10 Quick Tips for a Successful Advertising Campaign

No matter how wonderful your company’s product or service is, if you don’t advertise, nobody will know about it.

The goal of any advertising program should be to cost-effectively reach the largest audience possible and attract new customers.

If done correctly, advertising can be a wonderful investment for your small business; if done poorly, advertising can become a huge money sink.

Despite what you see on “Mad Men,” advertising can be a tricky game.

Here are 10 important tips to help you plan, execute, and monitor your advertising program.

1. Go After Your Target Audience
An advertising campaign should be geared toward your niche market. It is a common mistake to create generic advertising materials/pieces that do not speak the language or grab the attention of your potential customers. Ask yourself what kind of customers you want to attract, and make sure your advertising speaks to them on a personal level.

2. Highlight Your Competitive Advantage
One of the keys to all advertising is to accentuate the pros of your company — those factors that give you your competitive edge. Too often advertising is clever but fails to sell the specific benefits of the featured product or service. Unless you highlight these benefits, your advertising delivers no value to potential customers.

3. Establish an Image (Brand)
You can recognize the McDonald’s arches while whizzing by on the highway. Likewise, there are plenty of products that you recognize by their packaging or logo. Image counts when it comes to advertising and promoting your business. Too many advertisers do not work to build a consistent image and beyond that – their ‘brand. They’re missing the chance to make an impression on prospective customers.

4. You Have to Spend Money to Make Money
There are ways to save money, but advertising is typically not the place to cut corners. Doing so will affect sales, and that affects the bottom line. Successful advertising may cost some money, but that is because it works.

5. Advertise in the Right Places
Your favorite magazine, radio station, social media network, or even television program might not be a favorite of your audience. Do some research about your target market to understand who they are and determine what they read, watch, and listen to. Then advertise in the appropriate media to ensure that you reach your target market.

6. Don’t Allow Your Budget to Run Your Advertising Campaign
Whether you budget $5,000 or $50,000 per month for advertising, you’ve made it very easy from a bookkeeping perspective. However, if like most businesses you have seasonal highs and lows, you are spending too much money advertising during down times and not enough when you want to attract customers. Too many entrepreneurs do not budget according to their seasonal advertising needs.

7. Diversify
It is all too common for business owners to choose the best place to advertise based on price and potential rate of returns, and then stop. As is the case with investing, you do not want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Spread your advertising dollars around by choosing a variety of suitable media for your audience and budget – based on research of your target market.

8. Don’t Try to Be Everything to Everyone
No product or service will appeal to everyone. Many business owners, including corporate executives, try to come up with ways to reach every market. Typically, this does not work. It can spell disaster for small businesses, who cannot afford to spread themselves too thin. Therefore, find your market and be everything you can be to that audience.

9. Test Your Advertising in Advance
If you have the time or money to invest in focus groups, you should test your advertising on other people. Do they understand and accept the message you are trying to convey? If not, get insight into how you could more effectively communicate your message. There are other less-expensive ways to test your ads as well — questionnaires, for example.

10. Monitor Your Advertising
It is very easy to ask new customers or clients where they heard about you. As simple as this is, many entrepreneurs do not bother to do so. It is advantageous to understand which elements of your advertising are most effective and which media offer the most profitable advertising opportunities for your company.

Be sure to contact Debbie @ Radsick Ad Group to help you plan & implement your next advertising campaign.




Social Media Marketing: Pros & Cons

Social Media has emerged as one of the most popular points on the technology spectrum.

The pros of social media marketing:
You can reach customers that traditional marketing misses.
You never know who will direct a friend to your blog, Facebook page or social bookmark post, so your potential for reeling in new leads is unlimited.
-You can build brand loyalty. Not only can you use social media to build your brand, you can use it to demonstrate your personality, interact with customers and show them that you care, which, in turn, breeds loyalty. Social media marketing can also boost your reputation and build relationships.
– You can learn how to improve your products and services. By encouraging open communication through public comments, you can learn what you can do to make your products and pitch more palatable.
– You can learn more about your target audience, not only by their comments but also by studying visitor analytics. This information can prove invaluable when planning other marketing campaigns such as direct mail, etc.
– Social media marketing is cost-efficient in comparison with other marketing methods, even if you hire a dedicated team or outsource your social media content needs.

