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Restoration and Growth Through Branded Community

by Shawn M. Miller

 

What if you could ignite a reboot and repair in your culture? Today, consumer culture is overwhelmed and divided by a distrust in companies. This results in companies believing they need to coerce and convince customers, making marketing expensive and ineffective. Let’s discuss the restoration and growth of brands through the branded community.

 

The cycle continues within each business.

• Employees don’t trust employers.
• Employers believe they have to control and cajole employees. And so, talent is hard to find and good employees are hard to retain.
• Supply chains are hammered with heavy handed tactics and laden with controls to combat lack of trust.
• Stakeholders struggle to get paid and manage combative companies.
Result = rising costs, stress, and negative company cultures

 

The overall result is a pervasive business climate of Us vs. Them. “Combat” with customers, employees, vendors, and stakeholders. This is unhealthy, unpleasant and unsustainable for the business and everyone dependent on the business. We all feel this, we all see it, and we’re all upset about it. But what can we do? While ethics and corporate governance are valuable there is another way to change this combative mindset through a tactical shift away from Us vs. Them, to a We Culture of community organized around a shared passion for your market.

 

For quickest impact, I’ll begin with marketing and your relationship to your greatest asset, your customers. By community, I don’t mean everyone following you on social media. My definition of a community is when the participants are empowered with ownership and engaged in real action for mutual benefit. There can be no command and control from a central source at your company. The community is also not strictly limited to the specific scope of your company but is passionate about the context in which you operate. Attempts to control will cause failure or limited success.

 

Don’t think On/Off Switch, think Volume Knob

Your job is to turn up to 11 the natural passion of your customers, employees, and stakeholders. You will need to champion this culture shift internally. This is not light-weight work, but it’s possible, and you can do it! In order to build this community you’ll need a brand advocacy strategy. Here are some benefits of building a strong advocate community.

 

The New Face of Your Brand

Your brand community will be organized around shared passion and you’ll ensure a positive culture for restoration through content co-creation vs. combat. What will your community co-create? Whatever they want!

 

Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you lose control; you never had control. That was an illusion. Your marketing department has been trying to understand and communicate ‘what they want’ all along. The difference is now you’ll simply allow customers to reveal it!

 

This is where the business magic happens and where you’ll get the resources you’ll need.

 

This will create the finest pull marketing program you could dream of, as your engaged community will invite participation in a more influential way than you ever could. The result will be customers, employees, and stakeholders driving an authentic brand advocacy movement which fuels sustainable growth at almost no cost: A self-feeding and highly efficient community driven by a wave of authentic engagement and attraction. This influence grows exponentially and will quickly out pace even the finest 1-to-many campaigns.

 

The result to your business will be an ignition of passion, a release of pent up energy, about the market in which you serve and the purpose for which you exist. This cultural shift will trigger a reboot and repair to the combative mentality with consumers, employee relations and talent attraction, and supply chain struggles.

 

This is an opportunity for your company to be a cornerstone of change in the greater community in which you live, work, and play. Take it!

 

If you’d like to learn more about building an advocate community and transforming your business pick up my book “The New Face of Your Brand” available on Amazon.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shawn M. Miller is an Entrepreneur, Investor and Advisor with over 20 years of international business experience specializing in marketing, customer service and training. As Chief Experience Officer at Smync; Shawn is leading development of User Experience on both the brand and the customer side of Smync hosted Social Brand Advocate Communities. Connect with Shawn on LinkedIn, on Twitter @ShawnMMiller, or on Snapchat (theshawnmmiller).

 

4 Corporate Video Mistakes to Avoid

by Willis Turner

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Not everyone is a film-maker, but everyone has opinions on film-making. Here’s some of the common things we’ve heard come from around the boardroom table when it comes to producing corporate films.

1. “Don’t worry about the length.”
Actually, you should. One of the most common mistakes in corporate video production is making the run-time too long. The ideal length you should shoot for is two to three minutes — that’s the perfect amount of time to build a compelling, focused message for virtually any product or service, without overstaying your welcome.

You might have a complicated and content-rich story to tell, but packing more messages into your video won’t necessarily make it more effective. Audience attention spans are notoriously short in the digital age. Use the discipline of a shorter run-time to hold your audience and help distill your messaging.

2. “Let’s do a viral video.”
No one can predict what special alignment of planets is necessary for a video to go viral. The fact is, they are variables that are out of your control, so don’t make a million hits your business objective, or you will most likely be disappointed. Quality will always trump quantity in the corporate film world.

