There is a lot of buzz these days about integrated advertising and marketing. But what exactly is it?

According to Rochelle Reiter, agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising, “It is the coordination and integration of all of a company’s advertising and marketing communications into a cohesive plan that maximizes the impact on customers and prospects. An integrated plan is designed to make all aspects of marketing communications (e.g., advertising, sales, marketing, PR and online) work together as a unified and integrated force, rather than allowing each component to function independently.”

To be successful and produce the needed return on investment, an integrated plan must have senior management buy-in.

“It’s important that a company’s leaders understand and comprehend the goals and objectives of an integrated campaign and are aligned on the strategy and messaging,” notes Wes Phillips, also an agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising. “Staff and outside resources need management’s support during the creation and implementation process, along with sufficient time and budget resources. If the resources are not made available, the integrated strategy will not be perceived as a priority.”

Smart Business asked Reiter and Phillips what steps a company should take to ensure a successful integrated strategy.

Why should a company make an integrated strategy a priority?

First of all, an integrated strategy helps to clearly differentiate your company from the competition. If all of your messages are consistent, your target prospects will understand what your brand stands for and what sets you apart. An integrated strategy also creates credibility. When your messaging is consistent across multiple media platforms, it establishes the impression that your brand is reliable and that there is little perceived risk in buying your products.

Another benefit is increased return on investment. When your advertising and marketing are integrated, each message across the various mediums leverages the next, thereby stretching your dollars to create a synergistic payoff. Overall, marketing costs are lower because you are not reinventing the wheel every time you need to develop a new ad, launch a new campaign, etc. For example, you can leverage your core campaign theme and copy messages and photography across different media to get more mileage out of your initial investment.

Your internal staff benefits as well. An integrated advertising and marketing strategy will help your team understand and become aligned on overall company objectives. This will prevent one department from coming up with an idea, implementing it and never communicating it with the rest of the company. In other words, an integrated approach helps you avoid a fragmented strategy, which results in confusion and lost market share.

How can a company get started on its plan?

First, define your business and marketing objectives for the short, mid, and long term. Next, conduct market research and define the target demographic. Who are your prospects, where are they, what are their habits and what are their unmet needs? Then, the core brand messages can be developed. After the brand messages are developed, the next step is to research which media vehicles and tools are available and which would be most effective for reaching your target audience. You then determine the personnel and monetary resources needed, which will assist with developing the advertising budget. A key consideration will be whether you will develop and manage the plan in house or outsource it to a full-service integrated advertising and marketing firm.

What internal resources are needed?

Fundamental to the success of an integrated marketing strategy is a strong, capable and motivating marketing leader. Then the organization’s senior management or leadership team needs to determine if internal staff has the depth, creativity and savvy to generate an integrated plan and implement it effectively and consistently. Because of the extensive demands an integrated strategy has on internal staff, many companies use outside resources such as freelance copywriters and artists to complement their team. However, when strategic thinking is required, an outside marketing or advertising firm can be used to help develop the brand platform and the overall integrated advertising platform.

How is an integrated plan managed?

Someone (usually the marketing leader recommended above) from inside the company needs to own the plan, monitor all activity and manage it for success. If the integrated strategy is not managed properly, fragmentation will occur. Some companies think that once the plan is launched, there is nothing left to do. However, even if you’re working with an outside firm, you still need to communicate with them on a regular basis throughout your sales cycle. That might be once a week, once every two weeks or once a month. A strategic marketing calendar is a helpful tool for managing the plan. This document summarizes in one place the brand, the themes, the events, the media platforms and the budget for a stated period of time — usually one year. It can be used to evaluate progress and can be adjusted based on new circumstances, information and results that are achieved.

WES PHILLIPS and ROCHELLE REITER are the agency principals of Orange Label Art + Advertising. Reach them at (949) 631-9900 or wphillips@orangelabeladvertising.com or rreiter@orangelabeladvertising.com.

Insights Marketing & Advertising is brought to you by Orange Label Art + Advertising

Published in Orange County

It takes a lot of time and effort to create, implement and manage a powerful brand, but the payoffs are significant.

