Category Archives: Digital Media

5 Actions that Build Brand Trust

brand trust

Today’s tech-savvy consumer doesn’t buy from just anyone. With all the options out there and the ease with which one can compare prices, read reviews and study up on brands, there’s no need to settle for a less-than-ideal brand anymore.

Customers can have their cake and eat it, too.

It’s this stone-cold buying approach that makes brand trust even more crucial than it has been in years past. As a brand, trust is what can put you above a competitor in a customer’s eye – even if your price points are higher or your products are a little bit different. It’s also what can keep a buyer coming back for more, time and time again.

Do you know how to build brand trust? Here are 5 actions that do it every time:

Providing value.

Today’s consumer is wise. They don’t want their time wasted, and they know full well there are other brands that can give them what they need if you can’t deliver. Want to keep them around? Give them value at every touchpoint. Stop using your blog to promote your latest sale, but instead show your buyers how to style the clothes they buy from you or install the software you sold them. Forget flooding their inboxes with ads and spam, and send them rewards money or coupon codes. Deliver something useful to your customers, and they’ll repay you with repeat purchases and brand advocacy in spades.

Going live.

Nothing is more transparent or authentic than a real, live interaction with someone. That can mean showing up to a trade show, answering phone calls or even using Facebook to live-stream some behind-the-scenes footage of your brand at work. Show customers you’re real, you’re here, and you’re part of their world.

Being raw.

If you want people to trust your brand, you have to build it up as a friend or confidant for your audience – and that means breaking down those corporate walls and getting a little more “real” with customers. Now that doesn’t you should mean forgo the copyediting before posting a Tweet, but be a little freer when communicating with your audience. Don’t always pump your latest product or shove sales jargon down their throats. Speak to them like you would a peer, and they’ll do the same for you.

Showing outside evidence.

Telling customers you’re great is one thing, but other people doing it? That speaks volumes more. Build up a network of strong brand advocates and ambassadors who will tout your brand in their circles. Solicit reviews on Google, Yelp and other review sites. Give rewards for those who provide you testimonials, and share Facebook reviews and satisfied customer Tweets to show off the real, authentic feedback you’re getting from buyers. Let their words do the work for you.

Ask for feedback.

Everyone wants their voice to be heard – even happy, satisfied customers. Make an effort to reach out to customers new and old, and get their feedback on how you’re doing and what you could do better. Poll followers on Facebook and Twitter, send out email surveys or gather customer focus groups to solicit their thoughts. You want them to trust you? Let them tell you how to make that happen.

Earn their Trust.

Brand trust doesn’t come easily. You have to earn it. Want more advice on how to do that? Let Haley Brand Intelligence guide the way.

 

What Makes a Loyal Customer?

brand loyalty

Long-term business success relies on customer loyalty.

Though one-time purchases will certainly put money in your coffers, it’s the customers who buy from your brand time and time again that will really help you reach your financial goals – and beat out your competitors.

But cultivating loyal customers – and their repeat purchases – is easier said than done. In fact, according to recent data from Facebook, there’s a lot that goes into building a long-term customer relationship, and much of it is pretty intangible.

Let’s take a look at what that means for you.

 “Loyalty is Thriving and Rooted in Emotion”

People don’t become long-term, loyal customers with their pocketbook. Sure, they like to save a buck here and there, but to really want to come back for more?

They have to love it.

According to Facebook, people who are loyal to brands “prioritize more emotive and experiential qualities, like trust and service.” That means they don’t just want to get their order fast or get the best deal; they also want to feel like they matter – that the brand they’re doing business with cares about them, prioritizes them and, maybe, even shares some of the same values as them.

So how do you do that?

  • Over-deliver – Don’t just meet the bare minimum when it comes to customer service, communication or shipping. Over-do it. Beat your delivery deadlines. Go above and beyond when contacted with a question or order issue. Provide multiple points of contact to make sure customers have what they need at every step of the way.
  • Focus on the experience – A great product isn’t enough to cement a long-term relationship. A great experience is. Think holistically, and give your customers a good experience from start to finish.
  • Follow-up – Don’t just deliver an order and be done. Follow up, and make sure they were happy with their delivery. Check in, and see if they need anything at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or whatever other holiday. Stay top of mind however you can.
  • Tailor – One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for cultivating loyalty. If you want long-term customers, you need to tailor your messaging at every touchpoint you can. Want parents to frequent your restaurant? Make sure they know about your high chairs. Need Millennials to make your hotel hot? Get social, and post about your community service events on Facebook.

Who’s Loyal?

Any customer can become a loyal one, but there are some subsets that are a bit harder (and easier) to reach.

Millennials, for example, are actually twice as likely as Baby Boomers to want to be brand-loyal. But unfortunately, there are some serious barriers to making that happen. With grocery stores, they’re 2.5 times more likely to consider a store’s hygiene level as a barrier to loyalty, and with restaurants, a lack of healthy options makes them twice as hard to make a loyal customer. They’re also harder to snag loyalty as a hotel, airline and auto insurer.

