Think Brand Consistency for 2020

It’s December, which means a new year will begin soon. As your company begins planning, take the time to discuss where your brand is (not just your company’s billings). Your brand affects all aspects of what marketers call the marketing mix – product/service, price, placement and promotion.  Here are some talking points and examples to help you stay on track and think brand consistency in 2020!

four_principles_of_the_markProduct/Service:

What are you selling to your clients? Does this line up with your firm’s values?

  • Make sure your company is clear on the product and which values it reflects back on your company. If they don’t line up, there is a problem.
  • For example: Volvo doesn’t JUST sell a transportation vehicle to its customers, it sells safety and reliability, which are values reflected in their marketing efforts.

Price:

What does the price of your product say about your business? What kind of customers are you looking to attract, and how does the price play into that?

  • Generally, a product can be two of three things: fast, inexpensive or high quality. If your values are efficiency, make sure your price reflects that… you’ll get it done fast and effectively, but you’ll be more expensive (or you’ll produce a less expensive item that requires less expensive materials).
  • For example: Walmart prices items very low to gain many customers and make more money. The value for Walmart customers is not in the experience; it’s in the low prices. Target, in contrast, prices their items a little higher, but includes fashion-forward and more associates around the store that can assist customers, placing more emphasis on efficiency and the quality. While this example may focus on B2C firms, the concept applies to all industries.

Placement:

Where do you want to place your physical product? Do you want to use a sales force? What will your distribution channels be?

  • This is where promotional items and brochures come in. If you don’t offer a physical product, make sure information is readily available and place it accordingly.

Promotion:

Where do you want potential customers to see the services you offer? Do you want potential customers to hear about you from editorial pieces, or from traditional advertisements?

  • The editorial route will focus more on PR and is an approach that takes advantage of word-of-mouth; advertising allows firms to seamlessly integrate a brand’s look with their message. There are pros and cons to each.
  • For example: Run Thru The Woods advertises in the local newspapers and running publications because the executives want to target the public in our area that is active and therefore more likely to participate in physical activity on a holiday.

As you can see, brand consistency is more complex than simply slapping your logo on everything, so talk to us if you need help figuring out how to execute the values of your brand. Our goal is to make sure you’re concentrating all aspects of your brand’s marketing efforts effectively and consistently in 2020.

While you’re at it, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on LinkedIn to be a part of the conversation.

Websites and Branding

apple computer desk laptop

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Your company’s online presence is a necessity for success. An understanding of online marketing is key to boosting your business. It all starts with your website.

 

A great website is created with an understanding that:

  • It needs to be functional and easy to use. If you can barely navigate your way through your website, chances are your customers can’t at all.
  • All content needs to be relevant and valuable to your customers. Don’t let your website become too dated or lacking fresh content. Keep up with it and reap the rewards.
  • Communication with your customers is key. Show them your portfolios or post customer success stories. Potential customers want to know they are signing up for a company that’s reliable and professional to their current customers.

 

Your company’s website also needs to be created with the idea of uniqueness in mind. Stand out and be bold. Ask yourself: What do your customers want to see when they see your website? How will they use and navigate through your site?

 

Make sure you maintain consistent branding throughout your online presence as well. If you don’t fully know what defines your brand, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • What makes your company valuable to customers?
  • What is your company’s philosophy?
  • What sets you apart?
  • What kind of customers do you want to have?
  • How can you use your website to showcase your company’s abilities?

 

In order to effectively communicate to your customers, build up your website around your brand.

 

There is no one thing to have on a website to make it successful. Make your online presence unique and creative. Always convey your company’s abilities in the best light possible and remember it’s not just who your company is – but how your uniqueness can serve your customers the best.


LJF Marketing is a full-service marketing communications company that is fully equipped to help you create and enhance your company image. Since 1989, we have been developing innovative marketing strategies, graphics, web development and advertising campaigns to help companies like yours grow to exceed expectations.