The cons of social media marketing:
– Social media marketing places high demands on your time.
Content must be created, edited, approved and published; comments must be responded to and sites and pages must be maintained. You can alleviate these demands by outsourcing to a marketing professional.
– Social media marketing places high demands on your talent. It can be difficult to constantly come up with innovative exciting content that interests a variety of readers and, without relevance, your efforts will be wasted.
– You lose some control of your marketing efforts. Anything you publish is up for grabs, and others can easily criticize you. Publish backlash is the last thing you want your social media marketing to spawn, and without the ability to control comments or even what your own team is publishing you open yourself up for potential negatives.
– Your return on investment is delayed. Social media marketing can work to build relationships and brand loyalty, but it takes time and dedication. Social media marketing efforts are not likely to earn immense popularity overnight, so you must be willing to be in it for the long haul if you decide to launch a social media marketing campaign.

As you can see, social media marketing can bring many benefits and increased profits to any company with an online presence, but it comes with caveats.

If you’re considering launching a social media marketing campaign, make sure you understand all the pros and cons and have a robust plan in place.

Be sure to contact Debbie@Radsick Ad Group for a comprehensive, effective social media plan to increase your chances for social media success.



Does Your Business Need Rebranding?

Change is inevitable and a constant when you are part of an evolving business and marketplace.

In maintaining long-term success and staying relevant in today’s world of compelling brands, it is necessary to adapt to the ebb and flow – and rebranding is a necessary part of this evolution.

Even the most successful, well-established brands inevitably have to consider rebranding.

Rebranding means refreshing your business’s marketing presence, which typically will include: your logo, corporate identity package & all marketing materials, as well as all associated images and your business’s messaging – sometimes even your business name – to reposition your business in the marketplace.

Some questions to determine when you decide to rebrand:

1) Has your business brand expanded beyond its original scope?
Expansion and growth of a company often creates the need to re-focus on new or expanded ideas.

2) Is your business expanding into new markets?
If your company is growing into new geographical area/s, or simply trying to reach a new target audience, it is important to reinvent your brand to best connect with them and enhance the way you extend the company’s reach.

3) Has your company changed leadership/management?
Often a change in leadership or management brings a change in your business’s approach. This typically will require rebranding to align with those new values, vision, and philosophy.

4) How long has it been since your company has evaluated its image?
If the look and attitude of your brand is outdated, rebranding may be a necessary step that should address your business’s “personality” now and in the near future. Remember – rebranding is more than your logo design. Successful rebranding is the sum of all touch-points that come into contact with your current and potential target audience.

5) Are people aware of your business or what you do?
If your image and brand are no longer resonating with your audience, and you feel you may be losing your position in your field, it may be time to consider a branding change.

If you answered “yes” to any or all of the above questions – your business may be ready for a rebranding initiative.

Contact Radsick Ad Group for a complete assessment of your brand and your target market.


The Big Focus for Marketers: Customer Experience

In 2016 and beyond advertisers & marketers will need to focus on improving the customer experience and marketing in a digital-first world.

Emerging channels like mobile, video, and social media gain traction among brands and advertisers. Meanwhile, issues surrounding ad view-ability and ad blocking became even more apparent. The marketing and advertising community will need to find solutions that satisfy all parties: publishers, marketers and especially consumers.

Marketing trends shaping the future of marketing in 2016.

1. Digital has become a top priority for marketers while traditional channels lag

As digital ad spending soars and spending on traditional media stagnates, digital media will be an even greater focus for marketers in 2016.

Pervasive changing customer behaviors” have made it so that there has to be “a digital consideration to all marketing. Being able to tie specific revenue outcomes to digital marketing initiatives is helping “close the loop” for marketers, and has driven marketers to shift where they spend their budgets.

Digital ad spending worldwide makes up nearly 30% of the overall ad market. The growth is having a negative impact on traditional channels such as print and TV.

The growth in digital and the stagnation (or even decline) in traditional media underscores an overarching trend that has dominated the last few years: Consumers and marketers are favoring new media.

Digital marketing is essentially “mainstream – the mindset should be about marketing in the digital world where digital is the default.

