed in plastic just as you would find fresh packed shrimp or crawfish. Not only was this a visual tie-in to seafood, it also protected our proposals from the real ice packs we used to pack the box - a not-so-subtle differentiation from hopefully anything else that the organization received.

Other Stuff
- Just to make the point, the box also was filled with a good supply of plastic seafood just in case our messaging was somehow overlooked.

The Proposal
- All of the clever packaging in the world is pointless if there is no substance to the product. Our proposal was deeply designed, an easy read but chock full of the information the organization asked  for.

Did we succeed? We think we did, at least in getting our package noticed. We know this because when it was delivered, the recipient did what we hoped he would: he opened it immediately and touched the ice packs, and he commented - albeit generically - on the presentation. 

Not a bad start, and it all began with the package.




Consistency

by: Charles Gaiennie on

Consistency


How do you like our use of different colors in the title of this week's Marketing Minute? Annoying, isn't it? Possibly even bordering on obnoxious. But in true Marketing Minute style we are using eleven different colors to draw your attention to the absolutely essential requirement of consistency in your branding, marketing and advertising.

Here's why...

In marketing, you are constantly competing for space in the minds and hearts of your market. This is true whether you are Coca-Cola or Slop-E-Joe's Barbecue Shack. (we just made that name up so apologies is there really is a Slop-E-Joe's out there somewhere) Success in gaining ground in that mind and heart space starts by making it ridiculously simple for someone to recognize you immediately whenever and wherever they encounter your brand.

Here are three rules to guide you.

Rule 1 - create a brand that is clear, simple and recognizable.
Rule 2 - don't allow your latest flight of creative fancy to mess up a perfectly good brand.
Rule 3 - use the un-messed-up brand with perfect consistency as to colors, font styles, images and tag phrases every time, all the time.

By following these three important rules, you are avoiding creating confusion about your brand in a marketplace where confusion is already the norm.

So whatever you do, when it comes to your marketing, advertising and branding,

Stay Consistent! :)


Flashing your customers

by: Charles Gaiennie on

Everyone loves a pretty picture. The same is true with websites. Everyone loves a web that moves and rotates and does interesting things when the mouse hovers over something on the site. Sites in this category typically are built with a technology called Flash. Flash sites are especially popular with creative types like bands and photographers where image is everything. And while they are very pretty, we never recommend a total Flash site for any serious business application of a website. Here's why...

Flash is essentially a picture, not text. Why should you care? The reasons are many but the primary ones are these: indexing or the ability of search engines to find your site, the need to have Flash player installed on the computer that is viewing the site, troubles rendering the site where the viewer has slow bandwidth and the technical expertise required to update a Flash site. Let’s take each one in turn.

Building a site is one thing. Having your site found and viewed is another matter entirely. Other than someone knowing your exact website URL, most people who are looking for something on the web will Google a name or keyword to find what they are looking for. What this means is that if you are ever to be found by a keyword search, you must have – get ready for it – WORDS on your site. Flash, you’ll recall, is not words but a picture and while there are ways to add captions and tags to a picture, you are creating a barrier to viewers who are trying to find you by creating a picture-based website.

Also, if you’ve ever been to a site and been greeted with a blank page but for a message such as “download Flash plugin” or something similar, what you are seeing is evidence that Flash requires that something be installed on the viewer’s computer. While most up-to-date PCs will have it already installed, that is not always the case. Downloading the plugin is easy and free but in our opinion, why create one more barrier between you and your clients and prospects?

Another rub with Flash is the inherent issue of pictures requiring more internet bandwidth and computing horsepower to view than text. Again, many current configurations of internet and PCs blow right through this to allow nearly any size image to be viewed, but this is not always the case. Also, if the viewer is in a business setting, the company may prohibit images from coming through their firewalls or create other barriers to the images being rendered.

The final trick of Flash is that in order for you to update a Flash-based site, you must own and know how to use Adobe Flash – not the freeware reader but the actual fully-licensed program. Not that it’s impossible to learn, but just to let you know that we have college-trained professionals using Flash and they spend a good deal of time keeping up with the changes and evolution of the product. Again, one more layer of complexity that really does not have to exist.

