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Original Thinking in a Template-Driven World

3 Dec

By: Larry Roy

Improving Your Brand Template #4What happens when you hire a company to help you improve your brand, or increase the flow of traffic to your website or your business? What’s their process? Do they go in the back room and grab “Improving Your Brand Template #4” off the shelf, rename it and say, “Here you go?” I hope not.

We can’t tell any company exactly what should be done to accomplish their goals through marketing and advertising until we thoroughly understand a few things. Let’s start with who they are–meaning who they think they are, who they want to be, how they are really perceived by the public, and do any of those match. It takes some significant probing and prodding to get a sense of this, but our clients appreciate it. They get what we’re after.

There is much more we need to learn before we can devise a real plan of attack and the necessary weapons to employ, but let’s skip that for now and jump to the process of brainstorming. What a cool word—raining on the brain or, I guess, from the brain. In any case, it’s fun and challenging at the same time. In our group, we tend to take the information we’ve extracted from our clients’ heads, then sift through it independently. Allowing individual thinking first, without the influence of others, pushes our team to think for themselves. That’s a good thing.

When we do come together in a brainstorming session, it’s a free-for-all by design. I don’t want us hung up on the how-to or the inherent silliness of an idea, at least not at first. If we’re not laughing hysterically at some point during a brainstorming session, then we’re probably not unearthing the best ideas. When you let diverse minds interact with a singularity of purpose, but with total freedom to dream up anything they want, it’s amazing what comes out of it! Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” and I listen to what he says.

So after the frivolity of a brainstorming session or two, we switch sides of the brain to zero in on the best, most feasible ideas for a client. Then we fine-tune them, and organize them in terms of priority. Next step, present to the client.

“You think we ought to do what?” It’s not an unusual first comment from a client when we sit down to review our ideas. That’s okay. If we don’t surprise them with something they haven’t considered before, then we haven’t earned our keep. That’s not to say that our sole objective is to shock the client with some crazy idea, but they’re paying us to think differently than they do. They ought to get their money’s worth. Besides, there’s always a method to our madness, a strategic logic behind our crazy ideas, and typically some precedent of prior success.

This is phase one of the process we follow with our clients. Phase two is defining budgets and timelines for implementation; more on that in the next installment. In the meantime, my advice to those seeking brand enhancement or advertising help is to look for a company that isn’t afraid to ask you hard questions, and then tell you what they think. It helps if they’re a little off their rocker, too! Just a little.

Review: Accelerent (Business Development Platform)

16 Nov

Accelerent LogoPoint 3 Media decided to get involved with a business development platform earlier this year called Accelerent. It’s a significant investment of both time and dollars, but we felt it was worth it for one main reason: we wanted to do more local business to build the economy in Middle Tennessee. We spent many years building our client list outside of the state, but are now focusing on helping businesses close to home.

So far, Accelerent is exactly what it says it is: a business development platform. I know that Larry, Sheilah, Jessica and I have had a fun and productive time going to the various events, and meeting all of the different partners and their clients. I’ve met more people in the past two months of being involved with Accelerent than in the past two years of living in Nashville. It’s been great on a personal and a professional level. Plus, what a great way to distribute your business cards!

The events encompass everything from one-on-one meetings to wine tasting events. There is also a monthly breakfast where Accelerent brings in a speaker to educate business leaders. They’ve included: Merril Hoge, Peter Vidmar, and Vernice Armour. They’ve all been great and so inspiring. I really learned a lot from Peter Vidmar – he’s a US Olympian and motivational speaker. He can still even do his pommel horse routine and he’s over 50! Peter spoke about motivation – ROV (Risk, Originality and Virtuosity) – and how those three elements should insure that your business outperforms the competition. You should definitely read about his story here.

All of this networking would not mean much unless there was measurable ROI. One of my tasks is to track how many meetings we have, how many proposals we deliver, and how many clients we do business with because of Accelerent. Utilizing the Accelerent platform there is a longer term prospecting process, however, the potential return on investment is great. That being said, now that our Accelerent partners are familiar with what we do, business is steadily flowing. We have many appointments booked each week, which is great, but it can be overwhelming and that’s why I’m here to help. I’m excited at a new opportunity for Point 3 Media, and am looking forward to expanding our family of clients.

