Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How to assassinate your brand: 5 hacks that will KILL it dead.

Brands are alive. They breath. They require attention and nourishment. In fact, your brand is the driving life force of your business. The healthier it is, the more trust it has, the more loyal brand evangelists you’ll gain, and the more enhanced your bottom-line will become.

However, there are those who think they can achieve great branding by learning to do it themselves. (You know, read some articles, copy someone whom you think is “doing it right,” etc.) But the reality is that bargain-basement branding is a surefire way to erode trust with your customers, decrease your customer base, turn away prospects, and…well, you get the picture.

5 Brand-Killing Hacks:
  1. Shoot from the hip with your messaging.
    Who needs strategy, right? Don’t waste your time or money researching and planning. Why would you want to cultivate a relationship with your customer? Disregarding this will save you a lot of time.
  2. Tell the same story as everybody else.
    “We’re the best!” “Quality is our middle name!” “New and improved”. Whatever you do, don’t make it meaningful or significant. Resist the temptation to cultivate one brand voice. Keep mute on how it’s different from your competitors. Hide the passion behind your business’ launch and refrain from demonstrating and promoting this passion anywhere at any time. And by all means, don’t ever discuss how it benefits the consumer and their community.
  3. Don’t bother trying to connect with a prospect.
    You just want to sell a product not really talk with them. You’re not interested in relationship anyway. So keep any shared values and vision to yourself. Stay away from engaging with them where they live, especially on social media. Resist spending energy and resources sharing your story and educating and involving your customer in the process.
  4. Hire your friend’s nephew who’s in college.
    This will go a long way in helping him with his senior project and getting his your company’s expense, of course. The nephew can help you with all sorts of marketing projects like “designing” and building your own website, collateral, planning, and more. Don’t be baited into hiring a professional, who can get to the heart of your story, target your prospect, and convey your unique message and shared values. Understand that professional brand marketing skills—discovering, researching, analyzing, planning, executing, and supporting—and all the marketing tools of the trade, are waaaay over-rated. Besides, you’re helping a future marketing professional that some day may help other businesses actually reach their potential. Don’t linger on that irony.
  5. Ignore social media.
    It’s a time sucker anyway and kind of gets back to that whole relationship/trust thing. You don’t need to listen to your targets and what they are saying, they need to listen to you. After all, you’ve got something fantastic to sell them. Remember it’s not about them, it’s about you. It’s a monologue NOT a dialog. They need to help you’ve got bills to pay. Don’t be burdened with the hassle of trying to figure out what they want. They should know.... It’s your product. Besides, they know where to find you.
Obviously this is all tongue-in-cheek to make a point: Successfully targeted branding is not just about price, it’s also about the quality of the brand product boosted by the quantity of effort put behind its development. Just like you wouldn’t hire a football player to perform surgery on you, a branding professional can offer a wealth of knowledge and experience toward marketing and building your brand. They have the skills to plan, develop, influence, engage, and evolve your brand successfully.

How to Avoid Irking.

What’s the one thing that irks B2B buyers the most about their sales representatives?

  • The lack of understanding of their company? No.
  • The lack of understanding of their needs? No.
  • The lack of understanding of their industry? No.
  • The lack of listening? Yep. You guessed it.

It seems elementary, but the first thing sales representatives have to do is learn to LISTEN better.

A recent 2017 international survey asked 200 B2B buyers to choose from a list of their greatest challenges during the process of searching for and identifying which business products and services they would buy. Overwhelmingly, the most common complaint was that their sales rep was unwilling to listen.

Specifically, 65% of the buyers said sales representatives were more interested in selling their products and services than listening to their needs. By comparison, 31% pointed to sales reps not understanding their needs.

This survey exposes a huge problem: Many sales representatives are more company-focused rather than customer-centric. In fact, many B2B marketers admitted that most of their corporate content was company-focused rather than centered on the customer’s needs.

Other results indicated that B2B customers wanted help running their businesses, valued industry knowledge, and appreciated vendor dependability.

