Insights

  • Corporate Storytelling: Coming to Your Emotional Rescue [As seen on Content Marketing Insider]

    by John Miller | Apr 10, 2015

    Truth: Logic rarely spurs action.

    And yet, more and more, we (marketers) are focused on metrics. We rack our brains trying to figure out how to move prospective customers logically through the sales funnel. We create content based on algorithms and probabilities.

    And while doing this, we wish and pray that we can have a monstrous breakthrough success, the kind of overnight sensation that Malcolm Gladwell or Jonah Berger might write about some day.

    Well, it ain’t gonna happen if your nose is down in a spreadsheet. Because emotion, not numbers, is the gasoline that fuels marketing awesomeness. Yes, it’s true that you can’t ignore the numbers, but you also can’t be a slave to them. There are a lot of marketers out there who are slaves to the numbers. And I think it’s because they’re afraid to trust their emotions; it’s safer to hide behind the numbers.

    When I was a kid, one of my heroes was basketball Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving. He was Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan, able to jump from the foul line and dunk. He was cool. He had style. You’d think it was always easy for him because of his awesome athletic talent. But Erving once told an interviewer that the key to his success was that he “dared to be great.” Think about it: How do you know if you can dunk from the foul line if you’re afraid to ever try? How do you become great without the courage to risk failure?

    And yet, a lot of corporate content is decidedly not courageous. A courageous content strategy needs to focus on developing emotional stories. Yup, it’s story time.

    There’s plenty of evidence that emotion-driven stories work, helping brands connect to customers. Our brains are wired for stories; we’ve been telling them to each other for thousands of years. They spark the brain. Really. Researchers have found that stories have the power to fire neurons, get us excited, and get us to feel emotion. When our emotions are engaged, we’re far more likely to be spurred into action (like buying), and we’re far more likely to remember the story and to retell it.

    Of course, to make that happen, you need to be compelling. This is easy if you’re talking about energy drinks, less so if you’re selling ERP software. But it’s not impossible. The key is to find the emotion.

    Hint: It’s not on your spreadsheets, and it’s not on those text-filled, bullet-point-riddled PowerPoints. Even with something as dry as ERP software, there is a human element to be found: Was the warehouse still able to deliver the product because the cloud-based ERP kept business flowing smoothly despite the massive power outage? Did the fact that it was up and running enable heroic action on the part of the warehouse workers? Now you’re telling a story people will remember. Now you’re firing their emotions.

    Utilizing a story structure enables you to embed facts within the narrative, which makes those facts much stickier. The story gets the neurons firing, and the facts become memorable because they’re attached to a great story.

    Creating a great story isn’t easy. Stories, even corporate stories, require drama. And most executives don’t like drama. They prefer a nice, smooth ride -- a rosy picture that doesn’t provide any ammunition for naysayers and competitors. That makes a certain amount of sense. It’s safe. But it’s boring, and ultimately it limits your success.

    To create great content, you need to dare to be great.

    That’s how you win.

    mediapostlogo
     
    John's post was originally published by Media Post Publications - Content Marketing Insider. To learn more about how Trellist can empower your content marketing, reach out to us, at info@trellist.com.

  • How Content Marketing Fuels The New Buyer’s Journey

    by John Miller | Nov 10, 2014

    the new buyers journey

    Scribewise, a division of Trellist Marketing and Technology, develops and executes content marketing strategy and solutions.  Scribewise is an outsourced newsroom that creates smart content to fuel marketing initiatives.  Trellist acquired Scribewise in 2014 to expand its wide range of marketing and technology services; leveraging its other powerful divisions and digital business values, Trellist boldly delivers intelligent business solutions.

    You’ve likely heard the phrase content marketing over the last couple of years. Maybe you’ve embraced the concept. Or maybe you’re perplexed by what people are talking about.

    First, let’s define exactly what we’re talking about when we use the term content marketing: content marketing is the creation and distribution of journalistic, audience-focused material that helps people do their jobs or live their lives.

    So why is that important?

    The New Buyer’s Journey

    It’s important because of today’s increasingly digital buying and selling environment. Today, the customer is in control of the relationship. The buyer’s journey has completely shifted over the last decade, and now it is incumbent upon marketers to engage with prospective customers before they’re ready to buy. Think about your own buying experience, and how often you turn to the Internet before you start shopping.

    Where the buyer once took a straightforward path to making a purchase, it is now far more complex, and conducted completely at the whim of the buyer. Today, the education phase of the buyer’s journey is conducted at whatever pace the buyer chooses. They seek information whenever, wherever and however they want. The challenge for brands is to deliver the buyer useful information in a multitude of ways.

    When those prospective customers are searching, they’re looking for an organization they want to do business with. We can buy goods and services from anywhere in the world – down the street, London, Hong Kong – wherever. That means the battle to win the customer is fiercer than ever before.

    Where Content Marketing Comes In

    And high quality, journalistic, audience-focused content can help you win that battle. By delivering great content into the marketplace, a brand begins to garner attention, engage the audience and build trust. A content strategy feeds consumer desire to seek information and form opinions. It begins to create a deeper-level relationship with the audience.

    Of course, this isn’t easy to do. A brand that launches a content marketing strategy is committing to become a publisher. Being a publisher is quite different from traditional marketing efforts. Ongoing content creation requires talent, dedication and relentlessness.

