- In addition to creating a standard "mission statement" message from the owner, consider offering regular messages via a company website, newsletter, blog, sales letter, Facebook page, Twitter feed, etc. to communicate new initiatives, announce new products, or simply offer an insightful perspective on a relevant subject.
- Include a photo of the owner/president/CEO. Readers feel more of a connection when they can put a face with a name.
- While the messaging is most effective when it comes from the owner him/herself, consider help from a member of your communications team for message ideas, editing, and wordsmith help.
- In addition to sharing a message with customers, a message from the owner is also a great way to create a sense of community within an organization and narrow the gap between the owner and coworkers.
- Encourage feedback and open lines of communication whenever possible. A forum where customers or coworkers can ask questions and receive a response from the owner can be a powerful marketing tool. Consider highlighting questions and responses as topics for the messages.
- Set a clear time frame for your trial offer, such as a 30 or 60-day evaluation period.
- Consider a first-time discount if the user decides to purchase from you, as well as a referral program that offers coupons with a trial to pass along to friends.
- Avoid scaring away potential customers by asking only for necessary information when signing up for the free trial.
- Don't spam those who provide information. Offer an option to sign up for promotions if they are interested.
- Notify users before the trial ends to avoid sharp cutoffs or automatic billing.
- Lastly, think of a free trial program as a way to improve your products or services. You can gain valuable feedback from those who choose not to purchase from you.
Jared's story about how he lost weight while eating Subway sandwiches has some important marketing lessons that should not go unnoticed. With a little thought and analysis, you can choose the areas where you can apply these lessons to your business.
Lesson number one -- Jared has an intriguing story that people become curious to learn more about. This story line is interesting and different, which helps it stand out from the barrage of boring, yawn-inspiring advertisements. Think about how you can create a story around your products, services, and brand. Strive for real human interest, not just simple feature descriptions.
Lesson number two -- Jared's story has an emotional appeal to it. The story is believable, and people become engaged because we all like to pull for underdogs. Every human being makes daily purchasing decisions with emotional aspects to them. If you can infuse your brand story with believable emotional appeal, you will have a distinct advantage over your competition.
Lesson number three -- Jared provides visual proof that eating at Subway has helped him take off the pounds. As much as possible and in as many areas as possible, you must provide testimonials and proof in your marketing that reassure your audience how your products and services will work for them, too.
Lesson number four -- The Jared campaign has been running for a long time now. Surely, the franchisees, employees, corporate management, and even the ad agency handling the account must be getting sick and tired of seeing the Jared ads. Many companies, large and small, mistakenly stop a successful marketing campaign simply because they themselves are tired of it, even though their audience is still responding. If you need entertainment, go to the movies. If you want to make money, continue running a successful ad until your market stops responding to it and the campaign stops producing results.
Lesson number five -- This lesson is perhaps the most important for you and your company. Subway makes sandwiches. Sure it has a little different twist, but it is similar to thousands of other sub shops across the country. One of the things that has helped it stand apart and enjoy growing sales is that Subway was the first within its category to take its product (subs) and reposition it as a health food. Through Jared's story, Subway took a sub sandwich and turned it into a diet product. With one simple story, the company was able to tie into the healthy eating wave. The product didn't change much, but the story around the product did. Now how brilliant is that?
So how can you reposition what you currently sell into something that can increase the value proposition without completely recreating it? Jared and Subway have provided a path. Create a story with emotional appeal that repositions you and your business in the minds of your target audience. If Subway can turn bread and sandwich meat into a diet pill, surely you can come up with something.
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers."
If you ask someone to give an example of a brand, the most likely answers will be: Coca-Cola, Disney, Starbucks, Google, and Apple, among a few select others. While most companies don't have the budgets and resources to build brand awareness like these large corporations do, it is still important to understand why building a brand is important for companies of every size.
What are the advantages of building a brand name?
Let's take a look at a few examples. People willingly and gladly pay four dollars for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, when they could pay a lot less at many other places. Coke products have been imitated by many companies, yet they can still charge a healthy premium over the other brands. Apple has built legions of loyal customers who stay in line overnight to be the first ones to purchase their latest products. That is the power of having a brand name.
Still think this only applies to big companies? Think again. Every company has a brand of some sort. Your brand is your reputation in the marketplace, and it is being defined every day by your customers, your prospects, and even your competitors.
How do you build your brand?
Fulfill the promises that your company makes. Every time. Each time you do this successfully, you are building your brand. When you do this consistently over time, you build trust. Trust leads to word of mouth. Word of mouth leads to more customers and longevity. Do that long enough, and your company will be the next overnight sensation with a powerful brand name everyone can remember.
On-hold messaging is a great way to decrease caller hang-up by entertaining callers and making their wait feel much shorter. It's also a creative way to inform and educate callers. Many of your customers aren't aware of the variety of products or services you offer. On-hold messaging provides an easy marketing opportunity to target customers or prospects that have already shown interest by calling your business.
Here are a few ways to get the most out of your on-hold messaging:
- Inform callers about upcoming sales or promotions.
- Advertise tradeshows, open houses, and other events.
- Educate callers about new products and services.
- Highlight industry resources and other helpful websites, articles, etc.
- Provide fun facts and intriguing trivia questions and answers to get the listener thinking.
- Remind callers about upcoming holidays and important events.
Eric Swartz of the Byline Group suggests sitting down and asking yourself some core questions about your company:
- Who are you?
- What are your values?
- What is your vision?
- How would you describe your corporate culture?
- What nouns and adjectives would you use to convey your brand's promise and its solution?
- What words might your customers use to describe your company?
- Are there any misconceptions about your company that need to be cleared up?
To get your creative juices flowing, here is a list of the top 10 taglines since 1948:
- "Got milk?" (1993, California Milk Processor Board)
- "Don't leave home without it." (1975, American Express)
- "Just do it." (1988, Nike)
- "Where's the beef?" (1984, Wendy's)
- "You're in good hands with Allstate." (1956, Allstate Insurance)
- "Think different." (1998, Apple Computer)
- "We try harder." (1962, Avis)
- "Tastes great, less filling." (1974, Miller Light)
- "Melts in your mouth, not in your hands." (1954, M&M Candies)
- "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking." (1956, Timex)
(Source: The 100 Most Influential Taglines Since 1948)
Not having a great tagline (or one at all) may not doom a business, but having a memorable tagline can certainly help a business stand out from the clutter of a crowded marketplace.
Many people wonder, is free shipping really free? Unlikely. Pricing is often a perception game, with the cost of shipping getting absorbed into the product cost. However, many people would often rather pay more for a product than pay the extra shipping.
Here are a few creative shipping promotion ideas to encourage customers to purchase from you rather than your competitor's website:
- Offer a shipping promo relevant to purchase amount. For example: Receive free shipping with an order or $50 or more.
- Send a free shipping code as an exclusive offer, such as a birthday or anniversary promo, or to those who "like" you on Facebook.
- Depending on the types of products you offer, consider an affordable $1/item shipping option.
- Offer free site-to-store pickup, which also encourages additional sales when customers pick up their package.
- Offer a customer loyalty club that offers free shipping or reimburses shipping after reaching X amount of annual purchases.
- Consider offering a free shipping club that usually carries an annual membership fee. For example: Pay a $30 annual membership fee to receive free shipping on every purchase for one year. This not only encourages loyal customers to purchase more than they may otherwise, but also encourages customers to do their shopping exclusively at your business versus another because of free shipping.
- Offer a flat-rate shipping promo. While shipping isn't free, it can often encourage customers to make more purchases, knowing they will only pay X for shipping regardless of their purchase amount.