Branding

Extending Your Brand To and Beyond the Webinar.

Assuming your presentation is buttoned-up tight and focused cleanly on your topic, what else can you do to ensure wise use of your webinar budget? Well, it’s all about two key points we seem to repeat a lot:

  1. Ensuring brand integrity builds and maintains brand recognition.
  2. Linking this particular tool (webinars) with other marketing and sales tools builds a network around your prospects, creating additional sales touch points.

Essentially, it’s all about maintaining professionalism while being available where and when your prospects need you.

Ensuring Brand Integrity In Webinars.

This seems pretty limited on the surface, right? It would appear that all you can do is send the webinar company your logo as a low-res jpeg and hope for the best. While that may be true with some third-party webinar companies, consider these options below and push, push, push on behalf of your brand.

  • Make sure your presentation is easy to read for the age group of the attendees and includes key brand elements such as logo, colors, fonts (where possible), image assets, etc. This is especially important because the webinar company will be using their own brand elements in the general interface.
  • Don’t choose an outsourced webinar delivery platform based solely on price. Also DO consider how well its interface supports branding your webinar as well as its user-friendliness.
  • Realize that folks will be attending from a variety of platforms and monitor sizes. Adjust the content of your graphics and text appropriately. If your Corporate Brand Guidebook doesn’t contain information specific to webinars, pull from the chapters for PowerPoint and Website styling.
  • Choose a speaker whose voice is appropriate for your brand. If your subject matter expert has a whiney voice, choose someone else or outsource. Stay away from extremely high or low-pitched voices, as they may be hard to hear and understand via many computer audio systems. If you’re selling cosmetics, consider using a female voice. Whereas sports or auto related topics may be able to go either way depending on the audience.
  • Be certain that your support materials are brand cohesive. This includes anything you’re linking to from the webinar such as white papers, case studies, speaker bios or an annotated outline of the webinar content.
  • If you’re sponsoring a trade pub’s webinar, ensure that you’re using every brand tool at your disposal: logo files, ad page, banner ad and link to landing page for more info. Negotiate for additional touch points where possible and connect them back to tools you can control such as landing pages or your website.

Opportunities for Extending Your Brand Beyond the Webinar.

Working your communications before and after the webinar takes research, planning and time. But the key benefit is keeping your audience engaged beyond the webcast to the point of closing a sale.

Imagine being a big-ticket sales person in a brick and mortar store and discovering a way to get the name, phone number and email address of every interested shopper with whom you spoke? You’d do it, right? Even if they didn’t buy from you right away, you could provide additional information and follow up with them during and after their buying process.

This is why it’s critical to look for opportunities to increase the viral aspect of your brand beyond the basic webinar.

  • Make sure you create avenues for attendees to interact with you following the event. Creating an ongoing forum or listserv or even linking to a blog post about your topic provides additional discussion options. If you already have an online discussion forum, open a new topic coinciding with the webinar and publicize it in follow-up communications.
  • Also ensure that your speakers have valid corporate Twitter and/or LinkedIn accounts for attendees to connect with afterwards, and provide that information freely at the webinar. Both tools have methods of supporting discussion topics.
  • Consider setting up a landing page or mini-site to support your webinar. Use this as an info link during registration and reminders, and then modify it afterwards to collect more information during post webinar follow up.
  • Consider timing your webinar close to a key industry trade show and include special invitations to webinar attendees for a VIP session or special gift at the show. This takes advantage of your sales team’s limited travel budgets.
  • If you’re offering in-depth workshops at an upcoming trade show, pre-empt the show with a preparatory session via a webinar. This can generate excitement for the show and increase valid attendees at the live event.
  • And remember, if you’re creating your own webinar content, you can still advertise it via banner ads in industry publications, usually for relatively modest expenditures.

Ultimately, It’s About Building Branded Networks.

Don’t think of a webinar as a one-off event. Use it as a building block within your entire communications network to get the biggest impact.

“White” Paper Doesn’t Mean Generic.

cainyCastor-250Creating a successful white paper isn’t just about the content. The content is in fact worthless if:

  • The paper doesn’t support the brand,
  • It’s too hard to read,
  • Your credibility is lacking because the paper looks amateurish, and
  • Your charts or graphics are boring.

I dare say most white papers are not tackling new theories or topics. And in a highly competitive situation, who are your prospects going to believe? The guy in the rumpled suit or the guy whose shirt is pressed, shoes polished and handshake firm? Likewise, a rumpled and amateurish white paper will not engender trust.

