All posts by Brand Pro Blog

Use your digital media ecosystem to build brand loyalty

By Kelly Borth, Chief Strategy Officer at GREENCREST

Digital Media Ecosystem

It’s safe to say that as business owners one of our ultimate goals is to create customer loyalty. There is as much as a 90% cost reduction when selling to an existing customer compared to acquiring a new one. That’s why it’s important to intimately understand your customers and how your digital media ecosystem can generate leads and earn loyal customers.

Your digital media ecosystem is a complex combination of your online marketing channels that work together to deliver the ultimate customer experience and build brand loyalty. Understanding your business’s online ecosystem begins with asking questions and conducting research using online analytics. Some questions you might consider include:

  • How did your target audience find you?
  • What devices do they use?
  • What steps did customers take before purchasing or submitting their information?
  • What websites do customers visit?
  • What blogs do they read?
  • How do they search for information?
  • On which social networks are they active participants?

To be effective you need to constantly listen, engage, measure and adapt. As the digital landscape changes so does your online ecosystem. It’s always evolving and integrating. If you stay in-tune, you can adapt your marketing efforts to reflect the changes in your ecosystem.

View your digital ecosystem as three types of media: bought media, owned media, and earned media.

Bought

In today’s competitive digital landscape, you will probably have to pay to play. To grow your business, increase brand awareness and attract new customers, you may be targeting an audience that’s not yet familiar with you. If they’re not familiar with your business or owned media, you need find a way to reach out to them. Paid channels include search engine marketing (SEM), online display ads and PPC campaigns, social media advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), public relations, traditional advertising and promotion. Your bought media should reach a large target audience.

Owned

Not all of the people in your target audience will be interested in your products or services. If you were selective, a good portion should be somewhat intrigued and those prospects will visit your owned media. These include your online content, company website and blog, social media networks, mobile sites and apps, support forums and specialty communities. The goal is to always drive your bought and earned audiences back to your owned media—especially your website.

Earned

You can’t buy or own brand advocates and loyal customers. They’re earned. You earn your email list when people have a reason to provide it to you. You earn social media and offline word-of-mouth. Your earned channels are often user-created and user-generated. They’re collaborative and constantly evolving. This can include niche networks, social media engagement, fan discussion forums, online reviews, private networks, blogging communities, inbound marketing and offline praise.

Compare your digital media ecosystem to a car that is headed on a road towards brand loyalty. Your system of online content and owned channels work together like the parts of an engine and make your car go. Bought and earned channels are like the oil to your ecosystem—alone they can’t make your car go, but they can help make it go faster.

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Engage: The Second Step in Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers

(This BrandPro article is the third in a series of five articles that discuss the process of “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers.”)

You grabbed your prospects’ attention in the Attract phase of the Marketing Funnel, and they’re showing interest in your business, product or service. Now is the time when content marketing is critical. During this phase, it’s important to generate great content that your target audience begins to rely on. You want them to join and participate in your online conversations within your owned channels such as your blog, social networks and email newsletters. Your active audience plays an important role in defining and owning your brand—so create a positive online brand experience that’s worth talking about. Great content keeps your prospects’ attention and makes them come back for more. And the more touch points a prospect has with your business, the more likely they will become a customer.

attract phase

Website

Your website is the central hub for your online marketing efforts. All of your digital channels should direct your audience back to your website. Your website needs to be engaging and house interesting content in prominent places. You want your website content to be intriguing, interesting and relevant enough that visitors explore other pages on the website to learn more about what you have to offer and develop a desire for it. A website also needs to be easy to use. The best content in the world is worthless if your visitors don’t know where to find it. User experience (UX) testing is important when first building or redesigning your website.

 Blog

A blog should be housed on your company website. If it’s not integrated with your website, you’re about 10 to 15 years behind the times. A blog is a great place to house helpful, interesting content. It also improves your website’s SEO when strategic keywords appear within the blog posts.

Help visitors find your blog by including it in the main navigation on your website and in a blog feed on the website’s home page. Provide blog readers with additional information by linking to past, relevant blog posts within each post.

