Category Archives: Brand purpose

Disruption vs. Innovation: Is There Really a Difference?

disruption

The last 5 years have been the hey-day of disruption. We’ve seen Airbnb turn hospitality on its head, Oscar rock the health insurance world, and Snapchat change the social media game forever.

But what makes what these brands have done any different from what you do with every product launch or new service you offer? Is it not just innovation – but on a bigger, further-reaching, more lucrative scale?

For sure, innovation can be successful and profitable, too, but disruption isn’t just about dollar signs or fancy new offerings. It’s about changing the very landscape it operates in.

Different Sides of the Same Coin

Think of it like this: A disruption is always an innovation – it’s new, different and never been done before. But an innovation? That’s not always a disruptor. In fact, very few ever are.

Simply put, innovation is change. Now, usually this change is a positive one – something that improves an already existing product or service, or one that makes things better, easier, more convenient or more affordable for the end user.

A good example is the Keurig. While not a game-changing disruption, the Keurig was certainly an innovative step up from the old Mr. Coffee of days old. Instead of being forced to brew a whole pot, risking 5 cups of precious black gold getting poured down the drain, caffeine lovers could use the Keurig to get a quick, one-cup fix. It was simple, effective and a big improvement in the convenience arena for most users.

But was it a disruptor? Definitely not.

A New Game

A disruptor literally changes the game. Depending on the industry, it may alter how business is done (think of how Uber changed the way transportation services are called, priced and even paid for), or it could change how customers in the industry think and behave (like how Snapchat makes users more apt to share private and sensitive photos, because they know they’ll disappear in just a matter of seconds.)

Basically, disruption takes a current market (or a technology or industry), and replaces it with a different one – usually a more efficient, effective and faster one.

There’s also a large amount of destruction involved in disruptions. In order to create a new landscape, the disruptor first has to tear down what already existed – making those products, services or even the entire industry it operates in a moot point.

It might be a hard pill to swallow for non-disruptors in the sector (and a costly one as well), but in the end, disruption usually means a better product or service on the whole. And if others can catch up, that’s good for everyone involved – especially the customer.

Are You Disrupting or Innovating?

Both disruptions and innovations can propel your business forward, but if you really want to make an impact on the marketplace (and eliminate any competition), disruption is the only way to go. Want to make sure you don’t fall victim to unforeseen disruptors in your industry? Check out my last post on protecting yourself from disruption – and becoming a disruptor yourself.

 

Disruption Interruption: How Your Brand Can Do It

disruption

We’re living in an age of disruption. Companies like Uber and Lyft turned the transportation industry on its head, while artificial intelligence is doing the same for the brick-and-mortar retail world.

It’s a time of change and growth. And the only thing that’s predictable anymore is that nothing is predictable anymore.

For business owners, that can be pretty scary. It basically means that no matter how long a brand has been around, how much business it’s done or how much it’s loved by customers, there’s no longer a guarantee of success.

At any time of any day, someone – or something – could come in a change the game, and all past assumptions go out the window.

So what can you do?

Do you just sit back and wait for the impact? Or is there something you can do today – right now – to help protect your brand for potential disruption?

No matter what industry you’re in, lying down and rolling over for the new guys isn’t the right option. Here’s what you can do to stave off disruptors and protect your business in the age of constant change:

  1. Don’t want disruptions to catch you off guard? Then try to predict them. Put together a team of your most creative, innovative, outside-the-box thinkers, and ask them to simply brainstorm. What are the craziest things that could happen in your industry? What amazing things – if there were no financial, geographical or technical boundaries – would they want to see your company do or produce? Tell them the skies the limit, and see what they come up with. Odds are, even their most far-fetched ideas are already in the pipeline somewhere on the globe.
  2. Tune in. Stay apprised of what your market wants. That includes what they want from you and your products, as well as just what they want in business, love, and life in general. Find new ways to deliver on these desires, and evolve as the market demands. Better yet, evolve before the market demands. Give your customers what they want, before they even know they want it. (Great ways to tune into your customers: social media, surveys, interviews, polls, focus groups, customer think tanks.)s
  3. Disrupt. If you don’t want disruptors to hurt your business, become the disruptor yourself. Be the one who takes your competitors down a notch and catapults your industry to a new level that customers never imagined. Hire innovators and thinkers who can push your products and services to the limits, and never be satisfied with the status quo. Work outside the box, kick conventional ideas to the curb and don’t ascribe to it-worked-before-it-will-work-again model of business. Make constant evolution a mainstay of your organization.

You never know when disruptions will hit, so start taking steps today to protect your brand from potential disruptors in the midst. Need help? Want to be the disruptor in your industry? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.