2. Marketers will have to think mobile-first

Today, mobile is already one of the fastest-growing media channels in history – marketers will need to prioritize it if they want to reach consumers on their own terms.

In the past five years alone, mobile has gone from an emerging trend to the new normal. Nearly two-thirds of Americans own smartphones, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, and that number seems likely to only rise in the next year.

Mobile’s surge has redrawn marketing budgets and strategies, ushered in new ad products and platforms, and caused a fundamental change in the relationship between brands and consumers.

In the last 18-24 months in particular, marketers have taken a “much more purposeful approach to mobile,” and are increasingly looking at how it affects the user experience and adds value to their business.

The migration to mobile has left marketers pondering how to adapt their campaigns to different ad formats even within mobile, such as in-app ads. These ads accounted for 10% of mobile ad dollars last year, representing an 80% year-over-year increase.

In the year ahead, consumer usage and better ad formats will continue to drive ad dollars toward mobile. Mobile will provide marketers a unique environment to gather multi-dimensional consumer data that can be used to better personalize messages.

As the buying process and the marketing funnel continue to evolve, brands that leverage this data to improve their mobile marketing efforts should reap the rewards.

3. Social media is becoming a mainstream marketing channel

Social media companies from Facebook to Snapchat are looking to bulk up their innovative ad offerings and continue growing into major players for ad dollars.

According to the Pew Research Center – 65% of adults used social media in 2015, nearly ten times the number in 2005. Facebook and Instagram alone make up 1 billion and 400 million users, respectively, while the micro-blogging network Twitter has 320 million and Snapchat boasted about 100 million daily active users mid-way through 2015.

Now that the big social companies have built engaged audiences, many are turning their attention towards monetizing them and helping marketers reach their target audiences.

Of all the social networks, Facebook is the most popular for marketers, according to Socially Aware data. The world’s largest social network has worked in recent years to become mobile-first and build out a top-notch ad system. Facebook’s data and targeting tools allow marketers to personalize their social campaigns at scale.

Instagram which shares parent Facebook’s data and targeting system, has become a favorite among fashion and beauty brands with its visual format. With offerings such as “carousel ads,” the photo-sharing app wants to give brand marketers the space and tools to attract consumers.

Twitter is looking to find ways to help marketers leverage the social audience it has built. A handful of updates, including its Moments feature, events targeting, and conversion metrics, positions it as a powerful channel for real-time engagement.

Meanwhile, Snapchat, the go-to messaging app for many younger users, has started to offer marketers ad spots and targeting abilities. The app has set itself apart with its highly-coveted – and highly-engaged – millennial and Gen Z user base.

Marketers are taking note: In the last year, marketing perceptions about social media have changed, with social now seen as a place where marketers can find highly-targeted audiences and track their campaigns with granular metrics.

As social platforms build out their ad offerings – with a particular focus on mobile and video – marketers are shifting their budgets towards social, eMarketer projected that social media ad spend would reach $25.14 billion by the end of 2015, a 40.8% jump from the $17.85 billion spent in 2014. That figure is only expected to climb higher in the coming years, with $41 billion projected by 2017.

An ongoing challenge for marketers persists: linking social media campaigns to sales. Socially Aware reports that nearly half of all marketing executives have thus far been unable to measure social media spending’s impact on their business. As social companies continue to improve their ad and measurement offerings, expect brands to leverage these audiences in fresh ways.

4. Online video will see its star shine bright

Online video is quickly becoming a vital channel for many marketers.

It’s simply easier to consume and audiences tend to prefer it for its efficiency. It’s also, generally speaking, more effective as a storytelling medium, creating the inspiration that drives action.

A recent study by Cisco Systems shows consumer video will account for 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. Consumer viewing habits are moving away from TV and toward streaming video.

New tech innovations are expected to drive the momentum in that medium. Social companies like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are finding ways to integrate powerful video offerings into their ad systems. A few budding areas include auto-play videos, native in-app video ads and live streaming.

In the next year, we will see the live video, or the streaming experience, become more powerful. People have a much greater desire for community, in the moment, shared experiences.”

