Still Playing the Guessing Game with Your Ad Campaign?

Test TubesLong are the days when I stayed up late for hours, researching and writing my college marketing papers. So much time went into getting an ‘A’ on a paper, but in the real world, it seems like everything is streamlined and less effort is put into blog posts, advertising campaigns, web design, or copy writing.

 

We send out tweets within seconds, post Facebook messages and Instagram pics instantly. We try to gain attention without really knowing what is working best.

 

So, where should we start?

 

We must first open our minds to the possibility that our trusted convictions might be wrong.

Some of the known practices in advertising DO NOT WORK. What am I talking about? After going to an SEM conference in 2013, I learned that rotating carousels distract viewers and your messaging can be diluted. Sure, they look nice, but they have bad conversion rates. Maybe you already knew that.

 

Test Everything: Best Practices are Dead Until You Test Them

  • Why? Because it focuses the results on what your customers want, not what you think they want. Who cares what you want if it’s not working?!
  • Overemphasizing that you have a secure website or creating BIG SWOOPING ARROWS likely won’t help.
  • If you’re writing copy for radio, use different telephone numbers (or website urls) to test the effectiveness of the radio copy.

 

Start with what your objective is.

Are you trying to get conversions or drive traffic? How long are you committed to your objective before someone says ‘we need to make a change’? What does success look like?

 

How are you adding value?

Does your blog or advertising message deliver a relevant story and a powerful headline?

 

Do you have Clarity in your messaging?

If you have too much copy or too much activity going on it can be distracting for the visitor or listener.

 

Do you have a call to action?

Be smart and agile and willing to keep testing graphics, content, and copy until your desired goals are met.

 

When is the last time you tested an ad campaign? What happened?

 

Resources: WiderFunnel

Want help asking better questions?

Use Your Gifts to Build Your Brand

Origami Christmas tree and giftsThanks to the Yahoo article by Chris Nichols last year, I discovered two incredible young girls who took their passion for origami to help serve others. In all, Katherine and Isabella Adams used their passion for creating origami gifts to help raise well over $100,000 for their charity, Paper for Water.

Everyone has a gift.

If you think about some of the struggles you’ve had in your life, chances are your experience could be a valuable asset to someone else. That’s one of your gifts, a gift to be shared. A gift is part of your brand. Or maybe you used to play the piano or sing in the choir and haven’t used your gift in a while. Well, maybe it’s time to dust off the ivory or those dancing shoes and think about how you can use that gift to help others. The Adams family contacted one of their local Starbucks to see if they would display their origami Christmas ornaments to help raise money for charity. They sold out of their 35 ornaments in one day.

Build Alliances.

Whether it’s a manager at a local Starbucks or a manager at a local car dealership, I’m sure there is someone you know that could help you display your wares or help mentor you on how to get your gift, even if it’s intangible, out to the audience who would appreciate it. How many friends do you have on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or just in your email contact list? What if you sent a short and compelling story out to your friends asking for them to forward your message out to their lists? A friend of mine did that and raised hundreds of dollars to provide well checks and immunizations for children in need in one day through gofundme.com. Or, find a business that can benefit from you writing about them in your blog and how you can connect that business to a worthy cause marketing project. Develop a relationship with people who can benefit from your experience, but don’t be afraid to ask for help from people who likely will not benefit from your talent. Many people you think will help out, won’t, and vice versa. You don’t know until you ask.

Duplicate yourself.

Fortunately through gaining attention from their local paper, The Dallas Morning News, and the relationships within their church, the Adam’s girls’ efforts were duplicated through volunteer help. If you are serving others with passion, others will likely catch your fever. There is a reason the root in influenza is influence. Be persistent. Spread the news. Don’t give up on your passion. Build your brand. Write about it and let others find ownership within your project to help others.

If you are trying to build your brand through an online platform, blog, or just need some help finding your vision for: writing, business, or ministry project, drop us a line.

