Smart Brands Tell The Best Stories

Seth Godin says, “Great marketers don’t make stuff. They make meaning.”

Image courtesy of http://video-commerce.org

Image courtesy of http://video-commerce.org

It doesn’t matter if we are selling a product or service, promoting a service or brand…if we aren’t telling a meaningful story about who we are and what we do we shouldn’t plan on having a long relationship with our customers or constituents.

There’s a good piece on The Content Strategist that does a great job unpacking this entire idea. Here’s a snip from the article:

You’ve probably heard the big commandment of content marketing: Don’t talk about the brand. If you do, the theory goes, you’ll drive consumers away. After all, they want to read about the things they love, not about you.

But what about the people who are interested in your brand? What about the investors and potential investors? What about the employees and vendors with a stake in your success? Or, for that matter, what about the super-users who just can’t get enough? Shouldn’t you talk about the brand to them?

The answer, undoubtedly, is yes.

Do you think there’s a balance to how much you talk about your brand? Is there a line that you need to be aware of?

This Week on the Rainey Radar

If you aren’t familiar with an agile marketing approach here’s a great place to start. The agile approach was created years ago in relation to software development but the principles have been applied to marketing and should be considered by any marketer looking to see quicker and greater impact of their efforts.

Content marketing is only as good as the copywriter behind the words. Earlier this week I came across a great post that is a great resource for anyone responsible for hiring copywriters.

This actually happened almost two weeks but it should still be on everyone’s radar. It’s the release of Michael Hyatt’s new book Platform. For anyone involved in sales, marketing or leadership of any kind this is a must read. Check out Michael’s podcast where he introduces the book as well.

Disconnect The Autopilot Switch and Engage

Do you remember the famous 80’s song Mr. Roboto?Mr. Roboto

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,
(Thank you very much oh Mr. Roboto
For doing the jobs that nobody wants to)

The video for the song was a classic on MTV (when MTV played music videos) and featured the lead singer battling and resisting becoming a robot. The premise of the song was that technology was taking over and de-humanizing people. That tune and message of the song hasn’t changed much over the past 30 years as technology has developed at the speed of light. Today, more than ever, it’s easy to let “technology” become the face and sometimes, the heart, of our business.

Have you ever caught yourself in robot mode? Have you found yourself on autopilot when it comes to engaging with and serving your customers? It’s so easy to let the “tasks at hand” consume our thoughts and actions that we forget the most important thing we can and should be doing —providing a wow experience to our customers.

Action Items:

Build an emotional connection by talking about the shared values and mission you have with your customers. Use social media, email and direct mail to tell your story and make the connection.

  1. Social media isn’t just another fad, it’s not fading away and if you haven’t embraced it yet there’s no better time than the present.  Your most satisfied and loyal customers are following you on Facebook and Twitter so make sure the conversation is happening every day. Keep your social media channels loaded with fresh, relevant and fun content. Add pictures, videos and check-in rewards that keep your customers “looking” for “what’s next” from you. Give your customers a reason to like, follow, connect and share.
  2. Email marketing is still a workhorse that produces results. Don’t stop collecting email addresses and building your email list. And don’t just make your emails about promotions. Include testimonies from your customers about how your stores products and service has helped them. Telling the story of changes lives and wow experiences build a stronger and ongoing emotional connection with your customers.
  3. Direct mail is by no means dead. Connected customers respond to direct mail twice as much as customers who are just familiar and satisfied with a retailer.

Don’t succumb to the temptation of putting things on autopilot. Resist Mr. Roboto and let your humanness rise by establishing and maintaining emotional connections with your customer.

The time has come at last, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)
To throw away this mask, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)
Now everyone can see, (Secret secret, I’ve got a secret)
My true identity

This Week on the Rainey Radar

Here’s a rundown of websites, blogs and people who inspired and fueled my marketing tank this past week.

Heidi Cohen is always producing something great. This week she posted her 30 Killer Blog Post Titles For Spring – some of which I’ll definitely be getting some inspiration from. From the first day of Spring to golf and taxes Heidi covers it all. Get inspired for your spring blogging and promotions by checking out Heidi’s blog.

Over at Social Media Examiner Michael Stelzner sat down with the legendary Guy Kawasaki to talk about Why Major Marketers are Moving to Google+. During the interview Guy talks about why he believes Google+ is the Macintosh of today’s social media landscape. They also do a quick dive into Guy’s new book, What The Plus.

Copyblogger’s latest podcast, Internet Marketing for Smart People, features an interview with one of my favorite guys – Chris Brogan. During the interview Brogan discusses how he built his content platform. The interview also takes a look back at Chris’ career and how becoming an overnight success took several years. Combining Copyblogger and Chris Brogan is a recipe for a ton of inspiration so be sure to take a listen.

What sites, blogs or people inspired you this week?

Insurance Agent – Good Example of Relevant Content Marketing

Last week tornadoes rumbled through northern Alabama and for those who lived in the area this time last year, the memory of destruction and loss is still all too fresh. During April of 2011 hundreds of lives were lost and millions of dollars in damage occurred in just a couple of days. So, when the threat of storms show up on the local news emotions are on edge and anxiety runs high.

When our family moved to the area last year I was considering switching insurance providers and connected with a local Allstate insurance agent, Blake Wright.  In the end I chose not to make the switch but have kept in touch with Blake through his Facebook page and his email newsletter. He continually shares great content that educates and helps me. Last Friday as tornado warnings covered Northern Alabama Blake sent out a timely and relevant email to help prepare for the potential storms.

His email was brief and began with a call to find a safe and secure place in your home. He then presented ten action items in the event that your house or property was impacted by the storms. His closing was another call to be prepared along with his contact information. Blake is doing a great job of providing content I can use (even though I’m not his customer) and if I ever decide to make a switch with my insurance provider you can be sure Blake will be at the top of the list.

Here a few takeaways when it comes to content marketing, especially when done through email or social media:

  1. Consider the events and timing related to the release of your content. In the example above tornadoes were headed to town so the content needed to be brief and to the point. People who were worried their house may be flattened were not going to take time to read an e-book on tornado preparation.
  2. Always be relevant. Word count and page length don’t necessarily equal huge value – think Seth Godin’s daily blog, a load of wisdom shared in a few sentences.
  3. Keep planting seeds. As you continue to provide valuable content you will keep the attention of your prospects, stay on their mind and when they need what you have you will be first on their list.

How are you connecting with your prospect through content marketing?

 

This Week on the Rainey Radar

Radar ImageHere’s my weekly round-up of people, places and resources that inspired and energized me. In one way or another they each relate to integrated marketing, customer experience or leadership.

John Wall and Christopher Penn are the hosts of the Marketing Over Coffee podcast. Each podcast features their commentary on current trends and happenings within marketing, business, social media and more. They also interview some today’s leading voices.

Michael Hyatt launched his This is Your Life podcast this week. In the first episode he outlines the ten steps he’s developed in creating his highly trafficked and subscribed to blog. It’s an excellent primer for those new to blogging and a great reminder of some of the basics that need to happen with every blog post.

Great leaders are always learning – as the saying goes, “leaders are readers”. Today leaders aren’t just readers but they are listeners and watchers as well – continually soaking up great information to help them become even better at leading. Chris LoCurto has some great teaching on his blog and the Entreleadership podcast. Chris is a Vice President with Dave Ramsey’s company and provides some great insight and encouragement. He even retweeted a tweet of mine earlier this week!

Enjoy – let me know what you found that inspired you this week.

People and Places That Helped Me This Week

This week I found some great help and insight from the following sites.

You know you need to be doing a better job managing all of your social media outposts. If you are like me, having a checklist or a daily calendar you can refer to is a key to making things happen. Search Engine Watch provided some great ideas, tools and examples for developing a useful Social Media Calendar.

Social Media Examiner is one of my daily must read sites. They do an amazing job of pulling together some of the best resources from today’s best and brightest social media marketers. This week they featured a great post from Debbie Hemley26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts.

If you haven’t discovered Michael Hyatt and his Intentional Leadership blog you’ve been missing out. This week Michael had a great post on 3 Actions You Can Take Now to Shift Your Emotional State. If you strive to give your best day in and day out and love to go bed knowing you have given your all that day then this post from Michael is a must read.