From smartphones and tablets to desktop computers, video views are up across devices, making it ever more important for marketers to construct multi-platform video ad strategies.

A November 2015 study by Yahoo found desktop video views grew 34% over the last year, while tablet and mobile video views grew even faster – 48% and 55%, respectively. Building an ad experience that connects with consumers across devices is key.

5. The bleeding edge in digital marketing begins with augmented reality

There has been a lot of chatter around augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies lately.

Developers are rolling out new technologies, and the talk is turning to how brands and marketers might be able to use them for advertising purposes. While AR and VR – AR’s pricier and more complex older sibling – may not be mainstream marketing channels just yet, they shouldn’t be overlooked.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees virtual reality as having a similar potential to smartphones.

In the future, AR technologies could help drum up attention around product launches and experiential events in a more tangible, complete manner. For example, Facebook already has several brands, including Disney and AT&T, advertising with its 360 degree video campaigns, which can be described as a VR “lite” experience for users. These immersive ads help marketers tell richer stories and give consumers new reasons to interact with the ads.

Virtual reality technology could also give B2B marketers a way to showcase large equipment to potential buyers at a lower cost. Think for example a Caterpillar tractor or GE jet engine – telling the “story” of a complex sale is a challenge when the buyer is unable to physically see or test the product. VR offers marketers a way to create a compelling visual story around big ticket items in a 3D environment, and can help create a virtual “try before you buy” experience.

Digital industrial giant GE has already used VR to transport clients on a tour of its oil and gas exploration and to events like the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

Marketers will be smart to keep an eye on AR and VR technologies and see if there are ways to test out their viability for their brands.

6. Brands and publishers are homing in on content marketing

With all the focus on the consumer experience, many brands today are looking to boost their content marketing strategies to build stronger relationships with their potential customers. As a result, content marketing will home in further on providing value to the consumer, as opposed to focusing primarily on the brand’s message.

Content marketing is how you rise above the noise – it is inherently consumer-centered.

It will be crucial for brands to make sure their messages are as native and personalized as possible.

One emerging area for brands looking to create content marketing is through user-generated content (UGC). Through UGC campaigns – in which consumers provide the content – brands can build loyalty among their target audiences while simultaneously figuring out what sort of messaging really resonates with them. By bolstering their campaigns with UGC, brands can tell original stories based in the consumer experience.

Gone are the days of million-dollar ad investments and one-directional marketing messages. User generated content will become more than just a buzzword, with organizations from large enterprises to ‘mom and pop’ small businesses seeking more effective and efficient ways to activate ‘brand advocates.'”

Beyond UGC, some see digital video and social media as the biggest game-changers in content marketing.

What sets social media apart is that it allows you to have a back and forth conversation with your customer, rather than brands just talking at consumers. If you’re doing it [content marketing on social] the right way, you’re inviting your consumers to post their own pictures and finished products from what they did with their purchase.

On the other side of the content marketing coin, publishers are increasingly taking branded content in-house and building out their own custom publishing units. Publishers see an opportunity to directly provide marketers with custom content, as they know their audiences best.

7. Data is essential to marketing

Data today has become essential to marketing, but marketers haven’t quite connected the dots between tracking data and then applying it.

Quantitative skills and inventive strategies make up the essence of the next generation of marketers.
The challenge is to sift through the data for meaningful signals that marketers can use.

While marketers have access to data like never before, much of the data is not available to them in a timely manner so it is very difficult for them to make data-driven decisions that truly have an impact on campaigns while they are being executed.

The solution lies in measurement. Standardizing measurement in a holistic and automated manner in the near term will make it possible for brands to make data-driven marketing decisions in real-time.

Real-time data management is the future of personalization. In order to achieve this, marketers need to leverage the most meaningful data specific to their audience. Filtering out meaningful signals may be a big task, but the end goal is clear: using the most pertinent data to better tailor marketing efforts to target audiences

In 2016, marketers will focus on smarter measurement and obtaining meaningful insights that will inform how marketers can better engage their target audiences.

8. Marketers look to boost personalization

Given the focus on customer experience and the potential for leveraging data, marketers should place a greater focus on personalized communications.

