Understanding Consumer Behaviour

As marketers, part of our job is staying informed of the latest trends in consumer behaviour and following how those trends change over time. While the term “consumer behaviour” is often considered just another buzz word, the concept actually goes much deeper than that – it’s a science that has been studied extensively in the marketing world for decades. So let’s look a little closer and see how it applies to our current situation – both on a worldwide scale, and smaller ones.

What Is Consumer Behaviour?

Consumer behaviour is relatively easy to define, but it encompasses a lot of different factors and ideas. It is the study of consumers (i.e. buyers and customers), and the processes – both conscious and unconscious – that they use to choose, consume, and dispose of products and services. These processes can be emotional, mental, behavioural, or environmental.

consumer behaviour effects

Some influencers of consumer behaviour (from Frank Belzer)

Marketers use common consumer behaviours to determine what influences their customer base, to predict purchase decisions, and to create new products and innovations that fill in perceived market gaps. Using established data to their advantage, marketers can more effectively reach, engage with, and convert their target audiences.

Some of the most important factors in determining consumer behaviour include:

Individual Influences

These include personal interests and opinions, often determined by age, gender, culture, location, and so on, as well as social factors, like family, friends, education, income, and social networks. Psychological factors also play a role in how individuals perceive and respond to marketing messages.

Types of Purchasing Behaviour

These can be broken down into four categories:

    • Complex Buying: When consumers buy expensive, infrequently-purchased products/services, they will be highly involved and will do thorough personal research on the investment (i.e. a house or a car)
    • Dissonance Reduction: This refers to a purchase with high involvement in the process, but consumers have trouble differentiating brands, and worry about “buyer’s remorse”
    • Habitual: There is little involvement in the product or brand category, such as grocery shopping for a few specific items
    • Variety Seeking: Buying something different just for the “fun” of it, like trying a new food or clothing type
Common Factors

Beyond individual influences, external and internal factors also play a part in changing consumer behaviour. These include:

  • Marketing Campaigns: Done properly and regularly, these can persuade consumers to switch brands, remind them about products/services, and drive impulse purchases – even for more expensive options.
  • Economic Conditions: Strong economic situations make for more confident consumers, driving large purchases. A negative economy, such as the one threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, can do the opposite.
  • Personal Preference: Dislikes, moral oppositions, priorities, and values all rank among the top of the main behaviour drivers.
  • Group Influence: We’ve all heard about peer pressure, and it has a well-earned reputation for guiding behaviour. Recommendations or warnings from a trusted friend can have a big impact on what we buy.
  • Purchasing Power: Your marketing and messaging could be perfect, but if the audience simply doesn’t have the budget for your product or service, they won’t be able to purchase it. This ties in to other personal, cultural, and socioeconomic factors, to varying degrees.

 

All of these factors and considerations taken together and compared over time will give you insights into changing consumer behaviour and how it affects you and your sales process. But it’s a lot of information – how can you analyze these ideas and turn them into better messaging and marketing campaigns?

 

Analyzing Consumer Behaviour

Taking a good look at consumer behaviour through data is easier than ever before, thanks to the rise of online shopping, website cookies, and detailed records. Some of the most important behaviours to consider are consumer emotions and feelings toward your brand or product (and its alternatives), the major influences on their choices, their shopping behaviour and trends, and what other external factors might be coming in to play that you hadn’t considered.

One example of how these factors intertwine is the big shift that happened due to COVID-19. As lockdowns went into place around the world, a huge portion of consumers moved their shopping online, for everything from groceries and basic supplies to their usual comfort goods and luxuries. This caused a surge in digital advertising in some industries, and a drop in spending across others. The final result? Less competition for ad space, increased engagement with more eyes on your messaging, and a bit better bang for your marketing dollars. But the flip side is that many people went into strict money-saving mode, and weren’t spending on unnecessary items, which was a behaviour trend that affected thousands of businesses.

consumer behaviour - covid changes

How consumer mindsets have changed during COVID-19 (from Forbes)

 

Using Behaviour to Your Benefit

So you know you’ve got to get some info on your consumers’ behaviour – but how do you get that data? Whether you’re running a two-person coffee shop on a downtown corner, or a giant multinational fashion chain, here are some ways you can get a finger on the pulse of your potential buyers, and find out what motivates them.

Gathering Customer Reviews: If someone had a great experience (or a terrible one), this is one of the best ways to find out. You can get insights into specific deciding factors for your products, and identify common themes or issues in your marketing and business.

 

Using Q&A Sites and Opportunities: Like a more robust review, interactive Q&A sites and forums (e.g. Reddit) can give you a platform to ask and be asked about your products/services. You can get highly targeted feedback, which is useful for improving your sales in the future.

 

Customer Surveys: Much like the Q&A idea, surveys are more regular, and can be sent directly after purchase or at specific intervals afterward to gain information on the user experience. This can help you find trends in what motivates your buyers, or what your customers think of your offerings, and lets you ask specific questions, depending on your needs.

 

Keyword Research: Knowing what potential consumers are searching for and interested in – down to specific terms and phrases – can be a huge help in getting your brand in front of them on the screen. Investing in the right SEO content takes time, but when done right, it does pay off.

 

Google Analytics: Are your customers shopping from their phone or their desktop? Did a big Instagram account tag you in a post and drive a few thousand people to your profile and website? Just how effective was that summer sale you had? Google Analytics can tell you all of that, and a whole lot more. The information provided by Google’s backend platform is extremely powerful in trained hands, and can help you identify consumer trends in geography, demographics, page views, promotions, etc. When you know what works, you can drop what doesn’t.

 

consumer behaviour - google data

Some metrics you can measure with Google Analytics (from Hubspot)

 

Competitor Analysis: If you’ve noticed a slump, take a look at what your competitors might be doing, and how you can switch up your approach. It might be as simple as one key element or bit of language you’re using (or not using).

 

Comments and Engagement Online: Do you maintain a blog or social accounts? (If not, you should!) Pop in to the comments and see what people are saying. Don’t be afraid of honest feedback – you might get questions or concerns, but you could also find compliments or recommendations for something new.

 

The RFM Method: Standing for “recency, frequency, monetary value”, this is a measure of how recently someone ordered from you, how many times they purchased from you in a given time frame, and how much they have spent since their first order. This is an excellent way to identify high-value, lifelong customers, and express your appreciation for their support.

