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We’re Designed to Crave the Unexpected

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Patrick Bettenburg is currently working with d.trio as an Account Executive.

This month our word is Surprise and with Halloween around the corner, tricks, treats, and surprises are top of mind.  A recent blog reminded me of the value that the element of surprise is as a marketing strategy. Titled Why Surprise and Delight Marketing Really Works, it cites some serious research that proves the potential of this often overlooked marketing strategy.

Having always been fascinated by how the power of branding works in the human brain, this post affirmed to me that some of the best marketing is built on neuropsychology. This was proven in a study at Emory University and Baylor University that was published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR). Scientists studied the MRIs of subjects who were reacting to sequences of pleasurable stimuli. When the sequence was predictable, the level of enjoyment visible in the brain was less than when the sequence was unpredictable. The subjects whose stimulus was unpredictable registered the greatest pleasure in the brain, resulting in a stronger connection from the experience.

The HBR quoted Dr. Read Montague, professor of neuroscience at Baylor, stating that the results show that people are “designed to crave the unexpected”. People’s brains respond more when surprised, making it a very powerful tool for marketing. The surprise becomes a new stimulus that encourages learning and interest, and can make customers more receptive to new things, like upgrades and new products or services. And, that surprise can actually make a stronger connection in the brain with your brand.

For marketers this means that if we create campaigns that are not expected, but rather more of a pleasant surprise, we can build a stronger relationship with the customers. This is a golden ticket for loyalty marketing. Instead of ringing the same old chimes, try to create a connection that is unexpected.

We are seeing a lot of this trend in social media. Going viral is the new ‘word of mouth’ advertising, something that is surprising or unexpected gets repeated or retweeted. So surprise your customers in a delightful way and see how it might engage their brains or more importantly, their loyalty.

d.trio featured work: Japs-Olson Company

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Tasked with creating new sales material for Japs Olson printing company, d.trio jumped at the opportunity. We wanted to create something that balanced the strength and history of the company that also showcased their leading edge technology. We started with a campaign theme, “Print. Mail. Innovate.” We added a rich deep blue color to the campaign palate, and eliminated some of the more vibrant colors from the JO palette to create something upscale and full of rich tones. The components created include: an equipment list, a folder with pockets, a brochure and an outer wrap to hold samples and other collateral.

japs1

Invent some marketing, and boost your brand.

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Differentiating a brand is not for the weak of heart. Even established brands can find themselves struggling to create a blip on the sales meter. Too often, the competition is saying the same things you are, or somebody else is first, or says it louder, or – you get the idea. To create a little drama and stir things up, one of the most effective things you can do is invent your own marketing to advertise around. With the help of today’s social media outlets, this additional marketing push can be very compelling.

For example, some years ago, Radio Shack wanted to increase store traffic over the holidays, so they did a little research with women to learn their top ten most-wanted Christmas gifts. Then advertising was created to offer the list to any man who stopped by the store. Anyone who’s ever been desperate for gift ideas knows how tempting an offer like this can be.

To build some advertising buzz, The Toro Company decided to pull a stunt that had more to do with mowing down the competition than with cutting grass. They entered one of their riding lawn mowers in the Baja 500 off-road race in Mexico. In addition to the instant PR created by the spectacle of a lawn tractor rider suited up in full racing gear, the stunt generated a huge amount of additional free press and buzz around the brand. They didn’t win the race, but they sure won the competition for something to talk about in their advertising.

Even in the financial services category, where sameness can be a big hurdle, some invented marketing can overcome advertising inertia. One Australian Bank staged a series of “Honesty Experiments” to promote the honest nature of its credit card business. These included dropping wallets around for people to find, giving people incorrect change and letting money slip from actors’ pockets. Capturing the typically honest response from the Australian public gave the bank plenty of advertising material to work with in both traditional and social media.

Not to be mistaken with cause marketing, invented marketing can be small and episodic, and it can be created to support your chief brand strategy or a business initiative with a shorter life span. Either way, inventing something to talk about that’s uniquely yours can take you a long way toward being different in a branding landscape that’s often filled with too much similarity.

Brand Reinvention

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Reinventing a brand is a delicate science. It requires careful consideration of current brand perceptions along brand aspirations for the future. The most successful rebrands are rooted in truth (e.g., “are audiences perceptions in step with how we are positioning ourselves?”) In order to get to that truth, you must ask a few key questions when beginning to reinvent your brand:

1. How have audiences’ perceptions of your brand changed?
First place to start in any re-brand initiative is to deep dive into your audience perceptions of the brand. Just like people, brands adapt and change with the times and can mean different things to different generations.

