Drive Conversions With The Right Audience

Are you interested in increasing your conversions? Market segmentation is an effective way to do this by delivering the right products to the right customer segments in the right market.

Market segmentation gives your brand an advantage over your competitors because you can show your customers that you understand them and can provide them with what they need. In this article, I will share with you how to segment your target market and how to conduct market segmentation.

Segment Your Target Market

Market segmentation is the process of categorizing the market into four main groups: demographic, geographic, behavioral, and psychographic. By understanding your market segments, you can leverage this targeting for your strategies (i.e. product, sales, and marketing). Companies with great market segmentation strategies enjoyed 10% higher profits than companies whose segmentation wasn’t as effective over 5 years (Source).

  • Demographic: This is the most basic way to segment the market and is often considered one of the more broad segmentation types. This includes age, gender, income, race, marital status, family size, religion, nationality, education, occupation, and social class. For example, you can target men, age 18-34 who are single, working full-time, earning $75K+ with an undergraduate degree. 
  • Geographic: Segmenting consumers based on where they live. This includes city, state, country, population density, economic status, zip code, and regional climate. Keep in mind that it’s expensive to target consumers globally while vying for their attention. Think locally and expand slowly. For example, an online clothing retailer targets customers in warm weather with different products vs. customers in cold weather. 
  • Behavioral: Understanding how consumers behave towards products and services. This is affected by their attitudes toward your brand, their use of your products or services, their knowledge of your brand, their readiness to buy or purchase, their loyalty to your brand, and their purchase patterns. For example, you can target loyal customers who purchase your product weekly. 
  • Psychographic: Categorizes customers by their personalities and characteristics. This includes lifestyle, social status, activities, opinions, interests, hobbies, attitudes, values, and beliefs. For example, a watch manufacturing brand focuses on upper-class consumers who value quality & status, high earners who find fulfillment in their careers.

Conduct Market Segmentation

Segmenting your market involves research, data collection, analysis, and time. The more precise you can be, the more effective your marketing efforts will be. How do you do this for your business? Here are eight actionable steps:

  1. Conduct Research: Research can help you build a real-life picture of your market segmentation. Here are two ways to gather research:
  • Public Resources: To get market segmentation information, start with public resources since a great deal of information can be found, and sometimes you can get free access. Resources such as:
    • The Bureau of Labor and Statistics: Measures labor market activity, working conditions, price changes, and productivity in the U.S.
    • U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Offer networking, expert business intelligence, legal assistance, trade missions, market research project
    • Explore Census Data: Data about the nation’s people and economy
    • Google Analytics: Tracks your website activity
    • Mintel Reports: In-depth market analysis and consumer opinions
    • Passport: Provides data and insights on industries, economies, and consumers worldwide
    • RKMA Publications: Provide various consumer-related market info (i.e. market forecasts, sector trends & statistics, etc.)
    • Simmons Insights: Provides access to actionable consumer insights
    • Simply Analytics: Creates interactive maps, charts, and reports
    • Social Explorer: Provides easy access to demographic information about the U.S.
    • Statista: Database that contains international statistics, facts, and market data
    • IBISWorld USA: Insights & analysis on thousands of global industries (i.e. research reports, statistics, etc.)
    • Data USA: Explore map, compare, & download U.S. data
    • Pew Research: Information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the U.S. and world
    • National and international press coverage
    • Industry and trade research
    • Figures from trade fairs and exhibitions
    • Annual reports
  • Original Research: Original research is more specific and in-depth. While this option can be expensive, don’t write it off even if you have a limited budget. More and more these options are becoming affordable with cultural and digital changes.
    • Focus groups
    • User testing
    • Case studies
    • Telephone interviews
    • Online surveys

2. Profile Existing Customers: Look at your existing customers to get as much market segmentation information as you can. Some of these may include:

  • Refer to your business data (CRM, POS, etc.)
  • Post-purchase survey
  • Interview your customers (existing [even if you only have a couple], past, ideal & prospects)
  • Your company website analytics
  • Your social media accounts
  • Interview your sales team
  • Analyze customer feedback (forums, communities, reviews)
  • Your advertising accounts
  • Alexa’s Audience Interest Tool finds topics that your audience cares about

3. Analyze Competitors: Understanding your competitors is one of the most important things you can do. It will tell you exactly what you are up against and what tactics to take on to compete. Some things to look at:

  • How many businesses have comparable offerings to you?
  • What are their market segmentation strategies?
  • Who are they targeting?
  • What reach do they have?
  • What is their pricing structure?
  • What is their media spending?
    • eMarketer: Insider intelligence for industry professionals to get global statistics and reports related to digital marketing, media, and e-commerce
    • SRDS Databases: Evaluate, plan, and buy media

4. Identify Offerings Value: Here you will want to understand your products’ and/or services’ value. Here are some key questions to ask:

  • What are your product’s and/or services’ benefits and features?
  • How does your product and/or service make someone’s life easier, better, or more interesting?
  • Who would benefit most from what you have to offer?
  • What are the primary pain points you address?
  • What makes you and your business unique?

