Branding: Standing Out The Wrong Way

Building a brand is necessary and foundational to stand out in today’s noisy advertising landscape, and it’s especially challenging in some industries such as real estate,  with a very crowded marketplace where everyone uses the exact same marketing tactics, and their advertisements  look pretty much the same, to the point that you could just swap head shots and contact information and everything else is so generic that applies to all.  As we tell our realtor clients, they need to find ways to differentiate and be memorable, and stay top of mind. But when I first came across this ad I thought, well, this guy certainly accomplished to be memorable and differentiate…but in a very wrong way!

Having a rather unusual name he decided to craft a message around it…with a masturbation spin… So he came up with this ad that’s so outrageous that it was featured in Adweek at the time, in their “Adfreak” section.  It turns out he was fired from the realty company shortly after because of the ad, not surprisingly.

It is an old story but it makes such a great example of branding creativity gone wrong, that I could not resist sharing it, especially dedicated to my realtor friends!

realtor marketing

So remember, if you are looking for ways  to stand out in this crowded marketplace, talk to a professional!

You can find the original story here.

What do you think?

The Power of Color in Advertising

The influence of color on human behavior has fascinated many since ancient times, with the first studies about it being attributed to the early egyptians.

The fact is that a lot of information out there on the topic consists of anecdotal evidence more than scientific facts, because personal preferences, upbringing, cultural differences, context,  etc., play a major role on what colors mean to each of us.

However, although the influence of color can be different for each of us, formal studies show broad patterns of how color is perceived, and how it plays an important role in branding, as well as influencing purchasing intent, mostly associated with the “appropriateness” of the use of color, in other words, whether a color fits a brand’s industry or personality in the eyes of the consumer.

In order to help you pick the right colors for your brand and advertisements, our creatives have designed this infographic that summarizes the effect of the 9 major colors on marketing, as well a few major brands who use them.

Color in Advertising3

If you like it feel free to share it!

6 Signs You Need a New Website

We live in an increasingly digital world these days having instant access to information on anything. We expect to find what we’re looking for in a snap, your prospects included. If your website is not quite as functional as your competitor’s, you are at a disadvantage, and you need to pay attention to this. You might not need to replace your current site with a whole new one, but just make some changes to improve it’s functionality, or update the content to make it more functional and get your visitors to take action. But it might be time for a new website all together.

If you have been considering getting a new website developed, but are not quite sure if you really need to make the investment, here are some facts that will help you determine if it’s necessary.

1. You are embarrassed by your website
You know your website doesn’t look great and it doesn’t represent your business the way you want to. Or the information on it is totally outdated. Or you built it yourself and you could never get it to work properly. If this is the case it’s time for a website that will do it’s job.

2. Your website is built entirely with flash or other animation software
It might even have sound effects…These type of sites were state-of-the-art several years ago and came with a high price tag, but they are all show, an outdated one rather, they have no content and hardly rank at all. They also don’t work when accessed though a phone and some times even a tablet. You definitely need a new website if yours is one of these.

3. You built it yourself using a free website builder template
There are a lot of options out there when it comes to free sites that look pretty nice. The drawback is that they show the website’s company logo and they advertise the fact that it’s a free website in order to drive new users for them. This is totally counter-productive, once you manage to get a visitor on your website the last thing you want is for them to be distracted by other companies advertisements. Your website’s job is to promote your business, not someone else’s business.

4. Your website doesn’t work properly
If your site is very slow to load taking more than 3 seconds your visitors will leave, as studies show. Or if you had third party tools installed when it was first built that don’t work anymore, such as a search function or a shopping cart. Or if the navigation is confusing, or there are pages that are not properly linked. These type of issues cause the website to not be functional for visitors who will just leave your site.

5. Your website doesn’t adapt to mobile screens
The amount of people who search for a business from their phone is growing exponentially. Recent studies show that more than 17% of all web traffic comes form mobile devices, and 88% of consumers that search for a type of business on their phone call or visit that business within 24 hours. In addition to that, google search on mobile shows sites that are responsive above those that are not. So not having a responsive site is enough of a reason for redoing your website, especially if you are a local type of business.