“A well crafted and well managed brand helps you distinguish yourself among the competition,” says Rochelle Reiter, agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising. “It motivates customers and prospects to do business with you.”

The end result? Higher gross profit margins, more net profit, and a much stronger, competitive company that creates a high return on investment for the owner(s).

“Many companies struggle with coming to grips with their own individual brand. But it doesn’t have to be painful,” adds Wes Phillips, also an agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising.

Orange Label itself underwent a rebranding process five years ago. “After more than three decades of success, we rebranded so we would be viewed as a valuable and relevant marketing resource versus just another advertising agency. That informed how we changed our name, logo and positioning to clearly identify what sets us apart: our integrated focus,” Phillips says.

“After five years, not only is our name and identity different, the makeup of our staff is different, our services are different, and how we deliver those services is different,” Phillips notes. “The net effect is that we have expanded to a more diverse client base. The changes have improved profits, but, most importantly, our clients are more successful.”

Smart Business asked Reiter and Phillips about how companies can go about creating powerful brands.

What are the components that comprise a brand?

There is no black-and-white definition of a ‘brand.’ A brand encompasses all the thoughts and feelings that prospects and customers have about an entity. A person can be a brand. For example, a celebrity has his or her own brand, personality and value — good, bad or indifferent. A brand is not just a logo, but can involve all the senses as well. Someone might hear a jingle or see a symbol such as the Nike swoosh and relate it to the brand. The key is to recognize that brands are driven by emotions — people have emotional relationships to brands. They buy things that make them feel something positive, so the purchase is emotionally gratifying.

What does a brand mean internally?

The brand informs a company or organization’s overall strategy. A brand serves as an internal compass, guiding the strategic direction of the company and culture. All employees should be trained on the brand, embrace the brand and behave in ways that reinforce the brand.

Why is a powerful brand so important?

A powerful brand distinguishes the product, service or company from the competition; creates additional perceived value; emotionally motivates people to buy; and translates into more market share and better profit margins. At the end of the day, it will dictate what someone is willing to pay for the product or service.

If the brand is not seen as powerful, it can be viewed as a commodity. When a company is viewed as a commodity, rather than a distinctive product or service, the consumer has no compelling reason to buy, other than price.

What should be taken into consideration when developing a brand?

Take the time to ensure team alignment on: who you are, where you are going and why customers and prospects should do business with you. There is also value in engaging with your external audiences to capture their authentic perceptions of your products or services.

Be sure to identify your company or organization’s niche; being all things to all people does not produce the best result. Be aware of strengths and weaknesses and really home in on what the company or organization does well — what people can get and experience from you that they can’t elsewhere. Have the brand permeate every part of your business. Let it guide your goals, objectives and strategic plan. Be sure to link the brand to the emotional benefits.

You’ll also want to develop your identity visually to bring the brand to life, but underneath it all is the core brand message. All of the tangible things — your logo, promotional and marketing materials, advertising — need to always be consistent with that message.

When is the right time to refresh a brand or rebrand completely?

The answer to when to rebrand is not clear cut. If a brand is proactively managed, it should naturally evolve so that as changes occur with your company, customers or marketplace, your brand will evolve as well. However, it may be time to rebrand if faced with one of the following circumstances: 1) you’re facing competitive pressures from someone who is gaining more market share; 2) your target demographics think or feel differently about your brand than they used to; 3) you’ve made significant changes internally such as a name change, ownership change or acquisition. A thriving brand leader will proactively manage the brand as an ongoing activity and consider it as an integral part of the business strategy.

WES PHILLIPS and ROCHELLE REITER are the agency principals of Orange Label Art + Advertising. Reach them at (949) 631-9900 or wphillips@orangelabeladvertising.com or rreiter@orangelabeladvertising.com.

Published in Orange County

A realistic and in-depth understanding of who a company’s customers and prospects are is the foundation on which all business and marketing strategy is built.

