Integrated Marketing Communication is for Small Offices Too

2-Knives-w-ShadowAs we talk about Integrated Marketing Communications, we’d like everyone to remember one thing… this is not just for big companies – integrated marketing communications should be “integral” to even the smallest companies’, houses of worship, stores’… any small office communicator’s efforts. So whether in print ads, brochures, a referral program, radio, online, or TV commercials, blog posts, Facebook and Twitter posts, or giveaway items (see photo), big marketers and small should always maintain the integrity of their voice, their logo, and brand ID. These are all our “signatures” that we want to remind customers and potential customers that we are always there. This helps cement in their minds that our company, house of worship, or other small business is a trustworthy resource. For us in the small office world, it means paying extra attention to our written and spoken wording to ensure that consistency. It may even mean investing the time and effort needed to develop a true, “Corporate Identity” visually and verbally to carry through all you efforts. This kind of identity becomes the, “Manual of Style” for your organization, and the extra effort pays off with additional connections to our readers and viewers.

You know, it’s interesting. Victorinox, the makers of the ubiquitous Swiss Army Knife, have offered their unique items for imprinting for years. The two knives shown above were giveaway items from Minolta a LONG time ago, and I still keep them… but I don’t carry them as they are probably collector’s items now. But I do carry a small Victorinox knife (I think it’s the smallest one they offer) with me whenever I’m out and about. This means that each time I reach in my pocket for the knife and open a blade, the tweezers, or the scissors, I’m always reminded of the quality of Victorinox knives. Imagine the repeated quality impression your company would get from a pen, pocket knife or flashlight that everyone carries around and uses continually.

Another example… last year for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, our church gave out small key-chain sized flashlights. Mine, with my church’s message is with me whenever I have my keys.

This is why you want to ensure that the message you use is always consistent and integrated into your full marketing message. Every time people are exposed to your message, you want to make sure they are getting the right message.

DanSig-02


Steps to Writing a Credible Story That People Will Share

We learned in the last post that marketing stories aren’t that different from any type of story that you read in childhood or that your parents told you. They all have some components that make them exciting, as well as a purpose, goal and moral. Follow these steps for the best results.

Keep Your Audience in Mind

All marketing starts with knowing your audience, as does all story telling. Every author knows their target audience prior to writing the first line of any story. What does your audience want to do, be, know? What are their fears? Who do they love? Can you pick a single audience member and write up a persona to describe them down to their age, sex, favorite books, top three problems and so forth? If not, time to get to work researching your audience.

Collect & Share Data

One of the best ways to make your story stand out is to collect and share data. Capturing data and sharing it in an interesting way as part of your story can help add to the meaning of your story. Showing real numbers within the stories you craft can resonate with your audience in a way that truly gets results. If you share customer success stories for instance, including real numbers within those stories will really spark discussion and ignite your audience.

Select a Frame

This is where truly knowing and understanding your audience can come into play. Understanding how your audience uses words, and the feelings they evoke can make the difference between crafting a successful story or creating an actual disaster. Knowing the world view of your audience is imperative. Seth Godin in his blog and books has often discussed the idea that people already have their worldviews and you’re not going to change them. Therefore, for your marketing story to be successful it needs to feed into what they already believe and think.

Choose Your Premise

Your premise is the angle of the story and the way you hook your reader in order to get your message across. It’s the entire point of your story. Your premise is to solve your audience’s problems with your product or service. Your subject as well as your solution all have a premise, and the entire story rests on the premise. Try writing down your premise in just one or two sentences before writing the entire story. You should be able to explain it easily. Think of the big Super Bowl Coke Commercial and the controversy it caused in some circles. The one where the characters are singing the national anthem in many languages.

The premise of the story was that we’re all one, and in this together as a melting pot — and of course, Coke brings us together. But, the question remains, if they chose the right audience (Super Bowl Watchers) for that particular commercial. Always check your premise and be sure it matches your intended audience.