5. Define Your Target Market: Now that you’ve conducted your market segmentation, your first step is to define your target audience into a simple statement. Start by analyzing the market segmentation data that you’ve collected to see what patterns arise. Your goal is to boil this information down into a simple target market statement:  Our target market is (gender) aged (age range), who live in (place or type of place), and like to (activity).  Keep in mind that this is just a guide to use; don’t feel like you need to stick to these identifiers (i.e. gender) if they are not relevant to your business. And of course, if you offer multiple products or services, you will need to create target market statements for each product (or product category).Evaluate Your Markets: Now that you have identified your target market, you need to make sure that the market is viable. Use your data from the market segmentation to answer these questions:

  • Are there enough people in this target market to sustain my business?
  • Does this market segment have enough money to purchase my products or services?
  • Is there a lot of competition for this market segment?
  • If there isn’t a lot of competition, why?
  • If there is a lot of competition, what will separate us from them?
  • How accessible is the target market?
  • Will this market segment buy repeatedly, or will we continuously have to find new customers?

6. Create Buyer Personas: A buyer persona is a fact-based representation of the person who will purchase your products or services. Keep in mind that the buyer persona is not necessarily the person who will use your product or service; it is the person who makes the decision to purchase. Also, a buyer persona is different from a target audience. A target audience defines a group of customers whereas a buyer persona hones in on a specific member of that group. This information can provide insights into the consumer’s buying journey. Buyer personas include name, photo, demographics, brief description, frustrations, goals, motivations, and behaviors. Your buyer personas will guide everything from product development to sales to marketing. Download various templates here.

8. Test and Iterate: It’s time to put all of this to a test. Create a few campaigns using the characteristics you’ve defined in your buyer persona(s). Track your performance to see what measurable results you achieve. Once you’ve established a baseline, use A/B testing to identify which option works best and what needs tweaking. You’ll want to reevaluate your target audience and buyer personas periodically (i.e. during annual planning) and refine accordingly. It’s important to ensure your ideal customer is staying current as the market shifts and evolves.

When you invest the time to develop your market segmentation, your business will reap numerous benefits from higher conversion rates, increased customer engagement, and revenue, to greater loyalty. You’ve got this!

How To Develop A Brand Purpose

Developing your brand purpose should be the first step you take in your overall brand strategy. The process should be led by your brand/marketing department and involve your senior leadership and employees.

So, where do we start? This article provides three steps you can take to develop your unique brand purpose.

Historical Dive

If you have an established brand purpose that needs to be updated, do a historical dive of the brand. Talk to the company founders, explore old photos, research why the company was started, and explore the historical timeline along with key initiatives and/or announcements along the way. Once you’ve compiled everything, see what common threads still hold true today and what needs to be updated.

Engage Leadership & Employees


One of the easiest ways to understand “why” you exist is to talk with your leadership team and employees. By engaging with them, you can find out why they are proud to work for your company/brand.

Your leadership team can provide greater insights into what purpose they want your brand to achieve. It’s critical for your leadership team to emotionally buy into your brand purpose so that they can live it with integrity throughout the organization. 

The goal of your brand purpose is to radiate throughout your organization, being expressed by all who work there. As such, it’s key to get insights and feedback from employees across the company.

Questions To Ask

  • What motivated you to start your business or decide to make your dream a reality? What still motivates you today?
  • Why does your company exist?
  • What is unique about your business? What is your secret sauce that no one else has?
  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Why would your ideal customer choose your product/service? 
  • What are you exceptional at?
  • What do you believe in—personally and professionally?
  • What difference do you want to make?
  • Where do we want to be a year from now? Five years? Ten years?

Good luck in developing your brand purpose beyond making money. Once you do, you will find your path to success. 

Why Purpose-Driven Brands Are Successful

Why is a purpose-driven brand important? Simply stated, it’s what consumers want! Conscientious consumers are on the rise and brands with a purpose are winning.

Purpose-driven brands impact profitability, help grow sales, improve brand loyalty, and provide a competitive advantage—all of which are critical for making a difference in the competitive marketplace today.

Impacts Profitability


Havas Meaningful Brand Report published a 2021 report with several key findings.

  • Meaningful brands (those with an active purpose) outperformed the stock market by 206% over the last 10 years.
  • They also found that meaningful brands increased their KPIs by 137% compared to those operating without a purposeful meaning.
  • Meaningfulness in brand marketing can increase share of wallet by up to nine times.

Helps Grow Sales

Accenture Strategy’s global survey of nearly 30,000 consumers across 35 countries found that brand purpose does help drive growth.

  • 63% of consumers prefer to purchase from purpose-driven brands.
  • 78% of Americans would tell others to buy products from a purpose-driven company.
  • 66% of Americans would even switch from a product they typically buy, to a new product from a purpose-driven company.

Improves Brand Loyalty

Want brand loyalty? Purpose-driven brands cultivate strong relationships with customers as they know they can act as powerful brand loyalists.

New Accenture Strategy research finds:

  • 79% of Americans say they would be more loyal to a purpose-driven company.
  • 73% would be likely to defend a purpose-driven company if people spoke badly of it.
  • 70% would be proud to be associated with a purpose-driven company.

Provides A Competitive Advantage

Executives agree that leading with a purpose provides a competitive advantage according to a 2020 Porter Novelli Executive Purpose Study that examines business leaders’ opinions on purpose-driven leadership.