6. Your competitors’ sites are a whole lot better
Most people will make a judgement on your business credibility based on your website, in fact a recent study at Stanford University showed that 75% of users admitted to making a judgement on a business credibility based on their website. If compared to yours, your competitor’s site looks brighter, loads faster, is better organized, and provides clear information about products and services, prospective customers will leave your site, if they actually find it, and end up doing business with them. And you might even be better than them but your site doesn’t communicate it.

Your website is your single most important marketing piece, and there is not getting around this. If your site has even just one of these issues is time for a new one if you want to stay in the game. Your website development isn’t a task to take lightly. It not only requires expertise in function and design to build it, but also how to approach your target market and what kind of information needs to be in it to get them to choose to do business with you. Getting a new website requires a great deal of thought, time and even money but this doesn’t necessarily mean braking the bank, since you’ll get your investment back many times over.

If you need help in deciding what kind of website will work best for your business and your budget we can help. Contact us and get started on getting your website to do it’s sales job.

Handling negative reviews

When a customer leaves a negative review it gives you the golden opportunity to make  corrections and improvements to your services, especially if you have employees that face the public and you might not really know how they handle themselves.

Every business owner wants nothing but good things to be said about their business and that only happens if customers are happy with their services. If your are committed being the best, knowing what your customers really think of your service and what matters to them is very valuable.

However, when it comes to negative reviews,  not every business owner takes negative critique well, and instead of making corrections to improve their service, or attempt to make it right to the customer, some make it a lot worse.

We found these examples of business owners extreme way to handle the situation:

 

Restaurant owner tracks down to harasses reviewer

A group of friends go eat at an asian food New York restaurant and one of them leaves a one star review on Yelp, with a detailed explanation of why he wasn’t satisfied. The owner was able to track him down through Facebook and started sending a series of really nasty, even threatening messages. This turned out to be a costly decision, all his messages quickly spread in social media, and a group started a Facebook page promoting the banning of the restaurant! This guy eventually apologized but the damage to his reputation was already done.

 

British couple gets fined  £100 for posting a negative review

This british hotel was getting poorly rated consistently with complaints about their state of disrepair. In order to prevent bad reviews, instead of making any corrections, they decided to fine those who didn’t like the hotel and rated them, and started warning customers of their policy in their booking document that reads  “…For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review.”

A british couple who didn’t read the small print and left a one start review on Trip Advisor, found this out when they got the extra £100 charge on their credit card.
Beverly Hills Dentist Sues Over Bad Yelp Review

A woman had cosmetic dental work done which left her with bigger teeth than everybody to a point that she couldn’t close her mouth. After two years of no resolution, her then husband wrote a pretty bad review of the dentist, calling him a butcher and a crook. The dentist sued the couple in turn, claiming it was another dentist, not him.  I don’t know how that will end, but probably not well for neither of them…

 

What to do instead

If you are one of those who takes it personally and get’s offended, take a deep breath and go for a walk. Accept that this comes with the territory.  If you want to be known for the great service you provide, then be open to feedback that will ensure you are on top of your customer service game from your customers perspective, which is the only one that counts. Welcome negative feedback and take it as an opportunity to quickly address any issues, and more importantly, as an opportunity for dialogue with your customers to show them you care about their satisfaction. It is as simple as responding to the comment promising to address the issue and make things right for them. Keep in mind, those searching for reviews will also see hoe you handled it.

How do you handle reviews? Do you have a systematic way of collecting them? Do you check regularly what’s being said? Whatever you do don’t be those guys…

Sources: Mashable, ABC news, UpRoxx

3 social media lessons for small business from “Alex from Target”

“Alex from Target” is a good looking teenager with a typical job at Target, who became famous in a matter of hours, when a teenage customer took a photo of him to send to a friend, while he was minding his own business. The photo, somehow, went super viral and hundreds of thousands of twitter users began following Alex’s personal twitter,  with “#AlexFromTarget” becoming the top trend. He even got celebrity talk show host Ellen DeGeneres attention, who invited him to be on her show. Target quickly jumped in the conversation, twitting “we heart Alex too”, and even though this was all about this teenage boy, it got it’s brand tied-in as a top trend in twitter, in a positive way, without planning to at all and at no cost.

