I frequently get asked questions about starting and running a business, as well as to share advice with other business leaders. Recently, while responding to a publication’s interview questions for an article, it dawned on me that we all have stories to share. And, from the experiences in our stories, we’re able to give advice to others. Mine happens to involve my business, Break Ice Marketing. It has been a journey worth sharing. So, sit back and enjoy the story.
How my story began -
Once upon a time, if you had told me that I’d one day have my own business, I would have replied with, “no way.” It was just not something that I had ever thought about doing. I loved marketing and managing multiple brands. I enjoyed leading projects with the ad agencies that I partnered with, and I appreciated the stability that came from having a corporate job.
However, as time went on, my job evolved to leading a corporate marketing team that managed eight brands. In a sense, we had become an internal marketing and branding agency, supporting the various product teams. I loved the diversity of marketing different brands and products, but I decided that I wanted to broaden the range of what I marketed. So, I decided to start a marketing and branding agency that would support multiple companies.
Leaving the financial security of the "corporate world" was perhaps the scariest thing that I have ever done. Not only did I leave a six-figure income, but in a strange way, I felt that I had also given up a part of my identity. During the two decades leading up to this, there had been many days that I was in the office more than I was at home. Now, I suddenly had no office to go to and the overwhelming task of creating a business and making it a success.
Looking back, I realize that I would have never made the "jump" if it hadn't of been for the encouragement of my supportive husband, family and friends. More than that, I feel that it was God who led me to exit the road that I had been on, and guided me to where I am now.
While I had years of marketing experience, I was completely stepping out of my comfort zone by doing something that I had never done before. But, it’s amazing what we, humans, are capable of. Once I had resigned from my prior job, there was no turning back. I had to make this work. So, I prayed, researched and planned.
I spent hours researching everything that I needed to know about setting up a business and brainstorming for the perfect company name. I wanted a name that was creative and had meaning. We became Break Ice Marketing.
Every business and job, for that matter, has challenges. After I decided to start Break Ice Marketing, my primary concern was getting clients. Although I ended up getting clients relatively quickly, those first few months of preparing and waiting were perhaps the hardest. I would be lying if I said that thoughts of "did I do the right thing?" did not occasionally pass through my mind.
But, luckily, I did not have to wait too long for those first few clients to come in. And, once they started coming, others quickly followed. As a result, my team began to grow, which allowed me to further expand and to better serve my existing clients.
The story continues -
Break Ice Marketing is comprised of a team of talented strategists, designers and developers. We've developed marketing strategies, managed social media, created websites, email campaigns, branding, marketing collateral and much more for a wide-range of industries including; credit unions, insurance, health & fitness, therapy, law, office furniture and dental.
While we are known for providing nearly any type of marketing and branding support, our specialty is creative strategy. We thrive on coming up with solutions for nearly any type of challenge and business. This includes helping organizations create strong and effective branding, and developing and executing marketing strategies for companies to increase leads and sales.
It’s sometimes a challenge forcing myself to leave the office. I truly love my job, and in a way, it almost feels like a hobby. While sometimes deadlines and pressing "to do's" call me back into the office after-hours, I also enjoy what I do, so I sometimes find myself returning to work at the end of the day or on the occasional weekend because it just "seems like a fun thing to do."
I thank God every day for giving me the courage to start Break Ice Marketing. I love all aspects of my job – my clients, projects, the challenges and opportunities. I’m thankful that I have this story to share.
My advice for all business leaders -
Never allow yourself (or business) get too comfortable. Most success happens outside of the comfort zone.
If you feel strongly about something, find a way to make it happen. That inner voice is more powerful that you think.
If something doesn’t “feel” right, then it probably isn’t. Seek the solution – even if it’s hidden.
Regardless of where you work and what type of budget you have, utilizing free online resources can help you be more efficient, save money and get what you need done more quickly. Even better, many of the available free applications can help businesses gain exposure and make products and services easier to be found.