With the help of data, marketers who put highly-personalized campaigns in motion will be able to drive better results. The benefits of personalization include higher response and conversion rates, brand loyalty and repeat customers, amplified reach and increased relevance with today’s shoppers.

Consumers that are given a reason to share their personal information are often willing to do so, but they expect to see tangible benefits, such as tailored promotions, in return.

The challenge is that marketers’ perceptions of their personalization strategies don’t match the reality. Despite marketers’ best efforts to personalize their messaging, they often seem to fall short with consumers.

What’s missing is a more intimate understanding of the customer’s current needs, which comes from smarter measurements of existing data. With this information, marketers can better personalize their messages to customers and provide them with a better experience. Through personalization, brands have the opportunity to build brand loyalty and boost engagement.

With an eye on repairing the consumer-advertiser relationship, which needs to take priority in the year ahead, “a balance needs to be struck between sustainability and providing relevant and helpful advertising to the consumer,” DMA’s O’Keefe said. “The consumer may need to be willing to have ads appear in their feeds without ad blockers, but the onus is on publishers and marketers [to fix this].”

9. Smart marketers will focus on the consumer experience

The old adage goes, “the consumer is always right.” And with the rise of ad blocking, it is clear that there is still a disconnect between marketers and their audiences. The wide availability of information and resources makes it even harder for marketers to reach target audiences and easier for consumers to move onto the next best option.

Customer experience is that last durable way to build loyalty and advocacy with consumers. The perspective should be exclusively “how you serve customer needs, but only as they translate value to the business – meaning there needs to be a value-add on both ends of the transaction.

The marketing view should be from the outside in, rather than inside out.

Marketers should think about what consumers need and what they want to hear. This will position brands to better connect with consumers in the moments that matter most, he added. The customer experience should be looked at as “an opportunity to add convenience and reduce friction, while innovating your business model.

2016 will need to be the year of truly meaningful creative if brands want to reach their consumers in a way that resonates. Campaigns will need to be designed with a specific target individual and device in mind, and ads will have to contain tailored messages. As technology evolves, hyper-local targeting will also be necessary for activating specific audiences.

It’s time to say goodbye to one-size-fits-all creative.

Contact Radsick Ad Group for assistance with marketing your business to ensure the best customer experience.







10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.

It’s vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and — perhaps most importantly — your bottom line.

1. The Law of Listening
Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.

2. The Law of Focus
It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.

3. The Law of Quality
Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.

4. The Law of Patience
Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.

5. The Law of Compounding
If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.

This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.

6. The Law of Influence
Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.

If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.

7. The Law of Value
If you spend all your time on the social Web directly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

8. The Law of Acknowledgment
You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you.

9. The Law of Accessibility
Don’t publish your content and then disappear. Be available to your audience. That means you need to consistently publish content and participate in conversations. Followers online can be fickle and they won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.

10. The Law of Reciprocity
You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.


What is the difference between marketing & branding?

In a recent conversation with a very senior person at a financial institution my colleague was told,
“I think private wealth managers will have a hard time seeing the value of branding—they see marketing as a cost center, not a driver of sales.”

Hold it!

How did we go from branding to marketing in one sentence like that?

What is marketing? What is branding How do they differ?

There is a spectrum of opinions here, but in my view, marketing is actively promoting a product or service. It’s a push tactic. It’s pushing out a message to get sales results: “Buy our product because it’s better than theirs.” (Or because it’s cool, or because this celebrity likes it, or because you have this problem and this thing will fix it, etc.) This is oversimplification, but that’s it in a nutshell.

This is not branding.

Branding should both precede and underlie any marketing effort. Branding is not push, but pull. Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not.

A brand will help encourage someone to buy a product, and it directly supports whatever sales or marketing activities are in play, but the brand does not explicitly say “buy me.” Instead, it says “This is what I am. This is why I exist. If you agree, if you like me, you can buy me, support me, and recommend me to your friends.”

Branding is strategic.
Marketing is tactical.

Marketing may contribute to a brand, but the brand is bigger than any particular marketing effort. The brand is what remains after the marketing has swept through the room. It’s what sticks in your mind associated with a product, service, or organization—whether or not, at that particular moment, you bought or did not buy.