Here are five design guidelines for creating highly functioning and trustworthy white papers:

  1. Keep it readable:Readability is created by a combination of design tactics that take your specific content and audience into account.Choice of typeface is top on the list. While all computers have Arial available, a smarter choice for readability of long passages would be a face with a larger x-height. For example, for readability of lengthy white papers on screen, Verdana or Georgia are two excellent options. For readability on paper, Myriad Pro or Garamond may work well. Serif typefaces are usually more readable than sans serif, but you also have to weight that difference with your brand’s needs. Of course, there are thousands of typefaces available and your corporate brand style guide may also govern the ones you use.Bigger is not always better when it comes to sizing type. That said, there are many designers who adhere to the school of tiny type. Use a designer who understands the nuances of type size as it relates to your content, writing style, typeface selection and most importantly, the needs or your target demographic. Striking the right balance in size means ensuring readers can easily read your paper without squinting and that your type isn’t so large that they can’t see the forest for the trees.

    Also consider line length and line spacing. Line lengths that are too short cause too much hyphenation and make reading a choppy venture. Lines that are too long make it difficult for the mind’s eye to track from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. To optimize reading speed, designers have for years been using the 66-72 characters per line rule. Generally speaking, this rule continues to work very well but again, is dependent on your white paper’s specific needs. Papers with lots of very long words may require a slightly longer line length. Just try reading a James Joyce novel with a short line length—painfully slow.

    Line spacing also affects the ability of the mind’s eye to read quickly. Spacing that is too much or too little will slow the reader down, getting your message embedded later rather than sooner. Line spacing is also interdependent on typeface selection and average word length.

    Keeping your white paper readable at maximum warp speed is a fine balance between many factors.

  2. Look professional: Good design will pre-sell your white paper and ultimately, you.Not realizing this and acting on it will place you in the league of second bests or the do-not-consider group. It’s really not any different than showing up at an interview in a freshly pressed suit, shoes polished, hair in place, teeth clean and nails trimmed.Likewise, if your white paper looks like it was created in Microsoft Word, it will compete poorly against a competitor’s paper that is branded, polished, neat and professional. There are many design nuances that Microsoft Word or Publisher lack but a good designer trained in traditional typographic techniques can provide.
  3. Be interesting: Being lively and interesting will get you more attention than the party bore.Don’t think that the term ‘white paper’ means you can’t use color or interesting graphics. White paper doesn’t refer to the overall design of your paper, and you’re doing your brand and your customer or prospect a disservice by not making your paper visually interesting.Now I don’t mean embellish your paper with fancy dingbats and doodads that don’t add value. Good design is not about decoration. Make sure all your graphics are working hard for the content and/or the brand image. And do something to stand out. Don’t be boring.
  4. Design for the distribution method:Good white papers will be shared digitally among peers.If your white paper is being distributed via email, be careful to adhere to the email marketing laws in the country of distribution, don’t use spam triggers, do apply permission-based marketing techniques and make it easy to share by including forward links.If your paper is a downloadable PDF, recipients are more likely to print it before reading. So make sure you design it to be most readable printed from an inkjet printer.

    If you are professionally printing your paper for snail-mail distribution, you must also consider the paper stock used and ideally, make sure it is ballpoint or pencil ready with healthy margins for jotting notes.

  5. Pay attention to details: If God and the devil are both in the details, then this is where you’d better spend some time.We all know of HR people who throw away any resumes with typos, punctuation and grammar errors. It’s one way to narrow the field to the real professionals. Ditto with thought leadership and design. If you don’t look buttoned up in terms of details, how will prospects trust you with the details of their business?

In terms of white paper design details, look out for these common mistakes:

  • Ditch those double spaces between sentences. It affects reading speed and isn’t necessary since we no longer use typewriters.
  • Be consistent with periods and commas. If you’re using a serial comma, stick with it.
  • Don’t break proper nouns at the end of a line, especially if the line length is long.
  • Watch for too many hyphenations, which also slow reading and just look like you don’t care.
  • Keep your bullets closer to their text than the line below them.
  • Use a grid to align your content perfectly so nothing looks out of place.
  • Consider balance of elements on a page. Look for triangulation of weight.
  • Use styles to keep content consistently formatted.
  • Use color appropriately and don’t overuse. This isn’t a flea market.
  • Consider how your document will be printed and if on an office inkjet, make sure key content doesn’t exceed printer margins.
  • Align table columns appropriately for the content. Align decimals on the decimal, for instance.

Skimpy Investments Deliver Skimpy Results.

Ultimately, good white paper design is about taking care of your prospects, making it easy for them to consider you. Yes, it’s a larger investment, but if that’s what gets you moved to the head of the pack, then that’s what you must do.

Remember, looking the part and being easy to understand shortens the distance to being considered a thought leader.

By Julia Moran Martz

Boosting Your Brand With Thought Leadership.

suM-250Being a thought leader in your industry is critical to supporting and expanding your brand. The strongest brands are those owned and managed by thought leaders. That’s because thought leaders understand that there are key building blocks enabling their position.

