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The ancient, proven path to marketing success – Credible, Emotional, Rational

BNBranding Bend, Oregon advertising agencyHumans love instant gratification. In fact, our brains are wired for it. But the path to marketing success is not instantaneous. It starts in the gut, meanders around till it hits your heart, and finishes in the head — if you play your cards right.

Say hello to the holy trinity of marketing success: Credible, Emotional, Rational. Gut, Heart, Head, in that order.

This isn’t a new idea. In fact, it’s a proven process of persuasion that dates back thousands of years, to the ancient greeks.

the ancient proven path to marketing success - Aristotle

Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher.

Aristotle was onto something. His famous modes of rhetorical persuasion — Ethos, Pathos and Logos — were strikingly similar to Gut, Heart, Head. Effective arguments, Aristotle said, include all three.

The path to marketing success begins with Ethos — the credibility piece.

Aristotle recognized the importance of credibility, and said persuasive power often comes from the character of the presenter.

The idea goes like this… If the audience has a good gut reaction to the presenter, they are much more likely to believe the presentation or buy the product.

It comes down to trust.

Back in the Mad Men days of advertising Ethos was used to sell everything from toothpaste to pick up trucks… put an actor in a white coat and you’ve got yourself a credible expert. “Nine out of ten dentists recommend…”

These days people are more skeptical, and it takes more effort to earn trust in the marketplace.

That’s what being a “thought leader” is about. That’s why white papers and case studies make for good “content.”  That’s why authenticity is such a hot topic in marketing circles.

That’s also why so many companies pay millions for celebrity endorsements. When they don’t have an honest differentiator, they often borrow credibility from A-list Hollywood stars. They even pay for big-name voice-overs.

Ethos in advertising bend advertising agencyWhen Donald Sutherland does a voice-over for orange juice, even the farmers feel the love. That’s ethos plus pathos. Gut and heart equals booming orange juice sales.

Pathos represents the emotional heart of your sales pitch.

The english words “sympathy” and “empathy” come from Greek root, “Pathos”.  This is where passion and creativity comes into play, and it’s where most business people fail miserably.

Managers, particularly those inclined toward the finance side of things, think vertically. They work in a straight, logical line from one thing the next. Top to bottom. It’s hard for them to leap out of that left-brain world and into the realm of emotion and empathy.

Creative folks, on the other hand, think horizontally, diagonally and vertically. Sometimes all at the same time.  We bounce from one seemingly unrelated thought to another and connect the dots in brilliant new ways.

That’s why creativity is so valued in the advertising world.

All the latest brain research proves that emotion drives behavior. Not logic. Logic rationalized behavior. So smart brand managers know the path to marketing success is hiring advertising pros who can communicate the emotional heart of their brand messages.

It’s not just a digital media buying exercise. It’s strategic message development. It’s not just reaching an audience, it’s making an honest, emotional connection with real people. It’s not shoving stuff on unsuspecting consumers, it’s making a genuine connection with people.

Logos is the left-brain rationalizer.

Sometimes you need more than just a credible presenter and a heart-felt pitch. That’s why there’s Logos. Pure Logic. Stats and data. The left-brainier, cognitive leg of the stool.

Unfortunately, many companies rely solely on this. They present all sorts of supporting facts about the features of their products and forget all about the main emotional benefit.

This is especially true in business-to-business marketing and in technology marketing. Most CEOs are simply unequipped to make the leap from the rational, factual side to the emotional side of the equation.

path to marketing successBut just because someone’s making a buying decision at work doesn’t mean she’s suddenly turned into Mr. Spock. She still has feelings.

In their extensive research, Antonio Dumasio and Joseph LeDoux of USC have verified the theory that the head is primarily used to justify decisions that have already been made in the gut and the heart.

We aren’t rational, but we are rationalizers.

Their studies show that emotions don’t decide for us, but they weigh in early and heavily into the decision making process. Plus, emotions are inextricably interconnected with rationality, so no decision is purely logical.

“We’re not thinking machines, we are feeling machines that think.”

That’s why it’s very difficult to sway a consumer to change from one tried and true brand to something completely new. A long list of rational bullet points cannot compete with gut feelings.

Douglas Van Praet, in “Unconscious Branding” sums it up for marketers: “The emotional part of the brain serves as the primary driver of our behavior, while our rational mind acts as a backseat observer that, more often than not, goes along for the ride.”

So the path to marketing success is a matter of balancing Aristotle’s three elements.

Ethos — credibility to elicit that positive gut feeling about you and your product. Without it, no one will be open to receive your message.

Pathos — emotional content to connect in the heart and create brands that are truly loved.

Logos — facts and data to help people rationalize their decisions in their own heads.

If you want a more balanced marketing effort, give us a call.

541-815-0075

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Clients

Case studies from some of our recent clients…

We’re lucky. As a Bend, Oregon ad agency we attract clients from Canada to Costa Rica.

They aren’t fortune 500 companies. That’s not our niche. They are  business owners who don’t have time to become marketing experts. They are entrepreneurs with a dream and a product, but that’s about it. They are the little guys who aspire to be the big name.