This isn’t a cute baby or cat video we’re talking about — it’s a business message intended to create action. Set reasonable viewership targets, and allow sufficient time for your film to be properly seen, recommended and linked to. Get your story right, execute it well, and the numbers — and eyeballs — will follow.

3. “It’s just our people talking, so we don’t need a script.”
Regardless if you are producing a video in documentary style, using interviews with real people, you most definitely still need to have a proper script or creative outline to guide your production. Even a short, simple video will require you to make dozens, even hundreds, of creative choices. Where should we shoot the interview? What should our talent wear?  What kind of background music should we use?  Should we have background music at all? A proper script or outline can help you make all these decisions.

Take the time to describe your idea on paper. What is the main message you want people to take away? Do a proper outline of how you see the copy flow and edit working. Prepare a proper shot list. Don’t be lazy or leave things to chance on shoot day.  The more pre-production work you do in advance, the better your shoot and post-production will follow.

4. “Let’s do it ourselves.”
Sure, you can write, direct, shoot and edit a video yourself. You might even get lucky and have a finished result that sounds and looks pretty good. Now all you have to worry about is getting the proper codecs, streaming bit rates, aspect ratios and screen resolutions worked out to make sure your film plays properly online.

But technical production issues aside, the question isn’t whether or not you can produce a corporate film yourself, it’s whether or not you should. Will your brand or company image suffer irreparable harm if you decide to DIY your annual sales video?  Probably not. The issue is the potential opportunity cost you might lose in deciding to save money by keeping the job inside.

The biggest thing a film production company can offer you isn’t just technical competence — it’s helping you create a selling idea that just happens to be delivered in film form. That’s the difference between 3 minutes of pretty pictures and 3 minutes of deliberate, strategic, persuasive storytelling.

One last thing to consider is that video production is very time-intensive. If you do elect to manage the production yourself, it will be a full-time job for several weeks for at least one or two people. In the final analysis, the cost you think you might be saving by doing it yourself may ultimately turn out to be more.

*This post originally appeared at SMEI.org.


Willis Turner Willis Turner, CAE CME CSE, has gained international recognition for spearheading global membership engagement and professional certification growth as the President & CEO of U.S.-based Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI). Willis is also founder and CEO of Old Clayburn Marketing & Management Services Inc., a full-service association management firm. As a writer and speaker on professional certification, business ethics and leading edge sales and marketing topics, Willis leverages his worldwide business travel experiences to convey an informative and motivating message to his audiences. Willis serves on the National Advisory Board for DECA Inc. He has taught Sales Management at the University of British Columbia, Sauder School of Business. He resides near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with his wife of 30 years. Follow Willis on Twitter: @willisturner.

How to Use Referral Marketing to Address Your Firm’s Biggest Business Challenges

by Lee Frederiksen

via Matylda Czarnecka

via Matylda Czarnecka

Professional services firms face a wide range of unique business challenges. But in our latest research, we found one challenge to be considerably more prevalent than others. We surveyed 530 professional services firms from a broad range of industries and asked which business challenges they were facing in the New Year. The number one response — identified by more than 70 percent of firms — was “Attracting and Developing New Business.” This response was more than twice as common as the next most common answer: “Finding and Keeping Good People,” at 35.9 percent.

So, if the difficulty of generating new business is a pervasive struggle, how can professional services firms rise to the challenge?

Why Generating More Referrals Is Key to Attracting New Business

Referrals have always been an important aspect of attracting new business for professional services firms. This was also made clear by our results: Nearly 62 percent of our survey respondents said generating more referrals was their top marketing initiative for 2015. However, firms have traditionally focused on client-generated referrals. While client referrals are certainly important, they don’t make up a balanced referral marketing approach on their own.

In fact, there are actually three types of referrals that can help generate new business for your firm – and only one type is based on direct experience. In addition to referrals from clients (experience-based referrals), firms can also seek out reputation-based referrals and expertise-based referrals.

Reputation-based referrals occur when individuals recommend your firm based solely on your positive reputation. Even though they have no direct experience with your firm and aren’t necessarily aware of your particular expertise, they feel comfortable making a referral for your firm based on reputation alone.

Expertise-based referrals occur when someone doesn’t have personal experience with your firm, but he or she is aware that you specialize in a given problem. They recommend you based solely on your perceived expertise.

