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What Should be in Your Marketing Toolkit?

Tools exist to help us effectively accomplish a project or task.  In business, you need sales and marketing communication tools to inform your buying market about your products and services.  Often this means you need to bridge the gap that exists between your offerings and the market.  Information about your offerings should be conveyed to a prospect so that they have a clear understanding of your solution.  This can be accomplished by developing tools such as a well-structured digital brochure, video, testimonial, printed material or a presentation.  Add "more power" to these tools by including benefits-rich content for success stories, customer profiles, solution overviews, white papers, and more. 
 
In some situations you may want to customize your materials for a particular vertical market or for a specific solution.  All of these are tools that can be developed by your marketing resources to properly equip your sales team.  Collectively, these tools form your marketing toolkit to help you communicate with your buying market.  

Tools with a purpose

Your sales and marketing toolkit should be viewed as an instrument designed to accomplish an objective as effectively and intelligently as possible.  To do that, consider these points:

  • Determine the purpose of each communication tool and what you want them to help you accomplish
  • Focus on the intended audience and how to best connect with them
  • Develop and design formats based on how your audience prefers their information to be presented
  • Create a logical flow to your communication content that unfolds your story
  • Use language that relates well with your audience and demonstrates your knowledge for addressing their needs and solving their challenges
  • Keep your content benefit-rich and results-oriented rather than over-baked with hype
  • Leverage the power of client testimonials, quotes and endorsements that offer “proof” of your marketing claims
  • Provide enough information to convey a strong message, but not so much that the piece does all the selling for you
  • Use visually appealing graphics, illustrations and pictures that relate well to your prospects
  • Be consistent with your company’s brand strengths and reputation in all communication tools

Your marketing toolkit is purposed to enhance the sales process in order to professionally convey your solution offering to buyers.  Each of your communication tools will serve a specific purpose on their own and collectively form an integrated sales and marketing toolkit designed to connect well with your market.  

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Logo Makeover

If you haven't seen them by now, here they are:  the new logo for Instagram and the refreshed logo for Aquafina. 

The reviews and responses to Instagram in particular have not been overly favorable.  Many considered the old logo as a beloved retro camera icon while others felt the new look was necessary to create a visual more in step with today's icons. The result is an interesting new logo that combines the simplistic white outline of the iconic camera while adding a vibrant, rainbow-esque background that ironically feels a bit 70's retro.  Regardless, Instagram felt it was necessary and it has certainly garnered major media attention - - which isn't a bad thing.  The brand itself enjoys a huge user base following yet many in that mass have had less than kind things to say about the new mark.  Like all things, time will tell and it will be interesting to see if this direction inspires other brands to follow suit...but hopefully without this psychedelic wave of colors.  

Aquafina, on the other hand, went the subtle route.  The old logo boasted of a jagged mountain range and a serif font with the recognizable elongated letter "Q".  When the in-house team at Aquafina was finished with the new logo, they revealed a toned-down mountain and a very plain font that is popular in many styles today.  Simplicity is the current trend and Aquafina appears to have hit on that.  Even though the roll-out of this new look was accomplished in somewhat of a stealth mode, the reaction to this new mark over the past couple of months has been positive overall.

What About Your Brand Identity?

Having a professional logo with visual appeal that reflects well on your business is important.  A dated logo will make your business look old and amateur while an updated logo will help your company stand out and look current.  Here are a few tips to consider about your logo:

  • Visual impressions matter - don’t give potential customers a reason to discard your business by having a cheap-looking, outdated logo
  • A solid logo design creates a positive impression of your business and differentiates you from competitors
  • Looking outdated may falsely convey that your company is out of touch
  • Be sure your logo connects well with your market without forcing them to figure out what the logo means and what your company is all about

Remember, your logo is only one important piece of your entire branding image.  When you update your logo, be sure to evaluate other components that may need to be refreshed so that your image is consistent across all communication platforms.

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Bullsye UBJ B

Recently published in the Upstate Business Journal, this article provides insights related to strategic marketing and how to map out a plan.  Just as a map illustrates the best way to reach a destination, a marketing road map serves as a guide that outlines how your company will connect to the market to create revenue-generating opportunities. Your marketing road map will provide details about the proper “marketing routes” that will work best for your business.

