More people are working remotely. More people are embracing video and collaboration tools. More people are shopping online. More people are using pickup and delivery services. More people are using their mobile devices for all these things.

The pandemic certainly has accelerated shifts in behavior at work and at home. For many businesses and organizations, these shifts demand a serious rethinking of how and where they connect with prospects and clients to drive growth.

That doesn’t mean, however, that basic marketing principles should change to achieve success.

With so many companies considering a brand and marketing refresh as we enter a post-pandemic world, we’ve asked chamber members in the marketing field to share their perspectives in their areas of expertise. We hope you’ll be able to apply these insights to inform your decision-making process and implement strategies that allow you to flourish!

Tom McManimon
Founder & President, StimulusBrand Communications
Author, The Position Player

With the constraints and challenges brought on by Covid over these last two-plus years, we face a continually evolving landscape in how we conduct business, attract customers, and succeed.

Right now, the window of opportunity seems to be opening, even if just a crack. More business leaders are circling back to their marketing and asking, “Do I need to freshen things up? Should I rebrand? How can I stimulate new activity?”

Before creating new graphics, messaging, or promo materials, it’s a good time to refocus on your culture (which really IS your brand) and what you do to draw customers to YOU over anybody else.

Understanding the Value of Surprise and Delight

A “surprise and delight” approach that delivers that extra level of service and targets people who notice (and talk about you) can turn your biggest potential detractors into your most vocal supporters.

“Surprise and delight” is about creating a culture in which the extra mile is always the goal, creating meaningful, high-touch customer experiences. Loyalty is won by going above and beyond — not only by meeting service needs, but also by exceeding them.

Take the time to do little things that people will find remarkable, and you will both surprise and delight them every single time.

As Bonnie Raitt would attest, “Give them something to talk about.”

To contact Tom McManimon, call 609-538-1126 or email tom@stimulusbrand.com.

 

Erin Klebaur
President, Imbue Creative

The past two years have highlighted the need to be adaptable – and your marketing plan should be no different. These four steps will ensure your brand has strong foundations to build a lasting impact.

1) Identify Your Ideal Customer (Persona Development)

Go beyond the basics to define your ideal prospects as real people with real needs. What are their common behaviors, goals, and pain points? How do they consume information? What do they value most? Understanding what motivates them allows you to better serve their needs.

2) Strengthen Your Brand and Message

Keeping your buyer personas in mind, answer these questions:

  • Is your visual branding appealing?
  • Does your messaging support your prospects’ goals, values, and needs?
  • Are you creating a memorable brand experience?

Infuse these insights into your brand and messaging and update all marketing assets as needed!

3) Build a Multi-Channel Strategy

If you rely solely on one platform, you may run into issues that are out of your control, like the Meta outage last year that took down Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp.

With consumers receiving more notifications than ever, a multi-channel strategy will help you stand out and be heard. Focus your efforts on channels where your ideal prospects spend the most time and consume information!

4) Flesh Out Your Sales Funnels

Would your ideal prospect prefer to speak with someone or research on their own? How can you streamline your process and develop content that supports your customers’ journey? Once you’ve optimized your sales funnel, you can use paid advertising (Google, programmatic display, social media, etc.) to fill the top of your funnel with qualified leads.

To contact Erin Klebaur, call 609-963-4004 or email eklebaur@imbuecreative.com.

 

Scott McKelvey
President and Writer, Scott McKelvey Copywriting & Marketing

It’s easy to get bogged down with products and services. Features and benefits. Qualifications and accomplishments. When rethinking brand messaging, we tend to overload on facts and “selling points.”

What many organizations gloss over is their own story.

The Business Case for Telling Your Story

People who base their purchase decisions on price probably won’t care about your story. They’ll also be your least loyal clients.

Your ideal clients – those interested in long-term relationships – want to get to know you better. They want to find out who you are as a business. They want to see if your values and priorities match theirs.

Some competitors are offering similar products and services at similar prices, following a similar business model, and delivering a similar level of service.

Your story is completely your own.

When all other things are seemingly equal, an authentic story could be the differentiator that causes someone to choose you over the competition.

The Storytelling Process: Less Facts, More Feels

Forget about marketing. Don’t worry about finding the perfect words. That’ll come later. Just say what you feel.

Talk about the experiences and beliefs that shaped your business. Make people feel good about your company. Make them feel like you “get” them. Prove that your organization is made up of trustworthy people who can and want to help them.

As you craft your story, focus on people, not products. Connecting, not selling. Feels, not facts.

That’s how you make a connection!

To contact Scott McKelvey, call 908-907-0031 or email info@scottmckelvey.com.

 

Gail Rose
Co-Founder and Managing Director, Ananta Creative

Before you refresh your marketing, especially during period of sustained uncertainty, ask yourself a simple but not-so-simple question… why? Then you can determine how deep to go and where to focus your energies.

Refresh With Purpose

Are you looking to refresh or rebrand because you’re following a trend, or do you really have something new to say? Do you have new leadership, new products, or a new philosophy? Is your look outdated? Is your messaging not as relevant as it was five, 10, or 20 years ago?

If you have a strong, successful brand identity, enter the process carefully and make sure the purpose of a refresh is clear and the timing is right. Change for the sake of change without a firm understanding of what you’re trying to achieve can be a costly mistake.

Fundamentals First

When going through the process of refreshing your marketing, prioritize the basics above all else.

Make sure your website is responsive, secure, and ADA-compliant (businesses with 15 or more employees must meet ADA accessibility requirements). Your website should also have the features and functionality that your business requires and your clients demand.

If upgrades are needed in these areas, consider the cost of updating/refreshing your current website versus building a new one. Putting a fresh coat of paint on a structurally unsound building is a short-term fix that will eventually require a long-term solution.

Always evaluate and reinforce the foundation first to ensure it can support a marketing refresh!

To contact Gail Rose, call 215-962-8810 or email gail@anantacreativegroup.com.

 

Brian Hasenkamp
Principal Strategist and Advisor, Asenka Interactive

Tracking is the less glamorous side of marketing but essential to success. Consider these three steps your keys to flourishing.

1) Plan

 Clarify what a good lead looks like for each of your markets, how you expect them to find you, and what you want them to do next. Consider words they might search on Google, competition for those words, how you lead people down a conversion path, and what information you ask them to provide (the less the better).

2) Track

Now you can see if your assumptions were right! Google Analytics allows you to track behavior and set up specific goals for each action you care about, like form submission, download, or sale. Tools like CallRail are great for tracking phone calls. Analytics enable you to connect marketing dollars to leads and leads to sales, quantify the cost and quality of leads, and measure ROI.

3) Review and Refine

Are your marketing dollars well-spent? There’s no shame in a campaign not working, as long as you learn and refine. For example, if too few visitors follow the conversion path, you might have to go back to step one and plan a different approach. If things are going as planned until checkout, you might only need to increase the incentive to complete that step.

The longer you repeat this cycle, the more you’ll learn about your marketing, your audience, and market trends so you can stay one step ahead of your competition!

To contact Brian Hasenkamp, call 609-249-2700 or email brian@asenka.com.

 

The consensus among the marketing professionals who contributed to this article is clear. While certain behaviors, preferences, and priorities may have changed, the tried-and-true marketing principles used to connect brands and audiences and measure effectiveness have not.

Every organization should review not only its marketing and branding, but also its culture and operations. Of course, this was true prior to the pandemic. As you determine whether a marketing refresh is in order and, if so, to what extent, apply sound marketing principles and make sure you nail the basics to truly flourish!

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