To encourage readers to engage with you on the blog, end each blog post with an interesting question and invite them to share in the comments below. Incorporate a social media sharing toolbar that allows readers to easily share your blog post with their social media networks. Include a link that allows visitors to follow your RSS feed. Invite them to subscribe to your newsletter so that they can always receive your latest articles in their email. When visitors begin to like, comment and share your content, you begin to build relationships and create online brand ambassadors.

 Video Marketing

If you’re in the business of solving problems, video marketing is a great way to service your target audience and encourage them to interact with your brand. To help increase the amount of engagement on a video, it’s important to make sure the content is relevant and helpful. The production quality doesn’t have to be perfect, but the content should speak directly to the needs of your target audience. A video needs a lot of engagement right away in order for it to show up high in YouTube’s search results, so make it as timely as possible. Proper SEO also helps with this.

It’s also recommended to enable interactions. If you turn off the comments feature, you dramatically decrease the amount of engagement your video can receive. Another clever way to increase engagement is to use calls-to-action in annotations. Annotations are the notes that pop up at specific times within the video. For example, if you ask a question in the video, you can have a note that pops up asking viewers to answer in the comments below.

Lastly, to further increase your video engagement, you need to be engaged yourself. Get active in the YouTube community by subscribing to other relevant channels, add video responses when appropriate, and possibly advertise on YouTube. You can measure the amount of engagement your videos receive by looking at the number of minutes watched, comments, likes, shares and clicks.

 Social Media

When you post targeted content on strategic social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram), you begin to grow a following and gain attention. When social followers continuously see valuable posts, they begin to grow affection and appreciation towards your brand, and your relationship is further developed. Active, social relationships have the capability of turning into profitable customer relationships. When they like, comment on or share a post, they are showing interest in your content and, ultimately, in what your company has to offer.

There are many standard social media best practices that help increase engagement. Research has shown that photos and videos typically receive more engagement than simple statuses with no links. Asking questions or specifically telling your audience what you want them to do also helps increase the amount of audience participation. Keep your posts short, sweet and enticing. Post frequently at various times each day—not everyone in your target audience is on at the same time as you. Also consider hosting a contest or sweepstakes on one of your social media channels—these tend to garner a lot of engagement and increase the number of followers and social reach.

It’s also important to remember that each social network is unique, and you should only stick to a few networks where your target audience is most active. Tailor your strategy to fit each platform and its users.

In our next article of our “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers” series, we will explain the Convert phase of the Marketing Funnel, and you will learn how to convert prospects into leads online.

 

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Attract: The First Step in Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers

(This BrandPro article is the second in a series of five articles that discuss the process of “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers.”)

Every loyal customer was once a prospect. There was a time when they did not even know your name. So when you begin to think about turning prospects into lifetime customers, the first question you must ask yourself is “How do I attract my target audience’s attention to my business, products and/or services?” This is your main goal in the Attract phase of the Marketing Funnel, as described in our last blog post on “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers”.

attract phase

The tactics that take place in the Attract phase are what most people associate with marketing, advertising and public relations. Traditionally, businesses can attract attention through signage, advertisements, sponsorships, trade shows and press coverage.

Today we will focus on online attraction—and the best place to start is with a quality website. Once you create a website, it needs to be found online. Here are a few ways to attract potential customers to your online website.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is used to help draw search engines and prospects to your website through the use of quality content, top industry keywords and other website development techniques. It’s what makes your website show up when prospects use a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo in order to find a solution for their needs. 

Blog

Hosting a blog on your company website is an effective, easy way to provide useful content to your customers and prospects. The purpose of your blog should be to help and/or entertain your target audience. When you’re able to deliver great content, use proper SEO and syndicate your content through other online channels, your blog can be your most powerful online content marketing tool.

Video Marketing

YouTube is the second largest search engine (after Google), and it’s the No. 4 Internet destination. In fact, 69% of adult Internet users (which is 52% of all adults) have watched or downloaded an online video. And the average person watches about 54 minutes worth of YouTube videos each month. Plus, businesses that include videos on their website typically see a higher online conversion rate. So whether you’re selling to consumers or other businesses, you should consider video marketing to help you attract the attention of your target customer.

Online Advertising

Online ads come in many shapes and sizes. There are text ads that show up at the top and side of search results, and there are display ads (with images or videos) that show up on other websites or within other online videos. Text ads can be effective for both B2C and B2B businesses while display ads are typically more effective for B2C companies.