“Many times entrepreneurs have an intuitive sense of who their customers are — and this should not be discounted; however, as a company grows, that perception can become detached from reality,” says Wes Phillips, agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising. “Therefore, companies need a system in place that not only identifies the quantitative and qualitative profiles of prospective customers but also identifies the types of messages they will respond to.”

“This understanding helps a company develop powerful messages that reach the right people and motivates them to take action so you can increase sales  and generate greater profits and more market share,” adds Rochelle Reiter, also an agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising.

Smart Business asked Phillips and Reiter how companies can better understand their customers and prospects and leverage this knowledge to increase the bottom line.

How does a company go about gathering market research?

Depending on the size of the company and resources available, there are many ways to obtain this information. The main types available include formal market research, focus groups, online market research and informal research. The first step is to determine which method is most appropriate for the specific business and current circumstance. This can be done by meeting with various market research companies and or marketing firms to get a sense for what is available.

What are the main forms of market research?

The traditional approach, which requires a significant budget, is to conduct formal market research. This approach requires investment in terms of time and money. It will take 3 to 12 months to gather the data and incorporate the findings into a marketing plan. It also will require a commitment from the senior management team to support the research, because many times the findings will be contrary to preconceived notions they may have.

Another faster, more economical way to gather information is to use focus groups. Focus groups should be facilitated by an outside resource. The data may not be statistically valid, but it is still highly relevant and actionable and the results can be known quickly.

Online market research is another option. The advantage is that the research can be completed very quickly. Companies should take caution with this approach, though, as there is some uncertainty regarding the validity of the responses. Or the questions may be so objective that subjective issues, which can surface when using a more one-to-one approach, may be overlooked.

Small and medium-size businesses often find it difficult to implement formalized and statistically valid studies and/or focus groups. Another approach is to interview 20 to 30 existing customers and 20 to 30 prospects, asking the two groups the same set of questions. This method is commonly known as informal market research. Two questions that every company should ask existing customers are ‘What would you never change?’ and ‘What would you change if you could?’ Respondents will give real-time responses, in their own words, regarding what they like about the product or service, why it’s working for them and the benefits they’re experiencing. They’ll also reveal what’s not working, why it’s not working and the missing benefits. From this information, a company’s marketing and/or creative director will be able to identify the words or phrases that are being used over and over, the way benefits are being described and the recurring themes and messages, and take that information to creatively position the emotional selling message and select the right types of media.

What should the company do when the research is finalized?

The research needs to be incorporated into the company’s strategic marketing plan, which can be produced by the internal marketing department or an outside advertising/marketing firm. The strategic marketing plan includes a communication strategy that defines the creative messaging, the media vehicles used to deliver the messages, the frequency for delivery and the desired results.

How will the data impact strategic marketing decisions?

The data acts as a catalyst for the messaging — so it impacts the entire communication strategy. It also informs how the messages are developed, guides and directs the words and images that are used, influences the media that will be used to communicate the messages and helps to determine how much budget should be allocated to achieve successful results.

What is the impact on the bottom line when businesses understand their prospects and customers?

Research will provide information that, if used, will make a company more successful. Sometimes research surfaces insights that are unexpected and may initially appear to be negative. It may reveal that a product’s real benefits are not what were initially believed. This is powerful information because it provides insight into areas that can be managed before it’s too late (e.g., perhaps the R&D budget needs to be increased or the sales department requires additional resources). This insight allows a company to go back and revisit a product or service to evolve or enhance it and improve its competitive edge. Other times, conversations with customers and prospects may provide entirely new insights to evolve messaging to stay relevant and competitive.

Ultimately, the goal is to achieve a higher ROI on marketing investments (i.e., obtain more leads that convert to sales at higher profit margins). Higher margins mean a company can afford a better sales team and better distribution channels and can provide better returns to shareholders.

WES PHILLIPS and ROCHELLE REITER are the agency principals of Orange Label Art + Advertising. Reach them at (949) 631-9900 or wphillips@orangelabeladvertising.com or rreiter@orangelabeladvertising.com.

