IHOb - Marketing Stunt or Marketing Genius_

IHOb – Marketing Stunt or Marketing Genius?

In the past month, the media has been in a frenzy over something so simple… IHOP (International House of Pancakes) is changing their name to IHOb (International House of Burgers… Burgers?)

 

Before they revealed the inspiration behind their new name the company offered up a guessing game to see if people would guess what the new letter stood for. One of the most common answers was International House of Breakfast, which makes much more sense than burgers, and people were shocked to hear what the new letter stands for.

 

As a ridiculously brilliant marketing strategy, IHOP (or IHob…) took the media world by storm. Even other food chains are commenting on the name change, therefore bringing even more attention and press to IHOb.

 

 

All of these tweets and changes also made a huge break in the media therefore giving IHOb even more publicity.

 

Before anyone actually thinks this name change is happening, Forbes revealed that “shockingly, once we got the official word, it turned out to be merely a publicity stunt designed to highlight the chain’s new focus on meals other than breakfast.” As absurd as the internet is taking this name change, it is doing EXACTLY what it is supposed to be doing… generating buzz. Some people find the name chance comedic genius while one site even deemed this marketing strategy “a new wrinkle in the dystopian hellscape of viral marketing”. Ouch. But, just like all media, in about a weeks time nobody will even be talking about it anymore.

 

Forbes brings to attention to the essential concept of branding – a name is not the same thing as a brand. A name is what we call something. A brand is something different entirely—and far more meaningful.

 

“In an era when brands are spending millions or tens of millions of dollars to stand out from the crowd, what you’ve seen IHOP do is take a moment in time — a small event, the addition of a menu item — and made it a pop-culture event, that’s PR at its finest.”

– Carreen Winters, chairman of reputation and chief strategy officer at the public-relations agency MWWPR

 

Louise Pritchard of Pritchard Volk Consulting offers a more in-depth differentiation as she and her business partner discusses your brand story – your brand or brand story is not a marketing stunt or marketing materials, it is the essence of who your business is.

 

As far as marketing is concerned, IHOP’s recent name change is generating vast amounts of buzz. While the “burger” reveal left a lot of people confused, IHOP accomplished exactly what they were after: drawing attention to an increasingly popular non-breakfast item that’s always been on their menu.  says that “time will tell is the stunt will actually translate to sales, but there is absolutely no denying that, in theory, the campaign was incredibly successful. Consumer conversations show that IHOP popularity has skyrocketed since the announcement, turning the brand into a trending topic.” IHOP posted the announcement of the name change on Twitter, and even went further to include a quiz prompting users to guess “what could it b?” Various interpretations were presented, and IHOP even bantered with celebritiespro sports teams and news outlets, saying things like, “the blot thickens.”

 

While yes, IHOP will not actually be changing their name to IHOb and it was all simply a marketing troll – it was clever, it generated a lot of buzz for the company, and judging by the influx of IHOP being mentioned in media, it worked.

 

Why You Need a Website That Delights Your Audience

Why You Need a Website That Delights Your Audience

Without a doubt, your most powerful marketing tool, hands down, is your business website.

 

And, as you are probably well aware, some websites are designed better than others.

 

Have you ever visited a website and been disappointed? Or worse, tried to visit a website that failed to load within a few seconds?

 

Of course you have. We all have. And, more likely than not, you have probably moved on.

 

Their loss…or maybe it’s your loss.

 

The simple truth is that every business needs a website that wows its visitors.

 

In a nutshell, your business website can either:

  1. Help you stand out from your competitors or
  2. Drive people directly to your competitors.

 

These days, savvy business owners must consider the fact that their audience seeks more than just a place to go online to purchase products and/or services. Instead, they crave a unique and highly visual online experience that entices and delights them.

 

And this is where good website design comes in.

Here are 3 good reasons why you need a business website that “wows” your visitors

1. You only have one chance to make a first impression – so make it count!

Website visitors often decide whether they want to do business with you within a fraction of a second, based on how they perceive your site. They may not even be aware they are judging you.