Thought leadership building blocks:

  • Design & engineering (product/service, process, store, graphics, interactive)
  • Marketing & sales (multichannel media, sales methodology)
  • Service (phone, online, social media, mail, in-person)
  • Operations (raw materials, manufacturing, warehousing, delivery)
  • Ethics (your brand’s moral compass including aspects such as fair trade, labor practices, environmental responsibility and community support)
  • Empowerment (employees, vendors, partners, customers)

thought-leadership-circle-LG

The strength of the Thought Leadership Circle is only as good as its weakest link.

A solid network of thought leadership building blocks enables trust in the reputation of your brand. Imagine a perfect circle made of building blocks surrounding your customers. As the thought leader in your category, you must continually excel at all of the above to prove your leadership worthiness. Any misstep impacts your position and ultimately, your brand’s integrity.

In this article, we’ll review the design component of thought leadership.

Using Design As A Thought Leadership Building Block.

Looking the part of the thought leader ensures your customer pays even closer attention to what you say and do. For example, let’s look at IKEA, arguably THE thought leader in the modernist home furnishing market.

IKEA spent the past 50 years building its reputation as THE expert in affordable modern design for the home. Going way beyond just designing modern products, IKEA modernized the process of buying home products and designed stores that include everything for the home. They managed to instill a global and modern design sense in every aspect of their business, thus building the ultimate modern brand. IKEA is the thought leader of modernist home furnishings. It is the go-to expert if you want affordable, cool, modern stuff for your crib with that special IKEA shopping experience.

But, and you knew there was a ‘but,’ right?

Very recently, IKEA enlisted in a rebranding project and as a result, changed its corporate typefaces from their customized versions of Futura and Century Schoolbook (a.k.a. IKEA Sans and IKEA Serif) to Verdana. The objective was to unify the company’s online and print typefaces to save costs on global implementation. While a respectable goal, this brand maneuver is resulting in a huge outpouring of criticism in the blogosphere, Twitterverse, newsfeeds and online forums, ultimately questioning their future position as thought leader for modern home furnishings.

Why Is This Even an Issue?

On the surface, this may not seem like a big deal. But what IKEA failed to take into consideration is that the typography component of design is a method by which we express the brand’s voice, and a significant portion of their customer base is design-centered. Most of the commentary critical of this change focuses on the future:

What does this mean for IKEA’s position as modernist thought leader?
Who will they turn to for leadership in affordable furnishings for their homes?
Who do they trust?

To better understand why this venture is risky, let’s first review a little background info on the three typefaces and their applications:

  • Futura is a modernist typeface designed during the Bauhaus years and uses the perky geometric forms of that day. Because of it’s geometric and modern design, Futura is often used for both display and body text applications. IKEA Sans is a slightly customized version of Futura designed by Robin Nicholas.
  • Century Schoolbook is a serif typeface based on research that showed young readers more easily identify letterforms that used contrasting weights. It also has a larger x-height and slightly increased tracking to further improve readability at smaller sizes, making it perfect for body text where it enhances communication. This feature is so critical that the Supreme Court of the US requires briefs to be typeset in Century.
  • Verdana, designed by Matthew Carter in 1994 for Microsoft, served a very specific application: on-screen use in websites. Verdana includes features that make it more legible on backlit monitors including: larger x-height, added tracking and enhanced pair kerning. It is the extra tracking and padding that make Verdana inferior for print use. As a display headline, all that padding and special kerning requires adjustment downward to increase readability. Thus, using Verdana in print actually makes more work for the print designer.

Typeface usage falls within two traditional categories and one new one: display, body and screen typefaces. Display fits larger needs such as headlines in ads and text on outdoor billboards. Body faces are appropriate for smaller text such as paragraphs and captions. Screen faces are exactly that, faces that increase readability on computer monitors or overhead projectors.

Yeah, Yeah—Get to the Point.

Most consumers don’t purposefully think about the exact ingredients that go into the products they buy or the brands they love. They don’t think about the thickness of steel on the body of a Mercedes or the method by which Mercedes applied the paint. They just know that it’s the color they want, it looks good and they trust that the engine won’t fail them. But if the paint job were flawed, you can bet they’d notice it immediately, and the integrity of the Mercedes brand is then open to debate. This is a great example of the invisibility of good design and engineering.

Likewise, Futura reflects the modern IKEA product ‘design equals function’ aesthetic and reinforces their modernist thought leadership position even though consumers don’t directly think about it each time they open the IKEA catalog. Century Schoolbook reinforces that modernism while increasing readability in body text and again, consumers don’t directly think about just how easy it is to read the tiny type in the catalog. It all just works and looks good.