 

Allow LJF Marketing to conceptualize IDEAS for your website. It’s our business to grow your business and we love what we do!

 

Visit http://www.ljfmarketing.com/web.htm to see examples of our satisfied client’s websites and more.

Putting “Public” Back in Public Relations

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When your public relations plan is considered, it’s important to recognize different facets of public relations – public speaking, press releases, social media and crisis management, to name a few. However, it is even more crucial to define your “public” before your company tries to relate to them. With your public in mind, your public relations strategy will yield greater results, because they will find the information you provide useful.

To have a complete profile of your public, you simply need to understand the following questions about your target market:

  • Who?:
    Who do you need to be targeting? Decide which demographics your ideal client falls within; if you already have your ideal clients, define their similarities, so you can gain more like them. Below is a list of several qualities to consider (don’t limit yourselves to only these, though):
    –  Age
    –  Gender
    –  Education level
    –  Field/business practice
    –  Cultural/ethnic background
  • What?:
    What are they interested in? What is their story? Given that you now have an idea of what type of business they own and what their background is, brainstorm what items of news likely appeal to them. If I target potential male clients with some form of post-graduate education that own B2B-focused businesses, the following news pieces would likely get their attention:
    –  A LinkedIn post for a business-related skill that can better them
    –  An article in their trade publication about what problem is solved by my company’s new product
    –  A presentation at a Chamber of Commerce on your personal insight into issues that affect the local market
  • When?:
    When do they read the media you are considering (if they read it at all)? Take our client from the previous example – do you think that client would be on Pinterest? Do you also think they will be likely to read something that is posted at midnight, or attend an event later in the evening? Probably not, so tailor when you send the info accordingly.
  • Where?:
    Where are they concentrated in? Suburbia? The big city? If you want to target the well-educated businessman, they could be concentrated in both geographic areas, which means you will need to tailor your message to specific issues affecting them.
  • Why?:
    Why do the do what they do/why are they motivated? Your messages need to tap into these factors. If you’re not apparently trying to help them fulfill their goals more effectively, the value in your PR efforts will be missed. Some  very common motivators are:
    –  Making more money
    –  Helping other people achieve success

Take the time to figure out who your public is and what makes them tick. Pick your media and your messages accordingly to leverage your public relations potential. Contact us if you would like some guidance through the process, or just need someone to implement the message.

You can get in touch through whichever means is best for you – like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on LinkedIn.

Marketing Research Done Right – Getting to Know Your Audience

audience

When you are thinking of conducting market research for your company, it’s important to do it the right way. You may think back to the hours you spent on research projects in college and high school. In my youth, I thought I would never use that stuff again! However, the steps you took then will help you conduct successful market research now. Luckily, if you have social media outlets, some of this can be done yourself!

Follow the steps to get to know your audience in a whole new way.
*For the purposes of this blog post, pretend I am a women’s boutique owner in a college town. This is a completely hypothetical situation.

  • Step 1 – Identify a problem. Say that I end up putting a lot of things on sale at the end of each month and losing money.
    Example problem: Everything ends up on sale.
  • Step 2 – Choose your topic. You’re not trying to solve a problem here (though market research can have that positive side effect). Pick something general you want to find out about your market that may relate to your problem.
    Example topic: College students’ spending habits
  • Step 3 – Find basic information. While basic trends and common knowledge come from some parts of the truth, don’t simply rely on stereotypes; having a general understanding of your target audience is an essential foundation that will help you move into deeper subject matter. Wikipedia can be a good place to start for finding basic information.
    Example info: College students use Facebook a lot. Some students also have a lot of discretionary income from their parents, but most live on a budget.
  • Step 4 – Refine your topic. What is unique to your market but still relates to other markets? This part is where you narrow your search to make sure you actually get relevant information. You should also decide whether you want qualitative or quantitative information.
    Example: College students’ spending habits/budgets for clothes in Texas
  • Step 5 – Conduct research. Using relevant sources (i.e. sources with more credibility than Wikipedia) find information and studies on your refined topic. You can also do customer surveys through Facebook, conduct focus groups, etc. depending on if you want qualitative data. Make sure you are consistent in your research approach in whatever you decide. Take notes on your findings.
  • Step 6 – Summarize your findings.
    Example: Female college students spend 25% of their money on clothes. The average amount of extra money college students have is $500/month.
  • Step 7 – Apply and assess implications to your business.
    Example: Since most female college students are on a budget of some sort, it might be worth it to offer a wide variety of items that vary in price points. This would accommodate the needs of smaller and larger budgets.