 

In her article for Design Shack, Carrie Cousins says the following about the importance of visually pleasing website design schemes:

The visuals that will grab the most attention the quickest include a strong image or illustration, sharp contrast or something unusual on the screen, and a phrase or wording that is memorable.

 

The better “first impression” you give, the more likely your visitors are to stay and/or return to your website. Good website design definitely makes a difference when it comes to attracting and retaining potential clients.

2. Your business website is a direct reflection of YOU

Along with that all-important first impression a website gives to its visitors, your website design also gives them an idea (perceived or realistic) of how you conduct business. For example, shoddy web design may inadvertently give your visitors the impression that your products and/or services are also inferior or low quality.

 

On the other hand, a well-designed business website can go a long way towards building trust. And trust is a big factor in sales. An organized website with a strong visual component creates a sense of legitimacy for you and your business.

 

As I mentioned above, your business’ website is also your most powerful marketing tool. Consider a good design as yet another way you can successfully stand out from your competition.

3. Your website is an essential component of your business branding

As well as being a valuable marketing tool, your business website also serves to promote your brand. Brand exposure is valuable for all businesses, of course. However, it’s especially important for new business owners and/or startups that need to establish a positive reputation from the get-go.

What are my options for building the best business website?

Now that you understand why you need a well-designed business website, you are ready for the next step: building one.

 

You’re going to find that there are dozens of website builder platforms and sites currently available.

 

Perhaps you’re strapped for time, or design isn’t your strong suit? Many startups and new entrepreneurs find that it’s easier to hire someone else who has the time and the talent.

 

Unless you personally know or have received a trusted referral for a web designer, consider us to help you with all of your web design needs without breaking the bank.

 

On the other hand, if you are more of a “do-it-yourself” type, you’ll find many affordable options as well.

 

There are some do-it-yourself options for building websites are:

  1. Wix
  2. SquareSpace
  3. GoDaddy

 

Regardless of who designs your business website, these are some of the primary design aspects you should consider when designing your business website:

  • Logo and branding
  • Simple typography that is easy to read
  • Defined color palette
  • Easy user interface tools and elements that work in intuitive ways
  • Navigation that moves users through the site
  • Strong images that showcase your brand
  • Concise and targeted copy
  • Easy to understand calls-to-action
  • Your brand story told in a way that connects with users
  • Modern design techniques and interface

Source: Design Shack

 

Along with a strong design, websites today must be mobile-friendly, aka responsive. Google is now penalizing sites that are not mobile-friendly, which means if you are not and your competitor is, they will rank ahead of you. Site speed is important too. Please be sure to ask anyone working on your website about responsiveness and site speed – any designer worth their money will answer those with no issue.

 

Are you in the process of designing or redesigning your business website? Do you agree that a well-designed website is critical for successful online marketing? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

 

If you are looking to have a new website rebuilt or are just starting and need one, visit our website design page and contact us to get started!

9 Ideas You Haven't Thought of for Your 2018 Marketing Strategy

9 Ideas You Haven’t Thought of for Your 2018 Marketing Strategy

It’s a new year and by now you should have completed your 2018 marketing strategy. If you’re ducking down in your chair because you haven’t, it’s okay, it’s not too late. If you have, great!

 

The marketing world is ever-evolving. Ten years ago, social was not a major component of the marketing plan and Facebook ads were not even an option. As the world changes, so does how we reach our customers. We are more mobile, more wired, in the technology-sense. When was the last time you went 24 hours without your smartphone? I honestly cannot remember myself.

 

Last year, social advertising took over, as did video. This year, those two will continue to dominate, but there are other creative ways to reach your customers – and stay in touch in with them as well. I’ve read article after article about the predictions and trends for 2018 and guys, what it comes down to is that businesses are going to have to get more creative – and more out of the box – as our digital world evolves. Before you throw your papers in the air and scream “it’s too much!”, it’s not. It’s not that hard. Really. I’ve put together nine ideas you probably have not thought of to incorporate into your strategy this year.

 

Install a chatbot to help with your Facebook page.