5 Ways to Improve Your TV Commercials

23 Aug

By: Larry Roy

Point 3 Media_TOA Campaign

Point 3 Media production still from TOA Commercial Shoot

It’s often said that bad publicity is better than no publicity. When it comes to television advertising, however, that’s not necessarily the case. Sure, “bad” commercials are often talked about more than “good” commercials, but they don’t motivate consumers to do what you want. In fact, they often repel them and—by virtue of all that talk—they can repel their friends, and their friends’ friends!

As much as we complain about them, television commercials still heavily influence our perceptions and our decision-making. They prompt us to form an opinion about companies, products and services. That’s not surprising when you consider that TV commercials, unlike any other medium, are able to utilize sight, sound, motion and emotion to convey a message. As an advertiser, the trick is to convey a message that produces a positive response, not a “have you seen that awful commercial for so-and-so?” response.

So what makes a “good” commercial? Is it simply the dollars spent? No, there have been many high-cost commercials that have produced miserable results.  Is it because they are funny? Sometimes, yes, but humorous commercials often entertain people but leave them completely oblivious to what product or service or company was advertising. So what works and what doesn’t? Well here are just a few tips that may help ensure your television commercials hit their mark.

1. Know Your Audience – Television advertising by design speaks to a wide audience, but your message should cater to your primary audience—those most likely to buy your product or service. Are they men or women? Are they under 30 or over 60? Are they upper income, educated consumers?  Are they selfish or cause-oriented? Families or single people? Of course, your audience can be a mix of some or all of these, but you can draw intelligent conclusions about your primary potential customers from  your current customers. If you want to reach women in the 30’s that are likely married with children, then a commercial that uses bathroom humor as its premise is probably a mistake. Target your message to talk to whom you want most to reach.

Point 3 Media_CMI Vein and Laster

Larry Roy and Sheilah Griggs getting ready for the commercial shoot for CMI Vein and Laser Clinics

2. Define Your Purpose – When I ask a client what they want their television advertising to accomplish, the typical answer is “increased sales”. That’s understandable, the ROI needs to be there. However, often times, the purpose is really something else—it may be a means to an end. If it’s a new product or company, for example, the first objective may be to simply increase awareness, to brand a name and create a good feeling about it. If it’s not a “need right now” product or service, then the objective may be to plant the seed that “we’re here when you need us.”

Maybe the purpose is to drive the consumer somewhere else. The goal of much television advertising today is to move the consumer to a web site, where they can really learn about what the advertiser has to offer. In this instance, the TV commercial does not need to communicate everything about the product. It simply needs to create the want or need to investigate further.

Remember, unless the ONLY advertising you ever do is television, or the ONLY way the consumer can get your product or service is from your TV ads, then don’t view the sole purpose of your TV commercials as increased sales. Clearly define what you want to accomplish first.

3. Streamline Your Message – A television commercial goes by fast. Most are 30 seconds, some are 60 seconds, and many today are only 15 seconds long. As a result, it’s critical that the message you want to get across is concise and well defined. Often times an advertiser will try to cram way too many facts, figures, options, ideas or messages into a single commercial. The typical result? Nothing is remembered. Decide what is the most important thing you want the viewer to remember first, and build around it.

Obviously, the name of the company is assumed to be the most important, but a web address may be even more important if that’s where you want them to go.  If you’re selling a specific product, then focus on that product and avoid the temptation to “throw in” several other offers that dilute the message. If the most important thing you want to impress on the viewer is a feeling, then the entire mood and message should convey that feeling, and nothing else.

4. Quality Over Concept – Television commercial production can be expensive. If the vision for a commercial involves multiple actors, multiple locations, lots of special effects, props and sets, that’s great—if the budget is there to do it right. However, many times the dollars simply aren’t there for the proper execution of a grand concept, and the result is disappointing—to the advertiser AND the consumer. When budgets are limited, I always advise the client to focus on a simple concept, well executed. This starts with the writing. A well-written commercial, like a well-written screenplay, can more than compensate for budget limitations. The same is true with talent. A good actor or voice talent can deliver the message far more effectively—and affordably—than a slew of special effects or action scenes designed to cover up a bad script.  So when dollars are limited, keep it simple, and focus on quality over concept. The consumer knows and appreciates quality when they see it—and they have little tolerance for a lack of it.

5. Don’t Hide – As mentioned earlier, there are lots of clever and humorous commercials that people remember and talk about to other people. The conversation can go like this:

Bob: “I saw this great commercial the other day.”

Sally: “Really, who was it for?”