Click here for the entire article:  Strategic Marketing Requires a Road Map.  

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The business climate has experienced more conditional changes within the past few years than most people can remember. An uncertain economy, rising unemployment, a weak housing market and many other factors have contributed to these conditions. Although these remain tough times, it isn't a time to fold the tent and hide under the bed. Instead, why not buy a new mattress?

Read more

While in the waiting room of a doctor's office, I noticed a couple of framed posters on the wall that caught my attention. With an emphasis on sports medicine, this particular office is well known for their expertise in treating both athletes and those who enjoy moderate sports activities.

As I approached the large posters, I was immediately struck by the testimonials each one projected. The first was an image of former swimmer Amy Van Dyken. Beneath her picture, the text read "4 time Olympic Gold Medalist". However, that had been modified when Amy autographed the poster. Next to her signature, Amy had marked through the number 4 and written 6! But, here's where the eye-opener comes in - - next to that, she wrote "thanks to you". The endorsement now stated "6 time Olympic Gold Medalist - Thanks to You"; directly attributing her success to the sports medicine doctor.
 
The second poster was one of former Major League Baseball player, Jeff Bagwell, when he played for the Houston Astros. Next to his autograph, he wrote "Thank you for helping me make it to the World Series." Wow! That's the type endorsement you just don't see every day.
 
Your business really isn't that different from this sports medicine doctor. Granted, you may not have access to the same "star power" of a celebrity endorsement, but if you're doing a good job for your customers, surely someone will want to boast about that on your behalf.
 
Endorsements are powerful and can be used in many ways such as your website, in newsletters, brochures, etc. All it takes is a simple quote, a comment or something similar that states your business delivers what you promise and your customer receives the expected result - maybe even more!

Even if you are not a golf fan, stories about the Masters tournament played at Augusta National will interest you. Some tell of the personal side of a player like Phil Mickelson and his family while others remain centered on the game itself. Beyond the stories, though, is a mind-boggling business that makes this a big time event.

Tickets for the tournament days are nearly impossible to obtain unless you know someone. Practice round tickets are only available through a lottery system. It's all highly controlled by the tournament because they can do it. And that's how they like it.

Why? Because the demand is there. Plus, they like the prestige and tradition that are synonymous with the Masters.

For an operation that is only 'public' a few days out of the year, the tournament can turn a buck. It's done strategically and very effectively. Food and beverage options are very inexpensive considering the venue and the process for obtaining a quick meal is simple and easy. That's all by design.

But, rather than mark up food and beverage items beyond reason, it is the merchandise that sells like crazy. Nowhere else can you buy authentic Masters merchandise but at Augusta National (of course, there are those who resell on eBay). Lines of patrons file into the pro shops to grab whatever gear they can with the coveted Masters logo on it. You name it and they have it - golf shirts and tee-shirts to ball caps and ball markers. There are towels, flags, playing cards, belts and more.

Just as quickly as the merchandise flies off the shelf, it is restocked by fast moving clerks. It's an amazing process as the clerks know that everyone in the shop is there to buy something. They don't have to persuade anyone. It's a dream come true for retail selling. Imagine the margins on these products. Tee-shirts are $26, ball caps are $24 and golf shirts are $68. With the buying power that the Masters undoubtedly wields, the profits must be extremely favorable.

Even though this entire operation is an extraordinary one, it doesn't happen automatically. The Masters tournament understands their market. They understand demand and they know how to sell right into it - without really having to sell.

That's where some businesses miss it. They think a product will sell itself or that demand will somehow be there. That's not always the case. Sometimes you have to create it. And, oftentimes, you have to sell it. However, when everything is aligned (strategy, marketing, sales and service), you will reap the rewards.

Wouldn't it be great to be the 'Masters' of your market!

This was too good to pass up on branding and who actually represents the brand - a blog post by marketing guru, Seth Godin. It is a near perfect follow-up to our recent posting on Billy Mays and the brands he represented. In that post, we asked the question as to whether or not the brands he pitched could survive without him since he was arguably, the brand!

