branding don't buy in

The NHL and Branding

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As you probably know, the NHL and the NHLPA have finally ironed out a new collective bargaining agreement and the current hockey season will be salvaged starting next week. The excitement of some fans has been dampened by bitterness that an agreement wasn’t reached earlier. I’m sure some fans share the dissonance this is creating for me. While I am very much looking forward to watching my beloved Maple Leafs (who are still “sitting in a playoff spot”), the critical customer side of me can’t help but wish I had the gumption to boycott the NHL like I would any other business that closed its doors and offered me, a loyal patron, nothing for months on end.

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5 Reason Why You Should Support Our U of R Cougars

UofR - cougars logo

1. We support local in Regina. As a rule we (Regina folk) like to support local businesses and organizations in Regina. If you disagree you can go pound salt. It’s always more fulfilling to dine at a local restaurant (Rock Creek, Freehouse, Enso) or local clothing store (Coda Clothing & Shoes, Venice Tailors, Colin O’Brien’s), so why not also support your local sports teams?

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4 Reasons Why You Should Never Add People To Your Email List Without Permission

4 Reasons Why You Should Never Add People To Your Email List Without Permission

Lots of spam cans

(photo credit: Spam.budwin.net)

  1. If you add someone without permission what are the odds that person stays subscribed and actually reads what you send?  Don’t kid yourself Charlie Brown, 95% of people could care less about your company. Who do you think you are, Cirque Du Soleil? The more you try to pepper people with your boring company “news or current events”, the more you alienate potential customers. No you don’t need to “just get your message across”, this is a major assumption most organizations make. Why do public entities think we want to hear what they have to say?
    If you must communicate with customers make sure you ask the most important question you know they’re going to ask, “what’s in it for me?”. Are you going to solve a problem that they have or are you going to entertain them? If you’re not doing either of those two you’re wasting their time. 
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Thinking Differently This Year

Throughout my teenage years, I loved to ride BMX. “BMX” encompasses more than the more commonly known racing aspect and includes street riding, dirt jumping, park-riding, and basically any type of 20″ bicycle expression.

During those years, I was constantly torn between the more rigid team sport of hockey and the absolute freedom of making my own rules on my bike. Now I’m not saying that there’s no room for freedom and creativity in hockey – because I’ve found plenty of that – but turning an old tree stump (affectionately deemed “The Stump Jump”) into a launch ramp or an old cement pad into hours of fun was some of the most fun I’ve ever had.

The sport/art/lifestyle of BMX has progressed exponentially since my bike got stolen a few years ago, and what some consider to be more astounding than a double backflip are the results of outside-the-box thinking. Take a look at the video below and see the skill and humour behind Tate Roskelley’s ingenuity. In many areas of life and business, it’s helped me to view the seemingly inflexible *dramatic pause* as a world of opportunity.

Music: Beach House – Myth

5 New Year’s Marketing Resolutions

FireworksIt’s that time again. People are making lists of things they want to change, things they want to do less, and things they want to do more of in order to improve their lives in the upcoming year. The changeover to a new year can be cathartic and feel like a new beginning. As we all know, follow-through on resolutions tends to weaken partway through the year. The personal consequences tend to be minimal and go unnoticed.

The new year is also a great time for businesses to adjust their goals and make resolutions of their own. Here are some changes that we suggest for businesses in the new year and how they relate to those token resolutions we hear all too often. Unlike those personal resolutions, a lack of follow-through on these can be very costly.

1. Spend More Time With Family Measurement
The old adage “what gets measured, gets improved’ still rings true. Still too many marketing efforts are shots in the dark. As more and more people spend time online and do business there, measuring everything has never been so achievable.

2. Focus on Fitness Conversions
Don’t just count traffic; track conversions
Advertising agencies have historically done a great job of “driving traffic”. While traffic is important (web, in-store, or otherwise) , it’s useless if it’s not being met with quality content or value propositions that establish connections and ultimately create conversions. Measure these conversions rates. Perhaps the most basic way to improve them is to view this traffic as it really is: real people.

3. Lose Weight Unnecessary Marketing Initiatives
While millions of people are hitting the gym to rebound from a holiday season of indulgence, your business can be doing the same by trimming your marketing efforts. Instead of continuing to travel down older marketing avenues while trying to dip your toes in every new, seemingly cheap online or social effort, focus on the ones that are measurable and suit your competencies. Spreading yourself too thin will eat up a lot of time and money. If you’re having trouble deciding where to direct your focus, take a page out of Gary Vaynerchuk’s book who said it’s as simple as “Go(ing) to where people are to get them to do what you want them to.”

4. Help Listen to People
Learn Something New Get Feedback; Embrace the Negative
Too many marketing decisions made either on a whim or for poor reasons. These shots in the dark often end up as costly misses and sometimes even end up doing more harm than good. A research stage should take place before any marketing initiative is executed. Finding out what people love, hate, and are indifferent about regarding your company can help you make important changes to improve what people tell others about your company and develop long-term relationships. Embracing the negative feedback will likely be both the most difficult part and the most rewarding part.

