effective marketing strategies

Creative Marketing Solutions

There are many creative marketing strategies that you can implement in order to increase outreach to customers and improve your bottom line. While many businesses are going above and beyond in their search for creative marketing solutions, you can simply seek to be creative within the 4 basic components of an online marketing approach (i.e. brand development, inbound marketing, content marketing and email marketing).

By seeking creative solutions within these 4 tactics, you can develop a successful creative marketing strategy. Here’s how:

Creativity in Brand Development

A creative way of increasing the relevance of your brand is by making your brand tell a story. Story-banding is an effective way to connect emotionally to your customers so they can see your products as having a greater purpose. You can achieve story-branding for your company by highlighting the inspiration behind your products and services.

Emphasize what motivates your company to achieve its goals (for example creativity, self-fulfillment, better health etc.), and incorporate your operations as a means towards achieving this goal. That way you can make your brand the hero of its own story, one which customers will relate to.

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

Creativity in Inbound marketing

A creative way to generate leads to your website is by having unique, yet appropriate content across all your channels. One approach you can use is to dedicate a portion of your site for product education.

If you are selling a well-known product, you could come up with creative ways on how the product can be used, how to make it last longer, behind the scenes details on how it works, etc.

One company that uses product education as a tool for its inbound marketing strategy is Gonesh Incense. The company produces incense products and has a DIY blog that contains videos on how their products can be used in many different ways; from re-using flowers after Valentine’s Day to making bath salts using their fragrance oils.

Such content is not only useful and appropriate to potential leads, but it also helps their brand establish trust and stronger relationships with customers.

Read more on The Benefits Of Inbound Marketing.

Creativity in Email Marketing

When you send out emails, incorporate interactive elements such as GIFS, rotating banners and menus. You could display an enticing sales discount or a new product launch by using a GIF. You could also categorize information about your product under different headings within a menu in the email.

This gives your customers the independence to browse product information and select whichever section they would like to read more about, right within the email.

Read more on Interactive Email Trends.

Creativity in Social Media Marketing

One way that you can utilize social media creatively is by developing targeted messages that appeal to common groups of people online, who you can bring together in relevant social media groups.

For example, a company specializing in manufacturing bicycles can create a fan page for cyclists and bring them together through targeted messages that contain useful information that applies to cycling. The more cyclists the company is able to attract to join the group, the more they can incorporate their branding into the fan page and begin to nurture their leads.

Read more on 8 Tips on Social Media Best Practices For Your Business.

Creative marketing solutions are the future of online marketing. By simply rethinking and refocusing the conventional ways through which you carry out your online marketing, you can be able to achieve creative marketing solutions and grow your bottom line.

b2b branding

B2B Branding Tips For The New Buyer

Over the past few years, B2B business has seen a dramatic shift in the decision makers involved in purchasing. Now more than ever before Millennials are at the forefront of the company decisions especially when it comes to purchasing. According to a survey conducted by Google 2015 was the first year that nearly half of all B2B purchase influencers were Millennials. This shift impacts not only the B2B branding message but where that message is displayed as well since most Millennials spend a majority of their day online.

One of the biggest differences between Millennials and decision makers in the past is how they evaluate and research potential purchases. The same traditional advertising that worked on baby boomers is not going to work on Millennials and chances are they’re much further down in the purchase funnel before they even contact you. Thanks to the Internet and social media, decision makers do their own research on what they need, want, and whom they want to work with.

With more than 87 percent of online Millennials using Facebook and other social media sites, it’s imperative that your business has a strong social media and online presence however it’s not as simple as setting up pages and scheduling out posts. Millennials are looking for brands that are approachable, easy to navigate and as odd as this sounds more human.  Even in this hyper-connected world people still want to be connected with real people, especially in B2B transactions. The most successful B2B companies have utilized their social media pages to reach out directly to their customers and build a sense of community with their brand and customers. It’s extremely important to assure your audience that you or your team of people will be there for them and that you can solve some of their pain points.

Read more on Using Your Brand Story To Reach Millennials In Business.

So, how does a brand convey all of this to their audience? Here are 4 things you should be talking about in your B2B branding:

Have a Purpose

Many argue that this is more geared to B2C businesses but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Showing your company culture and your core values, or the reason why you do what you do is just as important in B2B marketing. Millennials more than any other audience are looking to work with companies that leave a positive impact on the world or those that have a great story about how they started.  Your brand values such as your mission statement and communication style will help create a personality and purpose behind your brand.

Read more on improving your B2B customer experience.

Knowledge

Potential customers are looking to solve a problem and they need to be confident that you will be able to solve it for them. Showing that you’re an authoritative source is one of the most important parts of your B2B branding.

Service

B2B buyers want someone that’s going to still make them feel that they have a 1 to 1 relationship even if they never communicate with you directly. Show them that you’re a company with real people who are willing to go the extra mile to get the job done.

