Drew McLellan’s a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating “a ha” moments for his clients, clients’ customers, peers and audiences across the land. Sadly, for his daughter, he attempts to do the same thing at home.
Over the years, Drew has lent his expertise to clients like Nabisco, IAMS pet foods, Kraft Foods, Meredith Publishing, Make-A-Wish, and others.
Drew is also one of the world’s top marketing and branding bloggers.
Recently he has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.
Stress is a natural part of life - but as a culture, we've upped the ante and are entering an era of super stress. The consequences of that super stress are showing up in every aspect of daily life and come with incredible costs as we wrestle with the consequences.
Here's the reality - it's not going to be getting better any time soon. The causes of this heightened level of stress are here to stay and believe it or not, in some cases - it's just going to get worse. The country's economy, a tough job market, and the rising cost of living are the top three stressors cited in a recent survey.
These challenges are not going to be resolved in the foreseeable future, which means their influence will continue.
Another reason we're a little stressed is because we choose constant connectivity. Our always-on world just keeps getting faster. We've explored how the workday is no longer 9-5 but really it's become 24/7. And it's not just work.
Our constant hunger for being in the know means there's always one more video to watch, one more post to read, one more Facebook update to post and one more news story to pass on. We never unplug which also means we have no down time to unwind.
Even the things we love - like having lots of choices, living in urbanized areas, and our Western lifestyle all contribute to why we feel stressed out all the time.
The marketing insight that comes from all of that is - if we are feeling the stress, so do our customers. What should we do with that?
Point out the stress-reducing aspects: If what you sell can make life easier for your customers, be sure they see that attribute. Help them see how your product or service helps them unplug, unwind or unload some of that stress.
Make working with you easier/less stressful: This goes way beyond just having convenient hours or an easy return policy. This is about really walking through your buying process and eliminating as many of the challenges and difficulties as you can. Be sure you let your prospects know that you have made it simple to do business with you.
Simplify the choices: All too often, marketers believe they should offer as many choices as possible. The reality - too many choices equates to stress. Maybe it's time to look at your offerings. Do you have too many choices? Are the distinctions between the choices clear? Is there something you could do to reduce the number of choices without compromising your prospect's ability to choose?
Mix in some fun and surprises: People need to find ways to have some fun in this stressful world. But everyone has less leisure time (remember - 24/7 connectivity), which means the fun needs to come to them, right in the middle of the stress. What could you do that would be completely unexpected and add an element of joy or delight to your prospect's or customer's day?
The benefits of helping your customers' de-stress goes far beyond their mental health. It will make interacting with them easier - which your employees will love and if you truly can reduce stress levels - the loyalty that will breed will drop right to your company's bottom line.
And there's no better stress reducer than that!
If there is one phrase we couldn't seem to get enough of this year - that phrase is big data.
Every day our digital activity (on the web, on our smart phones, social networks etc) creates over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. In fact, 90% of all the data in the world today has been created in the last two years.
As our phones evolve into our mobile wallets and our hub for digital tickets and coupons - they will add dramatically to the collection of data on consumer spending and behaviors.
Suffice it to say - we are leaving quite a trail. A trail that will help businesses get to know us better, anticipate our needs and provide real time service. As business owners we need to recognize this trend for what it is - both an opportunity and a threat. It's also what could put you out of business if you ignore it.
While you may be personally creeped out by the robustness of your data trail, the truth is - most consumers expect you to use their data to service their needs. And now.
With information literally at their fingertips 24/7 and instant access to a host of social media platforms where they can (and do) tell the world if you've pleased or disappointed them, today's consumers are at the epicenter of their world- and their expectations are unbelievably high.
These consumers, especially Millennials, take for granted the idea that companies are using the data they create to tailor offerings. Here are some of the ways we need to be thinking about meeting that consumer expectation. And don't think that if you're a B2B company, you are exempt. Your buyers have the same expectations.
Big data needs to mean personalizing offers: Some big box retailers are using data from loyalty card holders to offer different coupons to different shoppers based on insights gleaned via analytics-in essence, personalizing pricing.
On the B2B side, your customers expect that you are intimately familiar with their buying patterns and expect you to serve up offerings that match their buying patterns.
Big data needs to mean catering to consumers in real time: Looking back over last year's data is so 2001. Your customers expect you to be reacting to what happened yesterday and this morning. They want you to anticipate their needs based on what is happening right now. Does weather, a specific current event or financial conditions in the country influence how your products and services are used? You'd better be tweaking offers, product improvements and availability based on those real time factors.
Big data needs to mean that my customer service should be all about me: Businesses in many industries can fine-tune their customer service to individual consumers based on consolidated data from various sources. This should be heeded, especially in the B2B space - where the assumption is that you have fewer customers and those you have, you know better. In their mind - it is a given that you are tracking and responding according to their past behaviors.
It's a fine line, of course. We're talking a trend, which means it isn't mainstream yet. Some people will be uncomfortable that you know so much. But that will dissipate. And among the Millennials, the attitude is almost non-existent. They expect it. So expect this concern to be somewhat generational and over the long haul, fleeting.
Transparency will be critical. You will need to explain what digital data you are collecting and why, and then assure consumers you can be trusted with the information.
Today this is still cutting edge stuff, especially for most offline businesses. But tomorrow - it will be the norm. Don't get caught behind.
The post Big data delivers customized experiences or it's just noise appeared first on Drew's Marketing Minute.
We recently bought an ad for a client and the ad rep suggested we make a big deal out of the fact that our client has been in business for 130 years. I politely told her that we definitely were not going to do that.
Instead, we were going to talk about something their readers and our prospects might actually care about.
My conversation with her is what prompted this blog post. We've all seen the ads or sales that are somehow tied to a businesses 25th anniversary or the "we've been in business for a century" sale announcements.
The reality is - no one cares. While that may be a laudable accomplishment - to have hung in there that long, from your consumer's point of view - it's fluff or a gimmick (we've been around for 50 years so everything is 50% off!).
Is a business going to offer me a better product after they've been around for 100 years? Was the stuff they sold in their ninety-fifth year just junk? Of course not. Is someone who just turned 60 a better advisor than when she was 59? Nope.
You make that the focus of your ad or your sale when you don't have anything better to say. And if you can't come up with something more customer-centric than that to say - you're lucky to still be in business.
It's actually a symptom of an age-old marketing problem. Businesses talk about themselves rather than talking about what the customer cares about.
Here's how to fix two of the most common "it's all about me" types of marketing statements and make them customer centric and customer valued communications instead.
#1 - We're old and you should care
All about us: We're 100 years old. Come enjoy some birthday cake and celebrate with us as we cross the century mark.
All about them: Over the many years we've been in business, we've learned that our customers value three things. They value incredible customer service (click here to speak live with one of our teammates), fair pricing (click here to read about our fair price every time program) and they want quality they can count on (watch a short video about our factory's 100% right or 100% wrong policy).
You're saying the same thing - we've been in business long enough to be stable, to have earned our customer's trust and no one has to worry about you being a fly by night operation. But when you push beyond focusing on yourself, you can outline exactly why your longevity is of value to the prospect that is considering doing business with you.
#2 - The difference is our people (perhaps the most trite sentence uttered in marketing today)
All about us: Our people really care. You're not just a number to us.
All about them: Hi Mr. McLellan - we see that you're going to be staying at our hotel XYZ in Big City. We're glad to have you staying with us and want to make sure we do everything in our power to make your stay an awesome one. As the manager of the hotel, I want you to have my direct line (123-456-7890) and email (manager@BigHotel.com) so you can get a hold of me if there's anything you need.
Don't tell me that your people care. Show me. It sounds like hype when you brag about it. It feels remarkable when I experience it for myself. The truth is...most businesses say it but few actually deliver on it. Why not just shut up and show it?
If you're going to expend the effort to talk to your customers and prospects, stop talking about yourself and talk about what they care about - what's in it for me.
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Marketers clearly believe that storytelling is a critical component of their marketing efforts. It's one of the most talked about topics in marketing circles today.
So - no argument that marketing's version of storytelling is critical to a business' communications success. The question is - why are so many companies doing it badly and not experiencing the results they want?
The stories don't evoke an emotion: There's not a memorable story around that isn't seeded in emotions. For some businesses, especially those in the B2B sector, it's hard to imagine what emotions their products or services might trigger. That's because the marketers are staying at the features level of sales, not delving into the benefits that lie beneath.
It might be as simple as your prospect is afraid if they make a bad decision, it will cost them their job. Or it could be that what you sell is helping your clients fulfill their reason for existing - which to them is very emotionally motivated. If you dig deep enough, you'll find the emotions behind your stories. Be sure you expose those in your storytelling so that your audience can relate to and empathize with the people in the tale.
The stories don't use data to lend credibility: What makes true stories so dramatic and grabbing are the facts that are dotted throughout the telling.
Data can be used in a variety of ways to tell your story. Think visual data like an infographic or let the data suggest a new angle or insight for both you and your audience.
The story doesn't take us on a journey: In marketing's version of storytelling, we often take shortcuts to get to the big reveal. But in taking the shortcut, we rob the audience of story's arc. Every story is, in essence, a journey that chronicles the problem, the fight to solve the problem and how things are better once the challenge is resolved.
But a great story lets the journey also help the audience see the motivations, frustrations and worries of the characters while they try to face the problem. The outcomes are also wrapped in more than just the tangible results. When the story is rich with details - we also learn more about the intangible results and ultimate value of delivering the right solution.
The story doesn't include a next step/call to action: Here's where most marketers really miss the boat. A well-crafted story draws the audience in, helps them connect with the main character and feel their common pain. As the story evolves, the prospect is pulling for the character - because in reality, the character bears a striking resemblance to them. They experience the ups and downs within the story and as the story delivers the happy ending - the prospective customer is thinking and feeling relief and a desire to share in that sort of outcome.
So marketing's version of storytelling is all too often, a big tease. You led them right to the edge - get them hungry for what you're selling but don't give them a clear and defined next step. Ask yourself - what do I want them to do next and be sure you make it easy and quick to take that next action.
What do you think? Can you tweak the way you're telling your company's story so that it actually drives leads and generates sales?