Published in Orange County

Securing media space or time for the delivery of your advertising messages, also known as media buying, is a high-stakes endeavor. With the proliferation of options available, it has become more important than ever to select the right vehicles for getting your message out, and to make sure you have the right people making those decisions.

“Media can be bought in magazines, newspapers, television, radio, billboards, gas stations, malls, on websites, search engines and mobile phones. Media buying opportunities are popping up just about anywhere there is a possibility to connect with consumers or businesses,” says Rochelle Reiter, agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising.

“You want to make sure that the internal team or outside firm making the media buying decisions has experience with all types of today’s media options, knows how to negotiate and understands marketing and creative strategy,” adds Wes Phillips, also an agency principal with Orange Label Art + Advertising.

Smart Business asked Reiter and Phillips how companies can get the best bang for their media buck.

What is the strategic role of media buying?

Media buying is strategic because it is where a significant amount of the advertising budget is spent. If care is not given to media buying, dollars are spent that produce weak results, which slows down sales volume and is discouraging to the organization. Many companies spend at least 2 percent of annual revenue on advertising, and for some businesses the amount is 10 percent or greater; this expenditure is so great that it requires careful thought about who is going to make the decisions.

What strategies are required for effective media buying?

Effective media buying begins with researching the most appropriate vehicles to reach the target demographic given a specific budget. With digital media vehicles (online, mobile, etc.) now available, knowledge of the terminology used for each medium is important. Once the media vehicles are selected, it’s necessary to determine the appropriate schedule and frequency within each medium (i.e., when that schedule is going to run and how often it will reach the demographic given a specific time period). The next step is to negotiate the schedule in terms of price and placement to ensure the best possible value and response.

Who should do the buying?

It depends on how your company is structured. If you have an internal marketing department, it can be managed internally, however, your team must have a background in both traditional and digital media. You need staff members who can keep up to date on how media can be purchased and how they are analyzed. In the past, once you learned something, the frame of reference could last for years — today, it is for months only. So you need to retain people who are motivated to stay current, and these types of individuals typically demand high levels of compensation.

You can also look to an agency to do the buying, but make sure they have the same expertise you would demand of an internal resource. An agency works with numerous companies and will know what kinds of deals others are getting on their media buys and can negotiate effectively on your behalf. If the media buying is done internally, your staff may not have a frame of reference for what other companies are doing or getting. There are also media buying services, but sometimes they can lack depth in marketing and creative strategy, so be careful.

How can a company ensure that the buy is efficient?

Analyzing the efficiency of a media buy occurs in two phases: a) pre-buy and b) post-buy. The pre-buy requires analyzing data and metrics to ensure the buy is focused and targeted at the desired demographic and negotiating the highest value for each media dollar spent. A post-buy analysis occurs after the buy has run and will show you the cost per lead and the cost per conversion, which demonstrates how effective the buy was. It will let you know whether the buy worked and will help you determine future decisions.

What is the difference between branding and direct response media buying?

Organizations have various goals and objectives at different stages in their lifecycle. One may be looking to simply generate brand awareness and others may want to generate direct response from their campaigns. Media buying to generate brand awareness involves buying more reach-based vehicles such as television (i.e., Coke or Apple buying prime-time television). Direct response buying involves buying more frequency-based vehicles such as radio, pay-per-click Google ads or cable television. Direct response advertising can often be identified by the specific call to action, repeated multiple times.

How does media buying fit into an integrated marketing and advertising plan?

Effective media buying is only one component of an integrated marketing plan. For the media buy to be effective and achieve marketing objectives, such as generating brand awareness or moving people to action, the marketing message must be compelling. Developing powerful marketing messages involves researching the target demographic and understanding how to craft a unique and relevant story that resonates with the target demographic — and then determining the best vehicles to deliver those messages so they motivate targets to take action.

WES PHILLIPS and ROCHELLE REITER are the agency principals of Orange Label Art + Advertising. Reach them at (949) 631-9900 or wphillips@orangelabeladvertising.com or rreiter@orangelabeladvertising.com.

Published in Orange County
Wednesday, 30 November 2011 20:01

Using digital marketing to connect with customers

Online, mobile, digital — everyone’s talking about digital marketing. But is your business or organization using it?

“Marketers have more opportunities than ever to access prospects and customers,” says Wes Phillips, agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising. But until you understand how these tools specifically work for your company, don’t run and put all of your advertising budget into digital. You need to take the time to learn how the digital channel of communication is going to work for your business — how it’s going to fit into your existing marketing strategy.”

“Digital should be viewed as part of an integrated plan. Do your research first and have an appropriate strategic approach,” adds Rochelle Reiter, also an agency principal with Orange Label Art + Advertising. “You need to understand your customers’ mindset — how they are accessing information. Then you can adjust your messaging and develop distinct campaigns for both online and mobile platforms.”

Smart Business asked Phillips and Reiter how businesses can be sure they’re taking the right approach when moving forward with digital marketing.

What recent advancements and/or tools in online marketing and advertising should businesses be aware of?

Today, in addition to traditional websites viewed on desktops, consumers are seeking information about businesses via mobile devices (smart phones and tablets). Both desktop and mobile bring new opportunities to marketers through the use of social media, apps, and online video — just a few of the many vehicles available to help businesses connect with customers and prospects. The advertising models have also evolved with digital and mobile to include the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) method (versus impression) so that you are paying only for the people who are seeking out what you offer. This has proven to be very effective for direct response advertisers. Also, there are measurability tools, such as Google Analytics, so an advertiser can understand which strategies are working and which ones aren’t.

How is the increase in mobile devices affecting marketing and advertising?

Approximately 60 percent of mobile phones today are smart phones. Mobile isn’t replacing the desktop, it’s providing another way to connect to prospects and customers. By the end of 2011, 25 percent of all searches will be mobile. When someone reaches out for information on their mobile device, they should be able to access information easily and find the most pertinent information about your business. This holds particular importance with local businesses such as restaurants, and is extremely effective for retail advertisers. Having a powerful mobile strategy entails ensuring that your website is mobile friendly, that your messaging is tailored to the mobile device and that you have specific ad campaigns targeted at the mobile user.

How can a business determine what digital marketing strategies are right for them?

It all begins with understanding your customers and how they access information. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. When you understand your customers’ behavior patterns, it will lead you to the answers. Do research to a) know who your prospects and customers are, b) find out how they intellectually and emotionally perceive your product or service and c) make sure that you’re using the appropriate media vehicles to connect with them. A simple way to gather this information is to take a sample group of prospects and customers and ask them these questions, along with inquiring about how they would like to receive your information. Then, an integrated plan can be developed with a customer-centric focus.

Who handles the actual work involved with digital?

It is very easy to get sucked into do-it-yourself digital. Every business owner is bright enough to do their own income tax return; the same holds true with digital. Yet, the more prudent approach would be to have someone experienced on staff to manage the initiative or to hire a freelancer or another outside resource with expertise in both digital marketing and marketing strategy.

When you are unfamiliar with all the terminologies and how the media channels can be used, it’s easy to be swayed. Just because someone understands the technology doesn’t mean he or she will understand your marketing objectives and how your prospects are persuaded, motivated and moved to action — and how to combine all of that to create messages that will produce results in the digital realm.

What special considerations should a business take into account?

From a digital perspective, you have an audience’s attention far longer than with other forms of media. When online, the prospect or customer is already searching, so transparency is critical. Make sure all of your digital information is current, accurate and relevant.

For many businesses, the ongoing investment in the website component can be quantified as the expense of an additional full-time, low-cost employee. For about $10 an hour, this ‘digital employee’ will work for you every day, every hour. And if you care for it through SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and back end support and ensure the website is relevant (regular updates and enhancements) it will perform not like an entry level employee, but as a 24/7 VP of marketing to a) attract more prospects and b) generate sales at higher margins. It’s a modest investment that will pay a big return.