  • 89% of business leaders believe companies that lead with purpose have a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.
  • 85% agree being a purpose-driven company drives profit.
  • 88% believe purpose-driven companies are differentiated from their peers and competitors.

Purpose-driven brands have higher market share gains, grow faster than their competitors, achieve continued brand loyalty, and increase customer satisfaction and overall positive results. In this age where consumers value authenticity and transparency, they can quickly spot when companies are not delivering on their brand purpose. Those companies that fail to develop a brand purpose may survive in the short term but will struggle to compete successfully in the long term.

What Is Brand Purpose?

Let’s get at the heart of your brand. Does your brand have a vision, mission, brand purpose, and values? What does your company stand for? Questions like these are at the heart of your brand purpose. This is the foundation upon which to build your brand.

In this article, I will give an overview of what brand purpose is as well as give you examples of what brand purpose looks like in action.

Purpose, Vision, Mission, And Values

Let’s look at your brand purpose, vision, mission, and brand values, collectively. Starting with brand purpose, which is the core from where everything flows.

Brand Purpose is “why” you exist. It’s the reason for being beyond making a profit. A great brand purpose will always put the consumers first and manifest itself in everything it does. Knowing the deeper “why” your company or brand exists provides the foundation on which to build everything else.

Simon Sinek, author of the book Start with Why, introduced the idea of defining brand purpose to a global audience in his 2009 TED talk.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
—Simon Sinek, How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Vision is “what” a company aims to achieve for its future.

Mission is “how” we are currently taking action against our vision.

Brand Values are “what” our basic beliefs are in what really matters which guide how things should be done.

This diagram (from BrandNewPurpose) brings this to life.

Brand Purpose 101: Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask. | by Afdhel Aziz | Medium

Brand Purpose In Action

Once your brand purpose is defined, it should emanate throughout your organization. Your brand purpose should show up in your company culture, code of conduct, strategic plans, recruitment, among other key business decisions.

Here are three companies that demonstrate a strong commitment to their brand purpose.

  • Crayola: To help parents and educators raise creatively-alive kids. We want to help kids ask those “What if?” questions that keep them curious. This brand purpose turns parents, teachers, and employees into partners who inspire children’s creativity throughout the learning process. Crayola does this by first believing that they can help unleash the originality in every child. Second, by offering tools that inspire kids to express what they’re thinking. Finally, to create products that will help kids free their “What if?” questions, Crayolians need to be kid-inspired.
Dove takes its 'Real Beauty' marketing drive to India

Dove: To make a positive experience of beauty accessible to every woman. Dove’s brand purpose encourages women to be kinder to themselves, and embrace their natural bodies, diversity, and inclusiveness. They make it easier for customers to relate to, which inspires greater customer loyalty. Dove launched their Real Beauty Campaign in 2004 which focused on empowering women. In 1990, Dove was worth $200M and today it is worth over $5B.

Source:  https://www.prophet.com/2013/05/138-dove-the-most-impressive-brand-builder-in-the-last-15-years/ and https://www.statista.com/statistics/1010915/dove-brand-value-worldwide/

Axe – Marketing Communication News

Axe: Ultimately our brand purpose is to inspire guys to express their individuality, becoming their most attractive selves. Axe’s brand purpose focuses on helping guys smell and feel their best as they never know when, where, and with whom they’ll spark attraction opening up a world of possibilities. We see this come to life through Axe’s partnership with Netflix series Sex Education to encourage self-confidence with its teen audience through sharing real-life dating stories, introduced by characters from the show.

Brand purpose is critical in today’s market as it shows your customers, employees, and competitors that you’re bigger than just turning a profit.

“A rising generation of consumers is looking for brands to stand for something bigger than the products they sell,” says Bemporad. “They want brands to embody an inspiring ethos, bring a strong point of view, and take action to make a positive impact in the world.”

Source:  https://www.canva.com/learn/brand-purpose-important/

Importance of Branding

Let’s learn what a brand is and how it can help your business.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from my years of helping brands tell their story it’s that successful businesses struggle to survive if they don’t have a strong branding strategy. Building a strong branding strategy takes time, resources, and commitment. Many executives can get stuck completing the branding strategy. This article will answer the question of what branding is and how it can help your business.

WHAT IS BRANDING?

What is a brand?

A brand is a thing (noun).  The Dictionary of Brand defines a brand as “a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.” It covers everything you do or say as an organization, even if your business is just you. Think about this. The public forms an impression about your brand through every single encounter with your organization; from an ad they see, to their experience with customer service, to how your product is presented, to even how they interpret the tone and style of the companies communication.

What is branding?

Branding is an action (verb). It is the set of actions that you take to build a brand. In essence, you are creating a brand. Your goal with your branding is to ensure that your audience thinks about your business in the way you intended.

The difference between brand and branding is that one is a marketing tool and the other involves creating a brand. 

What is a brand strategy?

A brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand to achieve specific goals. Why do you need a brand strategy? When you don’t know who you are, what you believe in, what you are trying to achieve, what makes you unique, why you even exist, you will start to find that your business will suffer. You will begin to find that you don’t have a cohesive message, your team struggles to articulate what your brand is, you don’t have a unique market position, to finding that your marketing and business decisions don’t reflect your mission and vision.

A brand is NOT…

  1. Branding is NOT the same as marketing. Branding is strategic and marketing is tactical. Branding builds a brand, marketing promotes your products and/or services. Marketing complements the branding process but does not replace it.
  2. Marty Neumeier, author and speaker on all things brand, defines brand by first laying out what a brand is not: “A brand is not a logo. A brand is not an identity. A brand is not a product.”

HOW CAN BRANDING HELP MY BUSINESS?

Branding is critical to a business’s success and the overall impact it can make on an organization. We’ve seen over and over again that when the economy struggles, companies scramble to keep customers. Those organizations that spent time defining their brand strategy are the ones that survive and thrive.

Here are seven reasons why taking the time to develop a strong branding strategy can help your business.

1. INCREASES BUSINESS VALUE

Forbes 2020, The World’s Most Valuable Brands

When you have developed a strong brand (i.e. trust, reputation, mindshare, influence, premium price, etc.) you have generated value for your organization. This brand value is an asset and holds monetary value. Companies are now looking to buy and/or invest in other companies based on this brand value. Steve Forbes said it best: “Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.”

2. ATTRACTS CUSTOMERS


Customers are looking for brands to love. It’s much easier for a customer to find a brand and company that they love, thus continuing to purchase from them versus the risk of frustration that is often encountered with bad brand experiences.

If you have taken the time to clearly define your brand, your business will be more likely to attract the right audience who shares your values. Strong branding usually means that customers have a positive impression of your company which results in them doing business with you and ultimately leading to brand advocates.

For example, the e-commerce giant Amazon is constantly innovating with new customer solutions, including one-day shipping, free shipping, easy returns, physical locations, customer service across all platforms, and easy mobile app usage, all of which create a strong brand experience.

3. GREATER CUSTOMER RECOGNITION


Customers will be more likely to recognize your brand when you tell them who you are, what to expect, and what your brand promise is. A consistent and clear offering coupled with a positive brand experience puts the customer at ease because they know what to expect when they engage with your brand. Consistent presentation of a brand has seen to increase revenue by 33% (Lucidpress, 2019). One survey showed that 81% of consumers said that they need to be able to trust the brand to buy from them (Edelman, 2019).

Think of brands you know. Air Jordan, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola. What do you remember about these brands? With Air Jordan, you probably remember the black silhouette of a jumping man with a ball in his hand. For McDonald’s, it’s the golden arches, and for Coca-Cola, it is the distinctive font. These brands are recognizable because they have maintained consistency in their imagery and communication. These are also trusted brands. You know what you are getting every time. It’s that consistency that leads to trust. 

For example, with Starbucks Rewards members get the ideal combination of VIP treatment and express service. Utilizing the Starbucks mobile app, customers can customize their drinks to their specifications in the comforts of their home. When they arrive at Starbucks, they are treated like a VIP, being greeted with smiles, their drink with their name on it, all while bypassing a long line.

4. DRIVES CUSTOMER LOYALTY

Customers are naturally attracted to brands that share the same values. When you begin to build your branding strategy, it’s important to convey these values to build an emotional connection with customers. According to the Harvard Business Review, 64% of consumers say that sharing the same values with a brand is the primary reason they have a relationship in the first place. Brand loyalty often lasts a lifetime and even transfers to future generations.

As an example, Sephora has one of the most successful customer loyalty programs in the beauty space with 25M+ registered members. They use a tiered and customizable rewards program to provide members with a personalized experience.

5. CONNECTS WITH CUSTOMERS EMOTIONALLY

Why do you love certain brands? For some people, it’s really easy to communicate: “I love the experience,” “I feel good in them,” “It reminds me of my childhood.” More often than not, it comes down to a feeling that’s hard to put into words. Successful brands hold great emotional meaning for people. That is what makes the brand strong, loved, and respected. However, 89% of consumers feel no personal connection to the brands they buy according to a Forrester Research consumer survey. Why is this? Companies usually fall into the trap of promoting features and benefits which rarely set them apart from the competition.

An example of a company emotionally connecting with their customers is Nike. Nike taps into your “inner hero” forcing yourself to “just do it,” overcoming your weaknesses to do anything and “be all you can be.” Nike is connecting with customers’ inner sense of strength, determination, and achievement.

6. PROVIDES A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE


It is more competitive today than ever before, especially as companies are now competing on a global scale, making it harder to stand out from the crowd. Detailing your unique set of values and qualities will help to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. When done right, a brand can’t be duplicated and that is your competitive advantage.

An example is McDonald’s. McDonald’s competitive advantage is its cost leadership strategy. They can utilize economies of scale to produce products at a low cost, offering products at a lower price than most of their competitors.

7. CREATES CLARITY & FOCUS

A clear brand strategy helps an organization stay focused for a few reasons:


  1. It helps customers feel comfortable purchasing your product or service because each time they engage, it’s easy, understandable, and they know what to expect.
  2. It provides clear direction for your employees in order for them to be successful. A detailed branding guideline will provide clear direction for them so that there is no confusion throughout the organization. This will in turn help increase employee morale and engagement.

Check out WWF’s clear and focused branding guidelines:  WWF’s brand guidelines.

In summary, your brand is how others perceive your business. It’s the emotional connection you make with your audience. Branding is the action you take to build your brand. It is the process you go through to ensure your audience perceives your brand the way you intended. Branding strategy is the long-term development plan to achieve specific goals. 

Branding can help your business by increasing business value, attracting customers, improving customer recognition, driving customer loyalty, providing a competitive advantage, and creating clarity and focus.

Driving Profitability & Growth During a Pandemic Interview with Beyond Meat & Coca-Cola Executives

I sat down with Chuck Muth, Chief Growth Officer at Beyond Meat and Christine Holland Carvalho, VP Commercial Strategy at Coca-Cola Canada Bottling to discuss driving profitability and growth during this pandemic. What transpired was an amazing discussion on the key strategies they are using to drive their businesses forward. The five big takeaways included:

  • Operational Adjustments & Streamlining Processes
  • Pivoting to Meet Shifting Consumer Demands
  • Entrepreneurial Focus Towards Customer Retention
  • Exploring E-Commerce Solutions
  • Revamping Delivery Routes

TRANSFORMING YOUR COMPANY FOR SUCCESS POST-COVID-19: Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste

By Lisa Perry and Andrea Bjorkman

Your company has changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it possible and, frankly, incredibly necessary to reassess your business strategy. You have an unprecedented opportunity to transform your company to ensure success and even gain further progress in the new world we will all be living in. 

Listed below are opportunities on how your company can adjust to the on-going physical distancing and restrictions through 2020 by looking at five key areas: employees, leadership, consumers, marketing, and channels.

EMPLOYEES

Your #1 Assets’ Concerns

How you respond to your employees will impact engagement, trust, and loyalty for many years to come. 

Employees are experiencing an unprecedented amount of stress and, according to grief expert David Kessler in an interview with Harvard Business Review, “…we’re feeling a number of different griefs…The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.” In addition, there is “another type of grief, anticipatory grief, which focuses on the uncertainty of the future and shatters our sense of safety.”  

Actions You Can Take

  • Provide Well-Being And Financial Security: Develop additional employee benefit costs to cover on-going COVID-19 medical bills, stay at home costs, and mental health costs. Provide additional financial assistance to help employees get through this hard time.
  • Focus On Mental Health: Promote your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or other outside resources. Show empathy and compassion and listen to your employees’ concerns.
  • Adapt To New Ways Of Working: Continue workplace flexibility by offering flextime and providing remote working tailored to the employee and the company needs.  
  • Build Team Morale: Create virtual connection opportunities, such as coffee breaks, lunches, around the water cooler topics, happy hours, etc.

LEADERSHIP

Unprecedented Crisis Management

According to PwC’s most recent Global Crisis Survey, nearly seven in 10 leaders (69 percent) have experienced at least one corporate crisis in the last five years in their companies, and the average number of crises experienced in these firms is greater than three. However, most leaders have not experienced a crisis of this magnitude.

Actions You Can Take

  • Develop A Revised Strategic Plan: Review financial assumptions, growth expectations, key strategic drivers, allocation of resources, and processes. Identify on-going initiatives & future investment.
  • Create And Revise Your Crisis And Business Continuity Plans:  Ensure that they include plans for pandemics based on what you have learned and experienced. Make them specific.
  • Have A Clear Understanding Of Your Supply Chain:  This should include raw materials where possible. Identify vulnerabilities, especially from a global perspective.
  • Identify All Potential Points Of Failure: Develop contingency plans for all critical processes and the departments and teams responsible for them.
  • Continue To Drive Innovation:
    • Challenge Orthodoxies: Widely held and unchallenged assumptions that a company holds. The key is to evaluate your company’s beliefs (product, business model, customers) to inspire innovation.
    • Forcing Constraints: Help drive innovation by considering how your business would operate under different circumstances.  
    • Working Outside Of Your Organization: Innovating via collaboration (partnerships, acquisitions, etc.).
    • Move Quickly: Consider relaxing constraints and process, (perfect later down the road, right now will cost you valuable time), and ensure you are promoting collaboration.

CONSUMERS 

Consumers’ Economic Recovery Concerns

The economy has come to a near-complete standstill with rising unemployment. Thirty million people have filed for unemployment claims for the six weeks March 15 – April 25, 2020 alone. Those who still have jobs are concerned about losing their jobs, making upcoming payments, and are most likely to delay large purchases based on a study from Deloitte.com. Forty-six percent of U.S. consumers said they plan to reduce spending in the coming weeks based on a McKinsey.com survey. As consumer expectations change, it will be important for organizations to better align their offerings and activities with consumer interests and values, delivering upon their needs.   

Actions You Can Take

  • Be Careful About Taking Price Increases: Especially during this time of relatively inelastic demand to avoid being seen as profiteering.  
  • Trading Down: Value for the money will become a key driver with consumers switching to cheaper brands, private labels, bulk buying, and/or stockpiling.
  • Shoppers Seeking Deals: Fewer more efficient promotions that are personalized and targeted to drive frequency and spending.  
  • Cutting Back On Non-Essentials: Two-thirds of U.S. shoppers said they would cut back on high-end luxury goods, one-third would cut back on cosmetics based on a McKinsey.com survey.
  • Customer-First Approach: As consumer behavior changes (more digital/online engagement, refocus on home occasions, shifting channels, etc.) during this pandemic, it’s important to take a customer-first approach to inform strategic and tactical decisions.

Health & Wellness Is A High Consumer Priority

Health and wellness products are top of mind (42.5%), with consumers reporting buying more personal sanitizers (40.15%), medical care items like thermometers (22.75%), and wellness items like vitamins, CBD, and superfoods (21.6%), based on a survey from Yotpo. While everyone is currently trying to remain safe washing their hands, using hand sanitizers, sanitizing their carts & baskets, and wearing masks, post-COVID-19, their desire to remain safe and well will be stronger than ever. This will create opportunities for companies to provide health-boosting measures to make staying healthy effortless for their customers.  

Actions You Can Take

  • Visibility On Product Sourcing & Safety: Consumers are aware of the importance of strict hygiene and food safety and are looking for better visibility and transparency on product sourcing and manufacturing processes.
  • Contactless Focus: Contactless payments, contactless delivery, curbside pickup, Instacart delivery service, innovative store layout to minimize chances of coronavirus spread, and incentivize customers to shop/order online.
  • Health & Foods Supporting Wellness And Immunity Are Priority: People are paying more attention to their nutrition and what they eat (supplements, natural ingredients, functional ingredients, clean label products).
  • Potential Growth In Plant-Based Protein As Safe Meat Alternative: With COVID-19 threatening consumers’ trust in meat, the focus may turn to plant-based protein options.
  • Provide Healthy, Nutritious Easy To Prepare Meal Solutions/Menus: Consumers are spending more time in the kitchen cooking from scratch.
  • Emphasize Health & Cleanliness In Marketing Message

Consumers Shift To Home-Based Activities

Consumers are expected to spend more time at home post-COVID-19 driven by a desire to save money, persistent safety concerns, and a newfound pleasure in nesting based on McKinsey Experts. Brands need to keep marketing their products and services but must innovate their way through these consumer behavior changes.

Actions You Can Take

  • Provide Entertainment Products & Services: Live-streaming events, books/materials, games & puzzles, happy hours supplies/events.
  • Offer At Home Eating Solutions: Home cooking ideas & tutorials, cook-at-home kits, food delivery solutions, catering services.
  • Promote Hobby Products & Services: Gardening, arts & crafts, DIY, learning something new (i.e. language, skills, etc), home renovations.
  • Showcase Fitness Ideas & Solutions: Class tutorials, equipment.

MARKETING

How Marketing Will Need To Shift

Marketers need to continue to re-evaluate their 2020 marketing plans and stick to their long-term marketing strategies. As they do, they need to keep in mind that people are fearful about their health, jobs, and safety of their loved ones. It will be important for marketers to keep this in mind as they start to build trust and share their message to consumers.  

Actions You Can Take

  • Transform Into A Purpose-Led Brand: Prioritize building a deep relationship beyond selling, focusing on helping customers as they can act as a powerful champion of the brand. Do not exploit COVID-19 as a commercial opportunity.
  • Show Empathy: Promote your brand in a way that shows some awareness of the challenges consumers and businesses are facing right now.
  • Focus On Digital Marketing: Online activity and traffic has significantly increased. Coupled with a reduction in digital ad spend, there are opportunities to expand your reach with PPC, both search and display.
  • Effective E-Commerce Tactics: Content marketing, PPC ads, email marketing, and social media marketing.

CHANNELS

Driving Your Digital Commerce Transformation 

Digital commerce has rapidly accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing businesses to re-evaluate their channel strategy in the hopes of capturing their fair share of the new digital customer segment.  

Actions You Can Take

  • Alternate Payments: Provide alternate payment options such as Venmo (cash-based transactions) to offering payment plan options (luxury, discretionary type items).
  • Scaling Customer Support: Beef up product information, self-help resources, chat functionality, social media channel support, and a community of brand advocates.
  • Prioritize Consumer Digital Experience: Users want a high-quality experience regardless of device, location, browser, or network. 
  • Operational Continuity: Set customer expectations and establish safety stock levels to ensure you can meet commitments. Optimize buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) and consider scheduled pickups, curbside pickup, and delivery options to reduce exposure risks. Consider purchase limitations for high demand products.
  • Be Honest With Fees: Now is the time where customer loyalty is vital. Be honest with all of your fees upfront. Consider removing delivery/shipping costs, as this could make the difference for a repeat customer.
  • Outline Shipping And Return Policies: Be upfront with your policies. During this time, consider offering extended returns to keep customers coming back and ensure you are keeping them updated on the status of their order.

Right now, today, we all have the opportunity to improve and transform our companies. Use this time to evaluate and make decisions about the various aspects of your business with the goal of becoming stronger, meeting revised financial goals, and being more meaningful to your employees, customers, vendors, and shareholders.

How Business Leaders Can Thrive Through Chaos

I grew up as a “latchkey” kid with both parents working. My routine involved walking home from school alone, letting myself into my house with my “key”, and taking care of myself until my parents came home in the evening.

I quickly learned the value of problem-solving and how to handle chaotic situations (i.e. my dog getting out and being attacked, to needing to go to the doctors for stitches but having to wait until my parents got home).

These skills have been beneficial to me throughout my career as I’ve helped companies drive change through chaos. 

Companies today are continually faced with re-organizations, downsizing, layoffs, mergers & acquisitions, and marketplace shifts, leaving an aftermath of chaos. Companies that operate in this chaos typically have these common characteristics:

  1. Policies or procedures are non-existent, poorly implemented, or not enforced.
  2. The organization is more reactive than proactive.
  3. There are layers of bureaucracy, with a lack of accountability across the organization.
  4. There is an absence of transparency.
  5. There is a lack of communication across the organization.

As you see these chaotic signs within your company it’s time to step up and take a leadership role. Here are three things you can do to drive change and thrive through the chaos.

1. Provide Impactful Leadership

Providing impactful leadership starts with being able to ruthlessly prioritize, drive meaningful collaboration, and empower others. 

  • Prioritizing is hugely challenging, but critical to gaining alignment and driving business results. Without it, businesses flounder.  
  • To create a meaningful collaborative environment, it’s important to set clear goals and expectations, foster team cohesion, and celebrate the wins.  
  • In building successful, engaging teams, it’s critical to encourage and support the decision-making environment to give employees the tools and knowledge they need to make and act upon their own decisions.  

I recently worked for a cannabis company where there were the usual chaotic signs: lack of prioritization, no policies/procedures, lack of communication across the organization, and everything being an urgent request. The first thing I did was prioritize what our strategic initiatives were, aligning with both senior leadership and my team.

Once priorities were aligned, the next step was ensuring team collaboration by giving them direction, setting clear expectations and providing them with the tools they needed to do their jobs in order to help drive quick wins.

In the first six months on the job, as a team, we were able to drive significant change and business results. We launched new edible products (15 SKUs) supported with new packaging, a first-ever senior leadership approved marketing plan, $75K savings in excess inventory management, a new finance/marketing budget management system, and a significant presence at industry events. 

Being able to effectively prioritize, collaborate, and empower employees led to increased productivity and employee engagement. The bonus was being able to bring everyone and everything together to achieve those big wins which was hugely gratifying!

2. Improve Business Processes

The second thing you can do to thrive through the chaos is to improve business processes by allocating team resources, implementing project and document management tools, and templatizing documents and assets.

  • Allocate team resources to maximize the potential to drive increased productivity.  It’s important to understand the scope of the project/assignment. Make sure the right people are assigned to the right project. Lastly, ensure all resources have the needed support.
  • Leverage project and document management tools to create an organized approach for increased organizational collaboration and improved productivity. 
  • Create templatized documents and assets which help teams by giving them the tools they need to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

At this cannabis company that I worked for, project management was going to be key in order to drive collaboration, communication, and transparency throughout the organization, which had been significantly lacking. I worked with my team to leverage Sharepoint (managing event logistics to new product launches) and developed quarterly reports &  marketing templates (budgets, marketing plans).

These types of business process solutions that were implemented improved employee morale through increased efficiency and productivity, while also driving bottom-line savings. Being part of a work environment where you can make a significant impact like this is tremendously rewarding.

3. Develop A Strategy

As a leader, it is expected that you will develop a strategy to drive business objectives, aligning you and your team to the overall organization’s vision. A strategy can provide a shared vision for the organization, especially when times are tough, providing a purpose for everyone to rally around.

During my time at the cannabis company, I worked with my team to develop the first approved marketing strategy that was able to effectively execute against the brand’s vision. 

From my experiences of driving change through organizational chaos, I realized I needed to be calm, focused, and prepared as I implemented my key strategies: providing impactful leadership, improving business processes, and developing a strategy. In today’s noisy and chaotic world, leaders will need to be prepared to manage through the chaos in all its forms.

Top 2020 Marketing Trends to Incorporate

As you develop your 2020 marketing strategy, it’s important to be on top of the latest trends and leverage them quickly to drive business growth.  Here are the top marketing trends that you should consider investing your time and resources in to guide you in 2020.  

Shoppable Posts

Shoppable posts have been gaining traction for a couple of years now.  By 2020, social shopping will be the new norm.  Shoppable posts have shortened the sales funnel by eliminating steps from awareness directly to the point of purchase making it easier for users to shop.  E-commerce sites are leveraging this trend by using social media sites (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest) to take prospective buyers to customers letting them hover over a picture, see what items are for sale and purchase with a click of a button.  Social media has become an integral part of online marketing.  30% of consumers have made purchases through social media according to Statista.  Instagram leads with 72% of users having purchased a product on the app according to a survey by Dana Rebecca Designs.  A Pinterest study found that 70% of Pinners have discovered new and interesting products on Pinterest.  

Interactive Content

Interactive content is highly effective in educating online buyers as it contains the most relevant and actionable information that encourages and compels users to buy products immediately according to a study by Demand Metric.  In fact, 91% of consumers prefer visual and interactive content rather than traditional formats.  There are several reasons for this:

  • Stands Out More Than Regular Content, Keeping Attention Longer
  • Keeps Visitors On Your Page Longer, Low Bounce Rate
  • Highly Shareable, Helping To Grow Brand Awareness, Putting It In Front Of More People
  • More Engaging, Allowing Direct Communication Between Your Brand And External Influences

Personalization

Consumer’s are being bombarded with marketing messages on a daily basis to the point where they are tuning them out.  Personalization is a way to make a real connection with your target audience.  According to an Epsilon survey of 1,000 consumers, personalization is highly appealing with 80% of consumers saying that they’d be more likely to do business with a brand that provides a personalized experience and 90% indicating that they find personalization appealing.  To effectively personalize your brand experience, think about doing the following:

  • Collect as much data as possible to create buyer personas (based on a range of factors like age, gender, income, location, interests and pain points as well as shopping habits) for better content and targeted ads.
  • Identify what content would be of unique interest to each persona and map these interests using a diagram
  • Create personalized content
  • Personalize the whole experience (not just personalizing emails, but think of Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, where a consumer can customize a bottle with their name).

Google Ads Smart Bidding

Google has announced that automation and smart bidding will become the new norm for Google Ads.  Google Ads makes use of machine learning technology to help optimize your bids.  This gives you several new abilities to help you maximize your conversions.  Some features include: 

  • Choose conversion actions at the campaign level
  • Set your bids to change automatically when sales start and stop
  • Optimize bids over multiple campaigns with specified conversion actions

Content Marketing

“Content is King” continues to be true as we move into 2020.  According to Content Marketing Institute, content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising.  High-quality, immersive and conversational storytelling content where the consumer can gain experience throughout the story is a must in 2020.  Around 70% of consumers believe that good content makes them feel closer to organizations and help them in making better buying decisions.  Developing good content needs to include the following:

  • Improve brand awareness
  • Increase SERP ranking
  • Drive customer engagement
  • Generate leads, conversions, or outright sales
  • Provide backlink potential

Live Video 

Live video is incredibly popular with consumers, watching three times longer than recorded videos, producing six times as many interactions as traditional videos and daily watch time up fourfold in a single year.  It is great for grabbing your social audiences attention and finding out about something new (i.e. new products, exciting news, etc) 

SERP Position Zero

Position zero is the featured snippet of text at the top of the results page with just enough information to answer your audiences’ questions so that you don’t need to click through to a website to get the information you’re looking for as it’s right there on the Google search results page.  Over 60% of search results returned by Google are now position zero search results.  This snippet, when done correctly, may be the only link audiences click on accounting for 54% of all Google clicks in 2019 translating to a high-click through rate.  Focusing your efforts on SERP Position Zero will set you up to attract high-quality customers.

Voice Search

Adoption of voice-powered smart speakers is taking off (Amazon Echo, Google Home, Sonos One) with 55% being installed in U.S. households by 2022.  According to ComScore, over 50% of searches in 2020 will be from voice search.  This will result in a large percentage of consumers finding your website through voice search instead of traditional typed Google inquiry.  It’s important that your content is optimized for voice search, a great way to get your brand more visibility.

Get Ready For 2020

Now is the time to get ready and start planning your 2020 marketing strategy leveraging these marketing trends.  Let me know what other trends you have observed as we enter the new year.

Best Super Bowl 2015 Ads

SuperBowl 2015 Best Ads

Last night’s Super Bowl XLIX Seahawks-Patriots match up was definitely one for the ages.  Ratings were up 4% (total viewers to be announced later today) from last year which had a record breaking audience of 111.5 million viewers.  Super Bowl commercial are among the most expensive mainly due to the mass audience they attract.  According to The Wall Street Journal, brands shelled out a record breaking $4.5 million this year for a basic 30-second Super Bowl XLIX ad.  The true value of the overall exposure includes online views, brand recall, social media leverage, wide spread media coverage, and positive PR associated with the game.

This year’s ads were focused on heartfelt emotions (from the powerful ads like NFL’s domestic violence, Dove’s Fathers are hero’s to Dodge’s 100 year life lessons) to off-putting (Nationwide childhood death which was very depressing).  Most effective Super Bowl ads use animals, babies/kids, humor (which we didn’t see much of this year with a few exceptions like the Snicker’s ad), surprise endings, celebrities, and longer storytelling.

According to YouTube Trends Dashboard the “Lost Dog” ad by Budweiser was one of the most viewed videos in the last 24 hours (20.8M views) since uploaded on January 28th. Super Bowl 2015 Chart ranked “Lost Dog” #1 with 2.1M shares across Facebook, Twitter and blogs in the last 30 days.  This ad has also taken top dog honors among several media outlets including USA Today Ad Meter, Hulu, Denver Post and Shift Communications tally of online and ad sharing.  Emotions were definitely riding high with this ad and were used successfully to engage consumers with the Budweiser brand.

“The Brady Bunch” ad by Snickers was ranked #2 by Super Bowl 2015 Chart with 187,237 shares in the last 30 days.  This spot was clever and very funny and had it not had a puppy or baby in it, it might have taken the top slot.  “The Brady Bunch” ad has been one of the most shared videos on Facebook & Twitter in the last 24 hours and has 8.1M views on YouTube.  One of Snicker’s successes outside of the humor they used was in launching their ad early with their teaser campaign.  Their teaser ad generated 3.35M views alone.  Launching before the Super Bowl game is ultimately the way to be a part of the larger conversation, engaging with consumers longer.

The keys to a successful commercial are:

  1. Attention: The ad needs to grab consumer’s attention.
  2. Distinction: The ad needs to be different, distinct so it stands out from the competition.
  3. Positioning: Your ad needs to deliver your brands benefit in order to be memorable to your consumers.
  4. Likable/Effective: Your ad needs to be liked, inspiring conversation in a positive way, engaging both consumer and brand.
  5. Net Equity: The ad has to be consistent with the overall brand.