    But there’s more to it than that – suddenly, your team will be charged with creating a constant river of content, which requires creativity at a fast tempo. For those accustomed to logical, linear processes, the content creation “process” might be a shock to the system. As they say, people who enjoy sausage and news should never witness either being made. And here’s the scary secret about content creation – it has to be chaotic. At the heart of it, content marketing is a creative process, and it can’t be tamped down too much by process.

    This is why we founded Scribewise, and why Trellist acquired us. Scribewise is an outsourced newsroom that helps our clients set and execute their content strategy. Together, with Trellist’s powerful marketing and technology services, we can deliver effective results that produce a real ROI.

    For the brand, it can be hard work. But the rewards are significant. Closing a sale with a prospective customer that has already engaged with your content becomes almost a formality – you’ve already demonstrated your thinking and approach and created a relationship based on trust. Research backs this up – one study shows that content marketing saves 13% in overall cost of a business lead, and that content-driven organic search outperforms outbound marketing by a 14:1 ratio1. Another study shows that B2B firms with blogs report 67% more business leads2. And on and on it goes.

    Content marketing works. The time to dive in is now… before your competitors do. Check out the infographic below to travel The New Buyer's Journey. And follow us on Twitter @trellist or, connect with us via info@trellist.com.
     
     
     
     
    1Hubspot - The 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report
    2
    http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/5807/How-Many-Posts-Does-Your-Business-Blog-Need-to-Grow-Leads-At-Least-20.aspx

  • Rumble On: An Alternative Approach to Idea Generation

    by Neil Dougherty | May 28, 2013

    A few weeks back, Trellist hosted its first event at the annual Philly Tech Week. We called it Technically Challenged, and it was an open invite for technologists, creatives, strategists, and entrepreneurs to compete in a rapid ideation and prototyping exercise – with a stash of tech-forward prizes up for grabs. It was one of many great evenings spent at Philly Tech Week. And for me, the event was a real eye-opener.

    Twenty-six motivated participants – flanked by forty-five or so curious onlookers and judges – were arranged into six teams with just over an hour to complete the challenge. They were presented with a fictitious business case, then went off and developed a solution using only simple craft materials and their collective brain power.

    Observing the teams in action and watching the final presentations, I couldn’t help but think this type of format – and its core constraints – had the potential to be a difference maker in business environments of all shapes and sizes.

    Here are a few things I took away from the event – considerations that might benefit productivity and creativity in your neck of the woods:

    Less clock makes for better outcomes

    In business, time is often a double-edged sword. We want a lot of it to do our work, but we rarely use it wisely.

    At Technically Challenged, the participants had only ninety minutes to come together, generate ideas rapidly, create their prototype, and present their work to the judges and audience. What they came up with in this short period of time was impressive. The presentations were incredibly polished and well-sequenced. One of the teams even arranged their time in the spotlight to include a skit.

    What does this tell us? In reality, sometimes we do our best work and make smart, instinctual choices when time isn’t on our side. Think of ways to add timed challenges and impromptu projects into your business model – their effectiveness may surprise you.

    Unfamiliarity breeds contentment

    Here you had teams of five to six people who didn’t know each other when they walked through the door. Surprisingly, it took them only a few minutes to jell.

    Unlike university or corporate environments, where study groups and project teams develop a unique dynamic over time – one that often favors the most extroverted and outspoken individuals – the teams at Technically Challenged quickly realized that rapid idea generation and opinion evaluation were critical to finishing their prototype in time. There were no major power struggles.

    This suggests that applying randomized, impromptu team structures on a weekly or monthly basis can bring new enthusiasm and heightened focus to even the most mundane tasks.

    Cross-generation collaboration works

    There’s a general misconception that innovation in this new age of bootstrapped startups belongs only to the twenty-somethings. Add to that a cultural bias against older generations whose lives aren’t rooted firmly in technology, and you might think we’re on the brink of a generational turf war.

    Refreshingly enough, the pool at Technically Challenged featured an impressive cross-section of Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. These generations can, and do, work together better than you might think.

    In a way, it’s the ideal gap control. The Millennials understand the digital lifestyle because it’s their natural environment. The Gen X population is ready to take over leadership roles and poised to make their mark. And years of trial and error gives Boomers the strength of perspective, a prized intangible.

    Foster an environment of respect and communication, and you’ll find productive working relationships across these generations. When they click, it’s fascinating to watch.

    You can catch a video recap of Technically Challenged now on our YouTube page. We love to talk business strategy, so don’t hesitate to start a conversation by following us on Twitter @trellist , liking us on Facebook , or connecting with us via info@trellist.com.

  • Making Web Content Accessible to People with Disabilities

    by Gavin Garrison | Apr 17, 2013

    making web content ADA compliant

    No one
    thinks twice when they see a wheelchair access ramp to a building. Stoplights have audible “walk” signals for the visually impaired. ATMs have braille type next to the keypads. The last presidential inauguration speech included a sign language interpreter following the president word for word. Virtually every television comes equipped with a closed-caption option. So what about making online content optimized for people with disabilities?

    Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to those with disabilities. Generally speaking, Section 508 requires agencies to give employees and members of the public who have disabilities access to information comparable to the access available to others. Nothing in Section 508 requires private web sites to comply, unless they are receiving federal funds or are under contract with a federal agency.