High-income earners, on the other hand, are actually an easier get. People who have a household income of $150K or more are actually 32 percent more likely to be brand-loyal. Parents are also more likely to be loyal than non-parents – especially in more experiential product lines, like hotels, airlines, etc.

As I mentioned before, if you’re hoping to snag one of these demos as a loyal customer, just make sure you tailor your efforts toward their needs. Do market research and find out what their hurdles are. Customize your marketing copy, ad campaigns, email newsletters and more, and make sure you’re connecting with them on a personal level.

Loyal = Long-term

Brand loyalty is where the money’s at, so if you’re hoping to see long-term success as a business, invest some time and resources into cultivating a loyal customer base. Both your bottom line and your customers will thank you for it.

 

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.

 

Happy Native Advertising Year!

native advertising

If you’re thinking of using promoted Tweets or Facebook stories, investing in PPC ads or creating advertorials in 2017, you’re in luck: This year is primed to be a banner one in the native advertising world.

While 2016 was the year marketers and advertisers started using native ads on a widespread level, they were still just getting their feet wet. This will be the year native advertising really blows up, and organizations and their employees will realize the true power and potential that native ads offer.

Are you already using native advertising techniques at your company? Do you want to start using them (or expanding on them) in the new year? Here’s what you can look forward to over the next 12 months:

  • Facebook and in-feed videos will expand – Though most people hate having a video auto-play on their Facebook feed or on a website, 2016 has shown that it’s actually a highly effective promotional tool … as long as the video is muted by default. That means companies are going to start using more videos with text, captions and graphics. Check out Tasty’s Facebook page to see what I mean. You can also expect to see more live and 360-degree videos, which Facebook has made popular as well.
  • Tech will make the biggest difference – Emerging technological tools will allow native ads to be more effective, easier to manage and measure, and more targetable.
  • Mobile will come first – When planning native advertising strategies, marketers are going to take a mobile-first approach in 2017, meaning they will design and test around mobile screens and tech first – not second. Visibility on traditional screens will still matter, but it will be advertising accessed on smartphones and tablets that will really be king.
  • Display advertising will drop – The heyday of display ads is over, and content will become the No. 1 way marketers and advertisers reach their target demos. In fact, this year you can expect content strategy to be the foundation on which all other marketing strategies are built.
  • In-house content will decline – More and more organizations are going to realize that creating content in-house just isn’t as effective or efficient as using a pro or agency. Expect to see more content marketing agencies crop up and for more organizations to keep content retainers with experts who really know their stuff.
  • Native ads will get more entertaining – Gone are the days where content is just meant to be informative. With the influx of content on the web, advertorials, Tweets, Facebook updates and blog posts need to be increasingly more and more entertaining to really get noticed.
  • Content will become better tailored – As the use of ad blocking software rises, advertisers and marketers are being forced to get to know their audiences better – and better tailor messaging to suit their needs. The average user can expect to see more relevant native ads as they surf the web in 2017, as long as marketers do their jobs right!

No one can foresee the future, so these are only our predictions, but no matter what happens in 2017, expect to see native advertising more and more as you browse the web. And if you’re looking to market your company or promote your services, make sure you’re educated on the latest native advertising techniques and strategies. It’s truly amazing what technology can do for connecting company and customer, and the industry is advancing daily.

Get in touch with us to learn more about native advertising or to get help creating a native ad strategy for your organization.

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.

 

The 3 Facets of Solid Brand Strategy

Brand Strategy

In my last blog, I talked about positioning and carving out a space for your brand’s niche in the marketplace – and within your customers’ minds.

But what exactly is the point of positioning? Sure, in the broader sense, it’s to get more buyers, sales and profits … but more specifically, what does positioning aim to do?

From a brand strategy standpoint, there are actually three goals: 1) to raise awareness 2) to improve consumer knowledge, and 3) to establish an image.

Let’s look at all three:

  1. Raising awareness One of the main intentions of positioning is to raise awareness for your brand – to get people in your target audience to hear about your brand and start to recognize its name, products, services and what it delivers. Though simple awareness doesn’t always translate into a sale, it is the first step in the process. Think of it this way: If a consumer needs a product you sell, how will they ever know to come to you to buy it if they’re not aware you exist? It’s like that old adage, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it really make a sound?”
  2. Improving consumer knowledge The second goal of positioning is to improve consumer knowledge about your brand – to allow your target audience to learn about what your products offer, the benefits they provide, and maybe even the character and personality of your brand. In general, the more consumers know about your brand, the more likely they are to come to it when they’re in need.
  3. Establishing an image Finally, positioning can help establish an image for your brand. This image can be visual (your logos, colors and other graphics) or it can simply be the feelings and emotions your brand evokes. These things work together to endear you to potential customers and make them feel a connection – maybe even loyalty – to a company or brand.