Verdana is arguably the best sans-serif typeface for use on websites, its specific design purpose, but it has no basis in print. Typeface selection, along with color, imagery and other seemingly aesthetic design choices, directly affects functionality and has the power to affect our emotional connection to a brand, thereby playing a key role in maintaining the thought leadership position of a company.

While functionality is obviously measurable, the emotional connections are harder to attribute to design. This is why corporations, even IKEA, so often overlook them.

So, is IKEA thinking ahead of the curve or are they driving blind?

“Design is no longer just about form anymore but is a method of thinking that can let you to see around corners.”
Bruce Nussbaum
Editor, BusinessWeek’s innovation and design coverage

Very few corporations understand that good design plays a key role in building a thought leadership position. For example, companies like Apple, Target and Trader Joe’s all use design as a method of creating and retaining their respective leadership positions. Companies that pigeonhole design as marketing department fluff are not taking full advantage of their thought leadership tools.

IKEA became the thought leader in modern home furnishings by integrating design as a key brand-building component. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

By Julia Moran Martz

Using Creativity and Street Smarts to Survive a Recession.

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Everyone’s hurting right now and while you’re thinking you need to cut back on sales training, marketing and R&D, your biggest, baddest competitors have likely already done just that. Which means you have a unique opportunity to enter a new market or expand your existing share while the big boys aren’t looking. This is exactly what companies like Clif Bar, Method Products, Inc. and The Wine Group are doing.

Be Frugal In Your Design Decisions.

A great example of frugal design innovation is the development of Recession Wines by The Wine Group last year. They took advantage of recessionary wine purchasing trends (you know, the one where consumers drink more and cheaper wine at home than out and about with their friends) and created a low-price competitor to Two-Buck Chuck by saving money via packaging design. Using cheaper synthetic corks and a lighter bottle saved enough money per unit to allow offering a price under $5. This is a great example of using design frugality to achieve the lower price without skimping on the quality of the actual product.

And thanks to the up front legwork achieved by Two-Buck Chuck, consumers know that cheap wine doesn’t have to taste like floor cleaner. So new brands like Recession Wines don’t have to spend money changing consumer attitudes, they can instead focus on developing a great product and getting it to market.

Be Creative And Limber.

Limber up and be ready to try new things or take on the category gorillas like Method Products, Inc. did during the dotcom bust.

In 2001, after the massive dotcom failures, investors were afraid and ready for anything that wasn’t founded on questionable technologies. Using a friendlier logo, a more humanist approach overall, better design and easier, faster to read text allowed Method to take on the likes of P&G and SC Johnson. Method’s more casual and honest approach also tied directly into the green product trends consumers were starting to buy. These creative approaches, combined with truly green products, allowed Method to a get there faster and connect more quickly and firmly with consumers. Most importantly, it allowed them to compete more affordably during a recession when the 800-pound gorillas were asleep.

Seek Opportunities To Steal.

Most of your competitors will be scaling back their marketing programs to cut costs. They’ll even be laying off the people that watch out for companies like yours. This is your chance to steal more of the spotlight, and it will cost less to do so during a recession. Ad rates can be more favorably negotiated. Ditto with vendor costs. And don’t forget, any customers you snag during this difficult time will still be your friends when the market recovers.

This is exactly what happened when Clif Bars entered the market in 1992 and challenged Powerbar, the industry front-runner. Powerbar owned the market; there was no serious competitor. But with a recession in play, the field leveled and Clif Bar stole the ball.

Taking more care to research the market and spending more time in R&D allowed Clif Bar to create a much better tasting product and enter through bike shops rather than grocery outlets. Couple this with vendors so desperate for a sale they’d risk doing business with a start-up, and Clif Bar was in business.

Don’t Wait For An Invitation.

Experts think the recession is starting to wane, which means you don’t have much time left. So stop wasting paper and pixels on fluff, and focus on more human-to-human, conversational tones. Adjust both your visual and verbal messages to your customers. Their needs have shifted and so too should your messages. Ensure you’re meeting consumers’ design needs whether it’s larger type for boomers or less costly production materials for the newly unemployed.

Think beyond traditional media by considering social media tools to more directly connect to your target market. During a recession, many consumers are at home, in front of their computers, communicating through social networking tools. You should be there, too.

And certainly don’t skimp on communicating superior quality during a recession. Especially with high-ticket items that consumers will be married to for years to come. This is a time when they’re going to be especially critical of cheaper durable goods that could be a waste of their hard-earned dollars.

And above all, innovate as if your life depended on it, because in a recession, your company’s life does. Now go out there and get scrappy, dang it!

By Julia Moran Martz

Does Print Advertising Still Work?

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Don’t get me wrong. I use web-based media everyday. Some of it I enjoy. Some of it I find highly useful in both my business and personal life. I also advise my customers to use it as part of their media plan, and several of them are printers. So this is not a rant against non-traditional media by any means.