The Power of Lincoln’s Message

Old Photo of Abraham LincolnToday marks the 150 year Anniversary of The Gettysburg Address, one of the best-known speeches ever given, especially in American history. President Abraham Lincoln delivered the message on Thursday, November 19, 1863, four and a half months after the Union Army defeat the Confederate Army at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Ironically, in his address, Lincoln humbly said that ‘the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here’, paying his respects and pointing to those who gave their lives at Gettysburg and the founding principles written in 1776, referring to the Declaration of Independence. The two-hour oration of Edward Everett, given before Lincoln’s brief remarks, was slated to be the ‘The Gettysburg Address’.

Refined Messaging 

It’s been said by speech makers and orators that it’s much more difficult to give a brief message than to deliver a lengthy one. With a lengthy one, few details need to be sifted out. While lengthy addresses like Edward Everett’s were common in his era, many people today do not have the attention span to embrace a two-hour speech, distilling as we listen. While Abraham Lincoln had not been feeling well that day, he delivered a powerful and well refined message that excellently summarized the American Civil War and the virtues of the American democracy.

When it comes to your brand messaging, brevity is always appreciated. Get down to business quickly. Do not waste your clients’ time. If a sentence does not add to the effectiveness of your speech or brand message, delete it. Also, be clear what your intentions are. Throughout his leadership, Abraham Lincoln wrote and spoke with clarity, consistency, and brevity in his messaging.

Clarity and Consistency

Abraham Lincoln was not only clear about his goals of uniting the states and abolishing slavery, he moved with great consistency. He dealt with many complex issues including the Civil War, Abolition, and the modernization of the American economy. He worked through much opposition from both his own Republican Party and the Democratic Party, while remaining steadfast in his beliefs. He held fast to both his religious beliefs and his beliefs in the foundation from which America was built. While he believed that all men are created equal, to be clear, he did not believe that men should be equal in all areas of life, but be given equal opportunity. After all, Abe was born in a poor family and was self-educated, but later became an astute politician and ranked as one of the most beloved U.S. presidents.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

 

How do we find another Abe, who clarified his care about both the expansion of the American economy and the expansion of liberty and freedom?

Does having a larger government mean less freedom of the citizenry? 

3 Immutable Laws of Branding: Violation Could Cause a Government Shutdown

Picture of debt clock from US Debt Clock dot org.Be Authentic

 

An amazing story of authenticity comes from our local friend turned nationally syndicated radio icon, Kidd Kraddick. He built one of the top radio morning shows brands in the country by being authentic. Sure, it didn’t hurt that he was astute, quick with his words, and naturally funny. However, few can question Kidd’s authenticity. After learning of complications before his daughter’s birth, he saw an outpouring of support from fans. He knew what a responsibility he had with the platform he had built. So, what did Kidd do? He used his brand platform for good. He gave thanks to God for the safety of his own daughter and used the gift of his brand and support of his listeners to help other families who had loved ones struggling with illnesses.

 

 

Conversely, too many brands are diluted by forcing an inauthentic message. Some DJs endorse products or charities that are not a good fit. Breast Cancer Awareness, which is a wonderful cause and one of the strongest cause marketing brands, has been adopted by hundreds of brands from: The NFL, consumer products, retailers, schools, and work places, while less popular and equally as deadly diseases remain unmatched. While adopting Breast Cancer Awareness within your brand will likely help gain support and will not necessarily harm your brand messaging, it may dilute it. How does the cause you support help your brand stand out or more importantly, how does it authentically address the needs of what ails your customers and / or their communities?

 

Control Your Messaging

 

It’s hard to control your brand messaging if you don’t have uniformity within the leadership of your company, organization, or government party. Regardless of what side of the aisle you are on, you have to admit that the Republican Party lacks uniformity and clarity in their platform messaging. The Affordable Care Act, which by most examples of which we have heard and read, not just an isolated example, is anything but affordable. Watch Fox News, CNN, listen to talk radio, read The Wall Street Journal, and just talk to people in your neighborhood, and in most cases reported, people will experience a drastic increase in their health care expenses, not decline. Yet, Republicans currently have a lower brand rating than the Democrats, who as of October 25th, still support this legislation. President Obama, knowing about the problems associated with the ACA, used his power to delay the mandate on businesses and unions for one year. Yet, even after his refusal to delay the individual mandate for ‘We the People’, his ratings haven’t dropped as much as the Republicans. Some Republicans think they should just try to get along, even if they violate their conservative spending principals, their authenticity. Others believe they should use a government shutdown to try to negotiate for an individual mandate delay. In business, when opposition strikes and preferably before it strikes, your messaging needs to be clear and plentiful, to ensure that your blog, website, online or off-line marketing, and all marketing and advertising messaging supports your brand or at least, does not contradict your online platform message.

