To prepare and strategize is not to jinx—it’s to win

Posted on December 1st, 2009 by | Filed under: Marketing in a Recession, Marketing News, Soap Box

The wise marketer will take advantage of this critical moment in an economic cycle. If your company has been saving resources and restraining marketing spending, you can still position your company for favorable market share and future sales by increasing your presence now.

Despite stubborn unemployment and cautious consumers, the nation’s manufacturing grew for the fourth consecutive month in November, according to the Institute for Supply Management. While the overall U.S. economy has expanded for the seventh straight month, the recent stabilizing of the manufacturing sector suggests consumer demand should soon follow.

In the past several years, no moment has been more critical than this one for stepping up your media presence. Your email marketing will help bring in direct response leads, of course, but direct marketing response works best when your brand is highly visible in your target market’s media consumption pattern—particularly if your competitors are there.

Contrary to some of the chatter from the tech marketing blogosphere, branding still works. It always will as long as human beings have emotional responses. And at today’s point in the recession cycle, a well executed ad campaign is the smartest marketing move a company can make. So go ahead. Don’t worry, you won’t jinx the economic recovery.

The hidden opportunity in your PDF downloads

Posted on August 12th, 2009 by | Filed under: Integrated Marketing, Investor Relations, Marketing News, Soap Box

If your company is like most these days, you have numerous PDFs on your Web site available for download. With this cost effective and user friendly tactic, many companies are missing the opportunity to let the PDF help close the sale.

Newsletter PDF Download (Toyota Material Handling)

PDF Newsletter (Toyota Material Handling)

Too often, the downloadable PDF is not professionally designed because you’re not investing in offset printing. Such treatment can lead to missed opportunities. When uploading documents in PDF format to your Web site, ask yourself, “What does my audience do with those documents, and are my PDFs doing their job?”

From investor relations to sales collateral, your PDF downloads provide a convenient means for potential buyers and investors to collect the information they seek.  But do those documents rise to the level of your corporate identity? Do they enhance your brand? Do they build your image? Do they sell?

When researching a vendor, product or service, buyers commonly collect downloaded PDFs and spit them out of the office printer for later analysis. Product information, whitepapers, spec sheets, company fact sheets, annual reports – they’re all being downloaded and printed as we speak. While offset printing volumes are being reduced, the office printer is alive and well.

So treat the office printer like another media channel. When your company’s material comes out looking superior to the others in the prospect’s collection, you’ve just jumped to the top of the stack.

When your message is compelling, you’re ahead of the marketing technology curve

Posted on April 30th, 2009 by | Filed under: Marketing in a Recession, Soap Box

As the tools of the advertising and marketing trade shift, some marketers may embrace it all with gusto, throwing away the ‘traditional’ models in favor of new media metrics. Some may resist or dread the new tools. Both positions are unwise.

The smart marketer knows:

  • We’re not replacing old channels with new–we’re redefining the roles of all new and traditional channels in the marketing mix.
  • Creative campaigns and branding concepts are essential across all kinds of media.
  • You can get ahead of your competition by bringing some tried-and-true principles to the new media.

Today we have blogs, social media, Webinars, email, and various avenues for making these media work together and talk to each other. However, as many did during the dot-com bubble back in the early 2000s, some get enamored with the technology and forget about the power of fundamental corporate image management and creative marketing campaigns.

When you step into marketing technology tools, don’t forget about the creative. It could jump you ahead of your competition.

Email will be an essential tactic in your marketing mix for 2009

Posted on February 2nd, 2009 by | Filed under: Marketing in a Recession, Soap Box

If you haven’t gotten serious about email marketing yet, 2009 is the year you will. It has become the cog in the engine of corporate marketing from first response to ongoing customer relationship management.

Whether consumer or business-to-business, email is one of the most critical touch points between a brand and its public. Good email marketing is not a “blast.” Rather, it is relevant and valuable to the recipient. In today’s economy, it’s not enough to push various sales messages out to your public. When done right, email is an effective, rapid way to build brand image and create loyal customers.

Email marketing is most effective when used in tandem with direct mail, Web landing pages, and a CRM system. And in 2009, a challenging economic year, smart marketers will be doing it. Why?

So with everyone trying their hand at email marketing, how can you avoid being lost in the noise? Careful attention to branding and message is the short answer. The following article has appeared on several blogs lately and offers timely tips:

How Can You Make Your Emails Stand Out?

Posted using ShareThis

Newsletters help maintain positive perceptions, stability

Posted on January 23rd, 2009 by | Filed under: Marketing in a Recession, Soap Box

Whether in a time of prosperity, a recession, or a tight labor market, never underestimate the power of a newsletter.

Ervin | Bell's redesign of Toyota Material Handling's newsletter. The Fall '08 issue saluted distributors and employees' heroics in the Midwest floods of ealier that year.

Toyota Material Handling's newsletter

These days many successful companies are using a blog, sometimes thought of as modern version of the newsletter. However, a printed newsletter still achieves something the blog cannot: the perception of stability. It’s tangible, powerful, and influences purchasing decisions. That’s why Toyota Material Handling recently hired Ervin | Bell to redesign their newsletter.

In the example shown, Toyota Material Handling saluted the heroics of their employees and distributors during the 2008 Midwest floods. The affect of the printed piece is profound in ways a blog or online presentation cannot achieve.

Blogs, with the added dimensions of search optimization and immediacy, demand a different set of writing styles and conventions. While newsletter content is often usable as blog posts, your blog is generally best used for time-sensitive and more industry-wide relevant material with shorter story length.

Make sure your company is not simply migrating your newsletter content into your blog. They are different media and demand their own specialized style and practices.

An old brand can be the ticket to new market share

Posted on January 23rd, 2009 by | Filed under: Marketing in a Recession, Marketing News, Soap Box

Looking for a shortcut to increased market share? If you have opportunity, buy an old brand. Building a dominant brand in any market segment can take decades. In today’s market, some savvy companies are looking for fire-sale prices on old school brands.

The following article shared from tells the story of an entreprenurial company who purchased, of all things, the Gold Bond brand of medicated foot powder. Instead of updating the brand, the company smartly milked the old-school look of the brand and extended it to a myriad of personal care products.

read more | digg story

Essential, affordable branding and marketing tactics during a recession

Posted on December 4th, 2008 by | Filed under: Marketing in a Recession, Soap Box

Email marketing can be a highly effective alternative when budgets are tight. When done properly, email is among the most cost-effective methods of enhancing and strengthening your existing client base. When done poorly, however, it can damage your brand.

A well executed email marketing program is the most economical way to market to, and build loyalty with, an existing customer base. But don’t expect to acquire new customers with direct emails from your company lest you be branded a spammer. A good in-house email list cannot be bought, only earned. When you earn it, it becomes a highly valuable asset.

Email lists can be built through advertising (that’s right, the “A” word) on targeted publishers’ online newsletters. This way your message is received via a trusted third party. Compared to print, these advertising products can be quite reasonable and far less costly than paid search. If your ad is well placed and has a compelling message, you can convert new subscribers to your in-house email list.

When budgets are tight, don’t cut the “What,” change the “How”

Posted on December 4th, 2008 by | Filed under: Marketing in a Recession, Soap Box

We often hear we should keep up our marketing activity during a recession to maintain–even improve–our market position. The reality, however, is that leaving your marketing budget intact while making cuts elsewhere is easier said than done, and in most cases it’s just unrealistic.

While all cuts are painful, a cut in the marketing budget is often seen as temporary and therefore livable. But to completely stop marketing activity is to surrender market position to your competitors. Can’t afford to maintain previous budget levels? The savvy thing to do during a recession is to switch to highly economical tactics while maintaining your brand integrity.

Bottom line: If you have to cut back your marketing budget, don’t cut the “What,” change the “How.” We’re in a recession and budgets are thin. Lean, economical marketing tactics executed with your existing brand integrity will protect your market share.

