Google is a Marketer’s Best Friend

I love Google as a marketer. Do you?
I love Google as a marketer. Do you?

Google is indeed a marketer’s best friend.  Since 10 years ago, Google has consistently risen in popularity among web users. Google is a classic example of how to cater your products or services to meet consumers’ needs and wants. With ever increasing quantity of websites online, Google is a boon when it comes to understanding what we are looking for when we search the web. So marketers should really leverage Google’s expertise and dominance on web searches.  Here are 3 reasons why:

1) Google has 83% market share of the global web search engines. It is dominant in almost every country, except in China and Russia, where Baidu and Yandex reign supremacy. Google also dominates web email with its Gmail. Gmail wins with its huge email space offered, where most users do not need to delete any past emails. If you have not realized by now, Gmail offers ads based on your email content. Seriously, with 83% of global market share in search engine, do you need to advertise in other search engines?

2) G00gle searches dominates as the most ‘intelligent’ so far, beating out others such as Yahoo or Bing. Google can fathom what the searcher is thinking about pretty quickly, giving them search results that are accurate. Similarly, Google is able to offer web users the most relevant ads for their searches, ensuring quality clicks for advertisers. Google is also strict about advertisers’ contents, giving favor to advertisers that best meet users’ needs. Advertisers can track their cost per click closely, giving very accurate ROI analysis.

3) The other secret weapon of Google is the ownership of Youtube. Youtube owns 44% market share of online videos watched, many times greater than the other competitors. Youtube now offers pre-video short ads, allowing advertisers to customize ads to their target demographics and most importantly, the advertisers can get assurance that their video ads will be watched by Youtubers. With the integration of Google Account among Gmail, Google+ and Youtube, advertisers can target their consumers pretty accurately.

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What Marvel Comics Taught Me About Branding

XMen: One of the most interesting comic brands of all time
XMen: One of the most interesting comic brands of all time

I have been a fan of marvel comics since I was a teenager.  My favourite comics?  The X-men series, and the line extensions such as Cable and Uncanny X-men.  It helps that my room mate then was an avid comic fan, who worked part time at a comic shop, and who later opened a comic shop of his own later.

Here’s what Marvel Comics taught me about branding:

1) You need to exercise a lot of creativity and create a story around each character.  This is the character’s branding.  Regardless of decades of time since the birth of Iron Man, the story and branding behind the character have lasted through generations.

2) You can have parent branding for individual characters by putting them in a group.  E.g. the Avengers defend planet earth from alien threats, and the members are the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye.

3) Each of the characters form a stronger portfolio (group) than if they fight enemies on their own.  Hulk provided his amazing strength and fury, Thor used his heavenly hammer to punish invaders, and Hawkeye uses his sharp accuracy to shoot enemies down.

4) The characters can change their personality to suit the changing times.  E.g. during World War 2, Captain America was active in defending US from Axis enemies.  During the 1960s, Captain America was active in Avengers defending against alien threats instead.

5) The characters each has an admirable quality that the readers can aspire to.  Iron Man was aspirational in his intelligence and passion in science, while Captain America inspired with his patriotism and athleticism.

6) The characters can change their costumes (packaging) to suit changing times.  Spiderman started off with a bright blue and red costume, then eventually turned into a dark blue and darker red colored costume.  When he turned into venom, the costume turned black to signify the shift towards evil.

7) The characters always meet obstacles along their fight against evil, but through perseverance and willpower they managed to always defeat the enemy in the end.  Likewise in branding, we may meet difficulties at times, but if we persevere, we will prevail in the end.

8) Comic characters are always full of fun, as they use their unique powers to add fun to their lives.  Similarly, branding can be fun, so always see it that way.

Truth, Love and Power in Marketing

The Ultimate Goal of All Brands
The Ultimate Goal of All Brands

I was just reading Steve Pavlina’s website on the pinnacle of human development through Truth, Love and Power.  Steve claims that personal growth will have to start with these three fundamental elements.

In marketing, it is also through truth, love and power that we grow our businesses.  It is through truth of what our products can do that establishes trust with our consumers.  With the truth about how our products can make consumers healthier or make their lives better, consumers will be willing to form a stable, long lasting relationship with us.  If we resort to marketing gimmickry and falsehood, we can get customers to come once, and then never again.