I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite “free” online resources and applications. Some of these have a small monthly or annual fee for more features and functionality, but the free versions still provide great benefits and allow users to achieve quite a lot. If you haven’t already, you should check each of these out:
Social Media Management:
Hootsuite provides a much more efficient way of posting on social media channels. The free version of Hootsuite enables you to manage up to three social profiles. These profiles can be from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google +. With Hootsuite, you’re able to schedule your posts by the hour, date and profile(s). If you have more than three social profiles that need to be managed, you can upgrade to Hootsuite Pro for around $10 a month. There’s even a Hootsuite Enterprise for larger organizations. Hootsuite provides analytics at an extra cost.
Website Optimization Tools:
A Google Webmasters Account is free and contains an abundance of useful tools and resources for anyone (you don’t need to be a web developer!) that wants to learn how to make their site better. The Search Console provides insights on site search traffic, links, Google index statuses, content keyword occurrences, crawl stats/errors and security issues. Google Webmasters also provides courses, guides and resources for learning all the ins and outs of creating a great site. There’s also a Webmaster Central Help Forum where you can get additional help and ask questions.
Google ranks sites that are fast and user-friendly better than those that are slow and not user-friendly. Through Google’s PageSpeed Insights, you can quickly analyze the speed and user-friendliness of your site for both mobile and desktop. For scores less than 100, Google lists things that you should consider fixing to improve the site’s speed and user experience. Note: You can also use this to check the speed of your competitors’ websites.
Google ranks mobile-friendly sites higher than those that aren’t. So, every site should strive to be mobile-friendly – even if most of your visitors are coming from desktops. If you’re not sure whether or not yours is mobile-friendly, check to see if it passes Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. If it doesn’t pass, Google provides a list of reasons why. Note: You can also use this to find out which of your competitors sites are mobile-friendly.
Google Analytics is free and something that every site should be set up to use. With it, you can collect in-depth insights on traffic, demographics, behavior, conversions and more. Using Google Analytics will also help you determine how many people are visiting your site via a mobile device.
Google Adwords Keyword Tool
This is another free tool that helps you determine what keywords words and phrases people are using to search for products and services like yours. Type in the words that you think people are using and find out how many local and national searches are being made for those words. Google Adwords also provides data on other words with similar meanings. Note: The keyword tool is available regardless if you’re running a paid advertising campaign or not.
Google’s SEO Starter Guide
Google is constantly changing its algorithms for SEO. Google's SEO Starter Guide gives you the most accurate information regarding how Google ranks sites.
Google url shortener
Many times, the secondary pages of a website contain a long URL. The easiest and quickest way to turn a long URL into a short URL is by using Google’s url shortener.
Google My Business
To help give your business more online visibility, make sure that it’s displayed on Google Maps. In order to do this, you need to register your business at Google My Business. After providing your business contact information, Google will send a postcard to your business mailing address with a verification code, which you’ll need to complete the process. Once your business is listed, people will be able to get driving directions to your business and write reviews. Through Google My Business, you’ll also be able to create a Google+ business account.
MailChimp is an email marketing service that allows you to create and send emails, and receive data insight. The free version enables you to send to up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Marketing automation, the ability to send more emails and receive advanced analytics is available at a monthly fee starting at $25 a month.
File Storage, Sharing and Creation:
Dropbox is a file hosting service that allows you to store and share files. A free account provides up to 2 GB of file space. For individuals needing up to 1 TB of space, the monthly fee is $9.99. Or, for businesses needing unlimited space, the monthly fee is $12.50 for a minimum of 5 licenses.
Google Drive provides all Google accounts with up to 15 GB of free storage to share across Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos. More space can be purchased starting at 100 GM for $1.99 a month, 1 TB for $9.99 a month and numerous other plans going all the way up to 30 TB for $299.99 a month.
