Communication is the Pulse of Life!

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Winning ‘hearts’ on Instagram

Winning ‘hearts_ on Instagram

You don’t have to be cool to rule the (virtual) world. Brands are no longer hiding in cocoons, relying on heavyweight publishers for sponsored content. They’ve evolved into social butterflies on the digital sphere.

Granted, not every brand knows how to maximise Instagram to its fullest potential. Some see no wrong in whiplash colours and unrelated captions – the perfect trigger to a swipe (away). But you and your growing brand will have to do it right. We’ll help you out.

1. Find your voice

Don’t be afraid to let your feed do the talking. A picture is worth a thousand words, no? Your Instagram account is your brand’s voice. A strong identity sets you apart from the rest, but your brand can only shine when it knows itself. Think of the values your company stands by, and translate that into a visual force.

Take Starbucks for instance. Their Witch’s Brew Frappuccino is another magical concoction to join their out-of-this-world selection.

Starbucks’ recipe for success is simple. Their Instagram page shows a seamless integration around their cup of joe-from pictures of house coffees, and festive-themed caffeine to the newest additions.

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2. Be consistent – it’s a strategy

This should be your brand’s middle name. Build a cohesive brand theme with colours, filters and aesthetic designs that are in sync. Ensure your photos are sized well (1080px by 1080px), so your feed won’t resemble a stock of mismatched crops. Learn from Pinkberry and their messy use of a filter, turning their berry yogurt into a chameleon instead.

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From one dairy name to another, Ben & Jerry’s is making their Instagram page all about their delicious pints. Like them, be consistent with your branding, and don’t post the same picture thrice in a row. Spruce things up with creative ideas and don’t let others wonder why you’re on their timeline.

If your company is promoting a new product, make things easy on the eye by capturing shots against diverse backgrounds or adding related pictures such as a consumer trying out your item. It helps to remember to whom you’re posting for too.

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3. Schedule posts in good time

There’s no hard and fast rule on the best timing, so test your posts at different intervals of the day. Our pro tip is to use Iconosquare to view posts’ statistics and keep track of the time your target market is most active. Even if you’re posting fantastic content, it’ll be water under the bridge if no one sees it.

Sporadic posting habits make your followers forget you. Over-posting will annoy them. Find a strategic balance, and a good suggestion is to have an editorial calendar to set specific schedules.

Think of your postings as a diet plan: Don’t be over-ambitious and commit more than you can chew, or take too many ‘chill pills’ and post only once a year. People will wonder if you’re still in business! The average brand posts, according to a Union Metrics study, is 1.5 times every day – a realistic goal for most.

4. Create Instagram Stories that work

Publicise giveaways, contests and timely deals on Instagram Stories, with a call-to-action for consumers to click on instantly. With their latest “swipe up” feature, it has never been this easy for brands to direct audience straight to their content.

Bringing your followers behind-the-scenes is like dangling the metaphoric carrot, holding their attention, in anticipation of the actual release. Take a page from H&M and their Conscious Collection, giving avid fans an inside scoop on the materials used in their environmental-friendly initiative, and keeping them on their toes about the upcoming release.

Travel application site Hopper, for example, uses Instagram Stories to offer massive flight discounts for your next holiday.

Whatever your motive -cheap thrills or sneak peeks- an Instagram Story is fluid and purposeful, all while aligning with your brand’s image. It’s not called a “story” for no reason!

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hopper

5. Your followers matter

Not to sound superficial, but who your brand follows speak volumes. Following a charitable cause have others believe your brand is ethical, whether or not it holds true. Of course, it’s a given to check out accounts that are relevant to your brand.

That doesn’t mean you should go on a follow spree and add random pages, especially when your followers are half the size of theirs. It seems egoistic, but let followers come to you instead. Focus on building real relationships and let others share your content for you.

The ‘like for like’ favour doesn’t work here. Think of the number as a nice compliment, but genuine engagement with your supporters eventually takes precedence. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

6. Just have fun

This seems contradictory to everything on the list. But the moment you view Instagram as a profit-making tool, you’ll lose out. While these guidelines may pivot into a powerful branding strategy, remember – when you start thinking “This seems fun”, others will too. Get inspired and start posting. Your visual diary is your brand.

Posted by Nur Farzana, CorpMedia

 

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Do You Want to Hear a Story?

 

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People in general have an insatiable appetite, craving a tender story to sink their teeth into. Commercials or Ads, laden with emotions can invoke a plethora of feelings within a person. Once upon a time, advertisers were fixated on hard-selling a product’s prime assets. Today, they prefer to tell a “story” to sell. The story, though, must resonate with you, the prospect, and appeal to your emotions. After all, when it comes to making buying decisions, it’s all about what stirs your emotion.

