What Your Employees Don’t Know Could Hurt You: How Effective Communication Builds Strong Brand Ambassadors

September 16th, 2021

I’m often surprised that the most overlooked audience, when it comes to communicating with key constituents, is the internal or employee audience. Companies are generally pretty good about recognizing that they need to communicate with customers and prospects, but employees tend to be an afterthought. This may be because of the assumption that since employees are part of the organization they somehow “know” what’s going on. After all, it was in the newsletter or on Slack, wasn’t it? The fact of the matter, though, is that companies can’t leave it to chance that employees are paying attention to the messages they’re sending, or that they understand which are the key messages that they should be paying attention to. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Your Company, Product, or Service Name Doesn’t Really Matter

September 14th, 2021

Throughout my career, I’ve been involved in numerous naming and branding initiatives and am always struck by not only the intrinsic challenges of getting a group of people to agree on a particular name/brand for a company, product, or service—but also by the enormous amount of angst and emotion that becomes part of the process.

In truth, the process of coming up with a name—whether for a company, a product, a campaign, a department, or whatever is a process that is virtually destined to be an emotional and difficult one from the get-go. Why? Because everybody has an opinion, everybody has an emotional stake in the outcome and everybody wants their brand to be the next Nike.

Read the rest of this entry »

5 Quick Tips for Writing Headlines for Digital Marketing Efforts

September 3rd, 2021

In the newspaper business, the above-the-fold headline is a crucial aspect of grabbing a potential reader’s attention and enticing them to pick up the paper and read on. The same is true of online headlines – the hyperlinks that come up in a list when you search for something in a search engine. In addition to page ranking, an enticing headline is an important way to drive traffic to your site. With that in mind, here are some tips for generating great headlines. Read the rest of this entry »

Creating Content: A Role for Your Contacts and Connections

September 1st, 2021

Group Of Multi-Ethnic People Social Networking

As content marketing has emerged as a top go-to tactic for marketers of all kinds in all industries, the challenge that many have been faced with is how to generate the massive amounts of content often required to feed the funnel. Even large organizations with internal staff dedicated to marketing and communications often find themselves turning to others for content creation.

That’s certainly a great thing for firms like ours, and we help a number of individuals and organizations create a variety of content. But there’s another great source of content that can be leveraged in big and small ways to help feed the demand for content: Read the rest of this entry »

Tips for Finding Experts in Content and Content Marketing

August 17th, 2021

I do a lot of presentations (and since the pandemic emerged, webinars) on marketing-related topics. When I do, I try to provide as much practical and useful advice as I can. I don’t worry about “giving away my secrets” for a couple of reasons:

  • They’re not that secret—they’re just good, proven, elements of effective marketing and communication.
  • Telling someone how to do something rarely translates into the ability to actually do that something.
  • The small business owners and entrepreneurs—and, often, even senior and very seasoned marketing executives in large organizations—simply don’t have the time to do it themselves.

They often need to call upon others—agencies or freelancers—to help them out. Read the rest of this entry »

Tackling the Special Challenges of Building and Sustaining Strong Service Brands

August 12th, 2021

Much of my work over the years has been with “service brands”—brands that are not tied to a particular product, but to the delivery of some type of service—educational services, healthcare services, energy services, engineering services, consulting services, etc.

Developing and maintaining a strong brand for a service is, in my opinion, significantly more challenging than developing and maintaining a strong brand for a product. Why? Because a service is less tangible, more ephemeral—and often involves multiple “touchpoints” that really determine the “brand experience.”

Critical Elements of a Strong Brand

What makes a strong brand? Recognizability. Performance. Consistency.

When we’re talking about a product—a carbonated beverage, for example—recognizability can come through a logo and design, performance comes through the taste of the beverage, consistency is an element of the manufacturing process.

But, when we’re talking about a service, the process of brand management becomes much more complex.