Google Docs is similar to a free version of Microsoft Office. Google Docs consists of
Slides, Sheets, Docs (comparable to PowerPoint, Excel and Word) and Forms. The ability for better collaboration by allowing multiple users to view and edit simultaneously is another great benefit (besides for being free!).
With the Wayback Machine, you’re able to see the visual history of URLs. This can be useful if you want to see how your website and competition have evolved.
The free version of Survey Monkey allows you create online surveys and track results for up to 100 people. Customization and the ability to receive more responses is available for a monthly fee starting at $25 a month.
These are just a few of the many free and affordable online tools that are available to help businesses succeed. Which of these are your favorite? Please feel to comment on any other free online tools that you use that were not mentioned.
Contact Break Ice Marketing for more ideas on how your business can be more efficient, save money and reach more people.
I’ve seen it time and time again – blogs that are neglected with months in between posts, Facebook pages with no recent updates and social links on websites that go to a place that’s no longer managed or even exists.
While businesses without a social presence can be considered “behind in times”, irrelevant and not credible, I feel it’s worst to have such an outdated presence. I think that many others feel this way too, which is why I often get asked “do you do social media?”.
When asked if I “do social media”, my response is always yes. But, my reply is quickly followed by my own set of questions, including; “are you using social media already?”, “why do you want to use social media (what are your goals)” and “what else are you doing to help people find you?”. The response to the last question is perhaps the most critical because it helps me determine what my client’s expectations are and how they need my help.
I want my clients to reach their goals. In fact, I want them to surpass them. So, when I take on a new social media client, the very first thing I do is to ensure that they have a social media plan that supports a much bigger strategy – one of making their brand easy to be found, which is what will help them reach their goals. While there are social media “standards”, tips and tools (many that I will soon be sharing), my most important advice is to ensure that your business is integrating its social media with the rest of your digital marketing (website, blog, email, etc.). Each of your digital marketing channels should support one another.
TIP # 1: Each of your digital marketing channels should support one another.
This is not a typo. I know that I just stated this. But, it’s worthy of calling out again. That’s how crucial this is. Social media is important, but so is having a good website because that’s where people will be visiting if they want to do business with you. Make sure your website is mobile responsive. Besides for Google knocking you down in rankings if it’s not, your customers will likely be going there from their mobile devices if that’s what they’re using for social media. With all that said, your website should also be used to promote your social channels (have links to them on your site). And, be sure that your social profiles have links to your website. Your email signature should also include links to your social profiles. See a theme here? Use each channel to promote the others. And, be sure that you are using consistent branding!!
TIP # 2: Don’t build your social plan around your personal opinions. Go where your customers go.
I’ve known many people that have selected only the social platforms that they use personally, for their business. For example, I’ve had people tell me that they will not use Twitter for their business because they don’t like it. I also had a business owner tell me that because he dislikes Yelp, he does not have his business listed there. My response to these type of statements is who are you trying to reach? If you’re truly wanting to use social media to help grow your business, you need to be where your customers are. If some of them are on Twitter, why wouldn’t you want to be there? The same goes for the social review platforms, such as Yelp. That’s where your customers are going. If they don’t find your business there, they’ll find your competitors. If you want customers to find your business, you need to go where your customers go.
TIP # 3: Use keywords that your customers are using.
If you haven’t already, you should figure out which keywords that your customers are actually using. You can do this by going to Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool (https://goo.gl/YAxli6). This tool helps you determine what words people are using to research products and services like yours. You can access this data with a free account and without advertising or having a campaign.
Social Channels You Should Consider:
You ask: Should my business be utilizing social media? I say: Most likely. You ask: Can I help? I say: Most definitely.
Contact Break Ice Marketing for an assessment of your social media or to have a social media plan and digital marketing strategy developed.