Thanks to premium memberships and exclusive privileges, skipping an Ad is literally a click away. While it’s impossible to rewind the effects of technological advancement, it’s plausible for consumers to press play the next time they chance upon YOUR commercial or Ad.

There’s no running away from storytelling in today’s marketing environment.  It’s an essential component of any marketing and advertising campaign strategy. Brand storytelling works when yours rises over the white noise to rein in your prospects and win their trust, only then will they become vested in your business. Here are some tips we’d like to share with you.

1.  Stand out from the rest

To be memorable, you must be unforgettable. A conventional plot won’t exactly scream your brand name. Advertisers need to pull out a fishing rod to hook users with a direct connection to a powerful story, to automatically assimilate the business-to-consumer bond.

To stand out, you don’t necessarily have to be tall. Volkswagen’s Think Small campaign swiftly shifts the focus of spacious American cars to small German automobiles. Instead of short-changing consumers with empty promises of roomier cars, they choose honesty as the route forward – telling it like it is!

Think about what makes your product a rose among the thorns, and figure out ways to weave a story from that. Where carbonated beverages are aplenty, Coca-Cola’s personalised bottles, are a rare, novel invention. The Share a Coke campaign allows users to purchase a can of Coke with their personal name printed against the famous red backdrop. For unconventional names and nicknames, Coca-Cola will even customise the bottle. Consumers feel a sense of ownership, or better yet – it spurs them on to share a Coke with someone by that name. It may be simple, but a name can share a thousand stories.

2.  The emotional touch

Luke Sullivan, author and copywriter of Fallon McElligott advertising agency, shares how people talk in stories. We must do the same. The brand itself tells a story, and narratives give human experience depth. Take for instance, a savvy gadget like FitBit – we know what it is and how it works. The Ad uses an emotional pull factor as it follows an impressionable young girl while she narrates her mother’s fitness journey, all from her eagle-eyed lenses. It tugs at your heartstrings and holds your attention on pause. What’s more, it makes consumers believe that FitBit is indeed a gadget for everyone. You wouldn’t be as interested if the Ad boasted a chunk of statistics, right?

3.  Be real, give details

You may think that to reach the masses, a carbon copy of a tried-and-tested idea would suffice. But does a “recycled” idea makes you jump out of your seat? If you want to be heard, then include details, details, details. This makes the storyline genuine and relatable, and is sure to go out with a bang.

Observe your surroundings and hear what isn’t being said. Starhub Singapore’s campaign is peppered with nostalgic heartland moments to alter people’s hushed perception of Singapore as THE unhappiest country. The story resonates close to home and includes visuals of precious, authentic moments that locals cordially share.

4. Relate and resonate

Step into the shoes of a reader and ask yourself, “Can I relate?” Think of the struggles your community faces, and how others feel about a certain topic. For instance, in the age of female empowerment, the Think Like A Girl campaign by Always, nips the social stigma of playing sports like a girl, in the bud. The takeaway is that girls are as fit and adept as boys – a message that runs deep for many independent women out there.

5.  Close your eyes

Many will skip advertisements at the first second. If you can make a person forget, even momentarily, that they’re watching an Ad, you’ll garner two thumbs up (and a ‘like’). As Jon Hamm wittingly said in Mad Men, “I wanted people to say “What’s happening in the story right now? Oh! It’s an advertisement!” That will clue you in if you have an Emmy-winning Ad or not.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) shares stories of supportive mothers to superstar athletes, and how unwavering courage leads to the success of their children. The commercial is almost a film, taking viewers on a journey before reaching that paramount moment, all under 3 minutes.

Hope these tips help you to think outside the box. The next time you’re in a brainstorming session, remember: Honest, relatable and authentic storylines – That’s where the gold is.

Posted by Nur Farzana, CorpMedia

A practical approach to better dialogue

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“Facts don’t care about your feelings” is a popular meme attributed to Ben Shapiro, the American writer, political commentator, and self-described member of the Intellectual Dark Web: an emerging cadre of new media public intellectuals. For some, he is a fearless speaker of truth. For others, he’s a regressive provocateur. It depends on one’s sensibilities.

And that’s the starting point for this blog. When Ben lays out an argument he often says that he genuinely doesn’t care how others may feel about it. I think it’s fair to say that (in the public sphere at least) he elevates rational thought above all else: an idea that seems alien to many people.

In the workplace too, there are people like Ben. There are people who are the polar opposite of Ben. And there are people who sit somewhere in between. But an indisputable truth is that, in any enterprise, it’s people who drive outcomes. And people are motivated in different ways: some more by facts and some more by feelings. So it’s self-evident that adopting a more agile approach to people-motivating skills can deliver better outcomes.