Create Visual Representations

Nothing is more important today in marketing than visuals. Your marketing stories are too important to not include a visual element. Marketing stories are a great away to build relationships with your audience, gives not only outsiders but insiders an entirely new way to view you as a company. Creating powerful visuals to go with your story is an essential part of ensuring that your story is told well.

Shape Your Story

The worst thing you can do is be boring. If you understand your audience you’ll have a lot more success shaping stories that resonate with them. All marketing material that you have helps to shape your entire story. From bios of those who work for you, to bios of your customers, to social media bios for your company, to blog posts and more — they all shape your story in some way. It’s up to you to ensure that you keep the same theme throughout all marketing materials including the marketing stories you create. Understanding and knowing your voice will help, as will understanding and knowing your audience. Building a solid story starts from day one, so that you can express your business’s entire story from the ground up to your customers’ success stories today.

Get Feedback First

Before moving forward with marketing with stories it’s important that you seek feedback from others to ensure that you can get outside of your own bubble. Sometimes when we get so focused on something it’s hard to see it from the outside as the customer looking in. Ask some of your customers and colleagues for feedback on your marketing story so that you can make it better. You can also get some feedback before you even start by polling your audience on some of your ideas about stories. A simple poll such as “Would you rather learn about A or B” is a great way to figure out what your audience needs and wants.

If you follow these steps you’ll be successful in creating effective marketing stories that get great results. Next blog post we are going to talk about common mistakes made in writing your story to avoid.


Integrated Marketing Communications – Your Logo Equals Your Signature

Minolta_MediumIntegrated Marketing Communications starts with your company logo. Your logo is your company’s signature. It is the common element in all of your marketing materials that immediately “triggers” the identification with the reader or viewer that this is from YOUR company, and no other.

For many years, I was the, “Chief Logo Cop” at Minolta, later Konica Minolta. Minolta’s logo, as originally designed by Saul Bass, had many different physical looks that could be used, and which one was used depended on the situation… and only one was right for each situation. Mr. Bass was one of the great designers of the 20th Century and many of his logo designs are familiar to us all (AT&T, United Airlines, Minolta, Pepsi, Exxon, United Way, and many, many others). When he created the famous Minolta Logo in 1987, he created variations for use in black and white or color, small medium or large, and positive and negative art for light or dark backgrounds. These variations were designed so that the logo was always, “perceived the same,” no matter what the application. His design was meant to convey light emanating from the center of the logo… as from a camera lens. And we had a “Graphic Standards Manual,” prepared by Mr. bass to help us make sure we consistently used the logo correctly. (So deeply was I involved in managing Minolta’s identity, I could probably look at any potential implementation, even today many years later, and make sure the correct elements were used.)

As either the owner of a small company, or someone within a small company – or small office – tasked with your company’s communications, you always want to ensure the integrity (part of the “integrated” concept) of your “signature” logo. In the same manner, as you develop, or have developed, different marketing implementations, you will also want to make sure that the integrity of your “Identity” is maintained. This will mean consistent messaging, consistent color usage, consistent type fonts, and consistent visual and audio “signatures” across all your communications – so that your identity is integral to all your message points. So whether it’s a printed ad, a TV spot, or a giveaway pen, there should be no confusion about what company it represents.

Here’s an interesting exercise. Take a look at the page of a Bing Search for “logo.” See how many you recognize. You recognize them because these companies always ensure the integrity of their logo. And their marketing is known for consistent messaging. The messaging may change over the years, but all of the company’s messaging stays, “on message.” Note how you respond to their marketing – there is never any doubt in your mind about who is talking.

This is the same consistent feeling that you want to strive for and maintain in the marketing efforts for your company.

DanSig-02

Learn with the Website Design Mojo Workshop – Save $100

Angela WillsDo you know Angela Wills – The Chief Mojo Maker?