    The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”) was modeled after the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, but it is a separate law with separate requirements. Title III of the ADA outlaws discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of “public accommodation.” Till now, courts have generally held that the ADA cannot be applied to activities on the Internet. That may change.

    While neither the ADA nor Section 508 currently requires that private companies optimize online content for people with disabilities, more and more companies are doing so voluntarily. Why? Here are a couple reasons for you to consider:

    Marketing and PR

    Treating all customers fairly isn’t just a nice thing to do — its message can carry a lot of PR weight, especially when your business is the first organization in your industry to voluntarily meet the accessibility requirements of the ADA and Section 508. Private entity compliance with ADA and Section 508 accessibility standards also provides a compelling PR opportunity to tell the public a human-interest story that both builds and strengthens customer relationships.

    Legal

    What is considered a “public accommodation”? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interprets a “public accommodation” as a private entity that owns, operates, or leases restaurants, hotels, offices, stores, parks, schools, libraries, and other such places. The broader meaning for “public accommodation” is any place that has public access. The increasing move, especially in the financial industry, away from physical locations and towards e-commerce, particularly when coupled with marketing that touts the ease of online transactions and encouraging customers to increase their online interactions, means that this debate will only intensify.

    Compliance with the ADA and Section 508 isn’t easy. Making electronic information accessible to those with disabilities involves fine-tuning interactive information with specific best-practice design and coding methodologies that work hand-in-hand with content navigation tools for those individuals. Information needs to include coded recognition for screen readers, mouse-free adaptability, tagged page navigation, advanced scrolling…and a lot more. Achieving full compliance also involves carefully choreographing IT, web design, and web development for a unified, optimized output.

    Some companies have formed special teams to try to tackle optimizing content. But for most companies, this is a larger task than they can handle internally. Trellist works with companies, including leading financial institutions, to make their content ADA- and Section 508-compliant for a variety of reasons–PR, legal, or maybe they just feel like it’s the right thing to do.

    If you’d like to learn more about optimizing your content for people with disabilities, follow us on twitter @trellist , or connect with us via info@trellist.com.

  • 2013 Social Media Resolutions

    by Neil Dougherty | Jan 21, 2013
    2012 social resolutions

    We’re believers in the power of sharing. We love telling the world a little more about our business each day and listening to what others have to offer. And we’re passionate about helping our clients make the most of every new blog, wall post, tweet, or pin. As the social media landscape evolves minute by minute, businesses and brands must continue to optimize. Stick to these social media resolutions for 2013 and start seeing improved ROI from your social media investment.

    Get Your Story Straight

    Take the time to remember (or find) your brand voice. Know the story that makes your brand special and how that story gets told. Develop a content strategy that reinforces and expands that story. Stick to content that tells little bits of that broader narrative—one piece at a time. Let that content remind people why you’re different and valuable every time you speak up.

    Pick & Choose Your Channels

    Being everywhere at once can dilute quality opportunities to connect with and build your social customer base. Even if your competition jumps head first into, let’s say Pinterest, you don’t have to. Especially if you’ve done your homework and know that your customers aren’t going to be pinning any time soon. By resisting fads and Johnny-come-lately services, you’ll stay focused on reaching your most attentive audiences. You’ll want to keep an eye on the latest developments in social media services and communities, but resist the urge to commit until you know you’re working with a proven impression maker.

    Publish Better (Not More) Content

    Many consumer and B2B brands talk simply to be heard. If you fix elevators or sell antiques, a Facebook wall post asking people how they’re ringing in the New Year does you little good. Instead, work on publishing more refined content in 2013. And make it more appealing, through the power of a new medium like online video. You can create a YouTube channel and use it to connect subscribers to an assortment of branded content, including case studies, product demos, thought leadership features, and customer service FAQs. You can even share features on office culture and corporate philosophy, creating a subtle but effective recruiting device. And it’s free to set up.

    Encourage Two-Way Conversations

    Are your social media efforts legitimate two-way conversations? If we’re being honest, very few organizations have accomplished this two-way goal. Resolve to get there this year. Allow followers to share your content easily with others across their network. Avoid mundane posts and publish thought-provoking content instead. Give your audience the power to weigh in on important decisions. Develop in-person events and other rewarding offline opportunities. Delight your community with a surprise now and again. Finally, remember to monitor your channels for interactions. The quicker you respond to questions and concerns, the more street cred you’ll build among the masses.

    Measure Differently

    Measuring only quantitative results can mean missing much of the unique value that social media offers. As you’ll find out in my colleague Chris W.’s upcoming blog about ROI in Social Media: Likes, Follows, and Retweets alone are all only surface-scratching ROI indicators. Dig deeper into what people are saying about your brand, products and services across your social media channels and use the new knowledge to retool your social strategy and content calendar as needed.

    If you’d like to learn more about Social Media marketing and strategy for the new year and beyond, follow us on twitter @trellist or connect with us via info@trellist.com.

  • Is it Really Time to Shut Down the Malls?

    by Jim Dixon | May 21, 2012

    Who do you trust?  Is it an advisor that can excite a conference room with sampled data and compelling predictions, or the professional that relies on analytics and a rational approach to reach a conclusion?

    Let’s examine an issue about the behavior of smartphone owners. According to comScore, smartphone owners overwhelmingly report that they prefer shopping online over shopping in a physical store. We’ve seen numbers clearly stating that three out of four smartphone owners prefer online shopping and are increasingly turning to their smartphones for this. With more than 150 million smartphone owners in the US (fast approaching 60% market penetration), these preferences are highly significant. With this kind of empirical evidence, we should close down the malls, divest our retail stocks and double-down on eCommerce competency.