 

consumer behaviour - rfm method

The RFM method for visualizing high-value customers (from Moengage)

 

Social Media: Do you have an ambassador who sings your praises all over their TikTok videos, or a shadow who pounces with negative comments as soon as you post anything, anywhere? We live in an age of immense data, and being able to use that information to create segments of your audience – “People Who Bought Something During This Sale”, “People Who Liked Ad #1”, etc. – lets you market more effectively to each, create better copy & imagery, and curate better content.

 

The needs, wants, and experiences of your customers are always the benchmark of ultimate success. By ensuring that your brand’s messaging and offerings mesh well with their behaviour patterns, you can create better campaigns that emotionally connect in the right way – leading to more success for you, and more satisfaction for them.

Having a professional team with the necessary tools and experience on your side is an excellent way to forge and solidify those connections. So when you’re ready to leverage the power of consumer behaviour, let us know!

Making an Effective Ad Strategy: Information vs. Irritation

Over the last few months, the huge influx of emails sent out by companies regarding their pandemic policies has become a running joke. Inboxes are crammed full of seemingly unnecessary messages – and most of the time, those emails are immediately deleted, unopened.

This trend highlights the divide between information marketing vs. irritation marketing. Irritation is when your ad – whether an email, banner ad, or any other form – has placement, frequency, or content that ends up annoying your target audience. Information, on the other hand, is being creative and savvy enough with your ads to clearly show how you (or your products) can solve your audience’s problem.

Marketing in the Age of Information

So how can you be sure that you’re seen as an informative, helpful presence, and not an annoying one? Here are some things to consider when planning an ad strategy:

 

  • What are your goals? The requirements of marketing to sell products, generate web traffic, or promote an Instagram contest are all different. Know what you hope to achieve before you start, and track data before and after so you can follow how well you’re doing. As a general rule, value offers (like discounts) will drive good results.

 

  • Focus your message: Templated, copy-and-paste emails are a death sentence for your open rate. Build your brand’s personality, keep it authentic, and focus on reaching the people and groups that it will resonate with. As Diego Santos, the Marketing Manager of Hubspot EMEA, says, “Small and authentic will win over big and generic every time.”

 

  • Find the right frequency: Most email users unsubscribe from lists because they are simply sent too many, and we’ve all seen the same Facebook ad repeated in our timeline, over and over again. If your “Unread” rate is high on an email campaign, and your digital ads aren’t converting, try reducing your frequency.

 

  • Retargeting: If your audience needs a few touchpoints to purchase or convert, it’s a common marketing mistake to let them pass you by – especially right now, with everyone having increased screen time. A great email campaign strategy retargets people who may not be all the way through your sales funnel, and offers unique incentives for them to keep going.

Building Effective Email Marketing Strategies

Email marketing is the most reliable method of reaching your audience – after all, if someone trusted you with their contact information, they must have some interest in what you offer. Here are some key steps for creating the perfect email digital marketing campaign, and avoiding irritation territory.

  • Engage new users within 24 hours, and have a way to get feedback
  • Hyperlink images and include at least one relevant CTA
  • Use social sharing buttons
  • Monitor performance, and use the data to clean up inactive contacts
  • Proofread everything a few times
  • Triggers are extremely effective for retargeting – these send automatic emails when certain events (purchases, site visits, abandoned carts, etc.) are performed. Regularly review automatic emails to avoid mistakes

Giving Information, Not Irritation

A lot of variation exists within marketing, but there are some definite trends that you can count on to help make your strategies the best they can be. For example, with the huge rise in online advertising – and the often-intrusive nature of many of them – many people consider mobile ads to be extremely irritating. This goes up even more if it has a “clickbait” title, or it looks unprofessional or spammy. Put the effort in to show your brand as the leader it is, and it’ll go a long way.

 

Being genuine and personal in your marketing is so crucial because there is no one-size-fits-all perfect solution. By connecting with the people who react positively to what you offer, you build a base of lifelong advocates for your brand. If you haven’t already, the best time to do that is now – and if you need advice, William Joseph is here to help!

Marketing Advice during the Pandemic

William Joseph Communications was founded in 2002, so we remember a decade ago when we saw the effects of a big downturn as it happened all around us. As a marketing agency, we are constantly watching trends change, and the lessons we picked up through some of the economy’s toughest times were valuable ones. That’s why we’re confident in saying that we can help lead businesses through times like this.

 

The first step is one of the most important: it’s all about communication. Prioritize this so that you can stay in touch with your employees, clients, customers, or anyone else that needs to be contacted. The flurry of emails sent out in the last few weeks about COVID-19 prevention are a great example of companies taking initiative on this. Even if the message is simple – like a closure announcement, or an update on your business’s plans for the next month – it goes a long way toward easing people’s minds.

This is true for your staff, too. Many workers are uncertain and feeling unsure about their futures, so it’s also important to communicate with them regularly, and stay connected. The shift to a remote workplace was very sudden and probably difficult for a lot of people – so as much as you can, keep your office culture and engagement going. This will boost morale and maintain those personal relationships that are an unseen benefit of working with others.

Even here at WJ, we’ve taken that to heart. We have weekly video-chat lunches to catch up, and email each other updates on our latest home-repair DIY success. Some of our new pet coworkers have gained honourary job titles and staff photos, and a few of our team play online games or use Netflix Party to wind down after a stressful day. If you’re able to, show your staff some much-needed appreciation, too – like the grocery stores that are now giving their front-line workers raises. Whatever works best for your group, embrace it!

Another aspect of that shift means that your traditional methods of marketing will probably have to change, too. Current events will make some of your best-laid plans irrelevant – but that’s okay, and expected. Pivot your focus to something else that works for you in this situation. Think of the breweries like Annex Ales that are making hand sanitizer, and getting plenty of free word-of-mouth in the process (an unintended side effect, but it works). Or, less drastically, you can redirect some of your marketing budget toward reduced costs of online ad placements, because of reduced competition for those spaces.

This kind of flexibility is set to become the “new normal” for a lot of places. So make sure that, whatever you decide, you communicate to your network about what your new processes are. If you have a dedicated customer base, they’ll definitely want to hear when or how they can support your business again. Consider running a campaign that just gets the word out, and as things return to normal over the next few weeks and months, that prominence will ensure you’re at the front of people’s minds.