They are highly skilled, under-achieving business owners who want to reach he next level of success. Whatever that may be.

Here are some specific examples our advertising agency clients:

Naming, branding and advertising in the supplements industry

Client: Organic 3 Inc. — Detroit, Michigan

 

Brands: Organic 3, Corganic, GutPro, GutZyme, Wake Up Maggie

 

Bend, Oregon Ad Agency: BN Branding

 

Initial Assignment: Reorganize and rebrand all of the company’s product lines.

 

Solution: Devise a whole new category of probiotic supplements, vitamins and minerals.

 

Dan Corrigan and his partners at Organic 3 knew they needed help with their branding. They had a successful ecommerce operation but they were selling their products under a hodge-podge of names with no clear brand strategy.

“We were all over the place,” Dan said. “We thought we wanted to keep the GutPro name, and introduce a new name for our other lines, but the team at BN Branding pointed us in a much better direction.”

Smidge, small batch supplements.

BN Branding devised a whole new name, new category and new identity for Organic 3. It was a classic case of choosing the one name that produced the most devisive feedback in early research.

“We thought we knew what we wanted for a new name, Dan said. “But Smidge is so much better! People either loved it, or hated it. That’s how we knew it was going to be a winning brand. And their strategy of owning a category is absolutely brilliant. No one else in our industry is doing that.”

Once the naming process was complete the BN Branding team designed the brand identity, the packaging, advertising concepts and the entire look and feel for all Smidge stuff. See it all at GetSmidge.com

 

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Branding in the natural foods industry

Client: Leslie’s Organics — Petaluma, CA

 

Brand: Coconut Secret

 

Bend, Oregon Ad Agency: BN Branding

 

Initial Assignment: Update an old, outdated website.

 

Solution: Launch an ecommerce operation and turn the website into a profit center.

 

Leslie Caren was drawn to BN Branding through the Brand Insight Blog.

“When I read John’s article on the yin and yang of marketing, I just had to connect with him,” Leslie said. “I knew we needed to update our website, but John and his team ended up delivering much more than that.”

It was a classic case of delivering what’s best for the client, rather than what the client thought she needed. Leslie did not have an ecommerce store, and we would have been doing her a disservice by not proposing that. So it wasn’t a case of migrating old content onto a new website, they needed a whole new approach to their business.

“They really went above and beyond, with a new tagline, new photography, new storytelling and a whole new way of doing business.,” Leslie said. “I never dreamed we’d have this type of ecommerce business. The service at BN Branding has been tremendous.”

 

 

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Golf Industry Marketing

Client: The Golf Institute — Lady Lake, FL

 

Initial Assignment: Re-name and re-brand the company.  Create the company’s first website and ad campaign.

 

Bend, Oregon Ad Agency: BN Branding

 

Solution: Build a whole new business model that turns the sales pitch into a money-making educational service.

 

John Ford has been a client since 2006. We started with brand strategy, a value proposition and brand identity, then continued with a website, point-of-purchase advertising, direct response and print advertising. He’s one tough customer.

“Marketing is kind of an obsession of mine,” Ford said. “I’ve studied it. I’ve read tons of books. And I worked with big-name advertising guys all across the country, but I keep going back to this little Bend advertising agency.”

“They have a process that I like, and they always deliver what they say they’re going to. And damn… some of the advertising they’ve done for me is just brilliant. We have more leads and a better sales process than we’ve ever had before. We’re killing it with our putting clinics.” Read more about the GNL case study here.

 

 

BN Branding

 

Marketing in the natural foods industry

Client: Azure Standard — The Dalles, OR

 

Bend, Oregon Ad Agency: BN Branding

 

Initial Assignment: Increase ad revenues in the company’s quarterly publication.

 

Solution: Revamp the magazine, launch a content marketing effort, and build industry goodwill.

 

Results:  Increased revenues 10x in just 12 months.

 

Azure Standard is a national distributor of natural foods and organic products. We devised the Azure Indie Partner Program that targeted Azure’s vendors, industry partners and potential vendors in order to build the Azure brand from the inside.

“Sometimes the best branding projects aren’t focused on end customers,” said Debbie Pantenburg, CMO at Azure.

“What John created was a strategically brilliant concept that transformed Azure’s position in the industry. He connected suppliers, team members and customers in a common cause. The idea went right to our core values, and helped define a business model that differentiates Azure from the competition.”

“John was a key partner on the marketing team. He was also instrumental in the launch of our content marketing effort and advertising.”

 

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Real Estate advertising and branding

Client: Morris Hayden — Bend, OR

 

Bend, Oregon Ad Agency: BN Branding

 

Initial Assignment: Naming, brand identity and website design

 

Results: Successfully launched a new brand in a highly crowded market and later sold it for a 12x ROI.

 

Morris Hayden was a property management company and real estate brokerage in Bend, Oregon. We did the naming, created this brand identity, and built a highly functional website that enabled the owner to achieve her dream… a highly profitable sale of the company.

“Bend is overrun by realtors, investors and property management companies,” said Erika Morris, founder & former owner of Morris Hayden. “BN Branding helped us stand out from the crowd and added immediate value to the company.”