    But hold on…aren’t some physical stores still turning a profit? And while big box stores may be downsizing, it is in favor of opening retail shops with smaller footprints, less overhead, and an updated, more intimate shopping experience. While mall retail space may be light in some areas, other stores continue to thrive. I still go there to shop, and I see my friends there.  Are we the last ones?

    While the evidence in question strongly suggests that smartphone users love the idea of internet shopping and report that “they prefer it”,  a bit more research reveals that they are more likely to browse online and actually shop in physical stores, according to Wave Collapse, a specialty market research firm.  In fact, 87% of smartphone users actually shopped in a store last week and if they buy regularly, the numbers are even higher.

     

    As it turns out, 84% of smartphone owners use them to enhance their in-store shopping experience. The vast majorities of smartphone shoppers read reviews (73%), compare prices with other retail outlets (71%) and scan QR codes to get more product details (57%), according to Nielsen Research.

    Although smartphones usage is growing and dynamically changing how we integrate mobile into the marketing plan, it does not suggest that retail is dead to 75% of the 150 million smartphone users.

    Bold statistics used to drive the bandwagon forward can create the illusion of a compelling trend. This is not new. However, the reminder here is that we must look at the numbers through a well-balanced and thoughtful filter, and depend on good judgment to enable creative solutions that work. Surveys and charts tell an important story when balanced by reason and educated instinct from experienced business people.

    At Trellist, we depend on analytics and data to make good decisions…. but the data is always part of a balanced decision-making process by experienced business-savvy professionals, operating in consensus and using sound business judgment.

    So, don’t shut down the malls just yet and look at the numbers carefully.

    If you want to know more about Trellist’s capabilities, feel free to drop us a line: info@trellist.com, or follow us on twitter @Trellist

  • Direct Response Marketers can toss the Law of Diminishing Returns

    by Jim Auer | Apr 11, 2012

    In direct response marketing, traditional logic dictates the more you can customize a message to reflect what you know about that customer, the better the results.

    In 1994, Don Peppers and Martha Rodgers promised that the concept of “one-to-one” marketing was the way. However, the pursuit of this theoretical segmentation ideal has never been practical or effectively achieved. Still today, the practical number of executions (or cells) in most direct marketing programs is limited by the law of diminishing returns for all the wrong reasons… except at Trellist.

    Many marketing executives accept the idea that as they pursue more precise segmentation, their total costs will increase due to added creative & production time, increased coordination and production hours, and additional QA time (or its converse, the likelihood of costly errors). To this thinking, as incremental production costs increase, there comes a point where incremental yield from more precise customer segmentation is no longer profitable.

    Trellist, however, has demonstrated that as you control the creative and production costs by leveraging production technology and deploying a disciplined creative approach, the incremental costs of customer segmentation are significantly lowered (changing the slope of the incremental cost curve). With a very different approach to email development, print and direct mail creative methodology, marketing executives have much greater freedom to personalize offers, creative treatments, and marketing messages, all while reinventing their marketing program strategy with greater personalization. 

    By dramatically moving the point in which the incremental costs for customizing direct marketing are equal to the incremental return, Trellist has demonstrated the capability to increase the marketing team’s ability to customize marketing content. As a result, our clients are able to deploy more precise messaging, increase the effectiveness of each campaign and produce higher ROI for their organizations.

    At Trellist, we are proving that through integrating marketing and technology, we can toss out the “Law of Diminishing Returns.” This approach offers direct marketers new options that dramatically change traditional assumptions and produce a very different kind of business results.

  • Gamification & The Brussels Sprouts Dynamic

    by Chris Wallace | Nov 22, 2011

    Did you hate brussels sprouts as a kid? I sure did. How did my parent’s get me to eat them? That’s right, we played Here Comes the Airplane.

    It’s a time tested solution to an age old problem: Make it fun and people are more likely to participate.

    Now, let’s fast forward to the age of social media and pervasive mobile connectivity. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon hear digital marketing enthusiasts using the term Gamification to describe this phenomena.

    Gamification (a term borrowed from behavioral economics) is the practice of utilizing gameplay mechanics in non-game scenarios to change behaviors or incentivize users perform otherwise mundane tasks.

    While there is some merit to the adage that “there is nothing new under the sun”, social and mobile technologies have certainly given this concept fresh legs and new possibilities for engaging customers to participate with your brand. Whether your goal is to get customers to use their loyalty cards more often, to visit your bricks and mortar locations, or simply to participate in your survey, applying the principles of gamification to your marketing programs may be a great way to generate lift.

    So what are some simple ways to make a marketing program more game-like?