 

Focus on Your Audience

 

In broadcasting, it’s easy to think of the old school ways of broadcasting a message instead of approaching the building of your brand as a conversation. It’s not just about broadcasting out to an audience, but listening to what is coming back. It’s the conversation economy. It’s about connecting with your audience in a meaningful way just as Kidd Kraddick did every day with his audience family. He brought them into his life daily. Conversely, if you sat a dinner party and did all the talking, your dinner guests would not return for seconds. It’s the same way in building your brand. Yes, being bold and trying something new and innovative is important, but testing your brand messaging is important too. Stop talking about what you have to sell and how your product is so great. Better yet, tell them how your product can solve a problem. Be like Apple, useful, not like the US Government, broken. Be authentic like Kidd, not like the average politician, who regardless of the messaging, many times does not follow through with focus on their audience, the American people.

RIP Kidd. Help support Kidd’s Kids here. www.kiddskids.com

 

What three companies or organizations have brand confusion? What’s the fix?

How to Use Social Media to Build Your Online Brand

social media buttons - Facebook, Twitter, and Google +When it comes to making a name and building your online platform for your company, social media is a great place to build a good reputation. You have to use this powerful tool correctly, however. Anything with this much potential for reward is generally high risk. Here are some tips on how to use social media for branding purposes.

 

Let’s start with the number of social media sites that you choose to use. An abandoned social media site isn’t good for your image, so you don’t want to take on more than your team can handle. You want to use at least two different social media sites. Four is probably the maximum for most companies. Faceboook, Twitter, and Instagram are three of the best sites that you can use for branding right now.

 

Content is one of the most time consuming parts of social media. To build trust in and respect for your brand, content needs to be accurate, unique, and engaging. Avoid posting all the same pictures to Instagram and Facebook and making all your tweets your status updates on Facebook. You also want to maintain the same tone (professional, fun, excited, etc.) on all of your accounts. You can’t be super serious on Facebook, type in all caps on Twitter, and then use teenage abbreviations in your Instagram comments. You don’t want to have brand confusion for people who follow you on all three sites.

 

Another important use of social media is to market your business in real time. Oreos became the talk of the Internet when they capitalized on the Superbowl power outage with a relevant ad posted to Twitter. You can even try using current news stories to promote conversation. Just be careful to consider the way a breaking story may develop so that you keep your brand out of anything potentially controversial. You can’t post something on the Internet, take it down when things go wrong, and hope that no one took a screenshot.

 

Finally, you have to respond to comments properly. Some antagonistic comments just need to be ignored. Some are legitimate complaints and require a prompt response. This is an opportunity to show consumers, in general, how your company handles concerns. Deleting negative posts and comments is counterproductive to branding your company in a proper way. Be sure to reward your biggest supporters, and provide incentives for people to like, +1, favorite, or retweet your content.

 

The right use of social media can be great for the reputation of your business and helpful in building your online platform.

 

Additional Source: http://www.inta.org/Programs/Pages/branding2013.aspx

Would You Build Your Foundation On Sand?

Picture of Platform Creator on Big Granite RockI remember the day, or should I say weeks, when my wife and I went looking for our first home. I loved the really big one with the vaulted ceilings and custom chair and crown molding. And it had a reasonable price tag. “This is the one”, I said. “Let’s keep looking”, she responded. Turns out the one I wanted was a nice home, but was on a very busy street. I’m thankful that my wife guided us to a quieter neighborhood that turned out to be a much better investment.

Build Your House on the Rock

When you are creating your online platform, are you pouring your foundation on rock or shifting sand? If you are running a B2B or B2C, are you connecting with the online marketplace in a meaningful way?

Three items to consider when building your online platform:

 

1). Consider what value your are bringing to the marketplace.