Angela has built her amazing flagship training program, “Website Design Mojo” that starts in 3 Weeks! (You’ll find that Angela is partial to, “mojo” as she uses it as a $100 off coupon for this program). And Angela is passionate about her business, and that business is teaching folks how to quickly create productive and profitable WordPress based web sites. She started building web sites back in 1999… when it wasn’t as easy as it is today, and she’s learned a LOT about creating quality web sites that enhance business. For this iteration of her program, she will be welcoming a whole new group of people into her all-new ‘Private Skype Sessions’. She’s scheduling four weeks of focused learning and then (if you decide to join with the group) lifetime access.

She’s creating all new videos for the newest version of WordPress so you’ll have the absolute most up to date info (for instance, if you look at the sample video on the page I’ll send you to, it covers the older implementation of WordPress’s Media Library… new video, no problem! But I still like her teaching style.)

Add to that over seven hours of video training, tons of previous brainstorming sessions plus a ton of resources and tools, and you’ve got yourself a powerhouse learning resource that can boost your business to a whole new level.

I don’t know how many of you, my loyal readers, are relatively new to business and communicating for business, but in today’s world, a nice web site is one of the main avenues that businesses use to communicate on a regular basis with their customers and prospective customers. It’s where their customers can come to, “get the story” about a business, see examples of their work, and, sometimes, begin communication that leads to a productive business relationship.

I do know, however, that many of you would like to create your own web site and avoid the aggravation of hiring and directing a web construction crew… but really think it’s a difficult proposition. Well, I, for one, am here to tell you it is NOT. For example, once you’ve found a domain name that suits your business; from registering the domain to having a functional WordPress site (like this one) operating can take as little as about, well, 5 minutes – really… that quick. And Angela is one of the right people to help guide you, not only through the process of finding the best, and getting your domain name (in our case here, smallofficecommunicator.net), establishing a web hosting account (in my case for my sites, at HostGator, whom I really like, though Angela prefers BlueHost – I’ve worked with both, and really think they both offer good value and are good companies and recommend either one… and best of all, both offer simple one click WordPress install).

Once you get your site up and running, the world of the web opens up for you and your company, and Angela’s course is the right place to learn about how to take advantage of that and create a web site that represents you and your business well. So her courses are highly recommended!

You can click here to learn the details about The Website Design Mojo. I definitely recommend Angela’s course, especially as she is running that special coupon I mentioned  for $100 off the course price. (I’ll put a sort of a “spoiler alert” here… it looks like Angela’s pricing is Canadian, where she operates from… up the road a piece from Toronto. So when you click through, and add the coupon code, mojo, it will show up in PayPal in your local currency, converted from Canadian Dollars, US in my case – just so you’re aware.)

By all means, check out Angela’s course!

DanSig-02

 

 

 

 

P.S… Definitely don’t forget the coupon code: mojo

What to Include in Your Stories

This blog post I’m going to talk to you about what to include in your stories so that when you set out to market with stories you can be effective. Every story has to include the same elements for it to work.

First, stories start with you understanding and knowing who your target audience is. If you don’t know that, you need to stop reading right now and do some research on who your audience is. You need to understand who you’re directing your story to. If you have an email list, or a good following on social media, why not poll your audience to find out more about them before you attempt marketing with stories.

In general every marketing story needs to let your audience know that you understand them, that they matter, that they’re not alone, that there is hope, and that their problems can be solved. If you can craft a story that covers those elements in a personal way, you’ll create a successful marketing campaign centered on that marketing story. A story like that will be shared, commented on, and get results.