Bob: “I have no idea, but there was this talking chimpanzee…”

Large advertisers with large ad budgets that can seemingly “be everywhere” with their message can get away with this. For everyone else, it’s the kiss of death. Don’t be so swayed by a clever commercial with high entertainment value but leaves the viewer clueless as to who you are or what you are selling.  This doesn’t mean you can’t be clever, or entertaining, or funny, but don’t allow the story line to completely overshadow your identity. Integrate the product or service or company name into the message throughout the commercial—whether spoken, or on screen, or both. Don’t relegate identifying your company or product to the last five seconds of a commercial, thinking that the last thing they see is what they’ll remember. No, what they’ll remember is what entertained them the most, or what was impressed on their brain throughout the commercial.

Other factors certainly come into play when planning and launching a television campaign, such as where and when it runs, what other media will support it, how much competition there is and what they are doing, but these five tips should serve as a guide to where to start, what to focus on and what to avoid.

Why Experience Marketing Matters

13 Aug

happinessIs it me, or does the pursuit of happiness happen to have had a resurgence in the past year? The more the economy turns down, the more families and friends are spending nights at home together playing board games and throwing dinner parties. What a great time for Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose to hit stores! The book is a smash hit with bloggers and CEOs alike. It dives into corporate culture and how to increase happiness for employees, investors and customers. It’s a must read for HR staff, C-level staff, and anyone interested in creating a fun work environment while working hard.

Recently, my financial adviser asked me to read the NY Times Article from August 7 titled But Will It Make You Happy? He was asking me to read it for my personal edification, but little did he know that it is a gem when it comes to trending for marketers. What a great read!  The article talks about why American consumers are downsizing and what their purchase decisions mean for America’s economy. Not only are consumers purchasing fewer material goods, but they are actually increasing their purchase of experience-oriented products and services. (Think pasta-making classes, hiking trips, vacations, board games, etc.). I am definitely inspired to take a look at what I’m really buying. I think marketers should do the same for their products.

Since consumers are spending their money on experiences, not physical goods, it is more important than ever for consumers to make an emotional connection with a product. We’re seeing a shift from German-thinking of consumerism and keeping up with the Joneses, to a more French-style of thinking. The French might not have a car or a huge home, but they enjoy fine dining experiences and being with family.

If marketers can find a way to make shopping and buying an experience again, they will be successful in today’s market. Take Apple for example. They have created a shopping environment that is not only an experience, but a place where consumers know they are going to get outstanding customer service, and have the ear of an employee for as long as they need to make a purchase decision.

Here are some questions to think about if your brand needs a boost:

  • What need does your product or service fulfill?
  • Does your brand invoke an emotional reaction?
  • If so, how do you or will you capitalize on it?
  • Is your product or service something you can turn into an experience?

Voss Calls for Small-to-Medium Agency for 2011

10 Aug

VossVoss recently put out a call for bids from a small to medium sized agency to handle their marketing communications in 2011 via Ad Age.

In response to Ad Age’s article titled “Small-to Midsize New York Shop? Voss Wants You: Launches Open Call for Agency Review in an E-mail to Ad Age,” Sheilah Griggs of Nashville’s Marketing and Advertising Agency, Point 3 Media, agrees with the transparent approach of calling an agency review. It doesn’t necessarily mean a cattle call.

Here is the press release from Ad Age:

Voss, a leading super premium imported bottled water, is conducting an agency search to provide various marketing communications services for an early 2011 launch. Interested agencies should contact Ken Gilbert, the consultant contracted to conduct the agency selection process. Candidate agencies should be based in New York City—small to medium sized.

Prospects must be able to demonstrate strong strategic planning and creative capabilities. Experiences in related categories include beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), entertainment and culture, luxury and imported goods.

Here’s what she had to say:

I do believe the trend will be turning towards creative advertising agencies who are more efficient and “swat team” in approach because clients are missing service and direct communication. Advertisers want to be listened to and want someone who can get things done without a lot of bureaucracy.

Larger advertisers are going behind their agency’s back because they think they could never meet a quick turn around deadline and it would cost a fortune. They also note irritation with having a “communication fee” for a two-sentence email response.

To me, it’s just poor customer service and absolutely poor relationship management. People want to do business with people, not machines, even more so in this electronic age. It used to be seen as sophisticated to have a large agency, and now I think it’s going to be viewed as poor strategic business planning if there aren’t internal changes. They want an agency they can get on the phone and who they actually believe cares about their business.

It’s about relationships. Whether the economy has brought us back to that by providing more competition, or people are craving some actual old-fashioned interaction, it’s a good thing. Voss has openly asked for what they want and it’s going to be delivered right to their doorstep.