The brand is ultimately what determines if you will become a loyal customer or not. The marketing may convince you to buy a particular Toyota, and maybe it’s the first foreign car you ever owned, but it is the brand that will determine if you will only buy Toyotas for the rest of your life.

The brand is built from many things.

Very important among these things is the lived experience of the brand. Did that car deliver on its brand promise of reliability? Did the maker continue to uphold the quality standards that made them what they are? Did the sales guy or the service center mechanic know what they were talking about?

Marketing unearths and activates buyers.
Branding makes loyal customers, advocates, even evangelists, out of those who buy.

This works the same way for all types of businesses and organizations. All organizations must sell (including nonprofits). How they sell may differ, and everyone in an organization is, with their every action, either constructing or deconstructing the brand. Every thought, every action, every policy, every ad, every marketing promotion has the effect of either inspiring or deterring brand loyalty in whomever is exposed to it. All of this affects sales.

Back to our financial expert. Is marketing a cost center? Poorly researched and executed marketing activities can certainly be a cost center, but well-researched and well-executed marketing is an investment that pays for itself in sales and brand reinforcement.

Is branding a cost center? On the surface, yes, but the return is loyalty. The return is sales people whose jobs are easier and more effective, employees who stay longer and work harder, customers who become ambassadors and advocates for the organization.

Branding is as vital to the success of a business or nonprofit as having financial coherence, having a vision for the future, or having quality employees.

It is the essential foundation for a successful operation. So yes, it’s a cost center, like good employees, financial experts, and business or organizational innovators are. They are cost centers, but what is REALLY costly is not to have them, or to have substandard ones.

J. Heaton/Creative Director/Tronvig Group/NY

7 Game-Changing Marketing Trends for 2016

Marketing constantly adjusts and reacts to changes in technology and attitudes.
While digital marketing has undergone a substantial transformation in the last few years, the technology that incited the changes is growing at a faster pace than most brands can keep up with.

So, what does this mean for competitive marketers that are already strategizing for 2016?
Brands need to look beyond the usual channels to stay ahead rather than simply jump on the bandwagon.

Here, we’ll discuss those trends that are changing the face of marketing (yet again) and give you an eye-opening look at what marketers should be leveraging in 2016.

1) Relationship Marketing
As smartphone adoption continues to rise with an estimated 2 billion consumers worldwide expected to own a smartphone in 2016, the opportunity for brands to be connected with their customers and prospects is set to be closer than ever. Enter relationship marketing.

The goal of relationship marketing is to focus on building stronger loyalty and long-term customer engagement rather than on quick, short-term customer acquisition and individual sales. This helps companies develop strong, emotional customer connections to their brands that drive word-of-mouth promotions and lead generation.

Through meaningful customer relationships and conversations, companies create loyalists and brand advocates. Companies that do relationship marketing well set the bar high for other brands vying for more meaningful connections.

So, how can companies develop community and personalize their outreach efforts? Data. We now have data in easily accessible and interpretable formats through which we can develop strong relationship-marketing plans. In 2016 and beyond, personalized, data-driven marketing will become increasingly important.

Intrusive, mass-target approaches to marketing will slowly dwindle as marketers who focus on relationships grow their businesses. All solid relationships are built on trust. Transparency between customers and brands is essential, so companies must keep this in mind when mapping relationship marketing tactics.

2) Marketing Automation
As marketers today are spending at least 50 percent of their time on content, companies are coming up with more ways to automate marketing. Marketing automation alone is worth $5.5 Billion and is leading the way in lead generation and prospect nurturing.

Using a marketing automation platform makes it easier to schedule emails, segment contacts, automate social media posting, manage your content, and track the lifecycle of customers in your marketing funnel. This automation trend also highlights the growth of convergence, which allows you to stay lean, focused, and as profitable as possible without compromising on quality.

With even more focus on marketing to deliver results, marketing managers and CMOs should be taking stock of their team’s skills, noting the gaps and defining a robust automation strategy to help sales through engaging prospects, qualifying leads, and shortening the overall sales cycle.