At the same time, many companies seem to be over compensating in their move toward electronic media. Granted it has some nice features like being relatively inexpensive, very fast and easily tracked. Everyone loves to walk into their supervisor’s office and point to clickthroughs, landing page downloads and all the other neat things you learn from an online campaign.

But keep in mind that a Parks Associates study reported by MarketingProfs found that 21 percent of Americans had never visited a website, sent an email or used a search engine. And if you are an international company, more than 40 percent of the populations of highly developed countries like France, Belgium and Austria never use the Internet. Even with high connectivity rates in nations like Japan and Taiwan, the numbers escalate to an incredible 85 percent in Asia.

Using Online Media Exclusively Can Shortchange Results

Online media is not necessarily a “be all, end all” solution for reasons that go beyond connectivity? Even among people who do use the Internet, print may actually perform better than online alternatives for certain objectives? Well, let’s ease into this for those who are diehard online media advocates.

First of all, there is a recent Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) study indicating that the combination of print magazine advertising with online advertising at the publisher’s website is the best performing media blend available. This supports a number of previous studies showing that marketing campaigns having the greatest impact on the purchasing decision use a synergistic media combination.

Data Support Print

In fact, data indicate that throughout the purchase funnel, magazines are the most consistent performers versus other media studied. Across an aggregate of 20 studies, magazines produced a positive result in more stages of the purchase funnel, and in more ad campaigns, than TV or online. Check out these findings.


Aggregate Trends Across the Purchase Funnel


Total Brand Awareness Brand Familiarity Brand Imagery Purchase Intent
Magazines 78% 93% 82% 80%
TV 69% 69% 68% 57%
Online 56% 67% 57% 26%
Percentage of 20 Studies in Which Overall Purchase Metrics Were Positively Influenced by Medium
Source: Magazine Publishers of America study conducted by Marketing Evolution

Particularly noteworthy was that across the five advertising categories studied, magazines ranked first in influencing purchase intent in all but electronics where it came in a close second to television.

Purchase Intent Lift by Category

Magazines Television Online
Automotive +5% +3% +2%
Entertainment +6% +1% +4%
Electronics +3% +4% 0%
General +4% +1% +1%
Pharmaceuticals +3% +2% 0%
Source: Magazine Publishers of America study conducted by Marketing Evolution

Key findings from the research confirm that:

  • For brand familiarity and purchase intent, magazines generate a superior cost per impact (CPI) than either TV or online.
  • For brand awareness TV leads in cost efficiency, and the efficiency of magazines is a close second to that of TV.
  • Magazines most consistently generated a favorable ROI throughout the purchase funnel, followed by TV.
  • While each category that Marketing Evolution examined (auto, entertainment, electronics, and pharmaceuticals) showed a unique profile, the overall pattern held across the individual categories.

What This Means to You

Unless you’ve completely put blinders on to anything but online media, this should trigger a call to action. If you believe in the value of a media mix and have a true commitment to maximizing ROI, then it’s time to take a hard look at your plan. Chances are you’ll find print advertising under-represented, to say nothing of under-appreciated. The potential ROI gains you’ll receive from adding print advertising are very likely greater than any you’ll receive from repeating ads in other media.

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox Creative Group can help you develop a winning media strategy as well as create winning ad campaigns from concept through creative execution. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

You can connect with Julia Moran Martz on LinkedIn. Or follow her on Twitter.

Yes, Virginia, spam does affect the environment.

Well, now we finally know for certain, spam does have a carbon footprint and it’s incredibly large. Size 33B (B for billion kilowatt hours) to be precise. To view it differently:

  • That’s enough energy to power 2.4 million homes.
  • Each spam has a footprint of .3 grams of CO2.
  • The 62 trillion spams sent annually roughly equal driving around the planet 1.6 million times.

What’s more, spam filtering can reduce that figure by 75% which is the equivalent of eliminating 2.3 million cars.

The Carbon Footprint of Email Spam Report was commissioned by McAffee and you can download the paper here.

What does this mean for emarketers?

One more reason not to spam.

While seemingly easy, eliminating outgoing spam can actually be a challenge to implement. How do you know if your company is guilty of spamming? What is the definition of spam? And if you follow the letter of the law (US CAN-SPAM Act), why isn’t that enough? And even if you’re doing everything right, you’ve still got folks on your back wondering why you don’t just buy email lists from anyone on the Internet.