Are you listening?


Messaging: The Key to Winning More Deals

Sure, sales representatives want more qualified leads, but what else can their companies do to help them succeed?

According to a new survey by Televerde, better messaging is the key ingredient. They surveyed more than 200 sales representatives who sell B2B products/services, with companies who have $50 million+ in revenues. The respondents were asked “What can marketing do to help them win more deals?” Interestingly, “better messaging” was cited by more respondents as a top-5 assist (even more than “more qualified leads”). Sales wants the ability to deliver a distinct point of view that uniquely positions their company as THE solution provider.

Sales reps were looking for...
  • better messaging,
  • better marketing materials,
  • more case studies & testimonials, and
  • vertical and segment targeting and materials.

Sales reps said...
  • Content marketing has emerged as an important sales tool
  • Industry events are one of the most useful marketing activities
  • Value propositions are needed (something again tied to messaging.)
  • Case studies and sales presentations are also very important marketing assets. (The B2B buyers believe that the sales presentation is the most important content asset.)

In the end, most sales representatives felt fairly confident about their relationship and alignment with their company’s objectives and marketing goals.


5 Tips for Healthy Reputation Management

Online Reputation Management (ORM) has become big business. In many ways it's the digital division of public relations. Review sites and social media provide the means for immediate complaint (or praise) and have given rise to the need for companies to proactively monitor and address all comments. On the upside, these sites deliver a great opportunity for customer feedback and positive publicity. On the downside, it can be potentially damaging for a company’s reputation. Everyone has an opinion and the www gives them a forum.

Five Tips For ORM:
  1. Be your reputation’s watchdog.
    We can’t stress enough the importance of monitoring your reputation. And it’s not limited to human interaction, but also search engine finds, ie. SEO. With onlookers constantly checking, commenting, and rating your every move, it can be a daunting task to manage. However, there are agencies (like ours) that can help you manage the watchdog process.
  2. Proactively and empathetically respond to the comments.
    This is the number one tenet to managing your online reputation. Don’t ignore the bad review, but rather use this as an opportunity to demonstrate concern and excellent customer service. In other words be quick to address it and always start with an apology, even if you're not at fault. Get the story and develop a solution. Ideally, a phone call to the dissatisfied customer (when possible) with concern and resolution can alleviate and turn a frustrated customer into a happy one. For a large corporation this could mean 100s or even 1000s of contacts, but it will be worth it. When it’s not possible to call the person, address it publicly and avoid being negative in return. Make every effort to turn the naysayer into an advocate.
  3. Push the positive.
    This is PR 101 in both traditional and digital formats. Beat the drum with the good stuff by using online media to tout your company’s accomplishments and social consciousness, then provide clickable evidence. Be funny, if the opportunity allows. (It shows personality.) Tweet, post on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and your blog! The possibilities are vast.
  4. Be persistent in protecting your reputation and don’t game the system.
    Know what your current reputation is and be vigilant with improving it by encouraging people to give comments. After a successful transaction, make a call, invite them in person, or send an email with a link to rate your service and product. Keep your reviews current and don’t let them get stale. Consumers tend to ignore reviews older than three or four months anyway. But beware and be honest. Don’t hire “false positives.” They are almost always found out and exposed.
  5. Have foresight with a plan.
    Have a vision as to where you want your reputation to be in a year and have a preemptive “damage control” plan in place. No one can stop all negative comments or happenings, but having a proactive plan and response prepared in advance will go a long way to quickly reducing fallout, making today’s news yesterday’s.

Bottom line? The unpredictability of the future can be managed and even harnessed if you’re willing to play the game proactively.

Things that Make You Say "Hmm"...

Cover photo for "Parking for Dummies."

Fowl inspiration from Hitchcock's "The Birds."

Wouldn't touch this with a ten-foot pole...or higher.

This cat burglar is being framed for stealing the limelight.

Special deal on a granny bath! Limited time only.

The dozen-penny difference is a significant game-changer.