Category Archives: Advertising

Developing A Unique Selling Point

How does your business stand out among your competitors? What makes you different? If you can’t quickly answer those questions, you may be starting or running a business without a unique selling point (USP).

There are plenty of businesses like grocery stores and big box retailers that provide similar products, so what makes them unique? A USP provides a company with the point of differentiation it needs to stand out from the crowd and is the foundation for a solid marketing and sales strategy. An effective USP doesn’t need to be long or cumbersome; it should simply contain a piece of information to entice customers to use or purchase your product over that of a competitor.Unique-Selling-Point

One of the best examples of a successful, nationally-recognizable unique selling point is the one Avis used for many years, “We try harder.” Avis was the second leading car rental company behind Hertz and decided to capitalize on its silver medal standing and showcase the fact they may be number two, but they try harder to provide their customers with a positive experience.

Another example is how Domino’s distinguished itself during the pizza wars. It promised customers “fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.” Competitors weren’t promising a free dinner, so this effective USP quickly differentiated the company from its competitors.  And, what about M&M’s touting the fact that their “chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hands?” Not every delicious chocolate candy can make that selling point.

Unique selling points are important to your marketing strategy and there are a few critical things to consider when developing one for your company.

  1. What makes you different than your competitors?

Are you the lowest price (Ex: Walmart)? Do you provide luxury or the highest quality product (Ex: Neiman Marcus or Rolls Royce)? Do you provide a larger selection? Do you provide a better guarantee (Ex: Domino’s)?  Are you faster? Friendlier?

  1. Who are your customers?

To determine the unique selling point that will resonate with your target audience, you need a crystal clear understanding of to whom you are marketing. Start by analyzing demographics such as age, gender, income levels, location, etc., and also dive into their wants and needs.

  1. How do you match your unique selling point to your target audience?

This is the “what’s in it for me” question.  Your USP is basically the compelling reason your customer should use your product. Is it going to make their life happier, more efficient, easier?

Because I look for any opportunity to pay homage to my favorite city (Nashville), here are a few USPs developed by businesses headquartered in our community.

If you are a country music fan, why would you think twice about where to travel to see a show? Obviously, you want to go to a venue that was responsible for making the music you love famous.

We can all agree that cleaning the house isn’t fun. Sign me up for the vacuum that makes housework easier.

Two things that we can always use more of every single day are time and money. If Dollar General can save you some of both, isn’t it worth a trip?

Do you promote your company’s unique selling point? Do you have a favorite? Let me know.

 

Robin Embry is a vice president at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Robin’s blogs here. Connect with Robin at robin@lovell.com

Photo credit: Olala

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“Share a Coke” Provides Refreshingly Fun Marketing Communications Campaign

I’ll admit it. Since the beginning of June, I’ve been searching in vain. Every time I stop to fill up the gas tank or cruise the aisles of my local grocery store, I secretly wonder if this day will bring my quest to an end. My 10-year old son encountered the current bane of my existence. Unfortunately, I was in a rush, this time to get my youngest child to soccer practice. I didn’t hear him casually mention that the beverage cooler at the convenience store included a perfectly chilled bottle of Coca-Cola…with my first name prominently featured! You can imagine my anguish when he mentioned it hours later.

As I issue this veiled Coke all-points bullet to Lovell blog readers, I am discovering I am in good company.  At church, my mom’s recent birthday party and even in my own home, the new Coke marketing campaign that lists share-a-cokethe most popular names of Millennials on the iconic Coke logo was a hot topic of conversation.

First launched in Australia in 2012 and kicked off in the U.S. in June, the campaign has now been “shared” internationally with more than 50 countries and has generated growing social media buzz for the beverage behemoth. The company reported to the Wall Street Journal that more than 125,000 campaign-related posts across all communication channels from June 2 – July 14. Among those, 96% of consumer opinion was either positive or neutral. Furthermore, the Coca-Cola campaign has championed more brand chatter than Coors Light and Bud Light, the article said. From June 1 –July 11, 12% of Coke conversation was due to the current marketing phenomenon.

Despite my and the marketing industry’s current obsession with “Share a Coke,” the campaign has not translated into an earnings boost. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  This week, the company reported 1% decline in revenue from the same quarter in 2013, and a 3% revenue decline for the first half of 2014, compared to last year.