Let’s take these one at a time:

  • How do you know if your company is spamming? There are several clues you can look for:
    1. Do your email reports show large numbers of spam reporting?
    2. Are your email campaigns getting increasingly blocked by more and more servers?
    3. Did you buy an email list of people your company doesn’t know or have a relationship with?
    4. Do you just have a bad feeling in your gut?
  • What is the correct definition of spam? This is easy and yet somehow complex too:
    1. Spam is defined by the recipient, NOT the sender or the sender’s government. If the recipient thinks your email is spam, guess what? It is.
    2. Even so, many governments are attempting to define spam as well. And each government has their own variation on laws governing ‘unsolicited email’. The US law is one of the most lenient, allowing anyone to send email to anyone else so long as certain rules are followed. Those rules include showing a postal address and allowing a valid opt out option, among others. Read the US CAN-SPAM Act for more details, but realize that if your email list includes folks in, say, Australia, your rules are going to be much more strict.
    3. The third party to define spam are the corporations that make spam blocking software for ISPs. These folks have a tough job, creating spam-blocking parameters for use in any country. That’s one reason why they tend to be the most strict when it comes to determining what emails are spam. Their software looks for key features of emails that serve as triggers and get that email blocked at the ISP level. AND they’re always updating their parameters. For instance, it’s common knowledge now that including a lot of all caps or the word ‘FREE’ in your subject line will likely get you blocked. There are also more persnickety triggers like copious amounts of specific colors or images that are ‘too’ large. And of course, a plethora of coding triggers that we won’t go into here.
  • Why isn’t it enough to just follow the US CAN-SPAM Act?
    1. Easy, the United States government doesn’t make the spam blocking software that is used by ISPs around the world and the government is not reading your email to determine if it is spam. SO, the government really doesn’t have a roll to play in whether or not your email gets through and gets read. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t follow the laws of the country where your email recipients reside, US or not. Definitely follow the laws or you could be sued. Just realize that following the laws does not guarantee that your email will be successful.
    2. AND remember, the US CAN-SPAM Act is not transferable to other countries. Many countries now have their own laws and if you’re emailing to other countries, it’s your company’s responsibility to abide by these laws.
  • What to do about those folks breathing down your neck to get you to buy the biggest email list you can, hoping for that traditional 1% direct marketing return? This is tougher because these folks may be your boss, or your boss’s boss. They may not give a hoot about getting email permission from people on your list or following the laws of the country in which your recipients reside. This is your opportunity to shine by educating them before they force the company to make a big mistake. Get your ducks in a row and discuss the following:
    1. Review everything we’ve discussed above, and in as much depth as the bosses can handle. Most bosses just want the bottom line, so be prepared to state what that is and support it with facts when they protest.
    2. Remind them that despite what THEY think, if the recipient thinks their email is spam, it not only IS spam but that perception directly affects the value of their brand, which is likely reflected on the books.
    3. Remind them that building brand trust and loyalty are hard and being perceived as a spammer will undermine these activities.
    4. And one more thing, let’s go back to what started this discussion: the environment. If your company has a green plan, spamming negatively affects any efforts you make to lessen the carbon footprint and communicate any green initiatives in place. Creating a corporate Anti-Spam Policy can and should also be a segment of your Green Policy. This is also good for your brand.

The obvious lesson here is simple: be a good company and treat your customers with respect. Don’t abuse them, give them what they want, and IF they want you to email coupons to them monthly, do it. If they want you to update them on product upgrades via email, do it. If they don’t, respect their wishes.

Of course, if you’re the authentic manufacturer of a certain little blue pill, I wish you luck. You may never be able to use email marketing due to the spammers that came first.

—Julia

Cracking The Tagline Nut.

traumanut-250The Great Recession presents an excellent opportunity to examine the relevance of your tagline. How you position yourself now and, equally importantly, as the economy improves has more significance than ever. Most marketing analysts believe that the unprecedented economic conditions are accelerating long-term marketplace changes.

So it’s a great time to think about your business, how it fits into the future and whether or not your tagline contributes to what you want customers to know about your company in the emerging marketplace. Is it dated, or does it express something that will resonate with the needs of your target audience?

What’s the Purpose of a Tagline, Anyway?

Conveying your company’s key brand message is the primary function of a tagline. If a customer or prospect gets nothing else from your messaging, you want them to remember the tagline message. But being memorable isn’t all that easy, and bad taglines from companies of all sizes litter the marketing landscape.

According to Mike Myatt, chief strategy officer of venture growth consultancy, N2Growth, “A tagline is the new media version of a company slogan. It can be a mantra, company statement or even a guiding principle that is used to create an interest in your company, product or service.”

Further, he points out that a tagline is not to be confused with a unique selling proposition, which is a value statement that communicates what sets your business, product or service apart from the competition. While a unique value proposition helps your company align strategy with positioning and execution, a tagline is a pure piece of marketing copy that sums up what you do or what you want the marketplace to know about your products or services.