 

How to Traverse Today’s Changing Marketing Landscape

marketing

Marketing tactics are more diverse than ever. Hyper-targeted and interactive, nearly every method connects directly with the consumers, allowing them to be just one step away from a purchase.

Unlike the days of yore, marketers no longer have a clearly defined role. They don’t just simply create an ad, post it in some predetermined space and wait for consumers to inevitably see it. They have to work for it. They have to seek out customers. They have to find the target buyers and reach them directly.

This can make marketing anything incredibly difficult – whether you sell shoes, software or some sort of service. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ease the pain.

Are you trying to traverse today’s unsteady marketing landscape? Not sure what to pour your money into? Here’s what to do:

  • Power up with data. Learn as much as you can about your customers – their buying habits, their interests and finances, and more. Use this data to segment your efforts into the most granular level you can. You want to deliver a message that is targeted as much as possible, so you really speak to each customer’s individual needs and wants.
  • Forget keeping your marketing department in silos. Your web team shouldn’t be working separately from your print folks or your cold-calling sales reps. Integrate all your marketing efforts and interweave your digital and physical strategies. They should work together and play off each other, not operate in isolation.
  • Test and learn. No matter how much research you do, sometimes marketing efforts just don’t work – or they don’t work as well as you’d hoped. Set up A/B test versions of all your campaigns, so you can more easily spot what works and what doesn’t. Keep tweaking until you find a strategy that really resonates with your target audience.
  • Get creative with content. Not all marketing has to be done with ad dollars. Use content to attract new customers and sell more products. Social media offers a great platform for this, as does a blog. Developing relationships with journalists and media members can also help.

Are you finding today’s marketing options just a little overwhelming? Don’t throw your money blindly at every new strategy that’s out there. Let Haley Brand’s marketing experts help you determine the absolute best path to success for your business. Contact us today to get started.

 

Loyalty or Frustration: What Are Your Rewards Programs Fostering?

reward program

Over the past decade, as online shopping has grown in popularity so has the customer reward program. In an effort to encourage more repeat sales, retailers all over the web – and the world – have started to offer points-based systems. These allow customers to earn rewards or even cash toward future purchases just for buying something from a store.

While the underlying purpose of these programs is obvious – to boost customer loyalty – the truth is they often do the exact opposite of that.

In fact, if done improperly, rewards programs may even turn a customer off to a brand.

It’s true: Retailer reward programs have the power to create long-term customer relationships or actually prevent them.

How the Reward Program Can Go Wrong

It may sound weird that a reward program may actually push customers away from your brand, but I promise you it happens – and a lot more often than you’d expect.
Here’s the scenario: You offer customers points for every purchase they make. Say Sally buys two shirts from your store. She gets 20 points per shirt. At the end of her purchase, she finds out she has earned 40 points.

But to turn those points in for a reward, she needs a minimum of 50 points.
That means she’s merely 10 points away from something free … and who doesn’t love freebies?

Though you’d think this would make Sally say, “Great! When I buy a new bathing suit this summer, I’ll use this shop and get the reward then!” That’s logical. But is everyone logical? Definitely not.

In reality, you leave Sally thinking “They do that intentionally. They make their shirts 20 points each, so you have to buy a bunch in order to qualify. That’s how they get you!”

Even if her purchase arrives quickly and Sally loves the shirts, she’s still likely to leave your store with a bad taste in her mouth. You tried to con her. You tried to get her to spend more money than she should.

Now, I’m not saying every shopper thinks like this or even that rewards programs can’t work. The moral of this story is that you need to know your customer first. How much is the average person going to spend? Are your products something they will need to purchase often or just once in a while?

You don’t want to make your rewards too hard to come by. In fact, if you can help them get a reward on their first purchase, you’re even more likely to get repeat business after that. That’s definitive.

You also need to be careful about how you advertise your rewards programs. Make sure customers know about it – and the rewards you’re offering – before they make their purchase, and be very detailed in describing the system and how it works.

Poorly articulated programs will only make your customers feel ripped off and frustrated!

Implement the Right Program

Rewards programs can certainly work, but they’re not for every brand. If you’re looking for a way to inspire customer loyalty and foster long-term buyer relationships, let Haley Brand Intelligence help. We can craft a customized solution that can help your company reach the right buyers in the right way. Contact us today to talk.

 

How to Give Your Brand a Purpose

brand purpose

In this day and age, having a brand that looks cool is no longer enough. If you’re trying to build up a passionate, fervent following, your company needs to stand for something – to say something and have a purpose.

