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Top 5 Reasons of Proof That Brand Marketing Works

I hear these three words every month, DOES MARKETING WORK? I can give you five reasons that support the answer of “absolutely”. Brand Marketing is as powerful as being number one or number three.

1) If you are a woman, what lipstick do you wear? What Shampoo do you use? What brand Jeans do you own? Women spend an average of $15,000 on makeup in their lifetimes. Beauty manufacturers spent $2.2 billion on advertising last year. Marketers allocated most of their ad spend to TV (42%) and print (54%). So what makes you buy the brand you purchased? Whatever your answer, it stems from marketing. The formula to penetrate into your mind is a complex one. But you have been brainwashed whether you accept it or not.

2) Typically, if you are of age, you are driving your car. Why are you a BMW or Volkswagen driver? Does not every brand have some sort of emotional and intellectual connection with you? What are your thoughts on a Mercedes Benz driver? The reason you have these thoughts are because of this fact:

  • General Motors spent 3.5 billion on advertising last year
  • Ford Motors spent 2.7 billion on advertising last year
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles spent 2.2 billion on advertising last year

Automakers sold almost 18 million vehicles. Do you think they would do all this advertising if it didn’t work? Marketing is the driving force to give you a lasting impression when it comes time to purchase your next car. You probably already know what vehicle represents who you are. Brand loyalty is also a big piece of the advertising puzzle and they spend millions to keep you coming back.

3) You’re hooked on some television shows? Why is that? How did you find out about them? The advertising to capture an audience of a certain demographics has become easier with all the analytical data thats accessible. You may of picked a show just because you liked that actor or actress. They too are a brand. I want to focus on one show and one show only, NFL Programming. NFL are branding machines. They encourage Fantasy Football, they can charge up to $600,000 for a .30 spot on Sunday Night Football, they have begun to market to women and they have the best branded show in the history of shows, the Super Bowl. Why then are they losing shares at the end of 2016?

Factors for decline:

  • The Chicago Cubs win
  • Donald Trumps Election (this took shares away from everyone)
  • Deflate-gate debacle
  • Stand on Domestic Violence
  • The respect of the American Flag

Americans are standing up for what they believe in. Colin Kaepernicks kneeling at the American Flag has still left Colin a free agent who is not signed. He is not liked and this is linked to the NFL. The NFL needed to take a stance and speak out on the issues pertaining to this behavior. They remained quiet and seeing how that impacted them must be painful. How smart proof is your company? New factors always pop up and how you address them might mean your brand lives on, or dies over time. Don’t get me wrong, the NFL will bounce back since they have a great cash surplus. They just signed a deal with Amazon for the rights to Thursday Night Football. Now that is re-inventing yourself while keeping your brand.

They do have the strictest guidelines when it comes to using their brand. I respect them for protecting their assets, for making counterfeiters go to jail, and great product placement with partnerships. Who else could have every football team on a BudLight can? But always remember your demographics. NFL might just have lost that reality when they don’t take a stand on players actions. Never take your eye off the ball.

Learn more on Defining Your True Brand Story and Bringing it to Life Online.

4)  The grocery store is a subject of brands. I want to focus on just beer. How is it that Bud Light leads the beer division. If you drink beer, you have a favorite. The reason might be image or taste. But you tried other beers because of marketing. If you say no to this idea, how did you hear about the other beers in the first place? If your answer is friends, that is also marketing. Word of mouth marketing is still the most powerful marketing this century. And your friends received the marketing somehow. Alcohol ads have increased 400% over the last 40 years. The industry spends around 89% of its advertising dollars on television, according to research done by Citigroup. Bud Light spent 85 million dollars on TV ad placements in 2014. Today Anheuser-Busch spends 1.68 billion in all advertising spends. They have averaged 1.4 billion over the last decade. It’s the reason they have 48% of the beer market. How else would a company stay above the rest in the highly competitive beer category?

5)  Fast Food. McDonalds has a value of 88 billion and next on the list is Starbucks with 43 billion. To understand this slightly better, Burger King has a value of 3.6 billion. A huge wide difference. So why the separation you may ask? McDonalds spent 5.9 billion on advertising in the United States alone. Burger King spent 255 million on advertising, which has contributed to the separation of these two brands. Marketing obviously works or McDonalds would not continue this spending trend for over a decade. I do wonder, if Burger King had good marketing and spent what McDonalds spends, if they would jump over Starbucks? Product is still king. There is a connection of why Coca-Cola and Bud Light are both the most valuable soft drink and beer brands in the World. Marketing, and marketing dollars allocated.