We also found another great article that can be a vital resource for you in this process.

Remember: we’re here for all of your marketing needs. Contact us if you have any questions.


 

Founded in 1989 by Linda Freede, areas of expertise provided by LJF Marketing include public relations, graphic design, media planning, web page development, corporate branding, corporate specialty logo products and social media planning and support.

LJF Marketing provides full-service marketing communications support, serving local, national and international clients within a variety of industries. For more information, visit www.ljfmarketing.com or call 281-367-3922

Mix it Up: Creating the Best Content for Your Audience

In our recent social media posts, we referenced Bill Gates’ article from 1996 about how content would be definitive of a brand’s success on the Internet. We think he was right.

But do you know what defines quality content, or how to create it?

Quality content is content that engages users. On social media, the most measurable way to see that is through viewing the number of likes, comments, retweets, or shares generated by a post. There are ways to view the number of clicks a link receives as well. If content is resonating with the people you target, you’ll see higher numbers.

Creating content doesn’t always mean generating it – a better phrase for creating quality content is curating quality content. Your content can be articles that you like, some business-related and some that reflect the personality of your business. It can be pictures from company events. It can even be current event-related, if that’s what you suspect your target is interested in. A few guidelines though:

  1. Content plans should be unique to your business and should reflect a personality. Define what that is before you create your content.
  2. They should be a mix of different media and topics. This is where mixing it up comes in. In general, people use social media for live updates, so it’s wise to provide new information with every post; you can discuss the same topic a few times, but you should be shedding new light on it. The same old stuff gets, quite frankly, boring, so avoid reusing it (even though you would want to do that in other forms of advertising).
  3. Your target audience should reflect what you post. LJF Marketing wants to target people who need marketing expertise, so we try to provide some of that for them. A daycare would post information relevant to parents and even single parents, more specifically.

Follow these guidelines and you will be on your way to social media success.

… And while we’re at it, is there a content type you prefer to see? If you really like something, let us know by following us and commenting through one of the many media available to you: Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

PR is Presence in the Community

We may use our Facebook often, but, as we’ve established, public relations is much more than just using Facebook; social media is one small part of public relations that influences a brand’s identity, so Facebook has an even smaller scope of impact.

Think of it in terms of yourself – if you have big news, you would probably make a phone call to your friends and family first. After letting the information dissipate to your business colleagues, you would put the news out on your social media outlets. Generally, you will not put the word out on Facebook before your closest confidants know your news.

That’s where having a presence in the community comes in.

Is your company involved in giving back to the community? Do you attend events and functions for your local chamber of commerce? Have you built your network to its full potential and has your network had the opportunity to see what you’re passionate about?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your business is likely missing out on an important piece of its identity – you! Our recommendation is to get involved in some aspect of your workplace’s community because you are the face of your business.

Reasons to get involved:

  • Share your individual passion
    Becoming involved will allow you to make contacts and work as a team on projects with people who have different personalities and backgrounds. These undertakings allow you to share experiences in ways that are not possible during a regular day at the office. Your business relationships will quickly grow deeper and will likely result in long-term opportunities.
  • Brand recognition and awareness
    When you make acquaintances at events, people start recognizing your name and company; essentially, this can have the same effect as advertising but with more personal touch. When people view your business as represented by a person, rather than a faceless entity, they are more likely to do business with you.
  • Enhance brand image
    If your company sponsors an event or charitable cause, attendees will again, notice your name. In business terms, this is a win-win situation, because not only are you sponsoring something you are passionate about, but attendees will think of you as a company willing to support a good cause and be involved in the community outside of the business.
  • Put a face with a name
    It’s simply nice to be able to put a face with a name of a person whose company you’ve always heard of. Making this irreplaceable human connection is a good reminder that companies have human beings who happen to work for them. There is comfort in knowing the faces that exist beyond the Facebook page.