This is especially true if your target demo is the Millennial. This unique audience is looking for more than just a company with great products. They’re looking for a cause to support. And as a brand, that’s just what you should give them.

But how do you position your brand to do that? How do you give a nonthinking, nonfeeling entity a purpose, values and a voice? Well, it’s certainly not as easy as other aspects of branding are. You can’t just hand it off to a great designer and wait for a killer logo to hit your inbox. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

Fortunately, we’ve helped hundreds of brands develop their “purpose” over the years, and we have a few tips that can point you in the right direction. If you want to have a purpose-driven brand with a passionate band of followers, here’s where to start:

  • Know your audience. What do they care about? What issues are important? What do they like, dislike and find important? Your purpose needs to tap into this.
  • Build a purpose around that audience. Forget designing a logo that fits your demo’s likes and dislikes. Instead, focus on building a brand lifestyle and purpose around those factors. Targeting the surfer type? Create a lifestyle around your brand that’s cool, calm and relaxed. Trying to hit up the more formal, professional buyer? Build a brand lifestyle that’s organized, high-tech and forward-thinking. That lifestyle is your purpose. It’s what customers will get behind, believe in and get excited about.
  • Stand up for that lifestyle. Find ways to promote that lifestyle, as well as stand up for issues that matter in that lifestyle. If you’re targeting the surfer type, as in the last example, why not donate X percent of your proceeds to clean up California beaches? Or if you’re targeting the business-type, host an event or tradeshow that can bring together all the vendors and services they might need to be successful. Get creative!
  • Be authentic and consistent. Let your purpose permeate all that you do – and be authentic about it. Work it into your social media, your customer services and even your internal culture. Make it a part of your everyday conversation around the water cooler and with customers. Let it be the driving factor for all that you do.

Does your brand have a purpose? What does it stand for? What lifestyle does it offer your customers? If you’re not sure, it may be time to take a second look at your branding strategy. Want help? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.

 

 

 

How to Build Brand Loyalty With Millennials

MillennialsOne of the biggest buzzwords in marketing today is “Millennials” (a term defined as consumers between the ages of 18 and 33, also known as Generation Y). Every time you turn around, everyone seems to be talking about Millennials. Our fascination with the current largest generational population is a global event. But what is it about this group that is so captivating and how do we connect with them on a more personal marketing level?

This group of up-beat, optimistic go-getters see the world from a very different perspective than the generations before them. This is the first group to have been truly born in and grown up with technology. Rare is it to find a Generation Y member who is not within arm’s reach of at least one piece of technology (smartphones, tablets, mp3 players and even communication watches). This group of Star Trekgroupy offspring walk around with the world at their fingertips and view themselves as part of a global collective.

Breaking Down the Millennial’s Loyaty

There are three key rules that every marketer must keep in mind when reaching out to this high-tech, all-inclusive band of up-and-comers:

  1. Always remain real
  2. Always focus on them, and
  3. Always be available

Millennials are active on their mobile devices constantly throughout the day. If you want to reach them, you simply need to create campaigns that are honest, speak their language and are available 24/7. Engaging a Gen Y group member is about storytelling with a message that meets their needs – that’s the way to stand out in their world of constant messaging and multitasking informational digestion.

An estimated 64% of Millennials say they feel at least as much brand loyalty to their favorite brands as their parents do to their own favorite brands, according to a recent report from Adroit Digital. This report, based on a survey of 2,000 U.S. Millennials, found that 40% of them say they feel the same level of loyalty as their parents, and 24% say they feel more. Less than one-third admitted to feeling less loyalty or none at all.

Location, Location, Location

Understanding the Millennial mindset is only half the battle. The other strategic element is all about location – be where they are when they are ready to hear your message.

While television is still king (approximately 70 percent say this is where they are influenced the most), a large number list social media and online engagement as their top line of incoming information. Blogs, videos and other sharable content are elements that marketers can create and place in the path of a Millennial. And unlike television or radio, which must select when it will be available, online content is something that is available constantly, regardless of the day or time. This “always open” medium is playground in which the members of Generation Y spend their time and where marketers must be in order to connect with them.

Three Ways to Create Brand Advocates

People Marching with BullhornsWhen it comes to finding customers, many companies spend a lot of time focusing on strategies for acquiring new customers but don’t put as much energy into retention strategies.

However, putting strategies and programs in place that allow you to not only foster but to also develop a long-term relationship with your customers is one of the best ways to impact your bottom line. Turning your one-time or annual customer into a brand advocate will both strengthen your sales and grow your brand’s online presence.