So while the Wall Street investment community may yawn and ultimately snooze at the lackluster company performance, the PR and marketing industry continues to marvel at the simplistic, ingenious campaign that seems to be trending toward greater brand awareness and marketing success.

You can check to see if you might find your name on a Coke product during your next shopping excursion at www.shareacoke.com.

We are midway through 2014, so the industry-selected winners for the top campaigns of the year have yet to be named. See some of the early contenders in Top Social Media Campaigns of 2014 So Far. While you’re at it, take a stroll down memory lane and see The Most Unforgettable Ad Campaigns of 2013, and some of Rosemary Plorin’s favorite campaigns from way back in the blog The Power of Pressing Forward.

If you encounter my name, I’d be thrilled if you would kindly Share a Coke with Andrea by sending a photo of the coveted bottle via email at andrea@lovell.com  or Twitter at @aewinturner.  In the meantime, I will stay thirsty, my friends! (Yes, I know that the Dos Equis slogan!)

Cheers!

 

Andrea Ewin Turner is a Senior Account Supervisor at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Andrea’s blogs at http://lovell.com/author/andrea-turner/.  Connect with Andrea at Andrea@lovell.com  or @aewinturner

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Controversy Sparks Conversation about Hospital Advertising

A couple of months ago, an advertisement for the da Vinci Surgical System sparked quite a bit of controversy — and an interesting, ongoing conversation about the ethics and value of hospital advertising.

To refresh your memory: The ad, which appeared as a full page in the New York Times Magazine, featured a large photograph of a physician team from the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System. Below the photograph sat the headline: “We believe in da Vinci Surgery because our patients benefit.” The kicker was that, in small print at the bottom of the ad, was a disclosure that explained some surgeons who appeared the ad had received compensation from da Vinci. And it was later revealed that da Vinci paid for the ad and not everyone in the photo was even a clinician.Billboard

After the ad appeared, Paul Levy, the former CEO of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and publisher of the popular “Not Running a Hospital” blog wrote a scathing post titled, “Time to fire somebody,” that questioned the ethics of a public, nonprofit hospital promoting a commercial product — particularly given the controversy surrounding the effectiveness of the surgical system. The post led to similar stories, including this piece by NPR that quotes Levy.

More recently, Hospitals & Health Networks contributor David Ollier Weber penned a column that, through the lens of the da Vinci ad controversy, asks whether hospitals advertising to the general public is in good taste, or even truly effective.

Worth a read, the article discusses the history of hospital advertising – formerly frowned upon by the American Hospital Association — and gives a snapshot of some of the current sentiment toward the practice, including questions about whether it’s “in good taste.”

Here’s the quote that closes the article, from a Minneapolis-based health care marketing consultant, taking aim specifically at mass advertising:

“In fact, the business case for hospital advertising — especially mass advertising — is extraordinarily poor. It’s notoriously difficult to measure the impact of the ubiquitous ‘brand campaigns’ that are all about awareness and perception-building and have no freaking call to action. But the effectiveness of mass advertising from a cost-benefit perspective pales in comparison to more targeted efforts, such as search advertising, direct mail, community seminars and more. Yes, some of that is advertising, but it’s the mass advertising that’s getting us in trouble.”

What do you think? Is “mass advertising” effective for hospitals? Are there ethical or “taste” pitfalls that must be avoided? Let us know what you think.

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Is the definition of “mobile” changing? Google thinks so.

Google announced to the Securities and Exchange Commission it has no plans to release its 2013 revenues from mobile advertising since the definition of mobile is changing and it simply doesn’t make sense to break it out separately.  Google informed the SEC in a December letter, which was disclosed publicly this week.

smart phone with finance chart

So, what does Google envision falling into the mobile bucket moving forward? According to the letter filing, the company said, “Our expectation is that users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future.” To Google, anything that isn’t a desk top is considered mobile and they are already discussing future advertisements on refrigerators, watches, thermostats and car dashboards. (I know we are quickly moving towards a Jetson’s type lifestyle, but I’m not ready for my appliances to try to sell me something.)

I consider all of these products “smart devices” not “mobile,” but I guess Google can be convincing. Bottom line is Google sees a future full of all different kinds of new categories.

From a public perspective, I guess the SEC letter provided insight into what may lie ahead…a world of ad consumption overload.