I realize that it might seem just about impossible that your small business could get such attention overnight, but then again, I’m sure so did Alex, mush less, that he would be on national TV. I’m not saying it’s easy for this to happen, and I believe his fame will pass quickly, but as many small businesses don’t pay attention to their social media potential, I want to point 3 social media lessons for small businesses to be learned from this.

• Don’t ignore social media. There is a party going on and you are in it, like it or not. The fact that you might be ignoring it doesn’t mean they are not talking about you. So you might as well be part of the conversation in real time and give your business a voice.

• You have no control of who posts what about you or your business, so you’d better be paying attention to what’s being said, especially while in your business. Keep in mind it might not be a cool meme but a negative review left by an unhappy customer, for the whole world to see, and you need to jump in and make things right.

• Make sure you account for mobile in your marketing. Take advantage of the fact that people keep their phones at arm’s length these days and will snap a quick photo of their experience with your business as a spur of then moment thing, so reward them for posting a positive comment before leaving your store.

If you don’t have a grasp on social media as part of your marketing we can help. We can set you up and train your staff, or do it for you, so get started now.

The Risks of Ignoring Your Branding

Having worked over the years with many small and medium sized business owners, I have noticed that most of them tend not to pay much attention to their branding, and think branding is for the bigger guys. However, whether you think about it or you don’t, your brand is always on display.  You are represented in the marketplace by your logo, your business cards, slogans, signs, the emails you send, your website, the polo shirts your staff wears, the promotional pens that are floating around, and the list goes on and on.

Why It Matters
First and foremost, when a consumer is considering your products and services your brand is being compared to your competitors. When you don’t pay attention to your brand this is exactly how it comes across: as if you don’t care to make a good impression. If your business cards look too cheap, and have different colors from your vehicle signs, and then your website has a totally different logo, or has little information, your business will not be represented in a professional way, and sadly, people will carry this perception over to the products or services you offer, even though you might be the best in town.

Developing your brand identity is the place to start when looking to grow your business. Having a consistent message, logo, colors, and professional looking design will help establish a cohesive business identity in the marketplace, setting you apart from your competition.  There are 2 components to a brand: the marketing message, and the visual identity.

Marketing Message
Branding is not just a logo and colors, in fact, the first step towards creating your brand is developing your marketing message. This is fundamental to clearly communicate what you do, and who you help. An effective marketing message connects with your target audience, and makes them feel that you are the best choice above your competitors. Your marketing message should include a longer “sales sheet” version, a summary version, a short elevator pitch version, and concise tag lines.

It should be used in every piece of marketing material that comes out of your business, and everyone in your organization should know it well, so they explain what your business does in the same way.

Visual identity
Your logo, your company colors, the typography you use, and the look and feel of your brand constitute your visual identity. A skilled designer will translate your business personality, what you do, and how you want to be perceived into a professional graphic representation that will appeal to your target audience. Having it done professionally means you receive a comprehensive Brand Identity Package that includes original files of your logo that meet industry standards formats, include several layouts, as well as guidelines specifying your colors, fonts, style parameters, and other pertinent graphics information, regarding how the logo is to be used. The purpose of this is that your staff can use the proper logo in the correct way when creating documents, and also supply vendors such as printers, web designers, screen printers, and embroiderers, with the proper logo files to ensure the best logo reproduction and consistency across all your materials.

The Point
Every time a consumer is exposed to your company, there is an opportunity for a positive connection. Developing your brand is one of those simple, yet high pay-off things you can do to grow your business, that can help you quickly establish a presence in the marketplace.  This is an aspect of your business where it pays to hire a professional, it will help build your brand much faster, and improve your positioning. You will be perceived as a professional which is very important, keep in mind that, in business perception is reality.

If you want to have an evaluation of the state of your branding take advantage of our free marketing critique. We can help you stand out and grow your business.