I spend a lot of time engaging in the reading/writing trenches, nestled into corners of various coffee shops. I’ve paraded face in quite a few in my day. So much, in fact, I think I’ve noticed some favorable marketing aspects and some which could use a caffeine-infused wakeup.
Of course, a post speaking specifically upon coffee shops is not going to help the general public of business owners; so, I will relay my observations and suggestions in a manner that is digestible to all.
Pay Attention to How Your Brand Treats Employees
When I was younger, my mom would always say what I did was a reflection on her (sorry, ma!). In business, I believe how employees are treated is a reflection on upper-level executives and overall brand value.
I’ve observed managers speaking negatively, condescendingly, and downright disrespectfully to employees, to the point where I told one individual I would not be returning to their establishment due to my observations.
Chris Winfield tweeted a Forbes article yesterday on behaviors of leaders. Check numbers three and five. If the above manger did, I would still be frequenting their establishment.
Do you think others observe how your employees are treated? You better count on it.
Some coffee shops are designed poorly, as far as creating an ongoing ambiance. Rather than a quick come-and-go scenario, other brands ‘invite’ you to stay…for as long as you wish. Furthermore, the design of these establishments ‘walk’ that brand of ‘talk.’
Basically, as a frequenter of coffee shops, I have needs. So do all of your consumers (regardless of your service/product). For instance, yes, I like coffee; but, I also want to stay and sit, use WiFi, learn about local happenings, purchase the local and national paper, and situate myself in comfortable seating.
What is your brand doing to ensure consumers come back? What additional resources or amenities could you provide them with? It could be a number of things including on and offline implementations. Do you think cuddling your consumers makes a difference?
Take a look at what 7-11s in Jakarta are doing to satisfy their consumers.
Give More to Get More
If yours is a business that likes cutting cost-corners then this sub section is not for you. There’s a particular shop I visited. I buy a lot of coffee; so, when a coffee card was offered I took the bait. You get every tenth coffee free. Awesome, that means within a good week, I’ll probably get at least two free coffees!
Admittedly, I don’t like carrying around extra cards or ‘signing up’ anywhere; but, this made sense, until… For one, there’s no honor system or phone number system. If I forgot my card, then, oh well, I’m out of luck as far as the ongoing freebie is concerned.
Secondly, as stated above, I drink a lot of coffee. It’s not uncommon for me to consume more than twenty cups per week; yet, due to the manager’s rules, I can only get one free coffee per week (though that notion contradicts the ‘buy 9 get the 10th free’ slogan).
Thirdly, and this was relayed to me verbatim: “We no longer carry coffee ushers for our customers because the manufacturer raised the price.” They raised the price on cardboard coffee holders? By how much? A few cents? Wow.
Consumers like being cuddled. Furthermore, we like the eventual ‘freebie’ or ‘discount’ for being a ‘regular.’ It’s kind of like a ‘thank you for your patronage’ type of thing. That matters a lot to some people. Are you so concerned with cutting costs that you must take away from consumers? Bad idea.
Not only do patrons appreciate deals; but, they’ll tell their friends about it too! Read the following case study done on special offers.
Those, native to Philadelphia, are no strangers to professional sports teams. Philly’s got a couple of great ones, the Flyers among them. In attempts to exorcise their playoff opponent, the ‘Flyguys’ were eliminated this year. True fans are disappointed but hardly turned off of the team, the brand, the Flyers.
It may not come as readily as looking at a name such as Ford or Folgers, but the Flyers are a brand, a business too. They have consumers, just like Ford and Folgers; except in the realm of sports ‘marketing,’ consumers are called ‘fans.’
It’s an interesting concept. Marketing exists for sports teams, yet the heavy lifting is done by the ‘service’ itself, the performance of players. For only one team per year in the NHL, does the service make due on its original promise, to ‘go all the way.’ All but one teams’ mass of fans is ultimately disappointed to some degree. But that’s okay. There’s always next year. The ‘fans’ are okay with that. They’re okay with the trying even though for most, it doesn’t end in triumph. That’s interesting.
Flyers fans are fans of the game. The ‘service’ is supplied by the players. The players have a pure love for what they do. The players played before there was an NHL or Flyers in their personal lives. Such purity is pretty easy to market. The players’ abilities speak idly, just as any business’ services or products should be able to stand alone.
What is your business’ level of purity? Is it comparable to that of natural-born players? I came across a quote earlier while working on today’s previous copywriting post:
“The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can’t help it.”
It’s tongue-in-cheek, yes, but true. I (literally) have a choice; yet, I kinda don’t; writing is me. It makes a lot of sense for me. It comes naturally. Such a true passion makes it easy for me to market myself as a writer. The writing (hopefully) ‘speaks’ for itself. A product/service should be able to do so. Such a dynamic is not putting the cart before the horse.
Marketing could never take the place of the ‘horse.’ You can’t market a ‘lame’ product or service; the marketing can’t create such inertia. Sure, a business can try; yet, such images (and such campaigns) elicit some chuckles, don’t they?
Of course, it’s horrible to see your team lose. But the players will train harder and get better; because, they have no choice. It’s what they (truly want to) do. Will it guarantee a Cup next year? The odds are against them and their faithful fans. So, why gravitate toward the business, the brand, the Flyers? We’ll keep watching as long as the players keep doing what they love, despite the road bumps and disappointments.
True passion inspires faithful followers. The passion represented in a resulting service/product is really marketable within itself. The marketing part only warrants the reception of the market. The marketing can’t ‘play the game’ for the players; it can only illuminate the passion which was always there.
Technology and the internet have driven wide growth and innovation around the world, but this has been most widely felt in developed countries where more people have been able to take advantage of these innovations and the opportunities they create. Now, looking ahead, many economists and business analysts are looking to emerging markets as the scenes of extraordinary growth in the next 10-20 years. As such, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) have shown the greatest immediate promise for emerging markets as they are the next to essentially come-of-age economically and have seen great deals of attention and investment as a result.
Now, the CIVETS countries (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa) are being slated as the next wave of emerging markets (after the BRIC) that will attract business, investment, and show tremendous growth. This newly anointed group presents unique opportunity for many reasons. First, the underlying characteristics of a CIVETS nations is a multifaceted economy and a young, expanding population, according to John Mulholland of the UK’s Guardian. Both of these characteristics support the growth of the internet and technology in these economies opening the door for businesses from different sectors but especially those in tech-related areas within e-commerce, SEO and internet marketing, mobile services, tech devices, and internet-based solutions.
CIVETS countries are expected to experience growth rates of 4.9% over the next two decades compared to the 1.8% expected in G7 countries, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. Stability, soundness of institutions, and the growth rate up to this point have all led to these expectations. As an example, Colombia’s GDP has doubled over the past 10 years.
Expansion for Businesses
Companies have the opportunity to make their mark on these economies early with competition lacking at the moment as outside investment and expansion into the market has yet to take hold. This point is brought forward by Christian Arno in a recent Search Engine Watch piece. The value in entering a market early that is set for very high growth should not be underestimated. From an exposure and branding perspective, to PR and marketing, there is simply tremendous potential to gain brand recognition and establish a loyal customer base early in the evolution of market.
Check back tomorrow, and I’ll get deeper into the tech and internet opportunities of the CIVETS countries and the how their younger population factors into their future.
Is timing ‘everything’? I’ve heard such suggestions before, feeling intimidated by the notion of minding yet another factor. Should I go to the grocery store because I’m hungry; and, because it’s dinnertime? Should I wait until the crowd subsides? Should I turn the Flyers game off now while they’re still ahead as not to get disappointed later? Should I approach the girl at the coffeehouse while she’s busy though waiting for the ‘perfect’ moment (which in my mind my never come) could be an error in logic?
Marketers must mind time, especially when it comes to content sharing. Not only do businesspeople have to consider where to share; they must ponder when the best time is to strike the social network chords. Timing definitely warrants premeditation; just don’t think into paralysis like a grown man in a coffee shop.
Consider the following suggestions related timing in marketing:
The “Work” “Day”
I’ll assume most brands share during the traditional workweek, within traditional ‘working’ hours. This seems immediately apropos; but, think about your target market, you know, the people you want reading your stuff.
For instance, WebiMax has a great writer, Ryan Buddenhagen, who writes on ISEO. Ryan has ushered some international looks to the blog. When are those readers ‘working,’ and roving social platforms? They’re on a different time zone. Would it be better for us to think about the best times to engage those international readers, perhaps ‘scheduling’ some ISEO tweets? It could be a benefit.
What about those who don’t use the ‘workday’ to read and engage in social media? I read and write all day, yet the process is conducive to my position and industry. That’s not the case with a lot of professionals. For instance, are you sharing your parenting tips in the middle of the day when parents may be at work, not reading parenting materials? Would such a brand be better off sharing content at night, when a larger pool of its market may be looking for it? It could be a benefit.
Do you want to work this weekend? Ha ha, you don’t have to answer. A lot of brands leverage third-party marketing services. That’s completely understood. Depending on the present state and momentum of a brand, in-house marketing resources just may not be an immediate reality. However, what if the brand offers services and products outside of the B2B sector? Many consumer products/services are warranted during ‘off’ hours, such as on the weekend, you know, when a large portion of target markets ‘have time’ to think about needed goods and services.
Is your brand making marketing motions on the weekend? I know. “But it’s the weekend!” Yes, but it’s not necessarily the weekend regarding your target market’s desires. Actually, the contrary is true in this instance. Why use social media when it’s not being leveraged during one of the ‘hottest’ moments, when consumers’ attentions are piqued?
Use Amigos Wisely
I loved the 80s; I apologize for the references; but, I can’t help it. Remember the comedy, The Three Amigos? It’s a gem of a cinematic piece. Three actors are asked to come to a small, Mexican town to defeat the wicked “El Guapo.” The actors are under the impression they were asked to come to perform, only to realize the wicked nature of El Guapo and clan is quite real. (Get to the point, Anthony.)
In the end, the Amigos defeated the rogue group by dressing villagers like the Amigos, by visually coming at the gang ‘from all sides.’ I like that kind of tactic when it comes to timing and sharing.
I see this dynamic a lot: A writer just gets done a post and boom, hits the publish button. The published post is noticed by internal people who immediately share it. Awesome, the post is in the social pipelines…for that hour or so, then dramatically drops in shares (unless the post makes it to some sort of sharing site: inbound, reddit, and the like).
Would it be more effective to elongate the publishing? Could the post be shared some when first published, then shared again later in the day or week? I’m not discussing content curation per se; I’m talking about the initial sharing of a piece of content. Some brands share as if they are trying to lighten the load of the brand’s ship, as if saying, “All right, we’ve got this one done.; let’s dump it into the social media sea and hope something happens from it.”
This has more to do with ‘who’ more than ‘when,’ but I want to include this; I think it’s something to consider. Identifying personas is a useful marketing tool. It makes sense; people vary; so, consumer behaviors will as well. Are brand workers segmented, meaning is there a social, copy, database team, etc? If so, maybe it’s important to think about ‘who’ is tweeting what content. For instance, I often share content about branding. I’ve built a following that expects that now. It would make sense for me to share that content rather than someone on the database team, who may have followers interested in different material.
Remember childhood soft-drink selections? There was Coke, Pepsi, 7-up, and possibly some Capri Sun if your mom was super cool. Today’s variety is broader. There are sports beverages, flavored water, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and more.
By volume sold, guess which drink manufacturer has the most impressive sales record in the US? It’s a Monster! Monster enjoys about 35% of the market (per the Beverage Digest). The vertical has come a long way from Coke, Pepsi, and RC Cola. Coke notices, looking to “bolt-on” acquisitions as voiced by Muhtar Kent, its chief exec.
Some thought Coke was giving Monster a look; but, Coke may have been frightened off by big, scary dollar signs. It’s interesting to follow how ‘the Market’ influences business maneuvers. There was discussion on the (Wall) streets that Coke was interested in Monster. Such gossip influenced Monster stock, raising its shares 20% on Monday. The 20% equaled $2 billion! That’s not exactly loose change.
Coke balked at the numbers, denying an incipient deal with Monster. The Wall Street seesaw tilted back; Monster’s shares ebbed in price. It’s understood Coke and Pepsi have noticed Monster for some time; Monster paraded itself around last year, looking for potential suitors; yet, Monster’s prices have gotten a lot of attention in the past year. Monster stock doubled in the last year, trading at 30 times higher than 2012 estimates.
Coke’s deal with Monster would be the former’s biggest in its history. Coke bought Vitaminwater in 2007 for $4.2 billion. Coke’s and Pepi’s plight is similar to that of other major brands, which must modify to stay relevant in modern times. The newspapers are doing it. The book publishers are doing it. Just about all businesses are trying to stay relevant in modern times. Energy drinks have been popular with Americans in recent years; naturally, Coke and Pepsi are going to take interest in that market. However, acquiring the most popular energy-drink supplier at the moment, Monster, is a monetarily imposing proposition.