One thing to remember, though, is to ensure your messaging is clear, authentic, and empathetic. You will be reaching a lot of people across a wide area, and being respectful of the difficulty a lot of them are currently facing is key to a good response. Take the time to craft a strong, personalized brand message, as opposed to copying and pasting the relevant parts of something else. It takes a bit longer, but that will place you as a genuinely customer-focused business that puts people over profits.

“It’s not the winning that teaches you how to be resilient. It’s the setback. It’s the loss.” Beth Brooke

And lastly – don’t be afraid to innovate, and take the chance on something new! In 2009, during the last big economic slowdown, Amazon released a new device called a Kindle that became the season’s huge success. And in the heart of the Great Depression, a lagging cereal company named Kellogg’s increased its marketing and product development, against all popular advise. This lead to the creation of mascots that are still around and beloved today, and an untouchable majority of the business in its market.

The lesson? Hard times don’t always have to be. Innovative, driven, perceptive thinkers ready to take a new approach can create opportunities where others see none. That’s why we always advise our clients to stay the course when it comes to marketing in a bumpy patch – because this is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about having a plan for the long, long run, not just the next few weeks.

When you’re ready to set your plan in motion, we’ll be here to help. We’re experts at helping you find your business’s why, which lets you solidify what you do and who you do it for. And once you know that, the only limits are those you put on yourself.

 

Quantity vs. Quality: Ways to Measure ROI in Your Marketing

Being a marketing agency, we often hear the many doubts entrepreneurs and business owners have about spending money on marketing, and we get it. We understand you’ve put a lot into your business – money, time and emotion – and now that you’re gaining momentum (or perhaps need a little boost), it’s hard to justify investing in something that most likely won’t show immediate return. We’re here to tell you that, while it may not be immediate, there are tangible ways you can see your investment in marketing working for you.

Measuring return on investment (ROI) is critical in any area of business, but in marketing it gets special emphasis. Simply put, ROI measures gain or loss generated from an investment, be that a new product, service or, more relevant to our topic, a marketing campaign. So, you’ve decided to give marketing a go, but how do you know it’s working? Are you targeting the right demographics? Are you using the right social media channels for your industry? These are all questions an in-depth analysis of your marketing will answer.

Quantity: It’s in the Numbers

Quantitative measures are all about numbers – it’s data than can be counted or tallied. How many attendees came to the event? How many units were sold? How many leads were captured? How many likes on the last post? How many times was the blog shared? Measures like these are relatively easy to take into account because they’re backed by cold, hard facts. Some of these metrics include website traffic, number of leads, cost per lead, search visibility and revenue generated.

Together, these metrics help illustrate how your marketing is helping your company grow. Some, like website traffic, display how your content resonates with your audience. You can use this information to set percent-increase goals to ensure your improvement. Individually, you can compare these metrics to show which specific methods need refining or changing to optimize your strategy. This is often the preferred analysis of many decision makers who don’t necessarily have a deep understanding of marketing and its intricacies. It’s understandable why: quantitative measures provide visible, tangible results. However, when dealing with people and working to develop connections with them through your business, it’s often the qualitative data that shows growth.

Quality: All About Substance

This is where it starts to get tricky. A lot of qualitative data ends up looking something like “it seems to be better now” or, “the product is generally favourable.” These indirect benefits can be hard to pin down. Instead of data that you could easily punch into a calculator, qualitative data is information that provides feedback, and requires in-depth analysis.

Qualitative measures describe the benefits of marketing initiatives that have an impact on the organization and should be weighed accordingly, even if they are difficult to put a direct value on. However, there are lots of ways you can up your qualitative measures game. Creating thought leadership content highlights your expertise and positions you as an industry resource, and attracts business opportunities like press mentions, speaking engagements, or even new clients and partnerships.

Publishing high quality content empowers readers with knowledge, thus breaking down barriers and building lasting trust with your audience. Clients will be more interested in an email that shares a relevant article you wrote than a mundane sales pitch. This will become a conversation that is meaningful to the both of you, creating a lasting effect and mutually-beneficial relationship.

Measuring the immeasurable takes some time and allows us to embrace our creativity. The next big thing isn’t something fully predictable, and it might come from a small insight or idea that snowballs into its full potential. Don’t be afraid to try something because you’re not entirely sure how it’s going to pan out. This goes hand in hand with the idea that results take time.

But how are you supposed to know what to even measure when it comes to qualitative data? What information is valuable to your business and its growth? This all depends on the specific goals and objectives that you’ve set for your business, but even then, how do you merge quantitative and qualitative data into something tangible? Luckily, turning data into tangible information on your ROI is what we do. If we need a hand with your marketing analytics, give us a call.

The Impact of a Super Bowl Ad

For 53 years, audiences everywhere have been gluing their eyes to a TV to celebrate America’s unofficial holiday: The Super Bowl. This past Sunday, many of us sat down with a beer in hand and plate of nachos (or party food of choice) in the other to watch the year’s biggest show. Unlike any other televised event, taking breaks during the Super Bowl is a challenge as every part of the 4-hour occasion is carefully calculated to keep viewers interested; the final game of the year, the star-packed halftime show and even the commercials themselves.

Whether it be the Budweiser Frogs or the Britney Spears Pepsi Generation, chances are we all have a favourite Super Bowl commercial. And in the spirit of competition (it is a sporting event, after all), the world’s biggest brands utilize humour, human connection and/or star power to create something memorable that stands out from the crowd.

A 30-second time slot during the event – or should we call it the Partiots’ Show (sorry, not sorry) – currently goes for a cool $5 million, and that doesn’t include production costs. So, the question on everyone’s mind, is it even worth the price? In short, yes. With well over 100 million viewers tuning in, more people watch the Super Bowl than the year’s biggest blockbuster film (which can credit much of its sales to its trailer airing during the game). Advertising during the Super Bowl is a chance to have your product or service noticed by the world at one time, and even more so if its memorable.

Being on the world’s stage gives you a unique opportunity to tell the viewers, all hundreds of millions of them, something they don’t know, and the ones that have the most return on investment are those that promote a new product, such as movie trailers. While Coca-Cola or Pepsi sales might not spike immediately after the event, opting out of the event while competitors maintain their spot could prove catastrophic for the top dogs.

