All posts by Bill Abramovitz

Mobile Web is No Longer Optional

It’s essential that every company has a gas station or a roadside have a gas station on the mobile web superhighway. Consumers are leaning hard on smartphones for critical information about brands during the buying process. You might be skeptical, or dragging your heels about making an investment in mobile, which may mean a responsive web design for your site or a mobile-only web presence. But you can’t wait.

  • 91% use the mobile web for inspiration during the middle of a task
  • 82% consult their smartphones while shopping
  • 66% use mobile to learn more about something they saw in a TV commercial
  • 55% have switched from a brand they intended to buy, because of information on search.

Mobile Web Marketing Basics

Smartphone trickery knows no bounds. Geo-fencing, for example, allows restaurants to alert hungry customers within a certain radius of the eatery about the soup of the day.  Fortunately, you can be effective without getting fancy. Scoot the Geo-fence, and get started with these basic steps:

  1. Your site must work on mobile devices. Many sites today are built on mobile responsive or compatible platforms. If you have an older site that doesn’t render well on mobile, build a new one. Gulp. We understand. But take a moment to calculate the value of the business you could be losing because you’re AWOL on their phones.
  2. Make sure that your site looks sharp on mobile and that it’s easy to operate.  Start with an analytical tool like Google’s “Mobile-Friendly Test,”  and test the mobile site’s usability by watching actual humans perform tasks on it.
  3. Create mobile-only search engine marketing (SEM) that’s sensitive to where and what your customers are using their phones. Buying needs change as the buying experience unfolds. For example, imagine this typical string of information needs about dog house.  what do dogs desire in a dog house? What brands incorporate the features I just learned about?  Which dog houses get the best reviews from pooches? What stores sell those brands? Help me compare prices. What is the closest store to my home? How do I get there?
  4. Have your site optimized for mobile. Speed up pokey page download times. Test design for use by chubby fingers. And tailor search copy to localize your business.

Stake your claim on the mobile web by making your site mobile responsive.

 

 

 

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Introducing Blendercast, Ideopia’s Mini Podcast

Listen up! We’ve conducted interviews in Stinky’s pool hall, our president’s shower, and a wolf infested backyard to bring you a stimulating podcast blend of marketing news and completely unrelated tidbits. Best of all: It’s only 2 1/2 minutes long, which isn’t even as long as a George Foreman Grill commercial.  We hope you find Blendercast fun and a little weird. Let us know what you think in the comments.

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New insights on video length and influence.

It depends. Yes, we hear you groan. The time span for most online video is 15 seconds to three minutes. Length should be determined more by the video’s function. Is it a one-minute explainer, or a 15-second branding pop? The only thing we know for sure is that the attention span is dropping.

You have 10 seconds to lasso in viewers, or they will click or scroll away. After 30 seconds you’ve lost 33% of viewers, and after one minute you’ll be shunned by another 45% of viewers no matter what the length of the video.

Important factors to consider are:

  • Context – where it is placed and what’s the quality of your visual competition?
  • Is your video appearing on your own site, or is it pre-roll on a video platform?
  • Production values – placement is a clue to the quality you should aspire to.

As always, get clear with your marketing objective. Some videos are designed to be intrusive and make brand impressions. Others are for the education of users who are already customers, and others are in the direct response mold.

How does online video affect your audience?

Google, now YouTube’s boss, released data last month that provides more insight about how video impacts the sales process.

Three big takeaways

  1. Six in 10 millennials will follow the advice of a favorite creator over a favorite TV/movie personality on what to buy.
  2. Six in 10 millennials watch videos by their favorite creators within 24 hours.
  3. Video on small screens, i.e. smartphones and tablets, lifts consideration of a product by 74% and its favorability perception by 61%.
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Why You Should Stop Brainstorming Immediately.

“Without great solitude, no serious work is possible,”said Pablo Picasso

Brainstorming has become the play for just about every corporate problem. It’s a feel-good and purposeful reason for people to gather. And it’s fun because we get to say crazy things. But lately, we’ve been hearing arguments against the practice.