Once you develop contacts through community involvement, you will find yourself with individuals who support your business and WANT to hear when big things happen.

Any questions? Ask and we’ll answer below.


LJF Marketing has in-house design capabilities and printing options, so please contact us if you’re interested in tailoring any of the above sales collateral to your company’s unique vision.

In House Vs. Agency Marketing – Which one is for you?

flat lay photography of macbook pro beside paper

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So your business has grown (or you’re just now starting!) and you’re in decision mode: In-House marketing or partnering with an agency/firm?

There are many positive factors to both. In-house marketing involves people who work directly for and exclusively with your company. It may consist of one person, or even a team that your company hires. As for an agency, they have specific expert employees who each usually specialize in different areas – public relations, digital marketing, graphic design, etc.

Both have qualities that can be very beneficial to your business. Here are some criteria that will help you choose which one might work the best for you.

Let’s look at their skillsets.

In-house marketing employees are paid to work for your business only. They understand your brand through and through due to direct training and are handpicked by your company. However, it’s difficult to find an in-house marketing person who is adept at all aspects of marketing.

Agency-wise, first you research and ask for referrals. They then need to be introduced to your business and brand and make sure they are the correct fit. For agencies, there are usually a good amount of multi-skilled employees who have worked in their respective fields, allowing for more diverse skillsets.

If only one marketing aspect needs to be managed, consider an in-house marketing team for your business. But for a company who plans on expanding or growing, marketing in only one aspect is rare so an agency might be a better fit.

Next, let’s look at the two from a creative perspective.

Some consider creativity to be in-house marketing’s downfall. There tends to be less creativity in a team that solely works for you and your brand. However in-house marketers do have a great understanding of how to combat your direct competitors.

As for an agency, they work with multiple clients that could be in very diverse areas. There is a lot of change and diversity creativity-wise that they have to produce. This exposure to different ideas can help generate creative ideas for your business.

Both can be useful for your business. If you find that your in-house team is in a rut, choose an agency. If you feel that you are confident in your in-house team, keep them on the project.

Then, let’s look at cost.

In-house marketing consists of marketing management that you hire. For example, consider the cost of salary when hiring one manager, or multiple marketing specialists full time. The cost of each campaign will depend entirely on your marketing needs. Crunch your numbers before making a decision.

It may seem less expensive to hire a single, on-hand employee for your marketing strategy, but expect a long hiring process, training, and guaranteeing that a person fits properly over a set period of time. Aside from salary, you will be budgeting for office space, benefits, computers, and programs they may need as well as training for those programs.

A marketing agency has a pre-set, and negotiable price in place when it comes to your campaigns. An agency pays for its own software, tools, tech, and training, which cuts any extra costs on your end. It may seem like more up front, but it might be less expensive for your business in the long run.

So which to choose?

Break down your goals and your needs to help you figure out whether to go with in-house marketing or a marketing agency.

If you’re still unsure about which path to take or just have questions about marketing agencies in general, ask us here at LJF Marketing! We have been serving our community for 30 years and are professionals when it comes to PR, Marketing, Advertising, Design, and more.

LJF Marketing is a full-service marketing communications company that is fully equipped since 1989 to help you create and enhance your company image. Through innovative marketing strategies, graphics, web development and advertising campaigns, your company can grow to exceed your ambitions.

 

Allow LJF Marketing to conceptualize IDEAS for your campaign. It’s our business to grow your business and we love what we do!