Let’s spell this out…

All stories need:

  • A Subject — This should be your audience. Find out who your target audience is, know what their dreams, hopes and problems are and weave a story around them. You might even be able to find a customer who has a compelling story already about how they overcame something using your products or services or similar products or services.
  • A Goal — You must understand where your subject wants to end up. What are they seeking? Do they want to make more money, work from home, learn to do something, what exact outcome do they seek?
  • A Problem — If you know the goal, then you need to identify the reason your subject is having problems reaching their goal. Is it due to lack of action on their part? Is it due to lack of knowledge? What reason are they having issues reaching their goal? What roadblocks are in their way. This is typically the most emotional part of your story.
  • A Solution — Of course, you need to be able to show the solution exists to help your subject reach their goal and overcome their problem. The solution is either a product, a service, a mindset, a lesson, coaching, or whatever it is that is your specialty. You are the solution, and you must show that in the story.
  • A Moral — No story is ever complete without a moral. Essentially, it’s repeating the entire story in a more direct fashion pointing out the solution to the problems, and how simple it is to have if only they make that next step, which you also spell out very explicitly. This is where your call to action goes when marketing with stories.

All of this has to be told and written in a truthful manner to be effective. Your audience, if you’ve studied them, aren’t stupid. They know when someone is trying to fool them. Best to be honest and up front from the start by telling realistic stories with reasonable results. Next post I’ll discuss the actual steps to writing a credible story that people will share, and that will get actual results.

Integrated Marketing Communications – What is It?

Today, there are many definitions of Integrated Marketing Communications – most are wordy and unclear. I prefer a simple definition that has served me well for quite a few years:

“All your company’s marketing materials should speak with the same voice and look like they came from the same company.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at ads on television, ads in the newspaper, ads in magazines, ads on the radio, printed brochures, web sites, premium giveaway items… anything that carries your company’s message should LOOK like your company and SOUND like your company.

If your company is advertising a product or service in several different ways, if there are consistent colors, typography, layout styles (like a logo signature always in the lower right of the ad), the logo looks the same no matter what medium… then you have, “integrated” your marketing communications. Think about this… If a potential customer or client sees an ad one place that has one look, and an ad a different place that looks completely different, you will lose the value of one of those impressions. But with integrated messaging and style, just that single second impression will have doubled your advertising effectiveness!

What’s the real benefit? When your customer registers that second ad, it makes your company look bigger and more successful – and more likely to be able to deliver a quality product or service that they are looking for. Then, with the simple addition of a giveaway item like a pen, you’ll continue to add effectiveness to your marketing efforts. Add in your web site carrying the same look, and the value of your marketing gets enhanced with each additional impression.

So you can see the value of consistent, “integrated” marketing communications. This is the first of a series of posts I’ll be doing on the concept of, “Integrated Marketing Communications.

DanSig-02

What Storytelling is and is Not

As Annette Simmons once said “If you wish to influence an individual or a group to embrace a particular value in their daily lives, tell them a compelling story.”

Story telling is a powerful tool for marketing your business. However, be aware, I want to be crystal clear about what I am advocating and what I am not advocating. Marketing with stories is not license to lie, fabricate, or trick your audience. When you think of stories, instead of imagining fiction, or a used car salesman try to imagine instead the stories your Mom, Dad, or favorite uncle told you about their young life. Sure, most of the time the story was designed to keep you from making their mistakes, but they were true, honest, and actually did the job.

Marketing with stories isn’t that different. It’s about crafting realistic stories that impart the knowledge on your audience that they need to make a decision to solve their problems. It’s also about creating relatable content, surprising and delighting your audience, all while being realistic and truthful. It’s about letting your audience get to know you on a whole new level, breaking down boundaries, and creating brand loyalty with your audience that cannot be matched with other marketing methods.

You want your audience to laugh, cry or jump for joy that they’ve finally found what they need and your story should easily accomplish that. Your marketing stories can be the difference between your brand and other brand that promises two for one if you buy widget A. Your story can compel your audience to take the leap to solve their problems without any false sales tactics or emotional blackmail.