Take a step back and look at your brand’s position. Is it doing all three of these things? If it’s not, you’re selling yourself short. Contact the branding experts at Haley Brand Intelligence today, and we’ll ensure your brand positioning is as effective and impactful as possible.

6 Ways to Position Your Brand for Success

brand strategy

In the branding world, it’s all about positioning. Positioning allows you to stand out from your competitors, and it lets you carve out a space for yourself in your marketplace and in your target customers’ minds.

Put simply, it can mean the difference between a wildly successful brand and one that misses the mark on all cylinders.

So how do you go about ensuring your brand is properly positioned? That it will draw in the right type of customers, sales and profits? Well, there are six approaches you can take. Let’s take a look at each one:

  • Price positioning One of the most popular ways to position yourself is with your pricing. This only works if you’re a budget brand, offering deeply discounted prices that your competitors can’t touch, or if you’re a luxury brand – one that offers a sort of panache with its products and services.
  • Geographic positioning Geographic positioning can be a good option if you want to target buyers in a certain part of the country or world. Maybe your umbrellas are great protection for the rainy weather in the Pacific Northwest, or maybe your bikes are primed for off-roading and riding the hills of the Tennessee mountains.
  • Broad market positioning This is an interesting type of positioning, as it requires you to establish your brand as a substitute for some larger-market item. Say you’re selling hot dogs. Instead of positioning yourself as a great alternative to all those other hot dog brands out there, you’d position yourself as a substitute for some bigger, broader market – maybe hamburgers, brats or just tailgating food in general.
  • Psychographic positioning – With psychographic positioning, you’re establishing your brand as the choice for buyers with a certain mindset. They could be concerned with the environment, worried about their family’s safety, or have some other priority in mind.
  • Use positioning – Use positioning is a great choice if you can get creative and think of alternative uses for your products and services – uses that aren’t the “norm” or what most consumers would expect. A good example? Let’s stick with the food example and say you sell mustard. Rather than marketing your mustard as a great topping for hot dogs and hamburgers, you’d instead market it for some other use – maybe as a great marinade for meat or as some type of sauce. You’re basically carving out a niche for yourself by creating a new use that your competitors haven’t thought of.
  • Distribution positioning Does your product or service only work for one certain channel of distribution? Is it only important during one season of the year? Or maybe it’s only useful if you’re at a certain point in life or you have certain weather in your area. By positioning yourself for these specific channels, you can target the right type of buyer and improve your sales and profits.

It’s possible that one, two or even more of these positioning strategies can work for your brand, but there’s always one that offers a bit more potential than the others. Want help determining the best positioning route for your brand? Contact the branding experts at Haley Brand Intelligence today to get started.

How to Win Loyalty for Your Brand

brand advocates

In the branding world, there’s nothing better than a loyal customer.

Loyal customers are the ones who will buy from you time and time again, year after year, resulting in hundreds, thousands or maybe even millions of dollars in sales.

They’re also the people who will refer you to other customers – their friends, family members, colleagues and loved ones who will buy your products, use your services and put money in your pocketbook.

Sure, getting a one-time sale will fill the coffers temporarily. But long-term success? That only comes from loyal, passionate, repeat customers who keep coming back for more.

So how do you go about getting those types of customers? And what can you do to keep them? Here are 5 tips that can help you win customer loyalty for your brand:

  1. Single them out. You never want a customer to feel like just another number, so do anything you can to personalize the buying experience and really make every customer feel special. This can be as simple as sending them a thank-you note after a purchase has been made or following up to make sure they’re happy with the product once it’s been shipped out. You can even tag them on social media and call them out directly! Whatever you do, just makes sure they feel valued and appreciated.
  2. Offer a guarantee. There’s no better way to say “I have great products” than to offer a guarantee or warranty on them. Guarantees show you stand behind your offerings, and that should something go awry, you’re 100 percent willing to fix the issue and make sure the customer is happy. In a world where many purchases are done online with no interactions from salespeople or customer service reps, guarantees can go a long way in earning customer confidence and trust.
  3. Keep them engaged. Even after a sale has been completed, make an effort to keep every customer engaged in some form or fashion. Maybe it’s sending them a weekly email or alerting them of upcoming sales, or maybe it’s posting to social media with a funny meme, joke or unique use for your products. There are many ways to do this, but the fact of the matter is: If you don’t keep them engaged, they’ll forget about you. Do what you can to stay top-of-mind.
  4. Consider a rewards program. To really encourage long-term relationships, consider offering your customers rewards or points for each purchase they make with you. These points can get them closer to freebies, discounts or other bonuses at your store, or they can even give them cash back or gift cards. The main point is they encourage repeat purchases in the long term.
  5. Solicit feedback. Always give your customers a chance to provide feedback after a purchase, and make sure you really study that feedback once you get it. If something went wrong in the purchasing process, reach out and make it right with the customer. Then, use those errors to fix your process and prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

Are your customers one-time buyers or are they in it for the long haul? If you’re not sure, start implementing these tactics and watch the difference it makes in your bottom line. Need more help making your brand a success? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.