Are you promoting your business or offering added value? You can do both, but you may only have one chance to make a good impression online and consumers sense when you are pushing to sell them something. So, how do you sell something without seeming to be trying to sell something? If you are selling online, you may try leading with a Free or Low Cost offer that leads to introducing your primary product (E.G. “Free ring resizing” or a gift with purchase that leads to increasing sales of diamond jewelry). This is best applicable to establishing a new online platform or introducing a new product online and it’s a good way to collect contact information. If you are blogging, comment on others sites and be an encourager and sharer of good information and offer much more value to others than you expect in return.

 

2). Get clear about your messaging.

It’s important to know how to explain what you do or what you are selling in 15 to 20 seconds. Some call this an elevator pitch. Watch the video  (on this post) for a simple way to get clear about your messaging. People who visit your site will leave quickly if they are not clear about what you do or if they don’t see a value in what you offer. Integrate stories and or testimonials into your company and or product messaging.

 

3). Post relevant and timely content.

If you post new ways to use your product, new products or services, or simply relevant industry news, that is much better than having your latest post be about last year’s election. Boar’s Head used a clever social media tactic a few years ago, asking people to post stories on Facebook about a time when someone took their food. The winner received something free in return. I don’t remember what the free offer was, because that wasn’t the important draw. I thought it was a fun and clever topic and it worked for me.

If you are not adding value, not clear about your messaging, and not relevant, your online foundation will crack. People may visit your site once, but will likely never return. You don’t have to be perfect, but if you listen to what the marketplace is talking about online and you address the needs of your tribe, they will sense that you do care.

As Jesus said, do not be “like a foolish man who builds his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matt 7:26-27).

Use Your Platform to Become a Thought Leader

Man with picture of brainIt’s one thing to be a leader who is thoughtful, but it’s another to be a Thought Leader. Whether you intend to write a book, speak professionally, or define a market niche, the real leverage is found in becoming a Thought Leader. Think “Linchpin” ala Seth Godin. Dorie Clark has consulted such clients as Google and Yale University. In a recent HBR post she listed six steps for becoming a Thought Leader. At the top of the list is “Create a Robust Online Presence.” In other words, create a platform!

A platform is more than a website. Often our business at PlatformCreator involves following up behind the web builders to finish the job of creating the platform. A website is only a tool and you can no more create a platform with a website than you can build a house with a hammer. The messaging and methods are to the platform what the framing and lumber are to the house…

This process of creating your messaging, along with the methods and interaction it takes to create an effective platform, will also serve as excellent proving ground for you to become a Thought Leader.

When you think of a Thought Leader, you think of someone who has researched, written, spoken, and done the actual work in their niche. The process of creating your platform can be the same proving ground for you, by providing a framework for building credibility in at least three ways; blogging, listening, and networking.

 

The Blog

It could serve as the content for your future book. There’s even a site that can help you do this. The process of creating the content for your blog will provide the opportunity for you to experience the magic of writing down your thoughts and thinking more deeply about your work. Writing helps crystallize the ideas and the findings that will make you a Thought Leader.

 

The Listening Post

Use Google Reader as the tool for gathering intelligence about your field. The key is to create a large enough subscription base of trusted RSS sources that can then become your own search-able archive on a given pertinent topic.

 

Outreach is Vital

Using Social Media tools such as twitter, Facebook, and Google+ you can invite others into your thought laboratory. Consider it a conversation – not a bullhorn. Check out the comments of the relevant blogs to your area of expertise. Ask serious questions and provide thoughtful insights. You never know when you may find a kindred soul or another thought leader who gets excited about helping other thought leaders.

Now is the time to do the work. After all, 2013 is the year of the platform!

The world is waiting.

Are You Stretching Yourself?

Fred Smith Sr. 1915 - 2007

Fred Smith said, “People with 20 years’ experience really have a one year’s experience which they have repeated twenty times”. I think about the years I’ve spent trying to gain experience, hoping time would go by quickly, so that I could add years to my resume. But, having experience could mean I’ve done the wrong thing for 20 years.