 

Essentials For A Well Stocked Sales Kit

Whether your ideal clients are large or small, consumers or businesses, a lasting impression is required to seal the deal. While you may think a Word doc printed on the company copier is a great tool for your sales team to use – think again. An equipped salesperson needs the added credibility of a professional looking company; quite frankly, a Word document won’t give them an edge.

 

Let’s look at it from another angle. How likely would you be to hire a candidate who didn’t wear a pressed suit or outfit to an interview, and then handed you a wrinkled resume to review? Of course, it’s highly unlikely they’d get the job.

 

A well-stocked sales kit is your company’s interview attire. It allows your salesperson to put their best foot forward.

 

Here’s what you need to button up your sales team before you even send them out.

 

Business Card – This is most essential component. It’s your salesperson’s best asset. Get business cards before you do anything else. Make sure to include all forms of contact – including all social media information.

Pocket Folder – Busy people often lose things. Make it easy for your clients to find all the information they need to know about you with a pocket folder.

Brochure – Repeat after me: I will not use Microsoft Word to create my brochure. A graphic designer will create a custom and unique brochure with room for a bio, list of products/services offered, contact info and anything else that’s important to you. Have it professionally printed. You’ll likely get more results if you take time to present your customers an informative and visually appealing representation of your company.

Case Studies – These go in your pocket folder, with your brochure. They are the evidence behind everything the salesperson is saying and are a useful reference during a meeting if there are specific questions. A client list may also be included.

Product Sell Sheets – Perfect to shed more light on your specific product offerings, inserts can be, well, inserted based on which products your client might be interested in. That is, they make it easy to give them the necessary information, but give you the flexibility to choose which products to spend time discussing. This way, there’s less of an overwhelming amount of information and more discussion.

Your Story – Connecting to your client is key to effective communication. Include the history behind your business, where the idea came from, or interesting details that make your story personal, relatable, and honest. This will help with helping your client feel more connected to you and your company.

 


 

LJF Marketing has in-house design capabilities and printing options, so please contact us if you’re interested in tailoring any of the above sales collateral to your company’s unique vision.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Meeting with LJF Marketing

LJF Marketing wants to get to know you and your company, and as an experienced full-service marketing company, understanding your company’s objective and branding from your perspective is key to success!

Before meeting with us one-on-one, review these questions and answer them to help you convey your thoughts to us so that we can help you as efficiently as possible.

  1. Why are you interested in advertising/marketing? Is it to:
    1. Generate sales
    2. Introduce new products/services
    3. Outreach to existing customers
    4. Learning/teaching
    5. Increase awareness of your company/product
  2. What is your message? What message do you want to communicate in the first 3 seconds a visitor sees your website/ad/brand?
  3. What will attract an audience to your company/products?
    1. Public relations in news/publicity
    2. Place-based promotion – events, displays, sponsor booths, other live presentations
    3. Giveaway item/offer that will draw attention to your company/brand/products
    4. Brand recognition of product/service
    5. Design and graphics
  4. What is the brand image you wish to project?
    1. Examples – Conservative, Leading Edge, Contemporary, High-tech, Progressive, High-style, Established Values, etc.
  5. Will you need one time only marketing or use it long term? If so, what intervals?
  6. What are your competitive advantages?
  7. What kind of venues for placement? Where specifically for each?
    1. Online?
    2. Newspaper?
    3. Magazine?
    4. TV/Radio?
    5. Outdoor?
    6. Email/Blog/Newsletter?
    7. Press release?
    8. Direct Mail?
    9. Social media

Answering these questions will help us to help your business grow and prosper!

We appreciate your interest and look forward to working with you.

 

 

Founded in 1989 by Linda Freede, areas of expertise provided by LJF Marketing include public relations, graphic design, media planning, web page development, corporate branding, corporate specialty logo products and social media planning and support.

LJF Marketing provides full-service marketing communications support, serving local, national and international clients within a variety of industries. For more information, visit www.ljfmarketing.com or call 281-367-3922.