In our research, we found that a startling 81.5 percent of professional services providers report receiving a referral from someone who wasn’t a client. This means that focusing your firm’s referral marketing strategy on non-client referrals can be instrumental in attracting new business. But in order to generate more of these non-client referrals, firms need to place a stronger emphasis on brand building.

Why Building Your Brand is Essential to Generating Non-Client Referrals

Your brand is the combination of your reputation and visibility. By strengthening your brand and improving these two qualities, you can increase your firm’s chances of attracting more non-client referrals.

Obviously, when your firm has a better reputation, you become more likely to receive reputation-based referrals. Likewise, increasing marketplace visibility can bring awareness to your firm’s particular expertise. What’s the best way to improve your reputation and increase your visibility? Content marketing.

Producing relevant and educational content that establishes your firm’s authority can help to lend credibility within your industry and improve your firm’s online presence. Prospective buyers who are looking for an answer to their problems will not only be more likely to find your firm, but they’ll also be more likely to trust your services.

However, it’s more important than ever to have your marketing and branding work together to not just generate referrals, but also turn those referrals into new business. We discovered that 51.9 percent of respondents ruled out referred firms before even speaking with them. The main reason this occurred was a lack of understanding about how the provider could help solve the problem.

Figure 1. Why Buyers Rule Out Referrals

chart

Poor marketing and a lackluster website can have major consequences for firms that want to attract more new business. With clear branding, a strong online presence and comprehensive marketing materials, your firm can avoid being ruled out by referrals before they even have a chance to speak with you. In this sense, building a better brand can both generate more non-client referrals and translate those referrals into new business.


leefLee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge is a leader in rebranding firms to help them grow faster and maximize value. Lee can be reached at LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com or 703-391-8870.
Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter @HingeMarketing

4 Ways to Turn One-Time Customers into Lifetime Customers

by Emma Siemasko

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While it’s important to attract new customers, retaining your repeat purchasers and building a loyal customer base has to be at the top of your list! Your most loyal customers will not only support your business financially but will also be your best referral sources as well — so giving them a VIP experience helps both of you.

1.  Loyalty Programs
Reward-based programs, such as punch cards, buy x get y free promos or cards that identify a certain number of points, are all ways that loyal customers get the benefits of being a “regular.” These perk programs allow your best customers to get a special experience or a small treat for always coming to you for a product they seek.

How? These programs take on a variety of forms. Think of how your customers would like to be rewarded based on your offerings. Is it a discount? A free item? A photo on the wall? Say you own a coffee shop — a punch card that allows customers to get a free drink after nine coffee purchases is a powerful tool to keep people coming back for more. You can print your own, go through a local printing company or order them online through a medium like Vistaprint for around $10.

Successful Use: Speaking of coffee, Starbucks encourages and rewards repeat customers by sending those who have earned 30+ stars (made 30+ purchases) a coveted Gold Cards  This card earns rewards like free drinks, special offers and a customized card with your name on it so the barista knows who you are as soon as it’s handed over. It’s a VIP experience that makes the customer feel special and part of the company’s inner circle.

2.  Offering Great Products
Product inconsistency is a red flag for your customers. If the quality isn’t consistent, you lose trust from your buyers, which isn’t good news for your business. Guidelines, training and a clear set of standards ensure every customer gets the same fantastic experience each time.

  • Train each new employee. While time is often a resource we simply don’t have enough of, training is essential for each and every new staff member. Proper training allows your team to understand the process and execute their jobs to the best of their abilities. This also allows the new hire to get familiar with the business and sets standards for quality, service and presentation.
  • Make guidelines for your staff. Guidelines and directions will help guide your team through daily tasks and situations in case you aren’t there to field a question. It also helps ensure consistency. Take a restaurant, for example. Each chef needs to know the exact measurements and ingredients to make a meal taste the same every time — so a hard copy recipe needs to be available for reference.
  • Host on-going group trainings. Your employees shouldn’t stop learning after being hired. Group trainings make sure everyone is on the same page and creates a space for questions to be answered. Learning as a group throughout the year keeps skills fresh, improves communication and is an opportunity to learn something new.

 3.  Great Customer Service

Each and every customer deserves to be provided with a high level of customer service — it’s just as important as the product itself. Going above and beyond should be leveraged from the local perspective, as this personal touch is something you can provide in greater quality and quantity than a big box store.

