ALL Brand Relationships Affect the Bottom Line

When we think of brand relationships, we most often think about Marketing and Sales.

Marketing manages the relationship between the brand and the consumer, and the Sales team is responsible for the relationship between the brand and the retailer.  These two relationships really drive bookings, sell-through and even re-orders.

Every department should focus on the relationships that they are building and how they interact with each other. Brand Relationships

  1. Field Service Reps (FSR) – I am cheating here a little bit, because an FSR most often falls under the umbrella of Marketing.  These tech reps are on the road daily, and are the friendly face of a brand or business. They manage relationships with retail staff as well as the end consumer at events. This truly drives sell-through and repeat orders.
  2. Customer Service Reps (CSR) – CSRs manage the retailer relationship from bookings to shipment release to repeat orders. A good CSR is able to do suggestive selling when there are back orders or holes in inventory. Plus, they manage the sales rep relationship to increase sales on the back end.
    We had worked with a company that spent a lot of marketing dollars, but yet had the worst CSR team I have ever met.  They were considered the lowest on the org chart, and it showed. Their morale was low, and they treated customers on the other end of the phone line with disrespect.  As a ‘marketing supplier’ I was frustrated, because it didn’t matter how much in marketing dollars were spent, if the brand experience for the end customer was going to be a terrible experience. One negated the other.
  3. Credit – How a customer/retailer feels during the process of setting up an account, fixing warranty issues, or collecting payments sets the tone for the long-term relationship.  If a credit clerk makes it difficult or treats the customer like a number there is a bad brand experience. This is an opportunity to find out their circumstances, make it personal and make the relationship sustainable.
  4. Finance – This is more about internal relationships. How an accounting department manages efficiencies in all departments can increase the ROI. When every person feels like they are making a difference in how a business is run and can see the benefits, they will work together towards a common goal.
  5. Operations – This is the most forgotten relationship. Proper management of product shipments and inventory keeps everyone happy, from CSRs, to sales reps to retailers and  to the end consumer. How suppliers are treated has a trickle-down effect throughout an organization making everyone feel valuable.

It is about making it easy to do business with your company no matter who is on the receiving end of the relationship.  Even a bad situation can be made better by a cheerful attitude and by being a solution based organization.  When word gets out that you are a business that respects relationships, you will not only have your pick of the talent pool, but you will have created the recipe for success. Don’t forget – it starts at the top!

Make it easy to do business!

Download the PDF: Brand Relationships Affect the Bottom Line


Social Media Simplified

Identify and Understand Your Audience to Create Content that Connects.

Social Media Simplified

  1. Identify social platforms that fit your audience.
    One size does not fit all and setting up an account on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram does not give you instant success. If your audience is visual, then Instagram may be your best choice. If your audience likes to write or research reviews while being a part of a private community then perhaps Facebook is your better choice.
    You may even determine that there is a different target audience for different platforms. For example, you may decide to reach the “Mom Community” on Facebook, but the ‘Millennial” on Instagram.
  2. Identify the message that fits your target audience.
    Your overall messaging may be great for your current audience but may not fit if you are targeting a new growth opportunity. You may need to fine tune the message so that it connects with the new audience.  For example, your product may be based on a “comfort story” that allows you to talk about your proprietary technology. Depending on your audience, you could talk about the innovation behind the technology, or on the flip side you could talk about the lifestyle that the technology enables.
  3. Identify the storytelling tools that best deliver the message to your audience.
    Does creating stop gap videos get your message across the best, or does a series  of photos tell the best story?  Perhaps it is about developing an ambassador program where your fans tell your story for you.  Whether it is the creation of a whitepaper, or writing a blog post, or going on a photo-shoot, always ask yourself what the audience wants to know.
    If you don’t know the answer – ASK.  Ask your audience what they want to see or read. They will be happy to be a part of the process and feel like they are a part of your brand.

Regardless of who your audience is, you need to gain an understanding of where your audience consumes media and how they like to engage with brands.


Blog Post: Do you have the right Instagram Followers?

Do you have the RIGHT Instagram Followers?