Nevertheless, the incredible opportunity to put your brand in front of so many people is simply too great. Brands pull out all the stops for the chance to shine, resulting in some legendary moments. Here are just a few of our favourite commercials from over the years:

Coca-Cola: “Mean” Joe Greene (1980)

One of the most memorable ads in Super Bowl history is also one of the simplest. Airing during the event in 1980, the minute-long add depicts Pittsburgh Steelers star Joe Greene as he leaves the field with an injury, only to be stopped by a young boy who wants to tell him what a fan he is. In an attempt to cheer him up, the boy offers Joe his Coke, and as he turns away, Joe utters the famous line, “Hey kid, catch!” and throws him his Jersey.

Emotional connection may be all too common in modern commercials, but the concept was fairly new in the early 80s. People were able to relate to the ad, seeing themselves in the shoes of the young boy. IN fact, the commercial was so popular, the concept was turned into a movie titled The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid.

 

Old Spice: The Man You Could Smell Like (2010)

“I’m on a horse.” Don’t even pretend you don’t remember that line. This more recent ad is still quoted to this day and is remembered for its sheer ridiculousness. However, the reason it’s still so popular is how closely it resembles today’s social media “meme culture.” The ad instantly becomes relatable to younger audiences, which happens to be exactly who Old Spice is targeting. The use of humour and obscurity make this one that won’t be forgotten any time soon.

Apple: 1984 (1984)

This 30-second spot is often hailed as the best Super Bowl ad of all time. Deciding to take a more controversial route, Apple chose to reveal its new Macintosh computer (remember, the best ones are those that reveal something new), by playing on George Orwell’s famed novel 1984, suggesting the product breaks the mold of convention and rises above the rest. The most impressive element? Apple didn’t even show the product, they simply chose to announce it’s reveal date. This element of curiosity left viewers wanting more. Apple shattered the glass ceiling on conventional commercials, paving the way for a new generation of ads to push the envelope.

The result? Well, we all know what a successful company Apple is today, don’t we? They’ve never been afraid to stand out, push past convention, allowing them to become the most innovative brand in history.

Chances are you’re not ready to shell out the $5 million for a Super Bowl ad spot, but there is something you can take away from these ads and their effectiveness. If you’re creating an ad for your product, there are three main elements you can include to make it more memorable:

  • Create an emotional connection with your audiences. Let them connect with your brand on a deeper, more personal level.
  • Humour and obscurity will make you memorable. Say it with us, “I’m on a horse.”
  • A little controversy pushes the envelope but be respectful. You don’t want to be remembered for the wrong thing.

Developing a memorable ad is an exciting challenge, but a challenge, nonetheless. It takes a lot of planning and creativity, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. With the right team, developing an ad can be efficient and effective. Whether its print or video, the right strategy and design can make all the difference, and that’s what we’re here for. Need help creating something great? Give us a call.

How to Market the Sciences

It doesn’t matter how big or small, general or niche they may be, all companies in all industries need marketing. It’s not enough to sell a service or product, a business needs to make itself known and stand out from the crowd in order to continue growing. As our CEO Ryan likes to say, when you start a business you begin by selling to friends (you know, those people who you already know like and trust you), until you run out of friends to sell to – that’s where marketing comes in. By actively making your business known to the audience you want to reach, you’re creating an opportunity for them to become new customers.

It may seem difficult, or sometimes impossible, to create effective marketing campaigns for businesses in non-consumer-based industries. We’ve already discussed building strategies for B2B businesses and the benefits of niche marketing, but what if you’re in a science or biotech industry? Science-based companies often struggle to reach audiences effectively because the content and general nature of the subject matter is very specific and technical. We don’t want to use the word “boring,” but marketing is about creating a connection between a brand and its audience and using strictly science jargon can make it hard to do so.

So how do you captivate an audience if the only people who truly understand what you do are your employees (and even they sometimes may wonder)? In short, it’s about sticking to the basics.

 

1. Be clear about your ‘why’

When developing written and visual brands for clients, we always make sure we (and they) are clear on why they do what they do. It seems like a very simple question, but you’d be surprised how difficult it may be to answer. Before developing goals for the growth of your company and looking to marketing to help reach them, it’s vital to go back to the beginning and remember why it is you began your business. Not only will this identify the overall desired trajectory for your business, but it will help form the foundation for your story.

Human beings love stories, it’s in our very nature. It’s how we make sense of the world and how we connect with others. Having a strong brand and marketing strategy always begins with a story. This is especially true for science and biotech companies, whose content can often feel a little ‘dry.’ While the product or service you offer may be extremely specific, your reason for starting your business, finding a solution to a specific problem, is a story everyone can connect to.

 

2. Know your audience

This isn’t the first time we’ve brought up this point, but with good reason: it’s just that important. From a marketing perspective, knowing who you are communicating with and why will dictate everything you do. Are you trying to reach scientists who are experts in your field, or provide information for patients with a specific condition that would benefit from your services? These are two very different groups with whom you would share a different message, tone and vocabulary with. Your marketing strategy would ideally include insights into your target audience, allowing you to develop tailored key messaging for each. Your way of reaching them will also differ, as one audience may be more receptive to white papers and the other to social media and traditional news.

 

3. Tailor your language

As mentioned, once you know your audience, you’ll need to adjust your messaging to ensure they receive the information they need in a way that will resonate with them. While it may seem difficult to do so, one of the most important things to remember when marketing the sciences is to minimize the use of jargon. An audience not well versed in your organization’s vocabulary will glaze over if the messaging they’re receiving is too technical and the aim of developing a connection will be lost. That being said, there is a fine line between not using technical jargon and “dumbing it down.” Don’t underestimate your audience – utilize laymen’s terms where you can, but don’t oversimplify the information you want them to obtain.

 

Once you break it down into understandable terms, weaving in the “story” element will not only ensure the information is received, it will make it memorable. Even the most technical, niche, B2B business can have highly effective marketing if there is an emotional appeal people can grasp onto, whether it be the CEO of a target partner or a client looking for additional equipment or resources.

The key to effectively marketing the sciences is developing robust insights into the business and industry, and in turn, creating a brand that resonates with target audiences. Understanding who you are will help you determine what you want to achieve and how marketing can take you there. This is a crucial, and often difficult step to achieve. Luckily, William Joseph works within a variety of industries – including various in the sciences and biotech scope – and can help you develop a marketing strategy that’s right for your business. Need help? Give us a call.