Here are three great ways to turn your average consumer into a brand advocate:

  • Give Them Exceptional Customer Service

In today’s market, delivering the basics on products and services is a requirement in order to retain any consumer. However, companies who excel, oftentimes the most forward-thinking ones, have figured out that by surpassing the status quo, they not only surpass consumer expectations, they create experiences worth sharing.

Consumers who have an exceptional experience share with other consumers. This sharing of an experience by one often leads to new customers – just as the sharing of a negative experience often turns potential new customers away.

But don’t just rely on word of mouth. Give your customers a platform in which they can share with others. Encourage testimonials online, send out follow-up emails after they’ve spoken with someone from your company, and ask questions on Facebook and LinkedIn about their experiences.

  • Provide Advocates With the Tools They Need

Study after study shows that customers who spend the most aren’t always the ones who generate the greatest value when it comes to referrals. For your lower-spending customers, make sure they have a reason to share your story and that they have the full story.

Create a blog, open a forum, and encourage customers to share online about your products and services. Develop a robust “About Us” on your website that tells the story of your company and create a section that shares the everyday life of your company with your consumers. Adding photos or videos to your website is a great way to personalize the experience and gives your brand advocates sharable information.

  • Invite Customers to Become Brand Advocates

Not every customer has what it takes to become a brand advocate. Want to know who to target? Look for customers that fill out your surveys, return email questionnaires, and provide feedback about your brand, service and products online on social platforms.  Once you’ve identified this group, invite them to provide a testimonial, online or video.  Also give your brand advocates a bit of additional love with promotions, early-release purchase opportunities and words of appreciation.

Using Big Data in Brand Development and Marketing

Big data is the large collection of data sets that collects, captures and curates information from the Internet. It’s the technology the government uses to track the spread of diseases in order to stop it from further infecting people. It can see the trends in congested traffic areas and address the problem to relieve those areas. It’s also the same technology companies like Amazon and Google use to improve the interactions users have with the Internet.

How are Businesses Using Big Data?

Including big data in market strategies like inbound and outbound marketing is used for lead generation, lead nurturing and retargeting. This is accomplished by meeting the demands of the consumers in order to make their online experience that much better. Marketing tactics shouldn’t necessarily feel like tactics, but like conveniences – like your company is working with the Internet to make their life better.

With inbound marketing, the consumers are already coming to you. Implementing data sets to track what kind of information those consumers are looking for, you can make their experience better. Cut their search short by meeting them halfway, already with the information they need or are interested in.

Outbound marketing has been around for much longer; however, it is the more evasive form of marketing and is harder to determine how effective it actually is. On the Internet, outbound marketing takes form in banners, created by the cookies dropped on a webpage visit. These banners will follow the consumer around, everywhere he or she goes on the Internet.

Collecting information on whether or not the consumer clicks on those banners and makes the final purchase is hard to decipher. This is mainly difficult because of all of the independent variables to be considered: for example, “What led the consumer to click the banner in the first place?”

The Vital Key to Making this Work

First, you must curtail your data collection to only receive data that’s relevant to your business strategy. Amazon, for example, uses big data to generate product recommendations for their consumers. They receive the information of what the individual likes and can make further suggestions based on those products. A business should figure out what kind of data they need to respond to meet the needs of their consumers.

From there, to make inbound and outbound marketing work, efforts must be focused on analyzing data. The data collected from your websites and consumer trends is only as good as how it’s interpreted. It’s important to invest time in the information collected and take action.

Marketing Luxury Brands: How to be Successful

Living in luxury has become a symbol of social status, leaving the thirst for the latest and rarest hard to quench. People are more willing than ever to pay for products based solely on brand, status or experience.

Connecting with this market group proves difficult because on the one side you want to attract consumers to your product in order to make sales, but on the other side you want your product to maintain its high value. If the product is too obtainable, it loses its uniqueness and perceived higher value.

Marketing luxury is further challenging because a key component to luxury lies in the experience itself. Somehow, luxury brands need to create an experience for their consumers, something to differentiate themselves from other similar products. They must position themselves in a way that shows the unique and spectacular qualities of their luxury brand experience.

The top three aircraft manufacturers, Gulfstream, Boeing and Airbus, are classic examples of marketing different aspects of their products to appeal to a variety of consumers. All three aircraft manufacturers have extravagant interiors and similar onboard features and capabilities, so they’ve had to establish a marketing platform to further differentiate them.

Boeing and Airbus jets are similar in size and both are passenger planes with the ability to convert into business jets. Boeing and Airbus aircraft allow the customer to send their planes to completion centers to receive client-specified customized interiors. These planes allow for bedrooms, conferences rooms, bathrooms, media rooms and whatever else the client imagines. As much personalization and luxury as desired can go into the interior. Airbus goes as far as to call their planes flying palaces.