Most people want to be heard and understood. As a leader at the sharp-end of delivering results in a complex organisation, it can be tough to find the time to dialogue effectively. Or often enough. Especially with people who are not like you. I get that. But however busy you are, it’s worth creating some extra time for some other people (and you know already which people I’m talking about in your sphere).

Here are a few dots that I’ve connected over the course of my life, and my career as an executive coach and adult educator; some of them may be helpful to you.

1. Seek first to understand, then to be understood1

This is a concept that has echoed throughout the ages of mankind. The central idea being that most people talk too much, and don’t listen enough.

2.  Take some time to let the tale unfold

If you give a person 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to speak, you will learn a lot about them. Listen actively, don’t judge, ask clarifying questions, but let them speak. Eventually you will hear something along the lines of: “…which doesn’t seem right to me”. That’s a breakthrough moment which will reveal something intimate, and very important.

3.  Tell me more about that

Stick with curiosity in that moment. Your own thoughts and feelings about the things that don’t seem right are irrelevant. Did anybody ask you to agree yet?! You’ll recognise this moment when you notice the words “Yes, but” about to come out of your mouth. Swallow those words! Simply say: “Tell me more about that.” And continue to listen actively.

4.  Simplify, Clarify

When it’s an appropriate time to speak, here’s a good way to begin: “If I understand you correctly, what is important to you is X, Y, Z. Am I right?”. And if you are not right, do like it says on the shampoo bottle: rinse and repeat.

5.  Read your vital signs

At this point you will have broadly heard one of three things: a) “that’s not fair”, b) “that’s not accurate”, c) “that’s not actionable”. This is a potential danger zone; a moment when your own interpretation of the ‘stuff’ could cause you to feel triggered. Pay attention to your ‘gut’. That Fight or Flight or Freeze feeling is invaluable data. High performance people know how to bring that data into dialogue.

6.  May I share?

People with strong dialogue skills will take this moment to ask permission to share. Describe the ways in which your own thoughts and feelings diverge from those that you have heard and understood from the other person. But this isn’t an opportunity to dismiss what you have heard, or to use your ‘senior power’ (if you have any). You are merely asking for the same listening courtesy to be extended to you.

7.  Where are we now?

By this time you should each have a better understanding of what makes the other one ‘tick’, and where your differences lie. Spend some time to clearly articulate the ‘gaps’ that exist between your respective thoughts/feelings, without judging or criticising them. Treat them as a phenomenon; your individual realities are not the same. It can be helpful to imagine this bundle of differences as a fish on the table between you. It’s not you, it’s not him/her. It’s a fish that you have co-created.

8.  What are WE going to do about this?

We don’t often get to choose our clients or colleagues, and differences are bound to arise. But if you have gotten this far it’s fair to assume that you care about your relationship with this person, and vice versa. But you need to clean and gut that fish2, or it will begin to stink and decompose!

Occasionally I have heard people say: “This isn’t personal, it’s purely business.” And that’s actually a very well-intentioned thought. But it ignores a reality that, for some people, business is entirely about the personal. A subtle, but powerful alternative could begin something like this: “I really value my relationship with you. How can we move forward in a way that preserves that, and still achieves  a good business outcome?”

If you put the above steps into practice, I guarantee that you will take much of the heat or awkwardness out of your difficult conversations. You may easily, naturally, create a better dialogue towards a better outcome. And if you need some practice with the techniques, or are interested in a workshop for your team, get in touch with Dramatic Difference. Our dynamic theatre-led learning style has helped many clients to build high performance teams through effective dialogue.

Reposted with permission from Dramatic Difference (www.dramdiff.com) Read the rest of this page »

Building a Community Behind an Event

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“Event marketing is an extension of your content marketing. That’s the backbone to a really successful event.” – Stefanie Grieser, strategic marketing professional and author.

Building a successful event requires a strong community that is connected and engaged, ready to lend its support and help your event grow. To nurture an event community, purposeful and timely communication is necessary. We share a few tips to help you prepare for your big event!

Expand Your Online Presence

When hosting an event, be sure to harness the power of social media. In this digital age, being visible online is a huge plus. Bring your event online by announcing and promoting it regularly via email blasts and on social media platforms. Having a strong online presence plays to your advantage. Use social media to share regular updates and the latest news regarding the event so as to build excitement around your event.

Real-Time Marketing

During the event, utilize the power of real-time marketing and post updates when you can. These updates could include pictures and videos on your social media channels like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. Once the event is over, craft a post-event note (a brief on the event or thank you message) and post this on the various channels linked to your company website. If your event is an educational one (i.e. a conference, workshop or seminar), you can also think about hosting a webinar as a follow-up to the meeting.