Facebook Messenger Chatbots are relatively easy to program and can help you respond to your messages while you are away or helping a customer. Facebook reported late last year they now see 100,000 monthly active bots on Messenger! These can help provide instant connections with customers, solving problems and helping with orders. It also alleviates the problem of the customer having to wait for a response when most expect a response within an hour.

 

Give LinkedIn another chance.

This is one I saw everywhere. The networking platform has undergone many changes since being bought by Microsoft. Included is an updated newsfeed and user interface. There’s not a lot of competition on the platform right now, and a weak algorithm, so it’s a perfect storm of opportunity. Plus there is a mindset change across professionals. They are tired of the nonsense in their other social feeds, so many are going back to LinkedIn.

 

Personalize the experience.

Personalization is something you will not stop hearing about. From emails to VIP exclusives, give your customers and clients a unique experience when shopping or working with you. 56% would rather buy from someone that recognizes them by name, and 58% from someone who offers recommendations based on past purchases. In the retail world, this is the big push as a lot of brick-and-mortar business is being lost to online stores. However, if you do this, make sure your personalization is genuine. Read more on that here.

 

Tell your story.

Customers and clients come to you for a reason – it could be for your work, a price-point, or something they saw. Let them get to know you by telling your story through your branding and marketing strategies. It’s what makes up the core of who your business is. Use your story throughout your marketing – social posts, blog posts, ads.

 

Have a plan for dark social.

If you haven’t heard of dark social, here’s what you need to know – it’s the conversations happening in private (think Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, Instagram DMs, WhatsApp, etc.). There is another world out there that you can’t reach entirely. Facebook is slowly rolling out Messenger Ads which will help, but make sure you know how to be a part of those conversations. My friend and mentor Mark Schaefer touched on this in his digital trends for 2018 post. The graph below that he shared showed how more people are going ‘dark’ –

Go with the group – Facebook Groups.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it. Facebook organic reach is down and it’s not going to come back up. You are going to have to run ads. You are going to have to get creative. You do still need your page though! Fortunately, Facebook now allows you to create groups through your Page – and here is where the potential starts. You can create a group for insider perks or for just general discussion. The engagement in these are much higher – but they do require more moderation and attention so make sure you have someone reliable manning them!

 

facebook group marketing strategy

 

Use text messages in your marketing.

One of the key reasons why SMS (text) marketing is so popular is the fact it is such an accessible and widespread way of contacting people. 98% of text messages are read within two minutes and more than 1 in 10 text exchanges in the U.S. are with businesses. This is an avenue that not a lot of businesses are using – and something you may want to consider! Here are two examples from businesses that I receive texts from below:

 

text marketing strategy

 

Survey your customers.

Always check in with your customers to see if there are areas you can improve, enhance, or even add! Your customers will (hopefully) give you honest feedback. Entice them for this information with a reward for a higher chance of engagement. Just be careful of Facebook’s updated Engagement Rules if you use a post on Facebook to do this.

 

Go LIVE!

Take advantage of the growth of video and go LIVE! Host a Q&A, broadcast from events, give a sneak peek of an upcoming product, or just take people behind the scenes of the business. Businesses are jumping on this – and 2017 saw a huge growth in this area so there are a lot of ideas out there! This is something that can be done on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

 

 

See? Any of these nine can be done no matter your level of marketing expertise 😉

 

No matter what you decide to do this year, challenge yourself to be creative and go outside the box. Forget about the competition and just do you. Focus on your customers and provide the absolute best you can! And if you need help, we’re here anytime!

 

Which of these nine are you going to try?

Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital Marketing Strategy 101 for Boring Brands

Over the past decade, and especially within the last five years or so, digital marketing has more or less infiltrated every area of our lives. Online advertising has evolved in leaps and bounds thanks to the internet and social media platforms.

You’re unlikely to escape the sponsored ads on Facebook, promoted tweets on Twitter, or those pesky popups on websites you like to visit – and everywhere else in between. We can thank the latest and greatest digital marketing plugins and algorithms (and other technical things, such as tracking pixels, which I won’t even pretend to understand).

Regardless of whether you consider current digital marketing techniques to be effective or “creepy/stalkerish,” many brands are finding success with using them.