It takes meticulous market planning on their part to create a different experience for the two, and this is where pedigree and performance define a brand.

Boeing has its pedigree – they’ve been manufacturing planes longer and have consistently built a solid product. People who go with Boeing are buying into their long-trusted name, their history of success and their luxury aircraft designs.

Airbus focuses on performance, continually improving upon what they have created. They are always testing new technology and working on increasing their energy efficiency in order to attract customers who are concerned with having the most modern form of travel.

Now, this doesn’t mean that Airbus doesn’t have a solid history in building planes, nor does it mean Boeing isn’t energy-efficient. They have simply chosen to market themselves in different ways, and the market has responded to their differing marketing platforms.

Gulfstream has a little more wiggle room for creativity in their marketing because they are the only of three brands that specifically builds business jets. They are built for speed using the Rolls-Royce jet engines; travel time in a Gulfstream is significantly shorter. In fact, their product description states that, “if time is money, then that’s money in the pocket.” Its unique experience is its ability to get you back on the ground faster.

Their interiors are luxurious and made by Gulfstream, but there is less opportunity for personalization. There are set layouts and preset fabric and color palettes. This is not to say they aren’t luxurious; their focus just isn’t on making the plane a home.

Building Brand Trust Online: The Rules of Engagement

18445830_sAny successful brand marketing portfolio now includes social media.  Although it has been a growing trend for years, many brands are still trying to get their hands around how to best impact their bottom lines via the social sphere.  As brands try to navigate this space that is still new and ever growing, many are overlooking one very important element – the concept of trust.

Basic human nature prevents our relationships from ever going past a certain level if there is no trust.  It’s a protective mechanism that is housed and deeply rooted in all of us.  The same goes for brands seeking to build relationships with consumers online: without trust, the relationship will only get so far.

In order to develop trust online, brands must first build a social media dialogue that will grow and evolve into a trusting, fruitful relationship.  Unlike traditional marketing, social media gives brands a chance to interact directly and immediately with consumers.  This direct access is a powerful tool and one that must be monitored in order to ensure it is always being used in a manner that builds on trust and moves your relationship with consumers forward.

As social media audiences have grown substantially over recent years and demographic reach continues to expand, brands can no longer ignore the opportunity for communicating their brand value and building brand trust by engaging with customers online.  But how can brands take advantage of social media without compromising the relationship and trust they have developed with their consumers?

Here are five ways brands can build trust with current and future customers online through social media:

  • Transparency:  In today’s world, transparency is an inherent reality.  Consumers will be talking about your brand online, so you need to embrace this and get involved in guiding the conversation instead of just letting it happen without you.  Mistakes happen, so own up to them online. Consumers will respond much more positively to a brand that takes ownership publicly and explains the situation.  The same goes for growth and new products.  Let your customers know what’s coming and thank them for their input in guiding your decision.  Being truly transparent creates a natural sense of trust.
  • Always Be Available:  Consumers need to know you’re online and that they can always reach you.  The ability to connect anytime is a great catalyst toward building trust. This online channel is also a great opportunity to provide additional service in front of a larger audience.  But what if the customer voices a complaint?  Have no fear!  These opportunities can often turn into great testimonials when customers are handled with care and honesty, and quite often these customers will become some of your strongest brand advocates.
  • Project Accountability:  Brands who openly engage in social media and encourage their customers to interact with them project a certain level of accountability.  In using social media aggressively, brands can essentially hold themselves accountable to their consumer base by providing better products, services and customer appreciation.  And what’s even better is that it will all be done on a global stage, providing additional marketing leverage.
  • Engage With Enthusiasm:  An easy way to gain trust and strengthen your relationship with your customers is to simply entertain them.  Don’t always focus your online message on your company – show a lighter side and talk about what’s going on around you, introduce your staff or share thoughts on a hot topic.  Provide value to your customers in a fun and creative way through daily content, videos, contests and infographics.  This is an excellent way to keep your customers engaged, and typically, if they find it entertaining, they will also share it with others, increasing your overall marketing reach.
  • Always Practice Social Responsibility:  Letting your customers know that you care about others more than yourself or your bottom line is an exceptional way to foster trust.  Socially responsible brands traditionally gain more momentum and support because their customers know they aren’t just about profits but also are interested in giving back to the community.  Social media is the perfect platform upon which to promote your brand’s social involvement.

When marketing your brand online, remember to embrace the customer, stay true to who you are and engage openly.  These basic rules will provide the foundation upon which to build a long-lasting relationship of trust with your customers.