5. Stop Start Smoking…Smokin’? (K, so this one’s a bit of a stretch – but still important)
Focus on the BEST Part of Your Company
Many attack the new year with a plan to incessantly put their best foot forward and show the world they’re a force to be reckoned with. At Strategy Lab, we believe that identifying the best and most easily talked about part of your business is an important part of the research stage. Once you’ve discovered what it is, go forward with confidence and build your marketing around it. This way, you can be smokin’ without blowing smoke.

What Does Strategy Lab Actually Do?

I was in a meeting this year and a lady, not knowing what we do, asked this most important question I had ever been asked around a boardroom table.

What do you actually do?

Simple right? Unless you’re a part of a brand new marketing strategy company who specializes in Social Media, marketing strategy and web design. What do we actually do? Make organizations smarter.

What we actually do is quite simple. We find out why you make sales, we find out why sometimes you don’t make sales and together we try and do more of the stuff that makes more sales. We find the best parts of your business and put them online for the world to find.

We base our strategy on the methodology, research, create, engage, measure.

Research: we find everything we can about your organization and your competitors.

Create: we develop your story and begin telling it somewhere (yes somewhere, we’re not sure until we talk to you, it could be Facebook, Twitter, a website, who the heck knows where!)

Engage: we establish a communication strategy including a method of acquiring feedback from your customers.

Measure: finally we develop a way to measure sales increases based on online lead generation. Yes we measure social media, no it’s not impossible we’ve done it lots before. Besides measuring lead generation and conversion rate we also use a lovely customer service measurement tool called Net Promoter Score. And remember, if someone tells you that you can’t measure social media, give them a Ken from Street Fighter uppercut.

We don’t claim to do anything we can’t, and we don’t try to be bigger than we are. We help smart companies who want to grow, with their marketing and strategy. We help you make more informed decisions based on data. We help you measure what matters to your business.

If you think we might be able to help you or if you just have some questions on marketing we’d love to chat. Leave a comment below or check out our contact us page (it’s pretty sweet…)

Pricing And The Paradox Of Choice

While discussing pricing strategies and product line offerings with a client, I was reminded of a great TEDTalk by Barry Schwartz entitled The Paradox of Choice.

In the talk, he encourages us to break through the assumption that more choice equals more freedom and realize that we are often crippled by choice. In regards to marketing, people often refrain from purchasing something altogether if there are too many choices. Below is the TEDTalk. I consider it to be one of the most informative AND one of the most entertaining.

If you don’t have twenty minutes to spare, here’s a quick breakdown of Barry’s talk.

We all know what is good about choice. Here’s what’s bad:

Paradoxically, choices cause paralysis rather than liberation.

Example: Investment records from Vanguard have shown that for every ten voluntary retirement funds that were offered by an employer, ten percent fewer employees participated. With 50 funds to choose from, the fact that it was so hard to decide resulted in procrastination and a tomorrow that never came. Significant matching money (as much as $500/year was passed up).

Further, even if we overcome the paralysis of a decision that has many alternatives, regret is induced. This regret subtracts from the satisfaction of the choice that was made – even if the decision made was good and rewarding. We end up imagining the outcomes of the choices not chosen and become less content with the route that was chosen.

Example: A couple sitting on the beach in the Hamptons sits there dreaming about all the good parking spots they’re missing on West Eighty-Fifth Street in NYC. Everyone’s on holidays because it’s August and they could have prime spots in front of their building at home.

In summary, increased choices result in:
1. Paralysis
2. Regret

So, how should you apply this to your marketing strategy?
1. Don’t overwhelm your customers with too many product line and price options.
2. Don’t promise the world with your marketing and risk under-delivering. Create a situation where your customer is more than pleasantly surprised.

Video: On How To Stand Out

How do you stand out?

In Practically Radical Practically RadicalBill Taylor introduces the concept of “Vuja de thinking”. A way to look at a problem from a completely different perspective, or lens, like if this was the first time you had ever looked at this problem. (replace ‘problem’ with ‘strategy’) The book gives a lot of great examples of organizations that just think differently.  Here’s a good little PDF on Vuja De Thinking.

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Walks With Jeph Episode 3: Westjet (Video)

Today on walks with Jeph we talk about Westjet and the social object they’ve developed; being the “fun” airline. They tell jokes on flights, are extremely friendly, and just seem to care more than the other airlines.

Do you remember the first time you flew Westjet?  I sure do. It completely blew my mind that this airline actually wanted to make my flight more enjoyable. I went home immediately and told my parents about it and have been a loyal Westjet supporter ever since. You see, just the fact that I had to tell someone about my first experience with Westjet makes what they offer a social object.  They’ve baked the marketing right into the product and I don’t think anyone can argue the success they’ve had.

So here’s your excuse to have a crazy, wild, loud, awesome idea for your company. The next marketing meeting you host tell everyone to think about the Westjet story and how it all started.  Someone had the idea of telling jokes on flights. Even more importantly, someone high up in that company liked the idea and gave them permission to try it.

A smart culture breeds smart ideas.

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