Through love, consumers want to have deeper relationships with their friends and loved ones.  If we can help them to make this easier, consumers will love us to bits too.  There are various kinds of relationship enhancements that a product or service can do.  One is to make the consumer more attractive.  Another is giving gift options for them to share their love.  Also, if you help them to save time, they will have more time for their loved ones.  Gradually, your brand will be included in their circle of loved ones.

Finally, power.  Achievement has always been what keeps us all motivated in pursuing our goals.  Men, especially wants to display their achievements through status symbols of an expensive watch, or the latest Mercedes series.  Women too are not to be left behind.  Women are getting more educated, and are increasingly found in the upper echelon of the corporate ladder.  If you can help them to reach their achievements earlier, or allow them to show their success through your products, your brand will achieve success too.

What Consumers Look for in Facebook Fan Pages

Try beating my level of discount! Take that!

Social networking sites are now the top sites where people spend the most time on, followed by online games and email. Many brands have set up their very own fan pages with activities, contests and brand information. But what are customers looking for in these brand fan pages? Here are the top 3 wants:

1) Discounts and promotions.

2) Purchase information or direct purchase.

3) Product reviews and ranking.

Learn from iPad’s Simplicity in Advertising

iPad2 with its minimalist ad design
iPad2 with its minimalist ad design

Can ads get simpler and more direct than this?  Instead of a whole article on brand philosophy or a laundry list of all the technical features, the iPad 2 ad features just the essential benefits to attract its potential consumers.

Some of you may ask?  Is it because iPad 2 is so well known that it can get away without telling more?  Perhaps.  Regardless, the key lesson is that less is more, and we can all learn to give powerful messages with less words.

Associate a Strong Feeling to your Brand

Can increased heartbeat from a Shaky Bridge be good for your brand?
Can increased heartbeat from a Shaky Bridge be good for your brand?

Excitement can add liking to your brand.  So how can you generate more excitement and liking for your brand?  Let’s start with a little background study first.

An experiment was done on two groups of people.  For the first group, the participants had to cross a normal, stable bridge to get to the other side.  At the other side of the bridge is a decent looking female researcher who gives out her phone number freely to all participants.  Similarly, the second group is made to go through a bridge also, but this time, the bridge is a shaky, rickety one.

So what were the results?  The second group had far more participants who called the lady after crossing the bridge.  The guys mistook the excitement they had in crossing the bridge to liking the girl.  Their heartbeat increased when they saw the girl, so that mistakenly implied that they must have liked the girl then.  This caused a lot of them to call the girl up after the experiment.

When the car Scion was launched in America, they invited young people to a cool concert with famous pop singers.  The excitement they had at the concert was passed on to the car brand, and a lot of them ended up liking the car after the event.  Something you can do for your brand too?

3 Most Neglected Advertising Truths

3 Most Neglected Advertising Truths
Make a fashion statement. Guaranteed to bring out the sweet you.

Marketers advertise on a regular basis.  Often, it is just communicating the benefits of the products or services to your target consumers.  In the next campaign, you may impart a new creative twist to the communication.  Rinse and repeat.  In doing these, what do common marketers miss?

1) Advertising needs to build brand equities for the product.  First, rank the important attributes of the product category for your target consumers.  In soap, it may be fragrance and sudsiness.  In beer, the taste and how fast it fills you up.  In clothing, it may be expressing your unique self.  Out of the top few attributes, select one that your product has the potential to own.  Then, advertise in the direction to own it over time.

2) Advertising needs to evolve with changing product life cycle.  If your product is new, then awareness is key.  Give more information about the benefits, and reinforce a consistent brand image.  Then when the product matures, you may need to tell your consumers why your product is better vs. existing and new competitors.  Finally, as time progresses further, you need to remind your consumers that your product is still around, and is still one of the better choices.

3) Advertising may not build sales directly.  Advertising can be about creating awareness, but it may not be persuasive enough yet.  It may not have gained the critical mass, or acceptance by the masses.  Huge advertising costs initially may interest only the early adopters and innovators, but not the critical masses.  After some time, word of mouth and testimonials will increase your sales.  It also depends on the category growth and size.  If you have 70% market share, your growth may slow down despite the massive advertising that you do.

7 Tips to Increase Brand Recall

Every marketer wants a piece of a consumer’s brain.

