Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Use Eco-friendly Promos to Build Your Brand

We live in an environmentally- and socially-conscious age where consumer shopping decisions are now closely linked to corporate values. Recent studies show that more consumers—particularly Millennials—are gravitating towards brands that demonstrate good will: 
  • 88% of consumers said they would be more loyal to companies that support social or environmental issues, and 90% would switch to a brand associated with a good cause, if price and quality were similar. (Cone Communications and Ebiquity)
  • Three out of four consumers are more likely to buy a product if the company is making an effort to be sustainable. (Sense and Sustainability Study, Gibbs & Soell)
The takeaway: Going green is good for business. Nearly 65% of end-buyers surveyed by ASI say they prefer to purchase promos that are eco-friendly. So, if you’re not already incorporating environmentally-responsible and ethically-sourced promotional products into your brand marketing, consider making the change. 

While price had historically been an issue with eco products, that’s no longer the norm. And with the obvious branding advantages associated with a greener promotional product offering, it’s wise to promote your brand using eco-products that make sense for your business or industry. Here are a few ideas:

Reusable drinkware. Whether it’s a glass mug etched with a logo or insulated aluminum drink bottle, these choices eliminate Styrofoam, plastic or paper drinkware, making them a more eco-responsible choice for the office, commute or home.

Cork and wood products are trending. Reusable tote bags made from cork are extremely durable and stylish; and wood lids, handles (on mugs) or cutting boards and coasters can be laser-engraved with a logo (no inks) for a clean, organic feel.

Reusable straws and silverware. Disposable plastic is out. Reusable straws and cutlery—in bamboo, rubber and metal—are in. The wood and metal pieces can be laser-engraved for a subtle brand touch with everyday functionality.

Hemp or other sturdy reusable bags. Hemp items are popular in the cannabis industry; and because they’re so durable, they’re a great choice if you’re thinking about a sustainable bag promo. Instead of a cheap, flimsy poly bag (that will quickly get tossed) consider a hemp, bamboo or washable cotton bag embroidered with a logo for longer shelf life.

If you’re interested in learning more about these products or other environmentally-responsible promo items, connect with me on Linkedin.

Tim Berry

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Use AR to improve the customer experience & drive engagement

When was the last time you browsed through a catalog and then picked up the phone to place an order? If you’re like most Americans, it’s been awhile: There are 217.1 million online shoppers in the United States—a number that’s projected to reach 224 million this year (Statista). So, how does that impact print marketing for retailers and other brick-and-mortar businesses?

Augmented reality (AR) is one answer. AR can be used to bridge the gap between print and digital, allowing customers to enjoy an immersive experience with your brand.

AR has changed how we interact with brands—and from a marketing standpoint, it has rewritten the rules of engagement. Now, print media can also be interactive. Once-stagnant displays or catalogs can spring to life using AR technology.

Here’s how it works: AR embeds virtual content layered over a real-world object, making a powerful, immediate connection with the user by providing information in a memorable or more convenient way (i.e. clicking on or scrolling over an item in an ad, which triggers the display of the item name and cost on the host website). The revenue-generating potential that AR provides is incredible.

According to a study published by the ISACA, 62% of consumers believe augmented reality has the potential to improve the shopping experience. In addition, AR has reached revenues of about $428 million in 2018, with that number expected to explode in the next few years, with display ad and visual search revenues via AR totaling more than $2.6 billion by 2022.

This case study from Brand United details how an AR-enabled catalog improved the customer experience and boosted retail sales by 3% for automotive brand Quadratec:

According to Statista, the global market for AR is projected to grow to approximately $90 billion in the next two years. In addition, revenue generated by AR is expected to be three times higher than virtual reality (VR).  And that’s because AR is so versatile and accessible for consumers. It can be customized to hit your audience when and where you want: geo-tagged for proximity-based marketing campaigns (think festivals, annual meetings, sporting events, etc.). AR can be used to create engaging customer experiences like taking customers on a virtual tour of a new property or helping customers easily locate your products—all from their smartphones or tablets, all with a couple of clicks.