Over the years, I’ve led several rebrands. And, as a consumer myself, I’ve observed many companies that have changed their brands. “Rebranding” has become a common occurrence. In fact, I feel it’s a bit too common. I understand there are situations when taking steps to change one’s brand make the most sense. But, I also feel that there are times when it can hurt a company – having a reversed effect from the objectives originally intended. There have been some great rebrand successes and plenty of disasters. If you can’t think of any great versus not-so-great rebrands, conduct a quick web search and you’ll find plenty.
My goal as you read this is not to talk you out of leading a rebrand at your organization if that’s something that you’ve been considering. Rather, I hope to provide you with some points to consider as you deliberate whether or not attempting to change your brand is right for you.
Understand your Brand vs. your Branding.
Before determining if it’s time to rebrand, you need to know the difference between your brand and your branding. Understanding the difference can help you determine how to best reach your brand’s goals and/or fix the problems you feel are associated with your brand.
A key distinction between the two is that your customers own your brand; whereas, your organization controls your branding. Your brand is how customers perceive your company and products, while your branding is the story that your organization delivers and promises.
What a rebrand really means
While the process of changing your brand’s name or logo is commonly referred to as a “rebrand”, I feel that calling it “rebranding” is more accurate. That’s because you can’t change your customers’ perceptions (brand) without first changing how your organization delivers its story (branding). With “rebranding”, you’re making changes to the branding strategy to modify what people think about your company. This may include changing the name and/or logo; however, it doesn’t always need to since those are just one component of your branding. In fact, simply changing your name and logo is not enough to entirely alter how your company is perceived by others. If you don’t believe this to be true, think about it in another way. Have you ever met a person with a name that didn’t initially match their personality? At first, the person and the name may not seem to pair, but as you get to know the individual, their name takes on a new meaning. That’s because names usually only make initial impressions. People are what make the emotional connections. The same holds true for your company’s branding.
“You can create a name and logo that make the initial impressions you desire. But, without all staff executing a strategy (consistently delivering the company mission, attributes, benefits/features and competitive differentiators that support the name/logo), the preliminary feelings associated with your brand will be replaced by your customers’ emotional responses, which are driven by the experiences your staff creates.” Heather Dowell, Break Ice Marketing
So, back to should you change your name and logo? There are many factors that can help you decide this. Outside of legalities and company politics, you should base your decision on what your potential and existing customers think. If there are no issues with how they’re perceiving your company, why go through the time and expense of making this change to your branding? On the other hand, if your name and logo are not making the first impressions that you want, then perhaps it’s time for a change. But, don’t make this change too quickly or with little thought. Spend some money on hiring a branding consultant. You need someone that is not already emotionally connected with your branding to help lead you through the process. Take time to do research. Collect the thoughts of your current and prospective customers. Don’t rely on your own emotions and assumptions.
When you change your name and logo, you should plan on using them for the long-term. You also need to be consistent. If you’re unable to make the change across all channels and with every interaction with customers, then don’t do it. I’ve seen many companies fail at effectively changing their name and logo by not consistently delivering all components of the new branding. This almost always results in customer confusion and branding that’s even weaker than before.
Ultimately, a rebrand successfully occurs when customers begin thinking about your company the way that you want them to. “Rebranding” is a process that sets the stage for this. Despite what most people think, a rebrand does not happen on a specific date. Your organization has the ability to decide when it launches its new branding, but it’s your customers that control the launch of your new brand.
Ready to rebrand? Or, do you still need some help in deciding if rebranding is right for you? Contact Break Ice Marketing to schedule time to speak with an expert brand strategist.
Around this time of year, fitness centers and gyms are the busiest. In fact, the volume of gym-goers is 33-50% higher in January than any other month of the year. It’s not hard to understand why. Exercise is one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions – and it’s also one of the shortest-lived. By the second week of February, most of the increased volume drops.
While exercising is a great resolution that can help you be happier and healthier – relieving stress and giving you more energy to achieve more personally and professionally, there are four other resolutions that you should make - and commit to keeping.
