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6 Advanced Digital Marketing Strategies You Should Try

6 Advanced Digital Marketing Strategies You Should Try

Marketing is crucial for your business to succeed. Whether you are an online retail shop owner or a first-time entrepreneur, you probably already know the importance of smart and effective advertising.

In order to kick-start your business and support it as it grows, you should have a detailed marketing plan. This article will look into six advanced digital marketing strategies you should try in your campaign.

1. Guest Posts

Guest blogging is often being overlooked by the majority of entrepreneurs and even marketers themselves. The primary purpose of guests posts is link building, and perhaps they are the best tool for it.

Guest posts are essential for growing your business, and here’s why:

They help build relationships: If you are an expert in your field, you will easily be able to establish a connection with your audience and with the bloggers you collaborate with. Being professional about what you do and displaying an insightful look at the industry can help inspire loyalty and trust in your customers.

They are good for SEO: When you leave a link to your website on the guest post you write on an authoritative blog, you will not only receive more traffic through those links, but your website will rank higher in web searches. Google sees backlinks from different places that lead to your site and this makes the search engine prioritizes your website over others.

They are relatively cheap: Compared to other marketing techniques, guest blogging is fairly cheap. The thing to keep in mind though is that you must mainly focus on the quality of content instead of trying to sell your products. If your article has no value, then what use is it?

They provide new leads and opportunities: As mentioned before, being an expert in your field can potentially lead to new customers. If people like your content, they will want to find out more about your business and eventually become your clients.

2. Translations

The logic behind this strategy is fairly simple: the more accessible you make your content, the more people you will reach. By translating your website into different languages, you will be able to appeal to the foreign audiences, which will lead to your business going global.

If you are not good with languages and don’t know anyone who can translate your content, you can always turn to online translation services which have become very popular in recent years. Such sites as The Word Point offer translations to dozens of languages for a decent price and in a small amount of time.

For this marketing strategy to be effective, you should consider translating to at least two or three languages other than English. If you are based in North America, a good idea would be to spread into South America. This means that you will have to localize your content for the respective countries, whose main languages are Spanish and Portuguese or variations of these.

Likewise, if you are based in Europe, you can target the biggest potential markets that you are missing out on at the moment. Don’t try to hurry though, and start off with several languages first. You can increase that number once you have established yourself in your target countries.

3. Skyscraper Technique

When using the Skyscraper Technique, you will be able to develop many aspects of your business marketing. The technique itself is pretty simple:

Find Trending Content: The first thing you do is find the content in your niche that is currently trending. Sometimes such topics can die out as fast as they sprang up, so be sure to act fast.

Compile A List Of Distributors: Now make a list of websites or blogs where you will be posting your future content. Your articles might be guest posts, so you have to find out if the sites permit backlinks beforehand.

Create Better Content: Go through the content you found and make it better. Develop certain points or include additional analysis. Maybe the content lacks facts or statistics. If the language is too complicated, simplify it so that more people can understand it. Your goal is to create an article that is better than what you found. Because you are using a trending topic, you will most definitely succeed in finding an audience for your work.

Post It & Receive Feedback: Once you post the content on the sites you chose, keep interacting with your readers. Show that you are willing to stay up-to-date on the topic and are a professional in your industry. The backlinks should increase your traffic too.

4. Smart Emails

You are probably thinking about how useless and ineffective email marketing is nowadays. But this is actually not the case if you know how to do it properly.

A good email will possess all the qualities of a good ad. To make your emails more appealing, think about these features:

  • -Design is everything. Make it stand out.
  • -Less text. More images.
  • -Saturate your content. Only on topic.

Along with the things listed above, try targeting specific people instead of the general public. Look for certain users on the Internet and aim your emails at them. One way to make email marketing easier is to use such a tool as MailChimp or analogs. It makes sending these messages faster and more efficient.

5. Moving Man Method

This is a fairly new tricky technique that was coined by Brian Dean. The system goes like this:

  • -Find Defunct Websites: Find websites in your industry or niche that have moved to a new URL, changed names, stopped offering services, or went out of business completely.
  • -Look Through The Data: Carefully look through these websites to find the content you like.
  • -Create Better Content: Just like with the Skyscraper Technique, create better content than what they used to offer.
  • -Reach Out To Sites With Backlinks: Find sites and blogs that contain backlinks to these defunct websites. Reach out to them and ask if they would change the links to your own articles.

Quite a witty technique that is gaining popularity right now, the Moving Man Method is an easy way to create quality content and get backlinks to your site.

6. Advertorials

Last but not least, advertorials are the way to go because of their unique nature. Unlike traditional advertisement, advertorials serve the purpose of connecting with your audience rather than plainly selling your product.