“So much of exceptional day-to-day service comes down to tone – ‘Is there anything else I can do for you?’ and ‘What else do you want?’ are in essence, asking the same thing, but are wildly different in terms of tone. In other words, great service not only depends on execution (that you asked in the first place), it also depends on perception, or how you communicated with the customer. Getting that right is the first step in building a business people love interacting with.”

— Gregory Ciotti, Help Scout

If you doubt the power of great service, keep these stats in mind:

  • 89 percent of customers have stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service. (Source: RightNow Technologies)
  • It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience. (Source: Parature)
  • 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. (Source: McKinsey)

How to do it? A few foolproof tips:

  • Greet your customers by name. It feels good to be remembered, doesn’t it? Recalling your customer’s name is an easy way to impress your customer and let him or her know you value their presence.
  • Remember repeat orders. There’s nothing better than being able to walk into a business and be asked, “The regular?” Even if you have to keep a cheat sheet, this tool is an easy way to make your customers feel special.
  • Build relationships. Remember names and orders, but don’t be afraid to take it a step further and learn a bit more about your customers. Ask questions like, “Where are you from?” and “Have any family in the area?” to build rapport and relationships. This also provides content for future conversations.
  • Make exceptions. You have the power to bend the rules a bit to keep your customers happy. If someone asks for an item or a variation – you can grant that wish if you’re willing.
  • Think of the little things – If you sell cupcakes, why not throw in some extra birthday candles? It’s the little details that make a big difference.
  • Deliver (literally). Delivery is one of those special local offerings that can mean a variety of things based on your business. Maybe it means you make a house call for an interior design disaster or you’ll bring product to your customers’ homes to make life easier. Catering to the audience is a service large stores can’t always provide.

4.  Present Your Business Well

This one seems like a no-brainer, but keeping your business clean, visually appealing and in tip-top shape is extremely important. Your business’ presentation is a reflection of the products being offered, the staff and the owner.

“One simple piece of advice for businesses: a product’s look is as important as its functionality.” — Josh Naumu, SewellDirect

  • Consider design. If you’re not an interior designer, you might think that good design is for the birds. You’re wrong — design matters a lot and can make or break it for customers.
  • Hire cleaning help. If you don’t have time to do a deep clean regularly, hire a cleaning service to come weekly or monthly to do the intensive scrub-down and cobweb snatching.
  • Replace burnt-out lights. Lighting on both on the interior and exterior of your building (signage included) should be fully functional.
  • Keep restrooms clean. Clean restrooms are more than functional — they’re stocked with toiletries and are funk free.
  • Remove stains. Stains on walls, carpeting, ceilings and furniture will make your business look sloppy and dated.
  • Organize. Keep your office(s) tidy with filing systems and proper storage.

If your business can convert first-time customers into forever customers, you’re golden. These loyal supporters will be a referral engine, and your high standards for the products, service and presentation of your business will continue to impress new customers — keeping the traffic flow steady through your front door.

*This post is an excerpt from Grow Local: The Complete Guide to Growing a Local Businessby the team at Grasshopper, the entrepreneurs’ phone system.


EmmaEmma Siemasko is the Content Marketing Specialist at Grasshopper, the entrepreneurs’ phone system. Grasshopper provides toll free numbers, call forwarding, and a host of other features to help small business owners sound professional and stay connected. You can follow Grasshopper on Twitter @Grasshopper and learn more at Grasshopper.com.

Traditional Corporate Structure Can Hurt Brand Health

by Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey

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In order to stay fresh, relevant and dominate their space, brands must constantly reinvent themselves. But does the traditional company structure itself suffocate a brand’s growth and evolution? Does the structure itself create its own roadblocks, choke communication and suppress innovation?

Traditional corporate structure puts marketing higher in position and status than either sales or customer service. This creates the misconception that marketing knows most about what the customer wants when, in fact, sales and customer service are the only two groups in the company that talk to the customer every day.

How did this structural upending happen? For one thing, corporations were originally developed to achieve efficiencies of scale based on divisions of labor and mass production. This worked fine in the old supply sided economy where companies controlled raw materials and needed to sell them. It was only logical to seek marketing advice as to what products should be created out of those materials and how to advertise them. With this top-down approach, products were pushed through the system. Sales people were viewed as soldiers who executed the marketing plan, and customer service was viewed as complaint resolution.

This attitude was reinforced as universities began to offer degrees in marketing. Even today, you would have few options if you wanted to get a degree in the areas of sales or customer service from a major university. The media and the general public believe marketing alone is responsible for brand creation, growth and health. Yet, without the constant feedback from the customer that comes from sales and customer service, marketing can easily be blinded to the ever-changing market.