“We needed the website to be just as functional as all the rest, with the MLS listings and all that, plus it had to look different. The idea of Rosey the Riveter was perfect for us. We got compliments on that site all the time, and it was a big factor in my successful exit from the business. ”

 

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Branding and advertising in the software industry

Client: SaleFish Software — Toronto, Canada

 

Bend, Oregon Ad Agency: BN Branding

 

Initial Assignment: New brand identity & messaging

 

Solution: Rebrand the company with a new identity, new value proposition, new messaging and new sales materials

 

 

SaleFish Software is one of the entrenched leaders in the Canadian proptech arena. But the CEO  needed some help taking it to the next level.  In order to go global he knew he needed a better brand identity and a new way of looking at his value proposition.

“BN Branding was very thorough in their process, and they determined that we needed to change the way we sold our software,” Haws said. “In a nutshell… We quit selling the nitty-gritty features, and started focusing on the outcomes that we achieve for our clients. And the response was immediately positive. I’m very, very happy with the new branding. It’s all coming together fabulously.”

 

BN Branding

 

 

 

Marketing in the tourism industry

Client: Black Butte Ranch

Bend, Oregon Advertising Agency: BN Branding

 
 

Assignment: Brand re-fresh, advertising, resort signage, collateral, direct mail.

 

Results: A record number of heads in beds

 

We literally wrote the book on the Black Butte Ranch Brand. We also updated an aging logo, ran a ground-breaking radio ad campaign, devised seasonal promotions and produced new signage throughout the resort.

“When I was at Black Butte Ranch  we wanted a Bend ad agency that really knew the tourism market,” said Preston Thompson.  “BNBranding was our advertising agency of record. They started  by doing research and writing ‘the book’ on the Black Butte Ranch brand. Then they refreshed our brand identity, produced new signage throughout the resort, and did some great advertising for us. Their work put heads in beds and helped us increase our golf revenues.”

“I think the radio campaign that John and his team did for us was some of the best radio work I’ve ever heard. It was “out there” for Black Butte and yet it was right on brand. The story telling, the script writing, the choice of talent… it was amazing.”

 

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Branding a Non-Profit Organization

Client: Working Wonders Children’s Museum

 

Bend, Oregon Advertising Agency: BN Branding

 

Assignment: Launch a new non-profit brand from the ground up… Naming, identity design, advertising

 

Launching a start-up is hard. Launching a start-up non-profit organization is even harder.

BN Branding was the advertising agency that helped build Working Wonders Children’s Museum from the ground up. We devised the name, tagline and brand identity, helped with fundraising and board development, wrote their mission statement and acted as the museum’s ad agency. We even helped create and build the playful, hands-on spaces in the museum itself. It was a labor of love.

 

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Marketing to Restaurant Owners

Client: The Where To Eat Guide — Bend, OR

 

Bend, Oregon Advertising Agency: BN Branding

 

Initial Assignment: Create sales materials and a pitch deck

 

Solution: An integrated, in-your-face campaign that opened up two new markets.

 

The owner of The Where-To-Eat-Guide needed to get his message through to hyper-busy restaurant owners.  So we hit them right between the eyes with ads, email, direct mail and printed sales materials that helped him expand his publishing business from Bend, to Portland, to Seattle and eventually Napa.

“I didn’t think I needed an advertising agency,” said John Herbik. “I figured I could do a lot of it myself, with just some freelancers. But I need to thank John and his team for their insight on branding and marketing. The stuff they did really got attention and opened a lot of doors for my sales people.”

 

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Here's what they say about us:

 

“As a CFO, I’m pretty leery of branding firms. Most of them just end up costing the company a lot of money, without any measurable results. But John Furgurson has a good head for business and he grasps the importance of results. His batting average is very good. Plus, he looks for ways to save money, not just spend it. I wish we would have spent more with BN Branding, and less with the other firms we’ve hired.”

Carl Rigney

CFO and franchise owner
 

“From a branding standpoint, we were pretty well lost before we hired BN Branding. They’ve helped us organize our product lines, create a comprehensive brand strategy, and design two fantastic brands. It’s been a great combination of strategic consulting and creative design… I’ve been very impressed.”

Dan Corrigan

Organic 3
 

“As an interior designer I really appreciate the art and craftsmanship of the work they do at BN Branding. Their design work is meticulous and very well thought out. John Furgurson is the consummate professional… always delivers what he says he’s going to deliver. They did my website and some very nice printed sales materials. It’s first rate. I would definitely recommend them.”

Lisa Slayman

Slayman Cinema
 

“My “aha” moment with BN Branding was truly remarkable.  They helped me recognize a far broader application for my product.  They also went above and beyond with their namestorming process and came up with Kittigan Crossboats. My relatively small, early investment with BN Branding was immensely worthwhile.  John is a skilled strategist with some mad creative skills. “

Michael Grant

Kitigan CrossCanoes
 

“We didn’t think we needed an ad agency, but when we found BN Branding, our website was in a state of emergency. They took great interest in our products and took the time to get familiar with our business model and our clientele. John came up with the new name and logo. And when the site was finished and launched, our selling proposition was much more clear, which led to more online sales without the “pre-call”.  I would recommend BNBranding to anyone looking for any marketing.”

