Postseason baseball is in full swing. After six months and 162 games, only a handful of teams have earned a chance at becoming World Series champions. Putting together a championship-quality roster is no easy task. Tryouts, trades, drafts, and injuries all play a part in the process. Teams must find the right mix of players who can bat, pitch, and field. Just as importantly, though, they must consider team chemistry, too. Is everyone playing together? Are internal rivalries or personality clashes going to get in the way of a cohesive unit? Can those clashes be overcome for the sake of success? In the end, it often takes experience to get it just right.
What businesses can learn from baseball When you set out to select members for your own professional team — your business — you must give it as much thought as a baseball coach and general manager. Sure, you should carefully review resumes and interview candidates, but in doing so, try to avoid the temptation to simply fill a role, rather than building a team. When you fail to evaluate a candidate for their ability to fit in with your company culture and ascribe to your company mission, it’s easy to lose your internal values. This can in turn damage employee morale and employee loyalty. When everyone is concerned with just completing a job, rather than working together as a team, people don’t feel as connected to their workplace.
Why this is dangerous According to Bain & Company, it’s 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one. Building a successful business should be focused around delighting your customers, giving them reasons to return, and encouraging them to recommend you to others. Your employees are the ones who interact with these customers every day. They’re the face of the company. When you don’t take the time to develop a strong company culture that encourages employee satisfaction and a positive work environment, you end up putting up a huge roadblock for customer satisfaction.
Choosing your team Work with your current team to develop lists of values and priorities that keep your workplace cohesive and productive. When you’re ready to make a new hire, carefully consider how the person will fit in with the rest of the organization. This will include asking them questions that relate to these specific values. Consider having candidates speak with multiple people at the company or try performing some of the basic tasks they would do if they were hired. The better you can choose your employees, the better you’ll be at building an organization that works as a team and serves your customers with a united front. Have faith and trust in your organization, empowering your employees and making it an overall fantastic place to work and grow. While many organizations realize their customer service will have an enormous impact on their success, they don’t realize that something as intrinsic as their hiring practices can have such a big impact. Give your company a leg up and complement your marketing efforts with a superior, service-oriented company. Get started by making sure each hire you make will be a great fit for your team. You may be surprised how much it pays off.
Do You Know Who You’re Talking To?
When you sit down to develop marketing materials, you know you’re trying to reach potential customers. If you’re unclear who that might be, however, you could find yourself wasting time, energy, and money. Taking the time to develop your official ‘buyer persona’ can make the task of figuring out how to reach these potential customers significantly easier.
What is a buyer persona? A buyer persona is basically your ideal customer. It’s a profile you develop based on the type of customer you’re trying to attract. This profile includes information about gender, lifestyle, income level, where your ideal customers work, and what jobs they perform. It also contains critical information about what types of problems they face at work and how your company can solve them. A buyer persona might look something like this: Marketing Mike is working to lead his marketing team for his small business. He’s in his late 20s or early 30s and makes about $80,000 a year. Mike is struggling to make his superiors realize the importance of marketing because they’re threatening budget cuts to his department. For a company that focuses on helping clients maximize their marketing efforts while minimizing costs, this buyer persona could provide the critical insight they need to reach Mike and help solve his problem.
How do you develop your buyer personas? Buyer personas provide the basis for all your marketing efforts, so it’s critical to develop them on solid evidence and not just who you ‘think’ would be interested in your product or service. Begin by speaking with your existing customers. Get a feel for who they are and what has brought them to you. Complement this information with some research about the industry, the market, and who is typically using services like those you provide. As you begin to compile these different sources of information, you should start to see some patterns develop. Use these patterns to begin grouping customers into a few different buyer personas. It’s critical that you always seek to learn the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ as you do your research. It’s not enough to know that Marketing Mike wants to find a more affordable way to market. Understanding the motivation behind his drive is what will help you effectively reach him.
How to use your buyer personas Once you’ve established your buyer personas, they’ll run your marketing campaign. You’ll develop content that speaks to the questions and problems your personas are facing. You’ll create promotions and attention-grabbers oriented toward these specific people. Buyer personas give you the additional edge of a targeted approach. No company can be everything for everyone. By developing buyer personas, you’ll know exactly who you’re trying to reach. You’ll have a clear goal and a much better chance of reaching the people who are most likely to buy from you. A successful marketing campaign means reaching your potential customers and making your company’s value to them clear. That task becomes much easier when you know exactly who you’re talking to. Develop your buyer personas to refine your marketing strategy, and you’ll find your chances for a successful campaign improve drastically. If you’re ready to start refining your marketing strategy, contact us today at Full Court Press 207-464-0002 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baseball has been an important part of our cultural fabric for more than a century. It makes sense, therefore, that baseball has many lessons it can teach us about managing a business. One of those lessons has to do with managing reputations.