3) Location-Based Marketing Technology
How can event professionals and marketers create an interactive experience? They must target users at the point of engagement. Location-based marketing technology, like iBeacons and RFIDs, helps make this possible. iBeacons are small, inexpensive transmitters that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to detect nearby devices that can be housed in retail stores, point of sale displays, and merchandising areas.

iBeacons can also help event attendees make the most of conferences through sign up and engagement in talks and sessions. Furthermore, Linkedin integration offers the opportunity to connect with attendees and send messages (including push notifications) about the latest news, reducing the need for delayed email communication.

A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a small electronic device that contains a chip and an antenna, providing a unique identifier for that tag. RFID wristbands, cards, and apps enable event attendees to interact in new and engaging ways. Event organizers can let visitors easily share their experience with their friends online. Brands can increase shares and likes with a simple photo and tap of the wristband to share across social media.
It’s all about location – and the marketer’s ability to make the most of it, in real time.

4) Virtual Reality
Virtual reality technology will inevitably have a huge impact on the way that marketers engage consumers in 2016. One of the biggest keys to marketing, especially to Millennials, is personalization. With the ability to literally tell 360-degree stories, companies will be able to engage like never before.

Companies who don’t supply a virtual experience for prospective customers, such as retailers, could see a drop in sales. Adoption of VR in 2016 and beyond will undoubtedly cause some kind of shift in marketing ideology. It’s best to hop on the VR train now to get a first look at what these new eyes will show us.

5) Ephemeral Marketing
Snapchat is already moving into the space of a “standard marketing platform.” In the upcoming year, marketers will come to understand that Snapchat isn’t just a tool for fun marketing experiments; it’s a platform that users are flocking to in order to digest social media in real time.

In order to deliver integrated campaigns that make constituents feel connected, especially the younger generation of consumers (read: Millennials) you need to be offering exclusive content that has an expiration date. This “less is more,” or ephemeral, marketing is all about communication that’s shorter and more to the point. In a world where people have less and less time, this model works.

Snapchat is the ultimate platform for making consumers feel connected and at the same time, unique. Brands such as ESPN, Vice, and Comedy Central already use it to push their messages to voracious consumers of media. With Snapchat, the advertisement becomes the product – something that competitors won’t be able to ignore. Take advantage of this huge opportunity to connect uniquely using just a small window of your audience’s time. Be organic, speak their language, and just cut to the chase.

6) Search Past Search Engines
With Facebook already working on tests for its own search engine, it seems inevitable that search capabilities will go far beyond Google, Bing, and Yahoo. As search capabilities improve within social media, brands will get an automatic boost. In addition, when buy buttons and payment messaging appear on social in 2016, an all-in-one-type platform will manifest (more convergence).

With advanced search capabilities, integrated payment methods, and the social impact that empowers sites like Facebook and Twitter, consumers will be able to make purchases, chat with their friends about what they bought, and post the social proof of their new purchase.

Advanced search will bring a more integrated social experience that expands to the e-commerce realm. If you cater your marketing efforts to this all-in-one, buy-and-share social media search, it’s clear that your brand will realize returns. Make the buying process easier, but also make it an experience.

7) The Internet of Things (IoT)
Wearable technology will see a user adoption rate of 28 percent by 2016 – even more data for marketers to mine. So, will this data be derived from people’s day-to-day habits? It looks that way. Every year from now until the foreseeable future, we’ll see the IoT become a bigger tool that marketers can use to engage with customers.

Maybe this means that ads will soon have the ability target people based on their every move. For marketers, this means that your data will have to become more behavior-driven and, although the power of devices may seem unsettling, you’ll be right on target. At the end of the day, people will what they want.

These 7 game-changing trends should be essential elements in your 2016 marketing plans. By 2017, we’ll have a whole new bag of tricks to share with you – but for now, get ahead, keep thinking ahead, and see how things evolve from there!

Should branding start from the product or from the values?

Neither. Branding starts in the mind of the prospect. After all, that’s the place where your brand will live or die.

You need to look into the minds of your prospects and ask yourself: What do we stand for? Did we invent a category? Are we the leader in a category? Are we a no. 2 brand?

Keep in mind, the most successful brands are ones that pioneered new categories, established the brand in the mind and dominate the category. Google in search. Coca-Cola in soft drinks. Uber in personal car service.