Scott Beydler

Beydler CNC
 

BN Branding News

National brand launch in the supplements industry.

Sept 10, 2020

Dan Corrigan and his partners at Organic 3 knew they needed help with their branding. They had a successful ecommerce operation with one of the leading brands of probiotics, but they were selling their products under a hodge-podge of names with no clear brand strategy.

“We were all over the place,” Dan said. “We thought we wanted to keep the GutPro name, and introduce a new name for our other lines. We even had a name in mind, but we ran into some trademark issues with that.  Luckily, the team at BN Branding pointed us in a much better direction.”

Smidge, small batch supplements.

BN Branding invented a whole new category of supplements and devised the brand name and new identity for Organic 3. It was a classic case of choosing the one name that produced the most devisive feedback in early research.

“People either loved it, or hated it,” said John Furgurson, Creative Director at BN Branding. “That’s how we knew that Smidge was going to be a winning brand. “We just had to show the team enough other good names, and wait till all the partners came back around to Smidge. I give them a lot of credit for being brave, and diving into the new identity with both feet.”

Once the naming process was complete the BN Branding team designed the brand identity, the packaging, advertising concepts and the entire look and feel for all Smidge stuff. See it all at GetSmidge.com

 

 

 

Big things happening for our client in the proptech software industry.

July 16, 2019

SaleFish Software is a SAAS company out of Toronto that serves residential real estate developers. Rick Haws, SaleFish CEO, hired BN Branding initially to do a new website. However, as the research & discovery work progressed we determined that SaleFish needed to rebrand itself in order to achieve the goals that Rick set out.

The scope of work has progressed from a simple website refresh to a new brand identity, collateral materials, video production, content marketing and digital advertising.

“I’m very happy with the new branding,” Haws said. “It came together perfectly… with the new logo and the new site, and some new sales materials… now we’re poised to expand our global reach.”

 

Bend branding firm redesigns GutPro packaging

Jan 2, 2019

Organic 3 Inc., makers of Gut Pro probiotics and owner of Corganic Ecommerce has hired BN Branding to design a new brand identity and packaging for their GutPro line of probiotics and enzymes.

 

 

Bend, Oregon advertising agency BN Branding chosen to help launch a new health benefits company in California.

Nov 15, 2018

Bend, Oregon branding firmIncentive Health of Bakersfield, California has hired BN Branding to help them stir things up in the health benefits arena. The Bend, Oregon advertising agency is working on a brand strategy, go-to-market plan, website, sales materials and a tactical marketing plan for the new company.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to help create a disruptive new brand, from the ground up,” said John Furgurson, owner of BNBranding. “We’re going to change the way CEOs look at health benefits. It’s exciting.”

Until now, CEOs have faced a difficult decision when doing their annual review of health benefits.

“It’s always been a trade off,” Furgurson said. “They had to choose between their people and their profits. It’s a no-win. But now there’s an alternative to that.”

 
 

BNBranding launches new website and ecommerce store for Coconut Secret

Aug, 2018

BNBranding website for Coconut SecretWe’re proud to be working Leslie’s Organics, makers of the Coconut Secret Brand of natural foods. Leslie and Randy chose BN Branding to launch an ecommerce website and provide tactical marketing assistance.

Coconut Aminos is the nation’s #1 selling brand of soy-free Asian condiments. They also have a delicious line of candy bars, chocolate bars and granola bars, all sweetened with coconut nectar. So we’re getting some tasty photography for that. (Thanks to Mike Houska, at Dogleg Studios.)

www.coconutsecret.com

 

Read more news »

Some of the brands we’ve helped over the years…

Brand identity design by BNBranding


Black Butte Ranch brand identity design by BNBranding


Coconut Secret logotype and tagline by BNBranding

Print advertising for Desert Orthopedics by BNBranding




client list of BNBranding

advertising and content marketing for Azure Standard

BNBranding client list

Advertising for Bend Cable - now BendBroadband

Broken Top brand identity by BNBranding

Advertising for COPA in Bend, Oregon

trade advertising for Clif Bar

golf industry branding by BNBranding


Definition of digital marketing — 3 things you HAVE to know

BNBranding logoSurely you’ve heard the online chatter about “digital marketing.” There are a million platforms, channels, systems, software programs, “strategies”  and agencies that are guaranteed to help you “kill it” online.

Every month it’s something new. (You using Facebook Messenger as an ad platform yet?)

If you’re a business owner you have better things to do than follow the scuttlebutt about the shifting landscape within various specialties that fall under the banner of digital marketing.

It’ll make your head spin.

So here’s a little advice… If you’re choosing a digital marketing firm, or thinking of hiring an in-house “digital marketing specialist,” read this post all the way through.

At least you’ll get a handle on the definition of digital marketing. That’s the bare minimum you need to know before diving in. You can’t manage their work effectively if you don’t know the basics:

Choose one main thing BNBranding1. Know the definition of “Digital Marketing.”