In a recent article for TopRank Marketing’s blog, Ashley Zeckman pinpoints three attributes of a successful digital marketing strategy:

  1. Authoritative (having or showing impressive knowledge about a subject – Merriam-Webster)
  2. Credible (able to be believed – Merriam-Webster)
  3. Trustworthy (able to be relied on to do or provide what is needed or right – Merriam-Webster)

Sounds simple enough, right?

Sure, but how can I apply these digital marketing strategy attributes to my essential, but boring brand?

First of all, let’s determine what type of brand might fall into the “boring brand” category. These are brands that also want to creatively market their products, such as those for feminine hygiene, or medication for hemorrhoids, toilet paper, or auto insurance, for a few examples. You know, mundane things people don’t typically talk about in their everyday conversations.

And so, in a nutshell, the marketers for boring brands are tasked with creating and promoting brand awareness, starting conversations about and ultimately driving sales for these necessary, yet “blah” things – but for their brands.

For some time now marketers for this unique niche of brands are often left scratching their heads in the past when it comes to developing effective digital marketing strategies. They may be wondering, is it really necessary to “reinvent the wheel” just to gain more attention on the internet?

The short answer is, “yes.” Although many of us have become accustomed to seeing ads for these boring brands on television or hearing them on the radio, there is an entirely new and growing audience online. In my opinion, it’s just a matter of time before we fully embrace ads and other content for the so-called “boring brands” on the internet as well.

One issue the marketers or boring brands face is determining why their products and/or services don’t seem as easy to promote with the digital marketing tactics currently working for those not so “ho-hum” brands and how to work around it. The good news is that even though it may seem difficult to attract and retain an audience, it certainly isn’t impossible.

Scott Ayres has written an inspirational post for boring brands of all sizes for Post Planner, a social media engagement app. The post, which is titled, “36 No-brainer Social Media Tips for Boring Brands & Products,” provides an excellent list and resource guide that is perfect for creating content to use on social platforms or anywhere online.

Here are a few of Ayres’ tips you may wish to consider as you begin creating a digital marketing strategy for your own “boring brand”

  • Don’t be “salesy” — The 70/20/10 formula for content is ideal! This includes 70% informative, 20% other people’s posts, and 10% sales
  • Be personable — people want to see the personal side of your brand, and also use humor if appropriate
  • Share customer reviews/testimonials – potential clients often trust what others say about you and your brand
  • Create and share “How to” content related to your product or service through blogs, video or social media
  • Share posts from “experts” in your brand’s niche or industry

How real “boring brands” are finding real ways to reach their online audiences through digital marketing

As I have seen in my own experience there is truly no one-size-fits-all digital marketing strategy for any type of brand. There is a lot of essential research, testing, and trial and error involved in achieving success online.

However, there are several brands of various sizes and within different industries that are seeing positive results.

Here are a few examples:

1.  Charmin

Regardless of who you are, you probably (hopefully!) use toilet paper. It’s one of those essential, yet mundane products I referred to above with few marketable qualities.

In 2014, Charmin drummed up brand awareness when they launched a hugely successful social media campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #tweetfromtheseat. The tweets prompted interaction with the followers and provided some humor for the brand’s followers.

 

 

2.  General Electric

Although most B2B companies have had mixed results with their digital marketing efforts, General Electric (GE) has successfully boosted their brand using social media and other online marketing platforms.

One surprising platform where they have excelled in introducing their industrial products to a mainstream social media audience is Pinterest. Pinterest is still a widely popular visual platform. As of 6/8/16, Pinterest has 100 million active users according to Expanded Ramblings.

As for GE, Gina Hutchings says the following in her post for digital marketing site Receptional:

As a visual medium GE set up a ‘Badass Machines’ account to share images of not just their own work but also amazing innovations worldwide. The whole portal of the page is that ‘engineering is cool’ it’s new and exciting and something you would want to be part of.

 

3.  The Zebra

Car insurance is yet another one of those essential items people need. When it comes to gaining brand awareness it’s typically not an industry that attracts loyal online audiences by using the digital marketing strategy and techniques that work for more common consumer products.