But traditional corporate structure has an answer for that: focus groups, sales and competitive analysis. The problem with reliance on these methods is that the information tends to be tainted by the questions, manipulation of the statistics and following the market leader who may be about to fall off the cliff. These methods tend to be more of a justification for “Why we are doing it the right way?” rather than “What’s getting by us?” A rearview mirror approach can easily distract the company from what’s rapidly approaching in the windshield!

Traditional corporate structure is based on silos, which in themselves can create turf battles and limit the free flow of ideas. Job security begins to take precedence over brand longevity. Each silo fights the battles for making their job easier regardless of the consequences to the brand or the company.

Production wants more standard packaging, simplified labeling and lower costs — even at the expense of uniqueness, perceived quality and brand promise. Legal wants bigger warnings, longer review periods and watered-down rhetoric even if it means the “buy” message takes a back seat. Accounting is figuring how much it could save by cheapening the package based on the misconception that sales will not be hurt. Marketing wants more money for advertising because their budget is based on how much they spent last year.

Executives can feel pressured to make their mark on a brand to help their career even if it is inconsistent with the general public’s expectations of their brand image and promise. “New is better than good” becomes a slippery slope where the company begins to lose sight of what made the brand successful in the first place.

You can follow the competition, or try to save money, face and status. You can try to protect territory and every kind of perceived liability. Or you can try keeping your brand fresh, current and healthy by elevating sales and customer service in rank and status. Don’t let efficiencies of scale result in deficiencies of sales!


Michael-Bonnie-ProfessionalMichael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey are the founders of Barefoot Wine, the largest bottled wine brand in the world, and authors of the New York  Times Bestselling Business book The Barefoot Spirit. From the start, with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative strategies to overcome obstacles, create new markets and foster key alliances. Michael and Bonnie now share their experience and entrepreneurial approach to business as consultants, authors, speakers, and workshop leaders. Michael and Bonnie launched at the C-Suite Network Conference their new companion book to The Barefoot Spirit entitled, The Entrepreneurial Culture, 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People. Learn more at barefootspirit.com, and find them on Facebook and Twitter @barefoot_spirit.

Creating a Company Culture that Boosts Your Brand

by Emma Siemasko

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Your company needs core ideologies and a solid brand. These things don’t just happen on their own. They all start with the company leaders. Branding and company culture are inextricably linked. If you want to attract the best employees, you need a great brand. And to build a great brand, you need the best employees. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation.

A company is a living, breathing organism. It grows, changes and responds to outside influences. That’s why we think of culture, passion, efficiency and core values as part of a Brand’s DNA. This is the stuff your company is made of!

Your Brand’s DNA is two-fold. It’s directly related to:

  1. Your internal culture: The productivity and passion of your employees depends upon your leadership. If you build a brand that prioritizes passion, personal development and work-life balance, you’ll be much more likely to have a happier, more dedicated team.
  2. Customer perception: Do you want your customers to see you as another nameless, faceless corporation without personality? Probably not. That’s why it’s crucial to build your brand DNA with customers in mind.

You don’t want to be just another chiropractor, software company or law firm. You want a branded image that makes you recognizable, strong and inspiring. We’ll focus on your internal culture and how you can build one that reflects a healthy DNA.

Deciding Who You Are and What You Believe In
To create a thriving company culture, you need an identity. You need hard DNA — not just fluff. So, how do you define yourself? You’re probably a generous person wanting to provide a valuable product or service to your customer. You probably love what you do and want to make a living doing it. Think of the values you care about and want your employees to care about — things like generosity, skill, cutting-edge technology, a team focus, empathy and fun.

A brand is led by its founders. It takes time to build. Without deciding who you are and making a commitment to follow-through, you can’t create the brand that you want.

Writing Down Your Beliefs
It’s not enough to say that you want ambitious people with a great attitude. You’ve got to write it down. Once the guidelines are written, you can make sure everything you do is aligned with your values. At Grasshopper, we developed some core values to define who we are and what we’re working for. These help us chart a path for the future and inspire and remind us who we are in the present.

We chose the values we did because we’re on a quest to fulfill our mission “to empower entrepreneurs to succeed.” We’re passionate about providing a great phone system, but we also want to offer something bigger than that. We’re not working just to work — we’re working to help others start, run and grow their businesses.

We created G.A.R.Y.:

core

Having values allows us to consistently check on the pulse of our company. They serve as a report card to make sure our team is aligned with the company mission. We even have “I caught” cards so employees can celebrate each other by catching coworkers in the act of living our core values.

Company Culture is More Than Ping Pong
You’ve heard it before: Company culture is more than just a Ping-Pong table. But those Ping-Pong tables sure do help.
If your employees can only play at the table or in the game room after hours, you might as well not have them. Workers need to feel like they can relax and take a breather without getting in trouble or raising eyebrows.

If you create reasons for people to want to come to work, provide good benefits and offer flexibility, your employees will feel lucky to be where they are. It’s about way more than the Ping-Pong table. These things help reinforce the culture.
If you want to build a successful, lovable company, start by investing in the people you work with. If you’re going to skimp, don’t do it here.

Here are some things you can do to generate a positive company culture:

  • Provide ample healthcare and time off.
  • Hold employee outings and parties.
  • Give employees gifts when they start.
  • Make sure every worker is equipped with the best technology, if feasible.
  • Celebrate employees’ life milestones, such as big moves, getting married, having babies or passing classes and certifications.
  • Celebrate employees’ birthdays every month. Lump them together and celebrate with a monthly birthday party.
  • Provide tons of snacks and food options so no one is ever stressed if they forget their lunch.
  • Pay for some other things like gym memberships, rail cards and cell phones.

Building a Company Culture That’s Great
If you want to build a great brand, you need an amazing company culture. It isn’t easy, but a healthy brand DNA can make or break your company.

*This article is excerpted from Your Brand’s DNA: Core Fundamentals, Ideologies, and Brand, a chapter in JUMP, Grasshopper’s guide to starting and growing a business.


Emma Siemasko is the Content Marketing Specialist at Grasshopper, the entrepreneurs’ phone system. Grasshopper provides toll free numbers, call forwarding, and a host of other features to help small business owners sound professional and stay connected. You can follow Grasshopper on Twitter @Grasshopper and learn more at Grasshopper.com.

How Having a Visible Expert Within Your Firm Can Generate Growth

by Lee Frederiksen

via Tech Crunch

Managing partners and C-Suite executives are often faced with the complexities of building their firm’s brand and amplifying growth. They must consider the following questions:

  • What are the most successful methods?
  • What will be the most cost-effective?
  • Will our firm have the necessary resources?

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How to Become a Thought Leader

by Mitch Joel – President, Twist Image & author of “Six Pixels of Separation”

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You are one if someone reputable says you are one.

That is the short and simple answer to what is a very complex thing to define. If Anderson Cooper describes you as a “marketing thought leader” prior to interviewing you on air, you can run with that title. Personally, I would have never defined myself as “the rock star of digital marketing,” but when Marketing Magazine called me that, I ran with it as well. Harder than defining what, exactly, a thought leader is would be an attempt to explain how to become one. Mashable published a very interesting piece on the topic (which you can read here: How To Become A Thought Leader). It got me thinking about how often we toss that phrase around, how few individuals actually are thought leaders and how easy it is to simply self-anoint oneself as a thought leader.

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5 Ways to Make Your Print Materials Unlock Interactive Dialogue

by Doug Traxler

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Good ol’ Dr. Seuss once said, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

Sure, it’s a cliché — but, come on, he’s right! Why hand someone a business card — or any other printed piece — with only your brand information on it when you can easily design it to open an interactive connection? With QR codes, personalized URLs or generic URLs (PURLs & GURLs), it’s easy.

Here are 5 ways to turn print into interactive dialogue:

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3 Tips to Help Digital Marketers Find Their True Colors

by Eric King, WebbMason

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With apologies to quirky ’80s pop queen Cyndi Lauper, the “true colors” used to support or even define a brand might not translate into various media, such as print, digital, billboards or three-dimensional items, the way they were intended. This is problematic.
To understand the importance color plays in shaping the identity of a brand, try this quick test: Ask the next group of women you see what company’s products are packaged in “little blue boxes,” or ask just about any guy in the Plains states who makes the big green tractors. You are very likely to get the answers Tiffany and John Deere without much thought (and usually accompanied by a smile).

According to design website Color Matters, “80 percent of visual information that we take in is related to color,” and that is perhaps why the connections between emotion, color and brand are so intrinsically linked.
The availability of cheap and easy digital printing has made many digital-native marketers unaware of the basics of color management for printed items.
Below are three things every marketer should understand to significantly improve the color consistency of his or her printed projects.

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