 Social Media

Believe it or not, many businesses are first discovered through social media. Most social media networks have search functions and advertising options that make it easy for your target audience to discover your business. But most importantly, social media is unique in that it uses word-of-mouth and social influence to draw attention to your company. When a person engages with your company’s content on social media, leaves a review, or shares their experience with your company, their personal networks will see it, and it will increase your social reach. Research shows that consumers are not only more likely to take their business to a company that is recommended by a trusted friend or family member, but online reviews left by strangers also affect whether or not they do business with you.

The next article in our series, “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers,” will explain the Engage phase of the Marketing Funnel. Learn ways you can keep your prospects’ attention and entice them to continuously come back to your online channels for more information, news and other value-added services.

 

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The power of brainstorming

By Kelly Borth, Chief Strategy Officer at GREENCREST

Brainstorming Meeting

Whoever said, “Two heads are better than one” was on to something. When was the last time you tapped into your company’s extensive brainpower? Doing so is not only insightful, it can also be transformational.

Regular brainstorming is prevalent in companies that drive innovation and lead the markets in which they serve. They use the brainpower within and outside of their organization to keep in the forefront of modernization and advancement, leaving behind a trail of competitors and followers.

Here are some brainstorming tips and best practices for making your time spent together focused, productive, empowering and game changing.

Focus

In today’s world, it’s difficult to get busy people to focus for 10 seconds, let alone hours. People’s tolerance for intense focus and brainpower is limited to a couple of hours at best.

So schedule shorter, more focused discussions that tackle a specific area of need — strategic planning, competitive analysis, product development, improvements in customer service, growing market share and so on.

Go into every brainstorming meeting with a set agenda and objective.

Collaborate

The power of brainstorming is to accumulate a mass of ideas — no matter how crazy or expensive. Nonjudgmental acceptance allows team members to build on those themes and gets everyone to participate in a non-threatening and unintimidating environment. The more accepting of ideas, the more it encourages ideas to flow.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, you initially want quantity over quality.

Evaluate

Allow the team to weigh in and bite your tongue. Don’t dismiss an idea without giving it its due consideration. Then, use an evaluation process to help narrow down the list. Once each idea is thoroughly assessed, select the best ones.

Many times the first ideas from the initial brainstorming session don’t make it to the short list. This is one reason why brainstorming is so critical. Part of the process is discussion, refinement and new thoughts to get to the best outcomes.

Elaborate

Use your team to build upon and/or refine the best ideas. Big ideas that may initially seem impossible could pave the way to groundbreaking solutions, innovative new products or revolutionary process improvements.

Facilitate

Brainstorming often excites a lot of emotion and conversation. Make sure you have a strong facilitator to keep the discussion moving forward and on topic.

This facilitator will get your team through the agenda on time, eliminate distractions, give everyone the opportunity to speak, connect important thoughts and take you out of the limelight so you can observe, listen and participate as a member of the team.

Implement

Don’t leave great, market changing ideas on the drawing board. Make sure they get nurtured and supported so they can take off.

Too many times great ideas are left behind in the dust of day-to-day business minutia. You don’t want to look back and say, “we could of, would of, should of.” Procrastination does not grow businesses; action does.

Brainstorming moves businesses forward, so keep your business relevant and grow market share by exercising your organization’s brainpower.

From Smart Business.

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Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers: Attract, Engage, Convert and Nurture

(This BrandPro article is the first in a series of five articles that discuss the process of “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers.”)

If you’re in marketing or business, you might have heard of the popular AIDA Formula. AIDA is an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. It’s the process that we marketers often use to create a customer and build customer relationships. Now it’s more common to see what we call the Marketing Funnel, or Sales Funnel. The Marketing Funnel takes a new twist on the old AIDA Formula. It presents a visual diagram that helps us understand how to turn a prospect into a lead, a lead into a customer, and a customer into a lifetime, repeat customer. When using the Marketing Funnel, our main goal is to develop lifetime customers—because it’s much easier to sell to existing customers than constantly trying to attract and sell to new ones.

The Marketing Funnel

The Marketing Funnel isn’t “one size fits all.” There are many versions of it out there because it needs to be adopted and customized to best fit your business’s needs and sales process. For the next few weeks, this BrandPro Blog series will focus on each part of the following Marketing Funnel, as it pertains to digital marketing.

Marketing Funnel

A Quick Overview

Each phase of the Marketing Funnel has its own unique goal and includes various tactics that can be used to achieve its goal. Here’s a brief introduction to each phase, in which we will go into more depth in the weeks to come.

Attract

During the Attract phase, your main goal is to draw attention to your business, products and/or services. If done well, you will reach the broadest set of targeted, potential customers. In this phase, you will most likely increase brand awareness.

Engage

Once you have attracted the attention of your target customers, you want to begin to engage with them as a brand. In this phase, target customers become prospects. They are not only aware of you, but they’re interested in you. Your goal is to engage with them and instill a desire to do business with you—a desire to buy your products or services.

Convert

As you filter out your prospects, your next step is to convert them into leads. During this phase, prospects act on their need, want or desire for your product or services and ask for more information. At this point, depending on where the lead is in the sales cycle, he or she may quickly decide to purchase and become a customer, or it may take a little nurturing before the lead decides to do business with you.

Nurture

There are two parts to the Nurture phase. On one end, you are nurturing your leads and continuing to build your relationship with them in order to turn them into customers. On the other hand, you need to nurture your current customers and instill a loyalty so that they will become lifetime, repeat customers. Remember, the main goal of utilizing the Marketing Funnel is to get targeted prospects to this end of the Funnel and become lifetime customers. The Nurture phase is critical because it’s much more efficient to sell to current customers who will potentially spend more with you on an annual basis than it is to constantly acquire new customers.

In the next article of our “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers” series, we will dive deep into the Attract phase of the Marketing Funnel and give you actionable tactics that will help attract attention to your business, product or service.

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Marketing recipe for effective QR codes

Marketing Recipe for Effective QR Codes

 

In a world of smart technology, QR codes are a great way to send potential customers to wherever you want them to go!

Ingredients

  • A print marketing material
  • A QR code website
  • Call-to-action
  • Relevant landing page

Directions

  1. Define your specific marketing goal for the QR code. Do you want to increase website traffic, collect contact information, increase sales or encourage people to call you? The possibilities are endless!
  2. Decide where you want to use the QR code. You typically use QR codes in print materials such as brochures, direct mail, print ads or business cards.
  3. Whip up your QR code using a website such as the-qrcode-generator.com.
  4. Select your spices: You can choose whether you’d like the QR code to send a certain image, go to a specific web page, go to a contact form, call a certain number or send a text message.
  5. Make sure users know what the QR code will do before they use it. Use a call-to-action such as “Buy this product online!” next to the QR code.
  6. Stir in a relevant landing page. The QR code should do exactly what you say it will do. The example in #5 should take users to a webpage where they can buy the specific product that’s featured in the print material. Enjoy your results!

Need help with your QR code strategy or setup? Contact GREENCREST today!

 

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Marketing recipe for a busy marketing booth

Recipe for busy marketing booth

 

A well-executed, busy marketing booth at trade shows, networking events or festivals will help generate new business leads or meet potential new talent!

Ingredients

  • Email list
  • Promotional table skirt
  • Promotional posters, banners, tent or wall structure
  • Big attraction
  • A way to collect information
  • Company literature, videos and photos
  • Business cards
  • Promotional items to give away
  • Multiple workers
  • Event sponsorship (optional)

Directions

  1. Beforehand, prep your contacts who may be attending the event and invite them to visit your booth.
  2. Coat your booth with professionalism to attract interest and trust. Use a table skirt with your company’s logo and colors. If outdoors, use a custom tent with your company’s logo and colors.
  3. Infuse your booth with professional banners, posters or an informational wall structure to help people understand who you are and what you do—even if they don’t talk to you. An interesting, informational video is also a nice touch.
  4. Spice it up with something that will immediately entertain or benefit visitors. A fun game, massage chairs, interactive technology, and raffles for big-ticket items always go over well.
  5. Use your big attraction to collect information from visitors. Have an information card they can fill out. Use this information to follow up after the event.
  6. Sprinkle your booth with company literature and information and pass out to those who are interested.
  7. All workers should bring their business cards to hand out to potential leads.
  8. Give away promotional items that people will use on a daily basis, as a constant reminder. Let it marinate.
  9. Have at least two people man the booth in case one person needs to step away periodically. A third person can stop by the other booths for additional networking.
  10. Sponsor the event for additional awareness. Depending on your sponsorship level, you can have your company logo included in ads for the event, on event banners, in the event program, mentioned in promotional emails and/or mentioned on stage. Serve with confidence.

For more information, contact GREENCREST.

 

 

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The art of advertising

By Kelly Borth, Chief Strategy Officer at GREENCREST

art of advertising

Great advertising needs to: No. 1, sell your company’s point of differentiation and No. 2, be memorable. Balance these, and you’re gold. It’s easier said than done.

Mastering the art and science of advertising begins with company brand, your unique evidence of distinction, and ends with creative copywriting and design.

It also should align with marketing objectives — reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time. The goal is to stand out from the competition and increase brand recognition and sales.

Sell your differences

Before you begin advertising your product or service, thoroughly understand your brand and competitive advantage. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking and sounding like your competitors.

Advertising is expensive; so don’t throw money at it if you haven’t established a clear, distinct brand. Ask:

  • How is your company different?
  • Are your products or services better? How? Why?
  • Is your company more innovative? How? Why?
  • Do you have a proprietary process?
  • If your company didn’t exist, how would the market be impacted?

When answering “how,” you’re selling the benefits, advantages and features — the rational explanation of why you’re better.

An example of a “how” message for TOMS Shoes might be: “We offer an assortment of comfortable shoes for men, women and children that are wearable from day to night. For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS gives a pair of new shoes to a child in need.”

When answering “why,” you’re selling the purpose, mission and vision — the emotional explanation of why your business matters. This is what compels brand loyalty, as it attracts customers who share the same beliefs and values.

A “why” message for TOMS might say: “We’re in business to help improve lives. Many children don’t have adequate shoes to protect their feet. With every purchase, not only will you enjoy a comfortable pair of shoes you can wear all day long, but TOMS also gives a new pair of shoes to a child in need. One for One.®”

Be memorable

From a potential customer’s perspective, is your product or service similar to your competitors? Do you follow a similar business model? If so, showcase what you do differently.

That’s where memorable advertising comes into play. It compels an emotional response like humor, empathy, fear, guilt, affection or patriotism.

Some good examples are GEICO’s funny gecko and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s sad images of neglected, abused animals with Sarah McLachlan’s song in the background. GEICO raised the bar for insurance advertising, and the ASPCA commercials have raised $30 million and been referenced in TV shows and movies. A memorable ad often becomes a part of pop culture. Can you hear me now?

The goal is for people to not only remember your ad, but also remember your company. Have you ever talked about a hilarious commercial but forgot what it was promoting?

When you link your company brand and promote your products or services with a message and imagery that differentiates you — and people remember you — you’ve perfected the art of advertising.

From Smart Business.

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What’s your business’s brand value?

Business Brand Value - Build Your Brand DIY Workshop

What’s Your Business’s Brand Value?

Many Fortune 500 companies’ brand value accounts for 50% or more of their total value—sometimes as much as 75% for companies who invest in their brand and make it a strategic priority. On average, brand value accounts for 33% or more of a company’s total value. For example, Google is worth$38 billionin brand value. FedEx is worth$5 billionin brand value. These are the kinds of numbers most people only dream of, but you can make it a reality.

What is a Brand?

A brand is more than a logo, image, product or jingle. Your brand is your promise to your customer. It’s your evidence of distinction—your competitive advantage. A company’s brand strategy begins at the top with its CEO. It must be lived internally for it to come to life in the marketplace.

Need to Get Ahead of Your Competition?

Then it’s time to uncover your brand distinction.GREENCREST CEO and certified brand strategist Kelly Borth is hosting a Build Your Brand DIY Workshop® for business owners who are eager grow the value of their business.

The next workshop is:

Thursday, October 16

1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Commerce National Bank

3650 Olentangy River Road

Columbus, Ohio 43214

 

REGISTER NOW!

 

 

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