As for values, sure it is great that Google will do no evil but that didn’t make it the world’s most valuable company. Dominating search did. Google focused on search when others saw it as just a small part of a portal.

But if you want to start the next Google, the first thing you think about is not values. It is the mind. How can we focus on one thing we can own in the mind? How can we make that category important?

The objective of your branding program should be to own the leadership position in your category. But what if someone else got there first? Then you need to try to be a strong no. 2 brand. And how do you do that? You need to be the opposite of the leader.

For instance, Red Bull was the first energy-brand and rapidly became the market leader. There were more than a thousand competitive energy-drink brands launched in the American market. And virtually all of them were introduced in 8.3-oz. cans, which  made sense. The small cans created the perception that the contents were powerful. Like a stick of dynamite.

So which brand became a strong no. 2 energy-drink brand? Monster and was the first brand introduced in a 16-oz. can. Today, Red Bull has 45 percent of the domestic energy-drink market and Monster has 37 percent.

Marketing should start before the product is designed and produced. Before a company decides on the product or its packaging, it ought to consult with marketing experts who can formulate the product’s strategy.

And what is the most effective marketing strategy? Be first in a new category. Consumers, for example, know Chobani, as the first Greek yogurt, but oddly enough, Chobani wasn’t first. Fage was the first Greek yogurt. (Chobani wasn’t introduced until nine years later.) While Fage was first, virtually no consumers knew that because Fage’s packaging focused on the word “Total.” (A reference to the fat content of the yogurt.) So that left an opening for Chobani to become the first Greek yogurt “recognized by consumers.” The Greek yogurt market illustrates the importance of looking into consumers’ minds.

What if your company is late in bringing a product to market? And what if there are already two strong brands in your category? What should you do then? You have two choices.

1. Set up a new category you can be first in. Earth’s Best, the first organic baby food; Horizon, the first organic milk; and Silk, the first soy milk, are just a few pioneers. This is the best choice but not always possible.

2. Narrow your focus. BMW narrowed its focus to “driving” and became the largest-selling luxury-vehicle brand in the world. Subaru narrowed its focus to “four-wheel drive” and became the most successful automobile brand on the American market, in terms of market-share increases. Subaru even outsold Volkswagen in 2015 by 40 percent.

To sum up, start the marketing process by looking into the minds of your prospects.

Then make your marketing decisions based on where you are in the mind and where you would like to be in the mind.

You don’t win in the marketplace. You win in the mind.


2016: What’s New in Advertising?

Consumers will expect even more from advertising.

The content will need to be increasingly honest, relate-able and contextually relevant in order to help shift perceptions. With the continual evolution of in-stream ad products, the need for strong content will only increase. Brands producing content that feels taxing will fail, while others who understand the platforms for which they’re creating content will thrive, gain consumer trust and achieve social currency. The key here will be the shift away from the mindset of content as a window-to-window strategy and more as a perpetual way of speaking to the consumer through different lenses.

Art and design will continue to be a strong part of every aspect of advertising, but there will be an increased emphasis on data to help drive creative decisions.

The combination of science, art and design will be used to test and learn to see what resonates. This methodology will increasingly become the primary way ‘big bet’ creative decisions are made, specifically in the form of video advertising. … Creative direction will be less focused on driving traffic back to a single destination, but rather on a holistic but distributed approach where many pieces of content are adapted to reach people where they are, specific to the devices that they’re using.

The big shift will be thinking about the future and the new technology that allows marketers to tell their story in unique ways. Through this, there may be older forms of ad models that are reinvented, but the focus will be on the new mediums and how they can best be utilized.

There will be an increased awareness that there needs to be an adaption of the insight for the platform, which means that marketers will increasingly rely on creatives to be experts in all aspects of the evolving social space.



Pantone’s 2016 Color/s of the Year!

A softer take on color for 2016…
For the first time, the blending of two shades – Rose Quartz (13-1520)
and Serenity (15-3919) are chosen as the PANTONE Color/s of the Year.

As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent.  Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.

Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure.

Serenity is weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.

The prevalent combination of Rose Quartz and Serenity also challenges traditional perceptions of color association.

In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.

“Joined together Rose Quartz & Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer rose tone & the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order & peace.” Leatrice Eiseman Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute