At the dawn of the Internet, the focus by advertisers was on broad, mass appeal advertising. Brands were consumed with generic level keywords and dominating positions around these terms was the sole focus of many companies – and make no mistake, it worked well for those fortunate enough to dominate the search landscape. Over time, things have changed….Web users are savvier, they don’t want generic answers, they want specific answers. This scenario has created a world of opportunity for advertisers who can now more firmly focus on a niche rather than just a broad based objective.
A focus that I feel adds value to brands is understanding what their identity is and truly defining their demographic. By working to segment your target audiences and understanding how they engage with your product offering or service, smart marketers are able to offer different channels for prospects to enter and engage. For example, if you run a company that provides repair services to cell phones, you need to find customers who need this service. You break down the needs around different demographics and create funnels for the consumers to enter. I always feel semantics play a large part in driving the right targeted traffic. In many cases, we recommend setting up several different websites with very specific niche focuses to entice customers to engage.
The Internet is a large, ever growing playing field. The more real estate you have on the Web, the more chance you have of being found. The ability to focus in on a niche and dominate the niche while expanding that same process across to your other demographics will provide you with a campaign strategy that outpaces your competition.
One of the most difficult things to do is revive a dead brand, but I have to give Yahoo credit for doing everything they can to make it happen. I recall the days that Yahoo was the champion of the search space and “the” place to go for online news. They were the success story coming in and pulling away the market share from AOL in the early days of the online revolution. Somewhere along the way, Google came in and with little advertising or fanfare blew away Yahoo into an afterthought.
Yahoo went through some very lean times and made a bold move in bringing Google royalty, Marissa Mayer, on board to turn the company around. Yahoo also added the purchase of Tumblr to stay current and find a way to stay with the pack in regards to innovation. But, have any of these changes and innovations actually helped increase market share or, more importantly, boost interest in their advertising product? Not in my eyes.
Rankings and advertising on Yahoo are seen as a secondary channel compared to Google. Google continues to be the place for people to go to find things, and I always view Google advertising as having more “proactive” consumers…people who do searches with the intent of making a purchase. Yahoo’s belief is you come in for the news with Katie Couric and you stay for ads – but will it work? Likely not, but hats off to Yahoo for trying; with big salaries like Mayer and Couric and billion dollar purchases like Tumblr, the reality is Yahoo has likely positioned itself for a horrific and epic fall.
There will be a day someone will knock Google off its perch and gain the market share in the search space but that company won’t be Yahoo.
Will Yahoo! Adding Katie Couric revitalize their brand?
When brands are built up effectively over time and used purposefully, they can have a tremendous impact on the company and deliver considerable financial gain, supplementing the primary revenue generation from the sale of their actual products. Ford, one of the biggest and most recognizable name brands in the country and world, is a shining example of this. The Ford brand is worth billions and the company is a leader in the process of licensing out the various elements of the brand. Their activity provides lessons for other companies both large and small in how they can leverage the equity they have built in their brand for financial gain and valuable exposure.
Yes, Ford is enormous and many companies do not have the same name recognition (and everything that goes with it) or find themselves in such a position as Ford does. They built up to their current position over time, creating slogans such as “Built Ford Tough” and establishing the “tough, long-lasting, strong” identity that they have been promoting for years. With that said, other companies can strategically build their name in the same way to represent something, an idea, a feeling, an emotion – marketing, advertising, and branding 101.
According to a recent Forbes article, the company has 400 licenses at present and has granted roughly 18,000 product approvals during the past year, which is a sizeable increase from 3,000 from two years prior. 45 million pieces of merchandise that had the Ford brand were sold last year totaling $1.5 billion. This is a lot of money to say the least from an additional revenue stream.
What types of products does the brand show up in? Well the “Built Ford Tough” slogan was licensed to Forever 21, a young women’s clothing store for one, another is ford-branded Tervis Tumblers for Bed, Bath, & Beyond. But the big winners are those that replicate the products, the cars themselves. This is exemplified in licensing the sounds and look of the vehicles for video-games, like the 2013 Ford Focus ST for the Forza 4 game. Similarly, they have been traditionally doing this with toy versions of the cars and trucks, most popular being the remote-controlled vehicles. This makes a connection to the actual products they sell. Jim Farley, Ford’s global CMO, describes how interest from various “licensees” to use a company’s brand is one of the best ways to understand and measure the value and health of the brand.
Takeaway – Building the Brand
The lesson here is the value in investing in building the brand – making it a priority. For smaller companies this starts with beginning with creating a core message and making sure in all communications, the company details the name, what they do, and the core message/slogan/why they are different. From there, local companies can solidify themselves as the place for a certain product or the place to support a local area business.
Companies can lean on reputable marketing agencies and SEO companies in order strategically build the message between social platforms and have it stick with customers, the hardest part. Social media is perfect for this and several platforms can be leveraged alongside each other to support the campaign. Reach out to us via our contact page for more information on how this can be done on both the small and large scale.
Branding is sometimes hard to separate from advertising and marketing. Although it is all under the same umbrella of external communications, some differentiation can and should be made between them so you can strategically put them to work for your business. Branding deals most closely with the image of a company and how it is being portrayed to the audience and various publics the company has. There are three simple facets to branding that a company wants to make sure they concentrate on in all their messaging for branding goals: (a) name/who they are, (b) what they do/product category, (c) core message (tag line/motto) what separates them from the competition. These are elements that surely are integrated into other forms of communication that the company engages in, however, together they are the essentials in this process.
When a company is looking to brand themselves, they need exposure from off-site locations to push traffic to the site. Concentrating online for this is key and social media is truly essential here. Additionally, integrating in PR efforts establishing media placements is becoming increasingly important. First, let’s look at social media for this, although social media is an extension of the company’s website, it plays an integral role as each new account presents an opportunity to widen exposure. Companies using social media in coordinated marketing strategies or simply on their own accord can and should make an effort to concentrate on these elements in their branding:
- Authenticity – marketers need to prioritize transparency in their online writings for the company and across the various platforms. How the accounts of the company and its employees look and operate reflects back on their image and certainly branding. Things need to be what they appear on the platforms.
- Consistency – content and engagement needs to be kept up because strong companies engage and post regularly without long breaks. Significant breaks reflect stretched staffing, disorganization, and carelessness. The reality is that this can occur easily if the social posting is not made a priority and other activities take precedence, sometimes understandably so, but consistency suffers, and with it brand credibility.
- Quality – the value that marketers give in their posts and writings is also paramount. This has always been the case, but when you are using social media for branding, you need to make sure that every post the company is tied to is compelling and of a high quality.
Further, as Google’s “Search, Plus Your Word” feature, social information will be of increased importance from here on out as the information that companies put on their social accounts will get greater exposure in the results pages of Google.
This operates much in the same way with PR efforts. If company executives and experts have unique insight into the industry and can provide in-demand commentary drawing from their years of experience, then they can be pitched to the media to discuss various tips or perspectives of developments in the industry. This adds credibility to the individuals themselves and the company as a whole.
For more information on branding, check back on our blog as it is a subject we touch on quite often, or reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen(at)webimax.com and @ryanwbudd.
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.
Warning: the following post contains sarcasm and irony. Please proceed in the appropriate fashion…
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Most of us did as expected: we bought flowers, called people, and spent time in places we may not have ideally wanted to be. I understand. You did as expected. Where’s the creativity in that! Oh, where’s the irony?
It’s okay! The discomfort is over; now, you can use those karma points from yesterday and compensate today by neglecting people online as normal. Some of you don’t know how!? Wow! I can show you! I spend a lot of time online…observing…sometimes, I even help people! I know. Let’s get back to the neglect! I know online marketing is a notion, which brings people closer to desired products/services; yet, stop listening to all the ‘experts,’ and keep neglecting people. The irony of it all is so genius and entertaining to observe!
Let’s better understand how to neglect people, shall we?
‘They rock in the treetop all day long..’ I ‘rock’ Twitter on ‘the regular.’ A lot of people do. One-way tweeting is an oft-observed tactic. Good job, social media partakers; you’re getting it! Rather than engage people on Twitter, make them feel and look stupid by neglecting to respond to them. It’s not like they are giving you an opportunity to better brand yourself and your associated companies. They’re probably just losers who need attention. Who needs them?!
Rather than be a helpful hooter, be a neglectful robin; don’t respond to followers, you know the people who thought enough of you to follow and ask you a question? People aren’t equal; never forget that. If you’re better than them, they don’t deserve your Twitter attention.
When I’m not perusing Twitter neglect, I read blogs. It’s a great way to learn; sometimes I foolishly use what I learn to help others with their questions; but, I digress… Sometimes, I’ll read a blog…entirely…I know; it’s crazy I would respect the author enough to finish their post…LOL! On occasion I’ll see someone like Dan Shure diligently address peoples’ questions and comments; yet, Dan knows how to treat people well; this is about neglect; let’s forget him.
Alternatively, I’ll see people asking questions (sometimes really good ones!) in a post’s comment section; and, it goes completely unanswered or seemingly unobserved by the author. That’s how you express appreciation for their read; you completely shun their accolades, presence on your post, and questions! Awesome display of online marketing skills! And I was worried people needed me to write how-to’s; many people already have this ‘people thing’ figured!
Why answer their question? You might turn out to look like a thought leader. You may gain a steady follower. You may gain someone’s respect. You even may gain a consumer or an advocate of your brand. Show me where I ever said those are good things!
Do you know what’s sillier than giving a brand the appropriate recognition for a shared piece of content? Making the author of the content feel appreciated and recognized! Why would you give the author ‘a shout’ in your hyperlink or share? It’s not like they deserve any credit! Some people are a bit nice and attribute a link or share to the brand rather than the author. We see it all the time with newspaper articles. Why credit an unknown author when your link or share can say ‘New York Times’? Some people won’t even credit a source in entirety? Nice job of neglect!
Let’s consider what would happen if we accredited an author. They might take a gander at the source of a link. They may share your content because you took the time to diligently share their content and credit them. You may make a ‘connection’ with them through your career. They may help you in some way, shape, or form. Why the heck would you bother with them? Forget them. Neglect them. That’s how I want to see you do online marketing! Keep up the great respect of neglect!