Email marketing has grown up as the novelty has worn off

Posted on October 13th, 2008 by | Filed under: Soap Box
Email is an excellent medium for distributor/agent audiences, because they are most willing to be plugged into the brand.

Email is an excellent medium for the agent or dealer audience. They are willing 'brand participants.'

The blogger’s opinion in the shared post below is consistent with our own observations concerning the role of email marketing in today’s media mix. It is true that email has increasingly become an effective retention tool, while it has declined as an acquisition tool.

There are ways, however, to leverage email as a medium in your customer acquisition efforts. In particular, sponsored ads within existing email newsletters can bring relevant content to an audience already loyal to the sender, thereby providing reach to new potential  subscribers. Publishers who sell ad space in their email newsletters are on to this, and that can be a good alternative.

Meanwhile, the in-house email list has emerged as one of the most valuable assets of the corporate marketing department. That’s because it can’t be bought – the only effective email list is the one that’s earned. When speaking of companies’ in-house email initiatives, this blogger from E-consultancy puts it well:
clipped from
The use of email marketing to drive customer acquisition is in significant, and terminal, decline.
email is not a customer acquisition tool. In fact it never has been, but in the early years of the media, the novelty of receiving email meant that acquisition and lead generation emails were opened and clicked on.
Any email marketer who thinks that consumers expect and deserve regular, mass email marketing will find their reputation and results flowing rapidly down the toilet.

Email marketing is a retention tool, and used cleverly it is the ‘killer app’.

Cold emailing as a core business proposition just doesn’t work because the need to flog as much data as possible is totally contrary to email marketing’s core requirements – targeting, relevance and quality.
blog it

Corporate branding should improve the bottom line, not dent it

Posted on October 1st, 2008 by | Filed under: Soap Box

(By Michael Ervin, published in Orange County Business Journal)

Throughout the past decade, the focus on corporate branding has led to a heightened awareness of the critical role a branding campaign plays in the communications mix. We know that effective promotion of a brand helps customers, employees and shareholders better understand a company and its offerings. It enhances the confidence that stakeholders have in that business and its activities. It differentiates the company from its competition. And, we now see that all of these attributes can have a positive effect on a company’s fiscal health.

Unfortunately, the last decade also found those who believed that companies could “out brand” their competition simply by outspending them. Often, corporate branding campaigns offered high hopes at a hefty price. There were those who thought that the more money spent to “invent” a company’s brand, the more powerful it would become. But now, more than ever, we know that smart—not necessarily costly—branding is effective and essential. And smart branding is based on a company’s current, definable practices, activities, philosophies and personality.

Brand is an asset that affects your bottom line
Branding Is Everything: A strong brand provides the power of premium pricing.

A truly effective marketing communications program will uncover the strongest brand identity for a company when it is based on reality. By showcasing a company’s greatest strengths—hopefully those that also differentiate it in the marketplace—a company can build valuable credibility that resonates with its customers, employees and shareholders. Since a corporate brand is a reflection of what is true about a company, no amount of money thrown at “inventing” a brand will be successful—the company must walk the talk of the brand image it promotes. A well-researched, efficiently crafted, reality-based branding communications effort, therefore, need not be a multi-million-dollar proposition.

Not only is branding based on facts essential for enhancing a company’s goodwill, it has also become a necessary business practice to fortify balance sheets. Recent studies show that a brand’s power accounts for a whopping five percent of those things that contribute to whether the stock price will go up or down. When you consider the fact that a company’s “financial strength” factored in at only six percent—a mere percentage point difference—you can see how much power a brand wields.

Of course, stock price or shareholder confidence is one thing. A strong brand can also impact a company’s bottom line by affecting its ability to retain employees, attract customers and, ultimately, reduce costs by building momentum on its marketing dollars.

Gone are the days when branding efforts were optional. In today’s competitive marketplace, building corporate brand identity is critical to gaining ground on competitors. And while it shouldn’t place a heavy financial burden on a company, branding is simply something we can’t afford not to do.