 

The Benefits of Niche Marketing

When you think of successful marketing campaigns, chances are you’re thinking of major brands that can appeal to nearly everyone. We’ve all seen a Coke-A-Cola ad that pulls at our heartstrings or a Dove video that forces us to rethink beauty standards. What these powerful campaigns have in common is the ability to take a product (or service) that most of us use on a regular basis and force us to see it in a new light. They make us think outside the box, and in turn we keep them top of mind.

But what if your company provides a product or service that isn’t so commonly used? You may be a B2B business that sells equipment to oil and gas companies or develops tires for road bikes. Naturally, the smaller your target audience is, the less interest the general public will have in your brand. However, this does not mean you can’t have an effective marketing campaign or strategy that would resonate with audiences – even if they’re outside of your target. You may be thinking “what’s the point of developing a marketing strategy at all if I only sell to a specific group of people?” Well, a tailored, niche marketing strategy might be just the thing you need to be able to reach your consumer (public or not), and here’s why:

Target your customer base more accurately

Long gone are the days of “spraying and praying” marketing. Fifty years ago, nearly everyone watched the same television programs, listened to the same radio stations and read the same newspapers, so the chances of advertising with one of these mediums meant you had a pretty good chance of reaching your target. But, as technology evolved, developments made it easier for people to chose what media to consume and marketing became a lot more focused and complex (thanks a lot, internet). Luckily, so have our companies.

By doing comprehensive research into who your audiences are (demographics, interests, social media habits, etc.) you’ll be able to identify how they spend their time and consume their information, thus making it simpler for you to reach them.

Now that you know how to reach your niche audience, communicating with them effectively will allow you to develop stronger relationships. By developing a strong marketing campaign that allows you to interact with your current and potential customers on a more personal level, you will in turn be creating brand loyalty. Communicating to a smaller number of people allows them to get to know you and your team closely, making them feel like they’re a part of something bigger.

Increase Word-of-Mouth Referrals

No matter what your business is, we’re going to guess your goal is to grow it. It’s no secret that word-of-mouth is one of the most effective forms of communication – in fact, 92% of people would take a recommendation from family and friends over traditional advertising. Why? Because you’re always going to trust someone you know more than a brand or business you don’t, bringing us right back to having closer connections with your niche market. So, once your audience develops that trust with your brand, they’re going to sing your praises to their contacts. This is especially true in niche marketing, where your audience is smaller and more targeted, meaning they’re likely to have connections with each other.

Get Ahead of your Competition

If you’re in a B2B industry where marketing isn’t overly prevalent, a marketing will help get you ahead of the game. By communicating with those that follow your brand and sharing your company culture, as well as industry thoughts and insights, you’re staying top of mind and positioning yourself as an organization passionate about what it does. It doesn’t matter whether your own a B2B or B2C business, people want to be associated with brands that care about their work.

Just because none of your competitors are using marketing strategies that put them top of mind and ahead of the curve doesn’t mean you need to follow suit – stand out and become a leader!

Create an Emotional Connection

Yup, we’re going to end off on a heavy note. It doesn’t matter if you’re products or services aren’t “exciting,” we guarantee your business effects your audiences on a deeper level than you think. The business development manager whose attention you’re trying to get? Chances are he or she has a family they are providing for. The work you do directly affects the lives of everyone involved – whether that be your customer or your employee. So, it’s important to communicate your organizations mission and values in an effective way to different audiences, no matter how small that group may be.

When it comes to interesting, heartfelt marketing campaigns, Enbridge – an energy transportation company – most likely wouldn’t be your first thought. However, one look at their website and you know where their values stand – providing ethical and safe energy resources for the community they serve. Sure, energy may not be exciting, but knowing that your energy provider has your family’s best interests at heart, that’s something most people can get behind.

Marketing to a smaller number of people, about a topic (you may) not think is overly “marketable” might not seem like a smart investment – but we’re here to tell you it’s just the opposite. In fact, it may be one of the smartest things you can do to get noticed in the right circles and take your business to the next level. Not sure where to start? Let us know, we’re here to help.

How do you Market to Generation Z?

As the age of information and technology continues to grow in ways we’ve never even dreamed of, so has the way people interact with each other. For example, a popular scene in 80s and 90s movies would be teenagers (members of Generation X) talking on the phone for hours, racking up their parents’ phone bills. This would be unheard of in 2018 – not only because people rarely use landlines, but because talking on the phone has become virtually non-existent since texting was introduced.

Another thing that has changed as younger generations adapt to technology is our attention spans. According to Microsoft, the current human attention span is only 8 seconds long. Many are quick to blame Generation Y – more commonly known as Millennials – for their unwavering commitment to harder, better, faster, stronger technology (yes, we just quoted Kanye West, as all Millennials do). This generation often gets labelled as being distracted, unable to commit to long-term projects and self-absorbed and entitled – that’s quite a reputation. While a lot of these assumptions have been proven incorrect over the years, the fact that our attention spans are dwindling as our reliance on technology increases cannot be denied, and it’s safe to assume these factors will be amplified within Generation Z.

Born after 1995, Generation Z (let’s call them Zs) is the largest growing generation, surpassing baby boomers and millennials. As they grow into early adulthood, Zs are quickly becoming the largest group of consumers, so we need to learn how to market effectively to this tech-savvy generation that has no time for poor efforts.

Content is King

As information becomes more and more readily available whenever needed, humans are becoming increasingly hungrier for quality, authentic content. It’s becoming easier to decipher whether a company is trustworthy or not, not only based on the information and products they put out, but by the society that keeps a watchful eye on them. As consumers become more informed, companies are being scrutinized for their content. As tech savvy as Zs are, you better believe they will do their research to make sure what you put out there is honest and valuable – they won’t waste their time with anything less.

This applies not only to your words, but your visuals as well. 77.6 million people are active on Instagram and consumers are more image-conscious than ever before. Spend time on the design of your brand and ensure what you put out into the world will be well received.

Utilize Grassroots Content

The fact that there is ample information available is both a blessing and a curse. Consumers may be more informed than ever, but the amount of choice in product and information can be overwhelming, which is why we trust our peers when they make recommendations. Adopting a product or service becomes infinitely easier if our friends or a figure we admire uses it, so rather than spend thousands of dollars on advertising, get down to the basics and have the product speak for itself. Utilize social influencers and micro-influencers by offering them your product or brand in return for an honest, thorough review. Zs are able to identify honest content, so having honest reviews will surely prove worthy.