Do you spend too much time being envious of those Instagram accounts that have tens of thousands of followers? Don’t be.

Do you get disheartened with the people who follow you just to unfollow 2 days later? Don’t be.

It does NOT matter the # of followers as long as you have the RIGHT followers.

Are your followers local to your business? If your small retail business is in Oakville, ON and 85% of your followers are from the US, those followers are not the right followers.

Instagram Insights - The Right Followers

The RIGHT followers will:
– Give you consistent likes and meaningful comments and feedback on your posts
– Be local to your business

See above photo of the Instagram Insights for @HTdesignsca . We only have 600 followers in 5 months, but we are happy with that. The majority of our followers are from the GTA – Toronto, Hamilton, Oakville, Burlington, Mississauga. This did not happen by chance.

Get the RIGHT followers without spending a fortune on ads.
– Use local hashtags ie/ #burlon – People who are also using that hashtag will
find you, and you can also search and follow people using that same hashtag.
– Follow and chat with other local businesses, and like-minded individuals
– Engage with your followers in an authentic way and you will see your account grow

Remember that if you want likes and comments, you have to reciprocate and do the same to others. Be authentic, and create real relationships.

Path of Brand Adoption

The journey of a fan from brand discovery to purchasing a product for the very first time to becoming a loyal ambassador is very important to the marketing planning process.

This concept is built with 3 key objectives in mind: EDUCATE. ENGAGE. EMPOWER.

Path of Brand Adoption - The Journey of Brand Discovery

If you are a young brand, your marketing will be heavier with tactics involving educating and engaging potential fans. If you are an established brand, your tactics will lean towards engaging and empowering your fans to tell your story in an authentic way.

Every brand’s tactics will be different, but each will target a different customer who is at a different point in their journey.

Interested: Introduce your brand to a new target customer and educate them about the reasons they should try out your product or service. Possible tactics: Media Preview Event for articles and product reviews / Media Ads / Banners Ads on industry sites

Research and Purchase: This is about giving the potential customer all the information they need to make that initial purchase. Possible tactics: Website with product specs and stats / Product reviews / Email highlighting product launch / Facebook Page with product reviews / Customer Service

Fan:  The customer has bought the product and loves it, so they dive deeper into the brand to find out more. Possible tactics:  Blog posts / Videos / Social Feeds / Industry Events

Community: The fan is ready to go deeper and wants to chat with like-minded individuals who are also fans of your brand and your experience. Possible tactics:  Social Platforms / Branded Events / Giving Back Partnerships

Ambassador: The fan has become a loyal customer, and tells everyone about your brand. Empower them with ways to become a true influencer of your brand. Possible tactics: Seeding Product / Loyalty Reward Program / Social Takeovers

The brand experience is important through EVERY step of the customer’s journey, and yet businesses often are so focused on trying to get new customers, that they forget about the ones that they already have.

Educate. Engage. Empower.

To download your chart, visit: Toolkit – Path to Brand Adoption

Visit our website to learn how we can help your brand come to life!

What Creates The Total Brand Experience?

Build relationships with retailers and consumers through multiple touch-points to create the TOTAL brand experience.

The Brand Experience Diagram

Displays: Floor, wall or table-top displays have been proven to increase sales by upwards of 45% or more. Having a section that stands out from the clutter will have people looking at your product before the competitors.
Promotions: In-store contests or a Gift with Purchase (GWP) is a great way to introduce your brand or product to new customers as well as build brand loyalty.

Sales Tools and PKs
Kits and product knowledge sessions for the floor staff give the tools and education they need to sell your product with confidence. Creating sales incentives will keep your brand and product top of mind with the sales team.

Seeding your product to the right influencers will drive word of mouth business, build product reviews online and create photography for social feeds.
For example, if your product is for a specific industry such as Kayaking, develop relationships with Kayak instructors and organizations/clubs.If the instructors love the product and wear it on the job, they will recommend your product to each of their students.