Those are five samples of how creative marketing builds brands to lead a nation. Marketing + Strategy + Creative + Execution = A powerful formula for elevating your product or brand. I will agree that all samples above have unlimited budgets. My point to this blog was to simply support the concept that you are a victim of marketing and strong marketers seem to rise above the competition. What is your company doing to rise above?

Learn The StoryBranding Process

LeadingAge Illinois 2017 Annual Meeting & Expo On Senior Living Marketing

Update:  LeadingAge Illinois was another great success.

Stevens & Tate President Dan Gartlan was selected to share his senior living marketing expertise as a featured speaker at the conference. Dan led a session titled,“Actionable Strategies Proven to Improve Marketing Results.” Learn how to define your marketing objectives, understand four interconnected marketing strategies you can effectively implement and recognize the positive impact of tracking and measuring that can drive enhanced success for your inbound marketing program.

Stevens & Tate was asked to share our expertise at the conference based on our extensive experience in the senior living marketing field – with proven success building brands and growing business.

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8 Tips on Social Media Best Practices For Your Business

Why are social media best practices important? Social media has become a staple in our lives and popularity rules in this environment. It has become such an addiction that teens spend over 9 hours a day going through their social media pages. Social media is a tool that both individuals and businesses can manipulate to get the audience for their causes. Social media is a great tool for attraction marketing. Most business owners nowadays practice strategies aimed at optimization of social media platforms. Content displayed on social media platforms measures the response you get from your target audience just by the likes or dislikes you get.

We want you to get the most out of your social media platforms by enforcing these social media best practices. You will learn the secrets behind engaging and maintaining a media presence with loyal followers.

Social Media Best Practices

1. Keep an active presence

We all know that if you are inactive in social media in this digital world, you are irrelevant. Be active! Engage your audience, tell them about your brand story and show them snippets of what the brand represents. Remember however, not to disclose irrelevant information about your brand. There have been cases where too much information has overwhelmed audiences. It is important to explore all the possible avenues to let the world know why your brand is cool.

2. Keep interest

Now that you have gained a loyal following, show interest in your fans! When they reach out to you, follow back and always give personal feedback. This creation of goodwill will serve only to increase your brand’s following, earn you some popularity ratings, and maybe add revenue to your purse. Remember to thank your fans for keeping up with your venture. A brand based on humility and an understanding nature is always appreciated.

3. Concise please

We all love a good post, but if it is too long we get bored in the middle. According to a statistical review conducted on the strategies of effective tweeting, shorter tweets received 17% more following than long tweets. Although other sites do not limit your word count, you should keep in mind to pass your message in the intent you aimed it for.

4. Maintain your tone

What is your preferred tone, are you more of the serious, focused kind or the more casual faithful one. What message are you trying to pass along? Who is your demographic and what tone do you need to engage in to make them pay attention? You need to make them feel like they are part of your brand and your journey. Think about it.

To learn more about messaging read Share Your Message With A New Brand Strategy.

5. Know when to evoke silence

Sometimes media related war comes your way. It is crucial to identify which battles to fight and which ones to fold. You do not have to engage in all conversations involving your brand. If it’s a controversial topic that may not reflect the brand values, do not engage. Reviews have taken down businesses. Always try acting like “the gentleman” when it comes to social media.

6. Transparency helps

Honesty is the policy and the truth shall set you free. When it comes to social media, lies are a great faux pas. Remember that inclusion is important. Share live streams, create audios and videos that will help your followers stay in touch with brand your activities and updates.

7. Overshare faux pas

Please avoid being pushy or attending to the public’s frivolous whims. Remember that you cannot please everyone. Social media best practices call for precise, goal oriented messages. Posting too often mat look desperate and distracting.

8. Correct timing

Every social media platform has unspoken rules on when and how often to post. For Facebook, there is the famous, post twice a day rule depending on the number of followers. In Twitter, for maximum brand optimization, 1-5 tweets a day are efficient. If you are just looking for opinions, you can tweet till you fall. What usually matters in Instagram, is sticking to the consistency of the amounts you post. You cannot change from 10 posts a day to one in every two days and not see a drop in numbers.

All said and done, do have an interesting social media life and enjoy it to bits!

social media marketing

https google

Why HTTPS Google?

The world is settling in the digital age, privacy and security are the growing concern to most of us. Businesses and individuals are questioning the web on the security of the websites we use to send sensitive information like bank details and credit card information. We have been using different methods of informing the users that the connection that they are using, is secure. One of the methods used was an icon that looks like a lock next to the website address. This is all about to change.