Word of Mouth

For any event to stand out, you need to offer something compelling enough to spark and sustain conversations. This will further promote brand awareness and build a larger following behind your event. It could be anything from highlighting a reputable keynote speaker, or the announcement of special awards to recognize outstanding achievements and contributions to the industry. These can be huge draw factors that your intended audience wouldn’t want to miss out on. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool!

Make It Interactive

An event is an interactive ground that brings like-minded individuals together to share ideas and experiences. Include programs or activities to set your event apart and actively engage your audience. Customized gifts lend that personal touch but more importantly, they capture the mindshare of your audience. Rather than a generic event T-shirt or cap, how about portable battery banks imprinted with your company logo? These mementos are not only practical, but also spread awareness beyond the event.

When It Ends

Be sure to send out thank you emails and post-event surveys and feedback forms within a day of your event’s conclusion – when everyone’s memory is fresh and you’re likely to receive the most accurate feedback possible. Input from participants will help in future program planning.

Also take some time to gather all the points discussed during the conference and notable quotes from speakers and release a post-event report. You should not miss out on your major call to action, with the opportunity to get people to pre-register for upcoming events.

Stay in Touch

Do stay in touch with your community. Update them on future activities and other news of interest (but avoid spamming!). Remain visible on social media just so participants can check in and remain in the loop.

On Social Media: Post weekly industry-related news updates on Twitter to engage with your community online. One way to increase your following is to use high-volume hashtags that are relatable to your target groups. You should plan the best time slots to post your updates for maximum visibility and pick-up. Use fewer words and more visuals to capture your audience’s attention.

Monthly Blogs: This could be a more in-depth, monthly blog post summarizing the state of the industry or new developments impacting the industry. Post interviews with industry experts and publish views on your website to gain credibility and promote thought-leadership within the industry.

Last but not least, “Think Big, Think SEO”. Choose your keywords carefully and wisely and include these on all your posts, urls, etc. – any way you can, and your event will stay on top!

Posted by Chloe Tan, CorpMedia

Breaking: Bad News!

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Delivering bad news is tough in any business. Whether it’s having to tell your vendors that you can no longer retain their services or informing an employee that he is being made redundant, or shutting down a project, often the “messenger” tasked with delivering the final blow would go to great lengths to delay or avoid the situation due to fear of confrontation, turning a bad situation into an even worse one.

Let’s face it – nobody wants to hear bad news. Disappointment, frustration and even anger come to mind. It’s certainly no mean feat when it comes to reconciling and managing orders from upper management with the interests of employees, vendors and clients.

So how can we avoid shooting the messenger? We share some tips on how you can deliver bad news (someone’s got to do it!) with grace and tact.

Be Prepared

Make sure that you’re familiar with every piece of information before speaking to your target recipient (employee, colleague, client). More specifically, you need to understand the reasons why, who are the parties involved, and any other considerations in the lead up to the final decision. Don’t hesitate to ask for more information before delivering the bad news.

Time and Place

When you deliver bad news, be sure to do it in a private setting and at a time when he can hear the bad news. If it’s not urgent, don’t approach the person at a stressful time in the middle of a project. Be mindful of the setting, and switch off your phone and email alerts – avoid interruptions at all cost to put the person at ease.

Create a Buffer

Before communicating any bad news, always start with a buffer to reduce the shock or pain. An effective buffer helps the recipient to keep reading or listening, and essentially provides a smooth transition to the bad news proper.

  • State the best news first
  • Compliment the recipient
  • Thank the recipient for his past contributions
  • Listen to what the recipient has to say (shared viewpoint)
  • State key facts of the case
  • Express empathy (show concern)

Be Direct

People are more receptive to listening and accepting bad news when it’s delivered thoughtfully, sincerely and confidently. Body language is key. Make sure your body language conveys the right message in the right way and is in line with what you’re saying. Some examples of non-verbal cues include avoiding eye contact and fidgeting. These are sure to send the wrong signals. Also, do not sugarcoat and beat around the bush. Be direct and tactful, and most of all be kind.

No Time for Jokes

When bad news is being delivered, be considerate of the recipient’s feelings. Do not joke around as this may come across as being rude and insincere. While you may want to lighten the mood and reduce the impact of the news, always be respectful and sensitive.

Explain the Why’s

Research shows that people are more willing to accept bad news if they believe the decision-making process was reasonable. Therefore, provide them with ample reasons as to why the bad news is necessary and give them details about the decision-making process.

Show you Care

After delivering the news and explaining all the necessary information, give the individual some space to absorb the information and be ready to listen to his concerns. Ask him how he’s feeling. Do your best to be understanding and answer any questions as best as possible.

Moving Forward

When closing, do it in a way that promotes goodwill and helps the individual or team move forward. You should provide your support and let them know you’re there for them. Instead of focusing on the “can’ts”, focus on the “cans”. Go a step further and suggest a compromise or alternative option based on what the individual wanted in the first place.