Over the years, baseball has survived scandals and strikes that could have easily crippled it: the 1919 Chicago White Sox throwing the World Series; the strike-shortened 1994 season, when there was no World Series at all; the steroid scandals of more recent times. While the sport hasn’t escaped completely unscathed, it does remain a popular pastime for many who enjoy playing and watching it throughout the summer and fall.
Fortunately, most of us will never have to deal with issues as powerful as those that have hit baseball throughout its history. Even so, managing a company reputation in the digital area can be a very tough responsibility.
Customers can spread information, positive and negative, about your company instantaneously. While it might seem tempting to just bury your head in the sand and hope such criticism goes away, you can’t afford to just ignore what is said about you online. Fortunately, the lessons from baseball tell us that people generally tend to overlook occasional slip-ups or poor experiences if the overall impression of the company is one of value.
The primary step in relationship management should always be to offer customers outstanding value and products. Here are three additional steps you can take to build and maintain an overall positive reputation.
Become an important part of the local community.
Get in front of customers by sponsoring youth sports teams, having a table or booth at local fairs, or sponsoring charity sporting events. Show customers you care, and give them the chance to interact personally with employees to begin building relationships.
Listen to customers online and in market research, and address complaints sincerely and quickly.
This might mean offering to replace defective products, providing coupons or discounts after a poor customer service experience, and issuing refunds when necessary. That might sound like an expensive proposition, but earning a poor reputation online will cost you far more.
Pay close and careful attention to the experience of your customers.
Make it easy for customers to contact you and easy to find resolution to their problems when they do. Too often, customers get passed from person to person or find themselves dealing with frustrating automated systems that are little to no help. Customers want to know they’re more than just an order number. Show them you care about their experience far after the sale.
Just as baseball has discovered over its long and storied history, managing a reputation can be a difficult proposition. But doing so is essential to the continued growth and viability of any organization. Reputation affects marketing success and whether or not people are interested in what you have to sell.
Fortunately, reputation is not always cut and dried. People are often willing to overlook particular problems in favor of value and an overall positive experience. Following the above advice should make it easy for your company to do just that.
Shakespeare was a master playwright who continues to entertain audiences centuries after his death. His mastery of the written word has been admired by people throughout the generations and around the world. While he may have never imagined anything like the Internet or modern marketing, there are still a number of lessons Shakespeare can teach us as we set out to master our own marketing techniques.
Becoming a master of words
Words are a major part of any marketing campaign. We all use words to reach our customers, to develop content that will interest them, and to explain why our products and services are superior. Shakespeare teaches us about the power words can have when they’re carefully thought out and used appropriately. People still enjoy reading and watching his plays hundreds of years after they were first performed. That’s because Shakespeare was a master at putting words together so they communicated the point to the audience and engaged them in the content.
Creating plots people can relate to and want to read
Shakespeare wrote for an audience that lived hundreds of years ago. Their life experiences were vastly different than our own. Yet, somehow Shakespeare’s writing appeals to us as much as it appealed to the people of his day. That’s because Shakespeare developed plots that people could relate to on the most intimate levels. His writings involved timeless themes, such as love and jealousy, which are still alive today. Shakespeare completely understood his audience and was able to use the difficulties people face to attract audiences, engage them, and convince them that he sympathized. By building this relationship with the audience, Shakespeare was able to build a loyal following to his brand.
We, too, must answer these same challenge from our own audiences (customers) today. Consumers want to know that companies understand and address their struggles. This helps to build the critical relationship that leads to customer loyalty and improved brand awareness.
Using multiple resources to develop content
No one develops their content in a vacuum. It’s estimated that of Shakespeare’s many plays, only a couple were actually completely original and developed by Shakespeare himself. This means he was frequently drawing inspiration and ideas from other sources of content. He would use these sources of inspiration to help get his own creative juices flowing. He would develop and embellish on the plots, characters, and themes until the works were completely his own, but still had parts that were drawn from other classics.
As content creators and marketers, we must also be willing to draw upon the experience and expertise of others. The marketing world continues to change, and we must all stay on top of the new methods if we want to remain competitive.