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Exactly what is Native Advertising?

The buzzword native advertising came on the scene a few years ago but didn’t really gain traction until last year when it began being thought of as the savior to publishing. It’s now one of the hottest things in the online advertising industry. Sorry banner ads, you aren’t what you used to be.

I don’t usually like to use Wikipedia as a source but honestly, it has the best definition for native advertising. It defines it as–an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience. The advertiser’s intent is to make the paid advertising feel less intrusive and thus increase the likelihood users will click on it.

Native ads provide valuable, relevant content and, to some readers, might appear like real editorial. Content marketing, a more commonly used term, is a form of native advertising.

A study conducted among more than 4,700 people last year found that native ads were viewed 53 percent more often by consumers than banner ads, and the attention people paid to native ads was nearly equivalent to the visual engagement of original editorial content.

So, are popular well-respected publications jumping on the native advertising bandwagon? The answer is YES.

Forbes Magazine created BrandVoice, described by one of its reporters as an innovative, efficient publishing platform, or brand newsroom, that is built on the belief that all content can be treated equally if its originating source is transparently identified. The reason for the formation of BrandVoice was the notion that marketers know their business better than anyone and they need new ways to reach their audiences. Statistics show that some of the native ad posts on Forbes.com are generating considerably more views, tweets, retweets and Likes than traditional editorial content. An effective revenue stream for publishers and a successful tool for advertisers…win-win.

Just like Forbes’ BrandVoice, the Washington Post created the platform BrandConnect to connect its advertisers with its readership, and earlier this month the Wall Street Journal launched its own native ad studio called WSJ Custom Studios.

You can scroll through the home page of most of the publications I listed and you will find an example of native ads. See one example below.

As long as publications and other online sources are transparent about native ads versus original content, I think it’s an incredibly effective use of ad dollars. What are your thoughts?

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The Loveable Kool Aid Pitcher Gets a New Look

Many companies wonder if their logos and brand graphics need a fresh look after a number of years. Do we need to rebrand or simply tweak our current brand in order to remain relevant? Sometimes a brand tune up is all a company needs.

While I’d prefer to focus on Kmart’s radical attempt to make its brand more hip and
relevant (the brilliant and hilarious online ad that promotes shopping for Kmart products online, which resulted in a media frenzy and almost 15 million YouTube views in the last week) but some people have taken offense to the ad, so I’ll stay on safe ground and discuss a less radical but still relevant rebranding effort….the Kool Aid Man.

Starting in the 1960s, children grew up watching the iconic gigantic pitcher of red Kool Aid crash through doors and walls. This beloved mascot is definitely recognizable and possesses a lot of brand equity so it’s no wonder Kool Aid chose to keep its beloved mascot and simply update the look. The company is retiring the human suit and replacing with it with a technologically advanced GCI character that has a colorful personality, a distinctive new voice and a more robust vocabulary to increase the “mom appeal.”

The new look launched this month in conjunction with a new brand campaign called “Smile, It’s Kool Aid” and included new television ads and a Kool Aid man Facebook page, providing followers with games and giveaways in order to keep customers engaged.

Like I mentioned, the company is by no means abandoning the brand that made it the most popular flavored drink mix. The company reports that the newer, slicker, more well-spoken Kool Aid man will continue to bust through walls. Oh Yeah!

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Want A Promotion? You’ll Have to Pay for It.

Facebook has added a new advertising opportunity for individuals and businesses.   The company recently released a new experimental feature which allows you to promote your updates, photos and posts to increase the chances of reaching a larger percentage of your targeted audience.

If you’re willing to pay an average of $7, Facebook will guarantee that your “promoted” post will appear near the top of your friends’ news feeds.  Of course, if you decide not promote your post, many of your “friends” will still see it.  However, by promoting your post, you’re increasing the chances that a larger percentage will view your message.

Some Facebook users may use this new feature to share news of an engagement, a newborn baby or an inspirational event.  I think the biggest beneficiaries of this new feature will be businesses, large or small. If a company wants to advertise a particular skill, completed project, or field of expertise to a large audience, they now are able to do it quicker and with more precision. It’s a new form of online advertisement that allows businesses to cut through the jumbled assortment of continuous updates that generally crowd Facebook pages.