Get to the Point

As we’ve mentioned more than once, our attention spans are growing shorter. If millennials have an average attention span of eight seconds, Zs will be able to decided whether content is worthy of their time in even less so. Grab attention not with bells and whistles, but with information that is captivating and to-the-point. Share your message upfront – if they are interested in learning more, they will.

There is no exact science on how to market to Generation Z, as they are still growing into their consumer potential. What we can gather from our knowledge of this generation is that they are incredibly informed and tech savvy, so get onto their level and deliver quality content that will add value to their lives. Need help knowing which audiences to target and how, get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help.

How Will Artificial Intelligence Impact Marketing?

While we may not be driving through space or teleporting to different parts of the world within seconds (yet), you simply cannot deny that the future is now. Cars are driving themselves, we communicate with our homes verbally and nearly everyone on the planet has a personalized, hand-sized computer with them at all times that is immeasurably more powerful than those which filled entire rooms and took dozens of people to operate in the 1970s.

Anyone can see that we’ve made incredible technologic advancements in the last 100 years – heck, in the last 10 alone! Thanks to the internet and its accessibility (read: no more dial up), we now live in the age of information. Anything we’ve ever wanted to know is available to us with a few taps of a screen. Because of this, consumers are more engaged and informed than ever before, thus creating the need for more integrated and targeted marketing. Gone are the days of creating a visually appealing ad with a catchy phrase and watching sales numbers skyrocket. Sure, advertisement is still incredibly important, but brands need to be smart about communicating what makes their product different from all the rest.

One reason for technology’s ability to advance at such a rapid rate is the growing development in artificial intelligence, more commonly referred to as AI. Through machine learning, a proponent of AI, computers and machine are now able to develop and reprogram systems based on previous knowledge without human intervention. Simply put, machines are now able to learn on their own through a series of algorithms developed through data collected. So, what does this mean for marketing?

Marketing in the New Age

Up until now, it’s been the job of marketing professionals to find a way to communicate the right message to the right audience using the right channels. Being able to reach the people who would be most interested in using a particular brand or product is and on-going challenge for marketers. Luckily, AI and machine learning has allowed us to better identify key audiences and channels by which to communicate with them. Ever notice that the top you were considering buying from that online clothing store is now popping up in ads on nearly every website you visit? Yes, your ‘machine’ was able to taking into account data such as the website you visited, the time spent looking at the particular item, and your other interests based on what you search to create a tailored advertising experience for you. That, in a nutshell, is AI in the new age of marketing.

While AI helps marketers identify what target audiences are interested in seeing, it is still up to the creativity of the human mind to communicate the messaging authentically. AI and machine learning will continue to develop and aid marketing efforts, making the lives of marketing professionals easier. It seems ironic that as technology becomes increasingly integrated into our lives, we strive more and more for human connection – thus proving that a computer will never fully replace the need for marketers. At least yet, once this happens we have bigger issues on our hands!

For now, we welcome the assistance and knowledge AI provides us and the information it finds on our audiences. Our years of hands-on experience allows us to know what to do with it!

Need help targeting your audiences effectively? Contact us here!

Does your Business Need an App?

How many apps do you have on your smartphone? Statistically speaking, it’s probably a pretty decent number. According to a report on The Business of Apps website, an estimated 197 billion apps were downloaded to mobile devices in 2017 and that number is expected almost double by 2021. Apps are a major craze in our modern culture. The phrase “there’s an app for that” has become a ubiquitous cultural saying that’s used almost jokingly, because quite literally, there seems to be an app for absolutely anything and everything you can think of.

The popularity of apps is undeniable, and because it seems like the cool thing (and maybe the smart thing) to do from a business perspective, a lot of business owners rush ahead creating an app for their company simply in the hope of having a presence on people’s phones. Just like any marketing decision though, the choice to create an app for your business should be approached with forethought and strategy. The first question any businessperson should ask themselves on the matter is:

Does my business actually need an app?

To answer that question there are some other important questions to ask yourself as well.

  1. Will an App Boost My Bottom Line?

Business apps, generally speaking, are meant to drive sales and improve customer service. They can be an important part of a business’s social media strategy, because they are extremely effective as tool for communicating directly with customers. Push notifications, special offers and deals and memory for what an individual customer prefers make apps very inviting for a lot of people to use. But if your particular business can’t sell anything via an app, there really isn’t any point in having one. If you can’t get customers to spend money through your app, then you can’t get on ROI on the cost of its development and upkeep. If you can’t make money with it, an app it’s not a good business tool.

  1. Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

Before commissioning an app for your business, its important to ensure your website is fully functional on mobile devices. This is important for two reasons: 1) Navigation on a smartphone or tablet is entirely different than on a laptop or desktop computer, and 2) Anyone who uses your app will definitely cruise around your website via the same device. If your website doesn’t work well on a mobile, getting it to do so is your first priority.

  1. What Will an App do that my Mobile Website Can’t?

Again, this is an entire functionality question. Are you going to design an app that will require GPS access? Maybe you’ll want it to be able to access photos or the user’s built-in camera. If everything you need and want your app to do can successfully be done through your mobile website, why spend the money on a second online access point?

  1. Are my Customers App Savvy?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but in their passion to create something modern and fun (i.e. an app) many business owners overlook a key aspect of its success: whether or not their target market is the sort of group who will pay for, download and use an app in the first place. If your customers prefer to do business face to face, an app probably isn’t going to do much for you.

  1. How Strong is my Brand?

When someone decides to download your app, they’re paying you (and your business) a pretty big compliment. There’s only so much real estate to be had on our mobile devices, so your presence there is no small thing. Apps are a powerful method of boosting brand awareness and loyalty – the trick is though, you have to have a clearly defined brand to begin with. Make sure the touch points of your brand are solid before you develop an app, and it will do a lot more for you in the way of helping to build your image.

  1. What’s my Budget?

Depending on who you engage to develop your app and the intricacies of its design and programming, the cost of getting it up and running can run anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand. On top of that, you’ll have to decide if you’re going to charge a fee for your app or allow users to download it for free. Most business owners aren’t aware either, that app stores take a cut of your sales – typically somewhere around 30% of what you charge users to buy it. In other words, there are monetary considerations when producing an app that are important to get on top of before you begin.

