Any brand can become talkable

Are you talkable?

On this blog, we often explore the importance of brand and the power of word of mouth. It seems that many business owners/leaders believe that you can just plan on something being spread by word of mouth and voila, it happens. (Sort of like planning for a video to go viral).

The reality is — to become a brand that is worthy of being talked about is hard work.

It’s about being very purposeful in every little detail of your business.

That’s why I love this video series by John Moore from Brand Autopsy.  John’s listed a bunch of attributes (29 to date) of a talkable brand — like believable, measurable, and emotional to mention a few.  And he’s done a video for each “able” that makes your brand talkable.

The videos are part education, part entertainment and part inspiration.  I think you’ll enjoy the short (less than 4 minutes each) offerings.

Check out the series (click here) and then come back and tell me which of the “ables” you think your business has already mastered.

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Start with Why

One of the 20 most watched TED talks of 2010 was given by Simon Sinek and speaks directly to anyone who is trying to market or sell something. Sinek’s premise is simple.

Always start with why.

Sinek began his adult life as a student of anthropology. His fascination with people led him to a career in advertising and he found himself combining his chosen work with his earlier studies to try and understand what motivated people.

All of that pondering led to his book Start With Why*, his focus on how leaders motivate companies and customers and his famous TED talk.

His findings are very applicable to us as we market our products and services.

In the vast majority of marketing today, the lion’s share of the language and imagery we use is self-focused. We talk about ourselves, our products, our services and our organizations. When we don’t think that is enough, we dissect even deeper, breaking down the facts into bullet pointed lists of features that detail and justify the claims we make.

It’s not that anything we are saying is inaccurate. In most cases, it’s spot on. But we are blathering on about facts and figures. That’s the what. We know that people buy base don emotions and justify that purchase with the facts…but all too often we just feed them the justification with first holding up the emotion.

We rarely get into the why of something.

The why of something inspires. It makes a consumer want to believe in you. It leads them to want to give your product a try. It makes them feel as though you’re on the same team.

I’ll give you an example. I never really paid much attention to which brand of dishwashing soap was on my sink. My theory was – they’re all pretty much the same so I’ll buy whichever is the cheapest. I’ve probably seen hundreds of commercials for dishwashing soap over the course of my adult life. But they all talked about how well they cleaned dishes. The facts. And it all sounded pretty much the same to me, so not one of them stuck in terms of brand loyalty or preference.

But when Dawn started showing the commercials of the oil spill rescue workers using donated Dawn to clean up the wildlife covered with oil – all of a sudden, we had a common why. We love animals.

Did you see what happened? It went from them and me to we. And now, when I go to buy dishwashing soap, I don’t think about getting clean dishes. I think about ducks covered with oil and how Dawn is going to make a donation if I buy their product.

All the other dish soaps are still talking to me about removing grease or their aromatherapy scents. They’re talking what. And they are talking to me. But Dawn talks about how we are going to protect and care for the world’s wildlife.

You don’t have to align yourself with a cause move from what to why. You just have to re-frame the way you think about and talk about what it is you market.

This gets back to a question we asked a few months ago. What do you really sell? If your answer is your product or service – you’re in trouble. Whether it’s insurance, a boat or a complicated piece of equipment – you’re a commodity. Someone else out there does (or will do) what you do.

Harley Davidson creating a community of bikers that rule the road, have plenty of attitude and join together at rallies, rides and for causes. People don’t buy their motorcycles. They buy being a part of the Harley community.

You need to find your why and own it.

*Affiliate lnk
Photo courtesy of BigStockPhoto
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Advertising can’t just be funny

Don’t get me wrong.  I like funny.  Most of my favorite movies are funny.  The TV shows I watch — usually funny.  And I appreciate a funny ad.

But…it still has to sell something.  That’s the ad’s reason for existence.  No company runs a TV commercial just to entertain the viewers.

So when I see TV spots like this one for the California Milk Producers.  But for the life of me, I can’t understand why they thought it would inspire anyone to drink more milk — let alone California milk. (email subscribers, click here to view)

Am I missing something?  Did watching this spot make you run to the fridge and pour a cold glass of ice cold milk?

My big issue with this series of TV spots is that it doesn’t even try to sell us on the benefits of the product, make the brand of the product cool or…even show the product.

Contrast that with the TV spots for Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  They’re funny but they’re also talking about the product. (email subscribers, click here to view)

AdAge and their partner Bluefin Labs have been studying how we react to TV spots in terms of social mentions.  Their findings — we TV viewers are beginning to view commercials as movie shorts and it’s pretty clear that TV viewers are increasingly willing to talk about ads in the same way that they talk about shows: as bits of entertainment.

All the more reason to make sure your TV spot (or any advertising for that matter) keeps its eye on the prize — selling your product or service.  If the viewing population is more likely than ever to talk about you, I’m thinking you want to give them something besides the funny parts to talk about.

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The “how to” of business blogging

Blogs, once described as the vehicle for narcissistic over sharers and people who found cats amusing, have certainly come into their own.

Today, while there are still plenty of hobby bloggers out there, the tool is being embraced by businesses and thought leaders in record numbers.

The benefits a blog can bring to a business are multifold:

  • Blogs, when built properly, can have a significant impact on search engine results and traffic to your site
  • Blogs can establish expertise and credibility for a business
  • Blogs can drive traffic to your web presence
  • Blogs can shorten the sales cycle by establishing a relationship long before the first inquiry
  • Blogs can encourage thought leadership within your organization
  • Blogs can lead to other media interviews/opportunities
  • And many more!

Sadly, most companies who launch a blog either do it badly or don’t sustain the blog for more than a couple months. If you’re thinking of launching a company blog, here are some basic best practices that will help assure you a solid start.

Build it on a platform optimized for blogging: I can’t imagine why anyone would build a blog today on anything but WordPress. It is relatively inexpensive to use, it is constantly being improved with new updates and plugins, the search engines love it and it has a very simple interface so that anyone who can work with Microsoft Word can add, modify or remove content.

There are other blogging specific platforms out there that are also good alternatives to consider. Whatever you do — don’t let anyone talk you into building your blog on proprietary software that doesn’t allow you to change hosts, servers and control your own site.

Have a strategic plan/editorial calendar: Don’t put your first finger on the keyboard until you have thought about why you’re doing this in the first place. Put some SMART goals in place, know what audiences matter to you and map out the logistics of writing/maintaining a blog. We literally invest most of a day with clients who want to map this out properly. Don’t short-change this critical step.

Write to/for your audience: A blog is not a place for you to put your press releases, talk about what’s on sale or push your products. You need to know who your audience is and you need to know what matters to them.

Unless other marketing tactics, a blog is permission based. People choose to read your content or not. If all you do is talk about yourself, they will not choose to keep reading.

Practice before you publish: For many companies – blogging sounds great in theory but when it comes to actually having both the discipline and the desire to sustain it over time – they fall short. To blog well and right – takes a significant time commitment. Not only do you need to create the content but you also need to respond to readers who ask questions or add to the conversation.

We have all of our clients actually blog for 30-45 days “behind the curtain” so we can help them find their voice, identify potential problems and they can get a taste for what blogging is all about. That way, if they decide it’s not something they can sustain – we haven’t publicly launched something new and then have to explain why it’s already going away. Or worse – is just left there, dormant.

For many businesses, a blog should be a no brainer. But, a blog is an organic, constantly evolving marketing tool that at best, you have some control over. But by it’s very nature – it’s going to grow and change in ways you can’t imagine. So it requires some forethought, careful planning and a watchful eye.

Make it work for you by doing the work to get it right.

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Are you making one of these 7 content marketing mistakes?

It seems like everyone is talking content marketing these days, like it’s it hottest thing since sliced bread.

Of course, for many businesses — this is just a new name for something they’ve been practicing for eons.  They’ve been creating valuable newsletters or writing white papers for years.

Which does not mean that you’re doing it as well as you could or should be.  Are you happy with the amount of people and the kinds of people your content marketing efforts are attracting?

Bigger question — how purposefully are you weaving a content marketing strategy into your overall efforts?

I’m betting your company is not harnessing the real power of content marketing because of one or more of these reasons:

  1. It’s something that happens every once in awhile but not on a regular basis.
  2. You create some content but don’t promote it well across all of your digital and analog channels.
  3. You create content but you talk about yourself, your products etc. more than you should (you are selling, not teaching).
  4. You produce some content but not in a format that is easily shared by your audience.
  5. You do it in a silo, it’s not woven into all your other marketing efforts.
  6. You don’t use an editorial calendar so your production schedule and topics are usually by the seat of your pants.
  7. The visual presentation of your content is boring or worse — off-putting.

Recognize yourself in any of those issues?  This isn’t all new stuff.  MMG has been around for almost 20 years and we’ve always preached the power of content marketing –even before we had a name for it.

But thanks to our universal access to the internet and our ability to easily share files, visuals, etc. — this marketing best practice has taken on a life of it’s own.

If you’re not doing more of this than ever before — I think you need to ask yourself why.  And what it is costing you.

How are you implementing a content marketing strategy for your business?



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What can content marketing do for your business?

Content marketing.  It seems like everyone’s talking about it. But what exactly is it and what can it do for your business?

Odds are, if you’re doing any marketing at all — you’re at least accidentally dabbling in content marketing.

First — it goes by many names.  Some people call it custom publishing or branded content.  Other people slap the label of social or digital marketing on.  And all of those names are accurate.

Content marketing is a broad term for any marketing technique that creates and distributes valuable, helpful and relevant information that demonstrates that you know your stuff.  These tactics draw the attention of people who are already your customers or could be your customers and they consume, share, and value the content.

The ultimate goal of content marketing is to create a sense of trust and comfort that will lead to someone making an initial purchase, making an additional purchase or referring you to someone who’s ready to make a purchase.

There are other benefits as well.  It’s a powerful way to establish yourself as an expert, to shorten the sales cycle, to impact SEO results and depending on your business – to educate, entertain, and inspire your audience.

I found an infographic from that I think does an excellent job of not only demonstrating many of the different possibilities when it comes to content marketing — but also gives you a sense of which tactics deliver what outcomes.

Check it out! (click here to download larger version)

Browse more data visualizations.

With all those possibilities — are you confident that you’re doing all that you can to harness the potential and the power of content marketing?

Are you doing some things that you could be doing better?  More often?  More intentionally?

I want to challenge you a little — are you really leveraging this marketing strategy to the extent that you should?  If not…why not?

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