You have to understand that the term itself varies dramatically from one firm to the next. Depends on their niche… Some say it’s SEO. Some say it’s web development. Some says it’s pay-per-click advertising. Some say it’s lead-gen. Some say it’s all of the above.

Here’s a definition used by one of the big players in that business:

“Digital marketing is data-driven and targeted brand promotion through technology.”

“Data Driven” and “Targeted” are popular buzzwords these days. But guess what… Marketing consultants, direct response agencies, media-buying specialists and market research firms have been “data driven” since the early 1950’s.

Even Advertising Agencies… They use hard market research data to devise creative campaigns, and then they use sophisticated media targeting to deliver the message to the right people.

This is NOT a new concept in the marketing world.

Digital marketing firms are just using new tools to do the work. And for the most part, it’s good, valuable work that should be part of every marketing plan. But it’s just a part.

Note the use of the word “promotion”.

By definition, promotions are transactional, tactical tools that can boost short term sales. But they do not build brand loyalty. Don’t confuse promotional tactics with marketing strategy or brand building.

And wait a minute… That same firm also claims: “We have the means to take over your marketing from top to bottom, evaluate your brand’s needs and develop a powerful strategy that maximizes profits.”

That’s where they begin to overpromise.

I don’t know any small digital firms that have account planners, market researchers or brand managers on staff who can help you with a brand strategy. Digital marketing people are detail-oriented, technology-minded specialists. They’re not trained — nor wired — to see the big picture.

For that, you need a real a marketing consultant or a strategic branding firm. Even an ad agency would be a better choice for strategy work than a digital marketing firm. Let the digital guys stick to their own definition of digital marketing, and use someone else to oversee the strategy.

2. Know where digital marketing firms fit into the overall marketing landscape.

Naturally, all digital marketing firms contend that “digital is the future of marketing.”  And a lot of business owners are buying into the idea that a digital marketing firm is all they’ll ever need.

But the world’s greatest brands, and the fastest growing small businesses, recognize one old-fashioned business school fact: The best marketing is a MIX of things.

You need a rich mixture of marketing tactics, marketing perspectives and marketing talent — both generalists and specialists.

You also need a mix of different media outlets to keep your brand visible and relevant. Not just social media posts or paid Instagram ads.

A healthy marketing mix means that some of your marketing efforts will be designed for a short-term bump in sales, while others will be designed for building long-term brand loyalty.

Some will be creative, design-oriented, “feel good” efforts like what you get from design firms and ad agencies.

Other tactics will be analytical and numbers-driven, like what you get from digital marketing firms.

Both can move the needle for your brand, but all those pieces should be aligned under one, coherent, overarching marketing strategy.

Digital Marketing Agencies are constantly promoting themselves on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Which is perfectly on-brand, because that’s their wheelhouse. They commonly boast that they “manage $x millions in digital media spending”  which tells me they fit squarely in a specialized niche within the bigger niche of media buying services.

They don’t tout their strategic prowess or creative thinking. Just their ability to manage your social media posts and paid ads on all the various digital channels.definition of digital marketing by BNBranding

The business model that’s taught by all the digital marketing gurus is based on mass scaleability. “Just follow this model and you’re going to crush it,” they all claim.

It’s true. Media planning and buying always has been a highly profitably business model. (That’s how advertising agencies made their millions.) But there’s a dirty little secret in the new model that digital agency owners don’t want clients to know:  When they “scale” the clients pay a price.

The mindset is this: We managed a facebook campaign for a natural foods company that worked well, so we’re going to replicate that and run the exact same thing for a bunch of clients in the same category. All we have to do is change out the logos.

It’s an efficient cash-flow generator for the agency owners, but it’s not necessarily good for your brand. Do you really want to be saying, showing, and doing the same thing as your competitors?

Seth Godin posted this recently:

“Online marketing has become a messy mix of direct marketing, seo, tricks, tips, code and guesswork. It’s an always-moving target and it’s mostly focused on tactics, not strategy, because tactics are easy to measure.”

3.  Know the difference between marketing strategy and tactics.

Digital marketing firms will tell you how “strategic” their social media work is, and they’ll claim that everything they do is based on “strategic targeting.” Sure, targeting is important, but do not expect marketing strategy from a digital marketing firm.

Mark Ritson, a world renown brand strategist and Professor of Brand Management puts it bluntly: “‘Digital Strategy’ is a contradiction in terms. What’s happening all the time now is tactics are getting perverted into ‘strategies’. What you really need is a marketing strategy.”

Strategy first, THEN tactics.

I know it’s confusing. And don’t feel bad if all your efforts have been tactical. Ritson says that 80% of all British companies don’t have a coherent marketing strategy. Everyone’s fixated on tactics these days.

Here’s a good post where you can read more about the differences between marketing strategy and tactics. 

definition of digital marketing by BNBranding

 

Strategy first. Tactics second. 

The old 4 P’s of Marketing still apply.  You should  pay attention to all four, not just the one that’s covered by digital marketing firms.

There’s “Place” which has to do with distribution strategy.

There’s Pricing. 

There’s Product. (A great product makes all the other elements of marketing much easier.)

And finally, there’s “Promotions” which is a catch-all phrase that includes all marketing communications and tactics, including every specialized facet of Digital Marketing.

