How to Decide: PR, Marketing or Branding?

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Poodle Mafia Marketing Branding PR for Startups Movements and Personalities - Miss Piggy Quote

At Poodle Mafia, we offer those services to our clients, but sometimes we find our clients think they need one thing when what they actually need is another. So what’s the difference and when should you use each as a strategy.

In truth, your business probably needs ongoing campaigns for each of those, but breaking it down helps prioritize.

What’s the difference between marketing, branding and PR?

 

Branding: Building Loyalty and Affinity

Many people think creating a logo is the extent of branding, but nothing could be further from the truth. Your brand is your company’s personality.

Branding drives the emotional response your audience has to your message and brand. Branding means having a solid understanding of your audience, their emotional triggers. Branding will touch every single thing you do in marketing and PR too. Think about your social media voice – is it sassy or supportive? That’s a branding decision.

A strong brand has a clear voice and gives their customers something they can self-identify with. When your brand fits into their self-story of how they seem themselves you’ll increase affinity and loyalty. The strongest brands have simple identities that rarely change. Think: Coca-Cola (happiness), Apple (innovation) Lady Gaga (acceptance). The strongest brands also always consider their brand when making big decisions (is this consistent with our brand and our customer’s expectations of us?)

All of the below-mentioned tools will support a brand initiative, the biggest key to a branding initiative is to be sure your company has complete clarity on the audience, key messages, and the desired emotional connection. Branding initiatives may include a call to action, but most prominently elicit an emotional reaction or response.

  • Website: with an emphasis design and layout that matches desired emotional response
  • Content: whether 3rd party or branded, designed and selected to enhance brand’s status in the customer’s mind
  • Advertising: with an emphasis on “WHY” the brand is relevant rather than the “how or where”
  • Events: designed with imprint a memorable experience, or attach a brand to a memorable experience, in the customer’s mind, as opposed to a “lead retrieval” strategy

Marketing: Driving Leads

Acquiring leads is job number 1 for marketing. Depending on your product marketing may also be the science/artform of conversion also.
In this bucket, we find top-of-the-funnel tactics including:

DIGITAL 

  • Website: Landing pages with a strong call to action
  • Content: blogging, lead magnets designed to support the customer’s buying cycle
  • Content: Webinars
  • Social Media: with a link-building and custom content emphasis
  • Email marketing: shopping cart abandonment, new product announcements, customer campaigns and promotions
  • Digital Ads: social ads and banner ads with a strong call to action for potential customers
  • Remarketing: including shopping cart abandonment and past and current customers

IN PERSON

  • Tradeshows/Festivals
  • Seminars

When to use marketing tactics:
Use marketing when your sales people are trained and ready to follow up with leads. Training your sales people to understand the lead source and where the customer is in the decision-making funnel will help increase conversion. Notice one of the key differences between marketing and branding content is the use of a strong call to action.

PR: Influence & Social Proof


PR is the art of influence and raising awareness. It’s the ultimate in social proof.

In this bucket, we find tactics like:

  • Events: brand-hosted events for customers, community or likely customers
  • Word of Mouth: campaigns that get people talking about your product, brand and key message
  • Media Relations: relationship building with journalists, writers, and bloggers with an emphasis on collaboration
  • Social Media: with an emphasis on key messaging and influencing the market

In PR you may not get editorial control, so don’t count on a strong call to action, although you may get a link or product recommendation, it will rarely come with a heavy sales action. The best PR is earned PR which means it didn’t come with a quid-pro-quo and that’s part of what gives PR enhanced credibility over marketing.

It’s not as if these tactics aren’t supportive of one another (of COURSE you can get leads from PR tactics), but your overall mix will be determined by your brand’s maturity, customers, and community among other things.

Have more questions about how and when to use these tactics? Get in touch with us. 

I’m Just Not That Into You – Choosing Social Platforms in 2017

Elegantly Aggressive Social Media Strategy and Management

What social media platforms are right for your business?