Dependability

Showing that you can be depended on will take your brand messaging far. B2B buyers need to know that they can depend on you to get the job done so they can focus on other parts of their business. They don’t want to feel that they need to micromanage your work.

This generation is looking to be proud of who they purchase from. Today’s world is so much more transparent and connected and Millennials are not only used to that they expect you to be as well. It’s important that they are proud of who they buy from. By using ‘story branding’ companies can set a tone and feel for who they are and why they do what they do. With buyers getting inundated with so many screens and messages, stories help keep your B2B branding clear to your audience. The story with the strongest messaging that delivers an authentic feeling will stand out from the crowd. At the end of the day, B2B buyers are still, in fact, people and people love a good story.

brand development process

The Brand Development Process Demystified

“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. You can’t control the process but you can influence it.” Marty Neumeier- Brand Gap

Grandeur, class, and opulence are what come to your mind at the mention of a Rolls-Royce. This is because Rolls-Royce has defined and positioned itself as such. A good brand should be a culture associated with something irreplaceable.

Brand development process is being able to influence your audience to believe that they are buying into an adventure, an identity. It needs careful formulation to represent your business properly. Based on recognizable brands, here is the development process solved:

Discovery

As you think of a way to create your brand, think of it as a person. Can you define your personality? Your analysis should be able to answer the WHY question- why a customer should buy from you and not somebody else.

SWOT analysis has been commonly used to give a clear picture of company characteristics. Identify favorable and unfavorable internal and external factors of your company. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Other analytic tools include PESTEL and Porter’s Five Forces which measure influence and competitive intensity in the outside environment respectively.

Read more on Discovering Your True Brand Story and Bringing It To Life

Positioning

“Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.” Theodore Levitt-Professor, Harvard Business School

Once you have discovered where you stand, develop your product promise. You must position yourself as provider of such to your audience. What is your unique selling proposition (USP)? Make your brand appeal different and focus on developing a unique USP applicable to your product/ service. Let your target market know that whatever you offer them is a solution to their problems.

Learn How To Strenghten Your Brand Through These Competitive Advantage Examples.

Visual expression

First impressions are the most lasting. Many customers are guilty of buying the packaging rather than the product. Think of all the people through centuries that have given their lives for a flag to appreciate the power of visual expression. Your brand development process should harness this visual reaction in people. Make them believe that your product stands for something, is different, and comes as authentic. Verbal expressions, design, packaging, sales and marketing are aids of powerful product impression.

Constant evolution

You can either change or let the change change you. Just like in football or any game, you have to stay relevant or face the bench. Your brand should be perceived as you want it to be long after you have launched your product. Constant evolution saves you from being obsolete and is vital in brand development process because it never stops. In order to be considered a brand, you should make your presence felt at all times by sustaining it. A good company always has ongoing research or audits to find out how to appraise their image, products, and services.

 

b2b marketing strategy

Integrating Story Branding With Your B2B Marketing Strategy

Marketers have realized that their audiences’ attention spans are getting shorter by the day. In an effort to get it back, they resort to anything to engage them: humor, sex, etc. However, it is one thing to get involved in a commercial and another to get involved in a brand. Successful brands market by forging a deeper emotional connection using story branding.

In a technique called The Hero’s Quest, they create a story with a hero, a conflict, and a resolution. The hero has a certain drive like love that leads him to action past certain barriers and eventual conquest. Generating emotional connection with the story is what sells. To be successful in B2B marketing strategy, make your brand the hero of your own story.

Where story branding and marketing integrate:

Distinction

Consumers have vast amounts of choice today but are drawn to the one they can relate to. Distinction is vital in any marketing strategy. A good, realistic brand story enhances a brand’s overall presence regardless of its competitive position in the industry. The right perception hits the audiences’ emotional quotient, tipping it in your favor. Wrapping up your brand in a more meaningful story context further adds value to it. To fellow businesses, buying your product will mean getting higher utility compared to the others in the competition.

Humanizing your brand

A successful B2B marketing strategy is one that humanizes your brand. A brand story cannot be underestimated in doing the job. Individual experiences like those of Steve Jobs, when fed into a company message, go a long way in personalizing and even achieving celebrity like status for your brand. You can use employee or your founder experience for this. Although you cannot have complete control of your story, a little positive twist helps to strengthen it by making it more interesting. Your marketing strategy is even boosted further as a result. A story should be a corporate persuasion tool that leads your audience to you.

Read more on 4 Strategies For Improving Your B2B Customer Experience.

Emotion is more compelling than a straight fact

In spoken word, good oratory skills are regarded highly and can be more compelling when they involve more emotion than fact. Arousing an audiences’ emotion can create big turnaround in your brand path. The Royal navy for example, uses stories to boost confidence and productivity where it is expected of the military to have a tough, factual approach to communication. That B2B cannot use warm and emotive storytelling is not a true rationale. Make your story more willingly received and memorable to achieve greater marketing success.