Looking at the successful work of others to draw inspiration can offer help with building our own content, too. As we read and see what others do in their marketing campaigns, we gain a better understanding of what we want to write and discuss with potential customers. Content development has become an increasingly important part of marketing. Listening and reading what others have to say can help any marketer start to develop their own voice, the same way Shakespeare found inspiration for his writing.
When you set out to develop your marketing campaign, you’ll likely spend a considerable amount of time reading modern marketing experts and trying to incorporate their wisdom into your own campaign. While these modern marketers will certainly impart a lot of wisdom, don’t discount what the wordsmiths of the past, like Shakespeare, can teach you as well. If you’re ready to jumpstart your marketing campaign, give us a call today at 464-0002 or e-mail me at email@example.com
Does Your Advertising Work Together?
At first glance, the various platforms used for delivering your marketing messages couldn’t look more different. From social media to bus ads to print or radio ads, each platform has a completely different feel and intended audience. Regardless of the differences, however, it’s critical that your campaigns maintain some key consistencies across every medium.
What’s the purpose of an integrated campaign and what does it look like?
An integrated campaign works to build an audience no matter where the advertisements are seen. The campaign is designed with a common message that’s then tweaked and sent out over a variety of platforms in an effort to attract the attention of customers wherever they’re found.
Integrated campaigns send customers toward a common sales funnel. This means that the social media and direct mail components will both point customers in a common direction (promoting an upcoming sale, for example).
Design consistency is also a must, so customers recognize your brand wherever they may see it. Customers see thousands of advertisements a day. It’s important that they make a quick connection between your ads and your brand, so your brand can become more memorable to them. To accomplish this, use similar colors and designs on bus ads, social media ads, and print ads. This consistency will help you stay in front of your intended audience while simultaneously making it easier for potential customers to interact with you.
So how can you start making more integrated campaigns?
Begin by identifying exactly who you’re targeting and where those people can be found. Develop a common, unifying message, then tailor it to each major platform you intend to include in your campaign. That way, no matter where the customer encounters your brand, they’ll have no trouble entering the sales funnel. This might mean using QR codes in print advertising and prominent, well-labeled links on websites.
One of the biggest challenges many companies run into is maintaining consistency across multiple teams. For example, you might have one team that specializes in print and radio ads, while another group focuses on social media and website advertising. Make sure all your marketing teams understand the common vision and can successfully work together to achieve a collective goal.
As your campaign gets underway, track each portion, so you can successfully gauge where new customers are coming from. This will provide key insights into how well each portion of the campaign is doing and let you know if certain aspects need to be modified or even abandoned altogether.
An integrated marketing campaign is crucial for growing a company and finding new customers in the modern market. Rather than thinking about your various platforms as separate entities, integrating them can lead to higher brand recognition and conversion rates. Keep this in mind and prepare to reach your customers on a much deeper level.
If you’re ready to get started building an integrated campaign, give Full Court Press a call at 464-0002 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help you move forward.
Taking an X-Ray of your Business
From the time the x-ray was invented around the turn of the 20th century, people have been fascinated by the capacity of these rays to capture what lies beneath the skin. When the technology is used by doctors, it can help determine if bones are broken, detect disorders or illnesses, or see how well a broken bone is healing.
As business leaders, we must sometimes look at our own businesses with x-ray eyes: uncovering and treating problems beneath the surface before they get out of hand or cause permanent damage.
Few businesses run perfectly. As any company grows, it will experience bumps, bruises, and hiccups along the way. Part of running the business involves being able to lead the company through these times, so you can come out the other side stronger and better prepared for the future. Many times, this involves easy fixes. Perhaps a new employee is needed to handle greater demand or a policy might need to be tweaked to adapt to an evolving workflow.
Sometimes, however, problems are not so easy to fix. Take, for example, customer service. We’ve all experienced times (as customers) when we’ve felt like we’re being passed around from person to person, trying to find a simple answer to our question. By the time we get our answer, we’re so frustrated with the process that we end up completely annoyed with the company. This damages the company reputation and may even cause us to stop doing business with them.
As a business leader, you need to realize that these kinds of deep, penetrating problems cannot be fixed with simple, one-size-fits-all solutions. Sometimes, you need to look deeper and see where the ‘bone’ is broken — and how badly — before you can begin to treat the symptoms and heal your company. Only after you have a clearer picture of what’s really going on can you find the right way to fix the problem and make your company stronger for the long run.