These four resolutions can help you be more successful in 2016:
The four resolutions mentioned in this article are those that can help employees in all professions. Break Ice Marketing specializes in helping organizations increase sales, gain more leads and reach more customers through strategic branding and marketing. Contact us if you’d like help in creating and fulfilling resolutions in these more specific areas.
We wish all readers a successful and prosperous 2016!
It’s the week before Christmas and staffs of all levels are hustling and busting to get things wrapped up before year-end. As hectic as this time of year may be, the holiday season provides a great opportunity for all businesses to prepare themselves for more success in the upcoming months within the New Year.
Below, is some of the season's best business advice.
Deck the halls with good, strong branding
During the holidays, your brand may not be forefront on your customers’ minds unless it offers a product or service that coincides with an item on their holiday lists. But, don’t let this dissuade your team from preparing for the after-season rush when your customers are less distracted and ready to hear from you. Be courteous and visible to your customers throughout the holiday season. So, when it’s over, your customers will remain loyal to your joyous brand.
'Tis the season to be branding
Fa la la la la la la la!
We now send our best direct mailings
Fa la la la la la la la!
Songs of joyous branding wonders
Fa la la la la la la la!
See the blazing brand before us
Fa la la la la la la la!
Your customers are going online
At the moment, your customers may be spending most of their time online, shopping for the type of gifts that your brand may not offer. Whether they’re going to your website or not, don’t stop giving your digital presence the attention that it deserves. Use this time to ensure that all web content is current and relevant. This is also the perfect opportunity to make those back-end site updates that will help improve SEO - and to evaluate and respond to any customer reviews made about your company and brand.
You better watch out
You better update
Better not sit
I'm telling you why
Your customers are going online
They’re making a list
And checking reviews;
Gonna find out who’s worthy and right
Your customers are going online
Have a holly jolly company
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season it can be easy to give less focus than you should to your staff. Don’t just have a holiday party and then check your team off your list. Bring cheer to the office by openly communicating next year’s strategic goals and objectives so that your staff can start planning and preparing now. Greet your employees with a smile and don’t forget to let them know how much you appreciate them.
Have a holly, jolly company
it's the best time of the year
I don't know if there'll be cash
but have a cup of cheer
Have a holly, jolly company
and when you walk down the halls
say hello to staff you know
and everyone you meet
The twelve days of selling
Between now and the end of the year, there is actually less than 12 business days available to sell. But, that shouldn’t stop you from trying to close a few more deals. Depending on what you’re selling, sales are either at their annual peak or they’re slowing down until the first of the year. If you’re the case of the latter, this is the time to make sure that your CRM is updated and current so you’re ready when things start to pick back up.
On the first day of selling
my sales team sent to me:
12 Responding Prospects
11 New Decisions
10 Leads Awaiting
9 Replies to Emails
8 Completed Demos
7 Returned Phone Calls
6 Quotes Requested
5 Customers Converted
4 Contracts Pending
3 Answered Phone Calls
2 People Talking
and another Goal that Has Been Met
Make the most the most of the time you have left in the office, but then be sure to take time and enjoy the holidays.
Break Ice Marketing wishes each of its clients, followers and readers a season of good health, happiness and much success.
Traditionally, the Marketing and IT Departments lived in two different worlds with clearly defined roles. The boundaries that separated Marketing and IT were distinct and infrequently crossed prior to the existence of marketing automation systems, cloud-based CRMs and websites built with a CMS.
But, times have changed and so have the roles, functions and processes within the two departments. Some of the boundaries that previously separated Marketing and IT have faded, with little communication to direct. As a result, it’s not uncommon for assumptions and a lack of understanding to occur between the two teams – making both less efficient than they should be.
The fact that I’ve led a Marketing Department and my husband manages a team of IT staff has certainly given both of us insights on the perspectives from the other side. His venting about the requests and actions of his company’s Marketing Department has given me a greater understanding of how some marketing requests can impact an IT Department. On the other hand, my rationalizing some of those vents has given him a better appreciation of the demands and viewpoints of Marketing.