At its core, marketing with stories is about making a connection with your audience. After all, the stories you create are about them. That’s right, the stories you write will be about your audience and will address their concerns, their needs, their pain points, and how your product or service will fix those issues. Remember nothing has changed about basic marketing. It’s still about your audience, and it’s still benefits over features. As harsh as it may sound to you, no one cares about anything other than what’s in it for them, and how your product or service solves their problem. Price is far down on the list, as are the many features you are excited to tell them about.

Marketing with stories gives you a good way to make it about your audience, focusing on benefits over features by telling your audience’s story in a new, interesting and compelling way. By telling stories about your audience and customers you tell your audience exactly what they want to hear, and don’t make the mistake of telling them things they don’t want to hear. Think about it, when Uncle Bob tells the story about TPing his arch enemies house and getting arrested for vandalism remember, it’s wasn’t really about that.

It was about telling you what not to do, and teaching you about the consequences that actions carry by sharing his story in hopes you could learn from his mistakes. But, the only way to get you to listen was to try to make the story humorous and exciting so you could listen to the end and get the moral of the story. Did you still get the message? Yes. Of course.

Every story you tell has to include some very specific elements for it to work. Next post I’m going to tell you what your stories need to include, and what they always need to have in order to get the results you want when marketing with stories.

Interesting Article – Social Traffic Comes from Mobile

Interesting article and interesting concept: The Majority of Social Media Traffic Comes from Mobil.

Computer_and_MobileI have a slightly different take on this. I suspect that many communications professionals, when working in their offices, are at their computers working away… but keep their mobile devices close to keep an eye on Social sites to keep up with the latest concepts and ideas. So work continues on the desktop or laptop, but the smartphone or tablet are nearby so communicators keep an eye on what the social world is saying about their company. This is really cool as sometimes communicators can get almost instant feedback to projects that have just, “gone live.”

See if this concept can help you and your business, “do more business.”

DanSig-02

Interesting Article – Marcomm is Growing

Just read an informative article on a UK recruiting web site EMR Recruitment. You can read it here: http://smallofficecommunicator.net/lmm0.

Though this is talking about bigger companies in the United Kingdom, what it means for the Small Office Communicator is that Marketing Communications – Marcomm – is gaining respect and importance in the business world and helping businesses to grow. For the person tasked with the responsibility for marketing communications in the small business and small office, this need for increased respect is also important. We can use this information to reduce the impact of other responsibilities on our time so we can create more relevant, responsive, and productive communications to grow our businesses.

See if it can help you grow.

Best…

DanSig-02

 

Marketing Through Stories With Sebasian Morales

I am happy to introduce to you Sebastian Morales who, over the next couple of weeks, is going to tell you all about marketing with stories. You’re going to learn about the importance of marketing through storytelling in the right way that gets results. You’re going to learn what story telling is, how to create truthful, credible stories that are interesting, informative and compelling enough to ignite your audience to take action, without any overt selling. Welcome Sebastian!

Hello and thank you for the awesome welcome. I can’t wait to share a ton of information about marketing through stories with you in the coming weeks.

Story telling has been a practice for generations for all types of marketing, even before we invented the term “marketing.” People who had something to sell others sometimes invented stories, some were realistic, some weren’t, but time and again the concept of storytelling to market a business has been shown to work better than any other method of marketing. If you can tap into the stories your audience needs and wants to hear that resonate with them you’ll create a situation where they feel like they know you, then come to like you and trust you, and finally want to buy from you.

When you think about it, stories are part of our lives from birth through death. We literally live stories every single day of our lives. It’s how we communicate, it’s how we relax after a long day. Storytelling is in our DNA. Successful companies tap into our story telling DNA in a way that resonates with their audience helping them see themselves in the stories receiving the results, and solving their problems, just like the characters in the story.

In this marketing with stories series, you’re going to learn to distinguish what type of stories your audience wants to read and how to use visuals to make your stories more appealing and understandable. Finally, you’re going to learn how to make your stories so compelling that you’ll get more shares, more sign ups, and more responses than ever before. I can’t wait to get started.

Until next time!

Sebastian Morales


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