There is a great article on How To Write An Advertorial that you can check out to get acquainted with what an advertorial is. Here’s a rundown of how to make your advertorial more appealing:

  • -Find the right media outlet. Don’t choose at random.
  • -Clearly label your advertorial as ‘advertisement’ (according to FTC’s guidelines), or else it will be banned.
  • -Advertorials are like blogs: don’t sell the product, sell the content related to your product.
  • -Share your advertorials on social media.

To sum up, these are definitely not the only advanced digital marketing strategies that will aid you during your advertising. But they are most obviously worth a try and may be of great use when implemented right. Don’t pass by and take note!

Eleven Big Brand Mistakes Companies Regularly Make

Whether or not you realize it, brand is tremendously important to every aspect of your business. A well-crafted and well-executed brand strategy can cut through the noise of a million messages, articulate your promise to the customer, set you apart from the competition, scale your business, and establish yourself as a leader in the space.

Problem is, most leaders underestimate and neglect their brand. Even those who think they know brand inside and out often have big misconceptions or serious flaws in their strategy—and in this case, what they don’t know can hurt them.  

Misunderstanding brand leads to costly mistakes. Only by recognizing common missteps and avoiding them can you fully realize the power of a strong brand and put your business ahead of the competition.

Brand should be a company’s North Star. It should guide every decision you make. Forging an ironclad brand lets you occupy the single best position in the hearts and minds of your customers. When you pinpoint this optimal position, you’ll be able to create value, maximize scale, and lead with purpose.

On the other hand, a poorly crafted and executed brand position can seriously cost you. Read on for a list of mistakes that too many companies regularly make:

MISTAKE #1: You don’t claim your brand position at all. Instead you let the market do it for you. Position happens whether or not you are driving it. If you allow yourself to be positioned by the market, it most likely will not be your optimal brand position for growth. So, the number-one mistake is to underestimate the importance of brand positioning by not intentionally claiming your brand position at all.

Don’t be an accidental brand. It’s too important. A business’s brand can either unleash your competitive advantage or thwart it.

MISTAKE #2: You delay on brand strategy. Ironclad brand strategy is not just for established businesses with traction. It is also for start-ups. The sooner you have a brand strategy, the sooner you’ll have both your North Star and your rudder. Know your purpose now—you can always revisit it later as your product gains market fit and momentum. As with any business, you will refine your direction as you learn more about your customer, the competitive space, and your own strengths as a business.

MISTAKE #3: You focus on the category benefit of your product. Assuming you do participate in careful brand positioning, the most common business pitfall is choosing a positioning idea that is not ownable and differentiated. Many businesses pin their brands on a category benefit or “table stakes”: a benefit that is not only not unique to the market, but is a must-have for anyone in the space.

If you sell a pancake mix (and your brand isn’t dominant), it’s vital to avoid relying on table stakes like “comfort food on Sunday mornings.” Instead, you have to focus on something that only you bring to the pancake experience. Identify the things you are particularly good at (maybe your mix is healthier than the others, or you deliver a traditional Swedish-style pancake). Then isolate which of these are unique in the market. Finally, determine which of these resonates with your target audience.

MISTAKE #4: You don’t recognize the vastness of brand. Lots of people misunderstand brand because a lot of different components and tactics make up brand. It includes things like logos, advertising, TV and social media, the product itself, customer experience, tagline, SEO, font, your business’s personality, and even the color of your employees’ uniforms. But none of these are, by themselves, brand. Brand is the interconnected web of what your business means and how you deliver that meaning, all made possible by your special position in your customer’s universe. 

To conflate brand with one of its many manifestations is to miss its power.

MISTAKE #5: You don’t choose a focus. Brand strategy includes choosing what you are NOT going to focus on (even though it is scary). By choosing what falls inside your brand purpose, you are also choosing what falls out of it. Focus is how you win. You must muster the courage and effort to undertake this heavy-lifting strategic work.

Choose to stand for something—one thing. In choosing your “yes,” you necessarily choose many “noes.” Shining the light on one thing darkens what lies outside that beam.

MISTAKE #6: You fail to get the customer’s attention. A customer can engage with your business only when she knows it exists. That means you must make it easy for them to notice you. The solution isn’t to shout loudly (and most lack the marketing budget to shout loudly enough). The solution instead is to speak with bracing clarity, which most businesses fail to do. Be crystal clear about what your business is and why that matters to customers.