So you see, the tactical work that Digital Marketing firms do well — SEO, SEM, SMM, CPM — and all those other confusing acronyms — is really just a small part of the overall tactical marketing picture.

Digital marketing firms like to compare themselves to “traditional advertising agencies” because the old, Mad Men model is an easy target.

But digital agencies are actually more similar to Direct Response agencies than they are to traditional ad agencies. Direct Response firms always have been driven by quantifiable data and measurable ROI.

I believe it won’t be long before the term “digital marketing” is dropped entirely from the industry jargon. Because everything’s digital these days. Even traditional old things like radio advertising and print are delivered digitally. The lines are blurry, and the terminology continues to confound many people. (For a primer on marketing terms, try this post from the AMA.)

4. Know who’s really doing the work.

The business model for many Digital Marketing Firms is pretty simple: Scaled Outsourcing. They exploit and monetize multiple sources of cheap labor such as crowdsourcing websites, freelance markets like Upwork or “white label” firms from Asia. Then they mark it up. Dramatically.

It’s a good business model for them because it’s easily scalable, but it’s not designed with the best interest of the client at heart.

There’s no synergy to those efforts because every little marketing tactic is being executed by a different person who knows nothing about your business. Plus, in most cases there’s no strategy to guide the efforts. The right hand seldom knows what the digital left hand is doing at any given time.

So before choosing a digital marketing firm, just know that they cannot help you with the big picture strategy work that’ll build your brand in the long run.

So you have two choices… Become your own, best brand manager and get really good at strategy, OR hire a brand strategy consultant to map things out before you ever jump on board with a digital marketing firm.

Without it, your digital tactics will not be as effective as everyone would like.

If you’re still confused about the definition of digital marketing, give us a call. We’ll coach you through it, from a strategic perspective. 541-815-0075.

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1 new approach to website design

A new approach to website design – What’s the big idea?

BNBranding logoI grew up on the creative side of the advertising industry. In that world, big ideas produce big bucks. Agency creative teams toil endlessly to come up with the spark of an idea that can be leveraged into a giant, category-busting campaign.

When it comes to winning new accounts, ad agencies pit their ideas, head-to-head, with the big ideas from competing agencies. Winner takes all. In that business, big ideas are the currency of success.

a new approach to website design BNBrandingBig ideas are also the bread and butter of the start-up world.

Entrepreneurs and VCs are constantly searching for innovative, disruptive ideas that solve a problem, attract venture capital and produce teaming hordes of 28-year old billionaires.

And in Hollywood, producers are aways searching for high-concept movie ideas that break out of the normal, predictable patterns and produce box-office mega hits like Avatar or Titanic.

There’s absolutely no doubt that big ideas can transform a brand — from bland to brilliant. And there’s no doubt that your website is great place to showcase that big idea.

But you’re going to need a new approach to website design.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the typical website project, big ideas are as rare as a Harry Potter blockbuster.

Most small business websites are nothing more than bad corporate brochures in electronic form. Everywhere you look there are cookie-cutter templates, lousy stock photos and “keyword-rich” copy that sounds like it was rendered by a robot rather than written by a pro.

You wouldn’t take a generic ad template that all your competitors are using, fill in the blanks, and then spend $20,000 to run it in a national magazine. But that’s essentially what a lot of companies are doing with their website design projects. It’s like paint by numbers, and the results are mind-numbing.

I’ve come to the conclusion that we need a whole new approach to website design.

Because the current standard operating procedure for website projects is all wrong. It shouldn’t be a project at all, it should be an ongoing initiative. It should always be evolving and improving, just like your business.

“When’s it going to be done?” is the wrong question to ask.  It should never be done.

Instead, ask “What’s the big idea?” What’s the novel concept that will differentiate this website from all the rest, and move viewers to action?

A new approach to website design BNBrandingEveryone in the web development world knows that web projects get bogged down by one thing: “Content.”

The tech guys who build sites are always waiting for interesting headlines, engaging copy, uncommon offers, authentic stories and brilliant graphics to arrive from the client. Sometimes, it seems, for an eternity.

Because that’s the hardest part. Building a site on a WordPress theme is easy compared to the work that has to be done, up front…

First you need some Strategic Insight. Then the Big Idea. (Think “Got Milk” or “Where’s The Beef.”) THEN execution… That’s where all the elements come together.  1-2-3.

Unfortunately, most companies jump right to Step 3.

In the web design arena, the tail is definitely wagging the dog. It’s technology first, process second, content third, design fourth. Nowhere does the big idea come into play. It’s the most commonly overlooked element of any web project.

So here’s my advice for any business owner or marketing person who’s thinking of “doing a new website”:

Forget about that. Stop thinking of it as a website design project, and instead, launch a campaign that starts with a with a big idea that is showcased on the website. Think of it as a long-term marketing program, not a short-term project. Think of it as a new approach to web design that’s more wholistic, more integrated, and more effective than the old way.

Yes, paddling back upstream is often difficult work. And you often need outside help to come up with the strategic insight and big idea you really need. But the effort will pay off.