While it can be tempting to finger point, we all know that doesn’t solve the issues. Creating improved collaboration and alignment through open communication is key. But, it’s also helpful to understand the evolving roles of each department because both have changed tremendously and each is critical to the organization’s success.
Roles have changed in the Marketing and IT Departments.
The IT Department has always been much more than a group of people that fix broken computers (my husband will attest to this). A primary responsibility of the IT Department is to build and manage the IT infrastructure, which is a complex system of physical hardware, software and the network responsible for making all technical components (the company’s phone system, corporate email and business applications) work. Maintaining this infrastructure requires frequent maintenance and for many organizations, takes up much of the IT resources.
Because the primary role of the IT Department has always been to build and manage the IT infrastructure, Marketing faced more limitations and slower-than-desired turnaround times to their requests when CRM systems were built and maintained in-house and websites without a CMS were updated by the IT Department.
Now that many organizations use a cloud-base CRM system in conjunction with a marketing automation system and have their website developed with a CMS, most Marketing Departments have taken hands-on ownership of these areas – acquiring new technical skills a long the way. While this gives the IT team more opportunity to focus on evaluating and optimizing the IT infrastructure, it can also cause a disconnection when Marketing does not keep IT in the loop on projects that should require their involvement.
Marketing and IT must work together to increase efficiencies and meet goals.
While the skillsets and personalities of the Marketing and IT Departments are commonly thought to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, they must work together in order to increase efficiencies and meet goals.
Ensure that all levels communicate
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of communication. In the past, the Marketing and IT teams may have rarely communicated with minimal consequences. But, now it’s different. Timely communication allows both teams to have an opportunity to work together and to contribute their skills and expertise. Communicating at all levels (not just at the executive level) helps ensure that all members of both teams are on the same page and share the similar expectations.
Share goals and timelines
Sharing goals goes hand-in-hand with communication. The Marketing Department’s goals will usually be different from the IT Department’s but by sharing with each other, both teams have an opportunity to find a solution that will best meet the top priority goals. For example, while Marketing may be looking for a system that helps improve their marketing results and provides a measurable ROI, IT may want a system that provides good data control and security. The ultimate goal should be to find a system that does both.
Additionally, providing ample time to allow both teams to create a timeline to achieve the desired completion date is also important.
Take time to translate and explain
Most of us acknowledge that Marketing and IT speak a different language when it comes to terms used to explain processes and systems within their fields. Not taking the time to translate technical slang and terms will end up costing more time in the end. Furthermore, not using common language will most likely result in a key goal or step getting missed by the other team.
Build teams with the right skill sets and people
The roles of both teams have evolved and so have the skills needed to fulfill the new responsibilities. In many cases, resources have not been made bigger. So, it’s up to each department manager to ensure that they are staffing their teams in the best way possible. Ensure that you’re building your team with the right skillsets and personalities. You need people that will be able to get their job done and work with others to meet all goals.
Those who invest in ensuring good alignment and collaboration among their Marketing and IT teams will experience less frustrations and more success.
Contact Break Ice Marketing for more tips on bridging the gap between Marketing and IT.
No matter who you are, where you work or what you do, you have a personal brand. Your brand is how others perceive you. Like a business brand, a personal brand requires purposeful branding and marketing to earn awareness, credibility and referrals. Investing in your personal branding helps ensure that you are perceived the way you want to be.
Personal branding is not just for people in the public eye or that are in the market for a new job. While a personal brand can be what sends a recruiter your way, it’s also what can help you grow your business, get better reviews and achieve bonus goals.
Personal branding is more than appearances.
Just as a business brand is more than a name, logo and design, the same concept is true for a personal brand. While your visual identity may be an essential component of your personal branding, it’s meaningless without an executed strategy that connects you to others in a meaningful way. Many people that have a personal branding strategy may market it via LinkedIn and on resumes, but fail to actually deliver it.
Your personal branding strategy should define and consistently deliver all the points below:
Strong personal branding requires consistency. Inconsistent delivery of your personal mission, features/benefits or attributes will frequently result in a loss of credibility. So, when defining your personal brand standards, be sure that you consistently deliver them. This practice is what helps you gain personal brand advocates.
Marketing your Personal Brand helps build awareness.
Marketing your personal branding helps increase awareness of all that you have to offer so that more people want to do business with you. This, of course, can help improve your sales, performance and ratings.
How and where you market depends on your goals. Utilizing LinkedIn and other social channels is an excellent way to gain exposure. Even if you’re not trying to gain more connections or followers, you should still ensure your social profiles represent your personal brand well.
Tips for Marketing your Personal Brand on LinkedIn and Twitter:
Tips for Networking:
I recently met someone that gave some good networking advice. He believed that everyone should have five categories of networks. These categories are intelligence, innovation, revenue, industry and influence. The goal for building your networks should be to build relationships with people that fall within these categories. Essentially, having these quality network relationships is more important than the quantity of connections.
Invest in 5 Categories of Connections:
While building and maintaining your networks of relationships, remember to be a giver as well a receiver. Provide value back within your groups so that your personal brand is also looked at as a thought leader and expert, giving you more credibility.
Personal branding is an investment worth making. Those committed to their personal branding are the ones that reap the rewards of loyal co-workers, staff and clients.
Contact Break Ice Marketing for help creating a social media cover/header photo for your personal brand. Mention this article and receive a custom social graphic for only $75.
Around this time of year, we begin thinking about the things in life that make us feel thankful. While family, friends and health are common reasons for gratitude, so can be the value that some brands deliver. Brands that show they truly care about their customers are those that give us another reason to feel thankful - this time of year and all year round.
Here are a few traits of brands that generate thankfulness:
Brands that show they APPRECIATE their customers.
Some brands are especially loved because they make us feel appreciated. They’re quick to say “thank you” because they understand that it’s their customers that provide value to them, which makes us appreciate these brands even more.
There are many ways that a brand can show customer appreciation. It is these acts of kindness and displays of gratefulness that also helps promote a brand. One example that stands out is a time that my dad and I were visiting Stags’ Leap Winery during an annual father/daughter trip. After enjoying tastings and a tour of the winery, we purchased our favorite bottles of wine. One of the employees that had been helping us recommended a restaurant that we might enjoy for dinner and even offered to make reservations. The restaurant was about 15 miles from the winery. During dinner, we were surprised by a quick visit from the employee, who presented us with a thank you card and an extra bottle of wine. This above and beyond act by Stags’ Leap Winery made us feel appreciated, and for that, we felt thankful.
Brands that DELIVER what their customers want.
These are the brands that use research and customer feedback to consistently deliver what their customers want. They’re also the brands that are willing to make changes to keep their customers happy. Netflix is an example. For the past few years, they’ve used customer insights to ensure that they deliver their brand promise. After listening to their customers, Netflix made important changes that have resulted in substantial growth and increase of profits. These changes include giving customers anytime/anywhere access, making their interface more user-friendly and providing people with what they want to watch. By delivering what their customers wanted, Netflix added 30% more subscribers this past summer than what they were expecting.
Organizations that GIVE BACK TO THEIR COMMUNITIES.
We’re grateful for the organizations and brands that give back to their communities and we often enjoy it when we’re given the opportunity to be a part of it. Target is an example of an organization that has given back to the educational communities. Over the years, Target has donated and ran several campaigns that have benefitted thousands of schools throughout the nation. Earlier this year, Target ran a six day social media campaign that asked the public to submit thank you notes to their schools and teachers onto the campaign’s website. As a result of this campaign, Target donated $6 million among over 50,000 schools.
Brands that say “THANK YOU”.