How do you increase brand recall in today’s era of hypercompetition?  If you are the leading brand, how do you maintain your sales lead with perpetual launches by new competitors?  How do you increase not just share of voice, but share of mind?

Here are on 7 tips on how to increase brand recall:

1) Start consumers on your products as early as possible.  Car manufacturers are seeding teenagers with car branding when they are still in high school.  There are toys branded with real life car brand names, and guess who do they reach?  The junior school kids!

2) Link your product attributes with something relevant.  If you are promoting fast cars, show striking visuals of rockets or cheetahs running next to your products.  If you want to link with ‘freshness’, show colourful pictures of fruits along with your products.

3) Make using your products a daily habit.  If you sell lip balms, educate your consumers to put on lip balm after they have applied their daily moisturizers.

4) If you suffer from a large portfolio of line extensions and products, highlight your bestsellers.  Tell your consumers the 2-3 items that are the most popular to make buying decisions faster, and your key products easier to remember.

5) Use nostalgic visual icons or ads to bring back old memories.  Old memories are just that, they don’t fade with time.  Bring back the childhood ads that your consumers have seen.  It will generate warm feelings and buzz, and that’s good for recall.

6) Celebrities may sometimes distract consumers from your products, but they generate heck of a lot of recall.  It makes your products more familiar to consumers.

7) Use word of mouth marketing.  WOM marketing apparently is able to generate more positive emotions in customers compared to normal, traditional ads.  This increases brand recall.

Marketing vs. Sales

After buying loads at 90% disccount, will you ever buy it again at full price?

Marketing and sales need to work hand in hand together to grow businesses.  However, sometimes marketing and sales have unnecessary conflicts on the strategies used.  Here are some areas of conflict:

1) Sales often want to sell the better product.  As in a really technically superior product that works better than competitors.  However, marketing wants a better brand story and perception for the product instead.  Marketing wants to improve the perception of the product in consumers’ minds.  Both areas are important, but each function needs to understand where the other party is coming from.

2) Sales people like line extensions, as it leverages on an existing brand strength to sell additional products.  It does increase sales in the short term, but in the long run you risk diluting the brand equity.  This is what marketing fears the most.  E.g. if your product is in top of mind for the ‘longest lasting pen’, you will risk diluting it with line extensions into other stationery products like rulers, pencils and erasers.  Ok to have line extensions, but beware of over extending.

3) Sales often like to run coupons and promotions such as discounts.  This again generates lots of short term sales, but could be damaging in the long run.  Lots of resources and money goes into running these promotions, which could be better used for branding efforts.  It may also attract customers who buy your products because they are cheaper, but not so later after the promotion has ended.

As I have said, both functions have good intentions.  Ultimately, the company need to have longer term views, and not pressure sales and marketing too much for short term performance at the detriment of long term success.

5 Tips for Great Word of Mouth Marketing

Most Credible Marketing Tool: Mouth to Mouth

Word of Mouth marketing is hotter than ever nowadays, as it saves you marketing money and allows for greater credibility in messages being delivered to your target audience.  Here’s 5 tips on how to have a great word of mouth marketing:

1) Give away freebies that has your brand name on it.  Not just any freebies, but giveaways that create conversations.  E.g. a really cute bobble-head that shakes its head for an anti-smoking campaign.  Or an ugly rag doll that promote ‘Inner Beauty’ for your shower cream.

2) Sponsor events where your products will most likely be used by the participants.  E.g. if you sell a hair gel, give loads of samples away to school kids before their prom, with instructions on how to create the top 5 hottest new looks.  If you sell a moisturizer that smooths out skin instantly, give it to the female counterpart, days before their prom.

3) On your website, create a ‘tell a friend’ form.  Make it simple, with inputs for names and email addresses.  Then your article or website can be passed from friend to friend.  Have content that are cool or useful for them to go viral.

4) Give bloggers free full size products for them to use.  Most of them will review it, as it generates content for their website, especially if the product is relevant to their content theme.  Beware of negative reviews, but that’s the risk you have to take in today’s open consumer discussions online.  Most important is to generate large quantity of reviews for the buzz effect, and proportionally much more positive reviews vs. the negative ones.  So, make sure your product can stand the test of reviews in the first place.

5) Finally, put links of ALL the positive reviews on your website.  Highlight the few detailed and really good ones.  Summarize the highlights of the reviews, and what the reviewers like about your product.