The big idea is the branding thread that connects all your marketing efforts… It’s not limited just to your website. It should carry through to your social media campaigns, your paid advertising, your PR and even your customer service procedures.

a new approach to website design by BNBrandingWhen you begin with a big idea, the website falls into place quite naturally. It’s just another tactical execution of the big, strategic idea. When it’s done right, it obviously aligns your marketing strategy and tactics into one, kick-ass idea.

For more on the new approach to website design, try this post.

If you’d like an affordable, honest assessment of your current strategy and website tactics, click here. 

If you want expert marketing assistance, just give us a call. 541-815-0075.

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5

Sorting through the endless “marketing opportunities”

BNBranding logoThe marketing landscape isn’t really a landscape anymore. It’s more like a fast moving landslide, snapping trees and engulfing unsuspecting business owners up to their ears in muck.

Most clients I know can’t possibly wade through the complex maze of choices.

They are wearing so many different hats, they can’t begin to sort out all the “marketing opportunities,” much less make sound strategic decisions regarding each one.

Quite frankly, it’s silly to even try.

There’s affiliate marketing, agile marketing, advertising, analytics, ambush marketing, B to B, B to C, B to P, behavioral marketing, blackhat marketing, branding,  blog marketing and buzz marketing. And that’s just the first two  letters of the alphabet.

It’s nuts. This is one area where delegation and outsourcing are the only paths to sanity.

Even the biggest brands in the world, with massive marketing departments, can’t make sense of it all. Bob Liodice, President and CEO of the Association of National Advertisers summed it up at a recent conference in Orlando.

“Yes, there’s been substantial technological progress. But is that progress getting us anywhere? The answer is no,” Liodice said. “We should not accept this byzantine, non-transparent super complex, digital media supply chain. No one can understand it. ”

new approach to website designUnless you have a background in at least one major marketing discipline, or unless you have time to devote 30 hours a week learning this stuff, your business will be better off if you stay focused on what you know, and turn to a savvy marketing pro who can dodge the landslide altogether.

I’ve seen what happens when business owners try to forego that marketing help, and try to tackle too many tactics…

• Sloppy, ineffective websites go live, simply because the owner has more important things to do.

• Value propositions go undefined and miscommunicated, both to the sales staff and to end users. Ask 100 small business owners “what’s your value proposition” and at least half of them will be stumped.

• Trade ads get printed in consumer magazines because the “marketing person”/executive assistant doesn’t know the difference.

• E-commerce sales copy on umpteen online retail sites is unproofed, uninspiring and untrue, leading to lackluster E-commerce sales.

• High-dollar digital campaigns directed to teenage gamers pop up on Our Time – a dating site for people over 50. Re-targeting gone wrong!

• Marketing tactics and strategy get completely out of alignment.

• A company that provides private jet services spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on schlocky local TV ads. The phones ring, but no one buys. Big surprise. They’re shouting to the wrong audience entirely –  one that can’t possibly afford the product.

• Social media posts go viral – but they’re so off brand and out of left field, no one has any idea where they even came from.

Yep, the good, ol’ American do-it-yourself mentality dooms many marketing efforts, and even ensures the failure of thousands of businesses every year. For every new tactic, and every variety of marketing, there are a hundred different ways to screw things up.

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So what are you supposed to do? How can business owners find the right marketing tool for the job and quit wasting time on marketing opportunities that go nowhere?

First of all, you need to have a general grasp of the complex marketing landscape.

Reading this blog and other credible sources is a good start. You need to know just enough to manage the process. It’s no different than managing lawyers or accountants or programmers… you can’t be totally in the dark about what they’re doing

Second, find someone you trust implicitly to help you wade through all the marketing clutter.

There are thousands of capable consultants, agencies, firms and freelancers who would love to help you. They will pour heart and soul into your marketing efforts, if you just treat them fairly and pay them on time and accept their outside perspective as a positive.

It’s easy to say, “yeah, well you don’ t really understand my business.”  They may not know it as well as you do, but what we do know is marketing, That’s what you’re hiring us for. We can learn the ins and outs of your operation as we go, just as you can learn the basics of marketing and branding.

Third, set clear goals, expectations and metrics.

Demand some accountability. The last thing you need is someone running around spending all your marketing dollars with no clear direction.

Balance your marketing strategy and tactics with BNBrandingYou need to balance your strategy and tactics and possibly even pull all the pieces together with marketing automation tools.

So start with strategy, not tactics.

Social Media marketing is not a strategy.

Digital advertising  is not a strategy.

Marketing automation is not a strategy.

If you don’t know the difference between strategy and tactics, all the more reason to  outsource your marketing.

Don’t expect a specialist in one little marketing niche to understand the entire marketing landscape. It may take one person to set the strategy and another group to execute all the tactics. After all, there are a lot of them.

I have a client who has spent 10 years studying marketing, just so he could “talk intelligently” with people like me.

He has read hundreds of marketing books, attended conferences, and traveled the country to hear the big-name gurus speak. He’s learned a lot, and yet he freely admits he could never do what I do. Because learning it from a book and actually doing the work successfully, over and over again, are two different things entirely.