WES PHILLIPS and ROCHELLE REITER are the agency principals of Orange Label Art + Advertising. Reach them at (949) 631-9900 or wphillips@orangelabeladvertising.com or rreiter@orangelabeladvertising.com.

Published in Orange County

There’s an old saying that nothing can happen until a sale is made. Certainly sales is not the only area of business that needs to be addressed while working toward building profits, but because of the urgency of today’s economic times, sales are top of mind for CEOs everywhere.

“If you’re trying to make an immediate impact in your company and build momentum toward growth, sales is a perfect place to begin,” says Wes Phillips, Orange Label Art + Advertising.

Smart Business asked Phillips and Rochelle Reiter, agency principals at Orange Label Art + Advertising, to clarify who is responsible for what when a company’s sales are on the line, and how those roles can best prepare their organization for success.

What are the CEO’s responsibilities in regard to sales?

The CEO has a responsibility to 1) drive profit and build value as it relates to the sales function – to ensure the right team is in place and supply support so there can be strong sales at higher margins; 2) ensure that the existing customer base is immune to the activities of competitors; 3) put systems in place for managing ongoing sales to the existing base; and 4) create a selling environment that combats commodity selling.

The first and fourth areas are the places where CEOs can make a difference right now.

How can a CEO evaluate and maximize the sales team’s activities?

The quickest way is to go on a sales call and let the salesperson do all the talking. Listen to what they are saying not only from a content standpoint, but also in terms of delivery. Is he or she confident? How are objections addressed? Spend a full day or week in the field to get a sense of what is going on in the market and what the reps are doing and how it’s resonating, and then go back and retool or refine the script. You may even identify things about the product itself that need improvement.

When you return to the office, consider what is ‘working’ in the field. Define what ‘working’ means, and then create SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals with and for the team. Put the goals in place and measure them on an ongoing basis. Even if the salespeople are engaged, there may be a gap between what they are achieving and what the objectives are. So be sure the goals are clear and that you’ve communicated them to the entire team.

How can the CEO ensure that the sales team is equipped with the most effective tools and materials?

The first step is to ask them what they need. It might be more traditional tools such as brochures or one-page fliers. Or it might be digital tools, such as e-newsletters — anything that can promote constant contact with customers and prospects. They might need a better database to draw from and for following up with prospect. Maybe they need to be better backed with a solid brand identity, better sales support, or advertising and marketing.

When asked what they need, salespeople will almost always say ‘lower prices.’ That is to be expected, but it’s rarely the thing to be managed first. Keep the focus on what you can do to keep leads warm and how you can equip the team to make contact last longer.

What is the role of the VP of sales or head of the sales department?

It’s up to the CEO to give accountability standards to the VP of sales, who is then responsible for developing the tactics. This person collaborates with salespeople and monitors their activity; identifies and addresses any performance gaps; ensures that salespeople are matched up with the appropriate accounts; ensures the efficiency of the farming cycle and works to improve it; works to increase the number of leads within the existing budget and the number of conversions; identifies purchase and buying trends in the market; and consistently interviews for new salespeople to ensure that the pipeline of talent is never empty.

The VP of sales is also responsible for training, recognition, and keeping the team motivated and productive. He or she should create an environment that is encouraging and that defines and rewards success.

What is the best way to shift the culture toward cultivating sales or new business?

Share new business with the entire team. Celebrate successes. Recognize areas for improvement. Hold brainstorming sessions across departments and ask for ideas to generate sales. Develop incentive programs — not just for salespeople, but for all employees. Make sure the team is generating new sales from the existing base and that your customers know everything you offer. Look at the systems in place in every department and identify ways to streamline them so they don’t get in the way of making sales.

Make it easy to buy from you. The net result will be happier, more loyal customers and your salespeople will have more time to sell.

WES PHILLIPS and ROCHELLE REITER are the agency principals of Orange Label Art + Advertising. Reach them at (949) 631-9900 or wphillips@orangelabeladvertising.com or rreiter@orangelabeladvertising.com.

Published in Orange County