PR and Media
Building relationships with media will help tell the right story and will build trust with retailers and your potential fans.
Co-op/MDF: Local advertising helps drive traffic into the retailer to find your product. Brands and retailers usually split the cost of a MDF program 50-50 up to 5% of their total bookings (orders). This is a great way to support your retailer and help drive sell-through plus ensure an increased booking the following season.

Digital Storytelling
Create a digital asset kit for your retailers so that they can post your brand’s stories on their website and social accounts, as well as be used for in-store screens.
Social Currency:
Create innovative storytelling that allows fans to engage with your brand in a different way and allows new fans a sense of discovery.

Creating brand activations at a local event in a community or at one of your retailers helps build brand awareness and brand loyalty.

Future blog posts will expand on each of these touch-points to give you ideas of what you can do create your TOTAL brand experience.

(Original Post : October 2012 / Revised December 2016)

5 Reasons Why You Should Not Skip Creating Wireframes For Your New Website

What are Wireframes?  It is a simple layout that outlines the specific size and placement of  site features, page elements, call-to-action areas (CTAs), and navigation of your site.  They are devoid of colour, font choices, logos, graphics, or any real design elements that can take away from focusing on the site’s structure and functionality.

Wireframe Examples

5 Reasons Why Wireframes are so Important to the Web Design Process:

  1. Wireframes Display Site Architecture Visually
    Wireframes take the sitemap and converts it into a visual framework that ensures all parties are on the same page before design and development begin.
  2. Wireframes Focus on Functionality and Priority of Content
    Creating wireframes forces everyone to look objectively at a website’s functionality, behaviour and priority of content. Wireframes will point out flaws in the site architecture and navigation.
  3. Wireframes Allow for Clarification of Features 
    Clients may not understand your jargon (ie/ Hero Image / CTAs / User     Experience…) so wireframing provides a clear communication to a client about how these features will function and where they will live on any specific page. Often prototyping or showing live examples of features allows the client to make an educated decision on whether that feature is the right experience for their customers.
  4. Wireframes Help Identify How Content Growth will Affect the Design
    Your website needs to accommodate growth of your business without impacting design, architecture or functionality. Wireframing lets you plan out how additional products and services will affect the layout and behaviour.
  5. Wireframes Save Time and Money 
    Wireframes avoid misunderstanding with the design team, and the development team. They allow clients (and other team members) to provide feedback earlier in the process, so that changes are not being made to full design mock-ups or after programming has been done, saving on additional costs to the entire project.

Once the wireframes are signed off on by all parties, they are then used as the base for the graphic design team as they take the content and creatively build out the brand experience.

Related Blog Posts:
Why a Responsive Website?


What is a Key Performance Indicator?

Key Performance Indicator (KPI) definition:  A business metric used to evaluate factors to determine the success of the key objectives of a marketing plan, event, or campaign.

Analytics - Metrics

For KPI’s to be useful, they need to be monitored, reported on and analyzed on a regular basis.

Best Practices:
1. Aligned with the business goals of your entire organization.
2. Well defined and quantifiable
3. Insights from the KPi’s should be actionable.
4. The measurements you choose should be easy to obtain.

What should you be tracking?
Sales Revenue from Inbound Marketing Campaign
Customer Acquisition Cost (Cost per lead)
Web Traffic Conversion Rate
Campaign Landing Page Conversion Rate
Social Media Conversion

I often get the question though, “What KPIs can we put in place if we are attending an event, and our main objective is brand awareness?”.  No matter how small the campaign or business, there is always a KPI that can be put in place to judge whether it was the most effective use of your time and money. You have to have goals in place BEFORE the event. Just looking at the stats afterwards is meaningless, as you won’t know if you reached the performance you needed to make it worthwhile.

Here are some examples:
# of overall attendees at event
# of attendees to come into your booth
# of participants in your activation (ie/ photobooth / contest)
# of email signups
# of app downloads
# of uses of your event hashtag
# of promo codes used
% Increase of traffic to your website and even more specifically Increase in UNIQUE visitors to your site
% Increase in followers of your social profiles during and immediately after the event
$s generated at event or immediately following the event
Cost per lead

Marketing Action Plan Worksheets – Download Toolkit