But now he knows enough to manage the process. And he has someone he trusts to help him choose his opportunities wisely, and maximize every one.

Here’s more on how to find the right person to manage the complex marketing landscape.

If you want help navigating it all, call BNBranding. And if you’re thinking about marketing automation tools, we should talk.

34 State Farm is Where??? Insurance industry marketing

brand credibility from branding experts

Insurance industry marketing isn’t exactly exciting stuff. Not on most people’s radar, for sure. And yet when my kids were just 9 and ll they could sing the slogans of every major insurance company in the country. They had been exposed to so many commercials, they knew ‘em all…

“Nationwide is on your side.”

“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”

“You’re in good hands, with Allstate.”

Prudential. “ Like a rock.”

“We. Are. Farmers…”

As a parent, it’s alarming. As a branding professional, it’s very interesting.

How could Progressive Flow,  The Geiko Gekko and Mayhem Man become so ingrained in our everyday lives?  And why would the insurance companies spend millions on advertising that reaches children? Seems like their media buy on the Disney Channel and on ABC Family is a lot of wasted exposure.

But then I think about my own experience, and it sort of makes sense.

My parents were insured by State Farm, so that’s all I knew when I bought my first auto policy. My wife had a State Farm agent when we got married. It never occurred to me to look anywhere else, and we’ve never had a compelling reason to change.

Insurance industry marketing is a matter of momentum… if you can get ’em young you’ll probably have ’em for for a long time.

Because Insurance is one of those low-interest, out-of-sight-out-of-mind service categories that no one really wants to think about. I’d rather have a root canal than deal with insurance of any kind. And that’s why those early branding efforts are so important… once they have ya, they have ya.

We’ve stayed with the same insurance company for almost 20 years not because State Farm has good service or great rates. Not because we’re loyal to our agent, who lives 120 miles away and never speaks to us. It’s because we absolutely hate the thought of switching.

It’s like brand loyalty by default. Life, auto, home, boat, cabin… We’re all in, and the hassle factor of changing insurance carriers is just too much to even contemplate.

But that was before we ever filed a major claim. Before our little winter disaster. That’s when all that insurance industry marketing hype came crashing in around us.

Here’s what happened:

insurance industry marketing bnbrandingIt always snows a lot in the Oregon Cascades, but January 2012 was crazy. The garage/shop at our mountain cabin eventually collapsed under the weight of 10 feet of heavy, wind-packed snow. It was a total loss, to the tune of about $75,000.

Naturally, we called our Sate Farm agent. Her assistant put us in touch in contact with a claims adjuster, and for the first time, we realized that State Farm is like two separate companies. The independent agents who set up the policies and collect the money have nothing to do with the claims adjusters who pay money out and deal with the stressed out customers who have experienced a disaster. Of any kind.

For 80 years, State Farm has branded itself as a neighborly, down-home sort of company that would be there for us, if we really needed ‘em. That’s the perception they’ve spent millions to maintain. That was the perception I grew up with.

The reality, however, is quite different indeed.

The lady who’s supposed to be handling our claim definitely didn’t get the memo about being a good neighbor. In fact, any goodwill that State Farm has built up with us over the years went right out the window with just one claim. It was a nightmare.

It took seven months before they finished cleaning up the disaster area. Our neighbors were not happy!  State Farm covered the loss, eventually, but the process was painful at best. When we called our devoted agent to complain, we got nothing but excuses and second guessing.

I can’t even imagine what the Hurricane Katrina victims must have gone through. The State of Mississippi finally had to sue State Farm to get them to pay the claims due.

Talk about a PR debacle. Instead of looking like a good neighbor, State Farm came out of that storm looking like an evil, corporate giant that could care less about the little people. I’d love to know how much market share they’ve lost since then.

There are two important morals to this saga:

1. When it comes to branding, actions speak louder than words. You have to be very, very careful about promising something in a slogan or ad campaign that you can’t deliver day in and day out. The promises that are routinely made in insurance industry marketing are hard to live up to.

Fifty years ago, State Farm probably could deliver on their promise. Not anymore. Today, State Farm is the country’s largest home and auto insurer, with 21% market share in the homeowners category, and $18% in auto insurance. It’s too big to be a good neighbor. That’s why so many upstarts, like Progressive, have stolen market share in the last ten years.

waste in advertising - BNBranding's Brand Insight Blog2. Branding is not just a function of the marketing department. It’s also an operational issue.

State Farm’s claims operation is out of alignment with their brand. The sales side and the claims side are not operating from the same playbook, and State Farm can’t fix their problem by changing their tried and true slogan.

They have to change the way their claims division works in order to live up to the brand. They need to align the experience with the brand promise.

A tall order, no doubt.

Brands have always been about trust, and promises kept. For me, State Farm betrayed that trust. The behavior of one claims adjuster was so “off brand,” it actually prompted me to  start the long and painful process of changing insurance companies.

I went with Progressive for one reason only… I can do business entirely on line, and the user experience is quite pleasant. I don’t have to deal with an agent at all.

At least until I have to make a claim. Then we’ll see how Flow compares to the “neighbors” at State Farm.

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