A lot of people set out to accomplish very little with their lofty goals:

1). Learn everything I can about my industry

 

2). Set a goal 10% higher than last year

 

3). Obtain goal

 

Rinse and repeat, year after year.

 

However, if you observe successful people, you’ll notice that they, like Fred Smith tells us, stretch themselves and take paths that are many times uncomfortable. Have you set a goal or started something new that has stretched you? What have you done to separate yourself from the competition? Hitting a 10% increase is nice, but are you doing anything memorable? Have you considered starting a blog?

If you aren’t a writer, you can still build your personal online brand through creating something unique. Maybe a video blog or podcast is a better route for you. Consider this:

1). What skill do you possess that would be valuable to others?

2). You don’t have to be an expert to give good advice. Most bloggers aren’t saving lives, just improving them.

3). Continually make small improvements.

Keep growing and keep stretching yourself and never give up.

If you want help setting up your online platform, drop us a line

What skill do you have that could improve someone else’s life?

Getting Clear About Your Platform Agenda

Book with PenIn all of our discussions regarding the platforms we help our clients build, we always include the topic of agenda. All of the key drivers of your ministry, business, or book publication are going to depend on the clarity of your agenda. Without that clarity your messaging and your methods will be muddled. Your prospect will not be sure of what you have to offer until you are.

Here are three helpful questions to consider as you build your own platform:

What makes you tick? In other words, you must get clear about why your product or service exists. When you walk away from a successful transaction with your ideal client, what exactly are they left with? Think of what they will tell their friends and peers about what you’ve done for them. The answers to those questions need to be front and center in your messaging. It should be at the top of your landing page, in your elevator speech, and on your business card.

What makes your client “click”? As our friend, Robert Hunt, said recently over coffee, “We don’t market to ourselves!” It’s common for us to make assumptions about what resonates with the reader or listener. This is why having a listening post is so important. You have to know what your tribe is thinking and saying in order to speak their language and meet their need. What may make perfectly good sense to you, may not resonate with them one iota. Why should your client click the link on your page that asks for their email address? What makes you tick has to align with what makes them click!

Are you changing the world? Sounds grandiose, but we’re not talking about the whole world here – just the world you and your clients inhabit. If you’re not different from the others in your space, then you’re just taking up space. For example, at platformcreator we want to change the perception of those who are wary of “techy stuff”. To do this, we come alongside our clients and help them see that the internet is not magic. We show them that it takes work to create an online platform that gets results, but its work that can be pivotal in helping them change the world.
Do the work of developing a clear agenda before you develop your platform. Learn to see your platform from the perspective of your client.
Now go change the world!

Your Platform Demonstrates How You Care

Microphone Picture yourself in the following scene:

The room is full. You’ve been given a brief introduction to the audience and your business, ministry, or cause thumbnail has been shared. You’re one of several local leaders who have been asked to speak about your success. As you step up onto the platform, you look out over the audience and see a few familiar faces here and there. This is it! You open your notes, take a deep breath and begin…

So… What do you say?

You could explain how you got started. You could go over the early years and your struggles to get a foothold in the market. You might describe the long days, the doubts and fears, and even the failures. All of which might be very interesting, but what would you tell them is the reason for your success? How would you explain the way you managed to distinguish yourself from the noise of your industry or niche?

This is the talk you should be giving day in and day out with your platform. Its the reason you exist in the first place. It should be top of mind in each conversation, tweet, or email with your employees, your vendors, and your ideal clients.

Politicians run on a platform, which they hammer away on in every stump speech. They understand that what inspires their constituents is rarely to have more of the same. ‘The folks’ want a leader who is clear about who she is and what she wants to accomplish. Your donors want this too. They can see right through the cliches and the empty promises. They’ve heard it all before. They’re not as interested in hearing that you care as they are in watching how you care. Use your platform to demonstrate how you care.

 At platformcreator we don’t build flashy websites with gadgets and pretty banners. The tools are lean and, we recommend as few as possible (but no fewer). We are not web guys – we help our clients build platforms based on the promises they’ve made to their customers. We help craft the campaign message they will use to reach their constituents, then we work out the channels. We craft the message first, then the method.

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Well, are you ready to give that speech?