  1. Groups coalesce around obvious solutions first.
  2. Worse, the group gets anchored in the initial discussion, and can’t make the jump to alternatives.
  3. Loud mouths disproportionately influence the discussion, and the most introverted personalities are not heard at all.
  4. Groupthink sets in, especially the closer it gets to five o’ clock or lunch. The group becomes self-congratulatory, and the members tell each other they’ve got it nailed.
  5. There is little accountability for actually devising interesting solutions, or getting them to work.
  6. Artificial time pressures, e.g. “we have a half-hour” to crack this, shut down creativity.
  7. We are told to be uncritical of ideas, and therefore every idea no matter what its merit needs to be considered.
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Winning Brands Tell the Truth

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Why smoke and mirrors, misdirection and just plain lying don’t work anymore.

The age of marketing enlightenment is upon us. It’s official buzzword is authenticity, and it’s inconvenient brother is named truth. This sweeping reform movement is enabled by swift communication between consumers online, social media platforms, and review sites. Consumers yearn for relationships with their brands, and betraying their trust can be a costly mistake.

Like political ads, most consumer advertising either says nothing, contorts the truth, or smacks of hyperbole. In a recent commercial, a luxury car deemed itself “The World Standard.” The world standard for what? Does this include the 47 countries in the world that have no knowledge of the brand? And we’re not singling out cars, you can find the same level of pap in ads for everything from hotdogs and laundry detergents to investment bankers and hospitals.

Make sure that your company’s marketing claims are backed by reasons and facts.

Hot air like this is exactly what gets brands in trouble on social media. Like reading on Facebook that your pal’s “World Standard” is leaking water like a flop house toilet.

Keeping it Clean and Honest

It’s not surprising then that some brands, steeped in conventional ad pap for decades, have problems embracing the newfangled authenticity. In reality, you can easily skip over this minefield if you remember two things: 1) Tell the truth. 2) Remember what you were taught about writing in the fifth grade. If you need a refresher course, pick up a copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style.

The truth and not telling it, or partially telling it will dog your brand forever on the Internet. When you believe something, you have a reason for believing even if it’s just pure faith. Make sure that your company’s marketing claims are backed by reasons and facts. Maybe you can’t squeeze it all in a Tweet, but you can expand on it on the web and in other media.

In web writing, avoid empty hyperbole like the plague. Don’t claim that you’re the world’s best, finest, or only unless you can prove it. If you’re touting “Drive = Love,” like Chrysler, you better have a Viagra dispenser under the dash.

Weasel words are the second cousins of hyperbole. They give the brand wiggle room, usually for legal reasons, and dilute the claim, e.g. arguably the safest car in America. Anytime you see an adjective or an adverb with an “ly” construction, you’ve got a stinker. Words like about, sometimes, most are also good signs a brand is hedging its bets.

So instead of sounding like an ad from a political action committee, stay true to your brand. Stick to declamatory sentences. Start with a topic sentence. Make it believable. And back your claims up with tangible reasons to buy, or to prefer your product or service to a competitor.

Would you like to hear more about marketing from Ideopia? Signup for our monthly enewsletter, Blender.

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Rocking It With High Customer Lifetime Value

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The reward system for CEOs and CMOs is heavily structured toward short-term (quarterly) revenue and ROI. And the degree of success is often determined by comparison to the recent past. One of the most valuable future-looking metrics we have is Customer Lifetime Value.

The Marketing Accountability Standards Board defines it as “the present value of all the cash flows attributed to the consumer during their entire relationship with a company.” Why should you care?

CLV is critical business information for:

  • Determining how much to spend on support.
  • Developing products that meet the needs of your best customers.
  • Assessing marketing spend to acquire a customer.
  • Helping sales hone in on the most profitable customers.
  • Improving efficiency by not wasting resources on non-productive customers.

One common example is the price shopper (P), who is loyal only to the lowest price, not the brand. He/she isn’t a good candidate for a repeat sale unless you can cough up another deep discount.  At the same time, another customer (V) understands the true value of your product and will buy it at any reasonable price. Consider the dollars at stake if this were an automobile purchase.

Research your existing high value customers, and have the tools and knowledge to identify them during the selling process.

Customer (P) will buy a blowout special car, which he has negotiated to the lowest possible price. You’ll never see him again. Your CLV is simply the price he paid. Meanwhile, customer (V) will pay a fair price for his original car, and purchase three more during his driving career. In addition, he’ll recommend your brand to friends, family and colleagues. He’ll also generate additional revenue streams for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.  By this measure, customer (V) is worth 5 times more to the company than customer P, but both showed up as individual and equal sales in your first quarter.

So, how do you sell to high customer lifetime customers?

  • Train salespeople to sell benefits – not price.
  • Don’t nickel and dime your best customers. Give them something for free every now and then.
  • Research your existing high-value customers, and have the tools and knowledge to identify them during the selling process.
  • Guide these customers down the full path of products and services you offer.
  • Know when the acquisition and maintenance cost of a customer is unprofitable and drop him or her.

To quickly understand your product’s CLV, use this simple calculator. Or put your data analyst (if you have one) to work on algorithms that might identify profitable and unprofitable customers earlier in the sales cycle.

By focusing on the lifetime value of customers, you can focus on marketing strategies that result in long-term profits, not just a sale.

To find out how computers and algorithms might be used to predict high and low-value customers, read “The Executive’s Guide to Machine Learning from McKinsey.

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Splice words together for unique brand names

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Have you tried to buy a domain name for a website lately? Then you know exactly what we’re talking about. Like a Vegas slot machine, you plugged dozens of names into a domain lookup service. Sometime in the wee hours, maybe, you got lucky.

The problem starts with generic terms. They’ll thwart your attempts to plant in the brains of your customers, or find a domain name shorter than the alphabet. And good luck securing a trademark.

Word splicing for fun and pleasure

When things get tough at Ideopia, we make things up. This is where portmanteau (blended) words come in handy, and we brag about our own name. Ideopia is a blend of “idee,” which is Greek for idea, and “opia,” happy place. If you get in a bind, you can add “oholic” or “ology,” or “cism” to the end of nearly every word. Grab a six pack of Carrotology juice and a Feetza, a pizza in the shape of a foot, and watch the game on your Eyetoaster. For extra intellectual property head room, mess with the spelling, like Karrotology or Eye Toester.

Concoct your own brand names

Developing unique brand names is hard work. At least with portmanteaus, the official international snack food is Reese’s Cups. Chomp down on those while you build an extensive list of terms and associations with your brand, its values, and its unique point of difference. Then the fun begins. Make sure you have plenty of Keratology juice on hand and start splicing, gluing, blending and changing the spelling of words until the magic happens.

Famous portmanteau brands

Coco Crisp
Dunkin’ Donuts
Krispy Kreme
Circuit City
PayPal
Funyuns
Blackberry
Bob’s Big Boy
Microsoft
Comcast
Infosys
Groupon
Pinterest
Amtrak
Netflix

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10 Hacks for Your Next Radio Commercial

Radio, on and offline, is still a great media value for reaching target demographic groups and building frequency. And Internet radio, which reaches an estimated 47% of all Americans, is fueling the flames. To help you get the most out of your next campaign, we compiled a list of our favorite radio and audio hacks:

  1. Never forget that a radio commercial  is a visual medium. People hear words and see an HD movie in their head. If you can imagine it – a three-headed talking goat, for example – you can create it in the mind’s eye of your audience.
  2. Not everyone has a Bose sound system in their car, so it’s crucial to experience how the 99 percenters will hear your spot. Most studios can simulate small speakers.
  3. Read the spot out loud several times before heading to the studio. If a phrase is difficult for you to pronounce, or the syntax is awkward, it will hang up the talent, too.
  4. Choose talent that doesn’t work regularly in your targeted markets. They will help your spot pop. Get the best talent you can afford, and don’t automatically accept what the studio or radio station has to offer. Otherwise, be contrarian in your selection. If your competitors sound like the local radio announcers, use an ethnic voice. If they tap male announcer types, hire a female actor who can make a casual delivery.
  5. Most spots that aren’t for auctioneer services should be written short. While 130 words for a 60-second spot is fairly common, we prefer 110 to 120. Why? That’s a normal speaking tempo for a homosapian, and it gives the producer room to place sound effects most effectively.
  6. Silence is your secret weapon. Use it before an important copy point, which should not be a phone number. We need to keep our customers alive, and prevent them from using their phones while driving. Why? Different smartphones have different pairings of numbers and letters. Better yet, use an URL that’s free of homonyms (different words that sound the same).
  7. Don’t use talent with a real or fake British accent ever. Never. Just don’t do it. Hungarian. Okay. Texas redneck. Okay. Just not British.
  8. Make spots that are compatible with the formats and stations you’ve selected. This doesn’t mean you need a country music bed for a spot running on a country station. But you shouldn’t use fake or real British accents that scream, “We don’t get you!”
  9. You are speaking to one person who’s driving, listening through ear buds, or engaged in work. DO NOT YELL AT PEOPLE. The whole point of radio is to have a real conversation one on one.
  10. Music. Most advertisers use an obligatory music bed, but unless the tune reinforces the spot’s message, it’s just noise. Produce your spot dry and grab more attention.

Radio is a blast online and off. You may not have a TV budget for a base-jumping mariachi band, but you can sure do it on radio.

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Ideopia Wins Medical Marketing Awards

For 11 consecutive years, Ideopia has won heavy metal in the Aster’s, a medical and healthcare marketing competition. Our haul for 2015 was two Silvers and a Gold. We’re revved, humbled, and happy for another excuse to party. Clients? Not so much. They like awards, too, but they’re much more excited about the results.

Actual performance has little to do with most award shows, including the Aster’s. So we thought you might enjoy the real story on the marketing challenges we faced, and how we stared them down with our work.

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Silver for ophthalmic manufacturer website redesign

Bell, an ophthalmic distributor in Westville, New Jersey, won a Silver Aster for its new website.

The main goals of the web development process were to increase traffic, improve usability and flow for site visitors, implement e-commerce, and build a mobile-friendly site.

The search engine optimization (SEO) challenge was to target the site to specific locations within a two-hour drive from Bell’s headquarters. Our client’s goal is to provide personal, on-site service to his customers.

This is a heavily populated area that includes Philadelphia, Baltimore and Manhattan, and slices of other cities in Maryland and Delaware. The site now ranks in the top five on Google with all major keywords throughout the target area.

The product section, which is now an e-commerce store, contains 180 SKUs. To increase usability and readability, copy was written and rewritten for web. Bullet points, subheads, and multiple pages keep visitors from burning out on text. Our development team allocated extra time to design smooth store navigation and checkout flow.

To create churn with fresh content, a blog and an e-newsletter were added. And , thanks to a content management system (CMS), our client can make all content changes to the site himself.

The results for this project include a 125% increase in traffic, and similar increases in time spent on the site, and page views.

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Surgical microscope campaign pulls down silver

Ideopia won Silver in the Magazine Category for a print advertising campaign that introduced Haag-Streit surgical microscopes to the U.S. market. Haag-Streit, an international medical equipment and device manufacturer, is based in Berne, Switzerland. A subsidiary in Mason, Ohio, handles U.S. distribution.

The two challenges we faced were 1) creative: how do we differentiate Haag-Streit from its competitors conceptually, and 2) strategic: what is our argument for increasing brand preference? The answer was leveraging the client’s German and Swiss heritage to support its claim of superior optics.

Results? The campaign with minor alterations in copy drove demand in two markets: neurosurgery and ophthalmology.

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Tree-hugging self promotion is pure gold

Ideopia’s Treebie Squad delivers its first Treebie to client Avure Technologies.

Ideopia received a Gold Award for a self-promotion project that encouraged recycling and social responsibility. We started out with our clients by giving them a Treebie with every print job. The Treebie represents a tree Ideopia planted for them via the Arbor Day Foundation and our local Hamilton Country parks. To support the effort, we built a mini site that explains the effects of deforestation. Treebies were promoted to our clients and prospects via email, social media, public relations, and good old door to door. See video.

For us, it’s a success because it reflects our environmental values to the outside world and prospective clients. We’re proud of it, and we intend to build on it.

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