Copyblogger always delivers! This week they fueled my copy writing juices through a great post called 10 Content Marketing Goals Worth Pursuing. Goal #1 is to build trust and rapport with your audience. I’ve talked about this topic in earlier posts and am passionate about it. The other 9 are important but I personally believe without number one the other nine won’t have the full impact of what you are trying to accomplish. Check out the article and be inspired!

Last but certainly not least is a post over at Social Mouths focused on Pinterest.Pin graphic on Social Mouths It’s a great crash course on the new social site that is on fire and gaining unbelievable traction. Digital Trends had an article this week that said, “According to a recent study conducted by Sharaholic, Pinterest drove more referral traffic to sites in January than Google+, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn and MySpace all combined”

Hope you will find inspiration, help and fuel from these sites this week!

And let me know if you’ve found a great blog or website this week.

Branding From the Inside Out: Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A is a great story of a brand that has been building itself from the inside out since it began. Truett Cathy opened “The Dwarf Grill” just outside of Atlanta in 1946 which has now grown to be the wildly popular and fast-growing chain that millions have come to know and love as Chick-Fil-A.

They have never strayed from their core values and beliefs which can be found from the top of the organization, to the owner/operators of the franchise stores to the friendly face taking your order at the drive-thru window. Rarely, if ever, will you find a Chick-Fil-A team member who doesn’t end their customer conversations with “My Pleasure”.  It’s their pleasure to have you visit their restaurant and to serve you quickly. Here’s a great interview that ABC News conducted with Dan Cathy, President and Chief Operation Officer that will give you great insight into how they have become who they are.

Not only does Chick-Fil-A put a tremendous amount of time, effort and resource into building their own brand from the inside out but they have a mission of helping our businesses. Each year, through the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast they equip and inspire leaders from around the world.Chick-Fil-A From the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast website they say, “The choices you make define the leader you become.  And the choices you make are not just about you. They’re about the positive impact you can have on your organization, your community, and beyond. Our world needs everyday leaders who will choose to make it a better place. That’s what Chick-fil-A Leadercast 2012 is all about.”

What’s been your observations of Chick-Fil-A? Have you experienced their brand?

Branding From the Inside Out: Whole Foods

Whole Foods is a great example of branding from the inside out. They are a $4.7 billion Fortune 500 company and one of the top 12 supermarket companies in America and the world’s largest natural foods retail chain. A couple of weeks ago they were named the National Retail Federation’s Retail Innovator of the Year which is further evidence as to why their efforts of branding from the inside out has worked so well. Whole Foods - Winston Salem location

A simple way to understand what it means to brand from the inside out is to look at it from the perspective of “the employees of the company practice what they preach.” The brand which is the vision, mission, purpose and core values of the company need to be found or built/trained into the DNA of those who are part of the company. From the top down everyone lives and breathes the brand.

Whole Foods brand starts at the top with John P. Mackey the Co-founder and CEO. As noted by the NRF, Mr. Mackey and his wife, Deborah, both practice meditation and yoga, and spend as much time as they can on their 720-acre ranch west of Austin. Mackey is a voracious book reader and participates in two monthly book clubs.

Each time you walk into a Whole Foods you experience a little bit of John Mackey through the employees that follow in his footsteps. But this doesn’t just happen automatically, building the brand from the inside out must be intentional and Whole Foods has a great program for helping instill their brand DNA into everyone. Check out their Declaration of Interdependence and Core Values for some great inspiration.

How do you or your company help develop your brand from the inside out?

 

 

Branding From the Inside Out

Colors, logos, fonts, packaging, sounds, smells – the list goes on when it comes to building a memorable brand. But for too long the most important part of the brand, the part that will literally make or break a company, has been overlooked. It has been an area tagged as a “resource” or even an “expense” instead of the lifeblood and energy of a brand. And what is this “part”? It’s the people who we work for and with.

From the top of the organization to those on the front lines each and everyone is an ambassador of the brand. And if the brand isn’t a part of each person, if the brand isn’t a part of who they are, it will come through to our customers. When our customers don’t see and feel the passion we have for the brand we represent we are on shaky ground.

Think about the brands you love and identify with. Then think about the people who work there and represent the company. Most likely your favorite brands are made up of people who love the brand, company and product as much if not more than you do.

This week I’m going to provide some examples of brands and company’s that I believe are setting the standard for what it means to “Be the brand” from the inside out.