The WSJ article traces the evolution of Coke; the brand’s been attempting to expand. Earlier in the year, Coke acquired a majority hold on Zico, a supplier of coconut water. Additionally, Coke has stake in the energy drink market already; Full Throttle and Fuze NOS brands are within the Coke stables; yet the energy drinks aren’t as popular as Red Bull or Monster.
If Coke does decide to takeover Monster, things will be looking pretty gruesome for Pepsi, a brand trailing Coke in the beverage market share for years. One raised glass is deserved of another. It will be interesting to see how the dynamic plays out. What would you do if you were Coke? Would you stay settled, hoping progression continues based on the brand’s history? Would you refresh the brand’s direction and arsenal, chasing Monster down? How about Pepsi? Would you see Monster as your opportunity to upend Coke?
This post will be about branding. Branding is good for online marketing. It expresses passion…which is very unlike my first few lines here. Did you find yourself doing ‘the robot’ as you were reading them? I do that sometimes on and off the dance floor. The latter occurs when reading generic posts. Who’s the author? Why can’t I extract a single, personable sentiment from these things? It’s a small wonder (80′s television reference) anyone but robots are reading these things.
I read an awesomely refreshing post this morning on ‘why I don’t read your blog.’ It’s real and insightful. One of the best points I gathered was not being a candidate for the crowned Mr. Roboto of blogging. I’m not the only writer who agrees:
@content_muse It is definitely important to let your personality shine through! Robotic blogging makes me want to cry tears of boredom.
However, I’m not writing this post on blogging. It’s about inserting the essence of communication (character) into your branding. Why? Same reason as above, businesspeople, partners, and all types of consumers enjoy personality. It helps us makes better decisions, better aligning us with likeable and like-minded brands.
Consider the following:
Having Personality is Not Unprofessional
I like hovering outside of the ‘uber professional’ box; maybe it’s a bit too stuffy in there for my personality. I have one. I’m okay with that; and, I believe other professionals are as well. Having fun with your job, smiling, and expressing personality does not make you unprofessional; it makes you an individual. If you need to keep your brand ‘in line,’ ‘hiding’ the personality of workers and collective beliefs, then something is off. What is your brand’s collective personality? If you can’t accurately identify that, then maybe your brand is a bit too stuffy. If bankers above the age of sixty-five is your market then proceed with minimalistic expression of personality (I guess). Otherwise, it’s okay to be your brand self.
Where’s Your Team?
It’s sad to come across a company site void of worker presence. Who’s onboard your company? I want to know. It just might influence my decision to engage your brand. If you’re not showing your main players, in these times of super social marketing, I just may grow suspicious, wondering, “Well, why not!?” Owners, are you sharing your workers and their work with the rest of us? Why not? You hired them; so, I assume you’re proud they’re working for you. Why hide them and their contributions? No really- I’m actually thinking that when I don’t see them.
Many online brands don’t have storefronts. Many brands don’t attend workshops and events. Many brands don’t have the chance of experiencing consumers three-dimensionally and vice versa. That’s a disadvantage for those with personality and passion. How do you compensate? While so much energy is devoted toward ‘ranking’ services/products so many brands pay no resources toward exposing browsers to their ‘brand.’ A brief about us page is not enough. When was that penned? Five years ago when the brand started? What’s happened since then? Update the about us page. Why not make it into a scrolling, blog-post-like page? Many products and services vary very little when it comes down to it. What’s your brand’s story? I really want to know; I have choices (like the rest of your consumers). Telling me more about the supplied source gives me more reasons to make a decision.
This is BS
Do you think this is BS? (If you’re thinking this is great business strategy, I agree; if you’re thinking of other terms, I hope you reconsider; I’m really trying to fertilize your success.) I predict some owners may read this, giving my words the ‘pfft-into-an-eye-roll’ sentiment. I understand; ‘Anthony’s just ranting about his favorite topic, branding; he’s passionate about wanting me to be passionate; but, I’ll just sit back and keep doing what I’m doing’…the bare minimum of branding. Here’s the thing. I notice. Others notice too. Just like the author of the ‘why I don’t read your blog’ post above is turned off by personality-less posts, people are turned off by personality-less brands, especially in verticals where face-to-face meetings are few to none. You may disagree with me know; but, entertain me; put forth some extra branding effort. I think you’ll thank me later.