    Let’s look at that program to incentivize loyalty card usage:

    • Make the incentives simple and attainable: Use your loyalty card 4 times this month and get 20% off your next order
    • Let participants track their progress and encourage them to keep playing: Mobile App with a progress bar with SMS reminders
    • Give it legs via social media: Let users share their progress to social media friends and followers, make it easy for those friends to get involved as well.
    • Make rewards easy to redeem: Send your 20% Discount coupon via SMS to their mobile device

    While this is a simplified scenario, there are endless gamification techniques that could be applicable to this case including:

    • Location based check-ins: Check in (via foursquare or other location based service) at any of our bricks and mortar location and receive points, badges, discounts or other benefit.
    • Badges for achievement: Rewarding brand interaction with small tokens of appreciation is a strong motivator considering the game-like engagement channel. i.e. Reward users for using the loyalty card 4x, 8x, 12x in a month.
    • Virtual currency: Points programs that can be “spent” as rewards. This could be on real world or virtual merchandise depending on your brand and your goals. Providing clear point totals and easy redemption of those points is key. Farmville dollars is a great example.
    • Head-to-head challenges: Allow users to engage their friends by issuing challenges or other competitions, i.e. Who can check into the most locations in a month?
    • Leaderboards: Who has the most points? Where do I rank? People play games to win, capitalize on this.

    Employing some of these concepts may just help you bring that plane in for a landing.
    Interested in chatting about how social media, mobile, or gamification might help you reach your business and marketing goals?

    Feel free to drop us a line.

  • Building Brands through the Social gGraph

    by Edgar Uy | Oct 28, 2011

    The adage that a company does not define their brand but customers do is still an immutable truth. Brands can try to dictate what they stand for, but ultimately they are judged by the sum total of the customer experience. Brands that engage in a dialogue by listening, learning and participating are more likely to create a positive impact. Therefore, it is important that brands actively participate in dialogs throughout their social graph, leveraging the strength in their core message, feedback mechanisms, curating and distributing content, and visual expression as it applies across channels.

    A social media strategy cannot exist without a content strategy. Brands must develop content that reflect the brand promise and give people a reason to stay engaged. Make it easy for your brand advocates to share your content through their social graph. Content shared through word-of-mouth is far more powerful at driving brand preferences and intent than paid advertising alone.

    So how do you develop a content strategy? Here are a few important elements to consider:

    • Know what your audience wants to talk about, be sure the topic is relevant, and understand how it fits into their daily lives. Be willing to engage in those conversations by using your own brand voice, in a personable language that your audience is using and characteristic of how your brand expresses itself.
    • Know your audience and where they want to have these conversations. People follow you because they like you, and because your brand offers them something—so be sure to deliver. Remember that influential users (loosely defined as users whose actions result in additional site visitors) may generate up to 40% of total site traffic, even though they typically account for less than 5% of total site users. It’s important that marketers identify, recognize and reward those that are influential in converting others.
    • Knowing where your audience hangs out is equally important. This can depend on their age and gender, as well as your offerings. There are plenty of statistics that break down social media sites by demographics, such as the Nielsen Social Media Report: Q3 2011.
    • Measure the results and impact of your conversations. This can be tracking how many comments and likes received on Facebook, volume of Twitter followers, number of retweets and mentions along with social media referral traffic to your website.

    Have the patience to build your community and engender trust, and the flexibility to evolve content over time. If you’re fun, honest and relevant, they will share with their friends and others, which is what social media is all about.

    Lastly, managing Social Media is more art than science; however, creating a structured framework aligned with data driven principles will help brands improve effectiveness and investment return over time.

  • Information Overload? Who Wants Pie?

    by Holly Lee | Jul 08, 2011

    They say that we only use about 10% of our brain. That’s just a myth, but regardless of the percentage, mine is at capacity today. It feels like that pink pie chart on your hard drive that shows “space available”—I can’t fit anymore in. And it’s not just me. People are on information overload, social media overload, technology overload…everything overload. The impact this has on your marketing is significant, and requires you to change tactics before your messages become irrelevant noise that have no impact. The point I want to make here while eating up a little of your slice of brain pie, is that this isn’t the time for your business to be using a shotgun marketing approach, or publishing so much content that people aren’t getting to the information they need quickly.  The need for targeted, relevant information has never been greater. Take the time to understand what your customers actually care about when making their buying decision, rather than what you think they should care about. Refresh your knowledge of what’s important to them today. Listen to what they’re saying. This is critical for producing content that is relevant and it will persuade them to respond.

    Successful businesses are renewing their focus on delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time. Trellist is helping businesses achieve this, enabling them to earn an important role in their customer’s buying decision. So, if you want your company’s message to cut through 4 and 20 twitterbirds, it needs to be more targeted and engaging than ever before.

  • Customer Experience: The Other Side of Loyalty—Part 2

    by Edgar Uy | Jul 01, 2011

    Continuing from my last post on what true loyalty means, I would like to touch upon the topic of customer experience (CX) as a foundation for truly serving the customer.

    Based on recent research findings, great customer experiences comprise three dimensions — functional, accessible and emotional — which as a whole create a lucid experience that positively impacts how customers view companies and the likelihood that they will purchase from them.

     

    Nothing will frustrate customers more than a company’s inability to serve their basic needs in a way that is easily accessible and convenient, thereby making that emotional connection.  The result of serving these needs creates a lasting impression that positively reinforces the essence of the brand, and increases brand equity.

     

    Although there is no silver bullet for CX success, there are clear steps that successful companies take to create a lasting impact.

    1.     Leadership:  These organizations consistently operate from a clear set of principles and values, following examples set by their executive team. 

    2.     Values: While a company can communicate what they stand for through marketing or advertising, it is customers who define their brand. Successful companies know that it’s not enough to just communicate what they stand for, but that it’s equally, if not more, important to behave in a way that consistently delivers the brand promise at every touch point.