Interplay

There is a two way exchange between telling a story and marketing success. Story branding strengthens your business whereas a good, stronger business performance reinforces your story. Similarly, poor performance becomes part of your brand story just as easily. A B2B marketing strategy can be shaped but success will always depended on perception. Story branding is one way of building this perception.

ingredient branding

What is Ingredient Branding & How Does It Work?

There are many different marketing strategies to employ to increase the value and name recognition of your business. There are traditional marketing strategies, like commercials, billboards, and events. Then there are digital marketing strategies, like social media advertising, contests/giveaways, and community engagement.

Each of these methods can be a great strategy for getting your business name out there, generating new leads and customers, and growing your business. If you’ve been in business for awhile and already have an established business name, then you have some potential advantages for increasing your business’s value and brand recognition. One of these advantages is a strategy called ingredient branding.

What is Ingredient Branding?

Ingredient branding is a marketing strategy where a component of the business is branded as a separate entity. This helps to add more value to the parent company and make their product/service seem superior to its competitors.

You’ve probably seen this strategy in use several times before without even realizing it. Here are a few examples of ingredient branding by large brands:

  • Dodge’s Hemi engines
  • Citgo’s TriCLEAN fuel
  • Dupont’s Teflon
  • Intel’s Intel Inside

Intel Inside is actually credited with the conception of ingredient branding back in the ’90s, and was the first success story of having an ingredient helping to promote their business.

Learn more on Food Retail Marketing to Millennials

How Does Ingredient Branding Work?

Each of these ingredients were developed and branded separately from the main business to make their product seem better. Dodge put together an entire campaign around “That thing got a Hemi?” to help promote the engines they use in their trucks. When Citgo started branding its TriCLEAN fuel, it was able to focus more on the quality of its fuel over its competition, rather than only competing with gas prices.

These two cases are specifically about an already well-known company branding an ingredient that it already uses to help increase value of its product.

But there are other ways that ingredient branding can work. Some products are already ingredients in and of themselves. Let’s think of a few:

  • Tide detergent
  • Arm & Hammer baking soda
  • Splenda sweetener
  • OnStar
  • Oreo
And so many more.

Let’s dive into these examples. Tide detergent is already a well-known brand. However, you’ll often see other cleaning supplies that contain Tide. Since these products know that consumers love Tide detergent, they’ve worked with the company to include Tide as an ingredient and help promote their product.

This works both ways, though. When Tide is included as an ingredient in another company’s product, it receives even more promotion for their own brand. So essentially, the financial deal struck between the two companies is mutually beneficial.

Arm & Hammer is another popular ingredient brand. You’ll see products like cat litter, toothpaste, and more that contain Arm & Hammer baking soda. Splenda sweetener is another ingredient brand that consumers will commonly see promoted among other products.

Back to vehicles, OnStar’s security service is seen as an amenity when buying a car. This means that customers will pay more for a car with this feature installed, which can be pretty valuable for an automaker.

And finally, Oreo is a popular cookie that is sometimes used as an ingredient in other products, like cookies and cream ice cream, McDonald’s McFlurries, and coffee flavoring.

Learn more about 7 Steps To Launching a Packaging Brand

Can Ingredient Branding Help Your Business?

If your business isn’t prominent enough to be branded as an ingredient, perhaps your business is one that can benefit from including an ingredient in its product or service. By including a well-known ingredient in your business model, you’re able to promise a level of quality that is already well-known to consumers.

One example of an ingredient in the digital marketing world is social media scheduling tool Buffer. If possible, many new SaaS companies in the digital marketing will offer Buffer integration with their service because they know how popular Buffer is.

Offering a well-known ingredient in your product or service can be a great way to promote your product to consumers who already use that ingredient in other products.

Ingredient branding is a great way to provide more value and marketability to your business. What are some popular ingredient brands that you’ve heard of?

brand marketing

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?

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 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.

Creating A Brand To Become President

Whether you are a fan of politics or prefer to stay on the side lines, the race for the presidency has always been about strategy and timing. This election has broken many barriers, but one thing for certain is that both candidates have established a presidential brand. Read more

seven steps to launching a packaging brand

Seven Steps To Launching A Packaging Brand

Stevens & Tate Marketing is proud to announce the launch of a new product called Truly Supplements. It just landed on the shelves of Walgreens this week, and I am so proud of our team for launching the brand. We have launched countless brands for Aldi and Walgreens with our proven brand development process. Here are the seven steps to launching a packaging brand. Read more

10 Rules Of Brand Development

Jerome Conlon | Branding Strategy Insider

As marketers we know, a unique position and identity in the marketplace is required for brands to leverage and develop brand equity into new value or to command an orchestrated, sustainable, competitive advantage upon which to build reliable long-term success. As markets and cultures evolve, so too must the art of brand development. At this point in time there are ten rules to brand development: Read more