Posted by Chloe Tan, CorpMedia

Ethical Advertising: Does It Pay to Do Good?

 

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Advertising is an important facet of business. Businesses are in the game to earn profits and advertising helps with just that – bringing the products to a wider reach by capturing the interest of target audiences. Advertisements have a heavy responsibility – they affect the daily lives of people who watch or read them. However, businesses need to be ethical in their advertising. An ethical company is likely to be viewed more positively. That’s because they have to keep an ethical promise to their customers.

Missing The Mark?

Even though businesses know what it means to be ethical, there have been cases of renowned companies making blunders in their advertising efforts.

Deceptive Advertising and Misleading Claims

If any advertisement makes unsubstantiated claims, then the intention is to mislead the public, and it becomes unethical. Such an advertisement usually creates or takes advantage of, or substantially interferes with the ability of people to make rational consumer choices.

Of course there is a fine line between exaggeration and deception. When an advertisement claims that “You’ll be walking on heaven”, it obviously does not expect readers to take that literally because the rational individual is able to discern the truth.

However, if an advertisement pitches your pill as one with “No Cholesterol!” but the ingredients listed on the back leaf show high sodium content, then that is considered deceptive advertising.

Immunity.pngKellogg’s Rice Krispies

An example of deceptive advertising would be that of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. The brand came under fire in 2010 for misleading consumers about the product’s immunity-boosting properties. The Federal Trade Commission stepped in and ordered Kellogg’s to stop all advertisements carrying the immunity-boosting claims. As a result, Kellogg’s had to pay $2.5 million to affected consumers and donate another $2.5 million worth of Kellogg’s products to charities.

Kelloggs .pngKellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats

Kellogg’s got into trouble again in 2013 when it falsely claimed that its Mini-Wheats “improve(d) kids’ attentiveness by nearly…20%.” As a result, the company had to settle a $4 million claim for false advertising.

Irrational Persuasion

It is the manipulation of feelings or interests of a target audience.

Advertisements push our buttons with celebrities, sex and success. They disable our rational mind and appeal to our feelings and emotions. They exploit deep-seated emotions the target audience might have: the need for security, acceptance and self-esteem.

McDonalds Ad.pngMcDonald’s Advertisement UK

McDonald’s seemingly harmless Filet-O-Fish advertisement caused massive backlash and debate online when it was launched. In the advertisement, a mother tells her son about his late father and to his disappointment, they shared little in common. It was only after his mother took him to McDonald’s and he ate a Filet-O-Fish burger that he found out he shared the same taste as his father (it was his father’s favourite burger). McDonald’s was taken to task for creating an advertisement that exploited child bereavement. The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK received about a hundred complaints and only then was the advertisement withdrawn.

Fear As a Motivator

Advertising agencies frequently use fear tactics. It becomes unethical when it is without proper justification. If fear is used for the good of the consumer and society at large, then the use of fear is justifiable.

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In the case of anti-smoking campaigns, a label carrying the words “Smoking Kills” on the box uses fear as a tactic to motivate smokers to stop smoking, for their own benefit and health.

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Also in the case of anti-drinking and driving campaigns, the use of fear is meant to stop or condemn drink driving, while highlighting the possible risks.

Many companies, however, employ fear tactics for the wrong reasons.

Nationwide Insurance Ad.pngNationwide Insurance Advertisement

The Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company released an advertisement in 2015 which features a boy reciting all the things he would not be able to accomplish in life and goes on to say “I couldn’t grow up, because I died from an accident.” The advertisement shows horrific images of accidental child death scenes like poisonous chemicals and shattered TV screens. It goes on to say, “At Nationwide, we believe in protecting what matters most… your kids. Together, we can make safe happen. #makesafehappen”

This is an example of unjustifiable fear, wherein the advertisement induces people to buy the insurance by depicting how horrible the lives of their children would be if left uninsured.

Promoting Unethical Behaviour

Unethical advertisements are also those that promote unethical and immoral behavior. An advertisement by Reebok had a headline that read “Cheat on your girlfriend, not on your workout.” People were unhappy that the advertisement was unethical as it encouraged infidelity.

Reebok Ad.pngReebok Advertisement

So… What?

Ethical Advertising

Ethical advertising is critical. Consumers are more socially aware and increasingly demand for businesses and products to be more ethical in production and advertising. When any company is perceived to lack in ethics in any aspect of their business, they lose credibility from consumers, resulting in a tarnished brand reputation.

Be Honest

As obvious as it sounds, to be ethical in advertising, one needs to be honest and promote a given product or service without lies or deception. Ethical advertising tells the truth and never hides any of the product specifications or its defects. Ethical advertising is also free from any deceptive or misleading claims, irrational persuasion and using fear as a motivator.