The Zebra has taken steps to set themselves apart from some of the other car insurance providers online. As a startup in 2013, The Zebra’s goal was to be the “Kayak for auto insurance,” by aggregating quotes to provide car insurance shoppers with the best options. Consumers are also able to do this comparison shopping anonymously and without any obligation.

One unique way The Zebra is boosting its digital marketing strategy to attract the everyday, mainstream consumer is through providing free car insurance advice on demand through their website. Their page, “Ask an Agent,” promises fast, accurate, trustworthy – and 100% free – expert answers and tips from licensed and experienced insurance agents.

 

Zebra Ask an Agent

 

Which digital marketing techniques do you see working well for “boring brands”? What are other examples boring brands you think have been successful online? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

 

13 Social Media Tools to Make Your Life Easier

Tools to Make Managing Your Social Media Easier

TRUE STORY: A few months ago I attended a conference (no surprise there). Throughout many of the sessions, many, and I mean MANY social media tools and programs were mentioned. I saw people feverishly jotting down the names, looking up the apps on their iPhones and such. People were all over these programs like they had never heard of them before. Owning the business that I do, I have tried just about every single one that was mentioned.

There are SO many programs out there that anyone could spend a month trying them all out and still not know which one to use or what direction to go. Trust me, I’ve been there. After five years in the social media business, I’ve seen so many programs come and go, you have to look for ones that have staying power.

So to make it easy for you, or aynone who stumbles upon this post, here’s my list of social media tools you can use to make YOUR life and your business run MUCH easier…

Social Media Management/Post Scheduling 

Being able to schedule out posts will make your life A LOT easier. However, you still have to be available to engage in real time with people – respond to questions, take care of issues that pop up – you can’t brush it under a rug. Here are four programs you can’t go wrong with. I do suggest you take the time to explore each of them on your own, rather than me list out the pros and cons of each 🙂

  • Hootsuite – With both free and paid options, this program has both mobile and desktop versions.
  • Sprout Social – This program starts out at $59/month but does allow you to try 30 days free. This is the program I have been using since I started so I would say I am biased towards it 😉
  • Buffer – A lot like Hootsuite, with the capabilities, Buffer offers a free option all the way to Enterprise levels based on your needs.
  • Facebook – Every Facebook page has the ability to schedule posts itself. This I love. For all of the Facebook pages I manage, we do this no matter if we manage their other social accounts as well.

Instagram

  • Schedugram – Even though Buffer and Hootsuite can schedule and post to Instagram, if you just need to only schedule to Instagram, this would be the program for you. It’s not free though – the cost is $20/profile.
  • Iconosquare – This one provide analytics and more marketing choices for your Instagram account and starts off at $49/per Instagram account.

Pinterest

  • TailWind – If you are seeking a program just for Pinterest scheduling, this would the one for you. They’ve just added some Instagram abilities, but I haven’t played around with that year. For annual cost of $120/account, this is the way to go for Pinterest, in my opinion. They have larger plans, but unless you want mack daddy analytics, which is what you would be paying for (and you can get the majority from Pinterest for free), go with the cheaper version.

Twitter

  • Tweetchat – Tweetchats are a great way to expand your brand online and increase your community. If you are going to hold or participate in a Tweetchat, then this program is the way to do it. You won’t keep up otherwise. Oh, and this is free.
  • TribeBoost – This program is based out of Brunswick, Georgia and does a marvelous job of helping you grow your Twitter following.

Analytics

When it comes to analytics, each platform has their own and they typically provide the best. Google Analytics provide THE best website analytics I have come across. Of course, when it comes to comparing your social accounts to your competitors, well, that could be another blog post all in itself since there are another set of sites and programs you could use. We’ll stick to this list for now:

 

I’m not going to get into photo editing and such – that’s another post for another day. These tools are here to make your business’ social media run easier so you can get back to running your business.

If you have questions about these programs, just tweet me at @memktgservices or drop me an email at mandy@memarketingservices.com!

 

 

(Disclosure: Sprout Social link is my referral link as a part of their Sprout All-Star Elite program)

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