Want to learn more about the possibilities and potential problems in creating a business app? Hit us up for coffee and a chat. We love talking tech.

Marketing Hacks for Small Businesses – 5 Must Haves

Marketing is fundamental to the growth and success of every business, but it’s particularly important for entrepreneurs. Small business owners face the unique challenge of getting the word out on who they are and what they do on what often is a shoestring budget, so it’s really important to find ways to stretch those marketing dollars and make them work as hard for you as possible.

Some marketing tactics are out of reach for entrepreneurs – they’re simply too expensive, so there’s no chance for a return on investment. Luckily, there are plenty of clever ways to reach customers that don’t break the bank – and others that don’t cost anything at all. With a little insight, ingenuity, and good old fashioned hustle, entrepreneurs can create great buzz for their businesses in really cost effective ways.

Of all the affordable options available to small business owners these days there are certain tactics that should be part of every entrepreneur’s marketing arsenal. The following five are sure-fire ways to create a strong, professional image for your business, leave a lasting impression, and reach a lot of potential clients and customers without spending a lot of money.

  1. Have a Professionally Designed Website

Having a website is non-negotiable in today’s business world. If you’re in business, you need to have one, and if you’re a small business owner it’s important to make sure your website not only looks professional but operates smoothly too. Yes, it will cost you a bit of money to have a website professionally designed, but this is one marketing cost that’s worth every penny. The first thing people do when they hear about your business is look for you online. If you don’t have a presence there, how are they going find you? Once they’re on your website, those people will immediately (and often subconsciously) make a judgment call about you based on what they see and experience there. If your website feels amateur, your business appears amateur – and that’s not the impression you want to make. Hire a professional web designer and content writer to create your website and let them devise a strategy for making sure your link comes up at the top of the list on a Google search. You’ll be very glad you did.

  1. Have an Active Social Media Presence

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter have made it possible to reach mass audiences quickly at little to no cost. Used the right way, social media is a highly effective brand building tool and offers business owners an exceptional way to connect with customers in real time.  A well-executed social media strategy can create broad awareness of your business almost immediately, will drive traffic to your website, and has the power to expand your viewership (and followers) quickly through “likes” and “shares.” If you want to take it to the next level, you can invest some of your marketing dollars in targeted social media ads that are guaranteed to be seen by just the right people as they scroll through their social feeds.

  1. Devise an Effective Email Marketing Campaign

Some people think email marketing campaigns are a waste of time, believing that the messages land in recipients’ junk folders or get deleted without ever having been opened. There’s a risk of both of those things happening, it’s true – which is why you need the help of an agency that’s got the know-how to get your messages seen. Email campaigns aren’t just ad-hoc typed messages, they’re carefully crafted and designed messages that are jam-packed with valuable content – stuff your target market wants to read and see. Done right, the people on your email list will come to look forward to receiving your next message, and will read it top to bottom. Email campaigns aren’t only affordable – they’re great for generating sales. Calls-to-action are the key to this tactic, and conversion rates between receiving messages and jumps to your website are usually high.

  1. Get a Great Business Card

This may seem like a small thing, but a sharp looking and uniquely designed business card makes a big impression. You’ve got to think out of the box with it, but a good designer can do that for you. Your business card should be reflective of your brand and professionally printed on sturdy paper stock. When you hand it out, you want to be proud of it, and you want the person you’re giving to to remember you when they look at it.

  1. Network, Network, Network

As a small business owner, you are the face of your company. The more you can get in front of people, the more likely they are to do business with you. Networking generates leads and opportunities, builds relationships, educates you on what’s happening in the marketplace (there’s no better way to check out the competition) and promotes good will. If you want people to get to know your business, get in front of them personally. There are all kinds of networking events in every city at all times of day – but if you can’t find one that works for you, start your own. We did. WJ hosts Ryan’s Roundup on the first Thursday of every month at Ranchman’s. Why not join us next time and get your cost-friendly marketing strategy off to a great start? http://ryansroundup.com

 

Title Fight – The Battle Between New and Traditional Media

We at William Joseph are constantly being asked which is more important when it comes to devising a successful marketing plan: traditional or new media? We always have the same answer: both.

There’s no denying that technology has had a massive impact on how we reach customers and how customers find the things they’re looking for, but underestimating the value of traditional media in your overall marketing plan could be a big mistake – depending of course on what you’re selling and who you’re trying to sell it to.

Think of traditional media and new media as boxers in a ring. In the red corner there’s the longstanding World Heavyweight Champion, Traditional Media – a fighter that packs a solid and time honoured punch. And over in the blue corner there’s the young contender, New Media – agile, savvy, fast footed and great at quick jabs. Traditional Media used to be untouchable, hammering home knockout punches time and time again. But in recent years, New Media has become a worthy opponent, throwing highly effective shots to Traditional Media’s side. Traditional Media can still pull off wins, but not always. Sometimes New Media steps up and delivers a hit that Traditional Media just can’t compete with anymore.

So what does this mean for your business’s marketing plan? It means you’ve got to know which fighter your target market is a fan of.

Traditional media sources like TV, radio, billboards and print ads definitely still have reach, but you have to be very clear on whether these tactics are going to deliver the kind of punch you need them to and very specific in terms of which sources to use. Consumers are becoming more and more autonomous when it comes to what they watch, read and listen to. On demand TV, customized playlists, online news sources and video channels like YouTube have made it necessary to be very targeted with traditional media choices, unless your market is entirely old school consumers.

We’re at a point in time where virtually everyone is online, so new media tactics like websites, digital ads, mobile apps, social media platforms and online videos are an essential part of any marketing strategy. Basically, you can’t not have new media if you want to attract new customers and generate sales. That said, new media sources tend to be most effective when strategically partnered with select traditional media outlets in a thorough and well thought out marketing plan. How else can a broad group of consumers find out about you in an expedient way? The billboard ad you put up drives people your website, and the radio ad you’ve got running during the end of day commute makes listeners look for your YouTube channel once they get home. See what we mean? When correctly balanced and properly executed, the fight between Traditional Media and New Media becomes more like a dance, with each contender bobbing and weaving their way to a tie, as voted by unanimous decision.