 

Choosing social media platforms. I get asked which social platform is right every single day. The answer is: “it depends.” It’s common today to launch on a platform because it’s “hot” or to question your presence on a platform because someone says the platform its “dying” but this isn’t a particularly effective strategy.

Here’s why- there is a (large) audience on many social media sites. Your goal is to get the right message in front of the right audience then engage with that audience through content and conversation.

Set the goals and strategies that work for YOU, don’t worry about what your competitor is doing. Choose your strategy and work it, work it, work it.

For the average business, it isn’t necessary to be on every single social platform, invest in a couple and do them well.

Let’s understand something: failures in social media are almost never the “platform’s fault.” The platform doesn’t “suck,” because it doesn’t work for you. Choosing your social media platforms is a balance between content, audience, and goals.  Regardless of social media platform, there are spectacular successes and flaming failures.

social media success happens for 3 reasons:

1) absolute audience clarity
2) commitment to goal and objective clarity
3) content creation that matches the audience’s motivations

That’s it. It’s that simple and it’s that complicated.

With that in mind, here are some considerations for choosing the right social platform for your business.

Objectives & Goals

You probably have numerous strategies for social media-now its up to you to decide which social media platforms are right for your business.  It’s not enough to say “we’re on social media,” because everything you do hinges on knowing what you’re trying to accomplish. It could

It’s not enough to say “we’re on social media,” because everything you do hinges on knowing what you’re trying to accomplish. It could eyeballs (branding), engagement (building community and fans) or it could be website click-thru’s (conversions), all those things are possible on social media, but they require a deep understanding of how and why your audience participates with the platform and what kind of content they engage with.

Be sure your platforms, goals and metrics are all aligned.

One platform might be a better branding platform, another might be a better engagement platform. Engagement might vary by audience on the same platform. I’ll give you an example, in broad strokes,  millennials are ON Facebook, but not highly engaged, except millennials with kids, they’re pretty engaged with the right content. Yet, I just did a campaign where our content was so spot on, millennials (with and without kids) engaged on Facebook and the brand wasn’t even on Snapchat (we break rules over here sometimes).  My point is – whatever broad strokes we point to, based on the rest of the considerations, there’s always an exception to be made.

Set clear goals and expectations and use content and the right platforms to meet those goals.

 

Audiences:

Yes, the number of active users matters, but let me put it in context for you. The 2017 Superbowl drew 111 million viewers, making it the 5th most watched Superbowl in history. It cost approximately $5M-$5.5M to run an ad during the Superbowl, and that’s just for the airtime, not including commercial conceptualization, production, etc.

So with that in mind, may I present some of the ACTIVE USER NUMBERS for social media platforms as of January 2017:

Facebook: 1,871 Million 
WeChat: 846 Million
Instagram: 600 Million 
Twitter: 317 Million 
Snapchat: 300 Million 

Snapchat, the darling of the social media world has only slightly fewer daily users than Twitter, which is occasionally called a “dying social channel.” Neither of them comes close to the number of people on WeChat. What gives? Why do people say Twitter is dying and Snapchat is hopping and no one in the US is developing WeChat content?

There are some serious problems on Twitter (bots, trolls) which Snapchat isn’t suffering from, and as Snapchat gets some of the “new shiny toy” glow, but let’s put that aside for a moment. On BOTH platforms there is an audience of an extremely sizeable daily audience – 3X the size of the Superbowl. Facebook’s daily audience size is 100X the size of the Superbowl.

So when someone tells you “no one is on that platform,” go ahead and unleash your side-eye.

Audience size matters, but quality over quantity- let’s really consider whether the platform has YOUR audience, whether your audience is engaged there.

 

Content

First and foremost, you’ve got to consider what motivates your audience to engage with content. Do they want to be entertained or informed? Highly shareable content tends to be something that your audience feels reflects their self-story, so if you want your content to be shared, consider your audience’s self-perceptions of themselves. People share content because they feel it reflects the story they want others to know about them. Someone who considers themselves geeky interacts with different content than someone who considers themselves artistic.

Do they want to be entertained or informed? Highly shareable content tends to be something that your audience feels reflects their self-story, so if you want your content to be shared, consider your audience’s self-perceptions of themselves. People share content because they feel it reflects the story they want others to know about them. Someone who considers themselves geeky interacts with different content than someone who considers themselves artistic.

Highly shareable content tends to be something that your audience feels reflects their self-story, so if you want your content to be shared, consider your audience’s self-perceptions of themselves. People share content because they feel it reflects the story they want others to know about them. Someone who considers themselves geeky interacts with different content than someone who considers themselves artistic.

Almost all platforms are diving headfirst into video and livestreaming. In platforms (like Facebook and Instagram) where video is prioritized in the feed, you’ll see video almost always out-performs other types of content, so be sure you’re considering video in the mix – especially short video. Social media has made our attention spans so incredibly brief – you have about half of a second to engage the viewer and hook them.

Regardless of content type, the key is to create content that’s in the sweet spot of your brand story and your audience’s self-story.

In short, choosing the right platforms depends on your specific mix of objectives, audiences and content. Trust me, there’s a sweet spot for you on social media, whatever platforms you choose when you “get” your audience and create the right content.

Sources: https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/

How to Inspire Advocates and Influencers in Your Marketing

Poodle Mafia Marketing, Branding and PR for Personalities, Artists - Lady Gaga Quote

Marketing to influencers and advocates is all the rage, fueled in large part by social media.
But if you’ve ever developed a campaign with influencers and/or advocates, you know it can be filled with land mines.
Part of that is what inspires advocates and influencers is different.
In the my last post about Captivation Motivations, I shared with you the secret driver you’ve already heard of behind so many of our snap decisions and just BARELY touched on rewards and lures.
But they’re actually super closely related to what’s behind our fastest decisions to click, like, join, sign up or buy.
If you’ve played an app or computer game anytime in the last 7 years, you’ve probably noticed that these games are getting more and addictive (eh, em, Candy Crush anyone?).
It’s not just better graphics and faster speeds that are making these games addictive, it’s the deeper understanding of what really motivates people to continue playing and one of those is the power of rewards.

I’m going to get to the secret successful games use in a minute, but first, I want to share something else with you.
If you’re thinking of running a give away, a promotion or even thinking of starting an app, you want to keep reading.
If you’re using digital and social media to market your brand (and I know you are), you’ll want to keep reading.
What I’m about to share with you is particularly important and will ultimately, make or break your product or promotion and even marketing relationships with influencers and advocates.

 

You Scratch My Back…Carefully.

The last time someone bought you lunch, I bet your parting words were “It’s on me next time!”
You probably said it without asking where you might go or checking your bank account or even your calendar.
You just blurted it out.
The truth is, we’re hard wired to return favors.
Think about that for a minute.
We are deeply, sincerely uncomfortable when we think we need to return a favor. Next time you run a promotion on Facebook, do a test. Ask people to like the page BEFORE entering the contest and compare that to the results if you ask AFTER you’ve given them something, even if it’s just a chance to win.
Chances are you’ll find that if you ask AFTERwards, your conversion percentage goes way up AND those people remain engaged for longer.
This is because lures trigger our sense of reciprocity.

Want to hear an old school example of this?
Ever received mailing labels from a nonprofit that you didn’t ask for?
Did you know that sending mailing labels with a request for a donation has been shown to DOUBLE donations?
And guess what? The average donation is way, way more than the value of the labels.
Why? Because reciprocity is a compelling motivation and it comes with a quirk: what we give in exchange for what we received has very little to do with the financial value of either.
You give something, ANYTHING of some value without placing a value on it, the reciprocity trigger kicks in.
This is the idea behind successful content marketing.

 

Why You Should Never Pay Your Advocates

There’s a lot of discussion today about influencer and advocate marketing.
Lures and rewards are different.
Lures give without the expectation on the givers part of receiving anything in return. That triggers reciprocity by the receiver.
Rewards are given with the expectation of the receiver to get something in exchange, so no sense reciprocity is triggered.