Social Consciousness

To be ethical in advertising is to avoid appealing to deep-seated emotions and unavoidable needs of the target audience. It is objective and unbiased, and does its best to live up to its social responsibility mission.

Environmental Consciousness

Ethical advertising also comes in the form of protection of the environment and preventing harm to the environment. Unethical advertisements do not show consideration for the environment and also promote environmentally destructive behavior.

Posted by Chloe Tan, CorpMedia

 

Conquering the Value of Reputation

Value of reputation - Lincoln

When facing challenges presented by the current economic context, the response of the companies with a certain degree of resilience was swift. They adapted their strategic positioning and searched for opportunities abroad.

Proof of this tendency to conduct business outside in order to balance deficiencies encountered in one’s own market can be found, for example, in the values for Portuguese exports of goods and services in 2013, which surpassed national and international forecasts.

The role of marketing in this evolution plays a key role when one considers the necessity for creating a reputation that acts as an element of contact between one organization and its key audience.

It is this vital character of the concept of reputation, more than simply talking about brands, which we should focus on, with the objective of maintaining an effective positioning when facing those we consider as our target audience and partners in the implementation of a successful strategy.

As a differentiating asset in a market with goods and services sharing identical characteristics, an organization’s reputation becomes the reason for being the preferred choice among consumers, for projects being approved and for renewed notoriety. For companies searching for new opportunities, reputation becomes an assurance factor enabling them to develop a profitable commercial strategy and implement projects in an agile and effective way.

It has become imperative to develop the image we present to those outside the organization. Despite the critical factor of the solutions we offer, transforming them into a link to an idealized communication guarantees that these acquire a double role.

This shift in attention from branding, the logo and the image means relegating support role elements that do not have a direct influence in creating an objective and clear reputation. With clearly defined positioning, the next step becomes one of consolidating a certainty in the mind of the consumer: a brand is a promise. Answering adequately to market expectations in what regards this promise is a fundamental condition necessary to create an idea of reputation within our audience.

More than ever we need to think in the long run, focusing on resilience and on our link with the market. Here, the value that reputation acquires is highlighted as a crucial element in a wider communication strategy, with the objective of transforming the organization into a recognized and readily accepted brand by its targeted audience.

Guest Blog by Marta Gonçalves, Managing Partner, Say U Consulting and member of the Evoke PR Network.

The Art of Winning Hearts (and Dollars)

Authentic

In this age of faceless interactions and digital transactions, is it any wonder that we keep yearning for something real, something genuine? In the world of marketing, when it comes to choosing brands, it’s no longer just about a service or product – it’s all about that authentic, personal experience that we seek.

Yet, authenticity is a word that is bandied about, often too casually. What does it really mean? And how can companies be convincingly genuine and transparent?

Findings in the Journal of Business Research distil this fuzzy concept into three attributes that consumers value most: heritage, sincerity and dedication to quality. While the third component is straightforward enough, businesses tend to flounder when it comes to delivering sincere messages or incorporating roots into their core values or vision.

At a time when transparency scandals seem to dominate headlines, and clarity and commitment are at a premium, successful brands stay ahead by being open and honest, displaying empathy, and fostering meaningful relationships with consumers across varied platforms.

Under the Right Influence(r)s

The prevalence of social media makes it easy for consumers to quickly obtain information and form opinions on brands. More and more partnerships also occur on these channels, with brands investing in influential individuals to promote their offerings.

While this marketing strategy isn’t new, astute brands increasingly seek authentic collaborations that maximise their credibility. Micro-influencers, in particular, have become favoured brand ambassadors on social media. Businesses find value in their smaller follower count (ranging from 500 to 10,000), and their closer relationships to their tight, niche communities of committed followers. For companies, this means better engagement with hyper-targeted audiences through a trusted individual.

When businesses successfully align themselves with influencers that are genuine fans of their brand, they benefit from authentic recommendations, increase their presence online (sans the hard selling!), and build a consumer base by conversing with the people who really matter to them.

Your Magic Affinity

Today, more than ever, consumers are inclined to put their money where their heart is, supporting brands with which they share common values. In the polarised climate we live in, remaining silent on larger social, political or cultural issues is difficult (and perhaps, even inadvisable).

Social responsibility continues to gain momentum as companies look to connect with conscious consumers on an emotional level. Taking up a meaningful cause not only sets businesses apart, it also helps to establish credibility and trust through positive associations with the brand.

But wanting to do good can sometimes go wrong – when businesses appear less than informed about the causes they support, they can come across as tone-deaf or inauthentic. To ensure legitimacy and resonance, companies have to understand the issue and their relationship to it. Ideally, consumers should be able to draw connections (almost immediately) between the issue and the company’s core beliefs or vision.