As you know, Facebook is free to the public but the people who use it, pay the price of loss of privacy to use it. Our previous blog addressed that “Through our posts, comments, likes and group memberships, even low-activity Facebook users reveal a lot about themselves.”

So, the question is, will Facebook drive users away with this new “commercial” feature? Will it be too “in your face?”

We’re interested to hear your opinion on the new feature. Will your business be able to benefit from the new “promote” feature? Or will it clutter your audience’s news feed even more?

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Suffering from political ad fatigue? You’re not alone.

It’s been more than a month since the Democratic National Convention, where President Barack Obama quipped, “If you’re sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me, so am I.”

The president was commenting on the unprecedented amount of money pouring into political advertising during this general election season, which has resulted in a television-watching experience that can leave you wondering if that rerun of Seinfeld is sharing a time block with a political drama.

According to The Washington Post, which has a fascinating interactive map tracking “the spending race,” the candidates have spent more than $660 million on television advertising – $300 million for President Obama’s campaign, and $366 million for Mitt Romney’s campaign. And although it’s hard to believe, what you’re seeing in Tennessee probably isn’t as bad as what folks in swing states are facing. The Post indicates that both campaigns and their “allied parties and interest groups” have focused their television ad dollars in media markets reaching voters in swing states. Florida has seen the most spending, at $136 million. Iowa, Nevada and North Carolina – where airtime is cheaper – have experienced the highest number of political ads.

So has the ad blitz been effective in informing voters about their political choices this season? Or is all this communication just causing political ad fatigue? If you think it’s the latter, you’re not alone.

The Post’s spending map indicates that 81 percent of ad spending from the Obama campaign and 88 percent of the ad spending from the Romney campaign has gone toward negative ads. And it seems voters aren’t too happy about it. A Knights of Columbus-Marist poll released back in July showed that almost 80 percent of Americans were frustrated by ongoing political battle. About two-thirds, or 66 percent, say the candidates have spent more time on the attack than addressing important issues, and 64 percent say the negativity of these campaign ads harms the political process.

What do you think? Does the negative tone of political advertising hurt the political process? Has it turned you off from the election all together? Tell us what you think.

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Olympic Commercials Worthy of a Medal

Every four years I prepare for late nights and touching stories that make me teary-eyed and proud as I watch American athletes sing our national anthem on the medal stand. Yes, I am talking about one of my favorite obsessions…the Summer Olympics.  My devotion to the summer games started at a young age (I still love you Mary Lou!) and I have been fanatical ever since.

Record viewership numbers reported by NBC earlier this week (40.7 million viewers for the opening ceremonies and 28.7 million on the opening day of competition) prove that I am not the only one who can’t get enough of Phelps and Lochte. Those numbers might not be as impressive as the more than 111 million that tuned into the 2012 Super Bowl, but it is enough for companies to use this as an opportunity to showcase some creative advertising.

In honor of the games, I wanted to share my favorite television commercials so far.

The bronze medal goes to British Airways.

The silver medal goes to Visa.

And, the winner of the gold medal is Proctor and Gamble.

What commercial has impressed you the most?

Let me know and GO TEAM USA!

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Marketing Lessons Brought to You by, “Angry Birds”

If you have a smartphone or a young child, you’re probably aware of the green pigs and red birds featured in the app called Angry Birds, which has been downloaded one billion times. These cartoon animals brought Finnish company Rovio earnings of $106 million in 2011. Thirty percent of those earnings have come from items like apparel, toys, pillows and even cookbooks.

However, Rovio wasn’t always a success. In fact, they almost went out of business after launching 51 failed apps before Angry Birds hit in 2009. So what can we learn from Rovio’s success? Persistence pays off. The same is true for marketing.

Perhaps you’ve heard of “The Rule of Seven?” This foundational marketing concept states that the average consumer must hear or see your marketing message seven times before they take the bait. To make it more difficult, about half the time you think you are delivering the message, the consumer doesn’t even hear it. So, even though you may feel as if you are repeating yourself, you aren’t. Successful marketers find new avenues to share the same message over and over again.

Marketing Consultant Pete Monfre summed it up nicely in his blog when he said, “Persistence and consistency are the currency of marketing effectiveness. Strive to be ever present among people most likely to buy. Commit to marketing as an ongoing process, not a series of events.”

So take it from Rovio… persistence is critical to business – and marketing – success. When has it paid off for you?

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