    3.     Engagement: Employees are living examples of a company’s mission and its core values. Successful businesses make sure that every associate understands and is aligned with the goals of the company in order to deliver the intended experience customers seek, expect, and demand.

    4.     Connection: Every customer interaction and feedback affords every company an opportunity to learn more about how they can improve their product or service. Successful businesses have a systematic approach for collecting and responding to customer feedback and recognize that it is invaluable to generating the loyalty they desire.

     

    Establishing an ideal customer experience requires an ongoing commitment and a clarion call for companies who desire the benefits of long-term customer loyalty. Trellist is enabling businesses to create these experiences, to foster and expand relationships with their customers by helping to build brands based on solid principles that act as launching pads for loyalty and longevity.  In an age where social media is empowering consumers like never before and where word of mouth is more influential than paid advertising, commitment to delivering the total CX presents a big opportunity to gain and maintain a competitive advantage.

  • Making Online Advertising More Relevant to Customers

    by Joe Kearns | May 19, 2011
    Web advertising has been evolving ever since companies started trying to generate sales online.  As web users gain experience and their surfing habits evolve, advertisers must also change their habits to get attention and clicks with their ads.   Mass messaging, where a single message is expected to attract everyone, is a frequently used yet ineffective approach.   To succeed, advertisers must focus their attention on effectively communicating with the user rather than pushing non-targeted and often irrelevant messages to the masses. 

    In years past, when someone was surfing the web they were barraged with popups and flashing banners that had no relevance to their interests. These intrusive ads would have little or no response and no impact on sales.
    Recently, more sophisticated methods have been introduced for serving ads to users based on their behavior and interests.  Surfing behavior is constantly tracked, and sites can now serve banner ads based on this information.  This is a significant step forward in making web advertising more relevant and more profitable.  Sites serving these banners are due to receive more ad revenue while advertisers will receive more qualified clicks. 

    The problem is that marketers continue to use mass messaging strategies which have very low response rates, and these rates are rapidly declining.  Many marketers do not understand or acknowledge the ever changing landscape of the web.  Why is this?

    Many marketers remain under the impression that they can generate results without investing the time and effort to create more targeted strategies and campaigns based on customer interests.   This approach does not work because of changing user habits and expectations, and the evolving digital landscape. 

    Customers have changed their habits to become more conscientious of their clicks.  Users now respond to messages that speak to them, are relevant to their interests and needs, and feel natural.  These types of messages have a greater response as they are important to the customer’s decision making. 

    The digital landscape is changing and will always be an evolving entity.  Right now, Social Media is serving as the platform in which users spend most of their time online.  Everything about Social Media is personalized for the user, based on information the user shared freely when creating their profile, so why shouldn’t the ads?  The information is available now to create meaningful and engaging campaigns for users, and is waiting to be leveraged to connect you with your target.

    Trellist is serving as the bridge to change a mass market approach into a personalized strategy to find the target demographic, present a compelling message and add value to the user’s online experience. 
  • Customer Experience: The Other Side of Loyalty

    by Edgar Uy | Apr 18, 2011
     

    In a 2010 study, Jupiter Research cited that 75 percent of American consumers belong to at least one loyalty program. These programs can promote brand consideration since consumers are always looking for ways to be rewarded for loyalty. Whether it’s through immediate savings, cash back or rewards incentive for future purchases, companies realize the benefit of incentivizing their customer base. However, there is an additional approach to consider that creates an added sense of loyalty in customers augmenting existing programs.

    Businesses today, specifically those that rely on a strong brand appeal, are encountering a new breed of customers who are savvy, engaged, and, most importantly, connected. Social Networks have transformed the way these customers shop and communicate, and provide a platform to easily share their opinions with family, friends, colleagues and others. Today’s consumers are even more demanding, and much more critical of brands with grand promises that fail to deliver.  As a result, they are empowered to be selective given that they have the power to choose easily and rely on a tribe of likeminded consumers to make their purchase decisions.

    Beyond using the two basic types of loyalty programs, such as the rewards-based approach and/or promoting specialized offers to a select group, focus on forging a stronger connection with your customers at every touch-point thereby turning them into evangelists and advocates for your brand. Reward their loyalty with better customer experiences, whether it’s through product or service inquiry, purchase ease, recommendations, timely promotions or convenience.  

    Listening to your customers and identifying needs that are not being met, or obstacles in their experiences that have a negative impact to your brand and reputation, provides the opportunity to act on them. Just be sure to address the underlying problem through a self-nurturing feedback loop. The insight you gain may lead to fundamental changes in your value proposition, enhanced product/service opportunities or even your entire business model.

    Just remember that loyalty is a by-product of the customer experience and not a result of specific programs. Trellist follows this guiding principle when developing loyalty strategies for our clients. 

  • QR Codes: The Missing Link

    by Chris Wallace | Apr 15, 2011

    You’ve probably seen a QR Code before but never took notice of those innocuous square barcodes that appear on everything from product packaging to movie cutouts.  While QR Codes are close cousins to traditional barcodes, they are far more versatile to marketers.  While you may already know what QR codes are, you may not have realized some of the fascinating ways they can be used. 

     A QR (Quick Response) Code is a square, matrix barcode that can be read by QR Reader applications on any smartphone.  These barcodes can be used to store data and access features on your mobile device such as a Web Browser, Phone, GPS, even individual apps.  insert

    How can a QR code be used as a tactic within a successful campaign? While the answer is always, “That depends on your business and marketing goals”, let’s explore some concepts and ideas that could be applied to many types of campaigns.