Stand for issues that make most sense to your brand. When your social causes are communicated effectively and sincerely, you nurture brand affinity, build a community around your brand, and are likely to retain loyal customers for longer.

Transparency is the New Currency

Open and honest communications are key to building trust and ultimately, brand loyalty. Consumers appreciate being given insight into the processes that take place before their purchase, and continued efforts to keep them informed. By educating consumers and being visible in their operations, companies demonstrate their genuine commitment to the customer.

One great example is Mars’ announcement to distinguish food products into “everyday” and “occasional” items on their packs and website, as part of an initiative to promote healthier food choices. While the move was deemed unusual, it nevertheless communicated Mars’ sense of responsibility to its consumers.

In times of crisis, honesty and authenticity become even more crucial as consumers want to be assured that problems are being addressed ethically and transparently. Rapid, informative responses, regular updates across all platforms, and sincere acknowledgement of mistakes (and a clear willingness to learn from them) will help alleviate fears, restore confidence, and show a commitment to upholding the trust the company has built.

Once embedded into a brand’s culture, operations, and mission, authenticity can positively influence customer experience and perception – and this will pay huge dividends in the long run.

Posted by Rahimah Amin, CorpMedia

Redefining the Customer Experience with AI

April blog cover image

Artificial Intelligence. It’s all around us.

Think Amazon suggestions, Spotify picking your next song, Google search answers, Netflix recommendations and the list goes on. From speech-powered personal assistants like Siri to voice compression algorithms and autonomous cars equipped with predictive abilities, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has come a long way.

AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence processes executed by machines. Indeed, its prevalence in our daily routines has made a significant difference in the world we live in today. Communications has also been greatly disrupted by the breakthrough of AI, slowly but surely.

Is AI taking over the world? To a certain extent, this might be true. While not everyone’s been enthusiastic about its rise, advances in AI have led to fundamental changes in the workplace. Leaders are rethinking how their businesses can be run with the help of AI’s powerful tools that can be applied to everything, from compliance to data collection, and streamlining processes to increase the overall level of efficiency.

However, AI should not be perceived as a Machiavellian robot scheming to end mankind. In fact, it can be the positive force behind the innovative transformations in our lives. In the world of public relations (PR), for example, AI has enabled brands to better interact and build deeper relations with key audiences. It would be a prodigious blunder to think that PR is on the brink of disappearing!

With AI, brands are able to leverage data sets to predict the reactions of the public more accurately and follow up with more targeted actions.

So, let’s pause for a cause and focus on the powerful combination of AI and PR working in synergy to better engage with your customers and grow your brand(s).

Consumer insights lead to improved astuteness

Good news for businesses – more information on consumers than ever before! With the most relevant and specific information on hand, brands can stay current with customers and quickly create personalised content to suit their specific interests and/or needs.

Through data collection across various channels, AI can successfully gather engagement metrics and conversion statistics. With data gathering tools, marketers can segment consumer metrics based on various factors like demographics and purchasing power.

Prior to AI, chunks of information without any organisation, otherwise known as big data, were used in businesses. It was difficult and extremely time-consuming to sieve through the information. With the help of AI, the deluge of data can now be digested into bite-sized information, enabling PR professionals to gain a better understanding of their audience’s core attributes through patterns and trends drawn from the data. The resulting encompassing patterns help professionals to discern customer preferences across a more intricate marketing strategy.

Tailored content options

AI is also redefining the customer experience by locking in consumers’ needs and wants, and improving their overall shopping experience. Have you ever noticed the content you see on your Facebook feed and news recommendations are all aligned with your interests? E-commerce platforms like Alibaba and Zalora also offer shopping that is highly personalised. Algorithms process articles by heavily scrutinising the locations of readers, what they engage in on social media as well as any other publicly obtainable information. Since the objective of AI is to find out what consumers are looking for and how they want their information to be reflected, it’s no surprise that AI is the mastermind behind all your tailored content options.

Still, professionals ought to be aware of not overstepping boundaries in the course of leveraging data to offer customised options. Customer privacy should not be compromised at the expense of creating more personalised experiences as doing so may backfire and result in consumers feeling as if their privacy is being invaded!

Higher consumer engagement with data-driven communication

Before AI came into existence, humans carried out mundane tasks like distribution of press releases and the creation of automated media lists. AI is now assisting with these duties, making it easier for businesses to reach out to target consumers directly. This can also help brands engage with the relevant target groups more efficiently than their competitors.

Given the rapid speed at which AI processes data, the accuracy of messaging is also increasing proportionally. This, in turn, helps PR professionals to ensure the delivery of strong and direct brand messaging to clients.