“Perfect” Tagline Criteria

According to Timothy R V Foster, author of “How Ad Slogans Work” for howstuffworks.com and founder of Ad Slogans Unlimited, the ideal tagline fulfills several criteria in addition to being memorable:

  • Includes a key benefit (Holiday Inn: “Pleasing people the world over” versus Exxon: “We’re Exxon.”
  • Differentiates the brand (Timex: Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.)
  • Recall the brand name. Techniques like rhyming can help (“See the USA in your Chevrolet.”). An alternative is to rhyme without mentioning the name (Paul Masson: “We will sell no wine before its time.”)
  • Impart positive feelings about the brand. Negativity rarely works in book titles, politics or advertising (Coca-cola: “Coke is it!” versus Lea & Perrins: “Steak sauce only a cow could hate.”).
  • Not be usable by a competitor. Some taglines could fit any organization (TRW: “A company called TRW.”). You could drop in any name and it works. Foster points out that he has nearly 30 companies in his database with the tagline, “Simply the best.”
  • Strategic. You might be able to convey your strategy through a tagline (DuPont: “Better things for better living through chemistry.).
  • Trendy. This is dangerous territory, though some companies are trying, for example, to create single-word taglines (Nissan: “Driven.”). But it’s a tough challenge. A trendy variation is to use three words or ultra-short phrases, which helps with complex messages (Monsanto: “Food. Health. Hope,” or the all-time category classic, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies: “Snap! Crackle! Pop!”).

Getting Started

Get your team together and don’t be intimidated. Start by brainstorming a long list. Don’t get hung up on word counts at the beginning. You can always whittle the words down later, but you don’t want to sacrifice potentially good messages too early. Then test your best ideas with internal and external colleagues, trusted customers and even some random reviewers. A wider range of participants in the critiquing process will help assure that your tagline has clarity.

Remember too, that you may need multiple taglines. While you’ll only want one, of course, as the overall positioning message, you may want taglines for your corporate newsletters, a customer education program and other marketing activities. In both of these instances, you would want to come up with an original name and a tagline that adds further clarity.

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox Creative Group can help you develop winning taglines from concept through creative execution. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

You can connect with Julia Moran Martz on LinkedIn. Or follow her on Twitter.

By Larry Bauer

Tagline Do’s & Don’ts.

donut-250We love giving you the confidence that lets you sleep well at night. To avoid tossing and turning during your next tagline change, use this value tagline do’s and don’ts checklist.

Do

  • Strive to be memorable in a positive way.
  • Collect and critique other companies’ taglines.
  • Keep it short—3-6 believable words are ideal.
  • Make the words match your core services.
  • Create a customer persona and write to that.
  • Be clear, not cryptic.
  • Choose clear over clever if you must make a choice.
  • Be as specific as possible about what you do, whom you serve, etc.—especially if you are a smaller company.
  • Be bold, provocative, engender trust, build confidence.
  • Test your tagline.

Don’t

  • Be too generic.
  • Elicit a negative or sarcastic reaction—it must be believable.
  • State a benefit that might be questionable for your company (see above).
  • Use corporate-speak or jargon.
  • Merely describe what you do—“Serving all your printing needs,” etc.
  • Sound pompous.
  • Forget to summarize and sell—it’s a pure marketing message you’re creating.
  • Use overused words in your industry—“solutions” in the tech sector, etc.
  • Open with clichéd benefits—saves time, etc.
  • Argue with critics if they’re not getting the message—strongly consider reworking it.

Tagline and Jingle Inspiration Source. If you want to see taglines and jingles to stoke your creative fires, visit Tagline Guru. You’ll find long lists of each from some well-known companies in a wide range of sectors. It’s fun to see the different taglines that an individual company used over the years, which can provide ammunition to make the case that things change, and so should your tagline. There’s also a ranked list of the “100 Most Influential Taglines Since 1948,” as well as the “30 Most Influential Jingles Since 1948.” See if you agree.

By Larry Bauer

Avoid Direct Mail Design Doom.

brando-250Folks in the business, like me, are generally the most critical of what works for direct mail and what doesn’t. While some designers will be focused more on what they can do to win their next award, the better ones realize that awards given for design rather than results are not what’s most important. Successful results for our clients and their customers are the ultimate goal.

Now don’t mistake that for a license to create something completely cluttered and too busy to be legible, too ugly to leave out in the open or too poorly printed to be taken seriously. Even the ubiquitous used car salesman needs to be taken seriously and trusted long enough to make the sale.

In a nutshell, you have three goals to achieve in mere seconds:

  1. Grab attention/look legit.
  2. Engage.
  3. Compel to act.

That’s it. How you accomplish these goals is up to you, but you can learn from those who’ve come before.