A storefront near my office failed to get my attention. Its windows featured women clad in fleece tunics, and the signage was vague and New Age-y with an obscure tagline. I assumed that this business sold crystals and incense, so I was surprised to learn it was a Pilates studio. I practice Pilates and am in the middle of this business’s target customer profile. But this Pilates studio failed to make their business easy for me to see, so I did not see it. I did not become a customer because they did not make it easy for me to do so.

MISTAKE #7: You forget to consider the customer’s frame of reference. A frame of reference is that thing your customer would be using if your product or service didn’t exist. It’s what they would buy instead of your offering. Businesses tend to think about their frame of reference from the business’s perspective, instead of from the customer’s perspective. This is a huge missed opportunity.

It’s easy to know your most persistent direct competitors. But remember that your target is evaluating your offering in the context of other competitive options—both direct competitors and more elusive ‘substitutes.’ Therefore, it’s important to consider your brand positioning with respect to all other options your customer might choose, including direct competitors, indirect competitors, and options completely outside of your space. 

When it came out in 1975, Atari sold zero units at a toy industry trade show because it was priced at $79, an astronomical price point for the frame of reference of “toys.” It wasn’t until they contacted Sears, which sold a very successful home pinball machine for $200, that they sold 175,000 units by the end of the year. By distributing their console as a home sporting good, they were in a useful context for the customer—and they had a compelling price point.

MISTAKE #8: Your brand doesn’t have “teeth.” Your brand strategy must be demonstrably true. It must have the power to make people believe it, trust it, and follow it because it offers compelling proof that it will live up to its promise—in other words, it has teeth. Those teeth can be an attribute, a feature, a fact, a guarantee, an ingredient—any special thing the brand offers and follows through with that provides its promise. The less debatable, the better.

Look at Zappos, a brand that represents best-in-class customer service. That is no squishy promise, because specifics back it up. For example, Zappos displays its phone number on every page of its website. And when you call it, a live person answers and seems genuinely glad you called. The Zappos promise of customer service has teeth.

MISTAKE #9: You fail to narrow down your target customer. Your target customers are the people you want to attract more of. They are the people you are most able to delight because of your distinctive strengths. Most businesses characterize them in a superficial way and end up describing little of their inner world. Instead, characterize your target customer as a subtle and empathetic picture of how they view themselves. Remember that identifying your target customer does not eliminate your larger addressable market!

Picture your customers as sprinkled across a dartboard. The full dartboard is your addressable market. You sell to the whole dartboard. The bull’s-eye is your target, the customers you must aim to please the most. The target customers in the middle will ideally influence the customers on the outer circles of the dartboard.

MISTAKE #10: You wind up too low or too high on the benefit ladder. A benefit ladder spells out the layers of your benefits from product features and specifications at the bottom, to functional benefits in the middle, to emotional benefits at the top. Savvy leaders choose to shine the spotlight on the rung of the ladder that is as high as their customer currently permits them to go, but no higher. The higher the better, until it is too high. The common errors here are choosing emphasis on the ladder that is either too low (features and product attributes) or too high (the intangible, ethereal benefits).

If you are too low on the ladder, features will not create high enough value for your customer that she will be moved to buy and pay meaningfully for your offering. When your focus is too high on the ladder, you are not providing accessible scaffolding for the customer to believe your promise. The linchpin of a ladder is its middle. The middle is low enough to be accessible to the customer—sharp-edged, believable, rationally easy-to-grasp. Focusing on the ladder’s middle enables you to deliver substantial value, gain a sizeable and defensible position, and appeal to emotions.

MISTAKE #11: You try to reach all customers with one-size-fits-all messaging. There are five stages of a customer’s journey with your brand: Unaware, Aware, Consider, Purchase, and Loyal. Your goal should be to craft a messaging hierarchy for customers at every stage of the journey. Unfortunately, many people are tempted to develop a sentence or paragraph so great that it will serve all your purposes—all stages of the journey. Resist the temptation. There is no one magic message that will advance all customers at all journey stages.

Further, it’s a mistake to conflate stages of the journey, either coming on too strong too soon (conflating the Aware or Consider stage with the Purchase stage) or bragging about your product features to someone not yet liking the promise (conflating the Consider or Purchase stage with the Loyal stage). Take your fences one at a time.

It’s never too late to brush up on brand and start making better choices for your business. Don’t let past mistakes derail your future success. Even if you recognize yourself or your product or service in every common mistake, you can still turn things around by making changes that will help you thrive starting today.

About the Author:

Lindsay Pedersen is the author of Forging an Ironclad Brand: A Leader’s Guide. She is a brand strategist, board advisor, coach, speaker, and teacher known for her scientific, growth-oriented approach to brand building. She developed the Ironclad Method for value-creating brands while working with billion-dollar businesses like Starbucks, Clorox, Zulily, T-Mobile, and IMDb, as well as many burgeoning start-ups. Lindsay lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.

For more information, please visit www.ironcladbrandstrategy.com.

About the Book:

Forging an Ironclad Brand: A Leader’s Guide (Lioncrest Publishing, April 2019, ISBN: 978-1-544-51386-7, $27.99) is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.

Kerry Coffee Establishes Position in Hong Kong, Macau

Kerry Logistics will fulfill its vision of deepening its two-year partnership with illycaffè through the launch of sole distributor, Kerry Coffee Limited, which will oversee and distribute the illycaffè’s iperEspresso coffee machines, capsules, coffee beans, and more throughout Hong Kong and
Macau.

“The establishment of Kerry Coffee and the consolidation of illycaffè’s full product range under the new company will enhance the cost-efficiency of the sales and distribution operation, and enable illycaffè to increase its market share and brand recognition in Hong Kong and Macau,” commented
Robert Berger, Executive Director – Fashion & Lifestyle of Kerry Logistics (Hong Kong) in response to the news.

Kerry Coffee will create a full consolidation of illycaffè’s products under a single operator, further establishing its position in the coffee market and competitor in the region, ultimately meeting increased demand in the growing coffee culture.

Additionally, Kerry Logistics confirmed it will continue its original role of providing logistics support along with sales and marketing for the global coffee company. Marketing initiatives include brand recognition and increasing market shares.

“The development also enriches Kerry Logistics’ food services business and allows greater product diversification to serve HORECA and club customers in Hong Kong and Macau,” Berger added in the release.

Source: Kerry Logistics


Want To Do Business With Baby Boomers? You’ll Find Them On Social Media.

Forget those jokes about Baby Boomers and their supposed struggles grasping today’s technology.

They may have grown up in a black-and-white TV, rotary-phone era, but most Baby Boomers long ago adapted to the 21st-century digital world. And that includes social media, which they took to with almost as much delight as their children and grandchildren if recent studies on the subject are any indication.

As a result, any business or professional who wants to market to Baby Boomers needs to understand that reaching them through social media channels should be part of the strategy, says Jonathan Musgrave, owner and chief digital marketer for Steep Digital Marketing (www.steepdigital.com).

“I always tell people that educationally based messages are the key to getting traction when it comes to reaching and influencing people on social media,” Musgrave says. “While plenty of goods are sold on Facebook, for example, that’s not primarily why Baby Boomers, or anyone else, logs in each day.

“Instead, the reason they are addicted to social media is to see what’s new. What’s new with their friends, kids and grandkids? What’s new in the news? The best way to reach them and market to them is to position yourself as an educator; someone who is telling them what’s new.”

If that still sounds more like a way to reach younger generations rather than BabyBoomers, consider this: A study by Google revealed that Boomers and seniors spend more time online than they do watching TV. Also, 82.3 percent of Boomers who use the internet have at least one social media account, with Facebook being their favorite.

Musgrave says his company uses several approaches when creating effective Facebook ads, but many of these elements also can work for routine social media posts on a business or professional site as well. They include:

Images. It’s important to have compelling images to catch a social media user’s attention while they’re scrolling through their newsfeed and makes them stop to take a second look. “We use colors and font combinations that grab your attention immediately,” Musgrave says.

Captivating headlines. Headlines are the gateway to getting people to read the rest of your copy. “Shorter headlines are easier to read and get straight to the point,” Musgrave says. “We want things to be as easy as possible for people to understand what we are offering in their area.”

Engaging copy. Once the headline draws them in, you need to deliver with an engaging message. Musgrave suggests one way to do this is with questions. “Asking questions of your audience creates a desire for an answer to those questions,” he says. “This creates an open loop that makes the brain grab on tight. It acts like a ‘pop quiz’ and keeps the audience glued.” It’s also important to avoid buzzwords, he says. “You want your copy to be easily readable, and buzzwords usually do the opposite of that,” Musgrave says. “People do business with people who make things easier for them.”

“Facebook is the primary way Baby Boomers interact with content online, although you can find them on other social media platforms as well, such as Twitter and LinkedIn,” Musgrave says. “It’s critical that anyone who wants to do business with Baby Boomers understand that if you’re looking to reach them, social media is a good place to make the connection.”

About Jonathan Musgrave

Jonathan Musgrave is the owner and chief digital marketer of Steep Digital Marketing (www.steepdigital.com), which he founded in 2017. Musgrave leverages his 13+ years of experience in the financial services world to help financial professionals reach more than 8,000,000 prospects each month with social media advertising. Steep Digital Marketing has rapidly grown and was recently recognized as one of the top 100 Colorado Companies to Watch.


Why Businesses Must Grasp Millennial Thinking Or Face Economic Calamity

When it comes to shopping and buying, the Millennial generation appears to play by its own rules.

And businesses that fail to understand the Millennial mindset are destined to fall behind their competition – and perhaps plummet into irrelevancy, says Gui Costin (www.guicostin.com), an entrepreneur, consultant and author of Millennials Are Not Aliens.

“Millennials are changing how we buy, how we sell, how we vacation, how we invest, and just about everything else,” Costin says. “If you’re running a business, you have to pay attention to how they think and act.”

Millennials are the generation born roughly from 1981 to 1995, meaning that the older millennials aren’t that far from 40. There are about 80 million Millennials, or nearly one-third of the adult population in the U.S. – and that’s a lot of buying power.

Millennials grew up under very different circumstances than Baby Boomers and Generation X, though, and the way in which they came of age greatly influenced them.

One example is their relationship with technology.

“All of us, regardless of which generation we belong to, have been impacted by technology,” Costin says. “But the generation most affected by the digital, connected world are the Millennials. You could think of it this way: If technology were a geyser, Baby Boomers and Generation Xers have been sprayed by its impact, but Millennials got drenched.”

And their natural use of technology transformed the way they act as consumers, Costin says.

“Bargaining is a part of their process,” he says. “Because they are facile with technology, they rely heavily on their cell phones to price shop and hunt the best deals.”

Costin says there’s plenty that businesses need to understand about Millennials, but here are just a few other facts about their consumer habits worth paying attention to:

They let everyone know about their buying experiences. It is not uncommon for Millennials to candidly share details about their buying experiences, good or bad, on their public social media platforms. “This can translate to bad news for businesses that underperform or, conversely, great news for those that exceed expectations,” Costin says.

Big purchases can happen virtually. For many older people, it’s difficult to even conceive the idea of buying a car, for example, without ever physically seeing or touching it first. “Millennials do it all the time,” Costin says. “In fact, they are the very first of all the generations to make a large purchase without first performing an on-site inspection.”

Brand loyalty means something. No matter how fickle many people believe Millennials to be, they are extremely brand loyal, Costin says. In fact, 60 percent of Millennials say they almost always stick to brands they currently purchase.

Information is essential. Millennials scour the internet to learn about a brand or product before making a purchase. They check websites, blogs, or peer reviews that they trust.

Instant gratification is paramount. Because they have grown up in a digital age, Millennials are used to speed and immediate gratification. “They value prompt feedback and communication and do not like wasting time,” Costin says. “Think emails, text messages, and online messaging.”

“The environment you grow up in determines what you become accustomed to,” Costin says. “Gen Xers and Baby Boomers need to realize that how they grew up is affecting the way they are selling and marketing their organizations. But you cannot sell and market to Millennials the same way you were sold and marketed to.

“The good news is, many companies are listening. They are actively replacing dated, manual processes with more efficient, cutting-edge tools to promote the convenience and speed Millennials crave.”

About Gui Costin

Gui Costin (www.guicostin.com), author of Millennials Are Not Aliens, is an entrepreneur, and founder of Dakota, a company that sells and markets institutional investment strategies. Dakota is also the creator of two software products: Draft, a database that contains a highly curated group of qualified institutional investors; and Stage, a content platform built for institutional due diligence analysts where they can learn an in-depth amount about a variety of investment strategies without having to initially talk to someone. Dakota’s mission is to level the playing field for boutique investment managers so they can compete with bigger, more well-resourced investment firms. 

How Traditional Marketing Can Benefit From A Digital Twist

At one time, marketing meant using such tactics as buying commercial time on TV or radio stations, advertising in a newspaper or magazine, or sending your message through direct mail.

All of those remain options today, but they are joined by a plethora of digital alternatives for reaching potential customers or clients, who spend a lot of time hanging out in the digital world.

“Websites are optimized for sharing content with others, and people are getting on social media to be educated or entertained, so delivering on those ‘needs’ is super important for any business or professional who wants to remain relevant,” says Jonathan Musgrave, owner and chief digital marketer for Steep Digital Marketing (www.steepdigital.com).

Yet, Musgrave says many businesses and professionals don’t always take advantage of what digital marketing offers, instead falling back on what worked in the past, either out of habit or due to a lack of understanding of the power of digital.

And that’s no way to move forward, he says. But choosing between digital or traditional approaches to marketing isn’t an either/or proposition. Musgrave offers a few examples of how the two can be married to produce great results:

-A text instead of a call. Musgrave says one of his clients, a financial professional, would buy TV time each month for a show in which he would talk about money issues. At the end of each segment, in an effort to generate leads, his firm’s telephone number would be displayed so viewers could call if they wanted more information. “I suggested that instead of a number to call, they should show a number that people could text,” Musgrave says. That change might appear insignificant on its face, but it proved to be extraordinarily consequential. The financial professional went from receiving about three responses per show to about 300.

Billboards and digital calls to action. A message on a billboard provides the same opportunity to elicit a digital response from anyone who sees it. Once again, instead of urging people to call, urge them to text. You can also include your website address in your billboard ad so those intrigued by what you have to offer can learn more there, Musgrave says.

-Work digital connections into all marketing materials. Likely, you have business cards, brochures or any number of other marketing materials that people can hold in their hands. All of those should let people know how they can find you online, whether it’s on your website or on social media channels, Musgrave says. By the same token, if you have speaking engagements, you can put that information on a display poster or include it in a PowerPoint slide. “Since people always carry their phones, if they see how to find you on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or wherever, they may follow you right then and there,” he says. 

“The most dangerous thing I hear people say is that digital marketing is the future,” Musgrave says. “That’s not quite accurate because the future is already here. Advertisers globally spent more on digital advertising than any other medium in 2017, displacing TV at the top of the chart for the first time. If you keep kicking the digital can down the road, by the time you catch up to it again, your competitors will have already passed you.”  

About Jonathan Musgrave

Jonathan Musgrave is the owner and chief digital marketer for Steep Digital Marketing (www.steepdigital.com), which he founded in 2017. Musgrave got his start in the direct mail business, using his communication skills to craft powerful marketing messages that reached more than 1,000,000 households each month. He’s started his own wholesaling company that brought digital marketing tools to the financial advisor space for the first time in 2013 that were responsible for doubling sales for three consecutive years.


Does Your Tech Company Need a Brand? The answer is “Absolutely.”

We all know that many companies, especially tech companies and companies with technology-enabled value propositions, have a hard time getting their branding right. They have rebrand after rebrand, but their message never seems to hit home with customers. It seems helpless. After working with hundreds of companies in this exact situation, I’m confident to say that it isn’t helpless.

They’re just making one fatal mistake:

These companies are focusing on the output of branding before adequately understanding and bonding emotionally with their customers.

Many technology companies see branding as writing the perfect copy, choosing the perfect color scheme, and writing up a perfect competitive sales message. The often treat messaging as branding. They get lost in a sea of bits and bytes and focus on speeds, feeds, throughputs and proprietary technology, never getting to a message that bonds so strongly with customers that they’d feel they were cheating on the brand were they to choose a competitor.   

Messages and marketing might be the output of branding, but branding is one thing: understanding – and bonding in a deeply emotional way with – your customer. I spend a lot of my time working with technology companies who categorically reject the notion that tech companies need to create deep emotional bonds with their customers. They believe that their tech’s special bells and whistles should be enough to sustainably differentiate them and give them a competitive advantage for their entire lifecycle.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If your proprietary technology or whizz-bang features that give your tech more of what I call RASM (reliability, availability, scalability, manageability) are not directly imitable by a competitor, the high-level benefits those features provide are. Here’s what I mean. Your solution may have a feature that enables customers to do more processing faster, helping them focus on their core jobs. You might even create messages that are centered on the notion of “doing more with less.” Unfortunately, that’s a baseline requirement – and promise – of technology in general, right? If you market on the basis of something that’s a baseline expectation of an entire category of products (and in the case of technology, an entire industry) you’re doing it wrong. That would be like marketing ice cream on the basis of being made of milk and being cold and sweet.

If you are pointing your marketing towards a company or a nameless, faceless customer, you’re doing it wrong. Technology purchase influencers come in many shapes and sizes, not just demographically, but also attitudinally and psychographically. What I mean here is that if you’re a tech company with new, unproven but exciting technology behind it, your ideal customer might be someone who is not just willing to take a risk on new tech but wants to be seen as an innovator in her or his organization. When you know exactly at whom you’re pointing your tech brand, you can start to understand what’s important to them and target not only your brand, but your messages and marketing directly at that person’s values, beliefs and desired achievements.

Finally, take a look at your company’s website right now. Go ahead and do it. I’ll wait. Take note of the first words you see on your website’s main headline. If those words are either “we” or your company’s name, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re talking from the point of view of “we do this so you can …” or “we make blah, blah and blah…” you’re doing it wrong. The best technology brands in the world are those that focus on their customers’ life stories and what they, as individuals, are looking to achieve in life.

This is a challenge. There are thousands of ways you can understand your customers, and many companies are paralyzed by understanding where to start.

From my experience helping companies understand their customers, there are three core questions that really get to the root of how the brand and customer interact. If you can answer these three questions, you’ll be in a much better place to start your branding process.

1) What does your brand say about your customers?

The first question for brands to answer is what it says about a person that he or she uses this brand. What does it communicate both to the outside world and to the customer him or herself? This is important because, at its core, this is what a brand is. It’s a statement about the customer, and it’s crucial that, as a business, you know what that statement is. Answering this question requires you to really get inside your customers’ heads and understand what they want to achieve in their lives, how they measure their success in achieving those goals, what they care most deeply about, and, ultimately, how the brand must deliver.

2) What is the singular thing your brand delivers that customers can’t get from anyone else?

The second question to understand is what the singular thing is that a person using this brand gets from it that they can’t get from any other brand. In other words, what makes your brand singular and indispensable. What you’ll find, as you dig into this question, is that most of the answers aren’t tangible. It’s unlikely that your product has a feature that no competitors can provide. Instead, what commonly comes up are intangible benefits, like the ways the company makes them feel or the story it tells them about themselves.

3) How do you make your customer a hero in the story of his or her own life?

The third question requires an understanding of how your brand makes the customer a hero in his or her own life story. Everybody wants to be the hero in his or her own story. Everybody wants to be the protagonist. Some brands may achieve that in an obvious way (like a fashion brand making the customer stand out from the crowd), whereas others might be more subtle (like an IT brand making the purchasing manager look good in front of their colleagues). No matter what the case, if you can answer this question, you’ll have loyal customers for life.


At a very high level, everything we do in branding is about answering those three questions.

Before you do any copywriting, design, or other branding outputs, take some time to answer those three questions. If you have trouble getting to the bottom of them, don’t worry. Ask your customers for help, and keep digging until you really understand them. With this newfound understanding of who your customers are and how they want to interact with your brand, you’ll be on the path to defining a powerful brand strategy.

Deb Gabor is the author of Irrational Loyalty: Building a Brand That Thrives in Turbulent Times. She is the founder of Sol Marketing which has led brand strategy engagements for organizations ranging from international household names like Dell, Microsoft, and NBC Universal, to digital winners like Allrecipes, Cheezburger, HomeAway and RetailMeNot, and dozens of early-stage tech and digital media titans. For more information, please visit www.debgabor.com and connect with Deb on Twitter, @deb_sol.

2019 TMSA Logistics and Marketing Sales Conference

Think of the conference as the bridge between marketing, sales and logistics experts working across a variety of different channels. Included are 30+ sessions and plenty of opportunities for attendee mingling.

Held at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort near Jacksonville, Florida, this conference boasts near a century-long history of supporting and connecting sales, communication, and marketing for transportation and logistics industry professionals.

Companies looking to polish up on sales training, specifically for transportation companies, should look no further than the
new TMSA Transportation Sales Training Workshop on June 11th. This full-day workshop takes participants through a detailed and unique approach on how to implement a strategic, productive and results-oriented sales strategy.

Interested in presenting at this year’s conference? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise by submitting your presentation proposal and the chance to present.

To learn more about the Transportation and Marketing and Sales Conference and how to become a member, please visit: tmsatoday.org

4 Questions You Should Consider Before Giving Abroad

Whether you’ve traveled to distant parts of the world and were inspired by the inventiveness of the communities you visited, read about an issue in a news article, or maybe just feel a special kinship with a given place, the desire to help somehow can quickly move to the top of your priority list. Supporting the efforts of nonprofits working on issues you most care about is a great way to take action. But giving across the world can also be daunting. Luckily there are lots of resources to help make sure you’re achieving what you want with your generosity.

Regardless of whether you’re considering a one-time donation or sustained support to a charity across the world, there are a few questions you should consider before giving abroad:

1) Where would you like to donate?

There are plenty of issues around the world that could use, and are deserving of, your help. But which of those do you feel passionately about? Rainforest conservation in Brazil? Great! Schools for girls in Kenya? Fantastic! The first step is narrowing it down.

Do some research to find out which charities might align with your giving goals. A quick glance at most charities’ websites will tell you the impact the charity has had in the past and how it is working toward its mission today.

This research can sometimes be more challenging than a simple web search. Some foreign organizations have a great online presence with translations into English and clear information. However, this is not always the case. In these instances donors can rely on a few resources:

There are a number of 501(c)(3) organizations that facilitate international grantmaking and who provide extensive databases of organizations eligible to receive funding through them (see, for example, the CAF America Database). Some countries have national registries of charities such as the UK Charity Commission and the CRA List of Charities in Canada that can serve as good country-specific resources.

2) How do you make sure you’re not breaking any rules?

As you might imagine, giving to charity across borders¾like any financial transaction¾is subject to specific regulation and oversight from the U.S. and foreign governments, which makes cross-border giving more complex than simply writing a check and dropping it in the mail. There is a complicated matrix of regulations that donors are required to follow. These regulations are designed to defend people and organizations who donate against money laundering, terrorism and organized crime.

While you might think most of these regulations exist on the receiving end of charitable contributions, these responsibilities impact the donor—whether an individual, a corporation or an organization. The bottom line is that if you are initiating the financial transaction, you are responsible for making sure that funds are used appropriately.  This seems intimidating, but working with an intermediary grantmaker or another U.S. public charity can take the guesswork out of following the rules. An experienced intermediary organization can conduct the necessary due diligence and protect the donors reputations, ensure regulatory compliance and eliminate possible risks.

3) Are there tax benefits to giving abroad?

When you’re passionately looking for a solution to support the charity that impressed you with their work on ocean conservancy, getting a tax break is probably the last thing on your mind. But it is not a bad thing to consider, because a tax deduction ultimately means that more funds are available to donate and more good can be done.

Not all charitable donations are tax-deductible, and in fact donations made directly to charitable organizations outside of the U.S. do not qualify. That said, there are several U.S. charities that can allow you to receive a tax deduction while supporting charitable work overseas. For example, you can opt to support the international projects of U.S. charities that run programs abroad. If you would prefer that your donation be directed to the foreign charity, you can opt to make your gift through a U.S. intermediary organization. Intermediary organizations are U.S. public charities that often assume the inherent risks in making donations to organizations outside of the U.S. and allow the donor to receive a tax receipt at the time of their donation. Your gift is to the intermediary; however, you will be able to recommend a specific foreign charity to be supported with your donation.

Donors should check how the specific intermediary organization they choose to work with operates, as there will be differences among them regarding the due diligence they perform, the fees they charge, etc.

4) What impact would you like to make with this donation?

Whether you’d like to effect change with a long-term impact like paying for a child’s education or in a more immediate way like supporting a community after a disaster, it is important to think about your expectations at the outset. Clarity about what you’d like to accomplish with your donation helps set expectations between you and the charity.

Giving outside of the U.S. is complicated, but luckily there are a number of organizations that specialize in cross-border giving, making it accessible for Americans to support charitable causes in nearly any country. With the assurances of a comprehensive due diligence and foresight, giving internationally can be a fulfilling experience. By considering the needs on the ground and the goals of your own good intentions, you can take full advantage of the immense capacity to do good provided by charities around the world.

TED HART, ACFRE, CAP® is the President and CEO of CAF America and brings over thirty years of experience in advising global philanthropy. He is the editor of Cross-Border Giving: A Legal and Practical Guide, Workbook Edition (Charity Channel Press, 2019). For more information, please visit, www.cafamerica.org and connect on Twitter, @cafamerica.

Digital Dealer Conference: Automotive Education Highlights

Each year, the automotive business sector provides dozens of learning and networking opportunities through industry-related conferences and expos. The Digital Dealer Conference & Expo is no exception when it comes to enabling attendees with the latest in resources, industry trends, and business solutions. Additionally, the conference provides executives from the country’s top 100 dealerships for counsel and education.

This year’s expo will be held in Orlando, Florida from April 9-11 and will focus on industry best practices, new technologies, building custom business solutions. Additionally, the event grants the opportunity for expert advice from keynote speakers and business development sessions.

Automaxx of the Carolinas owner and founder Johnny Dangerfield can attest to the conference’s success and support for the industry and executives as a whole, by adding that the company, “Attends Digital Dealer Conference & Expo twice a year for insight into the most innovative industry technologies and business techniques. Digital Dealer Conference & Expo has been incredibly beneficial for us at Automaxx, especially in recent years.”

“Attendees may choose from well over a hundred educational sessions fronted by top executives, consultants, and trainers, demoing the latest products and services from countless technology-focused automotive product and service providers.

“Additional carefully tailored support surrounding dealer operations and management, sales strategy and variable operations, and marketing and advertising are also on offer, all of which have proved to be incredibly useful for us at Automaxx of the Carolinas based on attending past events. As such, we’re looking forward to Digital Dealer Conference & Expo 26 which is due to be held in Florida this April,” Dangerfield said.

Automaxx of the Carolinas is a Summerville-based, independent automotive dealer and leads the South Carolina automotive region by annual sales volumes.

Source: EIN Presswire