Tag Archives: branding

Write like a 5th grader to make more money

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough,” – Albert Einstein.

Let me explain what he means: Your copy should be #basic. Overly-complicated copy is filled with adjectives, adverbs, countless clauses, technical terms and business jargon. This is costing you money.

The science behind it is hiding right under your fingertips and within your favorite word processing software. Microsoft Word is equipped with this fun little tool called the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, which is a formula that determines how easy-to-read your copy is to the average American.

The idea was born of the “plain language” movement in the 1960s, which itself was an attempt to increase the comprehensibility of government documents. It has since been fleshed out to become a very useful metric for marketers and advertisers to tailor copy to their targeted audience.

Brand experts will tell you that the key to writing a killer slogan or tagline is for it to be memorable, emote positivity, and differentiate the brand from its competitors. All of this is true, but what is missing is the simplicity of language.

Are writers allergic to simplicity? They shouldn’t be, considering the most successful slogans are also the most plain: Nike’s “Just do it.” McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It.” Visa’s “It’s everywhere you want to be.” 

Keep it simpleThis is vital to ensuring that your brand doesn’t become trapped and die in its primary channel or media. How does a brand come to life across all its touch points and in a consistent manner? Through consistency in product design and software – all of which translate to a cohesive experience.

There are visible and physical languages, said Michael Lenz, Director, Global Brand Experience and Design at Cisco, but the human touch – using words to fulfill the brand promise – is often what is missing.

You don’t change your identity when switching jobs or locations, so why would your business change its voice depending on the channel? The marketing. The labels. The colors. All should deliver on your brand’s promise. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then take into account that the average Cisco user has 3,200 touch points. It hasn’t always been easy for them, either.

They knew there was a problem when one customer wrote-in, “I am a solid Cisco fan, but how many hours do they expect me to waste trying to understand their shit?” Yikes.

The problem was that no one understood what the hell Cisco was talking about. They had to undergo a massive overhaul to remove any engineering or product developer “speak” within their copy. It took several revisions, but the resulting copy became short and relevant; bold and human, Lenz said.

No one wants to read copy that is “too” anything: too educational, technical or clunky. Have you ever read Insurance policy packets? Painful. French author Marcel Proust? Brutal.

The next time you sit down to write, imagine that you’re a musician or composer. Consider that writing words on the page is no different than scribbling down musical notes to draft a song. Words, sentences, paragraphs and pages also need a melody and an obvious beat to them.

So, channel Taylor Swift the next time you’re tasked with drafting an article, marketing email or advertising copy. Her songs are so successful because they’re repetitive (most people must see or hear phrases eight-to-nine times before it sticks), but mostly because they’re simple.

 

Simplify your readability in these four steps:

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Office button image, and then click Word Options.
  2. Click Proofing.
  3. Make sure Check grammar with spelling is selected.
  4. Under When correcting grammar in Word, select the Show readability statistics check box.
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EXPERT INSIGHTS: MARKET RESEARCH FOR BRAND INNOVATION

How do you define brand?

“At its core, a brand is a promise to consumers. What will consumers get when they purchase a product or service under your brand umbrella? The brand promise incorporates more than just those tangible products and services. It also includes the feelings that consumers get when they use your products and services.” – Branding Strategy Insider

I asked four market research experts from MTV, J.P. Morgan, Meijer International and Union Bank to answer what that questions means to them.

This is what they said:

“In our world, it’s the brand of the company. As a retailer, this is tricky, because we sell products for many well-known brands. That said; we define brand as what our company Brad Hilemanstands for (services, products, etc.) and how we want customers to perceive us. We’re tasked with bringing the brand to life through content and creative, so it’s really about how we communicate through tone, visuals and story.”

– Brad Hileman, Director of Digital, Brand Development, Meijer Inc.

“The way a customer remembers you.”Xavier Corona

– Xavier Corona, Vice President, Sr. Marketing Manager-Multicultural and GCM
Corporate Marketing, Consumer Lending, Union Bank

Michael Rosenberg

“Brand is the public ‘image’ or ‘perception’ of a given company. Brand is more than just a logo or name, it’s the “embodiment of a company and its’ values to the public.”

– Michael Rosenberg, Managing Director, Corporate and Investment Bank Marketing,
J.P. Morgan

alison hillhouse“Any brand that is turning old models on their heads, for example, mattress companies Caspar and Tuft & Needle that are calling BS on the outdated and opaque mattress industry model. These new brands offer Millennials exactly what they want – perfect design in both product and communications, transparent product details, free trials with no commitment, convenience, affordability and promise of perfection. Industries that try to pull the wool over consumers’ heads like Sleepy’s are dead. Millennials won’t stand for them.”

– Alison Hillhouse, Vice President of Insights Innovation, MTV

The Top 5 Reasons to Outsource Your Marketing

Marketing isn't as easy as 1-2-3.
Marketing isn’t as easy as 1-2-3.

Marketing is simple, right? Everyone is aware of the boxes that need to be checked: Launch a website and set up a Facebook page and Twitter account. Perhaps you assign someone on your business development team the task of maintaining a corporate blog with the goal of posting several times per week. You create a strategy, an agenda and an editorial calendar. Then, you sit back and wait for your plan
to take hold and gain attention, traction and a countless number of clients.

But, sometimes not everything goes to plan. Maybe you hit a plateau of Facebook likes or you realized you’re not quite sure what to post on Twitter. Perhaps you have a sneaking suspicion that no one is reading your blog posts. Slowly, your enthusiasm and interest in your marketing plan dwindles and it’s clear that there is no proven return on investment of your time and resources. You’re not sure anyone is hearing your message and you don’t know how to track your campaigns.

Don’t lose heart. The digital age is among us and establishing your brand online is a must. What you need is a digital marketing plan that includes Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC), content creation, blog integration and social media. Entire marketing firms, such as Cirgenski Marketing, exist to evaluate and execute upon marketing strategies. The firm spends days, weeks and months perfecting marketing plans. You’re not in that business, so why do you expect yourself to be a marketing maven on their level?

Placing your marketing in the hands of experts with the know-how to execute tailored plans is just one reason to consider outsourcing your advertising and branding goals. Outsourcing saves you time. It says you money. Consider that running an effective online marketing campaign will cost you at least $3,000 per month, according to Forbes. The truth is your competitors are most likely spending several times that amount. If that number seems exorbitant to you, keep in mind that hiring an in-house marketing and SEO professional will cost at least $50,000 per year at a base level. An experienced professional will demand upwards of $70,000 depending on your location.

Outsourcing not only saves you money, but it also ensures that your message will be heard. But, there are even more benefits than that. Let’s take a look at the top 5 reasons you should outsource your marketing campaigns.

Reduced overhead

There’s no need to hire additional personnel when you choose to outsource your marketing. Not only will you save $50k+ in salary and benefits – depending on your location – but you can also avoid or reduce costs spent on office space, overhead and hardware.

Increased time management

Even if you have your own marketing department, outsourcing at least some of your marketing spend will free up your in-house personnel to focus on strategy instead of “busy work.” Your team will have the ability to play to their strengths and focus on branding deliverables as well as the business’s core focus.

The gift of impartiality and neutrality

Sometimes it’s hard to separate yourself from your marketing plan. Of course you believe in your product and service – if you didn’t, why would you be in business? By outsourcing your marketing you will have a fresh set of eyes on what you truly have to offer and, conversely, what it is that your clients and/or customers need and want. Outsourced marketing agencies identify and deploy depending upon the company’s goals and its budget alone without being bogged down by a clouded vision.

Expanded talent and creative pool

Your staff can’t do it all. Perhaps they excel at email marketing, but their skillset is not up to par in SEO or PPC. Outsourcing allows you to be more agile on complex projects that require acute understanding on numerous components of the marketing plan. While you might not be able to hire in-house for the functions that you need, outsourcing allows for the ability to enjoy new, innovative and creative ideas and energy at half the cost.

A fresh perspective

This leads to the last benefit of outsourcing: A fresh perspective that is not influenced or handcuffed by an established company culture. It might not be for lack of dedication or ability, or even resources, but perhaps your team may not be able to see the forest for the trees. Oftentimes marketers become too involved with their functions that they forget or are unable to take a step back and analyze their strategies from the customer’s perspective. An outsourcing team often provides the fresh, objective perspective that is so hard to maintain.

It’s clear by now that outsourcing marketing is a viable option. But, who should you trust to handle this very important function? You need a firm who will evaluate your current marketing programs to identify where there are opportunities for optimization.

This includes taking a close look at your top competitors and identifying/developing your differentiation and key advantages over them. If clients already have a marketing plan in place, firms such as Cirgenski Marketing look at key indicators such as the marketing mix and implement solutions to find the best opportunities suitable for your business’s end goals. Next, they develop a customized integrated marketing plan which includes recommendations for the top prioritized marketing initiatives that all will provide the best results. What better outcome is there?

Inc. 500 Ranks Asentra Corp. 16th in List of Advertising and Marketing Firms

Exciting news from a client (of course I wrote the press release)! Congratulations to Asentra.

HONOLULU, H.I. – Asentra Corporation has been named one of the fastest-growing companies in America by Inc. 500. The company ranked 16th among Advertising and Marketing firms and 98th overall in the annual September list. Asentra Corp., which is one of the largest outsourcers of telemarketing services with more than 200,000 customers worldwide, is the first direct marketing firm to make the list two years in a row. The company saw a 3,040-percentage growth rate in three years and plans to create more than 500 jobs in the U.S. in 2013.

“We are proud to be on the Inc. 500’s list of the top fastest growing private companies in America. We plan to continue to grow and provide the best services to our clients and customers,” said Asentra CEO, Dave Grubler.

Asentra Assurance Plan, a division of Asentra Corp., offers full warranties for mobile devices starting at $14.95 per month. The warranty plan covers iPhones, iPads, Blackberries, tablets and eReaders, and has no deductible or co-pay. Asentra also offers a lemon policy, technical support, an extended, five-year warranty and unlimited claims and yearly usage. Similar plans offered by competitors such as BestBuy and Apple range from $99-$180, with a one-year warranty and co-pay costs starting at $99. Competitor’s plans do not include used handheld devices, liquid and accidental damage or data recovery.

Asentra was founded in 2001 and operates in five different countries with more than 200,000 customers worldwide. It is the fastest-growing company in Hawaii and the fastest-growing direct response agency in the U.S. In 2011, the company’s revenues totaled $8.6 million. It is an Inc. 500 award recipient company with corporate offices in Honolulu, H.I., and regional offices in Connecticut, Florida, North Dakota and California.

Asentra is the highest-rated and most consumer-friendly assurance plan for your cell phone and hand-held appliances. With a 50-year-plus of combined leadership, AAP is a global leader in warrantee and assurance programs. For more than a decade, AAP has revolutionized the extended warranty & assurance program industry while maintaining the highest level of customer satisfaction. For more information, visit http://www.Asentra.com.