Saturday, January 30, 2010

Everything is Marketing

The sooner business owners understand that everything they do is marketing, the sooner they will see their brand on the road to success.

We have the opportunity of working with many successful entrepreneurs at Francomedia. The ones that seem to stand out and grow faster, gain the lion's share of their market more so than the others in their field are the ones that really understand how important marketing is and that marketing is much more than just the logo.

Marketing is everything, including the kitchen sink (figure 1.1)

When I get a request for everything - from logo to cheques and from vehicles to office walls, I smile a great big grin. Not just because it means a lot of work for my team, but because it means that we have a customer that is serious about their branding and that our efforts will not only be noticed and felt, but appreciated. This is where the Francomedia team shines.

What does it mean, 'Everything is Marketing' though?

A lot of people believe their logo, business cards and a magazine ad is marketing. It's only a small portion of marketing, you see - everything is marketing; from how your phone is answered to how clean your company fleet is to the mundane forms that your staff fill out each day. Everything you do embodies the spirit and essence of the brand - this influences how your staff feel about your brand and how they reinforce the brand motto in what they do. This is reflected in how they deal with the customer and your brand shows through.

The best example of this type of integrated branding is best found at retail - typically where you find the biggest blunders of this type of execution as well.

As a consumer, you are often times made aware of a retail store by their flyer or their advertising - their logo and the design of these materials should be congruent and appealing - leaving you with an impression of what they are about - when you arrive at their store, what they have promised in their advertising should be visible in signage, store decor and staff demeanor - their service and policy should also reflect their brand proposition - and everything from register tape, bags, carts, and exterior signage all have to be in complete brand synchronicity. You should leave the store feeling as though you got exactly what you came for... and more, if they did it right.

Retailers have lived and breathed this type of integrated brand marketing for decades - so how come it takes other businesses so long to figure this out? It's not rocket surgery.

Many service company's are beginning to adopt this approach, and some are becoming household names. While other company's are struggling trying to get their advertising down pat, I suggest you look at your marketing (your everything) - this is where you can make some inroads and take the rug from under your competitors. So, the question becomes, how do I do this?

One way is to approach your everyday decisions on behalf of the brand - be the brand. For instance, if the brand was going to order pens for the office, what pens would the brand buy? Never mind what the price is - what's right for the brand? If the brand was going to lease a fleet of vehicles, which ones would reflect the brands personality best? If the brand was ordering a new floor mat for the front door... If the brand was ordering business cards... If the brand was ordering envelopes... you see, if you look at things from the brands perspective, you will likely choose things that reflect the brand, not what suits your individual taste or appetite to spend the least.
Here's an example: Just this week I was following behind a truck that was clearly marked as the leader in high quality automotive parts - great branding, right? It was... probably for the first 5 years this vehicle was on the road. Now it's dirty, out of date and what's worse is that it had rust stains pouring down the back door, right over the words "quality auto parts" - not quite the impression they were going for with their brand, I'm sure. For little investment, this could be easily fixed or cleaned up and the brand would be reinforced positively. But, I'm certain that this particular business owner believes their work is done, because the name's on the truck - what more is needed? This attitude is common and why there is such huge opportunities for entrepreneurs that are serious about growing their business.
I'm not saying you need to spend a lot of money. Making all your decisions so that they accurately reflect your brand is what is important - because your brand is everything. If you're selling a luxury brand or anything of quality, you can't be shopping for supplies in the dollar store - cheap begets cheap. Because your brand essence is so much more than just your logo, you need to look at all the ways that your customer experiences your brand and make sure they are in sync with your brand motto.

Your brand has to walk the walk and talk the talk. To do this, you have to understand that everything you do is marketing because marketing is everything.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Why Creative Is Important

In the advertising and marketing field, the word creative is used to describe the work produced by the creative team at an agency, typically in the form of concept, copy writing and graphic design.

For example, if we were to design a poster for you, the artwork would be called the 'creative'. You would say, "Let's see the creative...", and we would show you a proof of your poster.

This is advertising jargon.

At Francomedia, we describe ourselves as a boutique creative agency, meaning a relatively small group of very talented people that produce creative for various purposes. We are not an advertising agency, although that's the best way to describe us to people that don't understand our vernacular for the word 'creative'.

Many people have trouble understanding when or why they need creative supplied by an agency. A good example of this is the good old-fashioned power point presentation. Nearly every working stiff with a mouse can create a power point presentation, which is why so many companies don't see the need to hire a creative agency to supply creative for such a common item. Especially, since they can have their most junior person do it.

So, why hire a creative design agency to do your power point?

Everything is marketing. It doesn't matter if you are presenting something internally or to a crowd of investors, your power point is your marketing. And, when it looks like a grade school kid made it for you, how does that reflect on you? I have seen many corporate power points, and honestly, my kids make better looking/working ones than I've seen by some big companies, and they're in grade 3.

Great creative can do a lot of things for your power point (or anything else for that matter), and, it doesn't have to be expensive. Here's what professional creative will do for you:
  1. Make you look credible. If you are looking to the audience for investment on an idea or a company and you can't even get your headings to line up page after page, how are they supposed to feel about investing with you?
  2. Make you look professional. If you are presenting a recommendation to upper management or a board of directors and you have clip art images strewn throughout, are they supposed to take you seriously or try figure out where on their fridge to post your 'art'?
  3. Make you look capable. If you try to communicate a concept by embedding a certain graphic, sound or video into your presentation but it never seems to work smoothly (or at all), how is your audience supposed to feel about your ability to see things through without error?
  4. Make you compelling. If you have a clean, well designed presentation, that runs smoothly, you will hold the audiences attention - at which point your presentation will come down to your content... which is what it's supposed to be about, right?
  5. Make you effective. If your presentation is properly designed and crafted, a good creative person will know what information to highlight and how to make those points ring true with the intended audience. That's important, right?
With all these benefits, you would think that hiring a creative team to build this for you would be a no brainer... but, often is the case where someone feels that they can do it internally and save the couple of bucks. What is the cost of lost credibility or a lost sale, or a lost investment?

Doing your own presentation is a great way to have your audience set very low expectations for you and what you are presenting. And, it doesn't take much effort for a creative professional to polish a presentation up, if even just to get some consistency throughout.

Even though, we used power point presentations as an example, hiring the right person for the job applies to just about anything in business. But when it comes to marketing your company, internally or eternally, you need to put your best foot forward and do everything you can to ensure your brand is exemplified and that people trust and believe what you present, on a screen or in an ad.

So, the next time you are planning to make a presentation, ask yourself if it's important that people hear your message and believe it. Then give a creative agency a call.

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