Google launched that HTTPS that would be used as a factor in ranking websites. HTTPS symbolizes HyperText Transfer Protocol. This communication protocol is a safer upgrade from the HTTP that we have been using over the last 30 years. This upgrade enables your websites to transfer information safely and faster. The HTTPS protocol was efficient but was limited in its security functions. It was vulnerable to hackers and interference from third party sites.

How it works

HTTPS Google is an upgraded version of the HTTP that we have gotten used to. Blanketed in protective layers of SSL. The SSL, standing for Secure Sockets Layer that encrypts information sent over the Internet. The function of the SSL serves the purpose of confirming that you are speaking with the right person. It also encrypts and decrypts information being carried out in between two points.

The most intriguing part of this Protocol is that anyone who is trying to intercept your messages will be unable to get the actual information that you send over. So whenever your website is protected, your information is as safe as can be.

What are the benefits for you?

You are not the only one unsure about registering your websites. Most of us are unaware of the benefits that are in store for our websites. Let us look at some of them:

  • It offers you end-to-end encryption to secure private information.
  • It increases trust and confidence in web related transactions
  • It eliminates the need of browser warnings on insecure websites.
  • It keeps your sensitive information from leaking to the wrong hands.
  • HTTPS Google secures rankings for websites that register SSL certificates.
  • It eliminates costs you incur by registering multiple sites under one SSL certificate
  • It increases conversion rates for your website giving you better rankings.

Google HTTPS identification

Google is pushing for you to get your SSL certificates. The websites still under the HTTP protocol will be labeled as not secure. As opposed to remaining neutral or showing a lock, Google has adapted that strategy to be executed in stages. Eventually, Google will change the “circle i” to a red triangle for broken web links to notify the user of the danger. That is effective as of January 31st.

What does this mean for SEO?

A lot of websites are shy from switching to HTTPS because it will affect the SEO rankings attached to your business. This is not true. HTTPS Google is transparently assuring you of its safety.  As a website owner you should take steps to ensure that your website traffic is not affected.

Learn more on how you can increase your wesite traffic through SEO.

You need to communicate with the Google team that you are moving from HTTP to HTTPS. They will direct you on the steps you need to take. HTTPS Google has offered this tips to ensure you are covered.

  • Get certificates according to your needs. Single, wild card or multi- domain certificate
  • Use the same URLs contained in secure domains
  • The bit key certificates you use should be around 2048 bits
  • Use protocol related URLs in al domains
  • Avoid blocking your HTTPS website from crawling through robots.txt.
  • Ensure to avoid non-index Meta tags being issued.
  • Use the https Google tips on Google Webmaster to figure your way around and track your migration to the last detail.

Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS will secure your website a place in this world that is constantly under pressure to develop and advance.

  25 Website Must Haves For Driving Traffic, Leads & Sales

brand identity prism

The Brand Identity Prism

When you think of brands, there are probably a few that come to mind. Brands that you use and see every day are the most prominent; Coca-Cola, Tide, Apple. These multi-billion dollar companies have worked tirelessly to reach their consumer base, and build strong a strong brand identity, and that is a large part of why they’ve prospered.  It can be a little harder to narrow down a B2B brand that is as recognizable as the one mentioned above. Simply put, B2B brands spent less time focusing on brand development, and more time building impressive service packs and data for clientele. That is a big mistake; even B2B companies can significantly benefit from better brand identity. After all, the B2B space can be a crowded one, and the best way to set one’s self apart from the pack is by offering a unique and easily recognizable brand.

Why is Brand Development Important in B2B Marketing?

Brand development is what will set you apart in an often crowded marketplace. B2B consumers are drowning in a sea of sameness. In short, most B2B companies lack personality, which is a driving force behind consumer sales, and what makes the companies mentioned above so successful. To set yourself apart from the crowd, you should build a brand with a personality, with identity, and with something just a little flashy to get a foothold in an over-saturated market.

How is a Brand Identity Developed?

Developing a brand identity takes time and thoughtful consideration. Branding Specialist, Jean-Noel Kapferer has suggested every brand should use the brand identity prism to improve and alter their image. This prism includes personality, physique, culture, relationship, reflection, and self-image.