We get that it can be confusing – which is all the more reason that a well thought-out, smart marketing strategy is imperative when it comes to marketing your organization.

Want to find out what combination of new and traditional media is perfect for your business’s marketing endeavors? The team at WJ is just a phone call away.

The Best Approach to Services Marketing

Did you know that the service sector is a key driver of the Canadian economy? Information technology, management services, or financial and insurance services, all of which account for three of Canada’s fastest growing exports. In fact, according to John Greenwood of Maclean’s, some of Canada’s fastest growing exports are in the services sector – a sector which is often overlooked. While goods and commodities usually form the footing of Canada’s economy, real-time information on the impact of the service sector is challenging to manage and account for. As Greenwood coins it, the services sector is Canada’s secret economic playground, with technological advancements making it possible for Canadian service companies to experience significant growth by marketing and selling their services in global markets, and making top dollar too.

So, what exactly is a service? MarketingTeacher.com provides a great example:

“A service is the action of doing something for someone or something. It is largely intangible (i.e. not material). You cannot touch it. You cannot see it. You cannot taste it. You cannot hear it. You cannot feel it.”

The act of services marketing is selling experiences, not tangible products. This is the major difference between a company that produces goods versus a service provider. Goods are tangible, physical items, such as clothing, food, or office supplies which often have a set price to produce, package and ship. Services, on the other hand, is the action of performing work (or a service) for others, and can vary greatly in pricing depending the scope, requirements and perceived value of the service. A great example of services marketing is the tourism industry, such as Travel Alberta’s “Remember to Breath” campaign.

The category of service marketing is quite broad, and not all services are the same. Some having higher-value, and thus, have higher economic potential. Consider financial services, management consulting, medical services, engineering services, infrastructure, environmental services, mining services, water-management services as well as IT services, all of which Canadian companies are exporting worldwide. Every organization which provides and sells some kind of service uses service marketing strategies to sell their services to consumers (B2C) as well as to other businesses (B2B) both in Canada as well as globally.

While our experience is diverse, a lot of what we do here at William Joseph is focused on marketing services on both a local, national, and international scale. Given the extensive number of providers for any given service, differentiating your business and service offerings is critical, and there are best approaches to services marketing when it comes to standing out from the crowd.

Marketing a service can presents challenges which do not exist when marketing goods. Goods are tangible; however, services are not, leaving marketing strategists to have to communicate the benefits and unique differentiators of a service by drawing parallels with images, thoughts, and ideas that are more tangible. Another point is that consumers are more hesitant when purchasing services than goods, as goods can often be returned or exchanged. Experiences or services, on the other hand, cannot be returned once they are provided. Services are fluid and time-bound, never remaining the same in that they are both produced and consumed at the same time.

Strategic services marketing allows marketers to overcome the challenges of services marketing and narrow our focus to create more concentrated marketing tactics based on analytics. Research and insight is essential before embarking on any campaign as it can help your organization identify where you are now, where you want to be in the future, and what it will take to get you there, in addition to giving insight into your target audience, competition, industry trends, and so on. People will be at the pinnacle of your business’ success or failure, especially when it comes to selling services or experiences. Customer experiences with your service will need to be tailored to your target audience needs, wants, and expectations. Thorough research will help you determine the right marketing mix for your service, and better position your company for success.

Insight will also make it possible to determine your company’s “why.” Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why do you do what you do? This is your “why,” and is the very essence of your business’ brand and its story. To be successful, determining your business’ “why” is essential in creating a compelling campaign, and is an vital component to understanding how to effectively market your organization’s services.

After compiling, reviewing and understanding both internal and external insight into your organization, you can begin to develop a sound strategy grounded in research and based on your goals, brand, and key messaging. Service marketers must communicate the unique value of their services with immediacy, and without tangible goods, must do so visually through a compelling logo and brand. A sound strategy will result in a targeted approach, achievable milestones, and on-the-mark creative and tactics to support your strategy. To thrive, you must differentiate yourself, and to succeed in a competitive environment, you must understand how to do so.

The Rise of the Ageless Market

Ageless marketing is “marketing based not on age but on the values and universal desires that appeal to people across generational divides. Age-based marketing reduces the reach of brands because of its exclusionary nature. In contrast, ageless marketing extends the reach of brands because of its inclusionary focus.” – David Wolfe

We propose extending this concept one step further by applying the concept of ageless marketing to what has quickly become an ageless society, especially regarding the attitudes and approach of baby boomers.

Throughout history there has been an obsession with staying young; for example, hair dye was invented in 1907 by the founder of L’Oreal. Today it is even more pervasive with the rise of medical procedures, the size and reach of the beauty industry, and the opportunity to share and celebrate youth through social media.  Images on Instagram are of young people curating perfect lives setting an aspirational tone for all ages. In the world of celebrity and the everyday, people are having “work done,” gray hairs are hidden, and fashion trends span across demographics. Marketing is not immune to the trend to stay young and is at the core of capturing the energy and vibrancy of young content.

The generation with the most disregard for age are baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). They are fighting age every step of the way and do not consider themselves to be old and they most definitely do not want to be shown as old in marketing materials. They are just as interested in the products and trends for millennials as they are in things directly related to them. Baby boomers are also avid trendsetters and followers in their own right.

Within the ageless markets and ageless society, brands must be crafted to reach an older audience without alienating a younger one. Vibrant multi-generational imagery used with the right combination of messaging and tactical approach will make a strong connection. An ageless lifestyle brand will span across ages as multiple generations can picture themselves engaging with the brand now or in the future.

Social media is also influencing the overlap between generations as they are accessing similar content, bridging the gap between their activities and interests.  Parents have never so readily been invited into the private worlds of their children and vice versa. They are sharing their personal experiences, but also preferences for products and services. Baby boomers are working hard to keep up with technology as they do not want to miss out on pictures of grandchildren or the travel and adventures of their friends. They also want to share their own pictures and experiences and are using social media platforms to demonstrate their own youthfulness. While baby boomers are still engaged in traditional media, social media has quickly become a primary vehicle for reaching this group.

In conclusion, playing to the trend of the ageless society by showcasing the youthful vibrancy of baby boomers will enable marketers and brands to reach a wide range of age groups and to harness their collective buying power.

For your next marketing campaign consider an ageless approach – a strong ageless lifestyle brand promoted effectively through social media will have the widest appeal and greatest reach.