Are we saying don’t build a Flash-based site? Absolutely not. What we are saying is consider deeply the purpose of creating your website. For most of us, our websites are places where we encourage interaction with our markets. They are places where information is ideally updated frequently. The more barriers and risks we build into our sites, the less likely it is that they will yield good things for our companies.

So before you expose yourself to flashing your customers, consider all that is involved.

Is your marketing lost in translation?

by: Charles Gaiennie on

Couple of questions for you...

Parlez vous Francais? Translated: Do you speak French?
Sprechen sie Deutsch? Translated:  Do you speak German?
Habla Espanol? Translated: Do you speak Spanish?
Pantone, eps, segementation, ROI?  Translated:  Do you speak Marketing?

Here's the point. Marketing is all about sharing a message that your audience understands and hopefully responds to.  That cannot happen if you can't at a minimum speak the language. In marketing, the language we use is made up of many nuances that are not easily understood unless it's something you do everyday. It's not that you can't eventually learn the language, its just that for most businesses, it is not the reason they get up in the morning. For us, it is exactly the reason we get up in the morning and it occupies our minds often well into the night.

But not to worry. Here at The W.L. Gaiennie Company we are all about sharing knowledge and have prepared a first primer in the language of marketing. So let's get started and please repeat after me...

Segmentation. A recognition that your market is not made up of one type of customer and that using a single message to reach out to everyone rarely works very well.

Return On Investment. Something you probably didn't consider when spending money on marketing and advertising that leads to a nagging feeling that your marketing dollars are mostly going down the drain.

Pantone. Very specific numerical descriptions of the colors used in your logo and brand that you share with the printer to make sure that the signs you just ordered are actually the exact blue in your logo rather than some weird shade of violet.

To continue the lesson and make sure that your marketing never again gets lost in translation, simply give us call at 985-446-6088 or complete our request for help form.

May we have your permission, please?

by: Charles Gaiennie on

In this week’s Marketing Minute, we address the issue of permission-based marketing and why it is so important to gain permission from your customers and prospects before you communicate with them. It is an important process since permission is often the difference between growing a relationship or abruptly and permanently closing that relationship off.

Let’s start with a definition of permission. For marketing purposes it means that someone has either explicitly asked you to communicate with them or it can be reasonably presumed that they are open to communicating with you.

Explicit permission comes in many forms but here are a few of the more common ones. A customer completes a satisfaction survey, signs up for your newsletter on your website or calls or emails you directly for a brochure, a quote or for information about your products or services. The common thread here is that they have initiated the contact from their side with the expectation that you will follow up. The second form of permission is where it can be reasonably implied that contact is OK. This also comes in many forms, such as someone hands you their business card at a meeting or trade show, the person has done business with you in the past or is actively using your products or services now, there is some established relationship between you and the person such as you serve on committee together or know each other in a way where they clearly know you and what you do. Basically, this is a group of permission givers that while they have not explicitly asked for you to send them information, they at least know who you are and can easily identify who you are when you reach out to them.

With this understanding of permission in hand, let’s move on to why this permission thing is so important.

Many people assume that marketing seems to be all about them, what they sell and do. In reality, however, marketing done well is all about someone else – your customers and prospects and what they want and what they need. When you’ve grasped this concept, you begin to understand where this permission thing fits in. In gaining permission before you communicate, you immediately make the statement that your message, and by extension your products and services, are all about fulfilling someone else’s need, not just your own. And, WOW, what a powerful message that can be. In fact, marketing that does not follow these rules is generally tagged by the market with phrases such as “junk mail” or “spam,” not descriptions you want applied to your message, we’d guess.

The Marketing Minute is actually an example of permission-based marketing. Everyone who receives this fits into at least one of the two categories we mentioned. But even with the permission in place, we still respect the right of all our contacts to not receive this message by immediately presenting the option to unsubscribe.

If you are interested in learning more about permission-based marketing, give us a call at 985.446.6088 or complete our contact form now. There is also a great summary of permission-based marketing you can download now free from our email technology partner, Constant Contact. Oh, and by the way, when you call or complete the form, we’d like to thank you for giving us permission to contact you.

© Copyright The W.L. Gaiennie Company 2016