Begin by prioritizing your audiences, revisiting your segment profile details, and redefining these individuals and their motivations. Following that initial audience definition work, conduct primary research including focus groups, online surveys, ethnographic studies, and other qualitative methods to learn about current brand perceptions. Develop a brand audit report that summarizes qualitative research and synthesizes “then vs. now” attitudes towards the brand.

2. How has the marketplace changed?
Since your last branding initiative, how has the market changed? More/less industry regulation? New product/service alternatives? Market oversaturation leading to more competitive pricing?
Conduct an audit of the marketplace through secondary research sources such as Mintel or Iconoculture. Determine how the marketplace has shifted from your last branding initiative. Hopefully, this also leads to hypotheses on where the market may shift next, allowing you to incorporate forward-thinking components into your brand work.

3. Have competitors repositioned themselves?
Similar to the market assessment, dive into your competitor branding work and develop a comprehensive grid. This competitive grid should include articulated brand position statement, tone/voice, main “reasons to believe” their brand position, and other specific brand traits to your industry. This is the time to re-evaluate whether a competitor is still in direct competition with your offerings or if they have focused on a different audience.

Because branding initiatives take time and thoughtful consideration, it’s crucial to start by answering these three questions before beginning a rebrand exercise.

-Jordan Bainer is a senior account executive at d.trio marketing group

Social Media: Brands Celebrate Newsworthy Events

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With social media’s ever-growing influence over the past decade, brands have been able to more quickly align themselves to major news events or human accomplishments than possible in the past. Using social channels and digital advertising, brands can reach the masses almost immediately after a relevant news story breaks.

For example, when the lights went out at the SuperBowl earlier this year, Oreo made a deliberate and brilliant move to link the brand back to the Twitter trending topic.  Posting on their Twitter page, “You can still dunk in the dark”, they reached the SuperBowl audience with a relevant and pithy message in real time. This was a simple and inexpensive tactic, generating a great deal of awareness on the social channel and also positive PR. Plus, Oreo was able to generate comparable buzz without spending a dime on media fees.

Most recently with the repeal of DOMA, numerous marketers have utilized brand imagery to support their viewpoint and align themselves to social change. For example, Kraft’s Grey Poupon altered their classic scene of two wealthy gentlemen sharing mustard into a simple, straightforward message of acceptance. Implying their support of the decision, Poupon and its ad has generated much discussion and attention on its Facebook page along with praise from the industry and public news outlets.

These successful examples were possible through trusting relationships between agencies and their clients. Without this trust, the element of surprise would be impossible and the message would be stale and lagged.

 

Images are copyright of their originators. Images here obtained from:

http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/digital-marketers-jump-doma-decision-150759

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/oreos-super-bowl-tweet-dunk-dark_n_2615333.html

 

-Jordan Bainer is a senior account executive at d.trio marketing group

What does your social media activity reveal about you?

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We engage our friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, and random strangers on a daily basis. With the merger of social media into our day-to-day lives, marketers now have vast amounts of data to determine the influence of individuals. What does all that interaction say about you?

Klout measures all your activity across multiple social media outlets to generate a score that they equate to influence. Some companies have been known to review a job candidates Klout score before making hiring decisions.

PROskore and Kred are similar to Klout but use slightly different methodologies to measure and report social media influence.

So, what category are you? Socializer, Taste Maker, Feeder? Sign up for a Klout account and find out.

 

http://klout.com

http://corp.klout.com/blog/2010/08/better-know-the-klout-classes/

http://readwrite.com/2012/10/24/beyond-klout-better-ways-to-measure-social-media-influence

 

The Klout logo is ©Klout, Inc

 

-Jordan Bainer is a senior account executive at d.trio marketing group

Cage Match: Bloody Mary

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If you know us you know that we have opinions. Well, what you might not know is that we don’t always agree. And sometimes it gets a little heated. After a recent argument over the vital stats of the perfect bloody mary, we decided to give ourselves room to vent in public. Presenting the Cage Match series. An occasional video posting of various d.trio team members squaring off about the little things we find to argue over. We hope you are entertained and if you’d like to give us your opinions go right ahead and comment, or let us know on our Facebook page.

So here goes the first entry of what we hope will be many: d.trio Cage Match: Bloody Mary (link for mobile users)

Outrageous Marketing That Paid Off

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Sometimes, marketing campaigns break the rules and go against conventional knowledge in order to make a point or build awareness. Since this month’s theme is all about “outrageous ideas”, what better way to celebrate that theme by talking about risky marketing tactics that paid off?

Doritos Crowdsources It’s Advertising
Back in 2007, social media was become more and more pervasive in peoples’ lives. Doritos decided to hand over control of their Super Bowl TV ad creative to consumers who submitted 30-second spots. Doritos asked the world to rate those submitted ideas and then aired the winning entry.