Rewards (generally) kill reciprocity, but they can create habits if done correctly (like training your dog).
But it’s extremely difficult for marketers to get the consistency required to create a habit. Hell, it’s hard to get the consistency required to create a habit in dog, ask anyone who’s tried.
But marketers can more easily create reciprocity, which is an extremely powerful motivation that rewards do not trigger.
Here’s the rub though: reciprocity has some limitations too.
If you offered rewards to those who were already advocating for you to do the things they were already doing, you’d begin to see that their desire to support you moving forward would be slipping.
That’s because offering a reward on contingency (do this 3X/week and receive that reward) for something someone is ALREADY motivated to do, it decreases the desire.
And unless you understood this motivational fact, you’d probably be left scratching your head about what happened.
Tread lightly with your advocates because the way you show appreciation can actually decrease their motivation if you aren’t careful.

This isn’t to say rewards aren’t effective. They can be very effective.
“Share this and receive that…” you see it all the time. That’s a reward, not a lure.
Again, ask my dogs. They know if they do something, there’s a good chance there’s a treat in it for them. That’s a reward, they’ve been conditioned to expect it.
Rewards can be very powerful tools for increasing reach.
It creates increased reach by those who AREN’T your advocates and depending on your strategy, that can be very important.
Just don’t confuse people you give a reward to as an advocate.

Time: The Biggest Reciprocity Trigger

If you’re really interested in triggering reciprocity, then you should probably do two things:
1) get to know your customer really well
2) think beyond monetary lures (discounts, coupons, even product give-aways).

The reasons for this are two-fold:
Our 90% of the brain (the oldest, largest and most primitive part of our brain) inherently knows that time is more valuable than items.
We inherently value experiences (millennials especially) more than items, so although the default is often a coupon or discount, experiences are more highly valued.
Receiving an experience from a product or brand increases reciprocity. So if you use an experience as a reward, you can trigger reciprocity.
But to offer an experience that is highly valued, you really have to know your customer. What YOU think your customer values maybe completely different than what they actually value.
In the last post, we talked about information seeking as a dopamine trigger, but it can also be a reward. So can mastery – this is the essence of gamification. Becoming good at something is it’s own reward and the longer we spend on achieving that reward, the more we value it.
Again, what your customers value may be something else all together: inclusion in a tribe, recognition or status.
All these things can be valuable rewards AND lures for brands.

The other thing to understand is that placing a distinct financial value on a lure (or a reward) kinks up the perceived value.
Let me give you an example:
If I invited you to dinner at my house for a homemade dinner that was wonderful (of course it would be FABULOUS), but then I spent all night talking about how much I spent on buying the ingredients of the dinner, two things would happen. 1) you would view the dinner as a sum of parts rather than it’s whole value of time, effort and community and 2) you probably wouldn’t feel a sense of reciprocity at all, no matter how fabulous the dinner was.
Don’t force your influencers OR your advocates to view your rewards or lures as a sum of parts by involving money too heavily; it kills goodwill AND reciprocity.
If you’re going to use rewards or lures, remember, make it something the customer values and think about how to make more valuable than money.

Here’s the bottom line: use rewards for influencers and lures for advocates.

Can you think of a time when a marketing strategy with lures or rewards turned you off? Share them with me here or in social media, it’s a fascinating discussion I love hearing about.

 

 

About the Captivation Motivations:

The Captivation Motivations are all built around what I call our “other 90%” of our brain. The part of our brain that is the oldest and most developed part of our brain.

I didn’t make up the Captivation Motivations, I’ve simply been studying them and their effects for the last four years. I’ve been testing them in my strategies and tactics, reading and writing about them.
Simply put, these motivations are not some flash-in-the-pan-do-whats-trendy-now strategy, these are strategies which trigger reactions from the oldest part of our brain.  Over the last few years, more and more has been understood about these motivations. But one thing is clear: despite the fact that these motivations developed in the earliest days of humanity’s survival of the fittest experiences, these motivations are very much alive and well today. What triggers them in the modern world is just different than what triggered them in our earliest evolutionary days.