Making the repair
If your company is facing a major problem that can’t be fixed easily, don’t be afraid to go back and start over in finding the solution. While it can certainly be intimidating to think about how long the process will take and how much potential revenue you might lose along the way, it’s important to remember that taking the time to complete these repairs properly will make your company stronger over the long haul. This, in turn, will help to boost revenue and make up for lost time. Companies that neglect to make difficult but necessary changes often find themselves losing money (and customers).
So how can you go about fixing tough problems? Start with these steps.1.
1. Sit down and plan out exactly what your end goal will be. Providing higher-quality customer service is one possible example.
2. Work backwards to generate ideas about how this goal can be reached. This will typically involve doing industry research and learning more about what the competition does to accomplish a similar aim.
3. Educate and retrain all members of the organization about the new methods and procedures, so everyone is on the same page, even those who aren’t directly involved with the affected areas.
4.Invite feedback from customers and employees to see how well the changes are working.
Growing a business sometimes means being willing to go back to the drawing board to see how a key part of the business can be changed and repaired to make it stronger in the future. Don’t be afraid to ‘x-ray’ your business and find ways to help it grow in the years to come.
Imagine walking into a farmers’ market. Like many other visitors making their way through the stalls, you’ve become increasingly concerned about where your food comes from and the techniques used to grow it. The farmers’ market offers you a distinct advantage because here you can actually speak with the people who grew or raised the food you’re looking to buy. You can ask them questions.
You approach the first stall. The farmer offers a variety of foods — fruits, vegetables, and even a bit of meat and cheese. You try to ask some questions about what pesticides were used when the plants were growing, what the animals ate, and whether or not the chickens were allowed to roam. The farmer seems annoyed by your questions. He gives you gruff, brief answers that don’t really address your concerns but seem focused instead on getting you to make a purchase or move along.
The next stall is similar, except you note that the prices are about 10%-20% higher. Still, you reach out to the farmer behind the counter and start asking questions. What a difference! The farmer comes out from behind the counter and tells you all about the methods he uses to grow and raise his different livestock and crops. He explains what safeguards he has in place to protect the consumer’s health and the experience he has in the field.
The time comes for you to make a purchase. Who are you more likely to buy from? Is it the farmer who just pushed you to buy or the farmer you’ve begun to trust because of his helpfulness, even if he does charge a few cents more? For most people, the answer is going to be the second. When people form bonds with merchants and begin to feel as though they can trust them, they become increasingly likely to buy from those vendors. This same concept should be incorporated into all your marketing campaigns.
Helping to build a relationship of trust
Becoming a source of answers and an authority in the industry for potential customers is a critical part of building this relationship. This often involves building plenty of valuable content online that customers can turn to when they have questions. Content that adds value helps customers begin to trust a company, their products, and their knowledge of the industry. When a single company has the answers a customer is looking for time and time again, there’s little question who they’ll turn to when they’re ready to make a purchase.
One way to build this kind of relationship is by working to become a regular community figure. Look for events or people you can sponsor to help get your company name in front of potential customers on a regular basis. Being available in person to answer questions for potential customers is one of the best types of marketing.
You should similarly take advantage of networking opportunities and work to establish friendships with many other professionals. As you nurture these relationships, remember that you’re building for the future, too. Even if you don’t get any immediate sales from a contact, they’ll be far more inclined to turn to you in the future if they know you’re someone they can trust.
Taking the time to build relationships with potential customers — by answering their questions, providing them with quality content, and even forming friendships — is a wonderfully easy way to grow your business. People naturally turn to the people they trust in business, so follow the same rules as the helpful farmer in the farmers’ market, and begin to improve your own marketing techniques. For help with your marketing and printing projects call us today at Full Court Press. 207-464-0002.
A printed marketing piece — whether a brochure, flyer, catalog, or letter — contains many design components. From margin size to font, use of white space to size and type of paper, the elements that go into a printed piece require much consideration. But when it comes to color, marketers all too often make choices based on personal preference, anecdotal evidence, or even hunches.
However, people actually devote time and effort to studying this stuff; researchers have uncovered a large body of quantitative data about the many ways color affects consumer behavior. Their findings can help inform color choices, so printed projects can better reach their intended audiences.
How Important is Color in Marketing?
In a nutshell: Very. A study by the Seoul International Color Expo found that almost 93 percent of consumers said visual experience is the most important factor when it comes to purchasing. Of these, almost 85 percent listed color as the major factor. Even more impressive, a report from the Institute for Color Research notes that most consumers make a judgement about a product within 90 seconds of first seeing it and that color accounts for 62 to 90 percent of their initial impression.
Color is also key in branding; a University of Maryland study found that using a consistent color palette increased brand recognition by a whopping 80 percent! Why? It’s all about brain chemistry; our neurocircuitry is hard-wired to respond to color. Multiple studies indicate that color significantly improves mental processing, storage, and memory. And if you’re still not convinced, consider that colorful ads are read 42 percent more often than black-and-white ads. Readers also tend to spend more than twice as long lingering on a colorful ad than on a black-and-white ad.
These numbers aren’t exactly ambiguous — color matters (a lot!) when it comes to marketing. But which colors are best?
Color Choice for Intended Results
While each individual reacts to colors in their own way, research indicates there are some common themes associated with colors. In fact, certain colors actually trigger biological responses, some of which improve attention and evoke emotions.
Red: Studies indicate that consumers tend to associate red with attention, vigilance, excitement, stimulation, and enhanced concentration. When products are featured on a red background, readers tend to have more positive thoughts about the product if specific descriptors are used, rather than creative or evocative language.
Blue: In contrast, readers preferred emotive, creative descriptions for products featured on a blue background. The cool color blue tends to elicit feelings of calm, safety, and openness, which can open the door to creative expression and exploration.
Yellow and Orange: Like red, these warm colors evoke feelings of excitement and attention. Orange tends to be associated with extroversion and energy, while yellow is often seen as optimistic and friendly.
Green and Brown: Both green and brown are associated with nature, making these colors effective for outdoorsy, rugged, or natural products or campaigns. In addition, green is associated with security, while brown is linked to seriousness.
Pink and Purple: Pink and purple both evoke associations with femininity and sophistication. Purple also connotes luxury and authenticity.
Black: For the ultimate in elegance and sophistication, nothing beats black. Glamor, power, dignity, and high-fashion are all evoked by the use of black.
White: As the absence — or complete reflection — of all colors, white evokes feelings of purity, simplicity, and cleanliness. It’s also associated with happiness and peace.
When choosing colors or combinations for your print ads, keep these associations in mind. Select colors that support your messaging, rather than subconsciously undermining it.
Back in high school, there were always a few classmates who seemed to find schoolwork effortless. They were able to easily achieve the top grades while the rest of the class struggled. As finals week rolled around, these students often found themselves inundated with requests for study help. Some would come from friends, but many came from complete strangers who would suddenly try to buddy up with the smart kids in an effort to curry their favor.
Typically, the smart students would react to these requests in one of two ways:
- The requests that came from friends — people the students socialized with outside of class — were met with assurances of help.
- The requests that came from strangers were often dismissed.
Why the disparity?
No one likes being taken advantage of. While it may have been just as easy to offer study help to members of either group, the smart students didn’t like people suddenly trying to be their friend, only to be ‘dumped’ once the other person passed an exam. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to help. They just preferred to help genuine friends they could trust to actually care about them.
How this relates to networking
People often look for shortcuts to take with networking. They don’t want to go through the trouble of building a relationship with a new connection; they just want to know if the person is going to be interested in doing business together or not and then leave it at that.
The problem with this method is the same problem that many struggling students found when they tried to suddenly befriend the smart kids at the end of the year: No one likes to feel that they’re being taken advantage of.
When you’re on the other side of the relationship, you don’t want to have someone approach you and just immediately start trying to sell you. You’re more interested in doing business with someone you’ve already built a relationship with and you trust to be concerned with your business as well as theirs. If a connection that you’ve gotten to know over the course of several years reaches out and offers you a trial of their new software and invites you to sign up for a newsletter, you’re far more inclined to accept that offer than you would if the same invitation came from someone you just met.
Making this principle work for you
Networking takes effort. There’s no getting around that. Forming these valuable connections, however, has the potential to really grow a business. To help make your networking overtures successful, keep these tips in mind:
- Discuss business, but don’t try to sell after just a meeting or two.
- Keep detailed records of contacts, such as meeting dates/conferences, birthdays, anniversaries, and similar dates. Send cards on applicable days.
- Keep a rotation of connections that you reach out to on a regular basis, such as once every few months to maintain the relationship.
- When making a sales pitch, frame it in a way so the other party sees how it might benefit them as well.
Networking can be instrumental in growing a business. However, taking shortcuts and trying to sell to a new contact you’ve just met will probably have the success rate of trying to get the high school valedictorian you’ve never spoken with to study with you the day before finals. Taking the time to build a relationship can make a world of difference. Keep that in mind when you set out to build your network, and you just might be pleasantly surprised at what networking can do for you.