Advancements in AI technologies also contribute to determining predictive decisions of consumers based on the patterns detected. To better cater to the needs of the consumers, AI provides suggestions within a brand for the consumers. Since every consumer reacts differently to brand content and advertising, AI can help to tweak platform performance based on interactions with consumers and their purchases to improve each consumer’s shopping experience, using the data provided by social media interactions.

Crisis management

With the daily addition of content to the Internet – from blog posts to social media updates and netizen comments – AI plays an important role in comprehending the potential consequences of any crisis and acting as a pundit by giving professional guidance.

Predicting a crisis is difficult. Given a quick examination of social posts, AI can overcome this challenge. With ample caution, social media posts that have been pre-scheduled can be prevented from being posted automatically, and PR professionals can quickly “go into crisis management mode” and craft more suitable posts.

In the PR sphere, crisis management is, without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges. That being said, accurate information and communication-intensive efforts aid in identifying paramount events and topics – all of which cannot be achieved without AI.

With AI dominating the world we live in, there is always the fear that machines would replace humans one day. But let’s focus on the positive aspects of AI. Improved efficiency. Greater creativity. Optimized target consumers.

Posted by Shermaine Sim, CorpMedia

Driving Sales: What’s Your End Game?

#5 Lead Nururing General

Lead generation has become a key focal point for B2B enterprises looking to make the most out of their marketing efforts with measurable results.

While lead generation is an exercise measured with relative ease from a quantitative perspective, its ability to drive business results is largely dependent on the quality of the audience created. As such, companies are being forced to look beyond metrics to support their initiatives. For most businesses, regardless of the industry or products and services being offered, lead generation is a critical component of a successful sales and marketing strategy. But not every business understands the difference between lead generation and lead nurturing, and the importance of implementing both tactics into their overall sales process.

You can generate leads in every which way you choose but it’s no guarantee to increasing sales. You need to stay close with those leads, and nurture them until they’re ready to buy. You have to constantly remind you’re better than the competition.

Public Relations (PR) is a fundamental, nurturing element in the quest for quality leads because it offers reputational leverage and credibility that differentiate businesses from their competitors.  From creating content for case studies and blogs, to testimonials and thought leadership pieces, these tactics not only serve as the key to differentiating factors in B2B decision-making but also help improve relationships – keeping you at top of mind with your clients and prospects.

By forming a strong relationship with each of your potential customers, and by nurturing that relationship through various forms of consistent communication through PR efforts, this allows you to deploy the tactics and techniques from your sales playbook to nudge them closer to a paying customer.

Build Reputation and Credibility

When it comes to generating qualified B2B leads, your company’s reputation is a huge deal for business prospects. After all, it is the face of the business. It takes time and effort to build a reputation, but if not managed properly, your company’s reputation can disintegrate quickly like a house of cards. So, take the time to analyze your current state of affairs – make it a point to read online reviews, search engine results, blogs and other websites related to your business. You also need to monitor your reputation closely. Have someone check out the different channels for information regarding your business; respond to negative reviews and complaints quickly; and always strive to improve the level of your customer service.

Be a Thought Leader

For a business to remain relevant in an ever-shifting business environment, it’s important to demonstrate expertise and foresight in the field. By regularly publishing content on platforms like blogs and through media outlets, businesses are able to critically differentiate themselves from the competition. Through social media platforms like LinkedIn, self-publishing blogs, articles and e-books, businesses can establish thought leadership within the industry, creating recognizable spokespersons with whom customers and partners can relate to. This way, you become the expert resource that everyone runs to. Yes, especially the media!

Create Compelling Content

In an over-saturated, highly competitive media market, it takes more than a press release to catch the eye of journalists. These days, some companies are doing away with press releases, opting instead to create their own content, such as informative articles on topics related to a company’s business, to engage their audiences, and hopefully create new business opportunities. These self-written pieces are uploaded to corporate websites and shared via social media channels, and can also be repurposed for sales brochures and other marketing collaterals. That is not to say press releases are obsolete – it’s just that they’ve evolved! The key to using press releases effectively is to focus them on newsworthy events that should be used where appropriate, and as part of a wider media strategy that includes extensive digital outreach.

Amplify and Glorify

Make sure that you get as much mileage from every mention as you can. Republish, link to and print news stories that include your company and post these on your website, marketing materials and on the various social media channels. Customer testimonials are a great way to fire up the grill! What can be more persuasive than customers talking about how your product or service helped their business? Talk to your best customers; ask them if they’re willing to say some nice things about your company or product. More than words, a video testimonial will make the message even more impactful!

Nurturing leads to a sale takes time. It is not done in a month or even half a year. It requires dedication, cooperation and lots of hard work. While many companies give up on customers by the second exposure, others have seen a great return on their investment through lead nurturing. It’s a simple but effective way to communicate with your customers and guide them through the purchasing cycle.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia