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How to Identify the True Equities of your Brand

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How to Identify the True Equities of your Brand

It is important to know your true equities as a brand. It strengthens the brand and customer relationship and identifies the individual characteristics that make your brand unique. Begin this process by identifying what makes your brand recognizable, memorable and distinctive.


Recognizable

Identify what makes your brand recognizable. The more recognizable, the more trust can develop between brand and consumer. When customers recognize a name they are more likely to reach for that product. Get your name out there. Advertising and publicity should reinforce brand voice.

Memorable

Continue on to make your brand memorable. It is important for buyers to associate your brand as the top choice. Consumers base decisions on price and past experience with a brand. Build a quality emotional and functional value for your product.

Distinctive

Determine your brand promise and how it answers to the customer. Appeal to the personality of your ideal consumer and craft your promise accordingly. Customers respond to a strong brand identity. The more distinctive and unique the more you relate to your ideal customer

By identifying the true equities of your brand you determine what value you bring to your customers. It helps you to answer: Who are you as a brand? What your brand story is? What strengths your brand has? and What your relationship to your customers?

 

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5 Tips for Effective Email Marketing Campaigns

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5 Tips for Effective Email Marketing Campaigns

Email marketing campaigns are a great way for brands to reach out to their target customer. They are a fast and cost-effective way of delivering content. With more brands turning to this method it is important to approach email marketing the right way otherwise your emails risk the chance of being blocked, deleted, or unsubscribed from.

The following tips help improve email marketing campaigns.

1. Target

Don’t spam! Segment your audience according to characteristics. This allows you to tailor the content of your email to certain customers. Instead of sending everything to everyone, your campaign lands in the inboxes of the customers who want to see it.

2. Strong Subject Lines

The subject line is the hook, it needs to entice the reader to click. Subjects need to be short to help leverage curiosity. Be sure to connect the subject line to the overall content of the email. Set up an expectation for the viewer and fulfill it.

3. Call to Action

Craft a call to action in each email. Display the offer and the end date clearly to promote a sense of urgency. The body of your email should draw your customer in and lead to your brand website.

4. Responsive Design

It is important for email marketing campaigns to look good on both web browsers and mobile device platforms. Responsive designs create a better experience for the viewer and optimize the effectiveness of your campaign.

5. Analytics

Focus on the conversions. Take advantage of email marketing tools offered through Hubspot, Mailchimp or Constant Contact to help track click to open rates. These platforms help your brand get the most out of your campaign as they track sales generated.

Email marketing campaigns can be a useful way to communicate and build relationships with customers, gather important analytics and increase ROI. These tips can help transform how your email marketing campaigns land with potential customers.

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Millennials: The Hard Workers and The Savers

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Millennials: The Hard Workers and The Savers

Millennials have been accused of being the laziest generation yet. They are labeled narcissistic, impatient, entitled and disrespectful. Although many believe this, the statistics say otherwise.

According to the Pew Research Center one in three American workers today are Millennials. This year, the Millennial Generation surpassed Generation X as the largest share of the American workforce. This proves that young people are focused and hardworking.

Not only do Millennials work hard they also save hard. They are leading a new era of financial conservatism. Millennials are confident about their ability to save and diligent about their budgets. 56 percent of Millennials believe they are “good savers” and many rely heavily on banking and financial apps to help do so. They have turned to their phones to aid them in tracking their spending.

The accusations of laziness and labels of narcissism are nothing new. Each generation before has faced similar claims, the only difference is that the Millennial Generation is actually evolving. They have adapted and learned how to cope with debt and they are preparing for a better future much earlier on.


As a brand, it can be difficult to reach a generation that is unwilling to spend. On The Fresh we have explored how to craft a campaign that appeals to Millennial Women and the African American Millennial Man. Although specific, this background knowledge can help your brand become a staple to the Millennial Generation. The hard workers and savers will view your brand as worth investing in every time.

 

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Marketing at the Speed of the Consumer

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Marketing at the Speed of the Consumer

As a brand, it is important to keep up to speed with your consumer. We have discussed this concept as it relates to social media on The Fresh before.  Our blog, The Millennials’ Most Significant Relationship: Social Media, covered what millennial women are looking for when they engage with social media.  This is just one facet of the increasing speed of marketing.

Consumers are plugged in. They are continually connected and constantly influenced. Social networks have evolved to be more interactive and multi directional. Online networking can now mimic real time communication. As a brand you must operate at this level.

All channels have increased speed.  Results are expected faster, judgements are made more quickly and demands for growth have increased. The online community can build up or kill a new product over night. New knowledge is expanding. In the mid-20th Century knowledge doubled every 50 years and in 2010 new knowledge doubled every 11 hours. Today, new knowledge most likely doubled since you woke up this morning. New information is churning out at a volume and speed that makes it difficult for brands to secure themselves in the market place. Operating at the speed of your consumer can help you stay at the forefront of this tidal wave of new knowledge.

There are several things brands can do to keep up with the consumer:

  • Leverage big data and analytics. Research and know what your customers are engaging with. Applying this data leads to faster and better responses to overall business challenges.

  • Aim for immediate satisfaction. This includes offers such as same day delivery, and instant downloads.

  • Respond. Customers need attention throughout the customer journey, no matter what stage they are in.

  • Utilize the cloud. The infinite space and flexible structure will be useful as the volume of data increases.

Brands need to launch, learn, and improve faster. By staying up to speed with the consumer, brands will eventually be able to predict what the consumer wants even before they know they want it.


Additional Sources:

Customer Think

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6 Tips For Great Testimonial Videos

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6 Tips For Great Testimonial Videos

Testimonial videos are a great way to speak to your customer.  They highlight the benefits your company can bring to other brands and do this without bragging.  Making testimonial videos is a relevant and authentic way of reaching out to your customers, they resonate with past and potential clients.

There are several steps you can take to ensure you create strong testimonial videos that connect with the viewer:

1. Set Expectations

Figure out the schedule and answer the who, what, when, where and why. Reach out to potential customers who would be willing to take part in the video. Target customers who feel enthusiastic about their experience with the product or brand. Make sure to outline a vision for the look and feel of the video. 

2. To Script or Not To Script

Genuine conversation and expression means more to the viewer than robotic script. Before filming, share questions with your interviewees. Your questions should spotlight the benefits your brand and product provide for the customer. Before the camera starts recording take time to make each individual comfortable. Not everyone will react positively to being on camera!

 3. Take Your Time

Testimonial videos should be short, between 45-60 seconds long. However, they can be up to three minutes and still hold the viewer's attention. This does not mean that your interview is short. The more footage you gather the more important material you find. As the interviewee continues to speak to the camera they will adapt and get more comfortable. 

4. Keep It Simple

Within the time frame of the testimonial video, choose a few select benefits to highlight. Do not overwhelm the viewer. Consumers can only digest so many messages within three minutes.

 5. Visuals

When filming take some time to record b-roll.  B-roll includes product shots, simple text, a look at the community and the activity in and around the workspace. It’s an opportunity to show the viewer the product in action, what benefits it can deliver and the environment of the company.

 6. Structure

In editing, structure the videos to capture the viewer's attention right away. Deliver your message clearly and concisely. How can you edit your video to keep the viewers attention from the very beginning?

Customer testimonial videos provide your brand with a unique opportunity to build trust with potential clients and strengthen existing relationships. They are a great way to reveal to your customers the personal side of your brand and how it benefits your customers.


Additional Sources:

Wistia

 

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Personas vs. Cookies

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Personas vs. Cookies

 

Personas vs. Cookies

As a brand, there are several ways you strengthen your connection with customers. Customer personas versus cookies is a hot topic amongst brand strategists and digital marketers right now. Some businesses opt to rely on personas while others only trust cookies. Here at Minty Fresh Digital we wanted to break it down.


Personas

A persona is a fictional avatar of your ideal customer. Buyer personas are shaped out of research, surveys and interviews with the target audience. They are not broad; instead of targeting a general population personas are specific. They focus on quality over quantity. They zero-in on the characteristics of the ideal customer. Personas define the age, education level, income, location, goals, and challenges of the target customer. They outline their values, hobbies, which blogs they read, and how they get their news. Personas make clear how best to speak to the customer and and identify which of your products features and benefits are most compelling to them. With enough detail, personas allow the brand to view the product from the ideal customer's point of view.

Some argue that by focusing on a specific buyer persona you leave out or alienate possible customers. However, it is this specificity that also draws in and retains your ideal customer. Personas allow for consistency in marketing and an understanding of the customers wants and needs. Brands can use personas to build a reliable strategy to connect deeply to their ideal customer.

Cookies

Cookies are small text files placed on a user’s computers. They are used by websites to gather information about the user. Essentially, cookies are responsible for delivering a personalized experience.

For example, Amazon personalizes each customer's shopping experience with the use of first-party cookies. These cookies track what you buy and allow the site to suggest other options that may interest the customer. Third-party cookies track browsing habits across several websites. They allow for a customized browsing experience based on a customer's past behavior and help automate dynamic advertising units like dynamic banners.

Although some object to the use of cookies, believing they invade privacy, Hubspot actually found that personalized content performs 42% better than standard content. Cookies report and store hard data that internet marketers and advertisers can use to customize the user experience.

Personas and cookies are indeed different animals, but they share one important commonality. They are both proven to boost ROI by personalizing the online shopping experience through the magic of predictive and behavioral marketing. It is up to your brand to decide what is best for your product.


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8 Blogging Tips: What Brands Need to Know

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8 Blogging Tips: What Brands Need to Know

Building online content as a brand is a strong way to connect with customers. Blogging is a new part of our brand strategy, but it is already paying off. The following tips are important for brands that plan to enter, or have already entered the blogosphere:

1. Capture Email Addresses

It’s all about the list. At the end of each blog post, include an option for readers to subscribe to receive updates when there are new posts. Every time you publish a new blog post, copy/paste your most compelling fact, statistic or paragraph into an email with a link to the full article. This is a great way to increase your website traffic and email marketing is one of the best ways to grow your audience and retain readers.

2. Attend Conferences and Meetups

Become an active member of your business community. Discover what is trending and engage with like minded individuals. Conferences and Meetups provide a space for conversations that cannot and will not transpire in a digital forum.  Live events allow you to network and further your industry acumen.  Live events provide learning opportunities, ideas for your next blog post and foster lasting relationships.

3. Repurpose

Just because it is old, does not mean it isn’t still relevant. Repurpose previous content into infographics, videos or presentations. Show your readers how the content you publish is still valuable.

4. Write Often

Write at least twice a week. Publishing posts regularly transforms your blog into a hotspot for new information. It trains your readers into expecting new content from you. They will check out your site more often.

5. Less is More

The shorter the better. Blogs are effective when they are instructive and to the point. When writing a post consider writing shorter sentences and paragraphs. Edit posts to reduce the clutter.  Instead of a 500 word post reduce a post to 350 words to cut the fluff. Some may argue that long copy post (1500 words or more) rank better in Google. They do. But, writing two 1500 articles per week is not a realistic goal for most.

6. Optimize!

Incorporate keywords. After you have produced a number of posts track what posts are doing best. Invest time into Google keyword generator. Use those keywords in posts as well as headings.

7. Get Social

Post to all social media accounts. Use each account to show off different aspects of your brand. On LinkedIn, you want to be all about business, share posts that are professionally oriented. On Facebook, show a little of your personality and keep it light. On Twitter, shine the spotlight on your blog. If you want to reach the millennial audience your brand should also be on Instagram and Snapchat.

8. Don’t Give Up

There is a misconception that by simply creating a blog you will automatically attract thousands of viewers which will then lead to increased revenue far beyond expectation. In reality, blogging takes time. It takes persistence and patience to build a substantial following. With each new post, your brand voice will gain resonance, depth and distinction. Focus on your actions (writing 2 blog posts and publishing it on 4 different platforms every week), instead of comments, likes, retweets and shares.

Building a popular blog with a large readership takes time. If you use these tips and stay the course, your brand will reap the benefits of blogging.


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Millennial Women Series: Find the Funny Bone

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Millennial Women Series: Find the Funny Bone

Continuing our 5-part series focusing on the Millennial woman. Today's feature: "Humor"


Women are a large segment of the Millennial generation; they’re highly diverse and challenging traditional marketing methods. One interesting way they have affected branding already is with the inclusion of both socially conscious and female-centric humor in marketing.

This is a generation that grew up watching the comedy of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig. Actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer join this genre of comic.

These types of performers manage to successfully talk about social and day-to day issues from an honest female perspective while living as a celebrity/idol. Being honest requires one to be vulnerable, and to be vulnerable is fearless. Millennial women are inspired by this type of genuine strength. The off-beat humor isn’t mean-spirited and relates to the actual experiences of Millennial females.

Relating a brand to humor is a clever marketing tactic and it's memorable. This is the cycle:

  1. As the customer laughs they are reminded of the brand

  2. The next time the customer sees that respective brand’s ads, a positive association with the brand is achieved. Through humor.

  3. Humor, humanizes. It builds rapport, makes brands more memorable and increases consumer-brand affinity.

A couple of ads demonstrate this tactic by successfully associating their brand with one of the comics these Millennial women look up to:

Relatability. Relevance. Realness. These are the reasons why brands choose to work with these types of female performers. Contemporary female comedians, tap into the authentic narrative of a Millennial woman. As illustrated in the cycle above, brands can leverage this gateway to strengthen their positioning. As a large portion of the Millennial generation, the female perspective is highly important to consider for brands approaching marketing. The female voice is getting stronger in marketing, humor is one way to reach this defiant crowd.

 

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Millennial Women Series: Hashtags

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Millennial Women Series: Hashtags

We're continuing with our 5-part series focusing on the Millennial woman. Today’s feature: #Hashtagit.


More than 70% of consumers are motivated to explore new brands when hashtags are present. Hashtags are everywhere and a lot of the time serve as fluff, but there is a way to use hashtags to foster conversation and unite consumers in a digital experience. With the Millennial addiction to social media using hashtags can make a great marketing technique. One click has the potential to bring each Millennial to a self curated page that showcases the brand.

When marketing to Millennial women inspiring and empowering hashtags can generate social buzz and PR. Hashtags such as #likeagirl for Always and #girlboss for Sophia Amoruso’s book have sparked online conversations.

One brand successfully using hashtags for this market is Actavis. This pharmaceutical brand offers birth control with a very low dose of estrogen. Their recent advertising campaign focuses on the hashtag #ActuallySheCan.  #ActuallySheCan was created in response to the existing catchphrase “I can’t even.” This directly appeals to Millennial women empowering them to achieve their goals while encouraging the consumer to get more familiar with the brand. 

The site focuses on a character, Violet, who is a young female Millennial. On different pages of the site the visitor has the option to engage with the brand on a more playful level. Actavis invites visitors to upload selfies to receive a personalized Shemoji and is currently hosting a writing contest called Actually 500 Words Can

#ActuallySheCan creates an online community for Millennial women to interact with the brand and learn about birth control. An online conversation is started where anyone can join or go to receive information. Their hashtag #ActuallySheCan inspires women to take part in the conversation, take control of their own health and go for their goals.

Using hashtags amplifies brand voice and allows the target consumer to engage with the product directly. Not only does it create an online community but it also stimulates a larger movement. Brands, marketers, creatives--consider reaching the Millennial women by creating a hashtag to which she can connect.

 

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Millennial Women Series: For God's Sake, Have Some Values

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Millennial Women Series: For God's Sake, Have Some Values

We're continuing with our 5-part series focusing on the Millennial woman. Today's feature: "For God's Sake Have Some Values." 


According to Forbes, consumers have proven more likely to support a brand they perceive as ethical and fair. More than any other generation Millennials have the highest ideals. Nearly 40 percent of millennials prefer to spend money on a good cause, even if it means paying more for a product. Applying this ‘Millennial perspective’ to your brand can create a dramatic change.

When appealing to the female Millennial it helps to have a strong association between brand and values. Socially conscious brands appeal to Millennial women. Brands that support wellness, naturalness, localism, and are looking to better the world or a certain community are appealing.

Method is a household and personal cleaning brand that creates “naturally-derived, biodegradable, non-toxic” products.  Their mission is to create aesthetically pleasing cleaning supplies that has the safety of the consumer as well as Mother Earth in mind. The relationship between the customer and earth becomes a large part of investing in the product. The customer ends up feeling as if they have improved earth. With a mission and brand traits that matter to the world, Method has earned a spot in the hearts, minds and wallets of Millennials.

This relationship strategy is repeated in the branding of the female care product, Thinx. A fairly new invention, Thinx is revolutionizing female care by creating "period underwear". They are environmentally friendly and for every pair a customer purchases the company sends funds to their partner organization, AFRIpads. Thinx uses creativity and social awareness as marketing tools. Millennial women care about programs such as these that help them manage their well-being and make healthier choices.

It’s more important than ever that brands either or adopt or associate themselves with an important cause. Any brand can sell widgets, software or packaged goods. Great brands can change the world. Millennial are looking for a larger story. It’s up to brands today to build a legacy that connects with the future consumers of the planet, and leaves the planet in great shape.

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Fresh Perspectives: Tarah Feinberg, CMO & NY Managing Director, KITE

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Fresh Perspectives: Tarah Feinberg, CMO & NY Managing Director, KITE

Welcome to the FRESH Perspectives series. FRESH Perspectives is designed to give top insights from VIPs, industry influencers, marketing leadership, and all around amazing people. 

This week, we're profiling Tarah Feinberg, or as we call him, one of the most amazing people in New York. We're not just making that up. Tarah's spent 15+ years in entertainment and marketing as a translator, creator and ambassador for emerging technologies. He's launched new divisions and practice areas, like the Digital Studio at NBC Universal and iCrossing's social media and real-time content marketing group. Currently, as CMO and NY Managing Director of KITE, he leads communications and customer development as well as KITE’s NY operations. 


FRESH PERSPECTIVES: TARAH FEINBERG, CMO & NY MANAGING DIRECTOR, KITE

FRESH: What are the two biggest issues marketers are facing today?

TF: Growth and disruption. Fortune 1000 isn't seeing the double-digit growth that they got used to before the Lehman Brothers crash, but their shareholders expect greater performance and increased profits more than ever. That requires marketers to find new ways to differentiate and to capture the attention and affinity of consumers at every point along the purchase journey. Innovation is vital to long-term marketing success as well as customer and consumer relevance. Large enterprises tend to move quite slowly, so it's essential that they look outside of their own walls to invigorate the growth they need. 

Disruptive innovation relates to the companies that might steal large market share and/or drastically change industries. Enterprises have historically been pretty bad at predicting or recognizing these threats (which could be great opportunities) before it's too late. 

One of my favorite tweets when Google bought Nest came from Aaron Levie, CEO of Box: "The future will confuse lots of companies: one day you make home appliances, the next day you're competing against a search engine."

Just think: Uber never would have come out of a taxi or transportation company; Airbnb would never have come out of Hilton or Marriott. Leading corporations are starting to recognize that disruptive innovation rarely starts (or flourishes) within, so they are looking to startups for growth, competitive advantage and to strengthen all aspects of their business, from the most intractable problems to existing initiatives. 

FRESH: What did you learn from your big brand experience (HBO, NBC, iCrossing)

TF: I believe that a lot of success comes down to timing and the willingness to do things that have never been done before. I feel incredibly fortunate that my career has afforded me the opportunity to work at a range of progressive companies within which I was able to launch new divisions and capabilities. This gave me a lot of insight into the nature of entrepreneurialism within enterprises, which has led me to where I am today. 

At HBO, I learned storytelling from the masters and worked with a marketing team that rarely used the same playbook twice. At NBC Universal, I helped to launch the Digital Studio, exploring and defining how to tell stories and create interactive entertainment experiences across the many screens and devices that were just starting to emerge. Then, I saw a huge opportunity to help brands connect to more fragmented audiences through content and social, so I dove into the world of digital marketing, producing competition reality shows for Neutrogena, documentaries for pharmaceutical companies, casual games for CPG brands, launched many brands' social media channels, and more. 

Over time, my big brand clients began to express increasing demand for "innovation", which usually meant that they knew they needed something new, but weren't quite sure what that was. This required us to approach marketing with approaches that don't necessarily fit into traditional media or creative briefs -- an area where startups were becoming increasingly important. I found myself often playing the role of "innovation strategic planner" or creative technologist, an emerging tech ambassador tasked with seeking novel solutions to marketing challenges. This led to some really interesting campaigns and partnerships, but there were tons of silos within our organizations, it was really tough to stay on top of trends and constant developments in this dynamic ecosystem alongside the other 10 day jobs we had, and it was taking too long to get partnerships done. That was the impetus for building KITE -- if we were recruiters, we'd be using LinkedIn. If we were realtors, we'd be using Zillow. We needed software to make innovation partnerships scalable.

FRESH: Tell us a little about what you're working on these days.

TF: I'm helping marketers and corporations to solve their business problems with emerging technology partnerships. At KITE, we're building a software platform that makes it much easier for big companies to  discover, evaluate, socialize and partner with tech companies with a lot more speed, precision and scale. It's not easy to change existing business processes and incumbent models. Our software is engineered to accelerate enterprise innovation efforts, from discovery and evaluation to selection and management, implementing concrete partnerships that solve an organization's most important business challenges.

FRESH: What's your proudest accomplishment at KITE?

TF: It has been amazing to facilitate some of the most brilliant alliances between enterprises and startups through our platform over the last few years. Companies that probably would have never found each other, or would not have considered working together in that context, have secured partnerships because KITE removes adverse selection and helps drive the decision-making process. Large corporations that were somewhat paralyzed by a lack of process and unified internal communication around emerging tech are now addressing business priorities all across their businesses. Startups that were having trouble finding the right decision-maker layers deep within a potential customer are now locking in deals that give them the market fit validation, case studies and revenue they need to grow and succeed. It has also been extremely fulfilling to see our solution apply across a range of industries and verticals, including our first non-profit/NGO, as we just helped USA for UNHCR to secure a startup partner for its efforts to address the refugee issue in this country. 


FRESH: Where do you think Marketing is headed?

TF: Innovation is at the top of the CMO agenda. Because the CMO is responsible for growth, digital business models for marketing and business transformation have entered the enterprise through marketing. The marketing function has developed some of the most sophisticated models and processes for testing, learning and evolving investment in emerging media, platforms and technologies. Leading marketers in Auto, CPG, Finance, Health and Telecommunications are adopting a “golden ratio” for embracing, investing, resourcing, measuring and committing to innovative models and platforms: 

  • 70%: traditional & existing
  • 20%: digital and mobile
  • 10%: new and experimental

The "new" is the opportunity for true differentiation. A lot of these efforts begin in the incremental space, solving immediate business problems; more and more, though, enterprises are beginning to explore more transformative and disruptive innovation, which is where much larger growth potential lies. The explosive growth and diversity of startups solving immediate business problems and disrupting incumbent models—backed by over $50B/year in venture funding— challenges every business to lean into this ecosystem with their most trusted partners.

FRESH: How has Minty Fresh played a role? 

TF: Desmond has been one of my most trusted colleagues and partners since the beginning of our careers, producing a wide range of content together over the years. In Minty Fresh, he has created a highly valuable marketing company that has helped KITE to capture, promote and communicate our clients' and our own accomplishments. I have seen Minty Fresh develop unique, winning marketing strategies for a range of brands and see them as an essential extension of KITE's marketing department as we grow, bringing core expertise, a flexible model and unwavering creativity to our business. In short, they make us look really, really good. 

FRESH: What's next on your agenda?

TF: In a study KITE conducted at the beginning of the year, we found that about 77% of Fortune 100 companies already work with startups in some capacity.  We've learned a ton from our early customers, which has helped us to continuously improve our software. Now it's time for me to step up our marketing and business development efforts to capture more of that 77%, not to mention the many more companies beyond the top 100 that are hungry for tech partnerships. There's a huge addressable market out there for us, so it's time for me to make sure that everyone knows that any serious marketer should be using KITE to power his/her innovation efforts. 

To connect with Tarah or KITE, please him find him here on LinkedIn

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How to Select the Right Music for Your Brand Videos

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How to Select the Right Music for Your Brand Videos

I grew up in a musical household--played every instrument, composed, constant music, sat in studios as an observer or participant in cities all over the country. This year I went to LA to support my mom's Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal album. I know a lot about music, but I cannot tell you, on the spot, what type of music is best for your brand videos.  The only people who can do that are your customers.

Taste in music is personal. Rhythms, notes, sounds all connect and resonate with us in different ways. This is why, time after time, in every video that has ever been done, music is often the most contentious issue. The process: The marketer gets the video cut, several different music options, plays the music options to the team, the team states what they like personally, and whoever has the best job title and loudest voice, usually makes the call. While many of these marketers look at it through the lens of what they like the most, the best lens to look through is that of the audience. 

Here's a great analogy: It would be insane if the goal was to create a print ad and everyone listed their own favorite colors in the decision-making process. Color palettes are determined very early in the branding stages. Similarly, music and should be a part of the brand planning also. And just like other elements with the brand, it should be based on what story is told and which story resonates best with your audience. 

Tips:

  • Use best practices: Think about a couple of songs for long videos. An anthem song for campaigns. Avoid using music with lyrics under voiceovers. Standardize the audio levels so listeners don't go deaf even though the track might be exciting. 
  • Create a video brand plan and include music as a category. If video is important to your content strategy, create a video brand plan section within your brand guidelines/visual center where you provide audio examples of what the brand sounds like. This way, the brand guidelines follow through on a promise to unite people around the brand.
  • YOU are not the audience, and we're not so sure your interns are either! Your interaction with the brand prevents you from having a biased opinion. So seek out the opinions of your audience for music. Small focus groups with your audience base are great. (See our blog post on DIY focus groups! It's really helpful for this!)

Questions? Call us, or shoot us an email.  We're happy to help and give some insights on what's worked for us!  

 

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Storytelling in Design: How to Identify It and Bring It Into Your Brand

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Storytelling in Design: How to Identify It and Bring It Into Your Brand

We're hiring for a few positions so I spent about 4 hours yesterday reviewing resumes, portfolios and LinkedIn profiles. I stopped at the ones with big brand experience in their portfolios and looked at the ads.  For the most part the ads...looked like ads...with a big famous brand logo on them. "Okay, this is someone who knows the system, who is capable of creating for our clients."

But the few that really caught my eye were designers who were able to tell stories. They highlighted their love for storytelling in their portfolios, even in their approach to creating their own portfolios-- how they told their own stories of who they were, what they did, and why they loved design. It was an entirely different approach to design and self-identity, which made me feel like I was breathing different air. 

Behind every design is an amazing story. Great brands don't hire designers and say, "Design us an ad that tells a story." Storytelling is part of the way the brand THINKS. It's part of brand DNA. Designers follow brand guidelines when creating. Therefore, storytelling must be derived from brand guidelines and brand visual centers that emphasize storytelling. Here are some steps to bring a storytelling approach to your brand:

Write a Brand Manifesto: Great writing is something we can all get behind. The Declaration of Independence is a great example. "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...inalienable rights..." We each see something powerful when we say those words. Brands are no different. A brand manifesto conjures up an emotional connection. It defines the purpose of the brand--the why, when and where for audiences. Most importantly it creates a bridge from POV to visuals that a great designers can feel and manifest visually.

Create a Visual Center...No Really Do It. Brands need more than visual guidelines that align folks on font types, logo lockups and colors. Great brands that tell great stories need visual centers that show more than use cases. The visual center is where the manifesto and brand values marry the visuals. The story, mood, and purpose of the brand appears with photos, drawings or other stimulating visuals.

Change Your Creative Process: If you're looking at this and wondering why storytelling isn't a big part of everything that is produced, take a step back at the creative process. Is your creative process designed to prioritize storytelling? Does your creative process take into account the hard work that's been done on the visual center and brand guidelines. Are sales goals and deadlines preventing the creative process from actualizing? Take all of these things into consideration and map the process to the importance of storytelling.

If you'd like more info on how to bring better storytelling to your brand, we're happy to help. Yaaas!  Feel free to reach out to us directly. 

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8 Ways to Build a Focus Group on the Cheap

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8 Ways to Build a Focus Group on the Cheap

Focus groups get people to interact with your product, idea or solution and ultimately provide qualitative data and new thinking from your target audience. Great marketers know the importance of focus group, but this experience can get swept under the rug due to fear of cost and/or time commitment concerns.

Today, smaller corporations move at the speed of light but with decreased budgets and less time to do more work in more channels than ever before. The processes of Fortune 500 companies are irrelevant to smaller brands who often don't have the perceived "luxury" of conducting focus groups for even landmark products or offerings. But focus groups aren't luxury items. They're critical to your business. The bottom line is that some insights are better than none, especially when you're investing marketing dollars into content creation, events, or product development. Here are some tips for creating a focus group and getting results in a short period of time.

  1. Work with nimble, strategic agencies who can pull together groups quickly and then provide qualitative feedback within a short period of time.  
  2. Get hands on. You've been working with your brand long enough that with just a few comms, you'd be able to assemble an awesome focus group that's ready to open up to you. 
  3. Validate your questions with your peers before beginning. Nothing helps to cover the bases like involving others at the top end to give additional perspectives.
  4. Be honest & demand full honesty. You have everything to lose. When we are not fully open we lose the ability to guide our brand genuinely. Complete honesty is a great way to add value.
  5. Get out of the office.  Don't hold focus groups in stuffy places where the environment is too sterile (unless of course it absolutely needs to be). If your focus groups are more conversational and open your audience will feel relaxed and more inclined to participate. Locations: Parks, brunch, beach, quieter coffee shops. 
  6. If possible, commit to devoting two days with two separate audiences. That way you can test and validate your assumptions from the first day. It may even help you to prove your hypothesis.
  7. Tap into emotion. The great thing about focus groups is that they are PEOPLE with real emotions, problems and lives. TAP INTO THAT. THIS IS WHERE THE STORIES/CONTEXT/FEELINGS ARE. 
  8. Build brand affinity by thanking your audience (with a gift). Even though it may have been done on the cheap, make sure to thank them with some cool items, a gift certificate, or a handwritten note. Little things matter. 

You don't need to be in the dark when it comes to building focus groups. We'd love to share our insights with you on building focus groups that will have a great impact on your project or product. We've done this for some of our largest and our smaller clients. We're always happy to chat! Keep it FRESH. 

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FRESH Perspectives: Amy Elizabeth Hauser, GM Marketing Maersk Line

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FRESH Perspectives: Amy Elizabeth Hauser, GM Marketing Maersk Line

FRESH Perspectives: Amy Elizabeth Hauser

Welcome to the second edition of our FRESH Perspectives series. FRESH Perspectives is designed to give top insights from VIPs, industry influencers, marketing leadership, and all around amazing people. 

Today, we're profiling Amy Hauser, General Manager of Marketing & Sales Support at Maersk Line.  Maersk Line is the global container division and the largest operating unit of the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group. It is the world's largest container shipping company employing approximately 89,000 people with reported profit of USD 2.3 million in 2014. The company was founded in 1928.

FRESH: Tell us a little about what you're working on these days. 

AEH: Communications, marketing and business development are my biggest functions. Maersk Line, Limited focuses on the US Military and US Government as our primary audiences, and as a public company, we also report to our investors, shareholders and employees.  I work on a wide range of projects--everything from crisis communications, to company-wide presentations and customer specific messaging.  Our communications are at times global in nature or very targeted to US Senators, Congressmen and other government officials to influence their votes on specific opportunities that influence the maritime sector. I'm also overseeing content creation and web production for the US Government Division of Maersk Line. And we're building two new offices, so I'm working to develop new branding for these spaces. 

FRESH: What are the two biggest issues marketers are facing today?

AEH: A big challenge is diminishing budgets and decreases in government spending. We have to make sure the US Government has funds allocated to continue to do business with us. If budgets don't get passed, we can't work with companies to transport cargo, such as humanitarian aid.  

We have a two-pronged approach of reaching out to lobbyists and government officials to raise awareness so that we can transport their cargo. A larger industry concern is that in peacetime economies, there isn't as much cargo moving back and forth. So business is diminished. 

Secondly, email marketing is a challenge. Our emails can't get through firewalls because these are government employees and their firewalls are ironclad. 

To solve for both problems, we've really focused on event marketing. This has been a good fit for us. We have a full time lobbyist on staff, but once a year we do a congressional "Sail-In" where we meet with congressmen and staff and talk about our issues. We also have several industry meetings and tradeshows in which we display our booth, our CEO attends and we get face time with key influencers and decision makers.  

FRESH: What things did you learn from your early big brand experience?

AEH:  I've worked with Coca-Cola and Concha y Toro, both huge international companies. At these brands, everything you do with marketing has an international impact, which is just like Maersk Line. Global strategy matters, but the details are most important to drive awareness. You can't get mired in the strategy and forget about executing the details. 

I've learned that relationships matter in working with the public. I've had the experience of working with colleagues from tiny countries, like Papua New Guinea, to the Global Sustainability team located in Singapore and the video production team in Copenhagen. In every project, the details are incredibly vital. Cultural sensitivity is important and every action across the globe has an impact so we have to be aware of what’s going on. Even though our communications are mainly in English, we often translate press releases and shore side communications into regional languages for our colleagues and customers.  

FRESH: What's your proudest accomplishment at Maersk Line?

AEH: After we went through a fierce reorganization, the executive management team didn't think we needed a marketing function. I had to be dynamic and prove my value to the team.  Out of 9 people, I was chosen to lead Marketing and Communications as the face and the voice of the brand. I have leveraged this experience to step up and take on a lot more responsibility.  

FRESH: Where do you think marketing is headed?

AEH: There is a lot of discussion about how mobile is becoming the powerhouse and data-driven marketing will become more sophisticated. Still, good content is key for any successful campaign. Because there are so many restrictions in place regarding how we communicate with our audience (the US government), we have decided to really focus on event marketing.  For us, there's nothing better than getting in front of people. There's so much online interaction that people are starting to crave a more human experience to feel more connected to each other and to brands. I'm focusing more on phone calls, sending thank you letters and getting people together for lunch instead of emailing newsletters or whitepapers. 

FRESH: How has Minty Fresh played a role?

AEH: Rightfully so, our leadership was sensitive about spending money on marketing following the reorganization. When things settled, it was very important to update our messaging and positioning. Minty Fresh did a great job of helping us say more with less content. Minty Fresh also was very instrumental in focusing us in on what we wanted to do. In conversations with Minty Fresh, we were provided with many options in regards to website design. Minty Fresh was able to make suggestions I hadn't even considered or known were possible because of their technical expertise and knowledge. All of this development ultimately paved the way for their beautiful site redesign. And it was less expensive than we estimated. 

FRESH: What are your goals?

AEH: We're opening two new offices. We want to get  settled in the new space. We also want to continue to align further with the messaging from Maersk Line headquarters. I'd like to make more connections in Copenhagen and develop videos specifically about US Flag shipping and Maersk Line, Limited.  My goals are to increase visibility within Maersk Line, publish meaningful and compelling content and increase our division’s business with the US government and military, one Senator at a time.  

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How Brands Use Microsites to Win Millennials

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How Brands Use Microsites to Win Millennials

Millennials are connecting with brands completely differently than any other generation. They, and others who have adopted Millennials behaviors, are your audience. 

But 84% of Millennials do not trust traditional advertising. Eye-opening stats for any brand. "Yawn. Alright cool, but why microsites," you say.

STATS DON'T LIE: 

  1. Only 1% of Millennials believe that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more
  2. 84% of Millennials state that user generated content on company websites influences their buying decision
  3. 95% of US Millennials in the US think friends are the most credible source of product information
  4. US Millennials prefer social content sharing
  5. 48% of Millennials state word-of-mouth influences their product purchases
  6. 42% of Millennials are interested in helping brands develop products and services

Done correctly, microsites don't have distractions that exist on the main site, enabling visitors to focus on the content, where they find real conversations and actively engage in calls to action. Microsite experiences elevate branding, provide a clear, trusted reason for repeat visits, increase the online footprint and are often a preferred part of the Millennial buyer’s journey.

Focus on trust. To overcome trust issues and improve brand communications, microsites are a beautiful place where brands can host two-way conversations and curate brand and user generated content from social media or anywhere else. Trust is found in conversations. Trust is found in peer-to-peer discussions. Trust is found where audiences discover authentic stories of people who reflect their experiences and stories. In building a mircosite, brands are building communities for their customers to explore, learn more and develop affinity for a brand.

Sephora, one of our clients, has done a beautiful job of creating such an experience with their Beauty Board. Beauty Board works as an experience that aggregates and curates social media content and direct submissions from users through the interface. Here, the Millennial audience can see what works for others, what others have to say, which products are popular, and tell their own stories as well. It is a perfect example of how a great brand can build trust and community--THE foundational elements to engage Millennials. 

Microsites also create a playground for consumers to explore and get a sense of the deeper meaning of the brand and it's personality. McDonald's has put a lot of hard work into appealing to Millennials in response to increasingly negative awareness around their brand. They've set up numerous microsites that target different ethnicities, cultures and consumers of all types in the buying journey. McDonald's delivers curated content to reshape brand image. 

If building greater rapport with Millenials is important to you, consider a microsite to generate conversation and build trust. It's a lot easier than you think. For more insights and direction, reach out to me directly at desmond@mintyfreshdigital.com

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3 Steps to Become a Great Storyteller

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3 Steps to Become a Great Storyteller

Don't let the title fool you. You were born a great storyteller. Storytelling is the fundamental way human beings communicate. Everything we say tells a story.  You do it already in every aspect of your life. So, baby, you were born this way. 

Storytelling for brands is no different. Every brand, product, offering, service, thing-a-ma-jig and whatchamacallit has a story to it--a history, a purpose, a reason why it's important.  As creatives, our job is to make that story come alive and then make it matter to the other person at the receiving end of each touchpoint. So how do we tell great brand stories that make a difference? 

An Example:

We worked with DocuSign to create testimonial videos. Instead of following the corporate interview template that so many other brands do, we were inspired to tell a story of DocuSign use in the out-of-the-office setting of Hawaii, with real customers. The result was an an attractive story that brought DocuSign's product offering to life in a meaningful way. Audiences loved it. The steps we took to tell this story were simple, and we're sharing them with you today. 

3 Steps to Become a Great Storyteller

First, get your facts straight. Great storytelling starts with a thorough understanding of what you're talking about. It involves research and a complete comprehension of the subject matter. It also requires a great understanding of your audience and their preferences. Think about what facts are important for your audience to understand, what reasons they have to believe, and what statistics will make your offering different. If you do this, you're already on the path to creating a great story. 

Set the mood. Having the facts straight on the audience and subject matter will allow you to develop story types that could best resonate with your audience. For instance, the Millennial audience who has a greater mistrust of brands, might trust a brand story that features real people instead of actors. If that's the case, you can start to create relevant stories that feature real people and go from there. In essence, setting the mood is about sculpting the personality of the story, so that your audience can consume it better. 

Finally, be fearless. Creative development is tough, not because it's "hard to do," but often because rejection is hard. Great brands are fearless storytellers. They take on tough issues, and tell tough stories that others shy away from. They may add a flavor of social discourse at times, or take a stand on how things truly are in the world. It's risky to take a stand for something, but the end result is that you're able to differentiate your brand, offering, or products from the other noise that we regularly tune out. 

If you're looking for more insights on how to tell great stories for your brand, connect with us today, or reach out to me directly at desmond@mintyfreshdigital.com.

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Don't Hire a Copywriter. Hire a Persuader.

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Don't Hire a Copywriter. Hire a Persuader.

Sometimes I check my spam folder to see if there is, like, one spectacular, beautiful email from someone who is "the chosen one." Someone who is such an amazing writer that I respond, "Enough with the fraud, you conniving felonious poet, you. Have you ever considered a career in advertising?"

Spam ends up in the spam folder for a reason. While there is a highly technical explanation, let's assume that it's because the writing is "undesired," too. Marketing often depends on the written word, so the story, and every word in it, should move audiences to take action. If you want to hire copywriters who know the art of persuasion, here are some steps we take at Minty Fresh Digital. 

First, get the facts straight. Great copywriters have a complete comprehension of the subject matter. They also understand who they are talking to, what the brand voice sounds like, and how their audiences prefer communication. Persuasive writers have facts on what's important for the audience to understand, what the reasons-to-believe are, and what statistics will make the offering different. Sound familiar? It's also part of the process to great storytelling. 

Color. When we read, our brains convert words to images. That's how we work. When it comes to persuasive copywriting, color brings the language to life. The imagery created by the words should resonate with the audience and awaken senses at the same time. If your current writing doesn't do that, it's a problem. Call us. 

Be specific. You don't have much time. Persuasive writers know their time is limited, as attention spans shorten. Keeping things short and sweet makes a great impression, keeps audiences searching for more and build brand affinity. 

For more insights on how we can help you create persuasive copy that brings gallons of black ink to your bottom line, connect with us today, or reach out to me directly at desmond@mintyfreshdigital.com.

 

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FRESH Perspectives: Bryce Anderson, San Francisco

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FRESH Perspectives: Bryce Anderson, San Francisco

Welcome to the inaugural edition of our FRESH Perspectives series. This series is designed to bring you top insights from VIPs, industry influencers, marketing leadership, and simply put, amazing people. 


FRESH PERSPECTIVES: BRYCE ANDERSON, SAN FRANCISCO

Today, we're profiling Bryce Anderson. Born in San Francisco, Bryce is a Marketing and Sales wunderkind who launched and sold multiple businesses in his mid-20s before sharpening his focus to advertising, marketing & social media. 

FRESH: TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROMANCE WITH FACEBOOK BEFORE FACEBOOK WAS FACEBOOK.  

BA: Right around the time that Facebook launched Fan Pages (a long time ago, and yes I’m dating myself) also known as 'Business Pages,' I was running a lot of Cost-Per-Action (CPA) affiliate marketing campaigns. At the time, Facebook did not charge page owners to serve impressions to their own fans. If a brand posted an offer, it ended up in all of their fan’s newsfeeds. 

It was a huge opportunity to segment millions of consumers based on their dating interests, brand preferences, lifestyles and hundreds of other targeting parameters. Putting relevant offers in front of our segmented owned-media, allowed us to rake in the conversions. It was incredibly lucrative. By the time brands caught on, we were well-positioned as social media experts and able to leverage our experience to start a social media agency, well before that term became popular. 

FRESH: TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE WORKING ON THESE DAYS.

BA: Most of my time is split between helping brands find their voices and producing videos that are both authentic and shareable. Video’s popularity is skyrocketing, so the bar for attention-worthy video continues to climb. I help brands connect with their audiences better. I’m also developing new innovative customer acquisition strategies. Behavioral retargeting and responsive email funnels are driving impressive results for both small businesses and marquee brands. It’s fascinating stuff.

FRESH: WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST ISSUES MARKETERS ARE FACING TODAY?

BA: There are so many marketing channels to maintain and discover on a daily basis. There’s also a ton of data to shift through. These prolific channels and endless heaps of data make it difficult for marketers to know where to focus their efforts to drive the highest ROI. There is just an immense amount of content for marketers to absorb in order to stay sharp. It’s increasingly more difficult for today’s marketer to know where to start and what to concentrate on. 

FRESH: WHAT THINGS DID YOU LEARN FROM YOUR EARLY BIG BRAND EXPERIENCE? 

BA: Big brands are looking for customized solutions that accommodate their audience’s specific needs. They are not interested in cookie cutter ad campaigns. The research and development stage is critical. For agencies, the best way to help big brands is to listen and truly understand their business objectives. When you have visceral understanding of a brand, creatives are empowered to make award-winning campaigns that change the entire trajectory of the industry. 

FRESH: WHERE DO YOU THINK MARKETING IS HEADED?

BA: Advertising has become insanely evolved. Today it's invasive and borderline creepy at times, but that’s the new normal, like it or not. Consumers will not even register an unintelligent ad. Millennials want conversations. The generation after them wants even greater specificity. Razor-sharp, targeted, personally optimized ads are today’s reality and the next generation of advertising. We’ve already seen it. Ads must keep getting smarter, or they will get lost in the noise. 

FRESH: WHAT'S NEXT ON YOUR AGENDA? 

BA: I’m doubling down on brands and marketing. I want to get deeper into telling stories that are worth listening to, worth sharing and have a positive impact on society. It’s an exciting time for brands as they are now able to truly connect with people. I’m looking forward to both watching and participating as this new era of fast-paced, uber dynamic advertising and marketing unfolds. 

CONNECT WITH BRYCE ON LINKEDIN

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Video Is Money

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Video Is Money

 

Do you like your job? Do you like piles of money? Do you want more ca$h money to stuff into your pockets? If you answered yes to any of these questions, please keep reading. While we can't promise what your CEO will do for you for being the best kick-ass marketer on the face of the earth, we can promise that if you adopt a video plan into your marketing strategy, you'll see great results at the bottom line. 

STATS DON'T LIE

Let's start with stats. 

  • 70% of marketers think video works better than any other medium
  • Internet users spend 88% more time on websites with video
  • 64% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it.
  • 74% of all internet traffic within 2 years will be video
  • Millennials prefer video communication over any other type of content.

Simply put, video is absolutely one of the best ways to communicate with your audience. Video is one of the most powerful mediums to create messages.  It’s how we see the world beyond us. Produced and distributed appropriately, video builds continuity, excitement, and improves brands and conversion altogether. And furthermore, it's steadily becoming the preferred medium of communication for Millennials and the majority of the world. Check out our insights on Millennials in our last blog post. However, just 24% of companies today use online video for audiences. I'm sure they like piles of money too, but video as a core part of strategy could have a profound impact on business today. Trust us...it will. Brands are starting to catch up. Are you? 

OUR APPROACH

We don't just create videos. We create compelling stories. We've produced videos for nearly 90% of our clients. Our in-house video production is a cornerstone. That means we do everything from strategy to creative concepts, production, post-production, A/B testing and distribution. And we work with video influencer partners to create original influencer videos. But it's our storytelling that sets us apart. Storytelling is the fundamental way human beings communicate and share experiences. It's a springboard for emotion, brand affinity, just plain old liking something. 

Our video production starts with a deep dive to understand the audience and value proposition, then we apply a custom filter of storytelling to get you closer to your audience, compelling them to take action.  There's a big difference between a product video, and a product video with a story. Let your imagination fly.

If you're looking for a partner (to achieve superstar marketer status and) to bring your thoughts to life, connect with us.  We'd love to get a conversation started and bring FRESH thinking to your brand.

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