    As always in digital media, the critical side of the equation is the delivery.  Applications or pages that users link to must provide some unique value or service.  Even more critical, the app or page should be relevant to the user’s needs at the time and place where they scan your QR code.  And, in all cases, pages must be optimized for mobile viewing.  Nothing is more frustrating than going through the effort to scan a QR code to find a page that doesn’t work on your phone.   

    Keeping those guidelines in mind, here are your ways you can apply QR codes for your business:

    When a QR Code lives on:

    You could offer:

     

    Print Advertising

    Mobile couponing for bricks and mortar, sign up for SMS messaging, special offers, links to mobile commerce, scan to call.

    Retail Receipts, Branded Materials

    Mobile customer feedback forms, mobile coupons, promo codes for next visit, scan to call, scan for a survey

     

    Email

    Ability to move from the desktop to the mobile environment, i.e.  link users phones directly to the app store to download your new iPhone  app.

     

    Outdoor and Transit Advertising

     

    GPS directions to nearest location, geolocated couponing, even scavenger hunts (scan all the codes and get clues where to find the next one).

     

     

    Point of Purchase Displays      Product information, nutritional information, check-in and share via social media, link to product information and promotional videos.

    Tradeshow Booths                   Links to Whitepapers, Vcards for contact info, RSVP for events/breakout sessions, coupons for free drinks at sponsored Happy Hours!

    Retail/Garment Tags                 Product information or specs, product videos, etc.

    The possible combinations of QR code location and associated applications are limitless, and we’d like to hear your ideas as well.  QR Codes are another great example of the intersection of Marketing and Technology.  Trellist has the creative ideas, marketing savvy and technical horsepower to help you deliver on concepts like these.

  • Is the End of Breakage Near?

    by Josh Kelso | Mar 30, 2011

    Let’s face it – we’re all participating in some sort of loyalty program in our daily lives.  Some of us use our grocery store club card to get discounts or our Starbucks card, or our credit card for points for cash or free airline tickets.  Either way, loyalty programs like these compete for our attention and more importantly our behavior.

    The average US consumer is a member of eleven (11) loyalty programs and is active in about six (6).  With all these loyalty programs competing for our attention, program “hoops” members must jump through like “breakage” become increasing important with behavior decisions.  The following will deconstruct breakage and shed light on some loyalty programs that are siding with consumers and their choices.

    Breakage is the classic crutch of loyalty marketing financial models.  Attitudes towards breakage are shifting, both from perspective of the loyalty supplier community and consumers.

    Some might argue that breakage models are critical to managing the profitability of a loyalty program however breakage models only serve to create a vicious circle of ever decreasing value for both the consumer and business because consumers will not change their behavior if the value of the reward is being undermined.

    The most successful loyalty programs influence customer profitability by flexing the rate at which different consumers earn currency for different activities.  Rather than creating breakage models, enlightened loyalty program operators use knowledge about their customer’s behavior, their products and their margins in order to develop segment strategies that encourage consumers to behave more profitably using points as the incentive.  They know that if the value of their points are in anyway devalued they are unlikely to get the positive changes in consumer behavior they desire.  Successful loyalty program administrators create predictive customer financial models to decide which Customers, for what activities, how much and when points should be awarded.  

    Some brands are shifting their thoughts about breakage.  In fact, recent moves by large airline companies  and Points.com signal additional recognition that the accrued value in loyalty programs is not a ’shiny object” to tease consumers with, rather it is truly an alternate currency that people expect to have liquidity and be able to convert for value almost immediately – hence, almost no breakage.

    Points.com recently announced that it is teaming up with PayPal to allow its Aeroplan® miles, American Airlines AAdvantage Miles® and US Airways® Dividend Miles® to convert into cash in member’s PayPal account.

    Cash is still king and loyalty programs that make cash more accessible and immediate will effectively influence consumer behavior and drive more brand and product loyalty.

    The concept of leveraging PayPal’s technology and customer base to facilitate the fulfillment of a Cash redemption has promise and intrigue.  Another critical driver of success for this partnership will be the exchange rate set between the two currencies and the overall consumer perceived value.  This partnership has the potential to provide additional security and accelerate the overall process, both of which add value to the consumer and almost eliminate breakage.

    Trellist helps clients engage their customers in loyalty programs, to increase the value of these relationships.  We believe it’s good for the industry and for the consumer when brands encourage engagement rather than hoping for breakage.

  • Project Managers Combine New Planning Methodology and Project Based Staffing

    by Tom Falgiano | Jan 28, 2011

    General George S. Patton once stated, “A reasonable plan executed quickly is better than a perfect plan hatched in a prison camp.”  In a dynamic businesses environment, a new type of planning methodology is being deployed, and is being branded “Emergent Planning.” The Emergent Planning approach challenges Project Managers (PMs) to consider the major phases, milestones, and deliverables at the outset of a project, and how they can evolve over the course of the project.

    The most common occurrence in a project lifecycle is that unforeseen events occur that require adjustments to the strategies.  The Emergent Strategy model enables the PM to adapt to these changes, and follows the evolution from the initial, intended strategy to the actual, realized strategy. Emergent Planning is a fundamental approach for managing in dynamic environments. These changes, however, have implications for budgeting, resource planning, and strategy.  While the overall plan is in place, the individual stages can often be revised to ensure the best possible outcome. Although planning normally attempts to remove risk, in a dynamic environment, the greatest risk may be losing your window of opportunity.  Emergent planning can help mitigate this risk.

    Emergent Planning is gaining favor with professional PMs in many industries.  In a recent article in the Project Management Journal, a survey of 31 PMs found that this approach was strongly supported, and attracted the greatest consensus among the study’s participants.

    An important characteristic of this approach is that the PMs have less time to implement the plan for the next phase.  The PM needs quick and reliable access to skilled resources.  The emergent planning process dictates that the right resources are available to the project team in a shorter timeframe.  As a result, the PM has less time to adjust and schedule work.  Emergent Planning requires a flexible and rapidly deployable partnership approach to resource management in order to properly realize the efficiencies of the core methodology.

    Trellist’s unique Project Based Staffing approach allows human capital management to be rapidly activated, deployed, and integrated into a client project within specific phases.   Whether from the existing professional services matrix, or our integrated client-side resource offerings, Trellist’s structured yet flexible Resource Management Division responds quickly to Emergent Planning’s agile behaviors to support the resource needs of a Client PM.   For more information on the finer points of this approach, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

  • When you’re not a pet rock: Six qualitative research sins, Part 3

    by Laurie | Jul 16, 2009

    A slightly different version of this article originally appeared in Quirk’s Research Review, May 2005, page 40.

    Part 3 in a 6-part series. Part 2

    Sin #3: It’s not a product; it’s a bundle of attributes.

    We could spend hours discussing how this assumption has constrained market insight for products where attributes are neither readily changed by the manufacturer nor independent (health care is an excellent example). “Which is more efficacious, drug A or drug B?” is a red herring in any setting. What qualitative can tell us is:

    Do perceived efficacy differences, if any, actually affect decision-making among drugs in this class? If so, when and why? If not, what does and how?

    Qualitative is no better place than quantitative for the faulty assumption that all decision-makers are consciously trading-off all attributes all the time. Nor is it a setting in which to “validate” attributes (domains and measures) and levels (threshold values) used to make decisions where the attributes are not universally salient and defined (two vs. three bedrooms is clear, a “crunchy” vs. “not crunchy” cereal less so). Eliciting the shortcuts used to decide between products whose attributes themselves are subjective calls for methodologies other than qualitative work, e.g., taste tests for the cereal or heuristic market research for pharmaceuticals.

  • Google to Allow Use of Trademarks in AdWords Text Ads

    by Jim Auer | May 20, 2009

    Google has announced a major shift in its policy on the use of trademarked names in paid search ad copy.  Beginning June 15th, advertisers will be allowed to use trademarked names in their ad text, with some restrictions. This change is causing concern among brand marketers.

    In the past, Google has barred advertisers from using trademarked names in their ad copy unless they own the trademark or have permission from the trademark owner.  Many resellers, even those authorized by the trademark owner, could not satisfy Google’s demands for proving they had permission to use the trademark.  This prevented them from listing the brands they carry.

    What does this change mean specifically?  A search today for “LCD monitors” triggers many ads from online retailers, but most of these ads do not mention brand names.  The ads make generic claims such as “low prices on brand names” and “many brands to choose from.”   Google’s new policy will allow retailers to list brand names in their ads - “We carry all brands of monitors — Samsung, Dell, Viewsonic, and more.”

    Impact on Brands

    Google’s change in policy has the potential to create serious consequences for brand marketers. Marketers who sell through both direct and reseller channels will need to increase their advertising spend as they will be bidding against resellers for their own brand names. They will need to bid higher to have their ads appear in a top 5 position.

    This can also have a significant effect on brand image. Paid search advertisers will be able to position a brand based on their own strategies. Enabling others to control a brand can have serious consequences on the value of the brand, and can quickly erode its value.  How many exposures of an ad stating “Hermes Handbags – Cheap!” will it take before that prestigious brand image starts to decline?

    How will Google’s changes affect your business?  Will you be competing with resellers? Do you risk of losing control of your brand?  We’d like to know.

  • Google’s Entrée into Behavioral Marketing

    by Jim Auer | Mar 11, 2009

    Google announced today that they will begin a test of behavioral targeting through their AdSense network.  This will be a significant change in how advertisers can use Google to target a specific profile on sites other than its search page.

    To give you some background, AdSense is Google’s content network, where it places text and display ads on sites of other publishers; this enables Google to extend its reach and the publishers to generate more ad revenue. Until now, AdSense ads were targeted based on the content rather than the visitor. For example, ads for cooking products would appear on cooking, food and nutrition sites, and all visitors to these sites were served the same ads.

    Now, with behavioral targeting, Google will collect site visitation data on individual users, analyze it to identify their interests, and then serve ads to them based on those interests – that is, ads will be served based on the individual rather than the site content. It’s possible that a person who visits cooking and golf sites would see a golf products ad when they visit a cooking site. The benefits to an advertiser are a higher level of targeting using Google’s efficient bid model and an increase in campaign ROI, with higher response and conversion rates. Google is addressing the general privacy concerns that come with behavioral targeting, and is not collecting personal data that the site visitation data can be linked to.

    For ideas about how to take advantage of targeted marketing, contact Jim.

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