In the case of Seth Godin's posting, look at the reverse situation. It's a sad reality that there are employees out there working for supposedly reputable brands, yet taking no responsibility to uphold the integrity of the company, business, product or services because...drum roll...it's just a job...all I do is work here!

Seth nails it: when you are employed by the company, then you represent EVERYTHING about that business and thus, the brand. And, that means the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly (thank you Mr. Eastwood).

Thankfully, there are companies out there who have instilled a culture within their organizations where employees 'get it'. Go to a Chik-fil-A sometime and you'll see it from every single employee. You'll never hear one of them proclaim 'I just work here'.

Pitchman Billy Mays revolutionized direct response advertising via his unmistakable commercial presence that always opened with “Hi, Billy Mays here…”He became the icon of direct response television commercials and infomercials.What’s interesting is the effectiveness of his pitches that resulted in the sales of millions of dollars of product.

This brings up the question:was Billy Mays really the brand or was it the product he was selling?His products certainly have become household brand names – OxiClean, Orange Glo, Awesome Auger, Mighty Putty, etc.But, without Billy Mays these arguably would be unknown.However, having a strong pitch for a product is just one aspect to building an effective brand – it has to work and be well received by the consumer.If these products didn’t deliver on their brand promises as Billy demonstrated in his commercials, additional sales would likely have never happened.Still, with a guy like Mays and his notoriety representing the products, one could make a strong case that he is more of the brand than anything else.He is the voice, the image, the seller, the convincer – the guy who compels the sale.That’s more than just a sales guy.

It is very difficult to think about any of these brand names without the name and image of Billy Mays coming to mind at the same time. What happens now? His commercials continue to be aired since his death and unquestionably the products are selling. Over time, will they sustain without Billy Mays? Have the brands built a strong enough following to succeed without their pitchman? Only time will tell us how these products will perform sales-wise in the future and whether or not they can live on without their beloved spokesperson.

Yep, it appears Denny's is at it again. They must be on to something that is working. A new advertisement is launching to promote another free meal for their Grand Slamwich. As they did during the Super Bowl ad, Denny's will be offering a freebie to those who bring a friend who could use a good meal. The idea is to promote 'acts of kindness'. A good idea, no doubt, and one that will continue to boost their already high brand favorability.

Some may be asking why they would bother with another free offer. In marketing, there is no more powerful word than 'free'. And, it works. It's obviously working for Denny's because they wouldn't bother investing in another promotion of this type if the first had been unsuccessful. Plus, they understand the importance of consistency. The Super Bowl promo could have easily been a one-off, one-time deal that we soon forgot about. But, no, the marketing pros at Denny's recognize that and are ready to pull the trigger again. When this ad hits, there will be many consumers who recall the Super Bowl promotion and thousands upon thousands who will recall excellent service and quality food when they partook of the free Grand Slam meal back in February.

This is likely to create a lot of additional buzz for Denny's. That's only part of what they're after. It is the buzz that translates into revenue dollars that will be the real measure. I'm betting they'll please a lot of hungry patrons while bringing a smile to the company's bottom line.

 

On a trip to the coast last fall, I observed a fisherman that to me appeared to know what he was doing. He arrived on the beach and proceeded to mark his spot, prepare bait and set his pole with high hopes of landing 'the big one'. I watched out of curiosity as he cast his rod then waited patiently for a bite on the end of the line. Sure enough, he had action in no time. From my vantage point and distance from him, it was difficult to see exactly what he caught, but I did witness a few 'keepers'. At the same time, there were definitely some 'throw backs'.

As this scene unfolded, it reminded me of how many companies approach their marketing. The intentions are normally good, but sometimes the strategy and execution are lacking. Simply casting your marketing dollars into the blue abyss hoping for a big bite is a high risk and expensive venture. It's essentially the same as mass communication with the intention of reeling in perhaps only a select few keepers. The bait and rod may be right and even the blue waters where those prospects are looming, but tossing a 'hook' for anyone to snag probably isn't the best approach.

Wouldn't you have a much better opportunity of success by identifying who you want to send your message to, tailoring it to their needs and then executing a plan that properly connects with them? Such an approach is targeted and strategic to maximize your marketing investment and efforts.

Think about that the next time you're tempted to bait your hook before tossing it to the masses.



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