Why Risky?
Super Bowl ad space runs between $3 and $4 million for a 30 second spot. Turning over creative control to consumers could have been a very costly social experiment.

Why Successful?
Doritos has developed a niche for itself in future Super Bowl ads and has since continued to tap into their consumers for funny, engaging TV spots.
http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/liodice-ten-big-marketing-risks-paid-brands/143873/

Dominos Says “We Stink”
In 2010, Dominos came out with a campaign telling the world that the old Dominos was dead and gone and there was a new Dominos in town. Instead of focusing only on the good, they admitted their past faults in specific ways, calling their old pizza crust “cardboard” and pizza sauce “ketchup”.

Why Risky?
You risk alienating your brand advocates by calling your past product faulty and you may dissuade future customers from trying your product.

Why Successful?
Sales soared nearly 15% after the new recipes debuted and the campaign started. Many people commended Dominos for their honesty and forthcoming communications.
http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/burns-on-business/2010/05/dominos-we-stink-strategy-pays-off.html

What outrageous, risky campaigns do you think paid off for the marketer?

 

-Jordan Bainer is a senior account executive at d.trio marketing group

What’s Make a Campaign Fresh?

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We’ve all heard the adage “there are no new ideas; there are only new ways of making them felt.”  Whether it’s true or not, we all face the daily challenge of finding unique and compelling ways of getting our message, and our clients’ message, noticed.

What makes an idea or advertising campaign fresh? What distinct elements are essential to create a unique and effective campaign? Below are a few questions that we ask ourselves as a group when thinking about campaigns:

  1. Does the customer easily connect the campaign to the brand? Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  If the campaign or marketing effort seems to be disjointed from the brand personality, it could cause some major confusion among prospective customers. RedBull’s Stratos is an excellent example of a brand relevant campaign: sponsorship of a high-flying event by a brand that gives you wings.
  2. Can competitors say the same thing? Connecting back to item #1, is the campaign distinct enough from competitors?  Even if competitors have similar product attributes and benefits, you have to find a way to illustrate a unique brand promise.
  3. Does the core campaign idea approach a problem or need in a unique way? It’s very easy and simple to rattle off product attributes in communications. The challenge is illustrating a solution without overtly mentioning it. Google’s Chrome campaign from 2012 illustrates the product benefits through emotional stories. As a viewer, you’re noticing the browser’s benefits without being told to.
  4. Does the customer need to make a leap to understand the core product benefits? If yes, then you may have lost whatever power you tried to wield with a flashy message. Sure, the customer has taken notice, but there won’t a clear understanding of what you’re actually selling.
  5. Does the campaign have stopping power? On the flipside, great campaigns stop people in their tracks and make them give a second thought. Clear and easily understood messages need to also be rooted in creativity.

Please remember that even if a campaign fits these criteria, there is always the chance that a campaign can royally miss the mark, ehem…Burger King.

 

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/technology/google-hones-its-advertising-message-playing-to-emotions.html

http://adage.com/article/news/fast-food-crispin-s-bk-work-gain-mcd-s/137472/

 

Fresh month, fresh theme.

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As you may have gathered by now, we choose a new word for each month to focus our content around. Our monthly newsletter features, blog post, and other social media chatter relate back to that word in some way and we change out assorted graphics in our websphere to compliment (email header, web page banner, Facebook profile image). This monthly switch presents an interesting design opportunity for me and to start our new month, I thought I’d walk you through the thought process.

So, this month’s word is FRESH. We chose these words a few months ago when we came up with the idea of using a particular word to focus content. Had I been able to I would have designed the year’s worth of assets already and had them ready to deploy. However, I have actual client work to do so I usually end up putting these together as we go. Of course, the first thing that came to mind when faced with the word Fresh was something green and botanical in nature. Our brand guidelines require that the images we use to represent ourselves be striking, colorful and somewhat unexpected and I just couldn’t find a sprouting plant image that spoke to me on those levels. I turned to water next, playing with the idea of fresh, clean, sparkling, sometimes overwhelming, all encompassing. The image I settled on has movement, great color and visual interest, fits well with our color palette and accommodates having large text set over it, which is another feature of our brand images. It will also lend itself to use in multiple configurations.

We have an extensive color palette, primarily made up of what I call ‘candy’ colors, bright, vibrant, often somewhat loud. The yellow-green is one of my favorites and I decided to use it because it compliments the blue of the water and doesn’t get lost in it. Our bright cyan blue would have been another reasonable choice, but I used it last month on the Attention graphics and didn’t want to repeat it so soon.

Those are the variables that generally go into creating a graphic: visual association with the content, framing, color, flexibility, and brand ideals. Then there is client (in this case boss) buy in. Hint: it’s easier to get sign-off if they are going on vacation the next day. 🙂

See you next month!