Design Tips

Even if you’ve done everything right, decent response rates can still be tough to snag. So let’s assume your list is dead-on, your offer is proven and your brand is strong. What else should you be looking out for to nail that extra response rate beyond the “barely surviving” 1-2% rates experienced by many direct mailers? In no particular order:

  • Avoid stock images that are already used and seen everywhere. Look for the unique and if you can afford it, create unique imagery that no one else will ever have. And make sure it supports your brand’s personality. I received two direct mail post cards, each with a man wearing a dress shirt and tie, same camera angle. Not even the same photo, but I laughed anyway (after which, they ended up in the trash receptacle).
  • Invest in a quality product photo. Don’t include a product photo that’s taken off your website or shot poorly. Make sure the product is clear and details are visible if needed. If it’s food, make it drool worthy.
  • Don’t use paper that’s wimpy. Makes you look wimpy and cheap, like a poorly fitting suit or worse yet, a limp handshake. Ick!
  • Do use bumps in enclosed envelopes. They significantly increase your open rate. Just make sure your envelope is sturdy enough for the bump so it doesn’t break through. And particularly if it’s a large mailing, be certain to check out mailing costs.
  • Snipes, bursts, intercepts—a designer’s nightmare. Yeah, designers hate these because they’re ugly. Yes, they are truly ugly. But in the right situation, under the right light, with the right neighboring elements and the right message, an intercept can be the right thing to do. Just don’t use it to say something lame. Make it purposeful and make absolutely certain it supports the primary goal of the direct mail rather than confusing the message.
  • Keep your direct mail focused on a single goal. You’re not creating a catalog here. Get to the point quickly and don’t be too wordy (or graphicky) about it. Time is of the essence. You have mere seconds. Seconds!
  • Make sure the format of your direct mail is appropriate to your goal. Small ticket item? Consider using a post card. Selling a $500 watch? Better send a brochure with a lifestyle message and ditch the intercepts, keep it classy. Looking for donations? A cover letter is in order along with a good story about where the money’s going.
  • Don’t ignore your brand’s personality and look. Just because it’s ‘direct mail’ and we previously told you not to worry about the color of the sky, you can’t abandon your brand’s personality either. And I’m not just talking about the logo. If your brand is as classy a brand as, say, Tiffany’s, you’d better not skimp on quality. Fail to print the right turquoise or remember to focus on what sells (i.e. sparkle) and your mailing is sure to go south. However, if you’re brand is kitschy by nature, include that kitschy look in your direct mail.
  • Don’t convolute your product with a misleading or meandering story. Stay on point and be clear and concise.
  • Don’t forget the incentive. Whether direct or implied, make sure it’s there. Is it 15% off the first purchase? Is it a gentle reminder not to forget a holiday like Valentine’s Day or Father’s Day coupled with an offer? Direct mail is not the best tool for corporate or brand awareness, but it is perfect for timely incentives.
  • Be careful if using teasers on the cover with the complete thought on the inside. Doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it’s hard to do well. Most folks won’t take the time. In fact, eight out of 10 trash advertising mail instantly. The remaining two will take only a few seconds to make a decision. If it doesn’t peak their interest, in the trash it goes. If it doesn’t appeal to them viscerally, in the trash it goes.
  • Don’t underestimate a good design’s ability to create a positive gut reaction. But steer clear of designers who want to make your text too small (unreadable in the hallway light) or writers who think they’re writing general advertising copy.
  • Scanning trumps actual reading. Make your direct mail scannable. Once you’ve landed folks with the key points they’re looking for, feed them the details. And remember, your headlines matter more than your body text in direct mail, but you still need body copy that provides necessary information in a clear and concise manner. Make every word earn its space.
  • Too many screamers (that’s exclamation points to you writers). Looks cheesy and desperate. Don’t do this!!!!! (Yeah, that.)

Whether your direct mail is 3-dimensional or flat, making sure your strategy, design and offer fit the targets is the best way to improve your ROI.

By Julia Moran Martz

Award-winning packaging gains global attention.

The power of the Internet never ceases to amaze me. Ditto with the size of our planet. One of our clients’ brands has been hitting the blogosphere with a vengeance the past few months, all without a marketing budget. I attribute the notoriety to quirky and good design, a very unique product concept, and clever writing, not to mention that our client obviously knew and understood the target demographic quite well.

spiceoutfit_pd

A while back we created The Spice Outfit® brand of spice blends for CCC Brands of Chicago. Tom, CCC Brands president, approached us with an idea for a series of specialty blends under a Chicago Mob-related theme. He’d already been doing some serious research on the subject and had his target markets and sales channels all mapped out.

The resulting product packaging won an American Package Design Award and is garnering attention in no less than nine different countries, blog after blog. The Dieline and Lovely Package likely being the most popular. Packaging Digest Magazine has also covered the story of The Spice Outfit.

Who knew Mob-related packaging could be such a huge hit? This project was honestly one of the most fun we’ve worked on since starting MondoVox in 2000.

Cheers!

Julia