  • Personality is the way in which the world sees your brand. A b2b brand might want to be seen as cutting-edge or high tech. This character can be portrayed through logos and writing styles.
  • Physique is the physical manifestation of a brand’s identity. Strong, stoic or hip are all physique aspects that can be portrayed. This is done through color schemes, graphics and packaging art.
  • Culture is the way the brand interacts internally and with the world around them. Social media interaction and engagement is a good way to develop a brand culture, and allow other businesses behind the curtain to see what makes your company tick. When businesses and consumers engage with a company via social media, their personal perception of the brand identity improves.
  • Relationship is developed through interactions with current and potential clients. Branding and endorsements can be used to highlight the collaborative relationship businesses build with one another.
  • Reflection and Self-image go hand-in-hand. As a brand, you’ll want to reflect the values and characteristics you clientele wants to see in themselves. With the self-image part of the prism, you’ll also want to reflect how you feel about your own business. A prideful company is one that can be trusted, according to recent research.

To learn more about brand strategy read our article “Share Your Message With A New Brand Strategy “

Branding and identity does not happen overnight. Companies like Apple, Intel, Mastercard, and Coca-Cola have spent decades honing their brand and building an identity.  Reaching a myriad of buyer personas, and identifying your needs as a business are the first steps in the construction of a branding strategy that will set you apart from the crowd. Utilizing the prism for development, however, will get you off to a good start.

Download Our White Paper Guide To Learn How To Perfect Buyer Personas For Your Business

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Web Design Tips to Generate More Leads Online

Building a website for your company is great, but building a website that doesn’t generate any leads online is, well, not so great.  Fortunately designing a site that brings in leads doesn’t have to be too hard or overwhelming. Follow our tips below on how to design a user-friendly website that will draw people in and convert them on the spot.

1. Know Your Audience

The first step before designing your site is to know your audience. You’ll want to create a persona that is a fictitious person that encompasses the characteristic of your typical customer. You can include demographics like age, gender, interests, purchasing habits, online behavior, job positions, hobbies or any other characteristics that you think will influence your target audience’s purchasing decisions. Once you have your personas developed you will be able to create your content based on what would be interesting to them.

This will save you a lot of time and effort that would have been wasted going after people that have little to no interest in what you have to offer. You wan to provide value with your content so it should be centered on how you solve the challenges and problems of your persona so that when they’re looking for solutions they find you.

According to HubSpot, using marketing personas can make your website 2-5 times more effective.

2. Make sure your website is well optimized

That last part brings us to our next tip – optimizing your website. Your audience is researching solutions to their challenges online way before they ever contact you. Website optimization or SEO is how they find your website when conducting their research.

To get the most out of your SEO you’ll want to design your content around your audience and not around search engines.  Publishing content without value to your audience is not going to get you anywhere.  Look for your target audience’s pain points, what they are searching for, and what terms or keywords are they interested then match the keywords in your content to the same terms. You’ll want to look for:

  • Keywords with a high number of searches
  • Keywords with a low competition

Download our guide for more on website optimization techniques.

3. Have compelling CTAs

Driving leads online to your site that don’t convert is essentially useless so you’ll want to capture their contact information.  In order to push your website traffic to the sales funnel you’ll want to have compelling CTAs on pages that cause users to take a specific action. Your call to action must offer your user something they would want in exchange for their information.  This will allow you to follow up and nurture the site traffic into customers long after they have left your site pages. The most compelling CTAs that cause users to convert include:

  • A visible position
  • A clear offering
  • An image or other visible component to grab attention
  • A link to a landing page where they will fill in their information to receive offer
  • A landing page that matches what the CTA had to offer
  • A simple form on the following landing page
  • A strong follow-up email

4. Add Testimonials and Case Studies To Your Website- Video is Best

Testimonials are a great way to attract and convert more leads. People love to see success stories and would be more compelled to contact you if they see that you helped solve problems for companies that were facing the same challenges they’re facing. Video testimonials are the best way to convey your success stories as they put a face and voice behind your success and instantly become more believable. Seeing the face of a happy smiling customer will make you seem trustworthy in the eyes of your potential customers compelling them to want to work with you to achieve the same results.

5. Measure and Test, Test, Test

This is a simple step but sadly often overlooked. Be sure to test everything on your site for bugs as nothing can make your audience flee faster than a broken link or bad user experience. A/b test different website page or content offers to see which one is more of interest to your visitors and consistently add new content to your site to improve your site.

Keep these tips in mind when designing your site and you’ll have an online “salesperson” that drives in qualified online leads ready to convert.

Inbound marketing will help you grow your business by attracting website visitors, converting them into leads and closing leads into customers