Yes, this goes along with showing appreciation, but it’s important enough to note again. A simple “thank you” goes a long way. It’s sometimes all it takes for customers to feel appreciated and valued – and to keep them coming back. We thank the brands that thank us because we know that expressing gratitude is not always the norm. The brands that give thanks are the ones that most stand out.
Cheers to all the brands that show appreciation, deliver what their customers truly want, give back to their communities and never fail to say “thank you”. These are the brands that give us another reason to feel thankful as we enter into the holiday season and beyond.
Break Ice Marketing is thankful for each of these brands, its clients, connections and readers.
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Marketing and advertising – they’re two terms used almost as interchangeably as marketing and branding. But, just as there is a difference between the latter set of functions, there is also disparity between the first. Marketing and advertising are not the same. And, having a clear understanding of their differences can help you bring in more business. That’s because each serves a different and deliberate purpose and when appropriately executed, the two work together to help increase sales and achieve other goals.
Understanding the difference is key to achieving goals.
Examining the definitions of marketing and advertising is a key step to understanding their differences so that you can appropriately execute. So, here are the definitions:
Helps drive sales through activities and processes that promote your brand to reach and engage customers. Communicates value to keep your brand and products top-of-mind among the people that you want to do business with.
Helps promote the sale of an offering (product, service, event or anything else that can be purchased) by bringing it to the public’s attention, usually through paid announcements.
At first glance, their definitions may appear very similar. But, they’re actually quite different. Marketing and advertising share a common objective of driving sales; however, the purpose and objectives of marketing are more than just that. Marketing also promotes the value of your brand in a way that advertising does not do to the same degree. Marketing uses advertising to help extend its reach and initiate sales quicker. I like to think of advertising as marketing’s “power-up”. However, in order to sustain the “power-up”, advertising needs to support and work in conjunction with the rest of marketing.
The marketing plan should be used to guide advertising.
A good marketing plan contains key components that should be used to guide the advertising. These components include target audience, company mission, value proposition, situational analysis, marketing strategy and budget.
Unfavorable results are a common outcome of advertising that’s not led by marketing.
Advertising that is not driven by a marketing plan usually produces unfavorable results. Unfortunately, this happens more often than it should.
A plumbing company with no true marketing plan spends most of its marketing budget on paid ads through Facebook. This company generates minimal fan page likes, no new traffic to its website and no increase in sales.
Assuming that the target audience is local residents with impromptu plumbing needs, it may make more sense for the plumbing company to invest in marketing that will drive potential in-market customers to their website. SEO, Yelp and Google Business are areas that could produce better results.
A B2B company spent advertising dollars on generating social media likes and followers. The ad campaign did achieve its initial goals; however, once the ads ended so did the growth of their social channels.
In addition to running social ads, the company should invest in strong, ongoing content that’s posted on the social channels. This content should include strong CTAs to increase website traffic, leads and sales. Good content will also help the company continue to grow its social channels through shares and other engagement.
A credit union spent advertising dollars on direct mailers with a “visit our site for more info” CTA. A minimal spike in site traffic occurred; however, it was offset by a high bounce rate.
A more specific and compelling CTA could have generated more traffic. To minimize the high bounce rate, the credit union could have directed potential members to a landing page vs. their website’s homepage. There is also opportunity for the credit union to modify its website so that it’s easier for members to find what they’re looking for when they do arrive on the homepage.
The same differences apply to the digital world.
Digital marketing and digital advertising are used the most interchangeably. But, even in the digital world, there is still a clear distinction between advertising and marketing. And, as demonstrated in some of the examples above, digital advertising needs to be driven and supported by digital marketing.
There is definite value in advertising when it’s directed by a strategic marketing plan. When intertwined with other marketing efforts, advertising can be the component of your marketing that fuels more rapid growth – helping you bring in more business.
To get help with your marketing or advertising, contact Break Ice Marketing.