Recognizability

While recognizability is impacted by logos and design elements, there are other factors to consider. If you practice out of an office or a clinic, your physical location and how it looks, how it’s furnished, etc., will impact your recognizability and your brand. Consultants who travel to client locations, for example, are themselves a key component of the brand – including how they dress and the type of vehicle they drive (and how well maintained it is).

Performance

How is a healthcare organization’s performance defined? By the physician? The registration clerk? The distance from the parking lot to the front door? The cleanliness of the facility? The magazines in the waiting room? The delivery of care (and how do we, as non-clinical consumers, measure that?)? Yes—all of these things, and more! For healthcare and other service organizations (which would include restaurants, retail stores, etc.), performance is a multi-faceted process with multiple touchpoints and multiple opportunities to either strengthen or weaken the brand.

Consistency

And, finally, consistency. The greatest challenge of all. While product consistency can certainly be challenging, there are more tangibles to deal with in the product arena. The challenge for service marketers in managing a brand involves managing human inputs and human actions. Significantly more challenging than ensuring that the right physical ingredients are combined in the right proportions in the right environmental conditions to produce a consistent result.

…and the People!

It often comes as a surprise to those in service businesses that managing the marketing process, specifically the branding process, involves a significant amount of focus on managing people. This involves developing and communicating standards and processes. It involves ensuring consistency in such things as how the phone is answered, how employees dress, service standards, hand-offs between departments, how employees talk to and about each other, etc.

Too often as we focus on other important elements of the brand—like the logo, the name, the company colors, the design templates, etc.—we can have a tendency to forget about what is most important about the brand (recognizability, performance, and consistency). In service organizations, we may also tend to forget about the people and the significant impact they have on the customer experience.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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Recommended Reading:

21st Century Secrets to Effective PR

Managing Remote Staff

Direct Mail in the Digital Age

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Strategic Planning

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

Best Practices in Influencer Marketing

Marketers Must Have Good Products But Sometimes Good Isn’t Good Enough

August 10th, 2021

Not many people remember a product called Zima, and that’s the point of this post. As a marketing professional, I’ve always been interested in new product introductions and advertising campaigns in general— how well do they work? how long do they “run” (suggesting that the positive effects are continuing to produce results or, if nothing else, that the agency and client haven’t “pulled the plug” prematurely).

In addition, as someone who is not a “beer drinker,” I was interested several years ago when a new product was introduced—Zima—a beer-based beverage that was supposed to be light and refreshing. Hmm. Sounded interesting. The campaign was extensive, attention-getting, and effective—to a degree. It raised awareness. It generated preference (at least initially). All was good. Right? Wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Best Practices for Finding Freelancers: Top Go-To Sources of Talent

August 2nd, 2021

video marketingContent is king, as the saying goes, and that’s certainly true in a digital world. Consumer appetite for content is at an all-time high and continuing to grow. That’s great for organizations that have well-oiled content creation teams in place to meet the demand. For others, though, developing content on a regular basis that is high-quality and focused on issues and topics that resonate with their audiences can be a challenge. The gig economy can help. A wide range of freelancers and contract content creators are available to organizations to help produce content for any format. Read the rest of this entry »

The New Echo Illustrates a More Reliable Way to Do Market Research

July 30th, 2021

I recently saw an interesting promotion on Amazon for the 4th generation Echo Dot. It’s a round version being offered in three Diane von Furstenberg designs. The “special price” being offered is $59.99 which will go up to $69.99 after August 13. Not so unusual, but there’s an interesting twist to this offer. Read the rest of this entry »

Best Practice Advice for Handling Crisis Communications

July 28th, 2021
We seem to live in an increasingly contentious world these days. Unfortunately, it’s also a world where news travels fast; bad news travels especially fast. The speed of communication in the 21st century is fueled by “citizen journalists” and crowdsourcing. Everyone and anybody can have a platform these days. And just about everyone these days is armed with smartphones that offer the ability to capture, record, and share whatever may be going on around them. Sometimes that can create positive exposure for companies and their senior leaders and spokespeople.
Sometimes that exposure, unfortunately, is negative and viral.

Read the rest of this entry »