AR also helps us become better marketers: Because AR interaction is trackable, we use the data from the experience to strategically plan the next step, modify the message, shape future campaigns, and so on. Where do you see AR fitting into your brand marketing?  If you’re interested in learning more, connect with me on LinkedIn.

Tim Connor

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

10 tips for increasing customer engagement

It used to be that the quality of goods or services is what created a happy customer. But that was then. And this is the age of customer engagement: Today, customers want to feel appreciated, engaged and connected with their chosen brands. Here’s proof:
  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience
  • By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Walker)   
Research is also finding that, even in today’s digital era, customers are seeking more authentic, human-centered interaction—but without constant interruption. This is the challenge that we face as marketers: To connect with customers in ways that are real and relevant, while providing transparency, in a frequency that keeps them engaged.

If you don’t have a customer engagement program in place to create those connections, it’s time to jump on board: Excited and engaged customers bring in 23 percent more profits. (Gallup)

This article in Entrepreneur magazine offers 10 ideas for boosting customer engagement Here’s a quick-read summary of those tips:
  1. Share behind-the-scenes content. Think about sharing employee stories or a tour of your facilities/properties.
  2. Launch a user conference. Bring people together to meet and share their experience with your brand—these trigger emotional connections and lead to better brand attitudes. 
  3. Survey customer to better understand them. And then use that data to align your service or product offerings.
  4. Use personalization. Eighty percent of people say that brands are not tailored to their needs—stand out by making a personal connection with your customers.
  5. Package products in unique ways. Make it memorable.
  6. Create a purposeful brand. Generation X and millennials want to believe companies care about the same causes they do.
  7. Launch a contest. Contests on social media increase online audiences by as much as 34 percent and boost email sign-ups by a similar amount (Hubspot).
  8. Develop a product for an underserved niche. This offers the opportunity to quickly build brand loyalty.
  9. Focus on creating added value. Give customers what they want and need—that’s true value. Be deliberate about communicating that value statement.
  10. Try something new. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and implement a new campaign element or try a new media channel—changing up your game could be what your brand needs to make breakthrough connections.
What tips do you have for creating engaging connections with your customers? I’m interested in hearing from you.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Will your brand survive the next social media blackout?

A few weeks ago, Facebook and Instagram experienced outages, leaving users frustrated—and brands in the dark. Unable to post content and connect with their customers, many businesses lost revenue.

So, what’s the lesson? The social media blackout is a great example of why integrated, multi-channel marketing is so important for brand success. Placing all your marketing eggs in one basket—or relying too heavily on one central media strategy—is risky.

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine reinforces that point, “you can’t build the foundation of your business on someone else’s platform.” The author argues that brands must protect and maintain the assets that they control: their websites and mailing lists. (read the entire article via the link below)

While I agree that your website is an owned marketing asset that’s central to maintaining consistent and reliable brand-driven connectivity with your audience, I’ll take that one step further: For your brand to survive and thrive in today’s digital marketing arena, you need to establish relationships with your customers—connections that are guided by an integrated, cross-channel marketing plan.

This strategic plan should be revisited and updated on a regular basis:

  • Website. Ensure your website is primed for business: Your messaging should communicate who you are, what you do and the value you offer. Be clear and concise, using strong CTAs (call to action) that prompt action.
  • Email marketing is essential to brand success (72% of consumers prefer email as their primary means of communicating with brands). Optimize this channel by updating/maintaining your mailing lists; and use drip campaigns to keep your brand front of mind. Test your emails and redeploy campaign elements as needed.  
  • Product packaging. Review your current packaging: Does it provide an opportunity for customers to interact with your brand—either physically or electronically? Consider incorporating ways for users to consume your content or experience your brand using elements such as augmented reality or video.  
  • Promotional and printed products. How are you making brand impressions with your audience? Use tangible touches—like promotional products or unique printed items—to make those connections. Brainstorm ways to incorporate these items into your marketing plan, as they have a longer shelf life than digital ads or social media posts.

Social media is like most technology: It’s great—until it doesn’t work. Of course, social media is important and essential in brand marketing. But always, balance is key. To ensure your brand weathers the next social media blip, have a diversified plan.

Good luck,

Tim Connor